Cardinal rebukes 500 priests for going to the press with call to resist change to church teaching

March 26, 2015 by admin  
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Synod on the FamilyEngland, March 24, 2015: Cardinal Vincent Nichols has rebuked the almost 500 priests in England and Wales who have signed a letter resisting any change to church teaching at the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family in October, saying that discussions between priests and bishops ahead of the gathering are “not best conducted through the press”.

Almost 500 priests in England and Wales have signed a letter calling on the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family to proclaim the Church’s “unchanging” moral teaching and resist any move allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The 461 priests endorsed a letter, reported earlier this month by The Tablet and published in the Catholic Herald, that was initiated by a group of a dozen conservative-minded clergy. The 12 had circulated a letter and a covering note to priests in England and Wales. The note invited priests to sign the letter that was composed for publication in the press.

The letter expresses fidelity to the Church’s traditional doctrines of marriage and sexuality, and affirms the traditional discipline “regarding the reception of the sacraments” (which bars Communion for the divorced and remarried).

The covering note to the letter contended that the media’s reporting of the 2014 synod had left a “distorted sense” that the Church’s moral teaching could be changed.

The letter with 461 signatories appeared on the Catholic Herald website on Tuesday. One signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Catholic Herald there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Nichols issued a statement saying every priest in England and Wales has been asked to reflect on the synod discussion and that their pastoral experience and concern are of “great importance”. He added, however, that the “dialogue between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”

The number of signatories to the letter totals around 12 per cent of priests in England and Wales. There are currently around 3,000 active diocesan priests and 1,000 religious priests. The signatories include religious but do not say whether priests are retired or not. There are around 800 retired clergy.

The 12 priests who initiated the letter include the Dominican theologian Fr Aidan Nichols, who in a letter to The Tablet this week writes: “[The] nuptial relation between husband and wife embodies in sacramental form the bond between Christ and his Church-Bride. How, then, in the lifetime of a still recognised spouse can a household with a second (or third, etc.) partner present itself, in a “domestic church’ manner, at the Table of the Lord?”

Other priests supporting the letter are: Fr Julian Large, provost of the London Oratory, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke of St Patrick’s, Soho Square in London, Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest in Margate, Kent; Mgr Edwin Barnes, former Church of England bishop and a priest of the ordinariate; Mgr Gordon Read, chancellor of the Diocese of Brentwood; Fr Andrew Pinsent, research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford; Fr John Saward, a theologian who is priest-in-charge of an Oxford parish; Fr Robert Billing, spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster, Fr Roger Nesbitt, parish priest of St Bede’s in Clapham, south London, where the old rite is regularly celebrated, and Fr Neil Brett of the Diocese of Brentwood.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who attended the last synod and will be at the next one in October, has said divorced and remarried people could be readmitted to Communion under certain conditions.

- the tablet

Who is to blame for the rise of ISIS — Bush or Obama?

March 20, 2015 by admin  
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Obama and BushU.S., March 19, 2015: President Barack Obama indirectly blamed the foreign policy of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, for the rise of the barbaric and brutal Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq.

In an interview with Vice News founder Shane Smith released on Tuesday, Obama was asked how the ISIS terrorist group, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, which has seized large chunks of Syria and Iraq, was able to become “so popular so fast.”

Obama responded saying that the group’s rise was aided by the U.S. invasion of Iraq that began in 2003 during Bush’s presidency.

“Two things,” Obama said. “One is ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion, which is an example of unintended consequences, which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who served as U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under Bush from 2002 to 2007, told The Christian Post in a Thursday interview that the president is simply looking to find somewhere else to lay the blame.

“I find that an incredible statement,” Boykin, who is the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, asserted. “Al Qaeda existed before 9/11. Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden were responsible for 9/11. The fact that Al Qaeda in Iraq, under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi emerged as a major force there is, I think, a ridiculous statement to say that they emerged there because of the invasion or that we created them.”

“The reality is that is an Al Qaeda affiliate in Nigeria that is capturing young girls and is killing people. The events in Tunisia were perpetrated by an Al Qaeda affiliate. Did we create that?” Boykin asked. “The answer is no. I think that the president is scrambling for somebody to blame.”

Boykin went on to explain that the reason ISIS has gained so much momentum is because of Obama’s own “failed foreign policy.”

“I think that one of the reasons that we are seeing them gain strength and momentum is because of failed foreign policy that has done nothing to stop them,” Boykin argued. “I think [Obama] needs to look internally at the very poor decisions that he has made and the fact that he hasn’t had a policy that in anyway has impeded their growth.”

In the Vice News interview, Obama offered assurance of his current plan to defeat ISIS with limited U.S involvement and stated that the international U.S.-led coalition will eventually defeat ISIS in Iraq.

“We got a 60-country coalition. We will slowly push back ISIL out of Iraq,” Obama contended. “I am confident that will happen.”

Although Obama is “confident” in the coalition efforts to defeat ISIS, Boykin feels there is no way ISIS will be defeated under Obama’s current strategy.

“It is definitely not going to in any amount of time destroy ISIS, no matter what he says. The pace at which we are pursuing this so-called strategy, we are not going to destroy ISIS,” Boykin argued. “The question is, could we destroy ISIS? And the answer is, it is questionable. Could we destroy them if we had an all-out campaign against them? It is questionable. But, it is for certain that at the current pace, with the current strategy, we are not going to destroy ISIS.”

Boykin offered his own strategy for defeating ISIS and said first the president needs to admit to the religious nature of the group’s war.

“To begin with, we start by our president acknowledging that ISIS is a component of Islam and that ISIS is fighting in the name of Islam, that ISIS is motivated by the theology of Islam and identifying who the enemy is and what makes them fight,” Boykin stated. “Once we do that, then we engage the Muslim communities around the world, who don’t want to be part of this grand jihad. There are many, many Muslims who don’t but they sit on the sidelines and they watch to see if we are going to take a stand, if we are going to actually recognize who the enemy is. As long as we continue to deny who the enemy is, those components of the Muslim community that also reject jihad, that rejects sharia, they are going to continue to sit on the sidelines.”

Boykin also warned against the United States providing weapons to other Islamic groups and said weapons should only be provided to groups that the United States knows it can trust.

“We [need to] arm our friends, not our enemies,” Boykin said. “We don’t arm these Islamic groups like the Free Syrian Army and the rebel groups in Libya, we arm our friends like the Kurds and the Christian militias that want to fight for themselves.”

Lastly, Boykin said that the United States should equip the U.S. Special Operations Command with everything they need to arm, train and lead trusted militia groups in the fight against ISIS.

- christian post

A box, Abandoned babies & the boy who got saved

March 18, 2015 by admin  
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The Drop BoxCalifornia, March 12, 2015: Brian Ivie, a 24-year-old filmmaker from Orange County, California, set out three years ago to South Korea to make the film to end all films. Fortunately for him, that didn’t work out. Instead, he encountered the man he now calls his spiritual father — and became a curator of this man’s powerful and profound story of sacrifice and love.

Ivie, eager and working from a script set in his mind of how things would certainly go, set out on Dec. 15, 2011, for Seoul, South Korea, with a crew of 11 (mostly friends and his younger brother, Kevin) after a simple email exchange with Pastor Lee Jong-rak.

The story that catapulted Ivie on his path was a 2011 feature about a South Korean pastor’s drop box for abandoned babies published in the Los Angeles Times:

One is deaf, blind and paralyzed; another has a tiny misshapen head. There’s a baby with Down syndrome, another with cerebral palsy, still another who is quadriplegic, with permanent brain damage.

But to Pastor Lee Jong-rak, they are all perfect. And they have found a home here at the ad hoc orphanage he runs with his wife and small staff. It is the only private center for disabled children in South Korea.

Then there was the “desperate, albeit well-meaning Kickstarter campaign” to crowdfund financing for the film project Ivie was sure would earn him an invitation to the Sundance Film Festival and position him as a film phenom.

Ivie’s Kickstarter campaign remains online, having collected $20,640 from 184 backers by Oct. 30, 2011, just two months before he boarded his first flight to South Korea.

“I remember when I read the article about him, I was instantly inspired: ‘South Korean pastor’s unwanted flock.’ And then I thought, well this is on the front page of the L.A. Times today, but tomorrow nobody’s gonna care. It was a calling. It was a command. In that moment, I knew I had to go to Korea to shoot a documentary film so the story, so the story wouldn’t die,” Ivie says in his video pitch for funding.

In the same video, even before meeting Pastor Lee, Ivie says, “This man changed my life from 6,000 miles away.”

It would turn out that Ivie was telling the truth — although he changed in ways he had not been expecting.

Convinced in the beginning that he was a Christian, because well, he grew up in America, “didn’t smoke cigarettes … went to Mass … and watched Fox News,” in the end Ivie found himself writing three letters to his father and two father figures who taught him the true meaning of the word. There was a Mark Driscoll sermon, too.

Those three letters appear at the end of the book that Ivie wrote with the help of Ted Kluck, The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever.

In the book, Ivie, once a self-described Pharisee of film who worshipped the art form as his idol, delves into the journey that changed his life. In a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process, Ivie tells how witnessing the love of Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, for children born with challenging disabilities prompted him to abandon any pretensions of fame, and compelled him to simply tell an important story.

Here is an excerpt from the letter Ivie addressed to Pastor Lee:

Pastor Lee, thank you for showing me your life before God, so I could finally understand where all the love came from. Where all the courage came from. Thank you for never taking the glory, even when you stay up all night and destroy your own body to save the cold, little ones that might be left outside.

And thank you for continuing to get up every time the bell rings.

In his letter to God, Ivie writes:

Making ‘The Drop Box’ was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I felt inadequate most of the time, like a complete failure other times, and at night wished it could stop.

God, making this thing felt like being dragged behind a chariot. It felt like scales were being ripped off of me … Making this movie went against all the childish things in me. … It force me to grow up. … Yet, I’ve also somehow become a child again. People think that means being naive and dumb, but I think it has a lot more to do with feeling helpless. It has a lot more to do with realizing just how weak and helpless I can be and how I need You even more than those children need pastor Lee.

“The Drop Box” book was released March 1, and adds a few extra layers to the documentary, which focuses fully on the Lees and the volunteers that have helped them care for the hundreds of babies left at their home. Government employees, social workers, law enforcement officials, and members of Pastor Lee’s Jusarang (or “God’s Love”) Community Church also appear on camera. They all try to explain why married couples, unwed teen girls, and others would abandon their babies, usually born with some sort of disability, on other people’s doorsteps, in an alleyway, or in Pastor Lee’s drop box. The answers are complex, honest and sad. There are laws and social services in place that should protect children and provide assistance to parents, but the stigma leveled at unwed mothers and children with disabilities sometimes proves a challenge to doing the more difficult thing — keeping their baby.

Pastor Lee, 60, doesn’t want a reward, he explains in the film.

What God has taught him through caring for his own 20-something son, Eun-man, dubbed the “boy on his back” because a severe disability has kept him bed-ridden for much of his life, has been reward enough. The L.A. Times reports that “when Eun-man was 6, Lee entered theology school to become a Christian minister.”

It was the experience of learning to love and accept a son who needs full-time care as a blessing from God that partly inspired Lee in 2009 to build a baby box, install it on the side of his three-story home, and personally embrace nearly two dozen abandoned children as his own.

“This Book Is a Song for the Suburbs”

“The Drop Box” feature-length documentary earned Ivie and his team a $101,000 cash prize at the 2013 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

Ivie told The Christian Post the week “The Drop Box” debuted nationally for a three-day run (March 3-5) in select theaters that he “immediately” gave half of the prize money to Lee.

The 24-year-old born-again Christian used the remaining half to start Kindred Image in 2013. The nonprofit supports Pastor Lee and his wife’s work with abandoned children, as well as various other causes.

As for his testimony in The Drop Box book, Ivie hopes it speaks to other suburban sinners who God wants to turn into saints.

Ivie explains what he means in the below Q&A. It was conducted via phone and has been edited for clarity.

CP: Today is the final day that “The Drop Box” is screening. Have you paid attention at all to how it’s been doing?

Ivie: Yeah, it’s been doing really really well. I don’t know the numbers from last night but I know we’re definitely heading toward 200,000 tickets sold which is pretty darn good for a [intelligible] release.

CP: What do you make of the responses to the film?

Ivie: The response has been overwhelmingly good. I think for people seeing a movie like this that is able to grapple with a lot of pain, present hope founded in Jesus Christ and yet somehow also create some sort of atmosphere where everybody feels like they can come see this movie and be a part of it, I think is really rare. You know, it’s not a movie that in anyway alienates one particular group of people or another. So I’ve been excited with the response. It just seems like people from all different backgrounds and belief systems have come out and supported the film because it shows us that we all matter and that life is not just blind to [intelligible] indifference and that there’s meaning and value to everyone’s story.

CP: Have you heard from Pastor Lee about his thoughts on the documentary? Do you plan to screen “The Drop Box” in South Korea?

Ivie: Pastor Lee is celebrating right alongside with us. We’re not having a release in Korea until later in the spring. Of course for him, this is hopefully gonna bring in a lot of support for the work that he’s doing on the ground on the frontlines, because he’s the one really in the battle.

- christian post

Brother of slain Coptic Christians thanks ISIS for including their words of faith in murder video

March 14, 2015 by admin  
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Murdered Coptic ChristiansLibya, February 18, 2015: The brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last week has thanked their killers for including the men’s declaration of faith in the video they made of their beheadings.

Speaking on a live prayer and worship programme on Christian channel SAT-7 ARABIC yesterday, Beshir Kamel said that he was proud of his brothers Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23) because they were “a badge of honour to Christianity”.

Harrowing scenes of the murders have been seen around the world. The last words of some of those killed were “Lord Jesus Christ”.

Beshir Kamel thanked ISIS for not editing out the men’s declaration of belief in Christ because he said this had strengthened his own faith. He added that the families of the ex-patriate workers are “congratulating one another” and not in despair: “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he told the programme.

He said: “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.”

The men were captured by Islamic State in December and January. Kamel welcomed the air strikes launched in response by the Egyptian government, saying: “Only the length of the time period when we didn’t know where they were justified the air strikes for us. If they had been martyred on the same day they were kidnapped, we wouldn’t have asked for any retaliation.”

Asked by host Maher Fayez what he would say if he were asked to forgive ISIS, he related what his mother said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son. “My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

Invited to pray for his brothers’ killers, Beshir prayed: “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”

Within hours of SAT-7 posting the clip on Facebook it had been viewed 96,000 times. Since then it has received over 110,000 views and been shared nearly 5,000 times.

- christian post

Senior UK monk says Religious have become too worldly

March 11, 2015 by admin  
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Religious OrdersUK, March 6, 2015: Religious orders in England have stagnated due to a drift into consumerism and preoccupation with money and finance, according to a leading historian of monastic life, reports The Tablet.

Writing in this week’s Tablet, Dom Aidan Bellenger, former Abbot of Downside, suggested that communities had made “too much accommodation with consumerist ideals of the modern world, too many credit cards, too many expensive holidays.”

He pointed out that many religious congregations have seen a steep decline in numbers and a rising age-profile among members. Among the English Benedictines, he added, the words “fragility” and “precariousness” have been commonly used and that “sustainability” remains the most critical question for all religious.

“A decline in the number of vocations has combined with the ageing of the communities, and a tendency to middle class stagnation, strangulation by comfort and gerontocracy,” Dom Aidan writes.

He said many of the problems were to do with money and finance arguing that the running of schools and parishes have taken Religious away from their foundational ideas.

Traditionally communities have run schools, parishes and other institutions, and seeking to balance the call to be contemplatives with work in the world.

- cns

A pastor’s open letter to Hozier & his ‘Take me to Church’ song

March 10, 2015 by admin  
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take me to churchMarch 6, 2015:

Dear Andrew Hosier,

I have been meaning to write this for some time but when I saw your performance at The Grammy’s it finally moved me to action. When I first heard about your song “Take Me To Church” I was intrigued. I thought it was good someone would write a song about going to church. I listened to the song, I liked your voice, I liked the arrangement and I liked the song. But then I listened again, I read the lyrics and my thoughts drastically changed. The song sounded good until the words began to sink in.

“I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies, I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife.”

“Every Sunday’s getting more bleak, a fresh poison each week.”

“That’s a fine looking high horse, what you got in the stable? We’ve a lot of starving faithful.”

Why so much hate? Lies, poison, knife. Every Sunday’s getting more bleak for the starving faithful. Really.

I had to find out more about you to understand why someone would write such lyrics. According to interviews you seem to have animus toward the Catholic Church and definitely an issue with Russia’s laws against homosexuals. Still to indict all of Christianity seems quite harsh. It is worth noting you wrote this song when you were only 22-years-old. Your fellow Irish rocker Bono has arrived at a very different view of the Church and Christianity with a few more years of life experience. Maybe given some time and a few more interactions with Christ followers you might have a change of heart.

The line, “I was born sick but I love it, command me to be well,” paraphrases the 17th century British poet Baron Brooke Fulke Greville’s Chorus Sacerdotum. You said you heard that quoted by atheist Christopher Hitchens during a debate. I wonder whom he was debating and who won? Was it a true heavyweight Christian apologist like William Lane Craig? Or did Hitchens further your disenchantment.

I should probably just let this go and trust you will get wiser with time but the popularity of your song makes that impossible. Even you admit the way the song has taken off is totally unexpected. Do people really share your sentiments or do they just like your voice and the song’s arrangement? I don’t know the answer but since the song’s message is so wrong it needs to be addressed. I feel like Julia Kadison, the CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program. After the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths she drew a line. She said, “That’s enough. We can’t have these headlines that ‘Milk Can Kill You’ and not stand up for the truth.”

It may just be a song, you may or may not be a one hit wonder but I can’t let it stand without a response. Your anger with Russia’s anti-homosexuality laws should have nothing to do with the Church. Catholics, evangelicals and other Christians are not supporting Russia’s discrimination against homosexuals. If you are upset with Russia write a song about them.

Your frustration with the Church or Christianity seems to center on sexual morality. The “stay out of the bedroom” line appears to be one of your favorites. Things don’t just stay in the bedroom. Lives get shattered because of adultery, unplanned pregnancy and disease. The Church believes sex is a gift from God. We believe you need to understand human sexuality through the lens of God’s morality.

Christians believe sex is designed for married couples, for a husband and wife to enjoy. Whenever sexual relationships take place outside of marriage there is hurt of some kind. If you don’t agree with this teaching that is your prerogative but to call it poison is absurd. The poison is the damaged relationships, the poison is the divorce, the poison is the porn addiction. The knife you speak of is not one bringing hurt or death it would be a scalpel doing surgery to bring healing and life. There may be initial pain but ultimately the life is saved. The real lies are sex requires no commitment, sex is just the act and relationship is not necessary for true intimacy.

Your high horse line would indicate you think the Church is being judgmental. But expressing the truth about sexuality is necessary. The Bible teaches right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies. There is a place for appropriate judging since moral direction is the role of the Church. Christians should not be intimidated, marginalized or silenced from speaking the truth. You are free to write and sing your music and I am free to challenge your thinking and lyrics. I hope as time goes by you will be open to learning more about the Church and Christianity. I trust you will come to see the value of Christian morality.

- christian post

Google, FB, Microsoft, Apple, Coca-Cola among 379 companies to file brief supporting of gay marriage

March 9, 2015 by admin  
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companyU.S., March 6, 2015: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Coca-Cola are among 379 companies that filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The brief asks the high court to overturn a lower court’s ban on gay marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The brief, filed by law firm Morgan Lewis on Thursday, argues that state law that prohibits same-sex marriage hampers the ability of employers to recruit and retain the most talented employees in those states.

USA Today reported that the Supreme Court is due to hear an oral argument on the Obergefell vs. Hodges case concerning whether states can ban gay marriage on April 28.

Back in November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which includes the four states, became the only federal appeals court to uphold the ban on gay marriage. Gay rights activist groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, have been running campaigns looking to lift the ban, however.

The Washington Post pointed out that the oral arguments on April 28 are scheduled to go on for two and a half hours, and will concentrate on the specific questions: “May states limit marriage to its traditional definition as only between a man and a woman, and must states recognize same-sex marriages performed where it is legal.”

The court revealed that an audio recording of the arguments will be made available.

“The court will post the audio recording and unofficial transcript as soon as the digital files are available for uploading to the website. The audio recording and transcript should be available no later than 2 p.m. on April 28,” the statement noted.

The Supreme Court has backed a number of lower court rulings that have struck down gay marriage bans, allowing same-sex couples in 37 states to get married.

High-tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft, which compete for workers with specialized skills, have publicly backed same-sex unions on a number of occasions. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who revealed that he’s gay, has urged his home state of Alabama to promote gay rights.

The long list of companies that signed the brief also includes consumer products companies, such as General Mills and Kimberley-Clark; and major banks including J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo & Co.

- christian post

Was the Apostle Paul a Misogynist?

March 6, 2015 by admin  
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PaulFebruary 27, 2015: In the modern world many people rather casually assume, or assert, that the Apostle Paul was a misogynist based upon his teachings concerning the differing roles of men and women in the church and in marriage in the early church.

What such critics fail to realize is that they are reading the Apostle Paul through the lens of a 21st century perspective, rather than the 1st century world to which Paul wrote originally.

In the first century A.D., women were considered their husband’s property, not their partner, and they had very few rights or protections. In that first century context, the most revolutionary thing about Paul’s teachings about marriage in Ephesians is that husbands were to love their wives sacrificially “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” and husbands were to nourish and cherish their wives as Christ “nourishes and cherishes” His church (Eph. 5:25, 29, NASB).

In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Christians he demonstrates the essential equality of husband and wife on the most intimate, conjugal level. He instructs the Corinthians that in marriage the husband and the wife have equal right to conjugal relations, declaring:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to the husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again. . . .(I Cor. 7:3-5a, NASB).

The parallelism is exactly equal between the husband and the wife in the Corinthian passage even though it was written in a time and a culture where wives were considered the property of their husbands.

One can only imagine the shock and consternation among many of the husbands in Corinth and Ephesus upon hearing the Apostle’s commands and admonitions. Can you not hear them exclaiming, “my body belongs to my wife sexually, you say? Has Paul taken leave of his senses?” Or alternatively, their exclamations echo across the room, “I’m to love my wife sacrificially, with a sacrificial agape love which always puts her needs before my own? I never heard of such a thing!”

Of course they had never heard that before. Such sexual equality between husband and wife had never been asserted before in any civilization before Paul, the spiritual revolutionary, enunciated it in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul was no misogynist.

So how do we explain the Apostle Paul so clearly teaching essential equality in Christ (Gal. 3: 28) between man and woman in the most intimate of relationships and yet then placing restrictions on Christian women’s roles and behaviors in his epistles?

Why should women wear veils on their heads (I Cor. 11: 2-15)? Why should “women adorn themselves in modest apparel” and “not with braided hair, or gold or pearls, or costly array (I Tim. 2: 9)”? Why were Christian women to “learn in silence” (I Tim. 2: 11; cf I Cor. 14: 34)?

The answers are to be found in the societal context within which the Apostle Paul ministered in the first century A.D.

It must be remembered that in the first century Jewish world women were “forbidden to learn the law” and “had no part in the synagogue service” being “shut apart in a section of the synagogue, or in a gallery where they could not be seen.” (William Barclay, The Letters of Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Westminster, 1975, p. 66). Yet, the Apostle Paul commands (an imperative) that women “learn” (literally “receive instruction”) in the church (I Tim. 2: 11).

First century Greek society was not more liberated than the world of first century Judaism. William Barclay describes the status of women in the first century Greek world:

The respectable Greek woman led a very confined life. She lived in her own quarters into which no one but her husband came. She did not even appear at meals. She never at any time appeared on the street alone; she never went to any public assembly. (The Letters of Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 67).

As the great 20th century Evangelical preacher H.A. Ironside put it:

Loose women in those days went bareheaded, and were found in the streets unblushingly seeking those who might be companions with them in their sin and wickedness. Women who sought to live in chastity and purity were very particular never to appear in public unveiled. The unveiled woman was the careless woman, the immoral woman; the veiled woman was the careful wife or mother who was concerned about her character and her reputation. (H.A. Ironside, Addresses on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Loizeaux Bro., Neptune, N.J., p. 326).

It must also be remembered that women often played a debased role in Greek religion.

The Temple of Aphrodite in Corinth had a thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes and every evening plied their trade on the city streets. The Temple of Diana in Ephesus had its hundreds of priestesses called the Melissae, which means the bees, whose function was the same. (Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 67).

Clearly in such a context if “Christian women had taken an active and a speaking part in its work, the Church would inevitably have gained the reputation of being the resort of loose women.” (Barclay, p. 67).

However, it should be noted that from the ancient world’s perspective – Jewish, Greek, or Roman – women played an unprecedentedly prominent role in the history of the early church from the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, onward through the Gospels and the Epistles. Paul’s fellow Apostle Peter commands husbands to give “honor” to their wives “as being heirs together of the grace of life.” (I Pet. 3: 7).

In actual fact, everywhere New Testament Christianity has gone, the lot of women in society has improved radically.

Viewed from the perspective of the dominant and prevailing cultural attitudes toward women in the first century Jewish and Greco-Roman world New Testament Christianity was perhaps the greatest pro-feminist movement in history until well into the 20th century.

- christian post

American ‘Soldier of Christ’ says he is fighting ISIS in Iraq to answer Jesus’ call to protect the defenseless

March 4, 2015 by admin  
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Coptic Christians pray at a symbolic funeral for the 21 Egyptian ChristiansEgypt, February 25, 2015: A 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran from Detroit, describing himself as a “Soldier of Christ,” said that he is fighting ISIS militants on the front lines in Iraq to answer Jesus’ call to protect defenseless people.

“People ask me, ‘Why you?’ I come back and I say, ‘Why not? Why just me? Where’s everyone else at?’” the Army veteran, who requested to be identified only by his first name, Brett, told ABC News in an interview.

“Jesus says, you know, ‘What you do unto the least of them, you do unto me,’” he added. “I take that very seriously.”

ISIS has specifically targeted Christians on a number of occasions in its war in Iraq and Syria. Last week, the jihadists posted a video titled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross,” which depicts the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians.

Christian leaders, such as the Vatican’s Pope Francis, said that such crimes should unite all Christians everywhere across denominational lines.

“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ,” the pontiff said.

“As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.”

Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, also called the 21 murdered Egyptian Christians “martyrs for the faith.”

The U.S. and its allies have hit back against ISIS terror targets using air strikes, but have not sent ground troops in the region. Brett revealed that he is fighting alongside the Dweikh Nawsha, a local Christian militia under the command of the Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq.

Brett, who was raised a Roman Catholic but identifies simply as Christian, explained in his interview that he came to Iraq to fight for the defenseless, both for Christians and the many others who have been attacked by ISIS and the terror group’s mission to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Local forces and militias have protected some key cities in the region, such as the Syrian border town of Kobane, from falling under ISIS’ control. The terror group has continued expanding its territory and its army, however, with U.S. intelligence officials pointing out recently that at least 20,000 foreign fighters, including 150 American citizens, have attempted to join and fight for ISIS.

Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that the rate ISIS is recruiting foreign fighters is “without precedent,” while Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said that Syria in particular is seeing “the largest convergence of Islamist terrorists in world history.”

- christian post

Florist who refused gay wedding offered settlement

March 2, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Gay Marriage Just MarriedWashington, February 23, 2015: After a judge ruled last week that Washington florist and Christian grandmother Barronelle Stutzman violated the law when she refused to provide arrangements for a same-sex wedding, Stutzman rejected a tempting settlement offer that would have spared her from losing her home and business, because it would have forced her to turn her back on God.

As Stutzman was found guilty of violating Washington’s non-discrimination law last Wednesday for declining to service the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed in 2013 due to her Christian belief of marriage, Stutzman runs the risk of losing not only her business but her house and life savings once a summary judgement is reached.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered the 70-year-old Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s flowers, a settlement on Thursday that would have spared Stutzman the high, bankrupting legal costs that she could incur as a result of the summary judgement.

The settlement offer would have required Stutzman to pay just $2,001 in fines and legal costs. However, the settlement also would have required Stutzman go against her religious beliefs and agree service gay wedding requests.

“I am prepared to settle this matter for a penalty of $2,000 under the Consumer Protection Act, a $1 payment for costs and fees, an agreement not to discriminate in the future, and an end to further litigation,” Ferguson said in a statement.

The next day, Stutzman sent a letter to Ferguson rejecting his settlement and stating that the settlement would have required her to betray Jesus Christ, much like Judas did.

“Washington’s constitution guarantees us ‘freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.’ I cannot sell that precious freedom,” Stutzman’s letter asserts. “You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do.”

Stutzman’s letter added that Ferguson continues to prove that he does not understand the true meaning of “freedom.”

“Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money,” Stutzman wrote. “I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.”

Although Stutzman has been portrayed by some media outlets as being an intolerable bigot for refusing to serve a gay wedding, Stutzman served Robert Ingersoll for over 9 years before he asked her to provide floral arrangements for his gay wedding. Even though Stutzman had built a great relationship with Ingersoll, she could not in good faith put her full heart into making floral arrangements for Ingersoll’s wedding and thought it would be best to decline to Ingersoll’s request.

After much social media uproar, Ferguson’s office filed a lawsuit against Stutzman, although no official complaint was filed against her. After the state filed a lawsuit, the couple filed a lawsuit with backing from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend,” Stutzman’s letter stated. “I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating and having a home.

“If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process,” Stutzman added.

Stutzman further added that the state’s laws present a double standard when it comes to protecting citizens’ differing beliefs on marriage.

“Our state would be a better place if we respected each other’s differences, and our leaders protected the freedom to have those differences,” Stutzman wrote. “Since 2012, same-sex couples all over the state have been free to act on their beliefs about marriage, but because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.”

- christian post

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