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Posts Tagged ‘Ecumenism’

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

  • Ephesians 6:10

Commenting on Ephesians 6:10, Gordon Clark said of this verse, “Here begins the peroration of the epistle.” 

“Peroration” is not a term most of us commonly use.  It means the concluding part of a discourse, especially the concluding part of an oration.  A second meaning of “peroration” is highly rhetorical speech.  In light of this definition, Clark’s calling verse 10 the beginning of the epistle’s peroration certainly seems appropriate.  Verses 10-18 of Ephesians chapter 6 are memorable, not only for the message itself but also for the rhetoric Paul uses to make his point.

In this passage, Paul uses the figure of a Christian soldier armed to do battle against the wiles of the devil

Now this passage on Christian spiritual warfare has many applications.  But the focus of my comments today will be concerning Christians and the present battle against Covid tyranny. 

For nearly two years, Christians the world over have been subjected to a remarkably intense political, economic, and psychological assault by the political, academic, religious, and business elite of the world.  This assault, whether in the form of unprecedented lockdowns, vaccine mandates, or restrictions on movement, ultimately is not a political battle, although it involves political oppression.  Neither is it fundamentally economic in nature, even though the pushers of the Covid narrative have certainly attacked ordinary people economically while at the same time vastly enriching many billionaires who benefited from the lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

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Happy New Year 2022!

I had meant to write this post last week, but, as they say, life got in the way.  So here’s the belated version for you. 

As do many, I find New Year’s a convenient time to stop and reflect on the year past and consider what may lie ahead.

In my case, I like to mention upfront that I’m thankful to the Lord God Almighty for the opportunity to write this blog during 2021.  Before I begin each post, I pray that the Lord would grant me the grace to write truthfully, clearly, and in a way that glorifies His name and edifies his people.   Moreover, November 2021 marked the seventh anniversary of my prayer to God asking him to help me write at least one blog post a week.  By his grace I have kept this pace, posting at least one new item every week since then.  Thanks be to God for giving me the strength to do this!

There are times as a writer when I really do wonder if I’m doing the Lord’s will or my own.  Has God called me to do this work, or am I just kidding myself and rebelling against him?  That he has honored my prayers for this blog, that people still seem to get something out of it, and that I continue to enjoy writing are big hints to me that, yes, I am doing what the Lord has called me to do.

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Ohio senatorial candidate J.D. Vance shared tweeted out this screen shot from a recent NBC News broadcast. It would seem that if you question the liberty destroying Covid protocols demanded by the Democrats or think the 2020 presidential election was stolen, the Department of Homeland Security thinks you just may be a terror threat.

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

  • Psalm 18:3

“America is under sustained attack,” wrote Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar in a recent tweet.

In what way? you may ask. 

The Rep. Gosar went on to site a few examples.  “America is under sustained attack on its sovereignty with open borders, against its culture by race hustlers, against our public fisc [fisc meaning state treasury], and against our political/medical dissidents with a capricious legal system.”

The Congressman is right on all counts. 

Worth noting is that Rep. Gosar’s tweet was in response to a tweet by Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who had tweeted out “The Republican Party stands with the people of Cuba fighting for freedom!” 

Rep. Gosar finished his tweet writing, “For the love of everything holy Cuba can wait.  Help America First.

Again, Paul Gosar is right on target. 

The Democrats have openly become the party of treason and tyranny, while the Republicans uselessly tweet out about the goings on in other countries while ignoring the fire in our own house.

To borrow a turn of phrase from Isaiah, our cites are burned with fire (Antifa and BLM riots) while strangers devour our land before our face (Biden’s treasonous open borders polity, what some migrants call “la invitación”), yet all the Republican leadership can do is tweet out about demonstrations in Cuba.  Apart from a few individuals – Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Thomas Massie, the afore mentioned Rep. Paul Gosar and some others – very few Republicans have taken any kind of public stand against the deliberate destruction of the United States of America by the treasonous, lying, illegitimate Biden regime, the Democratic Party, and Deep State technocrats such as the Jesuit Anthony Fauci. 

America is under sustained attack to a degree and in a way that I personally have never witnessed.  And I’d be less than honest with you were I to say that I’ve been unfazed by it.  I’ve found myself alternately furious, despairing, and even scared.

In mid-August 2021, Americans are faced, not only with some of the items already mentioned, but by vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, renewed mask requirements and possible lockdowns, not to mention a War On Domestic Terror which is threatening to criminalize political opinions at odds with the ruling elite’s preferred narrative

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Detail from The Sack of Rome by the Visigoths by JN Sylvestre, 1890.

“At the hour of midnight, the Salerian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet.  Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia” (Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch. 31).

With these words the English historian Edward Gibbon captured the sacking of Rome by Alaric king of the Visigoths on August 24, A.D. 410.   Although the Western empire did not officially come to an end until A.D. 476, the sacking of Rome by Alaric was certainly an indication of the Empire’s fast approaching end. 

As something of a history buff myself, I’ve often wondered what it was like for people who witnessed the end of their civilization.  It must have been terrible and terrifying.  One wonders at the horror that must have filled the hearts of the inhabitants of Jerusalem when the Babylonian army broke through the city walls in 586 B.C. and proceeded to destroy the city and burn the temple, which at that time had stood for over 300 years.

Reflecting on the excerpt above from Gibbon, what was it like for the Romans, and even non-Romans, in A.D. 410 to hear that Rome had been taken by a barbarian Germanic king? 

At the time of the sacking of Rome, the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa found himself confronted by many angry and puzzled questioners, many of whom were refugees from Alaric’s invasion of Italy, asking how, if Christianity were true, God could allow Christian civilization – recall that Constantine had become the first, at least nominally, Christian emperor about a century earlier – to be destroyed by a pagan barbarian king and his army?        

That bishop, as you may already be aware, was none other than Aurelius Augustine, the greatest theologian of the early church.

According to one scholar,

More than any other single episode the sacking of Rome gave Augustine a reason to write the City of God. After 410 he found exiles, those escaping the disturbing events in Italy, arriving in North Africa where he was now Bishop of Hippo and asking how he could explain this collapse of a Christian Empire.  It was their angry challenge that led him to begin work on a book which was to appear in episodes stretching over many years of composition (G. R. Evans, Introduction, City of God. Penguin Books, London, 2003, ix).

It seems to me that, although our present circumstances are in certain important respects different from those faced by Augustine in his day, nevertheless there are some important similarities.  While Rome in the fifth century was sacked and burned by outside forces, America today is being sacked and burned – in some ways literally, in others figuratively – by forces from within.  In both cases – Rome in A.D. 410; America in A.D. 2021 – the civilizations were in advanced states of decay well in advance of their sacking.  One may fairly view the two events not as the beginning of their respective civilization’s collapse, but as another, more overt, step along the way to their demise. 

The comparison of Rome’s sacking in 410 to the events in America over the past year – namely, the massive civil unrest carried out by BLM and Antifa and supported by the political, business, entertainment and academic establishments; the brutal Covid lockdowns in defiance of the Constitution, medical precedent, and the teachings of Scripture; and an overtly stolen presidential election –  can be instructive to Christians today, because many of the same problems that plague America and the West today are the same problems that plagued Rome in Augustine’s day, and the answers he gave to his critics are just as applicable now as they were then. 

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More Than These_2

“It is my firm conviction that the pro-life movement has been a convenient, effective tool in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church leadership in their drive to desensitize the average Christian to Rome’s heresy, idolatry, and blasphemy.”

    – Pastor Ralph Ovadal

Last week’s post, devoted to a discussion of the movie Unplanned, was intended as a warning to Christians. Far from being the Christian film many have touted it to be, Unplanned would be better described as an effective recruitment tool for the Roman Church-State.

Although the movie was financed, at least in part, by Evangelical money, and presented to Evangelicals as a Christian movie, the screen play and the directing were done by two Roman Catholics. But more concerning is the central figure in the movie, Abby Johnson, who, having been raised Baptist, converted to Roman Catholicism after she was asked to leave her Episcopal Church upon leaving Planned Parenthood and becoming pro-life.

In that post on Unplananed, this reviewer quoted at some length from a book titled More Than These by Pastor Ralph Ovadal. When I cited the book, I was under the assumption that I had reviewed it some time ago. But to my surprise, after checking to confirm whether this was so, I found out that no such review had been posted on this blog. What is worse, a search of the internet revealed that, apparently, no review of the remarkable book has been written by anyone else either.

This post is intended as a partial remedy to this sorry state of affairs.

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Unplanned

Just to dispense with one item upfront, I have not seen the movie Unplanned, nor, despite the many encouragements from various conservatives to support the film, do I intend to.

To be clear, my lack of support for Unplanned is not because I’m pro-abortion. Far from it. I’m pro-life

I actually had considered going to see the film yesterday, but elected not to. So what stopped me? A little research on the internet.

Not knowing much about Unplanned other than snippets I’d see in the press, I decided to search the web for information on the central character in the movie, Abby Johnson. In just a few seconds, I’d found all I needed to know, a headline in the National Catholic Register that read “From Abortion Worker to Catholic Apostle.” As the subheadline went on to elaborate, “A former Planned Parenthood director, Abby Johnson, tells how an ultrasound of an unborn baby’s fight for life eventually let (sic) her to the Catholic Church and a new apostolate.”

A bit more searching led me to this interview on EWTN’s Facebook page – EWTN is a Roman Catholic organization that owns and operates the National Catholic Register – in which directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzleman speak openly of their Catholic faith. At one point, they even note that the “blessed mother” has promised to end abortion.

In short, it’s fair to call Unplanned a Catholic movie.

For Protestants, this represents an insuperable problem.

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Billy Graham

The body of Rev. Billy Graham, who died February 21 at age 99, lies in the Capitol Rotunda as President Donald Trump, officials and dignitaries pay tribute to America’s most famous evangelist, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington.  (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press) 

In the second year of Joash the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, became king…And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like his father David (2 Kings 14:1, 3).

Judge not, lest you be judged! How many times have Christians had that verse flung in their face when discussing some point of doctrine, usually with an unbeliever. This verse, wielded as if some all conquering shut down argument, seems to be the only passage of Scripture that many people know.

Now if Jesus actually meant what these people seem to think he meant – that all judgment of every sort by anyone is always wrong – ironically they also condemn themselves, for by speaking as they do they are judging Christians and telling them they are wrong to find fault with the words or actions of another.

But Jesus did not mean to condemn all judgment. He intended to condemn unrighteous judgment, that is to say, judgment by the wrong standard. This can be seen elsewhere in Scripture where Christ told his followers to “judge with righteous judgment.”

Further, in writing to Timothy the Apostle Paul advised his younger colleague that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for,” among other things, “reproof [and] for correction.” That is to say, Scripture is to be used to judge the actions and the words of men.

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The Jesuit “mafia” and fog, both literal and figurative, in the churches. These were some of the discussion points brought up by Dr. Paul Elliott in his talks on Day 2 of The Trinity Foundation’s Reformation conference. Dr. Elliott gave two presentations on Saturday 10/28, both of which I would strongly encourage you to listen to when the recordings become available.

The Reformation Is Not a Return to Pre-Reformation Positions

By way of introduction to his opening talk on Saturday, Dr. Elliott mentioned that he is working on a tree volume set on the subject of the corruption of the text of the new testament. As part of his research, Dr. Elliott noted, more often than not, he found that the hand responsible for corrupting the Greek text of the New Testament used in modern translations is, more often than not, that of the Jesuits. He also included a comment by a friend of his warning that his work exposing the Jesuit efforts would not go unnoticed and that it was “dangerous territory.” Dr. Elliott did not use the word “mafia,” but the implication of his words is that there exists something like a Jesuit mafia that seeks to silence the opposition, and do so by violence if necessary.

Dr. Elliott contends that there are forces in the Evangelical movement that are seeking to give Protestantism an “extreme makeover” of the sort one sees on various TV shows, and that the effect of this makeover is that, “the vast majority of the nominally Evangelical church today is rapidly returning to the pre-Reformation position.” Dr. Elliott identified four things that characterized the pre-Reformation church.

First, there was Biblical illiteracy. In the middle ages, Christians did not have access to Bibles in their native language. Today, the problem is that, while “Bibles” are readily available, so-called modern translations such as The Message are corrupt paraphrases, not translations at all. Because they do not faithfully translate the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, they leave people without the Word of God in much the same way as medieval church goers whose only Bible was in Latin, a language that most of them did not understand.

Second, Dr. Elliott identified the problem of Church as an Experience. The Reformation has always emphasized the primacy of preaching, the expositing of the Word of God in understandable, clear language. On the other hand, the Roman Church-State has always made an appeal to the senses with its “smells and bells.”

And just as the pre-Reformation and current Roman Catholic Church emphasized experience over doctrine, so too do neo-evangelicals in the emerging church movement. Dr. Elliott noted that as an observer he attended a trade show dedicated to the “worship market” which, “is now a multi-billion-dollar business.”

Dr. Elliott noted that, “The most popular product in this big exhibit hall was fog machines!,” which allowed churches to generate “different colors of fog” to set the right mood. As Dr. Elliott wryly commented, “Those fog machines were a metaphor for the entire so-called worship conference.”

Third, Dr. Elliott took up the problem of pluralism. By way of example, he cited Timothy Keller saying there may be some “back door way to Heaven” apart from Jesus.

More subtle is the case of John Piper, whom Elliott quotes as saying that we are made right with God by faith but enter heaven by our works.

Finally, Dr. Elliott speaks of the current emphasis on Deeds Instead of Doctrine. As Rick Warren has said, “You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about creeds…[the new reformation that we’re bringing about through the Purpose-Driven church] will be about deeds…The first one was about what the church believes…This one will be about what the church does.”

How is the different from what Rome teaches? In truth, not much, if at all. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that Warren is also hard at work trying to re-united Protestants and Romanists. Dr. Elliott reported that Warren was the keynote speaker at Pope Francis final Sunday service when he was in Philadelphia in 2015. Warren, a Southern Baptist, referred to the assembled cardinals, bishops and priests and the pope himself as “brothers.”

Dr. Elliott closed his talk with an encouragement for Christians not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed. We are to be outwardly what we are inwardly. This requires that Christians, “Never be afraid to admit it when you find yourself, or the church, deviating from Scripture in even the smallest point.”

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Lutheran_RCCS Declaration

President of the Lutheran World Federation Bishop Munib Younan, left, conspires with Pope Francis, right, to overthrow the Reformation at a service in Lund Lutheran cathedral , October 31, 2016 (L’Osservatore Romano/AP)

 

You say you want a Reformation? Well, according to a recently released Pew Research Center survey of Western Europe and the US, many Protestants answer “Not so much.” Here are a few key findings:

  • About half of U.S. Protestants (52%) say both good deeds and faith in God are needed to get into heaven, a historically Catholic position. The other half (42%) say that faith alone is needed to attain salvation.
  • U.S. Protestants also are split on another issue that played a key role in the Reformation: 46% say the Bible provides all the religious guidance Christians need, a traditionally Protestant belief known as sola scriptura. But 52% say Christians should look for guidance from church teachings and traditions as well as from the Bible, the position held by the Catholic Church.
  • Just 30% of all U.S. Protestants affirm both sola fide and sola scriptura.
  • In nearly all of the European countries surveyed, majorities or pluralities of both Catholics and Protestants adhere to the traditionally Catholic view that both faith and good works are necessary to attain salvation. In fact, in every country except Norway (where 51% of Protestants say salvation comes through faith alone), belief in sola fide is a minority view even among Protestants.

The results of this survey, though disappointing, are hardly surprising. The Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy among Presbyterians in first half of the 20th century ended with the liberal social gospelers seizing control of the mainline Presbyterian church and the subsequent purging of those who believed the Bible. Other Protestant denominations experienced upheavals. As a result, where Protestant churches once spoke with one voice on the critical issues of the source of authority in the church (scripture alone) and the means of justification (justification is by faith alone), Protestant witness has become greatly confused.

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