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Church Shopping? Consider Iran.

August 8, 2013 7 comments

waffles“The court’s judgment came after Bordbar and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts were detained by security agents in a house in northern Tehran during a worship service celebrating the birth of Jesus, Christians said.”

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/08/interfaith-outreach-in-iran-christian-gets-ten-years-prison-for-evangelizing.html

 

Think about this for a second:

 

How many Missouri Synod Lutheran Churches are there that have around 50 worshippers at a divine service on an average Sunday?

A lot.  If I’m not mistaken, most LCMS congregations have under 100 people in divine service on Sunday.  That is to say, on Sunday when they worship in a church (or a rented building, less often), not someone’s house.  On Sunday we can come to church openly, not secretly; there is no danger of arrest or death, as Islam traditionally mandates for those who have departed from Islam for another religion.

 

Yet with these benefits attendance at an average LCMS church is not much  greater than at this underground Iranian church where everyone was rounded up and arrested.

 

Obviously this isn’t really a fair comparison.  They were celebrating Christmas.  Usually attendance at Christmas is greater at LCMS churches at Christmas than on other days.  Then too this church was in Tehran, a city of 8 million.  So fifty people in a city of 8 million and fifty people in a small town in Iowa are very different things.

But the point is this: there were fifty people at this church in Iran, where Christian evangelism is illegal.  Fifty people willing to risk arrest or pastor-youcef-2death to go to church.

 

We know from experience how easy it is for American Christians to skip church on Sunday morning–work, baseball practice, taking a day “just for the family”–just about anything can be an acceptable justification for missing church for sometimes months, as though the devil, world, and flesh are willing to take breaks from their war with us while we go to work or take our kids to ballroom dancing competitions and bushido tournaments.  Admittedly sometimes you do have to work on Sunday, and it’s not necessarily wrong to have your kid in a travelling sports team.  But it is tragic when you can go for weeks or months without hearing the Word of the Lord and receiving His Sacrament and not feel any hunger to get on the phone and make other arrangements for you and your kids to receive God’s faith-sustaining gifts, at least.

 

So think about this for a moment: in which country is it “easier” to be a Christian?

thCAV8XC6YIn Iran, it’s illegal to go to church.  You could go to jail very easily if you go to church.  Yet we have this story that fifty people gathered in a house to worship the Lord at His birth, and all of them were arrested.

In the US, it’s legal to go to church.  Churches are open all the time.  Christianity has been part of our culture for as long as Islam has been part of Iran’s, so your American family is not going to think you’re joining a strange foreign religion, like they might in Iran.  Yet in most LCMS churches attendance on Sunday is only marginally higher than in this church in Iran where everyone was arrested for going to church.

Which country is the Christian country again?

In which country is it “easier” to be a Christian?

 

 

 

 

Is it possible that there are actually more Christians in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in the United States of America?

Lamech and Revelation

Noah preparing the ark

In the Aggadah

Most of the legends about Lamech, the grandson of Cain, center around his killing of his grandfather. He was blind and when he went hunting, he was led by his young son Tubal-Cain, who would tell his father when game came in sight, so that Lamech could shoot at it with his bow and arrow. Once he aimed at some horned creature which Tubal-Cain thought to be a beast. In fact it was Cain, the “sign of Cain” being a horn in the forehead, and he killed him. In despair, Lamech smote his hands together inadvertently killing Tubal-Cain. After this incident his wives, Adah and Zillah, wanted to leave him on the ground that Cain’s descendants were doomed to annihilation. But Lamech argued, “If Cain who committed murder with malice aforethought, was punished only in the seventh generation, then, I who have killed inadvertently may hope that retribution will be postponed for 77 generations” (cf. Gen. 4:23). Lamech and his wives put their case to Adam who decided the case in favor of Lamech (Tanh. Gen. 11). According to another tradition, Lamech’s wives refused to have intercourse with him because they knew that a flood was to come and therefore they did not want to bear children. Whereupon Lamech answered “Cain was guilty of murder, yet judgment was suspended in his case for seven generations; for me who am guiltless of this crime, surely judgment will wait 77 generations” (Gen. R. 23:4). Lamech took one wife solely for sexual gratification, and the other for procreation (ibid. 23:2).”

from here:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0012_0_11781.html

I was trying to think of a theme for VBS, because me and someone else from our congregation were thinking we should just do our own–which is another story.  So I was thinking about the creation, fall, the curse on Adam and Eve, and the promise of the Savior.  This got me thinking about Adam and when he died.  Was he alive when Noah was born?  Answer–he was not.

I think this will be a fun thing to do if there is time, and it will be very good on a number of levels for the church.  The story of the creation is a story of law and fact, and once people start to view it as mythological, it means also that moral law is mythological.  Human beings’ intrinsic worth as having been created with dominion in the image of God is also lost.  Being male and female is also lost and becomes an accident of evolution, so that transgenderism is not a rejection of God who created you male or female, but instead a rejection of an order that could have just as easily gone in a different direction; we could have evolved as asexual beings–it wasn’t God’s will that we be male or female.

Answers in Genesis pointed this out a long time ago.  They are evangelicals, so I can’t praise other parts of their theology.  However, their understanding that waffling on the 1st chapters of Genesis really strips Christianity of its vitality by teaching us to place our faith partly on the Word of God and partly on our reason and senses–they are to be commended for this understanding, which too many Missouri Synod Lutheran pastors don’t have.

Anyway, doing a VBS that deals with creation will do good by teaching the story of creation and also by teaching the sacred account of the origin of human life and the institution of marriage.

As I was reading Genesis 5 and trying to figure out whether Adam was still alive when Adam was born, I noticed that Lamech from the line of Seth lived “777 years”.  This made me think about Revelation and the number of the beast’s name–666.  Then I started noticing some other parallels with the numbers in Genesis.  Noah is the 10th from Adam (in the line of Seth).  10 seems to correspond to “times and half a time” which comes up repeatedly both in Daniel and Revelation; also the church at Smyrna suffers tribulation for “10 days” from Satan.  The beast has “10 horns and 10 crowns.”  Then I noticed that the genealogy of Cain has seven generations, although several of the names are similar between Seth’s and Cain’s lines.  The seventh generation in Seth’s line is Enoch, who is taken to be with the Lord like Elijah.  The tenth generation is Noah, who has three sons–Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

In Cain’s genealogy, Lamech is the 7th from Adam.  He also has three sons: Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-Cain.  And he sings a song to his two wivesadah and zillah and lamech which ends “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”  So Cain’s Lamech does a better job of avenging than God apparently; but the numbers seem to parallel the age of Seth’s Lamech.  The number of Lamech’s vengeance (he claims): 777.  Then God takes vengeance.  One might read it as if Lamech is claiming that he will complete the vengeance God promised to Cain.  If that were so, then the flood would be God avenging Himself after “a little while”, “times and half a time”.  Noah has to endure the wickedness of the earth, but God delivers him after ” a little while;” there are seven generations to Lamech, but a few generations later (long generations, incidentally–it takes Methusaleh and Lamech from Seth’s line 180 years or so to have kids, significantly longer than preceding generations)–God floods the earth in His wrath.

Compare for yourself:

Revelation 13:18 (KJV) “Here is wisdom.  Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

Genesis 5:28-32 (KJV) “And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:  And he called his name Noah (i.e. Rest, or Comfort), saying, ‘This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.’  And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.  And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

Genesis 4:19-24 (KJV) “And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.  And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.  And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.  And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.  If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”

 

 

I don’t really know what it all means, but the patterns are fascinating and there seems to be something in them.  So I decided that I’m going to try to study Revelation this summer, comparing it to the early chapters of Genesis, and I may write about it on here sometimes.  Because it seems like the day is drawing near.  It really does.

 

American Christians Should Expect the Gulag

April 26, 2013 1 comment

gulagSo.
The media keeps saying it was a good thing when the dictator Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.  Even though a variety of “Islamists” have a great deal of power in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood has taken power, we’re supposed to think this is “good.”  Because it’s a movement toward democracy and self-determination, two things that are always “good”.  Self-determination is supposed to result in “equality,” which is also “good.”  All right-thinking Americans know these things.

We don’t hear too much in the media about the Coptic Christians who keep finding their businesses, houses, and churches on fire, or about the Christian girls who are abducted from their families in Egypt and “converted” to Islam so that they can be married to a Muslim man while under the age of majority.  (If the Christian girls have converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, it is difficult for Christian parents to get their children back, lest they try to force the child to “renounce” the Islam they supposedly converted to.  According to some readings of this verse from the Quran, the penalty for apostasizing from Islam is death:

Sura 4:89 (Muhsin Khan trans.)

They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad SAW). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.

Then the bombing happened in Boston.  Everyone was told not to jump to conclusions.  (What conclusion could anyone jump to?  Apparently there was a lot of potential for jumping to conclusions, although the conclusion everyone was likely to jump to wasn’t stated.  Nor was it discussed why people might be liable to jump to that conclusion.  Nor was it discussed whether people had any good reasons to jump to this conclusion.)

After all the US Military Academy just issued a paper warning of the great threat posed by  homegrown right wing terrorists, such as neo-nazis, the Klan, radical pro-lifers, and Focus on the Family. ( The Family Research Council is a lot of things, but I would never have guessed that Dr. James Dobson or his associates or admirers were likely to detonate pressure cooker bombs, or grab rusty Kalashnikovs and RPGs and hole up in caves in the Colorado Rockies, descending periodically to make sure that no women were wearing short skirts and no kids were listening to music that was not made by Michael W. Smith.  If Dobson had been more like that I probably would have thought he was cooler when I was a teenager.  I would have much more gladly attended a Promise Keepers event instead of being dragged there by my dad in the 90s if they had made us wear camo and spent the day teaching us guerilla tactics and how to make bombs while memorizing bible verses.  Sadly, it was just a lot of middle aged fat white men who cried a lot. )

But apparently there was grave danger that, bunch of goose-stepping fascists-in-waiting that we are, Americans were going to leave church on Sunday morning and run through the streets throwing improvised explosives at anyone who might look Muslim, even though we didn’t find out that they were Muslim yet and of course could only be miserable bigots if the thought even crossed our minds.

Lo and behold, contrary to everyone’s wildest speculations, the Boston Marathon was bombed by professed Muslims, although we are supposed to quickly say, “of course, this really has nothing to do with Islam.”  Right.  Islam, after all, is far more peaceful and forgiving than any Christian since Jesus has managed to be.  Only a bigot could even consider any other possibility.

Interestingly enough–you probably didn’t hear about the fact that the evangelical lobbying group “Family Research Council” had a gunman break in and start shooting people around a month ago.  Well, they did.

Guess what?  The shooter was not a Christian or a far right-extremist.  He wasn’t even an Islamist!

He was a guy who found out that the Family Research Council was an anti-gay hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In other words, you could say, “a liberal”.  A right-thinking American.  A man so inflamed with passion for the most victimized of all victims–homosexuals–that he decided to send about a dozen evangelicals to their graves with a Chik-Fil-A sandwich mashed in each intolerant face.

So this John Brown-like defender of holy equality went in to their offices shooting.  His plan was to kill as many as possible and dishonor their corpses with the chicken sandwich preferred by 9 out of 1o potential Christian terrorists. (You remember, the owner of Chick-Fil-A said that he didn’t agree with homosexual “marriage” and Chik-Fil-A was boycotted in cool cities that probably didn’t have any Chik-Fil-A’s anyway.  And right-thinking Americans all over facebook defriended facebook friends who posted anything pro-Chik-Fil-A.  It was almost like deja vu all over again.. Salem Witch Trials, abolitionism, the temperance movement.  Puritanism in all its incarnations in American history always is able to find the evil that stands in the way of a truly godly social order.  And it is always in something definite and concrete that the puritans don’t mind getting rid of.)

Normally we would have to say that this guy who shot up the FRC was a right thinking American.  He was on the right side of history.  However the terrorist attack on the Family Research Council is slightly embarrassing.

Christians, however, should note the commonalities–

Whether you’re a Syrian Orthodox Bishop kidnapped by Chechen terrorists in the glorious democratic Syrian Revolution,

Or a an orthodox priest captured by Islamic terrorists who doesn’t even make the news in the west at all,

Or a born again Christian who thinks that the government should not treat the pledge of two men or women to have some kind of union (more or less open, sexually) as though it were the same as a man and a woman pledging to be joined for life, to have children (if God wills) and devote their lives to raising those children:

your life is less important than the dogmas the media is trying to impress on the masses.  Your lives, Christians, are worth lessgulag2 than the importance of getting people to think a certain way.  For the media and for the Zeitgeist and the devil who manipulates both, your life, like all human life, is really nothing.  But ideas are everything, far more important than human beings.  Human beings exist or don’t exist and few people notice.  But if everyone believes something–or the vast majority of people do–that becomes reality, at least as far as people are concerned.

So, it’s so important that everyone believe that “equality” means what the media people now say that it means than that a few Christians are shot or killed as a result of the propaganda against them.  “Equality” means that even the moral law written on peoples’ consciences by virtue of their humanity, and the moral law that is evident from nature to reason, is a force of oppression.  Rather than being simply a fact, it is just one mythology that can be just as easily replaced by the myth of “equality.”  Making this version of equality the new moral truth is so important that it justifies classifying the Family Research Council as a hate group along the lines of the Ku Klux Klan.  (Unfortunately for the FRC, real hate groups tend to hide the identities of their leaders and headquarters, and they also tend to be dangerous.  They really need to get in more bar brawls and practice stomping heads if they’re going to succeed with this “hate group” label.)

So, if a couple of Ned Flanders types get shot in the name of gay marriage…Well, we know that Ned is probably completely incapable of violence and may even be a nice guy.  But the idea of “equality” is more important than the lives of a few non-violent, nice guys.  Homosexual “marriage” (a fascinating example of “newspeak”) is more important than the lives of a few Flanderses, or Duggars, or Tebows, or Dobsons, or whatever(Well, what do you expect?  Do you think the guy’s going to go on a killing spree at a nazi skinhead clubhouse?)

“Hate Group” is an interesting slur.  It’s supposed to describe what the groups do, but it seems like it is actually a directive masquerading as a description. 

big brother newspeak“These are hate groups, which means both that they hate and/or that you are required to hate them or be hated yourself.” If you are labeled a “Hate group member” and are shot and wounded (or killed)–if a terrorist attack is carried out against you–the media will hardly even cover the story, much less demand that the Southern Poverty Law Center take any responsibility for the crime, as they would do in nearly any other similar situation with different players.

If you are a Christian in the middle east–even a bishop!–don’t expect the US media to pay any attention if you are arrested or killed.  It’s unfortunate that this happened to you, but it would be far more unfortunate if Americans started to think that Chechen Islamic Terrorists are not unique to Boston, or if they started to think that maybe Islam itself has something to do with the regularity of attacks like these, or if they started to question whether the United States ought to be  supporting insurrections that are fought by large numbers of guys whose end goal is not democracy but a theocratic Islamic empire.

Or if Americans started to wonder whether “equality” and “non-discrimination” are really, always, without exception “good”.  Maybe it’s good if we discriminate against Salafis who want to see the entire world united under a black flag.

Maybe it’s good if we can recognize that Islam is not an Arab form of Methodism.

Or that homosexual unions are vastly different than marriage, not simply because of who one is attracted to, but because marriage is supposed to beget and support and nurture the next generation.  Whereas fornication of the heterosexual or homosexual variety is completely unconcerned with the offspring which are (as far as I can tell) one of the main reasons why we have sexual organs in the first place.  Indeed, one could easily think that that is the CHIEF purpose of sex organs and of sex itself, given that sex organs have a tendency to produce children a lot of times when the tendency is not impeded.

Maybe it’s good if we can discriminate between the Family Research Council and the Hammerskins of Northern Illinois.

Christians in America: don’t expect people to care about your human rights.  Expect them to call you a hate group, come and shoot you, and then blame you for it.  If people are too afraid to say in the media, “Look, Islam promotes violence and holy warfare in a way that Christianity doesn’t,” even when it’s obvious, don’t expect them to say anything (or even pay much attention) when you are killed or kidnapped or wounded.  If people are too afraid or too blind to state the obvious in the media–ie Islam has a tendency toward violence not present in Christianity; sodomy resembles marriage the way an embalmed corpse resembles the living person–don’t expect them to care when Christians are unfairly treated or start to become the victims of violent attacks.  Don’t be surprised when after this happens they blame you for it.

How can they do differently?  If you’re terrified of being vilified for saying the wrong thing, what’s going to happen when physical safety is at stake?

Below is a news story about the Orthodox Bishops who have been kidnapped recently in Syria.

When we’re in the gulag, hopefully Christians in countries where they’re free to worship won’t forget about us, but at least will pray for us.

Read more…

Scum of the Earth Community Church

ewI was trying to think up a good spoof of a “relevant” non-denominational church.  Then I was going to try to turn it into an online “Wittenberg Door” magazine, which is sort of like “The Onion” for conservative Christians.

So I had this great title all worked out and made a cool front page of a website.  “Scum of the Earth Community Church.”  The website was really cool.

Unfortunately, as Christian churches flounder more and more frantically in an attempt to not completely lose every last bit of moral and cultural authority, irony has become obsolete.

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about this.

http://www.scumoftheearth.net/SOTEC/Welcome.html

Yep, there already is a Scum of the Earth Church.  Although I note no “community” in the title.  No doubt, if they were a community church, people in polo shirts and chinos might think they could come, and that would ruin their whole steez.

You know what the real “Scum of the Earth Church” looks like?  A church

–where only men are allowed to be pastors and hold positions of authority,

–that says salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from good works,

–that says that faith is not something a person can will, but a gift of God,

–which says that the Pope is the antichrist,

–which says that homosexual relations are sinful and should not be endorsed by the government, christians hate

–and which says that the entire world has been ransomed by the blood of Jesus Christ (no sinner excluded, not even Judas)

— which says that, as a result, forgiveness of sins may be preached to all in general

–which says that, as a result, we may be assured that everyone who receives the Lord’s Supper receives Christ’s true body and blood in and with the bread and wine.

And if they dress up to go to church on top of all of this, that would make them the scum of the scum!

Luckily, all traces of this kind of theology have been rooted out of American churches by patient and methodical re-education of the American people to that the churches no longer function as counter-revolutionary citadels on every city block.  Thus the number of people who’ll have to be sent to the camps can possibly be reduced to those who stubbornly cling to more than three of the beliefs listed above.

 

 

Coincidence? I think not.

nicholson hans luther

Martin Luther's Mom, left. Mother Teresa, Right.

Martin Luther’s Mom, left.
Mother Teresa, Right.

Luther On Spirits and Communication with the Dead: Epiphany Sermon

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment

luther cranach248. But what does this Gospel teach? In the first place, these wise men did not inquire after the chief priests and do not ask: Where is Annas or Caiaphas, or how did this or that man live? But they ask: Where is the newborn king of the Jews? Yes, Christ permits them, as a warning to us, to go astray and to seek him in Jerusalem in the holy city among the priests, the learned and the royalty. He is not found in the holy place nor in the holy customs. Nor did they receive as an answer any human opinions, but only what the Scriptures say about Christ, which alone are to be sought among the holy people and in holy places.

49. Sufficient examples are here given to show us that disregarding all human works, teachings, comments and life we should be mindful only of the clear Scriptures, and as to the life and teachings of the saints preserve the right not to rake or snatch up everything that they teach or live, but rather to sit in judgment on these things and accept with discretion only that which is compatible with the Scriptures. But what is their own, without Scripture proof, we should consider as human inventions and avoid, as St. Paul teaches: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thess. 5, 21. Moses has also indicated this, Levit. 11, 3, Deut. 14, 6, where he describes clean and unclean beasts, that all animals which are not cloven footed and ruminant are unclean. These are the men who are not cloven footed, who spend their lives carelessly, rake up whatever comes before them and follow it. But the clean animals are those men who by the spirit act with discretion in all external things and doctrines. Whatever they see harmonizing with the Scriptures they keep, but whatever is without Scriptural foundation and mere human inventions they dismiss, no matter how great and famous the saints who taught it may be. For no saint has been so perfect as to be free from flesh and blood, or the continued struggle with flesh and blood, so that it is scarcely possible that all their teachings and works were spiritually perfect and are to be accepted as examples. Human nature and reason often concurred in their work, and these are not to be trusted at all. Hence Moses commands us to be cloven footed and Paul to discern the spirits and not to accept all the works and doings of men.

 

52. They then meddled even with the work of the devil and followed the example of the souls or spirits appearing and praying for help and believed everything that these spirits said without fear or hesitation. Thus the mass, i. e. the Lord’s Supper, has been so abused by saying mass for souls in purgatory and by the selling of indulgences, that the whole world by shedding tears of blood day and night could not bewail it sufficiently. Thus the devil has permitted himself to be conjured and constrained to reveal the truth and has turned our faith and sacrament into play and mockery to his own liking. All this is the result and reward of our overcuriousness, which has not been satisfied with the Scriptures of God and has made our true and faithful God and Father a fool and clown, who pretends to teach us by his Word and yet does not care to teach us that which we ought and necessarily need to know. For this reason he serves us right in permitting us to become the devil’s pupils, inasmuch as we despised his school.

 

53. But you say: Should we then deny that wandering spirits go astray and seek for help? Answer: Let wander who will, you listen to what God commands. If you hold all these spirits in suspicion, you are not sinning; but if you hold some of them to be genuine and honest, you are already in danger of erring. And why? Because God does not want you to seek and learn the truth from the dead. He himself wants to be your living and all sufficient teacher. To his Word you should cling. He knows best what to tell you about the living and the dead, for he knows all things. But whatever he does not want to tell you, you should not desire to know, and give him the honor to believe that he knows what is not necessary, profitable nor good for you to know.

 

54. Therefore you should freely and unhesitatingly cast all such ghostly apparitions to the winds and not be afraid of them; they will then leave you in peace. And should it seem, that perhaps in your house you hear a hobgoblin or rumbling spirit, then make no ado about it, but be assured that it can not be a good spirit come from God. Make the sign of the cross and firmly hold to your faith. Has he been sent by God to chastise you, like Job, then be ready to endure it willingly, but should it be the spirit’s own sport, then defy him by strong faith and joyfully depend on God’s Word. Depend upon it he will not attack that. However, I hold that none of these hobgoblins are ordained of God to molest us, but it is their own mischief to terrify the people, because they have no longer any power to harm. If they had any power to harm, they would surely not engage in much racketing, but do their evil work before you could be aware who had done it. But if a good spirit were to visit you, it would not occur with such noise and frivolity. Do this and manifest strong faith and you will find that such a spirit is not of God, and will cease its work. If you have not such faith, then he will have easy work, for then God’s Word which alone he fears is not with you.

 

55. The words of the Scriptures upon which you should boldly rely are Luke 16, 29, where Abraham said to Dives in hell, who desired the departed Lazarus to be sent to his brothers living on earth, but Abraham refusing to do this, said: ”They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” From these words it is plain that God will not have us taught by the dead, but have us abide in his Word. Therefore, no matter how and where a spirit comes to you, do not ask whether he be good or evil, but bravely, quickly and defiantly cast into his teeth the words: ”they have Moses and the prophets,” and he will soon understand what you mean. Is it a good spirit, he will only love you the more for adhering so gladly and firmly to the Word of your God. Is it an evil spirit, as are all those that are noisy, he will soon bid you adieu. Again, another word of God is spoken by Moses in Deut. 18, 11: ”When thou art come into the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found with thee any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through fire, one that useth divination, one that practiceth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Here, you are told that it is an abomination in the sight of God to consult the dead or the spirits, and it is strictly forbidden. To this word of Moses Abraham looked when he did not permit Lazarus to come back to the earth. You can also use this passage against these spirits, saying: ”Thou shalt not consult the dead, saith the Lord.”

 

56. God has insisted on this so firmly, that there is no example recorded in the Scriptures, where the saints have ever consulted the dead about anything. And this is the third argument that you can use against these spirits: No one ever heard or read of an example in the Scriptures as to such spirits and their work, hence the whole must be condemned and avoided as of the devil.

 

57. From this we may easily learn, that the coming up of Samuel was an apparition, 1 Sam. 28, 13, inasmuch as it is altogether contrary to this commandment of God. It is therefore not to be assumed that the real prophet Samuel came up by the power of the witch of En-dor. But that the Scriptures are silent on this point, not telling us whether it was the real or false Samuel, is because they demand of everybody to remember well that through Moses God forbade to consult the dead. And he never revokes his Word, as Job says and Balaam also, Num. 23, 19. How can the witch have any power over the saints, who are resting in God’s hands?

  Read more…

UK: “Jedi” Religion most popular alternative faith

December 11, 2012 2 comments

List of Star Wars air, aquatic, and ground veh...

Question: Has LCMS world mission looked into how we can make worship services more “Jedi-Friendly”?

My guess is that Confessional Lutheranism is one of the least attractive forms of Christianity to Jedis.  Why?  Are there any Christians more likely to be angry than confessional Lutherans?  Maybe Westboro Baptist.  Maybe some Calvinists or ultra-traditional Catholics.

“Anger leads to the dark side!” –Yoda

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9737886/Jedi-religion-most-popular-alternative-faith.html

The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer.

Following a nationwide campaign, Jedi made it onto the 2001 census, with 390,127 people identifying themselves a decade ago as followers of the fictional Star Wars creed.

Although the number of Jedis has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the previous 10 years, they are still the most selected “alternative” faith on the Census, and constitute 0.31% of all people’s stated religious affiliation in England and Wales.

The latest official population survey also revealed 6,242 people subscribe to the Heavy Metal religion, which was set up in 2010 by the Rock magazine, Metal Hammer.

The number of people specifically identifying as Atheists was 29,267, while over 13.8 million refused to identify with a faith at all, ticking the “No religion” box on the census form…

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/imagine-no-religion/

The United States Government May Be Storing All of Your Emails in a Supercomputer.

December 5, 2012 2 comments

The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....But really, you kind of already guessed that, right?

I never used to be a conspiracy theory guy.  And I’m still not, I hope.  But I remember when I first found out that Facebook and Google store and sell the data you give them to advertisers (which was only a few years ago), it was one of those moments where you can’t believe you were so gullible.  Of course they’re keeping information on you!  You think they’re just letting you play Farmville out of the goodness of their hearts?

Well, if Google can keep track of you and profile you for advertisers, obviously the government can store your information.

They do a full body scan in the airports now where you stand in a little closet thing.  They could easily store that information and have your entire genetic code in a computer somewhere.  Or if they can’t easily do it they’ll be able to before too long.

About a month ago somebody was handing out free cell phones from the government in the parking lot at church to people in the project up the street.  I don’t think the government needs to give you a cell phone to be able to hear whatever they want to hear.  We already know that the Dept. of Homeland Security (as Orwellian a name as could have been invented) has been given permission to listen to “suspected terrorists.”  But then political correctness makes it necessary to pretend that there are other terrorists besides Muslim fanatics that we have to worry about–like all those radical Methodists they keep catching with underwear bombs and so on–we all have to have someone look at us naked if we want to get on the airplane.

With that in mind, I’d be really skeptical about anything free from the government or from corporations.

But Christians don’t need to waste a lot of energy worrying about who’s monitoring whom and who’s abusing power.  If you’ve read the gospels and believe them, you already know who the master power-broker is.  He already has seized power over all the kingdoms of the world.  We also know his motivations–at least in a broad sense–to destroy Christ’s church.  Finally, we know that his insubordinate misuse of power is kept within limits by God’s grace and the prayers of Jesus togetherwith His bride, the Church.  We also know the devil’s defeat is certain.

 

‘Everyone in US under virtual surveillance’ – NSA whistleblower

Published: 04 December, 2012, 18:01

The FBI has the e-mails of nearly all US citizens, including congressional members, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. Speaking to RT he warned that the government can use information against anyone it wants.

­One of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history resigned in 2001 because he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the constitution.

He asserts, that the FBI has access to this data due to a powerful device Naris.

This year Binney received the Callaway award. The annual award was established to recognize those, who stand out for constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.

RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?

William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the e-mails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.

RT: And it’s not just about those, who could be planning, who could be a threat to national security, but also those, who could be just…

WB: It’s everybody. The Naris device if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10 gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why the building Buffdale, because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, e-mails are going to be stored there for the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.

RT: You mean it’s being collected in bulk without even requesting providers?

WB:Yes.

RT: Then what about Google, you know, releasing this biannual transparency report and saying that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high and for all of those requesting the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90% of the time. But they are still saying that they are making the request, it’s not like it’s all being funneled into that storage. What do you say to that?

WB: I would assume, that it’s just simply another source for the same data they are already collecting. My line is in declarations in a court about the 18-T facility in San Francisco, that documented the NSA room inside that AST&T facility, where they had Naris devices to collect data off the fiber optic lines inside the United States. So, that’s kind of a powerful device, that would collect everything it was being sent. It could collect on the order over one hundred billion one thousand character e-mails a day. One device.

RT: You say they sift through billions of e-mails. I wonder how do they prioritize? How do they filter it?

WB: I don’t think they are filtering it. They are just storing it. I think it’s just a matter of selecting when they want it. So, if they want to target you, they would take your attributes, go into that database and pull out all your data.

Read more…

Are our leaders in touch with reality in foreign policy?

November 3, 2012 Leave a comment

An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor on September 12 called on Muslims to “assert their faith’s teachings of peace and mercy as the answer to such hate”:

        While Muslims worldwise may be angered by acts of religious bigotry, most know that killing in the name of Islam is hardly favorable to Islam…Yet Muslim fears of blasphemy remain strong…Each violent response should compel Muslims to assert Islam’s teaching of tolerance…Until enough peace-minded Muslims stand up for an interpretation of Islam that sees freedom as necessary for the flourishing of faith, these governments will continue their campaigns of intolerance or wink approval at mobs of zealots.

This article is full of the same nonsense parroted in other mainstream media.  It is taken as axiomatic that Islam teaches peace, mercy, and tolerance.  Writing seven decades ago, Arthur Jeffery dismissed as “the sheerest sophistry” the same tendency apparent among some Western scholars in his own time.  He understood that that the “peace” that Muslim believers are called upon to implement is impossible unless it is established under hegemonic Islamic rule.

The editorial in the Christian Science Monitor asserts that Muslims fear blasphemy, without explaining what Muslims mean by that word–any irreverent behavior toward persons, objects, rites, and beliefs that Muslims revere.  To put it succinctly, violating sharia is blasphemous.  Not accepting the divine origin of the Koran is blasphemous.  Applying hte standards of natural morality to Muhammad’s career is blasphemous.  Resisting the imposition of sharia is blasphemous.  In the end, being a non-Muslim is blasphemous.

The expectation that “enough peace-loving Muslims” will stand up “for an interpretation of Islam that sees freedom as necessary for the flourishing of faith” is absurd.  Orthodox, mainstream Islam demands total, abject submission to the word of Allah and to the example of his prophet.  Any other “interpretation of Islam” is heresy and disbelief.  But willful self-deception continues.  The Western media began to call on “peace-loving Muslims” to stand up to their murderous coreligionists right after September 11, and they will continue to do so even if Manhattan is vaproized in a mushroom cloud.

In the video made to introduce himself to Libyans shortly before he took up his post as ambassador, Christopher Stevens said he was looking forward to his assignment “as we work together to build a free, democratic, prosperous Libya.”  As a fluent Arabic speaker with two previous tours of duty in Libya, if he believed what he said he was an imprudent man.  His diary indicates that he eventually came to see reality, but by then it was too late.

Srdja Trifkovic, “The Blowback”, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture (November 2012), p. 41.

The Movie that Got the Ambassador Killed

September 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I briefly started to look at the movie that is causing all the riots.  “The Innocence of Muslims.”

I don’t mind criticizing Islam. As a matter of fact, I don’t mind criticism of Christianity.  Frequently this kind of criticism is false and full of half truths.  But when people lie and tell half-truths about Christianity, I know that fair-minded people will eventually find out the truth.  The rabble of course will listen to any kind of evil story it wants to believe.

I guess we could say the man who made it had a right to do it.  I watched all of two minutes and was disgusted; it was lewd and it was along the lines of a minstrel show.  That’s not the kind of freedom of speech I want to be fighting for.

Well, I hate KFC too. But where does Allah say that if he gets blasphemed you should take it out on a fast food restaurant? If it does say that in the Quran, I’m kind of jealous.

Still, when riots are touched off by a movie as obviously idiotic as that one, it at least partly looks like Muslims are looking for an excuse.

Then again, who knows.  Maybe if someone had made a movie about Jesus like that 200 years ago, our grandparents would have rioted.  But they just did make a movie about Jesus like that when I was a little kid, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”  And I think some nuns stood on a picket line, but I’m pretty sure no one was killed.

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