Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Evangelical Pastors with Evangelical Flocks

Sad but true. Christ almost always walked and on one written account rode on a donkey, not a chariot, not a wagon or even a horse, but a donkey. Many of todays pastors have at least a Lexus, Cadillac and some a Rolls Royce and private jet. A good conman knows how to spin the bible to make money off the foolish.

If the brain refuses to see, the eyes are of no value.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Evangelical Mega-Church Leads Congregation in Consecration to Sacred Heart of Jesus Prayer

by  - 

Carolus, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0 / Adammeliski, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0
This is certainly surprising!
During a recent Friday night service,  a pastor at New Life Church, an evangelical Protestant megachurch in Colorado Springs, CO, reportedly led the congregation in something you wouldn’t normally expect: the Sign of the Cross and a prayer of a consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Redditer /u/MarvelDCgoodwithme, who is Catholic, explained on the /r/Catholicism subreddit that his Protestant mother attends the church and thought the prayer sounded Catholic. So she took pictures of a few of the slides with the prayer, which you can see at the bottom of this article.
And sure enough, it’s a prayer for consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesuscomposed by Pope Leo XIII in 1899! The slides also have a picture of the statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
“She said it happened after the sermon,” the redditer explained in a private message,  “the pastor presented the slides and asked the congregation to read the pray and if they agreed with it to pray it with him. The pastor also closed his prayers with the sign of the cross.”
We’ve reached out to New Life Church to learn more about their thinking in using the prayer but haven’t yet received a response.
New Life Church was founded in 1984 and has about 10,000 members. It was in the news in the early 2000s when its founding pastor Ted Haggard admitted to using drugs and regularly visiting a male escort. He was also later accused of making unwanted sexual advances on a young man in his 20s at the church. After Haggard was dismissed from his position, the church appointed a new pastor Brady Boyd who has since greatly expand the church’s reach.

Here’s the full text of the prayer:

“Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy most Sacred Heart.
“Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to Thy Father’s house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
“Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
“Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.
“Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise be to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.”

Here are pictures of some of the slides with the prayer:


Friday, April 7, 2017

Russia court considers Jehovah's Witnesses ban

  • 5 April 2017
  • From the sectionEurope

Media captionThe Russian authorities are clamping down on extremism nationwide

Russia's Supreme Court has begun hearing a government request to outlaw the Jehovah's Witnesses and declare it an extremist organisation.
The justice ministry has already placed its headquarters near St Petersburg on a list of extremist groups.
An estimated eight million people worldwide are part of the Christian-based movement, best known for going door to door looking for new converts.
It has 175,000 members in Russia and 395 branches across the country.
As the case began in Moscow on Wednesday, lawyers representing the movement submitted a counter suit, asking the High Court to declare its members victims of political repression and the justice ministry's action unlawful.
The court ruled that this was not part of its jurisdiction, but did not say whose it was, Russia's legal information agency reported. The case was eventually adjourned until Thursday.
The ministry argues that the Jehovah's Witnesses' activities "violate Russia's law on combating extremism" and their pamphlets incited hatred against other groups.
Jehovah's Witnesses representative Yaroslav Sivulsky told the BBC that the movement had nothing to do with extremism and he complained that in every case the courts never really listened to their arguments.
One pamphlet quoted the novelist Leo Tolstoy, describing the doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church as superstition and sorcery, according to BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford.

Russian struggle for Jehovah's Witnesses

The group was founded in the US in the late 19th Century and during Joseph Stalin's reign of terror in the Soviet Union it was outlawed and thousands of members were deported to Siberia. Other Christian groups were also persecuted.
As the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a revival of Christianity in Russia and the ban on Jehovah's Witnesses was lifted in 1991.

A young woman from the Jehovah's Witnesses is baptised on 20 July 2003 in PragueImage copyrightAFP
Image captionA Jehovah's Witnesses baptism in Prague (2003 pic)

Gradually attitudes towards the movement hardened and in 2004 a group was banned on charges of recruiting children and preventing believers from accepting medical assistance.
Witnesses take most of the Bible literally and refuse blood transfusions. They are not seen by traditional Christian Churches as a mainstream denomination.
In 2009 a report commissioned by prosecutors in southern Russia found that they "undermined respect" in other religions.
Human rights group Sova has said that an "official repressive campaign" has been conducted against the movement for years and many of their members have been physically attacked.

Friday, November 18, 2016

BREAKING: Orthodox Patriarchate moves to restore female deacons


NOVEMBER 17, 2016
As I noted earlier, yesterday I took part in with America Media on the subject of deacons in general and women deacons in particular. This morning, one of the panelists, George Demacopoulos, theologian and founding co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, passed along a timely item from the Orthodox (which has been translated by Google from the original Greek).
The big news, from George: “News broke this morning that the Patriarchate of Alexandria (which is the autocephalous head of Orthodox, Chalcedonian Christians in Africa) officially voted to restore the female diaconate.”
The story: 
On November 16  the Synod of aboriginal Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa continued its work under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodore Vstin Patriarchal Seat.
Speakers at today’s meeting were Ven. Nigeria Metropolitan k.Alexandros who developed the theme of fasting within the African reality and Ven. Cameroon Metropolitan. Gregory who omilise on the institution of Deaconesses the missionary field. Both rapporteurs presented with theological arguments the positions and proposals, was done no extensive discussion thereon.
On the subject of fasting decisions of the meeting will be announced shortly to the clergy and people of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Patriarchate by the Patriarchate Circulars.
On the issue of the institution of Deaconesses, it was decided to revive it and ordained bishops on tripartite committee for detailed consideration. (Emphasis added.)
There’s an interesting overview of the history of women deacons in the Orthodox church here.  An opposing (and highly critical) view can be read here.  
It remains unclear right now what, exactly, female deacons (or deaconesses?) would do in the Orthodox church, and how widespread this revival might actually be. It’s also not certain that this would be a ministry involving ordination.
So…There are a lot of unanswered questions. At the very least, this seems to me to be a significant first step, but much more discussion (or “consideration”) lies ahead.
We’ll see. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Gay in Grantham? The eroticising of the Church of England

SEPTEMBER 3, 2016 

It was normal in serious Christianity that when you encountered Jesus and gave your life to him you would ask to be baptised.
 In your dying to your old life and starting afresh with a new way of living and loving and being loved, you would take a new name – a Christian name. Perhaps the name of someone who had achieved great things for the kingdom of heaven.
 This would reflect what St Paul was writing about in Galatians 3.27.
“7 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” and in 2. Corinthians 5.17.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”.
The Bishop of Grantham has gone to the left wing Guardian newspaper (socialism is a religion amongst Church of England bishops), and ‘come out as gay.’
 He may well be a very nice and sincere man, whom I wish well, and will hold in my prayers. It is a horrid thing to be talked about in the public domain, and especially horrid to pressurized to do it by the threat of blackmail, as he was.
 But in coming out as gay, he is to some extent repudiating his faith in Christ. Why so? Because  he is choosing a new identity that is nothing to do with Christianity or the Gospels or the lived tradition, but is a social and political construct designed to dilute the Judaeo Christian ethics that underlie Christianised culture.
 To come out as gay is to adopt and promote an anthropology that is pagan and not Christian. It is to repudiate the paradigms of Scripture and overlay them with a model of human self-expression that the Bible tells us heads off in a different one than the one God intends for us. The Bible and the Christian tradition is very clear. We are made men or woman, and we come together in marriage where the gift of sexual attraction and expression is located with the intention of becoming co-creators with God and having children. The Bible knows nothing about sex as recreation, sex as self-fulfillment or sex outside marriage. It understands that these are option (known as temptations) and forbids them.
 This heading off in a different direction is something we all do (we call it  ‘sin’), and the remedy is simple. Jesus has paid the price, so turn round, come back, stop and start again (we call it repentance.).
 But by repudiating his identity in Christ and putting on a secular identity which is defined by erotic attraction outside the boundaries of marriage, a Christian would be repudiating his Christian identity and adopting  a romanticised-erotic one instead.
Why would a Christian repudiate their identity in Christ and adopt a secular erotic identity instead? Well, it might be to justify pursuing sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex.
 But in the case of the bishop of Grantham he has told the world three things.
 The first is that he is adopting an erotic sub Christian anthropology as a way of describing his core identity as a human being. No longer primarily ‘in Christ’, but rather primarily ‘gay’.
 The second is that he is not pursuing sexual intimacy with another man. That’s a good thing, because the House of bishops have passed ‘guidelines’ saying that is a requirement of bishops. (They could have referred to the Holy Scriptures, but House of Bishops guidelines seem to have more authority in the C of E.)
 The third thing he has told the world is that he is ‘in a relationship’ that has no sexual or erotic expression.  I find this very confusing. Many men are in a relationship with another man (though married to a woman) to whom they are deeply committed in an affectionate, and non erotic way. We call it friendship. We could even call it ‘best friends.’ But what is its relevance to anyone else?
Unless of course the bishop means to tell the world that he is sexually aroused by this (and other men), but claims special virtue for not acting on it.
But why would a bishop tell the world who erotically attracts him?
If the Archbishop of Canterbury told us he is erotically attracted and sexually and emotionally aroused by a woman he is not married to, but has not acted on it, I would suggest he just keep it for his confessor. It’s not anyone else’s business.
The difficulty here of course is the euphemism the bishop of Grantham has adopted by talking about ‘in a relationship’. No one can have the slightest idea what this means, apart from the fact that the poor bishop has said they don’t touch each other much (or he doesn’t act sexually on his feelings- whatever that means).
 He doesn’t tell us whether he has acted sexually on it (which would be a sin) or whether he will in the future (which would be a sin) only that there is a window in time (which is now) when he is not.
How have we got into this weird mess? Because the bishop of Grantham has adopted a sub Christian erotised anthropology in preference to the orthodox Christian understanding of personal and sexual identity.
 Was not being a bishop more important than ‘being gay’?
 Might his self-understanding of being a bishop encompassed being in a relationship with Jesus (as a baptised Christian) and being in a relationship with his body, the Church (as a bishop) both of which are undermined by his insisting  his primary self- understanding who is as a man who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other men- ‘gay’.)
 Whatever confusion the bishop of Grantham might suffer from in his own ranking of self –understanding, the Archbishop of Canterbury suffered no confusion when he appointed him.
 He knew that Dr Chamberlain self described as ‘gay’. He knew he was ‘in a relationship’ which was not sexually expressed; (who can imagine what line of questioning is required to establish what this actually means). He appointed him knowing that if the details emerged in the public sphere it would cause deep consternation to orthodox Christians who have no difficulty with a bishop who is single and has deep committed friendships, but do have difficulty with a bishop whose primary element in his self-understanding is to describe his erotic and emotional attraction to other men.
It may be that the Archbishop like the bishop fo Grantham as fallen prey to the spirit of the age and chosen to look at human identity and self-understanding through a sub Christian (and perhaps worse) anthropology.
 Rowan Williams faced similar dilemmas. At a personal level he found himself similarly attracted to secularised erotic anthroplogies. But unlike Archbishop Welby he understood that his commitment to bein Archbishop of Canterbury placed him also ‘in a relationship’; in a relationship with the Church where nothing had a greater claim on him than caring and protecting it in peace and as much unity as possible.
One can only assume that in his commitment to this new anthropology, and the appointing of ‘gay’ bishops,  Archbishop Welby has chosen to be reckless with his care of the Church, and if true, that would be a very terrible thing.
 In Christ, St Paul reminds us, there are no competing anthropologies. We are gender blind, (no male or female) no racism, (Jew or Gentile) no social snobbery (slave or free), and in Romans chapter 1, no ranking of same-sex relationships above God’s biological and social priorities for us in marriage.
 We must pray for the Bishop of Grantham and the Archbishop of Canterbury, that they will find a spiritual and intellectual understanding of what it is to be ‘in Christ’ that is infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than some of the other spirits who inform their theology and their priorities.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Muslim mother supports her Catholic priest son

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 20, 2015–A Muslim mother gave her blessing and support to her son who recently became one of the 11 newly ordained priests from the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) order in the presence of Archbishop Vincensius Sensi Potokota.
Siti Asiyah, a Muslim mother, accepts his son, Robertus Asiyanto, to be inaugurated as a priest in Ledalero Maumere, October 10, 2015. Photo Credit: katolikkita.com
Robertus Belarminus Asiyanto, 31, was ordained last Oct. 10 at the St. Paul Ledalero Seminary, Maumere, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. During the ordination rites, he was accompanied by his mother, Siti Asiyah, who was wearing Islamic dress, including the hijab.
Despite her religious beliefs, Asiyanto’s mother laid her hands on her son’s head and said that she was really happy to see her son ordained as a Catholic priest. Everyone in the celebration applauded her gesture and statement, and admired her love for her son as she was in tears while witnessing the ordination rites.
Fr. Leo Kleden, Superior Provincial of SVD Ende Province, said that Asiyanto was born in Flores and spent his early childhood in a Catholic neighborhood. “He has been a Catholic since he was a kid, perhaps since he was in primary school,” he said.
With a strong desire to pursue his priestly calling, Asiyanto proceeded to the seminary, and prior to his priestly ordination, asked for the blessing of his mother as it was really a big thing for him. Asiyanto’s mother said, “follow your heart.”
“She is a remarkable mother. She raised her son well and gave him the freedom to become a priest,” he also added.
The island of Flores is a part of Eastern Nusa Taggara province that has the most prevalent concentration of Catholics in Indonesia – forming the majority of its population. Reports say that it is rare for a Muslim family to willingly and happily accept the conversion of a son to Catholicism and also support his vocation as a priest. (Myraine Joly Carluen – Policarpio)

Friday, October 23, 2015

German pastor wages valiant fight to defend Christianity now under fire in his country

(Facebook/Solidarit├Ąt mit Olaf Latzel)
Pastor Olaf Latzel says 'if you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and everyone is clapping his hand, then you have a problem.'
Just like most Western nations, Germany is now being covered by a "profound spiritual darkness," according to Charisma News.
The Christian news source noted that Germany is remembered as the birthplace of the Reformation and was once a base for world Christian missions.
But now, true followers of Jesus Christ in the country are under fire in the media, by their own government and even denounced by fellow Christians whose faith has been subverted, according to Pastor Olaf Latzel of Bremen, Germany.
Latzel knows full well what he is saying since he is one of the prime targets of what he regards as anti-Christian conspiracy in his country.
In today's Germany, Latzel said traditional Christian teaching is now viewed by many as bigoted, hateful, and even "un-Christian."
"I'm only preaching the Gospel in a clear way," Latzel told Charisma News. "I think it is my duty to do this preaching in this way for our Lord."
In his sermons, Latzel speaks his mind out, standing against what he sees as a spirit of compromise that "seems to have swallowed Germany and the German state church," Charisma News said.
As a result, he has infuriated the German government and, sadly, even some German pastors who wanted to reconcile with non-Christians.
Latzel said the fundamental question in the German church today is who God really is.
Latzel said some of his fellow Christian pastors believe that "Allah and Jesus Christ, the Christian God, is the same god."
"But if you ask a Muslim, 'Does your god have a son?' he would say no!" he said. "Our (Christian) God has a son; His name is Jesus Christ. So, they are not the same."
"If you speak out loud and clearly about the truth of the Bible, that there's only one way to heaven and this way is Jesus Christ, there is only one God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and there is no other god beside Him, then you have a problem," he said.
Because of outspokenness and courage to defend his faith, 70 German pastors gathered in Bremen this year under the banner of "diversity" to denounce Latzel.
Accused of making hate speeches, the public prosecutor investigated him but later cleared him.
But this did not stop the Bremen parliament from passing a resolution to condemn him. Charisma News said it was the first time a German pastor was condemned by a German parliament since World War II.
But instead of losing heart, Latzel said the challenges he has to face only makes him stronger.
Latzel, who comes from a family of soldiers, said he is in a "war" between Christ and the devil, and the attacks reassure him.
"This is one sign that you are on the right way in your preaching, when you get problems," Latzel said. "If you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and everyone is clapping his hand, then you have a problem."
"Because, if you're telling the truth from the Bible, then the devil will come and he will fight against you in several ways; he will fight against the Word of God," he said.
Latzel is the pastor at the historic St. Martini (St. Martin's) Church in Bremen, where the great hymn "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" was written in 1679 by the church's pastor, Joachim Neander.