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Why the Church?
On December 24, 2005, J. Edwin Pope will give the sermon, titled “Why the Church?”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
There are many aspects of false worship but one area that has
proliferated in more recent times has been that of the celebrity
culture. It has always been there, of course, but celebrity and hero
worship seems to have become embedded in a society where entertainment
and the media take center stage.
Recently in the UK we had the
spectacle of the funeral of an outstanding footballer [soccer player
for our American readers] who, by common consent, was one of the best
that the country had ever produced. He was just 59 years of age with a
chequered personal history of alcoholism and other problems, and yet he
was worshipped like a god. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the
funeral route, a motorcade escorted the hearse, and there was huge bill
for policing. A massive amount of flowers was laid outside his former
football club, and a minute’s silence was observed at football matches
throughout the land. Perhaps this was hardly surprising as
football is the new religion.
We had a similar outpouring of
grief when Princess Diana died a few years ago. One Church minister
said about this event: “Yes, ‘we all’ had shared the grief at Diana’s
death, ‘we all cried’, we all laid flowers, went to the funeral and
sang along to Elton John. But actually, by trying to pretend that Diana
was something other than human, we were guilty of ‘paganism’,
attributing the characteristics of holiness to an insufficiently worthy
vessel. We had worshipped the wrong thing, and worshipped in the wrong
Diana, it was implied, had been melted down and turned into
a golden calf. A former Prime Minister said that his perception was
that because we have become a secular society, the outpouring of grief
for Princess Diana was a manifestation of the worshipping of
These two events were linked in many people’s minds
here in the UK. One commentator wrote: “Not since that distant late
summer day when Princess Diana’s coffin was borne through the streets
of London have so many people turned out to demonstrate their surging
affection and sense of loss.”
And yet the Bible is very clear on
this issue: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3) and:
“You shall not bow down to them nor serve them (verse 5).” Although
specifically referring to carved images, the worship of anyone or
anything can be covered by this verse. Aren’t we most blessed to
understand that, while we can admire others, only the true Creator God
is to be worshipped, and not flawed human beings?
let us not forget the false worship that is currently in full swing
with the inevitable Christmas celebrations. Much has been
written about that matter over the years and the recent member letter
discussed the “spirit” of Christmas. But only God is to be worshipped,
and only in the way that He has prescribed, and nothing else will
This Week in the News
Christmas Is Wrong… So What?
A shocking headline? Perhaps! But it reflects–sadly–the view point of many Christians these days. Even though they know that it is pagan, they see nothing wrong with it.
USA Weekend published an article on December 18, 2005, pointing out the following:
“If you think Scrooge and the Grinch are grumpy come Christmastime, consider the Puritans: These founding fathers banned Christmas! From 1659 to 1681, the devout Puritans of Massachusetts outlawed Christmas celebrations in Boston in part because they felt the holiday was rooted in, and therefore tainted by, pagan customs. And THEY WERE RIGHT: Much of what we celebrate about Christmas — from decorated trees to yule logs and mistletoe — does come from pagan myths and customs. These folk practices were wrapped around the nativity story and became the colorful array of Christmas customs observed today. Here are the stories behind some of our favorite holiday symbols:
“Christmas trees: The pagans get credit for using evergreens, the ancient symbols of life — trees that remained alive in the dead of winter… Santa Claus:… the predecessor to Santa Claus is based on the Norse god Odin, who rode through the winter skies on his eight-legged horse and brought gifts to the needy. Odin became Father Christmas, and the eight-legged horse transformed into eight reindeer. Mistletoe: The kissing tradition stems from Celtic and Norse myths. Considered sacred by the Celtic Druids, evergreen mistletoe was a healing plant so holy that enemies would lay down their arms if they met beneath it. Mistletoe emerged as a token of peace and, thanks to Norse myths, eventually romance.”
But unbelievable, perhaps, here is the conclusion of the article’s author: “Understanding the roots of Christmas doesn’t change the meaning of the holiday. Whether you say ‘Joyeux Noel,’ ‘God Yul’ or ‘Buon Natale,’ the season is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the hope for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.”
In a related article by the Scripps Howard News Service, the question was asked: “How hard should Christians fight for Christmas?” And a surprising answer was given, as follows: “… I’m not sure we Christians should spend too much time saving the public use of red and green decorations, or candy canes, or ‘Christmas’ trees, or ‘Christmas’ cards or demand that stores wish us a ‘Merry Christmas’ when we purchase our ‘Christmas’ Pods and Palm Trees at this time of year… I mean, none of this has anything to do with Christmas. IN FACT, CHRISTMAS DOESN’T REALLY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ‘CHRISTMAS.'”
“Let’s face it… Early Christians didn’t consider celebrating his [Christ’s] birth. That ‘Holy Day’ came later, probably when early missionaries conflated celebrating Christ’s birth with Pagan festivals as a way of trying to convert lost souls. The holiday didn’t really catch on as we know it today until Victorian times. And no, there was no brightly lighted or decorated Christmas tree in the manger. That was largely popularized as we know it now by Prince Albert in England, who brought one over from his native Germany.
“In fact, in part because our early American puritan forefathers were opposed to the pagan origins of ‘Christmas,’ in many early New England communities its celebration was literally banned. (For the same reasons, it was also banned for a time in England in the 1600s.) No, little puritan children never got to sit on Santa’s lap. And you know all those creche scenes which depict the wise men at the manger? Those fellows probably didn’t actually show up until around the time Christ was a toddler.
“When I lived in Virginia, I was a member of a Presbyterian church that did not officially recognize ‘Christmas.’ While the parishioners, including the pastor, typically celebrated the holiday with all its trimmings as largely a secular celebration, it wasn’t part of our church calendar in any way because an annual celebration of Christ’s birth wasn’t called for in scripture. (I had Christian friends who just could not get that.)”
But again, after reading all of these correct expressions of wisdom, the author’s conclusion is nothing but shocking: “Now look, I go ga-ga over ‘Christmas.’ I love the songs, the lights, the gifts, the chaos, the parties, the whole deal. I don’t hold back. It’s fun! The older I get, the more ga-ga I get. When my first was born, I was adamant that I wouldn’t tell him that Santa Claus was anything but a lovely story. By the time number four came along, I was adamant that the Santa she was talking to at the mall just HAD to be the real one. I just recognize it for what it is–a largely secular celebration. Now I’m all for Christmas Day being a national holiday.”
How true is God’s Word, telling us that the “wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). For more information, please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
Santa Claus a Myth…
… but teachers are not allowed to say it! In fact, they are instructed to teach the LIE of Santa Claus. And so, our young children are still being told LIES by their teachers–and concerned parents are not permitted to stop it.
This reads like a Crime or Horror Story from the Middle Ages. But, it’s happening in the sophisticated, civilized and modern United States of America–year after year. As WorldNetDaily reported on December 15, 2005:
“After angry calls from parents and involvement of school administrators, an elementary music teacher has RECANTED statements she made to her first-grade students earlier this week that Santa Claus was a MYTH. ‘She told the students that in fact SHE HAD HEARD FROM SANTA, and she WANTED TO REASSURE THEM THAT HE IS ALIVE AND WELL in the spirit of Christmas,’ Jeanne Guerra, Richardson, Texas, school district spokeswoman told the Dallas Morning News. The quick turnaround was the result of the teacher’s bosses receiving calls from parents upset that the part-time instructor would tell such young children that Santa wasn’t real. Guerra said the teacher MISSPOKE during a lesson about holiday traditions. During a discussion about how Christmas presents are delivered, the teacher reportedly told the children it was actually parents who were responsible for Santa’s gifts. According to the paper’s report, a student quickly disputed the teacher’s contention, at which time she realized the age of the children and quickly changed the subject. ‘Santa Claus is an important part of the holiday season for many children,’ a district statement said.”
End-of-Year News Conference
As AFP reported on December 19, 2005, “US President George W. Bush mounted a robust defense of domestic spying programs and hotly disputed anti-terror laws, in an end-of-year news conference at the White House. Bush rolled out a combative performance as he sought to right his presidency after a testing year which saw his popularity tumble amid bloodshed in Iraq, the Hurricane Katrina debacle and scandals soiling his Republican party.
“The president, under fire over revelations that he authorized the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance missions on terror suspects within the United States, contrary to legal precedent, was unapologetic… Bush also said he expected a full investigation into who leaked information about the secret wiretaps to the New York Times, which published a story on the issue last week, after holding off for a year amid administration protests… As debate on civil liberties and the battle against terrorism rumbled on, Bush demanded recalcitrant senators drop their opposition to renewal of the Patriot Act, which has also attracted concern from the civil liberties lobby. ‘The senators … must stop their delaying tactics and the Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act,’ he said of an act which expires in 12 days.”
Subsequently, it was reported by The Associated Press on December 22, that “The… Senate on Wednesday approved a six-month extension of the USA Patriot Act to keep the anti-terror law from expiring on Dec. 31. President Bush gave it his grudging blessing. The Republican-controlled House is now expected to come back and consider the legislation keeping the 16 provisions of the law passed after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington from expiring. Republican leaders and Bush wanted to make most of the law permanent, but were stymied by a filibuster in the Senate and had to resort to a six-month extension.”
USA Today stated on December 20:
“President Bush made an unapologetic defense Monday of a controversial program to spy on some Americans’ international phone calls WITHOUT COURT WARRANTS, VOWING TO CONTINUE IT as long as the nation faces ‘an enemy that wants to kill American citizens.'”
AFP wrote in a follow-up article on December 20 that President Bush “vowed TO EXTEND an unprecedented spy effort targeting US citizens with suspected ties to Al-Qaeda and denied that the program was illegal or an abuse of his power.”
But as The Associated Press reported on December 20, “Some Democrats say they never approved a domestic wiretapping program, undermining suggestions by President Bush and his senior advisers that the plan was fully vetted in a series of congressional briefings… Some legal experts described the program as groundbreaking… [Before President Bush’s news conference,] there was a growing storm of criticism in Congress and calls for investigations, from Democrats and Republicans alike… The SPYING UPROAR WAS THE LATEST CONTROVERSY about Bush’s handling of the war on terror. It follows allegations of secret prisons in Eastern Europe and of torture and other mistreatment of detainees, and an American death toll in Iraq that has exceeded 2,150.”
First Afghan Parliament
Reuters reported on December 19, 2005, about the historic fact that the first Afghan parliament in decades was sworn in on Monday. This development was viewed as an overwhelming victory of the international efforts to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan. But–was it? The article pointed out:
“Former warlords, ex-communists, Taliban defectors and women activists were sworn in on Monday as members of the first Afghan parliament in more than 30 years amid hopes of national reconciliation after decades of bloodshed. The inauguration was peaceful despite threats by Taliban guerrillas and was greeted with tears of emotion although there is disappointment that many in the parliament are accused of serious rights abuses and links to the drugs trade.”
The article continued:
“Human Rights Watch says up to 60 percent of deputies are warlords or their proxies, boding ill for efforts to account for abuses and to stamp out a massive drugs trade. Malalai Joya, a 27-year-old MP, told reporters she was upset by an assembly of ‘warlords, war criminals and drug lords’ and vowed to reveal their crimes, or resign… Opinions differed among Afghans. Government employee Ghulam Faroq, 60, said it was time to forget the past, but businessman Abdul Karim, 40, said parliament was ‘defective.’ ‘It was decided by the U.S.,’ he said. ‘It won’t be able to do anything for Afghans because lots of MPs are illiterate and most are warlords who know nothing except killing people.'”
Turkey in the News
The Associated Press reported on December 15, 2005, about a controversial and unwelcome trial in Turkey, which could jeopardize Turkey’s future proposed membership in the EU. As Turkey is identified as the Biblical Edom, it is highly unlikely that Turkey will become a member of the EU, even though it WILL cooperate with Europe. The article pointed out:
“Turkey’s foremost novelist goes on trial Friday in Istanbul in a free-speech case that has divided the nation, embarrassed its liberals and cast a pall over its dream of joining the European Union. For Europeans who oppose Turkey’s membership in their prosperous club of democracies, the prosecution of Orhan Pamuk reinforces the view that the nation of 70 million Muslims, WHILE A USEFUL BUFFER BETWEEN EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST, is no part of contemporary European civilization. Pamuk… faces up to three years in prison for saying to a Swiss newspaper in February that no one in Turkey is willing to deal with painful episodes in the country’s past treatment of its Armenian minority or its continuing problems with its 12 million Kurdish citizens. His remark that ‘30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it,’ is being prosecuted as a breach of a law against insulting the Turkish Republic or ‘Turkishness.'”
The article continued:
“On Thursday, the European Union made the stakes clear. ‘It is not Orhan Pamuk who will stand trial tomorrow, but Turkey,’ said EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, adding that prosecuting ‘a nonviolent opinion casts a shadow over the accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU.’… The Bush administration regards Turkey as an ally and strongly backs its admission to the EU… The dilemma has grown more acute now that even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a staunch supporter of Turkey’s admission to the EU, is saying it can only happen if Turkey embraces European standards of free expression.”
These events are interesting in light of Biblical prophecies dealing with Edom. As mentioned, Edom describes modern Turkey–and not, as some erroneously claim–the Palestinians or Arab terrorist organizations. Such views are not supported in Scripture at all–in fact, several Biblical passages refute such an understanding. Let us therefore continue to watch the interesting developments in TURKEY.
“Domino” Bolivia Falls
As Der Spiegel Online reported on December 20, “The leftward shift in Latin America shows no signs of abatement. From the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego, South American voters are rejecting ’90s-style free market policies for varying shades of socialism. Now Bolivia has followed suit, electing left-winger Evo Morales.” The article continued:
“When George Bush went to the Summit of the Americas in Argentina last November, he found that he had few friends. There was Vicente Fox of Mexico and Alvaro Uribe Velez of Colombia, but the guy who dominated the summit was Hugo Chavez, the left-wing Venezuelan who has become a thorn in Washington’s side. Washington has watched one electorate after another in South America turn its back on pro-globalization leaders and vote for left-wing governments. Now Bolivia has gone the same way.”
Jesus a Magician?
Discovery Channel announced that they will air on “Christmas eve” a special program about the miracles of Jesus, presented by Brock Gill, a world-renown magician and illusionist, who also claims to be a Christian. The program will address such questions as whether the miracles of Jesus can be re-created using 21st century technology. Brock will be asking: “Was He a magician? Was He an illusionist? Was He a hypnotist?… Was He a paranormalist? Or was He just a master of psychology? What was the deal? Was He a real miracle worker?”
The program will allegedly investigate three different locations where Jesus performed His miracles: Nain, Galilee, where the widow’s son was raised from the dead; the Golan Heights, where the multiplication of loaves and fishes for the feeding of 5,000 people took place; and the Sea of Galilee where Christ walked on water.
“I’ve always been fascinated by miracles, ever since I was a kid reading the Bible stories. They were so outside of the ordinary,” says Brock. “I always liked the idea of being able to walk across the water.”
We don’t know where this program is heading, or what beneficial value–if any–it will contain. The way in which the program is described, however, may create great disagreement with and damage for the inspired Word of God. We will, however, reserve further comments until after the program has been aired.
Chancellor Merkel–The Peacemaker
The Independent, a newspaper from Great Britain, reported on December 17: “During a day of tense talks, the new German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, emerged as a key powerbroker between Tony Blair and the French President, Jacques Chirac, as she attended her first European summit… The German Chancellor met Mr Blair and M. Chirac separately, then held a meeting with both. She also held talks with the French President, the Austrian Chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker.”
AFP added on December 18: “While Europe’s political leaders haggled over the sacrifices underpinning a budget accord, Germany’s Angela Merkel — a newcomer on the EU summit scene — quietly emerged as a key mediator in the diplomatic hurly-burly. It was a measure of her success that the deal eventually clinched by Blair was for precisely the spending limit Merkel had proposed. ‘She played an extraordinarily important role behind the scenes,’ Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said. ‘It was her debut at a European summit, and she pulled it off brilliantly. She was cool, calm and very professional.’ Her tactics were also hailed by the European press. ‘THE GERMAN WALLET SAVED THE EU BUDGET,’ wrote the Svenska Dagbladet in its online edition, saying she had agreed to a higher budget level ‘so Blair could gather his “Christmas presents” for those who were dissatisfied.’ France’s Le Figaro newspaper went further. ‘It appeared as if WITHOUT HER, Europe would have found itself in a new political crisis.'”
Merkel for Europe
The EUobserver reported on December 19, 2005, that Angela Merkel is determined to save the EU Constitution, as is. “Germany takes over the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2007 and could play a key-role in reviving the constitution, Elmar Brok, a prominent member of Ms Merkel’s CDU party in the European Parliament, pointed out. ‘It will be the main task for the German EU presidency’, he said. In May 2007 France is to hold presidential elections while the Netherlands will hold parliamentary elections. ‘Following these terms, it falls INTO THE HAND OF GERMANY, to save the constitution’, Mr Brok said.”
Europe After Blair
The Telegraph, a British paper, reported on December 20:
“Europe’s federalist leaders yesterday celebrated the last days of Britain’s EU presidency and announced that the ‘time is ripe’ for reviving their most cherished project: the EU constitution. With BRITAIN’S PRESIDENCY–seen in Brussels as a time of MISERABLE STAGNATION–expiring this month, the baton is already passing to the next holders, AUSTRIA. Ursula Plassnik, the Austrian foreign minister, flew to Brussels yesterday to hail the constitution as holding the answers to key questions about Europe. Austria would relaunch the debate on the future of Europe at a June 2006 summit, Mrs Plassnik said.”
Europe’s Club Within a Club
The United States of Europe are not dead. But they may evolve differently than many have thought, perhaps as a club within the club–as a group of core nations directing the EU?
Der Spiegel Online discussed Europe’s future in its article, dated December 19, 2005, reporting about the old, but newly emerging idea of several core nations within Europe. The article pointed out:
“The fact is, a 25-member European club has proven to be incredibly unwieldy. The solution could be the creation of an EU core… For months, the EU — the mini-success of a budget agreement aside — has slid from one defeat to the next. And it’s a trend that isn’t likely to reverse itself anytime soon. Which has leant an increasing amount of credence to an idea that has been kicking around the halls of Brussels for some time now: that of creating a club within the European club. The heads of those states that have been in the EU the longest feel that they — working together — can lead Europe out of its current crisis. Old Europe pulling new Europe along behind… The idea would involve some EU core countries taking the next step toward Europe’s future ALONE… Indeed, [Prime Minister of Belgium, Guy] Verhofstadt has already issued a ‘manifesto’ describing just how such a ‘new Europe’ might look. The core of such a Europe would be a small group of states — a sort of ‘United States of Europe’ as he calls it — bound closely together. Those countries wary of such intimate alignment would form a looser alliance surrounding the tightly-knit core group. The ‘Organization of European States,’ as Verhofstadt has christened it.
“Verhofstadt has already started peddling his idea and has approached French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. THEY HAVE SHOWN INTEREST…”
The article continued:
“Verhofstadt’s model of a core EU ALREADY EXISTS: the single currency euro zone… When EU finance ministers meet, the 12 ministers from the euro zone hold talks among themselves before they meet the 13 colleagues whose countries haven’t adopted the euro. In that pre-meeting, THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS FOR THE EURO ZONE ARE MADE — in the club of the avant-garde. And it’s a model that could conceivably be transferred from finance policy to other areas — with the euro zone core leading the way. It’s an idea that has been launched by France and which has found a certain degree of acceptance. Already, the first summit of euro-group leaders has been penciled in for 2006.”
In other words, according to this model, those countries which have adopted the euro would constitute the club of core nations, while those countries which have not adopted the euro, including Great Britain, would NOT. The concluding remarks of the article could prove to be almost prophetic:
“In 2007, Jacques Chirac will likely be facing retirement at the hands of French voters. Chancellor Merkel, on the other hand, will just have taken over the EU presidency — it will be Germany’s turn to run the show for the first six months of 2007. Merkel, who has emerged as Europe’s new star following the weekend’s budget agreement, would have a perfect opportunity to secure her European legacy. SHE COULD TRANSFORM THE EURO GROUP INTO A NEW, SOLID, POLITICAL CORE OF A UNIFIED EUROPE.”
Schroeder’s Pipeline Gains (Some) Support
As Deutsche Welle reported on December 16, 2005, some members of the German Parliament have apparently begun to realize that former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s involvement with the German-Russian pipeline might not be all that bad for Germany. While conservatives and those of the opposition, in typical political fashion, condemned Schröder’s conduct, most, but not all, Social Democrats, in likewise typical political fashion, conveniently chose to REFUSE making decisive comments. As the news agency reported:
“The German parliament pondered the ethical implications associated with former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s decision to take a top position on a Russian-German energy project so quickly after leaving office. The news that Schröder would head the supervisory board of the North European Gas Pipeline (NGEP) less than one month after leaving the chancellor’s office met with immediate disapproval from parliamentary conservatives Thursday, opening cracks in the governing grand coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats… One of Schröder’s closest confidents, Müntefering, said it was not up to the current administration to make judgments on what kinds of work former politicians should or should not accept. He also said he was convinced Schröder would act in Germany’s best interest. ‘I’m personally glad he did it,’ Müntefering said. ‘It is a strategic project for all of Europe.’… Earlier this week Schröder defended his new post, calling it an honor to lead the project that would bring gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea… Social Democratic head and former defense minister under Schröder, Peter Struck, also said Schröder’s participation in the project would be good for Germany.”
Politics in the UK
According to information received from one of our correspondents in the UK, “Already the new UK Conservative leader David Cameron has invited a lesbian as part of his team. In the UK there is an increasing tendency to recognize homosexuals and lesbians in government circles. This week there was an article in the Daily Mail alluding to the persistent chastisement of those who call people ‘homophobic’ who demonstrate against homosexual practices. I wrote a letter to the Editor that I just wondered if these people would dare call God Himself homophobic because He calls the practice abominable! The Editor wouldn’t print it.”
Homosexual “Marriages” in the UK
As The Telegraph reported on December 22, “The most sweeping social reform for 40 years came to fruition yesterday when nearly 700 couples, including Sir Elton John and David Furnish, celebrated England’s first gay ‘weddings.’ To the delight of gay rights campaigners and the dismay of many Church leaders, homosexual couples ‘tied the knot’ in ceremonies that were hardly distinguishable from civil marriages. The sense of history was heightened by Tony Blair, who welcomed the new civil partnerships as ‘a modern, progressive step’ of which he was proud…
“But hard-line Christian campaigners described the ‘weddings’ as ‘a sham and an affront to almighty God’. Stephen Green, the national director of Christian Voice, said: ‘Ordinary people will be revolted by the sight of these couples embracing and the recognition in our law of what the Bible describes as an abomination and ‘vile affection’ will bring judgment on our land from the same Almighty God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.'”
In a related article of the Evening Standard, which was published on December 19, it was reported that prior to Sir Elton John’s wedding, a video message from Bill Clinton was played at a cabaret party. In the message, Mr. Clinton congratulated Elton John and David Furnish, stating, “If there were more people like Elton, the world would be a better place.”
Schwarzenegger vs. Graz
Der Spiegel Online reported on December 20:
“The execution of Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams in California has sent ripples of outrage through Europe, in part because one of its native sons refused to grant clemency. Now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Austrian hometown of Graz has threatened to remove his name from its soccer stadium — but the Terminator fights back… No sooner had the Austrian city of Graz begun a petition to remove the name ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ from its football (sorry, soccer) stadium than the governor of California fired off a fax. You can’t use it anyway, wrote Gov. Schwarzenegger to Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl, in German: ‘In the future, the use of my name to advertise or promote the city of Graz in any way is not allowed… In all likelihood… during my term as governor I will have to make similar and equally difficult decisions. In order to spare the responsible politicians of the city of Graz further concern, I withdraw from them as of this day the right to use my name in association with the … stadium. You will receive related correspondence from my legal counsel shortly.’ …
“The earliest Graz would have considered removing the name by itself was January 19. Schwarzenegger beat them to it. He has also sent back a ‘ring of honor’ awarded to him by Graz in 1999. ‘Since … official Graz appears to no longer accept me as one of their own, this ring has lost its meaning and value to me,’ Schwarzenegger wrote. ‘It is already in the mail.'”
Compromise For Unity?
In its attempt to achieve unity amongst all Christians, the Catholic Church has again emphasized that this goal might have to be achieved through compromise. Of course, it was not put quite that way. Rather, it was stated that the submission of “our” will under God’s Will was required.
VIS reported on December 15, 2005: “Benedict XVI today received members of the joint coordinating committee of the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.” The Pope “pointed out that the renewed dialogue will consider two aspects: ‘On the one hand, eliminating the remaining differences, and on the other, upholding the fundamental desire to do everything possible to re-establish full communion, which is so essential for the community of the disciples of Christ, as the preparatory document of your work makes clear. We must seek out God’s will… though it may not correspond to our simple human projects. We must achieve full unity of the Church and reconciliation among Christians, even at the cost of submitting our own will to the will of the Lord.”
This development might serve, perhaps, as a warning against “unity” at all costs. Even in God’s Church, some advocate mergers between several groups. However, if such a goal can only be achieved through compromise of established and revealed Biblical doctrines and practices, it cannot be pursued in such a way.
Evolution Nothing But A Theory!!!
Thanks to the correct understanding of a Federal Appeals Court, Evolution CAN be CORRECTLY described as merely a theory, and NOT as a fact. The Associated Press reported on December 15, 2005, that “A federal appeals panel Thursday questioned the accuracy of a judge’s ruling that a disclaimer in school textbooks describing evolution as ‘a theory, not a fact’ represents an endorsement of religion. ‘I don’t think you all can contest any of the sentences’ on the disclaimer sticker, Judge Ed Carnes of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told an attorney arguing for parents who sued.
“‘IT IS A THEORY, NOT A FACT; the book supports that,’ Carnes said… The panel did not indicate when it would rule.”
It is hoped that the court will rule in favor of truth and accuracy–that is, that a label on school books advising that evolution is merely a theory, and not a fact, must NOT be removed from those books. Actually, evolution is really nothing but a fable. For further information, please read our free booklet, “Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults.”
But, of course, most don’t [want to] see it that way. As USA Today reported on December 21, 2005, “A federal judge dealt a major setback Tuesday to backers of the idea that some forms of life are so complex that they must be the product of an intelligent designer. Judge John Jones ruled that it is unconstitutional to teach the concept in public school science classes because it is ‘a religious view.’… Jones’ ruling is not binding outside the Middle District of Pennsylvania, but attorneys and outside experts say it will have broad impact on judges, lawyers and school boards… Intelligent design theory does not answer the question of who or what is the designer… In his ruling, Jones said intelligent design ‘violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation’; it relies on ‘flawed and illogical’ arguments; and its attacks on evolution ‘have been refuted by the scientific community.'”
However, neither Evolution nor Intelligent Design give us critical answers about WHO created Man, and WHY. Please be sure to listen to this week’s StandingWatch program, titled, “Evolution or the Bible?”
Water on Mars?
On December 22, 2005, UPI reported about another major setback to the concept that there must be–or must have been–life on other planets, such as Mars. Earlier this year, scientists proclaimed that they found evidence for water on Mars. Now it was strongly suggested that they did not. UPI stated:
“Two Arizona State University geologists say features at the Opportunity landing site on Mars were formed not by a lake, but by constant meteorite strikes… The site where the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landed has sediments and layered structures that are thought to be formed by the evaporation of an acidic salty sea. The prevailing thought is that when the Martian sea existed it may have supported life forms and thus would be a prime site to explore for fossils. However, ASU geologists L. Paul Knauth and Donald Burt — along with Kenneth Wohletz of Los Alamos National Laboratory — say base surges resulting from massive explosions caused by meteorite strikes offer a simpler and more consistent explanation for the rock formations and sediment layers.”
Elections in Iraq
Many have hailed the success in Iraq by pointing at the most recent historic governmental election. But not all seems to be “satisfactory” or a cause for joy. As AFP reported on December 20, there is already increased cause for concern due to the surprisingly low approval rate of Sunnis and the surprisingly high approval rate of Shiites in partial election results.
The news agency reported:
“Iraq’s largest Sunni political coalition has contested partial election results and threatened to demand a new ballot despite calls from US President George W. Bush for a swift new government. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also appealed Tuesday for a broad-based government representing the entire ethnic and political spectrum following Thursday’s landmark general election.
“The National Concord Front, a coalition of three major Sunni powers that competed in parliamentary polls for the first time, condemned what it described as fraud and violations in the election… The conservative Shiite United Iraqi Alliance list won 58 percent of the vote in Baghdad while the National Concord Front came second with 18.6 percent, according to partial results announced by the electoral commission on Monday. ‘The electoral commission can still rectify the situation, otherwise it will be entirely responsible for this fraud which will have SERIOUS REPERCUSSIONS ON THE SECURITY AND ECONOMIC SITUATION,’ said Tareq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a coalition member.”
Are angels or demons able to have sexual relationships with women and produce human offspring?
Absolutely not! God’s Word is very clear that such a possibility simply does not exist.
of all, let us remember that God made animals and humans according to
their kind (Genesis 1:21, 24-28). Animals can only reproduce other
animals, according to their kind (two dogs can produce another dog, but
they can’t produce a horse or a bird), and men can only produce humans
(they can’t produce animals). Since men and angels belong to a
different “kind,” it is impossible for that reason alone, that they
could produce human offspring.
In addition, as created spirit
beings, angels or fallen angels (demons) do not reproduce sexually or
by any other means. Jesus made this very clear. He said in Luke
20:34-36 that the “sons of this age,” i.e. human beings who live today,
“marry and are given in marriage.” One of the purposes of marriage is
reproduction, as well as having a sexual relationship (compare Genesis
1:28; 2:24). Married couples are to become “one flesh”–including
sexually. That is the reason why it is wrong to have sexual
relationships with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:16, 18). But
Christ told us that those who are worthy to attain the resurrection to
eternal life, will not marry or be given in marriage, but they will be,
in THAT sense, equal to angels. They will be OVER angels in authority
and essence (1 Corinthians 6:3; Hebrews 2:5-8), being children of GOD,
not of angels, but they will be EQUAL to angels in the sense that they
will no longer “marry”–physically–and engage in sexual activities. If
we want to accept Christ’s saying, it is obvious that angels (including
fallen angels) CANNOT have sexual relationships with humans and produce
Some quote Genesis 6:4 for the false idea that
angels married women and produced human offspring prior to the flood.
However, this interpretation is totally erroneous and must be rejected.
In Genesis 6:1-4, the context shows that sexual intercourse and
reproduction strictly through humans is described. We read:
it came to pass when MEN began to multiply on the face of the earth,
and daughters were born to them, that the SONS OF GOD saw the daughters
of MEN, that they were beautiful; and they took WIVES for themselves of
all WHOM THEY CHOSE. And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive
with MAN forever, for he is indeed FLESH; yet his days shall be one
hundred and twenty years.’ There were giants (lit. mighty ones) on the
earth in those days, and also afterward, when the SONS OF GOD came to
the daughters of MEN and THEY BORE CHILDREN to THEM. Those were the
mighty MEN who were of old, men of renown.”
Although it is true
that in rare instances, “sons of God” can refer to angels (compare Job
1:6-8; 2:1), it refers most of the time to human beings (compare
Malachi 1:6; 2:10; Luke 3:38; Romans 8:14; Revelation 21:7). This is
also the case in Genesis 6. God decided to destroy sinful
men–flesh–not angels. We read that all flesh and every MAN died in
the flood (Genesis 7:21-23). Because of this, some commentaries point
out that the term “sons of God” might, in this instance, refer to the
“godly line of Seth” (compare Ryrie Study Bible). Halley’s Bible
Handbook allows for the possibility that the “sons of God” were
“leaders in Sethite families who intermarried with godless descendants
of Cain. These abnormal marriages… filled the earth with corruption
Even though the “sons of God” (human beings)
belonged to the line of Seth, and might have worshipped the true God
(compare Genesis 4:26), they took for themselves whatever women they
wanted–including those who did not believe in and worship the true God
(compare God’s warning in Malachi 2:15 and in 1 Corinthians 7:39; 2
Corinthians 6:14). The consequence was that “the wickedness of man was
great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
The Commentary of
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown agrees that Genesis 6 refers strictly to
human marriages, stating: “‘the sons of God saw the daughters of
men’–by the former is meant the family of Seth, who were professedly
religious; by the latter, the descendants of apostate Cain. Mixed
marriages between parties of opposite principles and practice were
necessarily sources of extensive corruption. The women, irreligious
themselves, would as wives and mothers exert an influence fatal to the
existence of religion in their household, and consequently the people
of that later age sank to the lowest depravity.”
agrees with this explanation: “The sons of God (that is, the professors
of religion) married the daughters of men, that is, those that were
profane, and strangers to God and godliness. The posterity of Seth did
not keep by themselves, as they ought to have done. They intermingled
themselves with the excommunicated race of Cain.”
Soncino Commentary, identifying the “sons of God” as “the sons of
princes and judges,” referring to the fact that the word “Elohim” (in
“sons of God” or “Elohim”) always implies rulership and can refer to
human judges (compare Exodus 4:16; 7:1). It goes on to say that “thus
the very men who should have defended justice openly committed
violence” and that they took wives “by force,” including those “married
The New Bible Commentary: Revised agrees with the
conclusion that Genesis 6 describes sexual relationships between human
beings only, but gives a slightly different meaning of the passage.
They point out that “‘the sons of God’ could be translated ‘the sons of
the gods.’ Ancient texts attest to an ideology of divine kingship;
human kings were called sons of various gods. This blasphemous cult was
a culmination of the Cainite name-lust… ‘daughters of men’ are the
daughters of men in general. By ‘such of them as they chose,’ polygamy
Based on the Biblical evidence, it is abundantly
clear that Genesis 6 does NOT teach at all that angels or demons had
sexual intercourse with women and produced human offspring.
refer to a passage in Genesis 3:15, for the concept that Satan and his
demons can produce human offspring. However, this passage does not
allow for such an understanding. In Genesis 3:15, God speaks to Satan,
after he had tempted Eve to sin, stating: “And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall
bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
here is to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the “Seed of a woman,” and to the
human beings who would be under the influence of Satan the devil–his
“seed.” Christ, born of a woman, would nullify Satan’s power over man.
Satan bruised Christ’s heel, causing Him to suffer and to be put to
death, but Christ conquered death through the resurrection (Hebrews
2:14-15). He overcame Satan and will ultimately replace him, when He
returns. “Satan’s seed” refers to human beings in general who are still
under Satan’s sway. Satan, as the god and ruler of this world, has
deceived the whole world. Humans follow him, and they are called in the
Bible “children of the devil” (John 8:44; compare Matthew 13:38). They
are not the LITERAL physical offspring of Satan, of course, but his
spiritual seed. Once we accept God’s way of life and receive God’s Holy
Spirit, we become begotten children of God (1 John 3:1-2)–but again,
not in the sense that we are the LITERAL physical offspring of God, but
we are His spiritual seed. The ONLY one who was LITERALLY physically
begotten by God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, was Jesus Christ
(Luke 1:30-35)–that is why He is called the “ONLY-begotten Son” (John
1:18; 1 John 4:9).
The Ryrie Study Bible explains Genesis 3:15 in
this way: “‘between thy seed’ (the spiritual descendants of Satan, cf.
John 8:44; Eph. 2:2) ‘and her seed’ (those who are in the family of
God)… An individual from among the woman’s seed, namely Christ, will
deal a death blow to Satan’s ‘head’ at the cross [and His subsequent
resurrection from the dead], while Satan (‘thou’) would ‘bruise
Christ’s heel’ (cause Him to suffer).”
Even though the woman’s
“seed” might very well include the “family of God”–that is, converted
Christians–it is nevertheless true that the most obvious reference is
to Jesus Christ. As Halley’s Bible Handbook points out: “Here… is
God’s prophecy that His Creation of Man would yet prove to be
successful, through the ‘seed of the Woman.’ This is the Bible’s first
hint of a Coming Redeemer. The use of ‘He’ (15) shows that One Person
is meant. There has been only ONE descendant of Eve who was born of
Woman without being begotten of Man.”
In conclusion, the idea
that angels or demons can produce human offspring is a dangerous and
wrong concept. It has inspired Hollywood’s movie writers to produce
some terrible and demonic pieces, such as “Rosemary’s Baby.” But many
ARE deceived today, thinking that such a diabolic act might be possible.
For more information on the world of angels and demons, please read our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program
has been posted on the Web, titled, “Evolution or the Bible?” In
the program, Norbert Link discusses the dangers of both the concepts of
Evolution and Intelligent Design, and points out the real answers for
Fiction to Faith
by Manuela Link (22)
Many of us may be familiar with a popular TV
series called Smallville. It depicts the adolescent to young adult life
of the famous person, Superman. Despite his incredible abilities, Clark
Kent portrays a wonderful character to the public: having a soft-spoken
tongue, being compliant and respectful to parents, helping those in
need, being a true friend, trustworthy and strong — mentally and
Everyone knows him as Clark Kent, a hard-working farm
boy, but they don’t know his secret, his true calling or destiny —
that of which he will one day save the world. He keeps his abilities a
secret because he believes that if he accidentally shows his strength,
people may not accept him for the man he really is.
In the real
life, we too have a true calling. We not only have to be a light to the
world by showing our true Christian character, but we cannot hide from
the person we were called to be. We cannot be afraid of what others may
think of us, because we understand that God will help us through
anything. We should be willing to explain anything about the person we
really are, when asked, because in these situations, secrets only
separate friendships. I know why I’m here. I am not of this world, and
like the fictional Clark, my future of faith contains greater
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.
While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.
Donations should be sent to the following addresses:
United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198
Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0
United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom