Fear Whom? and 2012
On December 29th, 2012, Kalon Mitchell and Michael Link will each give sermons, titled, respectively, “Fear Whom?” and “2012.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
by Dave Harris
Expectations for the coming year of 2013 are not full of hope! Rather, there seems to be a sense of resignation that problems will not be resolved and that things are steadily getting worse!
Violence fills the earth as nations arm themselves with ever more potent ways to kill. Wars are being continually fought, but peace is never achieved. Senseless mass shootings tear apart communities and there just doesn’t seem to be any way to understand “why.”
Not only this coming year, but the years immediately ahead are destined to be the darkest in all of human history—Jesus prophesied of this:
“‘For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened’” (Matthew 24:21-22).
“‘And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken’” (Luke 21:25-26).
We cannot, we must not, ignore the reality of the future! For those who have the understanding of God’s Word and who believe what Jesus Christ reveals to His servants, now is the time to become even more diligent in our calling, to overcome and to persevere. Note that Jesus has very clearly prepared us for what is coming when He said, “‘See, I have told you beforehand’” (Matthew 24:25).
In spite of the bad news of the immediate years ahead, there really is good news in our future, and it is found in the Gospel message preached by Jesus Christ, by His faithful apostles and by the Church of God throughout the generations!
As we face both next year and the tumultuous times ahead, we have reason for hope and unwavering confidence in the future that lies just beyond—Jesus stated:
“‘Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near’” (Luke 21:27-28).
We are continuing reporting on America’s dealing with and reaction to the mass murder of children and adults at a school in Connecticut. We are emphasizing in particular controversial and disputed claims and actions by the NRA and supporters for unrestricted gun purchase and possession, while pointing out that “it’s not about just guns.” We are also focusing on the costly vacation of the presidential family in Hawaii, while modern Rome (the USA) is burning, with a toothless and unproductive government and Congress. If going over the fiscal cliff is not avoided by the end of the year, it would be, with the words of Sen. Joe Lieberman, “the most consequential act of congressional irresponsibility in a long time, maybe ever in American history, because of the impact it’ll have on almost every American.”
Turning to Egypt, the rising influence of the radical and violent Muslim Brotherhood and its incredible support from American government and American intellectuals is truly depressing and mind-boggling. At the same time, Israel’s attempts to please Christians at Christmas time will not prevent the pursuit of European and Catholic goals in the Middle East.
We conclude with two articles pertaining to Germany. Note should be taken of Germany’s clear warning that they will not allow Britain to “blackmail” them; and the German Family Minister is correctly finding herself in the hot seat for her publicly uttered blasphemous statements that God could be referred to as “it,” rather than “He.”
This Week in the News
The NRA’s Damaging of America’s Worldwide Reputation
Newsmax reported on December 23:
“Wayne LaPierre, [CEO of the National Rifle Association]… reiterated [on Sunday in an interview] the message he delivered Friday at a press conference, when he called for armed security at every U.S. school. He said he is working with former Arkansas Rep. Asa Hutchinson to support an ‘immediate appropriation before Congress’ to that effect.”
This controversial idea, which has no chance of being approved by Congress, has won the approval of right-wing radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, according to Newsmax, December 21, who described the NRA as “the greatest, the largest gun-safety organization in the country” and who supported LaPierre’s proposal. At the same time, this proposal has caused a worldwide stir of condemnation, according to the German magazine Der Stern in an article, dated December 24. But as if that was not enough to continue the damage of America’s reputation, gun-loving enthusiasts continued their fight against any restrictions of gun purchase and possession by private citizens—including weapons which were invented and manufactured strictly for the military. Note the next incredible report.
Deporting Piers Morgan?
Sky News reported on December 24:
“Thousands of Americans have signed a petition calling for British CNN host Piers Morgan to be deported over his criticism of the country’s gun laws. By noon on Christmas Eve, the petition — which is posted on the White House website — had garnered more than 31,000 signatures, surpassing the 25,000 required to get a response from the US government. Mr Morgan tweeted about the petition: ‘If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?’
“The outspoken former Daily Mirror editor has called for tighter gun control measures in the wake of the December 14 massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. On Tuesday, he interviewed Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt, and appeared incredulous when Mr Pratt suggested more weapons were a credible solution…
“Following the interview, a Texas journalist posted a petition on the White House website alleging Morgan ‘is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment. We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens,’ the petition says.
“Many Americans follow a literal interpretation of the Second Amendment, which enshrines the ‘right to bear arms’ in the US Constitution. Mr Morgan insists America can outlaw military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines without infringing on people’s constitutional rights, and says he has no quarrel with the Second Amendment. A defiant Mr Morgan refused to back down from his position…”
This highly reported incredible development, perhaps purportedly justified under some of America’s questionable immigration provisions, casts, in the opinion of the rest of the world, dark clouds on America’s freedom of speech. None of this will help America’s worldwide reputation to improve. Many, if not most Americans may not care about this, but it will come back to bite them and haunt them very soon.
Background Checks Don’t Really Work…
The New York Times reported on December 20:
“Nearly two decades after lawmakers began requiring background checks for gun buyers, significant gaps in the F.B.I’s database of criminal and mental health records allow thousands of people to buy firearms every year who should be barred from doing so. The database is incomplete because many states have not provided federal authorities with comprehensive records of people involuntarily committed or otherwise ruled mentally ill. Records are also spotty for several other categories of prohibited buyers, including those who have tested positive for illegal drugs or have a history of domestic violence.
“While some states, including New York, have submitted more than 100,000 names of mentally ill people to the F.B.I. database, 19 — including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maryland and Maine — have submitted fewer than 100 records and Rhode Island has submitted none… That suggests that millions of names are missing from the federal database… The gaps exist because the system is voluntary; the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the federal government cannot force state officials to participate in the federal background check system. As a result, when a gun dealer asks the F.B.I. to check a buyer’s history, the bureau sometimes allows the sale to proceed, even though the purchaser should have been prohibited from acquiring a weapon, because its database is missing the relevant records…
“The background check requirements apply only to licensed dealers, not the private sellers who account for an estimated 40 percent of sales. Restrictions imposed by Congress on government tracking of firearms make it hard to know exactly how many weapons are sold each year… more than five million firearms are manufactured each year for sale in the United States, and about three million more such weapons are imported. Those numbers do not account for the sale of used guns…”
It’s Not About Just Guns…
The Washington Post published on December 21 the following opinion by “proud gun owner” and Democrat Joe Manchin III, a junior U.S. senator from West Virginia who served as governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010:
“… if you think the problem of mass violence in our country is about just guns, you’re wrong. If you think it’s about just an entertainment industry that markets violence to kids, you’re wrong. If you think it’s about just insufficient security at our schools, you’re wrong. If you think it’s about just the lack of mental health services for troubled young people and adults, you’re wrong. We need to address all of them… I propose an alternate path: a national commission on mass violence… I am not the first to suggest this approach. My friends Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. John McCain of Arizona have advocated a similar effort for years. And I believe that such a commission could go well beyond the work of the president’s task force and help provide a fuller understanding of the root causes of senseless acts of violence… Sportsmen, hunters and gun owners must have a seat at the table. They’ve been vilified for so much of the mass violence in America, and that’s just wrong. They’re hurting about Newtown as much as the rest of us….
“We cannot take a single-issue approach to this problem. The causes of mass violence run deeper than that. Any solution that doesn’t take all concerned parties into account will lack the credibility it needs to become a reality. But we should all be looking for a comprehensive fix. We owe that to Newtown… This is the way we responded to challenges in West Virginia when I was governor. After tragic mine disasters, we called a brief time out, huddled up and created a plan to protect our miners. We didn’t quit mining; we made the mines safer. That’s similar to what this country did after Sept. 11, 2001: We didn’t quit flying; we made flying safer…
“The Newtown tragedy has changed our nation forever. And as we are changed, so must our thinking be changed. We must act in such a way that those beautiful children and courageous adults who tried to save them from unspeakable horror shall not have died in vain.”
Yes, a change of heart and mind is truly necessary—a deep respect and love for human life and for the Creator of all life—God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. But sadly, that respect and love is not going to come for most people in this day and age.
Israel Disputes NRA Claims
In rejecting claims by the NRA pertaining to Israel’s gun laws, the Times of Israel and the Associated Press reported on December 24:
“Israel’s policy on issuing guns is restrictive, and armed guards at its schools are meant to stop terrorists, not crazed or disgruntled gunmen, experts said Monday, rejecting claims by America’s top gun lobby that Israel serves as proof for its philosophy that the US needs more weapons, not fewer.
“Far from the image of a heavily armed population where ordinary people have their own arsenals to repel attackers, Israel allows its people to acquire firearms only if they can prove their professions or places of residence put them in danger. The country relies on its security services, not armed citizens, to prevent terror attacks. Though military service in Israel is compulsory, routine familiarity with weapons does not carry over into civilian life. Israel has far fewer private weapons per capita than the US, and while there have been gangster shootouts on the streets from time to time, gun rampages outside the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are unheard of.
“The National Rifle Association responded to the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first-graders and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school by resisting calls for tighter gun control and calling for armed guards and police at schools. On Sunday, the lobby’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, invoked his perception of the Israeli school security system to back his proposal. ‘Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing: They said, “We’re going to stop it,” and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then,’ LaPierre said on the NBC News show ‘Meet the Press.’…
“Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor spelled it out. ‘We’re fighting terrorism, which comes under very specific geopolitical and military circumstances. This is not something that compares with the situation in the US,’ Palmor said… Gun licensing to private citizens is limited largely to people who are deemed to need a firearm because they work or live in dangerous areas… The gap between Israeli gun ownership and US gun ownership is consequently staggering. A total of 170,000 guns are licensed for private use in Israel, or about one gun for every 30 adults… By contrast, US authorities estimate that at least one-third of all American households have firearms — and in many cases, not only one.
“Americans are also much freer to choose what type of guns they buy. Automatic weapons of the type Lanza used to gun down his victims are banned for private ownership in Israel. It is also rare for a person to be authorized to own more than one firearm… Eighty percent of the 10,000 people who apply yearly for licenses are turned down… In the US, people can purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check or a license of any kind. In Israel, applicants must undergo police screening and medical exams, in part to determine their mental state…
“Many Israelis receive weapons training in the military. But to be licensed to receive a weapon outside the military, they must undergo at least two hours of additional training, then repeat the training and medical exams every three years before they can renew their licenses. Anybody who possesses a legally acquired gun waives the right to confidentiality, and authorities cross-reference for new information about the gunholder every three months.”
Before representatives of the NRA make wild, unsupportable or false claims, they had better check out the facts.
Christmas Vacation Bill for the First Family
Newsmax and AP reported on December 23:
“While President Barack Obama and his family spend Christmas in Hawaii for the fifth straight year, federal and local taxpayers are likely to be left with a holiday bill that tops $4 million for the first family’s security and travel expenses to the exclusive retreat known for its turquoise waters and rolling surf, according to a published report. Air Force One touched down in Honolulu minutes after midnight local time on Saturday. The first family departed the plane and traveled quickly to their vacation home in the beach town of Kailua, a scenic, sleepy resort on the east side of Oahu. The Obamas pay for their own accommodations, while taxpayers shoulder the costs of security and travel.
“Though it is not clear how long the Obamas planned to stay in Hawaii about 12 miles from downtown Honolulu, the Hawaii Reporter estimated that the trip could cost taxpayers more than $4 million based on the nine-hour flying time to and from Washington and the high-priced resort accommodations for White House staff, Navy Seals, Coast Guard, and the Secret Service. The publication estimates that each leg of the nine-hour flight alone will cost taxpayers $1,635,813 for a roundtrip total of $3,271,622…”
The publication also estimated that additional related expenses for the trip to Hawaii would cost taxpayers about 1 million dollars. This sounds rather exorbitant at a time when Americans are deeply distressed and disappointed with government and Congress regarding their interrupted and so far toothless efforts to prevent the nation from jumping over the fiscal cliff into another deep recession. Note the next article.
“Most Consequential Act of Congressional Irresponsibility in American History”
The Washington Times wrote on December 23:
“There was more finger-pointing and jostling Sunday over how to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff,’ but there was also a growing sense of pessimism over whether a deal can be reached before the year-end deadline. After the collapse last week of the House compromise known as ‘Plan B,’ which would have raised taxes on those with incomes exceeding $1 million, and President Obama’s subsequent proposal to delay action on spending cuts,
“‘It’s the first time that I feel it’s more likely we’ll go over the cliff than not,’ said Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent. [He] said the result would be ‘the most consequential act of congressional irresponsibility in a long time, maybe ever in American history, because of the impact it’ll have on almost every American’… The House and Senate are both in recess until Thursday. Mr. Obama, who arrived Saturday in his native Hawaii for the holidays, is expected to return to the White House next week.”
Over the Cliff We Go?
Fox News wrote on December 27:
“The rhetoric heated up Thursday as time on the clock wound down for a fiscal crisis deal, with lawmakers trickling back into Washington and no plan of action in place for averting the tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to hit next week. President Obama returned Thursday afternoon from vacation in Hawaii, as the Senate gaveled into session for unrelated business. House leaders announced that members will return late Sunday – but that leaves just one full day to act on any legislation before the deadline passes.
“Rumors were flying Thursday afternoon about last-ditch efforts to craft some sort of a scaled-back package that can shield most Americans from the more than $500 billion in tax hikes scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. But with hope fading, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on the floor that ‘it looks like’ the nation is going to miss the deadline.
“Reid also put all the blame on House Speaker John Boehner, likening him to a dictator and claiming he was putting his speakership before the good of the country. ‘John Boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than about keeping the nation on firm financial footing,’ Reid said… Boehner’s office quickly shot back: ‘Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more. The House has already passed legislation to avoid the entire fiscal cliff. Senate Democrats have not,’ Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said…
“With each side refusing to make the first move, it may be incumbent upon Obama to give a negotiated bill one last try, presuming he can get all the stakeholders in the same room… A new Gallup poll, though, showed Americans are growing increasingly pessimistic about the chances for an agreement over the next few days. Considering the time it takes to write and pass a bill of this magnitude, the best route for averting tax hikes may be to pass a short-term extension of current rates with the goal of approving a larger package early next year. Lawmakers have not even agreed to that, though.
“Without a deal, more than $500 billion in tax hikes are scheduled to go into effect. This includes increases in income tax rates, investment tax rates, the estate tax, the payroll tax and other provisions. Budget cuts to the Pentagon and other federal agencies threaten to hit government contractors. All together, a prolonged failure to avert these policies could cause another recession, economists warn.”
Threat of Continued Turmoil in Egypt
The Associated Press reported on December 23:
“Egypt’s Islamists-backed constitution received a ‘yes’ majority in a final round of voting on a referendum that saw a low voter turnout, but the deep divisions it has opened up threaten to fuel continued turmoil. Passage is a victory for Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, but a costly one. The bruising battle over the past month stripped away hope that the long-awaited constitution would bring a national consensus on the path Egypt will take after shedding its autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago.
“Instead, Morsi disillusioned many non-Islamists who had once backed him and has become more reliant on his core support in the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Hard-liners in his camp are determined to implement provisions for stricter rule by Islamic law in the charter, which is likely to further fuel divisions… 71.4 percent of those who voted Saturday said ‘yes’ after 95.5 percent of the ballots were counted. Only about eight million of the 25 million Egyptians eligible to vote — a turnout of about 30 percent — cast their ballots… The results of the two rounds mean the referendum was approved by about 63 percent…
“In a sign of disarray in Morsi’s administration, his vice president… resigned during Saturday’s voting. Vice President Mahmoud Mekki’s resignation had been expected since his post is eliminated under the new constitution. But its hasty submission even before the charter has been sealed and his own resignation statement suggested it was linked to Morsi’s policies… Over the past month, seven of Morsi’s 17 top advisers and the one Christian among his top four aides resigned. Like Mekki, they said they had never been consulted in advance on any of the president’s moves, including his Nov. 22 decrees, since rescinded, that granted himself near absolute powers…”
Egypt’s Laws Control and Prohibit Free Thinking and Speech
The Telegraph wrote on December 24:
“Among the many charges levelled against the constitution by both human rights groups, secular and liberal activists, and the Coptic Christian minority, is that its defence of basic freedoms is heavily curtailed when it comes to religion and politics. Specifically, it will forbid any law that would permit anything deemed insulting either of people or of religion, the Prophet Mohammed or the other figures considered by Islam to be God’s messengers. Such a clause could clearly have a chilling effect on free thinking and speech…
“Despite regular descriptions of ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s old dictatorship as ‘secular”’, it too made Egypt a country constitutionally obliged to follow the ‘principles of Sharia’. The laws it promulgated were wide enough and flexible enough to turn the Islamist tap on and off at will… Blasphemy laws have been in place since 1937, and can be used to defend Christianity as well as Islam. But in practice the law was deployed regularly, both as a sop to the Muslim Brotherhood and also simply as a means of state repression…”
Depressing–US Government and Intellectuals Defend Muslim Brotherhood
Jewish Ideas Daily wrote on December 20:
“One of the most consistent and depressing aspects of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations is the determination of our intellectuals and officials to defend Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. When Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made his recent power grab, for example, immunizing his decrees from judicial review, Yale law professor Noah Feldman, said that Morsi merely ‘overreached’—and did so ‘in the service of preserving electoral democracy.’ State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland lamely characterized Morsi’s actions as a ‘far cry from an autocrat just saying my way or the highway.’
“This indulgence, though, is merely the culmination of a more-than-60-year relationship, mostly hidden from view. There has long been an on-again-off-again American romance with the Brotherhood.
“The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna as a puritanical, reactionary pan-Islamic movement. It developed as a state within a state, including a network of social welfare organs like hospitals, and an underground party apparatus that quickly spread to other countries. The Brotherhood collaborated with the Nazis before and during World War II. In 1948 it murdered an Egyptian Prime Minister and in 1954 tried but failed to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser… When Mubarak was overthrown, it was well-positioned as the only organized and funded opposition group…
“In the wake of World War II, the U.S. government’s perceptions of the Middle East were filtered through a single lens: the threat of Communism. The threat was hardly just theoretical… The U.S. government also tried to make Islam itself into an American partner. During the 1940s American officials met regularly with the Brotherhood, seeing it as a perfectly useful anti-communist tool. What they knew about the Brotherhood’s violently anti-modern, anti-Semitic ideology is uncertain…
“America’s fundamental inability to take [Egypt’s] religion and ideology seriously persists. Senator John Kerry, likely the next Secretary of State, stated confidently after meeting Morsi in Cairo in June, 2012 that the Egyptian president was ‘committed to protecting fundamental freedoms’ and ‘said he understood the importance of Egypt’s post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel.’…
“… the U.S. government has long displayed… an ‘accomodationist’ approach… But the Obama administration has shown even more willingness than its predecessors to look the other way in the face of Brotherhood abuses of power—and of women and religious minorities… It has not taken the Brotherhood’s credo to heart: ‘Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.’
“For Israel the situation has become especially grave. Morsi, who can barely bring himself to utter its name, was lauded by the U.S. government, shortly before his coup, for his handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict. He may face hundreds of thousands of internal protestors, but there is little to restrain him while there is no American financial pressure or Egyptian army opposition. The Brotherhood’s Islamization of Egypt continues, transforming schools, courts, and mosques down to the local level. When Mohammad Badie, ‘Supreme Guide’ of the Brotherhood, states that ‘jihad is obligatory’ for Muslims and calls peace agreements with Israel a ‘game of grand deception,’ it behooves all parties to listen.”
But the world—and especially the USA and Great Britain–did not (want to) listen when Adolf Hitler placed them on advance notice as to what his goals were. Now the Muslim Brotherhood has told everyone what they really want to pursue, and again, the world and especially the USA—does not (want to) listen. Will it ever…?
The Muslim Brotherhood and the USA
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 24:
“Author and journalist Khaled al-Khamissi sees a difficult political crisis ahead for Egypt. He says the Muslim Brotherhood, with the support of the US, is trying to transform the country into an Islamic state… [He stated the following:]
“‘The president is conducting a coup, and it’s a drastic one. The president and the Muslim Brotherhood are trying to take control of various institutions – the parliament and the constitution. They have support from the US as well as from the oil states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. So they’re trying to take over the state as quickly as possible… If the Muslim Brotherhood persists, though, there’s going to be a disaster. So I believe that the coming weeks and months will not be especially peaceful. It will come to a war between the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand and the rest of the political powers on the other…
“‘The Muslim Brothers are very conservative and belong on the extreme right in the political spectrum. Economically, they are very close to the neo-liberals. That’s why they’re so close to the US and Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, there are many important business people who share the views of the Muslim Brothers. In the long term, they want to transform Egypt into an Islamic state. In addition, these people are not real Egyptians because they want to make religion the sole basis of the national identity. It’s a horrible thought that the president is not thinking of his country but of something else: an Islamic caliphate….
“Participation in the most recent elections and the referendum was very low. That helps the Islamists because they’re able to mobilize their supporters. Their opponents don’t go to the polls because they don’t know for whom they should vote… The Americans are giving unqualified support to the Islamists…’”
The Holy Land’s Top Roman Catholic Cleric Welcomes Birth of the State of Palestine
The Washington Post wrote on December 24:
“Christians from the world over packed Manger Square in Bethlehem Monday to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the ancient West Bank town where he was born. For their Palestinian hosts, this holiday season was an especially joyous one, with the hardships of the Israeli occupation that so often clouded previous celebrations eased by the United Nations’ recent recognition of an independent state of Palestine.
“In his annual pre-Christmas homily, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, said the road to actual freedom was still long, but this year’s festivities were doubly joyful, celebrating ‘the birth of Christ our Lord and the birth of the state of Palestine.’”
These words are not meaningless and polite platitudes, but they reveal Catholic and European interests and goals in the Middle East, notwithstanding—as the next article describes– Israel’s conduct and attempts to appease the Christian world.
Israeli President Peres Sings Christmas Songs and Sends Happy Christmas Greetings
Zenit wrote on December 21:
“The President of the State of Israel, President Shimon Peres, paid a visit to the official residence of Archbishop Chacour in Haifa. President Peres sang traditional Christmas songs with the local children’s choir from the Christian-Arabic school in L’bilin. President Peres delivered a festive greeting to Christians in Israel and across the world and said, ‘It is for me a privilege, as president of the State of Israel, to send profound wishes on behalf of all of Israel for a Happy Christmas to the whole Christian world and to express the hope that the Middle East may enter an era of peace and prosperity. The State of Israel is committed to protecting all the holy sites and the freedom of worship for everyone. In the Holy Land coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims will continue. From the city of Haifa, a model of peace and coexistence, I wish to send one clear message to the world – a message of peace and unity between all faiths, between all nations.’”
“President Peres stressed the positive relations between Israel and the Vatican and reflect Israel’s commitment to freedom of worship. President Peres said, ‘I have enormous respect for the Pope, I appreciate his concern and action to preserve the good relations in the Christian world. Relations between Jerusalem and the Vatican are excellent and warm, the best they have ever been.’ President Peres blessed the members of the Christian community in Israel and said, ‘We are proud of the Christian community in Israel and are also proud that they feel fully at home, completely free to worship in their own way and to continue with their own traditions. I wish them and all Christians everywhere a Happy Christmas.’
“President Peres was welcomed at the festivities by a children’s choir dressed in traditional Christmas outfits, leaders of the Christian community in northern Israel and Archbishop Chacour who said, ‘I thank the president of the State of Israel for coming to speak with the Christian community and share his blessings with us before Christmas and the New Year…’”
One should read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
Germany Warns Britain Not to “Blackmail” Europe
The Local wrote on December 24:
“German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has warned Britain against ‘blackmailing’ its EU partners in a bid to bring powers back home from Brussels. ‘We want to keep Britain in the EU and not force it out,’ Schäuble told the weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. ‘But I will also say that does not mean anyone can blackmail us’…
“Britain has belonged to the European Union since 1973 but has not joined the 17-nation eurozone… Schäuble has served as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s main ally in Berlin in plotting an austerity-driven course to resolve the eurozone debt crisis as well as greater political integration of the bloc.
“British Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, said last month he still supported British membership of the EU but could not accept the ‘status quo’ and called for a ‘new settlement’ involving the repatriation of some powers. He has so far avoided offering a clear ‘in-out’ referendum despite strong pressure for clarity on the issue from his party.
“Tensions flared last month when Cameron opposed a new €1 trillion EU budget for the next seven years, saying that it was unacceptable to raise spending at a time when many countries were implementing austerity measures at home. A recent poll in British weekly newspaper The Observer found that 56 percent of Britons surveyed would vote to leave the EU given the chance.”
The exodus of Britain from Europe is only a matter of time. The biblical reason is revealed in our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
“Das Gott”—God Without a Gender?
Der Spiegel Online reported on December 21, 2012
“Just in time for Christmas, Germany’s conservative Family Minister Kristina Schröder has sparked a contentious debate about the word most central to the Christian faith: God. In an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit in which she discussed gender roles in children’s literature, Schröder also took on God’s gender, and fellow members of her Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, are not impressed.
“The German language has three definite articles for nouns to indicate their gender — der (masculine), die (feminine) and das (neuter). The noun der Gott, or God, is masculine. But Schröder told Die Zeit that the article for God shouldn’t matter. It could just as easily be the gender-neutral das Gott, she said, saying the article ‘doesn’t mean anything.’
“Such a suggestion is an outrage, her colleagues say. ‘This overly cerebral nonsense leaves me speechless,’ Bavarian Social Minister and CSU member Christine Haderthauer told the mass-circulation daily Bild on Friday. ‘I find it sad when our children, due to blatant insecurity and political correctness, have the strong images that are so important to their imaginations taken away.’ The CSU’s party whip in the federal parliament, Stefan Müller, also expressed irritation over the idea. ‘… I find it improper and am a bit astonished,’ he said. Meanwhile, Norbert Geis, also a CSU member of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, concurred. ‘God is revealed to us as the father of Christ, and it ought to stay that way,’ he said.”
It is indeed deeply distressing that a professing Christian and German Family Minister would attack the biblical revelation of God just to be gender-friendly. How sad that such ignorant nonsense is even possible, but what are we to expect in a God-defying world without any standards and absolutes? A German Bible translation from 2006, “The Bible in Just Language,” (“Bibel in Gerechter Sprache”) which was worked on by over 50 theologians, translates the first words of the “Model Prayer” as follows: “You God, are to us Father and Mother in Heaven.” Throughout the translation, God is sometimes referred to in the masculine (“der Lebendige”) and sometimes in the feminine gender (“die Heilige”).
Would you please explain why and in what way governmental officials are “God’s ministers,” as mentioned in Romans 13:4, 6? Does this mean that we could or even should vote for them in political elections? (Part 1)
The short answer to your question is that as true Christians, we should not vote in governmental elections. We must understand what Paul meant with his usage of the words, “God’s ministers,” and the entire passage in Romans 13:1-6, when applying the concept to the political powers to be.
We addressed a related issue in a previous Q&A, discussing Romans 13:3, where we said:
“Today, the world as a whole is cut off from God and is subject to the rule of Satan. God placed Lucifer on the throne of this earth, with responsibility for properly governing it, but he rebelled and became known as Satan. When Satan inspired Adam and Eve to turn against God – to sin by going against what God instructed them – God gave mankind 6,000 years to find out for themselves that they cannot live without God… And for that same 6,000-year duration, God has decreed that Satan would remain on his throne. That 6,000-year period will end at the return of Jesus Christ, Who will come to replace Satan – a failed ruler – and restore the government of God on this earth. In that sense, there is ‘no authority except from God’ (Romans 13:1), and all authority ‘has been given … from above’ (John 19:11). God has not yet replaced Satan and his demons, but they cannot do anything that God does not ALLOW them to do.
“It is with that background that we must understand Paul’s statement that human governmental authorities or rulers are ‘God’s minister[s]’ who do ‘not bear the sword in vain,’ and ‘avenger[s] to execute wrath on him who practices evil’ (Romans 13:4). This statement does not permit true Christians to be involved in this world’s system of capital punishment [either as executioners, or as judges or jurors, condemning a criminal to death] and working for the police force by carrying and using guns. Paul’s statement in Romans 13:3 explains the fact that God allows human governments to punish criminals in order to prevent anarchy (compare Numbers 35:30-33). But, while ancient Israel was directly ruled by God for a while, all human governments are today under the direct rule or control of the ‘god of this world,’ Satan the devil.
“True Christians are no longer part of this world. They have turned their back on Satan’s rule. They are ambassadors and citizens of a future kingdom – the Kingdom of God. Their citizenship is already preserved in heaven for them.”
This alone should explain to us that it is faulty human reasoning to conclude that true Christians—ambassadors of Christ and representatives of the heavenly government—should get involved in the political affairs of this world and vote in governmental elections. A thorough discussion can be found in a previous Q&A on voting. At the same time, we are told in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, which complements Romans 13:3-6, that we are to pray for governmental leaders. We discussed this Christian duty in a Q&A on the issue.
There, we explained the purpose for such prayers—and especially public prayers–which are decisively not to be given to express our favor or disfavor for a certain political candidate in political campaigns. Rather, we “are to pray always and without ceasing, including on behalf of our leaders and even our enemies, so that we may be allowed to lead peaceful lives. In this world of hatred, violence and war, such kinds of prayers are necessary and very pleasing to God.”
When Paul said that political governmental officials can be viewed as “God’s ministers,” he had in mind that true Christians are to be subject to duly constituted human authority. They are not to rebel against it, trying to overthrow it with violent means—even if such authority behaves blatantly ungodly. But Paul also believed, as he clearly taught in Scripture, that it is Satan who rules this present evil world, and that it is ultimately God who allows Satan to rule temporarily. Paul taught that God might even directly appoint certain people to certain offices—in furtherance of His plan. These officials might actually be totally unqualified—from a godly perspective—to rule righteously and fairly. But this is not the reason why they were placed in power. This alone shows that true Christians could not vote for them.
For instance, we read that God may appoint the “lowest [or basest, Authorized Version] of men” (Daniel 4:17). We read that He placed the stubborn Pharaoh of Egypt in power to magnify Himself in him (Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17). He will “send” a future king of Assyria against modern Israel and Judah to punish them (Isaiah 10:5-7). In that sense, they were or will be “God’s ministers,” in that they have been used—or will be used—to carry out God’s plan and purpose. God even called violent King Nebuchadnezzar “My servant” (Jeremiah 27:6), and He referred to idolatrous King Cyrus as “My shepherd” and “His anointed” (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1), as they were fulfilling at the time God’s Will in certain areas. But to say that this proves that true Christians should vote or should have voted for any of these “candidates” is simply preposterous.
The New Scofield Reference Bible states regarding Romans 13:1-4: “…the apostle points out that orderly government is part of God’s provision, even in a wicked world. No ruler exercises control except as God permits… Under normal circumstances the Christian is to be obedient to the law of the land. This does not mean that he is to obey regulations that are immoral or anti-Christian. In such cases it is his duty to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29; cp. Dan. 3:16-18; 6:10 ff…).”
Since a true Christian must disobey laws that are immoral or anti-Christian, how can he then support and vote for a political candidate who promotes and enacts such laws? The answer is, he cannot. He cannot vote for a lesser evil, but he must “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
The Life Application Bible sets forth the different ways in which “Christians” have tried to interpret the statements in Romans 13:1-4. Today, many, including some members of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God organizations, have been using similar arguments to justify voting in governmental elections.
The above-mentioned commentary writes:
“We should never allow government to force us to disobey God. Jesus and his apostles never disobeyed the government for personal reasons; when they disobeyed, it was in order to follow their higher loyalty to God. Their disobedience was not cheap; they were threatened, beaten, thrown into jail, tortured, and executed for their convictions. Like them, if we are compelled to disobey, we must be ready to accept the consequences.”
We are to submit to human laws and governments. When we must disobey for conscience sake and are being convicted for it, we are to submit to the penalty and must not resort to the use of guns and weapons, attempting to violently fight the officials which are being sent to us to carry out the sentence.
The commentary continues:
“Christians understand Romans 13 in different ways. All Christians agree that we are to live at peace with the state as long as the state allows us to live by our religious convictions…
“Some Christians believe that the state is so corrupt that Christians should have as little to do with it as possible. Although they should be good citizens as long as they can do so without compromising their beliefs, they should not work for the government, vote in elections, or serve in the military.”
We would, overall, agree with this view point, at least as it concerns voting in governmental elections or serving in the military in a combatant capacity, or working for the government in respect to certain tasks. This is not to say that a Christian could not work for the government by fulfilling non-violent tasks which would not compromise his beliefs.
The commentary goes on to state:
“Others believe that God has given the state authority in certain areas and the church authority in others. Christians can be loyal to both and can work for either. They should not, however, confuse the two. In this view, church and state are concerned with two different spheres—the spiritual and the physical—and they complement each other but do not work together.”
Again, these statements contain elements of truth, but Christians should not confuse God’s authority and man’s authority. They must not be working for the state in capacities which would violate the letter or the spirit of God’s laws.
However, many nominal and even some true Christians misinterpret Paul’s statement in Romans 13 in the way as the above-mentioned commentary describes below in regard to the third category:
“Still others believe that Christians have a responsibility to make the state better. They can do this politically, by electing Christian or high-principled leaders. They can also do this morally, by serving as an influence for good in society. In this view, church and state ideally work together for the good of all.”
Of course, it is true that as true Christians, we are to be good examples for others to show them how one can represent God and His Way of Life. But this does not mean that we should try to make this a better world or that we should attempt to better the state—it is Satan’s world which we cannot improve—or that we should vote for “high-principled leaders.” Christ’s true disciples are to come out of this world and be separate, and not to touch what is unclean (2 Corinthians 6:17; compare Revelation 18:4; John 15:19; 17:16; 18:36). Also, Paul is asking in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” To think naively that we can change this evil world through the election of professing Christian political candidates misunderstands the purpose of our Christian calling, and reflects a misunderstanding of life’s realities. After all, evil company in the political field corrupts even the most “high-principled” candidates (compare 1 Corinthians 15:33).
The commentary concludes with this accurate assessment:
“None of these views advocate rebelling against or refusing to obey the government’s laws or regulations unless those laws clearly require you to violate the moral standards revealed by God. Wherever we find ourselves, we must be responsible citizens, as well as responsible Christians.”
Romans 13:1-6 does not teach that Christians can or should get involved in political campaigns or that they should vote in governmental elections. Paul is teaching the exact opposite, and so is the entire Bible. In the next Q&A, this issue will be further discussed, as well as the question as to when “human authority” is established in God’s eyes, and what the practical consequences may be for our Christian living.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
“Is God a She or an It?” is the new StandingWatch program presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. This will also be broadcast on radio, beginning Sunday, January 20, 2012. Summary: Gender neutral Bible translations are not new, but the trend is continuing with an alarming rate. The German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder, a Lutheran member of Germany’s conservative party, just declared that God could very well be referred to as “it.” Modern Bible translations refer to God as “he” and “she” and speak of God as “Father” and “Mother.” How do the inspired Hebrew and Greek texts refer to God, and why does it matter that we understand correctly who and what God is?
“Was sagt die Bibel zur Mischehe?” is the new German sermon. It discusses the biblical teaching on interreligious and interracial or mixed marriages. Title in English would be: “What does the Bible say about mixed marriages?” It uses as introduction Abraham’s command to his servant to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s kindred, and not from the daughters of Canaan, and explains that this command was based on religious and racial reasons. It explains the origin of the three main races—especially after the flood—and it also explains that Herbert Armstrong’s was not a racist, and neither is the Church of God today.
The recordings of Sabbath Services for December 22, 2012, are now available on our website: http://www.eternalgod.org/. Both the sermonette and sermon were presented by Norbert Link, and are titled, respectively, “Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations,” and “The Ten Commandments and the Model Prayer.”
How This Work is Financed
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