Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ian Paisley goes to be with the Lord

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

Rev. Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's most prominent Protestant pastor and political figure, died on Friday, September 12, 2014 at the age of 88. Mr. Paisley was a man much mischaracterized by international media, an example of which is the obituary by Robert D. McFadden in The New York Times, September 13, 2014. A less biased obituary is that of the Associated Press, September 13, 2014.

For those who are interested in what Mr. Paisley himself had to say, I recommend his own site, the European Institute of Protestant Studies. Several decades of his sermons can be downloaded from Sermon Audio. Advanced Book Exchange lists a number of Mr. Paisley's publications for sale.

See also my post on Mr. Paisley's address to the European Parliament on October 11, 1988.

On a trivial note, well-known actor Liam Neeson stated in an interview (go here for video) that Mr. Paisley helped to inspire him to become an actor. Mr. Neeson has said that he would like to play Mr. Paisley in a biographical film if the right script comes along.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Beware of falling church gargoyles

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1

Everyday life is fraught with danger, as reported by Mark Guarino of Reuters, September 5, 2014:

A historic Chicago church apologized on Friday, a day after pieces of a gargoyle fell off the building's facade and killed a mother-of-two who was walking along the street.

Sara Bean, 34, was killed on Thursday while walking to lunch with her fiancé, who is her longtime boyfriend and father of her children, local media reported.

The Second Presbyterian Church in the South Loop neighborhood just outside downtown Chicago expressed its sympathy to Bean's family in a statement on Friday and said it was "deeply sorry at the death..."

...According to the Chicago Department of Buildings, a metal decorative piece on the exterior of the building gave away on Thursday and dislodged part of a gargoyle on the steeple and the broken piece fell and struck Bean, who worked at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

50 years ago: Canadian religious leaders weigh in on topless bathing suits

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; I Timothy 2:9

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
I Peter 3:3-4

The topless bathing suit was a fashion fad in 1964. I don't think it ever caught on in Canada (I'm too young to remember), but several clergymen from the Toronto area were asked their opinions of the matter. It comes as no surprise to this blogger that the stupidest comments are from the Unitarian-Universalist. As reported by Allen Spraggett in the Toronto Daily Star, July 4, 1964, p. 50 (bold and capitals in original):

'Symbol of Decay?'

Debate morals of topless fad

S THE topless bathing suit a moral issue?

Some Russian newspapers have called it a symbol of Western moral decay--is it?

Is a woman who wears a topless bathing suit or evening dress showing moral laxity?

Or, is this ultimate in plunging necklines merely a fashion fad of no greater significance than any other?

Metro clergymen commented.

Dr. W.G. Berry, St. Paul's-Avenue Road United Church:

"I think this new style sells sex. In our society sex has become the easiest way of selling any commodity on the market, the best gimmick for promoting anything.

"Women who go for this new trend are just being taken for a ride. For the fashion designers, morality is not an issue. They are interested only in making money. Business is business.

"I think this new style is being foisted on the public by publicity. It's an example of what I call superimposition--a style or fad is superimposed on people and they feel they've got to accept it.

"The real moral issue here involves the ethics of commercialism, of businessmen who will do anything for a buck.

"My own feeling is that women will not adopt this new style, with the exception of foolish people or sensation seekers. A woman who would wear a topless bathing suit is probably sexually immature rather than morally lax.

Rev. J. Harry Faught, chairman pro tem, Canadian Evangelical Fellowship:

"The topless bathing suit is symptomatic of a general lowering of what is morally acceptable in our society. If the style were widely adopted it would lower the moral tone of society.

"However, I feel certain that this kind of familiarity, this kind of blatant vulgarity, would become contemptible in the eyes of the majority. People's innate moral principles would rebel against it.

"At the present time, I would say that a woman who wore this new style would be showing more a desire to appear way off-centre, avant-garde, than any moral looseness. But the appearance of such a style definitely would be a change for the moral worse."

Rev. Alfred Fowlie, Willowdale Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship:

"I think the new topless style has a lot to do with the idea of equality of women with men. They feel that their bodies are their bodies--not public property--and they can do with them as they please. What is beautiful about their bodies should be exposed.

"If a beautiful young girl wants to expose her breasts, or if she feels more comfortable in a topless bathing suit, let her do as she pleases, and then let society decide whether it likes it or not.

"This kind of morality is very relative. In some Asiatic countries the custom is for women to be bare-breasted. In the high culture of ancient Crete the women were bare-breasted. And, of course, in primitive societies this is the style. Perhaps this new look is a return to a primitive but honest morality. Personally, I certainly would not regard a woman's wearing a topless bathing suit as a sign of any kind of moral laxity.

"Most Unitarians agree that the real moral issues do not concern modes of dress or customs of sex but poverty, war, racial discrimination and other social evils which cause the misery of millions.

Rev. Pius J. Riffel, SJ, instructor in pastoral psychology, Regis College, Willowdale:

"This new style reflects changing cultural patterns in our society. We are experiencing many changes in customs and attitudes--some good, some bad. This topless bathing suit is one of the bad.

"There is a close relationship between a healthy, normal sense of modesty and morality. A sense of appropriateness in dress is good psychology and good morality. Immodesty is therefore bad psychologically and morally.

"I can't believe that many women would wear this new style. To do so could be a sign of neurotic exhibitionism, a psychological instability.

"Frankly, I am not unduly exercised about this matter at the moment. I do not see society crumbling because of it or anything ominous like that. However, this new fad doubtless is another sign of the general loosening of morals which has been going on for some time."
With the way the fashions of the world have influenced Christianity in the last 50 years, if the topless bathing suit were to make a comeback, it would be only a matter of time until "Christian" topless bathing suits were marketed.

Those astute American cultural observers Jan & Dean offered perhaps the best secular commentary on the phenomenon of the topless bathing suit (Bruce and Terry's version was released as a single, but is no longer available on YouTube, as of the date of this post):

50 years ago: A Jewish scholar accuses the United Church of Canada of being out of date

Just as the United Church of Canada was boasting about putting Christianity "squarely in the context of the twentieth century" with its modernistic Sunday School curriculum, it was being criticized by a Jewish scholar for not being current enough. As reported by Allen Spraggett of the Toronto Daily Star, July 4, 1964, p. 50 (bold and capitals in original):

Dr. Thomson out of date--rabbi

A LEADING RABBI says that a United Church textbook is behind the times in its description of Judaism as it was in the time of Christ.

Rabbi Stuart Rosenberg, of Beth Tzedec congregation, was asked by the editor of the United Church Observer to comment on a book, God and His Purpose, written by former United Church moderator Dr. J.S. Thomson and intended as a study guide for laymen. Recently, a philosophy professor, Dr. Marcus Long, charged that Dr. Thomson's book contained "unintentional anti-Semitism."

"I have read Dr. Thomson's volume and have found it most engaging," Dr. Rosenberg writes in the Observer, "obviously the product of a pen that is wide and ranging, and of a theological mind that has been generously fed by modern psychological and sociological insights. Dr. Thomson may not be labelled 'anti-Semitic...'

"But after reading his book, I am afraid that I could not trust him to produce an authentic, accurate description of Judaism. My criticism here is surely not of his spirit but of his scholarship. His slips show. He writes of Judaism in the time of Jesus as one wrote 50 years ago, when it was popular to believe that every negative description of Judaism was a point scored in favor of Christianity. (See his book, pp. 190-191)"

(The passage Dr. Rosenberg referred to reads:

"Time and time again, we read that the religious leaders of the people hated Jesus for his words and even more for what he did. They decided that they must get rid of him and that it must be done by the awful and desperate way of death. They planned and plotted until he was caught at last in the trap they had set for him. But why should they want to accompllsh such a dastardly deed? They loved their own world and their place of power and position within it...And they hated the messenger who brought the good news of God...")

Dr. Rosenberg continues: "Dr. Thomson seems to be out of touch with some of the rules for religious dialogue which many of his fellow Protestants have long ago endorsed:

"'Each partner must strive for a clear understanding of the faith of the other. This implies--

(a) his willingness to interpret the faith of the other in its best light rather than its worst; and

(b) a continual willingness to revise his understanding of the faith of the other.'

"I do not say that Dr. Thomson slanders Judaism. I think rather that he has not tried hard enough to understand it, and as a result there is a tendency to be too glib, and to distort essential meanings.

"This is a very great pity. A modern textbook which purports to teach about Christianity in today's world should take into account the spirit of ecumenical theology...

"I wish that Dr. Thomson had incorporated the insights of some of his distinguished Protestant colleagues: historians, like George Foote Moore, James Parkes; theologians, like Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr; Bible scholas such as Bultmann. If he had, he would not have been satisfied to 'score points' against the Pharisees without really attempting to understand them.

"The newer mood in Christian-Jewish relations needs to be restated at every turn. Dr. Thomson, I believe, missed an opportunity to say things that desperately need to be said.

"May I say it for him in the words of Jewish philosopher Martin Buber: 'No man outside of Israel knows the mystery of Israel. And no man outside of Christianity knows the mystery of Christianity. But in their ignorance they can acknowledge each other in the mystery...The gates of God stand open to all. The Christian need not go through Judaism, the Jew need not go through Christianity in order to come to God.'"
This looks like one of those "What they say...and what they really mean" situations. When Dr. Rosenberg criticizes Dr. Thomson for violating the "rules of religious dialogue," the most important rule seems to be: Thou shalt not say anything negative about Jews, even if it's true. I hate to agree with a United Church of Canada leader, but if he was right, he was right. What does the Bible say about the attitude and behaviour of the Jewish religious leaders toward the Lord Jesus Christ?

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.
Matthew 21:42-46 (citing Psalms 118:22-23)

Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him...
...Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
Matthew 26:3-4, 59

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all!
You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,
and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.
So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
John 11:47-53 (NIV)

Those who hold the views of Dr. Rosenberg can't prove that the above passages are inaccurate or don't belong in the Bible--they just don't like what those passages say. It therefore comes as no surprise to this blogger to see that the Protestant "scholars" recommended by Dr. Rosenberg were those who were the most liberal in their theology and couldn't accurately be described as Christian.

In a similar vein, it's now fashionable in Christian circles to play down or virtually deny Jewish culpability in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. In rebuttal, I offer the following comments by three Jewish leaders of the early Christian church who were either on the scene or in the area at the time:

Peter: But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Acts 2:14, 36

Stephen: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Acts 7:51-52

Paul: For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
I Thessalonians 2:14-16

As for Martin Buber's comment that "the Jew need not go through Christianity in order to come to God": If by "Christianity" he means a religious system such as the Roman Catholic Church or any other church, he was correct. If by "Christianity" Mr. Buber meant the Lord Jesus Christ, he was dead wrong:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Friday, August 1, 2014

50 years ago: United Church of Canada unveils Sunday School curriculum denying the truth of the Bible

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. Matthew 24:4

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Acts 20:29-30

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:22

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
I Timothy 4:1-2

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
II Timothy 4:3-4

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. II Peter 2:1

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
I John 2:18-19

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 3-4

In July 1964, the United Church of Canada unveiled a Sunday School curriculum that flagrantly denied factual, biblical truth. The event merited major newspaper coverage:

Toronto Daily Star, July 4, 1964, pp. 1-2


The Star's specialist in religion takes a look at an outspokenly liberal and bluntly critical view of the Bible adopted for the United Church Sunday schools

Virgin Birth, Goliath--are they just myths?

Star staff writer

Is the Bible full of myths?

Is the contest of David and Goliath a tall story?

Is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Christ the result of a biblical mistranslation?

Are the Christmas star and the angelic chorus which announced Jesus' birth merely legends?

The answer to all these questions is Yes--according to a new, official Sunday school curriculum adopted by the United Church of Canada after six years' preparation at a cost of $1,000,000.

Dr. Peter Gordon White, United Church editor-in-chief of Sunday school publications, calls the new curriculum (which will start in general use in September) "a major breakthrough."

It is the first time a Sunday school course of study has been so outspokenly liberal in its theology and has taken such a frankly critical view of the Bible.

Explaining this, Dr. White said: "Our church's general council, and the theologians we consulted, agreed with us that whether or not it raised a ruction we couldn't doubletalk in this curriculum. We decided to be absolutely honest and open."

Already, there have been warnings of the "ruction" Dr. White feared.

At the recent conference of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (which published the new Sunday school material jointly with the United Church) the curriculum was denounced as "modernist," "insidious," even "atheistic!"

Who killed Goliath?

Mrs. W.H. Harmon, Baptist delegate from Smiths Falls (who said she spoke not just for herself but for her church), specifically protested:

. That the primary teacher's guide of the new course says that the first 11 chapters of the Bible are myth, not history.

. That the junior guide questions the Virgin Birth of Christ.

. That the intermediate guide denies that David killed Goliath and suggests that the Mosaic plague in Egypt was a "children's disease," not a supernatural curse of God.

Burn it, she says

"We implore you to have nothing to do with this literature," Mrs. Harmon besought the Baptists. "Throw it away! Burn it!"

However, by a close vote of 164-147, the Baptist convention decided not to repudiate its joint publication agreement with the United Church.

This vote does not signify that the new curriculum will be generally used in Baptist churches. Chances are it will not. Each congreation decides for itself. Already, three Toronto Baptist churches--Danforth, Temple and Bethel--have rejected the material.

"This curriculum is a big departure from traditional Baptist beliefs," said Rev. George Campbell of Danforth Baptist Church. "In places, it contradicts the Bible outright. Its influence can only be bad."

"I take my stand against this material, said Rev. Harold D. Telfer, Temple Baptist Church. "Young people should not be exposed to this curriculum.

"It would be bad for the spiritual growth of a child."

'Hot potato'

Rev. Roy Cook of Bethel Baptist Church, president of the Ontario and Quebec Baptist Convention, said that though his congregation had banned it he would express no personal opinion on the curriculum "because it's such a hot potato."

Some Baptists defend the new material.

Rev. Frederick Helps, editor of Baptist Sunday school publications, said that critics of the curriculum are "those who stand by the old style doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible. If this material is accepted in our Baptist churches it will be a very great step forward. It will strengthen the faith of young people.

"Unfortunately, there are still church people who think that 'evolution' is a wicked word!"

'Ignoring facts'

The doctrine of evolution--that the world evolved into its present state, rather than being created as is--is explicitly taught in the new curriculum.

A text for young people 12 to 14, "God Speaks Through People," says bluntly that if a student put down a high school science exam what Genesis teaches about creation he would flunk.

The author of "The Mighty Acts of God," a text for 15 to 17-year-olds, concurs: Genesis certainly does not agree with the scientific facts we believe today...anyone who attempts to harmonize the two is simply ignoring plain facts."

The Red Sea

The junior teacher's guide, for use of those instructing Sunday school children 9 to 11, suggests that even the Gospel accounts are often contradictory, and says flatly: "The wandering star (of Bethlehem) and the angelic chorus are probably legendary...and no one should be compelled to accept the idea of the Virgin Birth."

In "The Mystery of the Rock," a reading book for 9 to 12-year-olds, the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel becomes a desupernaturalized passage across "the Reed Sea." The chariots of the pursuing Egyptians get mired in the muck and sink in the treacherous swamps.

Later, in the same book, the command of the Old Testament prophet Samuel that the Israelites should utterly slay their enemies because God willed it is "a frightful command, a terrible display of human hatred."

In other places, the new Sunday school material calls the story of Noah and the Ark a legend, says that the Old Testament book of Isaiah was written by not one but two men, implies that St. John did not actually write the fourth Gospel attributed to him, and, referring to the stories of Jesus' resurrection, allows that "some Christians take the stories literally...but others feel unable to do that."

Shocking? Heresy?

Not at all--to most United Church ministers (and some Baptists too).

Editor-in-chief White says that this liberal approach to the Bible, though revolutionary in a Sunday school curriculum, has been taught in most Protestant seminaries for 40 years.

"This view," he said, "is simply that a biblical account is not necessarily descriptive fact, but it does have the truth of God in it."

Ordered by 90 p.c.

In this approach, the book of Genesis, for example, does not state scientific fact but it does express profound religious truth, namely, that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..."

Dr. White sees a virtually unanimous acceptance of the new curriculum in the United Church. A unique pre-testing program in which 48 congregations across Canada carefully examined the material revealed general enthusiasm.

Already, two months before it is to be used, the material has been ordered by nearly 90 per cent of United Church congregations.

"People are saying, 'Thankd God we have something positive now to teach, something which is honest and open and not doubletalk," Dr. White said.
Page 50

New child text at odds with Bible


Star staff writer

DON'T BE SURPRISED if Johnny comes home from Sunday school some day soon and tells you that the whale didn't swallow Jonah, that Moses didn't cross the Red Sea, and that what the Bible says about the creation of the world is way off base.

Chances are, he'll simply be repeating what his Sunday school teacher told him.

The United Church of Canada--the nation's largest Protestant denomination, with more than 1,000,000 members--has decided to update the Bible for its hundreds of thousands of Sunday school students.

The result is the new, startling, stimulating, and controversial Sunday school curriculum which goes into effect in September across the country.

Most ambitious in Canada

Dr. Peter Gordon White, United Church editor-in-chief of Sunday school publications, is rhapsodic about the new study program. He regards it as the most ambitious, the most comprehensive, and up-to-date curriculum of its kind yet launched in Canada.

More than 10 years of intensive planning went into formulation of the curriculum. To date, $500,000 has been invested, and that figure is expected to reach $1,000,000 in three years.

"This program has been the work of many minds," Dr. White said, "including pastors, theologians, writers and artists. It has involved the mind of the whole United Church. In fact, few if any projects since church union in 1925 have been so widely based in the life of the church as this one is."

Study geared to all age levels

The new curriculum aims to provide a balanced, understandable, rounded, outspokenly modern and liberal presentation of the Christian faith geared to different age levels from kindergarten to adulthood.

How did the new program develop?

It began, says an official statement, "in the need for a restating of the Christian message. The world is in convulsion, familiar patterns of living are breaking up, racial groups are jostling one another, people are anxious, lonely. And people are asking, 'What is our faith?'...'How does our faith speak to this world?'

"Many lay people, as well as ministers, dissatsified with the inadequacy of existing materials, demanded a curriculum which would give the church a working knowledge of the faith for today's world..."

Dare to do things not tried

"...A working knowledge of the faith for today's world"--this is the keynote of the new curriculum.

"In this program we decided to push out, to speculate, to dare to do things not done before," says editor White. "We wanted very clearly to break out and break through the old patterns of thinking and teaching...And the response from the church has been overwhelmingly favorable."

But not unanimously so. Those of conservative theology--"literalists," Dr. White calls them, and there are some in the United Church--are scandalized by the way in which the curriculum openly questions the Bible, not just in matters of history but, at times, in questions of Old Testament ethics.

Adults willing to teach it

Some cautious souls--not necessarily conservative theologically themselves--counselled against "rocking the boat" and "disturbing people's faith."

To this, Dr. White replies: "There has been more relief, excitement and willingness on the part of adults to teach this new material than anything else. Already, more than 500,000 pieces of literature have been ordered--and this is two months before use."

Dr. White said [the] purpose of the new program is to answer the real questions people are asking, to make the Christian faith relevant in the jet age, to separate the essence of the faith from some of the accretions which have grown around it, and, above all else, to be open, frank and utterly honest.

How has the new curriculum succeeded?

Here are extensive quotes from the study material which reflect the tenor and theological orientation of the program.

11 chapters of 'myths'

. On myth in the Bible (from the primary teacher's guide, p. 9): "The first 11 chapters of the Bible are not history in the usual meaning of the term. Rather, the stories told there belong to the category of stories known as myths.

"This does not mean that they belong to the category of fairy tales or have no historical value. For they are of the utmost value in yielding us insight into the minds of Israel's religious leaders...In theological thinking, myth means profound spiritual truth conveyed in picturesque form."

. On the Virgin Birth (junior teacher's guide, p. 18): "Is it necessary to believe in the virgin conception of Mary? This may rest on a mistaken translation of Isaiah 7:14, where the 'young woman' of the original Hebrew became a 'virgin' in the Greek rendering...

Poetic language required

"Because of the difficulties, many nowadays would say that no one should be compelled to accept the ideas of the Virgin Birth. Neverhteless I want to add this. The coming of the Messiah is one of the most wonderful things that ever happened! We must not despise the lovely Gospel stories about the Son of God. So wonderful is this coming that we must have poetry and picture language to tell forth its meaning...

. On the resurrection of Christ (ibid., p. 40):

"Easter shows us that Jesus is alive, as conqueror...It is true that we do not understand the mystery of the resurrection. Some Christians take the stories literally, and may rightly do so. Others feel unable to do that: They prefer to think of Jesus as one who was transfigured with what Paul called a 'spiritual body'."

Would be marked incorrect

. On the Bible and science (God Speaks Through People, text for 12 to 14-year-olds, p. 24):

"We know that if we gave these answers (the facts in the book of Genesis) in a science examination at school, they would be marked wrong...If the creation stories had been written in scientific language they would now be out of date, for science, like every other field of knowledge, grows and changes...

"Some religious people feel that scientific discoveries may upset their faith. When Galileo said the earth was round and not flat, some folk felt he had destroyed the truth of the Bible....But we should never fear new discoveries..."

. On moral development in the Bible (The Mighty Acts of God, text for 15 to 17-year-olds, p. 64):

"No moral issues were involved for Israel in this act of attempted conquest (of Palestine), as far as the rightness or wrongness of taking a land by force is concerned. In the ancient world the power of conquest was reckoned to be the right of conquest....

'Might is right' principle invalid

"This of course, is not to say that the principle 'might is right' is backed by the scripture or is still valid. In the light of the Christian Gospel no one today can hold such an opinion. We have advanced beyond this principle....Now this is not to say that God changes His mind...but He fits His words to what men are ready to receive."

. On Moses crossing the Red Sea (The Mystery of the Rock, text for 9 to 12-year-olds, p. 60):

"Moses led his people towards the marshes and wet sand of the Sea of Reeds...The Hebrews had reached the reedland when they realized that the Egyptian troops were in pursuit. They seemed to be trapped. In terror they fled. The soggy marshes were nearly always covered with water. But the steady wind had made them passable for people on foot.

Water rises Egyptians doomed

"As they reached the eastern shore, the Egyptians arrived at the western bank. The high-spirited horses plunged forward with their rumbling chariots, crushing the reeds and digging their hooves into the slimy marsh....Soon the wheels were clogged with mud and sand....By early dawn the water had risen again and the doomed Egyptian charioteers, struggling with their panic-stricken horses, brought on themselves terrible confusion and destruction..."
The Vancouver newspaper The Province reported on the issue several days later. From The Province, July 9, 1964, pp. 1-2:

Bible stories myths, says new teaching

By Richard Simeon

Province Staff Reporter

A new Sunday School curriculum just unveiled by the United Church will be a shocker to those who accept the Bible as the Word of God.

It denies the literal interpretation placed on the Bible in the past, but church officials say it is just bringing Sunday School teaching up to date with what ministers have been saying from the pulpit for 25 years.

The new course, for adults down to three-year-olds, is the result of more than 10 years work by theologians, educators, ministers and laymen.

Among the ideas included in the various texts and teacher's guides are:

. The first 11 chapters of the Bible are myths.

. The idea of the Virgin birth may rest on a mistaken translation of Isaiah 7:14 where the Hebrew word "young woman" became translated as the Greek "virgin."

. The Red Sea did not part to let the Hebrews escape from Egypt.

. If the creation stories had been written in scientific language, they would now be out of date, for science, like every other field of knowledge grows and changes.

The curriculum has already been accepted by more than 80 per cent of United Church congregations in B.C.

"This course puts Christianity squarely in the context of the twentieth century," says Rev. Jack Ferry. "We are looking at the Bible for what it is, not for what some people would want it to be.

"We are taking full cognizance of modern scientific knowledge."

Rev. Clyde Woolard, chairman of the B.C. Conference Committee for Christian Education, says: "Now Sunday School material will catch up with what the pulpit has been saying for the last 25 years. It puts the Bible on a new meaningful basis."

"A literal interpretation of the Bible just cannot be held today."

The curriculum teaches that most of the Old Testament, including the story of Creation, are myths. "We try to point out that what the Bible says about creation is good poetry--it was never meant to be science," says Rev. Woolard.

He said it is not necessary to believe in the Virgin Birth to believe in Christ's divinity.

"We have not rejected the Bible--we have plunged waist deep into it, and have a new appreciation for its role and message," he said.

Rev. Ferry said: "Because much of the Bible is myth does not mean it is not true. Mythological material often conveys the truth more effectively than facts."

The curriculum consists of a series of text books and teaching aids for children of kindergarten age up to adulthood.

The teachers' guides consist of extensive background material in teaching methods and theology so the teacher can handle questions from students.

For each age group, there is a text-book geared for their own level. Each group also has a monthly or weekly magazine to supplement course work.

The course is planned for three-year cycles, with all groups studying the same general theme. In the first year it is "God and his Purpose," followed by "Jesus Christ and the Christian Life," and "The Church in the World."

"The whole family will be able to discuss the same thing," says Rev. Woolard.

The curriculum has been tested in 50 churches across Canada during the past two years.

One of the test churches was Shaughnessy Heights United Church. "The course is more demanding and has to be taken more seriously by both the student and the teacher," said Rev. T.M. Badger, minister of the church.

"It's the best program we have ever had. As the children get older, they will not unlearn all the things they have learned in high school.

"We may have fewer teachers and pupils becasuse of the heavier program, but at least they will be properly educated."

Teachers and pupils found the course challenging. "Our Easter sessions came as quite a surprise to our junior teachers, accustomed as they were to skirting the crucifixion and talking of spring time and new life. In the new curriculum the facts are taught, even at the kindergarten level.," said one teacher.

"If we don't have good theology we're going to lose these kids and we're going to lose them, perhaps, forever," said another. "You can't put anything over on them."

Teachers and supervisors are being trained at the United Church's summer camp at Naramata, and thousands more are receiving training at local churches.

About 68,000 students will receive the new program in September.

Rev. Badger said there was no opposition to the course content at his church.
There was opposition from other churches, as reported in The Province, July 10, 1964, pp. 1-2:

Score changes

Churches hit teaching

The new United Church Sunday school curriculum has provoked criticism from fundamental church leaders.

"If you chop up the Bible like this there's not going to be anything left but the covers," said Rev. D.G. Macdonald, pastor of the Church of the Nazarene.

"We take the Bible as the literal word of God. You cannot take some parts and leave others.

"We are very disturbed."

The new curriculum, the result of 10 years work, rejects many of the literal interpretations placed on the Bible in the past, and brings Sunday School teaching up to date with modern United Church doctrine.

Anglican Bishop Rt. Rev. Godfrey Gower said he has not seen the new program. "I cannot comment on the program, but the church does have a great capacity for moving forward with the times."

An Anglican priest said the program will come as a shock to many Anglicans. "We always thought the United Church was more fundamentalist than we were," he said.

"One has to be realistic today, but when you start to deny doctrines, you have to be very careful." He said the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is part of the Anglican Church's Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith.

Roman Catholic Father James Roberts, secretary of the Vancouver Council for Christian Unity, said his church agrees with most of the material in the program.

"No mainstream Christian religion accepts the Bible as the literal interpretation of the Word of God. Some of it is folk-lore, some legend, some triabal history," he said.

He said Catholics demand that only a few passages be interpreted literally, but he said he cannot agree that Christ did not have a virgin birth.

"But I think we can go along with the rest of the material."

Several ministers said they will preach against the new curriculum this Sunday.

Rev. W.H. Brooks of the Alliance Tabernacle recorded a two-minute message attacking the curriculum for persons phoning in to his Dial-a-Thought phone message.

"This so-called new teaching should surprise no one for this particular group has long since departed from those truths which brought it into being," he said.

He said the church is a traitor to its faith.

"I would withdraw my support from any church which denies these sacred truths."

"The majority of Christians will be offended by this material. The United Church has not preached the gospel for many, many years," said Rev. Brooks.

"Several people from the United Church called me today," said Rev. J.M. Watts of the Broadway Pentecostal Tabernacle. "They were deeply shocked. They wanted to know if we teach the same views.

"My topic on Sunday morning will be: The Bible: Myths or Miracles?"

"The United Church is just trying to get rid of the supernatural."

Rev. D.W. Reed of Dunbar Heights Baptist Church, said most Baptists would object to any changes in interpreting the Bible.

"The Bible is the word of God. All the accounts in it are factual and should be accepted literally," he said.

"With these differences, it is impossible to think of union or even co-operation with them for a long, long time."

Eastern Baptists have co-operated with the United Church on the new curriculum and used it in their own churches, but the Baptist Union of Western Canada cancelled agreements with the United Church last year.

"There is no lack of co-operation with the United Church in the west, but western Baptists are much more fundamental than those in the East," said a spokesman.
A few observations and comments:

In 1964 the United Church of Canada was important enough to merit front-page coverage in the country's largest-circulating daily newspaper, published in Canada's second-largest city at the time, as well as front-page coverage in the country's third-largest city.

When the United Church and liberal Baptists made their apostasy official, they didn't think they were committing suicide; rather, they thought this was the most progressive move they'd ever made, as they were now "squarely in the context of the twentieth century." However, the 20th and 21st centuries have left the United Church and other liberal churches behind. As the old saying goes, it's better to have a church that's 500 years behind the times and doesn't care than to have a church that's 5 minutes behind the times and is constantly scrambling to catch up. The United Church of Canada, which thought it was being so hip and with it when it officially abandoned belief in the Bible as the word of God in 1964, has become increasingly irrelevant in the 50 years since.

The decline weren't long in coming. The UCC's membership total peaked in 1965 at approximately 1,064,000 (see Wikipedia entry on the United Church of Canada, and go here and see the graph on the UCC's membership and attendance decline). By 1966, total membership was starting to decline, and Sunday school attendance had dropped by 100,000 (J. Berkley Reynolds, The United Church Observer, May 1, 1967, cited by Carl McIntire, Outside the Gate, 1967, p. 181). According to Statistics Canada estimates, the population of Canada has increased from about 19 million in 1964 to about 35 million in 2014--a gain of 84%. However, United Church of Canada membership during the same period has declined by more than 52%. According to the UCC's own figures, as of December 31, 2012, total membership in local congregations was 463,879. Identifiable givers to the "largest and richest Protestant denomination in Canada" numbered about half that: 239,877. Average weekly church attendance for the UCC was about one-third the number of members: 158,510. The low total for the latter may possibly be explained by the possibility that many of the UCC's members are now so old that they live in seniors' residences and may be unable to get to church. Sunday School membership in the UCC at the end of 2012 was 55,552. The United Church of Canada is an organization that is increasingly closing and selling its buildings because there aren't enough people there to keep them going. The anonymous Sunday School teacher quoted in the Province got at least this much right: "If we don't have good theology we're going to lose these kids and we're going to lose them, perhaps, forever." The United Church of Canada didn't have good theology in 1964, it doesn't have good theology in 2014, and it has lost those kids, forever.

The program was the "work of many minds," but those minds were unregenerate. When Dr. Peter Gordon White described the curriculum as "honest and open and not doubletalk," he was in fact engaging in doubletalk. It's true that the United Church was honest and open in laying out its apostasy for all to see, but the church was guilty of doubletalk in still claiming to be a Christian church. As the great scholar J. Gresham Machen argued in his book Christianity and Liberalism (1923), Christianity and liberalism are in fact different religions.

When the church says that many now say that no one should be compelled to accept the idea of the virgin birth of Christ, and that some "Christians" take the stories of the resurrection of Christ literally while others don't, the church is engaging in doubletalk by recognizing views on both sides of such doctrines as being Christian. This is, in fact, impossible. Either Jesus was born of a virgin or He wasn't; and the United Church uses the tired old liberal argument that the Hebrew word for "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 means "young woman." When they used the term "young woman," they meant a virgin; a young woman who wasn't a virgin was referred to as a "harlot." Besides, Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy of Israel's Messiah, where God is promising to show them a sign. What's supernatural or miraculous about a young woman who's not a virgin giving birth? To deny the virgin birth of Christ is to say that He had an ordinary human entrance into the world, and is really an attack on His deity. I find it interesting that liberals like to play down the significance of the virgin birth as an essential Christian doctrine, while always making sure it's one of the first Christian doctrines they attack. As for the resurrection of Christ, to reduce it to a spiritual resurrection is similar to the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses, who say that Jesus dematerialized and then rematerialized his body. The apostle Paul addressed the issue directly in I Corinthians 15:17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. To deny the literal physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is also a direct denial of His own prophecy in John 2:19, 21: ...Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up...But he spake of the temple of his body.

I don't know what became of Rev. Roy Cook or Bethel Baptist Church, but when he refused to act on the biblical exhortation in Jude 3 to earnestly contend for the faith when the word of God was under attack, the congregation should have begun looking for a new pastor or a new church. It's also worth noting that just because a church or denomination has the word "Baptist" in its name--whether in 1964 or 2014--is no guarantee of doctrinal soundness.

The perceptive reader will notice that whenever there's an apparent conflict between the Bible and "science," the default position of the United Church is that it's the Bible that's in error. The issue with Galileo wasn't whether Earth was round or flat, but whether Nicolaus Copernicus was right in saying that Earth is not the centre of the universe and revolves around the sun and not vice versa. Galileo wasn't challenging the teaching of the Bible--which doesn't say that Earth is flat or is the centre of the universe--but was challenging Roman Catholic Church dogma, which was of pagan origin.

The United Church of Canada's account of the crossing of the Red Sea is as egregious an example of editing God out of the scriptures as you'll ever find; Thomas Jefferson couldn't have concocted a better hatchet job. Contrary to the UCC's account, Exodus 14 says that when Moses stretched his hand over the sea, God caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind that blew all night and divided the waters so that they were a wall to the Israelites on both sides, and the Israelites passed over, not on soggy marshes, but on dry land. The Egyptians didn't bring confusion upon themselves as their chariots and horses became stuck in the slimy marsh, but God troubled them and caused the chariot wheels to come off, and when Moses stretched his hand over the sea, God brought the waters to cover the Egyptians, their chariots, and horses, i.e., they were drowned. The United Church of Canada removed God from the event to the extent that He inspired no awe, which is why imbeciles such as liberal Baptist Rev. Frederick Helps were so wrong when they said that the new curriculum would strengthen the faith of young people. How does it strengthen anyone's faith in God when naturalistic explanations are invoked for every major event when He intervened in human affairs?

Since many people think of the Roman Catholic Church as holding to unchanging tradition for hundreds of years, readers who have the mistaken view that the Roman Catholic Church is actually Christian will probably be surprised to find that the Roman Catholic priest interviewed said that his church agreed with most of the material in the United Church curriculum. The reader will notice the attempt by Father James Roberts to marginalize those who disagree with him by saying that "no mainstream Christian religion accepts the Bible as the literal interpretation as the word of God"--which is a denial of the words of Jesus Christ Himself. I find it amusing that the part of the United Church curriculum that Fr. Roberts wasn't willing to go along with was the denial of the virgin birth of Christ. He was perfectly willing to go along with all the other heresies in the United Church curriculum, but to question the virgin birth is of Jesus Christ was to question that Mary was a virgin at the time of His birth--and that would require throwing out all the Roman Catholic teachings about the virginity of Mary. That was one heretical step too far for Fr. Roberts.

The aspect of the introduction of the United Church Sunday School curriculum that strikes me as most worth noting is the time lag--about 25 years from the time that heresy began emanating from United Church pulpits until it became official church doctrine. The UCC ordained its first female minister in the mid-1930s, just before or around the time that the denial of the Bible as literal and factual truth began being preached. This is worth keeping in mind when we see what's happening in what passes for evangelicalism today. I can think of evangelical churches and ministries whose doctrinal statements--devised years and perhaps decades ago--are sound, but are no longer being followed in actual practice. For example, the Bible lays out qualifications for positions of leadership in the church (I Timothy 3; Titus 1). A church that begins to depart from these standards by putting men in the pulpit who are divorced and remarried will then begin allowing women in the pulpit and ordaining them. When this is taking place, it isn't an indication that the church will be headed in a liberal direction, but is an indication of how far in the liberal direction the church has already gone. From there it will be only a matter of time until the church begins ordaining non-practicing homosexuals, and then ordaining practicing homosexuals.

Father James Roberts said of the Bible, "Some of it is folk-lore, some legend, some tribal history." Just one question, Chief: If Fr. Roberts was correct, how do you then account for the remarkable accuracy of the prophecies contained in the Bible, especially the dozens of Messianic prophecies that could have been fulfilled only during the time that Jesus Christ was on Earth, had to have all been fulfilled by one person, and were in fact fulfilled by Jesus Christ when He walked the Earth?

Friday, July 25, 2014

20 years ago: Israel and Jordan end their enmity by signing the Washington Declaration

On July 25, 1994, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan signed the Washington Declaration, formally ending the state of war that had existed between the nations since 1948, and starting negotiations to achieve a lasting peace between Israel and Jordan. U.S. President Bill Clinton also signed the Declaration in a ceremony on the White House lawn. Go here to see the full text of the Washington Declaration.

The negotiations culminated in a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan signed on October 26, 1994.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

30 years ago: God strikes York Minster Cathedral with lightning three days after the consecration of heretic David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. II Peter 2:1

On Friday, July 6, 1984, the Church of England consecrated Rev. David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham. As reported by Associated Press, July 8, 1984:

York, England--A former theology professor who said he did not believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead has been ordained as one of the highest-ranking bishops in the Anglican church.

"One of the glories of the Church of England is that it has always allowed many different shades of opinion within it," Archbishop of York John Habgood told reporters Friday after ordaining the Rev. David Jenkins as bishop of Durham.

The appointment of Bishop Jenkins to the fourth most important bishopric in the church has created one of the fiercest Anglican controversies in decades.

The new bishop has said that some central elements of the Christian creed--such as the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus--are symbolic rather than literal truths.

He also said in an April television interview that while he believes that Jesus was both God and man, other Christians are not obliged to do so.

Midway through the two-hour service, the Rev. John Mowll of Congleton seized the lectern, edging aside a church official who was about to read the decree by Queen Elizabeth II appointing Bishop Jenkins to the post in northern England.

Two church wardens rushed forward, argued with Father Mowll and then escorted him out of the historic York Minster Cathedral.

Earlier, a sole protester in the audience of 1,500 people shouted that the service should be stopped, provoking cries of, "Shame" from the new bishop's supporters. The protester also was escorted out.
On Saturday, July 7, the General Synod of the Church of England, meeting at York, declined to take any action. In his Sunday morning sermon in the Minster, Archbishop of York John Habgood did not rebuke Mr. Jenkins. Later in the day, a strange cloud began hanging over York Minster Cathedral, and hung there for hours. In the early hours of Monday, July 9, 1984, God decided to make His own comment, as reported by BBC News:

A massive fire has devastated large parts of York Minster causing an estimated £1m damage.

Shortly after 0200 BST the alarm was raised and 150 fire-fighters from across north Yorkshire spent two hours bringing the blaze under control.

The fire was concentrated in the 13th Century South Transept and left its roof destroyed.

The cause of the fire is unclear, but early suggestions are that the medieval cathedral was struck by lightning.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

25 years ago: U.S. Supreme Court upholds Missouri law restricting abortion

On July 3, 1989, the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a Missouri law that restricted a woman’s right to have an abortion. The court majority, in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, upheld a Missouri law prohibiting public employees from performing abortions unless the mother’s life was endangered; barring abortions in public buildings; and requiring medical tests on any fetus more than 20 weeks old in order to determine if it could live outside the womb.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for the majority, said that any restriction on abortion should be judged by whether it "permissibly furthers the state’s interest in protecting potential human life." The reader will notice that Mr. Rehnquist actually weakens the pro-life case with his use of the term "potential human life" to describe a fetus rather than "human life," which is what a fetus actually is. "Justice" Harry Blackmun, author of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made up a woman’s "right" to an abortion, wrote in dissent, "I fear for the future...The signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows." The reader will notice that "Justice" Blackmun’s argument is emotional rather than legal.

Monday, June 23, 2014

St. Louis Roman Catholic Archbishop claims he didn't know that sexual abuse of minors was a crime

As reported by Lilly Fowler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 10, 2014:

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson claimed to be uncertain that he knew sexual abuse of a child by a priest constituted a crime when he was auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to a deposition released Monday.

During the deposition taken last month, attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson replied. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

Anderson went on to ask Carlson whether he knew in 1984, when he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, that it was a crime for a priest to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure if I did or didn’t,” Carlson said.

Yet according to documents released Monday by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates in St. Paul, Carlson showed clear knowledge that sexual abuse was a crime when discussing incidents with church officials during his time in Minnesota.

In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the then archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, John R. Roach, about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police.

In a statement, Gabe Jones, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said “while not being able to recall his knowledge of the law exactly as it was many decades ago, the archbishop did make clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today.”

“The question does not address the archbishop’s moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense,” Jones said.

Anderson took Carlson’s deposition as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit in Minnesota involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, Minn.

The plaintiff in the case, only identified as “Doe 1,” claims to have been abused in the 1970s by the Rev. Thomas Adamson at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park, Minn.

Later in the deposition, when asked about an incident of alleged sexual abuse of a minor by another priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Rev. Jerome Kern, Anderson asks Carlson:

“But you knew a priest touching the genitals of a kid to be a crime, did you not?,” referring to what a 1987 church memo said about the alleged incident.

“Yes,” Carlson replied.

Carlson went on to admit that he never personally reported any incidents of sex abuse to the police, though he encouraged parents to at least once.

Carlson also said that even in 1996 he did not know that pedophilia was a disorder that couldn’t be cured.

“I did not know that, but as a pastor, I was becoming increasingly concerned,” Carlson said...

...But over and over, throughout the deposition, Carlson claimed to not remember answers to questions posed by Anderson — for a total of 193 times.

Anderson asked Carlson if there was any physical condition or illness that was impeding his memory.

“I can’t make either a psychological or a physical diagnosis, other than to say I have had seven cancer surgeries. Each time, I received some kind of chemical to put me out for that. If that’s impeded my memory or not, I have no idea,” Carlson answered. “My concern is that what I say to you would be accurate.”

Anderson has also taken Carlson’s deposition for a priest sexual abuse case scheduled for trial July 7 in St. Louis. That deposition is under seal.

According to Anderson, Carlson was involved in handling sexual abuse cases in Minnesota for 15 years.
The Archdiocese, however, claims that Archbishop Carlson's statements have been taken out of contest, as reported by Ms. Fowler, June 11, 2014:

Statements by St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson about not knowing whether sexual abuse of children by priests was a crime that have ignited outrage were taken out of context, a spokesman for the archdiocese said Wednesday.

The spokesman, Gabe Jones, said the comments Carlson made in a deposition last month had been misconstrued in news reports to suggest the archbishop didn’t know it was a criminal offense for an adult to molest a child.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Jones said.

“When the archbishop said ‘I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,’ ” Jones said, “he was simply referring to the fact that he did not know the year that clergy became mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse.”

The deposition is part of a sexual abuse lawsuit in Minnesota involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, Minn. Carlson was responding to questions from plaintiff attorney Jeff Anderson...

...Mandatory reporting is an issue that concerns Carlson. He has admitted that he never personally reported any incidents of sexual abuse to the police, though he says he encouraged parents to at least once.

Beginning in 1988, according to Minnesota law, clergy were required to report any suspicions of sexual abuse to the authorities.

Still, Anderson said in an interview Wednesday, Carlson has always had an obligation to report what he knew.

“To say it’s not a crime doesn’t relieve you of an obligation to protect children,” Anderson said. “He made a conscious choice to do the wrong thing.”

Church documents show Carlson discovered in 1980 that Adamson, the priest at the center of the Minnesota lawsuit, had a history of sexual abuse.

Both as a teacher and principal at parochial schools, and as a priest in churches across southern Minnesota, Adamson claimed victims, according to the civil lawsuit.

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Adamson admitted to officials at the Winona diocese that he had sexually abused children, according to the civil lawsuit.

Once he asked two boys to disrobe; another time he tried to grab a boy’s genitals at the local YMCA; still another time he touched a boy’s genitals while in a sauna or whirlpool, the civil lawsuit says.

Adamson, in turn, was repeatedly transferred and sent to treatment, the suit says. Then, in 1976, he began working at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park, Minn., and allegedly abused the plaintiff in the case, known only as “Doe 1,” an altar boy.

In 1984 Carlson, who had heard about Adamson abusing a different child, recommended the priest be sent for treatment.

“It is obvious to me in dealing with Father Adamson at this time that he has little remorse other than the fact that we found something else out and completely minimizes the entire situation,” Carlson wrote in a church memo.

Carlson’s statements in the deposition, made public by Anderson on Monday, prompted a small protest Wednesday in front of the green-domed Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Many of the protesters said they still believed in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, though not in the leadership.

At one point, Wendy Casagrande, 76, stepped in front of the crowd and in a booming voice that belied her small, frail frame, yelled “Liar, liar pants on fire!”

"Liar, liar, pants on fire!" said Wendy Casagrande, of Foley, as she addressed the crowd during a vigil on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, outside the Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End condemning the recent statements and actions of Archbishop Robert Carlson on clergy sex abuse cases. "The Bible tells us not to lie," Casagrande continued. She stood next to David Clohessy, National Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Those gathered at the Cathedral Basilica, however, did not talk about Carlson’s relationship to Adamson specifically.

They spoke in more general terms about their continued frustration at the lack of transparency in the church and the fact that it takes depositions such as the one Carlson is now defending — and documents released as part of lawsuits such as the one involving Adamson — to gather information about their institution and the child sexual abuse scandal...
Archbishop Carlson has offered a Maxwell Smart defense ("Would you believe...?"). My response is the same as that of those to whom Maxwell Smart would offer his comments: "I find that very hard to believe." I haven't seen such failure of memory on the witness stand since the mid-1970s prosecutions of various figures associated with the 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and the subsequent cover-up. One Watergate defendant--Dwight Chapin, I think--was convicted and sentenced to prison because his inability under oath to remember things was not regarded as credible. I suspect that Archbishop Carlson has been advised by his attorney to say "I don't remember" rather than "I don't want to risk getting into trouble by saying anything that may contradict previous statements of mine that are already on record."

Archbishop Carlson made his statements in a videotaped deposition in the Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, Twenty-Second Judicial Court, State of Missouri, on May 23, 2014. The reader may go here to read the transcript of Archbishop Carlson to see if his statements (see pages 109-110) have been taken out of context. Go here to see then-auxiliary Bishop Carlson's 1984 memo to St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Roach.

40 years ago: Chuck Colson is sentenced to prison

In Washington D.C. on June 21, 1974, U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell sentenced former White House counsel Chuck Colson to 1-3 years in prison and fined him $5,000 for attempting to obstruct justice and influence the trial of former Defense Department employee Daniel Ellsberg. Mr. Colson had agreed to cooperate with Leon Jaworski, the Special Prosecutor investigating the 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and the subsequent cover-up. In return, Mr. Jaworski had agreed to drop criminal charges of conspiracy against Mr. Colson for alleged involvement in the Watergate cover-up and participation in the 1971 break-in at the office of Mr. Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

At the sentencing, Mr. Colson expressed regret and contrition for his offense, and also stated that President Richard Nixon had urged him "on numerous occasions" to commit the acts for which he was being jailed. However, Mr. Colson said he was confident that Mr. Nixon had acted in what he believed to be the national interest, and confessed that he had failed the President because "I never really questioned whether what he wanted done was right or wrong." The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee announced that Mr. Colson's statements made it imperative that he be called as a witness in the inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Nixon.

Mr. Colson came to faith in Jesus Christ before he'd ever been charged with any crimes, and not, as many may believe, in prison.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

40 years ago: U.S. President Richard Nixon declares hope for lasting peace in the Middle East

On June 12, 1974, U.S. President Richard Nixon, who was being threatened by impeachment over his involvement in the scandal surrounding the 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratice National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and the subsequent cover-up, arrived in Egypt to begin a visit to the Middle East. The following day, Mr. Nixon and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, meeting in Cairo, agreed to hold a series of bilateral meetings involving the Arab countries, U.S.S.R., and U.S.A. before the next round of Middle East peace talks in Geneva. On June 14, the two presidents concluded three days of talks in Cairo. The two countries announced, as part of a sweeping declaration of friendship and cooperation, that the U.S. had agreed to provide Egypt with nuclear technology to be used for peaceful purposes. Mr. Nixon then stopped in Saudi Arabia, where King Faisal warned him that there could not be real peace in the Middle East until all occupied Arab territories had been liberated and the people of Palestine regained their rights and were free to return to their homes.

On June 16, Mr. Nixon and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad announced in Damascus that their countries were resuming diplomatic relations, which had been severed after the Six-Day War in 1967. Both men described the decision as the first step toward lasting peace in the Middle East. Mr. Nixon then went to Israel, where, in an extensive communique, he assured Israel of long-term military and economic assistance from the United States, and indicated that the U.S. would offer Israel some technological aid and a supply of nuclear fuel. In Israel, Mr. Nixon encountered his first protesters, who made reference to the American President's Watergate difficulties.

On June 18, Mr. Nixon concluded his tour in Jordan, where the United States and Jordan agreed to form a joint Jordanian-American commission to review cooperation between the countries on a regular basis.

On June 19, Mr. Nixon, who had been enthusiastically greeted by people and leaders in Arab countries, returned to Washington and said "a profound and lasting change has taken place in that part of the world...where there was no hope for peace there is now hope." As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

13-year-old Indian boy with a tail is worshipped as a god

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Psalms 96:5

In the absence of worship of the true God, the natural alternative is not atheism, but idolatry. Submitted for your approval, the following video:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

60 years ago: U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower adds "under God" to Pledge of Allegiance

On June 14, 1954, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the order inserting the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge, written by socialist minister Francis Bellamy in 1892, read:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It was altered in 1923 to read:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The 1954 version, which is the one used today, reads:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
A lawyer named Rex Curry has a site that's quite critical of the Pledge (the site used to be much more comprehensive, but what remains is better than nothing). One of the criticisms offered by Mr. Curry was that, thanks to the Pledge, the flag no longer belonged to the people, but the people now belonged to the flag. As for "one nation, indivisible," so much for the founding principle that the states were sovereign states with the right to leave the Union if they so desired.

I urge the reader to click the links on Mr. Curry's site to see the salute that originally accompanied the recitation of the pledge--the revelation may be shocking. For more evidence of what the original salute was, you can see an example of it in this excerpt from the trailer for the movie Joe Smith, American (1942), starring Robert Young:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

30 years ago: Carl McIntire critiques Evangelicals for Social Action's Chicago Declaration

Carl McIntire (1906-2002) was a leading fundamentalist figure of the 20th century, serving as President of the International Council of Christian Churches from its founding in 1948 until his death at the age of 95. He was also the Editor-in-Chief of the weekly newspaper Christian Beacon. The following item is from Volume XLIX, Number 8, March 29, 1984, pp. 1, 3-4 of that paper (bold inserted by blogger). The Vancouver meeting to which Dr. McIntire refers is the assembly of the World Council of Churches that took place in Vancouver, British Columbia in the last week of July 1983. Dr. McIntire led an ICCC protest of the WCC assembly.

Liberation Theology With Evangelical Coating

By Carl McIntire

The prominence now being given to the Evangelicals for Social Action, led by Ronald J. Sider, reveals the promotion of their views by the religious press. The reason is that the evangelicals are calling for all to support the World Council of Churches and to remain in it. At the Vancouver meeting of the World Council of Churches, Ronald Sider was on the program.

Reproduced is the declaration adopted in a meeting in Chicago called the Thanksgiving Workshop on Evangelical and Social Concern, held in Chicago the Thanksgiving weekend of 1973. In a report by Sider, he makes his acknowledgments, also reproduced.

Sider called it a historic moment for Biblical and social concern. The strategy used is to make positive statements which an evangelical would accept and then twist their meaning around to support the Marxist attack upon freedom, free enterprise and American capitalism. The thrust is against the social structure which produces injustice. It is an evangelical coating of Liberation Theology. All of the usual themes are included, unjust social structures, racism, peace, feminism. This analysis takes the document section by section.

The entire document is here analyzed with direct quotes.

1. As evangelical Christians committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the full authority of the Word of God, we affirm that God lays total claim upon the lives of his people. We cannot, therefore, separate our lives in Christ from the situation in which God has placed us in the United States and the world.

This statement is typical of evangelicals, and the words "committed" to Christ and "full authority" is their language. Wherever the words, "full authority," are used, they are a substitute for "infallibility" and "inerrancy of the Scriptures."

This opening sentence standing alone, does express the responsibility of Christians for the welfare and the moral standards needed to maintain a decent country, free and with "in God We Trust" on its currency.

2. We confess that we have not acknowledged the complete claims of God on our lives.

Every Christian will recognize his failure and can accept such a statement as it stands, yet every Christian does desire to make Jesus Christ Lord of all things. This is the approach made to catch the eye and lead the evangelical along.

3. We acknowledge that God requires love. But we have not demonstrated the love of God to those suffering social abuses.

Yes, God does require love of one's neighbor. It is required by the Law, but the statement now moves into "those suffering social abuses." Now we move into the thrust that leads us to a Marxist solution to these social abuses, not a Christian.

4. We acknowledge that God requires justice. But we have not proclaimed or demonstrated his justice to an unjust American society. Although the Lord calls us to defend the social and economic rights of the poor and the oppressed, we have mostly remained silent. We deplore the historic involvement of the church in America with racism and the conspicuous responsibility of the evangelical community for perpetuating the personal attitudes and institutional structures that have divided the body of Christ along color lines. Further, we have failed to condemn the exploitation of racism at home and abroad by our economic system.

This lengthy paragraph leads the evangelicals into the heart of the battle raging over our free enterprise and capitalist system. God requires justice, and it is under the terms, "peace and justice," that the Marxists are carrying on their revolution over the world. America, they say, had an unjust social system, and it has an economic system of exploitation. The name of the Lord is used "to defend the social and economic rigts of the poor," which requires, first, in the name of justice, the removal and destruction of this "unjust American society." The burden of this section is that poverty and racism are tied together and that "institutional structures" and the present economic system are primarily responsible for it. This is Liberation Theology, deceiving evangelicals to support revolution. This declaration is repeating pronouncements of the World Council of Churches, which reflects the influence of the presence of the Soviet clergy in its midst.

5. We affirm that God abounds in mercy and that he forgives all who repent and turn from their sins. So we call our fellow evangelical Christians to demonstrate repentance in a Christian discipleship that confronts the social and political injustice of our nation.

God does abound in mercy; He does forgive sin; and again the evangelicals affirm this sentence. But "repentance" is in confronting the social structure of injustice. To repent means to join the forces of revolution that would produce a new society of so-called economic justice and equality, which is nothing more than a sanctified Cuba. These evangelicals are summoned "to confront the social and political injustice of our nation."

6. We must attack the materialism of our culture and the maldistribution of the nation's wealth and services. We recognize that as a nation we play a crucial role in the imbalance and injustice of international trade and development. Before God and a billion hungry neighbors, we must rethink our values regarding our present standard of living and promote more just acquisition and distribution of the world's resources.

Yes indeed, Christians must confront the materialism of our culture. But to deal with the maldistribution of the wealth of the nation moves into the realm of government regulation and control, which the Soviets have resolved with their Marxist structure. This removal of what is called the "imbalance and injustice of international trade" is the endorsement of the new economic order which Moscow first brought to the United Nations, which then Secretary Kissinger endorsed, and which the Reagan administration has rejected. The remainder of this statement promotes a world social order with some power at the top outlining the 5-or-10-year plan.

7. We acknowledge our Christian responsibilities of citizenship. Therefore, we must challenge the misplaced trust of the nation in economic and military might--a proud trust that promotes a national pathology of war and violence which victimizes our neighbors at home and abroad. We must resist the temptation to make the nation and its institutions objects of near-religious loyalty.

Christians do have a responsibility for citizenship, but this responsibility is the exact opposite of what these evangelicals are promoting. Scripture makes it clear that there has to be peace by strength and there has to be economic and military strength to deter the action of the [Soviet] Union and their allies against the United States. The last sentence of this quote reflects the attack of the secular press on what is called civil religion.

8. We acknowledge that we have encouraged men to prideful domination and women to irresponsible passivity. So we call both men and women to mutual submission and active discipleship.

This section deals with feminism, no longer is man to be the head. Such statements as these reveal that this New Evangelical pronouncement has separated its actual policy and position from the clear commands of the Word of God. This destroys the family relation God has ordained and opens the door to divorce and unfaithfulness.

9. We proclaim no new gospel, but the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, frees people from sin so that they might praise God through works of righteousness.

By this declaration, we endorse no political ideology or party, but call our nation's leaders and people to that righteousness which exalts a nation.

So they proclaim no new Gospel. This is a part of their deception in the same vein in which they opened the declaration. It is another Gospel. It has been called the social gospel, but they call their fraud "the gospel," and they speak of "the power of the Holy Spirit." Then they come around to what is called "works of righteousness." The candy thy offer has an evangelical coating, but the heart is arsenic to destroy the U.S.

10. We make this declaration in the biblical hope that Christ is coming to consummate the Kingdom and we accept his claim on our total discipleship till he comes.

So it ends as it started, Christians are to abandon their responsibility as outlined in the Ten Commandments and accept the Marxist philosophy in relation to human society and the state control in the lives and property of its citizens.

What these evangelicals have done is to abandon the Ten Commandments. The summary and exposition of these and the Larger Catechism defends individualism under God and makes man responsible for his neighbor's welfare and wealth. Having departed from the Word of God, these evangelicals in their blindness have joined the revolutionary forces whose basic philosophy is rooted in the rejection of God and His will for His creatures. Righteousness does exalt a nation but not the phony righteousness of Marxism that would first destroy capitalism with its free and private enterprise and then replace it with the all-powerful state exemplified in the Soviet Union. There the church leaders in the Russian Baptist Church and Russian Orthodox churches claim that their new state order is fulfilling the righteousness and kingdom of God.

The Chicago Declaration is dangerous, diabolical, and will enslave the very evangelicals they are promoting. Christianity does involve the total life of the believer, but his life must be dedicated not to destroying the freedom God gives, but in defending it. When President Reagan in Orlando in 1983, appearing before the National Association of Evangelicals, spoke of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and the "focus of evil," it was Ron Sider, a member of the NAE, who led the assembled evangelicals not to endorse or even commend the President's statement concerning the destructive nature of Communism.

The Chicago Declaration reveals how successful the ecumenists have now become in getting these evangelicals who basically question the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible to join their caravan for a world church with the evangelicals constituting a wing in world religion...
Dr. McIntire astutely observes that the Chicago Declaration uses statements that any evangelical would agree with, and then twists the meaning to support their social gospel agenda--and any resemblance to the emerging church of the 21st century, is, of course, purely coincidental. I had a similat reaction to the Chicago Declaration as Dr. McIntire; there are statements in it I agree with, but then it goes off in the direction of the social gospel, which is, as Dr. McIntire states, a false gospel. See also my post, "Today's Evangelicals, Tomorrow's Liberals"--A Warning from 1983.

A few years after Dr. McIntire published his article, Ron Sider was boasting about his participation in the "Witness for Peace" program in Nicaragua, in which the participants acted as human shields to impede the efforts of the Contras who were fighting against Nicaragua's Sandanista regime. The actions of the "Witness for Peace" participants had the effect of aiding the Sandanista regime, a regime that committed genocide against the Miskito Indians and was persecuting Christians. For information on the Sandanistas' treatment of Christians, I recommend the book Breaking Faith: The Sandanista Revolution and its Impact on Freedom and Christian Faith in Nicaragua by former Sandanista Humberto Belli, published in 1985. Mr. Sider's participation in "Witness for Peace" gives the lie to his claim as a member of ESA to "endorse no political ideology or party." "Witness for Peace" was a project that resulted in de facto support for Marxism and the Sandanista regime. When Mr. Sider claims to be a Christian while supporting a regime that persecutes Christians, I think I'm entitled to ask whose side he's on.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

700 years ago: The execution of Jacques de Molay

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
II Corinthians 6:14-17

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11

On March 18, 1314, Jacques de Molay, believed to be 70 years of age, was burned at the stake upon a scaffold on an island in the River Seine in Paris, along with Preceptor of Normandy Geoffroi de Charney. Mr. De Molay was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the most powerful of Roman Catholic military orders from 1292-1307, when the order was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V, who was under the threat of military action by King Philip IV. Mr. De Molay and other leading Knights Templar were arrested and accused of various crimes, to which they confessed after torture. Messrs. De Molay and De Charney were executed after retracting their confessions. Mr. De Molay's last words included a declaration that those who had condemned them to death would soon be hit by calamity; King Philip IV and Pope Clement V were both dead before the end of the year.

The Freemasonic youth organization DeMolay International, also known as the Order of DeMolay, founded in Kansas City, Missouri in 1919 by Frank S. Land, was named in honour of Jacques de Molay. According to its website:

What is DeMolay International?

DeMolay is an organization dedicated to preparing young men to lead successful, happy, and productive lives. Basing its approach on timeless principles and practical, hands-on experience, DeMolay opens doors for young men aged 12 to 21 by developing the civic awareness, personal responsibility and leadership skills so vitally needed in society today. DeMolay combines this serious mission with a fun approach that builds important bonds of friendship among members in more than 1,000 chapters worldwide.
The female equivalents of DeMolay International are Job's Daughters International, founded in Omaha in 1920 by Ethel T. Wead Mick; and International Order of the Rainbow for Girls (IORG), founded in McAlester, Oklahoma in 1922 as a result of a speech there by Rev. Mark Sexson, a Freemason.

The DeMolay Hall of Fame includes politicians Bill Clinton, Mark Hatfield, Mel Carnahan, Carl Albert, Henry Jackson, and Jim Wright; astronauts Frank Borman, Vance Brand, and Edgar Mitchell; sports figures Pete Rose, Fran Tarkenton, Harmon Killebrew, and Tom Osborne; and media and entertainment figures Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Paul Harvey. Other famous DeMolay alumni include astronaut Neil Armstrong; basketball player and politician Bill Bradley; baseball player and manager Alvin Dark; football player Terry Bradshaw; and even rock music legend Vince Furnier, better known as Alice Cooper.

One might wonder what DeMolay's idea of "personal responsibility" is, given the presence of Bill Clinton and Pete Rose in their Hall of Fame (Mr. Rose, of course, is ineligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame because he doesn't meet its entry standards of integrity and character--however low those standards may be in their application in the case of some who have been inducted in years past). It's worth noting that both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Rose were honoured by DeMolay before their biggest scandals came to light. One might think that, in light of what's happened since these two were inducted, that DeMolay might consider rescinding their Hall of Fame membership, or at least not boasting about it, but there they are, publicly mentioned among the honourees.

Some of the men mentioned above profess to be Christians, and maybe some of them are (although I recognize a couple of Mormons in that list), but in view of DeMolay's relationship with Freemasonry--which worships a false god and proclaims a false gospel of salvation by works--real Christians should disassociate themselves from the organization in obedience to II Corinthians 6:14-17.

The fact that DeMolay International is a Freemasonic organization, and that the Bible forbids being unequally yoked with unbelievers, hasn't prevented evangelist Billy Graham from praising the order:

...there are thoughtful, concerned young people--who seek to correct the errors in moral navigation that have been made by their elders, intelligently and responsibly. There are the young people upon which the hope of America's future rests and DeMolays are part of this group...May God richly bless all DeMolays as they continue their good work. Forrest D. Haggard, The Clergy and the Craft, 1970, p. 127.

When I was in high school and was a young and ignorant Christian, I was invited by a professing Christian friend to join DeMolay. I didn't pursue the opportunity--not because I had keen Christian discernment (although I thought DeMolay was a strange name for a society), but more because of apathy and because I'm not much of a joiner (it might also have been an unconscious holdover from my days in Cub Scouts, when I quit after two years because we never did anything interesting). Looking back, I think it was a case of God using my indifference to joining DeMolay to protect me from the deception of that society and its parent organization.

There are a number of excellent critiques of Freemasonry from a Christian perspective. A couple that this blogger has found useful are The Facts on the Masonic Lodge (1989) and The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge: A Christian Perspective (1990) by John Ankerberg & John Weldon.