Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to access Debbie O'Hara's News With Views columns

Debbie O'Hara was an excellent columnist on issues of Christian discernment for News With Views from 2003-2005. She's no longer listed on NWV's masthead, and her columns are no longer available at their site, but a list of her columns can be found here. To see the individual columns, Google "Debbie O'Hara" and the column title, and then click on "cached."

30 years ago: The sudden and dramatic drop in the price of silver leads to indefinite postponement of fulfillment of the Great Commission

An incongruous headline? Not necessarily. March 27, 1980 was a notable day in the history of Campus Crusade for Christ. At the main gym of the University of Alberta, this blogger was a volunteer as the Athletes in Action basketball team defeated the Canadian men's national team 81-78 in an exhibition game.

More important: the price of silver, which had reached a record $50.05 U.S. per ounce in January, plunged to $10.50 per ounce--down $5 during the day, causing huge losses for speculators and threatening the collapse of the $2-billion silver empire of brothers Herbert and Bunky Hunt, who were based in Dallas, Texas. They were attempting to corner the world silver market, building up holdings estimated at more than 200 million ounces since the summer of 1979, and driving the price of silver to a record high of $50.05 per ounce in January 1980.

On March 26, a sharp fall in silver futures prices led brokerage houses to make margin calls for more cash from investors to maintain their equity in holdings of commodities bought on credit. The margin call put a severe financial squeeze on the Hunt brothers, and they had been unable to raise the cash. The investment house of Bache Halsey Stuart Shields Inc. began to sell out its holdings of the Hunts’ silver futures and stock positions. On March 27, Bache Halsey Stuart Shields Inc. announced that the brothers had failed to meet $100 million of margin calls on their silver accounts the previous day, which caused panic in the silver market.

Bunky Hunt had been appointed by Campus Crusade for Christ President Bill Bright to head up CCC’s effort to fulfill the Great Commission internationally, and as late as 1979 (in Mr. Bright’s book Believing God for the Impossible, where Nelson Bunker Hunt was described as "one of the world’s most prominent businessmen"), Mr. Bright was still predicting fulfillment of the Great Commission worldwide by 1980. The sudden and dramatic drop in the price of silver may have played a role in the indefinite postponement of that event. Had the Hunt brothers been able to pull off their scheme to corner the world silver market, some of Bunky’s share of the profits would have been given to Campus Crusade for Christ; even a small percentage would have been a considerable amount of money. It can be disputed, of course, whether Campus Crusade's efforts could be regarded as the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In the above-mentioned book, Mr. Bright said that he considered the notorious 1976 "I Found It!" bumper sticker campaign to be the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the United States.

Go here to see an article about Nelson Bunker Hunt that was published in 1980.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10 years ago: Almost 1,000 die in cult holocaust in Uganda

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

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

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:3-5

In an abomination reminiscent of Jonestown and Waco, an estimated 530 people paid the price for following a false prophet when they died in a church fire in Kanungu, Uganda on March 17, 2000. The deceased were members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments, whose leader, Joseph Kibwetere, had erroneously predicted that the world would end on December 31, 1999. Authorities suspected that the incident may have involved murder, as the windows and doors of the church had been locked before the fire began. Within a month after the fire, further investigation found another 444 bodies in various locations. On March 24, 153 were found in two pits used as a base by the cult. On March 27, 74 were found on a cult leader’s land. On March 28-29, 81 bodies were found in a nearby house. On March 30, 81 more were found at the home of a cult member. On April 27, 55 bodies were found in a garage rented by a cult leader.

Nazis tried the old "infiltrate the Vatican with spies disguised as monks and priests" trick

It seemed like a good idea at the time. According to the Daily Telegraph:

Officials in Germany thought the idea of agents posing as monks and priests in a cloister would be the perfect cover for them.

A Nazi sympathiser living in Rome came up with the idea and it was quickly seized upon by officials in Berlin who saw it as the ideal opportunity to keep up with Allied activity in the city.

The plan is revealed in MI5 reports held at the National Archives in Kew and which have now been declassified - and it comes just days after other files revealed how Germany had also tried to infiltrate the Boy Scouts.

The plan may have worked if the Nazis had paid closer attention to certain obvious details:

Six agents were sent to the cloister to pose as monks and seminarians but they aroused the suspicion of Vatican officials for their lack of knowledge on Catholic doctrine - and their interest in women.

How pathetic--World's first officially genderless person

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27

I hope the Lord returns before sexlessness becomes compulsory. According to the Daily Telegraph:

Norrie May-Welby, 48, was born a man but had a sex change operation in 1990, at the age of 28.

After becoming unhappy as a woman, May-Welby decided to become a “neuter”. The 48-year-old is now officially recognised as a person of no specific gender.

The reader will note that God made Norrie May-Welby a male, but this person wasn't satisfied with that and thought he could improve on what God had done. He was mistaken; the manmade changes haven't worked.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shocking--shocking!--survey reveals that many Americans believe that God guides their daily lives

Only in Trudeaupian academia (and in Canwest newspapers) would this be considered newsworthy:

...a new Canadian study sheds light on why: the vast majority of Americans believe God is directly concerned with their personal affairs, with most assuming a divine reason for everything from job promotions to speeding tickets.
"In American culture — much less so in Canada — there's a really constant flow of God-talk that references these small, personal interactions. It's almost like a self-absorbed view of divine will," says study author Scott Schieman, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.
"The extent that it's so visible, almost saturating the culture at times, makes me think it's not just metaphor or symbolism; many, many people believe these processes are real."
Eight in 10 Americans say they depend on God for decision-making guidance. Seven in 10 believe that when good or bad things happen, the occurrences are part of God's plan. And six in 10 believe God has set the course of their lives.

Go here to see Professor Schieman's original article.

40 years ago: Consultation on Church Union officially moves to create an American superchurch

On March 13, 1970, a concrete merger proposal to unite 25 million members of nine Protestant denominations into a single church within the decade was sent by the Consultation on Church Union to the denominations. The proposal was to receive two years of detailed study and probably extensive amendment by laymen and clergy at all levels.

COCU (or as I prefer to call it, "Cuckoo") originated with an address given by Eugene Carson Blake on December 4, 1960 at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. Dr. Blake, a Presbyterian, had been invited to speak by Grace Cathedral's minister, the notorious Bishop James A. Pike.

Despite the liberal churches' talk about unity, the 1970 proposal was overwhelmingly rejected. COCU officially ended its existence on January 19, 2002, and was replaced the next day by Churches Uniting in Christ (CUiC--I pronounce it "kook"). Of course, when you now have such ecumenical movements as United Religions Initiative (founded in 2000 under the leadership of one of Bishop Pike's successors as Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California, the appropriately-named William Swing), a mere mainline Protestant superchurch doesn't seem very impressive in comparison.

As an aside, I chuckled when I saw CUiC's COCU history page refer to the California bishop as "James K. Pike." Apparently they're confusing him with James K. Polk, President of the United States from 1845-1849.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

10 years ago: Bob Jones University changes its policy on interracial dating

On March 3, 2000, Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina dropped its decades-old ban on interracial dating leading to marriage. The university had always maintained that its position against interracial dating was based on the Bible. If that were really the case, then they had no business changing the policy, no matter how much society disapproved of it. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 8-1 on May 24, 1983 that the BJU ban on interracial dating was a form of racial discrimination, and that private institutions that practiced racial discrimination were thus ineligible for federal tax exemptions. The university had lost its tax-exempt status in 1976, and had been sued for $490,000 in back taxes.

The passage of scripture usually cited against interracial marriage is Deuteronomy 7:1-4:

When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

The reader will notice that the prohibition was against having friendly relations with seven specific nations because they followed other gods, not because their skin was a different colour. It’s also stated that these seven nations were greater and mightier than Israel; if Israel were to make covenants with and intermarry with these nations, the likely result would be that Israel would be overwhelmed and absorbed by them, and would lose her distinct identity, which was definitely not part of God's plan. None of the reasons against intermarriage cited in the passage above are applicable to Bob Jones University.

The New Testament passage most frequently cited against marrying unbelievers is II Corinthians 6:14-17:

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.

The passage in II Corinthians couldn’t be more clear (and can be applied to more than just a marriage relationship), but no mention is made of difference in skin colour as being a bar to marriage between Christians. To use Deuteronomy 7:1-4 to forbid interracial marriages among Christians is faulty application based on faulty exegesis.

The fact that Bob Jones University did change its dating policy showed that either BJU had been lying for years--i.e., their position hadn’t really been based on the Bible--or that as of March 3, 2000, the university was no longer basing its position on the Bible. Either way, BJU’s actions weakened its claim to be a fundamentalist Christian university.