Category Archives: Current Issues, Politics

What Is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Aldous Huxley called his Brave New World, “The nightmare of total organization …” As one of the most widely read books written in the 20th century, many people, like myself, read it as an English requirement without spending much time thinking about it.

“The nightmare of total organization, which I had situated in the seventh century After Ford, has emerged from the safe remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 (Aldous Huxley, about Brave New World, 1932)

When Aldous Huxley contrasted his fantasy world with Orwell’s 1984, he believed that his fantasy world, Brave New World, was more likely to become reality.

“The society described in 1984 is a society controlled almost exclusively by punishment and the fear of punishment. In the imaginary world of my own fable, punishment is infrequent and generally mild. The nearly perfect control exercised by the government is achieved by systematic reinforcement of desirable behavior, by many kinds of nearly non-violent manipulation, both physical and psychological, and by genetic standardization.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

“We who were living in the second quarter of the twentieth century A.D. were the inhabitants, admittedly, of a gruesome kind of universe; but the nightmare of those depression years was radically different from the nightmare of the future, described in Brave New World. Ours was a nightmare of too little order; theirs, in the seventh century A.F. [After Ford], of too much. In the process of passing from one extreme to the other, there would be a long interval, so I imagined, during which the more fortunate third of the human race would make the best of both worlds – the disorderly world of liberalism and much too orderly Brave New World where perfect efficiency left no room for freedom or personal initiative.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

Both 1984 and Brave New World are fantasies of total government control. Only the methods are different. The question Aldous Huxley raised is “Which method is more effective: fear of punishment or desire for acceptance and reward?” “In the light of what we have recently learned about animal behavior in general, and human behavior in particular, it has become clear that control through the punishment of undesirable behavior is less effective, in the long run, than control through the reinforcement of desirable behavior by rewards, and that government through terror works on the whole less well than government through the non-violent manipulation of the environment and of the thoughts and feelings of individual men, women and children.

“Punishment temporarily puts a stop to undesirable behavior, but does not permanently reduce the victim’s tendency to indulge in it. Moreover, psycho-physical by-products of punishment may be just as undesirable as the behavior for which the individual has been punished. Psychotherapy is largely concerned with the debilitating or anti-social consequences of past punishments.” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

I, and many others, am not too certain that Brave New World Revisited is not an entirely accurate view of the fantasy nightmare published in 1932. Brave New World ends with John, also called the Savage, hanging himself. John certainly viewed that civilization as an inescapable nightmare. The very terminology of Brave New World is the language of a nightmare. Yet if Aldous Huxley did not believe these principles to be good and desirable, he seems to at least believe that they were inevitable. “…impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare; and this impersonal pushing is being consciously accelerated by representatives of commercial and political organizations who have developed a number of new techniques for manipulation, in the interest of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.” Brave New World Revisited

It certainly shows a lack of understanding to deny the influence of evil spirits. It seems odd, even hypocritical, that Huxley believed representatives of organizations are impersonal.  Yet the justifications for total organization spoken by Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller of Western Europe [one of ten throughout the world], when talking to John, Bernard, and Helmholz in a private meeting to banish Bernard and Helmholz, seem to represent what Aldous Huxley believed in 1931. “Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel—and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.” Mustapha Mond Brave New World p. 245

This view, expressed by World Controller Mustoapha Mond, is very similar to the written goals of Secular Humanism. They believe it to be a good goal. Plato’s Republic uses very similar, though not identical, goals for his ideal government. It is similar to the stated goals of the French Revolution, Karl Marx, and even Fascism. All of these found that the reinforcement of desirable behavior through rewards failed to control enough people and turned to force as in the 1984 fantasy. These governments believed in control first and foremost. While reinforcement of desirable behavior was preferred, control was essential and whatever methods were necessary were used. This was historic reality.

Aldous Huxley believed that the tools to manipulate desirable behavior would be improved and become more pervasive. However, even in the total fantasy of fiction, Mustapha Mond had to lie, perhaps even deceiving himself to make his case. The phrase (sentence actually), “they’re not afraid of death” is a lie. It might be that citizens of the Brave New World are too busy and too conditioned to face or even think about death. But the death of John’s mother Linda shows death when they actually faced it. She returned to civilization after living for decades on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico.

“At forty-four, Linda seemed, by contrast, a monster of flaccid and distorted senility.” p 223 She choose to escape reality and live entirely in a drug (soma) induced wonderland until her death shortly after her return.””Every one belongs to every …” Her voice suddenly died into an almost inaudible breathless croaking. Her mouth fell open: she made a desperate effort to fill her lungs with air. But it was as though she had forgotten how to breathe. She tried to cry out-but no sound came; only the terror of her staring eyes revealed what she was suffering. Her hands went to her throat, then clawed at the air–the air she could no longer breathe, the air that, for her, had ceased to exist.

“The Savage [her adult son John] was on his feet, bent over her. “What is it, Linda? What is it?” His voice was imploring; it was as though he were begging to be reassured. “The look she gave him was charged with an unspeakable terror—with terror and, it seemed to him, reproach.  “She tried to raise herself in bed, but fell back on to the pillows. Her face was horribly distorted, her lips blue.” pp. 227,8

They were conditioned to believe that death ended everything. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The individual existed solely to support the community. Solitude and independent thinking were heretical. It was a society with no moral purpose or even reason for existing.  Any attempt to obey any form of tradition outside of society’s conditioning was wrong and produced a guilty conscience. Huxley uses the third person omnipotent point of view to explain this.

“In the taxicopter he [John] hardly even looked at her [Lenina]. Bound by strong vows that had never been pronounced, obedient to laws that had long since ceased to run, [marriage and chastity] he sat averted and in silence. Sometimes, as though a finger had plucked at some taut, almost breaking string, his whole body would shake with a sudden nervous start.” p. 186Mustapha Mond shows that this moral vacuum is the result of rigidly enforced choices.

“”The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.” He [Mustapha Mond—Resident World Controller of Western Europe; 1 of 10 world controllers] underlined the words. “The author will be kept under supervision. His transference to the Marine Biological station of St. Helena may become necessary.”

“”A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose-well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher casts-make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.

“He picked up his pen again, and under the words “Not to be published” drew a second line, thicker and blacker than the first; then sighed. “What fun it would be,” he thought, “if one didn’t have to think about happiness!”” p.195

The fantasy nightmare Brave New World government exists solely to produce happiness. This happiness can only be brought about by conformity “”Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, one of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrown by passion of doubt. Happiness is never grand.”” [Mustapha Mond]  p. 246

Like the very real European Dark Ages, the greatest crime is novelty, something new. The established religion of government declares itself to be infallible. “Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.” [Mustapha Mond]   p. 250

“Yes,” Mustapha Mond was saying, “that’s another item in the cost of stability. It isn’t only art that’s incompatible with happiness; it’s also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.” p. 250

Is this so different from today? Today, people today also claim to believe in science. “”Yes; but what sort of science?” asked Mustapha Mond sarcastically. “You’ve had no scientific training, so you can’t judge. I was a pretty good physicist in my time. Too good-good enough to realize that all our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody’s allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn’t be added to except by special permission from the head cook. I’m the head cook now.”” p. 251

“Helmholtz laughed. “Then why aren’t you on an island yourself?” “Because, finally, I preferred this,” the Contoller answered. “I was given the choice: to be sent to an island, where I could have got on with my purer science, or to be taken on to the Controllers’ Council with the prospect of succeeding in due course to an actual Controllership. I chose this and let the science go.” After a little silence, “Sometimes,” he added, “I rather regret the science. Happiness is a hard master-particularly other people’s happiness. A much harder master, if one isn’t conditioned to accept it unquestioningly, than truth.” He sighed, fell silent again, then continued in a brisker tone, “Well, duty’s duty. One can’t consult one’s own preference. I’m interested in truth, I like science. But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it’s been beneficent. It has given us the stablest equilibrium in history…” p.253 Brave New World, written 1931, published 1932

This mythical “stable equilibrium” has never existed and never will exist without God. Aldous Huxley observed the advances the ruling elite have made. “why has the nightmare, which I had projected into the seventh century A.F., made so swift an advance in our direction?” Brave New World Revisited 1958 Aldous Huxley

For those who deny God and claim that His purposes cannot be known, the warnings of Brave New World are the best they can do. They understand the results of certain forms of evil. They understand that this vision of the future is a nightmare. But without God, their solutions are only other nightmares of various forms. Without God, there are many other possible nightmare scenarios besides a totalitarian 1984 verses a manipulative Brave New World.

“But as it is written, No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9 quoting Isaiah 64:6 ISV)

“You cause me to know the path of life; in your presence is joyful abundance, at your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 116:11 ISV)

“And since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am.” (John 14:3 ISV)

“Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we will be like has not been revealed yet. We know that when the Messiah is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 ISV)

“For everything that is in the world–the desire for fleshly gratification, the desire for possessions, and worldly arrogance–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God’s will remains forever.” (1 John 2:16, 17)

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Repent For the Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand: The Message of John the Baptist –Post by Michael J. Findley

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When confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, did David say this to Nathan the prophet? “I apologize to … for how distracting and divisive this has been.” Are these the words of Paul to Jesus on the road to Damascus? Yet this insult has been used in place of repentance several times recently.

First, true repentance requires understanding God’s holiness. There are books, even sets of books on the subject. It is the emphasis of the Law God gave to Israel on Sinai.

Leviticus 11:45 You are to be holy, because I am holy, is one of the most repeated phrases in the entire Bible.

Because we are sinners, our sin needs to be atoned for. That sin is the reason for the entire sacrificial system; the tabernacle, the temple, and the death of Christ on the cross.

Second, true repentance requires understanding what sin is. Sin separates us from God. Sin is far more than a “distraction,” or “divisive.” For the wages of sin is death.

It is usually easy to see what we might think is sin in someone else. But true repentance is not repenting of someone else’s sin. It is confessing our own sin. True repentance understands sin, confesses that sin, and forsakes that sin.

1 John 1:9
If we make it our habit to confess our sins, in his faithful righteousness he forgives us for those sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

Confess means to say the same thing about our sin that God says about our sin. It is neither just listing the sin, nor is it just doing penance. It means making the sin right. If something was stolen, then it must be returned. If you committed murder, then you must face the punishment for murder, up to and including your own death, if that is necessary to atone for that sin.

Whatever sin we committed, we must atone for that sin. Apologies which do not even acknowledge a sin put us in the same position as David when he attempted to cover up his sin. 2 Samuel 11:27 says, Meanwhile, what David had done grieved the Lord. God sent Nathan the prophet. The judgment for David’s sin was the death of the child. Later, when David sinned in numbering the people, 70,000 men died.

It is sad the others suffer the consequences of our unrepentant sin.

Hebrew 3:12-15
See to it, my brothers, that no evil, unbelieving heart is found in any of you, as shown by your turning away from the living God. Instead, continue to encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, because we are the Messiah’s partners only if we hold on to our original confidence to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as they did when they provoked me.”

All Scripture quotes are from the ISV

Image Credit: Thou Art the Man. Artist: Peter Frederick Rothermel (1817-1895) Public Domain

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SBC supports building NJ Mosque — post by Michael J. Findley

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Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) filed an amicus brief supporting the construction of a mosque in New Jersey in 2016. The International Mission Board also signed the amicus brief. Dr. Moore was questioned about this by a Pastor from the floor of the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, June, 2016.

“I would like to know how in the world someone in the Southern Baptist Convention can support the defending of rights for Muslims to construct mosques in the United States when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans. They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world. Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today, He would actually support this and that He would stand up and say, well, let us support the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal? Do you believe that Dr. Moore?”

Dr. Moore replied, “You know sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated and we have to spend a lot of time thinking them through and not sure what the final result was going to be. Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things.”

In January 2017 IBM trustee Dean Haun resigned over this. He is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Morristown, TN and former president of the Tennessee Baptist convention. His church voted unanimously to put their giving to the Cooperative Program in escrow until the amicus brief support is reversed.

Perhaps as result of this, the President of the IMB, David Platt, issued this apology:
“I grieve how the amicus brief in the recent mosque case has been so divisive and distracting.”
[My note: Sin is always divisive and distracting.]

“All this to say, in short, I apologize to Southern Baptists for how distracting and divisive this has been. I am confident that in the days ahead, the IMB will have better processes in place to keep us focused on our primary mission: partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.” David Platt

I agree with Bud Ahlheim’s comments on this apology. “Platt didn’t acknowledge that his agency had made a grave error in supporting the Muslims in their legal proceedings. He did not apologize for disregarding God’s perspicuous commands in Scripture. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) What Platt apologized for was the “distracting and divisive” result such participation generated.

It seems not altogether unlike the cookie-thieving child who is sorry for getting caught, not for actually committing the crime. Or perhaps like the adulterous husband who regrets the repercussions of his sin more than the sin itself. It just doesn’t seem to evoke authentic ‘godly grief.’ (2 Corinthians 7:10)”

On February 16, 2017, former SBC president Jack Graham, who is currently pastor of Megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX, said that his church has also agreed to escrow their giving to the cooperative program because of the amicus brief supporting the building of the mosque. In 2015 they gave $500,000 to the Cooperative Program.
This blog is based on the February 16, 2017 Pulpit and Pen article by Bud Ahlheim:

http://pulpitandpen.org/2017/02/16/sbcs-david-platt-issues-apology-for-mosque-building-alliance/

and a February 17, 2017 Christianity Today article:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/february/trump-advisers-church-withholds-donation-sbc-graham-moore.html

Image Credit: Dr. Moore preaching in chapel at SBTS 9 October 2011 Photographer: Theology147 Wikimedia Commons

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What Does the Bible Teach about Immigration? — Michael J. Findley

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In spite of many social justice warriors attempting to force the Church to take care of unbelievers, the words immigration, immigrant, and emigrant are not in the Bible. Neither is the concept contained in Greek and Hebrew words which can be translated as visitor, alien, foreigner, stranger, outsider, pilgrim, and sojourner. All of these words are temporary visitors, even if the visit is many years.

The important point is, who do you worship? The Law assumes that all Jews will worship the LORD. Idolatry is not tolerated in the Law. Foreigners who accepted the LORD could enter the congregation of the LORD. Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah the Hittite did just that.

But those who did not convert to worship of the true God were not part of the congregation of Israel. They were not to marry them, though they were to treat them kindly. This is the reason Ezra had to spend months examining the Jews who had married Ammonite women. Those who renounced the gods of Ammon could eventually (10 generations) have their children enter the congregation of the Lord. But no one who remained an Ammonite culturally and in terms of belief was to enter the congregation of the LORD. Ever.

Muslims do not worship the LORD Jesus Christ who spoke the universe into existence. They are like the Ammonites Nehemiah and Ezra had to deal with. We pray for them. But we do not support them or the evil of their worship. They worship either a demon or Satan the prince of darkness.

If we look for New Testament comparisons, they are like Alexander the coppersmith who did Paul much harm. When in power politically, they behead our brothers and sisters in Christ.

They certainly are fellow human beings. We pray for them. We should not mistreat them the way they mistreat our brothers and sister in Christ.

The physical resources we as individual believers have are very limited. The resources the Church has are limited. Even the resources of an entire nation are limited. Those resources should be used the way God intended that they be used. They should not be given to idolaters who intend to use whatever we give them to destroy us.

Image Credit: Pixabay, Alexas Photos Public Domain

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Thank You, Franklin Graham — Post by Michael J. Findley

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“It’s not a biblical command for the country to let everyone in who wants to come, that’s not a Bible issue,” Franklin Graham told HuffPost. “We want to love people, we want to be kind to people, we want to be considerate, but we have a country and a country should have order and there are laws that relate to immigration and I think we should follow those laws. Because of the dangers we see today in this world, we need to be very careful.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/frankling-graham-refugees_us_5889049ce4b061cf898c6c42

Despite attacks which are best described as vicious hatred by those who claim that Franklin Graham does not love Muslims, he has continued to speak the truth on this issue. Once again, his statements on this issue are well-spoken. Thank you, Franklin Graham.

Image Credit: Image of Franklin Graham captured 15 June 2014 In Poland by Leszek Jańczuk

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Peace, Unity, and Refugees: the Executive Order

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If possible, so far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Romans 12:8

Eric Costanzo, pastor of the South Tulsa Baptist Church (SBC) in Tulsa, OK co-signed a protest letter published in the Washington Post, wrote a facebook article, and posted a blog supporting the Evangelical protest of the temporary immigration halt from seven countries. In the Tulsa World he wrote that we have a “blindness to the degree of polarity between their [refugees’] needs and our extravagance that allows us to somehow justify our selfishness and inaction to their suffering.” The plight of many is desperate. It is also possible that there are more refugees in the world than the entire population of the USA.

His comments are typical of what many believe. “Whether or not we will admit it out loud, our conservative culture is quick to dismiss injustice if those who are oppressed are Muslim. The Bible contains several mandates from God that his people show compassion, provide refuge, and care deliberately for the foreigner who is in need.”
If this statement is true, why didn’t Jesus do this? Jesus fed people who listened to His teaching. This is not what most people mean by providing refuge and care. Jesus had no homes, clothing, money or food to give people.

Pastor Costanzo wrote: “These verses and stories are not hard to find, and their applications to the current refugee situation are hard to miss.” There are many great needs; refugees, our brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea, the Sudan, China, and families next door. Meeting specific needs is certainly a responsibility commanded in Scriptures. So is providing for your own families and neighbors. Our abilities, resources, time and income are extremely limited. With billions of needy people on earth, what are God’s priorities?

“I believe it is the responsibility of every evangelical leader,” Pastor Eric wrote, “and every believer, to speak out against injustice; to take action on behalf of the refugee; and to be willing to step into the messiness of their lives in order to be good news.”
How does speaking out against injustice help us to teach and preach the Word, glorify God, worship, and make disciples? Great injustices have been committed in the name of speaking out against injustice.

He wrote “Of all the countries who have accepted and are accepting refugees from the Middle East, the U.S. has accepted a very low percentage. This has been true regarding refugees for decades.”

According to the UN, however, “The United States is the world’s top resettlement country for refugees.” “In fiscal year (FY) 2015, the United States resettled 69,933 refugees and in FY 2013 (the most recent data available) granted asylum status to 25,199 people.” migrationpolicy.org/article/refugees-and- asylees-united-states. According to the UN, though there are over 21 million refugees in the world, only 107,100 have been resettled. unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a- glance.html So about 70% of all resettled refugees in the world are in the USA.

From the Ice Age, the time of Job and Abraham, through the New Testament, refugees in the modern sense did not exist. Until recently, everyone on earth either owned enough property to properly take care of themselves or they were property, in other words, a slave. You either found some way to take care of yourself and your family, you died, or your were enslaved.

The letter Pastor Eric signed in protest of President Trump’s executive order says, “we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugees.”

Why? This letter dwells at length on the plight of many people. It also makes many false implications about those who do not agree with their position.

In an attempt to correct some of the worst errors in the Washington Post letter, here are some quotes from the actual Executive Order by President Trump, “the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by- case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.” Sec. 3. (g) “Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program.“

Defining terrorism-related attacks is difficult. Some make a definition which claims that there have been very few assaults since 9-11. Others use a very broad definition which leads to hundreds of thousands of assaults. It is pointless to attempt to convince anyone whose mind is already made up. There is no question that the Boston marathon bombing was terrorism-related. The thousands of unsolved homicides by illegal aliens in LA are not as clearly connected to terrorism.

Section 1 “In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

It is so sad that Pastor Eric’s blog perpetuates the myth that “We are afraid that refugees from the Middle East will be our enemies.” A proper understanding of Islam reveals the radical form of the religion of Islam is our enemy. That is understanding, not fear. Radical Islam has declared war on the USA and Christians. Do we understand that?

For an example of how one country handled the very human and laudable desire to open its arms to refugees, look at Sweden. The best intentions to help the helpless turned Sweden into a nightmare where few are helped and many, including both refugees and native residents, regret this misguided attempt at giving refuge.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/how-sweden-became-an-example-of-how-not-to-handle-immigration/

To briefly summarize, the writer explains the generosity of the Swedish people in accepting disproportionately large numbers of refugees. It details the types of people who came, and what was done to try to help them. And it frankly covers the consequences to the native population and to the refugees, including the youngest people. Gang cultures, attacks on woman, a murder and rape epidemic, and forced child prostitution are just a few of the consequences.

Sweden is known for being one of the most generous, compassionate, and liberated countries in the world. If their hospitality can backfire on them so profoundly, are we so arrogant as to think that our compassion cannot blind us to the potential for a failure just as great?

We have to rightly divide the Word of Truth. We cannot react with well-intentioned compassion that is not guided by a true interpretation of Scripture. Of all the times when we need God’s guidance, one of the most critical is to discern what we can do to show Christ’s love to this world. Humanitarian aid and hospitality to foreigners in distress is wonderful.

But we have a mandate to communicate truth, and the truth is that we can only fight against man’s greatest needs with the greatest weapon, God’s truth in His Word. The weapons of our warfare are not material, but effective to the destruction of spiritual powers.

Thank you President Trump for standing for the Word of God, the rule of law and constitutional rights.

Here is a link to Pastor Costanzo’s blog post: https://ericcostanzo.me/2017/02/09/why-i-signed-the-letter-to-president-trump-on-behalf-of-refugees/

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If Jesus Says You’re Okay, You’re Okay With Me

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Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was about the conversion of Saul, or the Apostle Paul. God had to convince Ananias to go and lay hands on him to restore his sight. Saul had a reputation for murder and mayhem among believers in Christ. But God said go and Ananias went.

Some people might interpret this as meaning we should forgive our enemies. I think it means that only God can forgive sin. Paul later said himself, “Christ died to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” This was not some attempt at being able to move on with your life and letting go of bitterness and desire for justice or revenge. This was a conversion. Paul completely changed who and what he was because he accepted Christ’s atonement. And God forgave him, as only God can forgive. We can’t make anyone repent. Only God can. So only God can truly forgive.

I had never been struck by the truth that Paul’s conversion happened right there on the Damascus road when confronted by the blinding truth that Jesus is Lord. I sort of thought maybe Ananias preached the Gospel to him when he came. But, no, repentance, faith, and forgiveness had already taken place when Ananias was sent. Jesus already vouched for him, already said Paul was “okay,” chief of sinners though he was. Forgiven. Cleansed. And unlike Moses, Ananias didn’t take five tries to convince. He went after one.

The lesson here for us is that the worst person we can imagine can be converted. Truly saved by grace, through repentance, and forgiven. You fill in the names, which probably isn’t hard with the state of things in our country and our political wranglings at present. Which one of the past “bad presidents” or present candidates, is beyond saving? None. And at that point maybe we will be the Ananias called upon to go to that person.

Will we be a Jonah and run the other way, or be angry that the person actually repented? Will we be a Moses, and make excuses until God is exasperated? Or will we be an Ananias, and at that point, say, if he or she is okay with Jesus, he’s okay with me? Because that chiefest of sinners in our minds could go on to do amazing things for God, like Paul did, and we would have a part in that ministry. — posy by Mary C. Findley

Image credit:
Nikolas Kornilievich Bodarevsky (1850–1921)
English: Trial of the Apostle Paul Transcarpathian Regional Art Museum Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

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