Daily Archives: December 26, 2018

Midweek Apologetics Hit & Misc: ‘Twas the Day After Christmas

Source: Midweek Apologetics Hit & Misc: ‘Twas the Day After Christmas

Witches Outnumber Presbyterians? — Juicy Ecumenism

Media reports over the last several months have trumpeted that witches in the U.S. now outnumber Presbyterians.

It’s great religious clickbait but the assertion, to the extent it’s based on anything, rests on a false comparison.

In 2014 Pew Research Center estimated that 0.4 percent of Americans, about 1 to 1.5 million people, identify as Wiccan or Pagan. This statistic, cited in all the media reports, is evidently the most recently available data, although it is four years old. But faddish stories can sometimes be ginned up based on old numbers.

Media reports have compared this number of supposed Wiccans/Pagans with 1.4 million Presbyterians, hence the provocative headlines. Witches and other adherents of natural religion outnumber a major Christian tradition in America.

Pew’s Wiccan estimate includes all persons who identify with Wiccan type beliefs. The Presbyterian number is based on the enrolled membership of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which is the largest Presbyterian denomination in America.

This comparison does not involve equals. A more accurate assessment would compare enrolled members of covens with the enrolled members of all Presbyterian denominations.

Of course, there is no registry of covens or other pagan groups. Wiccans don’t tend to have institutions with formal membership. They are mostly individualistic and, although claiming ties to ancient pagan beliefs, are very American and modern in their pursuit of their own mostly self-crated nature-based spirituality. “Wicca” as a term dates to the mid to late 20th century.

A more accurate comparison would liken total self-identified Wiccans with total self-identified Presbyterians, not just enrolled church members. According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, two percent of Americans self-identify as Presbyterian, which would equal about 6.6 million Americans, or 5 times as many Wiccans.

The total number of enrolled members in Presbyterians denominations would include not just the 1.4 million of the Presbyterian Church (USA). There are also the Presbyterian Church in America with 375,000, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with 145,000, the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians with 121,000, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church with 71,000, the Korean Presbyterian Church in America with 55,000, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church with 31,000. With other smaller denominations there are maybe 2.1 or 2.2 total Presbyterian church members in America.

Far more people typically identify with a church tradition, based on their past, family ties or occasional involvement, than are actively formal members. But sometimes splashy headlines are based on false comparisons between self-identification of a non-Christian movement with formal members of a Christian denomination.

As denominationalism continues to recede, and more even active Christians identify less with traditional denominations, these comparisons will become likely even more common.

This particular story apparently began with an October 4 Quartz article headlined: “The US Witch Population Has Seen an Astronomical Rise,: mostly based on the Pew study and an even older study from Trinity College in Connecticut in 2008.

Quartz did not reference Presbyterianism. But my friend Carmen Fowler LaBerge

“>tweeted

the article with this comment:

As mainline Protestantism continues its devolution, the U.S. witch population is rising astronomically. There may now be more Americans who identify as practicing witches, 1.5 mil, than there are members of mainline Presbyterianism (PCUSA) 1.4 mil.

An October 10 Christian Post article cited Carmen’s quote, which sparked the subsequent witch/Presbyterian comparison in other media that omitted specific reference to PCUSA membership, instead making blanket witch/Presbyterian comparisons.

On December 17, The Daily Caller ran the headline: “Witches Now Outnumber Presbyterians In The US,” declaring: “Self-identified practitioners of witchcraft in the U.S. outnumber Presbyterian Christians, thanks in part to Millennials’ embrace of New Age spirituality.” But the story in the second paragraph did specify the comparison was between Wiccan self-identification versus membership in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

A November 18 Newsweek article, headlined “Number Of Witches Rises Dramatically Across U.S. As Millennials Reject Christianity, claimed: “With 1.5 million potential practicing witches across the U.S., witchcraft has more followers than the 1.4 million mainline members of the Presbyterian church.”

On December 17, The Daily Caller (https://dailycaller.com/2018/12/17/witches-presbyterians-new-age/) ran the headline: “Witches Now Outnumber Presbyterians In The US,” declaring: “Self-identified practitioners of witchcraft in the U.S. outnumber Presbyterian Christians, thanks in part to Millennials’ embrace of New Age spirituality.” Later in the story it did reference the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Not making this distinction, Breitbart on December 22, just in time for Christmas, amplified the claim with headline: “Witchcraft Booming in America, ‘More Witches than Presbyterians.’” It read: The number of self-declared witches in the United States now exceeds the total number of Presbyterians, the Telegraph declared Friday.”

Breitbart was referencing British tabloid The Telegraph , which on December 21, under the headline, “Witchcraft moves to the mainstream in America as Christianity declines – and has Trump in its sights,” declared (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/21/witchcraft-moves-mainstream-america-christianity-declines/):

That growth trend was confirmed by the Pew Research Center in 2014, whose surveys reported that more Americans identify as Wiccan, a form of modern paganism created in England, or pagan than as Presbyterian. At the time of the surveys, there were 1.4 million American Presbyterians and about 1.5 million Wiccans.

In fact, the Pew study did not compare Wiccans with Presbyterians.

But the witches/Presbyterian story took off. Even George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a television commentator on judicial issues not typically focused on religion, blogged with the headline: “Report: Witches Now Outnumber Presbyterians in the United States.”

Turley’s news hook was President Trump’s complaints about the “witch hunt” in Washington. Other stories about the supposed surge in witchcraft noted witches had placed hexes on Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Spuriously claiming witches now outnumber Presbyterians was too delicious to avoid, along with hyperbolic assertions about Christianity’s implosion and paganism’s surge.

The headlines were cute, but the truth is more complicated. Whatever America’s challenges and problems, witches and Wiccans are likely not chief among them. Christians in America likely cause more trouble than witches.

via Witches Outnumber Presbyterians? — Juicy Ecumenism

DECEMBER 26 A NEW ORDER

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

—Isaiah 65:17

Amid all the world religions, only Christianity is able to proclaim the Bible’s good news that God, the Creator and Redeemer, will bring a new order into being! Indeed, that is the only good news available to a fallen race today. God has promised a new order that will be of eternal duration and infused with eternal life.

How amazing!

It is a promise from God of a new order to be based upon the qualities the exact opposite of mankind’s universal blight—temporality and mortality. God promises the qualities of perfection and eternity—qualities that cannot now be found anywhere on this earth.

What a prospect! …

God’s revelation says that Jesus Christ is the eternal Victor, triumphant over sin and death. That is why He is the Head of the new creation which has upon it the banner of eternity rather than of temporality and the mark of life forevermore rather than the mark of death. TRA139-140, 142

What a prospect, indeed! Thank You, Father, for the eternal victory of Jesus Christ. I worship You now and long for that day of completion. Amen. [1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

The Worst Christian of 2018 — Pulpit & Pen

Who is the worst Christian of 2018?

On the surface, this seems like a foolish or even pharisaical question. The fact of the matter is that there are none worthy to stand righteous before God except his perfect son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer struggles with sin every day and will continue to do so until the Lord returns and raises us anew in glory. None of us are really better than another. Yet, we can still fairly ask and answer, “Who is the worst Christian of 2018?” if we consider the question in terms of an individual’s influence on the visible church at large. Who out there, among the professing, has had the most deleterious effect on the health of the body of Christ in the year 2018? Using a number of criteria and identifying candidates from a pool of nominees (obvious charlatans and the theologically heterodox) were not included in consideration. I have come up with a one professing Christian who can fairly be considered “the worst Christian of 2018”.

Nominees were as follows:

Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
John Crist, Christian Comedian
Greg Locke, Pastor and Internet Pundit
Beth Moore, popular Christian speaker and author
Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources
Andy Stanley, Megachurch Pastor and leadership guru.

After careful consideration of the use of power, influence, responsibility, and the expression of theology, I hereby bestow the title of “Worst Christian of 2018” to Thom Rainer:

Mr. Rainer, you famously authored the best-selling book I am a Church Member. An author, leadership coach, and the long-time CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, you are held up by many as some kind of expert on church membership and church operations. Well, Mr, Rainer, I am a church member. As a church member, I can say with complete confidence that your influence on the local church is among the most harmful in all the visible church and Christian industrial complex. Upon announcing your retirement from LifeWay, you stated:

I love the local church, with all of its imperfections and idiosyncratic ways. I want to give every minute God allows me to make a difference to see churches revitalized.

You love the local church? Either you are a liar or you are remarkably obtuse and theologically stupid. Given that you have a PhD from Southern Seminary and served as a dean there for twelve years, I not included to believe that you are obtuse or stupid. I am inclined to believe that you are greedy and love money more than you love Jesus and His local churches. When I think of you, your words, and what you sell for a profit at LifeWay, I am reminded of the words of my Lord Jesus:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matthew 6:24

The worst thing about you, Mr. Rainer is that you do not produce heresy and false teaching, you distribute it for a profit. You do not author new-age montanist heresy unfit to drive the plot of a cheesy network sitcom, Sarah Young does. You sell Jesus Calling and the entire franchise of products which go with it. If not for your allowing the sale of such dung, I wouldn’t have had to snatch it from the hand of a fellow student at the New Orleans Baptist on-campus bookstore and warn her of its demonic content. You do not gyrate on stage, preach prosperity sermons to roaring crowds, and teach detestable Oneness Pentecostal doctrines, TD Jakes does. You sell TD Jakes’ books to people who come to a Christian store looking for godly reading material You do not write emotionally charged word-garbage disguised as Bible studies, Beth Moore does. You sell Beth Moore’s products to thousands of women who need spiritual direction. You do not write how-to-guides for creating dimly lit rock-n-roll goat shows, Andy Stanley does. You sell Andy Stanley’s leadership books to young men who desire success in the pastorate. You do not teach the heresy of universalism, William Paul Young does. You made his book, The Shack, the “Book of the Month” at LifeWay. You did not make up fanciful tales of Heaven Tourism, Colton Burpo, Don Piper, and Alex Malarkey did. Alex Malarkey admitted his book was fake. You sold it anyway. Perhaps the situation at LifeWay would be less tragic if you had no standards at all, but you do. There is actually a black list of authors you won’t sell. So it’s not as if you won’t sell anything for money, just almost anything.

Mr. Rainer, you are not unlike a drug dealer or distributor of pornography. You do not grow harmful substances out of the ground, you make it your job making it easier for people to buy them. You do not perform depraved sex acts on a set to titillate the lustful, you distribute the dirty movies to them. Not only do you act in this way, but you actually sell coaching services so that other men, specifically pastors, can learn to lead like you. Your “platinum mentoring package” comes at a price of $249.97 per month. Why someone, especially a pastor, would want to pay any amount of money for email access, training, and a video call with you is beyond me. That pastors want to learn to be CEOs like you makes me feel equal parts angry and nauseated. That you have franchised your particular and disturbing brand of churchmanship contributed greatly to your receiving this title. Your collective influence from selling sub-par Christian literature and training up the next generation to do the same has made you the worst Christian of 2018.

I pray that in 2019 you’ll abandon your plans to start a “church revitalization” business and keep your harmful influence away from Christ’s churches, with the exception of finding one local church to serve in after a period of reflection upon of repentance from your career of serving mammon. While there may be many who would justify your life of profiteering in the name of the money you raised for evangelism, I am not one of them. The ends do not justify the means. You, Thom Rainer, are the personification of religious greed. You are a modern day Teetsel. Sadly, I think you are surrounded by sycophantic wannabe yes-men who praise, want to be the next you, or at the very least want to be promoted by you. I wish more people loved you enough to adjure you to change course.

Thom Rainer, you are the worst Christian of 2018.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

via The Worst Christian of 2018 — Pulpit & Pen

December 26 Life or Death

Whether by life or by death.

Philippians 1:20

 

The apostle Paul didn’t know the details of God’s plan for his life, but he was confident in it, whether it meant life or death. Later he said, “I am hard–pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (vv. 23–24). Paul preferred the joy of being in Christ’s presence in heaven, but apparently he thought the Lord would let him live because he knew the Philippians needed him.

Paul rejoiced because he knew that by either his life or death Christ would be exalted. If he lived, he would be free to preach and build the church. If he died, he would be executed for Christ’s sake, and his unwavering faith would serve as a trophy of Christ’s grace. For Paul the issue was not his troubles, detractors, or even the possibility of his death, but whether the gospel was advancing and the Lord was being magnified.

Like Paul, you don’t know the specifics of God’s plan for your life. But one thing you can be sure of: in life or death you can glorify Christ.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 387). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Insider Stock Purchases Surge To 8 Year High

In the latest indication that the market is due for a rebound, buying by corporate insiders – who are best known in recent years for aggressively dumping their shares to corporate buyback programs – surged in the past two months, and according to data from the Washington Service, has outpaced insider selling by the most in eight years, or since the US downgrade in August 2011 which prompted a market-wide rout.

The last time insider buying soared as much as it has in recent months, in August 2011, the S&P 500 was in the middle of a comparable 19% retreat before staging a 10% rally in each of the next two quarters. A similar spike in insider buying took place in August 2015 during the ETFlash crash following the China currency devaluation when stocks also tumbled only to see a sharp rebound.

As Bloomberg notes, the increase in demand from companies’ highest-ranking employees will likely be seen as a vote of confidence in stocks which on Monday briefly entered a bear market, even as anxiety rises over Federal Reserve rate hikes and political turmoil in Washington.

“Insiders are pretty well informed at the micro level of their businesses,” Todd Fungard, who oversee $1.2 billion as chief investment officer of McQueen, Ball & Associates Inc., said by phone. “It’s a good sign that business leaders still see demand at their companies and feel comfortable buying their own stock despite the headline risk.”

One possibility is that insiders are telegraphing that another barrage of corporate buybacks may be imminent, as insiders generally tend to buy when they are confident that their stock will rise, and what better way to levitate stock prices than by having these same insiders announce even more buybacks. On the other hand, with IG credit spreads blowing out to 2+ year wides

… using debt to fund such buybacks will be an increasingly precarious choice unless insiders also know something about the slowing economy (see today’s catastrophic Richmond Fed print), and are expecting, or hoping, for interest rates to decline making bond issuance more palatable again.

Source: Insider Stock Purchases Surge To 8 Year High

Troops Out of Syria and Afghanistan? That’s a Good Start!

Article Image

The president told us the troops were in Syria to fight ISIS and with ISIS nearly gone the Syrians and their allies could finish the job.

All of a sudden the Trump haters who for two years had been telling us that the president was dangerous because he might get us in a war, were telling us that the president is dangerous because he was getting us out of a war! These are the same people who have been complaining about the president’s historic efforts to help move toward peace with North Korea.

There was more than a little hypocrisy among the “never Trump” resistance over the president’s announcement. Many of the talking heads and politicians who attacked George W. Bush’s wars, then were silent for President Obama’s wars, are now attacking President Trump for actually taking steps to end some wars. It just goes to show that for many who make their living from politics and the military-industrial complex, there are seldom any real principles involved.

Among the neoconservatives, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s reaction was pretty typical. Though it seems Sen. Graham is never bothered when presidents violate the Constitution to take the US into another war without authorization, he cannot tolerate it when a president follows the Constitution and removes US troops from wars they have no business being involved in. Sen. Graham is now threatening to hold Congressional hearings in attempt to reverse the President’s decision to remove troops from Syria.

Neoconservatives are among the strongest proponents of the idea that as a “unitary executive,” the president should not be encumbered by things like the Constitution when it comes to war-making. Now all of a sudden when a president uses his actual Constitutional authority to remove troops from a war zone the neocons demand Congressional meddling to weaken the president. They get it wrong on both fronts! The president does have Constitutional authority to move US troops and to remove US troops; Congress has the power and the obligation to declare war and the power of the purse to end wars.

Most of the Washington establishment – especially the “resistance” liberals and the neocons – are complaining that by removing US troops from these two war zones President Trump has gone too far. I would disagree with them. I call President Trump’s announcement a good start. Americans are tired of being the world’s policemen. The United States does not “lose influence” by declining to get involved in disputes oceans away. We lose influence by spending more on the military than most of the rest of the world combined and meddling where we are not wanted. We will lose a whole lot more influence when their crazy spending makes us bankrupt. Is that what they want?

Trump’s Wall and Democratic Ideology — American Thinker

The Democrats’ policy of open borders or no borders is designed to open our country’s gates to a tsunami of immigrants with morals and values diametrically opposed to those of Americans.

It would require a fierce liberal skeptic to deny that open borders bring crime, disease, drugs and votes to the Democratic Party. Reprehensible as it might be, the open borders and the subsequent upsurge of refugees serve the Democratic Party’s political objectives of perpetuation of the Democratic Party rule.

The Democratic scheme is to change the country’s demographic with an emphasis on open borders and relaxation of the immigration laws, thus ensuring a continuous inflow of Latinos and Muslims to the U.S. The central premise of this strategy is to entice the immigrants with welfare benefits, free health care, free education of children, and eventual citizenship in order to vote Democratic and ultimately to bring this country in conformity with the socialist principles.

Therefore, a border wall with Mexico would create a serious hurdle to the implementation of this strategy.

Mick Mulvaney recently said “We don’t understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it… They voted for it in 2006, then-Senator Obama voted for it. Senator Schumer voted for, Senator Clinton voted for it. So, I don’t understand why Democrats apply in politics just because Donald Trump is in office.”

Mulvaney seems to emphasizing the obvious over the important. The important is that this Democratic rebellion against building the wall has little to do with the mixture of disdain and fear of Donald Trump. This is a fight of two bitterly opposed and ideologically hostile, irreconcilable camps for the future of this country. In a broader ideological sense, the current brinkmanship is another chapter in the epic struggle between socialism and freedom. There can be no stalemate and no compromise is possible; this struggle can only end up in total victory or total defeat.

For decades the Democrats successfully deceived the country and Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush by professing their support for the border security and building the wall while at the same time refining procrastination into a high art without assuming responsibility for the consequences. The political landscape had been steadily shifting in their direction until the election of Donald Trump. Trump’s statements about border security touched on the conservative argument no borders — no sovereignty. It mobilized the Republican Party and brought the issue to the top of his agenda.

When it became apparent to the Democrats that they had failed to deceive Donald Trump, they dropped the charade when Chuck Schumer exposed the party’s duplicity and openly declared, “Trump will not get his Wall.”

As we know from history, the building of socialism is an organized and disruptive artificial process associated with ideological polarization, cultural and political confrontations, and violation of the existing moral order.

Being aware of voters’ discontent with socialist policies, the Democrats proceeded to dismantle the established constitutional order by offering suffrage to foreigners.  Backing up this malicious concept, the state of California began to automatically register illegal aliens to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license.  It is only a matter of time before other states under Democratic leadership adopt this election model. This massive legalized election fraud requires a constant influx of foreigners.

Since not all of Mexico, Central, and South America have crossed our open borders into Texas, Arizona, and California, and those states are not yet annexed to the possession of Mexico or Honduras, any notion of closing the borders or restricting emigrants’ flow into this country will be met with fierce opposition by the Democrats.

If the speeches of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other leading Democrats are any indication, it is becoming exceedingly obvious that despite dreadful consequences, the Democrats exhibit a greater hatred for capitalism than for terrorism, drugs, and crimes which makes them inherently incapable or rather unwilling of safeguarding this country.

Indeed, the road to socialism is soaked with blood of millions who could not appreciate the fairness of economic equality; hence, a few hundred or even a few thousand deaths from the hands of “poor immigrants” should be a relatively small price to pay for the “bright future.”

The Democrats’ policy of open borders or no borders is designed to open our country’s gates to a tsunami of immigrants with morals and values diametrically opposed to those of Americans, promoting resentment instead of assimilation, polarization instead of unification, and ultimately making the United States of America not united, not states, and not even American.

Alexander G. Markovsky is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a conservative think hosted at King’s College, New York City, which examines national security, energy, risk-analysis and other public policy issues, He is the author of Anatomy of a Bolshevik and Liberal Bolshevism: America Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It. He is the owner and CEO of Litwin Management Services, LLC.

via Trump’s Wall and Democratic Ideology — American Thinker

China’s Social Credit System – A Warning of What Is Possible — Juicy Ecumenism

Social Credit System

The total control of all of life was the great fear of advanced societies in the twentieth century. World War II and the Cold War were fought to prevent movements bent on this objective. Since the end of the Cold War, it has remained in mainstream consciousness, punctuated by such events as the defection of National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to Russia, his revelations of the NSA’s global surveillance of domestic targets, recent censorship of conservative sources by Twitter and Facebook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s admission in Congressional testimony of Silicon Valley’s left wing bias.

But the ability of the United States government, other western governments, a leftist mass media, or the postulated “deep state” of leftist officials in Washington to actually put a totalitarian system in place is limited by still effective legal guarantees of free speech and privacy, and the vigilance of a public focused on the dangers of centrally controlled society, facilitated by rapid technological development.

Not so in China, where the Chinese communist government has no limit on its power. Powering the drive to achieve complete control of life possible to a government with unlimited authority is the traditional Chinese belief that state power and authoritarian social relations are necessary to avoid chaos, as discussed by this writer in the spring. Added to this is China’s rapid economic and technological development resulting from the post-Maoist reforms of the late twentieth century.

What has attracted much deserved attention in recent weeks is China’s developing Social Credit System, which the government hopes to be fully functional by 2020. It is a seeming outgrowth of anticorruption drives, which have been an important part of the state’s effort at an ordered society. Begun with blacklists of debtors by the Supreme People’s Court, and proposed as a joint public-private endeavor, it will use electronic surveillance and data analysis to collect information and assess the overall economic and social reputation of every person in China. This comprehensive assessment is then used to control the access a person has to most of what anyone receives from society: jobs, promotions, financial credit, access to better schools, permission to travel, ability to book lodging, ability to disseminate information and opinion electronically, and seemingly any other kind of public service.

ScienceAlert reports that China currently has 200 million closed-circuit TV cameras (with three times as many hoped for in the next 18 months) to monitor its populace, and that “the idea is these ever-watchful eyes will be hooked up to facial recognition systems, and cross-checked with financial, medical records, and legal records – with the whole apparatus regulated and interpreted by advanced, big-data-crunching AI networks.”

In a widely disseminated video presentation from the Australian Broadcasting Company, the electronic monitoring of a young woman in China is shown, with all her daily activities on the street and in the market captured for analysis. But the Australian network and LifeSiteNews also note that anything recorded electronically, such as Internet browsing (such as what was viewed and the duration of video gaming), telephone conversations (perhaps cued by key words), and purchases on the Internet or at market will be part of each person’s “social credit. As the network reports “those … with top ‘citizen scores’ get VIP treatment at hotels and airports, cheap loans and a fast track to the best universities and jobs … Those at the bottom can be locked out of society and banned from travel, or barred from getting credit or government jobs.” It is “probably the largest social engineering project ever attempted, a way to control and coerce more than a billion people … The system will be ‘live’ … [to people and] will update in real time.”

But it is not only one’s self who is affected by one’s behavior in day to day life, but family and friends as well. As the network notes, “social credit will be affected by more than just internet browsing and shopping decisions. Who your friends and family are will affect your score. If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you’ll lose points too.”

Such a detailed analysis of a person’s life gives those with who set standards enormous power to craft a society according to their own values. An important researcher into the social credit project is Roger Creemers of Leiden University in the Netherlands, who focuses on Chinese law. Creemers maintains that the goal of the social credit system “is ‘cybernetic’ behavioral control, allowing individuals to be monitored and immediately confronted with the consequences of their actions.”

Creemers is careful to point out there is not now a single social credit system. It is still being developed and implemented and consists of many different monitoring systems in various parts of the country which record behavior. He says that “blacklists—and ‘redlists’—form the backbone of the Social Credit System, not a much-debated ‘social credit score.’ Blacklists punish negative behavior while redlists reward positive. According to the planning outline released by the State Council — China’s cabinet — in mid-2014, the system’s objective is to encourage individuals to be trustworthy under the law and dissuade against breaking trust, in order to promote a ‘sincerity culture.’”

Much of the social credit idea might seem appealing to social conservatives, because its principle focus appears to be character as exemplified by behavior. The desirability of a high degree of social control and personal responsibility were the touchstone of Confucian ethics, and are key to the idea of social credit. The article from LifeSiteNews cited above identifies this as the value of “xinyong, a ‘core tenet of Confucian ethics.’ Originally meaning ‘honesty’ and ‘trustworthiness,’ xinyong now denotes ‘financial creditworthiness’ as well.” But the impulse to evaluate people seems to have expanded since the time the “social credit” idea was first advanced in 2007 to include such things as “personal habits, opinions and friendships.” The article goes on the quote Asian expert Steve Mosher that “a lot of people in China don’t use money anymore … they use their phones. The Chinese government monitors all phones, everything electronic.” Because the Chinese have now grown fond of online activity, Lifesite says that people are “’self-reporting’ on where they go, what they buy, and–on social media–who they know and what they think.” In particular, according to Mosher “your social [credit] score goes up if you say good things about the regime … Your social score goes down if you say bad things about the regime.”

While the Chinese system seems focused on personal character, with family and social connections and political loyalty seemingly (although ominously) added on, North Korea has had, for several decades, a somewhat similar system focusing largely on political loyalty. The “Songbun” system categorizes the North Korean population into three classes: “core,” “wavering,” and “hostile.” This system originated in the 1950s and 1960s, according to Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, by identifying “landowners, businessmen, intellectuals, and Koreans who worked for the [Japanese] colonial administrators … those who had opposed [North Korean dictator] Kim[-il Sung’s] ascent to power or collaborated with South Korea” during the Korean War, and also “North Koreans who had enjoyed high status under Japanese rule, from landowners and intellectuals to religious leaders and aristocrats.” These people became the “hostile” underclass, forced to assume the position of the “peasants, laborers, and workers” who now joined the “core” upper class, together with “people closest to Kim, their relatives, and anti-Japanese resistance fighters.”

As with China’s nascent system, North Korea’s system taints relatives of people with bad classifications with lower status. Indeed, any single act interpreted by a government functionary as hostile to the state can taint one’s children and grandchildren. In a Brookings Institution report of the early 2000s, Asian expert Kongdan Oh report that “an individual’s political loyalty is likely to be re-examined anytime he or she comes to the attention of the authorities, for example when being considered for a job, housing, or travel permit. One’s political classification is not a matter of public knowledge, nor is it known to the individual, but it is recorded in the personal record that follows every North Korean throughout life, and of course becomes part of the record of that person’s children and relatives as well.”

Thus the focus of the Chinese and North Korean system are somewhat different, with China’s still developing system based on many generally desirable character traits such as honesty and financial responsibility, with political loyalty added on, while North Korea’s is based on largely or entirely on perceived loyalty to the state. But both seek to reward and penalize with goods and services that one needs or desires, and both taint relatives and associates of a person with low rating with (at least some) of that person’s low rating.

Western societies are far removed from the personal, status-based, ideological allocation of resources practiced or planned in China and North Korea. The availability of resources is instead based on highly impersonal money, which can be used by anyone who has money to spend. But the logic of leftist ideology in our society is indeed to reward and penalize people according to their political, ideological and moral commitments. We need only think of Christian educational institutions threatened with loss of state aid, tax exemption, or accreditation (and thus ability to continue to function) due to the sexual standards they maintain over a strictly voluntary clientele, or the economic warfare threatened or practiced against Indiana in 2015 after the passage of a religious freedom law allowing businesses to conduct their activities in line with their religious commitments, which ultimately pressured that state’s Republican governor and legislature to gut the law to prohibit conscientious objection from homosexual behavior. Indeed the very idea of socialism or communism is to minimize or eliminate money or property in favor of ideology.

Any realistic attempt to put in place something like the ultimately ideological systems of social control found in China or North Korea in the West must be put in place piecemeal. This is indeed being done, above all with the increasing number of antidiscrimination categories restricting the personal decisions that people can make in public, human rights commissions staffed by leftists responsive to the complaints of feminist, LGBT, or Islamist activists, and the regulations and policies of private organizations such as corporations, colleges and universities, professional associations, and broadcasting and social media organizations staffed by leftist leadership trained by the nation’s overwhelmingly leftist academy.

There is no magic formula to resist totalitarianism. But crucial to resisting it is courage, and what the Social Credit System professes to advance, character, whenever the state endeavors to require people to violate their consciences or restrict their activities based on its own ideology. Victories (and defeats) may seem small, but together, they are quite important. They add up to a free system, or a totalitarian system.

via China’s Social Credit System – A Warning of What Is Possible — Juicy Ecumenism

PC gone wild: Traditions that will never be the same after 2018

As we bid farewell to another year, it looks like we’ll also be saying goodbye to some iconic pieces of cultural history along with it. Songs, fairy tales, hand gestures; for the PC-police, nothing has been off limits in 2018.

Here’s a look at some of the things we’ll miss as we trudge wearily on toward a heavily-sanitized world where nobody ever feels offended again. 

Source: PC gone wild: Traditions that will never be the same after 2018

December 26, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump said the partial shutdown of the federal government was going to last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is met.

President Donald Trump’s budget director and chief of staff on Sunday said the partial U.S. government shutdown could continue to Jan. 3, when the new Congress convenes and Democrats take over the House of Representatives.

President Trump on Tuesday expressed confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin amid worries over a weakening economy and a stock market slump, but repeated his criticism of the U.S. Federal Reserve, saying it has raised interest rates too quickly.

U.S. National Parks will be left with just a skeleton staff during the federal government shutdown, and several states are using their own funds to make sure public restrooms get cleaned and visitor centers stay open.

A Russian blogger critical of the authorities was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday, his lawyer said, in an extortion case critics say is politically-motivated.

A Belgian judge has ordered the government to repatriate six children of Islamic State (IS) militants and their mothers who have been detained in a camp in Kurdish-controlled Syria, the national news agency Belga said on Wednesday.

The Russian government on Wednesday approved a draft bill allowing the country to produce crops used in medicinal narcotics, saying this would reduce its dependence on foreign states that have imposed sanctions against it.

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would deploy its first regiment of hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles next year, saying the move meant his country now had a new type of strategic weapon.

Sales during the U.S. holiday shopping season rose 5.1 percent to over $850 billion in 2018, the strongest in the past six years.

Oil rose to around $51 a barrel on Wednesday on perceptions that a price slide to 2017 lows prompted by economic worries had been overdone amid an OPEC-led effort to tighten supply.

The Kremlin does not rule out the participation of President Vladimir Putin in the World Economic Forum in Davos next month.

AP Top Stories

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8 hit an area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily early on Wednesday, damaging buildings and injuring about 30 people, officials said.

Indonesian search and rescue teams Wednesday plucked stranded residents from remote islands and pushed into isolated communities desperate for aid in the aftermath of a volcano-triggered tsunami that killed over 400.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ordered medical checks on every child in its custody after an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died, marking the second death of an immigrant child in the agency’s care this month.

Pope Francis used his traditional Christmas Day address urging people to overcome their religious and cultural differences to end conflict in Syria, Yemen and the Middle East.

Gunmen who raided a government building in the Afghan capital killed at least 28 people – mostly government employees – and wounded more than 20 others in a seven-hour standoff with police that ended on Monday night, Afghan authorities said.

A U.S. court ordered Pyongyang to pay $501 million in damages for the torture and death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who died in 2017 after being released from a North Korea prison.

A fake priest was able to hear confessions and perform wedding ceremonies for almost two decades before being unmasked, a Roman Catholic diocese in Spain revealed on Monday.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the country would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, but only hunt whales in its own territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, drawing criticism from Australia and New Zealand, where anti-whaling sentiment is strong.

The two Koreas on Wednesday held a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for reconnecting and repairing roads and railways across the divided peninsula, with the North calling on the South to push through joint projects despite sanctions on Pyongyang.

BBC

Martial law declared in parts of Ukraine has ended after 30 days, amid continuing tensions with Russia in the Kerch Strait.

An Argentine woman seized in the 1980s by people traffickers has been reunited with her family in a joint operation by Argentine and Bolivian police.

Thailand’s parliament has voted to approve cannabis for medical use, with a key lawmaker calling it a “New Year’s gift” to the Thai people. Recreational use will remain illegal.

Campaigners have thanked Apple for removing an app from its store that they said stigmatized LGBT people. The software promoted a US religious group that says homosexual practice is sinful and that its members should help “call up” others to their natural-born “biblical gender”.

Two fishermen have been rescued by a cruise ship after being stranded for 20 days at sea.

WND

The British star, Dominic West believes next 007 should be transgender.

Canada is expected to approve euthanasia for sick children, joining the Netherlands and Belgium as the only nations in the world affirmatively sanctioning such practices.

The Girls Scouts are warning parents not to encourage their young daughters to show appreciation – physically through hugs and the like – for visits or gifts from family during the Christmas season.


News – 12/26/2018

Ramming attack in West Bank, Palestinian driver shot
A Palestinian driver was shot after attempting a ramming attack near Har Bracha on Wednesday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. Three Israelis were treated for shock. The Palestinian who was driving from Nablus was light to moderately injured and transferred to a hospital. Authorities are investigating the incident.

Suspicious Iranian cargo plane left Damascus minutes before airstrike
Two suspicious Iranian planes left Damascus on Tuesday night just prior to reports of airstrikes. Details from flight monitoring sites show that a Fars Air Qeshm 747 cargo plane left Damascus International Airport at 9:28 in the evening, just half an hour before reports emerged of air strikes in Syria on Tuesday night.

Knesset passes law to prevent early release for terrorists
The Knesset passed a law to prevent the early release of convicted terrorists on Tuesdays night. “A reduced sentence is a privilege that terrorists are not worthy of receiving,” said MK Anat Berko, one of the Knesset members who proposed the legislation. The legislation will stop terrorists from being released after two-thirds of their sentences, a privilege given to other inmates who demonstrate remorse during their time served.

Taiwan: 152 Vietnam tourists ‘disappear’ during holiday
The Taiwanese authorities are searching for 152 Vietnamese people who arrived on tourist visas last week and have since gone missing. The tourists arrived in the southern city of Kaohsiung on 21 and 23 December, but all but one appear to have absconded, officials say. Local media reports suggest they may intend to work illegally in Taiwan.

Mount Etna: New 4.8-magnitude earthquake hits Sicily
A 4.8-magnitude earthquake has hit Sicily around Europe’s most active volcano Mount Etna, injuring at least two people, Italian media report. Some buildings were reportedly damaged in what was the latest in dozens of tremors since Etna erupted on Monday. Volcanic ash had earlier covered nearby villages, and flights to and from Catania airport had to be halted temporarily.

House Democrats Are Lining Up Behind What Could Be The Largest Expansion Of Government In Decades
Democrats are increasingly lining up to support a “Green New Deal,” which, while vague on details, could end up being the largest expansion of government in decades. As it stands, the “Green New Deal” is more aspirational than actual policy. Indeed, it takes its name from the New Deal of the 1930s, and its main backer, incoming Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, compared it to the Great Society of the 1960s.

Turkey masses tanks on the Syrian border as Erdogan ‘prepares to move against the Kurds’ after the US leaves
Turkey has begun massing tanks and troop carriers on its southern border with Syria as it prepares to move into the country once American soldiers have left.
Erdogan’s forces were pictured arriving in border cities of Kilis and al-Rai after the country’s foreign minister said they will push into Syria as soon as possible.

Netanyahu: Operation Northern Shield ‘almost’ over
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Operation Northern Shield to expose and neutralize terror tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border is nearly complete. While touring the Israeli-Lebanese border with ministers from his Security Cabinet, Netanyahu said that “the IDF presented the progress it made in neutralizing the tunnels.

If Your Church and the Deep State Are Best Friends, Then Celebrate Christmas at Home With Your Family
As this Christmas holiday comes and goes, many people are not be attending my former church. With a scant few exceptions the church has been invaded in the same manner that our Constitution has been obliterated. Why won’t  so may be attending their church? Because they want to save my soul for eternity and Satan is in charge of the church.

Keep the Government Closed Until Hell Freezes Over
…The abovementioned 6 facts represents the sampler plate on how the American people have bene sold out by its government in the area of immigration. As I write these words, four more caravans are headed this way with many more to follow. As I have previously documented, it is estimated that as many as 160 million migrants are expected to eventually attempt to cross the border.

US Retailers See Strongest Holiday Sales in Six Years
The US economy continues to see tremendous growth. Retailers see the strongest holiday sales in six years according to initial reports.

Israel Fires At Incoming Syrian Missile After IDF Takes Out Iranian Arms Depot In Damascus Tuesday Evening
FROM THE JPOST: According to unconfirmed Israeli reports, the launch was carried out from the northern city of Hadera, with pictures published on social media of a large tail of smoke heading into the sky and residents in the Hefer Valley Regional Council also reported hearing the sound of loud explosion.

New York Times Salutes the Christmas Spirit of Hezbollah
In a bizarre article published on Christmas Eve, the New York Times saluted the murderous Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah for its wonderful Christmas spirit, applauding the group for helping to “ring in the season” and implying the United States has unfairly designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.

Chinese Christians Defy Crackdown on Christmas: ‘We Will Not Forfeit Our Faith’
2018 brought one of China’s worst crackdowns on religion, from the astonishing persecution of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province to a series of raids against “underground” Christian churches.

10 unforgettable Christmas scenes from Israel
Christmas in the Holy Land is celebrated like nowhere else on earth. After all, this is where the events in the life of Jesus, as described in the Gospels, actually took place!

Pot Dispensaries Report Record-High Holiday Sales
California marijuana dispensaries reported record-high holiday sales this Christmas as pot products became popular stocking stuffers this holiday season.

INVESTIGATION: Three days before Dr. Bradstreet was found dead in a river, U.S. govt. agents raided his research facility to seize a breakthrough cancer treatment called GcMAF
Over the last few days, we’ve learned that before being found shot in the chest and floating in the river, pioneering medical researcher Dr. Bradstreet was working with a little-known molecule that occurs naturally in the human body. Called, “GcMAF”, this molecule has the potential to be a universal cancer cure for many people. It has also been shown to reverse signs of autism in the vast majority of patients receiving the treatment.

Iraq Makes Christmas Day a National Holiday
The Iraqi government announced Monday that an amendment was approved to officially designate Christmas Day a national holiday.

The Nine Biggest Takedowns of Food Stamp Fraud in 2018
Trump administration officials have been making efforts throughout the year to keep people from relying on food stamps and other forms of welfare, but they have also made strides in taking down criminals committing food stamp fraud for financial gain.

Christians at risk of extinction in land where Christmas began
As Christians around the world celebrate the nativity of our savior, we gather in churches and hear the story of a Middle East where the holy family, as religious minorities in the Roman Empire, witnessed the birth of Christ, far from their hometown. We will recall that they then fled to Egypt as political refugees.

Ohio Bans Dismemberment Abortions
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed into law a measure that bans dismemberment abortions in the state.

CSUN Scientist Mark Armitage Discovered Soft Tissue In Triceratops Horn, And Got Fired For Exposing Truth About Young Dinosaur Bones
The evolutionists present to you a case that is so fragile it needs deception, trickery and outright fraud to perpetuate it. They love to trot out people like Bill Nye, not a scientist, to force feed you slop about dinosaurs being “millions of years” old. They want you to believe that, they need you to believe that. Why? So they can show you how the Bible is not true, and that creation didn’t really happen the way the Bible says it did.

Syria says air defenses fire at ‘enemy targets’ near Damascus
Syria said it deployed its air defenses against “enemy targets” near Damascus Tuesday night, in what was alleged to be an Israeli airstrike.

Jewish groups offer aid after hundreds killed in Indonesian tsunami
Jewish groups have been offering assistance in the wake of a tsunami in Indonesia that has left more than 400 dead and thousands homeless.


Headlines – 12/26/2018

Syrians say IAF jets return to Damascus, more strikes reported

Israel fires at missile from Syria; IDF jets said to pound Damascus arms depots

US official says top Hezbollah brass hit in alleged Israeli strikes in Syria

Syria Says Israel Struck in Damascus; ‘Unlikely Hezbollah Members Targeted’

Airstrike in Damascus an embarrassment for Syrian regime at crucial time

Huge cache of US and Israeli made weapons recovered from terrorists in Syria

Turkey warns France ‘no benefit’ in protecting Syrian Kurd militia

Turkey ‘determined’ to drive out Syrian Kurdish forces

Erdogan says he will meet with Putin over US withdrawal from Syria

Arab League said likely to readmit Syria in 2019 amid Assad diplomatic flurry

Touring north, Netanyahu says anti-tunnel operation ‘almost entirely behind us’

Army to test rocket siren throughout Tel Aviv metropolitan area

The case against Netanyahu: Is Israel about to reelect a corrupt prime minister?

Attorney general could announce Netanyahu charges months before vote

Attorney General Fears Decision on Netanyahu Cases Near Election Will Be Deemed Meddling

Polls: Likud Would Win Election Despite Majority of Israelis Not Wanting Netanyahu as PM

Amid election stir, Netanyahu may cut short historic Brazil visit

Israel green-lights plans for 1,300 settlement homes, hundreds more pending

Bennett vows to oppose a Palestinian state if Included in Trump’s Peace Plan

Ramming attack in West Bank, Palestinian driver shot

Pope’s Christmas wishes: Mideast peace, religious harmony

Pope Francis urges peace in conflict zones in Christmas address

ISIS claims attack on northern Iraqi city Tal Afar

ISIS claims deadly attack on Libyan foreign ministry

Saudi Arabia condemns terrorist attacks in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq

Amnesty International Says Police in Sudan Have Killed 37 Protesters

Protests erupt in Algeria after govt fails to rescue young man from well

EU Calls for Calm as Protests Over Alleged Murders Rattle Bosnia

Russian envoy: Bad relations with US unlikely to improve

Moscow says it’s open to having a Putin-Trump summit

Two Guatemalan children die in US immigration custody

A potential Trump impeachment is a ‘huge risk’ for 2019, expert says

Trump: Democratic oversight of my administration could amount to ‘presidential harassment’

Trump’s Christmas message to Democrats: Government shutdown will last ‘until we have a wall’

Government Shutdown Scuppers Holiday Plans, Threatens to Delay Paychecks

Trump’s Fed feud roils markets, alarms Republicans

U.S. stock futures choppy as market readies to reopen after Christmas Eve meltdown

Asian stocks retreat as U.S. political tumult adds to growth worry

World Economy Is Set to Feel the Delayed Trade War Pain in 2019

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Acitrezza, Italy

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Lakatoro, Vanuatu

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Raoul Island, New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Chichi-shima, Japan

Indonesia Tsunami Survivors Remain Jittery As Deaths Hit 429

Anxious tsunami victims told to avoid coast near erupting volcano

Krakatau volcano in Indonesia continues to erupt to 55,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 29,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Planchon Peteroa volcano in Chile erupts to 18,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Ebeko volcano in the Kuril Islands erupts to 14,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 11,000ft

Google and Amazon urged to follow Apple’s ‘anti-gay app ban’

Americans’ trust in honesty, ethics of clergy hits all-time low in Gallup ranking of professions

Canadian imam: Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is worse than murder

Atheist group pays for Grand Junction billboard reading ‘Make Christmas Great Again …Skip Church!’


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Franklin Graham smacks ‘vicious’ news media for attacking Trump

Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham, the chief of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as the Christian Samaritan’s Purse ministry, on Wednesday charged the “vicious” news media with their “sickening” attacks on President Trump.

“Well, it’s the day after Christmas,” he posted on Facebook, “and I’m tired. How about you?”

He continued, “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing family and friends and hearing from people I haven’t heard from in a long time. But I’m tired, and it’s not just the season.

“I’m tired of all the fighting in Washington. You can’t turn on the news or read the headlines online without being overwhelmed by all of the political squabbling (to put it mildly). The news media are so vicious and relentless in their fault finding and their attacks on the president. It’s just sickening,” he said.

“We have the potential for so much good and so much progress for our nation, but Washington is squandering it away over political agendas. I’m thankful that I have put my faith and trust in God who never grows weary and is never shut down, no matter what the problems are.”

Washington is embroiled right now in a shutdown of some government operations, after Democrats refused to negotiate over border security and components of the president’s plan, such as a wall or barrier.

President Trump declined to move forward on some of those budget bills that he has explained failed to adequately address border security, and access to the United States the situation provides to illegal aliens, illegal drugs and even terrorists.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on the Senate floor promised that his party never would work with the president on his plans for border security.

Online, it took only minutes from Graham’s posting for hundreds of his supporters to agree.

“I so agree with you Rev Graham!” said Viv Bennett cohan, and Doug Smith added, “Amen.”

Alfreta Neill Barrett said, “Prayers for America.”

Paula Gervais suggested it’s more than the media at work.

“Indeed – What will the conclusion be is the question? There are many diabolical people in DC.”

The mainstream media have been in a literal war of words with President Trump since before his election.

Reporters regularly berate and criticize him in their reports, a conflict that came to a head when CNN’s Jim Acosta belligerently challenged the president’s own statements about illegal aliens, and had his White House press pass suspended temporarily.

Acosta’s attack on the president prompted the White House to establish rules for behavior for reporters so that there is not another recurrence of Acosta’s actions.

Various assessments have documented that some 90 percent of mainstream media reports about President Trump are attacks or are negative.

Source: Franklin Graham smacks ‘vicious’ news media for attacking Trump

Santa Claus Rally Taking Place Here! — Kimble Charting Solutions

While it’s easy to find articles that suggest a Santa Claus rally isn’t taking place this year, the Power of the Patterns would disagree! This chart looks at the performance from several assets in the metals sector the past 30-days. Even though all of these metals assets are lower in 2018, each of these is…

via Santa Claus Rally Taking Place Here! — Kimble Charting Solutions

From Russia probe to sexual-abuse allegations, 9 political scandals that rocked 2018 — Christian Research Network

via From Russia probe to sexual-abuse allegations, 9 political scandals that rocked 2018 — Christian Research Network

December 26, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Character of a Healthy Church—part 1

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Urge bond-slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. (2:1–10)

In chapter 2, the subject changes from pastors to congregations, from leadership to laity. The entire chapter deals with the evangelistic impact of a spiritually healthy congregation and gives direct, practical instruction about how believers are to live for the purpose of showing sinners the power and joy of salvation.

But as for you indicates a transition by contrast between the false teachers in the churches, who, although they professed to know God, denied Him by their unholy living and were therefore “detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16). Those men had been tested and found to be useless, even dangerous. Titus therefore was commissioned by Paul to challenge their false teaching and false living and to speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine, in order to strengthen the testimony of the churches for the gospel of salvation.

Speak translates a present imperative of laleō, which refers to ordinary conversation. The present tense carries the idea of continuity and persistence, and the imperative makes the verb a command. Titus, and the elders he appointed (1:5), were commanded to speak about right living as well as right doctrine. They were not to deviate, capitulate, or be intimidated. They were to be as aggressive in their teaching of sound doctrine and its corresponding godly lifestyle as the false teachers in the Cretan churches were in their unsound doctrine and its consequent ungodly lifestyle. They were to give regular and careful pastoral instruction about practical Christian living and about the godly attitudes and actions that result from believing and obeying divine truth. They were to live lives that properly reflected their salvation from sin and were a worthy affirmation of the transforming power of their Savior.

About a year later, the apostle would admonish Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come,” he continued, “when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:2–4). The churches and their leaders on Crete faced the same dire prospect as would those at Ephesus.

It is important to note that the apostle is not here focusing on the teaching and preaching of sound doctrine itself, as he does in 1:9. He is rather focusing on practical instruction about the things which are fitting for, that is, based on and appropriate to, the sound doctrine that already has been taught. Prepō (fitting) carries the basic meaning of “being prominent or conspicuous” and came to be used of a distinguishing characteristic. Eventually it was used to describe that which is fitting, appropriate, proper, seemly. Truth requires certain behaviors that reflect and are appropriate to it. “Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you,” Paul admonished Ephesian believers, “as is proper [prepō] among saints” (Eph. 5:3).

Sound translates a participle form of the verb hugiainō, which has the basic meaning of “being well and healthy” and is the term from which we derive “hygiene.” Paul uses a form of this word nine times in the pastoral epistles, five of those times in Titus, and always in relation to personal righteousness and spiritual well-being. He repeatedly emphasizes that sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1) eventuates in sound faith and sound speaking (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; Titus 1:13; 2:2, 8). Healthy doctrine produces healthy spiritual living.

The Bible never divorces doctrine from duty, truth from behavior. After presenting eleven chapters of basic New Testament doctrine, Paul then said to believers at Rome, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1–2). He followed the same pattern in his letters to believers in Ephesus (see Eph. 4:1), Philippi (see Phil. 4:8–9), and Colossae (see 3:2–10). Quoting Leviticus 11:44, Peter said, “It is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:16). Those who claim the name of God have always been commanded to live godly lives.

What is true of individual believers is, of course, also true of the church as a body. A church that is grounded in spiritual truth and protected from spiritual falsehood is to be spiritually healthy and productive through the way in which its members live. The fruit of right doctrine is righteous living.

Pastors are to concentrate on the spiritual depth of their congregations and allow God to take care of the breadth. “I planted, [and] Apollos watered,” Paul said, “but God was causing the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6). “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food,” he reminded believers in Corinth, “will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10; cf. Col. 2:19).

In Titus 2:2–10, the Holy Spirit prescribes a series of binding requirements that are necessary for members of a healthy church to have an evangelistic impact. In 2:11–14, the reason for such holy living is magnificently declared to be bound up in God’s redemptive plan. The admonition of verse 1 is then repeated and reinforced in verse 15: “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15).

The injunctions in verses 2–10 are strong, straightforward, and specific. Because they are so contrary to proud and self-willed human nature, they often have been unpopular and controversial, even in the church. At no time have they been more unpopular and controversial than in many churches today, where personal opinion and cultural standards take precedence over God’s truth and self-fulfillment is more important than holy living.

The patterns of holy living that make for effective witness are here given as the distinguishing marks of the Christian groups addressed in these verses: older men (v. 2), older women (vv. 3–4a), young women (vv. 4b–5), young men (vv. 6–8), and bond-slaves/employees (vv. 9–10).[1]


1. But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine. He points out the remedy for driving away fables, namely, that Titus should devote himself to edification. He gives the appellation of sound doctrine to that which may instruct men to godliness; for all trifles vanish away, when that which is solid is taught. When he enjoins him to speak those things which agree with “sound doctrine,” it is as if he had said, that Titus must be continually employed in this preaching; for to mention these things once or twice would not be enough. And Paul does not speak of the discourse of a single day; but so long as Titus shall hold the office of pastor, he wishes him to be employed in teaching this doctrine.

“Sound doctrine” is so called from the effect produced by it; as, on the contrary, he says, that unskilful men dote about questions which do no good. Sound, therefore, means wholesome, that which actually feeds souls. Thus, by a single word, as by a solemn proclamation, he banishes from the Church all speculations which serve rather to promote ostentation than to aid godliness, as he did in both of the Epistles to Timothy.

He makes “sound doctrine” to consist of two parts. The first is that which magnifies the grace of God in Christ, from which we may learn where we ought to seek our salvation; and the second is that by which the life is trained to the fear of God, and inoffensive conduct. Although the former, which includes faith, is far more excellent, and therefore ought to be more zealously inculcated; yet Paul, in writing to Timothy, was not careful about attending to order; for he had to deal with an intelligent man, to whom he would offer an insult, if he dictated to him word by word, as is usually done to apprentices or beginners. Under the person of Titus, indeed, he instructs the whole church of Crete; yet he attends to the rules of propriety, that he may not appear to distrust his prudence. Besides, the reason why he is longer in his exhortations is, that they who gave their whole attention to idle questions—needed especially to be exhorted to the practice of a good and holy life; for nothing is better fitted to restrain the wandering curiosity of men than to know in what duties they ought to be employed.[2]


1 “You” in the original reads “but you” (sy de; cf. 1 Ti 6:11; 2 Ti 3:10, 14; 4:5), whereby “you” is emphatic and “but” establishes a contrast between the false teachers (mentioned in 1:10–16) and Titus, Paul’s apostolic delegate. “You must teach” is (lit.) “you must speak” (laleō, GK 3281). Used in Titus only here and in v. 15 (and elsewhere in the PE only in 1 Ti 5:13), this expression serves to frame the apostle’s instructions in the entire chapter (see the similar use of didaskō, GK 1438, in 1 Ti 6:2, “you are to teach”; cf. Eph 6:20; Col 4:4).

Laleō continues the contrast between Paul’s expectations for Titus and the conduct of the false teachers, who have been described as “mere talkers” who “must be silenced” because they are “teaching things they ought not to teach” (1:10–11). Titus is to teach “what is in accord with [prepei, GK 4560; cf. 1 Ti 2:10; 1 Co 11:13; Eph 5:3] sound doctrine,” i.e., what promotes spiritual health. Interestingly, “sound doctrine” (hygiainousē didaskalia, GK 5617, 1436) in all of its instances in the PE is used in contrast to false teaching (cf. 1 Ti 1:10; 2 Ti 4:3; Tit 1:9). This is borne out by the history of the church, where it was often heresy that gave rise to the formulation of orthodox doctrine.[3]


2:1 / Beginning with the emphatic personal pronoun and the Greek adversative de (“But you”), this section stands in clear contrast to 1:10–16. The same formula occurred in 1 Timothy 6:11, immediately following the final indictment of the false teachers (cf. 2 Tim. 3:10, 14). However, in contrast to its occurrences in 1 and 2 Timothy, where Timothy himself was urged to stand in opposition to the false teachers, here Titus is urged to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine, so that the people themselves will live differently from the false teachers. The verb to teach literally means “to speak,” a milder term than the imperatives of 1 Timothy (“exhort,” “charge,” “teach”). Titus is to “rebuke sharply” the opponents (1:13); he is to “speak” to the people. On sound doctrine, see discussion on 1 Timothy 1:10 (cf. Titus 1:9, 13). Here it stands in contrast to the “human commandments” of 1:14–16. Again, it will be observed that what is in accord with sound doctrine has not so much to do with the cognitive side of the gospel as the behavioral.[4]


Sound Doctrine (2:1)

Supporting Idea: Paul’s original letter had no chapter breaks. This first verse follows logically and necessarily upon the denunciation of false teachers in chapter 1. Sound doctrine produces health in the individual, making him fit for service and spiritual development.

2:1. If Paul had been talking with Titus in person, he would have looked him straight in the eye to emphasize his strong directive: You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Titus, and all believers, must stand in stark contrast to the false teachers. Correct belief produces health and wholeness, while erroneous teachings result in disobedience and worthlessness (Titus 1:16). Paul was not advocating the “health and wealth” doctrine of modern triumphalists but a spiritual health which proceeds from faith in God. Doctrine which remains undistorted, free from the infections of human opinion or philosophies, will bring healing to the soul and stability to life.

The church must be aware of cultural shifts, adjusting to the peculiar needs of society. I enjoy studying new methods for presenting the message of Scripture and developing different strategies for reaching people with the gospel. But we must not tinker with doctrine. Biblical revelation is complete, founded upon the prophets, Christ, and the apostles. It is God’s unadulterated Word which carries the power to turn hearts toward him. Scripture remains the inviolate Word of God. Christ remains the incarnate Truth. In him, spiritual wholeness is fleshed out in a person. Through him we can experience the transformation of the whole person, awakening our spirit, mind, and soul to our Creator.[5]


1. Directions for the promotion of the spirit of sanctification in congregational life have been given. Titus has been urged to complete the organization of the various churches in the island, in order that, by means of the work of truly consecrated elders, the voice of persons who by their false doctrines and practices were defiling the churches might be silenced, and congregational life might flourish. That was the substance of chapter 1.

Now in chapter 2 Paul focuses the attention of Titus upon family and individual life. He issues commands relative to the proper conduct of five classes of individuals: aged men, aged women, young married women, young men (Titus himself to set the example), and slaves. The emphasis upon the family is evident especially from verses 4 and 5: “so that they (the aged women) may wisely train the young women to be loving toward their husbands, loving toward their children,” etc.

For Paul’s teaching with respect to The Christian Family see also 1 Tim. 5:1–8; then Gal. 3:28; Eph. 5:22–6:4; Col. 3:18–21. On Slaves and Their Masters (considered members of the family) see also 1 Tim. 6:1, 2; then Eph. 6:5–9; Col. 3:22–4:1; Philemon.

Since Titus is the man who must deliver Paul’s instructions with respect to the five groups, the apostle begins by writing, But as for you, speak what is consistent with the sound doctrine. Note the word of contrast, “But, as for you.” Cf. a similar contrast in 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:10, 14; 4:5. The life and teaching of Titus must contrast sharply with that of “the contaminated and unbelieving” enemies of the faith who were doing such damage in Crete (as shown in chapter 1). Not only must these errorists be reproved sharply (Titus 1:13), but evil must be overcome with good. Not only must the elders do their duty over against teachers of false religion (chapter 1), but Titus himself must give the example! Even in his informal daily conversation he must “speak” what is consistent with sound doctrine. Note the verb “speak” or literally “talk” (λάλει), which indicates informal vocal utterance.

Now to talk “what is consistent with (or “proper to,” cf. 1 Tim. 2:10; Eph. 5:3) the sound doctrine” certainly means that, as the author conceives of it, doctrine and life must harmonize. This is the key to all that follows in verses 2–10. Accordingly, the position defended by some, namely, that the morality urged here is in no sense specifically Christian, is in conflict with Paul’s declaration. It is true, of course, that even outside of the church some of the character-traits here mentioned—for example, being temperate or sober, being self-controlled or sensible—are given in lists of moral requirements for those who occupy certain important positions in life: the Stoic philosopher, the general, etc. Even an unbeliever has “some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior,” a truth which should never be denied (see on 1 Tim. 3:7; and Canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine, art. 4; note, however, the qualification at the end of that article). But when these same qualities are mentioned here in this letter (or in 1 Tim. 3), they must not be lifted out of their context, nor must they be dissociated from the general teachings of Scripture. Titus 2:1, 2 must not be separated from Titus 2:12, 13. As soon as the question is asked, “What is the source of these virtues, how are they motivated, according to what standard is their exhibition to be judged, and for what purpose are they to be used?” the great contrast immediately appears. Accordingly, the qualities that are mentioned in the verses which follow are specifically Christian virtues in this sense, namely, that they presuppose the dynamic of God’s grace working in the heart, are motivated by the example of Christ, are measured by God’s holy law, and have God’s glory as their goal.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 69–72). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 309–310). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 613). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 185). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 358). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 361–363). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

December 26 Defending the Faith

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the first–born of all creation. For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first–born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him.”

Colossians 1:15–19

✧✧✧

A believer should defend the faith.

Despite the diligent labors of Epaphras, the Colossian church was in jeopardy. A serious heresy had arisen, and Epaphras was so concerned that he traveled to Rome to visit Paul in prison. The Colossian church had not yet been infected by that heresy, and Paul warns them against its dangers.

The heretics, denying the humanity of Christ, viewed Him as one of many lesser, descending spirit beings that emanated from God. They taught a form of philosophic dualism, postulating that spirit was good and matter was evil. Hence, a good emanation like Christ could never take on a body composed of evil matter. The idea that God Himself could become man was absurd to them. Thus, the false teachers also denied His deity.

Christ was also not adequate for salvation, according to the heretics. Salvation required a superior, mystical, secret knowledge, beyond that of the gospel of Christ. It also involved worshiping the good emanations (angels) and keeping Jewish ceremonial laws.

By far the most serious aspect of the Colossian heresy was its rejection of Christ’s deity. Before getting to the other issues, Paul makes an emphatic defense of that crucial doctrine. In Colossians 1:15–19 Paul reveals our Lord’s true identity by viewing Him in relation to God, the universe, and the church.

Perhaps you’ve met people who deny Christ’s deity, but you weren’t sure what to say to them. In the next few days, let Paul be your guide in showing you how to confront cultists in a biblical manner. By following his example, you’ll be able to defend our precious faith.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to teach you from His Word how to refute false teaching.

For Further Study: In verse 3 of Jude, what exhortation does Jude give to believers?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

ICYMI: Julie Roys Discusses Journalism & James MacDonald on Doctrine & Devotion Podcast — Julie Roys

Why would I write about serious sin in the church? Isn’t this just gossip, or dirty laundry that would be better to keep private?

I answer these and other tough questions posed by Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler of Doctrine and Devotion—a somewhat edgy “podcast exploring Christian faith and practice from a Reformed Baptist perspective.” If you’ve wondered about some of these questions in light of my recent exposés on James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel (see World Magazine article and follow-up blog post)—or just want to hear a deeper exploration of this topic—I think you’ll really enjoy this episode. The podcast starts humorous and lighthearted, but turns thoughtful and serious in short order.

Why would I write about serious sin in the church? Isn’t this just gossip, or dirty laundry that would be better to keep private?

I answer these and other tough questions posed by Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler of Doctrine and Devotion—a somewhat edgy “podcast exploring Christian faith and practice from a Reformed Baptist perspective.” If you’ve wondered about some of these questions in light of my recent exposés on James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel (see World Magazine article and follow-up blog post)—or just want to hear a deeper exploration of this topic—I think you’ll really enjoy this episode. The podcast starts humorous and lighthearted, but turns thoughtful and serious in short order.

This episode first aired on December 20, but I am reposting here with permission from Joe and Jimmy. Enjoy!

“Julie Roys, Journalism, and James MacDonald” Doctrine and Devotion Joe Thorn & Jimmy Fowler

Audio Player

 

via ICYMI: Julie Roys Discusses Journalism & James MacDonald on Doctrine & Devotion Podcast — Julie Roys

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

Michelle Lesley

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

mailbag

Volume 1     Volume 2

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men…

View original post 4,190 more words

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

Michelle Lesley

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

mailbag

Volume 1  Volume 3

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of…

View original post 2,167 more words

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

Michelle Lesley

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

mailbag

Volume 2, Volume 3

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of…

View original post 2,252 more words