Heard most of an extraordinarily cheap and nasty anti Christian rant on Radio 4 at 13.30 today by alleged comedian Marcus Brigstocke. He began by mocking the Atonement and went downhill from there. Cleverly threw in a brief essentially neutral mention of the Quran and comment on Dawkins’ narcissism presumably in anticipation of complaints from Christians but didn’t go anywhere near criticising ‘The Prophet’ (Muhammed or Lord Darwin). Little bit too cutting edge for the Biased Broadcasting Corporation on that one, steer clear. Stick to spitting, pissing and shitting over Christianity and the Bible-its much safer. And so easy when you’re just riffing on The God Delusion with some Douglas Adams thrown in to pad out the canned laughter. I hope to comment later on the curious link between the atheist left and Islam later. Why do the political left seem so sympathetic to Islam when it contains everything they say they hate about Christianity writ large?
I have written to complain twice in the past about extreme anti Christian bias on BBC dramas. On both occasions I received a ‘We are sorry that you are such a tosser that you don’t value our wonderful production values which occasionally contain cutting edge and challenging material. We are in charge so go **** yourself.’ letter.
Just saying. Listen again here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fchm4 yourself if you like. If you like it, you’re in deeper trouble than you realise. Much deeper.
The BBC has never, ever, ever, broadcast a programme critical or even cheeky about Muhammed or Darwin. It seems that as the Muhammadan threat to our civilisation draws nearer, the order goes out ‘Kick the Christians harder!’
I often forget that I put this blog up mainly to promote my novel and the ideas in it. Currently I am editing ‘Darwin’s Adders: A Chronicle of Pagan England 2089′ before a re-launch, with a new title ‘The Meonbury Chronicles: part 1, Darwin’s Adders’. I am planning to make the book somewhat shorter with fewer adjectives (I have a terrible, bad, annoying habit of never using one adjective when three will do) and to make it easier reading. More plot and dialogue, less author to reader philosophising. But I’d rather fail on my terms that succeed on terms I don’t agree with, there are plenty of wholesome Amish romances and doctor-nurse stories on the market.
The initial inspiration for the book came to me on waking one morning in July 2009, a month after a visit to Oxford for a C S Lewis weekend based around the novel ‘Perelandra’, second of his acclaimed sci-fi trilogy, otherwise known as the Ransom trilogy, after Elwin Ransom the key character. I love this novel viscerally, but it’s successor ‘That Hideous Strength’ (THS) is I feel more powerful and prophetic. The idea in my head was for a kind of 4th part to the Ransom trilogy based on a ‘what if the bad guys had won?’ scenario, and imagined an angel coming to a handicapped boy, the Down’s syndrome affected great grandson of Mark and Jane Studdock, and announcing that he was the Pendragon. You won’t get that that means unless you have read THS and it would take too long to explain here (setting aside plot spoilers). But basically the key idea in THS is a political union of the worst of materialist and pagan thought and practices under the power of the malignant non material intelligences that (if the Christian world view is correct **) are behind both.
So I imagined a post oil England ruled by druids and witches. Once I got started, all sorts of other stuff suggested itself and clattered from my keyboard. A lot of it is a neo-mediaeval (or pre-oil and pre-machine, which is the same thing) agricultural procedural.
Here is a sample chapter which illustrates the last point.
As the Hampshire politician, farmer and journalist William Cobbett had written, as quoted by John Seymour in his classic book on self sufficiency, hogs had always been at the heart of European peasant agriculture. With the factory farms and supermarkets all gone, the value of the family backyard pig had been realised again.
Pigs bred, farrowed as it was called, twice a year if managed efficiently, producing up to a dozen piglets that could be fattened on leftovers. Their meat was very apt to be preserved as bacon or ham after fattening on autumn surpluses of food. The lard if properly rendered and stored gave a valuable source of cooking oil and calories that could be stored right through the cold winter and hungry-gap spring with care. Nobody bothered about cholesterol any more.
Pigs were popular. Nobody dared insult the rulers, even privately due to the informer network, but if they had done they might have called them rats, wolves, wasps, lice or cockroaches but never pigs. It was no insult to be compared to such useful animals.
The likeliest looking piglets were selected for mating and the others castrated and fattened for meat. Castration made the meat taste sweeter and the animals more docile. Sows were evidently required for breeding, but more females were born than were wanted as pig mothers. Inevitably then, after the best females from each litter had been selected to bear the next generation of porkers, the others were raised and fattened for the same purpose as most of their brothers.
Six months after her birth, schoolteacher Jason Poulter’s backyard gilt, as unmated sows were called, weighed in at some nine and a half stone, or would have done if they had any suitable scales. Not great for a 1990s concentrate fattened pedigree Large White pig, but not bad for a 2089 Wessex Saddleback and Berkshire cross given the stale bread, rotten apples, rats, snails, food scraps and brewers draff (*) she dined on. She had a big day ahead although she didn’t know it.
It was twenty to nine in the morning in Jason’s backyard, not that anyone had a watch but anyway it was shortly after breakfast. The household pig, who answered to the name Fairy (at least if you were carrying a food bucket) was about to make a generous contribution to the village economy. Squealing mightily, Fairy leaned against the gate of her small enclosure as a bucket was produced. She had received no ration the night before and was inflamed with urgent hunger. The smell of food and sound of the bucket being rattled drove her wild. Berus placed it carefully on the ground and retired carefully as the latch on the wooden gate of her sty was pulled. The sow sped to the bucket.
The black and beige saddleback gilt snorked and slavered into her last meal, some rolled barley porridge from the bottom of a rawhide leather bucket. The bucket was skilfully designed to obscure the side vision of the pig whose head was down the bucket feeding. She was slightly wobbly on her legs after being given two quarts of spoiled cider mixed with water to slake her thirst two hours earlier. A mild sedative, or pre-med if you like for the surgical procedure she was scheduled to have. Trepanning followed by carotid arterectomy, tracheal transection and a laparotomy.
Jason held the pole axe, a clever piece of work that Ryan Callumson, the Meonbury metalworker had wrought on his anvil from a standard design of Avon College near New Sarum. Weighing about three quarters of a pound, the business end was a tubular spike three inches long and just under an inch wide, the base from which the spoke arose was a flat striker cap as wide as a man’s palm. The point of the tubular spike was covered for each use with a soft ball of clay. Holding it out on a yard long hazel rod which fitted neatly into a ferrule built into the cap for this purpose, Jason adroitly rested the ball of soft clay on the back of the sow’s head, between the ears. The light touch didn’t irritate the pig the way the iron tube would have done, and helped gain a purchase on the skin.
The brothers worked together like a pair of scissors. The moment Jason placed the spike in position with a practiced and well timed movement, his brother George swung his sledgehammer and struck the spike’s broad cap a great thump. The iron tube cut through the skin, smashed the skull and sunk two inches into Fairy’s porcine brain before she had any idea what was happening. The bystanders were relieved and gave a loud cheer. If George had mis-struck, they were ready to secure the frantic animal and hold her down while they cut her throat, but were glad not to have to. Too much excitement and the risk of a bite that way. You didn’t want a bite from a pig, it was a nasty crushing bite worse than a dog’s and in the post antibiotic era, easily fatal. And a big adrenaline surge might impair the meat. Nice one Jason and George.
Ropes were quickly secured round each quivering back leg, and a slit dexterously made in each hock to take a sturdy steel hook between tendon and bone. The paralysed porker was hauled over a low wooden block and her throat slit before the heart stopped. The blood was caught in a bucket to be mixed with oatmeal, chopped herbs and minced fat to make black pudding. Berus and Tansy looked on with excited joy. It took a few minutes for Fairy to bleed out. As the convulsions settled down to just quivering, she was hoisted up on a wooden frame by the ropes round her rear legs, as the last of the blood drained. The involuntary movements stopped and a stone jug of cider was passed round. The pig’s good health was drunk. Well, they saluted her.
Pigs were vital to the village economy. The omnivorous animals ate almost any otherwise wasted food the people couldn’t and turned it into meat and manure, to say nothing of the pigskin which traditionally was used to made clothes and shoes. Maybe a third of the households in the village kept a pig or two and slaughtered twice a year. The meat was mainly shared out as part of the ‘from each according to his ability’ code that all lived by. Well, almost all. In theory. And when the food sheriffs or their informers were watching.
Fairy’s demise was a one off slaughter, not the great massacre of porkers that would happen after they had finished the autumn glut of vegetables and apples and turned it into meat and fat that could be stored to stave off winter hunger. As Seymour had said, ‘any fool can feed himself in July, but a real countryman is always thinking about the winter’. His writings, or rather an edited selection of them which omitted the bits about individual liberty, distrust of government, making beer and whisky and using firearms, had been some of the few books that had been preserved through the Decimation. He wrote a lot about pigs.
The autumn pig festival was nearly as big as Yule and longer and noisier than Beltane. The whole village echoed with the squeals of pigs and children and stank of blood and guts as two thirds of the village’s pigs were slaughtered around late November to December, depending on the season. The pig in question whose processing kept Berus from school on this occasion was a regular pig, the pig of the month. With no refrigerators any more, or electricity to run them if there were any, meat was eaten within a week of slaughter (depending on the seasonal temperatures), or preserved by salting, smoking or potting in lard. A pig was only killed in warm weather for a feast or immediate distribution, the meat would spoil otherwise.
The food sheriffs oversaw the distribution of meat; you had to get their advance permission to slaughter. Nobody really liked the food sheriffs, but living among the villagers they couldn’t go too far in extracting the kind of favours that men of their station always had, and the system generally worked well enough. Everyone could see it made sense to plan slaughtering so that fresh meat was available reasonably often. The food sheriffs made up their meagre pay by creative accounting of the points awarded for each pig. The system didn’t work so badly.
Berus was put on blood stirring duty. The sticky hot liquid mustn’t clot too soon. Fairy’s belly was slit from sternum to pubis and guts swiftly removed in one piece by someone who had done it before. Two pieces of linen twine were passed round the lower large bowel and tied off securely to keep the bowel contents from spoiling the meat. After a swift cut between the ligatures the bowels were removed cleanly to be turned inside out, washed and salted to make sausage casings. Berus’ sister Tansy ran around swatting flies while her older sister Juniper poured water to refresh the hands of the men doing the messy work.
The liver was separated from the rest of the insides while the bowels were taken a safe distance away and the contents washed into a rough leather bucket by pouring water through them. Care was taken not to rupture the gall bladder with its bitter green contents that could spoil meat. The cleaned and salted intestines were stuffed with an oatmeal, herb and suet mix, ready to absorb the blood as it was poured in through an ox horn funnel. A large pan of hot water was already prepared in the kitchen into which the black pudding was lowered to solidify into the first of the feast. Offal that couldn’t be preserved had to be consumed without delay, hence sharing and feasting. The end of technological civilisation was not entirely without its positive side. Nothing brought people together like a pig killing.
The food sheriff Nigel Bewick who had overseen the event got half the liver plus a promise of three fingers thickness of bacon later, in return for which he would mildly inflate the amount of meat distributed to the community and turn a blind eye to certain other matters.
The village distribution of meat was counted on old fashioned tally sticks which were notched with an official steel tool which had four different thicknesses of serrated edge according to a standard scale by the sheriffs. The householder had one half of a split hazel or willow stick, the sheriff held the other, and the two matching halves were held together to be marked. Crude but effective, practical and cheap, the revival of the tally stick was one of many old low tech ideas going back to the ancient civilisations of Sumeria and Egypt that had been revived from history books. Much else had been revived from those times, including the old polytheistic nature religion which had been used since the founding of Babylon by the rulers and priests to help the masses make sense of their sometimes harsh lives.
The fragrance of roasting and frying meat spread across the village that night. Those who had none cursed quietly and in vain.
(*) Technical note: draff is the washed out barley malt left over after the brewing of beer. The pigs were the ideal repository for this by product of the sacred process, of which Osiris and John Barleycorn were the relevant deities. There was a good deal of protein and vitamins left in the draff, apart from which the pigs’ efficient guts could also digest the cellulose. All this was taught in schools, under mathematics, household management, and in evolution class. Evolution was the new name for nature study and biology, and it was combined holistically with religious studies in honour of Lord Darwin and the gods of nature.
(**) PS it is.
The UK House of Lords debates a bill on assisted suicide this Friday. We have heard a lot about hard cases and much emotive argument as to why we should have the law changed to allow autonomous choice about terminating ourselves with medical assistance.
I will write more about this later but meanwhile here is a link to a very thoughtful reflection from someone who is very ill indeed and thinks changing the law to allow death control is a very bad idea.
In Oxford for a C S Lewis related summer school at Wycliffe Hall. Very exciting and inspiring, made notes and will probably post more later. Today I skipped a visit to Magdalen College and cycled around town on a hired bicycle. Annoyingly I got a puncture which I had to pay to get fixed plus a new tyre, will see if I can get a part refund. Anyway, later I was pedalling through back streets when found a nice looking pub and went in, got a pint, sat down and started scribbling some thoughts (of which more later).
One of our group of CSL students passed by, I knocked on the window and she joined me for a while before going on to Evensong (which I also skipped). Then a red faced white haired nine fingered man (it wasn’t Frodo Baggins) came in, got a drink and sat down next to me and started talking to me.
He was interested in what I was writing in my exercise book so I told him I was on a CS Lewis course at Wycliffe Hall and was thinking about setting up a C S Lewis group. He said a few things about thinking, how he was a scientist but preferred alcohol to thought, in fact got drunk to stop him thinking. I made a joke about Bilbo Baggins’s comment that going out of your front door on to the road was a dangerous thing, it could lead to anything, and the same was true for thinking. Thinking is dangerous, as Lewis wrote in Screwtape Letters and Surprised by Joy (*). But the comment was lost on him, fair enough for he made some comments about football which were lost on me.
Anyway, I went to the Gents and got another pint (of Oxford Scholar ale) and we talked some more. I thought I probably ought to try to tell him about Jesus since he’d asked what I was writing about but I didn’t want to be rude and guessed he probably wouldn’t want to know. And so it proved.
A pleasant conversation ranged, getting on to ancient Greece, and he said how the Greek legends were much more believable that Christianity. I smiled and said I would have to disagree with him on that. In fact, the rational basis for this is a big theme in mythology and classics expert C S Lewis, as I have recently been studying, so we could have had an interesting fact based discussion about that. But we didn’t, because he swore, raised his voice and made a big expansive head and arm gesture, saying that we (he was apparently setting the rules of our conversation) wouldn’t discuss that or the evening would be expletingly ruined. OK I thought, I’m not scalp hunting here and had prayed silently, deciding that I would respect this man’s wishes and not try to force my faith on him just so I could be a good little Evangelical. He said in effect that he didn’t want to discuss my reasons for beli4ving Christianity rational and I thought I wold respect his wishes.
So we talked a bit about football, cars, our respective professions, some personal stuff he raised, and then I had to go. I gave him my contact details at his request and he gave me a handshake. Maybe we’ll be in contact again, maybe we won’t. I didn’t get his name, wouldn’t share it if I had, but I wish him well.
Reflection: many people REALLY seem very averse to having a conversation about Jesus or the evidential basis for the Christian narrative. To the extent of explicitly killing a conversation that is naturally developing that way.
Why is that?
(*) CSL wrote how as an atheist he came across pointers to Christianity being true in all sorts of places where he least expected it ‘The young atheist cannot be too careful of his reading material.’
Listening to radio 4 in the car on the way to church at 08.50 this morning there was a 10 minute opinion piece on the question of people who identify as ‘Spiritual but not religious.’ The speaker (I forget the name but will check later) said that he had Googled on this phenomenon since he first came across it on a dating site. Apparently a third of Americans now see themselves as ‘SBNR’.
This got me thinking about the dinner party argument that set me off writing a collection of essays, polemics and counter polemics that I published on Kindle as ‘Three Men in a Hut and Other Essays’. It seems like quite a cool thing to say, and as the speaker said, enables people who want some of the comforts of religion without the dogma and obligations to feel better about themselves than if they accepted Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins’ hard line materialism.
But is SBNR any more than muddle headedness and wanting the best of both worlds with the rigours of neither? After all, ‘dogma’ (and what a toxic word that has become) simply means a non negotiable belief claimed as truth. We are fed dogmas every hour of every day by the opinion formers and elite of our society. A religious dogma is something claimed to be true about God. Dawkins dogmatically claims that there is no God. Muslims dogmatically claim that God spoke through Muhammad. Christians claim that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead. These are truth claims that we can dismiss without thinking as they are not conducive to our feeling good about ourselves or else rationally investigate as to whether they are true or not, and reject or accept depending on the outcomes of our investigation. Simply saying ‘we mustn’t be dogmatic’ is to say that (A) there is no such thing a true truth or real reality, and (B) you must accept this because I say so (which is of course a dogmatic statement).
To say that we ‘reject dogma’ per se is to say that there is no such thing as true truth. Dawkins’ materialism, although wrong (*), is a more intellectually defensible position. What do these folk mean by ‘spiritual’ anyway? Sounds to me like pick and mix designer religion with ones’ self as god.
The bible has a name for this position. Idolatry.
(*) evidence for biblical Christianity being supported by good evidence is discussed in more depth on my http://www.questiondarwin.com site
Reflections on changing church
‘People who hop from church to church, you can tell their conversion don’t amount to much.’
(Denomination blues, song by Washington Phillips, recorded by Ry Cooder)
I am in the processing of transferring my commitment from a small village Anglican church (won’t say which) to a large city Evangelical church which is affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC). These are some very non exhaustive notes on the why and what of that decision, written partly for Mr Happy Jack of the Cranmer blog, but you can read them too. I’ll try not to be vindictive, petty, triumphalist or nasty in any other sort of way, but one does not leave a church, a bank or a marriage if one is happy or if one could see a way of realistically amending what was significantly unsatisfactory. I’ll try to keep this short and relevant while keeping back anything that could sound mean.
I never really was an Anglican. Circumstances took us to the place where we now live and it made sense to attend the local church. It suited other members of my family better than me. Over time a lot of the people who saw things theologically more my way have gone. The C of E is a broad church which is often thought of as a three legged stool the three legs, or wings being Reformed/Evangelical, Liberal and Catholic. Some Anglican churches are much more Evangelical. The church I am leaving has moved, as I see it, in an increasingly more Roman and liberal direction, I have moved in a more Evangelical and reformed direction. That about covers it, without getting too personal.
Above Bar Church (ABC) is a well established and well regarded Bible church. I used to go there with other students when I was a new believer in the 1970s, and their main beliefs and style of meetings have not changed since then. Attendance has risen, the morning service is repeated at 9.15 and 11.00 as there are too many people to pack in at once. The heart of the service is a solid half hour to 40 minute Bible sermon, not the preacher’s latest thing but steadily working through the books of the Bible. The web site has archived sermons going back to 2007 at least and ABC takes (cliché alert) ‘a high view of Scripture’. For the last year or so I have been listening to podcast sermons and I like what I hear. Must be careful about terms like ‘like’ as I don’t want to imply that we should take a consumerist view of church. The Christian must be a servant of the Lord and be humble, not boastful. Anyway, I have been going to ABC since mid December and found the sermons very biblical, the worship a mixture of good old hymns and modern ones (I prefer the old, probably some of the younger people prefer the new, and probably someone has thought about this and tried to please everyone. I like that.) Also they have not got a font but a well-they baptise believers, not infants, and by full immersion. Just like in the Bible.
There are lots of activities going on with an emphasis on reaching out, at home and abroad, in development and relief projects and in preaching the Gospel too-both, not one or the other. I like that too. There was a Christmas appeal which raised £20,000 which will be divided between a local food bank and a TEAR fund project in Haiti which some church members are going out to help at this autumn. I like that too. I have been invited to a men’s breakfast soon where the issue of sexual temptation ‘playing with fire’ will be discussed. The church is not ‘obsessed with sex’ as the tired cliché goes but recognises the dangers that lurk for ‘people like us’, not least in on line pornography. I have heard this warned against from the pulpit at ABC, although the subject was never mentioned in the last 15 years at my Anglican church. Anglicans are too ‘nice’ for things like that, apparently.
There is a football oriented group (not for me, but for some) an over 50s group (for me) a politics discussion group (yes please) and no doubt more. I have been invited to a ‘beginners group’ which run regularly and I will be attending. Best of all perhaps, a few old friends from university days recognised and welcomed me.
But why are there divisions and different sects and denominations in the church? In a word, because of error. Paul wrote about this to the Corinthians, deploring error but commending those who separated themselves from it. Error exists. As John Risbridger was preaching from Revelation this very Sunday, yesterday as I write, we are in a battle and we have an enemy, one Mr Satan. There is no point denying this, and if we are to say that there is no devil, then we are calling Jesus a liar for he often referred to him. And as John preached, one of Satan’s strategies is to inspire false teachers to lead men astray. Again, Jesus preached about false teachers, so did Paul and Peter, John and Jude. And if there are false teachers, then we must beware of them. And what is the best defence against false teaching? True teaching.
And how do we know what true teaching is? Well, the Bible would be a good start. And a good middle and end. In fact, let’s just put human wisdom and tradition to one side and just teach the Bible systematically and have done with it. And this is what ABC does, and has done since I was a student, and what the Church of England does a bit of, some of the time, and much more in some local churches than others. The Pilling report on human sexuality exemplifies the way that the C of E seems embarrassed by the bible, especially when it conflicts with popular opinion. I wrote to my Anglican bishop about the Pilling report which seems to me not merely to make a seriously incorrect decision, but to do so via an unbiblical process-asking for the opinion of radical pressure groups and trying to court popularity with unchurched people. I received a polite but non committal reply. For me, this wasn’t good enough.
Anyhow, I had to make a choice. Thinking about the standard criticism of quitters ‘if you don’t like things, stay and change them’ my response tends to be-at the Anglican church I am moving on from, people evidently like ritual, processions, gowns, choral anthems (some in Latin) candles, icons and the occasional Hail Mary. And hymns I find mostly dull or (in the case of John Bell’s work) infuriating in their liberal assumptions. If I asked them to change to accommodate my preferences, perhaps they might say ‘we’re happy, why don’t you go somewhere they do things your way?’ (And in fact, a former rector said exactly that to a number of us who asked for change. Several families acted on his advice.).Which would be fair enough. So I have moved on t somewhere more in tune with my deeply held beliefs, with no ill will and without ruling out popping in for the occasional evensong or Messy Church if they ask me to play guitar. Anyhow, in the circumstances I see myself more of a joiner than a quitter.
Division and arguing is not good and I hope I have kept this polite. But we can’t avoid the fact that Jesus brought division, because He was The Truth and some people found the truth very inconvenient. That’s why they killed Him.
A friend posted on the Cranmer blog that whatever church I joined would let me down. I get that. It’s not ‘church’ that meets our needs, but Jesus. I hope I won’t let them or more importantly Him down.
There is an interesting discussion (the usual atheist and Roman Catholic trolling apart) on the Cranmer blog (see right for link) concerning the story of David Silvester, a UKIP counsellor at Henley on Thames who has outraged BBC and much other opinion by sentiments expressed in a letter and interview. Sylvester expressed the belief that God was judging Britain through the recent floods because as a nation we had abandoned him, not least as exemplified by changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples.
Enough has been written in robust criticism of Silvester’s thinking from both Christian and non Christian viewpoints (see Cranmer’s post, this morning’s Radio 4 Thought For The Day, numerous blog posts and tweets etc) to make it superfluous for me to add anything. I am as familiar as the next bible student with the words of Jesus about the tower of Siloam, which were cited on TFTD this morning. What he actually said was
‘….those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13 1-5)
So it wasn’t so much that Jesus said that the victims of this disaster were innocent, but that we were all guilty and standing in danger of judgment. The first part is usually quoted and the second, which makes the real point, omitted.
It is the same with the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11). People always quote the text where Jesus says ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone at her’ and then when nobody does, says to her ‘neither do I condemn you.’ But the punch line ‘go and SIN NO MORE’ is generally left out.
Anyway, back to David Silvester. Was he being as barmy as almost everyone seems to be saying? To avoid misrepresentation, I must say that I think he was out of order to say what he did and it was right of UKIP to suspend him, not for holding the views -UKIP accepts for example Hindu members, who believe in reincarnation and that misfortune in this life is deserved punishment for offences in former lives. This belief is highly offensive to most people but most people don’t mind Hindus believing it. Silvester was disciplined for giving the BBC an interview which he must have known would be used against the party. But could Silvester be right to believe what he said? I speak as one who does his inadequate best to follow Jesus and who believes with other Christians the creedal statement that Jesus will ‘come again in glory to judge the living and the dead’. Preaching about the coming Judgment, although central to Jesus’ mission and message, has fallen out of favour. In many Anglican churches you are more likely to hear a vicar preaching about Palestinian rights, global warming or homophobia.
Has God judged and punished whole nations in the past? And could He, will He do it again? A non-exhaustive study of the Old Testament brings up the examples of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by fire from above for their wickedness (including but not limited to sexual sin see Ezekiel 16:49-50, Jude verse 7), the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7-11) and indeed His own people Israel whom He punished many times for their apostasy, idolatry, cruelty towards the poor, adultery, child sacrifice and other sins. See for example the books of Judges and Jeremiah to see how often God punished Israel for national waywardness. I have no intention in this post of attempting to justify or explain this harsh justice, merely to record the fact of it. So, has the God of the Jews and Christians punished whole nations for national sins in history. Yes.
But it has all changed since Jesus came, hasn’t it? Well in one sense, yes, but in a more important and eternal sense, no. The greatest judgments are yet to come, as we read in the Gospels and Revelation particularly. This still doesn’t mean that David Silvester is right to blame our national sin let alone to single out homosexual issues for the terrible weather we have been having lately.
In church last Sunday before this blew up in the national media, John Risbridger was preaching on Revelation chapters 8-11. You can download the whole sermon as a podcast from the Above Bar Church web site . The plagues of Revelation, which we are left in no doubt are cast upon the earth by a (rightly) angry and judgmental God, are described. Risbridger said that he did not see most of these fearful judgments being single one-off future events but more to do with the harms that come upon us generally as a result of our foolish decision to try to live without God, although he said there would be some particular and finally awful future judgments. But I was particularly struck by Revelation 9:20-21 where we read ‘ But the rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship idols…and did not repent of their murders, or their sorceries or their sexual immoralities or their thefts.’
So, in the light of revelation 9:20-21 and as seen from a bible believing Christian’s perspective, is David Silvester still looking quite so much of a fruitcake?
David Cameron, our Prime Minister who calls himself a Christian and a Conservative, bulldozed though a same sex marriage bill that was not in any party manifesto and despite rigged opinion polls was not generally wanted by the British people. It will have significant effects on our national way of life that cannot be predicted, not least as it will cost his party so many votes that it will greatly assist Labour at the 2015 election.
(Incidentally, UKIP policy is to be fully accepting of same sex civil partnerships but to oppose same sex ‘marriage’ as it is not necessary (given civil partnership), will offend many more people that it pleases, and is extremely likely to be used by gay activists as a battering ram under European ‘Human Rights’ laws to force churches who oppose it to carry out such ceremonies. This could at least split or even lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England. The latter may be right or it may be wrong, but has not been openly discussed and it seems unlikely that most people would welcome it. Peter Tatchell, the main proponent of same sex marriage, is also an outspoken anti monarchist. At least you know where you are with him.)
This same David Cameron tried to get Britain to commit armed forces on one side (the same side as the Saudi backed Al Nusra Front) in the murderous Syrian civil war, and was only stopped in Parliament by a frighteningly narrow margin despite well over 80% of ordinary voters including every single person I spoke to being against it. It should be noted that the Syrian rebels when they started the war were hoping to provoke/blackmail the west to intervene as we had in the earlier Arab civil war in Libya. So to that extent, the death of over 100,000 mainly civilians and the severe persecution of Christians in Syria is David Cameron, Barak Obama’s and France’s fault for giving the rebels cause to hope we would step in to finish what they, with their eyes open, started.
Please remind me, who is the dangerous lunatic here?
Cameron’s opposite number, another politically correct sexual revolutionary Ed Milliband, seems likely to become Prime Minister after the next election. He is a deficit denying Marxist who was fully involved in the last Labour government which took us to war in Iraq in 2003 with such utterly disastrous results. They also ran up the largest debt this country had ever known, borrowing money our children and grandchildren will have to pay back. The money wasn’t even spent wisely, mainly swelling welfare, creating new QUANGOs and government non-jobs, failed grandiose schemes like the NHS computer system (£12, 000, 000, 000 wasted on a vanity project that we didn’t need and was never going to work) various electoral bribes and of course the Iraq war. Plus mass immigration as a tool of social policy (Google Andrew Neather + immigration). Milliband has never apologised for a thing or given the slightest credible indication that he won’t repeat the same failed policies when he gets into power in 2015.
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, is another sexual libertarian who has admitted to having sex with 30 women and perhaps his own history and attitude is making it harder for him to manage the Lord Rennard affair effectively. After all, ‘Lord’ Rennard only (allegedly) asked women to go to bed with him. What’s wrong with that? Nick Clegg must have done the same at least 30 times (assuming no refusals) unless he has mastered telepathy.
My points are that (A) David Silvester (who has been disciplined by his party and become a national figure of fun and/or hate for suggesting that God punishes wickedness) is not so way off the Christian main stream as certain Christian commentators are saying, and that (B) our ‘normal’ politicians who are far too clever and well schooled in the arts of deception to reveal their true feelings on controversial issues as David Silvester has are a mutually appointed gang of dangerous revolutionaries who are wrecking our nation by stupid irresponsible policies.
The wrath of God is superfluous, we are doomed anyway with a shower like Cameron, Clegg and Milliband running the show.
I admit to being a member of UKIP and suspect that some UKIP members, especially former Conservatives (as David Silvester is) are in fact still loyal Tories, moles and sleepers waiting for the order to come out with something crazy to help the BBC with its anti UKIP campaign. Of course I would not dare to make such an assertion against any named individual, due to the lack of evidence that would stand up in court in the face of the oppressive UK libel laws. But this is not about that. It’s about the much more serious issue of people believing that it is inherently absurd to suggest that God punishes nations for their wickedness and that we can freely disdain His commands. He does and we can’t.
Just seen this post on the Cherson and Molschy blog. http://chersonandmolschky.com/category/immigration/ following a discussion on the Archbishop Cranmer blog http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/ about the question of persecution of Christians. This subject was brought up in church yesterday where the preacher, John Risbridger at Above Bar Church, Southampton is working through the book of Revelation. He mentioned the persecution of Christians, which the Open Doors organisation said led to 2,031 deaths world wide in 2103, double the number for the previous year. Risbridger used a photo including some dead bodies (the children had gone out to their activity) from the Pakistani church bombing last year which caused over 70 deaths.
How to discuss persecution and related issues without being accused of paranoia, Islamophobia? And how to discuss mass immigration without being called a racist bigot? The fact that the questions can be asked is itself indicative of the fact that we may feel inhibited by aspects of the culture from raising difficult issues. I certainly feel nervous raising the issues.
I was in London at Christmas and in Regent Street on Boxing day I felt as if I was in a foreign city. All kinds of non-English languages were being spoken by predominantly darker skinned people all around me in the crowd, hardly anyone I heard was speaking English. The forgoing 2 sentences are simple statements of fact, if you had been there you could not have failed to make the same observation. But what about my feelings? According to various ‘enlightened’ opinion leaders especially on the liberal left side of things, I am supposed to call this ‘vibrant’ and like it. If I don’t like it, I’m a bad person. In any event, I don’t have any choice about it.
Cherson and Molschy point out in the above linked article that Britain received some 250,000 immigrants between 1066 and 1948, but now receives double that number EVERY YEAR. But it is simply unacceptable in polite society to express anxiety or disapproval about this. The roads and rail are choked, our hospitals especially Accident and Emergency and Midwifery services are struggling to cope (many heavily pregnant women come from overseas to give birth in Britain, in order to get free health care). And our schools are struggling to cope not least due to language difficulties.
The public were never asked to vote on this. Revelations by Andrew Neather and Peter Mandelson reveal that there was a deliberate, but secret, Labour government policy to engineer mass immigration in order to pursue social and political ends. It is in the interests of socialists to bring in many immigrants-they tend to vote socialist, and so do the 5 million or so benefit dependents of working age with whom immigrants compete (successfully) for low paid work. These people will all vote Labour too.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this is the large number of Muslims who have come here. They typically send home to Pakistan or Bangladesh for marriage partners for sons and daughters, which has the dual effect of increasing numbers (since the spouse gets UK citizenship) and reducing the prospects of integration by making sure English will always be a second language at home.
I’ve already posted enough to get me into deep trouble. I don’t hate men and women who happen to be Muslims, but I have read the Quran and studied a bit of history and taken a look at the results of Islam round the world. The Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia who have found themselves being kidnapped, shot, blown up, burned or beheaded are not imagining things. The killers of Lee Rigby specifically cited the Quran as justification for his murder. It is very instructive to note British commentators, not least Prime Minister David Cameron, bending over backwards to deny that Islam had any role in Rigby’s murder. Funny that. You might think that his killer Michael Adebulajo, knowing that what he was doing would lead to death or life imprisonment, would have known what his motivation was. Lee Rigby’s killer, was quite clear that ‘Muhammad told him to do it’ and brandished a Quran during his trial. So why is David Cameron so certain Adebulajo was mistaken? Does he know the killer’s mind better than he did? Even if he WAS mistaken in believing that the Quran justifies the killing of infidels, aren’t Cameron and all the other apologists for Islam just a teeny bit concerned that other Quran readers might make exactly the same misjudgement?
Having read the Quran, I can see very clearly why anyone might think that the book is a death warrant for Jews, polytheists, Christians and Western Civilisation. Because it bloody well is, as so many have found to their cost. Don’t take my word for this, read it yourself. If that’s too much trouble, just Google on ‘Quran war verses’ or spend a few minutes on www.jihadwatch.com or www.thereligionofpeace.com specifically http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/023-violence.htm where the war verses are analysed in the context of Muslim denials.
None of the above should be taken as an incitement to hate people or take any uncharitable actions. But history tells us that while at times and places Muslims have lived sort of peacefully alongside others, Islam’s holy book most certainly does insist on world domination by all means necessary including the sword and during history Islam periodically has gone through phases of aggressive expansion during which Muslim armies, including the unweaponed armies of mass immigration, conquer territory and Islamicise it, always permanently. If we are living in or at the start of such a period of history, and there is at least some evidence pointing that way, denying it or calling people Islamophobic racist bigots won’t make it go away.
C S Lewis wrote that he had no objection to an Anglican (or other) clergyman losing his faith and ceasing to accept the teachings of the church. That was his right. Obviously, Lewis spent a great part of his life writing to persuading people to accept and follow the Christian religion on the grounds that it was true, so he would regret someone walking away from the Faith, but he was against compulsory religion. What Lewis went on to say he objected to was someone changing his beliefs but continuing to wear a dog collar and draw a salary as a minister after he had stopped believing. And so we come to the ‘Reverend’ Giles Fraser, the well known BBC vicar. He has spouted some highly unorthodox views before now but his broadcast yesterday morning on ‘Thought For The Day’ on Radio 4 Today programme took the biscuit.
Fraser is a privileged man. He and I both have free speech, but he has a much bigger platform. He enjoys the favour of the BBC and is a regular contributor to the 3 minute Thought For The Day (TFTD) spot on the flagship Radio 4 Today programme. He is free to give a religious commentary, broadly interpreted, on any subject, to an audience of millions, a freedom granted to few. How did he use this freedom to serve Christ on this occasion (10th January 2014)? There are plenty of things worth commenting on, the Mark Duggan lawful killing verdict and responses to it, civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Africa (in which you might think a Christian commentator had an interest since Christians are being murdered by Muslim militias) the housing crisis (so much worse due to easy divorce and state subsidised large scale single parenthood), or our national debt. For starters. There is a Christian angle on all these things which deserves to be heard more than it is. Within the limits of BBC censorship, he could have used his pulpit to put forwards arguments for the Gospel, as Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist TFTD speakers use it to promote their beliefs.
He chose instead to blame ‘homophobia’ for the historic suicide of the footballer Justin Fashanu, a promiscuous homosexual who was wanted by Maryland police for alleged sexual assault on a teenage boy. Fashanu fled the USA to escape accountability. Oddly enough, that detail wasn’t mentioned by Fraser, who blamed ‘homophobia’ for making Fashanu hang himself, not the fact that the police wanted to question him about an alleged sexual assault. Fraser also compared homosexual ‘coming out’ with the Christian New Birth, mangling the words of Jesus and a favourite Charles Wesley hymn in support of this, while accusing supporters of traditional/Biblical sexual behaviour of being ‘wicked’. So its fine to cruise gay bars for casual sex, but wicked to disapprove of this. That is ‘Reverend’ Giles Fraser’s theology which he calls ‘love’ and calls on Jesus to support.
Particularly offensive was his use of the words of Jesus ‘the truth shall make you free’ in the context of homosexual ‘coming out’. This phrase was truncated and lifted out of context, as it is said ‘A text out of context is a pretext’. Jesus actually said, ‘If you continue as my disciples (i.e. if you DO AS I TELL YOU) then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.’ (John 8:32) For Fraser to misuse scripture in this way surely disqualifies him from any pretence of being able to call himself a minister of Christ.
The assertion that ‘Jesus never forbade gay sex so therefore it can be assumed to be allowed’ is fatuous nonsense. Jesus never mentioned drunkenness, rape or kidnapping either. Jesus upheld Moses and after His Ascension sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the Apostles, who gave us the Epistles and Revelation which roundly condemn sexual immorality whether heterosexual or other. Jesus unequivocally condemned adultery (e.g. Matthew 16:4, Luke 16:18, John 8:1-11) and referred to God’s creation order for marriage as an enduring pattern of normality, citing Genesis as authority (Matthew 19:4-8). People who mangle and twist scripture like Fraser and his friends in the ‘gay Christian’ lobby should not be in church leadership, it is highly questionable whether they should be admitted to church membership. Or indeed whether Christians in churches infested by their views commit sin by remaining in fellowship with them. See Revelation 2:20 where the spirit of the risen Christ berated the church of Thyatira for ‘..tolerating that witch Jezebel’ who was tempting the church into sexual immorality.
Fraser used the word ‘love’ to mean man on man sex, as if the word can be legitimately used this way without qualification. Obviously he has not read C S Lewis’ ‘The Four Loves’, or else refuses it’s lessons. Of course and as always, (see earlier blog post ‘Christian bigots kill sweet young gay man’) homosexual genital activity is presented as ‘love’ with never a mention of the rampant promiscuity which this lifestyle routinely includes, as testified by the massively increased rate of sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, viral warts (causing anal cancer) etc in this group. To hear Fraser and other homophiles go on, you would think that ‘gay’ people were into courtship, engagement and chastity before first physical intimacy on their ‘wedding night’ instead of cruising the gay clubs and bars for dozens of semi random encounters each year, sometimes hundreds. Fashanu’s Wikipedia entry suggests a promiscuous lifestyle. Did he ‘love’ all the men he picked up for a night of sensual gratification? For Fraser to equate ‘love’ with casual sex with multiple partners is an outrageous abuse of language, never mind Scripture. Why do we allow ourselves to be conned like this?
At least you know where you stand with Giles Fraser. With the heterodox entity masquerading as our national church. (see 2 Peter 2:1-2, Jude 3-10).
I post this with some trepidation, knowing the tactic of today’s anti-Christians. They attack the church on sexual morality, and then when we respond by restating the Biblical position, accuse us of being obsessed with the subject. Then the fear of falling into this propaganda trap and being smeared as sex-obsessed (whereas it is the world that is obsessed with sex, not the church) bullies us into silence. Neat, eh? But he who remains silent is deemed to assent, and he who assents to heresy will enjoy the reward of a heretic.
Fraser of course accepts evolution and has in the past used his TFTD pulpit to attack Christians who trust the Bible on origins rather than Richard Dawkins. One thing leads to another, if you can’t trust the first book of the Bible, including by the way the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for amongst other things (Ezekiel 16) ‘going after strange flesh’ (Jude) then why trust the rest of it? Just go with the flow, be ‘relevant’, don’t trust those ‘wicked’ fundamentalists. Go for modern peer-reviewed rainbow religion, kick out that sad legalistic misogynist bigot Paul and embrace the gospel of ‘love’. I have written about this in my Kindle novel ‘Darwin’s Adders’.
The New Testament warns repeatedly against false teachers WITHIN the church (it is taken as read that those outside whether pagans, atheists or others will teach and practice error concerning the Creator God). To be relaxed about this problem ‘Hey man, let’s not judge!’ is to disobey the Scriptures that explicitly and repeatedly command us to watch out for these infiltrators with their lawlessness and different gospels (Galatians). The Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures does not waste words: the need to be on constant guard against false teachers is a major theme of Jesus and the Apostles, coming up in almost every book of the New Testament. So how dare we ignore the issue of heresy?
False teaching with its desire to avoid criticism or other discomfort, be friends with the world and its talk of ‘interpretation’ (i.e. twist the Bible to our own preference as Fraser does here) begins at the beginning, the book of Genesis which tells us where we came from, how things went wrong, and how God proposes to rescue some of us. Yes, some of us. Read the parable of the wheat and the tares. It could be you, but that’s out of my hands.
One thing’s for sure, there are heretics about, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they are attractive and plausible, just like any practiced con man, kidnapper or assassin. Just as Lucifer came over as reasonable and persuasive when he smooth talked Eve into ‘interpreting’ God’s explicit command to mean the opposite of what it said. Which when you think of it is what the theistic evolutionists, sexual revolutionaries and other heretics in the Church are doing. ‘Yeah, hath God indeed said?’ Genesis 3:1
Evolutionism, the belief that the universe was not created by the direct action of a Sovereign God but formed itself and then formed life from atoms and energy is bad science but also, in Christian terms, a heresy. I call it a gateway heresy, as it opens the door to other false beliefs. One of these is antinomianism, the belief that because ‘we are forgiven’ we don’t have to obey God’s righteous laws. Another is Gnosticism, the idea that there is secret knowledge vouchsafed only to certain insiders (as opposed to the revelation of Jesus Christ, which is open to all who will come). Gnosticism also is very vague about sin with a tendency to permissiveness. Both of these heresies are attractive to people who don’t like being told they must repent their sins, especially perhaps their sexual sins. There is plenty of evidence that when Christians wholeheartedly swallow the Darwin Mythos they are more likely to fall prey to other deceptions. I am sure this is one reason for the popularity of evolutionism. It gets rid of the image of God as a severe judge of our sins, including although not limited to our sexual sins. And sin can be a lot of fun in the short term (but see Romans 6:23. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.