Disgraced Methodist minister Paul Flowers was on the notoriously liberal BBC religious affairs ‘Sunday’ programme this morning. He was in the news after investigation into his role in a £1.5 billion hole in the finances of the Co-op bank revealed he had indulged in extended drug fueled orgies with homosexual prostitutes. He has now, rather belatedly one might think, been ‘ de-frocked’ by the Methodist church.
He had a lot to say in his own defence, mainly ‘I was under a lot of stress and lots of other people use drugs and prostitutes too.’ I want to mention one thing in particular. Mr Flowers complained about the way the Church had not been as accepting as he would like of ‘LGBT people like myself’ and should ‘catch up with Society.’
There is no dispute about the fact that Paul Flowers had random anonymous sex with a large number of men on the Manchester/Salford homosexual club scene over many years, plus the drug misuse. He doesn’t repent of this, but appeared to call on the Church to repent of it’s failure to come into line with ‘Society’.
The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of men and women who have, by God’s grace, faced up to the fact that we are sinners who have failed to live up to God’s righteous standards, sought forgiveness, received Christ, and who seek to live out New Testament teaching. This is hard, not least as, since Jesus affirmed, the world hates authentic Christians. ‘If the world hates you, it’s because they hated Me first.’
The world hates Christians who uphold the Bible’s teaching on sexual conduct. It is typical of the BBC to give a platform to a disgraced ex-minister of religion who sees himself as a martyr to ‘homophobia’. But if the Church, afraid of causing offence, follows a hedonistic, sex-obsessed, Christ-ignoring Society, then what is the point of it?
What political Correctness really means and where it’s heading.
‘The Ferguson Effect’ has led to an increased number of blacks being shot to death by other blacks, notably in Obama’s home city of Chicago. The Chicago Tribune reports that there were 779 reported homicides in 2016 – up from 485 in 2015, the largest increase in over 60 years. The story goes that police are so afraid of being demonised as evil racist murderers if they use their weapons in self defence or law enforcement, that they are allegedly holding back, so effectively empowering criminals. As a result, the criminals ( a very high proportion of whom are black) are using their weapons without restraint. Read about it here.
That is NOT to say that white against black racism does not exist or that the police never make a wrong decision to shoot, but the terrible Chicago homicide statistics (97% of which are black on black shootings) shows that much of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests were bogus. As ever, take my word for nothing but do some research. Fake MSM news indeed. It doesn’t take much on line research to discover some very nasty people indeed behind the ‘Black Lives Matter’ riots and protests
‘Blame whitey’ is an easy, satisfying but very dangerous game for activists, journalists and politicians to play, as law abiding black citizens are finding to their extreme cost.
One of the more interesting cultural and media phenomena of recent months has been the rise and rise of journalist and provocateur Milo Yiannopolous. Currently on a ‘Dangerous Faggot’ tour of the USA, he is a gay, Trump-supporting libertarian who enjoys ‘triggering’ the ‘snowflakes’ of the Left. A fine example of such triggering can be seen in this video (caution, ugly scenes and bad language).
Now let me be clear, I do not endorse this man or all that he stands for, in fact I haven’t read or heard enough of his thoughts and words to have a serious opinion, but the reaction to him is VERY interesting.
Milo can get away with a certain amount because he is an unashamed, indeed outrageous, practicing homosexual. In response to an accusation of racism, he replied ‘How can I be a racist given the amount of black dick I have had in my mouth?’. However in some ways this may even intensify the hate mainstream liberals feel towards him. They like to think they own ‘oppressed minorities’ and are perhaps unhappy that Milo freely admits what we all know, that being gay is an ADVANTAGE in the present climate. He has been booted off Twitter for ‘hate speech’ and is routinely called all sorts of things from Nazi to embezzler.
In a recent YouTube video, he explains that very many of the homosexuals he knows supported Trump, because they saw Obama and Hillary sucking up to the Muslims for their votes (assuming the gay vote is already in their pocket) even after the Orlando gay night club massacre by an ISIS supporting Muslim. In this video he says things that right wing Christians would not have been allowed to say. pointing out the very simple fact that all religions ARE NOT the same, and that while Christians (including this one) may disapprove of homosexuality we don’t kill them, and that also it is not an extreme fringe of Muslims who want to kill gays, its mainstream Islam. Watch the BBC interviewer leaning into Milo with typical liberal left assumptions and gall, and watch Milo shred his slogans with hard facts and irrefutable logic.
He has recently been given a large advance on his book ‘Dangerous’, leading to shockingly anti free-speech attacks from the regressive left, as exemplified by the poisonous anti-Milo comments on this Guardian article.
I will probably post more about Milo as events unfold, and I will be praying for him, for him to find Christ but also to avoid an assassin’s bullet. Remember Dutchman Pym Fortuyn, another homosexual libertarian politician who was killed by a leftist for drawing attention to ugly truths about Islam and mass immigration that spoiled’The Narrative’.
Again, this is NOT an endorsement of Milo or any of his views, he can speak for himself. but the phenomenon is VERY interesting during this season of many people rejecting various aspects of the ruling narrative that our bosses including the BBC and most politicians and mainstream media journalists are feeding us.
Hugh Ross’s Reasons to Believe site accepts Theistic Evolution, which I do not, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do some good work. A recent post shows that the habitable zone ( the orbit around a sun) which a planet must occupy for there to be the slightest chance of life surviving, is much narrower than was previously thought.
Amongst the absolute minimum requirements for a planet to be habitable are liquid water and ultraviolet radiation. Too little of the latter and plants can’t grow, too much and DNA is destroyed by the UV. Recent findings by Japanese scientists show that other factors, such as gamma ray bursts from other nearby stars and variation in UV also come into play.
What makes it even worse for the prospects of molecules to man evolution is that the necessary stability of UV intensity must last for billions of years to allow the supposed evolutionary progress to occur.
This is before we even look at the other planetary fine tuning (size of planet, gravity, internal core heat, tidal effects of a ‘just right’ moon, correct spin etc) all of which have to be right there in the Goldilocks zone for life to be just permitted.
All the science points to our planet being a very, very, very improbably ideal place for organic life. Materialists simply assume that this sort of thing happens by chance. There is such a thing as bias in science as in all other fields, and I think it shows here. And the precise disposition of the Earth is but one aspect of cosmic fine tuning.
Psalm 19 tells us that ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God.’
Thanks to Facebook friend Peter Berean for drawing my attention to this short essay about Pascal’s Wager. Read it here. It very nicely amplifies the wager by reflecting that the atheist who dismisses it as merely a crude appeal to self interest should consider that, if an all-wise and perfectly good creator exists, the morally and intellectually correct thing to do would be to honour Him even if no reward or penalty were in the picture.
Blaise Pascal , 1623-1662, was a French Christian and, Like Bertrand Russel, a mathematician and philosopher. He is best known for his Wager, in which he essentially says that since we all have to die, and there is either a God or not (*). As he put it, we have no choice but to bet (agnosticism is not a third option as the ‘agnostic’ is in fact betting on atheism) and our bet will either win or lose, with consequences either way.
Under the terms of his wager, if we bet on there being a God (and of course act as if it were so by sincerely following Christ) then we are either right or wrong. If right, then after death we receive the inestimable benefits of forgiveness of sins, adoption into God’s family, and everlasting happiness. If wrong, then at death the believer passes into nothingness but knows nothing about it. If we are wrong in the other direction, rejecting God although He is there, we find out too late that we were culpably wrong and face full undiluted accountability for every selfish, lazy, cruel, dishonourable act we ever committed, including our ingratitude towards our Maker. Against this, the best the atheist can hope for is annihilation, without even the satisfaction of being proved right.
The Wager has been criticised for making crude appeals to fear and reward (**), and bypassing the issue of evidence. But these criticisms are unfair. Evidence is discussed elsewhere, this was a very clever man with an excellent scientific training and philosophical brain, who was deliberately creating a reductio ab absurdum, reducing a complicated issue down to it’s simplest form in order to concentrate our minds.
A friend once told me about a Christian believer who was dying of a nasty form of cancer. She trusted God despite her agony and impending death. The lady said, with a slight laugh, ‘You know, if we are wrong and there’s no God, we’ll never know a thing about it.’ The atheist however, if he or she is wrong, faces the prospect of an eternity of regret. See John’s Gospel chapter 3, the whole chapter, where we read that although Christ came into the world to save sinners, he who refuses to believe will be condemned, and that (I paraphrase) such unbelief is NOT due to insufficient evidence (see Romans chapter 1 verses 18-22), but rebellion. ‘And this is the condemnation, that the light came into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil so would not come to the light.’ (verse 19).
It seems to me that, given it’s own terms and context, Pascal’s Wager is as valid as ever, certainly more valid than contemptuous retorts about ‘fairy tales’ and ‘imaginary friends’ which people have got from cheap stand up comedians rather than from any sincere process of thought or study. At any rate, Pascal’s voice calls out to us across the centuries to ask us if we can possibly be so insanely unconcerned about our own welfare as to fail to vigorously investigate the facts around Christianity and, unless we can confidently prove it wrong (and demonstrate a better alternative?) accept Christ.
I mean, what is the worst possible thing that could happen as a result of all men and women following Jesus of Nazareth, who told us to love one another?
(*) In context, Pascal was clearly referring to the Christian God, who promises forgiveness of sins, adoption into His family and everlasting joy to believers, and threatens those who finally refuse His command to repent and believe with damnation.
(**) as did Jesus.
I felt moved at this season to write down some reflections on creation and other serious themes in carols. I had been thinking about it for a while but was provoked by a particularly daft secular Christmas song I heard at the gym this morning while working out on the cross trainer.
At 61, I still have strong emotional memories of the Christmases of my childhood more than half a century ago. Many are to do with food, television, family gatherings and presents, but also the traditional songs, religious and secular. I know that many folks in my age group at least who rarely if ever enter a church or read a Bible still have a strong emotional connection with these songs, even occasionally finding a tear or two while watching ‘Carols from King’s’ on Christmas Eve on the TV. But, from an authentic Christian point of view, are these popular carols any good?
Religious Christmas songs are universally described as carols, although this is technically incorrect (see Elizabeth Poston’s introduction to the Penguin Book of Christmas Carols for further discussion on this matter). Poston argues, I think successfully, that many of them, Good King Wenceslas for example, are entirely pagan, and some Christians would say this applies to the whole season and everything that goes with it. C S Lewis wrote 2 essays about the difference between Christmas and ‘Xmas’ which are worth looking up. And, yes, we all know that pagans, atheists and all sorts of people traditionally have midwinter festivals where there is merrymaking, exchange of gifts, lights, greenery brought into the house and celebration that the shortest day has passed. I am not concerned here with those issues. For the purpose of this reflection on ‘Christmas Carols’, let us take the following as read
- Christmas is the biggest and best loved festival in our civilisation and likely to remain so.
- If our fellow humans who are pagans and atheists enjoy a midwinter festival, that doesn’t make it wrong for Christians to do so, thanking our Maker for all good things (including increasing day length after 21st December).
- The precise date of the Incarnation may be disputed or irrelevant, but the historical fact of it is infinitely worthy of public celebration.
- Many people come to church or at least think about Christian things at this time of year, so it’s an opportunity to share what we have-the Good News about Jesus.
- It does us good to be reminded annually of these great things.
So, on to the songs themselves.
In the fitness suite this morning, BBC Radio 1 was on and 2 seasonal songs were played. The first was ‘Frosty the Snowman’ introduced by the DJ as a ‘perfectly good Christmas song’ followed by ‘I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.’ There is a vast amount of secular seasonal music, some of it quite good, e.g. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and some well loved popular songs like ‘White Christmas’, and of course a lot of drivel and egregious nonsense. I have no more to say about secular seasonal music, other than to say there is nothing new about it (as recordings of vulgar medieval Christmas songs celebrating excess like ‘Hey for Christmas’ by groups like The Oxford Waits show).
Of those Christmas seasonal songs which are considered religious, many have stirring melodies, and memorable words, but weak or questionable theology. ‘Good King Wenceslas’ is perhaps the best example of a great tune with very singable and entertaining words and a moral about kindness to the poor, but really (like Santa Claus) nothing to do with the Nativity of Our Lord. ‘We Three Kings’ is another great melody with rather better words, but still inaccurate compared to the Bible narrative. I don’t worry about some creative poetic licence up to a point (nonsense like ‘I Saw Three Ships’ and ‘The Cherry Tree Carol’ are past that point!), but the church I attend doesn’t use this sort of carol in our worship services-there are plenty of better songs about the Incarnation. But I’m very happy singing Wenceslas at public events and listening to them on Classic FM radio. Into this category but a bit further out come songs like The Boar’s Head Carol, ‘Rocking’, ‘Little Donkey’ and ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ although I was surprised to find myself warming to the Christian Forshaw Ensemble’s version of the latter ditty on his album ‘Midwinter’.
But as we move past these quasi-Christian songs, there are some Gospel gems hidden among the populist melodies and lyrics. A lot of these songs were written and popularised before Darwin, at a time when the Bible Creation, Fall, Redemption and Final judgment narrative was more widely accepted as true and some seriously Evangelical words have survived, perhaps because of the popularity of the songs as a whole. Many of us have happy memories of childhood Christmases and songs like ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘O Come all ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ evoke those memories, reminding us of happier times before we had adult responsibilities, decades of relentless materialist propaganda, chronic health problems and money worries.
Several well known carols carry a good overview of the Biblical narrative whereby Christ is foretold as the Redeemer King by Old Testament prophets. These include the 18th century German Carol ‘There is a Rose E’er Blooming’ which references the Isaiah prophecies. ‘See Amid the Winter Snow’ mentions the Saviour ‘..promised from eternal years’ and observes ‘Lo, within a manger lies, He who built the starry skies’
Creation is a relatively common theme in some well known carols, sad to say more common than in many sermons! ‘Angel’s From the Realms of Glory’ references creation and addresses the angels thus ‘You who sang Creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth.’ references creation and atonement in the couplet ‘Who has made Heaven and Earth of naught, and by His blood mankind has bought.’ The modern nativity song ‘The Servant King’ by Graham Kendrick also links creation and atonement with the line about ‘hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered.’
Some carols have been Bowdlerised to avoid offending modern sensibilities. One of our best loved carols, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ has a verse not often used which asks ‘Bruise in us the serpent’s head’ a clear reference to the Saviour promised in Genesis 3 immediately after the Fall of man.
The whole creation, Fall and redemption narrative is told in the full version of ‘This is the Truth from God Above’ a carol occasionally heard in a shortened form, the 2 verses about the eating of the forbidden fruit being omitted. This is particularly inappropriate as the line ‘Woman was made with man to dwell’ is thus followed by the line ‘Thus we were heir to endless woes.’ The missing intervening verses explain the cause of the woes, Adam’s treasonous and ungrateful act of disobedience.
Traditionally, the Church season of Advent which runs from 1st December to Christmas Day, is supposed to be a season of fasting and reflection on ‘the four last things’, namely death, judgment, heaven and hell. Most people today don’t even know what the word ‘advent’ means and basically ‘the festive season’ is about shopping and celebration, with the nearest thing to a noble aspiration seeing forgotten family members and perhaps sparing a tenner for a homelessness charity. However, buried in popular carols, some well known and others forgotten, are some very thoughtful lyrics. We should explore and celebrate this part of our cultural heritage, however imperfect the whole business of ‘Xmas’ may be. And maybe some old carols need to be revived and some new ones written. I am going to see if I can find a friend or 2 who would like to busk some Evangelical carols around Southampton and district next December!
Of the newer carols, Stuart Townsend’s ‘From the Squalour of a Borrowed Stable’ stands out for me. Unlike many contemporary Christian songwriters, Townend is not afraid to warn his hearers of the wrath to come. Like some of the better, older seasonal songs, it links the Nativity with the Atonement and coming Judgment. And we need to do this. If we only proclaim ‘Gentle Jesus Meek Mild’ then we are not warning our fellow sinners of their need of repentance in view of the wrath to come. And we should, we should.
More peer review evidence that the sexual revolution is destroying its children. It is no wonder that Islam is growing in strength and numbers.
This film is 3 years old but I’ve just seen it, and it’s central premise and action fits one of the main thrusts of this blog: that we are being constantly bombarded with evolutionist propaganda. A very decent summary is on Wikipedia
Basically, a crew of brave scientists make a long and dangerous journey to the moon Europa, where they find life. The rest is detail. The final voice over/sermon reflects on how the brave scientists sacrificed themselves to prove there was extra terrestrial life, that ‘..the universe was so much more complicated than we thought…’
From a filmic point of view, a very decent effort with dollops of Solaris, Forbidden Planet, 2001 a Space Odessy, Alien and The Blair Witch Project. Very realistic too. But in the end, the idea that life will be found on other worlds, because life is assumed to appear spontaneously, is the main message. And it’s a lie. Life is only found where it is created. We know that under conditions found on Earth, life can’t create itself, so given materialist assumptions (necessary for a godless world view) life must have self assembled somewhere else.
A very similar set of assumptions lie under the surface of ‘Interstellar’, reviewed her previously. A huge amount of energy is put into sustaining the fiction that, given liquid water and time, life will spontaneously emerge without a Creator. Ask yourself, Why?
Castro killed and tyrannised as an absolute dictator, rather like Pinochet. The response to the 2 tyrants deaths has been rather different. There was a nauseating eulogy to him on Radio 4 this morning from a Guardian journalist ‘Oh there were hardly any executions, and they were Batista supporters, and it was a long time ago…’
Well now the old Stalinist mass murderer has to meet his Maker, to give account. As we all must, come our appointed time.