Hungary Becomes the First Country to Officially Defend Christians Persecuted by ISIS

Some good news coming out of my former home, Hungary, this week:

This week, Hungary, which has during the past year come under pressure for its handling of Europe’s mass migration crisis, has become the first government to open an office specifically to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe.

“Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four of them are Christians,” Catholic News Agency (CNA) quoted Hungary’s Minister for Human Resources, Zoltan Balog, as saying. “In 81 countries around the world, Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.”

I’m glad to see someone standing up for these persecuted Christians in the Middle East. It’s about time. Good on you, Hungary!

For the article about it in Christianity Today, click here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/september/first-country-to-officially-defend-christians-persecuted-by.html

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Why Studying Church History is Important

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Something we’ve started recently at White Fields is a series of classes we’re calling: School of Ministry and Discipleship.

The idea is that have started offering a series of 5-week Christian education classes on various topics in a classroom setting. I like to think of it as Bible college for people who don’t have time to go to Bible college.

We ran a test of this last spring, learned a few things, and are ready to start again with our first 3 classes: Christianity 101 and Church History: Parts 1 & 2.

Interestingly, the Gospel Coalition just put out an article this week titled: The Role of History in Reclaiming the Christian Mind.

Here’s an excerpt:

“One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is a mostly ahistorical approach to theology and praxis. As evangelicals, we appeal to the supreme authority of Scripture, and rightly so. But we don’t read our Bibles in a vacuum.”

Understanding God’s working in and through the church over the past 2000 years, as well as how Christianity developed in doctrine and practice is important for us as Christians today. For me, studying Christian History was one of the most enriching and enlightening parts of going to seminary, and I hope to share some of that with other people.

If you live near Longmont and would be interested in attending these free classes, they will be held on Sundays at noon starting April 3.

For more information or to sign up, click HERE.

 

A Seal from King Hezekiah found in Jerusalem by Archaeologists

CNN posted this today, that a seal from King Hezekiah has been discovered by archaeologists in Jerusalem.

Here’s an excerpt:

It is believed to be the first-ever seal — also referred to as a “bulla” — from an Israeli or Judean King to be discovered by archaeologists.

“The seal of the king was so important. It could have been a matter of life or death, so it’s hard to believe that anyone else had the permission to use the seal,” Eilat Mazar, who directs excavations at the City of David’s summit, told CNN.

“Therefore, it’s very reasonable to assume we are talking about an impression made by the King himself, using his own ring.

“This the greatest single item I have ever found,” added Mazar — a third generation archaeologist.

Archaeology continues to confirm the trustworthiness and historicity of the Bible.

As king of Judah, Hezekiah enacted reforms and brought the people back to the worship of Yahweh and put an end to the worship of idols in the temple.

You can read about the reign of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20 as well as 2 Chronicles 29-32 and Isaiah 36-39.

The Rise of Christianity in China

I read this interesting report from the Financial Times on the rise of Christianity in China.

Here are some highlights:

There are now about 100 million Christians in the world’s most populous nation, eclipsing the 86.7 million-strong membership of the ruling Communist party.

Christianity (particularly the Protestant variety) has been the big winner in the competition for Chinese souls. If it continues to spread at its current pace, the country is very likely to be home to the world’s largest Christian population within the next 15 years.

“By 2030, China will almost certainly have more Christians than any other country and the Communist party is very alarmed,” says Fenggang Yang, director of the centre on religion and Chinese society at Purdue University. “Chinese officials often cite the experience of Poland, where they believe the Catholic Church helped destroy communism and, although the two situations are not really comparable, the party still sees Christianity as a very serious threat that it needs to suppress.”

The truth is that, as this article reports, for all the news of the decline of Christianity in Europe, Christianity is still spreading quickly around the world, particularly in the developing world. These are exciting times!

Christians and the Gay Debate

Perhaps the biggest issue facing how people view Christians and Christianity in our society has been and will continue to be homosexuality.

An ever increasing percentage of the population – including many Christians – believe that homosexuals should be allowed to legally marry, and it seems that it is only a matter of time before gay marriage is legalized in every state. Yesterday Montana became the latest state to legalize it. Other countries have already done it. This brings up a lot of questions for churches and private parties who rent out facilities for weddings and for ministers who officiate weddings as to what will happen if they refuse to participate in gay weddings out of moral obligation.

Needless to say, there is increasing pressure for Christians to change the view held by Christians for 2000 years regarding homosexual practice.

This article is one of the best informed and best thought-out pieces on this topic that I have come across. It’s worth the read:

Tragedy, Tradition and Opportunity in the Homosexual Debate

 

 

Opinion Article in Longmont Times-Call Advocates that Fertilized Eggs are Human

I was surprised to see today that the Longmont Times-Call posted an opinion article by a Longmont resident on the topic of when an unborn child becomes a true person – since this is a controversial topic which is very much at the heart of debates over abortion and human rights.

I was even more surprised when I realized that the article was advocating for seeing fertilized eggs as fully human – not what I had expected to find when I saw the title of the article.

The author, Brad Jolly, is writing in response to atheist doctor Richard Juday, who believes that humanness develops over time.

Check out the article – I found it surprisingly refreshing, especially that it appeared here in the local paper: http://www.timescall.com/columnists/opinion-local/ci_26964706/brad-jolly-fertilized-human-eggs-are-human

Thank you Longmont Times-Call for representing a broad spectrum of viewpoints!

Boulder County clerk to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Boulder County clerk to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Same-sex marriage has made it’s way to Colorado, and unsurprisingly, the first place it will begin is right here in Boulder County.

Boulder County will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses immediately, County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall announced Wednesday afternoon.

The action was in response to the 10th Circuit U.S. Appellate Court ruling earlier in the day that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

There are a lot of opinions out there, even amongst Christians, as to what our stand on this should be.

Earlier this week, a Methodist pastor, who had been defrocked for going against church regulations and officiating his son’s wedding to another man, was reinstated.

Some Christians might say: Who cares? If homosexuals want to get married, why should I care?  There are plenty of things that are legal, but are not in accordance with God’s will or desires. It doesn’t affect me – I’m just trying to follow Jesus.  

My guess is that this is the majority opinion amongst most in the younger generation.

Others might say: Our laws shape our society’s understandings of what is acceptable and normative. Redefining marriage is bad for our society.

Here’s one thing I noticed: on social media there’s tons of praise for this. That doesn’t mean that everybody is in favor of it – it means that those who don’t like it are less and less willing to speak up and voice their opinion, because they know the kind of backlash that will come upon them if they do.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

How Does Marriage Affect Violence Against Women and Children?

How Does Marriage Affect Violence Against Women and Children?

This article in the Washington Post this week showed that statistically, women and children in married families suffer far less domestic violence than those in other situations.

Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.

As Christians, one of the best things we can do for society is to uphold and promote strong biblical ethics.

Scientists flying over Colorado oil boom find worse air pollution

Scientists flying over Colorado oil boom find worse air pollution

This article from the Denver Post claims that “scientists have found that Colorado’s Front Range oil and gas boom has been emitting three times more methane than previously believed — 19.3 tons an hour.”

A friend of mine had this to say about it: “Maybe if these companies spent as much money on being ‘clean’ as they did on advertisements telling us ‘it’s safe,’ it would actually be safe.”

I certainly have noticed a huge push in media advertisements from oil companies claiming that fracking is safe – radio and television ads, not to mention internet marketing and mass mailers.

What are your thoughts on fracking? Do you think that environmentalists are making a big deal about something which could potentially be a great thing for our nation?

I like the idea of energy independence; I think the US should pursue it.  At the same time, I’m glad to live in Longmont, where fracking has been banned. I like clean air and clean water and the whole fracking experiment seems risky to me.

It seems hard to get truly objective information on the risks of fracking. Even the information that is put out about how safe and environmentally friendly it is seems to be from those who stand to benefit from it financially.

Please let me know your thoughts on fracking below in the comments section.