Catholic & Church of England Clergy Welcomes Islam in Church, Then Bows to It

Islam vs. Christianity
Last July, for the first time during a Mass in Italy, a verse of the Koran was recited from the altar.
 
A priest in the south of Italy enraged parishioners by dressing the Virgin Mary in a Muslim burqa for his church’s Christmas Nativity scene. These interfaith initiatives are based on the gradual elimination of the Western-Christian heritage in favor of Islam.
 
 

The Catholic clergy is probably disoriented by Pope Francis himself; he was the first to allow the reading of Islamic prayers and Koran readings from the Vatican.
 
 

The Pope embraced religious relativism when it comes with Islam. He repeated that Islamist violence is the work of “a small group of fundamentalists” who, according to him, have nothing to do with Islam.
 
 

Church of England Bishop Harries suggested that Prince Charles’s coronation service should be opened with a Koran reading. In the US, more than 50 churches, including the Washington National Cathedral, hold Koran readings. Is there any reading of the Christian liturgy in mosques?
 
 

How is it that so few Christian leaders have raised their voices against this unprecedented attack on a Christian monument? Have they organized so many Koran readings in their own churches so that they now view it as normal to convert a church into a mosque?
 
 

Would it not be better for the Catholic Church to establish a real dialogue with the Islamic communities based on principles such as reciprocity (if you build mosques in Europe, we build churches in the Middle East), protection of Christian minorities in the Crescent and theological repudiation of jihad against “infidels”?


There is a disturbing and growing trend in Italy and Europe.

For the first time in more than 700 years, Islamic songs resonated in Florence’s Cathedral, the Church Santa Maria del Fiore. Under the famous Dome of Brunelleschi, Islamic melodies accompanied Christian ones. The “interfaith initiative” was promoted a week after the barbaric massacre by Islamist terrorists in Paris at the magazine Charlie Hebdo, and included “Koran is Justice” and other such “hymns”.

A priest in the south of Italy then enraged parishioners by dressing the Virgin Mary in a Muslim burqa for his church’s Christmas nativity scene. The pastor of the parish of Saints Joachim and Anne in Potenza, Father Franco Corbo, said that he had the special crèche constructed “in the name of dialogue among religions”. These interfaith initiatives are based on the gradual elimination of the Western-Christian heritage in favor of Islam.

Another priest in Italy also eliminated the Christmas nativity scene at the local cemetery because “it could offend Muslims”. Father Sante Braggiè said there would be no crib in the cemetery in the northern city of Cremona because it may anger people of others faiths or people whose relatives are not buried there:

“A small corner of the cemetery is reserved for Muslim graves. A crib positioned within sight of them could be seen as a lack of respect for followers of other faiths, hurt the sensibilities of Muslims, as well as Indians and even atheists”.

In Rebbio, the Italian parish church of St. Martin was preparing the end of Mass. Suddenly a veiled woman, Nour Fayad, took the floor and read the verses of the Koran which announce the birth of Christ. The initiative was intended by the priest, Don Giusto della Valle, as “a gesture of dialogue”.

In Rozano, near Milan, headmaster Marco Parma, then scrapped his school’s Christmas carol concert: he decided to ban traditional festivities at Garofani school, “to cause no offence”.

In July, for the first time during a Mass in Italy, a verse of the Koran was recited from the altar. It happened in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, during a ceremony in memory of Father Jacques Hamel, who was slaughtered by ISIS terrorists in France. While Catholics recited the Creed, a delegate of the mosque of al Azhar Mosque in Cairo softly repeated an “Islamic prayer for peace”.

Imam Sali Salem recites a verse from the Koran in Rome's Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, on July 31, 2016. (Image source: La Stampa video screenshot)

The Catholic clergy is probably disoriented by Pope Francis himself, who was the first to allow the reading of Islamic prayers and Koran readings from the world’s most important Catholic facility. It happened when Pope Francis met with late Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Vatican City, a gathering designed “to pray for Middle Eastern peace”.

Since he was elected Pontiff, Francis has spent a lot of time in mosques. He has visited many Islamic places of worship abroad, as in Turkey and in the Central African Republic, but he was also willing to become the first Pope to visit the Grand Mosque in Rome.

When it comes to Islam, the Pope embraces religious relativism. He repeated that Islamist violence is the work of “a small group of fundamentalists” who, according to him, have nothing to do with Islam. When asked why he did not speak of Islamic violence, the Pope replied, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence”, even though one would be hard-pressed at this time to find any priests, nuns or other Catholics planting bombs anyplace in the name of Jesus Christ.

This trend goes beyond Italy. In the UK, Bishop Harries suggested that Prince Charles’s coronation service should open with a reading from the Koran. In the US, more than 50 churches, including the Washington National Cathedral, hold Koran readings. The head of the Protestant Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, has also called for Islam to be taught in state schools. Is there any reading of the Christian liturgy in the mosques?

These interfaith shows also seem to be making us blind to more disturbing readings of the Koran in Christian churches, such as the one that recently took place in Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia: for the first time in 85 years, Turkish Muslims read an Islamic text inside the Christianity’s most beautiful Eastern church. Their goal, as attested by bills submitted to Turkey’s parliament, is clear: Islamizing the church, which had been used as a museum since 1935.

INTERFAITH = SILENCED CHRISTIANS

TOLERANCE OR GAGGING?

Christian silence is less clear: how is it that so few Christian leaders raised their voice against this unprecedented attack on a Christian monument? Have they organized so many Koran readings in their own churches so that they now view it as normal to convert a church into a mosque?

After a terror attack in a church in Normandy last July, the Christian clergy opened the doors of their churches to Muslims. This gesture was welcomed as a turning point in the relation between the two religions. But from a population of six million Muslims in France, only a few hundred Muslims participated. Was their attendance really representative of Islamic public opinion?

These well-intended gestures might look like an interfaith gain, but are in fact an ecumenical loss. Would it not be better for the heads of the Catholic Church to establish a real dialogue with the Islamic communities, based on principles such as reciprocity (if you build mosques in Europe, we build churches in the Middle East), protection of Christian minorities in the Crescent and theological repudiation of jihad against “infidels”?

To the Catholic clergy who opened the door of Florence’s Cathedral to Islam, Muslims will next suggest removing a painting in the basilica: Domenico di Michelino’s “Dante and the Divine Comedy”.

For Muslim extremists, Dante is guilty of “blasphemy”: he included Mohammed in his poetic Hell. The Islamic State does not make a secret of its willingness to strike Dante’s tomb in Italy.

Other sites on ISIS’s list include St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna, both of which portray scenes from the Divine Comedy.

A fantasy?

Not at all.

The Italian human rights organization Gherush92, which advises UN bodies on human rights, already asked to have Dante removed from school curricula because supposedly it is “Islamophobic“.

In this new interfaith “correctness”, only Islam gains. Christians have everything to lose.

Date Stamp: 2017, January 4. | Time Stamp: 05:30 am  | Written By:  Giulio Meotti | Original Source: gatestoneinstitute.org | Article Heading: Christian Clergy Welcomes Islam in Church, Then Bows to It

Well-Known Evangelical Leader Now Embraces Gay Marriage — but Critics Claim His Announcement Is Missing Something Profound.

No Gay Marriage Button

A well-known progressive pastor who is in the headlines after announcing his support for the inclusion of same-sex couples in American churches is being accused by some of his fellow faith leaders of abandoning scripture by green-lighting committed homosexual relationships without offering any specific biblical corroboration.

Tony Campolo (Twitter via Tony Campolo)

Tony Campolo, a left-leaning preacher and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, previously taught that the Bible precludes homosexuality, though he reversed his opposition to same-sex marriage in a post published on his website earlier this week.In a statement, Campolo said that he has been “ambiguous” on sexuality over the years, as he’s been “uncertain about what was right,” but that he now has a different view when it comes to welcoming into the fold gay and lesbian couples who have committed to one another.

It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the church,” he said in the statement. “For me, the most important part of that process was answering a more fundamental question: What is the point of marriage in the first place?

Campolo said that there is a spiritual dimension when it comes to marriage, and that the institution should be “primarily about spiritual growth.

He credited his own wife, Peggy, with helping him get to know gay couples who have relationships similar to theirs — a key factor in transforming his views on the matter.

Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end. We in the Church should actively support such families,he said. “Furthermore, we should be doing all we can to reach, comfort and include all those precious children of God who have been wrongly led to believe that they are mistakes or just not good enough for God, simply because they are not straight.”

Despite his open embrace and change-of-heart, Campolo said he’s open to being wrong, though he mentioned issues like keeping women out of teaching roles and slavery that he said people once used the Bible to tout.

Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong,he said of those who condoned slavery. “I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.

Campolo had, in the past, taken a more conservative view on homosexuality, writing in a 1999 piece for Sojourners — a publication of the Christian left — that the Bible bans same-sex relations.

I believe that the Bible does not allow for same-gender sexual intercourse or marriage. Peggy believes that within the framework of evangelical Christianity, monogamous gay marriages are permissible,
Campolo wrote, describing his previous disagreement with his wife. 

 Each of us is an evangelical with a high view of scripture. We believe in the doctrines outlined in the Apostles Creed, and know that to be a Christian is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President: Albert Mohler

mohler-about-imageBut, as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler pointed out, Campolo’s past statements about slavery, among other issues, appear to contrast deeply with what he said in his most recent release on same-sex relationships.

During a speech at Calvin College back in 1999, Campolo reportedly proclaimed that the church has shunned homosexuality for 2,000 years and that no issue, including female leadership and slavery, was ever spoken about from a biblical perspective in such unison.

So, with his most recent embrace of same-sex relations, it’s no surprise that some, like Mohler, are speaking out against Campolo’s flip-flop.

Mohler recently said on his podcast, “The Briefing,” that he, among many others, wasn’t surprised by Campolo’s new view, considering his progressive ideology, and that this isn’t the first time that Campolo has been at the center of debate over a contentious issue.

Tony Campolo says that he’s identified his entire life, since his conversion that is, as an evangelical and that he has in terms of the label, but he’s also identified himself very much on the evangelical left and he’s been involved in controversies with other evangelicals for most of that time as well,” Mohler said. “Controversies over the inerrancy of Scripture, controversies over the exclusivity of the gospel, controversies over any number of issues.

The Baptist leader also took aim at the fact that Campolo offered no “serious engagement with scripture” in his release stating his newfound views, though he pointed to the fact that Campolo has, indeed, pointed to scripture when voicing his past opposition to homosexuality.

 
“To put the matter bluntly, Tony Campolo was right then and he’s wrong now,” Mohler said.

Others, too, have piled on. In an open letter to Campolo, Pastor David Robertson of St.Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, United Kingdom, decried the lack of scripture in Campolo’s statement announcing new newfound stance; he also doubted Campolo’s sincerity.

Pastor David Robertson of St.Peter’s Free Church, Dundee UK

David RobertsonI’m sorry but I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that you ever believed that marriage was just about procreation. I don’t believe that you’ve only known gay couples for the last couple of years. I don’t believe that these arguments which you have known about for years caused you to change your mind in the past couple of months,he wrote.

The truth is that for years you have accepted homosexual relationships and SSM and when you said you didn’t you were I’m afraid being ‘economical with the truth’.


Former Christianity Today editor David Neff

DNeff-mug-for-CH-9_14b-e1415150096318-225x300Campolo’s announcement may not be all that surprising in itself, but it has led to come other discussions and debates as well, including former Christianity Today editor David Neff’s praise for Campolo’s view — a development that startled some.

I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnershipsNeff told his former outlet. “I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Christianity Today editor Mark Galli

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-18 21:08:58Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com

Current Christianity Today editor Mark Galli responded to these comments by claiming that the outlet is “saddened.”

At CT, we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion. Saddened because we firmly believe that the Bible teaches that God intends the most intimate of covenant relationships to be enjoyed exclusively by a man and a woman,he wrote. “We’ve stated this view explicitly in many editorials, and it is implicit but clear in many of our feature stories.

Blogger Kimberly Wright

k wrightOn the flip side, blogger Kimberly Wright, a progressive Christian, doesn’t feel as though Campolo’s statement goes far enough to include all gays, lesbians and transgender individuals, as it speaks mainly of gay Christians who have embraced a commitment to one another.

For a man of words, the words in his statement seem very carefully chosen,” she said. “As such, they do not indicate full inclusion, they do not leave room for queer folks who are single/dating, they do not leave room for queer seekers, they do not indicate affirmation of bisexual or transgender people.

The issue of homosexuality continues to be debated in evangelical circles. While Campolo and some others have come forward in support, most evangelical churches do not welcome gays as lesbians as members or leaders.

Campolo’s announcement comes as Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City — arguably among the most well-known and respected theologians — offered a detailed defense of traditional marriage, with the Rev. Franklin Graham also speaking out against same-sex unions.

Front page image via Shutterstock.com. Jun. 10, 2015 2:16pm Billy Hallowell | Source:  theblaze.com "Well-Known Evangelical Leader Now Embraces Gay Marriage — but Critics Claim His Announcement Is Missing Something Profound"

Franklin Graham Responds to Presbyterian Church’s Apostasy

Profile: Franklin Graham (03)

The Apostate Presbyterian church USA:

It wasn’t really surprising when the Presbyterian church USA moved to fully embrace same-sex marriage by changing the wording of its constitution earlier this week. But the fallout could be wider than first believed.

Reuters reported how the move threatens to “further splinter one of the largest U.S. mainline Protestant denominations. Religion News Service seems to believe mainline Protestants are solidifying gay marriage support. And just weeks ago, controversial former pastor Rob Bell flat out told Oprah Winfrey that the church is “moments away from embracing” gay marriage.

You can hear the gay rights drum beat, and it’s getting louder. Thankfully, Franklin Graham is beating a different drum.

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a ‘commitment between two people,’ becoming the largest Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage and allow same-sex weddings in congregations,” Graham wrote on his Facebook page.

“In His Word, the Bible, God has already defined marriage, as well as sin, and we should obey that rather than looking for ways to redefine it according to the desires of our culture. Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman—end of discussion. Anything else is a sin against God, and He will judge all sin one day.”

3/20/2015 Jennifer Leclaire | Original Source: charismanews.com "Franklin Graham Responds to Presbyterian Church’s Apostasy."

Images of Apostates: From Faith to Reason – Former Pentecostal Mega Church Pastor

Book Cover: Faith to Reason
My change from a Fundamentalist Christian to a Rationalist, Realist, Skeptic and Atheist

Quote: Brian Baker January 16, 2010, 4:01 pm

by Brian Baker
My own sexuality had haunted me for much of my life:

brian-baker-01

ex Ps. Brian Baker

At school I was attracted to guys also during my two years National Service in the British Army although my sexual activity with those guys was very limited. This was back in 1954-1956 and there was virtually no one available to give advice or counsel to young men or women who had questions concerning their sexuality.

The very few times I asked questions of older friends or others I was told that it was just a phase which would pass – I would grow out of it – or all I needed was a good woman! The professional opinion at the time was largely that Homosexuality was a mental disorder and that the only ‘cure’ available was usually ‘electric shock treatment’ or a prolonged period in a Mental Institution.

Neither option was appealing to me! It is also important to remember that same-sex relationships were illegal and many caught engaging in such activity in a public place were sent to prison.

I took the accepted course which was to be married:

I was just 21 and a virgin never having had ‘real sex’ with either gender – I married the girl I had been friends with for about two years. We did produce two children but there was never the passion which I was sure should exist between two people in a sexual relationship. I concluded that my wife was frigid but most likely I was just lacking enthusiasm as I still had private fantasies about having sex with guys.

We divorced after almost seven years and for the first year my ex-wife had care of the children. I had no plans to marry again and began to investigate and indulge my gay desires in very ‘vanilla’ sex on occasional visits to London. I had a business in Kent about an hour south of the City. As far as I knew there were no Gay clubs or Saunas in London at the time, no doubt there were but without the existence of magazines such as Gay Times there was very little information available. I found just two Gay Pubs which were in Earl’s Court but I was usually very reluctant to accompany strangers to their homes.

My plans to remain single and to seek a gay friend or friends came to an abrupt end when my ex-wife asked me to have the children as she and her new partner had been offered work overseas:

I had been unhappy about the children each time I had visited them. They clung to me and there was always an emotional time when I had to leave them. I decided that I had to then take full care of them – my son then aged 7 and my daughter aged 5. I realised that it would be almost impossible for me to look after them adequately without help – my business was growing and required my full time attention. I moved from my small apartment and bought a house in the country with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

I advertised in ‘The Lady’ Magazine for a housekeeper and carer for us all. After numerous responses to my advertisement I found the perfect answer to my problem – an attractive Lady, also recently divorced with a 4 year old daughter, she was also a qualified nurse and we immediately got on very well together. After just six weeks we decided to get married and at first the relationship went well – even the sexual part was so much better than I had previously experienced. One year later and our baby boy arrived and for a while we continued to enjoy life as a family.

Without going into all the details, just five years later in we were ready to divorce:

It was at this time that some old school friends and their wives came to counsel us and encouraged us to go with them to their Church of England Church. This was something I had previously decided never to do as I had been turned off Christianity by my years of attending a Cathedral School. Unfortunately we were both in a very vulnerable and emotional state by this time and we were desperately seeking a way out of our problems.

Suddenly we were encouraged and promised that if we made the decision to be ‘Born Again’ we could start a new life together. We responded and after just a few weeks decided that we would sell everything – our business and home and emigrate to start a new life in New Zealand.

We bought a farm property with ocean and river frontages and decided we would use it possibly as a Christian ‘retreat’ or similar:

We immediately became involved with the work of the ministry in a local Pentecostal church and used our property for Youth meetings and activities every week and virtually worked as full time unpaid ministers assisting the Pastor. We were seeking to know more and wanted to have qualifications to become ministers and possibly to have our own church.

After five years or so in New Zealand we moved to Tulsa Oklahoma as we were accepted as students to attend Rhema Bible Training Centre there.

After Graduation we moved to Perth as we believed that ‘the Lord’ told us to go there to begin a new work. During all this time I completely suppressed my homosexual tendencies. I had been told that God would deal with any problem and although I had been ‘delivered’ and spent much time in prayer and fasting – the thoughts were still there.

In Perth we began our ministry in a small hall but within a few months our congregation had grown to over 100 attending our Sunday morning service:

riverview

the building

We moved and leased a building which would hold 300-400 – again within a year or so we had to move to another building to accommodate 1000+ people. Finally another move to a building to cope with the 2000-3000 then attending. This was the largest single congregation in Perth and one of the largest five in Australia at the time.

In 1989 our marriage was failing and my wife wanted to leave the ministry and the marriage – this was a difficult and sad time for us all and I decided to resign from the church and handed over the work to my son who had also attended Rhema with us in USA and had worked with us for several years. He was a popular and respected teacher in our Bible Training Centre.

It was incorrectly stated in an article in the West Australia that my marriage had ended as I had ‘confessed to my son that I was homosexual:

phil-baker

Phil Baker

Yes – I told my son [Philip] about my homosexuality a few years after I had resigned but it was never a factor or the cause of the divorce and he had not said that it was. I received an apology from the West Australian for this assumption.

After my resignation I came to terms with my sexuality and decided that I should spend the rest of my life (then aged 53) living how I wanted to live rather than how others thought I should live! I do not make an issue of my sexuality either in my day to day life or in my book “From Faith to Reason” which I published last year – I did not want the book to be primarily judged on the basis of my sexual preferences. My book is entirely about my change during the past years from a Fundamentalist Christian to a rationalist, realist, skeptic and an atheist – my sexuality had very little to do with this.

I am happy to say that during the past 10-15 years I have enjoyed the most personal peace than I had at any other period of my life:

If you are Christian and still have questions or concerns about guilt, condemnation or judgement which may have been used to persuade you turn from your homosexual desires, I suggest that you seriously question the reality and evidence for your faith. I hope that my story will help others especially those who have struggled with their sexuality and the condemnation they may have received from their church or Christian friends.

by Brian Baker  January 27, 2010 | Original Source: freedom2b.org "From Faith to Reason - Former Pentecostal Mega Church Pastor"

Related Links:

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» Brian Baker book review by Carl Wieland – Faith to Reason

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Brian Baker book review – Faith to Reason

Book Cover: Faith to Reason

Justifying apostasy: A formerly well-known Australian pastor goes off the rails—and tries to persuade others to follow. A review of From Faith to Reason, by Brian Baker.

by Carl Wieland
Brian Baker’s book From Faith to Reason might not rate as highly on the Christian ‘Richter scale’ as the famous evangelist Charles Templeton’s book Farewell to God, which documents his slide into unbelief in his later life. But Baker’s declaration of his total rejection of Christianity is nonetheless written by the former pastor of one of Australia’s biggest churches—surely enough to make one sit up and take notice.

1984-BrianBaker

Former Pastor Brian Baker, c. 1984

The back cover blurb promises us that we will find inside the “reasons why this former dedicated Christian Fundamentalist has not only now found personal peace but has changed into a Rationalist, Realist, Skeptic and Atheist.”

We were first alerted to the book via an article in a newspaper published in Perth, Western Australia, the home of the Pentecostal-style church that Baker founded. The book claims to provide the “truth that will set us free”, as it has allegedly done for its author, and to set us on the path to personal peace, which Baker says he has now found. This ‘truth’ is that all holy books (but especially the Bible) are simply the concoctions of human beings, and that there is no afterlife, no heaven, and especially no hell.

Evolution the foundational rationale for unbelief

The book’s subtitle (“Did God create mankind or did mankind create God?”) already suggests that Baker will, like Templeton, be majoring on evolution as his ‘reason’ for unbelief. Not that this is particularly surprising, in one sense. If one is seeking to evade accountability to one’s Creator, denying the reality that He created is certainly useful. Evolution (of one sort or another) provides the perfect rationale for this—in fact the only rationale, since the denial of divine creation requires the world to make itself, which is what evolution (Darwinian, pre-Darwinian, or whatever is to come) is ultimately all about.

Sure enough, following the briefest of introductions, the book’s first chapter is titled “How did we get here? Did God do it?” And on the second page already, he states:

“Almost daily, scientific knowledge brings us increasing proof of our origins. Evolution is surely no longer a ‘theory’ but a fact.”

Most of the chapter, however, does not even attempt a reasoned (or any) argument from science. It is largely a diatribe against what is written in the Bible’s first book, and not a particularly high quality diatribe at that. He quotes big slabs of Genesis without comment, followed by what seems to be his ‘best shot’, surprisingly—namely that there are “other creation myths”. Following this, he cites David Attenborough’s classic comments that wonder rhetorically how God creating nasty things (like the parasitic worm that causes blindness) could fit well with a God of mercy, etc. 
If one is seeking to evade accountability to one’s Creator, denying the reality that He created is certainly useful.

Baker’s ultrabrief foray, without elaboration, into this argument from ‘natural evil’ doesn’t once mention that the Fall gives the basis for a reasoned explanation of the ‘bad things’ in the world alongside the good.

Millions of years = no Fall/Curse

This evasion of the biblical Creation/Fall/Restoration framework may actually reflect something else, something which, if the link has been accurately diagnosed, highlights the dangers of flirting with compromise. I refer to the fact that the church he founded has for many years now had a strong movement/element within the hierarchy which, well-meaning or otherwise, has insisted on strongly promoting the ‘progressive creationist’ views of Dr Hugh Ross. These are the subject of the entire classic book Refuting Compromise, which demonstrates their serious implications for biblical authority.

This Rossist belief system, while rejecting biological evolution, totally accepts the ‘millions of years’ and the alleged order of events on the so-called ‘geological timescale’. Obviously, that means that the fossils are millions of years old, something which Baker emphasizes in this present book. But fossils show death, disease (including parasites), bloodshed and suffering. So that means that a Rossist view must have such ‘bad things’ in the world millions of years before people. And this completely eliminates any way of using the Fall to explain them. Such ‘natural evils’ must therefore reflect something God willed to be that way for millions of years, which impinges on His character. It may be no surprise then that Baker is able to present Attenborough’s ‘natural evil’ argument while seemingly oblivious to the Fall.

In the last chapter, Baker gives some personal details of his journey from faith, including mention of his relationship with the church he once led. It is hard not to discern within this somewhat odd chapter some considerable personal bitterness. According to Baker, his own son, who succeeded him in the senior pastor’s role, later voted to cut off a previously agreed stipend. This and other detail provided seems to go much further than needed—but not far enough to stop one wondering whether Baker is being completely forthright as far as the reasons for his abandoning the ministry (prior to his ‘atheistic conversion’) are concerned. One is left thinking that this radical shift in ideology was likely driven by something much more than just ‘reason’, as he would have us believe.

If everything just evolved, then there is no such thing as sin, and no fear of eternal consequences.
Of course, that is in a sense a moot point, since Scripture assures us that at one level, we all know that there is a God, and that we are accountable to Him. So, a heart rebellion against God is always, deep down, going to be the primary motivator for unbelief. Evolution is the key ‘excuse’, the rationalization for sin.1 Such rationalization (justification) could even lead to a form of ‘peace’ as claimed. For example, if there has been a conflict raging between sin and conscience, one way to still the latter is to rationalize away the former. If everything just evolved, then there is no such thing as sin, and no fear of eternal consequences.

Most of the rest of the book, i.e. everything in between the first and last chapters, would be hard to distinguish from the average ‘village atheist’ rant against God, Christianity and the Bible. What makes it a little different is the author’s background as a ‘successful’ pastor and church-builder, and the way that he repeatedly gives Genesis a serve—and not on scientific grounds, either. It’s clear that the book of beginnings—and particularly the account of the origin of sin, and God’s judgments on sin—gets special attention, and not on scientific grounds, either, as intimated earlier. Many of his arguments are of the sort that try to challenge God’s reasons for doing things. The implication is that the average person, and certainly Baker, would do things much more wisely and reasonably than God—for example, Baker would not have permitted the drama in the Garden of Eden in the first instance.

Looking at his selection of ‘recommended reading’ at the end, topped by Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, it’s not hard to see where he found the material, or at least the inspiration, to portray God as committing “crimes against humanity”, along with a list of His alleged characteristics. These are expressed in particularly hateful language, echoing Dawkins. God, described here variously as “schizophrenic”, “sadistic”, “hypocritical” and more, is said by Baker to have unleashed His “killer instinct” at the time of the Flood by destroying most of humanity. One could emulate the Apostle Paul by bringing up the relative rights of potters and clay, the fact that all are under a death sentence anyway, and so on—but one expects that a senior pastor would have been aware of all that. This makes his omission of these (and many other) sound explanations to counter his own seething-with-hostility comments more culpable, if anything.

The book has somewhat more than the usual number of typos and grammatical issues, though these could reasonably be excused given that it seems a solo publishing effort. But it is not the highest quality in its level of argumentation, either. For example, he repeats the old canard that apart from the Gospels, there is no historical evidence that Jesus even existed(!)2

Baker also claims that God utilizing a rainbow as a sign of His covenant with Noah was impossible, since it implies no rain prior to that time. We agree that rainfall in the preFlood world, with bodies of water able to evaporate over some 1,600 or so years, would have been a certainty. But Baker would have surely been aware of the way God drafted pre-existing items or procedures into service as symbols of His covenants (e.g. circumcision, or the bread and wine at Passover), so why not rainbows?

It’s also hard to believe that he is serious when he indicates that the God who made the galaxies could not have delayed sunset in the time of Joshua. (For more on this, see the article Joshua’s long day: did it really happen, and how?)

His most glaring blunder, perhaps, is when he tries to show how bad religion is by saying:

“The brutality involved in so-called ‘holy wars’ over the centuries is far worse than anything Adolph [sic] Hitler could conceive. In sheer numbers of killings of the innocent, religious conquests of one colour or another are supreme.”

In fact, the numbers of ‘religious war deaths’ in all recorded history pale into insignificance against the 10-figure tally of people killed due to openly atheistic/evolution-believing regimes and ideologies—see Genocide, evolution and the Bible. A little further on, it’s as if he is trying to backtrack from his “sheer numbers” claim, by trying to recast it in terms of “percentage of the world’s population at the time”, something that is hard to substantiate and still unlikely to be representative of reality. Unless, that is, Baker would justify that under questioning by proposing (in evolutionist terms) some tiny original Stone Age population, decimated by a fight between warring shamanists. If so, that would hardly be tactically fair, given the ‘impression’ he tried to create with his earlier comment about Hitler, etc.

But in any case, any substantiation that exists is against Baker’s thesis. E.g. the infamous Inquisition killed 2000 people over three centuries, a minuscule percentage of the millions around.

(By way of aside, the common counter one hears, that the high death toll in the 20th century was due to modern technology, is also a furphy; they were often killed in low-tech ways. E.g. during the Pol Pot genocide, for example, the murderers were instructed not to waste bullets, so beat them to death with iron bars and hoes or buried them alive. Stalin murdered millions of Ukrainians with famine.)

Baker blends criticisms of various cults, Roman Catholicism, Islam and evangelical Christianity in ways that are more confusing than incisive. His criticisms do, however, serve to leave further negative ‘impressions’ about Christianity via guilt by association. Clever, if not fair. Such tactical virtuosity makes one reflect on the personal skills that, applied in the right direction, were likely helpful to him in building a considerable-sized church from an initial handful in only a decade. What a pity, then, to see his talent wasted in this self-justifying crusade to convince people that ‘you, too, can have personal peace like mine’—provided, of course, that you are willing to embrace evolution and its associated meaningless, materialistic explanation for existence.

References

  1. Our job in creation ministries is to provide the information to make that excuse increasingly difficult to sustain, and we see the Holy Spirit often using this information to bring someone to the point of realizing their sin and need for salvation. Return to text.
  2. This exceptionally antischolarly view, known as “The Christ Myth” was given some support by Richard Dawkins, as shown in Jonathan Sarfati’s recently released The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on evolution—see www.thegreatesthoaxonearth.com Return to text.

Related Article:

» Images of Apostates: From Faith to Reason – Former Pentecostal Mega Church Pastor

Reviewed by Carl Wieland  Published: 8 April 2010 | Book review Faith to Reason

Going Atheist: Newsboys George Perdikis and the Apostasy of Christian Believers

Graphic: Apostasy (01)

George-Perdikis-Youtube-ScreengrabThe news that George Perdikis, co-founder of The Newsboys, has renounced the Lord and proclaimed himself an atheist brought shock and pain to believers who have been blessed by their music for years. But now, rather than attacking him as if he somehow sinned against us, we should be praying for his restoration and asking why it is that so many are falling away.

Of course, the good news is that worldwide, Jesus continues to build His church and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it, and there are far more coming to faith than falling away from the faith.

But in America and Europe, the large number of those turning away from the Lord or simply declaring themselves “nones” (having no religious affiliation) is a matter of real concern.

Why, then, are so many backsliding?

1) Many were not truly saved in the first place.
One pastor once said, “The reason some people backslide is because they never frontslid.” How true!
This is especially relevant in contemporary Christian music (CCM), where it is an open secret that many gifted performers are just that: gifted performers, no more, no less.

I always give the benefit of the doubt and believe the best about people whom I don’t know personally, and so, if a person claims to know the Lord, I’ll take them at their word unless there is proof to the contrary. In the same way, if a band claims to be Christian, I’ll assume they are.

At the same time, I’m aware of claims that only 1 in 10 “Christian” bands is really Christian, while others within the industry have told me that they witnessed lots of drug use, drinking, and immorality among the “Christian” performers.

In fact, one former CCM executive told me that he saw just as much drug abuse and immorality in “Christian” music circles as he did in secular music circles, the exception being that in the “Christian” circles, the performers tried to hide it more.

I hope this is not true today, but for obvious reasons, we should have serious concerns.

2) Many have shallow roots.
In the parable of the sower (found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8), Jesus spoke about the seeds that “fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away” (Matthew 13:5-6).

He then explained the meaning to His disciples: “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:20-21).

There are many shallow-root believers in the Body today, having come to faith through a superficial, what’s-in-it-for-me kind of message, having no depth to their faith and commitment and no depth in their personal relationship with God.

Yet in today’s spiritual climate in America, they might go on for a while without ever encountering “tribulation or persecution” because of the Word. In other words, things are so compromised in so many parts of the Church of America that a compromised believer with shallow roots might fit in just fine with both the world and the Church.

In contrast, a serious believer will quickly encounter opposition from the world, and sometimes from the professing Church as well. Those with deep roots will endure and thrive. Those with shallow roots will not.

3) Many believers are not prepared for the intensity of the onslaught.
Jesus often warned against deception, as did the apostles, and Peter called his readers to be “sober-minded” and “watchful,” because our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

How much more should we take that to heart today?

Has any generation had as much access to pornography and gambling and other vices as our generation?

Has any generation been as bombarded by filth as ours?

This calls for greater vigilance.

As the old saying goes, being forewarned is being fore equipped.

Unfortunately, many believers have not recognized that, with greater attacks, there must be greater vigilance, because of which many have fallen away through the seductiveness of sin.
Whether or not these are the specific days Jesus warned about in Matthew 24:12 (“because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold”), they are certainly similar days.

Be on guard!

4) Many have been burned by legalism and by church failures.
Many believers have been burned by legalism, which I define as externally imposed religion, specifically, laws without love, religion without relationship, and standards without a Savior.

And since they associate this man-made version of the faith with the real faith, when they continually find themselves falling short or else imagine the gospel to be a set of rules alone, they reject Jesus Himself.
Others have been burned by the failures of the Church today – our hypocrisy, our scandals, our divisions, our politicizing of the gospel – and since this is the only Church they know, they assume that something is wrong with the whole Christian faith.

Still others have been burned by a lack of discipleship and fathering, and since they find little true community and few real fathers and mothers in the faith, “This whole Jesus thing can’t be true.”

Tragically, many of them would have done just fine in the right environment.

5) Many simply choose sin over obedience. In his “I’m now an atheist” announcement, George Berdikis wrote candidly, “I always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules imposed by Christianity. All I wanted to do was create and play rock and roll… and yet most of the attention I received was focused on how well I maintained the impossible standards of religion. I wanted my life to be measured by my music, not by my ability to resist temptation.”

But aren’t all of us called to resist temptation? And doesn’t a true, vibrant relationship with the Lord empower us to resist, to the point that knowing Him so transcends everything else that it becomes easier and easier to say no to sin? And should we take a “Christian” musician or singer or preacher or writer seriously if they don’t live what they preach?

The problem for many believers is that, in the words of the old song by Keith Green (speaking on behalf of the Lord), “You love the world and you’re avoiding Me.”

And so, for them, the issue is not with failures in the Church or legalism or other things outside of us.
The problem is inside of them, in their hearts and minds, where they choose to gratify themselves rather than deny themselves, to walk in the flesh rather than the Spirit.

That is the guaranteed path to death and destruction.

The good news is that God restores backsliders (if that’s you, I’d encourage you to visit ProdigalsOnly.com), and so there is still hope for many who have fallen away.

For the rest of us, let’s put our trust in the keeping power of the Lord, believing that He who began the good work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

And let’s not play games, remembering the words of Paul: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian, and he hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

via Going Atheist: Newsboys George Perdikis and the Apostasy of Christian Believers.