I’ve been blogging about Freedom of Speech on and off for over 10 years and have watched it slowly but surely be eroded away. The pace of that erosion seems to be quickening. David has asked that we might share this post of his. So that’s what I’m going to do. This is an important article. Please read and share.
I read this some while ago now at the recommendation of a friend (Thanks Nick!). Having checked the revisions, I first started writing this over a year ago. I’m staggered at how things have moved!
The author, Mick Hulme is an atheist but the subject of Free Speech is something that should unite both Atheist and Christian alike and this book does that. It’s been in my ‘Draft’ folder for a while but the book’s relevance continues. Indeed, the book seems to have more relevance each week. There’s so much to quote you might as well go and buy it. The following extracts will suffice for now. Note especially this line: ‘Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit‘. So talking and talking back. Sounds very much like a conversation – even a heated conversation.
‘If it is to mean anything, free speech has to live up to its name. This is the hardest thing for many who claim to endorse the principle to remember in practice. It means that what others say or write need not conform to what you, I, or anybody else might prefer.
Here is the terrible truth about free speech. Anybody can choose to write, blog, tweet, chant, preach, phone a radio program or shout at a television set. Not all of them will have the purity of soul of Jesus Christ or Joan Rivers, the wisdom of Socrates or Simon Cowell, or the good manners of Prince Harry or Piers Morgan. That’s tough. They still get the same access to free speech as the rest of us, whether we like it or not.
Defending the unfettered Free in free speech is not a question of endorsing whatever objectionable or idiotic things might be written or said. Nobody had to find Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons insightful or hilarious in order to stand by its right to publish them. Nor is it a question of being soft and suffering in silence. Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit.
The Free in free speech does mean recognising that free speech is for fools, fanatics and the other fellow too. Like all true liberties, free speech is an indivisible and universal right. We defend it for all or not at all.’
Trigger Warning: Is the fear of being offensive killing free speech?, Mick Hume (Pages. 12 & 13).
In practice, this isn’t easy for Christians – or for anyone else for that matter. Having our faith and our Saviour ridiculed in public isn’t pleasant but is nothing new. And it’s happening all the time directly and indirectly. (I didn’t say we have to like it) Why other lobby groups expect a free pass on abuse and ridicule is quite frankly beyond me. Welcome to the real world. Christians have been living with this reality for centuries. Christians have been pilloried, abused, imprisoned, made fun of, and even burnt. Now, especially in The West, it’s shaming, losing your livelihood and trial by Media. In other countries, right now, like China for example, it’s another story.
In order to apply the principles of democracy, tolerance and free speech, which the UK is supposed to stand for, and even exports (allegedly), is it unreasonable to ask for the liberty to speak freely? By speaking freely I mean as Mick Hume writes ‘Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit.’ This freedom is disappearing. We thank God for the freedoms we enjoy and we should pray that it continues. But what to do? The temptation is to lie down and simply hope it will all go away and suddenly as if by magic all our liberties will be restored. It’s not going to happen. You might remember when Boris Johnson brought the topic of Free-Speech to the fore (which BTW has come back several times – including ‘Any Questions’ BBC Radio 4).
At the end of the book, Mick Hulme has provided a glossary, if you will, of anti-free speech Trigger Warnings that were trotted out several times over the comments by Boris. Nothing has changed in the intervening period, our liberties, or lack of them, continually slip away. How things change, Boris Johnson is now Prime Minister. Incidentally, ‘Boris’ is a passionate believer in Free Speech (correct me if I’m wrong). Consider the torrent of abuse he receives – including from Christians. Just in the last week a Judge ruled against a Doctor for not referring to someone by their preferred way of being addressed. Again, I’m just amazed at how fast things are moving.
Here’s the first two of Mick Hulme’s Glossary:
‘This is not a free-speech issue.’
‘This is a pretty sure sign that yes, it is.
The first shot fired in the silent war on free speech is often an assurance that the bans or proscriptions on speech being demanded really have nothing to do with attacking freedom of expression. Of course, the fraudsters assure us that they support free speech, but this is about something else – hate or harassment, national security or personal safety.
What they usually mean is ‘This not a me-speech issue’. It is not infringing on their free speech, so it’s not a problem. But free speech is not the same as me-speech, never mind me-me-me speech. It is always about defending freedom for the other fellow, for the one who thinks differently.’
Incidentally, there have a few discussions regarding our freedom to Speak and interesting, and alarming, to note the frequency these warnings given by Mick Hume are used. But here’s another one that you will probably have noticed. One more:
‘Of course I believe in free speech, but…’
‘This is the one most often guaranteed to give the game away that no, in fact, you don’t.
Ours is the age of the but-heads, when almost nobody opposes free speech ‘in principle’, but Principle is seemingly another country and they do things differently there. In Practice, back here on Earth, many have a ‘but’ to wave around in the face of free speech to explain why the freedom to express an opinion should go thus far, but no further, like ‘free’-range livestock caged in a pen.
This might sound reasonable. But (to use the only language some people seem to understand) the problem is that, like all meaningful liberties, free speech has to be a universal and indivisible right. Once you apply a ‘but’ impose conditions or attach a string, it ceases to be a right. Instead it becomes a concession to be rationed by somebody in authority.
Those ubiquitous ‘buts’ don’t just qualify a commitment to free speech, they crush it. To claim to believe in free speech, but … is akin to insisting that you believe in an Almighty God, but you don’t think He’s all that. It might be better if the but-heads came clean and confessed that they don’t really believe in free speech after all.’
Having said all the above, does that mean we can say whatever we like in an absolute sense? By absolute, I mean saying whatever you like without any eternal consequence. I accept that as Christians we ought to weigh our words carefully and I’ll be the first to confess that I may have overstepped the mark on occasion. We should all consider some words from the Bible. Of course, the Bible is itself soon to be labeled Hate Speech (Gen 1:27). The Bible is considered by some as outrageous, and probably to some extent by Mick Hume, but he doesn’t (I assume) want to close me down or have me arrested for having a different view or even for calling him a sinner. The fact is, Jesus said that every idle word we say will be brought into the judgment.
Mat 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless (idle AV) word they speak,
Mat 12:37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ESV)
That is serious stuff but I still believe people have the right to call me a nutcase and say what they like about the Christian faith. In this life Jesus said every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven: except a final rejection of the Salvation offered by God. But right now, your sin, no matter how grievous, and no matter how you may have railed against your God, it can all be forgiven.
Sovereignty, subsidiarity, and the future of Europe: What the Brexit deal tells us about the prospect of the EU
But next, we turn to another story with huge worldview implications, most of which are simply not acknowledged in the mainstream media coverage. We’re talking about the world’s messiest divorce in history. It’s actually not between a husband and a wife, it is between Britain and the European Union, the so-called Brexit. British voters voted quite unexpectedly in the views of the political elites early in 2016, to leave the European Union for Britain to declare its economic independence and to leave the union that had so characterized Europe in the post-war period.
This was a declaration that Britain intended to exercise and to assert its national sovereignty. But that, of course, led to a huge array of the most complicated questions ever confronted in modern politics. How in the world would a nation like the United Kingdom, which has been so integrated into the European Union exit? The word Brexit, as it became popularly known, was actually a clever political neologism. It was a word coined out of the blue, a combination of Britain and exit, thus Brexit.
…political elites first of all in Europe, but also in the United Kingdom were absolutely confident that the voters in the UK would never vote to leave the European Union. But that’s exactly what they did.
It is really important to notice that the political elites first of all in Europe, but also in the United Kingdom were absolutely confident that the voters in the UK would never vote to leave the European Union. But that’s exactly what they did. This then precipitated to the biggest political crisis in modern diplomatic history. How would the United Kingdom leave the European Union? That’s still an unanswered question. It was declared earlier this week that the British government under Prime Minister Theresa May had reached a Brexit agreement with the forces in Brussels that are responsible for the European Union. It had to be a negotiated exit. This is how complicated the situation is.
Britain had been integrated into the immigration laws, integrated into the border laws, integrated into the economic policies, integrated within the custom system of the European Union. In essence, the European Union that came out of the ashes of the Second World War was an attempt to limit the sovereignty of those European states that would join the union and create a new super national authority, the European Union.
Now, as Christians, we need to pause for a moment and recognize there is a huge problem here. That problem is a violation of the principle of what is called subsidiarity. It’s always good for Christians to be reminded of this principle. Subsidiarity is a basic principle of Christian theology, deeply embedded in the biblical worldview. It tells us that truth and reality and health subside at the most basic unit possible. If that sounds abstract, let me clarify. This means that the greatest unit of meaning is in the smallest unit of structure, which is to say that marriage is actually the centerpiece of civilization. Marriage is not healthy because the civilization is healthy. A civilization is healthy because marriage is healthy.
Marriage, the union of a man and a woman creating a family as that man and the woman have children, that creates the unit of greatest importance to the civilization. The functioning of healthy families is something that is so indispensable that no government at any level can alleviate what is missing if the family is broken. That’s a pathology that is radically demonstrated in American society, and in so many other societies today.
Subsidiarity also tells us that the most important government action is not at the highest level possible, most abstracted from the real lives of people, but rather at the closest level possible. That’s to say, a city government is more likely to be responsive to people, than a supranational authority The United States is more likely as a government to be responsive to its people, than would be the United Nations. This is a basic principle. It’s written into our constitutional order in the system of federalism that marks our constitution. It’s also important to recognize that the intellectual elites both in Europe and in the United States, increasingly have rejected subsidiarity. They have instead argued for a certain kind of internationalism.
In the views of so many, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, bigger is always better. A global authorities better than a national authority, a national authority as far better than a state authority. That we need to note is not only the reversal of the constitutional logic of the United States, it is also the reversal of that basic Christian worldview principle of subsidiarity.
When British voters in early 2016 voted so unexpectedly for Britain to withdraw from the European Union, the arguments were extremely important, and they were generally very straightforward. European leaders argued that Britain could not leave, it must not leave. Because in so leaving it would leave the entire European project. Most major British political leaders in both major British political parties also opposed Brexit. So, this was a populist revolt that in so many ways, was matched by the populist revolt in the United States in the 2016 presidential election. Those two events Brexit in early 2016, the presidential election in the United States at the end of 2016, those really formed the year of the great uprisings in both Britain and the United States.
But Britain’s uprising, the Brexit vote, set into play a series of events that clearly is not over. But there’s a deadline, that deadline, March 29, 2019. That’s a hard exit for the United Kingdom, and that might appear to be the easiest solution except it’s not. It’s extremely complicated. Britain is so interwoven into the European Union, its policies, its economics, its politics, its policies going all the way down to regulations about produce and weights and measures. Furthermore, the very important issues of customs and trade, all of these are so deeply intertwined that it is not easy for just one partner to walk out of this relationship any more than it’s easy for one spouse to leave a marriage.
The metaphor of divorce in this case is almost entirely appropriate. It’s messy. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to win the support of her cabinet in the middle of this week, only to have her cabinet undermined by two very prominent resignations in protest by those coming from a conservative side who argued that this is a compromise, a further compromise of British sovereignty because under the proposal of the British Prime Minister, Britain would continue to lack control over its own trade and customs, processes and policies. That is indeed a very important infringement of sovereignty.
So, what’s the principle for Christians? Why would Christians in the United States care about this? There’s a huge lesson, the lesson is this: once you surrender sovereignty, it is extremely difficult to get it back. Once you compromise subsidiarity, it is extremely costly to clarify it. There are many in the political elites in the United States who would prefer very clearly to have more federal authority than state authority, more state authority than local authority, and even more authority in international entities above the United States of America. That’s a very dangerous argument. We do live in a global community, but we’re really not a global community. We are a community of nations, but what’s really important is to recognize that the existence of the nation state is itself a protection for human dignity and human rights around the world.
The compromise of that national sovereignty is extremely dangerous. But as I said, for Christians, we understand there’s more than sovereignty at stake here, subsidiarity is at stake. The European Union did come out of the ruins, out of the ashes of World War II with the promise that the violence between states that so marked the 20th century will be overcome by integrating those nations in one big entity. There was actually explicitly the hope of something like a United States of Europe to match the United States of America. But the current European Union is complicated by the fact that the kind of union that had been envisioned, well, it turns out to have been far more idealized than can ever be realized to the perplexity are so many who want to believe that we live in a simple global community. The French continue to speak French and to act French, the Germans speak German and to have characteristics to German culture. That’s true across the board in Europe. And what you see right now in the United Kingdom is that the people of Britain decided we’re simply going to be Britain.
Now the question is: will that actually happen even as the decision of the voters in 2016 was abundantly clear, even if unexpected?
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Move away from an objective morality and here’s where it leads. Some selected quotes from Al Mohler’s The Briefing Transcript:
‘They are now killing children in Belgium. We’re talking about euthanasia, and we’re talking about children seventeen and under.’
‘We are often told that arguments that say “this will follow that” are slippery slope arguments that are intellectually indefensible. Here, it’s not just the warning of a slippery slope, it’s a slope that has proved itself to be slippery in a most deadly way. By the way, slippery slope arguments are only invalid if they come without the kind of explanation of causality. In this case, the causality is abundantly apparent.’
(Or, as James White would say, That’s not a slippery slope, that’s a cliff!)
Here’s the terrible logic!
‘Back in 2014, one of the Belgian medical authorities who promoted the change said this, and I quote, “Why wouldn’t you give children who are incurably sick and who are unbearably suffering the same possibilities adults have?”…’ ‘…As you look back at that statement made by Dr. Jan Bernheim–that’s the medical authority who argued that children should have the same rights as adults when it comes to euthaooking at the doctor’s language, he said that children should have “The same possibilities adults have.” Well, what is this possibility? It is the possibility to request to death and to have others administer that death.
Dystopia is soon coming to a Healthcare facility near you!
Listen to Wednesday’s edition (8th August 2018) of The Briefing:
At the end of this section is a letter I sent to the Welsh Assembly back in February to oppose the funding of Abortions from Northern Ireland. But I’d like to set the letter in the broader context. Events have followed on from the letter showing how utterly absurd it is to deny what’s real – that is, we are aborting babies not lumps of cell tissue. This denial can only be described as the deliberate holding down (or suppressing) of the truth in unrighteousness.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
The suppression spoken of in the verse is of a continued effort exerted to keep the truth from rising to the surface. it’s been described as akin to holding a beach ball under water. Very difficult to do. To keep it under water takes a lot of effort! But every now and then it pops up to the surface as you will see in the videos.
Just the other day I happened to watch a feature on BBC breakfast about infertility and the anguish for couples that cannot have children. Yes, we call them children. The time, research, cost and pain couples go through to have children is quite extraordinary. But the results are beautiful and amazing! I know this to be true.
And then a ‘royal’ baby is born. Yes, it’s incredible, a little boy for the world to Coo over. I wonder when the happy couple, grandparents and indeed the public and even Parliament starting calling that little life a baby. I would think fairly early on, as soon as she knew she was expecting, while the baby was still in the womb. The Royal Fetus somehow doesn’t sound quite right.
In the letter below I mention the trauma of (a real) miscarriage where all hopes for that little life are dashed. Yes, a life all the same, and treated as such. I also mention the joy of a safe arrival.
It’s quite clear then, at least it seems very clear to me, that if the child is wanted it’s a baby, a little life with a future and a hope, but if that same little life with all its future and hope is not wanted, it’s called a fetus and can be terminated. That’s how we treat a product, a commodity to be discarded at will, not a baby. We treat animals better than that! I know the decision to terminate is not always easy, maybe rarely easy. But we should ask why it isn’t easy. Could it be that suppressing the truth takes an awful lot of effort? Going against what is known deep down to be an egregious crime is actually very difficult to do. But many millions have done exactly that all the same.
All the above is very recent but shortly after I’d written the letter Jenny Rathbone AM (Assembly Member – A Welsh MP) was interviewed. It was a few weeks ago now but please watch the two videos as they demonstrate very clearly the deliberate suppression of the truth – never mind the ethics of truthful unbiased reporting.
Num 32:20 So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war,
Num 32:21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him
Num 32:22 and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.
Num 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.
I first watched the report – about completing a Medical Abortion – I happened to be at home watching the BBC Regional (Wales) news at lunchtime. My thought at the time was ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s never shown again’. I remember quickly rewinding the live TV so I could play it back to record it on my phone. I wasn’t 100% sure what I’d heard so listened really carefully when I played it back. So I listened ‘drop-jawed’ to what Jenny Rathbone AM calls the woman. To my surprise, the interview was aired again in the evening – with a difference.
This time the offending word MOTHER had been edited out. Exactly as I thought. There’s your honest unbiased reporting for you from the BBC. I couldn’t say if it was edited out at the request of Jenny Rathbone (most likely as a supporter of Abortion) or if the BBC took it upon themselves to edit Mother out. Either way, the BBC have a responsibility to be truthful to reality. They could have refused to edit it but they obviously didn’t. The reason I recorded both before and after was because I thought that’s what they would do. The editing is really obvious and badly done (deliberately I hope). Like everyone, Jenny Rathbone knows the truth. She expressed it in the original interview. The edited version is the deliberate suppression of the truth. This isn’t to single her out but it serves as an example of how suppressed truth ‘pops up’ unconsciously to the surface. Colloquially we might call it a Freudian-slip’ but it’s much more than that.
You may have heard the expression ‘be sure your sin will find you out’. You might not realise that saying is from The Bible. Although the original context is said to the Israelites it holds true as a principle. Your sin will find you out. Not everyone gets found out in this life. Some fear they will be found out and exposed and then sadly commit suicide to escape the shame of discovery. But there’s another day coming when there will be no escape.
Rev 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains,
Rev 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,
Rev 6:17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Women and Children’s Health Branch
6th February 2018
RE: Funding / Enabling NI Abortions
Dear Assembly Members,
A few months ago a lady I know had a miscarriage at around 11 weeks. This was as you might imagine quite devastating for her, and her husband. In fact, as many do, they held a short service for their unborn child. She grieves for that precious little life. Just a few days ago another lady I know gave birth to a healthy baby boy. That family is rightly rejoicing. The lady that miscarried did not think any less of her child than the one that went full term. I suggest most ladies’ that miscarry feel a terrible sense of loss. Why is it then that in our so-called civilised society we are on a mission to terminate our unborn children? Not only this, in Northern Ireland where the unborn has some safety, we in Wales are considering inviting women to bring their unborn children here. Why? That they might be killed in what should be the safest place on earth – the womb.
Some have called the culture in which we live ‘The Culture of Death’. The measure of civilisation can be measured by how we treat the most vulnerable. Who amongst us are more vulnerable than the unborn? Our culture seeks to deprive the unborn of the right to be born, to have a future, to live. As if our society were not already in The Dock standing accused of taking the lives of thousands of children – we intend on heaping upon ourselves even more guilt by inviting and cajoling like the child catcher the helpless children so they might be terminated. Termination is euphemistically called a ‘Health Service’, (Children’s Health!) which in itself must be regarded as a contradiction. Shame on us! Shame I say. This is not the mark of civilised people.
In light of the above, and more, much more could be said; I implore you to take a stand against funding NI abortions. I do not support funding NI Terminations.
Michael J. Iliff
This morning I read this post by Stephen Kneale at The Arbour. Later, I read Isaiah 54:17. What follows below are commentaries from Albert Barnes & John Gill on this verse in Isaiah. They are quite lengthy, but given the apparent progress the enemies of The Gospel of The Lord Christ are making it seems somewhat providential to post them here. And let’s be clear, the defense of Traditional Marriage isn’t about battering Homosexuals or anyone else. What it is really about is the authority of the Bible and among other things what it means to be a Christian. What is a Christian is an ongoing question that will not and is not going to go away. Why? Because sinful man is forever trying to find a way of Salvation that keeps man on the throne. The cry of sinful man, no matter how polite it can seem, is ‘We will not have this man (The Lord Jesus) rule over us. (See Luke 19:14) The Freedom to express any other view or belief other than the one you are told to express, particularly on SSM or Abortion, is starting to look like and feel like extremism. If it looks like a duck….
Here’s the text of Isaiah 54:17. ‘no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD’ (ESV). The comments of Barnes & Gill follow.
No weapon that is formed – No instrument of war, no sword, or spear; no instrument of persecution or torture that is made by the smith, Isa 54:16.
Shall prosper – On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isa 52:13. The sense here is, that it shall not have final and ultimate prosperity. It might be permitted for a time to appear to prosper – as persecutors and oppressors have done; but there would not be final and complete success.
And every tongue – No one shall be able to injure you by words and accusations. If a controversy shall arise; if others reproach you and accuse you of imposture and deceit, you will be able ultimately to convince them of error, and, by manifestation of the truth, to condemn them. The language here is derived probably from courts of justice (see the notes at Isa 41:1); and the idea is, that truth and victory, in every strife of words, would be on the side of the church. To those who have watched the progress of discussions thus far on the subject of the true religion, it is needless to say that this has been triumphantly fulfilled. Argument, sophism, ridicule, have all been tried to overthrow the truth of the Christian religion. Appeals have been made to astronomy, geology, antiquities, history, and indeed to almost every department of science, and with the same want of success. Poetry has lent the charm of its numbers; the grave historian has interwoven with the thread of his narrative covert attacks and sly insinuations against the Bible; the earth has been explored to prove that’ He who made the world and revealed its age to Moses was mistaken in its age;’ and the records of Oriental nations, tracing their history up cycles of ages beyond the Scripture account of the creation of the world, have been appealed to, but thus far in all these contests ultimate victory has declared in favor of the Bible. And no matter from what quarter the attack has come, and no matter how much learning and talent have been evinced by the adversaries of the Bible, God has raised up some Watson, or Lardner, or Chalmers, or Buckland, or Cuvier, or Wiseman, to meet these charges, and to turn the scales in favor of the cause of truth. They who are desirous of examining the effects of the controversy of Christianity with science, and the results, can find them detailed with great learning and talent in Dr. Wiseman’s Lectures on the connection between Science and Revealed Religion, Andover, 1837.
This is the heritage – The inheritance which awaits those who serve God is truth and victory. It is not gold and the triumph of battle. It is not the laurel won in fields of blood. But it is, the protection of God in all times of trouble; his friendship in all periods of adversity; complete victory in all contests with error and false systems of religion; and preservation when foes rise up in any form and endeavor to destroy the church, and to blot out its existence and its name.
And their righteousness is of me – Or rather, ‘this is the righteousness, or the justification which they obtain of me; this is that which I impart to them as their justification.’ The idea is not that their righteousness is of him, but that this justification or vindication from him is a part of their inheritance and their portion. (Albert Barnes December 1, 1798 – December 24, 1870)
”No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,…. All weapons of war, as the Targum, which are made with a design to hurt and destroy the people of God, shall be rendered useless; not one of them shall prosper to the advantage of their enemies, or so as to answer their design; nor to the hurt and prejudice, ruin and destruction, of the saints:
and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment; that shall raise any calumny upon thee, or bring any charge against thee, or enter into a lawsuit with thee, litigate a point with thee in any court of judicature, or claim, in right and law, a power, authority, and dominion over thee, as the pope of Rome does over the consciences of men:
thou shalt condemn; disprove and roll off the calumny, refute the charge and accusation, put to silence the clamours and pretences of wicked men, carry the cause against them, and shake off the yoke of bondage they would bring them under; and, instead of being condemned by them, condemn them. By “weapon” may be meant all the attempts made by force to ruin the interest and church of Christ in the world, such as the bloody persecutions of the Roman emperors, who, though they made sad havoc of the professors of Christianity, and designed hereby to have rooted it out of the world, and thought they should have accomplished it, yet could not do it; so far from it, that the Christians yet more and more increased, insomuch that it became a common saying, that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church; also the wars of the Papists with the Albigenses and Waldenses, and all the cruel methods they have taken by fire and faggot, and the bloody inquisition, to hinder the growth of what they call heresy; yet all have been in vain, a reformation has taken place, and many nations have embraced the truth, and shook off the yoke of Popery; together with all their efforts since to crush the Protestant interest; and though the kings of the earth will be stirred up, and gather together to the battle of the Lord God Almighty, they will not succeed, but be overcome and slain, and the beast and false prophet at the head of them will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire: and by the “tongue” may be designed the edicts of the Pagan emperors, forbidding the exercise of the Christian religion, and threatening the preachers and professors of it with imprisonment, confiscation of goods, and death itself; and the anathemas, bulls, and interdicts of the popes of Rome, as well as the reproaches, scandals, and calumnies uttered by the emissaries of that church against all that depart from it; together with the errors and heresies of false teachers of all sorts in all ages of the world, which, though levelled against the faith and doctrine of the church of Christ, have not been able to subvert it, nor ever will:
this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; this, with all that is said in this chapter, is the part, portion, and privilege, that such shall enjoy who serve the Lord Christ, and not antichrist; they shall be treated rather as sons than as servants, and have an inheritance assigned them; not only protection from all enemies, and absolution from all charges, but they shall receive the reward of the inheritance in heaven, that which is incorruptible and undefiled, and reserved there, since they serve the Lord Christ:
and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord; the vindication of their righteousness, of their cause, and of their character; or the reward of their righteous works in a way of grace; even all that righteousness and true holiness that is in them, and that righteousness which is imputed to them, and by which they are justified, are from the Lord; by which they are secured from all the charges of law and justice, and, from all the accusations of men and devils, and which will answer for them in a time to come, and acquit them at the bar of God before men and angels; see Rom 8:33. (John Gill 23 November 1697 – 14 October 1771)
I had no idea that it had been 50 silent years for the SETI project. Material World on Radio 4 (BBC) interviewed Dr Frank Drake (Chairman of the Board of the SETI Institute) inventor or originator of what is known as The Drake Equation. The equation is a series of guesses based on the assumption that life is ‘out there’ resulting in what scientists might call a best guestimate. [I hope I’ve not misrepresented here as this is not my intention at all.] The interview on Material World was fascinating. Dr Drake was faced with the fact of 50 years of total silence. Did this put him off – not a bit of it. I suppose in the end it comes down to wishful thinking. I was tempted to say faith – but true faith must have an object. But because there is no evidence of life, in fact no life, no object, no faith, just wishful thinking. There must be life ‘out there’ because, well there just must be.
This is interesting – and tragic – because if Dr Drake applied a similar set of guesses and called it The God Equation he would be convinced in far less time than 50 years that there is a divine creator. The evidence of a creator is overwhelming. But Dr Drake and others simply do not want to believe it – so it can’t be true because well it just can’t be.
What I do applaud is the honesty of Dr Drake. There was no attempt to falsify or weasel his way out of the argument. He’s a believer just like Mulder – though with less proof – and will not be dissuaded.
As Christians we should praise and thank God because left to ourselves there is no difference. We suppressed the truth about God because we didn’t like where it led us – to God. Even with overwhelming evidence of a God and a Saviour, still we would not bow the knee to King Jesus. Ah but He sends His Word & Spirit – it’s all of His grace. There’s real hope then for people like Dr Drake because it’s not dependent on how bright we are but how Gracious God is.
When I first read this it seemed like an excellent definition of Ideology. It still is, here it is below for your consideration. The quote is from: Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World by David F. Wells. page 25.
‘What the Enlightenment ideology did was to provide an interpretive grid, an all-encompassing understanding, that was laid over the whole of life. This understanding was not much a worldview as an ideology. Ideologies, we might say, are worldviews with an attitude. The intent of every ideology is to control. With the passage of time and the desire to be triumphant, ideologies tend to become simplistic. They find acceptance because they tap into our need, the Canadian writer John Saul says, “to believe in single-stroke, cure all solutions” often presenting us with stark alternatives: “Accept the ideology or perish. Pay the debt or go bankrupt. Nationalize or starve. Privatize or go moribund. Kill inflation or lose all your money.”
Because they leave only one way out, they become coercive. At the same time, ideologies create a sense of inevitability about themselves. They produce passivity in people because what is inevitable cannot be resisted. And they breed intolerance of those who might be opposed to their understanding of life or might raise questions about it. It is these characteristics which help explain why it is so difficult to challenge an ideology once it has been socially ensconced. And yet this is exactly what has been happening with the Enlightenment ideology since the 1960’s.’