Monday, December 26, 2011

A small tribute to the Reformation Anti-Catholic work known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Foxe's Book of Martyrs is a classic account of the persecutions and murders of Christian individuals and groups down the centuries starting with the first apostles of Christ. Here is an online copy of the book. The early chapters concern persecutions under the pagans, the chapter titled Papal Persecutions starts the accounts of persecutions by the Roman Church of Christians who had fled that institution.

There are those who have no knowledge whatever of the pre-Reformation Christians outside the Roman Church, such as the Waldensians and the Albigensians and many others, and continue to promote the false belief fostered by the Roman Church itself that Romanism represented Christianity and that those they persecuted were all heretics. Foxe's Book of Martyrs is one of the main sources of information to the contrary and of course the Papal Antichrist would seek to discredit it.

And yes it is quite partisan, it is thoroughly anti-Romanism and anti-papist, which reflects the perspective of the Reformation. It's perhaps more of a tract than a work of history but most of its information is nevertheless based on known sources and considered to be generally trustworthy. Some try to discredit the book on the basis of its style and partisanship, but even the Wikipedia article which acknowledges its scholarly imperfections nevertheless affirms that the material is "generally accurate" and documents its valid sources.

The following is from the Wikipedia article:
Foxe as historian
Foxe often treated his material casually, and any reader "must be prepared to meet plenty of small errors and inconsistencies."[29] The material contained in the work is generally accurate, although selectively presented. Sometimes he copied documents verbatim; sometimes he adapted them to his own use. While both he and his contemporary readers were more credulous than most moderns, Foxe presented "lifelike and vivid pictures of the manners and feelings of the day, full of details that could never have been invented by a forger."[30]

His sources
Foxe based his accounts of martyrs before the early modern period on previous writers, including Eusebius, Bede, Matthew Paris, and many others. He compiled an English martyrology from the period of the Lollards through the persecution of Mary I. Here Foxe had primary sources to draw on: episcopal registers, reports of trials, and the testimony of eyewitnesses.[5] In the work of collection Foxe had Henry Bull as collaborator.[31] The account of the Marian years is based on Robert Crowley's 1559 extension of a 1549 chronicle history by Thomas Cooper, itself an extension of a work begun by Thomas Lanquet. Cooper (who became a Church of England Bishop) strongly objected to Crowley's version of his history and soon issued two new "correct" editions.[32]

Handling of sources
The book's credibility was challenged in the early 19th century by a number of authors, most importantly Samuel Roffey Maitland.[5][25] Subsequently Foxe was considered a poor historian, in mainstream reference works. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica accused Foxe of "wilful falsification of evidence"; two years later in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Francis Fortescue Urquhart wrote of the value of the documentary content and eyewitness reports, but claimed that Foxe "sometimes dishonestly mutilates his documents and is quite untrustworthy in his treatment of evidence".[33]

In contrast, J. F. Mozley maintained that Foxe preserves a high standard of honesty, arguing that Foxe's method of using his sources "proclaims the honest man, the sincere seeker after truth."[34] The 2009 Encyclopædia Britannica notes that Foxe's work is "factually detailed and preserves much firsthand material on the English Reformation unobtainable elsewhere."[35]

Objectivity and advocacy
Foxe's book is in no sense an impartial account of the period. He did not hold to later notions of neutrality or objectivity, but made unambiguous side glosses on his text, such as "Mark the apish pageants of these popelings" and "This answer smelleth of forging and crafty packing."[36] David Loades has suggested that Foxe's history of the political situation, at least, is 'remarkably objective'. He makes no attempt to make martyrs out of Wyatt and his followers, or anyone else who was executed for treason, except George Eagles, who he describes as falsely accused."[37]

Sidney Lee writing in the Dictionary of National Biography called him "a passionate advocate, ready to accept any primâ facie evidence". Lee also listed some specific errors and pieces of plagiarism.[22] In developing the same metaphor, Thomas S. Freeman argues that Foxe "may be most profitably seen in the same light as a barrister pleading a case for a client he knows to be innocent and whom he is determined to save. Like the hypothetical barrister, Foxe had to deal with the evidence of what actually happened, evidence that he was rarely in a position to forge. But he would not present facts damaging to his client, and he had the skills that enabled him to arrange the evidence so as to make it conform to what he wanted it to say. Like the barrister, Foxe presents crucial evidence and tells one side of a story which must be heard. But he should never be read uncritically, and his partisan objectives should always be kept in mind."[5]

Religious perspectives
For the English Church, Foxe's book remains a fundamental witness to the sufferings of faithful Christians at the hands of the anti-Protestant Roman Catholic authorities and to the miracle of their endurance unto death, sustained and comforted by the faith to which they bore living witness as martyrs. Foxe emphasizes the right of English people to hear or read the Holy Scripture in their own language and receive its message directly rather than as mediated through a priesthood. The valour of the martyrs in the face of persecution became a component of English identity.[citation needed]

Roman Catholics consider Foxe a significant source of English anti-Catholicism, charging among other objections to the work, that the treatment of martyrdoms under Mary ignores contemporary mingling of political and religious motives — for instance, ignoring the possibility that some victims may have intrigued to remove Mary from the throne.[38]
The article above suggests that "evidence damaging to his client" exists that Foxe ignores, but does not give it. Surely we can ASSUME that there is such "evidence" and that a great deal of it is simply the viewpoint of the papacy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Glory Glory Glory in Immanuel's Land -- that's what Christmas foreshadows

So again this year I've had to object to those who reduce Christmas to a pagan holiday with no value for Christians. Then a few posts down I found myself remembering my experience of hearing Christmas carols in a church for the first time after becoming a believer, carols I'd heard all my life but without really hearing them until that time. Now they emerged from the dimness of rote repetition into a clarity that dissolved me in tears.

The carols heard in all their truth lift the heart to realms of glory that otherwise have no excuse for existing at all in this benighted earth, and I've come to the conclusion that Christmas exists for that very purpose, to lift our thoughts to the heavenly realms in a more focused way than we usually have opportunity. No, it's not the true birthday of Christ, we don't know when that is but it's certainly not in December, and yes it has had both worthy defenders and worthy opponents down the centuries so you are free to take it or leave it as the Lord leads. But I've finally settled it for myself: it's a dedicated time to remind us of the glorious birth of Christ as scripture describes it, the angel announcing it to Mary, the angels heralding it to the shepherds, God Himself taking on human flesh for our sake. Immanuel or God With Us. There is no other specific opportunity for celebrating this on the calendar. I think God has given us Christmas for this purpose.

The glory is not exclusive to Christmas of course, it's the core of the Christian expectation in a sense --Christ in you, the hope of glory, as the scripture says -- but we don't always have an awareness of it. That experience in church lifted me up to it, the Reality that I'd denied for most of my life until that point.

But I even think the ordinary "secular" Christmas contains the seeds of such a recognition. There is even a sort of common apprehension of Christmas as representing such a special time that we might say "it was like Christmas" to describe some extraordinarily happy or fulfilling experience. Even the poorest and most secular Christmas aims to dazzle and delight by the closest approach to something glorious that humanity can concoct with mere light bulbs and shiny things and wrapped presents and special treats.

For the most part it's not clear to those engaged in it exactly why it's being done at all, or it seems to be just something one does at a particular time of year, just because family does it, or "just because," or sometimes for the sheer pleasure of it in itself, that's how far it is from worship of God or gods. Certainly there can be an idolatry of the pleasure itself, or an idolatry of greed, all the usual idolatries of humanity, but while most may not celebrate the God of the Bible they are NOT celebrating some pagan god, no they are not. Even in the most "secular" of Christmas celebrations in what remains of "Christendom" there is still a tinge of recognition that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."

Yes, I think Christmas is a yearly staging of something that can draw us to at least a vague sense of higher things, celestial things. All the paraphernalia we muster for its celebration seems to be trying to evoke something otherworldly, something heavenly, glorious, hopeful. Even the most ordinary tinsel-draped glittering Christmas tree glowing in a darkened room always suggested something heavenly to me long before I was a Christian, an otherworldly glory.

Oh but then when I became a believer the Real Glory that all the trappings of Christmas only dimly imitate became mine and that's what had me sobbing through my first church experience of the Christmas carols after becoming a believer.

Angels We Have Heard on High
Angels From the Realms of Glory
Oh Holy Night
Come All Ye Faithful
Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let Earth receive her King
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,
The First Noel
Silent Night
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus

If the words of these songs are taken to heart in genuine faith, they can definitely take you to a glimmer of the glory in which the true God dwells.

God Himself stooped to become a man and dwelt among us, came to live the perfectly blameless life that none of us fallen creatures could live for ourselves, then to die in our place to save us from our just punishment. His coming was anticipated from all the way back in Eden. Angels heralded His birth, and angels were there at His death and resurrection and ascension. Angels from the realms of glory, God's servants who watch over us. Glorious beings from God's own glorious presence. Christmas recognizes them as no other event does.

While I was thinking about all this I kept remembering Blaise Pascal's "memorial," his description of an experience he had of the Reality of God that he described on a piece of paper and kept sewn inside his clothes until it was found at his death. It's one man's experience of the glory of God. It's about the glory though it's not about Christmas.

Dieu d'Abraham, Dieu d'Isaac, Dieu de Jacob,

non des philosophes et des savants.

Certitude. Certitude. Sentiment, Joie, Paix.

Dieu de Jésus-Christ ...
Blaise Pascal: This day of Grace (November 23, 1654) "Fire...Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy." This link includes a commentary by Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Pascal's meditation in which he says we all should have something of such an experience in our Christian lives. There are also links to Pascal's writings but I'm just going to copy out Pascal's "memorial" here:

This day of Grace 1654; From about half past ten at night, to about half after midnight, Fire.

God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,

Not of the philosophers and the wise.

Security, security. Feeling, joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ
Thy God shall be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of all save God.

He can be found only in the ways taught in the Gospel.

Greatness of the human soul.

O righteous Father the world hath not known Thee,but I have known Thee

Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.

I have separated myself from Him.

My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? . . .That I be not separated from Thee eternally.

This is life eternal: That they might know Thee the only true God, and
Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.

I have separated myself from Him; I have fled, renounced, crucified Him.

May I never be separated from Him.

He maintains Himself in me only in the way taught in the Gospel.

Renunciation total and sweet.

I go from this meditation on the glory of God and our life in God to a sad recognition of what the unbelieving world makes of glory. Nothing much. They try to make it fit their paltry earth-bound sense of things. It IS the tinsel on the tree, with no more reality than that. They try to exalt mere worldly aspirations or ideals or good deeds but they always fall flat as far as glory goes. What the false religions and the occult do with glory is imitate Christianity, but they usually come up with something cold and spooky.

On a couple of occasions before I was a believer, just listening to a Mozart symphony made me sad because there is nothing in this world that deserves that exalted feeling. The same thing happened even more so when I listened to Handel's Messiah. It should make you aware that there IS a reality to which such music corresponds, but if you've bought the lie that this is all there is then such exalted expressions are just a cheat.

I think of Darwin's famous line about how there is "grandeur" in the evolutionistic view of things. A cheat, a cheat. Bloody death-dealing nature as conceived by evolution? A cheat, the biggest of cheats. Oh what REAL grandeur Darwin missed out on, and the aggressive atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I think of Peter Hitchens' description of embracing the marriage ceremony of the Anglican church as a coming into his inheritance as a Christian Englishman, and think how Darwin, Dawkins, and Peter's brother Christopher all chose to repudiate that heritage and will never know its glory.

So all this is my Christmas meditation this year. God might have allowed me an exalted experience such as I had with the Christmas carols without the holiday of Christmas, and He has allowed me others, but I have to think that such a concentration of expressions of Glory to God in the Highest that Christmas brings us was intended by Him, and I refuse to accept the debunkery of those who put it all down to a cheap Christianized version of paganism.

Let the heathen and the dedicated atheists and the Bible-denying "Christians" scoff at angels and the virgin birth of God Himself as a man, reduce it to a fiction and so destroy their own opportunity to touch celestial realms. They've been invited to join us innumerable times but sometimes we believers just have to leave them behind in their own chosen fate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The pagan origins of Christmas again -- Chris Pinto nails it!

FINALLY, a SENSIBLE study of the history of Christmas!

Chris Pinto to my mind does THE best study of Christmas, correcting many wrong notions about how it came about, and giving the most sensible reasonable guidelines for how a Christian believer should respond to the holiday:

This is the page where you can download Parts I and II of his radio discussion of Christmas, The Origins of Christmas on Dec. 20 and 21.

One thing he argues is that the Roman Catholic Church as such did not exist until 606 AD, contrary to the kneejerk screamings of some who claim it started with Constantine. It did NOT. Most of the early Church belongs to the TRUE CHURCH -- including the Council of Nicaea which was convened by the leaders of all the true churches of the day and was NOT led by Constantine, whose role was mostly observer. The Roman Church started with the claim in 606 AD that the Bishop of Rome was to be the head* of the entire Church, not just Rome but head over all the other Bishops of all the other churches as well. The Roman Church LATER CLAIMED TO THEMSELVES all the pre-Roman-Catholic history of the Church. Why should we believe THEM?

So the Roman Church can't be particularly blamed for inaugurating the holiday of Christmas. In fact Pinto said something else that suggests the Roman Church didn't even acknowledge the holiday until the 1800s.

{Later: Also go on and listen to the first half of Pinto's broadcast of December 22, Christmas trees and Catholics Come Home to find out that "mass" as in Christ-mas does NOT necessarily refer to the institution of the Catholic Mass -- the word has older/original connotations that are perfectly acceptable to a Christian, it only later came to refer to the Catholic ritual, just as much else from the early Church was later co-opted into the Roman context. (also go on and listen to the second half of that broadcast for his answer to a very misleading Catholic ad). Pinto is a much more trustworthy investigator of history than many who seek to educate the Church. If you are going to try to make your case from history you have to recognize that history goes through changes, the truth isn't necessarily the first thing that hits you in the face.}

Also Pinto makes the point that the pagans themselves rewrite Christian history for us and Christians who don't read enough in true Christian history believe this stuff written by enemies of the true Church. They would claim the holiday themselves even if the Church did it.

One point he presents that I was not familiar with is that there was a theologian of the early church who argued that December 25 really was the birthdate of Christ, completely independent of its connection with any pagan holiday around that time of year. His argument doesn't really hold up but apparently it was meant seriously and taken seriously. So although there was a definite sense in which Christ's birthday was an excuse to replace a popular pagan holiday with Christian content, it turns out that wasn't the ONLY reason for the date chosen. History is always more complicated than the conspiracy thinkers try to make it out to be.

Another point he makes which really ought to make the case all by itself is to compare the substitution of Christ's birthday for a pagan holiday with the practice of many churches today in substituting a harvest-oriented celebration for the pagan Halloween, with bobbing for apples and that sort of thing. Some do a Reformation Day Party, since that date is also the date on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church, which began the Reformation. If you want to distract Christians from the good time the pagans are having with Halloween then give them something Christian or at least innocent to party about instead. Distract them from the pagan debaucheries of Saturnalia the same way, what's wrong with that?

At the end of Part I Pinto quotes Romans 14:4+ as his understanding of how we should regard the celebration of Christmas:
Rom 14:4-8 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
How we celebrate a holiday is all about our own personal relation to the Lord, there is really very little in the holiday of itself that is the problem.

In Part II Chris Pinto gets into the history of the Christmas tree. This is because many object to the tree as pagan, and many quote Jeremiah 10:2-4 as supposedly directly describing the Christmas tree as a pagan practice to be shunned. I didn't comment on this myself but it is clearly NOT talking about the Christmas tree as we use it today. We do not bow down to it and worship it for starters, which is the main teaching of scripture about idolatry, specifically the heathen practices of carving their idols out of wood and decorating them with gold and silver which is what this passage is also about.

It does not refer to the Christmas tree.
Jer 10:1-5 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They [are] upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also [is it] in them to do good.
But they speak not, they must be borne, they can't walk. Be not afraid of them. Cannot do evil nor good. THIS IS A REFERENCE TO IDOLS, to objects of worship CARVED OUT OF THE TREES, not to Christmas trees and this is the point Chris Pinto makes. (I'm only touching on his main points here, you have to listen to the radio talk to appreciate the many examples he gives to support his points).

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH CHRISTMAS TREES AS SUCH, they are NOT the idolatry God was condemning in Jeremiah. For us they are nothing more than a pretty object that defines the season. Some Christian traditions have developed a whole Christian symbology referring to the tree, some treat it as a symbol of the Tree of Life which Christ opens to believers. But at bottom, for a Christian the ONLY thing we need to be aware of is the condition of our own heart in any celebration, and, I should add, a respectful awareness of the conscience of our brethren.

Surely we can simply ignore the pagan silliness of Santa Claus in our celebrations and avoid the overindulgence of the season and that sort of thing without getting all indignant about what the unbelievers do.

In the second half of his Part II Pinto gets into the big flap about the culture's pulling away from the focus on Christmas in saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" and the offense taken by some Christians. Of course this is all about the "Culture Wars" and the rise of the politics of "multiculturalism" over the last few decades, but it should also be noted that the greeting "Happy Holidays" goes back before all that without the political onus that is now attached to it. At the very least it included the New Year with Christmas.

Now it has become a sign of the fact that the culture no longer regards itself as Christian, has begun to appropriate the American First Amendment to validate all religions, even in some sense every religion BUT Christianity, and that's what the churches are objecting to. We are no longer "Christendom" we are headed as a culture back to the paganism Christianity had slowly displaced over the centuries.

Pinto says it's silly to try to make the pagan culture acknowledge Christmas since they don't believe in Christ anyway. It's a good point but I think he's missing the bigger context of the culture wars and why this upsets Christians these days. [Later: I should acknowledge here, however, that Chris Pinto also did the most convincing study I've ever run across demonstrating the NON-Christian foundations of America, which I'm sure I covered somewhere in this blog or another of my blogs. It's at You Tube I'm sure. So in his mind there really hasn't been a Christian culture to lose.]

It IS a good point though. I think he's right overall, we should just give up our insistence on a Christian culture which hasn't existed for decades anyway. It's good for the church that we separate ourselves from the culture, why should we expect anything of unbelievers? We are told we are not of this world and we should embrace this opportunity for a clearer separation.

At the end of Part II he makes some very good points about how just about everything has a pagan meaning anyway, including the rainbow, including just about every number, defined by pagans or satanists or whatnot, things whose TRUE origin is God. He makes the point that it's superstition to get exercised over the satanic meanings that were imposed on the things that were made by God. This world IS ruled by Satan, this IS a fallen world until the Lord recreates it at the very end, but as for TRUE origins, it BELONGS TO God -- the rainbow belongs to God, numbers belong to God, the days of the calendar belong to God, etc. etc. etc. -- while Satan's rule is going to come to an end thanks to the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.



*"Head of the Church": I just feel like adding the personal information here that when I was first learning about Christianity -- in the mid-80s -- I was strongly drawn to some Catholic writers, especially the "mystics" like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross and Brother Lawrence and Madame Guyon. (Just for the record I still love them, especially the latter two, though I've learned to separate out their specifically Catholic errors from their genuine love of Christ). I was sure I was going to become a Catholic but I made no move toward any church for quite some time, content for the time being just to read and read and read and learn everything I could about the history of the Church and Christendom.

After I'd encountered some Protestant writers I was not so sure I was going to become a Catholic but I had yet to learn about the Reformation. (I did not like Martin Luther. He struck me as a rude heathen by contrast with the genuine followers of Christ melted in adoration of Him that I'd found the "mystics" to be, so it took me a while to get around to Reformation writings).

At one point in that period I ran across a description of the Pope as "Head of the Church" and it really bothered me. The next time I opened the Bible the Lord guided me to one of the passages where it says flatly, "Christ is the Head of the Church" (Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:18).

That abruptly ended my leanings toward Catholicism. After that I began to learn about the Antichrist nature of the Roman Church.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More on the accusation of "religion" as the source of murder in this world

This kind of information usually gets posted on my World Against God blog, but since EvC has been putting up this sort of tripe in relation to Christopher Hitchens' death and a couple other threads they have going, I'll keep it with my own Hitchens' posts for now.

This is a post by purpledawn supposedly proving that religion is responsible for more murders than nonreligious political movements. Unfortunately after posting this it seemed confusing to me and I took it down for a while. It still is confusing to me and I really don't know what I should think about it but I'm putting it back up anyway.

The source for her information is this blog. Interestingly she seems to be using the information as proof against Christianity, although the blog is arguing the opposite, as I also do below.

Deaths caused by the Religious

1562-1598 – French Wars of Religion – France – 4 million
1095-1291 – Crusades to the Holy Land – Middle East, Spain, Africa – 1.5 million (This does include all sides of the conflict)
1184-c. 1860 – Various Christian Inquisitions – Europe – 17,500
184-205 – Yellow Scarves Rebellion (Taoists) – China – 7 million
1300s-1521 – Human Sacrifices (Aztecs) – Mexico – 1 million
1855-1877 – Panthay Rebellion (Muslims) – China – 12 million
1971 – Bangladesh Atrocities (Islamists) – East Pakistan – 3 million
September 11, 2007 – Terrorist attacks (Muslim Jihadists) – USA – 5,000

Deaths caused by the Non-Religious

1932-1933 – Holodomor (communist atheists) – Ukraine – 10 million
1941-1945 – Nazi Genocides (statist atheists) – Germany – 11 million
1959-1962 – Great Leap Forward famine (communist atheists) – China – 43 million
1975-1979 – Khmer Rouge Repression (communist atheists) – Cambodia – 3 million

Christianity and Religion Have Caused More Deaths Than Anything Else in History
I'm not sure what point Purpledawn is trying to make or if she's even noticed that the blogger concluded that deaths caused by "religious" are far fewer than deaths caused by "nonreligious:"

The deaths caused by non-Christians – approximately 90 MILLION! And this is actually a conservative number.

In other words, even if you could attribute deaths to Christians, which we established at the beginning of this piece is not really the case, they are only responsible for 1/15 the deaths as non-Christians.
It appears that the blogger is comparing Christians and nonChristians, but Purpledawn is comparing religious and nonreligious causes of death. The blogger comes up with 6 million deaths caused by "Christians" and 90 million by nonChristians from that same list, but it's not at all clear whether Purpledawn has even recognized this point.

In reality, there isn't even ONE example of a Christian cause of any of the murders listed. And presumably they ARE murders, not merely "deaths."

Anything French, and the Crusades and the Inquisition, were not Christian but Catholic and their victims were PREDOMINANTLY genuine Christians, though atheists these days delight in not knowing anything about this history. May I suggest starting with Foxe's Book of Martyrs? Not that ANYTHING recommended by a Christian would get a fair hearing from them of course, but hey, we try. Other "religious" murders on that list are not even remotely Christian.

I've given up trying to grasp what Purpledawn thought those statistics represent, but atheists and unbelievers such as Hitchens probably wouldn't accept them. However, they usually take most of their "evidence" from the Bible itself rather than such worldly events, and when they accuse the Bible and God Himself they are like those who protest against the Death Penalty, refusing to distinguish between justice and murder. Some day God's justice will be only too apparent to them, and undeniably justified as well, shutting their blasphemous mouths, but for now they like to accuse God of the very murders He condemns and the standard for which they could have learned nowhere else but from Biblical Christianity. Just as Pastor Wilson kept saying about Christopher Hitchens -- He learned his morality from the Bible that he wrongly aims against God and Christianity. Of course he did. The world had no such morality before Christ, but trust the fallen intellect to twist it against Christ Himself.

Purpledawn may be reading the list wrong, hard to know, but apparently the blogger also reads it wrong since he accepts that Catholics are Christians.

If Hitchens is right, we can attribute at least Nazism to religion instead of "nonreligion", as deriving from the Roman Catholic Right as he put it. So let's attribute lots of murders to "religion." That's fair. An argument could be made that all the above in a sense ARE "religions" -- but they certainly are NOT Christianity. They are exactly what the Bible identifies as religion in this world since Eden -- the inventions of Satan and his demons. And since Hitchens startled me into recognizing how much of "secular" politics also has a religious element, deriving from Roman Catholic paganism or the deification of political leaders as done in ancient Rome, which for all intents and purposes is now embodied in the Vatican, yes, certainly Nazism, but even Communism, such as Stalinism, may be said to be "religious."

Of course the necessary distinction between religion and Biblical Christianity is still going to escape the atheistic mindset because they don't want to know anything about it and would just LOVE to sic the lions on us. Fine. Bring them on. Come soon, Lord Jesus.


Sigh. And now I'm constrained to notice that someone posted an enormously long bunch of quotations earlier in that thread supposedly demonstrating that Hitler was really a Christian. I'm not up to reading through it right now but I suppose I may have to eventually. Nothing could be more obvious than that Hitler was no Christian. The churches under Hitler were obligated to swear fealty to him and to the Nazi Party, and any that refused and preached the true gospel were suspected of treason. Hitler was a member of the Catholic Church which isn't Christian anyway, and curried the Vatican's favor when it suited him. He also DID engage in occultic and satanic practices (not that there's anything really contradictory between that and Catholicism, but there certainly is between those practices and Biblical Christianity). Of course he didn't want to lose the loyalty of Christians in the country and much that sounds Christian was just his politicking to keep the churches in line. Unfortunately there were Christian churches that did embrace Nazism and didn't see through it until the very end. HOWEVER, eventually perhaps I'll read that supposed proof of Hitler's "Christianity." He sure made a good Antichrist, fooled a lot of people and is still fooling them. The Big One yet to come will no doubt do an even better job of it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christopher Hitchens almost put his finger on the Antichrist

Saw a video clip of Hitchens objecting strenuously to the accusation that evolution influenced more murders in this world than religion ever did, claiming that for instance neither Hitler nor Stalin nor Mussolini nor Croatia were inspired by evolution but by Catholicism and by centuries of deification of human leaders. He said that fascism is really an expression of the Roman Catholic Right!

That really grabbed my attention. It's a very insightful observation, though he of course makes the common mistake of equating Catholicism with Christianity, and misses the point that evolution HAS inspired callousness toward human beings, Margaret Sanger and abortion being one obvious example, and Sanger's racist eugenics DID influence Hitler. Also the Communist regimes have been decidedly atheistic and extravagantly murderous.

HOWEVER, his point is worth thinking about. Russia had the Czars, which is the Russian term for "Caesar" and Germany had the Kaisers, which is the German term for "Caesar," both regimes having admired the Roman Empire with its Caesars and consciously seeking to reestablish that Empire, as in "the Third Reich" or third Empire, and as in "The Holy Roman Empire." Of course a final revived Roman Empire is exactly what a certain school of Biblical prophecy is expecting, based predominantly on the Book of Daniel, so it's interesting to realize that exactly such a revival has been attempted in the past. The Holy Roman Empire started in 962 and extended up to the 1800s, then there was a "second Reich" or empire under Wilhelm 1, and then it was Hitler who headed the "Third Reich." All these were conscious revivals of the Roman Empire! And all centered in Germany, though the same mentality also existed in Russia as well.

The Caesars are a type of the Antichrist, political leaders who came to regard themselves as gods, and any attempt to revive the Roman Empire would imply the same deification of the leader, which was clearly seen in Hitler though he didn't call himself Kaiser. Also, of course, the Roman Empire in its final form was Catholic and the Catholic pontiff and hierarchy continue to imitate the original pagan Roman leadership which goes back through the "mystery religions" to the pagan religion of Babylonia. We don't yet have the Fourth Reich or Empire but the mere existence of three historical forerunners suggests it's certainly going to come about, and probably quite soon. Daniel prophesied four great empires, the fourth to be an immensely powerful and evil "beast." {Later: I need to clarify that Daniel was talking about the series of empires that started in his own time, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, Greece under Alexander, and then the Roman Empire, not the wannabe-be Roman Empires I've noted here -- but they are no doubt dress rehearsals for that final Fourth Empire of Daniel anyway, which will be a revival of the Roman Empire but more powerful than any empire ever yet seen -- more directly satan/demon-empowered for instance}. What is a deified "Caesar" but an Antichrist! Lots of 'em even, and yet a final doozy to come.

As usual, an outsider such as Hitchens has fallen for the lie that Catholicism has anything whatever to do with Christianity, and therefore falsely accuses Christianity of the murders committed by Catholicism, but he does nevertheless seem to have made an important observation about fascism we should take notice of.

Hitchens also attacked Mother Teresa, mostly not for the right reasons but in my opinion anyone who puts down Mother Teresa can't be all bad. Her main offense to my knowledge was that she refused to give the gospel to the dying people she cared for, saying their own religion was good enough, thus consigning them to Hell without a chance of changing their minds. Hitchens would no doubt have put that on the plus side for her, of course. {Later: I watched a You Tube series Hitchens himself made on Mother Teresa in which he finds her guilty of neglect of those she cared for, specifically of failing to give medical help to some who would not have died if they'd had such help, treating them the same as those who would have died anyway. Also her staff didn't bother to sterilize needles they intended to reuse and the attitude was the people are dying so what's the difference? Also, her staff was not allowed to go for any kind of medical training that would have aided them in helping their patients, based on some wacko notion about trusting God. So he did have some valid objections to her work. However, one has to give some credit to her for doing anything at all for people nobody else was doing anything for, and for her stand against abortion.}

My understanding of all this is very rough, but I've been wanting to get back to the various topics connected with Roman Catholicism, the Antichrist, the demonic manifestations of "Mary" and the like, and these rough remarks should get me moving in that direction.

Here come the Christmas debunkers stumbling the brethren again

Tis the season to be jolly, ho ho ho and all that. But at this time of year we are also sometimes admonished by some who are perhaps too wise for the rest of us that Christmas is a pagan holiday that should be shunned by true believers.

When I first learned about the "true origins" of Christmas some twenty years ago by now, I was pretty shaken by the information and stopped celebrating it for a time. But over the years I've come to look at it differently. If you don't know its origin, if you celebrate it innocently as an opportunity to glorify Christ, or even if you DO know its origin but treat it as an opportunity to glorify Christ nevertheless, it really doesn't matter that the date and some of its trappings were taken from pagan holidays. Something done in innocence IS innocent.

I think the scripture that applies most particularly to this concern is 1 Corinthians 10:24-33:
1Cr 10:24-33 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's [wealth]. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another [man's] conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.
That is, don't even THINK ABOUT whether the food in the marketplace was sacrificed to idols (i.e. demons), don't worry about it, it's food given by God and idols are nothing. BUT of course if your brother is aware of the sacrifice and takes it seriously, then abstain for his sake. I don't know if this last concern applies to any Christians' attitude to Christmas, I rather doubt that it does but it would take some thinking about.

Those who insist that Christmas REALLY IS a pagan holiday are insisting that what is in our minds is irrelevant, that what the pagans call it is what it REALLY is. What do they want us to to do, simply eliminate some dates from our calendars altogether because they "really" belong to the pagans? What should we do, sleep through them? When we say "Merry Christmas" are we REALLY saying "Happy Death of Christ?" That's what they claim. What WE intend by the words is irrelevant to them. They superstitiously insist on an "objective" meaning to the words, as if there is simply no way we can avoid "eating the food sacrificed to idols" as it were, even though Paul tells us if we don't consider it at all then we are innocent of the charge. In contrast, our wise ones who know the "true origins" of the holiday, just as if they "know" the food in the marketplace was sacrificed to idols, are going to make us idolaters no matter what our intentions.

The great Charles Spurgeon also spoke against the celebration of Christmas, but if the information at this blog is correct, he nevertheless allowed it as an opportunity to preach Christ's birth and didn't condemn those who celebrated it.

As I note above, the word "merry" in the greeting "Merry Christmas" is sometimes condemned because the word "Christmas" "really" refers to the blasphemous Catholic ritual sacrifice of Christ, which of course cannot be merry, but is it fair to adhere to that meaning of "Christmas" which hardly anyone knows anyway? NOBODY thinks of the "mass" when wishing someone a Merry Christmas.

But apparently some object to the word "merry" apart from all that. Here's what Spurgeon said about the word as reported at the blog mentioned above:
Observe, this morning, the sacred joy of Mary that you may imitate it. This is a season when all men expect us to be joyous. We compliment each other with the desire that we may have a "Merry Christmas." Some Christians who are a little squeamish, do not like the word "merry." It is a right good old Saxon word, having the joy of childhood and the mirth of manhood in it, it brings before one's mind the old song of the waits, and the midnight peal of bells, the holly and the blazing log. I love it for its place in that most tender of all parables, where it is written, that, when the long-lost prodigal returned to his father safe and sound, "They began to be merry." This is the season when we are expected to be happy; and my heart's desire is, that in the highest and best sense, you who are believers may be "merry." Mary's heart was merry within her; but here was the mark of her joy, it was all holy merriment, it was every drop of it sacred mirth. It was not such merriment as worldlings will revel in to-day and to-morrow, but such merriment as the angels have around the throne, where they sing, "Glory to God in the highest," while we sing "On earth peace, goodwill towards men." Such merry hearts have a continual feast. I want you, ye children of the bride-chamber, to possess to-day and to-morrow, yea, all your days, the high and consecrated bliss of Mary, that you may not only read her words, but use them for yourselves, ever experiencing their meaning: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior."
I wonder how often we'd be reminded of many of the great truths of scripture about God's incarnation as man in Christ's birth, such as this one, if we did not have Christmas as their occasion? How often would we hear the hymns we know as Christmas Carols, or the pure King James scripture and glorious God-exalting music of Handel's Messiah if not for Christmas?

So some treat the pagan definition of the date as if it were The Reality to which all else must bend. If it was originally celebrated as Saturnalia or as the birthday of Tammuz, this sort of mentality declares that it really IS Saturnalia or the birthday of Tammuz no matter what people make of it now. If the "yule log" belonged originally to a pagan festival then the mere mention of the word "yule" is to this mentality some kind of demonic invocation. This is absurd, and it is a violation of the spirit of the scripture I've quoted above. You CREATE the idolatrous mentality you attach to these mere dates and terms by equating them with their original meaning instead of recognizing that what they REALLY are has nothing to do with their original meaning but ONLY WITH WHAT THEY HAVE BECOME AND WHAT THEY ARE IN THE MINDS OF THOSE WHO CELEBRATE THEM. We do NOT celebrate "Tammuz's birthday" or "Saturnalia." We do NOT celebrate the "mass" either, so who cares that it refers to a Catholic blasphemy? If it is not that in the minds of those who celebrate it then it is simply not relevant. We KNOW Christ's actual birthday is not given in the scripture and we KNOW that if it were it would not be December 25th. SO WHAT?

You stumble your brethren and offend their conscience by making them aware of idolatries of which they would be completely innocent except for your meddling.

Hey, Mr. Wise Man. Say your birthday falls somewhere near Hitler's birthday and one year your family couldn't celebrate it on your actual birthday but chose another day for the occasion that just happened to be Hitler's birthday although nobody in the family knew that. Except Uncle Wilhelm who owlishly proclaimed that the family was not REALLY celebrating YOUR birthday, but REALLY celebrating Hitler's. Would he be right?

Just because witches and warlocks and idolaters have chosen a particular date on the calendar for their nefarious purposes does NOT mean we have to accept their definition of that date. May 1st is not "Beltane" unless you are a witch or a "neopagan," it's just May 1st.


Later. I feel the need to offer a caveat here. Not about what I've said above but about other innocent appropriations of what really are idolatrous or demonic activities. Such as the use of oracles, the Ouija board, the practices of Eastern religions and that sort of thing. AND the knowing participation in Catholic idolatries such as the Mass or "veneration" (worship) of Mary and Catholic "saints" and the like. Even if done in complete innocence of the occultic and demonic nature of these things you may still be exposing yourself to their demonic influence, because there IS no truly innocent way to practice something that really is demonic in both origin and common use. It is possible that you may be protected to some extent by your innocence of their true meaning, nevertheless, but this is not the same thing as dates on a calendar which all belong to God, or food in the marketplace that also all belongs to God. But some things DO have demonic origins, EXCLUSIVELY demonic origins, and you DO expose yourself to their influence by using them at all.

I innocently accepted a mantra through a Transcendental Meditation ceremony some years before I became a Christian, unaware that the sound I was given is the name of a Hindu "deity" I was unknowingly invoking whenever I pronounced it in my mind. I also got involved with various oracles and discovered their amazing "uncanniness." There are demons behind them too. I was definitely exposed to demonic activity through these things, some rather frightening occurrences as a matter of fact. The mantra quite suddenly opened up a vision to me as I simply sat pronouncing it in my mind - an amazingly clear vision as if I had been transported to some other place altogether, that so startled and frightened me I couldn't ever practice TM again. Some things you cannot REALLY fool around with "innocently" no matter how ignorant you are of their true nature.

It is also important that people be warned of the true meaning of the Catholic mass so that they can separate themselves from such things, and the demonic nature of the supposed apparitions of "Mary" for the same reason. These things are demonic delusions that will capture innocent minds if not warned about them.

BUT the celebration of a holiday with the intention of glorifying Christ or even in a heathen sort of innocence that nevertheless associates the holiday with Christ as a festival of "Christendom" with no knowledge of idolatries associated with it, is not the same thing. This really is best understood in the terms of the scripture I've quoted above, a case where there is no demonic influence if it is not recognized.

Goodbye Christopher Hitchens

I cried when I heard Christopher Hitchens - "Hitch" - had died. {Later (12/21): I don't know why I cried. I really don't. I didn't like anything the man had to say. Maybe it was because I saw him in the video with Douglas Wilson which highlighted the cordiality of their relationship. Wilson treated him with a great deal of respect, which is a good thing, but I nevertheless thought Hitchens' arguments were unintelligent -- unbelievers simply do not and cannot "get it" and I've come to the conclusion that there's no point in trying to change their minds. Scripture SAYS they can't get it. You have to believe the basics before you can get it.}

He was an icon of the atheist debates over the last decade or so, and of the Left going much further back than that, though in recent years he had begun to object to some of the Leftist arguments. He had charm and wit and even when I hated what he was saying I couldn't dislike him personally. {Later: I'm not sure that's true. I think I didn't like him really. His charm was very self-consciously cultivated and I did not like that. He did have wit but not of any high level. Must have written this too soon after his death, which for some reason did affect me.} I made a point of listening to the debates he participated in that I could find on the internet. {Later: I also made a point of listening to the debates Dawkins did, and many others on the atheist Christian-bashing circuit, and I don't "like" any of those people}.

It disturbs me greatly when Christians say goodbye to an unbeliever with "rest in peace" because it's a form of lying and denial of the faith. They should know an unbeliever cannot rest in peace after death. It is true that "now he knows" what he denied in his lifetime about another world beyond this one. I wish he'd discovered it in this life but he didn't and much as I might wish he could "rest in peace" I'd be denying the truth if I pretended it were possible.

David Horowitz counted him a personal friend both from his own leftist past and in his neo-conservative life, and he wrote this tribute to him. I also have to hope that David will eventually discover God as well.

Later: Found this obituary by Douglas Wilson at Christianity Today. He finishes with "R.I.P" after expressing the hope that God might still have converted him at the end, fair enough though by all the signs I'm aware of he remained adamantly unconverted to the end. There is a DVD of Pastor Wilson and Hitchens traveling and debating together available at Amazon and elsewhere, also free on You Tube. They developed something close to a friendship during their debates.

All the debates against Biblical Christianity come down to one thing in the end, which the Bible itself reveals:
1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
Christopher Hitchens would rail against the "immorality" of Christ's death for our sins, basically its "foolishness" as seen by a good Greek mind. Our message is foolishness to the world, they can't hear it, and sometimes they get all exercised against it and throw us to the lions for it.


Wed Dec 21: Found This article by Peter Hitchens, Christopher's brother, on his completely different path from his brother's, back to Christianity. I think he does a very good job of making the case against his brother's atheism though of course he couldn't get Christopher to recognize it. But for me that was overshadowed by some of what he said about his own change of heart:
No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden's 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.

I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell.

These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions.

On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.

I had a sudden strong sense of religion being a thing of the present day, not imprisoned under thick layers of time. My large catalogue of misdeeds replayed themselves rapidly in my head.

I had absolutely no doubt that I was among the damned, if there were any damned. Van der Weyden was still earning his fee, nearly 500 years after his death.

At around the same time I rediscovered Christmas, which I had pretended to dislike for many years. I slipped into a carol service on a winter evening, diffident and anxious not to be seen.

I knew perfectly well that I was enjoying it, although I was unwilling to admit it. I also knew I was losing my faith in politics and my trust in ambition, and was urgently in need of something else on which to build the rest of my life.

I am not exactly clear now how this led in a few months to my strong desire - unexpected by me or by my friends, but encouraged by my then unbelieving future wife - to be married in church.

But I can certainly recall the way the words of the Church of England's marriage service, at St Bride's in London, awakened thoughts in me that I had long suppressed. I was entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being. It was the first properly grown-up thing that I had ever done.

The swearing of great oaths concentrates the mind. So did the baptisms first of my daughter and then of my wife who, raised as a Marxist atheist, trod another rather different path to the same place.

Read more:
...entering into my inheritance, as a Christian Englishman, as a man, and as a human being.
I had a similar sort of feeling when I was finally solidly a believer -- along with the amazing discovery that it was all real, that God is real, that there is such a thing as salvation, that God purchased it for me, all the wonderful discoveries of this previously unthinkable and aggressively rejected and repudiated but now vividly real Reality beside which everything else paled into nothingness -- besides all that there was this sense of having "entered into my inheritance" that I had vaguely apprehended as a child, salvation, yes, but this was also the culture I had grown up in suddenly showing itself to be a Christian culture and me having been given its opportunities which I had repudiated. The first Christmas after becoming a believer that I experienced in a church I just sat there and sobbed uncontrollably as all those familiar carols were being sung, actually reclaimed in my case, pulled out of the darkness into the light, all of them remembered from childhood and heard off and on throughout over forty years of my life without really being heard, now suddenly full of meaning, full of the Truth that had now become mine. It was a joyful crying of course, but there was so much of the pain of the loss from those previous years in it now finding release it's almost hard to recognize the joy. Oh but joy there is. This is my inheritance, this is reality, this is what I was made for, this is what I had all my life but didn't know I had and only now really have. This great great real real God, this beautiful Savior for whom the most glorious of carols could never be sufficient, to whom we rightly sing adoration, adoration, adoration and lift our hearts to realms of glory that otherwise have no excuse for existing at all in the cramped dark outlook of this benighted earth.

I have to repeat that, it's so true:
...realms of glory that otherwise have no excuse for existing at all in the cramped dark outlook of this benighted earth.
"Grandeur" in the evolutionistic view of things? Oh Darwin, what you missed out on.

God might have allowed me such an exalted experience without the holiday of Christmas, I'm sure, but I have to think such a concentration of expressions of Glory in the Highest was intended by Him, and refuse to accept the debunkery of those who put it all down to a cheap Christianized version of paganism.

Yes I recognize that this post was supposed to be about Christopher Hitchens and I've taken it back to the recent post about Christmas, but oh well.