Morning Reading: Revelation 7.9-12 NLT

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”

And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Reformation Day | First Things

Reformation Day – October 31, 2012
Timothy George

“We confess together: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

It was around two o’clock in the afternoon on the eve of the Day of All Saints, October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther, hammer in hand, approached the main north door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg and nailed up his Ninety-Five Theses protesting the abuse of indulgences in the teaching and practice of the church of his day. In remembrance of this event, millions of Christians still celebrate this day as the symbolic beginning of the Protestant Reformation. At Beeson Divinity School, for example, we do not celebrate Halloween on October 31. Instead we have a Reformation party.

But did this event really happen? Erwin Iserloh, a Catholic Reformation scholar, attributed the story of the theses-posting to later myth-making. He pointed to the fact that the story was first told by Philip Melanchthon long after Luther’s death. Other Luther scholars rushed to defend the historicity of the hammer blows of Wittenberg. In fact, the door of the Castle Church did serve as the official university bulletin board and was regularly used for exactly the kind of announcement Luther made when he called for a public disputation on indulgences.

But whether the event happened at two o’clock in the afternoon, or at all, is not the point. Copies of Luther’s theses were soon distributed by humanist scholars all over Europe. Within just a few weeks, an obscure Augustinian monk in a backwater university town had become a household name and was the subject of chatter from Lisbon to Lithuania.

It was not Luther’s intention to divide the Church, much less to start a brand new church. To the end of his life, he considered himself to be a faithful and obedient servant of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Though Luther renounced his monastic vows and married a former nun, Katarina von Bora, he never forgot that he had received a doctorate in Holy Scripture. His vocation was to teach the written Word of God and to point men and women to the Lord of Scripture, Jesus Christ.

On this Reformation Day, it is good to remember that Martin Luther belongs to the entire Church, not only to Lutherans and Protestants, just as Thomas Aquinas Continue reading “Reformation Day | First Things”

Morning Reading: Ephesians 6.1-4 NLT

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Ephesians 6.1-4 NLT

” Freedom of Worship or Religion?” – What Will Become of the Middle East’s Christians? | First Things

Peanut Gallery: What’s the difference between “Freedom of Worship” and “Freedom of Religion?”

The secularists in the Obama administration are attempting to substitute the former for the latter in official “human rights” documents – so what?

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2010 Annual Report took note of the shift, stating, “This change in phraseology could well be viewed by human rights defenders and officials in other countries as having concrete policy implications.”

As Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom, observed, this expression implies a narrower scope of the exercise of religion. “It excludes the right to raise your children in your faith; the right to have religious literature; the right to meet with co-religionists; the right to raise funds; the right to appoint or elect your religious leaders, and to carry out charitable activities, to evangelize, [and] to have religious education or seminary training,” said Shea, who previously served on the Commission.

The simple substitution of one word – “worship” for “religion” – forms the ideological basis for Christian persecution throughout the world… and most particularly in Islamic countries. It’s a big deal!

Please read the full article by Andrew Doran published in First Things

What Will Become of the Middle East’s Christians?

October 30, 2012 – Andrew Doran

In the fall of 2010, a few months before revolution swept the Muslim world, I happened to be in Yemen for work. The trip coincided with the start of the Eid holiday, which provided ample free time to see much of the capital, Sana’a.

One afternoon, en route to the hotel from the historic Old City, the driver pointed out the window at a group of men standing on a vacant corner. “Look!” he said with the excitement of happening upon a rarity. “Those are Jews.”

They were some distance away, and whatever distinguished them from other Yemeni, I could not see it through the window of an SUV. In the blink of an eye, they were no longer visible.

At the start of the last century, there were tens of thousands of Jews in Yemen; today, there are perhaps hundreds. Most were airlifted out in 1949 and 1950 as part of Operation Magic Carpet, an Israeli undertaking to rescue Arab (especially Yemeni) Jews following the pogroms that resulted from the founding of Israel in 1948. While efforts to rescue the remaining Jews have recently resumed, the whereabouts of many Yemeni Jews remains unknown.

The exodus of Jews from Yemen, where they had lived for fifteen centuries before the birth of the Prophet, was not an isolated occurrence; it was repeated across the Middle East and North Africa, as these Diaspora Jews made their way, reluctantly in many cases, to Israel. Their fight for survival foreshadowed that of the more than ten million Christians of the Muslim world, who today struggle to maintain a presence and identity in the lands where they have lived for centuries. Continue reading “” Freedom of Worship or Religion?” – What Will Become of the Middle East’s Christians? | First Things”

Egyptian Prayer Update: “Copts fast for three days ahead of altar lottery”

Peanut Gallery: Yesterday, eligible Coptic voters selected three final candidates as successor to Pope Shenouda III (Wikipedia.) The final selection will be made by a child from the congregation who will choose the new Coptic Pope by lot… ultimately putting the selection in God’s hands. See earlier post.

Prior to Sunday’s selection, the Church has been asked to fast and pray.

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.”

Copts fast for three days ahead of altar lottery – full article.

Coptic Pope Election

The altar lottery will decide the successor to Pope Shenouda III among Bishop Raphael, auxiliary bishop of central Cairo, Bishop Tawadros, the auxiliary bishop for Beheira, and Father Raphael Ava Mina, a monk at St. Mina Monastery.

Bishop Angaelos, secretary for acting Pope Pachomius, said the Church will conduct a lottery to choose one child from amongst 70 children to conduct the final altar lottery.

Georgette Qillini, a member of the nominations committee, said the church has geared up for the altar lottery. Three bits of paper bearing the names of the three nominees will be placed in a glass box and then a child, between 4 and 7 years old, will pick one paper. Continue reading “Egyptian Prayer Update: “Copts fast for three days ahead of altar lottery””