Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
If we are in the habit of thanking God for everything that He gives us, we will continue to thank Him! When we rest on God’s word, care about the needs of others, and continually thank God for His provisions, we can remain calm in the midst of the greatest trials.
How can I remain calm under pressure? This has to be one of the most significant questions we find ourselves asking throughout our lives. What is the secret to pressing through the challenges and trials of life without fretting or being overwhelmed by constant anxiety? The answer is found—at least in part—in what Luke tells us in Acts 27 about Paul’s experience when he was shipwrecked while a prisoner of the Roman army.
Paul had warned, to no avail, that they were going to suffer a tragic loss (Acts 27:10–12). The centurion who was guarding the apostle rejected Paul’s warning about the turbulent voyage. Instead of acting in frustration, Paul rested on the word of God. An angel had revealed to him that God was going to carry him along in his ministry, so that Paul would ultimately stand before Caesar. The Lord had also promised to protect those who were with Paul (vv.21–26). Paul reminded the soldiers and the others on board the ship, “take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me” (v.25). When we rest on the word of God in Scripture, we can confidently go through every circumstance of life in which He places us with a calmness.
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By Joy Pullmann — 2 months ago
Many dozens of top religious leaders across the world have formally raised their concerns with Rasanen and Pohjola’s prosecution to the Finnish government and the United Nations. Several U.S. members of Congress have also asked U.S. agencies to take action against Finland for these human rights abuses.
Juhana Pohjola wouldn’t be cast to play his own part if Hollywood made a movie about a bishop put on trial for his faith. The Finnish pastor has inherited a place in the church of Martin Luther, but it appears none of Luther’s pugnacity or vitriol.
In person, Pohjola, 49, is forthright but unassuming, and gentle. Stereotypically, the Finn is thin and tall. He often pauses while speaking to carefully consider his next words. He listens attentively to others with far less impressive resumes.
In more than two decades as a pastor, Pohjola has ministered to congregations as small as 30. He has spent his life building a network of faithful churches across Finland, many of which started with a few people gathered for prayer, Bible study, hymn-singing—and communion, if they can get a pastor. In an in-person interview with The Federalist, Pohjola urged fellow Christian leaders to be willing to seek out “one lost sheep” instead of crowds and acclaim.
This is the man who appears to be the first in the post-Soviet Union West to be brought up on criminal charges for preaching the Christian message as it has been established for thousands of years. Also charged in the case that goes to trial on January 24 is Pohjola’s fellow Lutheran and a Finnish member of Parliament, Paivi Rasanen.
Rasanen’s alleged crimes in a country that claims to guarantee freedom of speech and religion include tweeting a picture of a Bible verse. Potential penalties if they are convicted include fines and up to two years in prison.
Finnish Authorities: The Bible Is Hate Speech
Rasanen and Pohjola are being charged with “hate speech” for respectively writing and publishing a 24-page 2004 booklet that explains basic Christian theology about sex and marriage, which reserves sex exclusively for within marriage, which can only consist of one man and one woman, for life. The Finnish prosecutor claims centuries-old Christian teachings about sex “incite hatred” and violate legal preferences for government-privileged identity groups.
Writer Rod Dreher pointed out the witch hunt nature of this prosecution: “Räsänen wrote that pamphlet seven years before LGBT was added to the national hate-speech law as a protected class. She was investigated once before for the pamphlet, and cleared — but now she’s going to undergo another interrogation.”
Rasanen and Pohjola both have adamantly affirmed “the divinely given dignity, value, and human rights of all, including all who identify with the LGBTQ community.” Christian theology teaches that all human beings are precious, as all are made in God’s image and offered eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In advance of the trial, Rasanen and Pohjola have been interrogated by police for hours about their theology. Pohjola told me in the interrogation police treated Christian beliefs as thought crimes. In a statement, Rasanen noted that the police publicly admitted their interpretation of Finland’s law would make publishing the Bible a hate crime.
“It is impossible for me to think that the classical Christian views and the doctrine of the majority of denominations would become illegal. The question here is about the core of Christian faith; how a person gets saved into unity with God and into everlasting life though the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. Therefore, it is crucial to also talk about the nature of sin,” Rasanen told Dreher. “As we are living in a democratic country, we must be able to disagree and express our disagreement. We have to be able to cope with speech that we feel insults our feelings. Many questions are so debatable and contradictory that we have to have the possibility of discussing. Otherwise the development is towards a totalitarian system, with only one correct view.”
Major International Implications
Humans rights lawyer Paul Coleman, who spoke to The Federalist from his Alliance Defending Freedom International office in Vienna, Austria, says Pohjola and Rasanen’s cases are a “canary in the coalmine” for freedom of speech across the West. ADF International is providing legal support for Pohjola and Rasanen’s cases.
“Although all European countries have these hate speech laws, and these hate speech laws are increasingly being used against citizens for things that they say, this is the first time we’ve really seen Christians face criminal prosecution for explaining their biblical views,” Coleman said. “…It’s unprecedented. We’ve not seen attacks on free speech on this level in Europe, and that’s why they are extremely important cases, not just for the people of Finland and Paivi Rasanen and the bishop themselves, but for all of Europe. If this is upheld in one jurisdiction, we will no doubt see it in other jurisdictions as well.”
By R. Scott Clark — 3 months ago
Written by R. Scott Clark |
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
For us Christians, let vaccines be vaccines and not sacraments. Let science be science and not a new religion. If something may not be questioned, however, it is a religion and not science.
John Calvin (1509–64) famously wrote that the human heart is a “perpetual factory of idols” (Institutes 1.11.18).
What he meant is that since human beings are irrevocably and naturally religious and, after the fall, profoundly corrupted by sin, our religious inclinations do not disappear but are misdirected. The question is not whether humans will be religious but how? Yesterday on Twitter Jules Diner posted a quotation from a certain Thomas Sheridan, a writer hitherto unknown to me:
The ‘Pandemic’ has been a kind of religious event for most people. For the first time in [their] entire existences they had something meaningful to live for. It gave them rituals, fear of damnation, and hope for redemption and salvation with the vaccine[s] being the keys to ‘the kingdom of heaven.’ They could point fingers at heretics and unbelievers like their ancestors did back in the Middle Ages. [Ed. note: revised for punctuation and grammar]
I do not know if this is an original analysis but it seems true. There is a religious quality to some responses to the pandemic (and to other crises too). Consider the global cooling [1970s]/global warming [1980s–90s]/climate change [2000s] crisis. There are reasonable grounds for questioning the claims being made about anthropogenic [man-made] climate change but increasingly debate on this issue is being silenced. By definition science operates on the principle of doubt not trust. Anyone who knows just a little about the history of science or even its most basic principles knows that it operates on doubt, questions, discussion, and even debate. When scientists publish their results the first thing that happens is that other scientists try to replicate their methods and results to verify them. Science does not trust. It doubts and tests. Anyone who tells us to “trust the science” is advocating a dogmatic, unreasoning religion not science. Christianity, by contrast, has dogmas to be sure but it is not unreasoning. It is grounded in historical claims. We claim that the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is a historical event the evidence of which (i.e., Jesus of Nazareth) was witnessed by hundreds of people. We have written accounts, produced by sane, reasonable people of these historical events. Further, we claim that there is more evidence to come: Jesus will return bodily and there will be more bodily resurrections.
It has been observed that lab-coated scientists are the priests of Modernity. They are the clerics who diagnose the ills of our bodies (e.g., medicine) and souls (e.g., pyschiatry) and it is they who prescribe the cure of bodies and souls. Steadily through the Modern period their pronouncements have become unquestionable and dogmatic. So, the turn of the culture, during the pandemic, to lab-coated priests is understandable. It is interesting that Dr Fauci’s NIH staff photo shows him in a lab coat. The lab coat, of course, is the vestment for the new priesthood and Fauci is arguably the new pope of the new priesthood. Consider why Dr Fauci would have his lab coat on for his staff photo? It is not because he had just stepped out of the lab for the photo. He has been an administrator for years. His actual working uniform is a business suit not a lab coat. My grandfather, who was a farmer, did not wear his overalls for the family photo. Fauci wore his lab coat for his staff photo for the same reason a priest wears his vestments for a photo: to signify his office.
Yesterday afternoon my better half was remarking on the comments she was reading below a story in the New York Times about the airline strikes and the vaccine mandates. As she described the tenor and language of the comments I was struck by how much they reminded me of the angriest of witch-hunting medieval mobs. This is quite striking because I imagine that the subscribers of the NYT think of themselves as enlightened and tolerant but there was precious little of either evident in the comment box.
By Bob Unruh — 5 months ago
The judge noted that any loss of First Amendment freedoms, “for even minimal periods of time,” is “irreparable,” and that “similarly situated employees” in the district already have been “chilled from speech” because of the administrators’ actions.
The Virginia Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a lower court’s decision to reinstate Tanner Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, to his position after Loudoun County Public Schools suspended him for expressing his views on the board’s transgender agenda.
The district has been ground zero in America for the fight over transgender mandates in public schools in recent weeks, and just days ago formally adopted a policy demanding adherence to the socio-political agenda.
The lower court had ruled Cross’ suspension was likely unconstitutional as it was because of his speech, which is protected by the First Amendment. The school then appealed to the high court.
“Teachers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideologies that are harmful to their students and that they believe are false, nor should they be silenced for commenting at a public meeting,” Tyson Langhofer, counsel for Cross. “The lower court’s decision was a well-reasoned application of the facts to clearly established law, as the Virginia Supreme Court found. But because Loudoun County Public Schools is now requiring all teachers and students to deny truths about what it means to be male and female and compelling them to call students by their chosen pronouns or face punishment, we have moved to amend our lawsuit to challenge that policy on behalf of multiple faculty members. Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job.”
The board’s new dictate forces all school district students and staff to refer to “gender-expansive or transgender” students using whatever pronouns they can choose.
In response to the board’s adoption of the mandate, several other teachers are being added to the case as plaintiffs.
When the lower court ordered Cross reinstated, the district near Washington, D.C., decided to double down on its punishment, filing the now-unsuccessful appeal.