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Continuing my series what’s on Episcopal priests’ minds, the Anglo-Catholic FrKeithV posted a succinct tweet on inclusion in the Church:

I couldn’t agree more. We should be transforming our lives through the gift of faith and God’s infinite grace: becoming more Christlike and rejecting the bondage of sin.

It is unclear whether his next tweet is related to inclusion, but one of the reasons people find inclusion upsetting is that a handful of those who wish to be included do tend to demand it, rather than approach the Church in humility and goodwill.

One remedy for this is to rely on Scripture rather than one’s personal feelings — emotions:

It is hard being a Christian. Sometimes we love our personal baggage, which often keeps us in a sinful cycle. Satan can readily supply us with any number of excuses not to grow spiritually, to remain in his snare.

Our emotional resistance — wilful disobedience — to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is one of the devil’s best tricks. Don’t fall for it.

Have we considered the scriptural accuracy of ‘stairway to heaven’?

This graphic from Reddit explains it beautifully:

This is what Jesus said (Matthew 7:13-14), emphasis mine:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with someone who is the son of a prominent cleric, now deceased. When he spoke at length about accepting sexual depravity in our modern era — Christian tolerance in changing times — I had to remind him of those verses. I doubt it did any good, but we need to know what the Bible says and to speak up about such things.

Matthew HenryAlong with the instruction to build our spiritual houses upon rock, another passage in Matthew 7 from the Sermon on the Mount which bears close scrutiny is our Lord’s teaching on who will be turned away from the kingdom of heaven.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

It is in the three-year Lectionary. One can only wonder about the sermons preached on it. Any number of clergy — as well as congregants — are guilty.

Matthew Henry’s commentary unpacks this passage brilliantly. Excerpts follow. Emphases in bold are mine.

We have an exhortation to sincerity in prayer and use of our Lord’s name:

I. He shows, by a plain remonstrance, that an outward profession of religion, however remarkable, will not bring us to heaven, unless there be a correspondent conversation, Matthew 7:21-23. All judgment is committed to our Lord Jesus the keys are put into his hand he has power to prescribe new terms of life and death, and to judge men according to them: now this is a solemn declaration pursuant to that power. Observe here,

(1.) That it will not suffice to say, Lord, Lord in word and tongue to own Christ for our Master, and to make addresses to him, and professions of him accordingly: in prayer to God, in discourse with men, we must call Christ, Lord, Lord we say well, for so he is (John 13:13) but can we imagine that this is enough to bring us to heaven, that such a piece of formality as this should be so recompensed, or that he who knows and requires the heart should be so put off with shows for substance? Compliments among men are pieces of civility that are returned with compliments, but they are never paid as real services and can they then be of an account with Christ? There may be a seeming importunity in prayer, Lord, Lord: but if inward impressions be not answerable to outward expressions, we are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. This is not to take us off from saying, Lord, Lord from praying, and being earnest in prayer, from professing Christ’s name, and being bold in professing it, but from resting in these, in the form of godliness, without the power.

Then the call to obey Christ:

(2.) That it is necessary to our happiness that we do the will of Christ, which is indeed the will of his Father in heaven. The will of God, as Christ’s Father, is his will in the gospel, for there he is made known, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: and in him our Father. Now this is his will, that we believe in Christ, that we repent of sin, that we live a holy life, that we love one another. This is his will, even our sanctification. If we comply not with the will of God, we mock Christ in calling him Lord, as those did who put on him a gorgeous robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews. Saying and doing are two things, often parted in conversation of men: he that said, I go, sir, stirred never a step (Matthew 21:30) but these two things God has joined in his command, and let no man that puts them asunder think to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Some of us — ‘hypocrites’ — try to substitute legalism, ‘healing’, speaking in tongues and other wonderful works for obedience. This is a particularly sharp warning not to do so which bears rereading:

2. The hypocrite’s plea against the strictness of this law, offering other things in lieu of obedience, Matthew 7:22 … They put in their plea with great importunity, Lord, Lord and with great confidence, appealing to Christ concerning it Lord, does thou not know, (1.) That we have prophesied in thy name? Yes, it may be so Balaam and Caiaphas were overruled to prophesy, and Saul was against his will among the prophets, yet that did not save them. These prophesied in his name, but he did not send them they only made use of his name to serve a turn. Note, A man may be a preacher, may have gifts for the ministry, and an external call to it, and perhaps some success in it, and yet be a wicked man may help others to heaven, and yet come short himself. (2.) That in thy name we have cast out devils? That may be too Judas cast out devils, and yet was a son of perdition. Origen says, that in his time so prevalent was the name of Christ to cast out devils, that sometimes it availed when named by wicked Christians. A man might cast devils out of others, and yet have a devil, nay, be a devil himself. (3.) That in thy name we have done many wonderful works. There may be a faith of miracles, where there is no justifying faith none of that faith which works by love and obedience. Gifts of tongues and healing would recommend men to the world, but it is real holiness or sanctification that is accepted of God. Grace and love are a more excellent way than removing mountains, or speaking with the tongues of men and of angels, 1 Corinthians 13:1,2. Grace will bring a man to heaven without working miracles, but working miracles will never bring a man to heaven without grace. Observe, That which their heart was upon, in doing these works, and which they confided in, was the wonderfulness of them. Simon Magus wondered at the miracles (Acts 8:13), and therefore would give any money for power to do the like. Observe, They had not many good works to plead: they could not pretend to have done many gracious works of piety and charity one such would have passed better in their account than many wonderful works, which availed not at all, while they persisted in disobedience. Miracles have now ceased, and with them this plea but do not carnal hearts still encourage themselves in their groundless hopes, with the like vain supports? They think they shall go to heaven, because they have been of good repute among professors of religion, have kept fasts, and given alms, and have been preferred in the church as if this would atone for their reigning pride, worldliness, and sensuality and want of love to God and man. Bethel is their confidence (Jeremiah 48:13), they are haughty because of the holy mountain (Zephaniah 3:11) and boast that they are the temple of the Lord, Jeremiah 7:4. Let us take heed of resting in external privileges and performances, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand.

That’s quite a slap in the face of legalism, sensationalism and outward appearances! Sadly, however, these things are all the rage in our time. This bears repeating:

Grace will bring a man to heaven without working miracles, but working miracles will never bring a man to heaven without grace.

As does this:

Let us take heed of resting in external privileges and performances, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand.

It gets worse for people who base their lives on outward piety and hidden sin:

How it is expressed I never knew you [;] “I never owned you as my servants, no, not when you prophesied in my name, when you were in the height of your profession, and were most extolled.” This intimates, that if he had ever known them, as the Lord knows them that are his, had ever owned them and loved them as his, he would have known them, and owned them, and loved them, to the end but he never did know them, for he always knew them to be hypocrites, and rotten at heart, as he did Judas therefore, says he, depart from me. Has Christ need of such guests? When he came in the flesh, he called sinners to him (Matthew 9:13), but when he shall come again in glory, he will drive sinners from him.

Ultimately:

They that would not come to him to be saved, must depart from him to be damned. To depart from Christ is the very hell of hell it is the foundation of all the misery of the damned, to be cut off from all hope of benefit from Christ and he mediation. Those that go no further in Christ’s service than a bare profession, he does not accept, nor will he own them in the great day. See from what a height of hope men may fall into the depth of misery! How they may go to hell, by the gates of heaven! This should be an awakening word to all Christians. If a preacher, one that cast out devils, and wrought miracles, be disowned of Christ for working iniquity what will become of us, if we be found such? And if we be such, we shall certainly be found such. At God’s bar, a profession of religion will not bear out any man in the practice and indulgence of sin therefore let every one that names the name of Christ, depart from all iniquity.

This is such a stark and pointed truth — ‘convicting’, as Americans would say.

I have read Henry’s passage several times over the weekend. I hope that you, too, will find it beneficial to your Christian walk.

A new biography of has just hit the shops — American Titan: Searching for John Wayne, published by Dey Street, a division of Harper Collins.

In it, author Marc Eliot tells the legendary actor’s story to a new generation.

John Wayne — and Elvis Presley, for that matter — were two famous popular Americans who never resonated with me. I know little about either.

Therefore, I was somewhat surprised to discover that the actor (whose real name was Marion Morrison) never enlisted in the armed forces to serve in the Second World War because he was too enamoured of Marlene Dietrich. (I’m being polite in using that verb.)

Wayne was married to his first wife, Josephine, at the time.

If this had occurred during the Vietnam War, no one would have batted an eyebrow. However, during the Second World War, Hollywood had a massive war effort. Nearly every able-bodied actor either volunteered or responded to his letter from the draft board.

In a précis of the book, the Mail tells us:

With all the leading men in Hollywood gone he became a valuable acting commodity – and he knew it.

In his book Eliot explains Wayne’s various excuses for not serving: he was too old (other actors in their mid-30s enlisted); he had a shoulder injury (it did not prevent him from starring in action films); he was the sole provider (he divorced Josephine during the war).

He also made the preposterous excuse that Herb Yates, head of Republic Pictures at the time, was going to sue him if he let himself be drafted.

There is no proof of this because when the war ended, the government had destroyed Wayne’s service-related papers.

By 1942, Dietrich moved on and was dating George Raft as well as recent French emigré Jean Gabin, France’s biggest film star. Wayne was crestfallen.

Wayne decided that he could better serve his country by touring American bases with the USO. However, Eliot writes that this did not go well:

He thought he could make up for it by making appearances at USO shows in the South Pacific and Australia – ‘his version of military service’ but he was greeted with raucous booing by the enlisted men who had served in hard combat.

The press didn’t write about the booing but the soldiers viewed Wayne, along with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Al Jolson as Hollywood entertainers just looking for some good p.r.

Wayne went to hospitals and ‘told the press he felt he belonged at the fronts with the boys’. He told them he’d be back after his picture commitments. But he never went back to Burma and China not only because he didn’t have time but because of the less-than-warm welcome.

It seems that Wayne later felt guilty and tried to (over-?) compensate for his lack of military service:

Wayne’s third wife, Pilar Pallete, an actress from Peru who he married in 1954 as soon as he divorced ‘pug nose’ Chata, stated that Wayne became a ‘super-patriot for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying at home’ and not serving in the war effort.

Throughout his life, Wayne remained uncompromising in his anti-Communist stance and unforgiving battle against subversives.

He began as a supporter of FDR and became ‘one of the toughest and most unforgiving political soldiers in Hollywood’s war on communism’. He was ‘willing to throw out the cream of Hollywood’s talent, with the bathwater of their perceived politics’ …

‘Wayne’s resistance to change was granite hard and the more doctrinaire he became, the more out of fashion he sounded’.

So, John Wayne, cinema’s war icon, never saw fit to serve his country during wartime. He preferred his own pleasures and new prestige as an actor — when his peers were off fighting the enemy.

A story similar in some ways to that of today’s equivalent: Ted Nugent.

Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, died at the weekend.

What happy memories I have of dancing to her singles during my stay in France. Her producer at the time, Giorgio Moroder, was the King of Eurodisco, which transformed dancefloors across the Continent in the mid-1970s.

It’s hard to believe that Moroder, now living in Los Angeles, is 72 and that Summer was 63. How time flies.

Words cannot express how much I loved Summer’s and Moroder’s collaborative efforts. They brightened my world for a few years.

Anyway, a few words about this lady — born and raised in Dorchester (Boston, Massachusetts) — and a frequent churchgoer who eventually found her way back to God after a decade of musicals, recording studios and concerts. Although she never lost her faith, at one point — as she told Pat Robertson in 1983 (see video at the end of the article) — she wondered if God would forgive her sins of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Around 1979 or 1980, she was on anti-depressants, which she discusses in the video. She explained that whilst they deadened the depression, they awakened other parts of her mind. For instance, she would stay awake for days at a time. She also felt severe pangs of conscience. She dreamt of herself as being three different people. So disturbed by what was happening, thanks to a friend, she was able to meet with a pastor who laid hands on her. She never looked back.

Although she never gave up recording and concerts, she and her music moved away from the sensuality of the Eurodisco era. In the mid-1980s, homosexual groups criticised her stance on AIDS, which she said was a punishment from God. She later apologised for any pain she caused AIDS sufferers and added that some of the men she worked with were also gay.  As anyone who was sentient at the time knows, disco had a huge gay following in the 70s, particularly in New York (e.g. Studio 54).

Summer, whose maiden name was Gaines, took the surname of her first husband, the Austrian Helmuth Sommer, and anglicised it. She and Sommer had a daughter together — Mimi — who has since had children of her own, adding to Summer and second husband Bruce Sudano‘s familial joy.  The Sudanos had two daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda Grace. Sudano also works in the music business as a singer, songwriter and producer and used to accompany his wife on tours as a musician and singer.

Although she did not smoke, Donna Summer died of lung cancer, said to be unrelated to secondhand smoke. I wanted to highlight that so that people do not start using her in their leftist and secular pietist anti-tobacco campaigns.

Although no prescription drug name was mentioned in the video, I should like to add that Miss Summer’s experience with anti-depressants ties in with those of two people I knew. In the late 1980s, one of my colleagues in the US — a bright, happy, efficient worker — became depressed; it seems her (very) long-term boyfriend had not yet asked for her hand in marriage. (They have since married.) At the time, her doctor prescribed Xanax, which made her tired, weepy and withdrawn, at least temporarily.  In the second case, in the mid-1990s, I worked with a woman in the UK whose boyfriend was prescribed Xanax. They had been having problems before, but the drug made his behaviour violent and erratic. She was very grateful they were not living together because she feared the worst. They broke up several weeks after he started taking the tablets. ‘I’M PERFECTLY FINE — YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM’, he would yell at her over the phone, generally first thing in the morning.  Oh, my.

Donna Summer told Pat Robertson that she took prescription drugs to deaden her conscience. She explained to him that she was trying to run from coming clean with God. The pills only made things worse, although she added that God works everything to His plan. She wasn’t sure if He would forgive her — saying that Satan was starting to get a grip on her to go further down the road to perdition.  After her healing and return to faithfulness, she said that she had assurance, although she still hadn’t completely forgiven herself for several years spent in a ‘kind of darkness’.  Former journalist, now screenwriter, Joe Eszterhas also spoke of coming out of ‘darkness’ when he returned to faith.

Please, if you are in this type of situation, do take a quarter of an hour to watch Summer’s 1983 video. She spoke for many people and, despite all we read and hear about drug use (recreational or prescription), we get very little about its deadening of the conscience of the sinner. Donna Summer would no doubt encourage everyone who feels now as she did then to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness today.  She was broken. Joe Eszterhas — who lived on the wild side — was also broken. They knew the world and sin only too well. Take time to read and hear what they had to say — then give it careful consideration.  May God bless you in your reconciliation with Him, your Heavenly Father who embraces all His prodigal sons and daughters.

Finally, my deepest sympathies to Bruce Sudano and to Donna Summer’s daughters along with prayers for strength and resilience in the days and months ahead.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us Donna Summer and her unforgettable voice.  She made many of us who came of age in the 1970s happy people with fond memories of her music.

Further reading:

Donna Summer – Telegraph

Donna Summer Called Her Singing ‘Power’ from God – CBN News

That quote comes from the second episode in the second series of Downton Abbey, now on ITV1 on Sunday evenings.

Julian Fellowes has written a number of memorable bon mots for Maggie Smith, who plays Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham. This is one of them — and one for Christians, in particular, to take seriously, given man’s proclivity towards excess and impulse.

About a decade ago, I worked with a French business associate employed by an American multinational.  As a manager, he dutifully parrotted what his American bosses said: ‘Perception is 9/10ths of reality’, or something similar.  It sounded quite postmodern to me. As such, and seeing that he was not someone whom one could particularly use as a role model, I ignored it, despite his uttering it with nauseating regularity.

Lady Violet puts it so much better and with more gravitas. Immediately upon hearing her, I began thinking of all the practical applications and a dozen ways in which it convicted me personally.  She wasn’t speaking in a Christian vein but of a situation in the Grantham household which did not project the family at their best to the outside world.

There is always room for the Christian to improve — outside of legalism!  How does the fruit of one’s faith grow — beautiful and inviting or a bit nubbly and undeveloped?

Our appearance, our speech, our reactions, our family life, the state of our homes all bear testament to our growth in Christ and God’s grace.  Yes, there may be many faithful Christians whose outward manifestations do not quite square up with what they feel in their hearts.

As Lady Violet says:

It’s not the truth that matters, it’s the look of the thing.

Yes, certainly, our faith is a private relationship between us and Christ.  However, the other half of the equation is that when we confess Him as Lord, we are representing Him to the wider world.  Christ instructed us to make disciples of all men.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to pray for God’s grace in order to smooth our edges, roughened by sin.

To take a practical example, let’s look at what we do in our free time.  The Revd Gil Burgos is the Pastor of New Covenant in Christ Church and Director of Education at NYC Full Gospel Theological Seminary.  He recently wrote about Christians and alcohol on his blog, Under the Broom Tree.  In ‘Sipping Saints’, he clearly and intelligently unpacks this relationship.  Emphases mine in the excerpts below:

Below are a few verses that I found, along with my own comments: Now, drinking wine (within itself) is not stated as being sinful in the Bible – especially when it comes to medical reasons: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (I Timothy 5:23, KJV). Yet, drunkenness is…“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, NLT).

I personally, don’t drink…yet, I cannot say that I have not. Still, here is some ample advice: Christian, keep your personal life private – as you have to answer to God anyway. Yet, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of your pastor or church. Also remember, Christ is in you (Colossians 1:27). So, where you go…He goes. Moreover, people can be judgmental. When you post pics of yourself on Facebook or Tweet, “Look where I’m at (Sitting at a Bar),” it doesn’t bring glory to God – for this ungodly world thinks you’re just like them – and you’re not! (I Peter 2:10) …

Again, the world would agree with Lady Violet:

It’s not the truth that matters, it’s the look of the thing.

So, what should the proper Christian response be in this situation?

What God commands Christians regarding alcohol is to avoid drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18). The Bible condemns drunkenness and its effects (Proverbs 23:29-35). Christians are also commanded to not allow their bodies to be “mastered” by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:19). Drinking alcohol in excess is undeniably addictive. Scripture also forbids a Christian from doing anything that might offend other Christians or encourage them to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). In light of these principles, it would be extremely difficult for any Christian to say he is drinking alcohol in excess to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Alcohol, consumed in small quantities, is neither harmful nor addictive. In fact, some doctors advocate drinking small amounts of red wine for its health benefits, especially for the heart. Consumption of small quantities of alcohol is a matter of Christian freedom. Drunkenness and addiction are sin

So, how we present ourselves as ambassadors of Christ is paramount.  When we interact with others, be it friends and family or strangers in the outside world, we are supposed to be representing Christ — not our sinful depravity (e.g. slovenliness, lack of control).

Unfortunately, the human impulse is to judge on appearances.  Fellow Christians can also be judgmental, as a drive-by let me know last year in my lack of condemnation of another pastor — of a discernment ministry — who is undergoing physical and spiritual rehabilitation.  An act of mercy would be to pray for his recovery, not denounce him in a proud, holier-than-thou manner.  There but for the grace of God go we …

On a lighter note, Downton Abbey fans might wish to recall some of Lady Violet’s best lines from the first series, courtesy of New York Magazine.

Earlier this year, one of my cyberfriends sent me a link to an article saying that atheists were better behaved than Christians.

My friend asked, ‘Why is this? Your observations would be helpful.’

Well, I’ll be darned if I can find the original correspondence or the link, which is unusual for me, as I squirrel everything away for future use. So, my apologies to my correspondent for a late online response (although I recall sending a brief reply at the time). I also apologise for being unable to give you the link to the article he sent.

However, there is an element of truth in this notion.  Furthermore, the atheist loses no time in endlessly pointing out the Christian’s faults.  It happened to me many times with one of my ex-colleagues, over 15 years ago.  Often, it’s a battle a believer cannot win.  At some point, after offering all your apologetic arguments, you just have to ignore the jibes.

That said, I published observations on this subject on July 12, 2010 — ‘The perceived dichotomy between unbelievers and Christians’.  The post discusses Anglican and Catholic perspectives, with the following salient points:

First, an Episcopal priest offered a summary of the dichotomy as the Revd Bernard Tyrrell, a Jesuit, sees it:

While moral conversion is interrelated with religious conversion they are also different. He also includes conversion from addiction and conversion from neurosis. This is why a pagan can be a moral person and a Christian can be an addict …

I think it goes a long way in explaining how people who sincerely believe themselves to be born again Christians can think and behave the way they do. That is why monastics are involved in what is called “conversion of manners”.

Second, another Jesuit, a Fr Lonergan — also named Bernard — explains a three-fold conversion.  A biography featured on the Boston University website says this:

Conversion as Lonergan understands it is three-fold … It is about coming to the realization that one’s knowing is commonly a mixture of two different kinds of knowing, and about the process of learning to distinguish between the two and to discern their proper roles. To this … [add] moral and religious conversion. Moral conversion is the shift from self-satisfaction to value as the criterion of one’s decision-making and action. Finally, Lonergan conceives of religious conversion as a being-in-love in an unrestricted fashion. It is the gift of God’s grace flooding our hearts.

I offered an analysis of these observations as well as of the atheist’s outlook.  What follows is a summary — more at the aforementioned link to my 2010 post (emphases mine):

So, one might say that moral conversion — no sinful excesses — is the individual’s move from self-gratification to love.  In an unbeliever, this would translate as valuing oneself, one’s family and friends as well as one’s neighbour.  A Christian would do the same, but above these would be a love of God informing all of his decisions.  Again, the St Augustine quote: ‘Love God and do as you will’.

Yet, because all of us – Christians or not — are fallen men in a fallen world, some of us struggle with progressing from religious conversion to moral conversion.  Moral conversion for the Christian, however, is not legalism, which follows man’s laws, but a grace-filled love of God which translates towards himself and his fellow man. 

Conversely, unbelievers have a moral conversion without a religious one.  This is why they often ‘look better’ in their social acceptability than a Christian who struggles with substance abuse or sexual addiction

To be an ideal Christian requires a combination of the two.  Unbelievers have only one (moral conversion) and many Christians have only one (religious conversion).  To be regenerate is to have the blessings of both.  It’s the reason why so many Christians say that conversion takes a lifetime.

This is a topic worth revisiting from time to time.  It raises good questions.  I hope that these quotations go some way to answering them.

(Photo credit of anarchist’s leaflet: Sally Gainsbury)

Some weeks ago, I saw Gomorrah, the film based on Naples’s Camorra.  When the riots broke out in Tottenham (London) at the weekend it occurred to me that, if left to continue, they could eventually result in a Camorra-type set-up in certain urban areas of England.

I have spent the past few nights reading articles and thousands of reader comments, a number of which come from victims and onlookers of the violence which spread from North London to many other boroughs of our capital city before moving north to Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Salford and westward to Bristol.

We are fortunate enough in Britain, thanks to the taxpayer (a.k.a. ‘Government funding’) and postwar legislation, to have an (overly) bounteous welfare state which takes care of the lower strata of society, particularly in disadvantaged urban areas.  If anyone knows of a tent city in the UK, do let me know. Those who receive public assistance are not starving, nor do they want for clothes, shoes, television or mobile telephony.

Social programmes, community leaders, diversity officers and social cohesion organisations exist for children, adolescents and adults.  Despite ‘Tory cuts’, which, in reality, means slightly deaccelerated spending, these are still well-funded and, with the special interests behind them, will continue to be.

Many middle-class taxpaying households which fund these programmes have fallen on hard times.  Despite their best efforts, many adults have lost their jobs, have had to readjust their finances and carefully balance their budgets.  It means going without holidays away from home, economising on food as well as exercising restraint when it comes to clothes and social occasions.  Despite this, people pay their bills and their taxes without grumbling (too much).

So, it should not come as a surprise to London intelligentsia and media personalities that many middle class families have little to no sympathy for looters and arsonists rampaging the streets of our once-beautiful cities, especially when the middle class is paying the way of said looters and arsonists.

It was devastating to see that elegant late Victorian and Edwardian buildings which have brought a vestige of beauty to London’s more modest areas have been burnt down.  It was even sadder to discover that a number of residents living above or next to burnt out shops had to be evacuated, losing their homes and possessions.  And others — yet more taxpayers funding these runts — will be out of a job because those businesses are now gone.

However, this would seem to have little relevance for a group of teenagers on the rampage. And it garners little sympathy among community leaders and their fellow Marxist apologists.

Yes, we have been told for at least 20 years how these kids have been suffering.  Suffering so much that they can somehow afford top-end trainers (athletic shoes) and BlackBerry phones.  Why not a thank you to taxpayers across Britain instead of savagely stealing from them?  It is a sin to steal in any religious faith, yet, this is what they have done.  And they have bitten the hand which has fed them.

Why soil your own doorstep?  Large chains and small shops graced these neighbourhoods, one of the things I admired about the UK urban scene from the beginning.  There were supermarkets, carpet shops, department stores, cafés, other retail outlets and smaller establishments just steps away from one’s front door.  There was never a need to use a car or public transport in many neighbourhoods.  Now, of course, that has changed dramatically, perhaps permanently.

Kids, you’ve made your bed — now lie in it.  Don’t expect retailers to be clambering over each other to reopen in a new location nearby.  And please don’t complain when they shy away.

Some of those who have lost their businesses or flats might just start to become less receptive to today’s Britain and our current socio-political policies.  Who could blame them?

In short, rioters might be left moaning alone.  Many of us (myself included) didn’t have privileged upbringings, nor did our parents.  What we did have, though, were structured lives and an ethos based on self-reliance, which our parents instilled in us.  These prepared us for school and work.  We knew we had to get on in life.  Our parents told us that no one owed us a living.

To say that poor people feel ‘oppressed’ and have to loot is an insult.  Many generations of Londoners — including immigrants — have experienced true poverty without feeling the need to tear up their own neighbourhoods.   Instead, they worked to make a living and improve their own situation.  That requires time and effort.  Nothing, but nothing, comes easily in this life.

As to the police, I believe they are doing the best job they can under the circumstances.  They are not allowed, thanks to social cohesion experts, to truly take charge of the situation. This they have in common with many other European countries, yes, even France.  I mention that because a number of online commenters have said, ‘If only we had the CRS!’  Well, French police forces have undergone a bit of a revamp over the past several years and they, too, find themselves restrained.  No, we would probably have to look to Asia for the type of policing these riots needed.

However, there is the matter of serious police force (okay, ‘service’) cuts over the next few years.  Did this add to what seemed a bit reactive and passive stand-off at the weekend?  Not sure.  Then, there is another factor, which is public appreciation of the police.  To be fair, senior officers have imposed a target-driven quota of crimes to be solved, also common to other European countries.  It’s not the rank-and-file’s fault.  Having said that, the number of news stories over the past decade have been about police pursuing middle-class Britons for relatively minor offences.  And those from rural areas who participated in the Countryside Alliance marches a few years ago will not forget some of the unnecessary treatment meted out that day.  Then there is the lack of gumption on the part of some police officers to investigate crimes, particularly burglary or car theft.  Gradually, over the past 20 years, some of the middle class have become sceptical about the police ‘service’ delivery provided (paid for through taxes).

On balance, however, we have seen the police on the streets during these riots becoming targets of abuse and projectiles.  We are grateful for their continued presence in highly dangerous situations. You can find out more at Police Inspector Blog. Things are much more violent and threatening than they seem on television news.

But what do the kids on the streets think?  Do they believe they have scored a victory?  If so, this could lead to a Neapolitan situation whereby these gangs of miscreants become ‘elders’ (!) of their council estates — Little Caesars.  What sort of racketeering will be going on then, if not already?

Most of Naples is run by the ‘families’ of the Camorra.  The heads of these families live on their respective council estates.  They’re in charge of the drug supply.  They run extortion rackets. They launder money through legitimate businesses — groceries, clothing. They control the local government, even though they are not elected officials.  The police are fairly powerless, the general public even more so.

Let’s hope and pray it doesn’t come to that here.  These riots are either going to get the law-abiding in England to look at our country differently or resign ourselves to apathy.  What will we choose to do?

Riot highlights (photos with Daily Mail and Yahoo!UK articles):

‘London and UK Riots Day Three Aftermath’ (with links to previous days) – The Guardian

‘16,000 police to retake London’ – Daily Mail

Mayor’s aide calls for ban on BlackBerry Messaging – Daily Mail

Home Secretary rules out water cannon – Daily Mail

‘Forced to strip naked in the street: Shocking scenes as rioters steal clothes’ – Daily Mail

‘London Riots Come to the Ledbury’ [Michelin-starred restaurant]Naked Sushi

Croydon [South London] – House of Reeves furniture store (family-owned since 1867) set alight:

‘Race, Riots, Responsibility and Rational Thinking’ – Muffled Vociferation

‘Stop With The Angry Stuff, Already’ – Dick Puddlecote

Catch A Looter

UPDATE – August 12 – Malaysian student mugged in riots — YouTube video title has changed since it first appeared:

UPDATE – August 11 – The student from Malaysia had this to say today:

“They were trying to get at the phone in the pocket of my sweater. So they pulled my bike, and when they did this I hit the ground and injured my jaw. There was blood,” he said speaking in Malay Bahasa, his face badly swollen.

“The people fled the scene. Other people then approached me and said they wanted to help, but instead the people behind me just took stuff from my backpack.”

FURTHER UPDATE – August 11 (same link) – A man has been arrested over the attack on the Malaysian student in the video above:

The suspect, in his 20s, was taken into police custody as the student, Asyraf Haziq Rosli, insisted he bore no ill feelings about the incident on Monday and intended to stay in Britain until he completes his accountancy studies …

In a statement, Scotland Yard confirmed that a man had been arrested over the attack, which occurred as Rosli, 20, was on his way to see a friend in nearby East Ham who was worried about the rioting …

Rosli underwent surgery for a broken jaw on Wednesday following the attack, and he was discharged from hospital on Thursday morning …

A quiet moment in Camden: young couple prepares tea for the police

UK Riots in Pictures – Yahoo!UK  (Don’t miss the lady jumping out of the burning building — tragic)

London riots map

‘Anarchist response to the riots’ – Indymedia

‘Don’t Panic :: Don’t Talk’ [anarchist leaflet text pictured above] – Indymedia

Here in the UK Channel 4 is broadcasting Jamie Oliver’s Los Angeles Food Revolution over the next few weeks.

Those visiting this blog regularly will know that I am not exactly a fan of Mr Oliver’s, although I admit that his earlier series from the 1990s were quite useful for making rustic dinners on the hop.  I still use many of his shortcuts and flavour combinations.

In his latest Food Revolution, Jamie meets with strong opposition from the school board which is about to shut his programme down entirely.  But our beestung-lipped chef and entrepreneur also has other irons in the fire, namely restaurateur Deno Perris of Patra’s, which sells charbroiled fast food to a loyal clientele.

Deno’s father started Patra’s from nothing.  Deno inherited the business when his father died.  Characteristic of many Greek restaurant owners, he wants to make people happy and finds that the best way is through good, home-cooked food.  Deno has a small diner with takeaway and drive-thru sections.

One of my better childhood memories is eating in large Greek-owned restaurants that served all the time-honoured American favourites.  They have mostly disappeared now but used to be in all major American cities right near the best shopping areas and theatre districts.  They had lengthy menus and it really did take a quarter of an hour to decide what to have!  The portions were huge, delicious and very reasonably priced.  Ahhh — happy days, happy days!  But I digress.

So far, Jamie has persuaded Deno to start offering the same or similar dishes but with lower-calorie yet equally flavoursome ingredients.  Deno must decide if he should put what his father taught him to the back of his mind and entertain ideas from Jamie, a glib stranger.

All credit to him, Deno does limited experiments incorporating Jamie’s suggestions.  And, of course, because we’re in televisionland, Jamie needs to show us how successful they were.  Naturally, episode three shows us all sorts of people entering Patra’s and walking out happy customers. Crowd manufacture?  Who knows? At the end, a registered nurse collars Deno and tells him how grateful she is that he is incorporating healthful foods into his menu.  It did not seem as if she was a regular customer, just an opportunistic nudger.

How did she get there?  Probably through informal community organisers like Jamie and his crew.  ‘Quick, we need a nurse involved in dietetics and nutrition to talk to this guy.’

Jamie Oliver is all about community organising and nudging.  Every time I watch him I hope he fails miserably.  He should just leave people to get on with their lives and focus on his own.  But no, he has to interfere.  If you want to find out why nudging irritates so many people in the US and the UK, look no further than his programmes.

Another nudger is Sofia, the student in Jamie’s class at West Adams High School.  She meets privately with Deno and Jamie.  Her story is different, because one of her sisters contracted Type 2 diabetes as a young woman.  Their parents are also diabetic.  Naturally, Sofia worries as she often has to care for them and wonders if they can ever truly get their conditions under control.  Intimations of mortality loom large for her, understandably.

Yet, and it’s unclear whether it was Sofia herself or Jamie and his film crew who put this into her mind, she told Deno that it was because of people like him that her sister and parents have diabetes.  Deno was visibly saddened.  He did attempt polite, reasoned resistance but to no avail.  She became more assertive in making her point.  However, neither she nor her family had ever been … customers of Deno’s.

It’s worth noting that radio personality Ryan Seacrest, who interviewed Deno on the air, also produced this series.  Interesting.  Wheels within wheels. And Sofia’s dad still prepares fried meals twice a week at home.

But Deno has the right outlook: Deno and other diner owners are not forcing people to eat in their establishments.  And if the food isn’t right, people will just stop coming in.  Then he and his fellow restaurateurs will lose their businesses and their staff will also be out of jobs.  Then what?

People go out to eat because it’s fun and it’s a treat.  I agree that some rely too much on short-order cooking.  But the world is the way it is.  Presumably, Sofia is cooking healthfully for her family when she can.  And that’s where all good habits should start — in the home — not at Deno’s restaurant or at school or in church. It’s just common sense.  Healthy eating didn’t start yesterday.  Women have known for generations that you shouldn’t eat too much fat and sugar.  They didn’t need a Jamie Oliver for that.

We cannot help the lack of self-discpline that some folks have.  But let’s not penalise and control everyone so that all we eat are veggie burgers and soya shakes.  Ugh.  What a dire world that would be.

By the way, it’s worth noting that Deno and his family — as was his father — are all of normal proportions, from what I could see.  (The shot of Deno’s family was brief.)  So, eating fast food or short-order cooking is not an evil in and of itself.

It’s difficult minding one’s own business.  It’s a lot easier poking one’s nose where it shouldn’t be.  Jamie really should resist the temptation.

Of what we put into our mouths, Jesus said:

18 “… Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, ”What comes out of a person is what defiles him.” (Mark 7:18-20)

Harold ‘Hal’ Camping’s latest prediction is a cautionary tale.  Not only does it make him look foolish (once again), but many vulnerable souls are not only out of a job and out of a house but have broken off some familial ties as a result of his prediction that the world would end on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

What was ‘supposed’ to happen

The Telegraph recapped events for us on the day, one hour after the world was meant to have ended in BST (British Summer Time):

The 89-year-old Californian preacher and radio host had prophesied that the Rapture would begin at 6pm May 21st in each of the world’s time zones, with non-believers wiped out by rolling earthquakers, as the saved ascended into heaven.

His refusal to schedule a media interview for the following day – “It is absolutely going to happen. There is no way that I can schedule an interview because I won’t be here.” – was being replayed by media as the world firmly stayed standing …

Mr Camping’s doomsday prediction wasn’t his first. He blamed an earlier apocalyptic prediction which passed quietly in 1994 on a mathematical error, last month saying: “I’m not embarrassed about it. It was just the fact that it was premature” …

Mr Camping, a retired engineer, spread his message of doom via Family Radio, which has a network of 66 radio stations and online broadcasts.

However websites in the United States reported that not all of those working for the station were so sure, with a receptionist telling journalists that she expected to turn up for work on Monday …

The Rapture – the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise prior to a period of tribulation on Earth that precedes the end of time – is a relatively new notion, rejected by most Christians.

What ended (!) up happening

Three days later, the Telegraph carried this update:

Mr Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.

His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions – some of it from donations made by followers – on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 vehicles plastered with the Judgment Day message …

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically – even within faith traditions – about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus’ return can be predicted.

I guess the paper isn’t allowed to say, in case they offend someone, that the Bible tells us no man can predict the day or the hour.  Yet, Camping predicted it rolling out in an orderly fashion whenever it turned 6 p.m. in each time zone.  Hmm.  An interesting theory.

A former Camping follower, TeachingTulip, is now a Calvinist (we’ll come back to this later) and had this to say on the related Puritan Board thread:

My husband and I have known Camping for years, and supported Family Radio until just after the “1994” fiasco.

I remember him saying way back when, that 2011 was in his thinking and might ultimately be the true date of the Lord’s return . . . but we never, ever, heard him teach a partial resurrection or a “RAPTURE” of only some, leaving others behind to suffer tribulations, etc. (supposedly for another “153 days”) until Judgement Day. Both of these things are new, and we just now discover and disclose them as being contrary to Camping’s life-time teachings.

Camping always denied the Pre-millennial notion of a “rapture,” and always used to biblically teach that the “rapture” really referred to the last and final resurrection of all souls. John 5:28-29.

So this is just another spiritual jolt, experienced by his friends and former supporters.

Not excusing an old friend, but not ready to judge, either.

Please people, reduce the ridicule and increase your prayers for this man . . . he is still alive and potentially able to repent from error, if God might so choose to bless with His correcting grace.

Whilst I take on board what this lady is asking, I cannot help but recall the adage when I think of him, ‘There’s no fool like an old fool’ and ‘God shall not be put to the test’. Let’s recap Jesus’s words in Matthew 24, specifically verses 29 to 31 and verse 36 (emphasis mine):

29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other …

36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

A Reformed Pastor’s view

Those who read Calvinist sites regularly will be familiar with Dr Kim Riddlebarger, pastor, broadcaster at the White Horse Inn (‘Know what you believe and why you believe it’), author and visiting professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California.  (Emphases mine throughout in the excerpts below.)

Dr Riddlebarger says that he sees this

as one gigantic mess, which God’s people will be cleaning up for years.  I, for one, am not very sympathetic to Mr. Camping, or to those who follow him.  Here’s why:

1).  He’s done this before.  1994? anyone???  If Camping lives much longer (he’s 89), he’ll likely do this again.  As one of my favorite philosophers, Dirty Harry, once put it when his police superior questioned whether the serial killer (so wonderfully played by Andy Robinson) would continue to kill, Harry replied, “Of course he will.  He likes it.”  You cannot tell me that however Camping came to this particular date for the Lord’s return, and however sincere he might he be in his calculations, that the man does not love the media attention … 

2).  Camping was disciplined by his church, and never once demonstrated the slightest hint of repentance.  When Camping was removed from his office for his unbiblical speculations, Camping’s response was to declare that the church age was over, and that people should leave their churches!Harold Camping is not some grandfatherly old man who has weird views on things (every church has a few of these).  This is a man, who, when he did not get his way, sought to create widescale schism and division in the church.  How can we not conclude that many among his followers are schismatics who have followed their master in his sin?

3).  Camping is not a theological conservative defending the faith, he’s a theological radical, and has a dangerous hermeneutic.  Camping gained a following among Reformed cultural conservatives by defending the view that only men should hold the office of minister, elder and deacon, that evolutionary thought had no place in Christian colleges, and that the rampant immorality of our age cannot go unchallenged nor be accepted by Christians.  Meanwhile, the “conservative” Camping was using some outlandish and distorted hermeneutical method to calculate the day of Christ’s return and telling everyone who would listen that he was right and that anyone who challenged him had no authority to do so.  Since when did theological conservatives attack the perspicuity of Scripture?  Or champion “private interpretation” while mocking the teaching office and disciplinary authority of the church?

4).  Someone  has to say it — the man is a false teacher and a kook.  My sense is that Camping falls within the exhortation given by Paul in Romans 16:17 (and elsewhere) — such people are to be avoided.  Camping is a false teacher, plain and simple.  Anyone who repeatedly pulls the kinds of shenanigans he has should have no credibility.  Non-Christians see him for what he is.  Yet, Christians feel ashamed about calling him out on the same grounds–when Scripture requires that we do so!  Yes, we need to pray for his repentance, and yes, we need to be merciful to those whom he has deceived.  But given the way the man handles God’s word, he is self-edvidently a kook.  He has no business being labeled a “teacher.”  And it is tragic that he has used his vast radio empire to deceive so many.

5).  The only prophecy which will be fulfilled in association with Harold Camping is 2 Peter 3:3!  Scoffers will come, and sadly, Camping has given the scoffers a whole bunch of ammunition.  This is why is is so vital that Christians be clear to everyone who will listen, that despite this man’s false prophecy, the blessed hope awaits all those who are Christ’s, and the day of judgment will come upon those who are not.   This is a serious matter, and Christ will not be mocked.

Those interested may read my recent post for more on 2 Peter 3.

How did Camping get here from there?

For a bit of Camping history, let’s look at the insights of another Reformed pastor’s perspective, that of the Revd Chris Gordon, pastor of the United Reformed Church in Linden, WA, and author of The Gordian Knot blog.

Mr Gordon walks us through the history of Camping’s ministry in ‘Judgment Day, May 21, 2011? Harold Camping & The Untold Story’The story begins in 999, even before Camping’s time:

Predictions of the end had surfaced throughout the first millennium, but as the sun went down New Year’s Eve, the millennial frenzy reached new heights. Possessions were given to the churches, debts were forgiven, prisoners freed, merchants refused payments for goods, and the churches swarmed with people confessing their sins. Many of the sick begged to be placed outdoors to see Christ’s descent from heaven. Pope Sylvester II held a mid-night mass at St. Peter’s in Rome, the supposed last one ever to occur on earth, and in the moments before midnight, as the church bells sounded, enemies embraced each other with the kiss of peace. As the moments into the new millennium transpired, nothing happened.  The aftermath left behind a wake of disillusionment, especially when churches refused to return people’s possessions.

Fast-forwarding to the last century for a bit of Camping’s story, here’s where Calvinism enters the frame.  The CRC is a Dutch Reformed denomination:

Harold Egbert Camping was born July 19, 1921 in Boulder, CO. His family later relocated to the Bay Area in California and became members of the Alameda Bible Fellowship (CRC). After World War II, Camping founded his own construction company, later to sell the company and join in a collaborative effort to purchase Family Stations, Inc.—a California religious based broadcasting network. Following a series of business deals and a mounting multi-million dollar surplus, Camping was able to expand Family Radio throughout the United States, also buying time on foreign stations around the world, translating his teaching into over thirty foreign languages. In 1961 Camping started the Open Forum, a weeknight call-in program devoted to answering questions about the Bible. Camping soon gained a Reformed voice over radio that was widely influential in the Christian world.  Reformed believers, excited that the doctrines of grace and hymns could actually be heard on a radio station, sent in thousands of dollars to support the efforts of Camping. Many people who had never heard of Calvinism and the Reformed doctrines were brought to faith in Christ through the teachings of Family Radio. 

Camping was also involved in the Alameda CRC as an elder and later an adult Sunday school teacher … The problems began, however, sometime before 1988 when Camping began to advance the idea that one could know from the Bible when Christ would return. When challenged that “no man knows the day nor the hour”, Camping was known for responding, “yes, but we can know the month and the year.”[1] In 1992 Camping self-published his controversial book “1994?”, in which he suggested the possibility that Christ would return sometime between September 15th and 27th of that year, dates corresponding to the Feast of Tabernacles.[2] Camping would soon, unashamedly, predict September 6, 1994 as the date of Christ’s return.

Then, Camping predicted the end of the Church.

“Sometime earlier” wrote Camping, “God was finished using the churches to represent the kingdom of God.”[3] In his book “We Are Almost There!” we find that Camping chose the date of May 21, 1988 for the end of the church age.[4]

And that was the date when the Alameda CRC removed Camping from instructing their adult Sunday School.

Is it not the least bit suspect that Camping would later declare that the Holy Spirit was removed from the church beginning on May 21, 1988, the very same period Camping himself was removed from teaching “in” the church? And is it not alarming that Camping now “outside” of the church would declare, soon after his own departure, that anyone still identified with any church is now under the judgment of God? In legal terms, I think it’s safe to say we have motive.

Camping’s followers were numerous:

This is a severe warning of what can happen to those who reject the elders who rule with the authority of Christ. Over forty percent of the Alameda CRC, many of whom were employed by Family Radio, “went out” from the church and subsequently started their own “fellowship”.

Six years later:

People sold their homes, gave their money to Family Radio, and gathered together as they waited for Christ to come that year. As the date passed, hopes were dashed and the next day Camping was unrepentant over the radio, stating that he had made an error in his calculations …

Then (and now):

In a scheme that rivals C.I. Scofield’s dispensationalism, Camping’s teachings are again inflicting fear and confusion upon many in the church. If anyone is to be saved, declares Camping, he must be saved “outside” the church since God has rejected anyone “identified with any church”.[7] What became of the ordinances of the church?  Camping declared that since the church age ended and people were to leave the churches, the sacraments were also to be discontinued—an astonishing claim since the church is commanded to observe them until Christ comes (1 Cor. 11:26).

We now move to an in-depth theological perspective from Dr W Robert Godfrey of Westminster Seminary California:

Camping’s teaching reaches the status of heresy in his recent appeal to the world, “Judgment Day,” an eight page statement online. The saddest and most distressing element of Camping’s latest theological statement is that it is Christless. He does not write about Christ’s return, but about judgment day. In his eight pages of warning and call for repentance he writes only this of Christ: “Because God is so great and glorious He calls Himself by many different names. Each name tells us something about the glorious character and nature of God. Thus in the Bible we find such names as God, Jehovah, Christ, Jesus, Lord, Allah, Holy Spirit, Savior, etc. Names such as Jehovah, Jesus, Savior, and Christ particularly point to God as the only means by which forgiveness from all of our sins and eternal life can be obtained by God’s merciful and glorious actions.” Notice that Camping says nothing of the Trinity, writing as if Christ and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the Trinity, but just different names for God. If Camping means this, then he is not a Trinitarian, but has adopted the ancient heresy of modalism. Notice also that there is no mention of the cross and Christ’s saving work for sinners. Forgiveness is nowhere linked to the work of the incarnate Christ. For Camping the mercy of God comes simply to the repentant. He never mentions faith in Christ. He also makes clear that those who cry for mercy might be saved. He offers no assurance of salvation: “Nevertheless, the Bible assures us that many of the people who do beg God for His mercy will not be destroyed.” Notice that not all, but only many who repent will be saved.

Camping’s presentation of God’s mercy is from beginning to end unbiblical and unchristian. He has no Trinity, no cross, no faith alone in Jesus alone, and no assurance. His vision of God and mercy is more Muslim than Christian. If Camping still believes in the Trinity, in Jesus and his cross, and in justification by faith alone, then his recent teaching shows that he is a failure as a teacher of the Gospel and his call to repentance lacks enough content for sinners to find salvation in Jesus.

And, perhaps it is this which attracted so many vulnerable people to the May 21, 2011 date.  Largely, today, the Cross is almost forgotten, and people like it that way.  Yet, without it, Christianity loses its meaning.  However, for a Western society steeped in New Age talking points, one can see the sad, erroneous logic in all of this.

Again, read Scripture, pray, find a good church, confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and remember His perfect sacrifice for our sins … but by no means put your faith in charlatans.  And that’s the Gospel Truth.

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