What Now for Iraq?

What Now for Iraq?
Vol: 40 Issue: 31 Monday, January 31, 2005

What Now for Iraq?

Anybody with a heart of flesh and blood is still marvelling at the voter turnout following Iraq’s first legitimate election in a generation.

Iraq’s last multi-party election, while not exactly democratic, was held in the 1960’s. Since then, Iraqis have lived under a series of authoritarian dictatorships, the longest of which was the regime of Saddam Hussein.

It still chokes me up to think of their courage. The final figures for voter turnout were a bit lower than the originally estimated 72%, but the actual 60% turnout figure is more than respectable.

The 2004 voter turnout in November for the American elections broke records as George Bush got more votes than any winning candidate in history, while John Kerry got more votes than any losing candidate in history — but in total, that history-making turnout was still only about fifty percent, ten percent fewer voters than in Iraq.

And unlike American elections, Iraqi voters not only had to walk, sometimes for miles, but they had to walk to the polling places knowing that doing so made them terrorist targets.

Think about it carefully — this didn’t take place in a vacuum. Picture the scene from their perspective. The Iraqis who defied the terrorists to vote weren’t defying a concept. Those Iraqis live among the terrorists, probably know some of them, and are known by them.

The terrorists know where they live, and undoubtedly, many of the voters were personally warned not to participate. Yet the voters took the risk, defied the threat, and even banded together to show off their ink-stained fingers that proved they had voted.

This morning, that ink is still staining their fingers, marking them as targets. They knew all this before they went to the polls. They walked by buildings scrawled by graffitti warning them that if the vote, they will be killed. Then they voted anyway.

John Kerry, the man who received more votes than any loser in the history of US presidential politics, said the sixty percent turnout was ‘no big deal’ and warned his constituents not to read too much into the Iraq election.

“No one in the United States should try to overhype this election,” Kerry told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. He questioned the validity of the election, citing the 60% turnout as insufficient to make the election legitimate.

“It’s hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can’t vote and doesn’t vote,” said the junior senator from Massachusetts. (Perhaps he is preparing a case for a ‘do over’ of the November elections until we can get every American voter to show up at the polls?)

When asked if the election meant Iraq was less of a terrorist threat, Kerry told Tim Russert, “No, it’s more. And, in fact, I believe the world is less safe today than it was two and a half years ago.”

But then Kerry remembered that he campaigned on the contention that Iraq was never a terrorist threat, which is why he says he opposed the war in the first place. So he changed his position mid-sentence, telling Russert, “I’m glad Saddam Hussein is gone, and I’ve said that a hundred times.”

While the junior senator from Massachusetts was downplaying the success of the Iraqi electoral process on “Meet the Press” , the senior senator went on “Face the Nation” to remind the nation that, “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam.”

(Evidently, Ted Kennedy forgot that the original Vietnam was “John Kennedy’s Vietnam” — since he was the one who started that war in the first place. )

According to Kennedy, Iraq “is a disaster because it’s a result of blunder after blunder after blunder”, he said.

Kennedy enumerated the ‘blunders’, including not having enough troops for post-war operations, disbanding the Iraqi army, having single-source contracts to groups such as the politically connected Halliburton, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and the US refusal to accept offers by other countries such as Egypt to assist in training Iraqi force, etc., etc.

“Finally they have been unable to make up a plan – they’re making it up day by day. Until Iraqis are going to fight for their own country we are going to have a very, very dangerous situation,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy’s remarks delighted al-Jazeera, Turkey’s Zaman Online, China Daily and Russia’s Interfax, all of whom gave him headline coverage.

Kennedy should cut back on his morning martinis. One wonders what Kennedy thinks would happen if a bomb were to go off 50 feet from a line of American voters. Imagine the scene — people running, screaming in terror, as fast as they could from the polling place.

That happened as Iraqi voters –800 of them — stood in line at a polling place in Baghdad. They remained in line to vote. One would think that people that dedicated MIGHT be willing to fight for their country. They certainly proved (to everybody but Massachusetts politicians) that they were willing to DIE for it.

Assessment:

According to the habitual critics, the Arab Sunnis would boycott the voting, rendering it irrelevant.

According to the faint-hearted, terrorists would make the ballot process impossible to complete.

According to the ideologues, democracy could not be “imposed,” especially without sufficient “liberals,” argued Lawrence Kaplan in the left-wing “New Republic”.

According to reality (a source seldom consulted by the Left), six out of every ten Iraqis not only voted, but gathered together to dance in the streets with joy afterwards.

Another reality largely ignored by the liberal left is the results of a poll conducted by the Zogby group among Iraqis, taken just before the election. It wasn’t COMPLETELY ignored — virtually every leftist news organization from the New York Times to the BBC cited the figure that says between 60 and 80 percent of Iraqis want US troops to leave when an elected government is seated.

But the rest of the results went under the radar, because those results didn’t fit liberal preconceptions about Iraq. When asked the question, “What country would you most like Iraq to be like, 53% chose either the United Arab Emirates (the most Westernized in the Arab world) or the United States.

That means a majority of Iraqis favor moving away from fundamentalism, opting to keep their religion, but not be ruled by it. The UAE model is exemplary of an Islamic Arab country with warm ties with the United States, and that is the model the majority wants to emulate.

Another poll result that went under the mainstream media’s radar was the answer to the question, “Should Iraqis be free to choose their religion?” Sixty-two percent of respondents said that there should be religious freedom in Iraq and that people should be able to choose their own faith.

These are both much too encouraging to deserve any media attention. John Zogby was interviewed about it on Fox News Sunday, and that was the first I had heard about it. When I entered the keywords, “Zogby poll Iraq religion” I got plenty of hits about Zogby’s findings that the majority of Sunnis intended to boycott the election, as well as the ‘majority want us to leave’ question, but only seven returns that directly quoted the response regarding freedom of religion.

But, although the majority of Iraqis want to remain free of Islamic rule, there is a significant minority — 33% — who would prefer an Islamic Republic, so its much too early to sound the ‘all clear’. And we still don’t know the actual results of the election or the political and religious worldviews of the newly elected officials.

The Iraqis may choose poorly, and we may not be happy with the government they end up with. We could still end up with an enemy in Baghdad instead of a friend. But it will be the government they chose. In the event of another war, it will be not be against a regime, but against a willing population.

I admit to being impressed by the election, by the courage of the electorate, and to being encouraged by the results of the Zogby poll.

But God isn’t finished with Iraq yet. The prophet Jeremiah predicted; “And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 51:37)

Although Babylon lost its preeminence it had in the ancient world, it remained an inhabited city. When Saddam came to power in 1979, it had a half-million residents. Under Saddam’s rebuilding projects, the city’s population swelled to nearly one and a half million, according to Iraq’s city population figures.

It is my prayer that the new Iraq becomes the beacon of freedom in the heart of the Middle East that President Bush is hoping for.

But the Scriptures seem to indicate otherwise in the last days.

Note:

Evidently, MSN is refusing to deliver the January 24 issue of the Omega Letter to MSN subscribers. Repeated efforts to manually, individually deliver that issue to those OL members who subscribe via MSN have failed.

Our SMTP logs indicate that issue is being accepted by MSN but is not getting delivered to the addressee.

As far as we can tell, this is only a problem with the January 24 issue. Subscribers who subscribe via MSN will have to log in to the website to read the January 24 issue. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Catastrophic Success of Iraq’s Election

The Catastrophic Success of Iraq’s Election
Vol: 40 Issue: 30 Sunday, January 30, 2005

It’s really difficult to decide which was the most astonishing news of the morning — the amazing turnout among Iraqi voters, or the equally amazing disrespect they are getting from the leftists in the global press corps.

With very few notable exceptions, the attitude among the press, particularly those members of the press corps who have invested so much in convincing the world that democracy could never come to Iraq, is one of shocked disappointment and disbelief, rather than the jubilation being expressed by the US administration and Iraqi interim government, as nearly three quarters of eligible voters turned out to cast ballots.

John Burns of the New York Times, fearful that the high turnout signals a level of Iraqi unity, published his column under the headline, “The Vote, and Democracy Itself, Leave Anxious Iraqis Divided”.

He writes; “Nearly 22 months after American troops captured Baghdad, lighting a fire of enthusiasm for the freedoms Iraqis had craved so long, it is a measure of how much has gone wrong that Iraqis committed to Western-style democratic ideals can differ so sharply over the best way to secure them. Much of the problem is that the elections are being held under the dominion of the United States.”

Burns, an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and US foreign policy, (and therefore, of all Bush policies good and bad,) is among those who have invested so much of their reputations on tearing down US successes in the war on terror. The Iraqi turnout demands a little damage control.

Now that the elections have signaled the willingness of Iraqis to take control of their own future under a representative government, Burns has redefined the kind of democratic system adopted by Iraq in order to make even a success look like a failure.

“But questions over the election go far beyond the American stewardship, to issues that touch on whether it was ever wise or realistic to think that Jeffersonian-style democracy, with its elaborate checks on power and guarantees for minority rights, could be implanted, at least so rapidly, in a country and a region that has little experience with anything but winner-take-all politics.”

A “Jeffersonian democracy” is what we have in the United States. It specifies three, co-equal branches of government, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary. At no time was a ‘Jeffersonian democracy’ even hinted at by either the US administration or the Iraqis.

Iraq has adopted a British-style parliamentary government, which is apparently doing well, UNLESS one compares it to the “Jeffersonian model” — which is the gold standard for democracy.

It is like comparing a Geo to a Cadillac and complaining that because the Geo doesn’t have 8 cylinders, climate control and five-position seats, it isn’t really a car.

Unable to accept the reality that three out of four Iraqis defied the terrorist threat and stood in long, vulnerable lines for hours in order to vote, Burns decided to ignore it altogether by evoking memories of the ‘good old days’ of March 2003, when everybody agreed with HIM.

“Iraq’s receptivity to democracy was questioned before the invasion of March 2003, when many American Middle East experts warned that Iraq, released from the stifling grip of Mr. Hussein, was a tinderhouse of competing tribal, ethnic and religious passions.”

Even though the catastrophic civil unrest Burns predicted never materialized, (the al-Qaeda- backed ‘insurgency’ is neither popular nor widespread) that is no reason not to try and keep the illusion alive by calling the administration ‘illusionists’.

“Still, even among senior American officials here, there is an edge of doubt. One, who arrived here as sovereignty was being transferred in June, referred to the Americans who oversaw the 15 months of formal occupation as “the illusionists,” and cites as an example the $750 million of American money that the occupation chief, L. Paul Bremer III, set aside to finance a democracy training program, as well as elections.”

Even before the vote, Newsweek rushed out a story under the headline, “Why Elections Won’t Stop Insurgency”.

A second Newsweek headline, an op-ed piece written by Fareed Zakaria, bore the headline “Elections are Not Democracy”, and concludes that “the United States has essentially stopped trying to build a democratic order in Iraq and is simply trying to fight the insurgency and gain some stability and legitimacy.”

Finally, a third Newsweek story bearing the headline, “Free To Be Angry” bore the hopeful sub-title, “Election Time: Americans ‘Liberated’ Iraq, but It’s Hard To Find Anyone Who is Grateful”.

Clearly, they aren’t looking in Iraq, since everybody else is having a hard time finding someone who is NOT.

Emblazoning the ‘Free To Be Angry’ page is a photo of a blood-spattered Iraqi toddler over the caption. “An Iraq Girl Screams After Her Parents are Killed by US Soldiers in Tal Afar.”

In the body of the story, Newsweek’s Ron Nordstrom quoted a not-surprisingly-unnamed “Coalition diplomat”:

“On Jan. 31, elections will have triumphed,” says one Coalition diplomat. “But democracy will have failed.” How so?

Well, since Nordstrom wrote the piece before the elections had even begun, he couldn’t say.

So he didn’t, instead, just leaving the idea hanging out there as if it were fact — because an unnamed ‘Coalition official’ said so.

Assessment:

Among those who marched with the angry demonstrators in the run-up to the Iraq War, the idea of a peaceful, democratic post-Saddam Iraq is catastrophic.

Because if Iraq DOES embrace democracy, then it means that they were wrong. And, since they can’t be wrong (the Left never is), then what looks like good news is really terrible news, but you just don’t know it yet.

It is bizarre, but that is why I use the term ‘useful idiots’ to describe them.

Their opposition is useful to America’s enemies in their propaganda and recruiting efforts, but only an idiot would believe siding with terrorism is in their own best interest.

But it then becomes a question of what they perceive to be in their own best interests. For the most part, they define their own best interests as the opposite of what is in the Bush administration’s best interests.

There is something revealing about that. To the ultra-liberal left, all that matters is hurting the Bush administration. They don’t see it as hurting American interests, because, in their worldview, all things Bush run counter to their own partisan worldview that America is to blame for the ills of the planet.

To them, a successful Iraq policy would therefore be a political catastrophe. Consequently, as Newsweek reports, the ‘elections have triumphed, but democracy has failed.’

In contrast to Newsweek, the Scotsman ran quotes from the folks Fareed Zakariah says he couldn’t find in his op-ed piece entitled, “Elections are Not Democracy”.

The Scotsman headlined its story with a quote from an elderly Iraqi woman voting for the first time in her life. “‘This Is Democracy’ Say Delighted Iraqis”.

Following was an entire page of quotes from enthusiastic Iraqis like the one from a 55 year-old voter from Baquba named Abu Ahmed. I came here to vote for our goal, which is freedom, and this is the first step toward democracy.

(Evidently, Abu Ahmed hasn’t read Newsweek or the New York Times).

And despite the fact that I did, I would still like to be among the first on my block to offer my congratulations to the United States, to the US forces who have given so much, and to the Iraqi people for stepping up to the plate to seize the freedom more than a thousand Americans died to secure for them.

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

Be proud, American! You have done a good thing for 55 million strangers, in spite of the Leftist principle of American intervention that demands that ‘no good deed go unpunished’.

May God richly bless you, our troops, our government and our country.

World Bets Against Iraqi Freedom

World Bets Against Iraqi Freedom
Vol: 40 Issue: 29 Saturday, January 29, 2005

It is time for a current-events pop quiz. Please complete the following sentence with the answer that is closest to the truth:

The Iraqi elections will; 1) stop the violence; 2) increase the violence; 3) plunge the entire region into war; 4) introduce a new era of peace and prosperity as democracy and freedom begin to spread like wildfire; or 5) thrust an American style of government on an unwilling population at gunpoint.

If you are an American and a liberal, the answers are 2 and 3. If you are an American and a conservative, the answers are 1 and 4. If you aren’t an American, the answer is hopefully 1 and 4, probably 2 and 3, but number 5 applies in either case.

The “2 and 3” group argues that, unless the voter turnout is 80% or better, the election itself is meaningless, which means number 5 also applies.

Reading the headlines, therefore, one can only conclude that all the headline writers in the known universe are either non-Americans or American liberals.

Reuters (non-American) says in its morning headline, “Iraq Poll Won’t End Violence, Say US, UK Officials”. (2,3,5) CNN International’s headline trumpets, “Bombings Continue on Eve of Election” (non-American and/or self-hating American liberal).

Canada’s Globe and Mail (forget answers 1 through 4, only answer 5 applies) wants its readers to know that it doesn’t matter who wins, since Iraq’s real ruler remains unchanged since Saddam.

According to them, “Fear Reigns Across Iraq On Eve of Election.”

That’s a headline? Fear has reigned Iraq since Saddam came to power in 1979 — but, for many who take this outlook, Iraq was actually better off under Saddam. At least, then, Iraqis knew who to be afraid of.

The Washington Times (American, conservative) bannered its story under the headline; “Iraqi Official Sees Big Turnout” — which, I might add, was the ONLY remotely positive headline I could find in Google’s first two pages headlines on the topic.

One news headline from the Interpress Service chose for its headline, “The Dollar Campaigns for Allawi” above a report detailing the ‘fact’ that Iraq’s elections will be neither free nor fair.

According to this report, Allawi is campaigning by passing out $100 bills to reporters to ensure his favorable treatment in both the Iraqi and global press corps. (He should have saved his money).

The one headline nobody thought to write was, “Iraqis Have First Free Elections Since Tower of Babel” — although, like in Afghanistan, that is the REAL story.

Assessment:

According to the White House, the Iraq strategy is to allow Iraq to elect its own leaders in the hopes that the neighboring citizens of the various Islamic dictatorships that surround it will begin to demand democratic reforms as well.

Not a single headline I could find even hinted at that prospect, despite the fact that history says that is the most likely scenario.

The Bush strategy is already proved by history. Ronald Reagan called for the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and, before the dust settled, the old Soviet bloc had been replaced by a sea of democracies extending from East Berlin to Ukraine. Old Warsaw Pact members began lining up for membership in either the EU or NATO.

Afghanistan, which had never held a free election in five thousand years of recorded history, held its first free, democratic election, despite the best efforts of al-Qaeda and the Taliban to thwart it, with eight out of ten eligible voters turning out at the polls, despite the threat of terror and efforts at voter intimidation.

(You DO remember that Afghanistan had a successful democratic election last year, don’t you? I think it was on page A-22 of the New York Times)

To be legitimate, claim the enemies of democracy (like the UN, the rest of the Islamic world, and US liberals) voter turnout in Iraq will have to be at least 80% of eligible voters.

By that standard, America hasn’t held a legitimate election in its history. The highest recorded voter turnout since World War II was the 1960 election of John Kennedy, when about 63% of registered voters turned out.

The Electoral College ‘battleground state’ that year was Illinois. John Kennedy received more votes in Chicago’s Cook County than were registered by both parties combined, putting him over the top and sending him to the Oval Office, since Nixon refused to put the nation through the agony of a recount.

(The Congressional Quarterly reviewed the 1960 election and concluded that, factoring in known voter fraud, Richard Nixon actually won the popular vote by 58,181 votes.)

Election 2000 saw another massive turnout, the third largest since Harry Truman was elected in 1948, when roughly 62% turned out at the polls.

With the possible exception of Elections 2000 and 2004, American voters faced no threat of election violence, were free to go vote without fear of retribution, and were confident that the victor was the legitimate choice of the majority.

In some recent elections, (notably 1988 and 1996) voter turnout hovered near 50% — only 48% of eligible voters voted in 1996, for example.

How much courage does it take to go vote when the only obstacle to casting one’s ballot is the wait in line at the polling station?

(Which isn’t really even a fair question, since most American voters have the option of voting by mail and not even having to leave the house).

Recall the allegations of voter ‘intimidation’ in the 2000/2004 elections? According to the losers, they lost because American voters were either too stupid to be able to figure out the punch card machines or they were ‘intimidated’ in countless ways into not casting a ballot at all.

In this election, going to vote is as dangerous to the individual Iraqi as being deployed to Iraq is to the individual US Marine — maybe more so.

US Marines travel in armed groups, are equipped with armored vehicles, body armor, night vision equipment, pilotless camera drones flying overhead, and the best real-time communications between units ever seen in the history of warfare.

Iraq voters will go to the polls unarmed, individually and in small groups, knowing that, on Election Day at least, they are more desirable terrorist targets than a truckload of unarmed American contractors.

American contractors are only in Iraq because they can make five times the money they could make for the same job at home.

American soldiers are in Iraq because they HAVE to be, and, in recent weeks, thousands have refused to go back, despite the tactical advantage afforded them by American military equipment and support.

Despite all that, if Iraqis turn out to vote at the same rate that Americans turn out to cast their ballots in their own national elections, it means that the legitimacy of the election itself is in question.

Think of what it is that is being asked of Iraqis. They are being asked to put their lives on the line, go places where Americans fear to tread, face dangers that Americans can’t even imagine, and, if they fail to attain a higher voter turnout than any US election in living memory, their electoral effort will be viewed as a failure and the elected government ‘illegitimate’.

The opponents of the Bush administration WANT the Iraqi election to fail, just as they hoped the Afghani election would fail.

When the Afghanis were getting ready to vote, the same liberal mainstream press made the same dire predictions of failure, endlessly repeating the obstacles to success, not the least of which was Afghani ‘inexperience with freedom’ and, when the election was a resounding success, immediately turned their attention to more pressing matters, (like predicting a dismal failure in Iraq).

It is a kind of collective global madness. There is no sane person who would credibly argue that Iraq should remain a dictatorship or that it should be ruled by an unaccountable tyrant. But that is what they are rooting for.

The reason is twofold. First, it is backed by the United States. Secondly, it is backed by Israel, the only existing democracy in the Middle East.

That earns it the undying emnity of the United Nations and its constituency of tyrants, dictatorships and liberal socialists.

The global rule of thumb is that anything supported by the United States is probably evil, and anything supported by the Israelis is positively evil and must be opposed at all levels.

The Bible’s outline for the last days is a picture of a world gone completely insane. Under the reign of antichrist, those who rejected the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ will instead choose to worship the most evil dictator the world has ever seen.

They will band together to oppose all that is good, set their sights on the destruction of anything that reminds them of God, and, at the end, even turn their weapons of war against the Creator of the Universe when He shows up in glory at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period and the final battle of the war of Armageddon.

People don’t BECOME insane, they GO insane; it is a process that takes some time. The world is going through that process now.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Special Report: Through a Glass, Darkly

Special Report: Through a Glass, Darkly
Vol: 40 Issue: 28 Friday, January 28, 2005

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1st Corinthians 13:12)

There are as many interpretations of Bible prophecy out there as there are interpreters. Surely, they can’t ALL be wrong, or deliberately teaching falsehood, or doing the work of Satan.

[Although I am accused of all three — virtually every time I write a column teaching Dispensationalism or a pre-Trib Rapture.]

All of them are reading the same Scriptures, and presumably, all of them are sincere. It is incomprehensible to me that a person could trust Jesus for his salvation and then go out and deliberately teach error.

That is not to say that there aren’t false teachers deliberately teaching error, but I don’t believe that they are sincere Christians.

There is a lot of money to be made by telling people what they want to hear, and there are plenty of TV evangelists willing to bend the message to their advantage.

(For example, the guys who tell you if you send them $100, God will immediately send you $1000 in return.)

I bet I’ve seen Robert W. Tilton on TV a hundred times. I used to watch him whenever I ran across him, and marvel at his chutzpah.

He would cry, babble, and twist Scripture in an effort to demonstrate that God needs your money through the whole broadcast, going so far as to offer his used ‘prayer hanky’ to whoever would send him $1000.

In all those programs, I never once heard him give a Gospel message. Or ANY message, for that matter, apart from God needs you to keep Tilton on the air.

I say all that to say; Tilton is not the kind of guy I am talking about when I talk about ‘sincere Christian’ teachers.

But, the fact remains that there ARE sincere Christians who read the same Scriptures everybody else does and come up with entirely different understandings of Bible prophecy. To the preterist, all Bible prophecy, including that contained in the Book of Revelation, was fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jews.

To a futurist, Bible prophecy has yet to completely unfold. Even among futurists, there is dispute about when certain events take place. Some believe that the Rapture takes place at the conclusion of the Tribulation. Others believe it takes place at the mid-point in the Tribulation.

Others, me included, believe the Bible teaches the Rapture of the Church takes place before the Tribulation period can begin.

But, again, we are all reading the same Scriptures. And, presumably, we are all sincere in saying we believe our understanding is the correct one. After all, things that are different are NOT the same, and the Rapture can only occur once.

Is it before, during, or after the reign of antichrist? Hal Lindsey would confidently answer, ‘before’ and I know the depth of his sincerity first-hand.

Marv Rosenthal teaches something called the ‘Mid-Wrath” Rapture. I’ve met Marv, spoken with him at length, and I am as convinced as I can be of his sincerity.

I don’t know any post Tribulation teachers personally, but I would like to assume at least some of them are as sincere in their beliefs as Hal or Marv are.

About the only Christian doctrine upon which there is more or less universal agreement is that we are saved by grace through faith in the shed Blood and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

BUT, that is the only doctrine, in the final analysis, which really and truly bears eternal consequences. Preterists that trust Jesus for their salvation will meet up in heaven with futurists who trusted Jesus, who will fellowship with pre-tribbers, mid-tribbers and post-tribbers, who will fellowship with Calvinists and Arminians together.

Because if you trust Jesus Christ for your salvation, then you will go to heaven. That is the central message of the Gospel. The rest is the product of our longing to know God, and know the things of God, while blinded by the limitations imposed on us by our earthly perspective.

As the Apostle Paul put it, seeing the things of God ‘through a glass, darkly’. Paul says we know only ‘in part’ but the part that we all agree on is the only part that really counts. Salvation by faith.

In the story of the Tower of Babel, God explains how the various ethnic nations came to be.

“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:6-7)

By scattering man ‘among the nations’ and removing the common bond of language and ethnicity, God ensured that no one man could ever again rule all men, as Nimrod did until the construction of the Tower of Babel.

It prevented any one culture or worldview to dominate all mankind. That diversity is what allowed Christianity to flourish at the point when it was introduced into history. Because Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ, rather than a commonly-accepted cultural duty.

God built that same diversity into the Church, which accounts for how and why sincere Christians can read the same Scriptures and come up with such widely divergent doctrines as preterist historicism and pretribulationist futurism. It prevents any one teacher from becoming the only accepted source of information of the things of God.

If everybody agreed on every point of doctrine, then the guy who articulates it the best becomes the Great Oracle of God. (And what if he was wrong?)

So we have diversity of understanding, but the same Scripture. And we have diversity of teachings, but share the same salvation by grace through faith. And we are equally sincere, because we share the same awesome responsibility of accountability before the Lord.

In the end, we will be judged by how we used the doctrine God delivered to us to lead others to salvation in Christ.

The necessity of diversity of understanding in the Church Age is adequately demonstrated by a peek across the divide into the coming ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’ after the Church Age is concluded.

During the Tribulation, that diversity of understanding is replaced by a universal religion imposed by the false prophet and directed toward the worship of antichrist.

Because there are no (surviving) saved Christians, indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit during the Tribulation, the efforts of the false prophet are amply rewarded with results that are unattainable in the Church Age:

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:7-8)

(The ‘saints’ referred to in verse 7 are the ‘tribulation saints’. Theologically, they are distinguished from the Church Age saints because, unlike Church Age saints, they are NOT indwelt at salvation by the Holy Spirit — that is reserved for the 144,000 Jewish evangelists sealed in Revelation Chapter 7)

The point is, the success of the false prophet comes from the loss of that spiritual diversity that is unique to the Church.

On doctrinal issues like the Rapture, for example, no matter what view one holds as doctrine, the essential fact that they are going go to heaven is not in dispute. So, in the eternal sense, it doesn’t really matter.

So why include it at all? Because we DO see through a glass darkly, because that is the way God intended things on this side of eternity.

I believe that the Bible teaches a pre-trib Rapture and I believe it because to me, it is utterly obvious from the plain reading of Scripture. But I don’t believe that those who disagree with me are deliberately teaching falsehood.

When the Rapture happens, we’ll all go at the same time. Whether they got the timing right or not.

Analysis: The Syria-Russian Alliance

Analysis: The Syria-Russian Alliance
Vol: 40 Issue: 27 Thursday, January 27, 2005

Syria’s President Bashar al Assad returned from Moscow with more than even he had dreamed of, despite the disappointing news that Moscow was caving in to pressure not to sell Syria advanced missile technology — for the moment.

But Assad was able to bring his people the glad tidings that Syria and Russia were resuming the relationship Syria once had with the Soviet Union.

Moscow forgave ten billion of Syria’s fourteen billion dollar debt to Russia during the signing of a formal declaration renewing their once-cozy relationship.

Assad managed to score a ‘win-win’ deal, despite the temporary withdrawal of the arms deal. While the Syrians won’t have the advanced SAM missiles or the modified Scuds it hoped for, it will have something even better. The support of the Russians who have them.

The declaration puts Moscow in the catbird seat in the Middle East. Part of the declaration calls for the ‘soonest possible resumption of talks’ between Israel and the new tripartite entity Moscow hopes to create by grouping Syria and Lebanon in with the Palestinians as part of any comprehensive peace deal.

The declaration demands an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, a ‘fair settlement’ of the ‘refugee problem’ [the Right of Return] and the formation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital at Jerusalem.

And while Moscow promised NOT to sell Syria the Iskander and SAM missiles, it also denied that any government had sought to purchase them, including Syria. The Syrians deny that, and Western intelligence has confirmed that Iran already HAS them, so a denial from Moscow means as much today as it did during the Soviet era.

The Russians did agree to joint energy exploration and other projects that will focus on developing oil and gas resources in Syria, including development of known resources and construction of several pipelines including the Syrian portion of the Pan-Arab pipeline project.

Another agreement in preparation centered on work by Russia’s SoyuzNefteGaz and the Syrian Oil and Natural Resource Ministry on exploration and development of two oil and gas deposits in Syria over a 25-year period.

There is plenty in it for Russia, apart from gaining control over Syria’s energy production industry, which clearly fits with Russia’s long range plans for dominating the global energy market.

Russia’s ambition is to resume its role as a major player; if not the superpower it had been during the Soviet era. Moscow wants to involve itself in the international arena now dominated by the EU and US, but has no chips to buy into the game.

But by renewing military and political ties with countries blackballed by Washington and Brussels, it is carving out a new sphere of influence for itself.

In 2000, it resumed its old Soviet-era relationship with Iran, announcing the beginning of a “new phase of military and technical cooperation” that has, in the past four years, put Tehran on the path to nuclear arms, upgraded Iran’s air defenses to the degree Iran’s airspace is virtually impenetrable by Western aircraft, and generally ingratiated itself with the Islamic Middle East, despite its ongoing war with Chechnya’s mainly-Islamic separatist movement.

Syria is one of Russia’s few key allies in the region. It is the only foreign country where Russia still has an active naval base, and is the only Arab country where Moscow still has any major influence in the Middle East.

Assessment:

The two Islamic countries where Moscow has staked out its claims are both designated by the US State Department as state sponsors of terrorism.

The third Arab Islamic country that Moscow has designs on is the as-yet non-existent country of Palestine, which is not merely a sponsor of terror, but is an entity defined by its embrace of terrorism as a legitimate form of political expression.

That puts the Russians on one side in the war on terror, and the United States on the exact opposite side, even though both sides are pretending they are working together to achieve the same ends.

It is important to consider the context in which all this is taking place.

The United States and Russia are both members of the international ‘Quartet for Peace’, together with the European Union and the United Nations.

The United States is taking the position that Israel must have security guarantees before any deal can take place — the other three parties are demanding a deal first and security guarantees later.

The United Nations is on record as blatantly anti-Semitic and is dominated by the Islamic voting bloc in the General Assembly that ensures that all resolutions passed by that body concerning the Middle East conflict favor the Arab side.

The Europeans are actively working against any US-brokered deal in the hopes that, following another failure, they will be able to step in, pick up the pieces and save the day.

Although the EU’s anti-Semitism is blatant and growing, the US war on Islamic terrorism makes the US increasingly unacceptable as a broker for peace by the Arab side.

And the EU’s anti-Semitism, while worrying to the Israelis, is diminished somewhat by the gravitas that gives the EU in the Arab world.

Israel is on record as saying it would make a deal with anybody — even the devil — if it would bring them a lasting peace.

To Israel, ‘peace’ doesn’t mean making friends; it just means the absence of war. The EU’s Euromed Project holds out the promise of the kind of peace that Israel seeks — integration with a larger Mediterranean trade group and the hope it will result in an enforceable collective security agreement.

The United States, while still the main player in the Middle East, is rapidly becoming ‘damaged goods’ as it’s alleged ‘allies’ in the Quartet continue to exploit Islamic anger at the US war to strengthen their own positions.

In short, America finds itself locked in alliances with ‘allies’ who are locked into alliances with enemy states that America may eventually find itself at war with.

The odds that the US will eventually find itself forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities are as good as the odds that Iran will continue to develop those facilities for weapons production.

And the odds that the United States will have to take military action against Syria are about equal to the odds that Syria will continue to fund, harbor and facilitate the terrorists fighting the US presence in Iraq.

And in any case, if the United States doesn’t take action, the odds that Israel WILL are at least even. Although Israel refuses to confirm or deny it, the Dimona facility is believed to house at least four hundred nuclear warheads and Israel’s declared ‘Sampson Option’ says that they will use them.

Syria’s biological and chemical weapons capability are among the most advanced in the Middle East, and the acquisition of the Russian Iskander missile would give Damascus the ability to strike anywhere in Israel.

Iskander’s guidance system is significantly better than in previous Scud designs, and it is much better at avoiding Israeli air defenses than previous models.

And there is no effective defense against the new SAM anti-aircraft missile that could protect Israeli warplanes overflying Syrian airspace.

Leaving Israel with only the Sampson Option in the event of war. The Sampson Option is drawn from the story of Sampson, who pulled down a temple on himself in order to kill his captors.

Briefly stated, if Israel’s existence is threatened, it will use whatever means necessary to retaliate, even if that retaliation means the destruction of Israel in the process.

The Bible says that Israel will survive, but Isaiah says that Damascus won’t.

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1)

Damascus is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world. To this point in history, it has never been ‘taken away from being a city’ and has never become the ‘ruinous heap’ foretold by Isaiah – so his prophecy remains, to this point, unfulfilled.

In addition, Ezekiel warns that Russia will, in the last days, ally itself to Persia [Iran] — together with a grouping of other Islamic states, in an all-out invasion effort against Israel.

When Isaiah’s vision of Damascus comes to pass, it is unlikely that Russia will sit idly by, particularly in light of the fact the only country more threatening to Israel’s continued existence than Syria would be a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran.

The alliance is in the process of being constructed before our eyes. The scenario that brings it all together is in the process of development. Bible prophecy has never been more relevant to current events than it is right now.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto ALL THEM ALSO WHO LOVE HIS APPEARING.” (2nd Timothy 2:19)

I wear a size seven and a half.

‘Anti Abortion’ vs. ‘Pro Choice’

‘Anti Abortion’ vs. ‘Pro Choice’
Vol: 40 Issue: 26 Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ted Turner stood before the National Association for Television Programming Executives’s opening session in Las Vegas and denounced Fox News as an arm of the Bush administration, comparing the network to Adolf Hitler’s propaganda machine.

I have to agree with the Fox spokesperson who responded, “Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind — we wish him well.”

The other day, CNN’s news crawl informed viewers that President Bush was, at that hour, addressing a “group of anti-abortion activists.”

Curious, I shifted to Fox News, where I was informed that Bush was actually addressing a group of ‘pro-life conservatives’ who rallied in Washington on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

From the difference in the way each network described the makeup of the rally, can YOU tell where each network stands on the question of abortion?

Let’s look closely at the semantics involved.

First, Fox. It described the group opposing abortion ‘rights’ as ‘pro-life conservatives’. Since that is what they call THEMSELVES, and since Fox News doesn’t call pro-choice groups ‘anti-life activists’ it would seem that Fox News is NOT taking sides either way on the issue.

Now, CNN. To them, a ‘pro-life conservative movement’ is really made up of ‘anti-abortion activists.’

First, being part of a larger movement does not necessarily make one an ‘activist’. Suppose I donated money to the ACLU and then attended one ACLU rally. Does that make me an ACLU ‘activist’?

The ACLU gets donations from individuals all the time. Are they ALL activists? Then what do you call the ones who really ARE activists? Extremists? Hardly. (‘Extremist’ is a phrase reserved only for those who think killing babies is a crime).

I have yet to hear any ACLU member referred to as an ‘extremist’ — I don’t even recall the word ‘activist’ often being attached to the ACLU or its supporters — although it is difficult to imagine a group with more extremist tendencies than one dedicated to the destruction of the Boy Scouts for not letting homosexuals take young boys out into the woods for overnight camping trips.

Now, to return to the ‘anti-abortion activists’ who made their way to the nation’s capital to voice their opposition to Roe v. Wade.

Contrary to the spin applied by the propagandists at CNN, overturning Roe v. Wade would NOT immediately put a stop to abortions in America. Opposing Roe v. Wade does’t make one an ‘anti abortion activist’ — it makes one a supporter of the American democratic system.

All overturning Roe v. Wade would do is take the question away from the federal government and the federal courts and return it to the control of the individual states, which is the ONLY constitutional issue involved.

The Constitution says absolutely nothing about abortion. The closest you can come to finding abortion in America’s founding documents is in the Declaration of Independence which, in its preamble, clearly forbids abortion, saying Americans have a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It does not differentiate between the born and the unborn, since they understood that the unborn will, without any help or interference from the government, be born with those rights intact.

Out of those documents, a group of judicial activists on the Supreme Court in 1973 found a ‘right’ to deny unwanted babies the right to life, not to mention the liberty and pursuit of happiness stolen from them at the same instant.

Activists like to call the Constitution a ‘living document’ arguing that it was designed to change as the times change. What they really mean is that, as a living document, it can be tortured until it says whatever its torturer wants it to.

Roe v. Wade didn’t legalize abortion. Instead, it struck down every existing state law forbidding abortion. It was done without consulting with the states, by judicial fiat, without any national debate, referendum or input from those who disagree.

Assessment:

The current practice of judicial activist rule subverts the democratic process in ways so profound that it is breathtaking to contemplate.

Decisions made by the majority in America have enormous weight in terms of credibility. When the election was decided in 2000 by the Supreme Court, half the country dedicated itself to hating George Bush as a usurper who was ‘selected, not elected’ by the Supreme Court.

The venomous hatred the administration has endured over the past four years has been palpable and undeniable. The resulting devisiveness created four years of government stagnation as both sides fought over every issue.

But I submit to you that, had the Supremes ruled in favor of Al Gore, the OTHER half would have reacted in a similar fashion. The reason is because either side would see its defeat as an overturning of the democratic process by unelected judges.

Contrast that to Election 2004 in which Bush was handed a clear win by the voters. Suddenly the Democrats have decided they need to become more ‘in tune’ with American values.

They are talking more about faith, and have even gone so far as to suggest the party reinvent itself to more accurately reflect the majority. Hillary Clinton made headlines yesterday for praising religious groups for running chastity campaigns as an alternative to abortion.

[The liberal London News-Telegraph headlined its story “Gasps as Hillary Woos the Anti-Abortion Vote”].

That is the power of consensus. Unlike Election 2000, Election 2004 is forcing the Democrats to rethink their core values if they want to win next time.

Roe v. Wade is similarly devisive, for the same reason. For thirty years, there has been discord on the issue of abortion, because consensus is irrelevant.

The devisiveness will continue until the issue has been returned to the democratic process, something that can only take place if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

As I said earlier, overturning Roe v. Wade won’t immediately outlaw abortion. Instead, the question will be returned to the jurisdiction of the individual states for resolution.

That is the way America was set up from the beginning. It is implicitly recognized that each state is unique, has its own values and its own priorities.

Overturning Roe v. Wade will mean red states like Utah or North Carolina would likely either outlaw or heavily restrict abortion, but blue states like California or Massachusetts would be free to allow unrestricted abortion on demand, based on the wishes of the majority in each state.

According to all the polls, America at the national level, is divided roughly fifty-fifty on abortion. Similarly, at the national level, America was divided roughly fifty-fifty over George Bush. But at the state level, it is something altogether different, which is why Bush won by only a few percentage points nationally, but carried an overwhelming majority of individual states.

By allowing the states to regulate this issue — as intended — we achieve the impossible: an equally divided nation in which most people live under the law of their choice. People who live in a state where they disagree with its laws can move to a state where the laws are more in keeping with their consciences.

In a vote in which one side loses, it will know that it lost because most people disagreed, not because a handful of elite disenfranchised everyone.

But abortion is big business for the elitists who fear losing a billion dollar a year business. Planned Parenthood reported that in 2002, 227,375 abortions were performed at their clinics.

That figure represents only 17% of all abortions performed in America that year, giving some sense of the size of the abortion ‘industry’.

Far from being ‘pro-choice’ only 6.5% of clients seeking pregnancy related services from Planned Parenthood in 2002 actually received prenatal care. The rest got abortions. They issued only 1,963 adoption referrals in 2002 and not a single actual adoption.

So for every adoption ‘referral’ made by Planned Parenthood, there were 116 babies aborted. But CNN and the liberal mainstream label Planned Parenthood a ‘pro-choice’ group.

Those who oppose it are ‘anti-abortion.’ A look at Planned Parenthood’s origins makes the love affair it enjoys with liberal groups even more bizarre.

Planned Parenthood itself was founded by a eugenisist named Margaret Sanger, who strongly believed in the superiority of the white race and started the organization with the expressed aim of doing to American blacks what Hitler was attempting to do with German Jews.

Sanger proposed, in a paper defending Planned Parenthood’s ‘Negro Project’, that;

[the] “most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the [religious] minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

(http://plannedchildhood.org/Negro_Project.htm)

One third of Planned Parenthood’s income ($750 MILLION dollars) comes from GOVERNMENT GRANTS.

That’s right, the Boy Scouts can’t have federal funds because they oppose gay rights and advance a belief in God, but a group formed for the express purpose of aborting the black race got $254 million in federal tax dollars in 2002.

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and HANDS THAT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:19)

That pretty well sums up what the liberals like to call the ‘pro-choice movement’ in a nutshell.

The Beasts of the Earth

The Beasts of the Earth
Vol: 40 Issue: 25 Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A worrying new study has concluded that a Thai girl who died last year of ‘bird flu’ — also known as H5N1 — probably transmitted the disease to her mother and her aunt.

If true, it would be the first documented case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly flu virus. People normally catch bird flu from infected birds, usually chickens and ducks.

Health experts have been worried that the H5N1 bird flu virus could one day mutate into a form that passes easily between people, perhaps leading to a major flu pandemic that would rival the Spanish flu of 1918.

A report issued by a team of medical investigators is due to be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Journal released the study early to coincide with a conference given by The University of Michigan “Bioterrorism Preparedness Initiative”.

“It’s ringing alarm bells that tells us we need to be concerned about H5N1 — and that avian influenza could be the next pandemic,” Dr. Andrew Simor of Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre in Toronto told CTV News on Monday. “If not this year or the next, the following year.”

The girl was hospitalized last September with a fever, cough and sore throat. She died the next day. Thai health officials believed she contracted the virus from infected free-ranging chickens in the house that she and her aunt shared.

Her mother, a garment factory worker who travelled from another province to care for her daughter, had no contact with birds.

The mother spent 16 to 18 hours with her daughter in the hospital on Sept. 7 and 8, hugging and kissing her. She fell ill herself on Sept. 11, dying 12 days after her daughter. An autopsy showed the mother tested positive for bird flu.

Investigators originally thought the aunt had acquired the virus from the same source as the girl. But it typically takes two to 10 days for someone to become ill after exposure to an infected bird and the aunt had gotten rid of the chickens days before the girl became ill.

The aunt, who had cared for the hospitalized girl for 12 to 13 hours, became sick 17 days after her last exposure to poultry, making it likely that she got her illness from the girl as well. The aunt survived.

The string of deaths — which include five this week alone — has prompted the World Health Organization to ring alarm bells about the high fatality rate. More than 70 per cent of those infected in this latest outbreak have died.

Assessment:

When the World Health Organization starts comparing a new flu virus to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, it is something that should cause everyone to sit up and take notice.

The 1918 epidemic was the worst epidemic the United States has ever experienced. It was so virulent that it caused the median life expectancy of Americans in 1918 to drop by ten years. More than a half-million Americans died after contracting the virus.

World-wide, it was so deadly that it killed between 25 and 40 MILLION people in 1918-1919. The strain was unusual in that it killed young and healthy victims, as opposed to more common influenzas which caused the bulk of their mortality among the old and infirm.

People without symptoms could be struck suddenly and be rendered too feeble to walk within hours; many would die the next day. Symptoms included a blue tint to the face and coughing up blood.

Nobody was safe from the Spanish Flu. The only inhabited place of any real size that wasn’t touched by an outbreak of the virus was the island of Marajo at the mouth of the Amazon River.

In the case of H5N1, the incubation period after exposure is between two and ten days. It takes less that 12 hours to fly from anywhere in the world to almost anywhere else.

A person could become infected in Asia, hop a plane to the States, ride mass transit and eat in restaurants for a week before coming down with any symptoms.

Everybody who came in contact with that first person would also have between two and ten days to infect everybody they came in contact with. H5N1 could duplicate the 1918 pandemic in a matter of weeks, rather than months.

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)

The rider on the pale horse begins his deadly ride at some point during the Tribulation, and before his ride is over, a quarter of the population of mankind will be dead, from either war, famine or ‘the beasts of the earth’.

The word translated ‘beasts’ is ‘therion’ in Greek, and means a ‘venomous beast’.

H5N1 is a viral infection that scientists fear has crossed over from the beasts of the earth to human to human transmission. A virus is, in and of itself, a living thing — a ‘venomous beast’ by definition.

Taken together with the other signs of the soon return of the Lord, we have something of a loose time frame. For two thousand years, that time frame was ‘someday, eventually.’

For this generation, the ability to kill a quarter of mankind with war, famine and infectious disease fits into a time frame of today, tomorrow, or, as Dr Simor observed, “if not this year or the next, the following year”, depending on the ‘if-then” factor. .

IF Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons, IF the Paks and Indians don’t nuke each other, IF North Korea doesn’t use its atomic bombs, IF a vaccine is discovered for H5N1, IF terrorists don’t get their hands on bioweapons, IF no global war arises out of our newly articulated policy of spreading democracy into the Third World, and IF the Middle East conflict doesn’t spark a global thermonuclear war first, THEN, maybe it might take a little longer.

But before all this, “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)