A Form of Godliness

A Form of Godliness
Vol: 73 Issue: 31 Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One of the big issues in this years presidential campaign, particularly for Christians, is the fact that one of the presumptive Republican front-runners is a devout Mormon.

There is considerable debate as to whether or not that even makes Mitt Romney a Christian, let alone stand as an example of his devotion to the Gospel.

I ve gotten several emails on the subject, including one this morning asking me to categorically say whether or not Mitt Romney is a Christian.

I don t want to disappoint anyone, but I d be less than honest if I said I knew.

Salvation is predicated on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and not on one s church membership. If membership in a particular religion can t save you, then it stands to reason that membership in a particular religion can t damn you, either.

So I cannot say if Mitt Romney is a Christian or not. I don t know the guy. I d have to say the same about Glenn Beck.

Both guys sound like Christians, they act like Christians in their public lives, they self-identify as Christians and, for the most part, live good, clean moral lives. Neither man drinks or smokes. Both have evidently strong and happy marriages and good families.

By every available visible standard, these guys seem to be Christians. Indeed, in answer to the question, If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict? I d have to say in both Romney s and Beck s cases, if I were on the jury, with the evidence before me now, I d have to say both appear guilty as charged.

Almost every Christian criticism of Mormonism starts out with the same caveat: Mormons live good, clean, lifestyles, have strong family values and high moral standards, but . . . and then launch into all the buts about Mormonism.

Mormons, on the other hand, claim to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings, oftentimes (and accurately) pointing out that they do a better job at living the Christian lifestyle than do most of their Christian critics.

As I ve said often enough to qualify as an old saying, old sayings get to be old sayings because they are true. And there s an old saying to the effect that one can t judge a book by its cover, but rather, by its contents.

So let s examine the contents.

Assessment:

According to Mormon teaching on atonement, Jesus paid for all our sins when He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Laurel Rohlfing, Sharing Time: The Atonement, Friend, Mar. 1989, 39.)

Christian doctrine teaches that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross, but our salvation comes from our faith in His Resurrection as First-born of the Dead.

His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals His dual nature as truly God and truly man. It was His acceptance of ‘the cup’ that led to our salvation, but it was His act of obedience that secured it.

As to how one becomes saved, “We accept Christ’s atonement by repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obeying all of the commandments,” (Gospel Principles, Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979, pg. 68.)

We accept Christ s atonement on our behalf by repenting of our sins and trusting in the Bible s promise that atonement is all-sufficient. We are not saved by baptism baptism is a public expression of the saving faith that is ALREADY in the possession of the one who is baptized.

Baptism plays an important role in one s spiritual maturity and is one of the two ordinances given the Church by Jesus, but it plays no role in salvation by grace through faith.

First comes salvation by grace through faith, and then comes baptism.

The Holy Ghost indwells us at salvation, but He does not save in the process — one is already saved BEFORE one is indwelt.

And if, after all that, one is still required also obey all the commandments, then that one remains as lost at the end as one was at the beginning.

But according to LDS official doctrine, One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206.)

As far as the Bible is concerned, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . .” (8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church.)

However, the Book of Mormon claims that the Bible is NOT translated correctly in any of its versions, so the LDS article of faith in the Bible ‘as the Word of God’ is meaningless;

Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 13:28, the Book of Mormon).

Indeed, the LDS holds that the book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible. (History of the [LDS] Church, 4;461)

So, what does the Book of Mormon teach more correctly than Scripture? Does it enhance Scripture? Or contradict it?

Mormon Doctrine, page 63, teaches that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as their brothers and sisters in heaven. So, how did Jesus become God and Savior while His brother, Satan, became the Devil?

Mormon Doctrine, page 193 and the Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, page 8 explains:

A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus’ plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to “deny men their agency and to dethrone God.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things including Satan. John 1:1-3 teaches that the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. (Including Satan AND Heaven)

Not only does the LDS doctrinally deny the Deity of Christ, they even deny the Deity of God the Father.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS, taught that God used to be just a man on another planet, a heresy that has been fully accepted by the LDS as a matter of doctrine. (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol 5, pp. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol 2, p. 345, Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333.)

According to the Bible, one of the attributes of God is that He is eternal without either beginning nor end. The Mormon god is not eternal.

According to official LDS doctrine, God Himself had a father. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105.)

And, after you become a good Mormon, you too, have the potential of becoming a god. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-347, 354.)

According to the Bible, there is only One God. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. (Deuternomy 6:4) . . .for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me. . . (Isaiah 46:9)

The LDS teaches there are many gods (Mormon Doctrine p. 163) “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light (Book of Abraham 4:3)

There are lots more: There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188); good works are necessary for salvation, Articles of Faith, p. 92); but I think I ve made my point.

To be sure, there will be Mormons who will dispute some of these doctrines, or attempt to minimize them, but if so, they are ignorant of their own theology. That is why I included chapter and verse, so they can look it up for themselves.

This isn t a slam against Mormonism; it is what it is I didn t invent its doctrines and I admit that I envy much about the Mormon lifestyle.

I admire their missionary zeal, their commitment to their faith and families, their loyalty to their church . . . but Mormon doctrine is not Christian dctrine.

That is not to say it might be Christian, but just a different kind of Christian, like Catholics are different than Baptists, who are different than Presbyterians, who are different from non-denominational Christians.

The only thing that is doctrinally Christian about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Name on the door.

That said, consider the public testimonies of the other Christian front-runners, like Catholic Rudy Guiliani, Baptist Fred Thompson, Methodist Hillary Clinton or United Church of Christ Member Since-2007 Barack Obama.

Since we are only talking about a form of godliness in even a best-case scenario anyway, I actually kind of like Mitt Romney for president.

How Hard Men Say “Thank You”

How Hard Men Say “Thank You”
Vol: 73 Issue: 30 Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The California fires were (and are) a human tragedy of immense proportions let s get that said right off the bat. I don t want to minimize the suffering and damage one iota.

Seventeen hundred or so homes have been destroyed by the fires. But most of those losses were insured. A dozen or so people lost their lives, maybe another fifty were injured.

But for the most part, refugees from the fire had someplace to go, as more than fifty refugee shelters sprang up throughout the affected area.

Governor Arnold Schwartzeneggar seemed to be everywhere at once, and everywhere he went, order followed. He made a point of contrasting conditions at Qualcom Stadium in San Diego with those of New Orleans.

Indeed, as disasters go, California s reaction to the fires were an American success story.

That said, what constitutes a catastrophe in California is just another day in paradise compared to a day in the life of the average Iraqi.

Yesterday, a suicide bomber rode his bicycle up to a group of Iraqi police officers doing their morning calesthenics and detonated his payload, killing THIRY Iraqi policemen.

It s gross, but it is important to understanding the overall point, so forgive me for the following eyewitness description:

“I saw many bodies covered in blood. Some were dying, some had arms and legs blown off,” said store owner Ali Shahine.

At least 20 people were wounded in the attack, including a woman and a child, police said. And in Diyala, police found 20 decapitated bodies on Monday, dumped near a police station west of Baquba.

Also, yesterday, an American general was wounded by an IED when it was detonated on a city street in Baquba in northern Iraq.

Brigadier General Jeffrey Dorko, commanding general of the Gulf Region Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, became the highest ranking US officer to be wounded in combat, although his wounds are stable and not believed to be life-threatening.

In other violence, a car bomb in a residential area in the northern Iraqi town of Siniya demolished two homes, killing eight people and wounding 13, police said.

That is just a typical Monday in Iraq. The average Iraqi can t be sure he will survive to see another day.

Although the surge is working and violence is down 70% since June, a good day in Iraq is worse than the worst day in America.

Assessment:

The average Iraqi policeman makes between $300 and $600 per month, depending on their rank. The Iraqi cost of living is soaring, and a policeman s salary is barely enough to keep a family above water.

While most Iraqis are grateful to the US for being liberated, there is scarcely a person in Iraq who hasn t lost a loved one to the Americans, either in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Fox in 1998, the 2003 invasion, or its aftermath.

For those reasons and more, the Iraqis have every reason to hate us as much as the New York Times, LA Times, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, ad nauseum keeps telling us that they do.

Sure, the media says, the Iraqis appreciate being liberated from Saddam. But is what they were liberated to an improvement? , they ask rhetorically, before making their case that it is not.

And they make a powerful case, especially from the perspective of the average American sitting in the comfort of his home watching the news on his big screen TV. For an American, tragedy is when the cable goes out in the middle of a football game.

We are constantly reminded that, while life under Saddam was bad, the streets were safe, the markets were open, the electricity was on these things are all important to Americans.

Many Americans don t get it because they were free-born and have lived free all their lives. Of course the Iraqis hate us! Look what we ve done to them!

That is continually drummed into our heads by the media, who, like the Democrats, have placed their bets and invested their reputations on a US failure in Iraq.

Iraqis, who were NOT free-born and have never lived in freedom, see things differently. What stands out for Iraqis isn t what we have done TO them, but what we have done FOR them.

As evidence, a troop of Iraqi soldiers took up a collection among themselves and raised $1000 which they donated to help the victims of the California fires!

Generally speaking soldiers are a hard lot; their profession is death, destruction and tragedy. They are trained to inflict the maximum amount of tragedy possible upon their enemies, so they are not, generally speaking, easily moved by tragedy.

I don t want you to miss this. Iraqi soldiers are even harder.

They ve survived Saddam, twelve years of US imposed sanctions and bombing raids, the 03 invasion and its aftermath, and the carnage of the terrorist bombing campaigns in their cities and towns.

Iraqi soldiers often find it is their duty to go into their own neighborhoods, often to hunt down and kill their own neighbors.

Here’s the point. These are hard men earning a hard living the hardest way imaginable.

But they dug down into their own meager funds and contributed what is a relative king s ransom to help out the victims of the California fires.

It’s hard to miss the irony of Iraqi soldiers sending money to help out victims on the Left Coast. But this is what ought not to be missed in all this: this is how hard men say ‘thank you’.

And, to paraphrase Lt Col Oliver North, this is one war story that deserves to be told.

Seven Years Later

Seven Years Later
Vol: 73 Issue: 29 Monday, October 29, 2007

There was a fascinating editorial in this weekend’s Jerusalem Post published under the headline, “Europe’s Awakening” outlining Israel’s hopes for the outcome of Ehud Olmert’s trip to Paris.

The JPost viewed the trip as ‘quite encouraging’ listing, among other things, an unexpectedly militant ally in Gordon Brown, who promised to push for increased sanctions against Iran until it drops its nuclear program.

Although Israelis have little reason to believe stepping up sanctions against Iran will turn Ahmadinejad into a Zionist, when you are a pariah state, anybody who isn’t against you is with you.

But it was French President Nicolas Sarkozy that the Post singled out for extraordinary praise:

“Olmert reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s position regarding Iran’s nuclear program was “identical” to his own. Sarkozy reportedly also told Olmert, regarding the Palestinian demand of a “right of return,” that they cannot demand a state of their own and “part of your country too.”

Finally, (and most importantly, I think) Sarkozy reportedly told Olmert that “Israel’s establishment is a miracle and may have been the central event of the 20th century.”

The Post continued, “these are important statements, especially coming from European leaders, and particularly from France, given that country’s recent role as an exaggerated advocate for Arab interests. Today’s France, fortunately, seems closer to another era in its history when, in the early years of the Jewish state, Paris provided more significant assistance to Jerusalem than did Washington.”

The Post paints Sarkozy as a fresh, new wind, blowing across the Middle East, saying,

“This new wind is not just good for Israel, it will increase European influence on events in the Middle East, could help breathe new life into the peace process, and directly advance European interests. It is even good for the Arab world, since Arab countries are also threatened by the advance of Islamofascism and by the severe developmental costs their war against Israel has imposed.”

Assessment:

Seven years ago, France was among the bogeymen that used to have Israeli politicians staring at the ceiling all night when when they went to bed.

Seven years ago, Israeli newspapers were screaming about ‘resurging French anti-Semitism’ — and at one point even warning Jews to hide their Jewishness in public and even consider evacuating France for the relative safety of war-torn Israel.

Now, with the ascension of Nicolas Sarkozy to power, the Jerusalem Post is positioning France as an ally second only to the United States, and Sarkozy as something akin to a Zionist in residence at the Palais Elysee.

A lot can happen in seven years.

Seven years ago, the United States was Israel’s chief protector and ally, and Europe was high on Jerusalem’s list of antagonists. During the Chirac era, the French never saw a UN resolution condemning Israel that they didn’t like, and never saw a UN resolution favoring the Arabs that they couldn’t support.

Long-time Omega Letter readers know that, until only recently, when it came to anti-Israel resolutions, the only countries to consistently support Israel at the UN have been the United States, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia — and Israel’s biggest critic among the European leadership was Jacques Chirac.

According to the prophet Daniel, ultimately, it is to Europe, and not to the United States, that Israel turns to negotiate a final peace agreement that settles the issues now looming large; the final status of Jerusalem, Temple Mount sovereignty, the security ‘wall’ etc.

Daniel says that it is a ‘prince’ of the revived Roman Empire that finally ‘confirms’ a seven-year ‘covenant’ between Israel and the ‘many’ of Daniel 9:26-27. And as I’ve observed before, one cannot ‘confirm’ a covenant — or even a dentist’s appointment — unless one firsts exists to be ‘confirmed’.

That unconfirmed covenant exists. It was signed between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on September 13, 1993 and was based on the principle of ‘land for peace’ (dividing the land for gain – Daniel 11:39). It called for a series of phased trades of land for peace that was to result in a ‘final solution’ to the issues of Jerusalem and an equitable sharing agreement for the Temple Mount.

Arafat scuttled the Oslo Agreement and started the Oslo War, but every subsequent peace effort (including that scheduled next month in Maryland), is based on Oslo’s basic formula of land for peace.

Israel has surrendered the land, but the United States has been unwilling or unable to guarantee the peace. That has been, and remains, a central stumbling-block to this point.

An additional problem lies in the fact that there have been so many agreements built upon ‘understandings’ built upon previous agreements and understandings that nobody understands or agrees as to what has been agreed to and what has been understood to this point.

It seems painfully obvious that at some point, somebody is going to have to step in and roll everything back to zeroes and start over.

The US can’t. The war on terror has more or less permanently poisoned the US image in the Islamic world. American and Israeli interests are so closely linked as to be inextricable — if the Arabs don’t trust Jerusalem, there is little reason why they should trust Washington.

Europe, on the other hand, is widely viewed in the Arab world as being an impartial broker, and both the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have demanded greater European involvement in the peace process, which they argue, was a process that was brokered in Oslo under the auspices of the European Union in the first place.

But Israel couldn’t accept a European-led peace process because Israel didn’t have anybody in Europe that they felt they could trust.

Until Ehud Olmert met Nicolas Sarkozy and, peering into his soul, found there a closet Zionist.

Negotiating For War

Negotiating For War
Vol: 73 Issue: 27 Saturday, October 27, 2007

There is more and more war-talk against Iran emanating from the White House and Pentagon, but instead of bringing Ahmadinejad to his senses, it is just making him more belligerent.

The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullin, held a press conference on Iran at the Pentagon. In order to ensure Tehran got the message, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates joined him at the podium.

Asked if the US military was prepared to take on Iran while simultaneously conducting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mullin told reporters:

“From a military standpoint, there is more than enough reserve to respond if that, in fact, is what the national leadership wanted to do. . .And so I don’t think we’re too stretched in that regard.”

Mullen’s press conference is one of a series of top-level warnings of an impending war with Iran in the past week.

On October 21st, Vice President Cheney said in an address to the Washington Institute that the US is not only capable, but ‘prepared’ to confront Iran militarily if necessary.

“The regime continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time,” Cheney said. “We WILL not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Defense Secretary Gates also went on the record, explaining why the administration believes the war is both unavoidable and necessary:

“If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it seems very probable that there will be other states in the region that decide for their own protection they will have to obtain nuclear weapons as well,” Gates said.

“This is not to mention the fact that you’ve got a leader in Iran who has already publicly said that Israel ought to be destroyed. So let’s just say that the leadership in Iran doesn’t give us confidence, even by their public statements, that they would handle this kind of a capability with any kind of responsibility.”

Umm, ya think?

Assessment:

TIME Magazine opened it’s report headlined, “Iran War Drumbeat Grows Louder” with this ominous sentence: “The prospect of war with Iran is beginning to look real.” I call it ‘ominous’ because the TIME story doesn’t attempt to blame George Bush, Dick Cheney or the US administration for the crisis.

Instead, TIME says, “the showdown has elements of a perfect storm. The decline of U.S. fortunes in Iraq has been accompanied by a rise in Iranian assertiveness, which has intensified with Ahmadinejad’s recent tough talk.

Trumpeting Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a nationalist cause, Ahmadinejad rejected the agreement by his moderate predecessor, Mohammed Khatami, to voluntarily suspend uranium-enrichment during three years of negotiations with European powers.

Ahmadinejad abandoned Khatami’s “dialogue of civilizations” for more confrontational rhetoric, calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and goading the West by denying the Holocaust.

Iran enthusiastically backed Hizballah and Hamas in their confrontations with Israel, and denounced the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”

Last week, the United States imposed sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, declaring them a terrorist organization, seizing assets and blacklisting Iran’s three largest banks.

This week, Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, Ari Larijani resigned abruptly in protest of his own government’s increasingly hardline position.

This afforded Ahmadinejad to replace the relatively-moderate Larijani with Saeed Jalili, a lifelong friend, but a relatively minor official in Ahmadinejad’s government.

Jalili and Ahmadinejad go back to their student days when Ahmadinejad and Jalili were among the student leaders behind the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis.

Moreover, Jalili, like Ahmadinejad is a hard-line member of the ‘Twelvers’ sect who believe the 12th Imam will soon assume leadership of a vast Islamic army that will defeat the West and usher in a period of Islamic peace and prosperity.

We’ve discussed this before: Ahmadinejad believes he has been called by Allah to begin the global war that will force the Mahdi to return and take his place at the head of the Islamic hordes. He therefore believes it is his religious duty to start that war.

And, most importantly, he believes it just as intently as you or I believe it is our religious duty to carry the Gospel to the lost.

Larijani is not a devout Twelver, and that, in part, explains the reason for his resignation. How does one negotiate peace on behalf of a leader already determined to start a war?

Iran’s position is not historically unique. In the last century, both Hitler and Hirohito were making war plans while simultaneously conducting phony peace talks.

(The Japanese were still in negotiations with Washington when the bombs began raining down on Pearl Harbor, for example.)

Larijani may have just discovered he was negotiating with nothing to negotiate and resigned, but Jalili knows it going in. Jalili shares Ahmadinejad’s messianic convictions; he has since they were both boys.

Twelvers now control the Presidency, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, which is now headed by Twelver Gholam Hossein Ejehi, and the Interior Ministry (secret police), headed by Twelver Mostafa Pour Mohammadi.

And, with Saeed Jalili in charge of both Iran’s Supreme National Security Council AND Iran’s relationship with the West, there isn’t much stopping the Twelvers from proceeding with their religious objective of bringing about their messiah’s return.

California Burning

California Burning
Vol: 73 Issue: 26 Friday, October 26, 2007

Firefighters are beginning to gain ground against the massive southern California wildfires that have so far scorched a half-million acres of prime California real estate, destroyed at least 1,800 homes, injured 82 and killed seven, so far.

As of yesterday evening, some 12,465 refugees from the fire had taken shelter in the 45 evacuation centers set up in the affected counties.

In the worst fire, about 197,990 acres in northern San Diego County from Witch Creek to Rancho Santa Fe have been destroyed, together with almost 1,100 homes, 30 commercial properties, 175 outbuildings and 230 vehicles. Another 1,100 homes and businesses are still threatened.

Altogether, there are about twenty separate, named wildfires burning, in a half-dozen counties, many of them still uncontained. In San Diego County, there are the Witch Poomacha, Horno/Ammo, Harris and Rice fires; the Ranch Fire in Ventura, the Santiago Fire in Orange County, the Slide and Grass Valley Fires.

The Buckwheat, Canyon, Magic and Meadowridge Fires in Los Angeles County were declared ‘contained’, as were the Rosa and Roca fires in Riverside, the Cajon, McCoy, Coronado Hills and Wilcox fires in San Diego County, the Nitesky in Ventura and the Sedgewick Fire in Santa Barbara.

Even before the wildfires had names — and before some of them had even started, NBC News declared them to be the result of global warming. (Why not? If the Secretary-General of the UN can blame global warming for an Islamic-sponsored, systematic genocide against non-Muslims in Darfur, why not wildfires? At least the wildfire theory makes some sense — at least on the surface).

Standing in smoldering ruins of a home in San Diego County, anchor Brian Williams introduced the story: “This has been the driest season on record, unusually severe, that’s leading some people here to wonder: Are these fires somehow a result of climate change? The UN panel on global warming did warn that we would see more wildfires, so is there a real connection?

After reporter Anne Thompson cautioned; “Scientists say you can’t know after just one season” whether warming is to blame, Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a leading global warming alarmist who, NBC failed to mention, serves as a science adviser to Environmental Defense, reasoned:

“The weather we’ve seen this fall may or may not be due to the global warming trend, but it’s certainly a clear picture of what the future is going to look like if we don’t act quickly to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases.”

Undeterred by her own warning label, NBC’s Thompson summarized it thusly:

“A new study out this week suggests the impact of climate change could be stronger and sooner than expected. And one of the predicted impacts from climate change could be more wildfires.”

She added: “The wildfires are just one example of this fall’s extreme weather: Tornadoes in Michigan, a lack off fall color in the Carolinas, the spectacular foliage muted by drought and warm temperatures….And here in Minnesota’s twin cities, they are still awaiting the first official frost.”

It puts me in mind of another scene from the Wizard of Oz — the one where Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow walk through the dark, scary woods chanting,

“Lions and tigers and bears. . . Oh my!”

(It says something when the two works of literature the headlines most often bring to the front of my mind are the Bible and the Wizard of Oz. Not sure what.)

CBS put a new twist on the wildfires, finding a way to blame global warming, the environmentalist movement AND the firefighters at the same time.

Katie Couric brought together Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and professional ‘expert’ John Blackstone and several other experts to discuss how it is everybody’s fault.

Blackstone explained that the fires are; “A problem that gets worse as the earth gets warmer. Fire ecologist Tom Swetnam has a collection of tree rings that reveals thousands of years of climate history. He told Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes that global warming means a longer fire season.”

Then Thomas Swetnam, identified as a “Fire Ecologist’ speaks up, adding, “The fire season in the last 15 years or so has increased more than two months over the whole western U.S.”

Blackstone adds, “Add to that, a whole lot more fuel to burn, a result of a hundred years of fighting fires. . . Firefighters are trying to keep up with the megafire threat, a threat that won’t go away in a warming world, and a growing West.

ABC’s Claire Shipman tried to blame the fires on Arnold Schwartzeneggar. The Governator took her by the hand, on camera, looked her square in the eye and said, “Trust me when I tell you, you’re looking for a mistake and you won’t find it because it’s all good news, as much as you maybe hate it, but it’s good news.”

(It’s all good news. . . it’s all good news. . . it’s all good news. . . )

Clearly flustered, Shipman wrapped up her report by telling ABC’s viewers, “So the Governor is positive, but practical.” (It’s all good news. . . it’s all good news)

Since George Bush wasn’t actually standing there, Shipman recovered enough to suggest that hopefully, we’ll be able to blame George Bush.

“[The Governor] actively encouraged President Bush to come out here as soon as possible. He knows that despite the disruption this presidential visit will cause tomorrow, it will keep the federal government and all of its resources focused on California, ideally hoping to stave off any Katrina-like situations.

(Blame Bush? Hey, maybe it really will be all good news!)

Assessment:

Evidently, the major networks were so busy looking for various ways to heap blame on the government, either through global warming, direct federal mismanagement, overly successful firefighters and/or George Bush (nobody else tried to blame the Governator after Shipman) that they didn’t hear about the arson(s).

In Orange County, police say they are certain that a fire that destroyed nine homes was man-made. Investigators from the FBI were called in to inspect three different ignition points.

In San Bernadino, police shot and killed one man and took another into custody and charged him with setting a brush fire there.

Another blaze, in Temecula, is also being treated as suspicious, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Another person was actually caught in the act of setting a fire on a hillside and fleeing on a motorcycle before being caught by police and taken into custody. Altogether, there have been five arrests for arson so far, and police expect more arrests.

(What? You mean it wasn’t the federal government or global warming?)

Well, it could be. If the arsonists were American.

Then they are part of America — and we, the people are responsible for making them social misfits who were unhinged by the dangerous and environmentally irresponsible policies of the warmongering Bush administration and set the fires as a desperate cry for help.

That would wrap it up nicely.

The man police shot and killed was an American from Kingman, Arizona named Russell Lane Daves.

Another suspect is identified only as a 41 year-old ‘Guatemala native’. No information regarding the background of any of the other suspects has been released.

The one possibility that everybody is avoiding is that of any connection with terror. Arson, maybe, but the preferred choices are global warming, George Bush and human existence in general.

About the only ones who are even suggesting the possibility are WND and Fox News. (A Google search on the keywords “California arson terror” returned a cluster of only six stories, most of which were castigating Fox for even hinting at a connection.)

This seems odd to me. Wildfire arson is a perfect terror tactic, and almost foolproof. Using a timed ignition device somewhere deep in the woods, a terrorist could be back in Tehran in time to watch the breaking news reports.

Why wouldn’t a terror attack be the first possibility explored? Or at least among the first.

One would think that blaming Osama bin Laden without evidence should come at least slightly ahead of blaming George Bush or the Governator in advance for the mistakes they haven’t made yet.

But the very last place the media would think to look would be Islamic terror. What if it turns out that it wasn’t Islamic-inspired terror?

Well, what if it turns out it wasn’t George Bush, Governator Arnold, or global warming?

Meanwhile, while the media fiddles, California continues to burn.

There’s Something About Mary. . .

There’s Something About Mary. . .
Vol: 73 Issue: 25 Thursday, October 25, 2007

Quietly, and without a lot of fanfare, Roman Catholic and Church of England leaders have been holding high-level meetings aimed at reconciling the two denominations and merging them into a single mega-church for both Anglicans and Catholics.

Recently, the Times of London reported hat the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches have studied the possibility of joining forces under the authority of the Pope.

A 42-page document called ‘Growing Together in Unity and Mission’ outlines how the two churches could re-unite, hundreds of years after the Church of England emerged from its Roman Catholic roots.

Jointly led by the Right Rev. David Beetge (an Anglican bishop from South Africa) and the Most Rev. John Bathersby, (Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia), the commission’s recommendations are being considered by the Vatican and the meeting in Dar es Salaam.

(Maybe it’s just me. But Dar es Salaam as the choice for a Christian religious summit seems a bit off-key, but in this context, somehow, not.)

If the Commission’s recommendations are accepted, the world’s approximately 1 billion Roman Catholics and 78 million Anglicans could find themselves as one big church.

Efforts on both sides to unite the two have been ongoing in a semi-formal manner since at least 1965, when the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States was established, but it went global in 2000 with the establishment of the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.

(Again, maybe it’s just me. But the fact that it went global in 2000 kinda makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.)

But the big stumbling-block to unification is the Vatican’s elevation of Mary to the status equal to that of a goddess. Even the Anglicans have trouble with that.

And, without being unduly unkind, the Church of England was created by Henry VIII who declared himself its head, because the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce from Anne Bolyn.

The establishment of the state Church of England tore British society apart and the conflict created what remains the longest word in the English language.

The word, ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ was coined to describe the movement that was opposed to Henry VIII’s dis-establishment of papal supremacy in English Christianity.

But the principle doctrinal difference between the High Anglican Church and the Vatican is what non-Catholics call “Mariolotry” or the worship of Mary.

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission issued a joint statement called, “Mary: Grace and Hope” addressing the problem.

The Anglican side agreed to “reject any interpretation of Mary that would obscure the unique mediatorship of Jesus Christ.”

In other words, Mary can still be a “co-Mediatrix with Christ” — in keeping with Vatican teachings, provided the “mediatorship of Christ” remains “unique.”

Since even the Vatican doesn’t teach that Mary went to the Cross for the sins of mankind, the statement on Mary makes a distinction without a difference.

In essence, the new Trinity would be a quartet with a silent partner.

Assessment:

Addressing the Vatican’s doctrines concerning Mary is always difficult to do without diminishing Mary’s actual role in the Greatest Story Ever Told.

The two Marian doctrines that create the most division are those of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception.

In 1950, Pope Pius XXII issued the ex-cathedra (“infallible”) statement that Mary did not die a normal human death, but was bodily assumed into Heaven.

By this Papal Bull, (that’s not an editorial comment — that’s what papal pronouncements are called) Pius XXII declared this to be a doctrinal truth of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Second Vatican Council in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium added a new doctrine in 1965, that of the “Immaculate Conception.” This doctrine concluded that Mary was, “the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things.”

Wow. Quite an elevation from the humble picture of Mary presented by the Bible. The Mary of the Bible never saw herself as Queen of Heaven. Indeed, the Scripture records that pretty much every idea Mary presented to Jesus drew from Him a stern rebuke.

When Jesus was twelve, she lost Him in Jerusalem and didn’t realize He was gone until they were halfway home to Nazereth.

Since Joseph and Mary traveled for a full day before discovering Jesus wasn’t with them, it took another day for them to return to Jerusalem, which means Jesus was left alone with no apparent place to sleep or food to eat during those two days.

(It was part of God’s plan, and I don’t fault her for it, but had it happened in 2007 instead of AD 12 or so, Jesus would have been raised by social workers.)

Having lost her Son in the first place, when she found Him, the first words out of her mouth were to blame Him for getting lost.

“And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? behold, Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.”

Jesus rebuked her by reminding her Who His Father really was:

“And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49)

The Catholic Mary might be sinless and Divine, but she didn’t seem to ‘wist’ much at all. Then there was the time when He was teaching and Mary sent word summoning Him.

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to Him. Someone told Him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.”

So Mary, Ever Virgin, was not only standing outside, but she was accompanied by His brothers.

Jesus refused to see her, rebuking the messenger by saying, “Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?” Pointing to His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)

Jesus wasn’t denying that Mary was His mother, so it doesn’t wash that He was denying He had brothers — instead He was using the occasion to teach a wider truth about what Hal Lindsey calls “the forever Family of God” of which the Church are all members.

The dilemma facing the Anglican Unification Squad is the same one that faced the Vatican.

For a Christian to reject the perpetual virginity of Mary is no insult to her. In fact, for a married woman (including Mary) to remain a virgin after being married, is unscriptural:

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. . . The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1st Corinthians 7:5)

So, which is it? Was Mary sinless? Or was she a married ever-virgin? According to Scripture, you can’t have it both ways.

The Anglican Roman Catholic Unity USA disagrees, concluding in a statement:

With regard to the definition of the Immaculate Conception (MGHC 59), the assertion that Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, preserved immune from all stain of original sin means that she never contracted the inherited guilt of original sin, and implies that she began her human existence in the state of supernatural grace. On the other hand, as a member of the human race she shared the universal need of redemption. Her redemption was accomplished, through a singular privilege of grace, by being preserved from contracting the guilt of original sin, rather than by being justified during her lifetime. Her immunity from original sin was due to the merits of Jesus Christ, the sole Redeemer of all humankind. The gift of supernatural grace with which she was endowed was essentially the same as ours, the difference being that she never lacked what we receive in baptism.

In other words, Mary could be both sinless and in need of Redemption, but since she got her immunity from sin from Jesus Christ . . . oh heck, I can’t make sense of it.

The document similarly got around the problem of a virgin having three sons and two daughters in addition to Jesus, and her bodily assumption into Heaven.

But you see what the problem is. It is impossible to contrast the Biblical picture of Mary with the Vatican’s Mary without sounding like one is disrespecting her.

Let me try and balance the record. Mary was a godly women, “blessed among women” and uniquely privileged to bear the Savior of the world.

She risked both her marriage and her life to obey God. In Mary’s world, adultery was punishable by stoning. She was a woman of great faith and great courage and one highly favored by the Lord.

But Mary is never presented by Scripture as more than that.

I am reluctant to pronounce the present-day Roman Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon of Revelation, because at the present time, it is not. But it is in the process of constructing the edifice on which it will be based.

Despite the Vatican’s doctrinal flaws, I believe that there are many sincere, born-again Catholic Christians, and their presence is what makes the difference during the Church Age.

But the system, on the other hand, is a letter-perfect match for the system described by the Apostle John in the Book of the Revelation.

John describes its doctrine as having two horns like a Lamb but the teachings of the Dragon. He describes the seat of that religion as a ‘great city’ that sits on ‘seven mountains’. To this day, Rome is known as the City of Seven Hills.

The Vatican teaches that anyone who is not a Catholic is not truly a Christian — but it welcomes its erring ‘brothers’ (like the Anglicans) to return to the Church, apart from which, Pope Benedict recently proclaimed, “there is no salvation.”

What we really see developing is a great, global religion, based on Christianity (two horns like a Lamb) but one that has embraced another gospel and another Trinity, a system that diminishes salvation by faith in Christ and re-introduces the ancient Babylonian practice of goddess worship as ‘Christian’ doctrine.

There are yet two remaining developments that must take place before the system attains the status assigned it by John. First, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit must be withdrawn from its midst.

After that, it can take on its destined role as the spiritual herald that proclaims the new gospel of “him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:9)

According to the Scriptures, the reign of the antichrist lasts but seven years — not enough time to create a brand-new religion. But more than enough time to seize control of the one currently under construction.

It’s almost ready now.

The Togarmah Prophecy

The Togarmah Prophecy
Vol: 73 Issue: 24 Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Turks continue to mass troops and warplanes along its shared border with northern Iraq and has already launched a number of cross-border incursions into that country.

Turkey is after members of the PPK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) that the Turks have declared to be a terrorist organization. Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

US sources said the Turks have flown sorties 20 miles inside Iraqi air-space and have killed 34 Iraqi Kurds.

The sorties were in retaliation for a PPK strike against Turkish soldiers along the border that left twelve of the Turks dead.

Turkey, which has NATO’s second biggest army, has deployed as many as 100,000 troops, backed by tanks, F-16 fighter jets and helicopter gunships, along the mountainous border in preparation for a possible large-scale strike.

(For the purposes of comparison, the US has about 130,000 troops inside Iraq for the surge and the Pentagon says the US can’t sustain that troop level longer than April before we run out of eligible replacements.)

The modern Kurds are the descendants of one of the most ancient nations of the Middle East. Ethnically, Kurds are neither Arab nor Persian. Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds, is spread among several modern states: northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and small parts of Armenia.

There is no exact figure to the Kurdish population because each state has tended to downplay the number of Kurds within its own borders. Nevertheless, according to various estimates, the Kurdish population is estimated to range between 25 to 30 million. Out of an estimated six thousand different human languages, Kurdish ranks 40th in importance.

This makes the Kurds the fourth largest ethnic people of the Middle East. In the Old Testament, Kurdistan was called Nineveh. It was the Ninevites, or modern Kurds, to whom Jonah was sent by God to preach repentance.

Jonah didn’t much care for the Ninevites and balked at God’s command to go testify to them. As far as Jonah was concerned, if they were all going to hell, well, too bad.

Fortunately for the Ninevites, God insisted. When Jonah hopped a freighter to escape, God sent a storm and Jonah told the captain it was because of him. The captain pitched Jonah overboard, where he was swallowed by a ‘great fish’ where he survived for three days before being regurgitated on shore.

Jonah went to Nineveh where the king received his message by ordering the entire nation to repent in sackcloth and ashes for forty days. The Ninevites were among the few Gentile nations in history to be singled out by God for national repentance.

The ancient Ninevites eventually merged with the Gutti tribe, forming the Medes, who, together with the Persians, made up the Medo-Perisan Empire that replaced the Babylonian Empire.

That is how old the Kurdish people are as an ethnic nation. The Kurds can trace their ancestry back to the dawn of civilization. They played a major role in shaping the dawn of human civilization.

It would appear that God has a role for the descendants of Nineveh to play in unfolding Bible prophecy for the last days, as well.

Turkey is one of the “wild cards” when it comes to figuring out the role it is to play in unfolding Bible prophecy. Although a majority-Muslim state governed by the Turkish Islamist Party, the Turks have traditionally allied themselves with the West since the conquest and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1917.

Turkey is the only Muslim nation in the Middle East to have formal diplomatic relations with Israel. But according to the Prophet Ezekiel, Turkey (Togarmah) turns its back on the West, allies itself with the Islamic confederation led by Iran (Persia) and is a participant in the Gog-Magog War.

This has always been something of a conundrum to Bible prophecy scholars, some of whom, having made the mistake of making Bible prophecy fit with current events, have concluded that Togarmah must refer to Armenia or Cimmeria (part of modern Russia). Togarmah couldn’t be Turkey.

Turkey is a NATO ally and a supplicant for membership in the European Union. Its government is officially secular, despite the fact it is governed by the Turkish Islamist Party.

What would it take to drive Turkey into an alliance with Iran and ultimately, the Russians?

Assessment:

Vindicating the Founding Father’s decision to place foreign policy in the hands of the Executive Branch instead of the Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed Turkey to the brink of war by insisting that the Congress declare the Turkish massacre of Armenian Kurds more than ninety-two years ago to be an act of ‘genocide’.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But it took place in 1915, when the Ottomans still ruled Turkey. Two years later, the Ottomans were defeated by the Allies and its empire carved up into pieces. The guilty have already been punished. So making such an official declaration serves no purpose apart from infuriating the modern Turks.

It was a boneheaded move by what has to be the most boneheaded Congress in living memory. There are all kinds of historical crimes Nancy Pelosi could have decided to make right, instead.

What about the conduct of the British during the Revolutionary War? How about the fire-bombing of German civilians in Dresden in the closing days of World War II?

If Nancy just wanted to make the papers, why not choose some historical catastrophe that people have heard of?

Or better yet, why not pass a resolution about some present-day historical catastrophe, like the genocide ongoing in the Darfur region of the Sudan? Or North Korea’s death camps?

It seems counter-intuitive. The US has combat forces in Iraq battling al-Qaeda. The one reliable ally there from the beginning has been the Iraqi Kurds. Our only other reliable ally in the neighborhood is Turkey.

The genocide declaration pits one of our allies against the other — with us in the middle — over a ninety-year old historical incident that doesn’t involve the United States at all.

Why stir up a hornet’s nest, right there — and right now?

It is obvious that the Democrats clearly intended to stir up that hornet’s nest to try and misdirect attention away from the continuing progress being made in Iraq. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and their colleagues in the House and Senate have made opposition to the conflict in Iraq their defining political issue.

They have bet all their political capital on the invasion of Iraq being a Republican-sponsored catastrophe. John Kerry made it the centerpiece of his campaign in 2004 and, despite his being such a personally-flawed candidate that even many Democrats couldn’t vote for him, it brought him to within a relative hair’s breadth of victory over George Bush.

Two more years of trumpeting catastrophe in Iraq won them narrow majorities in both Houses. They declared these narrow majorities as ‘mandates’ to withdraw from Iraq, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid famously and flatly declaring, “The war is lost.”

Except now, it appears that the war is not lost — in fact, we are winning. All of the news from the battlefield has suddenly turned around. Casualties from terrorist attacks are down 70% since June. Most of al-Qaeda’s senior leadership has been captured or killed. Osama bin Laden’s latest video release all but declares al-Qaeda’s defeat in Iraq.

And out of the blue, the Democrats suffered an attack of conscience over an event that took place during the Coolidge administration, committed by a government that was defeated and overthrown two years later, (one which had nothing whatever to do with the US before or since), forcing them to pass a resolution that they knew would enrage Turkey to the point of fury.

The Big Picture is bigger than the perfidy of the Democrats, but it provides another object lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences, particularly as to how they relate to unfolding Bible prophecy. It is also a lesson in how God anticipates the freely made decisions of man and preemptively factors them into the prophetic outline.

The West’s alliance with the Turks is precarious because it is politically unnatural for either side to sustain. The biggest threat to the Turkish regime comes from Kurdish separatists within Turkey collaborating with those in Iran and Iran.

Turkey’s natural allies would be Iran and an independent Iraq, whose regimes are similarly threatened by their own Kurdish separatist movements.

The problem is, America’s natural allies in the region are the Kurds in both Iraq and Iran. At the same time, because of our alliance with the Turks, we are forced to be on both sides at once.

The Democrats only wanted to hurt George Bush’s government (which, oddly, they don’t see as their own and therefore own no allegiance to).

The only reason Pelosi pushed the Armenian Genocide Resolution was to stir up the Turks and exploit their war with the Kurds to diminish US military successes in Iraq.

But the net effect is to add to the momentum driving the Turks into the waiting arms of the Gog-Magog alliance, as Ezekiel prophesied.

The Law of Unintended Consequences brings all these events together to produce the Big Picture in the precise configuration prophesied for the last days.

There is something else to be learned from our observations, as well. The moment somebody brings up ‘predestination’ in a conversation, somebody else will bring up an objection to the effect that ‘predestination eliminates free will’.

Each of these disparate events were individually predicated by an act of somebody’s free will.

The Kurdish commander who launched the attack that killed twelve Turks. The Turkish government officials who massed 100,000 troops along the Iraqi border in response. The individual US lawmakers who supported the Genocide resolution.

Each acted according to his own individual free will, but the exercise of that free will was foreknown and factored in by God to fit His pre-ordained plan.

” . . .for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure . . . yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. ” (Isaiah 46:9b-10,11a)

“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)

If end-time prophecy isn’t the combination of human free will and Divinely predetermined outcomes, then I don’t understand what ‘predestination’ means.