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-Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2018

by Dr. D ~ March 17th, 2018

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2018. Here’s our traditional post for this holiday- “The Real Story of St. Patrick”:

The Real Story of St. Patrick

image Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day to go to your favorite pub, eat corned beef and cabbage and wash it all down with plenty of green beer. Oh yes–a day of parades and celebration of Irish nationality.

But who was this St. Patrick anyway? A man born into a Roman Christian family in Wales around 385 AD with a given name of Macwyn Succat. He didn’t make it to Ireland until he was kidnapped at 16 and enslaved by Irish bandits. After six years of service he heard a voice from God instructing him to escape slavery and make it back home.

He did miraculously escape and went on to study at a Christian seminary to become a Priest. Then had a vision from God to return to Ireland as a missionary.

There were really no Christians at the time in Ireland and he singlehandedly established the church in that country while refusing tribute and support from the noblemen and kings. He converted and baptized thousands of pagans, and ordained hundreds of Priests and set up an untold number of Christian communities and churches.

He is recognized by all major Christian churches–Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican since he ministered before the church divided into all the different denominations we have today. So Protestants have just as great a claim on him as Catholics. And those of us who have Welsh blood running through our veins have as much right to claim St. Patrick as any Irishman.

Rather than a day with a built-in excuse to get drunk, I believe that it is a day for Christians to celebrate the reality and continual miracles of the Christian faith. A day to celebrate that God continues to give visions and directions to missionaries even today.

St. Patrick transformed an entire nation bringing the Gospel to an Island in darkness. Missionaries today continue to leave the comforts of home and family to spread the word of Jesus Christ to every nation in the world.  That is the real legacy of Macwyn Succat also known as St. Patrick.                *Top

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-Should Freedom of Religion Cases Turn Toward Free Speech as a Defense?

by Dr. D ~ February 15th, 2018

FREEDOM of RELIGION   FREE SPEECH

Is freedom of religion a lessor right than free speech? Not according to the Constitution but in the last 9 years or so religious freedom has been assailed and attacked on so many different fronts that it may seem like it is a civil right that is far more limited in its scope than freedom of expression.

The Obama administration promoted their HHS Contraceptive Mandate as a value which superseded religious freedom. The Supreme Court did not agree in several cases but lower courts have and cases are still in the system on that issue. Then there was Obama’s push for a four walls ‘freedom of worship’ substitute for the traditional interpretation of religious freedom.

Then in case after case, LGBT folks have assailed religious freedom on issues of same-sex marriage, gay rights, and on transgender bathroom issues contending that those rights trump any freedom of religion concerns. In many cases they have boldly claimed that religious liberty is nothing more than an excuse for discrimination and far too many judges and government administrators have agreed with them along with the media.

Plus atheist groups have tried to limit religious freedom in the public square and have had one success after another in the courts and in intimidating government and school administrators.

So free speech has gained in the process as a go to right which is beginning to be a substitute for religious liberty in some case where expression and religious conscience are both at issue. I recently posted about the baker in California who won her case on the basis of free expression. Even though her lawyers presented their case as a violation of freedom of religion the judge ruled on the basis of freedom of expression.

Here’s another case on this same issue. Some LGBT activists are saying that they actually support the Christian printer who refused to produce gay pride T-shirts citing free speech as the basis since they would not want to be forced to print anti-gay shirts. The Christian printer-Hands On Originals won their original case on the basis of religious liberty but the government is appealing it. Nevertheless, the printer’s lawyers are now contending that it is unconstitutional to force someone to print a message that goes against their conscience. Therefore adding free speech along with religious freedom to their defense.

The problem with relying on free speech in religious freedom cases is the fact that both need to be protected and freedom of religion should never be allowed to be perceived as a ‘lessor’ right.

Another problem with the free speech tactic is that freedom of expression is also under attack on many different fronts. Colleges in America are limiting speech and containing free expression to official designated spots on campus while outlawing it in other ‘safe zones.’ Also there is a huge push to eliminate ‘hate speech’ which is in the eye of the beholder. Many progressives view conservative and Christian views as needing to be limited and contained. From the perspective of some Muslims, any writing or speech against Islam should be designated as blasphemy and Islamophobia. Then there is the push by LGBT activists to designate all folks who do not agree with same-sex marriage and transgender bathroom rights as ‘haters’ whose speech need to be limited and eventually eliminated.

Point is, free speech is not a substitute for religious liberty and conscience. Both are under attack in America, both are equally represented by the First Amendment, and both need to be defended.             *Top

(Reprinted from Answers For The Faith main page>

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-New Archaeology Find Supports Hebrew Bible Record

by Dr. D ~ January 23rd, 2018

The recent discovery of a 2,700 year old seal of the ‘Governor of Jerusalem’ historically validates several Bible references and in the process gives support to the Jewish claim of Jerusalem as their historical homeland. From Arutz Sheva:

Excavations at Western Wall Plaza unearth unique stamped clay from the First Temple Period believed to belong to city governor.  …

According to the excavator, Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, "the Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, …

"This is the first time that such a sealing is found in an authorized excavation. It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2700 years ago."

<Read the whole article>

Another take on this, places this recent discovery in the context of other important finds which support the Biblical historical record. From the Christian Post:

As it so happens, the Old Testament contains two references to the Governor of Jerusalem during the reign of Josiah.

2 Kings 23 tells readers, "Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the gateway at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which was on the left of the city gate."

2 Chronicles 34 says that ". . . in the eighteenth year of [Josiah’s] reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city. . . . . to repair the house of the Lord his God."

In both instances, the position of Governor was part of an effort to root out paganism and syncretism from Judah.

<Read the whole article>

Response: A few short years ago, many scholars doubted the Biblical record about the Jewish Davidic Kingdom and naturally Muslims and Palestinians wanted to downplay any Jewish historical claims on Israel as their ancient homeland. But recent discoveries have all confirmed the Bible history and this find is particularly upsetting to Palestinians who want to continue to discount any Jewish historical claims on the City of Jerusalem.               *Top

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-Must Public Officials Give Up Their Religious Liberty?

by Dr. D ~ December 30th, 2017

Religious-Freedom-Web-146x180

Must public officials give up their religious liberty? In past generations this question would have seemed to be ridiculous in the face of the First Amendment but over and over again those serving in public office are now being challenged to conform to secular and atheist notions of ‘Church and State’ rules of conduct that never came up or existed before.

A few months ago, an atheist group demanded that Sen. Marco Rubio stop tweeting Bible verses claiming that it was against the Constitution. Then there was the ‘religious test’ attempted to be applied by Sen. Sanders against the appointment of a Christian over his very normal Christian views on eternal destiny and salvation. Another case in point is the doctor who lost his job as a state public health official because of some things he said in a sermon given in a church.

Then there is the case of Atlanta’s former fire chief, Kelvin Cochran, who was fired for publishing a Christian devotional. Both sides claimed victory last week in the court case over that dismissal. From Christianity Today:

In Cochran v. City of Atlanta, the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said that the city’s restrictions on non-work speech, which were used to terminate Cochran, “do not set out objective standards for the supervisor to employ” and do not “pass constitutional muster.”

Judge Leigh Martin May backed Cochran’s claims related to the policy’s prior restraint and unbridled discretion being in violation of the First Amendment. However, she sided with the city and against Cochran over claims of religious discrimination.

“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before engaging in free speech,” said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kevin Theriot, who represented the former Atlanta official.

A spokesperson for the Atlanta mayor’s office told local news that the judge ruled “in the city’s favor on all major constitutional issues, and specifically rejected Mr. Cochran’s claim that the city violated his due process and other First Amendment rights of freedom of association, free speech, and free exercise of religion.”

<Read the whole article>

That case will probably continue to the next level. At stake is whether Christians with a traditional view of marriage can continue to serve in public office if they publically or even privately enunciate those Christian views in print or in speech intended for friends or in a church or religious context and venue?

Even more startling this past week or so was the report of an atheist group demanding that a public official cease serving as a ‘bell ringer’ for the Salvation Army. Here’s the story from the CT Post:

Deep in the heart of Trump country, the Salvation Army’s ubiquitous red kettle is turning into a cauldron of controversy for Sen. George Logan.

An Ansonia Republican, Logan’s volunteer work as a bell-ringer outside a Walmart in Naugatuck for the Salvation Army, which is a Christian charity, has drawn opposition from a secularist group.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation called on Logan to keep up the separation between church and state. The group wrote to him Tuesday to voice its objections to him ringing the bell outside the big box store twice this week, including an appearance scheduled for Saturday at noon. …

     “We urge you to consider supporting only secular charities in the future,”

the Madison, Wisc., group wrote Logan.

This will ensure that representatives do not give the appearance of promoting an overtly Christian mission and will prevent citizens from feeling ostracized by their elected representatives because of their religious beliefs or sexual preference.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: The implications of the FFRF letter are rather far reaching. It really is saying that public officials must give up all of their affiliations and service in Christian organizations or churches which have ‘an overtly Christian mission,’ which would include basically all churches and specifically conservative ones who maintain a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality.

To most of us in the conservative Christian community this would seem to be a violation of the First Amendment and hopefully there are still some conservative judges who would continue to rule according to the original understanding of the Bill of Rights. However, in today’s America there are also an increasing number in legal circles who really do believe that public officials need to serve in an entirely secular context and give up their religious convictions and service in the process.

Occasionally I make a practice of reading editorials and views on the Internet from ‘the other side’ in order to get an understanding of where we may be heading in the future.

There is a prevailing understanding among atheists and secularists that public officials must be forced to give up their religious liberty in the assumption and service of their offices. Particularly, there is the notion being kicked around that conservative Christian should be barred from office and public positions if they continue to hold to traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality. We would contend that this position is directly against the Constitution and First Amendment.

However, many atheists and secularists now contend that since the Supreme Court ruling has established same-sex marriage as the law of the land, those who maintain a traditional view of marriage now hold an ‘illegal’ view which should no longer be tolerated when it come to those serving in public office. So there is a growing support for the notion among progressives that public officials must indeed be forced to comply and give up their religious liberty when it comes to Biblical views on marriage and sexuality. It is their view that this should no longer be considered a ‘religious test’ but should be viewed as a demand and expectation that public officials rightfully support the ‘law of the land.’

Look for the battle to continue and actually intensify over this issue in 2018.

A major battleground will be over President Trump’s appointments to the federal bench. The Senate in 2018 is turning towards the left and it will be much harder for conservatives to be approved next year. Having said that, the ‘war’ over religious liberty would have already been over if Hillary had won.

Also follow the Supreme Court. A number of interesting cases on the freedom of religion front are coming before them and their ruling (or non-ruling) could be crucial in determining the future direction of religious liberty in America. In addition, any possible changes in the make-up of the court itself would result in a major battle and religious liberty would probably be one of the major issues considered in that selection and approval process.                *Top

(Reprinted from Answers for the Faith main page)

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-Merry Christmas 2017

by Dr. D ~ December 24th, 2017

04567_Christmas_nativity_scene_at_the_Franciscan_church_in_Sanok_2010_thumb

                                                              (Image via Wikipedia)

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Day.

The Real Christmas Story

When our children were growing up it was a family tradition to read about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

*Top

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