Reformation Sunday: John Knox

Preacher: Rev. Neil McDonald
Date 31 October 2010
Readings: Psalm 21:1-13, 1 Kings 18:16-40

Osama bin Knox

John Knox was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, but left Catholicism and became the bodyguard for the Scottish Reformer George Wishart. After Wishart was murdered, Knox fled and began to preach. He was later imprisoned and exiled several times, joining English speaking protestants in Geneva and Frankfurt. Returning to Scotland, he taught that where true Christian living and worship were suppressed, the people could oppose the authorities by military means. The Scottish Parliament adopted the Scots’ Confession, officially entrenching the reformation of the Church of Scotland. Knox opposed Mary Queen of Scots when she exceeded her power, demonstrating how to say “this far and no further” and the basis on which we make these judgments: God’s word.

Listen here.

Creative Commons: Osama Bin Knox by kyz

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Thinking Critically About Politics

A church historian may not appear that obvious choice to deal with this politics, but in his soon to be released book Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative, Carl Trueman writes:

My purpose is merely to show that the situation should not be as simple as the gurus of the Religious Right or their opponents on the secular Left seek to make it. Indeed, the overall thesis of this book is not so much a political one; rather, it can be summed up as “Politics in democracy is a whole lot more complicated than either political parties or your pastor tell you it is; treat it as such – learn about the issues and think for yourself.” This is why it is strangely appropriate for a trained historian, rather than a philosopher, to write this little book. The task of the historian, as one of my good historian friends often says, is to make things more complicated.

Perhaps as a broadcaster I can use my own innate qualities to I oversimplify things by quoting only the exciting bits:

To cite the Greek apologists, Christians are to be the best citizens, and being the best citizens requires being informed and thoughtful on a whole host of issues that impact the civic sphere. As Christians, therefore, we need above all things to think carefully about politics, to engage the process and the issues in a way that respects their complexity, and to avoid the clichés, oversimplifications, and Manichaeism that bedevil electoral campaigns.

You can read a sample of the book here and listen to an interview with the Reformed Forum.

An Open Letter from the Afghan Christian Community to the Body of Christ Worldwide

An Open Letter from the Afghan Christian Community to the Body of Christ Worldwide:
AN URGENT PLEA FOR HELP & INTERVENTION!
We need your help to stop the Afghan government from arresting Afghan Christians and condemning them to death by public execution!

The enclosed letter addresses recent events inside Afghanistan that have unfolded since May 27th, 2010 after an incendiary documentary showing photos and videos of secret “Afghan Christian Converts” aired on Noorin TV, an independent tv station based in Kabul. The documentary was the first of its kind to ever air publicly on national tv in Afghanistan, a country that considers itself to be 100% Muslim, and the controversial content revealing names and faces of supposed Afghan Christian converts sparked ongoing riots and demonstrations throughout Afghanistan in the days that followed (see media links below).

During the ensuing protests, demonstrators called on President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government to take strong and decisive actions against these exposed Afghan Christian converts by enforcing the Afghan constitution, based on Islamic Sharia law, which clearly call for the arrest and public execution of anyone who leaves Islam for another religion.

According to an online report by the Associated Free Press dated June 1, 2010 (see links below), Abdul Sattar Khawasi, deputy secretary of the Afghan lower house in parliament, called for the execution of Christian converts from Islam saying, “those Afghans that appeared in this video film should be executed in public, the house should order the attorney general and the NDS (intelligence agency) to arrest these Afghans and execute them”. In another reported statement, Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a lawmaker from Herat, declared that killing a Muslim who converts to Christianity is “not a crime”. Waheed Omar, the spokesman for the President, told reporters that President Hamid Karzai himself was “personally” taking an interest in this case, and had ordered his interior minister and the head of the country’s spy agency to do a full investigation and “to take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon”.Reports from inside Afghanistan already tell of many arrests in recent days, frequent and ongoing searches of homes and businesses, as well as claims of torture by those under arrest in an effort to forcibly extract the names of other Afghan Christian converts and the locations of secret Afghan Christian “churches” and underground fellowships throughout the country.

In light of all these events, and the perplexing media silence on these atrocities occurring in plain view of the international community, we are pleading with the Body of Christ around the world to support our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters during this critical time by taking a firm and vocal stand against the severe and devastating wrongs being committed against them by their own government!

We ask that you please forward and share the enclosed “open letter to the church” with your friends, churches, prayer groups, human rights advocates, the media, your local representatives, senators and other government bodies and authorities… we need everyone’s help to make our voices heard!

We must make people aware that right now our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters are being subjected to forcible arrest, intimidation, fear, torture and certain public execution merely for choosing to be Christian! We must raise up a standard against these egregious injustices and blatant human rights violations by taking a strong and public stand against these unconscionable actions being perpetrated and condoned by the Afghan government from the parliament floor against its own people!

The enclosed letter was written on June 8, 2010 by Afghan Christians who are currently living in exile from their beloved homeland because they were forced to flee their country in order to save their life and the lives of their families, due to orders of execution issued against them by the Afghan government for choosing to convert to Christianity:

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Letter to the Body of Christ around the world, written by members of the Afghan Christian community on June 9, 2010:

To the Body of Christ:

This letter is written by the Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi, India which is a small community of 150 Afghan Christian refugees and asylum seekers.

We left our country because we were sentenced to death on the account of our Christian faith (conversion), as Afghanistan is a Muslim Country, the Afghan Government is an Islamic government, and Islam is the only formal religion of the country, and according to the Constitutional law of the Afghan Islamic Republic, conversion is considered as a big crime, Christian are called pagans and infidels and are sentenced to death by the Afghan Government. Christians are considered criminals. Death penalty is waiting for all those who want to leave the darkness and come to the true light, repent from their sins, and put their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lord and Savior of all human being.

We believe that you (the Body of Christ) have already heard that some pictures and movies of the Afghan believers (from Delhi and Kabul) were shown by an Afghan Private TV (Noorin TV), this TV channel showed these picture in a especial program (Sarzameen Man), and the Government and people were encouraged and provoked to think about the issue of conversion, to make a stand against it and to take serious and practical measures and actions to destroy Afghan Converted Christians (Sons of God) and those who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Lost.

The Afghan Parliament, Senate, Religious Council and Islamic Parties and leaders made statements that the Afghan Government has to search, find, arrest, deliver to courts and executes all Afghan Christians, and the Christian NGOs and Organization have to be stopped too. University students protested against Afghan Christians in Kabul and Herat Provinces, and the Afghan Government also made a statement that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed, and the Christian NGOs and Organizations which involved with the issues of conversion will be closed.

Mr. Mujajdi the Chairman Of Afghan Senate said that if the Afghan Government does not take serious action, he and other Islamic leaders will call and request the Afghan people to take practical measures to kill all Afghan Christians.

President Karzai himself showed his personal interest in this regard and said that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed and Christian organizations which are involved with this issue will be stopped. He ordered the Afghan security organs to take serious measure in this regard. The Afghan Home Minister and the Chairman of the Afghan Intelligence told to the Afghan Parliament that 4 Afghan Christian individuals and one family are arrested and they are under investigation, 13 NGO are recognized and suspended, names of the Afghan Christians are listed and the Afghan Intelligence agency is trying to arrest them. Two Church organizations by the names of WCA and NCA are closed.

As we are in contact with our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, many believers are arrested, our houses are checked by police and intelligence people in Afghanistan, our families and parents (though they are Muslim) are under investigation and even arrested, and all Afghan believers are misplaced.

So, We (Afghan Christian Community) along with our other Afghan Christian brothers and sisters who are in

Afghanistan request you to:

1.       Please pray for us and for this critical situation, pray for those who are arrested, and those who are under investigation.

2.       Please come together and help your Afghan brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are sentenced to death, we are arrested, we are under investigation, the Afghan Government kills us because we believe on Jesus Christ, we know that we should consider it pure joy when we suffer

(James 1: 1 -4), and we are enjoying all suffering all joy. But we also know that faith without deeds is useless (James 2: 14 – 17), and this is the time to raise your voice for your brothers and sisters, for our children, for our old parents, for the execution of thousand Afghan believers. This is the day that all of us should come together and pray, think, help and raise our voices to the International Community, to put pressure on the Afghan Government to stop killing, persecuting and executing Afghan Christians, to give us freedom of religion, to respect and accept us as Afghan Christians.

3.       We do not know how the whole world and especially the Global Church is silent and closing their eyes, while thousand of their brothers and sisters (Body of Christ) are in pain, facing life danger and death penalty, and are tortured, persecuted and called criminals because they believe on the Truth. We need to wake up, get up and speak up today, and to prove it that we are really in concern, and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should help the persecuted part of the body of Christ, for His Glory. If we really believe that Lord Jesus Christ is God, then, He commands us to love Him and to love our neighbor, if our own brothers and sisters, are in pain and suffering, and we are silent and we ignore them and their suffering, then the question is that do we really obey Lord Jesus commandment of love Him and our neighbor?

So, dear brothers and sister (the Body of Christ), we (Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi) on behalf of all Afghan Christians request you to support us by your prayers and practical measures, lets tell to the Afghan Government, that we are not pagans and infidels, we are not criminal because of our Christian faith, and lets tell them not to sentence us to death.

May God bless you!

Afghan Christian Community

(Obaid S. Christ)

Church Fire Under Investigation

The Fire service and Police attended Grace Presbyterian Church today after a report of fire this afternoon. Two garbage bins have been destroyed and there was significant damage to the carport and exterior walls, but the building is still secure. Police are investigating.

Prime News covered the fire and I’ll include a link to their story as soon as it is on the net.