Wael Mories = Follow Me2
Christian Persecution

Christians are united in the ecumenism of blood

‘Follow Me’ by Wael Mories.

 

“In this moment of prayer for unity, I would also like to remember our martyrs, the martyrs of today,” said Pope Francis, as he celebrated Vespers in January at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. “They are witnesses to Jesus Christ, and they are persecuted and killed because they are Christians. Those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong. They are Christians and for that they are persecuted. This, brothers and sisters, is the ecumenism of blood.”

He reiterated this theme for Vatican Radio on 16th February: “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard,” Pope Francis said. “It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.”

Some might sniff heresy in the concept of an “ecumenism of blood”, preferring instead to uphold the purity of doctrine and liturgical orthodoxy. But who quibbles over Chalcedon when you’re being rounded up and herded like cattle into trucks? Who cavils about the filioque while you’re being raped, tortured or sold into slavery? What kind of Christian bickers over the anathemas of Trent when you’re locked in a cage with other Christians waiting to being burned alive, beheaded on a beach, or, if you’re lucky, mercifully shot in the head?

There are no divisions in the Church where there is massacre, murder, oppression and opposition to Christian testimony. Persecution dispenses with the particularities of Canon Law: it is a great leveller of petty doctrines and diminutive dogma. In the apocalyptic world of suffering and martyrdom, there are no Anglicans being sliced in half; no Nestorian Assyrians or Chaldean Catholics being kidnapped; no Copts being beheaded on a beach; no Roman Catholics, Salvation Army or Presbyterians being imprisoned or hanged for blasphemy. There are only brothers and sisters in Christ. By our baptism, we are united. Washed in His blood, we are made one. Shedding our own blood, we are the same; undivided and indivisible in our passion.

The ecumenism of blood is the solidarity of submission and surrender to God and His kingdom. The suffering of martyrs is not unprecedented, but a history of agony does not diminish the present pain: Gethsemane is still followed Golgotha, and as disciples we are told to expect persecution and suffering. We are sent like sheep among wolves, and they tear at our throats, spill our blood and devour our lambs. In the darkness we are called to be a community of love. Like Israel’s prophets and her Messiah, we await the judgment of this world because it hates us because it hates Him. He suffered, and so must we. He carried His cross, and so we must take up ours.

The ecumenism of blood is the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. It is experienced by the apostles of the gospel, the martyrs of faith, the poor, the outcast, and the whole of creation that shares Christ’s tribulation. His sufferings are ours, and ours are His. ‘(I) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church‘ (Col 1:24). Our vocation is not only to suffer for Christ, but with Christ. It wasn’t 21 Copts who were beheaded on that Libyan beach: it was 21 christs, for He Himself was present in their passion, and His passion indwelt their existence and participated in their suffering.

We are at the apocalyptic horizon: this world is passing away and has no place for us. If we belong to Him and dwell in Him and He in us, we will be in agony until the End. But relief will come. And when that fifth seal is opened, we shall be together with the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And white robes will be given to every one of them, for they emptied themselves of themselves in conscious self-transcendence. In the mystery of the ecumenism of blood lies salvation.

  • The Explorer

    The big question: is all this being done with the blessing of Allah, or isn’t it?
    For many Westerners, this is simply a non-question. Didn’t Muhammad say, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”? And who is my neighbour? Didn’t Muhammad give his followers the parable of the Good Samaritan? (Well, maybe it wasn’t him specifically, but don’t all religions say the same thing?)
    NB: Presence of FE + y

    • Anton

      I know you are being ironic, but (while I mean no offence) I’m not. Muslims, Christians and Jews agree that there is – and logically can only be – one Creator of the universe. So, asking “Is Allah Jehovah?” is not a great question because it presumes that two Creator entities might exist. The names don’t help either; ‘Allah’ is simply the shortened Arabic for “THE god” (al-illah, ‘illah’ being the generic word for ‘god’ and similar to the Hebrew eloah which is the singular of Elohim found in the Old Testament, a plural which Christians take as a hint at the Trinity). Of course, ‘Allah’ has since gained Islamic overtones but it is not a name, as Jehovah (better rendered as Yahuweh) is.

      At issue between Jews/Christians and Muslims in their respective scriptures is the personality of the creator, and which of his Abraham’s sons Abraham was willing to sacrifice (Isaac, ancestor of the Jews, or Ishmael, ancestor of the Arabs). At issue between Christians and Jews/Muslims is whether Jesus of Nazareth is divine.

      • The Explorer

        With respect, Is Allah Jehovah? is not my question.
        One part of the Qur’an (the bit that timid Westerners love to cite) enjoins due regard for the people of the book (Jews and Christians). Another part of the Qur’an (the bit that timid Westerners prefer not to know about) sees Jews as the descendants of pigs and monkeys who may be killed. In the absence of Jews, other infidels will do.
        Which part of the Qur’an trumps the other (irrespective of what Westerners would prefer to believe)? That is my question. (It’s rhetorical; I know the answer.)

        • Anton

          For the benefit of those who don’t know, the doctrine of abrogation (naskh in Arabic) is Islam’s attempt to deal with the self-contradictory nature of the Quran. Based on Q2:106 it takes a verse that was uttered by Mohammad later as outdating earlier verses which it contradicts. Unfortunately for the world he began his life as a man of peace and ended it as a man of war. (The Quran is not collected in chronological order.) Non-Muslims might consider that contradictory scriptures disprove authorship by an omniscient god.

          It struck me that your opening sentence in the comment which started this thread might be about whether Allah was Jehovah. (I was not meaning to change the subject.)

          • The Explorer

            Looking at my statement again, I can absolutely see why. The fault lay with me, not with you.

      • Uncle Brian

        The question “Is Allah Jehovah?” or “Is Allah God?” can be understood in several different ways. In one of those ways, which has nothing to do with etymology or linguistics nor yet with a hypothetical second creator, the answer is simply No, because Allah is a false god and Islam is a false religion.

        • Anton

          Yes, but you have to explain which of those ways you mean before answering the question, and people’s eyes glaze over when you use the words Epistemological and Ontological. That’s why I prefer to say that the question is not a helpful one and then say that there can be at most one creator of the universe and the issue between Muslims and Jews/Christians is his personality and actions.

  • Anton

    “There are no divisions in the Church where there is massacre, murder, oppression and opposition to Christian testimony. Persecution… is a great leveller of petty doctrines and diminutive dogma. In the apocalyptic world of suffering and martyrdom, there are no Anglicans being sliced in half; no Nestorian Assyrians or Chaldean Catholics being kidnapped; no Copts being beheaded on a beach; no Roman Catholics, Salvation Army or Presbyterians being imprisoned or hanged for blasphemy.”

    Yes and No, Your Grace. Demonstrably there are those people, and there are sad tales of division being perpetuated even inside the gulag. (Read Walter Ciszek’s autobiographical account He Leadeth Me; Ciszek was an ordained Roman Catholic who unsuccessfully sought Christian unity in his prison camp.) When persecution reaches up high enough and lops off the hierarchies of those denominations – hierarchies by and large packed with careerists (or liberals) having cold hearts who use dogma as an excuse to continue division and maintain their cozy status quo – that is when there really will be only Christians, and the church will have reverted to its original structure of a Jesus synagogue in each place. And it will be Him behind it, Jesus purifying His bride, not abandoning her. Let those of us who understand these things explain it with gentleness to those believers who don’t, wherever and whenever it happens.

    • The Explorer

      C S Lewis noted that when he invited theological liberals to take the final step into full atheism, he often encountered resistance. Some sort of twinge of faith remained. Will liberal Christianity endure martyrdom? Perhaps time will tell.

      • Anton

        Persecution will push them off the fence. Some will jump the right way, some the wrong. Pray for them at that time, but in the meanwhile don’t let them wreck our churches.

    • dannybhoy

      “When persecution reaches up high enough and lops off the hierarchies of those denominations -hierarchies by and large packed with careerists (or liberals) having
      cold hearts who use dogma as an excuse to continue division and maintain
      their cozy status quo – that is when there really will be only
      Christians, and the church will have reverted to its original structure
      of a Jesus synagogue in each place.”
      I pretty much agree with that because a person for whom Jesus is the very centre and motivation of their life will seek to fellowship with any other person having the same focus. That’s when denominationalism becomes unimportant, and that’s when a lot of peripheral theology becomes irrelevant.

  • Goldmoon

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may their souls, and the souls of all the Christian departed, rest in peace. Amen.

  • len

    Satan makes no distinction between those who follow Christ he hates them all and has found willing executioners amongst the Islamic death cult known as IS.

    The blood of the martyrs is crying out to God .They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and
    true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our
    blood?”(Revelation 6:10)

  • The Explorer

    If we are indeed at the apocalyptic horizon (final paragraph), then, in my view, Islam will expand before the Second Coming. That things get worse before they get better has been borne out by my own hospital experiences.

    • Anton

      I regard the coming confrontation between Islam and secular humanism as an evil world cup final, and the winner, which I take to be humanism on the basis of certain passages in the Book of Revelation, will claim the whole world and attack Jerusalem (where he had formerly been crowned) at a time when many Jews have turned to Christ – to whom they will call in their distress. He has been waiting 2000 years for that and will return to aid his people and overthrow the evil government of the world and rule it for 1000 years as the ultimate benevolent dictator.

      I suggest that World War I and World War II are foreshadowings of, respectively, that world cup final and the campaign that leads up to Jesus’ return. After all, WWI was meant to be the war that ends wars and WWII was meant to wipe out the Jews. Tremble at the magnitude of future wars of which WWI and WWII were merely minor parallels!

      • john in cheshire

        It’s probably worth reminding ourselves that when Jesus returns He won’t come to save, He will come to do battle with satan and his armies and to judge mankind. Only those who accept Jesus will be allowed into Heaven the rest will join satan in the fires of Hell for all eternity. I just pray I’m not in the latter group.

        • Dominic Stockford

          We can have assurance of salvation.

          • Anton

            May I push you a bit on that Dominic? I agree with you but it seems to me that this is experiential, ie you know (WISSEN) that you know (KENNEN) Jesus. (German usefully has two words, the former meaning knowledge about something or someone and the latter being personal knowledge of another human.) That is why we can be sure of our own salvation but not of that of others (although we should be pretty certain before proposing marriage as we are not to be yoked to an unbeliever). Yet you have warned here – and rightly in context – about the doubtful validity of feelings above scripture. I’d love to hear a little more from you about assurance of salvation.

    • TimeForTea

      If you’re interested in the End Times, Joel Richardson, Dave Hunt, Tim LaHaye, Chuck Missler and Chuck Smith have written and recorded a lot of thorough material and several have done very in depth expositional commentaries on Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Revelation relating to the same topic.

      • The Explorer

        Thanks for the references. Chuck Missler is new to me, but I’ve heard of the others, and I’ve read some Joel Richardson. Was it you who recommended him on an earlier thread? I found him very informative.

        • Anton

          Steady on! Hunt and LaHaye at least are zealots for the pre-Tribulation Rapture which is a highly controversial doctrine. Personally I don’t believe it but I don’t think this thread is the place for a discussion of eschatology. The real problem is that most people who comment on the endtime scriptures never say that there are schools of thought opposed to theirs and so deny readers the opportunity to decide for themselves. That is true about the timing of the rapture and the timing of the millennium and even interpretations of the whole Book of Revelation. You will find all points of view covered in David Pawson’s book “When Jesus Returns”. Having covered all points of view the author then argues for which he believes are correct. Whether or not you agree with him (I do) he does at least expose readers to all alternatives.

          I would counsel readers to ask themselves the following questions:

          * If the book of Revelation depicts only spiritual battle between good and evil in the heavenly places (the idealist
          view), then why does the action in its midpart alternate between heaven and earth? What does each detail mean?

          * If the book looks ahead prophetically but is entirely spiritual, how could you know when these prophecies have been fulfilled?

          * If the book is prophetic mainly about the early church era in which John lived (the preterist view), then to what in the history books does each detail of those prophecies correspond?

          * If God came bodily to this earth as Jesus once within human history, why not again? Do those who doubt his bodily Second Coming differ from someone who, before Christ, scoffed at Isaiah’s prophecy (9:6) of the Incarnation?

          * Do the letters in the Book of Revelation to seven congregations in Asia Minor really fit successive eras of church history (the ‘historicist’ view), once the great but forgotten tale of Christianity outside the historic boundaries of the Roman Empire is taken into account, or the existence of dissident faithful churches within its boundaries (such as the Lollards and the Waldenses?

          • The Explorer

            I know about the ‘Left Behind’ Series (although I haven’t read it.) I agree eschatology is divisive, but HG did in a sense invite it with the opening to his final paragraph.

          • dannybhoy

            I remember a man saying that he’d once been asked if he was a-millenialist or pre-millenialist.
            He replied “After a great deal of thought and study I would declare myself a pan-millenialist. I think it’ll pan out alright in the end…”

          • The Explorer

            Just being ready is probably sufficient: provided the readiness is for Christ rather than for the Twelfth Imam.

          • Anton

            There’s also a tale about an argument between a pre-millennialist and a post-millennialist; the argument was PRE-POST-EROUS.

            That said, God gave these scriptures to his church and it follows that we are meant to know and understand them. I think we should not give up on that. Debating the scriptures is fine. It is doing it other than in love and unity that isn’t fine.

          • dannybhoy

            I have seen more arguments and divisions between Christians over doctrines than anything else. People stop speaking to each other, working together and worshipping together.
            Because they’ve taken their eyes off of the Lord and focussed on themselves and their knowledge..

          • Anton

            I’m in a congregation where the lead elder believes in the pre-tribulation rapture and I don’t and it is not an issue for either of us.

          • dannybhoy

            “The real problem is that most people who comment on the endtime
            scriptures never say that there are schools of thought opposed to theirs
            and so deny readers the opportunity to decide for themselves.

            Indeed, in my own early Christian circles there were a few books on the rapture and when it would happen. “The Late Great Planet Earth!” by Hal Lindsay was the biggest seller. I was as avid a reader of these various scenarios as anyone, but now I can’t be bothered.
            It’s going to happen. How it’s going to happen -who knows?
            Let’s just work at being ready.

          • CliveM

            Agreed Dannybhoy. To much time is spent speculating on the details. Frankly I find most of it verging on the fictional.

            Tried to read the first book in the series Left Behind. Utter garbage.

          • Anton

            Try Vladimir Soloviev’s Short Tale of Antichrist for an end-time short story with real literary merit. It’s a hundred years old and can be found online.

          • CliveM

            Thanks, I will try and look it out.

          • Anton

            It has the power of the late-19th century tradition of Russian novels behind it (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky). Without giving too much away, following a major war and continuing instability leading to a world dictatorship, the latest Pope, recognising that he is in exceptional times, has chosen the name Peter II. At a world congress held in Jerusalem, he and the leader of the Orthodox church
            separately recognise the dictator as Antichrist and are immediately struck dead by bolts of lightning. But they are the two witnesses spoken of in the Book of Revelation, and they are resurrected as foretold there. Church unity is
            effected as the Orthodox, Elder John, falls into the arms of the Pope, while a character called Paul (representing Protestantism) murmurs to the Pope the words Tu est Petrus (i.e., Jesus’ response to Peter’s confession that He is the Messiah). The tale includes a terrifying description
            of Satan empowering the Antichrist written from the latter’s point of view (he doesn’t realise what is happening). I doubt that events will unfold like this
            – I think the church universal will be persecuted back to its original, scriptural structure – but as literature the tale is hugely superior to its modern rivals. You can find it at, for instance,

            http://web.archive.org/web/20060112121614/http:/www.praiseofglory.com/taleantichrist.htm

            In fact endtime novels have a longer tradition than the modern flashy trashy ones. As well as Soloviev there was a Roman Catholic one and a protestant one a century ago. The Catholic one is Lord of the World by RH Benson, the son of a Victorian Archbishop of Canterbury who became a Catholic priest (the most prominent defector from Canterbury to Rome since Newman). Benson sees the evils of secular humanism particularly clearly. And starting with a pre-Tribulation rapture, the protestant novels In the Twinkling of an Eye and The Mark of the Beast (1910) by Sydney Watson.

          • dannybhoy

            I remember David Pawson from the Millmead Centre in Guildford many years ago. He also taught a few times in YWAM.
            A very learned and sincere gentleman. A real ambassador for God’s kingdom. You can read about him here…
            http://davidpawson.org/about/

        • john in cheshire

          Chuck Missler is very watchable and easy to understand. His explanation of the Book of Daniel was a joy to watch. John McArthur is also an excellent preacher; they bring meaning to the Bible in practical ways and show there’s more to Christianity than shouting hallelujah and singing emotion rousing songs.

        • TimeForTea

          May well have been me. I read Mid East Beast last year after someone recommended it to me and found it a very interesting take on the subject so I did recommend it to a few people myself when the subject arose.

          I like Missler. As someone said below he’s easy to understand (though packs a huge amount in) and in particular I like his maxim which is words to the effect of ‘don’t believe anything Chuck Missler says, be as the Bereans and search the scriptures daily to prove whether those things are so (Acts 17:11).’ There’s also a reasonable amount available online for free these days. The Left Behind series was quite a fun read but I don’t think anyone (including the authors) would build doctrine on it. They were enjoyable at the time.

  • The Explorer

    There are Christians for whom Christianity means trying to be a decent person. There are Muslims for whom Islam means trying to follow the Five Pillars. They probably share much the same view of life. (Many secular humanists would fall into the same category.) As a generality, neither group has read the Bible or the Qur’an.

  • carl jacobs

    There is a time to argue about doctrine, and there is a time not to argue about doctrine. But there is never a time when doctrine becomes unimportant. Men are not transmuted from goats into sheep as a consequence of persecution. Neither does the the fact of shared persecution make men into spiritual brothers. The Mormon is never my brother no matter what experience we may share. For a man to be a brother inside the camp, he must first be recognizable as a brother outside the camp. That said, the basic thrust of the argument is correct.

    The gulags in Russia were filled with Believers and unbelievers alike. All shared the same fate at the hands of the Chekists. They did not all share the same destiny in the Providence of God. The suffering of the Christian has a much different purpose than the suffering of a non-Christian. And yet they share the same cage, and the same fire, and the same bullet. The difference is not found in the suffering but in God who stands within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

    • The Explorer

      Agreed that suffering need not be redemptive. “Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven.” ‘Revelation’ 16:10. (Since we’re in apocalyptic mode.)

      • carl jacobs

        When Stalin was consolidating his power by liquidating potential competitors within the Communist party, he arrested essentially all of the “Old Bolsheviks” – the intellectuals who had been with Lenin at the beginning. Stalin had them charged with Treason, and they were all shot. There should be no sympathy for these men, for they were merely consumed by the apparatus they constructed. But the Cheka wanted confessions. Some of the Old Bolsheviks were cynically persuaded to confess to their imaginary crimes as a last service to the Revolution. Then they were taken out and shot. The suffering of these men was utterly pointless. It served only the interest of a murderer and they knew it. And yet they sacrificed themselves for it because at the end they had nothing else.

        • dannybhoy

          ” And yet they sacrificed themselves for it because at the end they had nothing else.”
          Which is consistent with a philosphy built on the assumption of a meaningless universe..

          • The Explorer

            Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon’. A terrifying book (if you share the outlook of its main character) because of the pointlessness of it all.

        • CliveM

          Did they have a choice. If you’re going to be murdered, better get it done with as little suffering as possible. Where they going to be given the chance to ‘recant’ and be forgiven?
          In what sense was it a sacrifice?

    • dannybhoy

      So what do you regard as essential to defining a person as a fellow Christian?

      • carl jacobs

        Agreement on the nature of God, the nature of man, and the person and work of Christ.

        • dannybhoy

          Good.
          The definition of a Christian is explained everywhere in the New Testament.

        • Uncle Brian

          Yes.

        • “Agreement on the nature of God, the nature of man, and the person and work of Christ. “

          Not too much then, Carl.

          • Uncle Brian

            Enough. However, the exact nature of the “work” is Christ is a question that has

          • …….. the nature of the sacrifice of Christ also rests on an understanding of the nature of God.

          • carl jacobs

            Those are not little areas, Jack. But in general I agree with your assessment.

          • When one is facing the choice of death or rejecting Christ, do the doctrinal and theological differences between baptised Christians actually matter at all?

            Happy Jack sees that once again Pope Francis is pushing the ‘envelop of Catholic orthodoxy’. As the Catholic Herald asks: Is this ‘Ecumenism of Blood’ consistent with the doctrine of ‘Baptism by Blood’? Is it possible to speak of an absolution by blood, where a baptised Chritsian dies for faith and in witness of Christ and this act absolves grave sin? Even schism and heresy?

            “Their blood confesses Christ. This is not to minimise differences, nor to turn a blind eye to them. However, in dying for Christ do such divisions among Christians retain real relevance? In dying for Christ one has become the perfect disciple, and enters a real communion with Christ’s Body in heaven.”
            (Pope Francis)

          • carl jacobs

            No, Jack. They don’t matter. Not at that moment.

        • Albert

          I wonder what you mean by agreement on the nature of man. Does that require total depravity or just a belief in original sin and the impossibility of salvation without grace?

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            No, I wasn’t referring to Total Depravity. Your second clause is an adequate description even if it does seem suspiciously Catholic.

          • Albert

            🙂

    • Dominic Stockford

      Absolutely so – our discernment of Christian truth cannot be altered because we are sorry for someone’s suffering, however awful that suffering may be. Their suffering does not make their belief true.

  • Linus

    What a load of self-serving, ecstatic nonsense!

    The world does not hate Christians. A certain kind of Muslim may, but they also hate Jews and Atheists and gays and feminists and anyone else who doesn’t share their beliefs.

    Claiming any Christian who dies in the clash between radical Islam and the West as a martyr is political grandstanding of the most cynical kind. How do you know what those victims were thinking when they died? Christianity can be just as much of a social and cultural label as a religious one. Did any of the victims actually have an active faith? You just don’t know. Did they go quietly to their deaths because they placed their faith in Christ, or were they as secular as any Westerner and quite simply drugged up to their eyeballs?

    As well as judging the perpetrators of these terrible crimes, the world is also watching those who claim to offer solutions to see how they react, and judging them in consequence. So far all Christians have done is to instrumentalize these deaths and use them as fodder for their own propaganda purposes. What the world sees is bald-faced demagoguery and self-aggrandizement.

    There was nothing noble about these deaths. They were brutal murders just like any other. The victims probably felt the same terrible mixture of panic, anger and fear as anyone might in similar circumstances. They didn’t go to their deaths clutching theatrical crucifixes as if they were playing the role of Christian saints in an overblown Hollywood epic. To portray them as Ingrid Bergman being burned at the stake and giving her all for her God while making sure the cameras captured her best angle is not just cynical, it’s downright … actually, this is where my English fails me. There is no word I know of in your language that can adequately describe such an attitude. In French we would say “lâche”.

    • Anton

      The word “martyr” is simply the Greek for witness. I agree that if a Christian is gunned down at random in the street it does not make him a martyr. If he is gunned down because he is known to be a Christian, that is a grey area. If he is gunned down after refusing to renounce his faith and convert to Islam, he IS a martyr. I consider it likely that ISIS does give this opportunity to its Christian victims. Can you be certain that they don’t?

      • Linus

        Can you be certain they do?

        • CliveM

          People have died horribly. They have died because they were Christians. Most people would see that as enough to show respect, even if they didn’t agree with what they believed.

          • Linus

            Attempting to highjack their deaths in order to use them as polish for the Church’s halo is not an act of respect.

          • CliveM

            Only you could have read this blog and come to that conclusion.
            What this blog is about is faith, grief, respect and ultimately hope.

        • The Explorer

          What does “consider it likely” mean?

        • Anton

          No, but your criticism was indiscriminate and assumed that they didn’t.

      • The Explorer

        After the Battle of Hattin, the captured Crusaders were given the choice of conversion to Islam or imprisonment. Except for any knight with white a white cross on the shoulder (ie a Templar). They were all killed without option.

      • Dominic Stockford

        They are known to have murdered the children of Christians in the Kurdish areas, having failed to get them to convert. They left the parents alive, to contemplate the fate of their children. Fact.

    • “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”

    • The Explorer

      “The world does not hate Christians.” Have you done a survey, to speak on the World’s behalf?

    • carl jacobs

      I thought better of you, Linus. When I saw the topic of the thread, I actually thought you would have enough sense to not come here and denigrate the deaths of these men with stupid-ass questions like “Were they drugged?”

      Could I have been more wrong?

      • “I thought better of you, Linus.” – mistake one. “I actually thought you would have enough sense” – mistake two.

        Self centred narcissists, wrapped up in satisfying their own pleasure, necessarily judge everyone according to their own standards. His comment reeks of vanity and egotistic admiration for self. He has no faith; he loves himself; how can any rational person possibly have belief to the extent they would die for it.

        This is his worse and most revealing post to date. Up there with his “lâche” about refusing to protect innocent young girls from rape, torture and murder because they might become ‘homophobic’ Christians. Truly, his comment sickened me to the very pit of my stomach.

        • Linus

          This from the man who shrieks and wails whenever anyone directs an ad hominem attack at him!

          For truly gut-wrenching hypocrisy, look no further than your nearest Catholic zealot…

          • Linus, I want no more to do with you.

            “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

          • Linus

            That quote is as good a description of your own motivation for being on this site as anything I can think of.

            And you want no more to do with me? Oh frabjous day! One of the most unsavoury and vicious bigots I’ve ever encountered has just flounced out of the room in a fit of high dudgeon. Let’s hope he decides to sulk for a good long time.

            It won’t last. It never does with people like you. Your need to vomit your prejudice and hatred over everyone who dares to disagree with you always brings you back into the fray.

          • “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.”

          • Linus

            See, he can’t help himself. He’s done with me, but not to the point of shutting up and ignoring me. He still has to respond, even if it’s only with hackneyed quotes full of threadbare morality.

            Don’t worry Sad Jack, you’ll never run out of other people’s words to bitch-slap those you hate with. No need to think of anything original to say.

            Could Sad Jack BE any more derivative? If he isn’t parroting RC dogma at us, he’s plagiarizing his insults and put-downs from other sources. It’s like talking to a downmarket dictionary of quotations full of bourgeois sentiment and bons mots for every situation an old bigot might find himself in. Only it was printed a generation ago and the language is starting to sound a little dated…

      • Linus

        Could you be any more dishonest?

        You know full well I wasn’t denigrating either these men or their manner of dying. My criticisms are reserved for the Church’s cynical highjacking and instrumentalization of their deaths.

        Twisting my words to mean something they do not tells me all I need to know about the immoral, selfish and hateful cynic you reveal yourself to be. You stand condemned by your own statements. If your god really does exist, you’re in trouble at least as deeply as I am. Didn’t your own prophet say that those who cry “Lord! Lord!” while doing the devil’s work are not his children?

        • carl jacobs

          Linus.

          I say what I mean. I don’t make posts for tactical advantage. You wrote:

          Did they go quietly to their deaths because they placed their faith in Christ, or were they as secular as any Westerner and quite simply drugged up to their eyeballs?

          That has nothing to do with “the Church’s cynical highjacking and instrumentalization of their deaths.” ISIS doesn’t drug people, Linus. It wants people to be seen dying with their eyes wide open. The whole point is to counterpose the strength of ISIS with the weakness of its enemies. The only reason to make the comment was to cast doubt of the integrity of the victims.

          I will leave you to accolades of all those who have supported your intervention on this thread. I guess that would be … you.

          • Linus

            You have no idea what IS does. I raised one possibility. You say it can’t be possible … based on what, exactly? Your own biased opinions.

            Bags of hot air are right about everything, aren’t they? In their own fantasy worlds, maybe. And that’s why they’re so often religious nuts.

          • carl jacobs

            The “possibility” you offered was “Maybe they were a bunch of dope heads who were so stoned, they didn’t know they were about to die.” You offered this “possibility” perhaps on the basis of some sheep entrails you happened to examine, or perhaps because a bit of undigested boiled beef had caused a sleepless night, or perhaps it was just animosity. I don’t know, and really I don’t care. I do know that your “possibility” inherently denigrated the men who died, and is disrespectful to their memory. You slandered them. Just to attack an enemy.

            You made the cynical apologetic point. You are the one who on the basis of nothing whatsoever said that they might have been stoned. You leveraged the memory of those men for your own purposes. You self-evidently did exactly what you are accusing others of doing.

          • CliveM

            Carl

            Well summed up. I have come to the conclusion that Linus genuinely doesn’t understand the offence. I think he must be a very damaged individual.

            I’m not sure anything, anyone says can change that.

          • Linus

            There’s another word in French that describes your last comment better than any English word can: fourbe.

            Inventing motivations and ascribing them to me with the evident intention of insulting and attacking me is not only fourbe, it’s also incredibly lâche.

            There’s no point in continuing this exchange, so I’ll end it with the only word that adequately describes my opinion of you and your methods: le mépris.

    • Albert

      I’m guessing the author of this comment knows nothing of the religious matrix that is the Middle East.

    • Demon Teddy Bear

      This is not right. These men died for the name of Christian. They could have lived if they had perverted to Islam. Whatever their errors of life or doctrine, there is no question that they were killed as, and suffered as, Christians.

    • chiefofsinners

      “The world does not hate Christians.”
      The vitriol in your own words proves you wrong.
      “my English fails me.”
      No, your humanity and decency have failed you.

      • Linus

        My words contain not a single drop of vitriol. Just a common, human, decent rebuke of a bald-faced attempt to highjack a sad act of terrorism for religious propaganda purposes.

        • The Explorer

          My words contain not a single drop of vitriol. Excuse me a moment, my pen is melting….

          • Linus

            Those who died at Charlie Hebdo were working on a publication that championed freedom of expression and they died at their desks doing exactly that: expressing themselves freely. The portrayal of their deaths as a form of martyrdom can be justified in that they were fighting their cause when they died, although I tend to agree that many on the secular side are highajcking these events for political purposes and instrumentalizing them as a cudgel to beat religion over the head with.

            First and foremost the deaths at Charlie Hebdo were private tragedies. They certainly highlight the problem that religion poses for our society, but to elevate any of the victims to the status of secular sainthood and to use them as emotive symbols in a propaganda war against religion is just as immoral as the Church’s highjacking of the Libyan terror victims. This is something I will not do. They and the tragic circumstances of their deaths belong to their loved ones, not to me and my political ideals.

            Not all secularists share these scruples, however. There are manipulative, cynical individuals on the secular as well as the religious side of this debate. But given what the Church preaches and so signally fails to practice, it seems to me that greater culpability has to be laid at the Church’s door.

          • Anton

            Whatever belief system is in power in a culture tends to throw its weight around, whether politically correct secularism (don’t tell me that secular stands for freedom of speech given political correctness and communism’s track record), or Islam (which is intrinsically political) or institutional Christianity. But Jesus would scarcely recognise institutional Christianity as the movement he founded, and if you compare the New Testament with the Quran you will see how misleading it is to lump the way of Christ and the way of Muhammad together as “religion”. These are faiths with very different tenets. And secularism is a faith albeit a nontheistic one. It can’t prove its tenets from anything more deep; therefore they are held by faith.

          • Linus

            You seem intellectually incapable of grasping that a true expression of secularism is not a faith. Probably because when you embraced it yourself, you treated it as a religion to be believed in rather than as a set of verifiable propositions to be accepted, rejected or treated as plausible yet unproven theories depending on the available evidence.

            The religious brain seems incapable of moving beyond this inexplicable need for faith in something that cannot be proven. The bible itself talks of the need to have faith “like a child”. It’s right in that only children accept fantastic yet totally unsupported propositions because they happen to like the idea of them. “Daddy is watching over you and he’s big and powerful and will protect you from all harm” is a seductive idea for children. Adults should be less impressed by it.

          • Anton

            And you, Linus, seem intellectually incapable of grasping that everybody believes something that they cannot prove from any beliefs more primitive – for if they could then those more primitive beliefs would be unprovable. The only way out of an infinite regress paradox is to accept that you have a faith, albeit not a theistic one. It is actually a more honest thing to do. Secularists deny they have a faith for two reasons: (1) they wrongly use the word ‘faith’ synonymously with ‘theistic faith’; and (2) they haven’t thought it through.

            This is the third thread on which I have made this point and you have responded only with silence or insults. Is that because you have no argument?

            Probably you are thinking in terms of blind faith and honest doubt. I think in terms of blind doubt and honest faith.

          • Linus

            Again your religiously formatted brain prevents you from understanding the true secular position.

            Secular knowledge is not the same as religious belief. I know there is air to breathe because I observe that I breathe, and if I don’t breathe, I die. I therefore breathe something that keeps me alive. I call that something air. I can do a whole series of experiments that provide me with evidence of the nature of air. I therefore know air exists and what it is. It’s not a belief, it’s verifiable knowledge.

            Anything I can’t verify remains a theory. And theories can be more or less plausible depending on their internal logic. There are some circumstances in which I may act according to the principles of an unverifed theory. In
            the absence of knowledge I’m forced to rely on guesswork and supposition or not act at all. That’s what humans rationalise as belief: a theory that fills the gap between knowledge and action.

            The religious brain confuses knowledge with belief and seems incapable of understanding the true nature of both, and where one leaves off and the other begins.

          • Anton

            Not so, Linus. You say you can do experiments to verify those things – which tells me that you haven’t done them; therefore you are relying on the authority of books for truth. Just like the religious! I’m a physicist, remember?

            You can’t build anything on doubt. When scientists are in doubt and therefore do painstaking experiments, it is because they have a deeper trust in the scientific method.

            This discussion might become more constructive if we were to seek to identify the axioms (I’ll spare you the word ‘faith’) of secular humanism. There is a lot more to it than atheism, which is a negative (ie, there is no god – meaning no powerful spirit being that interacts with humans) and therefore unbuildable upon. One facet of secular humanism is optimism about the nature of man. Do you share that view?

          • DanJ0

            “There is a lot more to it than atheism, which is a negative (ie, there is no god – meaning no powerful spirit being that interacts with humans) and therefore unbuildable upon.”

            ll, there are several versions, one of which follows the meaning of the word: without a belief in a theistic god. That’s me. I find no compelling evidence for such a belief but I don’t have a belief, comparable to religious faith, that there is no god.

          • dannybhoy

            DanJ0
            I found this little article for you…

            http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/02/what_the_assist093991.html

          • Linus

            Any experiment that appears in a peer-reviewed book of science can be verified independently. Ever tried to verify a bible story?

            Trust in the scientific method comes from the repeated and reliable results it produces.

            And human nature is what it is. We’re social animals with individual personalities that can both cooperate and clash. I have no illusions that secular humanism will bring us paradise on earth, although I do think we can improve things. Enough to let a stable society function reasonably smoothly.

            We currently live in a world where the major source of violence and instability is religion. That’s our real problem. We’ll slowly educate it ourselves out of it, but in the meantime a lot of people will suffer because of the obsessive delusions of a few fanatics.

            It’s a bit of shame, don’t you think?

          • Anton

            Religion behind most wars, Linus? No, to repeat what I’ve written on this thread, tribalism/racism, plunder, and the desire to exert and extend political control are behind most wars, and religion is sometimes co-opted when the sides have different faiths. Let’s look at the most important wars England has been involved in.

            In the 20th century it was involved in the two biggest wars ever, neither of which was fought for a religious reason. Early in the 19th century we fought against Napoleon, who
            wanted to rule all Europe as an emperor. We didn’t want him to. That’s not a religious war. In the 18th century we lost the American War of Independence. Obviously that wasn’t a religious war. In the 17th century the English Civil War was fought between parliament and the crown to decide where ultimate power lay – that’s not primarily a religious war. In the 15th century the wars of the Roses were fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England: not a religious war. In the 14-15th century the 100 Years War was fought between England and France. They had exactly the same religion (Roman Catholicism), so it wasn’t a religious war. In the 11th century William the Conqueror invaded and seized the English throne because he believed it was rightfully his and he had been denied it; this was not a religious war. In the 9-10th century the Anglo-Saxons fought the Danish invaders. They did this because the Vikings, who were the fathers of those Danes, had found rich pickings and weak defences in their raids on the east coast a generation
            earlier. So, although the Danes were pagans at the time and the Anglo-Saxons weren’t, the conflict was about land and wealth. In the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They invaded everywhere that they could, and their own
            accounts of their campaigns do not centre on religion.

            So why do people claim that religion is the cause of most wars? Probably because of wars fought between Catholic and protestant in Europe in the 16th and 17th century, after which atheism started to become popular. The claim is essentially 18/19th century atheist propaganda, and the evidence of history suggests it is not true.

            As for the Catholic-protestant wars, they happened because the Catholic church was not prepared to let the protestants go without a fight, in spite of what Jesus had said. Protestants also behaved badly in those wars and you can see the resulting tensions in Northern Ireland today, but there are men who formerly shot at each other in Northern Ireland and are now good friends because they changed from saying “I’m a Catholic/protestant because my family was” and now say “I met Jesus and today I follow him.”

          • chiefofsinners

            Who gets to decide what constitutes proof?

          • The Explorer

            Hello Linus,
            In my view radical Islam has it in for Christians, Jews, secular humanists, gays, free-speech advocates, Buddhist cliff carvings, the Pyramids, dogs, western women, the way Swedish girls dress, British slag culture (they’ve got an ally there), and western shoppers. Hope I haven’t missed anything out.
            The article was mourning Christian victims: not hailing them as the only victims.

    • William Lewis

      This comment is contemptible hate mongering supported by unsubstantiated accusations over the manner and consequences of the religious murders of men, women and children. It is a credit to the soulless credo of its author.

      • The Explorer

        I quibble about one word. I think ‘unsupported’ is more accurate.

        • William Lewis

          Agreed and modified to show the change.

  • Uncle Brian

    Earlier today, on another website, I read that the ISIS regime now in power in Benghazi has proclaimed its intention to destabilise the countries of Europe by flooding them with half a million refugees. But when I went back to look for it I couldn’t find it. I don’t remember which website it was. Anybody?

    • The Explorer

      Didn’t you have a question about half a million refugees? Did it vanish, or did you edit it out?
      I have mixed feelings about the ‘edit’ function. It’s great for typos, but it has a ‘1984’ feel in that the past (one’s previous words) can be rewritten. And what if someone has already responded to what one had previously said?
      At least one is editing one’s own comment. Suppose anyone had editing access to it? One thinks of the ‘confession’ of Cardinal Mindszenty. Or ‘The Running Man’. “I’m damned if I’ll attack that village.” Edit out the first three words, and you have complete culpability.

      • Uncle Brian

        I plead guilty. I’d made a mistake and it was only a minute or two, there was no intention to deceive!

        • The Explorer

          No criticism of of you intended! Just musings, really, about the new system.
          I also find the sub threads disconcerting: the way a comment and a reply can get separated from one another by other comments and other replies.

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, I agree, you find yourself having to read — or skim through, at least — the same comments over and over again. I’ve been having a different problem with Disqus. I changed my email address a few weeks ago and Disqus has stopped sending me those notifications that I used to get at my old address.

  • The Explorer

    Since Linus is either busy or declining to reply, and since I have to go off blog for a while, I should like to share my own childhood confusion about ‘the World’.
    I was told that God had made the World, and it was good. But at a christening the godparents had to renounce the World. Why when God had made it? And when at a wedding you promised to share your worldly goods, which sounded like a positive thing to do. ‘1 John’ told us not to love the World. God, however, could. ‘John’ 3:16. said that God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son that the world should not perish.

  • len

    What is meant by’ the World’?. Why are Christians hated by ‘the world?’.
    ‘We know that we are children of God, and that’ the whole world’ is under the control of the evil one(1John 5;19)
    ‘The World’ in Biblical terms applies to all who are under the power of the evil one and this certainly includes Islamic decapitators.
    Christians are translated out of this world system being in it but not part of it which is the reason they are hated by the evil one who does all he can to prevent them spreading the Word of God.

    • Anton

      The Greek is KOSMOS and it has two meanings in scripture, one positive, one negative. Context is necessary to judge which is meant. The former can be found in John 3:16, “God so loved the KOSMOS that he sent his only begotten son, that all who believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. The latter can be found in “Do not love the KOSMOS or anything in it…” (1 John 2:15-17).

  • CliveM

    I found this a very moving and humbling post. Sometimes we are too eager to claim persecution in this country. Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, living under IS understand both persecution and also martyrdom. Until we start facing the same stark choices, perhaps we should be more careful in our complaints. God will hear.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    we await the judgment of this world because it hates us because it hates Him. He suffered, and so must we

    Say what you like about Jews and Muslims but at least they stand up for themselves. If their interests are not being met, they get stuck in and don’t give up until they’ve got what they want. Not for them the option of sitting and waiting.

    Pre-1945, Christians in Britain had it easy: apart from smatterings of Judaism, theirs was the only religion in town. Now, thanks to the diversity the Churches tell us it is racist and sinful to oppose, Christianity has hatred living right next door. I hope Christians will reject the gospel of defeatism before it’s too late:

    Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight,
    But Roaring Bill (who killed him) thought it right.
    —Hilaire Belloc

    • The Explorer

      In 1941, George Orwell pointed out to a pacifist that the pacifist was eating the food that British sailors had risked their lives to bring him. If they’d taken his attitude, he’d have starved. (Or been under the control of a regime that forbade pacifism.)

      But my point is that the pacifist in question was an atheist. And secular humanism must carry much of the can for European defeatism in the face of Islam. The liberal wing of the C of E has done its bit as well, but Christianity isn’t what influences current western opinion.

  • A moving post Archbishop. Take heart from these great words of Tertullian:
    “Crucify us, torture us, condemn us, destroy us ! Your wickedness is the proof of our innocence, for which reason does God suffer us to suffer this. When recently you condemned a Christian maiden to a panderer rather than to a panther, you realized and confessed openly that with us a stain on our purity is regarded as more dreadful than any punishment and worse than death. Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, accomplish anything: rather, it is an enticement to our religion. The more we are hewn down by you, the more numerous do we become. The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians !”

    • Anton

      The last sentence is a famous paraphrase, I believe (also rendered “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church”), for Tertullian actually wrote Semen est sanguis Christianorum ie the blood of Christians is seed.

  • Dominic Stockford

    The Bible, God’s inerrant word for us.

    Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

    1 Peter 5

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    The fathers, however, did not consider that martyrdom was so much more important than right teaching, dismissing the Marcionites despite their martyrs. Christians unite around Christ’s teaching. If the teaching is nothing, then Christianity is merely a tribe.

    • Shadrach Fire

      A lot depends on what teaching they unite around. If it is the social bits, then their belief is in doing good. If they unite around the eternal life teaching then they have to also unite around the shed blood at Calvary

  • Inspector General

    Magnificent stuff today, Cranmer. Bravo Sir!

    One does dislike the mechanics of faith that bring forth division. We do however have the gift of coming together when needed to battle through together. (Rather like those of a conservative nature in the UK at election time. Well, up to but not including this election, that is. Mismanagement by one of the most lightweight leaders the Conservatives have ever seen having allowed UKIP to move into the rich grasslands of common sense)

    But we should not rejoice in being part of Christ’s suffering, now should we? That was never meant for us, merely inflicted against us at the worst of times. Nay, sir, we are first and foremost Christian Soldiers. We shall prevail against our religious enemy in the end, as we must, for as he extinguishes our brothers in the Middle East with gusto, he himself will die a death from the air.

    So let the suffering continue, their suffering of course, until every last one of them is dead or has laid his weapon down in ignominious defeat. Jesus would want it that way, one is sure. He knows more than any of us that his enemies deserve to suffer and die. But not to rise up afterwards in spirit – that was never meant for them.

  • Anton

    Austria bans foreign funding for mosques and imams:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31629543

    Won’t be easy to prove but a wise measure.

    • “But Muslim groups say the ban on foreign funding is unfair as international
      support is still permitted for the Christian and Jewish faiths.

      They say the legalisation reflects a widespread mistrust of Muslims and some are planning to contest it in the constitutional court.”

      European Court of Human Rights, here they come.

      • CliveM

        And they will probably win.

        • Anton

          Yes but what if Austria simply ignores their ruling? Nothing they can do is there? This is why “international law” is complete bullshit. Certain other EU nations regularly just make a note that they are in breach and continue, I believe…

          • CliveM

            The European Court of Human Rights does have sanctions and membership of the court can be suspended (leading to suspension within EU). These sanctions are rarely utilised. It depends how Austrian Courts regard HR rulings I suspect.

          • Anton

            I’ve often thought that it would be better for UKIP not to withdraw Britain from the EU but simply not comply and let them kick us out… get better terms that way I think.

          • CliveM

            If we broke EU rules, again we could face suspension, which I believe ( correct me if I am wrong someone) we would lose access to EU markets etc. without any benefit in terms. There would be no negotiation.

          • Anton

            I didn’t know that those were the rules – thank you – but it wouldn’t work out like that in practice. Plenty of businesses in Europe need our export goods and would not welcome the disruption. Realpolitik and all that.

      • Inspector General

        Somebody mention ‘European Court of human Rights’…

        A UKIP discussion favourite, one is sure!

      • Christian and Jewish faiths don’t advocate or carry out acts of violence in the name of their religions. Until the followers of Allah and that mad prophet Muhammad renounce all violence and become as peaceful as Christianity funding should be prohibited.

        • Agreed and any challenge to the law will be interesting. One for the Inspector to promote within Ukip for Britain.

        • sarky

          Peaceful as christianity? Read an article recently about the Christian fighters fighting with the kurds. It’s all right for you to bleet on about peace and turning the other cheek from the safety that this country affords you. When facing annihilation I’m sure there would be plenty of christians willing to take up arms (as they did in the world wars)

          • Anton

            So far as I am concerned, Sarky, Christians are entitled to take up arms for worldly causes they consider acceptable, such as defence of their community; but not to attempt to further the Christian faith by any form of coercion – which obviously includes physical fighting.

          • sarky

            History wouldn’t agree with you on that.

          • The Explorer

            Try William T. Cavanaugh’s version: ‘The Myth of Religious Violence’.

          • sarky
          • The Explorer

            I’ll grant you that. Cavanaugh’s point is about the scale.

          • sarky

            I just find it hypocrital that christians come out against IS, when IS are just treading a path already carved by christianity. Christians look back and blame war on power and politics (see antons post) but when IS do the same it’s all about Islam. Burnings, violence against women/children, violence against other faiths, forced conversions all this can be found in christian history.
            Please do not think for one minute I condone the actions of IS, I find them abhorrent. But, with regards to christians, sometimes people in glass houses……

          • Anton

            That’s because Islam is intrinsically political whereas gospel Christianity isn’t. There has been too much political Christianity and not enough gospel Christianity. Don’t take my word for it – read the Quran and New Testament for yourself!

          • The Explorer

            I don’t disagree. Again, it’s a question of scale. If one compares the original Christianisation of the Middle East with the methods used for its Islamisation , there is a significant difference.

          • sarky

            The scale is irrelevant isnt it? An evil act in the name of god is still an evil act no matter how many die.

          • The Explorer

            I’m unsure. Is it as bad to murder one person as it is to murder fourteen?
            Christianity says that violence is wrong, but also that people are fallen. People, being fallen, will commit violence in the name of religion, but they are wrong to do so. (Self-defence is different.)
            Islam. on the other hand, says that violence in the name of your religion is the only certain guarantee of Paradise.

          • Anton

            Religion behind most wars? Tribalism/racism, plunder,
            and the desire to exert and extend political control are behind most wars, and religion is sometimes co-opted when the sides have different faiths. Let’s look at the most important wars that England has been involved in.

            In the 20th century it was involved in the two biggest wars ever, neither of which was fought for a religious reason. Early in the 19th century we fought against Napoleon, who
            wanted to rule all Europe as an emperor. We didn’t want him to. That’s not a religious war. In the 18th century we lost the American War of Independence. Obviously that wasn’t a religious war. In the 17th century the English Civil War was fought between parliament and the crown to decide where ultimate power lay – that’s not primarily a religious war. In the 15th century the wars of the Roses were fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England: not a religious war. In the 14-15th century the 100 Years War was fought between England and France. They had exactly the same religion (Roman Catholicism), so it wasn’t a religious war. In the 11th century William the Conqueror invaded and seized the English throne because he believed it was rightfully his and he had been denied it; this was not a religious war. In the 9-10th century the Anglo-Saxons fought the Danish invaders. They did this because the Vikings, who were the fathers of those Danes, had found rich pickings and weak defences in their raids on the east coast a generation
            earlier. So, although the Danes were pagans at the time and the Anglo-Saxons weren’t, the conflict was about land and wealth. In the first century the Romans invaded Britain. They invaded everywhere that they could, and their own
            accounts of their campaigns do not centre on religion.

            So why do people claim that religion is the cause of most wars? Probably because of wars fought between Catholic and protestant in Europe in the 16th and 17th century, after which atheism started to become popular. The claim is essentially 18/19th century atheist propaganda, and the evidence of history suggests it is not true.

            As for the Catholic-protestant wars, they happened because the Catholic church was not prepared to let the protestants go without a fight, in spite of what Jesus had said. Protestants also behaved badly in those wars and you can see the resulting tensions in Northern Ireland today, but there are men who formerly shot at each other in Northern Ireland and are now good friends because they changed from saying “I’m a Catholic/protestant because my family was” and now say “I met Jesus and today I follow him.”

          • Anton

            Where people calling themselves Christian have fought in furtherance of the Christian faith rather than in defence of their families and communities it is against the word of Christ, not along with it.

            I also just used the phrase “people calling themselves Christian”. You will be aware from the time you spend on this blog that there are many nominal Christians plaguing the church today. These are the “church liberals”, and their departing point and heresy is doubt of the scriptures and of the supernatural. But in the mediaeval era the church was riddled with nominal Christians too; they simply had a different departing point, namely that violence in the name of Christ was OK.

          • The Explorer

            The one who said “turn the other cheek” also said he came to bring not peace but a sword, drove the money changers from the Temple, and is depicted in ‘Revelation’ leading the armies of Heaven, and with a sword issuing from his mouth.
            Either Christ was inconsistent (the easy answer), or symbolic language is not as straightforward as it may seem.

          • sarky

            Its all about interpretation isn’t it?

          • The Explorer

            What isn’t?

          • I was pointing out that Christians would not be fighting with Kurds if it weren’t for all this Muslim aggression against them. Turn the other cheek can only go so far.

      • Merchantman

        And the Koran will be seen for what it is; and the so called prophet likewise; and the whole edifice.

      • Anton

        Perhaps Austria would argue (with some justification) that Islam is a political movement first and foremost.

    • William Lewis

      Gates of Vienna ?

    • Uncle Brian

      More from the BBC: Three Al-Jazeera journalists arrested for flying an unlicensed drone in Paris.

      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31632253

      If the BBC go on like this, they’ll get into trouble for islamophobia.

  • Whenever I hear the word ecumenism these days, I tend to reach for my shotgun.
    To be sure I believe in freedom of religion and when I give to Barnabus Fund or Open Doors I am happy if they help Coptics, Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses or even Yazidis. All these people are being cruelly oppressed and should be helped if they are in need.
    But there is only one Gospel, and it is the Gospel of Christ Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, the Scriptures Alone, to the Glory of God Alone. If someone has died for anything else, then he has died for a lie.

    • So only fully signed-up Protestants can be Christian martyrs – regardless?

    • len

      Christ knows those who belong to Him, having the right theology helps one find Christ but is no assurance of being saved.
      I firmly believe that when Christ gathers those who belong to Him it will be from all denominations and some from no denomination at all like myself(hopefully)

      • Actually, Len, Happy Jack agrees with you – up to a point – and much more so if people are murdered for love of Christ, even if they do not fully understand the mystery. Jack is still mulling this over.

        • CliveM

          Who can ever truly and fully understand. God is infinite, my understanding if very finite.

        • Terry Mushroom

          HJ

          Am curious. At what point do you disagree with Len?

          • Terry, Happy Jack accepts the sentiment behind the comment made by Len and would even extend it as applicable to members of other faiths and even to those of no faith. However, Jack wouldn’t wish to be seen to be promoting indifferentism and so he would go no further than the teaching of Vatican II in its much contested and controversial document: ‘Lumen Gentium’. And Jack would interpret this document cautiously too.
            These word’s of Pope Francis, prior to commenting on the ‘Ecumenicalism of Blood’, left Jack wondering:

            “So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic approaches, and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father’s love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit. Christian unity – we are convinced – will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. When the Son of Man comes, he will find us still discussing! We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities, overcomes conflicts, reconciles differences.”
            What is he actually saying?

      • Len,

        In my post I made no mention of denominations. I am not the least bit interested in them and like yourself (I presume) belong to a non-denominational church.

        However, to say, as the article appears to do, that doctrine and truth do not matter at the point of martyrdom seems to me to be, at the very least, unproven. The New Testament speaks of ‘a different Gospel’ (Galatians 1:5-9), ‘False Christs’ (Matthew 24:24), ‘Another Jesus…….a different spirit………a different gospel’ (2 Corinthians 11:4), ‘False apostles’ (2 Cor. 11:13) . To give one’s life for a lie and a deception would be a dreadful thing.
        .
        What we need is wisdom to discern the truth, and God promises to give it to us if we ask Him for it (Proverbs 2:1-9; James 1:5).

    • Uncle Brian

      “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

  • Happy Jack sees that once again Pope Francis is pushing the ‘envelop of Catholic orthodoxy’. As the Catholic Herald asks: Is this ‘Ecumenism of Blood’ consistent with the doctrine of ‘Baptism by Blood’? Is it possible to speak of an absolution by blood, where a baptised Chritsian dies for faith and in witness of Christ and this act absolves grave sin? Even schism and heresy?

    “Their blood confesses Christ. This is not to minimise differences, nor to turn a blind eye to them. However, in dying for Christ do such divisions among Christians retain real relevance? In dying for Christ one has become the perfect disciple, and enters a real communion with Christ’s Body in heaven.”
    (Pope Francis)

  • len

    The execution of Christians at the hands of IS forces one to confront several factors in determining what is a Christian and what is the Christian response to barbaric acts as committed by groups such as IS.
    It should perhaps be remembered that the apostle Paul was formerly a persecutor of Christians until he became converted. Only God can turn an executioner into a follower of Christ.
    The distinguishing mark of a Christian is Love, love for God and love for his fellow man.
    The’ God type’ of love is best shown as Christ forgiving those who were torturing and then executing Him…
    It is Love such as this which is almost impossible for us to understand and only possible if this Love come from God through us…to others.

    The natural action is to strike back and I for one struggle with the desire to do exactly that .
    I often wondered why God didn`t immediately take Christians to heaven once they were saved to remove them from suffering and the temptation to sin and I can only conclude it is so that we can become a witness to others.

  • IanCad

    Have any others had difficulty accessing this blog?
    Couldn’t get on yesterday and anyway, what is there to say?
    We are blessed to live in the UK.
    Religious and civil liberties, although under constant attack, are assured. In the Islamic world our fellow believers, and those of no faith, need our help .
    Prayers, money, guns —.

    • CliveM

      Yes I had serious problems last night. Gave up.

      • Uncle Brian

        Me too, but on and off. There were moments, too, when I could through to the home page but then I couldn’t open any of the posts.

        • CliveM

          About 10 ish it seemed to clear. To latte for me!

          • Apologies to all for the interruption. His Grace has been migrating to a new server in order to liberate his cyber-ministry from the purgatory that is GoDaddy. Demons infiltrated but have now been exorcised.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thanks for the explanation, Your Grace. At least we know now what it was: you weren’t being cyber attacked by the Inspector’s enemies over at Pink News, nor even by British Muslims aspiring to silence the voice of Cranmer’s Church.

          • sarky

            To latte? Sure you didn’t mean cappuccino?

          • CliveM

            The joys of predictive texting!!

  • preacher

    Why does it take murder & martyrdom to unite Christians? Organised religion has been responsible for slaughter on a grand scale for aeons.
    Islam kills Christians, Protestants kill Catholics & Catholics kill Protestants, Sunni kills Shia, in the so called Crusades, every one was at risk regardless of belief.
    Hindus & Buddhists are also involved in dealing death on a grand scale.
    It seems there is a common denominator at work here & the initiator is the common enemy of mankind, namely the Devil.
    The only unity possible, is through the purity of the gospel, without man’s meddling. We must first confess that division is caused by selfish ambition rooted in man’s sinful nature, which must be repented of & jettisoned, freeing us to a fresh understanding, & a new start, as Jesus put it to a leading religious expert “You must be born again”.

    We have a duty to preach the gospel, but that does not allow us to force men to believe. God gives freewill & we must not attempt to change men by threat or force.We lead men to salvation by our example, not by fear.
    History proves that this is the Lord’s way & He will work with us if we have the love & desire to see men saved. But the decision Always rests with the individual.

    • len

      Each person in a religion believes that their religion has ‘ the truth’. Indeed to die for ones religion one must of necessity believe that it is true.
      I believed that once the Truth of the Gospel was grasped by people then they would become converted because the Truth cannot be denied.(Or so I thought!.)
      ‘Truth’ means many things to many people but I believe ultimately there is only One Truth revealed to the World and this has been revealed by God in Christ.And this Truth cannot be intellectually discerned only perceived by direct revelation from God….

      Religions think that if they can overcome their opponents by violence then this makes their religion’ right’ but this act alone identifies their religion has its origins in man.
      Only God could create a ‘religion’ where one has to die in order to live, where the Wisdom of God is revealed in a Crucified saviour.

    • ‘Why does it take murder & martyrdom to unite Christians? Organised religion has been responsible for slaughter on a grand scale for aeons.
      Islam kills Christians, Protestants kill Catholics & Catholics kill Protestants, Sunni kills Shia, in the so called Crusades, every one was at risk regardless of belief.
      Hindus & Buddhists are also involved in dealing death on a grand scale.
      It seems there is a common denominator at work here & the initiator is the common enemy of mankind, namely the Devil.

      ‘Our fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves.’ I can’t help feeling that Satan can well afford to be living in semi-retirement these days. All he needs to do from time to time is to drop in on certain Christian leaders, put his arm round them, and whisper, “Keep it up! You’re doing a great job!”

      ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?’
      (Jeremiah 17:9).