St Stephen funeral 2
Christian Persecution

On the Feast of Stephen

The funeral of St Stephen, by Filippo Lippi (1460).

St Stephen – ‘a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost‘ (Acts 6:5) – was chosen to be a deacon in the Early Church. ‘And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people‘ (v8). Here is his apology before the Sanhedrin:

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh.
Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph.
The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.
In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months:
And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,
Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.
Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;
Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
But Solomon built him an house.
Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Hath not my hand made all these things?
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 6:9-7:60).

Stephen was stoned to death in Jerusalem in AD36 – the first Christian martyr. He died defending the true doctrine of salvation from the indignant ‘certain of the synagogue’, who believed in their superior scholarship and learning that they held they keys to heaven and that Jesus was not the Messiah. When they couldn’t respond to Stephen’s reasoned argument, they became angry, as the theologically self-righteous so often do, and fabricated all manner of allegations against him – criminal, perjurer, blasphemer – exactly as many Christians endure today, for no other reason than that they profess Christ and him crucified. And for the defence of the gospel, Stephen was taken out of the city and stoned to death. His accusers murdered him, which they believed to be lawful execution for the greater glory of God.  Today is his feast day.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded us in his Christmas sermon, Christians in the Middle East are confronted by the “tyranny and cruelty of a Herod”, as they are crucified, beheaded, raped, sold into slavery or driven into exile:

Today, across the Middle East, close to the area in which the angels announced God’s apocalypse, ISIS and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression. Confident that these are the last days, using force and indescribable cruelty, they seem to welcome all opposition, certain that the warfare unleashed confirms that these are indeed the end times. They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began. This apocalypse is defined by themselves and heralded only by the angel of death.

People of faith are being persecuted by people of another faith: Christians, Yazidis and Muslims who happen to belong to the wrong sect are being murdered by those fanatical dogmatists who have lost the theological argument and believe they have a divine mission to usher in the Last Days; the Apocalypse.

In her Christmas Day message to the country and Commonwealth, the Queen spoke of these “moments of darkness”, and reminded us that “the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.'” As we remember the holiness and grace of St Stephen and his faith in the living God, let us pray today for all of those who are suffering intolerably and dying for their faith in Christ. There is providence in persecution. May they find peace and hope in their immanent apocalypse, for the evil that confronts them will never extinguish the light of Christ.

  • preacher

    The murder of Stephen & indeed the other disciples failed to accomplish the purpose that evil men desired – As in Rome at a later time, the Church grew, as it does even now where true believers suffer for their faith. The devil will use religion to suppress truth as often as he can. But radical Love will always defeat radical hate, regardless of the source of that hate.
    We must be prepared to follow the Lord & His disciples in speaking the truth to all mankind. There is no other way.

    • Bob

      Christianity was just another cult until Constantine the Great recognised its potential for subjugating the mob.

      “Radical love” didn’t establish your faith. A wiley politician did.

      • Anton

        As I’ve said to you on an earlier thread, Constantine politicised Christianity, and political Christianity is inauthentic Christianity because politics is about law which is about obey-or-else, whereas the gospel is about remaking people. Our faith was established by (and on) Jesus of Nazareth, crucified died and resurrected; and you can read about the church being faithful to him in the Acts of the Apostles and then another 250 years of church history long before Constantine.

        • David

          I agree with you. Many of the problems of the Church started after Constantine gave an official green light to Christianity.

        • Bob

          I can read about a handful of zealots being faithful to their imaginary deity, one of many competing deities in a patchwork empire, before their religion was imposed on the whole population because a powerful leader decided it suited his purposes.

          What does that teach me except a lesson in political science? Religion is a useful tool in the hands of powerful men, who promote it and even enforce observance of it in order to exert control.

          • Anton

            That is the view that the men who got Jesus crucified took. Much good it did them.

          • Bob

            You know what happened to the men who crucified Christ? You’ve seen them in hell, have you? How did you manage that?

            Don’t tell me you’re the Second Coming! Oddly enough, I find that rather hard to believe…

          • Anton

            Putting words in my mouth again?

      • preacher

        Hi Bob, & welcome. I don’t know why you guys bother to submit your points of view here, because to those of us who are Christians, many of us originally from atheistic roots find nothing new in your words.
        The problem you fellows have is that you are like blind men trying to describe a beautiful, sunset landscape to a group of people who were blind but now can see.
        You try to tell us things we already know & have investigated as if we have been living in a cave.
        However it’s an open forum, which wouldn’t be here if the originator wasn’t a Christian, so please feel welcome to continue posting, but most of us have grown beyond the primary or junior school stages which seem to form most your opinions so we often don’t answer, but we will try to bring some light into your world of darkness in the hope of improving your enjoyment of life, we persevere boldly & hope that 2016 will be a wonderful turning point for you that will mark your emergence from your life in darkness to a life of light.

        Blessings for the new year. P.

  • David

    There are no bounds to human vanity and the ambitions of those who arrogantly set themselves up, in opposition to God’s revealed truth, to impose their human-centric views on all the world. In our western cultures many of those who deny the existence of God, which is an obstacle to their worship of themselves and their own delusions of cleverness, would squeeze Christianity out of the public square.
    Yet all around us the west which was founded on Christianity, yet greatly influenced by the Enlightenment, is seen to stumble, becoming ever more confused as it retreats from both the revealed Truth of the Christian Bible, upon which are based our ancient creeds, whilst strangely, it also rejects rational thought and evidence based reasoning.
    For it is only by recognising its errors, repenting of its sins and in seeking forgiveness, turning back to the God of Jesus, The Creeds and The Gospels that it can rebuild itself and continue as a truly western society. At its centre must be the Christian faith providing a spiritual foundation, with laws and practices flowing from that; additionally society must once again become unafraid of using the methods of Science and The Enlightenment to address our practical problems. For our great God did create an orderly world, which the tools of science can unlock for us to utilise the treasures contained within. Yet without the underlying spiritual foundation of Christianity, and the freedom of inquiry that it gifts to us, our intellectual endeavours of all sorts will falter and the west will continue into its slide into an even deeper moral, economic, political, intellectual and spiritual decline and eventually, servitude.
    Let us hope that in this forthcoming new year, clear thinking, courageous men and women of faith will speak our fearlessly in defence of The Gospel and the light that shines in the darkness.

    • alternative_perspective

      What can we say, they won’t know what they had until its gone. This principle operates on so many levels.

  • ISIS and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas—Welby

    No, the terrible ideas put into practice by ISIS are taken directly from the Qur’an and other texts.

    because of them [ISIS] the Christians face elimination—Welby

    No, Christians in the Middle East face elimination because the Christian West, acting in the name of freedom, democracy and peace, removed Saddam Hussein from power. Next on the Christian West’s hit list is that other protector of Christians, Bashar al-Assad.

    Is Welby ignorant or deceitful?

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Regarding the Iraq War subsequent interventions in the Middle East:

      The infantile understanding of our leaders brings this to mind:

      Isaiah 3:4 — And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. וְנָתַתִּי נְעָרִים, שָׂרֵיהֶם; וְתַעֲלוּלִים, יִמְשְׁלוּ-בָם.
       

      • Bob

        This must be why Daily Mail readers drool over the Cambridge whelps and fall down in awed and trembling worship before their graven images.

        I’ve seen devotees go into a trance-like state involving much cooing and oohing and aahing before shop windows on KHS, where copies of the ritual vestments these young demigods are bedecked in are sold to the common and vulgar masses.

        I wonder if Ms Middleclass isn’t plotting to overthrow her in-laws and rule as the power behind the throne, with her dreaded mother Doors-To-Manual as Secretary of State for Social Climbing, and her grinning sister Toodle-Pip as Minister of Banal Superficiality and Pointlessness.

        If that’s what’s she’s planning, she’d better strike while the iron’s hot. Those children have Windsor genes, so the boy will be bald by the time he’s four, and the girl has probably already started her slow transformation from human to equine form. She should act while they still look cute and cuddly. Her window of opportunity is a very narrow one.

        • William Lewis

          Such malice Bob. Bad Christmas?

          • Pubcrawler

            Channelling Polly Toynbee. Unless he actually is Polly Toynbee…

          • CliveM

            He’s as boring and repetitive. So maybe a good call. He’s being going on about the Windsors and Middletons since the earliest days of his French incarnation.

            Considering how often Linus has died and been resurrected you’d think he would show more theological understanding.

          • Pubcrawler

            “show more theological understanding”

            Even a little self-awareness would be an improvement.

          • Uncle Brian

            I’m beginning to think that Bob, whether in his Sponge or Sideshow incarnation, isn’t Linus after all. Linus wasn’t quite so clunky and unfunny as this one, was he? Also, I don’t think Linus would have misspelled “wily” (in a comment further down this thread).

          • CliveM

            UB

            I’m pretty convinced its Linus, the misogeny, the obsessions, the long rants. Indeed if you read his comments regards Magnolia, I think he pretty much admits (indirectly) that he has a longer running feud with her then his time and interaction as Bob would allow for.

            I maybe wrong, however I have to be convinced.

          • Pubcrawler

            Hard to believe there are two such cast from the same mold. One could almost create a game of Linus Bingo, so predictable is he.

          • CliveM

            Look at his comments on the Queen Mother! More Linus you cannot get. If it looks like a Linus, sounds like a Linus, smells like a Linus , it is a Linus.

          • Pubcrawler

            Getting ever more shrill today. That next phase in the life-cycle surely can’t be far off now.

          • CliveM

            You mean the tantrums, the threats never to darken our door again, the flouncing off, the slam, then the all to temporary echoing silence?

          • magnolia

            Feuds require two active participants, and I mostly ignore him as he rarely makes a rational point. I just object occasionally when he is really nasty about someone. He specializes in anti-British, anti-female, anti-mother, anti-Christian, anti baby and small children, anti traditional family, and anti-Royal family rants. laced with personal invective and visual insult. The Queen’s speech fulfils many of his favoured spleen-venting criteria it seems!

            In days gone by he would be left to fulminate for a long time in the Tower of London!

          • CliveM

            Apologies the word feud is retracted!!

          • magnolia

            Thanks and Happy Christmas-tide. I am sometimes quite sorry for Linus caught in his hamster wheel of oft- repeated assertion desperate because he can never allow any response to permeate, and bound up with so much hatred… Must be a sad life…

          • CliveM

            Indeed.

            And a Merry Christmas tide to you as well.

          • chiefofsinners

            If he misspells “willy”, that’s when we’ll know it isn’t Linus.

          • Pubcrawler

            😀

          • William Lewis

            Not even Polly Toynbee seems that bitter.

          • Bob

            The Yuletide season has been most enjoyable, thank you. Winter solstice celebrations almost always are. What’s not to like?

            Good food, enjoyable company, and lots of florid and highly entertaining speeches by eccentric and deluded religious leaders waffling on about concepts they neither understand nor believe in.

            Like the Merry Wife of Windsor, for example. On she goes about forgiveness and reconciliation after freezing out two daughters-in-law and an American aunt who, even on her gravestone, wasn’t deemed worthy of bearing her husband’s full title.

            Such exemplary Christian behaviour! Punishing thise wicked women’s sins as Jesus told her to do.

          • William Lewis

            You are obviously a keen follower of the British monarchy but didn’t her American aunt’s husband relinquish his full title?

            Anyway, what do you know about who the Queen has or has not forgiven? There seems to me to be a lot of hot air being emitted from about your person. Too many sprouts perhaps?

          • Bob

            The duke of Windsor was a royal highness. But due to an act of petty vengeance of the part of the present queen’s father (egged on, some say, by his overweight and mahogany-toothed wife), the duchess of Windsor was not.

            This is the only known example in British royal history of a wife being denied the full use of her husband’s rank and titles. Even Camilla Parker-Bowles is legally princess of Wales, although she chooses not to use the title, for obvious enough reasons. But she’s just as much of a royal highness as her husband.

            The House of Windsor should practice what it preaches if wants to be taken seriously. All I heard during the Queen’s latest Christmas broadcast was a smug and self-satisfied old woman telling us to do as she says, not as she does, or at least has done, unrepentantly.

            She could have said it much more succinctly like this: “I say, do be naihce to one another because reconciliation is SO important, unless you’re a king-stealing American floozy, or one of one’s dreadfully vulgar daughters in law, in which case you can bugger awf to Coventry and bally well stay there…”

          • William Lewis

            It doesn’t surprise that you would hear a bitter, unrepentant queen being projected in the words of the Queen’s Christmas speech.

          • Cressida de Nova

            You live in France…what do you care about the English and their ways? To be fair, they do have a few saving graces. The Inspector is not representative of an Englishman i.e. if you are making judgements based on his vile comments. He is Irish.I think your bile is more directed against the English rather than Christianity. England is not really a Christian country anyway.

          • Bob

            The Inspector is Irish?

            Poor chap. Why, I wonder, is it always those who come from peoples blighted by racism who hold the strongest views on race? I suppose they’re trying to make up for something.

            The Uncle Tom syndrome is a deeply unattractive spectacle.

        • Now now Linus go crawl back into your crevice.

    • alternative_perspective

      Neither, I’m sure he knows these truths. Enough of his flock have died and he himself came close on a number of occasions to being snuffed out.

      Unfortunately he’s head of the established church and not free to speak his mind… If he did the BBC, Guardian and others would be campaigning for both disestablishment and the banning of any belief in public.

      We are in a similar intellectual climate to the 1930s where appeasement and compromise in the UK were the great hopes and on continental Europe church leaders have to moderate their language lest they become enemies of the state.

      • Anton

        And we can’t have that, can we, no matter how evil the State becomes?

    • David

      Welby is aware, is the conclusion I’ve reached. He is remarkably well informed of the global situation having spent time outside the UK. However his room for manoeuvre is extremely limited because he is, as the head of an established Church, watched rather too closely by all and sundry, but especially by the enemies of Christianity who are legion in the PC compliant UK.

      • @ David—I agree that Welby is aware and I agree that, because of his office, he must choose his words carefully. But his office surely places on him the duty not to lie. If the truth would be inflammatory, better to say nothing than to stand in a pulpit and lie, as he did on Christmas Day.

  • Dreadnaught

    HMQ rightly expresses her concern for Christians in her Christmas Message. The ABC has gone a step further in recognising the the genocide of Christians in the Middle East but fall short of identifying the Elephant for fear of Muslim ‘sensitivities’ being offended. But there is already information in the public domain that will do precisely that – if someone is prepared to bite the bullet.

    ON the 17th of this month (what a good time to bury bad news), a report was delivered to the House of Commons identifying the Muslim Brotherhood and its manifold ‘Charitable’ incarnations extant in the UK. The faces of Government are spending millions on programmes of ‘de-radicalisation’ of disaffected Muslims when they are in possession of information that directs them to where the current source of ‘radicalisation’ is rooted as this extract and link will show.

    Somehow it seems to have slipped past the noses of the National Media – well its more important to talk about the weather after all.

    Main findings

    7. Sir John Jenkins examined the development, ideology and
    structures of the Muslim Brotherhood, historically and through its foundational
    writings Foundational ideology and structures

    8. The Muslim Brotherhood was established in Egypt in 1928.
    The founder and first Supreme Guide (spiritual leader), Hassan al Banna, called
    for the religious reformation of individual Muslims, the progressive moral
    purification of Muslim societies and their eventual political unification in a
    Caliphate under sharia law. Al Banna and
    others argued that secularisation and westernisation were at the root of all contemporary
    problems of Arab and Muslim societies, and that nationalism was not the answer.

    9. From its foundation the Muslim Brotherhood organised
    itself into a secretive ‘cell’ structure, with an elaborate induction and
    education programme for new members. It relied heavily on group solidarity and
    peer pressure to maintain discipline. This clandestine, centralised and hierarchical
    structure persists to this day.

    http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/testimony/404.pdf

    • David

      Exactly ! Yet throughout the various websites commentariat ignorant people accuse the Churches, the C of E, the Catholics etc of not caring or knowing about who and what is behind the massacres in the ME, which no doubt many would bring here if they could. Yet because the denominations are international, and despite their differences, freely exchange information and ideas, they are far more informed and concerned than people give them credit for. The Orthodox Church in particular acts as a channel for passing information onto the other denominations. But as you say, the MS media are simply not very interested in doing their job, as there’s an easier one to do, sucking up to the PC establishment.

  • Bob

    “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”

    A very slanted and partisan description of what was more probably a group of bewildered priests stunned into embarrassed silence by the rantings of a madman. We’ve all been through it, on the Tube, at Hyde Park Corner, or wherever wild-eyed and mentally unstable religious zealots try to harangue us all into submission.

    The “first Christian martyr” was got rid of because he was a public nuisance and that’s what they did with public nuisances in those days. Nowadays he’d probably be sectioned and locked up in a nice comfortable mental institution.

    • Anton

      Just like a lot of sane but inconvenient people were in the Soviet Union. And not only there, if you read Foucault.

    • chiefofsinners

      Never mind. If it happens I’ll come and visit you.

  • Inspector General

    Well done Ma’am!

    You went as close as you could without actually naming the guilty animal. One was most impressed.

    Your obedient subject

    The Inspector

    Good Save The Queen!

  • Bob

    How can darkness overcome light? Darkness isn’t a thing. It’s merely how we describe the absence of visible frequency electromagnetic radiation. It therefore can’t “do” anything. It certainly can’t extinguish light.

    Christians are experts at assigning totally unwarranted properties to naturally occuring phenomena and then trying to draw metaphysical conclusions from their erroneous analysis. Their “prince of Darkness” rules over something that isn’t even a thing. Not much of a dominion, is it?

    • Anton

      Agreed – it’s not.

      Dark and light (about which I can say plenty, as a physicist) are used as fairly obvious metaphors throughout the Bible.

      • Bob

        Oh they’re metaphors are they?

        So the Bible isn’t literal truth after all.

        How nice to get that cleared up!

        • Inspector General

          Of course it is not the literal truth. Rather obvious isn’t it?

        • chiefofsinners

          When you say ‘cleared up’…
          Did you actually, physically clear something up? Was a mop or a dustpan involved? No?
          So your words aren’t literal truth.
          How nice to get that cleared up.

          • Bob

            Ah, I think I’m starting to see what you mean.

            So the entire Bible is one big metaphor, is it? But a metaphor for what?

            Oh, I know! Christ wasn’t really nailed to a cross, was he? That was just a figurative description of the exploitation of Jewish joiners and cabinet makers by their imperial Roman masters.

            The entire Christian narrative should therefore be seen in the same light as Das Kapital as an early communist manifesto.

            Workers of the world, unite! Throw out your hammers and sickles and your Little Red Books! The cross and the Bible should be the symbols of the international labor movement, and the Pope is the new Arthur Scargill!

          • chiefofsinners

            Sometimes when I read the gospels it seems incredible that people misunderstood Jesus so readily and so completely. But reading your comments makes it all much more believable.

          • Bob

            Of course! Everyone who disagrees with you misunderstands Christ. Because you are infallible, so they must be wrong.

            I guess that makes you the Pope.

            What a day this blog is having! First Mundabor visits it, then hot on his heels come Christ and his Vicar!

            Who’s next? Is Mary lurking about disguised as the acid-tongued and ever loathsome magnolia? Are any of the apostles here?

          • magnolia

            This is sub-debating level.

        • Anton

          They are literal in some places and metaphors in some places and it is as contextually obvious which is which as in a Victorian novel.

          • Bob

            Ah, better and better!

            So as a piece of literature, the Bible is just like a Victorian novel, is it? That certainly explains the hysterical behaviour of so many of its central characters.

            If sexual repression and overtight stays were responsible for Heathcliff and Cathy, what social and vestimentary aberrations produced Christ and Balaam’s ass?

            Were Mary’s corsets just wound a little bit too tight? Was the crucifixion a mere metaphor for the poor working conditions and social deprivation of Roman era craftsmen in the Middle East?

          • Anton

            O twister of words! The Bible uses words that (as any dictionary will confirm) have both a physical and a spiritual meaning, eg darkness and light; context determines which, in a way that is obvious. The same applies (among other books) Victorian novels. Anybody who infers from these statements that the Bible has further characteristics of a Victorian novel is not going to get far in a logic class.

          • Bob

            And who’s the ultimate arbiter of what’s literal in the Bible and what’s figurative?

            You?

            So you do believe you’re the Second Coming…

          • Anton

            Acts 1:11 says that Jesus will return the same way he left, following a description of him physically rising up to heaven and disappearing into the clouds. You are free to disbelieve that account, but there is no ambiguity possible: if you believe he rose to heaven and disappeared from their sight and you believe that he will return as he left in reverse then you believe in a physical second coming. If once then why not twice?

          • Bob

            I note that you do not answer my question about whether you believe yourself to be the Second Coming. Why such uncharacteristic reticence? Have you been levitating through the air recently? Did you descend in glory from the clouds?

            If you believe that a grown man is going to fly out of the clouds and save you, or that you are that man, nothing I can say will change your mind. The hard cold reality of the fact that men can’t fly without technological assistance should be apparent to everyone. If it isn’t, you’re too far gone in delusion and self-deception for any logical argument to move you.

            But as for others reading these comments, do you honestly believe the Amazing Flying Jesus is going to flap (or drift, or even just fall) out of the blue, wave his magic wand and magically make everything alright?

            If you do, continue to chant your magic spells and live in daily expectation of something that everything we know about the world tells us cannot happen. You too are lost in your delusion and can’t be reached by logic or reason.

            If you doubt that such miraculous goings on will ever come to pass, inform yourself about the real nature of the world and stop believing in children’s fairy tales. You might not like the cold hard reality of the world around you, but you have a much better chance of finding at least some fulfillment and happiness by accepting what is rather than pining after dreams, fantasies and chimeras.

          • Anton

            As a research physicist I’ll back myself to know more about the real nature of the physical world than you. It is, however, a small matter for the God who put the laws of physics in place to suspend them in order to make a point to his sinful creation.

            In the unlikely even that I am still alive on earth on the day that Jesus returns to it, I shall by his grace and power (not mine) make the same ascent he did into the clouds, to meet him.

    • David

      Are you totally incapable of thinking other than in the most literal way ? Have you no ability to grasp metaphor, word images or other ways of describing non-physical reality ? If so the whole of the world of conceptual ideas must be one big puzzle to you. Perhaps you are autistic and need sympathetic assistance ?

      • Bob

        Non-physical reality? What’s that? Oh, I know what you mean. Fantasy and imagination!

        So what physical substance is your god made of? Fictoplasm? Imagicrete? Legendicity?

        Of course not. He isn’t made out of anything, is he? His existence, like that of Harry Potter and Gandalf the Grey is confined to the small, small space inside your skull. Around it zaps from neuron to neuron as a series of small electrical signals with no more physical substance than a leprechaun or a hobbit.

        Every Christian carries a tiny god around in his head with him. They’re all different. Some are loving, others disapproving, others downright condemnatory. Their only common trait is their fictitiousness. That and the primal rage they provoke in their creators when they realise that they just can’t impose them on anyone else..

        You keep on believing in your fairytale god and the pot of gold you’ve convinced yourself is waiting for you at the end of his rainbow. You can believe whatever you like. No fantasy is too ridiculous. But you can’t make anyone else believe in it. And that’s the real source of your anger, isn’t it? The outrage of impotence and powerlessness.

        • David

          Judging by your OTT response I seem to have had a direct hit on your magazine.

          • Bob

            A typical Christian response. “I got a reaction, so I must be important, so I must be right.”

            Small children think like that. So do Christians. Work out what that means for yourself, if you can.

          • David

            You seem to have regained a measure of composure I note. No doubt you are an expert on child psychology as well.

          • Bob

            Along with the mystical mumbo-jumbo, there’s a fair measure of folk wisdom in the Bible. But that’s true of most holy books. If there wasn’t at least some kind of common sense in them, they’d be rejected out of hand.

            There is however no common sense in the claim that patent stupidity, along with those who present it as truth, should not be challenged.

            If you already believe in your fairy tales, nothing I say will change your mind. Zealotry is impervious to reasoned argument. But those who are questioning their faith, or lack of it, and come to sites such as this one looking for explanations may well see sense in my comments. It’s for them that I write, not for you.

            So by all means do feel free to ignore me. As your god delusion prevents you from understanding anything except fairy stories about magic and invisible deities, why waste your time?

          • David

            Whilst your perfect, prescient 20/20 vision allows for no delusions ? LOL !

          • magnolia

            Wish he would define some terms.

            Sometimes seems His Grace’s careful observation, erudition, and nuance is most particularly wasted on one or two of his congregation, stuffing straws up their noses and pulling faces behind the pillars next to the doors…..

            Oh that was a m-e-t-a-p-h-o-r, (dear novice reader).

          • David

            Indeed Magnolia.
            Yes he can barely string together words to create sub-grammatical sentences, let alone define his terms. He’s not one of natures most erudite and logical “thinkers” ! I’d wager that he is young, and pumped up on the sort of nonsense that certain popular atheist writers churn out nowadays to convince the partially educated that they truly are clever little chappies. The arrogance of the ignorant knows no bounds. But since the days of Isaiah they have always been with us. Where’s the excellent Inspector when you need a Christian to do a hit job – LOL !

          • Cressida de Nova

            Brilliant !

          • Bob

            You’re the one who claims to know it all. I merely acknowledge that Man knows very little.

            The common error made by Christians is to believe that atheists want to replace their omniscient god with a secular omniscience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Man is not omniscient. Inventing an omniscient deity doesn’t make him so. Neither does science.

            We can grow in knowledge, but we’ll never know it all.
            The intelligent man accepts the limits of his knowledge and, while trying to extend them, acknowledges that ignorance is part of life. More knowledge doesn’t necessarily bring happiness or contentment with it. Indeed some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen have been some of the least knowledgeable. If you’ve ever had anything to do with Downs children, you’ll know what I mean.

          • David

            On the contrary, we all see through a glass but darkly, me included.
            I only think I understand what the divine revelations of Scripture tell us, if one listens, plus those insights into the created order afforded to me, via those Sciences of which I have some understanding.
            Like Science our understanding of Holy Scripture is itself in a state of continuous improvement as new research, especially linguistically and archaeologically, extends and modify our understandings of what was being said in that social context, at that time.

          • Bob

            In other words your holy book tells you nothing that can’t be modified and altered in the light of newly acquired knowledge.

            Welcome to the wonderful world of liberal Anglican theology. Pretty soon you’ll be interpreting away all the bits of the Bible you don’t like in light of your superior knowledge, and one day you’ll figure out that god can be interpreted away too.

            May the Force be with you as you take your first tentative steps towards ultimate interpretive “truth”.

          • David

            Oh no, you’ve jumped ten steps not one, and backwards at that.
            Liberalism denies divine revelation – I don’t.
            Linguistic research simply reveals more of the true, intended meaning of the original words, in the context of their time and place, replacing the slight misunderstandings due to earlier translations. Remember the west was denied, physically barred that is, from access to Middle Eastern scholarship and research during many centuries of the total Islamic “iron-curtain”, plus access to the centres of Greek learning, again by accessibility problems, as well as difficulties translating from the far more subtle Greek to rather crude Latin.
            Archaeological research simply helps us understand cities and buildings layout, economic activities and similar depths of greater understanding etc.
            None of the research I refer to goes to doctrine especially creedal doctrine, but it does reveals depths and nuances of understanding. The basics are unchanged.
            Do try keeping up.

          • Bob

            The nuances of nonsense are still nonsense.

            While you’re obsessing over the fine meaning of Hebrew verbs and adjectives, the world around you is rejecting the entire Christian narrative as a pointless fairy story.

            Those few who remain Christian will continue to engage in their endless Big and Little Endian debates about the pointless minutiae of doctrine. Was Christ as mild or as calm as a lamb? Oh my God (or rather, oh your imaginary sky fairy) it’s just the most important question ever asked, and if you think he was calm rather than mild, you’ll go straight to hell, won’t you? Or straight to heaven if God really did mean mild…

            Ah well, as Christianity slowly dwindles away to a squabbling group of competing mini-cults, each damning the others to hell over their erroneous conjugation of Greek verbs, the rest of us will just laugh at you and get on with our lives.

          • David

            Bob, you are a bore.
            Moreover you are boorish – because you return fair efforts to answer your “inquiries” with your only childish defence – it’s all “nonsense”.
            Your lack of any real argument and scholarship is your defining trait.
            Take your ignorant prejudices back to your little playpen.
            I shall now ignore your adolescent attempts to criticise our faith, which has indelibly shaped the entire western thought system, and is now burgeoning in Africa and the far east. Moreover I advise all my friends here, including the genuinely thoughtful, educated and informed ones who are of another faith, including the atheists, to just ignore you. Run along now, there’s a good chap.

          • William Lewis

            Well said, David.

          • David

            Thank you.
            Genuine inquirers and debaters are what this blog is about, but not this nursery level stuff.

          • Bob

            If you run this blog and want me to leave, why don’t you ban me?

            If you don’t run this blog, what gives you the authority to tell me to leave?

            I know, why don’t you ask for some help from that supposedly omnipotent deity of yours? In Christian movies they brandish a crucifix and fling holy water about while screaming “the power of Christ compels you!” I’m told a German accent helps. Makes it sound more authentic, like Max von Sydow. Give that a go and see what happens. And then when it doesn’t work, ask yourself why your god has abandoned you…

          • Inspector General

            You stay Linus. Posting here is an important part of your therapy…

          • Cressida de Nova

            LOL… God with a German accent…Silly boy…God is French !

          • Bob

            Not God, just the priests who go around exorcising demons in his name.

          • Merchantman

            The wages of sin are……….?

    • chiefofsinners

      An alternative translation is “the darkness has not understood it”.
      You are a good example of the truth of both translations.

      • Bob

        How can Christians be so wilfully stupid?

        Darkness can’t understand anything because it isn’t sentient and doesn’t have a mind to understand anything with. Neither does it have substance.

        If darkness were a thing like light is a thing, it would have a source. Light has a source. The sun, fire, a lamp, etc. Where’s the source of darkness? Ever seen a lamp that radiates darkness? Ever seen something that was lit “covered in darkness”? No, you haven’t. The most you can say is that the light illuminating an object dims until it is no longer visible. We call the state of absence of light darkness, but that doesn’t make darkness an actual thing.

        Christians may be afraid of the dark, but only because they have a habit of conjuring up something out of nothing. Vivid imaginations and fear of the unknown are basic characteristics of all religions. Your faith is based on fantasy, ignorance and terror.

        The limited mind of primitive Man as he crouched in fear by his campfire while the noises of the night struck terror into his heart gave birth to your god and your demons. And you talk about understanding? I might as well ask my dog about the meaning of fireworks exploding in the night as he shivers in his basket as ask a Christian about the meaning of life.

        If my dog could talk, I’m sure he’d give a more sensible answer than any Christian. Something along the lines of “scary noise, me scared, don’t know what is, just scared”. It takes a Christian to fill in the blanks with his imaginary gods and monsters.

        • chiefofsinners

          If your dog could talk it would say “Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas.”
          On the subject of metaphors, I’m just going to have to accept that you were away from school that day:
          “Dear Mr Gradgrind,
          Please excuse Bob/Tutenakai/Linus from school today. His multiple personality disorder has flared up again. Also his dyslexia seems to be getting worse: He is talking to the doG about religion. I have also noticed that his French spelling is pissoir-poor…

          • Bob

            If my dog could talk, he would probably say “Who cares about Jesus? All I want is a nice juicy bone.”

            Why should he care about Jesus? He won’t be going to heaven because he has no immortal soul, so all he has to do is concentrate on the present. A single juicy bone is worth any number of saviours to a creature that can’t be saved.

            And as the ad hominem abuse has started, I can see I’ve touched a nerve. Can’t justify your faith? Beat up on a non-believer instead. It might distract attention from your inability to defend your beliefs.

          • preacher

            Bob, please don’t go into a hissy fit, no one is trying to ” Beat up a non believer “, & You know it. You are here because you want to be. Furthermore, don’t pretend to be a victim it doesn’t work & is childish.
            Maybe you are right about your dog having no immortal soul, but can you prove that ? You see, your arguments for proof works both ways. Your slip is showing !.

          • Bob

            The burden of proof lies with you, not me.

            You’re the one claiming that something called a soul exists despite not having a single shred of evidence that it does.

            You can’t show me a soul and tell me what it looks like, what it’s made of, and how to weigh and measure it. You claim it exists without being able to show any evidence that it’s more than just a figment of your imagination.

            If you can’t show me a soul, you can’t prove they exist. You can claim they do, but without evidence your claim is not established and nobody is obliged to believe it.

          • preacher

            Bob. You’ve shot yourself in the foot again, ( True to the character of your namesake ) You are the one who made the statement that your dog has no immortal soul so would not be going to Heaven, I said that I didn’t know.
            Get a life my friend, get rid of the log on your shoulder before it crushes you completely. I don’ expect you’ll do so, mainly because you enjoy your hate & anger so much, which is why you continue to appear here like the ghost of Hamlet’s Father, but I really do hope you accept my advice which is offered in a spirit of amicability.

          • Bob

            Oh dear, if that’s how you understood what I wrote then perhaps Christianity is the right faith for you after all.

            Simple “souls” need simplistic explanations, and what could be simpler than the childish fairy story you call the Bible? Magic and miracles and a big strong Daddy figure in the sky who’ll beat up everyone you hate and then give you jelly and icecream for ever and ever because you’re the best little boy in the world, aren’t you?

            That’s about your level, it seems. If it works for you, stick to it. Anything more is clearly beyond you.

          • preacher

            Thank you Bob, you prove my point admirably !.

          • chiefofsinners

            It is difficult to grasp the substance of your argument. It seems to be that there’s no such thing as darkness, and that God is not allowed to use metaphor or personification, because you say so.
            Try this then: according to the atheist, 68% of the universe is dark energy and a further 28% is dark matter. The observable universe, including all light is only 5% of the total. Although this dark matter cannot be seen, they know this is true because otherwise their fairy story doesn’t make sense. So, you believe in darkness and I believe in light.

          • Bob

            According to certain scientists, some of whom are atheists, others of whom are not, a mysterious substance called dark matter must exist in order to make the Standard Model work as an explanation of the nature of the universe.

            But the Standard Model is not, as far as I’m aware, ultimate knowledge. It’s merely our best guess given current data of how the universe seems to work.

            As we grow in knowledge and gain more data, some or all aspects of the Standard Model may be confirmed, or shown to be incomplete or even completely erroneous.

            The existence of dark matter may be confirmed or it may be refuted. Or we may never know. At the moment we certainly don’t and any scientist who talks about dark matter as a confirmed fact is getting ahead of himself and crossing the boundary from scientific enquiry into unsubstantiated belief.

            Several experiments designed to establish whether dark matter really does exist are currently underway, but as yet none has been detected. Until it is, it remains as a theory rather than being established fact. Just like god.

          • chiefofsinners

            Thank you for clearing that up. It sounds so much better coming from an atheist. If only more atheists were so publicly frank about the uncertainty in their theories.
            Christianity, on the other hand, has always professed itself to be a faith, defining faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.

          • Bob

            The problem with Christians and their certainty is that they have a tendency to project it on to others.

            Science is not a religion. Scientists, or at least most of them, do not believe in unsupported theories. They may advance certain arguments as plausible explanations, however true fact is established only when solid and consistent supporting evidence confirms – or contradicts – their theories.

            Christian beliefs float in mid-air supported by nothing except the opinion of the believer. Science rests upon a bedrock of verifiable fact. This is why religion will never convince the scientific mind. It’s conjecture, not fact, and conjecture can never establish ultimate truth.

          • chiefofsinners

            Good luck with establishing ultimate truth. Get back to me when you’ve managed it.

          • Bob

            Ditto. Only do try and come up with some real facts this time. I’m not interested in your opinion. It counts for nothing.

          • William Lewis

            It is your opinion that counts for nothing – by your definition of who you are.

          • Bob

            Oooh, well that’s me bitch-slapped and put in my place, isn’t it?

            Didn’t know Vicky Pollard posted here. Not surprised to find she’s a Christian. All those kids. Abortion clearly isn’t an option. A fat and stupid minger. Who else but Christ and the odd blind drunk yob is ever going to love her?

            See you an’ yer ‘pinion’s wot don’t count, innit? Is that what god’s going to tell me at the last judgment?

          • William Lewis

            That’s a bit pathetic, Bob. Your pitiful trolling is becoming risible, I’m afraid.

          • Inspector General

            Lovely! Bitch slapped again, eh! Do tell if you are part of the 48% of male homosexual pairings where violence is a usual part of domesticity.

          • Bob

            How about you? Are you part of the 100% of homophobic old closet cases who secretly fantasize about being roughed up by a piece of rough?

            D’oh! Course you are…

          • Inspector General

            Vinegar and brown paper for bruising…

            You hang on in there Linus. Somebody loves you somewhere, even if the domineering queer you ‘married’ doesn’t….

          • Bob

            What a sick old pervert you are. Fantasizing about domestic violence clearly gets you excited. I’m told there are websites out there that people like you can peruse to sate your urges. But then you probably already know them already, don’t you?

          • Inspector General

            One feels your (domestic abuse) pain, Linus.

            Coming through loud and clear, as they say.

            You may be a literary brute, but clearly no physical match for your darling piece of rough, whom you ‘gave’ yourself to in that sham pretence earlier this year.

            Give your spousal tormentor the old heave ho and run far from the madness that is slowly consuming you. It’s your only hope you know. Since we no longer chain to a stone floor the disappointed in love who have become insane resultant, there is every chance you’ll seriously harm yourself.

          • Bob

            Insane old man. Is it Alzheimers? Or some kind of delusional psychosis?

          • Inspector General

            Good news for you Linus. As you continue to post on this Christian site, be aware that we Christians can’t give up on you. Although we may not like you, and it is true that in polite company you would be referred to as an ‘utter shit’, we will always be there for you…

          • Enoch’s Shoelace

            What is the scientific explanation for your anger? How does your response to insult get explained in your cold scientific world? What is the chemical process that gives rise to such emotions? Remember, it has to be based on verifiable facts and given solid physical proof before we can believe it. Have a go, please!

          • chiefofsinners

            We have the same facts. The difference between us is how we interpret them and form an overall understanding to guide us through life.
            Where the facts do not appear to fit the atheist understanding, other facts are hypothesised – dark matter for instance, or the idea that there are an infinite number of universes.
            Where the facts do not appear to fit the Christian understanding, faith is exercised.
            Beneath all that, here are a few facts about the atheist understanding of the universe, just for starters:
            It offers no first cause for anything.
            It offers no meaning or purpose for life.
            It gives no basis for establishing right and wrong, or morality.
            It does not explain where information came from.
            It does not explain the origin of complex interdependent systems, such as bird flight.
            It does not explain the existence of beauty, particularly in mathematics.
            And a few facts about the Christian understanding:
            It was completed, in written form, 2000 years ago and has stood the test of time unaltered.
            It continues to grow and spread throughout the world.
            It answers mankind’s deepest questions and deepest needs.
            Its prediction that its followers would be hated, ridiculed and persecuted continues to prove remarkably accurate.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Very interesting and comprehensive points you have made here. The existence of beauty is the profound point …particularly in music and in the mathematical precision of the fugue. I think one can regard atheism as a denial of the intrinsic spirituality that is inherent in every human being. It is very closely linked to a mental disorder and should be treated as such. More research needs to be done by non affected scientists.

          • chiefofsinners

            Beauty in music is phenomenal. Like life, it plays out both over time and in harmony with concurrent notes. As God says ‘He makes all things beautiful in His time’. Why should music be mathematical? Why should it exist at all? One of God’s greatest gifts.
            Atheism is such a dry, zombified existence. Atheists talk of a ‘religious mind’ as if it were some kind of malfunction, whereas the opposite is true.

          • William Lewis

            Science can tell us nothing outside of the space time domain. A domain which, so science tells us, had a beginning. All that science can tell us is that that you are an irrational, irrelevant bag of molecular soup who’s opinions are utterly pointless. If you really are a soulless product of blind chance, they who cares what garbage you come out with?

          • Bob

            Same to you, I’m sure.

            Spacetime is all we know anything about. We have no knowledge of anything else.

            You make up any story you like about what you believe exists outside of spacetime. As there’s no way of verifying any of it, be as creative as you like. You’re in no danger of being proven wrong. Perhaps there really are ten-tailed rainbow poneys in heaven. And perhaps there aren’t.

            A first step to proving your private fantasy true would be to demonstrate that something – anything – exists outside spacetime. Until you can do that, all your elaborate stories about gods and angels and pearly gates remain firmly fixed in the realm of fiction and make-believe.

          • William Lewis

            Why same to me? I don’t profess to be only a product of space and time.

            ” Spacetime is all we know anything about. We have no knowledge of anything else.”

            Space and time are mere models within which the scientific method operates. The scientific method itself cannot be proven by the parameters of space and time therefore your assertion is evidently tripe. Ditto the number two.

          • Bob

            Whatever you assert makes no difference to the reality of what you are. And what you are is a clump of cells firmly fixed in the reality of spacetime. Any other delusions of existence on another plane are merely the workings of an overactive imagination, itself the product of very mundane and ordinary electrical activity in your brain.

            Translating that brain activity into gods and monsters may be one of the steps in the evolutionary process rather than a glitch or blind alley in the development of the human mind, but it’s something we’re moving beyond. Slowly at present, but the pace is gathering. Your gods are dying as we mature and like Santa Claus will be retained only as a vague childhood memory.

            That’s where we’re heading as we move through spacetime. There’s nowherr else we can go.

          • William Lewis

            Your first paragraph is an assertion that you simply cannot demonstrate, let alone prove, within the model of reality that you have defined.

            Your second paragraph is more baseless assertion that also tells us nothing about the God of the New Testament.

            Your third paragraph is the wishful thinking of a blind materialist who cannot see, nor comprehend, beyond his own nose.

          • Inspector General

            My dear fellow. Haven’t you heard. The law of Gravity is up for offers. Apparently, 86% of matter in the universe required to confirm said law has gone missing!

            It’s as if the scientists really know little…

  • chiefofsinners

    Let us indeed pray for those who are persecuted. But let us also act in support of them. I fear that if the Acts of the Apostles were written today it might only be the Act of the Apostles, with supplementary volumes on prayers uttered, committees convened, hands wrung, speeches made, beards grown and evangelical knitwear.