Freedom of Religion

Piers Morgan on the “evil cult” of Scientology – why is Dianephobia not a hate crime?

“Why do you not want to read the violent paragraphs of the Qur’an?” Piers Morgan was asked by Ramthrax on Twitter after interviewing the ‘hate preacher’ Tommy Robinson. To his credit, the Twitter colossus (5.8million followers) bothered to respond to the Twitter flea (33 followers): “There are many more violent paragraphs in the Bible. Should I read those out too?” he parried. His grasp of theological hermeneutics clearly isn’t great: he appears to lack any methodology of scriptural interpretation, or any appreciation of how one may discern contextual truth, ambiguity or falsity in a purported divine message. But Piers Morgan doesn’t really care: he is a professional media gob. He smites whatever gets under his skin, which is, of provocational necessity, both thick and thin. Anything might rile him, but nothing and no-one will trounce him. He is smug, self-righteous and invincible. It’s his job.

As Robinson held up a copy of the Qur’an as the root of all Islamist evil, Morgan scolded: “Show some damn respect for people’s religious beliefs. You’re sounding like a complete lunatic. You’re sounding like a bigoted lunatic. You’re stirring up hatred.”

Hm…

Writing in the Daily Mail previously, Piers Morgan showed a marked lack of respect for Tom Cruise’s religious beliefs, which are grounded in Scientology. Robinson sought to expose Morgan’s hypocrisy by highlighting this article. By calling Scientology a “vile cult” in the article and an “evil cult” on Twitter, some might say he sounds like a bigoted lunatic stirring up hatred.

He would, of course, never refer to Islam as a vile cult (or an evil cult): he leaves that to bigoted lunatics like Tommy Robinson. Nor would the Mail have commissioned such an outrage (for obvious reasons). Only religious bigots and right-wing extremists set out to offend Muslims with blasts of Islamophobic zealotry and racist hate. Piers Morgan slings mud at many bodies and bands of people (especially when he is paid to do so), but the followers of Mohammed are not among them (for obvious reasons). You simply don’t juxtapose the religion of Islam or the name of Mohammed with the word ‘evil’, or all hell breaks loose, as Pope Benedict XVI found in the global response to his Regensburg lecture.

Scientology is a recognised religion, and the feelings of its followers ought not to be summarily slapped away, for that offends against the zeitgeist of mutual respect and tolerance of different beliefs. And calling someone’s faith a ‘evil cult’ is, well, a bit rude, not to say intolerant and disrespectful.

Scientology is a body of religious beliefs and practices developed in America in 1954 by L Ron Hubbard. That’s what it says on Wikipedia. His ideas were called Dianetics (from Greek dia, meaning ‘through’, and nous, meaning ‘mind’). That’s from Wikipedia, too. So hatred against Scientologists might be considered Dianephobia. That isn’t on Wikipedia: you read it here first. But if Piers Morgan’s incitement against this religion causes any significant backlash (or, God forbid, abuse of Tom Cruise and criticism of his prophet L Ron Hubbard), the term may need to gain traction.

You might think Scientology to be religiously rubbish, as John Gummer told the House of Commons in 2007, then insisting that his own Roman Catholicism was “religiously correct”. But who determines this, and by what rationale? You might consider Scientology a barking mad cult of spiritual oppression and psychological manipulation, but one man’s pseudo-religious cult is another man’s quasi-spiritual sect, and either may be yet another man’s bona fide religion of orthodox metaphysics; the greatest arbiter of truth ever discerned for making sense of the meaning of life in an uncertain world. That’s clearly what Tom Cruise believes, along with all of his co-religionists. So who is Piers Morgan to hurl theological brickbats?

And if he may do so at Scientology, why may Tommy Robinson not do so at Islam? Does not freedom of religion include the right to repudiate the beliefs of others? Does not freedom of speech and expression include the right to mock, scorn or satirise the tenets of religion and belief?

Islam is a body of religious beliefs and practices developed in Arabia in 610-632 by Mohammed. His ideas are well known, as are the acts of his followers and the backlashes against them. The point of this post is not to disparage Islam or demean Muslims, but to inquire why one’s man’s bigotry is tolerable while another man’s bigotry is nigh-on illegal. Why can Piers Morgan freely trash the teachings of L Ron Hubbard and Scientology in the national press, while any comparable polemic against Islam will get you vilified if not arrested?

Of course, we all know the reason: Scientologists tend not to meet criticism of their founder or disrespect of their dogma with riots, guns, suicide vests or machetes. But the ‘evil cult’ smear still raises questions of what constitutes a valid faith or a legitimate religion. Is Islam worthy of respect because it has a long tradition of philosophical and theological reasoning to underpin its doctrines? Is Scientology not worthy of respect because it has no such tradition? Are we therefore saying that being wrong for a very long time justifies more respect than being wrong for just a short time?

Morgan refers to the Church of Scientology as a “deeply unpleasant organization”. He says its leader David Miscavige is a “manipulative monster”. He refers to Tom Cruise’s staring “in a wide-eyed, excitable, slightly demonic way, cackling insanely”. And he pinpoints the CoS strategy for dealing with criticism: “Denigrating opponents is their default position to any perceived attack.” His conclusion is that Tom Cruise is “a nasty piece of work conspiring with an even nastier cult to treat people like dirt and manipulate their minds”.

As far as we know, L Ron Hubbard didn’t advocate beheading non-believers or the massacring of Christians and Jews. He didn’t buy, sell or own slaves. He didn’t assassinate his religious enemies or political opponents. He didn’t seduce believers to blow themselves to smithereens with promises of eternal carnal pleasure. He didn’t seek to spread his faith by the sword with a strategy of ‘convert, subjugate or kill’. Indeed, the CoS professes to be a church of social action, involved in the rehabilitation of criminals, drug addiction, drug prevention and human rights. They seek a civilisation without war, without criminality and without insanity, where honest people have rights. Any notion of cultic brainwashing tendencies is naturally offensive to them.

The Church of Scientology is opposed to democracy, and presupposes a very black and white image of the world, comprising those who are friends and those who are foes. This has led to the perception that “Scientology uses totalitarian ways of handling problems and even people”. In Germany in particular the CoS has been under surveillance for years, with accusations that it is “involved in activities directed against the free democratic order” and the country’s constitution. They further assert that “Scientology is a totalitarian commercial cult. It is dangerous because Scientologists are against freedom of religion and freedom of opinion”.

All of which criticism might reasonably be directed at Islam.

And yet Islamophobia is objectionable, while Dianephobia is commendable.

Isn’t religious bigotry strange?

  • Anton

    No book on scientology begins to match Russell Miller’s biography of L Ron Hubbard, Bare Faced Messiah. It tells you all you need to know about his shocking life and the origins of scientology – and far more than scientologists would like you to know.

    I think little of either Piers Morgan, who really should understand that Christians are bound only by the New Testament (while accepting the Old as speaking about the same God); or of Tommy Robinson, who is no Geert Wilders. Both have their good points (Morgan being prepared to face an angry Brett Lee in cricket nets; Robinson being clearly right in the present exchange) but I wouldn’t wish to do more than watch them exchange insults.

    Tommy Robinson’s autobiography is worth reading to learn about the sheer vindictiveness of the British State against people who rock the boat. If the government continues to treat Islam purely as a religion rather than a politico-religious system then turbulent times are ahead.

    • Gregory Morris

      I was under the impression I was bound by the Old Testament as well as the New. What else was the Apostle Paul referring to when he said “the Holy Scriptures which make you wise unto salvation”. The former is completed by the latter not replaced by it.

      And for the people that will keep bleating on about the violence in the OT, smiting the Amalekites etc – Jewish Commentators and the Talmud show a hugely generous attitude to past enemies. A remarkable sentence in the Babylonian Talmud claims that “descendants of Haman were students and teachers of Torah in the academies of Bnei Brak in the land of Israel.” (BT Sanhedrin 96b)

      The commandment to remember the Amalekites is a wise one even though there are none left to slay: the irreconcilable enemy of Israel cannot be placated. Haman who sought to destroy all Jews in the Persian Empire, is called an Agagite. Was he a descendent of King Agag the Amalekite King? In every age Israel has its implacable enemies.

      • Anton

        I was under the impression I was bound by the Old Testament as well as the New.

        Better rush to Jerusalem to sacrifice some animals then!

        What else was the Apostle Paul referring to when he said “the Holy Scriptures which make you wise unto salvation”.

        Christians are supposed to read the Old Testament to learn more about God and thereby become wise, indeed. But we are not under Mosaic Law, as the very same Apostle Paul explains in the New.

        The former is completed by the latter not replaced by it.

        Couldn’t agree more!

        • Watchman

          I explain the OT as a way in which the Creator could demonstrate His love of His creation by making a covenant with the most difficult people imaginable. Through them He showed His Holiness and His Love by punishing them and restoring them in order to show His Love and that He could keep a covenant. A lot of the violence shows the extent to which He would go to protect a protect a people he loved and had a covenant. The OT gives us a good idea of the nature of our Creator and what He is prepared to do for us if we are faithful to Him.

        • Gregory Morris

          Yes. Thank you Anton for your just riposte. I meant the Moral Laws as given to Noah and then to Moses. Not the ceremonial law. I accept that certain things are abolished as they pointed forward to Christ and were fulfilled in him. But I believe the Torah still speaks with authority, a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The apostles did worship in the temple after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus but the Apostle Paul and the Book of Hebrews sets us on more exalted ground.

          Maimonides understood tolerance and said that provided believers of other faiths abided by the Noahic laws they were to be left in peace – not that he was in a position there to do anything if they didn’t but he was setting forth the Law in a new way to make it serve many generations of Jews into the future. And so it did.

          • Anton

            I believe (like the wise compilers of the Westminster Confession) that the laws governing interpersonal relations in the Pentateuch are valid precedent today, because human nature hasn’t changed. Not the other laws. I’m not convinced that the Noachide laws are clear exegesis, although they are mostly good. The only covenant with Noah (Genesis 9) had only two conditions: capital punishment for murder, and don’t eat blood.

          • Gregory

            The NT doesn’t say that certain things in the law are abolished, it says the believer is not under law at all. In fact, the believer referred to is a Jewish Christian since gentile believers were never party to the mosaic covenant. It is not that some things were fulfilled in Him; all is fulfilled in Him. The very fact of a new covenant implied the old was obsolete. However, the reason Christians are not under the old covenant is that it addressed people alive on the earth. Believers are not alive on the earth. They have died and live in another sphere in terms of responsibilities.

            The problem is we see the law as a moral code whereas it was much more; it was a covenant of works between God and Israel. That being said, I agree with your main point that OT Scripture is inspired by God and profitable (when properly interpreted) for NT believers.

          • Gregory Morris

            Thank you for your helpful comments. Fortunately I am well versed in Brethrenese!

          • My background is Brethren. My theology is a mixture of this background and reformed influences. Actually, I would probably say my most comfortable label would be new covenant theology.

          • Gregory Morris

            Dear John, Thanks for your helpful reply. I have been on Bardsey Island and unable to communicate with the wider world for a while.

          • Gregory Morris

            PS Are you talking Brethrenese by any chance?

      • David

        Christians live under the New Covenant, set out in Christ’s gospel, revealed to us in the NT. Christ’s once and for all time sacrifice of His perfect self cleanses us of our sins, provided we genuinely repent; therefore we do not need to repeatedly sacrifice animals to God as an expression of our repentance – all the work has been done for us !
        The NT is the fulfilment of the OT, whose narrative all points forward to Christ. We are not under the Mosaic Law, although we can appreciate how so much of the OT’s requirements were, ethically, far in advance of the other cultures of that time.

        • IanCad

          Certainly we are not under the Mosaic Law; but having tossed that out some Christians then go on to bin the Ten Commandments.

          • It depends what you mean by binning the Decalogue. We are not under the Mosaic law. The Ten Commandments are part of the Mosaic Law. if I am obligated to the Ten Commandments than I must keep the Jewish Sabbath. We can learn from the Mosaic covenant. It is part of God’s word. However, the reason that Christians accept do not commit adultery etc is not because these are forbidden in the Mosaic covenant as such but because these are universals that the Mosaic covenant includes.

          • IanCad

            John,
            The Moral Law and the Ceremonial law are two clear different codes. The one abiding forever and the other abolished at the cross.
            The Sabbath is a creation ordinance and it is for all mankind. There is no “Jewish” Sabbath. There is only the Sabbath of The Lord – That is – unless you can point out where in the Bible it was changed.

          • Ian, I’m sorry, they are not two different codes. They belong, along with the civil laws to one indivisible covenant. You either accept this covenant in its entirety and as it stands and so become a devout Jew culturally and religiously who embraces salvation by works ( for the law was a covenant of works… this do and live… it did not assume eternal life but promised it upon obedience) or you recognise it is finished being superseded by a new and better covenant. Galatians could hardly be clearer on this. Nor could Romans 7.

            Interestingly in Romans 7 which reminds us by way of a marriage covenant that it is impossible to be married to two people at one time. If married to Christ then we are under the authority and command of Christ and not that of the law and if we claim obligation to the law then we cannot be married to Christ. Through death Jewish believers (those who know the law) are finished with the law; it has no claim or rights over them. It is Christ alone who is their husband and they serve him not by adhering to the written code but by the new way of the Spirit.

            (NIV) 1 Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
            4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

            Yes we can learn from the law as we see it in its redemptive history context, just as we can learn from other parts of the OT. But we cannot assume prima facie that because something is said in the law it is a command to us.

            Regarding the sabbath, there is no creational mandate to keep the sabbath. Where do you find this? Where is Adam told to keep the sabbath? The sabbath, in creation, is God’s sabbath not man’s. It is his rest, not humanity’s. In grace, he promises to bring us into that rest (thus showing he has not yet truly done so). But this is another discussion. There is no NT mandate to keep the sabbath. Indeed the Christian day is the first day of the week not the last. Nothing could more clearly signal the end of the law for the sabbath was the unique sign of the Old covenant. If it no longer applies (see Col 2) then the whole covenant is shown to be finished for the believer.

            Prior to Christ, the only way to know God for a gentile was by embracing the Mosaic Covenant and becoming a ‘devout person’ a Jewish proselyte. After Christ, he and he alone was the way to the Father. Law was redundant.

          • IanCad

            John, we have completely different views on the subject. Traditional Protestant and I believe, Catholic teaching, clearly differentiate the two laws. Permit me to present a few, stating the Moral law first:

            Spoken by God Himself – Spoken by Moses.
            Exodus 20:1, 22 – Exodus 24:3
            Written by God on stone – Written in a book by Moses.
            Exodus 31:18 – Exodus 24:4-7, Deut.31:24
            Placed in the Ark by Moses – Deposited by the Levites in the side of the Ark.
            Deut. 10:5 – Deut. 31:26
            Relates to moral precepts – Addresses ritual and ceremonial matters.
            Exodus 20:3-17 – Leviticus , Deuteronomy, Numbers….
            Breaking the law is sin – No sin for it is abolished.
            1 John 3:4 – Ephesians 2:15, Romans 4:15
            Judged by it – Not judged by it.
            James 2:12 – Colossians 2:16
            The perfect law of liberty – Yoke of bondage.
            James 1:25, 2:12 – Galatians 5:1,3
            The law is spiritual – the law is carnal.
            Romans 7:14 – Hebrews 7:16

            Please show me John, where in Holy Scripture does it state that the Christian Sabbath is on the First Day??

          • Ian

            There is no such thing as a Christian sabbath… except in the eschatological sense of sabbath rest in Hebrews. The Lord’s day is the first day of the week, the day of resurrection. It is never called a sabbath. Certainly the first day of the week is not the sabbath, only the seventh can be the sabbath.

            Whatever distinctions Catholic or Protestant teaching may make the NT makes no such distinctions IN TERMS OF THE BELIEVERS RELATIONSHIP TO THE LAW. Simply stated, he has none. He is not related to the law, the Mosaic covenant, whether viewed morally, civil or ceremonially ( though these distinctions while having some validity are really somewhat arbitrary, after all, if God commanded it is a moral necessity… all the law was morally encumbrant for those under it). He has died to the whole covenant… moral (so-called), ceremonial or civil.

            The whole law was spoken by God. It was all a revelation. Breaking the law is sin ONLY for those who are under its covenant demands. Romans 2 is clear those who sin under law are judged by the law while Gentiles who are ‘without law’ (not obligated to the Mosaic covenant) will perish apart from law. Scripture is clear.

            (NIV) 12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

            Gentiles show, by their lifestyle that at least some of the Mosaic covenant laws were also universals. I.e. That they did not kill shows that they realised this was wrong. However, their SIN is not in breaking the Mosaic covenant, for it was not made with them, but in breaking universals that God had written on their heart. Killing was wrong whether the Mosaic covenant said so or not. The fact that God actually revealed in tablets of stone to some (his covenant people) that killing was wrong did not make it wrong….IT MADE IT MORE WRONG. Law came in to increase the trespass. It made sin, exceedingly sinful. A person driving a car through a built up area at 70 mph knows instinctively that this is wrong; it is sin. However, when a law is codified prohibiting this speed in a built up area that sin grows in a number of ways. A) it becomes more sinful because there is now an express law forbidding it. B) the very command increases the desire to break it in fallen humanity and so demonstrates how depraved the human heart is. Again this is Romans 7.

            Interesting in Romans 7 in a context that teaches the believer is not under the OT Mosaic law, the one example of this law he gives comes from the Ten Commandments. Indeed, it is the most internal of these Ten Commandments… you shall not covet. It is clear that when Paul says the believers have died to the law he is including the Ten Words.

            The Mosaic law did not make killing sinful it simply made the Jew conscious of sin. Roms 3.

            I John 3: Sin is lawlessness. John is not referring here to the Mosaic Covenant. He is speaking about the essence of what sin is …. rebellion against constituted authority. To import the Mosaic covenant here is a category mistake. It is the error of systematic theology that is not attuned sufficiently to biblical theology.

            The same mistake is made in reference to James and the ‘law of liberty’. This is not a reference to the Mosaic Covenant as such but to the whole of Scripture, at that time the OT Scriptures as the previous verses make clear. When he later refers to the law as a covenant he points out, like Paul, that to break one command of the covenant is to be guilty of all. He who breaks one command becomes a covenant breaker. The law (covenant) is one. It is an indivisible whole. If we say we are obligated to it then we must keep it all. We cannot pick and choose. We cannot say we will accept this or that obligation but not others for they no longer apply as they stand. We cannot do this with a covenant. Once ratified it cannot be altered. Romans and Hebrews are clear on this. Dare I say it, even God cannot change the terms and obligations of a ratified covenant. If God is going to save Israel it will not be through morphing the old covenant but by superseding it with a new covenant.

            Paul does not refer to the law (Mosaic covenant) as a law of liberty or freedom but as a yoke of bondage, a yoke from which Christ has set them free. Freedom is not found by going back to the law from a different perspective but by recognising that Christ has set them free from the law full stop. The law is for slaves not for sons. Children, Luke slaves, live by rules, but sons don’t. Sons are not led by a disciplinarian (the law) only children require this. Sons know the mind of their father. They are mature. Gals 3,4. In spiritual terms, believers have a maturity that OT believers did not have; they have the indwelling Spirit. They don’t belong to the era of immaturity and childishness requiring a law to control. They belong to the era of ‘faith’ and their controlling ethic is ‘faith expressing itself through love’.

            I could go on. But you get my direction. I believe in this area the reformers did not move significantly beyond Catholicism. The problem no doubt was both had theologies (of baptism) that led to lots of nominalism. They felt the need to control behaviour and believed that the way to do so was through imposing aspects of the Mosaic Covenant. Thus we have, ‘the law led to Christ for justification but Christ leads to the law for sanctification’. The first half of this epigram is partially right while the second half is wholly wrong. Christ does not lead us to the Mosaic code for sanctification ( though it and the rest of Scripture are profitable for training in righteousness etc) he leads us into life in the Spirit. He leads us to see ourselves as dead with him to all that seeks to impose authority in this world and alive with him by faith presently in glory. He leads us to see that our lives are hid with Christ in God and that the way of sanctification does not lie in observing the law and holy days, months and years but in seeking the things which are above.

            To go back to the law and make it authoritative is to fall away from grace. It is to rob the cross of Christ of its power. Cf Gals 2-4. It dismayed Paul that the Galatians were ready to do this. To go back to the law as a means of grace was recidivistic. It was to go back to ‘weak and beggarly’ things that were powerless to justify or sanctify. Of course, where you have a church full of people who are unsaved then the temptation is to do just this. The law was given for people in the flesh (not the Spirit) and our churches are full of such people today. Tragically, however, though law could reveal what was sinful it could never inspire to what is holy. In fact, as noted earlier, it aggravated sin… it made people want to sin more.

            Incidentally, this is why it’s a mistake to think that legislation will change people’s hearts. It’s a reason why all attempts at Christianising a nation (Cromwell, Kuyper) end in failure. Israel had every kind of advantage a holy and good law could bring and yet she sinned as grievously as the surrounding nations. Law made Israel more culpable, it did not make her holy.

          • IanCad

            John, your long reply will need a longer response than I can give tonight; having speed read your post, two things spring out,. Firstly, the “Christian” Sabbath is a phrase you used and I responded to it. I do not believe there is any other than the day that Christ worshipped on. Secondly, you seem wedded to the notion of discounting the Decalogue and so my argument with your antinomianism may continue.

          • Am I to take it ian you agree the Lords day, the first of the week, is not the sabbath. Are you arguing Christians should observe the sabbath, the seventh, as the proper day of Christian worship?

            In the technical historical sense, I am antinomians, in that I refuse the notion believers are subject to the Mosaic covenant of law. In the biblical sense, I am not for I believe of course that I am under law to Christ.

          • Anton

            Yes, you are absolutely right. Although it’s not an invalid enterprise to categorise the laws of Moses into ceremonial, civil and moral, at the end of the day the law is a single code and it is not imposed on gentiles. The moral laws are simply the ones that God would wish us to keep today, and would wish our nations to have on their statute books.

            Some Christians have an odd view that the Ten Commandments are somehow more widely binding than the rest of Mosaic law even though they were given at Sinai to Moses like (most of) the rest. The argument runs that they were written with God’s finger on stone and the rest weren’t. The priority that they genuinely have is that they are the paragraph headings for the rest of the laws. The reason they aren’t more widely binding is that, just like the rest of Mosaic law, they are part of the covenant with Israel and not with anybody else. Anybody who disagrees has to overcome that simple argument, and I have never seen it done.

            As for the sabbath, it is the one of the Ten Commandments that Jesus never even repeated to his followers to keep, it is arguably the one he chose to abrogate, and there is no command to anybody to keep it in the one-and-a-half books of the Bible prior to Sinai. Happy is the nation that enacts a communal day of rest every seven, for it is good for family life; but it’s wrong for any Christian to tell any other that they are sinning if they do not keep the sabbath – and that is regardless of whether the sabbath is the same day the Jews have or any other day.

            It is hard to imagine that God wants Christians in North Korea to make themselves sitting ducks by going on strike every seventh day. God does want his people to be willing to put their lives on the line to spread the good news and stand against evil, but they can’t do that if the entire faithful church of Christ gets shot within one week. Sabbath-insisters living in the West should think more about the implications of their doctrines for brethren in places like that, rather than count them as worse sinners.

          • Indeed. Thanks Anton.

      • Pubcrawler

        “the Holy Scriptures which make you wise unto salvation”

        See, e.g., Luke 24: 13-35, especially vv. 27 and 32.

        Scripture (which in this context is the Hebrew Bible) points to the Passion. Approached in this light, study of Scripture will enable us to give a passably good answer to the question ‘Who do you say that I am?’

    • “Christians are bound only by the New Testament …”

      No biblical requirement for the death penalty for murder then.

      • Anton

        That you suppose the New Testament is about what laws should be in place shows how confused you are.

        Parts of Mosaic Law are good precedent for those Christians, who by grace of God are in a position to influence the laws of their lands, to argue for. But don’t forget your brothers in Christ in China and North Korea where they are in no such position. There they simply live the gospel and often suffer for it.

        • Watchman

          The Law was given to the Jews for their observance and gentiles have never been subject to them. I once asked a messianic Jew what his community would think of Christians who tried to keep the Torah. After a slight pause he said “They would think they were weird”.
          The rabbis have drawn up the Noahide laws, those given to all mankind and taken from the random instructions given to Noah before the Abrahamic Covenant. These are seven in all. If a gentile want some laws to keep these are the ones! However, if you are born again don’t worry, through Jeremiah we are told that the law is written on our hearts.

          • IanCad

            Oh Dear!! Throw out the Ten Commandments shall we?

          • Watchman

            Is there something erroneous in my post? At what point do you think gentiles were subject to the law? We seem to have adopted them, quite unnecessarily when we discovered that our salvation came from the Jews and by the time we had our salvation we were not subject to them anyway.

          • IanCad

            Perhaps I’m reading into your post something that isn’t there.
            Article XII in the BCP is pretty much the generally accepted Christian position regarding the law.
            Edited:
            “The Old Testament is not contrary to the New —- Although the law given from God to Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men —-yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.”

          • Watchman

            Now who do I believe, the BCP or the New Testament writings on the status of the law. The 10 Commandments have provided us with a good framework for criminal law and are still a good guide for conduct. It is interesting, however, how our culture has downgraded these commandments on the basis that they are a bit inconvenient and we now know better. Covertousness is seen as absolutely essential to Mr Corbyn’s ambitions and theft is widely practiced by governments.

          • IanCad

            I do believe Mr. Watchman that you are on dodgy ground.

            The words of Our Saviour testify thus:

            “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
            John 14:15

            “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”
            1 John 5:3

            “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
            Rev. 14:12

          • Anton

            but which commandments? What and whence your principles for deciding that we do need to keep from adultery but do not need to take animals to Jerusalem for slaughter?

          • IanCad

            Because of the clear distinction between the Moral law (Ten Commandments) written by God on tablets of stone, and the Mosaic Ceremonial Laws (the handwriting of ordinances) written by Moses.

          • Anton

            The categorisation of the Laws of Moses into moral, ceremonial and civic/judicial is one that I go along with, but it subdivides the Ten Commandments too. ‘Moral law’ means the laws governing interpersonal relations. The Ten Commandments are the paragraph headings for the rest of Mosaic Law. They were given to Moses and they are part of Mosaic Law, not above it.

          • IanCad

            If they (The Decalogue) are valid today and the ceremonial law is abolished then I fail to see how they are not the superior code.

          • Anton

            Please see the extended reply I have just posted to John Thomson below which addresses (among other things) this exact point.

          • IanCad

            Got it Anton.
            Big day for you tomorrow with your presentation. Get plenty of sleep and I hope you receive a positive response.

          • Anton

            Thank you Ian! The hard work was done in preparing the questions; I don’t view a 2-minute talk to the congregation I am part of as a big deal, and knowing them as I do I am sure that the take-up rate will be good.

          • But ian, as I point out above, when Paul in Romans 7 says the believer is free from the law, the one ‘law’ he cites comes from the Decalogue.

            The laws written on tablets of stone are the very heart of the Mosaic Covenant and are Integral to what the Christian is not under. The laws on tablets of stone belong to the old covenant that is sub-Christian and has passed away.

            (NIV) 7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

            The new covenant replaces the old covenant, and specifically, the Ten Words.

          • Watchman

            Ian, I have looked at your references and looked at them in context. The commands of Jesus are the various things he commanded his disciples to do during his ministry on earth. Somebody has helpfully listed 49 of them:
            http://iblp.org/questions/what-are-commands-christ.
            As the second reference is by the same author as the first it is fair to say that he was referring to the same commands as in the first reference.
            The last reference is about the period of the tribulation and meant as encouragement to those being faithful during that time. These do not seem to have the common theme of Mosaic law.

            Roman chapter 7, Galatians 3-5 and this bit from Paul’s letter to Timothy are all helpful in outlining Paul’s position:
            1 Timothy 1:8-10 HCSB
            “But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately. We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching.”
            If you are born again the atonement has made you righteous and the law has no power over you.

            In mentioning the Ten Commandments Paul list some of them but stops and almost dismissively mentions the rest because to the righteous they have been superseded by another command which acts as an umbrella.
            Romans 13:8-10 HCSB
            ” Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and whatever other commandment-all are summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”

          • IanCad

            Within the opening paragraph of your link is the clear instruction to keep the Commandments – if you love Him.
            And – a little further down – we are told to Honour God’s Law, supported by a quote from Matthew 5:17.
            There is, nowhere in the Bible, any passage to support the abrogation of the Law of God – the Ten Commandments.
            Much confusion results from the conflating of the Mosaic Law with the Moral Law.

          • Watchman

            Matthew 5:17-20 HCSB
            “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
            I presume this is the passage to which you are referring. Jesus was talking before His death and resurrection and emphasising the law under which they lived. One of the ways in which Jesus fulfilled the law is that He fulfilled the penalty of the Law for us by His death on the cross, taking the penalty we deserved. The law still stands but by fulfilling the penalty of the law Jésus freed us from that penalty ourselves in one act of submission to the will of the Father.

            The coming of the Holy Spirit also fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah
            Jeremiah 31:31-34 HCSB
            “Look, the days are coming”-this is the LORD’s declaration-“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-a covenant they broke even though I had married them”-the LORD’s declaration. Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”-the LORD’s declaration. “I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them”-this is the LORD’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.”

            The salient bit of this prophecy is, of course that “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts” so that we would know what was right and wrong. Although the law stands we now have the Holy Spirit to guide us, not the law.

          • IanCad

            I’m not so sure we’re too far apart here – if at all. A couple of points though; We are under grace for the sins (transgression of the law) we have done. We have no license to keep disregarding the law, although, in His mercy, with our contrition, those sins may be blotted out in the Judgement. Secondly, I would say that as the law stands the Holy Spirit guides us in the way of keeping the established, immutable law of God.

            “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:27

          • Watchman

            I don’t think we are too far apart. As Paul said
            Romans 6:1-4 HCSB
            ” What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.”

            I think the point at which we may differ is the retationship between the gentiles and the law. My contention is, and it is probably a pedantic one is that as gentiles we were never subject to the law because apart from being made in God’s image He did not define a relationship with us or give us any explicit guidance. The word “Sabbath” means cease or interrupt and seems to me that God rested on the seventh day ( not that He needed to ) in order to give us a day which he declared holy when work had to cease. (Gen 2:3) It wasn’t until the Mosaic law that the seventh day was explicity written into law and called the Sabbath. I find it interesting that some Christians use that day for one of prescribed frantic activity! The whole world runs on a seven day week and should we look to all the evolutionists to tell us how that happened?
            .

          • But Ian, Christ’s ommandments for John are not the Mosaic covenant, in part or in whole. In fact for John the commandment is clear, it is that you love one another. Read John’s gospel and letters the idea of the Mosaic covenant as Jesus’ Commandments is foreign to his reasoning. You are injecting your own theological suppositions rather than reading out of John what he actually says.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Right. As for ” ‘adultery, lies, false gods, putting government supervisors in place of ‘father & mother’ ” Hey-ho.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Oh – euSSR law takes precedence, surely? Not to worry, then . . .

          • Chefofsinners

            They are all repeated in the New Testament, except for ‘keep the Sabbath day’.

          • IanCad

            Christ observed the Sabbath, He defined its keeping, He rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day. He is our pattern.

            “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18

            “And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56

            Now tell me Chef; Where in the Bible does it say the Sabbath shall be changed? Is God’s Law not immutable?

          • Watchman

            The evidence is that the early Church from the beginning met on Sunday
            Acts 20:7 HCSB
            “On the first day of the week, we assembled to break bread. Paul spoke to them, and since he was about to depart the next day, he extended his message until midnight.” and
            1 Corinthians 16:2 HCSB
            “On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he prospers, so that no collections will need to be made when I come.”
            Jesus kept the Sabbath because he was an observant Jew but the law was fulfilled on His crucifixion and resurrection so the law on the Sabbath didn’t apply.

          • IanCad

            It is a huge stretch to infer from those texts any instruction to change the Sabbath commandment from the Seventh Day to the day of the sun.

          • Watchman

            It wasn’t the day of the sun. It was the first day of the week. In the very early days of the church the apostles and elders wrote a letter to the gentile Christians:
            Acts 15:28-29 HCSB
            “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision-and ours-to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things. Farewell.”

            Please note that no other requirement of the law was mentioned, not even the Sabbath. As gentiles would not have any working knowledge of Jewish law don’t you think they would have mentioned the Sabbath had it been important?

          • IanCad

            I must again emphasize the clear difference between the eternal law of God and the temporary Mosaic law. Your quoted passage relates only to the latter.

          • Watchman

            What knowledge would the gentiles have of the eternal law of God and when was it given to them? Most of the early gentile church would have had knowledge of, and even worshipped the Greek and Roman gods and were introduced to the one true God by the preaching of the apostles. What knowledge would they have needed in order to lead good Christian lives. They obviously had the Holy Spirit but must have been very excited to receive the Pauline letters as encouragement and correction. Nowhere can I trace, in Paul’s letters any instruction in keeping the Sabbath or any other “eternal law of God”. Was this Paul’s oversight?

          • Ian you are making a distinction Scripture does not make. Nowhere does it say the Decalogue represents what is eternal while the other parts of the law represent what is temporary. It always treats the covenant, Decalogue and the rest as one complete indivisible whole. It is one covenant. You are creating a theological distinction that Scripture doesn’t make.

            I am not too happy even with the notion of speaking of eternal laws. How can the sabbath be eternal when before the world was created there was no sabbath. And how can coveting a neighbours wife be eternal when in the new creation there will be no marriage. Laws apply to times and situations that exist and only while they exist.

          • Any more than Saturday was the day of Saturn.

          • Do I take it ian you are a form of seventh day Adventist?

          • IanCad

            Yes. Although, in form, not a very good one, something to do with my Scots ancestry no doubt. Very hard to turn the other cheek, and meekness is not my strong point.

          • I used to read a magazine published by Jon Zens, an Adventist who was struggling with Adventist views re covenants. This was 30 years ago. He was excellent then though now he has bought into egalitarianism too much for my liking. This article is worth reading.

            http://www.searchingtogether.org/articles/zens/covenant.htm

          • God’s law declared some foods unclean and Christ changed this. Is Christ breaking God’s law? God is immutable his laws are not. Some laws were to a specific people for a specific purpose and period.

          • Watchman

            Could you give a reference please?

          • Anna

            The problem with the seven Noahide laws for gentiles (specified by certain Jewish Rabbis) is that few gentile communities have ever heard of them, and a just God will not hold them accountable for not obeying laws they know nothing of. They are not in the Bible, so I would question their validity. If the New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant, it must logically have replaced the Noahide covenant for the gentiles.

          • Manfarang

            The Jerusalem Quadrilateral. Acts 15:20

          • Watchman

            Totally agree, Anna, my remark was tongue in cheek because I do not believe that we are bound by Mosaic law, gentiles never were and when we accepted Jesus as sacrifice for our sins even less so.

            The reformation never went far enough and we still carry with Romish heresies.

            Romans 2:12-15 HCSB
            [12] All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law. [13] For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous. [14] So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. [15] They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them

        • Previously you’ve always relied on Genesis mandating the death penalty for murder. Now you’re claiming it’s a precedent.

          • Anton

            If you want it in full detail, the death penalty for murder is a direct command of God to all mankind in Genesis 9, never modified. But that does not mean Christians are to take the law of their lands into their own hands and kill murderers where the State disobeys God. All of the Mosaic Laws governing interpersonal relations (the “moral” laws) are precedent that Christians who are able to influence the laws of their lands should argue for, because human nature hasn’t changed.

            There is a difference between the covenants with Noah and Moses such that, were I dictator, I’d enact capital punishment for murder against the will of my subjects if necessary, but not the Mosaic moral laws without some consensus.

            I didn’t bother to mention the covenant with Noah and capital punishment in my comment above as it was far from the topic of how to correct Piers Morgan. More on these subjects are below in my dialogue with Gregory Morris, if you care to read the biblical position further.

  • alternative_perspective

    “(26) with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. (27) For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.”

    It seems to me the UK is fully experiencing the second clauses of both these verses. God willing our slow motion collapse and disorder will bring about a common recognition of our crooked ways, that will breed repentance. And repentance: humility and humility: purity. We shall see.

  • David

    A courageous and very fair article Your Grace.
    As is so often seen on what now passes for television entertainment, deep seated ignorance of the beliefs and practices of even the major faiths is the order of the day.
    I come across so many people, proud of their formal education which lasted into their twenties, but possessing far less knowledge and understanding of faith and related subjects than my yeoman stock grandparents, who although they left school at fourteen, continued reading and educating themselves all their lives. Truly we live in age of affluent ignorance.
    Robinson by contrast seems to have a good working knowledge of Islam, and perhaps this is why the establishment are terrified of him speaking.

    • Watchman

      We live in an information overload generation where soundbites are used as an alternate to knowledge so that everyone can pretend they are knowledgeable. The lib/left are masters of the soundbite which are effective because they appeal to emotion rather than cognition. Mr Corbyn has been very successful using soundbites even though they are meaningless and empty.

      If anyone ever accuses me of being religious I use it as an opportunity to educate them on the fall of man and his redemption; so restoring the relationship with our Creator.

      • David

        I agree, and you have a good strategy.

    • alternative_perspective

      I did my initial teacher training in a catholic, primary school in a poor, mining town in Yorkshire. What I noticed was that these children having been raised in a culture of contemplation were able to pause and reflect on the world around them and events with great maturity.
      I completed my newly qualified teacher year in a typical, secular, state school in a far more prosperous area than the former. Although they were generally better “educated” they were unable to pause and reflect. Contemplation was not a characteristic of their education or competencies.
      What I realised was that the former group although poor were better able to think critically about the data and information they received from without. The latter group however reacted in accordance with their education, which in many ways is little more than programming.
      We live in a country where the vast majority of people react similarly in accordance with their cultural programming. They are unaware of the assumptions and beliefs underpinning their perspectives, many of which are mutually contradictory. And so it appears quite rational, to them, to criticise Scientology in an offensive manner and condemn others for doing the same to Islam.
      Education has not enlightened the masses but has made us more productive automatons. We have all been made, to various extents, Uncle Tom’s of our cultures, of our assumptions and biases.

      • David

        An interesting observation based on your real world experience. I agree with your conclusions.

    • Damaris Tighe

      There was a wonderful moment when Tommy Robinson was ambushed during an interview on Al Jazeera. Some violent religious quotes were read out (some Koranic, some from the OT, but none attributed) and he was asked for a response. Without hesitation TR said ‘I’d ask you why you’re reading the OT to me’. A complete underestimation of TR in evidence.

    • IanCad

      I’ve heard a couple of interviews with TR, and to me, he comes across as sincere, well informed and dignified.

    • Anna

      Robinson appeared to be more erudite than the other two. A pity that he was mocked and derided, not just for his past but for opinions which were based on knowledge, by two ignorant interviewers.

  • ‘There are many more violent paragraphs in the Bible’

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. Under the headline, ‘Islam is the most warlike religion’, Jyllands-Posten reported in 2005 that a Danish linguist had ‘analysed the basic texts of ten religions for three years’.

    She is quoted as saying: ‘The texts of Islam are clearly distinct from the texts of other religions in that they contain more calls for violence and aggression towards other faiths. There are also direct incitements to terror. This has long been taboo in Islam research, but it is a fact we have to acknowledge…If it is true that many Muslims view the Qur’an as God’s own words that cannot be interpreted or rephrased, we have a problem. It is indisputable that the texts encourage violence and terror.’

    • alternative_perspective

      Of course there are more violent verses in the Bible, its a far longer booker. And by comparison there are even more descriptions of violence in a history of the Hundred Years Wars. One however would not refrain from reading the latter on this account and for similar reasons one should not refrain from reading the Bible.
      What matters is the “quality” of the textual descriptions of violence. As per the historical records of the Hundred Years Wars, the Bible is replete with records of criminal acts and battles. Most of which the Bible condemns. The Koran however is not a historical account of thousands of years of history, as per the Bible, but rather is a biography of Mohammad and his sayings. The two texts are qualitatively different in large part and so should be read and understood differently.
      Unfortunately, as others have pointed out, we have exchanged knowledge for sound-bites and reason with feeling. There is very little space for the Bible in a world restricted to 144 characters.

      • Anton

        Tough questions can easily be asked in 144 characters.

        • alternative_perspective

          But reasonable answers can’t.

          • MoofBongo

            You’re right, reasonable answers can’t be asked.

      • Sybaseguru

        It would only require 3500 tweets to quote the whole bible! How about all Christians world wide agreeing to tweet a verse each at 12 noon GMT on say Easter Day. We could flood the twittersphere.

  • Theophilus

    Excellent article!
    I once passed a meeting hall of scientology on the way to a concert with a companion, and we had this conversation, not with the knowledge of scientology, though islam, and came to the same conclusions why one is able to be denounced, the other not!

    Of course, Piers Morgan’s, there are more violent verses in the Bible is silly, because it leaps over the fact the koran’s verses (unlike the Bible’s) are open-ended, call for violence of its true believers to leap to paradise. Those verses are not abrogated too; I always think of the particularly “special” sword verse.

    • Dreadnaught

      The Jews and Christians do not re-enact or act upon the violence described in their books.

      • Theophilus

        Yes, truly, I agree. The Bible describes events that may have happened in the past, doesn’t it? Violent episodes and conflicts. To my knowledge, there’s no such thing like such “magnificence” as in the Sword verse in the Bible, which the defenders of islam never quote as readily as they do the to kill a person is like they’ve killed the whole of humanity etc, stopping off at a critical juncture before it gets onto crucifixion and mutilation!

        • Damaris Tighe

          Also, the ‘to kill one person is to kill all of humanity’ verse is plagiarised from a Rabbinic saying – although the violent verses following (which cancel it out) are all ‘original’!

    • Scientologists don’t have “meeting halls”. Are you sure that you’re not confused with the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

      • Theophilus

        Hi, I know it was definitely related to Scientology so I checked and can confirm it was a “church of Scientology” that we went past that day on the way to the concert that stimulated our discussion.

      • Theophilus

        Hi, yes, I was sure, it was definitely related to Scientology, which stimulated the mentioned discussion, so checked.

        I can confirm it was and still is “a church of Scientology.”

  • Watchman

    Are we not giving enough acknowledgement to the fact that terrorism works, and the only way to deal with it is to cut it out at the root. I don’t know how to do that but am depressed by the fact that no one seems to want to address the issue apart from people like Douglas Murray and Melanie Phillips. Those from overseas like Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have been banned from our shores, the latter two by our current prime minister. We seem condemned to lead this schizophrenic existence until…..

    • Graham Wood

      “No one seems to want to address the issue apart from………”

      I do, and I have in a short, clear three point plan which addresses Islamic terrorism in the UK with needful and urgent action required of government.
      More details available if you are interested. grahamwood32@yahoo.co.uk

      • Dominic Stockford

        Dear Graham I think watchman means no-one that the media will listen to, or no-one with a public position of responsibility.

        • Graham Wood

          Thanks Dominic. Point taken, and more is the pity. Is it fear of reprisals and threats from violent Moslems, or more like fear of standing up publicly to declare openly that violent Jihadism is entirely incompatible with our democracy , way of life, and what is left of our Christian values? Probably both.

          • tiger

            i.e. terror has won. The State, MSM and assorted authorities are terrified to critise the religion of Islam because of the violent reaction that might ensue.
            An example; a few years back C4 aired a video on Rude Tube mocking Christ at Christmas. I wrote to C4 and acknowledging their right to mock Christ and Christians during this particular religious period. I invited them to air a similar video mocking Islam during Ramadan or Eid. Their reply was an apology for the offence but their right to offend me and fellow Christians. However to offend Muslims might endanger their staff and the wider community.
            Says it all really.

          • Notforinfants

            Tiger. Thanks for your comment and yes others have made the same point, namely that when it comes to even mild criticism of Islam, let alone facing down its murderous ideology, then their “courage” evaporates. What hypocrites!
            I take it as typical of C4 although I have never watched it, but assume it would be an example of the deep bias of the BBC in contradiction of its charter.
            Yes Christ is indeed endlessly opposed by many enemies, patronised, and mocked in the house of his “friends”, ad nauseam. As he predicted; “If the world hate you know that you know that it hated me before it hated you (Jn.15:18)
            I agree with you that the reason for the silence towards Islam is sinister, and definitely because of the violent reaction that would most definitely ensue.
            IMO it is now required for a re-assertion of the judicial, legal, and in the last resort the military, power of the State to be exercised as Paul argues in Romans 13.
            I have expanded this latter theme a bit further in a short article proposing three responses to militant Islam.

      • Watchman

        Graham, thank you for the offer. I do, however, believe that the rest of His Grace’s may be interested. How about post them here?

        • Graham Wood

          Watchman. Thanks for your interest. It’s a short 3 point article, admittedly controversial, but IMO the only effective solution.
          A bit too long to post on Cranny’s blog as it’s a Word doc.
          Graham

          • Watchman

            Thanks, I’ll be in touch. Perhaps, you should ask His Grace if he would like to post it as a daily offering!

    • Mark

      Not sure if you spotted what happened a few days back on the BBC. Two people who speak and write tough on Islamist extremism, Douglas Murray and Maajid Nawaz, were effectively defamed on the BBC, without being present.
      Someone in an interview, called Nawaz a “hate preacher”. The BBC subsequently apologised.
      On the Daily Politics, a Muslim Council of Britain railed against Douglas Murray’s “hate” and equated to “far-right extremism”. The host didn’t even do the usual “not here to defend himself”, but ran with it. The next day, they re-covered this, but with a guest from Murray’s Henry Jackson Society on to do the defence. There was no apology from the BBC, and the same host kept pushing the same narrative.
      Some have been using the Finsbury Park attack as an opportunity to shutdown some of the best talkers we have on the subject of extremism.

      • Watchman

        I find the Finsbury Park incident particularly sinister. It is as though they were waiting for an incident, any incident to which to overreact. The police, the Islamists and the government leapt on it as an opportunity to claim that terrorism is not just Islamic, and as you say, shut down anybody who doesn’t want to sing to their tune. The “terrorist” was a mentally ill Welshman who should have our sympathy rather than our approbation.

        • Anna

          Well said.

    • IanCad

      It is shocking who we let in and who we ban from entry. The worst example in my book is the banning of talk host Michael Savage. Ridiculous that in a country supposedly wedded to the principle of free speech he should be on the blacklist. For his mostly good sense and spontaneity he is hard to beat.

      Here’s a link to his broadcasts:

      http://conservativestream.com/recorded-shows/savage.php

      • Watchman

        Thanks, Ian

    • Martin

      Actually the way to deal with terrorism is the gospel.

      • Watchman

        That’s very difficult to disagree with, Martin; but it looks a bit like Saul looking for a champion to defeat Goliath!

        • Martin

          And he found one.

  • Mark

    A superb new angle of spotting the hypocrisy in that interview. I had wondered why Robinson was pushing “like Scientology?” at Morgan.

    It’s a better example than the one I ran with, which was:
    Man on tele says there is lots of violence in the koran – gets told he cannot say that and is called an “Islamophobe”.
    Other man on tele counters him by saying there is much more violence in the bible (it is a much longer book after all) – and is totally free to do so, and had no insulting name sent his way.

    This “what about the bible?” comeback, when someone is making their own explanation of why we are currently getting Jihadi extremism, is missing the point of religious morphing over centuries – dumping ideas, turning many (from the book) into metaphor etc, while the koran is still considered to be “perfect” and “current for all time”.

    What Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid ultimately did, was to prop up a de facto Islamic blasphemy law that some have unwittingly thrust upon us.

    • Dreadnaught

      Sub ignorantly for unwittingly and you have it.

    • betteroffoutofit

      Plus … the ones who are blaming the Bible are supporting the people who are practicing violence by invading Judaeo-Christian countries. All the chit-chat just diverts our energy away from addressing that fact.

    • There are plenty of Christians who consider the Bible to be “perfect” and “current for all time”. (Even those Old Testament parts that aren’t supposed to apply any more.)

      • Such as?

        • Look in the US Bible Belt. You’ll find plenty.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            But not, I think, in Shropshire…

          • #ROFLHAO*
            That must be the most hilarious comment on His Grace’s blog in 11yrs 3mnths. Bless you hugely, Mrs P.
            *Rolling on floor laughing his ashes off

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Too kind, Your Grace

          • You made the assertion – substantiate it. What parts of the Old Testament no longer apply?

          • Cressida de Nova

            Lots. When you hear God’s voice commanding you to kill your son,get yourself to the emergency dept of the hospital pronto !

          • Jack has explained all that, Cressie. It was a test of faith. Of course, nowadays, if it happened, it would be a auditory hallucination. Len will all know about this.

          • Chefofsinners

            The Levitical offerings.

          • Anton

            And all of the Mosaic laws enforcing religion.

            The Mosaic laws governing interpersonal relations (“moral” laws), and only those, remain divinely inspired precedent for wise gentile nations today; because human nature hasn’t changed. Not that there are many wise gentile nations today…

          • Martin

            Cressida

            So you are saying that God doesn’t provide new revelation, like Mary is claimed to have done to some girls?

          • Is that a serious question or are you just trolling?
            http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_OldTestamentLaw.htm

          • Serious question which you are not answering.

            As the article you linked to states: “Jesus did not abolish the moral and ethical laws that had been in effect from the time of Moses.”

            So which Old Testament parts aren’t supposed to apply any more?

          • Nice superficial glance at the page.

  • John Waller

    Much mischief is caused by the conflation of the two very different notions “respect” & “tolerance.”
    To respect something implies a degree of admiration and so Christians ought never to respect false religion. In a free society we do however tolerate it. We respect the holders of false doctrines as creatures made in the image of God but we only tolerate the doctrines they hold.
    Separating these two concepts fosters social harmony whilst still allowing intellectual freedom.

  • David

    In respect of violence, the essential difference between Islam and the Jewish and Christian faiths is this.
    Christians need only be advised by the NT. The Hebrew Bible, or OT as Christians name it, points forward to the NT. Where wars and violence are described in the OT they are dealt with as history, specific events that have occurred. Nowhere are acts of violence upheld as a moral good, virtuous acts, but are seen as necessary acts of war. There is no encouragement to wage war to further the two faiths.
    In sharp contrast the Islamic Scriptures present violence as a godly means to further Islam. Believers in all ages, including our own, are urged to bring violence onto the heads of unbelievers.
    The contrast is total. Yet such is the deep and wilful ignorance of many today that they attempt to argue that similarities exist – they don’t !

    • Mark

      The “What about the bible eh?” rebuke has me throwing things at the tele/radio/PC every time I hear it, for the reasons you state.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes indeed. Nowhere in the Bible are all Christians generically commanded to subjugate or murder all those who aren’t Christian. This can be fitted into a twitter character limit, I have done it a couple of times in conversations. It tends to end them!

        • MoofBongo

          Maybe not for the reason you think.

        • It’s interesting how people are willing to take the ‘violent’ parts of the Bible literally, but not the bits about Jesus being God…

          • MoofBongo

            Do you not think that people point out the violence in the Bible because it contradicts the peaceful image of Christianity, rather than because they think it’s literally true?

          • I’m sure that kind of theological illiteracy exists, yes.

          • Anton

            Of course it’s literally true. it is from the era when God was running a nation with borders and a code of law, not a church of people called out from their nations yet still living in them.

          • Manfarang

            Son of man

          • That’s very flattering, but you have the wrong person.

          • Manfarang

            You are sonny.

      • It shows a deep misunderstanding of the relationship of Christians and Muslims to their respective holy books. For Christians, Scripture points to Christ, the Living Word (which is why most Christians, KJV purists aside, will happily use different translations). For Muslims, the Quran *is* their “living word”, which is why they’re so defensive about its textual integrity.

        The violent passages in the Bible are either historical reports of battles, angry laments (such as the psalm about dashing babies – there’s no indication God approves of this!) or are OT penal codes which were necessary in such a harsh world (and were still more reasonable than those societies around them) and have been replaced by the New Testament law through Christ. Nowhere does Christ command violence. On the other hand, the passages in the Quran are normative.

    • Sarky

      And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

      Is revelation not part of the new testament?? Is this violence not against non Christians???

      • David

        You’ll find nothing in Revelations urging Christians to spread their faith through violence.

        • MoofBongo

          Where did they get the idea then?

          • Watchman

            From the ambitions of unscrupulous men who saw the church as an opportunity to wield power. Violence has absolutely nothing to do with the followers of Jesus. Everything he commanded us to do involved loving God and even our enemies.

          • Rather the enmeshment of Christianity with politics. Not wrong in itself but it meant social stability and security, based on Christian principles, rendered attacks on what was perceived to be orthodox faith an attack on the state and so heresy was tantamount to sedition and treason.

          • Anton

            Trouble is, who defines heresy?

            Christ said that where people did not accept the message they were to be left alone.

          • The Church defines heresy. The State determines what to do about it.

          • Anton

            All very cosy until it becomes apparent after printing is invented and people can see for themselves that the church departed from the Bible.

          • That’s a matter of dispute.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Not at all. Moses would have anyone who venerated the brass serpent stoned. Veneration is no different to worship.

          • Don’t so silly. Showing deep respect is not the same as adoration.

          • Martin

            HJ

            It is not respect to make statues of a fellow sinner, to make up fairy stories about them and ascribe to them powers that are God’s alone. That is worship and veneration.

          • Wot Cressida said above.

          • Martin

            HJ

            It isn’t shown. But it was probably wrong.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Same old argument Jack. Don’t waste your time.Protestants are convinced that Catholics worship plaster statues regardless of the fact that it is a sin to worship idols. They are clutching at straws combing through the OT …any excuse to justify their heresy.

          • Martin

            Cressida

            So what do you do with them, when you dress them up and carry them around at festivals?

          • Glastonbury?

          • Martin
          • Jack isn’t sure thinking protestants actually believe this. It’s on the level of a “yah-boo” comment from the likes of Martin. Playground stuff.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The churches in Revelation didn’t define heresy, some even became heretical and condemned by Christ, just like the church of Rome.

          • Christ established the Catholic Church – it is one, universal Church. It’s your cult that is objectively heretical and stands condemned.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Christ created His Church, Rome seceded from it and chose to take sides with the state against Christ’s Church.

          • An impossibility and a contradiction of the plain words of scripture.

          • Anton

            An historical fact, and which words of scripture?

          • Not a “fact” – a self justifying narrative.

            “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

            And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

          • Anton

            Where do those verses supposedly guarantee inerrancy of church doctrine?

          • That’s obvious ….

          • Watchman

            Not to me it isn’t.

          • Watchman

            Jack, the rock Jesus was talking about was himself.

            1 Corinthians 10:3-4 HCSB
            ” They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.”
            And from Peter himself
            1 Peter 2:7-8 HCSB
            ” So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected- this One has become the cornerstone, and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            Fact, Rome persecuted Christ’s Church.

          • Spurious opinion.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Fact, you are part of an organisation whose abuse of children was vastly dwarfed by its persecution of God’s Church. You are kin to Nero.

          • CliveM

            Martin

            You seem to be someone that is full of hate and anger. There is no love in you. One can only conclude therefore that you have never met Jesus. Cast of your arrogance. Abandon your hatred. Embrace salvation that can only be found through the Cross of our Lord. It’s not too late. Even you, vile sinner that you are, can abandon the wide road of death and fallow the narrow path of salvation.

            And on this new path, let 1 Corinthians 13, be the lamp to guide you to Christ.

            Blessings.

          • Anton

            You can’t possibly know that without knowing him personally. I see no hatred of persons but only of a particular belief system that is part-Christian and part not.

          • CliveM

            When evidence presents itself to the contrary I’ll reconsider. Currently it’s lacking.

          • Anton

            You have no evidence for that proposition, I think. Five minutes over a beer tells you more about a person than 50 pages of their writing.

          • CliveM

            Well I wouldn’t argue with your last sentence.

          • Martin

            Clive

            What angers me is the hiding of the gospel by those who proclaim themselves to be Christians. Rome is such a one.

          • Anton

            The scriptural criteria for who is Christ’s church suggest otherwise.

          • The Church is both a visible organisation and a spiritual communion. Christ established a visible and authoritative Church.

          • Anton

            Spiritually authoritative, yes.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Historical fact.

          • Martin

            HJ

            And there lies the problem, sacralism meant that the state demanded loyalty to its religion and persecuted anyone who failed to comply, just like Nero.

          • Given the Monarch was believed to rule in the name of God and obtain his authority from Him, endorsed via his Coronation by the Church, it’s hardly surprising. What the State demanded was loyalty and no open assault on Christianity because it drew its legitimacy from the Church.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The state does not derive legitimacy from the Church, or any church. God appoints who will rule for good or ill, and judges them accordingly. The Church of Christ is not involved except to ask God for His blessing on rulers. The state has no say in Christ’s Church, except that it has the duty to allow the Church to go about its duty peaceably.

          • Not too aware of history, are you?

          • Anton

            You fell for it… he is implicitly raising the question of who is Christ’s church.

          • Martin

            HJ

            History proves I am right.

          • Anton

            Constantine?

        • Sarky

          Bit late by then isn’t it?

          Although you could argue that the crucifiction was an act of violence and that christianity has spread through this act.

      • IrishNeanderthal

        It is not urging Christians to be violent against non-Christians. Rather, it is set as the self-inflicted result of violence against Christians by non-Christians.

        To some extent, it reads much more like a science fiction apocalypse (in the modern sense of the word).

  • Dominic Stockford

    Orthodox christian teaching accepts the Bible teaching which says that we can only enter eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9]

    It also teaches that anything that leads away from God is ‘ungodly’, and anything ungodly and leading away from the Truth of God must be evil (there is no neutral, ideas and teachings either lead to God or away). Thus we see in the Bible the clear teaching that all other religions are false religions, precisely because they point away from God (and therefore away from Jesus Christ).

    Therefore all non-Christian religions are manifestations of ungodliness, and are, in theological terms (not the foolish worldly re-definitions of such a word) evil. That leaves us needing to be clear, Islam is evil, Hinduism is evil, Buddhism is evil, Confucianism is evil, Scientology is evil, Jehovah’s Witnessing is evil, Mormonism is evil, secularism is evil, humanism is evil, and so on and on, because they all lead people away from eternal life with God, which is only to be found through Jesus Christ. And we find that in the Bible.

    “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 1:9-11

    • Martin

      Excellent, one wonders why His Grace thinks that “calling someone’s faith a ‘evil cult’ is, well, a bit rude, not to say intolerant and disrespectful”.

    • And Judaism?

  • andrew

    Exegesis exegesis and hermeneutics!!! The two words Muslims AND atheists alike fear!! I wish Christians would realise this.

    • Sarky

      Why would we fear ‘interpretation’? It actually aids us.

    • MoofBongo

      Indeed, very scary.

    • Chefofsinners

      That’s three words.

      • Exegesis exegesis, hermeneutics hermeneutics.
        That’s four for you.

        • Maalaistollo

          BOGOF?

        • Chefofsinners

          I prefer Brexegesis.
          Linus prefers homonitwits.

  • Linus

    Exegesis and hermeneutics. Two words Atheists fear only in the way one fears any imprecation shouted at one by a religious froot-loop. One doesn’t fear the words, but the hatred, anger and mental illness they betray certainly send a shiver down the spine.

    Many lucky Atheists having grown up well away from the pseudo-science of religion may never have heard these terms. To help them, here are some broad definitions:

    Exegesis: lame-arsed, arbitrary and totally unproven arguments used by deluded religionists to support and justify their batshit crazy fairytales.

    Hermeneutics: lame-arsed, arbitrary and utterly unwarranted principles used to support the former.

    • Chefofsinners

      Religion is not a pseudo-science. It deals with the exceptions which occur when God suspends the ‘laws’ of science, and with matters of greater significance than science can scan.
      If you had said that science was a pseudo-religion then you would be on to something.

      • Linus

        I suppose that, strictly speaking, the real pseudo-science is theology rather than religion.

        Religion is the pathological behaviour that results from believing the erroneous assumptions and downright foolishness of theological musings and fantasies.

        • Chefofsinners

          In a way you’re right – theology is not a science. It is the study of God, who is unsearchable, beyond finding out and will never fit into a human mind, a text book or any other thing in His creation.
          And yet man is drawn to that which is his beginning and his end, and those who truly seek God shall surely find Him.

          • Linus

            “Theology … is the study of god, who is … beyond finding out…”

            Says it all really.

            If you cannot know god then all study of him is futile.

            If you continue to try to study him, you reveal more about yourself than you do about him.

            In effect you show yourself to be obsessed with an arbitrary and self-invented idea of perfection. Trying to formalise that idea and write it down is a way of imposing it on other people.

            In other words, theologists are ego-centric control freaks. They create a god who resembles them and then try to force others to obey him with threats of eternal punishment as an incentive.

          • Chefofsinners

            God is knowable in part, but no-one can fully know Him. Logically, if God exists, then that must be true. The created cannot fully know the creator any more than a baby can fully know it’s parent. Yet there is knowledge, and as the knowledge grows, love grows. If you have a desire for God, He will not hide Himself from you.

          • Linus

            Of course I have no desire for the Christian god.

            Who can desire a narcissistic, homophobic psychopath? Another narcissistic, homophobic psychopath perhaps. That would explain the psychological profile of so many Christians. But when it comes to sane people, we try to avoid crazed bigots. They tend to be rather unpleasant to deal with.

            Of course, my likes and dislikes have no bearing on whether something exists. I dislike Christians, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I have solid, incontrovertible proof that they do. I can’t make them disappear because I don’t like them.

            The same would be true of your god if he existed. No matter how appalled I might be by him, if I had any solid evidence that he was there, I wouldn’t be able to conjure him away.

            No such evidence exists. Just like no evidence exists for the existence of Orcs. Now I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t like Orcs if I met them, but this does not influence the fact that I don’t believe in them. My non-belief is based on the fact that Orcs are characters in a work of fantasy fiction.

            Just like god.

          • Chefofsinners

            Plentiful evidence for God exists, but as I have repeatedly agreed with you, proof is not given, certainly not before you choose to believe.
            If proof were given, then you would not be free to choose. But you are free. Free to consider the evidence and choose either to believe or not to believe. You have made your decision, I have made mine. You appear to resent my right to choose differently to you, but you can’t change that. You also appear to resent the fact that if you are wrong then there will be consequences, but you can’t change that either. Welcome to the human condition. Grow up and embrace it.

          • Linus

            You have a perfect right to delude yourself with your fairytales and myths. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone the right to behave like a willful child if that’s what he wants to do. But like all of us, you have to take responsibility for the consequences of your beliefs.

            One of those consequences is being ridiculed for your reliance on superstition rather than fact. You claim there is plentiful evidence for your sky pixie without ever stating what that evidence is. If goaded into citing an example, you’ll come out with a banal statement like “Beautiful sunsets and fluffy bunny rabbits prove that god exists” or something equally fatuous. The mechanism by which the refraction of sunlight and the morphology of rodents prove the existence of a sky pixie is never elucidated. We just have to accept that they do. Because you say so. And if we object, you stamp your foot and shriek about persecution.

            Evidence must withstand scrutiny. When it does not, dismissing it does not constitute the willful rejection of valid proof but rather the debunking of false or fraudulent claims. The decision I have made is to test every claim that comes before me and to reject those that quite simply do not stand up to scrutiny. The decision you have made is to accept the claims you like without testing them and to shout at anyone who dares to contradict you. What counts for you me is identifying the truth and respecting it. What counts for you is getting what you want.

            So who’s the child? Who needs to grow up? Who needs to realise that reality does not conform itself to our wishes but that we have to accept things as they are and live with them rather than constructing an infantile religious fantasy where a big Daddy god looks after us and protects us from harm?

            If there’s any growing up that needs to be done, it is you who needs to do it. Grow up and leave your childish fantasies behind. Or stay as you are and accept that you’ll be ridiculed for acting like a child. The choice is yours.

          • Chefofsinners

            Ridicule is just fine. I am not of the religion that issues fatwahs. Go ahead. You aren’t very good at it anyway.
            You continue to conflate evidence with proof. Evidence of God’s existence comes in various forms, particularly witness statements and creation. Proof is not available because it would remove freedom of choice. In any case, proof is also a subjective concept. Who gets to decide what constitutes proof? So if your heirloom turned up, you may regard it as proof but someone else might disagree with you. Suppose you then found out the mechanism by which God had brought it to you. You would then say ‘Aha! It wasn’t God, it was just coincidence. Now that I understand the mechanism, I see that God was not involved’. That is science.

          • Linus

            I do realise that cloth-headed stupidity is a prerequisite for Christian faith, but sometimes the demonstration of that fact can be quite surprising. It makes one wonder how you’ve been able to survive this long.

            Clearly you’ve lived a sheltered life. Had you been forced to fight for a living, lack of intelligence would have consigned you to a grisly death as soon as you were left to fend for yourself.

            The problem is this: you have no capacity for rational thought.

            Think about the following (if you can):

            There once was an angel called Lucifer. He lived with god and saw him every day. He therefore had incontrovertible proof of god’s existence. First-hand witness of his power and general fabulousness.

            Now according to you, this should have deprived Lucifer of free will. Faced with all that divine amazingness, he should have been incapable of falling. He should have been a mere worship machine with no choice but to praise and salaam God for all eternity.

            So how then do you explain his fall?

            God’s presence clearly does not negate free will. If it did, Lucifer would still be up there in heaven dancing attendance on your vain, high maintenance deity.

            So now you have a problem. Your entire faith is built on the premise that god must hide himself from us otherwise we would be deprived of free will. Now that I have absolutely and without question proved this to be false, your belief system must be crashing down in flames around your ears.

            As you stir beneath the fiery ruins and try to figure out whether it’s worth carrying on in a world where your big daddy god isn’t there to hold your ittle-wittle handsie-wandsie, do remember that it’s never too late to grow up. While you live, you can learn. Even such a one as you.

          • Chefofsinners

            This is not a question of stupidity but of humility. How do we react when we perceive a logical inconsistency in something that God tells us? Either accuse God in the court of our intellect, or trust that the problem is our inability to comprehend? It is our choice whether to exercise faith.

            In the specific case of Satan, we have some information. Angels are a different order of beings to us, far more powerful, and Lucifer seems to have been more glorious and powerful than the rest. Thus he was tempted to believe that he could be like the most high God – a temptation which could only afflict a supremely ignorant human.

          • Linus

            So if I translate what you’re saying from Christianese into English, what you mean is how willfully gullible can you persuade yourself to be? How blatant does the logical inconsistency have to be before your rational self rejects it?

            Christians have a word for the cognitive dissonance they experience as a result of the irrational ideas their faith forces them to hold. They call it “mystery”. It acts like a decorative cloth to drape over doubt and inconsistency so that you can pretend they don’t exist.

            You stated as the reason for god’s concealment a belief that his presence would invalidate our free will. I have demonstrated this to be false, as made clear by the case of Lucifer in your own holy book.

            You’re a Christian. You know the story of Lucifer. You know that god’s presence does not invalidate free will. To say that it does makes you either a liar, because you bear false witness in an attempt to achieve your ends, or a fool, because you knowingly set aside certain knowledge in favour of a “mystery” you know to be logically inconsistent.

            So which is it? Are you a lying knave or a simpering fool?

            I must admit, it’s difficult to tell.

          • Chefofsinners

            Proof, I said, is not available for two reasons. First because it would remove freewill and second, more importantly, because proof of an infinite God can never be comprehended by the mind of a finite being. Thus the requirement for faith is inevitable.
            It is not that God’s presence invalidates free will, of course it does not. The story of Eden is a better example than Lucifer. My point is central to both these stories: However much God reveals Himself, it does not necessarily lead to individuals choosing to love and obey Him. The question of whether you, I or anyone else believes in God is not the crucial question. It is whether we will choose Him over our selfish desires.

          • Linus

            God’s presence does not remove free will. The bible gives us at least two examples of this. If you continue to claim that it does, you’re contradicting your own holy book. This is a serious sin for a Christian, made all the more serious by your lack of repentance and your motives for sinning in the first place.

            Basically you can’t bear to be proved wrong by an unbeliever, so you’re sticking to your story, despite the incontrovertible proof of its falsehood, out of sheer pride and bloodymindedness.

            Pride, falsehood and disputing the truth of the bible, all topped off with hatred and contempt for the unbeliever who’s made such a fool of you. Such are your unrepentant sins.

            See you in hell, “Christian”. Your throat will be hoarse from all the shrieking of the Lord’s name that you do. Unfortunately he won’t be there to ease your pain. He doesn’t know you, just as you do not know him.

          • Chefofsinners

            You misunderstand me. I fully agree that God’s presence does not remove freewill. See that sentence: “It is not that God’s presence invalidates free will, of course it does not. ”
            I said that proof would invalidate free will. Proof being something which gave absolute certainty that God is what He claims to be: omnipotent, omniscient, Holy, love, good.
            Both Lucifer and Adam & Eve demonstrate that if God showed Himself to you, you would still have plenty of scope to choose not to love and serve Him.
            This is the exact point I began with. Jesus says “If someone rose from the dead they still would not believe.”

            Proof: not given. Evidence: lots given. Choose who you will serve.

    • Anton

      Score 50% Linus. The Bible needs no hermeneutics, just a knowledge of the meaning of words and occasionally of ancient Middle Eastern culture.

      • Written like a true protestant.

        • Anton

          Compliments, I can handle.

      • David

        Yes. Lack of knowledge of ME culture has led to a number of serious misunderstandings. It helps to read Scripture through the eyes of the original listeners, if you can. But words and verses mean what they say, just like our most excellent Common Law, soon to be paramount again.

        • Not forgetting the different written and types of literature of the inspired human authors. What’s literal, for example, and what’s simile, analogy and metaphor? What’s poetic and/or theological and what’s history?

          • Anton

            It’s generally obvious. Feel free to give an example where you think it isn’t.

          • Is it generally obvious?

            “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

            And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

            Jack thinks this is – do you?

            “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.

          • Anton

            Yes, they’re obvious, and readers may refer to previous discussions between you and me about them.

          • Yes, when read in conjunction with the rest of scripture, they are obvious to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

          • Anton

            But not to those with ears to see and eyes to hear.

          • len

            After this Peter was called Satan

            ‘Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’
            (Matthew 16.23)
            Are you claiming that too?.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Note, he says “You are Peter” but not “on you I will build” Why?

            And He doesn’t say “I give you the keys”, but “I will give you the keys”. Where are they given?

            Jesus also said to the Samaritan women that he’d give her living water. Is that literal too?

          • Watchman

            And from where do you deduce the apostolic succession?

      • Linus

        Many, if not most Christians disagree with you, but of course they are wrong and you are right, because you are always right, because you are … god.

        So now we’ve settled that, how about a miracle to prove my unbelief wrong? Something. Anything.

        Tell you what, if I wake up tomorrow morning and the precious and unique family heirloom that I lost in Japan 30 years ago is sitting on my nightstand, I’ll be forced to admit that I’m dealing with a miracle worker. I won’t tell you what it was because if you’re god, you already know, right?

        • Anton

          If you are genuinely interested in the issue of whether the Bible requires external hermeneutics to make sense of it, you should read the debates, form your own opinion, and take constructive part in it.

        • Chefofsinners

          Try to think. Where were you when you had it last?

          • What else did he lose 30 years ago in Japan?

          • Linus

            It wasn’t on my nightstand when I woke up, so once again, god performed no miracle and supplied no proof of his existence.

            And yet you claim I should believe in him … because he never does anything and never shows himself?

            Hmmm … in that case, I think I’ll start believing in Gandalf instead. He too has never performed a miracle and never supplied any proof of his existence, but as proof is of no consequence when it comes to religious belief and it’s all about what we want to be true, the idea of a gay wizard as god sounds much more appealing than your sexist, narcissistic homophobe.

            So tonight I’ll pray to Gandalf for the return of my lost heirloom. I’ll let you know if it turns up. Seems like the chances are just as good as with your fellow.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Linus,

      After reading all the comments, I am beginning to wonder if you are the glue that holds this community together.

      When you don’t turn up, they all start arguing among each other as if Tullius Detritus (Astérix, La Zizanie) had got in.

      • David

        So according to your theory Linus could be a plant by the International Council for Christian Ecumenicism, a sort of bogey man to unite our slightly squabbly groups ? Hhmm ! Personally I’ve more confidence in the “theory” of the reptilian shape-shifters than your suggestion, but top marks for providing us with an imaginative distraction for a Thursday evening.

        • He’s a tool – of the Lizards.

          • len

            He IS a lizard.

          • No …. he’s a tool.

          • len

            Lizard.

          • Jack has knowledge of Lizards and how they operate. Linus is a mere servant.

  • That’s a rubbish argument.

    Islamophobes always speak of Islam as if it were a single unified organization, and use sweeping generalizations and apply them to all Muslims. Islam is a sprawling thing with many sects, leaders and many differing beliefs, behaviours and interpretations accumulated over centuries.

    The Church of Scientology is a single small organization with a single leader and a very standardized set of rules. Criticizing the Church of Scientology would be more equivalent to criticism of Christian swindler Creeflo Dollar and his ministry.

    • The Koran is one book.

      • Well spotted! However, the interpretation of that one book isn’t uniform around the world, in various sects, and throughout history.

        • Anton

          Why do you assume it is varying interpretation of, rather than varying fidelity to, that book which is responsible for the diversity within Islam?

          Muslims have a definitive interpretation, in any case: Muhammad’s. Did he take jihad to mean ‘holy war’ or ‘spiritual effort’?

          • betteroffoutofit

            Look – I don’t care about “Islam” or it’s sick book. And I certainly don’t want it forcing on young people in my family.

            And I’m not exhibiting whatever they think they mean by the idiot frog-word ‘bigotry.’ Indeed, I’m not exhibiting anything they impute to me, because a) they’re not capable of figuring out anything I am b) they’re not capable of thinking.

            And how do I know I don’t care about mozzy guff? Well 45 years ago I heard we were all Abrahamic, so I went to a London mosque to try to learn what they were all about. I’d been a couple of times, but on the third visit they told me to get out. I must leave, as I was not one of them. I guess if it happened today they’d rape me first.

            Oh — and once, driving up from Southampton – I stopped on the M1 to refuel etc. As I looked round the convenience store for something, a group of them started stalking me. Now I was then about 55, modestly dressed, and obviously not in a mozzie area. (I escaped by locking myself in the loo for a long spell – trusting some official would have to call for help if they started wrecking the joint).

          • Anton

            Did you mean that for me or someone else? We are clearly in agreement.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Yes – supporting you. Had to log off in a rush, so didn’t finish properly 🙂

        • len

          Christianity suffered the same problem.

        • Dreadnaught

          But the largest – the Sunnis and the Shia are by far the largest and the most prone to extreme interpretations of the Koran and the Sharia codes of order.

    • Dreadnaught

      Nothing to worry about then … move along now.

      • It’s not all bunnies and unicorns. If you want to talk about the human rights problems in many Islamic countries, the lack of separation of church and state, etc, then that’s a meaningful discussion. It’s trying to cover all of Islam with the same blanket that doesn’t work.

        • betteroffoutofit

          So what about human rights problems in Islamic occupied territories like Britain? Are we allowe to discuss those?

        • Dreadnaught

          I am talking about what can be read in the Koran, Hadith and Sunnah. The core tenets of Islam that is common to all variations thereof. I can talk about Wahabbism, Salafism and more, all of which is wrapped in Arabic, an alien language to most Muslims and has to be learned and interpreted through an Imam.
          Chanting prayers parrot fashion is one thing, and that is your bunnies and unicorns, turn the page and you are being advised to hate Jews, Christians and Unbelievers. Throw gays off tall buildings. Behead those who insult Islam. Leave Islam and forfeit your right to live.
          This would make a very meaningful discussion – would you like to set the ball [or head] rolling?

  • Chefofsinners

    Big news. Piers Morgan is an obnoxious, hypocritical, slime-dwelling arse. Nothing could be more obvious in all journalism, even to the most casual observer.
    And yet he has 5.8 million ‘followers’? Surprising because it means there must be 5.8 million people who are even more stupid than he is.
    It just goes to show that people who don’t follow Christ will follow anything.

    • CliveM

      Twitter and Piers Morgan were made for one another. They complement each other perfectly.

      • bluedog

        Is Morgan a Trump plant?

        • CliveM

          Well Morgan is Trumps UK Cheerleader.

    • David

      You are bring too complimentary.

    • Dreadnaught

      he has 5.8 million ‘followers’… Hopefully carrying knives and a grudge.

  • Martin

    I’m a bit confused, what does fear of Prince Charles’ first wife have to do with this?

    • Sarky

      Nothing. Her name was Diana.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        You really don’t understand sarcasm, do you.

        • Sarky

          Not when its crap.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            I leave that subject entirely to you.

  • not a machine

    given I do believe that god may choose who he wishes to be his vessels and at the same time God may grant to those who earnestly repent to become vessels , I see no need for anything that is a cult where you don’t communicate with god ,I have found that Christ represents so much about about the fuller image God has for all who turn to Christ.
    The problem is /are those moments when we don’t accept the image .

    on a side note , recent fire in grenfel ,obviously a little wrong that cladding was not a good spec , but did I hear Jeremy Corbin say he wanted sprinklers in flats with 15 stories and above ?? Given FBU no doubt can provide him with some knowledge of these things I make 2 points given the water flow of said set of sprinklers perhaps in one or 2 stairwells did Mr Corbyn not think about gravity and what sort of flow rates would be flowing at the bottom of said stairwell given culmaltive flow , more of danger to evacuation?
    second point putting sprinkler system in is or may cause some problems in its self , but if you are going to replace the cladding , don’t you then remove the hazard?

    • David

      How pedestrian of you Sir !
      Come, come ! Mr Corbyn isn’t constrained by mere gravity !
      He’s the superior type, a free floating messianic visionary who will take us to a far better land on his magic manifesto.

      • not a machine

        His magic manifesto , there’s a children’s TV series in that somewhere, although I have yet to feel comfortable in the finality of living out a labour manifesto when governing .
        I have ended boom and bust ….
        my favourite blog post from the great 2009 of woe was an impression of clunker “I have lifted children out of poverty and into debt”

  • What will be the result of the attack on worshippers outside the Finsbury Park mosque in London? Answer: It will almost certainly bring the total Islamization of England one step closer ….

    In the wake of the “Islamophobic” attack, the British government will be tempted to shut down the conservative critique not only of Islam but also of the government’s failed policies in regard to Islamization and immigration ….

    First, there will be a shutdown of rational analysis of the current situation. No one will be allowed to say that immigration is a big part of the problem because that will be construed as Islamophobic. Moreover, no one will be permitted to discuss the phenomenon of stealth jihad—the process by which Islamic culture gradually replaces the native culture …. The result is that the cultural jihad will proceed—probably at an accelerated pace—under the radar.

    Second, backlash attacks like the one at Finsbury will be taken not only as an opportunity to shut up critics of Islam, but also as an opportunity to extol the benefits of Islam to society. The “Islamophobia” attack will be met by more efforts to show that Britons are not intolerant, and not haters. As a result, there will be more compromises, more concessions, and more submission to Islam.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/finsbury-mosque-attack-whats-next

  • Chefofsinners

    ‘Violent paragraphs’, huh? Dreadful.
    I’m just trying to remember why this man was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror? Oh yes, for publishing faked pictures of British soldiers torturing an Iraqi man.
    ‘Violent photographs’ are just fine, or so it appiers.

  • Anton

    Begging His Grace’s pardon, but on Sunday I shall be speaking the first three paragraphs below in church and passing round handouts of the remainder. Please would Christian readers write to their MP about the terms and composition of the new anti-extremism Commission, as follows:

    From the Queen’s speech: “Counter-terrorism strategy will be reviewed and a new commission will work to stamp out extremist ideology in all its forms.”

    Unless Islam is singled out by name, this means that we shall be bracketed with it and face the harsh measures designed to prevent radical preaching in mosques. We can expect government monitoring of our website, of sermons, severe limits on what can be said, Sunday school closures etc.

    Please write to your MP at the House of Commons (London SW1A 0AA). It is known that if an MP receives five or more non-identically phrased letters on a given subject then he or she takes it seriously and is likely to act on the requests it contains.

    You can make the following points and ask the following questions:

    * Given that Islamic terrorists have been responsible for all recent major atrocities in the UK and followers of other religions have been responsible for none, will the commission explicitly differentiate between Islam and other religions – Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism? If not, why not?

    * What specific measures will be taken to ensure that Sunday schools, Holiday Bible clubs and Christian camps, and church youth clubs, will not be caught up in anti-radicalisation measures intended to prevent terrorism?

    * What is meant by the word “extremism”? Will it be taken to mean deep commitment to a religious text regardless of whether that text calls for peace or violence in relations with nonbelievers? Should a distinction not be made?

    * Will the commission take note that the Quran specifically calls for jihad against unbelievers and that the interpretation of the word Jihad by the Islamic prophet Muhammad was a violent one? (Meaning “holy war” rather than “spiritual effort” – jihad is frequently associated in the Quran with Qatala, meaning fight to kill.)

    * Will the commission take the view that Islam is a political movement as much as it is a religious movement in view of those verses? If not, why not?

    * What will the make-up of the Commission be? Would it not be better to have ex-Muslims on it than actual Muslims, given the prevalence of terrorism perpetrated by Muslims and the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya, dissembling in furtherance of the Islamic faith?

    * Will the commission inform itself about the Quran based not only on the words of Muslims but also on the words of ex-Muslims? If not, why not?

    Come to think of it, does anybody have any questions that could usefully be added to this list?

    • Will Socialism and Communism, which call for the overthrow of capitalism by violent revolution, be banned?

      • Anton

        Socialism doesn’t. Communism by violent revolution is not a clear and present danger to the UK today.

        If you don’t want to write to your MP, don’t.

        • Socialism is the first step towards Communism – to be achieved by the working class securing the levers of power by any means necessary.

          • Anton

            Socialism and communism have identical ends but differing ways to get to them, socialism via the ballot box. But that’s not my subject in this subthread.

      • Watchman

        Most of the calls for violent revolution that I’ve heard have taken place under parliamentary privilege!

      • bluedog

        Don’t muddy the waters. Anton is right to focus the criticism on Islam.

        The danger of this commission is very clear. The secularist cultural Marxism that is the prevailing orthodoxy will take as its foundational premise that all religion is a threat to the Queen’s Peace and that all religion is to be treated equally. Backed by the wealth of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, the Muslims will try to subvert the commission, stacking its membership, and use it as a tool to marginalise Christianity in civil society, to the benefit of Islam. They will seek formal accreditation of Islam on terms superior to Christianity within the institutions of the British state.

        Alarmist? No. Sharia.

    • bluedog

      An excellent and very important initiative, Anton. Thank you and well done.

    • Watchman

      Excellent Anton, do you know whether it is better to write by email or snail mail?

      • Anton

        Definitely snailmail. It is taken much more seriously by the recipient.

        • Watchman

          Thanks

    • Ian G

      Do you have a website and/or organisation? As someone who has taught Islam to Muslims using Islamic materials, I understand the real fears many have. However, my tactic gave me the right to use genuine Christian materials when teaching Christianity. I should add that they were some of the best pupils I have taught and had a genuine interest in RE. I actually had to throw them out of the class at he end of the lesson!

      • Anton

        I’ve written various essays on these and other subjects but I distribute them privately. Too many of them are, sadly, grounds for action under law despite explicitly disavowing violence and simply telling the truth, often in the words of those I am critiquing.

    • David

      Thank you Anton for doing an excellent job there. I shall write.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      I shall write this very day.

      • Anton

        Mr Gladstone will be pleased to receive your letter!

  • len

    Like all man made religion. scientology is a con, a very wealthy con.
    Islam however wants to rule this world, and is using methods of this corrupt world system to bring about its aims.
    This world however, is totally corrupt and beyond redemption, so a totally new world is to be created out of the ruins of the old world, inhabited by a totally new race of human beings with Jesus Christ at the Head.

    ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come'(2 Corinthians 5:17)

  • Ian G

    May I recommend “Bare faced Messiah” by Russell Miller for a somewhat less rosy view of Scientology.

    • Anton

      Miller has a dry sense of humour. Soon after that book (a damning biography of Hubbard) came out there was, I recall, an interview with him on TV or radio in which he said something about Hubbard very like “I think he’s a charlatan and scientologists think he’s the greatest man who ever lived, so naturally there are some differences of opinion here.”

      • Ian G

        Thanks for the story. I like dry humour. Not many people seem to have come across the book, so it’s nice not to be the only one. You are quite right, my “less rosy view” is, of course, damning. If memory serves, his Grace is wrong about slavery. Rather like High Hefner and Colonel Gaddafi, there seems to have been an imbalance of the sexes amongst his personal staff.

  • Linus

    Scientology is no more ludicrous than Christianity.

    An evil galactic emperor is no more outrageous as an idea than an all-powerful god.

    Neither require proof. The gullible and easily-persuaded can be manipulated into believing in them solely by appealing to their selfish desires.

    • bluedog

      Yawn