Jul 03 2014

Apostasy Rising: 4 Denominations In Less Than A Week Defy God’s Word

Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 5:40 pm

From Prophecy News Watch.Com

The United Church of Christ (UCC) bills itself as “the church where God is still speaking.” Apparently, God’s Word is falling on deaf ears of the leadership.

The UCC, which considers itself a mainline Protestant denomination—claiming over 1 million members and about 5,200 congregations in the U.S.—proudly announced it will serve as a major sponsor of the Gay Games. The UCC will now go down in Christian history as the first major denomination to sponsor the homosexual Olympics when the games roll into Cleveland, Ohio, in August.

I guess my jaw shouldn’t have dropped when I read the news, considering the UCC in April filed a gay marriage rights lawsuit in North Carolina. But not only did my jaw drop, I’m shaking my head. J. Bennett Guess, one of the UCC’s national officers and its first openly gay church executive, calls it a social justice issue and says the denomination prides itself on “being a bold voice for progressive Christianity.”

In case you aren’t familiar with what the term “progressive Christianity” really means, let’s take a moment to define it. Progressive Christianity has a strong focus on social justice and environmentalism. Progressive Christianity focuses on concepts like “collective salvation”—where entire cultures and societies, rather than just individuals with faith in Christ, are redeemed—and bends toward a Marxist economic philosophy. And Progressive Christianity does not subscribe to the biblical doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture.

That last line explains a lot. For example, it explains why the UCC was the first mainline denomination to affirm equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. It explains why the UCC was the first to ordain an openly gay man. And, overall, it explains why the UCC has fallen into the deception of sponsoring events that celebrate LGBT people instead of trying to love them to Christ.

But even denominations that don’t consider themselves part of the Progressive Christianity movement are falling into this deception. The Presbyterian Church (USA) last week voted to allow its ministers to perform gay weddings in states where it’s legal. On Tuesday, Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for officiating his son’s gay wedding, was fully reinstated and the Moravians voted to ordain gay clergy. My research shows there’s a long and growing list of gay-affirming denominations, including the Affirming Pentecostal Church International.

Saints, we’re seeing 1 Timothy 4:1 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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playing out right before our very eyes. It’s called the Great Apostasy and it’s well underway. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/July02/023.html#OczMhFRP8dOGWhTr.99

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Jun 26 2014

Characteristics of Hypocrites

Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 5:51 pm

Matthew 23:2-3 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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Saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat.
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.

1] Demand respect as teachers [v2].
2] Teach, but do not practice [v3].
3] Demand service, not give it [v4].
4] Seek praise of men [v5].
5] Parade their religion [v5].
6] Seek chief banquet places [v6].
7] Seek chief places in church [v6].
8] Glory in personal attention [v7].
9] Glory in titles [v7].
10] Rob men of truth and life [v13].
11] Reject truth and life [v13].
12] Take advantage of widows [v14].
13] Exhibit long prayers [v14].
14] Are zealous to win men to their sect, but not to God [v15].
15] Root and ground converts in hypocrisy, not in God [v15].
16] Profess to be the only guide in religion, but are blind to truth and practical
Christianity [v16-22].
17] Propagate those parts of religion from which they receive most personal
Gain and honor [v16-22].
18] Strain at gnats and swallow camels; stress minor details and omit the
Fundamentals of religion [v23-24].
19] Glory in bodily cleanliness, but live in moral filth [v25-26].
20] Exhibit outward religion and self-righteousness and ignore inward
Holiness in life and conduct [v2, 7-28].
21] Pretend to be more righteous than their forefathers [v29-33].

Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible – Page 34

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Jun 21 2014

Using The Bible To Justify Abortions

Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 4:28 pm

From Prophecy News Watch.Com

Planned Parenthood, not content to justify the killing of the unborn, is now issuing a “pastoral letter” to prospective abortion clients that suggests that the Bible has nothing to say about abortion – and that God “and is with you no matter what you decide” – suggesting that God doesn’t care whether you kill or keep your baby because it’s just you that He loves and cares about anyway.

Perhaps a comparison of the Planned Parenthood position as stated in the “pastoral letter” published in progressivestoday.com with God’s clearly stated position in the Bible would be pertinent:

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The decision to have an abortion is personal… The beliefs of each person are deserving of respect, and each person deserves care and compassion.

THE BIBLE: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).

In God’s eyes, Planned Parenthood comments are the same as saying that the decision to murder someone else is personal and deserving of respect. Life starts at conception, and murder is still murder from the point of conception onwards – whether the child has been born or is waiting to be born. Planned Parenthood says that each person deserves care and compassion – obviously except the unborn, who in their view deserve the abuse and cruelty of the abortion process.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Though your reasons may be complicated and private, you’re not alone. As religious leaders from a number of religious traditions, we’re here to support you in your decision. Many people wrongly assume that all religious leaders disapprove of abortion… there are clergy and people of faith from all denominations who support women making this complex decision… No one should be allowed to force their faith teachings on anyone else. We believe this decision is yours, made with your doctor and anyone else you choose to bring into the conversation, such as a spouse, partner, parent, or clergy person.

THE BIBLE:
• And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).
• But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The truth is that abortion is not even mentioned in the Scriptures—Jewish or Christian.

THE BIBLE: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).
Abortion is just another politically and socially correct euphemism for killing, murder and bloodshed of the unborn, which are all strictly forbidden and condemned throughout the scriptures, especially in the shedding of innocent blood such as that of babies. The word obviously could not feature in the scriptures as the term “abortion” was only introduced in the mid 16th Century, derived from the Latin language.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Our religious traditions have somewhat different opinions about abortion, but we share some basic understandings: No one knows the circumstances of your life as well as you know them; no one knows what‘s in your heart better than you. Allow yourself to be at peace with your decision.

THE BIBLE: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings (Jeremiah 17:9, 10 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Our religious traditions have somewhat different opinions about abortion, but we share some basic understandings: God loves you and is with you no matter what you decide. You can find strength, understanding, and comfort in that love.

THE BIBLE: God loves you - yes (John 3:16 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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) – BUT “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:13-15 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: If you’d like to speak with a clergyperson, your local Planned Parenthood health center can refer you to someone who will be supportive of you and your decision.

THE BIBLE:
These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood…(Proverbs 6:16-17 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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).

One would expect only secular, humanistic, atheistic, globalist and satanic groups to endorse abortion; however a shocking number of professing churches also endorse it. Stand for Life.net explains: What three organizations have backed abortion on demand? The answer that many might respond with is Planned Parenthood, the Democratic Party, NARAL or some women’s group. How about three of the largest church organizations in America: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (10,500 congregations), the Presbyterian Church (10,000 congregations and 2.3 million members), and the United Methodist Church (8 million members).

The following is a sampling of other churches and religious organizations that believe in abortion. The group Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice listed a wide variety of members (as at November 2009):

Conservative Judaism
Rabbinical Assembly
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

Episcopal Church
Ethical Culture
American Ethical Union National Service Conference

Humanist Judaism
Society for Humanistic Judaism

Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reconstructionist Judaism
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Reform Judaism
Central Conference of American Rabbis
North American Federation of Temple Youth
Union for Reform Judaism
Women of Reform Judaism, The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods
Women’s Rabbinic Network of Central Conference of American Rabbis

United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church
General Board of Global Ministries, Women’s Division, United Methodist Church

Unitarian Universalist
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation
Young Religious Unitarian Universalists
Continental Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network

Caucuses/Organizations
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
Catholics for Choice
Christian Lesbians Out (CLOUT)
Church of the Brethren Women’s Caucus
Disciples for Choice
Episcopal Urban Caucus
Episcopal Women’s Caucus
Hadassah, WZOA
Jewish Women International
Lutheran Women’s Caucus
Methodist Federation for Social Action
NA’AMAT USA
National Council of Jewish Women
Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO)
Women’s American ORT
YWCA of the USA

The Stand for Life article concludes with the question: “How do we as a society give credence to all of the churches and related organizations that confess their belief in God and the Bible, but on the other hand think that it’s perfectly fine to kill someone who was created in God’s image?”

Part of the answer is that the Bible warns of a “falling away” in the last days before Jesus returns. The rapid rate of the apostasy of the Church is being seen in its widespread acceptance of abortion (among other abominations), which is also a satanic practice of human baby sacrifice as in the days of the worship of the demon god Molech (Leviticus 20:1-5 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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), which attracted the judgments of God.

Jesus is Savior.com also reported that in 2004, hundreds of thousands of abortion rights supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., for the “March for Women’s Lives.” The gathering was chock full of professing Christians, and illustrates the ignorance and wickedness of those entrusted with protecting the rights of the unborn:

“Several religious bodies also offered their unqualified endorsement and financial support to the event, marching side-by-side with their secular counterparts in the abortion rights movement. Among the officially participating denominations were the Episcopal Church, Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Methodist Church (through the General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries), the United Church of Christ (UCC), the American Friends Service Committee, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Representatives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church (U.S.A) marched with official banners from their respective denominations. A sign on the front door of the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill that day declared that God was speaking through the UCC to support the march. Earlier that morning, the UCC’s political action branch (which is housed in the United Methodist Building) hosted a breakfast for the march participants.

Another group active in supporting and participating in the march was the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), a pro-abortion political lobby supported by the aforementioned Protestant groups, among others. On the Friday before the main event, RCRC organized an effort to lobby members of Congress after a send-off luncheon in the United Methodist Building.”

So, no wonder at all that Planned Parenthood and similar “pro-choice” groups are able to obtain and circulate religious sounding God-loves-you-and-your-decision abortion scripts to tempt pregnant women with. Planned Parenthood certainly doesn’t lack for friends professing Christianity or Judaism. Leaders and adherents of such groups can however fully expect to hear Jesus’ words of eternal judgment in Matthew 7:23 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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one day if they do not repent: “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Make no mistake:

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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Jun 08 2014

A Mosque, a Synagogue, and a Church: What Could Go Wrong?

Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 5:38 pm

From American Thinker.Com

The Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha is a project that raises questions.  The planned co-location of a synagogue, a mosque, and a church on the same campus is a novel enough idea to stir curiosity.  Add in connections between the proposed mosque and groups that have been named as unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terror-financing trial in our nation’s history, and it becomes the lack of questions that should make news.

I have written previously about the links between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska.  Recent developments include my source, Dr. Mark Christian, the executive director of the Omaha-based Global Faith Institute, receiving a “shut up or get sued” letter from the project’s leaders.

While the project was originally conceived with the mosque, a Reform Jewish congregation and an Episcopal Church forming the three legs of the Tri-Faith stool, the Episcopal Church has since gotten cold feet and is bailing out of the project.  Its representatives are actively soliciting another church to take their place and buy out their stake, to the tune of $1.5 million.

It is this transaction the Tri-Faith Board is seeking to protect by attempting to intimidate Dr. Christian into silence.  Mind you, the good doctor hasn’t been marching up and down outside the project, waving signs and screaming; he has simply asked some very reasonable questions regarding the relationship between the mosque and two well-known groups – CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and ISNA, the Islamic Society of North America.

Seeking clarification, Dr. Christian has approached the respective leaders of the Tri-Faith Initiative and reports that each conversation followed a similar path.  First, flat denials of any links between the Tri-Faith Initiative and ISNA, CAIR, or the Muslim Brotherhood.  Second, after being presented with the fact that CAIR and ISNA are prominently featured on their website as “Resources,” they shift into a denial that ISNA and CAIR are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, after Dr. Christian provides the evidence from the FBI and the State Department that both groups are known fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood in America, the response settles into a mumbling assertion that maybe the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t such a bad thing in the first place.

Dr. Christian has good reason for concern; he is a former Muslim who has converted to Christianity and lives under a fatwa approved by his own father, calling for his death.

Dr. Christian is no ordinary Muslim apostate, however.  His father and uncle were top-level leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in his former home of Cairo, Egypt.  Dr. Christian was trained as an imam and groomed for Muslim leadership.

Dr. Christian’s uncle Ahmed spent time in prison for his role in the 1965 raid against Gamal Nasser.  During this time he was a cellmate of the Islamic writer Sayyid Qutb, the ideological father of the radical outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood that we know today as al-Qaeda.

Clearly, a Muslim Brotherhood foothold in his adopted hometown of Omaha poses a serious security risk for Dr. Christian and his family.  “Trust us,” just isn’t a good enough answer in today’s security climate.

Radical Islamists are promoting interfaith projects in many places around the U.S., successfully putting a gentle mask on their brutal ideology.

Extremism is introduced only after the non-Muslim partners have invested sufficient time and capital to ensure their willingness to overlook questionable connections and activities for fear of losing their financial stake.

Under the protective umbrella of interfaith peace and harmony, suspicious activities may occur with little scrutiny, with the non-Muslim partners frequently running interference for the Islamic component – all in the name of love, unity, and justice.

While it remains unclear if the Tri-Faith Initiative will fall prey to such machinations, their present refusal to address reasonable questions provides cold comfort to a worried populace.

As occurred in the case of the Holy Land Foundation, Islamists sometimes launder money through charities and aid organizations in order to conceal the transfer of millions of dollars to terrorists around the world.  In the Holy Land Foundation case, these terror-funders were caught red-handed, and the ensuing prosecutions revealed extensive involvement on the parts of CAIR and ISNA.

The Tri-Faith Initiative subsequently hosted Ingrid Mattson, then-president of ISNA, for a citywide interfaith event, highlighting ISNA’s involvement in their project.  She is described in an article on their website as being the “head of the movement” behind the mosque.

Given their prior record, it hardly seems unreasonable to question CAIR’s and ISNA’s continued involvement with the Tri-Faith Initiative.

Moreover, given the controversy, is it prudent for the Tri-Faith Board to peddle a $1.5-million plot of land to a largely unsuspecting church congregation, while simultaneously threatening Dr. Christian with legal action if he alerts the buyer to the 800-pound gorilla in the room?

It is Dr. Christian’s contention that this behavior from the Tri-Faith leadership is reckless and unseemly.

The Global Faith Institute has formally called on the Tri-Faith Initiative to simply renounce its association with CAIR, ISNA, and other similarly radicalized groups, and to open its books to an independent auditor going forward, to reassure the concerned citizens of Omaha that such groups will not re-enter the project at a later date.

Such a simple thing – such a sensible course of action, to disavow radical Islamic supremacists and their poisoned ideology, yet the Tri-Faith Board thus far finds these words too difficult to utter.

As a lawyer friend of mine said recently regarding this subject, “if peace-loving Muslims won’t differentiate themselves from the radical Islamists, how then are we, their neighbors and co-workers, to tell the difference?”

Indeed.  This is the question Dr. Christian asks every day, at the risk of his life.

The author writes from Omaha, Nebraska and welcomes visitors to his website at readmorejoe.com.

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May 17 2014

Atheists To Launch TV Channel And Assemblies

Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 4:19 pm

From Prophecy News Watch.Com

The New York Daily news has recently reported that a New Jersey-based atheist group is starting the first on-demand TV channel dedicated to godlessness. AtheistTV will be launched this summer by Members of American Atheists with big plans to reach out to atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and folks who are looking for a way out of faith. Spokesman Dave Muscato stated that they are also looking to fill the gap they perceive to be left by the lack of an atheist channel, given that there is “a glut of religious TV programming out there”.

American Atheists already has a production studio at their national headquarters in Cranford, N.J., where they film their public access cable show “Atheist Viewpoint.” AtheistTV will make use of this content as well as their archive of footage from the past 50 years of its activist history. They also intend to work with other content providers such as the Richard Dawkins Foundation and atheist YouTube stars with big fan bases.

The channel will reportedly be available through Roku, a WI-FI device that lets users stream from the Internet onto their TVs. Viewers will need to pay to get Roku, but subscribing to the channel will be free. More than 300 faith-based channels are available, featuring programming centered around Christian music, sermons, and worship services. American Atheists will attempt to define godless programming by having “shows about philosophy, science and history” with “a critical examination of the facts.”

Muscato also hopes the channel will encourage people who doubt their faith to come out as atheist: “When somebody leaves their religion, they don’t necessarily know everything about the Big Bang…this will fill in the gaps in knowledge that pastors have left behind.”

And it’s not just TV programming that atheists are looking to produce: the Daily Beast has recently reported that congregations for atheists are springing up all over the planet. In an article titled ‘Godless Church Services for Atheists Go Global’, it is reported that plans to set up almost 400 “atheist churches” on five continents are underway after the extraordinary success of one small congregation that began holding godless services just over a year ago.

The atheistic churches have adopted the generic “Sunday Assembly” name and are typically described as such.

Word about the religion-free church spread like wildfire after the first Sunday Assembly was held in a deconsecrated church in Highbury, North London, in January 2013. By this September, 100 congregations will be holding services from Singapore and South Africa to Sao Paulo and San Diego. A further 274 teams currently are working on plans to launch their own assemblies.

So what exactly does an atheistic church or “Sunday Assembly” service look like? Their gatherings are said to resemble traditional church services, replicating the traditional church structure as it expands, with activities such as singing, clapping and dancing to secular songs. Also typically included are lessons and the chance to interact with members of the community. Only God is left out of what could easily pass for a normal traditional church service.

The concept is said to be proving more popular than most other atheistic meeting structures as adherents are seemingly attracted to “such warmth and affection”. As Jones put it: “The thing that we’ve got is that we’re the only non-religious service that works. Rationality is part of it, but we also have the emotional connection…we are speaking to the whole human.”

The church’s first General Assembly is being held this weekend with leaders from all over the world gathered in South London. Sanderson Jones, the group’s leader and CEO, said: “This is the first time we’re coming together like this,” he said. “We’ve had such a short time but I think we’re going to build something magnificent, something that’s going to last.” The group is reportedly currently growing by an impressive 26 per cent each month and plans to target the 1.1 billion “non-religious” people in the world. Jones vision includes having a godless congregation “in every town, city and village that wants one.”

Part of the overall strategy towards achieving this, is said to include harnessing the organizational know-how and social interaction of more established institution such as the National Rifle Association.

So what can be made of this global concerted effort by atheists to grow and gain converts? Clearly one way Satan can keep people out of heaven is by convincing them that God does not exist. Atheists and their ideologies are therefore the perfect mechanisms for spreading atheistic doctrine. Sadly, their only reward, and those of their unfortunate converts, will be eternal destruction. As Charles Spurgeon once preached, there are no atheists in hell.

God’s view of the atheist true heart and attitude is clearly expressed in Psalms 53:1-5 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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:
The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none who does good.
2 God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3 Every one of them has turned aside;
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.
4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon God?
5 There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.

Should atheists know better? If so, how would they? The scriptures explain in Romans 1:18-20 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

And to those attempting to use atheism to fill a void in their lives, Jesus would simply say:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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)
Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/May16/163.html#jbcBdDuYSbIPLa16.99

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May 11 2014

Jesus Wife Document

Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 8:08 pm

From KHouse.Org

Some fakes are just too good to pass up.

Just in time for Easter, a story from 2012 resurfaced. Story concerned Jesus Christ’s wife – yes, his wife.

When it first hit a few years ago, the story was a big deal. Scholors said that the papyrus fragment would ““shake the foundations of Christianity”. The discovery became the subject of a Smithsonian Channel special.

The fragment was dated to the fourth-century A.D. and it purportedly has Jesus referring to “my wife.”

When the so-called “Jesus’ wife” document surfaced a couple of years ago, the media went into a frenzy, claiming that this fragment of papyrus would “shake the foundations of Christianity.”

The papyrus, written in ancient Coptic, is about the size of a business card and contains “33 words, scattered across 14 incomplete lines.”

The lines that stirred the controversy read, “She will be able to be my disciple,” and then “I will dwell with her.”

Not surprisingly, “Smithsonian” magazine did admit that the fragment “leave[s] a good deal to interpretation.” Stripping away the hoopla, the fragment doesn’t prove that Jesus was married or even engaged.

Karen L. King of Harvard University, who made the announcement, interpreted the line “I will dwell with her” as meaning “I am married to her. Ben Witherington is a Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and he pointed out that, for Gnostics, “wife” often refers to a female companion in a platonic, chaste relationship. Also, the fragment would have to be a copy of an older text of unknown origin.

The most one can infer from the discovery is that some people in the ancient Near East may have believed that Jesus was married, assuming it is Jesus Christ the author was referring to, (Jesus was a common name in the period).

In addition, researchers discovered a grammatical error in the text, one that mirrors a similar miscue in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. Errors of this sort are something that never inspires confidence in a translation.

Not surprisingly, just in time for Easter, the media resurrected the Jesus’ wife papyrus discovery. This time a team of scientists has declared it genuine. But what they mean by genuine isn’t much. Basically, it wasn’t produced “in an afternoon by a graduate student,” as one skeptical expert put it.

Researchers now date the fragment to between five and seven centuries after Jesus—making it most likely a “Gnostic myth”.

What gives this story “legs” is that there are those who never pass up an opportunity to debunk the Gospels.

The irony is that Christians do believe that Jesus had a wife: Her name is “the Church.”

But for many in academia and the media, that concept is just not good enough.

For Further Reading

  • Study: ‘Jesus’ wife’ fragment not a fake
    — CNN
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    May 10 2014

    Scripture Revisionists Sue North Carolina To Force State To Accept Gay Marriage

    Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 5:52 pm

    From Prophecy News Watch.Com

    In recent years, we have witnessed a stark increase in the numbers of incidents where legal pressure has been exercised against churches that honor Biblical doctrine, demanding conformity to secular standards in states where same-sex civil unions have been legally recognized. Churches have come under increasing scrutiny for refusing to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

    Yet in a disturbing new federal lawsuit filed on Monday, April 28th, 2014 against the state of North Carolina, the liberal 1-million-member United Church of Christ (UCC) is suing the state, demanding a reversal of a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2012.

    Others have joined the UCC in the case, stating that the state’s marriage law “represents an unlawful government intervention into the internal structure and practices of plaintiffs’ religions.” The plaintiffs include a Lutheran priest, a rabbi, two Unitarian Universalist ministers, a Baptist pastor and several same-sex couples.

    Defendants in the case include North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, several county district attorneys and five registers of deeds.

    Attorney Jake Sussman, legal counsel for the plaintiffs, says this is the only case thus far claiming First Amendment religious freedom rights among the more than sixty pending marriage equality cases currently active in the nation’s state and federal courts.

    Under the state ban in N.C., it is a Class 1 misdemeanor if a minister performs a marriage ceremony for a couple that hasn’t obtained a civil marriage license. In fact, the law further allows anyone to sue a minister who performs a marriage ceremony without a license.

    Participants in the lawsuit argue that the ban limits clergy choices and violates the principle of “free exercise of religion” by requiring clergy to minister to one segment of the public. The UCC-led case presents a similar argument used by religious conservatives in their complaint about the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

    Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, which opposes same-sex marriage, made this statement: “It’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs…These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity.”

    Fitzgerald helped lead a coalition of Christian and conservative groups who supported the state’s 2012 constitutional amendment, which became law when six out of ten voters backed the ban on same-sex marriage. Fitzgerald said the lawsuit is an attempt to void the will of voters who backed traditional marriage, according to huffingtonpost.com.

    Though states can still decide individually how they want to proceed with same-sex marriage legislation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government must recognize marriages of same-sex couples. If the UCC wins their case – the first federal lawsuit claiming First Amendment religious freedom violations in an attempt to overrule a state law – we may witness a tsunami of others who will exploit this new legal precedence.

    Were the laws penned by the original signers of the U.S. Constitution – laws created to promote and protect our freedom to pursue “life, liberty and happiness” – actually intended to defend a pursuit of those freedoms within the sanctity of Biblical parameters?

    Today, these laws are not only being challenged, but are being rigorously tested for use in defending and protecting a dangerous kind of relative and non-absolute form of “life, liberty and happiness,” without any parameters, moving farther and farther outside of the spiritual safe haven of Biblical Godliness.

    The Bible tells of a “falling away” from truth in 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
    This text is from the ESV Bible. Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV.
    , before the revealing of the antichrist and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 7 foretells that the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” and there is much evidence that we are now in that season.

    The prophet Isaiah warned of woe coming to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter… Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:20,21 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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    )

    Sadly, these warnings go largely unheeded in a growing community of “churches” all too willing to forsake Biblical doctrine for secular relativism.

    When Jesus Christ returns for His “Bride,” the Church, will He find that His wife has made herself ready, with fine linen, bright and clean, given her to wear? “Fine linen” is translated as the righteous acts of God’s holy people. (Revelation 19:7,8 [show/hide]ERROR: You have exceeded your quota of 5000 requests per day. Please contact the developer of this application if you have questions. (If you're the developer and have questions about this error message, please contact Crossway.)
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    )


    Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/May09/095.html#lzRH3I2f7yz2KPfe.99

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    May 07 2014

    Christians ‘Crucified Again’ for Refusing Islam

    Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 1:30 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    To the awe of its readership, a recent Daily Mail article reports that the “jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant [ISIL],” which is currently entrenched in Raqqa, Syria, “publicly crucified two Syrian rebels in northeastern Syria in revenge for a grenade attack on members of their group.”

    While the Daily Mail is to be commended for exposing these brutal acts – along with posting photos of the crucified – it nonetheless minimized their significance, in two important ways: 1) by repeatedly saying things like “even al-Qaeda is distancing itself from ISIL,” and so implying that the act of crucifixion is some wild aberration such that even the poster-child of jihadi terror, al-Qaeda, wants nothing to do with ISIL; and 2) ignoring the much “sexier” story that Christians in Syria are also being crucified simply for refusing to recant Christ and embrace Islam – as opposed to the rather mundane story of Islamic jihadis crucifying each other in the context of vendetta killings.

    Consider the atrocities earlier committed in Ma‘loula, Syria, an ancient Christian village where the inhabitants still spoke Aramaic, the language of Christ.

    According to recent Arabic news media, “a Syrian nun testified to the Vatican news agency that some Christians in Ma‘loula were crucified for refusing to convert to Islam or pay jizya” (tribute subjugated Christians are required to pay to their Islamic conquerors in order to exist as Christians, per Koran 9:29).

    Incidentally, they were crucified by the al-Qaeda-linked Nasra Front.  So much for the Daily Mail’s portrayal of al-Qaeda “distancing” itself from the apparently “extra-extremist” ISIL for crucifying its victims.

    Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus who currently resides in France, told Vatican Radio how she personally witnessed jihadi rebels terrorize Ma‘loula, including by pressuring Christians to proclaim the shehada – Islam’s credo that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger – which, when uttered before Muslims, transforms the speaker into a Muslim, with the death penalty for apostasy should the convert later “renege” by returning to Christianity.

    According to the nun, those Christians who refused to embrace Islam were:

    … killed in atrocious and violent ways that cannot be described.  If you want examples, they crucified two youths in Ma‘loula for refusing to proclaim Islam’s credo, saying to them: “perhaps you want to die like your teacher [Christ] whom you believe in?  You have two choices: either proclaim the shehada or else be crucified.  One of them was crucified before his father, whom they also killed.”

    In fact, according to earlier media reports from October 2013, soon after Ma‘loula fell to the jihadis, one “shaky voiced” elderly Christian man had reported that he heard the invading jihadis shouting, “Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like Jesus.”

    It is a documented fact that some Christians in Ma‘loula were put to death for refusing to convert to Islam, such as Minas, an Armenian man, while other families succumbed to pressure and converted to Islam at the tip of the sword.

    But it is not clear whether the two crucified Christians mentioned by the nun are among the three men in Ma‘loula who, according to Asia News, “refused to repudiate their religion” and thus “were summarily executed in public” – so many and varied were the barbaric acts, including beheadings, rape, and infanticide during the rebel occupation.

    These three were declared martyrs by the Syrian Greek-Catholic Church.  As Patriarch Gregorios III explained to Pope Francis in a meeting: “Holy Father, they are true martyrs. Ordered to give up their faith, they proudly refused. Three others however gave in and were forced to declare themselves Muslim, but later returned to the faith of their ancestors.”

    For his part, and according to a May 3 Arabic report, Pope Francis recently said, “I wept when I saw reports saying that Christians were being crucified in some non-Christian countries.”

    The fact is, crucifixion is a prescribed form of punishment in the Koran (5:33) and occurs throughout the Islamic world with much greater frequency than suggested by the Daily Mail.  For example:

    • Iraq, June 2008: A Canadian parliamentary committee heard about how “militant Muslims” were crucifying Christian children in order to terrorize Christians into fleeing Iraq: “Since the war began in 2003, about 12 children, many as young as 10, have been kidnapped and killed, then nailed to makeshift crosses near their homes to terrify and torment their parents.”
    • Ivory Coast, May 2011: Two Christian peasant brothers were “brutally crucified” on “the example of Christ” by Muslim forces accusing them of being supportive of the ousted Christian president.  One died, while the other survived: “The pair were badly beaten and tortured before being crudely nailed to cross-shaped planks by their hands and feet with steel spikes.”
    • Egypt, August 2012: Multiple media agencies reported that during one uprising against Islamist president Muhammad Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood operatives reportedly crucified some protesters on trees.  Earlier, a Salafi MP in Egypt called for the penal codification of crucifixion.
    • Yemen, August 2012: A video of a man crucified on the accusation of spying for the U.S. appeared.  A sign placed above his head quotes Koran 5:33: “The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter.”

    Of course, if one delves into Islamic history, one realizes that crucifixions were extremely common.  For example, Witnesses For Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860 lists crucifixion as one of the many forms by which thousands of Christians were executed by the Muslim Turks.

    In her memoir Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described how in the early twentieth century in the city of Malatia, she saw 16 girls crucified, vultures eating their corpses: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands,” wrote the Armenian survivor. “Only their hair blown by the wind covered their bodies.”

    Prescribed in the Koran itself, crucifixions are as old as Islam and, with the global revival of the latter, are returning with increased frequency.  And, although it is more politically correct to report on Muslims crucifying other Muslims – other terrorists or “spies” – the fact is that many more innocent Christians are being crucified again, including simply for refusing to renounce Christ and embrace Islam.

    Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.

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    May 04 2014

    Are We in a “Post Christian” Era?

    Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 12:11 pm

    From KHouse.Org

    The former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams caused a stir in World Christianity when he said that Britain is no longer a country of believers but rather has entered a post-Christian era.

    When asked if Britain was a Christian Country, the former cleric said, “A Christian country as a nation of believers? No. A Christian country in the sense of still being very much saturated by this vision of the world and shaped by it? Yes.”

    That did not mean though that Britain embraced secular humanism. Williams explained, “A Christian nation can sound like a nation of committed believers, and we are not that. Equally, we are not a nation of dedicated secularists. I think we’re a lot less secular than the most optimistic members of the British Humanist Association would think,” he said.

    Lord Williams of Oystermouth, who stood down as leader of the Church of England in December 2012, said the time of habitual worship was over and that a further decline of widespread faith was likely. His comments, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, came after the prime minister was criticized for saying the UK should be “more confident about our status as a Christian country” and more evangelical about faith.

    David Cameron’s comments prompted fury from secular and atheist groups and led to the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, an atheist, calling for the separation of church and state in England.

    A poll for the newspaper also found that 55 percent, agreed that Britain is a Christian country, compared to just a third disagreeing.

    The poll goes on to say that 50 percent of the public do not see themselves as belonging to any particular religion, compared to 43 percent who do. When asked to rate how religious they think they are, 77 percent answered “not very religious” or “not religious at all,” compared to 20 percent answering “fairly religious” and just three percent saying they were “very religious.”

    Williams, who is now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, said that while Britain’s “cultural memory is still quite strongly Christian,” it was post-Christian in that habitual practice across most of the population was not taken for granted.

    Asked whether Britain would lose its faith altogether, he said: “Given that we have a younger generation now who know less about this legacy than people under 45, there may be a further shrinkage of awareness and commitment.”

    Williams added: “The other side is that people then rediscover Christianity with a certain freshness, because it’s not ‘the boring old stuff that we learnt at school and have come to despise.’ I see signs of that, talking to youngsters here at Magdalene and in school visits. There is a curiosity about Christianity.”

    The Sunday Telegraph’s poll, which surveyed 2,000 people online, found that 56% of people regard Britain as Christian, rising to 60% among men and 73% among over–65s.

    Not only does this strike a blow against the secularists, it suggests a degree of resistance to “multiculturalism,” where people of different religions and cultures are encouraged to live separate, parallel lives within the same country.

    In another interesting statistic, sixty-two per cent of the people surveyed said the rise of religious fundamentalism made them afraid to express their faith.

    Notes

  • This new breed of militant atheists are as intolerant as any religious fundamentalists
    — Daily Mail
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    May 03 2014

    China Attempts To Curb The Rapid Growth Of Christianity

    Tag: State of the ChurchSage @ 6:40 pm

    From Prophecy News Watch.Com

    The Christian Church in China is growing by leaps and bounds, capturing the attention of the country’s Communist Party leaders, who are alarmed at the rapid rise in sheer numbers of Christ followers.

    A survey by Tea Leaf Nation of the Asian country’s social media platform, Weibo, found that Chinese censors are permitting more Christian-themed tweets on the site – a Chinese version of Twitter.

    According to a study released last week, this has resulted in more than 18 million mentions of “Jesus” on Weibo versus only 4 million mentions of Chinese President Xi Jinping. State-run newspapers, in contrast, write almost daily about Jinping and rarely ever mention Jesus.

    The research also revealed that “Christian congregation” appeared on Weibo more than 41 million times, while “Communist Party” generated just 5.3 million mentions.

    A search on the site for the word “Bible” yielded 17 million results. Receiving fewer than 60,000 mentions was “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung,” a collection of writings and speeches by former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, referred to by the West as “The Little Red Book.”

    To stymy the rampant growth and explosion of popularity for the Christian faith in China, particularly in the eastern province of Zhejiang, Communist officials are reportedly waging a “demolition campaign” against churches in the country’s most Christian regions by ordering a dozen to be destroyed, though these plans have been denied by Chinese leaders.

    Feng Zhili, chairman of Zhejiang’s ethnic and religious affairs committee, said in a recent speech that Christianity’s growth has been “too excessive and too haphazard,” hinting at Communist Party discomfort with the rapid growth of Christian congregations in what is already considered China’s most Christian region.

    Wenzhou, a rich port city that houses a large Christian community, is considered to be the “Jerusalem of the East,” with estimates of over one million practicing Protestants living among Wenzhou’s nine million residents.

    Activists assert that churches in Zhejiang are currently facing either demolition or having their crosses removed. Demands have reportedly been made on other churches to appear “less conspicuous” by turning their lights off at night.

    Last week, thousands of Christians gathered in solidarity to form a “human shield” around Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou as demolition was announced for that structure due to “unsafe” building codes. Despite attempts to stop the government it has gone ahead with the demolition and pictures posted online show various parts of the church structure now being torn down.

    The demolition of Sanjiang church will “definitely further erode the little remaining trust between millions of Chinese Christians and the Chinese government,” commented  Mr Fu, president of the Texas-based group China Aid.

    As Communist government leaders continue to exercise their muscle in an attempt to hinder the growth of churches they view as a threat, frequently cited “charges” are made by Chinese officials ordering church demolitions, including “illegal occupation of land”, “illegal business operation” and “illegal construction.”

    The South China Morning Post reports that Taishun, Wencheng and Ruian churches in Zhejiang have also been served demolition orders, as have churches in Hebei and Shandong provinces, according to other reports.

    Church and religious leaders are taking action this week via a petition they are circulating, accusing officials of “gross interference” in religious freedoms, despite China’s constitution officially guaranteeing its citizens freedom of religion.

    As an official atheist state, China is only offers formal recognition to five religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Taoism. Among the Communist Party’s more than 85 million members, religious beliefs are officially discouraged, though some within the Party view and support religion as a means for maintaining social stability.

    “We call on to the Zhejiang government to immediately terminate its “Cross and Church Demolition” campaign,” the petition states.

    “Christianity has been practiced in China for more than 1,000 years and has become a part of society. The sudden government order… represents a gross interference in the beliefs and practices of worshippers.”

    Since an electronic version of the petition began circulating, more than 300 religious leaders had signed it within 24 hours, said Zheng Leguo, one of the petition’s authors and the preacher of Sanjiang church.

    As a long-standing critic of the Communist Party’s control of religion, Mr. Zheng wrote in a 2011 essay, “The Chinese law does not flagrantly state that it wants to ‘wipe out religions.’ Yet, in its intention to stunt the growth [of religion], the government has to take more covert means of disturbances or more pompous-sounding legal charges to restrict religious organizations.”

    While the petition’s authors are not intending to form an anti-government “movement,” they do plan on continuing their campaign through “non-violent” means, Mr. Zheng explained, adding, “We hope the government will understand our appeal and will not criminalize us.”

    The Christian community in China – congregants and leaders alike – is taking a courageous and passionate stand to protect and defend its right to worship freely. Are Christians in other nations of the world as eager to preserve their own God-given liberties, which are being systematically stripped away, day by day?

    In a recent interview Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, said he believed the Asian country could overtake Brazil, Mexico and the United States to become the world’s most numerous Christian congregation by 2030.
    However, Prof. Yang warned that Chinese Christians should brace themselves for growing interference as the Communist Party fought to stunt the Church’s growth.

    “History has proved and will prove again with this case that another church revival will happen after this new wave of persecution.”


    Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/May02/023.html#9otbr2Cit4kMseSM.99

    The Christian Church in China is growing by leaps and bounds, capturing the attention of the country’s Communist Party leaders, who are alarmed at the rapid rise in sheer numbers of Christ followers.

    A survey by Tea Leaf Nation of the Asian country’s social media platform, Weibo, found that Chinese censors are permitting more Christian-themed tweets on the site – a Chinese version of Twitter.

    According to a study released last week, this has resulted in more than 18 million mentions of “Jesus” on Weibo versus only 4 million mentions of Chinese President Xi Jinping. State-run newspapers, in contrast, write almost daily about Jinping and rarely ever mention Jesus.

    The research also revealed that “Christian congregation” appeared on Weibo more than 41 million times, while “Communist Party” generated just 5.3 million mentions.

    A search on the site for the word “Bible” yielded 17 million results. Receiving fewer than 60,000 mentions was “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung,” a collection of writings and speeches by former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, referred to by the West as “The Little Red Book.”

    To stymy the rampant growth and explosion of popularity for the Christian faith in China, particularly in the eastern province of Zhejiang, Communist officials are reportedly waging a “demolition campaign” against churches in the country’s most Christian regions by ordering a dozen to be destroyed, though these plans have been denied by Chinese leaders.

    Feng Zhili, chairman of Zhejiang’s ethnic and religious affairs committee, said in a recent speech that Christianity’s growth has been “too excessive and too haphazard,” hinting at Communist Party discomfort with the rapid growth of Christian congregations in what is already considered China’s most Christian region.

    Wenzhou, a rich port city that houses a large Christian community, is considered to be the “Jerusalem of the East,” with estimates of over one million practicing Protestants living among Wenzhou’s nine million residents.

    Activists assert that churches in Zhejiang are currently facing either demolition or having their crosses removed. Demands have reportedly been made on other churches to appear “less conspicuous” by turning their lights off at night.

    Last week, thousands of Christians gathered in solidarity to form a “human shield” around Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou as demolition was announced for that structure due to “unsafe” building codes. Despite attempts to stop the government it has gone ahead with the demolition and pictures posted online show various parts of the church structure now being torn down.

    The demolition of Sanjiang church will “definitely further erode the little remaining trust between millions of Chinese Christians and the Chinese government,” commented  Mr Fu, president of the Texas-based group China Aid.

    As Communist government leaders continue to exercise their muscle in an attempt to hinder the growth of churches they view as a threat, frequently cited “charges” are made by Chinese officials ordering church demolitions, including “illegal occupation of land”, “illegal business operation” and “illegal construction.”

    The South China Morning Post reports that Taishun, Wencheng and Ruian churches in Zhejiang have also been served demolition orders, as have churches in Hebei and Shandong provinces, according to other reports.

    Church and religious leaders are taking action this week via a petition they are circulating, accusing officials of “gross interference” in religious freedoms, despite China’s constitution officially guaranteeing its citizens freedom of religion.

    As an official atheist state, China is only offers formal recognition to five religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Taoism. Among the Communist Party’s more than 85 million members, religious beliefs are officially discouraged, though some within the Party view and support religion as a means for maintaining social stability.

    “We call on to the Zhejiang government to immediately terminate its “Cross and Church Demolition” campaign,” the petition states.

    “Christianity has been practiced in China for more than 1,000 years and has become a part of society. The sudden government order… represents a gross interference in the beliefs and practices of worshippers.”

    Since an electronic version of the petition began circulating, more than 300 religious leaders had signed it within 24 hours, said Zheng Leguo, one of the petition’s authors and the preacher of Sanjiang church.

    As a long-standing critic of the Communist Party’s control of religion, Mr. Zheng wrote in a 2011 essay, “The Chinese law does not flagrantly state that it wants to ‘wipe out religions.’ Yet, in its intention to stunt the growth [of religion], the government has to take more covert means of disturbances or more pompous-sounding legal charges to restrict religious organizations.”

    While the petition’s authors are not intending to form an anti-government “movement,” they do plan on continuing their campaign through “non-violent” means, Mr. Zheng explained, adding, “We hope the government will understand our appeal and will not criminalize us.”

    The Christian community in China – congregants and leaders alike – is taking a courageous and passionate stand to protect and defend its right to worship freely. Are Christians in other nations of the world as eager to preserve their own God-given liberties, which are being systematically stripped away, day by day?

    In a recent interview Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, said he believed the Asian country could overtake Brazil, Mexico and the United States to become the world’s most numerous Christian congregation by 2030.
    However, Prof. Yang warned that Chinese Christians should brace themselves for growing interference as the Communist Party fought to stunt the Church’s growth.

    “History has proved and will prove again with this case that another church revival will happen after this new wave of persecution.”

    Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/May02/023.html#9otbr2Cit4kMseSM.99

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