Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Blessed use of speech

I can think of no better way to use our power of speech than to put the following prayer into action every day.  Submit yourself to the Lord and ask him that you would be a real and blessed instrument in His hands this day
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith ;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Tongue

When I was a young Christian two inter-related events occurred in the church I attended.Two ladies, a rather staid woman in her mid forties and her equally staid daughter, arrived in the church. Both seemed a bit odd and mildly eccentric. A few months later I was told that both had been asked to leave the church, a sort of mild excommunication I suppose. When I enquired as to the reason for this sudden departure I was told that they had been asked to leave because of their gossip and slander.
It was about this time that the pastor gave a few sermons on the use and abuse of the tongue. I suppose I have listened to thousands of sermons in my lifetime, most of which I have totally forgotten, but these sermons remain in my memory to this day. I still have a very tender conscience whenever I am tempted to pass on a juicy morsel of gossip or to say anything uncharitable about a fellow believer. Unfortunately I must admit that I have been times when I have failed to live up to what I was taught at that time. The urge to gossip is a temptation that bugs everyone of us at times.

The Bible has s surprising amount to say about the use of the tongue. In the Old Testament alone the word is used over 200 times. Its importance can be seen in crucial places in the New Testament as well. Our very salvation is caught up with the use of the tongue, as can be seen in Romans 10:8-15. The passage states "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" for " the "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Internal assent is not enough; confession with the tongue is essential.
But what I want to deal with is the wrong use of the tongue. The passage dealing with the matter is found in James 3:2-12, the passage my pastor based his sermons on. These verses are worthy of deep study. They are written in passionate elegant Greek worthy of a classic Stoic diatribe.
I shall add comments on the passage in my next post.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

British Attitudes 2

One of the most startling facts facing the church in the British Isles is the steep decline in church-going and an increasing lack of interest in the Christian faith.  Between 7.6 and 10% attend a church on Sunday at the present time, and in some white working class areas the percentage is even lower.  Ofsted have noted that the level of ignorance about the Bible and Christianity among the young is very disturbing and even among teachers the situation is not much better.  Only half of a survey could name one of the four gospels, whereas 60% percent knew that the Koran was the sacred book of the Islamic faith.  Over 65% of British people have no contact with any church. Only 40% believe in God, whereas in America the number is 80%
We are heading for a constitutional crisis. When Prince Charles becomes the monarch the number of Muslim worshippers could exceed the number worshipping in the Anglican Church, which is the Established church of these islands.  Indeed Prince Charles has let it be known widely that he does not want to called Defender of the Faith,a title that every British monarch has used since Henry 8th, but Defender of Faiths.
The decline is especially seen in the Catholic and Methodist Churches.  It has been said that by 2030 the Methodist church will cease to exist.  There some beacons of hope among the charismatic churches, but in most churches any increase in numbers can be accounted for by the immigration of Poles and West Africans.

All this can be compared to the situation in May 1940.  The situation this country faced was nothing short of catastrophic.  Three hundred and fifty thousand of our soldiers were trapped in Dunkirk, surrounded by the victorious panzers of Rommel and Guderian.  Churchill became Prime minister on the 20th May and he decided to go down fighting rather than become the slaves of the Nazis.  On the 26th King George 6th and the Prime Minister called a National day of Prayer, an event unthinkable today.  That Sunday the churches were packed and on the very next day a decision was made to attempt the perilous evacuation of our troops from the shallow beaches of Dunkirk and the remains of adjoining heavily bombed port.  For some strange reason Hitler had ordered his tanks to halt and regroup for essential maintenance. This gave our nation a breathing space. During the next week eight hundred vessels ranging from fishing smacks and pleasure cruisers to regular destroyers lifted the whole of the British army, plus thousands of French troops, from under the noses of the Wehrmacht.  The British looked upon this deliverance as a miracle. 
One wonders what would happen to this country today if we were faced with a similar catastrophic danger

The beach and Port of Dunkirk today.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

British Attitudes

Anyone looking at the current scene in Britain will speedily come to the conclusion that the British have lost their nerve.  Gone is the self-confidence of the Victorian era and the era that came to an end at the close of the second World War.  We have gradually lost our self assurance and confidence.  Generations of school children have been taught directly or obliquely that our history and our culture is full of shameful episodes and we have no reason to be proud of our achievements.  I know this is true because I was for many years a purveyor of this denigrating attitude. Most teachers I mixed with would rather be labelled a crook than a patriot.  Instead of extolling the incredible achievements of the Industrial Revolution and the amazing inventiveness of the likes of Stephenson and Telford, the emphasis has been on the horrors of child labour and the cruelty of the capitalist system.  The British Empire has hardly been mentioned at all, and if it was, little was said of its positive input into so many nations, the main emphasis being on the aggressive and racially-motivated greed of the colonialists.  Yet, as a recent historian has written,  the British Empire, though no charitable organisation, was as empires go, the most benign and pacific that the world had ever seen. (See Niall Ferguson, The British Empire).  As result we have a generation that lives in a sort of cultural vacuum.  They are not sure what our culture really is and whether it is worth-while defending it.  Those with an old-fashioned liberal education are often amazed how little even intelligent young people know about their history and culture.  So when another self-confident culture asserts its claims most British people are so riddled with feelings of insecurity and even racial guilt that they meekly give way.
As an illustration I should like to mention what happened in 2007.  At the passing out parade of cadets at Hendon, presided over by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, a Muslim lady cadet refused to shake hands with the commissioner or even join in the group photo.  Sir Ian was furious.  This act of defiance against long-standing cultural norms was obviously not the brain-child of the cadet.  Very few cadets would be brave enough to make such a challenge.  She had obviously been coached by other Muslims.  They guessed and guessed rightly that when push came to shove the Police would cave in rather than be accused of racial and religious insensitivities.  The cadet was accepted and was sent to West London, where she would not offend any of her co-religionists.
It is into this dangerous social and spiritual vacuum that Islam is spreading.  They see a culture that is ripe for exploitation.  Push wisely and hard and the indigenous population will give way.  
The most amazing sights that I have seen recently are the demonstrations by the British Defence League against the Islamisation of Britain and counter demonstrations of the Muslims.  These counter demonstrations are invariably supported by left-wing activists.  Don't these left-wingers realise that if Islamism ever came to power in this nation the first group to be crushed would be these same left-wingers?

In case anyone thinks that I am against Muslims in general I would like to say that this is not true.  I have Muslim friends and I consider the majority to be hard-working and peaceful folk who are proud to have been born into this country.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

I*SLA*M 2.

When Muhammed died in 632 he could look back on a life of remarkable achievement.  Orphaned early in life and without an education, he had united the disparate factions and squabbling tribes of Arabia into a semblance of religious and political unity.  He had imposed on his compatriots a revolutionary faith that claimed to be the the final prophetic revelation of Allah.  They accepted him as the supreme prophet and apostle and the Koran as the infallible and authoritative word of God.  He was very far from being the simple impostor that earlier European historians described.  He was obviously a very remarkable man, skilful in diplomacy, engaging in social life, but all the while having a streak of ruthlessness when necessary.  This was shown in the destruction of 800 males of the Jewish Quraysh tribe after the Battle of the Trench outside Medina.

After his death there occurred the most amazing example of military expansion the world has ever seen, one that rivals that of Alexander, but with the added bonus of permanence.  Within two years of his death, Damascus had been taken by the Arabs, Jerusalem a few years later, and the  whole of Egypt by 642.  By 711 the Muslim empire stretched from  Spain in the West to Afghanistan in the East.  With the sole exception of Spain, the lands conquered at that time remain Muslims lands to this day.  How  were all these victories achieved?  These are the main reasons.  The Muslim armies were fired by a zeal that they were inspired by Allah to bring salvation to a benighted race. Secondly, the two major powers in the prosperous lands to the north of Arabia had been squabbling and fighting for years.  Both the Byzantines and the Persians had reached a point of exhaustion.  Thirdly, the Semitic Christians in Syria and Palestine were sick of the corrupt and oppressive Greek-speaking rulers in Constantinople. They thought that Muslim rule would probably be milder and fairer than what they were experiencing.

In 732 Muslim armies based in Spain crossed the Pyrenees and advance towards Paris. At Tours one of the most important of world battles took place.  Charles the Hammer of France defeated the Muslim armies and they retreated back to Spain.

The next few centuries are fondly looked upon by most Muslims as their Golden Age.  They translated and meditated on the Greek classics and in the royal courts Muslim and Jewish  and Christian scholars studied and discussed basic problems in science and mathematics.  As one contemporary Muslim scientist writes,  "Between the the 9th and the 13th centuries the only people doing decent work in science, philosophy, or medicine were Muslims."
Then, in the early 12th century,  a book was published by a very learned Sufi scholar that has had a deep influence on I*slam.  Al Ghazzali, concerned that the writings of Plato and Aristotle were far too popular and there was a consequent decline of faith among Muslims as a result, published his book, The Incoherence of the Philosophers.  In it he strove to highlight the contradictions found in Greek philosophers.  In it he championed revelation over reason and predestination over free-will.  One of his doctrines was what is known as occasionalism.  It is an attack on the basic assumption of all science- the concept of cause and effect.  For example, take petrol, fire and oxygen.  Moderns believe that if you put these three together you will get an explosive reaction without exception.  The known properties of the three items mentioned makes an explosion inevitable. Ghazzali said that God directly intervenes in all the observable cases because it is His will, not because of the intrinsic certainties involved. Most say you cannot have a science based on the momentary arbitrary will of something external to matter.  A lot of Muslim intellectuals believe that it is from this period that Muslim science declined.  While the West pursued Scientific enquiry at an ever increasing rate the Muslim world retreated back in a rigid orthodoxy that has continued to this day.
In the terrase cafes of Cairo, among the intellectuals who meet there, one of the perennial topics of conversation is the backwardness of Arab and Muslim states in general. They admit that Islamic nations are scientifically and economically far behind Western nations. One Pakistani physicist has done a survey on scientific papers published in the past few years.  Less than 2% are produced in the whole of the Muslim world,  a figure which is a slightly lower  than that of Spain.
There are more books and scientific papers published in Israel than in the whole of the surrounding Arab states put together.  Muslim scientists are eternally wary of offending the current religious orthodoxy. The spirit of free enquiry is stifled.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


There is no doubt about it.  Our politicians and the intellectual classes haven't a clue how to deal with the ideas and  actions of a resurgent, militant I*sla*m.  The whole business does not come into their mental framework. The cosy liberal consensus that has ruled, apart from the blip of Nazism, most of Europe for the past three centuries, and the current craze for multiculturalism, don't know how to react to a faith that rejects the democratic process, that derides the whole system of what they call man-made laws,  and will have nothing to do with the separation of Church and State that has dominated European thinking since the beginning of the eighteenth century.   
Militant I*sla*m takes pride in stating that their religion encompasses all facets of life, whether it be religious, political, moral and social.  They want to impose on Europe a Theocracy based on Sharia law and centred around a restored Caliphate in Turkey. Above all they want to suppress freedom of debate.  They detest our freedom to ruthlessly analyse and even criticise all religious pretensions.  To the islamist criticism is simply blasphemy.  They are pressing in the UN that a bill should be passed outlawing all criticism of religion.   Our intellectuals shudder and protest meekly that nothing has been seen like this in England since the Civil War that ended in 1651.  
The other point that confuses and scares the pants off our chattering classes is the acceptance in militant Islam of the proposition that the end justifies the means, a moral doctrine that has always been rejected by Christian moral philosophers. That means that deception (taqqiya in Arabic) and extreme violence can legitimately be used if they achieve the advancement of Islam.  Our writers and serious journalists who love to ridicule and marginalise everything Christian have suddenly been struck dumb.  They remember the fate of Salman Rushdie, who went into hiding after publishing The Satanic Verses in 1988.  However, their fears are not trivial. A French philosopher, Robert Redeker,  wrote an article in Le Figaro, criticising Islam in 2006.  He received death threats and had to go into hiding.  Geert Wilders of Holland, a controversial politician who campaigns against the Islamification of Europe, never sleeps in the same house for two nights and rarely sees his wife.  Dutch Islamists have vowed to kill him. Theo Van Gogh, a descendent of the painter, made a programme about domestic violence in I*sla*m, was shot eight times and had his throat slit in the middle of Amsterdam by a Islamic radical in 2004.
As a result  of this you rarely if ever see a radical critique of Islamic doctrine or history in the serious press or on TV.  Most TV companies avoid any programme that would upset Muslims.  The reason for all this moderation and hesitation is simple - fear.