Contending for the Faith

Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world

BBC News reports: “The Rev Klaas Hendrikse can offer his congregation little hope of life after death, and he’s not the sort of man to sugar the pill.

An imposing figure in black robes and white clerical collar, Mr Hendrikse presides over the Sunday service at the Exodus Church in Gorinchem, central Holland.

It is part of the mainstream Dutch Protestant Church, and the service is conventional enough, with hymns, readings from the Bible, and the Lord’s Prayer. But the message from Mr Hendrikse’s sermon seems bleak – ‘Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you get’.

‘Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death,’ Mr Hendrikse says. ‘No, for me our life, our task, is before death.’

Nor does Klaas Hendrikse believe that God exists at all as a supernatural thing.

‘When it happens, it happens down to earth, between you and me, between people, that’s where it can happen. God is not a being at all… it’s a word for experience, or human experience.’

Mr Hendrikse describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life…” (I Timothy 4:1 – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;“)

Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death Could Be Executed if He Doesn’t Recant

Fox News reports: “Iran’s Supreme Court says an evangelical pastor charged with apostasy can be executed if he does not recant his faith, according to a copy of the verdict obtained by a religious rights activist group.

Christian Solidarity World says Iranian-born Yousef Nadarkhani, who was arrested in 2009 and given the death sentence late last year, could have his sentence suspended on the grounds that he renounce his faith.

Those who know him say he is not likely to do that, for if he were disposed to giving it up, he would have done it long ago.

If Nadarkhani does not recant, his fate is unclear. It’s believed his case would then be remanded to lower courts in Iran.

Recently the U.S. State Department issued the following remarks: ‘We are dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Yousef Nadarkhani to recant his faith or face the death penalty for apostasy, a charge based on his religious beliefs. If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990. He is just one of thousands who face persecution for their religious beliefs in Iran, including the seven leaders of the Baha’i community whose imprisonment was increased to twenty years for practicing their faith and hundreds of Sufis who have been flogged in public because of their beliefs.’

Christian and human rights groups say apostasy isn’t even codified in Iranian law.

‘From a human rights perspective, you can’t criminalize someone’s choice of religion, much less execute them for that,’ says Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Nadarkhani, from Rasht, on the Caspian Sea, converted to Christianity as a teenager. He is reportedly an effective pastor, who has converted an unknown number of people from Islam to Christianity…” (American devotion to Christianity is on the way to apostate blasphemy as 57% of the evangelicals believe there are other ways to heaven besides Jesus. This is a rejection of over 400 Biblical texts that Jesus is the only way. See such texts as John 8:24, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Galatians 3:26; etc. Order my book “Great Salvation Themes” for a listing of all 400 verses.)

‘Rapture’ real aftermath: Beheadings, shootings, mass graves

WorldNetDaily.com reports: “The executive director of a ministry that works with the persecuted church in the northern reaches of Vietnam says he’s outraged that a ‘prophecy’ by an American preacher apparently cost the lives of many tribal Hmong people who believed it.

The prediction by Harold Camping, 89, of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, was that Jesus Christ would return to Earth to ‘rapture’ his followers to heaven on May 21. Camping said mankind had run out of time, and the Creator of the universe would arrive on that Saturday.

The horrific aftermath of the unfulfilled prophecy was reported by James Jacob Prasch, a key leader of Moriel Ministries, which emphasizes the ‘last days apostasy’ discussed in the Bible and ministers to persecuted church members…

Prasch routinely travels and meets with members of the Christian body worldwide. A recent trip took him to Vietnam, where a large number of the Hmong tribal peoples of the nation’s Central Highlands are Christian.

They are referred to in the West as Montagnards.

They had heard of Camping’s prophecy and not having sophisticated methods for evaluating its validity, took it literally, he explained.

The result, for many, was death, Prasch reported in an email…” (God forgive Harold Camping for his blasphemous ‘end of the world’ teaching based on six misinterpreted biblical texts. 120 times the Bible teaches the world will never end. See Ecclesiastes 1:4; Psalm 104:5; Isaiah 45:17; Ephesians 3:21.)

Great darkness in Egypt

YnetNews.com reports: “Maha, an Egyptian merchant in her 40s, doesn’t sleep well at night. Ever since the January 25 revolution, she is experiencing a difficult period. ‘In the first days of the mass demonstrations against Mubarak, my mother and me couldn’t even sleep because of fear,’ said the Christian Copt. ‘We didn’t know what will happen to us. Ever since then, even though the general security situation in the country has stabilized, our fears were confirmed.’

In recent months we have seen significant escalation in violent clashes between radical Islamists and members of the Copt minority across Egypt. It started with the lethal suicide attack in one of Alexandria’s main churches in the first days of the year, even before the popular protest against Mubarak gained steam. Twenty three worshippers were murdered and some 100 were wounded…

Maha has no doubt as to who stands behind the growing violence against Copts – the Salafiyun, the ultra-conservative Islamic camp. Al-Qaeda’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri hailed from the Salafiyun’s ranks. So did Mohammed Atta, the commander of the September 11 attacks, who was a member of mosque affiliated with the movement. The Salafiyun are inspired by Saudi Arabia and seek to impose traditions from the early days of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad era.

‘They hate everyone,’ said Maha. ‘They also hate Muslims who are not like them, but they mostly hate us, Christians. One of their leaders said during a TV show that he dreams of waking up one day and discovering that Egypt is free of Christians. ‘They should go to the US and Canada,’ he said. ‘It’s not their country.’ Unbelievable chutzpah….we were in this country hundreds of years before Islam and the Arabs arrived.’…” (While apostate religious ministers attempted to promote Chrislam, a combining of Christianity and Islam in America on June 26, 2011 in 26 states, the slaughter of Christians in Muslim lands presently hits epidemic proportions. Promoting such a blasphemous movement is a one way street – beware – Romans 16:17; II Corinthians 6:14 – 18.)

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Anti-Witchcraft Unit’ breaks another spell

The Jerusalem Post reports: “When the severed head of a wolf wrapped in women’s lingerie turned up near the city of Tabouk in northern Saudi Arabia authorities knew they had another case of witchcraft on their hands, a capital offence in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom.

Agents of the country’s Anti-Witchcraft Unit were quickly dispatched and set about trying to break the spell that used the beast’s head.

Saudi Arabia takes witchcraft so seriously that it has banned the Harry Potter series by British writer J.K. Rowling, rife with tales of sorcery and magic. It set up the Anti-Witchcraft Unit in May 2009 and placed it under the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPV), Saudi Arabia’s religious police.

‘In accordance with our Islamic tradition we believe that magic really exists,’ Abdullah Jaber, a political cartoonist at the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, told The Media Line. ‘The fact that an official body, subordinate to the Saudi Ministry of Interior, has a unit to combat sorcery proves that the government recognizes this, like Muslims worldwide.’

The unit is charged with apprehending sorcerers and reversing the detrimental effects of their spells. On the CPV website, a hotline encourages citizens across the kingdom to report cases of sorcery to local officials for immediate treatment.

In the case of the wolf’s head, the Anti-Witchcraft Unit in Tabouk was able to break the spell. The Saudi daily Okaz reported that the unknown family that had fallen victim to the spell had been ‘liberated from the jaws of the wolf.’

The Anti-Witchcraft Unit was created in order to educate the public about the danger of sorcerers and ‘combat manifestations of polytheism and reliance on other Gods,’ the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The belief in sorcery is so widespread in Saudi Arabia, that it is even used as a defense in criminal court cases. Last October, a judge accused of receiving bribes in a real-estate project told a court in Madinah that he had been bewitched and is undergoing treatment by Quranic incantations, known as ruqiyah, a common remedy for the evil eye…” (Witchcraft will be prominent during the reign of the Antichrist and false prophet – Leviticus 19:31, 20:6; Isaiah 8:19, 19:3; I Timothy 4:1; I John 4:1 – 3.)