Monday, November 30, 2015

Media Spin Watch, 2: A little girl in school (Grade 7) is challenged in a test to hold God a myth (or else a commonplace but dubious opinion)

In a 7th Grade critical thinking class, young Jordan Wooley was confronted with the following test item in critical thinking:

She objected -- under pressure in class, facing a Grade F it seems (as she understood it) -- that God is real, and that there is evidence (including Scripture) as to the reality of God.

It is worth adding further documentation from the local Fox26 report, to show that the assignment (despite what Principal and Board Leadership stated) was designed for assessment, including right after the Cheetah is the fastest land animal, God is Real:


After effort I found a video report by Fox26 -- who indicate corroboration by other families of students -- that I believe will embed:

Second Fox26 Local station Report:

WND Reports:
 12-year-old Jordan Wooley’s teacher assigned a quiz at West Memorial Junior High School asking students to label statements as “fact, assertion, or opinion.”

Statements included “America is the most free country on Earth,” and “there is a God.” Jordan said the assignment was to identify “factual claims, commonplace assertions and opinions.” She said she originally answered the statement “there is no God” in two ways, according to a local CBS News affiliate.

Jordan labeled the latter as “fact,” and her teacher told her to mark it otherwise, or face an “F” grade. [--> those who deny this need to give the answer conspicuously missing on the Fox26 video, when it was pointed out that the section in question was rated at 20 points, normally indicative of a significant grade weighting]

“I said it was fact or opinion,” Jordan told the station. “Based on my religion and based on what I think and believe, I do not think it was a commonplace assertion.”

Wooley says her seventh-grade reading teacher said both her answers were wrong and that she had to admit God wasn’t real.

“It was really confusing to me at first because I didn’t really know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mom,” Wooley said.

The child’s mother, Chantal, said, “That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom so who would want to be known. … So the kids were caught in a Catch-22. If they argued their faith, they were being told they were arguing against their faith and that happened in the classroom.”

Jordan later testified in front of Katy Independent School District’s Board of Education meeting on how her friend went home crying after the assignment for being forced to express doubts about her faith.
The Katy ISD released a statement saying, in part, that the assignment was intended to encourage critical thinking and dialogue and not question any students' religious beliefs [--> note, the reality of God is not a matter of mere belief, but seriously warranted conclusion, the terms of this Board answer are themselves quite revealing].
"Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued," Katy ISD said in its statement.

The district backed the teacher, who said the assignment was "misunderstood." However after its investigation, "the district said the particular assignment was 'unnecessary for achieving the instructional standard' and pointed out that the teacher is actually a Christian and the assignment was misunderstood," reported Christian Today.

"The teacher is distraught by this incident, as some commentary has gone as far as to vilify her without knowing her, her Christian faith, or the context of the classroom activity," Frailey said during a news conference on Wednesday.

Now Jordan is experiencing fallout from her refusal to back down from her story and for standing up for her beliefs. She says she has been bullied and told to kill herself after media coverage of the incident.
It seems obvious to me, just on the question sheet and the obvious distraught behaviour followed by rallying of courage to directly challenge a school board, that the girl is telling the substantial truth.

Now two things are very interesting.

First, on a complaint being made, there was denial (which has of course been trumpeted far and wide as fact . . . just google it), and in the video young Jordan is seen complaining to the school board that they misrepresented the truth and her classmates felt intimidated not to tell the truth as to what happened when she was challenged for giving a politically incorrect, conscience and conviction driven answer. As in, here comes the isolation and shaming tactic.

 Second, it is unreasonable to expect first formers or the equivalent to know off the bat the serious arguments for the reality of God AND it is utterly wrong -- even devilish -- to pressure people to deny sincerely held beliefs that those who compose curricula know or should know (likely, they don't, itself a failure of duties of care . . . ) have significant grounding and ought not be dismissed with in effect a blame the victim one liner. Where, anyone who is aware of current education policy and court rulings will know that the evidence and argument showing that substantial case will be censored out of the public school setting, backed by all sorts of activists and agendas. (And I intend to follow up on this subject, but for the moment cf. here on at 101 level.)

Rape of conscience and intellectual integrity, backed up by in effect blame the victim and then it's all a little misunderstanding.

 Here we see how the classroom is now a battleground with message dominance tactics coming from those who are patently atheistical and/or influenced unduly by such . . . including the classroom teacher who seems to have a Christian profession. END

PS: It should be noted that the Board treated this young Miss with courtesy when she spoke, though the issued ruling seems questionable.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

1 Chron 12:32 report, 123: Last Days paralysis/fatalism vs the gospel of the Kingdom of God (an error of imbalance)

In recent months, I have been forced by circumstances to take a much more prolonged look at Bible Prophecy and Last Days teachings -- the technical term is Eschatology, the Doctrine of Last Things -- in and around the Caribbean church than I have been naturally inclined to do. The resulting observations and reflections, I think I would like to share with others, towards a more balanced understanding and practice.

Thus, this blog post.

(And, as this is a most controversial area, I ask pardon if feathers are ruffled, inviting others to share their own thoughts. Thus, we may all grow to a more balanced view.)

First, I cannot but notice . . . as headlined . . . that we tend to a sort of induced passivity and even fatalism, as we reflect on how things seem to get worse and worse all around us.

I think this is an error of imbalance.

We tend to focus too much on the demonic riot and chaos stirred up by Satan as he sees his ever shortening time in the face of the coming and growing of the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus, and not enough on the revival, blessing and transforming renewal it brings.

As a first point of reference, as always, I draw attention to Our Lord's Olivet Discourse in Matt 24:
Matt 24:1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
I see here, a striking prediction of disaster (which came to pass scarcely forty years later) then a warning to be on guard against deception. 

A context of turmoil is put forward and we are told, such are early birth-pangs. 

A C1 AD silver coin celebrating Diana of the Ephesians
(Cf the story of Paul in Ephesus, Ac 19)
Next, there is the riot . . . hatred and persecution of the disciple leading to apostasy by many. An implication of which, is that -- as we see so often in the Acts -- there was first a revival as the gospel goes forward in power calling men to repentance and faith in Messiah. But, one man's blessed revival in the power of the Spirit who empowers witness and convicts men of sin, righteousness and judgement, is another man's rebuke or even (think of the idol-making silver smiths of Ephesus) financial ruin. 

Rage follows, and artfully stirred up riot.

If you cannot refute truth, you can easily distort it into what is hateful, stir up polarisation against it and those who stand by it, then mislead many to hate, dismiss, mock, oppose and attack the truth and the right.

And yes, who de cap fit, let 'im wear it.

There is therefore a call to endurance in the gospel.

Finally, we see the sign of the end: the gospel of the Kingdom goes forth as a testimony to all nations, and THEN the end comes in fulness, the culmination of history and prophecy.

I have therefore long contended that the principal sign of the last days is that the gospel goes forth in the Spirit's power and witness, bringing revival and triggering riots in retaliation. But always, the gospel keeps on going forth.

Again, Daniel 2 sets a context in which we can see the coming of the Kingdom of God as an Eschatological event (and obviously with Messiah as the Rock who falls on the Image and grinds it to powder, growing into a Mountain filling the Earth):

Thus, the Kingdom Message is foundational and the whole gospel message, starting with messiahship is through and through eschatological and transformational . . . the mountain that fills the earth:

Again, I point to Acts 2, where Peter says:
Ac 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[c] and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[d] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
So, clearly, IN the last days God pours out his Spirit, enabling global witness in power. Where from prophecy of Messiah forward, the whole of the gospel is eschatological. The dominant feature of the period -- a period marked by the paradox already- and- not- yet -- is the gospel as it comes to us and goes forth to the ends of the earth.

Then again, the same Peter counsels:
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Yet again:

2 Peter 3:This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]
So, we must not lose hope, nor be tempted to dismiss the force of God's word. Even as in good time Messiah came, just so in good time the culmination will come.

But meanwhile, we are to live as the people of the kingdom, and carry its message forward, not caught up in the intimidating power of the devilish riot and chaos, but steadfastly moving forward with the message of Messiah and the Kingdom of our God and his Christ.

A message that is especially relevant at this season of Advent. END

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DEVELOPING: Got 'e -- Terror Mastermind confirmed killed in the St Denis Raid

Sky News just announced from AP that one of the dead terrorists killed in St Denis yesterday morning was indeed the suspected mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud. This confirms reports circulating overnight such as at Breitbart:

The man believed to be the mastermind behind Friday’s Paris terror attacks that resulted in the deaths of over one-hundred people and wounded hundreds more has been killed in a police raid on his location, according to senior European intelligence officials.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man French authorities say was responsible for coordinating the terror attacks, was killed in a “blitz-style sweep” of jihadi hotbeds, the officials confirmed with the Washington Post.
Over 100 police and military personnel engaged in a seven-hour standoff with Abaaoud and two other fellow militants, who also died in the raid, according to the report. DNA found at the scene confirmed that the Belgian jihadi was neutralized, the intelligence officials said.
The terrorist was holed-up in an apartment in the Saint-Denis suburb of France, and police believe he was linked to a plot to stage another attack in a business district only 10 miles from the capital, the report stated, again citing unnamed police and investigative officials working on the case.
The raid in question appears to be the same operation that occurred Wednesday morning in Saint-Denis, when a female suicide bomber self-detonated her explosive vest after firing her  weapon at French police. An unidentified suspect was killed by a police sniper unit.
Seven others were arrested on the police mission, some parts of which were caught on video by a citizen bystander.
“We could see bullets flying and laser beams out of the window. There were explosions. You could feel the whole building shake,” Sabrine, a nearby neighbor, told Reuters.
The local government has closed Saint-Denis area schools Wednesday and area employees were told to stay home amid the chaos.
It remains unclear if Abdelhamid Abaaoud is the same man as someone referred to by Syrian ISIS members as “Abu Ibrahim Belgian.”

Daily Mail shows security camera footage of a terrorist spraying a Cafe with an AK 47, and walking up to try to shoot a woman under a table but the gun only clicked.

Breitbart: eight Syrians caught at the border in Laredo, Texas.

Daily Caller: at least fifteen terrorists are legal immigrants in the USA.

Today News: in a journalist investigative report, the TSA fails to find 3 of 4 weapons, reflecting grim statistics on a high failure rate:

Given that in calling for a 3 month state of emergency in the French legislature, the Prime Minister warned of chemical and biological weapons, we should be extremely concerned. END

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Developing: Police raid at an apartment in St Denis, Paris turns into a shootout and siege

Developing, from the Friday attacks in Paris.

Sky News Live:

Coverage in more details as the story developed is at UD, I had an open tab that drew my attention with sounds of a shootout. END

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Continued coverage of the Paris AK and suicide bomber attacks of Fri Nov 13, 2015

Sky News:

Death toll seems to be 127 or 128 -- the night club toll has been moved from 100 to 87. Sky news 6:25 am sat EC time says 99 critically injured. 1500 extra military on Paris's streets and 120,000 across France.

A Time report seems a useful summary:
Paris is on lockdown Friday night as a series of attacks shook the city, with at least 128 people reported dead in at least three locations.

Explosions were reported outside a France-Germany soccer match at Stade de France, at least 100 hostages were taken during a heavy metal concert at the Bataclan theater, and shootings were reported at the Le Petit Cambrodge restaurant and Le Carillon bar, which are right across the street from each other. Shots were also reported outside the nearby La Belle Equipe cafe. Authorities say shots were also fired at a sixth, undisclosed location. At least 120 people were killed in all.

Developing. END

Saturday, November 07, 2015

1 Chron 12:32 report, 122: Some thoughts on Daniel's seventy weeks prophecy

Again, I do not necessarily endorse all that is said by D Paul Beck (and actually have some concerns on points including on sniping asides he makes) but find enough merit and insight to suggest taking time to view:

Daniel's 70 Weeks - Part 1 from D. Paul Beck on Vimeo.

I might as well put up the part 2 also:

  Daniel's 70 Weeks - Part 2 from D. Paul Beck on Vimeo.

Please especially note the care with which interpretation and wider contextual issues are brought to bear, also the needs of the learner. 

And notice, even so, there are points that give pause or more than pause. This stuff is hard to do, it can be influenced by our theological biases and perceptions, and more. 

So we should avoid a false front of overly confident manner.

A benchmark that we need to do at least as well as in addressing not only prophecy but other themes. END

Friday, November 06, 2015

Media Spin watch, 1: Erick Erickson of Townhall tutors the US media on evangelical faith in America, and on Adventism

Erick Erickson of Townhall has provided a handy tutorial for the US media on evangelical faith in the USA.

He notes:
As Ben Carson rises and the media is confronted by some mysterious something called a "Seventh Day Adventist," it is time again to explain American Protestantism to the press. It is amazing how the American mainstream media continues to write about American Christianity with complete ignorance regarding its basic terms, history, and beliefs.
That is already a sad reflection on want of professionalism, and on lack of integrity. 

A major warning flag.

 He sums up:
mainline protestant denominations are Episcopalians, the United Methodists, the Presbyterians (USA), the American and Northern Baptists, the United Church of Christ, the Congregationalists, the Disciples of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

While evangelical churches are more mainstream in America, they are not considered mainline. Many evangelical churches branched off from the mainline. The Southern Baptists, the nation's largest protestant denomination, branched off from the Northern and American Baptist Churches. The Presbyterian Church in America, Evangelical Presbyterians, and Reformed Presbyterians broke away from the main Presbyterian Church, which is today the PCUSA. Anglicans have come back into the country in response to the ordination of gays within the Episcopalian Church.

I await the United Methodist Church splintering over that issue and the social gospel too. The Methodists are one of the last major mainline denominations not to have a serious split, but it is on the verge of happening. For those of you wondering where Mormons are on this list, I am not aware of any Christian denomination that considers the Latter Day Saints to actually be a part of Christianity.
 (You will want to look at his summary of Adventism, which I simply link. Note the concern on the status of the writings/ teachings of Mrs Ellen G White, despite the formal declaration that the Bible is the canon. CARM, here, is also worth noting -- including here on the signature issue of Sabbatarianism.)

If Mr Carson continues to emerge as a leading candidate [and note there is a gotcha hunt on him focussed on odd views he may have . . . the latest being who built the pyramids why], these issues will become fairly prominent.

 The underlying point of course is to characterise Christians who take the Bible seriously as idiots, ignoramuses or worse, unfit for high office or any responsible position.

A key to that is the use of the term "fundamentalism," and Erickson is right to note, on the underlying history of the modernist controversy:
Evangelical churches overall are growing. The charismatic churches are really seeing strong growth. All of these churches are much more concerned with fundamentalism -- which is, like "mainline" -- a specific term. 

When people talk about "fundamentalists" these days, they usually mean hard line Christians who are no fun. Actually, a "fundamentalist" is someone who subscribes to five specific points within Protestantism: 1) the inerrancy of the Bible; 2) the virgin birth of Christ; 3) the atonement of sins through Christ's death; 4) the bodily resurrection of Christ; and 5) the reality of Christ's miracles.
Of course, this post here at KF marks a new series, on spin games -- likely to get bigger and bigger with time. END