This morning the news was all about the fire at Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral. Journalists and the various “experts” they talked to were in shock over this great cultural loss.
I say to them:
Woe to you hypocrites who mourn the loss of a place of faith but you spent the last decades defaming and hating the people of faith. You care about a Catholic cathedral, but loathe the Church the building represents.
Woe to you hypocrites who weep over a burning church that was empty but ignore the daily burning of christians inside their places of worship.
Woe to you hypocrites who marvel at the faith and vision of christians half a millennium ago to build a place of worship, but condemn those of faith and vision today who speak words you do not want to hear.
Woe to you hypocrites who wail at the loss of material objects which you can see but ignore your own souls which you cannot see.
Woe to you who live only for your own pleasure.
Your salvation is in Jesus Christ alone who forgives our sins and rescues sinners from the fires of hell.
They say that you can tell who the most powerful group is in a society by noticing who cannot be criticised.
This Instagram post by Israel Folau has been widely condemned as “homophobic”. Nobody from the “Drunk Community”, Adultering Community, the Liars Community, the Thieves Community or the Atheist and Idolatry Communities have made any complaints that we have heard about.
Just one noisy group whose directive has led to yet another public smack down.
So which so-called “victim group” wields more power than any other identity group in Australia?
A great article here by Bill Muehlenberg about Rugby star Israel Folau’s uncompromising commitment to faith
So what does the Australian Rugby star and the great apostle of 2000 years ago have in common? Both are followers of Jesus Christ and both take their faith seriously. And they take sin seriously, speaking out on it when they can. Both have warned people that the consequences of sin is death and eternal judgment.
And both have been hated on for speaking the truth. Paul constantly got into trouble for sharing God’s truth with those who did not want to hear it, and so has Israel Folau. Indeed, I have written several pieces on the Australian sportsman already. See here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/04/06/folau-and-unacceptable-truth/
As to the Apostle Paul, let’s look at how he described his lot, as he spoke truth, shared the gospel, and warned sinners of their fate. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 we read:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
Hmm, it seems most folks really did not like it when Paul shared biblical truth. Most folks hated it, and they reacted to his preaching accordingly. And nothing has changed. For two thousand years Christians have been hated on for preaching the gospel.
That is always the way it is. As Jesus forewarned, people love darkness rather than light, and they will hate his messengers just as they hated him. This is as basic as you can get. Sharing Christian truth WILL always offend people. And it is Folau who is again feeling the heat big time for daring to share biblical truth in public.
He had recently responded to the news that Tasmania has passed new legislation making gender optional on birth certificates. To this he replied: “The devil has blinded so many people in this world, REPENT and turn away from your evil ways. Turn to Jesus Christ who will set you free”.
He also posted an image on Instagram with these words: “Warning – drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters – hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.” Next to this image were these biblical truths and passages:
Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 KJV
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38 KJV
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:
Acts 17:30 KJV
Needless to say all the usual suspects were livid because of his remarks: atheists, homosexuals, those in the lamestream media, and so on. And his own in the sporting world turned on him as well. As one article reports:
Rugby Australia released a statement shortly after saying the post was ‘unacceptable’. “Rugby Australia is aware of a post made by Israel Folau on his Instagram account this afternoon,” Rugby Australia said in a statement. “The content within the post is unacceptable. It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the Rugby community.
“The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit has been engaged on the matter tonight.” Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons wrote that Folau’s latest post should see Rugby Australia cut their ties with the 73-test Wallaby. “Israel Folau has to go, and will go,” the former Australian test player wrote. “Quick. Clean. Gone. At least until such times as he repents.”
“Rugby Australia simply has no choice. They cannot go through one more time the agony of last year when Folau’s social media comments trumpeting that gays would go to hell, saw rugby lose sponsors, fans and support,” FitzSimons said in the Sydney Morning Herald.
According to rugby.com.au, there was a reported clause in Folau’s contract negotiations last year that was specific to his use of social media. The tweet has been widely shared and commented on, with most people responding having a negative view of his comments.
So here we have the world turning on him – once again. He is not being a good boy. He refuses just to be a star athlete. When he just did sport, everyone loved him. But he also takes his faith seriously – much more seriously than his own career. And for that everyone hates him.
But as is usually the case, it is not just the God-haters who went ballistic at Folau. We also had plenty of trendy lefty Christians and members of the religious left strongly condemning him. ‘Oh but Jesus would never speak to people this way.’ ‘You need to be more loving and less intolerant and judgmental.’
Um, actually no one warned more about hell and judgment to come than Jesus Christ. And given that Folau did basically nothing but quote from Peter and Paul who were inspired by God to say and write what they did, these critics are simply out to lunch.
The truth is Folau may not always be as tactful or delicate as some of these craven Christians and men-pleasing believers want him to be, but he has courage and conviction. I will take that any day of the week over these milquetoast pansies who likely have never shared the gospel with anyone all their lives.
These armchair critics are a dime a dozen. They love to condemn bold and courageous Christians, while they grovel before the world, seeking to befriend it and get along with it. The Bible is quite clear about the sin of trying to please men while displeasing God. Consider just a few passages:
-Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their father to the false prophets.
-John 12:42-43 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
-Galatians 1:10. Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Sure, we all want to be tactful and careful as we share biblical truth in public. But we also need some Holy Ghost boldness here. If you see a little girl playing on the street and a big truck hurtling her way, if you cared at all, you would yell, scream, jump up and down and do all you can to save her.
You would NOT try to be polite, respectful and calm, making sure no one gets offended. You would act quickly and sound the alarm because a life is at risk. Folau gets it: all people are sinners and they are all heading to a lost eternity unless they repent.
They must be warned. They must be told. Sure, it is always nice if this can be done over a period of time with a nice relationship established. But we do not always have that luxury. Some of the people who read Folau’s warnings today may well be dead tomorrow.
In the same way hoping to build a relationship with the little girl first would be madness. Whether she is a friend, relative, or a complete stranger, she NEEDS that warning or she will die. All unbelievers need such warnings too. Yet most Christians have never shared their faith even once.
They are far too cowardly and too spineless. They would rather keep people happy, even if it means watching them slide into a lost eternity. I may not always do things as Folau does them, but I will give him credit. He has more guts than most believers.
And he seems to care about the lost a whole lot more than most believers. If these spineless wonders want to sit on the sidelines and criticise him, well, I am not really interested in what they have to say. They remind me of the woman who went up to the great evangelist D. L. Moody and complained about the way he evangelised. As the story goes:
The woman said to him, “Mr. Moody, I don’t like the way you do evangelism!” “Well, ma’am, let me ask you, how do you do it?” Moody asked. She replied, “I don’t!” Moody responded, “Well, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it!”
Three cheers for Israel Folau.
A very powerful message from Ann Voskamp about the power of the Bible.
When you first meet this guy named Joshua, you’d never know that he’s been in the mouth of a lion.What do you say to a man who’s walked out of the mouth of a lion? Only to give his entire life to the Lion and the Lamb?
You’d never have the faintest idea that lion teeth slammed down on his waist while he was just a kid sleeping out in the wilderness with his herd of goats.
Clenched between the incisors and canine teeth of the lion, Joshua found himself dragged into the bush, braced to be ripped apart for a pulpy nocturnal feast for the beast.
And in the split second that the lion dropped the mangled boy to get a better grip, the kid’s barking dog lunged in between the lion and the boy, growling and snarling, holding the lion at bay until near-by goat herders snapped awake and dragged the barely-alive Joshua out of the lion’s deadly reach.
The boy lived to become a scarred man. What do you say to a man who’s walked out of the mouth of a lion? Only to give his entire life to the Lion and the Lamb?
“Why?” I ask Joshua standing there in the wilderness, holding the reins of a camel. “Why — give your entire adult life, nearly the last three decades of your life, to translating the Bible into the language of your people?”
Joshua leans forward. “It is like giving them a weapon.” He points to a tree where women in these stacking rings of glorious, rattling beads are gathered under its branches.
“One of those women told me said “Now you have given us a weapon that we can use. Which is God’s Word. It’s like you have given us a spear that we can use to fight a spiritual warfare.”
Because you have to beat back your lion attacks, because “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Joshua holds up a Bible.How would everything in this tilting world stand stronger if the Word of God laid more open for us than closed?
“This is — powerful. The weapon is God’s Word. Now, we can be equipped. But the problem is now — we need the other bigger part of the weapon. The Old Testament. We also need the Old Testament.”
Read the rest of this article here
Next Saturday there is a state election in NSW. State elections tend not to gain a lot of attention in Australia but this one is a turning point in the history of the nation.
In a few months there will be a Federal election which will pit a christian PM against an extreme left wing opposition leader. The choice in NSW will set the path for the general election later.
Here are the issues that the media are burying but are critical to our future.
Labor are set to legalise abortion if elected. NSW is one of just two states where abortion remains illegal, at least in theory. There is no doubt that this will change if Michael Daly becomes premier.
SRE or Scripture in Schools will be in the sights of a Labor Government. There is no doubt of that at all. For years the Teachers Unions have dominated ALP education policy. they will move quickly to keep christians out of schools.
The deceptive Safe Schools program will again be indoctrinating our kids against christian family values.
These three things by themselves will lead the Government in a path that takes the state further from Christian values.
Mario Murillo, in a recent blog, points out that in California, the people claiming to be christians voted for a state government that is as far left as anything we can imagine here. Political ideology outweighs faith commitments,
We need to pray about who we vote for, but we also must pray for the whole state, that righteous men and women will rise to power- in both the state and Federal elections.
From First Things
Eternal damnation has never been a wildly popular doctrine, but it seems to be coming under particular pressure at the moment. Public intellectuals like Stephen Greenblatt shake their heads at the teaching; eccentric theologians think up arguments against it; when Church leaders are asked about it, they often respond with ambiguity and embarrassment. No wonder the New Yorker’s Vinson Cunningham was recently moved to ask Catholics: “What modern believer wouldn’t want to cast off this old, sadistic barrier to faith in a loving God? What kind of deity draws such a hard line between his friends and his enemies, and holds an eternal grudge? Surely the loss of hell—even the idea of such a loss—should come as a bit of a relief.”
My gut reaction is sympathetic to Cunningham’s point, and such reactions shouldn’t be simply dismissed. But they should be tested. When an emotional response can’t be given a logical foundation; when it relates to something about which we are, necessarily, very ignorant; and when its implications are untenable—then it’s safe to conclude that the emotion is misleading.
Start with the logical foundation. Sin deserves punishment; in life we can always turn back toward God’s mercy, but the philosophers tell us that at death, the soul can no longer change its ways. Before death we can be swayed this way and that by our feelings and habits. But when the soul is separated from the body, this changeability ends and we are left with a single orientation. If we have turned toward God before death, we will find happiness; if we have chosen something else instead, we are in mortal sin, and our just punishment will continue for as long as we reject God—that is, forever. The inhabitants of hell go on choosing their fate: “The damned are so obstinate in their sins,” writes St. Alphonsus Liguori, “that even if God offered pardon, their hatred for him would make them refuse it.”
The attempts to pick holes in this argument are not, as far as I can see, successful: Interested readers can find a useful series of refutations here. The real objection, I think, is less logical than intuitive: Even if some punishment is necessary, isn’t hell excessive?
But here we are reduced to saying, “Surely…” about things we have not begun to grasp: the hideousness of sin, for example. Most of us, if asked to estimate how bad our sins are without the benefit of revelation, would say that although we hadn’t always conducted ourselves very honorably, we didn’t hurt anyone that much, and after all we’ve had a tough life and we’re pretty decent people overall. We would not guess, if we did not already know, that God came to earth and was humiliated and tortured to death for our sins. Do we really have a clue about the gravity of our offenses? Similarly, none of us have seen what a soul in mortal sin looks like after death, when its good impulses have fallen away and nothing remains but the desire for evil. I could opine on what strikes me as a fair punishment for unrepented mortal sin, just as I could opine, without googling, on the Olympic hopes of Azerbaijan’s national basketball team. But as it happens I know nothing about basketball, and I suspect most of our intuitions about the gravity of sin are worth even less.
Fortunately, we are not totally ignorant, because we have the guidance of the Church. Not just the authoritative teaching statements, though that is enough, but all the expressions of the Church’s wisdom through 2000 years: the standard interpretation of many, many verses in the Old and New Testaments; the sermons of the saints, with their terrible warnings about the next life; the ancient prayer of the Mass that we be “delivered from eternal damnation”; the mystics, including those of the last century, who saw things that nearly made them die of fright; Dante’s Inferno and Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.
And then there is St. Thomas More at his trial, saying that if he was not telling the truth “then pray I that I may never see God in the face”; the little children of Fatima doing their penances to help imperiled sinners, and in the process launching one of the great devotions of the twentieth century; the testimony of exorcists who, in the course of their liberating work, have spoken with demons about the next life; the countless holy men and women who have gone out to preach and care for the sick and spend themselves in love—not mostly, but partly, because they feared what they might hear on Judgment Day; the countless ordinary men and women who have forced themselves into the confessional—not wholly, but perhaps, on that day, mostly, because they believed they needed urgent rescuing. If Catholicism is the work of the Holy Spirit, then it looks like this is one of the truths He wants to lead us to.
Even non-Catholics will have to contend with Jesus’s words on this subject, which seem designed to make impossible the sort of creative rereading of which modern scholars are fond. He speaks, repeatedly, of the unquenchable fire. It is hard to downplay this and call it the fire of God’s love, because he also promises to tell the damned: “I never knew you.” He employs vivid images, like the narrow gate, but you cannot say his teaching is all metaphorical, because he describes literally the desperation of hell: “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Our Lord does not sound like he is referring to some process of difficult but healthy purification. He sounds like he is warning of a fate worse than death. Get rid of the doctrine of hell, and you will ultimately have to treat Jesus as though he does not know what he is talking about. For any Christian, that is an untenable conclusion.
Is belief in hell a barrier to faith in a loving God? Apparently not, because the saints, whose lives were filled with the love of God and neighbor, saw the reality of hell more clearly than anyone. Perhaps this is not so surprising: It makes sense that those who truly understand the mercy of God also understand the consequences of rejecting it.
Dan Hitchens is deputy editor of the Catholic Herald.