Sunday Faith News/Views 7-17-11: Egypt, Iran, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul

In my Sunday Faith News/Views posts I connect politics and Christianity, because in my opinion, there is no separating the two until we leave this earth for our heavenly home. Along with rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, without the faith and confidence of God’s promises, and our own consciousness of morality through the Word of God, our Republic will be torn apart. See a video below with ways you might help an Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy and another showing other Iranian Christian prisoners arrested in just the last few months.

Benjamin Franklin

In Views, mine and Benjamin Franklin’s:

“We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel:

We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages.

And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest. ~ Benjamin Franklin, Congressional Congress 1787

Franklin’s quote is what we are experiencing today; the absence of the Word of God, laboring outside of it, divided by our local and personal interests, and if we don’t fix it soon, we will be the by-word for a generation of greed and folly.

There are certainly times over the last 4-1/2 years that I have despaired of ever again seeing human wisdom leading our country.

Disclaimer: I understand that history reveals Franklin to be a deist, and if he truly was, it’s wise to note that in front of Congress he referred to the “sacred writings,” (sacred: inviolate, sacrosanct, divine).

Paul’s thorn in the flesh:

2nd Corinthians 12:7 … “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

My favorite Christian blogger, Carl Middleton at GOD’S ANSWER is always Jesus is discussing the Apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” My question is this, readers: Is Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the same as your thorn in your flesh? Don’t we all think we are afflicted with at least one devilish thorn? Our thorns are decidedly not the same as Paul’s as we have not had revealed to us, what Paul had revealed to him (or maybe some of you have?).

Carl explores what being buffeted by the “messenger of Satan,” as was Paul, actually means. I believe many of us take on Paul’s thorn and claim it as our own, because it’s an easier excuse for whatever we are thorn-pricked about.

But Paul…he was one of the first Christians, without the long history we have, yet with Jesus in his midst, Paul and the other Apostles did not understand the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that Christ promised them, until after the resurrection.

We are buffeted by the storms of life, but Satan targeted Paul specifically at that early time of Christianity, I think, because God revealed great visions of the Truth and The Way to him.

I have not given away Carl’s study of the thorn…just gave you a few of my thoughts as it applies to you and me. Carl is sticking to Paul and his personal struggles with Satan. I hope you will read it. The studies at GOD’S ANSWER is always Jesus are always insightful. You can feel Carl’s sincerity, passion and quest for truth in each of his writings. Disclaimer: Please readers, know that I never speak for Carl. He has a deep understanding of scripture and takes hours and days when he writes a study. Mine simply comes from what I think I know:-)

In News:

Egypt’s Revolution and Freedom Fighters:

Along with Egypt’s now 40-some political parties, a new addition that has taken to the streets that doesn’t fit into the ‘freedom fighter’ category, is murderous Gamaa Islamiyah, led by Omar Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheikh, before he was imprisoned in the U.S.

In the Nile River city of Luxor, assailants bearing knives and firearms massacred 62 foreign tourists and Egyptians in the majestic Temple of Hatshepsut in 1997. Some of the attackers belonged to the Gamaa Islamiyah, a militant group that announced last month it’s forming a political party. Christian Science Monitor

While I’m talking about Egypt, you might be interested in a post I did about 10 days ago updating the ‘freedom fighter’s’ shattered dreams at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the old days of reign by Hosni Mubarak, (you remember him, he’s the dictator who honored the Egypt-Israel peace agreement for 30 years) sites around the city were named in honor of him. That’s over. The subway, highway, a street and the Suez Canal bridge will no longer bear his name.

The safety of Christians living in Egypt is more perilous than ever. 

The angry, aggressive crowd formed within minutes of my arrival. Dozens of Muslim men, all in ankle-length galabias, came together in the middle of the dusty dirt path leading to the Church of the Two Martyrs in this poor Christian and Muslim village some 130 miles (210 km) south of Cairo. They were determined to block access to what has become a sectarian sore: a church overrun by Muslim locals and desecrated, an act that has prompted desperate national calls to maintain the inter-religious unity forged in Tahrir Square during the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.

Iran and apostasy:

Pastor Yusef Nadarkhani is an Iranian Christian who is facing execution in Iran. At the age of 32, he has been a Christian since he was a teenager. He has been under arrest since 2009. He is charged with apostasy, the act of leaving the Muslim faith. That’s something you die for these hardline Islamic countries with Iran leading the way. To live, he must renounce his belief in Jesus Christ.

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. . . .

Iranian Christian Pastor Yusef Nadarkhani

From Freedom’s Lighthouse:

If you are one who prays, say a prayer for this pastor and his family – not only that he will live, but that they will have courage and strength in their fiery trial. While you are praying – thank God for the religious freedom we have in America. Fox News


Please watch the videos below, and note that along with prayer, calling your Representative or Senator could help put pressure on Iran to free Nadarkhani. Videos courtesy of Freedoms Lighthouse

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Deitrich Bonhoeffer

A tweet by LibertyBelle47 brought Dietrich Bonhoeffer to mind, and I realized that while I knew quite a bit about him, I’ve read none of his books. LibertyBelle47 went on to do a very interesting post about him at Restore Honor Now. I hope you will read it, as there is much more than my snippet below. Quoting from Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes.

Two days later [after Hitler’s election], on Wednesday, February 1, a twenty-six-year-old theologian gave a radio address at the Potsdammerstrasse radio station.  Bonhoeffer’s speech was titled “The Younger Generation’s Altered Concept of Leadership.”  It dealt with the fundamental problems of leadership by a Fuhrer, explaining how such a leader inevitably becomes an idol and a ‘mis-leader.’”  (page 139)

He (Bonhoeffer) began by explaining why Germany was looking for a Fuhrer.  The First War and the subsequent depression and turmoil had brought about a crisis in which the younger generation, especially, had lost all confidence in the traditional authority of the kaiser and the church.…The difference between real leadership and the false leadership of the Leader was this:  real leadership derived its authority from God, the source of all goodness.  Thus parents have legitimate authority because they are submitted to the legitimate authority of a good God.  But the authority of the Fuhrer was submitted to nothing.  It was self-derived and autocratic, and therefore had a messianic aspect.         (pg 141)

This morning I found an online Bible Study based on Detrich Bonhoeffer. I have not completed it, but plan to, and so cannot off-hand personally recommend it, but thought you might be interested.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against Hitler, wrote books that even today are considered classics, was a caring pastor, and ultimately was put to death for saving Jews and attempting to stop Nazi terror. Yet Bonhoeffer was not fooled by his press clippings. “Who am I?” he asked himself. “This or the other? Am I one person today, and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?” Few, if any, of us could match his résumé, yet he struggled with understanding himself—seeing the wide disparity between his public and private personae. We have the same struggles and need Scripture to help us deal with these deep questions.

Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (NIV) Hebrews 13:3

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for apostasy (video)

Recent Iranian Christians imprisoned for being Christians (video)

  • Maggie … We are so blessed to be able to worship the Lord freely here in America. I wonder just how many Christians would give up if they lost that freedom.

    And speaking of your comments … “Mine simply comes from what I think I know” … I think you have a pretty good grasp on the Word of God and also how to explain what it is you intend to express. You are a needed asset. Thank you.

  • Islam is an intolerant religion. Yes, there are millions of good, tolerant muslims, but anywhere they get a majority or even a plurality, the minorities are in danger. That is an established fact, from history and contemporary circumstances.

  • I am still in the midst of reading that book about Bonhoeffer. It’s a great book, so far. About a month or so ago I posted something on the speech that Bonhoeffer gave right after Hitler became Chancellor.

    Thank God for our Founders who recognized that as citizens we have inalienable rights which come from our Creator. We must preserve our freedom of religion here in the U.S. along with speaking up for those persecuted in other countries for expressing their religious beliefs.

    Islam is intolerant. It is more of a political philosophy which dominates every aspect of one’s culture and life rather than a religion.