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The Da Vinci Hoax
A Tour de Distortion

Jesus and The Da Vinci Code

People flock to stories like The Da Vinci Code in part because all humans
are searching for the secret knowledge that answers the mysteries of life.
And when The Da Vinci Code debuts in May, millions more Americans will
get a
condensed tour de distortion.


One-Way Sympathy
Christians in the Muslim World

March 2, 2006

Since the start of the Danish cartoon controversy, Vatican officials have expressed sympathy with Islamic outrage over the depictions of Muhammad. This sympathy comes from knowing what it's like to have your beliefs treated with disrespect and even contempt. Yet in much of the Islamic world, that sympathy isn't a two-way street.

That's why the Vatican recently issued a statement "urging Islamic countries to reciprocate by showing more tolerance toward their Christian minorities." As Angelo Soldano, the Vatican's Secretary of State put it: "If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us . . . "

Destroy is not too strong a word. The anger originally directed at Denmark is increasingly being directed at Christians. In Turkey, a priest was murdered in an attack that the Turkish media has connected to the cartoon controversy. In Pakistan, protesting mobs have ransacked churches and beaten Christians. In Beirut, which, unlike Pakistan, has a large Christian population, a Christian neighborhood was attacked by a Muslim mob.

By far the worst attacks have occurred in Nigeria. In the state of Borno, attacks left as many as fifty-one Christians dead, including a priest. The Christian property destroyed included at least six churches, both Catholic and Protestant, the Bishop's home, and a Christian bookstore.

The rioters, who went on a rampage after hearing a Muslim cleric denounce the cartoons, sent a clear message with their choice of targets: These are our true enemies, the Christians. This led to a deplorable, yet predictable, response: Nigerian Christians retaliated against Muslims, killing one and burning a mosque. This is tragic.

And where Christians aren't under physical attack, they still face restrictions that far exceed the ones being decried by Muslim protesters. These restrictions, which have been chronicled on "BreakPoint," include bans on public and, in Saudi Arabia, even private worship.

This lack of reciprocity, along with the violence in places like Nigeria and Pakistan, has the usually-conciliatory Vatican saying, "Enough!" Pope Benedict told the Moroccan ambassador that peace requires a reciprocal "respect for the religious convictions and practices of others . . . "

Other Vatican officials were even sharper. The Secretary of its supreme court told an Italian newspaper, "Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves."

His frustration arises from the well-founded doubts that the West will do anything about Muslim persecution of Christians. He noted that "half a century" of relations with "Arab countries" had not produced "the slightest concession on human rights."

Sadly, he's right. While countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are cited for their violations of religious freedom, there are not any sanctions. So, the message is that we are not really serious about freedom and democracy.

Without religious freedom, efforts to spread democracy are futile, because societies that don't respect the rights of religious minorities cannot be expected to respect any other human rights. What this tragic turn of events really proves is that, contrary to the politically correct wisdom of our day, not all worldviews or religions are alike. And the differences really matter—just ask the Christians living in the Islamic world.
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The Limits of Conscience and the Authority of God's Word

Last week Rev. Jane Adams Spahr was found not-guilty of ministerial misconduct, even after the openly lesbian Presbyterian minister had defied the teachings of her church by performing "marriages" for two lesbian couples. Given the current state of mainline Protestantism, the actions by the trial court were not completely unexpected. Nevertheless, this act of rebellion against the church's law and the clear teachings of Scripture sets the stage for an even larger conflict when the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds its General Assembly in June.

Rev. Jane Adams Spahr is no stranger to controversy. In 1991, the Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York called her as co-pastor. That call was subsequently invalidated by the denomination's General Assembly and its Permanent Judicial Commission. Nevertheless, the church then called her to serve as a "lesbian evangelist" and she established her ministry as the organization called "That All May Freely Serve." That ministry was formed in partnership with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, California. As the denomination's news service, PCUSA News explained, "Since then, Spahr has traveled the country mustering support for the ordination of gay and lesbian Presbyterians and building a network of regional groups to help in the effort."

The current controversy emerged as Spahr was charged with breaking church law by marrying two homosexual men in Canada. Since her ordination was not recognized in that country, and therefore her name did not appear on the marriage certificate, a church court ruled that it could not prove that she had actually officiated at the wedding.

In short order, she eliminated that defense by openly officiating at the "weddings" of two lesbian couples. She officiated at ceremonies for Annie Senechal and Sherrill Figuera in 2005, and the previous year had officiated at a ceremony for Barbara Jean Douglass and Connie Valois.

Her current trial took place before the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Redwoods Presbytery in California. The trial took place at the Church of the Roses in Santa Rosa, located about 65 miles north of San Francisco.

As media reports indicated, the church was often packed with Spahr's supporters and those who were openly advocating for a rebellion against the church's rules.

Stephen L. Taber, the attorney prosecuting Spahr on behalf of the Redwoods Presbytery, had argued that the trial was not over gay rights, but the right of the denomination to establish its own rules and structure for church discipline. "The burden on this commission is not to decide whether same-sex marriage is or is not appropriate for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)," he argued. "The only question here is whether Rev. Spahr committed certain acts, and whether those acts are in violation of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church."

Taber was standing on firm constitutional ground as he made his case. After all, the denomination's Book of Order defines marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman, excluding all alternatives. Furthermore, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly ruled in 2000 that ministers may bless same sex "unions," but may not call such unions marriage.

In presenting her defense, Spahr claimed a right to individual conscience. As PCUSA News reported: "Spahr, as the first witness called before the seven-member commission, was far from repentant for presiding over the nuptials of the lesbian couples. She said she was following her conscience, a call from God and the wishes of the 'brides' when she officiated at their weddings."

In pressing her case, Spahr argued that the church's rules that disallow same-sex marriage are unfair and unjust. "I can't begin to tell you what it is to say to [same-sex couples] that they were married by the church, by the authority of someone representing the church of Jesus Christ," Spahr told the court. "What it means for lesbian and gay people who are told for so long that they're no good, that our relationships are no good. That has a profound effect on them." She also claimed that the denomination's rules limiting marriage to heterosexuals violates the church's commitment to "love and hospitality."

Spahr's attorney, Sara Taylor, argued that the church had no right to judge Spahr's actions. "The reformers were clear in their assertions that the authority of the church to discipline belongs not to the church but to Christ."

Of course, this is hardly fair to the reformers and their witness. Nevertheless, the trial ended with the court acquitting Spahr by a six-to-one ruling that determined that Spahr was acting within her ministerial "right of conscience" in performing the same-sex marriages.

Beyond this, the court's majority went on in a "concluding affirmation" to offer a direct challenge to the denomination's rules. "We affirm that the fundamental message of the Scriptures and Confessions is the proclamation of the Good News of God's love for all people. It is a message of inclusiveness, reconciliation, and the breaking down of barriers that separate humans from each other, and that this proclamation has primacy in the conduct of the Church." In other words, the court turned its back on the Bible's clear teachings that condemn homosexual activity as sin and on the church's explicit rules that prohibit ministers from officiating at same-sex marriages--all in the name of "the fundamental message of the Scriptures and Confessions."

The Spahr trial and the larger controversy point to the most basic issues that have created such an explosive crisis within liberal Protestantism and the denominations commonly known as "mainline" Protestantism. For years, the mainline Presbyterians have been debating issues of scriptural authority.

The foundation for theological revolution was set in 1967, when the denomination replaced the historic Westminster Confession with a book of confessions that replaced one common doctrinal standard with several--insuring a process of theological compromise and accomodationism.

In June, the 217th General Assembly of the denomination is to receive the final report of the "Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church." This task force was established in 2001 and was charged with developing "a process and instrument by which congregations and governing bodies throughout our church may reflect on and discern the matters that unite and divide us, praying that the Holy Spirit will promote the purity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)."

The group's report, entitled Peace Unity Purity [or PUP], is, in effect, nothing more than a call for continuing conversation and the embrace of even greater diversity within the denomination.

Of course, Scripture stands at the very center of this controversy. The PUP report cites The Second Helvetic Confession and asserts: "we believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and have sufficient authority of themselves, not of [human beings]." Responding to this confessional statement, the group asserted: "We acknowledge that there is heated debate over biblical interpretation among Presbyterians who honor the authority of Scripture. In the midst of these debates it is important to remember that the consciences of us all are bound by the witness of Scripture to Jesus Christ. Even as it is important to preserve freedom of conscience and the interpretation of Scripture, such freedom is subject to standards . . . and must be exercised within constitutional bounds . . . ."

As should be obvious by now, the acquittal of Rev. Jane Adams Spahr should demonstrate conclusively the failure of this proposal.

In the first place, one must question the group's decision to suggest that the heated debate over the interpretation of Scripture on issues of sexuality is found "among Presbyterians who honor the authority of Scripture." Such a statement effectively implies that persons may deny clear teachings of Scripture, while still claiming to honor its authority.

By any measure, the acquittal of Rev. Spahr should demonstrate that a call for all ministers to bind their consciences "by the witness of Scripture," does not avail. The presbytery of the Redwoods did nothing to require Rev. Spahr to subject her conscience to the constitutional bounds of the church or to the clear teachings of the Bible.

Rev. Spahr's attorney cited the reformers of the sixteenth century as suggesting that the church must leave matters of ministerial discipline to God. This flies in the face of the actual writings and actions of the reformers. John Calvin, whose legacy stands as the very fountain of the stream that eventually produced the Presbyterian denomination, insisted that "we must be ruled by the Word of God." Furthermore, "Seeing God will be served with obedience, let us beware and keep ourselves within those bounds which God hath set," Calvin insisted. Martin Luther, famously standing at his own church trial at the Diet of Worms, famously told his judges that his conscience was "bound by the Word of God."

The Presbyterian Lay Committee, a group of concerned Presbyterians who have been seeking to pull their church back to biblical and theological accountability, has referred to the PUP document as "a political solution to a theological problem."

"Some persons who call themselves Christians, including ordained leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), struggle with claims of the authority of Scripture," the group argued. "They affirm Scripture as a guide and source of wisdom, but regard it as culturally conditioned and of human origin. Thus they place it alongside, and even, at times, under the judgment of other human authorities. They prefer to say, 'Listen for the Word of God,' rather than 'Listen to the Word of God' when reading the Bible in the context of worship. Persons who hold such beliefs clearly are not talking about the Scriptures that Jesus upheld and fulfilled and that his church has affirmed for more than 2000 years."

As the Presbyterian Lay Committee's argument concludes, "Making the denomination's implicit pluralism explicit, by whatever inclusivist scheme, would admit but not solve our current disorder. Elijah's counsel to Israel is precisely the word that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) must hear. We must cease limping between two opinions. We must answer Christ's compelling question: 'Who do you say that I am?' We must make a choice."

The Presbyterian Lay Committee has it right--the denomination must make a clear choice. The acquittal of Rev. Jane Adams Spahr sets the stage for the denomination's General Assembly to face the question squarely when it meets in June. Nothing less than the denomination's witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. If individual conscience is allowed to invalidate the clear teachings of Scripture, the denomination faces an unavoidable disaster.


R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For more articles and resources by Dr. Mohler, and for information on The Albert Mohler Program, a daily national radio program broadcast on the Salem Radio Network, go to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to Send feedback to
  .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

1) scry skry (intransitive verb)
: to predict the future by crystal-gazing

Shortening of descry (discover), from Middle English
descrien, from Old French descrier (to call or cry out),
from dis- + crier (to cry out).

2) glasnost GLAZ-nost (noun)
: a policy of open discussion of political opinion and
social issues and freer disclosure of information.

From Russian glasnost (publicity), from glas (voice).
  .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Where are all the 'Save Leonardo Da Vinci's Reputation' advocates when you need them?

They should be out visibly marching...

Certainly with all the special interest groups, there would be one to protect his reputation...
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* * * Four Important Things To KNOW: #1) For ALL (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) have sinned & fall short of the glory of God. #2) For the wages of above (see #1) are DEATH (Hell, eternal separation from God, & damnation) but the Gift (free & at no charge to you) of God (Creator, Jehovah, & Trinity) is Eternal Life (Heaven) through (in union with) Jesus Christ (God, Lord, 2nd Person of The Trinity, Messiah, Prince of Peace & Savior of the World). #3) For God so greatly loved & dearly prized the world (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime - while still living) believes (trust in, relies on, clings to, depends completely on) Him shall have eternal (everlasting) life (heaven). #4) Jesus said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, & THE LIFE. No one (male/female - American, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian, Presbyterian, European, Baptist, Brazilian, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc. ) comes (arrives) to the Father (with GOD in Heaven) EXCEPT BY (through) ME (no other name). *** This wonderful loving GOD gives you the choice - - - (Rev. 3:20) {Please note that church membership, baptism, doing good things, etc. are not requirements for becoming a Christian - however they are great afterwards!!!} *** Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (Hell, damnation, eternal punishment), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Heaven, eternal happiness, forever with God), and only a few find it.

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But these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God, and that by believing in
Him you will have life. Jn 20:31

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil
man his thoughts. Let him turn to the
Lord, and He will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for He will freely
pardon. "For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways," declares the Lord. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so
are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down
from heaven, and do not return to it
without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed
for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My
mouth: It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will
burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the
pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle
will grow. This will be for the Lord's
renown, for an everlasting sign, which
will not be destroyed." Is 55

O Lord, you have searched me and you
know me. You know when I sit and when
I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying
down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know
it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -
behind and before; you have laid your
hand upon me. Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence? If I go up
to the heavens, you are there; if I make
my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around
me," even the darkness will not be dark
to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you
created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise
you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know
that full well. My frame was not hidden
from you when I was made in the secret
place. When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth, your eyes saw my
unformed body. All the days ordained
for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would
outnumber the grains of sand. When
I awake, I am still with you. Search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ps 139

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,
that I may show My power in you, and that My
Name may be declared in all the earth. Ex 9:16

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
- - Isaac Watts

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