Friday, April 30, 2010

Practicing for the Real Thing: Exercise Khichadi and ICTs on a Mountain Ridge

Note: a shorter version of this article, published in the December 2007 edition of PeaceIT, may be downloaded here as a pdf file.

Readers are also invited to read more on our exercise page and post questions and comments at the team blog.

The author (at laptop) demonstrates a GIS application to ADRA and Caritas team members. Broadband connectivity is wireless over a Hughes BGAN terminal, which is on top of the truck and powered by the solar blanket in the foreground. Service was donated by Inmarsat for Exercise Khichadi.

The not-very-new SUV truck, loaded to maximum capacity with people and equipment, bounced slowly along a precipitous mountain road. The wheels were a half meter from the edge, which dropped off abruptly down a very steep slope. Looking from the right side window, one had a view from the ridge top into a canyon, the terraced slopes scarred by landslides old and new. The team members riding with me were quiet, fully aware that this was not a classroom or tabletop exercise.

Welcome to Nepal and Exercise Khichadi, planned and hosted by the Asia regional office of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Asia) in partnership with Caritas Australia, a member of Caritas Internationalis.* For the next four days, the ADRA and Caritas teams would work, live, and solve problems together in an austere, challenging, and realistic environment in the rugged mountains east of Kathmandu.

A no-warning evacuation drill gets under way. Teams were required to bring all ICT equipment and maintain communications during the rapid evacuation on a mountain road. Villagers of Ravi Opi and community leaders also participated.

Participating in the pioneering joint training and emergency field simulation exercise were experienced staff members from Australia , Bangladesh , India , Nepal , Pakistan , and Sri Lanka . Representatives of UN OCHA, the World Food Programme, the Nepalese police and army, and local government also participated in supporting roles. In the true spirit of Nepali generosity and hospitality, local leaders and citizens of the community of Ravi Opi cheerfully cooperated to provide a real-life village setting.

The four-day exercise simulated a scenario of several continuous days of heavy rain, which resulted in a major landslide in the village of Ravi Opi in the Kavre district of Nepal, resulting in casualties and evacuation. Importantly, the exercise gave many participants their first chance to fully understand and appreciate the specific challenges relating to disaster response programs, thus further strengthening the skills base of valuable staff across the south Asia region.

Exercise Khichadi built upon the lessons learned during Exercise JavaLava, the first such field exercise of its type, conducted by ADRA in 2006 in Indonesia . Using a groundbreaking training scenario on an actual volcano, the design team realized that classroom training in communications, GPS, and Web tools does not "stick" unless teams have extensive "hands on" field use of equipment, software, and information management tools.

Heidi Straw of ADRA Sri Lanka uses Skype for voice over wireless and a BGAN satellite connection.

More disasters, greater human impact. All participants recognized that the increasing number of large impact disasters in Asia will continue to challenge the capacity of aid organizations like ADRA and Caritas. Predicted trends indicate that increasing numbers of people are being adversely affected by natural disasters due to population growth, urbanization, climate change, poor governance and other factors. This means that there are more and more people with little or no coping capacity to sustain them when a disaster hits and an increasing dependency on external assistance.

ADRA and Caritas managers have drawn four significant conclusions from these trends:

Training of field teams, especially for rapid response to emergencies, must be more realistic and more frequent.
For teams to be responsive to local contexts (culture, government, economy, and more), training should provide exposure to local realities.
Smooth inter-agency collaboration is vital. Teams must learn how to work together in joint field operations.
To improve preparedness and inter-agency collaboration, teams must have hands-on training in ICTs, in a realistic field environment.

Members of the ADRA and Caritas teams practice using the BGAN satellite terminal (in foreground) for Internet and email access. The BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) provided excellent Internet access, including the use of sophisticated mapping applications.

The overall goals of Exercise Khichadi were emergency response capacity building and the strengthening of local response networks. To improve ICT preparedness, two of the key training objectives were to:

Increase the ability of disaster response personnel to use emergency communication equipment and global positioning systems.

Research and identify options for mapping resources relevant to disaster response.
(A complete list of exercise objectives, as well as links to photos, the team blog, and other reports can be found at

A team-oriented approach. The planning team** accomplished these objectives by rigorously integrating team and inter-agency collaboration and by challenging the participants to work together. This cooperative team approach was emphasized during two days of pre-exercise classroom training in Kathmandu and then practiced during initial "hands on" assignments with radios, satphones, and GPS units outdoors.

The team spirit, trust, and mutual understanding generated during the joint training carried over to the field simulation, which began on November 4. During the exercise, all debriefings were held jointly with all agencies participating. A team of monitors*** observed all exercise events and held in-depth debriefings in the evening.

Robert Patton of ADRA Asia, who directed Exercise Khichadi planning and field activity, makes a point to ADRA and Caritas members following an exercise event.

The ICTs incorporated in the exercise scenario included:

Satellite phones, including the new ISAT satellite phone provided by Inmarsat.

A BGAN (broadband global area network) satellite terminal, with services donated by Inmarsat and supported by Vizada.

VHF handheld radios for intra-team short range communications.

GPS units to record latitude and longitude data for specific points, such as locations of landslides, road blockages, etc.

GIS (geospatial information services) situational awareness tools developed by ESRI and IDV Solutions to post and display operational information on dynamic digital maps.

Although the ADRA and Caritas teams worked from different organizational plans and operated as separate teams, they shared the ICT tools (including the BGAN terminal and donated bandwidth) coordinated their tasks, and compared learnings throughout the day.

Findings. Five general findings on ICTs emerged during Exercise Khichadi and at the subsequent debriefing:

1. Reliable voice and data communications, regularly tested and exercised, are absolutely essential to successful field operations. While voice communications are indispensable from the beginning of the response, email and Internet capabilities (optimally from "Day One") are tremendously valuable as relief teams begin work.

2. It was clear early in the exercise that the processes and operator capability for planning and implementation, including the use of ICTs, were vital for effective operations. Checklists, plans, and templates will be of little use if the staff have not utilized them in a reasonably realistic situation.

3. Classroom and "parking lot" training is not sufficient for relief teams and individuals to gain full proficiency. A field simulation presents compound problems to solve in a realistic and demanding environment that effectively applies and reinforces classroom training.

4. Managers need to be familiar, and in some cases proficient, with ICTs, to include current technology developments. It is no longer advisable, if it ever was, to delegate full responsibility for ICTs in the field to a technical specialist.

5. The potential of GIS for situational awareness and operational planning, employed in combination with good GPS field practices, is enormous. However, there is a long learning curve and considerable process development required before a GIS solution is operational. The umbrella issue is information management; GIS is one way to organize and deliver information in trusted networks to managers, partners, and donors. The teams learned a great deal about GIS through two excellent Web-based demo applications prepared for the exercise by ESRI and IDV Solutions.

BGAN on a haystack in Ravi Opi.

The bigger picture. In closing, I would like to emphasize that ICT training in simulations should not focus strictly on the technology, which can obscure organizational and process factors. ICT is not an end in itself but must be seen as a means to support strong and capable organizations which provide the best possible assistance to people in need.

The foundation of effective ICT employment in the field is built upon process building blocks, to include:

Integrated and recurring team training with multiple partners, in realistic scenario with multiple variables at work. The "people factors" are critical.

An understanding of, and sound processes for, interagency and external coordination.
Reliable, continuous situational awareness – for which GIS is only one part of the tool kit.
Processes for capturing field knowledge and lessons learned.

Strategies for dealing with a fluid operational environment, including personnel turnover and frequently changing roles.

I believe that the field simulation concept, designed and tested by ADRA, Caritas, and the other partners in Exercise Khichadi, is an important first step toward a more ambitious framework, in which international and government agencies, private sector partners, and NGO participants collaborate in larger scale exercises over a week or more. This could include virtual exercises using Webcasting and Web- and GIS-based information management.

It is a credit to the design team and all participants that so much was gained over a short, intense, but exciting ten days, especially since the ADRA-Caritas partnership was a new one. The team spirit and collaborative approach will certainly carry over to future exercises and – doubtlessly soon – in actual responses throughout Asia .

Gregg Swanson
Founder and Executive Director, HumaniNet

I would like to thank Jenny Wells, Group Leader for Humanitarian Response at Caritas Australia; Robert Patton , Regional Coordinator for Emergency Management at ADRA Asia; and Mike Wenger of HumaniNet for their valuable contributions, thoughtful comments, and generous cooperation in drafting this article.

* Caritas is the aid and development agency of the Catholic church.

** Robert Patton , Chris Olafson, and Ashok Shrestha of ADRA; Melville Fernandez and Jenny Wells of Caritas Australia; Arpana Karki of Caritas Nepal; Steve Glassey of the Emergency Management Academy of New Zealand; and Gregg Swanson of HumaniNet.

*** Robert Patton , Chris Olafson, Jenny Wells, Steve Glassey, and Gregg Swanson .
Note: Bolds and Highlights added for emphasis.
Practicing for the Real Thing?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Armani hotel opens in Burj Khalifa, world's tallest building

April 27, 2010

The world's tallest building is a little less empty.

With Tuesday's opening of a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai added its first major full-time tenant, joining an observatory that recently reopened after an elevator malfunction caused it to shut down for nearly two months.

The Burj Khalifa, which rises to a record-shattering height of 2,717 feet, was designed by Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and former Skidmore design partner Adrian Smith, who now heads his own firm.

Still to be occupied are the skyscraper's condominiums, along with boutique offices in its upper reaches. George Efstathiou, Skidmore's managing partner on the Burj, just emailed me from Dubai that the orientation for the condo residents will occur during the first week of May with move-in towards the end of the month.

Here is more information about the hotel opening from The Economic Times.


Why Arizona Drew a Line

Published: April 28, 2010
Kansas City, Kan.

ON Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a law — SB 1070 — that prohibits the harboring of illegal aliens and makes it a state crime for an alien to commit certain federal immigration crimes. It also requires police officers who, in the course of a traffic stop or other law-enforcement action, come to a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an illegal alien verify the person’s immigration status with the federal government.

Predictably, groups that favor relaxed enforcement of immigration laws, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, insist the law is unconstitutional. Less predictably, President Obama declared it “misguided” and said the Justice Department would take a look.

Presumably, the government lawyers who do so will actually read the law, something its critics don’t seem to have done. The arguments we’ve heard against it either misrepresent its text or are otherwise inaccurate. As someone who helped draft the statute, I will rebut the major criticisms individually:

It is unfair to demand that aliens carry their documents with them. It is true that the Arizona law makes it a misdemeanor for an alien to fail to carry certain documents. “Now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers ... you’re going to be harassed,” the president said. “That’s not the right way to go.” But since 1940, it has been a federal crime for aliens to fail to keep such registration documents with them. The Arizona law simply adds a state penalty to what was already a federal crime. Moreover, as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, other nations have similar documentation requirements.

“Reasonable suspicion” is a meaningless term that will permit police misconduct. Over the past four decades, federal courts have issued hundreds of opinions defining those two words. The Arizona law didn’t invent the concept: Precedents list the factors that can contribute to reasonable suspicion; when several are combined, the “totality of circumstances” that results may create reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.

For example, the Arizona law is most likely to come into play after a traffic stop. A police officer pulls a minivan over for speeding. A dozen passengers are crammed in. None has identification. The highway is a known alien-smuggling corridor. The driver is acting evasively. Those factors combine to create reasonable suspicion that the occupants are not in the country legally.

The law will allow police to engage in racial profiling. Actually, Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” in making any stops or determining immigration status. In addition, all normal Fourth Amendment protections against profiling will continue to apply. In fact, the Arizona law actually reduces the likelihood of race-based harassment by compelling police officers to contact the federal government as soon as is practicable when they suspect a person is an illegal alien, as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment.

It is unfair to demand that people carry a driver’s license. Arizona’s law does not require anyone, alien or otherwise, to carry a driver’s license. Rather, it gives any alien with a license a free pass if his immigration status is in doubt. Because Arizona allows only lawful residents to obtain licenses, an officer must presume that someone who produces one is legally in the country.

State governments aren’t allowed to get involved in immigration, which is a federal matter. While it is true that Washington holds primary authority in immigration, the Supreme Court since 1976 has recognized that states may enact laws to discourage illegal immigration without being pre-empted by federal law. As long as Congress hasn’t expressly forbidden the state law in question, the statute doesn’t conflict with federal law and Congress has not displaced all state laws from the field, it is permitted. That’s why Arizona’s 2007 law making it illegal to knowingly employ unauthorized aliens was sustained by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In sum, the Arizona law hardly creates a police state. It takes a measured, reasonable step to give Arizona police officers another tool when they come into contact with illegal aliens during their normal law enforcement duties.

And it’s very necessary: Arizona is the ground zero of illegal immigration. Phoenix is the hub of human smuggling and the kidnapping capital of America, with more than 240 incidents reported in 2008. It’s no surprise that Arizona’s police associations favored the bill, along with 70 percent of Arizonans.

President Obama and the Beltway crowd feel these problems can be taken care of with “comprehensive immigration reform” — meaning amnesty and a few other new laws. But we already have plenty of federal immigration laws on the books, and the typical illegal alien is guilty of breaking many of them. What we need is for the executive branch to enforce the laws that we already have.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has scaled back work-site enforcement and otherwise shown it does not consider immigration laws to be a high priority. Is it any wonder the Arizona Legislature, at the front line of the immigration issue, sees things differently?

Kris W. Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, was Attorney General John Ashcroft’s chief adviser on immigration law and border security from 2001 to 2003.


Was that Carl Levin or George Carlin?

Carl Levin's salacious language or George Carlin with his 7 bleeps?

We've come a long way, baby. Levin gets away with language that can otherwise get a Kindergartner tazed (Tazered) for having a potty mouth.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Return of Christian Terrorism

By Mark Juergensmeyer April 8, 2010
Jesus at war. Image courtesy flickr user smohundro

Threats of right-wing violence have doubled in the past year. What is behind the latest upsurge in the movement to create a Christian theocratic state?

Last week when Scott Roeder, the murderer of Wichita Kansas abortion clinic provider Dr. George Tiller, had his day in court, he spent much of his rambling self-defense quoting the words of another abortion clinic assassin, Reverend Paul Hill. In the 1990s my own research had brought me into conversation with others in the inner circle in which Hill and Roeder were at that time involved. So it was a chilling experience for me to realize that this awful mood of American Christian terrorism—culminating in the catastrophic attack on the Oklahoma City Federal Builiding—has now returned.

Christian terrorism has returned to America with a vengeance. And it is not just Roeder. Last week, when members of the Hutaree militia in Michigan and Ohio recently were arrested with plans to kill a random policeman and then plant Improvised Explosive Devices in the area where the funeral would be held to kill hundreds more, this was a terrorist plot of the sort that would impress Shi’ite militia and al Qaeda activists in Iraq. The Southern Poverty Law Center, founded by Morris Dees, which has closely watched the rise of right-wing extremism in this country for many decades, declares that threats and incidents of right-wing violence have risen 200% in this past year—unfortunately coinciding with the tenure of the first African-American president in US history. When Chip Berlet, one of this country’s best monitors of right-wing extremism, warned in a perceptive essay last week on RD that the hostile right-wing political climate in this country has created the groundwork for a demonic new form of violence and terrorism, I fear that he is correct.

Christian Warrior, Sacred Battle

Though these new forms of violence are undoubtedly political and probably racist, they also have a religious dimension. And this brings me back to what I know about Rev. Paul Hill, the assassin who the similarly misguided assassin, Scott Roeder, quoted at length in that Wichita court room last week. In 1994, Hill, a Presbyterian pastor at the extreme fringe of the anti-abortion activist movement, came armed to a clinic in Pensacola, Florida. He aimed at Dr. John Britton, who was entering the clinic along with his bodyguard, James Barrett. The shots killed both men and wounded Barrett’s wife, Joan. Hill immediately put down his weapon and was arrested; presenting an image of someone who knew that he would be arrested, convicted, and executed by the State of Florida for his actions, which he was in 2003. This would make Hill something of a Christian suicide attacker.

What is interesting about Hill and his supporters is not just his political views, but also his religious ones. As I reported in my book, Terror in the Mind of God, and in an essay for RD several months ago, Hill framed his actions as those of a Christian warrior engaged in sacred battle. “My eyes were opened to the enormous impact” such an event would have, he wrote, adding that “the effect would be incalculable.” Hill said that he opened his Bible and found sustenance in Psalms 91: “You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day.” Hill interpreted this as an affirmation that his act was biblically approved.

One of the supporters that Paul Hill had written these words to was Rev. Michael Bray, a Lutheran pastor in Bowie, Maryland, who had served prison time for his conviction of fire-bombing abortion-related clinics on the Eastern seaboard. Bray published a newsletter and then a Web site for his Christian anti-abortion movement, and published a book theologically justifying violence against abortion service providers, A Time to Kill. He is also alleged to be the author of the Army of God manual that provides details on how to conduct terrorist acts against abortion-related clinics.

Recently Bray has publicly defended Paul Roeder, the Wichita assassin, saying that he acted with “righteousness and mercy.” Several years earlier, another member of Bray’s network of associates, Rachelle (“Shelly”) Shannon, a housewife from rural Oregon, had also attacked Dr. George Tiller as he drove away from his clinic in Wichita. She was arrested for attempted murder.

When I interviewed Bray on several occasions in the 1990s, he provided a theological defense of this kind of violence from two different Christian perspectives. In the remainder of this essay, I’ll summarize from Terror in the Mind of God some of my observations about these theological strands behind their terrorism in the 1990s—and which, amazingly, are surfacing again today.

Theological Illogic

The more traditional Christian justification that Bray used for his violence was just-war theory. He was fond of quoting two of my own heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Reinhold Niebuhr, in what I regard as perverse ways. Bray thought that their justification of military action against the Nazis (and an attempted assassination plot on Hitler’s life Bonhoeffer was involved in) was an appropriate parallel to his terrorism against the US government’s sanctioning of legal abortions. It seemed highly unlikely to me that Bray’s positions would have been accepted by these or any other theologian within mainstream Protestant thought. Bonhoeffer and Niebuhr, like most modern theologians, supported the principle of the separation of church and state, and were wary of what Niebuhr called “moralism”—the intrusion of religious or other ideological values into the political calculations of statecraft. Moreover, Bray did not rely on mainstream theologians for his most earnest theological justification.

The more significant Christian position that Bray and Hill advanced is related to the End-Time theology of the Rapture as thought to be envisaged by the New Testament book of Revelation. These are ideas related, in turn, to Dominion Theology, the position that Christianity must reassert the dominion of God over all things, including secular politics and society. This point of view, articulated by such right-wing Protestant spokespersons as Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, have been part of the ideology of the Christian Right since at least the 1980s and 1990s.

At its hardest edge, the movement requires the creation of a kind of Christian politics to set the stage for America’s acceptance of the second coming of Christ. In this context, it is significant today that in some parts of the United States, over one-third of the opponents of the policies of President Barack Obama believe he is the Antichrist as characterized in the End-Times Rapture scenario.

The Christian anti-abortion movement is permeated with ideas from Dominion Theology. Randall Terry (founder of the militant anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue and a writer for the Dominion magazine Crosswinds) signed the magazine’s “Manifesto for the Christian Church,” which asserted that America should “function as a Christian nation.” The Manifesto said that America should therefore oppose “social moral evils” of secular society such as “abortion on demand, fornication, homosexuality, sexual entertainment, state usurpation of parental rights and God-given liberties, statist-collectivist theft from citizens through devaluation of their money and redistribution of their wealth, and evolutionism taught as a monopoly viewpoint in the public schools.”

At the extreme right wing of Dominion Theology is a relatively obscure theological movement that Mike Bray found particularly appealing: Reconstruction Theology, whose exponents long to create a Christian theocratic state. Bray had studied their writings extensively and possessed a shelf of books written by Reconstruction authors. The convicted anti-abortion killer Paul Hill cited Reconstruction theologians in his own writings and once studied with a founder of the movement, Greg Bahnsen, at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi.

Leaders of the Reconstruction movement trace their ideas, which they sometimes called “theonomy,” to Cornelius Van Til, a twentieth-century Presbyterian professor of theology at Princeton Seminary who took seriously the sixteenth-century ideas of the Reformation theologian John Calvin regarding the necessity for presupposing the authority of God in all worldly matters. Followers of Van Til (including his former students Bahnsen and Rousas John Rushdoony, and Rushdoony’s son-in-law, Gary North) adopted this “presuppositionalism” as a doctrine, with all its implications for the role of religion in political life.

Recapturing Institutions for Jesus

Reconstruction writers regard the history of Protestant politics since the early years of the Reformation as having taken a bad turn, and they are especially unhappy with the Enlightenment formulation of church-state separation. They feel it necessary to “reconstruct” Christian society by turning to the Bible as the basis for a nation’s law and social order. To propagate these views, the Reconstructionists established the Institute for Christian Economics in Tyler, Texas, and the Chalcedon Foundation in Vallecito, California. They have published a journal and a steady stream of books and booklets on the theological justification for interjecting Christian ideas into economic, legal, and political life.

According to the most prolific Reconstruction writer, Gary North, it is “the moral obligation of Christians to recapture every institution for Jesus Christ." He feels this to be especially so in the United States, where secular law as construed by the Supreme Court and defended by liberal politicians is moving in what Rushdoony and others regard as a decidedly un-Christian direction; particularly in matters regarding abortion and homosexuality. What the Reconstructionists ultimately want, however, is more than the rejection of secularism. Like other theologians who utilize the biblical concept of “dominion,” they reason that Christians, as the new chosen people of God, are destined to dominate the world.

The Reconstructionists possess a “postmillennial” view of history. That is, they believe that Christ will return to earth only after the thousand years of religious rule that characterizes the Christian idea of the millennium, and therefore Christians have an obligation to provide the political and social conditions that will make Christ’s return possible. “Premillennialists,” on the other hand, hold the view that the thousand years of Christendom will come only after Christ returns, an event that will occur in a cataclysmic moment of world history. Therefore they tend to be much less active politically.

Rev. Paul Hill, Rev. Michael Bray, and other Reconstructionists—along with Dominion theologians such as the American politician and television host Pat Robertson and many other right-wing Christian activists today—are postmillenialists. Hence they believe that a Christian kingdom must be established on Earth before Christ’s return. They take seriously the idea of a Christian society and a form of religious politics that will make biblical code the law of the United States.

These activists are quite serious about bringing Christian politics into power. Bray said that it is possible, under the right conditions, for a Christian revolution to sweep across the United States and bring in its wake Constitutional changes that would allow for biblical law to be the basis of social legislation. Failing that, Bray envisaged a new federalism that would allow individual states to experiment with religious politics on their own. When I asked Bray what state might be ready for such an experiment, he hesitated and then suggested Louisiana and Mississippi, or, he added, “maybe one of the Dakotas.”

Not all Reconstruction thinkers have endorsed the use of violence, especially the kind that Bray and Hill have justified. As Reconstruction author Gary North admitted, “there is a division in the theonomic camp” over violence, especially with regard to anti-abortion activities. Some months before Paul Hill killed Dr. Britton and his escort, Hill (apparently hoping for Gary North’s approval in advance) sent a letter to North along with a draft of an essay he had written justifying the possibility of such killings in part on theonomic grounds. North ultimately responded, but only after the murders had been committed.

North regretted that he was too late to deter Hill from his “terrible direction” and chastised Hill in an open letter, published as a booklet, denouncing Hill’s views as “vigilante theology.” According to North, biblical law provides exceptions to the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex 20:13), but in terms similar to just-war doctrine: when one is authorized to do so by “a covenantal agent” in wartime, to defend one’s household, to execute a convicted criminal, to avenge the death of one’s kin, to save an entire nation, or to stop moral transgressors from bringing bloodguilt on an entire community.

Hill, joined by Bray, responded to North’s letter. They argued that many of those conditions applied to the abortion situation in the United States. Writing from his prison cell in Starke, Florida, Paul Hill said that the biblical commandment against murder also “requires using the means necessary to defend against murder—including lethal force.” He went on to say that he regarded “the cutting edge of Satan’s current attack” to be “the abortionist’s knife,” and therefore his actions had ultimate theological significance.

Bray, in his book, A Time to Kill, spoke to North’s concern about the authorization of violence by a legitimate authority or “a covenental agent,” as North put it. Bray raised the possibility of a “righteous rebellion.” Just as liberation theologians justify the use of unauthorized force for the sake of their vision of a moral order, Bray saw the legitimacy of using violence not only to resist what he regarded as murder—abortion—but also to help bring about the Christian political order envisioned by the radical dominion theology thinkers. In Bray’s mind, a little violence was a small price to pay for the possibility of fulfilling God’s law and establishing His kingdom on earth.

For most of the rest of us, even a little violence is a price too high to pay for these fantastic visions of Christian politics and for America’s recent return to Christian terrorism.


Contributor: J. Trainor, thanks.

Missionary tabloid

Like the leaves of Autumn…..truth filled literature is being spread throughout the world proclaiming the soon coming of our Saviour. We have a work to do and we must do our part in sharing this message with every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people. One way in doing this is by scattering the everlasting gospel like the leaves of Autumn in printed form.

Steps to Life is working closely with Cornerstone Publishing to see that Earth's Final Warning is given by sending container loads of materials throughout the world. With our new capacity of up to 1 million tabloids and other materials in each container the word is getting out, being distributed by eager and faithful workers. Let us know if you would like to take part in this effort to reach the world with the Three Angels Message of Revelation 14:6-12.

Ongoing Projects Needs

Rapidly closing events demand that we ship around the world on a regular basis in order to reach the 7 billion people before Christ comes. To date we have shipped 148 containers to 58 countries in 18 languages with each container up to one million tabloids on board with the full gospel message having a phenomenal success rate. Our plan is to print 7 containers each printing event (up to 7 million copies) at a total cost of $125,000 and continue this on an ongoing basis until Jesus comes. We are looking for sponsors to cover the cost of 1 container at $18,000 but in view of the urgency of the times you may want to sponsor a full block of 7 containers at $125,000 in order to keep ahead of closing doors. You can select the countries of your choice and we will ship prepaid and even see that it is distributed. We especially welcome your prayers and if God places it on your heart - your small to large donations given commensurate to how He has blessed you. Christ has chosen you and I to take the final warning message to the world to prepare a people just before He comes.

Some of the countries shipped to in recent months have been: Argentina, Spain, Uruguay, Brazil, Hawaii, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen, Togo, Cameroon, Mauritius Island, Central California, Nigeria, Colombia, Netherlands and Mexico. At an average cost under 2.5 cents per 4 to16 page periodical we can flood each country like the leaves of autumn like an invasion of well trained soldiers. Why not be part of this thrilling spiritual adventure which will fill the whole earth with the God's Glory. It will happen! Be part of it!

Your financial support and prayers would be most appreciated. If you would like to help with this project you may mark your donation for Missionary Tabloid Fund, payable either to Cornerstone Publications or to Steps to Life at the addresses listed below:

Cornerstone Publications

3249 A Old Baldy Mt. Rd.
Rice, WA 99167
(509) 722-3357

Steps to Life
PO Box 782828
Wichita, KS 67278

Below you will find a map of the world showing where containers have been shipped and the number of containers sent to that country if more than one has been shipped to a country. Countries not listed or not colored in on the map are still needing to be reached.

Approximately 64,100,000 tabloids have been shipped worldwide.

Click Here to Read Earth's Final Warning (PDF)

Click Here to Read Behold He Cometh (PDF)

Click Here to Read Health of the Nations (PDF)

To read all PDF files you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader



Influence of the Printed Page

More than one thousand will soon be converted in one day, most of whom will trace their first convictions to the reading of our publications.--Ev 693 (1885).

The results of the circulation of this book [The Great Controversy] are not to be judged by what now appears. By reading it some souls will be aroused and will have courage to unite themselves at once with those who keep the commandments of God. But a much larger number who read it will not take their position until they see the very events taking place that are foretold in it. The fulfillment of some of the predictions will inspire faith that others also will come to pass, and when the earth is lightened with the glory of the Lord in the closing work, many souls will take their position on the commandments of God as the result of this agency.--CM 128, 129 (1890).
In a large degree through our publishing houses is to be accomplished the work of that other angel who comes down from heaven with great power and who lightens the earth with his glory [Rev. 18:1].--7T 140 (1902).
Last Day Events, Ellen G. White, pp. 213-214.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Adventist Composes Opera With Mission 
in Mind

“Oh My Son” to debut in New York’s Carnegie Hall


With the exception of great music, “Oh My Son,” an operatic tableau by Adventist composer Marcos Galvany, is an entirely different sort of opera: It tells the greatest story of our faith, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The work is due to premiere at New York’s Carnegie Hall on April 10, 2010. “Oh My Son” cast members are Valentina Fleer, soprano; Antonio Gandia, tenor; Javier Gonzalez, tenor; Meghan McCall, soprano; Matthew Osifchin, baritone; Karla Rivera, soprano; Adrian Rosas, bass-baritone; and Marie Te Hapuku, soprano. Accompanying the singers, under the baton of conductor Michael Rossi, will be a 100-voice choir and the New England Symphonic Ensemble.

OPERATIC TABLEAU: “Oh My Son,” an operatic tableau by Adventist composer Marcos Galvany, is due to premiere April 10, 2010, at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Galvany, who is originally from Spain, 
came to 
the United States to attend Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he studied music. During his college days he spent much of his time touring with the New England Youth Ensemble (NEYE) in the United States and abroad. Galvany has lived in the Washington, D.C., area since 1996 and has continued touring with NEYE and attends the Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist Church. Because of his music ministry, he visits and performs at many different Seventh-day Adventist churches in the United States.

With this work Galvany wishes to bring the humanity of the story to the forefront: “It’s not merely about telling the story again,” he says. “It’s about bringing the story to people, making it real and relatable. My vision is for individuals in the audience to see themselves as a mother; as a Jesus who is scared, but ready to be sacrificed; even as a Mary Magdalene.”

It is certainly Galvany’s hope that God will work through his craft, the craft of opera—the blending, as Galvany says, “of literature, art, music, and, in this case, the Message.” Galvany feels art is a powerful medium. “It breaks through culture, religion, and language.” That has been his goal in writing “Oh My Son”—to tell the story of the cross as it is in the Bible, bereft of religion and politics, so that it reaches the hearts of people who hunger for the truth.

As an operatic tableau, “Oh My Son” is essentially a series of scenes from the life of Christ, scenes inspired by the images paraded through Galvany’s childhood hometown of Crevillente every Easter as he was growing up in Spain. “During the parade my mother told me the Bible story behind each image,” he recalls. “This was my first spiritual meal.”

Born into a Roman Catholic home, Galvany became a Seventh-day Adventist as a child when his family was introduced to the Adventist message by a neighbor. Though the scenes of his operatic tableau were inspired by the works of art in the processionals of his hometown, it was the gospel story of the cross itself—as presented in the Bible and as told to him by his mother—that inspired him the most.

The story of Jesus Christ stayed with him from childhood to adulthood. In fact, the operatic work originated with a single song (“Oh My Son”) that Galvany composed when he was 17 years old. Since then the larger operatic tableau has been a labor of love; something he has been working at on and off for many years, the last two years almost exclusively.

How does Galvany feel to see his dream of years coming to fruition? “Anxious, scared, overwhelmed,” he says. “The only thing that calms me down is praying.” Galvany, after all, not only composed the work; he’s also been its producer, lyricist, fund-raiser, business manager, designer, and organizer.

Recently Galvany has been blessed with a team of volunteers who, along with the singers, have stepped in to support the work. Together they have tirelessly promoted “Oh My Son.” Performances of the work, or selections from it, have already taken place at the residence of the ambassador of Chile, the United States Department of State, and various churches in the Washington, D.C., area.

The premiere of “Oh My Son” on April 10 may seem like the culmination of many years of effort, but Galvany hopes that Carnegie Hall is only the beginning. His dreams for the work are bigger than that. “I want this work to be done in every country,” he says, “in every language. This, for me, is mission.”




Adventist Pastor Speaks for Community Palm Sunday Service


DUNLAP, TENN—Local congregations from the Dunlap, Tenn., fellowship of churches met together March 28 for a Palm Sunday service at the Shepherd of the Valley Catholic Church located on highway 28. David Ryder, pastor of the Dunlap Seventh-day Adventist Church, was the speaker for the evening. He chose the gospel of Matthew and the prophecy of Daniel 9 to show that Jesus, the Messiah, came, ministered, and died right on time.

Dan Raines, pastor of the Church of God on highway 28 called for the offering. Over $500 was collected for the express purpose of helping local people in need with their utility bills.

“This was a wonderful service,” said Charlie Rawlins, pastor of Covenant Fellowship Center and president of the fellowship of churches board.

Submitted by Dan Miller
Note: Bolds and Highlights added.

Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church members protest court order

by Jebb Johnston
2 months ago

John Orman with Nickels Signs & Graphics paints over what remains of the white lettering of the name of Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church in accordance with a court order.
GUYS, Tenn. — Members of Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church watched Tuesday as a sign company stripped the letters spelling the name of the church from their building just across the state line on Old Highway 45 in Guys, Tenn.

Under the supervision of a constable, the sign company removed all signage from the old gas station-style canopy and then used spray paint to cover what remained. Religious materials were also confiscated, and several church members stood by holding signs of protest.

It all stems from a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church against the Guys congregation which resulted in an injunction barring the church from using the Seventh-day Adventist name. The Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church formed 19 years ago and has been at its Guys location for about eight years.

The church members feel they are victims of religious persecution.

“For us, it’s a matter of religion and conviction to use the name,” said Lucan Chartier, assistant pastor. “For Seventh-day Adventists, that name, using it is actually part of the religion. Both we and the church that is suing us believes that.”

In 1991, the Creation church notified the Seventh-day Adventist Church of its formation, its name and reasons for separating, according to Chartier.

“After 20 years, they finally decided to go after us,” he said.

Chartier said the larger church’s similar action against other churches prompted the formation of the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church. He said the church used the trademark of the name to “try and shut out any religion that resembles theirs from using that name. We couldn’t be members of a church that was doing that. We couldn’t give our tithes and support to an organization that we thought was forcing people to violate their conscience.”

The churches have some doctrinal differences. Prominent among them is the Creation church’s belief in complete separation of church and state — an area where the trademark issue comes into play.

The plaintiff in the case is the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The defendant is pastor Walter McGill, who church members said is in Africa doing mission work.

Court documents show the plaintiffs filed a motion for sanctions and permanent injunctive relief after the defendant “displayed an unwillingness to appear at several court-ordered mediation conferences.” A magistrate judge concurred.

McGill has since been found in civil contempt stemming from the continued use of websites, signs and promotional materials that violate the injunction.

“They are trying to get an arrest warrant for him as soon as he comes back into the U.S.,” said Chartier. “They are trying to get him extradited. They basically are trying to get all information on bank accounts, our websites, anyone who may be in any way associated with this church, preaching its message in any capacity, and locking them down. So people are at this point either leaving the country or preparing to go to jail.”

It is unclear what comes next for the church, which has had a congregation of 10 to 15.

“There’s really nobody that has been attending for the last few weeks,” said Chartier. “We’re pretty scattered at this point.”

But they are keeping in touch, and he believes they will have a future.

The defendant has been ordered to pay attorney’s fees and costs of $35,567 to the plaintiff.

“Obviously, we can’t afford that,” said Chartier.

Beyond the trademark question, he would like to see a court address whether the larger church’s trademark is constitutional.

Signs and materials were also removed Tuesday from a free community counseling center the church operated in Corinth.
Note: Bolds and Highlights added.

But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers

1 Corinthians 6

1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

2Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

4If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

5I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

6But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

7Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

8Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

12All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

13Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

14And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

15Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

16What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

17But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

King James Version (KJV)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is 6 enough?

We never know...stay tuned...

Can we have our cake and eat it too?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Over the last few months I have had conversations with a number of parents along a recurring theme. The sentiments of the conversations go something like this. “You know that my child is about the only Adventist in his/her class and I’m not happy with the influence the others are having on him/her.”

Most Adventist school leaders know that over the last 10 years we have experienced a huge demographic change within our classrooms. Where once the class was made up mainly of Adventist students many are now made up of up to 80% and beyond of non-Adventist students. And we know also that the change was not because of a refocus on mission. It is true we are trying to trumpet that song now, but a number of years ago what was driving the change was economic rationalism, and in some schools it still is. Simply put, if we did not open up our schools to non-Adventist student enrolments we would no longer be able to offer Adventist education. There would be no Adventist education system.

I notice too, a growing unease in some quarters of our church membership who are also wondering if we have lost the plot in having so many non-Adventist students in our schools, especially at the spiritual cost of our own children.

So the question, Can we have our cake and eat it too?

I believe we can, based on a couple of conditions.

Condition 1 As a school and school system we must empower our parents to view the growth of non-Adventist students in our schools as an opportunity to provide an authentic setting for the sharing of our lifestyle and beliefs. Many are yet to see that a challenge to our values and beliefs presents a golden opportunity to sit together and work through the issues explaining why we believe and practice what we do. It is not easy, but it has to be done. It is a change of paradigm.

Condition 2 As a school and school system, we must keep our churches appraised of our changing demographics and engage their support. If our message is the ‘truth’ and if our lifestyle is so great, then why do so many of our churches refuse to be involved with our non-Adventist families and be prepared to draw them into our fellowship? There is a lot more that we as a school system need to do to bring about this change in attitude.

As schools, we need to support our Adventist parents a lot more than we do. Ongoing dialogue would be a good place to begin. But opportunity for action needs to follow with a proactive stance being taken to ensure that the Adventists are being supported and to be seen as winning the battle rather than losing it and their children as well.

A Close Shave Indeed
From time to time life can throw us a real reminder that we are so vulnerable. Len Farquarson was riding his bicycle on the F freeway last Sabbath and was hit from behind by a driver who had suffered a micro-sleep. Apart from a few broken bones and much soreness Len is fine. But another couple of centimetres over and the outcome could well have been devastating both to his family and to Avondale School community where he is head of Primary. Our prayers are with you Len for a speedy recovery.

Not so lucky was Richard Laws who last Wednesday was killed on the M7 motorway when he pulled over to answer his phone. A heavy truck ran into the back of his car and subsequently rolled. Richard was working for Sanitarium. His two girls were past pupils of Hills Adventist College, so please spare a thought for them and the school staff tomorrow as the funeral is held.

When death comes suddenly and closely, and when we listen to the news and where this old world is heading, it makes me wish Jesus would come sooner rather than later.

May each of your staff and pupils sense the urgency of the battle we are in and be empowered to live victoriously and in a way that will attract even more pupils and families into a saving relationship with Jesus.

God bless your efforts.

Ken Weslake,
Associate Director, Education South Pacific Division, SDA Church

News about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

Posted by Ken Weslake at 8:33 AM



Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

Acts 19
1And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

2He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

3And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

7And all the men were about twelve.

8And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.

10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

11And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

12So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

13Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.

15And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

16And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.

19Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

21After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

22So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

23And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

24For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;

25Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

26Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:

27So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

28And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

29And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.

30And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

31And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

32Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

33And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.

34But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

35And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?

36Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.

37For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

38Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.

39But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.

40For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.

41And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

King James Version (KJV)
Public Domain

Promote Healthful Living

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Rom. 12:1.

It is impossible for a man to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, while continuing to indulge habits that are depriving him of physical, mental, and moral vigor. Again the apostle says, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Rom. 12:2.

We are in a world that is opposed to righteousness or purity of character, and especially to growth in grace. Wherever we look, we see defilement and corruption, deformity and sin. How opposed is all this to the work that must be accomplished in us just previous to receiving the gift of immortality! God's elect must stand untainted amid the corruptions teeming around them in these last days. Their bodies must be made holy, their spirits pure. If this work is to be accomplished, it must be undertaken at once, earnestly and understandingly. The Spirit of God should have perfect control, influencing every action.

The health reform is one branch of the great work which is to fit a people for the coming of the Lord. . . . Men and women cannot violate natural law by indulging depraved appetites and lustful passions, without violating the law of God. Therefore He has permitted the light of health reform to shine upon us, that we may realize the sinfulness of breaking the laws which He has established in our very being. . . .

To make natural law plain, and to urge obedience to it, is a work that accompanies the third angel's message. . . . He [God] designs that the subject shall be agitated, and the public mind deeply stirred to investigate it; for it is impossible for men and women, while under the power of sinful, health-destroying, brain-enervating habits, to appreciate sacred truth. . . .

He who cherishes the light which God has given him upon health reform, has an important aid in the work of becoming sanctified through the truth, and fitted for immortality.


Maranatha, p.119.

Modern Day Pilgrims and Puritans

It's my opinion that a situation exists today in America simiilar to the conditions in colonial New England. Back then, there were Pilgrim settlers and Puritan settlers on the coast of present day Massachusetts. These two groups differed fundamentally in that the Pilgrims (also called Separatists) separated themselves from the Church of England to worship The Almighty God as they were led by the Holy Spirit through prayer and study of the Holy Bible; On the other hand the Puritans remained within the Corporate Body of the Church of England, and attempted to 'reform' that denomination from within its structure. The Pilgrims saw the futility in undertaking such a task, and readily 'extracted' their participation from an apostate church. During the same period the Puritans (who quickly followed the Pilgrims sojourn) enthusiastically defended the Anglican Church's sovereignty, even in the newly 'acquired' colonial territories. The Puritans saw themselves as the defenders of the Faith. While the Pilgrims sought to dedicate their efforts to worship their Creator in spirit and in truth without involving themselves in clerical matters.
My comparison does not refer to the doctrines the two groups espoused, or how they relate to modern Christian beliefs, But rather to their approach to livng a 'religious' lifestyle and their relationship to the 'world' .

There are two similar forces in christian churches today. There is a group similar to the Pilgrims of yesteryear who refuse to participate in an Ecumenical Corporate Structure that is genetically a clone, and also a member of the New Age organizations NCC and WCC; A Corporate Body that may own a copyright (Registered Trademark) of (on) its name.

The modern day Pilgrims separate themselves from these generic churches which are indistinguishable one from the other, since they believe the time has arrived for a millennium of peace and security. Had they read their Bibles prayerfully they would have discerned that it's time for the second coming of Jesuschrist to bring judgement to a rebellious and sinful world. To bring judgement and destruction to the evil doers; Not peace and security! Also, to save and remove His faithful servants from this corrupt environment.
The Puritans of today are busy planting churches on every corner, and organizing volunteer programs to help Haiti, to help the elderly, and to feed the needy. Yet, their sermons are devoid of any redeeming truths. This social gospel is not Biblical. They lie about there awaiting mankind decades of hope and prosperity; When the signs clearly point towards a time of unprecedented destruction and chaos. Had they read their Bibles, instead of People Magazine, they would have known that Jesus is at the threshold. The Puritan's counterpart now are as lost and confused as their namesakes were 400 years ago; Since the purpose of the Lord for a Church and a faithful people are not to defend corporations, societies, real estate property, or fallible men; But, rather to be the salt of the earth. To represent the Almighty God, to love, and to worship only Him with all your might. To prepare a people for the great day of the Lord. Never has it been the purpose of God to have a group of politicians using His name to further their sinful goals, and goad others to do likewise (conform).
The Puritans and the Pilgrims are alive today.

Which group are you in?
Are you in the group that wants to "fix" the church, the USA, the world?

Or, are you instead in the group that is reforming themselves and preparing others for the soon triumphant return of the Lord?

The Pilgrims and the Puritans are back!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The New England Colonies

Depicting the Pilgrims as they leave Holland for new shores, "The Embarkation of the Pilgrims" can be found on the reverse of a $10,000 bill. Too bad the bill has not been printed since 1946.

The founders of the New England colonies had an entirely different mission from the Jamestown settlers. Although economic prosperity was still a goal of the New England settlers, their true goal was spiritual. Fed up with the ceremonial Church of England, Pilgrims and Puritans sought to recreate society in the manner they believed God truly intended it to be designed.

Religious strife reached a peak in England in the 1500s. When Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church of Rome, spiritual life in England was turned on its ear. The new church under the king's leadership was approved by the English Parliament, but not all the people in England were willing to accept the Church of England. At first, the battles were waged between English Catholics and the followers of the new Church — the Anglicans. The rule of Queen Elizabeth brought an end to bloodshed, but the battle waged on in the hearts of the English people.

The Pilgrims, called the Separatists in England because of their desire to separate from the Anglican Church, were persecuted by agents of the throne.

The Puritans, so named for their desire to purify the Church of England, experienced the same degree of harassment.
Pilgrims and Puritans both believed in the teachings of John Calvin. According to Calvin, neither the teachings of the Catholic nor the Anglican Churches addressed God's will. By the end of Elizabeth's reign, England was a nation of many different faiths.

John Winthrop was a spiritual and political leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was elected governor of the colony in 1629.

The Stuart family, who ascended to the throne after the demise of Elizabeth, made matters worse for the followers of John Calvin. King James and his son Charles supported the Church of England, but secretly admired the ceremonies of the Catholic Church. To these kings, Calvin was a heretic, a man whose soul was doomed for his religious views.

The Pilgrims, called the Separatists in England because of their desire to separate from the Anglican Church, were persecuted by agents of the throne. The Puritans, so named for their desire to purify the Church of England, experienced the same degree of harassment. By the second and third decades of the 1600s, each group decided that England was no place to put their controversial beliefs into practice.

This map, the work of William Hubbard, depicts the expanding New England colonies as they were in 1677.

Where else but in the New World could such a golden opportunity be found? The land was unspoiled. Children could be raised without the corruption of old English religious ideas. The chance to create a perfect society was there for the taking. The Stuart kings saw America a means to get rid of troublemakers. Everything was falling into place.

By 1620, the seeds for a new society, quite different from the one already established at Jamestown, were planted deeply within the souls of a few brave pioneers. Their quest would form the basis of New England society.


The Pilgrims and Puritans

For most Americans, the Thanksgiving holiday will be spent doing something other than pondering history. Even I will be watching the Packers beat play the Lions in an artificial war waged by men far more durable than I. Later in the day however, I will spend time talking with my family about the courageous group of Pilgrims that landed in a region which has largely forgotten God in our day. They were Puritans you say? Well yes and no. They had the same beliefs and origins, and because of that we sometimes inaccurately called them Puritans. But they were actually another group of people categorized as Separatists; the ones who came here we also call The Pilgrims. The Puritans soon after lived in the colony right next door. One thing is for sure, the Boston and Plymouth colonies were both filled with durable people, and they had so very much in common. But one group being Puritans and the other being Separatists, they also had their differences. This page on has an excellent morsel of church history for you to feast on. It's a five minute overview of the differences and similarities between the Puritans and Pilgrims, taking you all the way back to their Reformation roots. Enjoy the read, and enjoy the day, being thankful for what the Lord has accomplished through them, to the glory of the almighty God. ...

Total Reformation for the Glory of God

by Samuel T. Logan. Jr.


What's the difference between the Pilgrims and the Puritans? Are they all the same folks? When did the two groups first form? And why did they emerge as distinct religious groups?

Excellent questions, every one!

In answering all of the above questions, the year 1517 was especially crucial.

Most know one reason for this-in October of 1517, Martin Luther nailed his theological theses (declarations) to the castle door in Wittenberg, Germany. But 1517 is a crucial year for another reason as well, for in that year, in Boston, England, at a site where now stands an English pub called Martha's Vineyard, John Foxe was born. To anticipate just a bit, John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, once said that something John Foxe did, more than any other human action, caused the rise and the flourishing of Puritanism.

by 1526, regular (rather subversive) theological discussions were being conducted in the White Horse Tavern in Cambridge. Participants included such future luminaries as Thomas Bilney, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer. Every one of the four was later martyred.

In the meantime, in the late 1520's and early 1530's Henry VIII was experiencing matrimonial and political difficulties such that, in 1533, he insisted that the Convocation of Canterbury declare his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. In the next year, Henry had the English Parliament declare him the Supreme Head of the Church in England, thus severing all ties with the Roman Church.

While Henry had no particular desire to "reform" the theology of the church, those who had been meeting at the White Horse (and many of their colleagues and supporters) saw this as an opportunity "of the Lord." Perhaps now the Scriptures alone could genuinely become the foundation of the church and the nation.

Such hopes found little royal support during Henry's lifetime, but, when the King died in 1547, his nine-year-old son Edward officially assumed the throne, ruling primarily through regents, both of whom (first the Duke of Somerset and then the Duke of Northumberland) had more sympathy for the vision which had illuminated those White Horse discussions. The push for the purification of the church and the state gained great momentum in England between 1547 and Edward's death in 1553.

But the next Tudor on the throne was Mary Tudor, better known to later generations as "Bloody Mary." Mary wanted nothing more than to return "her" country to the Roman Catholic fold, no matter the cost.

Between 1553 and 1558, Protestant exiles flooded Europe, hoping to escape Mary's sword by gathering in such Protestant bastions as Geneva and Frankfurt. To the latter came the 38-year-old John Foxe. Foxe developed a powerful vision of what England could be, if only God's Word were fully and faithfully followed.

Mary's death in 1558 and the accession to the English throne of Mary's Protestant sister Elizabeth reversed the earlier tide and sent Englishmen and Englishwomen home in droves. The seed which became Puritanism received a full shot of theological fertilizer from the pen of John Foxe.

During Mary's reign, hundreds had died for their faith. Would the people of England honor those deaths by seizing the marvelous opportunity the Lord had given England by removing Mary and replacing her with Elizabeth?

Would the people of England now insist that their church and their state be completely purified of all non-biblical elements so that both institutions (and all the people therein) might bring singular honor to the Lord God of Scripture?

These were the questions asked in Foxe's monumental work which we know as The Book of Martyrs. First published in 1563 Foxe's work was an intense account of the pain suffered by the Marian martyrs and a clarion call to bring both the nation and the church of England into full conformity to the Word of God.

Many of those who shared the dream which had been nurtured at the White Horse Tavern now seized upon Foxe's expression of God's expectations of His people and insisted, with ever-increasing fervor, that both their royal and their ecclesiastical leaders direct all English affairs sola Scriptura, according to the Scriptures alone.

Queen Elizabeth I, however, saw things differently. Her vision was of political stability and order. Elizabeth had no interest in any kind of extremism, especially the kind of religious extremism which the theological heirs of those White Horse discussants seemed to her to represent.

England (including the English church) should, in this Elizabethan view, be broad and inclusive and should base its life on tradition and reason as well as on the teachings of Scripture.

So, by 1570, there had developed in England two parties- 1) those who favored this more rationalistic understanding of church and state, and 2) those who continued to insist that further purification of those two entities was required by Scripture and that England must now seize the spiritual opportunity so brilliantly described by John Foxe. And it was in the midst of this controversy that the term "puritan" began to be regularly used by the first group as a derisive epithet of attack upon the second group.

The 1570's saw the intensification of this conflict with little "progress," at least from the standpoint of the Puritan party. In fact, with the dismissal of Thomas Cartwright from his teaching position at Cambridge for promulgating the heresy of Presbyterianism, it appeared to some Puritans that the cause was being lost and this perception led to the first major split within the Puritan party.

As the Puritan impulse might be primarily associated with (though it actually preceded) Foxe's Book of Martyrs, so the "Pilgrim" ethos might be traced appropriately to Robert Browne's book, Reformation Without Tarrying for Anie, first published in 1580. Browne might be called a disillusioned Puritan. He shared the vision which informed Foxe's work, but after more than a decade of seeking revival within the English church, he came to the conclusion that it just wasn't going to happen. Browne "separated from" the English church and, with the like-minded Robert Harrison, started his own congregation in Norwich in 1581.

Thus was formed the "Separatist" movement, a movement which later produced suchleaders as John Smyth (whom some regard as the father of English Baptists), John Robinson, William Brewster, and William Bradford. The latter three were directly involved in that group of Separatists which, in 1608, left England for the Netherlands, and then later decided to emigrate to the New World, landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.

Many (probably most) Puritans chose to remain within the English church working for reform, and it was from this group that a much larger group of emigrants left from England for New England in the late 1620's, establishing their colony at Massachusetts Bay.

The Boston and Plymouth colonies were distinct political and religious entities (at least until the English government combined them in the late 1680's) and, while relations between them were generally friendly, members of both groups were crystal clear on the differences between them.

"Puritans" wanted to remain as part of the English establishment, working for biblical reform from within. Even as they emigrated to New England, they affirmed their "Englishness" and saw the main purpose of their new colony as being that of a biblical witness, a "city on a hill" which would set an example of biblical righteousness in church and state for Old England and the entire world to see. As deeply committed covenant theologians, they emphasized especially strongly the corporate righteousness of their entire community before God.

"Pilgrims" wanted to achieve "reformation without tarrying," even if it meant separating from their church and their nation. While they continued to think of themselves as English, their emphasis was on their new political identity and spiritual identity. Because of their passionate commitment to the necessity of reformation immediate and without compromise, they emphasized especially strongly individual righteousness before God.

What united Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth, what united both Puritans and Pilgrims was far more significant than what distinguished them. All children of the Reformation, they knew that salvation was by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And they knew this because they took, as their authority, Scripture alone.

They all knew that to God alone must be the glory and, in their different ways, they sought to bring every thought and every action-religious, political, social-captive to the Lordship of Jesus.

Could there be any more important goal for American Christians today?

Reprinted from Tabletalk magazine, vol. 20, no. 11, November 1996, with permission of Ligonier Ministries, P.O. Box 547500 Orlando, Florida 32854 1-800-435-4343.

[Dr. Logan is President of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa. where he teaches church history.]