Touching the Hem

A short devotional reading of Mark 6:53-56

They landed in Gennesaret – on the NW side of Sea of Galilee, just south of Capernaum.

This is the historic land allocation of the Tribe of Naphtali.

In Deuteronomy (33:23), the blessing of Moses to this tribe reads:

“And of Naphtali he said, ‘O Naphtali, sated/abounding with favour, and full of the blessing of the Lord, possess the lake/west and the south.

With this immense blessing, it is no wonder Gennesaret means:  Garden of the Prince.

The Garden recalls the fullness of Eden, sated with favour, full of blessing.

The Prince calls for the Messiah, the Saviour, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

This is a place where the King rules in fullness of majesty, possessing the earth in fullness of blessing.

So Jesus goes to Gennesaret.

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Damn Good Reasons Not To

Theologian and Pastor Peter Leithart, President of Theopolis Institute offers his reasons over at First Things for not having a Covid Vaccine amidst this “surrealist drama” we find ourselves in.

Excerpt:

“…Besides, the experts assuring us the vaccines are safe are the same experts who have dissembled and lied throughout the pandemic. They exaggerated the threat and falsely implied that everyone was equally in danger. In the U.K., they engaged in a deliberate psyops agenda. They have downplayed the side effects of vaccines, and many, including scientists, have undermined scientific norms and values in the name of “Science.” Officials imposed and continue to defend lockdowns, long after it’s become clear that lockdowns chiefly protect the least vulnerable, leave behind huge collateral damage, both domestically and globally, and don’t accomplish their stated aims….”

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The Nuremberg Code is a Direct Consequence of the Judeo-Christian Worldview

At the 1947 Nuremberg Trials after WW2, the Nazi Doctors responsible for horrific medical experiments were held to account. They were, in essence, charged with violating the moral laws of the universe.

Since then, the Nuremberg Code insisted and without exception, on voluntary consent to any medical procedure.

“This means that the person involved should have the legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him/her to make an understanding an enlightening decision.”

This is an ethic that directly springs from the Judeo-Christian worldview.

It is an example, albeit in non-religious language, of the Gospel coming to bear on a situation.

The Bible knows nothing of enforced Nazi medical experiments.

But it does know all about the human heart and our capacity for evil.

It does know, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote in the brilliant Gulag Archipelago:

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained”

This is a comment that has been informed, shaped and spoken by a Whole Gospel.

A Gospel that tells us the truth of things.

There is no place for a ‘show me your papers’ society in the United Kingdom

We launched the Together Declaration to send a clear message that the people of the United Kingdom reject vaccine passports.

We are now rapidly approaching 100,000 signatures so to help achieve this milestone ‘Together’ will be taking part in the demonstration in London this Saturday to help send a message to the Government that there is no place for a ‘show me your papers’ society in the United Kingdom.

If you would like to join us in London this Saturday we invite you to come and collect a Together T-shirt and placard at Hyde Park Corner before the public assembly commences at 1pm! 

Please help us share the Together Declaration

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NO to Vaccine Passports – Here’s Why

Excerpt to a fantastic argument by David Cayley against the alleged and illogical need for vaccine passports over at First Things:

“I was alerted to what was coming at the end of July. Under the headline “The time for debating vaccines passports is over,” Globe and Mail health columnist André Picard wrote that “it would be irresponsible, not to mention politically and economically self-defeating, to not try limiting the intermingling of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.” Two words struck me as particularly eerie: “intermingling,” and “population.” At that point, I had decided against vaccination on various grounds. The most compelling was concern for my heart. I had had some heart troubles at the end of 2020, and I knew that the new vaccines occasionally produced heart inflammation—a frequent enough side effect that Health Canada requires a caution on the labels of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Now, evidently, my decision had consigned me to a threatening “population” requiring segregation and exclusion….”

Read more…

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Summary of recent posts

We have attempted to begin with self-criticism, which for me meant a criticism of what I have called ‘traditionalism’. We focussed on four main problems with traditionalism:

(a) implicit parent-child models of authority,

(b) the de-relationalisation of biblical wisdom,

(c) the substitution of indoctrination for education, and

(d) the problem of disproportionate response.

Each of these problems manifested itself in several ways.

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Realities not prejudices

Proportionality and Restored Dignity vs. Hatred and Degradation

Second, God judges ‘each one according to his ways’, which means that justice is proportionate.

A firing squad is not appropriate for cheating on one tax return or even on several. Amputating limbs is not appropriate for stealing a loaf of bread or even several. Excommunication is not appropriate for buying a pornographic magazine or even several.

In other words, God’s judgement is always fair-minded, based on realities and not prejudices, based on real extent rather than the generalisations (and hence implicit false testimony) of rule-based religion. The law says, “if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes” (Deut. 25:2-3).

In other words, to exceed certain limits in punishment, and certainly to exceed what a deed deserves, only serves to ‘degrade your brother’. The aim is to punish a sin so as to restore a loved one to dignified living, not to degrade them. Proportionate punishment knows where to draw the line: it aims to restore dignity out of love, not to remove it out of hate.

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How God judges

We may now turn to the final component of our critique of traditionalism. We have looked at the entailments of implicit parent-child models of church authority, of the ‘de-relationalisation’ of biblical wisdom, and of the substitution of indoctrination for education.

Now, we turn to consider the danger of grossly disproportionate responses to self-designated homosexuals. In Scripture we read, “I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 18:30).

This brings two points to the foreground, as follows.

i) Considering the Particular Case vs. Fictional Judgements & False Testimony

First, God judges ‘each one according to his ways’, which means that God judges us individual by individual, with discernment, so that the proud person who doesn’t steal is not treated like a thief who has humbled himself after just one theft.

The thief who has humbled himself after his stumble will not be treated like the arrogant person who hasn’t stolen but who has maintained an arrogant stance. God will treat the humble thief much more leniently, since he repented, whereas a mighty hand will eventually crush the ongoingly arrogant person.

That is, God judges according to the objective realities of somebody’s behaviour, not according to false testimony, nor according to fictions about them, nor according to stigmatising labels, nor according to levels of social acceptability, but according to the truth about them individually.

Fallen human judges, however, tend to prefer to read their verdicts by a standard of false testimony, fictions, labels, and social norms. Why? Because if they tried to be objective, they would have to face their own sin.

To be on the receiving end of false judgements, though, is terrible, since it is to be judged by a Kangaroo court that ‘points the finger’ or ‘scapegoats’ to legitimate self-interest. But God detests acquitting the guilty and punishing the innocent: “Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty” (Exodus 23:7).

That is, those guilty of false judgement will not be acquitted, and, better to err on the side of lenience if in doubt since God will in any case see to it that the guilty person who escapes detection will not be acquitted. There is no excuse, however, for judgement that knowingly presupposes false testimony. Somebody who has ‘come out’ about homosexual desires, however, may be prematurely labelled, which is judgement by false testimony.

The trivialisation of prophecy

Entailment # 2: Trivialisation of the Prophetic Tradition   

Third, closely related to our points about the idolisation of tradition and the glorification of educational backwardness is what we may call the trivialisation of prophecy.

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:4, Thiselton notes that “prophetic speech may include applied theological teaching, encouragement, and exhortation to build the church, not merely (if at all) ad hoc cries of an expressive, diagnostic, or tactical nature, delivered as ‘spontaneous’ mini-messages.

The latter debase and trivialise the great tradition of the term in the biblical writings as something altogether more serious, sustained, and reflective”. And yet, is it not the case, in so many churches today, that ‘spontaneous ad hoc tactical mini-messages’ have replaced ‘serious, sustained, reflective, applied theological teaching’?

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