ANGLICAN SYNOD SAYS MASONRY IS A FALSE RELIGION—Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said he had "real misgivings about the compatibility of Masonry and Christian profession," and said he wouldn't appoint any Freemasons to senior posts. After an outcry, however, he apologized for causing "distress." But the Sydney Anglican synod called on its members to choose between lodge and church, and told congregations not to let Masons to use their facilities (12/3 Chr. Today). It said Freemasonry "teaches and upholds a system of false religious and spiritual beliefs."

TOP EPISCOPAL BISHOP RESIGNS FROM DIALOGUE—The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, under fire for his support of an openly gay bishop, has resigned as co-chairman of long-standing talks with the Roman Catholic Church. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said he would step down from the 33-year-old Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission because the consecration of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire has caused strain between the two churches. (12/2 Crosswalk)

PLAYBOY CULTURE TREATS WOMEN AS SEX OBJECTS, PREGNANCY AS A DISEASE, ABORTION AS THE CURE—Statistics indicate the total cultural victory of pornography in America today. Hollywood releases 400 films each year, while the pornography industry releases 700 movies each month! Porn is, as a minimum, a $10 billion a year business (12/3 CT). And online sex addiction is no longer just a male problem. Nearly one in three adult Web visitors is a woman.

GEORGE SAYS WE SHOULDN'T IGNORE MARY ANY LONGER—Timothy George, ecumenical executive editor of Chr. Today, gives reasons why evangelical Protestants have an "almost instinctive distrust" of Mary. He writes (12/03 CT): "First, we find no biblical warrant for the kind of devotion to Mary that flourishes among many of the Catholic faithful. Mary's perpetual virginity (belief that she had no children after Jesus and remained a virgin throughout her life), immaculate conception (that she was born without the stain of original sin), and bodily assumption (that she was taken body and soul into heaven after she died without seeing corruption) are extrabiblical beliefs that cannot be traced to the earliest historical memory of the church." Of course we shouldn't ignore Mary but neither should we give her an exalted position of worship as many Roman Catholics do.

PREACHER, OR WORSHIP LEADER?—Churches are now hiring "worship leaders" to bring the modern audiences into the "spirit of worship" that is supposedly missing in old-fashioned congregations. Church musicians are the leaders of worship and pastors are secondary to that worship. Pastors have largely become puppets doing whatever their people want. (The Projector)

HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS ARE BRIEF—A recent study on homosexual relationships (Wash.Times/Door-Step Evangel) finds they last 1 ½ years on average—even as homosexual groups are pushing nationwide to legalize same-sex "marriages." The Dutch study—which focused on transmission of HIV—found that men in homosexual relationships average eight partners a year outside those relationships. Most couples have arrangements whereby the partners may have sexual activity with others. AIDS kills about 6,000 people a day in Africa—more than wars, famines, and floods. Yet it is a largely preventable, politically-protected disease (8/1/87 CC).

CATHOLICISM & ISLAM—Catholicism and Islam each have over one billion adherents, nearly all of whom enter their faiths as infants. Over 16 million babies are baptized into the Catholic Church each year. Though baptism is not part of Islam, all children born into a Muslim family are Muslims. Their official "confirmation" follows as soon as they are able to confess the shahada ("There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger"). Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today; Catholicism the largest religious body among professing Christians (11/2 Berean Call).

CHRISTIANS HAVE RIGHTS TOO--In a strongly worded opinion issued last month, Detroit Federal Judge Gerald Rosen upheld the right of a Christian student to express her religious beliefs in opposition to homosexuality during her high school's "Diversity Week" program that was designed to promote the homosexual agenda. The case involved a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a student whose religious views against homosexuality were censored and excluded from the 2002 "Diversity Week" program. This is a big victory for the First Amendment rights of Christian students and a big defeat for those who consider public schools as their private platform to advance the homosexual agenda.

ISLAMIC CHAPLAINS SUE—About three dozen chaplains are suing the Navy, alleging religious discrimination (11/1 World). The Navy's religious patronage system promotes Roman Catholic and liturgical Protestant chaplains over Baptist, Pentecostal, and other evangelical chaplains. Conditions have improved for some since the 1999 lawsuits.

WICCA IS BECOMING POPULAR—Wicca (witchcraft) is a fast-growing New Age pagan religion. Though commonly viewed as a female activity, males accounted for over 15,000 people executed for witchcraft in early modern Europe. Two Australian pastors, accused of vilifying Islam, recently were being tried under new "hate laws" being used by a witch.

ANNIVERSARY EDITION—By the grace of God, we have now completed 20 years of publishing Calvary Contender!

ETS MAY SPLIT OVER 'OPEN THEISM'—Evangelical Theological Society members voted Nov. 19 to retain two members (Clark Pinnock, John Sanders) who published views supporting "open theism," the belief that God sometimes changes His mind depending on human actions. Ouster requires a two-thirds vote—Pinnock got 32.9 percent removal votes, Sanders got 62.7. [Pinnock voluntarily revised and clarified certain statements in his writings.] At open theism's core is a denial of God's exhaustive foreknowledge of future events. Open theists claim that God does not know the future decisions of humans because those choices have yet to be made. Carl Henry warned [12/9 BP e-mail]: "Once the sovereignty and exhaustive foreknowledge of God are compromised, much else soon goes with it. At the end, one is not left with a doctrine of God at all." Norman Geisler gave examples from Pinnock's other writings that undermine inerrancy, and presented 12 reasons why open theists should not be members of the ETS.

CLERGY LEADERSHIP NETWORK—A newly launched Clergy Leadership Network coalition of liberal/radical religious leaders (including William Sloan Coffin, Rev. Joan Campbell Brown) hopes to become "the Christian Coalition of the left" and seeks to counter the influence of conservative Christian organizations (New York Times). The 24-member founding group will also include Catholic and Jewish members, and they hope, Muslim members as well.

CARL HENRY DEAD AT 90—Theologian Carl F.H. Henry, the first editor of Christianity Today magazine died at home in Watertown, Wis. at age 90. He attended Wheaton College with Billy Graham who later urged him to head a new magazine dealing with biblical orthodoxy and faith issues. He was among the early leaders of the NAE, the author of several books, and was a major figure of the latter half of the 20th century—instrumental in shaping the new-evangelical movement. Henry defended biblical inerrancy, and dialogue with Roman Catholics. He did not sign the 1994 Colson-Neuhaus document (ECT) but said it clearly took Evangelical-Catholic unity beyond preserving cultural values. He called for recognition of both groups as Christian brethren.

ANOTHER GARBC SCHOOL LINKS WITH SBC—The Northwest Baptist Convention (SBC) has endorsed Western Baptist College (GARBC-related "partner") as an educational institution that their member churches should support financially and promote as a preferred college for their young people. The NWBC executive board approved this, and WBC's President Dr. Reno Hoff spoke at the NWBC convention. The NWBC has 429 congregations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and northern California. Cedarville University, another GARBC-related school, (a "partner") recently became linked with Southern Baptists of Ohio.

WCC CHIEF NOTES PROGRESS OF ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT—Konrad Raiser, outgoing head of the World Council of Churches, in a Nov. 20 interview, listed progress of the ecumenical movement during his 11-year term. He pointed first to the agreement signed in Augsburg in 1999 between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church, the result of a long process of dialogue. He said: "As we continue our search for unity, we already feel that the links between us [WCC and Catholic partners] are so strong that the obstacles that arise do not call into question the progress already made. [But] it is impossible to overlook increasing fears among Roman Catholics, but also among Anglicans and Lutherans, Methodists and Orthodox, linked to the identity…of each tradition." The Orthodox churches now feel they are being listened to. Raiser mentioned exploring ways to create a Global Christian Forum. He says that without a structure of reference, the WCC risks the rise of a militant, populist and fundamentalist Christianity.

WHY WAIT A YEAR FOR CEDARVILLE DECISION?—At the GARBC's annual conference last June, action against Cedarville University for entering into a partnership with Ohio Southern Baptists was delayed one year. Sword of the Lord editor Dr. Shelton Smith commented as follows (10/10): "Cedarville University has been a GARBC school for many years. For almost twelve months they have also been connected in an official partnership with the Ohio State Convention of Southern Baptists. We commend the GARBC Council for voting to sever the relationship with Cedarville but must admit we are gravely concerned that they did not have sufficient influence to get it passed in their general assembly. So now it will be sometime in 2004 before a final decision is made. It has the appearance of a delaying tactic of Cedarville loyalists, and it also seems that the folks who wanted to cut the ties did not sufficiently pitch their case…."

FUNDAMENTALISM: 'PASS IT ON'—The history of fundamentalism must be passed on to the next generation with accuracy and passion. The issues and reasons that engendered the movement must be inculcated, and its primary causes of failure—disobedience and compromise—must be clearly and specifically pointed out and warned against. Fundamentalist distinctives, emphases, and biblical foundations must be regularly taught. Opportunities must be provided for these to also be presented, especially from the chapel pulpit and classroom teaching. Its practical work departments and musical program must be thoroughly consistent with and support and promote fundamentalism. Churches must keep close watch on the schools it relies on to train its young people. They cannot blindly trust what a school says—attention must also be paid to its practice. The leadership of both the local church and educational institutions must be willing to make the tough decisions necessary to preserve purity of doctrine and testimony, even if it would involve a loss of constituency. [This is an excerpt from an excellent 43-page paper by Daniel Greenfield, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, analyzing GARBC's partner Cedarville University's fall to new evangelicalism.]

VIRGINIA BAPTISTS, AVERETT UNIVERSITY CONFLICT—Virginia Baptists have escrowed over $350,000 that would have gone to Averett University next year. But it's in escrow until a conflict over homosexuality and biblical authority is resolved. Averett attracted the ire of some Va. Baptists last August when its religion department head wrote an article endorsing the action of the Episcopal Church to ordain an openly homosexual bishop, and criticizing a literal method of Bible interpretation (12/11/03 Ala. Baptist). Then in September, the notorious John Shelby Spong lectured on campus, reportedly saying the God who is revealed in a literal Scripture reading is "immoral" and "unbelievable."

BIBLICAL FUNDAMENTALISM—(The first of "22 terms to know in the 21st century," Foundation, Sept.-Oct. 2003). "Biblical Fundamentalism is a movement of men and ministries who, recognizing God's Word as completely authoritative in every area of which it speaks, are dedicated to theological orthodoxy and an attitude of disdain for unbelief as well as theological, ecclesial or ministerial compromise. Such an attitude manifests itself by militant defense of the faith once delivered (as recorded in its completeness in God's Word, the Bible) and subsequent separation from those who entertain unbelief or compromise. Biblical fundamentalism is always marked by 1) ecclesial separation from unbelievers or even brethren who propagate false doctrine and, 2) defense of absolute truth as revealed in God's Word."

SUPERCOMPUTER—IBM is building the world's fastest supercomputer. Code-named Blue Gene, it uses 130,000 processors and runs six times faster than today's speediest machine. Engineers are to install it in 2005. [11/29/03 World]

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