Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Good-bye Fred (Sniff, Sniff, Whimper, Whimper)

The withdrawal of Fred Thompson from the campaign to receive the Republican nomination puts The Hand in a position he has never found himself in before. It is The Hand's position that Thompson was the most reliable conservative in the race and could be trusted to appoint judicial conservatives to the bench who would protect the life of the unborn. With Anthony Kennedy acting as the swing vote on the Court, there is a need for two more justices on the bench who follow the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. McCain and Guiliani cannot be trusted and may try to marginalize the evangelical-conservative wing of the party. Huckabee is not a true conservative and seems to possess a political spine of as much elasticity as silly-putty. Since Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo have also withdrawn, there is no reliable conservative to vote for to protest the moderate leanings of the front runners. (In 1996, I voted for Alan Keyes over Bob Dole in the primary.) What do you say? There is still Ron Paul. I am wanting to vote conservative, not libertarian. So, in the Illinois primary on February 5th, what is my choice? Since there is no conservative alternative, my only choice is to vote for the candidate most likely to beat Hillary or Obama in November. That candidate is Mitt Romney. He is a good campaigner, a sharp candidate, has no personal baggage, and as far as I can tell, has no bad blood with conservatives as McCain and Guiliani do. He also makes fewer idiotic remarks than Huckabee. I can not be overly enthusiastic about him. He will probably want to push programs increasing the size of government, like George W. Bush did. I was not enthusiastic about Bush in 2000, yet his overall record on the war and his steadfastness on the issue of judges has earned my gratitude and I do not regret supporting him over McCain. I hope on these issues Romney will be just as steadfast, although his past history makes me wary of him. Hopefully, this opportunistic politician will think it in his best interest to side with the evangelical wing of his party rather than pander to the media and the Washington establishment. My voting for him is not an acknowledgement that Mormonism is a legitimate branch of the body of Christ. A third party candidate is not an option. That would only assure that either Hillary or Obama would win. Voting for a third party candidate may ease the conscience of some, yet would guarantee the victory of those who support the murder of the unborn. That is an unacceptable outcome.

Do I sin because I am a supporter of Republicans over Democrats? Some of my more politically liberal brethren would say so? Are my favorite Democrats, Harry Truman, Grover Cleveland, or Henry Scoop Jackson running this year? I could vote for them. I could vote for the Democratic party of JFK, not Teddy Kennedy, Bill and Hillary. I like Obama personally at this point, but he does not stand for life.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Clouds of Witnesses: "Tortured For Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand, Part III.

Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian pastor arrested by the Communist authorities in 1948. He spent many years confined and underwent unspeakable torture. After his release, he came to the West to speak out on behalf of those Christians tortured by the Communists behind the Iron Curtain. He and his wife founded "Voices of the Martyrs" ( http://www.persecutionblog.com/ ) to highlight persecution of Christians world-wide. Biographical information concerning Wurmbrand follows this article. The following quotations are from Wurmbrands book "Tortured for Christ." ( http://www.amazon.com/tortured-christ-Richard-Wurmbrand/dp/0882643266 ) You can read Parts I and II of this post in the November and December archives of this blog.

p. 79 "A religious service in the Underground Church is like one nineteen hundred years ago in the Early Church. The preacher knows no elaborate theology. He knows no homiletic, as Peter did not know it. Every professor of theology would have given Peter a bad mark for his sermon on the day of Pentecost. The Bible verses are not well known in communist countries, because Bibles are rare. Besides, the preacher has most likely been in prison for years, without a Bible."

p. 80- "Whoever has known the spiritual beauty of the Underground Church cannot be satisfied anymore with the emptiness of some Western churches.
"I suffer in the West more than I suffered in a communist jail, because now I see with my own eyes the western civilization dying.
"Oswald Spengler wrote in Decline of the West:
You are dying. I see in you all the characteristic stigma of decay. I can prove that your great wealth and your great poverty, your capitalism and your socialism, your wars and your revolutions, your atheism and your pessimism and your cynicism, your immorality, your broken-down marriages, your birth control, that is bleeding you from the bottom and killing you off at the top in your brains-can prove to you that there are characteristic marks of the dying ages of ancient states-Alexandria and Greece and neurotic Rome."

p. 89-90 "The Underground Church has very little means of opposing the huge forces of a totalitarian state. The underground ministers in Russia have little theological training. There are pastors who have never read a whole Bible.
"I will tell you how many have been ordained. We met a young Russian who was a secret minister. I asked him who ordained him. He answered, "We had no real bishop to ordain us. The official bishop would ordain nobody who is not approved by the Communist Party. So ten of us young Christians went to the tomb of a bishop who died as a martyr. Two of us put our hands on the gravestone. The others formed a circle around us and we asked the Holy Spirit to ordain us. We are sure we were ordained by the pierced hands of Jesus.
"For me, this young man's ordination is valid before God!
"Men with such ordination, and who have never had any theological training, and who very often know little of the Bible, carry on the work of Christ.
"It is like the Church of the first centuries. What seminaries did those who turned the world upside down for Christ have? Did they all know how to read? And from where did they get their Bibles? God spoke to them.
"We of the Underground Church have no cathedrals. But is any cathedral more beautiful than the sky of heaven to which we looked when we gathered secretly in forests? The chirping of the birds took the place of the organ. The fragrance of flowers was our incense. And the shabby suit of a martyr recently freed from prison was much more impressive than priestly robes. We had the moon and stars as candles. The angels were our acolytes who lit them."

p. 105 "The second part of the Underground Church is the vast army of dedicated laymen and laywomen. It must be understood that there are no nominal, halfhearted, lukewarm Christians in Russia or China. The price Christians pay is far too great. The next point to remember is that persecution has always produced a better Christian-a witnessing Christian, a soul-winning Christian. Communist persecution has backfired and produced serious, dedicated Christians such as are rarely seen in free lands. These people cannot understand how anyone can be a Christian and not want to win every soul they meet."

Biographies of Richard Wurmbrand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wurmbrand , http://www.persecution.com/about/index.cfm?action=WurbrandStory .

I came across another biography of a pastor arrested by the communists that I highly recommend. It is called "Tortured For His Faith" by Haralan Popov. (http://alibris.com/booksearch?wauth=Haralan+Popov&siteID=eQIi2m6krTU-AUma2D4Uy_f1InV9WK6B8Q ) In the 1940's, Popov was the pastor of one of the largest Protestant churches in Bulgaria. He was arrested the same year as Wurmbrand and spent thirteen years in various prisons before being released in 1961.