We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer. January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-English-Reformation-1489-1556/dp/1592448658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420055574&sr=8-1&keywords=A.F.+Pollard+Cranmer. February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-Jasper-Ridley/dp/0198212879/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422892154&sr=8-1&keywords=jasper+ridley+cranmer&pebp=1422892151110&peasin=198212879
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Friday, January 18, 2013
Kevin DeYoung|6:06 am CT
Five Reasons to Read the Heidelberg Catechism This Year
If you love the Heidelberg Catechism and have for a long time, read it again this year. If you learned the Heidelberg Catechism years ago and dismissed it as cruel and unusual punishment, give it another chance. If “Heidelberg” sounds like a disease to you and catechism sounds as thrilling as detasseling corn, try it anyway.
1. This year marks the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. The first version of the Catechism had a preface dated January 19, 1563, which makes tomorrow the big anniversary date. Happy Birthday!
2. The Heidelberg Catechism is the most personal and most devotional of the Reformation era creeds and confessions. The theme is “comfort” and the emphasis is on how the person and work of Jesus Christ benefits the believer. The pattern of questions and answers make the catechism accessible, while the conspicuous use of “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine” make the theology warm and practical.
3. The Catechism is more influential than you know. Not only have Reformed churches around subscribed to the Heidelberg for centuries, but believers all around the globe have found theological ballast and personal comfort in these 52 Lord’s Days. According to Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson writing in 1999 The Heidelberg Catechism “has circulated more widely than any other book except the Bible, Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.”
4. There are a growing number of fine resources to help you understand the history and theology of the Catechism. The most important work is the Commentary by Zacharius Ursinus (the principal author of the Catechism). Lyle Bierma from Calvin Seminary has edited a scholarly introduction on Heidelberg’s history, sources, and theology. Willem Van’t Spijker’s volume, The Church’s Book of Comfort, is also a fine place to start for those wanting to know the people and context behind the Catechism. I know of at least two excellent books coming out this year (one by P&R and one by RHB). For a general look at the importance of creeds, confessions, and catechisms, be sure to read Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative. And for a popular level treatment of the Heidelberg I’m partial to The Good News We Almost Forgot.
5. The Heidelberg Catechism is full of gospel. It is nothing less than a deeply moving, theologically careful, biblically faithful exploration of God’s grace. You won’t find a better man-made paragraph in all the world than Question and Answer 1. My only true and lasting comfort is that I am not my own, but belong–body and soul, in life and in death–to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
For more information on the Catechism you can also search this blog. I’ve written short articles about the history of Heidelberg, my favorite Lord’s Day, good works, tears at the Lord’s Table, Christian Hedonism, and a host of other topics related to the Catechism. We are also preaching through the Catechism during our evening services this years.
Islamo-Facist Watch: Egyptian Court Sentences Christian Family to 15 Years for Converting from Islam
Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam
A criminal court in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef meted out the shocking sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. He later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.
Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said conversions like Nadia's have been common in the past, but said Egypt's new Sharia-based constitution "is a real disaster in terms of religion freedom.”
"Now that Sharia law has become an integral part of Egypt's new constitution, Christians in that country are at greater risk than ever."- Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice
"The cases will increase in the future," Tadros said. "It will be much harder for people to return to Christianity."
President Mohamed Morsi, who was elected last June and succeeded the secular reign of Hosni Mubarak, who is now in prison, pushed the new constitution through last year.
Tadros said the constitution limits the practice of Christianity because “religious freedom has to be understood within the boundaries of Sharia.” He added that the constitution prescribes that the highest Sunni authority should be referred to as an interpreter of the religion clause contained in the constitution.
Opponents of the constitution, including Coptic Christians and secular and liberal groups, protested at the time against passage of the document because of the mix of Islamic-based Sharia law and politics. Roughly 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians.
A government spokeswoman told FoxNews.com she would determine “who is responsible for this and covers this issue in Beni Suef,“ a city of 200,000 located about 75 miles south of Cairo. She did not offer further comment.
The case is the latest example of the increasingly dire plight of the nation's roughly 7 million Christians, say human rights advocates.
"Now that Sharia law has become an integral part of Egypt's new constitution, Christians in that country are at greater risk than ever," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. "This is another tragic case that underscores the growing problem of religious intolerance in the Muslim world. To impose a prison sentence for a family because of their Christian faith sadly reveals the true agenda of this new government: Egypt has no respect for international law or religious liberty.”
Morsi has been under fire for failing to take action against rising violence inflicted on Egypt’s Christians. In August, the roughly 100-family Christian community in Dahshour was forced to flee after Muslim neighbors launched attacks against the Christians’ homes and property. Morsi said the expulsion and violence was “ blown out of proportion.” Radical Salafi preachers -- who have formed alliances with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood -- called for Muslims to shun Christians during Christmas.
Sekulow urged U.S. diplomatic intervention in Egypt to promote religious freedom. Morsi is scheduled to meet with President Obama, possibly in March.
”The U.S. State Department must play more of a role in discouraging this kind of persecution," Sekulow said. "The U.S. should not be an idle bystander. The U.S. provides more than $1 billion to Egypt each year. The State Department should speak out forcefully against this kind of religious persecution in Egypt.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a journalist who reports on Christians in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter: @BenWeinthal.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/16/egyptian-court-sentences-entire-family-to-15-years-for-converting-to/#ixzz2IO7Zlz4r
Timeframe: August 1998 – March 1999
Age: 3 years old
Parents: Church officials who ran a Home Group
Location: Not specified
Perpetrator: Church member
Defendants cited: Ecelbarger, Phillips, Hinders, D., Gallo
Timeframe: March 1993
Age: 2 years old
Location: Not specified
Perpetrator: Juvenile church member
Conviction: Parents of victim immediately called police and reported assault, convicted for sexual molestation.
Defendants cited: Loftness, Ricucci, Layman
Timeframe: Discovered by mother in November 1987
Location: Not specified
Perpetrator: Stepfather and current member of Covenant Life Church
Defendants: Ricucci, Loftness
Timeframe: Not specified
Location: Covenant Life school, Church premises and Church events
Perpetrator 1: Pastor/teacher
Perpetrator 2: Children’s ministry worker
Time: 25-year period
Location: Maryland and Virginia
Defendants cited: Covenant Life Church, Ricucci, Loftness
Victim: Age 8
Perpetrator: Juvenile sexual predator (who was previously charged with raping a minor and served time in juvenile detention); parents alerted police and was convicted on felony charges
Victim: Age 7
Perpetrator: Male son of a Church pastor (approximately age 12 or 13)
Location: Multiple locations including bathroom at Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax
Defendants: Ecelbarger, Gallo, Mullery, V. Hinders
Victim: Reported to mother at age 10
Perpetrator: Father – a member of Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax
Location: Not specified
Victim: A child
Perpetrator: A sexual predator of the same sex
Location: Not specified
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