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Everything in February 2018 issue

February 2018
Reviews > Book

Too young to die?

Andrew Stone is married to Susan and they have a daughter called Hannah. In 2012, Hannah was about to start university in Bangor. However, she experienced kidney failure and had to have a transplant. She was then diagnosed with cancer, which, despite treatment, was later pronounced as terminal. Remarkably, Hannah recovered, and this book is Andrew’s account of what she and the family went through. It is reconstructed from emails he sent to family and Christian friends. These emails reported Hannah’s circumstances — sometimes giving cause for praise, sometimes supplication. As the father of a daughter who had liver disease and who, after years of...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

The deacon — biblical foundations for today’s ministry of mercy

This valuable book seeks to restore the diaconate to its biblical purpose: not the maintenance of church buildings, but the care of the needy. Van Dam presents a solid scriptural basis for his case. He reviews Old Testament law, the teaching of Christ, and other New Testament passages which relate to provision for the afflicted. He argues that it is the responsibility of every Christian and the whole church to love their neighbours, but deacons are there to step in when that isn’t happening. Van Dam presents the deacon’s work as an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to those in need, including not...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary

This to me is not a systematic theology as such, although it does present the various topics of the Reformers’ theology in a systematic way. It was written by ‘a group of theologians and historians who are committed to Reformation theology’ (p.63). This is its obvious strength, but could it also be a weakness? Informed readers must decide. It begins with a prologue (Michael Horton) and an introduction on ‘the crux of genuine reform’ (Michael Barrett), followed by essays on the late medieval understanding of grace and the authority of the church (Gerald Bray) and a summary of the Lutheran, Swiss, English, and Scottish Reformations...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Counsel to Gospel Ministers

John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) was one of the great ministers of the Scottish church during a dark period in her history. As a pastor, divinity professor and writer he did much for the spiritual good of his native land. And not only for Scotland — through his writings, his influence extended far beyond Scottish borders and continues to do so to this day. From 1751 until his death, Brown was minister of a congregation in Haddington belonging to one of the branches of the Secession Church. For the final 20 years of his life, he was also responsible for preparing young men for ministry....

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February 2018
News > People > Obituaries

Evangelist Dick Saunders 1930-2018

Dick Saunders, international ‘crusade’ and radio evangelist, Bible teacher and pastor, died 19 January, 2018 aged 87. Richard (‘Dick’) Stephen Saunders was born in Hailsham, East Sussex, on 16 July, 1930, the son of a Strict Baptist lay-pastor, Alfred Saunders. He grew up surrounded by the prayers and Godly example of his parents, and trusted Christ as his own Saviour at the age of 18. Soon after his conversion he married Betty (née Thomas). After the bitter disappointment of the loss of their second child, Dick made a fresh surrender of his life to Christ. Later they joined an Open Brethren Gospel Hall in Hailsham,...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Particular Redemption: The End and Design of the Death of Christ

This is a reprint of an eighteenth-century work. John Hurrion, a Nonconformist pastor, was one of eight ministers who participated in a series of weekly lectures in London, from November 1730 until April 1731. This book contains the text of Hurrion’s four contributions to that series. The first two were preached in November and December of 1730. However, he was then struck down with the illness from which he would die at the end of December. The third sermon he wrote down in readiness for the publication of the entire lecture series. For his fourth sermon, he could only leave notes. These were expanded for...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

History Today – Gunpowder, Treason & Plot

This is a new and enlarged edition of a book originally published in 2005 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. As Anderson points out, we British celebrate Guy Fawkes night, every 5 November, with little awareness of its background. The author addresses this ignorance by placing the plot in its historical, political and religious context. He explains the key differences between Catholics and Protestants and introduces the individuals involved in the plot. Detail is also given about King James I and his predecessors. Much research is behind the book. Various theories — the condition of the gunpowder and the identity of the...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

A Place to Stand – Primer Issue 4

This is the fourth in a biannual series of theological digests intended for church leaders. It addresses the doctrine of justification by faith, tracing its historical background and development to the time of the Reformation. It includes an adapted and slightly modernised version of the ninth chapter of John Owen’s 1677 book, Justification by faith. It explains the difference between Protestant and Roman Catholic views of justification, before addressing pertinent issues raised in the last 50 years. How this doctrine influences our conduct as believers is also explored, as well as the joy that should follow from understanding this teaching. This is a well written,...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Stump Kingdom: Isaiah 6-12

This book is an exposition of Isaiah 6-12. Arguably, these chapters are a microcosm of Isaiah as a whole, containing Isaiah’s commission, warnings of judgment against both Israel and Assyria, promises of the virgin birth and reign of Christ, and songs of praise for salvation. One benefit of isolating this section of text is that it helps focus on the flow of biblical thought and recurring themes across these chapters. The title refers to the picture of the remnant of God’s people as the ‘stump’ in chapter 6, and again to the prophecy of a ‘shoot’ from the stump of Jesse in chapter 11. Davis...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

How To Live as a Christian

This short book is a collection of 36 articles, originally appearing at the end of the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. They are written by 28 authors and have been newly edited and enlarged by Joel Beeke, himself one of the contributors. The result is a useful manual of practical instruction on how to live the Christian life. Each chapter covers an aspect of Christian living. They are short (generally 2-3 pages) but comprehensive, clear and practical. They cover everything from foundational doctrines, like justification and union with Christ, to practical issues, such as how to pray and read the Bible, dealing with pride, coping...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Stand — putting on the full armour of God

Like most books by this author, we have here a readable and concise description of the armour available to the everyday believer in his daily combat with the enemy of our souls. From the start, we see Wiersbe’s characteristically alliterated headings make the meaning and significance of each piece of armour both memorable and practical. We are reminded of the importance of the Christian’s armour. Every true believer in Christ is engaged in the same warfare that Jesus was. The big difference, however, is that we fight from his victory not for victory. Christ has overcome and we fight in the light of his triumph....

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Learning to Love the Psalms

Given the variety of good commentaries available on the Psalter, any new addition must surely justify its existence, to avoid ‘too much of a good thing’. That was my initial reaction on receiving this title, as I mentally surveyed my already substantial collection of such commentaries. However, Godfrey’s work merits a prominent place among them. He adopts an unusual approach that makes his contribution worthwhile. Most commentaries on the Psalms have introductory pages covering topics like authorship, date and structure, before addressing individual psalms in turn. Godfrey does the first, providing as helpful and accessible an introduction as I have seen to the grammatical structures...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

Horsing Around: Book 5 (52 Spurgeon stories for children)

During the last few years, I have read the first three books in this series with my two older children (now aged 11 and 8). They were excited to hear of another book in the series and keen for us to start reading it: a clear endorsement before I even began my review! Each of the 52 stories is headed by a Bible text, which the story then illustrates in some way. The text’s message is reinforced as the story is brought to a conclusion. The stories are all short, occupying just two pages and taking only a couple of minutes to read straight through....

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

All you need to know about the Bible – Book 5

This informative book is a joy to read and of great importance in restoring the confidence of the ordinary Christian in the Word of God. It is one of a set of six short books with the same title, All you need to know about the Bible. I imagine this is to capture a wider readership, including those put off by large tomes. If that is the aim, it is met handsomely. It is a minor downside that the text has numerous references to the other books in the series. What does this book cover? It faces the critics of biblical inerrancy head-on, including those...

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February 2018
Articles > Youth Features

Salvator Mundi

On 16 November 2017, the world held its breath and then celebrated, as it always does, that so much money could be paid for a single painting. The painting was Salvator Mundi — ‘The Saviour of the World’ — attributed to the great renaissance master, Leonardo da Vinci. I say attributed, because there is no definite proof that Leonardo painted this picture, and the experts are still divided. Wrong reasons But, all the same, it seemed the whole world held its breath that day and wondered how much it would be sold for; and, as usual, held its breath for the wrong reasons and celebrated...

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February 2018
Articles > World Mission

Door-to-door evangelism

I am an evangelist working with Outreach UK and also in an itinerant capacity. My passion and desire is to train and equip Christians in one-to-one evangelism, particularly door-to-door outreach. Many churches and Christians shy away from door-to-door. However, I believe this method is both biblical (Mark 16:15; Acts 5:42, and possibly Acts 20:20) and an effective means of sharing the gospel with unbelievers. In my opinion, the church has surrendered the doorsteps to the cults — the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and others — who are continuingly active on the doors, peddling a false gospel, leading people into error and false assurance. Christians have the...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

The Trinity and the covenant of redemption

Dr Fesko is a professor at Westminster Seminary in California. This Mentor book is the first of a proposed series of three, aimed at retrieving the classic Reformed doctrine of covenants. This project should meet enthusiastic approval, following current debates concerning covenant theology. Traditional theology has come under flak from Barthian-influenced neo-orthodoxy and pseudo-evangelicalism. The book is an articulate expression of Fesko’s orthodox scholarship as a Reformed pastor and theologian. The author’s plain style and the clear type make it readable and fluent. Complex subjects are made accessible and those wanting to deepen their understanding of God’s covenant will be rewarded. The covenant of redemption...

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February 2018
Articles > Personal view

PERSONAL VIEW: Was Eden a Garden Temple? (2)

The fate of the earthly creation is bound up with the life of Adam. As long as Adam stands, the world stands; when Adam falls, the world falls. It’s therefore not incredible or fantastic to see Adam as the priestly mediator between God and his earthly creation. The world has its relationship with God in and through Adam. Consequently, when Adam disobeys, the whole world is defiled by human sin and human death. Sin ravages the earth (environmental exploitation, abuse of animals, wars, etc.) and the soil is desecrated by millions of dead human bodies. The world is transformed into one vast, stinking, planetary graveyard...

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February 2018
News > People > Obituaries

Rev. Dr Eifion Evans (1931-2017)

Born in Cross Hands, Eifion trained as a pharmacist before entering theological training for the Presbyterian Church ministry. He ministered in Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Belfast and Abergavenny before returning to pharmacy in West Wales while continuing his preaching ministry and the encouraging of smaller fellowships. Like many Christians, I first met Eifion Evans through his books. When he is come, on the 1859 revival in Wales was the first book I read as a new Christian. It had a lasting impact on me. Eifion’s gift of writing church history with clarity, warmth and challenge was a rare one and his books leave a helpful legacy for...

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February 2018
News > People > Obituaries

Rev. J. Glyn Owen (1919-2017)

Rev. Glyn Owen was my minister during the formative years of my life. He and his wife Prudence were also very supportive of my dad and me when my mum died of cancer. Arguably, the first Evangelical Movement of Wales (EMW) English youth camp was started when Mr Owen sent a group of us young people to the Welsh camp at Glynllifon in 1957, and special English meetings were arranged. Glyn was born in Woodstock, Pembrokeshire. After leaving school, he became a local newspaper reporter and was converted when his Christian editor sent him to report on an evangelistic mission. He trained for the Welsh...

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February 2018
News > People > Obituaries

Bobi Jones (1929-2017)

Scripture records the Lord Jesus as saying: ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children’ (Matthew 11:25). Bobi Jones, no doubt, was the exception to the rule, as he was a man of exceptional intellect and creative ability, but he was also a beloved child of God. Robert Maynard Jones was born on 20 May 1929 to English-speaking parents in Cardiff and learned to speak Welsh as a teenager at Cathays High School. He went on to gain a first-class honours degree in Welsh at what is...

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February 2018
News > Induction

Induction – New pastor for Jubilee

On Sunday 15 October 2017, the induction took place of Joe Bannister to the pastorate at Jubilee Baptist Church, Occold, in Suffolk. More than 200 people gathered in Occold village hall, where space was at a premium and some had no choice but to stand. It was a gorgeously warm autumnal day, so the patio doors could be opened, allowing worshippers outside the building to feel included as well. The service was chaired by David Steere, who has been a great help as moderator to first Grove Evangelical Church and then Jubilee Baptist Church (JBC) in the village over many years. David also conducted the...

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February 2018
News > Conferences

Conference – FIEC leaders’ conference

More than 800 people gathered for the annual leaders’ conference, organised by the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) in November 2017. For the first time, the conference was held at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay and included teaching ministry in the main plenary sessions from Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor at Anacostia River Church in Washington DC. Adrian Reynolds, FIEC training director, and Paul Rees, pastor of Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh, preached in the evening meetings. An historical lecture from Michael Reeves, president at Union School of Theology, and a series of seminars for church leaders completed the programme. The main theme was ‘Transforming...

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February 2018
News > Conferences

Conference – Reformation and revival

I always seem to leave conferences sensing my own need for revival and a renewed desire for God to come in power upon the whole church. No conference has produced such a sense of this as the 2017 Reformation and Revival Conference, in Swanwick, Derbyshire. The speakers were Andrew Davies and Jeremy Walker, whose ministries were as excellent as they were relevant, leading us to earnest prayer for revival. With 2017 being the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the main theme of the conference decided itself! However, our attention was soon turned to the need for Reformation today. Mr Davies called us to sober assessment...

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Conference – Westminster Conference 2017
February 2018
News > Conferences

Conference – Westminster Conference 2017

Around 100 people from various churches and backgrounds attended the Westminster Conference in 2017. The theme was ‘God with us and for us’, and we were treated to six excellent papers, with historical richness and theological depth. The first paper of the two-day conference (5-6 December) began with Stephen Clark speaking on ‘The Holy Spirit and the human heart’. He stressed that we should not separate the Holy Spirit from the Word of God; the Spirit works with the Word. These themes were considered for the regeneration of the sinner, sanctification of the saint, assurance and praise, prayer and guidance. The session on ‘The felt...

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February 2018
News > Ethics

Ethics – Pro-life awareness

Last year, sadly, marked the 50th year since the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act. On Friday 3 November, newly established centre Pregnancy Advice Sheffield (PAS) hosted an evening to increase pro-life awareness among Christians. PAS seeks to provide quality information and professional advice to pregnant women, to demonstrate the importance of choosing life. Our three aims are to save the lives of babies; minimise regret among women who may have had or want to have an abortion; and to do this compassionately, presenting a Christian worldview for life. The evening began by showing visitors the centre, allowing them to see the developing work and resources the...

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Event – Christian Heritage Centre, Rowley Regis
February 2018
News > Events

Event – Christian Heritage Centre, Rowley Regis

The good hand of God continues to bless the work of the Christian Heritage Centre, in Rowley Regis, Birmingham. 2017 ended with a well attended afternoon of lectures, commemorating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The two splendid lectures were given by Pastor Jonathan Stobbs of Penzance. The centre was presented with a three-dimensional model made to scale and depicting the local area as it was in 1880. This superbly finished piece of work, created by local man Mr Melvin Jackson, took approximately five years to research and complete. This same friend...

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February 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Charity merger

Charities Echoes of Service (EoS), based in Bath, and Interlink, in Glasgow, have joined forces and rebranded as a new mission charity called Echoes International. With about 140 years of supporting missionaries around the world, these two charities are merging to form a brand-new charity. The aim of Echoes International is to encourage Christians to get involved in mission and share the transformative power of God’s Word and work. EoS started in England in 1872 as the Missionary Echo, as a means of reporting on front-line Brethren mission across the world. Its Scottish equivalent Interlink served Brethren Assemblies in Scotland, from 1881 onwards, through its...

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February 2018
News > Society

Society – What’s age got to do with it?

Last year, 1 October was designated as ‘The International Day of Older Persons’ by the United Nations, with the subtitle, ‘Stepping into the future: tapping the talents, contributions and participation of older persons in society’. It’s a title you’ll rarely see mirrored in a Christian publication. It’s an odd thing when secular organisations point out the value of older people, yet Bible-believing Christians often fail to see it. Church attitudes At a Christian festival earlier in 2017, my colleagues and I surveyed visitors about their churches’ engagement with their older members. In small to medium churches seniors were generally fully engaged, having a role in...

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February 2018
News > Society

Society – Being good neighbours or giving social care?

Ethnic minorities are better at ‘social care’ and we should learn from them, said Jackie Doyle-Price, the Health Minister at the Conservative Party Conference recently (The Times, 4-10-17). She was echoed by Dr Phillip Lee, a GP who is also a justice minister. He told Age UK that British society has become ‘atomised’ and selfish, and ‘quite sick’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/05/britain-has-become-sick-society-has-outsourced-duties-old-tory). Ethnic communities They both believe that families and neighbours should do more to help their elderly and that ethnic communities are an example of how it should be done. A report by Age UK says that depression is a huge problem amongst the over 55s, because...

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February 2018
News > Society

Society – Britons praying

Prayer in the UK is more common than many people might believe, research from charity Tearfund claims. In research published in January 2018, the organisation found approximately 50 per cent of Britons prayed, and, even among those claiming not to be religious, 20 per cent have admitted to praying. The research, carried out by ComRes among 2,069 UK adults, found 55 per cent have prayed in a crisis. Some 39 per cent said they prayed because they believed in God, while 32 per cent said they believed prayer made a difference. Family was the topmost reason for prayer, at 71 per cent; followed by thanking...

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February 2018
News > Politics

Politics – Abortion clinics rated

Abortion clinics are to be forced to display official ratings from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), after the Department for Health (DoH) toughened up its inspection scheme. According to the BBC, under plans revealed by health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, the DoH is ‘modernising our tough, Ofsted-style inspection scheme’ to make sure patient safety is put first. As part of these proposals, all healthcare organisations in England offering regulated care are now going to be rated by the commission, and marks will have to be available. The CQC already inspects NHS and independent hospitals, general practices and adult social care services, and then...

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February 2018
News > Politics

Politics – Seven vital freedoms

Charity and advocacy organisation Barnabas Fund has launched a campaign to reclaim the ‘heritage of freedom of religion in the UK’ and seek a new Act of Parliament. The campaign aims to guarantee seven ‘fundamental’ aspects of freedom of religion. In a statement, Barnabas said these had developed in the UK over the last five centuries but are now under threat. Building on the fundamental freedoms laid out in Magna Carta, the organisation claims the original affirmation that ‘the English Church shall be free’ needs to be reinstated. The freedoms springing from this are freedom: to read the Bible in public (achieved 1537); to interpret...

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February 2018
News > Education

Education – UK lacks good RE

More than 25 per cent of Britain’s state secondary schools have struggled to meet their legal obligation to teach pupils about major religions. This was among the results of the latest analysis of the government’s school workforce census. All state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, are legally required by the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act to provide religious education (RE) as part of a balanced curriculum. However, the latest analysis has prompted the Religious Education Council and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) to create a new ‘State of the nation’ report. This report found 25 per cent of all schools...

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February 2018
News > Ethics

Ethics – Gender plans divisive

Then Equalities Minister Justine Greening admitted the government’s plans to make it easier to change sex are ‘complex’ and ‘divisive’. Although the minister has been championing the change to the law to allow people to legally change sex by self-declaration, without needing medical approval or a waiting period, the plans are being strongly opposed. Arguments against the plans are focused on concerns for the privacy and safety of women and girls. In July 2017, Ms Greening commented the government would consult in the autumn on controversial changes to the Gender Recognition Act. But, according to reports in the Sunday Times, the consultation was delayed while...

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February 2018
News > Ethics

Ethics – Down’s abortions criticised

BBC Radio 2 listeners have objected to abortion for Down’s syndrome, following a phone-in debate on the Jeremy Vine show. Last year, presenter Mr Vine examined the recent push by the government and NHS for more accurate prenatal testing to identify Down’s syndrome. Around 92 per cent of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in England and Wales are aborted at present. This is set to rise, should the government’s screening plans take shape. Blogger Claire Farrington, whose son, Theo, has Down’s syndrome, joined Mr Vine on the show and claimed the new tests were not ‘progress’ at all. Following this, many listeners phoned in, including...

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February 2018
News > Ethics

Ethics – Lord Shinkwin pushed out

Lord Shinkwin has resigned as a Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) after political pressure from humanist groups. Lord Shinkwin had been campaigning to get the commission to support a bill he is proposing in the House of Lords, seeking to ban abortion on the grounds of disability, including fatal foetal abnormality. He had also been openly lobbying to persuade the EHRC to support his bill. However, atheist-leaning Humanists UK helped lodge a formal complaint against him over his behaviour, prompting the EHRC to start a formal investigation. Lord Shinkwin was appointed an EHRC Commissioner back in April, which triggered a concerted...

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February 2018
News > International

International: Asia – Rohingya diphtheria risk

Rohingya refugee camps are facing the possibility of a severe outbreak of diphtheria, medical staff at disaster relief organisation Samaritan’s Purse have warned. The life-threatening infection can cause difficulty with breathing and is most often airborne. Up to 10 per cent of people who are infected are likely to lose their life, and infection rates in the Bangladesh camps are rising fast. Last November, the World Health Organisation stated five cases of diphtheria a day were being reported. But, over December, this rocketed to more than 100 on certain days. According to Samaritan’s Purse, of the suspected cases, 73 per cent of victims are under...

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February 2018
News > International

International: Nigeria – Boko Haram resurgent

Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram has declared it is still thriving, despite public comment from the Nigerian government that it had defeated the jihadist organisation. In a video broadcast, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed a series of attacks in northeast Nigeria during the festive season were the result of the group’s activities. He said: ‘We are in good health and nothing has happened to us’. According to reports in the Daily Mail, the leader, who was speaking in the Hausa language, said the Nigerian troops, police and ‘those creating mischief against us cannot do anything against us’. He then claimed his group had carried...

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February 2018
News > Persecution

Persecution UK – Street preacher cleared

UK pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi, has been cleared without trial, after he was accused of committing an Islamophobic hate crime. Mr Ilesanmi, aged 62, had been charged concerning a sermon that he preached on 24 June 2017. A Muslim and two political activists had pressed charges after Mr Ilesanmi criticised the Quran. Although he was charged by the police with an ‘Islamophobic’ hate crime, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), having considered written representations from Christian Legal Centre’s allied solicitor Michael Phillips, decided to discontinue the charge prior to trial. The situation began in 2017, when Pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, UK,...

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February 2018
News > Persecution

Persecution UK – Tim Farron

Tim Farron MP, the former Liberal Democrat leader, says he was foolish to say homosexual sex is not a sin. Farron said he tried to ‘push away’ the controversy over his views during the last general election, by ‘giving an answer that, frankly, was not right’. In an interview with Premier Christian Radio, he criticised current society, which is ‘tolerant of everything, apart from the things that we don’t like’. During the election campaign, Farron faced repeated questioning over his beliefs on homosexual sex. After side-stepping the subject, in April last year he eventually told the BBC that it was not sinful. After the election...

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February 2018
News > Persecution

Persecution UK – Christian printer accused

A Christian printer has been accused of a hate crime for politely turning down the opportunity to promote a cause he believed could negatively impact Christians. According to the Christian Institute, British printer Nigel Williams said he could not fulfil a request to produce promotional materials for ‘SEE Change Happen’. He declined the order from male-to-female transsexual Joanne Lockwood, saying he would be happy to serve and print for Ms Lockwood personally, but not for ‘SEE Change Happen’. In an email exchange, Mr Williams wrote: ‘It is foundational to Christianity that every person must be respected, valued and loved because they are made in the...

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February 2018
News

LETTER FROM AMERICA: New alliances

Alabama, a state known to be a stronghold of conservatism and evangelicalism, has voted in Doug Jones, a member of the Democratic party, to fill the empty chair for Alabama in the United States Senate. For the first time in 25 years, Alabama will have a Democrat senator. It is one of the few times a senate seat has ‘flipped parties’ during a special election. This outcome is the more surprising when considering the role of Alabama’s ‘evangelical’ voters. Background On 8 February 2017, Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, took up President Donald Trump’s nomination as Attorney General, leaving his seat for Alabama...

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February 2018
Articles > Guest column

Benjamin Morgan Palmer

In writing about Christians and slavery (Guest column, ET January 2018), I suggested that men and women from an earlier era were, like us, people of their time. Therefore, cultural and social factors affected their view of many things, including slavery. So, we should not judge them by 21st century standards. Some were eminently godly Christians, even though they defended slavery. We can understand why some today find that hard to accept, since slavery is wrong and the slave trade wicked in the extreme. In an attempt to explain this apparent contradiction, I offer this brief sketch of one such man, Benjamin Morgan Palmer. Pastor...

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February 2018
Articles > Comment

Intolerance in science

Well known evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins once stated: ‘One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun’ (Natural History, November 2005). Following the evidence He is quite mistaken. Thousands of real scientists around the world either reject evolution or have serious questions about it. However, those who dare to express this publicly often face ridicule or verbal abuse, and in some cases the loss of jobs and careers. There is a high degree of intolerance...

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February 2018
Articles > Historical > Uncategorised

Reformation woman: Anna Reinhard

Katharina Luther looms large in any discussion about Protestant women during the Reformation. She earned her acclaim through her work — and her high-profile, high-maintenance husband. But there were other women who also laboured for the newly revived church. They, too, have much to teach us. The first woman to become a Reformer’s wife was Anna Reinhard (c.1484–1538). Like Calvin’s wife, Idelette, Anna was a young widow when her future husband arrived in town as the new priest. We have no record of her birthdate, but many believe it was in 1484. We know little about her youth, except that she was beautiful and that...

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February 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

‘I shall not die, but live and tell’ — an author’s testimony

In May 2017, I sent the completed manuscript of my recent book, Prayers of the Bible, to my publisher. In June, I was rushed to the hospital, after coming down with an extreme case of altitude sickness at a Christian conference in Colorado. Relentlessly dizzy and nauseated, I threw up for 21 days in a row, defied all treatment, and showed no improvements. The doctors warned my wife that I might never recover. Food and fluid were pumped into me intravenously; my death was awaited with baited breath, and my life was prayed for by many of God’s people. One day, early in this ordeal, I...

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February 2018
Articles > Biblical/theological

The ministry of angels

In one of his poems, John Milton said: ‘Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth, unseen both when they wake and when they sleep’. The teaching about angels is one of the intriguing things of biblical faith. It is mysterious. Yet it is clear from the Bible that there are a finite number of created spirits, evil (fallen) and elect (holy). It seems they are not so limited in movement as human beings. There is ‘behind-the-scenes’ activity of both unfallen angels and demons, including Satan their chief (Ephesians 6:12). References to them are found all over the Bible. Sometimes they take visible form; for example,...

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February 2018
Articles > Historical

Pierre Viret (1511-1571) — another forgotten Reformer (3)

With Calvin now back in Geneva, Viret sought to return to Lausanne, where he was greatly needed. However, Calvin badly needed him still in Geneva. Calvin wrote to Farel: ‘Should Viret be taken away from me, I shall be utterly ruined, and this church will be past recovery. On this account, it is only reasonable that you and others pardon me if I leave no stone unturned to prevent his being carried off from me. In the meantime, we must look for supply to the church of Lausanne, according as shall be appointed by the godly brethren, and by your own advice. Only let Viret...

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February 2018
Articles > Ecclesiological & Pastoral

Two debatable traditions

We all observe certain traditions, some good and others open to question. I wish to address two of these traditions, observed by some, but not by others. Pronouns used in relation to God I have been asked why it is that so many evangelicals no longer begin pronouns referring to God, the Lord Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit with a capital (upper case) letter (e.g. ‘You’, ‘His’, ‘Thee’, ‘Thou’), especially as I am guilty of the same practice. My response is that the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures carry no such distinctions, neither does, for example, the Authorised Version of the Bible. The practice of...

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February 2018
Articles > Scientific (including creation)

Dragonflies

Dragonflies and damselflies are some of the most impressive fliers in the insect world and, with four wings individually controlled, fly rather like helicopters. Dragonflies are agile, fast fliers, and can reach speeds of 10-15 metres per second, or 25-35 mph. Damselflies, though also very agile, have a different mode of flying and will more often move from one hovering motion to another, somewhat like humming birds. Life cycle Dragonflies and damselflies (both from the insect order, Odonata) have a life span of more than a year. There are three stages in the life cycle. They begin their lives as eggs, which hatch in water...

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February 2018
Articles > Historical

Isaac Levinsohn — the story of a Russian/Polish Jew’s search for forgiveness

Isaac Levinsohn was born in the town of Kovno in Russia (now Kaunas, Lithuania) in 1855. His parents were devout Jews, regulars at the synagogue and fasting two days a week. At the age of five, Isaac’s father taught him Hebrew, and to pray three times each day. Soon he was studying the Talmud, Hebrew Scriptures and other Jewish writings and was being prepared to become a rabbi. He was bewildered, though, that he was being steered away from reading the Bible, which he loved and was reading. Burden At the age of 13, he was told that now he was considered a man and...

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February 2018
News > Events > Mission > Society

Amy Carmichael memorial

On 16 December 1867, missionary Amy Carmichael was born in Millisle in Northern Ireland. Some 150 years later a beautiful sculpture of her as a 10-year-old girl was unveiled outside Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor. The church is home to the annual Worldwide Missionary Convention. The sculpture was the idea of Derek Bingham, first thought of ten years ago. It was created by Christian artist and sculptor Ross Wilson and portrays a determined girl, holding a notebook — her diary of grace, containing God’s plans for her life — looking out to the world. Embossed on her hat are starry flowers, picturing those who...

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February 2018
Obituaries

R. C. Sproul (1939-2017)

The holiness of God, by Robert Charles Sproul, is perhaps one of the best known books written by 20th century Christians and is found on the bookshelves in many Christian homes. This pastor, who died on 14 December 2017, was also a passionate proponent of Reformation theology and supporter of the Reformed Protestant faith. Mr Sproul, who was born on 13 February 1939, was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was co-pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida, and first president of Reformation Bible College. He was also on the council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals....

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February 2018
Mission

Return to Haiti

After an absence of three years, an opportunity for me to minister in Haiti again opened up, in November 2017 and I spent about two weeks there. As I had circulated my schedule beforehand, many friends prayed for this mission. The Lord answered by granting many occasions to preach his grace in Christ and by giving attentive hearts. Many of the old contacts had cooled off, because of the passing of time. In some cases, the doors were not open any more, because the gospel message is an offence. For others, the sheer busyness of life makes communications difficult to establish. It is not easy...

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February 2018
Reviews > Book

A Voice to Be Heard: Christian Entrepreneurs Living Out Their Faith

There are Christian books on many themes, but how many of us have read about today’s Christian entrepreneurs? Richard Higginson is a theological educator at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and Kina Robertshaw is a Zambian entrepreneur who came to Ridley Hall to study theology. She wanted to research Christian entrepreneurs and collaborated with Richard Higginson to produce the book, interviewing 50 entrepreneurs in the process. The book is aimed at entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs, but is a fascinating read for all. The authors define an entrepreneur as someone who ‘pursues opportunities to commercialise (i.e. make a profit from) innovation … providing goods and services in a...

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February 2018
News > People > Obituaries

Dr Simon Kistemaker (1930-2017)

Dr Simon J. Kistemaker was born on 21 October 1930 and passed away on 23 September 2017. According to a statement from the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in the US, Dr Kistemaker’s teaching ministry at RTS began in 1971. After he left RTS Jackson in 1996, he and his wife Jean came to RTS Orlando, and he taught on the Orlando campus until 2011. Known affectionately as ‘Dr K’, his 52 years of teaching, and scholarly and publishing achievements, were widely accessible. His staff and faculty colleagues will remember him for his constant cheerfulness, prayerfulness, wisdom, and kindness. The statement recalled how he walked daily...

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