Month: January 2017

Nearly 100,000 people gave their lives as a witness to the faith. The majority of the deaths (60,000) were due to tribal violence in Africa. Most of the rest can be attributed to the activities of Islamic terror groups like ISIS.

A new study has found that Christians are the most persecuted people on earth today. A research conducted by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity shows that every six minutes a Christian loses their life because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Read more at World Religion News: “A Christian Was Killed for Their Faith Every Six Minutes”.

This is so true:

It seems to me that for a large proportion of people, particularly people on the political Left, pseudoscience has become a secular religion, complete with creation myth, demons and ultimate salvation.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of pseudoscience on the political Right, too. But often that is motivated by adherence to standard religious philosophy, the idea that the Bible is the world of God and that anything that contradicts it cannot be allowed to be true. On the Left, where many abjure religion, quackery has become the new religion.

Read it all at: the skeptical OB.

As an inauguration approaches in 21st century America, the church calendar takes us back to another inauguration in 1st century Palestine. Jesus began his public ministry by being plunged under the running waters of the Jordan river.

(“The Baptism of Jesus”, by Antoine Coypel, 1661 – 1722)

It is a deep mystery why the Sinless One would submit to being baptized by his cousin John. John’s baptism was one of repentance. It was a purification rite to ceremonially cleanse people of sin. Baptism was not something a perfect God-man would require.

John said as much when Jesus approached: “I should be baptized by you.” Jesus’ answer was short and cryptic: “Let it be so, to fulfill all righteousness.”

One Rev John Watson, a 19th century Scottish Presbyterian, described Jesus’ motives this way:

What Jesus desired was to forget His perfect purity and Divine dignity, and to plunge into the very depths of ordinary sinning, sorrowful human life. In His pity and sympathy, Jesus desired to lift the burden, which would be on His own shoulders, but could be no part of Himself. According to the excusable idea of the Baptist, his Lord should have gathered His white garments around Him with fastidious care and stood alone on the banks, while at His feet the waters were stained with the sins of poor struggling humanity. But according to the heart of Jesus He must descend into the midst of the river so that in the end what neither the water of the Jordan nor any other could do would be accomplished by His lifelong Passion and His death. This baptism was a sacrament of the messianic love–a pledge of utter devotion to His fellow men, a symbol of identification with Humanity. (The Life of the Master. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1901).

Today, we celebrate this great mystery. Jesus didn’t need baptism, but he chose to undergo it as a way to identify with us, and to inaugurate his ministry.