The Trumpet Herald
Giving the trumpet a certain sound
The Threat of Religious Fundamentalism
The Episcopal News Service (ENS) reported recently on comments by a Roman Catholic Cardinal:
"Cardinal Francis Arinze, an African often mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II, said at a meeting in Canada that the rise of religious fundamentalism around the world is making interfaith dialogue more difficult -but also more important than ever.
"When asked if it were possible to dialogue with Muslims who hate or persecute Christians, Arinze said that 'it makes religious dialogue much more difficult but also much more important. Fundamentalists make problems for their own religion,' he said. As president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the cardinal has promoted dialogue with a wide variety of religions and helped arrange the pope's visit earlier this year to a mosque in Damascus—the first time in history for such a visit.
"While he rejects the belief that 'all religions are equal,’ he does not think that Catholics should impose their religion on other cultures, preferring instead to believe that the transforming power of Christ can work through other religions.
"'The church is not in favor of the imposition of the culture of one people on other peoples, in past decades by colonialism and today by powerful mass media which, by TV alone, quietly but effectively spread a whole philosophy of life that homogenizes culture,' he said. 'The church is challenging such negative cultural elements as superstition, rugged individualism, materialism, hedonism, permissiveness and utilitarianism.'" (ENS on Dec. 7, 2001, http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ens/2001-347.htmlNS).
It is very interesting to note that "rugged individualism" is seen as a "negative cultural element" classed with superstition, materialism, and permissiveness.
While the current focus is on Islamic fundamentalism, students of Bible prophecy might see a hint of future directions beginning to materialize. The Protestant Reformation was founded on the idea of "the priesthood of all believers" and the primacy of the Bible over the traditions of the established church. Will such ideas become indiscriminately anathamatized by a society fearful of "fundamentalism" and "rugged individualism"?
Jesus warned His disciples:
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also" (John 15:19, 20).
Later inspiration predicted:
"All who in that evil day would fearlessly serve God according to the dictates of conscience, will need courage, firmness, and a knowledge of God and His Word, for those who are true to God will be persecuted, their motives will be impugned, their best efforts misinterpreted, and their names cast out as evil" (Acts of the Apostles, pp. 431, 432).
Creation Is "Groaning"
A recent e-mail newsletter reports on another report issued by the 30-member (including the US, western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand) Organization for Environmental Cooperation and Development (OECD). Among the reports of environmental progress were also several major concerns as trends were projected to the year 2020. One of these was the area of human health:
"** Human Health: ‘The loss of health due to environmental degradation is substantial’ in OECD countries. (pg. 253) The ‘most urgent issues’ are ‘air pollution and exposure to chemicals,’ the OECD says. The ‘greatest cause for concern’ is the ‘threat of continuing widespread release of chemicals to the environment.’ (pg. 252) ‘This is not only a question of the amount of chemicals that end up in the environment, but more a question of their characteristics and effects. Unfortunately, the latter are often unknown, as the recent discovery of the endocrine disrupting effects of certain pesticide ingredients has shown,’ the OECD says. (pg. 252)
"The OECD estimates that environmental degradation causes somewhere between 2% and 6% of all human disease in OECD countries and 8% to 13% in non-OECD countries. (pg. 250) In OECD countries this presently translates into health-care costs between $50 billion and $130 billion per year, the OECD says. (pg. 252)" (Rachel’s Environment & Health News #738, November 22, 2001).
The Bible in one place notes:
"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:21, 22).
A later source suggests that pollution also involves the "powers of darkness" (which undoubtedly often work through human greed):
"Already sprinklings from the vials of God's wrath have been let fall upon land and sea, affecting the elements of the air. The causes of these unusual conditions are being searched for, but in vain.
"God has not restrained the powers of darkness from carrying forward their deadly work of vitiating the air, one of the sources of life and nutrition, with a deadly miasma. Not only is vegetable life affected, but man suffers from pestilences. Cholera and unexplainable diseases have broken out. . . .
"These things are the result of drops from the vials of God's wrath being sprinkled on the earth, and are but faint representations of what will be in the near future --Ms 24, 1891" (Manuscript Releases, v. 3, p. 304).
The Harry Potter movie is breaking box office records and the series of books (four titles now of a projected 7) are top sellers (the first title is Amazon sales rank #26 on 12/14/01). The book titles are: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
There was a news report (BBC news online, Nov. 29, 2001) that 60 private Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) schools in Australia have banned the books from their classrooms. In a discussion of the news article on the Internet forum "Club Adventist," one writer who claims to be a local elder in a U.S. SDA church (and who apparently likes to get other forum participants stirred up) wrote:
"This is a case where sincere and well meaning people are an embarrassment to the church. While it may be okay to not have the books in the church school library making such a policy public makes us look like a bunch of kooks from the Dark ages when they burned witches etc.
"These are children's stories for goodness sakes no body takes them serious today; besides the publicity will only draw more attention to them and make more people read them. So maybe we should lighten up a bit and not be so paranoid about the Devil or the Pope or Harry Potter. Sheesh" (see the following Internet link: http://www.clubadventist.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=000606).
There was lots of opposition on the mentioned forum to the church elder’s comment.
Condemning ancient King Manasseh, the Bible chronologer wrote:
"And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger" (2 Chron. 33:6).
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13).
The following warning was given when spiritualism was young in the United States:
"Some, I was shown, gratify their curiosity, and tamper with the Devil. They have no real faith in Spiritualism, and would start back with horror at the idea of being a medium. Yet they venture, and place themselves in a position where Satan can exercise his power upon them. They do not mean to enter deep into this work, but such know not what they are doing. They are venturing on the Devil's ground, and are tempting him to control them" (Review and Herald, Feb. 18, 1862).