The immigrant converts in Finland

IMG_0458I have been blogging quite a bit about the Muslim immigrants in Europe who are converting to Christianity. (See here and here and here.) It’s happening also in Finland, and this time I got to see this phenomenon first hand. Not only that, I was able to interact with some of these new Christians and worship with them.

The Finnish Lutheran Mission has been sending missionaries to Afghanistan for decades. In 1980, two of them were killed. In 2014, two more were killed.

Now Afghan refugees are making their way to Finland. And many of them are converting to Christianity, with stories similar to the Iranians in Denmark and the Iraqis in Germany: They have dreamed of Jesus, had visions directing them to a Bible-believing church or mission, read Bibles in the course of their journeys, reacted against the brutal religion they were fleeing to find a God of grace, etc., etc.

Conservative Christians in Europe are evangelizing, catechizing, and baptizing them.  Though some officials and others suspect these refugees of feigning conversion in an effort to gain permanent resident status—which seldom even works in the secularist bureaucracies—these new Christians are going to church and revitalizing what were once moribund and ill-attended congregations, reminding long-time members of the power of the Gospel of Christ.

IMG_0459Finnish Lutheran Mission, one of the “mission” organizations where conservative Christianity still flourishes, operates a Bible College in Ryttylä. The institution offers programs that teach the Bible, Apologetics, Theology, and other subjects. Young Christians often study here for several months before heading out to the university. The institution also offers camp-like experiences for children and families, as well as other activities for adults, such as the Apologetics Seminar at which I was speaking.

After the conference, my wife and I continued to stay at the college as a base of operations for the other things I was doing.

Also staying with us were 26 young Afghan men who were here to study the Bible, as well as the Finnish language. [Read more…]

We mustn’t call breastfeeding “natural”

Henri_Lebasque_-_Mother_and_ChildAn article in the medical journal Pediatrics says that it is “unethical” to describe breastfeeding as “natural.”

“Coupling nature with motherhood,” says the study, “can inadvertently support biologically deterministic arguments about the roles of men and women in the family (for example, that women should be the primary caretaker.”

We shouldn’t couple nature with motherhood? The old politically-correct order insisted on a distinction between “sex,” which was about nature (biological organs, reproduction, the body), and “gender,” which was about culture (gender roles, cultural norms).

Then “gender” went from being a “social construction” to an individual construction. Then “sex” became an individual construction. Nature became swallowed up completely.

In this mindset, nature ceases to exist. And yet I suspect many people who buy into this shop for “natural food” and fret about the way human beings are destroying nature with pollution, development, and global warming. And yet surely they are the ones who are destroying nature in their repudiation of the body, as in transgenderism, and their unwillingness to acknowledge the natural function of sex and its connection to reproduction and thus to family structures.

But breastfeeding is, indeed, the natural way a mother nourishes her baby. She shares this power with all mammals. She and her baby and the father are all part of nature, even as they also are part of a supernature, and denying that fact is a rejection of reality itself.

[Read more…]

Trump fires FBI Director Comey

James_ComeyPresident Trump fired James B. Comey, the director of the FBI.

The reason given was his off-again, on-again investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal, which Democrats blame, in part, for their presidential defeat.  But why would Trump make an issue of that, long after his election?

Democrats are claiming that the real reason is Comey’s investigation into the Russian involvement in the election and the connection between the Trump administration and Vladimir Putin.  (See this and this.)  And, indeed, if President Trump thinks that Comey had anything to do with Trump Tower being bugged, that could be a factor.

But I suspect it had more to do with Comey’s poor performance at his recent congressional testimony, in which he made inaccurate statements about Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s e-mails that he had to take back.  The White House released a memo from the Justice Department saying that the FBI’s reputation has been hurt by Comey and that a new start would be helpful.  President Trump makes decisions spontaneously, and he doesn’t like his administration to look bad.

But much of the media is playing this like Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” when he fired the people investigating his misdeeds.  You would think that the Democrats would cheer the firing of Comey.  But they have another agenda now. [Read more…]

Religious liberty in the military


U.S. Army Capt. John Barkemeyer, a chaplain, conducts mass for Soldiers on a remote contingency operating base in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy) (Released)The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod may yet again be headed to the Supreme Court, at least to the extent of having filed an amicus brief in the case of a female Marine corporal who was given a bad-conduct discharge for refusing to take down a Bible verse in her workplace.  (“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” [Isaiah 54:17])  It remains to be seen if the court will take her case.

But there are other religious liberty issues in the military.  Some relate to chaplains being ordered to compromise their faith.  Many relate to LBGT issues.

The Synod is weighing in on some of these issues in various channels.  The Lutheran Reporter has a story on the problem and the church’s efforts. [Read more…]

How Trump is reshaping the federal courts

usa-2018855_640Conservatives are happy about Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court.  But President Trump also has an unusually high number of vacancies throughout the federal court system.  And he is nominating conservative judges to fill them.

Reader DonS, who, I believe, is an attorney, drew our attention to this fact in his comment on a recent post.   He said, “I favored Trump over Clinton for one main reason — the courts. Today, Trump is unveiling his first big group of judicial nominees, and they are awesome! He is exceeding my expectations in this very important area.”

Details on those nominations after the jump.

This could be a significant and long-lasting legacy of Trump’s presidency. [Read more…]

Nullification by campaign statement

blindfolded-2025474_640President Trump’s revised travel ban is before the courts again.

Once more, the main argument against it seems to be that Trump showed an opposition to Muslim immigrants and visitors during the campaign.  Therefore, although president usually have authority in such matters, because of his campaign statements his executive order is invalid.

This makes no sense at all.  How can an action be illegal just because a candidate campaigned on it?   That would prevent politicians from fulfilling their campaign promises and would make representative democracy pretty much impossible.  The argument is that Trump’s campaign statements show that the order is biased against Muslims, but a law has to stand or fall on what it says in its own terms, not in the motivations of the person who proposed it.  My understanding is that this revised order specifically precludes discrimination against Muslims, as such.

Or have liberals been persuaded by conservative legal theorists and adopted an extreme version of “originalism,” whereby the lawmakers’ original intention determines the meaning of a law?  If so, we should expect liberals to stop invoking “the living constitution” and to start agreeing with conservatives on what the constitution means.

In the hearing before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, the judge pressed the ACLU attorney on his advocacy of nullification by campaign statement.  The attorney lurched towards an even more extreme version of relativism.  He said, in effect, that if Hillary Clinton had issued the travel restrictions, they could be constitutional.  But since Donald Trump ordered them, they are not constitutional. [Read more…]