Fr Stephen Smuts

Archive for March 30th, 2011

Is Hell Crowded or Empty?

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Writes Fr Robert Barron:

An Internet controversy is percolating around a soon-to-be-published book by well-known evangelical preacher Rob Bell. In “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,” Bell advocates the “universalist” position on salvation, which holds that everyone in the end is saved and that hell, accordingly, is empty. Many of his evangelical coreligionists are arguing that this doctrine runs counter to classical biblical Christianity and is designed to appeal to a postmodern audience for whom the only unforgivable sin is to be “exclusive.” This dustup over hell made the main page of the CNN website the other day and has prompted tens of thousands of responses. Obviously hell is still (forgive the pun) a burning question among both believers and nonbelievers.

There is nothing new about this controversy. It has raged on and off for almost the whole of Christian history…

Read on here.

Plus this video:

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 23:12

Seven Years of Drought in Israel

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Via Bible

The rainy season in Israel is over and the results are not good.  This marks the seventh consecutive year of drought.  From the Jerusalem Post:

This year, the North received much more water than the center and the south, reaching a bit more than 90 percent of Israel’s average rainfall, according to Schor, but he cautioned that this is not worthy of celebration.


To be 100% average, Schor explained, is not sufficient, particularly because this is the seventh consecutive year in which we are “taking more water than we get.”

Overall, including the South and Center, the country achieved an accumulation of only 70% of average, he said.

Meanwhile, despite heavy rains in the past few months that have brought water levels in the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] above the red line, Schor warned that “we are missing almost four meters of water” from the reservoir.

The full story is here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 22:09

Satanism through the Ages

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The term Satanism represents a broad range of religions, world views, and literature that all look favourably on Satan or similar rebellious figures.

The Telegraph (UK) reports on the worship of this fiend:

Satan first appeared in the Hebrew Bible as an angel who challenged the religious faith of humans. In the Book of Job he is called “the Satan” (“the accuser”) and acted as the prosecutor in God’s court.

A character named Satan was described as the cosmic enemy of the Lord and tempter of Jesus within many of the Gospels of early Christians. He is the bringer of Armageddon and Apocalypse as featured within the Book of Revelation.

Christians and Muslims have portrayed Satan as an evil competitor to humans and Jesus, characterised as a fallen angel or demon ruling the Underworld.

The Christian church’s tendency to label all those who did not agree with it as agents of evil led to the persecution of numerous non-Christian groups, leading to the Crusades and witch-hunts and the Inquisition. It would also eventually lead to the destruction of many indigenous cultures, such as the Mayan civilisation, in the name of Christ.

Famous satanists over the ages include Gilles de Rais, a 15th century French nobleman, was tried and executed for the murders of hundreds of children in quasi-Satanic rituals.

The late 17th century campaign against alleged satanism known as the Poison Affair under Louis XIV, involved accusations of widespread poisonings, infanticide and forgery committed by an alleged satanic social network.

Modern Satanist groups fall into two major trends: Theistic Satanism, which venerates Satan as a supernatural deity, and Atheistic Satanism, which regards Satan as symbolic of purely certain human traits.

The Church of Satan, established in San Francisco in 1966, preaches the Nine Satanic Statements, which include “Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence”, “Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek” and “Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification”.

In 2004, the Royal Navy approved its first ever Satanist, despite opposition from Christians.

There is now a growing movement of theistic Satanists, who believe in and revere Satan as a deity.

One is the Temple of Set, which identifies the Christian Satan with the ancient Egyptian god Set.

In the 1980s, there were a series of alleged cases of Satanic ritual abuse in the United States, leading to moral panic but only a tiny number of crimes were recorded.

Those who walk in the light have no business with those who adore this murder, walk in darkness and dabble in the occult.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 17:01

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Zahi Hawass Reappointed as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities

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And he’s back:

CAIRO — Egypt’s chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass, the guardian of some of the world’s most important treasures, was on Wednesday named minister of antiquities, the official MENA news agency reported.

Hawass had served as head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and later became minister of state under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Nationwide protests that erupted on January 25 overthrew Mubarak and saw power handed over to a military council.

Hawass’s appointment is likely to anger pro-democracy activists who have been calling for the cabinet to purged of all old regime elements.

His nomination comes amid multiplying calls by the UN cultural agency to protect Egypt’s heritage after reports of looting and theft during the unrest that followed the popular uprising.

UNESCO said on Tuesday that it would write to Egyptian authorities to officially ask for more protection for the country’s archaeological sites.

Earlier this month, the UN body voiced growing concern for such sites which it said were threatened by pillaging.

Robbers raided several warehouses around the country, including one in the Egyptian Museum, after the uprising gave way to looting and insecurity.

An antiquities official said last week that 800 relics stolen by armed robbers from a warehouse east of Cairo were still missing.

What a strange lot of people…

The Voice of Russia also has the breaking news story here.

We posted on his undoing here and here (which was at the beginning of this month).

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 14:13

Posted in Bible Archaeology

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Today in History: USA Buys Alaska for $7.2 Million from Russia

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On March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward paid Russia $7.2 million for the 586,412-square mile territory of Alaska.

Russia set up a presence in Alaska in the 18th century, when Danish explorer Vitus Bering, with the backing of Russian Czar Peter the Great, surveyed the region. The territory was wild and inhospitable, but it was rich in natural resources, attracting Russian explorers and traders.

Russia did not have the money to establish permanent settlements, however, and its position was further weakened by their defeat in the Crimean War. By the mid-19th century, it was looking to sell off the land.

It offered Alaska to the United States, which was in the midst of a steady march westward, in 1859, but the threat of Civil War put off the sale. After the war, Secretary of State William Seward, a strong proponent of expansion, reopened talks with Russia, and agreed on March 30, 1867, to buy Alaska for $7.2 million, less than 2 cents per acre.

Many in the U.S. criticized Seward’s purchase. “Critics attacked him for the secrecy surrounding the deal with Russia, which came to be known as ‘Seward’s folly,’” writes the Library of Congress. “They mocked his willingness to spend so much on ‘Seward’s icebox’ or President Andrew Johnson’s ‘polar bear garden.’”

The Senate passed the treaty to buy Alaska by just one vote. The Alaskan territory was officially transferred to the U.S. on Oct. 18, 1867.

The above was here.

Wikipedia has more on the purchase here with this photo of the original check:

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 13:56

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What Would Jesus Blog?

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Lovely thoughtful post on Christian blogging.

Worth a read.

Thanks to Stuart for pointing it out!

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 08:59

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Company Uses Cells From Abortions to Test Artificial Flavors

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This is enough to make you sick:

A pro-life group that monitors the use of cells from babies victimized by abortions is today highlighting a biotech company, Senomyx, which it says produces artificial flavor enhancers using aborted fetal cell lines to test their products.

The group Children of God for Life is calling for a public boycott of major food companies partnering with Senomyx.

Debi Vinnedge, the director of the pro-life organization, tells today that, in 2010, her group wrote to Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder and pointed out that moral options for testing their food additives could and should be used. But when Senomyx ignored her letter, the group  wrote to the companies Senomyx listed on their website as “collaborators” warning them of public backlash and threatened boycott. They included food giants PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup, Solae and Nestlé. (See update below.)

“The company’s key flavor programs focus on the discovery and development of savory, sweet and salt flavor ingredients that are intended to allow for the reduction of MSG, sugar and salt in food and beverage products,” the Senomyx web site says. “Using isolated human taste receptors, we created proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.” 

Vinnedge says a boycott is important because the collaborating companies provide Senomyx with research and development funding plus royalties on sales of products using their flavor ingredients.

“What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 – human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors,” she said. “They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”

Vinnedge says she has contacted the food companies working with Senomyx, but said it took three letters before one company, Nestlé, finally admitted its relationship with Senomyx and company officials claimed the line of cells from abortions was “well established in scientific research”.

Both PepsiCo and Campbell Soup also responded.

PepsiCo wrote: “We hope you are reassured to learn that our collaboration with Senomyx is strictly limited to creating lower-calorie, great-tasting beverages for consumers. This will help us achieve our commitment to reduce added sugar per serving by 25% in key brands in key markets over the next decade and ultimately help people live healthier lives.” 

Campbell Soup officials told the pro-life group: “Every effort is made to use the finest ingredients and develop the greatest selection of products, all at a great value. With this in mind, it must be said that the trust we have cultivated and developed over the years with our consumers is not worth compromising to cut costs or increase profit margins.”

While Campbell Soup didn’t state they would change their methods, their response, gave Vinnedge hope.

“If enough people voice their outrage and intent to boycott these consumer products, it may convince Senomyx to change their methods,” she said. “Otherwise, we will be buying Coca-Cola, Lipton soups and Hershey products.”

UPDATE: Within hours of its press statement to, the pro-life group received notice from Campbell Soup that the company has severed its ties with Senomyx. Juli Mandel Sloves, Senior Manager of Nutrition & Wellness Communications at Campbell Soup Company, told Vinnedge, “We are no longer in partnership with Senomyx. This fact was discussed during the Senomyx conference call with its investors earlier this month.”

ACTION: Contact the companies at:

Kent Snyder, CEO
4767 Nexus Centre Drive
San Diego, California 92121

Edmund M. Carpenter, CEO
Campbell Soup
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701

It’s like something from a horror movie! Total depravity in a fallen, wicked, and godless generation!

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 30, 2011 at 08:46

Posted in Culture

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