The Trumpet: Hagia Sophia and a Clash of Civilizations

Hagia Sophia church being converted for opening as mosque

From The Trumpet, Hagia Sophia and a Clash of Civilizations:

Turkey has just taken Orthodox Christianity’s greatest cathedral and turned it into a mosque.

There’s a lot of history here. When Hagia Sophia was opened by Emperor Justinian in a.d. 537, it was the largest, and possibly the most impressive, building in the world.

This one building may have impacted the lives of billions. Early Russian history records the story of Vladimir the Great, ruler of the Rus in the 10th century. Vladimir wanted to choose a religion for the Rus, and sent out envoys to neighboring civilizations. Once the envoys saw Hagia Sophia, their minds were made up. “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on Earth,” the envoys reported, “nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it.” Vladimir converted to Orthodox Christianity, and that religion has shaped Russian and Slavic history ever since.

In 1453, Constantinople and Hagia Sophia fell to the Ottoman Turks. And so they turned one of Christendom’s greatest churches into a mosque.

Hagia Sophia went through a third revolution in 1934. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk transformed Turkey from an Islamic empire into a secular state—as a powerful symbol of this, he transformed Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum. It is now Turkey’s top tourist destination, drawing 3.7 million visitors a year.

Which is why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision on July 10 to turn it back into a mosque is so significant. His political allies have hailed it as a second conquest of Istanbul. It is a deliberate statement. Turkey is no longer the secular state of Atatürk. It is an Islamic nation, aiming to become an empire.

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk said the conversion of Hagia Sophia back to a mosque “is to say to the rest of the world, ‘Unfortunately we are not secular any more.’ There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this, but their voices are not heard.”

This reversal away from secularism runs against the grain of Western thought. To many, history runs in one direction: Europe used to be religious, but is becoming very secular; this is the march of progress that all nations will eventually follow.

Erdoğan’s reversal is the latest proof that the world is not on a one-way track to secularism.

Look around the world and you can see evidence of this. In 1989, Central Asia had only 160 active mosques. Four years later, there were 10,000. Moscow had 50 churches in 1988. Four years later, it had 250. Around the same time, nearly a third of Russians under age 25 said they had switched from being atheistic to believing in God.

In the still officially atheistic state of China, the World Religion Database shows the total number of followers of all religions jumping from around 300 million in 1970 to around 700 million today. Despite government attempts to stop it, religion has spread much faster than Chinese population growth.

In South Korea in 1962, 2.6 percent of the population were Buddhist and 5 percent were Christian. Now 23 percent are Buddhist and more than 29 percent are Christian.

“In the modern world, religion is a central, perhaps the central, force that motivates and mobilizes people,” wrote Samuel Huntington in his book Clash of Civilizations. “It is sheer hubris to think that because Soviet communism has collapsed, the West has won the world for all time and that Muslims, Chinese, Indians and others are going to rush to embrace Western liberalism as the only alternative.”

Time has proved Huntington dramatically correct. He wrote his book before 9/11, when radical Islam made itself a major concern to everyone in the world. He wrote it before head coverings became one of the major political issues in Europe, the bastion of liberal multiculturalism.

The big question is, could Europe be swept along by such a trend?

At the other end of Europe is what could be Hagia Sophe’s mirror image. The Grand Mosque of Córdoba in Spain was built in the eighth century a.d. To the locals at the time, “the beauty of the mosque was so dazzling that it defied any description.”

But the Grand Mosque is now the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, after the Spanish conquered it in 1236.

My point is not to set up some kind of moral equivalency between the two. Hagia Sophia is the fifth church of that name to be converted into a mosque in Turkey in recent years. I know of no Western country running the process in reverse.

Instead, my point is to show that Europe and the Middle East, Christianity and Islam, are closely connected. What happens in one affects the other—and has for centuries.

Religion is already rising in Europe in reaction to Islam. When Russia voted on its new constitution at the start of the month, most attention was focused on President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to extend his time in office. But the vote also added God into the constitution.

In Poland this month, incumbent President Andrzej Duda was reelected. Duda’s Law and Justice party has close links with the Catholic Church. “In hardly any other EU country are the state and church as closely connected as in Poland,” noted deutschlandfunk.de.

Across Europe, religion is making a comeback—not in terms of religious observance, but instead with symbols and rhetoric.

Across Eastern and Central Europe, leaders have made clear that they view their countries as Christian and that Muslims are not welcome. In May 2015, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, “I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country.”

“Let us not forget, however, that those arriving have been raised in another religion and represent a radically different culture,” he wrote in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity” (Sept. 3, 2015).

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said in May 2016, “I do not want to see a Muslim community in Slovakia. … We do not want to change the traditions of this country, which are built on the Christian tradition.” The president of the Czech Republic warned in January 2016 that integrating Muslims into Europe “is practically impossible.”

The same trends are arriving in Western Europe. Since 2018 all government buildings in the German state of Bavaria have been obliged to display a cross.

In the West, upstart political parties like the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany and the National Rally (formerly the National Front) in France have taken up the mantle of politicized religion. National Rally leader Marine Le Pen pushes “a secularized Christianity as culture,” Rogers Brubaker, a sociologist at the University of California–Los Angeles, told Atlantic magazine. “It’s a matter of belonging rather than believing.” Brubaker described it as a Christianity that says, “We are Christians, precisely because they are Muslims. Otherwise, we are not Christian in any substantive sense” (May 6, 2017).

The AfD is the same way. Its election slogans, such as “Burkas? We’re into bikinis,” are hardly paragons of chastity and virtue. In the culture wars, they are on the side of the Christian right, and the Christian right is happy to accept them.

The AfD’s stunning election success—coming from nowhere to become the third-largest party in Germany’s parliament—shows the appetite in Germany for this kind of religion in politics.

In Europe it tends to be Islamist terrorist attacks or migration from Islamic countries that triggers this kind of religious fervor. Absent of that, it dies down…

Click here to continue reading at The Trumpet.

The Trumpet: Financial Reckoning – Here’s What You Can Do Right Now

Timothy Oostendarp of The Trumpet has an article up on the many people facing difficult financial times as a result of the pandemic and some basic things that you can do to regain your financial footing and stay sane – Financial Reckoning Now Confronts Millions

Whether you live in America or somewhere else, right now the biggest problem you’re likely facing is paying your monthly bills. The forced shutdown of the global economy has pulverized national and family budgets. In Canada, it is reported that federal unemployment insurance claims have rocketed to Great Depression levels.

Ding-dong, Dorothy, the economy is dead.

Last month, many Americans were living paycheck-to-paycheck. This month has seen that paycheck taken away.

There is no sense citing endless statistics. Tens of millions of Americans can’t even handle a $400 emergency. Banks and credit card companies are preparing for a tsunami of payment deferrals and loan defaults as consumers buckle.

Like boozy wastrels drunk on prosperity, millions have squandered precious time and money in the face of mounting evidence a crash was coming. Instead of having savings for a rainy day, Americans are now facing a financial reckoning that’s going to burn. The toll isn’t only financial; it’s physical, emotional and spiritual. And authorities are seeing a corresponding spike in suicides and substance and domestic abuse.

The fiscal grim reaper is here. In all fairness, he did send us many notices of his impending arrival, like the Great Recession in the late 2000s. That financial bloodbath was as long as Wall Street and up to the businessman’s belt.

Since that tender time, federal reserve banks have made themselves hoarse yelling into deaf ears. They have repeatedly warned about gross government and corporate debt, the perils of endless quantitive easing (printing money), and escalating household debt.

More than 10 long years have lapsed since the Great Recession. What did we learn? What is this latest economic jolt teaching us? We learned that we are thoroughly addicted to materialism. We learned that decadence defines our daily living. We learned we lack character. Even the poor among us live like feudal kings, yet millions are now beyond broke.

Prosperity is bankrupting us in more ways than we think. If you are suffering financially, the good news is that, if you are willing to correct your living, there is a little time left to set your financial house in order.

Here is what you can do right now.

The first step is to understand God has set basic financial laws into motion. When those laws are broken, penalties result. The penalty is a sign that laws are being broken—and signs are meant to be heeded! God has put penalties in place for broken law to help correct our thinking and our living. When God’s laws are obeyed, great material and spiritual blessings result—including freedom from anxiety, worry and fear.

When someone becomes physically sick with a cold or the flu, the body begins to immediately discharge poisons through mucus production, the eliminative system and by rest. That is the human body trying to bring itself back into alignment with God’s laws governing health. Likewise, financial poison comes in the form of debt, budget deficits (not enough money to cover your bills), and burdensome interest payments. These poisons must be ejected! This is the second step!

Without jeopardizing your health or that of your family, reduce your standard of living to pay off your debts and balance your budget as soon as possible! This means doing everything practically possible to avoid consumer and business debt. A well-considered loan will produce above its principle and interest—meaning it should profit! The wise earn interest while the foolish pay it.

Right now, many governments are offering no-strings-attached money to help small businesses and citizens. If you need to, you might have to take advantage of the assistance your taxes have already helped to pay for or will help to pay for later. God is not against accepting help in time of need. In certain well-advised circumstances, it is the prudent thing to do. There is no shame in taking a handout in a time of need—especially when we are determined to go on and use that help to correct the cause of the problem.

Consider seeking wise counsel before taking on long-term debt or loans for what could be a short-term employment problem. A bad loan will be a poison, which will seriously aggravate your financial problems! Get creative—use drive and initiative. These are some of the laws of personal and financial success. Talk to a rich uncle who might be willing to give you a hand (not handout) during these difficult times. Offer to work for the help. Take odd jobs doing handiwork. The point is, make your opportunities.

The next principle is to set a budget and track your spending. Herein we see another basic law of God: Don’t spend more than you make. Budget! Our financial problems don’t usually revolve around not having enough money but not managing it properly. Slipshod financial management is a reflection of a breakdown in character. We all have to learn to manage our prosperity—especially those who haven’t learned the first principle of working hard.

Examine your attitude toward materialism. God’s law forbids lust and coveting, but coveting drives the world economy. Is it driving your spending? God’s Word says a person trying to get the best of his employer or trying to get riches will not prosper in the end. It often leads to owning substandard possessions and always leads to substandard character.

We all must come to learn the first lesson of life: Seek God’s Kingdom and His character above riches. That is the only way to financial prosperity. Strive to better yourself in an effort to give to your employer, your family and to God—but also strive to learn to be content in your circumstances.

Get creative. Housing, transportation and food are major line items in personal budgets. Excessive car loans that stretch into five to seven years are financial folly. Maybe it’s time to evaluate cutting these areas without jeopardizing your ability to work, and without jeopardizing your health and your family’s well-being.

Another financial law of success is persistence. Don’t throw in the towel! If you’ve recently been laid off, realize many hundreds of thousands have been laid off too. Most of them will begin to waste time. Don’t waste time.

Sloth is stealing, even if it’s only stealing time that can’t be recovered. Put your time to profitable use. Stay productive. Read a good book; improve your skills; refinish some old furniture; play games with your children; go for a walk; breathe in fresh air.

“Chomp at the bit” to get back to work. A robust work ethic is at the heart of building righteous character. Begin calling prospective employers. Line up interviews. Make a job out of getting a job.

This can be a time to advance your career! Employers will start hiring again. Make sure your name is at the top of the list. God is a producer. He expects the same from us. He doesn’t waste a moment or an opportunity. Hiring may be at a momentary freeze, but you don’t have to be frozen in time or frozen in one spot. Be zealous and work hard!

Next, when you get back to a solid financial footing, start saving for a rainy day. There are two types of savings to aim for: operational savings and reserve savings. Operational savings are for emergency repairs and other out-of-the-blue expenses. Reserve savings should equal three times your monthly net income—or at least enough to cover your expenses for three months. If need be, put your budget on a diet, because austerity may be the order of the day to achieve the results you need. The old saying applies: Make hay while the sun shines. Time is fast running out.

When tragedy strikes this world, God is often accused of loafing on the job. Mankind shakes his collective fist at God. He is accused of being heartless, unwilling to lend humanity a helping hand. God gets blamed for nearly all tragedy, pain and suffering. But if He were to stop you from chasing your pleasures that lead to such destruction, you’d soon accuse Him of interfering in your life. When the tragedy strikes, who is to blame? We can’t have it both ways.

Related:

Motley Fool: What to Do If Coronavirus Cuts Your Income

CNBC: How to Build a Cash Reserve If Coronavirus Causes You to Miss Work

USA Today: How to pay the bills during the coronavirus pandemic

Fox: Coronavirus financial concerns: What to do if you can’t pay your bills

The Trumpet: The Spread of Coronavirus and Other Modern Plagues

This article from The Trumpet gives their biblical take on modern plagues.

Many of you are familiar with the pale horse of the apocalypse of Revelation 6:7-8: “[B]ehold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” This shows that diseases like this virus are about to get worse, spreading like medieval pandemics and killing millions of people! Whether or not this specific outbreak will cause such ruin, this prophecy is sure.

You can find a related image in Zechariah 6. It is important to note the time frame. This chapter describes a dual crown being given to a man just before Jesus Christ returns—a prophecy that was recently fulfilled (request my free book The New Throne of David for an explanation). Before that takes place, though, four chariots emerge from between two mountains, symbolizing God the Father and Jesus Christ (verse 1). God sends these chariots. He gives specific commands about what these chariots are to do. This is explained in Chapter 7 of that book.

The black horses here symbolize violence, famine and pestilence. We are already in the preliminary stages of their ride. The coronavirus is only a small part of the overall picture. Other plagues are already spreading in our cities.

Many cities are facing a crisis of homelessness. In downtown Los Angeles, for example, is a little city of homeless people. The area is awash in drugs—and human feces, rats and every imaginable kind of filth. And even now, people are contracting tuberculosis and typhoid fever! Some of the policemen have contracted these Third World diseases! Rats carry disease and spread it everywhere. Some experts warn of the onset of bubonic plague—a disease that wiped out much of Europe in the 14th century! We are ignoring that history, and officials are permitting these conditions to ripen within some of our mightiest cities!

The same circumstances are true in Seattle and San Francisco. Some travel guides tell visitors to avoid portions of San Francisco and other big cities to avoid catching bubonic plague.

It is a most awful scene; we can hardly even stand to hear the news about it! Yet it is just a small foretaste of the plagues coming to America and Britain and Judah if people don’t repent before God!

…Where is this leading? We are already experiencing the preliminary stages of what the Bible terms “great tribulation,” in which one third of the populations in America and other Israelitish nations will die—before being directly attacked by foreign enemies!

These black horses—violence, famine, pestilence—are going to overtake the Earth! God is beginning to send a number of globe-rattling events our way! He is going to let the world see where their evil ways lead them.

God has a lot to accomplish with His people in the midst of an explosion of satanic chaos! He sends these angels out with specific jobs, all in preparation for the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! He is already preparing for that crisis of crises!

The Trumpet: America Has Been ‘Fundamentally Transformed’

The following article from The Trumpet and pastor Gerald Flurry of the Philadelphia Church of God makes the claim that there is deliberate effort being made to move the US away from being a constitutional republic toward being only a mob-rule democracy. The opening of the article is below, but it is quite a bit longer through the link.

America’s government has been embroiled in a shameful impeachment charade for months now. The Democrats are demonstrating that there is virtually no limit to what they are willing to do to attack the president and undermine the last election—and the next one. Meanwhile, revelations continue to emerge about their abuse of the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, even the president himself.

People need to understand what a dangerous threat this is to the very foundation of this nation!

What is happening in the Democratic Party is an extension of and intensification of a process started by the previous president.

When Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally change America” during his 2008 presidential run, few people knew what he really meant. Now that he is out of office, it is becoming clearer all the time that the change he was talking about was something far more dangerous than many people assumed.

He meant changing America from a constitutional republic. And what we are witnessing in the country today shows that, to an alarming degree, he succeeded!

In an address to Democratic donors this past November, Mr. Obama said that if Democrats want to be elected, they need to conceal their radical views. “This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” he said. “Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality. The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it” (emphasis mine throughout).

The average American doesn’t think that, but he does, and these donors do! And he wasn’t telling them to abandon that goal—only to be more underhanded about it!

Mr. Obama is contemptuously and openly discussing what he meant by fundamentally transforming America. Now that he is out of office, he tells us what his real goal was and still is—“to completely tear down the system and remake it”!

In the past, such revolutions usually caused millions of people to spill their blood.

If you think my view is unreal, consider this: Never have we seen a more bitterly divided America, and this man who fundamentally transformed America caused much of this division. He almost destroyed America’s constitutional republic. Never have we seen such hatred between American people.

All this ought to terrify every American. Many revolutions end in a civil war filled with suffering and death.

In America’s civil war, neither side will win. Bible prophecy thunders a deadly message that an enemy nation will conquer us. We must wake up and repent for God to save us this time…

Click here to read the entire article at The Trumpet.

The Trumpet: How Close Is the US to Civil War?

Continuing with the increasing number of voices clamoring about the possibilities of civil war in the USA, here is an article from the January 2020 Trumpet edition – How Close Is the US to Civil War? Being The Trumpet, this article takes a Biblical approach to the answer.

Prominent observers are discussing the possibility of civil war in America. In November, the Democratic Party began an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. At least 228 Democrats in the House of Representatives support this inquiry, and it only takes 218 to impeach the president. Some polls, if they can be trusted, indicate popular support for impeachment (though others do not); one betting website puts the odds of the president being impeached at 78 percent.

Article i, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach officers of the federal government, including the president. An “impeachment” is a formal charge of misconduct. If the president is impeached, he is tried in the Senate. If two thirds of senators vote to convict him of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” he is removed from office.

With Democrats controlling the House of Representatives (and likely to impeach), and Republicans controlling the Senate (and likely to acquit), President Trump may become the first impeached president in U.S. history to run for reelection. Whatever happens, the 2020 U.S. presidential election is set to be the most contentious since the American Civil War.

Democrats are accusing Republicans of obstructing justice to protect a corrupt president. Republicans are accusing Democrats of attempting a coup d’état. The impeachment process, whatever its outcome, will exacerbate this division. A Georgetown University poll showed that two thirds of Americans believe the U.S. is “on the edge of civil war” (emphasis added).

Think about that for a moment. The American Civil War took 620,000 American lives—more deaths than all other American wars combined. Could America really be on the edge of another such catastrophe?

Click here to read the entire article at The Trumpet.

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