March 28, 2011- April 3,2011 
 News In Review
 Vol 6, Issue 14
In This Issue
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Dear Ron,

The News In Review newsletter is a service provided by Understand The Times that is a compilation of the news articles previously posted on our site . Understand The Times does not endorse these events but rather is showing the church the current events.  The purpose of posting these articles is to warn the church of deception from a Biblical perspective.

 March 23 - A durable doomsday preacher predicts the world's end -- again
 Article: Unbiblcal Christianity

Save the date: May 21, 2011. If preacher Harold Camping is right, that's the exact date Jesus will return and the righteous will fly up to heaven, leaving behind only their clothes. That will be followed by five months of fire, brimstone and plagues, with millions of people dying each day and corpses piling in the streets. Finally, on Oct. 21, the world ends exactly as the Book of Revelation says it will - with a bottomless pit, a lake of fire and, at last, a new heaven and new earth.

Doomsday preachers come and go, but at nearly 90 years old, the spry Camping has managed to ignite a nationwide movement that has garnered national attention.

"God has put his stamp of approval that this is the day," McCann said in a telephone interview. "I don't doubt it, and I don't look at the possibility of May 22 happening."

Neither does Camping. Asked how he arrived at the date, he opened his Bible to Genesis and said Noah loaded animals into the ark in 4990 B.C., a number he said he arrived at years ago after looking at carbon dating, tree rings and other data. Paging forward to 2 Peter, he read aloud, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is one day."

Leafing back to Genesis, he said that the seven days Noah spent loading the ark was really 7,000 years. He then added 7,000 to 4990 B.C to arrive at 2010. He added one more year, he said, because there is no year one in the Bible.As for the exact date of May 21, he pointed again to Genesis, which says the flood began on the "17th day of the second month." According to the Jewish calendar, which he believes God uses, that is May 21.

Press found that 41% of Americans expect Jesus' return before 2040. But pinpointing an exact date is unusual, said John R. Hall, a sociology professor and author of "Apocalypse," an examination of doomsday groups.

Camping has wiggled before. He first predicted Jesus' return in 1994 in a book named for that year - but with a big question mark at the end. While writing the book, he said the year 2011 began to come up in his calculations, but 1994 was more prominent. When the year came and went, Camping explained that he was wrong and needed more study. "It just was a cudgel to keep studying," he said.

Read Full Article .... 

 March 24 - Is religion going extinct?
 Article: One World Religion

Both fans and foes of religion should take note. A study conducted by scholars from the University of Arizona and Northwestern University, and presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society suggests that religion may be dying in nine countries. The study projects the extinction of religion in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

This study, using complex mathematical models, confirms trends observed by social scientists for some time. While not studied, the trend line in the United States has been interpreted in similar ways by other scholars, most recently because of polling conducted for the American Reiligious Identification Survey in which the fastest growing religious group in America was the "nones" i.e. people indicating that none of the categories offered by the study fit how they would describe themselves when it came to religion.

Before religion foes begin celebrating however, it's worth noting that these studies make a giant conceptual error - one which confuses the death of religion with the end of religion and religious affiliation as we know them. There is plenty of evidence for the latter two phenomena, but the fact that people are doing religion differently doesn't mean that religion is going extinct.

None of our faiths has been here forever, and according to most of them, each is an improvement over what preceded them, so it's likely that if these traditions should actually die out, they too will be replaced by potentially superior alternatives. I am not a supersessionist who believes that whatever comes last is best. In fact, that approach has proven to be quite deadly, at least for most of Western religious tradition, and actually for other parts of the world as well, though we tend to be less aware of their bloody pasts.

I am simply suggesting that if religion as we know it as a whole does go extinct, there is reason to believe that it will be replaced by religion as we do not know it yet, and that it may well be an improvement over the versions we currently have. But even if that process is unfolding, it will be, like most evolutionary processes, quite slow, so nobody reading this is likely to confront the actual death of the tradition to which they are currently attached.

Could these shifts be part of a much larger trend? It may be that in all of these places, people are insisting that the conceptual, spiritual, and religious offerings which have comprised their menu options are simply insufficient.

Read Full Article.... 

 March 24 - Poll: Nearly 4 in 10 Americans Say Natural Disasters Sign from God
 Article: Signs Of The Last Times

When Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara called the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan tembatsu -- or "divine judgment" -- he expressed a kind of theological cause and effect shared by nearly 40 percent of Americans. Ishihara later apologized for his remarks. But a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Survey shows some support for his original sentiment: 16 percent of Americans agree that natural disasters are a sign from God, while 22 percent mostly agree.

A slight majority -- 51 percent -- disagreed natural disasters are a sign from the Almighty. Yet a slightly larger majority, 56 percent, said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world.

Others had their own take on the poll's results. "Increasingly, Americans want a God who loves and doesn't judge," said Rabbi Irwin Kula, author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life. Kula maintained traditional theology, "that natural disasters are punishment for sin, is rejected by God in the (Old Testament's) book of Job, but it is a dominant strand in every tradition." According to Kula, "tragedy has nothing to do with the victim's behavior. It is simply the mystery and vastness of nature."

But Eric Metaxas, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God, said that "according to the Bible, the world is NOT the way God wants it to be." Events like earthquakes and tsunamis, said Metaxas, are examples of that brokenness "that God is in the process of redeeming and (that) He is with us in the suffering."

The poll results revealed differences of opinion on the subject among various Christian denominations. Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) of white Evangelicals said they believed natural disasters are a sign from God. But a much smaller minority -- just 31 percent of Catholics and 34 percent of non-evangelical Protestants -- agreed.

The perceived increase in the number and severity of natural disasters is evidence to 44 percent of Americans of what the Bible calls The End Times, prophesied in the Old Testament's book of Daniel and the New Testament's book of Revelation. Fifty-two percent disagreed, according to the poll.

Read Full Article .... 

 March 24 - Piper, McLaren Ponder God's Hand in Japan Quake
 Article: Emerging Church

Did God cause the earthquake in Japan? Reformed theologian John Piper says yes. But emergent church pastor Brian McLaren isn't satisfied with the simple answer, especially as it paints God as heartless or inept.

All in all, McLaren says if his "only option for Christian faith required me to be satisfied with the explanations given by Piper, I would be driven away," he wrote in a commentary featured in The Other Journal.

Piper wrote in his blog: "No earthquakes in the Bible are attributed to Satan. ... Earthquakes are ultimately from God. Nature does not have a will of its own. And God owes Satan no freedom. What havoc demons wreak, they wreak with God's permission. And God has reasons for what he permits. His permissions are purposes."

We don't know all ("hundreds of thousands") the purposes for the calamity in Japan and won't know until the end of age, Piper says. But there are possible purposes revealed in the Bible. Piper lists:

  • "The end-time earthquakes" are meant as calls to unbelievers to repentance and as a wake-up call to the world that Jesus Christ is coming and God's kingdom will soon be born;
  • "God's unilateral taking of thousands of lives is a loud declaration that 'The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away' (Job 1:21)" - in other words, life is a loan from God;
  • The powerful earthquake reveals the "fearful magnificence of God" - "most of the world does not fear the Lord and therefore lacks saving wisdom;"
  • When the earth shakes, there is a sense that there is no place to flee. Where do you turn? To God.

For those seeking "simple answers" and who are "of a certain theological bent," McLaren has no doubt that what Piper presented will satisfy them. But McLaren doesn't agree with such simplicity, particularly when it comes to the matter of evil and suffering.

"If one were to ask, 'What is God's relationship with the universe?' the only answer from Piper and his colleagues would be 'Sovereignty,' and sovereignty would mean absolute, unilateral control," he points out. "That, I think, is not the only option for a faithful believer in God."  McLaren argues that "it is better to say" that God's sovereignty is not totalitarian.

"God isn't the kind of king interested in absolute control. God wouldn't create that kind of relationship with the universe because God isn't that kind of God," he contends. "Instead, God creates space and time for a universe to be, to become, to unfold in its own story, its own evolution.

Read Full Article .... 

 March 25 - Netanyahu: Israel ready to react with 'great force'
 Article: Israel And The Last Days

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that Israel is ready to act with "great force" against terror attacks, a day after Israelis launched retaliatory strikes in Gaza.
Israel had been "subjected to bouts of terror and rocket attacks," Netanyahu said following a spate of rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza and a bombing in Jerusalem that killed one and wounded more than 30 people.
"We stand ready to act with great force and great determination to put a stop to it," Netanyahu told reporters before a meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
"Any civilized society will not tolerate such wanton attacks on its civilians," he said. 
Gates, a former CIA director with years of experience in Washington, said US-Israel security ties were as strong as they had ever been at a time when the region is in "turmoil." In Tel Aviv on Thursday, Gates said Washington firmly backed Israel's right to respond to the both the rocket fire and the Jerusalem bombing, which he described as "repugnant acts." But he suggested Israel should tread carefully or risk derailing the course of popular unrest sweeping Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East.
Several regional powers have already urged Israel to show restraint amid fears Netanyahu would order another ground invasion of Gaza.

Read Full Article .... 

 March 26 - Pakistan Switches Sides, Expanding Arms Allegiance With China and Leaving U.S. Behind
 Article: Miscellaneous

Pakistan is beefing up its arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles by embracing China as its new strategic arms partner and backing away from the U.S., analysts have told Fox News.

Pakistan earlier this month test-fired a nuclear-capable missile from an undisclosed location - the second in a month of try-outs for its short-range surface-to-surface Hataf 2 class rocket, co-developed with the Chinese. It was the latest in a series of arms collaborations between the two nations, which view their strategic partnership as a counterweight to a boldly confident India, which has American support.

Until the mid-1960s, the United States was the principal supplier of weapons to Pakistan, the world's eighth most-powerful nuclear nation. But the U.S. began to back away from the relationship after years of difficult and sometimes unpredictable relations following the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. no longer fully supports the military ambitions of a Pakistan that is being destabilized by an insurgency it cannot control, rising radicalism and anti-Westernism, and a government considered by some too weak and corrupt.

A Pakistani government official was recently quoted as saying it was vital for the navy to acquire more submarines to offset "the pressure we will definitely come under" due to the rapid expansion of India's naval capability. "Our Chinese brothers have always come to our help and we are asking them for assistance once again," he said.

Read Full Article .... 

 March 25 - Forum Opens for Those Approaching God as the Unknown
 Article: One World Religion

The Courtyard of the Gentiles, a new forum for dialogue between believers and nonbelievers, was launched Thursday at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, in the presence of diplomats, international officials and representatives of the world of culture.

The initiative, promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, takes up a suggestion of Benedict XVI to create a space for dialogue "with those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown" (Benedict XVI, Dec. 21, 2009).

At UNESCO, this dialogue was presented as an "essential element in the quest for peace and abolition of the rejection of the other in the affirmation of one's own identity," explained the Pontifical Council for Culture in a communiqué.

"This dialogue has the same relevance for our time as interreligious dialogue," the council statement affirmed. "From the perspective of globalization, it calls for posing vital questions of a universal character and values."

Several political personalities, among them Giuliano Amato, former Italian prime minister, stressed the point of view of the debate at the political, cultural and social level. "The alliance between believers and nonbelievers will give liberty and democracy their meaning," said Amato.

Henri Lopes, former prime minister of Congo, and the ambassador of that country to France and UNESCO, stressed the importance of this dialogue to promote a culture of peace in the world, beyond European and Western borders.

Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche Community, spoke about the power of transformation that stems from the quality of a look directed to wounded humanity. "Encounter is more important than dialogue to establish a relationship of trust," he said.

Believers and non-believers must continue to coexist, concluded Monsignor Follo, saying this is not just a question of reciprocal tolerance, but a challenge that must be assumed.

Read Full Article .... 

 March 23 - PETA: Don't call animals 'it' in the Bible
 Article: Miscellaneous

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible. The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls "speciesist" language and refer to animals as "he" or "she" instead of "it."

The NIV is a popular translation of the Christian Bible. An updated translation was released this month. The translators said 95% of the 1984 translation remains the same. PETA is hoping the move toward greater gender inclusiveness will continue toward animals as well.

"When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area ... it wasn't much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area," Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vice president for policy, told CNN.

Friedrich, a practicing Roman Catholic, said, "Language matters. Calling an animal 'it' denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God."

"What happens in slaughterhouses mocks God," he said. People know intuitively that "animals are 'who' not 'what.' ... Acknowledging it would better align our practices with our beliefs."

"Do we need to know the gender of the lion Samson slew? What would it give us there?" he said. "You could try to specify that, but you would be doing so entirely inventively if you did. It's not in the original language. ... Nothing is made of it in the story."

Jeffery said he sympathizes and agrees with PETA's position that God calls for humans to care for animals, but he said, "When you get to the point when you say, 'Don't say it, say he or she' when the text doesn't, you're both screwing up the text and missing the main point you addressed."

Read Full Article.... 

We hope the Weekly News In Review has been a blessing to you.

Roger Oakland

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