God’s View on Making and Managing Money

Is wealth sinful? Is poverty virtuous? What does the Bible say?
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Some people choose to be poor. They believe poverty is admirable or even righteous. They live ultrasimple lives, or even banish themselves to a bare-bones existence in a religious house or monastery, thinking that this makes them closer to God.

Is money—even wealth—bad? What does the Bible say about money? Everyone needs it, but there are right and wrong ways to use it. How much is too little? How much is too much?

The Bible is a vault of wisdom about money. It contains very practical instruction. So let’s dive in and study it. Open your Bible and read each scripture that answers each question. This will help you learn and remember the principles we cover.

God Wants You to Prosper!

1. Who owns everything on Earth? Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1; Haggai 2:8.

God created everything and therefore owns everything. Some say God is against riches. But how could He be? He Himself is a multitrillionaire!

2. Does God hoard His wealth? Does God desire for you to prosper? John 10:10, last part; 3 John 2; Ecclesiastes 5:19.

God gives of all He has made. That is His way. In fact, He created all things for the purpose of sharing them! God wants us to enjoy the wealth of blessings His creation offers.

3. What are some of the blessings God promises to those who live righteously? Psalm 1:1-3; 112:1-3; 84:11-12; 37:3-4.

4. Since God owns everything, and all you have comes from Him, what does He expect from you? Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10. If you obey God in this respect, will He bless you even more? Same verses.

The firstfruits, or tithe, is the first 10 percent of your income. God wants you to show your appreciation and respect for Him by giving that portion back to Him before you take anything else out of your paycheck. The governments of this world demand 25 or 50 percent or more, God commands that we pay only 10 percent. We don’t give this to God directly, but to His representative on Earth. When we do, we will find that the remainder of our money stretches even further!

Money Tips

Now that we have established that God is in favor of wealth, let’s look at some money tips from the Bible.

1. How important is hard work in making money? What will laziness and a love of pleasures lead to, monetarily? Proverbs 21:17; 23:21; 24:30-34.

2. Besides diligence and hard work, what lesson can we learn from the ant? Proverbs 6:6-8; 30:24-25.

While food is plenteous, ants store enough to last them through the colder months. This teaches us not only to save for the future and to set money aside for emergencies, but also the principle of budgeting, allocating money for specific purposes to cover all your expenses, from food and housing to entertainment. This practice keeps you in control of your money and is invaluable in managing a household. The sooner you develop this habit the better!

3. How can your choices today help you prepare for a financially stable future? Proverbs 24:27; verses 3-4.

Verse 27 in the Moffatt translation reads, “First work your farm, and till the soil—then marry and set up house.” There is much to be said for getting established with a good job and saving some money before taking on the responsibilities of a family. Some people marry too young and end up struggling financially—and otherwise—for years.

4. Will generously sharing your wealth—with God and others—actually increase your wealth? Luke 6:38; Proverbs 11:24-25.

The Revised Standard Version renders Proverbs 11:24, “One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” It is smart to save money and spend wisely, but don’t become stingy. Give generously, as you are able, and you will have more in the long run. Selfishly hoarding each dollar may seem to make you richer, but in fact God’s way of give leads to greater blessings. Read Luke 12:15-21 of the man who used his great wealth for selfish purposes.

5. Is it important to leave an inheritance for your children when you die? Proverbs 13:22.

This too follows God’s way of give. Occasionally you hear older people say, “We’re spending our kids’ inheritance!” as they indulge in purchasing some luxury. That often lighthearted sentiment actually reveals a selfish, nonbiblical attitude toward money. God says to keep your children and even your future grandchildren in your financial plans!

Pitfalls of Wealth—and the Solution

Let’s now look at some of the common problems that money can cause—and get the Bible’s solution.

1. What dangers await the person who lusts after money? 1 Timothy 6:9-10. What does God suggest to the person who has great wealth? Verses 17-19.

Greed drives people to do terrible, unethical things. Verse 10 should read “a root” (money is not the cause of every evil, but it is one cause for all sorts of evil). As we will see from other scriptures, God wants to ensure that physical riches are used correctly and never become more important than spiritual riches.

2. Another mistake is to covet possessions. In order to get things they do not have the money for, many people borrow the money or charge the expense to a credit card. Is that wise? What does God say about borrowing, or going into debt? Proverbs 22:7.

Those who lend money, such as credit card companies, usually charge interest—an extra percentage of the debt for the “service” they provide. The greater your debt, the harder it is to pay for it! Just ask someone who is trying to get out of debt—it enslaves you!

3. What about get-rich-quick schemes, promising instant wealth for little labor? Proverbs 28:20, 22; 13:11.

Always be on guard against this classic appeal to greed and laziness! To avoid this trap, always be willing to work for your living (Proverbs 28:19).

4. Should money be your main reason for working? Proverbs 23:4-5. What effect can preoccupation with money have on a family? Proverbs 15:27. What does the Bible say to those who believe money will solve their problems? Ecclesiastes 5:12-16; Luke 12:15.

5. What will ultimately happen to the person who trusts in his possessions? Proverbs 11:28. Where should your heart be instead? Matthew 6:19-21, 24.

It is easy to become materialistic, preoccupied with money and things, because as a human being, you are material—made of flesh and blood. But God cautions against putting physical riches above spiritual riches. Read the story in Matthew 19:16-26 of the man who turned away from Christ because he wasn’t willing to give up his “great possessions.” You must be willing, if necessary, to give up anything to follow God! Being unwilling to do this amounts to idolatry, which is breaking the First Commandment (Exodus 20:3).

6. What are some biblical examples of things that are more important than physical wealth? Proverbs 16:16; 22:1; 15:16; Psalm 119:72.

7. We all need money to live, but money issues can tend to take up too much of our thinking. What should our overall attitude be toward providing for our physical needs? Matthew 6:25-32.

Never allow money troubles to overwhelm your thinking. Trust God to provide.

8. What should our main goal in life be? Verse 33.

The bottom-line solution to many of the pitfalls of wealth, particularly the covetousness and greed it can arouse within us, is to seek first God’s Kingdom. Always make sure that God’s way of life, His law, His spiritual wealth, is most important in your life. That way, you can be sure that God will see to your other needs.

Final Advice

1. Should you be content with your physical state as it is? Philippians 4:11-12, 19; 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

Here is a secret of happiness. Most people, at all levels of income, believe they would be happier if they only had a little more money. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your station in life, but learn to enjoy just what you have. Proverbs 30:7-9 show great wisdom: It is a request that God provide an income exactly right for the person—so that he can avoid the pitfalls of being either too poor or too rich.

2. How can you tell if the blessings you receive are from God? Proverbs 10:22.

Worldly wealth can come by unwholesome means. But when God blesses you with riches, whether physical or spiritual, there will be no bad kickbacks or side effects. You will be able to fully enjoy them!

3. How important are your money-management skills to God? Luke 16:10-11.

Read the whole parable, beginning in verse 1. To be trusted with more exciting, grander assignments in the future, you must prove trustworthy in the smaller things today. How do you treat the blessings God gives you? Proper money management develops and demonstrates the qualities of character that God will need in His Kingdom. Care for your money and possessions—and keep them in perspective—and the riches God will ultimately give you will stagger your imagination!

President Trump’s Wall, a Mexican Standoff and World War III

President Trump’s Wall, a Mexican Standoff and World War III

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Why Donald Trump’s trade war could lead to World War III

If United States President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech on January 20 was a pistol shot heard around the world, then the diplomatic spat with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto may foreshadow the first of many shootouts.

“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power,” America’s new president told his citizens during his first presidential speech. “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

“America first.”

The president continued: “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down” (emphasis added throughout).

In his speech, President Trump passionately identified problems: single mothers and children trapped in crime-ridden inner city poverty; an education system stuffed with money yet failing to educate; a broken economy that has left rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across America.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry …. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

Problems identified. But what about President Trump’s solutions?

Build the Wall

“The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of nafta with massive numbers …,” tweeted America’s president just days after his speech. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” he said.

It didn’t take long for President Nieto to respond.

Cancel it then.

“Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall.”

So what are we left with?

A good-old-fashioned Mexican standoff. Trump has promised a wall—paid for by Mexico. And Mexico’s president has said there is absolutely no way that is going to happen.

Both men are squinting down the barrel of their six-shooters. Trump can’t put his gun down because it is a fight he has picked. And Nieto can’t holster his either because paying for the wall is simply unthinkable in Mexico.

Thus the current impasse.

President Trump doesn’t seem to view it that way though. Instead, his hand seems to be sliding toward his other holster. At a news conference on Friday, President Trump said Mexico “has outnegotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. I’m not going to let that happen.” The wall is going up whether Mexico likes it or not. And Mexico will pay one way or the other. Options include prohibiting Mexicans living in the U.S. from sending money home (remittances are Mexico’s most important source of foreign income), or taxing it, or increasing tariffs on imports from Mexico, or canceling trade agreements altogether.

President Trump isn’t just bluffing either. Just three days after taking office, he cancelled America’s participation in the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (tpp) trade agreement. “President Trump is committed to renegotiating nafta” too, says the White House website. “If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the president will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from nafta.”

The president has also bulled his way into European trade politics. On June 28, 2016, he told British Prime Minister Theresa May that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will be a “wonderful thing” and offered her a desperately needed fast-track trade deal. As Richard Palmer reported on Tuesday (“Germany Sees Donald Trump as an Enemy”), this angered many European bureaucrats—and in particular, Germany. In contrast, President Barack Obama did everything he could to keep the European Union together, including lending hundreds of billions of dollars to Europe during the 2008 financial crisis. Regarding Britain, President Obama warned that if it left the Union, it would have to get to the back of the queue of nations wanting to trade with America.

President Trump is far less accommodating to Europe. Just days into his presidency, he put a handgun to the temple of German vehicle manufacturer bmw. Cars imported to the U.S. from any new factory in Mexico would be pistol-whipped with a 35 percent tax.

Then he told two European papers: “The EU was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? I don’t really care whether it’s separate or together.”

Yes, the president better have a lot of guns in his waistband and a knife or two as well, if he keeps picking fights the way he has.

As Charles Krauthammer noted on January 20, the president’s inauguration speech is not going overlooked around the world. “And I guarantee you that they are quaking in their boots in foreign capitals, particularly of our allies and trading partners,” he said.

The way that Trump spoke about the outside world was the most aggressive, most hyper-nationalist, and in some ways most hostile of any inaugural address I think since the Second World War. What Trump pointed out, what he drew was a picture of a zero-sum world where what we done for the world, they have been stealing from us.

“We’ve always said that America is our best friend,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the association of European finance ministers, told The New York Times. “If that’s no longer the case, if that’s what we need to understand from Donald Trump, then of course Europe will look for new friends.”

“China is a very strong candidate for that,” he added.

And with Donald Trump so openly critical of nato, expect the Europeans to start looking to defend themselves once again—economically and otherwise. Nato is “obsolete,” says Mr. Trump.

The post-World War ii order is ending. There is a new American sheriff in town. And judging by the gunslingers he’s recruiting, he has something big planned.

Robert Lighthizer is America’s new tough trade negotiator. Lighthizer worked under President Ronald Reagan to reduce America’s trade deficit. He did that by shooting holes in the dollar to make Japanese and German imports more expensive.

Then there is Peter Navarro, who Mr. Trump appointed to lead a completely new White House office overseeing American trade and industrial policy. On January 31, he called out Germany for suppressing the value of the euro to “exploit” the U.S. and the rest of the eurozone. He also accused “cheating China” of destroying U.S. manufacturing by flooding the country with “contaminated, defective and cancerous” goods. Navarro wrote the books The Coming China Wars and Death by China.

And don’t forget Wilbur Ross the new commerce secretary, who some say is more of a corporate bandit. The successful billionaire may be best known for making a fortune when steep tariffs on Chinese steel made his American mills and coal assets more competitive. It will be his job to coordinate trade policy.

So pity the poor foreigners that President Trump says has been taking advantage of America. A new vision governs the land: walls, barriers, protectionism, nationalism, trade tariffs and American jobs.

‘America First’

President Trump has correctly identified many of the problems plaguing America. Working to keep jobs in America is a good thing. Fixing the problem requires addressing why so many companies want to move out of America in the first place. President Trump’s plan to reduce burdensome government and simplify regulations is a positive step in that direction. That will reduce the cost of doing business in America and create more jobs.

But the reality is that there are a whole host of other factors making U.S. businesses less competitive. And unless those causes are addressed, American workers will continue to suffer.

This is something Herbert W. Armstrong was warning about as far back as the 1970s. In a 1971 Plain Truth magazine, he wrote about how American workers were the richest in the world, but were shooting themselves in the foot.

When American workers are trying to get all they can get—and at the same time giving as little as they can get away with—even to giving nothing … and Japanese and German workers, in their national interest, are working for half the wages or less, and working with the fervor of loyalty and patriotism, it means we are headed one of two ways:Either we start raising high tariff barriers against other countries, starting a trade war which in time will trigger the nuclear war that will destroy us—or, American workers are going to have to meet the competition of the workers in other countries, by lowering living standards. Obviously American workers are not going to choose to do the latter.And if they don’t—well, the handwriting is on the wall.

President Trump’s America is moving toward trade confrontation instead of trade cooperation—and that is a huge step in the wrong direction.

No one wins a trade war. Some lose less than others, but everyone still loses. It is kind of like a Mexican standoff gone bad. After the gun smoke clears, even if you are the last man standing, a lot of the blood on the floor is still yours.

In a world with nuclear weapons, no one will be left standing.

For information on what the Bible says about trade wars impacting America and Britain and where it will lead, read “Trade War and America’s Collapse

Trump Exposes Germany’s Exploitation of Europe

Trump Exposes Germany’s Exploitation of Europe

PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s manipulation of the euro was rarely discussed. Until Donald Trump arrived.

United States President Donald Trump took another shot at Germany on Tuesday. Peter Navarro, the head of Mr. Trump’s newly created National Trade Council, criticized Berlin for using the euro “to exploit other countries.”

According to Mr. Navarro, “a big obstacle to viewing ttip [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] as a bilateral deal is Germany, which continues to exploit other countries in the [European Union] as well as the U.S. with an ‘implicit deutsche mark’ that is grossly undervalued.” This observation, as the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard noted, is exactly right. In his piece “Trump Is Right: Germany Is Running an Illegal Currency Racket”, Evans-Pritchard explained:

As a matter of strict objective fact, Donald Trump’s trade guru is correct. Germany is the planet’s ultimate currency manipulator.The implicit deutsche mark is indeed “grossly undervalued.” The warped mechanism of monetary union allows Germany to lock in a permanent ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ trade advantage over Southern Europe, inflicting mass unemployment on the victim countries and blighting their futures. Whatever you think of Peter Navarro’s trade philosophy, he is right that Germany’s chronic, huge and illegal current account surplus—8.8 percent of gdp [Gross Domestic Product]—saps global demand and seriously distorts the world economy.

Evans-Pritchard provides a refreshingly honest view of a reality that few—until Peter Navarro came along—seem prepared to publicly discuss. As Evans-Pritchard explains, there is a massive double-standard when it comes to Germany and trade, especially with other European countries. Berlin runs a trade surplus far above what EU law permits. It’s “not even close to compliance,” he writes. “Yet nothing is ever done about it. Germany flouts the law with impunity, even as it lectures others on the rule of law.”

Now Donald Trump has come along and exposed Germany’s exploitation of the euro and Europe’s economies. The Trump administration’s view of Germany is almost the complete opposite to that of Barack Obama. At the end of his term, Mr. Obama said his administration had “no closer friend” than German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Compare that view with Mr. Trump’s, who less than two weeks into his presidency has shown himself more than willing to criticize Germany and the European Union.

Germany’s most influential newsmagazine, Spiegel, highlights this trend in its recent article “Trump’s Attack on Germany and the Global Economy.”

Senior executives in Germany have been keeping close tabs on the stream of visitors heading for an audience with Trump, full of concern and nervous about what the future might hold. They have refrained from speaking about Trump publicly, but internally, it’s the only thing they are talking about. There is significant fear that they too might become Trump targets. …

It’s possible Navarro’s comments are simply the first shot in an imminent trade war between America and Germany. As Spiegel writes:

The consequences of this radical political shift are not limited to the United States. When the world’s largest and most influential economy makes changes, the shock waves can be felt everywhere. A new economic world order is coming into being. And it is an attack on the German model.In his campaign speeches and tirades against globalization, Trump primarily identified China and Mexico as his enemies, but Germany, a nation of exports, is likely to be third on that list. No other large economy is more reliant on the free exchange of goods and services, on border-free trade and barrier-free exports, than the German economy.It is becoming apparent that Trump’s presidency represents a break in the trans-Atlantic relationship, the kinds of which hasn’t been seen since World War ii. With a U.S. president who openly threatens a German carmaker with punitive tariffs of 35 percent, one who warns that the Germans were “very unfair to the U.S.,” it could even mark a shift from friendship to animosity. In corporate headquarters and in Angela Merkel’s chancellery, executives and government officials are considering how best to stand up to this challenge. Is it better to remain composed and unperturbed, relying on rationality, on the strength of decades of ties and on the rules of the global economy? Or would it be better to prepare countermeasures, search for new allies in, for example, Asia or perhaps even to take advantage of the vacuum that is being created?

As we said earlier this week, “Germany is in panic mode.” Its economy is heavily reliant on exports, and the idea of trade with the United States being hampered is a paralyzing thought. Spiegel sums up that fear, “If the world’s most powerful man isolates the U.S. domestic market, German economic growth, depending on the scope of Trump’s trade barriers, could shrink by up to three-quarters of a point.”

Germany is considering every option to counter what could be a huge hit to its economy. One option is for Berlin to begin to limit trade with the U.S. and develop stronger trade relations with other markets, especially in the Far East. Spiegel writes:

A little under six years ago, the EU reached an initial trade deal with South Korea. Since then, German exports to the country have risen by around 50 percent. But improved ties with China would hold even greater promise. A new Berlin-Beijing alliance could—in part, at least—supplant the old trans-Atlantic order. The importance of the Chinese economy has been growing for years now among its neighbors. With Trump’s election, China is now likely to attract countries that had previously been anchored in the trans-Atlantic alliance. Europe isn’t just closer to China when it comes to issues like climate change, the Middle East or the Iran nuclear program. It may soon become closer on trade policy too.

Could China become Germany’s next big trade partner? Bible prophecy says yes! Stephen Flurry, the Trumpet’s executive editor, recently discussed this on his radio show, “Trump’s Immigration Order and the New Berlin-Beijing Alliance.”

Editor in chief Gerald Flurry has also forecast improved trade relations between Europe and Asia. In Ezekiel—The End-Time Prophet, Mr. Flurry explained that an alliance between the German-led European Union and the nations of Asia would develop, and that this alliance would precede the economic demise of the United States and Britain. This European-Asian trade bloc will serve as a massive economic counterweight to the U.S. and will eventually lead to America being pushed from the global market. Mr. Flurry writes that the German-led European Union will cooperate with “the Russians and the Chinese to besiege the Anglo-Saxon nations economically.”

Watch for America’s relationship with Germany to continue to deteriorate and for Germany to continue to draw closer to China. These trends in the news right now play right into some of the most dramatic prophecies in the Bible. To read more on this topic, read “Germany Sees Donald Trump as an Enemy” and “Trump, Germany and KT zu Guttenberg.”

Pope Francis Vanquishes the Knights of Malta

Pope Francis Vanquishes the Knights of Malta

Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Getty Images

A skirmish between the Vatican and a medieval order of Catholic knights unveiled a proxy war between reformists and traditionalists.

In an extraordinary display of papal power, Pope Francis has taken control of the Knights of Malta. To non-Catholics, this move may seem like an obscure intramural skirmish, but it has sent shock waves throughout the Roman Catholic world.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is recognized as a sovereign entity under international law, so the pope’s firing of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing amounts to a Vatican takeover of an autonomous state. This intrepid move sends a signal to Catholics around the world that Pope Francis isn’t afraid to play hardball with ultratraditionalists who oppose the way he is running the Catholic Church.

While the Knights of Malta was founded during the First Crusade to protect Christian pilgrims from Islamic persecution, it has since evolved into a global humanitarian organization with over 100,000 staff members and volunteers. Yet the tiny clique of around 50 professed “knights” who lead the order is still drawn from the aristocratic families of Europe.

The situation that led to Festing’s firing started in 2005, when the “foreign minister” of the Knights of Malta, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager, allegedly oversaw a humanitarian project in Myanmar that distributed condoms to the local population. This action violated the Catholic moral teaching against artificial contraceptives.

Baron von Boeselager is the son of Baron Philipp von Boeselager, a participant in the 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler, and the husband of Baroness Praxedis von Guttenberg, the aunt of current Christian Social Union politician Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg of Germany. Due to Boeselager’s alleged role in the Myanmar scandal, Festing demanded his resignation in a meeting held on Dec. 6, 2016. Also present for Boeselager’s dismissal was American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Knights of Malta. Burke is perhaps the most influential critic of Pope Francis’s approach to Catholic moral teachings, especially on the subject of Catholic divorce and remarriage.

Because Boeselager has a close relationship with German Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, however, the German aristocrat was able to appeal his dismissal to Pope Francis. The pope decided to put together a committee to investigate whether or not Boeselager’s dismissal was warranted, but Festing refused to cooperate with any investigation. He said the investigation violated the sovereignty of the Knights of Malta. This refusal to cooperate with the Vatican prompted Pope Francis to demand Festing’s resignation on January 24.

When Festing officially resigned four days later, he became the first grand master to relinquish his position in 218 years. The last grand master to abdicate was Ferdinand Hompesch in 1799, after French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Malta.

After Festing’s resignation, Pope Francis declared all recent decisions by the group’s leadership to be “null and void.” Boeselager was reinstated as “foreign minister,” and Boeselager’s friend Ludwig Hoffmann von Rumerstein was instated as interim grand master until Festing’s official replacement can be chosen.

The reaction to the sacking of Festing reveals the definite divide between ultratraditionalists who oppose Pope Francis and progressive reformers who support him. While the ultratraditionalists paint Francis’s intervention as an autocratic violation of the rule of law, supporters of the pope say his decision to appoint a delegate to govern the Knights of Malta brings a chance for needed reform. The president of the Knights of Malta’s German Association, Prince Erich von Lobkowicz, described the struggle between Boeselager and Festing as “a battle between all that Pope Francis stands for and a tiny clique of ultraconservative frilly old die-hards in the church—die-hards that have missed the train in every conceivable respect.”

Even though Cardinal Raymond Burke was absent for Grand Master Festing’s abdication, the entire legal drama between Boeselager and Festing is widely seen as a proxy war between Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke.

In 2014, Pope Francis removed Burke as head of the Vatican’s supreme court, the Apostolic Signatura, allegedly because of his opposition to Francis’s proposed reforms to Catholic moral teaching on divorce and remarriage. Since then Burke has been a prime mover behind a letter made public last November challenging the pope over the orthodoxy of his latest exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia. The attempt by Burke and Festing to remove Boeselager is seen as a power play to weaken Catholic reformist efforts within the Knights of Malta.

Pope Francis put an end to this power play with a display of papal power that few expected.

Over the course of his papacy, Francis has relaxed the rules on communion for Catholics in “irregular marriages,” and indicated that he is sympathetic to calls to end the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests. One German bishop even indicated that communion for non-Catholics with a Catholic spouse is a real possibility under Francis. Some in the traditionalist fringe of the Roman Catholic Church are opposing such reforms, yet such moves remove stumbling blocks on the way to ecumenical unity between Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations.

For over 40 years, until his death in 1986, Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong predicted that the Roman Catholic Church would pull its Protestant daughters and their Eastern Orthodox sisters back into its fold as it rose up to rule over a united Europe. The November 1963 Plain Truth stated:

The mighty problem of achieving unity is twofold. First, it involves reconciliation of the Orthodox schism that officially commenced in 1054 and divided the churches in the East—Greece, Russia, the Balkans and the Near East—from Rome. Second, it involves the restoration to the Roman Communion all Protestantism which developed from 1517 onward.

While Pope Francis has exhibited some willingness to make slight modifications to Catholic dogma in an attempt to draw more people into the Roman Catholic fold, he has also shown he is willing to use an extraordinary display of papal power to enforce his decisions. Regardless of what doctrinal modifications the Vatican implement’s in the months ahead, the way Protestant and Orthodox churches will be accepted back into the fold is by recognizing the authority of the papacy. The Vatican’s push for church unity, or ecumenism, actually reveals the Vatican’s imperial spirit and desire for dominance!

For more information on what the Bible has to say about the future reunification of Catholic, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox churches under the pope, read “Returning to the Fold” by Stephen Flurry.

Barack Obama Endorses Anti-Trump Protests

Barack Obama Endorses Anti-Trump Protests

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Former United States President Barack Obama issued a statement through his spokesman on Monday encouraging Americans to publicly protest President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting the immigration of refugees coming from seven Muslim-majority countries known for exporting jihadists.

According to the statement issued by Mr. Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis:

President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. In his final official speech as president, he spoke about the important role of citizen and how all Americans have a responsibility to be the guardians of our democracy—not just during an election but every day. Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.

Two days after President Trump signed his executive order, thousands of demonstrators rallied in more than 30 cities across the nation. Instead of calmly presenting their viewpoint, however, protestors in California blocked traffic in Los Angeles and shut down the international terminal of the San Francisco airport. With influential Democratic Party politicians like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders supporting such protests, it seems increasingly likely that they will develop into a permanent fixture in American society.

As the Trumpet’s contributing editor Brad Macdonald wrote in “Barack Obama’s Eternal Legacy”:

The most fundamental transformation President Obama accomplished can be seen in each of his actions: lawlessness. For eight years, the most important office in the U.S. government was occupied by a man who, rather than upholding the law of the land, chose to uphold the law of Barack Obama. Since its creation, the Constitution has been America’s ultimate authority, more powerful than even the president. Today, the U.S. Constitution remains influential, but less influential than the individual who sits behind the desk in the Oval Office.America today is a much different organism than it was on inauguration day Jan. 20, 2009, and it’s not going to be easy to transform it back to the way it was, much less to make it great. The easiest path to take will be to reverse some of Mr. Obama’s policies and laws, but to ignore the profound cultural and social transformations that have occurred. The truth is, the Obama years appealed to an ugly, destructive and powerful force: our lawless human nature. Ultimately, the only way to truly roll back the Obama years is to transform the hearts and attitudes of the American people.

The last six presidents—including President Obama—have used executive powers to temporarily ban certain immigrants, but these actions didn’t elicit the same hysterical response because the culture of America hadn’t yet gone through the “fundamental transformation” of the Obama years.

Today, the rule of law has disintegrated to the point where the nation is descending into a civil war between feuding political factions that put their trust not in a legal framework that protects their freedom, but in authoritarian politicians. A grand lesson we can learn from history is that once the habit of disregarding legality begins to spread, the rule of law begins to collapse. The end result is always the tyrannical rule of men.

The Cryptic Nationalist Group Steering Japan

The Cryptic Nationalist Group Steering Japan

Gary Dorning/Trumpet

Will the Nippon Kaigi group steer Japan into a repetition of World War II-era nationalism?
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

What if Germany elected a leader who was part of a radical nationalist group that believed Germany should no longer acknowledge that it committed war crimes during World War ii? What if that group said historic accounts of Germany massacring Jews and other groups were “either exaggerated or fabricated”? What if that group believed Germany should, in fact, be applauded for “liberating” Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and other nations during the war?

What if the stated goal of the organization was to return modern Germany to its World War ii-era “glory”?

And what if this German leader successfully stacked his cabinet with members of that same organization?

This is essentially the actual situation in Japan today. Yet the fact that more than half of Japan’s top leaders hold these beliefs regarding their country seems to attract little attention, especially outside of Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is a member of the Nippon Kaigi (“Japan Conference”), a somewhat secretive group determined to normalize the Japanese military, teach history in a way that cultivates patriotism in young students, and restore the imperial family as the center of Japanese life. Ten of Mr. Abe’s 19 cabinet members also belong to this shadowy organization.

Resentment Born in Defeat

Shintoism is the ancient animist religion native to Japan. Leading up to and during World War ii, State Shinto, intertwined with nationalism and militarism, was Imperial Japan’s national religion. State Shinto promoted an ideology of Japanese racial superiority and the notion that Emperor Hirohito was a divinity, destined to rule the entire world. The fanaticism of Imperial Japan’s soldiers—and civilians—was driven largely by these religious beliefs.

The toxicity of this faith rendered many Japanese incapable of surrendering—even when offered the chance while facing insurmountable odds.

After Japan’s defeat in 1945, the U.S.-led Allied Occupation sought to root out the Japanese radicalism that had caused so much suffering throughout East Asia. The Allies abolished State Shinto, forced Hirohito to publicly renounce the idea that he was a god, and wrote a new constitution for Japan, saying its people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right” and that they also renounce “the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”

After Tokyo’s defeat, most Japanese accepted the outcome and embraced the postwar realities, which included a prolonged period of extremely rapid economic growth and a surge in the general quality of life in Japan. Most Japanese were grateful to the American-led occupation for bringing prosperity, stability and democracy to the nation.

But not everyone was remorseful about Japan’s wartime behavior. Not everyone was willing to accept the war’s outcome, including the Allied Occupation. In the early 1970s, some who were resentful of Japan’s defeat formed a State Shinto revival group called Nihon wo Mamoru Kai. They championed the trashing of Japan’s pacifist constitution and a return to nationalism and emperor worship.

In 1997, this group merged with a similar nationalist organization called Nihono Mamoru Kokumin Kaigi. The two became Nippon Kaigi.

The United States Congressional Research Service concluded in a recent report that Nippon Kaigi believes that “Tokyo War Crimes tribunals were illegitimate,” that the Massacre of Nanking was either “exaggerated or fabricated,” and that “Japan should be applauded for liberating much of East Asia” during World War ii.

The Economist listed the following as Nippon Kaigi’s primary goals: “[A]pplaud Japan’s wartime ‘liberation’ of East Asia from Western colonialism; rebuild the armed forces; inculcate patriotism among students brainwashed by left-wing teachers; and revere the emperor as he was worshiped in the good old days before the war” (June 6, 2015).

Kobayashi Setsu, a former member of the group and one of Japan’s top constitutional scholars, said Nippon Kaigi members “have trouble accepting the reality that Japan lost the war.” This is in part because some of the group’s members are descendants of those who instigated the war. Many, Setsu says, openly long for the days of Japan’s great-power status.

This is the group influencing the most powerful people in Japan.

Today, Nippon Kaigi has only around 38,000 full members. Yet it wields influence far beyond its membership rolls because its network reaches deeply into the various echelons of government.

Besides Prime Minister Abe, many other government officials also belong to Nippon Kaigi, including Mr. Abe’s deputy prime minister; his state ministers of defense, foreign affairs, education, health, reconstruction, and his chief cabinet secretary; and 289 of the 480 members of the Diet, Japan’s parliament. Other Nippon Kaigi members include numerous state and local lawmakers, renowned academics and authors, media moguls, leading Shinto priests, titans of industry, high-ranking diplomats and military officers, the great-grandson of Emperor Meiji and former Prime Minister Tarō Asō. Even a famous former sumo wrestler is among the group’s ranks. Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, who became governor of Tokyo in July, is another highly influential member. The former head of Nippon Kaigi was the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Japan.

Why So Little Coverage?

For decades, Nippon Kaigi received little attention in Japan’s mainstream media, and even less outside of the country. That changed in spring of last year when researcher Tamotsu Sugano published an exposé called Nippon Kaigi No Kenkyu (A Study on the Japan Conference). The book sold more than 153,000 copies, making it a surprise bestseller and bringing Nippon Kaigi’s vast influence out of the shadows.

Sugano’s book shows that Nippon Kaigi’s main accomplishment has been uniting various nationalist organizations within a like-minded program. “Throughout 40 years of history,” he said, “it has been sending almost the same message and focusing on the same priority: educating the young generation.”

On January 6, in a rare and telling move, a Tokyo court ordered the book’s publisher to suspend all publication of A Study on the Japan Conference on the grounds that it contained defamatory information. The Japan Times noted on January 7, “It is rare for a court to suspend publication of a bestseller in Japan.”

Opponents of Nippon Kaigi say the court’s decision fits with the idea that the group wields considerable influence to suppress those who seek to expose that very influence.

Nippon Kaigi’s Accomplishments

The Economist said Nippon Kaigi has proved itself to have “a formidable ability to mobilize.” A major example of this came in 2006 when the group collected 3.6 million signatures demanding judicial reforms that would legally require schools to teach patriotism to students. The signatures were enough to pass the controversial legislation, which helped to ban “left wing” curricula and to reinstate the traditions of standing for Japan’s Hinomaru flag and singing the national anthem.

“Enacting a law with this requirement was one of the few things that Mr. Abe accomplished in his first, inglorious term as prime minister from 2006 to 2007,” the Economist said.

Around the same time, Nippon Kaigi played a vital role in convincing the government to restore April 29, the birthday of wartime Emperor Hirohito, as an official national holiday.

Sugano says it is clear that without Nippon Kaigi, Mr. Abe would not have been successful in returning to politics after his resignation in 2007 convinced many that his political career was finished. But with the group’s guidance and backing, Mr. Abe returned in 2012 and has gone on to win another two consecutive national elections.

Writing for the Daily Beast on July 9, 2016, Jake Adelstein and Mari Yamamoto said Nippon Kaigi was also instrumental in “getting the Japanese government to reinstitute the Imperial Calendar, which was banished by the U.S. occupation government.” That change means that while it is 2017 in the Western world, in Japan, it is year 29 of the Heisei Period. Adelstein and Yamamoto wrote, “The system is so confusing that many reporters in Japan carry a handy chart to translate the Imperial Calendar dates into Western time.”

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of Nippon Kaigi’s power came in the summer of 2015, when the Diet held heated debates about whether the country should have a right to collective self-defense. Sugano says the crucial factor in delivering victory to those arguing to restore that military capability was the testimony of three leading constitutional scholars. All three were Nippon Kaigi members or affiliates.

This victory equated to a milestone “reinterpretation” of the Constitution that expanded Japan’s military role abroad. Some 14 months later, in a clear indication that history is on the march, Japan’s first armed soldiers since the end of World War ii deployed overseas.

With Japan’s economic and industrial excellence, all it lacks to transform its defense forces into a nuclear-armed world-class military is will. Nippon Kaigi members have that missing element in abundance.

What Lies Ahead?

The Economist noted that Nippon Kaigi’s opponents have been impressed by the success that the group and its affiliates have had in “quietly transform[ing] the landscape of Japanese politics” (op cit). Yet Nippon Kaigi members themselves “are frustrated over what they see as the slow pace of change,” it wrote.

That pace, however, could soon pick up. As of July 2016, Mr. Abe, his Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners have a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet. This unprecedented double supermajority makes Mr. Abe the most powerful Japanese prime minister in postwar history.

Some analysts have argued that since Nippon Kaigi’s membership is comprised overwhelmingly of older individuals, it will soon die out and doesn’t need to be feared. But the age factor could infuse Mr. Abe and other members with greater urgency to return Japan to its war-era “glory.”

“I don’t think many people have grasped yet what is happening in Japan,” said Tawara Yoshifumi, head of the nonprofit group Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21. “The situation is very dangerous.” Tessa Suzuki, a professor of modern Japanese history at Australian National University, agrees. She told the Japan Times she is “enormously concerned about the way Japan is going.”

National Review columnist Josh Gelernter said July 16, 2016, that “it would probably be a good idea [for America] … not to stand idly by while our most important Asian ally, and the second-richest democracy in the world, reverts to fascism.”

Nippon Kaigi’s “strength is growing,” said Norihiro Kato, professor emeritus of Waseda University. “And there is no telling when its members might start saying what really is on their mind: ‘Take Back Japan From America’” (New York Times, Sept. 12, 2014).

A Prophesied Resurgence

In 1971, when even Nippon Kaigi’s forerunner groups were little more than whispers among closet nationalists, educator Herbert W. Armstrong predicted that Japan would awake from its postwar slumber, cast off the pacifism the U.S. imposed on it, and return to formidable militarism. “Japan today has no military establishment,” he wrote. “But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly” (Plain Truth, March 1971).

Mr. Armstrong’s view was informed by Bible prophecy. He understood that Japan would be a key part of a massive end-time Asian military power bloc that the Bible calls “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). Ezekiel 38:6 specifies that “Gomer” and “Togarmah” will be part of this power bloc. These are ancient names for the main peoples that make up modern Japan.

For decades, Mr. Armstrong’s forecast could have seemed alarmist to many Japanese and students of geopolitics. But now, in part because of the rise of Nippon Kaigi, that forecast no longer appears far-fetched. Today, as we face the prospect of nationalists and hard-liners dismantling Japan’s pacifist architecture and leading a revival of the nationalism, militarism and emperor worship that made Japan an unusually ruthless military machine.