The Crisis at the Close of This Age

The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the October 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Non-Christians—and today even many professing Christians—scoff at the idea of the prophesied intervention of Jesus Christ. “There have always been prophets of doom,” the skeptics say. “People thought the world was coming to an end in the Middle Ages when the Black Death struck Europe.”

These skeptics do not understand God’s timetable of prophecy. The end of man’s rule must, and will, come as God has scheduled it. Though some had ignorantly thought otherwise, the end of man’s rule was not due in the Middle Ages.

Every prophecy has a definite time setting—usually not in the prophet’s own day. Most prophecies of the Bible are for our time!

Jesus taught that there is a timetable of prophecy—that certain specific events must occur in the months and years before He returns to rescue humanity from annihilation. Let’s begin to understand these prophecies. Let’s learn exactly what the world’s greatest newscaster foretold for this end-time generation!

The Beginning of Sorrows

1. While sitting on the Mount of Olives, Christ’s disciples questioned Him about His Second Coming (Matthew 24:3). Did Jesus foretell that many deceivers would arise to deceive many people before His return? Verses 4-5, 11, 24.

2. What are these so-called ministers of Christ called elsewhere? Are they the ministers of the archdeceiver himself? 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Are they themselves deceived—and is the whole world deceived as a result of their activities? Revelation 12:9.

3. What else did Christ say would occur in the end time besides the coming of many false prophets? Matthew 24:6-7.

Comment: The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. World War i began in 1914 and claimed 8.5 million lives. Then World War ii resulted in 55 million deaths. Moreover, according to author and professor of political science R.J. Rummel, totalitarian governments slaughtered 170 million people for ethnic, racial, tribal, religious or political reasons. Nation has continued to rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Just since World War ii alone, there have been over 225 armed conflicts in 148 countries! We are now fast approaching the third and final world war!

4. But are these events Jesus foretold only the beginning of sorrows? Matthew 24:7-8.

Comment: In addition to wars and false prophets, Jesus also foretold an increase in earthquakes, famines, and disease pandemics. This “beginning of sorrows” is also pictured by the first four “seals” of Revelation 6:1-8.

These four seals—what are commonly referred to as the four horsemen of the apocalypse—represent the four major world conditions Jesus said would exist at the end of this age—all increasing in severity and overlapping in their effects on the entire world!

The white horse represents the increasing number of false ministers preaching a false Christ and false ways to “salvation.” The red horse pictures the increasing tempo of the ravages of wars. The black horse—increasing famine. And the pale horse—rampaging diseases. For a more detailed description of these sorrows, request our free booklet The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

But let’s not forget that man is bringing this horrible suffering and death upon himself! Jesus knew that man, left to his own devices, would severely afflict himself and ultimately destroy all life—unless something totally unforeseen occurred to stop it. That is why He has promised to intervene in world affairs. Jesus Christ is coming soon to rescue the world from itself because man has reached the end of his rope!

The Great Tribulation

1. How is the fifth seal described? Revelation 6:9-11. What else did Jesus say about this time of religious persecution? Luke 21:12-17. What will happen to Judah and Jerusalem at this time? Verses 20-24.

At this point we need to understand the principle of prophetic duality. Many prophecies have a former, typical fulfillment, and then a final fulfillment in the end time. Some thought that Jerusalem’s destruction by the Gentile Roman armies in a.d. 70 was the fulfillment of this prophecy. But a.d. 70 was not “the end”! The presence of Roman armies in Jerusalem in a.d. 70 was only a type of what is to occur in the near future. The Roman legions that conquered Jerusalem then were only a type of modern legions that soon will again surge through the Middle East.

2. Will this future military action in the Middle East threaten to engulf the whole world? Matthew 24:15-21 (compare Luke 21:20).

3. Will this time that ensues—a time of unequaled strife and bloodshed involving weapons of modern warfare, called the Great Tribulation—threaten to utterly extinguish all life on Earth? Verse 22.

4. Who is responsible for inspiring this nightmarish time of tribulation on the whole world? Revelation 12:12. Why will the devil be extremely angry at this time? Same verse, last part.

Comment: This period of great tribulation is the time of Satan’s wrath. It will be unleashed not only on the Church of God, but also on the modern descendants of ancient Israel (request our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy to learn who those people are today) and on the whole world.

5. Does God promise to protect those who faithfully keep His Word and do His work? Revelation 3:7-8, 10.

6. A “woman” is sometimes used as a symbol for a church (see 2 Corinthians 11:1-2; Ephesians 5:23-32). Will God provide a place of safety for the end-time true Church where it will be protected from the devil? (the “dragon”—Revelation 12:9). Revelation 12:13-14.

Comment: This end-time prophecy shows that God’s faithful people will be taken to a place on Earth untouchable by Satan, protected from the devastation of the world around them. Regardless of where this place may be, God’s promise to take His obedient people there is sure!

However, some of God’s people will not receive this protection, and will have to experience this period of Satan’s wrath to wake them up spiritually (Revelation 3:14-19; 12:17). Request our free book Malachi’s Message for an in-depth scriptural explanation of this sobering truth.

Signs of God’s Intervention

1. How is the sixth seal described? Revelation 6:12-13. Where else are these events depicted? Matthew 24:29. How soon after the fifth seal is fulfilled does this occur? Same verse, first word.

Comment: The signs in heaven (the sixth seal) take place immediately after the fifth seal—the period known as the Great Tribulation.

2. Are these signs a warning that the “day of the Lord,” or the seventh seal—the time of God’s direct intervention to stop the destructive ways of man—is about to begin? Joel 2:30-31; Zephaniah 1:14-15, 18.

3. What is the reason for these punishments from God? Is it really a manifestation of God’s love for humanity? Notice the principle in Hebrews 12:5-8. To what purpose will God’s punishments be directed? 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9.

Comment: This “day of the Lord” is mentioned in over 30 prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments. Although a time of divine chastisement, this period culminates in the return of Jesus Christ to finally bring world peace!

What to Do With Germany?

Berlin is surging in power! Finally some observers are asking hard questions about the direction it is going.
From the October 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

One of the great constants about biblical prophecy is that if you wait long enough, it will eventually become today’s headline news. It’s inevitable.

Skeptics, doubters, those blinded to the truth, may even then deny the reality that those headlines proclaim. But this is no surprise, for the Almighty Himself declared it would be so: “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them” (John 12:40).

Humankind is about to learn a powerful lesson. The Creator that man has ignored, rejected and generally rebelled against from creation to this day is preparing for the inevitable: the fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s Olivet prophecy, particularly that of His direct intervention in the affairs of this world to save man from blowing himself and all life off this planet: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).

But before God intervenes to save mankind from this fate, there are a people on this planet who are destined to feel the correction of their Creator in a very direct and personal way. They are the people of least excuse for their rejection of Almighty God—for they were once the direct recipients of His law, statutes and judgments designed to show man how to live according to the intention of his Maker. In fact, in recent history, they have been the most blessed people on Earth.

Anciently, these folk were labeled Israelites. They consisted of 12 individual tribes that developed into separate nations. They can be found today populating the United States, Britain, Israel, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Nordic countries, parts of the Baltic, France, Belgium and the Netherlands and include many of the whites of South Africa. For proof of this reality, request our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

But of all these peoples, the Anglo-Saxon and the Jewish nations are prophesied to suffer particularly drastic correction by God for their sins.

And there is one nation that God has reserved to deliver that correction. Biblically, it is identified as Assyria. Today, we call that nation Germany.

“The Wolf on the Fold”

Lord Byron aptly described the blitzkrieg nature of the Assyrian at war in one line in his poem “The Destruction of Sennacherib.” Of the storming of Sennacherib, Byron declared, “The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold.”

That lightning-strike approach to warfare has since been demonstrated by the descendents of those ancient Assyrians when motivated to war in more recent times.

The Daily Reckoning summed up that history this way: “The Teuton tribes are an aggressive lot. The Usipetes, Tenchteri, Batavi, Cherusci, Chatti, Vandals, Goths, Franks, Alans, Suebians—all jostled each other for centuries. … And when Rome wheezed her last gasps they fell on her like French tax collectors on a widow’s estate. The Vandals pushed all the way across Gaul and Iberia, crossed to North Africa, and from their new base in Carthage, continued to tickle the old empire until it rolled over on them” (August 20).

Thus was formed the Holy Roman Empire.

Well, one might say, more power to the Teutons. But the past is the past, and Germany has since proven itself a changed nation, peace-loving and democratic, just like us!

Well, is that so?

The same source observed, “It has been 65 years since Europe’s last major war. Still, when Germany gets up off its knees, the Continent trembles.

“Last week, the Berlin government announced the best results since the Wall fell in ‘89. From the first quarter to the second one the republic’s gdp rose 2.2 percent. At that rate—about 9 percent a year if it continues—Germany is running neck and neck with China. Compared to France and the U.S., Germany is flying nearly four times as fast.”

Teutonic approach to warfare, Teutonic approach to its economy. Same people, same attitude, same lightning achievements—be it in war or business.

What is really happening today in Germany, a nation that so powerfully impacted the 20th century? How is Germany already affecting the present century, and what will it do in the near future? Will Germany be content to “fly four times as fast” as the U.S. and France economically alone, or will it seek to transfer that powerful economic clout into offensive military power yet again? Will Germany revert to its ancient Assyrian, Teutonic type, yet again?

Serious foreign-policy minds with a view to history are now asking that question.

An Opportunity to Act

In the August-September issue of European Affairs, Dr. Jackson Janes asked, “During the last two decades the political and economic geometry of Europe has altered in favor of a more dominant position for Germany. … The current economic crisis has reaffirmed German dominance in the European Central Bank (ecb) and in almost all key economic and financial policy choices of the eurozone and the EU overall. … During the 20 years since German unification … Germany [has] increasingly [taken] de facto command of Europe’s economic choices.”

Jackson Janes is executive director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, d.c. He sums up Germany’s achievements as follows: “Right now, Germany has a Europe it likes. Unification was achieved along with a strong economic position, limited exchange-rate risks and a degree of discipline enacted in the Growth and Stability Pact. Also it has the largest weight in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers under the rules set by the Lisbon Treaty. And the current arrangements suit a Berlin that has become less ambitious about a more centralized European structure—especially after the decision last year by Germany’s Supreme Court to limit increased control by Brussels over German sovereignty” (ibid.).

Now that the wraps are off and Germany’s rapid rise to dominance in Europe has become undeniable, questions are again being raised as to its intentions beyond Europe.

A rash of recent headlines spotlighted Germany’s rapid gain of financial, industrial and economic power even as the U.S. continues to slide off its superpower perch. With America having substantially drawn down its presence in Europe over the past 20 years and now withdrawing from Iraq in addition to planning withdrawal from Afghanistan, will Germany—given its global industrial, financial and economic power—be able to resist converting that into military power? Someone has to fill the increasing security vacuum being left by a rapidly weakening America. Germany will not like either Russia or China getting the jump on the Fatherland in the wake of American weakness. For Germany to not react would be to risk its presence as a global power in all but military assertiveness and to be taken quick advantage of by these two competitive powers.

Germany will simply be forced to act, and to act soon, to raise its international profile as a military power on a par with its global economic weight. Otherwise it will not be taken seriously by a world that only recognizes might as right!

But there is more to this than would appear. For Germany’s elites have deliberately pursued a different strategy in their third try at global domination.

Consider the history.

Releasing the Genie

Though Germany ceased to exist as a global power when the nation surrendered to the Allies on May 8, 1945—its economy in ruins, its military power shattered and its society completely demoralized—the elite visionaries behind the Nazi dream of world conquest did not give up their goal at that point. In fact, as is well documented, they simply went underground to allow the dust of war to settle before quietly emerging to reconstruct the nation into the powerhouse economy it is today.

The German captains of industry rebuilt their shattered factories and industrial empires courtesy of American largesse via the Marshall Plan. Many operatives of the German secret service under Hitler simply transferred their allegiance—at least publicly—to the British, American and Russian secret services. Much of the Nazi gold and other booty were spirited out of Germany via numerous avenues—not the least being Vatican and Swiss banks—to accounts that would later be drawn on by those seeking to finance a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

The result, with implicit support from Germany’s old Anglo-Saxon enemies, was what became known as the German Wirtschaftswunder—the economic miracle of the rapid German rebound from abject defeat in World War ii to the most prosperous nation in Europe.

During the 1950s, with the Anglo-Saxons running scared of what they perceived as an aggressive eastward and southward push by imperialist Soviet-style communism, the U.S. and Britain believed their only hope of stemming the rising Communist tide from sweeping across Europe to the Atlantic was to create a bridgehead at the line that divided Soviet East Germany from the democratic West. This they did by rearming their former enemy barely a decade after having totally dismantled its military forces.

The new German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, were formed in 1955. The same year, Germany joined nato.

From that point, Germany behaved like a typical democracy. It built a strong export base for its rapidly burgeoning industry and relied on nato for its national security. It was deliberately constrained to building a strong national defense establishment for the sole purpose of securing its national borders from within its own territory.

This continued for 34 years as West Germany thrived economically while its counterpart in the east remained in economic stagnation under the Communist boot heel.

Then something happened on Nov. 9, 1989, that would change the whole face of German politics. The Berlin Wall, the symbolic division between the Communist East and the free West, came tumbling down.

The old genie was released.

What to Do With Germany?

The German reunification that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall resulted in a 20-year drive by German elites to place a newly united Germany at the top of the pile in Europe.

By December 2009, Germany was the leading European economy by far: Europe’s top export nation; its greatest financial power; its strongest political force; and its most aggressively expanding military power in terms of active involvement outside its borders.

These are all clearly demonstrable, inarguable facts of Germany’s postwar history. And they raise a question. It’s an old question that has periodically arisen ever since Aug. 6, 1806, when Franz ii, the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, dissolved that empire and capitulated to Napoleon. It raised its head again in 1918 when the Allied nations met at Versailles to conclude an armistice with a Germany that had instigated the greatest war in history to that time. Yet again, it arose when the Allies met at Potsdam in August 1945 after Germany’s defeat in the second of two world wars that Germany had initiated in the first half of the 20th century.

The question is, what to do with Germany? More importantly, what to do with a united Germany? For history has shown that is the real danger.

While Germany lay divided among the numerous competing local rulers of its various states, their own divisions and jealousies kept them warring among themselves and not against other nations. But when Germany unites, that spells trouble.

That was the problem facing the Allies in Potsdam seeking to conclude a rational peace after the war. Germany as a single united nation had twice shown itself discontented to constrain its power to within its national borders. So they partitioned Germany, with the east going to Soviet Russian control, and the west to Anglo-Saxon dominance.

Now, we view Germany 20 years on from reunification. It is again the most powerful nation in Europe. It vies with China alone for the crown as the globe’s top export nation. It is to Germany that Europe and, indeed, the world looked when the Greek financial crisis erupted, threatening a domino effect around the globe.

It is Germany that forced the hand of unwilling national electorates to sign up to the Lisbon Treaty/European constitution. Amid continuing global financial crisis, it is Germany that has forced the implementation of a global financial controlling body on the world, the Financial Stability Board. It is a German-dominated EU that in turn dominates the body that now sets economic policy for the world, the G-20.

What to do with Germany today?

Well, it’s really too late to ask the question. The horse has bolted. Germany is back strutting the world stage as a global power and gearing right now, believe it or not, to once again reinforce its military presence.

Conquest by Treaty

The German elites who are of the imperialist mindset that has prevailed over the centuries in the Teutonic quest for global dominance did not abandon their dream when their nation faced certain defeat in the closing stages of World War ii.

In fact, as a whole battery of authors and analysts has published over the years—from Sigrid Schultz in her revealing first-hand account Germany Will Try It Again, to more recent publications such as those of Bernard Connolly, Martin Lee, Rodney Atkinson, and that venerable confidante of Konrad Adenauer, Harry Beckhough—the imperialist vision of German elites was perpetuated and continued to be promulgated by those elites throughout the whole fabric and infrastructure of what we call today the European Union.

Yet, one thing those elites who backed the Kaiser and Hitler learned after the extent of their defeat in 1945 was that there had to be a better way to achieve their goal than by instigating outright war. Hence they chose treaties as their method, and the entity that has evolved from the establishment of the European Steel and Coal Community in 1951 into what is now in all but name a German-dominated European empire—the European Union—as the means.

Now, 60 years on from that first treaty, the Treaty of Paris, a whole array of 12 treaties, plus five acts of the European Parliament and one open-border agreement, have built an imperial European edifice of 27 nations into the greatest trading entity in the world. The latest treaty, the Lisbon Treaty, is but a European constitution cloaked in a deceptive title. This is the enabling document for the creation of a pan-European army!

Beyond Lisbon

Today, a united Germany sitting atop a united Europe lacks but two things to bring the elites’ dream of a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation to full reality: consolidated military power, and a binding ideology with which to control the minds of the masses.

Two individuals—the acts of each masked by a public facade of political and priestly contention and division—are working hard to achieve these objectives.

The one, Germany’s defense minister, the Bavarian Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is gaining headlines weekly by overtly touting for the elimination of military conscription. Pacifists, liberals and their fellow travelers welcome this as a further endorsement of the fiction that Germany has no aspiration to become a military power. Don’t believe it!

The facts are that Germany is on a drive to consolidate military industry continent-wide in Europe and build a strong military presence from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf, from Gibraltar to the Caucasus. It is already well advanced in doing so. Check theTrumpet.com archive for evidence. There’s plenty of it, and there will be more to come!

On the ideological front, another Bavarian, Pope Benedict xvi, watches the masses being distracted from reality by a liberal press lasciviously publicizing the pedophilia scandal within the Catholic Church. In the meantime, powerfully supported by an ultra-conservative curia built up by his predecessor, the pope quietly goes about building Rome’s power within the ranks of the giants in commerce, industry, banking and diplomacy in the European Union. It is they who will support and enforce the power of Rome when the pope rules in the future: There is coming a time when, if the masses want bread, they must first bow their knee to Rome (Revelation 13).

It is such overwhelming ideological, “religious” influence that will bind fractious Europe together for its brief moment of global power before its inevitable and final collapse.

Yet, as we always indicate, with the absolute confidence that is backed by the “more sure word of prophecy,” these current phenomena are building toward the greatest single event in the history of man—an event of which they are an ironclad sign of its imminence: the very return of your Savior to this world!

Do you really believe the words of Jesus Christ, the Savior of humankind? Then read and prove your belief! Read and study His great prophecy in Matthew 24, Mark 12 and Luke 21. Then read and believe His unbreakable guarantee for our time: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

Now there’s a message of real hope for our times!

‘Unconstitutional’?

The danger in the ruling against Proposition 8
From the October 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

According to Vaughn Walker, it was “unconstitutional” for Californians to vote to declare homosexual marriage illegal.

Why unconstitutional? In his ruling on Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Judge Walker criticized the moral reasoning behind Proposition 8, by which voters tried to prevent the institution of marriage from being legally redefined from what it has been for the whole of human history.

“The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples,” Walker wrote. This, he concluded, is an irrational basis for legislating against same-sex unions.

Religion and morality, in other words, must have absolutely no bearing on the law in these modern, secular United States.

This is the latest and most prominent example of an extraordinarily dangerous trend in American jurisprudence—and society in general: the effort to systematically, completely scrub God from public life.

Where Does Law Come From?

God is the Author of morality and law. “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy,” explained the Apostle James.

Biblical history shows God instructing man at various times in the particulars of His law. Just as the manufacturer of a sophisticated product includes an instruction manual, so the Creator of mankind provided detailed instructions on how to make life work—specifically, how to cultivate harmony between God and man, and with fellow man. He did not force man to work out on his own that murder, theft and deceit are wrong. He created sex, marriage and family, and then safeguarded them by forbidding all extramarital sex. He spelled these laws out, and later gave specific instructions on what to do to enforce those laws.

God is love, and His law represents His love (1 John 4:8; 5:3). His law is spiritual; it is holy, just and good (Romans 7:14, 12). Even the individual statutes and judgments enumerated in the Old Testament—though many no longer apply in letter today—illuminate the eternal principles of that law. As King David wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: … The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. … [T]he judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:7-9).

The fact is, the degree to which human beings obey the eternal spiritual law of God—whether or not they realize or understand it—will determine their success in their relationships with God and fellow man.

However, our rejection of that revealed knowledge, and our selfish desire to pursue the course of action that seems right to us, is as old as humanity itself. The first two people chose to discard God’s instructions and believe the deceitful serpent who seduced them with promises of the glittering potential of self-conceived wisdom.

That same serpent is at work in the hearts of men today (Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 12:9). As a result, Paul wrote, “[T]he mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot” (Romans 8:7, Revised Standard Version).

The notion that society would be better off if we only eliminated laws derived from “moral and religious views” vividly testifies of this carnal hatred for God’s law.

Scripture is filled with admonitions and warnings about the dangers of human reasoning cut off from God’s direction. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). A society that exalts rationalism and rejects divine revelation as the foundation for its laws is writing its own epitaph.

Right to Privacy?

The legal reasoning that led to Judge Walker’s ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is a revealing case study in how the human mind can justify lawlessness.

It shows contempt not only for the absolute, eternal law of God, but even for the law of the land that should guide court decision and limit judicial jurisdiction.

The ruling was built on a few ambiguous or problematic phrases that have accumulated in court opinions over the past 45 years or so. Within America’s precedent-based legal system, that shaky sequence of loaded language has been used to stretch and refashion the Fourteenth Amendment into a potent weapon with which liberal judges can force their twisted will on society.

The Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868 to safeguard the rights of the slaves freed after the Civil War. Part of it reads, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (emphasis mine throughout).

These two clauses—the promise not to deprive anyone of “liberty … without due process of law” and that of “equal protection” for all—are the two upon which Judge Walker based his legal argument.

The road from protecting the rights of freed slaves to banning voters from prohibiting homosexual “marriage” began with a single step.

In his 2005 book Men in Black, Mark Levin traces its origins to the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case, in which Justice William O. Douglas found a heretofore-nonexistent “right to privacy” in the “due process” clause. To strike down a law that prohibited the sale of contraceptives, Douglas argued that it deprived married couples “liberty.” He wrote—try to follow this—that “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.” That is smoke-and-mirrors phraseology. Penumbras and emanations are scientific terms without legal meaning—except as Douglas appropriated them to justify stretching the Fourteenth Amendment.

By finding a “right to privacy” in a penumbra of an emanation, Justice Douglas put his personal opinion above the law and struck a severe blow to the foundation of many other laws.

The invention of this right is a perfect example of the danger in flawed, self-justifying human reason. Essentially, the “right to privacy” as the court began to view it is a cloak for the “right” to commit crimes and to sin.

Obviously, many acts can occur in the privacy of one’s bedroom that are still illegal—rape or cooking up drugs, for example. As Justice Hugo Black wrote in his dissenting opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, “‘Privacy’ is a broad, abstract and ambiguous concept which can easily be shrunken in meaning but which can also, on the other hand, easily be interpreted as a constitutional ban against many things other than searches and seizures. … I like my privacy as well as the next one, but I am nevertheless compelled to admit that government has a right to invade it unless prohibited by some specific constitutional provision.”

Sure enough, the Griswold v. Connecticut decision enabled secularist thinking to wedge the door open for greater influence down the road.

“Unwarranted Governmental Intrusion”

Seven years later, the issue of contraceptives and unmarried couples came up in Eisenstadt v. Baird. Here the Supreme Court used the “equal protection” clause to say that if married people could have access to birth control, then so should single people.

The majority opinion predictably expanded the “right to privacy,” saying, “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” (The superfluous insertion of “whether to bear” a child, which had no connection to the case, proved significant the following year, 1973. In Roe v. Wade, the court relied on this thin justification to rule that the “right to privacy” included a woman’s right to abortion. Here is another example of legal language becoming a lethal weapon.)

Thus the court again exalted the justices’ personal preferences—a mere five unelected individuals—over the laws legitimately created by a state legislature elected by the people. Levin calls this a “quiet revolution against representative government.”

More fundamentally, however, it further dismantled the moral underpinnings of the law. The state’s authority to forbid certain behaviors was condescendingly dismissed as “unwarranted governmental intrusion.”

The issue of homosexuality stormed the Supreme Court in 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick. In that case, a 5-4 majority upheld a Georgia state law against sodomy, pushing back against the forward march of the “right to privacy.” The court argued that the notion that “any kind of private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable.”

Not only did that ruling uphold the Constitution by respecting the power of individual states in such matters, but it also respected the legitimacy of using morality as the basis for law.

Sadly, it wouldn’t stand for long.

“The End of All Morals Legislation”

In 1996 it was again court versus state in Romer v. Evans. This case addressed the constitutionality of an amendment to Colorado’s constitution that excluded “sexual orientation” from civil rights laws banning racial and religious discrimination. The Supreme Court killed the amendment based on the “equal protection” clause.

In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia exposed the central fallacy in this decision: “If it is constitutionally permissible for a state to make homosexual conduct criminal [which, of course, the court had acknowledged it could only 10 years before in Bowers v. Hardwick], surely it is constitutionally permissible for a state to enact other laws merely disfavoring homosexual conduct”—and certainly to pass a provision “merely prohibiting all levels of state government from bestowing special protections upon homosexual conduct.”

So true: There was a glaring contradiction between the court’s ruling on Bowers and its ruling on Romer. But rather than judge according to precedent and in respect of its clear constitutionally prescribed limitations, the court doubled down and, in 2003, reversed its Bowers decision. In the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, a 6-3 Supreme Court found that—lo and behold—the Constitution did in fact guarantee Americans the right to commit homosexual sodomy.

The majority held that the dissenting opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick—which said that just because something is considered immoral doesn’t make it illegal—was actually correct. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in writing the opinion, spoke of an “emerging awareness that liberty [that all-important word in the due process clause] gives substantial protection” to sexual decisions. He also brought out that the European Convention on Human Rights invalidated sodomy laws. Who needs the Constitution?

“This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation,” lamented Justice Scalia in his dissent. “If, as the Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest,” he wrote, and all laws are subject to “rational-basis review” alone, then that undermines the foundation for “criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality and obscenity.”

He continued, “The Supreme Court is clearly in the business of vetoing state (and federal) legislation by inventing new and increasingly more absurd justifications. It does not feel bound by the Constitution or even precedent. It is abandoning the constitutional framework that supports the moral foundation of our laws. … State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision.”

How right he was. Today, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, we witnessed the inevitable next step in this trend.

Not Rational

Judge Walker roundly attacked the moral argument against same-sex marriage. He argued that since “moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples,” then, from a legal standpoint, there is no basis for making any distinction. Opposition to same-sex marriage is simply not rational, he saidhence constitutionally impermissible.

Walker held that Proposition 8 violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s “due process” clause. Marriage is a fundamental right of Americans, he said, and homosexuals are Americans. Forget the fact that, for example, states also prohibit siblings from marrying, or parents from marrying their own children, or minors from marrying—all moral choices on the part of states. Forget that all three branches of the federal government as well as the state of California have already lawfully determined that for a state not to grant marriage to homosexuals is constitutional.

Walker also said Prop 8 violated the “equal protection” clause, which forbids sexual discrimination, by stretching the definition of sex to include sexual orientation. This is legally unprecedented, and, left unchallenged, opens the door for a great deal more litigation by homosexuals and other sexual deviants.

In Judge Walker’s mind, it is Bible-based theology—not unnatural or unlawful sexual orientation—that poses a dangerous threat to homosexuals and lesbians.

Among his “findings of fact,” for example, Judge Walker ruled, “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.” To support this finding, he cited 18 examples—most of them just doctrinal explanations from religious groups denouncing homosexual behavior as unbiblical and sinful.

“[T]he evidence shows beyond debate that allowing same-sex couples to marry has at least a neutral, if not a positive, effect on the institution of marriage,” he wrote.

Thus, this single district court judge cast aside current law, ignored precedent, and exalted his own secularist morality ahead of the moral judgment of a majority of voters in the most populous state in the union.

Beyond that, he attacked religion as the basis for forming moral judgment. He increased the growing supremacy of secularism. He advanced the cause of godless rationalism, and the ruinous campaign to make fallible human reasoning the only legitimate legal authority.

Wearing the cloak of constitutionality, he raised the banner of lawlessness. In ruling Proposition 8 unconstitutional, this judge tortured the Constitution. His 136-page ruling uses the highbrow language of law to dismantle the law.

Right in Our Own Eyes

The liberal judiciary’s grandiloquent assault on the Constitution is closely linked with a broader cultural trend toward casting off restraint. The contempt for law that this decision represents is one of the most grievous plagues of our times. It infects every level of society from the child’s nursery to the most exalted halls of power.

This opinion is part of a movement to disinfect the nation’s laws of their religious underpinnings and retain only what survives rational-basis review. This will supposedly increase justice, expand freedom and strengthen the nation. But that reasoning is already doing the opposite: increasing disorder and division, enslaving people to their own lusts, and shredding the nation’s social fabric.

It’s a far cry from the way our Founding Fathers viewed constitutional law. The way President John Adams viewed it, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

America’s first president, George Washington, said during his farewell address in 1796, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

These God-fearing men understood well that without the moral restrictions of a higher spiritual law, the many liberties afforded Americans in the Constitution would lead to anarchy—and end in destruction.

It calls to mind the darkest period in the history of ancient Israel—the period of the judges. As the nation turned its back on God and His law, it suffered curse upon nightmarish curse. Scripture uses a simple description of the moral and intellectual climate at that time—one that rings sickeningly true today: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Quoting that verse in his 2001 article “Justice and Our ‘Evolving Constitution,’” the Trumpet’s editor in chief wrote, “This was the condition of our biblical forefathers—just before their nation collapsed and they went into slavery!”

Watch for history to repeat itself.

The Demise of Solitude

The Demise of Solitude

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Want to be a better thinker? Then learn to love solitude.

A recent study at the University of Maryland asked 200 students to refrain from using electronic media for a day. After the exercise, one student commented: “Texting and im-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort. When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life (emphasis mine throughout).

Not being able to communicate via technology, he complained, “was almost unbearable.”

What a sorry state of mind. This young man was tethered so tightly to gadgets—and the perpetually connected world they open up—he actually feared being alone. He had conditioned his mind and emotions to find comfort and solace in friends. His existence had came to be defined by his place in the crowd. Solitude was his enemy!

In his international best seller The Art of Thinking, Ernest Dimnet says that the art of thinking is the art of being one’s self, and this art can only be learned if one is by one’s self.” Deep, independent thinkers, Dimnet writes, love being alone—they crave and create moments of solitude!

The thinking mind, writes Dimnet, is like the eye: “It must be single.” Great thinkers—or as Dimnet calls them, “people possessed of a mastering purpose leaving no room for inferior occupations”—stand apart for the “directness of their intellectual vision.” The mind of the weak thinker, on the other hand, has a “fatal capacity for letting in extraneous thoughts or mental parasites.”

Point is, if we are to engage in deep, single-focused thinking, we must create an environment devoid of distractions. We must love solitude.

This is not easy. These days, if we carry a cell phone or iPod, we are not alone. If we’re logged into Facebook or Googling, we are not alone. If we’re sitting in a silent room pecking away at the computer but have e-mail or instant messenger open, we are not alone. Chances are, if we have a screen and it is switched on, we are not alone.

Creating the solitude needed for thinking requires flicking the off switch on every screen in our lives! Here’s some other tips for creating solitude in our lives.

Whether you’re using a gadget or creating space for serious thought, budget your time. Put a limit on your recreational Internet use. When you’re on the computer, set the timer so you don’t lose track of time. Limit the number of texts you (or your teenager) send each day. Force yourself to only check your e-mail once an hour, or once a night. Turn the television off after the specified maximum time each day or week. Carve out blocks during the evening when all cell phones, or all gadgets, are off.

Truth is, by exerting a little more self-discipline—both with our time as well as our use of gadgets—most us could quite easily create the nooks of solitude required for quality thinking!

In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers explains the value of what he terms the “Internet sabbath.” A few years ago, he and his wife began turning off the modem on Friday night and not switching it on until Monday morning. For the entire weekend, the family was disconnected from the Internet and the digital crowd. It wasn’t easy at first. But as time passed, the impact of the Internet sabbath was noticeable and welcomed.

On the weekends, Powers writes, the house became a “kind of island away from the madness.” Instead of each family member retiring to a room with a gadget, they gathered for board games and conversation. Naturally, the family grew closer. During the day they spent more time outdoors and grew to love nature. They got to know their neighbors.

Why not consider following Powers’s example and instituting a rest day from the Internet, or even all gadgets in your household. If switching off gadgets for an entire day isn’t practical, then carve out time—perhaps during dinner and for an hour afterward—when all screens must be off.

Here’s another idea: Create within your home nooks of solitude—areas where family members can go to be free of noise, distractions and screens. Teach the family to respect these as places where the stressed can unwind and read a book or poem, or simply reflect and contemplate.

Realize, though, we can be isolated in a silent environment and still be plagued by thought-destroying noise and bustle within. The mind that is overloaded, filled with commotion and unorganized, unfiled information, is incapable of in-depth, concentrated thought.

To think and reflect, we must also strive to create interior solitude.

This means switching off any extraneous programs running in our minds. It means removing mental distractions, obstacles that will divert us from focused concentration. If you’re distracted because you haven’t paid a bill, go online and pay it. Forget about the tv show you might be missing. When you sit down to read a book, switch the computer off so it won’t entice you with its alluring glow. Switch off your cell phone too. Do whatever it takes to purge the distractions from your mind.

“[T]o lead happy, productive lives in a connected world,” writes Powers, “we need to master the art of disconnecting.” Mastering the art of disconnecting will certainly go a long way to creating an environment conducive to deep and independent thought. But, alone, it won’t result in our leading “happy, productive lives.” If we want our lives to be happy and positive, productive and forward-moving, we need more than just peaceful solitude. And we need more than just the ability to think deeply.

To attain the heights of happiness, our minds, as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12, need to be “transformed” by the truth and Spirit of God. To learn more about this ultimate mental and spiritual transformation, read The Incredible Human Potential.

Do you know what you believe?

How many religious people have really proven what they believe in? Shockingly few, the results of a recent Pew survey indicate.

A survey released Tuesday reveals that “Large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions—including their own.” In fact, atheists and agnostics gave more correct answers in the survey of 3,412 American adults conducted from May 19 to June 6 than “Christians” or any other group.

“While every group did better with questions specific to its own religion,” writes the Washington Times, “once questions about church and state and other world religions were factored in, nonbelievers wound up doing the best overall.”

The conclusion drawn by the president of the American Humanist Association, who says that unbelievers tend to be better educated than believers, is that “The more dogmatic that one is, almost by definition, the less critical thinking is happening.”

Certainly, this is generally the case. As Herbert Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages, “Most people … accept or reject a belief on careless assumption due to whatever they have heard, been taught, or assumed without proof.”

This Pew survey confirms that reality, with results showing a “surprising lack of knowledge even about the tenets of people’s own religions,” according to the Times.

But it need not be this way—in fact, it should not be.

It comes down to a question of whether one accepts the reality that absolute truth does indeed exist—and whether one is willing to prove it.

In a column earlier this year, Ron Fraser raised the question of how to identify true religion:

Sooner or later, any thinking person who believes in what Sir Winston Churchill termed “divine Providence” has to ask and seek to answer the question, “What is the true religion?” …Christ established only one church under and by His divine authority, based on one divinely inspired body of doctrine (Ephesians 4:5). He is the personification of the Word of God (John 1:1). That means, by definition, that the one true Church that He established will be not only extant today, but it will possess the same, unchangeable doctrine He gave it at the beginning. It will be founded not upon only one testament of the Bible, but two, for as one of the foundational apostles of the Church, the Apostle Paul, declared, the true Church is founded upon the apostles and the prophets! (Ephesians 2:20). …Where is that one true Church today? It must be in existence, for Jesus Christ its Head declared of it that the gates of the grave would never shut it down—it would never die!

Again, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Why do most people believe the things they believe? Few, indeed, ever stop to ask themselves in retrospect how they came to accept the beliefs that have found lodgment in their minds” (op. cit.).

Don’t be among those who lack knowledge of their own beliefs.

If you are up to the challenge, we would suggest you study Does God Exist?, The Proof of the Bible and Mystery of the Ages.

Shifting Tides of Military Power in the South China Sea

Shifting Tides of Military Power in the South China Sea

Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Is U.S. naval power in the South China Sea the unstoppable force it once was?

Thirsting for the oil in the waters that break upon China’s shores, Beijing has recently intensified its claim to the entire 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea. Since China’s assertion competes with claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, it has prompted a pledge from the U.S. for increased involvement in the disputes to guarantee free trade and navigation throughout the region. But a Wall Street Journal article about recent military trends in the South Pacific region suggests that Washington’s pledge is insufficiently backed, and more so every month.

In his August 15 article, “Hollow Talk in the South China Sea,” Mark Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, makes the case that defense spending is not the only yardstick by which to measure a nation’s military might in a given conflict. The U.S. military is, by a great stretch, the most powerful in the world, spending more on defense than the next 14 nations combined. But this astronomical defense budget is irrelevant to such factors as the scope of the nation’s commitments, the reliability of its allies, geography and, above all, its will to use its power. Military spending is not the only factor to consider in gauging a country’s true influence.

Helprin brings out an important lesson which flies in the face of the argument that, because of its massive defense budget, the United States does not face legitimate threats from rising powers. While analysts will concede that the balance of power between the U.S. and China is shifting, they repeatedly cite the still-vast discrepancy between U.S. military spending and that of China as proof that America could not be defeated.

A Recent History of the U.S. Military in China’s Backyard

A look at America’s 20th-century military interaction with China reveals a steady restraint in Washington’s dealings with Beijing.

In Korea, more than 50 years ago, China and the Soviet Union fought America to a stalemate.

In the Vietnam War, Washington restrained its force to avoid drawing China into the conflict, even though Beijing’s navy was less than a tenth the size of Washington’s, it had no tactical nuclear weapons, and the Western Pacific was peppered with U.S. military installations.

More recently, during the 1996 Taiwan crisis, then President Bill Clinton gingerly heeded Beijing’s warning, and held all U.S. naval forces east of Taiwan.

Present-Day Shifting Power

In the South China Sea today, the odds are evening. And Washington’s light-footed military dealings with China in the 20th century bode poorly for its approach to Beijing in this age of shifting power balances. As China constructs aircraft carriers, practices cyberattacks, modernizes and multiplies aircraft and submarine fleets, demonstrates the ability to shoot down satellites, and develops new cruise and intermediate-range missiles, the U.S. scales back its defense spending.

Recent decades have seen the U.S. abandon numerous military installations throughout the Pacific, and the Defense Department has recently announced plans to cut $100 billion of its total budget over the next five years. Other U.S. policymakers are pushing for a reduction of $1 trillion in defense spending.

Meanwhile, China’s soft-power diplomacy steadily expands Beijing’s reach. Through investment and diplomacy, China has simultaneously diminished Western influence and boosted its own presence in East Timor, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Philippines and elsewhere.

Stratfor analyst Rodger Baker points out the strategic location of Chinese presence in many of these nations explaining that, by providing China with fuel resupply options for long-distance maritime operations, it could greatly extend Beijing’s naval capabilities. Baker says the real concern for the West will be if the locations become stationary bases for Chinese anti-ship missiles.

The proximity of China’s land-based air and naval power greatly multiplies its strength in the South China Sea. The opposite is true for the U.S., where distance from land-based installations shrinks Washington’s strength. Helprin makes the case that, in the event of a South China Sea conflict between the U.S. and China, the absence of facilities and fully developed expeditionary rights in surrounding nations would mean the U.S. would have to strike ports and airfields in China itself, equating to full-scale war. The other option would be a war of attrition against legions of Chinese submarines and aircraft.

The U.S.’s militarily weak allies in the South Pacific tremble at Beijing’s rising power and may be hesitant to host land-based American aircraft in the event of an altercation. So, a conflict would require Washington to deploy the bulk of its diminishing aircraft carrier fleet in order to mobilize around 350 American attack and fighter planes. But these would be up against the colossal and unsinkable aircraft carrier that is China itself, which would have 1,400 or more aircraft.

U.S. submarines could annihilate China’s fleet, but not necessarily before China sank America’s aircraft carriers.

Helprin emphasizes that, in such a conflict, resupply and distances would be decisive:

The Paracel Islands, a likely flash point, are 14,000 miles from Norfolk, 8,000 from San Diego, 6,000 from Pearl Harbor, and 2,300 from Guam, but only 200 from the Chinese base at Yu-Lin. China’s Guangzhou military region is rich in dispersed bases that if they are vulnerable to attack are no more so than our far fewer and more remote bases in the Western Pacific.

Helprin also points out that if the U.S. began to prevail in a war against China, Beijing could command North Korea to invade the South, forcing Washington to tend to the fate of millions of Koreans and the 27,000 U.S. soldiers stationed there.

China’s formerly primitive nuclear weaponry is also now a sophisticated arsenal. Beijing’s nuclear deterrent now renders nukes irrelevant to such a confrontation.

The relative force is steadily shifting to China’s advantage. And the same shift is mirrored in the two nations’ will to fight, but on a far greater scale. Following President Clinton’s footsteps, President Obama has so far refrained from sending a carrier strike group into the Yellow Sea, despite Washington’s declaration to conduct military drills near the location where recent North Korean provocation occurred.

At present, the U.S. has its workable “Air-Sea Battle” strategy to bring it through a conflict with China, but this plan cannot succeed if the defense reduction continues at its current pace. The U.S. is stripping itself of the means to support its words, and irking China’s growing sensitivity to “paper-tigerism.”

In Helprin’s estimation, the home-court advantage in a conflict between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea would be so significant that China could check America’s mighty power. Gone are the days when an American victory against any foe was a foregone conclusion.

As China’s military rise continues, America’s influence in the South Pacific will wane. But, in the longer term, China’s ascendancy points to the approach of the most hope-filled event in history! Jesus Christ will return to put an end to the conflict between East and West, and between all other peoples on the planet. He will usher in an age of rulership that will bring peace and abundance to all of mankind. Hope placed in the U.S. military will soon be revealed to be grossly misplaced, but that certainly does not mean there is no cause for hope. To understand more about China’s rise and its connection to the only sure hope, read Russia and China in Prophecy.