Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16 May 2012

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] The President’s Evolution and Our Culture’s Degradation: A Call to Prayer and a Plea for Revival

[2] Erskine College and Theological Seminary Decline Further into Accommodation, Evil, and Irrelevancy

[3] Why Terrorists are after Africa’s Christians

[4] Law Society bans Christian Concern Marriage Event

[5] California Presbyterian Church Leaves PCUSA for Not Embracing Homosexuality Enough

[6] PCUSA Presbytery of the Redwoods Now Supports Minister Who Wed Same-Sex Couples

[7] PCUSA Plans Staff Reduction

[8] Lafayette, Indiana, Pastor Arrested after Cameras Found in Church Bathroom

[9] Reformed Fellowship Sale on “Jesus Loves the Little Children:
Why We Baptize Children” by Daniel R. Hyde


[1] The President’s Evolution and Our Culture’s Degradation: A Call to Prayer and a Plea for Revival

Commentary by Dr. Michael A. Milton

We often cannot fully grasp the historical significance of events as they happen. The 24/7 news feeds into our homes could desensitize us to even the most remarkable of events. Yet, the announcement of a United States president (and vice president) publicly endorsing same-sex marriage is to support that which God explicitly condemns. It is shameful and a reproach to decency and honor and a sad commentary on the regrettable departure of our national leaders from the biblical heritage that has guided our country. The president's announcement came hours after another of our states voted to protect the God-ordained institution of marriage and was thus particularly painful for citizens in North Carolina and further deepened the obvious cultural divide in our nation.

I join many other Christian leaders, churches and ministries asking God's power for revival to come upon our country as we face this latest assault on the law of God. While we pray for our president and his family, we ask the Lord to bring repentance and Spirit-wrought renewed faith to him and all. Oh, that we might seek Him and live!

Now more than ever we at Reformed Theological Seminary must be vigilant in our sacred calling to raise up godly pastors and other servants of the Church who will courageously, boldly and compassionately declare Jesus Christ's Word to our people. That Word brings abundant life and eternal life.

May God have mercy for the sake of His Church and stir us all to prayer like never before. Then, this remarkably sad moment for our country would have brought about something good.

Michael Anthony Milton (Ph.D., University of Wales) serves as the chancellor/CEO elect of Reformed Theological Seminary (one of the largest accredited seminaries in the country), a U.S. Army chaplain (instructing at the Armed Forces Chaplain School) and the James M. Baird Jr. chair of pastoral theology at RTS/Charlotte. He is an author, songwriter, singer, ordained minister, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., and he previously served as the president of RTS/Charlotte. Dr. Milton also hosts a national Bible teaching television program, “Faith For Living,” reaching 70,000,000 potential households through DirecTV, Legacy TV network, YouTube and iTunes. It is also available as a free app in the Android and iPhone markets. The “Faith For Living” radio program is broadcast on several stations in the southeast. For 16 years he served in the business world and has also served as a top-secret Navy linguist.

+ Reformed Theological Seminary, 2101 Carmel Road, Charlotte, North Carolina 28226, 704-366-5066, Fax: 704-366-9295

[2] Erskine College and Theological Seminary Decline Further into Accommodation, Evil, and Irrelevancy

In ARPTalk Issue #56, titled “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” (“a nonsense word meaning nothing”) the Rev. Dr. Charles Wilson reports on several recent occurrences of “nonsense…meaning nothing” concerning Erskine College (EC), Erskine Theological Seminary (ETS), and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), which illustrate EC’s and ETS’s continuing decline into accommodation, evil, and irrelevancy including:

-- A speech made by ARP Moderator of the General Synod the Rev. Andy Putnam to the EC student body where Mr. Putnam stated: “And we also don’t want Erskine to be another regional liberal arts school where you can only find Christ in the Bible department. What we’re going after is something much more difficult to attain – something that requires sacrifice, determination and direction: an authentically Christian liberal arts educational experience.” Dr. Wilson replies: “It is a denial of both present reality and what can be done….
Mr. Putnam’s words ignore the controversy of the last forty years in the ARP Church over Erskine College and Seminary – especially the last four years. In order to have an EC that is “an authentically Christian liberal arts” college, EC must have a faculty, administration, and board that are “authentically Christian” and know what Christian liberal arts is and have a vision for EC becoming a Christian liberal arts college. None of that is in place, nor does it have a ghost of a chance of being put into place in the face of the opposition of the alums, the faculty, the administration, and the board.”

-- At the 12 May 2012 EC graduation ceremony, an honorary doctorate was introduced and conferred by Mr. Bill Lesesne, a founder and director of the EC Foundation, Dr. Wilson states that “the EC Foundation was founded to divert money from Erskine so that the attorneys who sued the ARP Church after the “Snow Synod” could be paid.”

-- The majority report of the EC Board of Trustees (EBOT) ad hoc committee, which addressed the ARP 2011 synod request to amend the by-laws of the EBOT to comply with Synod’s policy for removal of trustees for cause, states that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ (SACS) and the Association of Theological Schools’ (ATS) policies will not allow the request of Synod to be adopted and implemented by the EBOT on penalty of loss of accreditation by SACS and ATS. Dr. Wilson states that the majority EBOT ad hoc committee report assertion is demonstrably false, as the EBOT ad hoc committee minority report, signed by eleven members of the committee, points out that there are effectively seven schools, one within 100 miles of EC, with a policy like the one requested by the 2011 ARP Synod, having both SACS and ATS accreditation.

-- At the 12 May 2012 ETS graduation ceremony, ETS conferred a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree on a Muslim cleric. Dr. Wilson points out that the imam now joins “at least one Unitarian minister, at least one Mormon cleric, and at least one Jewish rabbi” in receiving ETS degrees, and concludes: “What a hall of shame for the ARP Church! What a condemnation for a seminary that has as its motto “For Christ and His Church.” Let me hasten also to note that diversity is the coin of hell and not of heaven.”

Dr. Wilson further reports that the EC Fall 2012 entering class as of early May 2012 has only 111 new students of the 230-250 predicted by EC President Dr. David Norman. Dr. Wilson states that “to get the 119 students needed to reach the minimum of 230 by mid-August, the pocketbook of the endowment is going to be opened wide. As in past years, students will have to be bought, and poorly qualified students at that. At this point EC ceases to be academically concerned. Academically concerned institutions turn down students. At this point, the only thing necessary to get into EC is a beating heart.”

ARPTalk Blog, 864-882-6337,

+ Erskine College, 2 Washington Street, Due West, South Carolina 29639, 864-379-2131, 864-379-2167,

+ Erskine Theological Seminary, Post Office Box 668, Due West, South Carolina 29639, 800-770-6936

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

[3] Why Terrorists are after Africa’s Christians

By Fernando Perez - moderated by WEA-RLC Executive Director Godfrey Yogaraja

From Boko Haram in Sub-Saharan Africa to al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa, Islamist terrorists across the continent have heightened attacks on Christians. This seems to be a part of an emerging strategy of al-Qaeda and associated local groups, which must be taken and dealt with seriously.

On April 29, Boko Haram members gunned down at least sixteen Christians and wounded more than twenty-two others as they targeted an area inside the Bayero University campus in northern Nigeria where churches hold Sunday services. The same day, its gunmen shot at worshippers inside a chapel of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, killing the pastor who was preparing for Communion and four congregants.

Also on April 29, a man believed to be from Somalia’s al-Shabaab group set off a grenade during a church service in Nairobi, Kenya, killing a worshipper and injuring fifteen others.

These attacks came on the heels of the vandalism of the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church Bible School in Khartoum on April 21. About 500 alleged members of Ansaar al-Suna, a Salafi faction which adheres to a textual interpretation of Islam, attacked the church compound in the West Gerief district of the Sudanese capital, burning Bibles and destroying and looting property.

Just before the attack in Sudan was reported, an estimated 300 Christians had to flee the city of Timbuktu in Mali after Ansar Dine, an Islamist extremist group loyal to al-Qaeda, announced in the second week of April that it was imposing Sharia law in the city. This followed the previous month’s military coup in northern parts of the country aided by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Islamist militia which aims to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic state and whose links with al-Qaeda predate the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

It is believed that Osama bin Laden was in Sudan from 1991 to 1996, when he was allegedly expelled by the Sudanese government under U.S. pressure. Al-Qaeda has had links with local groups in African nations for decades. Apart from al-Shabaab and AQIM, al-Qaeda has had direct links with the Libyan Islamic Movement (formerly known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) in Libya, and Somali insurgents allegedly sheltered by Eritrea.

But now, the number of such organizations is growing as al-Qaeda is desperately looking for new territories to establish its new bases in the wake of the NATO-led mission in its traditional heartland, such as Afghanistan.

The global terror group wants to create areas in African nations where it can establish its control, as well as ungoverned areas or failed states where it can operate more or less freely. To achieve this, the terror group is seeking to strengthen local Islamist groups and give them a transnational vision and a religious motivation to carry on with their existing struggles as well as broaden the scope of their operations by including Western and Christian targets.

It is believed that al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab and AQIM provided technical sophistication and weaponry to BokoHaram, which had been targeting police stations and local people with machetes until 2010. But now, Christians are one of its primary targets and the methods includes bombing. Boko Haram killed at least 510 people and destroyed over 350 churches in 10 northern states of Nigeria last year.

In February 2012, al-Shabaab for the first time officially pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair sent an audio message to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, saying: “On behalf of the soldiers and the commanders in al-Shabaab, we pledge allegiance to you. So lead us to the path of jihad and martyrdom that was drawn by our imam, the martyr Osama,” as reported by CNN.

Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Africa, representing the global terror network locally, have established links with several other smaller local groups.

As London-based security analyst Valentina Soria, author of Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa, believes, “The aim is now for the central leadership [of al-Qaeda] to try to forge strategic relationships with like-minded groups in Africa ... like al-Shabab, and obviously strengthen the already existing relationship with AQIM,” as quoted by the British newspaper Daily Mail. She adds that al-Qaeda is also working with other terror organizations to secure stable footholds in “volatile” countries.

While it was anticipated that the Arab Spring would give a blow to terrorist groups by showing that autocratic, non-Islamic regimes could be overthrown by largely peaceful protests as opposed to armed struggles, the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa also offered some opportunities to the terror network.

The actors in the uprisings in various countries were diverse in their motives. Especially the ones who helped initiate revolutions were largely secular-minded. But extremist factions were naturally emboldened by the fall of regimes in some countries like Egypt. And then, there was, and is, widespread disillusionment among people as the transition to democracy has been chaotic. Al-Qaeda is seeking to exploit all that.

In the countries in transition from dictatorship to democracy, al-Qaeda is calling for the establishment of pure Islamic governance, saying the overthrowing of the regimes is just half work done.

Two weeks after the killing of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda released a message by its former leader, saying: “We watch with you this great historic event and we share with you joy and happiness and delight and felicity … We are happy for what makes you happy, and we are sad for what makes you sad. So congratulations to you for your victories.” Laden’s message was identical to that of his successor Ayman al-Zawahiri, who said: “Your jihadi brethren are confronting alongside you the same enemy, America and its Western allies, those who set up … Husni Mubarak, Zein al-Abidin b. Ali, Ali Abdallah Saleh, Abdallah b. Hussein [sic] and their ilk to rule over you.”

Al-Qaeda finds a fertile ground in Africa, which has numerous insurgencies, volatile geopolitics, weak and corrupt governments and easy availability of arms and presence of large Muslim and Christian populations. Local militant groups also find al-Qaeda attractive in hope of recruiting more youth with a more “challenging” transnational agenda and access to sophisticated weaponry and training.

The al-Qaeda strategy apparently includes incitement to sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians as it seeks to create civil wars and unrest, such as in Nigeria.

Such attempts are likely to accelerate in the near future if the international community fails to prevent radical Muslim movements from spreading across the continent. While military aid by the West to African allies to fight radical forces might be part of the solution, but that’s not all. It would also involve ensuring good governance, strengthening of democratic institutions and organizations, and removing the underlying conditions which are conducive for terrorism.

+ Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, 32 Ebenezer Place, Dehiwela, Sri Lanka, Contact by Email

World Evangelical Alliance, 74 Trinity Place, Suite 1400, New York, New York 10006, 212-233-3046, Fax: 646-957-9218, Contact Form

[4] Law Society bans Christian Concern Marriage Event

Christian Concern reported 12 May 2012 that the Law Society of London, England, has revoked the booking of the ‘One Man, One Woman. Making the Case for Marriage for the Good of Society’ conference, originally scheduled for 23 May 2012, sponsored by Christian Concern, the World Congress of Families, and others, because the event “is contrary to our diversity policy, espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage.”

+ Christian Concern, 70 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8AX, England, 020 7935 1488, Contact Page

+ World Congress of Families, 934 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois 61103, 815-964-5819, Fax: 815-965-1826,

[5] California Presbyterian Church Leaves PCUSA for Not Embracing Homosexuality Enough

An 11 May 2012 article by Stoyan Zaimov of The Christian Post titled “Calif. Presbyterian Church Leaves PCUSA for Not Embracing Homosexuality Enough” reports that former
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) West Hollywood Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, California, formally joined the United Church of Christ on 12 May 2012 because the church believes that the PCUSA has not done enough to embrace homosexuals.

+ The Christian Post, National Press Building, 529 14th Street Northwest, Suite 420, Washington DC 20045, 202-347-7734,

Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

+ United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115, 216-736-2100,

[6] PCUSA Presbytery of the Redwoods Now Supports Minister Who Wed Same-Sex Couples

A 15 May 2012 article Los Angeles Times article titled “Presbyterian Body Now Supports Minister Who Wed Same-Sex Couples” reports that the
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)’s Presbytery of the Redwoods in a 74-18 vote rejected the PCUSA’s denunciation of the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr for performing weddings for homosexual couples.

+ Los Angeles Times, 202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, California 90012, 213-237-5000, Fax: 213-237-7679, Contact Page

Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

+ Presbytery of the Redwoods, 1226A Salvador Avenue,
Napa, California 94558, 707-224-5407, Fax: 707-224-4309,

[7] PCUSA Plans Staff Reduction

A 14 May 2012 article in the Daily News of Bowling Green, Kentucky, reports that the
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) General Assembly Mission Council, assuming approval of the PCUSA 2012 General Assembly meeting, will cut thirteen net positions representing four percent of its workforce, and impose budget reductions over the next two years because of reduced revenue due to membership losses.

The remaining 308 positions represents a reduction of one-half of the positions existing in 2002.

+ Daily News, 813 College Street, Bowling Green,
Kentucky 42102,

Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

[8] Lafayette, Indiana, Pastor Arrested after Cameras Found in Church Bathroom

A 14 May 2012 article by John Terhune in the Journal and Courier titled “Lafayette Pastor Arrested after Cameras Found in Church Bathroom” reports that Robert Lyzenga, pastor of Sunrise Christian Reformed Church (
Christian Reformed Church in North America) in Lafayette, Indiana, was arrested 10 May 2012 on suspicion of voyeurism, a Class D felony, after the pastor allegedly hid video cameras inside fake “air freshener” boxes secured to the inside of restroom stall doors.

Lyzenga has been suspended from all church duties.

+ Journal and Courier, 217 North 6th Street, Lafayette, Indiana 47901

+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803

[9] Reformed Fellowship Sale on “Jesus Loves the Little Children:
Why We Baptize Children” by Daniel R. Hyde

Reformed Fellowship is offering through 30 June 2012 the book “Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children” by Daniel R. Hyde for the sale price of US$3.00 plus US$3.50 shipping to U.S. addresses.

+ Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 3363 Hickory Ridge Court Southwest, Wyoming, Michigan 49418, 616-532-8510,