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From The Resurgent:

The polling has drawn ever closer. More and more people wonder if those of us who are NeverTrump should finally yield knowing that we can beat Hillary Clinton. I am in an odd position. I am mindful that should Trump win, the Republican establishment will blame people like me for giving rise to Trump. Likewise, I know if Trump loses, the Republican establishment will blame people like me for giving rise to Trump and Trump supporters will blame people like me for his loss. I suppose I should say not that I’m in an odd position, but that I am in a no-win position.

With Donald Trump’s rise in the polls and the increasingly competitive nature of the race, it is time to reconsider my opposition to Trump. After all, I view Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as anti-American.

I realize saying Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is, in my view, “anti-American” offends some or comes off as hyperbolic, but I think her candidacy is fundamentally anathema to and is fundamentally in opposition to basic, historic American values. I believe the founders of this country recognized individual liberty as negative liberty. It was not what individuals could do if government helped them that made this country great. Rather, it was what individuals could do if government left them alone.

Hillary Clinton’s vision of a leviathan nanny state runs counter to those ideals. She would expand the government, engage the government in social experimentation, and she would advance the agenda of the sexual revolution against the church. I am under no delusions. With Clinton as President, the church in this country will be in for a difficult time, besieged from the outside. The forces of Mordor will be fully on the march.

With Hillary Clinton, the Supreme Court will fall into the hands of the left for a generation at least. The devastation to our social fabric will know no end. Trading in the idea of negative liberty, Clinton and a left-wing Supreme Court will pursue expansionist federal policies and concepts of positive liberty that advance the individual prurient interests of deviants against the church in ways the founders would not have anticipated and no rational person would think wise. But Clinton as President will mean the insane have taken over the asylum.

Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized . . . . As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant. The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological.” Clinton’s Presidency will lock that in.

In addition to that, the increasingly illiberal left will further capitulate in the face of evil, choosing to surrender to radical Islamists blowing themselves up as a new normal.

In short, I see the election of Hillary Clinton as the antithesis of all my values and ideas on what fosters sound civil society in this country. Further, she should be in jail.

At least with Trump we might, might, get a better Supreme Court. We might get better cabinet picks. In fact, in terms of my view of the country the odds are pretty great that my side has a greater chance of prevailing with Trump than Clinton. What most would identify as my side would have control of the Executive Branch and the powers of appointment and regulation that come with it.

So I should at least here and now, as the race draws close, reconsider my opposition to Trump. The truth is, with headlines about Clinton’s emails, terrorist attacks, the Obama Administration’s advancement of transgenderism in the military, etc. I have been actively reconsidering my opposition to Trump. I’ve done it in conversation with friends, in prayer, and in quiet time dedicated to considering the future.

In so doing, I have to admit that while I may view Hillary Clinton’s campaign as anti-American, I view Donald Trump’s campaign as un-American.

The American spirit eschews the idea of a strong man in Washington fixing all our problems. We are supposed to be against the imposition of values set by Washington and instead should embrace our heterogeneity as a people. Not only does Donald Trump not do that, but his views pervert the liberal order of things as much as Clintonian illiberalism. Clinton offers a tyranny of the minority and Trump offers a tyranny of the majority. Clinton offers neither safety nor freedom and Trump offers safety at the expense of freedom. While I see Clinton as having no virtue, I see Donald Trump corrupting the virtuous and fostering hatred, racism, and dangerous strains of nationalism.

More importantly, while I think Hillary Clinton will do long term damage to the country, I believe Donald Trump will do far more damage to the church, which must be my chief priority. A Clinton Administration may see the church besieged from the outside, but a Trump Administration will see the church poisoned from within.

I see it happening even now. This past Friday I debated the merits of Trump and sat next to a Christian who argued that because God chose sinners, we should choose Trump. She argued that a bunch of other Presidents were terrible, immoral people so we should be okay with Trump. She argued that God chose Abraham, Samson, and David, so we should choose Trump.

I do not recall John F. Kennedy writing books bragging about his affairs. I do not recall Bill Clinton telling a television audience he wanted to have sex with his daughter. How far a Christian must fall to justify the low morals of one man by tearing down the reputations of others in sometimes exaggerated manners. And I do recall God choosing Abraham, Samson, and David and all of them repenting of their sins. That repentance stands in studied contrast to Donald Trump who has three times said he never had to ask for forgiveness and only recently said his advance of the church, if he is elected, might be the only thing that gets him into Heaven.

That is a far cry from sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, et soli Deo gloria

When I see Christians defining deviancy down to justify a political decision, I see a real problem for the church. When I see Christians saying we have license to choose bad men because God chose bad men, I see the sparks of apostasy. Many of my friends have turned themselves over to the anger Trump displays. I see friends on twitter in meltdown, tweeting profanity at others, spending their time on radio attacking friends by name for refusing to yield. That is not healthy. But not only is it not healthy, it reeks of desperation.

“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). Trump has openly championed funding an organization that would murder the would be orphan and sell his organs while he has cheated widows and single moms of their money. And more and more Christians are championing his stains while staining themselves.

The level of fear many of my friends have towards what a Clinton Administration may bring has turned to desperation and desire for a protector. But we already have one and neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

So many pastors who email me to beg me to reconsider and so many others who write do so because they think this is the last best chance to get this nation right. They think we will turn a corner after which we cannot turn back. While I concede they may be right, what I see is a level of desperation causing them to place their trust in one strong man instead of God. And, in truth, I do not concede they are right, but have concluded we are already past the point of redemption when the best either party can do is offer up Clinton or Trump. We are beyond the point of looking to five black robed masters to save us from ourselves when we put up either a Clinton or a Trump. The seriousness and virtue of the voter is in the grave already and my Christian brethren for Trump yearn for an idolized past that never existed in a future that is not theirs, but God’s, to shape.

Christians looking for a strong man to protect the church instead of the strongest man who conquered death is a terrible thing to see. Many Christian leaders are engaging in a kind of syncretism, trying to blend patriotism with Christianity. They seemingly argue that if the nation falls, the church falls and for the church to rise the country must rise. But Christ has already risen so the true church is in no danger of falling. The gates of hell shall not prevail.

Seeing men like Wayne Grudem and others beclown themselves trying to justify support of a man like Trump makes me weep for the shallow faith of a church more wrapped up in its Americanness than its Godliness. I have to say I was truly blown away by having a Christian sit next to me on Friday and argue that we should support an immoral adulterer who had never asked for forgiveness because of what he might do for Christians.

Just read Wayne Grudem’s attack on Rudy Giuliani in 2012 to see his hypocrisy derived from desperation now:

So it seems to me that if evangelicals don’t support Romney in a significant way, Giuliani will be the Republican candidate. So then we will have a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights candidate who is on his third marriage and had a messy affair prior to his divorce from his second wife. Then we will lose any high moral ground and the enthusiasm of the evangelical vote (many of whom will just sit it out), and the difference between Giuliani and Clinton will be only one of degrees as he shifts leftward in the general election to appeal to the “middle.” So then if we lose, we lose, and even if we win, we lose on the crucial moral issues of abortion and protection of marriage. Romney is a much better choice. But he needs evangelical support now if he is going to win.

How now can Grudem advance his witness to questioning unbelievers? He now praises an unrepentant man both guilty of and proud of the very sins he attacked Giuliani for. Even Giuliani never wrote a book bragging about his affairs with married women or boasting of taking advantage of others through strategic bankruptcy filings and shorting laborers. One can hardly escape the conclusion that had Giuliani been the nominee, Grudem would be chastising Christians for not wanting to vote for the man.

Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[a] whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

1 Corinthians 5:11-13

We instruct you, brothers, in the name of [our] Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.

2 Thess 3:6

This is the inerrant word of God and Christians are choosing to ignore it because they have convinced themselves they are not electing a priest, but a President. Therefore they have segregated the commands of their faith from the desires for themselves. I cannot bifurcate my faith in that way. I cannot in good conscience support anyone who bears the name of brother when he is unrepentant of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler.

It is not just because of my values, but for Donald Trump’s own salvation that I cannot embrace him. For Wayne Grudem and Janet Parshall and other Christians to support Trump in his present rebellious state against God to serve their political interests is selfishness.

Here now is a man in Donald Trump who sees no need to be saved and has no understanding of a faith he professes. And he sees Christians cheering him on in his rebellious state, defending him when they blasted others for the very same sins.

The whole purpose of shunning the unrepenant sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent. American Christians in politics are so busy trying to save their political interests they are ignoring scripture and losing a soul to hell. Saying they’ll pray for Trump flies in the face of the admonition of scripture. We should not put off the steps to push Trump toward reconciliation with his Lord in hopes he gets the Presidency. Then it makes it less likely he will reconcile in that distracted state and more likely we lose a soul to hell.

All Christendom should be ashamed we are putting our needs in this temporary place ahead of saving a soul bound for eternity.

That I see so many Christians justifying Donald Trump’s immorality, defining deviancy down, and turning to anger and despondency about the future tells me I cannot in good faith support Donald Trump because his victory would have lasting, damaging consequences for Christianity in America. We harm our witness and the testimony of the strength of our Lord by embracing the immoral, unrepentant strong man. We harm our American virtue by buying into the idea that one man can make America great again. Further, we risk losing Donald Trump’s soul for the sake of our selfishness.

Lastly, for those who compare Trump to Cyrus, God never asked his people to support Cyrus’s cause, only to accept him as their ruler. God never asks his people to choose between the lesser of two evils. God uses all men, from pharaoh to Trump. And he can do so without making Christians endorse the person’s sins. God did not tell the Jews to throw open the gates of Jerusalemn for Nebuchadnezzar. God did that himself. God shut the door of the ark and brought the rain and dried again the land. God raises us from the dust of the earth and he stitched us together in our mothers’ wombs. He holds the entire universe in the palm of his hand. God can see us through all things if we aren’t so busy pretending his will and exercising pretended divine authority. His will be done. If God wants Trump in the White House, he does not need my vote or a violation of my conscience to get Trump there. To think otherwise is to think God is not God.

I think Hillary Clinton will do lasting damage to the country. I cannot vote for her.

Having reconsidered my opposition to Trump, I think Donald Trump will do lasting damage to the witness of the Church in America and I therefore cannot vote for him.

I am without a candidate. I just cannot vote for either one. Whichever is elected, it is God’s will and as his holy and inerrant scripture commands, I will pray for my President as I pray for the current President. But I will not harm my witness nor risk Trump’s soul to serve my political desires.

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I do not believe a vote for either candidate glorifies God and I am certain neither advances his kingdom.

Christians and Trump

From The Resurgent:

This is something that has “boggled” me, I cannot understand for the life of me why Christians, and even worse so Called Christian Leaders think that they HAVE to publicly endorse Donald Trump! The rationality that they come up with for doing so, sometimes mishandling scripture very badly in the process is just unbelievable!

This will be coming to the U.S. in the not too distant future

From CP World:

The first reports of Christian leaders being arrested in Russia following the passing of new anti-terrorism laws that ban evangelism outside of churches have started coming in.

The Moscow Times reports that Sergei Zhuravlyov, a representative of the Ukrainian Reformed Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior, was arrested earlier this month while he was preaching before the St. Petersburg Messianic Jewish community, and was charged with violating a provision of the law that bans illegal missionary activity.

Law enforcement officials later told Interfax news agency that Zhuravlyov is being accused of “fomenting negative attitudes toward the Russian Orthodox Church,” and of having ties to the Ukrainian nationalist political party called Right Sector, which is banned in Russia.

Ukraine and Russia remain in a state of conflict following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, which has also sparked violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and government forces in the eastern parts of Ukraine.

Zhuravlyov has since been released on bail, with his case sent to court.

Thousands of churches in Russia announced back in July that they would be coming together in prayer and fasting against the new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin, which in its anti-terrorism efforts prohibits the sharing of faith in any place that is not a government-sanctioned house of worship.

“This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church,” Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, said in July. “Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.”

As the law also bans foreign missionaries from speaking at churches without permission from Russian authorities, international organizations such as the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice, said a new manner of carrying out missionary work in Russia will need to be established.

Reports noted that violators of the law, if Russian citizens, would face a fine of f $75 to $765, while organizations could be looking at fines of up to $15,265. Foreigners found breaking the law would be deported, however.

The SCLJ, an affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice, said that it is reviewing changes to the law when it comes to freedom of conscience and the activities of religious institution; the rights of foreign citizens to conduct missionary activities in Russia; and how to carry out missionary work without breaking the law.

“Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Russia and pass along the information about this webinar to your pastor and any others who may know about missionaries in Russia who could find it useful,” the ACLJ said in a statement.

“We will continue defending Christians around the globe to ensure their rights to share their faith are protected.”

 

from Fox News: 

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is demanding an Air Force major be “aggressively punished” for having an open Bible on his desk at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It [the Bible] is very obviously a statement of Christian preference, Christian primacy,” MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein told me. “Had that been the Book of Satan or the Koran there would be blood in the freaking streets.”

He accused Maj. Steve Lewis, a supervisor at the Reserve National Security Space Institute, of “harboring and encouraging a truly abhorrent example of First Amendment civil rights violations.”

Mr. Weinstein is a fussy little fellow, isn’t he?

Col. Damon Feltman, the commander of the 310th Space Wing, told me they are reviewing the incident involving the Good Book.

“He has removed the Bible voluntarily because he didn’t want this to cause attention or disruption to his unit,” Col. Feltman said. “I’ve performed a walk-through of the office and everything seemed to be in compliance with Air Force regulation.”

So when will Maj. Lewis be able to return the Bible to his desk?

“I’m waiting on the unit commander’s review of the situation before making a final assessment,” the colonel said.

He stressed that Air Force personnel are free to exercise their constitutional rights to practice their own religion “as long as it is respectful of other individual’s rights to follow their own belief system in ways that support good order and discipline and don’t detract from (the) military mission.”

“As long as he’s not doing something excessive, the existence of a Bible or the Koran or the Torah or some other religious article is not prohibited,” Col. Feltman said. “It’s what you do with it when you have it.”

Weinstein, who earns a paycheck by trying to eradicate Christianity from the Armed Forces, accused Maj. Lewis of committing a “repulsive violation of USAF regulations” as well as the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s not his desk,” he told me. “That desk belongs to the American people, to the U.S. military. If that desk was in his home or his car it would not be a problem.”

Weinstein fired off a nasty, adjective-laden letter to the base commander after receiving complaints from 33 unnamed Air Force personnel.

“We have 33 very scared Air Force families,” Weinstein told me.

Just a brief aside: If those Air Force personnel are terrified of a Bible – how in the world will they be able to muster the courage to fight the enemy?

Click here to read the book that’s driving liberals nuts – “God Less America.”

Apparently one of Weinstein’s gentle snowflakes managed to conquer his fear long enough to sneak up on the open Bible and take several photographs – which were then submitted as evidence.

“Major Lewis has created an around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine on his official USAF workstation desk that has been in prominent static display for years,” Weinstein said. “The pages in his open Bible on his USAF desk never change, ever.”

One of the airmen who reached out to Weinstein complained that the officer’s Bible is a “blatant case of Christian defiance and Christian discrimination.”

“I am intimidated by the display, and I am a practicing Christian,” the unnamed airman wrote. “This open Bible is discrimination at the highest level.”

The airman went on to say that he wasn’t just offended by the Bible – he was “outrageously offended.”

Travis Weber, the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, said every service member has a right to the free exercise of religion.

“It should be beyond clear that they are protected by the Constitution, statutory authority and regulations,” Weber told me.

He pointed to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces that reaffirmed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “applies in the military context.”

“Men and women signing up to defend our country do not give up this right – especially when, of all things, they are fighting to defend the very Constitution which contains this protection,” Weber said.

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin said the problem is that militant secularists see the Bible as a threat.

“Indeed it is a powerful weapon, but it is not a threat to America,” he said. “The military should be focused on the real threats to this nation.”

Perhaps the Air Force should offer complimentary counseling for those personnel suffering from PTBS (Post Traumatic Bible Syndrome)?

For the record, there is no evidence that any of Weinstein’s clients spontaneously combusted or converted after glancing at the Holy Bible.

from Got Questions:

There are several important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been many attempts in recent years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The following is brief summary of some of the more important differences:

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “sola scriptura” and is one of the “five solas” (sola is Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish its authority and its sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16, where we see that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority undermine the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many, if not all, of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such, the Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice), making his teachings infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establish the Pope’s authority. Protestants believe that the church’s authority comes not from apostolic succession but from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority do not rest in the hands of a mere man but in the very Word of God. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born-again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

Protestants point to passages such as John 14:16–17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (See also John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27.)

A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the five solas of the Reformation is sola fide (“faith alone”), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–10). However, Catholics teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that, on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God, as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must supplement the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious works.

Catholics and Protestants also disagree on what it means to be justified before God. To the Catholic, justification involves being made righteous and holy. He believes that faith in Christ is only the beginning of salvation and that the individual must build upon that with good works because God’s grace of eternal salvation must be merited. This view of justification contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as Romans 4:1–12, Titus 3:3–7, and many others. Protestants distinguish between the one-time act of justification (when we are declared righteous by God based on our faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross) and the process of sanctification (the development of righteousness that continues throughout our lives on earth). While Protestants recognize that works are important, they believe they are the result or fruit of salvation but never the means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.

A fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after death. Both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, but there are significant differences about what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance on non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us—when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6–10 and Philippians 1:23).

One disturbing aspect about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the belief that man can and must pay for his own sins. This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic view of salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was insufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him and that even a believer must pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant. Paul wrote Galatians to combat the Judaizers (Jews who said that Gentile Christians had to obey the Old Testament Law to be saved). Like the Judaizers, Catholics make human works necessary for one to be justified by God, and they end up with a completely different gospel.

It is our prayer that God will open the eyes of those who are putting their faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is our hope that everyone will understand that his “works of righteousness” cannot justify him or sanctify him (Isaiah 64:6). We pray that all will instead put their faith solely in the fact that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24–25). God saves us, “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).

from The Jewish Press:

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”

From The Christian Post:

An academic book that suggests the moral status of pedophilia is unclear, has some prominent social conservatives saying that we are now on a familiar, troubling path toward normalization of things once considered unthinkable.

Prominent defenders of traditional marriage highlighted on their social media pages Sunday a book called Pedophilia and Adult-Child Sex: A Philosophical Analysis by Stephen Kershnar, who is a professor and chair the philosophy department at State University of New York at Fredonia. The 168-page work, which was released last year and recently came to the attention of conservatives, examines the moral status of sexual relationships between adults and children, explores whether those who engage in that kind of sex “have a disease, act wrongly, or are vicious,” and engages the surrounding legal issues.

Publisher Rowman & Littlefield describes the book on its website as thus: “This book provides a philosophical analysis of adult–child sex and pedophilia. This sex intuitively strikes many people as sick, disgusting, and wrong. The problem is that it is not clear whether these judgments are justified and whether they are aesthetic or moral. By analogy, many people find it disgusting to view images of obese people having sex, but it is hard to see what is morally undesirable about such sex: here the judgment is aesthetic.”

Social conservatives have long pointed that redefining marriage amounts to a “slippery slope” and will lead to other previously inconceivable cultural shifts, but are often told that they are being irrationally extreme.

In a Monday interview with The Christian Post, Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, said that while he does not believe that pedophilia will be mainstreamed in the next few years, since most American are still repulsed by it, books like Kershnar’s indicate yet another dark front in the Left’s strategic war on Judeo-Christian moral norms.

Particularly disturbing to LaBarbera and others was this line from Kershnar’s book: “Adult-child sex involving willing participants has an unclear moral status.”

“Kershnar is injecting nuance and situational ambiguity to chip away at the near-universal understanding that sex between adults and kids is always wrong,” LaBarbera said, adding that “Sex radicals have learned from the successful campaign by ‘gay’ militants to normalize once-taboo behaviors and concepts like same-sex ‘marriage.’ Now they are in the ‘study’ phase on pedophilia,” LaBarbera said.

Already the shift has been taking place, and central to understanding how this happens is observing how the language frames public discourse about sexuality issues. As noted by the The Independent (UK) in April, some psychologists are now referring to pedophilia as a “sexual orientation,” giving it a degree, however small, of seeming legitimacy even as laws forbidding adult-child sex and child porn remain on the books. Yet others are even proclaiming themselves to be pedophiles though they stipulate they are “virtuous” in that they never intend to act on their impulses, as Todd Nickerson did in a 2015 Salon essay.

“Social conservatives must sound the alarm on any effort to mainstream adult-child sex. For the sake of vulnerable children, we must take this seriously — and not be intimidated by charges of scare-mongering,” LaBarbera told CP.

But doing so presents a Catch-22, he continued, because even engaging Kershar’s work “legitimize[s] this as an issue worthy of debate — thus creating the notion that there are two legitimate opinions on pedophilia.”

“There are not. Sex with children is inherently exploitative and immoral; it corrupts and victimizes kids, who often grow up to have perverse desires toward children themselves. Those like Kershnar who seek to make a case for pedophilia — or certain types of pedophilia — must be exposed and rebutted,” he concluded.

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