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Archive for the ‘Signs of The Times’ Category

from Real Clear Politics:

At Thursday’s “LGBTQ Equality” town hall on CNN, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage to lose tax-exempt status.

“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone … that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us,” he said.

CNN, DON LEMON: Congressman, I want to ask you a question. This is from your LGBTQ plan, and here’s what you write. This is a quote. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right but it should not be used to discriminate. Do you think religious institutions, like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?

BETO O’ROURKE: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so as president, we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.

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from 828 Ministries:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. — Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. — Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV)

Only let your manner of life be worthyof the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, – Philippians 1:27 (ESV)

https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/77917-join-kenneth-copeland-and-lou-engle-in-these-healing-prayers-for-the-body

The bible prophesies in Revelation the state of the world leading up to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. While the date cannot be known, the birth pains can be felt, and one area of Eschatology experts agree on is the establishment of a one world religion. We need to be ever vigilant against the calls for false unity, which are heard nearly every day from the purpose driven industrial complex. To them, a unified church means more suckers to sell their wares to. To Satan however, it means unifying the people of God in something other than His Gospel and we need to make sure that the true remnant stays unified in Christ. The above link is to the most recent call for false unity. So, let us reason together once more and be reminded what we need to be watchful for.

This week, we are in the midst of praying through the 40-day Jewish season of repentance, Teshuvah. The word “Teshuvah” literally means to return to the presence of God. It is a season of introspection and repentance for Christians to come into unity with God, as Jesus prayed in John 17:21. However, as Jesus prayed, unity with God also requires unity with each other in Christ (John 17:20-23). Yet, almost since the beginning of Christianity, believers have quarreled about Christian doctrine and church government. The first Jerusalem Council served as an example of a favorably resolved dispute (Acts 15). However, other disputes resulted in division and treatment of opponents as non-Christians. As Ralph Martin famously said, “The body of Christ is broken.” Today there are many denominations and doctrines which create a great diversity within the body of Christ. Yet, we can still be united in Christ. Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullmann said, “Unity in the church … is unity in diversity … recognizing others in all their variety as true Christians.” — Ron Allen

Would it surprise you to learn that there is no Christian season called Teshuva? Or that the word actually means to simply repent? When scouring the Jewish calendar, we see no such record of the season of Teshuva. The only Christian referent we could find was to the wildly heretical ministry of Perry Stone. So, the notion that this Jewish word for repentance is secretly a season for Christians to return to the presence of God, be introspective, and come into unity is absolutely made up. The entire thing is a work of fiction. Christians have quarreled since the beginning because God is so clear about being careful to avoid false doctrine. Paul only tells Timothy to guard two things. His life and his doctrine. His doctrine because the eternal lives of his listeners is at stake. Our first key verse is crucial to understanding unity because disunity is sown in the body through the admission of false teaching. Most charlatans point to discernment ministries or people criticizing what is false as the source of disunity but it is their false teaching that divided the body to begin with. The second key verse is crucial to remember that only the Gospel, the true Gospel, has the power of God to save someone. What does that mean preacher? That means without the preaching of the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ, no one gets saved — period, full stop. I have had well intended people ask me if people can get saved through a heretical ministry such as Joel Osteen’s and the answer is no. Not according to the bible anyway. Now, can Osteen force someone to seek the truth and thus get saved by someone else presenting the Gospel? Of course, but that person is saved in spite of Osteen, not because of him.

read the full article here.

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Todd Bentley was rotten and a false teacher from the start, so this article should not surprise anyone!

from The “Christian” Post:

Stephen Powell, an estranged protégé of controversial evangelist Todd Bentley at Fresh Fire USA, has publicly dismissed his mentor as “not fit for public ministry,” alleging that he has a “perverse sexual addiction” that has driven him to prey on interns.

Citing personal and reported testimony, Powell, who runs Lion of Light Ministries in Pineville, North Carolina, alleged in a lengthy post on Facebook Thursday that Bentley “has an appetite for a variety of sexual sins, including both homosexual and heterosexual activity.” He was not immediately available to respond to The Christian Post’s request for further comment on Friday.

Powell also charged that Bentley’s behavior is enabled and covered up by his wife, Jessa, as well as Christian leaders in the evangelist’s orbit such as Rick Joyner, author of The Final Quest and founder of Morning Star Ministries and Heritage International Ministries.

Joyner helped Bentley create Fresh Fire USA in 2009, the year after Bentley separated from now ex-wife, Shonnah, and got involved in an emotional relationship with a staff member. Joyner was also part of the “healing team” that was formed to help restore Bentley after the divorce and emotional affair.

In a Facebook Live broadcast on Friday, Joyner said he currently has no authority over Bentley and acknowledged being aware of accusations that he had preyed on interns. He also acknowledged that Powell had come to him and tried to pressure him into taking swift action against Bentley. He accused Powell of operating in a spirit of “witchcraft” for going public with his knowledge.

“When people come to me with pressuring, manipulating, especially threatening if I don’t do something their way, or in their time, I know that’s the devil,” Joyner said. “That’s in Scripture, counterfeit spiritual authority which is called witchcraft. That is not the Holy Spirit. We’ve got to start recognizing what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not.”

Powell said that even though he had been aware of misconduct by Bentley over the years, much of the evidence supporting his current allegations came to light this summer after he started appealing to Joyner to stage an intervention.

“Down through the years, Todd [Bentley] has made sexual advances toward (and in some cases engaged in sexual sin with) a number of different men and women outside his marriage, many of them interns and/or students under his leadership care in the church,” Powell alleged.

Powell cited testimony from a male intern who claimed in 2013 that Bentley offered to pay him $1,000 if he allowed him to perform oral sex on him.

He said the intern told him: “‘There was a time that I was with Todd and I was struggling to get by. … I was living with my sister, working a job, just trying to pay my bills and get by, and Todd was supposed to be my mentor you know. And we’re hanging out and he’s paying for me to eat out, paying for me here, paying for me there, you know, and always showing off his money you know. … And he was like, ‘I know you’re struggling so’… I don’t know how it came up, but He was like, ‘Can I suck your d— for $1,000?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I was like, ‘What the F is your freaking problem?’ … And I was like, oblivious. … And you know, it was not just that. … I saw pictures of His wife naked, fully naked, the whole nine yards.”

He said he was told by another male intern who witnessed what happened that he informed Joyner of Bentley’s actions but ultimately “nothing was done and Todd was still allowed to go on in ministry as if everything was okay.”

In a response on Facebook Friday, Bentley admitted to “having a past” and noted that the allegations against him weren’t new.

“I decided to come out in a public way ahead of what has been brewing in recent months….This isn’t something new as many of the things that I’m dealing with do go back up to six, seven years. Yes, old stuff. I do have a past and many of the things I’m being accused of today come from the fact that I’ve had cracks in my foundation. I’m not about to hide, try to lie or run from the fact that I have a past in which my wife and my therapist [have been a part],” he explained.

He said he has been working with a therapist for approximately one year as well as an accountability team.

Bentley called many of the current accusations against him, “false.”

“They are gossip, they are swirl, they are speculation, hearsay and they are without any real evidence. As far as let the accusers come forth. Let them name names. Let them meet with me, with Rick. With whoever is on my leadership. I would love to be able to look in the eye of the people making the claims,” he said.

“I do have the things in my past I gotta say … whether they are six months, a year, two years, five, six, seven. Many of the things that I’ve addressed and continue to address in my life to be clean,” he said.

“I am not guilty of the things that I’m being accused of as far as those homosexual acts. Things that are taken out of context in inappropriate text messages or conversations that I had that were not right that I’ve had to own, that go back to 2013,” he said, noting that he didn’t have any sexual affairs or commit adultery.

He said he is now leaning on the prayers and support of his friends, then read a prepared statement after assuring his followers that his ongoing healing revival will continue.

In his response, Joyner explained that after he completed oversight of Bentley’s restoration in 2012 stemming from the 2008 scandal, the evangelist has been charting his own path while continuing counseling.

“I do not have authority over Todd Bentley. Those of you who know the story had the issues [that manifested in 2008]. I was asked by Peter Wagner as a representative of the Revival Alliance to oversee Todd’s restoration. I was given very few guidelines, [not] anything. Just here, you take this. We think you’re supposed to do it. I thought I was the worst one in the world to do it,” he said. “I’m not good at that. That’s not my type of calling.”

He said he prayed about it, however, and he felt like God would give him the grace to do it.

“I would say this about Todd, he’s still being restored but guess what? So am I. So are you. We still have a ways to go. I felt like the Lord showed me in 2008 that this wasn’t the last big public embarrassment that Todd was gonna have or mistake or sin. I was given a Scripture in Proverbs where the righteous fall seven times. Even the righteous fall seven times, but He said Todd would keep getting back up. He said he would fight on. But I never expected after we released him in I think about 2012, that he would be perfect,” Joyner said.

He disputes as well that nothing was done when he learned of Bentley’s behavior toward interns.

“A situation arose in 2013 when Todd, a friend brought some text messages that Todd had sent to some interns. I was appalled,” Joyner said.

“They are in the accusations that the brother put out yesterday. I was shocked. I still didn’t have authority over Todd but I went to him as a brother and I confronted him with it. As a matter of fact, I confronted him harder than I ever confronted anybody over anything. I was absolutely outraged,” he said.

“If a brother is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore them, and do it in a spirit of gentleness lest we too be tempted. So I’ve resolved to obey that. I’m not gonna turn away from anyone who is caught in any trespass. And I’ll be honest with you, working with some really public figures … my whole concept of any trespass got so stretched. And my concept of what God would give His grace and mercy to got so stretched. Even the deplorable things that Todd did do in this case, to me, they weren’t shocking anymore. And I’ve seen God help people through things way worse,” Joyner said.

He said Bentley got counseling and repented of the things he did in 2013, and he along with others will investigate the other allegations made by Powell.

“My opinion, the things that are said about me and written about me in this accusation, I thought they were not only not true but in my opinion, they were the opposite of the truth. They obviously helped me doubt everything else in it except for what was true that Todd had done way back in 2013. But the rest of it, we’re still gonna examine. We’re still gonna check out and try to get with witnesses and everything else. It’s a long process. I can’t just lay everything else I am doing down,” Joyner said.

Citing testimony he was given, Powell alleged that Joyner refused to help the young male intern who reported Bentley in 2013.

Another intern alleged that Bentley offered to pay him $500 to send the evangelist a video of him masturbating, while yet another claimed that Bentley and his wife frequently sent him explicit photos and videos.

It was further alleged by Powell that Bentley “made out with his young female assistant whom he is not married to, walked into a room, closed the door, and stayed in there for at least 30 minutes with Jessa being in the same house and knowing about it.”

Citing several other accusations in the post as well as in a Facebook Live broadcast, Powell said he was forced to speak out because the leaders of Bentley’s ministry have done nothing to address the evangelist’s behavior.

“I believe that both Todd and his wife, Jessa, are both complicit in this sexual perversion and have both participated in inviting other sexual partners, both men and women, into their marriage bed. Todd and Jessa’s relationship and marriage began in sexual sin and it appears that that sin has only grown and become stronger in their lives over the years, despite the bond of marriage they share,” he continued.

“I believe Todd is not fit for public ministry. On top of his sexual sins, he has proven to be a compulsive liar, he lacks financial integrity when handling God’s money, and he is a substance abuser that has drawn many others into these sins with him over the years. I believe Todd has proven over more than two decades of ministry, moral failures, and abuse of others that he cannot be trusted with the care of God’s people.”

Powell said he was a janitor at a small church in Alaska in 2012 when he met Bentley who “recognized a ministry gift on my life and began mentoring me in ministry.”

Bentley, he said, helped him get established as an itinerant preacher but in recent years, he began distancing himself from the evangelist after God spoke to him about holiness. He admitted to being involved in crude behavior while he was a part of Bentley’s camp but said he was never a part of any sexual acts.

“I myself have seen things over the years that I find very disturbing. I myself have seen Todd preach, pray, and prophesy over the people, only to leave the meeting, purchase hard liquor, and walk into his hotel to party the rest of the night,” Powell said.

“I myself have seen and heard Todd and Jessa speak with unclean/foul speech. I confess that I myself, at times in the past, have gotten caught up in some of this culture of speech that’s unpleasing to the Lord … what one might call ‘guy talk’ or ‘locker room banter,’ which the Lord has dealt with my heart on and I’ve repented for. But honestly, with the vile culture that has infiltrated the charismatic church, it is extremely difficult at times to have fellowship with other ministers, and build alliances with others for the kingdom, and not be affected by this stuff,” he explained.

Powell noted that he is hoping Bentley will respond to the allegations with repentance.

“At the end of the day, given the evidence I have and the 100’s of hours I’ve spent on the phone talking to witnesses, I am fully convinced that Todd & Jessa both have lost the privilege to minister to God’s people any longer, in full time ministry,” he said.

“When someone has a record of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, inappropriate behavior, drunkenness, lying, & cheating going back more than 20 years … and they have repeatedly been offered great mercy and grace rather than disqualification from ministry, yet they continue to behave in this matter … in my mind and through what I can see in the scripture, they have lost the right and privilege to minister to God’s people ever again, in their own public ministry.”

Joyner argued that Powell acted out of frustration, which is not of God.

“This brother put out this thing yesterday, admitted he did this out of frustration because I wouldn’t meet with him. I was gonna meet with him, but at the right time and for the right reason. I was not gonna cave to his pressuring threatening, manipulating, anything else,” he said. “Frustration, I don’t think is a fruit of the spirit … If we do things out of frustration that is not going to be the Spirit of God.”

Powell argued that he, along with some of the witnesses he interviewed to compile evidence he submitted to Fresh Fire leaders, have already been threatened.

“Some of the witnesses I talked to at the beginning of my investigation have since withdrawn their testimony because they have been threatened by people involved in this network of sin and cover-ups. I’ve come across at least one witness who was paid off and made to sign a legal gag order in order to keep silent about the great sins and abominations he’s witnessed. And in some cases, I personally have been threatened with a lawsuit and violence if I revealed my findings,” he said.

Regardless of the allegations, Joyner believes that Bentley and his ministry will survive and the exposure will be “used for good, for Todd, for me.”

“I’ve seen the consequences of those who’ve done the things that this brother is doing … I was waiting to meet with him so that I could have something from God that I could give to him that might help set him free from the course that I believed him to be on,” Joyner said. “It’s a black hole when you start to believe you’re the police of the body of Christ but you’re not getting that from above. You’re getting it from the devil.”

 

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from Christian Headlines:

The president of a seminary founded in 1836 on the “infallible” Word of God says in a new interview she doesn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, the power of prayer, a literal heaven, or miracles.

Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, made the comments in an interview with Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times for an article published Easter weekend. Although the author’s intent may have been to inspire readers, it also served to spotlight the leftward drift of many seminaries.

Union Theological Seminary’s founding constitution stated the seminary’s goal was to “promote” the “Kingdom of Christ.” Professors were required to affirm they believed “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God” and the “only infallible rule of faith and practice.”

But as Jones made clear, the seminary is a very different school today.

She rejects a literal bodily resurrection of Christ.

“When you look in the Gospels, the stories are all over the place. There’s no resurrection story in Mark, just an empty tomb. Those who claim to know whether or not it happened are kidding themselves,” Jones said. “… Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me, the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope?”

She rejects the idea that God miraculously heals through prayer.

“I don’t believe in a God who, because of prayer, would decide to cure your mother’s cancer but not cure the mother of your nonpraying neighbor,” she said. “We can’t manipulate God like that.”

She rejects the virgin birth.

“I find the virgin birth a bizarre claim,” she said. “It has nothing to do with Jesus’ message. The virgin birth only becomes important if you have a theology in which sexuality is considered sinful. It also promotes this notion that the pure, untouched female body is the best body, and that idea has led to centuries of oppressing women.”

Asked what happens when people die, Jones responded, “I don’t know! There may be something, there may be nothing. My faith is not tied to some divine promise about the afterlife.”

Asked how we can reconcile an “omnipotent, omniscient God” with evil and suffering, Jones responded, “At the heart of faith is mystery. God is beyond our knowing, not a being or an essence or an object. But I don’t worship an all-powerful, all-controlling omnipotent, omniscient being. That is a fabrication of Roman juridical theory and Greek mythology.”

When Kristof asked her if he can be considered a Christian after not believing in a virgin birth or resurrection, Jones answered, “Well, you sound an awful lot like me, and I’m a Christian. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Jones rejected the “entire edifice of orthodox, biblical Christianity.”

“This is not Christianity,” Mohler wrote. “This is a new religion, a new god, formed in an image intended not to offend modern secular sensibilities. She has constructed a god from post-modern theology that in no way resembles the God of the Bible – the one true God.”

Mohler observed that Jones denied “the reality of the resurrection, the necessity of the virgin birth, the attributes of God, the power of prayer, and the existence of heaven and hell.”

“According to Jones,” Mohler wrote. “there is no cross on which Jesus died for sin, there is no Father who sent the Son to pay our ransom, there is no bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead as a sign and seal of God’s promises – indeed, she has denied everything that makes the gospel good news. She even denies that God is a ‘being.’”

Jones claims to be a Christian minister while simultaneously rejecting “every tenet of the historic Christian faith,” Mohler said.

“Why would anyone identify as a Christian minister and then deny the entire superstructure of Christian theology?” Mohler asked. “What we see here is a hope to replace biblical Christianity with a new religion without anyone noticing.”

 

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from Vox:

A new priest named Mindar is holding forth at Kodaiji, a 400-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Like other clergy members, this priest can deliver sermons and move around to interface with worshippers. But Mindar comes with some … unusual traits. A body made of aluminum and silicone, for starters.

Mindar is a robot.

Designed to look like Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy, the $1 million machine is an attempt to reignite people’s passion for their faith in a country where religious affiliation is on the decline.

For now, Mindar is not AI-powered. It just recites the same preprogrammed sermon about the Heart Sutra over and over. But the robot’s creators say they plan to give it machine-learning capabilities that’ll enable it to tailor feedback to worshippers’ specific spiritual and ethical problems.

“This robot will never die; it will just keep updating itself and evolving,” said Tensho Goto, the temple’s chief steward. “With AI, we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It’s changing Buddhism.”

Robots are changing other religions, too. In 2017, Indians rolled out a robot that performs the Hindu aarti ritual, which involves moving a light round and round in front of a deity. That same year, in honor of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Germany’s Protestant Church created a robot called BlessU-2. It gave preprogrammed blessings to over 10,000 people.

Then there’s SanTO — short for Sanctified Theomorphic Operator — a 17-inch-tall robot reminiscent of figurines of Catholic saints. If you tell it you’re worried, it’ll respond by saying something like, “From the Gospel according to Matthew, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Roboticist Gabriele Trovato designed SanTO to offer spiritual succor to elderly people whose mobility and social contact may be limited. Next, he wants to develop devices for Muslims, though it remains to be seen what form those might take.

As more religious communities begin to incorporate robotics — in some cases, AI-powered and in others, not — it stands to change how people experience faith. It may also alter how we engage in ethical reasoning and decision-making, which is a big part of religion.

For the devout, there’s plenty of positive potential here: Robots can get disinterested people curious about religion or allow for a ritual to be performed when a human priest is inaccessible. But robots also pose risks for religion — for example, by making it feel too mechanized or homogenized or by challenging core tenets of theology. On the whole, will the emergence of AI religion make us better or worse off? The answer depends on how we design and deploy it — and on whom you ask.

Some cultures are more open to religious robots than others

New technologies often make us uncomfortable. Which ones we ultimately accept — and which ones we reject — is determined by an array of factors, ranging from our degree of exposure to the emerging technology to our moral presuppositions.

Japanese worshippers who visit Mindar are reportedly not too bothered by questions about the risks of siliconizing spirituality. That makes sense given that robots are already so commonplace in the country, including in the religious domain.

For years now, people who can’t afford to pay a human priest to perform a funeral have had the option to pay a robot named Pepper to do it at a much cheaper rate. And in China, at Beijing’s Longquan Monastery, an android monk named Xian’er recites Buddhist mantras and offers guidance on matters of faith.

What’s more, Buddhism’s non-dualistic metaphysical notion that everything has inherent “Buddha nature” — that all beings have the potential to become enlightened — may predispose its adherents to be receptive to spiritual guidance that comes from technology.

At the temple in Kyoto, Goto put it like this: “Buddhism isn’t a belief in a God; it’s pursuing Buddha’s path. It doesn’t matter whether it’s represented by a machine, a piece of scrap metal, or a tree.”

“Mindar’s metal skeleton is exposed, and I think that’s an interesting choice — its creator, Hiroshi Ishiguro, is not trying to make something that looks totally human,” said Natasha Heller, an associate professor of Chinese religions at the University of Virginia. She told me the deity Kannon, upon whom Mindar is based, is an ideal candidate for cyborgization because the Lotus Sutra explicitly says Kannon can manifest in different forms — whatever forms will best resonate with the humans of a given time and place.

Westerners seem more disturbed by Mindar, likening it to Frankenstein’s monster. In Western economies, we don’t yet have robots enmeshed in many aspects of our lives. What we do have is a pervasive cultural narrative, reinforced by Hollywood blockbusters, about our impending enslavement at the hands of “robot overlords.”

Plus, Abrahamic religions like Islam or Judaism tend to be more metaphysically dualistic — there’s the sacred and then there’s the profane. And they have more misgivings than Buddhism about visually depicting divinity, so they may take issue with Mindar-style iconography.

They also have different ideas about what makes a religious practice effective. For example, Judaism places a strong emphasis on intentionality, something machines don’t possess. When a worshipper prays, what matters is not just that their mouth forms the right words — it’s also very important that they have the right intention.

Meanwhile, some Buddhists use prayer wheels containing scrolls printed with sacred words and believe that spinning the wheel has its own spiritual efficacy, even if nobody recites the words aloud. In hospice settings, elderly Buddhists who don’t have people on hand to recite prayers on their behalf will use devices known as nianfo ji — small machines about the size of an iPhone, which recite the name of the Buddha endlessly.

Despite such theological differences, it’s ironic that many Westerners have a knee-jerk negative reaction to a robot like Mindar. The dream of creating artificial life goes all the way back to ancient Greece, where the ancients actually invented real animated machines as the Stanford classicist Adrienne Mayor has documented in her book Gods and Robots. And there is a long tradition of religious robots in the West.

In the Middle Ages, Christians designed automata to perform the mysteries of Easter and Christmas. One proto-roboticist in the 16th century designed a mechanical monk that is, amazingly, performing ritual gestures to this day. With his right arm, he strikes his chest in a mea culpa; with his left, he raises a rosary to his lips.

In other words, the real novelty is not the use of robots in the religious domain but the use of AI……..

Read the full article here.

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Actually he never was a follower of Christ! Most people are misunderstood how salvation works, in actual fact God chooses whose are his and brings those people to Christ, it is not a personal choice to follow Jesus, this is a hard thing to grasp it is not Hyper Calvinism which teaches “Once saved always saved” so do want you want! It is  a much deeper concept than that, and almost beyond our comprehension to grasp it!

From The Daily Mail:

An evangelical Christian author and dating guru who advocated against gay marriage has turned his back on his faith after splitting from his wife and apologized to the LGBTQ community.

Joshua Harris, 44, rose to fame as a pastor and Christian author who penned the bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye in 1997 – a book in which he argues against premarital sex.

But on Saturday, he took to Instagram to reveal that he no longer considers himself a believer and apologized for his once ‘bigoted’ LGBTQ views writing, ‘By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.’

His candid post followed his Instagram announcement on July 17 that he and his wife Shannon Bonne were separating after 21 years of marriage.

‘The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,’ he revealed.

‘To the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me,’ he said.

Despite the big shake-up in his life, Harris says he doesn’t view his breakaway from the faith negatively.

‘I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”,’ he said.

Harris formerly led the Covenant Life megachurch in Gaithersburg, Maryland but stepped down in 2014 after a former church volunteer was convicted of child sex abuse, as per Christian Post.

He revealed that since his divorce and breakaway from the faith, he’s received messages of support and grace from Christians, non-believers, and LGBTQ-community members alike.

He shocked his Christian community earlier this month when he announced he and his wife of 21-years were separating.

In his famed 1997 book he argued that Christians should practice ‘courting’ instead of traditional dating practices because the latter leads to divorce.

‘We’re writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends,’ they wrote in their joint statement.

‘In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision.

‘We hope to create a generous and supportive future for each other and for our three amazing children in the years ahead. Thank you for your understanding and for respecting our privacy during a difficult time.’

The author and his wife did not reveal whether they have plans to officially divorce.

Evangelical Christians traditionally consider divorce to be a sin, an interpretation based on certain passages in the Bible that seem to prohibit the legal split of a man and wife who have been joined in a lifelong union in the eyes of God.

Over the past couple of years Harris revealed he re-evaluated and at times regretted his statements in his best-selling book, particularly after going through his own marriage.

‘I think it’s made us realize how there’s heartache and there’s pain no matter what pathway you choose in life,’ he said. ‘There’s no path you can choose that can protect you from that.’

Joshua was a 21-year-old virgin who had been homeschooled his entire life when he wrote ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ according to Slate.

The book shaped — and in some cases ruined — the lives of many conservative Christians who took his teachings as gospel.

Over the past couple of years Harris revealed he re-evaluated and at times regretted his statements in his best-selling book, particularly after going through his own marriage.

‘I think it’s made us realize how there’s heartache and there’s pain no matter what pathway you choose in life,’ he said. ‘There’s no path you can choose that can protect you from that.’

Joshua was a 21-year-old virgin who had been homeschooled his entire life when he wrote ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ according to Slate.

The book shaped — and in some cases ruined — the lives of many conservative Christians who took his teachings as gospel.

Not only did he promote saving yourself for marriage in the controversial publication, but he even went as far as shunning kissing and hand-holding.

Joshua also warned of ’emotional hookups,’ insisting you shouldn’t fall in love with someone who you won’t end up marrying.

The author married Shannon when he was 23 years old and went on to release more books about dating and marriage, including ‘Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust’ and ‘Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship.’

A few years ago, Joshua went on an apology tour of sorts, saying he was re-thinking the best-seller that launched him into Christian fame.

‘Part of the reason this has been so hard for me is that I have so much of my identity tied up in these books. It’s what I’m known for,’ he told Slate. ‘It’s like, well, crap, is the biggest thing I’ve done in my life this really huge mistake?’

The father of three also shared an apology on his website, writing: ‘While I stand by my book’s call to sincerely love others, my thinking has changed significantly in the past twenty years.

‘I no longer agree with its central idea that dating should be avoided. I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner.’

He added: ‘To those who read my book and were misdirected or unhelpfully influenced by it, I am sincerely sorry. I never intended to hurt you.

‘I know this apology doesn’t change anything for you and it’s coming too late, but I want you to hear that I regret any way that my ideas restricted you, hurt you, or gave you a less-than-biblical view of yourself, your sexuality, your relationships, and God.’

In the statement, the author shared that he asked his publisher to stop printing the book and two related titles.

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from Campus Reform:

Swarthmore College offers a course on “Queering God,” most recently taught during the spring 2019 semester, that provides a feminist and queer perspective of the Bible, while also exploring God’s gender identity.

The course, taught by Professor Gwynn Kessler, questions whether God is a masculine or feminine figure through the examination of feminist and queer writings. Its course description says the class “stretch[es] the limits of gendering-and sexing-the divine.” Key themes of the class, also outlined in the course description, include gender, embodiment, masculinity, liberation, sexuality, and feminist and queer theory.

“Part of the student community definitely wants to have more representation and to have LGBTQ issues addressed in courses and elsewhere on campus,” a Swarthmore student, who asked to remain anonymous, told Campus Reform. “This means spreading awareness and getting people to action through taking courses like this.”

Natalie, another Swarthmore student who asked for her last name not to be published, noted that the school demonstrates “normalized progressivism, unfazed by even the most controversial topics.”

Queering the Bible is a similar course that the institution offers, which uses Biblical readings from a queer and transgender perspective to explore sex, identity, and gender. Campus Reform has previously reported on the rise of such courses in American academic institutions.

“I took [Queering the Bible] because I’ve always overheard of people claiming that being queer, specifically homosexual, was a sin, or that the Bible said so,” another Swarthmore student, who also asked to remain anonymous, said. “It pushed me to ask questions so absurd that it seems even unthinkable to ask.”

Kessler is an associate professor of religion at Swarthmore College. She received her Ph.D. in Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and has taught at various universities in the U.S., including the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Florida. Kessler has taught many different courses, some of which are on Jewish History, Judaism and Gender, Judaism and Ecology, Feminist Theology, and Religion and Gender. In her university bio, it says that her work fits the categories of “postmodern, feminist, and queer theoretical approaches.”

Campus Reform reached out to Kessler for comments regarding her course but received no response in time for publication.

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