Sunday, October 11, 2015

The New Age of Christian Martyrdom - Ushered in by U.S. Leadership

It should grieve and burden us all to the depth of our souls that our freely elected government is directly responsible for unleashing the bloody wave of Islamic jihad and the New Age of Christian Martyrdom.  In our days, "rendering unto Caesar" results in our Christian brothers and sisters being tortured, raped, sold into slavery, and killed, all for their faith in Christ. God have mercy on us all... 

U.S. Leadership Ushers in New Age of Christian Martyrdom
by Raymond Ibrahim
Gatestone Institute, October 11, 2015

One of 21 Coptic Christians prays seconds before being
decapitated for refusing to renounce Christ for Muhammad.
Wherever U.S. leadership has helped Islamic jihadis topple secular autocrats in the name of “democracy and freedom,” indigenous Christian minorities are being forced to convert to Islam or die.

Many are accepting death.

Most recently, on August 28 near Aleppo, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) tortured, mutilated, publicly raped, beheaded and crucified 12 Christians for saying “they would never renounce Christ” for Muhammad.

The jihadis took one group in front of a large crowd.  They cut off the fingertips of a 12-year-old boy, who steadfastly refused to submit to Islam.  They “severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam.”  He refused, so they “also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.”

According to a Christian leader associated with the martyrs, “They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them.”  A sign saying “infidels” was placed next to their crosses.

The other eight Christians, including two women aged 29 and 33, were also ordered to renounce Christ and embrace Islam before a large crowd.  They refused:

The Islamic extremists then publicly raped the women, who continued to pray during the ordeal, leading the ISIS militants to beat them all the more furiously. 
As the two women and the six men knelt before they were beheaded, they were all praying. 
“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director said. “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!’" 
After they were beheaded, their bodies were hung on crosses, the ministry director said, his voice breaking.

The same is happening in the two other Arab nations where the U.S., under the pretext of “freedom and democracy,” overthrew the secular dictators who had long kept a lid on the jihadis: Iraq and Libya.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Syrian Christians cry 'JESUS!' before being beheaded by Islamic State

Another report on the 12 New Martyrs of Aleppo, Syria.

See also, 12 New Martyrs: Tortured, Crucified by Islamic State for refusing to renounce Christ.

by Mary Chastain, Breitbart News, October 5, 2015

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) executed 12 Christians, including a 12-year-old boy, after they refused to abandon their faith and convert to Islam. The murders occurred on August 28 outside of Aleppo.

“In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam,” revealed Christian Aid Mission.  “When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.”

The boy’s father was a “ministry team leader who planted nine churches.” One woman allegedly yelled “Jesus!” right before the terrorists beheaded her. Militants took eight aid workers, two of them females, to another village. They proceeded to rape the two females before they executed them.

“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” described one source. “One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'”

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Russia Declares ‘Holy War’ on Islamic State

"What the United States and its Western allies have wrought in the Middle East—culminating with the rise of a bloodthirsty caliphate and the worst atrocities of the 21st century—is as unholy as Russia’s resolve to fight it is holy." — Raymond Ibrahim


Russia Declares ‘Holy War’ on Islamic State
by Raymond Ibrahim, FrontPage Magazine, October 6, 2015

The Orthodox Christian Church, which is reclaiming its traditional role in post-Soviet Russia, has just described its government’s fight against the Islamic State and other jihadi groups in Syria as a “holy war.”

According to Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the Church’s Public Affairs Department,

The fight with terrorism is a holy battle and today our country is perhaps the most active force in the world fighting it.  The Russian Federation has made a responsible decision on the use of armed forces to defend the People of Syria from the sorrows caused by the arbitrariness of terrorists. Christians are suffering in the region with the kidnapping of clerics and the destruction of churches. Muslims are suffering no less.

This is not a pretext to justify intervention in Syria.  For years, Russia’s Orthodox leaders have been voicing their concern for persecuted Christians.  Back in February 2012, the Russian church described to Vladimir Putin the horrific treatment Christians are experiencing around the world, especially under Islam:

The head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Illarion, said that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world, specifying that he was talking about such countries as Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and India. The cleric asked Putin to make the protection of Christians one of the foreign policy directions in future. 
“This is how it will be, have no doubt,” Putin answered.

“We must protect Russia from that which has destroyed American society.” 
— Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian Patriarch Kirill once even wrote an impassioned letter to Obama, imploring him to stop empowering the murderers of Christians.  That the patriarch said “I am deeply convinced that the countries which belong to the Christian civilization bear a special responsibility for the fate of Christians in the Middle East” must have only ensured that the letter ended up in the Oval Office’s trash can.  After all, didn’t Obama make clear that America is “no longer a Christian nation“?

Ancient Faith Interview: Islam through the heart and mind of a convert to Orthodox Christianity - Part 2

The conclusion of an extended in-depth and fascinating interview conducted by Kevin Allen of Ancient Faith Today. Listen to Part 1 here.

Islam: Through the heart and mind of a convert to Orthodox Christianity - Part 2
Interview by Kevin Allen for Ancient Faith Today

Ancient Faith Radio, October 2, 2015 — Length: 32:14

In this two-part interview Kevin's guest is "George," who became a Sunni Muslim at age 14 and studied to become an Imam at a madrasa, studying Quran, Arabic language, Islamic theology, hadith, and jurisprudence. He left Islam and became an Orthodox Christian 20 years later. 

Among other things, Kevin and his guest discuss Islamic theology, common misunderstandings of Christianity by Muslims, differences between "orthodox" Islam and the Nation of Islam, the true understanding and practice in Islam of slavery and jihad, and the extraordinary journey that led "George" to Orthodox Christianity.

Devastated Christian Family: Our Longtime Muslim Friends and Neighbors Killed Our Children

St Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy,
commentary by Raymond Ibrahim, October 7, 2015

The above 6-minute video is a must-see.  It offers an up close and personal account of what Christian minorities are experiencing at the hands of jihadis and other Muslim “rebels” being supported in the Mideast by the Obama administration.

A Christian family from Iraq narrates how their young children were killed and burned alive, “simply for wearing the cross.” One of the remaining and traumatized children uses toy figures to show people how his siblings were slaughtered.

This family is identical to the other Christian refugees who fled the Islamic State in Iraq and came to America—only to be imprisoned and then thrown back to the lions by the Obama government.

Listen especially to the mother’s words starting around the 2:50 minute mark.  She talks about how the “ISIS” that attacked and killed her children were their own Muslim neighbors, whom they ate with, laughed with, and even provided educational and medical service to.

Fr. Stephen Freeman: 'Church Scandals Must Come'

As I saw this title in my feed for Pravmir this morning, I had a sense about it, and knew I had to read it right away. Please bear with my introductory remarks.

As I absorbed Fr Stephen's thoughts on scandal, it took me back to one of the most scandalous things I had ever encountered in my life in the Orthodox Church. It was the day in the summer of 2008 that I opened up a thin booklet by an Orthodox priest and professor, written to be "a guide for Orthodox Christians encountering Muslims," and read this:

"Muslims and Christians worship the same God."

The shock of reading such a statement, written by an Orthodox Christian priest, one who celebrates the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharist, and who is charged with defending the Church and the Holies with his very life, left me reeling. It was a scandalon — σκάνδαλα — as devastating and unbelievable as any I had encountered. And it started me on the path which would lead to me writing the book, Facing Islam, and then launching this blog.

That scandal set me on this path to refute the lie that says the God of Islam is the True God, for that is what one is saying, when one makes the above assertion.

That scandal compelled me to bear witness to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, Second Person of the Holy Triune Godhead, who became man for our sake, to restore us to the Father, to our divine calling as children of God.

The irony of that initial scandal is that while I recall vividly the reaction it provoked within me, and the torrent of righteous fervor it unleashed, over the years since, I have come to see my inner reaction to the many scandals caused by Islam and those who defend it — especially those Orthodox Christians who are so confused in their theology, ecclesiology and their notion of love as to affirm Islam itself — to become progressively more pensive, pained, sorrowful, and less angry, defensive, polemical.

Christ calls us to love our enemies, to forgive seventy times seven. This means, in the most stark and challenging context, to love and forgive the Muslim jihadist who is sawing our head off with a serrated knife. We have examples of Holy New Martyrs in our very day (and of their grieving families in the aftermath) doing exactly that.

But when one knows and is filled with the Truth, one cannot forgive the lie, only the liar. One cannot forgive the deception, only the deceived, the lost, precisely because "they know not what they do."

I have often quoted the words of Yuri Maximov (now Priest George) regarding the towering, prophetic example of New Priest-Martyr Daniil Sysoev of Moscow (†2009), and will do so again and again, for his words are perhaps the best summation of what my book, blog and mission are all about:

Among those who call themselves Orthodox, I have met such strange people who say that Fr. Daniel should not preach to Muslims, that one must respect their religion, and that there is no benefit from his preaching. But Fr. Daniel thought, as did the Lord, the Apostles, and all the saints, that one must respect mistaken people but not their mistakes. Truth is one, that which contradicts and negates truth is a lie, and respect for a lie is contempt for the truth. (Source)

Scandals must come, but it is often scandals which prove and test us, and most sharply delineate Truth from falsehood, Light from darkness, the True Way from the way to perdition.

Brothers and sisters, let us confess Jesus Christ and labor to be found in Him, that we may rejoice at His Coming, and not be ashamed. This is the True Faith. Amen.

Church Scandals Must Come
by Fr. Stephen Freeman, Glory to God for All Things, October 20, 2012

Scandals must come (Matt. 18:7).

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.

These are the words of Christ. He tells us that scandals are not only likely to happen – but that they will happen. They are necessary (ἀνάγκη).

Most readers will marvel that this is a quote from Jesus. The reason is simple: the Greek (ἀνάγκη γάρ ἐστιν ἐλθεῖν τὰ σκάνδαλα) is rarely translated in such a manner. “Stumbling blocks,” or “offenses,” is the more common way to render the word skandala (σκάνδαλα). But the Greek has a very simple cognate in English: scandal.

Why would Christ tell his disciples that scandals must come? It is a description of the nature of things in this world. The entrance of the Kingdom of God and its dwelling among men is not such that men will cease to be broken or evil. Christ warned His disciples that he himself would be betrayed – not by strangers – but by one of them!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Islamic Indoctrination Taking Place in Georgia Public Schools

Georgia Public Schools are teaching key components of Islamic dawah: “schools are reportedly forcing students to learn the Five Pillars of Islam—the creed one must learn to convert—and teaching students that Allah is the same God worshipped by Christians.” 

So far, unlike in Tennessee, they haven’t [yet] forced the students to actually recite the Shahada, the Muslim confession of faith.

Further, homework assignments are designed to indoctrinate students into accepting this assertion as fact, when it is a strongly contested point which many Orthodox and traditional Christians flatly reject, and with compelling reason.  In addition, the volume of Georgia school materials on Islam outnumber those on Christianity by up to 10 to 1, further highlighting the preferential treatment accorded Islam “in a way that could violate the U.S. Constitution.”

The “Same God” assertion is indeed a primary plank of Islamic dawah (proselytizing), and together with Islam’s claim to be an “Abrahamic Faith” is one of the main tools used by Muslim apologists to advance their agenda within unsuspecting Christian and Jewish communities.

Besides the theological issues with the “Same God” claim itself, Mark Durie explains some of the many dangers this and the “Abrahamic Faith” assertion conceals:

Monday, October 5, 2015

12 New Martyrs: Tortured, Crucified by Islamic State for refusing to renounce Christ

“In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam,” Christian Aid revealed, according to a report from Morning Star News. 

“When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.”

Why cut off the boy's fingertips? It's commanded in the Qur'an:
“When your Lord inspired to the angels, ‘I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'” (Qur’an 8:12)

They would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam: “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)

Why Crucifixion? It's commanded in the Qur'an: —
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (Qur’an 5:33)

12 Christians Brutally Executed by ISIS Refused to Renounce Name of Christ, Died Praying, Reciting Lord’s Prayer 
by Leah Marieann Klett, Gospel Herald, via Jihad Watch — October 2, 2015:

Thousands of Christians in Iraq and Syria are displaced thanks to ISIS terror.

Twelve Christians have been brutally executed by the Islamic State, including the 12-year-old son of a Syrian ministry team leader who had planted nine churches, because they refused to renounce the name of Jesus Christ and embrace Islam. The martyrs were faithful to the very end; right before one woman was beheaded by the terror group, she appeared to be smiling slightly as she said, “Jesus!”

Sunday, October 4, 2015

THE FOLLY OF COMFORTABLE CHRISTIANITY - A conversation with Bishop Pitirim of Dushanbe and Tadjikistan

Here is another 'Voice in the Wilderness', a clear-spoken, fearless and true bishop who does not flinch from proclaiming the Truth of Christ, and warning about the falsehood of Islam:

"Those who [convert to] Islam are precisely those who are Christian only in name. A true Christian would not become a Moslem purely due its theology — those who thoroughly know our theology and also know something even superficially about Islam can understand that there is no salvation in Islam."

His Eminence does make a couple of assertions concerning the Koran's commands regarding Christians, and about ISIS, which require a little clarification, so I have interjected a brief commentary with citations from the Koran, hadiths and other Islamic sources.  

THE FOLLY OF COMFORTABLE CHRISTIANITY - A conversation with Bishop Pitirim of Dushanbe and Tadjikistan
by Anastasia Rakhlina, Pravoslavie — October 2, 2015

On diluted Christianity, the rapid spread of Islamization, new “European values”, hatred for true Christianity, and where it all may lead.

Bishop Pitirim of Dushanbe and Tadjikistan

Comfortable Christianity is not wanting to carry your cross.”

Your Eminence, what are the “comfortable Christianity” and “pink Christianity” you talk about in your sermons that we publish on our site []? Could it be said that comfortable Christianity is the spiritual illness of our times?

—What did the Lord say? Take up your cross and follow Me. This is the meaning of Christianity. Comfortable Christianity is, first of all, not wanting to carry your cross.

This illness is endemic not only of our times, but began immediately. As soon as Christianity came to be, there were both zealous Christians and lazy Christians.

The first centuries of Christianity were by nature very uncomfortable—there were persecutions, and only the most zealous remained Christians. But those who were among the Christians simply by chance either renounced Christ, or, as many philosophers or scholars, did not want to change themselves to conform to Christian teaching. They instead wanted to change Christian teaching to suit themselves.

That is how the first heresies arose among the Gnostics. This was also a form of comfort—they wanted the convenience of thinking however they liked, without denying themselves anything.

And when Christianity became a permitted religion, from the time of St. Constantine the Great, this phenomenon of “comfortable Christianity” began. Why did monasteries become so widespread then? Because zealous Christians left the cities, where it had become impossible to preserve zeal.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Russian Orthodox Synod to host Evening in Honor of Priest-Martyr Daniil Sysoev

This is a very significant event, and seems to be a direct fruit of the organization which has only recently begun translating Fr Daniil's books into English and selling them through their online store.

For more on New Priest-Martyr Daniil Sysoev, whom I consider to be the Orthodox Proto-Martyr of the 21st Century, see my Special Resource Page, which I hope to expand over the coming weeks.

October 1, 2015

On Sunday, November 8, after the Divine Liturgy and luncheon at the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, a memorial evening will be held to honor the memory of Priest Daniel Sysoev, on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of his martyric death.

This will be the first open meeting in America dedicated to the memory of Fr. Daniel Sysoev. This is a man whose name is closely tied to the rebirth of missionary work in modern Russia. This is a man who uncompromisingly preached God’s truth and was vouchsafed a martyr’s death six years ago at the hands of a Muslim terrorist, in the church that he built. 

Well-known are the ancient words: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." At this meeting, attendees will be convinced of the fact that these words are just as real in our time. 

Among the guests are family and friends of Fr. Daniel, and modern Orthodox missionaries. They will speak about how Fr. Daniel’s life, death, and legacy have impacted the growth of Orthodoxy in Russia, China, India, Thailand, the Philippines, and many other countries.

This is a unique opportunity to become better acquainted with an example of modern sainthood, as well as to learn a little bit about what is perhaps the least explored sphere of Orthodox Church life.

Invitation is open to anyone interested in seeing a reflection of the Apostolic Faith in our time and hearing testimonies of the life of a man who overcame this world and laid down his life for God’s truth.

Free admittance. Address:

ROCOR Synod of Bishops
75 East 93rd Street
New York, NY, 10128

Organized by – Daniel Sysoev, Inc.
Please address all questions by e-mail: