Pope Francis Sides With Muslim Activist Groups Over Declaration Of Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel

“Concerns about the prospective for peace in the region are the object in these days of various initiatives, among them meetings called urgently by the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation,” the communiqué read.
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On Sunday the Vatican issued a communiqué appealing for cooperation with groups like the Arab League that are concerned with the recent decision by the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Pope Francis prayed that it would remain forever divided. In the aftermath of Trump’s decision, he now expresses support for the Arab League and the Organization For Islamic Cooperation. Can you guess which side the pope is rooting for?

“Concerns about the prospectives for peace in the region are the object in these days of various initiatives, among them meetings called urgently by the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation,” the communiqué read.

“The Holy See is attentive to these concerns, and recalling the heartfelt words of Pope Francis, reiterates its well-known position concerning the singular character of the Holy City and the essential need for respecting the status quo, in conformity with the deliberations of the international community and the repeated requests of the hierarchies of the Churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land,” it said.

The statement came just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel from its present location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as well as formally recognizing the Holy City as the capital of the Israeli state. The communiqué was released in both Italian and English.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis appealed for respect for the “status quo” in Jerusalem, after the United States announced the transfer of its embassy in Israel to the Holy City.

“My thoughts now turn to Jerusalem,” the Pope said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall after his weekly General Audience. “I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the last days.”

“At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone’s commitment to respect the city’s status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions,” he said.

On the same day, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published an article titled “Trump Inflames the Middle East,” describing U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel as igniting a powder keg in the region.

The article spoke of an increased “risk of terrorism in the region” as well as “mounting fears of possible demonstrations of protest and unrest.” The announcement has given rise to “profound perplexity” even within the Trump administration, the Vatican daily declared.

In its communiqué Sunday, the Vatican reiterated its “conviction that only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and lasting peace, and guarantee the peaceful co-existence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

The statement said that the Holy See “follows with great attention the developments of the situation in the Middle East, with special reference to Jerusalem, a sacred city for Christians, Jews and Muslims from all over the world.” source

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DAYS OF RAGE: ARABS, THE UN AND ALL OF EUROPE REJECT TRUMP’S RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM AS CAPITAL OF ISRAEL

France rejected the “unilateral” decision while appealing for calm in the region. Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state. Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.
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ARABS AND MUSLIMS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST ON WEDNESDAY CONDEMNED THE U.S. RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL’S CAPITAL AS AN INCENDIARY MOVE IN A VOLATILE REGION AND PALESTINIANS SAID WASHINGTON WAS ABANDONING ITS LEADING ROLE AS A PEACE MEDIATOR.

“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” Zechariah 14:2 (KJV)

EDITOR’S  NOTE: President Trump yesterday committed the unpardonable crime of recognizing that Jerusalem, mentioned 811 times in the King James Bible, is the capital of Israel as the Bible says it is. His announcement has set off a firestorm of protest not just in the Muslim world, but in all of the European Union as well. If you thought that antisemitism died with Hitler’s Germany, you’re very much mistaken. The Bible says that “all the world” in the time of Jacob’s trouble, will come against Israel under Antichrist. We are watching a little foretaste of that right now. Thank God that saved believers get out of here in the Rapture of the Church before that all comes down. I wonder which nation or nations will come against Israel right here and now in protest of Trump’s bold announcement? Watch and see what will be with the “burdensome stone” that is Jerusalem.

The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

Major U.S. allies came out against Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. and broad international policy on Jerusalem.

France rejected the “unilateral” decision while appealing for calm in the region. Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state. Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution.

Israel, by contrast, applauded Trump’s move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a pre-recorded video message that it was “an important step towards peace” and it was “our goal from Israel’s first day”.

JERUSALEM STATUS: WORLD CONDEMNS TRUMP’S ANNOUNCEMENT

He added that any peace accord with the Palestinians would have to include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and he urged other countries to follow Trump’s example.

TRUMP UPENDED DECADES OF U.S. POLICY IN DEFIANCE OF WARNINGS FROM AROUND THE WORLD THAT THE GESTURE RISKS AGGRAVATING CONFLICT IN THE TINDERBOX MIDDLE EAST.

The status of Jerusalem is home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

Israel deems Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital dating to antiquity, and its status is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a pre-recorded speech, said Jerusalem was the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine” and that Trump’s move was “tantamount to the United States abdicating its role as a peace mediator.”

The last round of U.S.-brokered talks foundered in 2014 over issues including Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and Israeli accusations of Palestinian incitement to violence and refusal to recognise it as a Jewish state.

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which has dominated Gaza since soon after Israel ended a 38-year occupation in 2005, said Trump had committed a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people”. Hamas urged Arabs and Muslims to “undermine U.S. interests in the region” and to “shun Israel”.

Protests broke out in parts of Jordan’s capital Amman inhabited by Palestinian refugees, with youths chanting anti-American slogans. In the Baqaa refugee camp on Amman’s outskirts, hundreds roamed the streets denouncing Trump and urging Jordan to scrap its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. “Down with America…America is the mother of terror,” they chanted.

Angry Palestinians switched off Christmas lights at Jesus’ traditional birthplace in the West Bank town of Bethlehem and in Ramallah. A tree adorned with lights outside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus was born, and another in Ramallah, next to the grave of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, were plunged into darkness.

All Palestinian factions called for a general strike and protest rallies at midday on Thursday.

THE SAUDI ROYAL COURT ISSUED A STATEMENT SAYING THAT THE KINGDOM FOLLOWED “WITH DEEP SORROW” TRUMP’S DECISION AND WARNED OF “DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES OF MOVING THE U.S. EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM”.

The statement described the move as “a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process”, and urged the U.S. administration to reverse its decision and adhere to international will.

Egypt, which forged the first Arab peace deal with Israel in 1979, brushed off Trump’s decision and said it did not change Jerusalem’s disputed legal status. Jordan said Trump’s action was “legally null” because it consolidated Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Trump’s Jerusalem decision was dangerous and threatened the credibility of the United States as a broker of Middle East peace. He said the move would put back the peace process by decades and threatened regional stability and perhaps global stability.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said Trump’s undertaking was a “death sentence for all who seek peace” and called it “a dangerous escalation”. Turkey said Trump’s move was “irresponsible”.

“We call upon the U.S. Administration to reconsider this faulty decision which may result in highly negative outcomes and to avoid uncalculated steps that will harm the multicultural identity and historical status of Jerusalem,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

A few hundred protesters gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, a Reuters cameraman at the scene said. The protest was largely peaceful, though some of the demonstrators threw coins and other objects at the consulate.

IRAN “SERIOUSLY CONDEMNS” TRUMP’S MOVE AS IT VIOLATES U.N. RESOLUTIONS ON THE ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT, STATE MEDIA REPORTED. SUPREME LEADER AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI SAID EARLIER IN THE DAY THAT THE UNITED STATES WAS TRYING TO DESTABILIZE THE REGION AND START A WAR TO PROTECT ISRAEL’S SECURITY.

IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, THE LEADERS OF MUSLIM-MAJORITY INDONESIA AND MALAYSIA DENOUNCED TRUMP’S ACTION.

“This can rock global security and stability,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo, leader of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, told a news conference in which he called for the United States to reconsider its decision.

British Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with Trump’s embrace of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before a final-status agreement as this was unlikely to help nurture peace in the region, her spokesman said.

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However, May’s spokesman welcomed Trump’s stated wish to end the conflict and his acknowledgement that the final status of Jerusalem, including boundaries within the city, must be subject to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON SAID HE DID NOT SUPPORT TRUMP’S “UNILATERAL” MOVE.

“The status of Jerusalem is a question of international security that concerns the entire international community. The status of Jerusalem must be determined by Israelis and Palestinians in the framework of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations,” Macron told reporters in Algiers.

“France and Europe are attached to a two-state solution – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security within recognised international borders with Jerusalem the capital of both states,” he said.

“For now, I urge for calm and for everyone to be responsible. We must avoid at all costs avoid violence and foster dialogue,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution and Jerusalem was a final-status matter only to be settled through direct talks.

“I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said. “I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations.” source

Jerusalem Is About To Become A Cup Of Trembling As Trump Considers Historic Move

News Image By Michael Snyder/End Of The American Dream December 01, 2017


Is President Trump about to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?   If so, this would be one of the most historic events to happen in the Middle East in a very long time.
Needless to say, the government of Israel would be absolutely thrilled by such a move, while the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors would not be pleased at all.
In fact, some Palestinians have suggested that if the Trump administration actually moves the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem that it could spark widespread violence or even war.
But Donald Trump promised that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during the campaign, and it looks like he intends to keep his word…
A senior U.S. administration official said on Thursday that President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel without moving the embassy to the Israeli capital, at least for the time being.
Trump wants the recognition of Jerusalem to be a gift to Israel on the occasion of its 70th Independence Day, and he may even announce this recognition by means of a statement to be made by Vice President Mike Pence, who will visit Israel in December.
Pence will be visiting Israel next month, and he is scheduled to deliver an address to the Knesset.  If the Trump administration is going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it is believed that it may happen at that time.
Israel became a nation in 1948, and so 2018 will be Israel’s 70th anniversary.  There will be independence celebrations throughout the year, and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as we approach this highly significant time would be considered a great gift to the Jewish people.
For the moment, however, the Trump administration will not be moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.  The White House recognizes that such a move could spark violence in the region, and so administration officials are treading carefully…
President Donald Trump and his senior aides are mulling a plan to eventually move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision that could derail Trump’s attempts to restart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
A leading option under consideration: temporarily keeping the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv while also outlining a longer-term strategy to begin the process of moving the embassy to Jerusalem, according to two administration officials. The plan is meant to strike a middle ground on the politically treacherous issue.
We shall see how this plays out, but Vice-President Mike Pence sure sounds optimistic that moving the embassy will actually happen.  Earlier this week, he posted the following message on Twitter…
While for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, @POTUS Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. #70toIsraelUN
Of course moving the embassy would have very serious ramifications, and without a doubt many those surrounding Trump are advising against such a move…
American intelligence circles may caution Trump against the move, warning of the security-related ramifications that could ensue and danger that it could pose to American embassies around the world.
Rumors of Trump’s planned announcement were met with warnings from Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who said during a visit to the US that “the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem at this stage will have repercussions in the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic scene.”
I will be even more blunt.  If the U.S. embassy is moved to Jerusalem, there will definitely be violence, and it could potentially move us closer to armed conflict in the Middle East.
But U.S. policy should never be dictated by threats of violence.  Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is the right thing to do, and we cannot allow anyone to intimidate us.  In 1995, Congress passed a law that requires the U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, but ever since then presidents have used “waivers” to delay the move.
The current “waiver” expires on December 1st, and Trump is expected to sign another one at that time.
But even if the U.S. embassy is not moved to Jerusalem any time soon, the truth is that the next major war in the Middle East seems to be getting closer with each passing day.  Just check out some of the things that have happened over the past week…
-Saudi Arabia just intercepted another ballistic missile that was fired from Yemen.  The civil war in Yemen is essentially a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the Saudis hold the Iranians directly responsible whenever a missile is fired toward their territory.
-China has announced that they will be sending “elite troops” into Syria to fight alongside the Syrian army in the ongoing civil war that is raging there.
-Just a few days ago, the Pentagon acknowledged that there are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria working with forces that would like to overthrow the Syrian government.
The Middle East is a tinderbox that could literally erupt at any moment.  Most Americans have absolutely no idea how close we are to a major regional war, and let us pray that one does not happen any time soon.

THE GATHERING ONE WORLD RELIGION OF ANTICHRIST IS OBSESSED WITH USING AI TO COMPLETE TRANSHUMANISM SHIFT

And what about God? Their fourth tenet is that God is technical. “We are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful and beneficent. Geoethical nanotechnology will ultimately connect all consciousness and control the cosmos.” Transhumanism can also become the node connecting the theological of existing religions and the technological, and the Christian Transhumanist Association is a stark example.
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SCIENCE FICTION, HOWEVER, IS QUICKLY BECOMING SCIENCE FACT—THE FUTURE IS THE MACHINE. THIS IS LEADING MANY TO ARGUE THAT WE NEED TO ANTICIPATE THE ETHICAL QUESTIONS NOW, RATHER THAN WHEN IT IS TOO LATE. AND INCREASINGLY, THOSE TAKING UP THESE CHALLENGES ARE RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL.

“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:11,12 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: After the Rapture of the Church, Antichrist will create a One World Religion with himself as the object of worship, but it will not be limited to worship of him alone at first. In the beginning, Revelation 9 tells us that people in the time of Jacob’s trouble will worship idols made by their own hands instead of giving glory and honor to the Living God of the Bible. Already that shift has begun as AI – artificial intelligence – is right now being applied to idol worship and dozens of new religions with tens of thousands of followers popping up all over the globe. 

How far should we integrate human physiology with technology? What do we do with self-aware androids—like Blade Runner’s replicants—and self-aware supercomputers? Or the merging of our brains with them? If Ray Kurzweil’s famous singularity—a future in which the exponential growth of technology turns into a runaway train—becomes a reality, does religion have something to offer in response?

On the one hand, new religions can emerge from technology.

In Sweden, for example, Kopimism is a recognized faith founded over a decade ago with branches internationally. It began on a “pirate Agency Forum” and is derived from the words “copy me.” They have no views on the supernatural or gods. Rather, Kopimism celebrates the biological drive (e.g. DNA) to copy and be copied. Like digital monks, they believe that “copying of information” and “dissemination of information is ethically right.”

“THE URGENT NEED FOR CHRISTIAN TRANSHUMANISM” BY MICAH REDDING:

“Copying is fundamental to life,” says their U.S. branch, “and runs constantly all around us. Shared information provides new perspectives and generate new life. We feel a spiritual connection to the created file.” Other emerging tech-connected faiths, however, embrace the more grandiose.

A recent revelation from WIRED shows that Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who helped pioneer the self-driving car at Waymo (a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet) founded his own AI-based religion called “Way of the Future.” (Levandowski is accused of stealing trade secrets and is the focus of a lawsuit between Waymo and Uber, which revealed the nonprofit registration of Way of the Future.)

Little is known about Way of the Future and Levandowksi has not returned a request for comment. But according to WIRED, the mission of the new religion is to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence,” and “through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society.”

It is not a stretch to say that a powerful AI—whose expanse of knowledge and control may feel nearly omniscient and all-powerful—could feel divine to some. It recalls Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” People have followed new religions for far less and, even if AI doesn’t pray to electric deities, some humans likely will.

The potential for an out-of-control AI has encouraged warnings from some of the biggest minds, including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk—who tweeted that it could lead to World War III. Clearly no Luddite himself, Musk has compared the creation of AI to “summoning the demon,” and called for regulation and oversight of AI development, forming OpenAI, which looks for a “path to safe artificial general intelligence.”

Musk himself was named-dropped this week by Hanson Robotic’s empathic AI Sophia, when she was interviewed by Andrew Sorkin of CNBC this week. When asked about the danger she poses to humanity, she tells him, “You’ve reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry if you’ll be nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.” Not exactly the Golden Rule.

Add to these warnings a prospective human cult following—paying their tithes to AI and devoutly obeying their digital demiurge—and that apocalyptic future could include those humans who not only welcome, but also work toward our eventual demise.

BUT IS THERE A POSITIVE FATE FOR RELIGION AND AI?

Beyond possible new religions and warnings from icons of tech and science, artificial intelligence is also of interest to theologians who wonder what it means for faiths, particularly those that came into being when computing power was limited to the abacus.

“One thing that I think is interesting is the potential for an AI—our creation—to transcend us,” says James F. McGrath, the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University and author of Theology and Science Fiction.

“AND THE REST OF THE MEN WHICH WERE NOT KILLED BY THESE PLAGUES YET REPENTED NOT OF THE WORKS OF THEIR HANDS, THAT THEY SHOULD NOT WORSHIP DEVILS, AND IDOLS OF GOLD, AND SILVER, AND BRASS, AND STONE, AND OF WOOD: WHICH NEITHER CAN SEE, NOR HEAR, NOR WALK: NEITHER REPENTED THEY OF THEIR MURDERS, NOR OF THEIR SORCERIES, NOR OF THEIR FORNICATION, NOR OF THEIR THEFTS.” REVELATION 9:20,21 9 (KJV)

“The potential for AIs to transcend us and thus become our teachers to whom we look for answers to questions we cannot answer, including about God, is not hard to imagine,” says McGrath. But, he adds, “the historic answer in monotheistic religions is that the creation can never be greater than the creator.”

He notes, however, for Gnostics, humans can transcend the “creator/demiurge,” though “even then,” he says, “we have the potential to reunite with that source from which we stem. It is not surprising that Gnostic themes regularly surface in science fiction, and in particular those that explore AI.”

CURRENTLY, THE GREATEST EXPRESSION OF SCIENCE-FICTION-TURNING-REALITY IN TECH-BASED RELIGIONS IS FOUND IN THE FREQUENTLY OPTIMISTIC TRANSHUMANISM.

Transhumanism and its cognates are represented by organizations like the Humanity+ (formerly, the World Transhumanist Association) and Extropy Institute. In its purely secular form, transhumanists are those who see technology as an important part of improving the world, enhancing human physiology, prolonging life, and even leading us into a posthuman future.

Remember that brain chip? They exist—along with brain-computer interfaces—but are in their infancy. It represents the reality that humans are already becoming cyborgs. For some, this means there is the potential for an optimistic post human world.

OUR POST-HUMAN FUTURE | DAVID SIMPSON | TEDXSANTODOMINGO

The Terasem faith, for example, is futurist and transreligion, meaning it can be “combined with any existing religion.” Founded by Martine Rothblatt, creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and her spouse, Bina Aspen Rothblatt, Terasem adherents embrace love, see life as purposeful, and death as optional. They look to technology as a source for eternal life, focusing on “cyberconsciousness software, geoethical nanotechnology and space settlement.”

They foresee a future in which technology will extend life indefinitely by means of “mindfiles” of individuals—collections of our memories and emotions—which might then be transferred to what is called a “transbeman” (Transitional Bioelectric Human Being). Early attempts of their technology can be seen in Bina Rothblatt’s counterpart android, Bina48. (See Morgan Freeman’s interview with Bina48.)

And what about God? Their fourth tenet is that God is technical. “We are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful and beneficent. Geoethical nanotechnology will ultimately connect all consciousness and control the cosmos.”

Transhumanism can also become the node connecting the theological of existing religions and the technological, and the Christian Transhumanist Association is a stark example.

“Members of the CTA fall all across the conservative and liberal spectrum, and perhaps more importantly, all across the pessimistic and optimistic spectrum as well,” says Micah Redding, its co-founder and executive director.

“If there’s any broad idea that we’re united on,” he clarifies, “I’d say it’s the idea that we should be active and involved. New technological possibilities shouldn’t be simply feared and denied, but engaged and understood. Only in doing so will we be able to confront the challenges of the future, mitigate the risks, and take advantage of the opportunities to create a better world for us all.”

Redding is careful to insist, however, that he can only speak for himself.

“As I see it, Christian Transhumanism is grounded in compassion, and centers love as the key to the future of flourishing life,” he explains. “This puts us in contrast with any form of transhumanism which centers radical egoism.”

For Redding, transhumanism is a “Christian mandate,” recently calling it the next Reformation in an article at The Huffington Post. “We cannot be faithful to the Christian calling without ultimately embracing some form of transhumanism.”

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Others share his optimism and are hard at work in crafting a theology of transhumanism. “I see transhumanism as a contemporary outgrowth of an ancient Christian vision of human transformation,” says Ronald Cole-Turner, the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and author of The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins.

HE TOO SEES PROMISE IN THE EMERGENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN TRANSHUMANIST ASSOCIATION.

“Using technology, today’s transhumanists want to enhance human beings in ways that sound suspiciously like the classic Christian expectation,” says Cole-Turner, “things like greater cognitive awareness, improved moral disposition, and increased overall sense of well-being, and a hope of endless life.”

For early Greek-speaking Christians, Cole-Turner says, “it was seen as a process of theosis or ‘becoming God,’ not in an ontological sense but in every other significant meaning of the word. Latin-speaking Christians used ‘deification’ to refer to the same thing.”

The idea of theosis—being transformed in union with God—is gathering steam among Christian scholars, he says, noting that it makes theological sense of transhumanism. “God is the ground or source of everything, working through the whole creation to bring people, communities, and all creation to its glorious fulfilment in Jesus Christ. It is a transformation of everything by every means.”

Others have found different routes to transhumanism.

“Transhumanism was the confluence of my interests in Buddhism, radical politics and futurism,” says James Hughes, the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Having worked for a Buddhist social development organization in Sri Lanka—and once ordained as a monk—Hughes moved to Japan and went into bioethics. He discovered he was a techno-optimist, and at heart, a transhumanist.

“I discovered the new World Transhumanist Association,” he says, becoming their first Executive Director, and writing Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future. But after a division over political perspectives, he and a few others in the WTA founded IEET, leading he and three others to work toward Buddhist concerns.

Among some of his transhumanist issues, he says, is nonhuman personhood rights. Organizations like the Nonhuman Rights Project already seek these rights for animals (e.g. apes and elephants). Likewise, Hughes says, transhumanists want to “base those moral standings on levels of consciousness, and extend them to enhanced humans, animals, and machine minds.”

Machines, in other words, may reach a point where they are considered persons and are protected by law.

Redding adds a theological dimension to this idea.

“It’s clear that artificial intelligence plays a significant role in the world today,” he says, “and thus must be factored into God’s eventual work of redemption. We don’t yet know whether that involves self-conscious AIs ‘coming to Jesus,’ because we don’t yet know the process by which an AI might become self-conscious.”

“If and when it does happen,” he adds, “it shouldn’t challenge Christian doctrine. If God can grant a soul to carbon-based lifeforms, God can grant a soul to silicon-based lifeforms as well.”

Redding shows that religious perspectives might only be limited by the theological imagination.

“I’m optimistic about a fruitful religious-transhumanist dialogue,” says Hughes. “The religious impulse is very creative, and there has been a lot of reconciliation to the Enlightenment within faiths, sometimes by adapting doctrine and practice, and sometimes by the emergence of new denominations.”

If any of this—from AIs to the copying of a mind—seems too much like science-fiction to be truly religious, just give this a little time.

“All religions were once new,” insists McGrath, paraphrasing Composers Datebook, “and they all tend to be viewed with skepticism and enthusiasm from different directions when they arrive.” source

Former Satanist Warns Christians about Celebrating Halloween

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Photo Credit: John Ramirez via Facebook

Should Christians celebrate Halloween? Opinions differ between Christian leaders, lay people and church members.

According to a CBN News Facebook poll, 87% of believers feel that Christians should not celebrate Halloween, while 13% believe it’s okay.

Former Satanist John Ramirez recently joined Charlene Aaron on CBN News show Prayer Link to talk about Christians and Halloween.

“I was a general to the kingdom of darkness in witchcraft,” Ramirez said. “I would sit with the Devil and talk to him like I’m talking to you today. It was that kind of communication. It was that kind of relationship.”

Ramirez warns Halloween isn’t just about costumes and candy–there’s a much darker reality.

“Sometimes people say ‘I celebrated Halloween 10 years ago, I did this 15 years ago, I did this 20 years ago.’ But the doors still open. You just cursed your family from three to four generations,” Ramirez told CBN News.

“You have to be aware it’s a curse. You have to go back to the place where you started, that year that you started that Halloween thing, the celebration, when you started having that encounter with the dark side. You have to go back to that same spot and renounce and renounce it in the name of Jesus Christ and ask God to forgive you for that so that God can have mercy and close that door so your whole family can move forward,” he continued.

Ramirez, now a pastor, knows all about the dark reality of Halloween. He once sacrificed animals as part of satanic rituals and his friends even knew him as “Lucifer’s son.”

Now as a born again believer, he strongly warns Christians against celebrating Halloween and participating in harvest festivals.

“The only harvest we should celebrate is the harvest of souls,” he adds.

Ramirez says that in his opinion the other events Christians hold instead of Halloween, such as “Trunk or Treat” nights, are really no different.

“Do you know any Satanists who say ‘Hey we’re going to come into Good Friday and we’re going to hang out with the Christians and we’re just going to call it a different name?”

However, Pastor Alan Rudnick (link below) believes that Christians should take back Halloween.

“Halloween is often associated with the pagan concept of Samhain, the festival where ancient pagans believed that the worlds of the living and dead would been thinly divided,” he writes on his blog.  “But, we have seen from the other ancient pagan festivals associated with Christmas and Easter that these pagan connections do not serve as a reason why we cannot celebrate a Christian holiday.”

According to the website Equipping Godly Women, Halloween can be a good opportunity for outreach and to teach about good vs. evil.

However, Anton LaVey, the late founder of the Church of Satan, once said he took joy believers taking part in the tradition.

“I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year,” he said. “Welcome to Halloween.”

You can watch the entire Prayer Link interview with Ramirez here:

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Ramirez shares more about his warnings regarding Halloween here:

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Surge In Spiritism: Most Americans Believe In Paranormal

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Posted with permission from WND

It’s official – if you don’t believe in ghosts, you’re in the minority.

The Chapman University of American Fears 2017 has revealed a surprising number of Americans believe in the supernatural. A solid majority – 55 percent – believe ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis once existed, and more than 50 percent also believe places can be haunted by spirits.

More than a third of Americans also believe aliens have visited and a quarter think some people are capable of telekinesis, or moving objects by the power of their minds.

The survey found certain types of people are more likely to hold such beliefs – especially unmarried women who claim to be religious and politically conservative but do not often attend formal religious services. Residents of the West Coast were also reportedly more likely to believe in the paranormal.

Pastor Carl Gallups, author of the end-times examination “When The Lion Roars,”suggests there is something real behind how many Americans now report belief in the paranormal.

“I believe the relatively new all-encompassing media environment and the rapidly changing culture have contributed to the growth in reported ‘haunting’ experiences and other dark spiritual encounters,” he said. “All of this is also supplying a greater stage for the demonic realm, which is very real and biblically prophesied. The Bible is clear that in the age just before the return of Christ that the world would experience a literal demonic outpouring. The Scriptures declare that this coming spiritual deluge will eventually bring about a desperate state of apostasy in the church, a diabolical delusion among the nations, and a spirit of abject lawlessness that will sweep the planet. We are at least in the beginning stages of all three of those prophesied conditions – and maybe further down the road than just the ‘beginning.'”

Kari Paul reports in Marketwatch “interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials.”

More than half of young adults believe astrology is a science and the “psychic services industry” has been growing for several years.

At the same time, the number of Americans who express belief in Christianity has been in continuous decline over the prior decades.

Karl Payne, author of “Spiritual Warfare,” suggests many Americans are rebelling against a culture which dismisses the reality of supernatural experience. At the same time, the relentless cultural attack against Christianity means the hunger for spiritual experience is expressed via interest in the occult rather than a return to traditional faith.

“I think the reason people are so open to ideas regarding hauntings and spirits is because far more people have had paranormal experiences than strict empiricists want to admit or believe,” he told WND. “The bottom line is that in today’s hedonistic culture, demons or spirits are in, and a worldview embracing spiritism and occultism is growing,” Payne told WND. “The media has not created this reality, it has just accelerated its expanse from a fringe curiosity to be ignored or scorned to a reality to be chased and embraced. From the point of view of a Christian theist the results of this hell bent express are paradoxical.

“I am glad that more and more people are shedding the shackles of atheism. God is real and He can be known through the Lord Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man. But I am sickened that the cost of the rise of spiritism and supernaturalism is that many people are now dancing with demons, who are also real, and their job is to ultimately destroy their dancing partners in time, regardless of what lie they had to spin to get the date.”

Arm yourself for the most crucial battle of all. “Spiritual Warfare,” available now in the WND Superstore.

Payne argues the decline of Christianity has essentially opened the belief in tenets and ideas which are anti-Christian but nonetheless supernatural.

“People are hardwired for faith,” the pastor said. “The variable is the object of their faith. God has been worshiped. Man has been worshiped. And now, there is a growing fascination with embracing spiritism by playing games with demonic spirits. What is coming next?”

Both Gallups and Payne argue the world is moving closer to the end times, and the rise in occultism is preparing the ground for dire events.

“I believe this decent into hell is going to culminate in the open worship of Satan incarnate, who is promised to rule the world for a short period of time before the Lord Jesus Christ returns to destroy him and all of his followers and their works,” Payne said. “For the world to be willing to embrace the open, blatant worship of Satan through his antichrist, it makes sense to me that there will have to be a conditioning of people to be willing to make this foolish decision, and think it is normal in the process.

“Maybe inundating young people with walking and talking with the dead is a first or second or third step in conditioning or grooming people to reject the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. It seems almost anything and everything is open for exploration emulation in our public square except loving Jesus Christ or teaching the Bible as the inspired Word of God.”

“There can be no doubt that Satan is a decidedly ‘religious’ being,” Gallups added. “He often operates within the realm of apostate beliefs, where he plies his diabolical trade of rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while at the same time replacing true faith with the false spirit of religiosity. I am convinced that much of the world’s fascination with the occult realm flows from the ubiquitous presence of this last days spirit.”

Payne concludes the best way for Christians to combat the rise in occultism and the decline in faith is to teach an uncompromising and sincere version of the faith, rather than something which seeks to be simply inoffensive.

“Promoting a Christian faith that makes blending into culture a virtue rather than a vice represents nothing more than a religious inoculation against genuine Christianity,” he said. “When the real thing comes along, a body has already produced antibodies to attack it. If faith is hardwired into our soul, and I think it is, and if Christianity is so demonized that Jesus Christ is rejected, it leaves a vacuum to be filled by something religious that does not involve the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior. Demons are very happy to step into that void by representing or misrepresenting Jesus Christ and religious inclinations.”

Payne suggested this is also why the survey found those who identify as religious but are not going to church regularly were more likely to believe in the paranormal.

“Demons do not care if a person is religious, they just do not want them to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “Theists are far more open to experimenting with the paranormal than naturalists or atheists. It is easier to locate a counterfeit $20 bill than a counterfeit $3 bill.

“I believe there is going to be and increasing interest in the Spiritism, the paranormal and occultism the closer we draw to the return of Jesus Christ for his bride, the dhurch. Again, it represents a cheap imitation of the real thing, satisfying the need, but not the soul.”

Arm yourself for the most crucial battle of all. “Spiritual Warfare,” available now in the WND Superstore.

WITCHCRAFT GOES MAINSTREAM AS DC-BASED ‘CITYWITCHES’ AIMS TO BRING THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC TO YOUR TOWN

Images of witches being veiled in darkness, casting spells over cauldrons endure, but a new generation of Wiccans and witches have established growing communities in D.C. and across the country.  Like other Wiccans and witches, Stephens has come “out of the broom closet” — a term that refers to publicly revealing one’s beliefs as a Wiccan or witch. They are fighting back against misinformation about Wiccans and witches.
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TEIGHE THORSEN IS A 29-YEAR-OLD D.C. RESIDENT AND WITCH WHO COFOUNDED THE GROUP CITYWITCHES IN 2016.

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy  18:10-13 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have you noticed that over the last few years, the fake news media has been running lots of “positive and uplifting” stories on the witch and wiccan communities? And just coincidentally, of course, they always seem to be right in time for Halloween. Gone are the pointy hats and wart-filled noses. Today’s witch is a ‘boss babe’ who is looking to ‘enhance her positivist’ by ‘connecting with the universe’. And if along the way she needs to cast a spell or two, what’s the harm? In every dispensation and in every age, God is against the black art of witchcraft in all its various forms. Today’s witch wants to put distance between themselves and the Devil, but that won’t work. The Devil is in the details.

To celebrate Samhain, a Wiccan festival that falls on the evening of Oct. 31, Washington, D.C. resident Elizabeth Stephens usually prepares a pot of jambalaya to honor her late grandmother and a plate of roast beef in memory of her parents. She marks the festival with witches and fellow Wiccans, who offer their own dishes as a part of the day’s feast. The table they set becomes patterned with platters that were the favorites of family members and friends.

As a part of the celebration, a black cloth is held above the heads of the attendees and cut with a knife through the center, representing an opening between the spirit and material worlds. After some time has passed, participants encourage the spirits to return to their realm and the cut in the cloth is sewn.

Images of witches being veiled in darkness, casting spells over cauldrons endure, but a new generation of Wiccans and witches have established growing communities in D.C. and across the country.

Like other Wiccans and witches, Stephens has come “out of the broom closet” — a term that refers to publicly revealing one’s beliefs as a Wiccan or witch. They are fighting back against misinformation about Wiccans and witches.

STEPHENS SAID SHE LOVES HALLOWEEN.

“It’s a celebration of the witch. You can have sexy witches, you can have scary witches, but it’s still a celebration of the witch. Even if the witch isn’t shown in a positive light,” said Stephens, a 37-year-old Wiccan who also practices witchcraft.

Teighe Thorsen is a 29-year-old D.C. resident and witch who cofounded the group CityWitches in 2016.

Thorsen said she created the group, which includes Wiccans, Pagans and other occultists, as “a place where the alternate outcasts of magic can actually come together and talk.”

“We’re getting a lot of youth, a lot of people generally under 30, although not always, who are trying to find somewhere in their life that they actually have power,” she said. “They’re trying to find it in something that is non-dogmatic and something that is just their own — mystical, different, badass and empowering.”

Since starting CityWitches, Thorsen said she has seen an increase in interest from those inspired by her magic, including the rituals she writes on her Instagram, and a rise in members on the group’s Facebook page.

On her Instagram, Thorsen posts pictures of and describes in detail her magical practices. In one photo, she set up candles around a pentagram, with tarot cards, amethyst crystals and feathers surrounding the shrine. She occasionally posts photos of herself that show her colorful hair and amulets of jade and lapis lazuli.

Witches have repeatedly captured Americans’ imaginations. “The Craft” and the “Harry Potter” series are all hits, along with television shows like “American Horror Story: Coven.” But the visibility can create problems with perceptions. “This Halloween version of witchcraft” has made people assume about what Thorsen’s practices are, she said.

“Those are fantastical interpretations of what a witch is, but there is a little bit of truth to it,” Thorsen said. “There are things that you can do to affect certain results around you that most people won’t pick up on but you know how to do it.”

ALL MAGIC INVOLVES COMPLETING CERTAIN THINGS, LIKE SPELLS, TO CREATE CERTAIN CONSEQUENCES THAT A WITCH WANTS, THORSEN SAID.

“It [magic] is a tool for personal development and empowerment as well as for changing your environment, for helping the people around you, and fear is never welcome. Fear is the antithesis of forward momentum,” Thorsen said. “What I practice in magic is fearlessness.”

Whereas witchcraft includes magical practices that can change from witch to witch, Wicca is a religion with a set structure, according to Penny Verin-Shapiro, a professor in the anthropology department at California State University, Fresno. Verin-Shapiro spoke to Wiccans and witches, studying their separate systems of beliefs, for her 2014 book “Central Valley Pagans.”

Verin-Shapiro found in her interviews with Wiccans and witches that many of them didn’t seem to fit into the religions that they followed previously and stumbled on something that made them want to convert. She said that the influx of information on the internet has contributed to more individuals identifying themselves within modern-day witchcraft and Wicca.

“It’s [the internet] made it a lot easier to find out information that was hidden before and to find a group, if you want to a group to work with or to learn from,” Verin-Shapiro said. “There’s just a whole lot more information out there now that is easily accessed.”

Along with the availability of information, a more accepting attitude toward other religions has allowed Wiccans and witches to be more vocal and visible with their beliefs, according to Verin-Shapiro.

“The general public has become more accepting that not everybody has to be Christian, that there are many ways to worship,” she said. “So it has become easier for some people to come out of the broom closet.”

Being “out of the broom closet” hasn’t always been an option.

For centuries, the word “witch” was associated with witch trials, including the famous Salem witch trials in the 17th century, which accused some of practicing and performing magic.

Witchcraft didn’t begin and end with the witch trials. From Caribbean Santería to Italian Stregheria to various voodoo practices in West Africa and Louisiana, witches have discovered methods to magic and medicine within themselves in the past and present.

Modern-day witches have created their own collection of magic practices, inspired by centuries of witchcraft from across the world, according to Laura, a 58-year-old Wiccan high priestess who asked News4 to withhold her last name because she does not want her children to be harassed because of her beliefs. She said she has considered herself a witch for more than 30 years.

“Within every faith, you can find some sort or form of magic worker or belief in energy, in that you are able to work with the energy forces,” Laura said. “Not all of those people would have necessarily called themselves witches, of course. But they were working with the same constructs.”

LAURA SAID SHE HAS BEEN INTERESTED IN MAGIC SINCE CHILDHOOD. SHE FOUND WICCA THROUGH A TEACHER, WHO SAID SHE COULD TRACE HER TEACHERS BACK TO THE FOUNDER OF THE MODERN-DAY WICCAN MOVEMENT.

Gerald Gardner, a member of the Masons, combined elements from ceremonial magic and folk tradition into what he coined Wicca, which means “to bend,” according to Laura. She studied different degrees of mastery in Wicca to become a high priestess.

“For me, it is literally seeing the giant web of life and how every touch upon it affects something else in ways that are often unexpected,” Laura said.

From honoring an earth goddess with a mindfulness about one’s effect on the environment to an awareness about the three-fold law, which says that any action put out into the world comes back to someone three times, the Wicca that Laura follows teaches her that “we fully responsible for our own words and that includes what goes beyond ourselves.”

Laura said that her teachings and traditions in Wicca aren’t all necessarily followed by other Wiccans or witches, who may observe a completely separate set of customs.

“If you talk to five witches, you are going to get ten different answers,” she said.

LAURA HAS HEARD OTHERS DESCRIBE WHAT THEY THINK HER RELIGION IS ABOUT: DANCING NAKED, WORSHIPING THE DEVIL AND SACRIFICING ANIMALS. THOSE IDEAS ARE FAR FROM THE TRUTH, SHE SAID. SHE SAID SHE KNOWS A MAN WHO LOST VISITATION RIGHTS TO SEE HIS CHILD BECAUSE A JUDGE MISCONSTRUED HIS BELIEFS WITH SATANISM.

“I’ve had people not take me seriously. I’ve had people be very condescending to me. ‘Are you a good witch or a bad witch?’ kind of thing. I kind of looked at them and said … ‘Find out,” Laura said.

Stephens too said she has seen how stereotypes have seeped into how people understand her beliefs. Once, when she was reading a Wiccan book of spells at a McDonald’s, a cashier asked her about the book. While Stephens explained her faith, the cashier told her that “Evil never makes sense.”

“It was the worst experience that I’ve had as a witch,” Stephens said.

Still, in the coven of three other witches that she’s a part of, Stephens has found a family that she sees almost every week in Virginia.

“A lot of people think that we’re evil, that we’re spawn of Satan, that we worship the devil. We don’t even believe in hell, much less Satan,” Stephens said. “We’re people. We have as much variety within ourselves as a group as any other group.”

“We’re not all painted with one brush. There are witches that I would not associate with, but there are Christians that I would not associate with and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs,” she added. “Every faith has its own share of bad apples. But just because there are a few bad apples does not mean that we are all bad apples.” source