Relevant ProMundis Blogposts
Devotion for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2014, http://www.idop.org
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:32-35)
The author of the Letter to the Hebrew seeks to embolden his readers in times of suffering so that they are reminded of how God helped them in earlier times of suffering (verse 32).
What is truly interesting in this text, however, is that the Letter to the Hebrews designates all readers as such, as those who have “endured in the great contest in the face of suffering”, independent of whether this occurred through suffering or through vicarious association with suffering! The author of the Letter to the Hebrews puts the sufferers (A) and those demonstrating compassion (B) on the same footing. In verses 33-34, the following is said about the cross: ABBA.
In verse 33, the readers are first of all addressed as those who in part have ‘themselves’ endured much suffering (A), but “at other times” also suffered because they in some cases “stood side by side with those who suffered” (B). There are, then, direct sufferers (A) and sufferers who are in that position because they suffer alongside others (B)!
In verse 34 the situation is reversed: To start with, it is mentioned that the readers have suffered with those in prison (B). Then it is mentioned that they themselves lost possessions (A).
That is precisely the objective of IDOP. Christians who suffer and Christians who stand side by side with those suffer seek to build a ‘community’ of suffering. Prayer occurs simultaneously in countries where there is Christian persecution and where there is no persecution of Christians. If we do this, then we “do not throw away our confidence,” and this confidence “will be richly rewarded” (verse 35).
A Christian never lives without Christian persecution! Either he is persecuted or he suffers with the fate of those who are persecuted. And whoever suffers, suffers at the same time with others who perhaps suffer even more!
The possibility that someone simply ignores the suffering of another individual or church and then enjoys the fact that things are going well for him, without this turning into thankful involvement for the sake of others, is something which does not even come to mind to the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews! For Christians to suffer and for other Christians to not suffer side by side? Unthinkable! Christians who look away while others suffer? Inconceivable! And yet this is precisely what applies to the large majority of Christians!
The International Day of Pray (IDOP) is a good opportunity to end this situation here and now, to inform yourself about the global situation of the body of Christ, and at least through prayer to have ‘fellowship’ with those who suffer.
Thomas Schirrmacher is the director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom, Chair of the Theological Commission of World Evangelical Alliance, and President of the International Council of the International Society of Human Rights
How differently Evangelicals are perceived in other parts of the world one can see in the fact, that the President of Brazil, Dilma Roussef, asked the World Evangelical Alliance to provide a short word of greeting to be read in the opening ceremony of the world soccer championship. This in spite of the fact, that WEA spoke in favour of the rights of the poor in Brazil, asking government and society not to spend the wealth of the country on prestuge projects but on fighting poverty .
Here the greeting by Geoff Tunnicliffe, drafted by the Theological Commission.
Westminster Theological Seminary published a massive volume on it’s own involvement in the discussion about the doctrine of Scripture:
Peter A. Lillback, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. (ed.) Thy Word Is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to Today. 1392 pp. P & R Pub: Philadelphia (PA), 2013, publishers page: here.
Here is my endorsement you will find in the front pages of the book:
“Even though the Reformation started with Luther’s return to the Bible as the highest authority in the Church, and even though the doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture has been taught in all evangelical confessions and denominations and its development has been influenced by people from many confessions, it was the Reformed doctrine of Scripture, spreading from Switzerland, that became central to the evangelical positions through the centuries, both by means of terminology and manner of defense. For example Calvin’s application of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to the doctrine of Scripture, declaring that the final evidence for Scripture as the Word of God comes from the author, the Holy Spirit, directly to the believers heart, has been central in the Evangelical movement and balanced any impersonal approach to hermeneutics. No wonder then, that Reformed seminaries have been at the forefront of formulating, developing, and defending the doctrine of Scripture. I am glad that Westminster Theological Seminary – Philadelphia takes the lead again by gathering 500 hundred years of good tradition, proving how the old truth has been applied to ever new ages again and again.”
Prof. Dr. theol. Dr. Phil. DD Thomas Schirrmacher, Chair of the Theological Commission of World Evangelical Alliance; President, Martin Bucer Theological Seminary (Bonn, Zurich, Innsbruck, Prague, Istanbul, São Paulo)
See original here.
This is what James I. Packer writes in the same pages:
“A massive array of extracts from major writers over five centuries, demonstrating both the breadth, strength, clarity, humility, and rootedness of international Reformed bibliology according to its historic confessional self-understanding, and also the insightful energy with which Westminster’s own scholars have labored to vindicate the Reformed position as catholic Christian truth. The book excels as a resource for study and a witness to Westminster’s integrity.”
James I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia
The book contains contributions by Oswald T. Allis, William Ames, Herman Bavinck, Louis Berkhof, Henry Bullinger, John Calvin, Edmund P. Clowney, William Cunningham, Raymond B. Dillard, Jonathan Edwards, Sinclair B. Ferguson, John M. Frame, Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Louis Gaussen, Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg, Archibald Alexander Hodge, Charles Hodge, John Knox, Peter A. Lillback, Martin Luther, J. Gresham Machen, Adolphe Monod, John Murray, John Owen, Vern S. Poythress, Moisés Silva, Charles H. Spurgeon, Ned B. Stonehouse, Francis Turretin, Zacharias Ursinus, Cornelius Van Til, Geerhardus Vos, Bruce K. Waltke, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, Robert Dick Wilson, John Witherspoon, Edward J. Young, and Ulrich Zwingli
German expert on human trafficking and freedom of religion elected as President of the International Society for Human Rights
(Bonn, 25.04.2014) The International Council of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) elected Thomas Schirrmacher, the renowned German human rights activist specialising on human traffikcing and religious freedom, as its new president at its two-day session in Bonn, Germany. ISHR has active branches or working groups in 37 countries on all continents. Henriette Baronin de Payreburne, treasurer of ISHR, announced the unanimous election result and was the first to congratulate Schirrmacher (see photo).
Schirrmacher holds four earned doctorates, is a professor of ethics in Germany and Brazil, and holds chairs in International Development in India and in Sociology in Romania. He has given guest lectures worldwide at universities on all continents and has testified on human rights in many parliaments. His commitment to human rights protection has brought him into personal contact with presidents, prime ministers, and cabinet ministers from many countries, as well as with religious leaders such as the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and several grand muftis. The World Evangelical Alliance, which he has served for many years, represents 600 million Protestant Christians. He is the author of 98 books translated into 18 languages.
Schirrmacher took over the presidency from the president of the section in Uzbekistan, Prof. Dr. Marat Zakhidov, who was acting president of the ISHR for a year. Zakhidov did not run for the presidency but wanted to continue as vice-president. Schirrmacher thanked Zakhidov for having jumped in during a difficult situation in 2013. He said that Zakhidov is the living evidence for the fact that many national sections of the ISHR grew out of illegal underground organizations in the era of the Soviet Union and were founded in the follow-up states of the Soviet Union after 1990. As a human rights activist who was active and suffered under communism, and who is still active in a country where it is not without danger to speak up for all human rights, Zakhidov is a fitting representative for ISHR.
Because of his election as international president, Schirrmacher stepped down as regular member of the German board, though according to the German statutes he stays a co-opted member of the German board. He announced that we will proceed with close cooperation with the German section. Thus in autumn a new ISHR book on “Corruption and Human Rights” will be published, written by Thomas Schirrmacher and his son David Schirrmacher.
The International Council is made up of representatives of the national sections. The term of office is four years, with the current term running 2012-2016. Thus, the term of the new president and all other board members runs until 2016.
The general secretary of ISHR is the French speaking Swiss Michel Baumann, who resides in Geneva at the seat of the Human Rights Council of The United Nations. The ISHR/IGFM (the German branch of ISHR) has consultative ECOSOC-status with the UN, associate status at the Department of Public Information of the UN, and consultative status at the European Council in Strasburg.
WEA Human Rights Ambassador speaks with the Muslim President of Albania about the situation of Christians in his country
The Ambassador for Human Rights of the World Evangelical Alliance and Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom presented the concerns of Christians in a one-hour meeting with the Muslim President of Albania, Bujar Faik Nishani. Schirrmacher thanked the president and the Albanian government that the relatively new Albanian Evangelical Alliance has been officially recognized by the state. Now is a good time for both church and state to recognize that the once closed churches can be good citizens. Because the Albanian Evangelical Alliance did not exist before 1989, it is not directly involved in the complex and partly discriminatory process of restituting church properties that were nationalized by a previous regime.
Nishani and Schirrmacher first met in June 2013, on the occasion of a visit of Nishani to Berlin. Nishani was elected president in 2012, before which he had been Interior Minister and Justice Minister in Albania.
In preparation for this meeting Schirrmacher met with church leaders of various confessions. This included two discussions with the head of the autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Archbishop Anastasios Yoannoulatos. In a further discussion after the meeting with the president, the Archbishop thanked the World Evangelical Alliance for its engagement on behalf of his church.
Archbishop Anastasios spent many years as a theology professor in Athens. Previously he developed Orthodox mission work in Africa and worked on an Orthodox theory of missions. In 1992 he accepted responsibility for the almost totally destroyed Orthodox Church in Albania, which he has redeveloped. From 1984 to 1991 he was chairman of the Commission for World Missions and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches. Since 2006 the Archbishop has also been one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches.