UPDATED 4th March 2020

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I hope you find the site helpful

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I have various purposes in this blog and my associated websites:

1.TO ENCOURAGE SERIOUS PRAYER FOR REVIVAL

Christianity is growing around the world and some churches in Britain are growing. But one of the main motives for praying for Revival in Britain is the widespread decline of the church numerically, spiritually and morally. Meanwhile British society is increasingly turning away from belief in God, seriously ignorant of Christianity and rejecting biblical morality. The church and country desperately need a special supernatural movement of the Holy Spirit in revival, bringing many to faith in God. We need to pray in depth, in faith and in holiness. There is some relevant material on this blog but for more information see my website Network for Revival.

2. TO ENCOURAGE A SENSIBLE APPROACH TO ESCHATOLOGY (THE DOCTRINE OF THE END TIMES, THE RETURN OF CHRIST, ETC).

Many Christians (including Christian leaders) neglect this, either because they don’t feel competent to deal with it or because they are embarrassed by unbalanced extremists. I want to help rectify this by providing Christian teaching and also comment on current events and trends, with particular reference to anything relevant to Jesus’ teaching on the signs of the End Times. I try to take a constructively critical, extensively researched approach. I have completed the main (systematic) section with teaching on the subjects listed below. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/eschatology.html for both a Full (more detailed) Version and a Summary Version.

However you will find Updates on Eschatology on the blog below (which have also been incorporated into the main website above) and you are welcome to comment on them here.

3. TO INFORM PEOPLE ABOUT THE ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

For a number of years I lived and ministered in Jerusalem, leading an international organisation whose aim is to share the gospel sensitively with Jewish people and leading Christ Church, Jerusalem. Since then I have been seeking to inform Christians about the need, pain and fear on BOTH sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, because God loves both sides. See http://www.prayerforpeace.org.uk/index.html. My recent newsletter on the Israel-Gaza conflict is at http://www.prayerforpeace.org.uk/newsletter.html.

4. TO MAKE CONSIDERED PROPHETIC COMMENT ON CURRENT EVENTS AND TRENDS.

See below on the blog.

5. TO PROVIDE FREE, PRACTICAL, USER-FRIENDLY RESOURCES FOR CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS

These include apologetics (defence of the faith), biblical material, church development, church issues, devotional articles, doctrinal resources, evangelistic, interfaith and pastoral issues. Additions will be made to these materials. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/

ESCHATOLOGY (END TIMES) SUBJECTS COVERED
The signs of the End
Will there be a sudden, secret “Rapture” of believers to heaven?
The ‘Great Tribulation’ and the Antichrist
Secular eschatology – What secular scholars are predicting about the future of the world
The Battle of Armageddon & Cosmic signs
Old Testament Eschatology
The return of Christ
Will there be a literal Millennium?
End times judgment
Approaching death
Resurrection
The destruction of world
The truth about Hell
The hope of Heaven
Appendix: Understanding the Book of Revelation
Appendix: The Place of Islam in the End Times

What about the Good News?

I am aware that, in focusing on eschatology and prophetic comment on the news, I frequently major on bad news rather than good news. Does that mean I’m only interesting in doom and gloom? No, not at all. However, there is a lot of doom and gloom in New Testament eschatology, and we must take it seriously alongside the love, joy, peace and eternal life which results from the gospel.

Jesus himself told us to watch for negative signs of the time: wars and rumours of wars, famine, disease, earthquakes, persecution, church decline and apostasy, false prophets and messiahs, great distress (tribulation) and worrying events in the heavens. The rest of the NT has a fair amount of doom and gloom about the End Times. After all, the Book of Revelation is hardly light-hearted

So I major on giving updates on some disturbing “signs of the times”: artificial intelligence, church decline, genetic engineering, global warming, Islam, oppression & persecution of Christians, secularisation & societal decline, matters of sexuality, significant political developments, terrorism and war, world poverty, etc.

We have to take note of such things if we are to obey Jesus who said: “Watch out that no one deceives you … keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt 24:4, 42-44).

Having said all this, I do come across Christians who take eschatology seriously but read almost everything in society and the church negatively – it’s all doom and gloom. And I don’t believe that is correct. There is a huge amount of good in the world (theologically-speaking, it is the result of God’s “common grace” or the “general work of the Holy Spirit”). We need to maintain the balance and I do seek to share some good news amidst my main emphasis of keeping watch and noting the “signs of the times.”

What is on this site?

AUDIO SERMONS BY TONY & PATRICIA HIGTON

Tony and Patricia met at theological college and have spoken together in many places around the world for many years.

Go to http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/sermons.html and click the appropriate link.

BLOG POSTS

RECENT POSTS

Update on Abortion

INDEX TO THIS BLOG

ATHEISM (SCIENCE & RELIGION)

Relevant articles include:

Secularisation and non religious spirituality/   2015

Religious people are less intelligent than atheists/

Richard Dawkins speaks favourably about Christianity/

BIBLE

Relevant articles include:

The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture

The nature of God in the Old Testament

An outline of the Old Testament

Revival and the end-times/

Oppression of christians in the west/

The threat to the family part 1-the importance of the family/

The threat to the family part 2-attacks on marriage and the family/

How do we recognise God’s judgment?

The Bible predicts Jesus will rule over Israel

CHURCH

Relevant articles include:

CHURCH DECLINE & DEVELOPMENT

Oppression of Christians in the West

The church desperately needs Revival

Update on Church decline

Update on decline in Christian belief

Update on secularism

Update on the Church of England

Update on homosexual issues

Secularisation and non-religious spirituality

Church growth and decline

Bishop encouraged Osama bin Laden

Update on Signs of the End “Turning away from the Faith”

ESCHATOLOGY (END TIMES)

When asked about the signs of his coming and the end of the age, Jesus told his disciples to take note of the “beginning of the birth pains [of Messiah]” (Matt 24). These are early, recurring signs – rather like signposts on a motorway, each one closer to the destination. He specified wars and rumours of wars, famine, earthquakes, pestilences, persecution, apostasy, false messiahs, false prophets, worldwide evangelism, “fearful events and great signs from heaven.”  So, Jesus wants us to note the often negative trends and events in society and the world which point towards his return. (These posts include detailed updates on such trends and events in society and the world, which are informative in themselves quite apart from their eschatological significance).

[For more teaching on Eschatology see http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/eschatology.html]

 

Why the church fails to teach about eschatology

Can we ignore what the New Testament says about signs of Jesus’ return?

Some thoughts on the Book of Revelation

Jesus preached the present and coming rule of God

John the Baptist said Jesus would baptise in the Spirit and judge the impenitent

REVIVAL

The church desperately needs Revival

Revival and the End Times

RECURRING POINTERS TOWARDS THE END TIMES

“Birth pangs of the Messiah”

Why we should take notice of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences

Update on “Birth pains of the Messiah” – Global warming

TURNING AWAY FROM THE FAITH

Update on Signs of the End – Turning away from the Faith

PERSECUTION & OPPRESSION (Recurring pointer towards the End Times)

Update on persecution

Serious trends in the present situation

Update on Signs of the End – Persecution & Oppression

“Street preachers must not preach about morality”

Tory MP says anti-terror laws against teachers who say gay marriage is sinful

Ex-MI5 Boss warns counter-extremism bill could be used against Christians

Anti-Christian attitudes in Britain – Tim Farron

PANDEMICS (Recurring pointer towards the End Times)

Update on the danger of pandemics

Update on the Signs of the End – Pestilences

WAR (Recurring pointer towards the End Times)

Update on terrorism and war

Update on war and terrorism

Update on war and the threat of war

Update on the serious implications of terrorism

Update on the Signs of the End – Nuclear terrorism an war

Queen’s speech on nuclear war having broken out

DANGERS OF WORLD GOVERNMENT

Update on trends towards world government

Christians and others under antichrist rule

Movements towards World Government

Update on World Government and Oppression

Update on World Government and Political Oppression

RESTORATION OF ISRAEL & THREATS TO ISRAEL

Update on the Signs of the End (Anti-Semitism)

The Bible predicts Jesus will rule over Israel

World Council of Churches statement on the Middle East

An update on anti-semitism and some dangers in combatting it

DANGERS OF EXTREME VIEWS

Will Jesus return by 2070?

“Jesus may return this month”

What should be our attitude to the European Union?

SECULAR ESCHATOLOGY

Alongside seeking to take seriously biblical teaching on eschatology it is instructive to take notice of what is sometime called secular eschatology, i.e. secular predictions by scholars of serious disasters which the future could hold.

Update on secular eschatology

Will Artificial Intelligence be the end of the human race?

Update on Global Warming

ABORTION

Update on Abortion

HOMOSEXUALITY

My attitude to homosexuals

We are called to love our neighbour and that includes our homosexual neighbour. If we do not love our homosexual neighbour we are being sinful. We are to love our neighbour but that doesn’t mean loving his/her wrong behaviour. The old saying is relevant: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” And that applies to all sinners, including sexual sinners – heterosexual or homosexual.

I address the subject, not because it is the only sin or the worst sin facing the church, neither because of any hang-up about God’s wonderful gift of sexuality, but because it is strategically important. It is the sin the church is beginning to justify, with dire consequences.

The basic issue is whether homosexual practice is God’s will for human beings. I conclude that the Bible says it isn’t. You can read my detailed reasons for this conclusion in the following three articles

What does the Bible say on homosexual practice?

Homosexuality and the Church (a study guide)

What about gay marriage?

Here are my blog posts on the subject:

The undermining of God’s plan for the family

The threat to the family – Part 1 The importance of the family

The threat to the family – Part 2 Attacks on marriage and the family

Update on societal decline

What about the Irish referendum on gay marriage?

The wrong attacks on freedom of belief and speech

Oppression of Christians in the West

Update on the oppression of Christians

I agree with Peter Tatchell over Asher’s bakery!

The Belfast gay cake controversy

The decline of the church partly over this issue

Update on the decline of Christian belief

Update on church decline

The church desperately needs revival

SECULARISATION OF SOCIETY

Update on secularisation

Update on secularism

Secularisation and non-religious spirituality

Update on the Signs if the End – “Turning away from the Faith”

Richard Dawkins speaks favourably about Christianity

So the government wants to relax the Sunday trading laws

Is the UK more Christian than the rest of Europe?

·         DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHRISTIANS

Discrimination against British Christians

Discrimination against British Christians: Update 1

Oppression of Christians in the West

Iraqi Christian leader refused entry to US to advocate for persecuted Christians

See also above “Church Decline & Development

ISRAEL & MIDDLE EAST

My attitude towards Israel and the Palestinians

The decline of Christianity in the Middle East

World Council of Churches statement on the Middle East

Is the UK more pro-Israel than the EU?

Update on the Signs of the End (Anti-Semitism)

Update on Anti-Semitism

The Bible predicts Jesus will rule over Israel

The Middle East situation and its effects on Christians and Israel

ISLAM

We must love and respect our Muslim neighbour but that is not incompatible with expressing disagreement with the teachings of Islam.

Christians and others under antichrist rule

Serious trends in the present situation

Chair of Islamic Society of Great Britain says the next coronation should be Christian

Good News: Palestinian rescues 5 Jewish students under attack in the West Bank

Former Imam who attacked churches converts to Christianity

Muslim Imam raises money for church vandalised by young Muslim

Thank God for this Muslim leader’s comments

Homosexual baker strongly disapproves of homosexuals bullying Christian bakers

Update on Middle East tensions

GENERAL TOPICS

Issues of Morality  Transexualism, polygamy, divorce, abortion, gene-editing

World inequality

 

 

Human beings have an unhelpful tendency to believe what they want to believe. One example of this is to imagine that aborted babies are just blobs of jelly without awareness or feeling. However:

The remarkable early development of the human embryo

  • 5-6 weeks after conception the unborn baby’s first electrical brain activity begins[i] and his/her heartbeat can be detected.

 

  • 7 weeks after conception the unborn baby’s eyes (cornea, pupil, iris, lens, and retina) start developing. He/she can see light from about 16 weeks after conception.

 

  • 8 weeks after conception the unborn baby can feel pain (Maureen Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah, told the US congress: “The neural circuitry responsible for the most primitive response to pain, the spinal reflex, is in place by 8 weeks of development. This is the earliest point at which the foetus experiences pain in any capacity.” She added “There is universal agreement that pain is detected by the fetus in the first trimester [12-14 weeks].”[ii] Dr Stuart Derbyshire, research psychologist, who is pro-abortion, wrote in 2006 that “foetuses cannot experience pain”, but now acknowledges there is “good evidence” they can.[iii] Two other scholars state: “Sensitivity to touch, develops from 8 weeks” (Viola Marx and Emese Nagy, School of Psychology, University of Dundee).[iv]

 

  • 11 weeks after conception the unborn baby can move his/her face and even smile; responds to light, noise and pressure.

 

So, even in the first three months of pregnancy, the unborn baby has remarkably human characteristics: brain activity, heartbeat, developing eyes, ability to smile and respond to light and noise. He/she can also feel pain. This is not a blob of jelly but very clearly an embryonic human being.

When does an embryo become a human being?

But is such an embryo really a human being? Some say no, the unborn becomes human later. I have always found this a totally unconvincing argument – but a very convenient one for proponents of abortion. To argue that an embryo is not human until some stage after conception is arbitrary wishful thinking. The only argument which makes sense is that an embryo is human from the point of conception – as soon as the male and female elements from the parents come together. That union of male and female elements makes sense as an important enough development to mean the creation of a new human being. Nothing else which happens during the pregnancy logically warrants the idea that the embryo suddenly becomes human.

The idea that separation from the mother’s body is the point at which an embryo becomes human is also unconvincing. An embryo could be successfully separated from the mother’s body quite early in the pregnancy and could survive. The two youngest babies to survive premature birth are thought to be James Elgin Gill (born on 20 May 1987 in Ottawa, at 21 weeks and 5 days gestational age), and Amillia Taylor (born on 24 October 2006 in Miami, at 21 weeks and 6 days gestational age).[v]

So the embryo must be human (or ‘potentially human pending the separation’) at this quite early stage in the pregnancy. And we are back to the question at what stage in a pregnancy does an embryo become human? We also have to remember that a new born baby remains very dependent for some considerable time. How do we decide on the level of dependency which causes a baby to be human? Again, all of this is clearly arbitrary wishful thinking.

The fact of the matter is that an embryo is human from the point of conception and this is confirmed by the remarkable early developments listed above. So to kill an embryo is morally wrong. It can only be justified if it is definitely the lesser of two evils, i.e. an unavoidable way to save the mother’s life.

In February 2020 the Bishop of Carlisle made the following statement at the General Synod on behalf of the House of Bishops: “The General Synod resolved in 1983 that ‘in situations where the continuance of a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother a termination of pregnancy may be justified and that there must be adequate and safe provision in our society for such situations’ and in 1993 that ‘In the rare occasions when abortion is carried out beyond 24 weeks, ‘Serious foetal handicap’ should be interpreted strictly as applying to those conditions where survival is possible only for a very short period.”[vi]

On what grounds do abortions take place in Britain?

Britain has one of the most liberal abortion laws. Most countries allow abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation, while some allow it up to 18 weeks (Sweden), 22 weeks (the Netherlands), or 24 weeks (United Kingdom). The government in its “Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2018”[vii] speaks of seven grounds:

A. Where there is a risk to the life of the mother.

B. To prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother.

C. To prevent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother (up to 24 weeks of pregnancy).

D. To prevent injury to the physical or mental health of any existing children in the family (up to 24 weeks of pregnancy).

E. Where there is a substantial risk the child would be seriously handicapped.

All the above must be certified by two registered medical practitioners but abortion on the following emergency grounds can be certified by one registered medical practitioner:

F. to save the life of the mother (cf A above).

G. to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother (cf B above).

This government report states that in 2018, there were 205,295 abortions notified as taking place in England and Wales in 2018 (23.8 per cent of pregnancies), of which 200,608 were to residents of England and Wales. (The following figures relate to the latter figure). 97.7% of abortions (196,083) were performed on Ground C, i.e. to prevent risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the mother. NOTE: This is not Ground B: to prevent GRAVE permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother. These were abortions to prevent harm to the mother which were NOT SERIOUS OR GRAVE PERMANENT INJURY. The word ‘harm’ has been very loosely interpreted, in many cases meaning against her wishes to have the child thereby causing her deep upset.

A further 1.6% (3,269) were carried out on Ground E:  to prevent substantial risk the child would be seriously handicapped. Another 0.6% (1,104) were carried out on Ground D: to prevent injury to the physical or mental health of any existing children in the family

Only 145 abortions were carried out on Grounds A and B together (the government don’t separate the figures) i.e. where there is a risk to the life of the mother or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the mother. Another 7 abortions were carried out on Grounds F or G which are emergency versions of Grounds A and B.

So only 0.076% of the 200,698 abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2018 were to save the life of the mother or prevent permanent injury to her. On the basis of abortion being morally justified only as an unavoidable way to save the mother’s life, this means that some 99% of abortions were morally unjustified. Since this involves ending the life of unborn human babies this is a VERY serious matter.

Abortion is a huge moral issue because in 2019 there were over 42 million abortions in the world, the single largest cause of death. Also new research from the National University of Singapore, reported in the New Scientist indicates that sex-selective abortions may have resulted in the deaths of more than 23 million girls around the world.[viii]

Since 1967 there have been 9 million abortions in Great Britain. David Steel, who spearheaded the 1967 Abortion Act, says he didn’t anticipate there would be so many and added: “I still think there are too many, and [that it is] wrong to use abortion as a contraception.”[ix]

Moves to decriminalise abortion

Britain has one of the most liberal abortion laws. Most countries allow abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation, while some allow it up to 18 weeks (Sweden), 22 weeks (the Netherlands), whereas the UK allows it up to 24 weeks. But there are moves to make it even more liberal.

The Labour Party manifesto for the 2019 election included plans to decriminalise abortion, without a time limit. The Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Medical Association support decriminalisation. Supporters argue that women, not doctors, should have control over their own bodies and should not be forced to carry “foetuses” to term against their will. One slogan is: “Reproductive freedom is a basic human right.”

In May 2018 the Observer newspaper published an editorial which said: “Access to reliable contraception and safe abortion has unshackled women from the burdens of unwanted pregnancy. Our abortion law remains stuck in Victorian times: abortion is still a criminal offence and a woman is only permitted to have an abortion if two doctors confirm that continuing with the pregnancy poses a greater risk to her physical or mental health, or that of her existing children, than terminating it. This is demeaning, paternalistic and out of step with public opinion: 70% of the public believe a woman should be able to access an abortion if she does not want to proceed with the pregnancy.”[x]

Such callous comments ignore the unborn baby’s rights.

Even worse comments were recorded in a BBC Panorama programme “America’s Abortion War” in 2019 which interviewed Dr LeRoy Carhart, a proud late-term abortionist in Maryland.  He said: “To the foetus it makes no difference whether it’s born or not born. The baby has no input in this as far as I’m concerned.” The interviewer asked “And you don’t have a problem with killing a baby?” Dr Carhart responded: “Absolutely not. I have no problem if it’s in the mother’s uterus.”[xi] Dr Willie Parker is a Christian doctor in the US who practises obstetrics and gynaecology, specialising in abortions and is a reproductive justice advocate. In a newspaper article he described how he changed his mind about the compatibility of abortion with his faith. He included the comment “The Bible says nothing about abortion.”[xii] This ludicrous statement shows Dr Parker should stick to medicine. The Bible has strong things to say about taking the life of innocent people.

However the good news is that several US states have recently signed a bill making abortion illegal in most cases.

Abortion harms women

In 2011 a report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry concluded that: “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems”.[xiii] It said that more than 50% of women who have abortions, do so because they were put under pressure to abort by family, friends and partners.

The Northern Ireland situation

Northern Ireland had an almost total ban on abortion until in 2019 the Westminster Government decided, whilst the Northern Ireland Executive was not meeting, that abortion should be permitted in Northern Ireland.

The decision

– Removes from law all explicit protection for the unborn child up to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

– Offers no specific protection for unborn babies with disability.

– Does not prohibit abortion based on the sex of the baby.

The majority of people in Northern Ireland do not support the Westminster decision and there is strong criticism of the ignoring of devolution. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce described the proceedings as “unconstitutional, undemocratic, legally incoherent and utterly disrespectful to the people of Northern Ireland”. She also criticised the government for proceeding “with just a derisory one hour’s debate”.[xiv]

This is an example of the very strong commitment to liberal abortion in Britain.

Conclusion

Opposition to abortion is strong in the US but tends to be largely ignored in the UK. Yet it is a huge moral issue which involves taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies. It is clearly something which brings the nation under God’s judgment and we need to be very concerned.

Tony Higton

[i] https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/books/chapters/the-ethical-brain.html

[ii] https://ethicscenter.nd.edu/Whitepapers/testimony-before-the-subcommittee-on-the-constitution-and-civil-justice/

[iii] https://www.christian.org.uk/news/unborn-babies-may-feel-pain-from-12-weeks-says-pro-abortion-researcher/

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4460088/

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_viability

[vi] https://christianconcern.com/ccpressreleases/church-of-england-says-that-over-98-of-uk-abortions-are-morally-wrong/

[vii] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/abortion-statistics-for-england-and-wales-2018

[viii] https://www.christian.org.uk/news/over-23-million-girls-killed-by-sex-selective-abortion/

[ix] https://www.christian.org.uk/news/author-of-1967-abortion-act-there-are-too-many-abortions/

[x] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/20/observer-view-on-abortion-donald-trump-gag-rule

[xi] https://www.christian.org.uk/news/panorama-documentary-exposes-abortion-practices/

[xii] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/catholics-choice-ireland-abortion-law-repeal-the-eighth-a8366831.html

[xiii] https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/abortion-and-mental-health-quantitative-synthesis-and-analysis-of-research-published-19952009/E8D556AAE1C1D2F0F8B060B28BEE6C3D

[xiv] https://www.fionabruce.org.uk/news/fiona-speaks-northern-ireland-executive-formation-bill