BY Paul Merkley.


The democratic concept holds that . . . each man is a sovereign being. This is the illusion, dream, and postulate of Christianity.

  • Karl Marx.


There is nowhere on earth where the words of the founders of Communism are more nearly ubiquitous and apparently respected than in the People’s Republic of China. Equally, there is no place on earth where Marx’s screwball diagnosis of how society works is more at odds with life itself. I have in mind China’s aggressive capitalistic spirit, but also the persistent “spirituality” that is a feature of China’s past and present.


We are all in debt to the People’s Republic of China for its constant reminder to us of what Karl Marx really believed and stood for. Above all, the PRC teaches that Communism is utterly incompatible with the “illusion” of singular human meaning. Communism’s contempt for Christianity and its contempt for democracy are the two sides of the same coin: its founder’s judgment that singular human meaning is a contemptible illusion and the source of all historical failure.


The PRC hates Christianity like the plague. China is presently engaged in a record-shattering campaign to spread contempt for Christian faith while it proceeds energetically with its policy of removing the basic citizen rights of all of its citizens. Not coincidentally, China leads the world in the matter of incarceration of its own citizens. Likewise, it leads the world in application of all the newest techniques for invasion of privacy.

Conveniently, China also leads the world in manufacture and implementation of technology that makes possible greater and greater control of its population. (See my essay, “Let’s Not Invite China Into Our Lives, Bayview Review, March 10, 2019.)

The Chinese government officially announced in November 2013 that it would abolish the Re-education Through Labour (RTL) System, under which inmates were held and routinely subjected to forced labour for up to four years. However, a 2017 report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission alleges that China still maintains a network of state detention facilities that use forced labour. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/country-studies/china.

As one part of its program for establishing totalitarian control over its citizens, China’s Communist party is intensifying religious persecution. The sufficient reason for this tactic is the simple and embarrassing fact that every few months the proportion of its citizens who declare for Christ grows. The Chinese government perceives, correctly, that declaring for Christ necessarily sets in place potential conflict between the purposes of the State and the obligations that the Christian understands are imposed upon him by his commitment to his Faith. The notion that the authority of the State could be limited in any way is intolerable to Marxist-Leninists and even more to Maoists — and now most of all to Xiists.

Here is a case-study in this matter:

In late October, Wang Yi, the pastor of one of China’s best-known underground (that is, illegal – that is, unregistered) churches, the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, was arrested, along with his wife, Jian Rong, on the charge of leading an “unofficial” church. (https://www.chinaaid.org/2018/12.) Both are, so far as we know, still in detention. Their church building is now closed, while police stand nearby to make sure that no one attempts to use the premises for prayer – the exercise that the Communist state fears more than anything else. While Pastor Wang remains in detention, police have arrested more than 100 brave members of the Early Rain church; uncounted others have been sent out of Chengdu and are barred from returning. The hall in which Wang preached has been emptied of pulpit, seats, and of course its cross, while the space has been leased by the State to a construction company – a brutally obvious declaration of the mind of the powers that govern |China. Anyone found looking for the church – either because he has not heard the news or because he likes to gawk – is turned away by a plainclothes policeman.

A crucial feature of the State’s anti-Christian program is the closing down of bookstores that sell Bibles or Christian literature. An even more sinister development is the State’s promotion of a new state-authorized “translation” of the Bible which establishes a ‘correct understanding’ of the text. In plain words: Communist and Maoist principles have been insinuated into the received text so as to create the illusion that Biblical principles are identical with the teachings of Marx, Lenin, Mao and Xi Jinping.

Journalists in our part of the world have shown a depressing tendency to defame the role of Christianity in the history of modern China. High-School teachers who imagine that they have a grasp on history remember having learned along the way of life that the missionaries who founded the church in China were oppressors, associated in the crime of imperialism with bankers and such-like parasites. But serious historians know that the missionary church was overwhelmingly a force for good — that it worked to reduce the hold of hereditary elites over family life and public life and to advance individualism. Christian missions played an essential role in preparing leaders who steered China’s public life for several perilous decades, from the days when it was colonized by Japan—perhaps the most ruthless, the most inhumane of all the imperial regimes of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth century class – until 1950, when Communist armies cleared the path to power of one of the world’s most tyrannical, bloody and violent regimes – that of Chairman Mao, whose image broods down from giant posters in the dorms of so many university students in our part of the world.

When it snatched the reins of power from the fleeing leaders of the Kuomintang Party Government in 1950, China’s governing Communist Party was publicly committed to imposing a perfect totalitarianism under the guidance of Marxist-Leninism, as clarified by the monster Mao Dze-dong. The best qualified scholars on this theme tell us that this gang of totalitarian monsters which called itself the People’s Republic of China was responsible — either through deliberate and malicious policy —  for the deaths of 65 million of its own Chinese citizens. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism

In the front rank of the public commitments of the Communist Party of China when it took power in 1950 was to extinguish all vestiges of Christianity (as well as of other religious movements, such as the Muslim Uighurs.) But the number of persons publicly declaring as Christians, despite the risks, has grown steadily ever since. Today, there are at least 60 million Christians in China – a figure roughly equal to twice the population of Canada. Each and every one understands that he could at any moment be declared an Enemy of the State and detained – possibly for life.

And so, today, China’s government is returning to Plan A –the eradication of Christianity through suppression of its ability to speak the truth publicly. Leaders of illegal “house churches” tell friends in our part of the world that hundreds of their unofficial congregations have been closed down in recent months; minors are forcibly barred from attending church services, crosses have been pulled down or covered by official Chinese flag or by giant posters of Mao Dze-dong or Xi Jin-ping. All of this amounts to the most severe suppression of Christianity since “Religious Freedom” was engraved in the Chinese constitution in 1982.

Another approach to the problem of Christianity’s continuing appeal is reflected in the government’s work plan for “promoting Chinese Christianity.” What is required here is “thought reform”. Part of the plan has been implemented already. This calls for removal of Bibles for purchase from bookstores or online. Simultaneously, “scholars” appointed by the government, are “retranslating and annotating” the Bible — by appointees of the State of course. These “scholars” have succeeded in finding a “correct understanding” of the text – one which gives the impression that Socialism is the real gospel, from Moses to Jesus.

Xi Jin-ping, the Lord High Everything Else of China for Life, has called for the country to guard against “infiltration” through religion and extremist ideology. But in face of the efforts of the regime to court churches and lure them into compromise, Chinese Christian leaders, we are told, take inspiration from the story of how Christian leaders in the Soviet bloc lived to see Christian resistance issue in the downfall of Communism.

So far, it does not appear that this happy day is in sight. But then, no one foresaw the downfall of all those European Communist nations in the late Summer 1989.





By Paul Merkley.


Two closely-linked phenomena, virtually ignored by our media, ought to be being raised to the top of the list of themes needing urgent discussion by the public and by our governments.

The first is the fact that the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist government of China is now undertaking a massive, unprecedented “social credit” programme which amounts to taking official account of all of the activities of every Chinese person – even the most seemingly trivial activities – for the purpose of achieving complete, totalitarian control of  the behavior of the citizens of China.

And the second is that everyone doing business in China – including all those who belong to our world – is being required to submit himself to a version of this same Orwellian thought-and-activity control as the cost of doing business with the world’ most populous country.

But,  let’s first back up to take note of the awesome expansion of the internet – by far the most revolutionary development in human communication of the past century. In the year 2000 there were some 738 million  users of the Internet in the world—virtually all of them here, in our part of the world. By 2005 there were more that three billion. By 2015 there were 3.2 billion, a number which, obviously, includes many hundreds of millions beyond the perimeter of our world. (See, “3.2 Billion People Now Using Internet World,” time.com/money/3896219/internet-users-worldwide.)  These billions of new customers for the internet providers  are mostly subjects of governments in Africa and the Far East – that is to say, that  they depend upon their governments to do the diplomacy necessary to support their access to and their full enjoyment of internet services.

According to Michael Pisa, a policy fellow at the Washington-based think-tank, Center for Global Development, these “developing countries” are being drawn into Beijing’s orbit of influence on account of their imagined need for Beijing’s internet capabilities. Most concerning of all is the expectation that those countries could be attracted to China’s restrictive internet model rather than to any of the models that operate among us precisely because the Chinese model provide ways and means to support surveillance of the populations of these nations and likewise to stifle dissent – while always proclaiming loudly their intent to advance democracy and liberty among their people.

“Third World governments” (as we used to call them) have always been most keen on putting to use the newest ways to monitor their citizens’ activities and to suppress dissent. According to a recent Report from Freedom House, “Beijing [in 2019]. took steps to propagate its model abroad by conducting large-scale trainings of foreign officials [from at least 36 countries], providing technology to authoritarian governments, and demanding that international companies abide by its content regulations, even when operating outside of China.” s Hidden Camps

(“Spread of China’s State-Controlled Internet Model Raises Concerns,” The Epoch Times, February 6th, 2019.)

At the same time as it has  been  so aggressively campaigning to enlarge its share of the wealth of the world, the Communist Party of China his been conducting a massive internal purge within the ever-more exclusive gang of trusted buddies of Xi Jin-ping – the President-for-Life – as it proceeds towards establishment of the most thorough totalitarian experiment of all time.

China is extending and perfecting beyond limits that we once thought possible the capacity of its government to oversee the activities of its citizens. Already, surveillance systems in Tianjin identify jaywalkers and display their faces on street-side billboards as proof of the State’s capacity to know in every moment of time what the citizen is doing. Over 176 million video surveillance cameras now monitor China’s streets, buildings and public spaces. Using these omnipresent eyes-in-the-sky, China’s government is busily amassing  a “social-credit” system that seeks  to track everyone’s activity in every moment of time in all public space. The day is fast approaching when it will not be possible so much as to visit a pal for a friendly drink without having this deed noted, counted into one’s “Social Credit” record sheet, and evaluated for what it does  or does not contribute to the good of the Party.

The truly scary part of this story is that Governments in Africa and Latin America are welcoming and adapting to their own needs  China’s surveillance capabilities. With China’s hi-tech geniuses looking helpfully over their shoulders, these nations are becoming better-equipped for the work of surveillance of their own citizens. Likewise, Chinese surveillance equipment, once installed by Third World governments, remains of use to China in its ongoing task of gathering facts about the activities of its own citizens and those of third-party-governments.

Human Rights Watch has called out companies that are gathering and codifying the most basic facts about DNA sequences and (we are told) are now supplying these to Chinese police services.  Facial recognition technology is now just one of these new sciences generated by companies which are funded largely from government contracts.

US Vice President Mike Pence has noted all of this and spoke out in October about “an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life.”

At the same time, we note that Xi Jinping, China’s President for Life and the Communist Party’s Supreme leader is actively re-shaping the educational system in his Country so as to include larger and larger portions of propaganda about the glorious History of the Communist Party of China. Simultaneously, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” is taking over the schooling at all levels and occupying the  minds of all citizens.


But most worrying to us outsiders is the growing evidence that the Communist Party of China it aiming to establish a similar role for itself in the ongoing training of Europeans and Americans who come to China to serve their European  and America companies. In the Government of China is taking measures to ensure that within the curriculum  established by Western governments for the training of their own staffs there should be found place for a portion of propaganda on behalf of the Communist Party of China—including the study of its history and the study of Xi Jin Ping Thought. In November, the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce spoke out its concerns about the Chinese government’s pro-active efforts to “promote the development of the Communist Party of China within [Western] companies.”


For decades now, we have been hearing the mantra that  opening up China to trade with the world would have a liberalizing effect: that China’s government would soon learn about the benefits of laissez-faire and step away from its statist behavior;  above all that  China would get over its fascination with the project of   micro-managing the lives of its people.

But in fact the opposite is happening.  The government of China is becoming more repressive, not less so, with every day.

Of particular concern to Christians in Canada are well-attested reports of  a six-fold increase in government persecution of  Christians in Christian  in the last few years. (“China’s Christian persecution of highest level since Mao,” www.washingtontimes.com/news, June 6, /2018.)

President Xi has pronounced that all religion  must be guided by the Party. This will result in “the Sinicization” of Christianity – by “bending Christianity to the will of the Chinese Communist party.” Pictures have emerged showing contrite Christian  worshippers covering up the crosses in  their church assembly halls with giant posters of Mao Dze-dong and Xi jin-ping. (“Christians In China Must Replace Jesus With Pictures of Xi jinping,” Newsweek,  November 14, 2017.)


At the same time,  the Communist Party of China is improving its ability to monitor the lives of all of its citizens. By 2020, 600 million CCTV cameras – nearly one for every two Chinese citizens—will be in place. CCTV cameras now monitor 24/7 the entrances of ever church building in the land.


A particularly brazen aspect of this anti-religious campaign has been an effort to take possession on behalf of the State of the text that sustains our faith. Before long, online sales of the Bible will be prohibited in China. Chinese people will only be allowed to purchase the version of the Holy Bible commission and published and distributed by the Communist Part of China!

These are only some of the ways in which Christian faith is being forced to submit to the demands of the State. The cult of Xi-Jin-ping, now fully established within the Party, the schools, the military and other aspects of public life. is about to be imposed with full force over the already-circumscribed life of the Church.

Do our political leaders not recognize that by entering into scientific, commercial or political collaboration with the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist regime of china we are hurrying the collapse of our own institutions?

Any serious student of the history of the Early church will know that a similar act of submission – this one to the cult of the Emperor Nero — was imposed upon all followers of Jesus Christ. This was the trap in which the authorities caught the Apostle Paul and beheaded him publicly in Rome in 64 or 65 AD.  And it is precisely the trap that is set for  Chinese Christians in this hour.







By Paul Merkley.


Most adult Canadians – but boys, more than girls – will recall with enthusiasm the comic books published by DC Comics and Marvel Comics. There was Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and many others.

Think, therefore, for a moment, what we are being told about our popular culture when we see that the owners of D.C. Comics have thrown in their lot with the despisers of Christianity, in confidence that the commercial bottom-line will benefit.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s campaign to make allegiance to the God of the Christians impossible for intellectuals and self-respecting elitists is now being promoted among comic-book readers.

It is essential to note here that comic books are no longer being produced for nor promoted for children. Nor is there anything “comic” about them any more. Commercial advertisers understand that the juvenile audience is now gathered around the television set. This tectonic shift leaves the comic-book format available for the entertainment of adults—mainly males – whose intellectual and moral development atrophied at age 14.

Lots of consequential things follow from this revolution, but only one interests me here—and that is that the producers of today’s comic books are providing their audience with content deliberately designed to capture and advance the contempt that they imagine that this adult audience has for Christian faith.

We know that business men have armies of deep-thinkers at their service, ready to provide scientifically-validated market-strategies. These self-confident souls are now offering up to their employers proof that explicit, muscular contempt for God, and for Christian faith in particular, is today and forever into the future a secure, winning strategy for commercial success.


DC Comics is planning to release, starting March 6th, a six-episode comic-book series entitled “Second Coming.” In it, Jesus Christ stumbles mindlessly at the side of a heroic character – a character as brilliant as “Jesus” is clueless. He is “Sun-Man, the Last Son of Krispex.”

Indeed, celestial heroes of this sort were worshipped throughout the Roman Empire at the time that the Gospel came into the world, presenting a message totally incompatible with this popular “paganism” of the day.

Think what it tells us about the mindset of the business-men who own D.C. Comics. Assuming that any one of them ever had any loyalty to the content of Christian faith, these persons have been persuaded, for the sake of the bottom-line of the DC Comics company, to set this behind them so that they can participate in this aggressive, abusive campaign. It is clear that in this company the very notion of blasphemy does not occur.

In short: they believe that for themselves individually, there is more to gain, than to lose by turning their backs on Christ and standing in the chorus of His mockers.

For a look at the mindset that governs among these prosperous despisers of Christian faith I am led to the website of “Bleeding-Cool” https://www.facebook.com/bleedingcoolnews which describes itself as “an internet news site, owned by Avatar press, focusing on comics, TV, film, and games. On this site, Mark Russell.. the proud author of the comic-book under review here and ready for release in March, summarizes the story-line as follows: God was so upset with Jesus’ performance the first time he came to Earth (since he was arrested after barely beginning his task and crucified so shortly afterwards) “that God has kept him [Jesus] locked up since then.” Now Jesus comes back as the bumbling, clueless roommate and side-kick of “a powerful superhero, named Sun-Man.”

In case the subtler points of my complaint against D.C. Comics may elude my readers, I suggest that these readers   try to imagine the response to a comic-book hero— equally dense, similarity at-a-loss about getting around in the world of His Creator, but presented as identical to Prophet Muhammad. Put simply: DC comics, for all its wealth, could not afford the cost of protecting the lives and properties of its employees from the deadly wrath of our Muslim fellow-citizens, which would immediately rise to a level comparable to the wrath that swe[t away the Twin Tower. Apart from all other considerations, these knuckle-dragging artists know that the perpetrators of blasphemous material like this are kept safe by the apathy and the indulgence indifference of the generality of nominal Christians.

In an essay published here some months ago (https://thebayviewreview.com/2018/04/09/beyond-blasphemy

I wrote of the successful campaign of an ice-cream company in Toronto – Sweet Baby Jesus — to turn profit for its investors by promoting its ice cream under the banner of explicit contempt for Christian faith. So far as I can determine, the effort of some serious Christian people to persuade these deep-thinkers to give up their display of contempt for Christ has failed. (See “Sweet Baby Jesus ice cream parlour faces backlash over name,” Toronto Star, March 25, 2018.) The company still operates, although for some reason the ownership has changed. Its adverting still turns on winning masses of Torontonians to step up to the counter and say out loud that they would like a “Sweet Baby Jesus.” There is no way of addressing the teen-age clerk behind the counter that does not require this act of blatant blasphemy.

The inevitable conclusion here is that the people who have established themselves as experts in the work of merchandising upon which our general prosperity depends have proved, beyond any reasonable doubt, that people generally welcome an opportunity to indulge in blasphemy against Christian faith. In short, ice cream tastes even better when you get to ask out loud for “Sweet Baby Jesus.”

Or perhaps (a consideration even more depressing), perhaps the generality ice-cream consumers like the generality of comic-book readers, are no longer aware of what blasphemy is.

Which must also mean that the notion of “God” and the significance of “Jesus Christ” likewise escapes them.

In which case, we are in the post-Christian age, with no way back.




EMMANUEL MACRON: A Man For Various Seasons.

By Paul Merkley.


Recent European National Politics.

Just recently, European national politics has come to be dominated by novices – men who had little political experience before being swept into top office by a bedazzled electorate.

(In fact, we could broaden that canvas to include Donald Trump, elected  President of the USA in 2016 while never having held public office  — but that’s a subject for another time.)

The most significant of the factors behind this phenomenon is, of course, the magic of national and international news-media and general entertainment media, working in tandem to produce instant fame  – thus short-circuiting processes which until recently normally required years and even decades.

In Western Europe, the sudden celebrity of national politicians is linked to another phenomenon — the abrupt appearance of brand-new political parties, led by new and untested political personalities. This story has played out within the last few years in Spain, in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Western Europe.  With little notice, these new parties have in just the last two or three years bounced out of government the long-established political parties (generally described as ‘centrist” by their supporters and “elitist” by their enemies) which have dominated governments of Western Europe since the end of the Second World War.

Typical of these recent political whirlwind romances  is the story of the movement called Us with Salvini, which  sprung up suddenly in Italy as a poplar response to the out-of-control immigration of Syrians and other Arab-Muslims, tolerated by an Italian government that was founded on older “centrist” parties. Supporters of Salvini’s party, like supporters of like-minded “populist” movements in the Netherlands, in Spain and elsewhere, have come to sudden notoriety on account of their hard-boiled stand against illegal immigration and against the attitudes towards this reality that have characterised national media and elitist opinion generally. Salvini’s party, in cooperation with a  sister party, Lega Nord, participated in the June, 2018 general election, gaining enough seats to qualify  the party for partnership in the  government and to qualify Matteo himself to take the job of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. 


Recent French National Politics: The Meteoric Career of Emmanuel Macron.

Definitely belonging to this broader European story has been the sudden rise to the Presidency of France of Emmanuel Macron. Significantly before Macron the youngest French head of state had been Napoleon—who virtually blasted his way to power. We live in a gentler age: the same numbing effect that Napoleon achieved over the French mind was accomplished almost overnight on behalf of Emmanuel Macron by means of quiet, well-organized journalistic propaganda campaign.

But today, as I write (January 9, 2018), President Macron is well into the third month of massive civilian protests against what the French public perceives as his indifference to their daily struggles, his attachment to the interests of the rich and powerful, as the economy sinks further each month The “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) movement began at the end of November as a grassroots rebellion against taxes on diesel fuel and the high cost of living. It opened with the blocking of roads, occupying highway tollbooths and the rush of citizens from the countryside into Paris.

Understandably, given the duration of the protest, the numbers participating have declined. But those who remain to thrust themselves to the front ranks have begun orchestrating ever more violent provocations. At one point they brought a forklift truck to the doors of a government ministry compound, torched cars on and around the Champs Elysees, and managed at one location to kick riot police officers to the ground. Last Sunday, Macron wrote on Twitter: “Once again, the Republic was attacked with extreme violence – its guardians, its representatives, its symbols.”

The number of active demonstrators began tending downwards early in the New Year. But the police have begun responding with greater severity, and it is not clear which side has the public’s sympathy for now. Retail sales have been ravaged, as fear has kept the public away from some of the most prestigious centres of commerce. (See, Helene Fouquet, “The Miseducation of Emmanuel Macron: Stunned by December’s vehement protests, France’s president takes refuge in the past,” December‎ ‎20‎, ‎2018‎ )

These protests take their name from the yellow vests all French drivers are required to keep in their cars in the event of an emergency on the road. There’s a paradox!  The government, by mandating this item for inclusion in in everyman’s automobile, has been laying-by the uniform for the greatest mass-movement of the French people’s resistance against itself since end of world war Two!

Arguably, absolutely everything in France needs fixing. The national debt is close to 100 percent of gross domestic product, and interest payments cost €42 billion this year alone . (“Emmanuel Macron calls for order after ‘yellow vest’ attack on police,” December 23, 2018, Agence France-Presse.)

Beyond doubt, President Macron has been cut down several pegs, and is beginning to look more and more like President de Gaulle, the wartime hero of the “Resistance”—who posed successfully as an inflexible pillar of strength – until he abruptly turned away in disgust and resigned after losing a referendum in 1969

We know that Emmanuel Macron is not a man for all seasons—not a man of steady convictions. He has proved inconstant (to put it mildly) in matters of political loyalty—having started public life as a Socialist. Likewise, in the matter of  religion.  As a teenager, he  sought and received baptism as a Roman Catholic, against the protests of his parents — usually a decision that requires some steadfastness in this post-Christian age. But later he confessed that he was not so sure about that any more.. He explained much later that he was then “at “the start of a mystical period that lasted for a few years,” until he turned agnostic and left the Church.  Then, prior to meeting Pope Francis in June of 2018, Macron told the world that he was an agnostic.

Asked last year whether he believed in God, he would divulge only that “I believe in a form of transcendence, that’s why I thoroughly respect the role of religions in society” – which has the stamp of a declaration of faith composed by UNESCO.  (“Meeting with Pope puts Macron’s religious views in spotlight,”. The Local. 25 June 2018 (via Wikipedia.)

 It would be foolish to imagine that such a man has the steadfastness to lead France, let alone “the Free World,” through its the present global crisis of confidence


The Case for the cursus honorum

While it is clear that modern media have made possible instant fame, they have also contributed to the illusion that fame is the same thing as accomplishment.

The politics of the Western world stands in need of many things, but possibly what it needs most is resuscitation of the ancient Roman concept of  cursus honorum—the principle that people should not move on to the highest offices until they have proved themselves, and grown a few years older, in a sequence of lesser offices.





By Paul Merkley.


When I was twelve years old ( I think ), our Pastor, Caleb Harris, called on me to read the lesson for the Sunday Service during the week of Christmas  (1945, I believe.) My Mother smiled up at me from the front row. My Father smiled from the choir – not  the heavenly choir ( not for a few decades more), but the Indian Road Baptist Church of Toronto Choir.

The text that I was given begins:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.).And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David… to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. Luke 2:1-6.

If I have the chronology correct, my mother was likewise great with child – which turned out to be my younger brother, David.

As I had rehearsed my part in the service, alone before Pastor Caleb Harris a few days earlier, I formed one of the great intellectual commitments of my life: that the Bible, which I already understood was meant to be the source of the faith that would see me through to my end, was also a book of History – made of the same materials as the History lessons that we had at school.

I wanted to know: “Who was Caesar Augustus? Who Was Cyrenius?

I have read enough of the academic and semi-academic and pseudo-academic literature on the matter of the “historicity” of the Gospel accounts to have no concern whatever that anything is due to appear anywhere in time and space that will have the power of contradicting the historical truth of the Gospel account – the most developed account anywhere of the circumstances of the birth of Jesus Christ.

In his next Chapter, Luke spews out boldly names of the famous people of his time, who would be recalled clearly – if not in their persons, in terms of their current fame –by his first readers:

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,  Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

Luke’s intention is clear—and it is bold, even brazen. He is challenging  people contemporary to events of his Gospel to draw back their minds to those days, only a few decades back in time, and try to remember where they were when these famous characters strode the earth. It is all meant as a challenge, thrown down to contemporaries, to check Luke’s story against their own  recollections or those of their parents and friends. The challenge was to any and all who doubted the events  of the Christian story — everything that His disciples were now saying about His life and his message, as they set out after His resurrection to walk to the ends of the earth.  There is no escaping the spirit of Luke’s challenge to his contemporary audience: If I have got any of the details of this story wrong step up and challenge me.

I have never believed that these lines from Luke’s gospel compel belief in the meaning that Christians attach to the life of Jesus of Nazareth , but I can say that that Sunday morning over seventy years ago I believed that I was proclaiming historical fact and that the congregation, in responding, was confirming confidence in historical fact.

It is not at all an ambiguous matter: Christian faith is based upon proclamation about the meaning of events that are among the most thoroughly-documented of their time. Along life’s way I have met lots of partially-educated souls, many of them clergymen, who pretend to believe that historical validity is somehow extrinsic or even irrelevant to the Gospel story. “What matters,” they say, “is that Jesus is in your heart.”  But this remains a precious fraud: if Jesus did not walk and talk and speak as the Gospels what is in my heart remains something without objective reference –an exercise in solipsism: Are you really sure that what lives in your heart really does derive from the life and the testimony of the Man, Jesus of Nazareth?

This contempt of certain pious souls for two thousand years of continuous witness takes solid flesh at the so-called Garden Tomb, or Gordon’s Tomb outside the northern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. Here a continuous caravan of America tourist buses pulls up before a cluster of three tombs, in a familiar First-Century style. These caught the attention of the famous General Gordon as he reclined in comfort, across the street, in the home of an America family, the Spauldings, who ran the so-called American Colony of Jerusalem. “Gosh,” said the General ( or something similar) “Are those not long-abandoned tombs that I see over there?”  Indeed they were – abandoned some time early in the Second Century. You will see many others of the same kind and of the same provenance elsewhere in the Holy Land. “And don’t’ those little mounds behind them look like great Skulls? By Jehovah, that must be the Place of the Skull (Matthew 27) and these must be … yes, yes, yes, the remains of the tomb of Jesus! This means that that Church of the Holy Sepulchre cannot be what has been claimed for it! Protestants could now take custody of the real Calvary, conveniently located far away from the dark and spooky site secured about for about 1800 years already, by archeology and by faith. Most providentially of all: there is no parking problem here!

Only a Nineteenth Century Model of a Model Major-General would ever have imagined that the world would sit to hear such arrogance and such ignorance of history played out. But it has worked. Sadly, most of the grown men and women who sign on for tours of the Holy Land under auspices of the major “Evangelical” and “Pentecostal” denominations will never get within several city blocks of the site where, as History and Archeology thoroughly validated over nineteen centuries ago, took place the execution and the Resurrection of Jesus.

Does it matter ? Of course it matters! These things cannot have happened both  there and here!.

The Gospel make claims about the largest matters that are and they claim that these matters follow from specific claims, built upon specific events in specific time and specific place. The contemporaries of the Apostle Paul fully understood this. They were not interested in hearing yet another fantasy about things that go on in otherworldly realms above or below us. The woods were full of such fantasies in those day.

But now today, such is s the contempt for History  among our publically-educated masses today, that leaders of our churches are  sedulously instating fantasies, made of the same stuff, back into the empty spaces where most people put the details of such history as they will ever hear in their lifetimes.

There are some small difficulties of reconciliation apparent in the Gospel’s historical narrative. For example: so far as the secular historical record shows, this gent Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was not the Governor of Syria at the time of the Gospel story, although he does seem to have been in that office a little later. If this is a discrepancy, it is the only one of note and seems to be pretty small change. (In my view, the most reliable source for these matters is a book now considered antique by today’s Bible scholars, but which is so well-fortified with scholarly reference that it is without rival among the literature of today. I have in mind Alfred Edersheim, The Life and times of Jesus the Messiah ,1883.)

As for the awkward anomaly that Jesus’s date of birth seems to have been around 6B.C., the fault here is with the shaky official Roman records and not with the Gospel record. [See Paul L. Maier, In the Fullness of Time, Kregel Publications, 1991, pp.24-28.]

To my knowledge, neither any archeological discovery nor any literary discovery has managed to discredit any statement of fact to be found in the Gospels. The fact that secular commentators manage to keep alive rumours along these lines is entirely owing to the low level of preparation for discussion of theology and history that obtains in nominally learned circles today.





By Paul Merkley


Some Contradictory Trends in the Church today.

 Two contradictory trends mark the situation of the Church today.

 Despite the consensus among journalists and media types,– always supremely confident, almost always supremely wrong — the Church of Jesus Christ is growing in numbers everywhere in the world –in some places rapidly, in others barely. Nowhere in the world is the church in absolute decline, although here in the West it may be in modest, relative decline.

 The notion that the church is in decline supports the self-esteem of people who dimly remember being hauled off reluctantly to Sunday School or to Mass as children, and who now draw their imagery of self-liberation from the elite establishment’s contempt for the uneducated masses.

 The other false generalization about the Church today – dominating most minds in the West, whether “religious” or not –  is that Christianity began here in our midst somewhere and was subsequently disseminated there,  throughout the world, through various missionary enterprises – the missionaries being nowadays reckoned as prominent pioneers in the story of oppression of other races. On all counts, this is historically indefensible.

 When Christianity appeared in the second quarter of what we call the First Century Anno Domini, its home was in the place where now stands the State of Israel, but what was then Palestina—a Province of Rome’s Empire. The masters of that Empire despised the Jews for their record of un-governability; and, after destroying the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, they made clear their contempt for the Jews by naming the region Philistia, after Israel’s ancient enemy, the Philistines.

 So thorough and so brutal was Israel’s campaign against the indigenous “Canaanites” that they ceased to exist as an intact nation. In Jesus’ time on earth, however, travelers might encounter pockets of non-Jewish folk who called themselves “Philistines”. In the usage of the Jews of Jesus’ time, Philistines had become a generalizing and invidious label to describe Jews who dissented from the traditions of the mainstream of Jewish people.

 The people who call themselves “Palestinians” today are of course Arabs, descendants of the warriors who swarmed out of the deserts of Arabia on the advice of Prophet Muhammad in the mid 7th century, sweeping away the several small Christian Kingdoms that then occupied these lands and imposing by force the new religion of Islam.

 Perversely, some leaders of churches here in the West have gone along with the hoax, advanced by Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO, that the local Arabs, the descendants of Muhamad’s conquering warriors, the people who call themselves “Palestinians”, are descendants of the Canaanites, and thus have an “aboriginal” claim to the land—trumping the claim of the Israelis.  The complicity of some church leaders in this massive hoax, is of course driven by contemporary deconstructionist politics and has no foundation in history. The fact that it gets off the ground at all is made possible by the massive spirit of contempt for history, which operates in tandem with the spirit of anti-Judaism – the source of all so-called “anti-Semitism.

 Geographical Aspects of the Future of Christianity

But now get a grip on something! It now seems that the centre of gravity of Christendom is shifting to Africa.  This should not come as an earth-shaking thought, given that, as Professor Brian Stanley of Edinburgh University’s Centre for World Christianity, points out, “The period in which [Christianity] appeared to be indissolubly linked to western European identity was a relatively short one, lasting from the early sixteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.” https://www.christiantoday.com/article/a-growing-church-why-we-should-focus-on-the-bigger-picture/49362.htm

 About six centuries after Jesus’ time on earth, an entirely unrelated race, the Arabs, illiterate and uncouth, came screaming out of the East, bent on destroying everything related to the history of the region – for that matter, to all history everywhere. Christian people had been the masters on that scene, and therefore Christians suffered most from the depredations of these masters. But it was not until the Twentieth Century that it became feasible for Christians born in that part of the world to take their families, their culture, and (usually) their faith to the New World and begin a new life. For most, this involved trans-planting their old churches in unfamiliar soil.

 Christians are today under persecution everywhere. In our own part of the world, the persecution takes mild forms. Clergymen and bishop as well as virtually all persons who publicly identify themselves as Christians are excluded from the discussions that take place at the highest levels of social and political life. Our elites never stand up for Christianity; indeed, they do everything possible to be seen as indifferent or hostile to it. This fact creates great disadvantages in some respects; but, perversely perhaps, it can create advantages of a limited sort.  Only the most poorly informed imagine that Christians or Christianity are part of any oppressive force. No informed person sees Christians as part of the power elites.

 Perhaps the last toe-hold that Christian theology had in the open air was for that brief few days when the Baby Jesus appeared in public spaces everywhere in His wooden crib, while angels and shepherds presided. Even these vestiges are gone – driven away from popular gaze by atheist-zealots who imagine that they are protectors of the young minds from religious zealots The spaces previously occupied by manger-scenes is now give over to advertising Black Friday and Boxing Day Sales.

The theme of the Death of Christianity is assisted by the circumstance that the particular churches that might be remembered from youth by presently-aging members of the cultural establishment have been declining for decades. These would include Anglicans (Episcopalians), Lutherans, Presbyterians,  some branches of Methodism and a certain constituency among the Baptists. The branch of Protestantism that has most successfully overcome the pattern of decline that seems to apply everywhere else has been the branch called Evangelicals. Under which most include the Pentecostals. This company of “Evangelicals” includes a growing category of churches that are entirely unaffiliated to any denominations. “Evangelicals” now make up fifty-five percent of all U.S. Protestants.

Evangelical Growth is Good News for Israel.

It is among these Evangelical Christians that support for the State of Israel is most solid. Also worth noting by beleaguered Israelis is the fact that Evangelical Christianity has grown in numbers in most European countries since 1990 — even while the population of these same countries has declined.

Informed Jews (not the vast majority) know that the most devotedly pro-Israel, pro-Zionist, constituency of all is here, among Evangelical Christians  To take only one indicator- self-described  “Evangelicals” make up a larger portion of the annual company of visitors to Israel than do American Jews!.

But while these indicators of modest growth among European and American Evangelicals should re-assure most Jews this is as nothing compared to the dramatic the growth Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, in Africa and South America.

As for Africa: in 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. Now there are more than 541 million. This works out on average at around 33,000 people either becoming Christians or being born into Christian families each day in Africa alone.

According to Molly Wall, the programme director of Operation World, “Generally speaking, the world is becoming more religious, and that is because the world’s largest historical non-religious populations (former Communist countries, especially China) are becoming more religious. Non-religious populations are in decline there, and overall global figures reflect that change.” https://www.christiantoday.com/article/a-growing-church-why-we-should-focus-on-the-bigger-picture/49362.htm

The Church is growing dramatically in most of the world.

Most spectacular of all is the growth of the African Church, although this fact never gets noted in our secular press. In 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. Now there are more than 335 million. In the last 15 years alone, the Church in Africa has seen a 51 per cent increase, which works out on average at around 33,000 people either becoming Christians or being born into Christian families each day in Africa alone.


Today there are more than 2.4 billion Christians worldwide — just over a third of the world’s total population. This figure includes many in our part of the forest who are of nominal belonging only but who nevertheless, speaking to the census-taker at the door, declare themselves as Christian.

Islam comes second, with 700 million fewer adherents than Christianity has

All around us there is taking place a campaign of low-grade mockery as well as overt mockery of Christian faith. All positive reference to Christian faith has disappeared from the academic literature as well as from secular commentary in the newspapers and journals.   Persons known to have a sincere Christian commitment never make it onto the rolodexes (or whatever they use today) of television talk show producers. This is happening precisely as our indigenous intellectuals are standing in solidarity against any  negative public expression about the virtues of Islam.

It is not yet clear what price we will ultimately pay for this perfidy. Sincere Christians should pray that it will stop short of complete erasure of the Christian legacy from our public life.



We could use more major studies on today’s democratic socialist. These people are a major force in our schools and colleges and it would be helpful to better understand their thinking. At first glance, they appear to have good hearts and questionable intelligence. What gives? Continue Reading »


By Paul Merkley.


Discussion continues to rage around Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union.

So far as I can tell, almost all of this discussion revolves around what writers imagine will be the economic consequences of withdrawal.  These will of course be large, but, I expect, manageable—certainly worth the price of achieving greater sovereignty over Britain’s affairs in general.

Still, I suspect that most Brits voted to leave Europe because they had concluded that a great gulf had developed between Europe’s values and purposes and what Brits imagine are their own values – what they are today, and what they have been in the past. The instinct of most was that Britain had to recover its former distance from Europe and henceforth follow its own purposes.

In colorful illustration of this existential imperative we need look no further than to a decision issued just a few days ago by the unelected members of the European Court of Human Rights. (Soren Kern, “European Human Rights Court Backs Blasphemy Law,” October 29 [www.gatestoneinstitute.org/1302; “A Black Day for Austria,” ibid. December 26, 2011.]

The immediate object of this decision was something that happened in the courts of Austria, but the decision itself is immediately applicable to all of Europe. In the opinion of this body, Austria has violated the human rights provisions laid out in protocols of the European Convention on Human Rights. by failing to prevent Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, from dishonoring Prophet Muhammad.  The offending speech was an offhand remark by Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff during a three-part seminar on Islam held in in November, 2009, in Austria, under auspices of a body called “the Freedom Education Institute,” to the effect that Mohammed was a pedophile because he married his wife Aisha when she was just six or seven years old. Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff’s actual words were: “A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

The ruling establishes a dangerous legal precedent, in that it requires European states – and this would include the United Kingdom — to curtail the right to free speech if such speech is deemed to be offensive to Muslims and thus might pose “a threat to religious peace.” In effect, the decision would establish in the law-codes of Western nations the full force of the Islamic blasphemy code.

The case began when Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff was convicted of “denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion” according to Section 188 of the Austrian Criminal Code. Her subsequent appeal to the Provincial Appellate Court in Vienna was rejected on December 20, 2011, as was her subsequent appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The decision at the ECHR was that states could restrict the free speech rights enshrined in Article 10 of the Convention if such speech was “likely to incite religious intolerance” and was “likely to disturb the religious peace in their country… [or was] capable of arousing justified indignation.”

In making this decision, the European court has in effect imposed an Islamic code about blasphemy upon the people of Europe and has done so for the sake of  preserving religious peace in Austria.  Their view was that “it was not compatible with Article 10 of the Convention to pack incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.”

Did you get that? You are deluding yourself if you imagine that you did. This is a clear case of smothering failed logic under impenetrable syntax — as ever, the clue to a bad conscience.

Still, it is clear that this decision now imposes on European governments – including that of the U.K. – the duty of curtailing the right to free speech of their citizens, if such speech is deemed to be offensive to Muslims. Such an obligation might not stop the President of France in his tracks; and we can be quite sure that it will not spoil Justin Trudeau’s day when, not if, the same matter comes to be deliberated by our courts.

The American tradition, following the British tradition, does of course acknowledge limits to the right of freedom of speech. These are best summarized in Oliver Wendell Holmes’s proscription of the right to cry fire in a crowded theatre. But only good sense, not jurisprudence, is needed for understanding these matters. The bottom line here is that proscription of free speech along the lines mandated by the European Court is plainly incompatible with what every grown up recognizes as my right to criticize other persons and/or the institutions which they embrace—as I am doing here.

The story behind this story is the campaign waged over recent decades by the Organization of  Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries, which argues for entrenchment  of the Islamic view-of-things at the United Nations. OIC  also claims to speak for the  interests of the exponentially-growing Muslim community in Europe and in North America.

Hard to grasp for us born-Westerners is the reality that these immigrant communities in our midst for which OIC claims to speak and who are made up of persons in flight from incompetent or oppressive Muslim governments in their homelands are telling us with apparent enthusiasm that they want to see established here,  in Europe and in North America, for themselves and their children and their children’s children,  equivalently oppressive Islamic institutions.

The cornerstone of the Muslim campaign against people like Mrs. Sabaditsch-Wolff who stumble into negative expression about the Prophet is an appeal to UNHRC Resolution 16/18, to which Canada like other Western nations subscribes, and which requires our governments to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of religion and belief.”

It never occurs to Roman Catholic or Protestant or Jewish organizations to fight this same fight under their own banners — even though ear-splitting mockery and abuse against Christian and Jewish faith and practice rings out all day long in lecture halls in every university and college in the West, and likewise finds unchecked expression in academic bodies and academic journals

If Britain intends to stay in the European Union, she will have  to promptly adjust her ancient vision of the rights and duties of citizens so as to conform to the utterly alien view of the same which has always obtained in the Islamic world. This is, indeed, what Europe is doing and doing gladly, as must be concluded from the judgments of the European courts with respect to the challenge to the peace caused by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.

All by itself, this prospect should be enough to validate the  wisdom of the British public in the Brexit plebiscite of 2016, when they rejected by democratic ballot the project of total immersion of Britain’s identity in Europe’s

There should be no need for British libertarians to crank up a mighty public campaign against the creeping accommodations of British intellectuals to the clamoring of Muslim activists. All that is needed now   is for British politicians to carry through on their commitments to lead the British people out of the European Union.




China Has Re-Defined the Meaning of Law for All of Us.

By Paul Merkley.


Triumphs of Engineering.

In recent days, we have witnessed a breath-taking acceleration of the  state-planning project of the Communist regime in China.

Co-incidentally, we are witnessing great strides towards political and social absolutism — a vindication of the sober fantasy envisaged by George Orwell back in 1948. (See Paul Merkley, “Orwell Didn’t See The Half Of It, Bayview Review, September 22, 2018.)  China is actively promoting around the world a fantasy about record-breaking economic consequences that are expected to follow from the building of its “Belt Road Initiative.”  (See , Matt Brown, “New Silk Road seemingly built on good intentions, but some fear a China  ‘debt trap,” October 14, 2018, https://www.stuff.co.nz.

A Chinese government spokesman for this project pledges that the highway itself, plus a global infrastructure to be built around it, will usher in “the Silk Road spirit of peace and co-operation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.” Continue Reading »


By Paul Merkley.


For 1984¸ his now-classic book describing the dystopian possibilities for totalitarian thought, George Orwell lifted information about recent technology and extrapolated its possibilities to describe the life that would await his descendants — that is to say, us.

1984 is certainly the best-known of the works of Eric Blair (1903-1950), the short-lived genius who wrote under the nom-de-plume, George Orwell. The futuristic novel describes a state-of-the-1940s-art universal two-way communications system, which, in the book, cannot be turned off and from whose eye one is never allowed to turn away. All agree that it would be awful to live under such circumstances.

Yet the painful truth is that some parts of Orwell’s vision-of-the-future are far too benign. One quaint feature is that Orwell has had to imagine giant, in-your-face -television screens as venues for give-and-take between the regime and the citizen, whereas the instruments of control today are those ubiquitous tiny hand-held electronic devices.

But if you really want to get yourself worked up about the possibilities for mass control in the world today set aside Orwell and consider what is actually happening in China as we speak. (https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12988/china-social-credit-system; https://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/google-and-china-made-for-each-other.)

As far back as 1995 President Jiang Zemin spoke of the Party’s intention to meet the challenge of “informatization, automation, and intelligentization.” What he had in mind, apparently, were the newest means by which non-compliance with the regime’s wishes could be rendered literally impossible. In theory, violent force should  never be required to accomplish these ends. Instead, all means necessary to the accomplishment of total compliance with the Party’s would soon exist as Chinese society becomes encompassed, with no loose ends left over, in a massive totalitarian system of knowledge about the actual behavior of each-and-every citizen.

Some first fruits of this effort can already be seen in China’s new “social credit” system. Over the years, each and every Chinese citizen has been dragooned into an ever-more-exhaustive information-gathering system run by the State. And now the acquired details are being sifted, with the result that each citizen can now be assigned a numerical score for reliability, based upon the regime’s reckoning of the “social value” of each and every activity in which he is engaged or to which he admits to being drawn.

Keep in mind that Xi Jin-ping appears by name in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China as China’s President-at-will — Dictator for Life. He believes and declares that the Party must have absolute control over society and he must have absolute control over the Party. Not a peep of dissent is being heard.

How will this be accomplished? Well, for starters, the plan is to have about 626 million surveillance cameras operating throughout the country before the end of next year. Those cameras will, among other mercies, feed information into a national “social credit system.” That system, when it is in place in perhaps two years, will assign to every person in China a constantly updated score based on all observed behavior. For example, an instance of jaywalking, caught by one of those cameras, will result in a reduction in one’s “social credit” score – helping to establish one’s place along a scale culminating in over-the- top virtue —sainthood,” we might almost be tempted to say. China will then be truly what the Economist called “the world’s first digital totalitarian state.”

In their own words, Chinese officials describe the goal of their finished work as “to allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” Hou Yunchun, a former deputy director of the State Council’s development research center, said at a forum in Beijing in May that the social credit system should be administered so that “discredited people become bankrupt”. As early proof of the system and how it works we are told that as of the end of April 2018, authorities had blocked individuals from taking 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed rail trips.

And by the way: Xi Jin-ping, the Lord-High-Everything-Else-for Life of China,  does not believe in second chances for those who fall short: “Once untrustworthy, always restricted,” he proclaims.

But of more immediate concern to us are signs of early cooperation between the Chinese regime and certain zealous entrepreneurs in our own midst who are attracted by marketing possibilities in such pioneering work.  Roger Simon, writing for pjmedia, September 13, 2018, has caught wind of this, story, virtually ignored by our media. Documents leaked to a source called Intercept disclose that Google plans to substantially expand its role in the Chinese market through the potential launch, as early as next year, of “Dragonfly,” a  Chinese search app for Android devices..  https://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/google-and-china-made-for-each-other.)

Prototypes and negotiations with the Chinese government are already far along, laying the groundwork for the potential service to launch as soon as early 2019.

Simon notes:

In its attitude toward political dissent, the Chinese Communist Party has proven much harsher than the old Soviet regime of the Brezhnev era. Modern Chinese sentences are longer, the prospects for early release are far worse, and the Chinese authorities are generally unmoved by pleas for leniency from foreign diplomats. None of this seems to bother Google…


It is a chilling thought: collaboration between the mighty Google empire and the Chinese Communist party in preparation of two-way information systems for sale to governments and merchandizers alike. Right out of 1984!