Category Archives: persecution of Christians

Supreme Court supports Colorado baker’s First Amendment right to refuse ‘gay’ couple

4½ years ago, in December 2013, Colorado administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer ordered Jack Phillips of a bakery in suburban Denver to bake a wedding cake for two homosexuals or face fines, even though doing so violates Phillips’ Christian religious beliefs.

The homosexual couple had sued Phillips.

Phillips said he’d rather shut down his business and go to jail than compromise his beliefs.

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Colorado

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled 7:2 in Phillips’ favor.

Reuters reports that the Supreme Court ruled that, in its handling of the claims brought against Jack Phillips, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had demonstrated a hostility to religion and violated the baker’s religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

According to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in refusing to bake a wedding cake for “gay” couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig, Phillips violated the Colorado anti-discrimination law barring businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

Homosexual couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig

Of the Court’s four liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, while Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the five conservative justices in the ruling. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

“The [Colorado Civil Rights] commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

The Supreme Court, however, stopped short of issuing a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views. Justice Kennedy wrote:

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

President Donald Trump’s administration had intervened in the case in support of Jack Phillips.

H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV

UPDATE:

From the AP:

People streamed into Phillips’ cake shop after the ruling came down, embracing him as his phone rang repeatedly with congratulations from people who view him as their champion.

Supporter Ann Sewell, who brought a clutch of congratulatory balloons to the bakery, compared Phillips’ bravery to people opposed to the Vietnam War.

“If you could be a conscientious objector and not fight in a war then you should be able to hold to your convictions in something as simple as this when it is not hurting anyone,” Sewell said. “It might offend someone, but that’s life.”

In November, Phillips headlined a rally at Colorado Christian University, not far from his bakery. Somewhat nervous, he voice rattling as he thanked those attending. At the conclusion of his five-minute address, the crowd swarmed around Phillips, touched him and prayed.

~Eowyn

Lawsuit forces CA homeowners’ association to allow Christian groups in senior community

In America’s ongoing culture war, in which the Left and anti-Christians have won too many battles, conservatives and Christians must fight back, with lawsuits if necessary.

A few Christians in a California retirement community did just that — and won.

Solera at Kern Canyon (by Del Webb) is a senior (“active adults” 55 and over) community of 558 homes in Bakersfield, California, where the cost of a single-family home ranges from the low $200,000s to high $200,000s.

Solera has a community center where residents meet, including four popular Christian groups: a Sunday morning worship service, a men’s Bible study group, and two women’s Bible studies groups. About 100 residents attend the groups every week.

In 2016, just before Thanksgiving, Solera’s homeowners’ association (HOA) suspended the group meetings following a complaint from one atheist resident. 

A member of the Sunday worship service and men’s Bible studies filed suit, and the HOA lifted the suspension in late December. The HOA, however, continued to insist that it had done nothing wrong and has the authority to suspend the groups again at anytime. So litigation continued throughout 2017 and early 2018.

Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious (read: Christian) freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.

In Spring 2018, Pacific Justice Institute intervened in the suit on behalf of the leaders of Solera’s four Christian groups. In collaboration with Bakersfield attorney Doug Gosling of Braun Gosling, PJI argued that, although the homeowners’ association was not directly subject to the First Amendment, it owes residents similar obligations under California’s civil rights laws.

The case was scheduled for trial in mid-May. On March 12, 2018, the parties met for mediation that culminated in the HOA agreeing to a number of concessions that will protect the seniors’ religious rights going forward. After the settlement was finalized over the next several weeks, the plaintiffs filed for dismissal of the case.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “We are thrilled with this tremendous victory on behalf of these courageous senior citizens. This may be the first time a group of residents have taken on their HOA in court to fight for their religious meeting rights—and won.”

Matthew McReynolds, the PJI attorney who led the group’s litigation in the case, stated, “Throughout this case, their faith and dedication have inspired us.  They are overcoming physical challenges and disabilities to spread the light in their community, and we couldn’t have been more proud to represent them.”

Source: Pacific Justice Institute

Click here to donate to Pacific Justice Institute, a great warrior in America’s culture war.

~Eowyn

Pentecost Sunday: The Holy Spirit

John 14:19, 18, 16-17

“the world will not see me anymore…
I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.
And I will ask the Father,
and He will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever….”

Last Sunday, the universal Church remembered and celebrated our Lord Jesus Christ’s Ascension.

Having created us, He knows full well our psychology — how bereft His followers would be by His leaving: “grief has filled your hearts” (John 16:6). Loving us deeply, Jesus promised “I will not leave you as orphans” and that the Father would send “another advocate” to help and be with us forever and “always until the end of time” itself (Matthew 28:20).

What a comforting thought!

Today, we celebrate the miracle of the Pentecost — the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles.

Acts 2:1-4

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Given His importance, it is distressing how little we actually know about the Third Person of the Triune Godhead.

The Holy Spirit is mentioned in these places in the Bible:

  1. Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you….”
  2. Acts 2:1-4: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
  3. Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
  4. 1 Chronicles 12:18: “Then the Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said: ‘We are yours, David! We are with you, son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you.’ So David received them and made them leaders of his raiding bands.
  5. 1 Corinthians 2:13: “And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.”
  6. 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
  7. 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
  8. Ephesians 1:13-14: “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.”
  9. Ezekiel 36:26-27: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them.
  10. Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
  11. Isaiah 11:2: “The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD
  12. John 3:6-8: “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
  13. John 14:16-17: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
  14. John 14:26: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
  15. John 15:26-27: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.'”
  16. John 16:7-15: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
  17. Judges 3:10: “The Spirit of the LORD came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.
  18. Luke 11:13: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
  19. Luke 24:49: “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
  20. Matthew 12:31-32: “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
  21. Micah 3:8: “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.
  22. Romans 8:2-6: “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
  23. Romans 8:26: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
  24. Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

From the above passages, these are the attributes of the Holy Spirit:

  • He is a gift from God the Father, through the Son.
  • He is the first installment in our inheritance toward redemption, which implies there will be more gifts following the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • He is in-dwelling: He dwells in us and abides in us forever.
  • He enabled the Apostles to speak foreign languages.
  • He enables us to observe God’s commandments.
  • He teaches us “all things”, especially “everything” Jesus told us.
  • He glorifies Jesus.
  • He tells us “the things that are coming“.
  • He gives us “power from on high” — not power to do what we will, but power to do justice and to declare transgressions and sins.
  • He helps us when we are weak, and intercedes for us.
  • He is “the spirit of truth” who guides us to all truth, but whom the world neither knows nor accepts. That implies that when we follow the Holy Spirit and proclaim the truth, the world will also reject us.
  • He fills us with hope.
  • How do we know when something is of the Holy Spirit? These are His fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

And all we have to do is to ask the Father and He will send the Holy Spirit to us! How marvelous is that?

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit, by St. Augustine:

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

And may the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Whom Christ struck blind

Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Sometimes God uses a drastic method to get our attention. That’s what happened to an awful man named Saul.

Born c. AD 5 in the Mediterranean city of Tarsus (in today’s south-central Turkey), Saul was a Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin, whose father and grandfather were Pharisees. The Pharisees claimed prophetic or Mosaic authority for their interpretation of Jewish laws. Though a Jew, Saul was by privilege a Roman citizen.

An approximate contemporary of the twelve Apostles, Saul neither followed nor even saw Jesus preach. Instead, being a zealot for Jewish law and traditions, he saw Jesus’ disciples as enemy and dedicated himself to the persecution of the early Christians, most notably the killing by stoning of St. Stephen.

When Saul was in his late 20s, as he was approaching Damascus from Jerusalem on a mission to arrest all Christian Jews in Damascus, he and his company were struck by a great light. Falling to the ground. Saul alone heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul asked the voice to identify himself. The voice answered, “Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.”

Trembling, Saul cried out, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” The Resurrected Christ told Saul that in Damascus, he would learn what would be expected of him.

As Saul got off the ground, he realized he had become blind. He was led to Damascus where, for three days, he remained blind and neither ate nor drank.

As in all genuine encounters with God — including our own, should we be so graced — Saul’s dramatic confrontation with the risen Christ changed him forever. Now renamed Paul (which means “little”), not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he became a devoted follower of Christ, arguably the most influential early Christian missionary. Perhaps even more important, Paul developed the first Christology — doctrines and theories of the meaning of believing in Jesus Christ.

Imagine the radical changes in thought and belief that Saul’s conversion required. He had to change not only his Jewish conception of who the messiah was, particularly the absurdity to Jews of a crucified messiah, but also the grandiose belief in the superiority of the Jewish people.

More importantly, more than any of Christ’s disciples, it was Paul who fully understood that, by His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus replaced the covenant of the Old Testament with a new covenant. This was made clear by Jesus Himself in the Last Supper:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11.25; cf. Mt 26.27-29; Mk 14.24, Lk 22.20; Heb 8.6, 9.15).

Henceforth, God’s chosen are all who “take up their cross” and follow Jesus the Christ. In other words, what once was a tribal religion — Judaism — is now superseded by the universal faith of Christianity.

Paul was indefatigable in bringing the Word of Christ to both Jews and Gentiles. Through his missionary activities and writings he eventually transformed religious belief and philosophy around the Mediterranean Basin. His leadership, influence and legacy led to the formation of communities dominated by Gentile groups who worshiped the God of the ancient Jews, adhered to the Mosaic moral code of the Ten Commandments, but relaxed or abandoned entirely Judaism’s ritual and dietary teachings since those laws and rituals had either been fulfilled in the life of Christ or were symbolic precursors of Christ.

That is why St. Paul is called the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Without the work of Paul, formerly the sinful Saul of Tarsus, you and I might not be Christians.

Paul’s missionary travels — preaching and establishing Christian nodes and communities — can be grouped into three. As seen in the map below, he traversed the Mediterranean region, in a time when travel was arduous, laborious and dangerous.

~Click map to enlarge~

The 14 letters (Epistles) attributed to Paul in the New Testament were written during ten years of his missionary journeys. It is possible that Paul also traveled to other countries like Spain and Britain. Among the writings of early Christians, Clement of Rome said that Paul was “Herald (of the Gospel of Christ) in the West” and that “he had gone to the extremity of the west.”

Paul was beaten, arrested and imprisoned on more than one occasion. Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius wrote around A.D. 110 that Paul was martyred. According to Christian tradition, St. Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero, on June 29, AD 67 — the same day as St. Peter was crucified upside down.

June 29, therefore, is the joint feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words (2 Timothy 4:6-8):

“I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.”

For all these reasons — the sinful, pre-conversion Saul; the post-conversion Paul who turned his back on his past and devoted the rest of his life to Jesus; the Apostle to the Gentiles who taught us about Jesus’ New Covenant; the author of all those letters that teach and inspire “so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see”; the saint who so loves Jesus that he joyfully went to his martyrdom — I love St. Paul with all my heart. I can only hope that, should our time darken to the point when Christians are persecuted as in the days of the early Church, I too will have his courage to “finish my course,” “keep my faith,” and stand “ready to be sacrificed.”

I now conclude this post with my favorite passage — St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-16:

“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sources used:

  • One Hundred Saints (Little, Brown and Co., 1993).
  • Rosemary Ellen Gulley, The Encyclopedia of Saints (NY: Visionary Living, 2001).
  • St. Paul,” Catholic Online.
  • Paul the Apostle,” Wikipedia.

Australia church forced to remove ‘Jesus’ from its Easter signs

Ben Fordham reports for 2GB 873AM, March 15, 2018, that a Pentecostal church in West Gosford, New South Wales, Australia, was forced to change their Easter signs because they contain the word “Jesus”.

To advertise its Easter service, Elim Church had paid for digital signs to be displayed at a local shopping center, with the message:

Jesus is alive

But Lendlease, the property company that owns the shopping center, demanded that the word “Jesus” be dropped and the phrase “Jesus is alive” be changed to “Risen Christ”.

Elim Church’s pastor, Martin Duffy, said:

“The phrase ‘Jesus is alive’ is the core, the central message of the Christian faith and what Easter really is all about. And it’s a good message….

‘Jesus is alive’. The phrase became offensive to the people. I think there’s a minority group out there that constantly distort the message of Jesus Christ. It’s just going on and on.”

Pastor Duffy pointed out that Lendlease has no problem with lingerie displays in the shopping center, but finds Jesus offensive.

After the story broke, Lendlease issued this statement:

“It was an error of judgement to ask the church to change its messaging and we apologize unreservedly. Lendlease values diversity and inclusion and we welcome people of all backgrounds at our shopping centers.”

H/t GiGi

~Eowyn

Mike Huckabee forced to resign from Country Music Association foundation because of NRA membership

I had thought country music and country music fans to be conservative.

Not!

On March 1, 2018, less than a day after the announcement of his election to the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation board of directors, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was forced to resign because of criticisms from CMA members and country music fans about his politics and National Rifle Association (NRA) membership.

The CMA Foundation is the charitable arm of the Country Music Association, devoted to growing and supporting music education programs across the country. Its board consists of 12 members.

Country music executive and CMA board member Joe Galante explained in a statement that Huckabee was elected to the position because the Foundation could benefit from the knowledge gained during Huckabee’s extensive political career: “Gov. Huckabee led an impressive administration while serving the state of Arkansas and his policy experience with education reform is something we are fortunate to be able to learn from.”

But Huckabee’s election to the board immediately sparked virulent criticisms from CMA members, as well as hundreds of comments from outraged fans on social media, many of which are threatening to boycott the CMA, CMA Music Festival and country music as a whole.

Jason Owen

Calling Huckabee’s appointment a “grossly offensive decision,” Jason Owen, the homosexual co-president of Monument Records and owner at Sandbox Entertainment, threatened in an email to CMA’s CEO Sarah Trahern and CMA Foundation executive Tiffany Kerns that neither Owen’s companies nor anyone they represent would continue to support the CMA Foundation.

Owen and his husband Sam are fathers to a young son and are expecting twins. Owen said that Huckabee’s stance on the LGBTQ community “made it clear my family is not welcome in his America. The CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant. Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice.”

CMA member Whitney Pastorek, who is the manager of Sugarland, wrote this email to CMA executives:

“What a terrible disappointment to see (the CMA Foundation’s) mission clouded by the decision to align with someone who so frequently engages in the language of racism, sexism, and bigotry. While Gov. Huckabee’s tenure in Arkansas may have resulted in valuable education reform over a decade ago, I find his choice to spend the past ten years profiting off messages of exclusion and hatred (not to mention the gun lobby) to be disqualifying.”

Huckabee wrote in his letter of resignation:

“I genuinely regret that some in the industry were so outraged by my appointment that they bullied the CMA and the Foundation with economic threats and vowed to withhold support for the programs for students if I remained. I’m somewhat flattered to be of such consequence when all I thought I was doing was voluntarily serving on a non-profit board without pay in order to (continue) my decades of advocacy for the arts and especially music.”

Source: USAToday

See also “Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Second Amendment applies to individuals, not militias, and may include military weapons”.

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: The Eyewitnesses of the Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-8

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

In law, there’s an important concept critical to the testimony and determination of truth.

The concept is “percipient witness”. According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”

Today, the universal Church celebrates and remembers a particular event about which the Apostles were percipient witnesses — the Transfiguration.

2 Peter 1:16-18

Beloved:
We did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father
when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory,
“This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven
while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Do you doubt these percipient witnesses?

This is how the Apostles — percipient witnesses of the transfigured and later resurrected Christ — died, testifying to the truth they’d witnessed until their last breath:

  • St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death in Jerusalem, c. AD 34.
  • St. James, son of Zebedee and brother of St. John the Apostle, was the first Apostle to be martyred. King Herod had St. James beheaded in 44 AD.
  • St. James, son of Alpheus, was reported by the Jewish historian Josephus to have been stoned and then clubbed to death in 62 AD.
  • St. Jude Thaddaeus was crucified in Syria, c. 65 AD.
  • St. Simon the Zealot ministered in Persia and was sawn in half, c. 65 AD after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
  • St. Peter and St. Paul were both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. St. Paul was beheaded. St. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, because he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
  • St. Mark, a rope around his neck, was dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 68.
  • St. Thomas was pierced to death in India, 72 AD, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder.
  • St. Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas, was burned to death in Syria, c. 80 AD.
  • St. Bartholomew (identified as Nathaniel in the Gospel of John) is believed to have been skinned alive and crucified. He ministered in India with St. Thomas, in Armenia, Ethiopia and Southern Arabia.
  • St. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Asia Minor, 80 AD, for converting the wife of a Roman proconsul. He also ministered in North Africa.
  • St. Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece. He also preached in Asia Minor and modern-day Turkey. Christians in the former Soviet Union say he was the first to bring the Gospel to their land.
  • St. Matthew was beheaded in Ethiopia. He had also ministered in Persia.
  • St. John was the only Apostle who died a natural death from old age, after surviving an ordeal of being thrown into boiling oil. He was the leader of the church in Ephesus and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. In mid-90s AD, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation.

Below is an account of the Apostles’ martyrdom by Dean Jones in the stunning one-man play St. John in Exile. Though filmed in 1986, I had never heard of or seen it and only recently discovered it.

I urge you to watch St John in Exile, which reduced me to weeping, in its entirety.

May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn