What To Make Of Homo Naledi

International and local news media have been abuzz the past few days with the public announcement on 10 September of remains found west of Johannesburg, South Africa, that have been named Homo naledi. Some Christians react with apprehension at just how to respond to these types of announcements.1 Today, the Christian community has a well-stocked arsenal from ministries such as Creation Ministries International from which to understand and refute claims regarding an evolutionary view of human origins.
Professor Lee Berger from the University of Witwatersrand, palaeoanthropologist and leader of the team that researched the find at the so-called ‘Cradle of Humankind’ is a ‘celebrity’ scientist who knows well how to extract maximum publicity, something even the evolutionary sympathetic media acknowledge. National Geographic stated that “Berger is a tireless fund-raiser and a master at enthralling a public audience.”2
Journalists from around the world, businessmen, celebrities and politicians attended the official event at Maropeng. Perhaps in an effort to guard against the type of ‘brushing off’ that his announcement of Australopithecus sediba3 received from rival paleoanthropologists in 2010, Berger has included a number of international “young scientists, some with the ink still wet on their Ph.D.’s”2 in the research and publication of their findings on the online journaleLIFE.
The particular cave where the remains were found was discovered by cavers Steve Tucker and Rick Hunter in 2013.2 They reported the find to Berger who, due to the narrow entrance to the cave, advertised on Facebook for skinny scientists to go and investigate the finds. He assembled a team of six women scientists who retrieved the remains during expeditions in 2013 and 2014.
About 1,500 bones belonging to at least 15 individual creatures have so far been retrieved. It is believed that many more remains still lie in this remarkable chamber called Dinaledi (‘stars’ in the local Sesotho language). The chamber was apparently previously undiscovered though other caves in the area have been the site of much exploration in the past, and the site of fossils such as Mrs Ples, Taung Child and more recently, Australopithecus sediba, all classified under the same genus Australopithecus.
So what are we to make of this latest announcement?
The first principle to remember is the nature of the science behind such interpretations of fossil evidence. It involves historical or origins science; the interpretation of unobservable, untestable history of the evidence, in this case bones. The subjective nature of this interpretation is admitted even by such well-known evolutionary paleoanthropologists as Darren Curnoe who said, “Nobody looks at a fossil with a completely open mind. I suppose to some extent also we see what we think. So, you come to a fossil and you have an idea about the way you think human evolution worked, and the first thing you do is try and fit that fossil into your worldview.”4 So he and many other naturalistic scientists increasingly admit that it is the worldview that drives the interpretation of the evidence, not the other way around.
What makes this announcement different is that all previous hominin fossils in the area have been designated as australopithecines. Australopithecus spp. has been dismissed by prominent evolutionary authorities such as Charles Oxnard as unique, extinct primates, irrelevant to human evolution and anatomically more distant from both apes and humans as these are from each other. Regarding A. sediba: “Though the doyens of paleoanthropology credited him (Berger) with a ‘jaw-dropping’ find, most dismissed his interpretation of it. A. sediba was too young, too weird, and not in the right place to be ancestral to Homo: It wasn’t one of us.”2 To regain the spotlight, Berger needed a Homo. H. naledi appears to have enough anatomical overlap to be at least tentatively accommodated in that genus for now.
CMI is researching the claims, and will in future publish a detailed technical assessment. Until then we remain uncommitted as to whether the remains are human or ape. What they are not, though, is some kind of missing link between ape-like ancestors and man, which is what Berger and his team are clearly inferring. Already the interpretation as a new species of Homo is experiencing criticism from within the evolutionary community.5 The literature variously describes the creatures as having “feet virtually indistinguishable” from modern humans,6 having “tool using capabilities”,2 engaging in “ritualised … intentional body disposal”7, and finally “Homo naledi could have used fire to light the way”.8
One will have to wait and see whether the evolutionary scientific community come down on the side of the remains being Homo, or just Australopithecus. But why label the remains Homo naledi if there is so much indication that these may have been ordinary humans with some unique anatomical variations just as there are variations today between different people groups but all descended from the first two people created by God—Adam and Eve? University of California’s Tim White, who holds a different interpretation of human evolution, believes the remains belong to the species H. erectus, named in the 19th century. He is reported as saying that “New species should not be created willy-nilly. In order to claim a new species one has to demonstrate that it’s different from anything that’s ever been known.”5
Indeed, H. naledi has been described as having features “similar to early Homo species including Homo erectus, Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis”9. There are increasing numbers of evolutionary paleoanthropologists who today argue that these are arbitrary species designations of variations of mankind. “In other words, instead of Africa once being home to multiple human species such as Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster and Homo rudolfensis, all of these specimens may actually simply be Homo erectus.”10 Scientists such as Wolpoff as far back as 2001 argued that these should really all be included under H. sapiens, human beings.11
Remains of the elderly, young adults, juveniles and infants were found at the site,2 Three fragmented craniums have been found. Besides the subjective nature of reconstructing the skulls, the stated brain case capacity of around 560 cubic centimetres2 used to justify the ‘primitive’ interpretation of the remains, falls well within the range of sizes for infants and even pathological adults.
A glaring omission is the lack of any effort to date the bones. Hints are given that the scientists involved would like to see them around 2 million years old, which would then help place them as perfect “links” between Australopithecus and Homo by evolutionary assumptions. Berger’s excuse for this omission is that he “didn’t feel it ethical to destroy hominin material until it had been described; dating the specimen would mean the destruction of the material.”12 As more than 1,500 pieces have been removed and examined, and by their own admission possibly thousands more remain in the chamber, surely they could have sacrificed just one bone for radiometric dating?
The Berger et al paper describing the geological context of their finds repeatedly refers to the remains as “bones” and only “partially mineralised”.13 They were not even excavated from lithified sediment but soil “composed of largely unconsolidated sediment … dominated by reworked orange mud clasts embedded in a brown muddy matrix.”13 Many of the bones required no excavation at all. The female crew “plotted and bagged more than 400 fossils on the surface, then started carefully removing soil around the half-buried skull.”2 Thinking about it, this could very well be a description of the removal of bones from a WWI battlefield. All this indicates that the bones may well be quite young, in which case the obvious dating method would be carbon-14.
Of course, the reason 14C dating has not been done on the bones is because the assumptions behind 14C dating known by evolutionary and creation scientists alike, indicate a maximum theoretical ‘age’ of 50,000 to 100,000 years for any specimens found to contain radiocarbon.;14 The presence of 14C in these remains would clearly refute the evolutionary human ancestry. This is a public challenge to those involved in the H. naledi claims. As a ministry, CMI will fund the 14C analysis if they make samples available to us in a manner acceptable to both parties ensuring that contamination has been avoided.
Ironically, these pseudo-scientific claims (which are likely to be increasingly challenged by rival palaeoanthropoligists in the months and years to come),15 have been embraced by politicians eager to bask in the limelight of this ‘scientific’ discovery. Darwinian evolution and its corollaries, race science, social Darwinism and eugenics, were the ideological foundation for much of the racism and white supremacy of the 20th century. This led to black people in Africa being regularly treated like, and routinely called, monkeys, baboons and apes.16 Sadly some of the black leaders, who often were involved in the battle against these injustices, are today lining up to be given the opportunity to kiss (literally in one instance) their supposed ape-like ancestors.
Whatever the final response to these announcements, the fossil remains are either those of an ape ‘kind’, or of mankind, and if the latter, descendants of the historical Adam and Eve. They probably died during the post-Babel period, within the past few thousand years.
Don’t let this shake your faith
And so Christians ought not to be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:14-16)
MARC AMBLER is Creation Ministries International SA’s Head of Events and Speaker. He is available for conferences – contact 021 979  0107 or visit www.creation.com
References and notes
CMI has received numerous call from Christians since the 10 September 2015 announcement, including from Christian radio stations. Listen to the podcast interview on Radio Pulpit, https://soundcloud.com/radiokanselweb/brandpunt-evolution-11092015. Return to text.
Shreeve, J., This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?, news.nationalgeographic.com, accessed September 2015. Return to text.
Line, P., Australopithecus sediba—no human ancestor, April 2010; creation.com/sediba; and Australopithecus sediba revisited, September 2011; creation.com/sediba2. Return to text.
Enigma Man: A Stone Age Mystery, Australian TV documentary. See Grigg, R., Enigma Man: A Stone-age Mystery, July 2014. Return to text.
Reuters article, Critics Question Homo Naledi Fossil Find in South Africa, NBC online news. Return to text.
News 24, 10 fascinating facts about Homo naledi, 10 September 2015. Return to text.
Rising Star Expedition reveals new species: Homo naledi, wits.ac.za, accessed September 2015. Return to text.
McKenzie, D., and Wende, H., Homo naledi: New species of human ancestor discovered in South Africa, edition.cnn.com, accessed September 2015. Return to text.
Berger, L.R., et al., Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, eLife 2015(4):e09560 | doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09560. Return to text.
Choi, C.Q. What We Learned About Human Origins in 2013, December 28, 2013, LiveScience online science newsletter. Return to text.
Wolpoff, M.H. et al., Modern human ancestry at the peripheries: a test of the replacement theory, Science 291(5502):293–297, January 2001 | doi: 10.1126/science.291.5502.293. Return to text.
Chernick, I., and Dipa, K., Critics rain on H. naledi team’s parade, iol.co.za, accessed September 2015. Return to text.
Dirks, P., Berger, L., et al., Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, eLife2015(4):e09561 | doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561. Return to text.
Wieland, C., Radiometric dating breakthroughs, Creation 26(2):42–44, March 2004. Return to text.
This is already happening at the writing of this article, see Ref. 12. Return to text.
Ambler, M., Herero genocide, Creation 27(3):52–55, June 2005. Return to text.

How To Keep Christmas Meaningful

Christmas is upon us yet again. Although the event is associated with celebration, it can be a nightmare for some families. Christmas has become so commercialised over the years, that it has lost its true meaning. As we approach the festive season, we’ll be mercilessly bombarded with adverts of expensive toys and gadgets that promise to make our children deliriously happy and the envy of their friends. As a result, our youngsters are programmed to expect gifts, despite the financial situation of the family. 
The responsibility lies with us parents to ensure that we instil family values that will stand the test of time. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” How do we apply this Scripture in the real world? Following are a few practical suggestions:
1 Establishing a family culture
Take some time to ask your children what Christmas means to them. Seek to understand their perspective, before you give them yours. This will grant you the opportunity to understand their viewpoint and to iron out any misconceptions. It is important that you help them to see that the birth of Jesus is primarily the reason for the season. The giving and receiving of presents should be considered secondary. Try to emphasise that their worth and value as people stems from who God says they are and not from their possessions. Other people’s opinion of them doesn’t alter how the Lord sees them, nor does it erode their worth and value in any way. 
2 Can we afford the gifts you want?
If you foresee your family struggling to splash out on Christmas celebrations as in the years past, it is important to communicate this to your children. Be willing to answer their questions (trust me, there will be many). This may also be a good time to speak with your children about the difference between needs and wants. Our needs are the things necessary to keep us alive, such as food, water, clothes etc. Our wants are the extras we like to have to make life more enjoyable. Christmas presents fall under the ‘wants’ category. If our basic needs aren’t met, borrowing money for our wants won’t benefit the family, especially when you have to pay back with interest. 
3 What options do we have?
Get creative by making your own gifts. Homemade gifts are not only original and unique, but have sentimental value! They are also far more likely to be used and appreciated by the receiver. Sure, you may have to purchase the materials, but it will definitely be the cheaper option. Remember to take a list with you when you go shopping. The benefits are three fold: It will keep you focused, prevent you from buying things you don’t need, and stop the kids from throwing tantrums (please communicate beforehand that you’ll only be purchasing the items on the list). 

ANNIE CHISAMBO is the author of ‘How To Budget With Your Pocket Money’ and a teacher of money matters. For more info: achisambo@yahoo.com

Jesus Christ of Nazareth – Who Is He?

It is the time of year when we celebrate Christmas and the birth of the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. But, who is this Jesus? Throughout history, many a ‘Jesus’ has come and gone. Paul the apostle warned us of this and that even another ‘gospel’ would be preached. To the Corinthians and the Galatians he wrote: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted – you may well put up with it” 2 Cor 11:3-4.
 “I marvel that you are turning away from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ” Gal 1:6-7.
Who is this man?
The puzzled Jews and Pharisees asked Jesus “Who are You?” John 8:25. Peter, the Apostle, said of Him: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” Matt 16:16, and in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost declared: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” Acts 2:36. 
Emperor Julian, the apostate, in his dying words proclaimed “You have conquered, O Galilean”. So, who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Who is this Galilean? Who is this man who lifted the centuries off their hinges, divided our calendar in half, and changed the course of human history? Wherever His true followers went, they changed the world for the better. Indeed, there is not a country where Christianity has gone and not been of immense benefit to its people. How is it that no man or woman has ever regretted being a Christian on their deathbed? 
Dr James Allan Francis, in an essay entitled ‘One Solitary Life’ (1926), wrote this of Him: “Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpentry shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never travelled two hundred miles from the place He was born. 
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…While still a young Man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is a centrepiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One solitary life”.
A different jesus within the cults
Today, some proclaim Him as a prophet only, an enlightened new-age guru, a cosmic Christ, a moral philosopher, a political revolutionary. Among the cults, many believe He is god, but not the only eternal God, or Saviour and not Lord. 
C.S Lewis said in his book ‘Mere Christianity’ , “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said, would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman, or something worse. You can shut Him up for being a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
A different Jesus within evangelicalism
Daniel Darling, in an online article entitled ‘Counterfeit Christ Figures We Should Stop Worshiping’, states that “Jesus seems popular these days, even at a time when Christianity seems to be facing more social marginalisation.” He goes on to note that “from political and social movements, to bumper stickers, we’ve appropriated Jesus as a mascot for our favourite causes.” 
But, is this the real Jesus of the Bible or a Jesus of our own construct and making? Christ’s Mission is to call out a people and form them into His own likeness, but it seems we are more interested in forming Christ into our image. It is as if Jesus can be easily moulded into whatever we wish Him to be. Soon, the Christ we claim to worship will look strangely like the man in the mirror. 
What are some ways we are tempted to mould Jesus, like clay, into whatever we want Him to be? Here are some of the partial Jesus’, pointed out by Darling and others, that have become popular in contemporary western Christian culture:
Guru Jesus. This is the Jesus of the Enlightenment and New Age. He existed in history as a great moral Teacher, but was not nearly as radical as the Christ of the Gospels. This is the wise, winsome figure Who fits nicely alongside other moral teachers and religious leaders, like Buddah, Confucious, Chrisna, Vishnu, and others. This is a safe Jesus who only tells us good, affirming, uplifting things and does not bother us with dangerous talk of the Kingdom of God. Guru Jesus is the ‘cosmic therapist’ we can go to when we need Him for advice and affirmation. The problem with this Jesus is that He defies the historical record and claims of Jesus Christ, and is not the compelling Christ of Scripture. Guru Jesus does not meet the deepest longings of the human spirit for salvation and deliverance from sin and death.
Socialist Jesus. This is the Jesus of progressive social causes, who is anti-capitalist and has little relevance to personal salvation by faith. While it is true that the Kingdom means Good News for the poor, Christ’s coming wasn’t the first advent of a Karl Marx, but that of God’s eternal salvation and the inauguration of a New Covenant mediated through the life, death and Resurrection of Christ. The utopian dreams of socialism are trivial compared to the worldwide renewal promised by Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
PC Jesus. This is the politically correct Jesus who is in vogue among many well-meaning, progressive, liberal evangelicals. The Jesus we are all tempted, at times, to embrace. He replaces the so-called angry God of the Old Testament with a mostly peaceful, healing, non-controversial Jesus of justice. He is far more likeable than the Apostle Paul, who just doesn’t seem to understand our twenty-first century social norms. This is the tolerant, ‘nice’ Jesus who loves unconditionally, appreciated by moral humanists. There is only one problem with PC Jesus, He is unlike the Christ of Scripture, who loved us sacrificially and spoke of an “unbreakable Law”. His coming was not to abolish “one jot or tittle of the Law”, but “to fulfil the Law.” The real Jesus said controversial and demanding things about marriage, about hell, about repentance, judgement and His coming Kingdom.
He-Man Jesus. This Jesus has come to help men recover their masculinity in a response to a crisis of manhood. This is the Jesus of Braveheart, Rambo, John Wayne and big-game hunting. However, a Christ-shaped masculinity isn’t defined by tough talk and martial arts. The Jesus of Scripture was both tough and tender, a Man who rebuked and nurtured. He did not come to conform men into a hyper-masculine construct, but, into men who fulfil their unique Kingdom purposes as servant leaders in the home, the church, and the community. Fatherlessness and masculinity can only be healed through the transformation of men who lay down the fallen nature of Adam to follow the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Patriotic Jesus. This is the Jesus of patriotic national renewal, who ushers in a revival of traditional values and a return to the perceived ‘glory days’ of yesterday. This Jesus always disappoints because he seeks ultimate satisfaction in short-term victories, instead of a long-term view of the Kingdom of God. In contrast, Jesus of Nazareth is not interested in simply returning America, Britain, or any nation for that matter, to an era of bygone values. He lived, died and rose again to renew the entire universe from the curse of sin. We Christians look to that great City whose builder and maker is God. 
Dr Phil Jesus. He is a tough-talking of sage and dispenser of advice. Evangelicals seem to love this Jesus, He has the solution to all of their problems. To them He comes close to the Christ of Scripture, who is the answer to our deepest needs. Yet, sadly, He exchanges a pursuit of Christ and Christlikeness for a pursuit of principles. The Jesus Christ of Scripture becomes less of an object of worship, than a means to an end, in a five-step recovery programme. This Jesus, who will fix your marriage, set up your next job and ensure your children make it to university, is, in the end, a disappointing deity, preaching a moralistic, therapeutic deism that cannot save. The real Jesus Christ of Nazareth leads us not to a set of principles, but to Himself!
Prosperity Jesus. This Jesus is Dr Phil Jesus’ extravagant cousin. He doesn’t just promise an abundant life, but a wealthy and prosperous life. He is appealing to the wealthy, to those living in ivory towers, where persecution and difficulty are hardly known. He is the answer to a guilty conscience for those living in idolatry, greed, selfishness and plenty. Somehow, He seems removed from the threadbare existence of most Christians around the world. Prosperity Jesus is an insidious heresy preying on the poor to collect their money, causing disappointment and ruin when the promised prosperity does not materialise. The Christ of Scriptures does not promise private jets and expensive holiday homes, but the presence of God in the midst of difficult circumstances, and self-denying faithfulness in a fallen world. What’s more, the Christ of Scripture offers a much better ‘future return on investment’ than short-term bling of any earthly kingdom.
Post-Church Jesus. The Post-Church Jesus allows you to worship Him without all the trappings of the institutional church. He is for those who are burned out by the overly political, legalistic church. In some ways, this Jesus is attractive for those who have grown tired of a gospel that sounds more like traditionalism than the Gospel of Christ. But, the real Jesus of Scripture does not offer His followers the option of following Him without being part of the Church. The very act of regeneration by faith baptises the believer into His Body. Christ loves His Bride  and offers no fruitful path outside of the community of the believers.
BFF Jesus. The Best-Friends-Forever Jesus is one who fits well with our contemporary, narcissistic youth culture. He hints at the truth of the real Christ, who offers personal salvation and is a friend of sinners. This Jesus, of modern worship songs, sounds more like an ex-boyfriend who is needy and clingy, than the righteous Ruler of the Book of Revelation. What’s more, He seems to have no connection to 2 000 years of Church history and the weight of Christian orthodoxy. Instead, He is a light, fun, personal and private Jesus who is detached from the coming King of Righteousness and Justice described by Scripture. He approves, without reservation, our lifestyles and seems safe for the whole family. He is the Jesus of pop evangelicalism, who offers little preparation for difficulty or hard times and offers little anchor for the coming cultural storms.
Legalist Jesus. Lastly, this Jesus baptises my traditions and personal preferences. Like the Pharisees, He mixes prohibitions on trivial matters with orthodoxy. This Jesus, scorned by some, is attractive to others because He offers a simple list of rules to live by. He allows His followers to ignore the daily practice of repentance, forgiveness, and the Spirit’s sanctifying work, for a checklist Christianity. The problem is, His gospel cannot save the lost. It offers a lifeless religion that seeks outward transformation at the expense of inward renewal and grace. Only the real Christ, whose life, death, and Resurrection offer personal salvation, has the power to change lives.
Who do you say He is?
Each of these ‘Jesus’ figures offer only a partial glimpse of the real Jesus of Scripture, by accentuating only some, or part of His character. This keeps Christians from bowing in worship at the feet of the real Christ, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world. Any version of Christianity that allows us to shape Jesus as we see fit, although seemingly attractive, will be a spiritual dead end. We should, instead, find genuine joy and salvation in surrendering our hearts in worship and obedience to the original Jesus of Scripture!

PAUL DANIEL is the founder and senior pastor at Gateway Christian Family Church. Durbanville. candice@gatewaycfc.co.za

Gender Mainstreaming – The Attempt to Abolish Male and Female Distinctives

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” Gen 1:26-27.
Rearranging reality
Blue is for boys and pink is for girls – or so we thought. Earlier this year, Target, a chain store in the USA, announced a change in its stores: children’s toy and bedding sections would soon become gender-neutral. The retailer is removing dual ‘building sets’ and ‘girls’ building sets’ aisles. While this may seem surprising to us, for parents in Europe, the idea of gender-neutral parenting is nothing new.
What is gender mainstreaming?
In 1999, the European Union signed a legally-binding protocol to enforce member states to legislate public policies that remove references to male and female. Closely connected to the radical homosexual agenda and to the feminist movement, these policies have been called “gender mainstreaming” (GM).
Sweden and Switzerland
Sweden seems to be one of the biggest proponents of GM. Children are no longer referred to boys and girls at school, but rather by the gender-neutral term “friends”. In 2012, Sweden introduced a gender-neutral personal pronoun “hen” to the country’s vocabulary. A children’s clothing company in Sweden has done away with its designated boys’ and girls’ sections to become a gender-neutral outlet, and a toy catalogue in the same country featured a boy in a Spider-Man costume pushing a pink baby carriage. In Switzerland, parents of school children are no longer to be called mother or father, but “parent 1” and “parent 2”.
Unisex toilets and toys
In other public policy moves across Europe, separate toilets for males and females have been replaced with unisex toilets. Parents are being encouraged to allow their child to explore their gender identity, through cross-dressing and through playing with toys not normally considered appropriate for their sex.
Confusing children
Actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been praised by their fans for their apparent decision to support what is being perceived as their child’s exploration of her gender identity [or rather, confusion]. Pitt and Jolie’s 9-year-old biological daughter, Shiloh has reportedly asked to be called ‘John’ by their family and arrived at the Unbroken film premiere with a cropped haircut and wearing a tuxedo/tie combination. This typifies the promotion of gender-neutral parenting.
While those in support of gender-neutral parenting say this allows children to break free of gender stereotypes, other parents say that this makes children vulnerable to being teased by their peers and to being very confused about their identity.
Christian parents harassed
For Christians in Europe, especially Christian parents who do not want their children indoctrinated with homosexual, or gender mainstreaming, propaganda at school, this is yet another threat to religious freedom and a means for governments, radical homosexual and feminist groups to harass, or even prosecute, Christians who voice their opposition to such policies. Any opposition to “gender mainstreaming” is labelled as “homophobic”, “bigoted”, “narrow-minded” and “hateful.”
Anti-Gender Mainstreaming march in Germany disrupted 
When up to a thousand conservative Christ-ian parents at a rally in Stuttgart, Germany (1st February 2014) were protesting against a new gender-mainstreaming, “sexual diversity” curriculum in their schools, homosexual demonstrators blockaded the march, interrupted the rally speeches with heckling and assaulted the listeners, through shoving and throwing paint bombs and eggs. A poster that was against the homosexualising of children was set on fire by the rioters.
Parents’ God-given responsibility
God’s Word is clear. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and are created as either male or female. A parent’s God-given responsibility is to “train their child in the way he should go” and to bring them up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This includes affirming their God-given sexual identity and modelling Biblical roles of brother or sister, husband or wife, father or mother. 
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6
Gender-neutral Bible
The 2011 New International Version Bible raised concerns from many denominations, as it inserted gender-neutral pronouns such as “brother or sister”, “they” and “them”, instead of the classic “he” or “him” references.” References to God remain “Him”, “He” and “the Father.”
Some feminists are advocating for references to God as Father to be removed in church liturgy and even the Bible. This is in rebellion to God’s chosen revelation of Himself using male pronouns.
Where did the concept of “gender” come from?
In ‘Resist Gender Ideology! United Appeal from Three Branches of Christendom’, Professor Peter Beyerhaus explains, “The introduction of the concept of ‘gender’ goes back to New Zealand psychologist John Money (1921-2008). Based on an extremely dangerous experiment with small children, he claimed that it is not biological predisposition, but upbringing which defines the expression of gender roles, i.e. gender is determined by nurture not nature. 
While women’s rights movements had initially demanded only equal rights for women, since the “third wave” of the feminist movement in the early 1990s, it has, in addition, been about the social and functional equality of women in all spheres of life. GM activists endeavour to enforce the absolute equality of the sexes in all areas. In addition, they maintain there are not just two genders, but a variety.”
European Union legislation
“The term ‘gender-mainstreaming’ was first discussed in 1985 at the 3rd UN World Conference on Women in Nairobi. In 1997, the European Union declared GM as a mandatory task for its member states. In 1999, this was enshrined as legally binding.  Consequently, all EU member states laid down GM within their statutory guidelines. This means, first, that no differences in the treatment of people of both sexes may be made in all sectors of public life. The implications for all this are revolutionary.
Gender studies in academia
“Lesbian philosopher and professor at University of California, Berkeley, Judith Butler, is considered to be a pioneer thinker of gender ideology. In her opinion, because male and female, and marriage and parenting roles support patriarchy, these differences should be eliminated. Part of this for her, is the introduction of ‘gender-neutral language’. 
Within two decades, Judith Butler’s ideas have become regular curriculum subjects at many universities under the name ‘Gender Studies’.”
A war against patriarchy
Gender mainstreaming is serving to compound Hollywood’s war against the Biblical idea of patriarchy – that the husband is the head of his wife and the father is the leader of his home.
Radical homosexuals, feminists, and gender activists’ agenda to destroy the family and the image of God displayed through male and female, is ultimately a war against God Himself. Marriage is meant to be a picture of the Gospel – a husband laying his life down for his wife – just as Christ sacrificially gave up His life for His Bride – the Church.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” Eph 5:25-27.
Coming to a university near you!
According to information revealed to us by a University of Cape Town (UCT) Student Representative Council (SRC) leader, this year the SRC at UCT seriously discussed doing away with male and female bathrooms and even residences, and having a SRC cross-dressing day in order to promote a LGBTI-friendly campus! Homosexual indoctrination “sensitisation workshops” are proposed as part of the Orientation Week programme for new students.
Phillip Rosenthal of Christian View Network, has evaluated a new policy drafted for UCT. He says: “The UCT ‘Draft Sexualities Policy’ proposed by the UCT HIV/AIDS Inclusivity and Change Unit (HAICU) amongst other proposals: prohibits the use of ‘heteronormative language’ i.e. gender distinctive and pro-marriage words like male, female, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend in teaching, institutional communication and all publications by staff and students and requires ‘sensitivity training’ (i.e. brainwashing with political correctness) for academic staff and student leaders. Supporters boast that this is the ‘first’ South African university to consider such a policy, which implies they hope it will spread to other campuses.” 
According to a study by the University of Massachusetts, there are over 150 college campuses across the US that have set-up gender-neutral restrooms. Rosenthal explains: “Such policies force universities to decide gender by ‘self-identification’, for example, if a male says he is female, then he can get access to live in a female residence and share the same bathroom facilities and showers, etc – although it does allow for exceptional referral to co-ed residences.  Overseas, such policies have led directly to the sexual abuse of women – e.g. privacy invasion and sexual groping – and it is likely the same will happen at UCT.”
What you can do 
Such policies could be used to persecute Christians as was done earlier this year to the UCT SRC Vice-Chairperson Zizipho Pae. 
Christian students and parents should voice their concerns and objections to such policies to the Student Representative Council and Vice-Chancellor of your university. Email the Vice-Chancellor of UCT – Max Price at vc@uct.ac.za to urge rejection of the UCT ‘Draft Sexualities Policy’ and the disbanding of HAICU.
Gender mainstreaming and homosexual indoctrination and persecution of Christians is God’s judgement on nations whom He has “given over to their sinful hearts’ desires” Rom 1:24. Unless we repent, seek His Face (2 Chronicles 7:14) and by prayer and action resist this anti-family agenda, our children will be subjected to even greater anti-God indoctrination and persecution. 
TARYN HODGSON is the International Co-ordinator of the Christian Action Network, www.christianaction.org.za

A Spirit-Filled Christmas

It’s Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year! While we deck the halls, dress the trees and decorate with all things jolly to get into the spirit of Christmas, let’s make a special effort to pay attention to His Spirit. 
The Word of God describes the Holy Spirit as a precious treasure living within us. Being filled with the Spirit of God is the most wonderful gift of all and when we understand how to stay vitally connected to His voice of wisdom and truth, our lives will overflow with His supernatural purpose, peace and joy!
Recognise the gift of God’s Spirit
As born again, children of God, we have the most valuable gift of life, dwelling within us. Unless we choose to train our hearts and minds to become sensitive to His voice, we can go through our lives being dictated to by circumstances, depending on our own strength and wisdom. 
Attentive to the Spirit’s voice
I once read an article Gloria Copeland wrote, explaining the process of becoming sensitive to the Spirit of God inside of us. She used the analogy of tuning in to a radio station. 
When we want to listen to a particular radio station, all we need to do is turn a dial and tune in to that station. You see, that station is constantly transmitting its frequency, but we have to tune into the frequency to hear it clearly. Just the same, the Holy Spirit is alive inside of us, constantly speaking to and guiding us. We just need to know how to fine-tune our hearing to His voice. We tune in and out all the time, depending on what we give our attention to.   
Speaking to the Holy Spirit 
Now, there are many different ways to fine-tune our spirits to hear the Spirit of God, however, one of the fastest and most effective methods is to pray in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says, “For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding].”
When we pray in tongues, we are not praying according to our own thoughts or understanding, we are praying the Spirit of God’s. Now that truth alone makes my spirit leap with excitement! You see, the more you learn about the nature and character of the Lord, you realise how absolutely awesome He is. Besides being all powerful, He is full of love, goodness and hope. He is kind, gentle, merciful and compassionate. And He is for us! He loves spending time with us because He delights in us. 
He really is interested in every intimate detail of our lives. That has always touched my heart about our God – the way I feel His smile and unconditional love for me, every time I direct my thoughts to Him.
Silence every distracting thought
When we pray in tongues, we silence every other thought or frequency in our minds and spirits that would bring doubt and fear. It’s like plugging into a supernatural power source that floods us with hope, wisdom and strength. That’s because we are directly and vitally connected to the Spirit of God Himself! There is nothing that satisfies our spirits and souls more than that. It’s because praying in tongues is connecting with the Spirit of God, on His terms. 
Remember that His ways and thoughts are not ours, they are far superior because He is all knowing and all powerful. So whatever we need at the time we tune into His Spirit, is exactly what He fills us with. Sometimes it’s so light and refreshing, like a gentle breeze, brushing over our spirits, assuring us of His love and faithfulness. 
He is our Helper 
Other times it can be a clear thought that is spontaneously dropped into our minds that carries a powerful sense of urgency, filled with wisdom and purpose. There is no limit to how the Spirit of God makes Himself known to us as He deposits His truth inside of us. However, you can be certain that He will never bring fear or hopelessness. He is not the spirit of fear, He is love, and from the moment we surrendered our lives to Him, He gave us His Spirit of love, power and a sound mind! 
So let’s not spend the rest of our days ignoring that supernatural power house that lives inside of us! Let’s choose to constantly tune into Him, drawing from His Spirit as our vital necessity.
Exuding the Spirit of Christ
Can you imagine the blessing you will be to those around you, this Christmas, when you are constantly being filled with that powerful force of love that never fails, filling every part of your life and then flowing into the lives of others? Let’s make this a Christmas like no other, a Christmas filled with the Spirit of God Himself!  

ANDRE AND JENNY ROEBERT are the pastors and co-founders of River Ministries situated in East London, incorporating various ministries, each geared to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. See: myriver.com