Today marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi „Final Solution to the Jewish question.” Here are nine things you should know about the Nazi extermination camps:
1. Hitler’s official plan for genocide was developed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Fifteen Nazi leaders, which included a number of state secretaries, senior officials, party leaders, SS officers, and other leaders of government departments, held the meeting to discuss plans for a „final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.” (The Nazis used the euphemistic phrases „Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and „Final Solution” to refer to the genocide of the Jews.) In the course of the meeting, Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps.
2. The Nazis distinguished between extermination camps and concentration camps. The interchangeable terms extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) and death camp (Todeslager) refer to camps whose primary function was genocide. Unlike concentration camps, the Nazis did not expect the majority of prisoners taken to the extermination camps to survive more than a few hours after arrival. In the early years of the Holocaust, the Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps (where they would often die of torture and starvation), but from 1942 onwards they were mostly deported to the extermination camps.
3. Genocide at extermination camps was initially carried out in the form of mass shootings. However, the shootings proved to be too psychologically damaging to those being asked to pull the triggers. The Nazis next tried mass killing by blowing victims up with explosives, but that also was found unsuitable. The Nazis settled on gassing their victims (usually with carbon monoxide or a cyanide-based pesticide). Stationary gas chambers could kill 2,000 people at once. Once in the chambers, about one-third of the victims died immediately, though death could take up to 20 minutes.
4. The use of camps equipped with gas chambers for the purpose of systematic mass extermination of peoples was a unique feature of the Holocaust and unprecedented in history. Never before had there existed places with the express purpose of killing people en masse. These were extermination camps established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Chełmno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibor, and Treblinka. For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous extermination camps were in Occupied Poland, since Poland had the greatest number of Jews living in Europe.
5. At various concentration and extermination camps, the Nazis conducted medical experiments on their prisoners, which included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and various amputations and other surgeries that were often conducted without anesthesia. The most notorious of these Nazi physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. According to one witness, Mengele sewed together a set of twins named Guido and Ina, who were about 4 years old, from the back in an attempt to create Siamese twins. Their parents were able to get some morphine and kill them to end their suffering.
6. All the Nazis’ enemies imprisoned at Auschwitz were given special badges to mark them out: yellow stars for the Jews, a brown triangle for Roma (Gypsies), a pink triangle for gay prisoners, a purple triangle for Jehovah’s witnesses, a black triangle for people who were deemed „asocial elements” (mentally ill, pacifists, prostitutes), and many more marking out each minority.
7. About 200,000 inmates of the camp between 1940-45 survived. Out of a total of about 7,000 guards at Auschwitz, including 170 female staff, 750 were prosecuted and punished once Nazi Germany was defeated.
8. The most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed is six million — around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time. Additionally, the Nazis murdered approximately two to three million Soviet POWs, two million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals, and 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, bringing the total genocide toll to around 11 million.
9. The silent footage shown in this video is from film that was taken by a Soviet military film crew over a period of months beginning on January 27, 1945, the day that Auschwitz was liberated.
Excerpts from „Oswiecim” („Auschwitz”)
The silent footage shown in this video is from film that was taken by a Soviet military film crew over a period of months beginning on January 27, 1945, the day that Auschwitz was liberated.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on YouTube
Joe Carter for http://thegospelcoalition.org/
This week the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Baltimore, Maryland for its 156th annual meeting. Here are nine things you should know about America’s largest Protestant denomination.
1. The name Southern Baptist Convention refers to both the the annual two-day convention and the decentralized organization comprised of 46,034 autonomous, local churches and 15.9 million members.
2. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a network of autonomous churches voluntarily banded together at state, regional, and national levels to engage in missions and ministry activities designed to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Each church in the SBC is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers that makes their own decisions on staffing, budget, programs, etc.
3. In 1814, Baptist churches in the U.S. joined together to create the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination. By 1845 the churches were divided over the issue of slavery. As church historian Miles Mullin explains, southern Baptists desired to make slavery a non-issue, while abolitionist forces in the North (and among northern Baptists) desired the convention to take a moral stand against it. The following year group of representatives from Southern churches created a new denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.
4. In 1995, on the denomination’s 150th anniversary, the Convention voted to adopt a resolution on racial reconciliation that apologized for its racist roots, for condoning and perpetuating individual and systemic racism, and committed to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry. At its annual convention in 2012, the SBC elected as president Fred Luter Jr., the first African American to hold the position.
5. The SBC is directed by representatives of Southern Baptist churches, called messengers, who meet once a year for two days to adopt a unified missions and ministry budget called the Cooperative Program allocation budget, elect trustees to oversee the ministry entities of the Convention, receive reports from the SBC entities, and transact the business of the Convention.
6. The primary doctrinal statement for the SBC is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which outlines what the denomination believes about eighteen topics, including the Scripture, God, man, Jesus, salvation, baptism, and the church.
7. The principal means by which Southern Baptist churches fund their respective state convention ministries and the missions and ministries of the SBC is through the Cooperative Program (CP). Established in 1925, the CP depends upon the undesignated gifts given to it by Southern Baptist churches. By unifying the funding, the CP provides a workable way through which tens of thousands of like-minded churches can cooperate for the advancement and application of the gospel.
8. The SBC is comprised of the following entities: six seminaries; an International Mission Board, which sends and supports missionaries all over the world; an Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, providing resources and leadership on ethical issues; Guidestone Financial Resources providing financial planning, insurance, and annuities for church and denomination staff members; a North American Mission Board, supporting the state conventions in evangelism, missions, and ministry, such as disaster relief; the Women’s Missionary Union, which serves as an auxiliary in promoting missions; LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC publishing house; and anExecutive Committee coordinating the day-to-day functions of the SBC.
9. A name change was first proposed in 1903, though never adopted. In 2012, a task force was appointed to once again study a possible name change to reflect that the denomination was national and international, and no longer just „Southern.” The task force recommend the convention maintain its legal name but adopt an informal, non-legal name for those who want to use it: „Great Commission Baptists.”
JOE CARTER for The Gospel Coalition.org
27 may 2014 marked the 450th anniversary of the death of John Calvin. Here are nine things you should know about the French theologian and Reformer.
1. From an early age, Calvin was a precocious student who excelled at Latin and philosophy. He was prepared to go to study of theology in Paris, when his father decided he should become a lawyer. Calvin spend half a decade at the University of Orleans studying law, a subject he did not love.
2. Calvin wrote his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, at the age of 27 (though he updated the work and published new editions throughout his life). The work was intended as an elementary manual for those who wanted to know something about the evangelical faith—”the whole sum of godliness and whatever it is necessary to know about saving doctrine.”
3. Calvin initially had no interest in being a pastor. While headed to Strasbourg he made a detour in Geneva where he met the local church leader William Farel. Calvin said he was only staying one night, but Farel argued that it was God’s will he remain in the city and become a pastor. When Calvin protested that he was a scholar, not a preacher, Farel swore a great oath that God would curse all Calvin’s studies unless he stayed in Geneva. Calvin later said, „”I felt as if God from heaven had laid his mighty hand upon me to stop me in my course—and I was so terror stricken that I did not continue my journey.”
4. Calvin was a stepfather (he married a widow, Idelette, who had two children) but had no surviving children himself. His only son, Jacques, was born prematurely and survived only briefly. When his wife died he wrote to his friend, Viret:
I have been bereaved of the best friend of my life, of one who, if it has been so ordained, would willingly have shared not only my poverty but also my death. During her life she was the faithful helper of my ministry. From her I never experienced the slightest hindrance.
5. During his ministry in Geneva, Calvin preached over two thousand sermons. He preached twice on Sunday and almost every weekday. His sermons lasted more than an hour and he did not use notes.
6. Around 1553, Calvin began an epistolary relationship with Michael Servetus, a Spanish theologian and physician. Servetus wrote several works with anti-trinitarian views so Calvin sent him a copy of his Institutes as a reply. Servetus promptly returned it, thoroughly annotated with critical observations. Calvin wrote to Servetus, „I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity.” In time their correspondence grew more heated until Calvin ended it.
7. In the 1500s, denying the Trinity was a blasphemy that was considered worthy of death throughout Europe. Because he had written books denying the Trinity and denouncing paedobaptism, Servetus was condemned to death by the French Catholic Inquisition. Servetus escaped from prison in Vienne and fled to Italy, but stopped on the way in Geneva. After he attended a sermon by Calvin, Servetus was arrested by the city authorities. French Inquisitors asked that he be extradited to them for execution, but the officials in Geneva refused and brought him before their own heresy trial. Although Calvin believed Servetus deserving of death on account of what he termed as his „execrable blasphemies”, he wanted the Spaniard to be executed by decapitation as a traitor rather than by fire as a heretic. The Geneva council refused his request and burned Servetus at the stake with what was believed to be the last copy of his book chained to his leg.
8. Within Geneva, Calvin’s main concern was the creation of a collège, an institute for the education of children. Although the school was a single institution, it was divided into two parts: a grammar school called the collège and an advanced school called the académie. Within five years there were 1,200 students in the grammar school and 300 in the advanced school. The collège eventually became the Collège Calvin, one of the college preparatory schools of Geneva, while the académie became the University of Geneva.
9. Calvin worked himself nearly to death. As Christian History notes, when he could not walk the couple of hundred yards to church, he was carried in a chair to preach. When the doctor forbade him to go out in the winter air to the lecture room, he crowded the audience into his bedroom and gave lectures there. To those who would urge him to rest, he asked, „What? Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?”
By JOE CARTER for The Gospel Coalition Blog
Darren’s Aronofksy’s new film Noah, which opens in theaters tomorrow, has been criticized for not being faithful o the biblical narrative. But how much of the story do most people remember? Here are nine things you should know about the story of Noah:
1. The story of Noah is told is chiastic parallelism (or chiasmus), a figure of speech in which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. If you assign the letters A and B to the first appearance of the key words or phrases and A’ and B’ to their subsequent appearance, they follow what is commonly referred to as an A-B-B-A pattern.
A chiasm in the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6.10-9.19):
A Noah (10a)
B Shem, Ham, and Japheth (10b)
C Ark to be built (14-16)
D Flood announced (17)
E Covenant with Noah (18-20)
F Food in the Ark (21)
G Command to enter the Ark (7.1-3)
H 7 days waiting for flood (4-5)
I 7 days waiting for flood (7-10)
J Entry to ark (11-15)
K Yahweh shuts Noah in (16)
L 40 days flood (17a)
M Waters increase (17b-18)
N Mountains covered (18-20)
O 150 days waters prevail (21-24)
P GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8.1)
O’ 150 days waters abate (3)
N’ Mountain tops become visible (4-5)
M’ Waters abate (6)
L’ 40 days (end of) (6a)
K’ Noah opens window of ark (6b)
J’ Raven and dove leave ark (7-9)
I’ 7 days waiting for waters to subside (10-11)
H’ 7 days waiting for waters to subside (12-13)
G’ Command to leave the ark (15-17)
F’ Food outside the ark (9.1-4)
E’ Covenant with all flesh (8-10)
D’ No flood in future (11-17)
C’ Ark (18a)
B’ Shem, Ham, Japheth (18b)
A’ Noah (19)
2. Based on 18 inches to a cubit, the total cubic volume of Noah’s ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or to 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 – 5 sq ft per animal), it’s estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals.
3. From Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. A raven will fly directly toward land, so it’s line of flight can be used as a guide. Doves have a limited ability for sustained flight, so they can be used to determine the location of a landing site. As long as the dove returns, no landing site is in close range.
4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. Noah’s first recorded act on leaving the ark is building an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20).
5. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.
6. Noah became the first drunk recorded in Scripture, resulting in immoral behavior and family troubles (Genesis 9:20-26).
7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses his grandson Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japeth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening.
8. At 950 years of age, Noah had the third longest life recorded in the Bible (after Methuselah (969) and Jared (962)).
9. Besides the book of Genesis, Noah is also mentioned in eight other books of the Bible (1st Chronicles 1:4, Isaiah 54:9, Ezekiel 14:14; 20, Matthew 24:37-38, Luke 3:36, 17:26-27, Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5) as well as in the Book of Enoch (10:1-3) and the Qur’an (Sura 71).
Fiindcă astăzi este Ziua independenței (SUA) m-am gândit că ar fi util să știm mai multe despre contextul semnării acestui document și modul în care ziua de 4 iulie a a ajuns să fie asociată Declarațieie de Independență și declarată ca zi de sărbătoare.
Articol scris de JOE CARTER pentru http://thegospelcoalition.org
July 4, 2013 will be America’s 237th Independence Day, the day Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. Here are nine things you should know about America’s founding document and the day set aside for its commemoration.
1. July 4, 1776 is the day that wecelebrate Independence Day even though it wasn’t the day the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776), the day we started the American Revolution (that had happened back in April 1775), the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain (that didn’t happen until November 1776), or the date it was signed (that was August 2, 1776).
2. The first Independence Day was celebrated on July 8, 1776 (although the Declaration was approved on July 4, 1776, it was not made public until July 8), but for the first two decades after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.
3. After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1938 and 1941
4. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston comprised the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration. Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer, wrote most of the document. After Jefferson wrote his first draft, the other members of the Declaration committee and the Continental Congress made 86 changes, including shortening the overall length by more than a fourth and removing language condemning the British promotion of the slave trade (which Jefferson had included even though he himself was a slave owner).
5. The signed copy of the Declaration is the official, but not the original, document. The approved Declaration was printed on July 5th and a copy was attached to the „rough journal of the Continental Congress for July 4th.” These printed copies, bearing only the names of John Hancock, President, and Charles Thomson, secretary, were distributed to state assemblies, conventions, committees of safety, and commanding officers of the Continental troops. On July 19th, Congress ordered that the Declaration be engrossed on parchment with a new title, „the unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America,” and „that the same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress.” Engrossing is the process of copying an official document in a large hand.
6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only two presidents to sign the document, both died on the Fourth of July in 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration. Adam’s last words have been reported as „Thomas Jefferson survives.” He did not know that Jefferson had died only a few hours before. James Monroe, the last president who was a Founding Father, also died on July 4 in 1831. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.
7. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress at the time, was the first and only person to sign the Declaration on July 4, 1776 (he signed it in the presence of just one man, Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress). According to legend, the founding father signed his name bigger than everyone else’s because he wanted to make sure „fat old King George” could read it without his spectacles. But the truth is that Hancock had a large blank space and didn’t realize the other men would write their names smaller. Today, the term „John Hancock” has become synonymous with a person’s signature.
8. The 56 signers of the Declaration did not sign on July 4, 1776, nor were they in the same room at the same time on the original Independence Day. The official signing event took place on August 2, 1776 when 50 men signed the document. Several months passed before all 56 signatures were in place. The last man to sign, Thomas McKean, did so in January of 1777, seven months after the document was approved by Congress. Robert R. Livingston, one of the five original drafters, never signed it at all since he believed it was too soon to declare independence.
9. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which makes no reference to God, the Declaration has three references to a deity. The document also makes two references that tie natural law to God. (Although Thomas Jefferson was a Deist, as a young apprentice lawyer he had studied the work of Henry de Bracton, an English jurist and natural law proponent. Bracton has been referred to as the „father of common law” and is said to have „succeeded in formulating a truly Christian philosophy of law”).
World population (est.): 7,061,314,509
Resident population of the United States (est.): 315,067,051
In America there is:
– One birth every: 8 seconds
– One death every: 12 seconds
– One abortion every: 26 seconds
– One international migrant (net) every: 40 seconds
– Net gain of one person every: 17 seconds
America’s outstanding public debt (est.):$16,348,868,007,556.33
America’s outstanding consumer debt (est.):$11,380,000,000,000
Average credit card debt per U.S. household: $15,418
Average mortgage debt per U.S. household: $149,782
Average student loan debt per U.S. household: $34,703
Median household income: $50,054
Number of Americans with income below the official poverty rate: 46,200,000
Number of abortions in America (est.): 1,200,000
Number of adoptions in America (est.): 136,000
Number of states that allow physician-assisted suicide: 3
Number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage: 9
Number of Christians that were persecuted for their faith around the world (est.):200,000,000
Percentage of Americans who identify as Christian: 78.4
Percentage of Americans who identify as Evangelical: 26.3
Percent of American adults that self-identify as very or moderately religious: 69
Median salary of a megachurch pastor: $120,000
Percent of churchgoers that have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months: 61
Percent of churchgoers that say they rarely or never pray for the spiritual status of others: 21
Number of evangelical organizations that are challenging the Obama administration’s contraceptive-abortifacient mandate: 8
Percentage of American adults who purchased one or more books: 71
Number of pornographic titles on Amazon’s top-ten best selling book list: 4
Number of spiritual/religious titles on Amazon’s top-ten best selling book list: 0
Number of languages spoken in the world (est.): 6,800
Number of languages without any of the Bible translated: under 2,000
Number of people living in an indigenous community without adequate numbers of Christians and resources to evangelize the group: 2,886,148,000