News and Views

PBI News

Date of Annual PBI Meeting

The annual meeting of PBI Members and Directors will be held on Friday, July 18, at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The General Convention of Bible Students will begin on Saturday, July 19, at the same location and end the evening of July 24. Those who are interested in the Pastoral Bible Institute, whether members or not, are encouraged to attend this meeting. Contact the Institute's secretary for details concerning accommodations.

New Booklet

We are pleased to announce a small book What Everyone Should Know About Being Saved, produced by our Bible Student friends in Oakland County [Michigan]. It contains a thorough presentation of this important doctrine and concludes that just saying the right words is not enough. Order it by filling out the form on the back of the insert found in each issue of this magazine sent to subscribers. Alternatively the text may be downloaded from our web site at Click on “Bookstore.” It is the last title in the list.

World News


Touched off by the plan to have the Miss World contest in Nigeria, more than 200 people were killed in riots. In the last three years, more than 10,000 lives have been lost in conflicts there between Christians and Muslims. Fundamental shifts are taking place in Nigeria, the fifth largest supplier of oil to the U.S. and home to Africa's largest population. Nigeria is almost evenly split between Muslims, mostly in the North, and non-Muslims. After one of the most brutal and corrupt military regimes in Nigerian history came to an end in 1999, the country elected Olusegun Obasanjo president. His election was seen as a new era in Nigeria. However, he has been unable to manage the growing tensions within the country. Once awash in oil earnings, corruption has robbed the country blind. Nigerian per capita GNP has declined from $750 in 1982 to less than $250 today. Foreign debt stands at $30 billion. State governors in the North have been introducing Islam sharia criminal law. The historic fault line between Islam and Christianity has shifted and become more fluid, more dangerous. American evangelical organizations who funnel money to Nigerian Christian radio stations are seen as contributing to what is one of the most explosive factors in religious tension—proselytization.

—Wall Street Journal, 11/27/2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, whose credibility and stewardship as archbishop of Boston were irrevocably damaged by how he handled the clergy sex abuse crisis, became the highest-ranking American Catholic leader to lose his job because of scandal. Now that the scandal has resulted in the downfall of the nation's senior prelate, the American bishops recognize that the crisis in the church may only grow as laypeople and priests, lawyers and judges, see the power they can have. Church experts say they cannot recall another instance in which a bishop resigned after a virtual revolt from his parishioners and his priests. Five other bishops, former associates of Cardinal Law who once worked in Boston and were eventually promoted, have now been subpoenaed to testify by a grand jury in Massachusetts. “I think we're seeing just the beginning of serious interest by the government in criminal investigations,” said Seth Taube, a lawyer who has defended the church in the abuse claims. Grand juries are investigating the church in at least nine states.

—New York Times, 12/15/2002

Tighter security around churches in Pakistan has failed to prevent a fatal attack at a Christmas Day service. Three worshippers were killed and up to eight more injured when masked men threw hand grenades into a Presbyterian Church in a village in Pakistan's central Punjab province. A Pakistan Interior ministry spokesman called it an act of terrorism. News of the attack came despite greater efforts to protect Christians in Pakistan. This year around 50 people have been killed in attacks on western, or Christian targets in Pakistan.

—ABC Radio Australia News, 12/26/2002

Approximately 142,000 Christians live in Israel, or 2.1 percent of the general population, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced. Approximately 81% are Christian Arabs. The rest immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return. A few thousand arrived during the waves of Aliyah in the Seventies and Eighties from Romania and Poland. Most arrived in the wave of Aliyah in the Nineties from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

—Jerusalem Post, 12/25/2002

The Book of Mormon, made public by Joseph Smith in 1830, is taken literally by the faithful. It teaches, among other things, that many American Indians are descendants of ancient Israelites who came to this continent 600 years before Christ—a time period within the reach of modern archeology and genetics. Anthropologist Thomas W. Murphy set out to test that key principle of his Mormon faith with the latest technology. He wondered: Would DNA analysis show that many American Indians are descended from ancient Israelites? His finding: negative. The result: excommunication—if a church disciplinary panel finds him guilty of apostasy. The church hierarchy has repeatedly warred with historians, anthropologists and others who have questioned its doctrines. Murphy appears to be the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to face expulsion for genetic research.

—Los Angeles Times, 12/8/2002

[In fact the disciplinary hearing was indefinitely postponed. The next day a church spokesman said it was “best not to proceed at this time” against Thomas Murphy.]


Thieves are stealing water from rivers and public waterways and selling the precious liquid to hard-up Australian farmers struggling against one of the worst droughts in a century. Queensland state Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson said his department was investigating 146 complaints and would prosecute anybody found to be taking more water than they are allowed to or anyone profiting from the hardship of farmers. The farmlands of this vast food exporting nation have been devastated by a severe drought that has halved the winter wheat crop since it took root in March and now threatens to prevent planting of the summer sorghum crop. Exacerbated by a return of the periodic El Niņo weather event, which every few years brings reduced rainfall to eastern Australia and downpours to western South America, weather forecasters say the drought is likely to last through into 2003.

—Reuters, 11/26/2002

Ice in the Arctic Ocean and on Greenland's massive icecap shrank to record levels this summer, providing more evidence that global warming is causing unprecedented environmental change that is alarming seasoned climate watchers. The dramatic loss of ice in the Arctic Ocean and Greenland, coupled with other new work showing the rise of trees and shrubs across once-barren Arctic tundra lands, “presents a compelling case that something is changing very rapidly over a wide area,” said Larry Hinzman, an expert in Arctic change at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

—Los Angeles Times, 12/8/2002


The Yongbyon Nuclear Center, the focus of an escalating confrontation between North Korea and the United States, is one of the most guarded places in one of the world's most isolated countries. North Korea says the complex was built to generate badly needed electricity. U.S. officials say the site is a nuclear weapons facility with a peaceful cover, and a tool of nuclear blackmail. Nuclear activity began at Yongbyon in 1965 when the former Soviet Union helped build a tiny research reactor there. Russian and U.S. satellite photographs show the site since has grown steadily into a 10-square mile complex. The site now includes a 5-megawatt reactor and an unfinished 50-megawatt reactor, facilities for fuel manufacture and waste storage, and a radio-chemical laboratory that can reprocess spent fuel rods to extract plutonium, a material used to build bombs. North Korea says it will restart the 192-yard-long laboratory to store spent fuel rods from reactors. It plans to resume construction on the unfinished 50-megawatt reactor west of Yongbyon.

—Associated Press, 12/30/2002

Ethiopia faces a famine two to three times as bad as the food shortages of the 1980s, which prompted an international relief effort, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said. Six million people already need food aid and the number may rise to 15 million early next year if international donors don’t come to the country's assistance, said Meles, speaking on BBC Radio. “It's like going through recurring nightmares. In the disaster we had in 1984-85, the number of people involved was roughly a third to half the people involved now. The Ethiopian government is already barely able to keep its people alive, let alone supply adequate food, and can't afford to buy extra stocks,” Meles said. “There is no possibility for us to deal with this problem. Even if we had the food available in the domestic market, the government doesn't have the money to buy surplus food for distribution.”

—Bloomberg News, 11/11/2002

Lawlessness has plagued Indonesia since 1998 when the military dictatorship of President Suharto collapsed. Despite Indonesians’ desire for democracy, disorder has reigned. The country of 231 million people has suffered from chronic corruption, feeble leadership, and ineffective law enforcement. The military finances most of its activities through a business empire that operates inside and outside the law. Its enterprises include hotels, oil refineries, and insurance. They also include drug dealing, gambling, prostitution and illegal logging. The police, independent of the military only in recent years, are widely perceived to be as corrupt as the army. In the courts, justice is for sale. ... Indonesia has the world's highest Muslim population.

—Los Angeles Times, 12/10/2002


Ronald Noble, the American who heads Interpol, recently said that al-Qaida is unscathed by the U.S.-led war on terror's finances. Al-Quaida gets between $20 million and $50 million a year, according to a June 2002 study by University of Linz professor Friedrich Schneider. His study outlines sources of terror money for 25 groups, including al-Qaida: Transporting drugs, 30-35%; donations from governments, wealthy individuals or religious groups, 25-30%; crime, 10-15%; illegal diamond trading, 10-15%, miscellaneous, 5-25%. Editor of the Malaysia-based World Money Laundering Report, Nigel Morris-Cotterill, says, “Terrorists can do business in anything with tradable value. The U.S. has not accepted that a boatload of light bulbs is money. If they're exchanged for weapons, the arms merchant can sell them.” In August 2002, a U.N. panel said al-Qaida is flush with money from charities and businesses. Rachel Ehrenfeld of the Center for the Study of Corruption and the Rule of Law found that “Saudi Arabia is a major source of terror funding. The Saudis have been using the money we pay for their oil to fund international terrorism.”

—Investors’ Business Daily, 11/26/2002

Major U.S. stock indexes fell in 2002, their third straight calendar year decline. The last time the market dropped for three consecutive years was 1939-41, during the early years of World War II. The market fell four straight years in 1929-32 at the start of the Great Depression.

—Los Angeles Times, 1/1/2003

As the world economy struggles to exit a downturn, the prospect of a sustained rise in oil prices is coming at the worst possible time for some of the least resilient regions, threatening to crimp already fragile growth. Fears of military conflict in Iraq and a waning supply of oil to the United States from Venezuela have pushed the price of a barrel of crude to around $30—up more than 40 percent from a year ago. Barring an unforeseen and peaceful resolution of the standoff over Iraq, most analysts expect prices to remain above the range of $22 to $28 a barrel favored by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for at least the next few months. In Asia, higher oil prices would sting Japan, which imports all of its oil, at a time when policymakers are struggling to dig the economy out from a long recession and to eliminate a mountain of bad debt at the nation’s banks.

—International Herald Tribune, 1/3/2003


        2,792            People killed in the 9/11/2001 World Trade Center attacks.

Over 400             Israelis who died in terrorist attacks in 2002.

—TIME, 12/31/2002

Palestinian TV is broadcasting a series of documentaries with one single objective: to disprove the “myth” that any Jewish Temple ever stood in Jerusalem, and to present any historical reference to that claim as an act of deception. The message is that the Jews have no business in the Holy City. The inevitable conclusion is that significant numbers, though by no means all, of the young generation of Arab artists, a stratum that usually represents liberal trends and openness, have volunteered their services to sharpen and stylize the message; that up until now has been promoted by fundamentalist movements such as Hamas. The essence of the message is that there is no possibility of making peace with the Jews—not because of any political argument or clash over territory, but because that nation is a priori unfit to be counted among the human race. The Jewish religion is one big, ongoing lie, and Jewish history is the fruit of a consistent distortion of the past. Furthermore, the Jewish people present a future threat to the rest of the world. Where is this campaign leading? It is a far-reaching, dangerous rationale laying the ground for the justification of a mass exile of Jews from Israel—”ethnic cleansing” in contemporary terms.

—The Jerusalem Report, 12/16/2002

Suicide bombing is more than a particularly vicious method of killing. Suicide bombing is a best effort to produce a Final Solution. The suicide bombers of September 11, emulating their Nazi role models, even created a makeshift oven to incinerate 3,000 people. If they could have killed 100,000 or 1 million, they would have done so gladly. The same is true of all suicide bombers, particularly those who daily attack Israelis. Suicide bombers kill and maim dozens at a time, with but one regret: that their victims are so few. What they truly strive to bring about is a Holocaust. They come as close to that end as their means will allow.

—Editorial by Steven Zak,
Washington Times, 12/04/2002

Evidence is growing that a British boycott of Israeli academics is gathering pace. British academics have delivered a series of snubs to their Israeli counterparts since the idea of a boycott first gained ground in the spring. In interviews with the Guardian, British and Israeli academics listed various incidents in which visits, research projects and publication of articles have been blocked. Colin Blakemore, an Oxford University professor of physiology, who supports a boycott, said: “I do not know of any British academic who has been to a conference in Israel in the last six months.” The issue of a boycott was highlighted in the spring when two British academics, Steven and Hilary Rose, had a letter published in the Guardian supporting the idea. It was signed by 123 other academics.

—The Guardian, 12/12/2002

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been invited to jointly sponsor an international conference on the recent upsurge of anti-Semitism. The conference will be held in May at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. “Not since the end of the Second World War has there been such a campaign of vilification directed against Israel and her supporters worldwide,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean of the Center.

—Arutz 7, 12/22/2002

New archaeological findings from the Bar Kokhba period, over 1,850 years ago, were discovered in a cave in the Ein Gedi Nature Preserve just west of the Dead Sea. Two documents written on papyrus, coins, and even remnants of fruits were among the artifacts found in hard-to-reach caves atop mountain cliffs—the destination of choice for many Jewish refugees from the Romans at the time. The documents are now in the Israel Museum, where they must be carefully opened and analyzed. Dr. Tzvika Tzuk, Chief Archaeologist of the Nature and Park Authority, said that the caves served as refuge for the fleeing Jews, “as indicated by what we found there, especially the coins on which we found the name Shimon, who was the leader of the rebellion at the time.”

—Arutz 7, 11/20/2002

The Israeli government is weighing whether to allow a team of Jordanian engineers to repair a worrisome bulge along the southern wall of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The Jordanians made a series of recommendations in November following their inspection of the bulge. The Jordanian team recommends dismantling some 1,500 square feet of wall at the center of the bulge, reinforcing the area with new building materials, and then recovering the area with stone. The decision to allow the inspection ended a year-long standoff between Israel, which has nominal control over the Temple Mount, and the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that has de facto control over the Temple Mount esplanade, home of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. Neither party would allow the other to make needed repairs to the bulge for fear of seeming to relinquish control over the Mount. Jordan, which ruled the Old City of Jerusalem until the war of 1967, was a compromise. Just as Israel and the Waqf could not agree on who should repair the bulge, neither did they agree on the cause of the bulge. The Waqf blamed Israeli excavations outside the southern wall carried out in the decades after the 1967 war. A more likely cause, however, as many Israeli archaeologists have claimed, is the extensive construction work undertaken by the Waqf in recent years in the southeast quadrant of the Temple Mount in connection with a large-scale expansion of an underground mosque in the area.

—Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2003