‘Halal Controversy’

Letter to the Editor -

Call me old fashioned or even a ‘fuddy duddy’ but I just feel awkward buying food items with Islamic symbols on them.  I understand that ‘these symbols’ appear so that Muslims shoppers don’t buy products that are contrary to their religious beliefs.  Surely supermarket chains could make space available to place Islamic products in a separate area?  After all, Muslims make up less than 2% of the Australian population.

As a Christian I must admit, I am disappointed the ‘Christian community’ was not consulted prior to the introduction of these Islamic product disclosures.  After all, in the Christian faith we Christians are not permitted to eat anything that has been offered to an idol.  I know that there are many moves in Australia toward inclusiveness when it comes to ‘faith communities’ and I too welcome unity; but at what cost?  

Which faith or faiths must compromise their beliefs that opposing beliefs can be accommodated?

At present it appears that it’s the Christian faith which is being expected to yield and possibly because we are not so militant in our actions as other groups.  Many Australian’s mistakenly think that Allah and the Christian God are the same ‘being’.  This is certainly not correct.  The Christian God insists He has one begotten son.  We know Him to be Jesus Christ.  The Islamic God ‘Allah’ insists he has no son.  Although the Quran speaks of Esa or Isa (Jesus) more than any other person, it also emphasises that Esa (Jesus) is not the son of Allah, only a prophet.

Consequently we appear to have two different gods.  Even recent developments in Malaysia have seen their court system confirming that Christians in that country must not call the Christian God, ‘Allah’!  

From the Christian perspective, ‘Allah’ is therefore an idol and the Bible insists we Christians must serve no other God except the one true God, nor should we eat food that we know has been offered to an idol.  Food only becomes ‘halal’ when offered in prayer to ‘Allah’.

I hope and pray the authorities can resolve this dilemma quickly, for unwittingly, Australian halal certification of food is forcing Christians here to eat foods in contradiction to biblical instruction.  I understand the temptations companies’ face, for the financial rewards for certifying their products ‘halal’ is significant.  

But surely there must be a way around this growing problem?  Surely Australian Christian consumers have an entitlement to eat food that meets their religious standards as well?

I suspect the problem surrounding food labelling is going to become a much bigger issue in the days ahead.

Jim Seymour, Pastor - Tenterfield Presbyterian Family


I WRITE IN RESPONSE TO LAST WEEK’S LETTER FROM Pastor Jim Seymour.  I am not a theologian and it is probably fool hardy of me to tackle him on the topic but… The kernel of his argument appears to be that halal food is food that has been offered to an idol and therefore Christians are forbidden from consuming it.

That assertion is based, I assume, on one verse in the New Testament book of Acts – Chapter 21, verse 25.  That and preceding verses deal with a debate that was going on in the very early days of Christianity as to how to differentiate between gentiles who were joining the “church” and the initial Jewish adherents.  Verse 25 set out the simple ceremonial requirements for gentiles – “.. save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.” (From the King James version)

Some regard must be had to the times.  St Paul died about 67 AD and during his lifetime the practice in his part of the Roman Empire, was that most meat bought at the market was pre-cooked and during that process was dedicated to, what was considered by Christians, some pagan god or other.  Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 10:27-28 that dedicated meat should only be banned if the believer knew it was dedicated.  The purpose of the ban was to show publically that they – Christians – did not worship idols.  (An early example of a consumer boycott it seems.)  It was not because dedicated meat was supernaturally harmful.

Surely in this day and age a Christian concerned that they might be seen as worshipping idols, can get the message across that they in fact, don’t without having to be worried about the provenance of their meat.  At the time this edict was published, Christians were a struggling minority doing their best to differentiate themselves.  2000 years later I think that (they) have managed to achieve that.  In any event, my understanding is that Christians tend to say grace or otherwise bless their food before they eat it.  One might think that if their god is the all powerful and one true god, his blessing would trump any earlier dedication to Allah or to any other entity.

David Stewart, Tenterfield                                    (Please note - This is ‘not’ David Stewart from the RSL)

                                        Jim Seymour’s response to David Stewart’s letter …….

Letter to the Editor:

Congratulations to David Stewart of Tenterfield who responded to my letter on ‘halal food’ last week.  Your argument appeared ‘theologically sound’ to me.  I think you sell yourself short when it comes to Biblical knowledge!

Yes it’s true, The Apostle Paul encourages all Christians in 1Timothy 4 verses 3-4 ‘that no food should be refused’ when received with thanksgiving.  Many people call that, ‘saying grace to the Lord Jesus (God) before eating a meal.’  And it appears the strength of Paul’s argument comes from  1 Corinthians 8 verse 4, where he declares that ‘an idol is nothing in this world.’  In other words, an idol is just something that ‘man’ has made up.  Consequently it has no power at all!

So I accept your implied point that Islam’s Allah is simply ‘a made up god’ and has no power at all.  

Yet with the ‘rise and rise’ of jihadist Islamists around the world; men and women prepared to kill and be killed to advance the interests of their god ‘Allah’; anyone with common sense would have to agree that there’s something powerful and evil supporting this ideology?

Some commentators believe it’s the hand of Satan.  When I see what these jihadist’s do in the name of their god, I’m persuaded to believe the same!  So where does that leave ‘passive Muslim believers’?  Terrible ashamed I suspect!   Every day we hear about Australian Muslims ‘disowning these terrorist groups’.

My prayer is that they distance themselves so far, that they begin to embrace the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so my original letter had two purposes.

Firstly to give leadership to Christians, new or weak in the faith, that the ‘Church’ remains alive and active in our community!   The Apostle Paul directs mature Christians (1 Corinthians 8 v 7 & 11 & 12) not to act as stumbling blocks to those who are weak in the faith.  He told us not to be seen sitting and eating in an idol’s temple, for those who are weak in the faith might be ‘emboldened’ to practice the same example.

Unintentionally, the actions of mature Christians may become the catalyst for a ‘weak’ brother in the faith to run off course and perish.

The words of the Apostle Paul don’t only apply to first century Christians.  The word of God has been preserved so that all generations might see the light and glean knowledge of the truth.  

My concern is that virtually all our food in Australia is now branded as having been offered to an idol.  Consequently, we might rightly presume that the entire nation, albeit unconsciously, appears to be slipping under the shadow of an ‘idol’s temple’.  

If we Christian’s believe that the branding of foods as ‘halal’ is the final step forward in ‘Islam’s march’, and there’s nothing more to be concerned about, then I suspect we’re kidding ourselves!

For mature Christians (who know full well that there is ‘no strength’ in an idol and that entrance to the Kingdom of God does not depend upon food and drink but upon righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost); to say nothing about this sudden development in our nation, I believe ‘wounds’ the consciences of new, weak and future brothers and sisters in the faith.  Indeed it is as Paul writes, ‘a sin against Christ!’

This leads me to my second reason for writing the letter.

In 2 Thessalonians 2 we read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church.  ‘Let no man deceive you by any means: the day of Jesus Christ (and our gathering together unto him) shall not come except there is a falling away first, and that man of sin, the one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, is revealed.  Don’t be troubled.  Now you know what restrains him until his appointed time.  Iniquity is already at work in the world but when ‘He’ who presently restricts his evil plans is removed, then shall the wicked one be fully revealed.’   

The reference to ‘He’ is most certainly God the Holy Spirit indwelling ‘believers in Jesus Christ’.  We are called ‘the church’.  The presence of ‘the church’ restricts the advancement of the work of the ‘anti-christ’.   But after ‘the church’ is removed from the earth in the days ahead, nothing will stop Satan until the day Christ returns, ‘and consumes him with the brightness of His coming!’

With this prophetic word in mind, it seems to me ‘the Christian voice’ is fast becoming the most important voice in Australia.  When we understand that the only root word in Arabic for ‘Islam’ is ‘al-silm’ meaning ‘submission’ or ‘surrender’ then it’s important for Muslims living in Australia to know that Christian Australia will never surrender by way of treaty or ‘dhimma’ to Muslim domination.  

And so until the day the Lord Jesus takes ‘His church’ home to glory, ‘the church’ must continue being ‘the light to the world’ and ‘the salt of the earth’ pointing out the advancement of ‘idol worship’ when it occurs whilst at the same time introducing people everywhere to the saviour, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

In my mind, this begins with proclaiming, ‘Christians ought not to eat food sacrificed to idols’ which is exactly what ‘halal food’ is.  It ends with the proclamation to every Australian Muslim that it is folly to think non-muslim Australia is already beginning to submit and surrender to the gradualisation of Islamic ‘dhimmatude’.  

I’m still waiting for a response from ‘Food Standards Australia New Zealand’ to my original letter of concern.

Jim Seymour / Pastor, Tenterfield Presbyterian Family.

Pope mania a knockout?

With the Pope’s recent visit to the Americas it appears the popularity of Pope Francis has now reached ‘pop star’ status.  Not only Catholics, but Christians in general plus the world’s most powerful politician as well as representatives of ‘most religious faiths’ have all paid homage to this charismatic religious leader.  

Indeed the favourable coverage of his visit appears to be somewhat of a peace offering by the world’s media toward ‘the Vatican’ and Catholicism in general.   

I have just finished reading every word of the Pope’s address on the 25th September 2015 to the United Nations General Assembly.  My hope soon turned sour!  If ever a man lived capable of galvanising the world under God and hastening the second coming of Christ, surely Pope Francis would be that candidate!  

Yet with the world hanging on his every word, not once did he mention the ‘Prince of Peace’, the Lord Jesus Christ!  Yes, he spoke of the creator, creation and God Almighty but found no space is his speech to honour ‘the hope of the Church worldwide’ and ‘the saviour of mankind’, Jesus the son of God!

Yet Pope Francis did find time to encourage member nations to adopt the United Nations ‘Agenda 2030’, a manifesto that holds supreme the concept of ‘sustainable development’ as earth’s pathway to peace and its only hope for survival!  In fact Pope Francis emphasised, “any assault on ‘the environment’ was an ‘attack on humanity’ as a whole”!

With the Catholic world trusting their Pope to be God’s representative on earth, has he betrayed them by elevating ‘Agenda 2030’ above the authority of God’s inspired word, our Bible?  Instead of preaching ‘Christ’s birth bringing glory to God, peace on earth and good will toward men’, it appears he now endorses ‘sustainable development’ as the only bearer of peace!

If anyone should know ‘the will of God’ surely it must be the Pope?  Surely he is charged with proclaiming ‘God’s will be done’, not mans?  Yet he failed to champion the words of Jesus; ‘My peace I give to you.  My peace is not the peace that the world gives. Therefore, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’  

By giving his blessing to ‘Agenda 2030’ (a document I have read every word of); has the Pope inadvertently legitimised a new world religion?  ‘The environment’ becomes ‘a pagan god’ and worship is enforced through ‘sustainable development’ legislation.  

Every human being would like to live in a clean and healthy environment but why link world peace to saving ‘the environment’?  Surely common sense says, ‘world peace is intrinsically linked to the condition of the heart’?  

The strength of the Christian religion is the spiritual transformation of the heart!  When God calls, a believer embraces Jesus Christ by faith and the Holy Spirit brings peace beyond description to that heart.  This supernatural inner peace ‘wills’ us to love our neighbours and trumps every noble sentiment of international human rights!  

No legislation on earth can engineer world peace.  Men convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still!  But without faith, hope disappears and men are easily enslaved!

I believe ratification of ‘Agenda 2030’ by our Federal Parliament would establish a new religion by stealth, grow disciples via education and enshrine ‘the environment’ sacrosanct as Australia’s prevailing ‘god’.  This action would breach Section 116 of our Constitution and should be strenuously resisted by all Australians.  If necessary it should be challenged in the High Court of Australia!

There are many ways to manage and care for the environment but to surrender our souls to ‘Agenda 2030’ is not one of them!  Christians proclaim only Jesus as creator and sustainer of the universe.  As with the ‘Sabbath Day’, Jesus created ‘the environment’ for mankind’s benefit, not the other way round!  

It is to Jesus we must bow our knee, not a government sponsored religion such as ‘Agenda 2030’!

Pastor Jim Seymour / Tenterfield Presbyterian Church / www.tp4c.org.au


River of Life article:  Letter Referred to in ‘Marriage Equality youtube video’

- the Letter rejected by the Tenterfield Star Newspaper.   “Who makes a Christian?”

In our world today with so many voices yelling ‘there is no god’, ‘there is no salvation’ and ‘there is no hope beyond the grave’ allow me to share two recent stories of how God continues to draw men and women to Himself.  

For me personally I thank the Lord that both stories humble me and set me in awe of the power and magnitude of the saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray both stories will encourage you to either stay strong in Jesus or to seek His amazing grace.   

Story One:  Mary (not her real name) has recently come into Debra’s and my life.  She has had no Christian upbringing and owned no concept of the gospel message nor has she ever contemplated the reality of God’s existence.

But God brought her from the other side of the world to sit on a Gold Coast beach with pen and paper in hand to reveal Himself to her.  As she sat there alone that day, suddenly she became aware of a presence sweeping over her as a gentle breeze touched her skin.  Then without ever having thought to ask such a question in all of her life she found herself looking to the sky and asking, ‘Did you create all this?’  Immediately she sensed the answer came back, ‘Yes!’

A second question sprung to mind.  ‘Do you love us?’ to which the answer came, ‘Yes.’

Overwhelmed with this encounter she eventually found herself asking Debra and I many questions about God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Suddenly Mary can’t seem to get enough of God and the fascinating thing is, ‘no one forced her or tricked her into seeking after God’s truth.’  She continues to grow in God as she awaits her glorious day of salvation.    

Story Two:  My next story was told to me by my good mate and Pastor, John Gilbank from Mackay.  This is Gary’s story (not his real name) as told by him to John.

Recently John met Gary.  Gary works for the Council in the Pioneer Valley south west of Mackay. He has had no Christian upbringing.  He has never been interested in the things of God and no one has ever preached to him!

Gary had been living in a homosexual relationship with his council supervisor for many years.  One day as Gary was driving his council vehicle he heard a voice say to him, ‘You’re going to hell!’….  to which he replied, ‘No I’m not!’

A few minutes later Gary found himself parked beside a lonely road and down on the ground crying out to God for help.

Gary returned home to inform his homosexual friend that he was not going to do that stuff anymore.

Gary found himself looking for a church to attend.  He noticed the sign on John Gilbank’s church which simply read ‘a better life’.

Gary is now ‘born again’ and loving his Christian lifestyle.  He has repented of all his sins and has turned away from his homosexual lifestyle.  All Gary wants to do is to live for Jesus from now on.

Q:  Who made Mary a Christian?

Q:  Who made Gary a Christian?

A:  God made them Christians!  No one forced them or tricked them!

Indeed no man can take any credit for their transformations!  

Both were supernatural events!

Isn’t it comforting to know that despite all our human failings God sits above everything

ensuring that by days end, ‘His will be done’!

Jim Seymour / Pastor

Tenterfield Presbyterian Family

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“Ota Benga Story”

By Dennis R Petersen


“Unlocking the Mysteries

of Creation”

Despite all the intellectually vain imaginations about mankind’s origin,

the clear evidence reflects the biblical truth that

‘man’ has always been ‘man’ from the beginning.

At the opening of man’s history, the deceiver of all time managed to skillfully convince our first parents that they should listen to him and disobey God.  Satan is still doing that today.

One of the most subtle and wicked deceptions satan has used is the lie that men are evolving and getting better along with the rest of the natural world.  This unbelievable dogma is epidemic today worldwide.

The tragic result of evolutionary thinking is exemplified in the story of Ota Benga.  Darwin’s book, The Descent of Man, prompted some anti-Christian intellectuals to seek fossils proving man rose from apes.  Others believed that ‘half-man half-ape” creatures still flourished in remote parts of the world.  In the early 20th century, such beliefs led to wanton killing of Australian Aborigines and the sad story of an African Pygmy man named Ota Benga.  

An evolutionist researcher captured Ota Benga in 1904 in the Congo.  In his own

language, his name meant “friend.”  He had a wife and two children.  Chained and caged like an animal, he was taken to the St. Louis World Fair where evolutionary scientists exhibited him as “the closest transitional link to man.”  Two years later, they took him to the Bronx Zoo in New York and displayed him as one of the “ancient ancestors of man” along with a few chimpanzees, a gorilla named Dinah, and an orangutan called Dohung.  

The zoo’s evolutionary director made many speeches boasting that this exceptional “transitional form” was in his zoo.  They caged Ota Benga as if he were an ordinary animal.  

Demoralized and distraught by his treatment, Ota Benga eventually committed suicide.