Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bernard of Clairveaux on the Unity of the Trinity and Love

From On Loving God, Ch. XII:

For what preserves the glorious and ineffable Unity of the blessed Trinity, except love? Charity, the law of the Lord, joins the Three Persons into the unity of the Godhead and unites the holy Trinity in the bond of peace. Do not suppose me to imply that charity exists as an accidental quality of Deity; for whatever could be conceived of as wanting in the divine Nature is not God. No, it is the very substance of the Godhead; and my assertion is neither novel nor extraordinary, since St. John says, 'God is love' (I John 4.8). One may therefore say with truth that love is at once God and the gift of God, essential love imparting the quality of love.

This quote caught my attention because it points to the relation between God's being love, and the Holy Trinity. This is an important topic in our witness to Muslims, of course.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bat Ye'or on Jihad, Waqf and Israel

From 'Israel, Christianity, and Islam: The Challenge of the Future' in Midstream, February/March 2001, p 3. By Bat Ye'or.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Myths about the Middle Ages

I get tired of hearing from Muslims and (more recently atheists) about how bad and terrible the Middle Ages were. Here is a good summary of the myth we were taught, and which is wrong:

 One fable that most of us absorbed, usually in childhood thanks to school teachers, was the pretty fable of "the Renaissance".  It tells of how the Greeks and Romans founded western civilisation and invented things which were good, like science and reason and realistic art and nice buildings.  But then the Roman Empire collapsed and Europe fell into the "Dark Ages" when everyone was ignorant and stupid and superstitious and dirty and feudal.  But luckily along came the glorious Renaissance, where Leonardo invented flying machines and paintings became realistic and therefore good again and everyone became much cleaner and more rational.

Read more here at Armarium Magnum.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Major problem for would-be missionaries: student debt

When we left for the mission field back in the day I had about $5000 of student loans to pay off, and my wife had none. I didn't mind the idea of just continuing to pay it off (I think the payment was $110 per month) but my wife felt it would better to use some of our savings to pay it off, so we did.

But I went to an inexpensive state university and lived frugally. What about students who go to private universities and maybe don't live so frugally? And what about the rising cost of higher education in the USA? They can accrue a very large amount of debt pretty easily. What then should missionary agencies do when one of these students approaches them and applies to be a missionary?

This timely article addresses some of the complexities involved and proposes a creative answer.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Algerian Christian refused burial in public cemetery

A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.
“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.
Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.
From World Watch Monitor

But really, in the end this is good. It means that Christians must form their own identity, including places of burial. And in terms of North Africa, this is most fitting, as the first Christians there achieved legal recognition as burial societies, and some of their first real estate was in grave yards.

In the end is my beginning, as TS Eliot said. Indeed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Abu Daoud on Insider Movements at Biblical Missiology

The folks at Biblical Missiology have recently posted an article I wrote which is related to the question of Insider Movements. Read it all HERE.

Here is a section:
Let me return to my original observation in this article. If Lewis, Higgins and Dave Bogs are right that IM is a recuperation of the real meaning of the incarnation, then, logically, there never should have been One Apostolic Church to begin with. The Jews should have stayed on as Jews who follow Jesus, and the pagans should have stayed in their various cults and philosophies, trying to be light and salt there. The mixed church of Antioch (where they, both Jew and gentile, were first called Christians) was really a mistake—one that represented a failure to understand Jesus’ Gospel and that to honor their god-given identities (Rebecca Lewis’ phrase), the gentiles and Jews should have stayed within their own social-religious communities, rather than embracing this brand new one—being Christians.

Further, the mixed churches in cities like Rome and Galatia were likewise errors. These believers, both Jews and non-Jews, had mistakenly supposed that they in some way had come into a new oikos and a new identity, and Paul, lacking wisdom as usual, taught them these things. Indeed, a triumph of IM hemereneutics and practice would have meant that Peter should have been victorious when Paul confronted him. Indeed, Paul, in violating kashrut was stepping needlessly outside of his oikos, while Peter himself was honoring his God-given identity as a Galilean Jew.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Pope Francis and Islam

The pope recently released an encyclical, Gospel of Joy, and he has a few things to say about Islam in there. Jesuit father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian by birth, takes a critical look at some of the statements in that encyclical. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is an example. He starts by quoting the encyclical, and then offering his own comments. This part is about evangelism:
The same theme is found in n. 251: "In this dialogue, ever friendly and sincere, attention must always be paid to the essential bond between dialogue and proclamation".
Sometimes, in dialogue, when it comes to proclamation, it appears to displeasure our partners, who immediately accuse us of proselytizing . Instead, it has nothing to do with proselytism. It is about love: out of love , I will proclaim the good news that frees me and gives me joy. And you too should offer me the good that you have encountered in your faith. We must rid ourselves of diatribes, of intellectual arguments and practices aimed at winning the other over, rather witness to truth with one another.
Amen! Thank your Fr Samir for this excellent writing. Read it all HERE.