Saturday, April 28, 2007
"In modern analytical philosophy, there is hardly anything in
Arabic or any other Islamic tongue. Philosophical discussion is best
conducted in English. Owing to the grammatical limitations of
Arabic, it is impossible to express most philosophical claims with an
acceptable degree of rigour and clarity. Moreover Arabic is a
devotional language lacking the vocabulary requisite for detached
discussion of controversial matters."
Muslim philosopher, Shabbir Akhtar who taught at the International
Islamic University in Malaysia
The doctrine of the infallibility of the consensus, farIbn Warraq. From Islam-watch
from allowing some liberty of reasoning as one might have expected,
worked in favour of a progressive narrowing and hardening of doctrine.
By the beginning of 900 C.E., Islamic Law became rigidly fixed because
Muslim scholars felt that all essential questions had been thoroughly
discussed and finally settled, and a consensus gradually established
itself to the effect that henceforth no one might be deemed to have
the necessary qualifications for independent reasoning in law, and
that all future activity would have to be confined to the explanation,
application, and, at most, interpretation of the doctrine as it had
been laid down once and for all. This closing of the gate of
independent reasoning, in effect, meant the unquestioning acceptance
of the doctrines of established schools and authorities. Islamic Law
became increasingly rigid and set in its final mould.
Great article for those who think that the Quran and the ahadiith (plural of hadith) can be reinterpreted in a way that will be more amenable to life in the 21st Century. Islam cannot be reinterpret. There is no room for interpretation. Period. An attempt to reinterpret is to transgress the boundries of Islamic orthodoxy.
BTW, the Islamic word for interpretation of the Quran is ijtihaad. It is a gerund, and is actually derived from the same trilateral root as the word jihad.
The article starts off with some interesting information about the acculturation chart. It is explained fairly well and the folks at Modern Muslima seem particularly alarmed about C5 missionaries, and perhaps C4 missionaries as well.
Last night I hung out with three friends of mine and we played Risk (I won, alhamdulillah, with a last minute sweep through Asia) and we discussed these questions. Not one of us thought that C5 was appropriate or healthy, or, as this article mentions, honest. So there we are in agreement.
I will take issue with one of the topics raised: Muslims are told that when engaged with questions about the Quran or Islam to send the person to a local imam. I am sorry but that just seems like intellectual and spiritual laziness to me. If Muslims really believe that the Quran is word-for-word from God, then they should be able to answer basic questions about the book and the religion. I believe that this approach is in fact one of the most negative aspects of Islam: Muslims are neither encouraged to scrutinize their religion nor to ask difficult questions.
Second note: in different sections of the article, it is stated that most Muslim states prohibit evangelism, and then that missionaries often refer to the "sorry" state of Muslim women throughout Islamdom. Is there any attempt to link the two concepts by Modern Muslima? Nope. In fact the two things are inextricably related: evangelism is prohibited because Islam teaches that religious freedom is blasphemous; Islam teaches that women must be treated as a form of property for men. Denying religious freedom (evangelism and conversion) and denying women freedom (education, civil liberties, work) flow from the same intolerant civilization.
One wonders if the Muslim women at Modern Muslima have ever considered what would happen to their publication if secular government built on a Judeo-Christian heritage were to cede to an Islamic government. A better solution than sending your kids to an Islamic school or not allowing them to go to sleep-overs might be to actually start asking some hard questions about Islam, rather than just assuming that the religious men (and all imams are men) will figure it out. Sloth is a capital sin. The one who overcomes slothfulness will ask hard questions; the one who asks hard questions is one who searches; one who searches will find.
Here is the link: Secret War
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Islam brings together all power and sovereignty and is unable to understand or implement the division of power that comes with democratic government. To divide power among groups or individuals (democracy), or to even attempt to separate in any genuine or significant way the religious from the civil is to divide power. And to divide power is to divide God.
Note how this differs from the Trinitarian understanding of Christianity, and the example of Jesus who in fact confers great power upon his Apostles: "What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven..." Yet this power clearly does not extend to any form of explicit governance beyond the Kingdom of God.
Most significantly, to divide power is to violate the example of Muhammad who accumulated for himself in a radical way every possible spehere of influence and exercise of power without any qualification whatsoever. In the name of God, of course.
Here is the link at IHT.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Critic of Islam in Norway Assaulted
I do want to note that the website linked above is not Christian, so the tone of the remarks is rather angry and not charitable. It also does not see the clash of Christendom and Islamdom through the eyes of faith. But I think the stories nevertheless contain some interesting info, they are both short.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Dear brothers and sisters,
We would like to give you an update about what
happened last Wednesday (18 April 2007) in .
As you know last Wednesday five young people killed
our three brothers. They didn’t only slit their
throats but they tortured them almost two and a half
hours. Two killers first became friends with our
brothers. They said they became Christians and they
even went out to give out free New Testaments on the
streets with them. They also joined the Easter service
in Malatya. Last Wednesday morning they went to the
office and began to chat with our friends. Then three
other men came to the office and the tragedy began
after that. They had pistols and knives and threatened
them and then bound their hands and feet. They put
gags in their mouths. They first slit the German
brother’s throat in the other room. They began to
torture our Turkish brothers. One of the doctors who
conducted the autopsy told one of the national
newspapers that he has never seen something like this.
The killers cut Ugur’s penis, anus and different parts
of his body. They did the same thing to Necati too.
There was a very big hole at Ugur’s throat. They
knifed them more then 150 times. Maybe you can ask
yourselves why we are giving you these details.
Because this shows how much our brothers were in pain.
Another brother who was not at the office at that
time went to the office and tried to open the door
with his key. He discovered that the door was locked
inside. He then called Necati and asked him if
everything was okay. Necati told him they were not at
the office and having a meeting in a hotel and he told
him not to come to the office. He understood something
was wrong as he also heard some one was crying in
pain. He immediately called the police and tried to
open the door. When the policemen came to the office
the people inside didn’t open the door. The police
said they cut the two Turkish brothers throats while
the police were trying to open the door. The leader of
the attackers tried to escape from the balcony. He
fell down from the third floor and is still in coma.
I was planing to go to Malatya last Wednesday. I
talked to some other Christian friends on the phone
and they told me many Christians were going there and
they told me to go to for Necati’s funeral.
U’s family got his body and did an Islamic
funeral for him in his village in Elazig. U was 32
years old. He became a Christian two years ago. He
even changed his religion officialy and his identity
card showed his religion was Christianity. Ugur’s
family is Muslim and they insisted on an Islamic
funeral for their son. U was engaged with Nurcan.
When we were in Diyarbakir our Christian friend who
had shared the Gospel with Ugur had come to visit us
there. Then he went to Elazig to visit U and asked
me if I also wanted to go with him. I didn’t go to
Elazig to see U with my friend. I wish I would
have. Please pray for Nurcan and also for U’s
Four of us went to for the funeral of Necati
last Saturday (21 April 2007). N was 35 years old
and was married to Semsa and they had one daughter
named Ester Bahar and one son named Elisa Aydin. There
were almost 400 people at the funeral. Christians went
to the funeral from different parts of . Of
course there were many journalists and television
cameras at the funeral. There were many policemen to
protect us at the funeral. I also wanted to talk to
N’s wife S and waited to talk to her. While I
was waiting there I saw N’s daughter E B
and my daughter came to my mind at that
time. The tears came from my eyes. We heard E
B asked her mother, “Mumy, where is my father? I
miss him much!”. Her mother replied to her, “He is in
Heaven now!”. Then E B said, “I miss him much.
Tell him to come now and then he can go back”. On the
way back home my wife N called me and told me our
daughter wanted to talk to me. She told me, “Daddy,
where are you? Why did you go? I miss
you daddy!”. [...]
Both wives said they forgave the
killers. The people in were waiting for them to
say ‘We are in great sorrow and we want justice and
revenge!’. T’s wife S read Luke 23:34
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they
are doing”. This was also in the newspapers and on the
television news too. We are sure they will miss their
husbands much. We know to take revenge is easy but to
forgive is the greatest.
T’s wife S said they will not leave
Malatya and will continue to stay there. She said they
love and they believe God will give a greater
beginning for Malatya and . Amen! S wanted
her husband buried in Malatya. So the funeral for
T was in Malatya. T’s family still lives in
Malatya and their children are going to Turkish
We know our brothers are with Jesus Christ in
Heaven. We want to do our best for their families. We
will invite N’s and T’s family to ,
also U’s fiancé N. We wish to encourage them.
We are also praying for their needs. We heard Semsa
will go with her two children to live with her sister.
We are planing to collect offerings for their needs.
Please pray the Lord may provide all their needs.
These three brothers are the first martyries in modern
. This is a new beginning for the Turkish
Christians and for the Turkish churches. We believe
God is going to do greater things in .
Many Muslims are also sorry for what happened to
these Christians but anyway a small group of people
are happy about their deaths and they openly explain
their joy on some websites. I was at the barber shop
and two men were talking about this tragedy. One of
them said this was a carnage. The other man replied to
him “If they sell Bibles this can happen! Because they
were missionaries this happened to them!”.
A newspaper said Christians will leave . What
will we do? Are we going to leave our country? Are we
going to escape? No! We will not go anywhere. We will
continue to live in our country and share the Gospel
with these lost people. Satan wants us to have fear
but we will not. These people showed us the most they
can do. Our brothers were faithful until death and we
will follow their examples.
Last Sunday one young man came to the church after
the church service and he said he wants to join to the
church services. A Christian sister’s Muslim friend
asked her if she could bring a New Testament for her
as she decided to read it. We are sure many people
will also want to learn about our belief in Jesus
Christ after this tragedy.
Please contiue to pray for the Christians and the
churches in Turkey as many of us are getting threats.
Sorry this letter is so long.
Thank you very much for praying for us and for .
God bless and protect you.
Love in Jesus Christ,
Monday, April 23, 2007
"But there is also fear that the global rise of militant fundamentalism has begun to change Indonesia. With democracy’s arrival, radical Islamists were allowed to return from exile, where the former military government had sent them. That was followed by the terrorist bombing of a nightclub on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali in 2002, in which 200 people died, then by other bombings in Jakarta and Bali, again. The government says it has seriously weakened Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorism network blamed for those attacks. But the Islamic Defenders Front, less lethal but more numerous, still vandalizes bars and discos in Jakarta and beats up their patrons, trying to force the businesses to close.
"Meanwhile, Islamic observance has turned more conservative. Many more women wear the veil. And Islamic political parties have gained strength by arguing that they can do something about Indonesia’s endemic corruption and violence."
From the NYT
Saturday, April 21, 2007
From Abul A’la Mawdudi, Towards Understanding Islam (Islamic Circle of North America, 1986), pp. 52-67.
Arabs for Christ
And the message board:
Forum (Message Board)
The person who runs this site was in my country several months ago and with some other folks we did a prayer walk around the largest mosque in the city. It was a blessing.
But just as Christians interpret the Bible through the lens of the Nicene Creed, or the Reformation debates about justification, or what have you, Muslims have (almost) always interpreted the Quran through the lens of the hadiith about Muhammad's life. And that life, unfortunately, was quite bloody and characterized by aggression.
But here is a link to a website of a man who espouses the Quran-only version of Islam. It is a small movement but I hope to grows. Here he is talking about Islam and terrorism, specifically 9/11.
A final note: One of the main things about Quran-only Islam is that it need not insist that the texts of the Bible is corrupted. That is not a teaching in the Quran at all. It is firmly ensconced in the hadiith though.
Friday, April 20, 2007
"Iran's Islamic penal code, a parallel system to its civic code, says murder charges can be dropped if the accused can prove the killing was done because the victim was morally corrupt.
"This is true even if the killer mistakenly identified the victim as corrupt. In that case, the law requires "blood money" to be paid to the family. Every year in Iran, a senior cleric determines the amount of blood money required in such cases. This year it is $40,000 if the victim is a Muslim man, and half that for a Muslim woman or a non-Muslim."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
From Running the Race
And what did the three of us get up to sitting at that kitchen table? Well, we just prayed together; one in Arabic, one in Chinese and one in English, and to be honest, my skin prickled at the realization that we three, so different in our appearance, cultures and tongues, are One in Christ. We all have different stories of faith, different ways in which we came to belong to Him, but the same joy of salvation and love of one another in our hearts.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Here are a number of references to the fact that Muhammad married Aisha when she was six, and had sex with her when she was nine year old. For example:
The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, "Best wishes and Allah's Blessing and a good luck." Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234)
that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64; see also Numbers 65 and 88)
I think of people like Saint Polycarp who praised God at his martyrdom, that he had been deemed worthy by God's grace to die for the sake of the Gospel.
I think of Saint Peter who told the Romans to crucify him upside down,
since he was not worthy to die in the same fashion as his Lord.
I think of the Holy Innocents who died though they did not know their right hand from their left.
I think of Saint Ahmad (an Orthodox saint), a Turk who bought a Christian slave woman at the market. Over time he was so taken by her compassion and serenity that
he asked her how she, a slave, had obtained what he, a powerful Ottoman
ruler, did not have. She told him. He accepted the Gospel and believed
in the Lord. He told his superior who applied Ottoman law which said
that Muslim apostates must die, and so he died.
Here is his e-mail:
This afternoon in Malatya, Turkey five or six young
people killed 3 Christian brothers. These brothers
were working in a Christian publishing company where
we also get New Testaments and Christian books and CD
etc. They were evangelising in Malatya and the
surrounding area. They first bound their hands and
feet and then knifed them. They cut their throats and
knifed them many times. Two of them were Turkish and
one brother was German.
Please pray for their families. Today and tomorrow
morning many Christians are going to Malatya. We think
funerals will be held in Istanbul or Izmir.
We will let you know more when we hear any news.
They will be welcomed to the feast of the lamb by angels and archangels and
all the company of heaven. Let all mortal flesh remain silent. We were not worthy of them when they were alive, and they are a crown for us, the glory of the Church.
Peace be with you.
Now when a man and a woman are married to each other in the mystery of the Crowns, as it is called in the East, or in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, as we call it in the West, they become one flesh before God. In the same way, though we are sinful and enemies of God, though we bring shame upon him by our ignorance and disobedience, we may be saved by being united to the Messiah. For Noah’s whole family was saved from God’s judgment upon the whole earth; but Noah alone among them was righteous. And when God wanted to destroy the tribes of Jacob, Moses who alone among them was humble, and he interceded before God, and God relented. He relented for the sake of this one man who was humble and who was a friend of God. And when the first apostles (mursaliin or hawarriyuun) of Jesus went to the pagans, they found a God-fearing man name Cornelius. Cornelius believed in the Gospel, but his whole household was saved and entered into the Kingdom of God that day; and that day they were baptized as Jesus had commanded.
So there is only one person who does not have a debt towards God and that is Jesus, only one person who has not brought shame upon God’s holy name. Now in Islam some people say that the prophets gain the benefit of being immune from sin after they receive their calling. But before they receive their calling they are not immune. So even the prophets who lived upright lives did sin at times, and as such showed that they needed to repent and confess their sins to God, asking for forgiveness and mercy on the day of judgment.
But there is one man in all of history who did not bring shame upon God’s name, and that is Jesus. And Jesus has entered into the fullness of God’s light and glory because he alone was obedient to God’s commands. So it is in his name that we approach God when we ask for mercy or forgiveness. These concepts are indeed present in Islam, but they are flawed. For will you come before the throne of God in your own name? You, a sinner and enemy of God? And when you come before his throne what will you say when the Judge asks why he should forgive you? Will you say, for the sake of Mohammad? “But Mohammad is there next to you asking for mercy. So how can you come in his name?” God will answer.
I will be there by your side on that day friend, for you and I are the same. And the greatest prophets will be there and the most reprobate sinners will be there too. And we will see on that day that all of our righteous deeds are like menstruated rags before the purity and holiness of God.
So what will you say? Will you say I kept the pillars of Islam without any flaw, I kept them perfectly? Who can say such a thing? In that day the Qu’ran itself will testify against you and reveal that your obedience was not flawless.
And on that day the Torah and the Injil will testify against me as well friend. But the difference is this: I will plead with God and say, I am not here in my own name, but in the name of the single person who obeyed you: Jesus. I believe in his name and am baptized into his wife, the Church. Will you Almighty God deny the one who obeyed you a wife for eternity?
And God will say, if you came in your own name, or of some other man, then you would receive what you deserve. But Messiah will surely bring his bride into Paradise. And so it is that we who follow Jesus have a hope for the day of salvation. If you plan on coming to God in your own name, or the name of some other sinner, on the day of judgment, then beware. Prepare your answer as to why God should even allow you to plead your case.
If I came to this Kingdom’s king in my own name I will not even be given a hearing. If I come to him as a representative of the President of my own country, then I will be received generously and with great honor. And so it is with God.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Resurrection of Christ frees us from hatred
Today as we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would like to meditate on the words of Apostle Paul to the church in Rome;
‘For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his’ Romans 6:5
These words are very difficult to understand. How can we unite with Christ in a death like his and how we can we unite with Him in his resurrection?
We learn from the history of ancient Egypt that when a Noble of the first Dynasty died, all of his slaves would be killed and buried with him so that they can serve him in his second life. Later on, this harsh custom stopped and the Ancient Egyptians were content to put small clay figures that represent the slaves in the grave where the Noble was buried. In addition they put the tools he used to use in his first life in the grave so that when he rose from the dead, he would use them in his second life.
That is difficult to accept and to practice as it is hard to believe that life after death will be exactly the same as life before. The Scripture teaches us that the concept of resurrection is different from that believed by the Ancient Egyptians. When we rise from the dead we rise in spiritual bodies that is different from our earthly ones. ‘It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body’ 1 Corinthians 15:44. ‘Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.’ 1 Corinthians 15:49. This is what Paul meant when he wrote the earlier verses that I mentioned above.
Paul then added ‘We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6:6-8
Here we understand that when we believe that Christ died for our sins on the cross and accept him Saviour and Redeemer for our lives, then our whole self with its sinful nature, would not control us. He gives us then, a new life and a new nature when the Holy Spirit indwells in us by faith.
One of the stories I heard, when the ship sank in the Red Sea last year, was of a father who carried his son on his back and swam until he was able to save him by throwing him into a life boat. After that the father himself sank to the bottom of the sea as he lost all his energy to hold on to the boat. The father drowned to save his son from death. The motive here was the love of the father for his son. If humans can love to that extent, how much more the love of God would be for his children?
The love of God in Jesus Christ moves us from death to life as John in his gospel wrote’ ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16. We may ask how Christ can give us eternal life and a new nature? How can he transfer us from death to life? I think the secret here is in the power of his resurrection. The power by which he overcomes death and has ascended to his heavenly glory once again.
Paul was longing to experience this power of resurrection when he said ‘that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death’ Philippians 3:10. Does this longing of Paul “that he may know him and the power of his resurrection’ is ours today. As we celebrate Easter, I hope that it is mine and yours.
To experience this power of resurrection we need to die with him. This means that we repent of our sins and take the most important decision of our lives which is to believe that he died for our sins on the cross. In this way we become crucified with him and we open our hearts to him. By faith we accept the gift of the Holy Spirit so we rise with him and take him as our Master. Then and only then, we experience the power of his resurrection and start by this power our journey towards eternity.
The experience of the power of his resurrection gives us the victory over ourselves. It frees us from the slavery of sin and leads us to the freedom of the children of God. It frees us from selfishness and hatred and leads us to the love of God and others. It is this power that freed the disciples from fear and sent them to witness for the love of God that was incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ.
At Easter we usually sing ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’. Are we going to sing this with our lips or from our hearts. ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’. Is it a song we sing or a song we lives
My beloved, Easter becomes real when we experience the power of the resurrection in our lives so let us put the goal for our lives the same as Paul’s, ‘that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering’
There is much other information on the website. Please check it out at the-good-way.com
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
How do I feel about using the word Allah?
As someone who speaks Arabic all the time I have no choice but to use Allah, and since it is the word used in the Bible, I don't see any problem with it. When I speak English I always use God. Do I object to using the word Allah in English? Not really, but it seems silly and like part of the general Islamic tendency to Arabicize everything. I mean, Islam is Arab culture, and the two can't be separated anymore (which makes it tough for Arab Christians).
Christianity adapts to its place and culture: From Orthodoxy in Russia to old school fundamentalism in Alabama, to Anglicanism mixed with Native American culture in Nunavut to pilgrimages to Mexico City to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico, to MBB's here kneeling towards Mecca as they pray for the salvation of that city, there is a common foundation, though the cultures are profoundly different.
In fact, Christianity is salt, it preserves cultures. Did you know that the Cyrilic alphabet (used by the Russian language, for example) was developed by Saint Cyril? He was a missionary and he developed the alphabet so he could teach them the Bible and liturgy in their own language!
Nevertheless, I would say once can use the word Allah if it will help you overcome a stumbling block: "I put a stumbling block in no one's path that my testimony might not be discredited," said Paul. But would I say it is the ideal? No. The English word "god" comes from the name of a pagan deity, but now we use it to refer to the Most Holy and Triune God. The word has been baptized and redeemed, what could be more Christian than that?
"The other city sent a messenger to the king, and the king sent his son to that city to address the problems there. Which of these two cities has received the greater honor?"
I told this parable to a Muslim friend today, and here was his answer: the city that received the prince has received the greater honor. When he arrives he will see what the problems are and take immediate action; the people of the city cannot disobey him. The city that received the letter from the king--in that city maybe the mayor will read it and tear it up, or maybe he will read it and not take action right away.
I responded: and this is the difference between Islam and Christianity: we believe that the Word of God is a person, Muslims believe that the Word of God is a book.
The point of the parable might not be obvious to people not used to thinking in terms of honor. The point is not that God has given two religions, and that one of them is superior. Rather it is that the God of Christianity shows more honor and generosity to humanity than the God of Islam.
For those of you who talk with Muslims regularly I encourage you to learn this short parable and ask your Muslim friends what they think about it.
...the nature and possibility of love is inextricably grounded in the Trinitarian nature of the God whom Christians profess. What I mean is the following: If it is true, as Christians and various other monotheists maintain, that God is a loving God, then somehow or other, love must be a characteristic of the essence of God apart from his relationship to anything outside himself defined as "creation." But if God is the purely monotheistic god of Jews, Muslims, deists, or monotheists of whatever stripe, then the only kind of love that could characterise the essence of such a god would be narcissism raised to the power of infinity.
In contrast, in the essence or internal life of the revealed Triune God, consisting of three distinct persons, fully sharing one nature, there are others for each to love and be loved by!
--Thomas J. Kleist
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Middle East
The massive population growth will mean the Middle East, and to a lesser extent north Africa, will remain highly unstable, says the report. It singles out Saudi Arabia, the most lucrative market for British arms, with unemployment levels of 20% and a "youth bulge" in a state whose population has risen from 7 million to 27 million since 1980. "The expectations of growing numbers of young people [in the whole region] many of whom will be confronted by the prospect of endemic unemployment ... are unlikely to be met," says the report.
Resentment among young people in the face of unrepresentative regimes "will find outlets in political militancy, including radical political Islam whose concept of Umma, the global Islamic community, and resistance to capitalism may lie uneasily in an international system based on nation-states and global market forces", the report warns. The effects of such resentment will be expressed through the migration of youth populations and global communications, encouraging contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin.
Tension between the Islamic world and the west will remain, and may increasingly be targeted at China "whose new-found materialism, economic vibrancy, and institutionalised atheism, will be an anathema to orthodox Islam".
Read it all here.
While they were in the midst of an Islamic country, I see them as brave and courageous. That they convert to Christianity after they leave for Sweden (or wherever) I see as the fulfillment of God's grace for them. That they resisted the temptations of converting to Islam was God's grace in their lives. That they now receive the fullness of the Christian faith is also his grace, and is, of course, the main point of Saint John the Baptist's preaching.
John the Baptist, I think, is much more central to the whole Gospel story than we give him credit for these days. Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist til now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Mt 11:12). Also, Mark, the earliest Gospel, begins the account of Jesus' ministry at the baptism of John. Also, Jesus' initial proclamation of the Gospel is identical to John's: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.
And all the way through Acts, they are encountering disciples of John the Baptist. Why should today be any different. In my country and many others, these disciples are entering into the Kingdom of God and his Son. Let God be praised.
A great article on the present state of the Mandeaens is at the IHT.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Like many Bishops I’m frequently asked to speak out against blasphemy and condemn outrageous portrayals of Jesus in the media. More often than not the point’s made that programme-makers would never dare do this to the prophet Mohammed, so why should they do it to Christ. Some go on to say that the fact that shows like Jerry Springer the Opera are staged and televised is because Christianity has lost its power and is no longer a force to be reckoned with in our society.
Part of my reply is that I’ve no desire to give free publicity, but there is a deeper reason which I’ve discussed with my Muslim friends. In Islam the mocking of God is an intolerable offence. That’s why crowds fill the streets to demonstrate against every humiliation of their faith. Indeed, one of the reasons that Muslims cannot accept the divinity of Jesus is that they cannot believe that God would have allowed his Son to suffer.
But for Christians the abusing of God goes to the heart of our belief. Christ crucified is where our faith begins. When people despise and reject him they’re only doing what they did in the beginning. One of the reasons most Christians don’t take to the streets is not because we no longer care, but because the humiliation of God is what we embrace every time we take communion. This is the token of a body broken, of blood spilt and of the mocking of God. What sustains us - is that even though people should despise him and drive nails through his hands ‘he loves us to the end’.From the BBC, Bp. James Jones of Liverpool
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I will never forget hearing the story (it pains me that I was not present to witness this first hand) of when Carter - who at the time was just over a year old - was sitting in his high chair in between Allison and her mother at the dining room table for dinner and was motioning with his arm that he wanted to hold Allison's hand. She grabbed it and he then motioned to Lyn (Al's mom) for the same. After she responded in kind Carter bowed his head and kept it there.
Read it all at Priests and Paramedics.
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.
Teacher Killed by Muslim Students - Compass Direct News/VOM Sources
On March 21, 2007, Christianah Oluwasesin, a teacher at a secondary school in Northern Nigeria was beaten, stoned and burned by Muslim students over claims she desecrated the Quran. According to a Compass Direct News report, Oluwasesin was supervising a final examination on Islamic religious knowledge when she collected papers, books and bags from the all-girls class and in accordance with school procedure and dropped them in front of the class to prevent cheating. According to another teacher, soon after Oluwasesin dropped the bags in front of the class, one of the girls began to cry. She told her classmates she had a copy of the Quran in her bag, that Oluwasesin touched the bag and by doing so had desecrated the Quran, since she was a Christian. This led to a riot which was joined by Muslim extremists, resulting in Oluwasesin being beaten to death. They brought old mats to where her body was, placed dirt on her corpse and then burned it. The Voice of the Martyrs has met with her husband and is supporting her family. Pray God will comfort Oluwasesin's family and for her testimony to those that killed her, that it will bring them into the knowledge of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5
See the link to persecution.com for more, it is on the side bar.
Monday, April 02, 2007
The palm tree and palm leaves appear again and again throughout the Bible as symbols of integrity, honor, righteousness, holiness, godly authority, and royal glory. The palm was used in the carved decorations of the temple, usually associated with the Cherubim, but also with the regal lion and the flower in full bloom. Indeed, the association of the palm with these ideas recurs more than three dozen times in the Scriptures. The blessing of the Lord is portrayed as “Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the Lord has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters” (Numbers 24:6).
In addition though, throughout the entire ancient Near East the palm also had the common cultural connotation of refreshment and restoration. Waving palm tops along the horizon heralded the location of a desert oasis, a welcome stop for both camel and traveler. Palms provided weary travelers food and shade; the oasis, water. So palm branches become the symbol of welcome, public homage, and journey’s end. It was the sign of completion, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
For both the Romans and the Jews the palm was carried in joyful or triumphant processions. In 293 BC victorious Roman soldiers bore palm branches when parading in ; and the palm was given as a victory emblem at public games Palm branches were the conventional symbol of public approval and welcome by all the eastern peoples to conquering heroes, and were strewn and carried in triumphal processions. The palm tree was embossed on ancient Hebrew coins. Later, the Romans celebrated the conquest of Judea by issuing new currency, retaining the palm tree, but with an added inscription celebrating their crushing victory.
All the Gospels report that people gave Jesus the kingly honor of strewing palm branches along the path during His triumphal entry. (A slap at the Romans?) In the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) we are told that they also laid down their garments with cut palm rushes on the street; John more specifically mentions the full palm fronds. The joyous Hosannas that the people were singing (Psalm 118) were actually from the benediction song for the Passover meal, and thus foreshadowed passion Jesus would suffer during the week ahead. In addition, the whole scene was a fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies of the coming King (Zechariah 9:9-10).
Not surprisingly, as early as the late first century the palm was connected with martyrdom (Revelation 7:9) and was used to decorate grave markers and tombs in the Roman catacombs as a sign of the triumphant death of the martyr On mosaics and on sarcophagi it usually stands for paradise, and Christ is frequently portrayed amid palms in heaven. So also in the earliest Christian art, the Lamb of God and the Apostles are depicted amid palms. In addition, the use of the palm became an almost universal worship convention on Palm Sunday by the end of the second or the beginning of the third century.
This Sunday, let us observe this venerable and ancient practice during the service, as we too sing Hosannas to our King, amidst these old Biblical symbols of royal pomp and joyous celebration.
Yemen is a country facing substantial problems. It is one of the most undeveloped, poverty stricken countries globally. Basic services are scarce, and corruption is rampant. Half of Yemen's 20 million citizens are under 15. High fertility rates and early marriage mean the population will double within decades. Oil, a mainstay of the economy, is rapidly depleting. Both illiteracy and unemployment are high. International donors and many within the Yemeni administration recognize the urgency of the issues facing the nation. However some governmental strategies are undermined from within the regime itself. Both water management and corruption mitigation efforts have been limited by the failure of ministries to coordinate among themselves.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
After living in the student dormitory for about a month, I began to feel the need to become more familiar with the culture and way of life in the country I am in. During that time I heard of a program that helps international students by teaming them up with families from this country in order to help the international students learn more about the culture and way of life. Little did I know that it was a Christian Ministry. So I signed up for it; a decision that would change the course of my life forever. Almost two weeks later, a young couple from the program contacted me and indicated that they were the family assigned to work with me. And for the next seven months, this family showed me LOVE that far exceeded my expectations, LOVE I have never experienced before even from my own fellow Muslims. Later on that year, this family invited me over to their house for dinner. It was only then that I realized they were a Christian family, because they asked if they can pray, and I heard their prayer. I have to admit that my heart sank. I never realized that Christians are actually filled with such Love and not hate as my belief made it seem to me.
Read the whole thing here.
I also like that he appreciates the importance of Roman Catholicism, something which many evangelical authors simply discard as being dead or meaningless. This is, in my opinion, a grave error. While it is true that Catholics do not attend church or give money as vigorously as many evangelicals, and while the Catholic Church does not generally focus on making converts or evangelizing through preaching, and while most Catholics are sadly illiterate when it comes to knowledge of the Bible, that does not mean they are not Christians, nor does it mean that none of them are saved, nor does it mean that Catholics do not have an important contribution to make.
Are fears of a future "Muslim Europe" well-founded?
Jenkins: I don't think they are because the numbers at present are very small. And while they're going to grow, by American standards Muslim minorities in Europe are not going to be that huge. The other big issue is that when people talk about Muslim minorities, they automatically assume that everyone of Muslim background is going to continue to be a dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore Muslim in Europe.
There's a lot of evidence that they're not. If you look at Algerian people in France, they have a strong sense of ethnic identity, but there's quite a low level of religious observance. They look like Episcopalians more than anything. Now obviously, there's a small and potentially very dangerous hardcore of quite extreme Islamists, and you'd have to be a fool to ignore that. But the majority of people are very happy to assimilate to some kind of French or Dutch or German identity.
Read it all. Also has thoughts on religion in America, Christianity under Soviet rule, and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff.