Saturday, January 31, 2009

Islamization of the UK proceeding very well

Check these figures out:

Growing numbers

The total number of Muslims in Great Britain:

2004: 1,087,000

2005: 2,017,000

2006: 2,142,000

2007: 2,327,000

2008: 2,422,000

That's about a 130% increase in four years. Amazing.

Read all about it HERE.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Witness in a Time of War

Well, the Gaza conflagration seems to be, for now, subsiding, and it has, no doubt, affected Arabs all over the world, and especially in the Middle East. At first it was depressing for me, as I went out to visit Muslim friends. Al Jazera was always on and it was the only topic of discussion. But after a while I got to thinking about how it could be used for good.

Two things came to mind, neither incredibly innovative, but they led to a few good conversations that God, in his grace, just might use some day. One was to ask my friends how they, as Muslims, pray for peace. The other was to go through the Beatitudes and ask people to explain them, especially the one about blessed are the peacemakers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Llull and The Hundred Forms

If you read Llull's Ars Brevis, which is the best way to get familiar with his philosophy and theology and thus his manner of evangelizing Jews and Muslims, you find a fascinating section in Part X, Section 12, called The Hundred Forms, where he basically lays out certain definitions and relations so that the rest of his epistemological system can function correctly.

Llull is fascinating because he does not start, like Descartes, with doubting everything, nor does he start with just reason, but he starts with a moral universe and a real God, but not, ab initio, with a Christian God. The beginning point for his philosophy, or really his 'art', is virtue and the glory of God. This is how he can use his art to reason with Muslims and Jews and even Monophysites.

While he does not claim that his art proves from reason alone the Trinity, he does claim that it proves the Trinity is reasonable--a key flaw he saw in his days among others who were evangelizing Muslims.

His first step is to build common ground. Anyway, here are some sections from the Hundred Forms:

2. Essence is the form abstracted from and sustained in being.

12. Form is the essence with which the agent acts in matter.

50. Monstrosity is the deviation of natural motion.

64. Grace is a primary form, placed in the person receiving it without any merit on his part.

80. Theology is the science that speaks of God.

81. Philosophy is the subject by means of which the intellect concentrates on all the sciences.

Why I work with Muslims

HT to FTME for this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ramon Llull, quotes from the Book of the Gentile is impossible for infinite evil to exist.
Book II

The Gentile said to the Christian, "Tell me why the Trinity which is in God consists of paternity, filiation, and procession, and not of some other thing which is neither Father, Son, nor Holy Ghost."
Book III

For if the Son had wanted to be born of a queen, ruler of all the kingdoms in the world, He could easily have done so; but it would not have signified so great a concordance of humility, justice against injustice, pride.
Book III, Article 9

The Saracens claim that Jesus Christ did not die. And you know why? Because they think they are rendering Him honor by saying that He did not die. But they do not understand the honor that is His in being the hope and consolation of every man, no matter how poor or guilty he may be...
Book III, Article 10

All trans. by Anthony Bonner

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Feeling the Love

Hi Readers,

The leg is healing well, which makes life better. Also, got a package in the mail from the West with a book and beef jerky. How nice to get little surprises like that from time to time.

Also, a relative posted some very old family pictures (from my mother's mother's side of the family). I had never seen these pictures before and I was surprised by joy :-) The picture here is my great grandma.

Finally, have been invited to preach (in Arabic, no less) at the local Anglican church in two weeks. We don't attend that church every week, but I try to get there from time to time bc, well, we're Anglican. So preaching in Arabic is a pleasant but challenging prospect. (Preaching in English or Spanish? Muy facil.)

Gospel passage: the wheat and the tares in Mt 13. Ideas?


Abu Daoud (<-----eating beef jerky)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sacramental Validity, and there is no king in Israel

Alan Knox over at The Assembling of the Church (he's a Baptist, btw) has an interesting post on the Lord's Supper. He suggests that any Christian meal can be The Lord's Supper, and asks the following questions:

What makes a meal between believers the Lord's Supper?

What makes a meal between believers NOT the Lord's Supper?

I answered: correct form, intention, and matter. That is what makes something the Lord's Supper (or not). He answered that my answer was a systematization (it is), and there is no need for that, since every systematization is contextual:

Every systemization, every creed, every confession - even Nicaea, and Calvin, etc. - is given within a context. It is important for us to recognize that these systemization are not "gospel truth", and for us to struggle with these issues again within our own context.

I asked him if the JW's were not then a legitimate systematization/contextualization for 20th C. America. His answer, no, bc they are unbiblical, whereas any Christian meal being the Lord's Supper is not. To this I replied, and this is where I am curious as to your input:

Hi Alan,

"In those days there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes."

Not to be a jerk or anything, but isn't that what you have? You read Scripture and it says what you see there, and indeed, perhaps what you want it to see. There is no authority above you, except Scripture, right? But Scripture is determined by your own personal, individual reading.

This JW's are not an OK contextualization, and burgers at McD's being (or maybe being) the Lord's Supper is an OK contextualization. Because you say so. Or rather, because you say that is what Scripture says. Or perhaps, Scriptures says so because you say so.

At least the answer I'm presenting has stood the test of around 16 centuries, been used and tried in every continent, in thousands of languages, and commands respect in the three major traditions: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.

You have your opinion of what Scripture teaches. I have the opinion of the church across the world and through the centuries as to what Scripture teaches.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Second Council of Orange (529) on Double Predestination

We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.

Second Council of Orange, Conclusion

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Parable, by FTME

My dear brother FTME has posted a parable over at SBC Impact about the topic of whether or not Christians and Muslims worship and believe in the same God or not. Check it out HERE. A sample:

[...]Evangelist: “Oh, before you can understand how to draw near to God or anything of God’s Kingdom, you must understand that you, my dear friend, are thinking of the wrong god. If your Qur’an, as you say, teaches of a god who is not triune in nature - meaning the Father, the Son and the Spirit - you must repent and believe in the True God of the Bible.

Muslim: “But there is only one God.”

Evangelist: “Correct. And He is not the one you are worshiping and trying to be close to. I’m afraid you cannot come near to that which does not exist.”

Muslim: “You mean that the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jonah is not the true God!?!”

Evangelist: “No, what I mean is that your god of Abraham and Isaac and Muhammad is a false god. My God of Abraham and Isaac and Jesus is the true God.” [...]

Muslim-background Believers and Baptism

Interesting section here on baptism and MBB's:

Baptism is the decisive turning point for an inquirer or seeker to become identified as a Muslim background believer. What we may think of as “secret baptism” is not really secret when one Muslim baptizes another Muslim and some of their family and friends are there. Those who have been baptized gather very naturally into their family or friendship groups. They protect each other and provide for each other’s physical and social needs. The timing of a Muslim background believer’s baptism should be the prerogative of the man or woman of peace who won them to the Lord and is discipling them. I know of many occasions when Barnabas told me that a person he was discipling was not ready for baptism. It often involved a lack of comprehension of the Gospel and the security issue. We have had people who join the believer’s movement to spy out other believers either for the local government security services or for the fundamentalist Muslim movements. Sometimes a Muslim’s baptism is delayed until they can lead other family members or friends to the faith and join them to establish a believers group. In most cases, baptism gives new courage to the Muslim background believer and the Holy Spirit empowers him or her to grow stronger in their faith.

R. R., Ch. 6
Discipling Middle Eastern Believers
2005, 06, Unpublished Manuscript

Monday, January 19, 2009

Muslims and Christians believe in same God, but do not worship the same God

Interesting thoughts here, from Dr. William Abraham, of Perkins School of Theology:

"My thesis is this: Christians and Muslims believe in the same God; they do not worship the same God. Christians and Muslims can both identify their God as the one and only Creator of the world who is all good, all powerful, and worthy of worship and obedience. Both Christians and Muslims believe that this God exists; they disagree with atheists and agnostics on this score. Both Christians and Muslims are realists with respect to truth."


"In the context of worship Christians insist on the identity of God as laid out in the Apostles' or Nicene Creed; they speak of God as Father; they name God as 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit.' The practices of the Church show that we pray to the Triune God, that we baptize in the name of 'The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,' and that we praise God as the Triune God.

"These are not incidental phrases; they are canonical; they are constitutive of the identity of God in the Church. All of this is resolutely, systematically, and canonically rejected by Islam."

Abraham said that these differences cut so deep that in this context, it is natural that we do not worship the same God. [...]

Abu Daoud says: it seems like he is trying to go half way between the two temptations of denying that Muslims believe in the true God AT ALL, and the other one of pluralism in saying that they do believe in the true God AND worship him rightly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jesus' method in forming disciples

In this kind of work folks pass around unpublished manuscripts quite often. Some of them won't get published because they are too technical or would not make money, some are just not written very well, and others for security reasons. In any case, this is a section from one of many such manuscripts on principles from Jesus' ministry regarding how to form disciples:

1) He taught them with authority--We have the same Word, the same Spirit and the same authority.
2) He lived with them--he had daily contact. Discipling Muslims demand our daily time and togetherness.
3) He discipled in small groups or 3, 6, or 12. We make a mistake if we look for large numbers. The core men and women of peace need intensive, personal training in order to for them to train others.
4) He knew their capacity to learn. He began simple and only entrusted them with what he could trust them to keep. Security is a major issue for Muslim background believers.
5) He taught them from the beginning how to deal with opposition and persecution. When you call a Muslim to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, you call him to come and die!
6) He disciplined during teachable moments. Peter was a good example, i.e. The confession at Caesarea Philippi, the Lord’s Supper, before the cock crowed and even after the resurrection beside the Sea of Galilee. We need to know when to be gentle, firm and direct in discipling Muslim background believers.

R. R., Ch. 4
Discipling Middle Eastern Believers
2005, 06, Unpublished Manuscript

Is there anything you would add or subtract?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gaza, الغزة

Pictures, and a timeline.

ارحمنا يا رب

Please do read, and say a prayer for peace:

Gaza pictures

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Evangelical Crypto-sacramentalism?

OK people, tell me if this is way too harsh, maybe even venomous, or if it sounds more or less reasonable:

[E]vangelicalism is in many of its forms a contextualization that reacted against what was (at times, justifiably) perceived as ossified and lifeless ritual, the search for inner contact with God and the individualization and emotionalization of religion go hand in hand. Ritual was sublimated, but since humans need ritual to preserve a sense of identity, the local cultural symbols of America were drawn upon, thus arose a form of uniquely evangelical crypto-sacramentalism centered around a bizarre amalgamation of Scripture, pietism, entertainment, and consumerism.

Friday, January 09, 2009

European Demographics and Birth Control

One reader and I have been having an on-going conversation about Europe and Islam. My main point is that there is something RIGHT going on in Islamdom where people have babies, and something WRONG going on in Europe, where more people die than are being born. True: some European countries have growing populations, but that is due to immigration, much of that Islamic. The immigration is much needed though because of the welfare state system (which the US seems to be rapidly copying). That welfare system requires many young (immigrant) workers for each retired (white European) person.

It's a recipe for disaster, as the late Sam Huntington has famously pointed out in his seminal book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, which is a must-read for anyone who...well, anyone at all really.

Anyway, what brought this all to mind was this post from a favorite blog of mine, Canterbury Tales.

In it one of the inventors of birth control makes the following observation:

The Austrian chemist was one of three whose formulation of the synthetic progestogen Norethisterone marked a key step toward the earliest oral contraceptive pill.

Djerassi outlined the "horror scenario" that occurred because of the population imbalance, for which his invention was partly to blame. He said that in most of Europe there was now "no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction." He said: "This divide in Catholic Austria, a country which has on average 1.4 children per family, is now complete."

He described families who had decided against reproduction as "wanting to enjoy their schnitzels while leaving the rest of the world to get on with it."

The fall in the birth rate, he said, was an "epidemic" far worse, but given less attention, than obesity. Young Austrians, he said, were committing national suicide if they failed to procreate. And if it were not possible to reverse the population decline they would have to understand the necessity of an "intelligent immigration policy."

Ah yes, intelligent immigration policy. I liked it better when they called it Eurabia.

Read it all.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Historical Evangelical Theology. Really. Stop Laughing!

My wife was reading The Shack, which now comes with a warning label in American evangelical stores it seems, and it gave me the wonderful occasion to illumine her regarding the plethora of early heresies regarding the Trinity. Especially suitable as I prepare to teach rather extensively on that topic and other wonderful things concerning the early church.

My dear brother FTME ref'd me to this and I thought it was great. Read it all and enjoy. A segment:

The book comes with a disclaimer, in the stores, you're supposed to get at check-out: "Read this book with extra discernment."

I think that's cool. Hard to be against extra discernment. Especially when the "author may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology."

"May", "thoughts", "could be considered" somebody...somewhere. "Historical evangelical theology" back, literally, tens of years.

I'm thinking of some other disclaimers -- ones they don't use: "We now know author wrote this book while treating his wife like dirt." Or, "Author once entertained thought inconsistent with public ministry and theology of Billy Graham." (Billy Graham would say they could put that on Billy Graham's books.)

How about, "Author acts all 'Ooh, I'm a big man,' but his kids don't know him."

Maybe they shouldn't do that.

Someone smart should write more about this whole Tradition thing for evangelicals, and how they're so often simultaneously anti-Catholic and...Catholic. I'd write about it. But someone smart should, first. Then I'll just link to it, and include a picture of snuggling milk goats or something. Everybody has a role in blogdom.

Read it all and enjoy the gift of laughter (something the Prophet famously never did):

Letters from Kamp Krusty: Please Don't Read this with Discernment

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Muhammad Shahrur quote

“It is easier to build a skyscraper or a tunnel under the sea than to teach people how to read the book of the Lord with their own eyes. They have been used to reading this book with borrowed eyes for hundreds of years.”

Muhammad Shahrur

I learned about this Syrian scholar from the interminable book A History of Islamic Legal Theories which I am still reading. But I am so close to the close!

Anyway, Muhammad Shahrur is the kind of person people hope will succeed in the long run. He's kind of like a Bultman of Quranic interpretation. People have called his hermeneutics a "Copernican revolution" in reading the Quran.

I have said before that I don't think this sort of program can succeed, even though I hope it will.

[Some of my previous comments on ijtihad are HERE.]

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Testimony Customized for Muslims

Our brother FTME has posted his testimony over at SBC Impact, please check it out. It has been customized to speak to the Muslim heart using images and phrases that are close to the hearts of many Muslims, while perhaps rather foreign to many Westerners. A section:

My Pilgrimage

[...]When I realized this, I began sitting and meditating on my own heart and secret desires. It was like torture because I knew my heart was black and I could never succeed in this jihad. I wanted to be truly submitted to Allah and his will and I wanted to go to Paradise, but I also saw that my soul was black and did not know what to do. This was when I realized why I felt as if Allah was so far away. It was because He judges our hearts and hidden desires… and mine were shameful. At the same time, I had a friend, he was my closest friend and he seemed to be winning in this jihad. So, even though it was difficult to admit these things, even to a close friend, I told him of my struggle.[...]

Monday, January 05, 2009

Resurgence of Islam in Tajikistan celebrated by many

Thinking of being a missionary? Why not go to Tajikistan?

Resurgence of Islam in Tajikistan celebrated by many

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: The crowd in the airport parking lot was jubilant despite the cold, with squealing children, busy concession stands and a tangle of idling cars giving the impression of an eager audience before a rock concert.

But it was religion, not rock 'n' roll, that had drawn so many people: the Tajik families were waiting for their loved ones to land on a flight from Saudi Arabia, where they had taken part in the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

This did not use to happen. Tajikistan, a Muslim country north of Afghanistan, used to be part of the Soviet Union. Religion was banned, and any public expression of it, like prayer or making the hajj, was harshly punished.

A resurgence of Islam began here almost immediately after independence, in 1991, but years of civil war kept outward reflections of it, like the hajj, from appearing much. [...]

Friday, January 02, 2009

Muslims Erect ‘Allah Has No Son’ Banner in Nazareth

And now, some news from Nazareth, which is the largest Arab city in Israel, and it is in Israel proper, not the West Bank. It used to be a Christian city, but over the years the % of Muslims has grown very quickly.

Muslims Erect ‘Allah Has No Son’ Banner in Nazareth

[...] Journalists visiting the city saw two large banners--one in English, one in Arabic--hanging in the plaza in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation, with a verse from the Koran (112:1-4) contradicting the New Testament proclamation that Jesus is the “only begotten” of God.

“In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful, Say (O Muhammad): He is Allah, (the) One and Only. Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute. He begetteth not, nor was begotten, and there is none like unto him,” the banner reads.

Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy played down concerns that a banner effectively denying Jesus’ deity was provocative to Christians, although he did question its position, in front of Nazareth’s most prominent landmark. [...]

I will tell you that most Muslims I know don't really embrace this sort of confrontational behavior. But that's how it is in Nazareth and other places in the Middle East as well, and it's being exported to the West.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Abu Daoud on exporting the American model of church and liturgy

An e-mail I just wrote to a friend, I thought it was interesting enough to share with you all. Happy New Year to everyone! --AD

Hi Brother,

You raise a great question: in many ways the American church is not replicable outside the States, no? I would agree with you in several aspects. American culture is very much focused around entertainment, and that really comes across at church. I mean, how many people have you met who do or don't go to a certain church bc of the music or the preaching? It is a difficult balance, I mean, you should be edified by the sermons, but there is such a thing as substituting an entertaining sermon for a boring one that is edifying. The same can be said for the way our churches handle their physical assets. I am, however, not one of these guys who says that we need to go back to home churches (though here that is needed sometimes, but more as a security matter than some ideological debate, like it is in the US).

All of this is related to my conviction that liturgy, in some sense of the word, is an important part of Christian worship. It serves to focus attention away from the entertainment factor (ie, the preacher or worship leader) and towards the work of the people--which is what the actual Greek word liturgy means, the work of the people, or a public work. So yes, the standing and sitting and kneeling can certainly become meaningless ritual, but I have found that is not the case nearly as often as non-liturgical Christians allege. I have ample experience with both forms of Christianity (liturgical and non-liturgical) in a number of different cultural settings and languages.

Also, it is entirely possible to combine the best aspects of evangelical ethos and liturgical worship, I have seen this at some Anglican and Lutheran churches, for example. The desire to shed every last bit of structure (liturgy) is very American, isn't it? I think that's another aspect of how American Christianity does not work so well in other cultures. The non-structured every-guy-doing-his-own-thing kind of worship we sometimes see in the US is more or less incomprehensible to many folks here in the Arab world, both Christian and Muslim.

Anyway, that is much more than you expected, I'm sure! Peace be with you during these twelve days of Christmas, and happy new year!