Monday, March 30, 2009

Your input needed on the Trinity

Hi All,

A Christian living in the ME has been thinking a lot about the Trinity lately. He has questions, and I am sure you all (with your excellent theological training and grasp of tradition) can make a great contribution to the quality of his witness.

He writes:

Lately I've been spending a lot of time talking about the Trinity (explicitly or implicitly) to close friends around me. Most people try to avoid this conversation by saying, "You just have to believe it. There's no real way to explain it." Unfortunately, I have a hard time accepting that method. I believe that if the Trinity is true, then what makes it true must be comprehensible. I admit that it might not be comprehensible to an unredeemed mind. Yet, to the redeemed He reveals mysteries.

I want to open this posting up to anyone who wants to take a stab at this question: What is the Trinity?

So what do you think? CLick your way over there and give him your input. Rainthinker.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bp. Michael Nazir-Ali: stepping down from episcopate to serve Muslim converts to Christianity

Well, I was sad to hear the news that one of the very few capable bishops of the C of E is stepping down, but when I read about his new vocation I could not help but rejoice.

Bp Michael: If I can help you in any way shape or form there in the UK please let me know. I am at your service. --Abu Daoud

A section from the article at the Telegraph article:

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is only 59 and could have stayed for another decade in his post, one of the most senior in the Church, but has chosen instead to devote the rest of his career to working in communities where Christians are in a minority.

While this is likely to see him involved in the Middle East and Pakistan, the bishop revealed that he also plans to work with Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Islamization of France

Great section here, it's rather long, but well explained:

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families, from North Africa, the Middle East and black Africa - whose religion, aspirations and mores are radically different from ours - now live on our soil. Their birth rate is higher than that of European families. What is the consequence? Within 30 years the population of Islamist culture could be in the majority among those 40 years old or younger. "In France, we will have between 6 and 8 million Arabs by the years 2005 - 2010," said Edgar Pisani, honorary president of the Arab World Institute. We have been duly warned: this is a radical transformation (political, economic, cultural and social) of our society.

This mutation is in progress at the very moment when, to use Toynbee's expression, "an external proletariat" is forming on the southern and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This army of reservists came about as a result of the birth rate of these peoples, and the absence of an economic policy capable of guaranteeing them a decent life in their homeland. In front of them lie France, Italy, Spain and Germany, lands of mirage, highly developed, with guaranteed employment, free social protection and education. Who could resist the call of this "promised land"?

At the same time, all over the world, roused by immense hopes, Islam is enjoying an unprecedented revival. It is awakening after a long night. It has renewed vigor, pugnacity and ambitions. From Morocco to Indonesia, from the Muslim States of Central Asia to black Africa, more than one billion two hundred million men - young compared to the aging populations of Europe - constitute a "community" (Umma).

It is transnational, motivated by spiritual aspirations, material demands and political ambitions, and (here and there) financed by revenue from oil.

From HERE.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Lengthy Discussion with Two Muslims Friends

A Lengthy Discussion with Two Muslims Friends

I went to see some friends and Abd started out by saying, How difficult was the life of Job! He had scars and sores and he lost everything! We talked about Job a while, and then I asked (knowing that the Qur'an says very little about Job) where he heard this. He said, I read it in the Bible you gave me. I didn't know he had been reading it. We discussed redemption a little: the idea of God making good from an evil situation.

I have two Muslim friends with whom I got into a rather lengthy conversation with yesterday. Abd asked me point blank, do you say that Jesus is God? It is practice among evangelical missionaries today to not answer such a question in the affirmative. But I am becoming increasingly disappointed with that approach. I answered in the affirmative. He quoted the verse of the Qur'an about God not begetting nor being begotten. I agreed with the verse, saying that in the biological sense it was absolutely true, and that is what the Qur'an was talking about. So Christians and Muslims both agree with that statement if understood in context. I explained that as a Christian I do not limit the power of God--God is all powerful. Therefore if God wills to become human he may. In other words, as a Christian I really believe that Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), unlike Muslims who circumscribe and limit God's ability to reveal himself.

What ensued then was a discussion on the Trinity. The Trinity is another one of those topics that missionaries today tend to stay away from, most of them, to be honest, don't have the theological training to really understand the doctrine, much less explain it to others, much less defend it. I said that we believe in the Trinity because the Gospel says that God is love. For God to be love from all eternity means that the essence of God is relational: the essence of God is nothing other than the relationality of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I recited the Orthodox phrase several times: Allah Waahid, mutasawwi fil jawhar, wa ghayr munfasil: One God, co-equal in essence, inseparable. God is eternally loving, and indeed God is love, something that we can believe because we believe in the Trinity. It is not a quality of God, but the very being of God.

Whereupon I was asked about the Holy Spirit, and I replied that our souls are sick and broken, and God desiring us to be holy and righteous, but knowing that we are not able to accomplish this by our own power, has offered to give us his Spirit to dwell within us and empower us to be righteous.

This was a fairly lengthy conversation. We talked about lots of other things. But it was a pretty all-encompassing sort of discussion. Both of these guys are really thinking about the claims of the Gospel and Jesus.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

BBC: Global Crisis to Strike by 2030

Sounds about right. Look for increasing disintegration of the power of the nation state as (white) Europe continues to NOT have children and simultaneously become more Islamic, and as different Muslim ethnic communities and perhaps even African immigrant groups vie for influence and power we will see more violence.

Huge pressures (lack of fresh water, food, and fuel--as in this video) will lead to immense migration from African and S. Asia into Europe and on a lesser scale the Americas. Look for parts of Europe to resemble the Lebanese civil war (Christians v. Muslims), and then after that Muslims (Lebanese Sunni) v. Muslims (Palestinian Shi'a).

And watch this video, very good stuff: BBC

Steve Scott on Ecclesiastes

A reflection from Steve at From the Pew:

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen, that it is from the hand of God. Ecclesiastes 2:24

I have been reading the book of Ecclesiastes lately, and have been pondering it for a while now. Being out of work and trying to decide what more to do in life, what to do next, why do it at all, I keep coming back to certain sayings in the book that have long given me a sense that there is something missing. There are several verses that say something similar to this one. These are Solomon's versions of Miller Time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Social Services in the UK: Conniving with Terror

Londonistan is coming, get ready.

Hannah had good reason for this doubt. When, at school, she had finally summoned the courage to tell a teacher that her father had been beating her (she couldn’t bring herself to reveal the sexual abuse), the social services sent out a social worker from her own community. He chose not to believe Hannah and, in effect, shopped her to her father, who gave her the most brutal beating of her life. When she later confronted the social worker, he said: “It’s not right to betray your community.”

Hannah blames what is sometimes called political correctness for this debacle: “My teachers had thought they were doing the right thing, they thought it showed ‘cultural sensitivity’ by bringing in someone from my own community to ‘help’, but it was the worst thing they could have done to me. This happens a lot.

“When I’ve been working with girls who were trying to get out of an arranged marriage, or want to convert to Christianity, and they have contacted social services as they need to get out of their homes, the reaction has been ‘we’ll send someone from your community to talk to your parents’. I know why they are doing this, they are trying to be understanding, but it’s the last thing that the authorities should do in such situations.”

From the Times Online.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Yemen, soon to be a failed state like Somalia?

Worrying news about Yemen from here.

"Yemen is not a failed state, but it is on the brink of becoming so," said one diplomat on condition of anonymity. "It could go over very rapidly because of mounting problems."

According to analyst Brian O'Neill, writing last year in the Jamestown Foundation publication "Terrorism Monitor", Yemen faces "three rebellions".

In addition to the jihadist threat, there is also a latent Zaidi sect revolt in the Shiite-majority mountainous north sandwiched between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Sunni southern Yemen, where secessionism also still ferments.

Please pray for Yemen and the believers there, for strength and fruitfulness in the midst of a very difficult situation.

The New EU Equality Law

From HERE:

The EU equality law that will let "upset" atheists sue companies that hang crucifixes in public places - including hospices - could provoke civil action. Any group offering a service to the public, including hospitals, charities, businesses and prisons, could be at risk. Legislation may also allow Christians to bring an action against a hotel if it displayed something they deemed offensive - such as a poster for the 1979 Monty Python film "The Life Of Brian". The Church of England says hospices or charities for the homeless could face legal action if people using their services felt degraded by their religious practices or symbols, such as the cross. The Archbishops' Council even fears that charities could be challenged by atheists if grace is said before meals. The Law Society says religious believers may also be able to launch a civil action for harassment.

I am guessing the Muslims will neither use this law (though I could be wrong), nor will they abide by it. I am thinking of this one mosque in a UK city where they have a 'restaurant' open for lunch, it is behind the mosque (not inside it) and it offers yummy food for cheap. I don't recall ever seeing any religious symbols there, but you know the mosque has written on it "La ilah illa Allah" (There is no god but Allah). It is written in Arabic, but hey, I understand it and see it all the time. Does this mean I could sue them since I understand the statement within an Islamcis context as denying the deity of Christ, which is turely does according to most Muslims in the world? How stupid...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jesus' Apostles in the Qur'an

Great little summary here:

The Qurʾān mentions only two events involving the apostles of Jesus. In q 5:112 the apostles ask Jesus to have God send down a table of food to satisfy their hunger and strengthen their faith. Jesus agrees to do so, but warns them that, because they have witnessed such a confirmation of faith, God will tolerate no future deviation from faith on their part. The second instance takes place at the end of Jesus' mission. When he is under attack from unbelievers, his apostles testify to the constancy of their faith in him. Jesus asks, “Who will be my helpers to God?” His apostles answer, “We are God's helpers! We believe in God and do you bear witness that we are Muslims. Our lord! We believe in what you have revealed and we follow the messenger. Then write us down among those who bear witness ( q 3:52-3).” One final passage probably refers to the apostles of Jesus and his other followers: “We sent… Jesus the son of Mary (q.v.), and bestowed on him the Gospel (q.v.); and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy” ( q 57:27).

Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, Apostle (Washington DC: Brill)

Friday, March 06, 2009

A note from me

Like Pearljam says, I'm still alive. But yeah, very hectic last few days. Back in Scotland for a very short amount of time to get many, many things done. But the point is that things are going well. The leg also is improving--thanks for your prayers! Will get back to normal blogging next week some time, in sha' allah.

Meanwhile, Joey Shaw has a question about Muslims and the Catholic Catechism, share your thoughts THERE.

And Don has a nice summary of Augustine's City of God, which you can read HERE. A selection:

But it’s a given for Augustine that the state will be involved in religion, one way or another, and that the Church and its people must deal with it
effectively one way or another. It’s tempting to think that we’re past such involvement with our modern secular states, but both the rise of militant secularism and Islamicism should caution us not to be so smug about our age. Augustine lived in an age where the Roman state reached into every corner of life, and given the broad (and broadening) role of the state in our own lives, his view of the state deserves another hearing, at least.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bernard Lewis on Jesus and Muhammad

There is a vast difference--I mean no disrespect by using this expression--between the foundation myths of the two major religions. The founders of both came into conflict with Jews, but in those conflicts one lost, the other won. That made a profound difference to the perception of of Jews in their sacred history...

Lewis, Bernard. 2004. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. p 67.