Thursday, April 30, 2009

Migration and Mission and Andrew Walls

The great new fact of our time—and it has momentous consequences for mission—is that the great migration has now gone into reverse. There has been a massive movement, which all indications suggest will continue, from the non-Western to the Western world. […] The increase in population growth will be concentrated in the areas least able to sustain it, leading to irresistible pressures for migration.

Andrew Walls, 'Mission and Migration: The Diaspora Factor in Christian History' in The Journal of African Christian Thought, Vol 5:2, Dec 2002.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Three Classes of Knights Hospitallers

Thus the Order of St. John imperceptibly became military without losing its eleemosynary character. The statutes of Roger de Moulins (1187) deal only with the service of the sick; the first mention of military service is in the statutes of the ninth grand master, Alfonso of Portugal (about 1200). In the latter a marked distinction is made between secular knights, externs to the order, who served only for a time, and the professed knights, attached to the order by a perpetual vow, and who alone enjoyed the same spiritual privileges as the other religious. Henceforth the order numbered two distinct classes of members: the military brothers and the brothers infirmarians. The brothers chaplains, to whom was entrusted the divine service, formed a third class.

From, of course.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Four Ranks of the Knights Templar

Notwithstanding the austerity of the monastic rule [based on the Cistercian reform of the Benedectine Rule], recruits flocked to the new order, which thenceforth comprised four ranks of brethren:

-the knights, equipped like the heavy cavalry of the Middle Ages;
-the serjeants, who formed the light cavalry;

and two ranks of non-fighting men:

-the farmers, entrusted with the administration of temporals;
-and the chaplains, who alone were vested with sacerdotal orders, to minister to the spiritual needs of the order.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Islamic Future

A Hebrew Benediction?

Interesting benediction here, what are your opinions?

Now may our God and Father, who has anointed for us a King and Priest and Prophet in Jesus of Nazareth, anoint us also with his Spirit that we might proclaim boldly and clearly that the Kingdom of God is near.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grace, salvation, and election

I thought this was splendid, correct, clear, and biblical:

1. Fallen Humanity is affected, even fatally wounded, in every part of its nature due to the original sin of our primal Parents.
2. Without God taking the initiative with prevenient grace, we cannot freely choose salvation.
3. Forgiveness of sins cannot ever be earned by us at all.
4. Forgiveness is solely earned by Christ and Him crucified.
5. We receive forgiveness of sins by penitent, living faith (which faith includes, at least implicitly, obedient acceptance of the requirement for Baptism precisely because Christ has ordained it), and are thus declared and considered innocent of sin by God, and thus not liable to condemnation and thus eternal punishment.
6. This saving faith is a pure gift of God and cannot be earned by us any more than forgiveness can (see 3). It includes trust in God’s mercy through Christ toward us.
7. This faith does, however, involve an act of will by us, our will being enabled and “freed” by prevenient grace (see 2 and 6).
8. At the same time we are forgiven, we receive an inner transformation by grace, which is connected to a renewed identity. (NB: Inasmuch as the gracious forgiveness subsists in the Divine will, within the eternal and foreknowing love of God, it precedes causally and temporally the inner transformation. Inasmuch as the forgiveness is an experienced reality subsisting in the human subject, it depends on faith in those capable of it, which depends on the inner transformation of the human will spoken of here and in 6 and 7.)
9. This renewal and the continual aid of God's Spirit enables further acts of obedience and growth in grace.
10. The aforementioned acts of obedience, also known as “good works”, receive heavenly (or even, according to God's will, earthly) reward, based on the gracious divine promise. They please God, and demonstrate the reality of our living faith.
11. But they do not transfer us from darkness to light (see 3), or in themselves strictly earn any reward as if they were intrinsically morally perfect insofar as the acts proceed from us, or as if they availed with God other than in the context of His mercy (which includes simultaneously not imputing sins).
12. The salvific process described above (see 5 onwards) can be initiated, (a) before baptism if living faith (which faith is by nature also penitent and informed by love of God) is present, or (b) after baptism if baptism was originally received “in bad faith” or impenitently or insincerely.

From HERE.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prayer requests

Hi All,

Will be doing some outreach in a sensitive locale that is 100% Muslim, please pray for safety and fruit for me and my co-workers.

Also, continue to pray for a full recovery. The leg is not really getting better...I mean the bone seems completely healed, but I am still not walking well.

--Abu Daoud

St Augustine was half-Berber

Yep, his mother's name, Monica, is a Berber name, not a Latin or Greek one. Cool.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Victory for Religious Freedom in Egypt (kinda)

In Egypt there are three, and only three, official religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. And what if you are Baha'i? There are a few of them there, no many, but a few. Now they can have their national id cards (very central to everything in life in Eg.) without their religion on it, only a "--". It is a minor victory. One would hope they could just get their religion on the card or have religions removed from all id cards, but no.

The big test will come in the following months as Christians who were born in Muslim families try to change their religion, or perhaps simply not have it mentioned. Right now, Christians who converted to Islam, but then reverted to Christianity can have "Christian, formerly declared Islam as his religion" written on their cards.

Let us hope and pray for more religious freedom. Read about it here:

Egyptians win the right to drop religion from ID cards

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tourism in Saudi Arabia (that's a joke)

I believe that KSA is the only major country in the world that does not have a tourist visa. You can get other kinds, like religious or professional or (I have heard) a transit visa, for those long drives from, say, Aqaba (Jordan) to Sana'a (Yemen). But some smart guy over at the Saudi Government has had an idea--that Saudi tourism will create 900,000 jobs. How silly is this? Read and enjoy:

Tourism In Saudi?

Can I ask what in the world would a tourist do in Saudi? This is totally besides Mekkah and Madinah, we can understand that millions of Muslims would come to these areas. But I can't help but choke on the word 'tourism' in relation to Saudi. What in the world will they see?

The wonderful zoos? oh sorry there aren't any
Water parks? uhhh nope wrong country none in Saudi
The wonderful oceans and the included activities? uhhhh only if you include garbage and more garbage and limited activities especially for women. But you can scuba dive in Jeddah.
The big grand amusement parks? well the ones they have are emergency room visits waiting to happen.
The green luscious lands? oh sorry wrong country
Movies? Nope sorry
Museums? not exactly
Wildlife? only thing that comes close to wildlife are kids

ohhhh Malls yes plenty of those closed until 4pm but life as a night walker is good in a mall a/c, lights, too many people on the weekends. Yea I would fly to another country for a good mall (ok that is a lie)


Full Works (English) of Abouna Zakaria Botros

Here is the complete list of the works of Abouna Zakaria Botros, the great apologist and polemicist. A splendid man whom I have been honored to meet.

Here are all his works, well, the ones that have been translated into English at least.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Watch out what you ask for...

Watch what you ask for...
by Abu Daoud

You might actually get it. You know this saying, it's pretty well-circulated really.

I think of this today--let me tell you why. I entered the place of business of a friend of mine. Today is Friday, like Sunday for Christians, a day of observance and worship, but here in my city some of the businesses are open. He was reading (or chanting actually) the Qur'an when I entered his place of business. I sat down and waited for him to finish, which he promptly did.

And then he reached for the little Bible I had given him some months ago, and said, "The Messiah said, 'I have not come to bring peace, but to bring a sword!' What does this mean?" I had given him the Bible hoping he would read, and perhaps some of your prayed for him because I had asked you to, and he was reading it!

But this is hardly an easy saying of Jesus; it speaks of the division of families. My brain was working at full speed, not only scanning my ability to interpret this Scripture, but also how to explain this all in Arabic. The explanation I gave him is not the important thing (that Jesus as a prophet knew that the truth brings division, even persecution, because sometimes people hate the truth, and he had brought a message of truth from God), but that he was reading, and indeed, truly grappling with the meaning of the words of Messiah.

Then his friend entered and said hello. He asked, "Have you asked him about the sword thing?" I explained myself again.

I had given them a Bible and they indeed had read it. Not so much like they read the Qur'an, which is more of a spiritual recitation that does not focus on the meaning of the words, but really trying to understand this message of Jesus.

Pray for these two friends, and pray for me, that we might have wisdom and be led by God into all truth.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

--Abu Daoud

Saudi Martyrs

Saudi girl executed for becoming Christian

A young girl in Saudi Arabia was brutally executed by her Muslim father this week after he learned his daughter had converted to Christianity.

Middle East business news website reported that the man, who is a prominent member of a "virtue committee," first cut out his daughter's tongue and held a one-sided religious debate with her. He then burned his daughter alive.

Observant Muslims hold that their Prophet Mohammed taught that Muslims who convert to any other religion must be killed, often in extremely brutal fashion.

From HERE.

I would really like to know if anyone knows the name of this young lady who was martyred for her faith.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kingdom of Jordan has plans for new railway

Well, Jordan has some great new plan, it really could work I think. If--and this is a big if--the bidding process is really transparent and honest. Which is a big IF in Jordan. That having been said, I wish the Kingdom the best of luck in this new endeavor. Heaven knows they have a real problem with unemployment (25%) and rising fundamentalism.

AMMAN (AFP) — Jordan plans to begin work on a six-billion-dollar railway next year to bolster trade with its neighbours and create jobs for its cash-strapped population, Transport Minister Sahl Majali told AFP in an interview.

"The 4.5-billion-dinar project is vital to Jordan because it will make freight movement faster and easier, cut transportation costs and boost trade," Majali said on Tuesday.

"It will also create massive job opportunities for Jordanians."

The railway would link the Red Sea port of Aqaba with the Syrian border, through Amman and then the industrial city of Zarqa -- the two largest cities in the largely desert country.

Extending some 1,600 kilometres (about 990 miles), the railway would also link the Saudi and Iraqi borders with Jordan's northern city of Irbid and the northeastern towns of Mafraq and Azraq.

Work will begin next year and is scheduled to be completed by 2013, Majali said. The focus will initially be on freight services, with passenger trains planned for the future. [...]


So which is growing faster? Islam or Christianity?

Well, it depends on how you measure faster. Let me also note something important: some of the Pentecostal growth is growth for Pentecostal Christianity, but not Christianity as one religion, since those folks are also leaving (often) some other kind of Christianity, mainly Roman Catholicism.

In fact, and perhaps counterintuitively, the number of new Christians each year outstrips the number of new Muslims, even though the annual growth rate is higher for Muslims (1.81 percent) than for Christians (1.23 percent). Over the last century, Christians have grown at a slower rate than have Muslims, with Muslims increasing from 12 percent to 21 percent of the global population during that time. But this is hardly surprising. Christianity has more total followers than Islam.

From HERE.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Highest Percentage of Muslims in the New World?

Which country in the New World has the most Muslims as a percentage of the population?

Leave your answer in the comment section. I will answer the question after a good number of answers.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Dark Side of Dubai

This is a very excellent and interesting article on the present state of the Emirate of Dubai. Pretty amazing. It is a long article, but is very well-written and engaging. Most interesting to me was the part about the environment and the sewage being pumped out into the sea, which, of course, is where people swim while they are there on vacation.

Also new to me was the info about the carbon footprint, which is very high per capita bc of the huge amount of energy used for desalination.

[One hotel employee talks about the beaches:]"It started like this. We began to get complaints from people using the beach. The water looked and smelled odd, and they were starting to get sick after going into it. So I wrote to the ministers of health and tourism and expected to hear back immediately – but there was nothing. Silence. I hand-delivered the letters. Still nothing."

The water quality got worse and worse. The guests started to spot raw sewage, condoms, and used sanitary towels floating in the sea. So the hotel ordered its own water analyses from a professional company. "They told us it was full of fecal matter and bacteria 'too numerous to count'. I had to start telling guests not to go in the water, and since they'd come on a beach holiday, as you can imagine, they were pretty pissed off." She began to make angry posts on the expat discussion forums – and people began to figure out what was happening. Dubai had expanded so fast its sewage treatment facilities couldn't keep up. The sewage disposal trucks had to queue for three or four days at the treatment plants – so instead, they were simply drilling open the manholes and dumping the untreated sewage down them, so it flowed straight to the sea. [...]

HT to JS, the complete article by Johann Hari is over at The Independent. Kudos to them for this excellent journalism.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Sign of Jonah and the Gentile Mission

From an older article at SFM, suggesting that the "sign of Jonah" is related not only to Jesus' being buried in the tomb (and this is Holy Saturday, which is why this caught my interest), but also to the influx of Gentiles into the Church, just as Jonah's message brought about the repentance of the Ninevites.

We have suggested (at least) a three-fold meaning for the “sign of
Jonah” expression in Matthew 16, and now we must ask questions
about the application of these insights to ministry in the Arab world

The Sign of Jonah qua influx of gentiles. Matthew uses this story
about the sign of Jonah to teach and encourage his readers, who are
experiencing a large influx of Gentiles into their communities, that
in spite of the hectic and difficult aspects of the situation it is actu-
ally a messianic sign and a fulfillment of prophecy. In other words,
Matthew, in his own way, is accomplishing what Paul does through
more explicit writing about the mystery of the church that, to every-
one’s surprise, is growing rapidly amongst the gentiles.

Read it all here.

New Links

John Stringer, the editor of Saint Francis Magazine (which regularly condescends to publish my unconventional missiological articles), has a blog, which I highly recommend. It has been added as a link over on the right-hand side menu dealy.

Updike: Seven Stanzas at Easter

I always post this at Easter. I really love this poem:

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
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-mache,
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.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Unemployment in Arab World a 'Time Bomb'

This is what Sam Huntington called the demogrpahy time bomb I think. A large number of unmarried young men looking for jobs all at once, and now the job market is actually shrinking. What will the be the first government to fall? It will happen sooner or later, unless they all just leave for Europe, which may well happen:

Unemployment in Arab world a 'time bomb'

Head of Arab Labor Organization warns of growing layoff rates in Gulf states, says staggering unemployment projections may prove perilous to some of region's governments.

The global financial crisis has had a serious effect on job demands in the Arab world, as experts define the bleak employment situation in many Mideast nations as a "ticking time bomb" for some of the region's regimes.

Future projections as to the job market's prospects, as noted in an Arab Labor Organization conference held in Jordan this week, were dismal. Ahmed Luqman, director general of the group, predicted that 2009 and 2010 may see as many as 3.6 million to 5 million Arabs become unemployed.

Arab countries' growth rate in 2009 to be lower than 4%, according to estimates voices at a financial conference in Dubai. However, Gulf states will be able to overcome crisis due to high foreign currency reserves accumulated in 2008

According to Luqman, unemployment rates in the Arab world may reach 17% by the end of 2010 – spanning 22 million people. [...]

From HERE.

HT to John Stringer

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Theology of the "Altar Call"

...the meagerness of our [evangelical] ritual language and our purgation of sacrificial imagery from the central sacrificial context of the Eucharist, instituted by our Lord himself, has led on the one hand to a sort of semi-Gnostic pilgrimage to the latest Christian fad, but also, because the ritual sacrifice is in our very marrow, to the invention of our own ritual—the altar call. So it is that in churches which have no altars and do not call the Eucharist a sacrifice of any kind that people walk up to the altar (aka, stage) and offer themselves up to God, or ask for his grace to overcome some temptation or sickness of struggle, or ask for the grace of salvation, or what have you.

From HERE.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Communion: like a text message?

What do you think about this statement?

Another challenge to anti-sacramental Christianity is the question, then what happens? If we do not somehow participate in God’s grace, in his love and salvation by means of physical, material things which he has chosen (again, that is the very principle underlying the incarnation—that the Son has already done this), then how do we participate in God’s grace and salvation for us? I am not talking about charging up our grace as if it were a bank account or something like that—that is a most crude and absurd understanding of sacramentality. But the question remains, if there is nothing that happens in the Kingdom when we do these things, then nothing happens. It means that taking communion is just a reminder, a memorial. It does nothing at all that a text message or card in the mail could not.

From HERE.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Five-point Calvinism: a contextualization?

The core of the Christian faith is un-systematized and narrative. It is, like the essence of the triune God, relational above all things. Thus something like the Four Spiritual Laws or five-point Calvinism or Anselm’s theory of penal substitution must be seen as attempts to systematize what is fundamentally relational. They are clothing we place upon the contours of the historical person of Jesus to order in our minds—and indeed our collective mind—his kerygma.

From HERE, pp 10, 11.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

More on Islamic Science...

Great article here on the Islamic heritage of science, and how much of that we owe to Muslims, or perhaps I should say how little. A section:

It is easy to track how Arabic translations of Greek texts from Byzantine manuscripts, often done by non-Muslims, made their way from the Islamic East to Sicily and southern Italy or to the Iberian Peninsula in the Islamic West, where some of them were translated by Christians, for instance in the multilingual city of Toledo in Spain, back to Latin. It is true that some ancient Greek texts were reintroduced to the West via Arabic, sometimes passing via Syriac or Hebrew translations along the way, but these were usually based, in the end, on Byzantine originals.

John Freely correctly indicates that many of the key translators of scientific works into Arabic such as Hunayn ibn Ishaq and Thabit ibn Qurra were non-Muslims, and he includes a chapter on the important translation movement directly from Byzantium to Italy and Western Europe. These are redeeming features of his book, but he fails to explain why science in the Middle East declined and how the non-Islamic communities of the region shrank. Their shrinking overlapped to a significant degree with the decline of science. Is there a connection between the two?

Islam and the Decline of Greek Culture: A Critical Look at John Freely's Book “Aladdin’s Lamp”

Ibn Warraq on Islam and Science

As Ibn Warraq sums up in Why I Am Not a Muslim:

“[O]rthodox Islam emerged victorious from the encounter with Greek philosophy. Islam rejected the idea that one could attain truth with unaided human reason and settled for the unreflective comforts of the putatively superior truth of divine revelation. Wherever one decides to place the date of this victory of orthodox Islam (perhaps in the ninth century with the conversion of al-Ashari, or in the eleventh century with the works of al-Ghazali), it has been, I believe, an unmitigated disaster for all Muslims, indeed all mankind.”