Friday, December 31, 2010

Religious freedom as the path to peace

Religious freedom expresses what is unique about the human person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life to God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood. To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family.

--Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The UK: A bold leader in the Islamization of Europe

Wow. Check out these numbers! Amazing.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that there are 2,869,000 Muslims in Britain, an increase of 74 per cent on its previous figure of 1,647,000, which was based on the 2001 census. No demographic statistics are reliable in an era of open borders, but such an expansion is unprecedented.

Read the whole article here.

Damian Thompson, commenting on this, rightly asks about the future of women's rights in the UK. Also, we need to acknowledge that the future of gay rights is very dark. How many children do gay couples produce? How many children do liberal couples produce? Many fewer than Muslims do. Also, as countries like Pakistan and Yemen continue to disintegrate look for the numbers of asylum seekers to increase. And then there's always 'family reunion', which is ridiculous (both in the UK and the US). Anyway, demography and immigration make it certain: the future of Western Europe is Islamic.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Dear Readers,

Will you please stop and say a prayer for my new daughter? She was just born yesterday and is in intensive care due to difficulty breathing. Please pray for her healing and for God to be with our family during this difficult time.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Glorious Servants

One thing that is interesting about back in the sending country (note that I don't say being back home, I don't consider this home), is that you find rare people who really become your cheerleaders.

Like there is one old lady at a local church which is rather large and wealthy and she always gets our prayer requests and tries to get us an entrée to speak about our ministry in the ME, and yes, raise funds. She does not seem to be particularly dynamic in her personality, her emails don't end with dramatic Christian sign-off's like 'in Him' or whatever (not that I dislike those), and she doesn't appear to have a very deep knowledge of mission or the Bible or theology. But she is a big supporter, not in terms of her own funds, but in terms advocacy. Without people like her our work would not be possible.

The last six years have been extremely difficult. I sometimes wonder why I'm putting my family through all this. It is encouraging to find people like this unassuming, glorious sister who partner with us by using the resources they have at hand.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Palestine not good to Arab Christians

From Christian Arabs under the thumb of the PA, I have heard testimony of forced marriages of Christian women to Muslim men, death threats against Christians for distributing the Bible to willing Muslims, and Christian women intimidated into wearing traditional ultra-modest Islamic clothing. Churches have been firebombed (most recently in Nablus, Tubas, and Gaza when the Pope made his controversial remarks) and/or shot up repeatedly. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

Under the Palestinian Authority, whose constitution gives Islamic law primacy over all other sources of law, Christian Arabs have found their land expropriated by Muslim thieves and thugs with ties to the PA's land registration office. Christians have been forced to pay bribes to win the freedom of family members jailed on trumped-up charges. And Arabs -- Christians and Muslims alike -- have been selling or abandoning homes and businesses to escape the chaos of the PA and move to Israel, Europe, South America, North America, or wherever they can get a visa.

From HERE: 'A Christian-free Holy Land' by Justus Weiner.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Kathryn Kraft on converts from Islam and community

The most recent issue of St Francis Magazine (volume 6:6) just came out. You can browse the contents here. I am particularly interested in Kraft's article entitled 'Faith is live out in community: Questions of new community for Arab Muslims who have embraced a Christian faith'. You can DL the entire article HERE. And of course you can download the entire volume 6:6 HERE. I have been busy (extremely busy) with many other things, so I have nothing in this issue of SFM, alas.

Kraft makes some great points, based on real field work, and not just hearsay and anecdotes, which makes her research all the more valuable in my sight. For example:

As the number of converts in a region grows and the group also grows, a different set of challenges presents itself, and enthusiasm and commitment can decrease as people become more anonymous. There is often a subsequent loss of cohesiveness (Pitchford, Bader and Stark 2001:385-386). One man, who is one of the most experienced known converts in the city where he lives, has seen the number of converts grow from almost none to a group that is too large to keep together. He
sees that there is good in having different groups for different types of people, but also misses the cohesiveness that he felt when there were few converts [...]

A Prayer of St John Saba: O Christ, Treasure of all Goodly Things

Monday, November 15, 2010

Translation and Conversion in Bangladesh

The Bengalis of East Pakistan in 1971 rebelled against the dominance of ethnic groups of West Pakistan and created Bangladesh. They also rejected Christianity as Western and rejected the Bengali Bible which used Hindu rather than Muslim terms and even used different names for Bible characters than Muslims used for the same people. When the New Testament was translated using Muslim friendly Bengali terms and was labeled the Injil Sharif (their name for it), it became the best-selling book in the country. What attracted Muslims to Christ was learning that the Injil Sharif identified him as the mediator between God and humans, but it was easier for them to follow him when they learned that they could use the forms of worship with which they were familiar.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Part XXII: Iranian Christianity

Part XXII: Iranian Christianity
by Abu Daoud
November 2010

That Muslims are converting to Christianity in numbers unprecedented throughout history comes as a (welcome) surprise to most Christians in the West. Every now and then I find someone who has heard about one of these movements, like the tens of thousands of Berbers in Algeria who in the last two decades have converted, or the hundreds each year who are baptized into the Catholic Church in countries like France and Italy. Or perhaps they have heard of the experimental laboratory that is Bangladesh, where there are groups of people who call themselves Christ-followers but don’t use the term Christian or Muslim to refer to themselves.

But one of the most numerically significant movements of Muslims to Christianity is among Iranians. I am not talking about people with Iranian citizenship who come from ethnic groups which are traditionally Christian (Armenians and Assyrians), but about the large ethnic group whose ancestors were Zoroastrians and slowly but surely, century by century converted to Islam. Today there are very few Zoroastrians left in Iran.

While I have spent most of the last five years in the Arab world, I have of course occasionally spent time in the US and the UK for multiple reasons—conferences, education, vacation, weddings, and so on. And during that time I have had the pleasure of meeting with many Iranian Christians. Some of them are brand new believers, just-baptized, some of them converted decades ago and are seasoned leaders in their churches. Some left Iran under favorable circumstances, while many left Iran as political, economic, or religious refugees. Some of them converted while still in Iran, some of them after their departure. I want to outline here a couple of things I have noticed about Iranian Christianity in the Diaspora.

First, this is a new church. If you have an Egyptian or Palestinian who comes to Christ, they are able to look back to their ancestry and say, ‘I had Christian ancestors, I’m returning to something ancient.’ And that can be important from a psychological and emotional point of view. Knowing that can bring them strength and encouragement. But Iranians never were Christians. So the churches they are forming and the sort of Christianity they are constructing is genuinely something brand new, and not simply a newer version of something ancient.

Second, Iranian Christianity preserves Iranian culture and identity. Iranians who become Christians tend to be critical of Islam to some extent. Many of them identify it with Arab culture and thus as something imported from afar, and ultimately something that degraded Persian culture. Most of their children have Persian names, and not Arabic ones. On the other hand, they continue to celebrate the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) with its rich traditions, because it is pre-Islamic.

Third, it is non-denominational. While these Christians by and large are evangelical and perhaps charismatic, there is no one denomination or Christian tradition that dominates the movement. On the plus side this means that Christians from many different churches and denominations are able to bring their ideas and spiritualities to the table. The down side is that personal differences among leaders can sometimes lead to divisions that probably did not need to happen. Over the years I have been in touch with Iranian Christians who are Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, as well as some who don’t belong to any one denomination. In spite of all this diversity, the good news is that the churches and leaders tend to stay in touch and consult together by means of meetings, conferences, the web, and so on.

Fourth, Iranian Christianity is facing huge challenges. The most obvious one is persecution within Iran, but there are others too. How does one train leaders when it is impossible to open a seminary (in Iran)? How can churches and leaders remain accountable to each other when they belong to so many different denominations? Will the prosperity gospel lead to a bitter split among their churches? And what to do with the second generation, who are born in the West and perhaps feel more at home in a normal English- or German-speaking church?

Nonetheless, the story of Iranian Christianity is exciting and inspiring. We can now very realistically speak of hundreds of thousands of Iranian Christians around the world, and a substantial population in Iran itself. But as the church grows, opposition increases too. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Remember the Iranian Church in your prayers. It is the new-comer to global Christianity, but one with a lot of energy, but a lot of difficulties to face as well.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mallouhi on being a Muslim disciple of Christ

I was born into a confessional home. Islam is the blanket with which my mother wrapped me up when she nursed me and sang to me and prayed over me. I imbibed aspects of Islam with my mother’s milk. I inherited Islam from my parents and it was the cradle which held me until I found Christ. Islam is my mother. You don’t engage a person by telling them their mother is ugly.

--Mazhar Mallouhi

Monday, November 01, 2010

Ps 51 in Arabic

The aesthetics of the Byzantine Arabic tradition are, in my opinion, far superior to anything we have seen in the West in the last 400 years or so.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kraft on ex-Muslim Christians and the Second Generation

Child rearing emerged as the single most important theme in identity crises facing
Muslim-background Arabs who choose to embrace a Christian faith. While facing
personal challenges confidently, such as those that we have already discussed, many expressed a sense of inner torture when talking about raising their children. Because of the strong patrilineal source of identity in Arab countries, children of converts are generally expected to be Muslim, not Christian, and therefore the child of a convert to Christianity is actually a Muslim being raised as a Christian. At the very least, s/he may be a Christian who knows that s/he is different. Most of the challenges that converts face, their children also face. In addition, parents are concerned because their children are facing those challenges without any personal conviction that Christian faith is better than Muslim faith or that a different identity is worth fighting for. One couple, who was expecting their first child when I met them, said that they are afraid for their child's future, and had actually prayed that the wife might not be able to have children.

Kathryn Kraft, Community and Identity Among Arabs of a Muslim Background who Choose to Follow a Christian Faith, 2007, PhD diss, p 190.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pope wants religious freedom in Middle East

Another contribution that Christians can bring to society is the promotion of an authentic freedom of religion and conscience, one of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect. In numerous countries of the Middle East there exists freedom of belief, while the space given to the freedom to practice religion is often quite limited. Increasing this space of freedom becomes essential to guarantee to all the members of the various religious communities the true freedom to live and profess their faith. This topic could become the subject of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue whose urgency and usefulness was reiterated by the Synodal Fathers.

From here.

Am tired and it's late for comments on my part. But this is great stuff!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Riots in France and 'immigrant youths'

From Esther over at Islam in Europe, a great blog:

Yesterday I posted an article about the French rioters, many of whom are disaffected youth from the ghettos. Today a reader sent me two more articles which point the finger at North-African Muslim youth.

Ivan Rioufol, of Le Figaro, wrote the following on his blog (FR):

All students are obviously not rioters. But the rioters of the past few days - and Wednesday morning again in the center of Lyon - are indeed students. They are, mainly, from the ghettos. The hooded people aren't marching to defend retirement at 60, or even the welfare system which enticed their parents or grandparents.

They're there to battle the Republic, its culture and it's most visible symbols: the security forces, the schools. That's why a school was burned down in Mans. The scenes of urban guerrilla warfare that they're reproducing are very similar to the images of the intifada of the young Palestinians confronting the Israeli forces. Comparisons are misleading, but these ethnic insurrections of youth who are often of Muslim culture, also reject the state seen as a colonizer and oppressor. These wild people, each time more intrepid and organized, remind us of the failure of their integration.

These raids contradict the lullabies which assure us that France controls immigration. "Integration works," says, for example former assistant of PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Hakim El Karoui (LeMonde, 10-11 October).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Algerian Christians Acquitted of Eating During Ramadan

I always enjoy reading through the semi-monthly publication Mission Catalyst. The folks there gather together snippets of mission-related news from around the world, email it to you, and give you the links so you can read the complete story if you like. Really a valuable service. Thanks!

In today's issue which I just got in my inbox, there is an interesting story about tolerance in Algeria, may God prospoer that country and the church there. Here is a part of it:

The incident took place in Ain El-Hammam, a town in the province of Tizi Ouzou about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Algerian capital. Tizi Ouzou is part of Kabylie, an area of Algeria where the country’s Protestant church has grown with relative freedom in recent years.

Officers at a nearby police station saw the two men eating and confronted them for not fasting. When police realized the two men were Christians, they accused them of insulting Islam, according to local French-language press reports.

“I do not apologize for anything, and I regret nothing,” Fellak said before the verdict, according to Dernieres Nouvelles d’Algerie. “I have the right to not fast. I am a Christian, and until found guilty, the Algerian constitution guarantees respect for individual freedoms.”

The rest of the story is here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Muslims, Jews, and the Nobel Prize

Interesting factoid here:

Apart from political leaders, a reasonably diligent reader of a quality newspaper in the West will not be able to name a single Muslim distinguished in any field of human endeavor. Excluding the politically awarded Peace Prize, Muslims have won only three Nobel prizes since their inception more than a century ago, or one for every 450 million Muslims alive today. By contrast, there have been 169 Jewish Nobel Laureates (excluding the Peace Prize), or about one for every 89,000 Jews alive today. During the past century, a Jew was 5,000 times more likely to win the Nobel than a Muslim.

From Spengler at Asia Times.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grammatical Errors in the Qur'an

A very nice, concise list is presented here, courtesy of some Orthodox Christians, no less. If you don't know Arabic then, well, it won't help you much, but if you do, it's quite nice:

Although the Qur’an states that it is in clear perfect Arabic tongue (al-Nahl 16: 103; al-Shu’ara’ 26: 195; al-Zumar 39: 28; al-Shura 42: 7; al-Zukhruf 43: 3), it could not be considered perfectly eloquent because of its imperfect Arabic grammar, its usage of foreign words, and its spelling errors. It contains many grammatical errors. The following are a few examples of these errors: al-Ma’idah 5: 69 (the Arabic word Alsabeoun should be Alsabieen); al-Baqarah 2: 177 (the Arabic word alsabireen should be alsabiroon); al-Imran 3: 59 (the Arabic word fayakoon should be fakaana); al-Baqarah 2: 17, 80, 124; al-A’raf 7: 56 (the Arabic word qaribun should be qaribtun); al-A’raf 7: 160 (the Arabic word asbatan should be sebtan); Ta Ha 20: 63 (the Arabic phrase Hazani Lasaherani should be Hazaini Lasahirieni); al-Hajj 22: 19 (the Arabic phrase ikhtasamu fi rabbihim should be ikhtasama fi rabbihima); al-Tawbah 9: 62, 69 (the Arabic word kalladhi should be kalladhina); al-Munafiqun 63: 10 (the Arabic word Akon should be Akoon); al-Nisa’ 4: 162 (the Arabic word Almuqimeen should be Almuqimoon); and al-Hujurat 49: 9 (the Arabic word eqtatalu should be eqtatala). Ali Dashti and Mahmud al-Zamakhshari (1075-1144), famous Muslim scholars, noted more than one hundred Quranic aberrations from the normal grammatical rules and structure of the Arabic language (Ali Dashti, Twenty Three Years: A study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad, Allen and Unwin, London, 1985, p. 50).

From The Awakening.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Why won't Muslims in the West defend freedom of religion?

Persuading Western Muslim leaders to repudiate Shari’a-sanctioned violence against apostates can be a frustrating exercise, as Prince Charles discovered in 2004. Troubled by the treatment of Muslims who convert to Christianity in Islamic nations, the prince convened a summit of senior figures from both religious communities. It ended in disappointment. The Islamic representatives failed to issue a declaration condemning the practice, which the Christians had requested; they also cautioned non-Muslims not to discuss such matters in public, arguing that moderates would be more likely to make progress if the debate were kept internal.

From HERE.

I wonder if Imam Rauof of the Ground-zero Mosque would be willing to come and say clearly that apostates from Islam in the Muslim world must be afforded freedom to make such a choice. I bet not.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dear Christians: And you thought Israel was your friend?

Israel is shutting down Christian schools:

At the beginning of this scholastic year, the Greek Orthodox School “Bishop Timotheos” in Kufur Yasif was shut down by the Ministry of Education as it did not supply the license needed to operate. A year ago, the Mar Elias School in Daboria, established by the Greek Catholic Bishop Elias Shackor, was shut down for the same reason. It seems that the decision to disallow the operation of these schools is in keeping with the opposition of the ministers of education over the last few years to schools that are “recognized but not official “, especially those that are Christian


The state raised the banner of pluralism in the education system and in its citizens’ rights to teach their children according to their own world view. In the name of these values it founded public religious schools and acknowledged the existence of schools of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector (Haredi) schools, who receive exaggerated benefits. A discriminatory attitude towards Christian schools that teach the core subjects and whose graduates excel in the matriculation exams should not be taken. Restricting these schools, which are firmly rooted in this land and are a success story, by preventing the opening of new such schools, despite the fact that their existence is a blessing and an element of improvement for the clumsy and tired mechanism of the Ministry of Education, is like shooting ourselves in the foot.

No comment. --Abu Daoud

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Letter to the Pope

Hi All,

Well, I'm not sure he'll every actually read this, but I thought it was worth writing. My letter to the Pope on the topic of Catholic witness to Muslims can be downloaded at St Francis Magazine's website. Or just click HERE for the PDF.

Here is a sample:

The first reform I suggest is regarding Holy Scripture. One of
the most recurrent themes in conversion narratives of Muslims is
the reading of the Bible. Yet how many hundreds of thousands of
emigrants live throughout the West without access to the bible in
their own language? What if parishes in areas with significant
immigrant populations were told they had to have bibles available
in those languages--perhaps Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Pashto, Turkish,
or something else? What if each sleepy Catholic parish became a
de facto source of distribution of Scripture? I am not talking about
proselytism, or even evangelism.

Please pass this on or link to it on your blog or website, especially if you are Catholic. Catholic mission to Muslims today is very weak, and it doesn't need to be like that.

--Abu Daoud

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The first modern Persian MBB martyr

The Presbyterians soon recognized that their plan to have Nestorian Christians evangelize their Muslim countrymen was not working. They then turned their own efforts in this direction, and small numbers of Muslims in Azerbaijan, Arāk, Khorasan, Tehran, and Gīlān did join the Presbyterian church. Indeed, the first Persian Christian martyr of modern times was Mīrzā Ebrāhīm of Ḵᵛoy in western Azerbaijan, a convert from Islam. The mullas tried to make him recant, offering him a comfortable place in one of their shrines, but he refused. After his wife left him, taking with her his children and his property, he was arrested and imprisoned in Tabrīz. When he began preaching to other prisoners he was segregated, and he finally died in prison in 1297/1880 (Elder, pp. 47-49).

From the Encyclopeadia Iranica.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Papal Mass in Glasgow

Because I have some Catholic friends in Scotland, and I happened to be in the UK at the time, I was able to make the papal mass today. It was inspiring in several ways. First, the sermon (which I have not yet found transcribed online) contained some direct challenges to the people present, in terms of not buying the world's narrative of success (sex, money, drugs, porn, fame, etc.), but rather invesitng in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (How evangelical is that!)

Second, one of the hymns actually contains the explicit phrase, 'justified by faith.' Which I loved. Why be afriad of this phrase? This bishop recognizes that there is nothing unbiblical or indeed un-Catholic about this phrase. He embraces it.

Finally, most of the liturgy of the word was in Latin, which I much appreciated, though it surprised me.

May God giver this pastor success during the rest of his sojourn in this United Kingdom.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Coptic Christian on Islam in America

Using America's freedom of religion for the establishment of a religion that holds steadfastly to cutting off freedom of religion and freedom of speech in both principle and practice places the religion of Islam in direct contradiction with the American way of life. American secular culture, informed with Judeo-Christian principles, is heading on a collision course with its foreign antithesis, a culture I am all too familiar with.

Ashraf Ramelah, here.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Sometimes this kind of work is discouraging. Just so you have an idea of how the economy affects everyone, a church (our largest supporter) just notified us that their support for our ministry will decline by 50% beginning next year. That means a pay cut of $800/month. That may not seem like a whole lot, but to us it is. Put that together with the fact we have a baby due early next year, and, well, you get the picture.

In other news, I am off to Scotland later this month and will be there for about two months, working seriously and (let's hope) productively on my dissertation.

Your prayers are coveted. Oh yeah, and I'll be at the Papal Mass.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Of Mosques, Churches and Spanish history: Suigenocide

As noted in Andrew Bostom's essay debunking the just-can't-shake-it myth of Islamic "tolerance" in Muslim Spain, by the middle of the 8th century, the cathedral in Cordoba dedicated to Saint Vincent had been "converted" to a Muslim mosque. However, as 19th-century scholar of Muslim Spain (and Islamophile) Reinhart Dozy writes, this was "clearly an act of spoilation as well as an infraction of the treaty" between Cordoba Christians and the invading Arab Muslims.

All the churches in that city [Cordoba] had been destroyed except the cathedral, dedicated to Saint Vincent, but the possession of this fane [church or temple] had been guaranteed by treaty. For several years the treaty was observed; but when the population of Cordova was increased by the arrival of Syrian Arabs [i.e., Muslims], the mosques did not provide sufficient accommodation for the newcomers, and the Syrians considered it would be well for them to adopt the plan which had been carried out at Damascus, Emesa [Homs], and other towns in their own country, of appropriating half of the cathedral and using it as a mosque. The [Muslim] Government having approved of the scheme, the Christians were compelled to hand over half of the edifice. This was clearly an act of spoliation, as well as an infraction of the treaty. Some years later, Abd-er Rahman I requested the Christians to sell him the other half. This they firmly refused to do, pointing out that if they did so they would not possess a single place of worship. Abd-er Rahman, however, insisted, and a bargain was struck by which the Christians ceded their cathedral.

And so the single remaining church in the city became the Great Mosque of Cordoba. This mosque became a cathedral again in 1236 when King Ferdinand III of Castile recaptured the city from Muslim Moors.
Note, however, in these following thumbnails from recent news accounts of Muslim attempts to take the cathedral back for Islam (I'm not kidding), the fudging or complete omission of the cathedral's Christian origins preceding the establishment of the Great Mosque.

From the Times of London, April 3, 2010, "Muslims arrested for trying to pray in Cordoba's former Great Mosque":

The Great Mosque of Córdoba was converted into a Christian church in 1236 after King Ferdinand III of Castile recaptured the city from the Moors. The building later became the modern-day Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.

Muslim organisations have long campaigned for the right to pray inside the building, which was once one of the biggest mosques in the world.

However, Demetrio Fernández González, the recently appointed Bishop of Córdoba, reinforced a ban on Muslims praying in any part of the 24,000sq m (260,000sq ft) building, saying that canon law did not permit it.

A statement from the bishop’s office said: “The shared use of the cathedral by Catholics and Muslims would not contribute to the peaceful coexistence of the two beliefs.”

The Roman Catholic Church cited archaeological reports that said before the Mosque was built in the 8th century remains of an earlier Christian temple had stood on the same spot.

From HERE. Ah Spain, London, Paris. We must invent a new word for you: suigenocide.

Response to Question at Circumpolar

Over at the blog Circumpolar, which I enjoy reading from time to time, there is an interesting discussion about words like contextualization, syncretism, and the question of Muslim followers of Jesus (some of whom would not call themselves Christians). A reader sent me two questions on my comment, and I wrote this is response. It's too long for their comment section, so I'm posting it here. --AD

1. Could you please define how you are using the words "contextualization" and "syncretism" here?

I am using a different definition of contextualization, and I think that it also the meaning that is being used by the seven self-church. The original meaning of contextualization was an extension of indigenization and was understood to be something carried out by the local believers, not by missionaries. Of course missionaries do indeed need to adapt aspects of their communication, that's not new at all. But the actual work of contextualization is primarily the prerogative of the local believers, in conversation both the church of history and other churches in the world. This is the understanding of contextualization advanced by Coe and Schreiter. This is what I cal organic contextualization.

Initially evangelicals didn't like this idea at all, as it came out of the World Council of Churches in the early and mid 70's.

Eventually, though, some did get on board but they started to view it not so much as an historical progression that would take place perhaps decades or even centuries after the initial founding of a church. Rather it was interpreted as a missionary method, something that missionaries could do ahead of time, in advance of the founding of the actual communities. Do you see the difference? It's quite dramatic, I think. So in the older sense of the word (organic) contextualization is an extension and the next step after indigenization (leadership and authority are xfered to the locals).

In the newer sense of the word, which is only used by evangelicals incidentally, this is what I would call directed contextualization.

Now to your question about believers in Jesus who still call themselves Muslims. I would break them down into three categories, though maybe there are more. 1) Those who do this because they don't want to be persecuted. 2) Those who use the term for the sake of evangelism and not burning bridges. 3) Those who genuinely feel and think like Muslims, but with some kind of affection or love for Jesus and faith that he reconciles us to God. I don't know any of the third sort, though I'd be interested in meeting some. Based on my lengthy conversation with our common friend yesterday I *think* he is advocating the second category. That doesn't seem to be what I hear from CG people though.

The only real study of people I've read who might be in category three are the 'Jesus Imandars' in Dhaka by Jorgensen, which is really hard to get (I had to get it from Yale, good grief!) Even there, only a third of the believers would say they are 'muslims', another third said something like 'Muslim followers of Jesus' and the final third would not say they are Muslims at all.

Re Syncretism: I simply mean 'mixing' and I think it is integral to Christianity. The Christmas tree is syncretistic, but it's ok. Modeling worship after a concert is mixing too, and evangelicals love it. So syncretism is, I would say, neutral. There can be good or bad syncretism. But both of the forms of contextualization mentioned above are syncretistic.

Question 2. You said, 'In that [c5] approach the Western missionaries do the 'contextualizing' and then present their version of the 'contextualized' gospel to Muslims.' That is a pretty broad brush-stroke considering that c5 is not a methodology but a system of classifying indigenous "churches." Are you implying that, in your experience, all Muslims who have chosen to follow Jesus and retain their Muslim identity have been spoon-fed this concept?

The two terms 'c5' and 'contextualization' have suffered the same fate. They were removed from their original context and recruited as evangelistic tools. Thus C5 went from being, as you rightly noted, simply a descriptive tool, to being a church-planting strategy. Missionaries decided ahead of time what kind of church their team would plant, maybe c4, maybe c5, and they would tell you, even before their first convert. Does this not match your experience? It sure matches mine.

Spoon fed? That's a little bit stronger term than I would use. It implies a sort of mono-directionality to the relationship between missionary and disciple. I would not say they are spoon-fed it, but they are fed it, or at least offered it and told that's it a good dish. And in the end, Anglican missionaries tend to make Anglican converts, as do baptists and Catholics and Pentecostals. We teach what we know. We try to allow for self-expression and exploration, but for the most part what the missionary suggests is what the disciple will believe. If the missionary suggests, you can or you should continue to call yourself a Muslim, then guess what, he or she probably will.

Hope that helps. --AD

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On the Arrogance of the West

How can it be that the West sits by idly as it is being Islamized? Here is one answer:

These are societies that are able to preen themselves on their sophistication and enlightenment only because they have managed to retire into an arbor of relative peace and considerable opulence. They feel no hazard in inviting the 7th century into the 21rst while deprecating their own traditions, usages, and foundational premises. It should be conceded, however, that the chief culprits in the charade of self-delegitimation derive mainly from the more advantaged and connected strata of society.

From HERE.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Apologetics is holiness and beauty

The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.

Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendour of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church's human history.

If the Church is to continue to transform and humanise the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection?

No. Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty—and hence truth—is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of hell.

Guess who said this...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pakistan Disintegrating?

Bad news for the world, as Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world (fourth, I think, after the India, China, and the US, but don't quote me on that). This is a fine article about why Pakistan has no future.

But fear not, they will go to the UK.

The great fear of the West is Pakistan falling under the control of radical Islamists. The great fear of Pakistan’s leadership is the state fracturing (this is probably #2 for the West – a nuclear Yugoslavia.) But the endemic low level violence suggests another possibility, the state dissolving – a nuclear Somalia.

Medium and Long-Term Dangers
Meanwhile the terrible flooding is testing the capabilities of Pakistan’s institutions and they are failing. Their record at providing immediate relief is mediocre. But the floods have destroyed Pakistan’s crops, so that the country (which is already broke) will be forced to buy or beg food abroad. It will be several years before Pakistan’s agricultural production will return to their previous levels – so food shortages will be an ongoing problem. Even without the crisis food security was a problem in Pakistan. In addition, cotton crops, essential to Pakistan’s major export industry – textiles – have also been devastated. All of this can only further weaken an already precarious economy.

From The Terror Wonk, a blog that is new to me.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tidbits from Iran

Well, you thought I only was up to date on missions in the Arab world....wrong.

I have been spending a good amount of time lately with people connected to ministry to Iranians, both in country and in the huge Iranian diaspora. You get juicy tidbits of news from time to time. For example:

+Iranians are more and more using traditional Persian names for their kids (Cyrus, Darius), rather than the Arab names you hear in the news (Mahmood, Aali, etc.)

+One lay minister estimated to me that 70% of Iranians don't believe in Islam. maybe half of those are secularists, the other half are looking for some other way to live in God's presence.

+Some young Iranians are trying to purge their language of Arabicisms. So rather than using the Arabic greeting 'salam' they will use Persian phrases.

+One man told me he used the phrase 'in sha' allah' (Arabic, but commonly used by Muslims all around the world), and she corrected him, you must say God willing (in Farsi, not Arabic).

+Some people ask, are you Iranian or Muslim?

+I have a pretty good idea of the number of MBB's in Iran, it is sizable. But sometimes it is best not to publish such numbers on the internet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Persian Martyrs of Iran

Chronologically, these martyrs are: Rev. Arastoo Sayah, Muslim convert (1979); Brother Bahram Dehqani-Tafti, Muslim convert (1980); Brother Manuchehr Afghani, Muslim convert (1988 - ICI only learned of this martyrdom in 1995); Rev. Hossein Soodmand, Muslim convert (1990); Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, Evangelical Armenian (1994); Rev. Mehdi Dibaj, Muslim convert (1994); Rev. Tateos Mikaelian, Evangelical Armenian (1994); and Brother Mohammad Yousefi, Muslim convert (1996). After 1996, dozens of generally unknown Iranian Muslim convert Christians have disappeared and have been martyred.

From here.

Fitzgerald on 'We are here to stay'

From HERE. Read it all:

Listen carefully to Muslim rhetoric in this country and elsewhere in the West. It is always not-quite-what-it-seems-to-be: we hear, for example, the phrase "we are here to stay." What does that ambiguous phrase mean? Is that a rousing sign of loyalty to the American political and legal system? Or is it, rather, an aggressive and defiant expression -- we're here, we're not going anywhere, and we will do exactly as we please, in putting relentless pressure on the American legal and political system, on its educational system, on its social understandings, and will never give up, and don't think about trying to stop us -- because "we're here to stay" and the lands that, for now, you possess do not really belong to you, but belong to Allah and to the "best of peoples," that is, the Muslims. You have only temporary possession, perhaps not even a life estate; the fee simple belongs to us, the Umma, the people who received rightly the message, from the Seal of the Prophets, that Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil), Muhammad. And while some Muslims say no Infidel laws should be obeyed, others, more prudent, think that for now such a demonstration would not be in Islam's best interests. They take a different tack: we will obey your silly manmade Infidel laws insofar as they either do not contradict any part of the Shari'a. And they then add, in a sub-rosa coda meant to be understood only by fellow Muslims: "and only because it makes more sense for now to temporarily do so, in the same spirit of Muhammad treating with the Meccans at Hudaibiyya, that is, insofar as our present relative weakness in the West requires that we temporarily must, in order to bide our time and fortify further our position."

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Oldest Christian Church?

The oldest Christian church?

Archaeologists in Jordan announced on Tuesday the discovery of a cave under the church of St Georgeous in Rihab that they believe was used as far back as between 33 AD to 70 AD to shelter early disciples of Jesus Christ - making it the first Christian church in the world

See all the pics HERE.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Madden: Inventing the Crusades

This is a great little article from Thomas Madden, a professional historian of the Crusades. It appeared in First Things 194 (Summer 2009). I love how he approaches the topic. Here are a few select quotes:

“The truth is that medieval Muslims came to realize the Crusades were religious but had little interest in them. When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory.” (Madden 2009: 43)

“All the Crusades met the criteria of just war.” (42)

“In the Middle East, as in the West, we are left with the gaping chasm between myth and reality [regarding the Crusades].” (44)

“The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism.” (41)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is Jordan falling under the control of Palestinians?

Robert Fisk has a great article here on the rising influence of Palestinians in Jordanian government. While the military leaders in the article are pretty anti-USA and anti-Israel, I think that overall they are really making a good point.

Why Jordan is Occupied by Palestinians

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Are Christians trained to hate Islam? (And) The lack of creativity in Islamic societies

Salome has an articulate and well-reasoned refutation of Ahmed Deedat's refutation of the Gospel's narrative of the crucifixion. She ends by reporting how Deedat complains that Christians have been trained to hate Islam. I left a comment on her blog:

Deedat will have some accounting to do on the day of the judgment, I suspect. Thanks for writing this.

I also think that Deedat is wrong about Christians being trained to hate Islam. It is true that many, perhaps most, Christians hate or at least dislike Islam, but that is largely a product of what Muslims have done and are doing around the world. If we look for Muslim contributions to art, science, medicine and so on, we are very hard-pressed to find anything at all over the last centuries. Historically, when Muslims did take over such centers of learning as Constantinople and Alexandria the eventual outcome was always decline and stagnation. This will be the future of cities like Paris and London, I suspect.

If one is tempted to point to dar al hikmah in Abbasid Baghdad let me point out that a) the shari'a as it exists today was not yet developed, and b) once the Christians and Jews were properly submitted to Islamic rule and their rights and prerogatives circumscribed, decline was the only option, and indeed that is what happened.

They did not crucify him....but it appeared to them to be so

Well, that is my translation of a famous verse from the Qur'an often cited to refute the charge that Jesus was crucified. It is a very weak verse though because of the obscure Arabic verb used. Also, the 'they' in question refers to Jews, to which any person can respond, indeed, it was the Romans who crucified him, at the behest of the Jews (well, some of them). But these realities aside, the predominant theory in the Muslim world today is that God caused the appearance of Jesus to be cast on someone else (probably Judas Iscariot), who was then crucified in his place. Jesus was saved from humiliation and suffering by God.

But what are the implications of this theory? David Wood unpacks some of them here. Here is one snippet:

So who is responsible for the Christian belief that Jesus died on the cross? If Islam is correct, God started this idea when he decided to trick Jesus’ enemies into thinking that they had killed Jesus. This leads to even more problems. If the deception of the disciples was unintentional, then we must conclude that God didn’t realize that he was about to start the largest false religion in the world. If it was intentional, then God is in the business of starting false religions. Therefore, the God of Islam is either dreadfully ignorant or maliciously deceptive.

Muhammad’s position also means that Jesus was the greatest failure in the history of the prophets. He spent 33 years preaching (again, he began preaching Islamic theology at birth), yet shortly after his death, the children of Israel were divided into two broad camps. Those who believed his message became Christians, all of whom were guilty of the worst sin imaginable (shirk), while those who rejected his message were guilty of rejecting one of God’s greatest messengers. Thus, whether people believed in Jesus or rejected him, everyone would ultimately be condemned and cast into the hellfire.

It’s strange, then, that Muslims consider Jesus to be one of the greatest prophets ever. It seems that he should have been able to win at least one lasting convert to Islam. But he didn’t. Further, a true prophet of Islam should have warned his followers not to turn away from Islam by falling for God’s deception. But Jesus never got that message across. Indeed, millions of people from around the world now refuse to accept Islam because they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, a teaching that goes back to a deceptive God and an incompetent Messiah.

It would be nice to hear a Muslim response to these points.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Turn to Islam

Hi All,

Here is a very nice site which facilitates conversion from Christianity (or any other religion) to Islam. Included are testimonies of converts and a lot of apologetics. I think this site really demonstrates the vibrancy of Muslim witness in the world today. There are thousands of Muslims in W Europe converting to Christianity every year, I know. But the future is demographics and migration, not conversions. And demographics/migration, both in Europe and outside, are on the side of Islam. Folks in W Europe and Canada need to know about Islam because that is their future, or at least the future of their children and grand children.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Death of my name-sake

It's always a little annoying when people say that I use a pseudonym. Abu Daoud is not a pseudonym. It's not my birth name, of course, but it's certainly not a pseudonym either.

Anyway, this may be hard to believe, but there are two Abu Daoud's even more famous than me (smirk). One is the collector of ahadith (pl of hadith), or sayings of the Prophet and his companions, and the other one was the mastermind of the Munich Olympics terror attacks back in 1972.

And now both of them are dead. Muhammad Oudeh abu Daoud has passed away. Note that the CNN writer does not understand that Daoud is not to be handled as a family name. Abu Daoud is a single name, like Pope Paul VI or Cher or Charlemagne and belongs in the A section of a bibliography, not in the D section.

Anyway, here is the CNN article.

Abu Daoud, may you reap what you sowed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Apex of Islamic Civilization? Not really...

The greatest Turkish architect and mosque builder was the brilliant Sinan (1489-1588), who was born a Greek Christian, and who learned his engineering skills while a janissary. A former Christian used a former Byzantine church [the Hagia Sophia] as the model for the glorious mosques that awed visitors to Turkey and are today seen as the apex of Islamic civilization.

Jenkins in The Lost History of Christianity, p 194

Saturday, June 19, 2010

'Understanding Muhammad' by Ali Sina

Here is a book that looks very interesting, written by an ex-Muslim who is trying to analyze the pyschology of the Prophet.

Understanding Muhammad, by Ali Sina

If any one has read this please let me know, and let me know what you thought.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"People think that threats aimed at Muslims who've become Christians only happens in Muslim countries like Morocco or Iraq" says Johanna Marten, team leader of the Arabic work at the Gave foundation, an inter-church organization which helps churches with missionizing among asylum seekers. "Many people in the Netherlands have no idea of the problems that Muslims in the Netherlands encounter when they become Christian. They don't know that also in the Netherlands there are concrete threats and attacks in the name of Islam."

From HERE.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pray for Kyrgyzstan

There is ongoing violence in this largely-Muslim central Asian country. Pray that God would bring something positive out of all of this, and that justice and mercy would be present in all hearts, and that the Gospel would go forth.

Kyrgyz violence: Kyrgyzstan struggles to quell ethnic massacres

Check out their population stats HERE.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Lack of initiative in Islamic societies

The people also expect their leaders to do miracles, to save them, and take care of them from cradle to grave. This condition spills down to the rest of society. As a child I remember my grandparents’ hands being kissed by poor villagers who needed something. My grandparents often refuse the bowing and the kiss, but are often pleased by it. Servants submit to their masters, workers to their bosses and children to their parents. Maids often have to express total respect and submission and very often to physical and sexual abuse. There is a sad dependency for one’s welfare upon the graces of any one above you in the Moslem hierarchy of submission. Since initiative is stifled, most people wait for things to happen to them rather than change things on their own. Thus dependency becomes the norm. Slavery may have been abolished officially, but it is alive and well in a different form called submission.

Nonie Darwish, ex-Muslim

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Handlery on Islam and Democracy

The 64-thousand dollar question is whether Islam does fit into a democratic system. In a way, the question is not a question. It has been answered numerous times, both in theory and in the praxis. Alas, the results unearthed have always been the wrong, that is non-PC ones. The central problem issues from the concept of the desirable relationship between state and church. Even in case of the devout, in the advanced democratic and mainly Western entities, the principle of separation prevails. Here one would argue that the arrangement is to the benefit of both the worldly and the spiritual order. Islam’s tradition considers that the state is a worldly expression of the heavenly order. This determines not only the purpose of the state but also makes it subject to the supervision of those whose mandate comes from God.

Brussels Journal. HERE.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Templar disciplines and rules

Pope Honorius II (d. 1130) approved the following rules of conduct and discipline for the order in 1128:

• to recite vocal prayers at certain hours;
• to abstain from meat four days in the week; to cease hunting and hawking;
• to defend with their lives the mysteries of the Christian faith;
• to observe the seven sacraments of the church, the fourteen articles of faith, the
creeds of the apostles and Athanasius;
• to uphold the doctrines of the Two Testaments, including the interpretations of the church fathers, the unity of God and the trinity of his persons, and the virginity of Mary both before and after the birth of Jesus;
• to go beyond the seas when called to do so in defense of the cause;
• to retreat not from the foe unless outnumbered three to one.

from 'The Knights Templar' in The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained by Brad and SHerry Stelger. 2003.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Growth of the Protestant Church in Turkey

There is a great new article in the Spring edition of the International Journal of Frontier Mission by James Bultema, who has done some very interesting research on the Protestant Church in Turkey. There were two large growth spurts and this is how he accounts for them:

During these four and half decades [1960-2005], you see one period—from 1988 to 1994—that towers over other periods with respect to the growth rate. The reason for that spike in growth is quite simple: the New Testament in modern Turkish was printed and distributed, beginning in mid 1987. We had another spike from 2000-2002, and that is because the whole Bible in modern Turkish was first printed and distributed at the beginning of that period. (Bultema 2010: 28)

Check it all out over at

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Leaving Islam?" ads in New York

NEW YORK (AP) - The questions on the ads aren't subtle: Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?

A conservative activist and the organizations she leads have paid several thousand dollars for the ads to run on at least 30 city buses for a month. The ads point to a website called, which offers information to those wishing to leave Islam, but some Muslims are calling the ads a smoke screen for an anti-Muslim agenda.

From HERE.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Temple and Empire killed God

The new issue of St Francis Magazine just came out and it looks like it will have some good material. I am especially looking forward to Madany's article on the Trinity. He is an excellent interpreter of Islam.

For now though I leave you with this juicy tidbit from Miller on p 507:

Here is what I would regard as very a fundamental disjunct between
Islam and Christianity: The Cross is itself the revelation of the
absolute incapability of Empire and Temple to address the deepest
needs of the broken icon. The cross reveals to us how the Temple
and the Empire, when given free reign, actually kill God. How different
is this from Islam, where the proof of God’s choice of
Muhammad was his ability to harness both Empire and Temple to his
aims? We should not be surprised by this though: the polis is made
up of people, and if our anthropology is different, then so will be our
politic. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has
lifted up the humble.”

Check the whole thing out here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tradition and Evangelism

Pat argues that being strongly rooted in the tradition of the Church is in fact essential in regards to the ability to fruitfully evangelize. I think I agree...

As we become ever more aware of our inextricable human rooted-ness in history and tradition, it seems to me all the more important to embrace, explore, and yes, when necessary, reform, that tradition. Contrary to some popular thought, anchoring oneself in a tradition is more conducive to inter-traditional dialogue than claiming an autonomous distance from any tradition.

Hence, the Christian Tradition must needs be maintained--through study, through interaction, and through liturgical/sacramental practice--in order to continue to provide a "solid rock" on which to build our evangelistic efforts.

From Think, Ubu, Think! Share your thoughts either here or there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Christians are the offspring of Mary

I am now reading Revelation during my admittedly sporadic devotions. I just completed Rev 12 which is the famous nativity passage in Revelation. It is a touching if confusing narrative including things both in heaven and earth. The thing that got my attention though is how it speaks about the mother of Messiah (her name is not mentioned anywhere in the chapter).

12:17: "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

This surprised me!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Martin Luther on the Turks

The power of the Turk is very great; he keeps in his pay, all the year through, hundreds of thousands of soldiers. He must have more than two millions of florins annual revenue. We are far less strong in our bodies, and are divided out among different masters, all opposed the one to the other, yet we might conquer these infidels with only the Lord’s prayer, if our own people did not spill so much blood in religious quarrels, and in persecuting the truths contained in that prayer. God will punish us as he punished Sodom and Gomorrah, but I would fain `twere by the hand of some pious potentate, and not by that of the accursed Turk.

Table Talk, On the Turk

American Evangelicalism

Friday, May 14, 2010

The World's Greatest Philosophers and Islam

Was just reading The World's Great Philosophers (Wiley 2003). There are 40 philosophers in there. Not one of them is Muslim. There is no way this is simply an oversight. It means that the editors actually decided that people like Avicenna did not belong in this list.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Are the Didache's 'Prophets' the same as Ignatius' 'Bishops'?

As long-time readers may know, one of my favorite documents from the early church is the Didache, on which I have posted from time to time.

And now we have this treat, the blog Energetic Procession, which is Orthodox, has a decent post arguing that the Didache is in harmony with Ignatius' monarchial episcopate. Check it out and decide for yourself for successful the argument is.

Apostolic Succession in the Didache

Friday, May 07, 2010

Systematic Theologies are Contextual

“Systematic theologies often give the impression of universality, not of particularity and cultural conditioning. But in reality, these theologies reflect contextual or cultural elements.”

systematic theology in Dyrness ed. p. 866. Dictionary of Global Theology

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Islamization by dependence"

Abdelmassih said that after his conversion, Andrew and Mario became Muslims in what is called “Islamization by dependence,” by which children follow the religion of a converted parent (to Islam only) [unless] they [have] reach[ed] the age of puberty (fifteen), because Islam is “the best among all religions,” according to Egyptian Court rulings.

“The purpose of Lutfi’s litigation was to restore back to her twins their identity as Christians, before reaching the age of 16 in June, when they will have their national ID cards issued,” she wrote. “Camilia said that because of the developments in their case, her worst nightmares would materialize, in which they would have Islam as religious affiliation on their ID cards.

Read it all HERE.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What if Jesus had died quietly in his bed in Nazareth?

Wow, I loved this quote. This blogger is a catholic Lutheran who has traipsed all over the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Greece. Check out his blog, but especially his recent post Jesus is Lord (and Caesar is not). A selection:

But Christ has already won the victory. And his victory, quite appropriately, was at the hands of Rome's principal instrument for the execution of those rebellious barbarians: the cross. Christ died for our sins; but however much it would have 'worked' had his innocent life ended quietly in bed in Nazareth, can we really imagine Christianity being the same if the death that saves us from death was a quiet and peaceful death in his sleep? I think not. Christ conquers Rome's good news of civilization by dying at its hands; he shows the world for what it is; he shows us for what we are. The Old Adam dies in the mutilated Image of God at the hands of those who believe themselves to be gods. He becomes the rebel- "he became sin"- in order to win the victory that Caesar never could. The idolatry of earthly goods and the pride in human accomplishment lies in ruins scattered around the Mediterranean Sea, while the ambassadors of Christ continue to subvert the principalities of this world through our tiny colonies called churches. Who is the victor?

Monday, May 03, 2010

'...a Christian Islamic theology for local church life...'

In the Islamic world, evangelical methodology has allowed a contextualization and indigenized approach that treats Islam as a Christian heresy, with more Christian truth than error present. In an approach reminiscent of the late patristic theologian John of Damascus, many missional thinkers have developed a theology of and for Islam that represents a high Christology and a consistent soteriology, but one that is ‘within Islam.’ In Muslim countries while ‘conversion’ is prohibited, the Bible is not, allowing Christians to seek a Christian Islamic theology for local church life, evangelism and worship in Jesus’ name.

Richardson, KA. 2008. “Evangelical Theology” in The Global Dictionary of Theology, p 296.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On the Baptism of Muslims

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.

Register, Ray. 2009. 'Discipling Middle Eastern Believers' in SFM 5:2, p46.

What Abu Daoud is reading, and Blogging

Hi All,

Just have not run across much material for the blog lately. Don't get me wrong, I read and write massive amounts, but blogging doesn't communicate some things well. For example, I'm reading Qur'anic Studies by John Wansbrough. It is petty amazing, but extraordinarily dense. And to copy a two or three sentence clip from it would require a page or two of background.

I also just recently completed the venerable conversion narrative of Bilquis Sheikh, I Dared to Call Him Father. Nowadays you can find conversion narrative books easily, but she converted in Pakistan in the 70's, so really just at the beginning of the growth of Islamic Christianity. A short book, inspiring, Catholics will like the role of the doctor-nun who tells a searching Bilquis to pray to God like she would talk to her father--hence the name of the book.

Am trudging also through Yusuf Al Qaradawi's The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. Al Qaradawi was at Al Azhar, but I'm not sure what he's up to these days. Anyway, this is summa of what the name says. For example: if you find an animal which has fallen into a well and you can't cut it's throat to kill it, can you stab it in the rump and eat it? (Answer: yes.) Also, food given to Muslims by Christians and Jews is hallal, unless it is known that it was dedicated to someone other than God.

To round off the list, am also done with Secret Believers by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen. Not an academic book, but does a good job of giving examples of how complex mission in an Islamic context can be. Also, they don't romanticize much: two of the first converts get killed near the end of the book. One young Christian girl is kidnapped, forced to convert, forced to marry, made a slave....and so on. An easy read.

Germany: Muslim group comes out in support of crucifixes in school

A German Muslim group weighed into Germany's debate about crucifixes on Tuesday, saying it was fine for them to hang in German school classrooms because religion ought not to retreat from the public sphere.

The Central Council of Muslims, which supports the right of devout women to display their faith by wearing a headscarf, spoke out amid a storm over the views of a secular Muslim woman who was set to be sworn in Tuesday as a regional government minister.

"Religion needs to be visible in public space. That applies to all religions," Ayyub Axel Koehler, the German-born president of the Council, told the German Press Agency dpa in an interview in Cologne.

From HERE. HT to Islam in Europe.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Abp. Gabriel of Khartoum on Changing the World

The Christians, any environment they live in today, need to be of that type, I.e. Christians who have those principles in themselves, who proclaim them and live according to them, and are ready to suffer for these principles. It is that way of living which will change the world and our country. It will not be changed by powerful people; it will be changed by simple people who have determination, courage and power from Jesus Christ who himself was poor and a victim of human cruelty, but who has finally overcame evil by his passion, death and resurrection.

Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako,
Archbishop of Khartoum
Khartoum, Easter 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On witness to Muslims

Regarding the question of witness to Muslims, I find these words to be illuminating:

The Master, by residing in the Tao [Logos],
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn't display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn't know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goad in mind,
everything he does succeeds.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Temple Gairdner on the Church and Islam

For the church or congregation which desires to be, sets out to be, and succeeds in being a home for those converted to Christ from Islam, is in itself a gospel--preaches thereby the best, highest, and most Christlike gospel of all: the gospel that will be most easily understood and most easily loved by those without, and will most powerfully attract them to come in: let alone the fact that precisely such a church will certainly be the one most forward in preaching to non-Christians in the ordinary sense of the word.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Anglican Nigerians reaching out to Muslims

A Nigerian Anglican archbishop told 825 mostly Anglicans and Episcopalians that included 20 bishops and three archbishops that the outbreaks of violence in Northern Nigeria is a result of tens of thousands of Islamists becoming Christians resulting in the formation of 49 new dioceses.

The Rt. Rev. Edmund Akanya, Archbishop of Kaduna and Bishop of Kebbi from the Anglican Province of Nigeria told conferees at the New Wineskins conference for Global Missions that outreach to Muslims in Nigeria with the gospel is "second nature" to Nigerian Anglicans and that Anglicans "face this challenge every day."

"After experiencing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior I went into mission. Up to 20 years ago we were dependent on missionaries. Now we have a thriving church with our own missionaries reaching out to Muslims, animists and pagans," he told the missions-minded audience many of whom had come from half way around the globe to plan mission strategies to reach the world for Jesus Christ.

From HERE.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A strange episode with corruption and the Gospel

The other day I was visiting a small city which doesn't get many foreigners at all. I went into the barber's to get a shave (you can do that here, it's cheap too). We got into a conversation about history and I said that I have studied religion a good deal. The barber was impressed as I listed off the Islamic caliphates and where they were based. The place had a lot of people in it, just young guys hanging out with nothing to do.

Anyway, after a while he laid out carefully and intelligently the argument for Islam: the Gospel and Torah are corrupted, they were once integral but are not now. So God sent a final revelation, the Qur'an, through the last Prophet, to be a sure foundation and revelation to humanity. What is your response to this, he wanted to know.

I pointed out a few basic things: if God could not preserve the first three books, then why would he be able to preserve the fourth? (This is a question that has no answer, he said.) I also mentioned that the the Qur'an does not say the these books are corrupted. I said that 'tahriif' is simply an Islamic tradition, like the face veil, and you can take it or leave it as you like. I finally pointed out that in the Qur'an God tells Muhammad, "If you are in doubt about anything, ask the people who have read the book before you." Now how can God tell Muhammad to ask these people for advice if their Scriptures are corrupted? All pretty standard stuff.

Then something surprising happened. The other barber who had been listening jumped in, Yes, this is true, the Qur'an does not say the injiil is corrupted at all.

This surprised me a lot. I have never heard a Muslim who was not a follower of Jesus or an academic writing in some journal defend the integrity of the Gospel/injiil. Strange.

Anyway, I lent my NT to the first barber and told him next I'm back in his city I would go to pick it up, and see if he had found any corruption in it. Not sure when I'll be back down there, but God willing he will read it and we'll have a good conversation next I see him.

Abu Daoud

Friday, April 09, 2010

Against Rome

I had a recent heart-breaking conversation with an ex-Muslim. He continued to go to the local RC church and request baptism. He had read the entire Bible multiple times by that time. The priest put him off at first, delaying him. Then he told him he could not because his bishop had forbade it. And eventually assaulted him verbally in front of some other friends of his (who were Christians) and said that if he came to mass again he would call the police. Ultimately, he told him he was fighting against God who had determined that he be born into a Muslim family.

He will be baptized, but almost certainly not into the Catholic Church, because they have refused him. Now who is at fault for this man not being in communion with 'the vicar of Peter'?

One bright spot: some of the young laity who had witnessed some of these things told the priest that he had not acted correctly.

The branch that does not bear fruit is cut off and thrown into the fire.

Abu Daoud

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Abdul Asad: How Islam sharpens our theology

Yes, thanks to Islam, I have delved back into Church history and been forced to re-examine the creeds and confessions of the Church, and to be able to articulate their nuances not merely for the sake of theological reflection with other Christians, but for the sake of the salvation of many people who need to understand these distinctions!

Indeed. Since moving to dar al islam I have vastly expanded my knowledge of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Part of that, I suppose, is the natural process of learning more with time. But really, When you are living in an Islamic context knowing the Trinity becomes not a simple hobby or curios, but something central to your witness.

The whole post is at Circumpolar. I left a comment over there too, check out the whole thing.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Qur'an

Joseph Kenny OP: Using the Church Fathers to Answer Muslims' Questions

Well, what can I say, I love this guy. His translations are very straight forward and readable, while still being technical enough to not lost some of the philosophical foundations. I also think that his project of supplying sections of basic historical documents to answer Muslim questions is great. It looks like it's a work in progress, but give it a visit:

Muslims Query Christian Beliefs

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Aquinas responds to Muslims

Holy Schnykies! I almost fell out of my chair just now. How in the world did I not know about this text?

(and one objection of the Greeks and Armenians)

By St Thomas Aquinas, OP

And guess what, it's all online right HERE.
Will let you all know how this reading goes. If you read it (or have read it) let me know what you thought.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why the West censors itself on political Islam

Political correctness and liberal guilt over historic colonial abuse in the Muslim world can easily blind Western leadership and society to the anti-social agenda of radical Islam. The unspoken policy is to keep blinders
on and mouths shut in the name of cultural relativism. This is a mistake.
To redress the wrongs of colonialism and imperialism, the West can take a
myriad constructive steps, including withdrawing support for the despots
and kings it props up and opening Western markets to goods and services
from the developing world. But capitulating to Islamists camoufl aged
as moderates and validating them up as genuine representatives of the
West’s Muslims is simply repeating the mistake of propping up the Saudis
as the legitimate spokesmen of Muslims worldwide.

Tarek Fatah, Chasing the Mirage, 312.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What is the difference between Islam and Christianity?

A Muslima friend of mine asked me this recently. What do you say? How would you answer this question to a Muslima who sincerely wants to know your point of view?

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Constitution of the Holy Apostles on Bishops

You, therefore, O bishops, are to your people priests and Levites, ministering to the holy tabernacle, the holy Catholic Church; who stand at the altar of the Lord your God, and offer to Him reasonable and unbloody sacrifices through Jesus the great High Priest. You are to the laity prophets, rulers, governors, and kings; the mediators between God and His faithful people, who receive and declare His word, well acquainted with the Scriptures. Ye are the voice of God, and witnesses of His will, who bear the sins of all, and intercede for all; whom, as you have heard, the word severely threatens if you hide the key of knowledge from men, who are liable to perdition if you do not declare His will to the people that are under you; who shall have a certain reward from God, and unspeakable honour and glory, if you duly minister to the holy tabernacle. For as yours is the burden, so you receive as your fruit the supply of food and other necessaries. For you imitate Christ the Lord; and as He “bare the sins of us all upon the tree” at His crucifixion, the innocent for those who deserved punishment, so also you ought to make the sins of the people your own.

Book II, Sec. IV.

Where does the Hijab come from?

What Islamists do not admit is that the custom of the veiling of women in early Islam was not part of the dress code until Muslims conquered Persia and the Byzantine territories in the 7th century. It was only after this assimilation of the conquered cultures that head covering and veiling were viewed as appropriate expressions of Islam practice. Since the veil was impractical attire for working women, a veiled woman was a sign that she belonged to the upper class and that her husband was rich enough to keep her idle.

Chasing the Mirage, by Tarek Fatah, p 291

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Muslim Group at London U won't share prayer room with others

Hundreds of Muslim students have been holding prayers outside City University London for a month in protest at the closure of a prayer room used exclusively by them.

The students declare that “multi-faith” alternatives are unacceptable because “a vast number of Muslim scholars throughout history believe it is impermissible for Muslims to offer prayers in a place where [a god] other than our Lord, Allah, is worshipped”.

In an open letter, the protesters also point out that the multi-faith room can accommodate only 40 people, which is too small for the number of Muslims who need to pray at least three times per day.

All-male groups have been praying on the pavement outside City since 15 February, with more than 200 reportedly turning up for Friday prayers in Northampton Square.

From HERE.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Proof in the Pudding: Iran as the Great Failed Islamic Experiment

When the Islamic revolution started in Iran and established complete Islamic rule in a country that enjoyed all the benefits of revival and progress, such as manpower, ample natural resources with vast quantities of oil at the top of the list, and a civilisation with a history going back thousands of years, people looked to the newly born Islamic revolution as an incisive test of all the contemporary Islamic movements. If it succeeded in establishing the "society of justice, freedom and progress," the other movements would, consequently, acquire a tremendous momentum that would be difficult to stop in any country throughout the Islamic world suffering from backwardness and sinking under the burdens of repressive regimes, and yearning for those voices calling for Islamic rule and application of the Sharia. The decisive test was there in that revolution, which took full control of an Islamic country of great consequence, an ancient history, and a future rich in encouraging potentials.

Nonetheless, the signs of failure manifested repeatedly following this Islamic revolution, year after year, were not echoed at all among the advocates of Islamic rule in the rest of the Arabic and Islamic countries.

Rishawi, Emir. A Struggle that Led to Conversion. Villach, Austria: Light of Life 1993. p 59. (Trans. unk)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Geert Wilders: Stop all Muslim immigration to Europe

I can't believe that they would let someone say this in the British parliament:

The highly controversial politician also said he wants to halt the immigration of Muslims, despite the fact he agrees that the majority of Muslims are peace-loving and law-abiding.

“The majority of Muslims in our Western societies are law-abiding people like you and me,” Wilders said. “Still, I want to stop the immigration of people from the Islamic countries because they still bring a lot of culture that is not ours. Look at all the countries for instance in the Middle East where Islam is dominant – you see no rule of law, no functioning parliament, no civil society.”

From here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Part XXI: Islam, Conversion, and Identity

Part XXI: Islam, Conversion, and Identity
by Abu Daoud

In part X of this series I talked about reasons why Muslims are attracted to the Christian faith. This topic of conversion is very interesting, and I want to discuss it a little more.

The nature of the Gospel, and of Christian mission in general, is not to replace any given culture with ‘a Christian culture’. For a while this was indeed the strategy, to become Christian meant getting a Western name and wearing European clothing and so on. Those days are long gone though. Today we understand that every culture will have elements that need to be confronted by the Gospel, but that does not mean that the Gospel itself becomes the new culture. It is like the salt, which makes the food good, but which you don’t eat on its own. Cultures are evangelized, not just individual persons.

And here is where Islam comes into the equation: shall we understand Islam as a cluster of cultures which need to be evangelized, but not replaced? Or shall we understand Islam as rival religion, which must be replaced by the Christian religion? There are multiple heated arguments on this topic going on all over the place today among missionaries and converts as well. Let me unpack the results of each theory:

If we say that, yes, Islam is indeed a culture, then, just like we have Jewish followers of Jesus (who don’t call themselves Christians), we can also have Muslim followers of Jesus. They worship God through Jesus Christ, read the Bible and believe in it, and will tend to have a positive view of the Qur’an and Muhammad. They do not call their gatherings ‘churches’ usually, and they tend to use the Islamic vocabulary and names (like ‘issa for Jesus), rather than Christian terms (yasuu’ for Jesus). This group will focus on using concepts that overlap with the Qur’an like ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘straight path.’

But what if, when we look at Islam, we see a rival religion? Then there is no way to reconcile Muhammad and Jesus, the Bible and the Qur’an, nor should we try to do so. This approach would generally focus on the new identity a person has in Christ, with an emphasis on being part of the Church—a different community than the Islamic umma. It would be normal for a person to take a new (non-Islamic) name, though not required. Their view of Muhammad and the Qur’an will tend to focus on short-comings and deficiencies.

Clearly, I am painting with broad strokes here. But that should not obscure the very real issue at hand here—it is not just a matter of semantics. If Islam is more of a culture to be evangelized, but we preach as if Islam were a rival religion, we may fail to communicate the Gospel in an understandable manner relating to that culture’s context. On the other hand, if we emphasize how the Gospel and Islam as a culture go together, and thus create a community of Muslim followers of Jesus, we risk compromising central beliefs (the Trinity, the incarnation) and practices (baptism) that have always defined Christian orthodoxy. These are, broadly speaking, the two paths before the churches today as they seek to relate the message of new life in Messiah to the Muslims of the world.

London: Muslim leader converts to Orthooxy

Wow, I'm suprised here, but it's great news. I just wish the Orthodox here in the Middle East would show some vague interest in sharing the Gospel with Muslims too.

What led you to Christ?

The first time that I had the desire to study the New Testament in detail was when I was in front of the Kaaba in Mecca—I lived for a time in Mecca. Christian literature is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia and many websites are even blocked, but with the development of modern communications, it is not difficult for those who are looking to find the Word of God. After a time, I tried to convince and American who was working in the Saudi capital to convert to Islam. When I spoke to him, he responded with much courage and conviction. I was surprised by his courage, because in Saudi Arabia a man who preaches Christianity can easily be killed. Conversations with Christians in Saudi Arabia were very important for me. As someone associated with the Islamic mission in Arabia, I encountered many foreigners. I always remarked that in most cases, people converted to Islam, not because it was their free choice, but in order to keep working in Saudi Arabia and to obtain a release from the taxes imposed on non-Muslims. The fact is that the salaries of non-Muslims are lower than those of Muslims because of the need to pay a special tax, set by Muhammad. Salaries for Christians in Saudi Arabia are rather low, and some convert to Islam in order to earn more money. The majority of Filipinos who return home immediately renounce Islam. I began to explore Christianity even more and, little by little, I sensed its superiority over Islam. I first consciously encountered Orthodoxy in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Unfortunately, the priests in Sarajevo did not speak English and I could not really express what I wanted. After waiting for a group of Imams to pass by, I went into the Serbian church and I felt the astonished look of the Serbian priest when I made the sign of the cross in the Orthodox way and I made a prostration onto the ground. Then I knew that Orthodoxy was, of all the Christian confessions, the closest to me. I studied Christianity and Orthodoxy even more, reading books and watching films. I also liked the movie Ostrov (the Island). Slowly, I decided to ask for baptism in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Read it all HERE.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Europe: against bloggers but for financing terrorism

There is terrorism and there is Islamophobia. Of these two the latter is apparently the more serious misdemeanor. Europe is introducing draconian measures to monitor the internet for so-called “racism,” but at the same time the European Parliament has decided to deny America access to servers with international banking data that relate to terrorist organizations.

From here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Christians most persecuted group in world

Open Doors compiles a global "persecution index." North Korea, where tens of thousands of Christians are serving time in work camps, has topped the list for many years. North Korea is followed, though, by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, the Maldives and Afghanistan. Of the first 10 countries on the list, eight are Islamic, and almost all have Islam as their state religion.

From HERE.

Turning tide for migration in Europe?

Salamu 'aleykum min Londonistan! I am sojourning here near Hyde Park, home to one of the most infamous mosques in the world, in case you don't know. Got a chance to visit the splendid Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church today and it was truly splendid. Meanwhile, some interesting information has surfaced regarding immigration. You judge for yourself:

In country after country, immigrants, often from Muslim countries, are being targeted. More than at any point in recent decades, fear is becoming the dominant force in European politics, warns the French commentator Dominique Moisi. The immediate cause for this fear has been the economic crisis, which has stoked worries about outsiders stealing Europe's jobs and overburdening its welfare system. But the animosity reflects a deeper shift. Immigration to Europe has exploded in recent years, so much so that the EU has overtaken the U.S. as the world's premier destination for people seeking a better life abroad. Since 1990, 26 million migrants have landed in Europe, compared with 20 million in America. There they have helped fuel economic booms, reinvigorated the continent's declining birthrate, and transformed cities from Madrid to Stockholm. The European Commission estimates that, since 2004, migration by Eastern Europeans alone to Western Europe has added a net €50 billion, or 0.8 percent, to the bloc's GDP each year.

Yet not everyone is convinced of these benefits, and the migrants are provoking deep fears that Europe's racial and religious identity is being lost. Driven by such anxieties, governments are starting to turn against the newcomers. Many states, including Britain and Italy, have put new limits on immigration, while others, such as Spain and the Czech Republic, are paying migrants to go home. As a result of such measures and the downturn, labor migration to Europe plummeted last year.

From HERE.

Abu Daoud's prediction? Migration will not significantly decline. Maybe legal immigration will, but that's just one slice of the pie. As Muslim countries (Yemen, Pakistan) continue to disiintegrate look for many, many more immigrants/refugees. They will arrive and will do anything they can not to leave.