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.