Monday, April 29, 2013

NT Wright on Miroslav Volf on Forgivenesss

This is why the concept of divine forgiveness in Islam is incoherent:
In his magisterial Exclusion and Embrace [...], he demonstrates, with sharp examples from his native Balkans, that it simply won't do, when faced with radical evil, to say, 'Oh well, don't worry, I will love you and forgive you anyway.' That (as the 1938 Doctrine Report already saw) is not forgiveness; it is belittling the evil that has been done. Genuine forgiveness must first 'exclude', argues Volf, before it can 'embrace'; it must name and shame the evil, and find an appropriate way of dealing with it, before reconciliation can happen. Otherwise we are just papering over the cracks.
From N T Wright's article 'The Cross and the Caricatures'

In Islamic doctrine Allah can and may forgive sins, even great sins. There are actually ways to force the god if Islam to forgive your sins (ie, dying in jihad). But there is now way to account for the enormity of sin in Islam. Allah just lets it go, winks at it, and that is that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The UK: Slouching towards dhimmitude

From VirtueOnline:

Christian hymns dropped from Anglican school where 75 percent of pupils are Muslim. Assemblies at Slough and Eton Church of England Business and Enterprise College are not based specifically on the Bible, but may make reference to it alongside other religious texts.

Bowing to Muslim dietary requirements, the meat served at the secondary school, which has over 1,000 pupils aged between 11 and 19, is halal.

Headmaster Paul McAteer said the approach was to be "sensitive to the fact that we do have many different faiths in the school." As justification, he added that Christian values were "more prevalent here than I have experienced in non-Church of England schools."

McAteer also stresses that the Church of England describes itself as "a faith for all faiths. The values we support are very much Christian values of honesty, integrity, justice." The gender-separated prayer rooms at Slough and Eton, McAteer says were not specifically for Muslim pupils, but said that it tended to be Muslim children that use them.

He said 20 male students would typically attend a lunchtime Islamic prayer session at the Berkshire school.

One of the school aims outlined on its mission statement is "to promote tolerance and respect for all cultures represented in the school."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Christianity Today, Insider Movements, and "seein' what ya wanna see"

Well, Christianity Today has jumped into the whirling cesspool that is the Insider Movement discussion. God have mercy on them and may St George (whose feast it is today) intercede for them.

I love some of the comments on one of the 'interviews' which really shows us how people can find what they wanna find, when they really wanna find it.

A good example of this is NOT finding Islam when we're talking about terrorism.

But in relation to Christianity Today, it is about finding these mysterious followers of Jesus (or as CT calls them, always, because I guess it builds cred--Issa al masih). Gene Daniels (pseudonym) presents us with an interview of one Abu Jaz (pseudonym) who is, we are told, an insider. He uses words like Allah and Issa and so on and so forth. He is in East Africa. He doesn't belong to the Church but belongs to a different movement, called People of the Gospel.

Here is the set up:
And no insider movement has received more attention than Muslims who embrace Christ yet stay within their Islamic community. "Insiders" are hard to access due to cultural, geographic, and linguistic barriers. As a result, many Christians have taken positions on insider movements without ever having met or spoken with someone who belongs to one. In the following exclusive interview, we hear from just such an insider.
But where this gets really interesting is in the comments! Woo-hoo...Hussein Wario, well-known author and Kenyan (I think) ex-Muslim Christian. Here is what Wario, who is an insider to the evangelical scene in this mystery country, says:
Gene Daniels, You owe CT an apology. Contrary to what you have written and defended for the past three months, your interviewee, Abu Jaz, is not known as "Muslim" in his native country. A person who knows him writes, "In fact [redacted name] is known in [redacted country name] as a Muslim background evangelical Christian who has a burden for reaching Muslims. To my knowledge he received Christ as his saviour in [redacted] church and is still part of it. He is not at all known as a 'Muslim' among evangelical churches. He is part of the [redacted evangelical association name]. It is under [redacted evangelical association name], and under his leadership, that the Muslim friendly bible translation is initiated. It is in fact through him the funds were secured to translate the bible. If you come to visit [redacted his country], you could find him is in his office, at the [redacted evangelical association name] building." Wycliffe's The Seed Company is funding it.
Welcome to the exciting world of African missions! It seems pretty clear that Daniels has seen something that is just not there. Here is my guess, and it's just a guess: Daniels loves the idea of IM, and so he has looked for one. He found Abu Jaz who is, quite sensibly, not publicizing much his connection to this or that church (not a new idea), has started a sort of mission fellowship (not a new idea), and when he talks to Muslims uses Islamic words and phrases (also not a new idea, at all).

But he, and CT, have found what they wanted to find: an Insider Movement. If you want it enough, you will get it!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Christophe Bilek responds to Magdi Cristiano Allam leaving the Catholic Church

Magdi Cristiano Allam, an Egyptian in Rome, was famoulsy baptized by Pope Benedict XVI some years ago in St Peter's Basilica on Easter Eve. Such a public and clear affirmation of religious conversion from Islam to Catholic Christianity at the time was celebrated by some, and criticized by others (including by some Christians, who felt it was provocative and disrespectful). I saw it as positive and said so on this blog.

Brother Allam, however, recently announced he is leaving the Catholic Church, seeing quite rightly that most of the time, even in Europe, Catholic clergy have no interest in welcoming or baptizing seekers from a Muslim background. This is a shame to the Catholic Church, and caused me to write an open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI on Catholic Witness to Muslims, which I'm guessing has been read by all of ten people.

Recently, however, another important Catholic ex-Muslim, Mohammed-Christophe Bilek, native of Algeria an founder of the Fellowship of our Lady of Kabyle, has written a letter to Magdi begging him to reconsider his position, while acknowledging that his complaints about the Catholic Church are largely accurate.

The entire letter is in French, but you can read a Google translation (which is not too bad) if you don't read French. There is a lot of detail in the letter but here are some parts that I found of special interest:

The complaint of Magdi is here:
But I understand the meaning of the message: you need to create an institution that encourages Muslims to overcome fear, to be baptized publicly and to openly live out their new faith. We are both aware that the real problem is the native [European, Catholic] Christians, because they are the first to be afraid. There are many complaints from Muslims who wished to be baptized, but are faced with the refusal of Catholic priests because they do not want to violate the laws of Islamic countries that prohibit and punish by imprisonment, sometimes death, the work of evangelism or the one who commits the "crime" of apostasy [2] .
And part of Bilek's response is here:
Yes, it is now time to ask the question: do we [converts from Islam] have our place in the Church, as well as Europeans, or are we [ex-Muslim] Christians second class citizens to be concealed? [...] 
Does our baptism, freeing us from the darkness of sin, not also granted us the freedom of the children of God and quality of being brothers of Christ? Would we still amenable to Sharia? 
These questions need clear answers, and must be given, so that there is no ambiguity, the pontiff himself. 
Of all religions it is Christianity that is the most attacked, of all Christian denominations it is the Catholic Church that is most mistreated. 
Dear Magdi Cristiano Allam, you are aware that within the same [Church] there rise opponents who seek to undermine it. Do we not have a responsibility to alert and avoid fatal excesses in the area we know? 
Who can argue that he loves Muslims brothers more than we do? First because we have the same origin, but also because we want them to become like us, children of God through Jesus Christ? 
I think it is our duty to speak publicly with and to see the Holy Father, that we conversing on these critical issues for the salvation of men. [...] Our demand to meet publicly with the Holy Father is legitimate.
In other words, he wants a public and clear statement from the Roman Bishop on the reception of Muslims into the Catholic Church. God bless these brave men! And may Magdi Cristiano Allam return to Rome and not give up on her. When she does awake to the glory of the mission to Islam, she will become a great and positive force in this important ministry.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Mark Anderson on the link between marriage and children

Mark Anderson on the link between children and marriage:
"The state's not interested in my love life as such, or my romantic feelings," he says. "We don't need the state regulating that."

But the state does have an interest in seeing that relationships that result in children are permanent and monogamous, to ensure their care and feeding, he says. Otherwise, the state might have to help with their support.

"Marriage is the way the state non-coercively incentivizes me to be in the institution that does best for children," Anderson says.
 Nicely put. Check it all out here.