Monday, December 29, 2014

Prayer to Jesus in the Manger

Prayer to Jesus in the Manger
O Divine Redeemer Jesus Christ, prostrate before Thy crib, I believe Thou art the God of infinite Majesty, even though I do see Thee here as a helpless babe. I humbly adore and thank Thee for having so humbled Thyself for my salvation as to will to be born in a stable. I thank Thee for all Thou didst wish to suffer for me in Bethlehem, for Thy poverty and humility, for Thy nakedness, tears, cold and sufferings.
Would that I could show Thee that tenderness which Thy Virgin Mother had toward Thee, and love Thee as she did. Would that I could praise Thee with the joy of the angels, that I could kneel before Thee with the faith of St. Joseph, the simplicity of the shepherds. Uniting myself with these first adorers at the crib, I offer Thee the homage of my heart, and I beg that Thou wouldst be born spiritually in my soul. Make me reflect in some degree the virtues of Thy admirable nativity. 
Fill me with that spirit of renunciation, of poverty, of humility, which prompted Thee to assume the weakness of our nature, and to be born amid destitution and suffering. Grant that from this day forward, I may in all things seek Thy greater glory, and may enjoy that peace promised to men of good will.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Charles Wesley's hymn/prayer for the salvation of Muslims

Did you know that famous hymn-writer Charles Wesley penned a hymn for the evangelization of the Mohammedans?

Here you go:

1. Sun of unclouded righteousness, With healing in thy wings arise, A sad benighted world to bless, Which now in sin and error lies, Wrapt in Egyptian night profound; With chains of hellish darkness bound.
2 The smoke of the infernal cave, Which half the Christian world o’er-spread, Disperse, thou heavenly Light, and save The souls by that Imposter led, That Arab thief, as Satan bold, Who quite destroy’d thy Asian fold.
3 O might the blood of sprinkling cry For those who spurn the sprinkled blood! Assert thy glorious Deity, Stretch out thine arm, thou triune God! The Unitarian fiend expel, And chase his doctrine back to hell.
4 Come, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Thou Three in One, and One in Three! Resume thy own, for ages lost, Finish the dire apostasy; Thy universal claim maintain, And Lord of the creation reign!
by Charles Wesley, from Hymns for the People called Methodists (1874), 443

Christians in the Middle East


Middle East Call to Prayer
How did the area of the world known as the birthplace of civilization and later Christianity become a place so hostile to the followers of Jesus? Explore some of the history of Christianity in the Middle East, the current decline in Christian population and the glimmers of hope that are visible if you know where to look. And as you study the scenario from a spiritual perspective, use the prayer ideas to guide you as you talk to God about the Middle East.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My new profile at academia.edu

Hi All,

I have recently set up a profile at academia.edu. You can check out all my articles over there if you are interested.

My profile

Friday, November 21, 2014

Europe's Demographic Fate

Good article here on the terrible state of demographics in Europe.

Immigrants to Europe will certainly change the civilization and cultures present there. As the children of the West continue to opt for comfort and worldliness their civilization will die with them. It will be replaced by the civilization(s) of those who inherit their lands.

London will become more and more like Lahore.

Madrid will become more and more like Morocco.

Paris will become more and more like Algiers.

I can't say I'm too sad about the death of Western Civilization though.

Immigrants and European Demography

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Why Short Term Missions are so dangerous

Here is a great new article on Short Term Missions (STM), and how they can be quite harmful and disastrous. I'm happy that someone has written this article! It really needed to be said.

Read it all at The Gospel Coalition

Here is one part I liked:

Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send 20 people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip half of the group's energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They'd like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come? Most trips I know focus on those who are going, not on those receiving the teams. We send youth so they can have an experience or so God can really grip their heart. You may want your adults to gain a larger heart for the nations. Even if research shows that short-term trips do not affect the lives of participants in the long-term, we still send teams.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What countries have the smallest Christian population by %?

The folks at Pew Research have provided us with another great chart that provides information on religious composition by country, and it can be viewed by percentage, or by number. A bit of clicking got me the countries of the world with the lowest percentage of Christian populations. And guess what? Not until you get to place 13 do you find a country that is not Islamic. Here are the top 13 places:

  1. Morocco
  2. Somalia
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Iran
  5. Tunisia
  6. Western Sahara
  7. Yemen
  8. Algeria
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Mauritania
  11. Maldives
  12. Turkey
  13. Cambodia (Buddhist majority)
What does this mean? I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but one possible factor (of many, I would think) is that Muslim countries do a good job keeping the Gospel out, or making sure that converts leave (or die).

Please pray for those top 13 countries, and do visit the Pew site, HERE.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inter-Muslim violence spills over into Hamburg

I have long believed that inter-Muslim violence (a relative constant among Muslims, since the death of Muhammad) would inevitably come to Europe as the governments there (in spite of democracy) seem hellbent on unhindered Muslim immigration.

And now we have proof. Kurds and Salafis in Hamburg clash.

Yes, yes. I know. Everyone will say this is not about Islam at all, but about ethnicity. But I'm not buying it, because Islam is supposed to make ethnicity irrelevant. Ethnicity here is relevant, ergo Islam has failed.

But here is some good information about Germany--a nation that appears determined to destroy itself:
Germany is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims, one million Kurds and 60,000 Yazidis. According to the 2013 annual report (published in June 2014) of the German domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt Verfassungsschutz [BfV], Germany is also home to 30 active Islamist groups and 43,000 Islamists, including 950 members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, 1,300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and 5,500 Salafists.
But you read the article on your own and let me know what you think.

Islamic War Erupts in Hamburg, Germany.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

New Bible Translation in Farsi (Persian)

Here is some wonderful news for our brothers and sisters in or from Iran. Elam is glad to announce a new translation of the Bible in contemporary Farsi!
The recently launched New Millennium Version of the Bible has been eagerly anticipated by the Iranian church, ever since Elam began the translation work in 1995.  Prior to the publication of the new translation, Persian Christians have been reading the Old Testament in the old standard version. This translation is over 100 years old, and uses obscure and archaic words and phrases, which render the text difficult to comprehend.
Did you know that Christian missions is the main force in the world today that helps to preserve indigenous languages? This is indeed the case, because missionaries are often the first to provide an alphabet (normally a modified version of Latin alphabet, but not always) for indigenous languages that don't have one.

Praise God! And God bless our brothers and sister in and from Iran.

Read more HERE.

Monday, September 22, 2014

New research on contextual theology and Christian converts from Islam

Hi All,

Well, it's not light reading, but here is a new doctoral dissertation about Christian converts from Islam. The focus is on field studies of some Arab believers in the Middle East, and some Iranian congregations in the West.

The title is Living among the Breakage: Contextual Theology-making and ex-Muslim Christians, from the University of Edinburgh by Dr. D A Miller.

Download the PDF from his academia website, HERE.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why the rapes of the Islamic State are Hallal

I have heard people who don't know about Islam comment that the Islamic State soldiers 'rape' women, and that this is against Islam.

This, however, is incorrect. These are not men committing rape, or if they are committing rape then Allah does not mind. Specifically, slaves are part of the booy (anfal) of jihad, and we know from the Prophet himself that Allah has no problem with men having sex with their female slaves. That is outlined clearly in the Qur'an, but also in this hadith:

Volume 7, Book 62, Number 137:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
We got female captives in the war booty and we used to do coitus interruptus with them. So we asked Allah's Apostle about it and he said, "Do you really do that?" repeating the question thrice, "There is no soul that is destined to exist but will come into existence, till the Day of Resurrection."
 The Prophet had no problem at all with them men having sex with their new slaves. He was, however, troubles by their practice of coitus interruptus. For the life of me I wish more Muslims knew about the life of this man, because a lot of them would leave Islam and find a better man to follow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Part XXIV: How to Meet Your Local Muslim Neighbors

Part XXIV: How to Meet Your Local Muslim Neighbors
by Abu Daoud
 
Those of you who have been following our ministry for some time know that we wear many hats. One of those is consultant. Churches and ministries approach us with questions about ministry to Muslims and ask for our advice and help. One of the most common questions is, how do we meet Muslims?

Picture it: you have a group of Christians committed to praying for Muslims, they have studied some of the basics of Islam, have read a couple of books, have listened to some of my world famous lectures *;) winking and they are ready to get to work. And now what? They know there are many Muslims in their city. Where to start?

Each city is different, but here is my basic advice:

1. Shop where they shop: is there an 'international grocery store' or a place that caters to hallal food? Make it a habit of shopping there from time to time. Ask the Spirit to do something surprising before you go in and be expecting him to do it!

2. International Students: are there any ministries that cater to such students? Call your local uni and ask about hosting someone in your home, or at least showing them around town. Get off your butt and call around! You'll be surprised at what you find.

3. English: you speak the international language, and there are many international students and refugees who want to learn it, or who know it and want a conversation partner. Look around on the internet and find out who is doing this in your city and see if you can volunteer. You might now be paired with a Muslim, that is true. But praise God! Buddhists and Hindus need Jesus too.

4. Refugees: so many of the unstable regions in this world today are majority-Muslim: Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, etc. Call your local refugee settlement group and ask if you can help. Follow their rules! If they say you can't evangelize as your volunteer, then don't. But after you are done volunteering, you will have some wonderful friendships where you and your new friends decide what to talk about. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

"September Eleventh" by Penny Cagan


September Eleventh
by Penny Cagan

1.
I could tell you what it was like to be there -
the sky black with bodies - humanity colluding with gravity -
people jumping in pairs - linked lives spent working together
in towers so tall it must have felt like heaven to sit at a desk
and watch the city transform with the light of the seasons -
the moment sealed windows were liberated with office furniture,
the moment of shattered glass
when doomed colleagues linked hands and decided to jump -
the early fall air washed with morning coolness -
the escape from the rattling of downtown, suffocating smoke, the heat -
to be a witness to all this, on the ground, not quite safe,
but spared from all but the watching,
yes, I could tell you what it was like,
but that would require the crafting of a narrative
from the singed paper raining down like confetti,
the sky blackened with terrorist graffiti,
the towers stricken, and then stricken again,
their dark shadows erased from the sky,
my clothes soaked with dust and ash -
that gorgeous autumn day - the kind that makes late August
bearable because of the promise of its crisp breath,
and the light, the pure sweet morning light
of September Eleventh,
the event that I could speak of -
if there was something here to say.

2.
September was my favorite month
the sun suddenly different than it was the day before,
somehow gentler and sunken in the sky,
its reflection elongated against the towers,
languorous August now in retreat,
both the unease and promise of longer nights,
the new season upon us with all that it brings,
the residual memories from our school days,
the purchase of new school supplies -
the lure of a sharpened pencil,
a notebook neatly divided into subjects,
the fine lines of green graph paper,
the anticipation of unopened textbooks,
the comfort of a light woolen sweater
slung low on the shoulders,
slung low like the month itself -
hope embedded in a porous rubber eraser.

©2001, Penny Cagan

Yes, Decapitation and Crucifixion are both enjoined in the Qur'an

I'm amazed by this rhetoric of how Islamic State is not really Islamic. This is ridiculous and insensitive. Men are leaving their homes and safety for the sake of Islam as they understand it within the Islamic State.

And when the people of the IS cut off the heads or crucify those whom they consider to be enemies of Islam, they are simply emulating Muhammad, the ideal man.

Here is where the Qur'an enjoins crucifixion:

“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” — Qur’an 5:33

And here is where the Prophet is told to decapitatet (ie, strike on the neck with a sword) those who are enemies of Islam, specifically in the context of the Battle of Badr:

[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, "I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip." -- Qur'an 8:12

So please, understand that the men of the Islamic State have a solid argument on their side that their actions are indeed Islamic and they are merely imitating the Prophet.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Economics and Jihad

I hope this quote will give us some insight regarding the growth of the Islamic State and why people are attracted to it.

"We are at a time of Jihad; Jihad for the sake of Allah is a pleasure, a true pleasure. Mohammed’s followers used to compete to do it. The reason we are poor now is because we have abandoned jihad. If only we can conduct a jihadist invasion at least once a year or if possible twice or three times, then many people on Earth would become Muslims. And if anyone prevents our dawa or stands in our way, then we must kill them or take as hostage and confiscate their wealth, women and children. Such battles will fill the pockets of the Mujahid who can return home with 3 or 4 slaves, 3 or 4 women and 3 or 4 children. This can be a profitable business if you multiply each head by 300 or 400 dirham,. This can be like financial shelter whereby a jihadist, in time of financial need, can always sell one of these heads (meaning slavery). No one can make that much money in one deal (from hard work) even if a Muslim goes to the West to work or do trade. In time of need, that is a good resource for profit."

--Abu Ishak al Huweini

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Matthew Hanley: How Islam Set Back Western Civilization

Wow. Check this out and then read the whole article:

Pirenne stressed that the source of the Roman Empire’s vitality cannot be disassociated from its essentially Mediterranean character and orientation; that clearly remained intact for quite a while. Western trade flourished as before, connected with the great cities of the East – where prosperity, population, and learning were concentrated. The overall features of life throughout the region in 600 were similar to what they had been in 400.

It was not until the advent of Islam in the 7th century, precisely then and only then, that destruction really arrived. Recurrent Islamic raids altered the very orientation of the littoral peoples; they fled the Mediterranean and for the first time looked to the north. East was severed from West, and the previously unified Mediterranean, “having become a Musalman lake, was no longer a thoroughfare of commerce and of thought which it always had been.”

Unlike the German invaders, wherever the Arabs went they ruled. This was a dimension of their religious claims. They sought not conversion per se, but demanded subjection, creating an insuperable barrier between the conquered and the Muslims: “What a contrast between them [the Arabs] and Theodoric, who placed himself at the service of those he had conquered, and sought to assimilate himself to them!” The whole region was thereby transformed, as the Arabs ushered in “a complete break with the past.”
Egyptian papyri, which had been widespread in the West (and a solid indicator of literacy), disappeared, as did distinctive coins that were in use right up until the Arab conquest – leading to the barter system. Despite the literary and archaeological sources, however, Pirenne’s arguments were dismissed in favor of the view that Islam had been (unlike “repressive” Christianity) an enlightening force.

A brilliant and important article. Read it all HERE.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Raqqa, capital of the Islamic State, is 'full of Europeans'

From HERE:

It has become "flooded" with foreign jihadists: "There are many Europeans here. The men are bringing their women and children with them," said Abu Ibrahim. "You see them everywhere in the city. There are a lot of Dutch women. It's shocking."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Islamic State veterans back home in the UK

Well, veterans from the jihad taking place in Caliph Ibrahim's Islamic State are back home in the UK, safe and sound. Is there any way this ends up happy? The answer is no:

Serious questions have been raised as to whether enough is being done to stem the flow of fighters after the Government revealed it has only seized 23 passports this year to prevent them travelling to the war zone.

The Government says there are around 500 British among the fighters while a further 250 are thought to have already returned to the UK where the police and security services are attempting to watch them. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

How you can help the refugees in Iraq?



I am inspired by the bravery of this family in Iraq. Moreover, I know that they are trustworthy people and commend to you their gofundme effort:

http://www.gofundme.com/picketts-in-iraq

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Richard Dawkins on Muslims and Nobel Prizes

Richard Dawkins is reported to have said:

"All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge."

Can this be true? I mean, not that he said it (I don't doubt it), but that the content of his statement is true?

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Baptismal Liturgy for Converts from Islam

Greetings, 

Here is part IV of my series on sacraments and mission, which I started many years ago for St Francis Magazine. This one contains an introduction summarizing why I think that liturgy is valuable for those engaged in mission to and among Muslims, and then contains a liturgy for baptism (of an adult) based on the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (USA), which yes is very liberal, but the liturgy in the Prayer Book  is very good.

So check it out, try it out if you are doing any work among Muslims, and let me know what you think.

'Mission and Sacrament, Part IV: A Liturgy for the Baptism of Muslims, to be Conducted on the Feast of Pentecost' in St Francis Magazine Vol 10:2, June 2014.

The first three articles can be found (in order) here, here, and here.

Peace,

Abu Daoud

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Why the rise of Extremism in the Middle East?

Why the rise of Extermism among Muslims in the Middle East?
by Abu Daoud

I was recently asked to comment on this topic, and here is what I wrote

There is a complex web of reasons, but I think overall here are the main reasons:

1. The failure to achieve success by copying European models, including capitalism and communism. Capitalism cannot work in the ME because it requires a) rule of law, and b) freedom to form new businesses and c) creativity to invent new products. All of these are lacking because of deeply ingrained traditions of favoring one's own religion or family or tribe. I do trace this back to Islam (a lot of people don't), where the dhimmi system forces people to discriminate against non-Muslims, and where the shari'a is clear that women are worth less than men, and of course the Arabo-centric facet of Islam, which more or less implies that God is an Arab, because his book is in Arabic and cannot be translated, and thus Arabs are (in reality, not in theory) better than non-Arabs. (This last reason is why lots of Berbers and Pakistanis and Iranians have left Islam, by the way.) 

2. Regarding creativity, I feel that Islam clearly suppresses it because when you cannot ask basic questions about God and his prophet and book, then at a basic level you are taught not to be critical and analytical. This then overflows from the area of religion into other areas like commerce and computer science and so on. I trace this back historically to the victory of asharites over the mu'atazila and the affirmation of bila kayf--that certain doctrines must be affirmed but without asking why. The doctrine of al insan al kamil (the ideal or perfect man) comes up here too, because a quick glance at Muhammad's life shows he is clearly not perfect.

3. A related, but minor, point: commerce was hindered in the Ottoman Empire because the formation of corporations was legally impossible. So there was no incentive to form large international businesses, because upon the owner's death it had to pass on to his sons, whether they were good or bad. This has been remedied, but centuries too late.

4. This rise of independent nation states and authoritarian governments. One of the most unfortunate aspects of society in the ME is the tendency to always blame others for any problem that takes place, rather than to try to address problems as far as on can. Anyway, with the end of European hegemony countries were formed and to a real degree free to govern themselves. It is true they were never entirely free to do as they please, but this does not matter--no country (or person) is entirely free to do as they please. So authoritarian governments arose and they did not prosper, at least not to the extent that some people thought they should. I too attribute this to the very DNA of Islam. When Muhammad died there was right away a great struggle between the Shi'a and the Sunni, and we also see this principle operating in the wars of apostasy or hurub al ridda. Historically one finds that Islamic societies over the long term alternate between authoritarian governments and anarchy/tribalism. The period of European colonialism artificially enforced Western practices of government and business that were foreign to Islam. And when Europe left, these traditions started to deteriorate. Authoritarian governments silenced public discourse, but they could not or would not silence the discourse of Islam, including Islamic reforms which we in the West call radicalism or extremism, but which are really just reformed Islam.

5. The problem of natural resources. Egypt's population in 1900 was about five million, today it is about 80 million. Many of the countries in the Middle East do not have the natural resources to feed their enormous populations. Right now Egypt imports over 50% of its wheat. That is an amazing number. This naturally results is large numbers of unemployed young men, many cannot get married because they don't have a job. With the reformed Islamic militant ideology (a more accurate term than fundamentalist, I think) present, the opportunity to be part of something new and good and powerful (like the Caliphate) is attractive. This is not so much a reason for the Islamic reformation (to radicalism) but is a key reason that right now it is easily able to get recruits. The Middle East has a demographic profile that makes economic prosperity almost impossible in many countries, coupled with the non-critical education (mentioned above) and the lack of rule of law

6. One often hears that the Arab-Israel problem is at the heart of the problems in the region. I think that even if all Israel-Palestine was again ruled by Muslims and the Jews who arrived by Aliyah were made to leave and then a lot of European and American Jews would leave voluntarily this would not solve anything at all.  Indeed, even if every Jew left and every Palestinian refugee returned and all those apartments in Tel Aviv and Haifa were given to them, it would not decisively change the dynamic described above. I do believe, as unpopular as it is to say so, that many of the problems we see in the ME today can be traced to the very heart of Islam--the life and practice of Muhammad.

More than you wanted to hear I think! Why do you ask? I liked the book Sandcastles: Arabs in search of the Modern World by Milton Viorst on this topic. They have it at the library at St George's College in Jerusalem. I still think that reading Qutb's Milestones is the best intro for people who want to know more. His writings are like those of Martin Luther, sometimes brilliant, sometimes with gaping holes of logic.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Emir Rishawi on the hypostatic union

Emir Rishawi, a convert from Islam, composed this fine reflection, directed at Muslims, trying to explain (I think) what Christians call the hypostatic union and the incarnation:
The mystery of Christ's person, as it seen through the New Testament, is epitomised in his relationship with God the Father. Christ is a man who is related to God through the heart of his message and the depth of his being. There is no difference between the person of Christ, the Word of God, and his message and being. His message is his being, and his being is his message. No one else could say the same, not even the prophets. Every man has his own being, and later he receives from God a message that is independent of his being. But with Jesus the message and the being are identical. His message is to reveal the will of God, manifest his love, and establish his kingdom.
This is from his book Light of Life which you can read online here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

"The sun of jihad has risen..." A new caliphate is born!

A letter written to Muslims around the word from the new Caliphate, just proclaimed!

“The sun of jihad has risen … The glad tidings of good are shining. Triumph looms on the horizon. The signs of victory have appeared. Here the flag of the Islamic State, the flag of tawhīd (monotheism), rises and flutters. Its shade covers land from Aleppo to Diyala.

"… So rush O Muslims and gather around your khalīfah [caliph], so that you may return as you once were for ages, kings of the earth and knights of war. Come so that you may be honored and esteemed, living as masters with dignity. Know that we fight over a religion that Allah promised to support. We fight for an ummah [global Muslim community] to which Allah has given honor, esteem, and leadership, promising it with empowerment and strength on the earth. Come O Muslims to your honor, to your victory. By Allah, if you disbelieve in democracy, secularism, nationalism, as well as all the other garbage and ideas from the west, and rush to your religion and creed, then by Allah, you will own the earth, and the east and west will submit to you. This is the promise of Allah to you. This is the promise of Allah to you."

Read it all HERE and thank you to TIME for a brief article on the topic.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Muhammad interpreting Jesus, according to Richard Croft

From a recent article in St Francis Magazine by Richard Croft:

If Muhammad were accepted as the last universal prophet or even if a last universal prophet is expected, then it would mean that the revelation that came through Muhammad has the authority to correct/reject the previous Scriptures and correct/reject Muhammad's perception of Jewish and Christian ‘false’ doctrines.
 
For example, he rejects the Trinity but understandably, as he conceives it as three gods–God, Jesus and Mary. He rejects Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ but then he understands it to mean that God had sexual intercourse with Mary, and Jesus is their biological son; rather than Jesus being the only one born out from God, the Word. He clearly struggles to understand and rejects Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection; hence he has not understood the significance of the cross in his own life...
 
So what do you think? Is this an accurate assessment of how Muhammad interpreted Jesus?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pope Francis in Middle East: People mus be free to choose their own religion

Good news from the pope's recent visit to the Middle East:
During his first official visit to the Middle East, Pope Francis repeatedly told Muslim audiences that religious freedom is “a fundamental human right” and that governments must allow people to choose their own faith.
From HERE. Pray that freedom to convert from Islam to Christianity will triumph in the Middle East, and that people will disobey the Prophet of Islam who said that, 'whosoever changes his religion, slay him.'

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

William Kilpatrick on the human authorship of the Qur'an

I'm reading an interesting article by William Kilpatrick wherein he, among other things, presents an argument for the human authorship of the Qur'an. None of this is new to me but I thought the following point was argues nicely and in a concise manner:

The purely human origin of the Koran is further suggested by the very human defensiveness displayed by its author. He never tires of reminding his audience that the Koran is a genuine revelation, not a fake one. This obsessive concern with the Koran’s authenticity is exhibited on almost every page. Here is a small sampling:
This Koran could not have been devised by any but God. (10:37)
This is no invented tale, but a confirmation of previous scriptures…. (12:112)
This Book is beyond all doubt revealed by the Lord of the Universe… Do they say: “He has invented it himself”? (32:1-2)
When our clear revelations are recited to them they say… “this is nothing but an invented falsehood.” (34:43)
As I say, these assertions about the authenticity of the revelation appear over and over. Far more space is allotted to vouching for the genuine nature of the revelation than to telling what the revelation is. But what sort of author feels compelled to tell us ad nauseum that his word is not a human invention? It’s not likely that the Author of all Creation would be so insecure about what he had written. On the other hand, a man who had invented it all himself would have good reason to be defensive. Muhammad, however, also realized that the best defense is a good offense. Thus, as the Koran repeatedly reminds its readers, the surest path to hell is to doubt “Our revelations.”

Check it all out here. More articles by Kilpatrick can be found here.

Christians in UK offer safe-houses for converts from Islam

Here is some great news:

A CHRISTIAN campaign group is launching a national network of safe houses for Muslim converts who face ostracism or violent reprisals for leaving their religion.

It says it knows of up to 1,100 former Muslims at risk in Britain but the true number could be 3,000.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, which is organising the network, said: “We are motivated by a deep sense of love and compassion for those that feel trapped in a situation from which they cannot escape.

“The penalty for them at best is to be cut off from their family; at worst they face death. This is happening not just in Sudan and Nigeria but in east London. The government has failed to deal with the rise in anti-Christian sentiment.”

News of the support network for converts comes in the wake of international outrage at Sudan for imposing a death sentence on Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a pregnant Christian woman, for refusing to renounce her faith. Her estranged father was Muslim.

Michael Nazir-Ali, a former bishop of Rochester, said a “mistaken respect for culture” meant that British converts were not being protected.

From Nicholas Hellen at The Sunday Times and HT to David Virtue. God willing we will see similar moves in France and Italy and Germany, where they are much needed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Discipleship and believers of a Muslim background: St Francis Magazine Vol 10:1

As a contributing editor for St Francis Magazine I am proud to share with everyone our first issue for 2014. The focus of this issue is discipleship for believers who have come from a Muslim background.

I believe this is one of the most strategic topics that the Church must address in relation to our mission to Islam. Let me explain: over the last few decades hundreds of thousands of Muslims and ex-Muslims have made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ. That is the good news. The bad news is that a good number of these people have a faith that peters out, gets tired, becomes silent and defeated, or even revert to Islam.

"Well," someone might say, "That means they never had a true faith at all." That might indeed be the case, but that is not our call to make. I am certain that in many cases the problem was the lack of a firm foundation of discipleship and training.

The April 2014 issue of St Francis Magazine takes up this important issue. Here is one sample (and more to come):

"Discipleship and Leadership among BMB's" by Daniel Edwards. Here is a sample:

As missions, we must begin to think seriously of how to shift our focus to include evangelism and discipleship, and then to progress from discipleship to leadership preparation.The time has come to identify and to build up future leaders for the church among BMBs.The emerging church is in great need for many Timothys to carry on the heavy responsibility of leadership. A friend of mine interviewed Mr. A. Khidri, the director of the Bible society in Algeria. One of the questions asked was: “What is the church’s greatest need in your homeland today?” Mr. Khidri responded to this vital question by saying: “Our greatest need is to develop servant leaders with Biblical qualifications and deep theological understanding.”


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bernard of Clairveaux on the Unity of the Trinity and Love

From On Loving God, Ch. XII:

For what preserves the glorious and ineffable Unity of the blessed Trinity, except love? Charity, the law of the Lord, joins the Three Persons into the unity of the Godhead and unites the holy Trinity in the bond of peace. Do not suppose me to imply that charity exists as an accidental quality of Deity; for whatever could be conceived of as wanting in the divine Nature is not God. No, it is the very substance of the Godhead; and my assertion is neither novel nor extraordinary, since St. John says, 'God is love' (I John 4.8). One may therefore say with truth that love is at once God and the gift of God, essential love imparting the quality of love.

This quote caught my attention because it points to the relation between God's being love, and the Holy Trinity. This is an important topic in our witness to Muslims, of course.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bat Ye'or on Jihad, Waqf and Israel


From 'Israel, Christianity, and Islam: The Challenge of the Future' in Midstream, February/March 2001, p 3. By Bat Ye'or.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Myths about the Middle Ages

I get tired of hearing from Muslims and (more recently atheists) about how bad and terrible the Middle Ages were. Here is a good summary of the myth we were taught, and which is wrong:

 One fable that most of us absorbed, usually in childhood thanks to school teachers, was the pretty fable of "the Renaissance".  It tells of how the Greeks and Romans founded western civilisation and invented things which were good, like science and reason and realistic art and nice buildings.  But then the Roman Empire collapsed and Europe fell into the "Dark Ages" when everyone was ignorant and stupid and superstitious and dirty and feudal.  But luckily along came the glorious Renaissance, where Leonardo invented flying machines and paintings became realistic and therefore good again and everyone became much cleaner and more rational.

Read more here at Armarium Magnum.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Major problem for would-be missionaries: student debt

When we left for the mission field back in the day I had about $5000 of student loans to pay off, and my wife had none. I didn't mind the idea of just continuing to pay it off (I think the payment was $110 per month) but my wife felt it would better to use some of our savings to pay it off, so we did.

But I went to an inexpensive state university and lived frugally. What about students who go to private universities and maybe don't live so frugally? And what about the rising cost of higher education in the USA? They can accrue a very large amount of debt pretty easily. What then should missionary agencies do when one of these students approaches them and applies to be a missionary?

This timely article addresses some of the complexities involved and proposes a creative answer.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Algerian Christian refused burial in public cemetery

A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.
“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.
Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.
From World Watch Monitor

But really, in the end this is good. It means that Christians must form their own identity, including places of burial. And in terms of North Africa, this is most fitting, as the first Christians there achieved legal recognition as burial societies, and some of their first real estate was in grave yards.

In the end is my beginning, as TS Eliot said. Indeed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Abu Daoud on Insider Movements at Biblical Missiology

The folks at Biblical Missiology have recently posted an article I wrote which is related to the question of Insider Movements. Read it all HERE.

Here is a section:
Let me return to my original observation in this article. If Lewis, Higgins and Dave Bogs are right that IM is a recuperation of the real meaning of the incarnation, then, logically, there never should have been One Apostolic Church to begin with. The Jews should have stayed on as Jews who follow Jesus, and the pagans should have stayed in their various cults and philosophies, trying to be light and salt there. The mixed church of Antioch (where they, both Jew and gentile, were first called Christians) was really a mistake—one that represented a failure to understand Jesus’ Gospel and that to honor their god-given identities (Rebecca Lewis’ phrase), the gentiles and Jews should have stayed within their own social-religious communities, rather than embracing this brand new one—being Christians.

Further, the mixed churches in cities like Rome and Galatia were likewise errors. These believers, both Jews and non-Jews, had mistakenly supposed that they in some way had come into a new oikos and a new identity, and Paul, lacking wisdom as usual, taught them these things. Indeed, a triumph of IM hemereneutics and practice would have meant that Peter should have been victorious when Paul confronted him. Indeed, Paul, in violating kashrut was stepping needlessly outside of his oikos, while Peter himself was honoring his God-given identity as a Galilean Jew.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Pope Francis and Islam

The pope recently released an encyclical, Gospel of Joy, and he has a few things to say about Islam in there. Jesuit father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian by birth, takes a critical look at some of the statements in that encyclical. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is an example. He starts by quoting the encyclical, and then offering his own comments. This part is about evangelism:
The same theme is found in n. 251: "In this dialogue, ever friendly and sincere, attention must always be paid to the essential bond between dialogue and proclamation".
Sometimes, in dialogue, when it comes to proclamation, it appears to displeasure our partners, who immediately accuse us of proselytizing . Instead, it has nothing to do with proselytism. It is about love: out of love , I will proclaim the good news that frees me and gives me joy. And you too should offer me the good that you have encountered in your faith. We must rid ourselves of diatribes, of intellectual arguments and practices aimed at winning the other over, rather witness to truth with one another.
Amen! Thank your Fr Samir for this excellent writing. Read it all HERE.