Good news from the Middle East

We spent a few hours in the Dubai airport a couple years ago on our way to and from Kenya, but didn’t go out into the city.  It was a huge and wildly busy airport 24 hours a day.  Even from the airport windows the city looked beautiful.  I assumed it was as restrictive about Christianity as other Muslim nations, but apparently not.  Via Dubai: Amazing and Strategic City – Desiring God.

Proselytizing is against the law in the UAE. But what that means in essence is: You can’t pay someone to convert (as if that were possible) or unduly coerce them to change religions. But speaking the gospel of Jesus Christ abounds.

There are many Christian churches, and the ruler of the emirate is favorable to them for the sake of the expatriates. Only about 13% of Dubai’s local population is local Emirati people. The other 87% are expatriates, half of whom are of Indian descent. Thousands of these are Christians.

Therefore, the gospel sounds forth weekly in Dubai. And on the university campuses, there are organizations that aggressively seek to speak to students about what the Bible really teaches.

That is the best possible definition of proselytizing.  By definition, authentic Christian faith can’t be bought or coerced.  I hope and pray that this situation lasts and that the Gospel spreads from there to the rest of the region.

Reverse missionaries & the Great De-Commission

u-turn.jpgA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

Typical evangelism for any religion involves someone going out at some degree of expense and risk to share what one believes to be true.  It is a pretty simple and logical concept: If you think you know the true path to forgiveness, joy, peace and eternal life and you truly care about others, then of course you’ll want to share the Good News (regardless of how you define it).

However, some people hold the view that all religions are equally valid paths to God.  As I was reflecting on the discussions on the Jesus is still the only way thread, I was reminded that people who hold the “all religions are valid” view should have a completely different model of evangelism.  Wouldn’t it be most loving for them to send “reverse missionaries” to encourage everyone to follow their local religions?  After all, consider the persecuted people around the world who could avoid pain, suffering, economic loss, prison and even death if they just held beliefs more palatable to their culture.

For example, you’d want to send people to Christians in India, N. Korea, China, all Arab countries and more to explain to them that Hinduism/Islam/Buddhism/etc. are just as good and that they should leave Christianity to maximize their comfort and happiness.  If you follow any organizations like Voice of the Martyrs you are probably familiar with how much Christians suffer for their faith in many parts of the world.  Why suffer like that if other religions are just as good?

And loving universalists (those who believe everyone is going to Heaven, regardless of what they believe) should go to China to encourage people to be atheists.

What a tragedy that hundreds of thousands or even millions of Christians died unnecessarily for their faith over the centuries.  They should have just recanted and gone with the local religion, right?

What I’ve found is that religious pluralists and universalists do no such thing. They typically think their “home religion” is correct (why else would they belong to those denominations?) but are afraid to offend someone or risk rejection for sharing their view, or perhaps are unwilling to work to learn their beliefs well enough to defend them.

Shouldn’t false teachers who insist that all religions lead to God lend their time and money to being reverse missionaries?  Yet I never hear of them undertaking such efforts to reduce the “needless” suffering of Christians around the world.  Real faith is behaving as if what you say you believe is true.  Yet these folks don’t follow through to the logical consequences of their worldview.  This is one of the easiest ways to spot false teachers.

Of course, since I hold the view that Jesus is the one way to salvation then it is on my heart to share that with people.

If you encounter “Christians” claiming that other or even all religions are valid paths to God, ask them simply and politely if that means we should end Christian evangelism efforts and “evangelize” people to follow whatever “valid” religion will result in the least persecution for them.  It will help expose their false view and hopefully encourage them to think more carefully.  They shouldn’t judge God for “only” providing one way to salvation, they should be eternally grateful that He offered a way at all.

Who is a Christian? Who is a Muslim?

A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

church.jpgIf I claimed to be a bacon-loving, Jew-loving, Koran-denying, Mohammad-denying Muslim, would you take me seriously?  I doubt it.

I have found that for many people the word “Christian” has lost or changed meaning.  It used to mean someone who was an authentic follower of Jesus.  Now it is often used as a synonym for “nice,” as in, “She’s a really Christian person,” or to describe someone who goes to church sometimes but rejects the essentials of the faith.

Theological liberals tend to get very wounded if you imply that they don’t hold Christian views.  They’ve been in theologically liberal churches so long and have such a low view of scripture that they think that is the way church is supposed to be.

Mind you, I don’t go around saying who is and isn’t an authentic Christian.  That’s God’s job.  I’m not qualified and wouldn’t want it even if I were.

Jesus did say that you will know them by their fruit, so it is fair to examine people’s lives to see if they have evidence for their faith.  But mistakes can be made during fruit inspection.  We would have probably thought that Judas was the real deal, and we probably would have thought that the criminal on the cross was not.

But it does seem fair to point out when self-described Christians don’t hold views that have historically applied to Christians, as evidenced in the Bible, countless creeds and denominational statements of faith.  That means that they are either “saved and confused” or not real Christians.

First, consider this conversation:

Me: I’m a Muslim.

Real Muslim: No, you’re not.

Me: Really, I am, and I’m offended that you say I’m not.

RM: Do you believe the Koran is the word of God?

Me: No, of course not.  It was written by a man, and has obvious historical errors like saying that Jesus didn’t die on the cross.  It was written hundreds of years after Christ, and even sources outside the Bible claim that Jesus himself died.  And don’t get me started about all the violence it encourages!  Why trust the Koran?

RM: Do you believe in Allah as the one true God?

Me: No.

RM: Do you like Jewish people?

Me: Yes.

RM: What do you think about pork?

Me: Mmmmmmm . . . bacon!

RM: You aren’t a Muslim.

Me: Yes I am!  How dare you question my faith!

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Now consider this:

Me: Are you a Christian?

Liberal theologian: Yes.

Me: Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?

LT: No.  Even though it claims to speak for God roughly 3,000 times, I think those are all made up by people.

Me: Do you think Jesus is God?

LT: No.

Me: Do you believe any of the miracles as recorded in the Bible are true?

LT: No.  Miracles can’t happen.  Writers made those up.

Me: Do you think Jesus is the only way to salvation?

LT: No.
Me: But the Bible teaches that in over 100 passages!

LT: [Pause] Uh, so what?  The Bible was written by men . . . [trails off because he didn't know that]

Me: Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?

LT: No.

Me: Do you look for opportunities to share the Gospel as outlined in the Bible?

LT: Of course not.  All religions (or no religions) are valid paths to God.

Me: Do you realize how radically different your basic views are compared to Christians throughout the last 2,000 years, especially to the countless Christians who died rather than recant their faith?

LT: Sort of . . . but we’re smarter than they were.

Me: Indeed.  But you say you are Christian?

LT: Yes.  How dare you question my faith?!

Is the first conversation that much different than the second?

I haven’t had that precise conversation with any liberal Christians, but it is a highly accurate composite.  Try it yourself.  I’m virtually certain that any of the “Jesus Seminar” members would answer the questions that way.  For example, I read a book co-authored by Marcus Borg (a member of the Jesus Seminar) and he held all the heretical views noted above, plus more.  Most of the theologically Liberal people at the Sojourners’ blog are just like that.

These people may be terrific citizens and friendly neighbors, but calling themselves Christians distorts the traditional and real meaning of the word.  Again, if I claimed to be a bacon-loving, Jew-loving, Koran-denying, Mohammad-denying Muslim, would you take me seriously?  So why take seriously those who claim the name of Christ yet mock the essentials of the faith?

What about the Crusades?! And the Inquisition?! Etc.?!

cross.jpg

A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

When people try to dismiss Christianity or belief in God by asking, “What about the Crusades?!” (or some other bad thing), this is my first reaction:

  1. You don’t judge an ideology by those who violate its tenets.
  2. I make it a habit not to apologize for things that a) happened 1,000 years ago and b) I didn’t do.
  3. If there is no God then there is no moral grounding to criticize the Crusades or anything else.
  4. None of those things disprove the central claims of Christianity, such as the physical resurrection of Jesus, his divinity, etc.

Many critics try to use issues such as the Crusades, the Inquisition or just run of the mill hypocrisy as trump cards against Christianity. If people did the opposite of what the Bible teaches then at worst they were not Christians and at best they were, at least temporarily, bad ambassadors for Christ.  Those issues are serious, of course, but they have zero impact on whether the Bible is true and whether Jesus is the the only way to forgiveness of your sins, reconciliation with God and to eternal life.

The same goes for other religions and worldviews: We need to understand what they really teach to judge them properly.

Another possible response is to say that you’ll take responsibility for the thousands of people killed by “Christians” provided that the atheists take responsibility for the one-hundred million plus killed by Lenin, Mao Tse-Tung, Pol Pot and others.  The Salem Witch trials killed 18 people.  The Inquisition killed about 2,000.  That is 2,018 too many, to be sure, but keep in mind two things: The perpetrators did the opposite of what Jesus commanded and 2,018 murders was a slow afternoon for atheists like Stalin and Mao. And keep in mind that the Crusades were not what you see in the pro-Muslim politically correct version you hear about today.  They were largely a defensive maneuver.  Here are 4 myths about them:

  • Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  • Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  • Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  • Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Also, if someone wants to claim that Christianity isn’t true because of bad things done in Jesus’ name, then they would need to concede that the vast number of good things done in his name would be evidence for Christianity.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we should gloss over bad things done in Jesus’ name.  Those are serious issues and an embarrassment to Christianity.  We can respond to them and use them to express Biblical truths.

Was the Inquisition wrong?  Of course!  It is completely un-Biblical to think you can or should force someone to believe something.  When the rich young ruler walked away sadly after being told he must give up everything to follow Jesus (Matthew 19), Jesus didn’t run and tackle him.  He didn’t even offer to negotiate and take half.   The text says that Jesus loved the young man, but He didn’t force him to believe.  You come to him on his terms or not at all.

Mainline Christian denominations have caved on important Biblical concepts regarding sexuality – easy divorce, promiscuity, abortion and various perversions.  These false teachers abandoned essentials of the faith such as the deity, exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ as well.  They have grossly misinterpreted the Bible, but that doesn’t mean Christianity isn’t true.  It means people have drifted from or abandoned Biblical teachings.  Ideally, people wouldn’t judge Christianity based on what those people do and say.

Some “Christians” abused scriptures to justify slavery (maybe they were really Christians, and maybe not . . . that was between them and God).  But what critics typically forget is that Christians who properly interpreted scriptures, such as heroes like William Wilberforce, were the ones who helped end that type of slavery.

Yes, self-proclaimed Christians have done many bad things.  But what is the answer – that Christianity is false?  Of course not.  The answer is more Christianity, or more specifically, more authentic Christianity.

Biblical illiteracy is part of the problem.  The more people know about what the Bible really says, the more quickly they can stop heretical movements.

Are bad actions done in the name of Christ a problem for Christianity even if the perpetrators may not have been true Christians and the acts were un-Biblical?  In a moral sense, no.  Again, you don’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets.

But in a practical sense it is a problem for Christianity, because these issues can be a stumbling block for non-believers.  We need to be sensitive to those who were wounded by Christians (real and fake) and be prepared to explain the truth in love.

Roundup

One of the most sadly and morbidly ironic things ever: Brooklyn ‘Life Coach’ Couple Who Hosted Self-Help Radio Show Commit Double Suicide.

They hosted a monthly radio show called “The Pursuit of Happiness” on WBAI that focused on “personal development and growth.” WBAI describes them as speakers and “life coaches.”

Hat tip: Wintery Knight

It isn’t just harassment from the IRS, it is from the EPA and other organizations such as the police.  Yet the media is following the Democrats’ script that these abuses of power are an overreach by Republicans.  Nonsense.

ACLU Sues to Allow Abortions Based on Race, Who’s the Racist Now? — Charming.  They also defend gender-selection abortions, nearly all of which destroy females for the sole reason that they are female.  Why?  Because the Left is pro-women, of course!

On May 29, the ACLU filed suit (on behalf of two civil rights groups) to stop an Arizona pro-life law.This law, passed in 2011, is designed to prohibit doctors and abortion providers from performing abortions that they know are based on the gender or race of the child. One could reasonably assume that all Americans – and civil rights groups in particular – would oppose targeting any human being for death based simply on her gender or race. Sadly, in the face of abortion, we can no longer make reasonable assumptions. While somewhere between 77-86% of Americans agree with banning abortions based on gender, the ACLU has determined to rebel against this basic ideal of a civilized society. To the ACLU, abortion on demand apparently means that abortion done for any reason – no matter how outrageous – must be fully supported. It’s a sad day in America when leading civil rights groups take a stand on the side of gendercide and blatant racism. Yet this is one more horrible direction where abortion leads us. Arizona’s law does not penalize women who seek abortions based on the gender or race of their child. It only penalizes the abortionist. Despite this obvious fact, the executive director of one of the civil rights groups the ACLU is representing stated:  ‘This law is clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing that purports to be about achieving equality for women when in reality it’s an attempt to control our reproductive decisions-making,’ said Miriam Yeung, NAPAWF’s executive director. ‘We hope the judgment in this case will expose the true intentions of the politicians behind these abortion bans and show unequivocally that they discriminate against women of color, Asian-American and African-American in particular.’

As always, the spin about “reproductive decisions” fails the basic science test.  All abortions are designed to kill human beings who have already been reproduced.  The decision isn’t whether to reproduce but whether to kill the unwanted human being who has been reproduced. More evil from the ACLU: But … It Was Consensual!

The case of 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt, charged with a felony for having sex with a 14-year-old, has elicited the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, which calls this “behavior that is both fairly innocuous and extremely common.” Well, OK, if 18 and 14 is no problem, how about 13 and 19? And how about a foursome? Three 19-year-old northwest Indiana men have been charged separately with child molesting involving the same 13-year-old girl, the Post-Tribune is reporting.

The push for “morning after pills” and abortions for young girls and the Planned Parenthood-style “kids should have sex when they think they are ready” nonsense have handed pedophiles and statutory rapists a great defense: If the kids can have consensual sex with other 12-13 year olds, why not 15? Or 18? or 28?

Sifting Reality asked, “Is there a legitimate reason abortion defenders fight to limit or eliminate parental notification laws?”  My answer: No. The typical argument I’ve heard is that the girl might get hurt by her parents. But we have laws for that. And take it to its logical conclusion: Kids “might” get abused for getting in trouble at school, or getting bad grades, or getting in trouble with the police, etc. So using the pro-abortion logic of insisting that the risk of getting abused means you don’t have a right to know that your child is having a physically and emotionally dangerous medical procedure to kill your grandchild, you would to give every kid all A’s, you couldn’t discipline or arrest them, etc. It is only the depraved desire to be able to kill unwanted human beings that would make someone even consider that stupid argument.

Video: Tea Party activist describes IRS intimidation tactics — This is the tip of the iceberg.  This should be a thoroughly well-documented anti-IRS issue for many years to come.

And another, where they protect the baby killers at Planned Parenthood from being protested — Pro-life victim of IRS targeting testifies before Ways and Means Committee.

Then there is the audacity of the Democrats and their owned media to blame the victims of the IRS abuse.  They deliberately abused their power to intimate donors.

5 Lies the Democrats Told To Sell Obamacare — And they weren’t even clever lies.  They were identified as lies before it even passed.

Obamacare hasn’t fully taken effect yet, but when it does, it’s only going to get worse. Everything from death panels to unimaginably long waits for surgeries to bureaucrats denying effective, relatively common, currently in use treatments because they are “too expensive” are all coming down the pike. Obamacare is too much of a disaster to truly fix; so the best thing we can do right now is let this nightmare become reality, let people see how bad it is and then insist on a repeal or bust. Either the Democrats live with the disaster they’ve inflicted on the American people at the ballot box long term or they do the right thing and allow us to repeal this monstrosity before it does even more damage to our country.

From the religion of peace and the politically correct cowards who refuse to call it out:

Something simple that every Christian should know about the Quran

Please read this short but extremely important article: The Qu’ran says the Bible is not corrupt.  This is a great message to share with Muslims who have been told that the Bible has been corrupted.  Using their own “holy book” we can point them back to what should be a common source: The Bible.

The short version: The Quran itself claims that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are from Allah and that Allah’s words cannot be changed.

Here’s a sample:

The Muslims repeatedly claim that the Bible has been corrupted and that the Qu’ran is the only trustworthy scripture in existence. This is why Muslims often attack the Bible. But this cannot be acording to the Quran. The Quran says that the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the gospel were all given by God.

Torah – “We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers,” (Sura 2:87).1

Psalms – “We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms,” (4:163).

Gospel – “It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong),” (3:3).

. . .

We see that the Qu’ran states that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel were all given by God. With this we Christians heartily agree. But, the Muslims claim that the Bible is corrupted and full of contradictions. If that is so, then it would seem they do not believe the Qu’ran since the Qu’ran says that the Word of God cannot be altered:

“Rejected were the messengers before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers,” (6:34).

. . .

This means that at that time the Bible, which was in existence, could not have been corrupted because the Qu’ran states that God’s word cannot be corrupted. The question I have for the Muslims is “When and where was the Bible corrupted, since the Qu’ran says that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are from Allah and Allah’s words cannot be changed?”

Update: I should have just linked to this: According to the Qur’an, the Qur’an is false.

–The Old Testament (the Book) and the Gospels (the Injil) were written chronologically prior to the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an claims that the Book and the Injil are the Word of Allah.
–The Word of Allah cannot be changed.
–The manuscripts of the Book and the Injil prior to and in the time of Muhammad and at the time the Qur’an was compiled bear the same message as the Bible we have today.
–The Bible makes theological claims in direct opposition to the theological claims of the Qur’an.
–The Qur’an insists we can and should trust the Bible (which is God’s Word and cannot be changed or corrupted).
–Since the Bible came before the Qur’an, and the Bible is the incorruptible word of God, then anything coming after the Bible which claims to be the Word of God but is different from the Bible, it is therefore false and not of God.
–Therefore, if the Bible is accurate (from 2, 3, and 5) then the Qur’an is false (from 2, 3, 6, and 7).
–Put more briefly: If the Qur’an is true, then the Bible is true, which means the Qur’an is false — and by extension, so is the religion of Islam.

And here’s another great set of resources for sharing the truth with Muslims.

—–

Bonus: Another simple but crucial thing to know about the Quran is that it makes a clear historical error about the death of Jesus. This passage explicitly denies that Jesus died on the cross:

And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.

Quran, Sura 4:157-158

That is a very clear claim that Jesus did not die on the cross, whereas we know from the Bible and even secular history that Jesus did die on the cross. Then one guy came along over 500 years later with a radical new story about how Jesus didn’t die on the cross, though he had zero evidence behind it.  Zero.

When I speak with Muslims I always bring this example up matter-of-factly.  First I clarify with them that this is what the Quran teaches.   They always agree, except one guy who wasn’t familiar with it (I showed him the reference and I think it helped plant some seeds of doubt).

Then I just explain why I hold the view that Jesus died on the cross: Lots of testimonies written close to the event and plenty of secular historians backing it up vs. one guy over 500 years later with an alleged vision from God.  No serious historian would consider the Islamic version to be more credible.

Is it possible that Mohammad was right about Jesus not dying on the cross?  In a hyper-technical sense, I suppose so.  But you’d have to throw every historical event ever up for grabs using that approach.

This isn’t some small issue, either.  It is an essential claim for Christianity and a key error in the Quran.

Roundup

Free PowerPoint slides on apologetics.

Department of Defense states that it will punish Christians for evangelizing — And make no mistake, they will have incredibly loose definitions of “evangelizing.”  These radical changes to our freedoms of religion and speech are coming like a freight train.  If you are just a social Christian you should probably save yourself some trouble and get out now.

More ridiculous actions: Runner points to God in gratitude and team gets disqualified.

Massive Use of Food Stamps by Illegal Aliens — Not surprising.  Just the mere talk of amnesty has a dramatic impact on the influx of illegal aliens.

Good news! Liberty University offers scholarship to persecuted Eagle Scout — He is still being charged with a felony for the simple “mistake” of exercising his constitutional rights.

I hope your kids and grandkids survived Beat Up A White Kid Day. What, the mainstream media didn’t tell you about that?

How the LGBTQ leaders talk when they think no one is listening (Hat tip: Americans For Truth About Homosexuality):

1. Monogamy is only an illusion, there is no such thing, and it is good that monogamy does not exist.
2. There is no problem with having 3, 4, or 5 legal parents for a child.
3. Marriage is oppression
4. Marriage is not a life long relationship
5. Marriage is inadequate and needs to be redefined
6. Fidelity needs to be redefined
7. Sex is more interesting than marriage
8. There is a need to separate the ideas of sexuality and intimacy
9. Commitment should not be equated with monogamy
10. Marriage should not exist
11. The institution of marriage will change with the advent of homosexual “marriage”

“Gun Control” Was Going On Long Before Gunpowder — Far too many people are ignorant of history and the concept of original sin, so they carelessly give up freedoms that people shed blood to obtain.

Ew, gross! NY Times, Washington Post reject ad showing Planned Parenthood sex ed images (explicit) — Think about that.  PP shows images to 10 year olds that these newspapers won’t show.  These baby-killing perverts should not only be de-funded but in jail.

Pew: 64% of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan support death penalty for leaving Islam — And those weren’t even the countries with the highest percentages.

Police say liberal student activist threatened herself with rape in Facebook hoax, framed conservatives — the title says it all.

Ms. Wanker-Simons can now join the long list of liberal hate hoaxers that includes among others:

• Olander Cuthrell
• Charlie Rogers
• Sharmeka Moffitt
• Joseph Baken
• Alexandra Pennell
• Aimee Whitchurch and Christel Conklin
• Quinn Matney
• Aubriana Banks
• Sarah Marshak
• Tawana Brawley
• Crystal Gail Mangum
• Kerri Dunn
• Leah Miller
• Ahmad Saad Nasim

Obama: Huh, “I’m not familiar” with Benghazi whistleblowers being threatened — This already looked pretty fishy, but when he pretends at a press conference that he hadn’t even heard about it you know there is something there.  Even if whistleblowers weren’t threatened, the odds are zero that Obama would not have been prepped for that question before a press conference.

Despite sequestration, Obama funds homosexual groups in other countries — Your tax dollars at work: Borrowing from China to spread a message of perversion.  Oh, and it is a higher priority than White House tours, air traffic employees, etc.

Consistency: You’re doing’ it wrong.