Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Islam, Fear, and the Gospel's Demand (from Desiring God Blog)

Jerusalem, Dome of the RockImage via Wikipedia
Ted Esler writes:

For many evangelicals, the threat of Islam—both real and perceived—has sometimes distracted from obedience to the demands of the gospel. While radical Islam certainly has a political agenda that should not be minimized, we should, in obedience, follow Jesus' command to love them.
How best should we love Muslims? We can pray, we can show them tangible acts of love, and we can send emissaries to them. While it is very disconcerting to see Islam grow within the borders of the USA, our hearts should break more over the fact that 1.2 to 1.5 billion people don’t know Jesus and will never experience the joy it is to know him. Most will never meet a disciple of Christ unless some of us go.
Amen, Ted.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mosque at Ground Zero - Some Clarification and my take

Much is being made of the Cordoba Initiative, an Islamic cultural center being built a couple of blocks away from where the Twin Towers used to stand in New York City. There is a lot of misinformation being put out there as well. Robert Spencer and Pamela Gellar keep calling this an Islamic Supremist Center. Based on the United States Constitution and the zoning laws of New York City, there is nothing wrong with this center being built there. One hesitancy might be that this is going to send a wrong message, which is why my friend and former advisor in seminary, Warren Larson (Director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies), said he opposed it. The following article from the New York Times actually clears up a few things:
Since long before the Islamist terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, a storefront mosque has been sitting on West Broadway in TriBeCa, a dozen blocks from the World Trade Center. No one seems to have ever minded its being there.

Okay, this mosque has been there for more than 10 years and nobody cared.  Continuing in the article:

No one is known to have protested the fact that three blocks from ground zero, on Murray Street off West Broadway, there is a strip joint. It prefers to call itself a gentlemen’s club. A man stood on the street corner the other day handing out free passes to willing gentlemen.

On Church Street, around the corner from where Cordoba House would rise, there is a store that sells pornographic videos and an assortment of sex toys. A few doors east of the planned Islamic center, there is an Off-Track Betting office. Spilling onto the sidewalk in front of it the other day were men who would have been described in my old Bronx neighborhood as degenerate gamblers.

A strip joint, a porno store and a government-run bookie operation. No one has organized demonstrations to denounce those activities as defiling the memory of the men and women who died a few hundred yards away.
Okay, so, we are okay with porn, naked women, and gambling, but not okay with a house of prayer. Not to say that they're praying rightly, but there seems to be a problem here. Many of the opposition claim that we were founded on Christian principles and that we have a duty to oppose the building of mosques. Many of the founding fathers were deists, at best, but hardly Christians. Our Constitution guarantees that Congress cannot establish a state religion, meaning which, this nation is not a Christian nation. We are not a Theocracy. I think the protests are hurting the Christian witness more than anything. The following is what I think is being most missed and this is astounding because it shows how much people do not know about Islam (emphasis mine):
New York officialdom, while sensitive to the displeased families, has long made it clear that it is not about to hand them veto power over how the city builds and rebuilds. Officials from the mayor on down have endorsed Cordoba House, in large measure because of Imam Feisal, a Sufi who has cultivated relations with other religions and who has spoken out against the violence of Islamist fanatics. He has given no one a reason to doubt his sincerity.
Wait a second! A Sufi? He's not a Shi'a (Iran/Iraq) or Sunni (the majority of Muslims)? But he is a Muslim, that should count for something, right? Not necessarily. So, what does that mean, that he's a Sufi? Sufism is defined as a mystically-oriented school of thought within Islam (Phil Parshall, Bridges to Islam). Dr. Parshall is perhaps a leading Christian expert on Sufism as he dealt with it a good deal when he was in an Asian country as a Missionary most of his life. I will be referencing the above book a few times in the next little bit.

Parshall says the following about Sufism:
Sufism is the embrasive influence of mysticism within Islam. I particularly like to use the word influence in attempting to define and understand Sufism. Mystical Muslims may or may not fit into categories or orders. Their behavior and even doctrine may differ widely among themselves, yet there are definite patterns within their fraternity that have the effect of creating homogeneity within heterogeneity. A Muslim has defined Sufism as "truth without form." That may be basically correct, but the so-called truth will be identifiable as we study the way it is expressed within the multiple sects found throughout the Islamic world. (Bridges, p. 26).
In Sufism, there is a striving for one's personal holiness, emphasizing love. There is little concern for heaven or hell, but only love (Bridges, pp. 27-28). In other words, Sufism is not the Islam we think of when we watch the evening news and see a bomb has been blown up in Baghdad or Kabul. No, Sufism, if anything, can be seen as the peaceful side of Islam.  Many Sunnis and Shi'a shun Sufism as it does not adhere to strict tenets of Islam.  Sufism has a history of syncretism as well, as can be seen by the history of the Sufi Imam of this mosque in New York City.



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Friday, July 02, 2010

Free Online Course on Islam

Justin Taylor writes about this free online course on Islam by Dr. Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Theological Seminary. Dr. Tennent wrote the article on Islam for the ESV Study Bible and has been a professor at both Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Toccoa Falls College (my Alma Mater). Find more information here.
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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free Resources on Islam

His Peace Upon Us reports on a few free resources on Islam.

Free "Discover Islam" E-book Resources DVD- You have to fill out your name and address, but the DVD should arrive soon.

Free E-Book on Islamic View of the Prophets - Downloadable .rar file. I use 7-Zip to extract the archive.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kid-centered parenting

Today's society promotes kid-centered parenting. You can see it in the commercials on television, the psychologists on the talk shows, the news stories, and in the government. The U.N. has put forth the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child which nearly every nation in the world has ratified. The U.S., along with Somalia, have not ratified this treaty. If the U.S. were to do so, we would, in effect, be handing over the parenting of our children to the U.N. In short, this is a horrific treaty that takes away the rights of parents to raise their children how they see fit, with regards to discipline, religion, and schooling. The Obama administration has indicated that they would like to see this treaty ratified. That being said, what are parents doing today that reflect kid-centered parenting. This is the first of two posts on this topic. The second will give some guidelines for God-centered parenting. In the meantime, look at this checklist and see if you are guilty of any of the following. Let me know if I missed anything.
  1. You threaten to spank your child or some other form of discipline but never follow through.
  2. Your child eats the same food at each meal time which may be different from what you have fixed for yourself and your spouse. (There are specific cases where a child has to eat something different due to allergies. This is not what I am talking about.)
  3. Your child fusses about their food and you fix something different for them.
  4. Your child asks for something in the store every time you go and you buy it for them.
  5. Your child has a television and/or a computer in their room.
  6. Your child has a cell phone before they learn to drive.
  7. Your child has never cried themself to sleep.
  8. Your child cries when you go to leave them in church nursery and you stay around, rather than leave them.
  9. You attempt to put your child in time-out, but when they get up, you do nothing about it and assume they learned their lesson.
  10. Your child never does chores or picks up their toys.
I'm sure there is more, but these are the ones I could think of right now. Let me know if you can think of any others.

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