Archive for the 'Islam' Category

07
Apr
17

God, the Church, Refugees and the Gospel

I’ve recently quoted the following a number of times

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him

Acts 17 26-27

Over a year ago I referred to the above quote when I wrote the following on a Christian forum, in reply to comments about the potential danger of the “flood” of Muslim refugees to the west.

To me it shows that God, not man, is in control of national boundaries. And he will change those boundaries to suit the purposes of His Kingdom and to create conditions conducive to people seeking and potentially finding Him.

That could work in multiple ways including:

1) Moving believers to unbelieving areas to take the gospel where it hasn’t been heard before.

2) Moving unbelievers into an area where they have more chance of hearing the gospel.

3) Moving hostile unbelievers into a lukewarm area where the gospel used to mean something, but doesn’t any more, where what is left of Christian faith will be tested and refined by the influx of those hostile unbelievers.

04
Apr
17

Underground Iranian Church

I came across this video after following links recommended by Jeanne T given in the comments section of a recent thread.


 

At the beginning of February I finished reading a book about the growth of Christianity in Iran. Too Many to Jail, by Mark Bradley. I thought I’d written a “review” of it here and wanted to link to the review after the above video. However, I couldn’t find it and suspect my memory was of an email I sent to a friend at the time.

 

The book tells of growth in the underground church in Iran, and suggests that Iran’s history and culture has prepared the country for the gospel.

In recent decades, the Islamic government of Ayatollah Khomeini , followed later by the Khomeini inspired Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency, caused a lot of disillusionment among Iranian Muslims who couldn’t reconcile the words and actions of “Allah’s representatives” with their own idea of what God was like.

Bradley also writes of other aspects of Iranian society that helped make Iranians look favourably upon Jesus and how some had been primed to respond to the gospel through dreams, visions and miracles before being led to someone who could share the truth with them.

 

After around 100 years of mission work leading up to Khomeini coming to power, traditional churches in Iran could only count around 500 believers – now motivated by home-grown house churches, the number of believers is thought to be in the 100s of thousands.

 

 

06
Feb
17

Nationalism and Rejecting Ripe Fruit.

Sometime in the early 1980s, I recall seeing an episode of a Jimmy Swaggert TV broadcast in which he spoke about the rise of antichrist and a one world government. The thing that MOST struck me at the time, and has remained in my memory, is that his main fear about antichrist and his government was that the US would lose its sovereignty as a nation.

That US-centric concern is clearly not an isolated opinion of a televangelist who was soon to be disgraced by the exposure of his sexual infidelities. And it is not a mindset now faded into the history of US evangelicalism.
The revering of nationhood and national sovereignty continues today among evangelicals, (not only in the USA), at the expense of the work of the gospel, and the risk of misrepresenting the heart of God.

And here is an example. I’m REALLY finding it difficult to find the slightest trace of the heart of God reflected in the following:

For the price of settling a thousand disgruntled Muslim refugees in the (despised) West, Trump knows that you could settle 120,000 Muslims in “safe places” in the Middle East, establishing comfortable homes and safe, temporary communities in places much closer and much more agreeable to the refugees, saving the West millions of dollars ,countless rapes and murderers of its own citizenship and the serious destabilization of our once blessed nations.

https://billrandles.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/it-is-amazing-what-you-can-do-when-you-are-not-owned-by-the-saudis/

It’s quite painful to even think of addressing this in detail, but here are a few objectionable points:

1) “Disgruntled Muslim refugees” –

I think having one’s who life ripped apart, family members killed, homes and livelihoods destroyed, would take a person far beyond “disgruntled. More like desperate. Devastated. Destitute.

2) Settle Muslims in “safe places” in the middle east, establishing comfortable homes…etc.

Didn’t they HAVE “safe places” “comfortable homes” in the Middle East – until the area was destabilised by Western military involvement?

3) “communities…much more agreeable to the refugees”

Much more agreeable in nations where access to the gospel is severely limited? Much more agreeable to keeping them separate from the gospel?

4)”saving the West millions of dollars”

Now THAT seems to be closer to the real heart of the issue.

5) “saving the West …countless rapes and murderers of its own citizenship and the serious destabilization of our once blessed nations.

What are the comparative figures between “home grown” rapes and murders and those alleged to have been carried out by refugees? That statement seems much more like fear-mongering than anything with the slightest relationship to truth. Trying to stir fear is NOT the work of Jesus who many times commanded his followers to “fear not”.
The latter part of the statement reflects the REAL agenda of those who see these views as valid. The real agenda relates to “our once blessed nations”. It does NOT relate to the Kingdom of God and God’s agenda – it does NOT relate to improving the chances of bringing more people (Muslim refugees) into the Kingdom of God, by welcoming them, loving them, and giving them an increased access to the gospel of Jesus Christ at a time when they have most reason to be disillusioned with their traditional religious background.

I am about half way through a book about the rapid growth of house churches in Iran – a growth due to an increasing number of Iranians leaving Islam to follow Jesus.
The author looks at the history of the past 40 years to show how successive corrupt Islamic regimes helped damage the religious foundations of many people’s lives. Through the teachings and actions of the Ayatollah Khomeini, and later President Ahmadinejad, both of whom claimed to have Allah’s approval to carry out his will in Iran, many had their eyes opened enough to question the kind of god at the heart of a religion represented by those men.

Already by 2005 many were rejecting Iran’s religion because of what had happened in Iran as a result of Khomeinism. Now a new generation was presented with its child, Ahmadinejadism. Again they were being asked to make a decision about their national religion. And again many decided that since Ahmadinejadism belonged to Islam, they were unable to equate this with God. The shadow between the rhetoric and the reality was too dark. Hence the impact of Ahmadinejadism on Iran was to widen the wound that already existed between her people and her religion”

(Too Many to Jail, Mark Bradley)

In this is a caution that Christians can heed – the dangers of aligning themselves to political movements and candidates, especially those displaying characteristics clearly divorced from any degree of Godliness.

The book later details how an increasing number of those disillusioned by Islam were drawn to recognise Jesus, becoming His followers despite the institutionalised threat of persecution, jail, or in extreme cases murder. This was made possible through an encounter with the real gospel and with committed Christians showing them the love of Christ.. willing to take risks to welcome the newcomers into their homes and lives – despite the risks of potential betrayal.

Now consider again the quote near the beginning of this article related to Muslim refugees. What kind of Christian witness is given in that quote and in its attitude to the refugees?

In an earlier post I asked whether [ Western] evangelicalism was so weak that it can’t cope with an influx of foreign refugees ripe for the gospel and suggested that the truth is that [Western] evangelicalism has NO gospel to preach to them. It has been replaced by a form of religious nationalism.

The quote above ends with a statement about Muslim refugees causing “serious destabilization of our once blessed nations”.

More than ever, I’m increasingly seeing that the assumed blessings Western nations have experienced (that the above writer clearly wants to maintain) are in fact the thorns and weeds that choke out the fruitful of the word of God in our lives.

24
Jan
17

In the Land of Blue Burqas (updated)

burqasIn the Land of the Blue Burqas by Kate McCord gives a fascinating insight into the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women, and how Islam affects their lives and relationships.

While Islam and Christianity embrace very different views of God, McCord makes use of a few common areas of belief to build a bridge to share the gospel.

McCord writes of how “Afghans almost universally believe in the concept of kismet, fate. Whatever happens happens because Allah wills it, no matter whose hand has accomplished the thing”.

She addresses this with a group of Afghan women while discussing a deadly car bombing in Kabul that destroyed a bus and killed many including a young mother:

“God told us not to kill. We cannot disobey God in the name of God. That is a lie. God told us to love Him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength. Then He told us to love our neighbours. If a man kills his neighbour, he is disobeying God. This man who blew up the bus and killed that mother did not do the will of God. He did the work of Satan. God will judge him”

One woman in the room responded by sharing another story.

“Our town was at peace. We didn’t know war. We were happy. One day my cousins and aunts were gathered in the house preparing [food] for a wedding party. A bomb fell. We found pieces of dough, bundles of meat, hair ties, scarves, and scraps of bloody fabric. Even the part of the ceiling that didn’t fall was covered with blood and pieces of bodies”

… we all looked at the swirling red carpet . Each woman muttered “Tobah” repent.

After a long pause I restated what I absolutely believe to be the truth: “That was not the will of God, either”
“No,” the women agreed. “That is not the will of God.”

McCord gives the Christian reader a lot of food for thought.
She writes:

“For many Westerners, the question of who God is and what He wants for and from us is simply not relevant. We are, after all, wealthy and busy. For Afghans, it may be the most important question of all.”

And she confesses to something that I think affects most western Christians to one degree or another:

“Sometimes I forget to differentiate between what I believe as an American woman and what I believe the Bible teaches. America is my culture, and Jesus is my Saviour and Lord. Sometimes it’s hard to untangle the two. Afghans challenged me to try.

McCord compares various aspects of her Christians beliefs with those of her Afghan neighbours to show how the vastly different cultural beliefs affect Afghan views of God and as a result their society.

One example she describes is the Afghan view of temptation and sin.

I learned that in Afghanistan, the influences that cause or encourage a person to do what the society defines as wrong are the real sin, not the person who actually does the wrong. People are weak and must be protected. The society provides that protection. Any influence that tempts a member of the community must be eradicated, silenced, or walled out.

McCord also found that her time in Afghanistan gave her a new perspective on some very familiar parts of scripture.

Afghans helped me understand the teachings of Jesus more completely. The culture of Afghanistan today is much more similar to the first century Judea of Jesus’ day than my own Western culture is…

As an example of this, she writes:

I was often amazed when an Afghan heard a Jesus story for the first time and then told me what it means. Jesus spoke to a woman at a well, a woman who had had several husbands and was not married to her current partner. My Afghan women friends immediately saw the woman’s shame. No woman in Afghanistan can arrange her own marriage. The woman at the well had been used by five men, and the last didn’t even have the decency to marry her.

I found the book to be a an effective eye-opener, not only to an unbelievably foreign culture and religion, but also to the unbelievably naïve view that Western Christians have developed concerning the life and teachings of Jesus and how we’ve been taught to view them.

19
Jan
17

In the Land of the Blue Burqas

burqas

After finishing this book, I’ve written an updated version of the article/review that I’d posted here earlier.

See https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/in-the-land-of-blue-burqas-updated/

02
Aug
16

Crazed Extremism

Clearly Islam isn’t the only religion to be afflicted with a “ratbag” loony element. That’s something National Party leader Barnaby Joyce pointed out recently.

“Every group has their ratbags, even Catholics.

“We had, in the past, the IRA, but if someone said every Catholic is a member of the IRA I would say ‘no we’re not’. They’re lunatics, crazy criminals who want to kill people who have nothing to do with the religion I practise.

“In Islam at the moment, they have also got a lunatic fringe. You can’t go through every person of the Islamic faith and say they are all just like them.”

Since then I’ve come across a disturbing example of this element from the camp of my old “friend” Danny Nalliah and his political party Rise Up Australia. I’ve written about Nalliah before on this blog: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/category/danny-nalliah/

The following comes from Nalliah’s Rise Up Australia party spokesperson Rosalie Crestani:

Islam and Christianity are at loggerheads.

When you go right back to the crusades… and I will not say that the crusades were a completely bad thing because they were taking back land that was taken from them by the Muslims. Just like now I reckon we’re about to see, a crusade starting across,,, the western countries are going to start to rise up.

I mean the true western countries because I think America’s too far gone now.

They’ve got a jihadist in the White House. He’s the one that started ISIS mind you… he armed and he’s established them. He’s using the CIA to recruit…

 

In response to that and all of the other antichristian behaviour, rhetoric and false prophecy that has come out of the Nalliah camp in the decade since I became aware of him, all I can do is point again to the very strong warning Paul gives in 2 Thessalonians:

…because they refused to love the truth and so be saved… God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth.

 

______________________________________

The Rosalie Crestani quote came from a recording here, at roughly the 21 minute mark: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/putting-the-ex-in-muslim/7635674

That recording is the last of a five part series about Islam by an ex-Muslim. It’s a fascinating series, but contains short sections of comedic content that some will find offensive,

21
Jun
16

Food For Thought About Changing Borders

Over the past few months I’ve seen a few Christians expressing negative opinions about the growing number of Moslem refugees flooding into the west. Some of those comments seem to have been inspired by fear of the changes that such an “invasion” would bring about. I felt at times there was also a degree of national pride and wanting to protect a certain national identity and should I say it? Protect the comfortable, comparatively affluent lifestyle the west has grown to enjoy.

But today I came across an interview and an article that hint of other possibilities that indicate a possible twist on a well-known saying: “If the gospel won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the gospel.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/05/european-churches-growing-flock-muslim-refugees-converting-christianity

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/counterpoint/crossing-over:-muslims-converting-to-christianity/7523160

While there may be reason for caution in accepting accounts of mass conversions from Islam to Christianity (and some of the content at the above links expresses more than a degree of suspicion), do we need to doubt the reality that at least some of them are genuine? That God IS working in a situation where, for a time, borders have been flexible?

Instead of seeing threat should we be seeing opportunity?

From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him,




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