Tag Archives: veracity

Basic Islam – Part 6

 

Sharing Christianity with Muslims

For those of us who may be in a position to dialog with Muslim friends about our faith, here’s a series of thought-provoking videos that may be helpful.

Reasons To Believe scholar Fuz Rana, who had a Muslim father, interviews Abdu Murray, who converted from Islam to Christianity and now shares his faith with Muslims through several high-profile ministries.

Abdu has hard-won, firsthand insights about how to share the Christian faith with Muslims. Among his most powerful points are the value of respect for the individual and how bridges can be built in a positive way, without attacking the person or his worldview.

HT: Reasons To Believe, Fuz Rana, Abdu Murray, Embrace the Truth International

Additional Resources

 


The Eagle and Child in All of Us

And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, NET)

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Outside Christ Church College, Oxford. One of the most beautiful and profoundly ‘magical’ places we have ever been. Scenes from Harry Potter movies were shot here. Albert Einstein, John Locke, John Wesley, Lewis Carroll, and 13 of the 26 Prime Ministers from Oxford studied here. Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was inspired here, and Alice was the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church.

Yesterday, Marion and I travelled to Oxford and had a late lunch in the renowned Eagle and Child pub, where a group of famous Christians met regularly to encourage one another. We sat in the same nook where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others discussed ideas that shaped some of the most significant English literature to come out of the twentieth century. I couldn’t help feeling a little exuberant, so I took a few snaps with my cell phone and sent them off to friends and family.

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I really didn’t want to write this post. I’ve never read any Tolkien. I’m no C.S. Lewis scholar. I find it difficult to read Lewis’ philosophical theology, preferring instead to listen to his books using Audible. His writing is undeniably brilliant and packed with words that connect the intellect to our faith. But as Dick Woodward once told me, “C.S. Lewis made things complicated, but I spent my entire ministry trying to make them simple—so people would understand.” One of the great wonders of the Christian Faith is that it works on both very simple and very complex levels.

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Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child pub. This is where Tolkien, Lewis and others sat. The Gloucester sausages and steak and ale pie were quite good. We were late for lunch, so it wasn’t too crowded.

When Clarke received our photos from the Eagle and Child, he prodded me, reluctantly, into writing this post. But it occurred to me while sitting in the Eagle and Child that I have experienced and benefitted from the encouragement of some wonderful brothers and sisters. Brothers like Dave Thompson who will send long, deep, profound emails of encouragement at all hours of the night. And Dave Rudy, who always can add to any topic I may bring up (it’s amazing how much Dave has studied and absorbed). And Rob Campbell, who is the most devotionally devoted person I have ever met (and a finer friend you could not have). And Clarke Morledge himself, with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things theological and hermeneutical (his zeal is as contagious as his heart). And Ken Petzinger, a Princeton-educated physicist who is living proof that Christians also come with extreme intellectual capacity (and who always has something current to share from his personal studies). And Dick Woodward, who was such an encourager and gifted teacher. And Iris Rudy, who is such a good listener (and who commands respect when she speaks). And Tina Campbell, who works at being the most compassionate and hospitable person I know (and succeeds magnificently). And Marion, whom I could never thank appropriately for being such a wonderful, selfless person (and in whom I continually see the Gospel lived out).

So when the writer of Hebrews states, “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near,” l get it. I am thankful for the Eagle and Child that all of us have experienced.

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The University of Oxford has 38 Colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) of religious foundation. There are cathedrals, churches and scenes like this everywhere you turn. I hope that you can visit Oxford soon!


A Day at the Museum

Clarke referenced the Codex Sinaiticus and the Septuagint in a couple of posts last week, so Marion and I decided to hop a plane to London and have a look at the original. (That’s not exactly how things progressed, but isn’t far from the truth.)

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We’re in London this week to learn about the Codex Sinaiticus and other artifacts that point to the veracity of the text of the Bible.

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. It contains the oldest complete New Testament in existence, and dates to around 350 A.D. The Old Testament portion is a copy of the Septuagint. Codex Sinaiticus is used by scholars today to create the most accurate translations of the biblical text. The manuscript is served in high definition on the Internet, and it doesn’t take long to see how scribes painstakingly corrected the original writing. There are corrections plastered in the margins everywhere. It was obviously important for the scribes to make sure the work was as accurate as possible and up to par with the best copies of the Bible in existence at the time.

The British Library’s portion of Sinaiticus is currently on display in a special exhibit at the British Museum. We asked Clive Anderson, co-author of Through the British Museum with the Bible, if he could guide us through the exhibits. Although Clive wasn’t scheduled to conduct a tour while we were in town, he graciously agreed.

Some days are better than others. Today was the day for our tour.
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Top Posts of the Year 2015

As a way of closing out the year 2015, I thought I would highlight what I thought were some of the most thought-challenging blog posts and news articles of 2015, and why. Some caution is in order, as several of these posts can be disturbing to read. Nevertheless, they are important because the stories conveyed by the authors have ramifications for how we as followers of Jesus practice our faith in our world today.

  • Graeme Wood’s article in The Atlantic, What ISIS Really Wants, helps to shatter the myth that the aims the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant having nothing to do with genuine Islam. Sure, moderate Muslims are repulsed by ISIS, but if you study their agenda to re-establish an Islamic caliphate, then you will recognize that the motivation behind ISIS comes straight out of a literalistic reading of the Koran.
  • As discussed here on Veracity, numerous media outlets reported on the statement made by Wheaton College faculty member, Larycia Hawkins, that Christians and Muslims worship “the same God,” that led to her being placed on administrative leave. The incident revealed tensions within the church, in view of the recent problems with terrorist attacks by radical Islamic groups, and the future status of 4 million Syrian refugees flooding the world. How should Christians relate to people from Islamic cultures?
  • National Geographic‘s Maureen Orth, in her front-cover article on the Virgin Mary shows just how seriously the Roman Catholic Church takes miracles associated with appearances of the Mother of Jesus. Is there a problem when people look to such “signs and miracles” to guide their faith, or does such a dependence on such things undermine the principle of the all sufficiency of Scripture alone to guide us towards the Truth? How do you discern the difference between a genuine miracle of God and a fake? The first reported sighting of Mary goes back to 40 A.D…. while she was still alive.
  • In a somewhat related story, Christianity Today‘s Bob Smietana investigates the connection between royalties from the popular evangelical worship song, “How Great is Our God,” and a church leader in the Nashville area who is under a cloud of suspicion regarding prosperity doctrine teachings and sexual abuse. There appears to be fine line between faithfulness to the Gospel and careening off a spiritual cliff (UPDATE: 12/31/15)
  • Rod Dreher, a Christian blogger, writes in the American Conservative that the recent debates over LGBT rights means that the “American way of life” is on a collision course with traditional, orthodox Christianity.  The culture wars, as we have known it, are over, and the battle for hearts and minds is in the up-and-coming generation of youth in our churches. Christians need to rethink how to go about biblical discipleship in a rapidly shifting culture, including considering the so-called “Benedict Option.
  • Ever wonder who popularized terms like “anorexia,” “PTSD,” and “biopolar disorder” in the modern vocabulary of psychology? Look no further than Robert Spitzer, the psychologist intellectual who died on Christmas Day, 2015, in this piece written by Amy Argetsinger for the Washington Post. Spitzer helped to steer the psychology profession to declare that homosexuality was not a psychological disorder in the 1970s. In the early 2000s, his work took a different turn, declaring from one of his studies that reparative therapy could actually cure homosexual orientation, which served as a very promising sign to the growing “ex-gay” evangelical Christian movement. However, this conclusion was later rescinded by Spitzer’s own reevaluation in 2012. Later that same year, Exodus International, the largest “ex-gay” evangelical Christian ministry in the world, closed its doors, following Spitzer’s revised conclusion that reparative therapy not only fails to help people in most cases, but that it can also cause great psychological harm. A growing view among evangelical Christians, while still believing in the Bible’s opposition to same-sex behavior, now agrees that reparative therapy is to be avoided, according to this article by Jonathan Merritt for The Atlantic.
  • And to top it off…. the biggest NON-stories for 2015… drum roll please….. the prophecy non-fulfillments regarding the Four Blood Moons and the Mystery of the Shemitah predictions…. ZZZZZZ…. surprise, these two were sleepers!!

A few of the above stories can get you a bit depressed. Here are few antidotes to the pessimism that indicates that God is doing some incredible things in our world today. May we be ever mindful of God’s providential care in the New Year!


Syrian Refugees: What Would Jesus Do?

And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:35-40 NET]

Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10:25-37 NET]

It is difficult at times to write about the application of Christian doctrine to our lives without getting cynical. We try very hard to avoid sounding off on Veracity. But, I have to admit that the self-absorption with American politics that we see in the media is disturbing. In a world full of suffering—that desperately needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be applied in relief efforts—we are drowning in a sea of political rhetoric that panders to isolationists and preys upon their fears. Don’t agree? Turn on any news program and count the minutes devoted to American politics. Also, while you’re watching, keep track of the minutes devoted to the four million refugees inside and fleeing Syria.

The Crisis in Photographs
Syrian Refugees

A sea of hungry, haunted faces looks out from a massive queue that snakes through the bombed out Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Syria. In the photo, taken on January 31, 2014 in Damascus’ Palestinian refugee camp, men, women, and children were in line for aid that included desperately needed food and medical supplies. There were more than 18,000 people in the Yarmouk camp, and many were starving to death.

Syria – Save the Children

Syria – Save the Children

Syrian Migrants

Migrants are escorted through fields by Slovenian police and the army as they walk from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp in October, 2015. (Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

Syrian 7

Millions of Syrians escape an apocalyptic civil war, creating a historic crisis.

Wounded Syrian Girl

A wounded Syrian girl stands in a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of Syria’s capital of Damascus, following shelling and air raids by Syrian government forces on August 22, 2015. At least 20 civilians were killed, and another 200 wounded or trapped in Douma, a monitoring group said, just six days after regime airstrikes killed more than 100 people and sparked international condemnation of one of the bloodiest government attacks in Syria’s war.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of refugees died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on September 2, 2015. The tides also washed up the bodies of the boy's 5-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehan on Turkey's Bodrum peninsula. Their father, Abdullah, survived the tragedy.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of refugees died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on September 2, 2015. The tides also washed up the bodies of the boy’s 5-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehan on Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula. Their father, Abdullah, survived the tragedy.

A Dutch volunteer tries to comfort a migrant moments after arriving aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos October 23, 2015.

A Dutch volunteer tries to comfort a migrant moments after arriving aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos on October 23, 2015.

A Syrian refugee family with a Lebanon Bible Society aid package. The Bible Society provides aid for around 3,000 Syrian refugee families.

A Syrian refugee family with a Lebanon Bible Society aid package. The Bible Society provides aid for around 3,000 Syrian refugee families.

Pastoral Comment

After publishing this post, one of our astute readers called the following video to our attention. Pastor Max Vanderpool of Generations Community Church in Kentucky hit the nail on the head. We need to wake up and be vocal about what is happening. We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The world is full of hatred and fear and self-absorption. Get involved. Show some compassion. That’s what Jesus would do!

What Can We Do?

Here are four organizations that provide aid to Syrian refugees, and others in the Middle East, in the name of Jesus Christ. Please consider clicking the links below to learn more about them and their relief efforts. Please use the donate links to make your year-end charitable contributions to show that you understand Jesus’ teaching in Luke 10:25-37.

World Vision Syrian Refugee Fund (Donate)

Christian Aid Mission (Donate for Shinar Mission)

Open Doors USA (Donate)

Samaritans Purse (Donate)

 


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