Archive for July, 2011

July 29th, 2011

Can a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, be a Terrorist?

A Salafi—a Muslim who adheres to the version of Islam of Prophet Muhammad’s time—wrote to me, “Speak out against the Oslo attacks, you terrorist!” I have had discussions with this gentleman on a wide range of topics. Since I haven’t been writing a lot lately, he was probably trying to get me into the discussion about terrorism.

I responded to the Salafi Muslim, “Do you consider Oslo mass murderer a Christian?” He wrote back, “I’m being facetious! Just kidding! And no, I don’t…so long as you don’t think the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims. ; )” While everyone who carried out 9/11 was a Muslim, Anders Behring Breivik wasn’t a Christian. (Unless he has now accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and repented.) He wrote in his manifesto that his posted online just hours before the killing spree, “If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.”

This mass murderer professes to have no “personal relation with Jesus Christ” and yet he has been called a Christian. A Christian is someone who professes and then adheres to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Breivik was not one of them.

If Breivik were following the teachings of Jesus Christ, he would not have hated anyone, let alone kill them. Jesus said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” On the contrary, what the mass murderer in Oslo did was exactly what the Qur’an teaches. Whereas Jesus taught about doing good to those who persecute or oppress his followers, the Qur’an has the opposite message with, “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah” and continues, “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter.”

Muslims are called to fight and even kill those who persecute them while a Christian is called to “Love and pray” for his or her enemies. What a contrast! There is no such thing as a Christian terrorist because those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ would not do harm even to their oppressors. On the other hand, the Qur’an shows how Muslims are justified to harbor hatred and anger toward people who cause them hardships (deliberate or implied) and when Muslims muster the resources, fight and even kill them. After all, the Qur’an justifies the slayings of these oppressors, which is better than the persecution of Muslims.

The bottom line, there is no such thing as a Christian terrorist because Jesus teachings prohibit terrorism. My initial thought was a Muslim had carried out these attacks, of which I apologize.

July 15th, 2011

Ramadhan 2011: A Call to Prayer and Outreach

Muslim fast during the Islamic month of Ramadhan is projected to start at dawn on August 1 this year, after the sighting of the new crescent at dusk on July 31. It might end on August 29. Every able-bodied Muslim must fast from dawn to dusk during the entire month of Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, for 29 or 30 days because the Qur’an commands it. Muslims who are sick or traveling and Muslim women who are menstruating or expecting are exempt but are required to make up for the days missed. Children before the onset of puberty are also exempt.

Muslims seek God. Christian should pray for them to meet the True God! We should pray for those in our neighborhoods, city, and country. Here is one way to prepare for this task. It is not too late to join Christians who have been praying for Muslim during Ramadhan using a very informative booklet that has been in use for 20 years. 30 Days of Prayer for Muslim World gives overviews of Muslim populations in various countries, profiles of some unreached people groups and contains testimonies of Christians of Muslim background. It also points out prayer needs for each day of Ramadhan. You can buy copies for yourself and or your church from World Christian website here or here.

Don’t just prayer. Venture out. Make an effort to meet your Muslim neighbors. Go to a local mosque and interact with them. Look for opportunities to engage in conversations. I’ll post some questions to ask Muslims in regards to Ramadhan next week.

While Muslims are in festive mood during Ramadhan, this month is a very difficult challenge for Muslims who have embraced Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and still live in their communities. I speak from experience. It is not easy. In fact this is one single occasion that can blow cover for secret believers. Don’t get me wrong. The ensuing persecution is all worth it. Secret believers’ challenge is not “the not eating part” but other activities (communal prayers and meals) associated with the fast. Please, pray for them.

Non-Muslims who travel in Muslim majority countries during Ramadhan also face problems because eating in public is illegal. The police arrested those who violated this law in Egypt in 2009 and Algeria in 2010. Even Dubai, one of the most moderate Muslim cities, has fines or jail sentence for non-Muslims who violate the law for the second time. Please, be careful if you are traveling to these countries in August. Have a blessed weekend!

July 6th, 2011

Update: Conflicting Reports over Iranian Pastor’s Apostasy Case

There are conflicting reports over Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s apostasy case, Mission Network News reports. The AFP reported over the weekend Pastor Youcef was no longer on death row. Now it seems like he is still facing the death penalty but his case has been returned to the lower court where he would be given an opportunity to recant his conversion. Todd Nettleton of the Voice of the Martyrs told Mission Network News, “The reports over the last 24 hours are that, in fact, the Supreme Court did not uphold the death penalty. They sent the case back to the local court in his area where he would have the opportunity to recant, and if he did that, then the death sentence would go away.”

Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef, his family and friends, Iranian Christians, his persecutors and all those who have heard or would hear about his case. A word of encouragement for Pastor Youcef and all Christians who face death for simply believing in Jesus Christ. He said in Matthew 10:28:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (ESV)

May God give strength to Pastor Youcef to withstand this pressure and the coming ultimatum. May he know he is His no matter his earthly fate in the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

July 1st, 2011

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s Execution Imminent

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who has been sentenced to death for apostasy faces execution any moment. Now that the Iranian Supreme Court has upheld his death sentence, he could be hanged anytime. Please pray for him, his loved ones, Iranian Christians, their oppressors and Iranian Muslims.

The international community needs to put pressure on the Iranian government and it starts with us. Similar death sentences were commuted in Afghanistan due to the international pressure.

Apparently, “Freedom to change one’s religion is a fundamental right which Iran pledged to uphold when it signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” The world should hold Iran accountable.

The workweek in Iran is Saturday to Thursday. The fact that it is the weekend in most countries doesn’t mean offices in Iran aren’t open. Please use Twitter, Facebook or whatever means is at your disposal to spread the word about Pastor Nadarkhani’s plight. His life should be spared and his freedom granted. Please pray for Pastor Youcef!

2 Corinthians 4:8-10: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

More information is available HERE.

July 1st, 2011

Does the Bible Condone Rape?

A Muslim on Facebook asks, “hussein is this good treatmen [sic] of wojman [sic]” after quoting Deuteronomy 22:28-29. He quotes a rendering of these verses which is off literal translation. His quote, “If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.”

Muslims have asked this question numerous times to try to portray the Bible as condoning rape and their question has been answered. I am not going to reinvent an answer to this question but enlist a friend, Sam Shamoun, who has already answered the same question.

Sam is an Iraqi Christian who is a Christian apologist at Answering Islam. The following is what he wrote HERE in response to Muslims:

Some Muslims claim that the following passage from the Holy Bible condones rape:

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated (anah) her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NIV

There are two points to note here. First, even though the verse may seem to be instructing the rapist to marry the victim the passage nowhere sanctions, condones or even approves of rape. This is simply a gross misreading of the text. The injunction is intended to instruct the Israelites on how to deal with and address a rape situation if and when it occurs.

Second, by taking a careful look at the context and consulting the original languages of the Scriptures a strong case can be made that this is citation isn’t even addressing a rape case at all. We must remember that the Holy Bible was not written in English. The OT was written in Hebrew, with parts of it being written in Aramaic. The NT was written in Koine or common Greek. This means that if we want to know whether an English translation has faithfully and accurately translated the inspired author’s intended meaning we must turn to the original language of the sacred text. Once this is done, it will become quite apparent that the Holy Bible does not sanction rape at all.

With this just said, the word which the NIV translates as rape comes from two Hebrew words, taphas and shakab. Here are the meanings listed by the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon in reference to these two words:

Continued