Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great Quote: The Aim of Music

The aim and final end of all music should be none other
than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed
is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical
bawling and twanging.

... J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Great Quote: The Limits of Logic

Every logical position ... will eventually lead into
trouble, and heresy, and chaos. Every logical position is fully
consistent, but coherence arises from the human mind, not
God's. The human mind is finite and cannot grasp eternity, and
therefore the finite mind sees the infinite as not graspable
coherently. If we could grasp it all coherently, without
contradiction, we would be God. The person who insists on being
logical to the end winds up in a mess. I am not saying that we
should not be rational. I am not anti-intellectual. I am saying
that the intellect by itself is helpless to arrive at total

... Kenneth L. Pike (1912-2001), Stir, Change, Create, p.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Iranian Government Unveils Islamic Ministry Approved Haircuts

As reported in the UK Telegraph, the Iranian government unveiled Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.  People without these "approved" haircuts risk arrest and barber shops offering "un-Islamic" haircuts risk being shut down.
"The proposed styles are inspired by Iranians' complexion, culture and religion, and Islamic law," said Jaleh Khodayar, who is in charge of a Modesty and Veil Festival later this month at which the guide will be promoted.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

AFP: Boxing's Mike Tyson on Mecca pilgrimage: report

AFP: Boxing's Mike Tyson on Mecca pilgrimage: report

Fun with Misplaced News Headlines

Is Diego Maradona looking for a new home after his current World Cup loss?

7days, a local newspaper here in Dubai, is famous for it's headlines and pictures that don't match.  I don't know why they don't see the funny associations that will occur when they look at the final layout.  There are typically two stories on the front page.  One that is dominated by a picture and the other that is dominated by text.

Often the two become intertwined.  The above picture is an example.  The headline belongs to an article about some workers who have been abandoned by their company here in Dubai.  Diego Maradona, the coach of the Argentinian football team in the current World Cup is pictured as well.  He's dejected because Argentina are out of the tournament.

And with their recent loss combined with the extreme passion for football in Argentina, maybe he does qualify as a "stranded man".  Maybe it's not so smart for Diego to go back to Argentina for a while.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

gulfnews : Scholars divided over imam's fatwa on music

Riyadh: A fatwa (religious ruling) issued by Shaikh Adel Al Kalbani, a former imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, in which he claimed that Islam does not forbid singing and music has split Saudi scholars, Islamic thinkers and secularists...

Al Kalbani is a son of an emigrant from the UAE who came to Saudi Arabia from Ras Al Khaimah in the 1950s looking for work.

gulfnews : Scholars divided over imam's fatwa on music

History and Doctrine - J. Gresham Machen

"From the beginning, the Christian gospel, as indeed the name "gospel" or "good news" implies, consisted in an account of something that had happened. And from the beginning, the meaning of the happening was set forth; and when the meaning of the happening was set forth, then there was Christian doctrine. "Christ died"-that is history; "Christ died for our sins"-that is doctrine. Without these two elements, joined in an absolutely indissoluable union, there is no Christianity.

It is perfectly clear, then, that the first Christian missionaries did not simply come forward with an exhortation; they did not say: "Jesus of Nazareth lived a wonderful life of filial piety, and we call upon you our hearers to yield yourselves, as we have done, to the spell of that life." Certainly that is what modern historians would have expected the first Christian missionaries to say, but it must be recognized that as a matter of fact they said nothing of the kind.

...The great weapon with which the disciples of Jesus set out to conquer the world was not a mere comprehension of eternal principles; it was an historical message, an account of something that had recently happened; it was the message, "He is risen." The world was to be redeemed by the proclamation of this event. And with the event went the meaning of the event; and the setting forth of the event with the meaning of the event was doctrine. These two elements are always combined in the Christian message. The narration of the facts is history, the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. Such was the Christianity of the primitive church."

(Taken from J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism [Eerdmans, 1923], pp. 27-29)

Monday, June 28, 2010

In Islamic Iran prayer sellers' trade is booming

In Islamic Iran prayer sellers' trade is booming

Here's an interesting quote from the article...

"'There are lots of methods depending on the problems. Some prayers (written on a piece of paper) should be burned and some should be put in a bowl of water. You should follow the instructions.'

According to Islam, prayers have a divine source and make a spiritual connection between God and his servants. Those who have the right religious knowledge can write prayers for others to help them obtain better results."

What do you think effects if and how God answers our prayers?

Consider reading Matthew 6:5-13 and Matthew 7:9-11 in the Bible.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First 'official' gurdwara in Dubai - Chandigarh - City - The Times of India

First 'official' gurdwara in Dubai - Chandigarh - City - The Times of India

This Sikh temple has been under construction about 200 meters from the church we attended up until planting Redeemer Church in February. They've been working on it for over 2 years I would say. I think it's pretty progressive for the country to allow this temple to be built. And it's kind of interesting that it's been given space right next to the church compound in Jebel Ali where there are about 12 churches meeting each week.

Some might be upset about it but I hope it provides an opportunity to engage some new Sikh neighbors in conversation about who is God and what is true about the world, people, and our eternal destiny.

By the way, I (hope) think this might have been a misquote?... "Sikhs don’t worship idols like in Islam and once authorities were convinced that setting up a gurdwara was not anti-Islamic, things quickly started falling in place. My dream is to make Guru Nanak Durbar the best, second only to the Golden Temple in Amritsar," adds Kandhari."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Canada cancels travel visa of Islamic preacher -

More places that Zakir Naik can't visit now...

Canada cancels travel visa of Islamic preacher -

UAE shuts 40 firms for illegal trade with Iran - Arab News

Ahem... It's interesting to know that there may be nuclear centrifuges in the neighborhood. It is only a short boat ride from Ras Al Khaimah to Iranian shores. :)

UAE shuts 40 firms for illegal trade with Iran - Arab News

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On C.H. Dodd's Influence in the Revised Standard Version

For all you Christian theology buffs...

There's an interesting quote in the first chapter of the book "Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution".  It sheds some light on a bible translation that I've used often in the past.

"In the mid-twentieth century, the case against penal substitution was articulated most strongly by the Biblical scholar C. H. Dodd... his understanding of (texts referring to propitiation) was also reflected in the Revised Standard Version, produced in 1946."

This makes me want to go back and read some important passages in the RSV.  Passages like Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2, and 1 John 4:10.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Email Campaign to Protest the UK's Rejection of Zakir Naik

An interesting development has come about as a result of the UK's rejection of Dr. Zakir Naik to enter the UK for a Muslim event in Sheffield.  An email is circulating here in the UAE with this message:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Briefing - Europe - Britain - No Entry for Preacher With Radical Views on Islam -

World Briefing - Europe - Britain - No Entry for Preacher With Radical Views on Islam -

This article above is about Dr. Zakir Naik, an Islamic preacher based out of Mumbai.  I heard him speak in Dubai several years ago and I was on some type of Islamic mailing list and was sent an announcement of his Sheffield lectures recently as well.  I have some Muslim friends here in Dubai who know him.  I'm sure they're disappointed with this outcome.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Evangelism and Social Justice

I recently read a 2009 Christianity Today editorial with which, for the most part, I really agreed.  It is entitled "The Greatest Social Need".  Here is a quote to help you know what it's about.

The greatest social need in the world today is not HIV/AIDS outreach. It's not hunger. It's not global warming. Not ending poverty or eliminating malaria or tuberculosis. Not clean water. Not racial reconciliation. Not sexual trafficking. Not abortion. And it's not peace in the Middle East, and not even world peace... That social problem is alienation from God.

I posted this article on my facebook page and it drew an interesting response from one young woman.  Here is her response.

She says, "strange, i've noticed the opposite. christians who evangelize to the poor without addressing any of their needs (except perhaps to put a band-aid on their problems by throwing money at them or going on a week or two trip). seems that there should be a balance between addressing both the physical and spiritual needs of a person. we do not fully know the gospel if we preach to the suffering, but leave them in it. we "do violence to the poor" by giving them a gospel that we do not live out."
I've written a response to her here.  Read it and tell me what you think.  It's a pressing issue in Evangelicalism today.

Let me address your comment and the article. The article argues that the spiritual problem of alienation from God is the biggest problem the world faces. Genesis chapter 3 (and onward) makes this clear. All other problems stem from sin and death being loosed into the world. And if you believe what Jesus and his apostles taught then you know that dying without coming into a saving relationship with Christ leaves people separated from God and eternally condemned. This is a terrible fate.

These days, the pressure from those outside our faith (and from many inside now) is to basically abandon sharing the Gospel with people and to emphasize things like eradicating hunger, disease, and things like sexual trafficking. These are all terrible things of course. All stemming from Genesis 3.

The article doesn't say that Christians should not help those in physical need. In fact, those who are truly regenerated by God through the Gospel and who understand the implications of the Gospel for their lives will begin to work for these issues of social justice but they continue to understand the proclamation of the gospel is the greatest pressing need of the people on our planet.

So why are there lots of people who are rich and go to church and do nothing in the way of physically loving their neighbor? I think that's what is bothering you. My opinion is that there are many who are not truly regenerated; they are not really Christians. The other problem is that they are not being taught well and discipled in the implications of the Gospel for their lives.

But the answer for both these categories of people is not to just demand that they begin to feed to the poor. That is what seems to be happening in evangelicalism. The drumbeat is to focus on social action. But in doing this many of these people are left unconverted and undiscipled with no real knowledge of the very Gospel that would produce sacrificial lives (Acts 2:42-47).

In fact, sidelining the true Gospel only produces self-righteous do-gooders, many of whom will meet Jesus on the day of judgement and point to their acts of service to others only to have Jesus say, "Depart from me, I never knew you." (Matthew 7:21-23)

If it's true as James says, "Faith without works is dead" then what people who have no true faith need is... faith! They need the transforming power of the Gospel. Remember, the Gospel is not just how we enter into the Kingdom of Christ, it's how we're sustained and grow too. Titus 2:11-14 reminds us that it's grace (or the Gospel essentially) that teaches us to live godly lives, i.e. feeding the poor and healing the sick. 

Teach the Gospel to transform people and the world; to both save people for all eternity and unleash a community which will serve others sacrificially.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Great Quote: "He Who Through Faith is Righteous, Shall Live"

In Romans 1:17, we are accustomed to find the words, "The
just shall live by faith." This declaration has been a clarion
call to faith and has been the text for many a sermon on the
necessity of continued faith throughout life. It is true that
this verse may have this meaning, but it is more probable that
it means, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." This
is in keeping with the whole emphasis of Paul throughout
Romans, which has as its theme "justification by faith" (Romans
5:1). Paul does not present two themes in Romans: the one,
"living by faith," and the other, "justification by faith." His
purpose was to emphasize one great primary truth of Christian
doctrine: the righteousness which comes by faith in God. It is
a kind of imputed righteousness, which has its origin in the
grace of God and its response in the faith of man. Not only is
this translation more in keeping with the Pauline context, but
it is more faithful to the Hebrew of Habakkuk 2:4, of which it
is a quotation.
   ... Eugene A. Nida (b. 1914), God's Word in Man's Language,
         Harper, 1952, p. 73

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sad But Funny Satire on Contemporary and Relevant Church Services

It's been another long stretch of time since I posted to the blog. Kinda feeling the "itch" to restart. Of course long layoffs are not good for building faithful readership :) Oh well.

Just saw this today. Pretty funny stuff.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Women of Saudi Arabia

Very interesting video today on the women of Saudi Arabia.  The women of Dubai/UAE have many more freedoms and yet the video is instructive about some of the basic aspects of the lives of women in the Gulf.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, February 08, 2010

Disturbing Article on Marital Reconciliation Methods

This article published on November 9, 2009 is titled Official Stresses Need for Marital Reconciliation in the GulfNews states this near the end.

According to Sharia, a husband is counselled to adopt a civilised and productive method and to be responsible and patient before divorcing.

"We call that ... the gradual edifying reconciliation method … whenever a husband notices a bizarre behaviour from his wife, he can advise her, then avoid sleeping with her in one room and if that doesn't work out then he can whip her gently in a manner that makes her understand the situation.
Is this standard interpretation of Sharia Law?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Marriage Laws in Saudi

Story out of the GulfNews

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia is exploring the prospect of allowing senior government officials, diplomats and judges to get married to foreigners. The amendments, proposed by the Ministry of Interior and the Expert Authority under the Council of Ministers, in this respect have been okayed by higher authorities, according to a report carried by Al Riyadh Arabic daily. The amendments stipulate that any Saudi citizen, holding key posts such as ministers, members of the Shoura Council, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and judges will be allowed to get married to foreigners. The amendments will be applicable to all government officials in the grades of 15 and 14 and above. The officials also include those working with the Royal Court, Court of the Crown Prince, Court of the Council of Ministers, National Security Council, Ministry of Defence and Aviation, Ministry of Interior among others.
 I'm really curious why this would be allowed for top officials and not for all others in Saudi society?  Is there some religious reason this would be allowed for only a privileged few?  Also, I had never heard in the first place that this was the policy... that Saudi citizens could only marry Saudis.  True?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Quranic Instructions for Muslims Encountering Christians During Christmas

Christmas has past but I wanted to pass on an interesting article that was sent out on a local Muslim email listserve. It's instructions for Muslims about how to respond to Christians during their Christmas holidays or other Christian celebrations.

It might sound harsh to some of you Christians out there but, in all honesty, I think if Muslims are going to be true to their holy scriptures then they should follow these guidelines.

I did have an observant Muslim friend talk to me on chat a few weeks back. He asked me how my Christmas was. I thought this was a very friendly yet perhaps Quranically acceptable way to handle the situation. Although you could possibly argue from the Quran that he is in grave danger having me as a friend in the first place.

See what you think about the article:

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on greeting the kuffaar on the occasion of Christmas and how we should respond when they greet us on this occasion. Is it permissible to go to the parties that they hold on this occasion?

Is a person sinning if he does any of the things mentioned without intending to, and he only does it to be nice, or because of or shyness or embarrassment or other reasons? Is it permissible to imitate them in that?

He replied:
Greeting the kuffaar on the occasion of Christmas or any of their other religious holidays is haraam according to scholarly consensus, as was stated by Ibn al-Qayyim in his book Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah, where he says:
"Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allaah." End quote.
Congratulating the kuffaar on their religious festivals is haraam to the extent described by Ibn al-Qayyim because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself. But the Muslim should not accept the rituals of kufr or congratulate anyone else for them, because Allaah does not accept any of that at all, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
"If you disbelieve, then verily, Allaah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you.  .
[al-Zumar 39:7]
". . .
 This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion . .
[al-Maa’idah 5:3]

So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise.
If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to Allaah. These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those which may have been prescribed formerly have been abrogated by the religion of Islaam, with which Allaah sent Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to the whole of mankind. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers."
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]

It is haraam for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them as it implies taking part in their celebrations.

Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the kuffaar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Whoever imitates a people is one of them." Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalifat Ashaab al-Jaheem: "Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak

End quote from Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 3/44.