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 - thestar.com

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

Canada cancels travel visa of Islamic preacher - thestar.com

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 - NYTimes.com

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

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.