Archives For Islam

Ever see the movie Gladiator? All that “Christians fed to the lions” stuff really happened! These were the Christians going around with the newly written books of the New Testament saying that 6 people that everyone would have known (most importantly, Jesus) had risen from the dead.  Being lion food is not much of a reward…makes one wonder what motivated them?

Easter Sunday is coming, which has a lot of people thinking about resurrection from the dead.  Two Sundays ago, I preached on how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead (and smelly) for 4 days (John 11).  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the religious leaders to kill Jesus once and for all (John 11:47-53).  It’s sort of hard to disprove a religion where people keep coming back from the dead, after all.

This got me thinking about the significance of the other New Testament accounts of people being raised from the dead, and wondering if other religions made these same claims.  It’s sort of going “all in” once you say that 6 local “Average Joe” types that everyone knew had risen from the dead in spectacular, public fashion, most of them at their very public funerals, and you try circulating that story in the very town you claim it happened. (Knowing your reward for circulating it was persecution, torture, and death by the Roman authorities)

I did a little research…okay I posted in on my Facebook page…to see if other faiths/religions made such audacious claims of local people coming back from the dead or not.  If your God is able to make dead people come back to life, that’s a pretty good claim of authenticity. Continue Reading…

orlando

Police investigate the back of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, June 12. At least 49 people were killed there by Omar Mateen, who was shot and killed by Orlando police. It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Photo credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack | AP

49 people were gunned down and killed in an Orlando gay bar early Sunday morning, with another 53 wounded.  You can read more about the gut-wrenching story here (CNN).  The Orlando Sentinel is compiling a page where you can read a short tribute about each of the victims.

There are lots of heavy elements to this story:  the shooter’s ISIS allegiance, a hate crime against the LGBT community, guns, an act of domestic terrorism, the pain the LGBT community is feeling, the pain the Latino community is feeling, and even the confusion some Evangelical Christians might feel about their (our) view that acts of homosexuality are sinful.

Well one of those heavy elements can be cleared up here and now:  there need be no confusion whatsoever about how Evangelical Christians are to react to the Orlando massacre.  Our reaction is to be an outpouring of love, mourning, prayer and solidarity.  Period.  Can we get over the fact that people are sinful and remember that people are people?  Every person on the planet is sinful, yours truly leading the charge.  The people in that nightclub were no more or less sinful than me or you.  While most don’t want to hear it, the same goes for the shooter.  Sin is sin and we all desperately need Jesus and thank God our (my) sexual sins don’t define us (me).  Sin doesn’t negate the fact that we are all image bearers of our Creator (Genesis 1:27).  We are all people who hold incredible dignity and value.  Every person in that nightclub who was gunned down was an image bearer of God and God mourns with those who mourn.  We are to do the same, Romans 12:14-18 makes this clear as day:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

My emotions went from gut-wrenched to infuriated when I saw what was trending on Facebook Sunday afternoon: Westboro Baptist Church says “God Sent the Shooter,” celebrates the Orlando shooting.

For those unfamiliar with Westboro Baptist, they are a “church” made up of a handful of people in Topeka, Kansas, almost all of whom are related to one another.  They are most known for picketing at funerals and their “God Hates Fags” signs that they hold up seemingly everywhere.  If you follow their activities, their message is pretty much that “God Hates Everyone and Everything.”  Somehow this small family of rag tag hateful lunatics get more press coverage than the New York Yankees, and often as representatives of Christianity!  I really don’t want to write much more about them.

The only group of people it is difficult for me to apply Romans 12:14-18 to is Westboro and their ilk.  Not the LGBT community; not ISIS; Westboro.  They take my Jesus and prostitute him for their gain.  They lie about my Jesus.  They paint my Jesus as a fraud, and people then associate my Jesus with the fraud they’ve painted.

Pray for my heart that I will love Westboro and not repay their evil with evil of my own.

Let’s all come together and bless and not curse, mourn with those who mourn, live in harmony with one another, not be proud or conceited, not repay anyone evil for evil and as far as it depends on us, live at peace with everyone.

I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

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It is a convenient, and I’ll admit, still a somewhat helpful statement to say, “What the KKK is to Christianity is what ISIS is to Islam.”  The problem with it is, it is not true.

By “not true,” I mean it is not objectively, factually, academically true.  Not because I said so, but because of one crucial distinction:

The KKK is disobeying what the Bible commands, while ISIS is obeying what the Qur’an says. 

This statement is not Islamophobic, nor is it a matter of interpretation of the Bible or the Qur’an, it is simply true.  Trust me, I am very much against Islamophobia, but I am also simultaneously against ignorance.  I don’t mean ‘ignorance’ in the insulting way, I mean it simply as the Dictionary definition of the word: lack of knowledge or information. The good news is, we don’t have to be ignorant in order to not be Islamophobic.  Continue Reading…

What do Muslims believe?

What do Muslims believe?

terrorist turkey suicide boming

The cover of the 10.11.15 USA Today section of the Lansing State Journal. Photo credit: Adem Altan, AFP/Getty Images

I opened my newspaper’s USA Today section yesterday to see another horrifying cover story of Muslim suicide bombers devastating innocent people.  What makes this attack different than some is that it is Muslims attacking other Muslims, this time in Turkey.  Many people want an answer to the question, “What do Muslims believe as it relates to all of these killings?”  They want to know: are Muslims dangerous?  Is Islam dangerous or is it a “Religion of Peace?”  Many are also rightfully concerned about Islamophobia, which is when all Muslims (and people from the Middle East in general) are racially and/or religiously stereotyped as potential terrorists.

When you see Muslims blowing up other Muslims, it shows you that two-dimensional Encyclopedia answers simply will not suffice to accurately answer these questions.  If Muslims all believed the same things, they wouldn’t be tragically blowing each other up.

There are two types of Muslims: Cultural Muslims (have also been called Secular Muslims or Moderate* Muslims) & Radical Muslims (have also been called Fundamentalist Muslims or even Orthodox Muslims).  The fact that Radical Muslims are blowing up Cultural Muslims tells you they greatly disagree on what they believe, so to say “This is what Muslims believe” would be both impossible and inaccurate.  The beliefs must be compared to each other as they represent two entirely different worldviews with two entirely different sources of authority. Continue Reading…

Here are two things I am passionate about:

  1. Having conversations about what is true about different religions (specifically Islam in recent conversations) without saying the (silly) notion that all religions are the same.  I desire simple honesty about what a religion believes and when lies are thrown out there, to identify them as such.  How else will we ever find what is true about God?
  2. Not marginalizing, stereotyping, or spreading injustice to people who are Muslim.

Here’s what I’ve observed: Continue Reading…