June 14, 2013 1 Comment
This is the warning from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
June 10, 2013 1 Comment
Over at the Gatestone Institute:
The Kirk has committed theological suicide in order to promote political inanities. The former Church of Scotland is defunct; the Church of Latter Day Scots has taken over the premises.
At its recent General Assembly (May 18-24, 2013), the Church of Scotland adopted a pro-Palestinian tract entitled The Inheritance of Abraham? Its Preface admits that a previous version “caused worry and concern in parts of the Jewish Community in Israel and beyond” and offers “clarification.” The clarification is mere window-dressing, but that is beside the point. It is rather “parts of the Christian Community in Scotland and beyond” that should be worried and concerned. To judge from the amateurish theological absurdities in this document, which passed through all the relevant levels of the bureaucracy up to the General Assembly, the whole Kirk is adrift. It has abandoned a glorious past for a dubious future.
We shall look at those absurdities in a moment, but first consider the dire situation of the Kirk…
It’s long but well worth a read! To do so, click here.
June 10, 2013 Leave a comment
As someone who works in the field of Jewish- Christian relations I recently found myself with a meeting scheduled at a monastery in the Galilee. This meeting just happened to come along at a time when my father was visiting from Canada, so I urged him to come along, to see the extraordinary design and architecture of the building and learn something about Christian life in Israel. My father was unsure, as a man with a healthy degree of skepticism toward religion generally, and some settled ideas about the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews.
Some of this is my own fault. Because of my own years of research and work, my father has become wellacquainted with evangelical- Jewish relations and Christian Zionism, and the efforts underway in that corner of the Christian world to develop better Jewish-Christian relations. As with my father, I find many Jews today to be surprised and deeply skeptical of about relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews.
Increasingly there’s a tendency, particularly in Israel, to see Christian support for Israel, Christian efforts to combat anti-Semitism and Christian love for the Jews primarily through an evangelical, Christian Zionist lens. For many Jews, Roman Catholic priests taking Judaism seriously, celebrating Jewish holidays, honoring Torah and learning Hebrew is a shock.
I do not mean in any way to minimize the importance (and complexity) of evangelical Christian support for Israel and efforts in building better relations between Christians and Jews. But it would be a tragic mistake to forget the work underway in other expressions of Christianity.
There are lovers of Israel and the Jews to be found among all denominations, just as there are evangelical anti- Semites. It’s a mistake for Jews in Israel and abroad to narrow our Christian conversation partners, challengers and allies down to a single branch of Christianity…
Read on here.
June 7, 2013 Leave a comment
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem said Tuesday that it will not allow the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem to use church property in the Old City for a lights festival because of Israeli police mistreatment of Christians during their holidays.
A statement by the church spokesman Issa Musleh said the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III has told the municipality of its objections to the use of its property in any way for the festival, which he said “does not reflect in any way the true identity of Jerusalem.”
Musleh said that at the time Israeli police attack worshippers and religious men during Christian holidays, particularly during the Saturday Holy Fire, close roads in the face of worshippers, deny freedom of worship in Jerusalem for Christians from Gaza and West Bank, Israeli fanatics attack churches, cemeteries and religious people, monks are held for interrogation as was the case with the spiritual leader for Ramallah Elias Awwad who was held and interrogated at Tel Aviv airport, and other measures against the Christian and Muslim holy places, “It would not be sensible that anyone should expect any cooperation to make successful festivities not related to us or Jerusalem, which are also sources of big annoyance to the residents of the holy city through the behavior of the visitors and participants based on extreme nationalist reasons and their attacks on the residents of the city, which mostly go unpunished or without accountability.”
May 31, 2013 1 Comment
Lest we forget, this past Wednesday was the 560th anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople.
The U.S. Helps Reconstruct the Ottoman Empire
by Robert E. Kaplan
Since the mid-1990s the United States has intervened militarily in several internal armed conflicts in Europe and the Middle East: bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of Izetbegovic’s Moslem Regime in Bosnia in 1995, bombing Serbs and Serbia in support of KLA Moslems of Kosovo in 1999, bombing Libya’s Gaddafi regime in support of rebels in 2010. Each intervention was justified to Americans as motivated by humanitarian concerns: to protect Bosnian Moslems from genocidal Serbs, to protect Kosovo Moslems from genocidal Serbs, and to protect Libyans from their murderous dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Other reasons for these interventions were also offered: to gain for the United States a strategic foothold in the Balkans, to defeat communism in Yugoslavia, to demonstrate to the world’s Moslems that the United States is not anti-Moslem, to redefine the role of NATO in the post-Cold War era, among others.
Each of these United States military interventions occurred in an area that had been part of the Ottoman Empire. In each, a secular regime was ultimately replaced by an Islamist one favoring sharia law and the creation of a world-wide Caliphate. The countries that experienced the “Arab Spring” of the 2010s without the help of American military intervention, Tunisia and Egypt, had also been part of the Ottoman Empire, and also ended up with Islamist regimes.
The full text here.
HT: Fr Milovan
May 30, 2013 43 Comments
In the Daily Mail:
Rest (and the other photo) here.
May 16, 2013 Leave a comment
Religion News Service reports:
A new national study shows that while Canada remains overwhelmingly Christian, Canadians are turning their backs on organized religion in ever greater numbers.
Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show that more than two-thirds of Canadians, or some 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination.
At 12.7 million, Roman Catholics were the largest single Christian group, representing 38 percent of Canadians; the second largest was the United Church, representing about 6 percent; while Anglicans were third, representing about 5 percent of the population.
Observers noted that among the survey’s most striking findings is that one in four Canadians, or 7.8 million people, reported they had no religious affiliation at all. That was up sharply from 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent in 1991.
The Canadian trend seems to mirror but even exceed levels of non-affiliation in the United States. A 2012 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life pegged the ratio of religiously unaffiliated Americans at just under 20 percent.
But Pew also has found that more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all.
The Canadian study showed that just more than 7 percent of the country was Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist, an increase from 5 percent a decade earlier…
Officials in Ottawa stressed that the NHS results, which also examined trends in immigration and ethnic diversity, could be unreliable. Because it was a voluntary survey, it is “subject to potentially higher non-response error than those derived from the census long form,” Statistics Canada cautioned…
Reginald Bibby, a sociologist at the University of Lethbridge and one of Canada’s foremost trackers and interpreters of religious trends, said the NHS findings “do not point to the demise of religion in Canada. But the findings document the tendency of Canadians to reflect the pattern of people across the planet in variously embracing or rejecting religion.”
May 14, 2013 Leave a comment
The company that gave America the Bacon Sundae opened with a big splash in South Africa – but no bacon.
Burger King South Africa CEO Jaye Sinclair says people lined up for hours at the weekend launch in the coastal resort of Cape Town.
But a few customers called Talk Radio 702 Monday to complain there were no bacon dishes and ask why the company was catering to a minority. Sinclair said the company respects South Africa’s multicultural society and doesn’t want to limit its customers.
Official South African statistics show that religious groups that do not eat pork here include 11 percent of the 48 million people who belong to the indigenous Zion Christian Church, Muslims making up 1.5 percent of the population and Jews 0.2 percent…
April 2, 2013 1 Comment
For the first time, there are more Jews living in Israel than in America, making the Jewish state the home of the largest Jewish population in the world. There are 6 million Jews in Israel and 5.5 million in America, 2 million of whom live in New York. Roughly 500,000 Jews live in France and almost 300,000 live in the United Kingdom.
Among the 8 million residents of Israel, there are 1.6 million Arabs and 350,000 non-Arab Christians or other groups.
The number six million has obvious significance to Jews the world over, since six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. But for the first time in thousands of years, it can legitimately be claimed that a plurality of Jews live in Israel — and if demographic trends continue, Jews in Israel will soon constitute a majority of Jews on the planet.
March 21, 2013 1 Comment
Those who argue that Islam and Christianity are quite similar really know very little about either religion. While there are some common features, the differences are many and substantial. To believe in one means you cannot believe in the other. Each one rules out the other. Here then are some of the major differences.
Revelation and the Bible
Islam The Koran is the Word of God and the central focus of revelation. It was revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, although Muhammad was merely the recipient through whom the word passed. Although God spoke through many prophets (such as Moses, David, Christ and even men like Alexander the Great), the Koran annuls all of these previous revelations. The Koran is the final, perfect, and universal message of God. Conflicts between the Bible and the Koran are due to Jewish and Christian alterations and corruptions of the Biblical text.
Christianity The Bible is the Word of God and Jesus Christ is the central focus of revelation. God has revealed Himself both in the written word, the Bible, and in the human word, Jesus Christ. Christ didn’t just bring a revelation from God, but is Himself the revelation of God. All Scripture (both Old and New Testament) is inspired by God, and is authoritative in all it affirms. The New Testament canon was closed with the book of Revelation, and further claims of inspired writings are to be rejected.
Islam Allah is totally transcendent and inaccessible to man. We have no personal self revelation of His character and all we know of Him is through what He has commanded. The foundation of Islam is the oneness and omnipotence of Allah. The love of God is rarely stressed. He is a despotic sovereign, not a loving Father. He is the God of fate who has unalterably predestined all things, evil as well as good. He is bound to no moral absolutes and His actions are determined simply by His own arbitrary will.
Christianity While God is transcendent, He is also personally concerned with, and intimately involved in, the affairs of men. His omnipotence is tempered by His moral character. His mercy never conflicts with His justice, righteousness and holiness, as there is a unity in His moral character. God is a heavenly Father who loves all men equally and desires to have fellowship and communion with them. However, His holiness demands that we approach Him cleansed of our sin, which the work of Christ makes possible. The love of God is an essential part of His nature – indeed, God is love. His actions are only always righteous and just.
Islam Isa, or Jesus, is revered as a Prophet but His divinity is vigorously denied. He was a mere man, only a messenger of Allah created by God. He was born of the virgin Mary, performed miracles, and yet disclaimed divine honours. Since it was unjust for the innocent and sinless Christ to die a criminal’s death, an “appearance” or a substitute was crucified on the cross, while Christ ascended to heaven where He now occupies an inferior station. One day He will return as one of Muhammad’s caliphs to help establish Islam as the world’s one true religion. On the side of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem it says in Arabic, “God has no son”. Contrast this with Matthew 3:17: “This is my Son, whom I love”.
Christianity Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, God’s final and perfect word to man. He came not just as God’s messenger, but as God incarnate, as Saviour and Lord. He is eternal and without sin, (and, since the incarnation) fully God and fully man, two complete natures in one person. He died on the cross for man’s sin and rose again on the third day, ascending to heaven. As predicted in the Old Testament, He will one day come again as Israel’s Messiah to set up His kingdom on earth and to subdue His enemies. Jesus Christ is the culminating thought of the Old Testament and the chief subject of the New Testament. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords to whom every knee will one day bow.
The Holy Spirit
Islam The term “Spirit of God” can mean breath, a created being, such as Gabriel, or even Jesus, but it does not refer to God Himself. Muhammad is viewed by some Muslims as the comforter, or counselor, which Christ promised in John 14:16.
Christianity The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is eternal, omnipotent, and omnipresent, as are the other two members of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is fully God and is also fully personal. The comforter which Christ predicted would come was not a man but a Spirit, who came to testify of Christ and indwell His disciples. It is through the Holy Spirit that the power and love of God is made manifest in the believer’s life.
Islam Allah is one. To worship anyone else but Allah is idolatrous and unforgivable. Christians worship God, Mary and Jesus. (Islam erroneously understands Christianity to mean by the doctrine of the Trinity three gods: God the Father, Mary the Mother, and Jesus the Son.) The term “Son of God” is also blasphemous, for God did not take a wife and physically beget a child.
Christianity In the Bible the One God has revealed Himself in three ways: as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. In the Bible all divine titles and attributes are ascribed equally to the Father, the Son, and Spirit. Christians are equally opposed to the idea that there are three gods, or that God physically had a son. The term “Son of God” is to be understood in a spiritual, not a physical, sense. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. The Athanasian Creed explains the Trinity in this way: “We worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.”
Islam Compared to the greatness of God, man is insignificant. His relation to Allah is that of a slave to his master. All that man can do is obey Allah as a bondslave and submit to His will (the word “Islam” means submission). Since Allah alone can create, man has no ability to create his own acts; he therefore has no free will. All of men’s actions are the creation of Allah.
Christianity God made man in His image to live in loving, personal fellowship with Himself. He created man with a free will so that man might voluntarily respond to His love. He intended that we be His children, not His slaves. The work of Christ on our behalf shows us how important we are to God and how much he loves us.
Islam The practical outcome of the Islamic view of man is the denial of all human responsibility. Since sin, like all else, is as Allah wills, Muslims have little or no sense of their own sinfulness. The Fall is seen as a physical, not a spiritual, fall (i.e. man fell out of Paradise to the earth below). Original sin is denied, although man is said to be born weak. Muslims, therefore, do not seek salvation, but guidance and direction in their spiritual journey.
Christianity Man, with his free will, chose to reject God and His love, and now lives in alienation from Him. This choice to live without God is the essence of sin. It is proud independence and selfishness. All men after the Fall have chosen to reject God, and all men have sinned. Man is the author of sin, not God. It was never His will that men should sin. Sin is an abhorrence to God and is the source of the problems and misery in the world today. Sin is not just words and actions, but is rooted in our very nature.
Islam Islam has no Saviour. Confession of the Creed (“There is no God but Allah…”) brings one into the Islamic community, wherein one seeks to earn his salvation by performing the religious duties and doing good works. At the Judgement Day men’s good deeds and bad deeds will be weighed, although ultimately, forgiveness is based on the arbitrary will of Allah. Allah saves those whom He chooses to save, and damns those whom He chooses to damn, with little or no moral basis for such choices.
Christianity It is God’s desire that all men be delivered from the power and penalty of sin, and be restored to a right relationship with Himself. Man by his own efforts is unable to please God or undo the effects of sin. Therefore God became man and lived a sinless life, and through His death on the cross fulfilled the demands of the law upon sinners, taking their penalty for sin upon Himself. Thus by His death He conquered sin, and by His resurrection He conquered death. God is now, on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, able to receive us unto Himself, when we turn from our sin and commit our lives to the Lord Jesus. By grace we are saved through faith. Good works do not procure our salvation but follow as an evidence of it.
Clearly then, on all the key doctrinal issues of the faith, Islam and Christianity are poles apart. To affirm the main teachings of Islam means to renounce those of Christianity, and to affirm biblical Christianity means of necessity to reject the basic tenets of Islam. The two are not at all similar, and can never be.
For more on the differences, especially in terms of political, social and culture values, see here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/03/19/islam-and-christianity-competing-worldviews/