"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

What the World Needs Now Is Christ

One of the best special guests we have ever hosted at Emmanuel Baptist Church is columnist Cal Thomas. Rachelle and I found Cal to be humble, very direct in his speech, and quite vocal about his love for Christ and his desire for his friends - and the world in general - to know the life transforming power of Christ. I have always enjoyed reading Cal's columns in the newspapers, but I now appreciate even more his written thoughts after observing first hand the character of the man behind the words.

Recently I came across a four year old column where Cal enunciated what I have felt for long time has been a common misunderstanding the west has regarding the religion of Islam. In this column, Cal was commenting on a speech given by Colin Powell.

In his address to a group of Arab and Israeli students gathered in Maine at a "Seeds of Peace" camp, Colin Powell lapsed into a familiar view of humankind: "It is important that you get to know more about each other ... (to) get a better understanding of the concerns, the anxieties, the anguish, the fears, the hopes, the dreams that other young people such as you have regardless of what language you speak or what country you come from or (what) religion you hold."

This one sentence exposes the central flaw in Western thinking that our enemies skillfully exploit. It isn't "regardless" of religion. It is because of religion that the battle continues with only occasional letup to allow the killers to rearm. Three weeks at summer camp will not deter a people whose faith is in a god many of their religious leaders believe wants a shotgun marriage between mosque and state. Many of them are taught that the heavenly kingdom and the earthly one are linked and that it is their job to eliminate "infidels" who don't see as they do. No one who understands the substance behind this battle and the unchanging objectives of those who fight it could possibly believe that such a religious vision will be modified by "infidel" diplomats.

While American leaders mouth platitudes, Palestinian TV broadcast a music video (two days prior to the latest homicide bombings) that reinforced the doctrine that heavenly rewards await all who die for Allah. The video begins with scenes depicting a romance cut short when Israeli soldiers shoot the woman in the back. She immediately goes to heaven, where she joins other young women dressed in identical long white gowns --- the "Maidens of Paradise." The maidens are dancing in water, a clear depiction of the afterlife in Islamic tradition. Later in the video, the man attempts to visit the woman's grave and soldiers also shoot him in the back. He is transported to heaven where he is reunited with the woman.

That's why the war on terror continues, not because of land, but because of the promise of paradise. What political doctrine can compete with that?

Known murders committed by Islamic extremists and terrorists for the past three months are listed here. An eye opening website detailing 'the religion of peace' is located here.

There is no political doctrine that can compete with the above. Our only hope for a world where people love one another, accept each other, and work to bring about a common good is for there to be a Great Awakening like that of the 1800's -- with only one difference: it needs to encompass the entire world, and not just colonial America. Our world needs Christ. Real peace only comes when the love that Christ gives to his people indwells an overwhelming majority of the people who are living. God has the power to change the hearts of those committed to terror and religion by force and to bring reformation to this world through the preaching of the gospel.

I pray He will.

47 comments:

Bill Scott said...

Wade,
17 years ago I was in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was struck by the devotion to Islam that many seemed to have. The Saudi government had set up a store front for the purpose of "evangelizing" soldiers. The imams were very serious about their work among the soldiers.

I had the thought during that observation and even noted in my journal, "Why can't Christians have the same amount of zeal for the Risen Saviour as they do for Allah and his dead prophet?"

I don't advocate a militant form of Christianity by any means. I simply make the point that we don't possess (largely) the same amount of zealousness for Christ.

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Bill,

I'm not sure who you are talking about when you say "we" don't possess (largely) the same amount of zealousness for Christ that the Muslims you referred to have for Muhammed/Allah. True zeal is not always evidenced in what can be seen by men, but in what is done in secret. Passion is not seen is the "doing" as much is it is in the "being" that drives the "doing." I could do many things before men so that they might see me and think, "Wow! Look how zealous he is!" And in so doing, I would be very similar to the Muslims of whom you speak.

I understand the spirit of what you're saying, but I think we should be cautious of comparing the zeal of a genuine Christian, a zeal which is a work of the Holy Spirit, with the zeal of a Muslim, a zeal that is ultimately man-made and inspired by the work of those principalities and powers that seek to detract glory from our Lord.

Blessings,
Jason

Tyson Wynn said...

I have long been a fan of Cal Thomas, and I memorialize one of his great quotations on my webpage:

"For too long, traditional Christians have been comfortable in their own cultural catacombs. They have their own radio and television stations, their own publishing companies, their own magazines and bookstores, their own jargon. They need to come back into the mainstream and win back the culture and the nation by the superior power of their ideas. They ought to be debating at Harvard–even teaching at Harvard. They should be good enough at their craft to work in network television. They should be publishing books with mainstream publishers. They should be demonstrating with their lives, as well as their voices, why their ideas are better than those now holding sway in America."

I agree.

Anonymous said...

Jason:

Compare Barna's research regarding Americans who truly are born-again. Bill basically has it correct, and your ministry probably reveals it, too: U.S. Christendom (for lack of a better term) is not zealous for Christ--though, if you and ones you know personally are, I truly commend you. Your fruit will show it.

In recent days, my emailed questions of the staffs of embassies whose countries have threatened to execute Christians held by them simply for converting to Christ have been: (1) If the god you claim to serve must have you--as ones that god himself recognizes as sinners--execute people in his name, then doesn't that god reveal himself to be fairly impotent (and shouldn't you simply set free the alleged infidels and let your god himself strike them dead without your help)?; and, (2) What kind of religion is it which doesn't have the power within itself to make people cease killing others--including other adherents of the same religion (doesn't that religion amount to nothing worthwhile at all)? To date: no response from those embassies.

Obviously, only the change which the Lord Jesus Christ can make when He personally moves into a believing sinner's heart and gives to that Christian a new nature--and then that believer cooperates with Him and other Christians for the advancement of the gospel--will change the world.

Too much needless squabbling; too little evangelism, folks.


David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Big T said...

Wade,
I have enjoyed reading your blog for over a year now and have always enjoyed reading your thoughts and comments on current issues; taking a stand for those whom have little or no voice and being a prophet in our own convention, but today's post takes on a different ethos. Before any questions are asked let me make it clear that I am a passionate follower of Christ. I was "saved" years ago at the age of 16. I have been a member of a Southern Baptist Church ever since. That being said, it pains my heart that some will accept this your post today at face value and use it to propogate their already seriously flawed ideology of hate and continue to spread venom against "those Muslims" with a passion reminiscient of the hate waged against African Americans, Homosexuals, and Jews. One might look at my post and say, "Well, there is a difference between hating someone like a Jew or an African American and hating a Muslim or Homosexual." But I hope they would be quick to realize hate of anyone is quick to murder your own soul. I will readily agree with you that Islam is not the religion of truth. The risen Savior that I serve is categorically denied by Muslim doctrine and practice. However, he is also denied in mondern Judaism. It makes me wonder why this post wasn't about detailing the genocide practiced by Christianity in the past or even Judaism. If you or I, or anyone else, were to make a post detailing the atrocities of Israli violence against Palestinian civiliams, if you or I linked to a website propogating the atrocities committed by a relative few of the Jewish faith, we would quickly face the label and accusation of anti-semitism, and rightly so. This comment is not intended to say that horrible actions committed by Islamic extremists are OK, or to give those spreading hate within the Islamic community a "free pass". I simply want us to step back and take a look at a world wide issue that is complex and not be so quick to jump on the bandwagon of anti-Islam (because of relatively few extremists). I can't help but wonder why you have changed your practice of taking op the cause of those who can't be heard, of bringing to light issues that are in the dark and need to be revealed. You can't tell me that we have run out of those issues. I suppose this is more of a plea to return to your obvious callng on this blog.
Thanks for your time.

Layin' down my nets said...

Thanks for making me think.

G. Alford said...

Big T,

Can you name for us just one country (anywhere on earth) that is ruled by an Islamist Government where Christians do not suffer persecution?

I can name a host of countries (including Israel) where Muslims are free to worship… Is not the “Dome of the Rock”, Islam’s third most holy site, in Israel? And can’t you find grand Mosque in every nation in Europe and every major city in America?

And let’s see what has happened to the great churches in the countries that have been conquered by Islam throughout history? O, yea they are “ALL” now Mosque…

Grace to all,

Debbie said...

Big T: Modern Judaism is not teaching to kill all Christians, which it appears in the Muslim eyes are all Americans, whether actually Christians or not.

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

David Troublefield (Anonymous):

In an earlier comment, you said,

"Compare Barna's research regarding Americans who truly are born-again. Bill basically has it correct,"

I have two questions about this comment. 1) Which research are you referring to? Would you provide the website? 2) If the research concludes, as you seem to imply that it does, that "truly born-again" Christians are less zealous that Muslims, then my question is this: How much of the Muslim world did Barna's group sample? If you are going to make this assertion, then the research on the Muslim side must be equally intense as it was here in the U.S. The problem? Barna doesn't do surveys in the Muslim world. So while he may be able to deal with the subject of who is truly born-again in America, I don't think we can compare that with a study he hasn't done in the Muslim world and then conclude that Muslims are more zealous than Christians. This is bad logic.

You also say,

"and your ministry probably reveals it, too"

Actually, my congregation in Salt Lake is comprised of the most zealous Christians I've ever known. They're not perfect, and neither am I, but I would take serious issue with anyone who says that the zeal that is represented by a fanatic who adheres to a demonically inspired religion is greater than the zeal than they have for the True and Living God. As I said earlier, true zeal is not always evidenced in what can be seen by men, but in what is done in secret. Passion is not seen is the "doing" as much is it is in the "being" that drives the "doing." Barna, as wonderful as some people seem to think he is, cannot sample what's on the inside.

You also say,

"U.S. Christendom (for lack of a better term) is not zealous for Christ"

I agree. U.S. Christendom, the institutions of men and the politics, power-plays, and pride-fests tha drive them made is not zealous for Christ. It's zealous for itself. However, the true invisible Church - comprised of those who have a genuine relationship with Christ - is. I mean after all, is it possible to be a real Christian without being zealous? If you're comparing U.S. Christendom to Muslims - sure, Muslims may have more zeal. But that doesn't really mean much since both Christendom and Islam are man-made. But if you're comparing Muslims to those who are a part of Christ's true Church in America, I don't think there's any comparison. Why? Because the power of God empowers our zeal - making it greater. The Muslims of whom Bill spoke, have merely a form of zealousness, but deny the power of God.

Blessings,
Jason Epps

Pamela Cook said...

I will not get into the details about how to define the zeal of Christians. However I will say this. In most cases the zeal that Christians have is from a love of God. They freely chose to love God and live for Him. Muslims do not have that luxury. They are threatened with death if they do not obey the Koran as Muslims. Only the true God can help them if they decide to change their faith. Comparing the zeal of Christians and Muslims is like comparing apples to oranges. The motivations for the most part are completely different.

Wade Burleson said...

Big T,

Thank you for your comment. I am appreciative of all constructive criticism and will take your words to heart. I'm not saying I agree, but I do appreciate people who disagree with the kind of spirit you have displayed.

In His Grace,

Wade

Bob Cleveland said...

Big T:

There are four instances of the word "hate" in the entire post and comment string, and all four are contained in your comment. And there are no instances of the word "hatred".

You're the only one mentioning that, and may be the only one thinking it, too. I think you owe Wade, and the other commenters, an apology for that insinuation.

Big Daddy Weave said...

On the subject of Islam, Cal Thomas should be ignored.

He's argued for the ethnic cleansing (eh, population transfer) of Palestinians from Israel. Most call such a position religious bigotry. Lest we forget that quite a few Palestinians are Christians and have been for centuries. Nonetheless, due to his Zionist desire to usher in Armageddon, Thomas would cleanse Israel of even those Christians merely because they are Arabs and happen to refer to God as Allah.

Such critiques are expected from those of the school of Christian Zionism...

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Pamela said: "Comparing the zeal of Christians and Muslims is like comparing apples to oranges."

My point exactly. Now if only I had the ability to be as concise as Pamela!

J

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Big Daddy Weave: I don't agree with your critique of Thomas. You say that Thomas would support ethnic cleansing and

"Thomas would cleanse Israel of even those Christians merely because they are Arabs and happen to refer to God as Allah."

This is a bit harsh and surely a misrepresentation of Thomas. I hope Wade will respond more extensively to your comments.

Jason Epps

Bill Scott said...

Jason Epps,
I think you misunderstood the content of my post. I think that you are doing the semantic tango with your observations concerning my post.

In my post I:
1) never said that Islam was a viable alternative to Christianity.
2) never mentioned the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

Let's define zeal in the context of results. Why is Islam rapidly eclipsing Christianity in many areas of the world? Not everyone that converts to Islam was converted at sword point. Why have many evangelical and orthodox denominations seen dramatic decline over the past 40 years? Why has the number of mosques in the United States exploded during that same period of time.

I do not in any way endorse, condone or advocate Islamic methods or imply directly or implicitly that Islam is in anyway a valid religion.

I do fully believe that militant Islam and its methods are working. This is indicated by the explosion of Islam all over the world.

I also still contend that Christians are not as outwardly zealous (false or otherwise) as many Muslims are. I think the numbers speak for themselves.

Jim Paslay said...

big daddy weave said:

"Thomas would cleanse Israel of even those Christians merely because they are Arabs and happen to refer to God as Allah."

Do Arabs that have accepted Christ still refer to God as Allah? I thought Allah was from the Koran which is not Holy Scripture. There have been some pretty horrible things done in the name of Allah. I want to make sure I understand what you are saying concerning your statement.

As for your comments concerning Cal Thomas, I challenge you to document your allegations. Otherwise, you lose credibility with your rants.

Wade Burleson said...

Big Daddy,

My observation of your comment is similar to some observations I have had when I have read comments that you have written in the past. You are obviously very bright and articulate, but I think you often confuse politics with theology.

Just because Cal is conservative politically does not necessarily means he is wrong in this issue ideologically.

I also gently would reject your assertion he promotes ethnic cleansing. He promotes the transformation of cultures through the proclamation and reception of the good news of Christ.

In His Grace,

wade

Jack Maddox said...

Comments like bid daddy's bring out the "spooky Fundie" in me!

Good post Wade...in short, Jesus really is the answer!

jrm

Bill Scott said...

Jim Paslay,
You asked, "Do Arabs that have accepted Christ still refer to God as Allah??

The answer is yes. The name for God in Arabic is "Allah". Allah actually means the "divinity". Islamic scholars also acknowledge that the etymology of the word Allah predates Muhammad and Islam! Lebanese and Palestinian Christians all refer to God as "Allah." These believers are refering to Jehovah God whom we serve as well. (Answering Islam, Geisler/Saleeb, pg 16)

Anonymous said...

Jim,

I speak Arabic & the word Allah means "The God" in Arabic. To answer your question, yes, this is the word that Arab Christians use to refer to God. Arab Christians have used this word prior to Islam & continue to use it to this day.

May His face shine upon you,
From the Middle East

Steve A said...

The way American culture is presented around the world is an absolute disaster: religious Christians, fervent Jews, and Muslims all know that. We find ways to ignore that, but many Muslims near and far can't get over it and judge us by our cultural effects; they have lost more than they recall having gained from America's political and military work in the world, and if they've bought the blame-Zionism-for-everything idea, the chances for a real peace involving the Muslim world shrink.

Conflicts within Islam make the Catholics-Hugenots days seem quaint by comparison; they are going in about 6 directions. Islam may insist that a decisive conflict with the Christian world must come first, and if that happens, we will have some tough decisions to make.

The 1700's mqy have ended the age of discovery, and the 1800's saw the end of slavery (outside of Islam.) The 1900's were mankind's flirtation with totalitarianism, and this century may very well mark when either Islam or Christianity disappears.

Come, Lord Jesus! Dona nobis pacem.

Steve in Hoptown

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Bill Scott,

Thank you for your thoughtful response to me. In it, you said:

"I think you misunderstood the content of my post. I think that you are doing the semantic tango with your observations concerning my post. "

I disagree. I understood your post pefectly. You said that "we don't possess (largely) the same amount of zealousness for Christ" that militant Muslims do for their prophet and God. My apologioes if you believe I am doing the "sematic tango" with your post, but I maintain that it is simply erroneous to take two types of zeal that are completely different and then conclude that one is quantitatively greater than the other.

You also said:

"In my post I:
1) never said that Islam was a viable alternative to Christianity."

Agreed, but did I in some way imply that you did?

You also said:

"2) never mentioned the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer."

Agreed. And I believe if you would have, the difference between the two types of zeal that were outlines in your post would have been laid bare, and the conclusion would have been invalidated.

You also said:

"Let's define zeal in the context of results. Why is Islam rapidly eclipsing Christianity in many areas of the world? Not everyone that converts to Islam was converted at sword point. Why have many evangelical and orthodox denominations seen dramatic decline over the past 40 years? Why has the number of mosques in the United States exploded during that same period of time."

Your idea of results and my idea of results are very different. You seem to imply that there is some type of a failure on the part of the Evangelical movement because it is (allegedly - I'm not sure I agree with this) not growing as rapidly as Islam. I couldn't disagree more. Our call as Christians is to be faithful in preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The results are God's business - not mine. My job is to sow the seed, water the seed, and harvest that in which God has brought growth. If we begin to find results in numbers and success in comparing our growth results with that of false religions, I think we are making a huge mistake. Islam is not "eclipsing Christianity" as you say. Even if the number of worldwide Christians was someday reduced to a few million and Islam claimed 4 billion - Islam would still not eclipse Christianity. Why? Because the objective truth claims of the Christian faith do not become invalid just because its adherents are in the minority. If I start saying, "Oh, we better watch out! The Muslims are more zealous than us! The Muslims are gowing faster than us! Watch out for the Muslims!," I am forgetting the sovreignty of God. As for me, I would rather be faitfhful in what GOd has asked me to do, preach the Gospel to those who don't know him, and leave the results to Him. How He orchestrates the affairs of human history is His business. Obedience to the Word is mine.

You also said:

"I do not in any way endorse, condone or advocate Islamic methods or imply directly or implicitly that Islam is in anyway a valid religion."

I didn't think that you were condoing or advocating this. Please forgive me if anything I wrote implied this.

You also said:

"I do fully believe that militant Islam and its methods are working. This is indicated by the explosion of Islam all over the world."

I agree, but as a follower of Christ, my primary concern is not "what works." My primary concern is obedience to His Word. Pragmatism is a disease that the Church Growth Movement has infected our congregations with for 50 years. I don't buy it for one second. God hasn't called us to be strategic genuises who come up with grand plans to draw crowds. This kind of thinking is man-centered and does great damage to the body of Christ. I would encourage you to re-examine your presuppostions regarding this point. I'm sure you'll want to have further dialogue, and I'm quite open to it.

You concluded with:

"I also still contend that Christians are not as outwardly zealous (false or otherwise) as many Muslims are. I think the numbers speak for themselves."

Yes, sir. The numbers do speak for themselves. Wide is the path that leads to destruction. I'm very glad that Christians do not show the external zeal of which you speak, and I'm thankful that we don't aspire to do so. If we were to engage in these man-centered schemes, the glory would be ours and not God's.

I know you and I disagree on these points, but please know that I greatly appreciate your willingness to dialogue. I learn a lot from discussing issues with those of differing opinions.

Blessings,
Jason Epps

Bryan Riley said...

Wade, yes, amen, the world, beginning with me, definitely needs Christ. And, yes, for those discussing zeal above, we need zeal for Christ. Zeal for serving, zeal for forgiving, zeal for loving, zeal for not arguing or complaining, zeal for making disciples, zeal for feeding, zeal for caring, zeal for peacemaking, zeal for turning the other cheek, zeal for giving our lives away (even our money, gasp), zeal for unity, zeal for loving our brothers and sisters (even if they have a different understanding of some scripture), zeal for living a life worthy of our calling.

With those things, perhaps more people would see a clearer picture of who Jesus is.

V said...

Here's a thought:

I for one am almost at a point of commending the "bad Muslims" of this world because finally someone will actually stand up for what they believe in. Am I to say what they are doing is right, definitely not, but at least they are unashamedly standing up for what they believe is to be truth and right. First off let me point out that I also was "saved" many years ago and have been a faithful member of the Southern Baptist Convention. It pains me, however, to see so many Christians sinking into their familiar pew and ignoring what's going on in the world. We are so quick to condemn those who are doing wrong yet when was the last time we did something right. I attend a Baptist college and it's amazing to hear how many people will discuss within a large number of Christians about what is wrong with the world and then do nothing about it. Is it not time for Christians to stand up and voice what we stand for? Is it not time we do something about the atrocities we see around us? Or should we spend another century merely following the crowd and developing our own Christian subculture?

I agree with what Bill Scott said because it's amazing the devotion many Muslims have for their religion and it continues to make me question why we don't do the same thing. We represent a religion of truth and grace, yet we exhibit an attitude of apathy and anger.

Big T said...

Bob and Wade,

Thank you for your generous responses. If by my comments you felt that I was insinuating that Wade's message itself was a message of hate, I was not. My point was simply that many can and will take broad statements concerning what seem to be innaccuracies generalizing all of Islamic faith and build upon them to continue a doctrine of hatred. (how many times have I used it now Bob?;) ) I have the utmost respect for Wade and over the last year I have seen him deal lovingly with many who I would be hard pressed to find good in. My prayer is that we would return to the previous theme of Wade's posts.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,

Good post, I agree with your conclusion.

Some good news; more Muslims have converted to faith in Jesus Christ over the past decade than any other time in history. Most of these people are at risk of being removed from their families, beatings, punishment and death.

One of the most interesting stories is that of many Muslims in Iran and Iraq that are having visions and dreams of Jesus Christ revealing Himself to them.

The Holy Spirit is alive and well and very active in the Muslim world, fulfilling the prophesy of Joel (Joel 2 28-32).

Pray for the Muslims and the Christian converts in these areas.

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

V,

You said,

"Am I to say what they are doing is right, definitely not, but at least they are unashamedly standing up for what they believe is to be truth and right."

I think there is a huge difference between a person "standing up for what they believe is truth or right" and a person "trying to work their way into heaven (and out of hell)." The former exhibits virtue because a person is acting out of voluntary conviction - not out of obligation or compulsion. The latter, more self-centered act, lacks said virtue because such a person is acting not out of conviction (as is the person above), but out of 1) fear and 2) a desire to save thier own neck. Once again, there's a huge difference. As Pamela said earlier, comparing the zeal of a Christian and that of a Muslim is comparing apples to oranges.

Blessings,
Jason Epps

Big Daddy Weave said...

A simple wikipedia search of Cal Thomas pulls up the controversial statements in question. His policy was termed "population transfer" but many scholars have deemed such a proposal to be a form of ethnic cleansing.

I don't confuse politics and theology. However, I do understand that a proper mix between religion and politics (not a philosophy) is both necessary and natural. Today's post to many presents a clear message that is undoubtedly both political and theological.

However, Cal Thomas's Christian Zionism is a "radical" political philosophy rooted in Christian Dispensatioanlism. Talk about a confusion of politics and theology! Like other Christian Zionists (Pat Robertson comes to mind), I suggested that Cal Thomas should be ignored when addressing Middle East matters. His opinions on population transfer and his feelings towards the Muslim faith in general are fueled by his strong desire to usher in Armageddon through political means. Big difference between the average political conservative and a Christian Zionist (on issues pertaining to Israel)....

Jason said...

Big Daddy Weave,

You said:

"A simple wikipedia search"

Is wikipedia now considered a legitimate, scholarly source?

You also said,

"of Cal Thomas pulls up the controversial statements in question. His policy was termed "population transfer" but many scholars have deemed such a proposal to be a form of ethnic cleansing."

By "many scholars?" In other words, not "all scholars?" If your conclusion is not one that's agreed upon by others besides Wade, then why do you defend it so passionately?

You also said,

"I suggested that Cal Thomas should be ignored when addressing Middle East matters."

Ok, so we should ignore him because we disagree with him? Does that mean that we should ignore you as well if we disagree with you?

You also said:

"His opinions on population transfer and his feelings towards the Muslim faith in general are fueled by his strong desire to usher in Armageddon through political means."

Really? Did he tell you this himself? If not, maybe you can provide an example of Thomas asserting, in some way, that his desire is to "usher in Armageddon by political means."

Big Daddy - I'm open to hearing you views, and I think others are as well. However, if your views are to be taken seriously, I would encourage you to throw some (legitimate) citations our way so we can see what you're talking about.

Blessings,
Jason Epps

Bill Scott said...

Jason Epps,
I guess we will have to disagree on some subtle points. I do admire your conviction and agree completely with what you say about where the true source of motivations for believers should lie. On that point we agree.

It was said that comparing Islam and Christianity "is like comparing apples and oranges." I think that the word contrast is more apropos. There is and always has been a contrast between good and evil and darkness and light, right and wrong. I think that there is a stark contrast between Islam and Christianity.

I still stand by my assertion that Islam is on the rise throughout the world and Christianity is viewed by many to be on the decline, especially in the developed world. The Muslim world grew from 12% of the worlds total population to 21% during the 20th century.

I am glad that you concede that the numbers speak for themselves. I totally endorse your application of the biblical narrow path/broad path metaphor.

I am thankful that Christianity is growing mightily in the third and developing world. We can only do what He calls us to do. My prayer is that each of us will do just that.

God has already told us to "go." I just wonder how many of us don't even have a saddle to put on the horse. If we do have a saddle are we willing to burn the barn and ride where the Spirit leads?

I really think that we agree on more than we disagree. Your verbosity is certainly on a par with mine. I will consider us in agreement on the things that really matter.

I feel your passion and zeal for the Lord as I read your posts. I pray that the zeal consumes you and that He continues to guide you and strenthen you there in Salt Lake City. You must feel in someways like a stranger in a foreign land.

Enough.
Blessing.
Bill Scott

Anonymous said...

Jason:

http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=105


David Troublefield
Wichita Falls, TX

Big Daddy Weave said...

It's wise to stay away from words such as ALL when describing the views of the academy.

First, here is the Cal Thomas article. Fourth paragraph from the bottom - Thomas argues for population transfer of Arabs from Israel. Thomas admits his proposal is radical. Population transfer is regarded as a synonym for ethnic cleansing. If that citation is not sufficient, please note this letter signed by (now) over 1,000 American Academics who agree.

Thomas should be ignored (IMO) because as a Christian Zionist his views relating to the Middle World are neither objective nor mainstream. Thomas's narrow reading of Revelation is the basis for his self-described "radical proposal" and political philosophy. Maybe you believe the opinions of Robertson, Hagee, and Thomas should be considered when discussing our Israeli policy. I don't. As someone who grew up on a small baptist college campus with quite a few Palestinians (including members of the First Family) - I am offended by those on the fringe like Thomas who call for the forcible removal of Palestinian (Christians and Muslims) from their homeland.

Ignore me or not - your choice.

If you have doubts as to whether Cal Thomas meets the definition of a Christian Zionist, I suggest you read and research Mr. Thomas.

Steve A said...

I enjoyed Wade's post and think we will have to "pray and go" to bring hope and comfort to the Islamic world, one person at a time. ("Fields white for the harvest.")I am encouraged by what y'all have reported about Jesus working on individuals over there. The tough part for us laymen here may be to present Christ-like attitudes to our visitors when we meet them in corner stores and taxis.

Cal Thomas is like every other columnist in that he can be a hard pill to swallow. At least, when he talks radically, he tends to warn us. I could learn from him ....

I bet even his critics among us would enjoy being with him in a religious setting as he sounds pretty devout. Besides, all these old guys seem to know a lot. I am still quite young; I'm in the Pepsi generation.

Wade wasn't nominating the guy to be Secretary of State, by the way. Hey, I wonder if he could run a seminary? Does he have a cowboy hat?

Jason said...

Big Daddy Weave,

Before I respond to your comments, would you check the link you gave to Thomas' article? I'd like to read it before responding. I clicked on the link and was directed to a list of Thomas' archives and didn't know which article you were referring to.

Thanks,
Jason Epps

Big Daddy Weave said...

For whatever reason, when I click on the specific article the URL does not change.

It is - "A Coalition of Terror" published June 6, 2001.

Bill Scott said...

Jason,
Try this..different site..same concept

http://books.google.com/books?id=5bNG8h7PZWkC&pg=PA256&lpg=PA256&dq=cal+thomas+population+transfer&source=web&ots=pFXmJOJT9N&sig=_vpdgncRfNVF35UTwo7RI-BCDqQ#PPA198,M1

Steve A said...

Here's Cal goin' on 'bout fed'rul spendin' -

http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/CalThomas/2007/03/08/march_madness

See? Sounds like yer gramps!

Anonymous said...

BDW said, "Thomas should be ignored (IMO) because as a Christian Zionist his views relating to the Middle World are neither objective nor mainstream."

It would seem to me that the very reason Thomas should NOT be ignored is BECAUSE his views are not mainstream.

...Or should he make attempts to be more like the "world" as most other so called "chritians"? (small c intended)

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Big Daddy Weave:

Thanks for clarifying where to find the article. I've read through it, and I believe the following quote is what you're referring to when you say that "Thomas argues for population transfer of Arabs from Israel" and that "Thomas admits his proposal is radical:"

"Israel should declare its intention to transfer large numbers of its Palestinian residents to Arab nations. This sounds radical until one considers that is precisely what Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have done. After the Palestinians assisted Saddam Hussein in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War (which Arafat cheered while calling on Hussein to shell Israel), Kuwait forcibly evicted and transferred to Jordan about 300,000 Palestinians, labeling them as traitors and a fifth column. Saudi Arabia also recognized Arafat's betrayal of their Kuwaiti hosts by transferring about 350,000 Palestinians to Jordan."

I can definitley see why you would think Thomas would be a supporter of what you call "ethnic cleansing." However, I believe the way your present your critique of Thomas ("he should be ignored")is a bit one-sided. You say that Thomas' motivation for supporting the movement of large numbers of Palestinians to Arab nations is "because they are Arabs and happen to refer to God as Allah." I'm sorry, but this statement is unfounded on several fronts. First, you've yet to produce any credible evidence that would support your assertion of this motivation. Second, you've completely ignored Thomas' perspective, something that is "not wise in the academy," as you say. Third, you've assumed this man's motivation, communicated it as if he he were a racist/bigot, and slandered him as such on this blog.

I can very much understand your passion for the Palenstinians. I share the same passion. I think that in many ways they are misrepresented. However, I also believe in fairness of evaluation without the use of hyper-emotional rhetoric which is infomred moreso by the evaluator's past subjective experiences than by hard facts that would point to Thomas' motivation. Thomas is not "anti-Arab" as the quote above from you suggests. He simply holds to a different perspective than yourself, one to which I'm not sure you've given a fair hearing. It seems to me that his motivation is tied to his theological convictions - not his disregard, neglect, or even hatred of Arabs. If we are going to disagree with Thomas' suggestions, let's disagree with him on those grounds without trying to make another Christian brother look like a monster.

Before I offer you the last word on the subject, allow me to say that I very much admire your passion for the Palestinians. And while I may think your conclusions are a little emotional and possibly harsh, I think I could learn a lot from you and your experiences. I would rather have a discussion/disagreement with a person who believes in what he's saying enough to defend it thn I would with a person who lives life without convictions.

I'll offer you the last word on the subject.

Blessings,
Jason Epps

Jason Epps -- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA said...

Bill,

Thanks for your words - I appreciate the encouragement. I thbk we are on the same page - unfortunately it sometimes takes a little longer to communicate this via writing!

Also, I checked your link and saw the chapter by Thomas you were talking about. Unfortunately, it would only allow me to read the first page! I'll have to check the book out, I guess. Thanks for the suggestion.

Blessings,
Jason Epps

Big Daddy Weave said...

No time for a long reply.

But, I'm not trying to make Cal Thomas out to be a monster.

He's actually had some good things to say since the 04 election on the relationship between evangelicals and the Republican Party. If you doubt he is a Christian Zionist, I'm sorry. But I don't have the time to do that research for you. But his Dispensational theology and his ardent support of Israel as a "biblical imperative" is a well known fact. Clearly, this is where we disagree.

If you acknowledged his Zionism (and understood the motivations of Zionists), most of your criticisms would not have been necessary.

Pamela Cook said...

I pray that somehow those that believe in the land being promised to Israel would begin to look at the NT scriptures where Christ said many things relating to the Jews. I'm not much of a end-time scholar but it appears that there are some promises of the land for the nation of Israel. That is where it ends. I care about them as people that have been oppressed in ways that few can relate to. I do not view them or any other group of people as better than I as a committed Christian. It does not seem to matter at all that most Jews hate Christ. They are Jews and we are to deny the gospel when dealing with them in order to not offend or 'not love' them.

Unfortunately the Christian Zionists appear to believe that the Jews are better than the Christians, especially those in Arab nations. It's like they do not believe any Arab in these nations could possibly be saved. That is absolutely outrageous when the word says that those that believe and accept Christ shall be saved. There is a minister at the church I attend in Tulsa OK that smuggles Christian materials to Arab Christians (yes I said Arab) in the Middle East. He was in Damascus ministering while the war between Lebanon and Israel was going on last June/July. There are many in that part of the world that are turning to Christ. I'm reading articles that several imans have secretly accepted Christ in Iran. For the Christian Zionist to ignore them is to cut off a very important part of the body.

I have a close friend that has bought into this lie. When I ask him "Why do you not care anything about your brothers and sisters in Christ in these nations?" he ends up talking about 'The Palestinians' or 'The Muslims'. Again I mention to him things that he already knows. He knows full well that Muslims will say and do anything to stay alive even though they might not believe it. I also mention that when the only thing you have heard is the Muslim faith that is what you know and if you love God that is what you obey. It is like his heart is stone cold to anyone but the Jews and Christians that believe that trash. When I mention about one group of Jews that bury their relatives alive when they become Christians he gets silent. He probably will not mention this mess to me because I absolutely reject the error/heresy. Any teaching that suggest that any group of people have a different way to God is a false gospel, pure and simple. I knew that Cal had a heart for Israel. If he believes in the garbage I described and what has been inferred in some of the posts that is truly sad indeed. The Bible says that we will be known by our love. Christian Zionism in its current form ignores Christians in the Middle East and has total disdain for those Christians that disagree with their stance. That may sound like a strong statement but I have first hand experience in this. We are accused of 'not loving the Jews'. I hope he is thinking about what I have said. He has no Bible to base his stand on.

I'm sure Christ weeps over this. I boldly tell him and others believing that mess that ALL, including the Jews, that do not accept Christ will go to hell. Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through Him. The Christian Zionists seem to think and say that the Jews have another way to God without Christ. I pray that somehow that the Lord will open their eyes and get back into the new covenant. It seems like they spend so much time in the OT following end-time stuff that they have become like the OT forgetting that there is mercy for all people, not just the Jews and those that believe the Christian Zionist mess.

Anglican said...

A concise introduction to Islam


Episcopal News Service
Issue:
Section:
2001-263

By: Richard T. Nolan
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2001
'Islam' is derived from the Arabic root salaama meaning peace, purity, submission and obedience. Islam stands for making peace by submitting to the will of God and obeying His law. Jews and Christians view Islam as the latest of the world's great religions. However, worldwide Muslims (sometimes written 'Moslems') understand their universal religion as the 'final religion' and the 'primal religion.'

As 'final,' Islam is God's final revelation of prophetic religion, in fulfillment of all that had preceded. Moses was given the Law; David was given the Psalms; Jesus was given the Gospel. Judaism offers God's message of justice, and Christianity proclaims the love of God. To Mohammed (570-632 A.D.; spelled in a variety of ways) the God of Abraham and Jesus revealed the Qur'an (Arabic for 'recital,' sometimes written Koran). The Qur'an, written in Arabic, is the Sacred Scripture of Islam, the perfection of all previous divine revelations, and is to be understood literally as the direct words of God. In this sense of scriptural literalism, all Muslims may be called 'fundamentalists.' However, when referring to the aggressive behaviors of a few, 'militants' and 'extremists' are better categories.

Muslims believe in all prophets of the Bible. The Qur'an itself mentions the Torah and the Gospel as scriptures revealed by God to Moses and Jesus. However, the Qur'an indicates that over time, changes were made to the actual biblical texts, because of commentary blended with the original text, as well as losses to the texts through transmission and other causes. For these reasons, Muslims cannot rely absolutely on the Torah and Gospels as sources of revelation, unless they confirm what is in the Qur'an or at least are in harmony with it.

As 'Seal of the Prophets' and apostle of Allah (which means 'the God' in Arabic), Mohammed is neither divine nor the focal point of Islam; therefore, the religion should not be called Mohammedanism. For the one billion or more Muslims (about six million in the United States), who are of many racial and ethnic backgrounds--Arabs being a minority--Islam is the middle way between Judaism and Christianity; it restores the unity of the children of Abraham and overcomes the limitations of Judaism and Christianity. Jesus, the prophet to 'the lost sheep of Israel,' limits Christianity; Judaism is similarly limited. Islam proclaims a practical synthesis of Judaism and Christianity for all humanity. Overcoming the incompleteness of the justice of Judaism and the idealistic love of Christianity, Islam brings to fulfillment all that Judaism and Christianity anticipated. For the Muslim believer, Islam is perfected Judaism and perfected Christianity.

As 'primal,' Islam is the authentic religion of Adam, of Abraham, and of human nature. Islam is not younger than Judaism and Christianity; it preceded both. Not only is it the religion of the 'Spoken Book' (the Qur'an), it is as well the religion of the 'Created Book' (the fabric of the universe itself). According to the Muslim faith, every person is born a Muslim, and distortions of one's environment lead a person astray to become a Christian, a Jew, or an unbeliever. To be human means to be Muslim.

Beliefs

The doctrines underlying Islam include (1) belief in the God of Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed; (2) belief in the Qur'an, which is verbally infallible. According to the account, the angel Gabriel appeared and revealed to Mohammed the contents of this sacred book over several years. (3) belief in the prophets of Allah, of whom Mohammed is the last and greatest and the one commissioned to deliver Allah's message to humanity. Abraham, Moses, and Jesus of Nazareth also are recognized prophets. Moreover, in the Qur'an Jesus is recognized as the Messiah, and Mary is highly respected. (4) Belief in an afterlife when all people will be judged for their deeds and brought to heaven or condemned to hell.

Islam also teaches that peace should be established in the human societies of this world. To participate with God in the establishment of peace, Muslims are called upon to be engaged in jihad, meaning 'striving.' The basic jihad is the struggle of the self, to speak about one's faith, to bring it in obedience to God, and to make sure that one is living a holy and righteous life. Another struggle is jihad as 'holy war' fought only when the faith is being attacked or when Muslims are not allowed to practice their faith. Very few Muslims call for the 'jihad of the sword' even in circumstances they believe to be wrongful.

The ummah, or Islamic community or state, is the vibrant avenue for the realization of God's Will and should serve as an example to the rest of the world. In Islamic social theory, the ummah is formed from the threefold consensus of its members: consensus of the mind, consensus of the heart, and consensus of arms. The ummah is formed from the consensus of minds in that all the members of the society share the same view of reality. It is formed from the consensus of hearts in that all members hold the same values. It is formed from the consensus of arms in that all members exert themselves to actualize their values. The Qur'an states plainly that the ummah is the preeminent of all human communities given to mankind by God.

Practices

The 'Five Pillars of Islam' (obligations or duties) are 1) the confession of faith: 'There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his messenger'; 2) prayer five times a day; 3) sharing of wealth or almsgiving, practiced in a variety of ways; 4) fasting for reflection and self-discipline during the month of Ramadan; and 5) pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in one's lifetime, if possible.

Although there are no clergy as such, a clerical class of religious scholars and local religious leaders evolved. Muslims are called to prayer five times each day, and on Friday it is preferred that the noon prayer be said in a mosque (a place of gathering).

Shi'ites and Sunnis

After Mohammed died, a division arose over succession to the Prophet. This resulted in the emergence of the Sunnis--now constituting about 90 percent of all Muslims--who consider themselves the orthodox branch of Islam. The other group, the Shi'ites, who primarily live in Iran, also consider themselves as authentic Muslims. Sunnis and Shi'ites differ on the issue of succession and in some of their interpretations of the Shari'ah (the straight path), a comprehensive code of morality and religious duties based on the Qur'an and the Hadith (traditions of the prophet's words and deeds).

Characteristics of Shi'ite Islam include a tradition of honorable martyrdom and, in times of crisis, the need to employ strong action, including holy war. According to Shi'ite beliefs, the government of a nation should be a theocracy--a government ruled by God through the Imam (a special spiritual leader). As with any group, Shi'ites include moderates and extremists.

Contemporary Islamic Issues

Issues facing Muslims on a global basis are of a practical nature and have to do with Muslim society. Philosophical and theological concerns continue to be of secondary importance, for the faith has already been delivered in final form. However, there is conflict between traditionalists and modernists.

Traditionalists are committed to the original beliefs and practices of Islam, including faithfulness to a literal understanding of Qur'anic law and its applications to contemporary life. Modernists believe that the principles, goals, and fundamental purposes of religious law are unchanging, but the specific forms in which the eternal truths are expressed must change constantly in the face of changing human circumstances.

Muslim leaders are divided over national loyalties. As a result of colonialism, the Muslim world has broken into many nation states. Some leaders approve of this development, but others fear that the unifying spirit of Islam is betrayed by political nationalism. Although it has had no centralized authority for centuries, Islam has retained a remarkable spirit of unity. With the emerging variety of political structures in the Muslim world, however, some believers--probably a minority--would prefer a more centralized leadership for religious unity. Others believe that God alone should rule without any earthly mediating authority.

[For their insights on file I am especially grateful to my former Hartford Seminary colleagues, now retired, Drs. Willem A. Bijlefeld and Marston Speight; and to Dr. Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islamic Studies, Hartford Seminary.]



© 2004, The Episcopal Church, USA. Episcopal News Service content may be reprinted without permission as long as credit is given to ENS.

The Confessor said...

The argument that the lawsuit is damaging to our witness is a bunch of hooey. The firings were damaging to our witness. I am glad Klouda, in her quiet way, is not laying down. And i won't be sad if the decision goes against SWBTS. I hope it does and I hope it hurts.
People can't be allowed the courage of their convictions without having to face the cost of their sin. She was mishandled and then misled. She deserves a big chunk of change and a public apology. Some heads should roll too, jobs should be lost.
How else will people learn if there are not consequences?