Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year's!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Religious Pluralism #2

Religious pluralism, which I'll define as the view that all religions are equally true and valid, is for most people, deeply rooted in the idea that truth is relative.  Truth is dependent upon a matter of perspective.  This makes truth subjective and not objective, which makes it so one religion can't be exclusively correct.  If I think Christianity is true, then it's true for me.  If a Muslim believes the Qur'an's teachings are true, then it's true for that individual.  Ultimately, this means everyone's religious view is true for the individual.  I could not tell someone that their religious view is wrong. 

Living Loud: Defending Your Faith (Truthquest)
Here's a problem with this line of thinking.  Two plus two equals four.   That's true a statement, and since it is true it is true for all people, at all times, and in all places.  Even if I think two plus two equals five, and that's my perspective, I will be wrong because two plus two never equals five for anyone, anytime, anywhere.  If it is true that Hu JinTao is president in China right now, then it's true for everyone, everywhere, in all situations.  Truth, extends to everyone, and it is not changed on account of someone's personal view!  This applies to religion!  

Another example, I am a male!  Regardless of your view or perspective, I am a man, and my wife is a woman.  



Applying this principle, that truth extends to all, to religious pluralism, Jesus either is God (Christianity), or Jesus is not God (Judaism, Islam), or Jesus is one with the divine source that is at the heart of all things (Hinduism), or Jesus was just a dude (Buddhism).  

Living Loud: Defending Your Faith contains a chapter entitled, "What is truth?", which speaks more in depth on this issue of relative truth.  Click on the image of the book to get your copy of it today.  

                                                                                                           

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Muslims, the Qur'an, and the Injeel #4

The Qur'an says that the Injeel (Muslim's Arabic name for the New Testament) is the word of Allah.  They however, say that it's been changed, or corrupted, which is why Allah had to send the Qur'an through Muhhammed.  It's also why many of them haven't read the Injeel.  So how can a Christian respond to a Muslim who says, "Yes, the Injeel is the word of God and Jesus was a prophet, but it has been changed!"?

My wife with a Chinese Muslim who owned
the Muslim restaurant in the background.
We regularly ate here for a couple of years.


_____________________________________________________________________________

Logical Response

Simply ask questions.

"When was the Injeel (NT) corruptued?"

"How was it been corrupted?"

"Who corrupted it?"

"What parts are corrupted?  Has the whole Injeel been changed?"

Muslims generally won't have answers to these questions.  
You can then ask,"Did Muhammad tell Muslims to read the Bible in the Qur'an?  Did he say it was the word of Allah in the Qur'an?"  The answers to these questions are yes, and if you want check the first post in this series and you'll see the verses from Qur'an which claim this.  

The next statement to follow up the answer to these questions is, "If Muhammad said to read the Bible and didn't make any mention of it being changed or corrupted, then it must have been changed after Muhammad."  

That then leads into the "Historical Response" which shows that the Bible hasn't been changed before or after Muhammad.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Muslims, the Qur'an, and the Injeel #3

Building Bridges: Christianity and IslamThis series has shown where the Qur'an states that the the Gospel of Jesus, the Injeel (the Arabic name Muslims use for the New Testament) is from Allah.  This is phenomenal!  From the authoritative word of Allah for Muslims, there is the direct teaching that not only Jesus but other prophets from the Old Testament delivered the word of God to humanity.  It has also been shared in this series that Muslims believe that Allah has revealed his word in succession as previous scriptures were distorted, corrupted, or changed by men.  The differing understandings and views that Muslims and Christians have concerning the Injeel (NT) has also been shared.  To read the rest of this series scroll down, or click on the Islam label at the bottom of this post. 

__________________________________________________________________________

Theological Response

One response to a Christian apologist could give to Muslims for why the Injeel has not been corrupted is a theological response.  

When Muslims say the Injeel has bee corrupted, Fouad Masri, founder of Crescent Project, suggests saying, "Astaghfurallah"!  This means, "God forbid."

Why should this response be given?  It would appear that such a response is instantly setting up a fight, using the name of Allah and throwing it back in a Muslims face that he or she is WRONG!  In fact, this is done from a loving position.  Muslims say "God Forbid" whenever something is said or done that goes against Allah or his will.  The idea is that Christians apologists should respond with "God Forbid" to direct them to the truth that what they just said went against God's word, because it suggests that humans are stronger than God.  

From a theological study of the Qur'an, who is stronger, man or God?  Clearly God.  From a theological study of the Qur'an is the Injeel (NT), from Allah and his word?  The answer is yes.  It then stands to reason, if they were God’s words when they were written down, how could man have the power to change them?  If man can corrupt God’s word, how do you know then if the Qu’ran can’t be corrupted.  God will save and protect his word. 

At this point a Christian can encourage a Muslim to know that in the Injeel God has promised to keep his word.  Encourage a Muslim to read the Injeel.  Copies of the New Testament can even be purchased which have the title "Injeel" on the cover and they are written in both Arabic and English.  It would be the perfect time to share the Injeel with a Muslim, ensuring him or her that God's word cannot be corrupted, because God will preserve his word - man is not stronger than God.  

Many Muslims have not read the Injeel, because they have always been told that it is corrupted!  They are taught that it is corrupted because it clearly contradicts what the Qur'an teaches.  Yet, the Qur'an says the Injeel is the word of Allah.  Christians must begin to interact with Muslims to show them that the Qur'an mandates that the Injeel be kept and read and that it came before the Qur'an and God's word cannot be changed by men, since God is stronger than men and God has promised to keep his word.  Once Muslims begin to read the Injeel, in the view that it is the word of God and can be trusted, they will learn what the Injeel's teachings about God and the prophets runs contrary to that of the Qur'an, and if they were in fact reading it as God's word that came before the Qur'an then in hope they will see the Qur'an for what it truly is, the word of a man.   

Buy Copies of the New Testament Injeel 
in English - Arabic (Click the Link Below):



 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Luke's Christmas Narrative

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas narrative copied from www.biblegateway.com, the New Intervational Version 2010:

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.



 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”


 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

           14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
              and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Muslims, the Qur'an, and the Injeel #2

Bridges: Christians Connecting with Muslims
Bridges: Christians Connecting with Muslimsis a DVD small group study by
Crescent Project.  Click the image to learn more!

The first post in this series showed verses from the Qur'an that teach that the Injeel (the Arabic name Muslims use for the New Testament) is revelation given to us by Allah and that Muslims are called to believe in it.  There are blatant contradictions between what is taught within the Qur'an and the Injeel (NT).  Muslims handle these contradictions by saying, "The Injeel has been corrupted, and the Qur'an has replaced the Injeel."  There are several responses that a Christian could give to Muslims who say this. 

____________________________________________________________________________

Books which Muslims recognize to be from Allah are first the Torah (the books of Moses), the Psalms of David, the Gospel of Jesus (Injeel, NT), and the Qur'an.  For more information on the books that Muslims believe to be revealed from God go to Islam Uncovered, a site written by Muslims.

Muslims believe that Allah sent the Torah (Tawrat, Arabic name), but that the Torah was changed.  Because of this change, Allah sent the Zabur (the Psalms of David).  These were also changed, so God sent Jesus and his Gospel revealed in the Injeel.  The Injeel was also changed, so Allah sent the Qur'an, given to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel.  

Islamic Understanding


Muslims truly believe that Allah's word was handed down in phases to mankind after each revelation had been corrupted.  

Muslims believe that the Qur'an will not be corrupted, since Allah will protect His word.  

Muslims will say that the Injeel has gone through many versions and that the real one cannot be found.  

They say that Christians have changed many of the stories in the Torah, the Psalms of David, and the Injeel. For instance, Muslims say that Jesus never died on the cross.  It was either someone else or an apparition who appeared to be Jesus.  This means that Jesus never died, he just ascended into heaven.  They also say that Ismael was the promised son to Abraham, not Isaac, and that Abraham was asked to sacrifice Ismael. 

Christian Understanding

The Injeel is the word of God.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God will keep his word. 

There are not many versions of the Injeel (NT).  Instead, there are many translations.  Some translations contain the word "version" in their title which helps lead to this confusion.  Scholars have gone to great lengths to study the original Koine Greek to make accurate translations that truly represent the original text and language.  The many translations when compared, maintain the one message.  A problem that arises from this with Muslims is that they believe the only authoritative text of the Qur'an is in Arabic, and when they pray to Allah they must pray in Arabic, even if they don't know or understand Arabic. 

Now that these two different perspectives on the nature of the Injeel have been presented the next posts will share three approaches, or responses, a Christian may take to encourage a Muslim to read the Injeel.  

For more information read:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Muslims, the Qur'an, and the Injeel #1

A Muslim Noodle Shop (LaMian Dian) in Hangzhou, China. 
In China, it is very common to see Muslim run
noodle shops throughout the country. 


The Islamic creed, when spoken in faith, makes someone a Muslim.  This creed is "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."


The Qur'an, which means recitation, is the message Muhammad received from Allah. 


The Injeel is the Arabic name given to what Christians call the New Testament. 

_____________________________________________________________________________

From looking at the Islamic creed, one would assume that Muslims reject the Injeel (NT) to be the word of God, since Muhammad is the messenger of the one and only God, Allah. 

This however is not the case according to what is written in the Qur'an...

Qur'an 2:136 - "Say ye: 'We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah." 

Qur'an 3:2-3 - "God!  There is no god but He, - the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal.  It is He who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus." 

Qur'an 5:82 -"You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah ; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians." That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant."

Qur'an 5:46-47 "And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient."  

Qur'an quotes taken from Sahih International from http://quran.com.

_____________________________________________________________________________


The Qur'an clearly defines the Injeel (NT) to be the word of Allah.  Muslims teach that Jesus was a prophet of Allah.  If you ask if a prophet speaks the word of God, they would say yes.  Clearly, this brings up a problem because the Injeel records Jesus referring to himself as God and his followers teaching others that he is God.  

So how do Muslims get around this contradiction, especially since the Injeel, confirmed by Muhammad to be the revelation of Allah, came before the the Qur'an? 

Muslims claim that the Injeel has been corrupted, which is why Allah sent his word to Muhammad.  


____________________________________________________________________________


Over the next several blog posts I'll explain three different responses a Christian apologist can give to the Islamic claim that the Injeel has been corrupted.  

For More Information Check Out the Following Book:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Wise Men and the Star! And China?

A very interesting piece of the Christmas story is the star that marked Jesus' birth.  Such a star should have raised the eyebrows of more people than a few magi!  A star of such significance should be marked in astronomy records.  Such a star should be recorded outside of the Bible, if it truly did exists!

Matthew 2:1-2 records that magi, wise men who saw a star in the east went to Jerusalem to find the one who was born king of the Jews.  They recognizes that the star in the sky was the one prophesied in Number 24:17 that would usher in a ruler for the Jews, one like no other before, who they recognized was also described by Micah 5:2 to be the shepherd of the people Israel.

The star the magi followed is recorded in Chinese astronomy. 
In Matthew's account, Herod had to ask the magi when the star appeared. Obviously, it wasn't in the sky anymore, and he had to confirm the time and the star they were referencing.  After talking to Herod, they had seen in the east went ahead of them to where the child, Jesus, was.  When they saw the star they were overjoyed.  So, they saw the star, recognized it fulfilled prophesy, went to find the king.  The star had disappeared, but reappeared for them to find Jesus, and they were overjoyed!



If such a star appeared to key off the magi to travel for months to see a new born king, wouldn't you think there would be records of it elsewhere in history, besides just the Bible?

Such records, appear in the Astronomy Records of the Book of the Han DynastyThese records place a star in the sky for 70 in 5 B.C.  Most experts place Jesus' birth at 5 to 4 B.C.  The Chinese then record another appearance of a star appearing in 4 B.C.    The time elapsed between the first star and the second star is about 13 months.  This would suggest that the magi were traveling for about one year, which fits with how long the travel for the magi would have taken if they had come from Babylon and Persia (who would have also known about the prophesies from their interactions with the Jews during the Babylonian exile).  This would also explain why Herod had all the young boys the age of two and under killed.

In conclusion, there is external evidence from Chinese astronomers to collaborate the Biblical accounts of the two appearances of the star.  The Chinese also recognized the star to be of great importance, even suggesting that signified the beginning of a new epoch, the beginning of new year, a new month, and a new day!

This information was found in Faith of our Fathers by Chan Kei Thong.   There is a link above to his book.  It contains the actual quotes from Astronomy Recrods of the Han Dynasty, which I only referenced. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

11 Million Dollar Christmas Tree in a Mostly Muslim Country

This isn't apologetics related, necessarily, but the AFP article I'm posting certainly shows what Christmas has become on a secular level.  It also shows that not all Muslims, or mostly Islamic countries, are strict Muslims.  In fact a large number of Muslims are simply cultural Muslims - as shown by this article.  If anything this article shows me, as a Christian, that at this time of year, there are many opportunities to evangelize.  This was certainly true when I lived in China for three years.  The secular Christmas decor in the People's Republic of China paved the way for many conversations that led to sharing the Gospel and the Christ in Christ's Mass.  

Enjoy the article.  Hopefully, it shocks you and makes you rethink your own focus of the season.  

ABU DHABI (AFP) – Christmas came in extravagant fashion to the Muslim desert emirate of Abu Dhabi as a glitzy hotel unveiled a bejewelled Christmas tree valued at more than 11 million dollars on Wednesday.
It is the "most expensive Christmas tree ever," with a "value of over 11 million dollars," said Hans Olbertz, general manager of Emirates Palace hotel, at its inauguration.

The 13-metre (40-foot) faux evergreen, located in the gold leaf-bedecked rotunda of the hotel, is decorated with silver and gold bows, ball-shaped ornaments and small white lights.

But the necklaces, earrings and other jewellery draped around the tree's branches are what give it a record value.
It holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones, said Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery, which provided the jewellery.

"The tree itself is about 10,000 dollars," Olbertz said. "The jewellery has a value of over 11 million dollars -- I think 11.4, 11.5."

This will probably be an entry into the Guinness book of world records, Olbertz said, adding that Emirates Palace planned to contact the organisation about the tree which is to stay until the end of the year.

Asked if the tree might offend religious sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates, where the vast majority of the local population is Muslim, Olbertz said he did not think it would. "It's a very liberal country," he said.
The hotel has had a Christmas tree up in previous years, but this year "we said we have to do something different," and the hotel's marketing team hatched the plan, said Olbertz.

The tree is not the first extravagant offering from Emirates Palace -- a massive, dome-topped hotel sitting amid fountains and carefully manicured lawns.

The hotel, which bills itself as seven-star, in February introduced a package for a seven-day stay priced at one million dollars.

Takers of the package have a private butler and a chauffeur driven Maybach luxury car at their disposal during their stay, as well as a private jet available for trips to other countries in the region.

And in May, the hotel opened a gold vending machine, becoming the first place outside Germany to install "gold to go, the world's first gold vending machine," said Ex Oriente Lux AG, the German company behind the machine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How was Jesus human, yet not born sinful?

Here's a question I received on Facebook: If Jesus was human , why did he not have the human nature of sin?

First, holding to Scripture as the Word of God, there is no "if" about Jesus taking on a human nature.  1 Timothy 2:5 says he was a man.  Romans 9:5 says he has an ancestry, just as any human does (except the first Adam of course).   Scripture also shows that Jesus was born as an infant, grew, was hungry, slept, was tired, drank, ate, had emotions, was thirsty, bled, and died, all of which are human characteristics.  

Scripture also affirms his divinity.  John Chapter calls Jesus God and Collegians 2:9 says that the fullness of the deity dwells in Jesus.  Jesus also identifies himself with God saying, "I and the Father are one" and "Before Abraham was I am."  He receives worship from others, forgives sin, and invites people to worship him.  
Scripture clearly shows that Jesus was both fully human and fully God.  He has two natures, yet is one person.  However, the person asking the question recognizes that Scripture teaches that every human is born with inherited sin, in other words born sinful.  Some Christians disagree with this teaching but Romans Chapter 5 clearly teaches that all inherit sin through Adam's disobedience.  David also teaches that he was sinful from the moment of conception! (Psalm 51)  Other Scriptures teach that no one is righteous, not even one, and that all fall short of the glory of God.  

So wouldn't Jesus in the incarnation taking on a full human nature also inherit original sin, or a sinful nature?

The answer to Jesus being fully human, yet being conceived without sin, lies in the virgin birth!  The virgin birth shows that Christ was truly human.  Jesus' unique conception differentiates him from the rest of us.  He did not have a human father.  He wasn't the first human to not have a human father though, neither did Adam nor Eve.  In fact, they didn't have a human mother either.  They were created directly by God, and they were created without sin!  1 Corinthians 15:47 says, "The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven."  Simply put, Jesus is fully human, but  in a similar way to Adam, Christ, is a new creation without an earthly father - He is the second Adam and was conceived and born without sin!

Also, some Christians note that Adam and Eve were created without a sinful nature, and that since Christ was conceived in a miraculous way through the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ did not inherit Adam's guilt.  The virgin conception breaks the passing of guilt and sin.   

Feel free to send other questions you might have about God, the Bible, or other religions to andy@ocapologist.com or to my Facebook profile.  

The 12 Days of Christmas #3

Not much more information on the 12 Days of Christmas than what I've already given, but here is what I've discovered today.  

Christmas is day 1.  The twelve days of Christmas end on January 5th, the day before a new season in the church starts - Epiphany. 

So the 12 Days of Christmas for this year are:

Dec. 25th - Christmas
Dec. 26th - First Sunday after Christmas
Dec. 27th - Stephen's Day - Remembering the first Christian martyr
Dec. 28th - Remembering the Apostle John
Dec. 29th - Holy Innocents - Remembers the slaughter of the young males by King Herod
Jan. 1st - The Holy Name - Remembering Jesus' dedication on the 8th day, his circumcision, and his naming. 
Jan. 5th - Last day of Christmas. Advent comes to a close.
Jan. 6th - A new season in the church begins, called Epiphany.  This day commemorates when the wise men found Jesus.  


So there you have it!  The 12 days of Christmas.  

For more info: Conduct some searches for church calendar or liturgical church calendar and you'll discover many websites that provide detailed information on each of these days and you'll also find that different Christian denominations observe the order of these days differently. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 Days of Christmas #2

I recently posted the symbolism behind the gifts for the 12 days of Christmas.  Now the plot thickens!  Terrence Maher, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Omaha, Nebraska, wrote an article about the 12 days of Christmas in this month's issue of The Lutheran Witness.  The following is what I learned from his article:

  • The Church's celebration of Christmas in the West (so not in the Eastern Orthodox churches) begins on Christmas and ends on Epiphany - January 6th.
  • Epiphany is older than Christmas!
  • The earliest records of celebrating Ephiphany, which means appearance or manifestation, date back to the fourth century in which the church celebrated the appearance of God, so Christ's birth! 
  • By the sixth century, Dec. 25th was the day Christ's birth was celebrated.  Ephiphany focused on the arrival of the kings!  Today, on Ephiphany, the focus is still on the arrival of the kings. 
  • So from Dec. 25th - Jan. 6th is the timeframe for the 12 days of Christmas, although technically, Jan. 5th is the twelvth night! 
  • Terrence Maher shares in the article that many churches have special services for each of the twelve days.  This I'll have to research. 
So, I'd like to give special thanks to Terrance Maher for sharing this bit of information about the origion of the twleve days of Christmas. 

If you'd like to order a subscription to the Lutheran Witness click on the slideshow image below when the Lutheran Witness ad appears.  The slideshow also contains an ad for the song, "12 Days of Christmas", a collection of articles about Luther from the Lutheran Witness, and a book about the history of the 12 Days of Christmas.  Let me know if you purchase any of these items and what you think about them. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apologetics Against Pornography #2

I've heard many times, in various places, from various mediums, "It's just porn!", "It's no big deal!", "It just effects an individual!", "Porn is a healthy alternative to premarital sex!", "It aids one's sex life!", "Boys, will by boys, and they'll look at porn!", or similar statements to these.

There's an entire ten part video series on youtube called Nightline Porn Debate if you want to hear more from both sides of this issue, but for the case with this blog, as a Christian Apologetics site, what side of the debate should Christians be on.  The last blog post showed the temptation and entrapment of porn for many pastors and families within the church!  It's clear in Scripture that lust is a sin!  That just lusting is adultery (the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-8).

How can the church make a solid defense against pornography?  In the following video, the stats are raised that pron destroys families and relationships and that its in the hands of many people who are in fact underage to legally view it.  This video also raises the point that it is very much a secretive act!  The first step for the church would be to address it!  To bring sin into the light for it to be exposed for what it is!

Hope you enjoy this video and that it gets you thinking more about porn, the effects of porn, and how Christians should respond to pornography in the church and the world.


Check out the following books for more information!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Apologetics Against Pornography #1

Jesus Loves Porn Stars Sticker from XXX Church

This blog and OC Apologist as a whole focuses on Christian apologetcs.  The following are statistics pulled from www.xxxchurch.com, a Christian site dedicated to revealing the darkness of pornography, providing help to addicts, as well as share that Jesus loves porn stars, too!  Jesus died for them and their sin, as well as the sins of the whole world.  For this series, which I'll ad to periodically, I'll to my best to provide a defense (an apologetic) against pornography.  In the world today, porn is considered normal!  It's considered natural, and often times it's considered healthy.  It's not! 


Check out the following statistics concerning the relationship of Christian pastors with porn.  Clearly, this is an apologetic issue.  Christian Apologetics is defending the faith, and if these stats aren't lying, then this is something the faith needs defense against.

53% of Christian men consume pornography.

57% of pastors call pornography the most sexually damaging issue for their congregations.

51% of pastors say porn is a temptation.

69% of pastors started looking at porn out of curiosity.

37% of pastors say it's currently a struggle.

53% of pastors have visited porn sites in the past year.

18% percent of pastors look at porn a couple times a month.

35% of men have used pornography in the past month.

30% of pastors do not talk to anyone about your dirty little secret.

4 in 10 of pastors looked at porn today.

A 2003 survey from Internet Filter Review reported that 47% of Christians admit pornography is a major problem in their homes.

An internet survey conducted by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in 2002 found 30 percent of 6,000 pastors had viewed internet porn in the last 30 days.


Sources: Christianity Today, Promise Keepers, Barna Research Group, World Magazine

Check out the following books for more information!


Go to www.xxxchurch.com for more information.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What is Advent?

Many Christian churches follow a church calendar.  Many do not.  Those who follow a church calendar have a season in the life of the church called Advent.  The word advent means arrival, or coming.  So during Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, the church will focus on Christ's first arrival through the incarnation* of Jesus Christ.  Looking back to the first coming of Christ, and how the manger leads us to the cross and resurrection, we then look forward to his promised second coming! 

The following website has daily Advent devotions that will help prepare you for the Christmas celebration and to spur you on to look eagerly towards Christ's second coming: http://www.adventdevotions.net/advent.asp.

This site is sponsored by the Lutheran Hour Ministries, and the following is their explanation of Advent:

The Church divides the year into different seasons that emphasize the life of Christ and the life of the Church. Beginning on Sunday, November 28, we will enter the season of the Church year called Advent. Advent is a four-week season of preparation and anticipation leading up to Christmas, on December 25and continuing to Epiphany January 6th 2011.

The focus of Advent is two-fold. On the one hand, we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world as both God and man so that our sins might be forgiven. On the other hand, we anticipate the day when Jesus will return to Earth and bring an end to this world. Those will be scary days, but we can look forward to the end of the world with hope because through faith in Jesus, the end of this world will mean the beginning of a new life with Christ for eternity.

Advent, then, is a time for us to repent and believe. Knowing that Jesus was born to forgive our sins, we repent (admit our failures to God) and believe that we are forgiven because of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf. Also, knowing that Jesus is coming back, we repent and believe that when He returns, He will give us eternal life.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas

I just received this from our campus pastor.  I never knew this before about the 12 days of Christmas, but finally, the song, "The 12 Days of Christmas" has meaning to me!  Maybe if this is new to you too - you'll also find meaning in the 12 Days of Christmas whenever you hear it throughout the holiday season. 

The 12 Days of Christmas.  In the 16th century, England prohibited any Christian teaching other than that of the official state religion teachings.  Therefore, people developed creative ways to teach their children some of these "other" aspects of Christianity.  My true love refers to the Lord, our only love Who is always true.

On the (first...) day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
                (1st) ...a partridge in a pear tree. 
A partridge is a bird which will die to defend their young.  The pear tree represents the Cross.  John 10:14‑15.

(2nd)... two turtle doves. 
Two doves remind us of Joseph and Mary, who offered these in the temple when Jesus was 40 days old.  Luke 2:22, 24.


(3rd)... three French hens. 
In the 16th century, French hens were so expensive that only kings could afford them ‑‑ representing the gold, frankincense, and myrrh offered to Jesus at his birth.  Matthew 2:10‑11.

(4th) ... four calling birds.
Four calling birds represent the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, calling out the salvation message. John 20:30‑31.

(5th)... five golden rings.
Five golden rings represent the first 5 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers, Deuteronomy) ‑‑ these were to the Jews more valuable than gold.  Deut. 34:10, 12.

(6th)... six geese a‑laying. 
Six geese remind us of the 6 days of creation; eggs symbolize new life.  Genesis 1:1, 31.

(7th)... seven swans a‑swimming. 
Seven swans represent the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit in which we are immersed as Christians, changing us from "ugly ducklings" into grace‑filled children of God.  Romans 12:6‑8.

(8th)... eight maids a‑milking.  Eight maids represent the 8 unique teachings of Jesus called the Beatitudes, nurturing us in our Christian growth.  Matthew 5:3‑12.

(9th)... nine ladies dancing.  Nine ladies remind us of the 9 fruits of the Spirit.  Such fruit will cause us to dance with joy.  Galatians 5:22‑23.

(10th)... ten lords a‑leaping.  Ten lords represent the 10 Commandments.  Exodus 20:3‑17.

(11th)... eleven pipers piping.  Eleven pipers represent the 11 disciples who remained faithful to Jesus ‑‑ they piped the Gospel for all to hear.  Mark 3:16‑19.

(12th)...twelve drummers drumming.  Twelve drummers represent the 12 vital truths as proclaimed in the Apostles' Creed (1‑Creator, 2‑Jesus is God's Son, 3‑virgin birth, 4‑suffered under Pontius Pilate & crucified, 5‑descended & rose, 6‑right hand of the Father & will judge living and dead, 7‑Holy Spirit, 8‑Christian church, 9‑Communion of Saints, 10‑forgiveness of sins, 11‑resurrection of the body, 12‑life everlasting!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Have you heard of Urantia?

 Urantia is a religion.  The "sacred" text for this religion is the Urantia Book.  It can be found in virtually any major bookstore in the "New Age" section.  I'll have to do more research on this religion.  I've looked into a bit in the past, because someone who is close to me is an Urantian.

Here's one site if you are interested in knowing more about this religion, however, this site refers to Urantia as a cult:   http://withchrist.org/urantia.htm.

I think this group is growing and that they're doing so under the radar of publicity and doing so on purpose.  Once they are fully established all over the world with great numbers, they will then go public.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Crescent Project Book of the Month

Crescent Project is a Christian organization that works to educate Christians about the Islamic faith in order for Christians to be more aware of what Muslims believe and how to foster and grow friendships with Muslims.  


Each month, Crescent Project recommends a book to read.  The following is the book they recommend for the month of December, 2010 and their review.




December's Book of the Month:
Tea with Hezbollah
Is it really possible to love one's enemies?

That's the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet- pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the world's three major religions: Jerusalem.

Order this book for only $18.50  (a 20% savings)!
Book Description
Tea with Hezbollah combines nail-biting narrative with the texture of rich historical background, as readers join novelist Ted Dekker and his co-author and Middle East expert, Carl Medearis, on a hair-raising journey. They are with them in every rocky cab ride, late-night border crossing, and back-room conversation as they sit down one-on-one with some of the most notorious leaders of the Arab world. These candid discussions with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with muftis, sheikhs, and ayatollahs, with Osama bin Laden's brothers, reveal these men to be real people with emotions, fears, and hopes of their own. Along the way, Dekker and Medearis discover surprising answers and even more surprising questions that they could not have anticipated-questions that lead straight to the heart of Middle Eastern conflict.

Through powerful narrative Tea With Hezbollah will draw the West into a completely fresh understanding of those we call our enemies and the teaching that dares us to love them. A must read for all who see the looming threat rising in the Middle East.

About the Authors

Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally best-selling novels, including Bone Man's Daughters, The Circle Series, Thr3e, and House. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide.

Carl Medearis is an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations. He acts as a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making and to promote cultural, political and religious dialog leading toward reconciliation. He is the author of the acclaimed book on these issues Muslims, Christians and Jesus.

Friday, December 3, 2010

What are the Five Pillars of Islam? #2

A few blog posts back, I briefly listed and explained the five pillars of Islam.  Click here to read it.

The pillars are:

1. The Islamic Creed - recited in faith.
2. Prayer (Salat) - five times a day, facing Mecca, prayers are limited to recited Arabic words.
3. Charity - give a percentage of income to the poor.
4. Fasting during Ramadan - fast for the month of Ramadan during daylight hours, at night, chow down!
5. Hajj - pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime if a Muslim has the means to go.

So... how can a Christian present the Christian faith to a Muslim using these five pillars? 

First, ask questions, even if you already know the answers.  Show that you want to learn from them.  Ask,  "What are the five pillars to you?" 

For the Creed, which for them is "There is no God but Allah, and Muhhammad is his messenger," you can share that Christianity also has creeds.  The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.  You could also share that you too believe in only one God.  They'll likely argue that... and say that you believe in three gods.  But you can then share the Christian faith to them more. 

For the daily prayers, you can ask questions about what are the prayers you say?  Why do you have to say them in Arabic?  You can can share that Christians pray too, and that God hears our prayers at all times, not just at certain moments, because he is all powerful and knows all things and wants to listen to what his children have to say. 

Charity - you can share that it's good that they give to the poor.  You can share that Christians give too. 

Fasting - you can share that Christians fast too, but that it's optional for us, and that we can do it anytime we want, and that the purpose for the fasting for us is lead us to pray and to remind us to pray. 

Hajj - you can share that to Christians this entire life is a pilgrimage!  This is not our home.  Our home is in heaven with God and we are just strangers passing through this world to our eternal home with God. 

They may even ask you more questions about these similarities.  If you have a Bible you can share the verses from the Bible with them.  Many Muslims have not read the Bible, yet they believe that the prophets of the Bible, and even Jesus, were prophets for Muhammad, so their words should be authoritative. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Religious Pluralism #1

Is it possible for all religious paths to lead to the same destination.  Religious pluralism, or universalism, ultimately teaches that all religions are equally valid and true, or equally valid expressions of the truth.  But, is this possible?  Do all trails really lead to the "happy hunting ground"?

What do the different paths say about the nature of God?

Hinduism essentially teaches that everything in the universe is divine.  Everything consists of the same divine, imperishable source, or energy, known as Brahman.  This source is essentially impersonal, yet it is the make-up of all things in this life – water, air, earth, flesh, and etc.  

Buddhism according to the traditional teaching of the Buddha is considered an atheistic religion with no divine being or source.  Everything, just, is, yet is always undergoing change.  

Judaism teaches that the Lord revealed in the Tanakh (the Christian Old Testament) is the one true God. 
Christianity teaches that the Lord revealed in the Old Testament is Lord, yet the New Testament reveals God through the person of Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament reveals God to be one in essence but three in person, yet this teaching isn’t fully revealed until the incarnation (the taking on of flesh) of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.  

Islam accepts the teachings of both the Old and New Testament according the Quran, however, most Muslims will say that these written words from Allah have been distorted and changed.  Muslims claim that Jesus was not divine, that he was not the Son of God, that Jesus was a prophet and only a prophet.  At the same time, Muslims reject the doctrine of the Trinity.  

These are just a brief look at five of the world’s major religions’ teachings on the nature of God.  Based on the law of logic known as the law of non-contradiction, two statements that directly contradict each other cannot both equally be true.  They both can be false, but both statements cannot be true.  To put this into an equation, A cannot equal Non-A.  To plug in two of the teachings just mentioned into this equation, we see that, Jesus is God incarnate (Christianity) cannot equal Jesus Christ is not God incarnate (Islam).  From this example it must be concluded that both of these statements cannot be true statements.  However, both statements could be false. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thomas Aquinas on Islam - From Tough Questions Answered

I've currently been writing on Islam, its history, belief, statistics, and practices.  I've also given some suggested conversation starters, questions, and responses that Christians can share with Muslims based on the Islamic information I'm posting.  

Looking online to see what has already been listed online for Christians to read and know concerning sharing the Christ with Muslims I found the blog, "Tough Questions Answered".

On this site I found a blog that contained quotes from Thomas Aquinas, when he addressed Islam during his day and age.  I think it's a good and interesting read, so please check out the blog post, "What Did Thomas Aquinas Have to Say About Islam?".  

I encourage Christians to read this article, because I think it’s easy for us to forget that the challenges against Christ in the modern day world are not that far different from what has been around for centuries and that we can learn from fellow believers that have gone before us. 


We can learn from the teachings of earlier Christians and build upon their work.  Of course, we must remember that  "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11). 

Friday, November 26, 2010

What are the Five Pillars of Islam?

Christianity speaks of a foundation for our beliefs - Jesus Christ!  
                                                                                                   Islam has pillars.  



Pillars, of course, hold up the roof of a building.  The pillars of Islam are then viewed as holding up the Islamic faith.  Following these pillars are essential to all Muslims.  Salvation comes through observing these pillars, yet, there is no guarantee to any Muslim that he or she has followed these well enough, as well as having other good works in their lives, enough to warrant salvation from Allah!  



The Five Pillars of Islam

  1. Creed - The creed of Islam is "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger."  When this single sentence is spoken in faith it makes a person a Muslim.
  2. Prayer - Muslims must pray five times a day facing Mecca.
     
  3. Charity to the Poor - Muslims must give a percentage of their income to the poor.  Generally, this is 2.5%. 
  4. Fasting during Ramadan - Muslims must fast from food and water every day of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.  This fast is known as Ramadan.   When the sun goes down, they can eat and drink. 
  5. Pilgrimage to Mecca - This pilgrimage is called Hajj.  Muslims must travel to Mecca once in their lifetime if they have the financial means to do so.  Once in Mecca, there is is a series of numerous acts that must be performed, but the central task involves worship in the Kabbah. 
I'll follow this blog post with some ideas for connecting these pillars to the Gospel of Christ!  I'll share how Christians can begin with these pillars and present the Christian faith to a Muslim.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksliving

Thanksliving - not just Thanksgiving. 

The Scriptures According to Islam

Contrary to what you may have heard, Muslims claim that more than the Qur'an is the Word of God.

The Scriptures according to Islam

The following are all scriptures which Muslims hold to be from Allah.

  • Torah
  • Pslams
  • Gospel of Jesus
  • Qu’ran
They believe that all of these, besides the Qur'an, have become corrupted or changed.

Response: Dead Sea Scroll.  These prove that the handwritten copies of Scripture have been accurately preserved throughout history. We could then ask Muslims, "How do you know that the Qur'an hasn’t been corrupted?"

Theological Argument:

Who is stronger? God or man?  If they were God’s words when they were written down, how could man have the power to change them?  If man can corrupt God’s word, how do you know if the Qu’ran can’t be corrupted.  God will save and protect his word, and when we read the whole of Scriptures, we see that the Qur'an contradicts God's words that came before. 

Logical Argument:

When did the Bible become corrupted?  How did it become corrupted? Who corrupted it?  Did Muhammad tell Muslims to read the Bible in the Qu’ran?  The answer is, yes!  This means hen the Bible must have been corrupted after Muhammad.  However, we clearly can see that the Bible's text has not been altered after Muhammad.  In fact, if we read the Bible as the Qur'an dictates, then we'll see that the Qur'an contradicts the previous Word of God.  

It's truly amazing, the Qur'an actually says that the Bible is the Word of God.  What an awesome bridge to use to present the Gospel of Christ and to share a copy of the Bible with someone who is Muslim. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who are the Muslims in the World?

To best reach out to and interact with another religion to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it can be very helpful to know the audience you are aiming to mingle with and serve, and unless you know who you're reaching out to in the name of God, you likely miss the people all together.  

So here's some info about who are the Muslims in society, which I gleaned from a worker from Crescent Project:


The two most populous Islamic nations are Indonesia and India.  This is important to know because it tells us that Islam is not just a Middle-East thing.  

Someone from Indonesia won’t have the same Islamic experience as someone from Iran.  There will be similarities, but there will be differences.  So you can ask the same questions to different Muslims to learn about their individual understandings and traditions.   

There are 7 Million Muslims in North America – mostly in America and Canada.  

CA has 222 mosques.  They're evenly divided in the North and South.  

I think everyone has heard that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, but how is this happening.  96% of Islam's growth is biological, and only 4% of the growth comes from conversion. 

Over 60% of the conversions are among African-Americans.  More of the conversions are in the cities.  Islam flourishes in the urban area and not in agricultural areas.  A lot of the conversions happens in prison.  There’s the idea that Islam is the black person’s religion.  

A lot of the conversions also come from Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Theology Over Turkey

I received the following as a prayer request/letter from the founder of Crescent Project. It's part of their "newsletter/prayer update". I thought I'd share it since, I'm currently writing about connecting Muslims to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  Theology Over Turkey
Dear Partner in Prayer,

As Thanksgiving draws near, I'm reminded of a story I was recently told. Last year, a small group pastor felt led to lead a Bridges DVD study. One couple walked in, claiming the reason they had joined was because "a couple of rag-heads moved in next door."

From the first session, God softened their hearts and they repented for their attitude of hatred towards Muslims. As they continued the class, they felt conviction to meet their new neighbors and start a relationship with them. Their friendship with the Iranian couple has grown to the point where they shared Thanksgiving dinner with the couple, and the Muslim father has begun to read the New Testament.

It is a joy for us at Crescent Project to see God use Bridges to rally and equip the church to show love to Muslims. The holidays are a busy time for us all, and it can be easy to lose focus on being intentional with our outreach. But I believe that sharing the holidays with our Muslim friends is a simple, but practical way to show the love of Christ.

Let me encourage you to invite your friends to partake in the holidays with you. Invite them to share Thanksgiving dinner with you and your family. Share with them how grateful you are to God for sharing with us the ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus.

Who knows what kind of spiritual conversations can be had over turkey? God will open the doors for you to share your faith with your Muslim friends, you just have to be ready to be bold in giving a reason for the Hope that you have.
Reaching Muslims for Christ,


Fouad Masri

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Growing Islamic Population - Call to Action

This video I've embedded is not meant to be a scare tactic, at least not to my way of thinking as I post it.  I have no idea exactly how I would go about confirming the truth of the numbers in this video.  However, I find the numbers and the assertions in the video believable.  Watch the video, and then I'll type a brief response.  



Again, like I said previously, I'm not sure if I can verify these numbers or know how to go about doing so, but I do think they sound realistic.  I have spent some time with some British and they confirm the growing number of Muslims in the country.  I forget which city it was, maybe Birmingham, but they said one of the cities is now predominantly Muslim, all from immigration.  I also spoke with someone from Iran, who shared that he does not truly believe in Islam, but in Iran, he must be Muslim.  He must appear to observe the five pillars of Islam and put on a big Islamic front, because it is illegal to not be Muslim.  Clearly, the culture in Iran is set to be Islamic. 

I think this video might have sense of trying to scare its audience into action.  I however, don't see a need to be afraid about the growing Islamic culture and population in the world.  As Christians, we have no need to be afraid.  Besides Jesus promised that things will get worse and worse before the end. (Matthew 24) 

What I like about this video is the call to action.  What action is needed?  Meeting Muslims.  Becoming friends with Muslims.  Witnessing to Muslims.  Sharing Christ with them.  I've only shared Christ with Muslims a couple of times, and I've never truly befriended a Muslim.  I'll try to have posts over the next several weeks which share more about what Muslims believe and how we can reach out to them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.