Islam Archives

Good News from the Muslim World

They’re turning to Jesus in droves, as noted by Chuck Colson.

According to the website Islam Watch, in Russia, some two million ethnic Muslims converted to Christianity last year. Ten thousand French Muslims converted, as did 35,000 Turkish Muslims. In India, approximately 10,000 people abandoned Islam for Christianity.

In his book Epicenter, author Joel Rosenberg details amazing stories of Muslims converting to Christianity. In Algeria, the birthplace of St. Augustine, more than 80,000 Muslims have turned to Christ in recent years. This, despite the stiff opposition from Islamic clerics who have passed laws banning evangelism.

In Morocco, newspaper articles openly worry that 25,000 to 40,000 Muslims have become followers of Christ in recent years.

The stories are even more amazing in the heart of the Middle East. In 1996, the Egyptian Bible Society sold just 3,000 video copies of the JESUS film. In the year 2000, they sold an incredible 600,000 copies.

In Sudan, as many as five million Muslims have accepted Christ since the early 1990s, despite horrific persecution of Christians by the Sudanese government. What is behind the mass conversions? According to a Sudanese evangelical leader, “People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead.”

Some say that America is creating terrorists by fight Islam.  But it appears that many, many more Muslims, seeing the hate from their fellow Muslims, have decided "they want Jesus instead". 

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The Islamic “DaVinci Code”?

A very interesting article in Asia Times about 60-year-old documents, hidden away for all that time, that could shake Islam to its core. If it can be proved that the Koran’s origins are not what is claimed, it would be monumental. First, some background on why it would be so.

No one is going to produce proof that Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave three days after the Crucifixion, of course. Humankind will choose to believe or not that God revealed Himself in this fashion. But Islam stands at risk of a Da Vinci Code effect, for in Islam, God’s self-revelation took the form not of the Exodus, nor the revelation at Mount Sinai, nor the Resurrection, but rather a book, namely the Koran. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (1982) observes, “The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Koran in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ.” The Koran alone is the revelatory event in Islam.

The Koran is Islam. The question then is…

What if scholars can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Koran was not dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad during the 7th century, but rather was redacted by later writers drawing on a variety of extant Christian and Jewish sources? That would be the precise equivalent of proving that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels really was a composite of several individuals, some of whom lived a century or two apart.

The documents in question, hidden by the Nazis, and who’s photographs are now in a Berlin vault, do exist. That’s apparently not in question.

It has long been known that variant copies of the Koran exist, including some found in 1972 in a paper grave at Sa’na in Yemen, the subject of a cover story in the January 1999 Atlantic Monthly. Before the Yemeni authorities shut the door to Western scholars, two German academics, Gerhard R Puin and H C Graf von Bothmer, made 35,000 microfilm copies, which remain at the University of the Saarland. Many scholars believe that the German archive, which includes photocopies of manuscripts as old as 700 AD, will provide more evidence of variation in the Koran.

The question is, do they damage the Koran’s authenticity or claim of origin? That’s a question that may not be answered soon, as access to the photographs is being heavily restricted. And then there’s always the reluctance on the part of Muslims.

Apart from the little group at the University of the Saarland and a handful of others, though, the Western Academy is loathe to go near the issue. In the United States, where Arab and Islamic Studies rely on funding from the Gulf States, an interest in Koranic criticism is a failsafe way to commit career suicide.

And perhaps, not just their career, either.

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WND Interviews Rick Warren, Part 2

WorldNetDaily has part 2 of a 3-part series up on their site today interviewing Rick Warren. This article touches on fame, megachurches, and Warren’s trip to Syria, among other things.

On fame and fortune:

After the windfall from sales of his books – “The Purpose-Driven Life” is regarded as the best-selling hardback of all time – Warren dropped his salary and paid the church back for 25 years of wages. He and his wife, Kay, give a “reverse tithe” of 90 percent of their income and live on 10 percent.

But with 22,000 filling the 120-acre Saddleback campus on weekends, ministries in 167 countries and a global “P.E.A.C.E. plan that aims to conquer the world’s five biggest problems, he’s aware of being perceived as an “empire builder.”

“If I wanted a big name I would have gone on TV,” he said, arguing Saddleback “may be the only church of the 10 largest in the country that doesn’t televise its services.”

When Saddleback was founded in 1980 with just seven people, he “didn’t want to turn the church into a studio.”

“I don’t want to be a celebrity,” Warren said. “And on top of that, if I put my sermons on television, I compete with other churches, I don’t help them.”

On Saddleback being a megachurch:

Many learn about Saddleback from secular journalists, he said, who assume the big crowd on weekends is “what we’re all about.”

But the thousands who come Saturday and Sunday are just a “funnel,” he said, to small-group ministry. Warren said his aim was to create something inexpensive and reproducible – evangelism-oriented meetings that would draw the unchurched. The current goal, he said, “is to reach 10,000 more people for Christ in the next 40 months here by the end of 2010.”

“A crowd is not a church,” he said. “A crowd can be turned into a church, and you have to have a big crowd to get a big church. But a crowd is not a church. So we don’t kid ourselves.”

On meeting with rogue state leaders:

The fundamental reason he is willing to meet with the leaders of rogue states such as North Korea or Iran, he said, is “because Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world.’ Not into all the politically correct world. But he even said, ‘Love your enemies.'”

He cited the Apostle Paul, who said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

“I know people, bloggers, who think that’s heresy,” he said referring to online critics. “I know people who if I wrote that – and they didn’t know it was in the Bible – they would say the guy is a chameleon.”

Paul, he argued, was not a chameleon, he was being strategic.

“Jesus said be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. And what the church is, usually, is harmless as a dove,” he said. “A lot of things that are being done today in the name of Christ are very unwise. Rather than opening doors for the Gospel, they are closing doors for the Gospel. They are giving us a black eye.”

On bad press he got in WorldNetDaily itself:

Warren insisted the only mistake he made in Syria during his November 2006 visit was that he should not have allowed a photo op at the end of his meeting with Assad.

The state news agency issued a report that Warren contended was not accurate. It read: “Pastor Warren hailed the religious coexistence, tolerance and stability that the Syrian society is enjoying due to the wise leadership of President al-Assad, asserting that he will convey the true image about Syria to the American people.”

Warren also was quoted saying, “Syria wants peace, and Muslims and Christians live in this country jointly and peacefully since more than a thousand years, and this is not new for Syria.”

But Warren’s critics say, regardless of whether the state Syrian report was true, he was captured on a 50-second home video walking down a Damascus road mentioned in the book of Acts, Straight Street, saying Syria is “a moderate country, and the official government rule and position is to not allow any extremism of any kind.”

In the video, which was briefly posted on YouTube, Warren said, “Syria’s a place that has Muslims and Christians living together for 1,400 years. So it’s a lot more peaceful, honestly, than a lot of other places, because Christians were here first.”

Warren argued that when he suggested there was freedom of religion in Syria, he didn’t mean everyone had the freedom to convert to Christianity.

Christians are “actually meeting above ground, they are not in secret, I’ve been in their churches,” he said.

“The problem is we’ve got to get them moved to the next step, which is the freedom of conversion,” he contended.

“It’s quite different than in many places I’ve been … I won’t mention the countries, but I’ve been in those countries where you can’t even meet above ground,” Warren said. “Every time I go to those countries, I have to go in secret.”
Warren said there were no photographers there during the meeting with Assad, but film crews were brought in at the end for a photo op.

“And then the government agency, of course, put out their pro-Syrian statement, ‘Rick Warren thinks we’re sliced bread,’ you know, that kind of stuff,” he recounted.

Warren said WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah then wrote an initial column based on information from the Syrian state news story.

“I happened to be in Rwanda from there,” Warren said. “I wrote Joseph and said, ‘Joseph that’s just not true. I didn’t say those things. You’re reading a statement.’ And he wrote back in a very accusatory letter that said, ‘Well, I can’t wait to see the video.’ In other words, he didn’t believe me.

“I didn’t lie at all. He didn’t stop to check it out,” Warren insisted. “And so he then writes six columns on the basis of his assumption. There was no video of that meeting. At the end, they took a picture, so he chose to believe what the government said, instead of believing me.”

Farah said he stands “by every word I wrote in those columns.”

“After all this time and all these different explanations, I am 100 percent convinced everything I wrote was accurate,” Farah said.

Again, this is just a small portion of the article. There are more details regarding church discipline, his ministry at Saddleback, and the Syrian trip. I encourage you to read the whole thing and decide what you think about Rick Warren for yourself.

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WND Interviews Rick Warren

WorldNetDaily has part 1 of a 3-part series up on their site today interviewing Rick Warren. It looks to be an opportunity for Warren to answer his critics, and he’s certainly using it that way, although it muddies some waters, while clearing others up,. It’s a very good interview, regardless of your views on him. Below are some excerpts but please read the whole thing.

Regarding mistakes:

“Without a doubt,” he told WND. “I make mistakes all the time.”

But he added, “I always own up to mistakes that I actually do. I just won’t own up to mistakes that weren’t really a mistake.”

On apologizing:

Last month, Warren drew some fire for signing a dialogue-seeking letter in which Christian theologians and ministers responded to an initiative by 138 Muslim leaders by apologizing for the medieval Crusades and “excesses in the war on terror.”

Asked specifically which excesses he had in mind, Warren replied:

“Ahhh, you know what … I have no idea,” he said. “Because I didn’t sign it sentence-by-sentence.”

Similar to his endorsement of an initiative acknowledging man-made global warming, Warren said, “There might have been statements there I didn’t agree with, but generally I’m saying, I think it’s a good idea to get people talking.”

“It comes back to,” he said, referring to the letter to Muslims, “I am a pastor, not a politician. And what I’ve learned is that, in marriage if I’m trying to keep a divorce from happening … I’ve found as long as I can get the husband and wife talking, they’re not going to divorce. The moment the talking stops the divorce is inevitable.”

(My suggestion is not to dilute the value of your signature by not reading or agreeing with everything you sign. Keeping the conversation going is admirable. Compromising on what you believe is not. Warren makes a good point, and defends it well, that he’s a preacher, not a politician. On the other hand, you can only cry “Wolf!” so many times before your support is both meaningless and misinterpreted.)

More on apologies:

Warren said apologies actually are an important part of his evangelism strategy, noting how the approach can disarm antagonism.

He pointed to one of the speakers at Saddleback’s AIDS conference, David Miller, a founder of ACT UP, who he “led to Christ, simply because I started with an apology.”

Two years ago, at the first “Global Summit on AIDS and the Church,” Warren recalls Miller came up to him “spittin’ nails.”

“He was so angry, he was ready to knock my head off,” said Warren, who remembered Miller telling him he had always hated the Christian church.

“Now, I could have been defensive back, but I said, ‘David, I’m sorry, I want to apologize to you for any meanness that’s been said to you in the name of Christ,'” Warren said.

“And it was like I punched him in the gut,” Warren continued. “You could have knocked the wind out of his sails. Like I just popped the balloon. And then, here, two years later, after this relationship, I’m going to baptize him.”

On climate change:

On global warming, Warren said he didn’t endorse the “Evangelical Climate Initiative,” as others did, to assert humans are causing it.

“I don’t even care about that debate so much as I care that Christians should be at the forefront of taking care of the planet,” he said.

“And actually, you tell me which side you want to be on, and I’ll tell you which reports to read. OK. I can show you noted scientists who tell you we are near disaster, and I can show you noted scientists you say there is no problem at all.”

Warren said he does not support the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement rejected by the U.S. requiring radical emission reductions opponents say would destroy economies and harm the poor – “not at all do I agree with it.”

“I didn’t sign on to say, I believe all things that the radical environmentalists believe. Not at all,” he said. “I just thought Christians ought to be saying, We care about the planet too.”

(I agree with his stance, though that being the case he shouldn’t have signed the ECI. (Full disclosure: My brother-in-law Jim does PR for the ECI. And I’m still invited to his house for Christmas. Right? >grin<))

On rumors:

Warren said some criticism is simply baseless, charging many “don’t do their due diligence on research.”

The Robert Schuller “mentorship,” for example, likely originated with a statement the Crystal Cathedral pastor made on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” But Warren said he’s met Schuller only a couple of times and never had a one-on-one conversation with him.

The claim was furthered by author George Mair in a biography of Warren called “A Life with Purpose” then spread like wildfire among Internet blogs.

“In the first place, this guy is not even a Christian, never talked to me, never talked to any staff member, never talked to any member of my family, and in the book claimed that he did,” Warren said. “He flat-out lied.”

More tomorrow.

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Shire Network News #110

Shire Network News #110 has been released. This week we ask Hollywood comedian and political commentator Evan Sayet when tinseltown’s conservatives are finally going to stage a parade down Rodeo Drive.. We’ll also hear from Meryl Yourish what she thinks of the Great Teddy Bear Incident of 2007. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

I did not submit a commentary for this week. But listen to it anyway. >grin<

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Shire Network News #108

Shire Network News #108 has been released. This may be the last episode of SNN, at least for a while. This is from the website:

I’m afraid we have some bad news. For reasons which are detailed in the podcast, this is probably the final Shire Network News, certainly at least in it’s current format.

We seem to have gotten ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the Blog Civil War that’s going on, and we managed to get ourselves ripped apart by the gravitational forces. Yes, yes, we TRIED reversing the polarity through the deflector array, didn’t work.

In part, the reason why “Brian of London” and “Tom Paine” in Australia have come to truce and treaty and the parting of the ways is the subject of this weeks special and probably last feature interview.

It’s with Filip Dewinter, leader of the Valaams Belang, the Flemish nationalist party in Belgium. As many of you already know, there has been a great disturbance in the Blog recently over the counter-Jihad movement cooperating with the VB and other European parties with questionable antecedents, such as the Swedish Democrats.

Shire Network News was offered the chance to put the tough questions to the man himself. And so, like idiots, we did.

And then…well, listen for yourselves.

For myself, “Tom Paine”, now that we seem to be in the Blogosphere equivalent of the week that Fort Sumter was fired upon, I reckon on lighting out for the territories for a spell, I figure I’ll be back when this has all blown over. And I’m sure all of us wish Brian of London great success with his family in their new country.

And perhaps it might be worth remembering that there’s a real enemy out there, and it’s not each other, m’kay?

Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of what my commentary segment would have been. Just think; you won’t have the opportunity to hear me sing “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport”. Consider yourselves fortunate.

UPDATE:  According to the site now, Tom Paine says that SNN isn’t going away, so you might yet hear this in an upcoming episode.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to “Consider This!” The last time I did a Global Warming Update, it was for my very first contribution to Shire Network News back in April, so it’s about time for another one.The Nobel Committee says that, by raising awareness of global warming, the Prophet Al Gore (Peace Prize be unto Him) might have been instrumental in possibly stopping potential future conflicts over what may turn out to be scarcer resources. With that paper-thin connection to “peace”, they turned the Nobel Peace Prize into the Nobel “Leftist Accolade” Prize. Well, it may have already been that, if you consider that Gandhi of the Middle East, Yassar Arafat, was a recipient.

In any event, not everyone in the climate biz was thrilled to see the prize go to Al and the United Nations (which, incidentally, is a good name for a rock band…with apologies to Dave Barry). Dr. William Gray is a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, and he’s called Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, “ridiculous”.

Dr Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures – related to the amount of salt in ocean water – was responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place.

However, he said, that same cycle meant a period of cooling would begin soon and last for several years.

“We’ll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was,” Dr Gray said.

OK, if we do realize how foolish it was, does that mean Al loses his prize? Nah, probably not. He’ll just say that all his “consciousness raising” fixed everything. Plus all the particulates from the exhaust of his private jets reflecting the sun. But if Dr. Gray is right, shouldn’t he get the Peace Prize for raising the consciousness about the natural cycles of the planet, thus keeping a whole bunch of global warming alarmists from fighting over who’s fault it was that they were wrong?

The next item pits one lefty special interest group against a few others. Greenpeace is suggesting to Australians that, in order to hold down methane emissions from cows, that Aussies eat more…kangaroo! Well, the vegetarians are already upset about cows, and PETA is sure to hate this, what with the “cutesy” factor of the roos. Think of all the brokenhearted children when a politically correct Christopher Robin starts eyeing Kanga, with a lean and hungry look in his eye. So now, let’s all sing the new anthem of Greenpeace.

Tie me kangaroo down, sport
Tie me kangaroo down
They taste better than cow, sport
Tie me kangaroo down

Finally, here’s the latest action by DARE. No, not the anti-drug group, the not-so-well-known “Democrats Against Renewable Energy”. Over the years, Ted Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Walter Cronkite, among other liberal luminaries, have been campaigning against wind power. That’s right, they’re so concerned about the fishing and boating industries (what one might call “Big Fish”) that they’ve actively worked against wind farms 5 miles off the coast in…oh, yeah, Nantucket Sound. Well, there’s your explanation. Wind power is good, unless it’s within the sound of my Sound. And again, it’s one set of lefties against another. Such entertainment value!

All we need to do now is get Al Gore up there to Cape Cod and see how “peaceful” things get. Then we could just sit back, throw another roo on the barbie, and watch the sparks fly, which I suppose would just contribute to more global warming.

Consider that.

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Charity and the “Abrahamic” Religions

Maimon Schwarzschild put up a thought-provoking post last week about charity in the world. It starts thusly:

The New York Times ran a front-page story recently about an elderly man who starved to death in Japan, having been denied help by the welfare bureaucracy. The man kept a diary as he died: heartbreaking to read. The Japanese welfare bureaucracy seems to have been notably heartless, and not only in this case. There are other, similar cases of starvation in the past year or two in Japan, according to the Times.

There is this brief throwaway in the lengthy Times story:

With no religious tradition of charity, Japan has few soup kitchens or other places for the indigent. Those that exist — run frequently by Christian missionaries from South Korea or Japan’s tiny Christian population — cater mostly to the homeless.

Say what you will about the “Abrahamic” religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – can there be any doubt that they have brought an ethic of charity into a world that would otherwise be a crueler place?

The ancient, pagan world, for all its brilliance, was coldly cruel. The Hebrew Bible put enormous emphasis on charity, which was something radically new.

Some of the commenters have their own issues with Muslim charity (little at all, or only to other Muslims).

Maimon winds up with this thought to chew on.

If the Christian world is on its way to being post-Christian, will the tradition of Christian charity persist?

Or is the ethic of charity liable to go down with the faith that inspired it?

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Shire Network News #107

Shire Network News #107 has been released. The feature interview is part 2 of last week’s interview with two free thinkers who have rejected the teachings of Muhammad and chosen another path; Adil Zeshan and Sheila. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

While I did submit a commentary this week, because the interview went long I was bumped until next week’s show. I’ll post the text then.

Shire Network News #103

Shire Network News #103 has been released. The feature interview is with UK journalist for The Times of London, Andrew Norfolk. He has just finished a nine month assignment to get to the bottom of just who is running the mosques in Britain. It turns out the answer is that 40% or so may not be so moderate after all. Andrew speaks to Shire Network News about what he found out, who he interviewed and who wouldn’t speak to him.Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Six Years After

There’s not much more that I can say about 9/11 than I’ve already said before (some in 2006, but mostly in 2004). I think the national memory is still fading, especially when many still can’t come to face the fact that Islamo-fascists are really out to kill us. Some politicians want to remove preventative measures that nipped many attack, most recently in Germany, in the bud. They just don’t realize the danger. 9/11 was a one-off, so far, because of better intelligence gathering. We need to keep it.

If we are attacked again because we forgot the stakes and the lessons, to a large extent we would have ourselves to blame. Remember.

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