Sunday, March 26, 2006

Redemption From the "Religion of Peace"

OK, so these last few weeks we have seen in the news here, or here, a story about an Afghan man who converted from Islam to Christianity. Now, in most cases this would not be a problem aside from a few sad parents asking themselves "what could we have done different".

However, this was in a country under Islamic rule (a real theocracy-not the kind the Left talks about when Christians dare to use their constitutional rights to engage the culture). This man, by converting was putting his life on the line.

"The authorities have charged him with rejecting Islam, a crime deserving execution under the country's Sharia-based law."

Let me remind you-This is not something Christians do when people convert. Even those that take the Bible seriously. But this is one thing that, it seems, can happen when one takes the Quran seriously. Comics, anyone?

I thought this quote by Former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN) interesting:

"If we're gonna lose troops, if our people are gonna die over
in Afghanistan and Iraq – we wan't changes. We don't want
people like Abdul Rahman, who professed his belief in Jesus, on trial to be executed. Those are not the kind of changes we're fighting for."

Here's another: "Afghanistan is an Islamic country and its judiciary will act independently and neutrally...No other policy will be accepted apart from Islamic orders and what our constitution says." — Afghan Supreme Court judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada


Whatever happened to cultural reletivism on this one-the view that what one culture thinks is good and moral is different than what another culture deems is good and moral and who are you to say that they are wrong for their beliefs. Hmmm. Anyone?

I didn't think so. That is because it is pretty close to impossible to live like there is no right or wrong. Or that cultural customs and beliefs are equal; merely misunderstood-instead of wrong. Folks, this is another good example that ideas have consequences.

***Update: It seems that the court is saying there is not enough evidence to convict him (this is a graceful way out for Afghanistan-not because they don't want to still kill him for apostasy). A problem they must deal with now is how to protect him from the others that are not a part of a court, and who still want him dead.

Just for the record, this kind of persecution has been happening for many years in countries under Islamic and/ Communist rule such as Indonesia, Sudan, China and many others. Check here for many more stories that most will never here about.

Folks, people are dying and being jailed for their refusal to renouce the name of Jesus.

Not to cast the trial in a light-hearted light, but if you were brough before a judge to determine if you were a true Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Saying you are a Christian, folks, is not enough. Anyone can talk, does your life, conduct, and words line up? I know mine do not always, but I strive to live my life so that Christ is not embarassed to call me His child.

I know it's a long post, but it has been a while.

Derrick

12 comments:

Russ said...

This brings up an interesting point of discussion. Are there different "qualities" to being a Christian, depending on what country we were born to and live in? Was the man rejecting Islam, or accepting Christianity? Conversion does not have the automaticity of rejection. Home country values and lifestyles play roles in what indeed our Christian values manifest themselves in. The Bible is very direct in it's requirements. Interpretation of these values does vary from country to country.Something as elementary as discipline may have acceptable ways in some cultures where they are deemed unacceptable in other cultures. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of people have not yet heard The Word of Jesus Christ.

Derrick Bright said...

Russ, I am not sure I know what you mean by different qualities of being a Christian. Perhaps you could explain this a little.

You said: "Was the man rejecting Islam, or accepting Christianity? Conversion does not have the automaticity of rejection."

Me: I think that the Bible is pretty clear about the exclusiveness of following Jesus. Jesus made the claim that He is THE way, THE truth, THE life, THE ONLY WAY to get to the Father. Now the Bible may be wrong, for the sake of discussion, but I do not know how someone can interpret this differently without completly making something up.

Also, there are passages that talk about if you love the world, money, family more than you love God, then you are not a friend of God. He must be number one.

Conversion to other religions, in our postmodern world, may have not have the automaticity of rejection, but becoming a new creature in Christ, I think, enatails rejection of the old things, whether it is a false religion, drugs, getting drunk, extramarital sex, love of money...these are things that must be rejected in order to fully embrace true Christianity, not the watered-down version we often see in America.

I agree with you that different countries' vlaues and lifestyles play a role in what our Christian values look like, but, as you said, "the Bible is very direct in its requirements".

Sure, there are some "difficult" passages to deal with, but as Mark Twain once said it is the ones that are clear that are sometimes the most difficult. (paraphrase) People may interpret things differently. However, it doesn't mean that they are all the best way to interpret a particular passage. That is part of the process; sometimes an interpretation is sound and sometimes it is not.

I am not sure I touched on your understanding of different qualities; if I didn't please add your explanation so I can understand where you are coming from.

Thank you for your thoughts, anyone else have anything to add, think I am wrong or mistaken... I could be wrong in an area; I am not completely closed to the possibilty of correction, perhaps your views are more convincing...I am willing to examine them and change my mind when necessary.

Much love,
Derrick

Kwame said...

<< Let me remind you-This is not something Christians do when people convert. Even those that take the Bible seriously. >>

Gotta be careful with that one. Remember the Inquisitions, the case of Servetus, and post-Reformation religious sectarian violence in continental Europe.


<< But this is one thing that, it seems, can happen when one takes the Quran seriously. Comics, anyone? >>

You probably followed the comics story better than I did. Did any of the editorial cartoons that ran in the Danish newspapers actually mock Muhammad? Yet it was said on national TV news broadcasts that some of the cartoons “mocked” the man, and so the work of TV news anchors and correspondents becomes less and less trustworthy, as I see it.


<< Not to cast the trial in a light-hearted light, but if you were brough [sic] before a judge to determine if you were a true Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? >>

I’m a true Christian; cuz I asked Jesus to come into my heart, thus making him to be yet another amulet to protect me or yet another guide by which I am willing to be led through the paths of transcendent wisdom. Oh, wait a minute: Bible never said that this actually absolves anyone of the wrongs and violations of God’s law that they have done in their lifetime...but hey, I’m still a true Christian, right? I still get my 70 spiritual virgins when I die, right?


<< Saying you are a Christian, folks, is not enough. Anyone can talk, does your life, conduct, and words line up? I know mine do not always, but I strive to live my life so that Christ is not embarassed to call me His child. >>

Yet any system of biblical or semibiblical theology which neglects a focus on God’s work in ongoing salvation and which also is so oversimplistic that it treats soteriology merely as a matter of one’s being sanctified and made righteous upon his coming to believe on Christ--this will be doomed to produce forms of both libertinism and legalism of a sort. (Ah, but who will believe me when I say this?)


Anyway, let’s all be praying for Abdul Rahman; he isn’t out of the woods yet. In fact, the latest news is that he is now seeking asylum from some state other than Afghanistan.

Kwame said...

<< Me: I think that the Bible is pretty clear about the exclusiveness of following Jesus. Jesus made the claim that He is THE way, THE truth, THE life, THE ONLY WAY to get to the Father. Now the Bible may be wrong, for the sake of discussion, but I do not know how someone can interpret this differently without completly making something up. >>

Just FYI, in case you have not heard, in some forms of contemporary RC theology it is affirmed that no one comes to the Father except by Christ. However, it is also affirmed that some (I believe Muslims are among those who made it to the list) may lead lives of good works sincerely done (I wish I could speak more precisely on this issue) and in the end be spared the wrath of God even if they do not believe on Christ; apparently, under these conditions God is pleased to reckon Christ’s blood as having been shed for them. Consequently, some will spared the wrath and destruction that is to come indeed through Christ yet though these same people do not believe on Christ.

Whether or not this belief (let’s instead call it an argument) is sound is irrelevant. The fact remains, however, that it is valid. Though evangelicals may feel comfy in posting these grand billboard ads along the highway where John 14:6 is posted and the phrase “but by me” is put in boldface print, it was never the case throughout that entire time that the evangelicals were going to reach all those who are in some sense receptive to the words of the Scriptures yet have a hard time following these same words. Moreover, it does not necessarily follow from John 14:6 alone that Christian exclusivism is true (unless you are able to make out some very specific semantic content WRT the various causal prepositions in John 14:6); so be prepared if you want to use the popular you-have-to-be-one-of-us tactics of evangelism and such.

Again, I type by means of my fingers. I also type by means of the electrical impluses between the muscles and the brain. I may pass through Lincoln Tunnel to get to NYC; I may also pass through the tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to get to NYC if I am coming from Ohio. I do good works, I am blessed through the works and through the sacrifice of Christ. John 14:6 itself is not the atomic bomb of Christian exclusivisism proof texts.

Derrick Bright said...

OK, deep breath. I will try to be brief, thorough.

<< Let me remind you-This is not something Christians do when people convert. Even those that take the Bible seriously. >>

Gotta be careful with that one. Remember the Inquisitions, the case of Servetus, and post-Reformation religious sectarian violence in continental Europe.

----I think I have discussed it briefly in the past, but I think this shows the distinction where Christians doing this are acting in opposition to the teachings of Jesus (and Christianity)

<< But this is one thing that, it seems, can happen when one takes the Quran seriously. Comics, anyone? >>

You probably followed the comics story better than I did. Did any of the editorial cartoons that ran in the Danish newspapers actually mock Muhammad? Yet it was said on national TV news broadcasts that some of the cartoons “mocked” the man, and so the work of TV news anchors and correspondents becomes less and less trustworthy, as I see it.

----I think the most mocking one would be the bomb-turban head one.

You: I’m a true Christian; cuz I asked Jesus to come into my heart, thus making him to be yet another amulet to protect me or yet another guide by which I am willing to be led through the paths of transcendent wisdom. Oh, wait a minute: Bible never said that this actually absolves anyone of the wrongs and violations of God’s law that they have done in their lifetime...but hey, I’m still a true Christian, right? I still get my 70 spiritual virgins when I die, right?

---This reminds me of Ray Comfort's work. livingwaters.com or wayofthemaster.com

You: Yet any system of biblical or semibiblical theology which neglects a focus on God’s work in ongoing salvation and which also is so oversimplistic that it treats soteriology merely as a matter of one’s being sanctified and made righteous upon his coming to believe on Christ--this will be doomed to produce forms of both libertinism and legalism of a sort. (Ah, but who will believe me when I say this?)

---Sorry, I am sure I can believe what you say if only I understood what you are saying. Brother, ya gotta remember to explain some of the big words for those out there that may benefit from your thinking. (myself very much included)

---And definately keep praying for Abdul Rahman because his life is not spared just because the court has set him free.

You: Just FYI, in case you have not heard, in some forms of contemporary RC theology it is affirmed that no one comes to the Father except by Christ. However, it is also affirmed that some (I believe Muslims are among those who made it to the list) may lead lives of good works sincerely done (I wish I could speak more precisely on this issue) and in the end be spared the wrath of God even if they do not believe on Christ; apparently, under these conditions God is pleased to reckon Christ’s blood as having been shed for them. Consequently, some will spared the wrath and destruction that is to come indeed through Christ yet though these same people do not believe on Christ.

----I am aware that some suggest as long as you are a "good" person and better than that one guy down the street, you are on your way to heaven, which is not the case.

You: so be prepared if you want to use the popular you-have-to-be-one-of-us tactics of evangelism and such.

----I follow you that John 14:6 is not the be-all-to-end-all discussion for Christian exclusiveness (I think there are others, but this was just the one many [most] folks are familiar with).

What I was not sure of was what you meant by the above statement.

Thanks again, Kwame, for posting. As always, a mental gymnastics session. I am tired. :-) Night.

Derrick

Kwame said...

<< I think the most mocking one would be the bomb-turban head one. >>

So you’re telling me that the guy who drew the cartoon to say without words, “Ha, ha, look at you Muhammad! You’re a silly guy”? Isn’t it possible that it is meant instead to show merely and simply that Muhammad’s people are getting far too many people killed nowadays?


<< This reminds me of Ray Comfort's work. livingwaters.com or wayofthemaster.com >>

Or even Brother Mike’s article on the complete absence of The Sinner’s Prayer in the Scriptures.


<< Sorry, I am sure I can believe what you say if only I understood what you are saying. Brother, ya gotta remember to explain some of the big words for those out there that may benefit from your thinking. (myself very much included) >>

Well, thanks for the invitation to add an average of 1000 words to every comment of mine, but that would require wayyy too much space for a narrow comments section of this blog.

But here is the thing anyhow: the idea that one should prove his repentance and the legitimacy of his profession of faith by means his works is perfectly good. But if one’s theory of “salvation” is limited to God-sent-Christ/Christ-died-and-rose/you-gotta-repent-and-believe/then-you-get-the-Comforter, and if the same person comes to believe that repentance and faith should be proven by good deeds and begins to disseminate this idea to people whose understanding is as superficial as his, what do you think will be the result? Well, his group’s pool of theological beliefs will degenerate into some form of legalism. Arising within the ranks will be convoluted and circumlocutionary statements expressing the proposition that (truth be told) you gotta do good works to be forgiven of God, ya gotta do good deeds to stay forgiven, and the tools for doing so are your own strength and prayer to God.

On the other hand, abandon the idea that good deeds at least approach the value of serving as a gauge for whether God has granted repentance and faith to some particular person, and the pool of theological beliefs of a particular body of people probably will slowly degenerate into one of libertinism of sorts--sing praises to God this Sunday, guzzle beer and get wasted this Friday night and don’t you dare “judge” me, talking about how I’m doing wrong by what I do. In fact, if such a person is 4-point follower of the Remonstrants you’ll probably hear from his mouth “once saved, always saved” vs. “This is the work that God has done for me.” (Actually, and in the meantime, not even his simple Atonement-based model of eternal security will be able to account for various Scriptures which seem at first glance to contradict his beliefs.)

Of course, if you are someone who has a habit of dotting his “i”s, writing “your” as the correct 2nd person possessive adjective, subjecting his work to the process of quality control, and acting proactively to spare himself from having to retract his beliefs and professions after someone proves him wrong, then you may not have these problems. People will come along after you, pick up on your ideas, and sure enough go on later to completely butcher and abuse what you have said. However, because your statements were couched in precise language not easily given to misunderstanding, and because your words addressed the issues underlying the superficial ones, it’ll take more time and more effort for the 2nd Law of Ideodynamics to run its course.


<< What I was not sure of was what you meant by the above statement. >>

That one is easy: some of the motivation of evangelism and psuedoevangelism, and some of the motivation of the cheers from the TBN/“Praise the Lord” crowd as the latest announcement on which famous American is discovered to be a Christian, may well be sociological, if you will. Mad Dog shows up on PTL, we get the news, and bam: he is one of us; our beliefs are affirmed; our ideas are affirmed; our beliefs and ideas, and perhaps identity, are given some weight of dignity and legitimacy.… I could be dead wrong about this, but I doubt it.

Derrick Bright said...

<< This reminds me of Ray Comfort's work. livingwaters.com or wayofthemaster.com >>

Or even Brother Mike’s article on the complete absence of The Sinner’s Prayer in the Scriptures.

----I have been disturbed by this for a number of years now. It was another of those things that "you grow up with" in the church and you don't think to question it. But it does cause my feathers to ruffle when I hear people (often backsliding in some fashion)explain how they know they are a Christian with "well, I prayed the prayer"...

Though I would be careful to qualify this with the thought that some folks are saved, not necessarily from the "praying of the prayer", but the understanding of the purpose and necessity of trusting in God for one's salvation rather than in a prayer, per se.

<< Sorry, I am sure I can believe what you say if only I understood what you are saying. Brother, ya gotta remember to explain some of the big words for those out there that may benefit from your thinking. (myself very much included) >>

Well, thanks for the invitation to add an average of 1000 words to every comment of mine, but that would require wayyy too much space for a narrow comments section of this blog.

----I do suppose that is a big container of worms that is opened. ;-)

You: But here is the thing anyhow: the idea that one should prove his repentance and the legitimacy of his profession of faith by means his works is perfectly good. But if one’s theory of “salvation” is limited to God-sent-Christ/Christ-died-and-rose/you-gotta-repent-and-believe/then-you-get-the-Comforter, and if the same person comes to believe that repentance and faith should be proven by good deeds and begins to disseminate this idea to people whose understanding is as superficial as his, what do you think will be the result? Well, his group’s pool of theological beliefs will degenerate into some form of legalism. Arising within the ranks will be convoluted and circumlocutionary statements expressing the proposition that (truth be told) you gotta do good works to be forgiven of God, ya gotta do good deeds to stay forgiven, and the tools for doing so are your own strength and prayer to God.

On the other hand, abandon the idea that good deeds at least approach the value of serving as a gauge for whether God has granted repentance and faith to some particular person, and the pool of theological beliefs of a particular body of people probably will slowly degenerate into one of libertinism of sorts--sing praises to God this Sunday, guzzle beer and get wasted this Friday night and don’t you dare “judge” me, talking about how I’m doing wrong by what I do. In fact, if such a person is 4-point follower of the Remonstrants you’ll probably hear from his mouth “once saved, always saved” vs. “This is the work that God has done for me.” (Actually, and in the meantime, not even his simple Atonement-based model of eternal security will be able to account for various Scriptures which seem at first glance to contradict his beliefs.)

---I think this is good reason to follow through on the Great Commission and do the discipling part of Christianity. At least two difficulties arise from this that I can see. 1)We don't often have a good model of what this looks like and 2) many people don't want to have to work...

And sometimes we want the easy way out. Or maybe that is just me.

Derrick

Russ said...

Different qualities of being a Christian was a statement I should have expanded upon and made more clear. Different countries have vastly different moral ethics. Ladies going topless on the beaches of Brazil is the norm there. To see this at Huntington Beach would make the local newspaper front page. There are countries where it is the norm to surgically "desensitze" females at the age of 14( by male relatives) so that they do not feel "pleasure" from men. For these people to accept Christianity would be a very harsh descrepancy from their deeply engrained moral expectations. The qualities then, would be how the expression of their Christianity was reflected not by faith only. It is a total lifestyle change that has an effect on their quality of life. This is probably true for all who accept The Lord, but morso for those who are putting their life at risk for being born again.

Russ said...

POST THOUGHT COMMENT:

Pull the titty twister on someone in Iran or Iraq and you will get your head cut off. Not "quality of being a Christian" related, but certainly something to consider!

Derrick Bright said...

Russ said: Different qualities of being a Christian was a statement I should have expanded upon and made more clear. Different countries have vastly different moral ethics. Ladies going topless on the beaches of Brazil is the norm there. To see this at Huntington Beach would make the local newspaper front page. There are countries where it is the norm to surgically "desensitze" females at the age of 14( by male relatives) so that they do not feel "pleasure" from men.

---I would be hard-pressed to argue with the idea that different cultures have different customs and mores. Obviously they do. I am not sure what this leads to.

Russ said: For these people to accept Christianity would be a very harsh descrepancy from their deeply engrained moral expectations.

---I am not sure what follows from this. Part of the difficulty of becoming a Christian is that the moral restrictions and expectations are difficult.

If choosing Christianity were about preference, not too many folks stay for long, but if folks choose Christianity because they think it is true (or perhaps continue with Christianity because they consider it true) that will lead to some type of culture change:whether from the Christian doing things differently or from the culture influencing the Christian so that they are longer any different.


Russ said: The qualities then, would be how the expression of their Christianity was reflected not by faith only. It is a total lifestyle change that has an effect on their quality of life. This is probably true for all who accept The Lord, but morso for those who are putting their life at risk for being born again.

----I agree. The commitment required for most of us in America could be the possible loss of friends (though admittedly, some of the friends may need to change-particularly in instances of alcoholism, drug addiction...well, probably any addictive behavior)

In those other countries, the cost is definately a little higher. And of course no need to lose part of your body because one can't keep one's hands to themselves...


Derrick

Russ said...

Not to make light of how an addictive nature makes one weak, but an update for tomorrow when we see you. I have created the most awesome batch yet of tenderloin beef jerky. It will be done just about visiting time. If it is true that one addiction is usually replaced by another, jerky seems a pretty good replacement. I'm always happy when I'm eating it, I can never get arrested for an open container of jerky in my car, and I always remember having eaten it the next day..

Derrick Bright said...

MMM, sounds yummy...the jerky...not the addiction. :-)

Derrick