Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project and Passion Worship Band's Hymns Ancient and Modern

I have recently purchased the CDs Upward: The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project and Passion Worship Band’s Hymns Ancient and Modern. The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project was released in 2003, while Hymns Ancient and Modern was released in 2004.

If the name Bob Kauflin sounds familiar to you, he is the worship leader behind the worship CD Chosen Treasure, one of my favorite worship albums that was released in the early 1990s. Chosen Treasure has given us a couple of memorable worship songs, such as How Great Is Your Love (How High And How Wide), We Give Thanks, and Thank You For The Cross, which are still being sung in churches today. Bob Kauflin is also the director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries, a family of Reformed Charismatic churches.

Both CDs attempt to remake the hymns using contemporary arrangements. While Passion Worship Band chose mostly familiar hymns, the hymns chosen by Bob Kauflin tends to be a little off the beaten path.

Perhaps I am getting old or something, but I thought Hymns Ancient and Modern is rather so-so, while I immensely enjoy The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project. I have heard Passion Worship Band’s typical style of worship many times, and I do feel a tinge of disappointment that the hymns are set to similar “heavy” arrangements found in their older live worship CDs such as Better Is One Day. I am not saying that Hymns Ancient and Modern is no good or I do not enjoy the CD, but I guess my expectation of Passion Worship Band is higher after hearing The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project.

The style of worship by Passion Worship Band gravitates towards heavy bass, electric guitar and synthesizers coupled with a live atmosphere, while Bob Kaulfin concentrates more on creative acoustic arrangements, in which I can appreciate the tight vocals supported by the acoustic guitar, piano and percussive instruments. My favorite song in The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project is Mercies Anew, which I thought it would be great as a special item.

If you like “quiet” and “relaxing” worship albums like Lenny LeBlanc’s Above All, John Chisum’s Firm Foundation and Martin Nystrom’s In Christ Alone, you would probably love The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project.

You can preview the music from The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project, as well as download free lead sheets and chord charts at the Sovereign Grace Ministries website.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

An unpleasant encounter with an anonymous visitor

There was recently an anonymous visitor to this blog, henceforth referred to as AV, who is under the obstinate delusion that I do not believe in divine healing. I was seriously contemplating whether I should continue the argument with this fellow who, despite my attempts to reason with him, denounces me as someone who comes close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

AV’s comments can be found in the comments section of the article Refutation of City Harvest's "Divine Healing" Article (Part 1).

AV revealed that he is from Marine Parade Christian Centre. In addition, he has made some unfounded accusations and fantastic claims:
  1. He attacked my character and disparaged my sincere intentions to reveal the theological errors present within the divine healing article by Kong Hee.
  2. He accused me of not being grounded in the Word of God. He has also stated in his own words, “You are merely selective in taking passages out of context and ignored reality... You are the one who lacks knowledge.” However, he has not cited any examples to back up his accusations.
  3. He has quoted Bible verses out of context, which I have addressed and refuted in my responses.
  4. He cursed me i.e. “Cursed be your self-righteousness!”
  5. His remarks were extremely impolite i.e. “Young man… Stop practising armchair Christianity…”
  6. He claimed to possess first-hand accounts and witnesses of divine healing. But when probed further, he was unable or unwilling to provide further details and proofs. Instead, he dodged my question and accused me of denying divine healing.
  7. He refused to give himself an alias to make our discussion less awkward.
  8. He flattered himself by saying “So, you cannot stand to my scrutiny already?” despite me taking pains in addressing his accusations.
  9. He has not, at any time, address the points that I have brought up in the parent article on divine healing.
Through this unpleasant encounter with AV, I do feel a certain empathy with James R. White, in his recent email exchange with Ergun Caner. Now I confess I am far from being as gifted as White in his exegetical Biblical arguments, but I do get an inkling of the frustration he felt when his opponent is unable or incapable of seeing reason and debating rationally.

While White has invited Caner to a public debate, I have invited AV to present his supporting evidence in detail, which he has refused to do so. Instead, he has resorted to challenging me to go to word-faith churches, as if that would address the main issue of concern – the absence of medical evidence for divine healing. And by the way, I have attended more than my fair share of “healing” rallies when I was in the charismatic movement.

I would like to reiterate once again that I believe in the sovereignty of God in healing. However, like any discerning Christian (or any theistic-minded and rational person for that matter), I do not simply accept any claims of divine healing without clear medical proofs or believe in anybody who waves the Bible around, purporting to be a healer.

Strong claims of miraculous healings require factual backing. Even Jesus, after healing the lepers in Matthew 8:1-4 and Luke 17:11-19, asked them to show themselves to the priest, to prove that they were actually healed. Therefore, I do not think I am being unreasonable in demanding medical proofs for verification. Attacking my faith is also irrelevant since my faith is in Christ, not in some alleged healing miracles or faith healers.

Anyone can easily invoke the name of God to lend a semblance of authority to his “ministry.” Like this guy “John of God” for example, who claimed to be possessed by the spirits of deceased doctors. Or the alleged healings at Lourdes that supposedly cured blindness, cancer, paralysis and tuberculosis. Or even Haitian voodoo healing, which mixed Roman Catholicism with African primitive religions. Would their gods be real then, since there are many claims of miraculous healings?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Megachurches 'shallow in theology'

Do not just simply take my word for it, but hear it from the head of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the following news report published today.
Megachurches 'shallow in theology'
From correspondents in Porto Alegre, Brazil
22 February, 2006

THE head of the World Council of Churches has expressed concern about the spread of megachurches around the world, such as Hillsong in Sydney, saying they could lead to a Christianity that is "two miles long and one inch deep".

The WCC General Secretary Samuel Kobia said megachurches - huge Protestant churches with charismatic pastors, lively music and other services - mostly ran on a business model to make worshippers feel good and were shallow in their theology.

Megachurches, which pack in thousands for rousing Sunday worship services, are popular in suburbs in the United States. Most are evangelical or Pentecostal, with few or no ties to mainline churches such as the Lutherans or Episcopalians.

Mr Kobia said the megachurch movement, which is not represented in the mostly mainline Protestant or Orthodox World Council of Churches, broke down borders among denominations with a populist message.

"It has no depth, in most cases, theologically speaking, and has no appeal for any commitment," the Kenyan Methodist said at the WCC world assembly in this Brazilian city.

The megachurches simply wanted individuals to feel good about themselves, he said.

"It's a church being organised on corporate logic. That can be quite dangerous if we are not very careful, because this may become a Christianity which I describe as 'two miles long and one inch deep'."

Reverend Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of the 400 million member World Evangelical Alliance, said at the assembly that "historical and deeply-felt issues" separated them from other branches of Christianity.

The largest US megachurches attract some 20,000 worshippers every Sunday. Abroad, megachurches have also sprouted up in Australia, South Korea, Britain, Canada, and other countries.

According to a report by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, there were 1210 US churches drawing more than 2000 worshipers, the official minimum for a megachurch. That was double the number in 2000.

The WCC groups nearly 350 Protestant and Orthodox churches that mostly broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the Great Schism of 1054 or in the 16th century Reformation.

Megachurches 'shallow in theology', NEWS.com.au
This obvious observation might explain the survey conducted last year that reveals the majority of American Christian teens are theologically shallow, which I suspect holds true for Christians in many countries as well.
Study: Christian Teens Theologically Shallow
By AFA Journal
April 28, 2005

(AgapePress) - Results from a recent survey conducted by a North Carolina researcher reveal that the majority of America's youth believe in God, yet there is a shallowness in their religious knowledge, and they have difficulty expressing their faith.

Christian Smith, a sociologist at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led 133 researchers and consultants in conducting a project that involved telephone surveys of 3,370 English- and Spanish-speaking Americans and face-to-face interviews with 267 of the participants -- all ages 13 to 17. Protracted funding will allow the researchers to track these young people through 2007.

Thus far, telephone surveys reveal that young people have a broad fondness for religion, although their religious knowledge is labeled as "meager, nebulous and often fallacious" as found through the personal interview portion of the study.

In other words, teens were unable to coherently express their beliefs and the impact of faith on their lives. In addition, many participants appeared so separated from the traditions of their faith that they viewed God as a feel-good problem solver who merely existed for that purpose. There were no indications of an absolute, truth-based theology among the teens.

"God is something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist who is available when needed," Smith wrote in his new book titled Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, co-authored with Melinda Lundquist Denton.

Smith credits parental tendencies of Baby Boomers, poor educational and youth programs, and responsibilities and activities that vie for teenagers' time as reasons for their skewed view of the Almighty.

Study: Christian Teens Theologically Shallow, American Family Association
You could probably deny the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, and they would barely raise their eyebrows. But once you criticize the deviant teachings of their favorite pastors, you are denounced as "blaspheming against the Holy Spirit" as if their pastors are God Himself. Talk about a cult-like mentality.

This current state of affairs is nothing worth gloating over, but something that I find rather appalling. I think part of the blame lies in the post-modernism mindset, where methodology usurps the rightful place of theology. Thus, the gospel is watered-down in order to be seeker-sensitive.

Who cares if the evangelistic methods aren’t theologically sound, so long as they are able to woo people to church? As long as I feel “good” and the teachings meet MY needs, why bother? Don’t preach to me the “heavy” stuff as my mind cannot take the strain. Hurry up and give me the fast-food equivalent of Bible study.

Did you say Christianity is a religion? No no no… Christianity is a RELATIONSHIP. God is LOVE, therefore everything we do in love must be right, RIGHT? The God of the Old Testament is not the same as God of the New Testament. My pastor says this … my pastor says that ... Everything my pastor says MUST be true. How DARE you cast doubts on my pastor's teachings? My church is much MUCH bigger than your church, so it means that my pastor is right. You are just jealous of my BIG BIG church.

Maybe it's just me. But if I am increasingly getting this kind of reaction from many postmodern Christians who cannot even articulate the gospel as shown in the above AFA Journal article, then perhaps we may have to seriously consider readjusting our view of missions and evangelism.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Report: Christians websites are attracting many from the Muslim world

Let us praise God and rejoice that the gospel of Jesus Christ is steadily making inroads among the Muslims.
Christians websites are attracting many from the Muslim world

February 16, 2006

While hard-line Muslim nations make accessing Christians websites difficult, it's not impossible and these websites are making an incredible impact for the kingdom.

Strategic Resource Group (SRG) helps organizations reach out to the lost inside the 10/40 Window. SRG reports Christian websites are receiving nearly 9 million hits per month from the Middle East. One Christian organization hosting chat rooms for Arabic-speaking web users estimates that more than 42,000 people visit those sites daily.

About 2,000 Arabic language Bibles are downloaded from the Internet each month. One organization estimates that 20 people per month are giving their hearts to Christ as a result of learning about the Christian faith on these websites.

Although some Islamic governments try to block these websites, the Internet generally knows no borders. More than half of the population in the Middle East is 25 years old or younger, and many of these young people own computers or have access to them. This technology has connected people together through e-mail groups, networks, blogs and chat rooms.

Christian organizations are seizing the Internet opportunity to create communities of people who can openly talk about faith issues in a safe environment. In the greater Middle East, the Internet represents a crucial growth sector for communicating the Christian message in Arabic, Farsi and regional languages.

http://www.mnnonline.org/article/8313, Mission Network News

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sprinkling vs Immersion: A Baptism Joke

(I saw this joke at The Puritanboard forum )

Two long time friends were walking in the cool of the morning discussing the mode of baptism. Both had graduated seminary at the same time, moved to the same town, and each started their ministries there: One a baptist - the other a presbyterian (Go figure...)

Let's listen in to their conversation:

Presbyterian: So let me get this straight...you believe a person isn't baptized unless they have been fully immersed in water - is that correct?

Baptist: Correct. We believe in full immersion - not pouring or sprinkling.

Presbyterian: So if you walked a person into a stream up to their ankles that wouldn't consist in an actual baptism?

Baptist: No sir, no baptism.

Presbyterian: What if you got them wet up past their knees?

Baptist: Still not good enough.

Presbyterian: What about if they waded in to their waist? Would you pronounce them baptized?

Baptist: No, no, no...what about immersion do you not understand?

Presbyterian: Please forgive me, I am slow sometimes...I really do want to understand you and I thank you for your patience. Just a couple of more questions and I'll move onto other edifying topics. What if they were immersed up to their chest?

Baptist: No.

Presbyterian: Neck?

Baptist: No.

Presbyterian: What if they walked all the way in, held their breath, and were up to their eyeballs in water?

Baptist: No, they have to be immersed.

Presbyterian: I think I understand now...You and I agree after all! Wait until the next Presbytery meeting!

Baptist: Wha...What do you mean? Did I convince you that immersion is the only way for baptism to be properly administered?

Presbyterian: On the contrary - you gave me great evidence against it!

Baptist: I did?!?

Presbyterian: You sure did. You convinced me that getting your feet wet doesn't make one baptized. You convinced me that getting wet up to your knees or waist doesn't make one baptized. You convinced me that being up to your chest or neck in water doesn't make one baptized. You even convinced me that being up to your eyeballs in water doesn't cut it.

Baptist: So?!?

Presbyterian: So what that tells me is that both of us deem water being administered to the head as sufficient to consider one baptized.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Response to Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) regarding the Word-Faith Movement

This is in response to Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) who has posted comments in my article Refutation of City Harvest's "Divine Healing" Article (Part 2).

Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
I think you represent the submarine aspect of the church that Pst [Kong Hee] was talking about which is so deep into theology (they can't wake up), theology that even God dosen't know about & once in a while would emerge with their binoculars to view the world as evil & condemns them to hell!
Perhaps you care to clearly define the “theology that even God doesn’t know about?” If what you say is accurate, that Kong Hee vilifies Bible-believing Christians, then I do have an additional concern about the extra-biblical teachings that are being taught in City Harvest.

To be “deep in theology” is to revere the Word of God. I do not see how any practicing Christian could despise the Scriptures when it is plain that the Word of God is meant to guide our lives.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
On Charismatics and the Word-Faith Movement
Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
Btw, most Pentecostal & Charismatic churches believe in Divine Healing regardless of which denomination they may come from, be they A/G, Church of S'pore or the Foursquare Gospel & not only limited to the Word-Faith Movement & I distinctively remembered your 'headline' being in this article refuting our Divine Healing Article published. So you are not only going against our Church but also the millions of Pentecostals/Charismatics worldwide who share the same tenents of precious like-faith.
Actually, I would say we do believe in the sovereignty of God; that God is able to heal wherever and whenever He pleases. Because God cannot contradict Himself, divine healing must be conformed to the biblical pattern found in the Word of God.

The teachings found in the word-faith movement with respect to health and wealth is regarded as aberrant by many Charismatics and Pentecostals. Many Charismatics and Pentecostals believe in divine healing, but not according to the way the word-faith camp defines it. Having been involved in the charismatic movement for 15 years, I should know. I do have friends in charismatic circles, and many of them too do not believe in the deviant teachings found in the word-faith movement.

The Watchman Fellowship, which describes itself as a ministry of Christian discernment, has this to say about those in the word-faith camp:
They typically shift the issue, claiming that those who are opposing them are anti-charismatic (cessationists, believing that the miraculous gifts have ceased). This misinformation or red herring is designed to lead their followers to automatically dismiss anything word-faith critics say.

To set the record straight, the staff of Watchman Fellowship is multi-denominational, as are most of the critics of the word-faith movement. Watchman's staff is comprised of Baptists, Presbyterians, Assemblies of God members, etc. Our staff knows that God does heal and does the miraculous.

Most of Watchman's staff believe in the continuance of the miraculous gifts for today. Biblically, all Christians are charismatics in that all Christians possess spiritual gifts.
Well-known charismatic David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church wrote,
I am meeting Christians throughout our nation whose faith is shipwrecked because they are disillusioned and hurt. They came upon a "faith" teaching that made them believe that getting every desire of the heart depended simply on getting their formulas correct. They were challenged to launch out in God for prosperity, perfect health, and whatever else their minds could conceive. "Conceive, then believe," they were told. They were urged to blot out of their thinking all thoughts of suffering, pain, poverty - or anything negative. They were carried along by the testimonies of those around them who were getting new cars, homes, jobs, fur coats, diamond rings - whatever their hearts desired - all through positive faith.
George Wood, the General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, observes that there are three basic faulty assumptions controlling the "positive confession" theology.

First, that God wills perfect health, total healing, and complete prosperity for every believer. Second, that God has obligated Himself to heal every sickness and to financially prosper those who have faith. Third, any failure is not the fault of God, but is caused by a lack of faith or sin in the individual's life.

Wood commented in Mountain Movers, July 1988,
[These teachers] have missed the Bible in three ways: They twist particular verses out of their plain meaning; they refuse to deal with Scriptures which plainly have different meanings than those of the `positive confession;' and they fail to let the Bible speak for itself.
John Piper, a staunch “seven point Calvinist,” who wrote “after 20 years of Bible study and friendships with charismatic believers I will say with even more assurance: Let us not reject or despise any of God's gifts, including tongues” has this to say about the word-faith movement:
God can and does heal the sick now in answer to our prayers. But not always. The miracle mongers of our day who guarantee that Jesus wants you well now and heap guilt after guilt on the back of God's people asserting that the only thing between them and health is unbelief have failed to understand the nature of God's purposes in this fallen age. They have minimized the depth of sin and the cruciality of God's purifying chastening and the value of faith through suffering and they are guilty of trying to force into this age what God has reserved for the next.
On “Winning” the World to Christ
Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
…its just that we feel we have a whole world to win over to Christ (as preached over the weekend) & not just sit down & engage in a never-ending shallow 'fight' & splitting theological hairs with you which would not edify us @ all…
What does it mean by “a world to win over to Christ?” If you are referring to the Great Commission, we are specifically told to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The phrase “make disciples” is matheteuo in Greek. It means “to become a pupil; transitively, to disciple, i.e. enrol as scholar:--be disciple, instruct, teach.”

We are to teach the truth. It is written, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). How do we know the truth then? By studying the Word of God. It is written,
And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:15
We are to be disciples by studying the Word of God. We are “to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses can claim that they are trying to “win” the world over to Christ. But are their gospels the same as the true biblical gospel found in the Word of God? Most absolutely not.

Plainly speaking, by engaging in this discussion with you, I am fulfilling the Great Commission, which calls us to make disciples – disciples who are expected to be grounded in the Word of God.

On Theology and the Word of God
Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) wrote,
…held captive by theology & a set of methodology to play the Holy Spirit in your life!
If the phrase “held captive by theology & a set of methodology” means I am held captive by the Word of God, then I am proud to be numbered among Christians, which includes the apostles, the Reformers and all the Christians who were and are willing to give up their lives for the sake of the Word of God.

Martin Luther once said,
Unless I am thus convinced, I am bound by the texts of the Bible, my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I neither can nor will recant anything, since it is neither right nor safe to act against conscience. God help me. Amen.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” according to Romans 10:17. If the word-faith teachings are at odds with the Word of God, then how can the message preached by the word-faith adherents be true then? Wouldn’t the word-faith movement be guilty of preaching a false gospel and a false Christ?

Do read the book of Galatians. The Galatians certainly do believe in Jesus Christ. However, it is plain to see that the “minor” theological doctrine the Apostle Paul was “splitting theological hairs” over with them was of utmost importance to the gospel.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! – Galatians 1:6-9
Thus, theology is important. Soteriology shapes evangelistic methodology. A sound doctrine of salvation would produce a sound practice of evangelism. If you do not understand the Word of God, then how can you preach the gospel correctly, much less attempt to “win the world to Christ?”

Theology and the Christian faith cannot exist apart. By saying “I believe in the Holy Trinity” is adopting a theology. “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” is also a theology. It is absurd to act as though theology is a burden to the Christian faith. The study of theology is an act of worship. We study theology so that we are able to discern false teachings. For it is written:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. – 2 Peter 2:1
How does one recognize “destructive heresies?” By engaging in the theological study of the Word of God. True disciples of Jesus Christ test all teachings by going back to the Word of God.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why do we share the good news about Jesus with all peoples, including Muslims?

FRONTIERS shares with us the following reasons:
  1. We are followers of Jesus, called Isa al-Masih by Muslims. This means that He holds supreme importance for us. We seek to center our lives on Jesus and the good news about Him.
  2. What is this good news? We have experienced peace with God, the forgiveness of our sins, and the hope of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  3. It is our delight to share this good news with others. It is also our duty to share the good news with all the peoples of the world, because Jesus instructed us to do so.
  4. Therefore, we seek to live in the world as peacemakers, inviting men and women everywhere to be reconciled to God and to one another.
  5. We, who come from many cultures, countries and backgrounds, offer this message of peace to all people in love, with respect and cultural sensitivity, without coercion or material inducement.
  6. We believe that only God can convert people. Christianity and Islam agree on this point. For many, the titles “Muslim” and “Christian” define an external, cultural identity. Instead of focusing on external labels, we invite all people, including Muslims, to an inward change through Jesus.
  7. We rejoice that when the gospel brings inward change to believers who embrace it, they then bring positive transformation to the communities where they live.
  8. As followers of Jesus, we are motivated to do good deeds. In this way we imitate Jesus, honor God, and seek to heal a hurting world.
  9. For us, all of life is devoted to Jesus. Therefore, wherever we live and whatever our occupation, our work is witness and we witness at work.
  10. Jesus and the good news about him are so precious to us that we are willing to sacrifice and suffer in order to give people an opportunity to know the good news about him.
And here are ten reasons why we love Muslims by FRONTIERS.
  1. God loves Muslims!
    Muslims are loved by God in the same way that He loves all people. Like all humans, Muslims are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Like all humans, Muslims sin and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). Like all humans, God loved them so much that He sent His son, so that those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16).

  2. God calls Muslims to Himself!
    God designed all of us to seek after Him. That includes Muslims. "From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth", . . . God did this so men would seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:24-31, espec. 26,30)." Like you and I, God has placed "eternity in their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11)."

  3. Muslims are our neighbors.
    Whether in America or in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peace-loving, hospitable people.

  4. Muslims are people, too!
    Most Muslims are concerned about the same things as you and I. They want to raise their children well, they are concerned about rising crime and pornography, and work hard to pay their bills and survive. Like us, most Muslims decry human suffering and violence between peoples. Many Muslims yearn for peace, friendship, and a happy life. We share the same concerns and needs.

  5. God is at work among Muslims!
    Many Muslims are sensitive to God and spiritual things. Because they fear God and are aware of spiritual reality, Muslims often speak of how God appeared to them through dreams and visions, just like He did to the God-fearer Cornelius (Acts 10:1-8). Stories abound of healings because of God's power through Jesus. An increasing number of Muslims are hungry to know about God's dramatic work through Jesus.

  6. Because we are spiritually related.
    Many Muslims look to 'Ibrahim (Abraham) as "our forefather (Romans 4:1)." Since those who follow Jesus call Abraham "the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11)," that makes us 'cousins' ! Like us, Muslims believe in one true God, the Creator of all peoples.

  7. Because they value our Holy Book and Jesus.
    The Qu'ran specifically commends the Torat (books of the Law, the first five books of the Bible); the Zibur (the Psalms, or wisdom literature); and the injil (the Gospels). Jesus was sent by God to earth; Jesus healed many during his ministry; and he is returning to judge the living and the dead.

  8. Because they have something to teach us.
    Muslims take the spiritual world very seriously and generally are more open to discuss spiritual issues. They have a very high respect for God and His power. Muslims place a high value on community and loyalty. Hospitality is very important to them. These are qualities that most westerners appreciate in their Muslim friends.

  9. God made promises to their ancestors.
    Many Muslims look to 'Ibrahim (Abraham) as their ancestor through his first son, Ishmael. God made this promise to Ibrahim: "As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and I will make him fruitful, and I will multiply him. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation (Genesis 17:20)." God fulfilled this promise, for there are over one billion Muslims in the world today!

  10. Because God promised that Muslims who follow Jesus will be part of the multitudes who are gathered about the Throne of God.
    When God gathers all His people at the end of time, there will be representatives from every people group on the earth, "from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing before the Throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, . . . crying out in a loud voice, 'Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, . . .(Revelation 7:9,10)!"
FRONTIERS' passion is to glorify God by planting churches that lead to movements among all Muslim peoples through apostolic teams in partnership with others who share this vision.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

John Piper on the Muslim Outrage Over Cartoons of Mohammed

Justin Taylor have received a personal email from John Piper who gave the following comment:
"Am I missing it, or is there an unusual silence in the blogosphere about the Muslim outrage over the cartoons of Mohammed. To me this cries out for the observation that when artists put the crucifix in a flask of urine, Christians were grieved and angered, but not one threatened to kill anyone. Our longing is to convert the blasphemers with the Good News of Christ's death and resurrection, not kill them. Our faith is based on One who was reviled not just in cartoons but in reality and received it patiently for the salvation of the cartoonists. These riots are filled with intimations about the glorious difference between Christ and Mohammed, and between the way of Christ and the way of Islam. And the cowing of the press around the world and the US government is ominous for the fear we are under of Islam--not just extremist Islam. I do not respect the teachings of Islam which when followed devoutly lead to destruction. So I have been pondering which will take me out first, Islam, Uncle Sam, or cancer. No matter, all authority belongs to Jesus. I just want to bear faithful witness to his glorious gospel of peace to the end."
Let us rejoice that Jesus Christ taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love our enemies. When Christianity is mocked by others, do not return hate for hate, but rather like what Piper wrote, "convert the blasphemers with the Good News of Christ's death and resurrection."

John Piper has also written an article titled "Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, Not Muhammad’s."
That’s the most basic difference between Christ and Muhammad and between a Muslim and a follower of Christ. For Christ, enduring the mockery of the cross was the essence of his mission. And for a true follower of Christ enduring suffering patiently for the glory of Christ is the essence of obedience. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). During his life on earth Jesus was called a bastard (John 8:41), a drunkard (Matthew 11:19), a blasphemer (Matthew 26:65), a devil (Matthew 10:25); and he promised his followers the same: “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Matthew 10:25).

The caricature and mockery of Christ has continued to this day. Martin Scorsese portrayed Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ as wracked with doubt and beset with sexual lust. Andres Serrano was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts to portray Jesus on a cross sunk in a bottle of urine. The Da Vinci Code portrays Jesus as a mere mortal who married and fathered children.

How should his followers respond? On the one hand, we are grieved and angered. On the other hand, we identify with Christ, and embrace his suffering, and rejoice in our afflictions, and say with the apostle Paul that vengeance belongs to the Lord, let us love our enemies and win them with the gospel. If Christ did his work by being insulted, we must do ours likewise.
A religion with no insulted Savior will not endure insults to win the scoffers.
John Piper is currently scheduled on February 14 to undergo surgery for his treatment of prostate cancer.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

C. H. Spurgeon on Calvinism (3)

What the Arminian wants to do is to arouse man's activity: what we want to do is to kill it once for all---to show him that he is lost and ruined, and that his activities are not now at all equal to the work of conversion; that he must look upward. They seek to make the man stand up: we seek to bring him down, and make him feel that there he lies in the hand of God, and that his business is to submit himself to God, and cry aloud, 'Lord, save, or we perish.' We hold that man is never so near grace as when he begins to feel he can do nothing at all. When he says, "I can pray, I can believe, I can do this, and I can do the other," marks of self-sufficiency and arrogance are on his brow.
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)