As I read the Christian Post article Obama Points to Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes as Models for Faith-Driven Action I began thinking about how much the church and its focus has changed since the time I accepted Christ. Barack Obama sees segments of the church as aligning with him and his views of faith:
From Willow Creek to the ‘emerging church,’ from the Southern Baptist Convention to the National Association of Evangelicals, folks are realizing that the four walls of the church are too small for a big God. ‘God is still speaking’
He mentioned his friends, Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes. Warren to my knowledge embraces the doctrine of the Trinity and is opposed to Word Faith theology. Jakes is a Oneness Pentecostal (a Foruth Century heresy) and Word Faith teacher. What they both seem to share in common with Barack is placing essential doctrine aside in order to satisfy “man’s need.” The article also outlines the denominational views of Obama’s church: Continue reading …
Hate speech. It’s a term that has become the new political currency of injustice. It was recently the subject of the 9th circuit court of appeals in Good News Association v. Hicks. The court upheld the lower court ruling that Good News Association engaged in what amounted to “hate speech” when it posted a flier that read in its entirety:
Preserve Our Workplace with Integrity
Good News Employee Associations is a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family values. If you would like to be a part of preserving integrity in the Workplace call Regina Rederford @xxx- xxxx or Robin Christy @xxx-xxxx
Joyce Hicks, Director of Communication and Economic Development for the city of Oakland California, ordered Christy and Rederford, who worked for the city, to remove the “homophobic”flier or face termination for harassment. The trouble is that Oakland didn’t require the rest of the employees to keep their partisan political and religious speech to themselves. According to the Pro-Family Law Center :
“The court” completely failed to address the concerns of the appellants with respect to the fact that the City of Oakland’s Gay-Straight Employees Alliance was openly allowed to attack the Bible in widespread city e-mails, to deride Christian values as antiquated, and to refer to Bible-believing Christians as hateful. When the plaintiffs attempted to refute this blatant attack on people of faith, they were threatened with immediate termination by the City of Oakland. The Ninth Circuit did not feel that the threat of immediate termination had any effect on free speech.”
First, let me say that I am not qualified to dissect the court’s legal reasoning. Given that the 9th circuit is the most over turned appellate court in the land, however leads me to think the court’s legal reasoning often leaves much to be desired. But there is a bigger question. Why did the City of Oakland allow The Employees Gay-Straight alliance to call Christians hateful and the Bible antiquated but characterized the Christian response as hate speech? Why did the lower court called the free speech interests of the Good News Assoc., “vanishingly small”? High courts usually don’t sound so nonchalant about the first amendment. In other words, why the blatant double standard without any justification whatsoever?
I want to suggest there is a subtle, unarticulated, understanding of justice that may explain why the City of Oakland didn’t see their policy as an egregious double standard. And in a phrase it goes something like this, “Because of the status and history of Christianity, Christians cannot be the target of hate speech ever.” You won’t read it in the Oakland City employee manual but in popular advocacy of hate speech laws there are three criteria for hate speech:
1) The speech in question must be “face to face” in the sense that it demeans some group or individual not merely to an idea.
2) The speech in question must demean others in regard to race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.
3) The speech in question must be aimed at an individual or a group that has a history of oppression or discrimination.
While I think the flier in question fails the 1st criteria (it doesn’t refute or address any group or individual, let alone homosexuals), it’s this last provision, which makes all the difference. According to many advocates of hate speech legislation, historically dominant groups like Christianity may be offended by statements that the Bible needs to be updated or the fiery statements of gay activists, but what Christians cannot be, is targets of hate speech. Christians are not the historically oppressed but rather the oppressors. Also, according to some hate speech opponents, Christians cannot feel the alienation of oppressed groups because of their majority status. Christians, like whites cannot be the victims of hate speech because they form the predominant social group and can retreat to the safe harbor of dominant social culture that minorities do not have.
Though it is not usually put this way, there is implicit conception of justice as balancing the scales. Contra the historic liberal doctrine that government must be neutral about the good life, the new left argues that the demands of justice may require promoting or subsidizing those who have been victims of oppression at the expense of the right to free speech.
Since Christianity is seen as the dominant oppressor, oppressed groups ought to be given leeway to express their discontent even if it violates the oppressor’s so called right to free speech. In other words justice may require a double standard to balance the scales. There are several problems with this argument. For starters, it seems to downplay or ignore Liberalism’s historic sense that freedom of speech is a cherished right. Remember when the left were among the most ardent defenders of free speech? Now they are its most ardent critics.
Second, I seem to remember a Roman persecution that involved lions and coliseums, so Christianity has been historically oppressed. Furthermore that oppression isn’t just in the distant past. Christians in China and in many predominantly Islamic countries are not just oppressed but persecuted physically for talking about their faith. This means that the “historically oppressed” criterion is fluid and must mean something like “oppressed in the recent past” or “traditionally oppressed groups” within America. This starts to sound like the criterion is “Whoever the left considers oppressed, are oppressed.” I have never gotten much sympathy from my leftist friends when I point out that many Christians, notably creationists, endure vitriol the likes of which if published about Muslims, Gays, or even Vegetarians would make Al Sharpton blush.
Third, these criteria would overturn what the new left calls “The Civil Libertarian story” of free speech and that interest is not “vanishingly small.” Freedom to express or persuade others has historically been seen as a right that needs compelling interest to be restrained. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black was famous for arguing that when the first amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech: “No law, means no law.” This “historically oppressed” criterion is dangerously vague. What indicates historical oppression? At what point is a group no longer oppressed but on equal footing or even dominant? Can oppression by indexed to culture? If so, in Oakland, which group is more maligned gays or Christians? The point is, if we give oppressed groups a pass on their speech as a way of balancing the scales, at what point do the scales balance and how do we know? Since this argument treads on over 200 years of Constitution interpretation, the least advocates could provide is some precision if we are going to fire people, sue them, or put them in jail.
Lastly, there is something shall we say, “less than virtuous” about correcting oppression by becoming oppressors in the name of balancing the scales. It smacks of intolerance and the ends justifying the means. In other words, it looks a lot like revenge. Hardly a liberal virtue.
What are the signs of an advancing culture? Is it developing an alphabet and written language? Is it farming and improved technologies for higher quality and more productive farming? It is industrialization? It may be that each of these or all of these combined demonstrate advancements in cultures. One of the things that never occurred to Joy and I as a sign of advancement was the practice of human sacrifice! That is until I read Study Points to Human Sacrifice in Europe this week. The article is discussing strong evidence of human sacrifice in a period they date between 26,000 and 8,000 B.C. or what is called the Upper Paleolithic. The writer, Heather Whipps, states:
Human sacrifices have never been apparent in the archaeological record of Upper Paleolithic Europe, though they pop up much later among more complex ancient societies, such as the Egyptians. The Maya and the Aztec would also cut out hearts or toss victims from the tops of temples, historians say.
The new findings could mean the hunter-gatherers were more advanced than once thought.
Let’s think about this for a few moments.
What sort of human beings were being sacrificed? Well, it seems that a good portion of them were defenseless children and/or handicapped individuals, people with physical challenges or deformities. Some were pre-teens, one of the allegedly sacrificed individuals had congenital dysplasia . Another adolescent was a dwarf. The common theme here is that these sacrifices involved children. Why were they sacrificed? The writer doesn’t really know, and incidentally, does not seem bothered overmuch by the findings. There was no horror reflected in the foregoing remarks. However, what is asserted is that the presence of human sacrifice indicates a more advanced society than the simple hunter/gatherer type society that was previously envisioned. As the author notes:
The new findings could mean the hunter-gatherers were more advanced than once thought.
Even putting these two ideas, “advanced civilization” and “child sacrifice” together is rather breathtaking in its callousness, is it not? We would not call a society that practiced human sacrifice “advanced.” We would call it barbaric.
If however, child sacrifice does indicate an advanced civilization, then certainly western culture, in the last few centuries since the Christian worldview has been on the wane, has really “advanced” quickly – and is advancing ever more rapidly today as godlessness holds increasing sway over our culture. Let’s take a quick look back and track our “advancement.”
American Feminist leader, Victoria Woodhull, who in 1872 became the first woman to be nominated for president by a political party, stated,
Thus society, while expending millions in the care of incurables and imbeciles, takes little heed of or utterly ignores those laws by the study and obedience of which such human abortions might have been prevented from cumbering society with their useless and unwelcome presence. Grecian and Roman civilizations were, it is true, deficient in the gentler virtues, the excess of which in our day is hindering the progress of the race rather than helping or ennobling it. They, by crushing out the diseased and imperfect plants in the garden of humanity, attained to a vigor and physical development, which has never been equated since. And in so doing they were entirely in accord with nature, whose mandate is inexorable, that the “fittest” only shall be permitted to live and propagate. She is a very prodigal in her waste of individual life, in order that the species be without spot of blemish.
Not so our modern civilization, which rather pets its abortions and weaklings, and complacently permits them to procreate another race of fools and pigmies as inane and useless as themselves.
Then of course there is Margaret Sanger, who is greatly honored today as the founder of Planned Parenthood. She pushed the idea of advancing society through Eugenics even further than past adherents had. As a devout humanist and evolutionist, she advocated the elimination of “inferior” human beings, such as the poor and minorities. Their problems, in her view, weighed down society and held back the superior human stock – the wealthier and supposedly more highly evolved white race.
She bluntly defined “birth control,” a term she coined, as “the process of weeding out the unfit” aimed at “the creation of superman.” She often opined that “the most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,” and that “all our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class.”
Sanger frequently featured racists and eugenicists in her magazine, the Birth Control Review. Contributor Lothrop Stoddard, who also served on Sanger’s board of directors, wrote in “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy” that “[w]e, must resolutely oppose both Asiatic permeation of white race-areas and Asiatic inundation of those non-white, but equally Asiatic regions inhabited by really inferior races.
Very inconveniently, Eugenics and the search for an evolved “superman” or super race took a hit with the advent of WW2, when one of its premiere adherents, gifted spokesman and “activist” Adolf Hitler, brought these lofty ideals into a bit of disrepute by actually applying them to a modern society, sacrificing millions of “unfit racial inferiors” in the process and plunging the whole world into a bloodbath. These events stalled the “advancement” for a time, but the evil movement never died; it just went underground until it was deemed safe to be dusted off and foisted upon us again, wrapped in the pretty paper language of “human rights.”
As Hitler’s atrocities were forgotten and the Judeo-Christian Worldview gave up ever more ground, the emboldened beast of human sacrifice awoke and abortion on demand was legalized in 1973. Euthanasia and infanticide are not all that far in the future, it seems to us. After all, now that we have grown used to sacrificing the defenseless young, why not move on to the defenseless aged? Grandma, get your gun! As we advance to infanticide, which is in fact already going on behind the scenes, we will leapfrog over the pitiful Mayans, Aztecs and Upper Paleolithic Europeans and become a super advanced culture.
When I returned from the ISCA Conference and checked my email on Monday the one from Brooks Alexander with the Spiritual Counterfeits Project caught my immediate attention:
At one time, CT was referred to as “Christianity Yesterday”. Stung by that appellation, they tried so hard to become trendy that they turned themselves into something that isn’t “Christianity Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow”, but rather “Christianity From Some Other Dimension That I Don’t Even Recognize!”
What in the world precipitated this description of C.T.? Brooks is a good researcher and not often given to overstatement. He, like myself and a number of apologists around the country, subscribes to AR-Talk which is a resource that we use to keep one another posted on current issues. Brooks was responding to the recent article Mitt’s Mormonism and the ‘Evangelical Vote’ in Christianity Today which had been brought to the attention of AR-Talk by our friend, Keith Walker of Evidence Ministries . The article is written by Robert Millet, professor of ancient Christian Scriptures at Mormon owned Brigham Young University, and Gerald McDermott, professor of religion at Roanoke College. Millet is a Mormon in good standing. In the article Millett and McDermott state:
Besides, Mormon beliefs are not as un-evangelical as most evangelicals think.
As I mentioned in Is Holding Rick Warren Accountable Uncivilized and Rude? MCOI and C.T. have enjoyed a good working relationship over the years and I know that many there are very fine believers on staff. Realizing that some have concerns about C.T.’s orthodoxy, C.T. recently began stating the assurance that Christianity Today Magazine is A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction. This assurance raises the bar of importance on Millet and McDermott’s article and claims a bit further. What were they trying to accomplish and were they successful?
Is the purpose of C.T.’s article to point out that non-Christians have held the office of president in the past and voting for a candidate who is Mormon is no different? Perhaps and if that is the case it is a worthwhile discussion. As I pointed out in Romney – A god for president? this is an issue that many are already discussing within evangelical circles and secular media. However, if that was the purpose it doesn’t appear to have been well served by Millett and McDermott who seemed to split the article about half and half between the question of voting for a Mormon and seemingly trying to assure Evangelicals that any differences between Mormons and Evangelicals are in perhaps important but secondary issues of the faith. This is where this article became a problem.
Millet and McDermott write:
Evangelicals accuse Mormons of adding new revelation (the Book of Mormon) to the Bible.
Is it simply accusation or have Mormons added the Book of Mormon as well as the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants to the canon of Scripture? Or is it C.T.s view that it wasn’t added but should have always been there? We are not told.
Millet and McDermott further state:
They think Mormons teach that humans are saved by good works rather than by Jesus Christ, and that humans are of the same species as Jesus and can someday attain his status.
The devil is in the details on these issues for Mormons have become very adept at redefining and distracting. A Mormon today would say that they are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But what do they mean by saved? In Mormon parlance “saved” is the opportunity to be resurrected and has little if anything to do with eternal life. Receiving eternal life is something that is earned and equates to becoming god in the same sense that Jesus Christ and the Father are gods. It should also be noted that Robert Millet, one of the authors of this article , teaches Mormon missionaries how to play fast and loose with the truth when asked these questions. Why would we expect him to act any differently than he trains his students?
Millet and McDermott go on to say:
In addition, evangelicals say, Mormons reject key Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and creatio ex nihilo (God creating the world out of nothing).
Again, these things can be demonstrated from their own official teachings. This has little to do with what “evangelical say” but with what Mormonism teaches. In an effort to strengthen their case they appeal to biblical illiteracy and lack of orthodoxy amongst certain denominations:
For Latter-Day Saints, Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists agreed that Jesus was “without sin,” Mormons were among the “most likely” to say that Jesus was sinless.
There are two points to be made here. First, it is true that Mormons would affirm that Jesus is the Son of God and is also God the Son but that means very little once their definitions are understood. In their teaching we too are Sons and Daughters of God who also can be God the Son and God the Daughter. In other words, it is a different Jesus and a different gospel which they proclaim than Evangelicals worship. Second, citing a survey which demonstrates that 66% of “American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists “are heretical in their view of the sinless nature of Jesus doesn’t demonstrate that Mormons are orthodox in their fundamental doctrines.
Whether or not Mitt Romney will get the nod to run for president is yet to be determined. If he does I suspect his church affiliation will play less of a role then than it does now. On the other hand regardless of what Romney does C.T. will likely still be publishing and will probably want to be regarded as “A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.” I would submit, as a friend, that the interests of the Body of Christ and Christianity Today Magazine would have been better served to have had an article demonstrating the differences between official Mormon teachings and sound biblical teaching. With that lacking C.T. comes across as misrepresenting Mormonism. Perhaps they will do a follow up article on this right away.
As I was working on the blog and E-Letter this week one of our ministry supporters forwarded an email to me. It was written by a former Muslim, Hicham Chehab, who is now a believer and a missionary to Muslims with POBLO-Chicago (People of the Book Lutheran Outreach/POBLO-Chicago). Hicham and I have had some email and telephone discussions and he has a very powerful testimony which we are considering printing in the summer issue of the Journal. In the meantime I thought you would be encouraged by this recent encounter.
This was the title of a lecture given recently at the Community College of DuPage located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The lecture was given at a meeting organized by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on April 30.
More than 100 people attended this meeting including professors and students. The majority in attendance were Muslims along with some converts to Islam, and there was a self-imposed segregation between males and females in the seating arrangement. Two refreshment tables were also set up on different sides of the room, one for men, and one for women. The Muslim organizations wanted to make sure that the men and women would not mix.
Isra, a disciple of the late well known South African Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat, was the speaker. She is in her late thirties and wore a veil while she spoke. She lives in New York City. The object of her talk was to prove from the Bible that Jesus practiced the religion of Muhammad, who preached Islam around 600 years after Christ walked the earth.
As is so often the case with minorities in the US, the lecturer was handled with kid gloves by Christians in the audience. Everyone wanted to be sure they were “politically correct”. No one dared ask whether the lady lecturer was being anachronistic or not, especially at the start.
The lecturer asked who understood the title of the lecture, “Jesus is Muslim.” I had to say something, so I said: “First, I am glad that you used the present tense (is) of the verb “to be” in the title of your lecture. By saying “Jesus is Muslim” you are saying that you believe Jesus is alive. Secondly, since Islam means “submission to God and His will”, and seeing that Jesus submitted himself to His Father’s will and went to the cross to die for our sins, yes, in this sense you can say that Jesus was Muslim.” She ignored the point about the crucifixion and reiterated that since Jesus submitted to the will of God in many ways, he was therefore Muslim. The atmosphere became very tense and the m oderator started to look at me with great animosity and ignored my raised hand.
Then the lecturer asked the following question: “What was Jesus’ first miracle?” A Christian in the audience said that it was changing water into wine. Isra’s response was, “No. According to the Qur’an, Jesus spoke from the cradle in order to defend his mother against the accusation of adultery.” The lecturer quoted the chapter entitled “Mary” in the Qur’an:
[19.27] And she came to her people with him, carrying him [baby Jesus] (with her). They said: O Mariam! Surely you have done a strange thing.
[19.28 ] O sister of Haroun! Your father was not a bad man, nor, was your mother an unchaste woman.
[19.29] But she pointed to him. They said: How should we speak to one who was a child in the cradle?
[19.30 ] He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet;
[19.31] And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer […] so long as I live;
[19.32] And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed;
[19.33] And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life.
[19.34] Such is Isa, son of Mariam; (this is) the saying of truth about which they dispute.
The lecturer then presented five premises, or arguments, to prove that Jesus was a Muslim:
First Premise: In order to win the sympathy of the female students in the audience, she said: “Note how Jesus defends his mother in the Qur’an, while in the New Testament he rudely calls her “woman.”
Second Premise: Jesus called God his father and the father of his followers but never claimed that he was God. She quoted John 20: 17, when Mary Magdalene saw the resurrected Jesus at the tomb. Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Third Premise: Jesus fasted like Muslims do. She quoted Matthew 6: 16- 18, “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,& nbsp;so that your fasting may not be seen by others, but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The lecturer commented that Muhammad gave his followers the same commandments whenever they fast.
Fourth Premise: Jesus prayed like Muslims pray. She quoted Matthew 26: 39
” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed.” She then said, “Have you seen how Muslims pray? They prostrate themselves like Jesus did.”
Fifth Premise: The speaker then observed, “Jesus greeted his disciple like Muslims do: Peace be with you, which in Arabic is, Assalamu Alaykum, which means “The peace of Allah be upon you.” The lecturer then quoted from the John 20: 19: “ Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘ Peace be with you’!”
After the lecturer finished her presentation, she took questions, but the person who was moderating the questions avoided my raised hand again and again, until people in the audience kept saying, “This guy has been waiting forever.” After waiting “forever,” I thought that there was no point in arguing with her as long as she picked and chose from the Bible. So, I decided to ask the question which was like the proverbial “bull in a china shop.” I said, “The title of your lecture and your premises makes me want to put the thesis of your presentation in a different way. Instead of saying that “Jesus is Muslim”, why don’t you ask the question; ‘Was Muhammad Jewish?’” Then, before she had the chance to answer my question, I quickly added: “At first when Muhammad was still in Mecca and before he migrated to Medina, he prayed towards Jerusalem. Also, while in Mecca, he followed the Jewish custom and prayed twice a day. Muhammad also fasted during the celebration of Yom Kippur, and he fasted twice a week like the Pharisees.”
Then a Christian sitting next to me mentioned that the Qur’an abounds with biblical stories and narratives from the apocrypha. By this time the speaker was fit to be tied, and glared at me saying, “Mister, why don’t you gather some people together and set up a platform and give your own lecture?”
In a sense you could say she was predicting my plan, which is to start a Christian student group at the Junior College. In cooperation with five of the Christian students, I am hoping to begin a Christian student group or club called, “Muslims for the Messiah.” I have already mentioned this student club in a previous e-mail. The primary goal will be witnessing to the Muslim students on the campus. Permission from the college administration is needed to start this work on campus. PLEASE PRAY that permission will be granted and that this group will have an effective witness to the Muslims attending the college.
I wish to thank you for your prayers and encouragement in this ministry of witnessing to Muslims about the love of Jesus Christ.