Category Archives: theology

Jesus & the mosque

I read this on BW3‘s website & decided to copy it – in its entirety here – because it was that good to read. The article is written by Leighton Ford, who worked closely with Billy Graham.


Jesus and the Mosque

“On a shelf at home I have a copy of Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road, the story of the Syrian-born writer Mazhar Mallouhi. As a young man who grew up in a Muslim family he had a profound spiritual hunger, read widely, learned of Jesus in the Bible, and became a follower of Christ while remaining loyal to his Muslim culture. His novels are read by millions in the Middle East. Through them he has sought to bridge misunderstandings between Muslims and Christians.
In the book is a photo of him in the famous Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, sitting with a group of Muslims as they read the Gospels together. It is his custom to say, “I am a follower of Christ. Here is what Jesus said. Tell me honestly, do you think I am living as Jesus said I should?”

I thought of Mallouhi’s question during the heated dispute over the location of a Muslim mosque and community center near Ground Zero in New York. Among the voices being raised – some harsh with anger, some deep with indignation about “rights”- I wonder if the missing voice is that of Jesus? If I were a Muslim I might want to claim rights, but also want my leaders to consider whether another location would work and help to heal some deep hurts. But I am not a Muslim. Those issues are for the Muslim community to decide.

What I need to ask is: what does Jesus say to us who say we follow him? Suppose we, like Mallouhi, sat down with some Muslims in the new community center, and read with them some of the words of Jesus, words like “Do good to those who hate you.” That could apply to radical terrorists who want to blow us up. So how can it not apply to Muslim neighbors who are living among us?

Many years ago my late friend J. Christy Wilson was pastor of the first ever Christian church in Kabul, Afghanistan. Through the good offices of President Eisenhower permission was granted to build the church, attended by Christian expatriates. The time came when the Afghan authorities revoked permission and announced they would knock the church down. When the bulldozers arrived what did the Christ followers there do? They served tea to the workers who were destroying their church building! They were living out a central tenet of our Christian faith – that we are “saved by grace” -God’s grace freely given in Jesus Christ – and they showed grace.

How can we do that? I hope the churches and the Christ followers in New York can figure it out. Perhaps delivering a cool drink to the workers who will build the center? After all Paul went so far as to write (and this was about enemies, not neighbors) “If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.”

Does this mean we naively accept real evil? Not at all. I understand the rage that 9/11 stirred. Force is often needed to protect the innocent. But ultimately I have to follow Jesus and his follower Paul in the baffling reality of Paul’s admonition to “Overcome evil with good.” What does the love of Christ compel me to do? Perhaps whether in New York or Charlotte to extend a little more grace – actually a whole lot more. Wouldn’t that be the best witness we could make?” –Leighton Ford


NT Wright on heaven – Google Videos

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Happy Easter – beginning of the new creation…

“… While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!'” – Luke 24:4-6a

the absolute significance of the resurrection – by N.T. Wright

History matters because human beings matter; human beings matter because creation matters; creation matters because the creator matters. And the creator, according to some of the most ancient Jewish beliefs, grieved so much over creation gone wrong, over humankind in rebellion, over thorns and thistles and dust and death, that he planned from the beginning the way by which he would rescue his world, his creation, his history, from its tragic corruption and decay; the way, therefore, by which he would rescue his image-bearing creatures, the muddled and rebellious human beings, from their doubly tragic fate; the way, therefore, by which he would be most truly himself, would become most truly himself.

The story of Jesus of Nazareth offers itself, as Jesus himself had offered his public work and words, his body and blood, as the answer to this multiple problem: the arrival of God’s kingdom precisely in the world of space, time, and matter, the world of injustice and tyranny, of empire and crucifixions. This world is where the kingdom must come, on earth as it is in heaven. What view of creation, what view of justice, would be served by the offer merely of a new spirituality and a one-way ticket out of trouble, an escape from the real world?

No wonder the Herods, the Caesars and the Sadducees of this world, ancient and modern, were and are eager to rule out all possibility of actual resurrection. They are, after all, staking a counter-claim on the real world. It is the real world that the tyrants and bullies (including the intellectual tyrants and bullies) try to rule by force, only to discover that in order to do so they have to quash all rumours of resurrection, rumours that would imply that their greatest weapons, death and deconstruction, are not after all omnipotent.

But it is the real world, in Jewish thinking, that the real God made, and still grieves over. It is the real world that, in the earliest stories of Jesus’ death and resurrection, was decisively and forever reclaimed by that event, an event which demanded to be understood, not as a bizarre miracle, but as the beginning of a new creation.

Source: The Resurrection of the Son of God, p. 737

HT: Internet Monk

This American Life

could not have said it better myself:

This is from DashHouse:
“If you don’t listen to This American Life, you’re missing out. Seriously. You can subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes.
Even if you don’t listen to it, this week’s episode is worth hearing, especially if you either preach or listen to preachers. You can download the (MP3). If you’re short on time, skip to “Act Two: I’d Like to Spank the Academy.” It starts at 42:28 in the recording.
The scene is a debate held at the University of Montevallo. The debate is funny and seemingly a success, until the devil’s advocate gets up at the end to challenge what’s happened. He has a message that every preacher should hear. They apply it to politics in the podcast, but I’m convinced it equally applies to preaching.

Have a listen. It’s worth the 16 minutes. Pass the message on: care about substance.”

How Our Worldview Impacts Our Reading of Scripture

HT: Jordon Cooper

who is the greatest novelist?

From J. I. Packer, written over 20 years ago, for the book The Gospel in Dostoyevsky: Selections from His Works (Orbis, 2004) vii.

“Dostoyevsky is to me both the greatest novelist, as such, and the greatest Christian storyteller, in particular, of all time. His plots and characters pinpoint the sublimity, perversity, meanness, and misery of fallen human adulthood in an archetypal way matched only by Aeschylus and Shakespeare, while his dramatic vision of God’s amazing grace and of the agonies, Christ’s and ours, that accompany salvation, has a range and depth that only Dante and Bunyan come anywhere near. . . . [H]is constant theme is the nightmare quality of unredeemed existence and the heartbreaking glory of the incarnation, whereby all human hurts came to find their place in the living and dying of Christ the risen Redeemer. ”
HT: Kingdom People

On desire and beauty: an Augustinian anecdote

a very, very thought provoking post by Ben Myers…

On desire and beauty: an Augustinian anecdote

On desire and beauty: an Augustinian anecdote
Some years ago, I remember taking an afternoon walk down the quiet suburban street where my wife and I were living at the time. It was early summer, a warm breeze stirred the languid jacarandas that bloomed beneath the cloudless Queensland sky.

After rambling around for half an hour or so, I noticed a woman walking towards me from the far end of the street. I had left my glasses at home, as I often do when I am out for a stroll – but even at this distance I could make out her slender waist, the curve of her hips, the dark tresses falling about her shoulders. A long skirt swayed as she walked, and I saw that she was carrying a baby at her side. I had never seen her before – I’m sure I would have remembered her. I knew most of the people around here, she must be new to the neighbourhood. I am by nature a shy person, but on this occasion I decided I would pause to chat with this lovely apparition as she passed me on the street. I would catch her eye and smile, welcome her to the neighbourhood, ask where she was from, perhaps make some innocent flirtatious remark. I continued to observe her figure as she drew closer, my thoughts lulled by the jacaranda breeze and the easy rhythm of her hips. And then, with a disorienting shock of pleasure and recognition, I saw – what I would have seen at once had I been wearing my glasses – that it was my wife, strolling in the sun with our baby daughter perched on her hip.

Augustine’s Confessions is in large measure a record of misplaced desire. Our hearts well up with idolatrous desire for created things. We turn to the world of beautiful things instead of turning to the one who is Beauty itself. “In my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you had made.” But even in our corruption and confusion, God remains the hidden object of our desire. God uses our misplaced desires to draw us, in spite of ourselves, to God. “You were with me, and I was not with you.” In our desire for beautiful things, we are suddenly ambushed by God’s beauty, deep and secret and seductive – just as, that summer afternoon, my wandering desire for the lovely form of a woman was ambushed by the woman I love. “You were radiant and resplendent, and you put to flight my blindness” (Confessions 10.27.38).