Sunday, February 26, 2012

Found in Translation: A New Missiological McCarthyism

There is a strange new form of witch-hunting going on in the world of missiology these days.  It reminds me a lot of Senator McCarthy's infamous search for Communists in America during the Cold War.  Recently an online petition was started to "Keep Father and Son in the Bible".  The claim was that certain new Bible translations are removing the familial terms in Scripture in order to avoid persecution and make the Bible more palatable for Muslims. Even though I agree that we should certainly keep these core, self-revelatory terms of God in the Bible, here is why I won't sign this petition:

1. The claims of the petition are a gross misrepresentation of the actual texts they purport to have a problem with.  The first, a Turkish translation of Matthew, does in fact retain the terms "Father" and "Son" in an interlinear form right underneath the original Greek text in the left column of the book, while the right column has a translation that is akin to "The Message" in Turkish.  Is that a sin?  Are the translators demons for doing it?  The authors of this petition would have the Christian public believe so.  And many a Christian who can't read Turkish and hasn't even seen this text is ready to jump on the McCarthy bandwagon and demonize the missionaries who were behind this translation. 

2. The second text in question is an Arabic translation of the Gospels and Acts.  In this text, when the Greek term υιός του θεού ("Son of God") appears, it is translated literally as ابن الله ("Ibn Allah" / "Son of God") in Arabic.  However, when only the Greek word "Son" appears, the translators took some liberty by using حبيب الله ("Habib Allah" / "Beloved of God")  to make it clear that Jesus is not the result of human procreation (I'd prefer a literal rendering with a parenthetical note, but I'm not going to demonize the translators for it).  This translation is, again, much like "The Message" essentially.

3. Nobody wants to take "Father" and "Son" out of the Bible, with the exception perhaps of an infinitesimally small percentage of fringe people.  I agree that we need to make sure we keep "Father" and "Son" in the Bible.  I would have signed the petition if what it claimed was actually true.  But the exaggerations and misstatements in the petition were many, which is why I didn't sign it.

4. Using a secular, activist site like and posting the names and emails of the people who the petitioners deemed responsible is, in my opinion, very irresponsible and unprofessional.
5. Finally, consider the following example from Mark 1:1 in both the ESV and The Message:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  - Mark 1:1 (ESV)
"The good news of Jesus Christ - the Message!" - Mark 1:1 (The Message)
[emphasis added by me for the Greek term υιός του θεού ("Son of God")]

The ESV is a translation.  The Message is an idiomatic paraphrase.  Everyone understands the difference.  The translations in question by the new McCarthys are no different than The Message.  They are simply idiomatic paraphrases designed to allow more people to connect with the Bible who otherwise might not.  Personally, I don't enjoy The Message.  But that doesn't mean I think we should attack what Peterson has tried to do with it.  And for the record, I don't enjoy the newer idiomatic translations for Muslims either.  But that doesn't mean I want to derogate those who do!

Why don't the initiators of the "Lost in Translation" petition start a new petition and charge Eugene Peterson with heresy and defame him all over the internet too?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunni and Shiite Islam: Do you know the difference? Take the quiz

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Most of the world's major religions are made up of multiple sects or denominations, and Islam is no different. Islam's two major sects are the Sunnis and the Shiites, and the division and interplay between the two is a major factor in the geopolitics of the Middle East. How well do you understand Sunni and Shiite Islam? Take our quiz and find out!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mohammad as a Valentine

rasulullah-saw-300x276In order to learn how Mohammad-centric Islam is, it’s important to understand the depth of Muslims’ love for their Prophet.  Here is the summary of the post today at Muslim Matters, Love the Prophet – Follow Him:

Let's follow the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to prove that we love him. Let's celebrate him every day. Let's engrave those beautiful stories of his life, which we memorize and narrate, on our actions. Let's check if our deeds are compatible with our claims of love towards him. In following him, lies the secret of Allāh's love, mercy and forgiveness for us.

Say, [O Muhammad], ''If you should love Allāh, then follow me, [so] Allāh will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allāh is Forgiving and Merciful.'' [Al-Qur'ān 3:31]

Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an to follow Mohammed and God will love them and forgive their sins.

Watch this short video from the post (talk about revisionist view of Islamic history!) that explains why anyone would want to follow Mohammed:

For Muslims to consider following someone other than Mohammed is a radical idea.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Prayer Calendars for the Unengaged

From a friend:

We are excited to share that you can now download prayer calendars for the unengaged from Joshua Project on PDF at . We hope you will take advantage of this wonderful resource and share it with those in your communities.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quarrelling and Blog Arguing

I have been following some blogs lately that attempt to “expose” unbiblical models of ministry.  The idea in itself can be commendable.  God is truth and we should love the truth.

The irony is that heresy hunters almost always become unbiblical themselves, both in their manner of arguing (judging fellow believers i.e. Rom. 14) and the peripheral issues they choose to attack.  Especially to Christian fundamentalists, a heretic is anyone who does things different than you- every issue becomes essential.

I say all this because I myself am tempted to quarrel with fellow believers in the blogosphere over unprofitable issues!

Here are some verses I was meditating on this morning:

Romans 14:1:  As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

2 Corinthians 12:20: For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

1 Timothy 2:8: I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

1 Timothy 6:4: he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

2 Timothy 2:14: Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

2 Timothy 2:23: Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Titus 3:2: to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3:9: But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

James 4:1: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

Friday, February 10, 2012

The War on Christians and the Arab Spring

Along with other followers of Christ, I am among the first to stand up for Muslims whose human rights are violated (just read some of my earlier posts).  However, why the silence from others when Christians' rights are violated?  Once again, Ayaan Hirsi Ali gets it right regarding the true nature of what is going on around the world in the Feb. 13th issue of Newsweek.  If you live in the Middle East as I do, you are accustomed to regular, first-hand accounts of Christians being massacred by Muslims.  These stories are real.  And they happen every single day.  It's time for the media to take note.  Thank you Newsweek.  Thank you Ms. Ali.  I'd love to see some Islamic voices come out and condemn this violence as well, but I won't hold my breath.

Incidentally, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, expect this persecution to increase dramatically.  Democracy is not on the horizon for the Muslim World - increasing religious fanaticism is.  Trust me.  Or at least trust John Bradley.  The Islamists are better organized, and more importantly, better armed.  The student initiators of the revolutions don't stand a chance against them.  We must pray that as people in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and beyond are brought face to face with Islam in its purest form (i.e. the Wahabi and Salafi brand), they will see that neither democracy nor Muhammad is the answer to their hearts' desires - Jesus is.  In the mean time, let us plead for strength for our brethren in these lands who already follow Jesus.  And keep praying for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to become a follower of Jesus herself. The peace and decency she seeks as a former Muslim is not to be found in America, democracy, or agnosticism, but in Christ!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus


You’ve probably heard of the CPM that has been happening among Muslims in East Africa by now.  Thankfully, they have put many of their stories and lessons learned in a book.  I just started reading an advance copy it looks really promising. You can pre-order on Amazon-> Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus:

How do the people most resistant to the transformative power of the gospel come to be its most devoted followers? Miraculous Movement recounts an amazing change taking place within Muslim communities where the truth of Jesus Christ is turning around the lives of many thousands of Muslims from more than twenty people groups. Discover through the sometimes humorous, often sobering, but always enlightening and encouraging true stories how imams, sheikhs, and entire mosques are forsaking Islam and embracing Christ.

This close look at what the Lord is doing to spread the gospel highlights the key scriptural principles that help Christians reach out in love to share the gospel in their own community. The authors outline the principle of service to others that open doors of opportunity to the work of the gospel.

Author Jerry Trousdale works with CityTeam Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping disciples make disciples through CityTeam's own ministry and through training other ministries in more than thirty countries.

Features include:

  • Outlines important principles on how to share the gospel with non-Christians
  • Explains how ordinary people can lead neighbors to Christ in love and humility
  • Tells many exciting and encouraging stories of Muslims who have accepted Jesus
  • Describes CityTeam's unique program focused on God's work through disciple-making movements, a strategy that harnesses the power of disciples making disciples and churches planting churches


With Miraculous Movements, Jerry Trousdale and his colleagues at CityTeam have made an invaluable contribution to the body of Christ!

-David Garrison, PhD Author: Church Planting Movements

As a church planter for the last 10 years, our family has made it our mission to go where no one else wants to go. This book, Miraculous Movements, very much aligns with this mission of getting to know the community around you and then sharing the teachings of Jesus rather than trying to go in and hope people come to a church or, in some cases, a home church, just because you set up shop. This book shows how to attract people to follow Christ, not try to convert them to simply know Christ. If you want to read stories that will change the way you think about church plants and churches built outside our Western models, this is the book for you. Whether you are a church leader or a person who is curious to see what God is up to in other parts of the world, you won’t be disappointed.

-Charles Hill, Church Planter, National Speaker

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Aquinas on Islam

Here is Thomas Aquinas' take on Islam in a nutshell.  What do you think?

The point is clear in the case of Mohammed. He seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teachings also contain precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. 
In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms—which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. 
What is more, no wise man, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning. Those who believed in him were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Mohammed forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms. . . . he perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law. It was, therefore, a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity. 
It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly. 
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, Chapter 6 (trans. Anton C Pegis, University of Notre Dame Press, 1975, pp. 73-75)
I have long said that the best way to know that Islam is a man-made religion is to ask any man to sit down and dream up his perfect system/religion - the result would look a lot like Islam.  This hypothesis is helped even more when picturing men in 7th century Arabia.  Think al-wecht al-Jahaliyya "the times of Ignorance" (i.e. before the coming of Islam supposedly brought knowledge to heretofore uneducated desert tribes).  A similar argument could be made for Mormonism and Joseph Smith - another good deal  if you are a man.

Related Post: Islam and Mormonism