Unfold the Evangel before your eyes!

Are you lost?
Are you worn out?
Are you overwhelmed?
Are you rational?

Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!

sábado, setembro 30, 2006

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict In Numbers

By Chuck missler
from the September 26, 2006 eNews issue

[Leia este artigo em português]

56% of Israelis support negotiating with the Palestinian Hamas-led government
75% of Israelis believe Israel is struggling for its survival
63% of Palestinians support adopting Hezbollah's methods of attacking Israeli towns with rockets
57% of Palestinian said they support the bombing of Israeli civilians
75% of Palestinians said they support the kidnapping Israel Defense Force soldiers
80% of Palestinians believe that Israel and Palestine cannot coexist

Number of Jews worldwide: approximately 14 million
Number of Jews in the US: approximately 6 million
Number of Jews in Israel: approximately 5 million
Number of Jews killed in the Holocaust: approximately 7 million

Palestinian Refugees seeking the "Right of Return" to Israel: over 4 million
Jewish Refugees expelled from Arab countries: over 1 million

Number of times Palestinians have been offered a state of their own and have refused: at least twice (in 1948 and 2000)

Number of Israel's neighbors' active armed forces: over 2 million
Number of Israel's active armed forces: 170,000

Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned by name in the Bible: 811
Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned by name in the Koran: 0

Number of terrorist attacks worldwide from August 1998 to August 2003 according to the Associated Press: 15
Number of terrorist attacks in Israel included in that list: 0
Number of terrorist attacks in Israel during that period: over 800

Length of time after the establishment of the United Nations before the word "anti-Semitism" was first mentioned in a UN resolution: 50 years

Number of UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israel: over 50
Number of UN Security Council resolutions condemning Palestinians: 0

Number of UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Israel: over 300
Number of UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Palestinians: 0

sexta-feira, setembro 29, 2006

Chavez's Venezuela: No Laughing Matter

By Chuck Miseler
from the September 26, 2006, eNews issue

[Leia este artigo em português]

Over the past seven years Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has virtually destroyed what was once the most stable and prosperous democracy in South America. Over half of Chavez's constituents live in poverty. Inflation in Venezuela has risen to 15 percent and unemployment rates stand at 13 percent. In addition, violent crime, particularly in the capital city of Caracas, has risen exponentially in recent years. Venezuela now has the highest number of deaths by gunfire per capita in the world, the situation has been described as being "absolutely out of control."

Before Chavez came to power in 1998, oil-rich Venezuela was a wealthy nation and one of South America's oldest democracies. This wealth attracted a large influx of poor immigrants from neighboring Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and the Caribbean. The poor became increasingly resentful of the wealthy and middle class. Hugo Chavez, imprisoned for a failed coup in 1992 but was later released, became the champion of the poor during the 1998 elections.

Chavez, an avowed socialist, won the election with 56 percent of the vote. He immediately embraced Cuba's communist leader, Fidel Castro, as Venezuela's chief ally. He also called Iraq's Saddam Hussein his "brother" and aligned himself with Libya's Moammar Qadaffi. Chavez then formed alliances with North Korea's Kim Yong-Il and then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Over the last year, foreign relations between the United States and Venezuela have steadily gotten worse. In a recent speech before the United Nations General Assembly Chavez referred to President Bush as "the devil" and "a tyrant." His comments provoked laughter among members of the General Assembly, and have become the topic of much media attention. He described the United States' as the "greatest threat looming over the world today," and said that "The United States empire is on the way down and it will be finished in the near future, for the good of all mankind."

Oil for Harlem

Just one day after Chavez's speech at the United Nations he appeared at a church in Harlem, where he continued his criticisms of the Bush administration and discussed the expansion of a heating oil initiative. Last year the Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo began a program to provide cheap fuel to low-income families in Boston, Chicago, and New York. The non-profit organization involved in distributing the fuel, Citizens Energy Corporation, was founded by Joseph Kennedy II, a liberal activist and son of the late senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The fact that someone like Chavez is taking an interest in helping America's underprivileged should raise red flags. After all, Chavez dealings with the United States have been anything but diplomatic. Make no mistake, this latest maneuver is not an act of charity. It is a calculated political maneuver to buy influence among members of congress. He has made similar deals in neighboring countries as a means of strengthening ties with those who share similar ideals. In Nicaragua, for example, Chavez has sold oil at below market price to political leaders with socialist leanings.

Speak No Evil

Despite growing inflation, unemployment, poverty, and crime, Hugo Chavez has retained a measured amount of popularity. Chavez has managed to survive several efforts to remove him from office, including an attempted coup and a national referendum. He has held on to power in large part because of an aggressive propaganda campaign that has shifted the blame for the people's problems on everyone from the nation's bureaucrats to the tyrannical empire that is the United States.

Chavez is up for re-election in December. In a bid to retain the presidency and thus "continue the revolution" Chavez has been tightening his grip on Venezuela's freedom of speech. Chavez has passed new laws regulating the media as well as a new penal code that criminalizes virtually any expression to which the government objects. The new laws state that "anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the President of the Republic" can be thrown into prison. The laws apply to comments made both publicly and privately. Journalists accused of receiving any type of foreign funding can be thrown into prison for up to 30 years and are not entitled to legal due process.

A Growing Threat

In the past year Venezuela's defense budget has increased by 31 percent, to over $2 billion. That number does not include a $2.2 billion defense deal recently made with Spain. Venezuela is buying helicopters, boats and military transport planes. They have also purchased 100,000 Russian-made Kalashnikov assault. Plans are also being made to buy submarines and Russian fighter jets. (In addition to its arms deals, Russia has also endorsed Venezuela's bid to join the UN Security Council.)

Venezuela is one of the founding members of OPEC and is strongly aligned with the Islamic oil producing nations of the Middle East. President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly defended Iran in its dispute with the United States and Europe over its nuclear program, saying Iran has a right to atomic energy. In recent months the trade volume between Iran and Venezuela has skyrocketed. When the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member governing board voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council, only Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela voted against the resolution.

Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to Islamic radicals from the Middle East and other terrorists. Middle Eastern terrorist groups are operating cells in Venezuela, including support cells for organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Thousands of Venezuelan identity documents are being distributed to foreigners from Middle Eastern nations, including Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

The restriction of democratic freedoms in Venezuela and the infiltration of Islamic radicals into South America are serious concerns. Although the situation in Venezuela has been largely overshadowed by events in the Middle East, it still poses a serious threat to the interests and security of the United States.

quinta-feira, setembro 28, 2006

The Deity of Christ

Written by Don Closson

[Leia este artigo em português]


I recently received a letter from someone who argues that there is only one God, and that He is called many names and worshiped by many different people who hold to many different faiths. This kind of thinking about God is common today, but its popularity does not reduce the intellectual problems that may accompany it. For instance, does this notion of god include the god of the Aztecs who required child sacrifice? What about the warrior gods of Norse mythology: Odin, Thor, and Loki? How does the Mormon belief that we can all become Gods if we join their organization and conform to their system of good works fit into this theological framework? Even John Hick, an influential religious pluralist, believes that only some of the world's great religions qualify as having a valid view of God. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are valid, but Satanism and the religions of the Waco, Texas, variety are not. Belief that all religious systems worship one God raises difficult questions when we see how different groups portray God and seek to describe how we are to relate to Him.

The issue becomes even more acute when one religious tradition claims that God took on flesh becoming a man and walked on the earth. The Christian tradition has claimed for almost two thousand years that God did just that. The Gospel of John proclaims that, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John is, of course, talking about Jesus, and this claim presents an interesting challenge for a religious pluralist. If what John and the rest of the New Testament writers claim about Jesus is true, then we literally have God in the flesh walking with and teaching a small band of disciples. If Jesus was God incarnate as He walked the earth, we have a first hand account of what God is like in the biblical record. Truth claims about God that counter those given in the Bible must then be discounted. In other words, if Jesus was God in the flesh during His time on earth, other religious texts or traditions are wrong when they teach about God or about knowing God in ways that contradict the biblical record.

In this essay we will consider the evidence for the deity of Christ. Christianity's truth claims are dependent on this central teaching, and once accepted, this claim reduces greatly the viability of religious pluralism, of treating all religious beliefs as equally true. For if God truly became flesh and spoke directly to His disciples about such things as sin, redemption, a final judgment, false religions and true worship, then we have the God of the universe expressing intolerance towards other religious claims- -specifically claims that discount the reality of sin and remove the need for redemption or the reality of a final judgment. Some might not agree with God's religious intolerance, but then again, disagreeing with God is what the Bible calls sin.

Rather than begin with a response to attacks on Christ's deity by modern critics like the Jesus Seminar or New Age gnostics, our discussion will begin with Jesus' own self-consciousness, in other words, what did Jesus say and think about himself. From there we will consider the teachings of the Apostles and the early church. My goal is to establish that from its inception, Christianity has taught and believed that Jesus was God in the flesh, and that this belief was the result of the very words that Jesus spoke concerning His own essence.

Christ's Self-Perception

As we begin to examine evidence that supports the claim that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh or God incarnate, a good starting point is Jesus' own self concept. It must first be admitted that Jesus never defines His place in the Trinity in theological language. However, He made many statements about himself that would be not only inappropriate, but blasphemous if He was not God in the flesh. It is important to remember that Jesus' life was not spent doing theology or thinking and writing about theological issues. Instead, His life was focused on relationships, first with His disciples, and then with the Jewish people. The purpose of these relationships was to engender in these people a belief in Jesus as their savior or Messiah, as their only source of salvation. Jesus told the Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders of His day, that they would die in their sins if they did not believe that He was who He claimed to be (John 8:24). And to one Pharisee, Nicodemus, Jesus said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Millard Erickson, in his book Christian Theology, does a nice job of laying out evidence that Jesus considered himself equal in essence with God.(1) Unless He was God, it would have been highly inappropriate for Jesus to say, as He does in Matthew 13:41, that both the angels and the kingdom are His. Elsewhere, angels are called "the angels of God" (Luke 12:8 9; 15:10) and the phrase Kingdom of God is found throughout the Scriptures. But Jesus says, "The Son of man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and evildoers" (Matt. 13:41).

When the paralytic in Mark 2:5 was lowered through the roof by his friends, Jesus' first response was to say that the man's sins were forgiven. The scribes knew the implications of this statement, for only God could forgive sin. Their remarks clearly show that they understood Jesus to be exercising a divine privilege. Jesus had a wonderful opportunity to set the record straight here by denying that He had the authority to do what only God can do. Instead, His response only reinforces His claim to divinity. Jesus says, "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, Rise, take up your pallet and walk'?" To confirm His authority to forgive sins, Jesus enabled the man to pick up his pallet and go home.

Two other areas that Jesus claimed authority over was the judging of sin and the observance of the Sabbath. Both were considered God's prerogative by the Jews. In John 5:22-23 Jesus says, "The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father." Jesus also claimed authority to change man's relationship to the Sabbath. Honoring the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, and the Jews had been given strict instructions on how to observe it. In the book of Numbers, Moses is told by God to stone to death a man who collects wood on the Sabbath. However, in Matthew 12:8 Jesus says that "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

These examples show that Jesus made claims and performed miracles that reveal a self awareness of His own divinity. In our next section, we will continue in this vein.

Christ's Self-Perception, Part 2

At this point in our discussion we will offer even more examples of Jesus' self knowledge of His essential equality with God.

A number of comments that Jesus made about His relationship with the Father would be unusual if Jesus did not consider himself equal in essence with God. In John 10:30 He says that to see Him is to see the Father. Later in John 14:7-9 He adds that to know Him is to know the Father. Jesus also claimed to have existed prior to His incarnation on earth. In John 8:58 He says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." Some believe that the words used here by Jesus constitute His strongest claim to deity. According to the Expositors Bible Commentary this passage might more literally be translated, "Before Abraham came into being, I continuously existed." The Jews recognized the phrase "I am" as one referring to God because God used it (1) to describe himself when He commissioned Moses to demand the release of His people from Pharaoh (Exodus 3:14), and (2) to identify himself in the theistic proclamations in the second half of Isaiah. Jesus also declares that His work is coterminous with the Father. He proclaims that "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). The Jews hearing Jesus understood the nature of these claims. After His comment about pre-existing Abraham, they immediately picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy because they understood that He had declared himself God.

In Jesus' trial He makes a clear declaration of who He is. The Jews argued before Pilate in John 19:7, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God." Matthew 26 records that at Jesus' trial, the high priest tells Jesus, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus replies, "You have said it yourself, . . . But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." This would have been a wonderful opportunity for Jesus to save himself by clearing up any misconceptions concerning His relationship with the Father. Instead, He places himself in a position of equality and of unique power and authority. Again, the Jews understand what Jesus is saying. The high priest proclaims, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy." He calls for a vote of the council, and they demand His death (Matt. 26:65-66).

Another indicator of how Jesus perceived himself is in His use of Old Testament Scripture and the way He made His own proclamations of truth. In a number of cases, Jesus began a sentence with "You have heard that it was said, . . . but I say to you. . . ." (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28). Jesus was giving His words the same authority as the Scriptures. Even the prophets, when speaking for God, would begin their statements with: "The word of the Lord came to me," but Jesus begins with: "I say to you."

There are other indications of how Jesus saw himself. For example, Christ's claim to have authority over life itself in John 5:21 and 11:25, and His use of the self referential "Son of God" title point to unique power and authority and His essential equality with God.

The Apostles' Teaching

We will turn now to look at what Jesus' followers said of Him. The Gospel of John begins with a remarkable declaration of both Christ's deity and full humanity. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." Later in verse fourteen John remarks that this "Word" became flesh and walked among them and points to Jesus as this "Word" become flesh. What did John mean by this remarkable passage?

The first phrase might literally be translated: "When the beginning began, the Word was already there." In other words, the "Word" co-existed with God and predates time and creation. The second phrase "The Word was with God" indicates both equality and distinction of identity. A more literal translation might be "face to face with God," implying personality and relational coexistence. Some groups, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, make a great deal of the fact that the word "God" in the third phrase "The Word was God" lacks an article. This, they argue, allows the noun God to be translated as an indefinite noun, perhaps referring to "a God" but not "the" almighty God. Actually, the lack of an article for the noun makes the case for the deity of the "Word" more clearly. The Greek phrase, theos en ho logos describes the nature of the "Word," not the nature of God. The article ho before the word logos shows that the sentence describes the nature of the Word; He is of the same nature and essence as the noun in the predicate; that is, the Word is divine. It is interesting to note that verses 6, 12, 13, and 18 of the same chapter refer unambiguously to God the Father and use an anarthrous noun, i.e., a noun without the article.(2) Yet strangely the Jehovah's Witnesses do not dispute the meaning of these passages.

The author of Hebrews writes plainly of Christ's deity. The first chapter states that, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word." The passage also states that Jesus is not an angel nor is He just a priest. In Colossians 1:15-16 Paul adds that, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Although Paul clearly attributes godlike qualities to Jesus, the use of the word firstborn often causes confusion. The word can be a reference to priority in time or supremacy in rank. Since Jesus is described as the Creator of all things, the notion of supremacy seems more appropriate. Philippians 2:5-11 also talks of Jesus existing in the form of God. The Greek term used for form is morphe, denoting an outward manifestation of an inner essence.

Mention should also be made of the use by New Testament writers of the word Lord for Jesus. The same Greek word was used in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, as the translated word for the Hebrew words Yahweh and Adonai, two special names given to God the Father. The Apostles meant to apply the highest sense of this term when referring to Jesus.

The Early Church

Thus far we have been examining the Christian claim of Christ's divinity, first considering Jesus' own self-concept and then the thoughts of those who wrote the New Testament. It is not within the scope of this essay to argue that the words attributed to Jesus by the writers of the New Testament are indeed His. Instead, we have argued that the words attributed to Jesus do claim an essential equality with God the Father. The traditional view of the Christian faith has been that God has revealed himself to us as three separate persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--who shared a common essence.

Belief in Jesus' essential equality with God the Father was communicated by the Apostles to the church fathers to whom they handed the task of leading the church. Even though these early leaders often struggled with how to describe the notion of the Trinity with theological accuracy, they knew that their faith was in a person who was both man and God.

Clement of Rome is a good example of this faith. Writing to the church at Corinth Clement implies Jesus' equality with God the Father when he says "Have we not one God, and one Christ and one Spirit of grace poured upon us." Later, in his second letter, Clement tells his readers to "think of Jesus as of God, as the judge of the living and dead." Clement also wrote of Jesus as the preexistent Son of God; in other words, Christ existed before He took on human flesh. Ignatius of Antioch spoke of Christ's nature in his letter to the Ephesians, "There is only one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, life in death, Son of Mary and Son of God." A little later, Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. A.D. 140-202.) had to stress the humanity of Christ because of Gnostic heresy that argued that Jesus was only a divine emanation. Irenaeus wrote, "There is therefore . . . one God the Father, and one Christ Jesus our Lord, who . . . gathered together all things in himself. But in every respect, too, he is man, the formation of God: and thus he took up man into himself, the invisible becoming visible, the incomprehensible being made comprehensible, the impassible becoming capable of suffering, and the Word being made man, thus summing up all things in himself" (Against Heresies III, 16). During the same time period, Tertullian of Carthage (ca. A.D. 155-240) wrote of Christ's nature that "what is born in the flesh is flesh and what is born in the Spirit is spirit. Flesh does not become spirit nor spirit flesh. Evidently they can (both) be in one (person). Of these Jesus is composed, of flesh as man and of spirit as God" (Against Praxeas, 14). Later he added, "We see His double state, not intermixed but conjoined in one person, Jesus, God and man" (Against Praxeas, 27).

By A.D. 325 the church had begun to systematize Christianity's response to various heretical views of Christ. The Nicene Creed stated, "We believe in God the Father All-sovereign, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all the ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things came into being."(3).

The belief in Jesus Christ being of the same essence as God the Father began with Jesus himself, was taught to His Apostles, who in turn handed down this belief to the early church Fathers and apologists. Christ's deity is the foundation upon which the Christian faith rests.


1. Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1985), pp. 684-90.

2. Merrill C. Tenney, The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), pp. 28-29.

3. Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 26.

©1997 Probe Ministries.

About the Author

Don Closson received the B.S. in education from Southern Illinois University, the M.S. in educational administration from Illinois State University, and the M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He served as a public school teacher and administrator before joining Probe Ministries as a research associate in the field of education. He is the general editor of Kids, Classrooms, and Contemporary Education.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3 1/2 minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 480-0240 FAX (972) 644-9664

quarta-feira, setembro 27, 2006

Chance and Intelligent Design (part 2)

By James A. Choury, serving with WorldVenture in North Brazil

[Leia este artigo em português]

What do Logic and the laws of probability have to do with evidence of God’s existence? The first verse of the Bible states that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Psalm 19.1-4 and Romans 1.20 tell us that the creation proclaims God’s existence and His invisible attributes and that that proclamation is intelligible to mankind to such an extent that not heeding it leads to man’s condemnation.

How does the creation proclaim God’s existence and invisible attributes to such an extent as to leave any one who does not recognize Him without excuse?

At least a part of the answer is to be found in the probability calculus. In the study of probability we learn that complex and interrelated phenomenon very seldom happen simply by chance. When we find something complex and interrelated the rational inclination is to assume that it was designed or prearranged. So the proclamation of God’s existence, power and divine nature are revealed by creation’s order and complexity because experience and an understanding of mathematics tell us that complex and interrelated things come about through design. Discussions about God’s existence naturally (and, as we shall see later, necessarily) revolve around the issue of chance or design.←

Let’s return to the Law of the Excluded Middle described in Part I. Logically we can affirm that life and the universe came about by chance or they came about by “not chance”. It was either chance or not chance and it must have been one or the other. If it was chance then we are automatically driven into the area of Mathematics and the Probability Calculus. If it was chance it is logical to ask “what are the odds?” “Are they good odds?”* Is chance a reasonable explanation for the existence of the universe and of life?

If we consider the only other logical alternative, “not chance”, what are we driven to there? When we say something resulted from “not chance” we are talking about design or some kind of intelligent intervention.

We are caught between two options by the law of the excluded middle. Chance or not chance. Can we agree that “not chance” is just another way of saying “design”? If so, we are talking about chance or design. Can there be design without intelligence? If not, we are talking about chance or intelligent design. No other options. That’s the Law! The Law of the Excluded Middle.

Now, some astute thinker may propose a third alternative: “It may have been partly by chance and partly by design”. Good thinking! But this option only leads us back to the former genuine dilemma. If part was by chance we need to know which part? If some part was by chance we need to ask what are the odds? If part was by design we need to ask who or what was the designer? No, there is no escape along that avenue. The Law of the Excluded Middle is only strengthened by that third, proposed alternative.

We have demonstrated that the Law of the Excluded Middle, when applied to the existence of life and the universe, leaves us with only two rational options: “chance” or “not chance”. If we chose “chance” we are faced with some hard questions about the probability of such chance. If we chose “not chance” we fall logically into affirming that life and the universe are a result of design and are faced with the question of the designer’s existence and identity.


1. Write a short essay on the thoughts found in Genesis 1.1, Psalm 19.1-4 and Romans 1.20.
2. Try to come up with a third possibility for the existence of life and the universe not included in the above options of “chance” or “not chance”.

terça-feira, setembro 19, 2006

A Polêmica do Papa

Jornal da Globo

Os protestos em países muçulmanos contra um discurso acadêmico pronunciado por Bento XVI tornaram-se ainda mais fortes, apesar do Papa ter dito “lamentar as reações”, no domingo.
O presidente da conferência episcopal italiana, Camilo Ruini, chamou de “inqualificáveis” as ameaças ao Papa vindas do mundo muçulmano. O cardeal ofereceu a Bento XVI total solidariedade.

O presidente da França, Jacques Chirac, lançou um apelo para que seja evitado tudo o que pode alimentar tensão entre povos e religiões.
Nesta segunda-feira, o país islâmico mais intransigente foi o Irã, que não aceitou a retratação do Papa. Lideres moderados, do Egito e da Jordânia, também não se satisfizeram com a explicação do Papa, e querem um pedido de desculpas claro e sem equívocos.
Novas ameaças foram feitas ao pontífice e à Igreja, por iraquianos extremistas ligados ao grupo al Qaeda.

Longe dos muros sagrados, em Castel Gandolfo, Bento XVI acompanha os protestos. No vaticano, se prepara um encontro com autoridades católicas, muçulmanas e judaicas. Recomeçar diálogo entre as religiões é a aposta da Santa Sé para o fim da crise entre a Igreja e o Islã
A declaração

Bento XVI é um intelectual de pensamento muito sofisticado e elaborado. E boa parte das reações negativas ao que ele disse parecem ser fruto de pouca informação.
As palavras pronunciadas pelo Papa constam da aula magna que ele deu na semana passada na universidade de Regensburg, no sul da Alemanha, onde fora professor de teologia. O título da aula era “Fé e razão – e como é possível, através da razão, entender Deus”.

Para explicar porque a fé e a razão excluem a violência como forma de se propagar uma religião, o papa reproduz diálogos travados há mais de 600 anos entre um imperador bizantino, Manuel II Palaeologo, e um prelado persa de nome desconhecido. Era um diálogo sobre a relação que cristianismo e o Islã mantém com fé e razão.

Naquela época, por volta do ano 1400, Constantinopla, a capital do império Bizantino, estava cercada por exércitos muçulmanos – que acabariam conquistando a cidade 53 anos depois, uma das datas mais traumáticas para a cristandade.

O imperador conhecia perfeitamente as definições, contidas no Corão, sobre a guerra sagrada", diz o Papa. "E ele se dirige a seu interlocutor de forma muito brusca, com a questão central por excelência da relação entre religião e violência, e diz: ‘mostre-me o que o profeta Maomé trouxe de novo (na questão da Guerra Santa) e você só vai encontrar coisas ruins e desumanas, como a crença, que ele propagou, que a fé dele tem de ser espalhada através da espada’".
É uma palestra muito mais acadêmica que religiosa. É fácil descontextualizar esta frase e instrumentalizar esta frase. Mas essa instrumentalização também é entendível, por parte dos muçulmanos, porque a fala aconteceu no dia 12 de setembro, um dia depois da comemoração dos atentados contra o World Trade Center”, avalia Frank Usarski, professor de Ciências da Religião da PUC-SP. “E ainda, esse discurso público no mundo Ocidental inteiro, repercutiu na alma, na consciência coletiva dos muçulmanos”.

Segunda-feira, 18 de Setembro de 2006

quinta-feira, setembro 14, 2006

Waiting the 12th Imam

By Chuck Missler, from KHouse

[Leia este artigo em português]

"Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom? A nation with martyrdom knows no captivity." - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, Speaking on the virtues of suicide bombing

Iran's nuclear program has long been the subject of debate. It is viewed by most as one of the greatest threats to international security. Yet some have condemned efforts to stem Iran's nuclear ambitions as hypocritical. One such commentator wrote, "The US government cannot make a reasonable case as to why it's OK for Israel to have a stockpile of nuclear warheads but it's not OK for any other nation in the Middle East to pursue nuclear weapons technology." Such sentiments may seem reasonable to some. However they do not take into account some of the key dynamics behind the Middle East conflict.

Unlike Iran, Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and, as such, technically does not have to abide by nuclear anti-proliferation conventions. Over the past five decades Israel has developed a nuclear-weapons program but has neither denied nor admitted the existence of its nuclear arsenal. Israelis call this policy "strategic ambiguity." Israel is surrounded on all sides by enemies bent on bringing about its destruction. Israel, therefore, developed its nuclear program to serve as a deterrent. Israel's nuclear arsenal is one of the primary reason nations like Iran have not yet succeeded in their plans to wipe Israel "off the map."

Iran is governed by Shiite Muslim clerics committed to a stern interpretation of Islamic law. Hatred of the United States has been a key component of Iranian foreign policy since the 1978 Islamic revolution, and Iran's leaders often refer to the United States as the "Great Satan." Iran's distaste for the United States is surpassed only by their utter loathing of Israel. Iran's political and religious leaders have repeatedly called for Israel's complete destruction.

The State Department calls the Islamic Republic of Iran the world's "most active state sponsor of terrorism." Iran continues to provide funding, weapons, training, and sanctuary to numerous terrorist groups based in the Middle East and elsewhere. Iran mostly backs Islamist groups, including the Lebanese Shiite militants of Hezbollah (which Iran helped found in the 1980s) and such Palestinian terrorist groups as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran uses such groups to carry out a proxy war on Israel and the West. It is therefore folly to allow Iran, and consequently its terrorist allies, to obtain nuclear technology.

The Dark Horse

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in June of 2005 with more than 60 percent of the vote. He is Iran's sixth president since the 1979 revolution. He ran on a populist economic platform and beat former president Hashemi Rafsanjani - who was hugely wealthy and purportedly very corrupt. Unlike Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad appealed to the people. He is seen as an honest and simple man. According to reports, he lives so modestly that his personal assets include only a 30-year-old car, an even older house, and an empty bank account. Ahmadinejad projects the image of a humble and devout man. He is motivated, not by wealth or power, but by his conservative Islamic ideals.

Ahmadinejad is a controversial figure in the international community, but he has the support of the Iranian people and the backing of Supreme Leader Ali Ayatollah Khamenei. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad graduated from college with a degree in civil engineering and joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during the Iran-Iraq war. During the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad was a member of the radical student group that took control of the US embassy. Ahmadinejad reportedly played a central role in the hostage crisis, which included interrogating captives.

Prior to running for president, Ahmadinejad was the mayor of Tehran, Iran's capitol city. He was appointed mayor in the spring of 2003 by the city council. Before becoming mayor, Ahmadinejad was a relatively unknown figure in Iranian politics. In fact, the city council members that appointed him came to power in an election that could only boast of a 12 percent voter turnout.

The Return of the 12th Imam

When Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October of 2005, he ended his speech with a prayer imploring God to hasten the return of the 12th Imam. Ahmadinejad refers to the return of the 12th Imam, also known as the Mahdi, in almost all his major speeches. In the Islamic faith, the Mahdi is the ultimate savior of mankind. His appearance will usher in an era of Islamic justice and bring about the conversion of the heathen amidst flame and fire. The Mahdi will establish Islam as the global religion and will reign for seven years before bringing about the end of the world.

In a speech last November, Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying: "Our revolution's main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi. Therefore, Iran should become a powerful, developed and model Islamic society. Today, we should define our economic, cultural and political policies based on the policy of Imam Mahdi's return. We should avoid copying the West's policies and systems."

The beliefs of Sunni and Shiite Muslims differ on the identity of the Mahdi. Sunnis either believe that he is yet to be born, or that he was born recently and has yet to emerge. Shiites hold that the Mahdi is Muhammad ibn Hasan, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad born in the 9th century and the 12th and final Shiite Imam. As a devout Shiite, Ahmadinejad believes that the 12th Imam was hidden away by Allah at a young age and will someday emerge to bring justice and peace by establishing Islam throughout the world. After taking office Ahmadinejad allocated $20 million for the expansion of the Jamkaran mosque, a religious pilgrimage site where Shiites can drop messages to the "Hidden Imam" in a holy well.

Ahmadinejad ardently believes in the imminent return of 12th Imam, which he anticipates will happen in the next two years. He believes he has a personal role in ushering in the return of the Mahdi and is preparing Iran for Judgment Day. Understanding this perspective is vital to understanding the Iranian threat.

Chance or Intelligent Design ? (part 1)

By James Andrew Choury, serving with WorldVenture in North Brazil September, 2005

[Leia este artigo em português]

Logic and Mathematics. What have these disciplines to do with evidence of God’s existence?

The Law of the Non Contradiction is a fundamental law of logic. The law states that a proposition and its contradictory can never both be true. In symbols we write [ ~ (A & -A)] where the & symbol means that both A and ~A are true and the tilde (~) means “not”. This phrase is logically equivalent to (A v ~ A) which tells us that one or the other (A or ~A) must be true without exceptions (this by the way is called the Law of the Excluded Middle). In short, the Law of Non Contradiction tells us that a proposition and its contradictory are never both true and the Law of the Excluded Middle tells us that one of them must be true. A more classical way of describing contradictories is that one is the negation of the other and they cannot both be true and they cannot both be false. Logical conversation about any subject must observe these basic laws of deduction.

Examples of the Law of Non Contradiction/Law of the Excluded Middle: *

This table is rectangular or this table is not rectangular.
Two plus two is four or two plus two is not four.
The Bible was inspired by God or the Bible was not inspired by God.
Christ rose from the dead or Christ did not rise from the dead.
My name is James or my name is not James.

In order to more fully understand this important concept let’s imagine a typical closet. We will very likely find shoes, shirts, trousers, umbrellas, coats, hats, baseball bats, gloves, table games on the shelves and many other odds and ends. Let’s have the closet represent any given collection of things. We can go through the closet and sort out everything in it. We can divide everything into two categories, say shoes and not shoes. In another sorting we can do trousers and not trousers. Stuff to throw out and stuff not to throw out. In any given sorting everything in the closet will fall into one of two categories. In every case we will end up with two piles (one pile may not have anything in it and that, in mathematics, is called the empty set). That is what the Law of the Excluded Middle tells us. Nothing will be both a shoe and not a shoe. Every item will be either a shoe or not a shoe.

Of course we must first define our terms and eliminate any ambiguities. But, when all has been clarified, any rational conversation must recognize and respect the Laws of the Excluded Middle and Non Contradiction. Let’s always remember that it is impossible for a proposition and its contradictory to both be true. It is logically necessary that either a proposition or its contradictory be true, i.e., one of them must be true!

Still unconvinced? Try to disprove the Law. Think of any collection of things (in mathematics called a set) and try to come up with something within the set that is both X and not X where X is some unambiguous quality or quantity. Don’t forget that X must be defined unambiguously.

More examples:

The set of all animals can be sorted into mammals and non-mammals.
The set of all vehicles can be sorted into front wheel drive and not front wheel drive vehicles.
The set of all athletes can be sorted into Olympic Gold Medal winners and not Olympic Gold Medal winners.
The set called “furniture” can be sorted into chairs and non chairs.
The set of all beings can be sorted into the categories of divine and not divine.

Remember that a very important part of logical debate and conversation is clear definition. When things are clearly defined we will never find a case where a proposition and its contradictory are both true. We will always find that one of them must be true.

* Aristotle correctly codified these basic laws of deduction together with the Law of Identity and for well over a thousand years they were believed to be the fundamental “laws of thought”. With the development of modern symbolic logic one plainly sees that these three statements are logically equivalent and express the same truth in three different ways. Although they may not deserve the elevated position attributed to them by the ancients they are very definitely inescapable and true.

Note: Some objections have been raised asserting that the Law of the Excluded Middle makes everything either black or white. This is a misunderstanding of the Law. The Law of the Excluded middle actually makes everything either black or not black, round or not round, tall or not tall, etc. when, of course, these terms are well defined.


1. See if you can formulate the Law of Identity for yourself or do some research and find it formulated.
2. Come up with five more examples of the Law of the Excluded Middle.
3. Define the following items or concepts leaving as little ambiguity as possible:
A. a tree
B. a book
C. a box
D. imperialism
E. rectangular
4. Check your definition against that of a good dictionary. How did you do? How did the dictionary do?

quarta-feira, setembro 13, 2006

Can Israel Trust the UN?

By Chuck Missler

[Leia este artigo em português]

The United Nations has managed to pass a ceasefire agreement meant to end the violence in Southern Lebanon. The UN Security Council resolution calls for the Lebanese government to exert its sovereignty over Southern Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah. Those who hope this latest attempt at peace will succeed where others have failed so many times in the past will most likely be disappointed. The Security Council has passed seven resolutions going back 28 years that have demanded the same thing - none have been successfully put into action. The fact that Kofi Annan has been given the task of implementing this latest plan does nothing to inspire our confidence in the endeavor. Within days of the resolution, Hezbollah declared that it will not disarm, and so far the only action taken by the Lebanese government has done little but to ensure that everything will return to the way it was.

The fighting is officially over, although no clear winner has emerged. Make no mistake, Hezbollah's forces have suffered enormous losses. However Israel did not accomplish its stated goals, and has yet to recover its kidnapped soldiers. Hezbollah has taken a significant blow, but rearmament and rebuilding have already begun. Hezbollah will regroup, and may even return stronger than ever.

The UN peacekeeping force that was promised has not materialized. France was expected to lead the peacekeeping effort, but to date has only pledged a measly 200 troops. Not surprisingly, assistance from the rest of Europe has not been forthcoming. At any rate, Israel has little reason to put their faith in UN peacekeepers. How can Israel be expected to trust the UN, when only a few weeks ago UN peacekeepers were knowingly aiding Israel's enemies?

In an article in the Weekly Standard, Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote, "During the recent month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, UN peacekeeping forces made a startling contribution: They openly published daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon. UNIFIL - the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978 - is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old. Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces..."

This betrayal is only one example of the UN's lopsided loyalties. The United Nations is an organization plagued by scandal, favoritism, and financial mismanagement. The United Nations was created to maintain international peace and help solve the world’s economic and humanitarian troubles, but the UN has failed time and time again to achieve its primary objectives.

sábado, setembro 09, 2006

As Doutrinas dos Batistas

por Glendon grober

A doutrina fundamental dos batistas é da autoridade das Escrituras. O único credo das igrejas batistas é o Novo Testamento. Há interpretações dele que são distintivaas dos batistas. Mesmo entre essas pode haver alguma diferença de batista para batista:
1. Cristo é o Senhor da Igreja e dos crentes. O objetivo de toda a atividade é glorificar o nome de Jesus. Ele é o Senhor pessoal e a cabeça da Igreja.

2. A autoridade suficiente das Escrituras. A Bíblia é a única autoridade acima de qualquer outra. A regra de fé das igrejas batistas é o Novo Testamento. Os batistas crêem na inspiração da Bíblia toda, mas reconhecem que a orientação da Igreja está no Novo Testamento.

3. O batismo é a imersão de um crente como ato de obediência. Não são únicos nesta crença, mas bem firmes na posição.

4. A liberdade religiosa. Os batistas crêem no princípio de separação entre a Igreja e o Estado. São contra uma igreja estatal ou ligada ao governo. Crêem, dentro deste princípio, na liberdade de consciência. O homem tem que procurar a Deus d livre vontade, porque quer; nunca pode ser forçado ou obrigado a crer. Deus mesmo não obriga o homem a comungar com Ele, muito menos deveria o homem impor sobre seu semelhante aquilo que Deus recusa fazer. O princípio de liberdade religiosa é o "troféu dos batistas".

5. A perseverança dos crentes. Crêem os batistas que a salvação é uma vez para sempre. Deus guarda o salvo pelo poder divino. Os crentes hão de perseverar na graça, não perdendo a salvação. É da antureza da fé salvadora se manter firme até o dia de Cristo.

6. A igreja é autônoma. Crêem os batistas na política congregacional. Nenhuma igreja está submissa à outra. Os batistas praticam a cooperação entre as igrejas em amor, nunca por constrangimento.

7. A salvação é pela fé em Jesus Cristo. Ele é o único caminho. Seu o único nome entre os homens que o homem pode invocar para ser salvo. Os batistas rejeitam, como meio de salvação a lei, a igreja, as ordenanças (sacramentos) e as obras. A salvação é um dom que Deus concede àquele que pessoalmente põe sua fé em Jesus Cristo.

sábado, setembro 02, 2006

Conversation With a Muslim

Written by Don Closson

[Leia este artigo em português]


It is always easier to deal with religious belief systems in the abstract. Cataloguing what a particular religion believes concerning the nature of God, human nature, salvation, and morality is usually a straightforward affair. Actually dialoguing with someone who holds to these beliefs can be far more interesting and challenging. So, although I possessed a general knowledge of what Islam teaches, I found that only by carrying on a long-term discussion with a Muslim did I gain a sense of the mindset and attitudes of a follower of Allah. A door was opened for me to experience some of the passion and zeal to be found in the Muslim evangelist. The discussion occurred via email, which muted some of the emotions that often accompany religious exchanges, but they still came through with considerable intensity.

The opportunity to carry on a discussion with a Muslim apologist arose when a campus minister asked if I would help respond to charges against the claims of Christianity being made by an Islamic leader at his school. I agreed, and soon realized that a number of others, both Muslim and Christian would be listening in on our discussion. Once introduced to my Muslim counterpart, let's call him Ali, the interchange began quickly. I wish that I could report that at the end of our discussion Ali placed his faith in Christ. In fact, I don't think that I made much of an impact at all on his thinking. Ali, as with all of us, chooses what to accept as evidence. He refused to even attempt to see any of the issues we discussed from a Christian perspective. All I can do is pray that God might use our discussion down the road sometime, if God chooses to soften Ali's heart.

Over a six month period our discussion primarily focused on the person of Christ. Ali would ask questions and I would attempt to give an answer. I quickly realized that Ali's tactics and intentions were different from mine. He often used ridicule and intimidation in his responses and would pick and choose what to discuss and what to ignore, deciding when to move on to another topic in order to avoid really considering the material at hand. I have never considered myself a debater, I would much rather have a discussion with people who are really interested in the topic and graciously exchange viewpoints. If I were to enter another dialogue like the one with Ali, I would have to realize that I cannot assume that everyone thinks the way I do regarding dialogue across religious worldviews. The Bible tells us to be ready to give the reason for the hope that we have in Christ, and to do so with gentleness and respect. Don't assume the other person will follow the same rules.

Next we will look at the issue of the person of Jesus Christ from a Muslim perspective and begin to consider how one might make a biblical response.

Christological Mathematics

Since I had never spoken to a Muslim regarding the claims of Christianity, I was looking forward to the kinds of questions that might be raised. I was not surprised that the first issue that came up was the nature of Jesus Christ, since this really is the heart of the matter. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, perhaps even a unique prophet, but not in any sense God. Ali got the conversation going by declaring that there was no place in the Bible that says that Jesus is both 100 percent God and 100 percent man. Along with this initial challenge Ali pointed out that he was very sensitive to proper interpretation and would be looking for incidents of verse twisting in order to make a passage say something that it actually doesn't.

I sent Ali a 2500 word essay that I had written earlier that contained multiple arguments for the deity of Christ and numerous biblical examples of Jesus saying and doing things that only make sense if He were indeed equal with God the Father. My response included indications of Christ's self-perception as God, as well as statements made by His disciples portraying their belief in His deity. I assumed that Christ's humanity was not the real issue. So I did not see a need to defend it. Ali's response was interesting. He noted that Muslims do indeed believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and performed many miracles, with the help of God. But then he stated, "From your response I think we both agree that the Bible does not claim that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man." He later added, "If you don't have any verses to give us then let's move on to the next point."

At first I thought that Ali had not gotten my entire essay. How could he have missed my point? He reassured me that he had gotten it and then declared that since there is no verse that states the 100 percent deity and 100 percent humanity of Christ, we can go on. What I eventually realized was that he was demanding a single verse that actually declared a mathematical set of percentages for the mixture of deity and humanity in Christ. I was a bit surprised to say the least. When I asked for confirmation, he said that that was indeed what he was looking for.

Most people know that the verse numbers in the Bible were added at a later date for convenience sake. After reminding Ali of passages like Philippians 2:6-7 and the first chapter of John, I asked him why it was necessary to find this complex truth in one verse. He ignored my question and responded by claiming victory that indeed, the Bible does not claim in one verse that Jesus is 100 percent God and 100 percent man, and he declared that we would now move on to the next point.

I must admit that I was a bit baffled, but not ready to concede the issue.
The Importance of Context

Ali's debating tactics might be called the "slash and burn" technique: never admit to using a weak argument and make good use of sarcasm to intimidate your opponent. He also likes to claim victory in the middle of an exchange of ideas and then declare that we are moving on to the next issue. However, before I moved on to his next question I tried once more to answer his first. All that got me was the charge that I was avoiding his second point. He wrote,

You see Don, what you have done in your last email is you completely avoided this verse, and then you went looking in the Bible for other verses in which you think Jesus claimed to be God and gave them to us thinking that it would some how make us "forget" about John 5:30.

What about John 5:30? Jesus says; "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." Ali claims that the verse shows that Jesus is inferior and helpless, that in fact He can do nothing. The key to this passage, as always, is in the context. I pointed out to Ali that in John 5:19-23 Jesus says that "He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." Jesus raises the dead, has been given all judgment, and is to be given the same honor that the Father is given. Ali replied, "Great, this is what a messenger does, this doesn't make him god."

I pointed out to him that a messenger communicates on behalf of someone else. He does not claim to do what someone else does. Muhammad claimed to be a messenger of Allah, not to do what Allah does. In fact, Jesus didn't claim to show the way as a messenger might, but He claimed that He was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). In fact, the same chapter says that the Jews recognized that Jesus was claiming equality with God the Father and tried all the harder to kill him (John 5:18). Ali might disagree with this claim, that Jesus is God, but that is exactly the argument that is being made by this chapter and the rest of the book of John.

Ali pulls verses from their context and refuses to deal with the entire passage. When given evidence from the chapter that contradicts his views, he changes the meanings of words and ridicules what he finds to be unreasonable. Next we will look at Ali's rejection of the Trinity.
The Trinity

It is not surprising that Ali does not understand nor acknowledge the Trinitarian relationship between Jesus and the Father. Surah 4 verse 171 in the Qur'an calls on people of the book, Christians, not to commit excesses in their religion. It claims that Jesus was just a messenger of Allah and His Word, which was given to Mary. It literally tells Christians to "say not Trinity" for Allah is one. It is possible that Muhammad believed that the Trinity consisted of Jesus, the Father, and Mary. He rejected Jesus as the Son of God because he pictured Jesus as a physical offspring from a union of God the Father and Mary. This would commit the ultimate sin in the eyes of Islam, equating a physical thing with God the Creator (shirk). Ali writes, "To say that Jesus is God or Son of God is not only a mockery of Godhood, but blasphemy of the lowest order and an insult to the intelligence of men."

As a result, Ali alternates between denying that the Bible teaches that Jesus is God and ridiculing as illogical the notion the Jesus can be both God and man. He refuses to acknowledge the notion of the Trinity, even when it is the best way to bring together difficult passages. When enough evidence is given that the Bible does teach that Jesus is both God and man, admittedly a difficult concept, Muslims reject the Bible as having been corrupted. They really have no other choice since the Qur'an specifically rejects the Trinity. It literally comes down to either rejecting their prophet Muhammad or accepting the validity and message of the Bible.

An interesting side note to this discussion is that Ali's position is very similar to believers of other religious groups who respect Jesus but reject Christianity. Jehovah's Witnesses claim that the Bible was corrupted following the passing of the apostles, and that they now have its correct interpretation, as do Mormons and the Baha'is, an offshoot of Islam. Mormons claim that their prophet Joseph Smith received their view of Jesus, found in the Book of Mormon, from the angel Moroni. Muhammad claimed to have received the Qur'an from the angel Gabriel. It is obvious that all of these revelations cannot be true as they each give us a very different Jesus. Paul has something to say about these different gospels. He writes to the church in Galatia:

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! (Galatians 1:6-8)

A Difficult Decision

As I mentioned earlier, the outcome of the six-month interchange was neither a conversion, nor even a congenial agree-to-disagree ending. In fact, I ended the dialogue after realizing that continuing the exchange could profit little and that my time might be better spent elsewhere. I must add that this was not an easy decision to make. I wondered whether I had given up too easily or had somehow not communicated adequately the hope that I have in Christ.

However, any hesitation to end the conversation was erased when I received a reply to my note to terminate the exchange. Ali told me that I could not quit. That in fact, he would announce on various web sites that both I and Probe Ministries had nothing to say regarding the reliability of the Bible if I did not respond to his challenges. This confirmed to me that Ali was simply using me to gain access to a larger audience in order to get out his message. He had no interest in a real discussion where ideas are considered and a minimal amount of graciousness exists.

I went back to the Scriptures to see how Jesus handled such people and what He taught His followers to do when they encountered ears that would not hear. In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus told his apostles that, "[I]f any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." The meaning communicated was that those who reject the gospel must now answer for themselves. When the gospel is taught, it brings both judgment and salvation.

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus tells the apostles, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." Dogs and pigs do not signify any specific race or ethnic group. Jesus is teaching that those who have treated the gospel with scorn and clearly rejected the salvation it offers and have been hardened by their contempt are to be avoided.

When Paul and Timothy were opposed by the Jews, who became abusive, the book of Acts (18:5) records, "[H]e shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, 'Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility.'"

I get little pleasure from reading these passages. I wanted to change Ali's mind. However, when I told Ali that I was praying for him, he replied, "Don't preach to me, prove it to me." Given that he had ignored much evidence already, it told me that his ears were closed. However, I will continue to pray that God will soften Ali's heart and that one day he might have ears to hear the Gospel.

©2001 Probe Ministries.

About the Author

Don Closson received the B.S. in education from Southern Illinois University, the M.S. in educational administration from Illinois State University, and the M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He served as a public school teacher and administrator before joining Probe Ministries as a research associate in the field of education. He is the general editor of Kids, Classrooms, and Contemporary Education.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3 1/2 minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:
Probe Ministries
1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 480-0240 FAX (972) 644-9664
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