The headlines are full of the violent reprisals of the defenders of Muhammad.
David Mathis asks, “what, then, does it mean when Muhammad’s followers begrudge him the kinds of mockery Jesus embraced, and taught his followers to likewise embrace?“
In a briefly and timely article, which gleans from the wisdom of John Piper’s writings, Mathis reminds us of a deep — and beautiful — difference between Jesus and Muhammad: Jesus definitely intended to be mocked, humiliated — and killed.
Jesus is unique. And Christians believe there is a divine beauty in the mocking that he willingly subjects himself to by becoming man — because it’s a mocking and reviling and bruising and dying that is for us and for our salvation.
There is also significance to our (non-violent) response when our Savior is despised: “Jesus’s uniqueness and beauty is on display if his followers respond with grace when he is reviled.”
Dr Al Mohler, a smart and solid theologian has a few comments on yoga to stir up your gray matter! Today his blog article is: The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga? What engages me is not yoga itself, but Mohler’s assertion that many Christians do not think through their actions and choices with yoga because it has simply become mainstreamed in American culture. If something is widely viewed in our culture as ‘innocent’ or has no spiritual-strings attached, does that give Christians a green light to participate?
Here is one excerpt that caught my eye.
…To a remarkable degree, the growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture. Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding. Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God — an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation — not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.
Nevertheless, a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.
Here are his concluding paragraphs…
When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness.
There is nothing wrong with physical exercise, and yoga positions in themselves are not the main issue. But these positions are teaching postures with a spiritual purpose. Consider this — if you have to meditate intensely in order to achieve or to maintain a physical posture, it is no longer merely a physical posture.
The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. Stefanie Syman is telling us something important when she writes that yoga “has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country.” Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?
While the mainstream media spotlights Tiger Woods’ affairs and troubles, and while others “throw stones” here is Fox News commentator, and professing Christian, BRIT HUMEdiscussing his advice to Tiger: flee to Christ for forgiveness. The video clip is HERE at YouTube.
(Thanks to follow blogger Russ Gaippe for pointing me to this).
An email today from H.B London Jr (of Focus on the Family) included the following notes — sad but true….
Halloween has become a major unofficial American holiday. Researchers at Hallmark Cards report that 65 percent of us decorate our homes and offices for the annual event. It is second only to Christmas in retail spending at about $5 billion, and it is the third biggest party day of the year in the U.S.
The treat ends there for many thoughtful Christians, however, who understand a very troubling reality. Halloween is the high holy day for real witches and pagans, not just a night of “pretend.” Several hundred thousand American pagans, Druids, and witches celebrate Halloween as a holy day called Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) or Shadowfest, a 2,000-year-old Celtic festival held to honor Samhain, the lord of earth. Pagans considered it to be the end of “life” (summer) and the beginning of “death” (winter).
Although today’s pagans don’t roam in black or bloody garb, snatching children, they nevertheless gather to sing ritual songs and chant ancient prayers, most of which were condemned by the early Christian church. Some still put out food offerings for the dead.
Halloween is still the primary festival celebrated by those who follow Satan, but most of our culture has absorbed the festival by embracing its supposedly innocent customs. In fact, modern witches, warlocks, pagans, and Satanists have long used the holiday as a “hook” to present their belief system as a fascinating, even benevolent religious alternative.
Certainly, for Christians to shun Halloween and other pagan practices is to swim against the cultural tide. But redirecting Halloween celebrations for our children and ourselves is one of the easier ways we can take a quiet stand.
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft” (Deut. 18:10).
It seems to me there is public pressure to respect (and tolerate) just about everyone and everything. In recent headlines the Roman Catholic Pope was being challenged to declare some “respect” for Islam — a worldwide religion, but a false religion. In an online article, Dr Al Mohler discusses this.
Let me raise the question here for individual Christians: should we ‘respect’ Islam — or how should we properly respond to Muslims? Here is an excerpt from Dr Mohler that I find most helpful….
In this light, any belief system that pulls persons away from the Gospel of Christ, denies and subverts Christian truth, and blinds sinners from seeing Christ as the only hope of salvation is, by biblical definition, a way that leads to destruction. Islam, like every other rival to the Christian gospel, takes persons captive and is devoid of genuine hope for salvation.
Thus, evangelical Christians may respect the sincerity with which Muslims hold their beliefs, but we cannot respect the beliefs themselves. We can respect Muslim people for their contributions to human welfare, scholarship, and culture. We can respect the brilliance of Muslim scholarship in the medieval era and the wonders of Islamic art and architecture. But we cannot respect a belief system that denies the truth of the gospel, insists that Jesus was not God’s Son, and takes millions of souls captive.
I’m so thankful for Dr Al Mohler, and the clarity of his writing and thinking (and the abundance of it). If you do not check his online postings — especially to gain a biblical view of news and events — you should.
When a country’s fertility rate drops below 2.11 children per family, it can no longer sustain the present population, and it will shrink. That is, if 2 parents only have 1 child (which is almost the norm in many countries in the western world), the next generation is drastically smaller, and is statistically unlikely to recover. This means there are (and will be for decades to come) fewer laborers in that country’s economy. Today, in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and even the UK, their shrinking workforce has attracted lots of immigration — primarily from Muslim countries. While this helps the workforce (but drains money out of the country), it also radically shifts the country’s social and religious situation. (Do you remember the head-scarf issue in France a year or two back? Or talk in Britain about accepting Sharia law?).
There are reports that in 2004, 18% of the children born in Germany had foreign-born mothers (that’s nearly 1/5th). And Germany’s government foresees that by 2050 it will be a Muslim state!
As Christians we should be concerned, but also prayerfully committed to:
(a) diligently raising our children in the Christian faith, preparing them for this changing world, and, (b) specifically evangelizing the 100,000+ immigrants who come to these Western countries — seizing this huge opportunity to reach them while away from their closed home countries.
May the Lord lead us in our thinking, planning and serving the cause of Christ, in this generation and the next… pdb
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
— 2 Timothy 3:1–5
How have you heard the label “people of faith” used? We heard it a lot in the post–9/11 calls to community prayer services, etc. Now we hear it in the political realm as though all people of faith should all fall into ranks behind one policy or candidate!