Death to Afghan Christians

While the newly freed Afghanistan says they respct freedom of religion as long as that religion is Islam. Abdul Rahman converted to Christianity 16 years ago and is in jail facing the death penalty because of it.

Michelle Malkin has full details here and here, including petition drives and embassy contacts to write to encourage the Afghanistan government to save his life.

Abdul Rahman told his family he was a Christian. He told the neighbors, bringing shame upon his home. But then he told the police, and he could no longer be ignored.
Now, in a major test of Afghanistan’s fledgling court system, Rahman, 42, faces the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity. Prosecutors say he should die. So do his family, his jailers, even the judge. Rahman has no lawyer. Jail officials refused to let anyone see Rahman on Monday, despite permission granted by the country’s justice minister.

“We will cut him into little pieces,” said Hosnia Wafayosofi, who works at the jail, as she made a cutting motion with her hands. “There’s no need to see him…”

…Prosecutor Abdul Wasi said Rahman had been told repeatedly to repent and come back to Islam, but Rahman refused. Wasi called Rahman a traitor.

“He is known as a microbe in society, and he should be cut off and removed from the rest of Muslim society and should be killed,” Wasi told the court.

Rahman said he had surrendered himself to God. “I believe in the holy spirit,” he said. “I believe in Christ. And I am a Christian.”

Judge Ansarullah Mawlawizada, who is handling the case, said he normally takes two months to decide on cases. But because this case is so serious, he expected to hold another hearing within the next week and make a decision.

Mawlawizada, who kept Rahman’s green Bible on his desk, said he respected all religions. He emphasized that he did not favor the aggressiveness of the Taliban, who cut the hands and feet off criminals in a soccer stadium. But he said Rahman had to repent.

“If he doesn’t regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him,” the judge said. “And the punishment is death.”

La Shawn Barber puts the whole thing in biblical perspective.

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The Meaning of Christianity

The Houston Chronicle ran an article on Sunday, of all things, about an atheist who does not believe in God but belives Christians are good. He’s joined his local church and claims to be a Christian, all the while denying the existance of God.

I myself think this of a corruption of Christianity from the left; that he’s no more a Christian than I am a turnip. The church has done him a disservice by not requiring a basic acceptance of what Christianity is before admitting him as a member. He may well be a very good person, but that’s not the definition of Christianity. Christianity begins and ends with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. From that point on, the Holy Spirit begins the process of sanctification, a process that the author will never experience.

The pastor and most of the congregation at St. Andrew’s understand my reasons for joining, realizing that I didn’t convert in a theological sense but joined a moral and political community. There’s nothing special about me in this regard — many St. Andrew’s members I’ve talked to are seeking community and a place for spiritual, moral and political engagement. The church is expansive in defining faith; the degree to which members of the congregation believe in God and Christ in traditional terms varies widely. Many do, some don’t, and a whole lot of folks seem to be searching. St. Andrew’s offers a safe space and an exciting atmosphere for that search, in collaboration with others.

Such expansiveness raises questions about the definition of Christian. Many no doubt would reject the idea that such a church is truly Christian and would argue that a belief in the existence of God and the divinity of Christ are minimal requirements for claiming to be a person of Christian faith.

Such a claim implies that an interpretation of the Bible can be cordoned off as truth-beyond-challenge. But what if the Bible is more realistically read symbolically and not literally? What if that’s the case even to the point of seeing Christ’s claim to being the son of God as simply a way of conveying fundamental moral principles? What if the resurrection is metaphor? What if “God” is just the name we give to the mystery that is beyond our ability to comprehend through reason?

In such a conception of faith, an atheist can be a Christian. A Hindu can be a Christian. Anyone can be a Christian, and a Christian can find a connection to other perspectives and be part of other faiths. With such a conception of faith, a real ecumenical spirit and practice is possible. Identification with a religious tradition can become a way to lower barriers between people, not raise them ever higher.

Do you think the church should have admitted him? Do you agree with his claim that he is a Christian?

"Book of Daniel" Cancelled

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Axed because of low ratings, high criticism, and advertisers withdrawing ads.

When the people most upset about the cancellation are gays and lesbians, then there’s little mystery why conservative Christians were offended.

I have an idea: why not produce a Christian series that portrays Christians in a positive light? Say, successfully resisting sin with the help of the Holy Spirit, spreading their faith, going around the world digging water wells for people regardless of the threat to their lives?

When the Holy Spirit Moves You

During a study last night, we studied how to tell the Holy Spirit is moving in a Christian’s life. When the bible doesn’t give us a specific answer to a question in life – what college do I choose, when to have a baby, what career should I begin – listening to the Holy Spirit can reveal the answer.

Trouble is, we often don’t want to listen. To do so means confronting our own self-deceptions, our own pride, and our own sinful desires. Often the best way to tell if you’re not listening to the Holy Spirit is a sense of unease, a discombobulation in your life, that things don’t quite feel right. We have many ways to keep from hearing God’s voice, including unrepentent sin that we don’t want to give up, our own self-will in deciding that we already know and do not need advice from God, or just being impatient and not wanting to wait for an answer.

So how do you intentionally go about looking for guidance from the Holy Spirit? Here’s an exercise that’s worked for me. First, I read Mark 7:21-23,

For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’

Refelct on each one of them. Then get a piece of paper and a pencil. I don’t know why manually writing this down is so powerful, but online in a notepad doesn’t cut it, nor does just thinking about it. Write it down and then ask the following questions from a study called Essential Christianity and then… just wait. Wait for the Holy Spirit to give you guidance.

  • Is there any action or behavior in my life that You want me to stop?
  • Is there any action or behavior You want me to begin?
  • Is there a person I have wronged? If so, how should I approach that person to ask forgiveness?
  • Is there a person who has wronged me I have not yet forgiven?
  • Is there a person You want me to care for, to serve, or to show love? What would You have me do?
  • Is there any sin in my life that I need to confess and change my actions?

Most of the time, we already know what our problem is, we just don’t want to talk about it because we don’t like the fix. But when the Holy Spirit talks to you, He expects a response.

The Abundant Life

Reading a post from a new Christian just sends chills up my spine. The presence of the Holy Spirit is electrifying and contagious. Leslie from The Insomniac has discovered what life is:

An insomniac is constantly on the lookout for mental fodder to loll around in the mind as the wee hours twiddle away. Paradoxes have often fed that need for me. Back & forth, I think of the first half, then the 2nd. Finally I try to hold both repelling attractors together at the same time. It’s hard. Jesus uttered a most tantalizing one when he said this:

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.*

It’s bold. Dashingly simple & deliciously complex: find-lose, lose-find. But find and lose what? Obviously Jesus wasn’t talking about the stuff that keeps your heart pumping. His listeners were not corpses. They had that kind of life. So, what is life?

Read the rest of it, it is marvelous.

Rejoice

I’m looking at today’s “Verse of the Day,” which is a subset of a lesson I’ve recently been studying.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have [a]peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this [b]grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the [c]glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our [d]sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I added [a] through [d] above, which are things that Christians rejoice when they accept Jesus. The first 3 are easier to understand – peace with God, grace of God, glory of God – because they sound like something you’d want to rejoice in.

The fourth is a little harder. We should rejoice in our sufferings? When I receive a new challenge in my life, my first urge is not to rejoice. Yell or cry or smack the neighbor’s cat, maybe. But rejoice?

Yes, rejoice. The challenges teach us patience and perseverence. That builds our character, and that gives us our hope. That stenghtens our faith, and then we are ready for our next challenge.

As Paul tells us, a new challenge tells us that God is working in our lives. Like smelting gold in a fire to remove impurities, God improves our character through suffering.

It would be nice if God can improve our character by giving us a new boat, but that has a tendency to make us spoiled brats instead. Only when every other thought, every other crutch is pulled out from under us, then we realize we must lean on God. It’s the only thing we have; everything else is temporal.

Over at Coffee Swirls last week, Doug discusses something similar in his Where Was God? article about the tsunami last month. Read Doug’s post in light of the verse from Romans above, and realize God is at work in the lives of those affected by the disaster.

There is also a lesson from the chapter of Luke at News for Christians who points out that this same question came up in Jesus’ day.

Just a few thoughts I’ve been mulling over this past week as I’ve considered the tsunami disaster and personal struggles that friends of faith are going through. I thought I’d share with you this morning.