Coexist

I’m not sure what the artist who created this sticker had in mind. If his point is to call (command? Gasp!) upon people who hold these differing worldviews to get along, who can argue with that?

Hopefully our artist realizes that this is nothing new. In fact in the Gospels, Jesus ups the ante by commanding us to love God and to love our neighbor. Of course, “neighbor” encompasses unregenerate people of any stripe (Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, etc).

However if his point is that these worldviews are ultimately reconcilable (let us not forget that the same Jesus who told us to love God and our neighbor firmly stated this), then I’m afraid he is sadly mistaken and tragically anachronistic in the sense of extrapolating current moods to older traditions. As noted Christians apologist Ravi Zacharias said,

Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.

Whatever the artist’s motivation, this story might be an example of my first speculation:
Fighting for their whiskers

The story is about the D.C. Fire Department making their firefighters shave their beards. However there are Christian, Jewish and Muslim firefighters that for religious reasons will keep theirs. In a sense they are banding together to keep their fuzz.

What better way to Coexist than standing up for beards?

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Moses was High on Mount Sinai?

According to this story,
“‘Moses was high on hallucinogenic drug when he received Ten Commandments,’ claims top academic”

Moses was high when he saw the burning bush as well as when he received the Ten Commandments.

Check out the story to read the details according to Dr. Benny Shannon, a psychology professor, who came up with this theory.

I wonder if the good doctor will reach (has reached?) the same conclusion in regards to Muhammad claiming to have been visited by Jibril at Hira? And if he does (did), will he make his “studies” public?

If the Muhammad cartoon and teddy bear debacles are any indication, I wouldn’t count on it…

Peace Village: More Interfaith Confusion

We believe that all religions are basically the same –
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God and salvation. — from Steve Turner’s “Creed”

Many Christians are angered or disturbed by so-called Interfaith groups. Anger isn’t really an emotion that bubbles up within me when I read about these kind of well-intentioned groups (truly the quip about the road to hell surely applies here).

Confusion is probably what besets me when I read about these types of efforts (previously blogged about it here).

After reading a related article in the Houston Chronicle’s Religion section, I was again puzzled.

“Bound by the Golden Rule”

The story is about a woman, Janie Stevens, who has brought something called “Peace Village” to Houston in order to,

“It helps Christians of all ages learn about their fellow human beings on Earth, within the context of their faith,” she said. “It has been a real eye-opener to see how we all have prayer lives of one form or another and we all acknowledge a higher being.”

Well and good, I for one don’t mind learning about other beliefs. It is somewhat enlightening and astonishing how humans utilize their imagination to worship everything and anything instead of the Living God.

I’m not sure if Stevens’ venture seeks to pretend that these different faiths are all the same and they worship the same god.

Anyone familiar with any of the major world religions can see that as Turner points out in his poem they differ vastly on the important stuff. That there are threads of commonality is beyond dispute but this does not mean that they are the same.

Though this seems to be espoused by a Christian Reverend quoted in the article,

“It’s a wonderful depiction of the major world religions,” said the Rev. Gary H. Jones, director of chaplaincy services for St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Care System. “What I saw as the thread is a way of blessing people — the many ways of blessings, of calling for prayer and calling God in times of need.”

I wonder what Rev. Jones makes of Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman,

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Torah and Wahhabism

Saw the following headline at the Drudge Report,
“Saudi punishes gang rape victim with 200 lashes”

As I read the story my Western mind was taken aback by some of what I was reading,

The 19-year-old woman — whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms — was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for “being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape,” the Arab News reported.

The story reports that the 90 lashes became 200 because,

the judges had decided to punish the woman further for “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

As much as I wanted to cast judgment on the policies of the Saudi government (whether or not it is warranted is another issue), I remembered something from the Old Testament.

More specifically in the Torah, that is the Law of Moses. To narrow it down even further, in the book of Deuteronomy (22:23-25),

If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her,

then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die.

I write this post understanding that this type of text is fodder for those who shake their fist at God and dismiss Him as some bloodthirsty tyrant (at best) or a non-entity (at worst). Context is typically ignored when one is content to wallow in the mire of unbelief.

However, if we can move past the realm of emotionalism for a bit, is there a difference between what the Saudi government did in this case and what is written in the Torah?

Why God, Why?

This question has been asked by many people who find themselves in a variety of circumstances.

Usually the question is asked when things go completely south in this stage we call our world.

Curiously enough, the question is hardly asked when things are going well.

Admittedly, it is sometimes asked under irreverent conditions, for example, by a Red Sox fan watching that dribbler treat Billy Buckner like a Roman arch.

In other instances, the question is legit as in the death of a child or in the aftermath of a particularly gruesome infamy (the Holocaust) or even natural disaster (the tsunami which hit Thailand back in ’05).

I don’t intend to fully explore the intricacies of what is often referred to as the “problem of evil” or “the problem of pain” [I think CS Lewis did a more than adequate job in his aptly titled tome, “The Problem of Pain”, so for a treatise check it out].

Of course for a concise answer to this so-called eternal question, click here or here.

I bring this up because recently through an interesting set of ahem, “circumstances”, I found myself at the book written by the prophet Habakkuk (circa 605 B.C).

The book is basically a dialogue between the prophet and God. In the first 2 chapters, Habakkuk argues with God because God’s ways seem unjust to the prophet. It seems like it’s the story of a man trying to comprehend the ways of God, Habakkuk was not the first and well, he is definitely not the last.

The first 4 verses of this book consists of Habakkuk’s first complaint.

The prophet basically asks the question that crowns this post. Of course, not in those exact words but the idea is clear,

The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

The answer LORD gives is stunning, but I’ll save that for a later post (Of course nothing is preventing you from checking it out).

Katy Interfaith Group sends Confusing Message

Personally, I’m not really down with interfaith groups if what said groups are trying to do is pretend that their respective convictions can all be true and are equally valid.

I suppose the only good reason for a Christian to join such a group would be in obedience to the Great Commission.

Obviously Islam, Judaism and Christianity have some things in common, mainly the belief in One God (as to His Nature ask a Muslim or a Jew what He thinks of God becoming man).

However, clearly where Islam and the latter 2 split is on which son of Abraham received the blessings of the firstborn. Islam asserts that the blessings went to Ishmael, while Judaism (and thus Christianity, since Christianity completes Judaism) correctly asserts that the son of the promise is Isaac.

Judaism and Christianity split on the person of Jesus Christ, whom Christians are convinced is Judaism’s long awaited Messiah and God Incarnate (something unspeakably blasphemous to the Muslim and Jewish ear, who says these 2 don’t have anything in common?)

Obviously, anyone who says that these 3 are all true needs to, at the very least, mix in a course or two on logic.

This being said, in the Houston suburb of Katy a so-called interfaith group was revived earlier this year. If I remember correctly this was done in response to the infamous pig races a local citizen held to protest the building of a mosque near his property (blogged about it here and here).

A recently written article about said group raises some questions,

“One thing that’s important about the way we put this together is that we not only want the diversity of three major faiths but we want diversity within those three major faiths,” he said. “We’re trying to communicate that none of them are monolithic.”

“He” being the Rev. David Hargrave, pastor of First Christian Church in Katy, and the “three major faiths” being Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Later on in the story,

Hargrave said leaders of other faiths, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, will continue to be recruited.

I wonder how Buddhist and Hindu leaders will react to Hargrave’s mention of “those three major faiths.”?

Is Ann Coulter Really Anti-Semitic?

Ann Coulter (who’s a Gentile) is catching some major heat for some comments she made regarding Jews.

She’s being called all sorts of uncharitable names, and her comments have drawn the “anti-semitic” and “hateful” labels,
“Coulter draws fire over remarks about Jews”

What is it that she said to deserve this? According to the above article,

Conservative author Ann Coulter finds herself in the middle of a firestorm once again after remarks on a CNBC television show in which she said Jews need “to be perfected” and suggested the nation would be better off if it were all-Christian.

Dennis Prager, who is Jewish, wrote a column which offers up an opinion on all this from a rational Jewish perspective
Ann Coulter Wants Jews to Become Christian — So What?

What was interesting to me was something I read in the Jewish New Testament Commentary by Dr. David H. Stern:

To suppose that one can trust in God without trusting in Yeshua and His atoning death is to trust only in the god of one’s imagination and not in the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov (p.367).

Yeshua, of course, is known to the most of us as Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be the Son of God.

Now, Dr. Stern is Jewish and his words are far “stronger” than what Coulter said, so does that make Stern anti-Semitic? If one is to label Stern’s words as hateful towards Jews and even Muslims, then one has to apply the same label to another Jew, Jesus, who said,

if you knew Me, you would know My Father also. — John 8:19

Here’s another quote from yet another Jew, the Apostle John,

Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. — 1 John 2:23

Is John anti-Semitic? I suppose that would be a question to pose to alarmists like Leonard Pitts and Tim Rutten. It might be good to point these guys to books like,“Christianity is Jewish” by Edith Schaeffer

Not to mention the Bible, perhaps the most “anti-Semitic” book known to man.