I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.
‘And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.’
‘Hush, child,’ He said,
‘they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d see you
Op-ed submission by Project 21
How did radical Islam become a legitimate threat in sub-Saharan Africa?
Should we care? Perhaps, because one possible reason stretches beyond the African continent. It may eminate from our own houses of worship.
After the recent shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya by the Muslim terrorist group Al Shabaab, counterterrorism experts fear increased collaboration among the growing ranks of religious radicals in Africa operating across borders in vast, poorly-policed regions.
While terrorism experts are concerned with expanding radicalized Islam, my own leadership role in the Christian community has me preoccupied with how historically Christian areas and formerly majority-Christian countries are now under constant threat from al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb.
It’s too soon to declare African Christianity dead, but it’s certainly ailing — and the West is to blame.
Christians went to great lengths to “civilize” Africa, and part and parcel of that process was bringing Christianity to sub-Saharan Africa. But since then, the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. ostensibly have abandoned proselytizing in Africa. Most mainstream Western Christian denominations, in fact, now look with disdain on those still adhering to the very same faith churches once taught.
The Episcopal Church, for example, no longer adheres to the doctrine of the Bible as the inspired word of God. The Western evangelical church in particular proclaims an overly-feminized form of Christianity in which men cannot act as men and women assert a theology that gives them dominion over men. This “enlightened” West no longer honors the God-given roles and distinctions between men and women. Actually, it demonizes them. This is why Christianity lost its appeal in, and it’s hold on, Africa.
The Western church no longer builds up men for the Body of Christ. When the church prefers to place women in masculine roles, while discouraging men, the blessings of God vanish and it creates a vacuum. When the Christian ministry becomes an occupation for those liking pretty buildings and beautiful vestments rather than a vocation to serve God, it’s no wonder serious Christians scoff and look elsewhere.
The Christian church in Africa and around the world has left a gap that Islam is filling.
Men clearly need the civilizing influence of women, but they also must remain men. The church is too involved in a feminizing process. Wanting to love and serve God should not be at the expense of God-given manhood. I am an unapologetic Christian, but I know that nothing in Islam requires or expects men to deny their manhood. Islam does quite the opposite — encouraging separate manhood and womanhood.
Almost 100 years ago, English writer and lay theologian G.K. Chesterton said that most men in his day were reduced to Victorian lapdogs when it came to Christianity. What might he say today? There are now Christians who change the word of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer to “Our Father and Mother who art in heaven” and the nature of Jesus in the Holy Trinity. Is there little wonder why there aren’t more men in church and why men seeking God might turn away from modern Western Christianity?
Why would a man want to be part of a faith in which they are to be seen and never heard? Couple this with the general depiction of Christ as sort of a pansy with well-manicured nails and a perfectly-trimmed beard. It is not is no surprise men are uncomfortable with this, and subsequently are unwilling to become churchmen.
In my lifetime, Ethiopia, one of the most storied Christian nations, took the path of India. Once majority-Christian, it is now divided into Eritrea, which is majority Muslim, and Ethiopia, which may be at least half-Muslim.
If people are genuinely concerned about the spread of Islam and subsequent radicalization, they should consider the Christianity they practice and teach. Pastors no longer proclaim the Gospel, but instead favor of gay marriage or the prevailing populous cause de jure.
Don’t worry about Islam. The imams are doing their job. It’s the pastors and priests who aren’t doing theirs.
Archbishop Council Nedd II, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. He is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church in the United States and the Archbishop of Abu Dhabi.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi
Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning.
He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him.
He asked people for change to buy food – no one in the church gave him change.
He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit in the back.
He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such.
When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation.
“We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation.
The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with all eyes on him.
He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame.
He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”
He then dismissed service until next week.
Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ should be more than just talk. It ought to be a lifestyle that others around you can love about you and share in.
Very informative and interesting article at The Silver People Chronicle.
Recent stand-off-cum-threat by American quack Terry Jones to enflame 200 copies of Koran gave us many lessons. The biggest lesson we got is some Muslims and politicians proved to be mad and awkward thanks to their lush and myopia. For many people in various “Muslim” countries took to the streets to protest the kindling of the Koran.
Jones succeeded in using and abusing goofy Muslims to reach his nugatory goal-fame. So too, he unearthed another anomaly in that many people are idolatrous and blind. For they value a book (material) more than humans, as opposed to spirituality. Refer to the deaths of two demonstarors in Afghanistan or deaths of many people who memorized the whole 114 chapters (Surat) of Koran (Hafidh al Qur’an) in Darfur, Sudan.
One wonders how people could die for something material, the thing that even Muhammad (SAW) himself did not authorize its application and compilation? To know what this means, refer to the genesis of the Koran that was authorized by Caliph Othman. That’s why there are many versions of the same such as Othmanic codex, Othmanic recension, Samarkand codex, Samarkand manuscript and Tashkent Qur’an. Also one can refer to the fact that the Koran was compiled after the death of prophet Muhammad. He left it as scripta defectiva, incomplete and instructed his disciples (Ṣaḥābah ) to memorize it and not to write it as they contrary did.
Interestingly though, many Somalis took to the streets to condemn this stupidity-cum-insanity. One, however, wonders. How can Somalis that have, for long, been hijacked by warlords (they’ve nary demonstrated to condemn), do this?
This reminds me of Sudanese who in 2007 blindly took to the streets to condemn, whilst others wanted the neck of English teacher Gillian Gibbons, simply because she scribed the name Mohammed on a bear toy that she gave as a gift to her student whose name is Mohammed. This act was wrongly and maliciously taken as blasphemy to prophet of Muslims, Mohammed. Many still wonder. When Sudanese were baying for the blood of an innocent teacher with machetes and clubs for the blood of poor Gibbons, they’re protecting Ahmad Harun who was implicated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing genocide in Darfur. It is sad and shameful for Sudanese and Middle East so-called Muslims to not take to the streets condemning Sudanese government that is butchering poor and innocent Darfuris among whom there are many Hafiz. Where does Khartoum get money to run its day-to-day business and financing janjaweed if not the Middle East? Refer to many countries in the region to not sign international instruments or honour and meet their obligations thereby enabling swift movement for Sudanese butcher Omar Bashir as he once boasted when he visited Qatar. Even other Africans are to blame for this. For after warrant to arrest Bashir was issued he was able to visit Egypt, Libya, Eritrea, Kenya, and Ethiopia without being arrested.
More so, how many Muhammads’ are rotting in prisons for committing rape, robbery, drug trafficking, theft and what not? Why don’t those “Muslims” demonstrate to condemn the parents of these criminals with the name Muhammad, for naming them after the prophet? Why didn’t we see these good Muslims demonstrating when US invaded Iraq, where many copies of Koran were burned or destroyed when mosques and homes were bombed? Isn’t demonstrating against the burning of Koran only hypocrisy and shirk?
There is no need for humans to lose or endanger their lives just fighting for something material. Koran is a concept. Nobody can burn or destroy it. Now look. After the dust of the attempt to burn the Koran settled, one Australian lawyer Alex Stewart smoked two pages one from the Koran and another from the bible.
Suppose, were copies of the Koran torched, would the sun fall down or the world come come to an end? Nothing would happen given that those that wanted to torch the Koran used it to get cheap popularity. And indeed, they succeeded in hoodwinking Muslims and politicians who goofed and fell in the trap easily and blindly.
Given that the source of all fracas was the intention of building a memorial mosque at ground zero, this thing should be given much thoughts. Why building the mosque there? To commemorate the terrorists that brought down WTC?
Another madness we witnessed is the torching of American flag that was done by demonstrators. Why should one defend his rights by abusing those of others? If the Koran is holy for Muslims, US flag is the symbol of the nation. It is holy to them too.
Lately I have been reading a number of posts about religion and Christianity in particular. This wasn’t planned as it just so happened that the blogs I frequently read had articles about religion. The more interesting ones were: “True values are never at risk” by MsAfropolitan; “I Chose Not To Have A Religion” at Cry Me An Onion; and “I Love The Culture Of The Black Church” by our own Sis. Anna. I highly recommend that you take the time to read them… it’s great stuff!
Last week Pope Benedict XVI, addressed the British parliament and lamented the marginalization of Christianity in western democratic societies. Now let me preface by stating that I am not Catholic and don’t consider the Pope to be “The Vicar of Christ” here on earth. With that being said, I do admire his intellect. I find his discourses interesting in that he provides an intellectual basis for matters of the soul and by extension Catholic Church doctrine. So when I heard that he discussed the marginalization of Christianity in his speech, I was interested in what he actually had to say (see here).
In discussing the central question of “where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found?”, Pope Benedict states that: “the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.” The main theme of his speech was that ideally, reason and faith are equal partners within the political sphere, each performing its role to compliment each other, with the goal of creating a better society. However, he voices a concern over what he perceives in reality, as the increasing marginalization of religion, especially Christianity, in public life, particularly in the political arena.
I addressed in this previous post: “Walking the narrow path”, some factors why religion is losing it’s influence in western societies. Added to this, specific to the Catholic Church, is the never-ending revelations about it’s sexual abuse of children, plus now we have accusations that the Vatican Bank is involved in money laundering (see here). Although I agree with the ideals of the Pope’s arguments, what he misses is the reality that Christianity is fundamentally for the marginalized and was never meant to occupy the center of the political arena.
Christ proclaimed his message was for those at the margins of society: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free those who are oppressed…” Luke 4:18. When was asked about his political philosophy, Jesus stated: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” Matthew 22:21. When tried by Pilate for treason, he claimed: “My kingdom is not of this world…” John 18:36. Jesus was a political revolutionary in his day because he was apolitical.
Christianity was first moved to the center of political sphere when the Roman Emperor Constantine I embraced it as the official religion of the empire during his reign (312-337 a.d.). The predominance of Catholic doctrine within the political arena of Europe was entrenched during the 11th and 12th centuries. During these periods and throughout history up to the present day, there has always been a tension between official church doctrine, regardless of denomination, which has used Christianity as a political tool for control and exploitation of the masses, and those who wanted to fulfill Christ’s final commission to his followers to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you…” Matthew 28: 19-20. What is this “command”? Simply: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39.
Regardless of what religion you practice and where you practice it, living your life by these 2 commandments will propel you to the margins of today’s society. “You mean I have to love God first… and not myself, nor my intellect… and then second love other people… and again not myself, nor my possessions.” This way of thinking does not conform with today’s secular or religous ideology, particularly when it comes to the exercise of political power.
In contrast to Pope Benedict XVI, I see the marginalization of Christianity in the political process not as a cause for concern, but as a cause for celebration.
“The man who is following a path can never know truth. Truth is not something in the distance; there is no path to it, there is neither your path nor my path; there is no devotional path, there is no path of knowledge or path of action, because truth has no path to it. The moment you have a path to truth, you divide it, because the path is exclusive; and what is exclusive at the very beginning will end in exclusiveness. The man who is following a path can never know truth because he is living in exclusiveness; his means are exclusive, and the means are the end, are not separate from the end. If the means are exclusive, the end is also exclusive. So there is no path to truth, and there are not two truths. Truth is not of the past or the present, it is timeless; the man who quotes the truth of the Buddha, of Shankara, of Christ, or who merely repeats what I am saying, will not find truth, because repetition is not truth. Repetition is a lie.” Krishnamurti
I don’t read a lot of fiction. I’ve decided I do too much “heavy” reading on topics of politics, history, culture, religion etc. So I have made a conscious decision to read more novels as a form of entertainment… to just chill my mind out. I recently finished reading a Christian themed novel titled: “The Last Christian” by David Gregory. It’s the story set in 2088 of an American missionary who emerges from the jungles of Papua New Guinea after 34 years and returns to the U.S. to discover that Christianity has pretty much died out.
It was an easy read but I didn’t find it that captivating. There was one section of the novel though that had a profound impact on me. It was an explanation by a history professor of why Christianity had been practically eradicated from American society in the 21st century. There were 5 primary reasons given.
The first was scientific progress starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, which resulted in the conclusion that no deity was needed to explain the creation and variety of life on earth. The second was the fallout from the culture wars where “conservative” republican politicians used Christianity to force their own moral agendas, on such issues as abortion and homosexuality, onto the public through the legislative process. The third was the backlash against all fundamentalist religious beliefs due to the atrocities and terrorist acts associated with Islamic fundamentalism. The fourth was the rise in the belief that there was neither absolute truth nor absolute morality. Truth and morality is seen as a social construct based on personal experience and/or one’s personal beliefs. The fifth and final reason was that although Christianity professed that once someone accepts Christ as their saviour, they would be transformed by the Holy Spirit into a “better” person, studies actually showed that there was no distinct difference in the behaviour and/or attitudes of Christians and non-Christians when it came to things such as sexual behaviour, divorce rates, opinions on honesty, etc. So American society concluded why adopt a belief system which causes no real change in anyone.
I think Gregory is on to something here and it became a “wake-up” call to me. There is a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on “Religion Among the Millennials”, which found that Americans born after 1980 are considerably less religious than older Americans. I didn’t find this surprising at all, mainly for the 5 reasons stated above. Plus Eurocentric religious dogma in an increasingly multi-cultural, multi-religious and secular society, will lose some, if not most of it’s influence in shaping the attitudes and mores of that society. This in itself is not a bad thing! However, I may not be sure about a lot of things, but there are 2 things I know for sure. One, my beloved Oakland Raiders will not win the Super Bowl this upcoming NFL season and two, Christianity will never die out in the U.S. , especially among African-Americans (another Pew study here).
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14.
What was impressed upon me most by that part of the novel, was that those who profess to be Christians must not only be cognizant of what we do and say, but even most importantly, what we believe. In a multi-cultural, multi-religious and secularized society, there is pressure to walk the “wide” path or submit to the theology of multiple paths, or else you are accused of being narrow-minded, close-minded, weak, ignorant, uneducated, intolerant, bigoted, right-wing or worst of all: “conservative”. As social creatures, we do have an innate fear of rejection, especially from whatever community or group we identify most with. Due to this, I see many Christians conforming their beliefs to the prevailing ideologies of our society, for societal and/or group acceptance as well as to be seen as intelligent, educated and enlightened. But here is the danger, little by little our beliefs become so diluted that the warning of Christ becomes a reality: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be made salty again? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Matthew 5:13
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
First, as Christians we must remember that we weren’t given a “spirit of fear” when we accepted Christ as our saviour. In fact, we were given “the spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. I have no fear of being called names or seen as unintelligent or unenlightened because I believe Jesus is the way, the only “path” to salvation. Those who truly know me, truly accept me. They don’t have to believe what I believe for us to be friends. Second, we need to live our beliefs. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but our lives should be a testimony to the difference in behaviours and attitudes when compared to non-Christians. This doesn’t make us better (or worse), but we are “a peculiar people”. We are to be the salt and a light to the world. Third, always remind ourselves that we were given a spirit of love, not a spirit of judgment. When Jesus spoke about the gate and path being narrow in Matthew 7, he first speaks about not being judgmental. As Christians we must be respectful of other beliefs, whether they be religious, philosophical or unbelief and listen to these other perspectives without judgment. Then dialogue without fear, boldly and unashamedly sharing your belief. It’s not our responsibility, nor within our power, to convince or change someone’s opinions or beliefs. We are called only to share the gospel… point the way to the path of truth.
There have been many people throughout history who have predicted that religion, Christianity in particular, will die out. There are those such as Krishnamurti above who claim that there is no path to truth. They are 100% correct… only if we, Christians, fail to travel along that narrow path of truth and allow our lives to be a testimony to that belief.