All posts by Nadiya

The Johnson Amendment, hopefully to be removed.

 

by Steven Stebenne

The Johnson Amendment wasn’t very controversial when it became law, but it has become more so in recent decades, especially among some of the evangelical churches strongly supportive of the Republican Party. Even so, repeal of the Johnson Amendment was not high on the religious right’s list of legislative objectives in 2016. The impetus for this change appears to have come from Donald Trump himself, in response to his discovery that churches of that kind were inhibited by the law in advocating directly for his election. Like some of Trump’s earlier remarks in other, related areas, advocating for the end of the Johnson Amendment reflects a view of church-state relations that is different from the one the courts have usually embraced since the 1960’s. To President Trump, America is “a nation of believers,” whose free-speech rights ought to be sacrosanct……

 

 What, then, is the real significance of President Trump’s recent statement on this subject? More than anything else, it appears to reflect his determination to signal his administration’s support for religious institutions generally, even if the specific way of doing that doesn’t seem likely to succeed, or, if it does, to produce the outcome he seeks. What Donald Trump appears to want, above all, is to restore the central place of religion in the public sphere, which has seen less of it in recent decades. Finding broadly acceptable ways of accomplishing that goal remains, however, a daunting challenge for him and his supporters. Read the full article

Islam’s view of Jesus

In Islam, Isa ibn Maryam ( ‘Jesus, son of Mary’‎), or Jesus, is understood to be the penultimate prophet and messenger of Allah (God) and al-Masih, the Arabic term for Messiah, the “Christ”, sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā’īl in Arabic) with a new revelation: al-Injīl (Arabic for “the Gospel”). Jesus is believed to be a prophet, who neither married nor had any children, and is reflected as a significant figure, being mentioned in the Quran in 93 ayaat (Arabic for verses) with various titles attached such as “Son of Mary”, “Spirit of God”, and the “Word of God” among other relational terms, directly and indirectly, over 180 times.  In total, Jesus is mentioned 187 times in the Quran as such the most mentioned person with the name Isa mentioned 25 times, in titles mentioned 79 times, in 3rd person  mentioned 48 times, in 1st person  mentioned 35 times.

The Quran (central religious text of Islam) and most Hadith (testimonial reports) mention Jesus to have been born a “pure boy” (without sin) to Mary as the result of virginal conception, similar to the event of the Annunciation in Christianity. In Islamic theology, Jesus is believed to have performed many miracles, several being mentioned in the Quran such as speaking as an infant, healing various ailments like blindness, raising the dead to life, making birds out of clay and breathing life into them.  Over the centuries Islamic writing has referenced other miracles like casting out demons, having borrowed from pre-Islamic sources, some heretical, and from canonical sources as legends were expanded. Like all prophets in Islamic thought, Jesus is also called a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path”.

In Islam, Jesus is believed to have been the precursor to Muhammad, attributing the name Ahmad to someone who would follow Jesus. Islam traditionally teaches the rejection of divinity, that Jesus was not God incarnate, nor the Son of God and, according to some interpretations of the Quran, the Islamic view of Jesus’ death and crucifixion is widely denied and not believed to have occurred.  Despite the earliest Muslim traditions and exegesis quoting somewhat conflicting reports regarding death and length of death, the mainstream Muslim belief is that Jesus didn’t suffer death but was instead raised alive to heaven.

Muslim tradition believes Jesus will return to earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal (“the false messiah”, also known as the Antichrist).            Read full article

Judaism’s view of Jesus

Among followers of Judaism, Jesus is viewed as having been the most influential, and consequently the most damaging, of all false messiahs.  However, since the traditional Jewish belief is that the messiah has not yet come and the Messianic Age is not yet present, the total rejection of Jesus as either messiah or deity has never been a central issue for Judaism.

Judaism has never accepted any of the claimed fulfillments of prophecy that Christianity attributes to Jesus. Judaism also forbids the worship of a person as a form of idolatry, since the central belief of Judaism is the absolute unity and singularity of God.    Jewish eschatology holds that the coming of the Messiah will be associated with a specific series of events that have not yet occurred, including the return of Jews to their homeland and the rebuilding of The Temple, a Messianic Age of peace and understanding during which “the knowledge of God” fills the earth, and since Jews believe that none of these events occurred during the lifetime of Jesus (nor have they occurred afterwards), he is not a candidate for messiah.

Traditional views of Jesus have been mostly negative, although in the Middle Ages Judah Halevi and Maimonides viewed Jesus (like Muhammad) as an important preparatory figure for a future universal ethical monotheism of the Messianic Age. Some modern Jewish thinkers have sympathetically speculated that the historical Jesus may have been closer to Judaism than either the Gospels or traditional Jewish accounts would indicate, starting in the 18th century with the Orthodox Jacob Emden and the reformer Moses Mendelssohn. This view is still espoused by some.

Background

The belief that Jesus is God, the Son of God, or a person of the Trinity, is incompatible with Jewish theology. Jews believe Jesus did not fulfill messianic prophecies that establish the criteria for the coming of the messiah.  Authoritative texts of Judaism reject Jesus as God, Divine Being, intermediary between humans and God, messiah or saint. Belief in the Trinity is also held to be incompatible with Judaism, as are a number of other tenets of Christianity.

In Judaism, the idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical — it is even considered by some polytheistic.  According to Judaic beliefs, the Torah rules out a trinitarian God in Deuteronomy (6:4): “Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”

Judaism teaches that it is heretical for any man to claim to be God, part of God, or the literal son of God. The Jerusalem Talmud (Ta’anit 2:1) states explicitly: “if a man claims to be God, he is a liar.”                                                            Read the full article

 

 

 

The Meaning of Easter

It’s not about the Easter bunny eggs which is a symbol of the empty tomb.easter-egg

It is how Wright explains it in a few words. Jesus resurrection is announcing His Lordship to the entire world and a new creation, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven!. Amen, brother Wright.

In ‘Surprise by Hope’ NT Wright –

Easter has a very this-worldly, present-age meaning.  Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah, and therefore he is the world’s true Lord; Jesus is raised, so God’s new creation has begun—and we, his followers, have a job to do!  Jesus is raised so we must act as his heralds, announcing his lordship to the entire world, making his kingdom come on earth as in heaven!  To be sure, as early as Paul the resurrection of Jesus is firmly linked to the final resurrection of all God’s people.

The challenge is in fact the challenge of new creation.  To put it at its most basic:  the resurrection of Jesus offers itself, to the student of history or science no less than the Christian or the theologian: not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be.  It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of the new world.  The claim advanced in Christianity is of that magnitude:  Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply new ethic or a new way of salvation, but a new creation.

The Parable of the Sower

This particular parable intrigues me because the four grounds the seeds fell on describe how Christians reap the Word that were sown to them.  If the Word is Christ and he was at one time sown into our lives, we must ask how does He fit into our lives today?

Jesus explained to the large crowd – 

14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:14-20)

It is never too late to get on the good soil, and to advance the Kingdom on a ground where it can bear much fruit.  Our Lord is giving us this opportunity now!!

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matt 7:24) 

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  (Matt 7:26)

Christian Zionism

Start your investigation into the promoted religion of Christian Zionism by watching our compelling, 32 minute documentary:

What is Christian Zionism

 

 

This largely political activity is a lifelong work of discovery by the founders of We Hold These Truths. Christian Zionism is confusing because it masquerades as a faith. We may have been the first to define Christian Zionism as: “the belief that the present day State of Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical prophesy. ”As such, Israel has assumed a semi-god status in the minds of some 50 million or more professing Christians.

 

 

Israel Is Walling Off Bethlehem, The Birth Place of Jesus

Millions of American Christians are unaware of the plight of the city of Bethlehem and its Palestinian inhabitants in the West Bank of Palestine. The Israeli built separation wall snakes its way around Bethlehem, even cutting off Palestinians from their own land and nearby Jerusalem. This story is courageously told by Palestinian filmmaker, Leila Sansour in her Open, Bethlehem documentary that is part of a campaign to educate her fellow Christians and the world about the stranglehold by Israel that is slowly causing Palestinian Christians to leave the Holy Land because of the hardships imposed by the military occupation.

To increase the awareness of what is happening to Bethlehem, a Bethlehem Passport is being issued by the OPEN, BETHLEHEM campaign in partnership with the Governorate of Bethlehem.  So far, the passport has been granted to more than 500 people around the world, including church leaders and heads of states, such as Archbishop Rowan Williams, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter. The passport states: “In that the bearer of this passport is a citizen of Bethlehem; that they recognize this ancient city provides a light to the world, and to all people who uphold the values of a just and open society; that they will remain a true friend to Bethlehem through its imprisonment, and that they will strive to keep the ideals of Bethlehem alive as long as the wall stands; we ask you to respect the bearer of the passport and to let them pass freely.”More on this article