Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christ on the American Road

Last year when I wrote the post Can Muslims Follow the Biblical Christ and still be Muslim?, about four people, all of them missionaries, wrote me and told me that I had to read Paul Gordon Chandler's Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road. I did. It's every bit as good as what I heard, though the book led me to raise a different set of questions than the ones that drove me to read it in the first place. Call it an unintended consequence, but after reading Chandler's soul-stirring account of Mazhar Mallouhi, the Syrian novelist who started his life as a Muslim, then converted to Christianity as a soldier in Gaza, and now calls himself a Sufi Muslim follower of Christ, I found myself caring less about what Christ looks like on the Muslim road and more about what Christ might look like on the American road.

Mazhar Mallouhi is a fascinating person indeed. After he renounced his Islamic culture and converted to Christianity, he found himself in the same position that many Muslim-background believers find themselves in--alone in both worlds. In order to fit in to the Arab Christian world, Mallouhi had to prove his "Christian" credentials by bashing Muhammad and despising all things Islam. Arab Christians expected him to change his name to a "Christian" name, use "Christian" greetings, and dress like a "Christian"--erasing all traces of Islam from his cultural heritage. To make the long story short, Mallouhi underwent a profound identity crisis that eventually led him to the realization that he doesn't have to abandon his Islamic culture, nor does he have to call himself a "Christian" to be an authentic follower of Christ. Mallouhi realized that he could present a Middle Eastern face to Christ through his life, his ministry, and his writings.

While his life over the past few decades reads like that of a modern day Apostle Paul, complete with persecutions, imprisonments, and deportations, it's Mallouhi's writings that have captured the heart of the Muslim world. In the Arab world, Mallouhi's novels have been compared to the likes of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. With grace and sensitivity, Mazhar Malloui has introduced millions of Arab Muslims to Christ--all through legal distribution channels. Lo and behold, who's the individual that inspired Mazhar Malloui to dedicate his life to Christ? Gandhi.

Forgive me for being a little too honest, but here's what I was thinking as I read Chandler's book. "Great! Now I have yet another reason to look to someone like Gandhi as a role model for how to follow Christ. Not only did Gandhi change India and inspire Martin Luther King, he also influenced a guy to reach millions for Christ by becoming an Arab Dostoevsky! Gandhi presented an Indian face of Christ to India. Mallouhi has presented an Arab face of Christ to the Middle East. Who's presenting an American face of Christ to America?"

Seriously. This is really bugging me. How can a guy like me, a guy who eats at Taco Bell, watches American Idol, and ocassionally yells at his kids, how can a guy like me truly follow Christ on the American Road like some of the world's greatest luminaries have followed Christ on their roads? When Gandhi threatened to fast until his death, Hindus and Muslims stopped killing each other. If I did that...well...I would die. If Jesus wanted to walk the American road through me, what would that look like? Would he want me to speak out against a grave injustice, or perhaps write a soul stirring novel? Would he have me visit a homeless shelter or comfort a person dying of Aids? I don't know, but now that a new year is approaching, I think now is the time to start asking these quetions.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Here's what's really going on in Palestine

I found this link a gripping story of a leader in the Palestinian non-violence movement. Yes, there is such a thing as a non-violence movement among Palestinians.

Here is how they are treated.

Read and weep

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What does God think of economic equality?

In American evangelical circles, there's an idea that goes something like this: progressive taxation = socialism and socialism=satanic. Never mind the fact that both Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith (the founder of modern capitalism) favored progressive taxation, I'm wondering where we got the idea that political structures aiming for economic equality--or at least some semblance of economic equality--is a bad thing?

One of the reasons that many evangelicals believe the Apostles never attacked the institution of slavery directly is because they wanted slavery to lose its grip in the community of the church first so that society would eventually follow suit. Might the same principle also apply to economic equality? We know that early Christians in the Book of Acts practiced a form of voluntary socialism, but how much have we pondered what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:13-14?

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality…” (italics emphasis mine)

I think it’s a devastating indictment on the way things are today that we don’t even aim for this in our churches…but I digress. Here’s my question. If God’s vision for the Body of Christ is economic equality, then what does that say about God’s vision for society at large?

Think about it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Not voting" as an act of prophetic resistance

Last week someone gave me a CD of a sermon by Lou Engle, a well-known charismatic preacher who's also a leader in the "Apostolic and Prophetic" movement. The sermon was entitled "Voting as an act of divine governance." I was so impressed by the title that I thought I should make the title of my rebuttal sound equally spiritual. If voting can be an act of "divine governance", then certainly not voting can be an act of "prophetic resistance." If I ever get to interact with Engle or any other leader of the "Apostolic and Prophetic" crowd, I wonder if my not-so-subtle attempts to co-opt their language would make them more likely to hear me out?

Sarcasm aside, I was deeply troubled in my spirit as I listened to the sermon. While I appreciate the fact that Lou Engle mobilizes tens of thousands of young people every year to pray for spiritual awakening in America, I often wonder if the prayers are misdirected. The underlying assumption is that if God were to answer our prayers, then we would be the ones with all the political power. The "we" by the way is very specific. It means "pro-life, anti-gay marriage" Christians. And the "pro-life", as you probably know, does not mean pro-life after the womb. It only means pro-life before the womb. You'll never ever ever ever ever hear these guys speaking out against innocent civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of U.S. foreign policy. They also actively promote the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Now I guarantee you that they would tell you otherwise (after all, who wants to say they support ethnic cleansing?), but the reality is that every time a U.S. president asks the Israeli government to halt the expansion of Jew-only settlements--settlements built on home demolitions and private property land confiscations--they scream bloody murder.

For my friends that think of themselves as progressive evangelicals, if you think I'm writing this to make us all feel smug in our supposedly enlightened views of a "consistent ethic of life." Think again. Lou Engle did say something that got me thinking, and thinking hard. He said that if you knowingly vote for someone that sanctions murder, then you're just as guilty as the person you voted for. In the context of the sermon, Engle was saying that Christians have a kingdom duty to vote for anti-abortion candidates. Not voting is simply not an option in Engle's worldview. But the more that I listened to what he was saying, the more I felt that Engle was actually making the case for not voting.

I'll admit. I think of myself as sorta kinda "progressive" in my political views. A lot of evangelicals that think like me were appalled at the lack of respect for human rights demonstrated during the Bush Administration. We saw the hell and destruction unleashed on the Iraqi people. We saw Abu Graib, Gitmo, waterboarding, the Patriot Act, extraordinary renditions, the supporting of totalitarian regimes, and we concluded that it would be hypocritical to call ourselves "pro-life" and then turn around and vote for someone who supported things like torture and pre-emptive war. We justified voting for Obama, even though he was "pro-choice", because we honestly believed that from a human rights perspective he was the lesser of two evils.

Now that we know that Obama has continued many of the Bush policies, and in some cases has increased them (as in the case of drone attacks killing civilians), can we really say that we support a "consistent ethic of life" and cast a vote for Barack Obama in 2012? Might we be guilty of the same hypocrisy we accuse the other side of? I realize that one key difference is that most of us that voted for Obama weren't deluding ourselves into thinking that our vote was an act of "divine governance." But still, even if we recognize that our vote has absolutely zero to do with expanding God's kingdom on earth (after all, the Kingdom of God as revealed in Jesus is a non-coercive kingdom) voting is never morally neutral. So, thank you Mr. Engle. I may not vote in this next election because of you. May God lead us all to follow the dictates of our conscience in 2012.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Matthew's Mad Men

Dorothy is an excellent Bible teacher that I trust and respect. She taught me how to "dig for treasures" in the simple stories of the Bible. Here is an example of us digging together in our latest e-mail exchange:


I've been thinking about a story found in Matthew 8:28-34.

In the story, Jesus heals two demon possessed men. The demons ask Jesus to permit them to go into the herd of swine. Jesus says "go" and the herd ran violently down the steep place and perished in the sea. Those who kept the swine fled, told everyone in the city what happened, including what happened to the two men, and the WHOLE CITY begged Jesus to depart from their region.

Here's what I've been thinking about. I want to know if you think that I'm reading too much into the story or if my observations are ACTUALLY IN the story?

Doesn't it seem odd to you that Jesus would allow an entire herd of swine to perish to heal just two men? I mean, didn't people's livelihood depend on those swine? It seems that Jesus was willing to sacrifice another person's livelihood, or at the very least, short term profit to heal two men that would have been at the very bottom of the rung in society.

Is there a message here that people are more important than profit?

If I'm on the right track with this story, then what does this story tell us about how SOCIETY treats the least of these? At the end of the story, the WHOLE CITY comes out to beg Jesus to depart from their region. The people in the city had a choice, but it seems that they put their economic well-being ahead of the two men at the bottom of the rung.

So what might this story say to business owners, or political leaders? Could this story actually be teaching us that Jesus puts a priority on the poor and the outcast over the economic well-being of the business class?

I'd love to hear your insights.


Dorothy's Response:


I see and agree with your observations and your applications. There is a ton of treasure in this story

Ok. let's kick it up a notch and view just a few!

I think I just saw some things. To get there, it helps me to understand that aspect of the story to know that the city of Gadera was maybe 8 miles inland from the Sea of Galilee, on the East side Jordan and the inhabitants were not Jews, they were Greeks. (Put in the introduction as it is in the Bible, well the "Greek" info maybe not.)


Yes Jesus took away their livelihood, so your obs-apps work, but also....

What were swine to Jews and where did that belief come from? (put in intro)

Wow! What had these keepers of the swine, these Gaderans, non-Jews just seen that day?
Do you see any part of what they had seen being deniable? What do you see there, as to what kinds of activity Jesus had been involved there?

Who all saw what Jesus did?
When they saw, what did they choose to do?
I am thinking, what other choices could they have made?

Also who did these amazing feats?
Do we know if anyone else been able to cure the two "crazy" men?
What had those crazy man been consigned to and were the locals affected in any way?
How do you see Jesus treat the crazy men?
Is it possible that Jesus' treat of the men can that show us anything about Jesus?

What other ways might Jesus have responded to the demons' request?
Is it possible that what Jesus did with the demons can show us anything?, maybe multiple anythings!

Could what Jesus did have sent any messages to the Gaderens?
I wonder? Could Jesus' actions indicate any positive interest in the Gadarenes?

Who all saw these activities and decisions that day. Impact on each?

Just thoughts


Has anything in this exchange pricked your thinking regarding this story?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Obama the most anti-Israel president in history?

Okay, this is just looney. Here's the latest e-mail I received from my good friends at the ACLJ.

Dear Aaron,

President Obama has talked about ''unwavering'' support for Israel, but we're seeing something quite different. As Congressman Mike Pence correctly put it, ''This Administration has become the most anti-Israel Administration in American history.''

It is imperative that we - as a country and as individuals - never falter in our support of the State of Israel.

As you know, we are at the International Criminal Court this week to defend Israel's right to sovereignty and the right of every free nation to defend itself from terrorists. The impact of this case is global. And now, more than ever, it's clear that we have a distinct and special role in standing with the nation of Israel and its people.

I urge you to read Jordan's latest online Washington Post article, ''Why Christian Conservatives are Israel's Ambassadors.'' It explores this critical issue and explains why the American Center for Law and Justice is so focused on protecting Israel and its future.

Once you read the article, please post a comment about why you support Israel at the Washington Post website.

I am truly grateful for you and other committed ACLJ members who have stood, and continue to stand, alongside us in support of Israel and its people.

As one of America's greatest and most trusted allies, Israel represents what we in this nation cherish most - democracy, freedom, and sovereignty.

Seriously Mr. Sekulow? Obama is the most anti-Israel president in history? Would you like to back that up please? Because last time I checked, Obama has increased military aid to Israel, increased intelligence cooperation with Israel on Iran, and strengthened trade relations between our two countries.

Gullible people are going to believe you.


Because the president's name is Barack Hussein Obama.

For an excellent article on Obama's support for Israel, click here!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Thinking about the Kingdom

Not getting much sleep these days. Wondering if I'll ever get to sleep through the night again. I've heard that having small children changes your life. Consider that confirmed. So what's been going on in my sleepless head? Been thinking about the Kingdom. You know, the one that Jesus talked about? The one that's not supposed to be of this world? What exactly is the Kingdom of God?

For many, the Kingdom of God is an inward spiritual condition, the joy and peace that transcends circumstances. There's some Biblical justification for this, as Paul says, "The Kingdom of God isn't eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17) But is an inward spiritual condition all that the kingdom represents? After all, I've met some pretty joyful and peaceful Buddhists over the years. While I'm certainly happy for people that find joy and peace through whatever faith tradition or philosophy that helps them get through life, Jesus seemed to think that He was the only one qualified to reveal the nature of the Kingdom to the world. While it may be fashionable to put Jesus on par with other philosophers and religious leaders, Jesus didn't leave a whole lot of wiggle-room for competitors when He said things like, "All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27).

For others, the Kingdom of God is a set of moral and ethical principles designed to help people get along and to restore what is broken in our world. In this view, the Kingdom of God is good news for everyone because it transcends religious distinctions. This also carries a grain of truth. If I as a follower of Jesus decide to make the Sermon on the Mount the moral foundation of my life, that's good news for my Muslim neighbor, Buddhist neighbor, Hindu neighbor, and non-religious neighbor as well. So when the Kingdom of God is in operation, it's good news not just for people that call themselves Christians, but for people of all faiths. And, of course, it's also true that when people of other faiths follow the teachings of Jesus, whether consciously or unconsciously, everyone benefits.

Still, Jesus walked around like He owned the Kingdom. He said My Kingdom is not of this world. So while I respect people that decide to live virtuous lives based on their philosophy or faith tradition, it makes sense that only that which is done in Jesus' name can rightly be called the Kingdom, at least in the Biblical sense of the word. So the real question is, when Jesus announced the Kingdom of God, what might that have meant to His Jewish listeners?

Now I think we're getting somewhere. I was reading the Book of Daniel the other day. Daniel prophesied to the King of Nebuchadnezzar that his empire would be the first of four great empires, and that at some point during the fourth empire, a new Kingdom made not with hands would arise that would crush all remaining Kingdoms (Daniel 2:44). The Jews would have certainly known that the Roman Empire was the fourth great empire that Daniel prophesied about, so they must have been looking for someone that fit the following description:

"I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).

So when Jesus walked around calling Himself the Son of Man and talking about His Kingdom not being of this world, He was essentially telling His Jewish audience, "Remember the prophecies of old? They're talking about me! I'm the one you've read about that's going to take over the planet and crush the world's Kingdoms. Follow me."

Sometimes I think we forget that the Kingdom of God is about a real King with a real domain with real citizens. So my question is, how does understanding the Jewish context of the Kingdom of God help us understand the nature of Jesus and His mission? I'm sure it must have been a shock that the long-awaited King acted more like a slave than a King, which is probably why a lot of people rejected Jesus and His claims, so what do we make of the earth shattering Kingdom prophesied in Daniel? Perhaps more importantly, how should believers in Jesus relate to existing earthly Kingdoms in light of the fact that we serve a King that seems more interested in "crushing" and "consuming" earthly kingdoms (Daniel 2:44)--than fixing them?


Friday, October 08, 2010

Moderate Muslims speak out for freedom of speech

So why don't moderate Muslims speak out? I get this question all the time. The answer is they are, but the problem is they don't get the same media attention that the suicide bombers, acid throwers, and church burners get.

Here's a statement from prominent Muslims that clearly renounces any and all violence against people exercising their rights to freedom of speech:

Posted Sep 21, 2010

We, the undersigned, unconditionally condemn any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.
We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation.

We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims. We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.

We affirm the right of free speech for Molly Norris, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and all others including ourselves.
As Muslims, we must set an example of justice, patience, tolerance, respect, and forgiveness.
The Qur’an enjoins Muslims to:
* bear witness to Islam through our good example (2:143); 
* restrain anger and pardon people (3:133-134 and 24:22); 
* remain patient in adversity (3186); 
* stand firmly for justice (4:135); 
* not let the hatred of others swerve us from justice (5:8); 
* respect the sanctity of life (5:32); 
* turn away from those who mock Islam (6:68 and 28:55); 
* hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant (7:199); 
* restrain ourselves from rash responses (16:125-128); 
* pass by worthless talk with dignity (25:72); and
* repel evil with what is better (41:34).
Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of both hateful speech and hateful acts, but always within the boundaries of the law. It is of the utmost importance that we react, not out of reflexive emotion, but with dignity and intelligence, in accordance with both our religious precepts and the laws of our country.

We uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Both protect freedom of religion and speech, because both protections are fundamental to defending minorities from the whims of the majority.

We therefore call on all Muslims in the United States, Canada and abroad to refrain from violence. We should see the challenges we face today as an opportunity to sideline the voices of hate—not reward them with further attention—by engaging our communities in constructive dialogue about the true principles of Islam, and the true principles of democracy, both of which stress the importance of freedom of religion and tolerance.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, PhD, Director, Minaret of Freedom Foundation
Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed, PhD, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. University of North Florida 
Wajahat Ali, playwright, journalist, and producer of “Domestic Crusaders”
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), author of “The Muslim Next Door”
Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
Hazami Barmada, Pres, American Muslim Interactive Network (AMIN)
Farah Brelvi, Board of Directors, ACLU-NC
M. Ali Chaudry, PhD, President, Center for Understanding Islam (CUII) 
Robert D. Crane, JD
Lamia El-Sadek, political and human rights activitist
Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Mona Eltahawy, journalist
Prof. Mohammad Fadel, PhD
Fatemeh Fakhraie, Editor-in-Chief, Muslimah Media Watch
Hesham Hassaballa, M.D., author, journalist, blogger - “God, faith, and a pen”
Arsalan Iftikhar, author, human rights lawyer, blogger - “The Muslim Guy”
Jeffrey Imm, Director, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)
Nakia Jackson, writer 
Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, Blogger - “Globalog”
M. Junaid Levesque-Alam, writer, blogger - “Crossing the Crescent” 
David Liepert, M.D., blogger and author of “Muslim, Christian AND Jew” 
Radwan A. Masmoudi, PhD, President, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID) 
Melody Moezzi, JD, MPH, writer and attorney
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, author of many books of poetry
Ebrahim Moosa, Assoc. Professor of Islamic Studies, Dept. of Religion, Duke University
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)
Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger - “City of Brass” on
Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist
Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger - “Religion Dispatches”
Sarah Sayeed, President of One Blue 
Robert Salaam, blogger - “The American Muslim”
Raquel Evita Saraswati, activist, writer, blogger
Prof. Laury Silvers, PhD
Pamela Taylor, Co-founder Muslims for Progressive Values, Panelist for On Faith 
Tayyibah Taylor, Editor, Azizah Magazine
Tarik Trad, writer, humorist, photographer, artist and activist 
Amina Wadud, PhD, consultant on Islam and gender, visiting scholar Starr King School for the Ministry
G. Willow Wilson, author of “Butterfly Mosque” and “Air” graphic novel series

NOTE: If you would like to add your signature, please send an email with your name, title, and organizational affiliation (if any) to — The list of signatories will be updated daily and the most recent list can be found HERE.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How should Christians engage the powers that be?

Below is an ongoing conversation between me and my good friend Dan Sidey:

Question: One of the questions I'm wrestling with these days is how to be a Christian who is truly engaged in contemplative resistance. I realize that the US is not a peaceful country. I live in a small town that relies on the assets that come from our military. We have plenty of families that rely on the money made by troops and an airbase that nearly five times a day, with F-15s, tries to remind us that the US wants to own the skies of the world. The whole thing is disillusioning, yet so ingrained as deeply valuable in the mind of most folks here. I see the tragedy of this paradigm played out constantly in the violence in my own neighborhood. It is as grand as gang fights and as minute as unhappy parents neglecting their children to run from their own violent demons.

I'm beginning to believe negotiating with these powers for a share in their use is not our calling. We're meant to denounce their ability to help as Jesus did. He calls us to love the least of these. Instead of climbing the ladder of success in search for the scarce resources of power we turn around and find an abundance of opportunity to serve in love those the empire considers a liability. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove believes that we will finally find abundant life only in community with others engaged in contemplative resistance like this.

I'm looking for this message of Jesus fleshes out. I'm curious how you'll wrestle with these ideas in your books. What does Carl believe about this message?

Thanks for dialoguing about this.


Thank you Dan.

I think that's a lot to chew on. Of course, based on what you've written, I would say to you "Go for it!!" I think we have to keep in mind though that different people have different callings. Carl and I are primarily trying to speak to the evangelical world, telling them to reconsider their hate and prejudice towards 1.5 billion Muslims. That's a pretty tall order! Carl travels and speaks quite a bit, so he wouldn't fit nicely into the "beware of your carbon footprint" camp. I probably wouldn't either since travel is a large part of my calling. I've come to realize that I can't do everything and take up every cause, though that doesn't mean that I can't encourage others in their respective callings. As long as we're loving Jesus, loving people, practicing non-violence, and taking the admonitions of Jesus towards the poor seriously (whether that means living among them or advocating for them politically), I think it all counts.

Not sure if I'm making sense here.

I hope this helps.


Dan's response:

It's true that many New Monastics are concerned with their carbon footprint, but thats not really one of the distinctives that I'm gleaning from them as paramount in my journey. It doesn't surprise me that both you and Carl don't either. Your interests seem to be more along the lines of mine, focused on a Christian response to Muslims and the practice of non-violence in the face of militarism, nationalism and radicalism.

So how do we engage the world as a political body? The political Body of Christ. Are we called to negotiate how the government uses force? Or are we called to have a prophetic witness that is not a stake holder in power, but a denouncer of force that points others to love? Maybe a little of both?

I recall in your book(at the very end) you said something about force being a possible asset in the face of extremes like genocide. Do you feel that way? Are we stakeholders in power?

Peace, Dan


Dan, this is one of the best questions ever posed on this blog! I love the way you frame it: How should followers of Jesus engage the world as a political body? Should we negotiate the government's use of force or should we refuse to be stakeholders in power?

I love the way you frame this question, since it underscores a key point I make in my book "Alone with a Jihadist." If you remember the last chapter, Powerless Prophets I make the case that followers of Jesus would be a lot better off renouncing earthly power (and by that I mean most political power positions available and definitely military power) for the very reason that you stated. When we become "stakeholders" in power (thank you for the phrase--I'm going to use it!), we lose our objectivity and our credibility as prophetic witnesses. Almost like a conflict of interest if you will. So, to answer your question, I don't think it's an either/or. It's both/and. We renounce power not just so that we can withdraw in our caves and let the world self-destruct. No. We renounce power so that we can be a credible voice to the powers that be! At times this may take on the form of prescribing practical solutions for just peace making between warring parties, but we have to be careful here. Political solutions are almost always ambiguous. If a follower of Jesus isn't well informed on the issues at hand, he or she should keep their prophetic distance and work for peace and justice in non-political ways. God uses all kinds!

That's where I stand right now. If I end up moving my position, it'll be in the direction of non-engagement, where we don't even bother at all with telling the earthly kingdoms how to run their affairs. I'm not there yet because I still feel that if we refuse to participate in the violent structures earthly kingdoms use to advance their interests, the very least we can do is propose alternatives to mitigate the violence. I think John Howard Yoder has it right when he says, and I'm paraphrasing here, "We can't hold earthly governments to Kingdom ideals, but we can hold them accountable to their highest ideals."

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How important is baptism?

The following is a three part conversation that I'm having with my friend Carl. It began as an e-mail exchange when someone named Mike posed a question to Carl. Carl cc'd to me his response, and I gave him a little push back. Carl and I are good friends and we agree with each other on about 95% of things. You can check out his website here:

A little context first. We've been having an ongoing discussion about people following Jesus without the trappings of converting to the religion called Christianity.

Mike's Question:


I have a question. I was recently doing a study in Matthew 28:16-20, and was struck with Jesus' words to be baptized, and how baptism is an identification with the "Name" (Identity Marker) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It really appears to be an initial act of obedience to Jesus, and a clear identity marker of transference from the kingdom of man, to God's new kingdom with Jesus as the Lord/King.

How does that work with anyone claiming that they are "Following Jesus?" Especially if it doesn't include being baptized and identifying with Him as their Lord and not something/someone else?

What are your thoughts on this. I'd love to know. It would help me think through this issue in a deeper way!

God bless!

Carl's response:


Wow, good one. Don’t feel bad about asking this to the whole forum – nothing’s off limit.

My answer would be this....

I’m assuming we agree that baptism is not salvific. So then it’s somewhere in between a good idea of identifying publically with Jesus....and....a command.

My guess is you’re asking several questions here – only one of which is about being baptized. I think people ought to be baptized. It’s good at a lot of levels. And we have and do baptize Muslims – under the water, in the name of Father, Son and Spirit.

But what would you say about this? I think there are several commands in the scriptures (probably many, not just “several”) - that appear more frequently then “be baptized.” So while this is important – because Jesus said it and Paul affirms it – is it any more important then insisting that our new Muslim friends who are wanting to follow Jesus not gossip? Or to stay mentally, spiritually and physically pure?

What identifies someone as a follower of Jesus, is their fruit. The fruit of their lives. How they love. Serve? Or they sheep or goats? Do they “believe.” Do they love God and love their neighbor? All as important or maybe even more important than be baptized in water – mentioned once by Jesus, twice by Luke in Acts, and twice by Peter (if I remember rightly).

So while I think it’s important, I don’t think it’s as vital as several other things that are very clear in scripture. So let’s not ignore it, but we don’t want to harp on it (not that you are).

Identifying Jesus as Lord (master – is the better translation of the greek word Kirios), is a bigger one. And I’d just say that most of my friends would be on a continuum on this one. from “not at all” to “yes.” And again, to be sure we’re comparing apples to apples, while most evangelicals would give lip service to this because they know it’s the right answer (that Jesus is Lord) they would neither know what that really means or actually do much about it. I’d guess you’d agree with that. doesn’t excuse anything on their lack of believing or doing it, but just puts it in perspective.

What do you think? Does that help at all?

I like how you’re thinking bro!


Aaron's response to Carl:


A little gentle push back here. Baptism is a notoriously confusing issue. Jesus commanded it, Paul affirms it, and yet Paul boasts that he only baptized a few of the Corinthian believers (I Corinthians 1:14) and he also said, "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (Vs. 17) At the same time, I think Mike has a valid point. You seem to be saying that baptism is on the level of character issues that believers are supposed to deal with, as if baptism is on par with the fruits of the spirit, like love, joy, peace, ect.... I also don't think it's very helpful counting the number of times the word "baptism" is used as opposed to other commands. "Love your enemies" is only mentioned a couple of times in the gospels, yet you and I make a pretty big deal out of that one. If we look at the context of when baptism is mentioned in the New Testament, it's hard to come to any other conclusion that baptism is the "identity marker" of membership in the Body of Christ as Mike describes. Both in Acts and in Corinthians (For by One Spirit we were all baptized into one Body--1 Cor. 12:13) baptism seems to be the initiation into the life of the church, kingdom membership if you will.

So to me the two extreme positions are a:) baptism as one of several commands that believers may or may not get around to and b:) baptism saves. The truth has to be somewhere in between these two positions. I agree with you that it's the fruit that identifies true disciples and that ultimately it's not up to us to determine who's "in" and who's "out" in the final judgment (or even right now). If we want to be even more confused, the quid pro quo salvation scripture Romans 10:9, "that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved"--mentions nothing about baptism.

I sincerely wish sometimes that the New Testament wasn't so confusing!


Now that you've read our two positions, what say you?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Global Faith Forum

The Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and the Mosque at Ground Zero stories are accomplishing nothing but heating up the religious rhetoric in the media. You need to know about an event we're hosting in November - one that will bring Communist ambassadors, Saudi intelligence directors and Rabbis, and second generation American Muslims to my church to talk, I mean really lay it out for us, about how they see the world, how they see Christians and how we can respect one another while having different faiths. We're calling it the Global Faith Forum.

There is no doubt about it, the Evangelical Church is part of the reason for the tension between the Muslims and Christians in America. As an Evangelical, especially from Texas, we cannot sit by quietly and allow this tension to build. Years ago I began doing humanitarian work in Afghanistan and now Gaza – it has been nothing short of revolutionary in my relationships to Muslims and the Middle-East.
From Gaza to Doha where Al Jazeera brought me in May to over 200 middle-eastern leaders I was introduced as, "This is Bob Roberts. He's an Evangelical Christian Pastor but it's alright - he like Muslims." It makes me sad, most people from the middle-east and most Muslims don’t have a positive impression of us – we have to change that. Al Jazeera is supposed to be coming to the conference.

The Global Faith Forum is Nov 11-13, 2010.
I am writing wondering if you'd be willing to help us get word out about it (email blast, write a blog post, ad, spread the word, etc.) and the importance of engaging in conversation with other faiths in this day and age and how you see the Global Faith Forum playing into that conversation. We want your network to be aware of this event.
It is unique from many interfaith conferences, which can tend to say down deep we all really believe the same thing. In this multifaith gathering, we would be deemed conservative adherents of our faiths (Muslims, Evangelicals, and others). We are aware of core distinctions in our beliefs and dialogue about them openly while choosing to work together toward building respect and mutual engagement to make the world a better place. This sets the multifaith perspective apart.
Some people you may have heard of will be here. You may know Daniel Levy and Amjad Atallah from the New America Foundation and Mara Vanderslice from the White House's Faith Based Initiatives Office. Others include Al Weiss, President of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Prince Turki Al Faisal of the Saudi royal family, and Le Cong Phung who is the Vietnam Ambassador.
I am providing you a pdf and can get any other materials in your hands that could be beneficial for you to promote the Global Faith Forum.
Please let us know what tools you need to get the word out and we can send you whatever you need. Here is an article as to why we think it is vitally important.
I've attached our small press kit for the event. Please have one of your producers contact our Communications Director for more info - we'll get you guys whatever you need.


Bob Roberts, Jr.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flood waters diverted in Pakistan to save U.S. airbase

It appears that flood waters have been diverted in Pakistan to save a U.S. air base. The Shahbaz air base is used by the U.S. military to launch drone attacks into Afghanistan and Pakistan, attacks that kill a disproportionate number of civilians by the way. When the flood waters threatened the base, the waters were intentionally diverted to the Jacobabad district, victimizing approximately 800,000 people according to numerous media reports coming out of Pakistan.

In other news, the U.N. has requested 2 Billion dollars for flood relief in Pakistan. Meanwhile the House has recently approved a 37 billion dollar supplemental war spending bill to finance the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, requested by President Obama.

So let me get this straight. While flood waters are causing one of the greatest, if not the greatest environmental disasters since the founding of the U.N., we, the people of the United States of America and the leaders we elected, seem to think that a better priority than saving lives and property, is to save a U.S. base used to carry out extra -judicial killing on scores of innocent women and children. We think it's a greater priority to spend 37 billion dollars on financing endless war than 2 billion dollars to win hearts and minds by caring for the sick, the hungry, and the dispossessed. Oh, and one more thing, at the time of this writing, the U.S. military is refusing to allow the use of the Shahbaz base for relief efforts.

God forgive us!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jim Wallis praises Bush...and criticizes Obama

Here's something you don't see every day. In a recent post on CNN's website, the Reverend Jim Wallis praised President George W. Bush for his leadership in combatting Aids in Africa...and criticizes President Obama for his failure to keep his campaign promises in this regard.

This is refreshing.

The majority of people with Aids live in Africa. The funny thing I've noticed in my travels throughout Africa is that the vast majority of times you ask an African who their favorite president is, they'll answer Bill Clinton. And yet, George W. Bush arguably did more to help Africa in terms of financial aid and addressing the AIDS issue than Clinton did. Bush doesn't really get the credit he deserves for helping Africa because...well...he's Bush.

Now it's time for Obama to finish what Bush started.

Watching and waiting

Monday, September 20, 2010

Still following Jesus...But not for the reasons you might think

I got an interesting e-mail this morning. I left the person's name out in the interest of privacy. Notice my response. What do you think?


I came across your blog after watching the movie Jesus Camp and reading your interview with Pastor Tim O'brien. I was born Jewish, after my parents divorced, my mother remarried and my step-father, who basically introduced my to Christianity. After being in a Protestant Church for some time, my step-father felt the need to return to his Catholic roots, and we convert to Roman Catholic Church when I was in middle school. In high school i began to doubt my faith, and now that I'm in college I would consider myself an atheist. The arguments that led me to my current convictions could not be answered by my father or our local priest, and so I would like to see if you can take a stab at them...

1. The idea that the human race began from two individuals?
Answer from father and Church: The story is symbolic, the importance being that God created the first humans, and that we are separated from animals through the soul.
Further Questions arisen: How do we tell which stories are symbolic from the bible and which are not? Can we take any words from the bible literally? Other than obvious reasons of why this is scientifically false such as problems with cross breeding, ask the European royalty, I found this idea to be very troublesome as evolution and the progression of man from our monkey brothers becomes more and more viable with more and more evidence.

2. The idea that the bible is infallible, written through humans by God?
The earliest version of the bible that we have found was written around 350AD. Which means that the words that people take as the true words of Jesus Christ were passed down orally for over three hundred years. I know a belief of Christians is that humans are morally bad or corrupt, so I ask has it ever crossed your mind or any Churches minds that the words that are seen in todays bibles may be different from what Jesus said. But the bible is still quoted and accepted as the absolute truth and the words of God. From written evidence we found today, there is no way to know that some human along the way did not change any of the stories or words. If you have ever taken a history class, you would come to a conclusion that the new testament is a weak secondary document at most.

3. That god is outside of time...
One idea that frustrates me to the core is the idea that god has everything planned ahead of time. That he has a plan for everyone and that God planned the coming of christ since the beginning of time. Time, defined by the constant expansion of the universe is a nifty little thing that makes sure that not everything happens at the same time. For God to know what will happen in the future, he would then have to be outside of time, therefore knowing how every position and action would happen before it happens. To disprove this I will not turn to science, but to Christianities own infallible source: the bible. Anything that could disprove this theory would be any passage that says God changed his mind, for instance after flooding the world, won't even go into that one, God realized that killing every human other than Noah was a bad thing and promised to never do that again, oh wait did he change his mind?

Well I won't take up any more of your time, but I found your blog interesting and wanted to know if you could offer any answers to the questions I have.



Thank you for writing. You bring up a lot of issues. I appreciate your honesty. So let me be honest back. I'm a follower of Jesus not because I have everything figured out. Not because I can explain how time works and how God fits into that equation (though if you're interested in the subject, I'd check out Greg Boyd's website He's a Jesus follower with some unorthodox views on this matter) . I follow Jesus not because I have it figured out which passages in the Bible are more literal than others. Frankly, that's not so important to me anymore. I don't even follow Jesus because I can substantiate everything written in the New Testament, though there's a guy named Josh McDowell that's an expert on that sort of thing, perhaps you should look him up, but again, not the point. Point being, I follow Jesus for none of these reasons. Even if there was no heaven above or hell beneath, I'd still follow Jesus.


Because His life and teachings are so stinking compelling! Jesus was a man of the people, a champion for the oppressed, a critic of the establishment, a thorn in the side to the rich and the powerful, and above all, a friend of sinners. His kindness and compassion knew no limits. I love how He went out of His way to upset the religious establishment of His day by befriending harlots, Roman soldiers, tax collectors, and Samaritans. I don't know any teaching more compelling than "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you." I'm sickened that most of my Christian friends don't take His teachings more seriously in their attitudes towards war-- but don't get me started. Because just when I feel myself getting self-righteous, I'm reminded that Jesus said, "Judge not lest you be judged" and "Remove the plank in your own eye before considering the speck in your brothers eye." When Jesus was on the cross, He prayed for His torturers "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." If God is like Jesus, then that's good news for everybody.

This is why I follow Jesus.

Everything else is icing on the cake.



Saturday, September 11, 2010

For the record: this is what I preached

I've been getting into trouble lately. It all started when I asked myself the simple question, "What did the Apostles preach when they presented the gospel to non-believers?" When I started to read the Book of Acts with this question in mind, one of the first things I noticed was that the Apostles overwhelmingly put the focus on the resurrection of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of eternal life. This got me into trouble with my liberal Christian readers because I refused to reduce the Gospel of the Kingdom to "let's all work together to make the world a better place." A few commented that I was de-emphasizing the life and teachings of Jesus. Go figure.

The second thing I noticed was that there's no record in the Book of Acts of the Apostles insisting on a Jesus-is-God litmus test before they accepted people into the fold. In fact, more often than not, they emphasized the humanity of Jesus in their preaching and yet, we're explicitly told that those that heard and believed their message were saved. (Two striking examples of this are Acts 13:38,39,48 and 17:30-33) This led me to think that maybe we should be focusing on leading people to Jesus first and doctrine second. "Are we saved by doctrine or saved by Jesus?" I asked. This got me into trouble with my conservative Christian friends even though I insisted that I'm not denying the deity of Christ.

So to set the record straight, here's a summary of a short message I gave a couple of weeks ago to a mixed crowd of believers and non-believers:

I began with the simple Bible story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. He was a nobody. Even though the crowd was following Jesus, they tried to hinder blind Bartimaeus from coming to Jesus by telling him to "Be quiet!". This is what religious people still do today. Maybe in the past you've been interested in Jesus but you kept bumping into His followers pushing you aside and treating you like a nobody--so you decided to give up the pursuit of Jesus altogether. Bartimeaus could have done that, but instead he threw aside his garment, the symbol of all the things that were holding him back, and he came to Jesus.

Jesus healed Bartimeaus that day. He asked him a simple question, "What would you like me to do for you?" I ask you today, "What would you like Jesus to do for you?" Do you need healing, provision, or forgiveness? Jesus can do all of these things for you. There's a such thing as spiritual blindness and Jesus can take care of that too. We need more Jesus and less Christianity. Jesus always preferred to hang out with sinners than with religious people, so He'd probably prefer hanging out with you more than He would with me.

Jesus died on the cross for sinners. He rose again on the third day. The resurrection of Jesus gives me hope that one day God is going to make everything right in the world. Because Jesus is alive, He is able to grant you forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. Come to Jesus today"

So there you have it. Aaron's gospel if you will. Are there things I left out or could have said better? Probably. Can God use imperfect people to accomplish His purposes? Definitely. Can God use imperfect theologies to draw people to a loving relationship with Jesus the Messiah? I think so. But then again...I could be wrong. I sincerely hope I'm not.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Jesus loves me...this I know

Over the past few weeks, I've been a part of a forum with several influential evangelical leaders, as well as some Muslims that love Jesus but remain within the tradition of Islam. One of the questions that we've been asking is "What does it mean to follow Jesus?" One of the main points that has been made in response to this question is how Jesus meets people where they are, calling people to follow Him regardless of their background.

Jesus' approach (e.g. eating and drinking with sinners and heretics) seems to be the opposite of the approach that many evangelicals take today, which is to start the conversation with doctrinal litmus tests, as if following Jesus can be reduced to a seminary entrance exam.

Do you believe in the Deity of Christ?


Do you believe that you're justified by faith alone?


Oh, and by the way, do you agree that you're justified by faith alone but saving faith is not alone?


I wonder if we're complicating things?

This verse came to mind today: "I've been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20) (italics emphasis mine)

What if the crux of Paul's revelation is as simple as Jesus loves me? What if the cross, and all of our atonement theories that we use to explain the cross, isn't the main point, but a demonstration of the main point, which is God's inclusive love for all humanity? As Paul says in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

If Jesus was capable of loving Paul, then maybe He's capable of loving people today? If it's possible to enter into a loving, obedient, faith relationship with Jesus the Messiah today, then doesn't that cover the Jesus is more than a man part in our doctrinal litmus tests?

I'm wondering if the doctrine of the Deity of Christ is simply but a sign post to point us to a greater reality, which is that through a relationship with this mystical person called the Messiah, all of us have access to God in a way that wasn't fully available before Jesus showed up on the scene.

So maybe the old Sunday School song "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" is all we really need to know. What if that's the main point--and everything else is secondary?

I'm thinking out loud here.

Forgive my babble.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Scary dream--could this really happen?

I just woke up from a dream. It was so frightening, I had to write it down.

I dreamt that I was watching President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. They were surrounded by the secret service and all of the high up officials in the U.S. government. Probably a few cabinet members. I heard semi-automatic gun shots. I could see Bill Clinton and the others ducking for cover. It looked like Bill Clinton was a specific target. More gun shots. More ducking for cover. Then I saw President Obama attempt to give a press conference to reassure the nation that he and the officials with him were okay.


A bomb goes off where the two presidents and the officials are standing. Both are unharmed but in the crowd of a hundred or so surrounding them, it was implied that some were killed.

By this time, I'm thinking that the nation is under a terrorist attack, probably perpetrated by Islamic extremists.

I look to the left and I see a massive crowd of people as far as the eye could see.

All white men.

All carrying Christian flags and bayonets.

All charging the White House.

I wake up.

I have no idea why I had this dream. I've never thought that the violent revolution strain in some of the tea party rhetoric is very realistic. Neither have I been concerned about radical reconstructionists (Christians that want to implement the law of Moses) taking over.

So why the dream?

Could it really happen?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jean Pierre got married!

My spiritual son in the faith has recently gotten married. I am so proud of him. I met Jean Pierre when I was working in Senegal. My wife and I led him to Christ and now he is an evangelist for Senegal. For years, Jean Pierre went about his ministry as a single man. He wanted a wife that could work with him in ministry--and he refused to settle for anything less! Jean Pierre now has a lovely wife from Brazil that is dedicated to sharing the gospel to the Senegalese people.

Congratulations Jean PIerre!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Are Christians the only children of God?

In the film “Dead Man Walking”, shortly before Matthew Poncelet (played by Sean Penn) is executed, there’s a scene where Poncelet confesses his crime of rape and murder. Up until that time, Poncelet had showed little remorse to his spiritual advisor Sister Helen Prejean (played by Susan Surandon) even though earlier he declared confidently that he knew that Jesus would take care of him on judgment day. What did Helen Prejean—a Catholic nun—tell Poncelet in his final moments that caused a hardened criminal to face the truth about his sinful condition? She called him a child of God. Tears of contrition flow, as Poncelet responds, “Nobody ever called me a child of God before.”

As touching as the movie’s climax may be, a thorny question remains. Is it theologically sound to call someone who hasn’t confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior a child of God? If we take our cues from standard evangelical theology, the answer would be a resounding no! After all, according to standard evangelical theology, there are two types of people in the world: children of God and children of the devil. It takes a conversion experience to go from the latter to the former. After all, didn’t Jesus make it clear that disbelievers are “of their father, the devil” (John 8:44)?

While it may be comforting to divide the world between “us” versus “them”, the moral implications of this worldview is nothing short of monstrous when carried to its logical conclusion. If it takes becoming one of “us” to liberate a person from their status as “child of the devil” then what we’ve effectively done is demonize—literally—everyone except “us” the saved ones. To demonize is to dehumanize, and to dehumanize is to provide a mental justification for all kinds of atrocities against those perceived as the “other.”

Think about all the crimes perpetrated in the name of Christ throughout Church history, or even the suffering inflicted on others today when Christian faith is mixed with blind nationalism. When it comes to formulating an appropriate response to Islamic terrorism, too many Christians schooled in the classic us/them dichotomy of American evangelicalism have little choice but to resort to a theology that says convert them or kill them. Is this really the best way to read the Scriptures?

I don’t think so. At the same time, I admit that I don’t have all the answers when it comes to how to formulate a theology of evangelism that’s both morally defensible and Biblically credible. I think a good start would be for evangelicals to take a closer look at the passages of Scripture that emphasize God as the Father of humanity, not just the Father of Christians. Perhaps the best known passage is Acts 17:29 where the Apostle Paul affirms a pagan quote to show that the idol worshiping Athenians are indeed the “offspring of God.”

There’s also the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told in response to the Pharisees that accused Him of “eating with sinners.” In the story, sinful humanity is portrayed as a son that has gone astray, but a son nonetheless (See Luke 15:1-2, 11-32). Jesus also taught the masses to think of God as a “Father in Heaven”, even to pray to Him as “our Father.” Clearly out of all the masses that He taught, not everyone in His audience would have fit the bill as being in the “in” crowd, yet this didn’t seem to bother Jesus as much as it might bother today’s fundamentalists.

And by the way, that passage where Jesus supposedly calls disbelievers “of their father, the devil”, He was talking to the Pharisees, the people that set themselves up as religious leaders yet were spiritually clueless enough to call Jesus a “Samaritan” and a “demon” (John 8:48). Is this really a proof-text for us/them Christianity or is Jesus addressing a specific grievance aimed at the religious leaders of His day? The answer to this question could mean the difference between a theology of love and a theology of hate. Choose wisely.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saved by doctrine or saved by Jesus?

My article "Can Muslims follow the Biblical Christ and still be Muslim?" created a firestorm on God's Politics last week. In the article I suggest that we don’t see a very high Christology in Peter and Paul’s sermons in the Book of Acts, and yet we're explicitly told in Scripture that those who heard their message were genuinely saved. I suggested that just because Muslims can’t bring themselves to say, “Jesus is God”, we shouldn’t write them off so quickly as heretics. The thread of the comments has been pretty explosive, many suggesting that I’ve given up Biblical faith in the name of political correctness—even though I explicitly say in the article that I’m NOT denying the deity of Christ.

I think there’s a much, much deeper issue in play here, and since I’m on a journey here, understand that I may not be able to communicate my thoughts very well, so a little grace would be welcome. What’s starting to come into focus for me is the revelation that it’s not up to Aaron Taylor to decide who’s “in” and who’s “out.” What if following Jesus has very little to do with “in” verses “out” and “us” verses “them”? What if following Jesus means simply that? To follow Jesus? I’m not saying that doctrine isn’t important. I’m just wondering how we arrived at the place where we think that we’re saved through doctrine and not saved through Jesus?

What does it mean to follow Jesus? If we look in the New Testament there seems to be a wide range of what that means. For the thief on the cross, it meant a simple request for Jesus to “remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” For the woman at the well, Jesus seemed to be content with letting her know that He is the Messiah. For a group of curious onlookers it meant simply to “believe in the one whom He sent.” For the rich man it meant to “sell all of his possessions and give to the poor.” Some followed Jesus out of curiosity. Some followed him because they wanted social status—like James and John—Jesus’ closest disciples. And some doubted even after the resurrection as Jesus was giving them the Great Commission!

Combine all this with the curious habit of Jesus of constantly ticking off the religious people of His day by eating and drinking with those perceived to be outsiders. One of the primary points of the parable of the Good Samaritan was to challenge religious prejudice. By making the perceived heretic the hero of the story, Jesus was pointing to the central issue of what constitutes true religion. Love of God and loving your neighbor as yourself.

So in my Q&A sessions when people ask me what do I think about all the people in the world that follow other religions—whether they’re “in” or “out”—I answer honestly. I say something like this:

“Jesus said ‘I am the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.’ At the same time He also told the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story where He made the perceived heretic the hero, challenging the religious prejudice of His day. I’m learning to live with the tension of these two truths.”

I’d love for everyone to believe that Jesus is God (though I’m quite aware that the statement needs a lot of explaining, especially in the light of Eastern and Western philosophical assumptions). At the same time it’s not my job description to determine who is “in” the kingdom and who is “out.” My job is to lift up Jesus and let Him run His Kingdom. If we start with Jesus, we can eventually arrive at correct doctrine, but if we start with doctrine, we may lose Jesus in the process.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Can Muslims follow the Biblical Christ--and still be Muslim?

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about the “Insider Movement” which is what missionary experts refer to as Muslims that love and follow Jesus while remaining within the cultural fold of Islam. I can remember before moving to Senegal as a missionary, a thought flashed through my mind, “I wonder if God might use me to initiate a movement of Muslims coming to Biblical faith in Christ as part of a Reformation movement within Islam?”

It turned out to be a fleeting thought. Instead I opted for the traditional apologetics approach, pointing out to Muslims why the New Testament is superior to the Koran and why they’re wrong about denying the divinity of Jesus and the atonement. I never seriously questioned this approach until I read Carl Medearis’s excellent book “Muslims, Christians, and Jesus.” In his book, Carl shares stories of his interactions with Muslims who deeply love Jesus and strive to follow His teachings—yet remain committed Muslims. I nearly wept thinking about how things could have been different if I had trusted my original instincts.

But now I have new questions, and they’re a bit unnerving because they strike at the heart of what it means to be a “Muslim” and what it means to be a “Christian.” I’ve heard that there are Muslim followers of Jesus that revere and strive to follow after the Jesus that they see revealed in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), but I’m wondering if these same Muslims can find a place in their theology to accept the rest of the New Testament as well? And if they can, I’m wondering if Christians can find a place in their theology to make room for Muhammad as a pre-messianic figure, pointing people to faith in Jesus the Messiah (a term the Koran affirms by the way) maybe not as authoritative as an Old Testament prophet, but perhaps on par with the status of local prophets in the New Testament?

Let’s break this down. Because most Muslims can’t bring themselves to say, “Jesus is God”, Christians write them off as heretics. The problem with this is that there’s nowhere in the New Testament that says, “Jesus is God”; so what we’re doing is insisting on non-Biblical language as a litmus test for Biblical faith. The doctrine may be true, and I believe it is, but should we really think of someone as outside the fold if they can’t bring themselves to say something that isn’t directly stated in the New Testament?

I wonder if a Muslim that respects the New Testament could find it in his or her theology to accept the statement, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God….and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-14). If a Muslim can accept this statement as the inspired Word of God, could we not call them brothers and sisters even if our understanding of what these verses mean may be slightly different?

Let’s talk about the cross. Mark Siljander has done an excellent job in his book “A Deadly Misunderstanding” showing that the case can be made in the Koran that Jesus died and rose again. If this is true, might it be possible for a Muslim to accept that the Messiah’s death has saving significance even if—to my knowledge—the Koran doesn’t explicitly say so? After all, the Koran does confirm the authenticity of the gospels and the case can be made from the gospels that the blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).

If we look at the sermons of Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts, we see neither a very high Christology, nor do we see the doctrine of penal substitution—a doctrine highly offensive to Muslims—and yet we’re told explicitly that those who heard and believed their message received eternal life (Acts 13:48). The Apostles’ message in the Book of Acts was essentially “Jesus was crucified, but God raised Him from the dead and through this man is preached to you forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life” (see Acts 10:39-43, 13:37-49, 17:31-32). Notice the Apostles’ emphasis on the humanity of Jesus in His saving work. I daresay if an evangelist preached like that today, he or she would likely be labeled a heretic!

Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not denying the deity of Christ, and neither am I saying that the doctrine of penal substitution is wrong per se. I’m simply raising the issue that if a Muslim can believe and practice the bare essentials of what Biblical faith in Jesus requires and still be true to their own faith, then not only have we figured out a way to build a bridge of peace between the historic religions of Islam and Christianity, we’ve also figured out a way for Christians to be faithful to the command of Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations” without using our faith as a battering ram to demonize people of another faith.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Aaron on Grit Tv with Laura Flanders

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted.

Here's an interview I did yesterday on Grit Tv with Laura Flanders.


More GRITtv

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Jewish perspective on Jesus and the Middle East

Here's another response in the e-mail exchange that started last week. I've posted this with permission:

Sorry to be so long in responding. I've been absorbed with blogging on my recent experience at the Presbyterian General Assembly. My reflections on the GA ( parts 1 and 2) start with Ephesians 2:14 and end with MLK's letter from the Birmingham jail. Would love to get your reactions. By the way, I've been to your site and watched you talk to me about the victim, the religious guy, and the Samaritan. Loved it. Brian's idea of a blogroll is very good and I encourage everyone to take Michael Ly up on his offer to compile the list.

For most of you on Carl's list, I'm the Jewish friend he refers to. I've got a few things to say in response, Carl, and I'll try to keep it brief.

1. I am very supportive of your work and that of Rick, Jeff, Samir, Miroslav and others in reaching out to the Muslim community. As a preface to my comments to follow, I think the issue that Christians now face in how to relate to the Jewish community is different. The Christian world undertook a huge bridge-building effort to the Jews after WWII, and it was a faithful and courageous thing to do. But now there is a whole new context for Christian-Jewish relations -- that's the Israel-Palestine conflict, of course. As a result we are looking at the need for a radical reframing in how we look at Christian-Jewish relations. It's the topic of my book, Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land.

2. You are calling to the church. So am I -- and the similarities in what we are each up to are interesting: different pictures in the same frame. As a Christian you are calling on Christians to reconnect with the core of their faith in order to be open to the whole of humanity. As a Jew I am calling on Christians to reconnect with the core of their faith in order to be open to the call for justice in the Holy Land today -- calling on my people to tear down the walls of fear we build, walls that putting us at severe risk mentally and spiritually (as well as physically, for that matter). I am saying to Christians that if you really want to love the Jewish people, then you must call us to account for what our national homeland project has brought us to. It's very a contextually-based, call actually -- but the powerful thing about this is that the current context sends us right back to the context of first century Palestine. We need Jesus more than ever today. He speaks directly to me in his ministry to the Palestinians of his time (the Jews) in calling for nonviolent resistance to the evil of empire -- and our collusion with it.

3. You are calling out how theology is being driven by politics and I agree. It is certainly true that Christian Zionism -- not the John Hagee variety but the Zionism hiding in plain sight in the Christian mainstream -- is driven by politics: interfaith politics. Protestants, beginning with the penitential, self-purification impulse of the German confessing church during and in the aftermath of WWII and with the RCC in the reforming work of Vatican II -- have made atoning for anti-Semitism the value that now trumps action for justice in Palestine. As such Christians missed the boat -- the wake-up call of the Nazi Holocaust should have driven a deep self-exploration about what had happened to Christianity. Instead a "cheap penitence" took over in the form of a guilt offering to the Jewish people - the "gift" of the land. And what has that meant? (1) de-spiritualizing (and de-universalizing) the land -- what a non-Christian thing to do! The earth is the Lord's, not the Christians' to give! and (2) a slippery slope to a theological legitimization of political Zionism -- a political ideology that has hijacked Judaism and put the Jewish people, well really all of humanity, in peril. Christianity is in peril as well, for colluding with us in this idolatry. What you've got in both forms of Christian Zionism is a form of Judeo-Christian triumphalism. The Palestinians don't count in this. And not Muslims -- heck anybody who is not Jewish or Christian.

So yeah, we gotta get this right.

You talk about our spiritual battle and the way of the cross. For Christians to love the Jewish people well and truly (read the Palestine Kairos document) is not easy, it means picking up the cross. 65 years of building interfaith bridges threaten to blow up your faces, because of the fear-based bullying tactics of the American Jewish organizations that scream anti-Semitism at responsible criticism of Israel's policies. These organizations and leaders claim to, but don't speak for all Jews -- but that doesn't make it easy for Christian clergy, institutions, or laity. But that's the reality now -- for Christians to remain faithful, they must take up that cross and suffer the pain of losing Jewish friends and being called anti-Semitic (And from some of the responses to your email, seems like losing Christian friends is is a big issue for those of you working on Christian-Muslim relations.) We are living in prophetic times, so there are costs. It hurts, of course. But look at what the Presbyterians are doing -- it's inspiring. And puts us right into the interfaith politics

This is bigger than Palestine, of course. But when we get Palestine right we get the whole thing right.

You write: "Politicians aren't thinking that way, because the church is not thinking that way!" Your are dead on here. I am pushing on the Jewish-Christian interfaith issue because the church has the power to drive the politics on Israel-Palestine, and the current Christian-Jewish "interfaith" frame is a barrier to church faithfulness and effectiveness here. It's not an interfaith issue, it's a church issue, an issue of faithfulness. Actually, it's a faith issue, period, and so the fact of being Christian, Muslim or Jewish is not important. It's whether you are for ripping off the poor or for ending poverty, for destroying the planet or preserving it. The world is called to understand love (see again Kairos Palestine, a manifesto of "resistance framed in the logic of love"). Palestinians have been involved in nonviolence for almost going on a century now, and it's growing stronger and has at last become a global movement. We've looking at a stunning opportunity to change the political wind, and the church is the place for this to happen. And again -- it's not just Palestine. It is, as you put it , a spiritual battle, the Kingdom message. Humanity will destroy itself in pursuing the myth of redemptive violence and in greedily ripping off the planet, or it will be redeemed through nonviolent resistance in its many forms.

I talk about Jesus and people wonder if I'm a Christian, and really, I don't care what you call me - we need Jesus now, he speaks directly to our situation. If we can get beyond "interfaith dialogue," if we can get that it's not about the faiths "getting along," but about realizing our brotherhood and sisterhood and the urgency of our common calling and to a communion of humanity, then we achieve incredible momentum. Jesus stood before the Temple and said -- this is coming down. And the writer of John (2:21) explains -- just in case anyone is not clear on the theology -- "he was speaking of the Temple of his body." Body of Christ -- all of humanity united in spiritual communion, to undertake and continue the work of transforming this world into the Kingdom of God.

You ask, can Muslims follow Jesus and stay Muslim. I know Muslims (actually most of the Muslims that I know) who are clear that following Jesus is being true to Islam. The same for me as a Jew -- it's no stretch at all. Jesus was a Jew, fully in the line of the prophets, and he was taking Judaism where it was supposed to go, and, in that historical context, where it urgently needed to go to be true to itself. History got in the way and we ended up with a separate religion. So much for religions -- they divide rather than join. That's our challenge today -- to come together to bring the Kingdom, and for that not to be a "Christian" thing but a universal message. Heck, that was the Christian idea from the beginning, to take what was tribal and sectarian and make it universal.

I haven't done a good job making this brief, so I'll cut if off here. Thanks for getting this going, brother.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Muslim makes the case for Christ--from the Koran!

Over the past few days, I've been privy to a private e-mail exchange with some very influential people (including best selling authors and high level politicians) about how followers of Jesus should engage the Muslim world. For accountability purposes, the conversation thread was cc'd to a few influential Muslims. Here is a response from a devout Muslim on the question of whether a Muslim can follow Jesus and still be a Muslim. I'm not endorsing everything he says here, but I do think that Christians in the West, especially American Christians need to be better educated as to what the Koran actually says about Jesus. It's so easy to stereotype Muslims as anti-Jesus, as if every Muslim thinks about Jesus the way that Bin -Laden thinks about Jesus. That's never been true, and it's not true today. Christians and Muslims indeed have some theological differences, perhaps even irreconcilable differences, but the differences are far less than what we might think, especially when we allow the texts to speak for themselves.

I've posted his words with permission:

I agree that Evangelist Churches in America are subject these days to kind of panic and their bosses sometimes act without showing great sense of responsibility. By the way, we have often seen such extreme behaviors and Manichean philosophy (world I only between very good and very bad and nothing in the middle) in this over passionate environment.

However, the fact is that their fears and worries are not out of scope and in my view it would be a mistake to rush blaming them and even more dangerous, to confront them. They will simply never accept it.

But what about the other side? Muslims must make the effort and Christians and Jews must ask their Muslim friends, sometimes without indulgence, to produce this effort.

Take as an example your question 2 which in my view should be changed into: “Can a Muslim be a true Muslim if not a Follower of Jesus?” The answer is: “No” and to explain this, I’d like to propose from a strictly Koranic perspective, kind of an overview…. Again, strictly Koranic… Not New Testament, not Old Testament… only Koran… In advance I want to apologize for the length of my message.

On behalf of Allah, Muhammad recited once a verse:

“Yes, We have given Moses The Book and after him, we have followed with the Envoys and We have given The Credentials to Jesus and We endowed Him with the Holy Spirit”… (S2, V87)

Audience asked questions to Muhammad about these words in particular about the exact meaning of the obviously distinguished rank granted by Allah to Jesus among all Envoys and also about who these Envoys are and whether he too, Muhammad, was an Envoy (Messenger) of Allah. And later the answers came from Allah:

“Yes you too truly are one of the Messengers”… (S2, V252)

“These Envoys, We have favored some over the others and some had spoken to Allah and We have over-ranked some of them and We have given The Credentials to Jesus, Son of Mary and We have endowed him with the Holy Spirit”… (S2, V253)”…

Each of Allah’s Envoys belongs to a certain rank. An Envoy can be only Envoy or Envoy and Prophet (Nabi) or Envoy and Prophet and Nazir, or Envoy and Prophet and Nazir and Messenger (carrying a message, Rasul) but among all Allah’s Envoys there is only one who is altogether Envoy, Prophet, Nazir, Messenger and Christ (Messiah) and this one is Jesus, son of Mary and this is because He alone, was endowed with the Holy Spirit. In the entire Koran there is not even one single Envoy and of course not one single human whom Allah endowed with the Holy Spirit as He endowed Jesus.

Muhammad recited a verse about how Allah comforted Jesus who was feeling sad because people were disputing his Status:

“Allah said: “Jesus, I shall now put an end to your life in this world, and I shall elevate You to Me and keep You away from those who have not believed in You and until the Day of Resurrection, I shall rank your Followers above those who do not believe in You and I am the One Who Judge and among all of you I shall account those who disputed Him (Jesus) and as for those who have not believed Him, I shall punish them a harsh Punishment and for them there will be no help”… (S3, V55-56)

This clearly confirms that Jesus is above all the Envoys and that from the days of Jesus life in this world and until the Day of Resurrection, people shall be judged by Allah according to whether they were Followers of Jesus or were not. Again, this divine judgment does not only count for those who lived during the days of Jesus-Christ but for all human beings who lived since these days until the Day of Resurrection…

And why is it that all creatures shall be judged at Judgment Day according to whether they were Followers of Jesus or were not? This is because Allah’s Mercy is infinite and because of such infinite mercy all sins are eligible to Allah’s Pardon except one sin that shall never been pardoned: “the sin against the Holy Spirit” (as Christians must know this also was, according to the Gospels, the exact answer Jesus made to some who asked Him which sins shall never been pardoned).

And what does “sinning against the Holy Spirit” means according to Allah? Allah gives the answer:

“There is Jesus, son of Mary, Word of Justice (Logos) about Whom they argue”…(S19, 34)

Sinning against the Holy Spirit means disputing Jesus because Jesus alone was endowed with the Holy Spirit…

Now the Big Question came: why Jesus alone was endowed with the Holy Spirit? And here came Allah’s answers which altogether form the Center and the Perimeter (Alfa and Omega) of Mystery of Faith because they cover several mysteries: Mystery of Creation of all Creatures whether Human or not Human, Mystery of Resurrection Day, Mystery of Judgment Day, All Mysteries of which Jesus is the Center. Let us read what Muhammad recited as being Allah’s answers to these questions:

On behalf of Allah, Muhammad recited:

“It is for Allah about Jesus as it was about Adam who He created from soil and said to him:”Be” and there He was” (S3, V59)

This means that mankind that has started with Adam started again with Jesus Christ.Muhammad also recited (the first Koran verse Mohammad has recited. This was around January 17, 611CE in Makka, Western Arabia):

“Recite… Recite in the name of your Lord, Who created human from a spermatozoon” (S96, V1-2).

Few months later, Muhammad recited again:

“Human must consider from what he was created… He was created from an expelled liquid”…(S86, V6-7)

I shall not quote all verses restating the same evidence (it needs a book) and shall conclude by saying that Muhammad recited several verses in which Allah has indisputably drawn the following theological understanding about the Great Mystery of Faith:

1. All humans are creatures. A human creature is a combination of a Soul and a Body so as for the entire life of the creature in this world, the Soul lives in the Body. The Body is mortal and corruptible because it is resulting from a biological process that starts with a mate between a Female and a Male and which ends up after the Female has carried the creature to finally deliver it after a certain period of time (6 to 9 months). The Soul is immortal because it comes as a single unit part of a Universal Soul that is the source of Immortality.

2. This framework is valid for all human creatures including Envoys except Jesus-Christ because Jesus Christ is the only one whose Body hasn’t resulted from a mate between his mother and father. That is exactly what the Koran says because according to the Koran Jesus is born not from a human father but from the Holy Spirit. Now since the first verse of the Koran says that all humans are created from a spermatozoon and the same Koran also says that Jesus’ Body, though delivered to life by His mother, wasn’t created from a spermatozoon but as a Holy spirit, should we not conclude that according to the Koran, Jesus is not exactly a Human? And if He is not exactly a Human, so what is He? Especially that the same Koran adds that Jesus has the power to create life, overcome death, heal sicknesses and accomplish miracles which all are divine and not human attributes?

3. When the body dies, it get corrupted while the Soul goes back to the Universal Soul until the Resurrection Day. At Resurrection Day, Soul and Body are reunified again and the Creature, Soul + Body, present before Allah for the Judgment and Allah decides whether a Creature shall be pardoned and rewarded or punished and damned. And this divine decision depends on whether during the life on earth, the Creature has been a follower of Jesus-Christ because all sins can be pardoned except the sin of disputing about Jesus Status as a Holy Spirit. This body corruption occurs for all human beings including Allah’s Envoys except for Jesus and John The Baptist who resurrected alive from death (Koran S19, V15 for John and Koran S19, V33 for Jesus noticing that in the Koran Allah testifies for John while Jesus testifies for Himself). Jesus and John’s bodies were never corrupted because they resurrected ALIVE. According to the Koran (S3, V39), John was granted by Allah that extreme privilege because he was a prophet assigned to announce the uprising of the Logos of Allah. This is the confirmation of Jesus words: ”Among all men born from the flesh, John was the greatest”…

Carl all these words come from the Koran and they are Allah’s words and it is Muhammad who recited these words. Christians do not know that Koran says what is here and more dramatic, Muslims do not know, do not understand and many of them do not accept these words though they come from the Koran…

Is it not here that our focus must be put? Is it not more than time to tell the truth about Muhammad’s life and Islam, especially to Muslims? To overcome legends and fables that Muslim Scholars from the early caliphates times have invented about Muhammad and later transformed into sacred stories? Don’t we believe that peace between nations with different believes and more specifically between Muslims and non-Muslims is a global issue and that nothing serious could come out from a so-called “inter-faith dialogue” unless this dialogue is based on the truth which is that Jesus is at the center of the entire prophecy cycle and not only one step among others in this chain?

To simply tell the truth: A Muslim does not need to convert to Christianity provided he/(s) understands that not being a Follower of Jesus takes out from any chance of salvation?

Are we not sure that once this truth shall be accepted by Muslims, Evangelists will have no more issues with Muslims?

Muslims do not need to “convert” to Christianity… They need to understand that according to Koran as recited by Muhammad, Islam is impossible for those who are not Followers of Jesus and that Salvation is through Jesus-Christ and only through Jesus-Christ.

Again, pardon me for having been so long….

Your brother,

Sometimes I think that Christians need to be reminded that we don't own Jesus. Thank you Riad for reminding us that Jesus is bigger than the religion we know of as Christianity. May the Spirit of Jesus the Messiah, the Logos of God, continue to illuminate our hearts with His light and love.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can Muslims follow Jesus and still call themselves Muslim?

Can Muslims follow Jesus and still call themselves Muslims? My friend Carl Medearis has some insights on this that I think deserves a hearing.

Read it here!

Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Another martyr for Christ in Pakistan

I received this e-mail this morning from a contact in Pakistan. It dawned on me that I had been in correspondence with Rashid Emmanuel for the past two years. We even gave to his ministry a few times. Rashid will be greatly missed.

My Dear Brother Aaron,
We are sorry to inform you that:
Today July 19, 2010. Muslim extremists shot dead Rahid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people in district courts compound in Faisalabad today.

There were rumors and reports on July 18, 2010, that both of Christian brothers are free to go home from Civil Lines Police Station Faisalabad where they were detained on July 4, 2010, under blasphemy charges on complaint of one Muslim businessman of Railway Bazar because police told friends of Rashid and Sajjid that there is no proof found against them which may extend their detention.

Today, investigation officer Mohammad Hussian produced Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel before Judge in District Courts where he testified that police have investigated allegations leveled against them but found no proof that they may be charged under blasphemy.

Police investigating officer Mohammad Hussian told court that complainant Mohammad Khuram Shehzad lodged FIR alleging Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel producing a handwritten leaflet which he stressed is defiling Prophet Mohammad but police have report of Handwriting expert that pamphlet handwriting presented by Mohammad Khuram not match with handwriting of accused Christian brothers. Police further submitted that they have nothing to investigate against them and find no proof to remand them in custody.

The court ordered to send Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel to Judicial custody till next date to issue further orders.

As there were rumors that Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel are found innocent and will be released, the extremists Muslims reached in District Courts Faisalabad and were waiting for them to come out of court house.

As Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel were walking towards district courts custody cell with police, the unidentified gunmen opened fire and Rashid Emmanuel felt on ground.

Sajjid Emmanuel stepped to safe his brother but gunmen shot him down too. When police tried to fire back on gunmen, they also came under attack and Inspector Mohammad Hussain felt down on ground.

In minutes, masked gunmen fled from scene, till medical aid reach, Rashid Emmanuel died on spot while Sajjid Emmanuel and police officer were rushed to hospital, where they were pronounced dead till our posting this sad incident.

The leaders of Christian Lawyers Foundation, Rao Naveed Zafar Bhatti Advocate reported that adequate security was not in district court which made easy for killers to fled from scene.

Pastor Rashid Emmanuel was 32 years of age and running a Ministry while his brother Sajjid Emmanuel was helping him in Lords word.

.According to government reports, a blasphemy case was registered on 1st July, 2010, under section 295- C PPC, against Rashid Emanuel and Sajid Emanuel of 30 years of age who were residents of Street No.5 Daud Nagar, Faisalabad, Pakistan and arrested by police on July 4, 2010.

Muhammad Khuram Shezad merchant of Railway Bazar, Faisalabad, had complained that his servant told him that both Christian accused were distributing pamphlets in open bazar which is desecrating Prophet Mohammad and their numbers are under the writing of the Pamphlet. He went to PS and told fabricated story to police to charge 2 Christian young men under blasphemy.

The Muslims took out a procession on July 10, 2010, when they burnt tires and pelted stones on Catholic Church Warispura Faisalabad. The mob threatened that if these brothers are not executed according to Muslim law, the mob will exact revenge not only on them, but the entire Christian community.

Please remember our christians in your prayers.
God bless you all,