Friday, May 27, 2016

AUDIO: An Orthodox Perspective on Islam

I was able to be present at Fr. Thomas Soroka's presentation on Islam last Autumn in Parma OH, and was greatly impressed by both his content and his tone. 

This is an extremely well done survey and analysis of Islam from an Orthodox Christian perspective, factual, dispassionate, yet unflinching in its conclusions, and ultimately evangelical and missions oriented in its call to share the Orthodox Gospel with Muslims.

Fr. Tom has given presentations on Islam at churches and cathedrals in Pennsylvania and northern Ohio, and now, thanks to Ancient Faith Radio, his most recent presentation has been recorded and made available for download and online listening.  Listen & Share. Widely.

Fr. Thomas Soroka: An Orthodox Perspective on Islam

On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Fr. Thomas Soroka spoke at Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission in Mechanicsburg, PA, on Orthodoxy and Islam. Fr. Tom is the pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and the host of both “The Path” and “Sermons at. St. Nicholas” on Ancient Faith Radio.

Part One: The History and Development of Islam
May 25, 2016  •  Length: 1:17:14

Part Two: Orthodox Christian encounters with Islam and how to present Orthodox Christianity to Muslims
May 25, 2016  •  Length: 1:41:02

Monday, May 23, 2016

There are 2 Billion Muslims in the World!

"Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges. When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components begin to creep in as well."

The below article is noteworthy for three reasons:

  1. It accurately describes the phenomenon which Islam scholar and author Raymond Ibrahim has termed "Islam's Rule of Numbers". See also Mr. Ibrahim's book, Crucified Again - Exposing Islam's New War Against Christians;
  2. It provides a context within which to understand the rampant crimes and sexual assaults being committed by Muslim migrants throughout Europe, and the infamous "Shariah no-go zones" in France, Belgium, Sweden and even London;
  3. It was posted by on Orthodox Christian monk, on the Ancient Faith Blogs platform. This tells us that the Orthodox world is waking up to the threat from Islam, and that accurate reporting and analysis is having a positive effect.

There are 2 Billion Muslims in the World!
posted by Abbot Tryphon, The Morning Offering, May 10, 2016

The perspective of Dr. Peter Hammond, a convert from Islam

Dr. Hammond’s doctorate is in Theology. He was born in Cape Town in 1960, grew up in Rhodesia, and converted to Christianity in 1977.

Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat:

Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.
Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is only one component and is a beard for all of the other components.

Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges. When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components begin to creep in as well.

Here’s how it works:

As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 3% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving Minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

  • United States — Muslim 2%
  • Australia — Muslim 2.5%
  • Canada — Muslim 2.8%
  • Norway — Muslim 2.8%
  • China — Muslim 2.9%
  • Italy — Muslim 2.5%

At 3% to 8%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

  • Denmark — Muslim 5%
  • Germany — Muslim 6.7%
  • United Kingdom — Muslim 7.7%
  • Spain — Muslim 8%
  • Thailand — Muslim 7.6%

From 8% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cardinal Robert Sarah: United States Faces ‘Insidious War’ Against Christians

While other countries face “merciless beheadings,” “bombings of churches” and “torching of orphanages,” in the United States Christians face an “equally damaging, yet more hidden” form of religious persecution, warned Cardinal Robert Sarah...

by Thomas D. Williams, PhD, Breitbart News, May 19, 2016:

In a scathing address at a prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. this week, a high-ranking Vatican cardinal has denounced an “insidious war” against Christians taking place in the United States under the guise of tolerance.

While other countries face “merciless beheadings,” “bombings of churches” and “torching of orphanages,” in the United States Christians face an “equally damaging, yet more hidden” form of religious persecution, warned Cardinal Robert Sarah, the African prelate serving as the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.

Sarah (whose name is pronounced Sar-AH and not like the English girl’s name) said that in America, “political leaders, lobby groups and mass media seek to neutralize and depersonalize the conscience of Christians so as to dissolve them in a fluid society without religion and without God.”

By doing this, he said, they are carrying out “the will of the Evil One.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Raymond Ibrahim: 'How Islam Erased Christianity from History'

While Christianity continues to be physically erased from the Middle East, lesser known is that its historical role and presence is also being expunged from memory.

by Raymond Ibrahim, PJ Media, April 24, 2016:

Last month a video emerged showing Islamic State members tossing hundreds of Christian textbooks, many of them emblazoned with crosses, into a large bonfire.   As one report put it, ISIS was “burning Christian textbooks in an attempt to erase all traces of” Christianity from the ancient region of Mosul, where Christianity once thrived for centuries before the rise of Islam.

As usual, ISIS is ultimately an extreme example of Islam’s normative approach.  

This was confirmed during a recent conference in Amman, Jordan hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Political Studies. While presenting, Dr. Hena al-Kaldani, a Christian, said that “there is a complete cancelation of Arab Christian history in the pre-Islamic era,” “many historical mistakes,” and “unjustifiable historic leaps in our Jordanian curriculum.”  “Tenth grade textbooks omit any mention of any Christian or church history in the region.”  Wherever Christianity is mentioned, omissions and mischaracterizations proliferate, including the portrayal of Christianity as a Western (that is, “foreign”) source of colonization, said al-Kaldani.

Of course, Christian minorities throughout the Middle East—not just in Jordan—have long maintained that the history taught in public classrooms habitually suppresses the region’s Christian heritage while magnifying (including by lying about) Islam.

“It sounds absurd, but Muslims more or less know nothing about Christians, even though they make up a large part of the population and are in fact the original Egyptians,” said Kamal Mougheeth, a retired teacher in Egypt: “Egypt was Christian for six or seven centuries [before the Muslim invasion around 640].  The sad thing is that for many years the history books skipped from Cleopatra to the Muslim conquest of Egypt.  The Christian era was gone.  Disappeared.  An enormous black whole.”[i]

Saturday, May 14, 2016

William Kilpatrick: 'Good Islam vs. Bad Islam'

"The assumption that there is a sharp divide between Good Islam and Bad Islam is a comforting [but] also a dangerous illusion. In the short run, holding such an assumption will make us feel good about our broad-mindedness. In the long run, we will be very sorry for having played this dangerous game of let’s pretend."

John Kerry and Grand Imam Ali Mustafa Ya’qub at the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, Feb. 2014. (photo credit: US Department of State)

Good Islam vs. Bad Islam
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine, May 4, 2016:

The February 11 edition of FrontPage Magazine contains an insightful piece by Daniel Greenfield on our failed counterterrorism strategy. Our policy, he wrote, is based on an artificial distinction between “Good Islam” and “Bad Islam.” Our aim, he continued, is to “convince Good Islam to have nothing to do with Bad Islam.”

Ironically, as Greenfield observed, “our diplomats and politicians don’t verbally acknowledge the existence of Bad Islam.” Instead they claim that the “bad Muslims” (the terrorists) aren’t really Muslims at all. To paraphrase various world leaders, the terrorists have “nothing to do with Islam,” “speak for no religion,” and have completely “perverted” the meaning of Islam. Technically, they’re not bad Muslims, because they’re no kind of Muslim. At least, that’s what the theory says.

In other words, our strategy is based on a circular argument: if you start with the premise that Islam is a peaceful religion, then those who break the peace cannot, by definition, be followers of Islam. They must be motivated by something else: grievances over imperialism, lust for power, or even some kind of psychological defect.

Giving Preference to Christian Migrants

"This is a perfect opportunity for us to open our arms to the many Christian refugees fleeing persecution, often at the hands of Muslims, and to ask serious questions about the compatibility of Islamic values and Western ones."

by Filip Mazurczak, Crisis Magazine, May 11, 2016:

Photo caption: Pope Francis meets migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos on April 16, 2016. (Photo credit: AP)

Since last fall, few political issues have both dominated international newspaper headlines and triggered debate within the Catholic hierarchy as much as the so-called migrant crisis. Recently, many thousands of people, mostly Muslims, have been trying to flee oppressive political regimes, wars, and difficult economies in the Middle East and Africa for the West, especially Europe. 

While political leaders and many prominent churchmen, including the pope himself, have pushed hard for the West to accept large numbers of migrants regardless of their religion, there are many sound reasons to fear a massive influx of Muslims. However, that doesn’t mean that the West should reject migrants altogether. On the contrary, this is a perfect opportunity for us to open our arms to the many Christian refugees fleeing persecution, often at the hands of Muslims, and to ask serious questions about the compatibility of Islamic values and Western ones.

An Islamic Historian’s Response to Donald Trump’s Proposed Muslim Immigration Ban

In light of [the] data, a good argument can be made that the US should allow Muslim immigration—but primarily, and perhaps solely, from Islamic sects and not Sunnis. 

by Timothy R. Furnish, PhD, History News Network, May 13, 2016:

Donald Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the US, floated last December, provoked a predictable firestorm of criticism both domestically and abroad, and recently the presumptive Republican nominee for President has moved to moderate his stance

Many if not most on the Left have not only dismissed his idea out-0f-hand, but condemned it as “racist,” while many on the Right support it. Contra the political extremes of both Left and Right, however, I think Trump has a point, if the plan were fine-tuned. Some Muslims should probably be banned (which almost certainly would be legal), but not all; and to differentiate those categories requires honest research and analysis, not emoting and propaganda.

The starting point for this evaluation is whether adherents of the world’s second-largest faith are more prone to violence than those of other religions. 

Far too many liberals, and most Muslims of course, vehemently deny any such connection. But facts are stubborn things. 

Of the 59 groups currently on the US State Department foreign terrorist list, 41, or 69%, are Muslim. Every single one of the 82 groups on the United Arab Emirates’ terrorist list is Islamic. (Does that make the UAE “racist” one wonders?) There are 104 groups on the database of the University of Chicago Project on Security & Terrorism (CPOST), which tracks terrorism between 1982 and 2015; at least 80 of the groups therein, or 77%, are Muslim. Twenty-one of the top 25 groups whose members killed people in that same time-frame are Muslim. Also, in that 33-year period, suicide attacks by Muslims far outnumber those Christians, by 300:1. Yes, there was exactly one suicide attack by a Christian in the 33 years that CPOST has tracked the data. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

NEW BOOK: The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise

This important new scholarly work unearths primary sources to show that, "far from a land of tolerance, Islamic Spain was marked by religious and therefore cultural repression in all areas of life, and by the marginalization of Christians and other groups..."

I've added this to my Amazon Wish List, and have begun reading the Kindle sample, and am quite impressed already. For instance, Fernández-Morera is happily unafraid to address the explicit Islamic religious mandate in spreading its spiritual (and worldly) hegemony around the world, and to critique the Western epistemological deficiency which all too often ignores this primary motivation behind Muslim jihad:
Failing to take seriously the religious factor in Islamic conquests is characteristic of a certain type of materialist Western historiography which finds it uncomfortable to accept that war and the willingness to kill and die in it can be the result of someone’s religious faith... (Kindle Locations 137-138). 

This book promises to take its place with such important works as Bat Ye'Or's The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam,  Mark Durie's The Third Choice - Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom, Raymond Ibrahim's Crucified Again - Exposing Islam's New War on Christians, and Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Jihad - Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Crucifixion in Islam: As Christians ascend their Golgotha, the Great Winnowing accelerates

Islam's fixation on crucifixion reveals much about the false religion of Muhammad, and leaves no excuse for Christians who have yet to renounce the "Same God Heresy."

By Ralph Sidway

Orthodox, Coptic and Oriental Christians celebrated Pascha (Christ's Resurrection) on May 1 this year. That means we celebrated Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) on Sunday, April 24, commemorating the entire following week — Holy Week or Passion Week — leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial, and ultimately to his resurrection.

Without minimizing or shying away from Christ’s horrific sufferings, the Orthodox services offer beautiful and moving hymns in praise of Christ and the means of His sacrifice for our salvation: the “Precious and Life-Giving Cross.”

For some profound reflections on the Cross, you may wish to go here or here. (There are of course many superb resources on numerous Orthodox websites.) What I would like to concentrate on instead is the practice of Crucifixion itself, and then look at some implications of this horrific method of torture and execution.

In one of the meditations on the Cross linked to above, the author provides this excerpt from Martin Hengel’s book, Crucifixion:

Crucifixion satisfied the primitive lust for revenge and the sadistic cruelty of individual rulers and of the masses.  It was usually associated with other forms of torture, including at least flogging.  At relatively small expense and to great public effect the criminal could be tortured to death for days in an unspeakable way.  
Crucifixion is thus a specific expression of the inhumanity dormant within men which these days is expressed, for example, in the call for the death penalty, for popular justice and for harsher treatment of criminals, as an expression of retribution.  
It is a manifestation of trans-subjective evil, a form of execution which manifests the demonic character of human cruelty and bestiality. (p. 87)

Screen capture from a recent Islamic crucifixion in Yemen.
It is all too common to view the practice of crucifixion as a form of torture and execution from antiquity which hasn’t been used in nearly two millennia, yet this is hardly the case. 

In fact, crucifixion is a standard means of execution in Saudi Arabia, and there is a growing movement among Islamists (ISIS and others) to bring back crucifixion as the preferred means of punishment for a variety of crimes, including apostasy from Islam, “fitna,” which is a pliable term which can refer to unbelief or mischief-making, or anything which goes against Islam and Shariah. This is explicitly taught in the Qur’an:

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Resurrection of Christ and the Rise of Christianity

Because the false prophet Muhammad and his Koran deny that Jesus Christ was crucified, deny the Resurrection of Christ, and deny that Christ is the Son of God, now is an ideal time, as we in the Orthodox Church celebrate Jesus' Bodily Resurrection from the Tomb, to defend the historical truth of these events. Below is one of the finest articles on the Resurrection I have ever encountered.

To my Muslim readers, do not be deceived! Learn about the true Jesus and God's love for you, in the Orthodox Christian tradition, and "Come and see" what "Life in Christ" is all about! We are waiting for you with open arms!

Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!


The Resurrection of Christ and the Rise of Christianity
by Fr. Steven C. Kostoff

The Myrrhbearing Women encounter the angel at the empty tomb: "Why do you seek the Living among the dead?" (MT 28:1-8, MK 16:1-8, LK 24:1-9, JN 20:1-2, 11-13)

Orthodox Christians believe that the New Testament Church and the Christian faith itself appeared at a particular point in history because the crucified Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead. The cause behind the emergence of the Church and the Christian Faith was not a crucified, dead and buried Jesus. Rather, that very crucified, dead and buried Jesus was revealed to be both Lord and Christ following His Resurrection “on the third day.” 

God vindicated the messianic claims of Jesus when He raised Jesus from the dead “according to the Scriptures.” Contemporary Orthodox Christians readily agree with the Apostle Paul’s insistence on the absolute centrality of the bodily resurrection of Christ as the foundation of Christian faith in Jesus: "If Christ is not raised, then your faith is in vain and our preaching is in vain” (1 Cor. 15). Among all Christians this has been an overwhelming consensus since the initial witness of the apostles to the Risen Lord.

But since the emergence of critical biblical scholarship within the last two centuries or so, we find Christian scholars and those influenced by them questioning, reinterpreting or openly denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus. This process may be more accelerated today, or simply more prominent and public in its expression. A vivid – if not lurid - expression of this skeptical approach to the resurrection claims of the first Christians can be found in the work of the New Testament scholar Dom Dominic Crossan. In his reconstruction of events, the body of the crucified Jesus was discarded in a shallow grave, there to suffer the further humiliation of becoming the food of ravenous dogs. That is also the kind of counter-claim that will attract a good deal of publicity.