Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama to America: Accept Homosexuality

(Onenewsnow.com) Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC - President Barack Obama says that while he's dedicated to expanding homosexual rights, many Americans still cling to what he calls "worn arguments and old attitudes."

At a White House celebration of Gay Pride Month, Obama said he hopes to persuade all Americans to accept homosexuality. ""There are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters -- not yet," said the president. "That's why I've spoken about these issues -- not just in front of you -- but in front of unlikely audiences, in front of African-American church members."

Obama acknowledged that many Americans still disapprove of homosexuality. "There are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes," he stated.

He added that Congress should repeal what Obama referred to as "the so-called Defense of Marriage Act" -- and that his administration is working to pass a hate crimes bill and to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military.

The audience at the White House ceremony included Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson and other homosexual clergy. Obama introduced Robinson as a "special friend."
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Personal Reflection:
1. Note the rhetoric used by President Obama. He attempts to dismiss the opposing point of view by characterizing it as "worn arguments and old attitudes" yet he himself never addresses the arguments or even mentions what they are. This is rhetoric, not reason, which seems to be more and more commonplace in this administration. If Obama wants to be taken seriously by those who actually reason through these issues he needs to interact with the opposing arguments and show a little more intellectual integrity.

2. Note how Obama attempts to make this an issue of "acceptance." First, he dismisses his opponents out of hand (see #1 above). Then he commits a straw man fallacy by misrepresenting his opponent's position. He implies that those who oppose homosexuality are rejecting the individual rather than rejecting the immorality of the lifestyle. He states, "There are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters." But this assumes that in order to accept an individual you must accept everything about them as good, including a harmful and immoral lifestyle. Embracing a gay or lesbian individual does not mean you must accept the homosexual lifestyle as good, true, and beautiful. In saying this Obama seriously misrepresents and misunderstands the notion of tolerance.

3. Finally, Obama begs the question by assuming that homosexuality is natural and normal. Again, this is something that has to be argued for and not assumed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Same-Sex "Marriage" Loses Support

(Onenewsnow.com) Charlie Butts

A recent poll indicates that Americans are not as supportive of homosexual "marriage" as they once were.


A CBS-New York Times survey shows that support for redefining marriage to include same-gender couples has declined. Jenny Tyree of Focus on the Family Action tells OneNewsNow that, according to The New York Times, the figure dropped slightly -- but she believes nine percentage points is more than slightly.

"I think that this really digs into what Americans really feel about marriage -- that they like that [marriage is] defined between a man and a woman," she contends. "And also it's a bit of a backlash against the five states whose legislative bodies have redefined marriage very recently within the last several months."

Part of the drop may also relate to the continuing battle to defeat California's Proposition 8, she says, in which voters defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

"I think Americans really saw the intolerance that occurred after the Proposition 8 vote back in November," she recalls. "They saw that many who want to redefine marriage were not happy with really what the people decide, and what the people decided in California was to continue to define marriage the way it has been defined."

After the election, several lawsuits were filed to try to overturn the voters' decision. Another federal lawsuit challenging it was filed just last week. Tyree believes the poll also sends a strong message to the White House, which has stated as a goal to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Islam: Religion of Peace? Part 3 of 7

Islam: Religion of Peace? Part 1 of 7
Islam: Religion of Peace? Part 2 of 7

LIBERAL MUSLIMS AND THE LAW OF ABROGATION

Despite these seemingly obvious verses within the Qur’an which encourage warfare and fighting in the name of Allah, many modern day Muslims object. Critics of radical Islam often say these verses are taken out of context and misapplied by the vehement pseudo Muslims of today. Liberal and moderate Muslims speak of Islam as a religion of peace which in no way condones violence for the sake of Allah. What critics often forget, and what many Muslims are unfamiliar with, is the Islamic doctrine known as the law of abrogation. Muslim authorities state that “certain passages of the Qur’an are annulled (Mansukh) by verses revealed chronologically later, known as Nasikh verses.”(1) In other words, the revelations Muhammad received later in his life take precedence and may cancel out verses revealed earlier. The Qur’an teaches this principle in a number of passages. Sura 2:106 states, “None of our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?” Sura 16:101 reads, “We substitute one revelation for another—and Allah knows best.” These verses indicate a type of progressive revelation with which Allah is able to conveniently substitute and change previous revelations for newer ones. The law of abrogation is an inexact science and the number of abrogated verses within the Qur’an has been estimated to be anywhere from five to 500.(2) It seems odd that revelation from God would need to be changed and updated within a 22 year time span and yet this is exactly what we would expect if Muhammad and his followers were simply making things up as they went along.

The law of abrogation is not only found within the Qur’an but is spoken of by Ibn Ishaq in his biography of Muhammad, the Sirat Rasul Allah. As mentioned earlier, Allah revealed Sura 8 to Muhammad after his victory at the battle of Badr. Ibn Ishaq provides some commentary on the circumstances surrounding this particular revelation. We are told in the biography that Allah speaks to Muhammad saying, “O prophet, God is sufficient for thee and the believers who follow thee. O prophet, exhort the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast ones among you they will overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they will overcome a thousand unbelievers for they are a senseless people.”(3) This revelation contained within the biography corresponds with Sura 8:65. Muhammad here is told to encourage the Muslims to fight because they will be able to overcome great odds. Twenty Muslims will be able to defeat two-hundred unbelievers in battle and one-hundred Muslims will be able to defeat one-thousand. Ibn Ishaq then provides us with some interesting information regarding the response of the followers of Muhammad. We are told that “when this verse came down it came as a shock to the Muslims who took it hard that twenty should have to fight two hundred, and a hundred fight a thousand.”(4) It appears the Muslims did not really like these odds and became discouraged that they should be commanded to fight in light of such overwhelming numbers. How does Muhammad respond to this? What we do not find the prophet saying is, “Be of good cheer, Allah is all-powerful, most wise!” Instead, Ibn Ishaq tells us the following: “So God relieved them and cancelled the verse with another saying: ‘Now has God relieved you and He knows that there is weakness amongst you, so if there are a hundred steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a thousand of you they shall overcome two thousand by God’s permission, for God is with the steadfast.”(5) In the Qur’an this verse is found in Sura 8:66, immediately after the first verse revealed. In this account we see that Muhammad speaks a verse which is not accepted well by the people and so Allah immediately calls upon the law of abrogation because apparently the people knew better than Allah. The first verse revealed is immediately canceled out by the second and yet both verses still appear in the Qur’an, one right after the other. Both the Qur’an and the biography of Muhammad testify to the fact that the law of abrogation was part of Islamic theology from the very outset.

Why is all of this important? The law of abrogation is highly significant in understanding the role of violence in the life of Muhammad and the religion of Islam because verses in the Qur’an encouraging warfare were revealed later in the prophetic career of Muhammad, abrogating the earlier verses encouraging tolerance and peace. Verses such as Sura 2:256 which reads, “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error,” was revealed in the early part of Muhammad’s preaching while in Mecca. Remember that Islam is a tale of two cities: Mecca and Medina. During the first twelve years of Muhammad’s prophetic career the revelations he received tended to advocate an attitude of acceptance and peace. It was not until the later Medinian period of his life that Muhammad’s preaching of violence and Jihad came to full fruition in verses such as Sura 9:5. What does all this mean? It means that when we take Islam seriously and apply the law of abrogation consistently, as early orthodox Muslims did, we find absolutely no grounding to say that Islam is a religion of peace. It is more appropriate to say that Muhammad advocated a religion of peace established through war. Once everyone converts to Islam, agrees to pay the Jizya tax, or is killed by the sword, then peace will reign. The Dictionary of Islam states, “When an infidel’s country is conquered by a Muslim ruler, its inhabitants are offered three alternatives: 1) the reception of Islam, in which case the conquered became enfranchised citizens of the Muslim state, 2) the payment of the Jizya tax, by which unbelievers obtained “protection” and became Dhimmis,(6) provided they were not idolaters, and 3) death by the sword to those who would not pay the Jizya tax.”(7) In light of the law of abrogation it is simply intellectually dishonest to say that Islam in its truest form was anything other than violent and oppressive.
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(1) Lingel, Course Pack.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Ibn Ishaq, 326.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Dhimmis are members of a protected community, especially referring to Jews and Christians who live under Muslim rule. The right to practice their own religion was guaranteed by their payment of a special poll tax, the jizya (Rippin, Andrew, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 3rd ed., 313).

(7) As quoted in the Christian Apologetics to Islam Course Pack, Lingel.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Islam: Religion of Peace? Part 2 of 7

Islam: Religion of Peace? Part 1 of 7

THE EVOLUTION OF A PROPHET: FROM MECCA TO MEDINA

According to Islamic scholars, 86 of the suras revealed to Muhammad were given to him in Mecca while 28 were given to him in Medina (though it seems portions of some suras were recited in both places).(1) What is interesting is that the content and timing of these Meccan and Medinian suras seem to correspond exactly with the content and timing of Muhammad’s prophetic career. In other words, as Muhammad’s status evolves from that of an unknown preacher in Mecca to a strong political, religious, and military figure in the Arabian Peninsula, the content of his message changes as well from one of tolerance and acceptance to violence and oppression. For example, when Muhammad first began to preach his religion of Islam in the city of Mecca he was not well accepted. The Meccans of the time were heavily involved in polytheism and did not receive the version of monotheism proclaimed by Muhammad. It is during this time that Muhammad received revelations such as Sura 2:256 which reads, “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error.” This aya(2) seems to show Muhammad refraining from forcing his religion on anyone but content in simply declaring it to be true. It makes sense that Muhammad would take a more charitable attitude during this time given the fact that he was heavily outnumbered and suffering persecution in Mecca. Looking at a verse such as this gives the impression that the Qur’an encourages tolerance and that Muslims are to be at peace with neighboring faiths. However, in 622 A.D. Muhammad and a group of approximately 150 followers fled to Medina. This emigration, known as the Hijra, was the monumental turning point in the prophetic career of Muhammad, and for Islam itself.

It is significant that just prior to leaving for Medina, Ibn Ishaq tells us that Muhammad received his first revelation allowing him to fight the Meccans.(3) Sura 22:39-41 reads, “To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged…(They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right—(for no cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah.’” These revelations seem very convenient as Muhammad enters Medina and establishes his power base. Once Muhammad gained political and military power in Medina the revelations he received became increasingly intolerant and violent. After the Battle of Badr, a very important military victory for Muhammad in which 300 of his men defeated approximately 1000 Quraysh, Ibn Ishaq tells us that Allah revealed Sura 8 to Muhammad.(4) Sura 8:12, 39 reads, “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips off them…And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere.” It is during this time in Medina that Muhammad received many of his revelations concerning Jihad, or Holy War.

THE SWORD VERSES

These verses dealing with Jihad are sometimes referred to as the “sword verses.” There are approximately 164 clear and direct sword verses within the Qur’an which deal specifically with military expedition, fighting, or distributing war spoils.(5) This figure does not include numerous other verses in which Muhammad speaks of further aspects of Jihad such as his poor opinion of those who do not go on Jihad and the heavenly rewards which Jihadists can expect when they die and enter paradise. One such well known verse commanding Jihad is Sura 9:5 which says, “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war).” Sura 47:4 reads, “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them).” That Muhammad understood these verses to be applicable to Muslim life is found in the fact that he personally was involved in 29 battles and planned 39 others.(6) This means that during the last ten years of Muhammad’s life he was either directly involved in, or commissioned others to participate in, 68 battles (almost seven battles a year). This warfare mentality was carried on by Muhammad’s successors and confirms the idea that to be a Muslim during the first 100 years of Islam was to be a soldier fighting for the cause of Allah.
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(1) Lingel, Course Pack.

(2) Aya means "miracle" in Arabic and refers to the individual verses in suras.

(3) Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, Trans. A. Guillaume (London: Oxford, 1955), 213.

(4) Ibn Ishaq, 321.

(5) See www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Themes/jihad_passages.html.

(6) Lingel, Course Pack.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Islam: Religion of Peace? Part 1 of 7

INTRODUCTION

One and a half billion Muslims in the world today look to the prophet Muhammad as a life example and truest practitioner of Islam. Islam is currently the second largest religion in the world making Muhammad one of the most significant and influential figures in history. Indeed, the inception, growth, and current state of the Muslim religion cannot be understood without looking into his life and teachings. A prophet springing from the Arabian Peninsula, Muhammad was a man characterized by violence and a quest for political and military power as evidenced in the earliest written Islamic sources. The sunna(1) and teachings of Muhammad found in two of these earliest sources, the Qur’an and the Sirat Rasul Allah(2) by Ibn Ishaq, present a disturbing picture of a man whom many revere as God’s final prophet to mankind. This paper will look at the teachings of the Qur’an, the Islamic theological doctrine of the law of abrogation, and the life example of Muhammad himself.

THE PROBLEM OF HISTORICITY

There is a problem that modern day scholars are facing in attempting to study the life and teachings of Muhammad. They find themselves forced to depend entirely on Muslim sources and tradition for most, if not all, of their information. There are simply no sources outside of Islam with which to corroborate the early Islamic history which Muslims assume to be true. But the problem gets worse. The Islamic sources we do have are written anywhere from 150 to 300 years after the events which they describe.(3) In other words, we have no primary sources to go to in researching the life and teachings of Muhammad but only secondary sources which rely on other material no longer in existence. Therefore in looking at the Qur’an and the Sirat Rasul Allah it is not to be assumed that these sources are factually accurate and dogmatically correct in all respects. But this is not the issue or even what is most important in this particular discussion. What is important is the fact that these sources have shaped the minds and lives of billions of Muslims who have looked to them as guides and examples to be followed. Ultimately this is what matters more than the authenticity of the sources.(4) We look to their sources to find out about their prophet to see if he really was a man who can be called the final and greatest spokesman of God. It is appropriate than to begin with the Qur’an.

WHAT IS THE QUR'AN?

The Qur’an is acclaimed by Muslims to be the most important and authoritative revelation from Allah. It is God’s final revelation to mankind and held to be an exact word-for-word copy of eternal tablets existing in heaven. The word Qur’an, which means “to recite,” places Allah as the central figure of the book and consistently emphasizes His uniqueness and oneness. According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad was called to be a prophet of Allah at the age of forty in the year 610 A.D. During his twenty-two-year prophetic career he received numerous revelations from Allah via the angel Gabriel which were eventually compiled into the 114 suras (chapters) of the Qur’an. Muhammad spent the first twelve years of his prophetic life, from 610 to 622 A.D., in the city of Mecca and the last ten years, from 622 to 632 A.D., in the city of Medina. This is highly relevant to our discussion because the life of Muhammad, and therefore the religion of Islam, is really a tale of two cities: Mecca and Medina. Mecca was a time of peace in the life of Muhammad while his time in Medina was largely filled with war and violence. The contrast between these two periods in Muhammad’s life can be seen in the revelations he received and the example he set.
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(1) The life example of Muhammad which is then emulated by Muslims.

(2) The earliest biography of Muhammad as found in written form.

(3) Lingel (comp), Christian Apologetics to Islam Course Pack (La Mirada, 2008).

(4) Serge Trifkovic, The Sword of the Prophet (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2002), 12.

Are You An "Extremist"?

(Townhall.com) Thomas Sowell

While the rest of us may be worried about violent Mexican drug gangs on our border, or about terrorists who are going to be released from Guantanamo, the Director of Homeland Security is worried about "right-wing extremists."

Just who are these right-wing extremists?

According to an official document of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, right-wing extremists include "groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration." It also includes those "rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority."

If you fit into any of these categories, you may not have realized that you are considered a threat to national security. But apparently the Obama administration has its eye on you.

According to the same official document, the Department of Homeland Security "has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence." But somehow they just know that you right-wingers are itching to unleash terror somewhere, somehow.

So-called "honor killings" by Muslims in the United States, including a recent beheading of his wife by a leader of one of the American Muslim organizations, does not seem to arouse any concern by the Department of Homeland Security.

When it comes to the thuggery of ACORN -- its members harassing the homes of bankers and even the home of Senator Phil Gramm when he opposed things that ACORN favored -- the Department of Homeland Security apparently sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil.

Maybe they are too busy worrying about right-wing "extremists" who don't like abortions or illegal immigration, or who favor the division of power between the state and federal governments established by the Constitution.

In one sense, the Department of Homeland Security paper is silly. In another sense, it can be sinister as a revealing and disturbing sign of the preoccupations and priorities of this administration -- and their willingness to witch hunt and demonize those who dare to disagree with them.

Reportedly, the FBI and the Defense Department are cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security in investigations of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. That people who have put their lives on the line for this country are made the target of what is called the Vigilant Eagle program suggests that this administration might be more of a threat than the people they are investigating.

All this activity takes on a more sinister aspect against the background of one of the statements of Barack Obama during last year's election campaign that got remarkably little attention in the media. He suggested the creation of a federal police force, comparable in size to the military.

Why such an organization? For what purpose?

Since there are state and local police forces all across the country, an FBI to investigate federal crimes and a Department of Justice to prosecute those who commit them, as well as a Defense Department with military forces, just what role would a federal police force play?

Maybe it was just one of those bright ideas that gets floated during an election campaign. Yet there was no grassroots demand for any such federal police nor any media clamor for it, so there was not even any political reason to suggest such a thing.

What would be different about a new federal police force, as compared to existing law enforcement and military forces? It would be a creation of the Obama administration, run by people appointed from top to bottom by that administration -- and without the conflicting loyalties of those steeped in existing military traditions and law enforcement traditions.

In short, a federal police force could become President Obama's personal domestic political army, his own storm troopers.

Perhaps there will never be such a federal police force. But the targeting of individuals and groups who believe in some of the fundamental values on which this country was founded, and people who have demonstrated their patriotism by volunteering for military service, suggests that this potential for political abuse is worth watching, as Obama tries to remake America to fit his vision.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hope and Change: Yes We Can!

From a Stand to Reason blog posting by Alan Shlemon titled "Psychiatry Textbook Acknowledges that Homosexuals Can Change:"


Essential Psychopathology and Its Treatment is a textbook used at medical schools and psychiatry departments. The newest edition cites evidence that homosexual orientation can be changed and therapies that help people change are not necessarily harmful. The relevant text is on page 488:
While many mental health care providers and professional associations have
expressed considerable skepticism that sexual orientation could be changed with
psychotherapy and also assumed that therapeutic attempts at reorientation would
produce harm, recent empirical evidence demonstrates that homosexual orientation
can indeed be therapeutically changed in
motivated clients, and that
reorientation therapies do not produce emotional harm when attempted (e.g., Byrd
& Nicolosi, 2002; Byrd et al., 2008; Shaeffer et al., 1999; Spitzer, 2003).

Interestingly, one of the researchers they cite to back up their claim is Dr. Robert Spitzer. He was once considered a champion of gay activism because of his instrumental role in removing homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders in 1973. Thirty years later, however, he published his new findings that some homosexuals were able to change their "orientation."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Biblical Faith: Knowing


On Sunday, I spoke for 18 minutes at Mount of Olives Church with a message titled "Biblical faith: Knowing" and compared the basis of Christian faith with that of Islam, Mormonism, and New Age. Click here for audio and look for the "Know your Faith" message listed next to a black Jesus mug icon. I return there next week to present the second half on "Biblical Faith: Trusting."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Great Debt. Who Can Pay?

(Stand to Reason) Greg Koukl

Harry Ironside used to tell about a young Russian soldier. Because his father was a friend of Czar Nicholas I, the young man had been mde paymaster in one of the barraks.


The young man meant well, but his character was not up to his responsibility. He took to gambling and eventually gambled away a great deal of the government's money as well as all of his own.


In due course the young man received notice that a representative of the czar was coming to check accounts, and he knew he was in trouble.


That evening he got out the books and totaled up the funds he owed. Then he went to the safe and got out his own pitifully small amount of money. As he sat and looked at the two he was overwhelmed at the astronomical debt versus his own small change. He was ruined! He knew he would be disgraced.


At last the young soldier determined to take his life. He pulled out his revolver, placed it on the table before him, and wrote a summation of his misdeeds. At the bottom of the ledger where he had totaled up his illegal borrowings, he wrote: “A great debt! Who can pay?” He decided that at the stroke of midnight he would die.


As the evening wore on the young soldier grew drowsy and eventually fell asleep. That night Czar Nicholas I, as was sometimes his custom, made the rounds of the barracks. Seeing a light, he stopped, looked in, and saw the young man asleep. He recognized him immediately and, looking over his shoulder, saw the ledger and realized all that had taken place.


He was about to awaken him and put him under arrest when his eye fastened on the young man's message: “A great debt! Who can pay?”


Suddenly, with a surge of magnanimity, he reached over, wrote one word at the bottom of the ledger, and slipped out.


When the young man awoke, he glanced at the clock and saw that it was long after midnight. He reached for his revolver to shoot himself. But his eye fell upon the ledger and he saw something that he had not seen before. There beneath his writing: “A great debt! Who can pay?” was written, “Nicholas."


He was dumbfounded. It was the Czar's signature. He said to himself, “The czar must have come by when I was asleep. He has seen the book. He knows all. Still he is willing to forgive me.”


The young soldier then rested on the word of the czar, and the next morning a messenger came from the palace with exactly the amount needed to meet the deficit. Only the czar could pay, and the czar did pay.


We compare [God's righteousness] with our own tawdry performance, and we ask the question: “A great debt to God! Who can pay?” But then the Lord Jesus Christ steps forward and signs His name to our ledger: “Jesus Christ.” Only Jesus can pay, and He did.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Contradictions of Our President

(Awakengeneration.com) Sean McDowell

While my first passion (and formal training) is in theology and philosophy, I do love following politics. For balance, I regularly read the HuffingtonPost.com (liberal) Townhall.com (conservative) and watch CNN and Fox News to try and get multiple sides of every issue. For the past couple weeks, I’ve decided to pay even closer attention to the words of President Obama. In doing so, I’m amazed at how many times he directly contradicts himself. Yet what’s more amazing is that the mainstream media doesn’t pick up on these. Consider a few…

President Obama: Can we emphasize your Muslim roots or not? During the presidential campaign you strongly downplayed your Islamic background (strong criticism was leveled at those who included your middle name “Hussein.”) Yet in your recent speech in Cairo you emphasized your background and sympathy for Islam. In fact, you boasted of having “known Islam on three continents.” Which is it? And how far does your sympathy for Islam go? Why did you speak out immediately against the killing of Dr. Tiller, but were very slow in response to the murder at the recruiting office by an American Muslim?

President Obama: Are you a Christian, or not? You have claimed to be a Christian, and I give you the benefit of the doubt (as I would anyone else). Something you said recently, however, raised some concern. In your Cairo speech you said you look forward to the day, “…when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer." The term “peace be upon them” is used by Muslims to bless deceased holy men. According to Islam, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed are dead prophets. Yet, of course, to Christians Jesus is the living and immortal Son of God. You may think I am making too big of a deal about this, but remember, you have recently claimed to be deeply versed in Islam.

President Obama: Will you step down from your presidency, since your race is being used as a recruiting tool for white supremacist groups? Last night CNN had a program about the recent barrage of “hate” crimes (the death of Dr. Tiller, the murder at the Holocaust museum, and the killing of the military recruiter by an American Muslim). A CNN expert pointed out that Barack Obama’s presidency, since he is an African-American, is being used as a recruiting tool for white supremacist groups and that there will likely be a significant increase in such attacks. Given that your primary justification for shutting down Guantanamo is that it is being used as a recruiting tool for terrorists, will you step down as president for the sake of consistency? You seem like a team player, so why not take one for the team? I actually don’t think you should step down. You won fairly and deserve the right to serve your term(s). But is consistency too much to ask?

President Obama: Are you against nations working unilaterally or not? In a recent speech to international leaders you said that no individual nation should work alone—it must work in partnership with other nations. However, you also recently told Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel needs to stop building settlements in the West Bank, as the U.S. would not tolerate such actions. Your Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, chimed in, calling for a “stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions” from Israel in the West Bank (The Week, June 12, 2009, p. 21). In other words, Clinton is making unique demands that apply solely to Israel. Please clarify, for there seems to be a contradiction. If you are against nations making individual demands, then how can you level unilateral criticism at Israel? Are you reserving special condemnation for Israel that you won’t extend to Muslim nations? Sure, many Islamic nations would support your criticism of Israel, but that was not your justification.

It’s amazing to me that the mainstream media doesn’t pick up on these contradictions (except Sean Hannity picked up on the first one). Why not? The only explanation I can think of is its liberal bias. Check out this link for some recent stats that clearly show the media’s bias towards Obama. If anyone has another explanation, I would love to hear it.

David Letterman recently said that he doesn’t make jokes of Obama because he doesn’t provide any good material. Is he serious? This is hard to believe, especially since Obama claimed there are 57 states and also made derogatory comments about the Special Olympics. The media love for Obama is absolutely astonishing. It was best summed up by Newsweek editor Evan Thomas in an interview on MSNBC: "I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above – above the world, he’s sort of God."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Abortion and Human Rights

(Stand to Reason) Greg Koukl

Let me ask you a question. Are you against slavery? Do you believe that the issue of slavery is a moral position? Are laws legislating that particular moral position appropriate? What you've said is that it's appropriate to legislate certain moral issues and that you'd be in favor of that. The economic issue would actually be on the side of the South because slavery is what propped up the economic system of the South. When slaves were emancipated it gutted them of their economic force. Let's remove the economic argument.

Based solely on morality, are you willing to say that the moral issue of slavery should be enforced simply as a moral issue? This is a very important point. Many people have offered the objection that we should not force a particular morality in the issue of abortion. My questions are very pointed and leading, and they were simply to make the point that virtually everybody who makes that kind of objection actually does believe that there are cases in which morality should be legislated. We talked about the obvious issue of slavery because there is the human rights issue that is at stake.My encouragement to you and anyone else who would espouse the same position is to understand that the pro-life side is arguing this issue on the basis of human rights. The question for us is whether the unborn child is a human being that has inalienable rights in the same way that a black is a human being that has inalienable rights. If that is the case, it is just as appropriate for us to legislate on the abortion issue as it is in the slavery issue. It's not just a casual parallel because in 1859 Judge Taney on the Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott decision that declared that black people were not human beings and did not deserve protection under the law. That was a Supreme Court decision that was later overturned by The Emancipation Proclamation.

The point I'm making is that if you don't address this issue on a human rights basis then you're not addressing it on the basis that pro-lifers are addressing it. The questions should be asked about the appropriateness of abortion or about laws against abortion based on a human rights issue. To be honest with you, I and virtually every other pro-lifer will abandon the fight if the unborn child is not a human being worthy of being protected. We're not interested in getting into people's bedrooms and telling them how to have sex and how to live. We're not interested in restricting choices because we are bigoted and want to make people's lives miserable. We're interested in human rights just like those who argued against slavery.

If you are to reject my position on abortion, that's your prerogative. I respect your right to do that. But I would encourage you to engage intellectually the real critical issue: is the unborn child a human being? If you can answer for yourself with some rationality that there is no reason to believe that this is a human being, then I think you've justified your position. But I don't think the simple objection that it's not appropriate for one person to force their morality on someone else is ultimately legitimate. When questioned a little bit you acknowledge that that's not a valid way of approaching human rights issues.

What about cases of rape and incest?

I don't say that it's permissible in those cases. I think you're pointing out an inconsistency in this discussion that is very valid. I agree entirely and this is why I do not hold that abortion should be allowed in those cases. This really demonstrates how important the question of the human rights of the child is because it compels us to certain conclusions. It removes from us the liberty of making ad hoc decisions based on our emotions. We must approach this in a disciplined way as a transcendent human rights issue. If we don't do that we are not doing the issue justice.

But what I don't want anybody to do is to mistakenly frame this issue as one of choice. It is not an issue of choice any more than slavery was an issue of choice. It's not an issue of what a woman can do with her body. Frankly, a woman can't do what she wants with her own body and neither can men. Laws restrict those freedoms given the right set of circumstances.

The issue to be considered here is the issue of human rights. It's unfortunate that the press and certain people arguing for one position have framed the question differently because they have missed the entire point. During the slavery debate, both in this country and at the turn of the century in England, the issues were framed in the same way: choice, the government shouldn't be in the position of legislating morality, the government shouldn't tell us how to run our private lives. Yet there a human being clearly was at issue. Even then when you had a living, breathing human being standing there staring back, they still could argue that way. I'm not a bit surprised that it could be done with an unseen infant that is growing out of sight in the womb of its mother.

Anyway that's my personal challenge to you to rethink this issue in a different fashion.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Obama and the Holy Qur'an

(Onenewsnow.com) Jim Brown

A Christian writer says President Obama's recent speech in Cairo praising Islam is further evidence the American president has a "low view" of biblical Christianity.

Robert Knight, a senior writer for Coral Ridge Ministries, has written a column titled "Obama Nation's Low View of Christianity." Knight says he wrote the column as a service to everyone who wants thorough documentation -- not just bits and pieces -- of President Obama's statements distorting Christianity.

Knight argues that the most disturbing thing President Obama said in his Cairo speech was that the Middle East was the first place where Islam was "revealed."

"That word 'revealed' is very important," Knight explains. "It means an unveiling, and it means a divinely-inspired unveiling -- which would indicate that the president is saying the Koran is a holy book. In fact, he referred to the Koran several times as the 'Holy Koran.'"

Such a perspective from their elected chief executive, says Knight, should concern Bible-believing Christians.

"If you're a Christian, you don't regard the Koran as a holy book of any sort," he states. "You regard it as springing out of the Old Testament, because it incorporates a lot of the Torah, as does the Christian Bible -- but then it goes off into a false religion."

Knight says to call the Koran a holy book goes beyond diplomacy, yet Obama understood the significance of what he was saying because "of all people, he knows the power of words." However, Knight points out that most of the press in the United States missed or ignored the remark.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Jesus the Only Way?

Is Jesus Christ the only way to salvation? Compare and contrast how Joel Osteen and Greg Koukl answer this question. Then ask yourself, "Which is more biblical?"

Joel Osteen:

video

Greg Koukl:

video

Why Only One Way?

Why is there only one way to God? Simple: there is only one God. And there is only one human race. And there is only one problem between God and man: sin. And there is only one mediator between God and man who takes care of our sin problem: the God-man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Asking why Jesus is the only way to God is sort of like asking why a diabetic needs insulin. Diabetics need insulin because diabetes is a very specific problem with a very specific cure. If a diabetic were to say, "But I don't want to take insulin for my diabetes. I want to take chocolate syrup," we may rightly respond, "But chocolate syrup isn't going to take care of your diabetic problem."

In like manner, mankind suffers from a very specific disease: sin. And this disease has a very specific cure: Jesus Christ. Neither Buddha, nor Muhammad, nor any other religious figure takes care of the sin problem. Saying you prefer Buddha or Muhammad to Jesus in the realm of religion is like saying you prefer chocolate syrup to insulin as a cure for diabetes. Neither Buddha nor Muhammad suffered the wrath of God and solved the sin problem by paying the sin debt.

What About Sincerity?

But doesn't sincerity count for anything? No, it doesn't. Sincerity doesn't count any more in religion than it does in politics, economics, math, or science. You can sincerely believe something and at the same time be sincerely wrong. What matters is whether or not your beliefs correspond with reality. Sincerely believing you have a million dollars in your bank account or that 2+2=5 in no way alters the reality of the situation. And sincerely believing in a false religious system can no more save you than sincerely believing that chocolate syrup can save you from diabetes. Truth in religion matters.

Isn't This Narrow-Minded?

But isn't this narrow-minded? No, it's not. Narrow-mindedness has more to do with how a person believes than what a person believes. Let me explain. If I were to shut my mind off to all alternative options, refuse to listen to anyone else, and exercise blind faith in what I believe, than perhaps I may be accused of narrow-mindedness. But there is a difference between being narrow-minded and being narrow. All truth, by definition, is narrow. All truth claims exclude opposing and contradictory views. Even the statement "Truth is not narrow" excludes the statement "Truth is narrow."

In fact, isn't this exactly what Jesus said? In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus states, "Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Imagine someone calling me narrow-minded because I make the claim that diabetics need insulin. Of course, this is narrow, but not narrow-minded. Likewise, saying "Jesus is the only way" is in fact narrow, but not narrow-minded. Calling people "narrow-minded" is easy. Name-calling is always easier than intellectual engagement. But rejecting the message of Jesus because it is narrow is just as silly as rejecting the narrow message of insulin for your diabetes.

What Did Jesus Say?

Most importantly, Jesus Himself claimed to be the only way in John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me." This message is consistently taught and repeated throughout the rest of the New Testament (Luke 10:16, 12:8-9; John 3:18, 3:36, 5:23b, 6:28-29, 8:24, 10:7-8b; Acts 4:12, 16:30-31; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23, 5:11-12). The apostles certainly were not afraid to speak the truth of this message as it seems Joel Osteen is in the above video. We have to realize that the gospel is offensive (1 Peter 2:8). This doesn't mean we present the truth in an obnoxious matter. But it does mean that the message of the gospel is inherently offensive to the self-righteous, prideful, and depraved mind of unregenerate mankind.

Christians who repeat this message aren't making it up out of thin air because they want to be annoying, prideful, or arrogant. They are simply being faithful to the teachings of their Lord. Therefore, when people object or become contentious with the idea that "Jesus is the only way," it is not Christians they have a problem with but Jesus Himself.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Reconsidering Capitalism

(Onenewsnow.com) Pete Chagnon

The author of the book Money, Greed, and God says capitalism is not evil, despite the rhetoric coming from the White House.

Author Jay Richards finds it unfortunate that many Christians have misconceptions about capitalism. He contends many Christians see capitalism as a means to promote greed and corruption.

"These misconceptions are based on a caricature or stereotypes of capitalism rather than the real thing," the author believes. "In fact, I think you can make a strong moral case for the superiority of capitalism over other economic alternatives, and I want to persuade especially fellow Christians not to buy [into] these negative stereotypes about capitalism."

Richards' book discusses eight common myths he says people have believed about capitalism. One of those myths he calls the materialist myth. "Which is believing that wealth isn't created; it's simply transferred. But we know that wealth is created," he points out. "So just because somebody got rich, it doesn't mean somebody else got poor."

Richards contends in his book that if people want to help the poor and have an economy that creates wealth, then people need to focus on economic policy and actions and not just good intentions. And that is why he argues that capitalism deserves a closer look.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Obama, Tiller, Islam, and Little Rock

(Onenewsnow.com) Fred Jackson

WASHINGTON - The Justice department announced late Friday afternoon that it is launching an investigation to see who else may have been involved in the murder of abortionist George Tiller.


Tiller was gunned down at his church in Witchita Kansas last Sunday. Authorities quickly tracked down and arrested a man believed to be the shooter. 51-year old Scott Roeder of Merriam, Kansas is now facing a first degree murder charge.

Pro-life groups who have long protested the thousands of abortions that Tiller has performed over the years, including late term abortions, were quick to condemn the Tiller murder.

But in its press release on Friday, the Justice Department made it clear that it believes others may have been involved in Tiller's death.

Here is how the press release reads : "The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime, and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We will conduct a thorough investigation that will complement and build upon the fine work of the Sedgwick County District Attorney and other state and local law enforcement agencies."

The Justice department's announcement also states " The federal probe will consist of a thorough review of the evidence and an assessment of any potential violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) or other federal statutes. The FACE Act was enacted by Congress in 1994 to establish federal criminal penalties and civil remedies for violent, obstructionist or damaging conduct affecting reproductive health care providers and recipients."

In the wake of the Tiller murder, the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to "offer protection to appropriate people and facilities around the country." The directive was given in the apparent belief that other violent incidents might take place.

Some conservatives have questioned the extent of the reaction to the Tiller killing by the Justice department. They have pointed to an incident in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Monday of this week when a Muslim convert opened fire at a military recruiting center, killing one young man and wounding another. The conservatives have noted that there was no indication from the Obama administration that it feared there might be similar incidents at other military recruiting facilities or any attempt to link the Muslim man's actions to a possible larger Muslim campaign against U.S. military personnel or facilities.

And while President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was "shocked and outraged" by the Tiller murder, he has made no public statements about the death of the young recruit in Little Rock.

Personal Reflection: First, the murder of George Tiller was wrong, no doubt. It is impossible to reconcile murder with a "pro-life" position. Even if you believe that abortion takes the life of an innocent human being, and even if you believe that capital punishment is justified in certain circumstances (as I do), to carry out capital punishment is not the role of the individual but rather the role of the state. Pro-life organizations have rightly condemned the shooting of George Tiller.

Second, I am amazed to see how inconsistent pro-abortion choice advocates are in their thinking. This was no better demonstrated then by the President himself. He is "shocked and outraged" by the murder of an abortionist such as George Tiller who was known for his willingness to perform late-term and partial-birth abortions, yet at the same time, he is not "shocked and outraged" by the thousands of abortions that take place in this country everyday (each of which takes an innocent human life) but rather endorses abortion wholeheartedly. Rather then be shocked and outraged, why not just say that Scott Roeder was exercising his right to choose when he shot George Tiller? But that would be wrong of course. You cannot justify the taking of another individual's life simply by labeling the decision to take it "pro-choice." Yet this is exactly what pro-abortion choice advocates such as the President do when it comes to taking the life of the unborn.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You Must Be Open-Minded


I often hear people charge others with not being open-minded, claiming you need to be open-minded about issues that affect our society. Many people throw this claim around but I have never heard an explanation of what they mean by it.

Well, a while back, I was watching a news program where a guest presented a statement to the program’s host. The topic was political and the guest was a self proclaimed liberal while the host was a renowned conservative.

The guest stated “I am way more open-minded then you… I have supported more republican issues then you have democratic issues.” This guest, I’m afraid, has a misguided view of what open-mindedness is. They seemed to think open-mindedness was indicated by accepting a view you don’t agree with from people you don’t agree with.

Now I don’t know if this was actually their view but it seems fair to assume it is based on the context and use of their own statement. Also, it seems consistent with the way I have heard many others use this term. I hear this claim concerning moral issues, accepting other religious beliefs and other social issues.

Let me just say quickly that it is very important for you to ask clarifying questions to people. During your discussions or debates ask this simple question whenever needed, “What do you mean by that?” This simply question can help avoid miscommunication and help the other person think about what they are saying.*

Here is what I have come to understand open-mindedness to be. A person is open-minded about an issue when they present their point of view about an issue and are willing to subject that point of view to criticism or debate. It has nothing to do with abandoning your own belief but rather exploring why you believe it.

An open-minded person is one who seeks after what is true not after politically correct brownie points. An open-minded person is merely one who is willing to think about the arguments against their own point of view. As you may know, good arguments against a point of view can help people come to the truth about the matter.

You should believe in something not because it’s popular, feels good or someone told you so. You should believe in something because it is true. Therefore, a challenge to your viewpoint may show your argument was weaker then you thought (leading you to revise or reject it) or it may even help affirm your argument to be the more reasonable or true.**

It seems to me, the view that open-mindedness is defined by accepting the views of others you don’t agree with is itself narrow-minded. It narrowly believes there is no truth by arrogantly attempting to level the so called playing field of discussion.

The claim to be “open-minded” is more often then not used by opponents to bully others into accepting a particular view rather then encouraging rational debate. So next-time you hear someone use this phrase ask them what they mean by that.


* Concept taken from Gregory Koukl, Founder of Stand to Reason.
**Concept taken from Thinking About God, Gregory E. Ganssle, 36-37.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Who Are We to Judge?

The following is an excerpt taken from a report on a BBC interview of Obama this week in regards to his upcoming visit to the Middle East. The overarching context involves the decision of the US to get involved in Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

The president has faced criticism over his decision to give a speech in Cairo, with human rights groups pointing to Egypt's patchy reputation for political freedom.


But he said while there were "obviously" human rights issues to address in some Middle Eastern countries, the job of the US was not to lecture but to encourage what he said were "universal principles" that those countries could "embrace and affirm as part of their national identity".


"The danger, I think, is when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture," he said.


Instead, the president said that the most important thing for the US was to "serve as a role model".


It shouldn't take long for the reader to catch the core of this message. For clarification, here is the President's argument broken down to its logical parts:


Premise 1: There are ongoing human rights violations in the Middle East

Premise 2: Human rights violations are morally wrong

Premise 3: It is a greater wrong to judge countries of a different history/culture

Conclusion: Therefore, the universal prohibition on judging supercedes our duty to intervene


It would be unfair to say Obama is completely wrong. In fact, this is an inductive argument with a valid structure - meaning that if the premises are true, the conclusion must necessarily follow. On the other hand, if even one of the premises is incorrect, the conclusion fails. Let's see how it works out.


Premise 1 (human rights violations occur) is clearly true in visible cases of female oppression, political corruption, and unjust violence.


Premise 2 comes from our own moral intuition and follows from the biblical doctrine of our creation in the image of God.


Premise 3 might sound good as it's commonly heard in popular culture, but requires deeper inspection. If it is wrong to judge, why try to influence other countries as a "role model?" Why would we want to change them if we don't first judge their actions (violating human rights) as wrong and needing improvement? Worst yet, if these "universal principles" prohibit judging, the list of allowable atrocities becomes limitless.


Maybe he forgot about the genocide in Darfur. Or maybe he forgot his feelings about the Bush policies over "the last eight years." One might object those kinds of evils would not trump the prohibition against judging. But on what basis? The determination becomes arbitrary and ultimately meaningless. Anyone can justify their actions as long as they deem their acts immune from judgment. This was the famous defense of the Nazi's during international war crimes hearings in Nurnberg, yet no one would say judging them was immoral. In the end, Obama's condemnation of judging actions in other countries is a confused way of thinking. In fact, it's logically impossible. To condemn the act of judging is to commit the very act itself. You have to first judge "judging" as immoral.


Justin Webb [BBC North America Editor] says the president chose to speak to the BBC now because his team wants to reach the parts of the world the BBC reaches, with a message that is nuanced and thoughtful.


Dissapointingly, the message our president gave to the BBC is all but thoughtful. Obama bases his worldview on the assumption that judging is the worst kind of evil. But as we have seen, this not only justifies evil acts themselves, but is ultimately self contradictory. We can become comfortable in our plush lives in the United States where human rights violations are easily forgotten and beyond our sight thousands of miles away. I can understand the temptation to say "it's not our problem" and simply allow unpleasant events to unfold. In fact, it could be argued that engaging in wars against those we deem immoral is not always justified. But that is not what Obama is arguing here. Obama is saying we can't judge them at all! Perhaps he really believes this, but for the sake of those suffering horrible violations against their human rights, I hope he mispoke.