Tisha B'Av


While many churches have directed a lot of attention to such hot-button moral issues as abortion, homosexual marriage, and euthanasia, they have been mostly silent on issues requiring a uniquely Biblical perspective. For instance, Catholicism and Mormonism differ little from Bible-based Christianity on the basis of morality alone.

Consequently, the Laodicean church treads very dangerous waters. Humanism and ecumenicalism continue to erode the church's position on Israel. Christian dialogue today accommodates the growing secularist bias against the Jewish state. While this pattern has seen its ebbs and flows during the course of history, it's clear that anti-Israel sentiment is currently creeping through the churches. And it has crept in under the guise of pro-Palestinian independence/anti-Israeli government arguments.

Church apathy regarding Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip — and U.S. President Bush's support for it — is just one example of increasing international prejudice towards Jewish sovereignty.

The forced evacuation of Jewish settlers in Gaza and the northern West Bank began today. The formal deadline given for leaving the settlements fell on the 14th of August, which this year was also the Ninth Day of the Jewish calendar month of Av (Tisha B'Av in Hebrew).

Tisha B'Av occurs at the end of a three-week mourning period which commemorates the destruction of the first Temple (built by King Solomon) in Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and the second Temple in 70 A.D. Both events took place on the Ninth of Av.

Two writers with Biblical worldviews have posted superb analyses of the Gaza pullout. While each focuses on two very different aspects of the situation, they both believe the move will bring further instability to the region.

Joel Rosenberg is a Jewish believer and popular writer of Christian fiction. In a recent piece for the National Review Online, Rosenberg breaks down the political consequences:

Almost nobody in Israel wants to keep Gaza or govern the daily lives of over one million Palestinian souls crammed into the tiny sliver of seaside real estate. But the current so-called “unilateral withdrawal” is unilateral surrender. Israel will give away long-fought-over territory without requiring the Palestinian Authority to wage a real war against Hamas and other terror groups and without requiring the PA to pursue real internal democratic reforms to give pro-peace Palestinian moderates the freedom to speak their mind in public and in the media without fear of reprisals.

As such, Sharon’s gamble is bad for Israel. It is bad for the U.S. and our war on terror....
In his weekly commentary for the online site Apostasy Watch!, Steve Lumbley offers a tremendous spiritual insight into the controversy :
Many in Israel today vilify the settlers because they have the nerve to actually believe the promises of God. They are seen as obstacles to peace and religious zealots. They are blamed for the violence and terrorism being perpetrated against all Israel.

There is coming a time very soon when true Christians will face the same anger and resentment right here in the U.S.A. And just like in Israel our greatest opposition will come not from atheists and unbelievers but from those who call themselves Christians.
Please read his full article, titled "A Day of Mourning," here.

The Name Game


Over the past year, the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has mounted a public relations campaign, called "Not in the Name of Islam," which repudiates Islamic terrorism. Part of their petition drive states, "We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad." Last week, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa (religious ruling) against terrorism, which was endorsed by numerous American Islamic organizations, including CAIR.

This growing struggle within Islam, most notably in America and Europe, is about religious proprietary rights. Who can lay claim to the name of Islam, the "moderates" or the "radicals"? Such divisions should be familiar in the West, where Christians have long fought over whose version of Christianity is the correct one — to the delight of the secular media and intelligentsia. For decades, the consensus Western view of religion, especially when it comes to Christianity and Islam, is that two basic sides exist: the mainstream, or moderate, position and the fundamentalist, or extremist, position. Consequently, the favorable (i.e. mainstream) aspects of incompatible belief systems are conflated, unfavorable (i.e. fundamentalist) aspects are excised, and syncretized "faith" becomes the standard. Faith-based humanism, under its various aliases, is now the de facto religion of the West.

The real tragedy for Bible-believing Christians is the erosion of Scriptural truth. From U.S. President George W. Bush's oft-quoted declaration that "Islam is a religion of peace" to British PM Tony Blair's vague condemnations of the "ideology of hatred," the true nature of anything is distorted through the lens of a pluralistic, humanistic worldview. To Bible prophecy watchers, today's "fluid" definitions of Christianity and Islam are part of the inexorable push towards the one world religion (the Great Harlot) of Revelation 17. The Western penchant for religious pluralism has meant the ascendancy of inherently arbitrary relationship and/or experiential-based theology over textual orthodoxy. Relativism's effects are felt upon not only Christianity but gradually the religions that are brought over by immigrants to the West.

Cultural (or nominal) Islam in the Arab world is nowhere near as entrenched as cultural Christianity is in the Americas and Europe. However, the second- and third-generation children of Muslim immigrants to the West have begun to assimilate secularism, democracy, and other Western concepts into their worldview. The London transit terrorists constitute a minority. The majority of Westernized Muslims are more likely to be joining hands with the interfaith crowd and winning converts or sympathizers in that manner, just as the "purpose-driven" Christian church does as it brings in droves to its mega-churches. CAIR's petition against terrorism illustrates this trend toward the so-called mainstream. The Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America represent further examples of a new breed of Western-influenced Islam which, similar to humanist Christianity, touts morals and works while glossing over deeper doctrinal matters. Jihad may, in fact, be as foreign a concept to many Westernized Muslims as fornication is to their cultural Christian counterparts. Theological disconnect doesn't change the facts of history, however; Islam was born out of bloody conquests in the 7th century which continue to this day in the form of Islamic terrorism.

Postmodern relativism and pluralism can be found in today's Western Islamic thinkers. Salman Rushdie is perhaps the most celebrated (or notorious). Another example is Irshad Manji, the Canadian-born author of "The Trouble with Islam Today." She is adored by bastions of liberal humanism like the New York Times and decried by Islamic leaders. In a recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece, she wrote: "Why do we Muslims hang on to the mantra that the Koran — and Islam — are pristine? God may very well be perfect, but God transcends a book, a prophet and a belief system." Manji's words share the same perspective Christian humanists have on the Bible, a fact which she implicitly acknowledges when she continues with, "How about joining with the moderates of Judaism and Christianity in confessing some 'sins of Scripture,' as Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has said of the Bible?" Manji cites Bishop Spong here as inspiration, as if her advocacy for faith-based humanism weren't clear enough already.

A recent survey conducted by the Daily Telegraph found that one out of four Muslims in the U.K. sympathized with the motives of the London terror bombers. Newspaper polls like these are intended to generate news rather than uncover hard facts. No doubt such support among Western Muslim communities exists, but the reasons can be multifarious. For Muslims living in Europe and the U.S., lingering resentment of Western hegemony may fuel the sympathy more than theological orthodoxy or religious fervor. There may also be the sneaking suspicion on the part of Westernized Muslims (as with nominal Christians) that their fundamentalist brethren are the true torch bearers of their faith; in other words, there exists a love-hate relationship to which they won't readily admit.*

So where is this all going? Contemporary "faith" is often a guise for humanism, owing more to Nimrod than Abraham (of the Bible, that is). Man in his natural state gravitates towards the worship of mankind or a god defined on his terms. Humanistic Christianity and Islam will have more cachet in terms of a one world religion. Faith-based humanists like Manji, Spong, or the interfaith advocates at Fuller Seminary see no real distinction between foundational texts, at least in a modern context, or don't really care. For them, the Bible and the Qur'an are open to interpretation, represent neither absolute truth nor absolute falsehood, and are bridges to a broader universal understanding. The humanist credo is best summed up by "follow your bliss," (Hinduism through the filter of the atheist Joseph Campbell) which applies to its secular and religious varieties. Because humanism comes in so many forms, names and labels like "Muslim" and "Christian" have less meaning, which of course is one of its goals.

Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 7 (KJV):

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Islamic terrorism truly poses a grave danger to Israel, the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. But the greater danger to Christianity is humanism, whose guises are many and whose master masquerades as an angel of light and despises most of all Jesus' victory on the Cross of Calvary.

*Comparisons between cultural Christianity and Westernized Islam can only go so far. While moderate rank-and-file Muslims might be confused or in a state of denial, their leaders have not accounted for their religion's intense antagonism toward Jews and Christians. Bruce Thornton has written an in-depth article on the subject.