Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Archive for February, 2011

Democracy and ISLAM

A relevant and urgent question often heard today is this: Is DEMOCRACY possible in Islam? The answer is rather simple: NO! Democracy is not possible and I can easily prove it by “sample A” – the impossibility of religious freedom
in a truly Islamic country.

The fact is that it is impossible to have religious freedom (the right to choose and change your religion as you wish) in a truly Islamic country! This cannot and should not be denied and there are countless examples to prove this. I will mention a very recent example still in the news (actually – largely ignored my mainstream media) and then I will exhibit some stats and facts to understand how Muslims think about religious freedom and democracy.

Note the following recent news from Afghanistan:

“In Afghanistan, where the Christian population is almost non-existent, one Christian is on the verge of execution by the government. His crime? Conversion from Islam to Christianity. Said (or Sayed) Musa was among 25 Christians arrested last May, four days after their Christian worship service was featured on Noorin TV, according to Paul Marshall, a religious freedom expert who has co-authored with Nina Shea the forthcoming book, “Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide” (October 2011).

[This is a book that I suspect will eloquently argue the same point and I hope to read it when it comes out! Meanwhile you may take a look at this excellent book by Samuel Zwemer: The Law of Apostasy in Islam. You can download it for free – written by a great Muslim scholar who taught at Princeton early in the 20th century.]

Writing for National Review Online, Marshall summarized the brutality experienced by Musa since his arrest: beatings, sexual assault and sleep deprivation. A letter from Musa has been smuggled to the West detailing his peril.

The Afghan government is defiant, insisting that citizens who convert from Islam to Christianity must be punished with death.”

For other specific cases of conversion in Muslim countries see here.

Now here are some recent stats from Egypt which show a real schizophrenia, or perhaps a simple lack of understanding of what religious freedom means.

When asked about the death penalty (see here) for those who leave the Muslim religion 84% of Muslims in Egypt said they would favor making it the law (this is 86% in Jordan which is considered a moderate Muslim country, but has the death penalty for apostasy!), 74% in Pakistan etc. What makes it schizophrenic is the fact that 59 % of Egyptians said that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government and about 85% said that they favor religious freedom (I cannot find the source but I remember reading that the number was very similar with that of Muslims who favor death penalty for those who leave Islam).

Now – how can you be in favor of religious freedom and also in favor of the death penalty for those who leave Islam??? Clearly there is a problem here, though I assume that those Egyptians don’t see the contradiction. The fact is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to hold both views, and the Muslims in Muslim countries overwhelmingly are for the death penalty for someone who leaves Islam =) there can be no democracy in a truly Islamic country.

For – if you cannot chose/change your religion without fear of being killed, there is no freedom and there is no true democracy. It is sad, but true!

[I would love to be proved wrong!

For those who think that Turkey is a model for Islamic democracy, please note that Turkey achieved some form of democracy as a secular state and they have clear cases of minority discrimination. See also the news below about two cases of conversion to Christianity.

On 18 April 2007, two Turkish converts to Christianity, Necati Aydin and Uğur Yüksel, were killed in the Malatya bible publishing firm murders. Having tortured them for several hours, the attackers then slit their throats. The attackers stated that they did it in order to defend the state and their religion. The government and other officials in Turkey had in the past criticized Christian missionary work, while the European Union has called for more freedom for the Christian minority.

For the view that death penalty for apostasy is not Islamic, see here.]

Advertisements

Preaching the Ten Commandments Today

These days, following the lead of our pastor Daniel Kim, we are preaching through the ten commandments at Hallelujah English Ministry. In Hebrew it is actually the ten words (עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים).

I just started another website to post some material related to this. You can find the new website here Preaching the Ten Commandments.

When I heard about the intention of the senior pastor I was not very excited. I never preached from the ten commandments and I was planning to continue my preaching through Genesis (the Isaac story), and later from Ecclesiastes. However, since pastor Steve Chang started preaching through the ten commandments while I was in the hospital (he preached through the first four), I had to continue when I came out, especially since he left for his sabbatical.

As I started preparing for my sermons I realized that there was a lot of wisdom in preaching through the ten commandments, as they reflect the character of God and as the law functions as a mirror that should lead us to God and the cross. (Of course – the law has other functions: map/guide, muzzle/restrain etc).

So far – I find these books the most useful for my preparation (my time is limited, partly because of my knee injury):

Keeping the Ten Commandments by J. I Packer – this is a good and brief introduction to the commandments from a great contemporary theologian.

 

Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Ryken – this is the best resource for teaching/preaching I have found so far. It is very insightful and informed!!! He gives very good guidelines for understanding OT law and has a very good grasp of the Reformed catechisms (Heidelberg and Westminster) and of today’s culture.

 

Words from the Fire by Albert Mohler – this is also very insightful, but I find Ryken better.

You can get all of these 3 books on KINDLE (as I did), and that makes it much easier to take notes. If you can only afford two (or have limited time), go for the first two.

Two more books look useful, but I have not been able to access one of them in time though I wish I had it (it is not available in Kindle):

How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments by Edmund Clowney. I do not have access to this, but knowing Clowney’s theology and preaching I am sure it would be very useful. See the first review on Amazon for a good idea about this book.

The Ten Commandments in History: Mosaic Paradigms for a Well-Ordered Society also looks good (and I found it in my library), but I have not had very much time to look at this and I haven’t used it (almost) at all in my preparation. However, it seems worth looking at especially for its chapter on Jonathan Edwards etc.

My sermons (from the 5th commandment on) can be found here. They are from the early (10 a.m.) service because the second one is not recorded anymore. However, starting in March we will have only one service at 11:30 am.

Again – some material/notes for preaching the ten commandments should be poster here: Preaching the Ten Commandments.


Progress after 5 Weeks – ACL, Meniscus, and PLRI Surgery

Today there are 5 weeks after my operation. My ACL was reconstructed, my meniscus was repaired, and another ligament was reconstructed (PLRI?). They found out that this other ligament was (partially?) torn when they introduced the arthroscope (with a small camera) before the operation. For my ACL they used some of my hamstring for the replacement, while for the PLRI (?) they used an allograft (ligament from a dead guy L). That means I am now partially Korean! J

The first week was in a way the hardest, but it wasn’t terrible because I was sedated fairly well! J

I would say that the hardest thing during this whole process was the lack of sleep during the night. While this was no doubt due to the fact that I was sleeping during the day a few hours (what else can you do when you are in bed all day?), even when I skipped the daily naps (after 3-4 weeks) I had a hard time sleeping through the night. It was not because of pain. I was never in major pain, but it was uncomfortable to sleep with the knee brace and I just could not sleep well.

There were nights when I slept less than 3 hours (though I would sleep a few hours in the morning) and I am still having a hard time getting a decent night sleep, despite the fact that I sometimes take sleep medicine (doesn’t seem to have much effect). It is not prescription medicine.

At the five week point, my knee is still a bit swollen (and also my ankle), but I can bend my knee to about 120 degrees.

Next week I am supposed to get rid of the crutches. Praise the Lord.

I feel that I could walk without them now (?), but I will take it easy and follow the doctor’s advice.

For the past two weeks I have been preaching sitting on a chair for the first service (http://www.hcc.or.kr/worship1_2.asp; I am the nameless guy :)), and standing (on one leg) for the second (this is not recorded)!  So far so good!  I did not think the first time that I can stand in one leg for the whole sermon! Miracles are possible! 🙂

Over all – the recovery process is long and painful (the strengthening exercises are a bit painful for a person with terrible flexibility like me)! I hope and pray, however, that things will get better soon.

I can’t wait to walk without crutches and I hope and pray with many that the meniscus is healing well and the reconstructions are successful.

The surgery (with the roughly $1600 for the allograft) cost me about $5000. This is after the help/support from the national insurance. I just found out that my private insurance just paid about $3000, and they may pay a bit more after I give them the receipt from the allograft (that was only partially paid). In any case – so far I am happy that I may end up with less than $2000 from my own pocket. Praise the Lord!

Please pray for me so I can play in Brazil 2014!!! J

Well – really – play that I can be back to normal by 2012!

Thank you and many blessings to all!

Cristian R