RELIGION

SAUDI ARABIA AGREES WITH VATICAN TO BUILD CHURCHES FOR CHRISTIANS IN THE COUNTRY

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In November, the head of Lebanon's Maronite church, Beshara Rai, met King Salman and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured) in a historic visit to Riyadh

 

( Daily Mail ) Saudi Arabia has agreed a deal with the Vatican to build churches for Christian worshippers in the Arab country, it is claimed by Middle Eastern media.

If confirmed, the supposed agreement between Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa of the Muslim World League would mark a historic first in Saudi history.

The cardinal has visited Saudi Arabia this year and met the royal family, urging the Muslim country to treat its citizens equally.

Under the alleged agreement the churches will be built alongside the establishment of a committee to improve relations between the two, Egypt Independent reports.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Vatican. MailOnline has approached Vatican and Saudi authorities for comment but they have not yet responded.

Saudi Arabia’s anti-extremism Etidal centre hosted Cardinal Tauran last month as the crown prince pushes for inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom.

Read more: Saudi Arabia ‘agrees deal with Vatican to build churches for Christians living in the Muslim country’

THE NEW YORKER: “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City”

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Chick-fil-A

  • The New Yorker Dan Piepenbring : “The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words ‘to glorify God,’ and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch”
  • “There’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A…Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety”
  • Mr. Piepenbring suggests, moreover, that there may be a sinister, “ulterior motive” behind the restaurant’s work, other than just selling chicken sandwiches, and it has to do with the G-word.

 

The New Yorker announced in a blatantly anti-Christian essay Friday that the arrival of Chick-fil-A restaurants in New York City “feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.”

The April 13 article by Dan Piepenbring, ominously titled “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” reads like old Ku Klux Klan propaganda against Catholics, Jews, and blacks. It is evident from the first line through the last that the only thing that disturbs Mr. Piepenbring about the restaurant chain is the overt Christian faith of its owners.

 

Apparently unaware of just how bigoted his essay sounds, Piepenbring offers as evidence of Chick-fil-A’s “creepiness” that its corporate headquarters in Atlanta “is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays.”

It makes one shudder just to imagine it.

Mr. Piepenbring suggests, moreover, that there may be a sinister, “ulterior motive” behind the restaurant’s work, other than just selling chicken sandwiches, and it has to do with the G-word.

….Piepenbring notes that Chick-fil-A is set to become the third-largest fast-food chain in the nation, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks. While he seems to have no issue with these last two—which are motivated merely by a desire for profits and market-share—there is something deeply wrong with a successful company owned and run by devout Christians.

Despite the fact that the company donates thousands of pounds of food to New York Common Pantry, Piepenbring adds, still, “There’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers.”

“Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety,” he scowls.

Read more: The New Yorker Freaks over ‘Creepy Infiltration’ of Chick-fil-A in NYC

HOW EARLY ISLAMIC CRUSADES DESTROYED CHRISTIANITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

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The Timeline

630 Two years before Muhammad’s death of a fever, he launches the Tabuk Crusades, in which he led 30,000 jihadists against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a report that a huge army had amassed to attack Arabia, but the report turned out to be a false rumor. The Byzantine army never materialized. He turned around and went home, but not before extracting ‘agreements’ from northern tribes. They could enjoy the ‘privilege’ of living under Islamic ‘protection’ (read: not be attacked by Islam), if they paid a tax (jizya).

This tax sets the stage for Muhammad’s and the later Caliphs’ policies. If the attacked city or region did not want to convert to Islam, then they paid a jizya tax. If they converted, then they paid a zakat tax. Either way, money flowed back to the Islamic treasury in Arabia or to the local Muslim governor.

632—634 Under the Caliphate of Abu Bakr the Muslim Crusaders reconquer and sometimes conquer for the first time the polytheists of Arabia. These Arab polytheists had to convert to Islam or die. They did not have the choice of remaining in their faith and paying a tax. Islam does not allow for religious freedom.

633 The Muslim Crusaders, led by Khalid al—Walid, a superior but bloodthirsty military commander, whom Muhammad nicknamed the Sword of Allah for his ferocity in battle (Tabari, 8:158 / 1616—17), conquer the city of Ullays along the Euphrates River (in today’s Iraq). Khalid captures and beheads so many that a nearby canal, into which the blood flowed, was called Blood Canal (Tabari 11:24 / 2034—35).

634 At the Battle of Yarmuk in Syria the Muslim Crusaders defeat the Byzantines. Today Osama bin Laden draws inspiration from the defeat, and especially from an anecdote about Khalid al—Walid. An unnamed Muslim remarks: ‘The Romans are so numerous and the Muslims so few.’  To this Khalid retorts: ‘How few are the Romans, and how many the Muslims! Armies become numerous only with victory and few only with defeat, not by the number of men. By God, I would love it . . . if the enemy were twice as many’ (Tabari, 11:94 / 2095). Osama bin Ladin quotes Khalid and says that his fighters love death more than we in the West love life. This philosophy of death probably comes from a verse like Sura 2:96. Muhammad assesses the Jews: ‘[Prophet], you are sure to find them [the Jews] clinging to life more eagerly than any other people, even polytheists’ (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004; first insertion in brackets is Haleem’s; the second mine).

634—644 The Caliphate of Umar ibn al—Khattab, who is regarded as particularly brutal.

635 Muslim Crusaders besiege and conquer of Damascus

636 Muslim Crusaders defeat Byzantines decisively at Battle of Yarmuk.

637 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq at the Battle of al—Qadisiyyah (some date it in 635 or 636)

638 Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.

638—650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.

639—642 Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.

641 Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.

643—707 Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.

 

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TIMELINE: CHRISTIANITY FIRST 1,000 YEARS

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Apostolic Age

 

Shortly after the Death (Nisan 14 or 15) and Resurrection and Great Commission and Ascension of Jesus, the Jerusalem church was founded as the first Christian church with about 120 Jews and Jewish Proselytes (Acts  1:15), followed by Pentecost (Sivan 6), the Ananias and Sapphira incident, Pharisee Gamaliel‘s defense of the Apostles (5:34-39), the stoning of Saint Stephen (see also Persecution of Christians) and the subsequent dispersal of the church (7:54-8:8) which led to the baptism of Simon Magus in Samaria (8:9-24), and also an Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40). Paul’s “Road to Damascus” conversion to “Apostle to the Gentiles” is first recorded in 9:13-16, cf. Gal 1:11-24. Peter baptized the Roman Centurion Cornelius, who is traditionally considered the first Gentile convert to Christianity (10). The Antioch church was founded, it was there that the term Christian was first used (11:26).

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How the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Died

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Many wonder how the 12 apostles died, but The New Testament tells of the fate of only two of the apostles: Judas, who betrayed Jesus and then went out and hanged himself, and James the son of Zebedee, who was executed by Herod about 44 AD (Acts 12:2). Read how each of the apostles spread out to minister and evangelize and how many of the apostles died for their faith.

Into All the World

Reports and legends abound and they are not always reliable, but it is safe to say that the apostles went far and wide as heralds of the message of the risen Christ. An early legend says they cast lots and divided up the world to determine who would go where, so all could hear about Jesus. They suffered greatly for their faith and in most cases met violent deaths on account of their bold witness.

Peter and Paul

Both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.

Andrew

went to the “land of the man-eaters,” in what is now the Soviet Union. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.

Thomas

was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.

Philip

possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.

Matthew

the tax collector and writer of a Gospel, ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.

Bartholomew

had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.

James

the son of Alpheus, is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.

Simon the Zealot

so the story goes, ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.

Matthais

was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.

John

is the only one of the company generally thought to have died a natural death from old age. He was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. During Domitian’s persecution in the middle 90’s, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation. An early Latin tradition has him escaping unhurt after being cast into boiling oil at Rome.

 

Read more: https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/whatever-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-11629558.html

 

Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources

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Michael Gleghorn examines evidence from ancient non-Christian sources for the life of Jesus, demonstrating that such sources help confirm the historical reliability of the Gospels.

Evidence from Tacitus

Although there is overwhelming evidence that the New Testament is an accurate and trustworthy historical document, many people are still reluctant to believe what it says unless there is also some independent, non-biblical testimony that corroborates its statements. In the introduction to one of his books, F.F. Bruce tells about a Christian correspondent who was told by an agnostic friend that “apart from obscure references in Josephus and the like,” there was no historical evidence for the life of Jesus outside the Bible.{1} This, he wrote to Bruce, had caused him “great concern and some little upset in [his] spiritual life.”{2} He concludes his letter by asking, “Is such collateral proof available, and if not, are there reasons for the lack of it?”{3} The answer to this question is, “Yes, such collateral proof is available,” and we will be looking at some of it in this article.

Let’s begin our inquiry with a passage that historian Edwin Yamauchi calls “probably the most important reference to Jesus outside the New Testament.”{4} Reporting on Emperor Nero’s decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . .{5}

What all can we learn from this ancient (and rather unsympathetic) reference to Jesus and the early Christians? Notice, first, that Tacitus reports Christians derived their name from a historical person called Christus (from the Latin), or Christ. He is said to have “suffered the extreme penalty,” obviously alluding to the Roman method of execution known as crucifixion. This is said to have occurred during the reign of Tiberius and by the sentence of Pontius Pilatus. This confirms much of what the Gospels tell us about the death of Jesus.

But what are we to make of Tacitus’ rather enigmatic statement that Christ’s death briefly checked “a most mischievous superstition,” which subsequently arose not only in Judaea, but also in Rome? One historian suggests that Tacitus is here “bearing indirect . . . testimony to the conviction of the early church that the Christ who had been crucified had risen from the grave.”{6} While this interpretation is admittedly speculative, it does help explain the otherwise bizarre occurrence of a rapidly growing religion based on the worship of a man who had been crucified as a criminal.{7} How else might one explain that?

Evidence from Pliny the Younger

Another important source of evidence about Jesus and early Christianity can be found in the letters of Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan. Pliny was the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. In one of his letters, dated around A.D. 112, he asks Trajan’s advice about the appropriate way to conduct legal proceedings against those accused of being Christians.{8} Pliny says that he needed to consult the emperor about this issue because a great multitude of every age, class, and sex stood accused of Christianity.{9}

At one point in his letter, Pliny relates some of the information he has learned about these Christians:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.{10}

This passage provides us with a number of interesting insights into the beliefs and practices of early Christians. First, we see that Christians regularly met on a certain fixed day for worship. Second, their worship was directed to Christ, demonstrating that they firmly believed in His divinity. Furthermore, one scholar interprets Pliny’s statement that hymns were sung to Christ, as to a god, as a reference to the rather distinctive fact that, “unlike other gods who were worshipped, Christ was a person who had lived on earth.”{11} If this interpretation is correct, Pliny understood that Christians were worshipping an actual historical person as God! Of course, this agrees perfectly with the New Testament doctrine that Jesus was both God and man.

Not only does Pliny’s letter help us understand what early Christians believed about Jesus’ person, it also reveals the high esteem to which they held His teachings. For instance, Pliny notes that Christians bound themselves by a solemn oath not to violate various moral standards, which find their source in the ethical teachings of Jesus. In addition, Pliny’s reference to the Christian custom of sharing a common meal likely alludes to their observance of communion and the “love feast.”{12} This interpretation helps explain the Christian claim that the meal was merely food of an ordinary and innocent kind. They were attempting to counter the charge, sometimes made by non-Christians, of practicing “ritual cannibalism.”{13} The Christians of that day humbly repudiated such slanderous attacks on Jesus’ teachings. We must sometimes do the same today.

Evidence from Josephus

Perhaps the most remarkable reference to Jesus outside the Bible can be found in the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. On two occasions, in his Jewish Antiquities, he mentions Jesus. The second, less revealing, reference describes the condemnation of one “James” by the Jewish Sanhedrin. This James, says Josephus, was “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ.”{14} F.F. Bruce points out how this agrees with Paul’s description of James in Galatians 1:19 as “the Lord’s brother.”{15} And Edwin Yamauchi informs us that “few scholars have questioned” that Josephus actually penned this passage.{16}

As interesting as this brief reference is, there is an earlier one, which is truly astonishing. Called the “Testimonium Flavianum,” the relevant portion declares:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.{17}

 

Read more: https://probe.org/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources-2/

 

PROPHET ISAIAH’S SIGNATURE LATEST BIBLICAL FIND IN ISRAEL

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( CNS News ) The latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features a piece by Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University. Mazar supervised the excavation that found Hezekiah’s seal among the thirty-three recovered bullea.

Among the other clay seals was one inscribed with the name “Yesha ‘yah[u].” () For those of us who didn’t study Hebrew, the name means “YHWH is salvation.” In English, the name is rendered as “Isaiah.”

You heard me, Isaiah.  The obvious question is: Did the seal belong to the Isaiah?

Mazar believes it may well have. The biggest reason is that beneath the name “Yesha ‘yah[u]” are the Hebrew letters rendered as “nvy.” Now, a piece of that bottom line is missing, so Mazar can’t be 100 percent certain, but “n-v-y” are the first letters of the Hebrew word “nabi” which means “prophet.”

 

Read more: https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/eric-metaxas/another-biblical-find-prophet-isaiahs-signature