Wednesday, December 28, 2005


by Shirley W. Madany

When it comes to robust health and communicable diseases we have made great strides. Young families are no longer faced with the threat of measles, chicken pox, mumps and polio, or the dreaded small pox. We are insistent on the use of immunization at an early age. Flu epidemics may still make inroads on school populations but the elderly are encouraged and offered suitable “shots” each fall to ward off whatever ‘flu virus may be expected. Good health is guarded by careful preventative measures. But how much thought do we give to building up our spiritual immunity against false doctrine, apathy or false religions? Right away the newly sensitive American would exclaim that such concepts are definitely not appropriate for a good American. Tolerance, in the form of excessive political correctness, has made us hesitant to have any strong dogmatic viewpoints.

We have a classic example in history of a once-thriving Christian population that completely disappeared. This was the community in North Africa that produced the church father, Augustine. The epidemic that destroyed every vestige of Christianity, was not biological, but spiritual. Church historians diagnose that quite probably the Christians in that region were in a weakened state, from heresies and from the battering they had received at the hands of the Vandals. When Islam in its infancy swept relentlessly across those desert lands, it met with little resistance. One after another, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco became Islamic countries. And the wave did not stop until Islam dominated all of Spain.

As we look around us today we would have to be blind not to read the signs of the times in the sad decline of Christianity in both Western Europe and the United Kingdom. And at the same time we are becoming more and more aware of the vigor of the new immigrants who are settling firmly in all these lands. It is no coincidence that they are from neighboring Islamic countries. And it is obvious they have a definite agenda—to promote the spread of Islam. Spain and France have predominantly North African workers coming from across the Mediterranean. Germany has a very large Turkish population. Britain has a mixture of Muslims from her former colonies, with a large number being Pakistanis.

Splendid cathedrals and humble churches are witnessing a decline in attendance. Writers tell us that we have entered a “post-Christian” era. Christianity that once flourished in Tunisia is now relegated to archeological ruins and museums. Are we going to witness the same thing happening again? Will more and more churches be turned into mosques?

These are challenging times for Christian families. How can we survive spiritually once we are weakened by our pagan environment? Certainly that is a legitimate way to describe our secular world. Television and Internet bring unwelcome people, situations and events into Christian homes. Movies have progressed (or regressed) to being art forms guided by philosophies, which play a part in the breakdown of Christian life. Permissive lifestyles are making themselves more and more “acceptable”. It is indeed difficult to maintain a healthy Christian walk through life.

There is a hymn that was popular in the 1950’s but is seldom heard any more. “We’ve a story to tell to the nations,..a song to be sung…a message to give….a Saviour to show—to the nations.” The chorus ends “And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.” How can we regain this vigor? That seems to be the question. We have watchmen on the towers, and we have just as much access to the scope of the Internet as the Muslims do, but we seem to be lacking direction and leadership.

Have you ever heard of the III&E? It stands for “The Institute of Islamic Information and Education”, operating out of Chicago, IL. Quoting from material received in 1994 we read: “The III&E has only one goal, that is, to educate the American people about Islam and Muslims and do it fast.” Some of their goals: “To remove the mis-information, mis-understanding, mis-perception, and mis-apprehensions about Islam and Muslims in American textbooks, media and the minds of the North American people.” Considering the 2-½ hour PBS special, “Islam: Empire of Faith” which is being frequently rerun and which shows a glorious Islam with its bad parts glossed over; and now an alarming new textbook, which must go beyond their wildest aspirations, one has to admire their achievement of so many goals within 8 years time.

Daniel Pipes, ( one of the most prolific writers on the Internet, has the clearest and most relevant response to daily events. He has brought everyone’s attention, on February 11th, to something that has been bothering Christian parents greatly, who have children in Grade 7 Public Schools and who are using a new Houghton Mifflin text book called “Across the Centuries.” It would appear that as part of their studies the children are being given an in depth introduction to the religion of Islam. They are urged to “think like a Muslim.” Now, if they had sufficient immunity that would be a good thing, but what accentuates our problem is our blissful apathy and lack of knowledge about this mammoth religion. Thousands of people
may not even be aware that it is a threat to our very way of life.

But back to Grade 7 and that new textbook. Students are learning about an Islam that is described in glowing terms. They are given assignments which may lead them to write about going to Mecca on the hadj – to write about what countries they would have to travel through, etc. Or another assignment was to write a journal as if you were a Muslim soldier on your way to conquer Syria (one of the first countries into which Islam expanded). The textbook endorses the key articles of the Islamic faith—can you imagine Christianity being given such an opening? It is becoming more and more obvious that people in areas of leadership are hesitant to even use the words Jesus Christ.

Now back to a declaration printed by the III&E in February 1994. You can quickly find this organization on the Internet. Reading from their web pages you will have to agree that they are progressing well in their aims. Other goals were “to take the message of Islam to the entire North American population by the year 2012, to educate and train new Muslims and help them to integrate into the Muslim community at large, to recruit and train manpower to carry out the above task, and to raise money and necessary material resources to complete the above task.” Already we see this powerful religion being put on an equal footing with Christianity and Judaism. In actual fact, we see Islam being given a preferred spot.

Islam is on the march. World conquest is a natural part of the Islamic thrust. Already it is the third religion in many European countries. In France it is the second. Mosques and cultural centers are appearing at an alarming rate. Not everyone realizes that in Islam the mosque is not just another word for church. With Islam state and religion are one.

In spite of, or because of, the tragedy of September 11th, the Muslims are proclaiming loudly that they are seeing an increasing number of Americans converting to Islam. These converts are finding the legalistic approach to life attractive. They see also a devotion and daring which is sadly absent from the average Christian community. Another challenge for us. Certainly our young people should learn more about Islam but not through the role-playing suggested by that particular textbook.

In fact, we all need to be prepared to answer for our faith. Empty churches are just the first ominous sign. For our own immunity the most important step will be our determination to seek the Lord for strength to live consistent Christian lives. How we need to “put on the whole armor of God!” When a church loses its zeal for the truth, the signs of weakening show first in the lives of its people. What must a Muslim immigrant think of our nations’s Christianity? Our lives have to exhibit an obedience to the Word of God and His commands. We will have to take a stand against all the ways in which the pagan world batters at our family’s door. Our actions should demonstrate a deep reverence for God and a desire for sanctification. It is possible, with the help of God; to live healthy Christian lives in the midst of a sick society.

Friday, December 16, 2005

More from The Mesopotamian blog site

December 15, 2005

Today was a tremendous moment of our history, a turning point and a real milestone. Say what you like; things are not perfect; there are countless problems; the “insurgency” is not going to disappear; the reconstruction effort is in shambles; there is corruption and thieving everywhere; errors and mistakes in everything. Yet despite all that, the political process is proceeding like a dream and the tree of freedom is taking roots, and that tree will continue to grow and grow and grow. The Iraqis are again confounding all the "pundits" and "experts". But some just cannot understand the true soul of a people. That this most profound revolution initiated by an act of liberation, by the daring praxis of the Americans, driven by some mysterious hand of the Providence, has touched the innermost womb of a nation, and that the present agonies of this nation are those of giving birth and new life. Oh no, that they cannot understand.

Well then, let them witness surprise after nasty surprise that will confound their logic and demolish their arguments. But the word mongers will always find something to say, as wild dogs are always wont to bark all the more hysterically as they are irked.The word of truth has a life of its own; it seems to perpetuate itself and spread in the consciousness and subconscious of peoples and generations like some incurable virus, that may remain dormant for a while but will manifest itself in the most dramatic way sooner or later.

Here is the outspoken view of an Iraqi, regarding the tremendous success of yesterday's election. It needs no further comment.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The St. Francis Internet Magazine

We would like to introduce you to a new Internet Magazine which we heartily recommend.
You will find it at In the current issue you will be able to find 7 new articles--even a complete MA Thesis--on topics that are of interest to anyone with an interest in Christian mission and the Arab world.

The following is what you will find in the December edition:

Challenges for Christian Theology in the Middle East by Dr. Bernhard Reitsma. Dr. Bernhard Reitsma argues that in the context of the Middle East, Christian theologians must be completely at home in the doctrine of Christ and the Trinity. He then treats some of the issues that are involved in this, and he argues for the need for a good pneumatology and a good theology about Israel. Tolle et lege!

Trinity and Christian Missions to Muslims by Rev. Bassam M. Madany. Rev. Bassam M. Madany argues that the doctrine of the Trinity is crucial to the life and health of the church as well as to Christian missions. This doctrine does not stand by itself, but forms an integral part of the Biblical revelation regarding God and His relationship with mankind.

The Jewishness of Jesus: Relevant of Essential? By Dr. Bernhard Reitsma. Dr. Bernhard Reitsma treats the Jewishness of Jesus in his article The Jewishness of Jesus: Relevant or Essential? No mission worker in the Arab World can doubt the importance of this matter and Reitsma's article, written in the context of his own work in Lebanon, is important.

Re-thinking Missions Today: Neo-Evangelical Missiology and the Christian Mission to Islam by Rev. Bassam M. Madany. Rev. Bassam M. Madany is a critic of far-going efforts at contextualization. His article Re-thinking Missions Today: Neo-Evangelical Missiology and the Christian Mission to Islam was written in 1985, but it is as relevant today as it was then. As Madany was the main Christian radio broadcaster from the 1960s to the 1990s, his views are important.

The Cross of Middle Eastern Christians by Daniel Hoffman. This article is written by Daniel Hoffman, the director of Middle East Concern (MEC). It was his Masters Thesis about the human rights situation of Christians in Syria, Libya and Sudan. Can mission workers ignore human rights issues?

Emigration: A Solution for Persecution?By Middle East Concern (MEC) . Middle East Concern (MEC) wrote this paper which argues that emigration is not a solution for converts from Islam, and instead gives three suggestions for how to help new Christians to survive and prosper in the Arab World.

The Missional Church by Don Golden. Don Golden of World Relief wrote The Missional Church. It underlines the need for church and mission to be united. They cannot be separated. Golden's article is worthwhile considering - many missionaries in the Arab World act as if they work isolated from the worldwide church, the historic church, and even from the national churches in the Arab World. This article was first published on A site full of relevant articles.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Translation of the Bible

When proclaiming the Biblical Gospel or teaching the contents of the Word of God to Muslims, one cannot ignore the baggage that Muslims bring to their hearing of the Bible in Arabic, or in any other Islamic language. Needless to mention that Muslims believe in the Qur’an as the final revelation of God to man, that it abrogates previous revelations, and that the Scriptures of the OT & NT have been corrupted prior to the rise of Islam.

The Christian messenger must do his utmost not to add any more difficulties, in his endeavor to bring the saving Word of God to Muslims. This is why, as a matter of principle, I do not favor having many translations of the Bible into Arabic, or any other Islamic language.
Let me be specific. Arabic is a living and changing language. I have personally compiled a list of the new Arabic vocabulary that I had not known or heard prior to 1950. Every time I look at Asharq al-Awsat or Assafir Newspapers, or the digital contents of BBC Arabic, I discover (now in 2005) new Arabic words. But, this does not mean that the language is of such a nature that ‘older’ Arabic cannot be deciphered by contemporary Arabs. Why? Because Arabic is based on the Qur’an. This document plays a very significant role in the life of all-Arabic speaking people, regardless of their religious affiliation. Arabic is tied to the Qur’an much more than English is related to the AV or to Shakespeare. Thus, the necessity for revision is much less needed than in Western languages.

One must always remember that any revision of an existing Arabic Bible is very confusing to Arabic-speaking Muslims. They cannot help but ask: why do you keep revising the Bible? We can and do read and understand the great books that were produced during the revival of Classical Arabic and Arab culture in the 19th Century; so why should the 1865 version of the Arabic Bible need revision?

But even a more serious reason for my refusing to believe in the need for new and newer versions of the Bible in Arabic is theological. I may be here stepping on dangerous grounds. The pioneers who worked on the translation of the Bible in the 19th Century were churchmen, and operated within confessional contexts. They adhered to the early Ecumenical Creeds and to the Reformed Catechisms and Confessions of Faith. They believed that that Reformation was a reforming movement within the Church, and that reformation can be achieved by turning to the Word of God. They had not rejected the Apostolic Tradition. They were not innovators, but reformers.

Part of being Confessionally Protestant (whether Lutheran or Reformed) is to believe that the primary means of grace is the preaching of the Word of God. See Romans 10 and I Corinthians 1 & 2. While emphasizing the importance of the written text of the Bible, the Reformers, and the denominational missionaries after them, believed that missions needed much more than a Bible translation. A.A. Hodge’s book on Systematic Theology was translated, and a great project of OT & NT commentaries was initiated. The Psalter was translated and we sang it in a beautiful Arabic poetic style.

If you would like to read the rest of this article please go to our web site and open up the new category of "Missiology".

Our web site is undergoing some changes which will make it easier to pursue certain subjects like Missiology, Theology, Islamics, etc. >

Posted by SWM