Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Pro-Hamas rioters burn Jewish businesses and attack a synagogue

From Huffington Post UK. (H/T Bree)

Excerpt:

France’s politicians and community leaders have criticised the “intolerable” violence against Paris’ Jewish community, after a pro-Palestinian rally led to the vandalizing and looting of Jewish businesses and the burning of cars.

It is the third time in a week where pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with the city’s Jewish residents. On Sunday, locals reported chats of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews”, as rioters attacked businesses in the Sarcelles district, known as “little Jerusalem”.

[...]Eighteen people were arrested for attacks on shops, including a kosher supermarket, a Jewish-owned chemist and a funeral home. Rioters, who carried batons and threw petrol bombs according to eyewitnesses, were yards from the synagogue when they were driven back by riot police who used tear gas.

“They were shouting: ‘Death to Jews,’ and ‘Slit Jews’ throats’,” David, a Jewish sound engineer told The Times. “It took us back to 1938.”

“We called our town ‘Little Jerusalem’ because we felt at home here,” Laetitia, a longtime Sarcelles resident, told France 24. “We were safe, there were never any problems. And I just wasn’t expecting anything like this. We are very shocked, really very shocked.”

Roger Cuikerman, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France told Radio France International: “They are not screaming, ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris. They are screaming, “Death to the Jews.” The community was not just scared, but “anguished.”

The government had banned a demonstration planned in Paris for Saturday, but posters were seen around the area which said “Come equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and batons” and promised a “raid on the Jewish district”.

France has around half a million Jews, the biggest population in Europe, and around five million Muslims.

This story is an absolute outrage. I do not like it when any group is intimidated with violence, just for their beliefs. It should get a stiff response from the government, but they are very liberal.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Christian NHS worker charged with “bullying” for praying for Muslim co-worker

From the UK Telegraph. (H/T Well Spent Journey)

Excerpt:

A Christian health worker has begun a legal challenge after being disciplined by the NHS for praying with a Muslim colleague.

Victoria Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist in one of the country’s most racially diverse areas, was also accused of bullying the colleague after giving her a book about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity.

In addition, senior managers told Miss Wasteney that it was inappropriate to invite the woman to a community sports day organised by her church.

The complaints led to Miss Wasteney being suspended on full pay for nine months.

Three charges were upheld against the 37-year-old Christian at an internal disciplinary hearing in February and five charges were found to be unsubstantiated. She had to accept a final written warning at work which will remain on her records for 12 months, as well as accept a range of other requirements designed to stop her discussing her faith and beliefs with colleagues.

Miss Wasteney said she was challenging her employers in court because political correctness in the NHS was stifling ordinary conversations about faith.

[...]The young Muslim woman was appointed as a newly qualified occupational therapist in a team of 30 managed by Miss Wasteney at East London NHS Foundation Trust.

I do not recommend speaking to Muslims about anything other than work at work, because of cases. If you want to say something, come home and blog what you want to say under an alias. We are not in the same world we were in 50 years ago. The things we used to do then are no longer safe. You can still have an impact, you just have to be smarter about how you do it.

 

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , ,

After Obama’s retreat of U.S. armed forces, Iraq plunges into bloody civil war

In 2008 and 2012, Americans voted for a “fundamental transformation” of our peace through strength foreign policy. And we got it. What does it look like?

ABC News reports:

Hundreds of Iraqi men, women and children crammed into vehicles have fled their homes, fearing clashes, kidnapping and rape after Islamic militants seized large swaths of northern Iraq.

The families and fleeing soldiers who arrived Thursday at a checkpoint at the northern frontier of this largely autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq were among some half-million people who have fled their homes since Monday, according to a U.N. estimate.

Workers were busily extending the Khazer checkpoint in the frontier area known as Kalak, where displaced women hungrily munched on sandwiches distributed by aid workers and soldiers rushed to process people.

The exodus began after fighters of the al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, seized the northern city of Mosul in a stunning assault Monday. Since then, the militants have moved southward toward the capital, Baghdad, in the biggest crisis to face Iraq in years.

“Masked men came to our house and they threatened us: ‘We will get to you.’ So we fled,” said Abed, a laborer who abandoned his home on the edge of Mosul Thursday. “They kidnapped other people. They took away some people for interrogation.”

The young man said rumors were quickly spreading that Islamic State fighters — as well as masked bandits taking advantage of the chaos — were seizing young women for rape or forced marriage.

It looks like a civil war.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

The Sunni insurgents’ lightning offensive in the past three days has sparked the biggest crisis Iraq has faced since it plunged into sectarian violence following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

ISIS overran Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein, on Wednesday. But early Thursday government forces fought back, said Ali Muhammad, an official in Sunni-dominated Salah Al Din province, where the city is located.

[...]The group aims to set up a state in a continuous stretch of territory from Sunni-dominated Anbar province in Iraq to Raqqa province in northeast Syria. Since capturing Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, on Tuesday it has advanced south along the Tigris River toward Baghdad.

In another indication of the increasingly sectarian contours of Iraq’s turmoil, ISIS on Thursday issued a threat against Baghdad as well as Karbala and Najaf. The latter two cities, along with Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, are considered sacred to Shiites, who make up 60% of Iraq’s population.

[...]U.S.-armed and trained Iraqi security forces put up almost no fight throughout the militants’ rout, witnesses said.

Who is to blame for this? Did it all happen by accident?

The UK Telegraph explains:

The takeover of large swathes of Iraq by Islamist militants should be seen as a damning indictment of Obama’s ill-judged decision to abandon the country to its fate so early in his presidency.

Throughout his tenure at the White House Mr Obama has made much political capital out of his claim to be an anti-war president: the man who brought America’s decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end.

But in his desperation to distance himself from the Bush administration, Mr Obama made no real effort to understand the implications of authorising a wholesale American withdrawal from Iraq three years ago.

There were many Americans – including many prominent Democrats – who took the view that, after the terrible cost that the US had paid for ridding the country of Saddam Hussein and establishing Iraq’s first democratic constitution, the White House owed it to the American people to make sure Iraq continued to develop as a functioning democratic state.

But for that to happen, Washington needed to make a commitment to maintain a residual military presence in Baghdad to ensure that Nouri al-Maliki’s government did not renege on his commitment to reconcile his political differences with the country’s Kurdish and Sunni minorities.

But after Mr Obama lost patience with Mr al-Maliki, and ordered a unilateral withdrawal of American forces three years ago, Mr al-Maliki felt he was no longer under any obligation to honour his commitments. Instead, he cultivated deeper ties with neighbouring Iran, thereby further inflaming Sunni tribal leaders who felt increasingly disfranchised in post-Saddam Iraq.

The result is the current crisis, which has seen the radical Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), seize control of large areas of the country, including Mosul – the country’s second largest city – and Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit.

For a more pessimistic commentary on these events, see this Investors Business Daily editorial, which tries to predict where this will all end. It’s not a good prediction, if you like freedom and peace.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

Disgusting: Pakistani woman murdered just for marrying the man she loved

From ABC News, a story to chill you and anger you.

Excerpt:

A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this “heinous crime.”

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Stonings in public settings, however, are extremely rare. Tuesday’s attack took place in front of a crowd of onlookers in broad daylight. The courthouse is located on a main downtown thoroughfare.

A police officer, Naseem Butt, identified the slain woman as Farzana Parveen, 25, and said she had married Mohammad Iqbal, 45, against her family’s wishes after being engaged to him for years.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, had filed an abduction case against Iqbal, which the couple was contesting, said her lawyer, Mustafa Kharal. He said she was three months pregnant.

Nearly 20 members of Parveen’s extended family, including her father and brothers, had waited outside the building that houses the high court of Lahore. As the couple walked up to the main gate, the relatives fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, her lawyer said.

When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, according to Mujahid and Iqbal, the slain woman’s husband.

One of these days I am going to write a post contrasting the Christian view of courtship and marriage, where the man has to PROVE that he is trained and ready to love the woman, provide for her needs and raise the children to be moral and spiritual, and the Islamic view.

Meanwhile, there was this horrible story about the pregnant woman in Sudan who is in chains in jail just because she is a Christian, not a Muslim.

Excerpt:

A doctor who is facing execution in Sudan for marrying a Christian gave birth to a baby girl in prison today.

Meriam Ibrahim, who has spent the past four months shackled to the floor in a disease-ridden jail, gave birth five days early.

The baby was born in the hospital wing at Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum and is said to be healthy.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, her lawyer Mohaned Mustafa Elnour said: ‘This is some good news in what has been a terrible ordeal for Meriam.

‘I am planning to visit her with her husband Daniel later today. I think they are going to call the baby Maya.’

Meriam, 27, was sentenced to death by hanging earlier this month after being found guilty of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian man, U.S. citizen Daniel Wani, who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire.

She will receive 100 lashes before she is executed – sometime in the next two years.

Before the birth, Meriam made the defiant claim that she would rather die than give up her faith.

In a heart-wrenching conversation with her husband during a rare prison visit, Meriam told him: ‘If they want to execute me then they should go ahead and do it because I’m not going to change my faith.’

An Islamic Sharia judge said she could be spared the death penalty if she publicly renounced her faith and becomes a Muslim once more.

Meriam insists she has always been a Christian and told her husband she could not ‘pretend to be a Muslim’ just to spare her life.

Another areas where Christianity is in sharp contrast to Islam is the area of evangelism. We don’t have to respond to people changing their minds, because in Christianity, the truth stands clear from error. Each person should decide for themselves – there is no compulsion in Christianity. But Islam is conversion by the sword, or by the threat of the sword.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Chris Sinkinson debates John Hick on religious pluralism and salvation

Looks like Justin Brierley on the Unbelievable radio show found a pastor with a Ph.D in philosophy, and he can really whip some ass. And that’s a good thing, because he is taking on one of the two leading proponents of religious pluralism, in my opinion, (the other being Paul Knitter).

The players:

John Hick is a noted philosopher and theologian who is a proponent of a pluralist view of religion – that there is one light (God) but many lampshades (religious expressions).

Chris Sinkinson is a pastor and Bible tutor who has critiqued Hick’s work.  He says that pluralism empties Christianity of any content and in its own way disrespects other religions more than his own exclusivist stance.

The MP3 file is here.

Justin does a great job as moderator of this debate. He said what I was thinking of saying a number of times during the debate.

Anyway, here is my snarky summary. I creatively paraphrase some of the things that Hick says to make it more clear. And funny.

—-

Hick:
- had an experience looking at the buildings of other religions
- other religions have buildings, so all religions are equal
- I spent some time in the East, and met nice Eastern people
- since Eastern people are nice that means all religions are equal

Justin:
- isn’t Jesus’ claim to be the exclusive path to salvation offensive?

Sinkinson:
- all religions that are exclusive and have to deal with religious pluralism
- even John Hick writes polemically in favor of his own view
- even John Hick thinks that religions that are exclusive are false

Justin:
- what about the blind man and the elephant?
- the story seems to say that other people have a partial grasp?
- but the story-teller himself has the privileged view
- so isn’t the religious pluralist just as arrogant as exclusivists?

Hick:
- well, it’s not arrogant to claim to have the right answer
- Jesus never made the claim to be God incarnate
- Jesus never made the claim to be the exclusive path to God
- historians don’t think that John’s gospel is reliable because it is late
- the proclamation of exclusivity was added by evangelists much later

Sinkinson:
- the historians who doubt the high Christology are radical skeptics
- the mainstream of historical scholarship accepts a high Christology
- the EARLIEST history about Jesus has the highest Christology

Hick:
- the moderate scholars do think Jesus was divine but that he didn’t think he was divine
- the phrase “Son of God” was used to describe any remarkable person
- only later did the early church turn the generic term into “God the Son”

Sinkinson:
- there is reflection on Jesus’ identity and developments, but not invention
- Jesus and his followers were in trouble precisely for linking him to deity
- why else would Jesus get into trouble and get crucified?

Hick:
- the Romans crucified him because people were saying he was the Messiah
- but the Messiah was not identified as being divine, but political
- and that’s why the Romans crucified him

Justin:
- do you (Sinkinson) think that people in other religions can be saved?

Sinkinson:
- the traditional view is exclusivism
- the other world religions are logically contradictory with Christianity
- you have to respect their differences – they are not the same as Christianity
- exclusivists allow that people can be saved by responding to natural theology
- and there are also other cases where non-Christians are saved, like old testament saints and babies who die in infancy

Hick:
- but people’s religions are based on where they are born
- so it’s not fair for God to expect people to be saved in one religion only

Sinkinson:
- the plurality of religions grouped by location doesn’t make christianity false
- that would be the genetic fallacy – rejecting an idea because of its origin
- the real question to consider is whether it is true
- and even the objection assumes that God is a God of love, who should be fair
- but how do you know that God is loving? that is an exclusive view
- how can the “blob” ultimate of religious pluralism be “loving” and “fair”

Hick:
- the ultimate reality is loving or not loving depending on each person’s religion

Sinkinson:
- but some religions and theistic and some are atheistic
- how can those God exist and not exist?

Hick:
- God is beyond everyone’s understanding, except mine
- God is beyond all definitions, except mine
- God is beyond all human understanding, except mine
- i’m not contradicting myself, it’s a mystery! a mystery!
- as long as you don’t look to closely, they’re all the same!
- allow me to tell you about God, which no one can do but me

Justin:
- doesn’t your religious pluralism mean that Christianity is false?

Hick:
- well, Christianity can’t be true, because it disagrees with other religions
- Christianity can’t falsify other religions, that would be mean to them
- other religions are just as “profound” as Christianity – and that’s what matters – not whether a religion makes true claims
- some religions are older than Christianity, that means they can’t be disagreed with
- we can’t let Christianity be true, because then some people will feel bad
- if people feel bad, then they don’t like me and then I feel bad
- if there’s one thing I know about the unknowable ultimate reality, it’s that it wants me to be liked by lots of people

Sinkinson:
- your view seems to be agnosticism – that nothing can be known about the “ultimate real”
- if we can’t express in words what God is like, then why are you saying what God is like?

Hick:
- the indescribable ultimate is described (falsely, but interestingly) by various tradition

Sinkinson:
- does the “ultimate real” exist?

Hick:
- no

Justin:
- are all the exclusive religions wrong, and only you are right?

Hick:
- all propositions about God in all the religions are false
- the experience of being deluded and having feelings about your delusions is “valid” in all religions
- all religions are equally good ways to believe false things and to have feelings about your false beliefs
- only my propositions about God are true
- everyone who disagrees with me is wrong

Sinkinson:
- so all the propositions of all the religions are wrong
- but all the experiences and feelings are “right”

Hick:
- yes
- all propositions about God are humanly constructed, and so false
- except mine – mine are true!

Sinkinson:
- so everything distinctive about Christianity are literally false?

Hick:
- yes, Christian doctrines are all false
- because if they were true, other religions would be false, and they would feel bad
- and we can’t have that, because everyone has to like me
- only things that don’t offend people in other religions can be true

Sinkinson:
- so do we have to then treat all religions as non-propositional?

Hick:
- well just don’t ask people about the content of their beliefs
- just treat their religion as non-cognitive rituals, feelings and experiences
- don’t inquire too deeply into it, because all religions are all nonsense
- i’m very respectful and tolerant of different religions!

Sinkinson:
- but Muslims, for example, think their religion is making truth claims

Hick:
- but there can be tolerance as long as you treat religions as non-propositional nonsense

Sinkinson:
- um, I have a higher respect for religions than you do
- I actually consider that the claims of other religions could be true
- I think that other religions make truth claims and not nonsense claims

Hick:
- well they are all useful because they are all false
- I don’t emphasize beliefs, I emphasize living, experiences and feelings
- as long as everyone accepts my view and rejects their religion, we’ll all be tolerant

Justin:
- erm, isn’t that an exclusive claim?
- you’re trying to say that your view of what religion is is right, and everyone else is wrong

Hick:
- I’m not arrogant, I just think that all the religions of the worlds are false
- only my statements about religion are true – everyone else is wrong
- I’m tolerant, and Christians are arrogant

Justin:
- but you think Sinkinson’s view is wrong
- why should we accept your view and deny his view?

Hick:
- His view of salvation is false, and mine is true

Sinkinson:
- you use words with set meanings, but you mean completely different things
- when I say salvation, I mean deliverance from sins through Jesus

Hick:
- I get to decide what salvation means for everyone, you intolerant bigot

Sinkinson:
- but that word has a specific meaning that has held true in all of Christian history
- but what you mean by salvation is people having subjective delusions that are not true

Hick:
- I don’t like using the word salvation

Sinkinson:
- but you just used it!
- and you think that it is present in different world religions, but it isn’t

Hick:
- God is unknowable and indescribable
- God isn’t a wrathful God though
- and the Christian description of God is false
- Evangelical Christians are mean
- I had experiences with people of other faiths
- and these experiences taught me that religions that think that the universe is eternal are true
- as long as you reduce religion to behaviors and not truth, then religions are all good at producing behaviors
- if you just treat all religions as clothing fashion and food customs, they are all valid
- the main point of religion is for people to agree on cultural conventions and stick to them
- never mind the propositional statements of religions… who cares about truth? not me!
- but Christianity is definitely false

Sinkinson:
- the Judeo-Christian God is different – he reveals himself to humans
- he is distinct from the other religions
- he is personal, and is loving but also angry at sin

Hick:
- But God isn’t a person, and he isn’t a non-person
- I can’t say what he is – I’ll offend someone if I say anything at all!
- except Christians – I can offend them because they are arrogant bigots
- I’m also very spiritual – I meditate on my breathing

Sinkinson:
- you can’t assess a religion by the experiences that people have
- people who have weird experiences do all kinds of evil things
- so the real question has to be about truth – is the New Testament reliable?, etc.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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