Archive for the ‘non Christian religions’ Category

Is Christmas Pagan?

December 9, 2010

Over the years I have occasionally heard accusations that many Christmas traditions are rooted in non-Christian religions.

It’s true.

The Christmas tree, holly, mistletoe, yule log, and probably some other  Christmas traditions were  indeed part of non-Christian religions earlier in history.

When the church was expanding into Europe there were very popular mid-winter celebrations that entire communities had celebrated for generations.  It was very difficult to eliminate these traditions, so the Christian community incorporated them instead.  They were given new meanings as they became symbols used by a new faith.

I like to think of them as having been converted.

Yes, they were pagan, but they are Christian now.

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The God of Abraham

September 30, 2010

Jews, Christians and Muslims all look back to the God of Abraham.  Therefore, it can be claimed that they all worship the same God.  However, Jesus said “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God: nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.” (John 8:42)  He also said ” I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)  Since neither Jews, nor Muslims recognize Jesus as the way to God, they no longer have access to the God of Abraham.  Furthermore,  Jesus said that “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30) .  Therefore, if we accept the gospel of John, by rejecting Jesus, they have rejected the God of Abraham.

Why Muslims Will Celebrate On 9/11

September 9, 2010

Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan on 9/11.  Ramadan is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset every day.  The end of the month is celebrated with a special holiday called Eid ul-Fitr.    The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar so the actual start, and end, of the month moves through the Julian calendar.  This year the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan falls on 9/11.  That is unfortunate, because some people will probably misinterpret the celebration.  It has nothing to do with the destruction of the Twin Towers.  If you had just finished a month of fasting, you would probably celebrate too!

Eat, Pray, Love (movie review)

September 7, 2010

The film “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts is not so much a love story as it is a life story.  Roberts plays a writer who takes a year off to get her life in order.

The first four months she spends in Italy, basically eating and spending time with friends.  This time period represents the need to find enjoyment in the simple, material, things in life.  It also points out the need to slow down, and the value of doing nothing. Tasting life, you might say.

The next four months are spent in India learning the value of prayer, meditation and forgiveness.  This time period helps her to connect with the spiritual aspect of life.  Her earlier existence had been without spiritual influence.  There is a brief prayer in the beginning where she states that she had never talked to God before that point, so this is very new, and difficult for her to learn.

The next four months she spends in Bali.  During this period she rediscovers the importance of human relationships, and yes, love.   Also, she is taught the  importance  of balance.  Balancing the various aspects of life is the final lesson.

So “Eat, Pray, Love” is a story about appreciating, practicing, and balancing;  the material, spiritual and relational aspects of life.  In some ways, it teaches some very valid principles.  Unfortunately, these principles are discovered by pursuing non-Christian religious paths.  The movie could easily be used to encourage individuals to find meaning for their lives through various Eastern religions.

The only true and lasting meaning for life is to be found in Jesus Christ who said that “I am the way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6) and “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)

Burning Korans on 9/11

September 1, 2010

Terry Jones, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville,  Florida, is planning on burning a pile of Korans on September 11, 2010.

He has the right to do so.  This is a free country.

It is a really bad idea.

The Muslim world will be united in their condemnation of this event.  Radical Muslims may use this event as a rallying point in their hatred of America.  It is likely to inspire some form of retaliation that will be directed at people who had nothing to do with the event.  Moderate Muslims will be pushed towards extremism.  At the very least, they will be more sympathetic towards those  who would promote violence.  Even liberal Muslims will be angry and offended.  The Koran is very sacred to all Muslims.

There is nothing in this action that will contribute to peaceful co-existence.  We should be looking for ways to reduce violence, not taking actions that will almost certainly provoke violence.

The Bible tells us to seek to live peaceably with all men.  Not to repay evil with evil, but rather to overcome evil with good.  ( see Rom 12:17-21)

We should pray for Terry Jones to change his plans.  I don’t think that he will listen to reason, or to the threats, or verbal abuse of  people.  Sadly, he probably thinks that he is doing the will of God.  I pray that God will speak to his heart before it is too late.

2012 (movie review)

April 6, 2010

A couple of days ago I watched the movie 2012.  I was interested in how they would present the material.  I first heard about the prophecies regarding 2012 a few years ago when a student wanted to do a paper on the information that she had been gathering from various sources.  It appears that in a number of religious traditions, the year 2012 has been suggested as the apocalyptic end of the world.

The movie was ok.  It was filled with the expected action, and special effects that one would expect in this genre.  I was glad that I did not pay to see it in a theatre, but waited for it to come out on dvd because it was not that good.

I noticed that they treated the religious predictions respectfully.  Christianity played only a small role.  I suspect that it was out of respect for various religious traditions that played a major role in the movie presentation.

There was an unexpected benefit.  For all practical purposes, a scenario which could result in a world-wide flood, was presented.  This provides some support for the flood story in Genesis.  In fact, the vessels that are used to preserve humanity in the movie are called arks.  Obviously a reference to Noah’s ark.  So overall, I came away with a small sense of support for religious traditions, which is a good thing.

Avatar

March 1, 2010

The movie Avatar finally came to our local theatre and my wife and I went to see it last Friday.  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and will try to get to see it again when it is in a nearby IMAX.  I am sure that it will be highly entertaining.

It should be noted that it presents, in a very favorable light, a philosophical view called “deep ecology”.   This view suggests a very stong, living, connection between all things on the planet, especially living things.  It is a common feature of nature-based religions.  The native religion plays a major role in the movie, and so, even though the movie is obviously fictional, the similarities between the religion in the movie, and actually practiced religions, can result in an increased interest in nature based religions.

That is good news if you are seeking to promote nature based religions such as Daoism, Native American Spirituality, and Wicca.

Not so good, if you are seeking to promote Christianity.

Wahi (not a vacation destination)

December 14, 2009

Wahi is a Japanese word that means poverty.  In Zen Buddhist teachings, it is used to emphasis a life that is free from dependence on wealth, reputation and power.  (G. Kessler:Voices of Wisdom)

When I read this in preparation for my class, I was confronted with the questions: “How many pastors of Christian churches desire to have wealth, reputation or power?”  and   “Am I pursuing, or desiring wealth, reputation or power?”  and “How can we reconcile that with the command of Jesus to ‘Take up your cross and follow me’  ” ???

It was thought provoking.  Does the American church need to realign its thinking?  Has the gospel of health, wealth and prosperity distorted our thinking?  Have we drifted off course?

Can we be rebuked and corrected from a non-Christian source?

Just some random thoughts, and questions.

20/20 Hindsight

November 11, 2009

I read something about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan yesterday in the newspaper that concerned me.   “Hasan communicated 10 to 20 times with a radical imam overseas who in the past came under scrutiny for possible links to terror groups…”  and “U.S. officials were aware of the communications since last year, but no formal investigation was ever opened based on them”

I do not know what those communications entailed, but it would seem, in hindsight, that it would have been a good idea to investigate further.

There are many Muslims who simply want to live, and practice their faith in peace.  It would be wrong to condemn an entire group based on the actions of a few.  However there seems to have been enough evidence that Hasan should have been watched more closely, at the very least.

So what happened?  It seems to me, that someone dropped the ball. 

By the way, have you noticed that the mainstream media are not calling this an act of terrorism?  Hasan was scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan with the army.  It appears he was conflicted about whose side he was on. 

Apparantly he decided.

Hasan may not have been a radical at first, but he certainly has become one; unless shooting a large number of military personnel is considered the act of a moderate.

Meditation and Christians

October 1, 2009

 Over the past twenty years there has been an increased interest in the benefits of meditation for physical, psychological and spiritual health.  Some Christians have been suspicious of meditative practices because of the influence of Eastern religions.  They recognize the major role that meditation has in Eastern religions.  What many Christians do not realize is that meditation has long had a place in Christian practice as well.  The major difference is that in Eastern practice the primary goal is to empty the mind, and oneself.  In Christianity the goal is to fill the mind, and oneself, with the Word, and the Spirit.

Psalms 1:2  But his delight is in the law of the Lord,  and in His law he meditates day and night. (NKJ)

Indeed as we meditate on the Word of God, the Spirit of God works within us a transformational work.  It is an ongoing process that continues throughout our lives.  Meditation on the Word of God can be very beneficial to Christian growth.