The headline below doesn’t do justice to what its article conveys. Abedini and his wife are from Iran, but are now American citizens. Below the link are excerpts from the article – click the link to read the entire article.
Saeed Abedini, the 32-year-old Christian and American citizen who is serving an eight-year prison term in Iran, was put in solitary confinement following a “peaceful, silent protest” in an outside courtyard at Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin prison, according to family members. Conditions at the prison prompted Abedini and other prisoners to sign a petition decrying the lack of medical care and the threats and harsh treatment facing family members who come to visit.
[Abedini] was arrested in 2005, but released after pledging never to evangelize in Iran again. When he left his wife and two kids in Idaho last summer to return to Iran to help build a state-run, secular orphanage, Iranian police pulled him off a bus and imprisoned him.
The latest developments underscore the brutality of Iran’s continued violation of human rights – imprisoning, torturing and refusing medical care for Pastor Saeed merely because of his faith. This treatment not only violates international law, but is abhorrent . . .
I didn’t know Sweden had gotten so anti-Semitic. Did you? Isn’t this an example of hypocrisy to support violence against people, against a minority in your country, even? I don’t keep up with European affairs too much, so I was very shocked and very sickened after reading the article linked below. It’s so astonishingly tiring, too, to think violence perpetrated against Israel is Israel’s fault.
There is a lot of false “history” out there regarding the formation of Israel and the tensions and wars that followed (I guess even the educated in Sweden don’t want to know, but would rather spread hate). Israel was not perfect – nobody is or was – but the Palestinians (and the Arab immigrant fighters brought in at that time) are not at all innocent. Why do you think Israel received the land for their state after WWII, but then the Palestinians did not (nor have they ever since)? Please read some real history if you don’t know and you think it’s all Israel’s fault (see the second link)!
For a detailed history of Israel and Palestine, and all that has transpired in that region until the present day, go to this page to start, and then read on (links continue the narrative and provide other side links for more specifics):
You will read that Israel had accepted the UN lines of partitions for their respective countries, even though it wasn’t great for Israel. And then the Arab League declared war on Israel. And, the Arabs were stabbing each other in the back over these lands (read the bottom of the “Partition” section). Regarding the 1948 war:
The conflict created about as many Jewish refugees from Arab countries [as there were Arabs from Israel], many of whom were stripped of their property, rights and nationality, but Israel has not pursued claims on behalf of these refugees . . .
So who has moved on, left the past and revenge behind, and simply tried to make a good living? Israel. Israel defends itself, as anyone one would; it doesn’t terrorize and go out and kill innocents in buses, at restaurants, etc. The hate toward them is mind-bogglingly unfounded.
Great article, and one that shouldn’t have to be written and published. But get this:
CNN and MSNBC immediately speculated about “right-wing nutcases” and tea partyers. As of 2013, the number of terrorist attacks involving members of the tea party is precisely zero. The last major terrorist attack that had even the slightest link to anything on the political right was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1995. Described as a devout Christian and Republican, he was neither.
Many people in the media or who have voices that the media likes to chime, are those who promote lies and hypocrisy against those they simply disagree with. When you’re young, well, at least when I was young, I assumed people told the truth and did things that were in the best interest of others and the community. People that weren’t criminals just didn’t do the things that are basically a common part of our media and leadership today. In any case, the article that is linked below is great, and apparently a good portion of our population needs to read it, stop ignoring reality, and stop pointing fingers and spreading hate against regular people (who are often more informed than they are).
The situation for American reverend, Saeed Abedini, is getting desperate as no progress has been made in having him released from Iran’s worst prison. He was arrested in Iran on September 26, 2012, while visiting his parents and relatives. His immediate relatives were placed under house arrest as well. 32 year old Abedini has a wife and two children.
The court in Iran implemented a bail for Abedini, which is large but which his family had acquired, but no one has actually accepted the bail after several attempts at officially paying it. Officials reject their paper work and funds and tell them to get lost. Making the situation grave is the lack of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran.
When Abedini still lived in Iran he had converted to Christianity and helped found underground churches. Having had many run-ins with the government, he moved to the US and signed an agreement with the them. If he did not do any more Christian evangelical work, the Iranian government would leave him alone when he visited the country. The government has failed to keep their side of the bargain, however. Abedini has helped, and continues to help, in setting up an orphanage in Iran. He has visited his family and helped with the orphanage during a number of visits to Iran in recent years, but during this year’s trip he was imprisoned without charges.
Just prior to Abedini’s arrest, there was great news that Iranian Pastor Yousef Nardakhani was released from prison there. He had been imprisoned for almost three years and had faced execution. Compass Direct on Yousef Nardakhani’s Release.
Below is half of a relatively long (but actually concise) treatment of evidences or evidential steps for the view that the Christian faith is rational, and even desirable, to hold. Thanks for reading, and may the God of all creation bless you.
For the person who wants to know that there is reason to believe a holy book–that there is evidence to back it up–different areas of apologetics have those answers. In fact, there is more evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible today than ever before, excepting when the events actually occurred. This essay assumes that the person searching for a legitimate holy book already believes that there is a deity of some sort; it does not cover arguments for the existence of God. What this essay does cover, in concise form, are the issues of reliability of the Old and New Testaments, fulfilled prophecies, miracles, and Christ’s resurrection.
Old Testament Reliability
How was the Old Testament written and copied? What we Christians refer to as the Old Testament is the same as the Jewish Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, called the Tanakh. The content of the Tanakh and the Septuagint is the same, but the two are formatted differently. The Old Testament follows the same formatting as the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated from about 250 BC to 150 or 100 BC and was used by the scattered Jews of the diaspora.
The Tanakh itself was written from about 1400-400 BC. Moses and other prophets were believed to possess the word of God because of the signs (miracles) they did, coupled with their openness (“transparency”). Moses was obviously literate, and because of his high upbringing, may have been literate in three languages. He no doubt, along with the people in general, knew the stories of other cultures and had copies of various source documents. Moses’ telling and retelling of events was considered God inspired.
At the time of Christ, the books of the Tanakh were established and accepted as canon. Those who copied the Tanakh beginning AD 70 (after the destruction of the temple) were called Talmudists. They had very specific rules for transmitting the Tanakh. Because damaged copies of the Tanakh were purposefully destroyed, very old copies do not exist. The Massoretes (or Masoretes) were the copyists for the Tanakh from AD 500 – 900. They, too, had very specific rules for copying, and any imperfect copies were destroyed. They are noted for adding marks to the text that represent vowels, as Hebrew did not have vowels and concern was growing over the continued pronunciation of the language. Whoever the copyists were through time, they all took God’s command in Deuteronomy 12:32 very seriously: “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.”
There have been archaeological finds in recent centuries to confirm the historicity of the Old Testament, and the Dead Sea scrolls additionally confirm accurate copy transmission. With the 200+ scrolls that date from approximately 250 BC to AD 125, we have the oldest copies of scripture, and these tell us that the accuracy of transmission is nearly 100%. A Qumran copy of Isaiah 53 has only three truly variant letters from the more recent Massoretic text, and these three letters do not change the text meaning in any real way.
There are many archaeological finds that corroborate the OT, with these representing only a sample:
The Moabite Stone. Mentions “Yahweh” and events in 2 Kings 3.
The Taylor Prism. From Nineveh, it describes the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib an corresponds to 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 37, and Isaiah 36-37.
The Cyrus Cylinder. After Cyrus began ruling Babylon (539 BC), he ordered that Babylonian captives could return home. This is told of in Ezra 1:1-3 and 6:3 (see also 2 Chronicles 36:23 and Isaiah 44:28).
The Tel Dan Stele. This is an Aramaic inscription found in Israel. It is about Hazael’s victory over Ramoth Gilead, as in 2 Kings 8:28-29, and conveys that David’s dynasty ruled in Jerusalem.
The Gilgamesh Epic. Found in the great library of Nineveh, it in part describes a flood not unlike that in Genesis 7-8.
New Testament Reliability
There has been a plethora of interest in “lost gospels,” which leads some to doubt the manner in which the New Testament (NT) was put together. Then there are those who also question the accurate transmission of the words in the NT, saying that parts were added or taken away at later times. All these issues are really non-issues, promulgated by detractors of the faith and sometimes believed by neutral parties who simply don’t take the time to look into these matters further. Concerning when the books of the NT were written and how they became canon, providing a chronological order seems like it would be clearest, and that is provided below. As for the accuracy of textual transmission, however, here is a good summary:
“A simple comparison of the text of the Bible with the text of other religious, historical, and philosophical documents from the ancient past proves the vast superiority of the biblical record. Less than one tenth of one percent of the biblical text is in question, whereas no such accuracy of transmission exists for the Qur’an, the Mahabharata, or the Iliad. Some ancient records such as Caesar’s Gallic Wars of Tactitus’ Annals, exist in less than ten copies, and these copies date from 1,000 years after their originals. By contrast, over 5,000 copies of the New Testament exist, the vast majority of them dating less than 200 years after the original text and some fragments less than 50 years after the original text. No book from ancient history has been transmitted over the centuries with greater clarity and accuracy than the Bible” (Geisler and Hindson p 100).
So when was the New Testament written? The books that were considered canon and that make up the New Testament were written not all that long after Christ’s death and resurrection, by those who were Christ’s disciples/apostles or associates of the apostles. In other words, by close eye witnesses of Jesus, or persons who learned directly from those eye witnesses. Jesus lived from about 4 BC to AD 33. The book considered earliest in the NT is James, written around AD 45-48, and the most recent book is Revelation, written by AD 100. In light of the prior quote regarding biblical transmission, it is known that the copies that now exist reflect the originals very reliably. That is, what is used for our bible translations today can very confidently be considered “original.”
But how do we know that the books of the NT are the ones that the early church read and thought reliable (had divine inspiration), and that important books weren’t left out? The books of the NT had been circulated and read amongst the widespread churches (in Europe and the greater Middle East of today), and certainly not in the region of Rome only! Books considered scripture had apostolic authority, which was important very early on because of the rapid development of false teachings. So, we know that the books were all written by AD 100, and that they were widely circulated (and copied); there are codices of the gospels and of the letters of Paul from the early 2nd century.
Partly as a result of some influential persons (such as Marcion) trying to redefine and delete parts of scripture, “lists of canon” began to be written down. The first generally accepted one dates to the late 2nd century and is known as the Muratorian Canon; it had excluded Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, and 3 John. The early church father Tertullian (c. 150 – c. 229) had quoted 23 of the 27 books that became the NT. Those excluded or disputed on some lists were done so for various reasons, but not because some churches thought they were inauthentic; often it was because a heretical group happened to like the book, so then some questioned it. The Eastern and Western churches differed early on and this is reflected in the books supported or unsupported at different times (examples are Hebrews and Revelation). Later, most believers accepted James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, yet some did not want to accept these. However, the Eastern church accepted an official list in 367 which includes all the books of the present NT. In 393 and 397, councils of the western church also accepted the NT canon as it is today.
What of some books that weren’t included in canon? From the church father Eusebius, who had investigated possible canonical books, we know of some old “spurious” books. The Didache had instruction in it and was used by the early church, but it faded from use and its authorship was in severe doubt. The Acts of Paul had been written by an overzealous admirer, not Paul. The Epistle of Barnabas was read and admired, but it was not written by Paul’s partner Barnabas. The Shepherd of Hermas was widely read and may be all true, but it was written in the early 2nd century by someone other than an apostle or an apostle’s associate. The Apocalypse of Peter was written in the first half of the 2nd century, so Peter the Apostle was not the author. Other books that some critics like to bring up, like the Gospel of Thomas, were written far later and were never considered apostolic whatsoever; they are simply made up, forgeries, etc.
Now, are there historical or archaeological evidences that corroborate the NT? While not everything can be corroborated, there are outside sources that confirm aspects of NT writings. These help to show that the texts are indeed historical and not made up later. Written sources for Jesus and Christians are (1) the Roman historian Tacitus (55-117) in his Annals (15.44); (2) Pliny the Younger, a Roman Governor, in a letter to the Emperor in about 112; (3) Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian (some of his writing or copies of it are questioned, but others are not; there is definite reference to Jesus in Josephus’ writings); (4) Jewish Rabbinical writings called the Babylonian Talmud; and (5), the 2nd century Greek satirist Lucian.
Archaeological finds also corroborate the NT, and they continue to grow in number. Here is a small sample:
The ossuary of Caiaphas (Luke 3:2 and others), discovered in 1990.
The Pilate Stone, discovered in 1961, has Pontius Pilate’s name on it and where he governed.
The Gallio (or Delphi) inscription (dated to about 52) speaks of Gallio, the same being mentioned in Acts 18:12; discovered in 1905.
Sergius Paulus inscriptions (there is more than one inscription bearing that name) confirm the proconsul of Cypress, as is mentioned in Acts 13:7.
The Pool of Siloam, excavated in 2004. As recorded in John 9:1-11, Jesus did a miracle there.
When considering the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Christ, it is exciting to simply read over an annotated list of them. There are different lists, however, with the highest number of fulfilled prophecies going up to 400. The listed number of “major” fulfilled prophecies varies as well, ranging from about 61 to 121. In MacDonald’s list of chronologically ordered fulfilled prophecies, he presents 44 (he does not say that these are the only ones he considers “major,” however) (MacDonald 1995). Here is one list just for your quick online reference: Prophecies that Jesus Christ Fulfilled.
One of my favorite lists is by D. James Kennedy – not because of the list itself, but because of the story around it. He had spoken to a highly educated man, a writer, who thought that the bible was simply written by man; he had no knowledge of the evidences for the validity of the scriptures. So Kennedy asked the man to tell him who it was he had read about, after reciting many verses to him. The man said that the verses clearly referred to Jesus Christ. But the man was completely surprised when Kennedy told him that all the verses he read were from the OT, the last book of which was written 400 years before Christ. He went on to tell him, “No critic, no atheist, no agnostic has ever once claimed that any one of those writings was written after His birth. In fact, they were translated from Hebrew into Greek in Alexandria some 150 years before He was born.”
So it is that verses such as (1) Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” (2) Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him,” (3) Psalm 22:16, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” (4) Psalm 22:18, “They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing,” and (5) Psalm 34:20, “He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken,” refer to Jesus though written centuries before His birth.
One of the most fascinating prophecies of the Messiah is found in Daniel 9:24-27, and it concerns the timing of His coming. It is not in some of the basic lists, no doubt because it is not easily deciphered or shown in a few words. To put it very briefly, this prophecy provides a window of time as to when the Messiah would be around. When the Hebraic terms are taken into account, and then taking into account which possible scripture(s) is meant by the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and then also taking into account the different calendars (ancient calendars kept 360-day years), a time frame emerges that encompasses the time that Jesus lived (and was crucified) (Powell 2006).
There is so much more that can be known concerning the fulfilled prophecies of Christ that cannot be easily shown in a list, such as Christ in the meanings and symbols of things, like the lamb and shepherd, and symbols and events related to the feast days of Israel. Unique among religious faiths is the fulfillment of prophecies found in the Old and New Testaments. “You will find no predictive prophecies whatsoever in the writings of Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Lao-Tse, or Hinduism. Yet in the Scripture there are well over two thousand prophecies, most of which have already been fulfilled” (Kennedy xxix).
There is now a high risk that the Churches will all but vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East.
Wow. I just wanted to share this article (below, in part) because I certainly couldn’t have said all that better myself. I’ve been bad about not posting persecution updates, and it is partly due to the fact that the persecution is just so persistent and depressing. The killing, maiming, threatening, imprisoning, etc., of Christians goes on everyday in just so many places, that I pray generally for my persecuted brothers and sisters. It’s a tough one. Jesus told us we’d be persecuted, so it’s natural to the faith; we are told to take joy in it, since the persecutors are really persecuting Jesus – it’s an acknowledgment of the truth of our faith and of the truth about God. Still, it’s sad and horrible on an emotional level, and we are to pray without ceasing . . .
Here is the first part of the article by Rupert Shortt, as published in The Telegraph yesterday. Please click on the link that follows it to read the rest of the article.
Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.
Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.
Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.
Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged. Take the fallout of last month’s protests around the world against the American film about the Prophet Mohammed. While most of the debate centred on the rule of law and the limits of free speech, almost nothing was said about how much more routinely Islamists insult Christians, almost always getting away with their provocations scot-free.
This is from a very short article in Bloomberg online, and there are other articles to be found by googling:
Nigeria has protested to Saudi Arabia’s authorities over the detention of more than 1,000 female pilgrims who arrived in the kingdom for the annual Hajj pilgrimage without male guardians, state-run Radio Nigeria said. . . . Saudi Arabia enforces restrictions that are interpreted from the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam. Women can’t travel or get an education without male approval or mix with unrelated men in public places.
As a Christian, I am at a loss as to why anyone would voluntarily become a Muslim in the first place, but when I see stuff like this, I am out-and-out flummoxed. So, women must be controlled and herded like lesser beings, AND, they can’t even be in public with other men because . . . why??? Oh, men can’t control themselves. They’ll just start doing some Mardi Gras moves in the street. Really?? Belong to a religion that is so controlling, that seems to acknowledge and even promote the idea that human males are as good as randy rabbits, and that seems to not control its tyrannical and extremely violent members no matter what it does? (And I won’t even get into all the persecution that goes on in the world against Christians at the hands of Muslims.)
Wow. Sorry, but there is simply no comparison between Christianity and Islam. And don’t go whining (atheists) about ancient pockets of “Christian” history (a lot of actual Christians died in trying to get false and violent actions to stop). Sure, there have been wolves in sheep clothing that have done bad things in the name of Christianity. It happens everyday in every area of life – I mean, charlatans seeking power and all of that, using whatever thing people have positive feelings about. What you do is look at the founder of the faith. Is s/he like that (false, after power, money, etc.)? I won’t get into Muhammad here and the history of Islam, but I think it worth looking at Christ and the history of those who actually follow Him and his teachings.
Christ was sin-free and was not married; he didn’t go after multiple wives or even minor wives; he didn’t leave any heirs for everyone to argue about or over. He lifted women UP from their low status at the time He visited us here on earth. Women could follow Him and learn from Him. In fact, He said it was better for a woman to learn from Him, to take the time and do that – as it was more important – than to serve Him or other men!!! Wow!! Why would any woman NOT want to follow Jesus? If you want to know more and discover some pretty cool information that you just don’t hear about all that often, see New Testament Views of Women. You may want to read about the woman at the well whom Christ talked with too.
In the future, I’ll try and post an article about the good in the history of Christ’s true followers, like those who founded hospitals (hospitals that were free) and universities. People seem to have forgotten the parts of Christian history, too, when Christians died in order to stop those who did violence in Christ’s name. In the meantime, if any Muslims come here, don’t go hatin’ on me. Actions are actions, and the action reported on in the press was done and promoted by a whole country, and a whole section of Islam. It’s no secret. If you want to explain how your own sect of Islam is not like that in the comments, go ahead, but know that WordPress comments are always moderated.
Very briefly, since I’m leaving for work soon, the current US administration’s immediate response to the violent protests in Libya and Cairo was not only extremely lame, but anti-US law. In an article I read last night, which I can’t yet locate this morning, administration officials said that such a film that sparked the violent events should not have been made and that American freedom does not extend to criticizing other religions too much.
Whaaa . . . . ?!?!?! They didn’t use the words “too much,” but it was the diplomatic way of saying the same thing. If this is so, then why, of why, have I had to experience militant atheists condemning Christianity and Christians – often in very vile and childish ways – for a number of years now. Not long enough for the fascist government to locate them?
In a newer article this morning I see that the administration is doing some back-up and corrections. Former President Clinton is saying that there is no excuse for the violent acts that happened yesterday. Finally!!! Our government needs to defend us, not militant Muslims. We have freedom here. We have freedom to investigate something and say what we think about it. We even have the freedom here to make fun of that thing. American government – please start defending us and stop making yourself out to be mega wimps to these people!
This wasn’t just about the film! Has no one noted that these events took place on 9/11, yet the film has been out a while (the film being the Innocence of Muslims)? People, please wake up. These were not spontaneous acts, but planned acts. And I bet the governments, or at least factions in the governments, knew about them.
Anyway, I simply couldn’t believe what I read last night. If I find those quotes from US officials later today or tomorrow, I will publish them. If America implemented what they said, we’d all be in trouble, and they also show the bizarrely weak and misguided spine of our government. Thanks for reading.