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WHAT IS FAITH? An Important Question About Definitions

What is faith? Is it blind? Dumb? Irrational? What do the Scriptures say about the concept of faith?

Pop culture (and many Christians!) wrongly define the Christian concept of faith. A chief offender: atheist activist Peter Boghossian. Peter and the disciples (get it?) define faith as “pretending to know things you don’t know”. We need to ask:

  • What is their authority for this definition?
  • Have they done any basic exegetical work?
  • What is their justification for their interpretation?
  • Where do they pull their definition from – what is their source?

 
No wise student of belief systems should act as if all frameworks have an identical definition of this concept (faith). A person may not agree with the way Christian theology defines faith but shouldn’t they at least understand how Christians have historically understood the concept? If not, what are they accomplishing? Maybe what they intend – to score points.

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Ministry to Muslims – Arizona 2015

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Hosted by

First Arabic Baptist Church
2232 W. Campbell Av
Phoenix, AZ 85015

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Pastor Vocab’s “Top Ten” Most Influential Books 

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By Vocab Malone aka John-Mark Rieser

I mainly include books that are, in some way, paradigm shakers – even if it’s only one big idea I takeaway. My list has books that have strongly shaped the way I think about things; “big picture” books (no, not books with pictures).

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THE FIVE MOST PATRIOTIC GI JOE CARTOONS

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THE FIVE MOST PATRIOTIC GI JOE CARTOONS
(JUST TWO DAYS LATE FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY)

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Pastor Vermon’s “Top Ten” Most Influential Books

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by Vermon Pierre

I love reading and have been blessed to have read a lot of great books over the years. It’s why I find it very hard make a “top 10” list of books that have been most influential on me. Maybe one day I’ll do that, but today won’t be that day. So, in defiance of my editor Jennifer Bell, I will just go ahead and list the books that come to mind, no matter how many there are, below (and, yes, I am even cheating in few cases by counting whole series). That’s just how gangsta I am.

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Learning Shariah at a Phoenix Mosque

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There is a well-known mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. It is north of Orangewood and east of 27th Ave. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both killed when they attacked a Draw Muhammad Contest in Texas, attended this mosque.Hassan Abujihaad, convicted of handing over military intelligence to al Qaeda, attended this mosque.

I didn’t know all that then. On Friday, December 16th, 2011, I was passing out copies of the Gospel According to St. John on a public sidewalk near mosque. The team I was with was there to discuss Islam and Christianity with Muslims for the purpose of having all peoples call Jesus Lord and be saved from their sins. Here’s how we proceed: I usually ask the men leaving prayer as they are on their way to their vehicles if they have read the Holy Injil. Most people pass by but sometimes they take one and say “thank you”, while other times they say “no” – in so many words or less. However, if they stop or inquire further I say, “This is Gospel According to Saint John in Arabic and English”. Sometimes, we talk more.

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THE THEOLOGY OF ELTON SIMPSON

We all wonder what makes a killer* tick. People want to know what goes on in the mind of a terrorist. I can shed light on one: Elton Simpson; my former co-worker and frequent debate partner.

The Christian must think theologically about such people. The Christian must not think the murderer – or any sinner, for that matter – is so different, so much worse. The Christian must remember that outside of Christ, we too face God’s judgment for our sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Still, not everyone is ready to drive across the southwest United States to commit murder as Elton was. Why? That is the question. The answer: Elton’s theology.

SALAFI ISLAM

“Are you a Wahabist?”, I asked. Elton waved his hands emphatically: “That is the name Orientalists [British scholars of Islam] gave to those who practice true Islam. I am a Salafi.” Non-Salafi Muslims consider the Salafi understanding of Islam to be strict, rigid, limited, and narrow. Salafis believe Salafi Islam is closest to the Islam of Muhammad and his companions. Estimates indicate Salafi Islam is the fastest-growing form of Islam; the headlines indicate Salafi Islam is also the most violent.

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I KNEW ELTON SIMPSON: MY JIHADIST FRIEND

I knew Elton Simpson.

On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Elton and a friend opened fire at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. He was shot and killed shortly after. Elton and his friend drove from Arizona to Texas to attack a gathering celebrating free speech — by displaying artistic depictions of Muhammad. Images of Muhammad are considered highly offensive to Muslims.

No, Elton was not insane. Elton was not mean. Elton was not rude. Elton was not wild-eyed. Elton was not constantly angry. Elton never threatened me. Elton was calm, level-headed, smart, and studious. He was generally kind and well-mannered.  Bright and articulate, he spoke smooth and easy. Elton was not a poor unwanted outcast; a down-and-outer he was not. Neither the simplistic narratives of the right or left work for him.

Elton Simpson

THE CORE ISSUE IS THEOLOGY

I am convinced the secular world will never properly understand people like Elton because the secular world will never properly understand Elton’s theology.

Secularist presuppositions cause many people to seek in vain for a non-theological answer for “radicalization”: economics, insanity, politics, personal nastiness, family problems, blood lust, revenge. Certainly,some of those factors play into some aspects of some people who commit what we know as terrorist acts. But these are not the core.

The core is theology. The core is taking Muhammad, his words and his actions, seriously. Elton took Islam seriously.

How do I know? Elton and I worked for the same company. We spent time together at our mutual workplace. For example, I once asked Elton if he was going to take a certain job promotion:

“No”
“Why not?”
“They would ask me to trim my beard.”
“Why must you keep your beard?”
“To be like the Prophet.”
“Why? You don’t worship him.”
“No, but he was the best example of what it means to live as a Muslim. Do you know what ‘Muslim’ means?”
“Yes – one submitted.”
Yes, submitted to Allah’s will – like Muhammad was.”
“Is that why you wear your pants this way?”
(Elton wore his pants slightly above the ankles)
“Yes, The Prophet never let his garment drag on the ground.”

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What Is Faith?

WHAT IS FAITH?

Atheists misdefine the Christian concept of faith. The chief offender is Peter Boghossian. When Peter and the disciples (get it?) define faith as “pretending to know things you don’t know”, we need to ask: “What is their authority, their source for this definition? Have they done any basic exegetical work in the text? What is their justification for their interpretation? Where do they pull their definition from?”

No wise student of world religions and other belief systems should act as if all frameworks have an identical definition of this word/concept. A person may not agree with the way Christian theology defines faith – fine. But shouldn’t they at least understand how Christians have historically utilized the word and concept? If they are not attempting to do this – which appears to be the case—then what are they accomplishing?

Atheists, please understand: any evangelical worth their salt is not interested in some vague philosophy of religion definition of faith but rather the biblical – and especially the New Testament – use of the word and concept.

Will Peter B. be interested? Not likely. But then he will merely be defining something in a way that is designed to be favorable to his ultimate end. That’s not a linguistic consideration; that’s a cheap tactic. Read Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactitian for more on this.

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Debating the Problem of Evil with Atheists [video]

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I (Vocab) debated two atheists at once out in the open in downtown Phoenix (Jason Short, Tempe, AZ and Randy Chesley, Portland, OR). The topic was the problem of evil and the title was “Does Evil Nullify God’s Existence?”

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