Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani awaits execution in Iran
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who faces execution for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and embrace Islam was still alive Thursday, March 29, "through the power of Jesus Christ and prayers", an official assisting him told BosNewsLife. "Though we received word that his execution could be imminent, neither he nor his attorneys have received a written verdict or execution order," said Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries, who closely follows the case. "Through the power of Jesus Christ" [and] prayers he has been preserved alive to this day," DeMars added. "We give credit to the Spirit of God moving in hearts and minds around the world and causing them to take action to help Youcef." The 34-year-old pastor, a leader of one of Iran's largest evangelical house church movements, was sentenced to death by the local court in his home town of Rasht. After an Appeals Court asked it to again investigate the case, the court eventually asked Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini to give his opinion. But with international pressure mounting on Iran to release the pastor, there "has still been no response from the Ayatollah to the [court's] letter" sent October 10, last year, De Mars explained.
Local officials indicated in December however that they could release the pastor if he agreed to make a statement saying Islam's Prophet Mohammed was "a messenger sent by God" Christians with close knowledge about the situation told BosNewsLife earlier. Pastor Nadarkhani reportedly refused to do so saying the statement would "amount to abandoning his faith in Jesus Christ." DeNars said his group has asked Christians around the world to "continue to pray for him, his family, and his church" and to "spread the word" on internet service such as Twitter or website Facebook, at churches and local communities. Pastor Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, has been detained since 2009 when he was captured in Rasht to register his house congregation, which is part of the Church of Iran movement.
The regional Gilan Court sentenced Nadarkhani to death in November 2010 on charges of "apostasy", or abandoning Islam. His appeal against that ruling was rejected in 2011 with the Supreme Court saying "he can be executed" though it asked for a "re-examination" by the same court that already sentenced him to death. Despite the reported difficulties there may be at least as many as 100,000 devoted evangelical Christians in Iran, many of them former Muslims, according to mission groups. Iranian government officials have denied wrongdoing and accused Pastor Nadarkhani of being "a criminal" and "Zionist."
NOTE: Nadarkhani is correct saying "Mohammed is a messenger sent by God" is an abandonment of the Christian faith because, if God did send Mohammed then the Koran's attacks on Christian doctrine are from God.
Obama tips Iran off on impending Israeli strike
Is Washington undermining Israel's campaign against Iran? paul koring WASHINGTON— Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:01AM EDT
A secret Israeli-Azerbaijan pact giving the Jewish state use of old Soviet air bases to attack Iran's nuclear sites revealed by Foreign Policy magazine exposed a bold military option to the vexed problem of getting bomb-heavy warplanes to their distant targets. Or was the story all part of a complex and devious disinformation campaign by the Obama administration to box Israel in, or one targeted at the president? From a military standpoint, the strategy was simple, if audacious. Israeli warplanes would refuel in Azerbaijan before the final low-level dash across the Caspian to targets in Iran. Predictably, Israeli and Azeri officials flatly denied the story which – according to Foreign Policy – was based on senior U.S. intelligence and military sources. Another denial came from a similarly unidentified Obama administration official, who said the White House had "no interest" in leaks of that type, adding it would "gladly prosecute" those who divulged the details supposed Israeli attack option using Azeri air bases – if they knew who they were. For some that seemed a touch too disingenuous. In the murky and multi-layered world of deliberate leaks and pressure by disinformation, the White House denial was interpreted as a clever piece in the Obama administration complex strategy to box Israel in. In that scenario, the message is that Washington – first by leaking details and then denying it was leaking – knows what Israel is up to and wants no part of it, at least until after the November elections. Accusations and denials started flying in all directions. John Bolton, the hawkish former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration said the Obama White House was deliberately undermining Israel by exposing its military strategy. ""This leak … is part of the administration's campaign against an Israeli attack," he said. In Israel, the story produced outrage. Military analysts lined up to dismiss the Azeri air base option as unworkable. They also noted that relative small and weak Azerbaijan would not want to pick a fight with its much bigger, more powerful, neighbour, certainly not at the behest of Israel, despite good relations with the Jewish state and a recently signed multi-billion dollar arms sale. But the prime target for Israeli fury was Mark Perry, the author of the original Foreign Policy article. He was denounced a sometime 'unofficial' adviser to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mr. Perry, "a veteran anti-Israeli warrior has simply taken advantage of the negligent naivety of Foreign Policy editors in order to plant one more of his cloak-and-dagger patchwork stories aimed at undermining the state he intensely detests," wrote Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari in The Times of Israel. "The fact that Azerbaijan maintains close relations with Israel – including big arms and oil deals – does not justify flights of fantasy." Whatever the military merits of staging an attack on Iran using Azeri air bases – and the notion at least matches Israel's long track record of audacious, improbable, daring and often successful strikes – the option now seems dead. Any element of surprise is gone and, with it, any vestige of Azeri deniability. For Israeli war planners, the problem remains. Unlike its 1981 attack of an Iraqi nuclear site, or the 2007 strike on a Syrian reactor, Iran's multiple nuclear targets are dispersed, heavily defended, sometimes deeply buried and all much further away. A bombing campaign, not a single strike, would be required and without air bases closer to the targets, Israeli warplanes would need aerial refuelling multiple times and therefore over-flight permission from Turkey or Iraq or Saudi Arabia.
NOTE: This proves that Obama is more concerned about Israel destroying Iran's nukes more that he is of Iran becoming a nuclear power. However, I fear what could happen if Iran does go nuclear. The mullah's would have nukes to back up their power. I read Norman Podhertz's "World War IV" where he discussed what would happen if (or when) Iran bombs Israel. About a million Israelis, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians will die. Then Israel would immediately bomb Cairo, Damascus and Iran. The total loss of human life would be four million. Obama would rather that happen than Israel bomb Iran's nuclear bomb factories.
Israelis and Azeris
Azerbaijan and Israel nurture a discreet partnership: Critics worry old Soviet airbases could be used to attack Iran By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
A January 2009 "secret" memo from the American embassy in Baku to Washing-ton, published by WikiLeaks, describes another weapons deal in which Azerbaijan bought from Israel mortars, ammunition, rocket artillery and radio equipment. The message also described why Azerbaijan and Israel have been thrust into partnership. Israel, of course, always looks for all the friends it can get - overt or covert - in a neighbourhood where it is constantly under threat. The neighbourhood is no less threatening for Azerbaijan and its eight million people. Azerbaijan's particular worry is its western neighbour, Armenia, which occupies the enclave of Nagorno Karabakh that is claimed by the Baku government. Armenia's emigrant population in Europe and North America has proved expert at persuading the governments in their new homes to adopt policies favouring Armenian interests. The result is that the West will not sell Azerbaijan arms for fear it will use them to try to regain Nagorno Karabakh. Israel has no such qualms. But Azerbaijan has become a battleground between Iran and Israel. There have been several attempts by Iranian-backed groups to attack Israelis in Azerbaijan in retaliation for what is widely seen as an Israeli campaign to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists. But even though the Baku government dislikes and mistrusts Tehran, it is careful not to provoke Iran's ruling clerics too far. Allowing Azerbaijan to be used as a base for an Israeli attack on Iran would be a step well over that red line and Baku will not take it.
NOTE: What this article doesn't mention is the Azeri population in Iran. Iran is only 50% Persian (or "Iranian") the rest of the population is made up of a diverse group of various ethnic groups such as Assyrians, Azeris, Arabs and ect. Azeri's speak a Turkic (related to Turkish) language. Unofficial population estimates of Azerbaijanis in Iran range from 16–33%. Due to ethnic conflict the relations between Iranians and Azeris and Azerbaijan and Iran are tense. (Note: A large community of Assyrian Aramaic Christians lives in the Iranian Azerian region bordering Lake Urmiah.) Most Azeris are Shiite Muslim. This illustrates the fact that as important as Islam is politically, tribalism is MORE important. Thus, the Azeris, fearful of Iran, forge a relationship with Israel.
ANOTHER NOTE: I support Armenia and the Christians of Nagomo Karabakh. I am glad that the West hasn't joined on the Islamic side of that conflict, as they did in Bosnia and Kosovo. I opposed and still oppose the actions of the United States in Bosnia and Kosovo. All that was really about is the Saudis using the US military to create two radical Muslim states in Europe. The scenario in Cyprus, Nagomo Karabakh and Bosnia and Kosovo were similar. The Muslims wished to ethnically cleanse a territory of Christians and create a new Islamist state. They succeeded in Cyprus and Bosnia and Kosovo but failed in Nagomo Karabakh. All of this is Saudi oil-money (petro-dollars) at work.
The Paschal Moon
The first full moon of spring, however, is usually designated as the Paschal Full Moon or the Paschal Term. Traditionally, Easter is observed on the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. So if the Paschal Moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter is the following Sunday. Following these celestial rules, we find that Easter can fall as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. Pope Gregory XIII decreed this in 1582 as part of the Gregorian calendar. So according to the current ecclesiastical rules Easter in 2011 is to be celebrated nearly as late as it can come, on April 24. Interestingly however, these rules also state that the vernal equinox is fixed on March 21, even though at European longitudes from the years 2008 through 2101 the equinox will occur no later than March 20. Hence, there can sometimes be discrepancies between the ecclesiastical and astronomical versions for dating Easter. In the year 2038, for instance, the equinox falls on March 20 with a full moon the next day, so astronomically speaking, Easter should fall on March 28 of that year. In reality, however, as mandated by the rules of the Church, Easter in 2038 will be observed as late as it can possibly come, on April 25! Adding additional confusion is that there is also an "ecclesiastical" full moon, determined from ecclesiastical tables and whose date does not necessarily coincide with the "astronomical" full Moon, which is based solely on astronomical calculations. (see www.space.com)
History of the Treatment of Christians in Islamic lands
On page 218 of "Battle for our Minds" Michael Widlanski states, "Yes, after about 150 years of conquest and battles, the jihad relaxed. Treatment of non-Muslims within the realm of Islam also improved. Despite persecution, non-Muslims under Islam (though treated as second class dhimmis) fared better than non-Christians in Christendom." This statement is untrue. The book "The Martyred Church" written about the history of the Aramaic Assyrian Church of the East documents serious persecutions that occurred about every 50 years or son. Also, Christians in the Middle East represented a conquered majority ruled over and over the years grinded away by a Islamic minority that slowly, through loses from persecution diminished the Christians to a minority. Muslims in Europe arrived in military force. So, Muslims represented a threat. Untrue statements need to be challenged and examined. The Copts of Egypt also faced recurring persecutions.
Culture and Religion
Occasionally, information is put out that seems to be good information-but on closer examination there are problems with it.
Example: The idea that Assyrian Christian translations of Greek writings sparked the Islamic "golden age" and then found their way to Europe and sparked the European Renaissance. The works produced by Assyrian are important-but the problem with this is that it gives the Islamic world credit for influencing the Renaissance. The theory has been examined. Most of the "Greek Classics" that came from Islamic Spain were already known in Europe. Process did come from Averroes-who was ostracized by the Muslim world. (See Muslim apologists often tell us about the so-called "Golden Age" of Islam and how Islam caused the European Renaissance. Jonathon David Carton, Ph.D. in "The Not-so Golden Age of Islam sets the record straight. See: http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/08/the_notsogolden_age_of_islamic.html (He has also written "What Islamic Science and Philosophy?") Also, the idea was put out that the Koran was originally written in Syriac-not Arabic and the Koran was talking about 70 raisons and not 70 virgins. This doesn't seem to be true and is only used for apologetic purposes by Muslims-who KNOW that the Koran refers to "virgins" not raisons! Is a man going to fight and die so he can gain raisons in heaven? Also, if you read the Koran it emphasized that it is an "Arabic" Koran.
We have another idea-that one cannot understand the Gospel unless you emerged from the same culture that Christ emerged from. This idea was put forth in the book The Syrian Christ, By Ibrahim Mitrie Rihbany from 1916 and William Allen Knight's "Song of Our Syrian Guest" from 1904. This thesis was taken up by George Mamishisho Lamsa in his various writings. Lamsa stated that he grew up in Bible lands and grew up speaking Aramaic-Christ's language and that this gave him a unique perspective on the life and teachings of Jesus. I have to say that I have lived in the Middle East-Iraq, Israel and Egypt. Sometimes I have thought that in certain ways-it isn't really too different from what we are familiar with in the west. Most of their wildlife is the same that we are familiar with in the west (foxes, deer, ect.). The only real difference there is camels are uncommon in Europe. Horses and donkeys are used in the Middle East. In Malta an Arabic derived language is used. When you get to know people-you realize that how people act and their basic hopes and desires are the same. Some people think that a vocabulary such as Chinese or Arabic makes you think and perceive the world differently. Some have argued that colors are perceived differently based on the sounds that we assign to identify them. Linguists however (those who study languages) look on these theories with a large amount of skepticism. I don't believe cultural differences are as great as some would have us to believe. They are not a barrier to understanding. What is culture anyway? Music, art and dress? Perhaps holidays. What is it about such things that a foreigner is incapable of understanding? Religions have beliefs. Beliefs can be explained as described. I am not a Hindu or Confucist but I have read their religious texts and have understood them.
Edward Said put forth a theory in his book "Orientalism." In it he states that Western curiosity about the history and cultures of the Near East is a form of racism and the study of the Near East is a form of colonialism. He himself was a Palestinian professor of English! (Perhaps he was exploiting the history of English literature.) He was not a historian.
Muslim historians consider all history before the dawn of Islam as "Jahiliya," meaning the time of ignorance. Muslims destroyed the Colossus of Rhodes, the face of the Sphinx, and the Parthenon of Athens. They quarried the surface of the great pyramids and the Tower of Babylon for their stones. In the traditional Islamic view, pre-Islamic history has no value. The Orientalists were scholars who dedicated themselves to the study of the ancient and modern cultures of the Near East. The late Edward Said gained fame through his attacks upon the work of the Orientalists but in reality they were innovators that opened up and preserved the past and thus enriched all humanity. Edward Said dedicated himself to an assault on Orientalism, the study of the Orient. Said, a Palestinian professor, accused western Orientalists of creating stereotypical images of Islamic cultures and in doing so facilitating imperialism, exploitation, colonialism and inciting racism. Sadly, Said has been profoundly influential on thousands of college professors and university students. Many colleges and universities still require their students to read Edward Said's book on Orientalism although it has been repeatedly discredited. In his books Said lays the blame for nearly everything wrong with the Islamic world at the feet of the west and portrays the Orientalists the main perpetrators of the problems of the region today. Edward Said's word has been debunked in Ibn Warraq's Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism and Robert Irwin's Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and It's Discontents. (Other writings that thoroughly de-bunk Edward Said's "Orientalism" thesis includes Martin S. Kramer "Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America" (Policy Papers (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), No. 58.)) The Moslem mentality in the mid to late 1800s saw no value in history and especially in pre-Islamic history. (Some Moslems describe pre-Islamic history as the era of "ignorance." Certain influential Moslems still hold this view as can be seen in their destruction of ancient ruins and monuments in Egypt and in Afghanistan) This is illustrated in The Conquest of Assyria: Excavations in an Antique Land by Mogens Trolle Larson:
…the Pasha at Mosul had become a severe obstacle for Botta's work. [Botta was an important early archeologists and Assyriologist.] Like all excavators of this period he was faced with the problem that neither the Turkish officials nor the local Arabs were able to grasp the real meaning of the excavations, but were convinced that they must have another, secret goal. It was a widely held opinion that Botta and his colleagues were really looking for treasures hidden in the ruins, and that the texts were important because they could guide the diggers to the right spots. Another theory was that the inscriptions might prove that the Europeans had prior claim to these lands, where perhaps they had once lived. They might be gathering evidence to support a demand for repossession of the land.
What Said has done is shield the Islamic world from criticism and retard the study of the Near East. The damage of his faulty ideas-which are politically correct-is demonstrated in the book "The Battle for our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat" by Michael Widlanski. The theme of the book is "Unless you know your enemy and describe it you are not going to be able to meet it and defeat it." Here are some problematic statements from the Army's "World Religions and the Military." "We should first acknowledge the limitations of developing an unbiased worldview. Begin by understanding that our perspectives are usually drawn from academic and open sources of information, meaning we normally use secondary resources from English texts rather than primary language texts. Next, we must acknowledge that our frame of reference normally emerges from the context of a Western Christian viewpoint. Finally, our standpoint emerges from a contextualized, educated perspective instead of a point of view that is rooted in actual experience of the particular culture or religion being examined." This may be true for some-but not for me-I have lived in the Middle East. Also, I have studied language to understand my "primary language texts." Also, this whole course seems to be really about Islam-and it should be remembered that the Koran is in an extinct form of Arabic that over 95% of Muslims cannot read or understand and they refuse to have it translated. The army also says, "The study of religion as an academic study helps the Chaplain understand the influence of religion on a society. Many today, such as Tomoko Masuzawa, see Christian theology as dogmatic and hegemonic. Ninian Smart encourages "ridding religious studies of the grip of the Christian establishment" because, it is argued, the relationship between theology and religious studies "prevents an openness of approach, and means that interested agnostic, Jewish and other 'outsiders' are discouraged from taking up the subject." He also said that students of religion need empathy and imagination and that there is surely a sense in which a religious believer can understand something of what another religious believer feels." This is a hateful attack on Christianity that I find highly offensive. Due to lack of space, I will have to continue examining the question of religion and culture in the next edition of this newsletter.
Please Check out Juliana Taimoorazy's video
"Faith Under Fire" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qto-g8mGBTw
Please consider my teaching "the Aramaic words of Jesus" at my "YouTube" Channel.
Voice of the Martyrs
Is now offering a free cartoon on the life of Jesus to churches to educate people on persecution and the persecuted church. I still think that VOM has not done enough to publicize the sufferings of Aramaic Christians.
I will be in army training April 15-27 in South Carolina. I will be doing Chaplain's Captain's Career Course.