Tag Archives: Iran

Iran and Christianity

I am glad to commend a new book by Mark Bradley entitled, Iran and Christianity: Historical Identity and Present Relevance (Continuum)

Mark Bradley clearly knows Iran and the Iranian people. Dealing honestly with the historical and political identity of Iran as well as the growth and suffering of the Iranian church, the book reads like a novel, I did not want to put it down. With so much mutual misunderstanding and mistrust between the United States and Iran, this is an important and timely book. It deserves a wide readership. I hope it dispels ignorance and helps diffuse tensions between Iran and the West. It should become a standard popular text on the development of Christianity in Iran.

Beginning with an in-depth look at the historical identity of Iran, religiously, culturally and politically, Bradley shows how this identity makes Iranians inclined towards Christianity. He goes on to look at the impact of the 1979 revolution, an event which has brought war, economic chaos and totalitarianism to Iran, and its implications for Iranian faith. The study concludes with an analysis of church growth since 1979 and an examination of the emerging church.

This is a fascinating work, guaranteed to improve any reader’s knowledge of not only Iranian faith and church growth, but of Iranian culture and history as a whole thanks to the thorough treatment given to the country’s background.

Some photos of Iran

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Weird and Wacky Theology 3: Armageddon out of here

John Hagee wrote to me again today. He writes most days. Today he wrote to remind me, “As Christians we have a Biblical obligation to defend Israel and the Jewish people in their time of need. Israel’s time of need is now. There is a new Hitler in the Middle East –President Ahmadinejad of Iran — who has threatened to wipe out Israel and America and is rapidly acquiring the nuclear technology to make good on his threat. Tragically, 2008 has been a year of steady progress for President Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions.”

In case I missed it, John’s email contained not one but two requests for money – in between the paragraphs so I would not miss it, like I’m doing here, except you don’t need to send me any money.

Then John went on to warn me, “As Iran gets steadily closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, we get that much closer to the possibility of a second Holocaust. The risk that Israel and her six million Jews might be “wiped off the map” is too great for us to sit silently by as the world does nothing. As 2008 ends and 2009 begins, we must redouble our efforts to stop Iran. In particular, we must combine fervent prayer with urgent action.”

How John, how?

“In addition to prayer, we must also act to make sure that our fellow citizens and our government recognize the urgency of this threat. Christians United for Israel is determined to focus intensely on the issue of Iran in 2009. We plan to educate Christians across America about the threat of a nuclear Iran. We intend to help our members speak out in their communities and churches to raise awareness on this issue. We plan to communicate the urgency of this issue to our leaders in Washington and demand that they act with greater resolve to stop this threat to America and Israel.”

I knew prayer wouldn’t be enough. If that was all John was asking for I certainly wouldn’t have written this piece, and you wouldn’t be bothering to read it either, but you are and that’s because you know by now that John has other ideas of how to ‘stop Iran’ and being the pastor of an 18,000 member church he doesn’t need to beat around the bush.

At the July 19th, 2006 Washington DC inaugural event for Christians United for Israel, after recorded greeting from George W. Bush, and in the presence of four US Senators as well as the Israeli ambassador to the US, John stated :”The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”

Well that’s everything isn’t it? The whole caboodle as we say in O’l Blighty. Now I don’t want to see anyone ‘wiped off the face of the earth’ least of all my Jewish friends, but bombing Iran back to the stone age won’t win us any friends in the Middle East, John. Trust me, I’ve asked them.

Your friend Ann Coulter suggested something similar after the tragedy of 9/11. She said, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”

We tried it a thousand years ago. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. John, I’m struggling a bit with your theology. I’ve read the Bible a few times over the years but I just can’t find that verse you must have in mind that says this is our ‘biblical obligation.’ I thought our ‘biblical obligation’ was to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-48). Paul said our ‘obligation’ is to tell them about the love of God found in Jesus (Romans 1:14; John 3:16-17). Maybe I’m just reading the wrong translation.

Grace Halsell put her finger on it when she wrote: “Convinced that a nuclear Armageddon is an inevitable event within the divine scheme of things, many evangelical dispensationalists have committed themselves to a course for Israel that, by their own admission, will lead directly to a holocaust indescribably more savage and widespread than any vision of carnage that could have generated in Adolf Hitler’s criminal mind.”

She is right isn’t she? Such a fatalistic view of the future, with its prewritten script, is inherently suspicious and pessimistic about anything international, ecumenical, or involving the European Community or United Nations. Efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East are spurned as counterfeit and a satanic ploy to beguile Israel. Such paranoia might be deemed a sick joke were it not so pervasive and influential, it seems, in shaping US foreign policy with its perpetual war against the ‘Axis of Evil’. Its greatest danger is surely that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe to call it ‘weird and wacky’ is a little understated.

For further examples of wacky theology see:

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Iranian Judicial Authorities Order the Release of Ramtin Soodmand

According to news received by FCNN, the judicial authorities have ordered the release of our brother Ramtin Soodmand.

In this report received, Ramtin’s lawyer, who had been in telephone contact with the judicial court of Mashhad and the office of Mr. Mottaghi, the local prosecutor, announced that subsequent to negotiations conducted between the Ministry of Information central offices in Tehran and the Christian representative of Iranian Christian community, Mr. Forootan who is the assistant to the judge, ordered the release of Ramtin Soodmand subject to the posting of a bail and other legal restrictions. He was to be released on Thursday October 16, 2008, but due to the weekend holidays the date has been postponed.

It is important to remember that Ramtin Soodmand, who is the official minister of the Evangelical Church of Iran in Mashhad, was arrested and detained by the officers of the ministry of information on August 21, 2008.

His lawyer, in filing papers with the court regarding the illegality of his client’s arrest and the violation of his rights, under the current law, to be formally charged and bail hearing to be conducted within 10 days of his arrest, strongly protested that actions of the government.

Finally, Ramtin was formally charged with the crime of anti-government activities, a charge which his lawyer strongly denied and demanded the release of his client. So far, there has been no date set for Ramtin’s trail by the judge.

FCNN reiterates that these charges are unfounded and false. The real reason for his arrest is the fact that he is a Muslim convert who is involved in Christian ministry. Also, it must be mentioned that another Christian minister, Shroder Ashur, an Assyrian minister, who was also charged with the crime of propagation of Christianity, was recently released in the city of Urumieh on October 5, 2008.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper recently carried a moving article about Ramtin Soodmand, a 35-year-old Iranian Christian who was arrested on the 20th August and is presently in prison awaiting charges. Amnesty International have identified Ramtin as a prisoner of conscience. They state, “He is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment and is being held in an unknown location. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately as he has been detained solely for his religious beliefs.”

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