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When Apostasy Runs Amok

Jan Markell gets it right in this article!

When Apostasy Runs Amok – By Jan Markell – www.olivetreeviews.org

In the early days of all things “purpose driven,” I didn’t say much. I was, admittedly, skeptical. I had a hunch churches might experience the promised growth thanks to the movement behind “purpose driven,” the seeker-sensitive movement; however, it might not be a healthy growth. But as the years moved on, I started hearing about wreckage. Calls and e-mails told me that beloved congregations were caving to all things unsound and even unscriptural. Members were told that the ends justified the means. In other words, numbers trumped everything.

So, I began to watch Pastor Warren more carefully. When he praised the freedom in Syria in 2006, I just shuddered. When he spoke to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and withheld the gospel, I reacted again. ISNA is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. When he told Alan Colmes to “give Jesus a try for 60 days,” I came close to writing him off.

When Rick began featuring occultic “New Agers” in his church sanctuary in January 2011, I further realized that “America’s Pastor” wasn’t as sound as he had been portrayed. Rick allowed a year-long effort at fitness to headquarter out of Saddleback Church and concluded the event by cheering that Saddleback members lost 250,000 pounds. Rick, some souls might have been lost during that time because Drs. Amen, Hymen and Oz represent the dark side of the world, not the light of Jesus. These men are secularists. At one time, Dr. Oz even had a link on his Web site that took you to a place where you could learn how to talk to the dead.

But Rick did it again coming out of the shoot into 2012 and I am being a bit outspoken about this. He’s leading an effort to heal divisions between Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques. He is proposing theological principles that include acknowledging Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

A Saddleback Church spokesman says this effort “is a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.” The root of this madness goes back to “A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You” This was a joint effort between Muslims and Christians to deepen dialogue and relations at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Pastor Warren was one of the signers, along with hundreds of other Christian leaders. They also acknowledged that neither Muslim nor Christian would try to evangelize each other. Just like that, evangelism evaporates in the minds of major Christian leaders. We’ve got to all get along! Rodney King, you would be proud of us!

One of the statements of this “Common Word” effort was that religious peace would bring world peace. No, the return of Christ will bring world peace. Evangelical signers of this document should have known better.

I stand with Joseph Farah on this issue. He states, “If you compare the personality of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — the Christian and Hebrew God — with Allah, Islam’s god, the contrast could not be more stark. The Hebrew-Christian God is characterized by love. The Islamic god is characterized by war and vengeance. The Hebrew-Christian God provides a clear path to redemption and personal salvation in a fallen world — through repentance. The Islamic god provides only one certain path to personal salvation — martyrdom. The Hebrew-Christian God elevates the status of women. The Islamic god does the opposite.

“The Hebrew-Christian God encourages followers to be a light to the whole world. The Islamic god encourages jihad on the non-Islamic world and, ultimately and unambiguously, calls for the death of unconverted Christians and Jews.”

Farah concludes, “Into this breech, Warren seeks common theological ground. It would be easier to find common theological ground between Christians and atheists than Christians and Muslims.”

What becomes immediately apparent is that while making friends with Muslims is certainly an admirable goal, Warren has prioritized the three goals of making friends, building peace and working together on shared social service projects over and above the commandment of Jesus to baptize and make disciples of the whole world.

Author Joel Richardson says that rather than obeying the Great Commission and creating disciples of the Jesus of the Bible, Warren is “building a Tower of Babel that leads to nowhere.”

Richardson concludes, “I would agree in that when Christian groups join together with other groups that have such fundamentally divergent goals and doctrines, the danger is always compromise. Throughout the Old Testament, the commandment of God to the Israelites was to never enter into agreements, covenants or marriages with the surrounding peoples, lest the Israelites would find themselves led away to worship other gods. In such a postmodern culture, these concepts may sound amazingly intolerant, but the wisdom of the Lord’s prescription against treaties and partnerships is seen in Warren’s agreement not to evangelize his Muslim ‘friends’ and co-laborers for mutual social causes.”

The ultimate hope of Christianity is the Lord’s return. Islam awaits a Mahdi who would eradicate Christianity. Thus, I agree with Richardson’s conclusion: “If Warren was pursuing friendships for the purpose of evangelism, I would openly stand with him in this goal. But I think it is clear that Warren is pursuing an agenda far more in line with the spirit of the age than with the goals of the early Christian Church.”

Being a critic of Rick Warren costs one plenty! I have lost friends and other loved ones because I have not always been supportive of all things purpose-driven, or market-driven church growth. Do I think Rick loves God and is serving Him to the best of his ability? Yes. I just think “Peace Plans” and global initiatives don’t belong in the house of God. Cozying up to Mullahs and uttering words they want to hear produces nothing but a laughing Mullah. Such agendas morph into ideas and plans that are counterproductive to God’s ultimate call on the church.

What we can agree upon is that Pastor Rick Warren needs our prayers. While he vehemently denies that he is involved in the Chrislam movement, actions speak louder than words.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3198

Time to Wake Up

Read the attached commentaery from Greg Laurie of Harvest Chapel. The time for the church to wake up to the reality of the Lord’s return is now!

Time to Wake Up – Greg Laurie – www.harvest.org

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

—Romans 13:11

Every now and then someone comes along and says they know the day of Christ’s return. But don’t ever believe that. The Bible says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).

However, we can know the times and the seasons, the Bible says. But no one can know the exact day or time when Jesus Christ will come back for His people.

But here is the question we might be thinking about: Will He come soon? And will He come in our lifetime?

No one can say with absolute certainty. But there are signs that would say it is getting close. They are on the front pages of our newspapers, on our news websites, and on our favorite television and radio news programs. We will read headlines along the lines of, “Iran Threatens to Annihilate Israel,” “China Builds up Military,” “Another School Shooting Kills 23,” and “Thousands Feared Dead in Earthquake.” These are signs of the times, because they are things that Jesus said would happen in greater frequency prior to His return.

If I were to go outside and notice that it was dark and cloudy and could even see the rain falling in a nearby city, if I saw that a weather system was moving our direction, would you think of me as a genius if I said it may rain soon? Of course not. It is obvious that it will be raining soon. It doesn’t take an act of great intelligence to predict that.

In the same way, signs of the times are all around us, telling us the return of Christ is close. Knowing this should affect the way we live. So let’s wake up. Let’s be ready for His return.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3195

The Man of Lawlessness and the Burning of the Qur’an

Please read the article below. The Bible was written from an Eastern perspective and everything in regard to the time of the end revolves around Israel. Keep looking up!

The Man of Lawlessness and the Burning of the Qur’an

02/29/2012

 

By Jack Smith

Behind my desk is a newly framed picture that has special meaning to me. It is a picture of the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim religious shrine that memorializes Muhammad’s “night journey” and his heavenly rendezvous with Allah. Superimposed on the picture are the words, “…only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.  And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth…” 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8.

It was in my study of 2 Thessalonians 2 that God revealed the first “piece” of the “Islamic Paradigm” puzzle, that is, Islam is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy of an antichrist empire that will rise up in the last days to wage “holy war” against the world (Revelation 13:1-10). The spiritual meaning behind the Dome of the Rock was the first revelation of that Paradigm (see “Introduction, p XI, Islam the Cloak of Antichrist). The Dome of the Rock is not an Islamic worship center, i.e., a mosque. The Dome of the Rock is an octagonal, domed structure that “stands over” a massive rock (“Rock”) located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There is nothing else located within the Dome of the Rock other than the Rock itself, and the marble, columned structure that foreshadows and encloses it.

When I began my personal study of Islam in the Fall of 2001, one of the first books I purchased on Muslim Holy War (and, in fact, the only book I found on the specific topic) was entitled, “Jihad,” by Paul Fregosi, Prometheus Books, 1998. The opening Introduction (page 19) states:

The Jihad, the Islamic so-called Holy War, has been a fact of life in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Near and Middle East for more than 1300 years, but this is the first history of the Muslim wars of Europe ever published. Hundreds of books, however, have appeared on its Christian counterpart, the Crusades, …. The Jihad has been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history. It has, in fact, been largely ignored. … In the New South Wales State Library, where I did part of my research while in Australia, there were 108 entries listed in their catalogue cards for the Crusades, but only two for the Jihad! The Jihad has been largely bypassed by Western historians, and this book is an attempt to right the situation, …   (Emphasis in italics, mine).

Jihad was published in 1998, three years before 9/11. Fregosi states, “this is the first history of the Muslim wars ever to be published… The Jihad has been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history.”  Why? Why have the Muslim holy wars not been reported in the same way that the Crusades have been reported? Why so meticulously report on the Crusades and use them as “fodder”  to malign Christianity, and report virtually nothing on Muslim holy war? Why have the pens of historians, both American, European, and Muslim omitted the murderous actions of the mujahideen of Islam for almost 1400 years?

In fact, it is embarrassing for me to admit it, but when I first began my study of Islam after 9/11, I was somehow either unaware of it, or had forgotten, that the Middle East at the time of the Quranic revelation to Muhammad (610 A.D.) was predominantly Christian. The land that Christ once walked, the lands that the Apostle Paul planted churches, the entire Middle East, north Africa, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, were predominantly Christian. Certainly, not a “unified” Christianity, but Christian all the same. In fact, the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were all located in modern day Turkey.  Then, jihad occurred.  And, Christianity was “killed off.”  Here is how historian, Phillip Jenkins describes it in his book, “The Lost History of Christianity” (p. 30):

Given that the destruction of Christianity has not been much studied, we can make certain general observations, stressing above all the role of states. Though churches may lose political influence under Christian states or in predominantly Christian societies, though they might be secularized, they do not vanish. … In most of these cases, churches collapsed or vanished because they were unable to cope with the pressures placed upon them by hostile regimes, mainly Muslim. While religions might sicken and fade, they do not die of their own accord:  they must be killed.  (Emphasis in italics, mine)

Christianity was “killed” in the Middle East.  By Islam. After 9/11, there was a mantra that frequently appeared in public: “We will not forget.”  We may not have forgotten 9/11, but we have forgotten the Christianity that once predominated the Middle East. How have we forgotten?  I propose that the reason is because the prince of darkness, satan, has “restrained” the world’s understanding; he has covered it up much like the spirit of the antichrist has veiled the minds of humanity to the only Begotten God, Jesus the Christ (2 John 2:18, 21-22). The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

This is precisely the meaning of 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work;” only “he who now restrains” will do so until he is “taken out of the way.” The one who “restrains” is the spirit of antichrist (satan and his “minions”). He “restrains” so that humanity will not know the identity of the instrument through whom he will practice his “mystery of lawlessness.”  The spirit of antichrist will continue to “restrain,” according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “until he is taken out of the way.” That occurred on September 11, 2001; when the world watched in unbelief as  the lives of thousands of innocent were taken.  On that day, President Bush referred to the perpetrators as “faceless cowards.” Not sure if I agree with that description. The “face” of the perpetrator was revealed that day: when the Islamists cried out in their last moments, “Allahu Akbar!” “Allahu Akbar!” “Allah is Great!” “Allah is Great!,” the face of the enemy was revealed, and, the mask that so completely covered his face was lifted ever so slightly — for the world was first made aware of the mystery of lawlessness that has so disguised itself in Islam for hundreds of years. The “restrainer,” having now been moved out of the way, will not only reveal the identity of satan’s instrument, but also use the very nature of the enemy, destruction, muck like a “fingerprint” left behind at a crime scene. The true nature of Islam will continue to be revealed to humanity – but only to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; Revelation 13:4), until the return of the Lamb of God.

Afghanistan has filled our news lately.

Why do I mention this event in the context of 2 Thessalonians 2?  Because it is evidence of exactly what I am stating. The mystery of lawlessness is not being restrained anymore. Evil is having its way — the holy book of Islam was burned, and people are killed! The evidence of the removal of restraint is not only in the killings, but in our expectation that death will soon occur and claim another victim in honor of Allah.  We know this happens when Islam, its Allah, or its ”prophet” is blasphemed.  This is why the apologies came so quickly from every place in the non-Muslim West — to try and pacify the lust of death by prostrating ourselves in subjection, and immediate pleas of apology. Perhaps, if we hold those accountable for such despicable acts, we can satisfy the lust of lawlessness.  We know that when Muslims get “lawless,” people die. People get killed.

Here is a post I received on my blog in response to the article — What Does the Qur’an Say About its Burning?  Blogger “Blickmancin James” wrote:

it is 2012, everyone knows by now that burning a koran would lead to violent protest… its like someone ‘accidentally’ drawing a cartoon of muhammad.  innocent people in places like nigeria would be killed over this (after friday prayers)

My point? Yes, we all know — after all, its 2012, not 9/11/2001.  It has taken us over ten years, but for the one who has “eyes to see and ears to hear,” the violence of the “mystery of lawlessness” is shouting loudly.

One last point.  Did you realize that of the over thirty who have died in retaliation for the Qur’an burning, only 4 (at least from what I read) were non-Muslims? How do you explain the 26 Muslim deaths at the hands of other Muslims? Afghanistan is Sunni Islam. The Taliban is also Sunni Muslim.  This is not sectarian violence where Sunnis kill Shi’ites and vice versa.  This is death for the sake of death.  It is not death to Americans, but death to anyone, because the objective is not justice, but death for death’s sake.  Why so?  Because the hand behind it all is satan. Pure evil.  Evil that is only satisfied by evil; and the more it is satisfied, the more it will lust for more. It is this evil that is the root of satan’s masquerade behind Islam.

The mystery of lawlessness and the man of lawlessness, the antichrist spirit of satan, will become more and more bold. This boldness will escalate until the end of the tribulation period. Then, the “… Lord will slay [the man of lawlessness] with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3189

Why is Bible prophecy important?

Read the attached article from Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries on why Bible prophecy is so important to usas believes! Keep looking up!

 

Why is Bible prophecy important?
By Dr. David R. Reagan
Founder & Director, Lamb & Lion Ministries
Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a “fad” that takes people’s eyes off Jesus.

A good example of what I’m talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.1 He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.” He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a “distraction” and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy “is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Such cavalier dismissals of Bible prophecy fly in the face of scriptures like Revelation 19:10 which says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone’s attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus.

Is prophecy practical? Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that living with the anticipation of the Lord’s return will motivate holy living. What could be more practical than that? Here are some examples:

The Apostle Paul: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” — Romans 13:12-14.

The Apostle Peter: “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:7-11.

The Apostle John: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” — 1 John 3:2-3.

Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly. Nor does it have to be a playground for fanatics. It can and should be green pastures for disciples.

There are many reasons why all believers should be interested in studying Bible prophecy. Some of the more important ones are listed below:

1) The Quantity
One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. In the Old Testament, this includes the Psalms, the Major and Minor Prophets, and many passages in the historical books. In the New Testament, entire books like 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Revelation are devoted to prophecy, as are major passages like Matthew 24 and 1 Peter 3. To ignore Bible prophecy is to ignore a significant portion of God’s Word, and we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” — and that certainly includes Bible prophecy.

2) The Uniqueness
No other book in the world contains fulfilled prophecies. This includes the sayings of Buddha and Confucius, the Koran, the Hindu Vedras, and the Book of Mormon. And it certainly includes the ridiculous nonsensical quatrains of Nostradamus.2 In contrast, the Bible contains hundreds of specific prophecies that have already been fulfilled — prophecies about towns, cities, nations, empires, and political leaders, as well as prophecies about the Messiah. Consider, for example, the prophecy in the book of Isaiah that a man named Cyrus would be the one who would release the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 44:28). And that is exactly what happened 142 years later (Ezra 1:1-3).

3) Validator of Scripture
Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences I know of that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As I stated above, the Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, and individuals. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:17-20). Jeremiah predicted the Babylonian captivity of the Jews would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Daniel outlined in advance the precise order of four great Gentile empires (Daniel 2 and 7). The destruction of both Judah and Israel was foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 28 and 29). In the New Testament, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of Jerusalem 40 years before it actually occurred (Luke 21:6).

4) Validator of Jesus
The prophetic scriptures validate Jesus as who He said He was — namely, God in the flesh. The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus, but some of these are repetitive. There are actually 109 separate and distinct prophecies concerning the First Coming, and all of them were literally fulfilled.3 Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied — the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. Consider, for example, the prophecy in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. That prophecy was written by David about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. It was written 700 years before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution. The literal fulfillment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said He was — the divine Son of God.

5) Revealer of the Future
Prophecy serves to tell us some things that God wants us to know about the future (Deuteronomy 29:29 and Amos 3:7). God does not want us to know everything about the future, but there are some things we must know if we are to have a dynamic hope. Thus, prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will resurrect us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and God the Father. In this regard, Peter likens prophecy to “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. He begins by observing that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the mind of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” But in the next verse Paul says those things have been revealed to us by God through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

6) Tool of Evangelism
Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism, as illustrated in the story of Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff). Philip used Isaiah’s great suffering lamb passage (Isaiah 53) to teach that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Matthew and Peter both used fulfilled prophecy in the life of Jesus as one of their basic evangelistic tools. In fact, Peter referred to prophecy constantly in his first gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39). He preached that Jesus had been crucified and resurrected in fulfillment of Hebrew prophecies. Later, Peter referred to fulfilled prophecy as one of the greatest evidences that Jesus was truly the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-19).

7) Tool of Moral Teaching
People often overlook the fact that the Hebrew prophets were forthtellers as well as foretellers. In fact, the prophets spent most of their time using God’s Word to spotlight societal problems. They called their listeners to repentance, true worship, social justice, and personal holiness. One of the great recurring themes of the prophets is that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). That statement means that in God’s eyes, obedience to His commands is more important than outward religious practices such as offering sacrifices. Prophecy is thus a great repository of moral teaching, and those moral principles are still relevant today. (See Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8; and Isaiah 58:3-9.)

8) Generator of Spiritual Growth
Prophetic knowledge encourages patient waiting (James 5:7-8); provokes earnest watching (Matthew 24:36,42); inspires dedicated work (2 Timothy 4:7-8); and enhances our hope (Titus 2:11-14). The result is holy living. Paul exhorts us to “behave properly as in the day,” because the time is at hand when the Lord will return (Romans 13:12-13). Likewise, Peter calls us to gird up our minds and be sober and holy as we look forward to the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13-15).

9) Understanding of Current Events
The Bible contains detailed prophecies about the end times we are living in, and there is just no way to fully understand much of what is happening today apart from those prophecies. Three characteristics of our day and time immediately come to mind: the intensifying decay of society, the growing apostasy in the Church, and the escalating crisis in the Middle East. All three of these situations are prophesied in detail in the Bible. We are told that society will become as violent and immoral as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39); that the Church will be assaulted with “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1); and that all the nations of the world will come against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3).

10) Signifier of the Season
One of the most exciting reasons for studying Bible prophecy is that it provides very definite signs that we are to watch for which will signify the season of the Lord’s return. It is true that we cannot know the date of the Lord’s return, but the Bible makes it clear that we can know the season if we are aware of the signs that we are to look for.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3180

Chrislam Update: Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims by saying Christians & Muslims worship same god

1 John 2:20-23  “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.[e] 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

 

Rick Warren builds bridge to Muslims

Through years of outreach, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren is part of an effort named King’s Way that’s attempting bring evangelical Christians and Muslims together.

By JIM HINCH / FOR THE REGISTER

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America’s most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

The effort, informally dubbed King’s Way, caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims. Warren has broken Ramadan fasts at a Mission Viejo mosque, met Muslim leaders abroad and addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C.

Saddleback worshippers have invited Muslims to Christmas dinner and played interfaith soccer at a picnic in Irvine attended by more than 300 people. (The game pitted pastors and imams against teens from both faiths. The teens won.)

The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback’s congregation.

At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King’s Way as “a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.”

The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in “one God” and share two central commandments: “love of God” and “love of neighbor.” The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.

“We agreed we wouldn’t try to evangelize each other,” said Turk. “We’d witness to each other but it would be out of ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ not focused on conversion.”

Saddleback representatives declined to make Warren available for comment. Tom Holladay, associate senior pastor at Saddleback, said the outreach to Muslims is part of Saddleback’s PEACE Plan, a wide-ranging effort to solve major world problems by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.

“This is us serving our own community with Muslims here in Orange County,” said Holladay. “We realize we don’t agree about everything and we’re very open about that. … You just recognize the differences and recognize the points where you can work together.”

Warren has faced criticism from some evangelicals for his outreach to Muslims. Late last year, he issued a statement flatly denying rumors that he promulgates what critics term “Chrislam,” a merging of Islam and Christianity.

The “rumor is 100 percent false,” Warren wrote at Pastors.com, a website he founded that provides practical advice to church leaders. “My life and ministry are built on the truth that Jesus is the only way, and our inerrant Bible is our only true authority.”

Polls show that evangelicals are 30 percent more likely than other Christians to hold a negative view of Islam, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Polls also show that evangelicals overwhelmingly favor converting Muslims to Christianity and are more likely to believe that Islam encourages violence.

Warren has repeatedly encouraged evangelicals to set aside such views, arguing that Christians are obliged to treat everyone with love and respect, regardless of faith.

“I don’t know if you have noticed this, but God likes variety,” Warren told an audience of 8,000 Muslims at a Washington, D.C. convention in 2009, according to a transcript published by the religion news website beliefnet. “People of all beliefs (can) be, and discuss, and, yes, even disagree, without demeaning or debasing each other.”

Warren’s outreach to Muslims stems directly from his church’s location in multiethnic Orange County, home to 170,000 Muslims. For 12 years Warren has lived next door to Yasser Barakat, a Muslim from Syria who worships at a Mission Viejo mosque four miles down the road from Saddleback. The Trabuco Canyon neighbors were friends for years before Barakat realized he lived next door to a world-famous Christian pastor.

When Barakat discovered who Warren was, he invited his neighbor to learn more about Islam. “I was talking to him over the fence,” Barakat said. “I said, ‘Rick, why don’t you go to Syria with me? He said, ‘Sure, let’s talk about it. Let’s do it.’ ”

Warren traveled with Barakat to Syria in 2006, and Warren and his wife, Kay, began attending Iftar meals at the Mission Viejo mosque. Iftar is the evening meal Muslims eat after fasting all day during the holy month of Ramadan. Invitations followed to address Muslim conferences in Long Beach, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

“We understand that to some people in the religious community these events may be difficult to swallow,” said Yassir Fazaga, imam at the Mission Viejo mosque. “But I believe that we have to begin somewhere and just begin to reach out and be accessible to people when they ask about who we are.”

Gwynne Guibord, an ordained Episcopal priest and co-founder of a Los Angeles outreach group that fosters relationships between churches and mosques nationwide, said Saddleback’s effort is unprecedented. “I’m not aware of any other evangelical church reaching out to the Muslim community,” she said.

Guibord said that when she and Jihad Turk co-founded the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group in 2006, they sent invitations to mosques, the Catholic archdiocese and a variety of mainline Protestant denominations throughout Southern California, but not to evangelical churches.

“I think that many evangelicals feel a mandate to convert people to Christianity,” Guibord said. Because the Consultative Group was founded to respond to increasing antagonism between the two faiths, “we would not have made headway” if one side was trying to convert the other, she said. Now, she said, it might be possible to include evangelicals in her group’s work.

Turk said the relationship between Saddleback and Muslims, though still in its infancy, has already produced results. “People (at the December dinner) were talking about the bonds they’ve formed and they were crying,” he said. Both sides realized they shared misconceptions about each other’s faith.

“We did a quiz at the Christmas dinner,” Turk said, “asking basic questions about Islam or Christianity with the scriptures, the Koran or the Bible. And both sides were missing it…. It’s an education for everyone.”

Barakat said he continues to know Warren as a man who literally loves his neighbor. Barakat said his children could always count on Warren to buy the candy or magazine subscriptions they sold door-to-door for school fundraisers. The Warrens have hosted Barakat’s family at a Christmas dinner, he said.

“He calls me his Muslim brother,” Barakat said. “It all started with a friendship.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3176

Vatican wants to examine 1500-year-old Bible in Turkey: report

Here we go with this story showing how the faith will turn from Jesus being the Son of God. If the Vatican believes these lies then the false religion of Islam will be in bed with Catholism.

The Vatican has requested that Turkey allow it to examine a 1500-year-old Bible that was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000 and handed over to the Ankara Ethnography Museum, the Turkish Bugün daily reported on Thursday.

The daily said the Bible is reportedly written in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, and is said to be worth TL 40 million. According to the report, the Bible was seized from a gang smuggling artifacts during a police operation in southern Turkey in 2010 and reportedly preserves its originality and many traces of the period it’s from.

The gang was reportedly convicted of smuggling various items seized during the operation, including the Bible, and all the artifacts were kept in a safe in the Ankara Courthouse. The Bible, which was reportedly kept in the courthouse for years, was only recently handed over to the care of Ankara Ethnography Museum.

The leather-bound Bible is written on leather sheets and is now under protection as it is regarded as a valuable cultural asset. Even a Xerox copy of pages from the book is reported to be worth as much as TL 3-4 million.

Another Turkish daily, the Star, has claimed that it may be a copy of the much-debated Gospel of Barnabas, which Muslims claim is an original gospel that was later suppressed — the oldest copies of this gospel date back to the 16th century and are written in Italian and Spanish. However, the Gospel of Barnabas is not included in the four gospels that currently comprise the canonical New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Gospel of Barnabas contradicts the canonical New Testament account of Jesus and his ministry, but has strong parallels with the Islamic view of Jesus. Much of its content and themes parallel Islamic ideas and it includes a prediction by Jesus of the Prophet Muhammad coming to earth.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3152

PLANNING FOR ISLAMIC CALIPHATE TO BEGIN

 

A senior fellow for a Madrid-based think tank is alerting freedom-loving people about a caliphate-planning conference being held by Muslims soon, a move he said was given a boost of support by the Obama administration recently when it allowed a three-day “Istanbul Process” conference in Washington.

That event, writes Soeren Kern, Senior Fellow for European Politics at Madrid’s Grupo de Estudio, “gave the [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] the political legitimacy it has been seeking to globalize its initiative to ban criticism of Islam.”

The coming event, Caliphate Conference 2012, is being organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir, which Kern describes as a “pan-Islamic extremist group that seeks to establish a global Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by Islamic Shariah law.”

The 57-member OIC has been proposing a special international law that would make it criminal to speak ill of Muhammad or his followers for years, but it never was successful under its earlier plans that were portrayed as a ban on the “defamation of religions.” Actually, support for the idea had started waning.

But then it proposed Resolution 16/18, a plan for countries to “combat” things like “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief.” The idea was adopted in the U.N. General Assembly just a few weeks ago and Kern’s analysis notes that it would be largely ineffectual as long as the West doesn’t jump behind it.

That is why it was a “diplomatic coup,” according to Kern, when Obama held the three-day conference in Washington, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committed to the key principal Muslims have been seeking for years: holding people responsible when “free speech” … “results in sectarian clashes.”

The critical question that has been among the reasons the so-called “anti-defamation” plans previously have failed is that such limits suggest, even require, that the blame be placed on the person making a statement if the situation is that someone else reacts to it violently.

Free speech advocates are worried over her comment that, “It’s one thing if people are just disagreeing. That is fair game. That’s free speech. But if it results in sectarian clashes, if it results in the destruction or the defacement or the vandalization of religious sites, if it even results in imprisonment or death, then government must held those – hold those who are responsible accountable.”

In Western civilization, the standard for responsibility would be to hold those accountable who do violence, not those who make statements that those who do violence blame for their actions.

The U.N. strategy, proposed by Pakistan “on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference,” again creates an open door to blame someone for making a statement about Islam to which Muslims would react violently, by raising concerns about “incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

Further, it “condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

Repeated concerns have been raised by such statements, as they open the door for attacks on people making statements about their own beliefs, which someone else would choose to decry as “hatred.”

In fact, the resolution calls for “measures to criminalize” some related behaviors.

Sharona Schwartz at at the Blaze noted that the German-language promotion video for the conference starts: “The relentless decline of capitalism has begun. The time has come to fight against poverty. Time to obliterate the injustices. Time for the correct system.”

Which is identified as Islam.

In a report published by the Stonegate Institute, Kern said the “explicit aim” of the Istanbul Process is to make it a crime to criticize Islam.

He writes, “According to Steven Emerson, a leading authority on Islamic extremist networks, Hizb ut-Tahrir is emulating the three-stage process by which Muslims established the first Islamic caliphate after the death of the Islamic Prophet, Mohammed, in the year 632.

“During the first stage, Hizb ut-Tahrir builds a party by cultivating a small number of supporters to engage in recruitment and propaganda. In the second stage (which Hizb ut-Tahrir is now entering in Europe and the United States), the group educates Muslims in order to recruit a larger group of people to join Hizb ut-Tahrir and support its revolution. Finally, having won the support of Muslims, Hizb ut-Tahrir moves to establish a Shariah-ruled Islamic government.”

He notes the OIC just two weeks ago sponsored a symposium in Brussels to talk about “anti-Islamophobia.”

“Resolution 16/18, which was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva in March 2011, is widely viewed as a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam,” he reports.

He cited the report from the International Islamic News Agency, which stated, “The phenomenon of Islamophobia is found in the West in general, but is growing in European countries in particular, in a manner different from that in the U.S., which had contributed to drafting Resolution 16/18. The new European position represents the beginning of the shift from its previous reserve over the years over the attempts by the OIC to counter ‘defamation of religions’ in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations.”

WND previously has written about the Islamic-led Defamation of Religions proposal in the United Nations. It was “nothing more than an effort to achieve special protections for Islam – a move to stifle religious speech,” according to an analysis by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.

According to the Human Rights First organization, the plan simply violates fundamental freedom of expression norms.

Tad Stahnke, of Human Rights First said the concept is “unfortunate for both individuals at risk whose rights will surely be violated under the guise of prohibiting ‘defamation of religions,’ as well as for the standards of international norms on freedom of expression.”

The issue also has been addressed by Carl Moeller, chief of Open Doors USA, in an interview with WND at the time, because of the pending threat to the freedoms in America.

“This is a battle for our basic freedoms,” he warned.

“This [U.N. idea] is Orwellian in its deviousness,” he said. “To use language like the anti-defamation of a religion. It sounds like doublespeak worthy of Orwell’s 1984 because of what it really does.”

He said Muslim nations would use it as an endorsement of their attacks on Christians for statements as simple as their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, which Muslims consider an affront.

Worse would be the “chilling” effect on language that the U.N. plan would create worldwide, he said.

“This would be a huge blessing to those who would silence dissidents in their countries, Islamic regimes,” he said. “This stands as a monument to the gullibility of the masses in the United States and other places who don’t see this for what it is.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3149

Looking for His coming – David Wilkerson

Jesus says in Matthew 24:44, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

A characteristic of the bride of Christ is an expectancy of His soon return. Jesus’ bride is to live in continual, joyful expectation of His imminent return—because He may come at any moment.

Jesus warned, however, that in the last days evil ministers will infiltrate the church in an effort to put the bride to sleep. They will attempt to take away her heart of love for the Bridegroom by claiming, “My master is delaying his coming” (verse 48). This gospel is preached by those who do not want to pay the price of obeying Christ’s commands. They really do not want Jesus to come back because they have sinful habits and lead double lives; in fact, they have concocted a doctrine to justify their continuing in sin. What is the result of this false teaching? First, it ends in worldliness because those who believe it want to enjoy worldly success and prosperity.

Beloved, do not give in to this doctrine of delay! If you are a part of Jesus’ bride, you will be so lovesick for your Lord you will not be able to buy into it. Instead, you will cry out, “My Lord said I am to be ready at any moment for His return. I know He is near—I can sense it. My heart cries out within me, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom is coming!’”

The early church was wide awake, heeding Jesus’ words. Their lamps were trimmed and burning, and they had a good supply of oil. Peter summed up the spirit of the early church this way: “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God . . . nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:12-13). Likewise, Paul said: “[We are] eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3131

‘Chrislam’ – A Spirit of Antichrist

I want to address what is beginning to occur in the Church and why it must be rejected outright. It’s becoming increasingly ‘in vogue’ to accept Islam in the Church. Consider a June 24, 2011 article from World Net Daily. “Dozens of churches, from Park Hill Congregational in Denver to Hillview United Methodist in Boise, Idaho, and First United Lutheran in San Francisco to St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Honolulu, are planning to send ‘a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam’ with a time to read the Quran during worship this Sunday.” It has been labeled ‘Chrislam’, the attempt by some Christians to find common ground with Islam. One person said it was wrong. Another called it dangerous. God uses stronger words than that. Scripture itself declares ‘Chrislam’, the mixing of Christianity and Islam, to be a Spirit of Antichrist!

The Spirit of Antichrist was already prevalent during the time of the Apostle John. In fact, he was the one who had the most to say about this demonic influence. In 1 John 2:18, he said, “…you have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time”. Again, in 1 John 4:3, he said, “…this is that SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST, whereof you have heard that it should come; and EVEN NOW ALREADY IS IT IN THE WORLD”. The word ‘Antichrist’ simply means ‘against Christ’ or ‘opposes Christ’. Anything that would be introduced into the Church that would subvert the finished work of the Cross, that is, distract, corrupt, or take away from who Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished at the Cross, is a Spirit of Antichrist. I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, “Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1). The acceptance of Islamic practices into the Church by these and other ministers is giving way to seducing spirits and is teaching the doctrines of devils.

What I am about to show you are the characteristics that the Apostle John himself used to describe the Spirit of Antichrist:

1) The Spirit of Antichrist denies that Jesus is the Christ. In 1 John 2:22, it says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist…” The word ‘Christ’ in the original Greek means ‘Anointed One’. In other words, it is a declaration of Jesus as Messiah. Islam rejects that Jesus is the one and only true Messiah. They believe He was a prophet and maybe a type of Messiah, but not the Anointed One. If that’s not enough, John goes further by calling them liars.

2) The Spirit of Antichrist denies that Jesus is the Son of God. In 1 John 2:22, the Apostle continues, “He is Antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son”. Islam rejects that Jesus affirmed He was the Son of God. Furthermore, one well-known Bible teacher said that Muslims believe that the Mahdi is the future leader and that Jesus will return and follow the Mahdi to Jerusalem where He (Jesus) will deny He is the Son of God. Again, in this same verse, John said those who reject His Sonship were liars.

3) The Spirit of Antichrist does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In 1 John 4:3, again the Apostle states, “And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that Spirit of Antichrist…” Did you catch that? Any spirit that rejects God as coming in the flesh is ‘not of God’. If it didn’t come from God, then it is a doctrine of devils according to the Apostle Paul himself, as stated earlier. Islam rejects that God came into this world in the flesh. This also tells us that the Christian God, who is Jesus Christ, is not the same as the Muslim god, Allah. It also proves that Allah is a false god.

Finally, the following are some of the last words the Apostle Peter would write before, according to tradition, he was crucified upside-down. “But there were false Prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord Who bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). For these Church leaders, who are blind watchmen, to bring Islam and the reading of the Quran into the Church is to deny the Lord himself, it is to deny who He is, and it is to deny what He accomplished at Calvary’s Cross 2,000 years ago, when He gave His life for the sins of the world! Just as bad, it is an open acceptance of the Spirit of Antichrist, which John said will bring swift destruction and ultimately, yet sadly, the damning of the soul.

What should the Church do now? We must get back to proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation without fear of reprisal. We must defend and preach the deity of Jesus, that He is the one true God and there is no other. Then we must also boldly proclaim the Holy Scriptures, not the Quran, as the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

Everyone should be free to practice their religion in the way they choose. What this is about is defending the truth of who Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished at the Cross, and preserving the purity of the Church against the infiltration of false doctrine. The Early Church Fathers (e.g., St. Polycarp, St. Irenaeus) defended the Truth against heresy, so why don’t we?

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3106

The Crescent Moon Rises

Please read the article below. The beast that was is reviving again from Revelation 13. Read Revelation chapter 17 to gain further understanding to this puzzle also. Keep looking up!

 

Turkey’s Ascension in the New Middle East

 

A political earthquake has ripped across the Middle East and North Africa in the last year, toppling several longstanding dictators in its wake. Some of the region’s most well-known names are gone, while a once-dominant nation appears poised to seize the chaotic opportunity to return to regional superpower status: Turkey. The Islamic-influenced—but technically secular—country once ruled the Middle East as the Ottoman Empire, and now they are using rhetoric, threats, and money to gain influence in the Arab Spring-transformed region.

 

Erdoğan Boldly Steps Forward

 

In the last few years, Turkey has gone from a consistent Western and Israeli ally to publicly threatening Israel. Relations between Turkey and Syria were also warming prior to Syria’s brutal crackdown on protesters in the country. Concurrently, Turkey has become a more vocal voice in the region and more recently sought to make itself a power to be reckoned with in the Middle East. Both changes—the gradual moving away from the West and the emergence of Turkish power—owe their origins to one man: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

 

Almost 100 years ago, Turkey was the dominant force in the Middle East, but its Ottoman Empire had held supreme control of the region for hundreds of years. However, it chose the wrong side in World War I. Defeated, the Ottoman Empire was divided up among European states as the spoils of war. Much of their territory eventually turned into a mix of kingdoms and dictatorships. Later, Turkey was relegated to a piece in the global struggle over the region between the United States and Communist Russia, with Turkey siding with NATO. Turkey had fallen from superpower in its own right to superpower pawn.

 

But as a bold and strident leader, Erdoğan stepped forward in 2003 to change the Turkish nation, and possibly the entire region. Dr. Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to Turkey and now an expert on Turkey at Hebrew University, told The Mideast Update that Erdoğan has helped Turkey to snap out of its political and regional doldrums partly by jumpstarting the Turkish economy. He said Turkey’s economy used to be of the unstable start-and-stop variety, a definite roadblock to regional power. However, he noted that Erdoğan has affected a major impact in this area during his years in power.

 

“He has done almost, I would say, miracles in Turkey economically. He strengthened the country regarding its regional position [diplomatically],” said Liel. “And as a result of his economic success and diplomatic success, there are more and more talks of Turkey being a kind of regional power or even a regional leader…”

 

This new leader has won multiple elections in Turkey during his tenure, but Erdoğan’s apparent national popularity has done anything but calm everyone’s fears of where he plans to take Turkey. Erdoğan has definitely removed Turkey from the West’s control, even if they aren’t always opposing them. This shift really became apparent in early 2009 after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

 

New Policy toward Israel

 

Erdoğan made headlines in January 2009 at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, when he made a public show of walking off the stage he was sharing with Israeli President Shimon Peres in protest over the Gaza war. In the conflict, an Israeli aerial assault and, eventually, ground troops were called in to stop Gazan terrorist rockets from falling on Israeli civilians. As of print time, the campaign’s goal of diminishing rocket attacks from Gaza largely has worked, but it also gave Erdoğan an opportunity to begin a change in Turkey’s foreign policy.

 

As pro-Palestinian supporters blindly ignored Hamas’s ongoing terrorism against Israel and accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, Erdoğan set himself as the face of this perspective with his show at Davos. He then followed up his display of disgust with rants against supposed Israeli crimes against the Palestinians—rhetoric that has continued to this day. Israel and Turkey had been allies for decades, but following the Gaza war, Turkey also canceled military exercises with Israel.

 

Then came the May 2010 Gaza flotilla when the Israel–Turkey relationship took another blow. A group of ships, ostensibly bringing aid to Gaza, sought to break the Israeli naval blockade there, put in place to prevent weapons smuggling. In defense of the blockade, Israel sent commandos in to commandeer the vessels. But on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, activists armed with metal bars, staves, and similar instruments assaulted the boarding commandos.

 

Fearful for their lives, the Israeli soldiers opened fire in self-defense and nine activists, all of which had connections to Turkey, were killed in the fighting. Despite the legitimate reason for maintaining the blockade and the fact that Israel was attacked first by the activists, Turkey was outraged by the deaths of its citizens.

 

Military deals between the countries came into doubt, and the Turkish rhetoric against Israel continued. The break with Israel was really set into motion now. Turkey also started to warm relations with Syria, a sworn enemy of Israel and the West, and Turkish popularity among Palestinians soared. Ynet reported that a Gaza baby was named Erdoğan in light of his support for Gaza. The rift with Israel was scoring Turkey points in the Arab world.

 

However, the split with Israel was not necessarily part of Turkey’s grand plan—or at least the United States still wielded enough influence at the time to encourage Turkey to backpedal. In December of 2010 during Israel’s horrific Carmel forest fire, Turkey sent firefighting planes to help fight the flames. Following that, Israel and Turkey, with US help, started negotiations to mend their relationship, and Turkey even helped discourage another flotilla. But another fire in December 2010 gave Turkey a potential alternative to sticking with Israel. This time it was a Tunisian man who set himself ablaze in a suicidal protest that set political fire to the entire region.

 

Arab Spring’s Influence

 

 What started as a protest by one Tunisian against his government’s stifling economic policies turned into a tumultuous march towards broader popular rights and democracy. Tunisia’s regime collapsed; then came Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, one of the most powerful men in the Middle East for decades. Muammar Gaddafi was next, and as of print time, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and the regimes in Yemen and Bahrain were also being challenged.

 

The Arab Spring, as the demonstrations became known, opened new doors for Turkey. While continuing to try and mend relations with Israel at the time, Erdoğan had quite an opportunity. Prior to the Arab Spring, he was one of the only democratically elected leaders in the Muslim world, making him uniquely qualified to endorse the protesters with no fear of the same thing happening in his own country.

 

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and others looked hypocritical and ridiculous as they supported protests in opposing states but assisted dictators in friendly nations. Therefore, Erdoğan has the potential to be the only stable leader assisting the fledgling democracies—a significant position of influence that can’t be bought.

 

Or maybe it can. Dr. Liel noted that Turkey’s economy enables them to give “massive” amounts of foreign aid, and they have already helped the rebels in Libya financially with “a lot of money.” And thanks to Turkey’s effective shift in loyalties, they were able to save relations with Libya, reversing what Liel had called a “substantial” blow in losing the relationship with Gaddafi.

 

That doesn’t mean, however, that all is perfect for Turkey in the region. A commentary in the Israeli Globes newspaper in September by columnist Jacky Hougy said Erdoğan’s planned triumphal visit to Egypt was largely muted and diluted by the Egyptian authorities. And his support for Egypt to be secular, as is technically Turkey, didn’t sit well with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, according to Dr. Liel. On the other hand, Liel said Turkish relations with Egypt used to be bad, so the relations are already closer than they were “by far.” There is “a lot of admiration in the Egyptian street for the Turkish achievements [economically].”

 

But giving dollars and declarations are one thing; actively supporting the protesters when the struggle is in doubt is something else. That’s exactly what has happened in Syria. As the death toll continued to rise in Syria at the hands of Assad’s regime, Turkey finally had enough. As of print time, Turkey was preparing sanctions against Syria’s regime over the crackdown on the protesters. It’s a risk that could cost Turkey its relationship with Syria, but it also has catapulted Erdoğan into a true regional showdown with Iran, Syria’s main ally, to see who can join Israel in the regional superpower class.

 

Dr. Liel said the Turkish steps are fraught with risk and potential. “It depends what will happen in Syria, because I have the feeling that Turkey is doing an enormous effort to get close to the rebels, is assisting the rebels, is enabling the leadership of the rebels to function out of Turkey…so I have the feeling that if Assad will be toppled, the relations between Syria and Turkey will recover,” said Liel. “If he will stay, they will not recover, at least not in the foreseeable future.”

 

Liel pointed out that thousands of Syrian refugees who’ve fled the violence have also been hosted by Turkey. Erdoğan had even been set to give a speech in the refugee area in October. Not everyone is happy about Erdoğan’s approach, however. The Syria disagreement has negatively impacted Turkish–Iranian relations, according to Liel.

 

The New Superpower?

 

As for Turkey’s position as Israel’s friend, that bridge was basically burned down in September. After lengthy negotiations that could not resolve the two countries’ relationship over the Gaza flotilla incident, Turkey dramatically downgraded their relationship with Israel. Israel’s ambassador was told not to return, and the Israeli embassy in Ankara was headed by the lowest-ranking diplomatic official possible. Turkey’s rhetoric also reached almost war-like proportions when it threatened to send warships with future flotillas to Gaza. For the first time in decades—if ever—the potential for military conflict with Israel seems theoretically possible.

 

In the midst of the souring relations, Erdoğan did receive some praise from Israeli President Peres for his country’s stance surrounding the prisoner swap for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, according to Ynet. Yet, if using Israel as a punching bag is a cheap way to win support in the anti-Israel Muslim world, then Turkey is scoring big. Erdoğan used his United Nations speech in September to assail the Jewish state, and that continued in his interviews with American media, as he called for sanctions against Israel in an interview with Time magazine.

 

 So is it working? Is Turkey becoming such a power? Erdoğan is certainly a regional “rockstar” at this point. CNN host Fareed Zakaria actually referred to him as “arguably the man of the week at the United Nations” during the world leaders’ speeches at the UN General Assembly. In addition, if the Assad regime collapses and Turkey becomes the best ally to a new government in Syria, then Iran will be losing friends, and Turkey will be earning new friends throughout the region.

 

There’s no one else in the Muslim world who can challenge Erdoğan as the most powerful leader in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian regime isn’t going to find it easy to be friends with the Arab Spring nations. Iran is already more feared than loved, and the once-powerful Egyptian and Libyan regimes are history. In other words, the Middle East can change fast. Turkey may be yesterday’s news by tomorrow, but at this rate, they seem destined to reemerge from almost 100 years of limited relevance. Look out Middle East, the crescent moon is rising again!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3097