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TEI Update #157
October 14, 2006

[COMMENT:  Below is a newsletter posted by John Rankin, a superb apologist who goes about apologetics with grace and passion.  He describes below his growing emphasis on Islam, and his way of dealing with Islam -- go directly to them. 

And that is backed up by his concern for "the power of informed choice", which God gives to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden -- by the creation of the two trees, the Tree of Life and the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  He is one of the few persons I know who develops the meaning of these trees like they should be. 

Heaven is founded on a freewill covenant, which requires the informed choice to which Rankin refers. 

You can contact him as indicated below.     E. Fox]

Rev. John C. Rankin, President
Theological Education Institute (TEI) and the Mars Hill Society
150 Trumbull Street, 4th Floor, Hartford, Connecticut 06103
860/246-0099   www.teinetwork.com   john@teinetwork.com

Dear Friends in Christ:
 
Greetings, as always, in the love of the Lord.
 
Last night I visited a mosque (masjid in Arabic) for the first time in my life, as 250 men were praying during the fasting month of Ramadan, listening to a visiting Sheikh, and then listening for over a hour during further prayers as one leader recited a portion of the Qur'an by heart. The whole Qur'an is recited this way across 27 days in Ramadan. It was a remarkable experience, and I was received very warmly. The nature of the Gospel is the Jesus came into our worlds and met us where we were for who we were. So too, as a minister of the Gospel, that is always my goal in imitating Jesus my Lord.
 
I will review these details of my visit to the mosque, and my follow through, in the next TEI Update.
 
In 23 years of public policy ministry, I have one overriding focus rooted in Genesis 2.
 
Namely, when life and death are defined honestly, when good and evil are defined honestly as God does in the Garden of Eden, then we have the power of informed choice.
 
When Moses gave his final words to Israel, he said: "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings. Therefore choose life..." (Deuteronomy 30:19).
 
When Joshua gave his final words to Israel, he said: "Now fear Yahweh and serve him with complete faithfulness. Cast away the gods your forefathers worshiped across the River and in Egypt, and serve Yahweh. But if serving Yahweh seems evil to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served across the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. But as for me and my household, we will serve Yahweh" (Joshua 24:14-15).
 
The apostle Paul says: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17).
 
The power of informed choice depends on accurate definition of terms. Thus, whenever we define good and evil, and life and death accurately, the Gospel is advanced. People can then can make an informed choice.
 
But the devil seeks to define terms dishonestly so that the power of informed choice is stolen. Isaiah put it this way: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who set darkness for light and light for darkness; who set bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (5:20).
 
In five arenas of ministry since 1983 I have seen this to be true, and a sixth arena needs attention:
  1. The debate over human abortion, where abortion-rights advocates define a misinformed choice which destroys the lives of women and the unborn, usually in reaction to the violation of male chauvinists.
  2. The debate over church and state, where skeptics seek to restrict religious liberty.
  3. The debate over pagan and occultic religion, and over atheism and secularism, where there are deep reactions to a church that has not truly defined or lived the power of informed choice; here skeptics have been burned often by an imposed religion.
  4. The debate over homosexuality, where most often male chauvinistic violation upon men and women in their youth has poisoned their souls profoundly; it has robbed their power to choose to trust in a healthy heterosexual chastity before marriage, and fidelity within true marriage.
  5. The debate over evolution and intelligent design, where so much of the argument against creation and the Creator is rooted in reactions to imposed and facile religion.
  6. The debate over Islam -- how the Qur'an challenges the Bible, and as a result we have jihad and the 1400-year old commitment of much of Islam to rule the world in the name of Allah.
From this point forward, my Mars Hill Forum series will address any of the first five arenas that are needful, and they are; but too, I will focus on setting up series of forums on Islam with leading Muslims scholars. I have studied enough Islam in my undergraduate and graduate years, along with much more since my post-graduate studies, that I could qualify for a major in the subject. But this only scratches the surface of what I need to learn, and this fall I have finally made the time to start studying Arabic -- from a Palestinian Muslim woman at Hartford Seminary, a native of Nazareth who is a Ph.D. candidate in archeology. All Muslim people, like the rest of us, are created for freedom. But Islam does not allow biblical freedom. And to bring the freedom, the power of informed choice, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into this debate -- it is the most critical international issue of our day, maybe of history.
 
This also involves making it first the Gospel, then politics..., so as to bring the power of informed choice into U.S. politics, and I have a project underway as well -- details forthcoming, especially as my new website is nearing completion.
 
Blessings and your servant in Jesus,
John

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