4 ways ISIS grounds its actions in religion, and why it should matter

(Originally published at www.religionnews.com on November 16, 2015) The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, labeling them the “first of the storm.” The terrorist group affirmed, in a statement issued in Arabic, French and English, that it chose the targets “accurately,” identifying Paris as the “capital of prostitution” and France, because of its … Continued

What makes killing Christians appealing?

(Originally published at www.religionnews.com on May 26, 2017) (RNS) I was born in Egypt, and my heart is broken by this latest massacre of Coptic Christians who were headed to a monastery in the southern Minya province. I could not bear exploring horrific photos of innocent young girls and boys butchered. They were supposed to be worshipping and … Continued

Why Do They Shout “Allahu Akbar”?

(Originally published at www.firstthings.com on September 20, 2016) On Saturday, September 17, Dahir A. Adan, an Islamic State “solider,” according to an ISIS media outlet, stabbed nine people in a Minnesota mall. Adan shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he attacked.” In June, ISIS supporter Omar Mateen shouted “Allah Akbar” during his shooting … Continued

Muslim Scholars vs. ISIS

(Originally published at www.firstthings.com on October 3, 2014) On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, “More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the ‘fighters and followers’ of the Islamic State.” The signees represent the Sunni branch of Islam (with the exception of one Sufi person), and include important Muslim figures … Continued

Eastern Christmas and Egypt’s President

(Originally published at www.firstthings.com on January 12, 2016) Egypt’s Coptic Christians follow the Julian calendar in celebrating Christmas on January 7th of each year. For the second consecutive year, Egyptian president Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi surprised them with an exceptionally kind gesture, once again personally attending their Coptic Christmas Eve mass and offering them his well-wishes. He is … Continued

Did Muhammad Perform Miracles?

(Originally published at www.firstthings.com) On Thursday, August 27, 2015, the first part of Iran’s most expensive movie trilogy, “Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah,” opened nationwide in Iran. It took more than eighty months for this movie to be completed. Its primary goal, according to its director Majid Majidi, “is to reclaim the rightful image of … Continued

The Five Pillars of the Insiders: A Collective Response to Understanding Insider Movements

Eight Southern Baptist missiologists (six in the United States and two elsewhere) join forces here to respond briefly to a new volume on Insider Movements (IMs).[1] It is an initiative most of us had no intention of taking as little as three months ago, but feel compelled to take now. Quite frankly, some of us … Continued

Understanding Insider Movements

(Originally published at www.thegospelcoalition.org on December 18, 2015) Given recent world events involving Islam, it appears Harley Talman and John Jay Travis (pen names) couldn’t have released their newest contribution at a better time. The collection of 64 (mostly) previously published articles is titled Understanding Insider Movements: Disciples of Jesus within Diverse Religious Communities. An “insider,” according to the book, … Continued

Why Did the ISIS Caliph Rape American Kayla Mueller?

(originally published at First Things on August 17, 2015) During her imprisonment, Kayla Mueller, 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker, was repeatedly raped by the leader of ISIS, Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, before she was killed last February. The news of al-Baghdadi’s serial assault habits came out last week. ISIS’s al-Baghdadi operates within a shame/honor paradigm, like most of … Continued

The Failures of Works-Righteousness

One of my frustrations when sharing Christ with Muslims was that I had a hard time getting them to disagree with me that only God’s grace could save us. When I would say something like, “We can only be reconciled to God by his grace,” they would say, “That’s exactly what we believe!” But the reality of … Continued