Heritage and mission, Word and Spirit

Luke’s Gospel begins and ends in Jerusalem. His sequel, the Book of Acts, begins in Jerusalem but ends in Rome. Theologically, this is movement from heritage to mission: holding on to the heritage but moving forward into mission. In the same way, we need to be grounded in the Scriptures, so our action will be consistent with all that God has done before us, yet also moved by the Spirit, so we can reach those parts of humanity not yet reached.

Is it all right to call God Allah?

Some people today debate whether it is all right for Christians to call God “Allah.” Those within cultures that speak Arabic (or Hausa or other languages that use this title) have a right to discuss whether there might be inappropriate connotations in some of their contexts (or where it might be against the law). But from a purely language standpoint, nobody else should be debating it.
The English word “God” did not originate as a Christian title. Nor did the Greek word that we translate God, “theos”; that was used for pagan Greek deities long before the spread of monotheism in the Greek-speaking world. Canaanites called their chief god “El” and their gods “elohim” before the patriarchs could adopt these titles for the true supreme God. “Allah” in Arabic is related to the Hebrew term for God. It makes no more sense to prohibit Arabic-speaking Christians from using an Arabic term for God, understood in a Christian way, than to prohibit English-speaking Christians from using the term “God,” understood in a Christian way, even though we recognize that others could speak of other “gods” using the same English word, or that others who believe in one God might have a different understanding of this God. I am not entering into the debate here about what Muslims and Christians mean by God–there are some significant differences. But one either adapts existing language, which is usually how we translate, or uses a new loanword and explains it. (YHWH may be “untainted,” but even biblical terms for God such as Elohim and El and theos are not.)
In English we speak of Saturday without regard for it being named after the Roman divinity Saturn, or Sunday being named for the Sun (deity), or Thursday for Thor or the like. We are often very inconsistent in what we tolerate–usually tolerating more that is under our own nose than what is under someone else’s. What might be more fruitful is getting to better understand and communicate what God is like–getting to know His heart in Jesus Christ.

All about the African empire that the official in Acts 8:27 was from

Official from the African kingdom of Meroë–Acts 8:27. 6.5-minute lecture from Acts scholar Craig Keener. (Part of a larger segment.)

For 23 free lectures on Acts, see http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/DigitalCourses/00_DigitalBiblicalStudiesCourses.html#Acts_Keener. Craig’s Acts commentary treats the passage about this African official in vol. 2, pp. 1534-1596.

Exorcism stories

Although scholars from various disciplines and worldviews explain the experiences differently, there are many firsthand accounts of exorcism experiences around the world. This 10-minute video excerpts material from a larger discussion on spirit possession experiences reported around the world.

It comes from a larger series available for free at: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/DigitalCourses/00_DigitalBiblicalStudiesCourses.html#Matthew_Keener.