Redefining Conversion

This is a reblog from my friend and colleague in the Utica Presbytery, Rev. Herb Swanson.  Herb is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lowville, NY.  He previously spent 25 years working in Thailand where he was fostering greater understanding and dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism.

Here is an excerpt:

That’s worth thinking about—being a follower of Jesus but not a Christian.  That’s what Paul was.  Peter and the other disciples all died before there was a Christian religion.  They followed Jesus while remaining devout, practicing Jews.  One of the things that seems to be happening in our increasingly secular society is that small groups of followers of Jesus are reinventing the church in ways that make more sense in the 21st century than do traditional churches.  Maybe something we should be aiming for is to be more Christ-like and less Christian.  Worth a thought.

Click here to read the full article on Herb’s blog…

Embracing Diversity In A ‘Multi-Faith World’

Brian McLaren. Image by Virgil Vaduva. Used with permission under GDFL. Retrieved from on September 16, 2012.

Reblogged from

Time magazine named author and pastor Brian McLaren one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

McLaren has written more than 20 books, and he is a principal figure in the Emerging Church, a Christian movement that rejects the organized and institutional church in favor of a more modern, accepting community.

McLaren’s new book is called Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World.

Click here to continue reading…

Seeds of Peace

The Achtiname (Charter of Privileges) of the Prophet Muhammad, given to the monks of St. Catherine's monastery.

Last Sunday, I preached against Islamophobia from the pulpit of Boonville Presbyterian Church.  As a supportive addendum to that message, I offer this post in hopes of fostering greater goodwill and understanding between Christians and Muslims.

The purpose of this post is to lead readers from all religions toward more peaceful coexistence.  If that’s not something you want, then don’t read or comment on this article.  All offensive comments will be deleted.  I’m telling you now so that you don’t take it personally when it happens. 

The following verses from the Qur’an and the English translation of the Achtiname of Muhammad were found in an article by Dr. Zakir Naik in the online magazine Islamic Voice.  You can visit their website at:

Passages from the Qur’an on violence and forced conversions:

  • “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error” [Al-Qur’an 2:256]
  • “Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” [Al-Qur’an 16:125]

The Achtiname (Charter of Privileges) is a document produced by the Prophet Muhammad himself for the monks of St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai.  The document provides a beautiful insight on the Prophet’s attitude toward Christians.  The document has been preserved by the monks for centuries and stands as a memorial to interfaith respect.

Charter of Privileges

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them.

Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.

Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.

The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.

No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).