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“Christian famous” pastor quits his church, moves to Asia
December 22nd, 2010
06:00 AM ET

“Christian famous” pastor quits his church, moves to Asia

By, Eric Marrapodi, CNN

He pastored a 4,000-member church in California. He was a sought-after speaker at major conferences, wrote two best-sellers and launched a DVD teaching series.

Then he abruptly resigned and left the country.

But in Francis Chan’s unexpected journey there apparently is no hidden scandal, no money trail, and no ‘other’ woman.

“I just want to disappear for a while,” he said in late September as he prepared to leave Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California for an undisclosed location in Asia.

Before selling his house and packing up his wife and three children, Chan was becoming “Christian famous” in Evangelical circles.

“Even in my own church I heard the words, ‘Francis Chan’ more than I heard the words, ‘Holy Spirit’,” he said.

That was a big part of the reason he walked away at the peak of his professional career.

“I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”

He quotes the apostle Paul, who told his followers “I didn’t die for you.”

In his world of big conference crowds, multiple services each week, and instant access to social media, the notion of pastoral care had begun to change. His fame was straining his work as a pastor.

“When there is a large constituency, there’s a lot of voices,” he said. “It makes you arrogant or it makes you want to shoot yourself. When thousands of people tell you what they think, how can I be quick to listen, like the Bible says? I don’t want to be a jerk and tune everyone out. At the same time you, can’t love every single person and answer them.”

So after lots of prayer and soul searching, Chan decided it was best to leave the church, country, and Internet behind to focus on serving others one-on-one.

Chan’s rise in popularity began with the founding of Cornerstone Community Church in 1994. Like many independent churches in the United States, Cornerstone is not tied to a larger denomination. Chan reluctantly calls it an Evangelical church, but says “titles on churches don’t always match up. You walk in with assumptions.”

His first book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, has hit the New York Times best seller list since he left for Asia. His second, The Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, offers a glimpse into why he left.

“I was giving a lot of people just five minutes here and five minutes there,” he said in an interview, describing the book’s central theme. “I need to get better at just saying no to people and no to the crowds...Jesus worked a lot with individuals and his twelve [disciples].”

Two DVDs in his four-part teaching series, Basic, have been released, with more to come in March.

In Basic: Fear God, Chan says he doesn’t think we fear God enough. He appears starkly lit in front of a black backdrop to hammer home his metaphor, in which a woman tied to a bed watches as water slowly fills the bedroom. The water level rises until she is completely submersed and struggling to get free. Only then does panic set in.

If we were to meet God in person, Chan said, “I think the first thing He would say is you don’t take me seriously. You have no idea how to fear me.”

It is just one way Christians miss the point of the messages in the Bible, he said, a notion he aims to correct in the DVD series.

The New Testament, for instance, calls for a much greater commitment than many churches reveal when wooing new converts, he said. “We almost simplify it. We won’t tell people how painful it could be. It’s almost like joining the Marines and saying how fun it will be. Yet Jesus says, I’m worth it, I promise you I’m worth it.”

Chan was not drawing a salary at Cornerstone before he left, and never made more than $36,000 a year. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing things just because I was paid to,” he said. Mike Steinwender, the current administrative pastor from the church, told CNN in an email that “There were/are no budget or financial health issues that led to Mr. Chan leaving.”

Chan’s departure from his 9 to 5 gig to pursue his passion is something many cubicle dwellers can only dream about. But not every pastor agrees with his choice.

Joshua Harris is the Senior Pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He skyrocketed to fame in Christian circles with his book in the 1990’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which influenced many young Christians to do the same.

Harris and Chan have spoken at length about Chan’s decision, and Harris knows first hand about the rigors of the being “Christian famous.”

“Gifted people often become more the focus than the gospel,” Harris said. “But you can’t build a church around a personality. You get up and you preach a sermon and people walk away thinking what a great guy - and that’s a failure as a pastor. Our job is to proclaim Christ.

He said he understood Chan felt God was leading him in a new direction. But he hopes there won’t be an exodus of pastors from their pulpits. “There’s a tendency to idolize one person’s choices. We have to say, ‘you know what, there are a lot of ways to see what faithfulness [to God’s calling] looks like.’ Not every pastor of a big church should leave.”

Chan has been traveling across Asia, according to his website, where his wife Lisa has posted periodic updates.

She wrote that the family has been to India and Thailand, visiting small churches and missionaries. In an October update, she mentioned Chan was preaching again: “Francis spoke a great message of encouragement to this little body of Christ hidden away in a slum in India . 100 years from now we will be worshiping together. We will look each other in the eye and KNOW that it was worth it."

Chan plans to return to the states in January. He is already scheduled to appear at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, which has drawn a crowd of more than 20,000 in the past, and do a stint in the chapel at the NBA All-Star game in February.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Books • California • Christianity • India • Pastors • United States

soundoff (343 Responses)
  1. Christian

    After reading some of the comments here, this quote came to mind. "The gates of hell are locked from the inside"- CS Lewis...... Why would anyone who does not want to live with the God of our universe as the center of this life...want to live with Him in the next?

    December 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  2. HawaiiGal

    Did anyone else notice that he hasn't actually given it all up? Like a professor, he just took a sabbatical. He is already booked to give a sermon to a venue that supports 20,000 and will be appearing at an NBA game. That it is huge news that a pastor took time off and that he did not earn a big salary certainly implies that other pastors of big churches are taking big salaries. That he could have but didn't certainly is admirable. But before he rises to the ranks of Sister Teresa, note that he is returning in January. While I think it is great that he is living his passion, it is not lost on me that it was just for a short break and that he is returning next month.

    December 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  3. duffey

    Finally a religious leader that understands the fundemental componet of his job! I wish him and his ministry the best.

    December 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  4. Muneef

    It is a part of the final stages of the plan?

    http://www.whale.to/b/jones3.html

    December 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  5. Muneef

    Al-Shuara sura 26:
    And re-he-ar-se to them (something of) Abraham's story. (69) Behold, he said to his father and his people: "What worship ye?" (70) They said: "We worship idols, and we remain constantly in attendance on them." (71) He said: "Do they listen to you when ye call (on them) (72) "Or do you good or harm?" (73) They said: "Nay, but we found our fathers doing thus (what we do)." (74) He said: "Do ye then see whom ye have been worshipping― (75) "Ye and your fathers before you?― (76) "For they are enemies to me; not so the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds; (77) "Who created me, and it is He Who guides me; (78) "Who gives me food and drink (79) "And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; (80) "Who will cause me to die, and then to live (again); (81) "And Who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment… (82) O my Lord! Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous; (83) "Grant me honourable mention on the tongue of truth among the latest (generations); (84) "Make me one of the inheritors of the Garden of Bliss; (85) "Forgive my father, for that he is among those astray; (86) "And let me not be in disgrace on the Day when (men) will be raised up― (87) The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, (88) "But only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart; (89)

    Al-Araf sura 07:
    The companions of the fire will call the companions of the garden; "pour down to us water or anything that Allah doth provide for your sustenance." They will say: "Both these things hath Allah forbidden to those who rejected Him.― (50) "Such as took their religion to be mere amusement and play and were deceived by the life of the world." That day shall We forget them as they forgot the meeting of this day of theirs, and as they were wont to reject Our signs. (51) For We had certainly sent unto them a Book, based on knowledge, which We explained in detail― a guide and a mercy to all who believe. (52) Do they just wait for the final fulfilment, of the event? On the day the event is finally fulfilled those who disregarded it before will say: "The Messengers of our Lord did indeed bring true (tidings). Have we no intercessors now to intercede on our behalf? Or could we be sent back? Then should we behave differently from our behaviour in the past." In fact they will have lost their souls, and the things they invented will leave them in the lurch. (53)Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, then He established Himself on the Throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil O'er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the cherisher and sustainer of the Worlds! (54) Call on your Lord with hu-mi-lity and in private: for Allah loveth not those who t-res-pass beyond bounds. (55) Do no mis-chief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good. (56) It is He who sendeth the winds like heralds of glad tidings going before His Mercy: when they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, We drive them to a land that is dead, make rain to descend thereon, and produce every kind of harvest therewith: thus shall We raise up the dead: perchance ye may remember. (57) From the land that is clean and good, by the will of its Cherisher, springs up produce, (rich) after its kind: but from the land that is bad, spring up nothing but that which is n-igg-ardly: thus do We explain the signs by various (symbols) to those who are grateful. (58)

    December 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  6. SHADOWCASTER

    I DO NOT KNOW THIS PERSON – NOR DO I KNOW OF HIS WORKS – BUT IN AGREEMENT – I STAND WITH HIM IN REGAURDS TO PEOPLE NOT PUTTING GOD IN THE RIGHT HONOR AND RESPECT POSITION HE DESERVES IN THERE LIVES -"WE DO NOT FEAR GOD CORRECTLY " FEAR MEANING IN OLDE ENGLISH -RESPECT AND HONOR AND BE OBLIGING AND OBEDIANT ....ITS A SAD DAY WHEN MOST ALL THAT CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIAN AND REPRESENT HIM -ARE ONLY READERS OF THE WORD OR EVEN SAYERS OF THE WORD AND NOT DOERS OF IT .-TO ANY ATHIEST -HUMANIST EVEN SATAN WORSHIPPER –MY ONLY HOPE AND PRAYER FOR YOU IS THAT YOU COULD KNOW THAT GOD/THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS SON JESUS -TRULY IS THERE AND TRULY DOES CARE AND THAT YOU COULD SEE AND FEEL HIS PRESENCE IN YOUR LIVES ONCE -ONCE YOU WOULD I COULD GAURENTEE YOU WOULD NEVER GO BACK TO ANYTHING ELSE – ITS SO SAD THAT THOSE WHO UNDENYABLY HAVE SEEN THE WORKS OF GOD IN THERE LIVES DO NOT REPRESENT HIM CORRECTLY -AND AT TIMES DRIVE OTHERS SUCH AS YOUR CROWD AWAY -,BUT THIS IS A GIFT ONLY GOD CAN SHOW YOU -SO ITS UP TO YOU IF YOU DESIRE ASK HIM TO GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR LIFE .-GOD DOES NOT LIKE RELIGION – HE WOULD RATHER HAVE A DECENT RELATIONSHIP -WITH THOSE WHO SEEK HIM -BUT QUESTION -"WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU ASK HIM INTO YOUR LIFE -AND HE SHOWED UP -AND YOU SEEN THINGS HAPPEN THAT DIRECTLY EFFECT YOU THAT ONLY HE COULD HAVE DONE ????IVE HAD THIS EXPERIENCE MANY TIMES – KNOWING NOW THAT GOD IS ALLWAYS THERE AND THAT FOR ME HE ALLWAYS CARES – IN THIS HE SHOWS LOVE ALLWAYS -EVEN TOUGH LOVE AT TIMES –IM A LOSY CHRISTIAN – THIS ILL ADMIT – BUT I CANT DENY THAT GOD IS A GOOD HONNORABLE AND LORD DESERVING OF RESPECT OF THE HIGHEST ORDER -BECAUSE OF THE THINGS THAT I KNOW HE HAS "AFFECTED " IN MY LIFE OUT OF HIS CARE AND LOVE FOR ME "-IN SPIRIT–BUT I COULD SPEAK OF GOD ALL DAY LONG AND UNLESS YOU SEE IT AND FEEL IT /HIS PRESENCE -YOULL NEVER KNOW THIS -–PROBLEM MANY NEVER UNDERSTAND ABOUT GOD -IS WITH GOD THE PRICE OF "THIS RIDE " IS THAT YOU MUST BELIEVE IN GOD /HIS SON JESUS AND HIS HOLY SIPIRIT IN ORDER TO SEE THESE -FAR OUT AND STRANGE HAPPENINGS -IN THERE OWN PERSONAL LIVES "--SO YOU MUST HAVE FAITH IN HIM TO SEE HIM -OTHERS IN THE PAST FAILED THIS – LIKE THE RELIGIOUS PRIESTS OF JUDIASIM BACK IN THE CRUSIFIXION DAYS -THEY DEMANDED – IF HE WERE THE SON OF GOD /JESUS -THAT HE HEAL HIMSELF AND COME DOWN OFF THE CROSS AND SHOW THAT HE WAS THE SON OF GOD -THE DEVIL DEMANDED HE DO THINGS TO -IF HE WERE THE SON OF GOD -WELL WITH GOD YOU MUST BELIEVE IN ORDER TO SEE – NOT SEE FIRST , IN ORDER TO BELIEVE -I CHALLENGE EVERYONE – GIVE GOD AND HONEST CHANCE -A REAL CHANCE – READ THE BIBLE ONE TIME COVER TO COVER -OR LISTEN TO IT ON CD -AND READ OR HEAR THE WHOLE THING ONE TIME – AND THEN DECIDE – TO EITHER ASK GOD INTO YOUR OWN LIFE /HEART OR NOT --PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH GOD IN MY LIFE SINCE 7 YEARS AGO -OVER AT LEAST 300 THINGS I KNOW HE WAS INVOLVED IN -SO EVEN IF I HATED GOD, WICH I DO NOT -I CANNOT DENY HE, IN SPIRIT -TIMES PLACES PEOPLE AND THINGS HAS ALLWAYS HELPED ME AND NEVER FORSAKED ME – HE BEING INVISABLE AND IN SPIRIT CANNOT BE SEEN HERD -FELT -TOUCHED -SMELLED BY MOST -YET WHEN YOU ASK HIM FOR HELP -IF HE ANSWERS ACTIONS HAPPENING ARROUND YO YOU DO NOT CONTROL SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS -IVE SEEN HIM SHOW HES ALLWAYS THERE AND ALLWAYS CARES -MANY TIMES IN MY PAST THIS WAY -IN THINGS I COULD NOT CONTROL MYSELF -SO WORD OF ADVISE – SINCE MANY REGULAR SO CALLED CHRISTIANS ARE BLOWING IT THESE DAYS -MAYBE YOU OTHER TYPES OF GUYS -IF YOU CHOSE TO CONVERT – WOULD DO A BETTER JOB -AS NEW CHRISTIANS -:} REGAURDLESS OF WHO YOU -KNOW THAT JESUS LOVES EVERYONE – JUST DOESNT LIKE WHAT THEY DO AT TIMES AND IS SOMETIMES FORCED TO JUDGE BY SITUATIONS – BUT – HE DEFINES WAT LOVE IS AND TRUTH AND WHAT GOOD IS AND WHAT CARE IS AND JUSTICE IS -AND WHAT A TRUE FRIEND IS THAT WILL DO ANYTHING FOR US-HE HAS PROVEN THIS ON THE CROSS ALL READY – BUT HE HASNT STOPPED THERE ,HES WORSE THAN THE ENERGIZER BUNNY FOR BEING A WORK AHOLIC AND HELPING THOISE THAT NEED HIM THAT HAVE NEEDS THAT CALL UPON HIM FOR HELP . –I TEND TO ENJOY ASKING HIM THINGS -IN NEED TO SEE THE CRAZY WAYS HE MAKES THINGS HAPPEN – THAT I DO NOT CONTROL -"I LIKE PUZZLES -AND HE"LL KEEP YA GUESSING -FOREVER "BUT ITS PART OF THE TRUST /LOYALTY AND PATIENCE AND FAITH THING – "-SO I LEAVE WITH THIS – SINCE I WAS MADE AWARE OF GODS EXISTANCE IN M LIFE -YES IVE HAD MORE PROBLEMS AT TIMES LESS AT OTHERS -BUT I HAVE NO REGRETS – -GOD DESEVERS HONNOR AND RESPECT -HE DOES NOT NEED IT -AND UNTILL YOU SEE WHAT ITS LIKE – "KNOWING WITHOUT A DOUBT GOD IS WORKING IN YOUR LIFE"GOOD OR BAD -EVEN IN TOUGH LOVE TO WORK THE BUGS OUT "YOU ALLWAYS END UP BETTER AND NOT WORSE IF YOU FOLLOW HIM – SOME SAY THE MARTYRS ARE KILLED BECAUSE OF THERE FAITH AND THEY DIED MISERABLE TORURED DEATHS – WELL YES THATS TRUE ALLONG WITH MANY WHO ARE SUFFEREING LOSS OF HEALTH – FINANCES -FAMILY – WHATEVER – BUT REMEMBER – NO ONE THAT HAS EVER SEEN GODS WORKS – WILL DENY HIS EXISTANCE -AND ONCE HE SHOWS HIMSELF IN ACTION TO PEOPLE -WHERE THEY KNOW ITS HIM BEING THERE AND CARING FOR THEM -THAT MUST MEAN THAT GOD HAS NOT LIED AND THAT HIS WORD IS TRUE AND THAT GOD KEEPS HIS WORD SO HEAVEN DOES AWAIT AND SO DOES GOD AWAIT THEM THERE -WHEN THEY ARE CALLED HOME ONE DAY NO MATTER HOW BAD THINGS ARE – THE FUTURE IS ALLWAYS BRIGHT SO THEY LOOK FORWARD TO IT .-PLEASE TAKE CARE – YOU WANT GOD YOU GOTTA ASK GOD PERSONALLY TO SHOW UP AND BELIVE WHAT HE HAS SAID IN ORDER TO SEE HIM IN YOUR LIFE -HE DOES NOT FORCE HIMSELF UPON ANYONE – THIS FRIENDSHIP – RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE TO ASK FOR AND BELIEVE IT IS IN ORDER FOR IT TO BE AND TO SEE -THEN ITS UP TO OU AFTER GOD DOES SHOW UP TO MAINTAIN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM -AND ESS ONCE YOU KNOW HES THERE AND CARES – YOU DO NOT EVER WHAT TO DO THINGS TO WHERE HE LEAVES YOU – BECAUSE YOU WILL FEEL A SERIOUS LOSS -AND BE BEGGING HIM BACK – IVE BEEN THROUGH THIS CYCLE MANY TIMES -I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN GOD – NOW I HAVE NO DOUBT HE TRULY IS THERE AND TRULY CARES-IVE SEEN HIS WORKS -THIS IS MY TESTIMONY AND IN HIS WORKS HIS CHARACTER AND HIS LOVE FOR ME -THATS HOW AN INVISABLE GOD REVEALS HIMSELF- BUT ITS UP TO THE NONBELIEVER TO ASK FOIR THEMSELVES THESE THINGS -NO ONE CAN DO THIS FOR YOU -BECAUSE ITS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD /PERSONAL ONE FOR YOUR PERSONAL LIFE - GOD IS VERY PERSONAL - TAKE CARE EVERYONE – PLEASE READ THE BIBLE SO YOU NOW HOW GOD IS ABOUT THINGS AND – GIVE GOD AN HONNEST ,REAL CHANCE ASK HIM IN YOUR LIVES HEARTS IN FAITH -THEN GET READY FOR SOME REALLY STRANGE THINGS TO START -HAPPENING – SOME GOOD SOME NOT – BUT THINGS WILL HAPPEN -JUST TAKES FAITH -FAITH MOVES MOUNTAINS AND AT TIMES MAKES MOUNTAINS SHRINK TO MOLEHILLS :} MAY GOD BLESS EVERYONE AND HELP EVERYONE IN THESE ROUGH DAYS MAY HE HELP THEM IN MANY WAYS – I ASK THIS IN JESUS "HOLY AND HIGHLY RESPECTED AND HONORABLE AND EXAULTED AND BLESSED AND FEARED " NAME amen -merry christmass and happy new year everyone -and -hey socalled christians -act right -your given god and the rest of us a bad name "AGAIN " -TAKE CARE –PEACE

    December 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  7. Muneef

    As seems US and Allies have failed to conquer the world as atheists or say seculars although they in every latest wars they were distributing bibles but still they had no morals of their bible as we seen what has been done in the Iraqi prison Abu Gureeb as an example... As since their warriors were not determent or courageous as religious warriors so they thought of changing as a Chameleon to change color and become as good as Crusaders by becoming religious...
    The Vatican and such as Christian Famous are to spread in to the east to recruit warriors as believers for the upcoming religious wars among citizens of one nation and among nations... The fights in Gose, Nigeria is just a start to segregate nations and same being now followed by separating Sudan North and South for the future to come having them to fight against each other as Muslims and Christians.... Minorities of Christians in the East are being supported to rebel against their own to weaken countries frontiers for US and Allies to come with gates open or an excuse to break out fights and wars by the excuse of those minorities?? A secular Allies for their advantage declare wars and fight Muslims in the name of Christianity although they have long left back and rejected it calling it fairytales?!....Dirty Politics over and over again.
    Only because irresponsible acts like these they had created hatred towards Westerns at US or Allies and now the same they will generate for Christians living among other nations and beliefs as a repeated story of the Jews and Israel...

    December 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  8. Raven

    CNN got it wrong when they said he was quitting his "Professional Career"
    Being a pastor is a calling from God, not a "Professional Career"

    December 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  9. Muneef

    A New Year Gained or a New Year Lost ?
    by Asma bint Shameem
     http://www.alhudapk.com/reading-material/articles/new%20year.pdf

    December 26, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  10. Muneef

    Ash-Shura sura 42:
    Ha Mim; (1) `Ain Sin Qaf. (2) Thus doth (He) send Inspiration to thee as (He did) to those before thee― Allah, Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom. (3) To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: and He is Most High, Most Great. (4) The heavens are almost rent asunder from above them (by His Glory): and the angels celebrate the Praises of their Lord, and pray for forgiveness for (all) beings on earth: behold! Verily Allah is He, the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (5) And those who take as protectors others besides Him― Allah doth watch over them; and thou art not the disposer of their affairs. (6) Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur'an: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her― and warn (them) of the Day of Assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire. (7) If Allah had so willed, He could have made them a single people; but He admits whom He will to His Mercy; and the wrongdoers will have no protector nor helper. (8) What! Have they taken (for worship) protectors besides Him? But it is Allah He is the Protector and it is He Who gives life to the dead: it is He Who has power over all things. (9) Whatever it be wherein ye differ, the decision thereof is with Allah: Such is Allah my Lord: in Him I trust, and to Him I turn. (10) (He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (11) To Him belongs the keys of the heavens and the earth: he enlarges and restricts the Sustenance to whom He will: for He knows full well all things. (12).

    December 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  11. Dianosa

    HE is legit! That is why they would have made him call the quits.

    There is no place for legit people in the church. Church is a business and the pastors are professionals.

    December 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  12. Muneef

    Fatir sura 35:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Praise be to Allah Who created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels Messengers with wings― two, or three, or four (Pairs): He adds to Creation as He pleases: for Allah has power over all things. (1) What Allah out of His Mercy doth bestow on mankind there is none can withhold: what He doth withhold there is none can grant apart from Him: and He is the Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom. (2) O men! call to mind the grace of Allah unto you! Is there a Creator, other than Allah, to give you Sustenance from heaven or earth? There is no god but He: how then are ye deluded away from the Truth? (3) And if they reject thee, so were messengers rejected before thee: to Allah go back for decision all affairs. (4) O men! certainly the promise of Allah is true, Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah. (5) Verily Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his adherents, that they may become Companions of the Blazing Fire. (6).

    Az-Zumar sura 39:
    Say: "O Allah! Creator of the heavens and the earth! Knower of all that is hidden and open! It is Thou that wilt judge between Thy Servants in those matters about which they have differed." (46) Even if the wrongdoers had all that there is on earth, and as much more, (in vain) would they offer it for ransom from the pain of the Penalty on the Day of Judgement: but something will confront them from Allah, which they could never have counted upon! (47) For the evils of their Deeds will confront them, and they will be (completely) encircled by that which they used to mock at! (48) Now, when trouble touches man, he cries to Us; but when We bestow a favour upon him as from Ourselves, he says "This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge (I have)!" Nay but this is but a trial but most of them understand not! (49) Thus did the (generations) before them say! But all that they did was of no profit to them. (50) Nay, the evil results of their deeds overtook them. And the wrongdoers of this (generation)― the evil results of their deeds will soon overtake them (too), and they will never be able to frustrate (Our Plan)! (51) Know they not that Allah enlarges the provision or restricts it for any He pleases? Verily in this are signs for those who believe! (52).

    December 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  13. Muneef

    Ibrahim sura 14:
    Their messengers said: "Is there a doubt about Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? It is He Who invites you, in order that He may forgive you your sins and give you respite for a term appointed!" They said: "Ah! ye are no more than human like ourselves! Ye wish to turn us away from the (gods) our fathers used to worship: then bring us some clear authority." (10) Their messengers said to them: "True, we are human like yourselves, but Allah doth grant His grace to such of His servants as He pleases. It is not for us to bring you an authority except as Allah permits. And on Allah let all men of faith put their trust. (11) "No reason have we why we should not put our trust on Allah. Indeed He has guided us to the Ways we (follow). We shall certainly bear with patience all the hurt you may cause us: for those who put their trust should put their trust on Allah." (12) And the Unbelievers said to their messengers: "Be sure we shall drive you out of our land, or ye shall return to our religion." But their Lord inspired (this Message) to them: "Verily We shall cause the wrongdoers to perish! (13) "And verily, We shall cause you to abide in the land, and succeed them. This for such as fear the time when they shall stand before My tribunal― such as fear the punishment denounced." (14) But they sought victory and decision (there and then), and frustration was the lot of every powerful obstinate transgressor. (15).

    December 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  14. Muneef

    Yusuf sura 12:
    "O my Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on me some power, and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams and events― O Thou Creator of the heavens and the earth! Thou art my Protector in this world and in the Hereafter Take thou my soul (at death) as one submitting to Thy Will (as a Muslim), and unite me with the righteous." (101) Such is one of the stories of what happened unseen, which We reveal by inspiration unto thee: nor wast thou (present) with them when they concerted their plans together in the process of weaving their plots. (102) Yet no faith will the greater part of mankind have, however ardently thou dost desire it. (103) And no reward dost thou ask of them for this: it is no less than a Message for all creatures. (104) And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn (their faces) away from them! (105) And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (others as partners) with Him! (106) Do they then feel secure from the coming against them of the covering veil of the wrath of Allah― Or of the coming against them of the (final) Hour all of a sudden while they perceive not? (107) Say thou: "This my way: I do invite unto Allah― on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes I and whoever follows me: Glory to Allah! and never will I join gods with Allah!" (108) Nor did We send before thee (as Messengers) any but men, whom We did inspire― (men) living in human habitations. Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them? But the home of the Hereafter is best, for those who do right. Will ye not then understand? (109) (Respite will be granted) until, when the messengers give up hope (of their people) and (come to ) think that they were treated as liars, there reaches them Our help. And those whom We will are delivered into safety. But never will be warded off Our punishment from those who are in sin. (110) There is, in their stories instruction for men endued with understanding. It is not a tale invented, but a confirmation of what went before it a detailed exposition of all things, and a Guide and a Mercy to any such as believe. (111).

    December 25, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  15. Muneef

    Al-Anaam sura03:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    "To Him belongeth all that dwelleth (or lurketh) in the Night and the Day. For He is the One Who heareth and knoweth all things. (13) Say: "Shall I take for my protector any other than Allah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth? And He is that feedeth but is not fed." Say: "Nay! but I am commanded to be the first of those who bow to Allah (in Islam), and be not thou of the company of those who join gods with Allah." (14) Say: "I would if I disobeyed my Lord, indeed have fear of the penalty of a Mighty Day. (15) "On that day, if the penalty is averted from any, it is due to Allah's Mercy; and that would be (Salvation), the obvious fulfillment of all desire. (16) "If Allah touch thee with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touch thee with happiness, He hath power over all things. (17) "He is the Irresistible, (watching) from above over His worshippers; and He is the Wise acquainted with all things." (18) Say: "What thing is most weighty in evidence?" Say: "Allah is Witness between me and you: this Qur'an hath been revealed to me by inspiration That I may warn you and all whom it reaches. Can ye possibly bear witness that besides Allah there are other gods?" Say: "Nay! I cannot bear witness!" Say: "But in truth He is the One God and I truly am innocent of (your blasphemy of) joining others with Him. (19) Those to whom We have given the Book know this as they know their own sons. Those who have lost their own souls refuse therefore to believe. (20) Who doth more wrong than he who inventeth a lie against Allah or rejecteth His Signs? But verily the wrong-doers never shall prosper. (21).

    December 25, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  16. liz

    It seems folks we may have an actual man of God even an atheist like me must say "impressive".

    December 25, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  17. Muneef

    Al-E-Imran sura03:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful 
    This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto thee (O Prophet!) by inspiration; thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary; nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point). (44) Behold! the angels said "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah. (45) "He shall speak to the people in childhood And in maturity and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous." (46) She said: "O my Lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth; when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it `Be', and it is! (47) "And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel. (48) "And (appoint him) an Messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave; and I heal those born blind, and the lepers and I quicken the dead by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe. (49) "(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me, and to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me. (50) "It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a way that is straight." (51) When Jesus found unbelief on their part, he said: "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the Disciples: "We are Allah's helpers we believe in Allah and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims. (52) "Our Lord! we believe in what thou hast revealed, and we follow the Messenger; then write us down among those who bear witness." (53) And (then unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah. (54) Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject Faith, to the Day of Resurrection; then shall ye all return unto Me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute. (55).

    Al-E-Imran sura 03:
    "This is what We re-he-ar-se unto thee of the Signs and the Message of Wisdom." (58) This similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be" and he was. (59) The Truth (comes) from thy Lord alone; so be not of those who doubt. (60).

    An-Nisa sura 04:
    That they rejected Faith: that they ut-te-red against Mary a grave false charge. (156) That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";― but they killed him not, nor cr-uc-if-ied him, but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.― (157) Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (158).

    An-Nisa sura 04:
    O mankind! The Messenger hath come to you in truth from Allah: believe in him: it is best for you. But if ye reject Faith to Allah belongs all things in the heavens and on earth: and Allah is All-Knowing,All-Wise. (170) O people of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: glory be to him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. (171) Christ disdaineth not to serve and worship Allah, nor do the angels, those nearest (to Allah): those who disdain His worship and are arrogant― He will gather them all together unto Himself to (answer). (172).

    Al-Maeda sura05:
    One day will Allah gather the Messengers together, and ask: "What was the response ye received (from men to your teaching)? They will say: "We have no knowledge: it is Thou who knowest in full all that is hidden. (109) Then will Allah say: "O Jesus, the son of Mary! recount my favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel. And behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: `This is nothing but evident magic'. (110) "And behold! I inspired the Disciples to have faith in Me and Mine Messenger: they said `We have faith and do thou bear witness that we bow to Allah as Muslims'." (111) Behold! the Disciples said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah if ye have faith." (112) They said: "We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle. (113) Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! send us from heaven a Table set (with viands), that there may be for us― for the first and the last of us a solemn festival and a sign from Thee; and provide for our sustenance, for Thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs). (114) Allah said: "I will send it down unto you: but if any of you after that resisteth faith I will punish him with a penalty such as I have not inflicted on anyone among all the peoples. (115) And behold! Allah will say "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, `worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah"? He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. (116) "Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say: to wit, `Worship Allah, my Lord, and your Lord'; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me upThou wast the Watcher over them and Thou art a Witness to all things. (117) "If Thou dost punish them they are Thy servants: if Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power the Wise. (118).

    Maryam sura 19:
    Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. (16) She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. (17) She said: "I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah." (18) He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son." (19) She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?" (20) He said: "So (it will be): thy Lord saith `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': it is a matter (so) decreed." (21) So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. (22) And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): "Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!" (23) But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): "Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; (24) "And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. (25) "So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say `I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.' " (26).

    Az-Zukhruf sura 43:
    When Jesus came with Clear Signs, he said: "Now have I come to you with Wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me. (63) "For Allah; He is my Lord and your Lord: so worship ye Him: this is a Straight Way." (64) But sects from among themselves fell into disagreement: then woe to the wrongdoers, from the Penalty of a Grievous Day! (65).

    As-Saff sura 61:
    And remember Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah (sent) to you confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving glad Tidings of an Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad." But when he came to them with Clear Signs they said "This is evident sorcery!" (6) Who doth greater wrong than one who invents falsehood against Allah, even as he is being invited to Islam? And Allah guides not those who do wrong. (7) Their intention is to extinguish Allah's Light (by blowing) with their mouths: but Allah will complete (the revelation of) His Light, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). (8) It is He Who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, that he may proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it). (9).

    Al-Baqara sura 02:
    They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (to salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham is True, and he joined not gods with Allah." (135) Say ye: "We believe, in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham Isma`il Isaac Jacob and the Tribes and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to Allah (in Islam)." (136) So if they believe as ye believe they are indeed on the right path; but if they turn back, it is they who are in schism; but Allah will suffice thee as against them, and He is the All-Hearing the All- Knowing. (137) (Our religion is) the Baptism of Allah; and who can baptize better than Allah? and it is He whom we worship. (138) Say: Will ye dispute with us about Allah, seeing that He is our Lord and your Lord; that we are responsible for our doings and ye for yours; and that we are sincere (in our faith) in Him? (139) Or do ye say that Abraham Isma`il Isaac Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than Allah? Ah! who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from Allah? But Allah is not unmindful of what ye do! (140).

    Al-E-Imran sura 03:
    It is not (possible) that a man to whom is given the Book, and Wisdom, and the prophetic, office should say to people: "Be ye my worshippers rather than Allah's; on the contrary (he would say): "Be ye worshippers of Him (Who is truly the Cherisher of all) for ye have taught the Book and ye have studied it earnestly." (79) Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets for Lords and Patrons. What! Would he bid you to unbelief after ye have bowed your will (to Allah in Islam)? (80).

    December 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  18. steve

    to oh please

    There is no way to explain the human brain and the human eye or any of the other irreducably complex organisms right down to the single living cell without God. To beleive in the fairy tale of evolution would be completely irrational. However trying to find the real God in this conveluted age can be next to impossible without help. So here it is ... Find a bible (walmart has one if you don't) find the section labled John and read it.

    December 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  19. oh please

    god is a lie
    and if it WERE real who would worship a god? What LOGIC is there is worship? Its PRIMITIVE thinking not evolved advanced HUMAN thoughts. Gods are fake. Children believe in them the same as they do unicorns. Grow up and be an adult and realize god is a DISTRACTING LIE. Fools.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • Muneef

      Oh P.

      Yes agree with you all Gods and Sons are a big lie and fake to humanity and that the only True God is Allah the One and the Only....
      But since you have thought of a faith and it's holy scripture as fake or misleading then that does not give you the right to call fake with out reading or try to understand the message within? In such case you become fake for speaking or judging with out knowldge or true understanding...

      December 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  20. Muneef

    Think now the Daili-lama is becoming old in India so pastor maybe went to India to fish Buddhists in to Christianity??
    Well shouldn't he started with his country's atheists rather than going some where else? Or is he giving up on you people and decided that Indians are better believers than Americans? If it shows some thing it shows that religion is politics spreading wings to other continents towards making balance or creating future wars between faiths in India?!

    December 24, 2010 at 7:09 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.