Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Absolutely No Apologies

For a number of years I have had the strong inclination that the 2008 presidential election would be a difficult, controversial, and telling contest.  The odd cornucopia of candidates within the Republican field, along with the disturbing options amongst the Democrats, promise to yield an interesting contest in the months to come.  With regard to the Republican camp, it has been my suspicion that there may be a sharp division within the party in view of the fact that there are a growing number of "Republicans" who are decidedly pro-choice and pro-homosexual.  It seems as though the historic ethical standards of the Republican party have been falling by the wayside, and little has been done to stem the tide.  Additionally, there has been a rise within the so-called "Christian Conservative" movement which seems to care less about the spiritual convictions of the candidates - just so long as they have a form of "morality" that at least looks Christian in some way.  However, I must say that what a man actually believes is crucial, for it informs us about his ultimate character; or as the Apostle John said:

1 John 3:10: 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God...

What has been disturbing to me, of late, is this apparent disregard of the simple truth that there are only two classes of people in this world:  the children of God, and the children of the Devil.  Minimizing or ignoring this truth does not make it go away, and it is simply a lie to say that there is some supposed third category of the "almost saved" or the "partially lost."  John's binary description of humanity is crucial, for it helps us to remember that salvation is not an evolutionary process (to borrow a term).  It is for this reason that I am in the habit of exhorting Christians to investigate the professions of faith given by anyone who names the name of Christ for the simple reason that the Bible makes a distinction between:

1.  The children of the Devil who do not make a pretense of faith in Christ and,

2.  The children of the Devil who do make a pretense of faith in Christ. 

In fact, those that do profess faith in Christ (falsely and deceptively) are to be treated in a special manner:

2 John 7-11: 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

"Those that go too far" as John says, are those who have passed beyond the bounds of orthodox Christianity and have thus falsified their profession of faith in Christ - these are the ones who are sinning against a greater light (2 Peter 2) such that "it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them" (2 Peter 2:21).  Those that blemish the name of the Lord in this way are given greater scrutiny and judgment, just as the incarnate Son of God did with the false religious leaders of His day. 

With this in mind, I wanted to point out some of the oddities that have been produced as a result of our having a Republican candidate who is a Mormon - Gov. Mitt Romney.  Many have come to his aid, arguing that his religious beliefs should in no way prevent Christians from voting for him.  His morality and religious ethics are often pointed out in order to prove that he isn't so different from those within the Christian community.  However, Romney has been quite evasive about his own beliefs.  When pressed about the distinctives of his Mormon beliefs, he has insisted that the particulars of the Mormon religion have nothing to do with the integrity of his bid to run for the office of President of the United States.  In fact, the defacto protocol has become to forsake any debate about one's religious belief as being off-limits, as if this had anything to do with the separation clause in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights (people seem to forget these words - "Congress shall make no law...prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]").  Prohibiting open debate about the "free exercise" of one's faith and religion is actually unconstitutional.  Sadly, this un-authorized amendment of silenced-religious-debate, has become the governing principle of the electoral process.

All of this leads me to point out a disturbing event that took place between Governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.  Huckabee had asked this question in a recent interview: 

“Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” 

For this question alone Romney responded on NBC's Today Show by saying:  

"...I think attacking someone's religion is really going too far. It's just not the American way, and I think people will reject that." 

The discerning reader and voter must ask this question:  "Is such a question as this really an 'attack' on Mormonism, such that the inquirer should apologize for it?" 

Answer:  NO!

Huckabee's question was not only a good question, but it is a very important one.  Despite the LDS's attempts to smoke-screen the issue, their own book - "Gospel Principles" tells the story of their insidious, non-Christian heresy:  

"We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, "Whom shall I send?" (Abraham 3:27). Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, "Here am I, send me" (Abraham 3:27).  Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give his life for us, and take upon himself our sins. He, like our Heavenly Father, wanted us to choose whether we would obey Heavenly Father's commandments. He knew we must be free to choose in order to prove ourselves worthy of exaltation. Jesus said, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2).  Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1). Satan wanted to force us all to do his will. Under his plan, we would not be allowed to choose. He would take away the freedom of choice that our Father had given us. Satan wanted to have all the honor for our salvation."   (LDS "Gospel Principles", Chapter 3).

Not only do the Mormons believe that Christ and Satan are brothers, but they teach a concept of universal brotherhood that yields several forms of heresy:

1. Their Notion of Universal Fatherhood:  Their false teaching concerning universal Fatherhood leads them to deny the uniqueness of Sonship as possessed by the Son of God alone:  ""We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all...That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children" (Kim Farah, LDS spokeswoman). 

2.  Their Notion of the Son's Inferiority:  They deny the essential equality of the Son with the Father by teaching that His Sonship was the result of his incarnation, in contradiction to the doctrine of eternal Sonship as reveled in John 1:18.   Kim Farah, LDS spokeswoman, continues:  "God is the father of all...that means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children...Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind."   

3.  Their Notion that the Son is a Created Being:  In consequence to the teaching mentioned above, we see that they make Lucifer "a son of God" on a par with the Son of God, resultantly equating the Lord with the created Angels.  Such a correlation as this reduces the Son of God to that of a created being (Hebrews 1).   

It would seem to me that a Christian should be aware of the fact that there are candidates who make a pretense of faith in Christ, and yet their true religious beliefs amount to nothing less than open blasphemy against Jesus Christ.  Ultimately, Mr. Huckabee's question about the Mormon religion was an opportunity to speak of Christ.  I do believe that there is something far more important than a presidential election here - it is the truthful and open proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He is our true hope - not the next president of the United States.  Thus, I must ask:  Mr. Huckabee, how could you possibly apologize for a perfectly legitimate question?

 

Especially after you said this:

Every man has an epistemology - even the atheist.  Thus, I agree that one's "faith" is important, such that we ought to know what that faith is, and how it will impact the one who serves in the highest office in this land.  What is at stake is much more than the future destiny of this temporal nation - what we must guard the most is our present representation and proclamation of our eternal Lord.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Indeed, Has Paul Really Said?

The book, "Indeed, has Paul Really Said?" will be offered in print form very soon.  In the meantime, you can access a summary of this work in two forms:  video and posts here at The Armoury:

VIDEO:

Part I:

 

POSTS @ The Armoury:

Introduction 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another Sign of the Times

Newsweek has a report called "So Long, Gideons" which confirms what most of us have known for some time - America's culture is clearly a post-Christian one.  Many hotels are discarding their Bibles and replacing them with the things that reflect our shallow and promiscuous society: 

Edgier chains like the W provide "intimacy kits" with condoms in the minibar, while New York's Mercer Hotel supplies a free condom in each bathroom. Neither has Bibles. ...The new Indigo hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., a "branded boutique" launched by InterContinental, also has no Bibles, but it does offer a "One Night Stand" package for guests seeking VIP treatment at local nightclubs and late checkout for the hazy morning after.

Yet another reminder to pray for a great awakening in our land.  May God have mercy on America.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Hall of Fame vs. The Hall of Shame

 After spotlighting the shameful and obsequious responses of several "Christian" world leaders in my previous post, I thought it would be refreshing to offer you the thoughts of men like Spurgeon, Owen and Calvin on the subject of Christ & Islam:

C.H. Spurgeon:  "We anticipate the happy day when the whole world shall be converted to Christ; when the gods of the heathen shall be cast to the moles and the bats; when Romanism shall be exploded, and the crescent of Mohammed shall wane, never again to cast its baleful rays upon the nations; when kings shall bow down before the Prince of Peace, and all nations shall call their Redeemer blessed. Some despair of this. They look upon the world as a vessel breaking up and going to pieces, never to float again. We know that the world and all that is therein is one day to be burnt up, and afterwards we look for new heavens and for a new earth; but we cannot read our Bibles without the conviction that—  'Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does his successive journeys run.'  We are not discouraged by the length of his delays; we are not disheartened by the long period which he allots to the church in which to struggle with little success and much defeat. We believe that God will never suffer this world, which has once seen Christ’s blood shed upon it, to be always the devil’s stronghold. Christ came hither to deliver this world from the detested sway of the powers of darkness. What a shout shall that be when men and angels shall unite to cry “Hallelujah, hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!” What a satisfaction will it be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are they who trust themselves with this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with him, doing their little in his name and by his strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter wherein to lose is to lose and to be lost for ever. On whose side are you?"  Spurgeon, C. H. (1995). Morning and evening : Daily readings (December 24 PM). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

John Owen [The Glory of Christ (28)]: There are some who regard not these things at all, but rather despise them. They never entertain any serious thoughts of obtaining a view of the glory of God in Christ, — which is to be unbelievers. They look on him as a teacher that came forth from God to reveal his will, and to teach us his worship; and so indeed he was. But this they say was the sole use of his person in religion, — which is Mohammedanism. The manifestation of all the holy properties of the divine nature, with the representation of them unto angels above and the church in this world, as he is the image of the invisible God, in the constitution of his person and the discharge of his office, are things they regard not; yea, they despise and scorn what is professed concerning them: for pride and contempt of others were always the safest covert of ignorance; otherwise it would seem strange that men should openly boast of their own blindness. But these conceptions of men’s minds are influenced by that unbelief of his divine person which maketh havoc of Christianity at this day in the world. 

John Owen [The Sermons of John Owen (32), A Vision of Free Mercy]:  "Earthly supports and contentments are but a thousand failing wiles, which will all vanish in the time of need; the gospel, and Christ in the gospel, is that” unum magnum ,” that “ unum necessarium ,” which alone will stand us in any stead. In this, this island is as the mountain of the Lord, — exalted above the mountains of the earth. It is true, many other nations partake with us in the same blessing. Not to advance our own enjoyments in some particulars, — wherein perhaps we might justly do it, — but take all these nations with us, and what a molehill are we to the whole earth, overspread with Paganism, Mohammedanism, Antichristianism, with innumerable foolish heresies!"

John Calvin [Calvin's Commentaries, Book of Daniel, referring to Wintle's notes on Daniel 7:9 & 13]:  "The ten horns, he thinks, follow the fourth beast, existing during his; own age and leading on directly to Antichrist. He approves of Apollinarius, who interprets the 8th verse of Antichrist, and then explains, very copiously, his sentiments as to where he is to be found. “Very possibly,” he remarks, 'the Gregories, the Alexanders, and the Julii, did not displease God so strikingly while occupying the Papal chair: God only is their judge. But during this reign such innumerable enormities are committed as are worthy of the true Antichrist, and thus rebound upon their heads.' He then runs the parallel between Mohamed and the Papacy, and with great accuracy and spirit treats the false prophet as the Antichrist of the east, and the Roman Pontiff as corresponding to him throughout the west. The 'eyes of a man'” of Daniel 7:8, are explained of the bland and benignant appearance of this insinuating personage, while the blasphemies of his mouth are interpreted of the impious boastings of Mohamed and the Pope. The manner in which both Mohamed and the Papacy have 'changed the times,' is amply discussed, and the language of both Daniel and St. John made applicable to the modern history of the religions of the Crescent and the Cross throughout both Asia and Europe."

Thank God for the fearlessness of such men - men who were much more concerned about the glory of Christ than they were about their own safety and reputation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hall of Shame @ The Armoury

 Having recently offered my own response to A Common Word's "Open Letter" (a letter which encourages ecumenism between Muslims and Christians) I decided that it would be interesting to follow the responses of the main addressees.  As these responses come in, I will update this post with their content.  Up to this point, there have been really no surprises.  To the 138 Muslim scholars who clearly deny the Trinity, Christ's deity and crucifixion - the responses from "Christian" leaders couldn't be more positive and upbeat:

Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams):  "The Archbishop said that the letter’s emphasis on the fundamental importance of belief in the unity of God and love of neighbour is welcome. He said ”the letter rightly makes it clear that these are scriptural foundations equally for Jews, Christians, and for Muslims, and are the basis for justice and peace in the world. There is much here to study and to build on. The letter’s understanding of the unity of God provides an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to explore together their distinctive understandings and the ways in which these mould and shape our lives. The call to respect, peace and goodwill should now be taken up by Christians and Muslims at all levels and in all countries and I shall endeavour in this country and internationally, to do my part in working for the righteousness which this letter proclaims as our common goal." [more]

President, the World Lutheran Federation (Mark S. Hanson):  "The letter attests to both the love of God and our shared heritage of true hospitality to one’s neighbor. These commandments convey prophetic witness for mutual and vital co-existence that Christians and Muslims must embrace in one another. The letter further references how the commands to love God and neighbor are linked “between the Qur’an, the Torah and the New Testament.” I encourage everyone everywhere to read the beauty of these passages found in the sacred texts of the Abrahamic faiths, which signify God’s vision for how and whom we love in a broken world. This common vision for Jews, Muslims, and Christians signifies fidelity and fellowship in a world where conflict offends our common heritage as children of God." [more]

President, Baptist World Alliance (David Coffey): I am not surprised by the tone of the letter calling for respect, peace and goodwill, as during my recent visit to the King Abdullah II of Jordan (September 23, 2007) we discussed The Amman Message (2004) and the King informed me that the letter from the Muslim scholars would be issued in early October.  The Amman Message is a significant document and emphasises [sic] that the true message of Islam is built on the principles of tolerance, moderation, coexistence, openness, dialogue. It renounces violence and terrorism and stands up to the extremists’ false allegations and precepts.  The letter from the Muslim scholars builds on The Amman Message and it is impossible not to respond positively to its key message that differences should not cause hatred and strife between Christians and Muslims.

World Alliance of Reformed Churches (Pres. Clifton Kirkpatrick & Gen. Sec. Setri Nyomi):  Response to “A Common Word between us and you”.  It is with a sense of appreciation that we received the invitation from you with this title. Your call is very timely and we agree that people of faith have the capacity, and indeed have a responsibility to draw from the resources of our different faith traditions to work together for peace – in a world in which religious sentiments have been wrongly used to foment conflict and war.  We appreciate the passages you referred to in both the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an. The World Alliance of Reformed Churches welcomes this initiative. We do have an interest in furthering a dialogue based on our common commitments to love God and neighbour. [more]

President, Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (Jean-Louis Tauran):   "It is a very interesting letter," said the cardinal, indicating that it is "a new document because it comes from both Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims." It is also "a non-polemical document with numerous quotes from both the Old Testament and the New Testament," he added.  Cardinal Tauran then considered what religious leaders must do to prevent the fusion of violence and religion underlining the need "to invite the followers [of religions] to share the three convictions contained in the letter: that God is One; that God loves us and we must love Him; that God calls us to love our neighbor. I would say that this represents a very encouraging sign because it shows that good will and dialogue are capable of overcoming prejudices, This is a spiritual approach to inter-religious dialogue which I would call dialogue of spirituality. Muslims and Christians must respond to one question: in your life, is God truly One?"  [ref]

Now - compare the words of these men to the precious words of our Lord and Savior:

Matthew 10:32-33: 32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Selah...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beholding His Love

Let the reader know that I am not against choruses.  Even though I have made my fair share of 7-11 jokes about songs that have just seven words and are repeated eleven times, I must confess that there are many modern choruses that I do enjoy and sing because I believe that they honor the Lord in their content and form.  However, I must also say that too many of these songs are simply too weak and somehow fail to uphold that root idea of worship in the English (from the Old English - word-scipe [ship] - i.e., delivering to God words that are worthy of His glory).  I do find that many of these songs will often say too little in order to fulfill the Lord's standard whereby He seeks worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).  It's this content-of-truth issue that is often sacrificed at the altar of simplicity and brevity.  As I preach through the Scriptures, I often recall to mind those little ditties that are popular within the Christian community, but that fail to unpack the full context of their Scriptural message.  Some I will use, others I avoid; but as I am now preaching through 1 John 3:1, that familiar chorus was brought to my attention - you all know it I'm sure:

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

That we should be called the sons of God

That we should be called the sons of God

I like this song - who couldn't?  It's Scripture - 1 John 3:1.  Or I should say that it is 1 John 3:1a.  That "a" designation means that the song only covers the first part of 1 John 3:1 - and that is actually problematic because, biblically speaking, 1 John 3:1 is a kind of bridge which reveals to the reader the knowledge that leads to godliness.  His chain of thought actually begins in 1 John 2:29 (yes, you'll need to ignore the uninspired chapter divisions for a minute for this one).  His emphasis on knowledge should be quite clear within the overall progression:

1 John 2:29-3:10: 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. 1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

The reason why a chorus that is based upon 1 John 3:1a is weak, is because it is derived from too small a portion of Scripture - one that is utterly dependent upon a much broader argument.  In other words, our ability to behold the full measure of God's love is really dependent upon the surrounding argument concerning the Christian's true knowledge of Jesus Christ the Righteous:

1.  That Christ is Righteous (1 John 2:29-3:2a).  He makes us righteous through his righteous advocacy and propitiation on our behalf (1 John 2:1 - imputed righteousness); by virtue of our position as justified children of God, we also know that the Lord is faithful to persevere us by conforming our lives to the pattern of Christ's righteousness.  Clearly, our sonship has both a positional as well as practical reality to it! 

2.  That Christ is Faithful (1 John 3:2b-3). He will return to take us home one day, and when He does, there will no longer by any pain, no more sorrow and no more sin - because we will be like Him.  We know that this will happen because our Savior is faithful to accomplish all that He promises to do.

3.  That Christ's Work is Effectual (1 John 3:4-10): Unlike this faithless and sinful world, Christ demonstrates His righteousness and Lordship by accomplishing His mission of "appearing in order to take away sins..."    

Nested within this threefold lesson concerning the Christian's knowledge - the knowledge that leads to godliness - is this call to behold/see all of this as the very manifestation of God's own love for us.  Thus, singing 1 John 3:1a without the basis for this praise would be like me trying to compliment my wife to others without mentioning any of her qualities or attributes.  It would be a rather shallow moment to be sure. 

All this to say - songs like this need not be tossed into the 7-11 canister.  Many of these songs can be completed by adding the Scriptural thought which they began in the first place.  Granted, my version does not incorporate the full context that I supplied above - I'm still working on it.  But it does include more of the immediate context to 1 John 3:1a.  Here is a suggested revision/addition to the aforementioned chorus, additional verses in red: 

Our Father’s Love

1 John 2:29-3:2

If you do kno-w that He is right-eous, then you will know this:

If you do kno-w that He is right-eous, then you will know this:

That all wh-o practice righteousness

Have been be-gotten o-f Him

 

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

That we should be called the children of God

That we should be called the children of God

 

And for this reas-on we can see that the world does not know us

And for this reas-on we can see that the world does not know us

…Be-cause, the world did not know Him

…Be-cause, the world did not know Him

 

Beloved children, we do kno-w that He shall someday appear..

Beloved children, we do kno-w that He shall someday appear..

Then we will become ju-st like Him

Be-cause we shall see Him just as He is!

 

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us!

That we should be called the children of God

That we should be called the children of God

I have had some rather surprising reactions from people who don't think that these songs should be modified.  However, I would rather that they be more disturbed by the abbreviated treatment of God's Word that is so prevalent in our culture today.  God is worthy of our praise - much more than we can even realize.  We will do well if we praise Him with the depth and substance of His Word.  As some say, "Brevity is the soul of wit."  Yes, but when it comes to worshipping the God of the Universe, I find that such brevity is very rarely the soul of substance.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Open Response to an Open Letter

 

 

In my previous post I made mention of a letter which calls Muslims and Christians to unite under one ecumenical banner.  The letter in question was entitled "An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders."   The originators of this document (A Common Word, www.acommonword.com) addressed this work to several leaders representing Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist and Reformed communities.  Here is a summary of their group's intent: 

In A Common Word Between Us and You, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet r to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam. Like the Open Letter, the signatories to this message come from every denomination and school of thought in Islam. Every major Islamic country or region in the world is represented in this message, which is addressed to the leaders of all the world’s churches, and indeed to all Christians everywhere. 

The final form of the letter was presented at a conference in September 2007 held under the theme of “Love in the Quran,” by the Royal Academy of The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan, under the Patronage of H.M. King Abdullah II. Indeed, the most fundamental common ground between Islam and Christianity, and the best basis for future dialogue and understanding, is the love of God and the love of the neighbor.

Never before have Muslims delivered this kind of definitive consensus statement on Christianity. Rather than engage in polemic, the signatories have adopted the traditional and mainstream Islamic position of respecting the Christian scripture and calling Christians to be more, not less, faithful to it.

It is hoped that this document will provide a common constitution for the many worthy organizations and individuals who are carrying out interfaith dialogue all over the world. Often these groups are unaware of each other, and duplicate each other’s efforts. Not only can A Common Word Between Us give them a starting point for cooperation and worldwide co-ordination, but it does so on the most solid theological ground possible: the teachings of the Qu’ran and the Prophet r, and the commandments described by Jesus Christ u in the Bible. Thus despite their differences, Islam and Christianity not only share the same Divine Origin and the same Abrahamic heritage, but the same two greatest commandments.

At the end of the introductory address, their letter is extended to "Leaders of Christian Churches, everywhere..."  Based upon that final invitation, I will offer my own Open Response to their Open Letter.

***********************************************

Greetings in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: I would like to address your recent work entitled, "An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders."   In this letter you did the following:

1. You offered an invitation for Christians and Muslims to unite in order to establish peace.  It would appear that you are convinced that without such an ecumenical endeavor, hostility will only continue to ensue, or as you say: “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

2. You also made an appeal to unity via the first and second greatest commandments – loving the Lord God and loving one’s neighbor by citing Mark 12:29-31 as well as the Qu’ran: Surah 73:8. "But keep in remembrance the name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him whole-heartedly."

3. You then offered citations of the Qu’ran in order to prove your solidarity with the Bible’s teaching concerning Christ.

I would like to respond to these points, in reverse order, in order to address the subject of true peace. I too desire that we enjoy peace with one another, understanding that the Bible is very specific about how such peace can be achieved. In offering this response, I desire to be more, not less, faithful to the teachings of the Bible – just as you have advised Christians to do on your own website.

I. Point 3 [Christ in the Qu’ran]: Your citation of the Qu’ran, concerning Christ, must be addressed first. Here is what you supplied in your letter:

"Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not in the same way Christians do (but Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s  nature), but in the following way: '…. the Messiah Jesus son of Mary is a Messenger of God and His Word which he cast unto Mary and a Spirit from Him....' (Al-Nisa’, 4:171). We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslims not against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s words here."

I must respectfully ask you why it is that you omitted the rest of the Qu’ranic text.  The full text of this verse is very important:

Al-Nisa 4:171. O "People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not 'Trinity': desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs."

Your omission here is troubling and calls into question whether you are aware of the Qu’ran’s teachings, or worse, it calls into question the sincerity of your overall presentation.  You must certainly realize that in order to believe in the Jesus of the Qu'ran, one must deny His deity, and therefore the Trinity itself.  To do this would require apostasy from one of the most central truths in Christendom that has been upheld for over 2000 years.  Those who deny these truths are not Christians by definition.  Thus, your little caveat of "Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s  nature" is either disingenuous, or it may be the result of your misunderstanding of Christian doctrine itself.  While it would be more generous to believe the latter, I must say that your scholastic credentials leave you with no viable excuse.  As men who profess a knowledge of the Bible and who profess the right to teach it - you are indeed left without excuse. 

Additionally, you also failed to mention the Qu’ran’s teaching concerning the crucifixion.  This is yet another shocking omission:

Surah 4:157. "That they said (the Jews), 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah'—but they killed him not, nor crucified 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—"

In reality, your invitation to peace is actually a call to condemnation and judgment from God, for the Lord Jesus Christ is in fact God The Son (John 1:1-14) who became flesh (Phil. 2:1-8) and was crucified for the sins of many (Mark 10:45), being raised again on the third day as the exalted King of kings and Lord of Lords (1 Cor. 15:1-19). Alternatively, the Jesus of the Qu’ran is no more than a Gnostic myth. What you are asking Christians to do here is to deny the central tenants of true faith. While I am sure that there will be many apostates who will gladly toss their Bibles for your peace treaty, I can assure you, no real Christian will. 

II. Point 2 [The 1st & 2nd Greatest Commandments]: Your call to unity via the Bible is interesting, but it fails to unfold the important details of the very text that you cited in Mark 12:28-31. In that passage Christ was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5: 4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord [Yahweh] is our God, the Lord [Yahweh] is one! 5 “You shall love the Lord [Yahweh] your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

In this text it must be noted that each reference of “Lord” is actually God’s own covenant name [Yahweh], as in:

Exodus 3:15: 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord [Yahweh], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations."

This memorial name is the very name that was manifested by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:6, 8:58) and it defines the object of true worship. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the very God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who fulfilled the promise given to Abraham through the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Gen. 22, Gal. 3:16-29). Thus, when Abraham was thwarted from sacrificing the son of promise, Isaac, a sacrificial substitute was given in his son’s place. It was then that Abraham called that mount: Yahweh yera’h [Jehovah-Jireh] – The Lord will Provide. Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God, is the very fulfillment of that name - for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  Loving God can only be a good thing when one worships the true God and Savior. Without Christ, there can be no fulfillment of these commands of love.

 

III. Point 1 [Unity Between Christians & Muslims]: I end here with your initial statement:

“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

Certainly, you must know that this invitation to “peace” is distinctly one-sided. Christians are being called to believe in Islam’s falsified version of Christianity. The consequences for our failure to do so is even cited in your "Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders":

"Say (O Muslims): We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. / And if they believe in the like of that which ye believe, then are they rightly guided. But if they turn away, then are they in schism, and God will suffice thee against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower." (Al-Baqarah, 2:136-137)

When Christians call Muslims to convert – they are to be rejected, according to Al-Baqarah, 2:135 (a text which you failed to cite). However, according to verse 137 (above), those Christians who do not believe what Muslims believe, then God will “suffice” Muslims “against” them. The chilling point here is this: Christians are being given two options:

1. Deny Christ by believing in Islam’s false version of the Bible and thereby experience “peace” with Muslims.

2. Otherwise, hostility will continue because “Allah will suffice thee [Muslims] against them [Jews and Christians].”

The shorter version of this is: submit to Islam, or suffer ongoing hostility.

To the creators of this letter, I appeal to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that you repent of your sin and believe in Him, the Word, who was in the beginning; who was with God and who was God (John 1:1-2). He is the One through whom all things came into being (John 1:3) and it is He who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), dying on the cross for the sins of many. I pray that you would trust that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has indeed provided the promised Lamb who was sacrificed as the sinner’s substitute and that He was raised again in glory forevermore (Revelation 5:9-14). He is the Prince of Peace, therefore no one can confer peace upon Him.  Ultimately, He is our only hope for true peace with the true God (Isaiah 9:6-7, Romans 5:1, Eph. 2:14). Should you deny Him, our resolve (unlike Islam) will not be to afflict or persecute you for your unbelief. As messengers of the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 6:15) true Christians, by grace alone, will love even their enemies:

Matthew 5:43-45: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Clearly you know that the examples of Muhammad and Christ reveal an infinite polarity.  The Qu'ran is filled with justifications for subjugating, afflicting, and slaying those who are deemed as munafiq, kafir and fasiq (Suras 2:191; 216-217; 4:74-76, 89; 8:39; 9:5, , 12-13, 73, 123; 48:25-29; 66:9). Perhaps it your assumption that most non-Muslims will ignore the text of the Qu'ran itself, while accepting your partial citations and allegorical interpretations.  Sadly, many will.  However it is indisputable that the teachings of Muhammad and Christ yield no legitimate comparison, because the Savior calls His disciples to love those who are the enemies of the Gospel.  Even when Peter was about to take vengeance upon those who were arresting Christ, in the garden of Gethsemane, the Savior declared:

Matthew 26:52: 52 ...“Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword."

Unlike Muhammad, and his true followers today, the disciples of Christ are called to advance the Gospel of Peace by peaceful means.  We do not seek religious dominion through threats of hostility and actual bloodshed because we know that:

"...though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..."  2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Perhaps one of the most pragmatic differences between genuine Christianity and Islam is that the Christian message is never to be advanced by means of vengeance and hostility:

Romans 12:17-21: 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

As Christians, our hope is that you will turn to Christ, in faith, and experience true peace.  Your failure to do so will not stir hostility from our end; as already stated, vengeance is the prerogative of God alone (Deut. 32:35) – and Christ will have His day of judgment indeed (Acts 17:31).  Yes, we too desire peace, but our desire is for true and lasting peace – the peace that can only be found in Christ alone.

***********************************************

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Peace! Peace!

Jeremiah 8:10-12:

10 “...from the least even to the greatest everyone is greedy for gain; From the prophet even to the priest everyone practices deceit. 11 “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. 12 “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, And they did not know how to blush...” Says the Lord.

 

During the course of this week, two examples of false peace reared their ugly heads:  First, there was a declaration made by several Muslim leaders who pontificated that the Christian and Islamic worlds must unite because “the very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”    I will say much more about this later - suffice it to say that this is, without much surprise, an invitation for Christians to embrace Islam's anti-Christ doctrines which deny the Savior's deity, His crucifixion, and His exclusivity as both Judge and Savior.  This, Muslim leaders confidently argue, will usher in a new era of peace.  While it is true that such a move would usher in a temporal, man-centered form of peace, in the end it would only excite mankind's present enmity with God.  Second, there was Al Gore's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Global Warming®.  Mr. Gore is just another would-be savior who comes to us from the secular side of false offers of peace.

Both of these situations remind us that this world is like a burning, smoke-filled house.  Danger lurks around us with every hot ember, and we must be sure not to inhale the gaseous fumes of worldly wisdom - they lead only to death.  These worldly offers of peace have a common thread:  they are all dangerous distractions from the Gospel of Peace.  They are generated by men who are greedy for power and wealth - men who say 'peace, peace,' but there is no peace.  They exalt worldly dangers in order to blow the smoke of their specious solutions - and everyone who comes to them with the expectation of deliverance do so as bondslaves to a useless hope.  Throughout the centuries, men have always believed that peace can be achieved through human ingenuity and effort.  In every case these false pursuits have placed mankind in the role of savior - a position that the Prince of Peace shares with no-one.  As believers, we ought to remember that amidst this smoke filled world there is true safety found in the crisp, clean air of God's Word.  As Christians, we need to fill our lungs with Holy Writ daily, while calling others to flee the polluted air of this world in pursuit of the life-giving wind of the God-breathed Scriptures. 

Let us be reminded that the current events of our day afford us an important opportunity to share the Gospel of peace.   Thus, we need to remind the lost that there is no peace to be found in this world apart from the Savior, because the peace that we truly need is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5).  Any other "peace" is a sham that is sold by false prophets, whether religious or secular, who are greedy for gain, power, and prestige. 

 

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Red Hot Stupidity

When I saw this, I was absolutely disgusted.  A "church" called The Gathering, in Sevierville Tennessee, is employing profane means in order to garner attention and attendees from their community.  Their "Red Hot Sex" ad campaign has rightfully infuriated many area residents - especially those who have little children who have already seen the "Red Hot Sex" fliers in their mail.  What was so disturbing was to hear the sincere plea of one man, a father of two, who said: 

"This is the first thing that we ever got in the mail where we were like...!!??wha??!!...Stuff in the mail I just don't want to have to worry about - especially coming from a church!  Why don't they take the thousands, literally thousands of dollars, that they spend on the mail-outs and put that directly in the community, as opposed to having some kind of shock value to their mail-outs?"

It is despicable when the world can offer a righteous rebuke against a professing "church."  It has a certain Corinthian flare to it:

1 Corinthians 5:1: 1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles...

Finally, the CNN commentator said: "They say that they do church here differently."  That's what I would call a gross understatement. 

1 Peter 2:12: 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

1 Peter 3:17: 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.

 Selah

Monday, October 01, 2007

"We Really Don't Appreciate What a Beautiful Planet We Have..."

...no kidding:

Acts 17:26
26 ...and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Yeah, It's Been Slow Around Here

The posting around here has been quite spotty.  A little here, a little there - you'd think that I'm some lazy lounge lizard, doing nothing but lying around and eating live crickets.  Behind the scenes of such apparent inactivity, I have been working on a number of writing projects.  But in lieu of any substantive posts this week, I offer you the above picture of, yes, a real lizard lying down on a couch.  I found the original photo at Little Green Footballs - from there you'll find a link to the picture's source, and the story behind it.  When I first saw this I thought to myself - it would be amazing to have a lizard that can do that!  Then I realized that having a beast that can slouch on a couch and stare at you like that would be slightly terrifying.  This guy can keep his "pet." 

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When Science Goes to the Dogs

Genuine scientists are a dying breed.  Most of what populates the ranks of what many today term as "scientists" are just very smart individuals whose imaginations have gone to their head.  When I read this article, I realized that contemporary science just continues to go to the dogs:

Scientists say they cannot dismiss the possibility that a new universe could explode into life in your kitchen.  A new universe could be created at any time.  Nor can they rule out a Big Bang in your bedroom.  But don't be too concerned that you could become the centre of a new universe.  Scientists say the chances are so remote the figure is one divided by one followed by 100 million trillion trillion trillion trillion noughts.  "It is probably the smallest number in the history of physics," said Dr Sean Carroll, from the University of Chicago, who helped to work the figure out.  The universe was created out of nothing more than 14 billion years ago in the Big Bang.  

Created...out of nothing (ex nihilo)...in your kitchen or bedroom. 

Interesting. 

Notice that Carroll says our universe was created and that a new universe could be created again.  Think about that: created - that is an active verb.  Now scientists are not always known to be wordsmiths; their foci tend to lie in other areas, but the idea of created requires an active and intelligent agency behind it.  In reality, there is more truth in what Dr. Carroll said than he realized.  What he doesn't understand is that the "odds" of another universe being created are not what he suspects them to be.  In reality, the probability is actually 1 /1:

Revelation 21:1: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away...

It is a difficult thing to endure: watching secular scientists drive down the road of popular opinion as though they faced no real obstructions along the way.  It is bad enough that this is a common reality; what is worse is that most people will accept, without a single critical thought, statements like: "the universe was created out of nothing more than 14 billion years ago in the Big Bang."  

Question:  what exactly "created" that "bang" to begin with? 

I guess that we're not supposed to ask that question, or if we do, we are not allowed to assume that the first cause of all matter and life is the One who is called "The Creator" by name. 

Without any empirical knowledge of the Universe's beginning, it is impossible to extrapolate any probability of another "creation" event.  What we need is an eyewitness who can tell us about creation - and the Lord Himself has already done so.  This is proof, once again, that most of what passes for science is really a humanistic religion which requires a lot more faith than a mustard seed...much, much more.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Pledge Allegiance to (Fill in the Blank)

Update:  At this point the flag ban has been lifted, however, the ACLU has already threatened to sue if the school board decides only to allow the US flag to be worn.  Predictably, the ACLU is on the wrong side of the issue.  The school should be able to ban foreign flags because of the street gang problems that the school faces.  I hope that they choose to stand and fight this one.

We live in such a litigious society that people have become more concerned about the unspoken rules of political correctness than they are about truth and personal integrity. Imagine, if you can, being asked to refrain from a simple expression of patriotism in order to avoid offending anyone.  This is, in a sense, what Jessica Langston was required to do by her school:  

SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. – On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American flag.

Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.

The new rule stems from a controversy over students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.

Gayle Langston said her daughter, Jessica, was told to remove her Stars and Stripes t-shirt.

“Today she wanted to wear her shirt, and I had to tell her no,” said Langston. “She didn't like it at all because I knew it would get her in trouble. Of all days, 9/11, she could not wear her American Flag shirt.”

The superintendent of schools in Sampson County calls the situation unfortunate, but says educators didn’t want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible.

Those who know me understand that I am very cynical about Christians who make American patriotism more important than the Gospel itself.  Frankly, I believe that many in our land today have blasphemously exalted American nationalism above their heavenly citizenship - and this is a serious mistake and derogation of the Gospel itself.  However, make no mistake - I am extremely thankful for God's providence in establishing this nation.  As well, I am extremely thankful for our freedoms, and for those who have laid down their lives in order to preserve those freedoms.  I am a veteran; I am a citizen; I am an American patriot, and...

I want to know what is going on in Sampson County, NC. 

In fact I called the school (Hobbton High School) and the Sampson Superintendent's office in order to give them a chance to tell their own story.  In short, I received no assistance from Hobbton High.  After two calls they have refused to give any statement concerning their official clothing policy.  As well, the Superintendent's office had only this to say:

"We have had a disruption in schools caused by the wearing of certain flags by some of our students.  We are in the process of consulting with our legal council in order to address the issue that has been presented."

There has been a "disruption" caused by the wearing of various flags.  Solution: ban the wearing of all flags, including the American flag, because they don't "want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible."  If this isn't political correctness and civil relativism, then I don't know what is. 

With this in mind, I have a little message for the Sampson County School District: 

Last year the NC senate passed a bill that requires public schools to "adopt policies that require the display of the United States and North Carolina flags, when available, in each classroom and adopt policies that require the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance."  [S.L. 2006-137].

S.L. 2006-137 also requires that schools "provide age‑appropriate instruction on the meaning and historical origins of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance."

In other words - schools are required by law to teach and foster American patriotism, as represented by our flag and national pledge.

BUT - you don't "want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible."  

Let me then remind you of our nation's pledge:  "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

We are one nation - identified by one flag and established by the one and only God who made this nation for His own sovereign purposes. 

In brief - no one is asking YOU to choose "which flag is permissible."  As a public school district in North Carolina and in this nation - that decision has already been made.

The Sampson County School District would do well to read and apply S.L. 2006-137.  While I realize that the bill does not address dress codes - it does however emphasize the broader discussion about fostering and encouraging patriotism within our schools - public schools that we pay for with our taxes (yes, even homeschoolers like ourselves who have to pay taxes anyway).  My exhortation to the superintendent is this:  Instead of relativizing our nation's education, why not set an example to our youth by upholding our state's law which calls on schools to teach our children about the "meaning and historical origins of the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance" and thus encourage patriotism.  This is far better than having such students hiding their patriotism because of your legal fears. 

Remind them that our flag represents a vast sacrifice - a sacrifice of hard work, sweat, and blood.  Remind them that the privileges which they now enjoy came by a vast cost to many who lived and died before them. 

No, America isn't a perfect nation, and it in no way compares with the glory that is to be revealed (Rom. 8:18).  But it is the nation that God has ordained and has given to us who reside here as its citizens.  It is therefore appropriate that we show some respect and gratitude for what He has so graciously provided. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th, 2007

 

 

Luke 13:1-5:

1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Christian Kafir

As Christians, we are all familiar with the truth concerning the Son's essential equality (homo-ousios) with the Father.  Christ is the exact representation of the Father's glory, and therefore, by beholding the glory of Christ, we also behold the nature and glory of the Father Himself:

John 14:8-9: 8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [exegesato] Him.

There is also another text which speaks to the same issue, but with a slight distinction:  John 17:6  “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word.  It is in this very prayer of our Great High Priest that we are given a fascinating declaration.  The Son not only made the Father known (John 14:8-9) and explained Him (John 1:18), but Christ also says that He revealed the Father's name as well (John 17:6).  We must be careful not to miss this important distinction, after all, what is somewhat alien to our American culture is the very concept of a name: in ancient biblical cultures, names were designed to communicate the nature and attributes of the individual.  It is for this reason that the names of God are crucial theological studies by themselves.  For the sake of argument, consider the following examples from the O.T.: 

El-Shaddai:  In Genesis 17:1-5 the Lord promised that 99 year old patriarch (Abram) that he would become the father of a multitude of nations.  What would seem to be an impossible promise (humanly speaking) was in fact secured by the very name that the Lord gave Himself in the presence of Abram, who was "good as dead" (Romans 4:19):  El-Shaddai ~ God Almighty.  By this name, Abram was assured that the very promise that was given would be brought about by the One who had "all might" or omnipotence.  The Lord's name was therefore supplied as the very foundation of hope for the promise that was given. 

Jehovah-Jire:  In Genesis 22 Abraham is given a substitute (a sacrificial ram) to offer in the place of his son of promise: Isaac.  It is here that Abraham referred to the Lord as Jehovah-Jire - The Lord Will Provide.  

Clearly, Christ is the living fulfillment of these names in that He is the true source of blessing unto the nations (Gal. 3) and He is the Father's provision who would die as our sacrificial substitute.  Ultimately, we should view these concepts as simply different facets of the same diamond of revelation.  In the person of Christ we have complete revelation and knowledge of the Father in all His perfections and attributes.  He has manifested the Father's name indeed.

These important truths stand in judgment against a recent revelation offered by a Dutch Catholic bishop, who (as one reporter summarized):  "suggested that Christians should refer to God as 'Allah' to promote better relations with Muslims. Bishop Martinus "Tiny" Muskens of Breda told the "Network" television show that 'God doesn't really care how we address Him.'  The Dutch bishop admitted that his suggestion was not likely to gain widespread acceptance. But he predicted that within a century or two, Dutch Catholics would be addressing prayers to 'Allah.'"

"Tiny's" concept of ecumenism is not new. We saw it when Pope Benedict went to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and prayed towards Mecca. We also saw it when a small delegation of Muslims from Iraq visited Pope John Paul II (May of 1999) and presented him with a copy of the Qur’an. When it was presented to the Pope, he proceeded to kiss it as a sign of respect.  We also see calls to ecumenism from men like Peter Kreeft who said in his book Ecumenical Jihad: 

“God is raising an army, forging a new alliance of all who hate evil. This new alliance may prove to be more unifying than anything else in the history of religions. Perhaps all the world’s religions will eventually be united in this cause; but so far, in the West, we can see this army being made up of five religious groups, all of which are consistently vilified and libeled in the establishment media because they are the only five identifiable groups in our society who have not brought into the sexual revolution and its offspring, abortion: orthodox Catholics, Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, Muslims, religious Jews, and Eastern Orthodox. Perhaps these five kings of orthodoxy are the five good kings of the Battle of Armageddon?”

With the rising pressures of ecumenism in our world today, I believe that it is all the more important that Christians address this question:  "should we refer to the Lord as 'Allah'?"  Allāh is a contraction of the Arabic article al [the] + ilah [deity]: thus, al-lāh ~ or “the God.” While modern Arabic has adopted various words from the Semitic family of languages,[1] such similarities must not be overrated.

Lexical Consideration: In Hebrew – “the God” would be rendered – Ha-Eloah [even Ha-El or Elohey] – not “Allāh” per se.  Even if one could argue that the name of Allah is an exact derivation from the Hebrew, it would still be necessary to distinguish between false and true deity. The Scriptures do this constantly -  Exodus 20:2-3: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me."

Theological Considerations: Despite the insistence of some Muslims that “Allāh” is not used as a name, it must be noted that their nominal use of “Allāh” points to another reality:  Sura 1:1. "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful."  Because of the uniqueness of this identity, the name of Allah should be avoided.  Islam teaches that Allah's chief prophet is Muhammad, and that he is the last prophet amidst the legacy of prophets in the OT and the NT. They believe that only those who embrace Islam truly understand the teachings of Moses and of Jesus. They also teach that Muhammad is the fulfillment of John 16:12-13, rather than the Holy Spirit.  By calling God "Allah" confounds absolutely everything.

Christological Considerations: The Qur'an clearly denies the Trinity (Qur'an 4:171)[2] and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (4:157)[3] - two of the most central tenants of Christian faith, and yet many today (whether by ignorance, or by fantasy-chasing) have advanced the idea of Islam being favorable towards the Christian faith. Sura 9:30. “…the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!”

I would suggest to Biship "Tiny" an alternative to his compromise - Jehovah-Qanna:

Exodus 34:14: 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—

God does care about what we call Him, and therefore we must not trifle with such things.  The Savior Himself sacrificed all in order to manifest the precious name of the Father throughout His life and ministry.  May we as Christians be careful to communicate the glory of God's name, rather than merging His precious name with the false religions of this world.


[1] Arabic and Amharic are more recent members of the Semitic family of languages, and therefore they do contain reflections of Hebrew and Aramaic.

[2] Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

[3] That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah”—but they killed him not, nor crucified 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—“.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Evolution: A Theory in Crisis

Michael Denton's book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, is yet another book that fits into the Intelligent Design category of thought.  It is a very profitable read to the extent that it gives the reader the opportunity to consider the theory of evolution without the dogma of a Richard Dawkins who pontificates:

"Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun..."  Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, p. 1.

What seems to be lacking within the scientific community today is any willingness to debate and contest even the most primitive assumptions of Darwinism.  The prevailing expectation among far too many today is that one must never question the majority view, or else they will be punished with childish ridicule, and thus suffer condemnation from those who pride themselves to be "scientists."  This point is easily verified by just reading the critiques and comments that are often found lurking around much of the Creationist and ID literature.  But works like Denton's should be read, understanding that he lies somewhere between the views of naturalistic evolution and Creationism.  It is apparent in his book that he too is frustrated by the dogmatism of men like Dawkins who would cease all discussions about evolution - simply because Mr. Dawkins said so - and those who disobey will be subject to an inquisition by the new majority:

"The lack of any scientifically acceptable competitor leaves evolutionary biology in a state of crisis analogous to the crisis in medieval astronomy when, although the Ptolemaic system was admitted to be a monstrosity, the lack of any conceivable alternative imprisoned the science for centuries within the same circle of belief (p. 357)...that [Darwinian theory] is neither fully plausible, nor comprehensive, is deeply troubling.  One might have expected that a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth." p. 358.

In saying this, Denton does not deny evolution in all its facets.  In fact it is important to note here that most (if not all) Creationists accept the concept of the special theory of evolution (microevolution).  The real problem lies within the realm of the general theory:

"For Darwin, all evolution was merely an extension of microevolutionary processes.  Yet, despite the success of his special theory, despite the reality of microevolution, not all biologists have shared Darwin's confidence and accepted that the major divisions in nature could have been crossed by the same simple sorts of processes."  p. 86.

What Denton is clearly denying is the notion that Darwinism necessarily suffices for all of the facets of the general theory (macroevolution).  Denton advances several arguments in order to expose Darwin's general theory as mere metaphysics.  As evidence of the many problems which plague Darwinism, he discusses the typology of nature (see page 117), incongruities in the fossil record (see chapter 8), complexities relating to the soft anatomy of supposed transitional forms (see p. 177), flight as the product of macroevolution (see chapter 9), the enigma which molecular biology presents to Darwinism (see chapter 11) and in the last few chapters, Denton reveals the fantastic notion of the spontaneous generation of life from an abiotic environment:

"...the possibility of life arising suddenly on earth by chance - is infinitely small.  To get a cell by chance would require at least one hundred functional proteins to appear simultaneously in one place.  That is one hundred simultaneous events each of an independent probability which could hardly be more than 10(-20), giving a maximum combined probability of 10(-2000).  Recently, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe in Evolution in Space provided a similar estimate of...'10(40,000) an outrageously small probability...'"  pp. 323-24.

In view of such odds, Denton then says:

"The Darwinian claim that all the adaptive design of nature has resulted from a random search, a mechanism unable to find the best solution in a game of checkers, is one of the the most daring claims in the history of science.  But it is also one of the least substantiated.  No evolutionary biologist has ever produced any quantitive proof that the designs of nature are in fact within the reach of chance.  There is not the slightest justification for claiming, as did Richard Dawkins recently:  '...Charles Darwin showed how it is possible for blind physical forces to mimic the effects of conscious design, and, by operating as a cumulative filter for chance variations, to lead eventually to organized and adaptive complexity, to mosquitoes and mammoths, to humans and therefore, indirectly, to books and computers.'"p. 324.

Denton's work is quite excellent, and I commend it to you for careful study and consideration.  If you are a dyed in the wool general theory Darwinist - then read this book in order to broaden the spectrum of your analysis of the subject.  As a former atheist and evolutionist, I can assure you that you won't be exposed to any of Denton's important questions within the spectrum of the standard texts on evolution today.  If you are a Christian, I would encourage you to read this work, but do remember that ID books are not a defense of biblical creationism - they are secular critiques of Darwinism.   But the critique is quite clear - Darwinism is more than a scientific hypothesis, as it was in Darwin's day. Now it has become an organized and mostly unchallenged religion. 

(Amazon Review)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bones of Contention

"Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun..."

Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

That just about sums up my own attitude throughout my life as a young atheist.  As one who was raised on a diet of evolutionary theory throughout my life, I can understand the dogmatic assertions of a man like Dawkins.  After all, I too was not only an evolutionist and atheist - but I was an evangelistic atheist who sought to "convert" poor Christians to the majority viewpoint.  All of this is now a part of my past - before I became a Christian, and before I ever endeavored to examine the subject outside of the pale of our modern education system in which nothing is accepted as true unless it pays direct homage to that popular deity Evolution, and its revered prophet - Charles Darwin.  It is because of this background of mine that I found Bones of Contention, by Marvin Lubenow, to be a rather confounding read.  The difficulty that I encountered was not the fault of the book, but had to do with the fact that references to Neanderthal man, Java man and Homo erectus (among others) conflicted harshly with the academic social-engineering of my youth - where alternative viewpoints are not allowed to be mentioned.  The challenge that I had was to read this book while leaving my past programming behind - a process that is always necessary whenever one wishes to evaluate evidence by the value of its merit, rather than by the value of its legendary status within a society.  In fact, this is one of the central values of Lubenow's work.  He helps the reader to analyze the scientific data that is used in support of evolution, but without the bias of men like Dawkins who would have us to forgo any critical analysis of Darwinism simply because he said so.

No matter what your background is, I would strongly recommend that you read this book.  Lubenow gives a clear and rigorous presentation of the history of Evolution.  From the days of Darwin to the present, Lubenow reveals the precarious evolution of the philosophy of Darwinism by revealing how:

"Any series of objects created by humans (or God) can be arranged in such a way as to make it look as if they had evolved when in fact they were created independently by an intelligent being."  p. 21.

He also notes that popular opinions in our society are often governed by the fact that -

"The undiscerning public...considers scientists to be some sort of high priests of our society, paragons of objectivity who have no philosophical axes to grind."  p. 18.

Lubenow calls the reader to an open and honest evaluation of the empirical data that is often massaged and manipulated in order to facilitate the premise of evolution.  As a result of his research, he has concluded the following:

"We have all seen pictures of the impressive sequence allegedly leading to modern humans - those small, primitive, stooped creatures gradually evolving into big, beautiful you and me.  What is not generally known is that this sequence, impressive as it seems, is a very artificial and arbitrary arrangement because (1) some fossils are selectively excluded if they do not fit will into the evolutionary scheme; (2) some human fossils are arbitrarily downgraded to make them appear to be evolutionary ancestors when they are in fact true humans; and (3) some nonhuman fossils are upgraded to make them appear to be human ancestors." p. 21.

Lubenow is careful to point out that Darwinism is a subjective philosophy that is designed to reduce the universe (biotic and abiotic) to that which is the product of an unguided, naturalistic process:

"...Darwin's purpose was not just to establish the concept of evolution.  Darwin was wise enough not to stop there.  Darwin went for the jugular vein.  Darwin's master accomplishment was to convince the scientific world that it was unscientific to believe in supernatural causation.  His purpose was to 'ungod' the universe." p.191.

Without empirical data, evolution stands as nothing more than an atheistic philosophy.  Even Darwin comprehended the tenuous nature of his proposed theory.  What he developed on ink and paper was a philosophy whose fate would rest in the hands of future scientists:

"Geological research, though it has added numerous species to existing and extinct genera, and has made the intervals between some few groups less wide than they otherwise would have been, yet has done scarcely anything in breaking down the distinction between species, by connecting them together by numerous, fine, intermediate varieties; and this not having been effected, is probably the gravest and most obvious of all the many objections which may be urged against my views."  Darwin, The Origin of Species,

It is this crucial interval of research, from the days of Darwin to the present, that Lubenow reveals to the reader.  Overall he shows that Darwin began with nothing more than ink, paper, and wistful hope; and to this day, his followers have advanced his legacy with nothing more than ink, paper, and unscientific dogma

(Amazon Review)

The Truth about Muhammad

It would seem that the overwhelming majority of western civilization is working overtime in order to prove the old adage: 

"...those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."   

In view of the darkness that lurks in our human history, the idea of repeating such a past is no pleasant thought.  But this is exactly what we find happening throughout the world today as many world leaders are trying desperately to find a peaceful middle-ground between Islam and the rest of the world.  Yet it is this premise of finding a peaceful middle-ground that is so enigmatic, especially when one considers the core beliefs of Islam as revealed in the Qur'an.  It is to this very point that Robert Spencer's book, The Truth about Muhammad - Founder of the Word's Most Intolerant Religion, shows just how dangerous it is to remain ignorant about the history of Islam.  Within the short span of 194 pages, Spencer manages to synthesize three crucial Muslim texts, the Qur'an, the Hadith and the Sira, in order to give a comprehensive history of Muhammad's life and warring conquests.  He is factual, respectful, and measured in his own analysis of Islam's prophet.  In the end, Spencer's historical analysis becomes a clear condemnation against those who would characterize Islam as a peaceful religion:  

"...the example of Muhammad, the highest model for human behavior, constantly pulls them [Muslims] in a different direction.  The fact that Western analysts continue to ignore all this demonstrates the ease with which people can be convinced of something they wish to believe, regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary." p. 183. 

Spencer's assessment of the West's bias is very important also, for it would seem that many in our culture are willing to ignore the facts of history in order to embrace a fantasy that is far less terrifying - and there are plenty of Islamic organizations who are eager to feed that fantasy (as in the case of C.A.I.R. - the Council on American Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas).  But those who endeavor to present Islam in a kinder light are forced to redact, or even ignore, the foundation and founder of Islam itself:

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain that Islam is a religion of peace when warfare and booty were among the chief preoccupations of the Prophet of Islam.  Sincere Islamic reformers should confront these facts, instead of ignoring or glossing over them, and work to devise ways in which Muslims can retreat from the proposition that Muhammad's example is in all ways normative.  If they do not do so, one outcome is certain: bloodshed perpetrated in the name of Islam and in imitation of its prophet will continue." pp. 176-77.

It is this centrality of Muhammed that makes it impossible to separate out the violence, bloodshed and world domination that is inherent in Islam's epistemology:

Qur'an 33:21. Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. 

Spencer is also careful to point out the fallacy which asserts that Islam is compatibility with Christianity (pp. 177-183).  Many people in the mainstream media have advanced this false notion, however the Qur'an clearly denies the deity (Qur'an 4:171) and crucifixion of Jesus Christ (4:157) - two of the most central tenants of Christian faith, and yet many today (whether by ignorance, or by fantasy-chasing) have advanced the idea of Islam being favorable towards the Christian faith.  However, the only way in which Muhammad ever demonstrated a partial tolerance of "Christians" is when they were willing to forsake their core beliefs as an act of subjugation under Islamic rule.  It frankly strains the limits of credulity to say that this is "tolerance" and yet this has become yet another mantra within the chorus of Islamic apologetics today. 

Finally, Spencer's work aids the reader in understanding the context of conflict within Islam when he states:

"The Sunni-Shi'ite fault line within Islam has given rise to considerable violence over the centuries, and in the twenty-first century threatens to erupt again into open war in Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere.  It is a legacy entirely in keeping with the attitudes and behavior of the Prophet of Islam."

This is an outstanding work and I commend Mr. Spencer for his labors in it.  I count this as a must read for anyone looking for an overview of Muhammed's life, and how his example is the very bedrock of Islam itself.  As a final note, I have written this review shortly after Bishop Martinus Muskens reportedly advised his congregants to refer to God as Allah, saying: "God doesn't really care how we address Him."  Though many in the world may view this as a form of lateral ecumenism, it is not.  Besides apostasy from genuine Christianity itself, the bishop's actions are yet another example of fearful subjugation and historical ignorance - two diseases that are already plaguing our world today.

 (Amazon Review)