Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Rebuttal to ‘Discover The Truth’ on Isaiah 9:6

June 27, 13

This blog post is for the purpose of responding to the claims made by Kaleef K. Karim at Discover The Truth – Isaiah 9:6 Messiah God? (a site which purports to be ‘Calling Humanity back to Islam’ which should give you an idea of the author’s views).

It’s been a long time since I did an exhaustive and time-consuming point-by-point rebuttal, and I do enjoy it.

In blockquotes are Discover The Truth’s original postings. I respond in non-blockquoted text.

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Note I do not believe Isaiah 9:6 is anything to do with Jesus being God or if it is a future Prophecy of him, I believe Isaiah 9:6 is referring to Hezekiah.

The King Messiah Project points out that Hezekiah was 39 years old at the time Isaiah uttered this passage. Hardly fits a the ‘child is born’ aspect. He also lost favour in God’s sight and his lineage eventually did not inherit the throne of David.

Apart from that, multiple other criteria revealed throughout Isaiah 9 simply do not fit a mortal, fallible king who rules over times of sin and strife!

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1. Here is what Isaiah 9:6 says:

What does the word “El” mean? Does the word “El” refer to God alone?

As Kaleef K. Karim rightly demonstrates following the above, El does not always and only refer to God. This is actually a very minor matter that he blows up for exaggeration, I will deal with this further down this section.

Ezekiel 32:21 The strong (El) among the mighty (gibor) shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.

The above verse 32:21 is used in plural. Since the words “El” and “gibor” are used simultaneously together, are the people referred to Divine like Yahweh?

To summarize, he argues that because El gibor is used in Ezekiel 32 to refer to humans, this shows that the use of El gibor in Isaiah 9 is not necessarily a reference to God.

However he avoids bringing up the very next chapter of Isaiah, which clearly uses El-Gibor to refer to God:

And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, [even] the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God (El gibor) – Isaiah 10:20-21 KJV

Kudos to this site for pointing that out, as well as bringing up another clearly divine reference for El gibor in Jeremiah 32:18.

Isaiah 10 is a much stronger comparison and basis for deciding on Isaiah 9, as it appears in the same book of prophetic visions by the same author… And just one chapter ahead too!

Thus there is a clear rationale for interpreting Isaiah 9’s use of El gibor as refering to the divine God.

(In fact this reminds me of the tactic used by another Muslim apologist and polemicist against Christianity, Ahmad Deedat, who similarly quoted Bible passages while omitting closely following passages that would immediately defeat his own argument.)

Just to note though that Ezekiel 32 actually uses El gibor next to each other the same way that Isaiah 9 and Isaiah 10 have them. See the Interlinear link below.

Finally, context is always important. If you read immediately after Isaiah 9:6 you will find:

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:7 NIV

Now what merely human king could possibly rule with no end and forever?

Isaiah 9:6 and Ezekiel are both the same except in Ezekiel 32:21 it is used in plural. If Christian Missionaries are so truthful and consistent why don’t they write in their Trinitarian Bible Translations “Mighty Gods” in capitals for Ezekiel 32:21?

Like I said, context is important when it comes to interpreting – and even translating – the Bible, since words in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek can have several meanings.

For example, in Mark 10:7 most English translations use the word ‘wife’. The actual Greek word used is goonay which means ‘woman’ and in suitable cases means ‘wife’. However in Mark 10:7, the context of the passage, i.e. marriage clearly justifies the usage of ‘wife’ rather than ‘woman’.

This is a complete non-issue even in our modern everyday usage. For example, if I were to write down “Let’s eat at a buffet” and later “The strong winds buffet us”, you would not translate both instances of the word to mean ‘food’!

In fact, the interpretation of the Quran itself is subject to the same word having different meanings depending on the context. So, tu quoque.

Compare Strong’s References:
Ezekiel 32,
Isaiah 9,
Isaiah 10,
Jeremiah 32

Compare Interlinear (original Hebrew arrangement with English translation below each word):
Ezekiel 32,
Isaiah 9,
Isaiah 10,
Jeremiah 32

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2. Isaiah 9:6 is not talking about a future prophecy

How can Isaiah 9:6 be a prophecy of Jesus if the incident already took place before the coming of the Messiah (Jesus)? Read the words at the start: “has been born to us, a son has.” It doesn’t make sense does it? Something that happened before Jesus, but somehow Trinitarians try to say “this is a Prophecy of Jesus” is a ridiculous claim.

First off, there is no ‘past tense’ in Hebrew, but rather ‘Perfect’ (completed) and ‘Imperfect’ (to be completed). That said, there is also a special ‘Prophetic Perfect’ that uses ‘Perfect’ because the prophet sees the future, from the vantage point of which the event already happened‘.

Kudos to King Messiah Project and Nazarene Space for explaining the above.

Even taking the entirety of Isaiah 9 to be a reference to a bygone historical event is not a problem, as I hold that Biblical passages can have multiple applications – historical, general and prophetic – and even more than one application simultaneously.

For example, Genesis 3:15 can be taken to be historical (Eve angry at the Serpent for tricking her), general (most people hate snakes instinctively) or prophetic (Jesus crushing the power of sin). I take it to be all three simultaneously.

Hence there is no issue with Isaiah 9 with regards to its prophetic application.

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3. Christian and Non-Christian Scholars, see what they have to say on Isaiah 9:6:

This section gives quotes from several references to argue that El gibor does not (or does not always) refer to God. I’ve already addressed comprehensively this in my response to Point 1.

Kaleef K. Karim also cites 16 Christian denominations that contributed to a Bible translation that renders El gibor as ‘mighty hero’.

All the above is an example of the logical fallacy argumentum ad auctoritatem – just because so-and-so say so, doesn’t mean they are absolutely, indisputably correct and we must agree with their conclusions!

Or would Kaleef K. Karim accept a similar argument from an atheist who cites so-and-so professors or historians who believe that the Quran is not divinely inspired? I daresay not. Hence, argumentum ad auctoritatem is discouraged for those who live in glass houses.

Plenty (dare I say, most) of the other Bible translations render El gibor as ‘mighty God’ – what about their authority?

And how about this authority (the following blockquote is from Nazarene Space and not Discover The Truth):

In fact the Targum Jonathan to Isaiah 9:6-7 clearly identifies the figure spoken of in Is. 9:6-7 as the Messiah.

“The prophet says to the house of David, A child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and he has taken the law upon himself to keep it, and his name has been called from of old, Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, he who lives forever, the Messiah, in whose days peace shall increase upon us”
(Targum Jonathan Is. 9:6)

And we read in the Midrash Rabbah:

Rabbi Jose the Galilean says: The name of the Messiah too is
“peace”; as it is written: “God the mighty, the everlasting Father,
the ruler of peace” (Quoting Is. 9:5-6 (6-7))
(PEREK HA SHALOM; NUMBERS RABBAH XI, 16-20)

He said to him: ‘I have yet to raise up the Messiah,’ of whom it is written, For a child is born to us (Isa. IX, 5). Until I come unto my Lord unto Seir (Gen. XXXIII, I4). R. Samuel b. Nahman said: We have searched all the Scriptures and we have nowhere found [it stated] that Jacob ever came together with Esau at Seir. What then is the meaning of, ‘Unto Seir’? Jacob [meant] to say to him: ‘I have yet to raise up judges and saviours to exact punishment from you.’ Whence this? For it is said, And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau (Obad. I, 21). Israel asked God: ‘Master of the Universe, how long shall we remain subjected to him?’ He replied: ‘Until the day comes of which it is written, There shall step forth a star out of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel (Num. XXIV, 17); when a star shall step forth from Jacob and devour the stubble of Esau.’
(Midrash Rabbah – Deuteronomy I:20)

And we read in the Zohar:

“As for the expression El Gibbor, the whole verse in which this occurs in an epitome of the holy supernal faith. The word “Wonderful” alludes to the supernal Wisdom, which is wondrous and concealed beyond the reach of all; “Counsellor” is the supernal stream which issues forth perennially and counsels all and waters all; “El” refers to Abraham, “Gibbor” to Issac, and “Everlasting Father” to Jacob, who lays hold of both sides and attains perfection. The “Prince of Peace” is the Zaddik, who brings peace to the world, peace to the House, peace to the Matrona.”
(Zohar 3:31a)

So even the ancient sages understood Isaiah 9:5-6 (6-7 in some editions) to refer to a FUTURE MESSIAH.

Hence there are many ‘Christian and non-Christian scholars’ who apply Isaiah 9 to the Messiah, God with us.

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4. Jesus: “prince of Peace?”

Kaleef K. Karim cites several instances where Jesus states He did not come to bring peace, or encourages rather violent-seeming things.

This is quite straightforward to sort out (and also addresses arguments that Jesus had no kingdom, etc):

A) Jesus’ focus is primarily on the spiritual, i.e. the peace He brings is between God and humanity.

B) Jesus’ role is not fully completed; He is scheduled to return to judge and rule over a millenium of peace, in the end followed by eternal peace. Emphasis, in the end. As long as peace comes in the end and is henceforth unbroken, it fits the idea of ‘peace with no end’.

In specific, Matthew 10 and Luke 12 as a whole have Jesus warning that to follow Him woukd be no cakewalk – but to follow Him nonetheless, as He would be faithful and acknowledge those who stick with Him through the trials to come.

Luke 22:36 meanwhile does have Jesus mention ‘buying swords’ – but verse 37 immediately following after explains that this is only to fulfill a Messianic prophecy. Other parts of Luke 22 show Jesus clearly avoiding and forbidding violence – although He clearly had the power to inflict it. Kudos to Anwering Islam for stating is clearly and succintly. Further corroboration is even at Wikipedia. Meanwhile, LoveYourEnemies.org takes it to be a justification of limited self-defence with many, many warnigns and caveats.

Once again, Kaleef K. Karim omits the important context that serves to clarify the excerpts – even one single verse following his chosen excerpt. Tut, tut. Ahmad Deedat would be proud.

He does come somewhat closer on Luke 19’s parable of the ten minas though – except as I mentioned as my Point A, Jesus is speaking of the spiritual doom and punishment that will be meted out before the throne of judgment.

And as mentioned in my Point B, many in the physical world will actually violently attack Christ during the Second Coming and after the Millenial Reign (led by the devil himself) – they will receive their physical and spiritual punishment as is just. And in the very end, there will be everlasting peace. For if they were not judged and winnowed out, how would there be peace for the rest of the world?

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5. There is “one God” and there is none else besides Him:

The old Testament rejects the “Trinity”, it clearly states there is no god besides God, there is nothing equal to God.

Kaleef K. Karim cites several passages to argue that God is one and only.

This is not a problem for the Trinitarian, as we believe that God is one and only, while simultaneously being three persons. For how this could possibly make sense, first consider that the human mind cannot fully comprehend things like infinity and timelessness, and second consider that three as one exists in our everyday world.

After all, even Jesus said:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. – Mark 12:29

But He also allowed this:

Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. – Matthew 28:9

How do we reconcile both divergent actions unless Jesus is God but God is still one?

Even if you do not include the New Testament passages that proclaim Jesus’ divinity (such as His forgiving sins) or are absolutely non-Trinitarian, it is still possible for you to believe that the Messiah is divine – Oneness doctrine simply holds that Jesus is a manifestation of the one God.

Hence, all the passages Kaleef K. Karim cites here fail to argue against Oneness doctrine type belief – his argument is designed to refute Trinitarianism, after all.

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See also related:

Historically Corroborated: Jesus Fulfilled 129 Messianic Prophecies Made in Isaiah 335 Years Earlier

Why the Holy Spirit is Considered God (and So is Jesus)

Differences in Worldviews of Christianity vs Islam – As Supplied by menj

June 25, 13

On a cue from memories stirred by an unrelated discussion, I went back to One Piece’s Neptune – A Kingly Sacrifice: Christian and Muslim Views and re-read through the comments.

The original post aimed to illustrate the difference in worldview, philosophy and theology that leads to vast differences between Christian vs Muslim ways of thinking… To the point where we might hardly even understand one another and reach completely different conclusions about the same thing!

Here are a few excerpts that I found to poignantly demonstrate that difference (bolded emphasis added in these excerpts):

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menj

The major difference is that in Islam, man is not born with sin and he is accountable for his own deeds and misdeeds. And God is totally at liberty to decide who goes to Paradise and who doesn’t. If God were to decide that every man and woman who ever worshipped Him go to Hell instead of Paradise, that will be perfectly within His Infinite Wisdom and no human being has the right to object, ever. God is not held out to ransom simply because some half-naked dude died at the cross and was erroneously perceived to be His “son”.

And that’s another difference between Islam and Christianity….God has no kids in Islam and that does not detract from His Majesty one single iota.

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Me

Similarly, if God were to decide that anyone who believes He has a Son Who died for our sins will go to heaven – and anyone who does not believe is destined for hell – that is also within His infinite wisdom. It works both ways.

So of course God is not ‘held out to ransom’ – it is He Who suggested the swap in the first place.

And that’s another difference between Islam and Christianity….God has no kids in Islam and that does not detract from His Majesty one single iota.

Whereas in Christianity, God does have a one-and-only Son and that does not detract from His majesty – instead, it adds to it. Which is similar to the conclusion of this post in the first place.

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menj

In the Muslim mind, were such a situation similar to King Neptune’s were to arise, there would be no need for God to “jump in front of an opponent to sacrifice” Himself. In fact, He doesn’t need to do a thing to Save his servants. All it takes is kun faya kun, “Be, and it is!”

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Me

You’ve proven my illustration accurate – Hodi finds it incredulous that a king would do such a thing, just as you as a Muslim find it laughable that God would need to use the Christ to save humanity.

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menj

I would argue that we do in a certain sense find it “laughable”, but not because God in Islam is what you are implying and certainly not because God would not “bring Himself down to the level of His servants”. Its not however, the way how the manga Hodi is characterised and its certainly not the way how you have characterised it.

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Me

Hodi says such-and-such an act does not befit a king.

You say such-and-such an act does not befit an Almighty God.

Close enough to me.

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menj

Stepped out of the shower and I just realised why I find it deeply objectionable to characterise God in this way: what the characters King Neptune and Hodi represent are very human reactions in a situation like this, i.e hero versus villian. God Almighty is far beyond such characterisations of such human behaviour. Even if you were to characterise the Islamic version of God as the protagonist King Neptune, it will still be objectionable because what one would expect of human behaviour is not applicable to God. In short, neither the characters King Neptune NOR the character Hodi accurately defines God in the Muslim mind, because you have limited God to only two choices. God Almighty can Save His servants beyond what is conceivable by the human mind.

In other words, the God of Christianity (according to you) is limited only by human behaviourial responses as perceived by you, as that god can only do one thing or the other. The God of Islam is not bound by the limits of the human mind or behaviour. All it takes is: “Kun faya kun”, Be and it is!

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Me

That also explains why I don’t see any problem with it. The JudeoChristian understanding of God is that He is relatable to mere humans.

That we have emotions is based on our being made in God’s image – God in the Bible has emotions including anger, sadness and compassion. (And yes, that we have parent/child relationships is also based on the Father/Son relationship in the Trinity.)

But a friendship with God is an unthinkable/outrageous concept to Islam I suppose. Values Dissonance.

because you have limited God to only two choices. God Almighty can Save His servants beyond what is conceivable by the human mind.

I think you misunderstand our position, and have reversed the cause and effect. We don’t argue ‘God must save us through Christ because this is the only way that makes sense by our human comprehension’. Honestly, it defies human understanding. Rather, the reason we believe that God saves us through Christ is simply because that is what the Bible states. We then try to make the most sense of it as possible.

So we are actually similar to you in that the God of Christianity is not bound by the limits of the human mind or behaviour. However, He has stated via the Bible the way He plans to get things done. And who are we to argue otherwise? If God wants to save us through Christ or through a divine lottery or through a thousand reincarnations – be and it is! it’s God’s pregorative.

In fact, the same argument can be turned around to point at Islam. Why doesn’t Allah just purify people and let them into heaven? Why bother with Islam or the Five Pillars or repentance or good deeds? After all, as you said, all it takes is: “Kun faya kun”, Be and it is!

The answer to that would likely be, because that is the way it is, simple as that. The same response I just gave you on why YHWH works salvation through the Christ. So we are in fact on the same level footing here.

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After that, no further replies appeared. In my memory I had thought that menj got fed up of trollish comments digging up his past, but looking back the thread just stopped.

It was an informative discussion nonetheless.

‘Jesus’ of the Quran is Without Meaning

June 24, 13

First, watch this quick video, ‘Jesus of the Quran is an Argument’ (on a tip from Zack T):

To summarize, the video contends that Jesus as portrayed by the Bible is a real person – complete with details about His personality, family, life and ministry, and surrounded by the context of the locales, culture, politics and historical events of the times.

Whereas Jesus as portrayed by the Quran (i.e. Nabi Isa) is a two-dimensional figure, excerpted and displaced from the Bible solely almost as an afterthought, for the purpose of one single argument – that God did not have a son that He sent to die for our sins.

Now allow me to expand further upon the differences between Jesus of the Bible and Isa of the Quran and Hadith.

As you might know, various accounts and events involving prophets of the One True God are found in both the Bible and the Quran & Hadith, albeit with different details. Superficial similarities like their names and most famous deeds aside, upon closer inspection the actual micro-details and macro-narrative are found to be wholly different.

The Islamic account – redacted and stripped of the rich context, history, allusions to other Biblical passages, and prophetic tradition found in the Biblical account – may be interesting as a little anecdote by itself. However, it does not have an overarching grand meaning. Nowhere is this more noticeable than the story of Jesus vs. the story of Isa.

To clarify: The entire Biblical narrative points/builds up towards the redemption through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Prophecies, parallels and foreshadowings of Jesus’ Messianic mission are sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. Even the earliest chapters – such as in Genesis with Adam’s sin affecting all humanity, and the prophecy of Eve’s offspring facing off against the serpent’s, or even (some say) the very names of the generations of Patriarchs – can have a Messianic application.

Thus not only does the lack of context surrounding Isa strip the story of its own epic meaning – it also reduces the epic meaning of other narratives as well! See the Abraham example below for an instance of what I am talking about.

So that having been said, allow me to explain why ‘Jesus of the Quran is Meaningless’ – or rather, ‘Isa of the Quran is Meaningless’ – by way of several examples, each of which hinges on the aforementioned roles of Jesus Christ vs. the non-roles of Al Masih Isa.

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Abraham is Commanded to Sacrifice Isaac / Ibrahim is Commanded to Sacrifice His Son

The Biblical account has YHWH commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac – the very son promised to him by YHWH as the first of descendants whose number would be uncountable. Heavy hearted but obedient, Abraham prepares to do so – still fully trusting by faith that somehow, YHWH would not break His promise to give him descendants. At the last minute, the sacrifice is stopped and a ram is provided instead. Abraham has proved his devotion to YHWH, that exceeds even his love for his own son. It is worth noting that Isaac would have been a young man by then, fully capable of overpowering his 100+ year old father, and thus must have also willingly agreed to give up his life.

The Islamic version has Allah asking Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, whose name is not stated but is generally taken to be Ismail (the Islamic version of Ishmael). Similar to the Biblical account, at the last minute the sacrifice is stopped. The son similarly submits willingly to Allah’s will that he be sacrificed. In Quran 37:107-109 it says, “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” but does not mention exactly what the ransom was, so the Biblical ram has no parallel in the Quranic account.

Within the Biblical narrative, the parallel of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, his ‘only son’ (as Ishmael was conceived not through YHWH’s promise) is clear to see – it is a foreshadowing of YHWH’s willingness to sacrifice His only son, Jesus. Like Isaac, Jesus was willing to go along with the sacrifice planned by His father. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac was replaced with a ram provided by YHWH – another parallel to Jesus being the ‘lamb of God’.

Additionally, the whole idea of sacrifice has roots deep in the Jewish/Mosaic tradition of atoning blood sacrifice for sins, where a life is given as a substitution for one’s sins. This tradition is non-existant in Islam, the only sacrifice of an animal being sacrificed is Eid al-Adha – to commemorate the very event of Ibrahim being willing to sacrifice his son.

That matter of atoning, substitutionary sacrifice actually leads me to my next example…

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The Virgin Birth

The Biblical accounts has Mary conceiving Jesus without aid from a man – ‘the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name God-With-Us’ as Isaiah 7:14 prophesies.

The Islamic account similarly has Mariyam conceiving Isa without aid from a man. No applicable prophecy is mentioned.

In Christianity, the reason for the virgin birth of Jesus is due to Adam’s sin which has been passed down through all generations of humanity (Romans 5:12). But Jesus, not conceived by a human father, is free from this hereditary ‘original sin’ – thus able to truly be a ‘sacrifice without blemish’ (Hebrews 9:14; compare sacrifices in Mosaic law). Furthermore, paralleling Adam’s condemnation of all humanity through one man’s sin, Jesus saves all of humanity through one man’s sacrifice (Romans 5:17).

What is the significance and meaning of the virgin birth of Isa, if he is not meant to be a flawless redemptive sacrifice? After all, every other nabi was also perfect and given the ability to be free from sin by Allah, or so Islam says. What purpose does being born of a virgin signify?

See also related: Walad and Ibn: Christianity Agrees With Islam, God Did Not Have a Son (Sexually).

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The Christ, The Messiah

Christ and Messiah both mean the same thing – ‘anointed one’, that is, one who is chosen by God to be priest (Exodus 28:41) or king (1st Samuel 16:12-13). In Jesus’ case, it is both simultaneously.

Now, in the Bible there is a TREMENDOUS amount of Messianic prophecy! At least 129 different prophecies in 300 passages, by one count. This gives a very detailed and specific list of criteria the Messiah would need to fulfil – everything from birthplace, to actions in life, to method of death and burial, and especially various attributes (e.g. divinity, purpose, sacrifice).

By contrast, the Islamic account merely mentions that Isa is the Al Masih, which is translated to ‘the Messiah’ (you can see the word similarities). Further than that, it is totally devoid of any deeper meaning. What is a ‘Masih’? What role does he fulfil, what greater purpose does he carry out that ‘normal’ prophets do not, what importance does he have? Even the Dajjal (anti-Christ) has a more detailed description in Islamic scripture!

But wait – to be fair, the Islamic accounts do state some things that Isa supposedly would do as a ‘sign':

“And (appoint him) a 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; – Quran 003.049

Okay, so clay birds becoming living birds, the blind seeing, lepers being healed, the dead raised back to life… These are all signs. Fair enough.

Now compare the Biblical account:

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. – Matthew 11:2-4

Quite similar to the Islamic account, yes? It is even more direct in its linking specific miracles to Messiahhood, to the point that Jesus gives His ‘résumé’ as an answer to John the Baptist’s asking whether He is the Messiah.

John, as a true prophet of YHWH, would have recognized Jesus’ laying claim to these passages:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. – Isaiah 35:5-6

In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel. – Isaiah 29:18-19

Hear, you deaf; And look, you blind, that you may see. – Isaiah 42:18

But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise— let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy—
your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. – Isaiah 26:19

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. – Isaiah 61:1

The part about curing leprosy doesn’t seem to be in any Messianic prophecy, but compare it to how Naaman was healed of leprosy – he had to sumberge himself in the river, just like how John was baptizing people who repented of their sins.

So where is the context or references for the Islamic list of signs? Is it from the Torah, which according to another passage has been ‘corrupted’ by the Jews and Christians? And what is the reference for transforming a clay bird into living flesh (a story that comes from the Gnostic originated, apocryphal Infancy Gospel)? Oh wait, I can think of one – it’s YHWH breathing into dust to create Adam. But wouldn’t this be in contradiction to the Islamic insistence that Jesus is not in any way divine?

All that aside, what about all the other attributes of the Messiah?

In summary, it seems that the title ‘Messiah’ was simply plucked out and re-applied without any true comprehension of the deep and meaningful roles and responsibilities that come with the title. It’s a case of MINO, Messiah In Name Only.

To be snarky, it’s like someone being ‘President of the USA’ so he can make grand speeches, shake hands with world leaders and relax at Camp David – but without aiming to take up the responsibility of actual leading, including making hard or unpopular decisions in tough circumstances. (No prizes for guessing who exactly I’m alluding to here!)

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In conclusion, even from just the above examples, the scant mention of Isa in the Quran fails to draw any deeper meaning. Of course this fits with the Islamic view that Isa was ‘just another prophet’, maybe a little more consequential than others who came before… But the many incidental details that are present in the Quranic accounts seem to be transferred from the Biblical accounts with none of the corresponding (and very important) context.

Whereas in the New Testament, we find the life and teachings, the death and resurrection, the ascension and subsequent guidance of Jesus fully fleshed out… And through that, we learn that the entirety of the Old Testament also bears witness to Jesus’ redemptive act in the form of prophecy, foreshadowing and typology.

Or can anyone educate me otherwise?

See also more along these lines at Do Islam and the Quran Have Typological Connections to the Old Testament?

Do Islam and the Quran Have Typological Connections to the Old Testament?

June 17, 13

After all, if Islam is supposed to be the conclusion and replacement of Judaism and Christianity, then it should have wider, deeper and more plentiful types and foreshadowing in the Old Testament that point toward its prophet… Right?

Compared to Christianity, which places Jesus Christ as the fulfilment of the entire Old Testament – particularly prophecies, types and foreshadowing (Colossians 2:17) leading to Himself.

Of course you have the hundred plus prophetic passages that were specifically fulfilled by Jesus.

Which includes OT books that were written at the very minimum 122 years before Jesus was born on earth.

Or like the various festivals ordained by God in Leviticus 23, and how they are types of the New Testament… Such as the Passover where a perfect, firstborn, male lamb’s blood saves from physical death and none of its bones are broken (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12) typifying Christ the sinless Lamb of God’s blood saving from spiritual death and none of His bones were broken while on the cross (Psalm 34:19-20 John 19:31-36). I mean, what is the purpose and significance of not breaking the Passover lamb’s bones which would let you get at the juicy marrow? Without pointing to Christ, it’s meaningless and confusing.

Or the Festival of Firstfruits where the first and best of the harvest is offered to God on the first Sunday following Passover typofying Jesus returning to life on the Sunday after Passover, as the firstfruits and firstborn from the dead and resurrected (1st Corinthians 15:20-23, Colossians 1:18).

And there are countless acts and events that seem to be arbitrary or make no sense, unless they are put into the context of prophetic typology leading to Christ… Such as Moses being commanded by God to produce water from the rock on two separate occasions. The first time he was commanded to strike it (Exodus 17:1-7), the second time merely to speak to it (Numbers 20:1-13). However Moses, in anger and frustration at the stubborn Israelites, instead struck the rock twice the second time. God punished his disobedient act by barring him from leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Why such a harsh sentence for Moses? Was it just for his (very rare) disobedience and temper? Especially when he was commanded the first time to strike, but ‘arbitrarily’ the second time to speak instead? This always seemed to me to be missing something.

Here is the something: Moses’ acts were supposed to foreshadow Jesus Christ as the solid rock (Psalm 27:5, Matthew 7:24-27, Matthew 16:18) who gives us living water (John 4:13-14) that is the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39). Christ was struck down only once (1st Peter 3:18), and after that promises the Father will give the Holy Spirit when Jesus merely asks. What Moses did with his brief flaring of anger was to spoil God’s carefully considered typology of Christ’s sacrifice bringing the Holy Spirit!

Or Abraham’s near-sacrifice of a Isaac, and how God stopped him at the last moment only to provide a male sheep for the sacrifice instead. In Christianity, Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his only son of promise is a type of God’s sacrifice of His only son Jesus on the cross – and just as God provided the male sheep in the place of Isaac, He did not spare to provide Christ as the sacrificial lamb – who by the way is descended from the line of Isaac, not Ishmael. More typological symbolism can be found at the lists here and here.

By contrast, what prophetic or typological significance is there in the Islamic analogue of Ibrahim near-sacrificing Ismail???

So, anyone can educate me on the case for Islam as the typological inheritor and prophetic fulfilment of the Old Testament? If you can outnumber the New Testament fulfilments I’d be impressed, since Islam is supposed to supplant Christianity as the completion of the God’s revelation! It shouldn’t be that hard… After all, the entire Quran is about the length of the New Testament, and you can add all the various Hadith as well.

Jesus said in Matt 5:20, For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Islam tries to be that, ‘more righteous than the Pharisees’, with their expanding and deepening of the OT-style Mosaic law.

But Jesus’ actual meaning is that a continued legalistics focus on law is not the answer… After all, look where it got the Pharisees. Rather, what is needed is a paradigm change to grace.

Islam just offers more of the old.

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Just came across an old draft blog post and realized some of the content above I had actually fleshed out already. I now release that complementary draft here:

‘Jesus’ of the Quran is Without Meaning

Where you will find the following ruminations:

- The whole idea of sacrifice has roots deep in the Jewish/Mosaic tradition of atoning blood sacrifice for sins, where a life is given as a substitution for one’s sins. This tradition is non-existant in Islam. What meaning is there in Ibraham’s near-sacrifice of his son then?

- What is the significance and meaning of the virgin birth of Isa, if he is not meant to be a flawless redemptive sacrifice?

- The Islamic account merely mentions that Isa is the Al Masih, which is translated to ‘the Messiah’ (you can see the word similarities). Further than that, it is totally devoid of any deeper meaning. What is a ‘Masih’? What role does he fulfil?

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And as stated via Gates of Vienna:

One should be careful, therefore, not to make an implicit analogy between what one calls, with an expression that besides is quite superficial, the ‘three monotheisms.’ Islam is not to Christianity (not even to Christianity and to Judaism) what Christianity is to Judaism. Admittedly, in both cases, the mother religion rejects the legitimacy of the daughter religion. And in both cases the daughter religion turned on its mother religion. But on the level of principles, the attitude toward the mother religion is not the same. While Islam rejects the authenticity of the documents on which Judaism and Christianity are founded, Christianity, in the worst case, recognizes at least that the Jews are the faithful guardians of a text that it considers as sacred as the text which is properly its own. In this way, the relationship of secondarity toward a preceding religion is found between Christianity and Judaism and between these two alone.

IN FACT, even the Quran affirms that the New Testament is a confirmation of the Old Testament!

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. – Sura 5:46

See also another contrast, One Piece’s Neptune – A Kingly Sacrifice: Christian and Muslim Views… And an agreement, Walad and Ibn: Christianity Agrees With Islam, God Did Not Have a Son (Sexually).

What Door to Door Evangelists for Atheism Would Really Be Like

June 27, 12

STEP 1: Here’s the original cartoon that’s been making the rounds on the web:

Atheist Evangelists Cartoon

STEP 2: Compare what actual atheists are regularly noted for (hint: it’s not positively extolling the virtues of nonbelief, that’s for sure):

- Flinging ‘unholy water’ on a highway to negate a blessing
Put up signs mocking religion – on space for Nativity scenes… Which gets all displays banned (tipped by wits0).
Booking up as many display lots as possible – intentionally at Christmas and Hannukah time
‘De-baptizing’ people of holy water with a hair dryer
Offering porn in exchange for Bibles to declare that the Bible is worse
Threatening a lawsuit to force the removal of a landmark chapel from a city logo – because it has a cross
Put up a confrontational billboard, at Christmas of all times
More confrontational and mocking billboards, at Christmas and targeting Christmas themes
– Trying to get a historic cross landmark removed
– Succeeding in getting crosses that stood for decades on a municipal building removed by threatening lawsuits
– Getting free Bibles removed from hotel rooms
– Getting free Bibles removed from guest rooms
– Getting a coach ordered to stop leading team prayers
Threatening a restaurant which gives discounts for praying before meals
Threateneing a pizza joint which gives a discount for bringing in a church bulletin
– Trying to get a cross removed from police property… Even though the only guy who can actually see it doesn’t feel offended by it!
– Seemingly the majority of remarks left on a blog, comments section, message board or Twitter feed by atheists. Examples: ohTHATJesus Twitter feed, By The Book Comics.
– BONUS anti-Judaism… Demanding that the Star of David be barred from a Holocaust memorial!
– Among the most rabid hobbies of basically every single Communist regime which all just happen to be de-facto atheist. Examples: Leninist Russia, Stalinist USSR, Communist China, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, North Korea, Cuba, Calles’ Mexico, and overall list here.

STEP 3: Thus I submit my edit of the cartoon, to better reflect reality:

Atheist Evangelists Realistic Real Life Cartoon

As Ace says:

But one of the central planks of the Church of Atheism is that religion is inherently evil and causes you to behave like an a$$hole.

Well, that’s not true. Most religious people are as far away from a$$holery as is possible.

Sure, there are the always-present Some. Some are a$$holes. Sure.

But if it’s religion that’s causing all this illogic and anger and emotionalism and pettiness and spitefulness and general a$$holery, why is it so present among those who have no religion?

Ace, btw, is not a religious person – self described as atheist/agnostic – and is by no means a Christian.

And via AoSHQ, Dinesh D’Souza:

But if you think about it, this is an inadequate explanation, because if you truly believe that there is no proof for God, then you’re not going to bother with the matter. You’re just going to live your life as if God isn’t there.

What I’m getting at is that you have these people out there who don’t believe that God exists, but who are actively attempting to eliminate religion from society, setting up atheist video shows, and having atheist conferences. There has to be more going on here than mere unbelief.

And from Kurt Schlichter:

Tis The Season For Militant Atheists To Whine

The key is not to be a jerk – that goes for both the person sharing his views and the person hearing them.

But jerkiness is the difference between the decent guy who’s just not feeling the connection with the Lord and the smug militant atheist who thinks that putting a fish sticker with legs that says “Darwin” on his Prius is biting social commentary.

These atheist evangelicals aren’t satisfied not to believe. They think we need to not believe too. They seem to live under the bizarre misapprehension that if they are just rude enough to us believers, we’ll somehow unsee the light, put the scales back on our eyes and cast off our faith to embrace a life of spiritual emptiness.

The most annoying ones file lawsuits. Somebody wants to say a prayer before a Friday night high school football game in East Tumbleweed, Texas, and you can be sure some litigious twerp will allege that he is being subjected to the worst religious oppression since the Christians played the lions in the Colosseum.

And what Christmas and Hanukkah season would be complete without some friendless killjoy suing because a town decided to stick a cross and a menorah out in front of city hall? The sight of so many happy, content people seems painful to them. But then, have you even met a happy, content militant atheist? If so, what was the name of his unicorn?

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See also twin posts, Christianity Inspires Good in A Way Unbelief Cannot Emulate (serious) and Things That Are Highly Unlikely (Atheism vs Christianity) – Me on Twitter (snarky).

Conspiracy Theory: Is Anders Breivik Actually a Pro-Islam Agent?

June 25, 12

I’ve written on how Anders Breivik is a non-practising ‘Christian’ and how his usage of Scripture is entirely out of whack.

Now I’ll put myself in the mindset of conspiracy theorists and conjecture: Is Anders Breivik actually an agent provocateur for Islam?

Consider the following:

1) He claims to have carried out his shooting massacre in protest the colonization/conquest of Europe by Muslim immigrants. But who did he actually decide to kill? Not Muslims or immigrants, but Caucasians of irreligious/nominally Christian leanings.

2) He cites the Bible and argues his justification for killing. But his citations are out of context and way off, requiring incredible stretches and leaps of logic to fit his agenda. He acts nothing like a Christian, but ordinary Christians bear the brunt of the outraged backlash.

3) He claims his actions are to inspire the West to arouse from its slumber and begin resisting the ‘Muslim invasion’… But anyone with the slightest grasp of what gutless, spineless, milquetoast postmodern European sociopolitics is like (and Breivik claims to be all too aware of it) would know that an act like this would only arouse mass support for Islam, as well as give Muslim agitators potent ammunition in wringing out concessions to make up for the West’s ‘Islamophobia’.

So in one fell swoop, NO MUSLIMS ARE KILLED OR INJURED… But plenty of godless, immoral liberals lie dead. Those Islamophobic conservatives and crusader-spawn Christians take a major PR blow. And Muslims get a (for once) concrete reason for Western Politically Correct handwringing, groveling, apologizing and promises to make up to the Islamic world for the ‘hatred’ shown against their noble culture.

Even though no Muslims were actually hurt, or even directly ‘hated’, in Breivik’s attack.

However, I personally don’t believe that Anders Breivik is some sort of Islamophilic apologist for Muslims, carrying out an incredibly intricate and devious ploy to rouse public and political sympathy for Muslim immigrants (as if there wasn’t enough of that already).

How do we usually know that a terrorist attack (attempted or successful) is motivated by jihad? Their history is usually clearly marked by public proclamations of faith (e.g. Nidal Hassan‘s derision for his infidel coworkers); browsing of extremist and jihadist websites, chatrooms and message boards (e.g. many of the BUSTED terrorist wannabes that The Jawa Report regularly; and of course the telltale giveaway cries of “Allahu akhbar!” as they carry out their murder spree (e.g. Nidal Hassan again and countless others).

None of these markers were present in Anders Breivik, who spent his time polluting fascist chatrooms instead of jihadist ones. He did not ‘come out’ as a Muslim

Very seldom do we hear of a

That said, if Anders Breivik really does turn out to be a ‘secret Muslim supporter’ or a Muslim himself, then his ability to hide/fake his online history and plan out such a convoluted, Tom Clancy-esque strategy shows that is he is a cut above the rest.

Proven General Deliverables of Conservatism Would Influence Ideology

May 11, 12

Via AoSHQ, this snippet:

It is my belief that ideologies flourish not based upon argument or rhetoric, but when a party comes to power and then delivers the general deliverables. When a president or party is able to deliver objective goods, his ideology advances, not because people have become convinced by reason or rhetoric, but simply because they decide If they’ve got everything working smoothly, I guess that means they’re probably right about these ideological points they keep talking about, too.

This echoes with my own thinking, something I’d independently decided since my post A Short Pondering: Should a Christian Leader Impose Laws Based on Christian Standards?

I have come to the conclusion that a good solution to that problem, personally, would be: If I were to run for and become President, I would focus exclusively on jobs, the economy, energy, security etc (all the general deliverables) and would not focus on sociopolitical issues such as gay marriage, abortion, etc.

This doesn’t mean I don’t care about the latter – on the contrary, they are very crucial matters to me as a Christian.

However, my strategy would be along the lines of this passage:

I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? – John 3:12

Namely, I would deliver such an outstanding performance on the economy and so forth (as Reagan did), that the country would have to stop and ponder: Hey, this guy’s on to something. Could it be that his way of thinking (i.e. Conservatism, Christianity) is RIGHT about things?

The pondering would start on economic, physical, worldly things of course. But then, through association and osmosis, the pondering would lead to social, philosophical and even spiritual things.

The general public would already believe me on worldly issues, so they would be likelier to believe me on spiritual issues as well… The reverse of speaking of earthly things which people don’t believe.

To wit, the observable effectiveness of my worldly policies would convince people that my social/spiritual ideas probable are right too.

PS. Ace continues:

And I believe the contrary: Liberalism will suffer greatly due to Obama’s Miserable Failure, the same as it did under Jimmy Carter.

Which is proven, Obama’s amazing economic ineptness has caused more and more Americans to become Conservatives.

The Avengers – What Captain America Would Lament About Modern Society

May 7, 12

Firt up, great kudos to director Joss Whedon on a job well done – full of action, true to the characters, plenty of genuinely funny moments and quips, and without letting it end up overly focused on one character at the expense of others the way the Wolverine & His Backdrop Friends (aka the X-Men movies) did – credit to his comic nerditude and experience with ensemble casts (tip via AoSHQ)

Anyway, Joss Whedon had this to share, via Newsbusters:

One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, ‘Guys, we need to lose this.’ It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what’s happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that.

Let’s be realistic here… Would the average 1940s American WASP be more shocked by the loss of health care and welfare (things which were nowhere near as prevalent in that era compared to today – even FDR himself opposed welfare parasitism)?

Or would he rather be more shocked at the unprecedented influx of blasphemy, irreverence, cussing, faithlessness, anti-Christianity, and clamping down on public displays of religion?

Or the celebration of public disorder, breaking the law, violence, disrespect, laziness, and collusion with openly-acknowledged enemies of America ala the Occupy movement and modern liberalism in general?

Or the open acceptance (and even praise) of sexual mores like open homosexuality, casual sex, swinging, children by multiple fathers, single motherhood, children out of wedlock, divorce, serial remarriage, and a hundred thousand abortions a month nationally?

Shouldn’t be hard to imagine really, as so much inspiration was already taken from the Ultimates line, the script team was surely aware of Ultimate Cap’s culture shock reaction to the above:

- On potty mouths and nudity

- On incest

- On why one fights

- On quitting a fight

On the other hand, Whedon’s Captain America does have this to say:

There’s only one God ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.

In reference to Thor and Loki being Asgardian ‘gods’. Cap here seems to get that even if Thor really is a nigh-immortal Asgardian superhuman with control of lightning, that doesn’t mean that the Biblical God is disproven. Thor is merely an alien being identified with the Nordic legends.

This is a point that Ultimate Cap didn’t seem to get (or rather, the writers didn’t want to concede) – Ultimate Thor niggled him that it shouldn’t be a stretch to imagine since Cap goes to church every Sunday. Actually, if Cap really follows what is taught in church, it would preclude Thor’s claims to deity, rather than bolster them.

Christianity Inspires Good in A Way Unbelief Cannot Emulate

May 2, 12

When I tweeted a series sarcastically contrasting the how atheism and Christianity motivate (or doesn’t motivate ) people to do good, and resposted it on my blog, I had totally forgotten about my promise to try not to mock and belittle atheists.

Well, longtime commentor Ron pointed it out, and I had to admit my failing.

That said, the premise of my tweets and post is not rendered void. So here in this post, I will attempt to rephrase what I intended to say in a non-sarcastic, non-snarking manner.

————————————

It is often pointed out by polemics – especially those of the atheistic vein – that many bad things are done in the name of religion, or at least inspired by religion.

However, if religion is really so bad, then why is it still so prevalent even in our modern, scientific age of rationalism and humanism? Why hasn’t religion been disacarded as a force for evil, a detriment to human civilization and survival?

There are many competing and complementary explanations, but how about this – in all the self-smug polemics, critics forget that religion inspires people to do good in a way that secularism and atheism somehow do not.

For example, many a former drug addict or alcoholic who has reformed his ways – and even turned into a model citizen who works to rescue other from the same trap – attributes the change to realizing the existence of a loving and forgiving God.

Many a convict – hardened criminals, career lawbreakers, death-row inmates – has been so stricken with remorse upon discovering Jesus Christ that they renounced their former ways and transformed into a model prisoner, encouraging others to accept the love and forgiveness of God and humanizing an otherwise bleak and forlorn environment.

Many a suicidal person, distraught over the hopelessness and ennui of it all, has found new meaning and hope and joy in life after reading the Bible (or even a snippet of it in an evangelical tract), hearing a preacher’s message, or simply through the lovingkindness of Christ expressed through a believer.

Many an invidual has given up a safe home, a comfortable life, and a promising career in order to serve in (very often) religious or religiously-linked/inspired charities. Even if they do not personally head out to disease-infested wilds or poverty-stricken slums or wartorn battlegrounds to minister God’s love to the needy, at the very least they sacrifice their own hard earnings to support such work through church offerings or charities – the latter often inspired and named after well-loved parables and personalities of the Bible: Loaves & Fishes, Samaritan’s Purse, Barnabas Aid, Faith & Light, Our Father’s House.

Many a former prisoner of war – brutalized, dehumanized, pushed to the brink of death by their oppressors – has turned around and offered full, unconditional forgiveness to their torturers… Because of the example of Jesus and the Apostles so long ago and the countless saints and martyrs of the faith since.

Now take each of the above, and imagine replacing Christianity with the uncertainty of agnosticism or the blithe existentialism of atheism. Doesn’t quite work, does it?

For all talk that “If only people abandoned foolish and cruel religion, the world would be a better place!”, unbelief simply fails to provide a meaningful replacement.

Therefore I wager that religion – Christianity in particular – has been overwhelmingly a force that inspires good rather than evil. Hospitals, charities, legal and philosophical concepts, personal crusades, countless little decisions made every day – how much worse off the world would be without any number of institutions and effects inspired by Christianity! (And of course, if self-proclaimed Christians truly adhered to the teachings of the Bible and the example of Jesus, not one of them would ever commit evil – least of all in the name of God.)

And last but not least, it continues to be my personal belief that, whatever the Communist regimes were or were not – whether their gross atrocities against humanity were directly inspired by their de facto atheism or not – at the very least, their outright rejection of religion contributed to their ability to ignore and intentionally trample on human rights.

After all, when there is no God but man – when man makes his own ultimate morals, rules and laws – and when such commands as “Thou shall not murder” and “Love thy neighbor; love thy enemy” are tossed out along with all the other

Religion – no matter how illogical, scientifically baseless or outright absurd the teachings may be – has been the dam that for millenia held back the flood human evil from engulfing all of humanity.

See also What Door to Door Evangelists for Atheism Would Really Be Like.

Understanding of the Bible: Yourself vs Christians

April 27, 12

Here’s a quick four step plan to address any doubts or polemics preliminarily:

1) What is your understanding or interpretation of a certain passage in the Bible?

2) By contrast, what is the standard, mainstream Christian understanding, interpretation and application of that same passage?

3) Why do Christians hold to the above in 2)? It could involve context, cross comparison against other relevant parts of the Bible, over-riding or fulfilment, and 2000 years of studying, debating and really living the conclusions.

4) Taking note of 3) above, does this satisfy your original issue in 1)?


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