Friday Fundamentals – Religion of Peace

Friday Fundamentals on a Saturday? Yes. Sorry.

I chat a bit with and about Muslims. Major point of discussion is the peaceful nature or otherwise of Islam. Not peaceful moments or movements with Islam and it’s most interesting history but the whole thing – a whole religion of peace.

Gordon Nickel, an exceptionally thoughtful and gentle Christian scholar on somethings Islamic had this to say in regard to this most sticky of questions. I appreciate the unfortunate truth about the arrow of Islamic history and the inconvenient direction it is pointing. Unfortunate for westerners who couldn’t possibly believe that the exotic other was anything other than a benign exotic other. Inconvenient to the same group because history undermines their wishful thinking and to the peace loving Muslims (there are millions of them) in the West who feel their religion is the most misunderstood religion on the planet, or at least with planetary aspirations.

Below is an excerpt from his essay at the National Post in Canada.

Find the whole the whole thing here – it is really worth it.

Conversely, warring Christians who accept the authority of the Gospel must deal with the apparent prohibition of violence in the teachings and life example of Jesus. This discussion has been going on among Christians at least since the Crusades, when critics were heard to say “that it is not in accordance with the Christian religion to shed blood in this way, even that of wicked infidels. For Christ did not act thus.

Within the Christian community, one interpretive option is to read the Hebrew scriptures through the prism of the Gospel. According to the Gospel, Jesus said that he had come not to abrogate the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Jesus then immediately replaced the law of retaliation with non-resistance, and commanded love for enemies (Matthew 5:17, 38, 39, 44). This way of dealing with difficult materials raises many questions, but it has allowed Christians to pursue pacifism while holding to the authority of the Hebrew scriptures.

Unfortunately, the Islamic principle of abrogation runs in the opposite chronological direction in relation to violence. Because the commands to fight and kill in the Koran are considered by Muslims to be among the recitations made very late in the life of the prophet of Islam — at a time when his conquest of Arabia was almost complete — Muslims scholars have been inclined to read the peaceful texts as subordinate to the later ones.

In other words, Muslims seeking to find a peaceful message in the Koran must fight not only the plain meaning of the Koran’s text and the current fashion for militancy, but also the arrow of Muslim history.

Interpreting the words of Muslim scripture so that they pose no threat to peaceful coexistence with non-believers thus seems a large challenge. In view of the high stakes in the world today, however, it is certainly a challenge worth taking up. Otherwise, Canadian proponents of multiculturalism will have a harder time arguing that traditional Islam is just another peaceful element in Canada’s multicultural quilt.

– Gordon Nickel has a PhD in the earliest commentaries on the Koran and teaches in British Columbia.

‘FIGHT IN THE WAY OF ALLAH THOSE WHO FIGHT YOU’

What follows are selected Koranic references to fighting and killing infidels.

– Baqara (2):190 – “And fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah those who fight you.”

– Baqara (2):193 – “Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s”

– Baqara (2):244 – “So fight (qaatiloo) in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing.”

– Nisaa’ (4):76 – “Those who are believers fight (yuqaatiloona) in the way of Allah, and the unbelievers fight in the idols’ way. So fight (qaatiloo) the friends of Satan; surely the guile of Satan is ever feeble.”

– al-Anfaal (8):39 – “Fight them (qaatiloohum), till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely.”

– al-Taubah (9):12 – “But if they break their oaths after their covenant and thrust at your religion, then fight (qaatiloo) the leaders of unbelief.”

– al-Taubah (9):29 – “Fight (qaatiloo) those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.”

– al-Taubah (9):123 – “O believers, fight (qaatiloo) the unbelievers (kuffaar) who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness (ghilza).”

– Baqara (2):191 – “And slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come upon them”

– Baqara (2):191 – “But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then if they fight you, slay them (aqtuloohum) — such is the recompense of unbelievers.”

– Nisaa’ (4):89 – “then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you find them”

– Nisaa’ (4):91 – “If they withdraw not from you, and offer you peace, and restrain their hands, take them, and slay them (aqtuloohum) wherever you come on them; against them we have given you a clear authority.”

– al-Taubah (9):5 – “Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay (aqtuloo) the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush.”

– Nisaa’ (4):74 – “So let them fight (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah who sell the present life for the world to come; and whosoever fights (yuqaatil) in the way of Allah and is slain, or conquers, we shall bring him a mighty wage.”

– Muhammad (47):4 – “When you meet the unbelievers, smite (darba) their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads.”

Compiled by Gordon Nickel

The Trinity on Thursday – Time, Trinity and Text

A common objection from some of my muslim friends is that the doctrine of the Trinity stems solely from one place in the Bible – 1 John 5:7.

John

In the King James version (KJV) of the Bible – there is a piece of text which is super trinitarian in its implications – except it shouldn’t be there. That’s why it is in the KJV as above but not in the New International Version (NIV) or most others for that matter. Many though not all Muslims think that this piece of text, this verse, is the sole reason Christians declare that God is Triune – Three co-eternal and co-equal persons in the one being of God. This is a strong objection.

Let’s think about that argument and it’s implications. It would mean that in the earliest centuries to support the errant teaching of the Trinity idea – someone inserted this bogus text into the Holy Bible. No insertion into the text and there would have been no Trinity and certainly no scriptural warrant for being trinitarian. But  the argument goes, it was inserted and that’s why we have the doctrine of the Trinity.

But this is simply not the case. The verse no where to be seen in any greek text, appeared in the body of the text no earlier than the 15th century and only as a margin note – a schema of understanding, a devotional piece some time before that. No where near the earliest centuries of the church. And the understanding of the divinity of the Son and the Spirt was emerging very early on in the christian community, being described at the end of the second century using the word Trinity. No where near the time of this textual insertion.

time

For source click the image

And another thing I am a trinitarian Christian because I seek to read the whole Bible fairly and carefully and I actually can’t say I have ever read this so called ‘only verse that leads to the Trinity understanding’. Go figure. No bogus verse and yet trinitarian.

See Dr. Dan Wallace’s scholarly treatment of this issue below or click here

“5:7 For there are three that testify, 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.”  ‑‑NET Bible

Before τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, the Textus Receptus reads ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. 5·8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ (“in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 5:8 And there are three that testify on earth”). This reading, the infamous Comma Johanneum, has been known in the English-speaking world through the King James translation. However, the evidence—both external and internal—is decidedly against its authenticity. Our discussion will briefly address the external evidence.1

This longer reading is found only in eight late manuscripts, four of which have the words in a marginal note.  Most of these manuscripts (2318, 221, and [with minor variations] 61, 88, 429, 629, 636, and 918) originate from the 16th century; the earliest manuscript, codex 221 (10th century), includes the reading in a marginal note which was added sometime after the original composition. Thus, there is no sure evidence of this reading in any Greek manuscript until the 1500s; each such reading was apparently composed after Erasmus’ Greek NT was published in 1516. Indeed, the reading appears in no Greek witness of any kind (either manuscript, patristic, or Greek translation of some other version) until AD 1215 (in a Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council, a work originally written in Latin). This is all the more significant, since many a Greek Father would have loved such a reading, for it so succinctly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity.2 The reading seems to have arisen in a fourth century Latin homily in which the text was allegorized to refer to members of the Trinity.  From there, it made its way into copies of the Latin Vulgate, the text used by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522) because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared (1516), there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek manuscripts that included it. Once one was produced (codex 61, written by one Roy or Froy at Oxford in c. 1520),3 Erasmus apparently felt obliged to include the reading. He became aware of this manuscript sometime between May of 1520 and September of 1521. In his annotations to his third edition he does not protest the rendering now in his text,4 as though it were made to order; but he does defend himself from the charge of indolence, noting that he had taken care to find whatever manuscripts he could for the production of his Greek New Testament. In the final analysis, Erasmus probably altered the text because of politico-theologico-economic concerns: he did not want his reputation ruined, nor his Novum Instrumentum to go unsold.

Modern advocates of the Textus Receptus and KJV generally argue for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum on the basis of heretical motivation by scribes who did not include it. But these same scribes elsewhere include thoroughly orthodox readings—even in places where the TR/Byzantine manuscripts lack them. Further, these KJV advocates argue theologically from the position of divine preservation: since this verse is in the TR, it must be original. But this approach is circular, presupposing as it does that the TR = the original text. Further, it puts these Protestant proponents in the awkward and self-contradictory position of having to affirm that the Roman Catholic humanist, Erasmus, was just as inspired as the apostles, for on several occasions he invented readings—due either to carelessness or lack of Greek manuscripts (in particular, for the last six verses of Revelation Erasmus had to back-translate from Latin to Greek).

In reality, the issue is history, not heresy: How can one argue that the Comma Johanneum must go back to the original text when it did not appear until the 16th century in any Greek manuscripts? Such a stance does not do justice to the gospel: faith must be rooted in history. To argue that the Comma must be authentic is Bultmannian in its method, for it ignores history at every level.  As such, it has very little to do with biblical Christianity, for a biblical faith is one that is rooted in history.

Significantly, the German translation done by Luther was based on Erasmus’ second edition (1519) and lacked the Comma. But the KJV translators, basing their work principally on Theodore Beza’s 10th edition of the Greek NT (1598), a work which itself was fundamentally based on Erasmus’ third and later editions (and Stephanus’ editions), popularized the Comma for the English-speaking world. Thus, the Comma Johanneum has been a battleground for English-speaking Christians more than for others.

Unfortunately, for many, the Comma and other similar passages have become such emotional baggage that is dragged around whenever the Bible is read that a knee-jerk reaction and ad hominem argumentation becomes the first and only way that they can process this issue. Sadly, neither empirical evidence nor reason can dissuade them from their views. The irony is that their very clinging to tradition at all costs (namely, of an outmoded translation which, though a literary monument in its day, is now like a Model T on the Autobahn) emulates Roman Catholicism in its regard for tradition.5 If the King James translators knew that this would be the result nearly four hundred years after the completion of their work, they’d be writhing in their graves.


11For a detailed discussion, see Metzger, Textual Commentary, 2nd ed., 647-49.

2Not only the ancient orthodox writers, but also modern orthodox scholars would of course be delighted if this reading were the original one. But the fact is that the evidence simply does not support the Trinitarian formula here—and these orthodox scholars just happen to hold to the reasonable position that it is essential to affirm what the Bible affirms where it affirms it, rather than create such affirmations ex nihilo. That KJV advocates have charged modern translations with heresy because they lack the Comma is a house of cards, for the same translators who have worked on the NIV, NASB, or NET (as well as many other translations) have written several articles and books affirming the Trinity.

3This manuscript which contains the entire New Testament is now housed in Dublin. It has been examined so often at this one place that the book now reportedly falls open naturally to 1 John 5.

4That Erasmus made such a protest or that he had explicitly promised to include the Comma is an overstatement of the evidence, though the converse of this can be said to be true: Erasmus refused to put this in his without Greek manuscript support.

5 Thus, TR-KJV advocates subconsciously embrace two diametrically opposed traditions: when it comes to the first 1500 years of church history, they hold to a Bultmannian kind of Christianity (viz., the basis for their belief in the superiority of the Byzantine manuscripts—and in particular, the half dozen that stand behind the TR—has very little empirical substance of historical worth). Once such readings became a part of tradition, however, by way of the TR, the argument shifts to one of tradition rather than non-empirical fideism. Neither basis, of course, resembles Protestantism.

See also a follow up piece of Dr. Wallace’s here.

Friday Fundamentals – ISIS

Muslim-Brotherhood-Caliphate-Coming-GBTV-620x405

If you wonder how ISIS can appear so serious about Islam?

If you wonder why ISIS kills so easily?

If you wonder why ISIS is killing more Muslims than Christians?

If you wonder why Muslims all over the western world condemn ISIS?

Read this article by Graeme Wood. I encourage you not to rail against it but to consider it. I don’t agree with all his conclusions but I have encountered similar Muslim ideology on the streets of London and actually meet Anjem Choudary in an east London coffee house. Met, said hello, shook hands and that was it. It’s a longer story but not as sinister as it sounds.

Over the years, a number, quite a number in fact, of Muslims doing street faith sharing, Dawah, calling people to Islam, in answer to questions about the killing or subjugation of non believers, always cited the lack of the rule of a Caliph, the existence of a Caliphate as the reason, Muslims generally lived at peace in the West. It was a matter of timing and they and I never expected that that would change in our lifetimes. Legitimate or not, this ISIS Caliphate is making waves. Let’s hope it won’t be a Tsunami. Before you say I am over reacting, I must say that I never thought we would see some of the things happening in European cities as have happened in the last year. I hope and pray for a de-escalation of this wave of one of the forms of Islam. But the time for being naive is coming to an end. ISIS is certainly a form of Islam, thankfully not the majority form. But it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog that counts. That’s and unfortunate metaphor, considering Muhammad, the muslim’s role model, relationship to dogs.

I will post an excerpt and encourage you to read the whole thing. Remember reassurance and denial will only work if there is nothing to worry about.

Here is an excerpt ……

According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”

All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

For the whole thing click here.

Friday Fundamentals – Dogma and Fear

Recently we have seen, both the threat of violence and the denunciation of that violence from the same source. Islamic believers. Different Islamic believers, I hasten to add but the common denominator is most definitely Islam.

The threat and/or manifestation of such violence and the correspondent denunciation of violence does two things for Islam. It expands the place of Islam at the table of civil discourse. This place is maintained because of the denouncement of violence and the general ‘religion of peace‘ vibe but this place is actually strengthened because of the threat or actualisation of violence.

I am not suggesting that the actors who violate and the actors who denounce the violation are in cahoots. I am just noting the obvious – Islam is in no way harmed and is in fact only helped by it having a minority – only numbering in the hundreds of millions as opposed to billions,  thus making it a minority  – who will threaten violence and a smaller number who will bring to fruition the rotten threat.

I have to say that what I am proposing only applies to western, liberal, secularising democracies. A government dominated by Hindu nationalists for example will tend to see the world of Islam differently and time will tell, though our confirmed liberals may never be able to tell for dogmatic reasons, how accurate the Hindu view is or isn’t.

So why does this strengthening of the place at the table occur? There are a couple of reasons. In the western, liberal, secularising democracies, the denunciation from some of the Islamic community is what those at the table want and need to hear. Need to hear – if they are to remain in any way confident about a possibly peaceful future. But also they are glad to hear and entertain it because to consider a lack of denunciation and it’s implications would be too nightmarish. Nightmarish – both in terms of future possible events but more immediately because it would challenge the very foundation of their non-negotiable assumptions about the world.

The liberal worldview posits the view that ‘others‘, like muslims, real muslims don’t and so the dogma goes, can’t actually pose any threat to anyone in anyway. The counterpart to this underestimation is the overestimation of who can be an actual threat – an enemy of the state. There is an enemy within – those still holding too firmly to the Judeo-Christian perspective. The Christians, real Christians, are alas not ‘other’ enough. Christianity is the mother, father, and forbear to the western, liberal, and now through mutation, secularising democracy. And like so many children in this age of individualism, the child has grown to hate it’s parent, it’s past, it’s heritage. Now the sole enemy is the dark shadow of the West’s previous self. At the table, the liberals look soley at their forebears with suspicion. Generally speaking, everyone else gets a free pass. There are no enemies without, only enemies within. The shameful, historical, hegemonic, did I say shameful, colonizers are the Christians. Muslims, gays and the new kids on the block, the transgenders are their victims. All new arrivals are innocent. Not by proof but by dogma.

denial

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The dogma of seeking to accept and value ‘the other’ without prejudice and critique is both an ideal of brilliance and strength but fast becoming the fatal flaw of the Western liberal society. Consequently, at the table of civil discourse, Islam, no matter what happens, good or bad, near or far, gets a free pass, gets to drape itself in the flag of victimhood and those at the table gather round it, puts their arm gingerly around its shoulder and gives a look of unqualified, supportive comfort.
I have no objection to some support and comfort and there is certainly much good that comes from the world of Islam; but it’s the unqualified, uncritical, liberally dogmatic approach to Islam that is objectionable, to my mind. Objectionable, unwise and almost certainly unsafe.
But let’s get back to the table. The assertion is made that the place of peaceful Muslims at the table of civil society is actually strengthened by there being Muslims that threaten, kill or just express support for threateners and killers. Dogma aside, what else is at play that strengthens Islam’s place at the table? Fear. Clear and simple.
Non-Muslims at the table are actually, counter-intuitively, frightened of Muslims in general, and especially of the killing kind. This is primarily because they can’t quite fully bring themselves to trust Islam; the religion which lies behind both types of Muslims frequently on the minds of western people – the good Muslims and the bad ones. The good ones thankfully outnumber the bad ones. By the way, all this good and bad descriptors are not necessarily Islamic descriptors but common sense desciptors. But these descriptors are fluid in regard to at least the persons being referred to. Sadly, there are now too many examples of those men and now women, from stable, well resourced, peaceful Muslim families and communities who have turned into the other kind of Muslim. The killing kind. Yes, thankfully a minority. But regrettably growing in numbers and now increasingly even challenging the peaceful Muslims to the point of death, to engage in war against the infidels – the un, non and dis-believers. The non-muslim is not even a muslim and then there’s the wrong kind of muslim – off with all their heads! Just like in the good old days.
Fear of any community or group can have the same effect as living, working or schooling with a bully. You give them a wide berth when you can and more room when you have to. They end up with getting their requirements met more easily and more often than others. Why is this? Because people are afraid of the consequences of not playing ball. Not playing ball, paying appropriate respect, not giving up what you thought was your reasonable entitlement, has consequences. Negative consequences.
Threats from one member of a family eases the way for other family members. Whether this is desired or not. Threats and violence even when denounced, still have a direct effect at the everyday table of generally peaceful people. There is a subconsious effect on all and a conscious effect on some at the table.
fear table

For source – click image

Even at the table of light entertainment and sarcastic, cynical comedy, comedians don’t mock Muhammad or Islam. This is never out of respect and always out of fear. The brave ones, as one might call them on a very generous day, even admit this. Jimmy Carr – equally foul-mouthed and foul-minded, a man who wastes his God-given talents of wit and charisma – says on stage that his will to live prevents him making any kind of jokes which offend the person of Muhammad and then shows a cartoon of Jesus being …. I can’t actually finish this sentence. It’s so offensive. Jesus is my saviour and the Son of God. Jimmy Carr’s Saviour and the Son of God.
But Jimmy doesn’t respect or fear me as a Christian. He’s right not to fear me. Actually he doesn’t respect Muslims either but he does fear them. Not just the killing kind. But the book burning kind. Jimmy sells books and DVDs by the truckload. He really doesn’t want to spend his summer holidays with Salman Rushdie.
So dogma and fear combine to give peaceful Muslims a place of disproportionate strength and influence at the table of civil discourse; whether they want it or not, whether they dispise or regret this mechanism or not. Many, I’m sure regret this mechanism. It may be unislamic according to their brand of Islam but it is beyond their control. It just happens. It cannot not happen. The liberal uncritical dogmaticians with one eye closed permanently to the bad and the other eye optimistically open to the good lean in to ensure for Islam a place at the table (that’s good) and then automatically, unknowingly, expand that space and increase the deference for Islam (that’s bad). Dogma may be foundational but it is fear that is formative.
fear

For source – click image

Friday Fundamentals – Part 1

Offense. Free speech. Sensitivities. Critique. Limits. Respect.

Fine-Line

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There is a fine line between causing offense and intentionally causing offense. This fine line is not always recognised. Partly, because the incidental offence and intentional offense can seem very different things. But this is not so in practice and in partcular in practice over time. When you have caused offense once, usually incidentally – you did not mean to though you actual did – and you become aware of it, if you then choose to reiterate your propsotion or position and it causes offense again, you are then causing offense incidentally and intentionally to some degree. Because you are committed to your position and prize that and its free expression over the feelings of another being protected, you are now knowingly offending because you have to and choose to.

The broad gap between intention and non intention narrows and the fine line is now in place. Frequently, to those who are offended it as if it is not there at all. The distinctions are of no importance. You had a chance not to offend, perhaps by remaining silent or by changing your position but you didn’t. You failed to comply with anothers needs or demands. You cause offence knowingly (intentionally) because you still hold and re-state your position (incidental effect).

And so we see this tension played out in the world today – propositions portrayed (cartoons), offense caused, and cries of foul play, disrespect, dishonour and death can follow. That trajectory is not guaranteed. Thankfully, most of the offended (in the west)  just feel very hurt and outraged and hope compliance with their needs to become someone elses, even everyone elses priority. Precious few of the offended (in the west) reign death over the populace.

Reposition this last set of statements outside the west to somewhere like the middle east or generally any country where Islamic ideology and religion hold great sway and we see the hurt and outrage expressed much more potently resulting in a thousand ‘deaths’. Like a thousand cuts, each death looks different from another. Harassment, imprisonment, lashes, false or even truthful claims of blasphemy can lead to, you’ve guessed it, actual death. Be it hanging or be it beheading.

The level of moderation called for and displayed here in the west by the offended, should be applauded I guess – it certainly should not be taken for granted. It’s ironic  to see the self described religion of peace calling its faithful not to be violent in the face of offense. I guess it should rebrand itself the ‘religion of peace if things are going our way’. Certainly more honest but less attractive when sloganeering. But these calls for moderation are rarely seen in the Islamic-ish world. Ish is a word we use particularly in London to say kind of. For example, I had a friend who came from a kind of Amish background, so he was in fact Amish-ish. I am using the term Islamic-ish world because I have been educated so many times by thoughtful muslims that those countries where chaos and cruelty seems to rise up so quickly and engulf, swallow and literally destroy minority non muslim people and more recently people groups are not actually Islamic – or even Islamic-ish. “That person was not acting islamic / that group was not acting islamic / that country was not being islamic”. Islam gets to play the get out of jail free card again and again and again and ……

One is always asked to trust and believe that the Islamic vision, the western born or based muslim  desires and plans for, here in the UK for example, will look nothing like it looks in the muslim majority regions of the world. The non muslims here will be treated well, protected by and through Sharia; unlike the experience of non muslims in majority muslim countries. Being asked to trust this is a very big ask indeed. It seems clear that where big groups of muslim people get big power, the less powerful become the almost powerless, sometimes quickly but always certainly, over time.

What occurs in the muslim majority countries will occur here if the conditions allow it. How could it not? The primary condition is numbers. Simply numbers. Numbers and allegiance rule. Numbers and allegiance are ruling in France today – the secular free speech ideology currently reigns but what about tomorrow? Demography dictates destiny. Muslims in a very wonderful way think in spans of centuries. It matters little if the numbers in France are inadequate to influence or force sharia type compliance right now. The hope and intention for muslim leadership is that it will one day. The average muslim may not be so aware of this but it’s so obvious. All religions who draw their offspring immediately into their religion have a vested interest in ensuring the proliferation of offspring. Islam anyone? Roman Catholicism anyone?

As the numbers grow the powerful and abrasive rise and use fear, and force when fear fails, to ensure compliance – firstly within the faith community and then when the numbers are right, throughout the non-faith community.

Wherever the numbers are up, power is sought, held and used. And suffering follows. Proportionate to where one stands in relation to the ideology in power, is the harm that will befall them. Close and safe. Far and dangerous. No protection just punishment.

If you want to know what a western majority muslim country will look like for non muslims 20 years into its emergence – think Pakistan, think even Saudi. Sure it will be so different but it will be so terrible for the infidel. That’s you and me, probably. It’s supposed to be.

I am not trying to scare monger – at least not intentionally. Perhaps it’s incidental. People die everyday due to the emerging or some might say re-emerging Islamic desire to take hold, take power and takeover. Muslims are often the greatest victims in terms of numbers – for not being the right kind of muslim – the super compliant kind or the correct tribal kind. Next, it’s the non muslims – Christians and others. Particulary spiteful is the response to the most vulnerable of minorities,  the apostate – the leaver – of Islam. Now a Christian or a buddhist or an atheist. Now an embarrassment, a disgrace, a dishonour and invariably a death.

When you think about Islam – remember your lovely neighbour, the lovely shopkeeper, the lovely doctor but also remember to think globally and historically. Your lovely neighbour, shopkeeper and doctor will also have to think globally and historically at some stage, whether they want to or not. Someone, a particular type of muslim, is going to make them. Actually, they are currently seeking to make them. The challenges from the world’s most contradictory and conflicted religion are coming to all of us – muslims and infidels. We may just be able to discern this, but so many of our dear muslim friends seem incapable of comprehending that this is even possible. Not with Islam. Couldn’t be. Ce n’est pas possible. Full circle.

Text Tuesday – Bible & Qur’an

I had the privilege of watching a live stream of the fascinating debate between Dr. Shabir Ali and Jay Smith – held in Toronto Canada last week. Fascinating because of the aterial questioning the widespread claims of muslims that the Qur’an was sent down, is unchanged and that the Qur’an of today is the Qur’an of yesterday.

Dr. Ali shocked us all by sidestepping the material and it could be said appeared to concede a number of matters rasied by Jay Smith and spent a huge amount of his main presentation time talking about the extraordinary numerology associated with the Qur’an or at least a particular version/reading of it.

I hope to link to it soon so you can peruse. In the meantime here is an argument that has some weight to it. I might have made some points differently but none the less there are some good questions here that require answering.

Text Tuesday – Ten problematic red letters

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 There is a method of marking out Jesus’ words in Bible publications. They are printed in red. This method is only sometimes used. On the positive side, it makes his words easier to spot and quite convenient when scanning through a page quickly. However it has its downsides. Some chrsitians have begun to elevate these red letter words above the black letter words. We can then lose context and fail to see the rest of scripture as of equal value.

I attended an exciting evening of friendly christian-muslim discussion and debate in London last night. One of the thoughts that came out from the muslim perspective was a general though not complete acceptance of the red letter words of Jesus in the Gospels. Many though not all. This is not too surpirsing because many of the sayings and teachings of Jesus would be happily endorsed by almost every religious group in the world. His teachings on love, justice, sacrifice and service are unparraleled but yet universal. Hence their attractiveness. So I understand that my muslim friends (like Hindus and Buddhists) would be very accepting of much but not all of the actual spoken words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.

But I took a few minutes today to just scan through one of the gospels – Matthew – and see a few of the things my muslim friends ceratinly could not accept because of a message from 600 years after Jesus that they have an allegiance to. I think I can hear a couple of muslim friends saying “no problem” to one or two of these. But an honest reading and a sense of their meaning in the original context should deflate any such aspirations. But I do accept them because long before an ostensibly good man in a cave brought to those outside the cave, a message so contrary to Christianity, the black letters and the red letters of the Gospels were part of the literature of the world – that’s the parts that the good man in the cave would like and those he wouldn’t. I must accept them all.

10 problematic statements of Jesus (red letter) for our muslim friends:

  1.  “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27
  2.  Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:5-8
  3. He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:39-42
  4. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. Matthew 13:40-43
  5. Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:10
  6. The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. Matthew 17:22-23
  7. We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! Matthew 20:18-19
  8. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28
  9.  But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee. Matthew 26:32
  10. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20