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

Trinity on Thursday – Trinitarian and Unitarian debate transcript

As promised the debate transcript PDF of last Thursdays posted debate is available today.

I really enjoyed listening to the debate on my journey back from the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast in south west Wales.

sanders

If you knew Fred Sanders you’d know how good a likeness this is – Click it to download the debate transcript PDF.

I highlight a section which really resonates with my thinking and often features in my discussions with fine muslim people. It drives me to say “if Jesus is not actually divine, then we have major problems with the text of the Bible”. True for discussions with muslims who generally reject the reliability of the Old and New Testaments and also true for discussions with unitarians who generally accept the reliability of the Old and New Testaments.

God’s Glory Kept for God by Doctrine of the Trinity
Let me say this: one of the consistent strands that I hear in Professor Buzzard’s entire approach is a concern for monotheism, for the one-ness of God and for the God-ness of God; the fact that God is a jealous God who doesn’t give his glory to another. Isaiah is full of this stuff: “There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior,” “There is none except me,” “Turn to me and be saved all the ends of the earth,” “I am God, there is no other,” “I have sworn by myself, the word has gone forth from my mouth in righteousness, it will not turn back,” “To me, every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” “They will say of me, ‘only in the Lord are righteousness and strength’,” “I am the Lord, that is my name, I will not give my glory to another.” This is the concern of the Bible: the unity of God, that jealous, “I will not give my glory to another,” one-ness of God.

The problem with the view of Jesus Christ presented by Socinianism (or Arianism) is that it takes all of God’s glory – all of his prerogatives, his being the one to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess – takes all of that and gives it to Jesus Christ. It takes the man Jesus Christ and puts him on the throne of God, in the driver’s seat of the universe, as the consummator of the covenant of God’s ways with the world. It hands all this over to a man. And at that point, when Muslims look at Christianity and misunderstand it – they look at Christianity and see it as Socinian – they say, “You just handed all the glory of God to a man, a mere man. You’re an associator; you’ve associated someone with God.” I submit that the only way out of that is if God doesn’t give his glory to another because the Son is not an “other;” not another being; not something else, but is God; God the Son.

Page 30-31 of this transcript.

Text on Tuesday – More ‘early church’ and less Text

Today I want to post a link to a lecture by Gerald Bray (Research Professor of Divinity, History and Doctrine at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University) on Tertullian and the Latin Church. This lecture was a bit of a slow start but turned out to be really excellent. So much became clear and fell into place for me – particularly in relation to some of the distinctive practices and dogmas of the Roman Catholic church.

By clicking the image below it will link to the website where I sourced the lecture for this post.

tertullian_001

Click to Play the MP3

This lecture was originally hosted at a wonderful theological resource; with classes and courses from basic to advanced – highly recommended.

biblical training

Click here for more of Gerald Bray and a million other lectures

 

 

Trinity on Thursday – Trinitarian and Unitarian Debate

Here is a debate hosted on a Unitarian (non and anti-trinitarian) website that took place sometime in the mid 2000’s between Professor Anthony Buzzard (real name) and Dr. Fred Sanders. Is God one person or three? The sound quality is not brilliant. There  is a transcript available somewhere and I will post that next week.

For image source go to donaldsweblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/follow-directions.html

Click the image for the debate