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

Text Tuesday – The Eichenwald Files – File 2

Re-blogging Dr. Michael J. Kruger’s second half of his rebuttal and exploration of the Eichenwald Newsweek article on the Bible.

The comments thread over there is extensive with Dr. Eichenwald contributing frequently, which is good to see. I recommend the comments section with a number of the links to other works and counter-arguments, for example Steve Hays.

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For source click the image

 

Here’s the beginning of Dr. Kruger’s work

On Christmas Eve, I wrote part one of my review of Kurt Eichenwald’s piece (see here), and highlighted not only the substantive and inexcusable litany of historical mistakes, but also the overly pejorative and one-sided portrait of Bible-believing Christians. The review was shared by a number of other evangelical sites and thinkers—including the Gospel Coalition, Tim Challies, Denny Burk, Michael Brown, and others—and ever since I have been digging out from under the pile of comments. I appreciate that even Kurt Eichenwald joined the discussion in the comments section.

But the problems in the original Newsweek article were so extensive that I could not cover them in a single post. So, now I offer a second (and hopefully final) installment.

False Claims about Christians Killing Christians

In an effort to portray early Christianity as divided and chaotic (not to mention morally corrupt), Eichenwald repeatedly claims that Christians went around murdering each other in droves. He states:

Those who believed in the Trinity butchered Christians who didn’t. Groups who believed Jesus was two entities—God and man—killed those who thought Jesus was merely flesh and blood…Indeed, for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus, groups adopted radically conflicting writings about the details of his life and the meaning of his ministry, and murdered those who disagreed. For many centuries, Christianity was first a battle of books and then a battle of blood.

Notice that Eichenwald offers no historical evidence about the mass killing of Christians by Christians within the first few centuries (we are talking about the pre-Constantine time period). And there is a reason he doesn’t offer any. There is none.

Sure, one can point to instances in the medieval period, such as the Inquisition, where Christians killed other Christians.  But, Eichenwald claims that Christianity began this way: “for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus.” This is another serious historical mistake that needs correcting.

When it comes to who-killed-who in the earliest centuries of the faith, it wasn’t Christians killing Christians.  It was the Roman government killing Christians.

Click here to get to the full article at Canon Fodder

Text Tuesday – The Eichenwald Files

Over the next number of Tuesdays I am going to reblog a number of posts that respond to the pre-Christmas Newsweek slammathon on the Bible and Christianity. Although it was the pre-Christmas edition, it’s theme of ‘Christians and their everyday reading of the Bible stink, like really badly’, is not just for Christmas. It seems that it is for life.

The extensive Newsweek piece (8500 words – 14 pages), labelled by many as Newsweak because it was so badly researched, biased, unbalanced and unrepresentative of widely available credible scholarship is actaully a wonderful encapsulation of what a lot of people believe already. Typically this is because they’ve heard someone say the same sort of things many, many times before or read them somewhere like Newsweek – typically in the pre-Christmas or easter edition. Ever noticed that coincidence of the publishing industry.

So looking at thoughtful, thorough responses can be a useful exercise for the open-minded and edifying for the Christian believer.

Think

Before I link to a response to the piece, here is the link to the article which is available online by clicking here.

Go there, let it confirm some of your own thoughts, biases or whatever but then give New Testament scholar Michael Kruger a hearing by clicking his name. It’s part one of two responses by him. He is thoughtful, generous and corrective where he needs to be. Enjoy.