Belief and reason: What has Athens (Plato) to do with Jerusalem (Isaiah)? Stacks

A Jew called Concerned Reader asked me on another blog: “Shouldn’t faith be reasoned, and based on a comprehension of the covenant G-d made with Israel? As opposed to just a belief?”

Let’s consider reason without bringing God or religion into it. It is not, logically, possible to use reason to prove that it is rational. Without faith/trust in your reason, you end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe. Most human beings refuse to accept this logic. An illogical person will say he reasons well without having faith in his reason.

With regard to the relationship between reason and belief in the God of the Bible (Tanach and New Testament), this God chooses to reveal Himself to humanity. As with Abram, so with every one who accepts God. God of his good pleasure sovereignly, therefore, unilaterally, chose to reveal himself to Abram. No one knows why he revealed himself to Abram, to his progeny and later to the Israelites, or to any one else. “And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’” (Exodus 33:19).

In the scriptures, reason (thought) is the tool God gives us to understand WHO He is; not THAT he is (exists). The revelation at Sinai was a special gift of God’s generosity (mercy, grace) revealing what reason couldn’t discover. The first verse of Genesis says “In the beginning, God…” God’s existence in the Bible is a given (not a “taken”).

The following sounds crazy to most Jews. “I believe that I may understand” (Augustine of Hippo). The Hebrew prophets, indeed, all godly people in the Tanach, would agree with Augustine.

Jews have too much faith in their reason. Many of them believe that reason is all they need to find God. They want to be Jewish Platos (chollile), when in fact they are, as the Tanach emphasises play dough – not play things – in the hand of God.
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Do Muslims hate only Zionists; or do they hate all Jews? Because they are commanded to imitate if not ape the Qur’an?

The Imam of the Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayis, said in one of his sermons:
Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today: infidels, falsifiers of words, calf worshippers, prophet murderers, deniers of prophecies … the scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs… These are the Jews – an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption .
..” (Contemporary Islamist Ideology Authorizing Genocidal Murder).

The Muslim’s intense hatred of the Jew did not originate with the Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, but with Allah. In three places in the Qur’an, Allah refers to Jews as monkeys and/or pigs. For example: 2:65 And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath. We said to them: “Be apes—despised and hated by all” (Trans. Maududi).

Ibn Ishaq, an early and reliable biographer of Muhammad, writes that Muhammad called the Medinan Jewish clan, Qurayzah, “brothers of monkeys.” Did Muhammad mean this figuratively? The Iranian Medieval commentator Razi said the appearances of the Jews were changed, but they kept their human minds. Maududi says that in the original Arabic: “The words of the Qur’an … indicate that it was… a physical metamorphosis.” Whether literal or figurative, this does not affect the fact that Muhammad and company hated Jews; they thought he was a very confused Gentile.

The Qur’an says: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Surah 9:29).

In sum, the Islamic hatred of the Jew did not originate with Zionism but with Allah/Muhammad. To be faithful to the Qur’an, a Muslim must believe and imitate – if not “ape” – every word of it: hate Jews.

James White: It’s sad that most Muslims believe in violence and harshness against unbelievers. Sad yes, but is it true?

It’s sad that most Muslims believe in violence and harshness against “unbelievers,” But is it true?

James White’s “Dividing line” podcast of 17 Feb 2015 was on the latest ISIS video wherein Coptic Christians were beheaded and criticisms of his article on the issue that he was “soft on Islam (minute 13).

Here are a few relevant excerpts from his article Breaking the Cross, Killing the Swine: Truly Thinking About ISIS and the Murder of 21 Copts:

“Oh sure, I know some of them are doing it just because they love murder and bloodshed and evil.  But some of them do it because they really believe Muhammad was a prophet and that Muhammad showed them the way the day he and his cohorts did exactly what they did on that beach…not to 21 Christians but to between 400 and 900 Jews of the Banu Qurayza tribe. (See here for a more in-depth discussion of this event in Muhammad’s life). Now, I am well aware of the fact that Islamic apologists say this was a just act because the Jews had, allegedly, betrayed Muhammad in the Battle (or, non-battle, in a more realistic sense) of the Trench (AD 627).  But the reality is that Muhammad was a man of war, not a man of peace. You are changed when you personally behead someone.  The blood may wash off the hands, but it is not washed out of the mind.  Muhammad died in 632, so this was done toward the end of his life.  The progression of his life was from peaceful monotheistic prophet to warring leader and general, not the other way around.  Add in the doctrine of abrogation and you can see why the scholars of Al Qaeda and ISIS and Boko Haram have plenty of material to draw from in forming their theology.  They teach that the later revelations abrogate earlier ones (such as the later command not to consume alcohol abrogates the earlier commands which allowed it even though in moderation).  Sadly, that means the later sections of the Qur’an, which contain the warfare passages, are considered by most (not all) Muslims in the world to be more authoritative than the peaceful passages that came earlier.”

One Muslim site says abrogation only refers to abrogation of scriptures previous to the Qur’an such as the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. On the contrary, the Qur’an says Muslims should accept the scriptures as divine revelation.

“And in their footsteps, We sent Issa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) confirming the Taurat (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurat (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqun” (the pious – see V.2:2). S. 5:46 Al-Hilali & Khan; cf. S. 57:27.

“He [Jesus] said, “Lo, I am God’s servant; God has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet.” S. 19:30 Arberry.

“It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you (Muhammad SAW) with truth, confirming what came before it. And he sent down the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).” S. 3:3 Al-Hilali & Khan. (See more here).

Another problem with the Islamic idea of the eternality of the Qur’an is its doctrine of “abrogation,” which it says is not abrogation. What else can this verse mean?

Surah 2:106

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (“We” is the “royal we”).

The problem is that if the Qur’an has been residing in the bosom of the all-knowing, all-perfect, all-good Allah from all eternity, why would it contain a plethora of substitutions of something better, which implies change, becoming, time-bound. I am reminded of the open theist whose God is not totally free but merely reacts to human decisions, and arranges his thoughts and actions accordingly.

Examples from the Qur’an: 1. Allah decrees that Muslims are not allowed more than four wives. Later the revelation comes down of something better for Mohammed who ends up with 9 wives or more. 2. Mohammed desires his adopted son-in-law’s wife, but feels this desire wrong. Then something better comes down and says something better – not in the vein of the Joseph-Mary incident – when Allah reveals to Mohammed that it’s ok to take this woman to wife. (See Abrogadabra in the Qur’an: Abrogation and/or substituting something for something better).

There are many more “something betters” in the Qur’an, one of them being most relevant:

When Muhammad was in Mecca outnumbered by unbelievers, he following words “came down”: Say: ‘O unbelievers, I serve not what you serve and you are not serving what I serve, nor am I serving what you have served, neither are you serving what I serve To you your religion, and to me my religion!’ Surah 109 Al-Kafiroon “disbelievers.”).

When Muhammad’s followers were powerful enough to defeat those with a differenT religion, the following revelation came down:

O believers, the idolaters are indeed unclean; so let them not come near the Holy Mosque after this year of theirs. If you fear poverty, God shall surely enrich you of His bounty, if He will; God is All-knowing; All-wise. Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God 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. The Jews say, ‘Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the Son of God.’ That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted! They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords apart from God, and the Messiah, Mary’s son — and they were commanded to serve but One God; there is no god but He; glory be to Him, above that which they associate with Him.” (Surah 9:28-31).

White said above: Sadly, (italics added) that means the later sections of the Qur’an, which contain the warfare passages, are considered by most (not all) Muslims in the world to be more authoritative than the peaceful passages that came earlier.”

Yes, it’s sad; indeed, frightening. But true.

White says “not all” Muslims agree that this surah is more authoritative than the peaceful passages. Two points: first Islamic law would consider these dissenters as apostates – they probably live in the West where they are safe from being killed; second, it’s not a question of which text is more authoritative, it’s a question of which one abrogrates the other. In Europe and the US, where Muslims are vastly outnumbered, they emphasise, according to the rules of their game, “to you your democracy.” If they are true to their Book, they look forward to the day when they will be powerful enough to replace democracy with autocracy, with Sharia law.

White says he is not soft on Islam, and refers to his many debates and books in which he demonstrates – admirably – the flaws in Qu’ranic theology. When, though, it comes to violence, there are, for White ,“radical” Islam and (non-radical) Islam. Al Mohler makes the same distinction (see Al Mohler” Islamic theologies and extremism).

In his podcast (minute 21:30), White mentions the denunciation of Isis by Islamic scholars. It is true, as White says, that ISIS kills 10 Muslims for every one Muslim, therefore it is understandable that many Muslims denounce ISIS. This denunciation, however, does not prove, who is more faithful to Qur’an and the Hadiths. And that should be the point when discussing the violence of ISIS. In this regard, White, in his article, says:

“The fact is that the sources from which Islam derives its theology and practice are radically incompetent to provide a means of self-correction and consistency.  You can, by choosing your scholars and sources carefully, construct a peaceful construct in which to interpret the Qur’an and hadith.  At the height of Islamic civilization, that is what was done.”

Surely, Allah was not that unclear. “In the Qur’an, writes David Wood, Allah claims to be perfectly clear in his commands (see 6:114; 11:1; 12:1; 15:1; 16:89; 22:72; 24:1, 34, 46; 26:2; 27:1; 28:2; 36:69; 41:3; 57:9; 65:11; etc.). Yet when critics quote the Qur’an, many Muslims insist that Allah means something very different from what he says. This should cause us to wonder: Is Allah’s speech clear, or is it horribly unclear? Could Allah be the the worst communicator ever? (See the video Is Allah the Worst Communicator Ever? (David Wood).

White says in his podcast (minute 27:30) it is time to distinguish between Muslims. Ok, let’s do it. There are Muslims who love Islam but hate all the horrible stuff in the Qur’an and Hadiths like killing unbelievers, chopping off feet and hands, beating wives (that is, “tapping them on the shoulder with a light toothbrush” – David Wood), prohibiting the odd tipple – Jasser says he doesn’t drink not because the Imams say so but because he wants to please Allah – and want democracy and a separation between religion and the state, for example, Zuhdi Jasser, who writes Islam needs to shuck off “the ossified precepts of salafism, Wahhabism, Islamism, and various pre-modern identifications of eastern Muslim culture. With that challenge we pray that an awakening – possibly very similar to the modernization of the West, which ushered in “enlightenment” – may occur within the consciousness of Muslims everywhere, forever separating spiritual Islam or the domain of God (faith) from the domain of government and the state (reason). “The War of Ideas”: Comment on the debate between Zuhdi JasJasser (American Islamic Forum for Democracy) and Imam Ahmad Shqeirat on “Does Islam need reform and if so, how?

White says in his podcast (minute 43) perhaps there are some Muslims who will be disgusted with ISIS killing the Copts and may decide to study Christianity. But he also said ISIS is “radical” Islam. So why would Muslims who are disgusted want to know what Christians really believe rather than what Muslims “really” believe?

In a debate between Zhudi Jasser and Robert Spencer, Jasser distinguishes betweeen Islam, which is good, and Isamism, which is bad. Spencer says, “Islamist” is an “artifical Western construct. We have to let the Qu’an and islamic jurisprudence say what it is; not moderates, nor Bin laden, nor ISIS. Wage war on unbelievers, subdue them etc . Here is a small sample of immodrate passages in the Qur’an.

Surah 2:191-193: “And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.”

4:34: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that Allah has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for Allah’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; Allah is All-high, All-great.”

4:89: “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”

5:33: “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.”

5:38: “And the thief, male and female: cut off the hands of both, as a recompense for what they have earned, and a punishment exemplary from Allah; Allah is All-mighty, All-wise.”

8:12: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, “˜I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers” hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!–

8:39: “Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things they do.”

8:60: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.”

9:5: “Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”

9:29: “Fight 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.”

9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.”

9:123: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing.”

47:4: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite 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. So it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works astray.”

Here is the son of a Hamas leader:

“Wherever I go in the world, people ask me about ISIS. And I advise them to ignore the endless debates about the peaceful versus violent nature of Islam and take a long, hard look at the Islamic State. ISIS is Islam, exposed in all its cruelty and ugliness, unchanged since Muhammad. The atrocities committed by ISIS are merely an extension of the atrocities committed by Islam’s prophet. The true Five Pillars of Islam are: Slaughter, Intolerance, Oppression, Hatred, and Global Dominion, because Muhammad was a slaughterer, intolerant, oppressive, hateful, and drove his armies to destroy everything and everyone that stood in the way of his establishment of a world caliphate. Muhammad said to the people of Mecca, “I have brought slaughter to you,” then he beheaded every male, young and old. ISIS immolated Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, because Muhammad burned people alive. When the leader of the Jewish Bani al-Nadir tribe refused to reveal the location of his tribe’s treasures, Muhammad ordered his soldiers to “Torture him until you extract what he has.” So a fire was built on the chest of Kinanah bin al-Rabi. Again, when some of his men resisted Muhammad’s planned attack against the Byzantines at Tabuk, the prophet commanded that they be burned alive in the house where they were meeting. ISIS enslaves and rapes women because Muhammad did, even when he took a six-year-old little girl as his wife and consummated their union when she turned nine. ISIS mutilates and crucifies men, women, and children because its prophet did. …The only difference between 1,400 years of slaughter by Muslims, who follow the practices of Muhammad, and the carnage carried out today by ISIS is that today’s atrocities are broadcast throughout the world by social media.”

Muslims are to be friendly to Jews and Christians when Muslims are outnumbered, as in Europe and the US. When, however, Muslims become uppermost, they bring Jews and Christians under their yoke. Their protection? Not on your nelly. They have to acknowledge their inferior status, pay a hefty tax and feel humiliated and subdued. Or be killed.

Here are some of Muhammad’s later teachings about Christians and Jews:

Qur’an 5:51—O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

Qur’an 9:30—And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

Qur’an 98:6—Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein. They are the worst of creatures.

Sahih Muslim 4366—Muhammad said: “I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim.”

Al-Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad 1103—Muhammad said: “Do not give the People of the Book the greeting first. Force them to the narrowest part of the road.”

Needless to say, these teachings can hardly be considered peaceful or tolerant.

In conclusion: If you want to be a Muslim but can’t swallow all t he ghastly things Muhammad and his companions did, amd more important, wah they commanded that all Muslims should do until the end of the world, if you want democracy, hate Sharia and its overkill of rules, making the 613 Jewish mitzvot (laws) a breeze, then why stay Muslim? You say because Islam is monotheistic. MonoGod. So, you think mono is the greatest thing since Swiss falafel. What’s the good of such a God if this one God is the being described in the Qur’an, who tells you to kill idolators (e.g. American atheists), and all the rest? There is one thing, however, Allah says you should heed: he tells you that no one can corrupt his revelation and so you should follow the Bible. (See Responding to the Muslim Objections of the Bible).

The Bible says that no one can understand the Bible because they are dead in sin. You need to be raised from the dead to see the truth. (Ephesians 2:1-10) The Qur’an doesn’t say that; it says do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that. And if you don’t like it, you’re free to leave and ask Issa to bear your sins. Hmmm.

 

Why do most Christians call grace (that saves) amazing? They can’t see that it is they who are

 

When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

The good news of the Bible, writes Steve Lawson, is that God saves sinners, God the Father chose His elect, gave them to the Son, commissioned the Son to redeem them, and sends the Spirit to regenerate them, God the Son laid down His life for the sheep, securing their salvation, God the Spirit gives repentance, faith, and eternal life to these chosen ones. Salvation is a great Work of the triune God’s amazing grace.” (The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (Long Line of Godly Men Profiles).

Calvinism and Arminianism both agree with all the points in the above paragraph, so what is the difference?

Arminians maintain that the “elect” are sinners that God selected on the basis of God foreseeing from eternity that they would decide to choose to permit God to raise them from (spiritual) death. They love singing the song “Amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me).”

Would it make sense to tell the Arminian that the ultimate reason why people are not saved is because there is something bad in them (in their wills) that causes them to reject the Gospel, and so deserve damnation? Of course it would make sense; it’s clear as day. What about people who are saved? What is the final clincher in God’s decision to save them. For the Arminian – there is no escaping it – the clincher is their decision, something in them, something good in them.

Most Arminians will vehemently deny that the reason why God saved them was because there was something good in them (a good will). In sum, those who say no to Christ deserve to go to hell, and those who say yes to Christ deserve to go to heaven. Rare is the Arminian who says he deserves to go to heaven. He knows deep down in his confused or stubborn soul that there would be nothing amazing about grace if the reason why he was ultimately saved (the final step in his salvation/justification/ reconciliation with God/regeneration) was something he did, not what grace did. I know of one Arminian who. I suggest, tried to wriggle out of the logical conclusion by stating that although he deserved to be saved/justified/made right(eous), this righteousness does not come from himself but from the imputed righteousness of Christ. He was probably thinking of 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The question, however, still remains: why did this person deserve that God impute Christ’s righteousness to him?

If only Arminians could understand or accept 1. the different contexts of “all” and “world” in the New Testament, 2. there is no contradiction between human responsibility and God’s decrees, and 3. God chooses the means as well as the ends of salvation.

Here is and example of each of the three:

  1. All” and “world.”

All

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

“Any” and “all” refer to any, all of “us” (believers). If God wills someone not to perish, he won’t perish. Yet many do perish.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Romans 9

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.

(See The Apostle Peter takes a leaf off Mr Bean: My bodee is my toooooool).

World

Here is the NIV translation of John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who(so)ever” (NIV) has the deceptive connotation of “whoever decides to believe in him.” The Greek says (Young’s Literal Translation – YLT) “every one who is believing in him may not perish.”

Contrast verse 16 (NIV) with verse 18 (NIV) “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” more correctly “he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing has been judged already, because he hathnot believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (YLT).

How to reconcile “God so loved the world” (verse 16) with “he who is not believing is judged already?” (YLT) This is where Arminianism splits and splutters. In Reformed theology (“Calvinist” if you like), it’s quite simple. “World” in verse 16 does not mean everyone in the world. There are several texts in the Bible that explain why it can’t mean everyone in the world. Verse 18 is one of them. I ask the Arminian: “Does Jesus love the unbelieving ones whom he is going to judge – send to hell, and whom he “knows from the beginning” (John 6:64) – from eternity?” Of course not; he hates them, as he hated all mankind before he chose to have mercy on some and save some as in Romans 9 above.

(See God loves you, he loves you, he loves you. “Since when?).

  1. There is no contradiction between human responsibility and God’s decrees.

Acts 2:23

“This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

God foreknows because he decreed it. If he didn’t decree it then he was up in heaven saying – from eternity: “Look what those meany Romans AND Jews are going to do to my Son. Oh, well, I am not, as Clive Staples Lewis says, a God of risks for nothing”

Calvinists have no problem with this verse because they love divinely inspired scripture to bits. Of course, it is difficult to wrap this verse round your head. Don’t you know that you and I are and always will remain blockheads when it comes to understanding all the counsel of God. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29) – and all (without exception) the words of scripture.

  1. God chooses the means as well as the ends.

One of the silliest – we’re all blockheads, some more than others – utterances popular with many Arminian preachers is that if salvation is 100% of the Lord – God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy – then there is no point to evangelising. God choose the ends as well as the means.

The ends

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day…44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

The means

Romans 10

13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Logical Arminians say that you can lose your salvation: if you choose to follow Christ, then it follows, as in the blogosphere, that they can choose to unfollow Christ. You might as well be Mohammed whose followers, every time mention his name, has to say “Peace be upon him,” that is, “I pray that he is no in hell.” Or a Jew, who is never sure whether he has done enough to merit salvation. A bad death.

This evening, when I thought about it seriously, the tears came to my eyes. I imagined myself on that sick bed [of someone he knew] and I wondered how it would go with me if I were to be judged in this very moment. I should deserve to go to hell, but I hope I shall not be sent there. In any case I am sure I ought to be sent to purgatory. Yet the mere thought of purgatory makes me shudder. What then will become of me? Oh poor me, how wretched I am!” (See here).

When R. Yochanan ben Zakkai fell ill, his disciples came in to pay a call on him. When he saw them, he began to cry. His disciples said to him, “Light of Israel! Pillar at the right hand! Mighty hammer! On what account are you crying?” He said to them, “If I were going to be brought before a mortal king, who is here today and tomorrow gone to the grave, who, should he be angry with me, will not be angry forever; and if he should imprison me, will not imprison me forever, and if he should put me to death, whose sentence of death is not for eternity, and whom I can appease with the right words or bribe with money, even so, I should weep. “But now that I am being brought before the King of kings of kings [ben Zakkai says “kings” three times], the Holy One, blessed be He, who endures forever and ever, who, should he be angry with me, will be angry forever, and if he should imprison me, will imprison me forever, and if he should put me to death, whose sentence of death is for eternity, and whom I cannot appease with the right words or bribe with money, “1and not only so, but before me are two paths, one to the Garden of Eden and the other to Gehenna, and I do not know by which path I shall be brought, and should I not weep?” (See Ben Zakkai: Judaism, humilty and the good death).

To repeat Steve Lawson at the beginning of this article, this is what the Bible teaches:

God the Father chose His elect, gave them to the Son, commissioned the Son to redeem them, and sends the Spirit to regenerate them, God the Son laid down His life for the sheep, securing their salvation, God the Spirit gives repentance, faith, and eternal life to these chosen ones. Salvation is a great Work of the triune God’s amazing grace.”

The logical progression is: election (predestined to salvation; those the father gives to the Son from eternity, and for who Jesus prays in John 17) – regeneratIon (born again) – faith – repentance – eternal life. Regeneration, faith and repentance occur at the same time.

Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me.”  Indeed. Christ’s deed – alone

Al Mohler: Islamic theologies and extremism

In his podcast “The briefing” of 18 February 2015, Albert Mohler Jr. discusses the topic “Atrocities of past week and year seem to lead to significant shift in Western view of ISIS.”

Quotes are from his “rush transcript” which do not differ from his podcast.

Mohler says, “the West (intellectual and political elite) is denying what is fundamentally true.” With regard to Islam and violence, Mohler says that Obama denies that the problem is theological, which Mohler says it is.

A crucial hinge” in the conversation is an article published by Daniel Burke, religious editor of CNN, entitled “Religion’s Week from Hell” in which he describes the last seven days of horrific violence where all of it except the murder of three Muslims in North Carolina, apparently by an atheist.” (Not “apparently;” and it was over a parking space).

Another important article is by Robert Cohen in the NY Times entitled “Is Islam and the West at war?” He begins the article relating the murders in Denmark at a Seminar on “on ‘Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression’ and a Danish Jew guarding a synagogue were shot dead in Copenhagen, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the prime minister of Denmark, uttered a familiar trope:” She said: “We are not in the middle of a battle between Islam and the West. It’s not a battle between Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s a battle between values based on the freedom of the individual and a dark ideology.”

Cohen, relates Mohler, then writes,

This statement — with its echoes of President Obama’s vague references to ‘violent extremists’ uncoupled from the fundamentalist Islam to which said throat-cutting extremists pledge allegiance — scarcely stands up to scrutiny. It is empty talk…“To call this movement, whose most potent recent manifestation is the Islamic State, a ‘dark ideology’ is like calling Nazism a reaction to German humiliation in World War I: true but wholly inadequate. There is little point in Western politicians rehearsing lines about there being no battle between Islam and the West, when in all the above-mentioned countries tens of millions of Muslims, with much carnage as evidence, believe the contrary.”

President Obama says that 99.9% of Muslims are not at war in the West. Mohler says that the truth is although “the vast majority of Muslims are not at war with the West, millions of others are.”

Mohler then discusses an article that “eclipses” the one in the NY Times. The very long article (about 30 pages) “What ISIS really wants” by Graeme Wood appeared in the Atlantic monthly, March 2015:

Graeme Wood explains that this wilful blindness on the part of the West to the theological challenge we face explains why President Obama just a matter of something like a year and a half ago, would refer to the Islamic state as not Islamic…[ISIS] It is growing, not receding, and it is inherently theological – abundantly so – and that’s the point Graeme Wood is now seeking to make…it’s a theology that will not accept peace as a matter of policy. It is a theology that understands world conquest, at least in terms of the dominance of Islam, to be absolutely necessary. It is a worldview, a theological worldview, that make it, says Wood, ‘…constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival;” And most hauntingly, remember those words, …it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.’”

[A]s Graeme Wood makes clear, continues Mohler, one of the reasons why the Islamic State is winning the argument is because they have a more ancient and enduring tradition in Islam to claim as their own and as their justification, at the expense – not to mention of the West, not to mention of more mainstream leaders in the Arab world – but even at the expense of al Qaeda.”

The reality, says Graeme Wood, is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combated, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.”

Mohler continues:

According to [Professor] Haykel, he [Graeme Wood] writes 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 wilful ignorance.”

There’s the rub: ISIS is not distorting the Koran/Qur’an and the Hadiths, and it would be, says Haykel, “preposterous” to say this was so. The question is: “Does Mohler believe that ISIS reflects authentic Islam. Does he have anything to say on the matter besides quoting Haykel? No. The next and final words on the topic are:

Now at this point I simply have to say that in terms of the article we’re only nine pages in of an almost 30 page article. That tells you just how important this long-form journalism really is. And just how historically important I believe this article will turn out to be.”

The impression I get in his other podcast discussions of Islam (“The Briefing”) is that for Mohler, the “radical Islam” of ISIS is a distortion of genuine Islam, which contrasts with Haykel – whom Mohler quotes approvingly – who says that ISIS is following the precepts of the Qur’an to the letter. ISIS is indeed very faithful to the words of Allah. Read the Qur’an and Hadiths!

What is the different between “radical Islam,” “Islam” and “Muslims.” All Islamists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are Islamists. Why is  this so? Because an Islamist is one who follows the letter and the spirit of the Qur’an to a Q, while many Muslims don’t. Who are the Islamists par excellence? ISIS, Al Qaeda and their ilk? The ignorant or pusillanimous refer to the latter as “radical.” In one sense, they are right – the etymological sense. “Radical” derives from the Latin root “root” (radix). Islamists dig deep into the roots of Islam, while many Muslims play in the branches, In sum, “Islam” in its unmutilated form is radical. That explains its mutilations, which embrace two kinds: verbal – chopping and changing Qur’anic revelations (for example, abrogation – see Abrogadabra in the Qur’an) and chopping off heads. Most of those in the branches either encourage the radicals – or remain mum, for fear of attacking the root from which they sprout and the certain repercussions coming down upon their heads.

Al Mohler seems either not to get it, or not want to say it (himself) – ever. Here is a hadith binding on all Muslims: “The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘Seventy-two (of the 73 sects of the Muslim nation) will be in the fire, and only one will be in Paradise; it is the Jama’ah (i.e. Ahle Sunnah Wa Jamaah).” (Abi Dawud, Ad-Darimi, Ahmad).” Sects who cavort like ISIS believe they will end up as the Jama’ah, numero 73, and so does every other sect doing delish things like chopping off heads. (Jama’ah has several meanings. One meaning is “majority”).

I return to the beginning of Mohler’s podcast and of this article: Mohler says, “the West (intellectual and political elite) is denying what is fundamentally true.” With regard to Islam and violence, Mohler says that Obama denies that the problem is theological, which Mohler says it is. Mohler is, of course right. Mohler might have said elsewhere that “radical Islam” theology is in reality true Islam theology, but I would be surprised and stand corrected if he said that. Would it be correct to say that only “blindness and wilful ignorance” (Mohler, referring to the worldview of “modern secular materialism”) will cause someone to see it – namely, that the two theologies are in fact one – otherwise?

The burning of the Qur’an: Pastor Terry Jones and the Imam

I discuss the video of Pastor Terry Jones vs Muslim Cleric Imam Al-Qazwini regarding Jones’ burning of the Qur’an.The person who posted it on YouTube added the caption. Interesting clip, A must see for every person out there that has misconceptions about Islam.” The caption tells us, at the most, that the person who posted it likes Islam.

Here are few excepts (verbatim and summations) of the conversation. The context of the video was a TV discussion involving the presenter, the Imam and a Christian Pastor, Ed Rowe versus Terry Jones. My comments and clarifications within the conversation are in italics and square brackets.

Terry jones says that Muslims who come to the US willing to obey the US constitution are welcome, but if they come with the agenda of wanting to impose Sharia, they are not welcome. The Imam asks Jones what he means by Sharia. Jones says his knowledge of Sharia is “somewhat limited” but what he said about obeying the USA Constitution applies to any movement. He says the punishment in Sharia is brutal, “it involves stoning and other cruel forms of punishment. And one of the aspects of that [USA] constitution is freedom of speech.”

Presenter: I don’t think the Imam will disagree with you.

Imam: “No, definitely [that is, he doesn’t disagree]. So why all this commotion? People in this country have a right to burn the Qur’an if they want to. But for you [to burn the Qur’an] who call yourself a pastor.”

[That is the Imam’s first lie. That’ll be the day that Muslims believe or that Islam teachers that anyone has the right in any country to burn the Qur’an.

Jesus was a great messenger who asked his followers to embrace others., to love his enemies.”

[We shall have to see where the misconception (deception?) lies. Where did the Imam read that Jesus commands to love your enemies. Not in the Islamic literature, but in the Bible. So does the Imam, as Mohammad did, accept the Bible of his day as the uncorrupted Word of God?“5:46 And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.” And: 57:27 We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy …”

These verses prove that Mohammad (Allah) did not believe the Bible was corrupt].

As a pastor I don’t think you have grounds to burn a divine book that respects and glorifies Jesus for whom you speak in his name.

[Jesus would never regard a book as divine that says he never did what he came to earth to do – to die for sinners. What does the Qur’an say about the death of Jesus? From surah 4:157. “That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-

158. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.”

According to Jesus, Allah is at best certainly not exalted in power and wise. The Bible – “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” 1 Corinthians 2:8]

If you read the Qur’an that you burned three weeks ago, you will find out that almost on every page there is a verse in the Qur’an glorifying Jesus. “So, continues the Imam, what I think what you did three weeks ago was an insult against Jesus. Against your own faith because if you really believe in Jesus the the Qur’an glorifies Jesus. So when you burn the Qur’an you’re insulting Christianity.”

[The Imam said above that Jesus is on almost on every page of the Qur’an. Let’s see. In the Qur’an, there are 51 verses (ayahs) out of a total of 6236 about Jesus – .8%, in 12 of its 114 chapters (surahs). In 6 of these, Jesus is referred to as the messenger (of Allah). As far as the Qur’an glorifying Jesus, never. It is Allah whom the Qur’an glorifies, pointing out that he (Jesus) is no more than a messenger: 4:171 O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. See also 5:116 “He (Jesus) will say: ‘Glory to thee’.”

Jesus is given honor and considered righteous, but never glorified. He is, like Mohammed, a messenger, who is the final and most important of all the messengers].

5:75 Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food.

19:19 He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.”

And this one, where the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is replaced by “Achmad.”

61:6 And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Achmad.” But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “this is evident sorcery!”

[Achmad in 61:6! Muslims switch the biblical Greek word parakletos (one who comes alongside – the Holy Spirit for Christians with paraklutos (the praised one) because there is a reference to Achmad in surah 61:6. See more on this topic here].

I think, continues the Imam, Pastor Jones needs to get educated on the words he is talking about. He is well misinformed about things he has been talking about.”

[Jones is not misinformed but insufficiently informed. That was his great weakness. He couldn’t provide even one verse – there are many dozens – from the Qur’an. Terry, next time, take the miniscule trouble to provide at least one source from the Qur’an or Hadiths to back up your beef].

Jones: “I am warning against Sharia and Jihad.

Presenter: In so doing aren’t you labeling everyone who is in Islam?

[All TV presenters in the popular media, for example, CNN, Sky News, are sycophantic Islamophiles, not necessarily by nature, but by orders from upstairs. One thing we can congratulate them for is their crass ignorance of Islam].

Jones: “I have made that very very clear. There are probably millions of Muslims who are peaceful but there is a radical element that cannot be denied.. are burned a book and seven thousand miles away people were killed. Something is definitely wrong.”

[Why then does Jones burn the Qur’an if the issue is the “radical element.” Jones is mince meat!].

Presenter: “Don’t you think you have blood on your hands? Because of what you did here in the USA 12 innocent people were killed.”

Jones: “Oh absolutely not. What I do believe is that those people in those governments should be held accountable.”

Presenter – Reverend Roe [ who is involved in bringing Muslims and Christians closer together] let me bring you in here because there are zealots in every faith. He [Jones] calls himself a Christian so do you. You read the same Bible. Why the difference in attitude.

Reverend Roe: I’m not here to defend violence anywhere on the part of the Christian Taliban (directed at Jones, of course) – or anybody else. I’m here to say that what happened with burning the Qur’an didn’t just burn the Qur’an it burned the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5. They burned every statement that Jesus made about loving enemies… People might think that Christianity supports what you did. I’m here to say that there is nothing in the Gospel that supports the burning of the Qur’an. And if you knew what was going to happen – the violence – the blood that was spilled.. The violence is your violence. You burnt a whole lot more than the Qur’an. You burnt every statement from Jesus Christ about non-violence. The peaceful Jesus that I know would never have done what you did.

[Reverend, aren’t you going a tad over the top? Also, the Imam does not agree with you. Didn’t you hear him say “People in this country have a right to burn the Qur’an if they want to,” but Pastors shouldn’t do it? Let me also, like the Reverend, refer to Matthew: Muslims do not be afraid that Allah will be cross with you if you do not go on the rampage whenever Islam is attacked. You don’t have to go out and kill bodies. In any case, people whose bodies you kill should not be afraid: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 12:28). This is the Jesus Islam rejects].

[I now want to make what I consider the most important point in this saga. Terry Jones says that he is doing what the Bible directs him to do. The Bible is not clear on this. In contrast, the Qur’an says Christians are blasphemers destined for hell fire; they need to convert to Islam, or  be subdued and pay a large tax. And Jews are monkeys and pigs. Do we see any Christians killing Muslims who follow these teachings?  There are hate speech laws in the US. I ask Ed Rowe, wouldn’t he consider what the Qur’an says about Jews  and Christians more serious than a Christian, who does not represent most devout Christians, burning  a book that says, at best, such vile, insulting things to Christians? Furthermore, instead of fawning over the Imam, why don’t you tick him off?

Presenter (Deceived parrot): “Would Jesus have done what you did?

Jones: “Yes, I think he definitely would. In acts 19:19 “books worth great sums of money” were burned. In the Old Testament the godly kings burned the high places. But I think we are missing the point… We’re not here to discuss the burning o the Koran. We are here to send a very clear message to the radical elements in Islam.”

Presenter to Imam: “There are many Americans who fear Islam.

Imam: “They fear Islam because of people like Pastor Terry jones who are working on their paranoia, who are making a monster out of Islam. I would respectfully ask Terry Jones to go and read he Qur’an instead of burning the Qur’an and he will be amazed and surprised on the commonalities that exist between Islam and Christianity. The problem is that Pastor Jones has not read the Qur’an. He has no knowledge of the Qur’an Therefore, he is trying to make a monster out of the Qur’an. By that he is terrifying Americans against Islam and telling them Islam is the danger. Now, no one is denying that there are radicals in Islam. There are radicals in christianity.”

[Pastor Jones, it was indeed silly of you to come to such a debate with zilch knowledge of the Qur’an].

Islam, continues the Imam, is “the Divine faith that has so much to offer to this world and humanity. The divine faith that speaks highly of Christianity and Judaism. “Someone who does not believe in Jesus cannot claim to be a Muslim. In order to be a true Muslim you have to embrace Jesus and his message. It seems that pastor jones does not get that.”

[The Imam is either ignorant (if so, how did he get his job?) or a liar. 1. The “divine” faith does not speak highly of Christianity and Judaism at all. For one, Jews are described on several occasions in the Qur’an as monkeys and pigs. Another, Christians under Islamic rule are subjugated, treated like outcasts, and have to pay a huge tax. Why do you think Egypt is 90% Muslim today. Most Christians couldn’t bear the hardship and converted to Islam when the Muslims hordes took over their country in the 7th century. The Qur’an rejects the fundamental doctrines of Christianity such as the Trinity, the incarnation, vicarious atonement through the shedding of Jesus’ blood].

What’s the difference between an Islamist and a Muslim?

Robert Spencer of JihadWatch writes:

“DHS [Department of Homeland Securiy] Secretary Jeh Johnson just said that to call the Islamic State Islamic would be “dignifying them as occupying some form of Islam.” And so here we see the cognitive dissonance clearly: the Islamic State is impatient with Syrians whom they claim know nothing about Islam, and non-Muslim authorities in the West (and Muslim authorities as well) insist that it is actually the jihadis of the Islamic State who know nothing about Islam. At very least, Western intelligence agents and policymakers should study the Islamic State’s understanding of Islam, so as to comprehend these jihadis’ motives and goals, and be able to counter them more effectively. But they will not do that, because that would lead them into study of…Islam. (Robert Spencer, “Islamic State jihadis complain that “the Syrians do not know anything of the Islamic religion”).

Most, if not all, Western leaders sing the same silly tune: ISIS has nothing to do with “peaceful” Islam. What is the touchy truth: 

All Islamists are Muslims, but not all Muslims are Islamists. Why is  this so? Because an Islamist is one who follows the letter and the spirit of the Qur’an to a Q, while many Muslims don’t. Who are the Islamists par excellence? ISIS, Al Qaeda and their ilk? The ignorant or pussilanimous refer to the latter as “radical.” In one sense, they are right – the etymological sense. “Radical” derives from the Latin root “root” (radix). Islamists go deep down into the roots of Islam, while many Muslims sit high in the branches, In sum, “Islam” in its unmutilated form is radical. That explains its mutilations, which embrace two kinds: verbal – chopping and changing Qur’anic revelations (for example, abrogation) and chopping off heads.

Most of those in the branches either encourage the radicals – or remain mum, for fear of attacking the root from which they spring and the certain repercussions coming down upon their heads.