Archive for the 'Deity' Category

Is Islam a religion of peace at its core?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

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(image courtesy Firas, Flickr.com, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Christianity includes a theology of surrender to God. Jesus’ call to surrender according to Mark 8:34 was: ‘And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”’. According to Luke 6:22-23, this surrender may include rejection, accompanied by blessing:

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Leading South African evangelical Christian writer of the 19th century, Andrew Murray, wrote a book titled, Absolute Surrender.

Fighting the Flying Circus

(image courtesy LibriVox)

Therefore, it should not be surprising to find ‘surrender’ as an essential teaching of Islam.

In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender – however, it was derived from the root word “salam”. From this root word, you can also obtain the words peace and safety. Many people consider that Islam implies some sort of enslavement to Allah, but others find it more helpful to define the word “Islam” as surrender (Pennington 2008, emphasis in original).

How does salam = peace fit with the Islamic religious verses of violence towards non-believers? The Online Etymology Dictionary states that Islam is a ‘religious system revealed by Muhammad’ from Arabic islam, literally ‘submission’ (to the will of God). It is from root of aslama, which means ‘he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted’, a causative conjunction of salima ‘he was safe’ and is related to salam ‘peace’ (Harper 2001-2015).

However, since salam means peace and Islam means submission to Allah, how does that related to what is said in Quran 48:29[1]? The Ahmed translation reads: ‘Muhammad is the Prophet of God; and those who are with him are severe with infidels but compassionate among themselves’.

This is how this topic began on a Christian forum:[2]

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What does the verse in this letter, Quran 5:32 (Yusuf Ali translation), state?

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

Another responded to the above letter: ‘Thank you for posting, I think it is needed. I took a world religions class and learned that indeed Islam is a religion of peace’.[3]

clip_image005(image courtesy openclipart)

 

My answer to the notion that Islam is a religion of peace was that that was because the ‘violent’ information – regarding unbelievers/infidels – from the Quran – is ignored or filtered out.[4] Let’s examine some facts about Islam, particulars which the Australian mass media don’t want to trumpet loud and clear.

A. At its core Islam promotes violence to unbelievers

This is the violent nature of Islam according to the Quran:
blue-arrow Quran 4:76 [Yusuf Ali translation], ‘Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan’.
blue-arrow Quran 5:33 [Yusuf Ali], ‘The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter’.
blue-arrow Quran 8:12 [Yusuf Ali], ‘Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them’.
blue-arrowQuran 8:39 [Yusuf Ali], ‘And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do’.

blue-arrow Quran 47:35 [Yusuf Ali], ‘Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds’.
Now try convincing me that at its core, Islam is a religion of peace. It is not. Anyone who promotes the view of the peaceful nature of Islam must ignore these verses from the Quran.

What happened on September 11 2001 in the USA and on 13 November 2015 in Paris is at the core of Muhammad’s requirements for Muslims who are true to their faith.

Patrick Sookhedo, former leader of the Barnabas Fund, wrote an article in 2005 for The Spectator with the title, ‘The myth of moderate Islam’ in which he stated,

By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.

You can even find texts which specifically command terrorism, the classic one being Quran 8:59-60, which urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight non-Muslims, ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies’ (A. Yusuf Ali’s translation) (Sookhdeo 2005).

B. ‘Moderate’ Muslims are like cultural Christians

I suggest there could be a parallel between ‘moderate’ Muslims and cultural Christians.

1. Who are the ‘moderate’ Muslims?

In everyday language in Australia, they are the Muslims who don’t identify with the IS extremism and violence – for the time being. They seem to be reasonable human beings who are trying to assimilate into our culture while maintaining their faith. Their voices tend to oppose extremism. There was an article in The Huffington Post Australia, ‘Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology’ (Markoe 2014) in which it was claimed:

More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24 2014) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief”.

It seems like a contradiction in methodology to blast the ideology of IS (by Muslim scholars) but they do it in language that is in Arabic, using heavy classical religious terms that are designed to reach the young who are being recruited by IS. Since it uses language that mainstream Muslims would find difficult to understand, it defeats the purpose of communicating to the mainstream – the alleged ‘moderates’ – with this obscure and unintelligible document.

Could this Muslim woman who wrote a guest column for the Toronto Sun, Canada on September 15, 2015, be an example of a ‘moderate’? See, ‘Ban niqab, burka in all public places’, by Raheel Raza. She states:

As a Muslim mother who never saw a niqab when I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, I am astonished to see Canada’s judiciary caving in to Islamists who have nothing but contempt for Canada’s values of gender equality.

I write this as a Muslim Canadian who does not have any specific political leanings.

But in the 25 years I have called Canada home, I have seen a steady rise of Muslim women being strangled in the pernicious black tent that is passed off to naïve and guilt-ridden white, mainstream Canadians as an essential Islamic practice.

The niqab and burka have nothing to do with Islam.

They’re the political flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia.

Now I learn I have not only to fight the medieval, theocratic adherents of my faith for a safe space for myself, I have to battle the Federal Court of Canada as well, which has come out on the side of these facemasks.

File:Woman wearing Niqab.JPG(woman wearing niqab, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The article was repeated in The Huffington Post, 24 September 2015, ‘As a Muslim, I think Canada should ban the niqab and birka in public’.

2. Are there moderate Muslims?

It would seem that there are moderates because not all Muslims are involved in terrorism like that in Paris, 13 November 2015, New York City on 11 September 2001, Daesh (IS) attacks in Syria and other countries of the Middle East. ‘In September [2014], the French government began calling the group Daesh which is the Arabic name for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS or the Islamic Sate group’ (SBS News, 4 December 2014). However, Sookhdeo (2005), an Islamic specialist, stated that it is a myth to speak of moderate Islam.

How many Muslims are in my home country of Australia?

In research released by the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia (Hassan 2015:22), its conclusions in 2015 were that more Muslims migrated to Australia following the change of national policy from the Restriction Act of 1901 [commonly known as the White Australia policy] to a more open approach in the late 1960s. In 1966 there were 200,885 Muslims in Australia, but that increased to 476,290 by the 2011 Census, which is a 137% increase (natural increase and by immigration) since 1966. The statistics reveal that 40% of Australian Muslims were Australian born, while the remainder came from 183 countries.

By 2011, Islam was Australia’s third largest religion, representing 2.2% of the population. They are mostly city dwellers, with large urban clusters, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

A majority of Muslims are Australian citizens, proficient in English and are productive members of society, with large numbers of school-age children. Most of these Muslims are young and have a similar educational profile to similar age Australians. However, they lag behind with employment and income, thus having higher unemployment rates.

Hassan (2015:22) recommended urgent action be taken to implement remedial policies to promote social and economic inclusion. By 2050, it is expected that there will be 1.5 million Australian Muslims, representing 5% of the population, and these will provide a vital bridge to what should then be the largest world religion – Islam (Hassan 2015:22).

I ask: What will be happening in Australia by 2050 with an estimated Islamic population of 5% of the nation? Can we be confident that the majority of Muslims here will be moderates who would not become activists, even terrorists, in the future? I am not convinced this will be the situation since there are verses in the Quran that definitely promote violence towards infidels. All non-Muslims are infidels, including non-Muslim Australians. That will not be in my lifetime but it will be in that of my children and grandchildren. I have a concern for peace and wellbeing here and I cannot see it happening if the events of September 11 2001, 13 November 2015 in Paris, and ‘Mali terrorist attack: Scores dead after Islamist gunmen storm Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako’ 13 November 2015 are multiplied across the world, including Australia.

a. A view from a moderate Muslim nation

File:President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.jpg (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President, Turkey, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s check on a supposed ‘moderate’ Muslim country such as Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former Prime Minister and from 2014 the President of Turkey for the AKP Party,[5] when he was mayor of Istanbul in the late 1990s, stated, ‘Thank God, I am for Sharia’ and ‘one cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time’. He added, ‘For us, democracy is a means to an end’ (cited in Yavuz 2009). BBC News reported of Erdogan in 2002:

His pro-Islamist sympathies earned him a conviction in 1998 for inciting religious hatred.

He had publicly read an Islamic poem including the lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”

He was sentenced to 10 months in jail, but was freed after four (BBC News 2002).

For Erdogan, democracy was like a streetcar which you ride ‘until you arrive at your destination, then you step off’ (Yavuz 2009:100, n. 40). Concerning ‘moderate’ Islam, Erdogan, a Muslim, does not believe there is such a thing. His view was that ‘these descriptions are very ugly. It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it’ (cited in Carol 2015).[6] Or, is Erdogan a voice for the extremist Muslim, even the terrorists?

See the ‘Answering-Islam’ Christian website and the article, ‘Moderate Muslims & Moderate Islam’ by Jacob Thomas.

Michael Mukasey, in reviews of two books on the war on terror, in The Wall Street Journal in 2011, concluded, ‘There are many moderate Muslims, but there is simply no body of doctrine within Islam that provides a principled basis for condemning the 9/11 attacks’ (Mukasey 2011).

Ron Edwards’ evaluation is that there are no such people as ‘moderate’ Muslims. Instead,

most people known as moderate Muslims are those simply waiting until the overall Muslim population is at least around eight percent of the overall population of the country, or city they migrate to. After that they start getting involved politically via the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations and use the judicial system of their chosen nation or city to further the political clout of Muslims at the expense of the native citizens where they immigrated to. Soon after, violent acts begin to occur. Numerous cities in Great Britain, France and even Televiv (sic)[7] Israel are peppered with Muslim stabbings of non-Muslims and boisterous calls for the collapse of the nation, or city they have invaded (Edwards 2015).

Rev Fred Nile, New South Wales Upper House MLC in Australia, whose Christian Democratic Party of two members has the balance of power, is of a similar view concerning what happens when the percentage of Muslims grows to a certain point in a country. He told Leigh Sales of ABC’s 7.30:

There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate and that’s why I felt if we keep the Muslim population at a certain percentage, which at the moment was 1.5, it’s probably two per cent. But once it gets to five per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change, the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding (Sales 2015).

That analysis by Edwards is provocative and food for thought. Those who are truly Muslim will act on the Quran’s requirements when the need arises and they are committed to the Islamic cause of Jihad, Sharia Law,[8] Fatwa and globalization of Jihad. We know the nature of Islamic governments when we examine countries with a majority of Muslims, such as Saudi Arabia (‘Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam’), Iran (‘Sunni Muslims living in fear in Iran as state-sponsored persecution ramps up’) and Indonesia (‘More rigid Islam in Indonesia’).

What is the future when supposed tolerant and ‘moderate’ Muslims do not come out in wholesale denunciation of Islamic suicide bombers and Islamic violence? Could this be a wait and grow strategy until the Muslim population is large enough to have clout in a culture? Ron Edwards considers that that will happen when the percentage of Muslims in a culture grows large enough. He suggests that figure is about 8%.

3. How to deal with the threat

I recommend the article by Shmuel Bar (2004:36), ‘The religious sources of Islamic terrorism’. These are but a couple grabs from a challenging assessment:

The regimes of the Middle East have proven their mettle in coercing religious establishments and even radical sheikhs to rule in a way commensurate with their interests. However, most of them show no inclination to join a global (i.e., “infidel”) war against radical Islamic ideology. Hence, the prospect of enlisting Middle Eastern allies in the struggle against Islamic radicalism is bleak. Under these conditions, it will be difficult to curb the conversion of young Muslims in the West to the ideas of radicalism emanating from the safe houses of the Middle East. Even those who are not in direct contact with Middle Eastern sources of inspiration may absorb the ideology secondhand through interaction of Muslims from various origins in schools and on the internet.

What is a way forward? His heading is ‘Fighting hellfire with hellfire’. Based on what Bar argued in his article, he asked:

Is it possible – within the bounds of Western democratic values – to implement a comprehensive strategy to combat Islamic terrorism at its ideological roots? First, such a strategy must be based on an acceptance of the fact that for the first time since the Crusades, Western civilization finds itself involved in a religious war; the conflict has been defined by the attacking side as such with the eschatological goal of the destruction of Western civilization. The goal of the West cannot be defense alone or military offense or democratization of the Middle East as a panacea. It must include a religious-ideological dimension: active pressure for religious reform in the Muslim world and pressure on the orthodox Islamic establishment in the West and the Middle East not only to disengage itself clearly from any justification of violence, but also to pit itself against the radical camp in a clear demarcation of boundaries. Such disengagement cannot be accomplished by Western-style declarations of condemnation. It must include clear and binding legal rulings by religious authorities which contradict the axioms of the radical worldview and virtually “excommunicate” the radicals. In essence, the radical narrative, which promises paradise to those who perpetrate acts of terrorism, must be met by an equally legitimate religious force which guarantees hell-fire for the same acts (Bar 2004:36-37).

So Bar is calling on Western democratic governments to become involved at the religious level in dealing with this threat of terrorism. I can’t see secular governments like my own in Australia wanting to go down that path. However, it’s a fascinating challenge by a scholar to offer this way forward for governments.

For a more socialised view of Islam in Indonesia (perhaps ‘moderate’ Islam), see, Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Practice in Indonesia (Fealy & White 2008).[9]

4.         Islam spread by violence

If we simply and honestly consider the history of Islam and of its founder, it is impossible to conclude that it is a religion of peace. It was spread by conquest and by force of arms. The Oxford Islamic Studies online (2015) describes the spread of Islam as involving,

  • After the death of Muhammad, under four ‘rightly guided caliphs’, the conquest of territories outside of Arabia began.
  • They ‘started as sporadic tribal raids’, with a proper army organised about AD 634.
  • The ‘newly organized Muslim navy destroyed the Christian fleet at the Battle of the Masts (655). Constantinople was sporadically besieged during this period, though never captured. On the oriental front, the Sasanian army suffered a crushing defeat at the battle of al Qadisiyah (637), and Ctesiphon was taken soon afterwards; this caused the disintegration of the Sasanian empire’.
  • In the expansion, naval expeditions were launched against certain countries and the dynasty of the Muslims ‘emerged as a major seapower’.
  • The conquests came with surprising speed as resistance from other countries was often fragile.

World History’s, ‘History of the Arabs’, further explains the expansion of the early Islamic religion by army conquest and war in the Middle East and northern Africa. This explanation of Islamic history stated, ‘The great Christian cities of Syria and Palestine fall to the Arabs in rapid succession from 635. Damascus, in that year, is the first to be captured. Antioch follows in 636. And 638 brings the greatest prize of all, in Muslim terms, when Jerusalem is taken after a year’s siege’.

Since combat, siege and subjugation have been the Muslim strategy since the beginning of its existence, a change in tactic is not expected in its expansion in Western civilisation when the Muslim population reaches a certain percentage.

I’m of the view that ‘moderate Muslims’ is a politically correct phrase invented so as not to offend our oil producing ‘friends’ as the West needs their oil. If there is a new caliphate, we can expect the ‘moderate Muslims’ to support it (so they don’t get beheaded).

C. Who are the cultural Christians?

Neither ‘moderate’ Muslims nor cultural Christians take their sacred books seriously. The ‘radicals’ are the ones who are acting on what the Quran tells them to do to unbelieving infidels, i.e. all non-Muslims. The radicals among Christians are the evangelicals who take the Gospel seriously and proclaim the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the only way to salvation (See John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).

1. Separating the biblical from the cultural

See the comparison here of ‘biblical versus cultural Christianity’. The biblical Christian is the person who has faith in the redemptive blood of Christ for salvation. Cultural Christians are those whose desires fit with the cultural motivations and values of this world. It’s a works-based distortion of biblical Christianity, but many of these nominal Christians attend modernist or postmodernist churches that don’t preach the Gospel or believe the authenticity and reliability of Scripture (Kjos Ministries).

If you want to understand the negative impact of cultural Christianity, see the decline in numbers attending mainstream, liberal Christianity in Australia. ‘Two Australian denominations have been given reports that reveal decay and a need for change’. These are the Anglicans and the Uniting Church. For the Anglicans,

only four dioceses reported growth…. In the Anglican Church, the presence of the evangelical diocese of Sydney makes things clear. Unlike other dioceses, it is the only one with better than expected attendance, according to the report’s criteria based on Census data.

In Sydney, 68,000 Anglicans are in church each Sunday. In Melbourne 21,000 Anglicans are in church on Sunday. It was pointed out at General Synod, Eternity understands, that the growing churches were evangelical (Sandeman 2014).

As for the Uniting Church,

MaryboroughUnitingChurch.JPG(Maryborough Qld Uniting Church, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 A 40 per cent decline in the numbers at church since 1991, and a weekly Sunday attendance of less than 100,000 are key findings for the Uniting Church census released earlier this year [of 2014]….The median worship service attendance per congregation is 35 people. This means that half the congregations have fewer than 35 attending and half have larger numbers. Of the 35 people at the median, 3 would be children.

The number of Uniting Church congregations (local churches) has declined by 31 per cent since 1990. Only 20 per cent of congregations run youth groups, but encouragingly 40 per cent run Sunday schools…. 90 per cent of Uniting Church people under 50 years of age are evangelicals according to Rod James, Adelaide leader of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations (ACC) in the Uniting Church (Sandeman 2014).

So the denominations that emphasise liberal Christianity, promoting the cultural ‘gospel’ of peace and good works – but without the Christian Gospel – can be designated as church groups promoting cultural Christianity. Changed lives through proclamation of the Gospel are not on their agendas.

Here is but one example of cultural Christianity. I read the article, “An Evening with John Shelby Spong,” in the Uniting Church of Queensland’s, Journey magazine (online), 28 September 2007. Then, I read the positive letter towards Spong’s Christianity by Noel Preston. Preston’s letter stated:[10]

Spong again

I write to commend you for the October Journey.

I was especially appreciative of the three commentaries on Bishop Spong’s public meeting in Brisbane.

I do not dissent from the impressions reported and share with Bruce Johnson a measure of disappointment that the address I heard from Jack Spong was short on the detail of “a new approach” to theology, though I have great admiration for the positive impact the Bishop has had on behalf of Christian faith throughout a courageous ministry lasting decades.

Your editorial on the subject mused over what it is that causes such a reaction by many to the 78 year old Bishop.

I suspect its intensity has something to do with his determination to profess his allegiance to Jesus Christ despite challenging certain questionable beliefs, moral codes and institutional norms which have been dubiously confused with the essence of the Gospel.

Perhaps his detractors might opine: “If he could just stop pretending to be a disciple it would be easier to tolerate him!”

This is not an unusual story.

As some of your readers would recognise, attempts to be prophetic from within a religious tradition often bring forth a vehement reaction.

Didn’t it happen to Jesus of Nazareth?

Noel Preston
Auchenflower

That is an example of the promotion of cultural Christianity by Rev Dr Noel Preston – a retired Uniting Church minister – in support of Dr John Shelby Spong, former Episcopal (Anglican) bishop of Newark, New Jersey, USA. While Spong was bishop of that diocese, about 40% of the people left the churches of the diocese. I have attempted to expose Spong’s heretical brand of Christianity in, Spong’s deadly Christianity. Robert Stowe explained the statistical free fall in 2000:

Between 1978 and 1999, the number of baptized persons in the diocese [Newark, NJ] fell from 64,323 to 36,340, a loss of 27,983 members in 21 years. That’s a disastrous 43.5% decline. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, saw a decline in the number of baptized persons from 3,057,162 in 1978 to 2,339,133 in 1997, a loss of 718, 499, or a substantial 23.4%, according to the 1998 Church Annual.

The Diocese of Newark under Spong, thus, has declined at a rate [of] 20.1 percentage points higher than the rate for the entire Episcopal Church. This rate of decline is 86% faster than the Episcopal Church, whose losses are considerable in and of themselves (Stowe 2000).

That’s an example of cultural Christianity in action – massive decline in numbers. This is the cultural Christianity of Spong which Preston wants to call ‘the positive impact the Bishop has’.

See my compiled article on ‘The Content of the Gospel’ for an explanation of the Gospel and discipleship. Those who proclaim Christ alone as the way to salvation will share/preach Gospel content and will be regarded as ‘radicals’ by liberal, cultural Christianity.

I don’t expect the situation around the world to get any better. In my view, Islam cannot be reformed because of the nature of the above instructions from the Quran.

D. Islam vs Christianity

In an article like this, I want to raise a few issues that demonstrate the differences between Islam and Christianity which contribute to the distinction between the two religions, even though these two monotheistic religions use some similar language. I particularly refer to their views of Christ and God. Are their doctrines on these two persons the same? To better understand how peace is demonstrated in these two religions, it will be helpful to examine their views of God and Jesus.

1. Almighty God: Christianity

clip_image006 Who is God in Christianity?

In the Old Testament, the biblical names for God include:

  •  El (including Elim, Elohim, and Eloah). This word is like the Greek, theos, Latin Deus, and the English God. It is a generic name for God and may have a root meaning of power or might, but its basic meaning has been lost (Thiessen 1949:52).
  •  Jehovah (or Yahweh) is ‘the personal name.

God, the Father, is regarded as God. ‘For on him God the Father has set his seal’ (Jn 6:27); the biblical language used is ‘God our Father’ (Rm 1:7); and ‘God the Father’ (Gal 1:1, 3). The Father is God. What is his nature and how are his attributes described in Scripture?

A W Tozer, in his classic on the attributes of God – Knowledge of the Holy – presents an exposition of these attributes. You can read a summary of them at, ‘Attributes of God’ (from AllAbout God, 2002-2015). These include: wisdom, infinitude, sovereignty, holiness, Trinity, omniscience, faithfulness, love, omnipotence, self-existence, self-sufficiency, justice, immutability (i.e. God never changes), mercy, eternal, goodness, gracious, and omnipresence.

2. Jesus Christ: Christianity

Fundamentally, the Jesus of Christianity is the third person of the Trinity. He is God. This is the biblical material to support such a theology:

clip_image006[1]God, the Son, is regarded as God. He has the attributes of deity:[11]

Christian Cross Clipart(image courtesy PublicDomianPictures.net)

 

(1) Eternity (Jn 1:15; 8:58; 17:5, 24);

(2) Omniscience (Jn 4:24; 16:30; 21:17);

(3) Omnipresence (Mt 18:20; 28:20; Jn 3:13);

(4) Omnipotence. ‘I am the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8); Heb 1:3; Mt 28:18;

(5) Immutable – he does not change (Heb 1:12; 13:8);

(6) He performs the actions of deity: creator (Jn 1:3; Heb 1:10; Col 1:16);

holds things together (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3); forgives sin (Mt 9:2, 6); raises the dead (Jn 6:39-40, 54; 11:25; 20:25, 28); he will be the Judge (Jn 5:22) of believers (2 Cor 5:10), of Antichrist and his followers (Rev 19:15), of the nations (Ac 17:31), of Satan (Gen 3:15) and of the living and the dead (Ac 10:42).

For an explanation of the biblical basis of the Trinity, see my article: Is the Trinity taught in the Bible? The Trinity can be diagrammed:

(image courtesy neverendingtruth.net)

Jesus is not only God, but he also became human as the following Scriptures demonstrate. Jesus has two natures – God and man. Here’s the evidence for his humanity:

clip_image006[2]God, the Son, became flesh.

We have seen the divine nature of Christ. However, Scripture reveals that the incarnate Christ had two natures – the divine and the human. The eternal God (the divine), the Son, became flesh (the human). As expected,

(a) He had a human birth that involved being,

  •  conceived in the virgin Mary (Matt 1:18-20, 24-25; Luke 1:34-35). and
  •  born to a woman as a baby on the first Christmas Day.[12] See Gal 4:4; Matt 1:18-2:12; Lk 1:30—38; 2:1-20. This leads to his being called ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’ (Matt 1:1) and ‘descended from David according to the flesh’ (Rom 1:3). Luke records his descent from Adam (Lk 3:23-38). If you read the NT, you will note that on a few occasions Jesus was referred to as Joseph’s son (Luke 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42; see Matt 13:55), but in context you will see that these comments were by people who were not Jesus’ friends but were by those who did not fully understand who he was (Thiessen 1949:299).

The virgin birth confirmed how in Jesus he could be fully divine and fully human in one person. This is the means God used to make salvation available to all human beings (see John 3:16; Gal 4:4). The virgin birth ensured that Jesus could be truly human but without inherited sin. How so? There is no biblical evidence to support the Roman Catholic view that Mary was without sin. ‘A better solution is to say that the work of the Holy Spirit in Mary must have prevented not only the transmission of sin from Joseph (for Jesus had no human father) but also, in a miraculous way, the transmission of sin from Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy’ (Grudem 1999:230, emphasis in original).

It is critical to understand the Christian view of Jesus as fully God and fully human. Thus he is sometime called the God-man. At Christmas it is critical to comprehend that we do not commemorate the birth of God, the Son. The fact is that we celebrate the birth of the humanity of Jesus.

See my articles:

clip_image006[3] Jesus, the Prince of Peace

It is stated in the prophetic statement about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 (emphasis added), ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’. According to Isaiah 48:22, ‘“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked”’.

In Isa 9:6 there are four famous names mentioned in a parallelism Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Note the singular, ‘name’, which in Hebrew means that ‘this is the type of character that will be his…. It is implied that he is called by these [four] names because he actually is the kind of person that the names say he is’ (Leupold 1971:1.185)

What does ‘Prince of Peace’ mean? How will that be demonstrated when the Messiah fulfils Isa 9:6? The Messiah who fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy will rule over the redeemed people as ‘Prince’. What methods will he use?

The methods by which he achieved his success were peaceful. The people whom he rules are men of peace. The principles according to which he still carries on his work are all peace. In fact, through him the word peace has taken on a much richer spiritual as well as physical connotation (Leupold I.1971:186).

Leupold explains that the prophetic reference linked to the one who is Immanuel (Isa 7:14) as ‘Prince of Peace’ indicates that ‘the very antithesis to what he does would be to attempt to build a successful empire by the methods of brutal war’ (Leupold I.1971:186). In this Isaiah passage, the time frame for when the Prince of Peace would bring in this peace is not stated by the prophet.

I was alerted to this emphasis by Mark Roberts (2010). In the Old Testament, peace was closely associated with righteousness and justice. This verse from Isaiah highlights this view:

Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will become a lush and fertile forest. Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Quietness and confidence will fill the land forever (Isa 32:15-17, NLT).

The righteous person practises justice in what he does and this assists in bringing peace.

One of the most read evangelical books on God’s peace is that by Billy Graham, Peace with God (1984, Word Publishing).

Since Jesus, the Son, is the third person of the Trinity, what does the triune God say about peace? Isaiah wrote, ‘”There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” (Isa 57:21) and the New Testament revealed that ‘God is not a God of confusion but of peace’ (I Cor 14:33). The deduction is that for peace to reign, there must be no more wicked (sinful) people in existence. That will happen only in God’s kingdom of righteousness and justice at Christ’s Second Coming. Second Timothy 3:10-14 puts this in perspective:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace (emphasis added).

That’s when there will be no more sin and sinners to contaminate God’s kingdom. Christians look forward to eternal righteousness and peace. However, 2 Tim 3:14 encourages believers to be ‘at peace’ with one another – NOW.

a. Jesus brings peace

Jesus Himself was careful to confirm what he brings: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’ (John 14:27, emphasis added). It was after his resurrection that this was recorded of Jesus: ‘On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”’ (John 20:19, emphasis added).

What does this mean for the Christian? The apostle Paul left no doubt: ‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful’ (Col 3:15, emphasis added). God’s peace has this effect on Christians: ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all’ (2 Thess 3:16, emphasis added).

b. Jesus, peace, and division

Related image(image courtesy theeconomiccollapseblog.com)

 

 

There’s a tricky series of verses in Luke 12:49-53:

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (ESV, emphasis added).

How is it possible that the Prince of Peace who came to bring peace, could say that he would bring division? Surely this is contradictory or a paradox? This is the Jesus who pronounced, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt 5:9, emphasis added). Can the Bible’s view of peace be trusted in light of Luke 12:49-53 and these verses? Ps 72:7; Lk 1:79; 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; Jn 14:27; 16:33; 20:19-21; Rom 5:1; 14:17; Eph 2:14; Col 1:20; Heb 6:20-7:2. Surely this string of verses confirms that Jesus is the one who brings peace? Acts 14:22 gives another dimension with this language: ‘strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’. The context is that Jews stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city as dead. When the disciples gathered around Paul, he rose up, preached the Gospel in Derbe with Barnabas and told the disciples that discipleship involves ‘many tribulations’ before entering God’s kingdom.

How can it be the Gospel of peace that brings division in families, among religious groups and in nations? It is not difficult to reconcile as the Jesus of the Gospel divides people, even people in a household, where there will be those who serve Jesus and those who reject him – even hate him. The parallel passage to Luke 12:49-53 in Matthew’s Gospel is Matt 10:34-36. Verse 34 states, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’.

The Gospel brings a rift between those who love Jesus and those who reject him. Christ does bring peace in the individual’s relationship with God and with other believers, but it is not as the culture understands it. Christ’s peace is not that of compromise or tolerance towards evil. The world calls failure to compromise to the culture’s standards – intolerance or bigotry. On April 4, 2015, Salon published an article declaring such, ‘Right-wing Christianity teaches bigotry: The ugly roots of Indiana’s new anti-gay law’.

Rather, Christ’s Gospel triumphs over evil, wrong and Satan because of the victory achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is expected that this will bring opposition from families, communities and nations. ‘It is no namby-pamby sentimentalism that Christ preaches, no peace at any price. The Cross is Christ’s answer to the devil’s offer of compromise in world dominion. For Christ the kingdom of God is virile righteousness, not mere emotionalism’ (Robertson 1930:84).

In John 16:33, we have the recorded words of Jesus: ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (emphasis added). The Christian experiences the peace of God in the midst of tribulation while living in a difficult or hostile culture – the world of unbelief in Jesus.

This biblical evidence makes it clear that:

  • The promised Immanuel – Messiah – was to be the Prince of Peace.
  • Jesus did bring peace and especially peace in the relationship between redeemed sinners and God.
  • However, this peace with Christ brings divisions in families and nations because of love for Christ versus rejection of Christ.

Now let’s check out Islam’s view of God and Jesus.

3. God: Islam

File:Star and Crescent.svg(image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 

For Islam, God is called Allah. What are his nature and attributes?

clip_image006[4] The Oneness of Allah

On this Islamic website, monotheism is affirmed about the ‘Nature of Allah’:

Islam is based on monotheism. Tawhid, the oneness of Allah, is an essential belief for all Muslims. Islam teaches that Allah, the one god, has 99 attributes. Although we can understand some of His attributes, His essence cannot be comprehended by a human’s limited mental capacity. Allah has created mankind primarily so that they may know their creator through his creations.

Realisation of the supremacy of Allah, although necessary for success in the hereafter, has not been enforced on man – it is a test that is based on the fact that man has been given free will. However, man’s free will is limited, although he has the freedom to choose between right and wrong, he cannot change parts of his destiny that Allah has pre-determined. Understanding the nature of Allah is essential as it has a substantial effect on a Muslim’s duties to Allah.

The oneness of Allah is the one most important theological principal (sic) in Islam. The first of the five pillars, the declaration of faith, which is the first act that one does to embark on Islam, reiterates the necessity of the belief in the oneness of Allah. It begins with the negation of any god other than Allah:

“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.”

Beginning with negation rather than affirmation, in this case, serves to emphasise strongly the importance of the oneness of Allah.

The Quran, the words of Allah mediated to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jibril (Gabriel), is full of references to the essential belief in one god:

Say ‘He is Allah the One’ 112:1

Surely Allah alone is the creator of all things and he is the One, the Most Supreme 13:17

Say ‘I am only a Warner, and there is no god but Allah, the One, the Most Supreme. 23:66

Holy is He! He is Allah the One, the Most Supreme 39:5 (emphasis in original).

Note what the Quran states to deny the Trinity and punish those who believe in it: Quran 5:73 states, ‘They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them’.

The five pillars of Islam are the framework for the Muslim life:

1. The testimony of faith,

2. Prayer,

3. Giving zakat (support of the needy),

4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan, and

5. The pilgrimage to Makkah [Mecca] once in a lifetime for those who are able (www.islam-guide.com).

clip_image006[5] Some of the attributes and actions of Allah: Is he the Lord God Almighty revealed in the Bible?

Image result for allah clipart public domain

(image courtesy clker.com)

For an extensive comparison of Allah vs Jehovah, see the article, ‘Is Allah the God of the Bible?’ (Shamoun n d). Here is documented from the Quran:

  • Allah is the author of evil.
  • Allah is the author of abrogation.[13]
  • Allah is the author of historical errors.
  • Allah is the author of carnal pleasures (e.g. ‘for those who fear Allah is a blissful abode, enclosed gardens and vineyards, and damsels with swelling breasts (Arabic – Kawa’eb), their peers in age, and a full cup’, Surah 78:31-34’).
  • Allah is the author of foreign words.
  • Arabic scholars point to Allah being the author of grammatical errors.
  • Allah and oaths: Jehovah swears by himself (Heb 6:13); Allah swears by less than himself, including the Quran, the sky and constellations, by the pen, city and creation.
  • Allah is not Triune.

Quran 112:1-4 (Yusuf Ali translation) succinctly gives the Muslim understanding of Allah’s nature:

1.Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

2.Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

3.He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

4.And there is none like unto Him.

a. Allah is remote and not involved

Allah is distant and does not have immanence. Immanence means that God is involved in the creation. He is not uninterested or uninvolved with people and his creation. Job explained the God of the Bible this way, ‘In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind’ (Job 12:10 ESV), while the New Testament revealed, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all’ (Eph 4:6 ESV). In Christianity, the Lord God is present in all creation, including in the life of the believer. Of course, Jehovah exists outside of space and time (called transcendence) but he acts in time through his immanence.

How does this compare with Allah? In ‘The Haddith of Allah’s “Descent”’, it is stated:

What we must believe is that Allah existed and nothing existed with Him; that He created all creation, including the Throne, without becoming subject to disclosure through them, nor did a direction arise for Him because of them, nor did He acquire a location in them; that He does not become immanent, that He does not cease to be transcendent, that he does not change, and that He does not move from one state to another (Haddad n d, emphasis added).

Thus, the God of Islam is very different to the God of Christianity. They are not one and the same God. What is of concern is how readily Christians living in the Islamic world use the word Allah to refer to the Almighty God of Christianity. Sam Shamoun has outlined the issue:

We are well aware that the name Allah is used by Arab speaking Christians for the God of the Bible. In fact, the root from which the name is derived, ilah, stems from the ancient Semitic languages, corresponding to the Mesopotamian IL, as well as the Hebrew-Aramaic EL, as in Ishma-el, Immanu-el, Isra-el. These terms were often used to refer to any deity worshiped as a high god, especially the chief deity amongst a pantheon of lesser gods. As such, the Holy Bible uses the term as just one of the many titles for Yahweh, the only true God.

Yet the problem arises from the fact that Muslims insist that Allah is not a title, but the personal name of the God of Islam. This becomes problematic since according to the Holy Bible the name of the God of Abraham is Yahweh/Jehovah, not Allah:

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am Yahweh (YHVH) and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty; BUT BY MY NAME, YAHWEH, I did not make myself known to them.” Exodus 6:2-3

Therefore, Christians can use Allah as a title or a generic noun for the true God, but not as the personal name for the God of the Holy Bible (Shamoun n d).

clip_image006[6]Who is the Islamic Jesus (Isa)?

File:Turkish-islam isa.jpg(Turkish Islam Isa, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 

It is not unusual to hear a statement like this: Both Christianity and Islam confirm who Jesus is; they both believe in Jesus. However, I ask, who is the Jesus of Islam in comparison with the Jesus of the Bible? In Islam, Jesus is known as Isa.

According to Quran 2:111 (Yusuf Ali translation), ‘And they [Jews or Christians] say: “None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their (vain) desires. Say: “Produce your proof if ye are truthful”’. This is not true for a genuine Christian. The only people who will enter Paradise are those who are forgiven sinners who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:9; John 3:16; John 6:47 and Acts 16:31). There are three references to Paradise in the New Testament:

  • Perhaps the most well-known example is in what Jesus said to the thief dying beside him on another cross: ‘And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”’ (Lk 23:43).
  • What was the apostle Paul’s experience? In 2 Cor 12:3-4 he wrote, ‘And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter’.
  • ‘Jesus told the church at Ephesus “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”’ (Rev 2:7).

So apparently paradise is where God is because it is called the “Paradise of God” and Jesus told the thief that he would be with him in Paradise that very day. Jack Wellman has written an excellent article to deal with the question, ‘What are the Differences Between Paradise and Heaven in the Bible?’ (Patheos, September 11, 2014) in which he concluded:

clip_image010

a. Curse on those who call Christ, the son of Allah[14]

Quran 9:30 states: ‘The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!’

b. Jesus, son of Mary, only a messenger

Quran 4:171 affirms:

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. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

Quran 5:75:

Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger [or, an apostle]; many were the messengers [or, the apostles] that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!

So Jesus, being the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger, which is contrary to Matt 11:27, where Jesus states that ‘all things have been handed over to me by my Father’.

c. Jesus and Mary as gods

Quran 5:116:

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Jesus and his mother are deities and the Holy Spirit is not stated as divine.

d. Allah cannot have a son

Quran 6:101:

To Him [Allah] is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: How can He have a son when He hath no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things.

Quran 72:3, ‘And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son’.

e. So, there can be no son who died for the sins of the world

The Islamic deduction is that Allah cannot have a consort, i.e. a husband, wife, spouse, companion, associate or partner (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. s v consort). Thus, Allah cannot have a son who died on the cross to provide salvation for people’s sins.

f. Islam confirms this of Jesus (Asa):

(1) Christ Jesus was the Messiah, son of Mary, and was a created being (Quran 3:45-47);

(2) Jesus was created, like Adam as a man, from the dust when God said, ‘Be’, and he was brought into existence (Quran 3:59);

(3) Jesus performed miracles (Quran 3:49);

(4) Jesus was not crucified but another man like him was killed in his place (Quran 4:157).

For further reading: I recommend these three articles about the Isa (Jesus) of Islam when compared with the Jesus of the Christian Scriptures:

E. Differences between Islam and Christianity

The above evidence should demonstrate clearly that the nature and attributes of Allah are quite different to those of Jehovah, the Almighty God. Allah and Jehovah do not refer to the same God.

The Jesus revealed in Scripture is not the Jesus (Isa) of Islam. This especially relates to Jesus’ origin and his crucifixion. The Christian understanding is that Jesus has always existed as John 1:1 confirms, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. Historically, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were the turning point in history and in making salvation available for all people. See Luke 23:26-56 and Luke 24:1-49 for confirmation of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in history. Evidence of Jesus’ atoning death for the sins of the world is found in Scriptures such as John 3:16-18 and 1 John 2:2.

F. What can we expect before Jesus’ return?

Mark 13:18-27 (New Living Translation) tells us what we can anticipate before Christ’s second coming:

And pray that your flight will not be in winter. For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!

“At that time, after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[15]

Then everyone will see the Son of Man[16] coming on the clouds with great power and glory[17]. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world[18]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

Therefore, before Jesus’ Second Coming, we can expect ‘greater anguish’ than at any time since the creation of the world. That sure sounds like catastrophic events. Unless God calls an end to this horrific distress, not a single person would survive in the world. But God will shorten the terror because of his elect believers. If it were not for Christians in the world at that time, God would destroy the whole of humanity. During this time there will be the actions of false messiahs and false prophets performing false miracles.

However, Jesus, the Son of Man, will come in the clouds and with great power and glory and he will put an end to the catastrophe.

G. Conclusion

On the human level, I see the future as very bleak for the West and for Christians. What we have seen on September 11, 2001, in Paris on 13 November 2015, and in Mali on 20 November 2015, should tell us that the Jihadist Muslims of IS are deadly serious about attacks on the West. The verses cited above from the Quran indicate that violence is one of the core values of Islam.

Genuine Muslims committed to Allah and the Quran are devoted to violence towards nonbelievers.

But there is hope – the blessed hope – for every Christian who has put his or her faith in Christ alone for salvation. This is stated clearly in Titus 2:11-13 (ESV):

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (emphasis added).

See also my other articles:

This glorious return of Jesus Christ to end all of the trauma on earth is beautifully anticipated in this Gospel song:

What A Day That Will Be [19]

Words and Music by Jim Hill

Mark 14:62
“And Jesus said, I AM:
and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power,
and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

v.1

There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

v. 2

There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus

Here are a couple versions of this very appropriate song for the theme of this article, when there will be ultimate peace.

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(Jim Hill, courtesy Youtube.com)

3d-red-star-small Bill & Gloria Gaither (1) – here the composer of the song, Jim Hill, sings the song.

3d-red-star-small Jim Hill, Donnie Sumner & Jimmy Blackwood.

Works consulted

Bar, S 2004. The religious sources of Islamic terrorism. Policy Review 125 (online), June & July, 27-37. Research Library, American Civil Liberties Union. Available at: https://action.aclu.org/files/fbimappingfoia/20111019/ACLURM001331.pdf (Accessed 23 November 2015).

BBC News 2002. Turkey’s charismatic pro-Islamic leader. World edition (online), 4 November. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2270642.stm (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Carol, S 2015. Understanding the Volatile and Dangerous Middle East: A Comprehensive Analysis. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

Coffman, E 2008. Why December 25? Christian History (online), 8 August. Available at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2000/dec08.html (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Edwards, R 2015. Do you really believe there are moderate Muslims? Newswithviews.com (online), 20 November. Available at: http://www.newswithviews.com/RonEdwards/ron152.htm (Accessed 23 November 2015).

Fealy, G & White, S (eds) 2008. Expressing Islam: Religious life and politics in Indonesia. Pasir, Panjang: Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. J Purswell (ed). Leister, England: Inter-Varsity Press (published by arrangement with Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Haddad, G F n d. The Hadith[20] of Allah’s Descent,[21] pt 2 (online). Available at: http://www.sunnah.org/aqida/haddad/Allah’s%20Descent2.htm (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Harper, D 2001-2015. Islam. In Online Etymology Dictionary. Available at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=Islam&searchmode=none (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Hassan, R 2015. Australian Muslims: A demographic, social and economic profile of Muslims in Australia 2015. International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding (online), 1-45. Adelaide, South Australia: University of South Australia. Available at: http://www.unisa.edu.au/Global/EASS/MnM/Publications/Australian_Muslims_Report_2015.pdf (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Ibrahim, F n d. Is Isa merely a Messenger or God incarnate? Answering-Islam. Available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Farooq_Ibrahim/incarnate.htm (Accessed 30 November 2015).

Leupold, H C 1971. Exposition of Isaiah (2 vols in 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.[22]

Markoe, L 2014. Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology. Religion News Service, The Huffington Post Australia (online), 26 September. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/muslim-scholars-islamic-state_n_5878038.html?ir=Australia (Accessed 23 November 2015).

Martindale, C C 1908. Christmas. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Available at New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Mukasey, M B 2011. America’s most wanted, The Wall Street Journal (online), January 22. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703583404576079930494332352 (Accessed 26 November 2011).

Oxford Islamic Studies Online 2015. Spread of Islam, The. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t253/e17 (Accessed 8 December 2015).

Pennington, R 2008. What is the meaning of the word ‘Islam’? Muslim Voices, October 1. Available at: http://muslimvoices.org/word-islam-meaning/ (Accessed 1 December 2015).

Roberts, M 2010. Seeking the peace of Christ: Christianity and peacemaking. Patheos (online). Available at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/seeking-the-peace-of-christ-christianity-and-peacemaking/ (Accessed 30 November 2015).

Robertson, A T 1930. Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Gospel According to Matthew, The Gospel According to Mark, vol 1. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Sales, L 2015. Reporter: H Cooper, ‘This is the man with the balance of power in NSW – Fred Nile’. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 7.30 (online), 16 April. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4218034.htm (Accessed 24 November 2015).

Sandeman, J 2014. Two Australian denominations face big challenges. Bible Society Live light (online), 11 July. Available at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/two-australian-denominations-face-big-challenges (Accessed 1 December 2015).

SBS News 2014. Explainer: What is Daesh? What’s in a name? (online). Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/12/04/explainer-what-daesh-whats-name (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Shamoun, S n d. Is Allah the God of the Bible? Answering Islam (online). Available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/god.htm (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Sookhdeo, P 2005. The myth of moderate Islam. The Spectator (online), 30 July. Available at: http://new.spectator.co.uk/2005/07/the-myth-of-moderate-islam/ (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Stowe, R 2000. Newark’s Disastrous Decline Under Spong: Post-Mortem of a Bishop’s Tenure. David Virtue (online), August 16. Available at: http://listserv.virtueonline.org/pipermail/virtueonline_listserv.virtueonline.org/2000-August/001571.html (Accessed 1 December 2015).

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Yavuz, M H 2009. Secularism and Muslim Democracy in Turkey. Cambridge Middle East Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (introduction available online at: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/88783/excerpt/9780521888783_excerpt.pdf (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Notes


[1] Most often the documentation from the Quran is given as Surah, which means chapter. However, throughout this article I will use Quran instead of Surah, for the benefit of non-Muslims.

[2] Christian Forums.net 2015. Christianity & Other Religions, ‘Islam – a religion of peace’, Classik#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/islam-a-religion-of-peace.62184/ (Accessed 1 December 2015). You’ll find a variation of this letter at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=620333818078936&id=283008705144784; https://plus.google.com/103745661768802901128/posts/U7x62k3pHkK; an exact replica of this hand-written letter is on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/afsh_9/status/619263580484059136 and https://twitter.com/ehsankhaniyc/status/626771542160965632 (Accessed 1 December 2015).

[3] Christian Forums, ibid., gerbilgirl#6.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#13.

[5] See Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. s v Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Recep-Tayyip-Erdogan (Accessed 26 November 2015).

[6] No pagination was given in the partial online edition from which this quote was obtained.

[7] The correct spelling is Tel Aviv.

[8] ABC News (Australia), 17 May 2011, reported, ‘Muslim group wants sharia law in Australia’ (online). Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-17/muslim-group-wants-sharia-law-in-australia/2717096 (Accessed 23 November 2015).

[9] There is an article by Bilveer Singh on ‘The challenge of militant Islam and terrorism in Indonesia’ (2010), but I do not have access to it.

[10] “Letters,” Journey, November 2007, p. 15. Journey is published by the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod.

[11] This information is gleaned with assistance from Thiessen (1949:138-140).

[12] ‘The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038…. Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts…. The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. about A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata I.21) says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ’s birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus…. Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help’ (Martindale 1908). However, where did the birthday celebration of December 25 originate? ‘Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ’s birth and his baptism. Most easterners eventually adopted December 25’ (Coffman 2008).

[13] Abrogation means, ‘to end or cancel (something) in a formal and official way: to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a responsibility)’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. S v abrogation), available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abrogation (Accessed 28 November 2015). This means that in the Quran, Muhammad’s revelation said to do one thing but in a few verses later or in other verses that teaching was called off; it was reversed. He changed his mind.

[14] Much of the material in this section is taken from Ibrahim (n d) who is a former Muslim who became a Christian convert by comparing the Islamic view of God and Jesus to that revealed in the Christian Scriptures.

[15] The footnote stated: ‘See Isa 13:10; 34:4; Joel 2:10’.

[16] The footnote stated, ‘“Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself’.

[17] The footnote stated, ‘See Dan 7:13’.

[18] The footnote stated, ‘Greek from the four winds’.

[19] Available at: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/sounds/Hymns/what_a_day_that_will_be.htm (Accessed 23 November 2015).

[20] Hadith, from the Arabic meaning ‘News’ or ‘Story, also spelled Hadit, was ‘a record of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, revered and received as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to the authority of the Quran’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. S v Hadith), available at: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Hadith (Accessed 28 November 2015).

[21] Islamic scholars differ concerning the meaning of Allah’s descent (see Haddad n d, pt 1).

[22] This was formerly published in 1968 in two volumes: (a) Exposition of Isaiah, Volume I (chs 1-39) and (b) Exposition of Isaiah, Volume II (chs 40-66).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 April 2016.

Did John 8:58 refer to Jesus as God?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Praise Jesus

ChristArt

Did Jesus really say anything while he was on earth about his being God? Yes, he did, in John 8:58, which reads: ‘Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am”’ (ESV).

R C H Lenski, a Greek exegete, provides this explanation of this verse, that in my understanding of the original language, gives an accurate explanation of the NT Greek:

   58) Not only does Jesus affirm what the question of the Jews asks, with the solemn formula of verity and authority he affirms vastly more. Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am. The aorist genesthai (prin with the infinitive after a positive verb, R. 977, 1091) marks the historical point of time when Abraham came into existence as against the time prior to that point when Abraham did not exist. this aorist is in contrast to eimi [I am]; which Jesus predicates of his own person (ego), here a finite verb not the mere copula (R. 394). As the aorist sets a point of beginning for the existence of Abraham, so the present tense “I am” predicates absolute existence for the person of Jesus, with no point of beginning at all. That is why Jesus does not use the imperfect emen, “I was”; for this would say only that the existence of the person antedates the time of Abraham and would leave open the question whether the person of Jesus also had a beginning like that of Abraham (only earlier) or not. What Jesus declares is that, although his earthly life covers less than fifty years, his existence as a person (ego) is constant and independent of any beginning in time as was that of Abraham. For what Jesus here says about himself in comparison with any other man, no matter how far back the beginning of that man’s existence lies. “I am”=I exist. Thus with the simplest words Jesus testifies to the divine, eternal pre-existence of his person.

To speak of an “ideal” existence before the days of Abraham is to turn the solemn assurance of Jesus into a statement that means nothing. Unacceptable are also all other efforts to empty out this divine “I am” and to substitute for the fact and reality of existence before Abraham something merely mental, whether this occurred in the mind of Jesus or in that of God. Yet this “I am” is nothing new: by means of two tiny words it states only what Jesus has testified and continues to testify of himself in many other words in other connections. Thus, too, it forms the parting of the ways for faith and unbelief.

Yes, Jesus has seen Abraham – the deduction of the Jews is right in every respect, only it should go much farther.

59) As Jesus had made his meaning clear to the Jews in the first place, so also he did in this final word. they understand its full import, namely that, if the existence of the person of Jesus antedates that of Abraham in absolute continuation, he declares himself to be God. To them this is rank blasphemy. They took up stones, therefore, in order to throw at him; but Jesus was hidden and went out of the Temple. (Lenski 1943:670-671).

Note the R in this quote from Lenski refers to A. T. Robertson’s, fourth edition of his massive Greek grammar (Robertson 1934).

This explanation of the Greek from Lenski is technical, but it demonstrates from the NT’s original language that Jesus was confirming that he is eternally God and he did not stop being God when on earth, according to John 8:58. To the Jews of Jesus’ day that was a statement of blasphemy for which He needed to receive capital punishment – so they wanted to stone him.

They knew what Jesus meant by these words. He was claiming to be God and they wanted him executed.

At no time before, during, or after Jesus’ coming to earth did Jesus ever cease being God. He is an eternal member of the Trinity. To say that Jesus was not God while on earth declares a fundamental denial of a core Christian teaching – the Trinity.

Works consulted

Lenski, R C H 1943. Commentary on the New Testament: The interpretation of St. John’s Gospel. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (special limited edition from Augsburg Fortress).

Robertson, A T 1934. A grammar of the Greek New Testament in the light of historical research. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 October 2016.

Is Jesus a God and not the God?

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Spencer D Gear

Colored in Cross

ChristArt

It is common among some cults that they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ’s deity as being God. It was promoted in the early days of the Christian church by Arians. Two contemporary examples of an Arian philosophy would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christadelphians.

The Jehovah’s Witness view of John 1:1

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

I first encountered this quote when a Jehovah’s Witness was in my house sharing his views and when I challenged him, he leapt from the seat and left his trusty trouble shooting manual behind. This is called, Reasoning from the Scriptures (1985:212-213). However, it is now available online:

Does John 1:1 prove that Jesus is God?

John 1:1, RS: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [also KJ, JB, Dy, Kx, NAB].” NE reads “what God was, the Word was.” Mo says “the Logos was divine.” AT and Sd tell us “the Word was divine.” The interlinear rendering of ED is “a god was the Word.” NW reads “the Word was a god”; NTIV uses the same wording.

What is it that these translators are seeing in the Greek text that moves some of them to refrain from saying “the Word was God”? The definite article (the) appears before the first occurrence of the·os? (God) but not before the second. The articular (when the article appears) construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous (without the article) predicate noun before the verb (as the sentence is constructed in Greek) points to a quality about someone. So the text is not saying that the Word (Jesus) was the same as the God with whom he was but, rather, that the Word was godlike, divine, a god. (See 1984 Reference edition of NW, p. 1579.)

What did the apostle John mean when he wrote John 1:1? Did he mean that Jesus is himself God or perhaps that Jesus is one God with the Father? In the same chapter, John 1 verse 18, John wrote: “No one [“no man,” KJ, Dy] has ever seen God; the only Son [“the only-begotten god,” NW], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (RS) Had any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son? Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God? Obviously not. Toward the end of his Gospel, John summarized matters, saying: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, [not God, but] the Son of God.”—John 20:31, RS (Watchtower Online Library: Jesus Christ n d)

That is very clear. The JW view is that John 1:1 does not teach the deity of Christ but that Jesus is ‘a god’. John was teaching that Jesus was obviously not God. That’s JW false teaching, as we will see below.

Denial of Jesus’ deity by the Christadelphians

Christadelphian Hall in Bath, United Kingdom (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In an article, “Why was Jesus Christ?” the Christadelphians wrote:

These New Testament Scriptures make it clear that the teaching of the Old and New Testaments is entirely consistent. Throughout the Bible the message is that God is One, not three persons in one Godhead….

For us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:6);

There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… (1 Timothy 2:5);

Keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He (God) will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honour and everlasting power. Amen (1 Timothy 6:14-16).

Notice how careful Scripture is at all times to distinguish between the Father and the Son. God is the source and originator of everything. He dwells in unapproachable light and has never been seen by any mortal. Jesus is His Son and came into existence when he was born of the virgin Mary by the power of God – the Holy Spirit. He is described as “the man Christ Jesus” (Ipswich Christadelphians n d).

So there you have it. Jesus is not God; he is the man Christ Jesus and there is no Trinity. That’s Christadelphian false teaching as the following biblical data will demonstrate.

Pushing Arianism on an evangelical forum

 

What is Arianism? Matt Slick of CARM summarised this heretical view promoted by some in the early church:

Arianism developed around 320, in Alexandria Egypt concerning the person of Christ and is named after Arius of Alexandar (sic).[1]  For his doctrinal teaching he was exiled to Illyria in 325 after the first ecumenical council at Nicaea condemned his teaching as heresy.  It was the greatest of heresies within the early church that developed a significant following.  Some say, it almost took over the church.

Arius taught that only God the Father was eternal and too pure and infinite to appear on the earth.  Therefore, God produced Christ the Son out of nothing as the first and greatest creation.  The Son is then the one who created the universe.  Because the Son relationship of the Son to the Father is not one of nature, it is, therefore, adoptive.   God adopted Christ as the Son.  Though Christ was a creation, because of his great position and authority, he was to be worshipped and even looked upon as God.  Some Arians even held that the Holy Spirit was the first and greatest creation of the Son.

At Jesus‘ incarnation, the Arians asserted that the divine quality of the Son, the Logos, took the place of the human and spiritual aspect of Jesus, thereby denying the full and complete incarnation of God the Son, second person of the Trinity.

In asserting that Christ the Son, as a created thing, was to be worshipped, the Arians were advocating idolatry (Slick n d).

However, even on an evangelical forum on the Internet, this kind of teaching emerged through the deceptiveness of a person wanting to push his Arian epistemology that denies the deity of Jesus Christ. A person wrote:

The word was a God but not Almighty God that is the difference.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God.
They missed the A out, it’s obvious to any one reading that line of scripture’
Almighty God did not come in the flesh, it was his only begotten son that came, that’s why just before his death Jesus prayed to his Father and said let your will be done not mine.
Then when he was being put to death he said My God! My God! why have you forsaken me.
So there is no Controversy about that Jesus is not his Father God Almighty.
Your treating Jesus if he was some sort of Con-man, play acting, how disrespectful is that.
I am sorry to the board if I am not allowed to discuss it on this forum, but it’s very important as lives are at stake.
[2]

A person responded: ‘This is false. The (sic) is no justification to add an “a” so the John 1:1 says “…the word was a god.” It’s just not in the original. Also, there is no difference between “Almighty God” and “God”’.[3]

How does one respond to someone who claims that Jesus is not God? Earlier in the thread, this promoter of Arian, anti-deity of Jesus, stated,

What did the apostle John mean when he wrote John 1:1?
He said the word was God but not Almighty God, did he?
Did he mean that Jesus is himself God or perhaps that Jesus is one God with the Father?
In the same chapter, verse 18, John wrote: “No one [“no man,” KJ, Dy] has ever seen God; the only Son [“the only-begotten god,” NW], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (RS)
Had any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son?
Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God?
Obviously not.
[4]

My response was:[5]

If one does not understand the nuances of Greek grammar, there will be a translation of John 1:1 like that in the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which reads, ‘In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with god, and the Word was a god‘ (NWT, John 1:1, emphasis added).

To the person unfamiliar with Greek grammar, this looks like a reasonable translation as the Greek for ‘and the Word was a god’ (NWT) in the Greek is kai theos en ho logos (transliteration of the Greek). You will notice that theos is not ho theos. Therefore, to the untrained eye it could be translated ‘and a God was the Word’ or ‘the word was a god’.

However, The Granville Sharp Rule of Greek grammar refutes this JW translation. In English, if we want to indicate the predicate nominative after the verb to be, it is indicated by its place in the sentence – after the verb. That is not so in Greek as word order does not indicate meaning. Conjugation and declension of words determine their places and meaning in a sentence. [In my part of the English-speaking world, what is called the predicate nominative of a sentence in the USA is called the complement of a sentence.]
The Granville Sharp Rule means that to help us determine which is the subject of a sentence and which is the predicate nominative, the definite article is dropped before the noun that is the predicate nominative – when the verb to be is used in the sentence.

So in this section of John 1:1 we have, kai theos [predicate nominative] en ho logos [subject]. Therefore, based on correct Greek grammar, the translation is: ‘And the Word was God’ or to emphasise this, we could correctly translate as, ‘The Word was the God’.

Thus, the JW translation has not taken into consideration how one identifies the predicate nominative from the subject nominative of a sentence using the verb ‘to be’. The link to the fuller explanation I have given above of the Granville Sharp Rule provides other NT Greek examples of its use.

To the JW, Arian promoter, I responded:

You make this kind of statement that Jesus, the Word, is only a God because you are ignorant of the Greek grammar. When you don’t understand the Granville Sharp Rule of Greek grammar, you will come to your ungrammatical kind of JW translation that ‘the word was a God’. See my fuller explanation above.

You call yourself ‘kingdomfirst’. Are you a member or are you promoting the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower view of the non-deity of Jesus Christ?

Your knowledge of Greek grammar is deficient. That’s what causes you to mistranslate John 1:1 as ‘the Word was a God’.[6]

What biblical evidence is there to affirm Jesus as God?

See:

clip_image002 Sue Bohlin,Jesus claims to be God’;

clip_image002[1] Matt Slick, ‘Jesus is God’;

clip_image002[2] Norman Geisler, ‘The uniqueness of Jesus Christ’;

clip_image002[3] Matt Slick,Bible verses that show Jesus is Divine’;

clip_image002[4] Bill Pratt, ‘Did Jesus’s Disciples Think He Was God? Part 1’;

clip_image002[5] Bill Pratt,Did Jesus’s Disciples Think He was God? Part 2’;

clip_image002[6] Matt Perman,How can Jesus be God and man?

clip_image002[7]Spencer Gear,Was Jesus omniscient while on earth?

The Nicene Creed rejects Arianism and promotes orthodox Christianity. It states:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (gennethenta), not made, being of one substance (homoousion consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (en pote hote ouk en), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion51—all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them (Wikisource 2013).

Works consulted

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the centuries: A history of the Christian church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Ipswich Christadelphians n d. Who was Jesus Christ? (online). Available at: http://www.ipswichchristadelphians.info/index.php/component/content/article/13-minute-meditations/105-120819a (Accessed 4 October 2013). This is Ipswich in the United Kingdom.

Reasoning from the Scriptures 1985. Brooklyn, New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

Slick, M n d. Arianism (online). CARM, available at: http://carm.org/arianism (Accessed 4 October 2013).

Watchtower Online Library n d. Jesus Christ (online). Available at: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989240 (Accessed 4 October 2013).

Notes:


[1] Arius was a presbyter to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 318 or 319 and Alexander ‘preached to his presbyters on “The Great Mystery of the Trinity in Unity.” One of the presbyters, Arius, an ascetic scholar and popular preacher, attacked the sermon because he believed that it failed to uphold a distinction among the persons in the Godhead. In his desire to avoid a polytheistic conception of God, Arius took a position that did injustice to the true deity of Christ’. The orthodox view promoted by Athanasius and others was that ‘Christ had existed from all eternity with the Father and was of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father, although He was a distinct personality…. Christ was coequal, coeternal, and consubstantial with the Father’. This wasaffirmed at the Council of Nicea in 325 (Cairns 1981:133-134).

[2] Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, ‘The Holy Trinity’, kingdomfirst#136, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7775663-14/ (Accessed 4 October 2013, emphasis in original). I suspect that this person is a Jehovah’s Witness or a person of similarArian belief who is promoting his views. This seems to be inferred by his statement above, ‘I am sorry to the board if I am not allowed to discuss it on this forum, but it’s very important as lives are at stake’. By 5 October 2013, this post had been removed from this Christian Forums; thread because, I expect, of kingdomfirst’s violation of the Statement of Faith of Christian Forums’ website, which affirms the content of the Nicene Creed (his post was not able to be accessed 5 October 2013).

[3] TomZzyzx #142, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7775663-14/ (Accessed 4 October 2013). However, because kingdomfirst’s posts have been removed, some of the other links to his posts, including my own as OzSpen, could have been removed from the thread.

[4] This is part of what kingdomfirst#120, ibid, wrote.

[5] OzSpen#146, ibid.

[6] OzSpen#147, ibid.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.