Dr James White…
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
There is no one who does good.
The question seems to always come up (of course), “Can you give me proof that God exists?” When such a person says that he does not see any convincing evidence for God’s existence, what he is doing is appealing to his subjective experience and opinions for validating God’s existence. He is appealing to his personal preferences, opinions, and experiences which led that person to doubt God’s existence. What would convince one person might not convince another.
When an unbeliever asks for material evidence in the search for answers, they are looking for something that is testable, something that can be proven using the scientific method. The scientific method is a system of learning that consists of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, prediction, and theory. It is based on logic and observations of the material universe and its properties, something that excludes transcendence, that which is in the Christian believer’s worldview. God exists outside of, and independent of, the material universe.
So if the unbeliever is asking for evidence, something within the material world, it would be considered a category error.
In a nutshell the materialist cannot logically ask for material based evidence for the immaterial without displaying a category mistake, so the materialist is left with the option of trying to demonstrate that the Christian worldview is irrational. If he can’t show that Christian theism is false, then how can the unbeliever rationally maintain his atheism?
Materialism, can’t be proven to be true. It is assumed. So how can an atheist prove there is no God? How does he demonstrate that materialism is the correct philosophical standpoint? I ask that the unbeliever truly search the Word of God in the Revelation that He has breathed onto the pages of the Bible. Do your research and pray that God will light the Way. I truly believe that the unbeliever truly knows there is a God as it is Worded in Psalm 14:1.
Materialism: Materialism is the belief that matter is the only thing that exists and that all things can be reduced to matter (and energy since matter is a form of energy). Therefore, materialism would state that all things in the universe, including mankind, are necessarily restricted to operate within the bounds of physical laws.
Historical revisionists like to tell the fable of the Medieval Church teaching that the earth is flat. Along with that fable skeptics feel vilified when science proves the Bible incorrect. Is this the case in actuality? No, it is a straw-man argument. As far back as the ancient Greeks, people knew that the earth was round.The whole fable is simply nineteenth century hype.
Oxford Professor Alister McGrath stated, “The idea that science and religion are in perpetual conflict is no longer taken seriously by any major historian of science. One of the last remaining bastions of atheism which survives only at the popular level – namely, the myth that an atheistic, fact-based science is permanently at war with a faith-based religion”
Have the skeptic show you the scripture where a flat earth is taught.
When you are confronted by an unbeliever stating that there is little or no intolerance or discrimination against Christians, here is a plethora of documentation, refuting that erroneous statement. Keep in mind that this is only Europe, not the rest of the world.
Please pray for our Christian Brothers and Sisters!
The debate on the so-called “Assumption of Mary”. Sungenis sounds educated but is blinded by the Roman Catholic Church. Please pray for him.
This is a re-blog from Christianpublishing house.com
Edward D. Andrews
The name Lucifer, a Latin translation of the Hebrew word for “day star” occurs but one time (Isa. 14:12) in the Scriptures and only in some versions of the Bible. For example, the King James Version renders Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”
The Hebrew word (hê·lēl) translated “Lucifer” means “light-bearing object in the sky, Shining One, i.e., Morning star or Day star, the planet Venus, prominent in the morning, referring to the majesty and high status of a king.”
The Septuagint uses the Greek word (ἑωσφόρος) that means “bringer of dawn.” Hence, some translations render the original Hebrew “morning star” (CSB, LEB) or “Daystar,” (ESV) or “son of the dawn.” (NIV, NASB) However, the Latin Vulgate of Jerome uses “Lucifer” (light bearer), and this is the reason for the appearance of that term in the King James Bible and other versions of the Bible.
ANGELSThe expression “shining one,” or “Lucifer,” is found in what Isaiah prophetically commanded the Israelites to proclaim as a “taunt [or proverb] against the king of Babylon.” Therefore, it is part of a proverb essentially focused on the Babylonian empire. That fact that the description “shining one” is directed at a man and not Satan (i.e., a spirit person) is further seen by the declaration: “you will be thrust down to Sheol.” “Sheol [is] the Underworld, Hades, the Grave, i.e., a place under the earth where the dead reside, the realm of death.” Furthermore, the following verse from Isaiah 14:16 states, “Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms.’” Unquestionably, “Lucifer” refers to a human, not to Satan, a spirit person. – Isaiah 14:4, 15-16.
Why is such a prominent description given to the Babylonian empire? We must understand that the king of Babylon was to be declared the shining one only after his fall and it was in an insulting remark, in a contemptuous way. (Isaiah 14:3) Selfish pride moved Babylon’s kings to glorify and elevate themselves above everyone else and every kingdom around them. So great was the arrogance of this empire that it is described as boasting: “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” – Isaiah 14:13-14.
second coming Cover AMERICA IN BIBLE PROPHECY_ BLESSED IN SATAN’S WORLD_02 Identifying the AntiChrist
“The stars of God” are referring to the kings of the royal line of David. (Numbers 24:17) From King David forward, these “stars” ruled from Mount Zion. King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem; after that, the name Zion came to apply to the whole city. Under the Mosaic Law, all male Israelites were required to travel to Zion three times a year. Thus, it became “the mount of assembly.” By plotting to enslave the Judean kings and then eliminate them from that mountain, Nebuchadnezzar was disclosing his intention of putting himself above those “stars.” Instead of giving God praise and honor for the conquest of Jerusalem and Judea, he arrogantly puts himself in God’s place. Thus, it is after being humiliatingly cut down to the earth that the Babylonian empire is mockingly referred to as the “shining one.”
The pride of the Babylonian rulers positively reflected the attitude of “the god of this world,” Satan the Devil. (2 Corinthians 4:4) He also strongly desires power and longs to place himself above God. However, Lucifer is definitely not a name that was Scripturally given to Satan. First, let us read for the context,
Isaiah 14:12-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O shining one, son of dawn!
How you have been cut down to the earth,
you who have conquered the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;[q]
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own house.
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like an abhorrent branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be united with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.
“May the offspring of evildoers
never again be named.
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
Now, on this The New American Commentary says,
14:12 The introductory “How” (ʾîk) in 14:12 (repeating 14:4b) marks the beginning of this new paragraph, reminding the audience that this is a lament for a dead person who has fallen (cf. the lament for Saul in 2 Sam 1:19). The lament mourns the humiliation of one who formerly enjoyed a high position. Being cast down to earth implies a loss of power, status, self-determination, and influence. The “morning star” (lit. “shining one,” hîlēl) probably refers to Venus, which is the “son of the dawn,” the morning star that was sometimes used to represent a divinity in ancient Near Eastern religion. This analogy indicates how high this Babylonian king had raised himself up and how far he would fall. Similarly, religious and political leaders today who claim for themselves undue power and authority will need to resist the temptation to think that they control everything (setting themselves up as gods), lest God cause them to suffer the same humiliating fate.
14:13–14 Why did this morning star fall? An attitude of selfish pride led to an attempt to usurp someone else’s authority. The “I will” clauses trace his arrogant actions: (a) He moved from his proper place to putting his throne above other heavenly beings (“the stars of El”). (b) He enthroned himself in the meeting of the divine assembly on a sacred mountain in the north. (c) He ascended above the clouds. (d) He made himself like the Most High God. Several of these concepts run parallel to stories in myths in ancient Near Eastern religions where one god fought with another god in order to gain greater power and sit on his throne. Some myths had the pantheon of gods assemble at meetings on the northern mountain of Zaphon. The intention of this arrogant morning star was to ascend over the clouds to become equal or higher than the highest deity Elyon. The behavior of the king of Babylon was parallel to what the morning star tried to do, though the poem does not reveal exactly what this king did. In essence he tried to rule the world by supplanting God.
14:15–21 The beginning of the previous paragraph about the morning star indicates that pride led to failure and the arrogant one was eventually cast down to earth in shame (14:12). This new paragraph begins with ʾak similar to 14:4b and 14:12, but it applies this same fate to “you,” meaning the king of Babylon, because the king will end up in the same place as the morning star (14:15). Instead of replacing God in the heights of the sacred mountain in the north, the king of Babylon will go to Sheol, even to the remotest depths of the pit of Sheol. Elsewhere the “pit” is a synonym for Sheol (Ezek 26:20; 32:18–24), but here it seems to be a particularly distant place in Sheol, the furthest place one can get from the heights of heaven.
In light of the king’s great accomplishments and pride, the people on earth (or the kings in Sheol) will be astonished at how far this great king has fallen (14:16). He will be utterly humiliated and shamed by what will happen. Once he had the power to cause any nation to tremble in fear and could change the course of history for any city he might attack. He was a ruthless tyrant who could turn a defeated city into a desert place without inhabitants and he could treat people unmercifully (14:17). But now in Sheol he has absolutely no power to do anything at all.
A second sign of his humiliation is related to his disgraceful burial (14:18–19). His shameful treatment of others will come back to haunt him. Instead of having an impressive burial chamber or an elaborate gold-filled tomb dedicated in his honor like most kings, this king will have no glory at all after his death. He will have a dishonorable burial; there will be no royal tomb because he will be considered a “rejected, loathed” (nitʿāb) branch. This picture contrasts with the messianic shoot or sprout in 11:1; he is full of the Spirit and will rule the nations in justice.
Explaining the Doctrine of the Last ThingsThe imagery in 14:19 is not that clear. The idea of being “cast out of your tomb” does not coincide very well with the rest of the verse. Wildberger suggests that “the OT normally speaks of the corpse being ‘cast forth’ in situations in which no one is able to bury someone who has died or else no one wishes to do so (cf. 1 Kgs 13:24f; Isa 34:3).” Thus the whole verse seems to picture the Babylonian king as one among many who were slain in battle and left unburied by a victorious enemy. This great “shoot, branch” (a symbol of a king as in 11:1) will be loathed as his body rots among the dead bodies of fellow soldiers who died trying to defend the king. The state of the “trampled corpse” (kĕpeger mûbās) is unknown, but if a body was trampled underfoot by men or horses, this treatment would do grave injury to the corpse, desecrating and humiliating the dead. This kind of desecration of a dead body was especially shocking in the ancient Near Eastern world where honoring the dead was very important. To go unburied and be left on a battle field for the dogs and vultures to eat was the greatest fear of every soldier (Ezek 39:4, 17–20). Leaving people unburied was the ultimate way to disgrace their memory (Jer 22:19; 36:30). The spirits of those slain (including this proud king) will descend to the “stones of the pit,” an enigmatic phrase that probably does not refer to the practice of burying people by piling stones over them (Josh 8:29; 2 Sam 18:17). Stones always go down to the very bottom of any hole, so if one goes down to the stones, that person is as low as one can get in the pit of Sheol.
The Babylonian king’s final humiliation will involve being rejected by his people and family (14:20–21). Even if enemies might defeat a king in battle or shame a king at his death, usually his own people would rise up to defend his honor and support him. He would be considered a military hero who valiantly and sacrificially gave his life for his people. At the very least, the king’s own family would tell stories of his great character and honor his memory with monuments and parades. But this evil king will never receive even the slightest recognition from anyone, not even from his own offspring. This will happen because it will become very clear to everyone that the king’s selfish actions caused the destruction of his own nation and the deaths of thousands of his own people. Instead of blaming their destruction on their vile enemies, his own people will realize that the Babylonian king killed thousands of them by his foolish actions. Although leaders may be able to fool their followers for a time, eventually people can see through the rhetoric and realize that some leaders in the past and today are more interested in their own power than anything else. They really do not care if they destroy a nation, a company, a seminary, or a church; all they want to do is to further their own cause and create a name for themselves.
Consequently, the king’s ideal of being buried in the family tomb with his ancestors and children will not happen (14:20a). Instead, this king’s name and the name of his children will not be mentioned ever again. No one will want to remember the tremendous shame he brought on the nation, so every attempt will be made to remove his name. One way of wiping out a name is to kill all the children of the king, so that none of them will ever restore the family name to power (14:21; see 2 Kgs 10:17). The urgency of the situation is in the demand that “they must not rise and must not inherit the land.” The people themselves will conclude that it is best to exterminate this family line so that none of the king’s heirs will come back at a later time and try to make a legitimate claim to authority. A second reason why the children will be killed is because of the sins of their father. This indicates that evil and pride were characteristic of several Babylonian kings in this family. A third justification for this action is that the people did not want another king to follow the same pattern by going on the offensive again and trying to conquer all the cities on the earth (14:21b). It appears that the people just wanted to live in peace and were not interested in empire building by planting powerful Babylonian cities over the whole inhabited world.
Now, let us look at the Holman Old Testament Commentary,
14:11–19. Glittering royal robes gave place to hungry maggots and worms. This was all because of Babylon’s pride, trying to occupy the throne of God. The Babylonian king is mocked with a lament. The word How often introduces a statement of grief and bereavement. This lament is mockery, a song of joy. The evil king tried to portray himself as the morning star—that is, as the planet Venus understood by Israel’s neighbors as a god. Now such delusions of grandeur disappear in the realism of Sheol. What a fall! Certainly, he was not anything like the Most High.
This is not the fall of Satan, but the fall of a proud human being who tried to usurp divine authority and divine worship. One who wanted to join the assembly of the gods must content himself with a bed of worms. Even Sheol’s occupants stand amazed at such a fall from world domination to worm food. The situation was the same on earth. Babylon’s own people did not give him the normal honor of a common burial, much less a regal interment. He had to lie on the battlefield in the pile of battle casualties. Nor could he expect a king’s normal heritage—a son left on the vacated throne. Instead, his sons would never receive mention; they would vanish from history. The only dynasty Babylonia would establish would be in the realm of the dead.
CPH BIBLE EDUCATION
Another fine post by Dr. Dave Miller Ph.D, of Apologetics Press Copyright 2005
Violence and the Quran
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.
One would expect an uninspired book to contradict itself or speak ambiguously on various subjects, at times appearing both to endorse and condemn a practice. So it is with physical violence in the Quran. Yet, despite the occasional puzzling remark that may seem to imply the reverse, the Quran is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. For example, within months of the Hijrah, Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation that clarified the issue:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil) (Surah 2:190-194, emp. added).
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel his people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can (Surah 2:216-217, emp. added).
Muhammad was informed that warfare was prescribed for him! Though he may have hated warfare, it was actually good for him, and what he loved, i.e., non-warfare, was actually bad for him! And though under normal circumstances, fighting is not appropriate during sacred months, killing was warranted against those who sought to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion. Killing is better than being persecuted! A similar injunction states: “Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed Able to give them victory” (Surah 22:39, emp. added). In fact, “Allah loveth those who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure” (Surah 61:4, emp. added).
In a surah titled “Repentance” that issues stern measures to be taken against idolaters, the requirement to engage in carnal warfare is apparent:
Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty: Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His guidance). And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him). Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 9:1-5, emp. added).
The ancient Muslim histories elaborate on the occasion of these admonitions: “[T]he idolaters were given four months’ respite to come and go as they pleased in safety, but after that God and His Messenger would be free from any obligation towards them. War was declared upon them, and they were to be slain or taken captive wherever they were found” (Lings, 1983, p. 323).
Later in the same surah, “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low” (Surah 9:29, emp. added). “Those who have been given the Scripture” is a reference to Jews and Christians. The surah advocates coercion against Jews and Christians in order to physically force them to pay the jizyah—a special religious tax imposed on religious minorities (see Nasr, 2002, p. 166). Muslim translator Mohammed Pickthall explains the historical setting of this quranic utterance: “It signified the end of idolatry in Arabia. The Christian Byzantine Empire had begun to move against the growing Muslim power, and this Surah contains mention of a greater war to come, and instructions with regard to it” (p. 145). Indeed, the final verse of Surah 2 calls upon Allah to give Muslims “victory over the disbelieving folk” (vs. 286), rendered by Rodwell: “give us victory therefore over the infidel nations.” That this stance by the Quran was to be expected is evident from the formulation of the Second Pledge of Aqabah, in which the men pledged their loyalty and their commitment to protecting Muhammad from all opponents. This pledge included duties of war, and was taken only by the males. Consequently, the First Aqabah pact, which contained no mention of war, became known as the “pledge of the women” (Lings, p. 112).
Additional allusions to warfare in the Quran are seen in the surah, “The Spoils,” dated in the second year of the Hijrah (A.D. 623), within a month after the Battle of Badr:
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah…. If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them…. And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah’s purpose). Lo! they cannot escape. Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom ye know not…. O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty stedfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred stedfast they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence…. It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise. Had it not been for an ordinance of Allah which had gone before, an awful doom had come upon you on account of what ye took. Now enjoy what ye have won, as lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 8:39,57,59-60,65,67-69, emp. added; cf. 33:26).
Muslim scholar Pickthall readily concedes the context of these verses:
vv. 67-69 were revealed when the Prophet had decided to spare the lives of the prisoners taken at Badr and hold them to ransom, against the wish of Omar, who would have executed them for their past crimes. The Prophet took the verses as a reproof, and they are generally understood to mean that no quarter ought to have been given in that first battle (p. 144, emp. added).
So the Quran indicates that at the Battle of Badr, no captives should have been taken. The enemy should have been completely slaughtered, with no quarter given. This very fate awaited the Jewish Bani Qurayzah, when some 700 men were beheaded by the Muslims with Muhammad’s approval (Lings, p. 232). Likewise, members of a clan of the Bani Nadir were executed in Khaybar for concealing their treasure rather than forfeiting it to the Muslims (Lings, p. 267).
Another surah describes how allowances respecting the daily prayers were to be made for Muhammad’s Muslim warriors when engaged in military action:
And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you. And when thou (O Muhammad) art among them and arrangest (their) worship for them, let only a party of them stand with thee (to worship) and let them take their arms. Then when they have performed their prostrations let them fall to the rear and let another party come that hath not worshipped and let them worship with thee, and let them take their precaution and their arms. Those who disbelieve long for you to neglect your arms and your baggage that they may attack you once for all. It is no sin for you to lay aside your arms, if rain impedeth you or ye are sick. But take your precaution. Lo! Allah prepareth for the disbelievers shameful punishment. When ye have performed the act of worship, remember Allah, standing, sitting and reclining. And when ye are in safety, observe proper worship. Worship at fixed hours hath been enjoined on the believers. Relent not in pursuit of the enemy (Surah 4:101-104, emp. added; cf. 73:20).
These verses show that the Quran implicitly endorses armed conflict and war to advance Islam.
Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns (cf. Lings, pp. 86,111). Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight” (n.d., p. xxvi).
What a contrast with Jesus—Who never once took up the sword or encouraged anyone else to do so! The one time that one of His close followers took it upon himself to do so, the disciple was soundly reprimanded and ordered to put the sword away, with the added warning: “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Indeed, when Pilate quizzed Jesus regarding His intentions, He responded: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36)—the very opposite of the Aqabah pact. And whereas the Quran boldly declares, “And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you” (Surah 2:194; cf. 22:60), Jesus counters, “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:39,44). The New Testament record presents a far higher, more noble and godly ethic on the matter of violence and armed conflict. In fact, the following verses demonstrate how irrevocably deep the chasm is between the Quran and the New Testament on this point:
[L]ove your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? (Matthew 5:44-46).
But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36).
What an amazing contrast! The New Testament says to love, bless, do good to, and pray for those who persecute you. The Quran says that “persecution is worse than killing” (Surah 2:217)—i.e., it is better to kill your persecutors than to endure their persecutions!
The standard Muslim attempt to justify the Quran’s endorsement of violence is that such violence was undertaken in self-defense (e.g., Surah 42:41). Consider the following Muslim explanation:
At the time when this surah (Surah 2—DM) was revealed at Al-Madinah, the Prophet’s own tribe, the pagan Qureysh at Mecca, were preparing to attack the Muslims in their place of refuge. Cruel persecution was the lot of Muslims who had stayed in Meccan territory or who journeyed thither, and Muslims were being prevented from performing the pilgrimage. The possible necessity of fighting had been foreseen in the terms of the oath, taken at Al-Aqabah by the Muslims of Yathrib before the Flight, to defend the Prophet as they would their own wives and children, and the first commandment to fight was revealed to the Prophet before his flight from Mecca; but there was no actual fighting by the Muslims until the battle of Badr. Many of them were reluctant, having before been subject to a rule of strict non-violence. It was with difficulty that they could accept the idea of fighting even in self-defence [sic]…. (Pickthall, p. 33, emp. added).
Apart from the fact that the claim that Muhammad’s advocacy of fighting was justifiable on the ground of self-defense is contrary to the historical facts (since the wars waged by Muhammad and the territorial expansion of Islam achieved by his subsequent followers cannot all be dismissed as defensive), this explanation fails to come to grips with the propriety of shedding of blood and inflicting violence—regardless of the reason. Muslim scholar Seyyed Nasr seems unconscious of the inherent self-contradiction apparent in his own remark:
The spread of Islam occurred in waves. In less than a century after the establishment of the first Islamic society in Medina by the Prophet, Arab armies had conquered a land stretching from the Indus River to France and brought with them Islam, which, contrary to popular Western conceptions, was not, however, forced on the people by the sword (2003, p. 17, emp. added).
In other words, Muslim armies physically conquered—by military force and bloodshed—various nations, forcing the population to submit to Muslim rule, but did not require them to become Muslims! One suspects that, at the time, the distinction escaped the citizens of those conquered countries, even as it surely does the reader.
The Quran appears to have been somewhat influenced by the Law of Moses in this regard. For example, the Quran states: “If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted” (Surah 16:126). Similarly, “O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female…. And there is life for you in retaliation, O men of understanding, that ye may ward off (evil)” (Surah 2:178-179). One is reminded of the lex talionis [literally “law as (or of) retaliation”] of the Law of Moses. However, whereas the Quran appears to enjoin retaliation, the lex talionis were not intended to promote retaliation. Enjoining retaliation would be in direct conflict with the nature of God. God is never vindictive. The New Testament law does not differ with the Old Testament in the areas of proper values, ethics, mercy, and justice. The “eye for an eye” injunctions of the Old Testament were designed to be prohibitive in their thrust, i.e., they humanely limited and restricted legal punishment to a degree in keeping with the crime. That is, they prevented dispensers of justice from punishing too harshly or too much. They were intended to inculcate into Israelite society the principle of confining retribution to appropriate parameters.
The fact that the author of the Quran failed to grasp this feature of God’s laws is evident in various quranic injunctions: “As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise” (Surah 5:38, emp. added).
The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment…. And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony—They indeed are evildoers (Surah 24:2,4, emp. added).
These latter verses conflict with Mosaic injunction on two significant points. First, on the one hand, it doubles the more reasonable and appropriate forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:3)—a number that the Jews were so concerned not to exceed that they counted thirty-nine and stopped to allow for accidental miscount (2 Corinthians 11:24). On the other hand, this eighty increases to one hundred for adultery. Second, the requirement of four witnesses is an unreasonable number. The two or three witnesses of the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) strikes a logical medium between the precariousness of only a single witness on the one hand, and the excessive and unlikely availability of the four witnesses required by the Quran.
It is true that the God of the Bible enjoined violent, armed conflict for the Israelites in the Old Testament. He did so in order to eliminate the morally corrupt Canaanite civilizations that inhabited Palestine prior to the Israelite occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 9:4; 18:9-12; Leviticus 18:24-25,27-28). There simply was no viable solution to their condition except extermination. Their moral depravity was “full” (Genesis 15:16). They had slumped to such an immoral, depraved state, with no hope of recovery, that their existence on this Earth had to be ended—just like in Noah’s day when God waited while Noah preached for years but was unable to turn the world’s population from its wickedness (Genesis 6:3,5-7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:5-9).
Additionally, since the nation of Israel was also a civil entity in its own right, the government was also charged with implementing civil retribution upon lawbreakers. However, with the arrival of New Testament Christianity—an international religion intended for all persons without regard to ethnicity or nationality—God has assigned to civil government (not the church or the individual) the responsibility of regulating secular behavior. God’s people who live posterior to the cross of Christ (i.e., Christians) are not charged by God with the responsibility of inflicting physical punishment on the evildoer. Rather, civil government is charged with the responsibility of maintaining order and punishing lawbreakers (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Observe Paul’s explanation of this dichotomy:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor (Romans 13:1-7, NKJV, emp. added).
One translation (NIV) renders the boldface type in the above quote “an agent of wrath to bring punishment.” But this assignment of judicial and penal retribution to the government is a contrast in Paul’s discussion with what he wrote in the three verses prior to this quotation:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21, NKJV, emp. added).
Notice that the very responsibility that is enjoined on the government, i.e., “an avenger to execute wrath” by use of the sword in 13:4, is strictly forbidden to the individual Christian in 12:19, i.e., “do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath.” To “give place to wrath” means to allow God’s wrath to show itself in His own appointed way that, according to the next few verses, is by means of the civil government.
True Christianity (i.e., that which is based strictly on the New Testament) dictates peace and non-retaliatory promotion of itself. The “absolute imperative” (Rahman, 1979, p. 22) of Islam is the submission/conversion of the whole world. In stark contrast, the absolute imperative of New Testament Christianity is the evangelism of the whole world, i.e., the dissemination of the message of salvation—whether people embrace it or not (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47). Absolutely no coercion is admissible from the Christian (i.e., New Testament) viewpoint. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and all other violent activities undertaken in the name of Christ and Christianity have been in complete conflict with the teaching of the New Testament. The perpetrators acted without the authority and sanction of Christ.
Islam seeks to bring the entire world into submission to Allah and the Quran—even using jihad, coercion, and force; Christianity seeks to go into all the world and to announce the “good news” that God loves every individual, that Jesus Christ died for the sins of everyone, and that He offers salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation. But, each person has free choice to accept or reject without any retaliation by Christians against those who choose to reject. Jesus taught His disciples, when faced with opposition and resistance, simply to walk away: “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:14). In fact, on one occasion when a Samaritan village was particularly nonreceptive, some of Jesus’ disciples wished to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them! But Jesus rebuked them and said, “ ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village” (Luke 9:55). Muhammad and the Quran stand in diametrical opposition to Jesus and the New Testament.
If the majority of Muslims were violent, that would not prove that Islam is a religion of violence. The vast majority of those who claim to be “Christian” are practicing a corrupted form of the Christian faith. So the validity of any religion is determined ultimately not by the imperfect, inaccurate practice of the religion by even a majority of its adherents, but by the official authority or standard upon which it is based, i.e., its Scriptures. The present discussion in the world regarding whether or not jihad includes physical force in the advancement of Islam is ultimately irrelevant (cf. Nasr, 2002, pp. 256-266). The Quran unquestionably endorses violence, war, and armed conflict. No wonder a substantial number of Muslims manifest a maniacal, reckless abandon in their willingness to die by sacrificing their lives in order to kill as many “infidels” (especially Israelis and Americans) as possible. They have read the following:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks…. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain. He will guide them and improve their state, and bring them in unto the Garden [Paradise—DM] which He hath made known to them (Surah 47:4-6, emp. added).
O ye who believe! Be not as those who disbelieved and said of their brethren who went abroad in the land or were fighting in the field: If they had been (here) with us they would not have died or been killed…. And what though ye be slain in Allah’s way or die therein? Surely pardon from Allah and mercy are better than all that they amass. What though ye be slain or die, when unto Allah ye are gathered?…. So those who…fought and were slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow—a reward from Allah (Surah 3:156-158,195, emp. added).
Even if the vast majority of Muslims in the world reject violence and refrain from terrorist activity (which would appear to be the case), it is still a fact that the Quran (as well as the example of Muhammad himself) endorses the advancement of Islam through physical force. While Muslim apologist Seyyed Hossein Nasr insists that “the traditional norms based on peace and openness to others” characterize true Islam and the majority of Muslims, in contradistinction, he freely admits that at times Islam “has been forced to take recourse to physical action in the form of defense” (Nasr, 2002, pp. 112,110). This concession cannot be successfully denied in view of the Quran’s own declarations. Hence, the Muslim is forced to maintain the self-contradictory position that, yes, there have been times that Islam has been properly violent and, yes, the Quran does endorse violence, but, no, most Muslims are not violent, and then only in self-defense. As reprehensible and cowardly as Islamic terrorists have shown themselves to be in recent years, an honest reading of the Quran leads one to believe that they, at least, are more consistent with, and true to, their own Scriptures—as revolting an idea as that may be.
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2002), The Heart of Islam (New York: HarperCollins).
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2003), Islam (New York: HarperCollins).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rahman, Fazlur (1979), Islam (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition.
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).