“Might makes right.” — Allah


In a philosophy class at Stanford years ago, I was exposed to the concept of “might makes right” through reading excerpts of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War in which he said, “…right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Those in power get to set the rules. While we expect such self-serving attitudes from tyrants and dictators, we expect more from our Creator. Should ultimate good and evil have no deeper reality than the whims of an all-powerful deity? Should there not be some absolute morality where “rightness” and “wrongness” can be justified as self-authenticating moral categories that even God abides by? One would hope so – certainly that is the perspective of most of us steeped in the biblical, Judeo-Christian tradition.

That, however, is not the view of core Islam, where Allah (according to the Qur’an) is the Master of all, the being whose absolute power trumps everything else, even morality. As the Qur’an says, “to Allah belongs the might and to His Apostle and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know”(63:8; Shakir trans.). What he says, goes, even if it contradicts the most basic ethical concept of fairness to all.

This is the reason that Islam cannot embrace something as ethically straightforward as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, which
…sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.” But not in Allah’s universe, apparently. Why do I say this? Because Allah decrees one set of full rights/rules for Muslim men and another set of abridged rights for Muslim women and unbelievers (kafirs).battle1

For example, under shari’a law, which Muslims take to be divine and unchangeable, a Muslim man may marry up to four women at one time. He can divorce a wife on a whim or for cause, he can limit her travel outside the house, he can demand sex from her at any time – she may not refuse him (or else, according to Muhammad, the angels will curse her until morning), except if menstruating or extremely ill. Women by nature are unequal to men. According to Islamic tradition, Muhammad declared they are deficient in their religion, in intelligence and in emotional balance. Hence, their testimony in Islamic courts is equal to half that of a man’s. Their periods make them unclean during monthly menstruation, so that they are unable to attend to required religious duties. If they are disobedient to their husbands, they are to be shunned until they repent. Failing that, they are to be beaten until they submit. Yet Muslim women have some rights. If they do all their husbands demand, they have the right to be fed and clothed and protected. Under very limited circumstances, they can sue for divorce, but should they be successful, the courts will still award children to the father once they have reached 7 (for a boy) and 9 (for a girl). This is all in accordance with Allah’s will.

Human slavery is a given in Islam. Of course, all human beings by nature are slaves of Allah. Muslims are never to be enslaved by others, but they are free to enslave kafirs, either by winning them through the conquest of jihad, muslim-warriorsor by purchasing them in the slave markets. The slavery of infidels pleases Allah, as it shows the superiority of Muslims over non-Muslims. Muhammad himself bought and sold slaves, received and gave slaves as gifts, owned both white and black slaves, and used some of females he own as sex slaves. According to Allah, this was a moral good, even forcing sex on female slaves who were already married, for once they became the property of Muslims their former marriages were annulled. Nevertheless, good slaves are to be treated well, and can even be set free by a merciful master, for such an action is meritorious in the eyes of Allah.

Freedom of religion is a limited right under Islam. For the kafir who refuses to convert when challenged by Muslim forces, he/she is given an ultimatum: convert to Islam or face beheading. If the kafir is a monotheist (Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrian) there is a third option: become a dhimmi, i.e., a non-Muslim resident in the Muslim state, who is required to pay an annual tax of humiliation known as jizya and to submit to severe limitation of rights. According to the Pact of Umar, dhimmis are not allowed to worship openly or ring church bells, they cannot build new houses of worship, their existing structures cannot be extended, nor can their steeples be higher than any mosque in town; they must dress in styles that set them apart from the Muslim majority, must move out of the way when a Muslim approaches on the street, must give up their seat to a Muslim who wishes it, must house Muslims who request hospitality for up to three days, and must show respect for all Muslim practices. Dhimmis may not carry weapons, may not support spies or insurrectionists against the Muslim state, and may not hold any office with authority over Muslims. We know that Allah is pleased with this arrangement, because it accords with his “perfect” shari’a law.

Lastly, the dignity and value of kafir lives (those outside dhimmi status) are negligible compared with that of Muslims. The Qur’an brands all kafirs as “dirty” (9:28). Muslims are to show mercy to one another, but to treat kafirs with harshness (48:29). Allah declares that Muslims are the best of all peoples (3:110), and that kafirs are the vilest of all creatures (98:6)! If a Muslim murders another Muslim, that is a capital offense. But if he murders a kafir, he is only required to pay “blood-money” to the victim’s family. Muslims engaged in jihad are authorized not only to kill or capture kafirs but to plunder their women, children and possessions as booty for their efforts.battle 3 In the course of jihad, warriors are permitted to rape infidel women – as we are hearing increasingly from Muslim immigrant men in Europe and like-minded believers in Pakistan, “Kafir women exist for our pleasure.” The Qur’an forbids Muslims from taking kafirs as friends, except for the purpose of saving their own skins and/or advancing the cause of Allah (under the doctrine of taqiyya, deception of kafirs is permissible when one’s life or the cause of Islam is in danger).  Even family members are to be shunned or executed for failing to submit to Islam. The only freedom of conversion is to Islam. A Muslim who decides to leave Islam is branded as an apostate, and Muhammad’s verdict is that such a person be killed.

What kind of a creator god would set up a moral system that treats such evil as good, as long as it is being done by his followers, but condemns such actions when done against his forces? Would we not call such a god immoral? Certainly, those believing that true ethics are universally applicable would reject as tyrannical and evil any god who plays fast and loose with moral truth.

But Allah doesn’t care what you might think. All that matters, according to Islam, is that he holds all the power, and can do whatever he wants. After all, Allahu akbar — God is greater! Greater than you, greater than truth, greater than morality. Those who speak out against him will be leveled by his power, unless of course they are protected by a greater power – the power of the cross of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1: 23-24; Romans 1:16).

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Courting the Wrath of God


The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is racing to take the lead over other post-Christian liberal Protestant denominations in enthusiastically courting the wrath of God. Great_Day_of_His_Wrath Despite all the biblical and statistical evidence concerning the misguided course its leaders have charted over the last 50 years, the denomination continues to thumb its nose at both God’s revelation and its own credal formulations. One might think that this shrinking, politically leftist group would be satisfied with having embraced the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the casting aside of Scripture and creeds in order to affirm same-sex marriage as God’s latest blessing for human beings. But the genius of fallen human nature seems to be the capacity to invent ever more creative ways to oppose God.

The latest comes in an overture (no. 50) to the 2016 General Assembly proposed by the Presbytery of New York City. Entitled “On the Admission of, and Apology for, Harms Done to the LGBTQ/Q Members of the PC(USA), Family and Friends,” this overture, if passed by the GA, would require the denomination to “admit harms done and apologize to those it has wronged” from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning communities. To be clear, this is not talking primarily about harms and wrongs through unloving attitudes toward this particular group of sinners (such attitudes should be repented of). What this presbytery wants is for the denomination to admit it has been wrong over the years to assert the biblical truth that the sexual relationship is divinely intended exclusively for those linked in the covenant of heterosexual marriage. By approving this overture, the PCUSA would declare that it has erred in following clear, biblical truth, and that its proclamation of biblical sexuality (embraced by the church universal over all centuries until these recent aberrations) has in fact caused harm to those engaged in such sinful practices. Concomitantly, such a declaration would cement in place the recent moral transgressions of the denomination in approving “gay ordination” and same-sex marriage. Far from being merely decisions to keep in step with a secular society, these actions would be seen as helping to “right the wrongs” committed by heterosexist leaders of past generations.

What impact would this have on the PCUSA and others? I foresee four probabilities:

  • This once fruitful and faithful denomination will continue to shrivel, but at an even faster pace if possible. Remaining evangelicals who have stayed to try to reform their wayward denomination will not be able to stomach apologizing to certain groups of sinners for calling sin what it is. To do so would be to side with human wisdom over against divine revelation. Consequently, financial support for the denomination would continue to crumble (as it has over the last decade or more) since evangelicals make up the most generous contributing sector (by percentage) within the mainline church. The PCUSA would continue its trajectory as a champion of “sexual justice”, reinterpreting the gospel to mean the advancement of the rights of the disenfranchised in an unjust world rather than the gift of eternal life to sinners in need of salvation.
  • Since the PCUSA defines the LGBTQ/Q causes to be a matter of “justice love,” this admission of guilt and harm by the denomination would inevitably lead to calls for “reparations” to those harmed. An insufficiently large settlement offer would likely then lead to lawsuits against the denomination, which had already admitted its guilt. What would such claims do to the already truncated resources of the PCUSA? Perhaps the accelerated closings and sales of defunct or departing local congregations would facilitate such “justice love.”
  • The Muslim world (and perhaps other religious communities as well) would take this as confirmation that “Christian America” is indeed morally corrupt. For a world view which cannot separate state and religion, the fact that the American entertainment industry spews out the sewage of violence, sexual license and confusion, materialistic excess, ethnic triumphalism, arrogant individualism and the like to all corners of the world leads them to the conclusion that these are the fruits of Christianity. To learn that a “Christian” denomination now not only condones sexual sin but apologizes for having opposed such behaviors in the past would only confirm in the minds of Muslims that Christianity cannot be from God. The damage to world missions by such a move of the GA would be incalculable.
  • The wrath of God would fall even more heavily and quickly on the PCUSA. Its lampstand, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, would be removed by the Lord (if it hasn’t already; see Rev. 2:5). 1 Peter 4:17 reminds us that God’s judgment “begins with the household of God.” And the apostle Paul warns Christians, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7-8).WrathGod_01

Fortunately, the PCUSA is not yet at this point. For the overture to become part of PCUSA policy, it will first need to gain the concurrence of another presbytery (I have little doubt that will happen). Then it will need to be voted on by the General Assembly this coming June and approved (my guess is that will happen). Since this overture does not seek to amend the denominational constitution, but rather to direct the PCUSA to “affirm, confess and apologize” for how it has harmed the LGBTQ/Q community and extended family and friends, if the GA vote is positive, Overture 50 will have full directive force and the “mea culpas” will begin to flow. Should this occur, the PCUSA would cross a new Rubicon with disastrous effects for its own future as well as for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom throughout the world. What a tragedy this would be for a once mission-focused, Christ-honoring, theologically astute movement to find itself discarded on the rubbish heaps of history!

Please pray that God in His mercy will turn the PCUSA back to gospel faithfulness and a passion to speak the truth in love for the glory of His Son!

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A Proud Tradition of Tolerance?


Less than six months (6/4/09) after first taking office, President Obama delivered a speech to the Muslim world at Cairo University. Entitled “A New Beginning,” it was his opening effort to launch a grandiose vision bringing peace to the world and an age of harmony between the USA and the Muslim world.

I recently reread Mr. Obama’s speech, and was impressed by some of the difficult subjects he addressed. On the subject of Israel and Palestine, he acknowledged that the Palestinians must embrace Israel’s right to exist and must renounce violence, even as Israel must agree to a Palestinian state and the cessation of expanded settlements. On democracy, he encouraged Muslim nations to move in that direction. Bringing up women’s rights, he hinted that Muslim countries would be better off utilizing all their potential.

One of Mr. Obama’s statements concerning Islam resonated strongly in my mind and heart: “…partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.” However, despite his assertions, much of the President’s speech showed either an abhorrent lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam, or a willful concealment of its core beliefs.

Eight times, he spoke of Islam’s penchant for tolerance and/or concern for the dignity of all human beings.  Crowning these statements was the bromide, “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” Tell that to the 200 million plus (a conservative estimate) who have died over the last 1400 years under the violent expansion and rule of Islam. Funny-jihad-extremists-cartoonOr to the conquered peoples allowed to live as third class citizens known as dhimmis, heavily discriminated against under Shari’a law. Or to the countless former Muslims killed for becoming apostates and leaving Islam. Or to the millions upon millions of Muslims forbidden to ask searching questions about their religion. Or to Muslim author Salman Rushdie, who became the target of a Khomeini death fatwa in 1989 upon the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses in 1988. Or to the kafirs who speak what some Muslims consider to be blasphemy and receive multitudes of death threats from “faithful” Muslims. Or to the murdered French Charlie Hebdo employees whose satire “offended” Islamic sensitivities.

Yet Mr. Obama continues to think he understands Islam better than others. Apparently, his declarations on Islam’s proud tradition of tolerance haven’t reached the top religious authorities of Saudi Arabia. On the official website “The General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta’,” which exists under the aegis of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one can find numerous fatwas dealing with non-Muslims (otherwise known as kafirs). One of them, entitled “Duty to Hate Jews, Mushrikun (idolaters) and Other Infidels,” was written by grand mufti (highest religious position in the Saudi government), Ibn Baz, who passed away in 1999. The fatwa is still in force.

Among other things, it decrees on the basis of Qur’anic texts such as “Do not take as your friends the Jews and Christians” (5:51) and “Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan” (58:2; see also 3:118, 4:144 and 60:4) that Muslims are not only not to love non-Muslims but to actually hate them until they surrender and become Muslims. Thus, Ibn Baz declares,

Such verses are many and offer clear proofs concerning the obligation to despise infidels from the Jews, Christians, and all other non-Muslims, as well as the obligation to oppose them until they believe in Allah alone.

Somehow that doesn’t sound very tolerant. How many in the USA would such obligatory hatred encompass? Well, there are roughly 3 million Muslims in this country, and about 320 million total population. Hence according to the official religious doctrine of Saudi Arabia, Muslims are required to despise 317 million Americans (Jews, Christians and all other non-Muslims). So much for Islam’s proud tradition of tolerance…. Fortunately, most Muslim Americans don’t know of this obligation, or conveniently ignore it.

But of course, Ibn Baz and the Saudi Muslim religious hierarchy could be totally wrong about Islam. Sure, Arabia is the cradle of Islam. Sure, their native language is Arabic, the language of the Qur’an and core Islam. Sure, they are steeped in 1400 years of Islamic life and tradition. Sure, their scholars are schooled for decades in Quranic and Hadith memorization and the intricacies of Shari’a jurisprudence. But they could be wrong. And Mr. Obama could be right.

Which seems more likely to you?

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ISIS — a Faithful Believer in the Islamic Doctrine of Jahiliyya


News has just broken over the total obliteration of an ancient monastery sitting for over 1400 years on a hill overlooking Mosul in Iraq.  St. Elijah Monastery,St Elijah - Erbil built in 590 (20 years before Muhammad had the pretensions to call himself a prophet of Allah), had weathered an attack in 1743 by a Persian Muslim army, whose general executed some 150 monks when they refused to convert to Islam. But now, under the regional control of ISIS, the monastery has been meticulously pulverized. Why?Mosul-Saint_Elijahs_Monastery_IN

As I wrote in a recent blog on what an Elijah eradicationIslamic State of America might look like, standard orthodox Islam believes that the world prior to or outside of Islam is best described as being in a state of jahiliyya, an Arabic word meaning “ignorance, stupidity, moral darkness.” The advent of Muhammad and Islam are Allah’s cure for this state of ignorance, in which boorish human beings had been worshiping rocks and sticks and all manner of idols, instead of Allah. Once Islam comes to the rescue of a culture or people, all vestiges of that former culture which might lead the newly conquered to fall back into their old ways must be eradicated. So Muhammad taught; so Muhammad acted; so his followers emulated.

This latest act of sacrilegious destruction is a badge of honor to ISIS, which feels that it is carrying out the Arabian prophet’s will. By erasing ancient signs of pre-Islamic worship, these Muslims believe they are showing Islam’s native supremacy over all other beliefs, and preventing their subjects from turning to other gods.

The monastery of St. Elijah is just one of  more than a hundred such eradications. Recently the ancient site of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria,Temple of Bel _palmyra_before_after which I had the pleasure of visiting in 1973, was demolished by ISIS. Scores of other temples, churches, museums, tombs and monuments (and even rival mosques) have been similarly destroyed. Libraries have been raided and ancient books burned (much on the model of the Library of Alexandria during the Muslim conquest of Egypt by Amr ibn al-Aas in 642 AD.

Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton and other politicians never tire of declaring that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, but on the contrary, ISIS is following Muhammad’s playbook to the letter. So who are we going to believe as to the real essence of Islam — those who have committed their lives and eternal destinies to the Allah Muhammad proclaimed, or those who have committed their lives to the pursuit of politically-correct myths for their self-advancement?

I know whom I’ve chosen to believe.

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Blade, “Familiars,” and Islam


 

The sci-fi Blade movie trilogy, starring Wesley Snipes, depicts a world inhabited by four types of creatures: vampires, vampire hunters, ordinary humans (cattle), and familiars. Vampires of course need human blood to survive and so they view the human race as their food supply, treating them principally as livestock. Vampire hunters are those who understand the evils of vampirism and are thus on a quest to bring an end to this blight on humanity. Most human beings are oblivious to the threat of vampirism and so go about their daily lives in blissful ignorance unless and until they meet a vampire. Familiars are human beings who “know the score” and have willingly become servants of vampires in exchange for the promise of protection from the predations of other vampires.Blade_Trilogy

With necessary changes being made, I’m fascinated by the parallel this fictional series provides to the real world threat of Islam. As a political and military religion, orthodox Islam makes no pretense about its intention to conquer the world. The non-Muslim world when subdued will either swell the ranks of Muslims or surrender its resources for the enrichment of the Caliphate. Non-Muslims who are aware of this and who commit themselves to the fight against Islamic imperialism are like the vampire hunters – of course they are not out to kill Muslims, as vampire hunters seek to kill vampires (the only way to stop them), but nonetheless intend to render them harmless, either by exposing their ways to the rest of humanity, or even better to seek their transformation by persuading Muslims to embrace a better path through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The last group, paralleling “familiars,” is the group I want to spend a bit of time on.

Under the direction of Shari’a law, the Islamic State rules all conquered peoples who do not wish to convert to Islam (this applies only to monotheists – all others must convert to Islam or be executed). Such people (Jews and Christians principally) are accorded “dhimmi” status, once they agree to the terms of their subjection. The term “dhimmi” literally means “protected,” and this group is protected in the sense that as long as they pay their annual “head tax” and abide by shari’a law, they will not be executed by the Islamic State. Such “protection” seems oddly like the protection offered shopkeepers in neighborhoods controlled by the Mafia.  As long as the merchants pay “protection money” to the Mafia, they are protected from visits by the Mafia strongmen threatening to break their arms or kneecap them. In the case of dhimmis, as long as they pay their exorbitant tax known as jizya and show their willing submission to their Muslim masters, they are a “protected class.” This demands  as well their singing the praises of their oppressors, declaring how well they are being treated, rehearsing the lines that “Islam is a religion of peace” and “We love our Muslim leaders,” and so on, all the while living as second or third class “citizens” of the nation with restricted personal, religious, social and legal rights. Much like the familiars of vampires, dhimmis surrender to their masters so as to avoid outright death and to curry whatever favor they can without being forced to become Muslims.

But there is another group of people who qualify as familiars in the world of Islam. They cannot be classed as dhimmis, for they are ostensibly within the Muslim fold. In the Western world they are most often referred to as “moderate” Muslims, those who remain quiet about the worldwide imposition of shari’a law as the goal of Islam, and the legitimacy of violent jihad, and the supremacist attitude of Islam toward all non-Muslim religions and people, and the sometimes horrific examples and teachings of their prophet. This they do either out of ignorance, embarrassment, fear or silent approbation, but whatever the motivation, their behaviors advance the cause of orthodox Islam. Such individuals and organizations promote the fantasy that Islam is a “religion of peace,” that the actions of Muslim terrorists “have nothing to do with Islam,” that “Islam and democracy can exist harmoniously,” that “Islamic civilization is the envy of the world,” that “Islam upholds freedom of religion for all.” No doubt some of these “moderates” believe these statements that they parrot to credulous Westerners. Most moderates, as well as their more orthodox cousins, know better. But in support of the worldwide cause of Islam, they pump their soporific propaganda into the minds of the cattle so as to keep them calm and unaware of the dangers posed by encroaching Islam.

It behooves each and every person in the unconverted West, even moderate Muslims, to learn the real teachings and history of Islam so as to be prepared for the inevitable challenge that an invading Muslim civilization will bring to the way of life we have taken for granted for so long. Otherwise, you might want to start rehearsing the appropriate behaviors of a familiar.

Even better, if you are a Christian, equip yourself to know how to share the gospel winsomely with Muslims. The only lasting remedy for the compulsion of Islam is the freedom of grace which Jesus offers. While governments must turn to diplomacy and force in order to stem the tides of aggression, the Church offers a new kind of life that extinguishes the fires of oppressive evil. Please join Christ’s ambassadors of love to reach Muslims with the gospel, and so bring them into his fold of eternal life. In this way, Islam will be undone as a religion (rather than merely caged by international coalitions) and many precious humans brought into the Kingdom of light, in the same way as we ourselves were (see Col 1:12-13). As Christians throughout the Muslim world know, God is already at work to this end in astounding ways!

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Imagining an Islamic State of America


What might America look like under the full control of radical Islam? An Islamic State cannot exist without the imposition of Shari’a, so one of the first noticeable transitions would be from Constitutional to Islamic Law. After all, how could a state show allegiance to Allah without enshrining his perfect divine law as its national standard?

The First Amendment would be scrapped – the only freedom of religion is the freedom to embrace Islam; freedoms of expression and of the press would be limited to support of Islam, the prophet, the Qur’an and Allah. Opposition in the press or public discourse would be punished with swift, lethal consequences.

The freedom to bear arms as a natural right of resistance and self-preservation against violent oppression would be severely curtailed so such weapons could not be used against the Islamic regime.

The Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery would be recast to allow Muslim citizens to buy or sell slaves drawn from conquered nations.

The 18th Amendment, which had prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcohol within the USA, until it was overturned by the 21st Amendment, would be reinstated, as consumption of alcohol is deemed sinful to radical Islam.

The right to vote for women (19th Amendment) would probably be scrapped since Muhammad claimed that women were deficient in intelligence compared to men, and should not be relied on for important decisions (in Islamic jurisprudence a women’s testimony is considered half as reliable as a man’s). And then there’s polygamy. Islamic Law permits a Muslim man to have up to four wives at any one time. Mormon men might be inclined to rejoice at this, until they discover that in the Islamic State, this right only applies to Muslim men.

Atheists, polytheists, secular humanists, Native American traditionalists, Wiccans, Neo-pagans, Scientologists, New Agers of all flavors, and all non-monotheistic groups need to keep their eyes on the tea leaves. If an Islamic State arises on this continent, you would be wise to emigrate rapidly.

Muhammad and his companions referred to pre-Islamic Arab culture as the time of jahiliyya (an Arabic word meaning ignorance, stupidity and darkness). The light of Islam is supposed to dispel such darkness, but lands that have never come under the reign of Islam still evince this jahiliyya. That explains why wherever Islam spreads it quickly seeks to expunge significant signs of a country’s ignorant past. The Taliban closed girls’ schools, and blasted the Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan into oblivion. buddhas_pairISIS has demolished ancient tombs, sledgehammered museum artifacts, razed the ruins of ancient temples, defaced pagan shrines, all in an attempt to prevent people from possibly turning to idol worship instead of revering Allah. What might happen in an Islamic State of America (ISA)? Artillery practice on Mt. Rushmore might be the place to start. Mt-Rushmore-National-MemorialCrosses would be expunged from headstones at Arlington Cemetery and all federal edifices (the Islamic Jesus has a particular obsession with the destruction of all crosses). Lady Liberty might be replaced with giant crossed swords, a symbol of Islam’s passion for power. Demolition of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials would serve as warnings that no human beings are to be revered in potential competition with Allah. In ever expanding circles, pre-Islamic American history would be blotted out from the public sphere.

Hollywood would come under the purview of the religious police ( Saudi Arabia has its version known as “the mutawwa’”, who play the role of volunteers seeking “to promote virtue and prevent vice” ). muttawaSince Hollywood seems to thrive on the promotion of vice and prevention of virtue, the TV and motion picture industries might grind to a halt. More likely, however, is that they would become propaganda arms for the spread of Islamic ideology. Say goodbye to your package of four hundred cable/satellite channels – you never watched them anyway….Censorship will be the word of the century for the internet as well, as the ISA seeks to smother access to information not approved by conservative Islamic scholars.

No longer would people moan about Common Core. Schools would be converted to Qur’anic memorization centers at the earliest ages, followed by learning of Islamic law and history. Little time would be devoted to the arts and sciences. Scientific, industrial and theoretical research would rapidly decline, as their usefulness pales in comparison to being steeped Allah’s eternal will. You may have heard the folktale concerning the burning of the famed Library of Alexandria upon Egypt’s conquest by ‘Amr ibn al-Aas (my purported ancestor!) and his Muslim army in 642 AD. Having sent a query to Caliph ‘Umar about what to do with these books, he received the pithy reply, “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” Though anecdotal, this story accentuates the very real truth that over the centuries, Islam has held non-Quranic learning in low regard.

The beleaguered FDA might find new life in the ISA as the champion and adjudicator of halal food restrictions. halalPork products and alcoholic beverages would be banned or restricted to side-alley shops limited to dhimmi-clients. If this troubles you, perhaps you should start stocking up on beer and bacon now.

Lastly, the religious landscape would begin to change radically. Church bells would be silenced by law, replaced instead by the ubiquitous Muslim call to prayer broadcast five times a day. Permits would not be issued for the building of new synagogues or churches, nor for expansion or repair of existing ones. Ruins_of_Holyrood_Abbey,_EdinburghMosques, however, would populate the landscape in exponential numbers. Gone would be all public Christmas festivities and celebrations. No National Christmas Tree lightings. No hymns and carols over the airwaves. Worship by Christians would have to be muted, so that no passerby outside a church/home could overhear their singing or praising of God. Federal holidays would be replaced by the annual Islamic ‘Eid festivals.

But there is some good news. If the ISA were to become a reality, some of our country’s present problems would be quickly solved. We would no longer need to worry about immigration reform, as those streaming across our borders would be headed out rather than in. We wouldn’t be troubled over the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Middle Eastern and other Muslim countries – indeed we could become the primary supplier to our fellow Muslim allies once we joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). As a declining world power, we might enjoy no longer being the envy and scapegoat of much of the rest of the world. Our perennial struggles over separation of “church” and state would be finally and fully resolved – there is no separation under radical Islam, as theocracy is the name of the game. All citizens would be required to embrace Islam, except those wishing to continue practicing their Abrahamic faiths (Jews and Christians). They would have a second-class status in the ISA, be known as “dhimmi” and pay a significant “head tax” so as to remain protected by the Muslim state (much as shopkeepers in Mafia-controlled regions paid “protection money” to the Mafia so as not to be terrorized by the Mafia).

Of course, this is all hypothetical, based solely on teachings from the Qur’an and Hadith, and on the example of Muhammad as found in early Muslim biographies, and on early Muslim history (check out the Pact of Umar), and on subsequent Muslim conquests, and on the behavior of radical Muslim “governments” today (see, for example, Afghanistan under the Taliban, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and ISIS today).

But this could never happen in the USA because American citizens are all too aware of the threats posed by radical Islam to our Western, democratic values and inalienable rights, and we are prepared to defend them to the death. Right?

Time will tell.

 

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Prodigal Love for a Prodigal World


Nowhere do the different theological visions of Islam and Christianity appear more starkly than in the Muslim denunciation of the gospel as reflected in its assessment of John 3:16, which Christians often speak of as “the gospel in a nutshell”:

God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

In its rejection of this message, Islam declares instead:

  • God has no offspring, so Jesus cannot be His Son. One of the most famous Suras in the Qur’an declares of Allah, “He begets not, nor was He begotten” (112:3). As a corollary of this, the concept of the fatherhood of God in any sense is forbidden.
  • To believe in Jesus as God’s Son (and hence Savior of the world) is to inherit everlasting fire rather than everlasting life, for it is to commit the unforgivable sin of “shirk,” associating something from the created order with the inimitable Creator.
  • God has given prophets to the world for guidance and warning. Human beings must do their best to follow His threats and admonitions, for there is no Savior or Mediator between God and man to atone for our sins. In the end, our fate rests in Allah’s inscrutable will.
  • The “world” is not hopelessly lost apart from God’s sacrificial grace seen in the gift of His Son; rather it is misguided and forgetful and just needs to be reminded of God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s proper response of submission.
  • God does not love the whole world, but only those who do what pleases Him.

From the point of view of an outsider seeking to assess the comparative theologies of Islam and Christianity, this last point is perhaps the most stunning. There can be no question in the New Testament that God’s nature is defined as love, and that His love is granted freely to the unworthy. God has sent His Son into the world to seek and save the lost. As we read in 1 John 4:10, “This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” His desire is to draw human beings into a personal, eternal love relationship that transforms us from transitory, sinful creatures into eternal children of God, perfected in Christ. The gospel is God’s open-armed invitation to enjoy this divine love.

In Islam, on the other hand, Allah’s heart does not brim over with love for human beings. Instead, he seems strangely detached from the fate of individuals. “Salvation” is completely in his hands, yet he saves whom he wills and damns whom he wills. Six times the Qur’an declares, “Whomsoever Allah will, he leads astray, and whomsoever he will, he guides him rightly” (6:39; 13:27; 14:4; 16:93; 35:8; 74:31). This cold-hearted double predestinarianism is underlined twelve more times in the Qur’an with a statement that nothing can avail against God’s damnation: “Whom Allah leads astray, for him you will not find a way” (4:88, 143; 7:178, 186; 13:33; 17:97; 18:17; 39:23, 26; 40:33; 42:44, 46. I include all these references so that you may check them out for yourself!). All of this callous indifference to the eternal destinies of human beings is summed by Allah himself in 32:13 – “If we had willed, we would have given every soul its guidance; but now my word will come true: I will fill hell with jinn and men all together.

Where is the love of God in all of this? It’s hard to find. The Qur’an is roughly the length of the New Testament, and yet the principal Arabic word for love (hubb) is used in its verbal form with Allah as the subject/actor only 40 times. But even this number is misleading, because 22 of these occurrences are negative declarations, indicating the kind of people whom Allah does not love. For example:

Allah loves not those who transgress the limits of his will;

Allah loves not those who make corruption in the land;

Allah loves not those who reject Islam;

Allah loves not those who do wrong / the unjust;

Allah loves not the arrogant or proud;

Allah loves not those who rejoice in their wealth;

Allah loves not the treacherous, criminals, and those with evil tongues;

Allah loves not the prodigals (those who waste his resources).

On the other hand, there are 18 places in the Qur’an where Allah describes those whom he loves:

Allah loves those who do good;

Allah loves the pure and clean (i.e., those keeping the ritual purity laws);

Allah loves the righteous, the just, the persevering, the trusting;

Allah loves those who love him and follow his prophet;

Allah loves those who go to battle in his cause.

From all of this it seems pretty clear that the god of the Qur’an is very much like a fallen human being in his exercise of love. We by nature love those who please us and dislike those who displease us. But this is a pretty low bar of achievement. As Jesus says in Matt. 5: 46-47, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” But the God whom Jesus reveals loves even His enemies – those who have rebelled against Him. In the words of the apostle Paul, “God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), as Peter says, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18).

The contrast that stands out most to me today has to do with prodigals. Twice Allah declares in the Qur’an that he does not love prodigals (6:141; 7:31), those who waste what he has provided them. On the other hand, Jesus tells a parable of an irresponsible son who demands his portion of the inheritance from his father, and then goes off to a far country to spend it in “riotous living.” This son represents rebel human beings, willing to live off God’s generosity but not under His roof so to speak. The father represents God. The natural ending to the story should be that when the prodigal son returns to his father with his tail between his legs, the father should refuse to see him or help him out – “You made your bed; now you can lie in it.” The son has dishonored his father; it is justice for him now to live in dishonor. Were Allah to be the God represented in this parable, such would be the result (of course, the son would be recast as a slave): “I don’t love prodigals. Depart from my presence!” But the true God, whom Jesus reveals, has such a heart for sinners that even though He has been so shamelessly treated by prodigals like us,  His love compels Him to search the horizons for us, and to run to embrace and welcome us into His love before we can even express our rehearsed repentance.

Such is one of the gaping differences between Allah and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Which vision of God would you rather have your life informed by? That’s not a hard choice. Unfortunately, some 1.5 billion Muslims know nothing of this gracious, unconditional love of God, laboring instead under the crushing burden of trying to please a god whose love they can never quite merit, whose heart remains impassive toward them.

If we who have experienced the reality of God’s love nevertheless refuse to share it with those drowning in the despair of Islam, what does that say about our own hearts?

Perhaps that they reflect more the callousness of Allah than the compassion of the Father?

What a travesty that would be! May the Lord fill us with the same love that led to His Incarnation, that we may bear His love and message to all the world, especially to downcast Muslims.

 

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