Friday, October 17, 2008

Warning: Not Politically Correct Post on Religion

In the comment section of a previous post, the conversation shifted towards a conversation about whether or not Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God.

Inevitably, when different religions are compared and contrasted, SOMEONE gets angry, hurt, sad, and/or disillusioned. Or, screams of intolerance, bigotry, and hate abound. When the disagreements fly, so do the attacks. I am hoping that it doesn't come to that, here.

This is why I am prefacing this post with the title:

Warning: Not Politically Correct Post on Religion.

SOMEONE, inevitably, will get angry about this post.

I just hope that we can have a civil, meaningful, respectful type of DISAGREEMENT on these issues.

With that said, here is how the conversation began:



Umm Yasmin said...
Actually Christine, Arab Christians use the word "Allah" because it literally just means "the God" in Arabic :)

Both Christians and Muslims believe there is only one God who created everything that exists; who is omniscient; timeless; and unchanging.

Whether you use one set of phonemes or another doesn't mean there is more than one God.

October 14, 2008 5:16:00 PM PDT




Christinewjc said...
So...umm yasmin,

Are you claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

October 14, 2008 7:23:00 PM PDT




GMpilot said...
CJW:
Are you claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

Yeah...the Jews, too. All worship the same God (which is why they are referred to as the "Abrahamic" religions). All three faiths claim Abraham as their founder.

Of course, none of them can agree on the exact characteristics of this God (except the ones umm yasmin listed), or its precise nature.

Those of us who do not worship any gods can only shake our heads.

October 14, 2008 11:25:00 PM PDT




Gary Baker said... [Note: edited for the purpose of this subject.]

Also, your argument on worship is contradictory. If people worship Gods with differing characteristics, they are not worshiping the same God. The Muslim god venerates in death in that the only way that you can guarantee yourself eternal life is martyrdom in the cause of Jihad. Outside of that, it basically comes down to a coin toss.
October 16, 2008 5:07:00 PM PDT




Umm Yasmin said...
Hi Christine,

Yes - of course, we may well (and do) disagree on how God has interacted in human history. Even Jews and Christians disagree on that score.

So if you say we (Muslims and Christians) are worshipping different deities, then this also means that the God that Jews worship is not the same God that Christians worship for obvious reasons (namely that Jews don't believe God has come to earth in the human form of Jesus Christ, just as Muslims don't).

October 16, 2008 6:47:00 PM PDT




Umm Yasmin said...
Hi Gary,

"The Muslim god venerates in death in that the only way that you can guarantee yourself eternal life is martyrdom in the cause of Jihad."

Actually, this is incorrect. There are two separate questions here: a) can anyone guarantee they have eternal life b) does jihad give guarantee of eternal life. They are related however.

Muslims believe that God promises to reward with Paradise, those who devote themselves wholeheartedly to Him and work righteousness in the world. There is no doubt about that at all. This type of person by definition is a Muslim, and has the assurance of salvation and eternal life in the hereafter.

The question is better asked, how do I know I am living up to being a true Muslim?

This is the same questions Christians might ask of themselves in regard to Christianity's promises about salvation. Because it is possible for someone to have been a Christian all their lives, but on their deathbed renounce Christ and blaspheme the Holy Spirit - would they be assured of eternal life? Matthew 7:21-23 says not.

Are atheists who were former Christians still saved? If you say their Christianity wasn't genuine, but if they honestly believed at the time it was, how do you not know you might end up the same way yourself? How can any Christian *guarantee* what they will do in the future that might invalidate their salvation?

In Islam, everything is judged by intention, and even someone who is martyred in jihad is not assured of salvation, if their intention was merely mundane or political. As Prophet Muhammad said: "One who died and had no intention for jihad, died as a hypocrite." (narrated in Muslim & Abu Dawud). As for whether God venerates death, well the Qur'an denies this when it says: "Kill not one another. Lo! God is ever Merciful unto you." (4:29)

October 16, 2008 7:13:00 PM PDT

Umm -Let me preface this by stating that what I will share will inevitably anger someone. That is not my intention, but it often happens when discussing various religious beliefs.

You and all Muslims are entitled to your own beliefs.

Jews are entitled to their own beliefs.

Christians are entitled to their own beliefs.

However, when comparing the religions - they cannot possibly all be correct.

I have already shared my analysis about the differences between Islam and Christianity. In case you missed it, here is the link:

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the same God?

For Jews, it is a different story.

Christianity came, as a result of the fulfilled prophecies about the Messiah from the Old Testament writings from Judaism. It wasn't a made up religion (sorry - but true) by a self-proclaimed prophet who died and stayed in the grave.

Jesus rose from the dead, proving who he was and all that he claimed. He fulfilled most of the 300 plus prophecies written about the coming Messiah in the Old Testament. The remaining Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled at his second coming.

There are (currently) Messianic Jews who see Jesus as their Messiah. When Jesus returns the second time - many of the Jews living at that time will join in belief in Him along with their Messianic Jew brothers and sisters.

To be brief, I often like to share a discussion (paraphrased here) that I heard and saw on the Larry King show. Billy Graham was his guest.

Graham (again, paraphrased here) asked King, 'if the Messiah were to return today, what question would you ask him?'

King (paraphrased here) answered, 'is this your first or second visit?'

Basically, in a secular-put nutshell, that is what will be realized by the remnant of religious Jews who will still be looking for their Messiah in the end times.

This is the Christian worldview on this subject. Many Jews who might visit this blog and read this may not agree. It may even anger them. But the prophecies yet to be fulfilled from the OT actually state that they will "look upon Him whom they had pierced." At the crucifixion, John shared this fulfilled prophecy in his gospel:

Jhn 19:37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

[please note: I am NOT CLAIMING THAT THE JEWS , ALONE, WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHRIST'S CRUCIFIXION. THE TRUTH IS - ALL SINNERS ARE! WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE! AND, WE ARE EACH - AND EVERY ONE OF US - SINNERS IN NEED OF THE SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!]



The John 19:37 verse came from the prophecy of Zechariah:

Zec 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.

Revelation reveals that the Jews will realize that Jesus, whom they (along with the Romans and all of us sinners) had pierced, IS the long-awaited Messiah after all.

Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

As Christians, Scripture has told us to revere the Holy Land of Israel. Preserve, protect, and partner with the "apple of God's eye" - Jerusalem.

We know that the Holy Land has been fought over for thousands of years. It is the focal point of Biblical prophecy, too.

Well, I'm getting too far off the subject so I will end here.

This HAS NOT been a politically correct comment. However, I have tried to share the truth as I have come to believe through the written Word of God. There is much, much more that can be said about all of this. I have attempted to be brief and to the point.

October 17, 2008 10:44:00 AM PDT

Anyone who wishes to add to this discussion, please feel free to share what you have to say in the comment section.

15 comments:

Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine—

Since “a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart”... would you agree that born-again Christians are true Jews, spiritually speaking? Remember what Stephen said at Acts 7:51, NIV? “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”

Your post has not caused me to be angry, hurt or upset. Could that be because we are sisters by the Blood of our Lord, Jesus the Messiah?

Let your light continue to shine, my sister. Jesus is the light of the world. Praise His Name! Shabbat Shalom with love from the East coast to the West in the USA. (ss)

Sosthenes said...

I'm willing to discuss this topic at length for a couple of months or maybe a couple of years either at www.talkwisdom.com/forums or http://cultsandfalsereligions.myfastforum.org/index.php if you agree, Yasmin.

I don't think that one blog post will be able to cover all the issues but we don't worship the same G-D.

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

Beautifully stated!

Susan wrote:

Since “a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart”... would you agree that born-again Christians are true Jews, spiritually speaking? Remember what Stephen said at Acts 7:51, NIV? “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”

Yes. We are sisters in Christ - saved by the shed blood of our Lord and Savior!

But I do wonder. If you ever shared the above paragraph with Jews in Israel, would it have angered and alienated them? I recall you telling me that while you were there, you had to be very careful. Sharing the Gospel of Christ was considered "prosyletizing" - and, a "dirty word" at that - in Israel; and it was highly frowned upon.

I recall several of your wonderful stories with people you subtly, and skillfully witnessed to while working in Israel. Your love for sharing the truth about Jesus certainly shined through to those who had questions!

Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts of wisdom and knowledge from the Lord! God bless your day!

spud tooley said...

christine, i'm not going to respond until you show us your birth certificate. post it, your ssn, and your visa number before midnight tonite. if you won't, you've obviously got something to hide...

i'm not sure if these comments are yours or gary's: You and all Muslims are entitled to your own beliefs. Jews are entitled to their own beliefs. Christians are entitled to their own beliefs. However, when comparing the religions - they cannot possibly all be correct.

this isn't relative to the original proposition. the proposition being debated was whether or not all faiths tie back to the same God. there is no question they do. various Christians see God differently but are even in the same faith; to say that Muslims and Jews see different features of God's face than Christians - when even different strands of Christianity do the same - has no logical implication at all on whether or not the same God is being worshipped.

God will probably be the first to tell you that, from our perspective, He is made more in our image than vice versa.

mike rucker
fairburn, georgia, usa

Christinewjc said...

Mike,

It may surprise you that I agree with this part of your statement:

"...the proposition being debated was whether or not all faiths tie back to the same God. there is no question they do."

That is true. However, the Bible is filled with examples of the Israelites turning away from Yahweh and worshipping idols (e.g. golden calf) and other "gods" (e.g. Baal).

The conversation may have started as you said, but Umm Yasmin changed it upon further discussion.

Anders said...

You write about Jesus; but you haven't yet realized that the historical pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua and the post-135 C.E. anti-Torah Christ is two different persons.

So who then was the historical Jesus?

The first century pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah - said:

"Don't think that I came to uproot the Torah or the Neviim [prophets], but rather I came to reconcile them with the Oral Law of emet (truth). Should the heavens and ha-aretz (the land, particularly referring to Israel) exchange places, still, not even one ' (yod) nor one ` (qeren) of the Oral Law of Mosheh shall so much as exchange places; until it shall become that it is all being fully ratified and performed non-selectively. For whoever deletes one Oral Law from the Torah, or shall teach others such, by those in the Realm of the heavens he shall be called "deleted." Both he who preserves and he who teaches them shall be called Ribi in the Realm of the heavens. For I tell you that unless your Tzedaqah (righteousness) is over and above that of the Sophrim and of the [probably 'Herodian'] Rabbinic-Perushim (corrupted to "Pharisees"), there is no way you will enter into the Realm of the heavens! “
Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu 5:17-20.

For words that you don’t understand; se www.netzarim.co.il ; the link to Glossaries at the first page.

Ribi Yehoshua warned for false prophets who don’t produce good fruit = defined as don’t practise the commandments in Torah according to Halakhah (oral Torah). See Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13:1-6.

If you don’t follow Ribi Yehoshuas Torah-teachings, than you don’t follow Ribi Yehoshua.
So you need to start follow the historical Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah – by practising Torah!!

Finding the historical Jew, who was a Pharisee Ribi and following him brings you into Torah, which gives you a rich and meaningful life here on earth and great rewards in life after death (“heaven”)!

From Anders Branderud
Geir Toshav, Netzarim in Ra’anana in Israel (www.netzarim.co.il) who are followers of Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah – in Orthodox Judaism

Christinewjc said...

Hello Anders and welcome to my blog.

Thank you for your comment. I have read your entire comment, however, I have a question about your first sentence:

You write about Jesus; but you haven't yet realized that the historical pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua and the post-135 C.E. anti-Torah Christ is two different persons.

Are you claiming that American, biblically based, born-again Christians are worshipping, "the anti-Torah" Christ?

I have not heard of "Ribi Yehoshua" before. Are you referring to "Rabbi Yeshua"?Perhaps my friend Susan Smith can help me with that. She lived and worked in Israel for five years.

You didn't mention anything about the New Testament. Messianic Jews celebrate and follow (obviously) many of the Old Testament Jewish observances. From what I have learned regarding them (someone correct me if I'm wrong) they also accept Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah and read and study the books of the New Testament (minus the Catholic acceptance of the Apocrypha)as well as the Old Testament.

You mentioned "Orthodox Jews." Again, correct me if I'm wrong but aren't they still awaiting the first coming of Messiah?

I guess you could say that your post is a bit confusing to me. (sorry)

Umm Yasmin said...

Hi Christine and everyone,

I wouldn't beat yourself up to much about your post. I wasn't offended.

I did read the link before, thank you :) My reply (which I think was on another thread) was that really it boils down to which scripture you accept as being correct: the Bible or the Qur'an. If a person believes the Qur'an is correct, no amount of verses from the Bible showing how the Qur'an doesn't live up to the Bible will convince them (and vice versa of course).

Christine wrote:
"Christianity came, as a result of the fulfilled prophecies about the Messiah from the Old Testament writings from Judaism. It wasn't a made up religion (sorry - but true) by a self-proclaimed prophet who died and stayed in the grave."

But Christine, Muslims believe our faith is a result of fulfilled prophecies and not made up. And can you see if Muslims believe that about Islam but Christians deny it, then this is exactly like Jews denying the claims of Christianity. Jews would say that Christians don't worship the same God in this case, because they believe Christianity is a false religion made up by a self-proclaimed prophet who was crucified by the Romans (and I'm pretty sure they don't believe he rose from the dead). So who is right? Jews? Christians? Muslims? How do we find out?

As for the fulfilment of OT prophecy: apart from the fact that Muslims don't accept that the New Testament texts are the infallible word of God - we can easily see that the Gospel writers were attempting to prove Jesus was the Jewish Messiah by crafting the narratives to fulfil prophecies. That is, these prophetic fulfilment texts being written *into* the Greek texts ie. the disparate lineages of Christ in the Gospels.

Anders pointed out there is a difference between Jesus (Yeshua) who was the first-century Palestinian Jew and the mythology of "Christ" that Paul developed - this is why there are conflicting statements such as Yeshua saying that one should obey the commandments and Paul saying that Jewish sacred law was no longer to be followed by Christians.

Sosthenes - there is an associated Talk Wisdom forum?????

Gary Baker said...

Hi All,

Finally back in from work. Picking up some strands in no particular order:

"this isn't relative to the original proposition. the proposition being debated was whether or not all faiths tie back to the same God."

Not really. While you could make a case that all faiths tie back to the same God, that has little to do with what you are worshiping at the time. Even Satanism ties back to God, but can hardly be construed as worshiping him.

A great deal of the Bible is devoted to making it clear that close definitely doesn't count when it comes to worshiping God. He has always been very particular about the type of worship he accepts. For observant Jews, a lot of it is tied up ceremonies that symbolize this and the seriousness of sin. While Christians have far fewer legalistic restrictions, there are still some things that have to be observed.

Christ admonished us to worship in Spirit and in truth. This goes to the question about Islam. Islam teaches that Christ is not the Son of God, and God himself. Therefore the worship is a lie and denies the word of God. I think it's in James that it states that without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith is believing in him and his word. If you don't believe his word, it becomes impossible to worship in truth. You have already declared that you do not have faith.

"How can any Christian *guarantee* what they will do in the future that might invalidate their salvation?
"

We could go back and forth on scripture all night and then some, but the bottom line is: God said it. I believe it. The Christian can't guarantee squat. God said it through Christ. He said that no one can snatch us from his Father's hand. "What if's" make fine discussion, but they really are academic. God said it. I believe it. Done deal.

Now Umm said that paradise was guaranteed to those who devote themselves wholeheartedly. The problem is that is no assurance at all. Christ promises salvation for all who accept him as savior. Period. We know. But without that guarantee, there is no security because what does wholehearted devotion mean? Every day? Overall? The "what if's" become very important because your salvation could turn on a shade of meaning. For the Christian, we have been adopted and we will not be cast out. We will be disciplined, we may blow it, but no one is strong enough to snatch us from God's hand.

As for the the discussion of Jihad, my assessment is based on reading "Unveiling Islam." For those who have not, I heartily recommend it. It was written by two brothers who were raised Muslims. Their father was their hero and best friend. When they turned to Christ, he disowned them. This is not a hit piece kind of book. This is an evaluation of the religion by those who were raised in it and lived in it until they no longer could. I think you'll find it fascinating reading.

Now, I am certain there are other interpretations of the verses from the Quran that are cited in the book. Umm, yours are probably different. From my standpoint, I have no reason to favor one interpretation over the other. I do know that in areas where Islam holds sway, other religions, especially Christianity, are suppressed. The persecution is often violent, sometimes fatal. (Not that Islam is unique in this regard. Right now certain provinces in India are declaring open season on Christians, and the communist block has never had trouble making Christians go away.) I am saying this not because I regard you personally as an enemy. I simply remark that history has shown that Christianity and Islam are not compatible. Christ declared that his kingdom was not of this world. Mohammad said to convert, enslave, or kill all not of the faith. I understand that not all or a majority of Muslims take it that far. But enough do so that Islamic countries, some once notable for their tolerance, are becoming very inhospitable to other faiths and their adherents.

I say this not denying for a moment the checkered past of Christianity. Any religion with people is going to be imperfect. Christianity, however, has grown more peaceful and focused on equality and liberty as the scriptures became available for more people. That may have been the case for Islam as well, but it seems to be going the other way now.

More as more comments come in or more thoughts occur.

Umm Yasmin said...

Hi Sosthenes,
I wasn't able to register at the Talk Wisdom forum as registration is closed, but I've joined up to the Cults and False Religions forum.

Sosthenes said...

Yasmin,

If you want to join the "Talkwisdom" message board, we can talk in the one to one discussion board where the rules are only the ones invited to participate in the debate can talk.

In order to join the board, you have to send an email by clicking on the link "contact us" which will probably send an email over to the administration there and they may unlock the registration there at certain times for you to register.

The posting is immediate at the other forum that my friend has set up a while ago so I plan on being respectful to you as possible and I thank you for joining.

Sosthenes

Umm Yasmin said...

Gary said:
"As for the the discussion of Jihad, my assessment is based on reading "Unveiling Islam."

That's kinda like reading Richard Dawkins to find out about Christianity ;)

"Islam teaches that Christ is not the Son of God, and God himself. Therefore the worship is a lie and denies the word of God."

But how do you know which - the Bible or the Qur'an - is the word of God and is correct in telling us how to understand and worship God? This is why even though I can absolutely agree with you that the Qur'anic 'God' contradicts the Biblical 'God', and yet when you tell me James says this or Paul says that, it doesn't help - because I don't believe what James and Paul wrote is the infallible word of God... only the Qur'an is :)

"The Christian can't guarantee squat. God said it through Christ."

Exactly!!! That's the position that Muslims take (except of course we say that God said it through Muhammad).

I think the problem is that many Christians have got their understanding about what Islam teaches from erroneous accounts like the one to which you referred. Muslims are assured of salvation, but we are realistic enough to plainly state that we have no guarantee on what the future will bring.

Even in Christianity, salvation is not a 'get out of jail free' card that can be bought once and then used for the rest of your life. Otherwise, everyone - atheists, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims etc. - could hedge their salvatory bets by saying the Sinner's Prayer at once in their lives, and then getting on with being atheists, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims.

Sosthenes: thanks - I've popped off an email :)

Gary Baker said...

Umm said:

"That's kinda like reading Richard Dawkins to find out about Christianity"

"I think the problem is that many Christians have got their understanding about what Islam teaches from erroneous accounts like the one to which you referred."

Here's a question however that, regrettably, you cannot provide a sufficient answer to: What compelling reason do I have to believe that the account revealed in "Unveiling Islam" is erroneous as opposed to your own view? My training is in engineering, which stresses review of facts, analysis, and context. I look around at the world and how conditions are in lands which are heavily controlled by Islam, and the truth of the matter is that their condition points much more heavily toward a view of Islam described in my reference than in what you describe. I also look at what happens in countries that are not Muslim controlled, but have very heavy concentrated enclaves of Muslims such as France and Britain. The result is separate "mini-societies" where non-Muslims are assaulted, threatened, etc.

I have no reason to distrust that you are not sincere in your beliefs about what Islam is. But it isn't working out that way in practice in areas where Islam becomes a majority.

Now, as to the question of how I know which interpretation of scripture is correct, I can tell you, but I doubt you will believe. The reason is this:

I know that Christ is Lord because He called to me. He called me when I was six, and stuck in a family where love and care walked hand in hand with abuse, alcoholism, and anger. He wrapped his protection around me and kept me whole through many terrible years. Even during a period when I left him, he did not leave me. He has kept me and prospered me and guided me toward him. He is my Lord, and he is my personal friend. His Father has adopted me. I take all this on the evidence of his word and the seal of his Spirit.

That faith and trust is what separates the Christian from someone who tries to use the sinner's prayer as a "Get out of jail free card." Those people are out there, and they try it, but in the end they only heap more punishment upon themselves, for God will not be mocked. He is sovereign, and cannot be used. And he does not need me to conquer the world for him. He plans to do that on his own. I can only be a messenger of available grace from the wrath to come.

Sosthenes said...

"O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands; they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things," (66:8-9).

Yasmin,

How can you say that Muslims are guaranteed salvation when this verse in the Qu'ran says "may" remit your evil deeds?

Sosthenes

Umm Yasmin said...

Peace!
Hi Sosthenes, I've taken the liberty of replying to this at the forum:
http://cultsandfalsereligions.myfastforum.org/sutra135.php#135