Archive for May, 2013

The Other Thing Francis of Rome Said … about Killing in the Name of God

May 27, 2013

Francis of Rome recently made some comments about atheists that got a lot of attention, but in the process people missed a bigger point. Francis stated:

Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.


But Urban II stated (1095):

On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.

All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let hem eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide.”

(As reported by Fulcher of Chartres)

And Eugene III stated (1154):

We exhort therefore all of you in God, we ask and command, and, for the remission of sins enjoin: that those who are of God, and, above all, the greater men and the nobles do manfully gird themselves; and that you strive so to oppose the multitude of the infidels, who rejoice at the time in a victory gained over us, and so to defend the oriental church -freed from their tyranny by so great an outpouring of the blood of your fathers, as we have said, – and to snatch many thousands of your captive brothers from their hands,- that the dignity of the Christian name may be increased in your time, and that your valour which is praised throughout the whole world, may remain intact and unshaken. May that good Matthias be an example to you, who, to preserve the laws of his fathers, did not in the least doubt to expose himself with his sons and relations to death, and to leave whatever he possessed in the world; and who at length, by the help of the divine aid, after many labours however, did, as well as his progeny, manfully triumph over his enemies.

We, moreover, providing with paternal solicitude for your tranquillity and for the destitution of that same church, do grant and confirm by the authority conceded to us of God, to those who by the promptings of devotion do decide to undertake and to carry through so holy and so necessary a work and labour, that remission of sins which our aforesaid predecessor pope Urban did institute; and do decree that their wives and sons, their goods also and possessions shall remain under the protection of our selves and of the archbishops, bishops and other prelates of the church of God.


Moreover, Innocent III stated (1215):

Aspiring with ardent desire to liberate the Holy Land from the hands of the ungodly, by the counssel of prudent men Who fully know he circumstances of times and places the holy council approving: we decree that the crusaders shall so prepare themselves that, at the Calends of the June following the next one, all who have arranged to cross by sea shall come together in the kingdom of Sicily; some, as shall be convenient and fitting, at Brindisi, and others at Messina and the places adjoining on both sides where we also have arranged then to be present in person if God wills it, in order that by our counsel and aid the Christian army may be healthfully arranged, about to start with the divine and apostolic benediction.

1. Against the same term, also, those who have decided to go by land shall endeavour to make themselves ready; announcing to us, in the meantime, this determination, so that we may grant them, for counsel and aid, a suitable legate from our side.

2. Priests, moreover, and other clergy who shall be in the Christian army, subordinates as well as prelates, shall diligently insist with prayer and exhortation, reaching the crusaders by word and example alike that they should always have the divine fear and love before their eves, and that they should not say or do anything which might offend the divine majesty. Although at times they may lapse into sin, through true penitence they shall soon arise again; showing humility of heart and body, and observing moderation as well in their living as in their apparel; altogether avoiding dissensions and emulations; rancour and spleen being entirely removed from them. So that, thus armed with spiritual and material weapons, they may fight the more securely against the enemies of the faith; not presuming in their own power, but hoping in the divine virtue.


So, are popes Urban II, Eugene III, and Innocent III all blasphemers, or is Francis out of step with the tradition of Rome?

But it gets worse. Recall the instructions to Jehu:

2 Kings 9:6-10
And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, ‘I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: and I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: and the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.'” And he opened the door, and fled.

Was that prophet a blasphemer?

What about this prophet:

Deuteronomy 20:16-18
But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee: that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the Lord your God.

Is Moses a blasphemer? But the cruelest irony of all:

Leviticus 24:16
And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

The words of Francis of Rome do not just contradict a trio of his predecessors, they contradict the law and the prophets. They contradict the Word of God.

In the next post, Lord Willing, we’ll encounter Francis’ comments about atheists, but it seems worthwhile pointing out the modernist context that surrounds Francis’ comments about atheists and atheism.


What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an, by James White – a Review

May 15, 2013

With great pleasure, I recently read my friend James White’s book, “What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an,” published by Bethany House Publishers. It may be helpful to begin by clarifying what the book is not, then identifying what I liked about the book.

The book is not “what every Christian needs to know about Islam.” While understanding the Qur’an is probably the central part of understanding Islam, this book is narrowly focused on the Qur’an. You won’t find extensive discussion of all the different schools of Islamic thought, all the different sects and sub-sects of Islam, or discussion of the behavior of Muslims in various countries, except to the extent it is relevant to the topic at hand.

The book is not “what every Muslim needs to know about the Qur’an.” While there are some sections that will be particularly helpful for a Muslim seeker who is trying to understand why he should be Jesus’ disciple, rather than Mohammad’s, this book is not written primarily to Muslims but to Christians.

The book is not “everything there is to know about the Qur’an.” While there is in-depth analysis of a number of passages of the Qur’an, and there is a variety of overview material, much of the Qur’an is not discussed in detail.

The book is not “what every Christian needs to know about the Hadith/Sunnah.” While a number of important ahadith are discussed in the book, the various collections of hadith cover numerous topics besides the Qur’an and are the basis for the Sunnah, which includes plenty of things that are extra-quarranic.

The book is not “what every Christian needs to know about Arabic.” While a number of Arabic words are used, with the exception of one illustration, I believe they are all given in a Romanized form. Moreover, the number of Arabic words is really dictated by the fact that the words tend to have a technical meaning in connection with Islam, and are not necessarily considered translatable by Muslims. There is a helpful glossary at the back of the book for some important terms and phrases, and other terms and phrases are explained in the text itself.

The book is not “the Qur’an for dummies,” “Qur’an 101,” “what most people already know about the Qur’an” or the like. While there is some overview material, the book aims to educate Christians and elevate their knowledge of the subject.

The book is not “The most sensational and shocking aspects of Islam or the life of Mohammad.” While such books may have their place, this book is not in that category. If there are materials that will shock or offend Muslims in this book, they are not being presented simply for that shock value.

From my standpoint, the high point of the book was chapter 4, which deals with the Qur’an and the Trinity. In my view, the Qur’an’s treatment of the Trinity is one of the fatal flaws of Islam. Dr. White does a masterful job of proving from the Qur’an and other early Islamic sources that the author of the Qur’an did not correctly understand the Trinity, which demonstrates that the purported authorship of the Qur’an cannot be the true authorship.

Two other chapters I expect Christians will find useful are chapter 10, which deals with the sources and parallel passages in the Qur’an and chapter 11, which deals with the textual transmission of the Qur’an. Chapter 10 could have been two chapters – one on the sources that the Qur’an draws on, and one on the parallel passages in the Qur’an. The section on the sources illuminates the fact that Qur’an draws on a variety of pre-Islamic sources that are unreliable Jewish or heretical legend.

The other section of chapter 10 deals with parallel passages in the Qur’an. This section is not just interesting from the standpoint of highlighting some of the inconsistencies in the Qur’an, but is also interesting from the standpoint of providing rebuttal material when dealing with Muslim criticisms of the Gospels. After all, while there may be differences between Matthew’s account and Mark’s account of a given event, the Qur’an (in a single work) has differing accounts of the same events.

Chapter 11 is similarly useful in terms of providing rebuttal material to the oft-repeated allegation that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved. The chapter illustrates that such a claim is undermined by the historical evidence we have, much of it from an Islamic perspective, but also from the earliest major Christian interactions with Islam.

I did scour the book to see if there were things in it with which I would disagree. The few things with which I would disagree are basically trivial points that don’t deal with the substance. Let me address the biggest point of disagreement, to illustrate how small the disagreement is. I agree with Dr. White that one possible basis for Muhammad’s misconceptions regarding the Trinity are the idols that were growing in acceptance in the churches in Mohammad’s region during his lifetime. In particular, he probably saw professed Christians who carried images of Mary and Jesus with them, or saw such images installed in churches. However, I would not expect that the images would be statuary in 7th century middle-eastern churches (more likely paintings, tapestries, or similar flat portrayals), nor do I expect that there were any crucifixes (crosses, yes, but not crucifixes), and I think it is unlikely any of them would have any purported likeness of the Father creating world (presumably Dr. White has in mind the atrocity found on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel). (Cf. p. 87 of the book.) Keep in mind that all of this discussion is about a point on which Dr. White is not dogmatic (he phrases the matter in terms of speculation and as a mere possibility) and does not really matter for Dr. White’s argument (after all, Christian iconography probably did contribute to Mohammad’s errors). My other points of question or disagreement are even more trivial than this minor point and are definitely not worth mentioning. I would, however, hope that if any Muslim readers spot errors in the book they will bring them to my attention.

In conclusion, the book is a resource that I would recommend to anyone who plans to discuss things theological with their Muslim friends, relatives, or neighbors. The book is not “what every Muslim knows about the Qur’an,” and I think it is likely that your Muslim friends, relatives, or neighbors are unlikely to know all the material that is in this book. The book responds to a number of widely-held myths about or based on the Qur’an, and it is likely that Muslims you meet will have heard those misconceptions. Being prepared to talk with them may help you open the door to discussion of why they ought to be Jesus’ disciples, rather than (not “in addition to”) being the followers of Mohammad. This book is a valuable asset for such preparation.


In the interest of disclosure, I blog at Dr. White’s blog, in addition to being his friend.

Does God Hate?

May 8, 2013

“Anyone who teaches that a god hates, that’s not the God of the Bible … .” (Ergun Caner at 16:57-17:03 in “The Priority of Sharing the Gospel of Muslim Women” on the John Ankerberg Show)

Hosea 9:15
All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.

Malachi 1:3
And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Romans 9:13
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.


If that’s Exoneration …

May 6, 2013

As reported (here):

Ergun Mehmet Caner @erguncaner
@kylelaporte @Brutangel22 // No need to prove anything. Certainly not u. Again, 3 schools looked at it all. Finding? Exonerated

As reported here:

Four members of Liberty’s Board of Trustees who conducted the investigation found that “Dr. Caner has made factual statements that are self-contradictory,” the university said.

If that’s exoneration, I wonder what conviction would look like.

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