Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

The "Little Extra" of Believing the Word of God

January 27, 2011

Over at the interesting, and often thought-provoking, non-Calvinist blog “Diglot” (anonmyously authored), I found the following statement:

I think that today’s Christianity in large part has fused the basics of the Christian gospel message together with many peripheral beliefs. When you become a Christian in today’s Western culture, you are not merely “accepting Christ” but you are also accepting an entire package of doctrines and beliefs. All these little extra beliefs are implicitly touted as being inextricably wrapped up with the basic message of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

What are the “little extras” I am talking about? Things like being told that as a Christian you have to believe that the world was created 6000 years ago, that evolution is not true, that everything in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) actually happened, that the Gospel of John is a faithful record of what Jesus actually said and did, etc. However, it seems that when many Christians realize that these things are not even remotely true, their entire faith collapses. Not just their Christian faith, but even their most basic faith in any God.

But Jesus said:

John 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

You cannot have Jesus and reject Moses, because Jesus bore witness to Moses. If you believe the words of Jesus, you will believe the words of Moses. If you don’t believe Moses, you don’t believe Jesus.

Believers are not simply those who “accept Christ,” but those who believe and trust in the Word of God. Thus, Scripture contrasts the two positions:

Psalm 106:12 Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.


Psalm 106:24 Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:

And again:

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.


John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

And sometimes we see the two tied directly together:

John 12:46-48
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Unbelief in the Bible is unbelief in God. I wish I could offer hope to those who reject the Old Testament but claim to love Jesus, but I cannot. Perhaps God will have mercy on them (after all, we are all sinners and imperfect), but the fruit of the lives of such men is that they have not believed the Word of the Lord.

This is not a little extra, but the central issue – a line that divides heretics from orthodox Christians – those that accept the once delivered faith from those who create a new faith that excludes those parts that they do not wish to hold.

It is not a tragedy when unbelievers identify themselves as unbelievers. After all, it is better for an unbeliever to recognize his situation than for him to falsely imagine himself to be a believer.

Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

So, dear reader, here is a challenge for you: do you believe the Word of the Lord? Is it your rule of faith and life? Do you measure the claims of your church by that standard, or do you interpret the Scriptures according to what your church insists it means? Do you measure the historical and cosmological claims of “science” by what the Bible says, or do you interpret the Bible in light of what “science” tells you? Have you accepted or relegated the Word of the Lord?

Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.


Allah said it?

September 15, 2009

Muslims sometimes (see footnote 1) make the claim:

We should read the Quran believing this is Allah speaking to us, because that is what it is. It is Allah talking to us directly.



Islam is unique among the Abrahamic religions in its understanding of sacred scripture. While the Hebrew and Christian scriptures contain an occasional direct quotation by the divinity (e.g., “And I heard the voice of the L-rd, saying, . . . ‘ Isaiah 6.8; “but [the Lord] said to me, . . . “ Galatians 12.9), these scriptures contain primarily narration, poetry, wisdom, sermon, instruction and epistle written in the third person. Only the Glorious Qur’an consists entirely of Allah speaking for himself in the first person. This direct identification of the Arabic words of the Qur’an with Allah has profound implications for communication and rhetoric in the Islamic world.


This kind of claims create serious problems from the very start of the Koran. Recall that the Koran begins with a chapter called “Al-Fatiha” (The Opening).

That chapter includes the following verse:

إِيَّاك نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِين

The translation of this is: “You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help”

Everyone who reads this recognizes that there are essentially two options:

1) These are the words of a man worshiping Allah; or

2) These are the words of Allah worshiping someone else.

Given the rest of Islamic theology (2) is wrong, and consequently (1) is really the only option. But if (1) is the option, then this is not the literal words of Allah, but the words of someone speaking to Allah. You might think (see footnote 2) that this would be readily admitted by everyone, but surprisingly I have observed this issue be disputed. The response given was “you can see it’s a prayer, you can see it’s a prayer,” which is not really a matter of any dispute.

It is alleged (though I have not been able to find confirmation of this) that some copies of the Koran inserted the word “say” at the beginning of this chapter, so that the words would be Allah’s words telling people how to praise him. No “say,” however, is found in the most popular edition of the Koran today.

It is also alleged that the entire surah “Al-Fatiha” (the Opening) is a later (yet pre-Uthmanic) addition to the Koran. Even if we left out “Al-Fatiha” from our consideration, one does find “Allah” speaking in the third person (not just the first person) in other places in the Koran, such as:

From Surah 2, “The Cow,”
243 Have you not considered those who went forth from their homes, for fear of death, and they were thousands, then Allah said to them, Die; again He gave them life; most surely Allah is Gracious to people, but most people are not grateful.

The Bible is superior to the Koran in many ways. One way is that it teaches that prophecy does not have its origins in man’s will, but yet it is the product of men speaking. As Scripture says:

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Where is any teaching like that in the Koran? Where is a proper understanding of the way by which God’s revelation is conveyed through the prophets?


Footnote 1: There are a very large number of Muslims. Some say 1 billion. There is simply no way that the positions identified above are held by all 1 billion of them.

Footnote 2: Most of the usual readers of my blog are not Muslims.

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