Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Response to Robert Morey’s "Tough Love’ Lecture

December 18, 2016

Dr. Robert Morey directed me to his lecture “Tough Love.” The general theme of the lecture is that appeasement is not an effective solution to terrorism. As far as it goes, I certainly agree with that general theme. Moreover, there are certainly some true statements in the lecture, such as that the position of Christians in Sharia systems is inferior to Muslims. I also appreciate that Dr. Morey specifically states around 6 minutes that he doesn’t want individuals to go out and engage in personal acts of violence or hatred against mosques or Muslims. Furthermore, I agree with the concluding statements that Dr. Morey provides, namely that the struggle with Islam is a spiritual one, and that Islam can only be defeated by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, if I have correctly understood him as saying that the only way to defeat Islam is the gospel.

Nevertheless, I think Dr. Morey’s main proposal is wrong. Around 23 minutes in, Dr. Morey gets to his main proposal and states: “Number One: The world must unite to destroy the kaaba in Mecca at once.” Similarly, 25 or so minutes in, Dr. Morey states: “You must understand, if they do not pray to the kaaba, they don’t go to the kaaba, they don’t run around the kaaba, they don’t do this, they don’t do that, if Mecca is destroyed, their prayers, their pilgrimages, and their hopes for paradise are destroyed with it.”

Dr. Morey speculates that if Mecca and Medina are destroyed, it would cause the collapse of the Wahhabist regime in Saudi Arabia and would cause an immediate response by “moderate” Muslims against the radicals who would blame them for the destruction of these “holy” sites. I tend to think that the response by moderate Muslims would be instead to unite against the attacks on their sites, just as the World Trade Center attack united Americans against Islamic terrorism rather than against President Bush.

Dr. Morey recognizes that people have taken the position I just expressed. He responds (around 28 minutes): “No, the majority of Muslims – do they make the pilgrimage? No. The majority – 90% of Muslims – are moderate. They don’t care what the Koran says. They don’t care. Their religion will go on without the Kaaba and the Mecca, because it’s … a cultural thing. Just as much as we have moderate Christians who are only culturally Christians. I do not believe that the moderate Muslims, who don’t take their religion seriously. They will not rise up. It is only the terrorists who will be demoralized for this reason. The imams, the mullahs, and the muftis have gone on record: if the kaaba is ever destroyed, Islam is through. If Allah cannot protect Mecca, Islam is through. They’ve gone on record. Well then I’m takin’ ’em up on their word.”

A) Dr. Morey seems to think that the Saudi regime represents the most radical Islamic sect(s). This is not correct. In fact, the Saudis themselves are under constant attack or threat of attack from Islamic terrorists (see a list). Both Al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL have attacked the Saudis (example).

B) Dr. Morey can’t have it both ways. The moderate Muslims can’t be so outraged that they will overthrow the radical regimes while simultaneously not caring that western governments did the actual attacks.

C) Dr. Morey is welcome to try to identify any imam, mullah, or mufti that has said that Islam is through if the kaaba is destroyed or Mecca is attacked. I would be surprised if he could identify any that have such an opinion, and even if one or two have said something like that, surely such a position is not representative either of mainstream Islam or even the radical sects of Islam.

D) The kaaba itself has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. The current construction of the kaaba is from 1629. If destroying the kaaba would end Islam, Islam should be over long ago.

Dr. Morey’s remaining proposals vary. For example, Dr. Morey’s second proposal was on restricting Islamic immigration to the U.S. One is reminded of Trump’s recent suggestions. I won’t debate or discuss those here. Dr. Morey’s third proposal involved a bundle of ideas, including punishing the families of suicide bombers. My own view is that such punishment of the families is clearly condemned as unjust by the Old Testament. Dr. Morey also suggests burying the remains of terrorists in “pigskin body bags.” I don’t support this idea, either.

Dr. Morey predicted that the next go around with radical Islam would be the survival of Israel. As we have seen, that turned out not to be the case.

Not only was his prediction wrong, but there were a number of less important but still troubling errors I heard in the lecture. For example, early in the lecture, Dr. Morey states “That instead of jumping up during my speech – and I’ve had them do that – I’ve had them chant Fatwa, Fatwa, Fatwa, death, death, death. And I would say, look I grew up in New York City with death threats, let’s go on with the debate.” The word “fatwa” does not mean “death.” A fatwa is a decree, and it doesn’t seem like a very likely word for Muslims to chant during a lecture.

Likewise, around 14 minutes in, Dr. Morey proposes that etymology of the word “whore” comes from the Arabic word “houri,” which describes the 72 virgins that Muslims martyrs will allegedly receive. By contrast, the Online Etymology Dictionary states:

whore (n.) …
1530s spelling alteration (see wh-) of Middle English hore, from Old English hore “prostitute, harlot,” from Proto-Germanic *horaz (fem. *horon-) “one who desires” (source also of Old Norse hora “adulteress,” Danish hore, Swedish hora, Dutch hoer, Old High German huora “whore;” in Gothic only in the masc. hors “adulterer, fornicator,” also as a verb, horinon “commit adultery”), from PIE *ka- “to like, desire,” a base that has produced words in other languages for “lover” (source also of Latin carus “dear;” Old Irish cara “friend;” Old Persian kama “desire;” Sanskrit Kama, name of the Hindu god of love, kamah “love, desire,” the first element in Kama Sutra).

Whore itself is perhaps a Germanic euphemism for a word that has not survived. The Old English vowel naturally would have yielded *hoor, which is the pronunciation in some dialects; it might have shifted by influence of Middle English homonym hore “physical filth, slime,” also “moral corruption, sin,” from Old English horh. The wh- form became current 16c. A general term of abuse for an unchaste or lewd woman (without regard to money) from at least c. 1200. Of male prostitutes from 1630s. Whore of Babylon is from Revelations xvii.1, 5, etc. In Middle English with occasional plural forms horen, heoranna.
The word, with its derivatives, is now avoided polite speech; its survival in literature, so as it survives, is due to the fact that it is a favorite word with Shakspere (who uses it, with its derivatives, 99 times) and is common in the authorized English version of the Bible … though the American revisers recommended the substitution of harlot as less gross …. [Century Dictionary]


Similarly, see this explanation Oxford Etymologist Anatoly Liberman:

Are houri and whore related? No, they are not. Houri, taken over into English from French, is ultimately an Arabic word meaning “gazelle-like in the eyes,” from hawira “to be black-eyed like the gazelle” (the transliteration is simplified). The meaning “voluptuous, seductive woman,” known from English and French, is secondary. By contrast, whore has retained its ancient meaning almost intact. The English word has cognates in all the Old Germanic languages (for example, Gothic hors meant “adulterer”). By a well-known rule, Germanic h corresponds to k in other Indo-European languages, so that we find Latin carus and Old Irish cara “friend” among the words akin to whore. In Germanic, the meaning “dear, loving” deteriorated and was associated with illicit sex and promiscuity. Thus, neither the sounds (Indo-European k versus Arabic h) nor the meanings of the two words match.


I haven’t listened to other materials by Dr. Morey on the subject of Islam or how to deal with it. From this lecture, while I agree with his overall anti-appeasement posture and his conclusion that the gospel is the real solution, I would have serious reservations about some of his major proposals.

Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity – One Point of Contrast

March 28, 2016

Qin Shi Huang (260 – 210 BC) is the most prominent of the Chinese emperors. He united China through conquest, began the Great Wall of China, and had the Terra Cotta warriors built. He’s significant to Confucianism – and especially the textual transmission of Confucius’ works – because toward the end of his reign he engaged in a process of burning books and burying scholars. The scholars that were allegedly buried alive were apparently Confucian scholars, and Confucian works were apparently largely destroyed by the Emperor’s decree.

The Qin dynasty ended shortly after Qin’s death, and was replaced by the Han dynasty. In A.D. 9, Wang Mang (45 BC – A.D. 23) usurped the throne from the ruling family and set up his own short-lived dynasty. During Wang Mang’s reign, it was alleged that some of Confucius’ writings had been rediscovered. Wang Mang apparently used these texts in an attempt to support his own reforms.

Robert Greene (in “The 48 Laws of Power,” p. 397) explains it this way:

Reigning from A.D. 8 to A.D. 23, the Chinese emperor Wang Mang emerged from a period of great historical turbulence in which the people yearned for order, an order represented for them by Confucius. Some two hundred years earlier, however, Emperor Ch’in had ordered the writings of Confucius burned. A few years later, word had spread that certain texts had miraculously survived, hidden under the scholar’s house. These texts may not have been genuine, but they gave Wang his opportunity: He first confiscated them, then had his scribes insert passages into them that seemed to support the changes he had been imposing on the country. When he released the texts, it seemed that Confucius sanctioned Wang’s reforms, and the people felt comforted and accepted them more easily.

Burning Books, by Matthew Fishburn similarly reports:

The first recorded state-sponsored book burning is the destruction ordered by Grand Councillor Li Ssu in Ch’in China in 213 BC. The country had been newly unified under Ch’in Shih-huang-ti, and he signified his rule with the order to burn the books of any historian or partisan of the defeated Shih or Shu. The Emperor is also known for beginning construction of the Great Wall, and even forced people convicted of protecting books to work on its construction; condemning, as Borges incisively commented, ‘those who adored the past to a work as vast as the past, as stupid and as useless’. This was not, as Lois Mai Chan has emphasized, unmediated destruction. There were exemptions for all manner of practical or scientific works and, just as importantly, even the objectionable books were preserved in imperial archives and allowed to be kept by the official scholars. As is often the case with such suppression, it is difficult to assess the extent of the initial destruction, but it is certain that this centralization of the written record increased the devastation when the Imperial Archives were attacked and destroyed in 206 BC. The association between censorship and aridity has its symbol in the legend that grass never grew on the spot where the books of the scholars were burned.

(p. 2)

While there is controversy (apparently to this day) about the nature and extent of Qin’s burning of books, and of Wang Mang’s (or others’) possible editing or forging of Confucian writings, these controversies were all made possible by the fact that Qin had control of the geographic area where Confucius’ works circulated, and the means for effectively destroying those works.

This parallels the history of the transmission of the Qur’an. The first caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr, is said to have collected the Qur’an in A.D. 634. Nevertheless, various versions of the Qur’an were apparently circulating during reign of the third caliph, Uthman (reigned A.D. 644 – 656). Uthman created a standard text of the Qur’an and had the other copies burned. This was possible because Uthman had control of the geographic area where the Qur’an circulated and the means for effectively destroying competing copies.

There is, however, no close parallel in Christianity. Christianity rapidly spread copies of books of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) beyond the reach of the Roman Empire. Christianity had no centralized earthly ruler and by the time emperors like Constantine or Roman bishops tried to operate in such a capacity, the text of the New Testament was so well established and widespread that any attempt to edit or control the text would have been ineffective. While this uncontrolled transmission of the text may seem messy it is one of the means by which we can have confidence in the text today, without the need for a continued prophetic witness.

P.S. For your interest:

There is considerable debate about which, if any, of these books were directly written by Confucius himself. The main source of his quotations, the Analects, was not written by him. As with many other spiritual leaders such as Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus, or Socrates, our main source of Confucius’ thought, the Analects, was written down by his disciples. Some of the core canon is argued to have been written by Confucius himself, such as the Spring and Autumn Annals. There is considerable debate about this, however.
This factor is further complicated by the “Burning of the Books and Burying of the Scholars”, a massive suppression of dissenting thought during the Qin Dynasty, more than two centuries after Confucius’ death. The emperor Qin Shi Huang destroyed a great number of books, possibly destroying other books written by Confucius or his disciples in the process.
The current canon of Four Books and Five Classics was formulated by Zhu Xi. Many versions contain his extensive commentaries on the books. The fact that his specific version of the Confucian canon became the core canon can be seen as an example of his influence in Confucianism.
Other books are not included in the current canon but once were. The major example is the Xun Zi.


See also:

In AD 9, Wang Mang usurped the throne and created the Xin Dynasty. The Western Han dynasty had ended after 198 years of consecutive rule.
Wang Mang hoped to gather support from the peasantry be introducing reforms. Wang Mang announced the discovery of books written by Confucius, which were supposedly discovered after Confucius’ house, was destroyed more than two hundred years ago. The discovered work supported the same kind of reform that Wang Mang sought.
Wang Mang defended his policies by quoting from the discovered books. Following what was portrayed as Confucian scripture; he decreed a return to the golden times when every man had his measure of land to till, land that in principle belonged to the state. He declared that a family of less than eight that had more than fifteen acres was obligated to distribute the excess amount of land to those who had none.


The Eaten Verse of the Quran – A Shia Fabrication?

September 8, 2013

I recently had an interesting exchange with a Muslim who insisted that the Quran has been perfectly preserved. I pointed out that according to at least one hadith, one verse of the Quran was eaten. The Muslim responded that I should not believe what he claimed was a Shia fabrication.

The relevant hadith can be found in one of the six major Sunni collections of Hadith:

It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Verse of stoning and of breastfeeding an adult ten times was revealed, and the paper was with me under my pillow. When the Messenger of Allah died, we were preoccupied with his death, and a tame sheep came in and ate it.”

Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1944 (Arabic reference: Book 9, Hadith 2020). The copy of Ibn Majah I used has designated this as a “good” (Hasan) hadith (see here).

Essentially the same story can also be found cited this way:

[Narrated ‘Aisha] “The verse of the stoning and of suckling an adult ten times were revealed, and they were (written) on a paper and kept under my bed. When the messenger of Allah expired and we were preoccupied with his death, a goat entered and ate away the paper.”
Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. vol. 6. p. 269; Sunan Ibn Majah, p. 626; Ibn Qutbah, Tawil Mukhtalafi ‘l-Hadith (Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya. 1966) p. 310; As-Suyuti, ad-Durru ‘l-Manthur, vol. 2. p. 13

I found it cited that way, interestingly enough, in a web page that appears to be Shi’ite, criticizing the Sunnis for their adherence to ahadith. The page argues:

It needs no great intelligence to see that this theory of abrogation of recital cannot be of any use in such cases. If a surah or verse was recited in the life of the Prophet and then it was lost either because the reciters were killed in a battle, or because a goat devoured it or for any other reason, then the question arises: Who had the right to abrogate a Qur’anic verse after the Prophet’s death? Had any other prophet come after Muhammad (peace be on him and his progeny)? That is why Sayyid al-Khu’i has said, “It is clear that the theory of abrogation of recital (naskhu ‘t-tilawah) is exactly the same as belief in alteration in and omission from the Qur’an.”
Therefore we have to strictly adhere to the well established principle that any hadith going against the Qur’an must be discarded and ‘thrown to the wall’ – if it cannot be reinterpreted in an acceptable way.  


One downside of this particular Shi’ite approach to the hadith material is that the person will never be able to persuaded by the historical evidence that demonstrates that the Qur’an has not been perfectly preserved.

Moreover, the Shi’ite argument cited above presumes that the Qur’an was in a fixed form by the death of Mohammed.  That assumption, however, is open to question.  There are good reasons (such as the very hadith mentioned above) to believe that the Qur’an was not in an assembled form at least until Abu Bak’r recognized the danger arising from the fact that so many reciters of the Qur’an had died in battle during the battle of Yamama.  Moreover, there is reason to believe that the form of the Qur’an created by the first caliph (Abu Bak’r) is not necessarily the same form as that provided by Uthman (the third caliph).


Dr. Adam Francisco – Understanding Islam

October 11, 2012

Modern Reformation has posted a couple of videos from Dr. Adam Francisco on “Understanding Islam.” (Part 1)(Part 2). It is fairly rudimentary material, but it may be a useful introduction for folks who think they probably have a good sense of what Islam is, from watching the news.


Response to Zakir Hussain regarding Song of Solomon’s

September 27, 2012

The fourth and final prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 24:40 – 30:40) that there is a description of a beloved one in Song of Solomon.

Mr. Hussain quotes in part, but we will quote the whole description:

Song of Solomon 5:9-16
What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us? My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Mr. Hussain argued that (a) one of the titles for Mohammed is “beloved;” (b) that Mohammed had white skin with redness in it; (c) that Mohammed had black, wavy hair; (d) that “raven” could also be translated “Arab”; and (e) that Mohammed was the leader of 10,000 men at the taking of Mecca.

First, Mr. Hussain is treating this description as though it were intended literally, although it is part of a large piece of poetry. In context, the passage is not intended to provide a physical description of any real person. It’s simply describing a person who is very beautiful in the eyes of a united monarchy Jewish woman.

Second, Mr. Hussain has selectively quoted. While he claims that the description matches Mohammed “to a T,” does it really? Were his eyes like the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters washed with milk? On the contrary, his eyes were black – not blue, blue-green, or green (any of the colors of rivers of water).

Were Mohammed’s cheeks like spice beds and sweet flowers? Were his lips like lilies dropping perfumed oil? Were his hands like gold rings set with beryl? Was his belly like bright ivory overlaid with sapphires and were his legs like marble pillars set upon sockets of fine gold?

What Mr. Hussein has done is simply identify a few characteristics of the person described and compare those characteristics to Mohammmed.

Third, in context there is no obvious reason to view this passage as a prophecy of someone to come. In context, the poem is either love poetry for Solomon (written from the perspective of one of his wives) or by Solomon, and this love poetry stands as metaphor, parable, or typology of the relationship between Christ and the church.

Moreover, Mr. Hussain’s claim about Mohammed’s title that he was “the beloved of Allah” does not really fit the text very well at all, unless Allah is being portrayed as a woman in the text (something that would be extremely surprising to any of my Muslim friends, I think).

Furthermore, “black as a raven” is definitely “black as a raven,” not “black as an Arab.” While the words for Arab and raven use the same Hebrew letters (though not the same vowel points), it is not true that the term here can be translated “Arab” even if we ignore the vowel points.

Likewise, “black as an Arab” would be a rather odd description of an Arab, no? It’s a simile, not an identity.

Mr. Hussain further argued that the term translated “altogether lovely” is actually the word “Mohamed.” And the word may actually come from a cognate root. But the text does not say, “His name is [word]” but rather “he is [word].”

Mr. Hussain continued by suggesting that the passage in question should be continued past verse 16 of chapter 5 (the last verse of that chapter) into chapter 6.

The passage at the beginning of Chapter 6 states:

Song of Solomon 6:1-3
Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

I’m not sure of a polite way of pointing this out to Mr. Hussain, but this discussion appears to be a sort of poetic way of describing a particular kind of physical intimacy that the woman receives. Hopefully no explanation is required, assuming Mr. Hussain is married.

Furthermore, even if we took this literally, while the “bed of spices” may be literally referring to a garden of balsam (an aromatic plant), the other of the items in this garden is the lily. As Dr. White pointed out during the debate, while Mecca may be known for Balsa, it is not known for lilies. So, again, we find Mr. Hussain simply selectively quoting.

– TurretinFan

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White’s response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain’s arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

Jesus – The Prophet Like Moses – Response to Zakir Hussain

September 26, 2012

The third prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 13:19 – 24:40) that God promised to give another prophet like Moses. This was indeed a prophecy given first to Moses:

Deuteronomy 18:15 
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
Deuteronomy 18:18
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

However, the Scriptures confirm that this prophecy was fulfilled by Christ:

Acts 3:19-24
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

And again:

Acts 7:37 & 52This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. … Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Thus, twice the New Testament confirms that Jesus is the one who was prophesied in this prophecy. Moreover, Acts is recording the words of the Apostle Peter and Proto-Deacon Stephen, the first martyr.

Moreover, “from the midst of thee, of thy brethren” and “from among their brethren” in context clearly means that the prophet will be an Israelite. Mohammed was not Jewish, therefore, the prophet like Moses could not possibly be Mohammed.

That meaning is confirmed by the usage in Deuteronomy 17:

Deuteronomy 17:15
Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

Furthermore, contrary to Mr. Hussain’s suggestion that “put my words in his mouth” could not refer to the Son of God, Jesus himself claimed to speak what he received:

John 8:26
I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
John 8:28
Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
John 8:38
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
John 12:50
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
John 14:10
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Moreover, this casts no doubt on Jesus’ divinity, for the Spirit likewise is described as follows:

John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Zakir specifically argued that Deuteronomy 34:10 states that there can be no prophet amongst the Israelites like Moses. In context, that passage states:

Deuteronomy 34:9-12
And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

First, my inclination is to agree with the traditional view that these are the words of Moses, prophesying about what would come after him. Alternatively, these may be the words of a completer (such as Joshua), who completed the second giving of the law after Moses’ death. I would not ascribe the extremely late date that some modern scholarship has ascribed to the book.

Second, I would see the “arose not” as a use of the prophetic past tense. Namely, it is describing something future as past, because it is certain to occur.

Third, I would note that there is a question of the time frame involved. In context, the discussion is about conquest of Canaan under Joshua. In that time, there was no prophet in Israel comparable to Moses, in the various ways that are mentioned. No one whose face glowed with the visible presence of God, or who brought plagues like the plagues of Egypt.

Fourth, indeed, while there were mighty prophets before the coming of Jesus, none had that face-to-face experience or brought plagues like those brought in Egypt.

Fifth, we could grant that Jesus also did not bring plagues like Moses and did not visibly glow with the presence of God [Fn1]. Yet, in other ways, he could still be like Moses. In other words, a prophet can be like Moses, as to Deuteronomy 18 and yet be unlike Moses as to Deuteronomy 34.

Sixth, Mohammed was not like Moses in terms of speaking to God face to face or in terms of working signs like the ten plagues. We all know that Mohammed claimed to receive revelation from Allah through an angel named Gabriel, not face-to-face.

The alleged miracles of Mohammed include Koran-attested things like splitting and repairing the moon (Surah 54:1-3) and flying by night to Jerusalem (Surah 17:1). Other Hadith-attested things include the weeping stump and endless water from an ablution vessel. But none (to my knowledge) of the alleged miracles of Mohammed, whether attested by the Koran or Ahadith, include any nation-destroying miracles like those wrote by Moses in Egypt.

Thus, even if Deuteronomy 34 could be used to prove that the Deuteronomy 18 prophet had to be a non-Israelite, it would still not prove that the prophet was Mohammed. On the contrary, it would contradict such a view.

Zakir also argued that in John 16, Jesus denied teaching his apostles everything he had received, but left that for someone else. The passage states:

John 16:12-15
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Does Zakir think that all the things that belong to God belong to Jesus and that Mohammed received Jesus’ things to shew people? Specifically, does Zakir think that God is Jesus’ Father? That would seem to contradict one of the fundamental tenets of Islam, that God does not beget.

However, to directly answer the point, the Deuteronomy text says that Jesus will say what God commands, not absolutely everything he knows. Moreover, it does not say how Jesus will reveal all in Deuteronomy, and Deuteronomy does not rule out the use of the Spirit. Furthermore, Jesus’ revelation continued after his ascent in the work of Paul (who saw Jesus after his ascent) and through John (as recorded at great length in the book of Revelation).

Mr. Hussain argued that 1 Maccabees reflects an expectation of a prophet that would solve legal problems. It is not clear whether Mr. Hussain realizes that the book 1 Maccabees is not a book within the Hebrew or Christian canon, nor whether he realizes that it comes from the inter-testamental period – the time prior to Jesus.

In any event, it seems that the passage he must be thinking of is this one:

1 Maccabees 4:38-48
And when they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest, or in one of the mountains, yea, and the priests’ chambers pulled down; they rent their clothes, and made great lamentation, and cast ashes upon their heads, and fell down flat to the ground upon their faces, and blew an alarm with the trumpets, and cried toward heaven.
Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the law: who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place.
And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned; they thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down, and laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them.
Then they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar according to the former; and made up the sanctuary, and the things that were within the temple, and hallowed the courts.

It is also not clear whether Mr. Hussain is aware that this passage is not necessarily reflecting an expectation of any particular prophet, but of a prophet in general. At that time, during the intertestamental period, the people of Israel lacked any prophet (which is one reason that the book of Maccabees cannot be Scripture). 1 Maccabees itself records their plight:

1 Maccabees 9:25-31
Then Bacchides chose the wicked men, and made them lords of the country. And they made enquiry and search for Judas’ friends, and brought them unto Bacchides, who took vengeance of them, and used them despitefully.
So was there a great affliction in Israel, the like whereof was not since the time that a prophet was not seen among them.
For this cause all Judas’ friends came together, and said unto Jonathan, “Since thy brother Judas died, we have no man like him to go forth against our enemies, and Bacchides, and against them of our nation that are adversaries to us. Now therefore we have chosen thee this day to be our prince and captain in his stead, that thou mayest fight our battles.” Upon this Jonathan took the governance upon him at that time, and rose up instead of his brother Judas.

A similar comment on the absence of any prophet is found later in the book:

1 Maccabees 14:35-47
The people therefore sang the acts of Simon, and unto what glory he thought to bring his nation, made him their governor and chief priest, because he had done all these things, and for the justice and faith which he kept to his nation, and for that he sought by all means to exalt his people. For in his time things prospered in his hands, so that the heathen were taken out of their country, and they also that were in the city of David in Jerusalem, who had made themselves a tower, out of which they issued, and polluted all about the sanctuary, and did much hurt in the holy place: but he placed Jews therein. and fortified it for the safety of the country and the city, and raised up the walls of Jerusalem.
King Demetrius also confirmed him in the high priesthood according to those things, and made him one of his friends, and honoured him with great honour. For he had heard say, that the Romans had called the Jews their friends and confederates and brethren; and that they had entertained the ambassadors of Simon honourably; also that the Jews and priests were well pleased that Simon should be their governor and high priest for ever, until there should arise a faithful prophet; moreover that he should be their captain, and should take charge of the sanctuary, to set them over their works, and over the country, and over the armour, and over the fortresses, that, I say, he should take charge of the sanctuary; beside this, that he should be obeyed of every man, and that all the writings in the country should be made in his name, and that he should be clothed in purple, and wear gold: also that it should be lawful for none of the people or priests to break any of these things, or to gainsay his words, or to gather an assembly in the country without him, or to be clothed in purple, or wear a buckle of gold; and whosoever should do otherwise, or break any of these things, he should be punished. Thus it liked all the people to deal with Simon, and to do as hath been said.
Then Simon accepted hereof, and was well pleased to be high priest, and captain and governor of the Jews and priests, and to defend them all.

Mr. Hussain goes on to argue that the Jews had an expectation of “that prophet” as distinct from the Messiah. That may well be the case. Surely you remember the dialog at the beginning of John’s gospel between the John the Baptist and the Jewish leaders:

John 1:19-27
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who art thou?”
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
And they asked him, “What then? Art thou Elias?”
And he saith, “I am not.”
“Art thou that prophet?”
And he answered, “No.”
Then said they unto him, “Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?”
He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as said the prophet Esaias.”
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, “Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?”
John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”

So, we can readily concede that the Jewish leaders may well have been imagining three different men to fulfill the prophecies, rather than a single man. But their expectations are not our guide. Our guide is the self-revelation of Jesus Christ.

Recall that the passage that prophesied the coming of Elijah the prophet was this:

Micah 4:4-6
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Whether known to John the Baptist or not, an angel had prophesied regarding his ministry, as follows:

Luke 1:17
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

So, while John the Baptist was not Elias, he was like Elias.  He was (at least) a preliminary fulfillment of the prophecy.  And indeed Elias himself came to testify of Jesus:

Luke 9:28-36
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

It is easy to forget that testimony of Moses and Elias to Jesus, because the very voice of God from heaven calling Jesus his beloved Son is so much more important. Nevertheless, Elias did come at that time.  Some have suggested that Elias may be one of the two witnesses prophesied in the Revelation of Jesus Christ:

Revelation 11:3-12
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

– TurretinFan

[Fn1] Jesus’ face did not glow with the reflected presence of God’s glory. That said, in the mount of transfiguration, Jesus’ countenance was changed and as explained in the Matthew account of the transfiguration:

Matthew 17:1-2
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

But that shining was a demonstration of Jesus’ own divinity.  It was not merely a reflected shining.  Moses’ face shone with the reflected glory, but Jesus shown with the glory that he had with the Father.

John 17:5
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Notice also that unlike Moses, whose face shone, in the case of Jesus, his clothes were also shining white.  This is not the kind of glory that could be hidden by a veil, like Moses’ reflected glory.

2 Corinthians 3:13-16
And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
Exodus 34:28-35
And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Hopefully this clarifies what I meant above.

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White’s response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain’s arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

Responding to Zakir Hussain’s "Land of Canaan" Argument

September 25, 2012

The second prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 12:40 – 13:19) that God promised to give the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This was indeed a prophecy given first to Abraham (then called Abram):

Genesis 15:18-21
In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Mr. Hussain argued that for the past 1000 years this land has been held by Muslims. First of all, this assertion is faulty. The crusaders established the kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099 and held land in the area for roughly 200 years. Moreover, at the present day there is a Jewish nation in the region.

More importantly, though, it was the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership that drove out the peoples of the land.

Joshua 24:11
And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.

The expansion of Israel increased from the time of Joshua to that of David/Solomon. Thus, we read:

1 Kings 9:20-21
And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.

1 Chronicles 18:3
And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates.

2 Chronicles 7:8
Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.

Of course, subsequently the area was controlled by others. For example:

2 Kings 24:6-7
So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

And we may mention the fact that after the Babylonian, Chalean, and Persian empires both the Greek and Roman empires conquered the area. So the fact that Islamic forces likewise overran the area for a time (even for a long time) does not have particular significance.

It lacks particular significance because the boundaries of Euphrates to the Nile was never the boundary of any of the Islamic empire(s). Those empires that included that region (such as the Ottoman Empire) always included additional land on the other side of the Nile or on the other side of the Euphrates or both, like all the other empires that subsequently controlled the whole region.

It also lacks particular significance because it was the Israelites who actually drove out the Canaanite nations and took their land from them. Thus, the prophecy was in the immediate sense, clearly fulfilled in Israel, particularly in the height of the kingdom under David/Solomon.

Thus, there is no reason to apply this prophecy to Mohammed, whose successors conquered the area.

– TurretinFan

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White’s response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain’s arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

Responding to Zakir Hussain’s "Great Nation" Argument

September 24, 2012

The first prophecy that Zakir Hussain used in his recent debate with Dr. White is the fact (in the linked mp3, see 8:50 – 12:40) that God promised to make Ishmael into a great nation. This was indeed a prophecy given first to Abraham:

Genesis 17:20
And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

And later to Hagar:

Genesis 21:18
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

Zakir argued that what makes a nation great is monotheism or specifically worshiping the one true God, and that consequently the Arabian conversion to Islam is the fulfillment of this prophecy, since prior to that time the Arabs were mostly polytheists. He seemed to appeal to this passage as though it defines greatness as he has argued:

Deuteronomy 4:6-8
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

But that passage is not defining what makes a nation great, it was what makes a great nation wise. It is comparing Israel to the great nations.

In the Scriptures, the term “great nation” refers to any large, populous, and/or mighty nation. For example:

Deuteronomy 4:38
To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
Deuteronomy 7:1
When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
Deuteronomy 9:1
Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
Deuteronomy 11:23
Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
Joshua 23:9
For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
Psalm 135:10
Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings;
Jeremiah 50:9
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.

In short, it is not necessary for the prophecy that the nation be a monotheist or YHWH-worshiping in order to be considered “great.” That is because while in English these days the term “great” can mean “wonderful,” the primary significance of the Hebrew word it is translating is one of large size, power, or importance (which used to be the primary meaning of the English word, “great,” as well). A great nation is not necessarily one that is morally praiseworthy.

All this argues against the major premise of Mr. Hussain’s argument. The minor argument is also in dispute, since Islam does not worship YHWH, nor does it have laws that are as righteous as those of Old Testament Israel. However, even if we assumed that the minor premise were correct, the major premise fails as discussed above. Accordingly, in this post I haven’t provided a detailed argument about the minor premise.

Thus, as to the first prophecy, we have no reason to see Mohammed prophesied particularly in the Old Testament. The Ishmaelites were a great nation before Mohammed was born. For example, the Ishmaelites included the Midianites:

Judges 8:22-24
Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you. And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

Moreover, the prophecy regarding Ishmael was fulfilled in his own lifetime:

Genesis 25:12-18
Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

So, we know exactly who the twelve princes were, by name. Thus, there is no need to look for Mohammed as a fulfillment of this prophecy. There is a minor premise that is also in question, namely the question of whether the Arabians are actually the descendants of Ishmael. While I don’t have any particular reason to doubt their claim, I’m unaware of any genealogy that actually demonstrates the connection.

– TurretinFan

N.B. It should go without saying, but this post should not be taken as in any way a criticism of Dr. White’s response during the debate. I was able to spend an unlimited amount of time preparing my response, and I am not required to fit my responses to each of Mr. Hussain’s arguments into a fixed amount of time or space. In a real debate, the debaters have to prioritize based on limited preparation time and limited response time.

Early Muslim/Christian Debate – a Proto Two Kingdoms Apologetic

September 12, 2012

The Letter of Mor Yuhannon [John] (d. 649), the Patriarch, Concerning the discussion which he had with the Amir of the Mhaggraye, provides for us one of the earliest records of debates between Christians and Muslims. A complete translation can be found at the following link (link). It’s worth noting that in the discussion Mor Yuhannon distinguishes the “orthodox” from the “Chalcedonians.” My point is not to enter into the question of the orthodoxy of Mor Yuhannon, only to point out that he advocated the Christian side of the discussion, with the Emir representing the Mulsim side of the discussion.

Of particular interest are the following:

I) The blessed Patriarch, the Father of the community, was questioned by him: “Whether the Gospel is one, and whether it is the same, without differences, which all Christians in the world hold to?” The blessed one answered that it is one and the same among the Greeks, the Romans, the Syrians, the Copts, the Cushites, the Indians, the Armenians, the Persians, and the rest of all peoples and tongues.

It is interesting to note this late Patristic era response. The places identified go significantly beyond the scope of any of the so-called Ecumenical councils. They include India and Ethiopia (Cush), which were not – as far as I can tell – included in the discussions at any of the seven ECs.

And we may add that we agree with the Patriarch. The gospel is one and the same throughout the world.

II) Again he asked, “Since the Gospel is one, why is the faith different?” The Blessed one responded, “Just as the Torah is one and the same and it is accepted by us Christians and by you Mhaggraye, and by the Jews and by the Samaritans, and each is distinct in belief; likewise concerning faith in the Gospel, each heretical group understands and interprets it differently, and not like us [the Orthodox].

It is interesting to note the fact that the Patriarch believes that the Muslims accept the Torah. One assumes that this is because the Muslims tell him that they accept the Torah.

Likewise, the Patriarch’s answer regarding the reason for the different views is not because each has a different document, but because there are different understandings of the documents.

III) Again he asked, “whom do you say Christ is? Is he God or not?” And our Father answered, “He is God; and the Word, who was born from God the Father, who is eternal and without beginning. At the end of time, for the salvation of mankind, He became flesh and was inhominated from the Holy Spirit and from the holy Virgin Mary, the mother of God, and became man.”

This is an astute answer. I’m not fond of the term “mother of God,” because it can be easily misunderstood, but this answer seems to provide the necessary qualifications. It is also interesting because despite distinguishing himself from the Chalcedonians, this patriarch is quite willing to use the “mother of God” terminology.

IV) And the glorious Amir asked him this: “When Christ was in the womb of Mary, the one you say is God, who was carrying and ruling the Heaven and earth?” Our blessed father argued with him concerning the question: “When God came down to Mount Sinai and spoke with Moses for forty days and forty nights, who was carrying and ruling the Heaven and earth; as long as you claim that you accept Moses and his books.” The Amir said, “He is God and He rules the Heaven and earth.” Immediately, he heard this from our Father: “Likewise Christ [who is] God when he was in the womb of the virgin, he was carrying and ruling the Heaven and earth, and everything which is in them as Almighty God.”

Again, note that the Patriarch relies on the Old Testament, believing that the Emir accepts it. Moreover, the Emir’s answer seems to presuppose that the Emir does accept it.

V) Again the glorious Amir asked, “What kind of belief and faith did Abraham and Moses hold?” Our blessed Father answered, “It is the belief and faith of Christians that they held: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, the rest of the prophets, all the just and righteous ones.”

The Amir said, “Why did they not write clearly and make it known concerning Christ?” Our blessed father replied, “As sharers of the mysteries and intimate ones they knew it, but [because of] the infancy and innocence of the people at the time, who were inclined to worship many gods [polytheism] and cling to them, to such an extent that they regarded wood, stones and many other things as gods, they made idols, they worshipped them and sacrificed to them. [For this reason] the holy ones did not want to give the erroneous ones a pretext that they might depart from the Living God and follow error, but prudently proclaimed the truth: “Hear, Israel, the Lord God is One Lord” for they truly knew that there is only One God, and one Godhead, that of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thus they spoke and wrote symbolically concerning God that He is One in divinity and three hypostases and persons; there neither is nor do we confess three gods or three deities; there are neither gods nor deities; for the Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is One, as we have said, and from the Father is the Son and the Holy Spirit. If you want, I am ready and prepared to confirm this from the holy Books.”

I’m not sure whether I would follow the reasoning of the Patriarch on this point. I wouldn’t think that it was only the most ancient peoples who were inclined to idolatry and polytheism. Nevertheless, the Patriarch’s emphasis on the common monotheism of the Old and New Testaments is important.

VI) Again, when the Amir heard all of these, he requested only “if Christ is God, and was born from Mary, and if there is a Son for God, let that be proved literally and from the Torah.” The blessed one said that not only Moses, but also all of the holy prophets previously prophesied and wrote this concerning the Christ: One [of the prophets] had written concerning His birth from a virgin, another that He would be born in Bethlehem, another concerning His baptism; all of them, so to say, [wrote] concerning His saving passion, His vivifying death, and His glorious resurrection from the dead after three days. He [the blessed one] brought evidences, and began to confirm this from all of the prophets, and from Moses, according to their writings.

Notice that the Patriarch initially interprets “Torah,” here as referring generally to the Old Testament. He then begins to demonstrate each point that the Emir had requested from the Old Testament as a whole, including Isaiah (regarding the virgin birth, for example).

VII) The glorious Amir did not accept these [proofs] from the prophets, instead, he demanded proof from Moses that Christ is God. The blessed one, therefore, cited Moses in many things (verses), e.g., that “the Lord let fire and sulfur come down from the Lord on Sodom and on Gomorrah.” The glorious Amir demanded that this be shown in the book. Immediately, our father showed it in the complete Greek and Syriac texts.

At the same place, there were some Mhaggraye with us, and they attentively saw the passages and the glorious Name of the Lords, and the Lord. The Amir called a Jew, who was there, and he was considered by them to be knowledgeable in the Scriptures, and asked him if it was literally so in the Torah; and he answered, “I do not know exactly.”

Notice that the Emir wants to see it in the books of Moses, rather than the Old Testament more broadly. This already seems to clarify that when the Emir said, “Torah,” he meant the Pentateuch, not all the inspired Hebrew books.

Also, notice the disbelief by the Emir when confronted with the contents of the book. He wants to see it actually in the books, and the Patriarch shows it to him both in Syriac and Greek.

But even that leaves the Emir wondering if it is just something inserted by a Christian translator. So, he asks a Jew to confirm that the translation is literal, and the Jew does not deny it, but simply tries to defer.

VIII) At this point the Amir moved to ask him concerning the laws of the Christians: “what and how are they, and whether they are written in the Gospel or not?” Again [he asked], “if a man die and leave behind boys or girls and a wife and a mother and a sister and a cousin, how would his possessions be divided among them?” Then our holy father said that the Gospel is divine, it instructs heavenly teaching and commands vivifying commandments; it despises all sin and wickedness, and it teaches virtue and righteousness. Many other related issues were brought up.

It is interesting to note that the Emir has the expectation that the Christian books should specify every aspect of Christian life.

The answer the Patriarch gives is a very “two kingdoms” sounding. He points out that the laws of the Gospel are divine and spiritual. They are not intended to provide for every detail of human governance, such as how exactly an estate is supposed to pass from father to son, and so on.

IX) And the glorious Amir said, “I ask you [Plural] to do one of three things: either show me your laws written in the Gospel and conduct yourselves accordingly, or follow [or submit to] the law of the Mhaggraye. Then our Father replied that we Christians have laws, which are just and right, and we follow [submit to] the teaching and the commandments of the Gospel and the rules of the Apostles and the laws of the Church.
In this manner the assembly of the first day was dismissed. And we have not yet been interviewed again by him.

Notice that the two-kingdoms answer doesn’t really seem acceptable to the Emir. He is basically willing to allow the Christians to live by a sort of Gospel Sharia if there is one, but if there is not one, he expects them to obey the Islamic Sharia. The question from the Emir is not whether the laws are reasonable and just, but whether they have divine authority.


Horton’s Comments on Islam or E2K?

August 27, 2012
“… it’s a good thing that we no longer live in an era where Christianity is a culture.”

I saw that Michael Horton had posted a series of three videos (about 15 minutes total) purportedly on Islam, in association with the “White Horse Inn.” (part 1, part 2, part 3)

I offer the following by way of corrective and commentary.

In part 1, Horton states:

“Islam is all law.”
“Salvation – deliverance – is not an Islamic idea, because this is all up to you.”
“If you end up in paradise, it’s because you pulled it off, not because you were saved.”

These are not a completely accurate picture of Islam. First of all, in the Koran (and elsewhere) Allah is described as “Merciful” and “Forgiving” over and over, starting from the first Surah. In fact, traditionally one finds the following at the beginning of each Surah: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,” which is known as the Bismillah. If you listen to Muslim speakers, you will frequently hear them say this phrase, “bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm.”

We could provide a variety of examples, but suffice that in Islam Allah’s sovereignty is not strictly lawful but rather lawless. He forgives capriciously and condemns almost as capriciously. He is made in the image of Mohammed, for whom certain things were generally pleasing (such as monotheism and obeying Mohammed), but for whom other things (like murder) could be simply forgiven.

A fundamental problem with Islam is not that it is all law, but that it is not enough law. In Islam, there is no law of satisfaction. Allah can disregard the law, and so there is no need for a perfect sacrifice to satisfy justice and reconcile mankind with him.

Also in part 1 he states: “What the Koran reveals, according to Islam, are timeless eternal principles and truths, whereas Christianity has a very historical concern.”

He then goes on to give the following example: “Think about, for example, the creed of Islam: Allah is one and Mohammed is his prophet. There are these timeless eternal principles and truths.”

He later says: “Nothing in Islam hangs on historical events.”

I have to wonder about this kind of description of Islam. The Koran does describe creation and does point people toward a future judgment. Moreover, the Koran makes Mohammed the pivot point of history.

It is true that the Koran does not place much emphasis on history, and is not arranged chronologically, but to say that Islam doesn’t hang on historical events seems, strange.

It’s particularly strange when the so-called creed of Islam mentions that pivotal man, Mohammed.

Unfortunately, Horton also makes the mistake of identifying “surahs” with verses, rather than chapters, both in the first part and in the second part.

In the second part, after some e2k material about “regime change,” Horton alleges that Islam is not a religion of peace, based on identifying a number of ayat that are violent. Horton then continues on contrasting e2k with his perception of Islam as a primarily violent religion.

Finally, in the third segment, Horton describes the fact that he lives next door to Muslims and lets his kids play with them “all the time.” Indeed, he indicates that he takes care to help the Muslim kids observe Ramadan (!).

He then goes on with more discussion of his e2k worldview, in which there cannot be Christian nations that do what the Westminster Confession says they should.

Horton points out that Islam is not consistent with freedom of religion. I’m sure many Muslims would dispute this point, but if he simply qualified his statement by saying that Islam dose not teach religious freedom “to the extent that U.S. law provides when Islam is in control,” I think they would have to concede the point.

I may address Horton’s various e2k statements (which seemed to be the pervasive message in his commentary) in a separate post. I will, however, point out his most disturbing remark, which is the last thing he says: “… its a good thing that we no longer live in an era where Christianity is a culture.”

Obviously, I don’t agree with his point. Christianity still invades contemporary US culture. It does so less than it did in previous generations, and that is sad, yet it still does so. The American culture is less Christian than it was, but it has not become what pluralists hope it will be. As I said above, however, I’ll my postpone my detailed responses to his e2k teachings for another post or not at all.


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