A Few Things to Remember on 9/11


The event and memories of 9/11 leave Christians in a difficult position. On one hand, we are called to respect our government and pray for our leaders, meaning we pray for the security of this nation and all actions that work to secure that security. We should pray for victory in Afghanistan and that the Lord would protect our servicemen. At the same time, we are called to make disciples of all nations and to display love towards our enemies, both of which would include the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban (and Al Queda). Thus, Christians are left praying for the victory of the nation, but also praying that Christ would redeem the Taliban and our opponents. Were the members of the Taliban to come to Christ tomorrow, it would be better than if all of them were to be killed; a friend gained is better than an enemy killed.

I think of the quote from St. Clement of Rome, where he wrote to the Corinthians,

“Love binds us fast to God. Love casts a veil over sins innumerable. There are no limits to love’s endurance, no end to its patience. Love is without servility, as it is without arrogance. Love knows of no divisions, promotes no discord; all the works of love are done in perfect fellowship.”

When reflecting on 9/11 we shouldn’t have images of revenge or wish for the death of our enemies. Instead, we should seek opportunities to help those who were deeply affected by the events of 9/11. We should find ways to reach out to our enemy and while praying for our military’s victory, pray even more that our enemy should come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is not an attempt to over-spiritualize, but rather a very practical view; how could the Taliban and Al Queda kill our soldiers or bring violence to our shores if they were wrapped up in the love of Christ?

There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of families who were impacted by 9/11. These are people we should be there for and pray for. But let us not lash out at people in our emotion. Rather than burning Qur’ans, why not open them up and read them (and subsequently expose the falsity of Islam)? Instead of condemning Muslims or feeling they are the enemy, why not invite them over for dinner (if they are open) or find a way to befriend them? The most powerful weapon Christians have is that of Trinitarian love, which conquers all. Ultimately, while our nation fights terrorists in far-away lands, at home we must constantly keep in mind that those who are Muslims are not our enemies, but rather slaves to a religious system. They are co-image bearers who are in chains to the Devil, as are all who do not have a relationship with Christ. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12,

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

On 9/11, let us remember such a passage. Let us reflect on the tragedy that was brought to our shores. Let us be there for those who lost someone on 9/11. Let us not take out our pain and emotions on Muslims, even if they support the actions of 9/11. Overall, let us be a beacon in the darkness of this world, an oasis of love in tumultuous desert of this loveless world. Let us display the love of Christ to friend and foe so that we might win both to Christ and receive our eternal reward.

Let us reflect and apply the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch in his epistle to the Ephesians:

“Regarding the rest of mankind, you should pray for them unceasingly, for we can always hope that repentance may enable them to find their way to God. Give them a chance to learn from you, or at all events from the way you act. Meet their animosity with mildness, their high words with humility, and their abuse with your prayers. But stand firm against their errors, and if they grow violence, be gentle instead of wanting to pay them back in their own coin…so that in this way non of the devil’s noxious weeds my take root among you, but you may rest in Jesus Christ in all sanctity and discipline of body and soul.”

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Do you need more proof on Islam?


As though we needed more proof that Islam is violent and oppresses other religions, CBS’ 60 Minutes program did a special on the persecution the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is facing. As the video explains, this is not some obscure Christian leader; he is the patriarch to 300,000,000 Christians worldwide. Though not the same as the Roman Catholic Pope, what the Patriarch is facing is the equivalent of if Italy were to close Vatican City and attempt to oust all Christians in the nation.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2:

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

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I don’t get it


When a man walked into church and killed George Tiller in cold blood, some in the media, most notably on the political left, were quick to discredit all pro-life advocates. Anyone who spoke against abortion and called it murder was immediately branded as co-equal with Tiller’s murderer whether or not the pro-life advocate agreed with the actions taken against Tiller.

We see the same thing occur for Christians as well. Fred Phelps’ actions are reflected upon anyone who disagrees with homosexuality as a lifestyle. The Religious Right is seen as an attempt at a theocratic nation even though most Christians have no desire for theocracy or to associate with the Religious Right when they take political stands. But none of this matters – conservative Christians get branded for certain beliefs.

All of this might be explained as a case of collectively jumping the gun or creating a bias, but then we face the situation in New York with the proposed Islamic Community Center (or Mosque…the developers haven’t been very clear on what it is). We are told by the political left that Islam is a religion of peace and that they have a right to their religion as the next person. Yet, these same people will fight against radical Christians getting protest rights at homosexual rallies or abortion clinics (both are activities I would never engage in, but people do have rights). They will defend a religion that worldwide has caused more deaths than we can possibly imagine. In Pakistan honor killings are the norm. In Saudi Arabia all non-Islamic religions are persecuted out of existence. In all Sharia countries women must look out if they are not Muslim because they can be raped.

In fact, Islam is a very violent religion. Yet, the level of tolerance shown for Islam is baffling. Not that I think Muslims should be rounded up or disallowed their right to worship because many American Muslims are very peaceful, but that’s because they aren’t devout. Devout Muslims, those who adhere to the Qur’an and take the teachings of the Imans seriously, worry me and they should worry you. A quick study of Islam will show that it didn’t spread through good works, but rather through war. People didn’t convert to it because of how compelling it was, but rather their conversion was at the tip of a sword.

Whether or not Muslims have the legal right to build near Ground Zero or whether or not such an idea is wise, the amount of tolerance shown towards Islam as opposed to Christianity boggles my mind. The central focal point of the Christian message, outside of loving God, is to love humans. When we see Christians bashing others and condemning them to Hell (which the Bible does forbid Christians to do when it comes to non-Christians) we can turn to the Scriptures and ask that Christians live like Christ. When Muslims fly planes into buildings, rape non-Muslim women, or murder innocent civilians we can’t turn to the Qur’an. We have nothing to turn to because when they do such things, they are simply following the Qur’an. Yet Islam gets the pass of tolerance while Christianity doesn’t?

Someone please explain this to me.

Christianity, Hell, and Islam


For those who don’t follow, I recently had someone leave a comment on my post “Brian McLaren, really?“. I attempted one response that was a bit long and he responded back with a long response as well. Rather than engage in a “comment debate,” I’d rather just post my full reply as a post, since it will be a bit lengthy. I’d encourage you to read the comments before reading this post.

Well after reading that and reading your link, it looks like you are not interested in thinking any differently then you do now.

Well, to be honest, unless given a good reason to change my beliefs on something so central to the worldview I follow, I don’t see why I should be open to changing my views. Though we should always be open to examine our views, this is generally done by looking at rational arguments and evidence against our position. If our position holds strong against such critiques, there shouldn’t be a willingness to abandon it.

Our Christian Bible, many would say, is just as sexist as the Qur’an or Hadith, (maybe not in as blunt of ways). There are scripture in the Bible that talks about Woman not even being able to talk in Church. We can’t say that the Church treats woman fairly even now, I mean there is a reason why 90% of Church leaders are MEN.

If you define “fairness” by responsibilities, then yes, men and women are not treated equally. However, I think your attempt to equivocate the two is quite unfair. For one, both the Qur’an and Hadith teach that women are ontologically lower, that is, they have less rights, less value, etc by nature of being a woman. This is why rape, beatings, and the like are allowed by many Muslims. One simply look to Surra 2:282 to see that men are a “degree above women.” Prior to this, 2:223 says that men are to treat their wife (or wives) as property and do whatever they will with them. The justification is that women are lesser than men by nature. The Hadith is actually worse considering that the writings of Bukhari, chapter two, verse twenty-eight, states that the majority of Hell is composed of ungrateful women. If you look to Ishaq 593, we’re told that women are plentiful and it’s okay to leave the one you have to find another one. All of this shows that women are, by nature, lower than men and to be treated as property, a bit above animals (though Muhammad’s youngest wife A’isha complained that Muhammad was created women to be on the level of dogs and donkeys [Muslim 4:1039]).

The Bible, alternatively, teaches that men and women are ontologically equal. One merely look to the narrative in Genesis to see that men and women are both made in the image of God (“…male and female He created them…”). One can turn to the works of Paul, specifically in Corinthians, and see that he says the wife’s body belongs to the man and the husband’s body belongs to the wife, thus showing it’s equal. If we turn to Galatians, we find Paul telling the husband and wife to submit to one another. Elsewhere he tells husbands to lead with authority as Christ leads the Church, which is completely self-sacrificial. Paul also says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family, but can (and “provide” in the Greek implies both material and immaterial [i.e. emotions, psychological well-being, etc]), is worse than a heathen. Though women were devalued in Jewish culture, in the New Testament we see that Christ has no problem interacting with a sick woman who needs healing, a woman who is on her 7th marriage and considered a whore by the community, a prostitute who washes His feet with perfume, and the first witnesses of the Resurrection in all the Gospels are females.

All of the above indicates that the Bible sees women as ontological equals. Now, for whatever reason, God has declared that on some issues, men and women have different responsibilities, but this does not make them unequal or elevate men above women. Only those who are power-thirsty would see authority as a standard for equality. Authority has nothing to do with equality – some people, male or female, aren’t called to be in a position of authority. Does this mean they are unequal with those who are called to such a position?

So as you can see, I don’t see your argument as compelling.

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A further reply to a Muslim


Paasurrey was kind enough to respond to my last post at his own website. In his reply, he states:

Hi fried Joel

Please quote from Jesus; not from what the sinful and unfaithful scribes, who deserted ‎Jesus when he most needed them.Later they sided with Paul who was an enemy of Jesus ‎and his friends. ‎

Jesus never could utter such words that he was a god. You say the Pharisees noticed it; I ‎don’t agree with you. The Pharisees were Jews; had they noticed it, it should have been ‎written also in the book of the Jews? Please quote from Jewish source that the Pharisees ‎noticed it.‎

Jesus denies of this claim as rightly quoted by Quran from Jesus:‎

My reply:

As I pointed out in my initial response to you, simply saying, “Oh, Paul was sinful and the Jews were sinful, therefore you can’t trust anything written about Jesus” is nothing more than a cop out. In fact, the passages I chose I did so specifically – these are passages that even the most anti-Christian scholars accept as actually occurring. That is, they believe these to be the actual sayings and happenings of Jesus. They may deny most of the New Testament, but they believe these specific passages I pointed out to be historically accurate. It is up to you to demonstrate how they were corrupted. Quoting the Qur’an, an interesting but ultimately fallible book, is not sufficient. You must provide actual evidence (changes in the manuscripts, older manuscripts compared to newer manuscripts, changes in language and vernacular within the same text, etc) before laying down such a big claim.

The reason for this is you simply can’t sweep aside what I quote by just declaring it fallible. You need to actually present some evidence as to why these specific passages are fallible and corrupt.

Likewise, as I pointed out in my initial reply, by claiming they are corrupt, you make God look utterly inept:

Now, there are far more proofs, but I wanted to use the most obvious ones that cannot be questioned historically. We cannot say these proofs are corrupted because almost all true historians – even those who are agnostic or believe that Jesus was merely a good man – accept these are historical truths. To say, “The Christians added to the text” might be convenient in order to throw out the argument, but it lacks the historical validation necessary to be an adequate argument.

Likewise, Muslims run into quite a few problems when they use that excuse. We hear that the Jews corrupted the Old Testament, thus God gave us the New Testament, but the Christians turned around and corrupted it as well. Thus, we end up with the Qur’an. But this poses a problem – how do we know that the early Arabs or even the Persians didn’t corrupt the Qur’an? We can say, “God protected it,” but if He protects the Qur’an, why was He so inept at protecting the Old and New Testaments?

Thus, the Muslim apologist is thrown into a quandary – if God had Gabriel recite the Qur’an to the Prophet due to the corruption of the Old and New Testaments, what promise do we have that the Qur’an is not likewise corrupted? Alternatively, if God has preserved the Qur’an, why wouldn’t He preserve the Old and New Testaments? Finally, if He did preserve the Old and New Testaments (an argument I’m not sure you would make as both the Qur’an and Hadith claim the Testaments are corrupted), why the need for the Qur’an? So before you use the argument of corruption, I think you would need to deal with these issues.

So I must ask the question; which is it? Is your god weak? Does he not see the future? Could he not prevent the corruption of the words of Christ? Why worship such a weak and inept god? I’d much rather worship the God who preserved His Word through the ages, who was in perfect Trinitarian fellowship prior to creation, who created out of love, who sent His only Son to die on our account, and who had the power to raise His Son from the dead. That is a God who is worthy of worship. A god that can’t get it right the first two times, a god that relies on the “third time is a charm” rule, isn’t a god worthy of worship.

Follow up on the cruelty of God


Paarsurrey was kind enough to reply to what I wrote. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, his comments aren’t showing up on my site. I have no idea as to why, but since they aren’t showing up, I’ll provide his comments here:

Hi friend Joel

I ask you a little question; I think you don’t mind. Are you married and have sons and ‎daughter?

I suppose you are married and have a beautiful little baby girl. If she says; papa I am ‎willing, just kill me. Will you kill her? If you kill her; won’t it be a cruel act? I think, it ‎will be a cruel act; so even your own Catholic church will declare it to be cruel.

You will need a very cruel heart to perform this act.

Sorry, it is as simple as that. I think even the Catholics/Protestants/JWs/Mormon viewers ‎of your blog will agree with me on this point.

I love Jesus and Mary

Thanks

I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

I understand that from human terms and perspectives it can seem cruel. However, God is not to be judged in the same manner humans are to be judged. For instance, if God kills someone we can rest assured that He has done so justly. We understand that the person deserved it, because God is just. If I arbitrarily kill someone, no matter what, there will always be doubt as to why I killed the person. Why? Because I am not just. I can act justly, but being just is not part of my nature as it is with God.

So we come to the cross and we see the Father sacrificing the Son. Is this cruel? Is this evil? To understand, we must first look to why we were created, secondly to our fallen nature, and third to God’s solution.

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A reply to a Muslim – the Deity and Death of Jesus


A while back, a Muslim (Paasurrey) posted a comment on my site addressing some of the problems He saw with the Christian belief concerning Jesus. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the comment until yesterday. For whatever reason, it slipped through the cracks.

To make up for this, I am posting my response here and posting a link of my response on Paasurrey’s own site so he knows that I have responded to him. Though this is meant for him, I am making it public so anyone who has questions about Christ can hopefully find answers.

Paasurrey,

Assalamu alaikum. I hope this response finds you well.

I apologize for not responding sooner (over a year) as I never saw your comment until the other day. I have done my best to offer a concise reply to your objections. Please let me know what you think. I look forward to friendly dialogue with you on this issue. I have put what you said in quotes so you know what I am responding to when I write.

“I respect your religion; but I have my own free opinion. I think it to be too cruel for a father (God) to sacrifice/kill his beloved one (son) for others imaginary sins.”

If this were done against the will of Christ, then I would agree that it would be cruel. However, Jesus is part of the Godhead (we’ll get to that), thus as being God He planned on sacrificing Himself from before He even created the world, and as being a person in the Godhead, He willingly went to the cross.

Though He did ask for an alternative measure the night of His capture, He also said, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” Thus, Christ went willingly to the cross, which makes the claim of God’s “cruelty” a bit suspect.

Furthermore, sins are not imaginary. They are offenses to God. God, being infinitely good, takes our offenses against His will seriously. Any violation of His goodness is likewise infinite – how can temporal beings possibly pay off a debt that is infinite? This is why Christ died – only an eternal being can settle an eternal debt (amongst other things; this is not the only reason Christ died, but one of the biggest reasons).

The philosopher Abu Nasr al-Farabi wrote in his book al-Madinah al Fadilah (Virtuous City) that the “First Being” (God: al-Awwal) is perfect. So it is common between Christians and Muslims to agree that God is a perfect being and eternal (the “most ancient” as al-Farabi describes Him). He is likewise a person, meaning He can have offenses against Him. Any offense against Him would subsequently be eternal as God is eternal. The remedy for such a thing would also have to be eternal.

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