Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Prophets and Potatoes

"You say tomato, I say tomatah
You eat potato and I eat potatah
Tomato, tomatah, potato, potatah
Let's call the whole thing off."
~ George Gershwin

If you read last week's musings, you saw that I rambled for so long that it needed to be a two-parter.  Part One focused on whether a religion, any religion, should be defined by it's core written teachings, or if it should be defined by the majority's actions and/or disobedience.  I hope I made my case that it is the holy writings of a faith that should define and characterize it, as only the writings remain unchanged over time and stand alone as an objective standard applicable to each adherent.

This week, I attempt to examine what in my mind is obvious, but that I continually hear misstated and misunderstood, frankly by those same religious "majority" people who don't actually practice the religion they claim.

Do the Qur'an and teach the same things (subtitled is Allah and God two names for the same deity)?

This thought has become very commonplace today, yet is so starkly untrue that it sickens me to even type the sentence.

Though I obviously cannot do an exhaustive comparison in this small space, let me choose just two examples with the hope that the evidence of two differences is sufficient to prove that the teachings of the two books is not the same.

Point 1- both are violent books that teach violence.  This is both true and untrue.  The bible is a book written in different genres.  Some "books" are actually letters that were written by the early apostles to churches or individuals who were alive in the first century.  Books like Psalms, Proverbs, and Job are examples of ancient Hebrew poetry, and even a quick glance shows the reader that they look and read very differently.  The bible includes prophecy and history, which is what is most applicable here.

To record and relate historical acts of violence is not to teach them, and even in those instances where people were commanded to commit violence, the commands were not meant to be universal and timeless. In other words, when God told the Israelites to go to war, He meant that group of Israelites were to fight a specific group of people.  These commands do not hold for us today.

Compare this to the Qur'an, whose commands for violence are universal and timeless.  Just as unbelievers were to be executed in Mohammed's day, even today they should die.  Remember last week's post, that just because (perhaps) the majority of Muslims would not do this, does not mean that it is not a tenet of their faith.  It just means that (thankfully) they are disobedient to this teaching.

Psst- for a great summary of the violence inherent in the Qur'an, see this video.

Furthermore to the fact that the bible's commands for violence are historical is the fact that Jesus came to save the world, and as Paul makes abundantly clear, He came to save the whole world, not just one ethnic group.  Even when arrested, while Jesus could have violently overthrown the authorities, instead He surrendered to them, even scolding His disciples for resisting through violence.  Instead He allowed Himself to be crucified for crimes and sins He did not commit.

Compare this to Mohammed, whose cause of death is still disputed, with some claiming he was murdered by a Jewish woman and others saying he died of illness at the age of 62, a very old age for the time.

Don't get me wrong.  The bible does warn of coming violent judgment.  But the warning consists of violence at the hand of God Himself, and not by Christian believers.  This is in stark contrast to Islam that commands the violent spread of its message.

But what about all those laws that command stoning and such?  Don't those command violence?

Yes they do, but praise be to God that Jesus came to fulfill the law!  He came, lived a perfectly righteous life, and died as the ultimate sacrifice to God so that by faith we could be seen as righteous before God.  Righteous so that we no longer deserved death by stoning or by any other judicial means.  Jesus died to render the law powerless, thus rendering such commands obsolete.

Compare this to Islam that teaches "abrogation."  For those unfamiliar with this word (like I was!), in this context it means that those more recent violent verses in the Qur'an overrule more peaceful verses that may have come earlier.

So let's see.  The bible- violent history that includes some violent commands that are no longer relevant in Christ, or the Qur'an- peaceful past now overruled by Mohammed's more recent writings.

These books, and thus the gods they embrace, are not the same!

I implore you to follow the God of all peace and His Son Jesus Christ, who died taking the penalty for your sin.  Put aside the foolishness of those who for political reasons or political correctness want to delude you.  Embrace the truth of the true God of the ages!

As Paul wrote, 
"Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”  for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.
Grace be with you"  ( Timothy 6:20-21)

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