4/26/17

SOMETHING ABOUT “GETTING IT!” by Jim McGuiggan

https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/03/

SOMETHING ABOUT “GETTING IT!”


Thomas wasn’t there to see for himself and couldn’t believe what they told him on the basis of their words. It was too great, it was beyond his ability to embrace. Had they said they’d dreamed of Him or day-dreamed of Him; had they said they reminisced and saw Him laughing, smiling and heard His voice; had they said anything like that he would have believed them for wouldn’t that have been the kind of thing he had been doing himself?
They said nothing like that. Had they seen and heard the above they would have seen no more than they expected but it would have been infinitely less than the truth.
Had they seen only what they would have expected they would have joined company with Mary who interpreted what she saw in light of what she expected. Her love expected a corpse she could minister to and so she saw a “gardener” instead of Jesus. We do that, don’t we; see what we expect I mean. Days dreams of Jesus we would expect. They weren’t day dreaming!
Like two on the Emmaus Road she simply didn’t get the big picture. The love she had for Him needed enriched, disciplined and contextualized. What she felt she needed was less than He was offering and less than He was prepared to give. It wasn’t all about sweet Mary or about personal human intimacy of friendship—it was about His Father’s will and about the glorification of humanity for whom He became incarnate, lived, suffered, died and rose glorious!
We get no psychological information about her response when He said, “You mustn’t cling to me…” but do we need one? Have we not because we were/are His “friends” and part of His “inner circle” felt horrible when we discovered He required some “distance”—distance of one kind that (in the end) we find to be greater intimacy of another kind?
When Thomas said he wouldn’t believe unless he actually felt the wounds for himself surely the others who had rejected what Mary told them would understand his suspended judgment, which was really not suspended judgment but current non-belief.
When he was expressing his unbelief his Lord was listening—unseen—and was able to tell him what he had said and still He was willing to undergo the “test”. Christ’s knowledge, His calmness, the continuing love and His majesty carries Thomas beyond the need of “touching” or “examining” and “seeing”. He had no reason to expect more than a Lazarus-like return but all of a sudden—though nothing is “all of a sudden”—he “gets it”.
His Lord is also His God.
At first he expected nothing, then he expected something and now he grasps what he could never have expected to expect.
The wounds functioned as identification, this truly was a man and this truly was their friend who was slain—“It’s really me.” (Luke 24:39)
Since the wounds are not on a corpse but on this glorified Jesus who simply appears where and when He chooses, the wounds are witnesses to His Lordship over Death and over all the history that led to His dying and all the forces that worked to gain His death and all the definitive and fullest expression of that power (Matthew 10:28).
And Thomas “gets it”.
What is it he now grasps?
What does this unique expression of faith express?
I believe that Jesus is God incarnate—He is always God always being a man; He is always true God choosing to be a true man—and with millions of others I believe that in the light of the biblical witness.
I hold that Thomas was lifted to a conviction about the Godhood of Jesus previously unknown to his companions. I also think he finally understood what Jesus meant in John 14.
Philip who had been with Jesus “a long time” still asked Jesus, “Show us the Father.” He hadn’t “got it”. The Teacher and Lord said, “If you see Me, you see the Father; if you know Me you know the Father” but nobody “got it”—not until Thomas!
“Nobody comes to the Father but by me!” the Lord had said.” The Son of Man must suffer and be raised again from the dead,” he said. “I am the way,” He said.
The way to glory for the Messiah is through suffering, the Lord had said more than once (Luke 24:25-27; 1 Peter 1:11, 19); but who believed it?
That being true and since it is also true that “he who sees Me sees Him that sent Me” (John 12:45) then God’s way of glorifying Himself in saving and glorifying wayward sinners like us is by bringing us through the suffering and death we brought into human experience.
Thomas who insisted that he wanted to “see” finally got to ”see” God in and as the man Jesus.
“You don’t get to God unless you get to Him in and through Me! You don’t see or know God unless you see and know Him through Me.”
There are so many angles on truth, are there not? We could (and do) stockpile them—is there an end to their number?
I wonder if getting these angles is the same as “getting it”?
“Where I go (John 14:28) you know and the way you know.”
“Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?”
I wonder if we will ever “get it”?
And if not, I wonder why not?


Is The End Near? By Eddie Cooper

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/sep/page9.shtml

Is The End Near?

By Eddie Cooper

The Apostle Peter wrote:
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:20-21).
The prophet served as a spokesman for God.  He delivered God's message to God's people, and on occasion made predictions about future events.  It is a mistake to think that his primary role involved foretelling the future.  He was first a preacher, and then a predictor of coming events. The prophet's message was inspired by the Holy Ghost.  His message was not his own, and thus was not open to private interpretation.  The New Testament offers tremendous insight into the understanding of prophetic predictions.  Frequently, the writers of the New Testament refer to events in the life and ministry of Jesus as taking place in fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 1:22; 2:4, 15).  We can be certain that these men were fairly interpreting the prophet's message, however, much of what we read today regarding prophecy is far removed from the prophet's original intent.
Today, a great deal is being said and written regarding events in the Middle East and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.  But, there is little connection between what is occurring now and what the prophets predicted.
Passages like Isaiah 13:1-6 and Jeremiah 50:8-9 are often cited as proof that prophecy regarding Babylon (Iraq) is being fulfilled in our generation, but the fact of the matter is that these prophecies were fulfilled more than 20 centuries ago when Babylon fell (Daniel 5:30-31).  Further, the use of Babylon in Revelation is highly figurative and should not be confused with current events in the Middle East.
It seems that every generation produces men who have suddenly discovered new meaning in old prophecies.  Present events fulfill past predictions.  The end is near, or so they claim!  But the crisis passes and we go on waiting for the next outbreak of hostilities and still another claim that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled in our time!
We do not deny that the prophets predicted future events with uncanny detail and accuracy, but we do deny that they predicted the events now unfolding in the Middle East.  The end is coming, but when will it come?  The Bible does not say.  The message of Scripture is one of vigilance for "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night"  (2 Peter 3:10).

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" The Macedonian Call (16:6-10) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                    The Macedonian Call (16:6-10)

INTRODUCTION

1. With Timothy accompanying Paul and Silas, they...
   a. Delivered decrees determined by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem - Ac 16:1-5
   b. Journeyed through Phrygia and the region of Galatia - Ac 16:6
   c. Were not alone; the Holy Spirit was very much with them - Ac 16:6-7

2. The Holy Spirit's guidance in this case was unique...
   a. Though it was very much in evidence in Paul's journeys - cf. Ac 13:2,4
   b. It should not be considered typical as to how God directs His people

[If so, how does God guide His people today?  How can we ascertain
God's will for us in our own lives?  Before I suggest how God directs
us today, let's first review...]

I. GOD'S GUIDANCE OF PAUL AND HIS COMPANIONS

   A. FORBIDDEN TO PREACH IN ASIA...
      1. By the Holy Spirit - Ac 16:6
      2. Paul later spent 2 plus years at Ephesus - Ac 19:1-10
      3. Perhaps the Spirit forbid them at this time, knowing that they
         would later have the opportunity to serve for some time in Asia (SW Turkey)

   B. NOT PERMITTED TO GO INTO BITHYNIA...
      1. By the Spirit of Jesus - Ac 16:7; cf. Ro 8:9-10
      2. Peter later wrote to Christians in Bithynia - 1Pe 1:1-2
      3. Perhaps the Spirit did not permit them at this time, knowing
         that others would minister the area of Bithynia (NW Turkey)

   C. ARRIVAL AT TROAS...
      1. Bypassing Mysia (NW Turkey), they arrived at Troas (the coast of Mysia) - Ac 16:8
      2. Paul has a vision of a man of Macedonia ("Come over to Macedonia and help us.") 
          - Ac 16:9
      3. Conclusion (dream) and inclusion (Luke) - Ac 16:10
         a. Concluding that the Lord was calling them to preach the gospel in Macedonia
         b. Including the author (Luke) who now uses the personal pronouns "we" and "us"

[And so the Spirit directly led Paul in doing God's will on this
journey.  But what about us today?  How we can be sure that we live and
act in harmony with God's will for us?  Here are thoughts to consider...]

II. UNDERSTANDING GOD'S GUIDANCE TODAY

   A. THERE IS GOD'S PROCLAIMED WILL...
      1. God has made His will known in many respects - e.g., 1Th 5:18; 1Pe 2:15
      2. This He has done through revelation
         a. By sending inspired prophets in the past - He 1:1
         b. By sending His own Son - He 1:2
         c. By having the Spirit guide the apostles - Jn 16:12-13; e.g., 1Co 14:36-37
      3. It is this proclaimed will of God that we must do to be saved - cf. Mt 7:21
      -- That which is essential to know, God has revealed through
         Scripture - 2Ti 3:16-17

   B. THERE IS GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL WILL...
      1. God acts providentially in our lives - cf. Ro 1:10; 15:32
      2. For such reason we are to pray regarding our plans - Jm 4:13-15
      3. Our requests are answered as it may suit God's will - 1Jn 5:14
      -- We may not have certainty as to what is God's providential will for us

   C. THERE IS GOD'S PERMISSIVE WILL...
      1. God allows things to happen that are not necessarily according to His desired will
      2. He permits people to sin and even hurt other people
         a. He is not pleased, and will one day render judgment - Ac 17:30-31
         b. He is able to fulfill His own will, despite such rebellion - cf. Isa 10:5-7
      3. God permits people to do things that are indifferent to Him
         a. There are some matters of indifference to God - e.g., Ro 14:5-6
         b. Likewise, some decisions we make might not really matter to God
      -- Thus not all choices please God, nor are they necessarily required by God

[With these thoughts in mind, here are some suggestions for...]
   
III. SEEKING GOD'S GUIDANCE TODAY

   A. FOCUS ON THE PROCLAIMED WILL OF GOD...
      1. I.e., study diligently to learn what God has revealed
         a. If you don't embrace and practice the revealed will of God...
         b. ...what difference does it make to seek areas of God's will unknown to you?
      2. The value of focusing on the proclaimed will of God
         a. We will not be ignorant of what is essential for us to know and do
         b. We can avoid choices that are clearly contrary to God's will

   B. SEEK ADVICE FROM OTHERS...
      1. Discuss your alternatives with older, mature Christians - Pr 11:14; 12:15
      2. Consult the wisdom found in the Bible (especially Proverbs,Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)

   C. ASK GOD FOR WISDOM...
      1. Pray diligently for the ability to discern wisely - Jm 1:5-8
      2. Wisdom is that spiritual insight that enables you to evaluate 
         situations clearly, and helps utilize what options and abilities you have
      3. Use such wisdom to eliminate what appears less acceptable

   D. COMMIT YOUR WAY TO THE LORD...
      1. Whatever you do, do it for the Lord's sake - cf. Ps 37:5-6,23-26
      2. Make your plans subject to God's will, both proclaimed and providential - Jm 4:15
         a. Give God permission to close the door on your choice if that is His will
         b. If He closes the door on your choice, look for alternatives

   E. OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER...
      1. God is not like a train; he is able to run on more than one track
      2. A choice may not be between good and bad, but between good and better
      3. God can use us in many different ways
      4. If need not choose right away, wait; that will give you time to grow and gain wisdom
      5. Whatever your hands finds to do in your existing circumstances,
         do it with all your might

CONCLUSION

1. Our goal should be to "stand perfect and complete in all the will of
   God"... - cf. Co 4:12
   a. Especially as it pertains to the proclaimed will of God
   b. Even as much as possible in the providential and permissive will of God

2. Epaphras' desire for his brethren serves as a good example; as does that of our Lord...
   a. Who taught us to pray, "Your will be done on earth as it in heaven" - Mt 6:10
   b. Who Himself prayed, "Not as I will, but as You will..." - Mt 26:39-42

Are you seeking to "find a way in the will of God" as it pertains to
the plans in your life...?
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

"THE BOOK OF ACTS" A True Son In The Faith (16:1-5) by Mark Copeland


                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                   A True Son In The Faith (16:1-5)

INTRODUCTION

1. Paul's second missionary began when he and Silas left Antioch of Syria...
   a. Commended by the brethren to the grace of God - Ac 15:40
   b. Passing through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches - Ac 15:41

2. Coming to Derbe and then Lystra, they added a third companion to their party...
   a. A young disciple named Timothy - Ac 16:1-3
   b. Who would assist Paul for decades at personal cost and great risk

[Paul called Timothy "a true son in the faith" (1Ti 1:2).  I like to
think of him as "The Daniel Of The New Testament". What was so remarkable
about him?  Let's first review what we know about...]

I. TIMOTHY - BEFORE HIS SELECTION BY PAUL

   A. PERSONAL INFO...
      1. His name means "honoring God" (he would prove true to his name!)
      2. He was a native of Lystra - Ac 16:1-2
      3. His mother was a Jewish, his father a Greek - Ac 16:1
         a. There is no mention of a synagogue in Lystra
         b. The mixed marriage might suggest a shallow faith earlier in her life
         c. Which might also explain why Timothy had not been circumcised
         d. Though he was taught the Old Testament Scriptures - 2Ti 3:15

   B. DISCIPLESHIP INFO...
      1. His mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) had become believers
         - Ac 16:1; 2Ti 1:5
      2. Timothy was likely converted by Paul on his 1st missionary journey
         a. Paul had preached the gospel in Lystra and left disciples there - Ac 14:6-7,20
         b. Paul considered himself a spiritual "father" of those he taught - e.g., 1Co 4:17
         c. He certainly thought of Timothy as his "son" in the faith - 1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2
      3. Timothy may have been as young as 13 when converted
         a. Paul's first missionary journey was around 47-48 AD
         b. Yet 16 years later (64 AD) he was still a "youth" - 1Ti 4:12
      4. As a new disciple, he may have witnessed Paul's stoning at Lystra - Ac 14:19-20
      5. He was familiar with Paul's persecutions at Antioch, Iconium, Lystra - 2Ti 3:10-11
      6. As a disciple he was well-spoken of by brethren at Lystra and Iconium - Ac 16:2


[It was this very young disciple that Paul wanted to join him and Silas.
Imagine the courage required on Timothy's part to accept, knowing the 
tribulations Paul had already faced!  Imagine the faith required by 
Timothy's mother and grandmother to let him go with Paul! But now let's
review what we know of...]

II. TIMOTHY - AFTER HIS SELECTION BY PAUL

   A. BEFORE LEAVING LYSTRA...
      1. Paul had Timothy circumcised because of the Jews
         a. Jews in the region knew Timothy's father was a Greek - Ac 16:3
         b. Remember Paul's evangelistic method:  Jews first, then Gentiles - Ro 1:16
         c. His custom was to visit synagogues first - Ac 17:1-3
         d. As a Jew (reckoned as such because of his mother), being
            uncircumcised would hinder Timothy's effectiveness among Jews
         e. As a matter of expediency, Paul had no qualms with Jewish
            Christians keeping elements of the Law 
            - cf. 1Co 9:19-23; Ac 18:18,21; 21:17-26
         f. When made an issue of salvation, Paul would refuse circumcision 
            - Ac 15:1-2; Ga 2:1-5
      2. Consider what circumcision required of Timothy
         a. For young and older men, it was a serious and painful procedure - Gen 34:24-25
         b. For Timothy, his first act of service for Paul involved bloodshed!
      3. Timothy may have also been commissioned with spiritual gifts at this time
         a. By the laying on of hands by the elders of the church - 1Ti 4:14
         b. Together with the laying on of Paul's hands - 2Ti 1:6

   B. AFTER LEAVING LYSTRA...
      1. Timothy fulfilled special and often dangerous missions for Paul
         a. Staying behind with Silas in troubled Berea - Ac 17:13-14
         b. Sent to learn of the brethren in afflicted Thessalonica - 1Th 3:1-8
         c. Leaving Ephesus to go to Macedonia with Erastus - Ac 19:22
         d. Sent to Corinth to remind them of Paul's ways in Christ - 1Co 4:17
         e. Sent to persecuted Philippi to learn of their condition - Php 2:19
         f. Left at Ephesus to deal with any who might be trouble - 1Ti 1:3-4,18-19
      2. Timothy truly became Paul's "fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ"
         a. Paul considered no one as like-minded as him - Php 2:19-22
         b. He had Timothy join him as co-authors of 6 epistles 
              - 2Co, Ph, Co, 1Th, 2Th, Phile
         c. Timothy received 2 epistles from Paul - 1Ti, 2Ti
      3. As Paul faced death, he asked Timothy to come (which involved risk) - 2Ti 4:9 
      4. Timothy himself was imprisoned at some point, but later released - He 13:23

CONCLUSION

1. Summarizing what we learned about Timothy, he was...
   a. Blessed by the faithful upbringing of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice
   b. Dedicated as a disciple to serve Jesus and His apostle Paul
   c. Faithful in carrying out tasks assigned to him
   d. Courageous in the face of persecution, risking imprisonment and death
   e. Humble enough to accept a "second string" position, the perfect
      "preacher's helper"

2. Like Daniel, Timothy is a wonderful example for serving God in youth...
   a. "in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" - 1Ti 4:12
   b. "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself" - Dan  1:8

For all Christians, Timothy demonstrates what it means to be "A True
Son In The Faith".  

As sons of God through faith and baptism into Christ (Ga 3:26-27), let
the example of Timothy in the Scriptures inspire us to be more faithful
and fruitful in our service to Christ, no matter the cost...!
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

The Quran vs. the New Testament: Conflicting Ethics by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1585

The Quran vs. the New Testament: Conflicting Ethics

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

EDITORS’ NOTE: The following article is exerpted from Dave Miller’s newly released book The Quran Unveiled.
Anyone who has read both the Quran and the New Testament cannot help but be struck by the glaring disparity that exists between the two in their respective treatments of ethical matters. Two such matters are addressed in this article: polygamy and armed conflict. [NOTE: The translations of passages from the Quran in this article are taken from Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall’s celebrated translation.]

POLYGAMY

Those who have modeled their thinking after New Testament Christianity are, to say the least, a bit surprised, if not shocked and appalled, that Islam countenances polygamy. In fact, this feature of the Quran is a source of embarrassment to Muslim apologists, as evinced by the excuses they offer to soften its glaring presence (e.g., Rahman, 1979, p. 38). But the Christian mind must realize that Muhammad’s Islam arose out of Arabia in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. The Arab culture was well known for the practice of polygamy, in which men were allowed as many wives as they chose. The Quran addressed this social circumstance by placing a limitation on the number of wives a man is permitted. The wording of the pronouncement comes in a surah titled “Women”: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess” (Surah 4:3; cf. 4:24-25,129; 23:6; 30:21; 70:30).
To appreciate the full extent of the Quran’s endorsement of polygamy, as well as to preserve context, the reader is asked to exercise the necessary patience to read two lengthy passages. The first is a transparent sanction of Muhammad’s own polygamous practices:
O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father’s side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father’s side, and the daughters of thine uncles on the mother’s side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother’s side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage—a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers—We are aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and, those whom their right hands possess—that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them and receive unto thee whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou desirest of those whom thou hast set aside (temporarily), it is no sin for thee (to receive her again); that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieve and may all be pleased with what thou givest them. Allah knoweth what is in your hearts (O men) and Allah is Forgiving, Clement. It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee save those whom thy right hand possesseth. And Allah is Watcher over all things. O ye who believe!.... And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the messenger of Allah nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him. Lo! that in Allah’s sight would be an enormity (Surah 33:50-53, emp. added).
These admonitions bear a remarkable resemblance to Mormon Joseph Smith’s own advocacy of plural marriages and the revelation allegedly received from God admonishing his own wife, Emma Smith, to be receptive to his polygamy:
Artist’s conception of Muhammad
Artist’s conception of Muhammad.
Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice. And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. For I am the Lord thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many things; for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from henceforth I will strengthen him. And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against Me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice (Doctrine and Covenants 132:51-56).
One would fully expect uninspired men to manifest the same modus operandi and concern for the same issues—especially as they reflect upon their own human desires (i.e., lusts) and preferences.
The second Quranic passage that acquaints the reader with the extent to which polygamy is not only permitted or tolerated, but also advocated and encouraged, is one titled “Banning.” The Hadith offer three traditions that provide the background details that help to make sense of the surah. The one generally preferred by Muslim commentators speaks of Hafsah finding the Prophet in her room with Mariyah—the Coptic girl given to Muhammad by the ruler of Egypt, who became the mother of his only son, Ibrahim—on a day that, according to his customary rotation among his wives, was assigned to A’ishah. The distress that Hafsah manifested was so disturbing to the Prophet that he vowed with an oath that he would have no more to do with Mariyah, and requested that Hafsah say nothing to A’ishah. But Hafsah, who was not nearly as distressed as she made out, with devilish glee, promptly informed A’ishah, bragging about how easily she had achieved the ejection of Mariyah—an accomplishment that pleased the other wives as well (see Pickthall, n.d., pp. 404-405; Lings, 1983, pp. 276-279). With these background details in mind, the reader is invited to read the surah that was elicited by the situation:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. O Prophet! Why bannest thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee, seeking to please thy wives? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind), and Allah is your Protector. He is the Knower, the Wise. When the Prophet confided a fact unto one of his wives and when she afterward divulged it and Allah apprised him thereof, he made known (to her) part thereof and passed over part. And when he told it her she said: Who hath told thee? He said: The Knower, the Aware hath told me. If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant, (ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban); and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad) then lo! Allah, even He, is his protecting Friend, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers; and furthermore the angels are his helpers. It may happen that his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your stead wives better than you, submissive (to Allah), believing, pious, penitent, inclined to fasting, widows and maids. O ye who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire whereof the fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong, severe, who resist not Allah in that which He commandeth them, but do that which they are commanded. (Then it will be said): O ye who disbelieve! Make no excuses for yourselves this day. Ye are only being paid for what ye used to do. O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands: they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things. O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey’s end. Allah citeth an example for those who disbelieve: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot, who were under two of our righteous slaves yet betrayed them so that they (the husbands) availed them naught against Allah and it was said (unto them): Enter the Fire along with those who enter. And Allah citeth an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said: My Lord! Build for me a home with thee in the Garden, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from evildoing folk; And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and was of the obedient (Surah 66).
Observe that the surah is complete with threats of the fire of hell, as well as the allusion to the wives of Noah and Lot as examples of disobedient wives who went to hell. Can there be any doubt that the Quran approves of and encourages polygamy?
Setting aside the issue of why Muhammad was exempt from the limitation of four wives (Surah 33:50), the divine origin of the Quran is discredited on the basis of its stance on polygamy. In the first place, for all practical purposes the Quran authorizes a man to have as many wives as he chooses, since its teaching on divorce contradicts its teaching on marriage. Unlike the New Testament, which confines permission to divorce on the sole ground of sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9), the Quran authorizes divorce for any reason (e.g., Surah 2:226-232,241; 33:4,49; 58:2-4; 65:1-7). If a man can divorce his wife for any reason, then the limitation that confines a man to four wives is effectively meaningless—merely restricting a man to four legal wives at a time. Theoretically, in his lifetime, a man could have an unlimited number of wives—all with the approval of God!
In the second place, Jesus declared in no uncertain terms: “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, emp. added). Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for divorce in God’s sight. In fact, even the Old Testament affirmed that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). The teaching of the Bible on divorce is a higher, stricter, nobler standard than the one advocated by the Quran. The two books, in fact, contradict each other on this point.
In the third place, why does the Quran stipulate the number “four”? Why not three or five wives? The number four would appear to be an arbitrary number with no significance—at least, none is given. Though the passage in question indicates the criterion of a man’s ability to do justice to those he marries, there is no reason to specify the number four, since men would vary a great deal in the number of women that they would have the ability to manage fairly.
The answer may be seen in the influence of the contemporaneous Jewish population of Arabia. Sixth-century Arabia was a tribal-oriented society that relied heavily on oral communication in social interactions. Muhammad would have been the recipient of considerable information conveyed orally by his Jewish, and even Christian, contemporaries. Many tales, fables, and rabbinical traditions undoubtedly circulated among the Jewish tribes of Arabia. The Jews themselves likely were lacking in much book-learning, having been separated from the mainstream of Jewish thought and intellectual development in their migration to the Arabian peninsula. The evidence demonstrates that the author of the Quran borrowed extensively from Jewish and other sources. The ancient Talmudic record (Arbah Turim, Ev. Hazaer, 1) stated: “A man may marry many wives, for Rabba saith it is lawful to do so, if he can provide for them. Nevertheless, the wise men have given good advice, that a man should not marry more than four wives” (as quoted in Rodwell, 1950, p. 411, emp. added; Tisdall, 1905, pp. 129-130). The similarity with the wording of the Quran is too striking to be coincidental. It can be argued quite convincingly that the magic number of four was drawn from currently circulating Jewish teaching.
In the fourth place, the polygamy countenanced by the Quran on Earth will be extended into the heavenly realm (Surah 13:23; 36:55; 40:8; 43:70). Of course, this viewpoint was explicitly contradicted by Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:30).
Islam and the Quran have a great many features that the Christian mind (i.e., one guided by the New Testament) finds ethically objectionable. Polygamy is simply one among many such ethical “difficulties.” The Bible and the Quran are in significant conflict on this subject.

ARMED CONFLICT, VIOLENCE, WAR, AND BLOODSHED

One would expect an uninspired book to contradict itself or speak ambiguously on various subjects, at times appearing both to endorse and condemn a practice. So it is with physical violence in the Quran. However, despite the occasional puzzling remark that may seem to imply the reverse, the Quran is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. For example, within months of the Hijrah (the flight to Medina), Muhammad claimed to receive a revelation that clarified the issue:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers. The forbidden month for the forbidden month, and forbidden things in retaliation. And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who ward off (evil) (Surah 2:190-194, emp. added).
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not. They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel his people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse that killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can (Surah 2:216-217, emp. added).
Muhammad was informed that warfare was prescribed for him! Though he may have hated warfare, it was actually good for him, and what he loved, i.e., non-warfare, was actually bad for him! And though under normal circumstances, fighting is not appropriate during sacred months, killing was warranted against those who sought to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion. Killing is better than being persecuted! A similar injunction states: “Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed Able to give them victory” (Surah 22:39, emp. added). In fact, “Allah loveth those who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure” (Surah 61:4, emp. added).
In a surah titled “Repentance” that issues stern measures to be taken against idolaters, the requirement to engage in carnal warfare is apparent:
Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty: Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His guidance). And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfill their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him). Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 9:1-5, emp. added).
The ancient Muslim histories elaborate on the occasion of these admonitions: “[T]he idolaters were given four months’ respite to come and go as they pleased in safety, but after that God and His Messenger would be free from any obligation towards them. War was declared upon them, and they were to be slain or taken captive wherever they were found” (Lings, 1983, p. 323).
Later in the same surah, “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low” (Surah 9:29, emp. added). “Those who have been given the Scripture” is a reference to Jews and Christians. The surah advocates coercion against Jews and Christians in order to physically force them to pay the jizyah—a special religious tax imposed on religious minorities (see Nasr, 2002, p. 166). Pickthall explains the historical setting of this Quranic utterance: “It signified the end of idolatry in Arabia. The Christian Byzantine Empire had begun to move against the growing Muslim power, and this surah contains mention of a greater war to come, and instructions with regard to it” (p. 145). Indeed, the final verse of Surah 2 calls upon Allah to give Muslims “victory over the disbelieving folk” (vs. 286), rendered by Rodwell: “give us victory therefore over the infidel nations.” That this stance by the Quran was to be expected is evident from the formulation of the Second Pledge of Aqabah, in which the men pledged their loyalty and their commitment to protecting Muhammad from all opponents. This pledge included duties of war, and was taken only by the males. Consequently, the First Aqabah pact, which contained no mention of war, became known as the “pledge of the women” (Lings, p. 112).
Additional allusions to warfare in the Quran are seen in the surah, “The Spoils,” dated in the second year of the Hijrah (A.D. 623), within a month after the Battle of Badr:
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.... If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them.... And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah’s purpose). Lo! they cannot escape. Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom ye know not.... O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty stedfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred stedfast they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence.... It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise. Had it not been for an ordinance of Allah which had gone before, an awful doom had come upon you on account of what ye took. Now enjoy what ye have won, as lawful and good, and keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Surah 8:39,57,59-60,65,67-69, emp. added; cf. 33:26).
Muslim scholar Pickthall readily concedes the context of these verses:
vv. 67-69 were revealed when the Prophet had decided to spare the lives of the prisoners taken at Badr and hold them to ransom, against the wish of Omar, who would have executed them for their past crimes. The Prophet took the verses as a reproof, and they are generally understood to mean that no quarter ought to have been given in that first battle (p. 144).
So the Quran indicates that at the Battle of Badr, no captives should have been taken. The enemy should have been completely slaughtered, with no quarter given. This very fate awaited the Jewish Bani Qurayzah, when some 700 men were beheaded by the Muslims with Muhammad’s approval (Lings, p. 232). Likewise, members of a clan of the Bani Nadir were executed in Khaybar for concealing their treasure rather than forfeiting it to the Muslims (Lings, p. 267).
Another surah describes how allowances respecting the daily prayers were to be made for Muhammad’s Muslim warriors when engaged in military action:
And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you. And when thou (O Muhammad) art among them and arrangest (their) worship for them, let only a party of them stand with thee (to worship) and let them take their arms. Then when they have performed their prostrations let them fall to the rear and let another party come that hath not worshipped and let them worship with thee, and let them take their precaution and their arms. Those who disbelieve long for you to neglect your arms and your baggage that they may attack you once for all. It is no sin for you to lay aside your arms, if rain impedeth you or ye are sick. But take your precaution. Lo! Allah prepareth for the disbelievers shameful punishment. When ye have performed the act of worship, remember Allah, standing, sitting and reclining. And when ye are in safety, observe proper worship. Worship at fixed hours hath been enjoined on the believers. Relent not in pursuit of the enemy (Surah 4:101-104, emp. added; cf. 73:20).
These verses show that the Quran implicitly endorses armed conflict and war to advance Islam.
Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns (cf. Lings, pp. 86,111). Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight” (n.d., p. xxvi).
What a contrast with Jesus—Who never once took up the sword or encouraged anyone else to do so! The one time that one of His close followers took it upon himself to do so, the disciple was soundly reprimanded and ordered to put the sword away, with the added warning: “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Indeed, when Pilate quizzed Jesus regarding His intentions, He responded: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36, emp. added)—the very opposite of the Aqabah pact. And whereas the Quran boldly declares, “And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you” (Surah 2:194; cf. 22:60), Jesus counters, “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:39,44). The New Testament record presents a far higher, more noble and godly ethic on the matter of violence and armed conflict. In fact, the following verses demonstrate how irrevocably deep the chasm is between the Quran and the New Testament on this point:
[L]ove your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? (Matthew 5:44-46).
But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:27-36, emp. added).
What an amazing contrast! The New Testament says to love, bless, do good to, and pray for those who persecute you. The Quran says “persecution is worse than killing” (Surah 2:217)—i.e., it is better to kill your persecutors than to endure their persecutions!
The standard Muslim attempt to justify the Quran’s endorsement of violence is that such violence was undertaken in self-defense (e.g., Surah 42:41). Consider the following Muslim explanation:
At the time when this surah (Surah 2—DM) was revealed at Al-Madinah, the Prophet’s own tribe, the pagan Qureysh at Mecca, were preparing to attack the Muslims in their place of refuge. Cruel persecution was the lot of Muslims who had stayed in Meccan territory or who journeyed thither, and Muslims were being prevented from performing the pilgrimage. The possible necessity of fighting had been foreseen in the terms of the oath, taken at Al-Aqabah by the Muslims of Yathrib before the Flight, to defend the Prophet as they would their own wives and children, and the first commandment to fight was revealed to the Prophet before his flight from Mecca; but there was no actual fighting by the Muslims until the battle of Badr. Many of them were reluctant, having before been subject to a rule of strict non-violence. It was with difficulty that they could accept the idea of fighting even in self-defence [sic].... (Pickthall, p. 33, emp. added).
Apart from the fact that the claim that Muhammad’s advocacy of fighting was justifiable on the ground of self-defense is contrary to the historical facts (since the wars waged by Muhammad and the territorial expansion of Islam achieved by his subsequent followers cannot all be dismissed as defensive), this explanation fails to come to grips with the propriety of shedding of blood and inflicting violence—regardless of the reason. Muslim scholar Seyyed Nasr seems unconscious of the inherent self-contradiction apparent in his own remark:
The spread of Islam occurred in waves. In less than a century after the establishment of the first Islamic society in Medina by the Prophet, Arab armies had conquered a land stretching from the Indus River to France and brought with them Islam, which, contrary to popular Western conceptions, was not, however, forced on the people by the sword (2003, p. 17, emp. added).
In other words, Muslim armies physically conquered—by military force and bloodshed—various nations, forcing the population to submit to Muslim rule, but did not require them to become Muslims! One suspects that, at the time, the technical distinction escaped the citizens of those conquered countries, even as it surely does the reader.
The Quran appears to have been somewhat influenced by the law of Moses in this regard. For example, the Quran states: “If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted” (Surah 16:126). Similarly, “O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.... And there is life for you in retaliation, O men of understanding, that ye may ward off (evil)” (Surah 2:178-179). One is reminded of the lex talionis [literally “law as (or of) retaliation”] of the law of Moses. However, whereas the Quran appears to enjoin retaliation, the lex talionis were not intended to promote retaliation. Enjoining retaliation would be in direct conflict with the nature of God. God is never vindictive. The New Testament law does not differ with the Old Testament in the areas of proper values, ethics, mercy, and justice. The “eye for an eye” injunctions of the Old Testament were designed to be prohibitive in their thrust, i.e., they humanely limited and restricted legal punishment to a degree in keeping with the crime. That is, they prevented dispensers of justice from punishing too harshly or too much. They were intended to inculcate into Israelite society the principle of confining retribution to appropriate parameters.
The fact that the author of the Quran failed to grasp this feature of God’s laws is evident in various Quranic injunctions: “As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise” (Surah 5:38, emp. added).
The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.... And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony—They indeed are evildoers (Surah 24:2,4, emp. added).
These latter verses conflict with Mosaic injunction on two significant points. First, on the one hand, it doubles the more reasonable and appropriate forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:3)—a number that the Jews were so concerned not to exceed that they counted thirty-nine and stopped to allow for accidental miscount (2 Corinthians 11:24). On the other hand, this eighty increases to one hundred for adultery. Second, the requirement of four witnesses is an unreasonable number. The two or three witnesses of the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19) strikes a logical medium between the precariousness of only a single witness on the one hand, and the excessive and unlikely availability of the four witnesses required by the Quran.
It is true that the God of the Bible enjoined violent, armed conflict for the Israelites in the Old Testament. He did so in order to eliminate the morally corrupt Canaanite civilizations that lived in Palestine prior to the Israelite occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 9:4; 18:9-12; Leviticus 18:24-25,27-28). There simply was no viable solution to their condition except extermination. Their moral depravity was “full” (Genesis 15:16). They had slumped to such an immoral, depraved state, with no hope of recovery, that their existence on this Earth had to be ended—just like in Noah’s day when God waited while Noah preached for years but was unable to turn the world’s population from its wickedness (Genesis 6:3,5-7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:5-9).
Additionally, since the nation of Israel was also a civil entity in its own right, the government was also charged with implementing civil retribution upon lawbreakers. However, with the arrival of New Testament Christianity—an international religion intended for all persons without regard to ethnicity or nationality—God has assigned to civil government (not the church or the individual) the responsibility of regulating secular behavior. God’s people who live posterior to the cross of Christ (i.e., Christians) are not charged by God with the responsibility of inflicting physical punishment on the evildoer. Rather, civil government is charged with the responsibility of maintaining order and punishing lawbreakers (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14). Observe Paul’s explanation of this dichotomy:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor (Romans 13:1-7, emp. added).
One translation (NIV) renders the boldface type in the above quote “an agent of wrath to bring punishment.” But this assignment of judicial and penal retribution to the government is a contrast in Paul’s discussion with what he wrote in the three verses prior to this quotation:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21, emp. added).
Notice that the very responsibility that is enjoined on the government, i.e., “an avenger to execute wrath” by use of the sword in 13:4, is strictly forbidden to the individual Christian in 12:19, i.e., “do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath.” To “give place to wrath” means to allow God’s wrath to show itself in His own appointed way that, according to the next few verses, is by means of the civil government.
True Christianity (i.e., that which is based strictly on the New Testament) dictates peace and non-retaliatory promotion of itself. The “absolute imperative” (Rahman, 1979, p. 22) of Islam is the submission/conversion of the whole world. In stark contrast, the absolute imperative of New Testament Christianity is the evangelism of the whole world, i.e., the dissemination of the message of salvation—whether people embrace it or not (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47). Absolutely no coercion is admissible from the Christian (i.e., New Testament) viewpoint. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and all other violent activities undertaken in the name of Christ and Christianity have been in complete conflict with the teaching of the New Testament. The perpetrators acted without the authority and sanction of Christ.
Islam seeks to bring the entire world into submission to Allah and the Quran—even using jihad, coercion, and force; Christianity seeks to go into all the world and to announce the “good news” that God loves every individual, that Jesus Christ died for the sins of everyone, and that He offers salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation. But, each person has free choice to accept or reject without any retaliation by Christians against those who choose to reject. Jesus taught His disciples, when faced with opposition and resistance, simply to walk away: “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:14). In fact, on one occasion when a Samaritan village was particularly non-receptive, some of Jesus’ disciples wished to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them! But Jesus rebuked them and said, “‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village” (Luke 9:55). Muhammad and the Quran stand in diametrical opposition to Jesus and the New Testament.
If the majority of Muslims were violent, that would not prove that Islam is a religion of violence. The vast majority of those who claim to be “Christian” are practicing a corrupted form of the Christian Faith. So the validity of any religion is determined ultimately not by the imperfect, inaccurate practice of the religion by even a majority of its adherents, but by the official authority or standard upon which it is based, i.e., its Scriptures. The present discussion in the world regarding whether or not jihad includes physical force in the advancement of Islam is ultimately irrelevant (cf. Nasr, 2002, pp. 256-266). The Quran unquestionably endorses violence, war, and armed conflict. No wonder a substantial number of Muslims manifest a maniacal, reckless abandon in their willingness to die by sacrificing their lives in order to kill as many “infidels” (especially Israelis and Americans) as possible. They have read the following:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks.... And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain. He will guide them and improve their state, and bring them in unto the Garden [Paradise—DM] which He hath made known to them (Surah 47:4-6, emp. added).
O ye who believe! Be not as those who disbelieved and said of their brethren who went abroad in the land or were fighting in the field: If they had been (here) with us they would not have died or been killed.... And what though ye be slain in Allah’s way or die therein? Surely pardon from Allah and mercy are better than all that they amass. What though ye be slain or die, when unto Allah ye are gathered?.... So those who...fought and were slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow—a reward from Allah (Surah 3:156-158,195, emp. added).
Even if the vast majority of Muslims in the world reject violence and refrain from terrorist activity (which would appear to be the case), it is still a fact that the Quran (as well as the example of Muhammad himself) endorses the advancement of Islam through physical force. While Muslim apologist Seyyed Hossein Nasr insists that “the traditional norms based on peace and openness to others” characterize true Islam and the majority of Muslims, in contradistinction, he freely admits that at times Islam “has been forced to take recourse to physical action in the form of defense” (Nasr, 2002, pp. 112,110). This concession cannot be successfully denied in view of the Quran’s own declarations. Hence, the Muslim is forced to maintain the self-contradictory position that, yes, there have been times that Islam has been properly violent and, yes, the Quran does endorse violence, but, no, most Muslims are not violent, and then only in self-defense. As reprehensible and cowardly as Islamic terrorists have shown themselves to be in recent years, an honest reading of the Quran leads one to believe that they, at least, are more consistent with, and true to, their own Scriptures.

CONCLUSION

While the Quran contains some commendable ethical regulations, it simply does not come up to the moral heights of the Bible. It approves various moral and social evils like polygamy, bloodshed, and illicit slavery (e.g., Surah 4:3,25,36,92; 5:89; 16:71; 23:6; 24:32-33,58; 30:28; 33:50-55; 58:3; 70:30; 90:13; cf. Philemon 16). It assigns to women an inferior status—even allowing beatings from husbands:
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great (Surah 4:34; cf. 4:11; 2:223,228,282; 38:45; 16:58-59; see also Brooks, 1995; Trifkovic, 2002, pp. 153-167).
The conflicting ethics advocated in the Quran are proof of the Quran’s human origin.

REFERENCES

Brooks, Geraldine (1995), Nine Parts of Desire (New York, NY: Anchor Books).
Doctrine and Covenants (1981 reprint), (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2002), The Heart of Islam (New York: HarperCollins).
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2003), Islam (New York: HarperCollins).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rahman, Fazlur (1979), Islam (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition.
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Tisdall, W. St. Clair (1905), The Original Sources of the Quran (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).
Trifkovic, Serge (2002), The Sword of the Prophet (Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press).

Why Did God Postpone the Writing of the New Testament? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=4198

Why Did God Postpone the Writing of the New Testament?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Q.

Why did God wait approximately 20 years after the church was established to begin writing the New Testament? Why such a long span of time?

A.

Normally when we discuss the penning of the New Testament, we do so in view of the fact that God inspired men to write about Jesus and His will for the church within only about 20-65 years of the Savior’s death and resurrection. Perhaps even more impressive is the abundant amount of evidence for the New Testament’s first-century origin. Due to the volume of ancient manuscripts, versions, and citations of the New Testament documents, even many liberal scholars have conceded that the New Testament must have been completed by the end of the first century. Whereas the extant copies of Plato, Thucydides, Herodotus, Tacitus, and many others are separated from the time these men wrote by 1,000 years, manuscript evidence for the New Testament reaches as far back as the early second century, which has led most scholars to rightly conclude that the New Testament is, indeed, a first-century production (cf. Lyons, 2007; Bruce, 1953, p. 16; Geisler and Nix, 1986, pp. 408,475; Comfort and Barrett, 2001). As Irwin H. Linton stated regarding the gospel accounts: “A fact known to all who have given any study at all to this subject is that these books were quoted, listed, catalogued, harmonized, cited as authority by different writers, Christian and Pagan, right back to the time of the apostles” (1943, p. 39).
Still, some wonder why God chose to wait approximately 20 years to begin writing the New Testament. Why didn’t the first-century apostles and prophets begin penning the New Testament as soon as the church was established?
The simple, straightforward answer is that we cannot say with certainty why God waited two decades to begin penning the New Testament. [NOTE: Conservative scholars generally agree that the earliest written New Testament documents, including Galatians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, were likely written between A.D. 48-52.] We could ask any number of questions regarding why God did or did not do something: Why did God wait some 2,500 years after Creation and some 1,000 years after the Flood to write a perfect, inspired account of these events? Why did God only spend 11 chapters in the Bible telling us about the first approximately 2,000 years of human history and 1,178 chapters telling us about the next 2,000? Why did God discontinue special, written revelation for over 400 years (between Malachi and the New Testament)? There are many questions, even specific ones about the makeup of God’s written revelation, that remain unanswered, yet God simply has not revealed this information to us.
Having made that disclaimer, we can suggest a few logical reasons why God waited to inspire first-century apostles and prophets to pen the New Testament. First, the early church had the treasure of the Gospel “in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7), meaning the apostles were miraculously guided by the Spirit in what they taught (Galatians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). The Spirit of God guided them “into all Truth” (John 16:13). Also, those on whom the apostles chose to lay their hands in the early churches received the miraculous, spiritual gifts of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, etc. (Acts 8:14-17; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Even though the church lacked the inspired writings of Paul, Peter, and John for a few years, God did not leave His new Christians without direction and guidance. In a sense, they had walking, living New Testaments. When the miraculous age ended (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; see Miller, 2003), however, the church would need some type of continual guidance. Thus, during the miraculous age, God inspired the apostles and prophets to put in permanent form His perfect and complete revelation to guide the church until Jesus’ return (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Second, it was necessary for God to delay the writing of the New Testament, instead of penning it immediately following the church’s establishment, because the books and letters that make up the New Testament were originally written for specific audiences and for specific purposes (though they are applicable to all Christians). For example, the epistles that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth could not have been written until there was a church at Corinth. If the church at Corinth was not established until the apostle Paul’s second missionary journey (ca. A.D. 49-52), then Paul obviously wrote to the Christians in Corinth after this time. Furthermore, since in 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with specific problems that had arisen in the church at Corinth (e.g, division, immorality, etc.), he could not have explicitly addressed these matters in detail until after they had come to pass. Thus, there was a need for time to pass before the New Testament documents were penned.
Although some may be bothered by the fact that God waited approximately 20 years to begin penning the New Testament through His inspired writers, we can rest assured that He had good reasons for this relatively brief postponement. Admittedly, God did not explicitly indicate why He delayed putting His last will and testament in written form. Yet logical reasons exist—most notably, the fact that the documents that make up the New Testament were written to specific peoples and for specific purposes.

REFERENCES

Bruce, F.F. (1953), The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), fourth edition.
Comfort, Philip W. and David P. Barrett (2001), The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Linton, Irwin H. (1943), A Lawyer Examines the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), sixth edition.
Lyons, Eric (2007), “Inspired Writers and Competent Copyists,” Reason & Revelation, 27[3]:17-23, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=587#.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1399.

The Skeptic’s Faulty Assumption by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1173

The Skeptic’s Faulty Assumption

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

One of the skeptic’s favorite tactics in an attempt to discredit the God of the Bible is to insist that God is a cruel, heartless, vengeful God Who capriciously sends floods or armies through the land destroying innocent men, women, and children. Skeptics especially like to focus on the children. How could a loving God send Saul and his army to destroy all the Amalekites, including the “infant and nursing child?” Steve Wells claims that “God just wanted to see some more innocent people killed” (2001). Or, how could a loving God send a flood to destroy all the people of the Earth, including the innocent babies? The argument goes something like this: (1) the God of the Bible is supposed to be good and loving; (2) the God of the Bible kills innocent children; (3) therefore the God of the Bible cannot be good and loving.
At first glance, this logic seems to make sense. When examined more closely, however, there lies within this syllogism a faulty assumption. The faulty assumption built into this line of reasoning is that death is always, in every circumstance, an evil thing. With the assumption built in, the second premise should read like this: The God of the Bible kills innocent children, and death of anyone innocent is always a bad thing. The assumption that death, especially the death of innocent children, is always bad, stems from the skeptic’s adherence to pure naturalism. If this physical life and material world are all that exist, then to take an innocent person out of this physical world is inherently evil, according to the skeptic.
Yet, the same Bible that tells about a God Who takes the physical lives of innocent children also informs the reader that this physical world is not all there is to existence. In fact, the Bible explains that every person has a soul that will live forever, long after physical life on this Earth is over (Matthew 25:46; see also Thompson, 2001). The Bible consistently stresses the fact that the immortal soul of each individual is of much more value than that individual’s physical life on this Earth. Jesus Christ said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Although the skeptic might object, and claim that an answer from the Bible is not acceptable, such an objection falls flat for one primary reason—the skeptic used the Bible to formulate his argument. Where is it written that God is love? The answer: in the Bible in such passages as 1 John 4:8. Where do we learn that the Lord did, indeed, kill or order the deaths of babies? Once again, that information comes directly from the Bible. Where, then, should we look for an answer to this alleged discrepancy? The answer should be the Bible. If the alleged problem is formulated from biblical testimony, then the Bible should be given the opportunity to explain itself. As long as the skeptic uses the Bible to formulate the problem, we certainly can use the Bible to solve the problem. The biblical solution to the alleged problem in this instance is that every person has an immortal soul that is of inestimable value.
With the value of the soul in mind, let us examine several verses that prove that physical death is not necessarily evil. In a letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul was writing from prison to encourage the Christians. His letter was filled with hope and encouragement, but it also was tinted with some very pertinent comments about the way that Paul (and God) view death. In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul wrote:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (emp. added).
According to the skeptic, the death of an innocent person is always, in every case, an evil thing. In these verses, however, Paul lays that faulty assumption to rest. Paul, a faithful Christian, said that death was a welcome visitor. In fact, Paul said that the end of his physical life on this Earth would be “far better” than its continuation. For Paul, as well as for any faithful Christian, the cessation of physical life is not loss, but gain. Such would apply to innocent children as well, since they are in a safe condition and go to paradise when they die (see Butt, 2003).
Other verses in the Bible show that the loss of physical life is not inherently evil. The prophet Isaiah concisely summarized the situation when he was inspired to write:
The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness (57:1-2, emp. added).
Isaiah recognized that people would view the death of the righteous incorrectly. He plainly stated that this incorrect view of death was due to the fact that most people do not think about the fact that when a righteous or innocent person dies, that person is “taken away from evil,” and enters “into peace.”
The psalmist wrote: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Death is not inherently evil. In fact, the Bible indicates that death can be great gain in which a righteous person is taken away from evil and allowed to enter peace and rest. God looks upon the death of His faithful followers as something precious. Skeptics who charge God with wickedness because He has ended the physical lives of innocent babies are in error. They refuse to recognize the reality of the immortal soul. Instead of the death of innocent children being an evil thing, it is often a blessing for that child to be taken away from a life of hardship at the hands of a sinful society, and ushered into a paradise of peace and rest. In order for a skeptic to legitimately charge God with cruelty, the skeptic must prove that there is no immortal soul, and that physical life is the only reality—neither of which the skeptic can do. Failure to acknowledge the reality of the soul and the spiritual realm always will result in a distorted view of the nature of God. “The righteous perishes…while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.”

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2255.
Thompson, Bert (2001), The Origin, Nature, and Destiny of the Soul (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.

Martin Luther Speaks on “Faith Only” and Baptism by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=958

Martin Luther Speaks on “Faith Only” and Baptism

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

One popular belief in many protestant denominations is the idea that God supplies salvation to each and every person based solely on the faith of that person, apart from any action taken by that individual. This idea, often called sola fide, says, that a person is saved by faith alone. Any number of quotations demonstrating this doctrine can be cited. In a debate with Thomas Warren in 1953, L.S. Ballard affirmed the position that “the alien sinner is saved the very moment he/she believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God” (Warren and Ballard, 1953). This particular belief is commonly worded like this: “People are saved through Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.”
According to the modern-day advocates of “faith alone” salvation, water baptism cannot be a requisite to salvation, because it is something “more than” faith. While space limitations prevent a thorough investigation of the biblical doctrine of baptism (see Lyons, 2003), it is interesting to note how far the “faith alone” doctrine has drifted from its original form.
The idea of being saved by faith alone is often attributed to Martin Luther. Indeed, he and the other reformers challenged the Catholic Church that sold indulgences and offered a “works-based” type of salvation. Martin Luther often taught that salvation was based on faith alone, and not received based upon a person’s meritorious works. Martin Luther did not, however, take faith alone to mean that mere mental assent to Christ’s deity was sufficient to obtain salvation. In fact, Luther’s idea of faith alone does not conform to the modern-day idea that baptism cannot be required for salvation.
While it is understood that the opinions of men are in no way authoritative when it comes to God’s plan for salvation, it is nonetheless interesting to note that Martin Luther believed wholeheartedly in the necessity of baptism as a requisite for salvation. In his Large Catechism, Luther wrote:
[I] affirm that Baptism is no human trifle, but that it was established by God Himself. Moreover, He earnestly and solemnly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. No one is to think that it is an optional matter like putting on a red coat. It is of greatest importance that we hold Baptism in high esteem as something splendid and glorious. The reason why we are striving and battling so strenuously for this view of Baptism is that the world nowadays is full of sects that loudly proclaim that Baptism is merely an external form and that external forms are useless.... Although Baptism is indeed performed by human hands, yet it is truly God’s own action (1978, pp. 98-99).
From Luther’s comments about baptism, it is obvious that he viewed water baptism as essential for salvation. Many of the protestant denominations that attribute their ideas about “faith only” to Martin Luther have not been taught that Luther’s concept of faith alone was not in opposition to works of God (like baptism and repentance), but in opposition to meritorious works by which a person believes that he or she “earns” salvation.
What, then, would Martin Luther say to those today who teach that “faith alone” excludes baptism? Listen to his words pertaining to this teaching:
But our know-it-alls, the new spirit people, claim that faith alone saves and that human works and outward forms contribute nothing to this. We answer: It is of course true that nothing in us does it except faith, as we shall hear later. But these blind leaders of the blind refuse to see that faith must have something in which it believes, that is, something it clings to, something on which to plant its feet and into which to sink its roots. Thus faith clings to the water and believes Baptism to be something in which there is pure salvation and life, not through the water, as I have emphasized often enough, but because God’s name is joined to it.... If follows from this that whoever rejects Baptism rejects God’s word, faith, and the Christ who directs us to Baptism and binds us to it (1978, pp. 101-102).
Martin Luther was a man. He made many mistakes and believed things about the Bible that were not true. It should be noted, however, that the “faith only” doctrine attributed so often to him has been misrepresented on a grand scale. Martin Luther’s words are unambiguous and clear. His “faith only” doctrine did not exclude baptism as necessary for salvation. Could it be the case that those who loudly tout the “faith only” mantra have not thoroughly investigated the works of the man to whom the doctrine is so often attributed?
The Bible does teach that those who are being saved are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It does not, however, teach that a person is saved “by faith alone” without any further acts of obedience. Even Martin Luther recognized that water baptism is not a meritorious work that earns a person salvation. On the other hand, it is an obedient act required by God in order for people to obtain salvation.
REFERENCES
Luther, Martin (1978), Luther’s Large Catechism, (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia).
Lyons, Eric (2003), “The Bible’s Teaching on Baptism: Contradictory or Complimentary,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/617.
Warren, Thomas B. and L.S. Ballard (1953), The Warren-Ballard Debate, (Moore, OK: National Christian Press).