I’ve recently had a couple of encounters with Muslims who insist that my charictarization of Islam as a religion founded on bloodshed and violence is not fair and accurate. In a recent email from a Muslim apologist I was told: “You are absolutely free to think what you want about islam and the prophet Muhammed but I think you are missing a big part of the real history of Muhammed and islam which never used sword and violence except against those who fought him first or those who prevented him from conveying his meesage to people.”
My response to this is as follows (minus the formalities) and I invite anyone out there who still believes I’ve mis-characterized the teachings and history of Mohammad to respond to me.
Dear [Muslim friend],
Thanks for taking the time to write me and address this issue of Mohammad’s moral purity with me.
The fact is that I have studied Mohammad, his life, and his teachings very closely so that my comments which you read, were not made out of ignorance but rather in full view of the facts. Particularly the historical facts
which clearly show that Islam since it’s inception violence and war have been actively promoted by it’s founder (Mohammad) and gleefully embraced by the majority of his followers.
This stands in stark contrast with the other prophets Mohammad is supposed to have come from who unanimously preached that the people should trust God and uphold the standard of righteousness found in the Torah which often involved repentance (by both prophets as well as the people) for not having followed the law as they ought.
Mohammad, and his followers’ actions actually run in direct contrast to these teachings. The best evidence of this is seen by “Muhammed and islam which never used sword and violence except against those who fought him first or those who prevented him from conveying his meesage to people”. How is it that the majority of the early followers of Jesus, indeed Jesus himself in accordance with Isiah 53:7, NEVER fought back and instead willingly laid down their lives because of the message they preached trusting that God would be powerful enough to raise up other messengers to preach the message of peace, love, and forgiveness without violating the message by their own actions?
The bottom line is that while both Islam and Christianity both claim (at least on the surface) to be religions of peace, only one has a leader and founder who lived by that message without contradictions or bloodshed.
The truth is that Islam does not preach a message of peace and forgiveness in the same vein as the rest of the prophets in the Tanakh and Gospels, but a message of peace “as long as you…” punctuated by bloodshed and the sword if those conditions aren’t met. In that respect Mohammad and his followers who do take jihad to mean a literal struggle against the infidel which they are to kill wherever they meet are consistently living according to their message which is “submit to me, or else.”
I know you would like to believe that Mohammad’s preaching and actions were peaceful and noble but history, indeed your own words, show that they are anything but. This is why I implore you to consider Jesus’s words that “those who live by the sword will die by the sword” and, instead, take a long hard look at the hope both of them offer after this life and whether you can trust that hope.
Recently my mother showed me a lesson her Sunday school class is about to go through Sunday on 1 Samuel 13, specifically on Saul’s illegal offering of a sacrafice to God without waiting on Samuel, God’s prophet, to get there.
This lesson, published by Lifeway, was full of what the reader should and shouldn’t do. Complete with a psudo-ethics question framing the lesson but the appaling part is how the lesson completely missed the central teaching of the text that Saul simply didn’t trust God or his prophet and, instead, decided to take matters into his own hands and in doing so shows why he was not chosen to carry the seed of the Messiah.
Lessons like these are all too common in churches today and it saddens me to see so many people feeding off what amounts to theological popcorn rather than searching for pure spiritual milk (for the babes) in full view of those eating meat (for the more mature).
I believe this is because we have very few people who are concerned with actual growth in Christ which is charactarized by careful study. I believe most people in the modern Church in America are more concerned with simply maintaining the status quo, filling seats in pews with warm (tithing) bodies, rather than digging into the text and gnawing on the marrow of theology.
In short, I believe we, the Church in America, simply don’t think that learning is important and would rather focus on quaint moral sermons that call us to merely do something (get busy for Jesus) rather than teach us about God for the sake of teaching us about God (what a novel concept).
I’d be willing to bet that the Sunday school lesson my mother is about to suffer through tomorrow is all too common across most Churches and happens far more often than we would care to know. I’d like to be wrong, but the dirth of Biblical knowledge and understanding seems to indicate that I’m not.
It never ceases to amaze me how many otherwise well-intentioned Christians are activly supporting Barack Obama and, at the same time, claiming that he is a Christian.
Donnald Miller recently wrote an article in which he addresses the two hardest issues for an Obama supporter to come to grips with and still claim to be a Christian, abortion and gay marriage.
Both concepts are clearly condemned in Scripture and both come with a host of demonic imagry surrounding them so that we will have no questions about the deplorableness of either action. In fact, to my knowledge no one has seriously tried to defend either of these issues on theological grounds, actually both canidates have openly declaired that they find both of these issues to be “unfortunate” and are for reducing abortion on one hand and merely upholding civil unions on the other as opposed to redefining the Biblical and historical definition (in fact, the defining charistic of what marriage is).
This lack of a theological debate on the inherent moral vacuiousness of these issues should speak volumes to anyone who is more comitted to Christ and the Way he came to teach us (which, by the way, is far more than mere social humanatraianism) than a socialist liberal (read: all about the individual) agenda.
This is far more than a partisan, democrats will vote for democrats and republicans for republicans. This is about truth, this is about right and wrong. I submit that the person who votes for and activly supports Obama’s bid for presidency while claiming to be a comitted and consistant follower of Jesus is either not being honest about their comittment to Him or they are ignorant of the wealth of Jewish history and Scripture that points squarely against the self-centered, anti-life, religiously pluralistic message that Obama’s campaign is built on.