“Why I Support the Return of the Palestinians” – Israel Shamir

Why I Support the Return of the Palestinians

Palestine is not a dead object, it is a living country. Palestinians are her soul. Palestine is what Palestinians are re-creating in real time, in the same way that France is what the French create and re-create every day. It is a vast confusion of mind, to presume one can love France and abhor French, as what kind of France would exist without the French soul. Only silly tourists from rich countries, pestered by beggars, prefer to stay in reclusive posh hotels where they can enjoy the country without encountering the natives. It is like loving a beautiful lady but hating her character and her very essence. To love a country and wish away her inhabitants is the kind of romance that can only appeal to those who have a passion for necrophilia.

The late Russian thinker Lev Gumilev described a country as a symbiosis of people and landscape. Palestine and Palestinians are inseparable, the peasants and their olives and springs of water and the mountains and the domes of the ancestral sepulchres on the hill-tops need each other and have grown to complement each other.

The Palestinians are not an obscure mean folk. They created the Star of Ghassul, wrote the Bible, built the temples of Jerusalem and Garizim, the palaces of Jericho and Samaria, the churches of the Holy Sepulchre and Nativity, the mosques of Haram a-Sharif, the harbours of Caesarea and Akka, the castles of Monfort and Belvoir. They walked with Jesus, defeated Napoleon and bravely fought at Karameh. In their veins, the blood of Aegean warriors, Bene Israel, David’s heroes, the first Apostles of Christ and Companions of the Prophet, of Arab riders, Norman Crusaders and Turkmen chieftains blended in the unique composition. Its spark did not run out: the poetry of Mahmud Darwish, the wisdom of Edward Said, the perfect olive oil, the fervour of prayers and the valiant courage of intifada prove it.

Without the Palestinians, Palestine dies. Her rivers run poisoned water, the sources dry out, the hills and valleys are disfigured, her fields are worked by imported Chinese, while her sons are imprisoned in ghetto. The idea of a separate Jewish state collapsed. During last ten years, the mad policies of Israeli government imported over a million of Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, Thai and African laborers. Some of them claim Jewish descent: Peruvian tribes, Indians from Assam and the endless refugees from the Soviet Union moved in. Now the Jewish Agency plans to import a Lembda tribe from the South Africa, in order to ensure the Jewish character of the state. Paradoxically, those who still bear some part of the Jewish traditions are isolated in the Jewish state, as late Dr Yeshayahu Leibovich or imprisoned as the Moroccan Jewish Rabbi Arie Der’i.

The fantasy of the Jewish ingathering has collided with the reality. We must end the delusion. Let the sons and daughters of Palestine come back and rebuild Suba and Kakun, Jaffa and Akka. Instead of consecrating the Green Line, let us erase it and live together, the children of Palestine, of first settlers, of Moroccans and Russians.

We should live in one state, not only because of the blatant failure of Oslo. The very idea of partition is wrong. We can follow the example of New Zealand, where the European incomers live together with the native Maori, the example of Mandela’s South Africa, the example of Caribbean, where children of Spanish settlers, African slaves and native Amerindians blended into the beautiful new race. Let us tear up our Declarations of false Independence and write a new one, of mutual dependence and love.

  – Israel Shamir; Israeli journalist and author

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Islam according to Robert Spencer (fact or fiction?)

                                                    Solving the Mid East Crisis

ISLAM ACCORDING TO ROBERT SPENCER

(fact of fiction)

Likely the sharpest critics of Islam today are author Robert Spencer and lecturer Frank Gaffney. Both men would be quick to label Muhammad as an evil man who thus founded an evil religion and all Muslims as either evil themselves or too stupid to recognize that their religion is evil.

Now I should inform the reader from the start that, as an Evangelical Christian, I myself do not regard the works of Muhammad as having been divinely inspired. Also I, like most Americans, am aghast at the 9/11 attacks and other attacks by radical Muslims upon innocent people. However this does not mean that I would go to the extent of Spencer and Gaffney and place a blanket condemnation upon the entire Muslim community.

Both Spencer and Gaffney come armed with various verses from the Quran which they have memorized (specifically Surah’s 2:193 & 216, 5:33 & 51, 8:39 & 65 and 9:5 & 29); each calling for violent attacks upon infidels. They thus presume that it is the duty of every faithful Muslim to kill Christians and Jews.

Now from the start both men are met with the obvious contradiction: why would Muhammad in one breath acknowledge Christians and Jews as the most noble of all people (as in 2:62, 5:69 & 82 and 61:14) and then call for all out attacks upon them? Whereas Spencer and Gaffney would not hesitate to label Muhammad as evil, neither would label him as schizophrenic. So what is the answer here?

Well Gaffney has proposed a rather interesting way of explaining the contradiction. Supposedly the positive verses came first during a period in which Muhammad was hopeful that the Christian and Jewish communities would proclaim him as their Messiah. When he was rejected, Gaffney surmises that Muhammad turned on them and called for their annihilation. Gaffney’s source for this claim is a text known as the Gospel of Barnabas; a rather lengthy text supposedly written by the companion of the Apostle Paul which has Jesus proclaiming that the true Messiah will be one known as Muhammad.

The problems with such an interpretation are (1) a number of the more violent texts actually precede the positive ones and (2) the text of the Gospel of Barnabas has been demonstrated to have originated no earlier than the 13th century; 800 years or more after the time of Muhammad. Indeed no reliable historian would ever say that Muhammad made any such claim for himself. He was rather emphatic in applying the term `Messiah’ exclusively to Jesus.

So what then is the explanation for the apparent contradiction between the positive and violent verses? The text of the Quran itself seems to answer the question: Surah 5 verses 73, 75 and 116 seem to be directing the violent verses exclusively to polytheistic cults; an aspect which would exclude both the Christians and Jews. Even more specifically these verses point to a group which had elected to deify the virgin Mary as a goddess. And further the group had elected to exalt Mary above her husband god and their offspring “Jesus” who amounted to a baby god; thus giving a total of three gods.

Now this is certainly not the God of Judaism Whom Moses classified as “One” and please note that it is not the Christian concept of God either. No matter how much the reader may object to the Christian concept of Trinity, it can never be said that Christians worship three gods nor can it be said that the term “Son of God” which we apply to Jesus would ever be mistaken to imply an offspring god who came about because of sexual intercourse. Rather the term “son” simply implies an inheritor as in Colossians 2:9.

So just what group in fact does the Quran intend when it calls for violent attacks? Certainly not Christians or Jews (though admittedly this is the interpretation which not only Spencer and Gaffney but also radical Jihadists apply to them) but rather to the ancient Collyridians. The latter group did in fact acknowledge the existence of three gods with Mary as the head. And they most certainly regarded Jesus to be an offspring god; the result of sexual intercourse between father god and mother goddess.

But here again appears what might be considered a contradiction. For you see the Quran promotes the acceptance for all peaceful religions even when they promote a concept of god or gods which is contrary to that of Muhammad. So why would he call for attacks upon the Collyridians and likely the idolatrous and polytheistic Quraish as well? Why not just voice acceptance for their right to believe as they choose? The answer is to be found in their ideologies. The Quraish are known to have been practitioners of human sacrifice and apparently Muhammad’s rejection of idol worship had resulted in their calling for the extermination of both he and his followers. Likewise the Collyridians appear to have evolved from the Ephesian cult of Diana which also practiced human sacrifice. With this in mind it would seem quite understandable for Muhammad to have called for a violent response to both groups. Who among us would sit passively by while some outsider plotted to kill our children? Now again please note that neither of these groups can be identified as either Christian or Jewish.

I have tried to communicate these facts to both Gaffney and Spencer. Gaffney simply laughed off the argument; calling me “a pie-in-the-sky religious day dreamer.” Spencer first Emailed me and directed me to a particular web site which didn’t even address the question. Next I phoned him while he was a guest on the “Tom Marr Show” over Baltimore’s WCBM. When it became apparent that Spencer had no immediate answer, Marr simply hung up the phone and began to berate me over the airwaves. He later challenged me via Email to debate Spencer in public and I accepted, saying that I would choose to dialogue rather than debate. Marr went silent after that and I have not heard from either he or Spencer.

Perhaps Spencer would be better left to pronounce his claims without responding to him were it not for the fact that he is accepted as an authority not to be questioned and quoted almost verbatim by people such as Sean Hannity and Pat Robertson. The latter two are individuals I highly respect who nonetheless should know better than to quote such sources without verifying their accuracy.

Two years ago Spencer did in fact agree to debate with theologian/author Dinesh D’Souza at the CPAC convention in Washington D.C. D’Souza was raised among the Hindus but he still has a scholarly knowledge of the Quran and is acquainted enough with Muslims that he rejects any such notion that their religion is inherently evil.

Now CPAC is a conservative political action group which I personally am almost always in agreement with (yes, I would vote for Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman over Barak Obama without hesitation). Unfortunately the people at CPAC well remember the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist attacks promoted by radical Muslims and many of them have no hesitation in air brushing all Muslims in such a way as to portray each of them as evil emissaries. This is not unique. My father fought in World War II and was highly decorated for his heroics at Normandy and elsewhere. He well remembered the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Now Dad was a also a committed Christian and advocated love for all. Nonetheless years later he struggled inwardly when my sister dated a young Japanese man. He later recanted of this but his initial reaction was “She’s going out with a Nip!?”

CPAC’s bias was quite apparent in the Spencer/D’Souza debate. Even the simplest statements by Spencer were wildly applauded while D’Souza received only token acceptance. (Surprisingly Spencer later complained that it was he who received bias treatment.) At one point D’Souza stated “I feel about as welcome as a mosquito in a nudist colony.” Unfortunately the only scholar in the building was the mosquito.

Regarding the Middle East conflict, D’Souza pointed out that Palestinians have not been the only ones committing terrorist attacks. He pointed to the Irgun and the Stern Gang; radical Zionist groups who, prior to 1948, orchestrated the assassination of the British Eastern Minister Lord Moyne, blew up the King David Motel and set off explosions at Deir Yassin; the latter two resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocents. Spencer then countered that such attacks were irrelevant to the debate as they were not state sponsored. Well . . . duh . . . Israel was not a state prior to 1948 just as Palestine is not a state today.  Significantly the Stern Gang’s leader was Menachim Begin; later the Israeli Prime Minister.   

Next D’Souza remarked that, if one were to apply Spencer’s method of interpreting the Quran, it would be possible for him to use verses in the Old Testament to promote terrorism. He was interrupted at this point by a lady in the audience who shouted “Oh no you can’t!” D’Souza did not get opportunity to elaborate but presumably he was referring to Numbers 31:7 & 8, Deuteronomy 7 and I Samuel 15:3 in which commands are given to annihilate tribes known as the Midianites, Caananites and Amalakites. Now at first glance this does sound like a very evil religion.. That is until we consider that all three tribes were known to be sacrificing small children on their altars. Archaeologists have uncovered some rather horrible scenes of children tortured and left to burn on hot irons by these gruesome thugs. Small wonder that God wanted them wiped out before they could carry out anymore such travesties.

One other point that went uncovered in the debate was Spencer’s claim that Surah 4:34 instructs Muslims to physically beat their wives.  Again this IS the interpretation of Jihadists.  One television personality in Bahrain has taken to advising men on the proper way to strike their wives; whether with a closed fist or open hand and the proper places to strike them if you intend on leaving some sort of bruise or blood flow.  The man is a nutcase.  The actual passage in the Quran uses the Arabic word “adribu” which when paraphrased instructs the man that, if his wife is ungodly, he is not to bear children by her. Otherwise the child will grow up in an ungodly environment.  But there is no instruction to beat even an ungodly woman.   Again Spencer seems not to realize this.    

Now I am quite certain that Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney as well are both good, decent individuals with sincere intentions. I am also equally certain that both lack the credentials to speak authoritatively about Islam and that both do a great deal of harm in the process. 

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Christian/Muslim Dialogue Question # 1: Distinctions & Similarities

On August 12, 2010, Highland Assembly of God Church in Baltimore hosted a dialogue involving Imam Kamal Nawash, President of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism (FMCAT) and myself. Rev. John Morine, Pastor of Highland Assembly and Rev. Danny Chrystal of Trinity Assembly moderated the dialogue.

 This was not the first such dialogue, as we had previously met with our Muslim leaders in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. It was, however, a meaningful time and the transcript of the introductions and the first question are recorded below.

  

Rev. John Morine (Moderator): We want to welcome Imam Kamal Nawash and Howie, as well, this evening. First, let me ask Kamal about something. Did you turn down Bill O’Reilly to be here tonight?

 Kamal: Sort of.

 John Morine: Sort of. Okay now, if O’Reilly calls, we’re not taking the hit. (laughter) . .

. Now, let’s first welcome Howie. (applause)

 Howie: Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. If I could, let me take these couple of minutes to share with you an event that, had it not occurred, we might not be meeting here tonight.

In 2001, I was making preparations to undergo a bone marrow transplant. The problem was, I had no donor. Nobody matched me. Now, several months prior to this, I had met a Muslim lady by the name of Linda. I had begun picking up her mother each morning to go to a medical adult daycare where I worked. On a morning in January, Linda came out ahead of her mother and pulled me aside. “Pastor Howie,” she said, “My mother and I talked it over last night and decided that we cannot let you die. I want to go to the hospital with you. I will give you half the bone marrow in my body – half for you and half for me. That way, we both have a fighting chance. Now, Linda had no way of knowing that all that was needed was a small amount. Nor did she know that the chance of a dark-skinned Asian woman matching a light-skinned Bavarian man was maybe one in a billion times a billion. But, the offer was genuine and it brought me to tears.

Now, that was the January of 2001. We all know what happened nine months later on September 11th of that year. We all remember seeing the towers burning and the vile hatred expressed on 9/11 by terrorists. What I could not reconcile was the vile hatred that so many voiced in the coming days against the Asian people and particularly against Muslims. I remember listening to the radio one day as a man painted the Asian people as mentally deranged and their religion as evil. I thought of Linda, who wouldn’t hurt a fly. By the way, if any of you tonight consider Asians to be mentally inferior, the next time you sit down to balance your checkbook, remember that you are using the ARABIC number system. It’s called the ARABIC number system for a reason – they were way ahead of the rest of us in developing mathematical and scientific formulas. But anyway, I couldn’t reconcile all of this hatred in view of Linda. And then, as I watched one of the 9/11 memorial services, I heard the words of a Muslim Imam, which rang true, “Our religion has been hijacked,” he said. That was it. Islam had been hijacked.

I could not help but recall that there had been times when Christianity had been hijacked as well, like during the Crusades and the Inquisition when Muslims, Jews, and even Protestant Christians had suffered from the actions of false Christians – hijackers; like the proclamation of Adolph Hitler to a group of Lutheran pastors that he himself was a born again Christian. Yes. There have been times when we have been hijacked as well.

In regards to Islam, I remembered something I had learned years earlier – that when Muhammad declared war on infidels, he was referring not to Christians or Jews, but to two local tribes – the Quraish and the Collyridians – two groups that practiced human sacrifice and had set as their goal, the elimination of his own people. Of course, he declared war on them, but NOT on Christians or Jews. Rather, he got along quite well with these folks. And, it is for that reason that the three of us are able to gather up here tonight as friends. We are here to dialogue, not denounce. And, with that in mind, we begin this meeting. The gentleman you are about to meet is Kamal Nawash, President and founder of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. I truly believe he is a vital cog in bringing about the peace of Jerusalem, which, of course as Christians, we are called to pray for . . . . Now, before we go any further Ladies and Gentlemen, would you give a big hand to Kamal Nawash. (applause)

 

Kamal: Thank you. Now, first off, I did get a phone call around 2:00 this afternoon from the O’Reilly Factor and Fox News. They wanted me to speak about that Mosque that is proposed at Ground Zero. I really don’t have an opinion on that. It seems frivolous to me. But, I did consider canceling out. I mean, who wouldn’t want to speak to 14 million people? And, they pick you up in a limousine even though my office is just a couple blocks away. But, I thought, “No, I can’t.” So, I ended up rushing up here and in the confusion, I left all of my literature behind. But, to me, that question is trivial about building a Mosque, but the fact that it had caused such controversy is an indication of just how much tension exists and there is a lot of tension between us.

Now, yesterday, I was asked to do an interview on another program over the Internet and the first question they asked me was, “Why do you hate us?” And, that’s a significant question. But, you know, I have Muslims ask me that same question, “Why do they hate us?” And, you know, I really don’t think the answer has anything to do with our religions. I don’t think any Muslim looks at the situation and says, “I would really like to convert you,” although that’s true, they probably would like to see you become Muslims. But, because you aren’t, that doesn’t make them mad. And, just like Christians would like to see us all convert, that’s not why you are mad; if indeed, you are mad. From a Muslim point of view, the tension is mostly from a political perspective. I would like to read you a verse from the Qu’ran about Jesus Christ. But, before I go any further, let me ask: Does any Christian, here, know who the Muslim Messiah is? I see one hand. Anyone else? Who’s the Muslim Messiah?

Audience member: Is it Jesus Christ?

Kamal: Jesus . . . Jesus Christ. How many Christians knew that Jesus Christ is the Muslim Messiah? Okay, a few of you did. So, you see, we really have a lot in common. But, most of you think of us as you would Buddhists or Hindus. You hear the word “Allah” and you think that’s a word like Zeus or Vishnu. Actually, Allah is the Arabic word for God. People, Islam is a Western religion. We come from the same roots as Christianity and Judaism. Every major figure in Christianity – not most, but every one – is a major figure in Islam.

I am a Muslim. I was born in Bethlehem. My family village is the same as that of John the Baptist. I was born in the same town as Jesus Christ. Let me read you a sentence or two from both the Bible and the Qu’ran:

“For behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, it is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you that you will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying n a manger. And, suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace, goodwill towards men.’” (Luke 2:9-14)

And, from the Qu’ran: “Of Mary when she withdrew from her family to a place in the east, she placed a screen to screen herself from them. Then, we sent to her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said, ‘I seek refuge from you to Allah most gracious; come not near if you fear Allah.’ He said, ‘No, I am only a messenger from your Lord, to announce to you the gift of a holy son.’ She said, “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste?’ He said, ‘So it will be, Your Lord says, “That is easy for me, and we wish to appoint him as a sign to men and a mercy from us.” It is a matter so decreed.’ So, she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.” (Surah 19:16-22).

And, also, regarding the high esteem in which we hold the Bible:

“ALLAH is HE besides Whom there is none worthy of worship, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, and All-Sustaining. HE has sent down to thee the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which precedes it; and HE has sent down the Torah (Law of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guidance to the people; and HE has sent down the Discrimination (judgment between right and wrong).” (Surah 3:3-4)

Now, this doesn’t sound like some sort of Eastern religion. We’re not talking Buddha here. All our teachings are the same. We believe all the same about Adam and Noah and all the prophets; all the same. Even though we differ in the last 5 minutes of Jesus’ life, we are still from the same roots. The difference is in who we believe Jesus was.

Now, in Islam, we have what we call prophets and messengers. Not every prophet is a messenger, but every messenger is a prophet. The highest you can be in Islam is a messenger. A messenger is a prophet who ultimately brings the scripture. In Islam, we have 4 of them: Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Now, I said we differ on the last 5 minutes of Jesus’ life.

Christians believe He was crucified and His crucifixion has an important significance; that he died for our sins. Now, we believe that he did all of the things that you believe. We believe that He healed the blind and that he brought dead people to life. But, we do not believe that He was the Son of God. We believe that He had no father and was born of a virgin because God willed it, but we do not believe He was the Son of God. And, I realize this is fundamental and very important to you. And, this is why we are so close. But, it may be that, there, the disagreements come about because our religions are so close. If you were to talk to a Buddhist or a Confucian, you don’t know anything about what they believe. But, when you talk to a Muslim, you already know much of this. And so, you say that Jesus was crucified and we say no, He was taken up before that. And you say how can you believe that? The Bible says He was crucified and arose. But, we believe that He did not go to the cross.

 

John Morine: Okay. Now, question #1: Can you give us a brief description as to the uniqueness of your religion as well as how it has benefited you in your own personal life?

Imam Nawash, or no, Howie goes first. We’re just getting started and they’ve changed things on me.

Howie: Christianity is founded on the Man, Jesus Christ.  In common with the Muslims, we believe Him to have been the promised Messiah born at Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary. And, we feel this to be a fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies of both Isaiah and Micah.

We believe, however, that His identity was actually that of God manifest in the flesh. We call this the Incarnation. A number of years ago I encountered a missionary who spoke of trying to explain the Incarnation to a remote tribe of South American Indians. This tribe believed in magic and the Incarnation made no sense to them. Then, one day, the missionary became aware of an old legend from their own religion. In it, a magician is walking down a hill and notices that the creek has overflowed. The water offers no danger to him but, upon reaching the bottom of the valley, he notices a group of ants busily scurrying in and out of their anthill. Any of you that have ever been on an airplane will know quite well that, when you look outside, the people down below look just like ants.

Now, in this story, the magician realizes that the ants will be swept away by the water unless they take cover inside. So, he begins to scream at them and tell them to get inside. They, of course, pay him no attention. So, the magician concludes that the only way he can get them to listen is if he becomes an ant himself. And, he transforms himself into an ant and begins to warn them of the oncoming danger. Some listen, some pay him no heed. Well, the missionary heard this story and thought to himself, “That’s it! That’s the Incarnation. That’s just what God did. He became one of us little ants and taught us to flee from the evils of sin. Some have listened and others have not.” This is what we feel makes Christianity so unique. So many religions simply stress mankind reaching out to a very distant god. Christianity is God reaching down to man – God becoming man.

Now, we also believe that, through Jesus Christ, God taught us the highest form of morality ever conceived, radical things: love your enemy, do good to those who spitefully use you, literally turn your enemy into a friend. If the Roman soldier compels you to carry his bag one mile, carry it two. And, along the way, turn him into your friend. This method we feel ultimately overturned the Roman Empire.

But, it was initially rejected and Jesus was sentenced and crucified. He died on the cross, but rose from the dead on the third day, after which He was seen by over 500 eyewitnesses. Medical science has demonstrated that He could not have simply swooned and, several years ago, an amateur magician named Danny Korem was commissioned to examine the situation to determine if there was any way that the body could have been stolen or if the resurrection was a hoax. Danny Korem was the same man who exposed the alleged psychics Uri Geller and Heidenreich as phonies. If anyone could disprove the resurrection of Christ, it was he. But, Danny Korem concluded that such a trick was impossible. It would take a resurrection from the dead he concluded.

Now, we also believe that this event is prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, most notably Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9, and Zechariah 12.

However, we also believe that it is spoken of by Muhammad in the Qu’ran. Consider the following verses: Surah 19:30-35 speaks of the day Jesus died and the day He was raised. Surah 4:158 speaks of God raising Him up to Him. Yet, present day Muslims deny either the crucifixion or the resurrection. Why? We in the Christian Church believe it is our fault – or rather the fault of those who hijacked the Christian Church.

During the Medieval Crusades, so-called Christians committed horrible atrocities against the people of Muhammad. Picture, if you will, the bloodthirsty tyrant Raymond of Toulouse having innocent Muslim people bound and thrown inside their own homes and the structure is burned to the ground. Now, picture this entire horror happening in the shadow of a large crucifix. Small wonder that the Muslim people began to view the cross as a symbol of evil. And again, our religion was hijacked.

Frequently, the Islamic people will point to Muhammad’s words to Jesus’ attackers “You think that you crucified Messiah, Jesus, but it only appeared as such” to imply that the crucifixion never took place. However, the Arabic linguists have assured us that this verse is actually a paraphrase of Jesus’ words, “You have no power over me unless it is given from above” (John 19:11). So, it well could be said that Christianity sinks or swims on the basis of the resurrection.

Now, as to how it has benefited my own life, let me say that the assurance of God’s grace – His underserved forgiveness – is a source of great comfort. Jesus cried from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Again, this is a source of comfort.

Some years ago, when I first moved to Bel Air, I went to the local Crown gas station to apply for a gasoline credit card. Gas was almost a dollar a gallon at that time so I figured at such outlandish prices I might need a credit card. However, my application was rejected. “Bad credit,” it said. I panicked. How could I have bad credit? I pay all my bills. I called General Motors, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Equitable Bank where I had my college loan. It turned up nothing. I called Crown Petroleum all frustrated.

And finally, the man asked me, “Sir, your name is Howard Gardner, is that correct?”

“Yeah.”

“Howard is your first and Gardner is your last?”

“Right.”

“Well, our application requires you to put your last name first and first name last. You filled it out backwards. Your credit is fine.”(laughter)

Now, I don’t know who this Gardner Howard is, but he must be a real deadbeat.

(laughter) But, I was fine. What a relief that was – to be free of debt! And that is what being a Christian offers to us – freedom from the debt of sin. Even though we have all sinned, God offers us forgiveness. As the song says, “The Old Account Is Settled.” And, with all that the Qu’ran and the Psalms have to say about the mercy of God, I sincerely doubt that there is much contradiction here between any of our faiths.

 

John Morine: Okay. Now, we’ll hear from Kamal.

 

Kamal: Hey, where’d you get this guy from? Rev. Gardner invites me in here. He’s all nice to me and he comes across as soft and mild. I thought I was going to have a cakewalk with this guy. I thought, “He’s a cream puff.” But he’s obviously a very well educated man. Hey, you pulled a fast one on me. (laughter)

Now, the question is how are Islam and Christianity unique? And, you said some things I thought were good. But, I think I could have easily gotten these things from Judaism and Islam. Let’s say that you go to Kinkos and they give you an extra 10 bucks. And, you’re tempted to walk away. At least I am. Maybe I’m not as devout as you, but if you have been taught right from wrong, usually you will give it back. Now, not always, sometimes Lucifer wins. Sometimes you go out and buy a Big Mac, but, not usually. But, you know the promise of Christianity is sort of like somebody offering you a ten-dollar bill free and you have to decide whether or not to take it. But, what religion does to us is that it gives us what you call Judeo/Christian values. We call them Christian/Jewish/Islamic values. But, these offers of something free, it’s like, well, it’s okay to go out and buy a Big Mac with the other guy’s money.

Now, I always say I’m 39 years old but, in fact, I’m 40. Maybe it’s psychological that I have to reduce it one year to make it sound younger. And, I’ve been doing this for quite awhile.

(laughter) But, you know that, when a Christian speaks of certainty, I think, if somebody has taught us right from wrong, we’re going to have to go back. But, you have Muslims and Christians doing things everyday – like robbery and prostitution. And, you know these things are wrong. And, that’s what I take from religion itself.

Now, one of the things you said that I think I have to respond to is this: You said that as Christians you feel like you are given, we are given a clean slate. You see, in Islam we don’t have that. No Muslim ever knows if he is going to heaven or not. They keep us guessing. Everything is based on our acts. Now, everyday a Muslim always refers to God as the compassionate one. And, if you do seek God’s forgiveness, he’ll give it to you. But, that’s not enough. As a Muslim, we believe that you’ve got to act it out. You can’t just do things and then go to God and ask for a clean slate. You’ve got to act it out.

We can say I accept Jesus or I accept Muhammad. And, by the way, you mentioned Muhammad several times. Who is Muhammad? Muhammad to us is just a man. He is a prophet, but he is just a man. But, this is the difference between us. You say the Word of God ended with Jesus Christ, basically. We say, “No. It went one step further with Muhammad.” But, God even tells him, “As much as I love you, I can’t guarantee you are going to heaven.”

So, you can say it’s a sense of comfort that you feel that you have a clean slate so you know you’re going to Heaven. Now, Muslims would say, “We would like to have that same feeling, but the fact that we don’t know keeps us trying harder to do good. We are trying to perfect morality because we don’t know. And, the fact that we do not know, keeps us trying to do good.”

Now, we talked about the importance of Jesus Christ. And, I think it’s good that we talk about it. But, a fundamental issue for us is that “No one begetteth God and He begetteth not.” God does not have children. We accept the same message from Jesus as you do, but it is not necessary that we believe He is the Son of God. This is a fundamental issue with us. We believe that He healed the blind and the sick. And, in Islam, we believe that the only person who had never committed sin is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who never did anything wrong. We agree on that. But, Mr. Gardner, the Qu’ran’s answer to you is that of Adam. Adam was also born without a father or mother. But, you can’t be saved because of him. Simply, him being the Son of God is not necessary.

I just thought of something that I think is relevant to a question that you posed. It occurs to me that Islam is the only religion in which you do not have to be one of us to go to heaven. We do not believe that you have to be a Muslim. And, this may surprise you. The Qu’ran speaks well of Christians and Jews: “ . . . and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant” (Surah 5:82).

Now, you hear about Islam being an intolerant religion, but if you consider a verse such as I just read, then you see that Jews and Christians, if they do good, they have nothing to fear. This is the only religion I know that says this. In Christianity, you have to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. And, I’m not going to guess what Buddhists say because I know nothing about that

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Muslims Must Protect Arab Christians

Muslims Must Protect Arab Christians

 

By Kamal Nawash, Imam Ahmed Mansour and Pierre Maroun

The last 10 years have not been easy for Arab Christians. Numerous events, including the U.S. invasion of Iraq has inspired the belief that the “Christian West” has declared war on Muslims of the Middle East. Many Muslims see military operations against Muslim majority nations by the United States as religious in nature because the United States is viewed by many Muslims as a Christian nation.

Unfortunately, some radical Muslims have attacked Christian Arabs in retaliation for American military attacks against majority Muslim nations such as Iraq. Most notably, churches have been attacked in Egypt and Iraq by extremists who now view their Christian countrymen with suspicion because they share the same religion as the Majority of Americans.

In addition, there are allegations that certain dictatorships in the Middle East have allowed attacks against churches in their respective countries in order to bolster government arguments that the attacks are done by Islamic extremists and that the oppressive governments are needed to fight those extremists. This allegation was made against Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

The relationship between Arab Christians and Muslims has not always been tense. In fact, the history of Christian/Muslim relations in the Arab world has been historically remarkable and beneficial for the entire world. For example, in the early days of Islam, Arab and Middle Eastern Christians translated scholarly Greek philosophy and religious work into Arabic. This, in fact, helped propel the Muslim nations into a global power with advances in science, mathematics, astronomy, and arts while Europe was still sinking in what is known as the dark ages.

In return, some hundreds of years later Arab Christians translated scholarly Muslim work in the sciences; mathematics, astronomy, medicine and the humanities from Arabic into Latin and Greek, which helped kick off the European renaissance and transformed Europe into a leading world power. This wealth of knowledge could not have existed had it not been for the unique Islamo-Christian relationship.

Most of the Arab Muslims in countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, an area known as the Levant, have Christian ancestry. Historically, one of the reasons that Christian/Muslim relations have generally been good and productive is due to the fact that most Arab Muslims had Christian relatives. The close family relations between Middle Eastern Muslims and Christians have historically produced unusual results. Thus, during the height of the Muslim empire, it was not unheard of for a Christian to be a general in a Muslim army under the Caliphate.

In modern times, Arab Christians continue to be leaders in the Arab world. In the early 20th century, the leaders of Arab nationalism were Christians. The creator of the Baath Party (Renaissance) in Iraq and Syria was a Christian named Michel Aflaq. Christians such as George Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh were among the major leaders and founders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

The second in command in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a Christian by the name of Tarek Aziz. In Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority Christians hold high positions in governments. In Lebanon, Christians hold the highest position where the President of the country must be a Christian. Even Arab countries that are 100% Muslims rely heavily on Arab Christians. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE depend heavily on Lebanese Christians in everything related to commerce, construction, media, as well as in the bridging of relations between East and West. In the United States, the founders of Arab American organizations which defend Muslims, and who advocate for Arab civil rights are mainly Christians i.e. James Zogby, James Abourezk, Khalil Jahshan and Naila Asali.

Thus, the recent attacks on Christian churches in Iraq and Egypt are absolutely unusual to the local Muslims, and they are indeed unacceptable and rejected by all true Muslims worldwide. Accordingly, it is the duty of every Muslim to protect and preserve Middle Eastern Christians whether they are Chaldean, Maronite, Copts or Orthodox for these Christians are part of the main fabric of Middle Eastern societies and not intruders as some radicals have been trying to portray them.

According to the Holy Qura’an (Quran), Muslims must defend and protect all people who live amongst them. Middle Eastern Christians don’t just live with Muslims; they are family. The number of Christians in the Middle East has been dwindling, in part, due to attacks by radicals. This must be stopped. Middle Eastern Christians must be preserved because Christians have historically been essential to the prosperity of the Middle East. Therefore, more Muslim leaders must voice their support for their Christian neighbors and vow to protect them with all available means as they would protect their own families.

Middle Eastern Christians are precious jewels in the Middle East. They were the first followers of Jesus Christ who Muslims refer to as Issa Ibn Maryam, or the son of the Virgin Mary who is considered by the Holy Qura’an as the purest woman in the history of mankind. Furthermore, Middle Eastern Churches are the first churches to be established anywhere in the world. After all, the Middle East is the cradle of Christianity and Middle Eastern Christians are a living history.

Please contribute to our effort here: http://www.freemuslims.org/support/donate.php

Kamal Nawash, President
Free Muslims Coalition

Pierre A. Maroun, President
American Lebanese Center for Cultural Research

Comments

Posted June 28, 2011 by Mazen

Praise the Lord for you insight into this predicament between Muslim regimes and Arab Christians. At a time when many of us Christians are open to a more meaningful dialogue with Muslims, this violence against Christians and their churches effectively blocks any productive dialogue
Posted June 29, 2011 by Whoolery
 
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Redda and Sharia Law

REDDA AND SHARIA LAW

Philosophical debate occupied a great deal of time and was a leisurely recreation in ancient Greece. Philosophers, such as Plato, would gather at the Acropolis to debate various topics, often to the point of absurdity.

On one occasion, a debate stirred between two antagonists, of which, one challenged the other, claiming that the man was incapable of turning to the side and taking the eight steps forward necessary to depart from the Acropolis. The individual was only too willing to give a physical demonstration to the contrary, when his opponent interrupted to ask if, before taking eight steps forward, it would not be necessary to first take four steps forward.

“Yes,” the man agreed, “it would indeed be necessary to go half the distance prior to taking the full eight steps.”

“But, before doing that, would you not first have to take two steps forward?” the other man asked.

“Yes,” again.

“How about one step? One-half step? One-quarter step? 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/32nd, 1/64th, 1/128th, 1/256th . . . .?”

And, it is said that, by the time the debate was over, it became necessary to carry the man out of the Acropolis, as he was no longer convinced of his ability to walk out. Perhaps the only point that the philosophers had ultimately made was that philosophy itself is inadequate to define life in its practical nature.

Regardless of the above, various sophists would gather on a daily basis to challenge one another on a variety of points. One of the most popular topics was the question of just what was the most efficient form of government. This question became hotly debated, particularly among the people of Athens and Sparta.

The city of Athens had become quite prosperous, mostly attributable to their proto-capitalistic philosophy of government, which gave each individual the right to establish a livelihood or business free from government intervention. The city flourished financially as a result, and thus, the Athenians maintained that personal freedom was the most important ingredient in establishing a good government. However, as a result of their own prosperity, the Athenians had developed a reputation for being self-centered, lazy, physically weak, and immoral.

By contrast, the Spartans took great pride in their ability to adhere to rigid requirements, particularly in their training for athletic competition. The most popular philosophers among the Spartans were known as Stoics. The latter taught that the Bacchus gods (that is, any sort of temptation or appetite such as a lust for food, sex, wealth, personal comfort, or even the desire to be loved) ultimately control one’s life. The Stoics saw it as a weakness for a person to show emotion, as this would imply that their own environment had control over them. Thus, it was seen as weakness for a man to cry or to, in any way, alter his stringent daily training so as to display affection for another.

There is a story told of a young Spartan soldier who secretly kept a pet kitten in his tent. When officials came to check the tent, the boy quickly grabbed the cat and placed it under his breastplate. The officials questioned him about the rumor that he had a pet and the boy staunchly denied it and demonstrated no emotion despite the fact that the frightened cat was clawing away at his chest in an attempt to escape. Finally, the boy fell over from blood loss and the cat was revealed. Oddly, the Spartans proclaimed the boy as a hero – not because he had succumbed to the desire to have a pet or because he had lied about its presence, but rather because he had displayed such incredible tolerance to pain and had not even shed a tear, while enduring intense agony.

As a result of this, the Spartans implemented a rigid legal system designed to enforce morality. Only by restricting freedom, it was argued, could a government protect its people from moral corruption. They snarled at the lazy Athenians who, they maintained, had become corrupted by pleasure.

The above demonstrates much of the great divide that exists between America and the Muslim world. Americans take great pride in being “the land of the free.” “From every mountaintop, let freedom ring,” the Americans proudly sing, while Muslim clerics shout that such freedoms have left the Americans free to live a life that is often characterized by debauchery.

Recently, the Iranian dictator, Akhmadinejad, boasted to the faculty and students at Columbia University that, unlike America, Iran does not have a problem with drunkenness, drug addiction, pornography, adultery, rape, homosexuality, or pedophilia. Now, to a great degree, he was right. America does have these problems, often rampantly, while Iran is seemingly free of them. How could they avoid such problems? Well, the drunk, the drug addict, the porn addict, and the sex pervert are all randomly rounded up and executed in Iran before they can corrupt the youth.

The Ayatollah Khomeini labeled the United States as “The Great Satan” for this reason. By that, he did not intend to imply that the devil had become incarnate in American legislators. Rather, he was saying that Satan does not have the ability to overpower the people of God, but rather that he conquers by tempting people to yield to temptation.

Now, at first glance, it appears that Akhmadinejad is right. It would be nice if we could get the drunks, the drug dealers, the pedophiles, and the rapists off the street. So, why not incorporate the Sharia Law that many Muslim countries have opted for?

Well, let’s consider, for example, the following principles from some of the more stringent forms of Sharia Law and note the often-corrupt way in which they are legislated.

~ Regarding Marriage to Children ~

‘Umdat al-Salik, section m8.2 states, “A guardian may not marry his prepubescent daughter to someone else for less than the amount typically received as marriage payment by similar brides.” In other words, if you decide to give your daughter in marriage before she has reached puberty, then make sure you are well paid for it. Now, what sort of morality is that? – the capacity to remain chaste if he or she . . . “is prepubescent at the time of marital intercourse.” ‘Umdat al-Salik, section o12.2

~ Regarding Marriage ~

‘Umdat al-Salik, section m6.7 states, “It is not lawful or valid for a Muslim man to be married to any woman who is not either a Muslim, Christian, or Jew; nor is it lawful or valid for a Muslim woman to be married to anyone besides a Muslim.”

~ Regarding Husband—Wife Relations ~

‘Umdat al-Salik, section m10.12 states, “It is not lawful for a wife to leave the house except by the permission of her husband, though she may do so without permission when there is a pressing necessity. Nor may a wife permit anyone to enter her husband’s home unless he agrees, even their marriageable kin. Nor may she be alone with a non-family member male under any circumstances.”

~ Regarding Religious Freedom ~
(Redda Law)

‘Umdat al-Salik, section o8.1 states, “When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasies from Islam, he deserves to be killed.” Section o8.4 states, “There is no indemnity for killing an apostate.” Section o1.0 has Muhammad saying, “The blood of a Muslim man who testifies that there is not god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah is not lawful to shed unless he is one who abandons his religion and the Muslim community.”

Please note that the entirety of this latter law runs contrary to the Qu’ran itself. Note the comments of Muslim scholar Riffat Hassan:

The greatest guarantee of personal freedom for a Muslim lies in the Qu’ranic decree that no one other than God can limit human freedom (Surah 42, Ash-Shura 21), and in the statement that “Judgment (as to what is right and what is wrong) rests with God alone” (Surah 12, Yusuf 40). Since the principle of mutual consultation (“shura”) is mandatory (Surah 42, Ash-Shura 38), it is a Muslim’s fundamental right, as well as responsibility, to participate in as many aspects of the community’s life as possible.

The Qu’ranic proclamation in Surah 2, Al-Baqarah 256 states, “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” guarantees freedom of religion and worship. This means that, according to Qu’ranic teaching, non-Muslims, living in Muslim territories, should have the freedom to follow their own faith-traditions without fear or harassment. A number of Qu’ranic passages state clearly that the responsibility of the Prophet Muhammad is to communicate the message of God and not to compel anyone to believe. The right to exercise free choice in matters of belief is unambiguously endorsed by the Qu’ran in Surah 18, Al-Kahf 29, which states, “The Truth is from your Lord: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it).”

The Qu’ran, also, makes clear that God will judge human beings, not on the basis of what they profess, but on the basis of their belief and righteous conduct, as indicated by Surah 2, Al-Baqarah 62 which states:

Those who believe (in the Qu’ran) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward saith the Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

The Qu’ran recognizes the right to religious freedom, not only in the case of other believers in God, but also in the case of non-believers in God (if they are not aggressive toward Muslims). For instance, Surah 6, Al-An’am 108 states,

Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did. (Religious Human Rights in the Qu’ran; Emory International Law Review, Riffat Hassan, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1996, p. 361-386)

So, the real question here is whether or not implementing Sharia Law and basically becoming a police state is the best way to achieve morality. First, it is clear that the Muslim must cease to adhere to his own religion in order to defend Sharia Law. You see, the Qu’ran upholds the Biblical principle that morality and personal integrity, rather than being personal elements that can be legislated by government, are things that must be gotten from a personal relationship with loving parents, friends, and ultimately from a loving God.

However, as we pointed out in the Open Letter:

. . . we recognize the likelihood that there would be great disagreement over just how we could accomplish these goals. For example, some might conclude that the best way to remove pornography from a society is to kill the pornographer. This would run contrary to Christian teachings, as we would instead seek to change the pornographer’s heart with the Good News that God loves him. This may or may not run contrary to Muslim practice but, with all that the Qu’ran has to say about the mercy of God, it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, we see an incredible opportunity for both groups to come together as a force for good.

Ultimately, it is impossible to legislate morality. We saw this in the actions of the 9/11 terrorists. As I would state near the end of the dialogue in Baltimore:

Many have insisted that legislation such as Sharia Law is the answer – a state enforced morality. Folks, it doesn’t work. A child does, in fact, need a certain degree of discipline. However, particularly as they grow older, they also need a degree of freedom and trust. If there is too much freedom, they grow up to be irresponsible. If there is too much discipline, they very often grow up to be rebellious. We saw this in the actions of the 9/11 terrorists during the time they were in the United States preparing for the attacks. Here were individuals who had been raised up under Sharia Law living in the midst of the so-called “Great Satan.” You would have thought that they, of all people, would have lived moral lives in our midst. But, no. They relished the chance to live in a free society. And, they carried it to extreme. They sampled the very worst that America has to offer. They spent most of their time in strip joints, bars, and in the company of prostitutes. Why? Because the strictness of Sharia Law had not made them morally strong, but had rather caused them to rebel.

You see, the best way to produce moral children is not to place a battalion of soldiers around them to enforce proper and acceptable behavior, but rather for their parents to love them and to live the sort of life in their presence that they would want them to live. Now, every child has a free will, so there will be struggles along the way. But, the family, and not the government, is the best method of training and developing godly children.

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Self Proclaimed Experts – June 27, 2011

 

SELF-PROCLAIMED EXPERTS

 

 (and why they frustrate me)

 

 

 

Just recently, I was walking over to Domino’s Pizza, just a short distance from my house. I noticed a young lady holding up a sign for motorists that informed them the rapture of the Church would occur on May 21st of 2011, and the end of the world five months later on October 21st. I had seen these signs posted down in Baltimore County and was somewhat familiar with their source: a man by the name of Harold Camping, who previously made similar statements about the year 1990.

 

I asked the young lady (whose name was Deborah) about the sign and she immediately gave me a brochure from Camping guaranteeing both May 21st and October 21st as the end of all things. I asked her about the inaccurate 1990 date and she responded that the book Camping wrote, which was called “1990?” had a question mark in the title. She explained that back then, Camping wasn’t sure about the date, but that it had since been determined that the 5/21/11 date was written in stone in the Scripture. “Where?” I asked. She simply told me that the brochure would explain everything. So, I read the brochure in her presence. Camping’s logic was as follows.

 

One week prior to the Biblical flood, God spoke to Noah and told him that it would begin to rain in seven days (Genesis 7:4). Now, I personally don’t see anything in that verse that would imply the end of the world, but Camping assured us that there is a hidden meaning. In II Peter 3:8 we are told that, “to the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.” So, some time prior to 1990, Camping concluded that the world would end exactly 7,000 (7 days x 1000 x 365.2) after the flood came. Now, most Biblical scholars would place the flood between 2500 and 2300 B.C. with the most common view being 2448 B.C. If you go 7,000 years after 2448 B.C., it will land you at the year 4553 A.D. (note that there is no year zero on the Victorian calendar, thus, placing it at 4553 rather than 4552). However, Camping knew well that a book about something not due for over two and a half millennium would spark very little interest. So, the date of Noah’s flood had to be moved back to the year 5007 B.C. in order to make the 1994 date seem feasible. Prior to that date, numerous disciples of Camping stood outside of department stores alerting the public and, in general, scaring young children.

 

When the 1990 prophecy failed to occur, Camping went back to his radio program, initially content that his newfound name recognition would lead to higher ratings. However, he was stunned to find himself labeled a false prophet and frequently listed alongside people such as William Miller, Edgar Wisenant, Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Rutherford, and others who had falsely predicted other dates. Camping’s reaction was one of desperately seeking to restore his me.

 

BRIEF APPENDIX

 

There is a striking similarity here between Camping and former President Jimmy Carter. The latter had entered the White House in 1977 on a tide of great ballyhoo. The Watergate scandal had forced the resignation of Richard Nixon and the humble peanut farmer was seen as the one to restore America’s pride. Four years later, Carter’s socialist-style of big government, huge tax increases, and inability to properly handle the Iran hostage situation had driven the country to the brink of economic collapse. He was soundly defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980 and, at least initially, made some humble gestures. After the election, Carter stated, “The American people have made their decision and, of course, I support that decision although, I must admit, not as enthusiastically as I did four years ago.” At Reagan’s inauguration, Carter humbly shook hands with the new President and seemed ready to follow the old tradition of a former President not speaking out on the issues.

 

But then, something unexpected (at least in Carter’s eyes) happened. Ronald Reagan, you see, became everything Jimmy Carter had hoped to be. His massive tax cuts brought about a strong economy. Income was up. Unemployment was down. Even during the campaign, Reagan voiced some strong words toward Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini – words that Carter wouldn’t have dared to utter. The end result was that a yellow streak appeared on Khomeini’s back. Deep down inside he must have realized “This fellow means business.” So, even as Reagan was taking the oath of office: “I, Ronald Reagan, do hereby solemnly swear . . .” a newswire popped up on television screens all over the country. “THE IRANIAN HOSTAGES ARE FREE,” it proclaimed. Reagan’s tough image had worked even from the start. Khomeini had buckled, not wanting to risk seeing the United States military in his backyard, he called for an immediate release of the hostages.

 

So, while Reagan was being regarded on a par with Lincoln as the greatest of all U.S. Presidents, Jimmy Carter was left to sit back and ponder what might have been. Since that time, it seems that Mr. Carter has been on a one-man crusade to proclaim that maybe his Presidency wasn’t that bad after all.

 

The comparison to Harold Camping, here, is just too close to pass up.

 

_________________________________________ 

 

Since the complete failure of the 1990 prophecy, Camping had been on a desperate mission to restore his name. So, in 2010, he once again began to proclaim the end of the world. He had been right all along. He just miscalculated the date of Noah’s flood. It had actually occurred in 4990 B.C. and May 21st of 2011 would mark the time of Christ’s return and October 21st the end of the world.

 

In talking with Deborah, I reminded her of William Miller’s failed prophecy of 1844 and how it had caused so many Christians to question their faith. Some, I told her, formed other cults and adjusted the date (such as the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses), while the majority of others simply abandoned the faith. The Bible had been proven wrong, they reasoned. Some became atheists, while others went in the direction of the occult. Madame Blavatinski came on the scene and pulled many in the direction of ouija boards, horoscopes, palm reading, etc.

 

“Yes, but this time we got it right,” replied Deborah.

 

I asked if Jesus Himself did not say that no man knows the day or the hour of His coming.

 

She responded, “This was back then. Today, Harold Camping has solved the mystery. He knows the time and it is all recorded in that brochure.”

 

“But, even Jesus Himself said that He did not know the time. Does Camping have greater knowledge than Jesus?” I queried.

 

“He just recently figured it out,” she responded.

 

“But if all it takes is to multiply the number seven by 1000 and add it onto the year 4990 B.C., wasn’t Jesus competent enough at math to do the same equation?” I probed.

 

“Well, of course; Jesus is God.” she returned.

 

So, Camping knows more than God?” I quizzed.

 

“Well, sort of.” she answered.

 

“That’s blasphemy.” I retorted.

 

“Well, all I know is that nobody can be saved after May 21st of next year and that I will be raptured away then,” she responded.

 

“Well, all I can do is ask a favor of you,” I said. “If May 22nd rolls around and you are not raptured away, please remember that God didn’t make the error, Camping did. Don’t run around screaming, ‘there is no God’ or begin consulting your horoscope. God is still God,” I admonished her.

 

Now, Camping is just one example of religious or anti-religious persons who has memorized a few select Bible verses or other facts out of context and begun to proclaim themselves experts on a particular subject. The three major groups that do this sort of thing and which frustrate me to no end are as follows: Atheists, Traditionalists (by that I mean those who have no regard for the original text of Scripture, but rather believe only what is traditional to believe), and Islamophobes (those who are on a mission to alert the world that Muslims are hateful people who adhere to a hateful religion and a book of hate). Let’s look at each group one at a time.

 

                                            

                                             ~ ATHEISTS ~

 

 

 

As previously noted, the strong attachment that millions of Americans have with both atheism and the occult stems back to the failure of William Miller’s 1844 prophecy. But today, atheists have developed a much more thorough defense for their beliefs.

 

Commonly, today they will approach the unsuspecting Christian with the proclamation that the God of the Bible is an evil deity. And, they have all the proof-texts memorized: Numbers 31, Deuteronomy 7, and I Samuel 15. It is in these passages that God calls for the destruction of the Caananites, the Amalakites, and the Midianites. Now, at first glance, this does seem to be a very cruel deity. Imagine instructing your followers to go down among a group of people and kill them off. Sounds like the tactics of former cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson.

 

What atheists fail to realize here is the historical context of these passages. The Caananites, the Amalakites, and the Midianites were all practitioners of a pagan religion, which called for both the torture and the murder of the firstborn child of every family. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of small children burned to death by fire or by placing them on hot irons. These are the people that God wanted removed from the earth. So, maybe the Bible doesn’t portray such an evil God after all.

 

But, having ignored or being ignorant of the above facts, the atheist will next present “evidence” that Jesus Christ Himself was a mythical figure whose attributes were copied from ancient pagan religions. Frank Zindler, S. Acharya (who recently changed her name to D. M. Murdock), and Earl Doherty frequently make the claims that pagan gods such as Buddha, Mithra, Zeus, Appolonius, Nimrod, and others were born of a virgin on the 25th of December (they presume Jesus was born on this day); laid in a manger; visited by angels, shepherds, and wise men; healed the sick; walked on water; was crucified; rose from the dead; and ascended into heaven. And, the unsuspecting Christian is at a loss to explain this. (Actually, the best way is to simply demand that the atheist produce any of these texts. The only ones that exist are those written hundreds of years after Jesus’ time, as with Appolonius.)

 

BRIEF APPENDIX

 

As regarding Jesus being a historical figure, I devoted numerous pages in the appendix of my book The Church & Terri Schiavo” to denouncing the atheist viewpoint. However, I think I may have left out the most important aspect, that being citations by Justin Martyr and Tertullian of a lost reference book written by Pontius Pilate himself (the man who begrudgingly approved Jesus’ crucifixion) entitled Acts of Pilate, which did indeed affirm Jesus’ miracles as well as the fact of the missing body on the third day after the crucifixion. The great 20th century theologian F. F. Bruce said the following:

 

About AD 150, Justin Martyr, addressing his Defense of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, which Justin supposed must be preserved in the imperial archives. “‘But the words, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet,’ he says, “are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the ‘Acts,’ which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” Later he says,

 

“That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the ‘Acts’ of Pontius Pilate.”

 

Then Tertullian, the great jurist-theologian of Carthage, addressing his Defense of Christianity to the main authorities in the province of Africa about AD 197 says, “Tiberius, in whose time the Christian name first made its appearance in the world, laid before the Senate tidings from Syria Palestina, which had revealed to him the truth of the divinity there manifested, and supported the motion by his own vote to begin with.”

 

Note the exact words of Justin himself:

 

And again in other words, through another prophet, He says, “They pierced My hands and My feet, and for My vesture they cast lots.” And indeed David, the king and prophet, who uttered these things, suffered none of them; but Jesus Christ stretched forth His hands, being crucified by the Jews speaking against Him, and denying that He was the Christ. And as the prophet spoke, they tormented Him, and set Him on the judgment-seat, and said, Judge us. And the expression, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” was used in reference to the nails of the cross, which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after He was crucified, they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the ‘Acts’ of Pontius Pilate.” – Justin Martyr, First Apology 35

 

And that it was predicted that our Christ should heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was said. There are these words: “At His coming the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about.” And that He did those things, you can learn from the ‘Acts’ of Pontius Pilate.” – Justin Martyr, First Apology 48

 

___________________________________________ 

 

Next, the typical atheist will quote from a book authored by Zindler, which claims that Nazareth did not exist until around 300 A.D.; so therefore, Jesus of Nazareth could not possibly have existed. They fail to realize that archaeologists have thoroughly debunked Zindler’s theory, thereby, presuming it to be ‘written in stone.’

 

But, here again are a group of self-proclaimed experts who are thoroughly bewildered when confronted with the facts. In 2002, I was invited to be a guest on the “Cygnus Atheist Site” on the Internet. The odds seemed a bit stacked against me. Cygnus had hundreds (perhaps thousands) of followers, including S. Acharya herself, each ready to debate with me. However, their words were predictable: the Bible calls for mass murder; Jesus never existed; the Gospel stories are borrowed from paganism; etc. So, I basically knew the questions before they were even asked. And, I was well prepared to answer. Initially, the atheists became angry with me. I was, after all, threatening their very philosophy of life. But, in time, many of them began reading their own words posted on the site and realized that the best they could do was to hurl insults at me. Some softened their approach, while others, including Acharya herself, refused to participate in the discussion any longer.

 

 

 

~ THE TRADITIONALISTS ~

 

 

 

Early on in the last century, the acclaimed astronomer and Kantian physicist, Albert Einstein, made an incredible discovery, which forced him to abandon his life’s philosophy. He realized that the universe was expanding. Previously, Kant had theorized that the universe was infinite and had always existed, leaving no need, nor room for a creator God. But, Einstein’s discovery ruled this out. If the universe were expanding, then it would not be infinite. And, there must have been a time when it was not – that is a point of creation. And, creation required a Creator. Upon learning of this and personally verifying it, Descartes uttered the phrase; “I have trod the lofty heights of intellectualism only to find a group of Christians waiting for me at the top.”

 

Einstein’s discovery could have spelled the death nail to atheism, except for two things: liberalism and traditionalism. Concerned by the thought of a Deity who might actually not approve of his womanizing, Einstein sought the help of a group of liberal theologians from the German Liberal School (the same one that later influenced Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler). “It appears that you have been right all along, but if there is really a God and He is just and loving, then how come there is so much evil in the world?” Einstein wanted to know. Oh, if he had only consulted the great apologist C. S. Lewis instead of a bunch of liberals. These theologians looked at him and responded, “We don’t know, but if you ever find out, let us know.”

 

Einstein’s reaction was to reject the Christian God and convert to Deism, a religion where God is recognized as an emotionless and non-caring creator, who set the universe in motion, but really wasn’t concerned how His creation lived their lives. This allowed Einstein to continue his womanizing with out fear of judgment. How sad to realize that the Deistic God is the one many people really want to exist.

 

But, Einstein’s discovery (now commonly called “The Big Bang Theory”) was completely rejected by many on the conservative side as well. For, you see, the traditional understanding of the Genesis creation is that it occurred in six 24-hour days (at least that is how most English translations render it) approximately 6000 years ago. Indeed, Bishop Usher’s calculations put the day of creation at 4004 B.C. But, the “Big Bang” would have had to occur approximately 4-1/2 billion years ago. The reason for this is that the stars in the Milky Way are traveling at a specific speed and are presently too far apart to have reached their present position in just 6000 years.

 

The reality is that the Bible says no such thing. The Hebrew word “yom,” often translated as “day” rather implies “a period of time of indeterminate length.” The only way of determining the exact length is if it is spelled out in the rest of the context (as in I Samuel 6:1, where the same word is used to designate seven months). Add to this the fact that the context of Genesis rules out the possibility of these “days” being 24 hours long: “dasha” (or sprout) in 1:11 indicates a normal growth process, certainly longer than 24 hours. Also, 2:9 has the garden growing again (tsamah), thus implying a longer period of time.

 

So, the bottom line is that one of the strongest apologetic principles for the existence of God has been abandoned because traditionalists, a group of self-proclaimed experts, don’t want to admit that they have been proclaiming a young earth; something for which there is no basis in Scripture.

 

 

 

~ ISLAMOPHOBIA ~

 

  

 

Finally, we come to another group of self-proclaimed experts whom, I believe, not only lead people astray, but also endanger the very planet on which we live.

 

There can be no doubt that the 9/11 attacks have created a justifiable fear of the Muslim people in our country. And, the failure of the Muslim Leadership in places like Saudi Arabia to denounce terrorism immediately, have added to that fear. Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) fired one of their most popular commentators, Juan Williams, for acknowledging that he is fearful when he sees Muslims traveling on an airplane. Williams is not alone. I experience the same fears. This is not what I mean by “Islamophobia,” though. Rather, Islamophobia is the presumption that Muslims themselves are inherently evil because they adhere to a religion that is inherently evil as was its founder. Elsewhere on this blog site, I will note that Muhammad himself was originally a desert orphan who sought in vain to obtain copies of the Bible so he could better educate his people in becoming Christians – a plan thwarted because the Church Leadership had decreed that only the clergy should have access to the Bible.

 

It is not my purpose to use this book to denounce a particular person or persons. However, I must note that there are two prominent individuals, and a local broadcaster here in Baltimore, who have profited greatly from promoting this concept of Islam and Muhammad himself being inherently evil. The first two are author, William Spencer, and former Bush Administration Advisor, Frank Gaffney. The broadcaster is Tom Marr, host of “The Tom Marr Program” on Baltimore’s WCBM.

 

Now, each of these gentlemen (and I believe each is a very well-meaning individual) will point to passages in the Muslim Qu’ran, which seem to advocate violent acts being carried out against Christians and Jews. Consider the following:

 

Surah 2:193 – Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

 

2:216 – Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

 

5:33 – The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

 

5:51 – O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turn to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust. (see note below)

 

8:39 – And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.

 

8:65 – O Prophet! Rouse the believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding.

 

9:5 – But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

9:29 – fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

 

 

 

Now, the above verses do indeed seem to endorse the claim that the Qu’ran endorses the killing of Christians and Jews and that Muhammad himself was a very evil person. There is only one thing wrong with this reasoning. These passages are not directed toward Christians or Jews, but rather toward the ancient Quraish and Collyridians. Please note the following from our “Open Letter:”

History tells of heretical groups known as the Quraish and the Collyridians, who existed in Asia at the time. This latter group taught that three gods existed in the heavens. In the beginning, a father god was said to have impregnated a goddess named Mary and their ensuing offspring was named Jesus. Muhammad is almost certainly describing these people in Surah 5:73, 75 and 116, passages often mistakenly seen as being directed to the Christian concept of the Trinity. It is known that the Quraish practiced human sacrifice in their worship and, because the Collyridian practice of offering cakes to Mary in worship seems to have evolved from the worship of Artemis and since the latter religion was also characterized by human sacrifice, it seems likely that the Collyridians sacrificed human beings as well. With this in mind, it would have seemed quite reasonable for Muhammad to decree war upon them. However, by contrast, he seems to have been at peace with the Christian community.

 

BRIEF APPENDIX

 

The reader will take note that Surah 5:51 (cited above) does seem to be directed toward Christians and Jews with whom the Muslim people are instructed not to be aligned. What is the answer here? Simply put, one must understand Muhammad’s term for Christians was actually “Nasara” or Nazarenes (as in followers of “Jesus of Nazareth”). The term “Collyridians” was actually a designation coined by the Roman Catholic Church, because the group in question used cakes (called collys) in their worship of the goddess Mary, the mother of Jesus, who had supposedly supplanted the father god in terms of significance. Collyridians was not a term they used for themselves, though. Rather, the Collyridian gentiles considered themselves Christians and Collyridian Jews considered themselves Jewish Christians or Messianic Jews. Muhammad, here, is using the term that the targeted group used in reference to themselves.

 

How do we know that? Because within the very context of this passage, Muhammad descries the Collyridians in detail: Surah 5:116 states, “Behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart.”

 

Now, at NO time has the Christian community ever taught that Jesus and His mother Mary were two distinct gods supplanting God the Father (although some have erroneously tried to see an image of the Trinity in this verse). Rather, that was a teaching of the Collyridians.

 

Instead, compare the following positive statements that Muhammad makes in regards to Christians:

 

Surah 2:62 – Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians – all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.

 

Surah 2:111 – And they claim, “None shall ever enter paradise unless he be a Jew” – or, “a Christian.” Such are their wishful beliefs! Say: “Produce an evidence for what you are claiming, if what you say is true! Yea, indeed: everyone who surrenders his whole being to God, and is a doer of good withal, shall have his reward with his Sustainer; and all such need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve.”

 

Surah 3:3 & 4 – ALLAH is HE besides Whom there is none worthy of worship, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. HE has sent down to thee the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which precedes it; and HE has sent down the Torah (Law of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guidance to the people; and HE has sent down the Discrimination (judgment between right and wrong).

 

Surah 5:82 – . . . and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, “We are Christians (or Nazarenes),” because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.

 

Several years back, I contacted Mr. Spencer and advised him to look into the possibility that he was falsely interpreting the aforementioned verses to be directed toward Christians when, in fact, they were directed toward the Collyridians. He wrote me back a very short reply instructing me to check out a particular website. I did so and found that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the subject.

 

Now, I met Frank Gaffney when he came to speak at an event in Lutherville, Maryland in 2009. Gaffney introduced a rather odd hypothesis to explain the contrasting positive and hostile passages, one, which I have since heard repeated almost verbatim by Pat Roberson and Sean Hannity. The verses which paint a positive picture of Christians, Gaffney says, were written early on when Muhammad was in hopes that they would declare him their Messiah. After they had rejected him, Gaffney says that Muhammad declared an all-out war on Christians and wrote the verses, which promote hostility.

 

This view is partially adapted from a text known as the “Gospel of Barnabas” (not to be confused with the earlier “Epistle of Barnabas,” which some attribute to the Biblical companion of the Apostle Paul). The Gospel of Barnabas does, indeed, proclaim Muhammad as Messiah. In fact, it quotes Jesus as saying such: “Then said the priest, ‘How shall the Messiah be called?’ Jesus answered, ‘Muhammad is his blessed name.’” – Chapter 97. However, such a claim is bogus. At no time did Muhammad ever make claim to be Messiah. In fact, he is adamant that Jesus Himself was the Messiah (see Surah 3:45) and no credible historian would say otherwise. Indeed, close examination of the text of “Gospel of Barnabas” indicates that it cannot have originated any earlier than the 13th century.

 

BRIEF APPENDIX

 

French theologian, Jan Slomp, in his “The Gospel in Dispute” (1978), notes various points of conflict, which would make the claims of the “Gospel of Barnabas” inaccurate and dubious.

 

It has Jesus sailing across the Sea of Galilee to Nazareth – which is actually inland; and from thence going “up” to Capernaum – which is actually on the lakeside. (Chapters 20-21)

 

It claims Jesus was born during the rule of Pontius Pilate, which actually began after the year 26. Barnabas appears not to realize that.

 

Christ and Messiah are translations of the same word (Christos), describing Jesus as “Jesus Christ,” yet claiming that ‘Jesus confessed and said the truth, “I am not the Messiah.’” (Chapter 42)

 

There is a reference to a jubilee, which is to be held every hundred years (chapter 82), rather than every fifty years as described in Leviticus 25. This anachronism appears to link the “Gospel of Barnabas” to the declaration of a Holy Year in 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII, a Jubilee which he then decreed should be repeated every hundred years. Pope Clement VI reduced the interval between Holy Years to fifty years in 1343.

 

Adam and Eve eat an apple (chapter 40), whereas, the traditional association of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2) with the apple rests on the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Latin, where both ‘apple’ and ‘evil’ are rendered as ‘malum.’

 

Barnabas talks of wine being stored in wooden casks (chapter 152). Wooden casks were a characteristic of Gaul and Northern Italy, and were not commonly used for wine in the Roman Empire until after 300 CE (Christian Era), whereas, wine in 1st century Palestine was always stored in wineskins and jars. The Pedunculate or English Oak (quercus robur) does not grow in Palestine; and the wood of other species is not sufficiently airtight to be used in wine casks.

Chapter 91, the “Forty Days” is referred to as an annual fast. This corresponds to the Christian tradition of fasting for forty days in Lent, a practice that is not witnessed earlier than the Council of Nicaea (325), nor is there a forty days’ fast in Judaism of the period.

 

Where the “Gospel of Barnabas” includes quotations from the Old Testament, these correspond to reading as found in the Latin Vulgate, rather than as found in either the Greek Septuagint, or the Hebrew Masoretic Text. However, it should be noted that the Latin Vulgate translation was a work that St. Jerome began in 382 AD, centuries after the death of Barnabas.

 

In chapter 54 it says, “For he would get in change a piece of gold must have sixty mites.” (Italian minuti) In the New Testament period, the only golden coin, the aureus, was worth approximately 3,200 of the smallest bronze coin, the lepton (translated into Latin as minuti), while the Roman standard silver coin, the denarius, was worth 128 leptons. The rate of exchange of 1:60 implied in the “Gospel of Barnabas” was, however, a commonplace of late medieval interpretation of the counterpart passage in the Canonical Gospels (Mark 12:42), arising from the standard medieval understanding of minuti as meaning ‘a sixtieth part.’

 

Chapter 91 records three contending Jewish armies 100,000 strong at Mizpeh, totaling 600,000 men, at a time when the Roman army across the entire Empire had a total strength estimated as 300,000.

 

_____________________________________________

So, at the meeting in Lutherville, I confronted Mr. Gaffney with the likelihood that the positive passages in question, rather than early statements seeking Muhammad’s designation as Messiah, were rather later passages and that the more hostile ones were, actually, earlier ones directed at the Quraish and the Collyridians, because of their hostility toward monotheism and their being prone to sacrifice anyone challenging their position. Gaffney seemed stunned at first. Perhaps he had never considered such an explanation. Finally, he responded, “Well, there are a whole lot of religious people out there who want some sort of pie-in-the-sky explanation and think everything will work out in the end. But, I just don’t buy it. These people are hateful.”

 

Now, I ask the reader. What kind of an answer was that? It strikes me that Mr. Gaffney knew full well that he had been caught in error and didn’t want to admit it.

 

I, next, tried introducing the point to Spencer when he was a guest on The Tom Marr Show” in Baltimore. Tom Marr is a rather interesting subject on his own. In spite of the fact that his brother is a Catholic priest, he maintains that both the Qu’ran and the Bible are bloodthirsty texts. “The only difference being that Christians have never practiced terrorism, even though their Bible prescribes knocking out your enemy’s teeth, gouging out their eye, and tying a millstone around their neck and throwing it into the water. The only difference being that Christians have never practiced these things.” (Apparently, he is unfamiliar with the history of the Crusades.)

 

Now, Spencer had made the claim that Surah 4:34 endorses wife beating among Muslims. As dealt with elsewhere, he is sorely mistaken. Instead, Spencer has chosen to canonize the interpretation of the radical Bahraini TV host Abdullah Aal Mahmud. I pointed out that the Arabic term “adribu” used here cannot possibly be rendered as to hit or to strike, but rather infers that, if a woman is ungodly, her husband should not seek to have children by her.

 

However, Tom Marr himself is not a very cordial host. Tom’s reaction to individuals who make points he cannot deal with is simply to hang up the phone. When it became obvious that I was at least somewhat familiar with the Arabic text and that neither he or Spencer were, Tom simply hung up.

 

Several weeks later, Marr was hosting the show when a Muslim by the name of Billy called in. Billy was from Syria and he initially described the country as being a good place to live (a point with which Tom disagreed). He next tried explaining the text of Surah 4:34 in basically the same way I had done. Once again, Tom hung up the phone. So, I e-mailed Tom the following:

 

Tom, the individual named Billy who was trying to explain to you that the passage in the Qu’ran was not intended to endorse wife beating was absolutely correct. I am baffled as to why you (who apparently has no knowledge of the Arabic language) constantly resort to attempting to change the direction of the conversation or simply hang up the phone when it is obvious that the other guy is winning. Just be adult enough to admit when you do not know the answer to something. Folks will respect you more as a professional journalist when you do so.

 

(Tom had ignored my previous e-mails, but the implication that he was unprofessional must have struck a nerve with him. He wrote me back.)

 

BILL, THE MUSLIM, THINKS SYRIA IS A GREAT COUNTRY . . . IT’S A HELLHOLE . . . THE SAUDI PRESS RECENTLY HAD TO ADVISE SAUDI MEN NOT TO BEAT THEIR WIVES TOO BADLY . . . .

 

I then responded:

 

I think it’s a hellhole, too. What does that have to do with the text in the Qu’ran?

 

His reply:

 

DO YOU NEED MORE WONDERFUL QUOTES FROM THE QU’RAN THAN 4:34? THERE ARE LOTS OF THEM.

 

My response:

 

No. It does not say that in the Qu’ran and you would know that if you had bothered to research it, rather than taking the word of Mr. Spencer (a good man, but sorely wrong here, as he does not speak a word of Arabic, either). Such a translation originates with a nutcase from Bahrain by the name of Addullah Aal Mahmud. Again, see our quote below. What is there about saying the words, “I really don’t know the answers as I do not speak Arabic,” that is so hard for you to say? And, no, I don’t think the Qu’ran is so wonderful. I rather think it unwise to enrage people who respond so violently by distorting a text that they consider sacred.

 

Tom responded by challenging me to debate Mr. Spencer:

 

SORRY. I HAVE READ A GREAT DEAL OF RECOMMENDED VIOLENCE RIGHT FROM THE QU’RAN . . . OH YES; YOU CAN FIND SOME IN THE BIBLE, TOO. NO ONE IS DOING IT . . . WOULD YOU LIKE TO DEBATE MR. SPENCER . . . I CAN ARRANGE IT . . . .

 

I then responded:

 

I would be very happy to DIALOGUE with Mr. Spencer (I do not debate). I have previously done so with Frank Gaffney and have communicated through e-mail with Mr. Spencer. Both are very good men, though we disagree in some areas. Can I bring my friend, Kamal Nawash, President of the Free Muslim Coalition AGAINST Terrorism, along with me?

 

As to your statement that the Bible condones violence, I seem to recall you saying that your brother is a Priest. Check with him and see if the following exegesis is not accurate.

 

First, the Bible does not instruct one to tie a millstone around someone’s neck and cast it into the ocean, as I have heard you say previously. I believe you are thinking of passages in Matthew 18 & Luke 17, but you need to reread them before making such statements. The text, rather, says that it would be better if this had happened than to be forced to stand in judgment for having caused a child to stumble spiritually.

 

Secondly, you make frequent reference to the “eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth” passage in Exodus. Are you not aware that Moses is here quoting from the law code of the Chaldean King Hammurapi? He is, rather, saying that, while traveling through the wilderness (in Hammurapi’s backyard), the Hebrews would be forced to live under his laws.

 

Now again, Tom had challenged me to meet with Mr. Spencer openly. I accepted and suddenly Tom went silent. I can only conclude one of two things. Either, Tom abandoned the idea at the realization that I was not some idiot whose own dialogue would make him look foolish on the program, but may, in fact, present aspects that neither he nor Spencer were prepared to answer (as it is hard to hang up on someone when they are sitting right in the studio with you) or, he did, in fact, attempt to set up the dialogue with Spencer and it was declined.

 

Either way, I am left with the conclusion that Spencer, Gaffney, and Marr are simply self-proclaimed experts, who are profiting from, but unable to adequately defend, their positions. If that were the total problem, though, it would be advisable to simply ignore them. However, I have concluded that they are doing great harm in the quest for peace. Consider the following.

 

Since 2006, our “Open Letter” project has been producing positive fruit.

 

1. It has been adopted by at least three Bible Colleges.

 

2. It has been successful in persuading King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to call for open dialogue between Muslims, Christians, and even Jews.

 

3. It has persuaded Muslim scholars in Turkey to edit portions of the Hadith, which promote violence as well as the abuse of women.

 

4. It has motivated a renowned composer in Pakistan to write a song denouncing terrorism as unacceptable to God.

 

5. It has resulted in unprecedented and peaceful dialogue between Christian and Muslim leaders.

 

6. It has prompted an Iranian religious leader to take a stand against terrorism and the abuse of women.

 

7. It has seen a minimum of 7 individuals accept Christ as Savior and become Christians.

 

And, there are still more examples, which I am not at liberty to release in this book, because they have resulted in secret information being made available to high ranking officials, of whom I am told, because of the influence of the “Open Letter,” “It is safe to say that lives have been saved.”

 

Now, over that same period, Spencer, Gaffney, and Marr have been, contrarily, telling the public how evil Muhammad was, how hateful his Qu’ran is, and how stupid the Arab people are for believing it. What, pray tell, have they accomplished – except to anger people and to inspire more terrorism?

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Death of a Salesman – June 20, 2011

                                 Solving the Mid East Crisis 

                                 DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Years ago, I recall watching a rendition of Arthur Miller’s award winning play “Death of a Salesman.” The play centers around the life of Willy Loman, a down-and-out salesman whose brother Charlie, now deceased, had achieved great success with a diamond mine in South Africa and has since become a family icon and their role model for success.

Willy tries ardently not only to measure up to his brother, but also to gain the respect of his son Biff. At one point, Willy is offered a better paying job by an old friend, but refuses it because of the presumption that it will be seen as charity and something he didn’t earn from personal merit. Meanwhile, Biff seems unconcerned about even making an attempt to better himself and, early on, the viewer is left to presume that his distain for his father stems from the fact that Willy cannot measure up to Charlie’s perceived success. This, however, does not emerge to be the real reason.

Near the end of the play, it is revealed that, while in high school, Biff was struggling with new math and had traveled across town to a motel where his father was staying on a business trip in the hope of getting his help. At that point, Biff discovered his father in the company of a prostitute and, although never informing his mother Linda about his discovery, had since lost all respect for his father. Now, from a Christian perspective, this would seem like the obvious point to insert in a story of repentance and reconciliation, but this is not the path that Arthur Miller follows.

Instead, Willy finds himself on a futile quest to regain his son’s respect. Unfortunately, he presumes that the best way of doing this is to bring about the perception that he is both successful and widely respected in life. This self-promotion is not possible, though. Willy is not succeeding in his own sales endeavors and the constant shadow of Charlie’s success in the diamond mines lingers over his head.

Eventually, Willy attends the funeral of a respected friend of whom lavish praise is attributed. Everyone at the funeral tells the man’s children just how great of a man their father was and the children confirm in unified agreement. Willy thus concludes that the best way to regain Biff’s respect is to die and have everyone fawn over what a great guy he himself was.

In the end, Willy drives his car off a cliff and, in the last scene, the family is seen gathered outside the gravesite commenting on the lovely job the clergyman had done at the eulogy and how nice all the flowers looked. They, then, lament the fact that nobody showed up for Willy’s funeral and the play ends abruptly.

Now, to me personally, “Death of a Salesman” was not my idea of a good play. (But then, I’m the same guy who preferred “Lost in Space” to “Star Trek” and likes track & field better than baseball.) Nonetheless, I think the play itself does a good job depicting the state of young people in the Middle East who opt for life as a suicide terrorist.

All too often in radical Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, young children are given role models whom they cannot measure up to such as the great General Saladin. Schools teach, from early youth, that evil people known as Jews and Christians are enslaving them and their families. Now, just who are these evil people and where did they come from? Well, the textbooks say that they were originally wild pigs and jungle apes that made a pact with the devil. If he would just transform them into human beings, the pigs and the apes would reciprocate by agreeing to carry out his will and do harm to the people of God. So, the devil agreed. He turned them into Christians and Jews who, thus, became responsible for causing all of the hatred and poverty that is throughout the world.

Obviously, these “infidels” must be stopped – but how? Enter the heroes and heroines into these stories. Why, it is none other than the students themselves. They must, in turn, grow up to become terrorists who will ultimately die as “martyrs;” that is, give their own lives in a suicide attack that will take out the “infidels.”

Just a few years back, a Middle Eastern children’s television show adapted a Mickey Mouse look-alike, who himself attacked and killed Jews. A YouTube promotion recently showed a radical Islamic school teacher reading a book to small children about a young girl who “became a martyr, but . . . she died happy; knowing that she had killed “infidels” in the process.”

British journalist, Bruce Maiman, relates that these textbooks have actually found their way into his own country:

A BBC investigation has revealed that 5,000 children attending Muslim weekend schools in the UK use textbooks that claim Jews magically turned into pigs and apes (Maiman seems to have this backwards), that sodomites should be punished by execution, and that instruct children in the correct method of chopping off thieves’ hands.

The BBC program ‘Panorama’ found that these lessons are part of the Saudi national curriculum taught to children aged 6 to 18 in 40 schools across the UK. Textbooks for 6-year-olds teach that non-Muslims will end their days in ‘hellfire,’ while texts aimed at 15-year-olds assert that Zionists plan to take over the world.

                            ~ SELF-ESTEEM VERSUS PRIDE ~

A number of years ago, Christian clinical psychologist, Dr. James Dobson, caught the wrath of a number of Christian orators (particularly journalist, Dave Hunt and evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart) because of his claim that good self-esteem is a valuable tool to instill in young children. Hunt made the claim that self-esteem and pride are synonymous terms and that, since ‘pride comes before a fall,’ Dobson was in turn corrupting the youth. Self-hatred was, instead, according to Hunt, preferable to self-love, as the human race is corrupted by sin and, therefore, not worthy of being loved. Hunt voiced other accusations against Dobson as well; in particular he claimed that the terms “psychology” and “sorcery” were synonymous terms. So, in fact, Dobson must be a sorcerer and, therefore, a cult leader.

For the most part, Dobson declined to respond to Hunt. However, in response to this, Dr. Walter Martin, the profound “Bible Answer Man” invited Hunt to appear on his radio program. Having previously appeared with Swaggart and been proclaimed as a wise man, Hunt no doubt presumed that he would be openly welcomed by Dr. Martin. Instead, Martin had done his homework. He openly challenged Hunt to show him anywhere that self-esteem was a synonym for pride or that psychology was a synonym for sorcery.

“You refer to “Focus on the Family’ (Dobson’s organization) as a cult! Well, I happen to know a little bit about cults (indeed Martin was the author of the best selling book Kingdom of the Cults) and I would never dream of referring to Jim Dobson or Clyde Narramore as a sorcerer! . . . I checked Baker’s Bible Dictionary. I checked A. T. Robertson, Strongs, Cruden’s, and Thayer’s concordances and even Webster’s Dictionary!!! I checked Matthew Henry!!! And, I can’t find anywhere where it equates psychology to sorcery!!! Where did you get such nonsense?”

“Well, Walter, my sources said it was . . . “

“WHAT SOURCES???!!!”

(No answer.)

“AND, BESIDES THAT, THE BIBLE DOES TELL US TO LOVE OURSELVES,” Martin asserted.

“Where does it say that, Walter?”

“IT SAYS, ‘LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS THYSELF.’” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31).

Obviously, the implication was that, if one does not have self-love, their neighbor had better duck.

Dr. Martin was correct. Obviously, self-esteem is not synonymous with pride. Self-esteem says, “I am trying my best and thus, despite my obvious flaws, I deserve to be respected.” Pride on the other hand says bluntly, “I am better than you are.” Pride, then, is a negative, while self-esteem is both a positive and an essential.

This, then, is where we see the terrorist movement corrupting youth. They prey on the fact that all of us need good positive self-esteem and reinforcement, but conversely feed children only shallow, contemptuous ways of achieving it. Rather, if self-esteem is indeed essential to building ourselves into worthwhile human beings, then we had better start looking at productive methods of achieving self-esteem, rather than negative ones. Unfortunately, too many follow the pattern of Willy in “Death of a Salesman;” that is, many seek to cover up past mistakes by making impressive achievements, rather than by acknowledging shortcomings and starting anew.

Dobson, also more recently, made a comment that I think is quite notable as well. He stated that, “In general, men base their self-esteem upon what they do, while women base theirs on who they are with.” This, I believe, is true, but it can have both positive as well as negative consequences. I saw a deplorable demonstration of this recently in the reactions of a young Muslim terrorist and his entourage of girlfriends, who appeared with Barbara Walters on her television special “Heaven: Where Is It and How Do You Get There?”

Likely, the young man had initially sought the attention of a whole host of attractive young girls, only to be given the impression that such attention must be earned by proving oneself to be worthy. Unfortunately, in many areas in the Middle East, the only profitable business that one can enter into is the oil industry and this is often frowned upon because it caters to the hated Americans and European economists who both need and can afford to purchase it. That, in turn, often results in low self-esteem.

Anyway, the young man that Barbara interviewed had traveled into a busy marketplace in Jerusalem intent on igniting a bomb he had concealed in his shirt with the intention of killing all those in the vicinity. However, the bomb failed to ignite and the young man was arrested and placed in solitary confinement. This confinement had not stopped a host of young women from flocking to his side in prison, though. In fact, it seemed to me to be the very thing that made him most attractive to them. The young man literally gushed with pride at being called a hero by the young girls. He did, however, express what I detected as a fake sort of humility in saying that he rather wished that he had been successful and that the hated Jews had died in the explosion.

And, the young girls’ attention was not hard to figure out, either. Here was a young man who had passed the textbook test of a hero. Previously, others had done so as well, but they were now dead. What girl wants to hang out with a boyfriend who might blow himself to smithereens any day? Rather, here was a young man who had survived and was being physically restrained from ever carrying out such actions again.

Now, Barbara Walters persisted in her interview wanting to know why he would prefer death to the attention of these lovely young girls. The young man, then, laid out for her all that he had been taught from the terrorist textbooks.

“In heaven, I will have 72 virgin women as my servants,” he replied.

“Where will they come from?” she asked. “Are they women who have lived and died early before marrying?”

“No, they are jinn,” he replied.

Viewers were then informed that jinn are created beings like the angels, except that they possess no souls. They are simply created by God in order to serve men.

Even further, Barbara Walters included in her report an interview with another terrorist under arrest. The man had previously been an accomplished physician and had studied hard for a number of years in various schools of great renown, only to give it all up for the sake of blowing himself up in a crowded bus.

“Why would you do such a thing?” Barbara asked.

“Well, I came to a point in my life where I found no satisfaction in what I was doing, and I realized that I was more interested in killing Jews than in working in medicine,” he responded.

Loosely translated, I think this means that the terrorist culture did not afford him the luxury of developing self-esteem as a physician. No matter how many sick people to whom this man brought healing, his self-worth was deemed insufficient until he proved that he could kill enough infidels.

Now, from where do they get all this nonsense? With certainty — NOT from the Qu’ran. The latter never even so much as implies that Jews or Christians are infidels. Rather, such feelings originate within the hate literature of the radical Whabbists and, most of all, from the pathetic garbage that is being passed off as educational material in their school systems. This is why the textbook curriculum in Saudi Arabia and Palestine needs to be removed. As previously noted, the hate garbage has instead, now, found its way into schools in Great Britain. It has also popped up at a school in Fairfax, Virginia, right here in the United States.

As noted in our Open Letter, NPR author, Vicki O’Hara reports the following:

The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House has studied some of the textbooks currently in use in Saudi public schools, from grades one through 12. Nina Shea, the center’s director, says the texts do not comport with what Saudi officials have been saying. The textbooks “reflect an ideology of hatred against Christians, Jews . . . and others who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi doctrine,” Shea says. The center’s report cites numerous examples. It quotes a fourth-grade text as telling students to “love for the sake of God and to hate for the sake of God.” The report says that textbooks instruct students that Christians and Jews are “apes and pigs” and warns students not to “greet,” “befriend” or “respect” non-believers. Saudi officials have told Washington that their reformed curriculum encourages tolerance and understanding of other religions and cultures.

Shea says any changes in that direction are miniscule. “They have made some changes,” she says. “Sometimes though, the changes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. For example, they will say, ‘You have to hate the unbeliever, but to treat them justly.’ That’s supposed to be an improvement.” In its defense, the Saudi embassy in Washington issued a statement saying that curriculum reform is a massive undertaking and that the process in Saudi Arabia is ongoing. Shea is skeptical; she notes that the oil-rich Saudis began the reform process five years ago. “They certainly have the money to change all the textbooks for next semester,” she says, “or, last semester for that matter.”

Our question then is this: Does the Islamic leadership in fact advocate teaching this sort of hatred to children? Would it, actually, be acceptable to hate someone for the sake of God? If so, then are we not endorsing blasphemy against a holy God? And finally, will the Islamic leadership openly rebuke school officials who print such material? Please, understand we are not blaming the Leadership of Islam, or Islam itself for these teachings. We are more than willing to accept the assumption that Muhammad himself would have voiced disdain toward children being taught these things. However, it is meaningless for us to take such a stand. Such a proclamation needs to come from the Muslim Leadership itself . . . . We are, therefore, asking that such a proclamation be made in regards to terrorist attacks as well as the aforementioned school literature.

My friend, Kamal Nawash, is a highly respected lawyer and a good man with high moral standards. He and his wife are in the beginning stages of raising a great family. Yet, he is a Palestinian born in Bethlehem in the midst of a community that often advocates and promotes radical terrorism. Change is possible for everyone, but we need the help of Muslims, Jews, and Christians, the people of Abraham – a man of peace.

Recently, a group of concerned parents in Fairfax, Virginia, brought attention to local authorities that the hate literature had found its way into their school system. And, to the surprise of some, the parents themselves were Muslim – a fact that really shouldn’t surprise us at all. You see, responsible Muslim parents don’t want their children exposed to such garbage any more than responsible Christian or Jewish parents do.

Back in 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a group of rowdy teenagers decided to use the parking lot in back of our housing development as the location for wild parties late at night. The music was incredibly loud and there were rumors of drug trafficking each night. Over and over the neighbors responded by calling the police and having the teens run out.

However, the teens decided to take matters into their own hands. One Saturday afternoon, five young boys and a young girl set off a loud explosion (which was likely no more than a smoke bomb) right out in our courtyard. Smoke went everywhere. The entire neighborhood was engulfed in it. The message was clear: “Stop calling the police on us or we will blow up your house when you least expect it.” Such a plan had reportedly worked in a neighborhood in nearby Edgewood where the adults stay locked in their homes at night, while the street gangs run wild.

But, in Bel Air, the rowdy teens got a surprise. I remember hearing the explosion and running outside to grab my daughter and pull her inside. Out of the huge cloud of smoke emerged these six vigilantes with a smug look on their faces. “Guess we showed you,” they seemed to be saying. However, they were stunned to see seven or eight of us come running out of our homes in hot pursuit of them. And, these cowardly terrorists did what all cowards do; they ran! Again, seven or eight of us chased them down the parking lot, up the sidewalk, across the main road, and down into the business section. Now, I was a bit younger in those days and, as it happened, I was the fastest runner. I cornered them outside the Verizon building. Now, please understand that this was no act of bravery on my part. There was a crew of six or more men, some of them very large, coming up behind me as reinforcements, so it took no great courage to challenge the teens. They panicked and ran inside the building. By now, the air was filled with the sound of police sirens and it was, thus, no problem to go inside, identify the would-be terrorists, and have them arrested.

Afterwards, I sat on the uppermost of the sidewalk steps witnessing as the teens were read their rights, frisked, and handcuffed. And, I could see a look of terror in their eyes. They were like frightened children, which, in fact, they were. “What have we gotten ourselves into?” they seemed to exhibit.

Do you see what had happened? We had terrorized the terrorists. That event was nine years ago as I write this and we have not had a similar problem since. In fact, I have even been told that at least two of them have straightened out their lives, retained jobs, and are now raising families.

This is what needs to happen in any community, Christian, Muslim or whatever. When terrorists attempt to take over – implant a little terror in them. Underneath all of that intimidation, you will find a misguided, frightened child visibly trembling.

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