Category Archives: Islam

It Is Time For Christians to Fight Back

General John Kelly of the US Southern Command has reported that about 150 persons left the Caribbean region in 2015 to fight with Islamic State – the Islamic army that is killing Christians wherever they find them. He warned that Islamic terrorists may now choose to carry out terror activities in their home countries.

The mass-beheading videos by Islamic State appear to show Christians unresistingly kneeling before their executioners. Tragically, Christians were taught to submit to this barbarism by their religious leaders. Even after the televised mass-beheadings, Christians continued to be taught to submit to their oppressors while maintaining their faith until the end. Before a similar persecution is upon us, our religious leaders need to honestly discuss an effective Biblical Barbadian response.

Jesus’ Response to an Individual Oppressor

Jesus provided two responses to violence. The first was directed to individuals during their normal interaction with other individuals. Jesus advised His followers to essentially turn the other cheek and not resist such individuals. Paul advised Christians not to retaliate against oppressors since vengeance belongs to the Lord. The Bible teaches that God hears the cries of the oppressed, and that certain terrible judgement awaits the oppressors.

Those who organise the mass killing of Christians depend on the willingness of Christian religious leaders to convince their adherents not to resist the impending slaughter. Such religious leaders conveniently ignore Jesus’ second response to violence as they unwittingly cooperate with the oppressors.

Jesus’ Response to Terrorism

Jesus’ second response was directed to communities vulnerable to terrorism. A few hours before Jesus’ arrest, He instructed His disciples to sell some of their possessions and arm themselves with the latest weapon of war – the sword. The disciples obtained two swords and Jesus said “it is enough” (Luke 22:38), indicating that the armed should protect the unarmed.

And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”  So they said, “Nothing.”

Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.  For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”

So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”  And He said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38)

There is no contradiction with Jesus’ responses. While Jesus ministered, He was the lighting rod that attracted criticism and death threats. He preached openly, chased merchants from the temple, and defended His disciples from criticism. However, shortly before He was arrested, and would not be present to protect His disciples, He instructed His disciples to defend themselves (Luke 22:36).

While Jesus was being arrested, His disciples asked whether the time had come for them to attack with the sword. Jesus replied “Permit even this” (Luke 22:51), signifying that the swords were last-resort defensive weapons.

The murder, rape and enslavement of millions of Christians around the world over the past 2,000 years has been facilitated by religious leaders teaching pacifism. Jesus hated religious traditions that violated God’s commandments, and He publically insulted religious leaders who misled gullible adherents. Hear Jesus’ public response to such religious leaders: “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matt 23:33)

It is better if each person conscientiously arrived at their own response to potential terrorists now, rather than being forced to react immediately during such a foreseen event. While I respect pacifists who have honestly considered all sides of this issue before reaching their conclusion, let it be known that if I am overwhelmed by terrorists, I intend to go down fighting.

Best regards,


The biggest blunders in history.

In my 30 year study of history, I have read accounts of numerous blunders.  However, in my opinion, there are two historical blunders that have had particularly deep and lasting consequences.  What they both had in common was the ridiculing of a claim of truth.

Claims of truth should always be entertained and honestly examined with rigorous scrutiny.  If the claim is found to be true, then it can only enhance our body of knowledge and benefit mankind.  If the claim is found to be false, then the consequences of a blunder can be avoided.

Blunder number 1

The first blunder occurred approximately 1,400 years ago when Church leaders refused to honestly examine Mohammed’s claims of truth.   For 9 years, Mohammed preached a message that was similar to that of Jesus.  He encouraged his followers to believe in the One God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, believe the Biblical Old Testament Prophets, believe that Jesus is the Christ, believe the Gospel, and copy and distribute books of the Bible to other nations without compensation.

Mohammed did not appear to intend to start a new religion.  Rather, he seemed to want to start a Christian denomination with traditions which he considered to be more sustainable than those which he observed.  Therefore, in addition to believing and following the words of Jesus, he instructed his followers to: pray 5 times per day, fast, give to charity, and to congregate in Mecca at least once in their lifetime in order to ensure that their traditions were consistent with the truth.

Mohammed held discussions with numerous Christian religious leaders, but he was not accepted.  Therefore, Islam developed into an adversarial religion whose adherents are taught to ignore Mohammed’s explicit instructions. According to the Bible, Jesus defined eternal life as belief in One God and in Jesus as the Messiah.  The Qur’an instructs Muslims to believe in the One and only God, and identifies Jesus as the Christ.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

If Christians followed the Bible and Muslims followed the Qur’an, then there would be no theological differences between them, only cultural.  A Muslim who believes the Qur’an is a Christian, and a Christian who believes the Qur’an is a Muslim.  However, the Qur’an does not require Christians to read the Qur’an, only the Gospel.  See for further details.

For the past 1,300 years, Christians and Muslims have been kept apart because of their assumption that there are irreconcilable differences between the Bible and the Qur’an.  However, neither group appears to be willing to verify this assumption, instead preferring to declare that the other has been misled.

Blunder number 2

The second blunder was the response to Darwin’s theory of evolution.  Darwin had published ‘Origin of Species’ in 1859, where he proposed a likely explanation for the differences that he had observed within various species.  He supported his explanation with compelling evidence.  Therefore, his explanation for the differences within species can be considered a scientific theory.

From this rather solid base, Darwin applied his theory to propose an explanation for the differences between different species.  In reaching his conclusion, Darwin noted that his proposition required many generations of intermediate forms to be created before the appearance of a new species. He acknowledged that the evidence to support his views was not yet found in the fossil record, but he expected that the intermediate forms would be found following more extensive anthropological and geological excavations.

Darwin concluded that the discovery of abrupt appearances of species, without the gradual changes of modifications, would be fatal to his views.  See Evolution in the Balance for details.  During the time that Darwin published his views, scientific debate on the origin of species was dominated by the idea that God had separately created each species and that they did not vary. This idea was popular and generally accepted by his society.  Rather than honestly discuss Darwin’s ideas, he was scorned for challenging ideas that were generally accepted by his society.

Today, scientific debate on the origin of species is dominated by Darwin’s ideas, which are popular and generally accepted in western society.  Scorn is still reserved for those who challenge popular ideas.  The fossil records discovered to date show the abrupt appearances of species, without the gradual changes.  Despite the fact that Darwin’s stated fatal flaw has been realized, teachers continue to assume, and teach, that the evidence for evolution across species is as compelling as it is for evolution within species.


Hindsight vision is said to be 20/20.  This principle of hindsight should restrain students of history from unfairly condemning those who made blunders in the past.  However, while we can do nothing to change history, we can do something to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not perpetuated.  Therefore, Christian religious leaders should honestly examine the Qur’an before continuing their tradition of condemning it, and teachers need to honestly examine the evidence for evolution across species, before continuing the tradition of claiming that compelling supporting evidence exists.

Solving the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Over the past 40 years, proposals to end the Arab-Israeli conflict have generally specified the following two pre-conditions.

1. The Islamic nations must recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace in the region.

2. Israel must return the Gaza and West Bank areas.

These pre-conditions appear to conflict with the following aspects of Islamic and Jewish religious traditions.

1. Mohammed’s final command that only one religion must occupy the Arabian Peninsula; therefore, the Jews must leave.

2. Moses’ final command that the Israelites must occupy the Promised land, which includes Gaza and the West Bank; therefore, the Arabs must leave.

Previous proposals have largely ignored these religious traditions and have sought to apply political solutions to the symptoms of these religious issues. Islamic and Jewish political leaders are well aware that accepting their pre-condition would violate critical aspects of their respective religious traditions. Therefore, both sides appear to have negotiated in bad-faith in order to avoid the fatal consequences of making unpopular decisions.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin are reported to have been assassinated, because they were the first national leaders to formally accept the pre-conditions.  Until the religious issues are resolved, the Jewish and Islamic political leaders are essentially being forced to negotiate a compromise solution in bad-faith, because they are well aware that their respective populations will never agree to the negotiated terms.

Having studied the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past 30 years, I have found a workable solution to the conflict that resolves the religious issues and proposes an equitable political solution.  Essentially, there is compelling evidence to show that Mohammed never intended that the Jews to be driven out of Israel, and that God never intended that the Arabs be driven out of Israel.  The details are in the book: Solving the Arab-Israeli Conflict which is available on linked here.


Link to:  Discussion on Brothers Kept Apart

Public Presentation of Brothers Kept Apart

9781440116100_cvrDear Readers:

You are invited to a free public presentation of the concepts contained in Brothers Kept Apart.

The Book assumed that both the Bible and the Qurán were authentic, and then found harmony between their principal teachings without compromising the teachings, or damaging the integrity of any verse in the Bible or the Qurán.

The presentation is scheduled to be held on Thursday 18th June 2009 at the Grande Salle (Central Bank) starting at 6:00 pm.

Given the limited seating, you are encouraged to reserve your seat by e-mailing, or text or call 232-9783.  Please note that seats will be reserved until 5:50 pm.



The Audacity of Hope

9781440116100_cvr1.jpgDear Readers:

Christians and Muslims claim to serve the same God. However, Christian and Muslim teachers have convinced their adherents that God had rejected the other group. This has led to an acrimonious and sometimes violent relationship between Christians and Muslims over the past 1,300 years. Both of these groups believe that they will stand before the God of Abraham at the end of the age. Can these brothers, who have been kept apart for far too long, be reconciled before that time?

An Honest Look at Mohammed

Mohammed was born in 570 AD. He was an orphan and was raised by his uncle who was a trader. Mohammed also became a trader where he traveled from his home in Mecca around the Arabian Peninsula. When Mohammed was 25 years old, he married a widow named Khadīja and took no other wife during her lifetime.

When Mohammed was 40 years old, he reported receiving revelation from an angel. The message was that the Ishmaelites should reject their idols and submit to the One God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who was the God of the Jews and the Christians. His wife believed him, and she called her Christian cousin, Waraqa, who encouraged Mohammed that he was God’s prophet to the Ishmaelites, but to expect persecution.

Before Mohammed started preaching, Mohammed was financially well off, and he belonged to an influential family of the descendents of Ishmael. However, he risked it all and preached an unpopular message.

Mohammed’s Message

Mohammed started preaching in Arabia when he was 40 years old, and he preached a message of non-violence for the next 9 years. His message included:

  • return to the religion of Abraham, and worship the One God, who is identified as the one God of Abraham, the Jews and the Christians;
  • adopt responsible cultural practices;
  • believe God’s revelation sent to the Old Testament prophets, and recorded in the Gospel;
  • believe in the Messiah Jesus, who was born of the virgin Mary;
  • believe that there is a resurrection and a judgment where everyone’s eternal future would be determined;
  • believe that the Holy Sprit was sent to strengthen and guide believers;
  • reject the ways of satan; and
  • avoid the penalty of eternal hell fire.

Mohammed interacted with several Christian and Jewish religious leaders during his lifetime; however, many of them rejected him and his message. Mohammed’s message of returning to the One God of Abraham was very unpopular in the polytheistic region. It resulted in many family divisions, and severe persecution of those who forsook the dominant polytheistic religion. Many of his followers fled to Ethiopia in 615 AD to escape the persecution in Arabia. However, Mohammed remained in Mecca under the protection of his uncle.

From a Message of Peace to the Sword

Mohammed’s uncle and wife both died in 619 AD and to escape persecution, Mohammed fled from Mecca. Mohammed later declared that he was sent to humanity to call them to serve God alone. Later, he claimed that God had given him permission to defend his followers, and then to execute God’s judgment on the surrounding nations.

Mohammed sent letters to: Roman Emperor Heraclius, Persian king Khosrow II, Ethopian king Negus, the Egyptian king Muqauqis, and the kings of Uman, Yamama, Yaman, Bahrayn and Ghassani, warning them to submit to God or to face the consequences. After Mohammed’s death in 632, the Islamic armies would go on defeat most of these kingdoms, including the Persian and Roman armies. The Islamic army’s victories during the first approximately 100 years were as impressive as those undertaken by the Israelite army under Joshua approximately 1,000 years earlier.

The Compilation of the Qur’an

Mohammed did not write the Qur’an during his lifetime, but his scribe had written the dictated messages on hundreds of stones, bones, and leafs. Approximately 24 years after Mohammed’s death, the final written compilation of the Qur’an was completed. However, rather than order the compiled chapters chronologically, they were ordered generally from the longer to the shorter chapters. Of all of the books ever written, in any civilization of this world, and at any time in recorded history, the Qur’an is perhaps the easiest book to misunderstand and to misinterpret for three principal reasons:

  • its non-chronological ordering;
  • the end of the ‘Period of Judgment’ is not recorded in the Qur’an;
  • the Qur’an contains responses to various questions, teachings, and behaviors of Jews and Christians, but it rarely includes the questions.

Unverified Assumptions

These issues have led to Islamic teachers making the following unverified assumptions.

  • Since the initial 9 years of non-violent teachings appeared to conflict with the later retaliatory and ‘Period of Judgment’ instructions, then some later “violent” verses permanently replaced or abrogated some earlier more “peaceful” ones.
  • The ‘Period of Judgment’ or ‘Holy War’ is to continue until the end of time.
  • Since the Qur’an is responding in a negative way to Biblical teachings, then the Bible had to have been corrupted.

Understanding the Qur’an

These assumptions actually damage the integrity of several verses in the Qur’an. However, they have become entrenched in Islamic religious tradition for the past 1,300 years. Given these challenges, the proper interpretation of the Qur’an requires a working knowledge of the following:

  1. the Qur’an read in chronological order;
  2. the Books of the Bible, to which the Qur’an refers the reader;
  3. the historical biography of Mohammed;
  4. the development of Christian and Jewish religious traditions from the time of Jesus to the time of Mohammed;
  5. a history of Rome, Persia, and Arabia, whose activities are recorded in the Qur’an;
  6. the Islamic commentaries, in order to understand the Islamic traditional interpretations.

Brothers Kept Apart

After undertaking this research over the past 30 years, I have found that there is harmony between the principal teachings of the Bible and the Qur’an. Given that both Christians and Muslims claim that the same God was the principal author of their Book, then why should anyone be surprised that there is harmony between both books?  The research is titled Brothers Kept Apart.


Mysteries and Conclusions

Dear Readers:

There have been various behaviours, including environmental and human, that have baffled mankind for much of recorded history. Many of these mysteries have been subjected to rational analysis, and at this time in history, there are few mysteries that have not received a plausible explanation.

A conclusion should be preceded by an analysis of the evidence. Where a conclusion has been provided without the prerequisite analysis, then academics can be quite severe in their criticisms of the process. Their critical responses are appropriate given that various methods of analysis are taught at universities, and critical analyses can facilitate a high standard of research.

Sometimes the results of an analysis show that there is insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion. This can be difficult for some researchers to accept, especially those who believe that they are obliged to provide a conclusive statement by a specified deadline. This can lead to bad research where researchers make non-provable and improbable base assumptions, which, if unchallenged, can become the only significant evidence that is analysed in order to reach a conclusion.

Bad research can therefore occur when the integrity of the evidence is compromised. To reduce the risk of bad research becoming popular, qualified researchers generally critically review research work as part of the publication process.

The Bible has been the focal point of many conclusive remarks. The most derisive of them have come from university lecturers and their students, many of whom have concluded that the Bible is replete with erroneous statements and is an unreliable source of scientific and historical information. However, bad research is an increasingly common basis of their conclusive statements.

I have listened to, and been engaged by university lecturers and their students on discussions about the Bible over the past 25 years. To-date, I have not met a single university lecturer or university student who had criticised the Bible and who had actually read the Bible even once.

Their criticisms generally display an obvious misunderstanding that can easily be resolved if they would simply read the book. However, for some inexplicable reason they do not, but in the safety of their lecture theatres and classroom, they seem to use every opportunity to authoritatively make negative conclusive statements about the Bible that typically go unchallenged.

This is a great mystery. Why and how can persons who understand and teach analytical methods, and severely criticise those who do not use them properly, reach a conclusion while choosing not to review the evidence? How can such persons choose to boldly criticise what they have neither read nor understood? How can such persons choose to disbelieve what they simply do not know?

At a time when university students should be concentrating on their studies, university lecturers seem bent on influencing their students to reject their spiritual heritage and replace it with a selfish outlook on life. Why? What possible harm can believing the Bible, and the existence of God have on their studies or later careers? This must rank as another of the earth’s great mysteries.

The authoritative way in which some university lecturers criticise the Bible can leave some students disillusioned if they accept the view there is no God, no afterlife, no lasting meaning to life, and that all of life is by chance. They are encouraged to let go of the anchor that has benefited them and their communities so well and to hold on to nothing substantial in return. Those who have succumbed to this influence and have subsequently returned to God describe a life of regret and wasted years.

The criticisms and unfounded conclusive statements about the Bible will most likely continue. It is therefore prudent that persons read the Bible for themselves. It is also prudent that persons consider the cost of adopting a selfish outlook on life as they risk becoming old and immature due to the limited personal growth that occurs when chasing purely selfish objectives.


Grenville Phillips II

Avoiding Extremes

Dear Readers:

Very few people wish to be associated with persons or groups who have had their behaviour or beliefs labelled as extreme. Some popular terms that have been used to describe extreme behaviour or beliefs are: radical, far left, far right, liberal, fundamentalist, and extremist. Most people prefer to be associated with groups labelled as moderate, and for good reason.

There is a risk of negative publicity, victimization, or other forms of persecution if one is labelled as an extremist or belonging to a group classified as extreme. Labelling persons or groups as extreme is an easy and effective way of dismissing their ideas and dissuading other people from seriously considering their concerns.

People cannot define extreme positions in isolation, but in relation to other positions in a community. Communities generally decide for themselves what is normal and acceptable behaviour, and they are better equipped to determine what behaviour falls outside of the boundaries of acceptable behaviour for their community. Depending on the number and variation of positions within a community, it is possible that one person’s extreme right position may be another person’s extreme left. Even within a so-called far left group, there can be far right and far left positions. It is also possible that the community’s entire practises can be determined to be outside of another community’s boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

Therefore defining a belief, philosophy, or behaviour as extreme is a highly subjective practise with no universal rules for making the determination. It has become a mischievous tool used by irresponsible media persons, political activists, academics, and diplomats to dismiss the opinions of various individuals and groups as irrelevant.

Barbados has joined this irresponsible practise of recklessly labelling people and groups as extremist without any basis for making the assertions. It would be useful if their audience had the tools to determine for themselves what views were actually extremist using criteria that can be universally applied, rather than being influenced by one person’s subjective opinion.

Models based on principles is one method that can be used to identify a moderate position. Principals such as “harm”, and “help” can be the two extremes, and “do nothing” can be the moderate position. Testing this model reveals that the moderate position is not preferred if one’s neighbour’s house is on fire. Hence, if the community desires to be labelled moderate, then the moderate view must be the preferred option and it must lie between the two extremes. However, this model can become very complex if it could not be determined whether a short-term response would actually help or harm a community in the long term.

Another method is to define criteria for left, right, or moderate views. The main criterion can be the level of control that a state or organisation has on individuals, or the amount of responsibility that people are given to make decisions. With more state control, there can be less individual responsibility and vice versa. Both the state and the individual can make decisions that do not benefit the community and which can expose the community vulnerable to significant harm. The middle ground is one that balances both the state’s and individuals’ responsibility to the community’s good so that the consequences for significant harm to the community from both state and individual decisions are mitigated.

Both models are sensitive to changes in the political and social environment and would require monthly or sometimes weekly community surveys to determine, through public opinion, the location of the new moderate or middle position. The models are therefore impractical for universal application.

There is therefore no known working model to determine extreme or moderate views, yet persons continue to recklessly label groups as extremist. We may not consider the behaviour of some groups or individuals normal in our environment, but it may be considered normal in theirs. This is evident with some so-called “resistance” organisations the Middle East. We do not know what injustice, real or imagined, that has caused them to engage in what we may define in our community as unacceptable behaviour. Their current behaviour may not be based on facts or reason, but it may be pursued out of a perceived necessity.

What are these groups trying to say? What are their concerns? They are difficult to accurately define. For their views have been dismissed as extremist by influential persons, and their concerns have been clouded by their own propaganda efforts.

The Kingdom of God

 (Written Wednesday 4th June 2003)

Dear Readers:

We are currently in the middle of Jesus Week, which will culminate on Saturday with ‘March for Jesus’, an event celebrated by Christians in over 130 nations around the world. It therefore seems an appropriate time to respond to three questions. Who is Jesus? What does He want? Why is it important?

Jesus is a historical figure who is described in the Bible and the Koran as the Messiah. According to the Bible, Jesus is God’s Son who paid for the sins of all mankind by his death. He rose from the dead, and His ascension to heaven triggered a series of prophetic events, one of which will be His return to earth to judge all people for their behaviour.

Jesus wants us to accept and help each other, and to cultivate a personal relationship with God. He also wants us to develop mature attitudes towards our responsibilities, and unselfish motives for our behaviour. Depending on the quality of our political, corporate and social environments, behaving responsibly can lead to prosperity and influence, or to poverty and persecution. Jesus therefore does not want us to judge, envy, nor despise each other. We do not choose the environment into which we are born, but we have a responsibility to improve the environment where we live.

Why is this important? Everyone has a philosophy of life, or a primary reason for living, which governs his or her behaviour. Those who find it challenging to articulate their primary reason for living, define it through their actions. The most popular philosophy of life is survival, and it appears to have been adopted by individuals as well as political, corporate, and social institutions. The culture of this philosophy values the pursuit of pleasure, wealth, fame, and/or power. This philosophy is intrinsically unfair and has superficial winners and real losers.

Jesus offers a philosophy of life that is ultimately fair to everyone. This reason for living is described in the Bible as the Kingdom of God, and everyone who adopts the culture of this Kingdom finds fulfilment.

In God’s Kingdom, the focus is not placed on where you have gone, but rather on how you got there. Not on what you had but on how you obtained it. Not on what you did, but on how you did it. The process is much more valuable than the end result. The end result is illusionary since the desire for pleasure, wealth, fame, and power is insatiable. Focusing on the end result can be an effective motivating factor and related achievements can bring a measure of accomplishment. However, while such benefits are temporary, the process can be an eternal investment or an eternal liability.

People can obtain the same positions or possessions through both unethical and ethical means. In the Kingdom of God, the end never justifies the means.

School certificates can be obtained by cheating or through studying. Both approaches result in the same certificates. However, cheating is a liability while studying is an investment. Similarly, promotions and job opportunities can be obtained by bribes, prostitution, threats, nepotism, and political connections and contributions, or through cultivating a professional reputation through an adherence to high professional standards.

Material possessions can be obtained through gambling, bribes, prostitution, violence, threats, lying, and stealing, or through hard work and sound investments. Profitable businesses can be obtained through corruption, political association, exploitation of labour, spreading rumours about competitors, and negative advertisements, or through responsible management and marketing practises.

Sexual pleasure can be obtained through rape, fornication, and adultery, or with your spouse in marriage. A spouse can be obtained through deceit or honesty. Mistakes can be covered up, lied about, aborted, and blamed on others, or accepted.

Those who adopt the philosophy of survival are vulnerable to the temptation to compromise their beliefs, principles, or integrity in order to survive. Jesus noted that those whose primary motive was survival would ultimately lose their life. Jesus also promised that those who lost their lives for His sake and the Kingdom’s would ultimately find it. The stresses and disillusionment associated with the survival philosophy can be replaced with peace, joy and confidence, by trusting Jesus and entering the Kingdom of God.

The Middle Eastern Conflict (Suicide Bombers)

Dear Readers:

There have been many attempts to explain the reasons for the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in the US and their relationship with the conflicts in the Middle East. In May 2003, the Prime Ministers of Israel and Palestine met to attempt to negotiate a settlement to the conflict. Today we shall examine the reasons for the attack from another perspective through a process of inductive reasoning. Each of the questions posed is a necessary link to revealing a solution.

We shall start at the moment of personal decision by the perpetrators. Why would some Muslims choose to kill US civilians and commit suicide? What would convince them to sacrifice their education, families, and dreams for the future for suicide and murder? They do this because they believe that they will be martyred and receive a martyr’s reward. In the Middle East, they are known as suicide bombers.

I understand the appeal of being martyred. For Christians it is an honour to suffer or to die for Christ. I imagine that the Muslim feels a similar appeal to suffer and die for God. However, when Christians suffer or are martyred, they are persecuted or killed by persons who hate them because of their commitment to God. The Christian martyrs’ response is to love those who hate them and to pray for those who persecute them. Conversely, the suicide bombers believe that they will receive a martyr’s reward for killing other people and dying in the process.

The question that follows is: Why do suicide bombers believe that they will receive a martyr’s reward for murder? They believe this because they have been convinced through the teachings of their Muslim religious leaders. Why would religious leaders seek to convince their adherents that they would be martyred if they murder as many US civilians as possible and die in the process? They do this because the US government supports the state of Israel.

Why do Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East generally teach such a response to Israel and the US in this way? Recorded history describes Christians, Jews and Muslims coexisting in a Muslim dominated Middle Eastern region without major conflict for over 1,000 years prior to the 20th century.

Towards the end of the 19th century, some Jews began to agitate for a Jewish state and thousands began to immigrate to Palestine. Following World War 2, when the German government tried to kill all of the Jews in Europe, the Jewish state of Israel was established by the United Nations in Palestine in 1948, and many Arab residents were displaced. These actions resulted in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invading Israel and being defeated. Several wars were fought since then and each time Israel was victorious. Israel is now well armed and supported by the US government.

The Koran was used by political and religious leaders in the region to convince persons that they would receive a martyr’s reward if they died while carrying out acts of terror against Israel. Thereafter, thousands of faithful Muslims have been disqualified from attaining the honour of martyrdom because they were deceived into committing acts of murder and suicide.

Why do Muslim religious leaders feel it necessary to distort the teachings of the Koran to support an agenda of terror? They believe that Islam is threatened with a dominant Israel in a Muslim region. Why would they feel that Islam would be threatened when the Koran teaches that the Christian, Jew and the Muslim worship the same God? The Koran suggests that God first chose Israel, but Israel rejected God, so God chose the Christians, but the Christians also rejected God, so He chose the Muslims. It is therefore challenging for Muslim political and religious leaders in the region to reconcile their chosen position with their successive humiliating military defeats to Israel and Israel’s continued assertiveness in a Muslim dominated region. It is easier to blame their challenges on the US’s political and military support for Israel.

The displacement of the Palestinian Arabs contributes significantly to the instability in the Middle East. However, a solution should include an honest examination of the Koran by Muslims. It should also include forgiveness by Israel, the Islamic states, and the Palestinian Arabs since they have all killed their brothers, some in the false belief that they were serving God. If these two important elements are absent from a peace equation, then there will always be an uneasy, fragile, and distrusting truce rather that a lasting stable peace.

Understanding Religion

Dear Readers:

Two weeks ago, there was a published letter in response to my article on Pan-Africanism, where the writer used the opportunity to make certain anti-American and anti-Christian statements.

Recently I have observed a trend by some respondents to newspaper articles, where the writers introduce their own premises, falsely attribute them to the author with whose views they disagree, and then proceed to criticise their own premises. It may be that this type of response stems from a resentment of having their own ideas challenged, or a frustration of being unable to dispute the stated facts.

Since the letter writer was merely criticising his own premises, there is nothing for me to respond to. However his anti-Christian statements have revealed a disturbing misconception that needs to be addressed. It is the illogical assertion that if a person calls himself an adherent of Christianity, and behaves contrary to the teachings of Jesus, then Christianity is at fault.

It is often difficult to understand a religion by the behaviour of its adherents, especially those who follow the interpreted traditions of religious leaders rather than the stated precepts of their scriptures. How can one hope to understand Islam by observing the Islamic resistance groups and suicide bombers who claim to be devout Muslims? How can one hope to understand Christianity by observing the Klu Klux Klan who claim to be devout Christians? While these and other groups claim to be religious, their behaviour is clearly contrary to the precepts of their religion.

History is littered with men and women, who have claimed to be religious, but who have committed or sanctioned inhumane atrocities that are inconsistent with their religion’s teachings. Does this mean that there is no value in the teachings of their religion?

Most religions have provisions for justly governing a society, and they have contributed to the social, economic and political development of various nations around the world. Unfortunately some religious leaders are led astray by greed, and tempted with the glory of power. Some who have succumbed have subsequently gravely misrepresented the ideals of their religion, resulting in the development of some irresponsible religious traditions and practices.

Jesus’ harshest words of warning were not for people who were making mistakes as they struggled to do what was right, nor for those who purposely gave into the temptation to do wrong. His harshest words were for religions leaders who took the simplicity and beauty of God’s message of love for all people, and transformed it into a complex, boring, distasteful, burdensome and controlling exercise that was to be practised by people whom they approved. Here is a sample of His words from Matthew Chapter 23.

“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. Woe to you, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. You travel land and sea to win one convert, and when he is won, you make him twice a son of hell as yourselves. You also outwardly appear righteous to men but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. How can you escape the condemnation of hell.”

Predictably, the religious leaders plotted to kill Him.

What is God’s message for all of mankind? God wants us to know that He loves all of us, and that He understands our struggle to do the right thing when we are tempted to do wrong. Like any good Father, he longs to forgive us if only we would accept responsibility for our misdeeds and be genuinely sorry. However being a just God, He must punish all misdeeds. Since the punishment is severe, Jesus, like a good big brother, agreed to accept this punishment on behalf of all mankind, regardless of the religious banners that they happen to fall under.

God now invites all people, regardless of their religious beliefs or moral state, to know Him as their Heavenly Father. He also desires that we demonstratively love each other by sharing.

Islam in the Balance – Part 3

Dear Readers:

This week we shall address the third and final argument that the Koran appears to use to give Muslims a reason to distrust Christians. This is that Christians worship Jesus the Messiah.

As noted in the first and second articles of this series, the Koran teaches that Muslims must believe the Jewish and Christian scriptures. We also learnt that Jesus encouraged the people to obey the scriptures read by the religious leaders but not to follow their hypocritical behaviour. We reasoned that Mohammed likely encountered a similar Jewish and Christian religious leadership.

The prophets of Israel foretold the coming of the Messiah. Both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Koran reserves the title “Messiah” for Jesus alone. The Jews do not believe that Jesus is He. Who then is the Messiah and should He be worshipped?

The Israelite prophets described God’s righteous servant who had a close relationship with God. This servant would become an offering for sin, and would be given authority to rule all nations with justice. Why would the Messiah need to be an offering for sin? To understand this, we need to go back approximately 3,300 years to Moses.

When a person sinned, they were to personally sacrifice the best bull, goat or lamb that they possessed to pay for their sin. The priests offered sacrifice on behalf of the person and sprinkled the blood of the animal around the altar. If the person could not afford any of the above animals, he was permitted to bring a dove or a pigeon. Leviticus 7:11 states “For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” A similar practise seems to have been performed by the patriarch Abraham approximately 600 years before, as evidenced by Isaac’s enquiry about the sacrificial lamb (Genesis 22:7).

There seems to be a law of God that states that every sin has a cost and must be paid for or atoned with the blood of an innocent. The person had to sacrifice the most healthy and unblemished animal, analogous to using a clean towel to wipe up a dirty mess – the cleaner the towel, the cleaner the result.

The Messiah is described as the Lamb of God upon who accepted the sins of the whole world. Jesus is described as being the sacrifice to atone or pay for the sins of all mankind, and his blood was spilt around the cross where He was crucified. A relationship with God could not be sustained if there is sin that is not atoned. Provision was therefore made for a personal relationship with God without a ceremonial ritual; a relationship so intimate that it is described as God becoming our Father, and we His adopted children.

There are many teachings in the Bible that are not contained in the Koran. However, Mohammed did not deny the Biblical teaching that Jesus the Messiah died to pay for the sins of all mankind. Nor did Mohammed deny that due to this provision, all mankind, including the Ishmaelites, could be adopted into God’s family.

The Biblical book of Revelation, which is consistent with the prophecies of the Israelite prophet Zechariah, describes a scene in heaven where Jesus appears to God after He has been sacrificed. Those around God’s throne then sing “For You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Then all creation praised Jesus for His accomplishments.

Worship appears to be a combination of one’s attitude and action. It is described as bowing to the extent of lying prostrate, humbling oneself and acknowledging one’s relative position. It is essentially a mark of the highest respect. The Bible and Koran forbid the worship of any angel, man, animal, plant or created thing, yet the Bible describes Jesus being worshipped at His birth and during His reign, and describe Him as the Son of God.

The book of Revelation declares a mystery about God which will be revealed at the end of the age. If we accept this, then the issue of Jesus’ special relationship with God may be one of those mysteries that may have to remain in the balance until such time as “the mystery of God is no more.”

Islam in the Balance – Part 2

Dear Readers:

Last week we addressed the first of three main arguments that the Koran describes to justify an apparent distrust of Jews and Christians. We reasoned that it was conceivable that God sent Mohammed to invite the Ishmaelites back to a relationship with Himself.

Today we shall address the second argument, which is that the Jewish and Christian religious leaders knowingly falsified their religion and made it inconsistent with the religion of Abraham. We shall examine whether it is likely that the teachings of the Jewish and Christian religious leaders, around the time that Mohammed was alive, were consistent with their faiths.

Abraham was called a friend of God, which essentially describes the personal relationship between himself and God, a relationship to which Jews, Christians and Muslims aspire. When the Israelites strayed from this relationship, God considered their behaviour adulterous, and sent prophets to invite them to return to Him. God summarised their behaviour through His prophet Isaiah: “These people draw near to me with their mouth and honour Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me, And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

When Jesus arrived approximately 2,000 years after Abraham, he found a respected religious leadership. This leadership effectively controlled the people through strict adherence to religious traditions that were inconsistent with their faith. Jesus summarised their behaviour by saying: “You have made the commandment of God no effect by your tradition.” The harshest words found in the Bible are actually mentioned by Jesus, and are reserved for religious leaders who distract people from a personal relationship with God in this manner. Here is a sample of His words from Matthew Chapter 23.

“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not lift them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. Woe to you, for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. You travel land and sea to win one convert, and when he is won, you make him twice a son of hell as yourselves. You also outwardly appear righteous to men but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. How can you escape the condemnation of hell.”

Predictably, the religious leaders plotted to kill Him.

Approximately 600 years later, Mohammed appears to have encountered a Jewish and Christian leadership that exhibited similar incongruous behaviour. He noted: “They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides God. Verily there are many of the rabbis and monks who devour the wealth of the mankind in falsehood and hinder them from the way of God. O people of the scripture, why do you mix truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while you know.”

The behaviour of the Christian religious leadership described in the Koran, is not inconsistent with that described in a reading of Church history between 300 and 600 AD. The dominant Church leadership of that time, appeared to concentrate mainly on religious doctrine and ritual, amassing wealth, and pursuing state political power.

The behaviour of these religious leaders was therefore not in accordance with their faith. However, that does not mean that their faith is corrupt. Despite Jesus’ very harsh words, He still encouraged the people to follow the scriptures taught by the religious leaders, but not their corrupt or hypocritical behaviour.

If the Koran’s distrust was intended to discourage the Ishmaelites from committing the same error as the Jews and Christians, then it would appear to be justified. This error being that they allowed themselves to be controlled by religious leaders, who distracted them from a personal relationship with God by burdensome religious traditions. One of the roles of religious leaders is to liberate people to cultivate a personal relationship with God their Creator, not to attempt to control them. The most effective actions for resisting a controlling or hypocritical religious leadership are for persons to cultivate a personal relationship with God and to read the Bible for themselves.

Next week we shall address the third argument – worshipping the Messiah Jesus.

Islam in the Balance – Part 1

Dear Readers:

Following the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings in 2001, there has been considerable debate on Islam. Some argue that it is a religion that is used to justify acts of terror against Jews and Christians, while others argue that it is a religion of peace. I therefore obtained a copy of the Koran and read it.

The Koran, while acknowledging exceptions, does not generally view most Jews and Christians positively, and Muslims are not encouraged to trust them. The Koran uses three main arguments to justify this apparent distrust. In comparing the teachings of the Koran with those of the Bible, it seems that these arguments can be effectively addressed. It is my sincere hope that addressing them will lead to a dissolution of much of the distrust that has existed between these three religions, a distrust that has at times been allowed to fester into hatred with predictable results.

Today, we shall focus on the first of the three arguments. It results from the perception that neither the Jewish nor Christian religions formally accepted that Mohammed was God’s prophet or messenger. We shall therefore examine whether it is likely from the Jewish and Christian perspectives that Mohammed was a prophet sent by God. To make this determination, we need to start approximately 4,000 years ago with the patriarch Abraham.

According to the Biblical account, God called Abraham to be a father of many nations, inter alia, because of his commitment to passing on good cultural values to the next generation. Abraham and his wife Sarah were old and Sarah was barren, so Sarah allowed Abraham to go into her maid, Hagar, who conceived and bore Ishmael. When Ishmael was 14 years old, Sarah also conceived and bore Isaac. Sarah then asked Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away so that Ishmael would not share in Isaac’s inheritance.

Abraham was very disappointed since he loved his first-born; however, God promised Abraham that He would make Ishmael a great nation. God also made this promise to Hagar before and after she was sent away. Isaac later had a son called Jacob whom God later renamed Israel. When Jacob was 15 years old, Abraham died and was buried by both of his sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

For the next 2,000 years, the Israelites frequently engaged in irresponsible cultural practices and rejected God. God however remembered his promise to Abraham and frequently sent prophets to call them back to a relationship with Himself, and to encourage them to follow responsible cultural practices. Approximately 2,000 years after God called Abraham, Jesus the promised Messiah was sent.

God promised that He would make Israel a great nation, and sent prophets to them when they strayed from fulfilling their purpose. God also promised that He would make Ishmael a great nation. It is therefore not inconceivable that He would also have sent prophets to the Ishmaelites if they strayed from fulfilling their purpose. If we accept this reasoning, then the question that begs an answer is: was it likely that Mohammed was one of those prophets sent by God to the Ishmaelites?

Mohammed essentially encouraged the Ishmaelites to return to the religion of Abraham and worship one God, who was the God of Abraham, the Jews and the Christians. He also encouraged the Ishmaelites to adopt responsible cultural practices. He further admonished them to believe in the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospels, and to believe in the Messiah Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary. Mohammed also warned the people that there was a resurrection and a judgement where everyone’s eternal future would be determined.

Since what Mohammed preached is not inconsistent with what the prophets to the Israelites preached, it is conceivable that God sent Mohammed as a prophet to call the Ishmaelites back to a relationship with Himself. That Mohammed was not recognised as a prophet by Jewish and Christian religious leaders during his lifetime should not distract the Ishmaelites from pursuing a relationship with God. However a festering distrust of or hatred for another group of people does not encourage such a relationship.

Next week – the second argument.