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,

Grenville.

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 BrothersKeptApart.com 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.

Conclusions

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 Amazon.com linked here.

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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 BrothersKeptApart@gmail.com, or text or call 232-9783.  Please note that seats will be reserved until 5:50 pm.

Regards,

Grenville

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.

Regards.

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.

Regards,

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.