Sunday, September 7, 2014

Modern Christianity:
Are we really doing what Christ wants?

All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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What exactly is it to be a Christian? This is a question which has been asked by many people of faith and philosophers over the millennia; a question which is thought to have an easy answer. “A Christian is anyone who believes in Jesus Christ,” is the typical reply.  There are usually some codicils which follow depending upon one’s favored denomination, but all are agreed that in order to be a Christian, one must believe in Jesus Christ. Interestingly enough while that is a definite component, that alone isn’t what defines a Christian. To understand what defines a Christian, one must understand the definition of the word “Christian.” Believing in Christ is only a part of the answer. As James pointed out:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”
                                 - James 2:19
Over the years, I have read many critical pieces against Christianity by so-called atheists. (I say so-called not as a sleight, but only because I have never met any atheist who can possibly know for a certainty whether or not there is a God. At best, they should regard themselves as agnostic. It may sound a bit tamer, but it is vastly more accurate a designation.) This is not something to dismiss blithely; words do means things and when one opts to take such a definitive stance against that which they have no evidence to support, one is entering into the realm of …faith. Thus an atheist must rely on faith that what they choose not to believe is actually true.

Consider that our universe at present is thought to be infinite. We have dated the universe at approximately 14 Billion years, but even that isn’t necessarily correct. 14 Billion years is only as far back as we can see with present technology. Tomorrow there may be a method by which our ability to see light emanations which are too dim to see presently which will suddenly date the age of our universe to 20 Billion years, or perhaps even older. The raw fact is that at present, the true age of the universe is an unknown.

When one takes this view of our universe and then decides with absolute certainty they know all types of possible life which can exist in such an environment, such as akin to discussing Calculus with a preschooler. While the position of being an atheist may appear on the surface to be an intellectual, rational and logical choice, when one looks more deeply into the arguments from a purely secular perspective, such a limited position is laughably absurd. Is not one of the primary theories to explain how life migrated throughout the universe the theory of Panspermia?

This from Wikipedia:

Panspermia (from Greek πν (pan), meaning "all", and σπέρμα (sperma), meaning "seed") is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and also by spacecraft, in the form of unintended contamination by microbes.
My point is simple: to presume that there can be no other “higher life” in the universe – known or more importantly, unknown - than that which we are familiar, is an extraordinarily juvenile point of view. It is a view by which proponents of Atheism have distilled all higher life to that of humanity. Thus, no life-form greater than a humanoid construct could exist within this vast universe. If such a being does exist, it will most definitely be humanoid and suffer from the same humanoid-like limitations. Why would any person who tends towards reason and logic lock themselves into such a small box?

The answer to such a question comes from the experience of the individual who shares such a limited view. Almost without exception, those who hold atheistic views – especially in the West – are those who have been “hurt” by their belief in God. Most of the time this hurt comes in the guise of parents, mentors, people whom they’ve held up as examples, role-models who have fallen far short of the ideal. This then leads to confusion as the individual grows older and the natural questions about self and purpose of life begin to become more important. The answers are not easy to come by and it seems that too many others are more interested in helping themselves than helping their fellow man. Thus the initial message of unity and love is lost.

Typical of an atheist’s complaints towards those who regard themselves as Christians is that any who suffer from personal failings prove only what monumental hypocrites Christians truly are. After all, it usually is such behavioral failings from those who these atheists looked towards as role models which led them to reject their formative teachings respecting the existence of a god or “higher power” in the first place. But rather than a Christian taking a dim view of how an atheist discerns the character of an individual, it is far more instructive to explore their rationale.

This point is truly what this commentary is all about and how we who regard ourselves as Christians could learn so much from those who have decided that Creator God Almighty does not exist. What is it that a Christian can learn from an atheist about God you ask? Plenty as it turns out and the answer is so startlingly simple, some may marvel at why they hadn’t connected the dots for themselves earlier. What is it that I am talking about? Let me explain:

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
                                  - Luke 10:25-37
What is interesting to me about this passage is what Christ did not say was necessary to inherit eternal life. Consider that Christ did not tell him to fall to his knees and say the “sinner’s prayer,” did not insist he be baptized, did not tell him to give up all manner of behaviors, etc. Christ was very direct: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Character, not doctrine or dogma.

There is an old saying of by 19th Century British Author, William J. Toms, “Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”

It is natural for people to judge others by their behavior. This extends to all aspects of our lives. Thus one who goes about proclaiming they are a Christian are going to be viewed through a particular critical lens. Those who are not Christians, holding to no such beliefs in God, are still going to hold the Christian to a specific standard of behavior. This is a good thing as it is how we as Christians are supposed to behave; we are to be reflections of Jesus Christ. Evidently even the atheist looks at the behavior of the individual to discern whether or not they are truly Christians as claimed, or are mere “posers.” Let that set with you for a moment while you go on to read this old joke:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it." 
"Why shouldn't I?" he asked. 
"Well, there's so much to live for!" 
"Like what?"
 "Are you religious?"
 He said, "Yes." 
I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?" 
"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" 
"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
 "Baptist Church of God."
 "Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
 "Reformed Baptist Church of God." 
"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" 
He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915." 
I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

Perhaps it is just my peculiar sense of humor, but I find this joke funny. They say that all humor has to have a grain of truth to it to be funny. This particular joke has more than just a grain to it; it has a whole bagful of truth to it. Now look at the subtext of the joke and why it is funny. To an atheist, a Christian is defined by their behavior towards others. Even if they may not believe as a Christian believes, they will still recognize that there is something different about a Christian by that behavior. Now that difference might enrage them, or it might cause them to look at the Christian kindly; the salient point is that the Christian is displaying behavior they can clearly see and that matters.

Within the church, however, this model breaks down completely. To certain fellow Christians, there is a different dynamic at work. A fellow Christian will oftentimes not see their brethren’s behavior first and foremost as an indicator of their love of Christ; a fellow Christian will first begin to dissect what it is their brethren believe and whether it adheres to established doctrinal standards. Too often if their brethren do not believe as they have been taught, they will label said brother or sister as a “heretic” or “wayward.” First they will attempt to “instruct the wayward soul on their error,” but failing that, they will fall back and caution others that said brethren is really a heretic rife with error and are to be avoided. Soon enough if that brother or sister continues in their “obstinance”, they will be called Satan, turned out and shunned.

Why is it that a fellow believer will look at what a brother or sister in Christ believes respecting doctrine or dogma rather than how they behave towards others, while for the atheist it is the exact opposite? That is an intriguing question and I don’t know that I have an easy answer. To me, such need for like-minded belief in doctrine with my fellow Christians stems from simple fear. It is almost the same fear which the atheist possesses respecting the unknown. Both camps seem to so fear that which they do not know, that one camp has killed the source of their fears while the other has caged the source of their fears.

An atheist has decided that there is no God. While many of them are far more knowledgeable about the scriptures than are some avowed Christians, the atheist tends to place no specific import on doctrine. Hence, most of the so-called atheists I have talked to look less towards specific doctrine than towards behavior as proof of one’s sincerity of belief.

For the Christian steeped in orthodoxy laden down with dogma, this is simply unacceptable. No one can be a Christian unless a long checklist of prerequisites has been satisfied completely irrespective their behavior towards their fellow man. At best it will be said of such “wayward” people that, “He (or she) was a good person, but they never accepted Christ. It is a shame they will burn forever in hell.”

Here is a provocative set of questions which I would urge all my fellow Christians to consider: Why is it that so many atheists were once believers in Christ? What is it they saw or discovered within the teachings of the religion which caused them to reevaluate their belief? Why is it they lean less on doctrine than on behavior to determine the veracity of one’s Christian walk? Do not answer these questions too quickly as you’re likely to miss the point of my asking them.

This brings me to another point and that has to do with the change in our modern churches today. Long gone is the expectation of “putting on our Sunday Best” to go to church. Today in any typical church, one is just as likely to see people show up in jeans and a t-shirt as they are to see a three piece suit or a dress with a pearl necklace. Formal dress is gone from our churches for the most part. Why is that? To say that it is just “part and parcel of the times” is a dismissive answer. Behaviors bespeak intent. Do we show up in cutoffs or a bikini (as I saw on one young woman at a moderately large church service one Sunday morning recently) because we no longer hold any reverence for God? I don’t think so. I think the youth are beginning to view their relationship with God is a different light than some of us older people. They are beginning to see the point behind the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This is a problem for many in the church who remain fixedly rooted to tradition and orthodoxy. Why do I say that? Let me explain:

Since the days of Constantine the Great in the early 4th Century AD, Christian Orthodoxy has been defined by a set of rules established through what would eventually become seven Ecumenical Councils over the breadth of 450 years beginning in 325 AD. These Councils set down the rules and regulations which the Church would teach from the approved books to be placed within the Cannon, to just who God is. Much of what was chosen by this first council was decidedly “Old Covenant” in nature. Because of who and what Constantine the Great was – the Roman Emperor who ended the Tetrarchy and sought to knit the entire empire back together under just one Emperor, the teachings of Christ could only be used in the abstract. The Mosaic Law was far better suited to Constantine’s purposes than was the message of freedom in Christ.

The Catholic Church became a very powerful force on the planet, ruling with an iron fist. Very little in the way of dissent was tolerated, with offenders usually rewarded by a gruesome death for their trouble. In truth when one looks at rule under the Roman Emperors and the rule under the subsequent Vatican era during the end of the first millennium and the beginning of the second, one would have a difficult time seeing any real shift in behavior towards their fellow man; The Church was interchangeable with that of the previous Roman rule and their worship of the Egyptian Sun God, Amun Ra.

Yet with very little questioning, the modern Christian church accepts all that these councils gave them in the way of liturgy. All conclusions with respect to the understanding of God, the positioning of Christ and the substance of the Holy Spirit are accepted wholesale by modern theologians without question. Doctrinal theses have been written and accepted via peer review on various points respecting these conclusions. The authors of such writings are held up as august members of theology, and go forth teaching others. But what exactly are they teaching?

I have covered this particular ground before in previous commentaries, so I won’t belabor it here. I will say, however, that what doctorates in theology fail to recognize is slowly bubbling into the consciousness of today’s youth. With the inception of social media, communication has never been as widespread in human history. Whereas once information could be shielded from certain peoples, today such is nearly impossible. Even bunkered, totalitarian governments like North Korea struggle to keep out the flow of unwanted information. Thus when a pastor or doctorate in theology states with absolute certainty that one not accepting Christ audibly is damned to hell upon death (as I heard one pastor acquaintance of my state), too many today are fact-checking such absurdity and realizing the pastor is wrong.

Having an impact on today’s youth is the unyielding nature of other religions such as Islam. Here they are witnessing people of their same age demographic chopping off heads of others, raping young children and doing so all because of their god. Could their own blind allegiance to an uncertain religion lead them to act in a like manner? In Christian Orthodoxy, one need not ask such a question in the abstract; history has already answered that question for them with absolute definition. Besides the Holy Crusades, one can look at the Spanish Inquisition to the Salem witch trials. To be fair there were many Christians throughout these tumultuous times who set themselves apart from the orthodox teachings, but these were people who were few and far between. Additionally when they were discovered and then caught, they were dealt with harshly by their “Christian” brethren.

Suffice to say, Christ taught none of this aberrant behavior. Such is on par with the teachings of Islam or of the Old Testament, but not Christ. I bristle when I see supposed learned historians conflate the Old Testament with Christianity as though they are a part of one another. Christ was exceedingly clear that He came to fulfill the Law, making it null and void. (Colossians 2:13-15) To continue to recognize and teach that The Law is still in full effect is to deny Christ. Period. It is a tacit admission that His work upon the cross was of no import whatsoever. Christ, therefore, becomes a mere figurehead and nothing more. It is this incongruity which is starting to be realized by the youth today. Sensing this, but not quite able to articulate their feelings, they are leaving the church in droves.

The secular press cheers what they see as the death of God and religion in today’s youth. I can agree with them on only half of their point: It is clear that as our youth wake up to the lie of organized religion they are turning away and are instead opting for the purity of Christ. But have they killed God by eschewing such regions? Far from it. God seems to be an even greater factor in many of their lives today than ever before. The problem is that the traditional Christian religion cannot recognize, much less accept this fact. These pastors are instead borrowing tactics from Madison Avenue, repackaging their image so as to appear more palatable; more relevant and “hip” to today’s disaffected youth. Such a tactic will fail and fail monumentally. One cannot “paper over” the truth.

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
                                   - John 8:31-32

When church leadership denies the truth for fear of losing its power, it must realize that it has already lost the only power which matters, that of Jesus Christ. Such leadership, from the pastor and elders/deacon up to the formal head of that particular denomination, be it a small independent Baptist church or the Pope in the Vatican, none are teaching Christ. These are people who are teaching the religion of angels.

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
                                       -2nd Corinthians 11:13-15

“The word spoken by ANGELS was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.”
                                      - Hebrews 2:2

“Wherefore then serves the Law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by ANGELS in the hand of a mediator”
                                     - Galatians 3:19

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements [the real Greek meaning, στοιχεον, stoicheion, means spiritual entity] of the world, and not after Christ.”
                                     - Colossians 2:8

Sooner or later the truth will be revealed to all. As human beings, we’ve been given a very short time here in this plane of existence by which we are able to serve God in the most humble of circumstances. It isn’t easy, it isn’t always fun. Christ was very clear when he explained that as a Christian, life was going to be harsh.

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
                                    - John 15:18-19

Our native essence, our spirit, comes from God and is a part of God in eternity. Our present shells of flesh are firmly attached to this present realm and identify with this realm in an instinctual way. Orthodox teaching where Christianity is concerned is geared more towards the flesh than the spirit. Most Christian teaching deals very little with the spirit as under the present doctrines and dogma, the spirit is an unknowable mystery. One cannot teach what one does not know, thus the Old Testament Law and much humanism mixed with angelology predominates. It is this caustic mix of deceptive and hollow philosophies which Paul warned us about. It is this uneven philosophy which is beginning to prick the eternal spirits of our youth and they are beginning to take action.

No the modern church will not long survive of the multiple errors they continue to peddle as truth; the modern church will only survive when it decides the truth is more valuable to them than the lie. When we can look upon our fellow man and see in them the broken and needy child that God sees, we will finally understand our own role in this realm. When we can see our fellow man as a part of ourselves and of God rather than as a target, a tool for our own personal advancement, we will see them as God desires we see them.

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”

                                    - 1st Corinthians 13:11

Friday, September 5, 2014

Who are the real radicals?
All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Radical: adjective \ˈra-di-kəl\
: very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary

: very basic and important

: having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people.

: of or relating to the origin :  fundamental

:  very different from the usual or traditional :  extreme

- Merriam-Webster Dictionary  (emphasis mine)

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Dominating the news in the last several weeks have been reports of a group of Islamic terrorists that exist in and around Iraq and Syria variously called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) who have murdered thousands of fellow Muslims as well as those they regard as Infidels. Included in this recent spate of murders are the beheadings of two American freelance journalists. These beheadings were placed on YouTube for all the world to see. The executioner in the first video is a 23 year old British “rapper” turned Jihadist whose father once worked for Osama bin Laden. The West has been on edge as they have watched this group grow in number, acquiring materials and arms and issuing threats to create even more chaos and havoc than has already been manifest.

United States President, Barack Obama seemed quite taken by surprise when finally faced with the naked ferocity of ISIS after the videos of men, women and even small children were slaughtered, and their heads cut off and placed upon pikes for all to see. Despite National Security briefings offered to him for more than a year as to the critical nature of ISIS, Obama instead referred to them to the gathered press in January of 2014 as a “JV team,” (JV standing for Junior Varsity). The implication was clear: ISIS was not to be taken as a serious threat. As far as this president was concerned they were mere posers on the terrorist stage.

The press has been uneven with respect to their coverage as well. One looking on might believe that despite their cruel viciousness, ISIS should indeed be regarded as a minor player on the Middle Eastern stage. Others in the press seem to agree that they are a clear and present danger, but regard them as an anomaly; something “out of step” with Islam and Muslims in general. On its face, one would have to agree that such barbarism; such murderous behavior should indeed be a fringe belief. The problem is that it is not. Any minor student of history is well acquainted with the historical behaviors of previous Islamic Caliphates. Those same minor historians are also very aware that the behavior displayed by ISIS is completely in keeping with the teachings of the Qur’an. While the word, “Caliphate” may be new to some people, it is a well known theocratic system in Islam.

The word comes from the root, “Caliph” which is Arabic for the word, “successor.” The question then is asked, “Successor to whom?” The answer, of course, is the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam who died in June of 632 AD. In much the same way that the Catholic Church has retroactively installed the Apostle Peter as the first Pope, Islam retroactively installed Muhammad as their first Caliph. The difference is that while Peter never regarded himself as the head of the Church – deferring to Jesus Christ on that point, Muhammad had no reservations of taking on such a title or position. Regardless, the term Caliph was not used during his lifetime. It was not until the reign of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, the second caliph after Muhammad’s death that the term “caliph” came into use as a title of the civil and religious head of the Muslim state.

While this information might make for an interesting read for a history class, of what use is it here? Well the understanding why things are as they are is rooted in their formations. Muhammad had created a powerful movement in his day. Unlike many leaders of such a profound movement, Muhammad had the good fortune of enjoying the fruits of his labors for many years. However when he died, his lack of foresight regarding a successor eventually led to a split amongst his followers. It was a split not unlike that of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church (as opposed to the Catholics and the Protestants), but far more vicious. The salient point in this chronology is to highlight something very basic and fundamental respecting Islam which is lost on most in the West. It is this fundamental understanding which is causing the West – perhaps even including Barack Obama – to certainly underestimate ISIS in specific, but even Islam in general. What is it they are missing? Let me explain.

On September 11th, 2001, four 747 jets were hijacked by Islamic terrorists associated with the group al Qaeda. Subsequently, two of these jets were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center towers in downtown New York City in the early morning hours just as people were settling into their work day. A third jet was flown into the Pentagon complex in Washington D.C. The forth jet, which was thought intended for either the United States Capitol building, or perhaps the White House was instead crashed into a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania when certain passengers on board fought back against their attackers.

9/11 as it has come to be known has left a deep scar on the conscious of the world. Not since the Crusades has Islam made such a bold move against the West. It is a safe bet that most of the 2,977 souls lost on that day had scant knowledge of the Crusades much less the motivation which led the leader of this particular attack, Muhammad Atta, to pilot his hijacked 747 into the North Tower at 8:46 AM. This after a night spent with prostitutes and generous amounts of liquor – both forbidden under the Qur’an.

Why do I start a commentary which is supposed to give a balanced view of a particular faith with an example of one of its most egregious breeches of conduct in modern times? I do so because I do not believe the actions of al Qaeda on September 11th, 2001 are an anomaly within the tenets of Islam, but rather the fundamental actions of true believers. Such a stance is certain to upset many who regard the Qur’an as a Holy book and Islam as a truly peaceful religion unfortunately populated with small groups of fanatics who take matters to the extreme. After all, every religion has its kooks, fanatics; disaffected members who take certain aspects of their faith far too seriously and don’t understand that such religions desire we all live in peaceful co-existence. That may well be true for most religions, but Islam is decidedly a different religion altogether.

Islam stands apart from the world’s other two great “religions” to which it is most closely associated in a very stark way: Islam was not originally conceived as an entirely different message than that of Christianity; it was not intended to be an offshoot of Judaism or Christianity. Initially, Islam was intended to be an extension of Christ’s Gospel message. It is a certainty that few are familiar with this aspect of Islam just as it is a certainty most in the West who defend Islam are unaware how a gospel message could change so dramatically into the religion it has become under Islam. To answer the question of how and why, it is necessary to delve just a bit into some more history. Please note that there is much reverence which surrounds Islam and Muhammad’s name which you’ll find absent in this commentary. In examining various faiths—Christianity included, I dispense with such localized idolatry as it invites a particular bias. I intend only to give the facts.

Abū al-Qāsim Muammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim is the full name of an Arabic man from Mecca born approximately in 570 AD. We know him today simply as Muhammad. At the age of 40, Muhammad claimed he was visited by the angel Gabriel while he was alone in prayer in the cave of Hira near his home. This visit by the angel was the first of two revelations given to Muhammad before he eventually began to preach to the people about what he had learned. Three years passed from the time of this revelation and his public ministry. While there is no direct evidence to counter this claim, the three year span of time from revelation to preaching is very interesting due to its coincidence with another “preacher” within the Biblical canonical scriptures. I’ll go more into that later.

Muhammad’s time in Mecca was not good for him. The message the angel Gabriel had given him was a message of peace, a message of non-violence. He was given a message of compassion which ran counter to the tribal teachings found in Mecca in the middle 7th Century AD. Muhammad reflected these struggles in his writings. For example in Surah Al-Muzzammil 73:10, God tells Muhammad to be patient with his opponents "Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously." Such would certainly seem to stand opposed to the position of ISIS or al Qaeda towards those who are regarded as infidels. How can it be possible that these terrorists could treat their “opponents” so horrifically and obey the teachings of the Qur’an? How indeed.

After 13 years of suffering in Mecca with very little in the way of either earthly or spiritual success, Muhammad’s uncle and primary protector, Abu Talib, died leaving his nephew defenseless. This final loss caused the “prophet” to gather his small band of followers and flee for their lives; driven from Mecca due to threats of harm from other tribal leaders more than likely wary of his strange ideas and fearing a loss of their own power and position. Thus, Muhammad found himself exiled from his place of birth seemingly forever.

But on that long road towards Medina (approximately 286 miles distant), Muhammad began to take stock of his life. What he had preached for years had led to his banishment. The peaceable message given to him by Gabriel had become a cruel joke. How was anyone made better by being ridiculed, threatened, physically assaulted with many attempts made on their very life? Muhammad concluded that he had to have missed something. It is lost to history what exactly caused the change in Muhammad, but that there was a change is not in dispute. By the time he arrived in Medina, it was not long before he had begun to preach these changes, incorporating them in his writings.

No, Muhammad did not cease his writings with his change in attitude and in fact, his writings began to grow in length. The short, direct peaceable surah’s of Mecca gave way to long, ponderous and increasingly combative surah’s of Medina. Thus Surah Al-Muzzammil 73:10, "Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously." Was supplanted with Surah Al-Baqara 2:193, " And fight them until there is no mischief and be there worship of one Allah, then if they desist, there is no violence save against oppressors."

The tribal leaders in Medina looked upon this new message favorably as it mirrored local tribal customs. By embracing these various tribal customs in his writings, Muhammad gave their way of life some legitimacy. Based upon this, Muhammad’s fortunes soon changed in a dramatic way. Poverty and destitution gave way to plenty and position. Muhammad soon found himself the leader of these people of Medina and as his fame grew, so did his power. Many centuries later, an English Catholic historian, politician and writer named Sir John Dalberg-Acton would point out that, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Is this the same malady which now affected Muhammad?

One of the customs ubiquitous amongst the tribal people of Arabia in the 7th Century was to take multiple wives. Age was of no issue as the typical lifespan was approximately 40 years. Even without war, life was brutal and short. These were people who did not enjoy much in the way of luxury, essentially being nomadic. Marrying a young girl ensured many years of child bearing to a husband. Just as in the West, the Middle Eastern people recognized that there was strength in numbers and the more children the better. Because of the basics of biology, polygamy was not native to just the Middle East, but was practiced by most people almost world-wide in antiquity. Thus a man of means would take many wives to ensure he would have many children and raise his stature amongst the others in the tribe.

Muhammad eventually took 13 women and girls as his wives. Two of these marriages took place while he was living in Mecca. The remaining eleven women and girls were taken to be his wives after his arrival in Medina; another of the stark contrasts between the two eras.

Oftentimes in addition to the mere number of children, marriages (just as in the West) were arranged to join two clans and make them stronger. This brings us to the case of Aisha, Muhammad’s 3rd wife. Aisha was 6 years old when she was married to the 50 year old Muhammad. Aisha was the daughter of the close friend and another tribal leader named Abu Bakr. This alliance worked well for both men as in addition to giving Muhammad another wife, it joined two clans which averted any future potential warring. Upon Muhammad’s death, Abu Bakr became the first caliph.

It is of note that Abu Bakr wasn’t exactly excited about Muhammad taking his daughter at first:

Sahih Bukhari 7.18
Narrated 'Ursa:
The prophet asked abu Bakr for 'Aisha's hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said "but I am your brother." the prophet said, "you are my brother in Allah's religion and his book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry."
Many peoples of today betroth children to one another at very young ages. The Western mind has a difficult time grasping the concept of wedding children, much less a small child to an old man. In the 7th Century, however, it was more or less commonplace. Muhammad’s marriage to a 6 year old girl raised few eyebrows – if any. Regardless the prevailing customs of the time, the question most in the West have is to whether Muhammad was sexually attracted to his 6 year old wife. The best source as for the answer would be Aisha herself who wrote about her husband:

Sahih Bukhari volume 5, book 58, number 234
Narrated Aisha: the prophet engaged (married) me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, um ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became alright, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some ansari women who said, "best wishes and Allah's blessing and a good luck." then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah's apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.
Sahih bukhari volume 8, book 73, number 151
Narrated 'Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the prophet would call them to join and play with me. (the playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-bari page 143, vol.13)
Sahih Bukhari volume 1, book 4, number 231:
Narrated Sulaiman bin Aasar:
I asked 'Aisha about the clothes soiled with semen. She replied, "I used to wash it off the clothes of Allah's apostle and he would go for the prayer while water spots were still visible."

Regardless the whitewashing by his apologists, it is clear that Muhammad was sexually attracted to Aisha. To Muslims, this was a situation which had to be cleared up once and for all. In 2000, (1421 AD on the Islamic Calendar), The permanent committee for the scientific research and fatwahs (religious decrees) reviewed the question presented to the grand mufti Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Shemary, the question forwarded to the committee by the grand scholar of the committee with reference number 1809 issued on 3/8/1421 (Islamic calendar).

After the committee studied the issue, they gave the following reply:

As for the prophet, peace and prayer of Allah be upon him, thighing his fiancée Aisha. She was six years of age and he could not have intercourse with her due to her small age. That is why [the prophet] peace and prayer of Allah be upon him placed his [male] member between her thighs and massaged it softly, as the apostle of Allah had control of his [male] member not like other believers.

Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 7, book 62, number 17
Narrated jabir bin 'abdullah:
When I got married, Allah's apostle said to me, "what type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron." he said, "why, don't you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?" Jabir also said: Allah's apostle said, "why didn't you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?"  

Of course Islam isn’t all about sex, but it does go to the character and mentality of the “Father of Islam.” Several hundred years earlier off the coast of Italy on the Island of Capri, the Roman Emperor Tiberius was engaging in similar behavior with children which his countrymen found aberrant even within the decadence of Roman culture. It is thought by many historians that Tiberius’ mental state at this point in his life was degraded to such an extent that he was quite possibly insane. Could the same be said of Muhammad, or was he clear of mind, but just harboring certain predilections for young girls?

The Western mind-set has a difficult time with Islam and Arabic culture in general. These are a people who for the most part have lived in their lands for thousands of years. While there may not necessarily be a documented paper trail as we in the West create, these are a people who through stories can trace their origins much farther back than can the typical Westerner. Customs and traditions they have lived with which stretch back thousands of years are difficult to surmount. It was out of these cultures, traditions and practical realities that Islam was birthed.

In Judaism, God is referred to by various names. The name of God in Judaism used most often in the Hebrew Bible is the four-letter name יהוה (YHWH), also known as the Tetragrammaton. YHWH is more commonly known as the pronoun Yahweh. Is this God’s name? In Exodus 3:14, God simply says that he is I Am. So where do we get Yahweh? Where does Islam get Allah? Interestingly enough, both terms are mere transliterations for the term Eloh.

Eloh is another of those words which have led many astray due to a presupposition. Eloh on its face simply means god. Not a proper pronoun, not a formal name, but rather a title – a designation; a position. That is it; that is all. It is why in the open verse of Genesis, the original language says that, “In the beginning gods (the plural use Elohim being used here) created the heavens and the earth. It does not say, nor intimate that God Almighty created the heavens and the earth. Scholars for generations have fought over the meaning of this use of a plurality. It has generally been distilled down to two solutions based upon a presupposition only:

The first is primarily from a Jewish perspective: The use of a plurality to denote god in Genesis 1:1 describes the muti-fold spirit of God Almighty.  Thus it would more accurately read, “In the beginning, God in all His many forms, created the heavens and the earth.” While that is certainly plausible from the Jewish perspective, is it accurate?

The second is from the Christian perspective: Interestingly it is really not too dissimilar than that of the Jewish perspective when one dissects the actual meaning of both. “In the beginning, God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit created the heavens and the earth.”

One deals with the multi-fold spirit of God, the other describes the Trinitarian aspect of God. However, is that what is really meant or are we reading into the scripture – and the literal words used – something that isn’t actually connoted?

Consider that in the Gospel of John, chapter 8, Christ is talking to some Pharisees who believe in Him as the Messiah. Despite their belief, Christ calls them “children of the devil.” Why would Christ say such a thing? Was not it already established that these Pharisees believed in Christ?

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
                                        - John 8:31-47

Here Jesus paints a very stark contrast with respect to those whom the Jews regard as god and who Christ knows is God. The Jews had followed the teachings of YHWH or Eloh. Again these are mere titles of positions. A Western understanding of the term Eloh, Yahweh or even Allah would be President or CEO. In the United States, we have had 44 presidents to date, but they are not all the same person. President is a title. Emperor Nero was not the same as Emperor Diocletian, though both were Emperors of the Roman Empire. We immediately jump to a conclusion that because we see the term, “God” in scripture, it is referring to Creator God Almighty. Even a cursory read of the Old Testament scriptures absent this presupposition will leave one with the clear understanding that this is not what is being conveyed.

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul makes a very stunning declaration respecting the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and those whom control this present world:

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumscision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the Powers and Authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
                                      - Colossians 2:13-15
It is these Powers and Authorities which Christ really battled – and conquered. These same Powers and Authorities are also referenced in Ephesians 6:12. But what are these Powers and Authorities? Are they beings or are they just conditions of say … the human heart? Where in all this does Satan enter the picture? In Galatians 3:19, Paul explains that the Mosaic Law – the Law which was thought to have been given to Moses on Mount Sinai by God Almighty, was actually given to Moses by angels. (yes, that is a plurality being used) Luke expands on this event in Acts 7:35-38.

In Galatians 4:3, Paul explains the situation we exist under while here in the flesh. He says that we are in slavery under the basic Elements or Principles of this world. The word “Element” in this context is the Greek stoicheion, which means any first thing or principal. This is more than a mere philosophy; Paul is describing our rule under spiritual entities. These Entities are referred to as Celestial beings in 2nd Peter 2:4 and Jude 8.

So why is any of this germane to a commentary on Islam? It is germane for this reason: as I mentioned earlier, Islam may have been originally conceived as an extension of the Gospel message. Muhammad may have heard the Call of Christ to go forth and make disciples of all nations, but unlike the Apostle Paul who heeded that call on the Damascus road up to his death, Muhammad seems to have had a change of heart. It is at that pivotal point in his life which Muhammad chose to follow the basic Elements of this present world. In so doing, his message turned dark. Rather than share the Light of Christ, Muhammad became a messenger of death under the rule of these Celestial beings. These Celestial beings are and always have been what we would regard as Satan.

As much as God, Yahweh, Eloh, Jehova, Allah are not proper pronouns, but rather titles, so is the term Satan. It is not a name, but an adjective. Satan means accuser, or to accuse. Any number of beings can be Satan and have been over the breadth of human history. It is for this reason Christ said what He did to those Pharisees in John Chapter 8, it is why He wept over Jerusalem, wanting to gather them about Himself as mother hen would gather her chicks.
As Allah is in reality a Celestial entity, so too is the Jewish god. He is called Lucifer in the book of Isaiah, but Lucifer is a translation of his real name into Latin. Lucifer’s Hebrew name is Helel. Given the acrimonious relationship between the Jews and the Muslims, I have often thought about who Allah is amongst the Celestial complement. My best guess based upon a passage in the book of Enoch is a Celestial being named Yekun (or Jeqon which means “Inciter” Enoch 68:4), but that is mere speculation on my part. Suffice to say, neither “god” is Creator God Almighty. Just as Christ freed us from the Mosaic Law, so too did He free us from subsequent laws such as the Muslim Qur’an.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
                                     - Galatians 5:22-23
So what exactly is it the West is missing when we are looking at Islam? Is it the fact that Allah is nothing more than a malevolent spiritual entity? Partly. There is no doubt that not understanding the construct of the enemy has not helped to combat him. But what the West is missing in attempting to understand Islam is just how fundamental the teachings of the Qur’an are to Muslims.

The West, from historian to diplomats, errantly believe that those Muslims who go about terrorizing others, blowing people and themselves up, are somehow “radical” Muslims. This is absolutely in error. The radicals in Islam are those who defy the teachings of Muhammad.

Consider this: The Qur’an contains approximately 109 verses which call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Not taken into account are those contained in the Hadith (accounts of the acts of Muhammad by others) or Siras (biographies of Muhammad by others). These calls for violence are not contained within a specific time constraint, but rather are open-ended. What was penned 1400 years ago is still very much in effect today.

Surah Al-Baqara 2:191-193 "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing...
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful.   And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.  But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.”
 Surah Al-Baqara 2:244 "Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things."
Surah Al-Baqara 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."
Surah Al-i'Imran 3:56 "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."
Surah Al-i'Imran 3:151 "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority."
Surah An-Nisaa 4:74 "Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward."
Surah An-Nisaa 4:76 "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…"

And so on and so on. It was brought up earlier that the Meccan writings were not at all like the Medinaian writings in tone or content. That is true; Muhammad went through a transformation between the two cities. This leaves the West confused. Apologists of Islam always point to the Meccan writings to prove that Muhammad is being misunderstood and that he was really a peace-loving guy at heart. What the West is largely ignorant of is how Islam deals with the incongruent writings of Muhammad within the Qur’an. Much like with Judeo-Christianity, I suspect these “theologians” know the truth, but prefer the lie.

Within Islam is something called the Law of Abrogation. (al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh) Simply put, where Qur’anic verses contradict one another, the latter writing is the one which is to be obeyed, abrogating the former; the chronological timing in which a verse was written determines its authority to establish policies within Islam. This cannot be underscored enough. When those “Experts on Islam” in the West point out the peaceable verses within the Qur’an to prove it is not a violent religion, they are doing so out of ignorance, or deliberate deceit. In either case, it should nullify their self-appointed title of “Expert.”

In all faiths there are doctrinal “truths” which must be followed if one is an adherent of that faith. Christians follow specific tenets and doctrine as do Jews and even Muslims. A Christian cannot be called a Christian by denying Christ for example. A Jew cannot be called observant if they deny the existence of Moses. Following these basic doctrines is fundamental to that particular faith. Those who do not are generally called heretics or sometimes radicals.

When one takes the Law of Abrogation into account, the tenets of Islam become startling clear. Thus the true “Radicals” in Islam are those who seek peaceful co-existence with their fellow man. The terrorists of today - ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas, etc. - are Fundamentalists. Words mean things and Islam loves nothing more than allowing the West to believe that it is a mere fringe segment of Islam which blows people up. The truth is that were the Caliphate to actually come to fruition worldwide, the “Religion of Peace” would show its true face without having to hide behind such as the Law of Abrogation.

Another point lost on the West is their understanding of “The Religion of Peace.” The Western mind immediately connotes an image of true peace, or at the very least, détente; two peoples with widely divergent views being able to live peaceably side by side. This cannot be further from the truth with respect to Islam. Peace as defined by Islam is the absolute absence of any contrarian thought. Those who do not conform to the tenets of Islam are removed. Through such culling on non-believers, peace is attained. Thus the name is appropriate enough, even if the meaning is lost on most all of Western academia.

President Barack Obama refuses to refer to the latest group to rear its head, ISIS, by that acronym. Obama prefers to use the acronym ISIL. As I mentioned earlier, ISIL stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. What exactly is the Levant and why does Obama prefer ISIL over that of ISIS? Why does it matter?

The Levant is a geographical locale which comprises the Eastern Mediterranean. By referring to the Levant rather than specifically to Syria, Obama is tacitly rejecting the sovereignty of Israel as well as giving pass to Syria’s complicity. Understand that and be aware of his use of ISIL every time he uses it; Obama is essentially telling Israel they are illegitimate.

Surah Al-i'Imran 3:54  "And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers." 
Surah An-Nahl 16:106 "Whoso denies Allah after believing in Him save him who is compelled and his heart is firm in belief, yes whoso becomes infidel with open heart, upon them is the wrath of Allah and for them is the great torment.”

Barack Obama is lying about who ISIS is and what role Islam and the teachings of Muhammad have to do with the current state of affairs in the Middle East. Under Islam, it is fine to lie in order to attain the objective. This is another absolutely foreign concept to the West. Too many believe that Islam is just another form of Judaism or Christianity. Hopefully through the course of reading this commentary and looking up references, the reader has become aware that Islam is decidedly different.

Israel today is a secular Parliamentary Democracy. It was founded by a United Nations Charter which gave them their ancient land under the Abrahamic covenant as outlined in Genesis 17:8. A relatively recent poll of Jews in the United States figure as high as 50% of Jews are essentially atheists. (2001 Center for Jewish Studies) That they do not believe in God didn’t hamper their ability to observe their traditional customs, however. Such customs have become a part of their life and have no bearing on their belief. My point is that despite their belief (or lack thereof), Jews do not operate in a theocracy. Modern Israel is thus a totally secular state.

Contrast that with any Islamic kingdom on earth today. All are theocracies and rule straight from the pages of the Qur’an. This is an aspect of incongruity which cannot be lost on even the dimmest of academicians or the press in the West. Stunningly these “intellectuals” in the West are people who simply hold virulent anti-Semitic views and as the old saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The West has been poorly served by many of its academicians due to such blatant prejudice. Not only is the world aflame because of such lies, but today men, women and children are being slaughtered in huge numbers as a result; sacrificed on a pyre of Progressive Liberal ideology.

These same anti-Semites then blame the bloodshed on the Jews. “If only they would leave Israel!” is the constant refrain. To be clear, the entire Jewish population could set up camp on Mars and it would not stop the slaughter from Muslims against their fellow man. Jews may be a convenient scapegoat at present (and I believe there is a spiritual aspect to this which is unseen at present), but once removed, Islam would find someone else to target. It has to. Its very nature is parasitic.

What should the West do to counter the rise of the Islamic Caliphate? I am neither a diplomat nor a politician. There are many strong tendrils which reach deep into the fabric of the West’s relationship with the Middle East that are not easily severed. Politicians are creatures who operate solely on power. Without this power, they become non-entities; non-persons. Such people have no qualms of devastating any and all in their way on this quest for power. Thus, Faustian bargains have been made by a great many of them in their climb, never giving thought to the day the debt is called. Such people are wholly unable to do what is necessary to alleviate the growing threat because such people have already sold their allegiances for a “supposed” safe haven in the new order. Judas accepted 30 pieces of silver to do no less.

It is therefore the duty of the citizens of the West to educate themselves; to stand up to these traitors in our midst. Such people must be removed from positions of power and authority so as to preserve our Republic and our way of life. But more than that, to wrest free those still under bondage in the East under the cruel boot of Islam. The free West and the United States of America in particular – is still the last bastion of freedom on the face of the earth. Once we fall, so does the world.

We can pretend that Islam is a benign religion all we want; that there is no difference between Judaism, Christianity or Islam, but as has been demonstrated quite clearly in just this commentary, there is a huge difference. Christ came to free us from the heavy strictures and burdens of the Law – Mosaic or Islamic.  Islam insists on placing that heavy yoke back upon the shoulders of all and kill those who refuse. Even the most ardent apologist is going to have a difficult time conflating Christianity with Islam. When we willingly buy into the lie of “The Religion of Peace,” we become complicit in the murders committed in its name.