Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Koran is just another book

On Facebook, I got into an impromptu debate about this story:

Steve Hays No, they're not all Abrahamic religions. The notion that Muslims descent from Abraham is an Islamic legend. The notion that Ishmael was the son of promise (rather than Isaac) is theological fiction.

Steve Hays This is just standard Christian theology. I appreciate the message. People who are offended by the sign don't take any religion seriously. Every religion can't be right. In the name of tolerance, critics treat all religions as false by pretending that they are all equivalent, which is demonstrably not the case.

Steve Hays Coptic Christians are often martyred by Muslims.

Steve Hays How is singling out one group inconsistent with the message of the Bible? There's nothing wrong with prioritizing. "Singling" out a much bigger, more influential, more dangerous group. Especially a group that gets special treatment from the establishment. That's just countering how the establishment singles out Muslims for special treatment.

Steve Hays "True Christian": your objection is ridiculous. No one can be an expert about everything. Therefore, it's necessary to specialize to some degree. One Christian apologist might focus on Islam, another on Mormonism, another on Judaism, another on atheism, &c.

Steve Hays Again, your statement is absurd on the face of it. It takes knowledge to critique what's wrong with a particular religion, cult, heresy, theological tradition, or ideology.

Steve Hays No, talking about an "Islamic God" doesn't recognize the existence of other gods. It's simply a way of referring to what Muslims profess. Your objection is terribly naive. If we refer to Zeus as a Greek god, that hardly implies that we believe in his existence.

Steve Hays There's nothing hypocritical about "singling out" a group that really is different. As has been documented in Europe and Great Britain, Muslim immigrants create a hotbed for domestic terrorism. They import a rape culture. They practice honor killings and female genital circumcision. They demand Sharia law. And we see the same pattern emerging in American communities in the US (e.g. Michigan, Minnesota). Other immigrant groups don't have these social pathologies.

The political left and the religious left promote a false image of Islam. The church sign is merely a corrective.

Steve Hays We're not Jesus. Jesus is omnipotent. He has nothing to fear. By contrast, we have a duty to protect our dependents. And they are vulnerable to harm. Paul was required to suffer in part because he'd been a persecutor of the faith.

Steve Hays Caitlin, that's utterly confused. Just because Muslims and Arab Christians use the same word for God (Allah) doesn't imply that they refer to the same thing. Does "Caitlin Pratt" and "Caitlin Jenner" refer to the same person? Muslims have a different concept of God.

Steve Hays 

i) Yes, you're confused. Many different people have the same name. Sometimes the same first name, sometimes the same last names, sometimes both the same first and last names.

The fact that the same name is used hardly implies the same individual is designated. That's just elementary. 

ii) For you to say the Baptist concept of God is as different from another Christian "sect" as it is to Islam is absurd. Islam has a voluntaristic view of God. Allah's actions aren't characterized by an essential moral character. By contrast, the Biblical God is essential just, holy, righteous, &c. 

The Bible affirms the deity of Christ, which Islam denies. The Bible affirms the Incarnation, which Islam denies. The Bible affirms the Resurrection of Christ, which Islam denies. The Bible affirms penal substitution, which Islam denies.

Steve Hays Caitlin,

i) You're disregarding context. In context, the sign is referring to the Islamic deity. 

Since the sign is written in English, "God" is the word that English-speaking Christians normally use to designate the Christian deity. If it was written in French or Spanish or Chinese, it would use different words. 

Who is Jane Seymour? Among other candidates, an English actress, and the third wife of Henry VIII. Same name, different referents.Who is Graham Greene? Among other candidates, a British novelist, and a Canadian Indian actor. Same name, different referents. Who is Phil Johnson? Among other candidates, a founder of the Intelligent Design movement, and the Executive Director of Grace to You. Same name, different referents.

The same name has different referents depending on the context. That's not a hard distinction to grasp.

To take another example, theos can denote Zeus or Yahweh (in the LXX) or Jesus or God the Father. It's a question of context. The fact that the same Greek name can be used to denote Zeus or Yahweh hardly makes them the same deity. 

ii) In Islam, atonement is not a precondition of divine forgiveness. Divine forgiveness is an arbitrary fiat.

iii) No, "Islam" doesn't mean "peace" in Arabic. Rather, it means "submission". 

iv) Yes, Islamic jurisprudence. What's your opinion of female genital mutilation? 

v) Islam denies that Jesus is divine. Islam denies that the Son is coeternal with the Father. Islam denies the Incarnation, the death of Jesus, and the Resurrection of Jesus. 

In Islam, he's just a human prophet, inferior to Muhammad, who's the seal of the prophets.

vi) You don't speak for Arab Christians in general. Why aren't you more concerned about Muslims martyring Arab Christians as of 2016?

Steve Hays Caitin,

According to both the OT and the NT, humans are sinners. According to both the OT and the NT, homosexual activity is sinful. (Indeed, according to Rom 1, homosexual attraction is sinful.)

That's not a "sectarian" teaching. That's the consistent view of the Bible.

Steve Hays I'm not talking about "preachers". I'm talking about scholarly exegesis of the OT and NT regarding homosexuality. For instance, Robert Gagnon.

You can't find Jesus in a non-Christian. You can find common grace virtues in non-Christians.

I also notice that you're comparing what you consider to be the worst Christians with the best Muslim. Why don't you compare the best Christians with the worst Muslims?

Steve Hays Caitlin,

Asharite voluntarism is mainstream Islamic theology (a la Sunni orthodoxy).

Steve Hays You're equivocating on "divine messenger". That could either mean a messenger who's a representative of God or a messenger who is God.

Steve Hays Caitlin, it's funny how you presume to speak on behalf of Muslims and Christians alike. You have no authority to speak for Muslims. You're not a recognized religious authority in the Muslim world. Indeed, that's an understatement. Your representations of Islam have zero cachet in the Muslim world. 

Steve Hays 

i) The difference between Christianity and post-Christian Judaism is smaller than the difference between Christianity and Islam. Even so, there are fundamental differences between Christianity and post-Christian Judaism.

ii) I'm not defending Roman Catholicism. However, you did a bait-n-switch when you went from Baptists to Roman Catholics.

iii) There's nothing wrong with saying "Allah" is not our God when "Allah" is used in the context of Islam. The sign was clear regarding the intended theological referent. 

iv) You come across as a religious pluralist with strong sympathies for Islam. 

iv) It's funny when you deny that Islam means "submission" even though that's precisely how many Muslim websites define Islam. 

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Islam means "peace"? So what. That doesn't make it a peaceful religion. The Islam of the Quran, Sunnah, and Hadith is a violent religion. Consider Al-Wāqidī's classic work on the military campaigns of Muhamamd: Kitāb al-maghāzī.

This, in turn, lays the foundation for the jihadist tradition in Islam. Islam is a religion of peace in the sense that Islam is a religion of conquest. There is peace once the infidel has been subjugated and reduced to a state of dhimmitude.

Steve Hays Your Egyptian Christian friend has no reason to feel "otherized" by the sign inasmuch as the sign wasn't about Middle-Eastern Christians, but Muslims. It was using "Allah" in the context of Islamic theism, not the Christian theism of Arabic-speaking Christians. 

"If you were a linguist you'd understand the difference between aslam, islam, and tasleem."

And if you were a linguist, you wouldn't commit the etymological fallacy of supposing a word means what the "root" means. You need to bone up on lexical semantics. 

Violence is original to Islam. 

Funny you say I must be getting my info from an "ignorant Christian source group or Fox news" when I specifically cited Al-Wāqidī's work on the military campaigns of Muhamamd: Kitāb al-maghāzī.

Is that an ignorant Christian source?

What about Ibn Khaldun statement that:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force...It is (for them to choose between) conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death. (Muqaddimah, chapter 3.31). 

Is that an ignorant Christian source? 

Among others, Michael Nazir-Ali frequently warns about jihadist hotbeds in England. He knows Islam firsthand as a Pakistani native. In addition, he studied Islamic history at the University of Karachi. 

Is that an ignorant Christian source? 

Or consider The Early Development of Mohammedanism, a classic monograph by D. S. Margoliouth, Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford University. 

Is that an ignorant Christian source? 

Steve Hays You're equivocating. Religious violence is not original to Christianity, unlike Islam. That reflects a later development. Indeed, you're giving examples from the Middle Ages–about a thousand years later. 

No point saying "jihad means so many things" when I gave a specific example from a leading Muslim authority.

You're ignoring the fact that the Quran says contradictory things depending on the period of the surahs. As Muhammad gains power, he becomes more bellicose. 

I cite Ibn Khaldun because he's a representative Muslim spokesman. You yourself admit that's a legitimate source. So is Al-Wāqidī. 

There's no inconsistency in me citing things of which I'm critical, since the point is to document mainstream Islam–of which I'm critical.

Did I suggest he was criticizing Islam? No.

Steve Hays 

"muslims didn't kill you they simply taxed you if you didn't convert."

There's far more to Dhimmitude than paying the jizya. For instance, dhimmis can't testify against Muslims. So dhimmis invariably lose. 

Likewise, dhimmis can, and often are, executed if accused of disrespecting Islam in some way or another. 

BTW, you act like you're responding to statements I made about ISIS even though I haven't said anything about ISIS. You need to keep track of who said what instead of just lashing out. 

"attempts to further a political agenda that aims to deconstruct Islam above all other religions simply because our nation has a current inclination to hate Arabs and North African communities."

It's natural to focus on Islam when that's far and away the leading source of international terrorism in the world today. That's not "hatred". That's enlightened self-preservation. 

"Yes, you use legitimate sources- one of which doesn't actually criticize Islam as you use it as proof that Islam is violent but rather aims to explain how all religion is corrupted by man."

You willfully misrepresent Ibn Khaldun. He's explicit on the fact that spreading Islam by any means necessary is a religious duty. If that demands conversion by the sword, so be it. I cite him because he's a paradigm Muslim thinker. 

"political agenda of the war on Muslims and therefore the war on our national enemies."

You're enamored with the phrase "political agenda". Actually, this is an ethical agenda. There's a moral duty to protect innocent life. Pity you're so indifferent to the victims of Islam.

We're not at war with Muslims–Muslims are at war with us. We are forced to counterattack in self-defense. 

"But to slander those of another faith using inaccurate statements."

I haven't used inaccurate statements. Rather, I've cited Muslim primary sources.


  1. None so blind as those who will not see.

  2. These are great responses, Steve - do you have a link to the FB discussion?