Go to: => TOP Page; What's New?; ROAD MAP; Contact Us; Search Page; Emmaus Ministries Page
A Judeo-Christian Response & Offer to Muslims
Come, Let us Reason Together
on Truth, Righteousness, & Love
F. Earle Fox
See sermon, "What I Learned Yesterday about Islam" & Islam Library
Two different things are at stake: The response to Islam is intellectual, but the response to Muslims must be a testimony of love. Christians must find a way to combine those two. That is our hope below. "No Compromise of Truth & No Dilution of Love", as reads a t-shirt from the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Placentia, CA. The unity of truth, righteousness, and love must be maintained and lived out at any cost to ourselves.
In talking with Muslims, we must never attack or go after "Allah". Christians can accept the word 'Allah' as the generic Arabic name for God, as we do in English with 'God'.
The theology is a different matter. The theology ascribed to Allah we believe to be false, but we worship both God and Allah..., if we accept those as proper names for the same true deity. What Christians must critique is the theology ascribed by Muslims to Allah, not Allah Himself, which would be an implicit acceptance of the reality of their version of Allah.
I title this piece "Judeo-Christian...," not because I think Jews and Christians will have exactly the same response to Muslims, but rather because Jews and Christians have the same basic view of God as Creator and Sovereign, and views of the personality of God which are very close to each to the other. Christians believe that the Messiah has come in the person of Jesus, but at the same time, everything Christians believe has its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jews and Christians have differences with Islam on almost identical grounds. So Jews and Christians must unite in the global struggle to meet the advances of Muslims in their very unfriendly quest for world domination.
I believe also that the Muslims are not acting on their own, but that they are puppets of, bought out by, Globalist interests, being used Gramsci-like, to create chaos in what is left of the Christian West.
Whoever God is, He defines Himself, we do not define Him. We can define only the words we use to speak of Him, such as 'God' or 'Allah'. God defines His own nature and His own will for us. Honest spirituality means an adventure of truth-seeking to find out the truth of the matter -- in the directions of both reason and revelation -- which in the Bible are wedded, not in conflict.
Reason, the intellectual side is largely (1) the metaphysical plus the logical, and rational quest - to ascertain whether there are any logically necessary qualities the true God must have, and if so, what they might be -- the Cosmological Argument for God.
And the testimony of love has more to do with (2) revelation - those aspects of the will of God for us (His law and the Good News) which we can find out only by hearing from Him.
If a code of law or of morality is defined by a will which is free (as with God), then that code of law need not have been what it is, God could have chosen something different. So we cannot know beforehand the will of God, that is, until He reveals it. That is true of all persons, some things about them we can observe outwardly, or guess at, but to be sure, some things we just have to be told. We often ask, for example, "Why are you doing that?"
In the case of God, His will is not determined by circumstances outside of Himself, but by a will which is free to choose anything at all that is not self-contradictory. The whole universe of logical possibility is the playground of God, His sandbox. That is the meaning of the omnipotence of God, He is capable of doing anything that is logically a candidate for being done. No other being in the cosmos can make that claim because all other beings are His creatures, and therefore have powers subordinate to His.
Metaphysical Undergirding - our Being
What, then, do we mean by the word 'Allah' or 'God'? The answer to that will largely decide the metaphysical issues.
The Bible means by the word 'God' the one who is (1) Creator of all that is, and, (2) therefore Sovereign over all that is. Pagan religions did not typically relate the moral order to the will of their deities. That was a new thing in Biblical religion, which is why Biblical religion is often called "ethical monotheism".
Our fundamental contingency is on God for our very being. The primary good for these created beings, ontological stability, stability of our being and personhood, is therefore a provision that only God can supply (though others may help as channels of the mercies of God). The first and primary good is our ontological stability, the ability to be ourselves in the presence of God and of each other.
In the Biblical world, God is the metaphysical foundation of all else -- a God with freewill, an "uncaused" cause who then causes all other existing things, i.e., His creatures, reflecting the Imago Dei, to exist along with Himself.
God is "He Who Is", He who exists eternally and in an uncaused way. God has no ancestry. But He is the causal explanation of all else that does exist. His being Creator logically makes Him also Sovereign.
So far as I know, Muslims would agree on these points. The word 'authority' comes from the word 'author'. The author of something has author-ity over it (as we recognize in patent and copyright laws) to decide its purpose for existence, how it will be used.
Biblical believers and Muslims therefore agree, for the most part, at least, on the metaphysical foundations of true religion -- a Creator who is therefore absolute sovereign over all the creation.
Where we differ, and substantially so, is in the area of revelation, the will and law of God. How does God, or Allah, intend us to behave, and How does God intend to relate to us as His creatures? That God is Creator and Sovereign we agree. How God or Allah exercises that sovereignty is the place of disagreement.
We find two widely differing and incompatible answers.
Morality & Revelation - Obligations & our Doing
The second necessary good (after stability of being) for created beings is moral stability, knowing the difference between right and wrong -- having and knowing a purpose for existence which is reasonably able to be accomplished.
These two stabilities, ontological and moral, provide our basic foundation for personal security in a contingent, and therefore changeable, world. The restoration of those two stabilities, which we lose in the Fall, make a good definition of the word 'salvation'. We are restored in our ability to be ourselves fully, and in our sense of purpose and reason for being, our moral direction.
God defines the meaning of those two stabilities, but God gives us the freewill to choose obedience or rebellion.
A helpful distinction is the difference between what might be called the "good" versus the "right" (for details, see The Law & the Grace of God, section A-3). The "good" is that which is life-enhancing, supportive, helpful. The "right" is that which is obligatory. In this scheme of things, the good and the right are two different (but compatible) things. That which is life-enhancing, the good, might not be an obligation. The good was not an obligation among pagan people. A universal command to love one's neighbor would have been incomprehensible -- especially if "one's neighbor" meant anyone who happened to be in near proximity, as the beaten man on the roadside became neighbor to the Good Samaritan. The pagan world typically thought of selfless love as foolish and unproductive. And, in the pagan world, they would have been mostly correct.
The Biblical world is quite different. When Jesus declared loving one's neighbor to be the second highest commandment in the cosmos (Matthew 22), He made the good to be obligatory, not just a "nice idea". Loving one's neighbor means doing good for them. We are commanded by God to do the good, that which is life-and-relationship-enhancing for one another.
Love, then, becomes our over-arching reason for existence. God is building a community of love between Himself and His creatures. The idea of such a community was also virtually unknown in the pagan world. The world was eat-or-be-eaten, with no space for unconditional love, except rarely as between individuals, often warriors, loyal to each other. But the pagan world reserved doing good for one's friends, not for one's enemies.
The "good" has to do with the nature of beings who are created free, made free in the Image of God. Created beings are, by definition, contingent upon something outside of themselves, their Creator, for their very being, let alone for their welfare and happiness, thus making them vulnerable to outrageous slings and arrows of ill fortune. The command to love our neighbors creates an obligation for each of us to help our neighbor through that minefield of dangerous happenstance -- the Fallen world -- all the way into the Kingdom.
The Muslim Allah is free in a manner quite different from the freedom of the Biblical God.
In Islam, God is seen as totally arbitrarily sovereign. In His dealings with humans, He accepts upon Himself no restraints of either reason or morality. He accepts no restraints of logic or fact, and no restraint of loving any given person. He is able and quite willing, apparently, to do whatever His whim desires. Except for a few very clear commands, the determination of God for our eternal futures is shrouded in mystery and doubt. One cannot know whether he is saved or not -- because the judgements of God are inscrutable.
Thus, Muslims understand themselves to be bound to follow God, to obey without explanation from God. 'Islam' means 'I submit', meaning submission without question, without debate, without "reasoning together". The leap of faith, so far as knowing whether Allah has one's good in mind for the future, is totally blind. Only, apparently, in cases such as one's own dying in the killing of an infidel is there any assurance of making it to heaven. That kind of self-sacrifice, apparently, merits the favor of Allah so that He will allow entry into the Muslim heaven. Other than that, there is no blessed assurance.
The Muslim fury responding to Pope Benedict XVI's remarks about the Muslim Allah not holding Himself responsible for either truth or morality underlined the truth of that statement. Those who worship a deity who acknowledges no restrains upon Himself in dealing with His creation are likely to manifest those same failures of common decency in their relationships with others.
The Biblical God is equally unrestrained by external forces. As Job notes, there is no law above the God of the Bible by which He can be called to account, no Umpire who can drag God to court. God is capable of doing whatever He wishes, just as the Muslims imagine Allah. But -- the Biblical God, in an astonishing act of charity and generosity, requires of Himself the same love towards His creatures which He requires of them toward each other. He loves them. He cares for them. He is willing to pay an extraordinary price for their salvation.
There is no parallel to the Suffering Servant poem of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 anywhere in Islam. (Or, to be fair, anywhere in all the world.) The idea of God committing Himself to human beings in that personal and costly manner is totally foreign to the Muslim mindset, and might be considered blasphemy
On the Biblical view, the true God, by whatever name people might call Him, is not a criminal deity. The true God cannot be commanded or obligated in any way. Some Muslims (and others) use that truth in a manner that pries the love and mercy of God out of the picture, leaving only a distant and unfeeling deity -- all law, no grace, no love, no good. But the true God obligates Himself to truth, righteousness, and love. The author of Hebrews (6:13 ff.) addresses this issue. Islam attributes to God (Allah) behavior which by any just standard is criminal behavior.
Muslims who attribute such behavior to God commit blasphemy. In places where Islam predominates, it is not uncommon, for example, for Muslims to lock Christians in their churches and to burn the church down around them, as seen in pictures of burned bodies shown on the internet. One sees Muslims dancing and singing when they hear of Christians being killed or maimed.
There are Muslims who seek the true good of their neighbors of a different religion, but unless they are show their friendship by openly and forcefully exposing and apprehending violent Muslims, putting their own lives at the same risk that Christians and others are, they are not to be trusted. Where the traditionally violent Muslims predominate, friendly Muslims are silenced or themselves disposed of.
Islam breeds such terrorism partly because of the character painted of God, with a totally arbitrary definition of the "sovereignty" of God, as the Pope said, not binding Himself to either truth or righteousness. Such arbitrary authority has a devastating effect on both men and women, but especially by raising up men who think themselves lifted "above" reasoning by their obedience to Allah. They, like their deity, hold themselves accountable neither to truth or morality. Such a view also tends to embed deep anger and hostility in the souls of men who, whether they admit it or not, fiercely resent their arbitrary, unreasoning submission to God. But they have to displace their anger against God onto the "enemies" of God. Such a hyper-masculine deity has no feminine warmth or closeness. He is emotionally cold and distant. (See Law & Grace in Imago Dei, Part II, Section I-3-a, "Arbitrary Authority".)
Response: Firm & Graceful
How can Christians, or others, respond to these traditionally violent, unreasoning Muslims? We must say to them:
If you want war, war you shall have, on any battle field of your choosing: military war, psychological war, culture war.
Or, the best of all, an open, honest, mutually respectful contest of ideas on a level playing field, based on the available objective evidence. Each side admits that there is a possibility of their being wrong on some point, that none of us is infallible. As we work together for the truth, the Lord of Truth will guide us toward a deeper and deeper unity.
So, take your pick. If you are truly brave, truly men and women of courage, you will choose that which puts your religion open to testing with other religions by honest rules of evidence, that is, scientifically. The cowardly refuse the risk, and retreat behind arbitrary authority.
If you choose a violent contest, some on our side may die on the battle field, gladly giving our lives for the truth and the Lord of Truth. But any who persist in subverting honest truth-seeking will die, never knowing the real truth, the true God, the Source of all life. God invites us to "come, let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18) Only those who accept that invitation will, in the end, inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
So, if together with God, we choose an honorable, mutually respectful contest on a level playing field, we will begin a process of living together in unity -- as truth-seekers before position-defenders. And, as with Elijah on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18), the true God will show up and prove His own case.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Date Posted - 09/01/2010 - Date Last Edited - 01/12/2013