Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Refuting three common Muslim misconceptions about Christianity

I want to make the readers aware of three common and rather typical Muslim claims purposely promulgated to subvert and undermine the crediblity of Christian faith and character.

It amazes me how these deceivers manage to distort a book and text, which they hardly know nor understand:

Did the Apostles believe Jesus to be insane?

The first relates to the personality of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verse 21:

'When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind"'

Some Muslims apologists have mistakenly been swayed toward the opinion, that Mark depicts Jesus as a mad personality.

However, noticing that Mark is simply pointing to a sentence uttered by Jesus' own family this claim hardly supports the claim that this constitutes an apostolic perception.

Mark is neither confirming nor stating that Jesus was insane. The passage makes even more sense when perceived within it's context. There was indeed a reason why his family uttered the sentence: 'He is out of his mind'.

Verse 20 clarifies this:

'Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat'

Hence the 'He is out of his mind' utterence was not a specific reaction to Jesus as a person, but rather it records a blaze reference, to an occasion in which he set aside his physical need to minister to the people.

Did Jesus portray Christianity as a violent religion?

A second claim relates to the judgement of the nations; when Jesus in his second coming brings judgement upon his enemies.

But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them her and kill them in front of me (Luke 19: 27).

Muslim apologists have ignorantly purported the passage to portray a violent Christianity. However, the passage ascends the Christian religion.

Firstly, the passage belongs to the parable of the 'Ten Minas', and does not reveal direct description of an event.

Furthermore, despite the fact that the parable includes Christians, e.g. the 'three servants', those executing the judgement appear to be a group distinguished from these and are referred to as ‘those standing by’.

Finally, the parable does not refer to a Christian event, but a futurist, imminent and divine judgement; the closest analogy is Luke 9: 26:

‘If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels’.

Both Mark and Matthew relate to this event as a time of future judgement:

The Son of Man will send out His angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of sins (Matthew 13: 41-42)

As in Luke 19 these angels executing the judgement are distinguished from the actual servants (Jesus followers), about which Matthew records Jesus saying the following:

‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear’ (Matthew 13: 43)

Here, these Muslim apologists seem to confuse Christianity on earth, in the Christian era with future and divine judgement, executed by divine coming and angelic intervention.

Did Paul the Apostle encourage deception?

A third misconception is rooted in the Muslim failure to understand a Pauline saying in Philippians 1: 17-18:

'The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing they can stir up trouble for me, while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.'

Some Muslim apologists reiterate that Paul is encouraging Christians to utilize deceptive tactics and lies in their propagation of the Christian message. However, this is not what Paul is indicating.

Paul refers to certain individuals who preach the Gospel from a wrong motive; he is not describing deception or lies; but rejoices that at least the Christian message spreads among the people; after all, it’s the Christian message, the response of the listener and God who saves and transforms the sinner which matter, fairly much more than the actual messenger.


GreekAsianPanda said...

Another one I've seen that falls under the third section is 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, which reads:

"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

Some Muslims contend that Paul is advocating the use of deception when preaching (DISGUISING oneself as a Jew, identifying oneself as a Jew, and infiltrating their synagogues to convert Jews to Christianity, for example), but the actual meaning is simply that we should change our manner of approach when preaching to different groups -- becoming "like" them.

When we preach to Hindus, we are supposed respect their customs and practices. The preacher, when eating with Hindus, must not offer them food or drink he has already bitten or sipped from, must not sip from a water container that will be used by others, and just not contaminate others' food, because purity of food is important in Hindu culture. Also, the preacher must not offer anything with the left hand, either, or walk into a Hindu shrine or a Hindu's house with their shoes on. Is doing all this deceptive? Certainly not. The preacher, by becoming "like" a Hindu, is simply making it easier for the Gospel to be received. Imagine if the preacher had started a conversation with a Hindu by putting out his left hand (which is considered impure) for a handshake. This would be taken as a subtle insult. You wouldn't start an important conversation with an insult, would you? As one can see, it is extremely important to be "like" the person to whom one is presenting the Gospel, because the Gospel is what saves the person. So it must be communicated clearly and without hostility, and doing that is not deceptive at all.

Hogan Elijah Hagbard said...

Yeah that's another one

BluePenny said...

When muslims bring up Lk 19:27 and claim it is a command for Christians to kill people, I ask them this:

If it was meant as a command, show me a follower of Christ in the NT who followed this so-called "command". Nobody who heard him tell this PARABLE seemed to think it was any sort of direct command. Nobody from the listening crowd ran out and grabbed an unbeliever to kill them in front of Jesus.

goethechosemercy said...

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
end quote.

Would Islam ever make the same claim? No.
Christianity is not a totalizing ideology.
Islam is.

minoria said...

Thank you Hogan and Greekasianpanda for the information.I am always on the lookout for more information for articles.

I know the claim Paul was a liar is common in Muslim litterature,it would be necesary to sooner or later write an article on that issue.

John 8:24 said...

Has anybody read this interview of Geert Wilders by Der Spiegel?,1518,727978,00.html

I incidentally read this a couple of days ago and my I was outraged to see the reporter use the Luke 19:27 ploy on Wilders. Wilders obviously didn't know how to respond. I wrote a feedback to the editor to apologize and retract the question. I don't have high hope that it will happen.

John 8:24 said...

Here is my feedback to Der Spiegel. Any comments?


I am shocked! Who is the reporter interviewing Mr. Geert Wilders? It's outrageous!!! Does the interviewer have any sense or understanding of the passage in Luke 19:27 that he blatantly misrepresents? ("But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me.")

1) The verse quoted is part of a parable (a story) that Jesus tells (starting in verse 11) 2) These words are of a man of noble birth who appointed himself a king within that story (verse 12) and NOT directly from Jesus!!! 3) Even if one takes the allegory of Jesus referring it to himself as the king in the story, the story refers to the return of the king i.e. second coming and end time judgment after the return of Jesus. 4) The noble man in the story is asking in verse 24 "those standing by" (i.e. allegorical for angels see Matthew 13:41,42) and NOT his servants to carry out the judgment 5) Could the reporter show me one Christian theologian anytime in the last 2000 years who has used this verse as an imperative for Christians to kill non-Christians? 6) Seriously, how many Christians have quoted this verse and then blown themselves up or committed acts of terrorism? I have never heard or seen a single one.

However, I would like to point out you can not apply the same argument to violent verses in the Quran. They are not part of parables, are in imperative form and have always and are still being taught as such by many Muslim imams all over the world. Many terrorists have used those verses and left a recording of themselves before committing acts of terrorism. How clear could it get?

The clear imperative teachings of Jesus are: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43) "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." (Matthew 5:38,39) Jesus not only taught this but unequivocally displayed this in his life. I challenge the reporter to provide a similar unequivocal teaching and example from Muhammad in the Quran.

This is a completely dishonest representation of Jesus by the reporter in order to trick Mr. Wilders!!! Before asking Mr. Wilders like a know-it-all didn't the reporter manage to read the entire passage? Did he really not know the simple fact that it is part of a story? Did he not know that it NOT Jesus who is directly speaking here? How dare he smear Jesus in this way?? (If he did that with Muhammad he would be in trouble). Any person who does not have a sound knowledge of the Bible would be made to believe that Jesus is indeed asking his disciples to kill non-Christians. Many might not go back and look it up for themselves. I demand an apology, a formal retraction of this particular question, and reprimand the reporter of either intentionally smearing a religious figure followed by 2.5 billion people or lazy enough not to do his / her homework. This is not about criticism of a faith or a religious figure but this is about honest reporting. I hope Der Spiegel is honest enough to retract and provide clarification to its readers.

minoria said...

Hello John 8:24:
You did a good deed in explaining it was all part of a parable.

Wilders doesnt know the whole NT.I would have said,that besides being part of a parable Jesus says the 2 greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor like yourself.

Also that Jesus,in the sermon on the mount said:"The law and the prophets are to do to others as you would have them do to you",which is the Golden Rule,the basis of human rights.

Islam does not have the Golden Rule as its ethical heart.

Unknown said...

"The one preach Christ of contention (selfish ambition), not sincerely (not for the Christs sake and the kingdom of GOD), supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence(for selfish reasons rather that JESUS and love), or in truth, Christ is preached; and I theein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. THESE PREACHING FOR THEIR OWN GAIN WERE PREACHING THE TRUE GOSPEL BUT FOR THE WRONG REASONS. They were not lying about the gospel only their hearts and ambitions were in the wrong place (NOT IN LOVE!)