Friday, February 23, 2007

The Certainty of Fanatic Muslims


Link

One of the numberless surveys conducted these days reports that 52% of the people in the western world (not just the U.S.) think the issue with Muslims is political and can be resolved peacefully; 29% think it is a religious problem.

I am part of the minority because diplomacy, whether conducted by Democrats or Republicans, can never settle the religious differences that are driving us toward disaster. If nothing changes, we’re going to have a nuclear war simply because:

1) The “fanatic Muslims” won’t care whether Republicans or Democrats run the United States! When they are ready, they WILL use nuclear weapons against “Islam’s enemies,” which they perceive as “God’s enemies.”

2) The “fanatic Muslims” will use those weapons because they devoutly believe they will be doing “God’s Will,” by cleansing the earth of “unbelievers.”

The dark, cold “nuclear winter” that will follow a “nuclear war” will fulfill the Biblical descriptions of a time when “…the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light” (Matt. 24:29); when “…darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples” (Isa. 60:2).

If, however, you don’t believe in Prophets and prophecies, you certainly don’t have to think about them — until the darkness happens. Then, if you’ve survived, you’ll have plenty of time to think. Until then, go ahead and blame Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, Jews, Israel, Iran, Syria, or anyone else that strikes your fancy — except yourself! After all, what could you have done to prevent the war? Obviously, the “fanatic Muslims” have no right to expect you to alter your religious beliefs or unbelief. Besides, you have no reason to reconsider, much less discuss, your personal beliefs with anyone. You’re not forcing others to agree with you and you don’t want others to force you. You just want to live and let live, and you’re sure everyone should do the same.

Because, today, “everyone” doesn’t believe in “live and let live,” I’ll suggest what you could have done, so you can think about it in the darkness. You could have learned how to turn your heart to others, as the Prophet Malachi plainly said we must do, to avoid the darkness (Mal. 3:24/4:6). But, to honestly “turn your heart” to the “crazy Muslims,” you will first need to turn your heart to the One God revealed by ALL the Prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. You’ll be desperately praying to Someone in the “gross darkness” — why not try learning about the God Who foretold it? If enough of us enlarged our understanding of Him, we wouldn’t have to suffer the darkness!

So, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or someone in another nation “rooting for” a particular political party to win control over the “dangerously aggressive” United States, it’s time to carefully question whatever you believe and disbelieve. Then, you could finally do what you’ve never done before: Learn from ALL the Prophets sent to enlighten and warn you. Their COMBINED teachings would greatly enlarge your understanding of the God Who, long ago, precisely told us what our stubborn ignorance would bring upon us! An enlarged understanding of Him would deprive the “fanatic Muslims” of their crucially-needed certainty that you are an “unbeliever.”

4 comments:

Ken said...

You left a copy of this post as a comment on a posting on my blog. In kind, I will leave my reply as a comment on your original posting.

Thus: Well, that made for an interesting read. A misinformed read, to be sure, but an interesting read all the same. Let’s review:

One of the numberless surveys conducted these days reports that 52% of the people in the western world (not just the U.S.) think the issue with Muslims is political and can be resolved peacefully; 29% think it is a religious problem.

I would agree that the problem is with religion, but that is not to say that you and I would agree (despite being a part of the same minority). The issue is not so much a problem with “religion” as a vague and generalized concept of the divine, but with a specific religion, its tenets, and the application of those tenets as carried out by its followers.

Religion as a concept is not the problem, and indeed is little more than a natural expression of the evolved human ability to perceive that something exists beyond the empirical and the natural. Various interations on the concept of what that hidden divinity might involve have emerged over the centuries (Chesterton’s writings on the ancient pagans is quite enjoyably relevant here), and some religions (one in particular) have come much closer to understanding the Truth of that divinity than others.

The problem is that one of the — and I say this next part in a very charitable spirit — somewhat less True religions has been built up out of a pre-medieval tribal culture that, instead of allowing itself to be shaped by the revealed word of God (as the Hebrews did) instead attempted to conform an idolatry of the Hebrew notion of God to that tribal culture. The result is a faith that continues, to this very day, to by misogynistic and violent, resistant to any and all attempts at reform and becoming more radicalized with each passing year…a trend that is strongly in contrast with any other religious system on the planet!

I am part of the minority because diplomacy, whether conducted by Democrats or Republicans, can never settle the religious differences that are driving us toward disaster.

I’m Canadian, so forgive me if I say I really couldn’t care all that much less about Democrats or Republicans.

But then, what religious differences are there to “settle”, as you say? It this going to turn into one of those long rants that concludes with a call to univeralism and a sort of meaningless cherry-picking of different religious texts?

Because, you know, that wouldn’t undermine the credibility of your argument in serious theological circles at all, eh?

If nothing changes, we’re going to have a nuclear war simply because:

1) The “fanatic Muslims” won’t care whether Republicans or Democrats run the United States! When they are ready, they WILL use nuclear weapons against “Islam’s enemies,” which they perceive as “God’s enemies.”

2) The “fanatic Muslims” will use those weapons because they devoutly believe they will be doing “God’s Will,” by cleansing the earth of “unbelievers.”

Well…yeah, to a certain extent, that could very well happen. Muslims have already shown that they’re more than willing to use every orthodox and unorthodox form of conventional weapon against “the West”/”the infidel”/”the Jews”, have they not? Semtex, shoe bombs, suicide belts, backpack bombs, airplanes, ships loaded with explosives, guns, knives, and more besides have all been used in the cause of “jihad”, and continue to be used in the same cause.

Muslim political parties in the Middle East get elected on platforms that included non-recognition and/or the destruction of the state of Israel. The President of Iran simultaneously refuses to back down on a nucler technology development program, and simultaneously makes sweeping statements about how Israel needs to be wiped from the map. And this in a nation whose ayatollahs have previous stated that the “Israel problem” will be “settled forever” once the Muslim world develops a nuclear arsenal.

You’re a typical leftist debater at this point, jane B., in that you’re resorting to the tried and true tactic of repeating back the other side’s statement to them…and…er…then just leaving it there. Do you think articulating the opposite viewpoint somehow magically refutes it without subjecting you to the arduous mental task of actually composing an effective counter-argument?

The dark, cold “nuclear winter” that will follow a “nuclear war” will fulfill the Biblical descriptions of a time when “…the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light” (Matt. 24:29); when “…darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples” (Isa. 60:2).

You’re quoting out of context, just a little bit. It is certainly true that Jesus teaches that darkness will cover the Earth for a time during the tribulations that are to shake the world prior to His return…but do take note that in the larger context of the passage you cite only in part (i.e. Matt. 24:3-35) Jesus is speaking of how Christians ought to respond to the signs of the times as they are brought on by influences outside the body of the faithful.

And that is almost certainly how it will go down.

I can understand the desire — nay, the need — of the left to attempt to paint all religions as being equal (whether equally good or equally bad is left up for grabs depending on one’s personal views of the previously rejected “vague” notion of “religion”); it’s a necessary side-effect of the seduction of the multiculturalist ideal.

But all religions are not equal, and a complete reading of Matt. 24 would illustrate that nicely, especially when contrasted against the multitude of Koranic Suras that teach that the Muslim must fight the unbeliever wherever he is found. Because in Matt. 24, Jesus teaches Christians to be watchful for the signs of the times, to flee wickedness, and above all to take hope in the knowledge that though the world may pass away, the reward of the faithful cannot pass away. Ultimately, it’s a message of peace and hope, not of war.

Indeed, your pitiful attempt at quoting Isaiah illustrates all too well the danger of “cherry picking” the Bible, because again you’ve missed the context of the passage (Isa. 60 in its entirety — I can understand if that’s too many words for one sitting). Here too, the message is hopeful and peaceful, exalting the glory of the Lord and the fruits of salvation at the end of times of darkness. Indeed, Isa. 60 begins with the words “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”, and continues on that theme from verse 3 onward.

If we take your limited quotations and accompanying assertion at face value, then we should bet on two things:

1) Muslims will start the tribulations that signal the end of time
2) Christians will come out of it just fine, and will enter into salvation as Jesus has promised

Was that what you were aiming for?

If, however, you don’t believe in Prophets and prophecies, you certainly don’t have to think about them — until the darkness happens. Then, if you’ve survived, you’ll have plenty of time to think.

I do believe in the Prophets…at least the ones I find in the Old and New Testaments. I don’t believe in all the prophets, however…and if you need a reason why that is, I suggest you seriously re-read Matt. 24 again.

Muhammed was a false prophet: his words have no meaning for me, and what few things he may have got right are already written in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures that are the inerrant and infallibile word of God and the revelation of His plan for humanity’s salvation.

I’d be surprised if these prophecies of the eventual end of time came true in my own life’s span…personally, I believe humanity has a long run ahead of it yet…but certainly I think that they will happen in due season.

Until then, go ahead and blame Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, Jews, Israel, Iran, Syria, or anyone else that strikes your fancy — except yourself!

Well, to be fair, people like myself won’t be strapping bombs to our chests anytime soon and detonating in trendy downtown restaurants. That’s not to say we’re blameless…we are all of us sinners, every man, woman, and child that walks this Earth.

But there is a key difference, and that difference is primarily one that is illustrated in knowledge. I know it is wrong to compel women to wear a headscarf or full veil, and that to do so is an affront to each woman’s dignity as a child of God. I know it is wrong to strap a bomb to my chest and blow up a bus, no matter how oppressed me people are by the Israelis. I know that it is wrong to hijack a plane and fly it into a skyscraper, no matter how odious I happen to think U.S. foreign policy is. I suspect, jane B., that you also know as much.

And that is what seperates us from much of Islam, radical and mainstream, in the world today.

After all, what could you have done to prevent the war?

Me personally? As much as I can, which at the moment primarily consists in attempting to use what talent God has given me with the written word to argue against absurdity, evil, and wrong-headed thinking whenever possible. I don’t care so much who is being wrong-headed…if you’ve read Time Immortal over the years, I’ve gone after atheists, Muslims, other Christians (especially evangelicals), and pagans with equal fervor, because ultimately what I care about is Truth. God’s Truth. Jesus’ Truth. The Truth of humanity’s salvation and how it was won for us.

And no amount of hijab-wearing brings anyone any closer to that Truth, which is why I object so voiciferously to it, and to like doctrines.

Obviously, the “fanatic Muslims” have no right to expect you to alter your religious beliefs or unbelief.

Do you even read? This is a Catholic blog.

Besides, you have no reason to reconsider, much less discuss, your personal beliefs with anyone.

I’ll say it again…this is a Catholic blog. All I do is discuss my faith for the benefit of others (and admittedly myself as well, since I collect my thoughts better when I write them down).

You’re not forcing others to agree with you and you don’t want others to force you. You just want to live and let live, and you’re sure everyone should do the same.

Actually, no, I don’t believe in “live and let live” at all. I believe, as stated previously, in Truth, and I think everyone should strive to know that Truth, even if it means refuting some or all of their currently-held beliefs.

Although yes, I do believe that a lesser belief has no right to impose itself on what is True.

Because, today, “everyone” doesn’t believe in “live and let live,” I’ll suggest what you could have done, so you can think about it in the darkness. You could have learned how to turn your heart to others, as the Prophet Malachi plainly said we must do, to avoid the darkness (Mal. 3:24/4:6).

Far be it from me to suggest that I don’t need your advice, but I do happen to think that you rank fairly low on the list of people whose advice I trust.

And indeed, to the best of my ability, I do pour out my heart to others…Lord knows I do. But a part of pouring out one’s heart is pouring out the Truth, and my heart goes out to all those who do not know Christ as He reveals Himself through the Sacraments; they do themselves an injustice. And if I really meant to turn my heart out to others, I’d do my level best at every opportunity to prevent them from continuing in that injustice…even if it means arguing against their beliefs from time to time.

But, to honestly “turn your heart” to the “crazy Muslims,” you will first need to turn your heart to the One God revealed by ALL the Prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Allah and the Judeo-Christian God are not quite the same, and in fact Allah (in the Islamic sense of the word) is more like an idolatrous notion of the Judeo-Christian God.

More importantly, though, Allah is fiercely unary, the lonely God. The God of the Hebrews and the God of the Christians (who is one and the same God) is not a unary God, and in fact it has been revealed to Christians that He is a trinitarian God; there are elements and hints of the Trinity in the Old Testament as well.

The one issue that leftists always forget is that while it’s not that much of a stretch for a Christian to at least entertain the notion that Allah and God are one and the same, it is a mortal offence and an insult to make that suggestion to a Muslim. The Koran is highly specific on the matter of God not being a trinity…and as long as this point of contention stands, we cannot (in an honest intellectual debate) actually say that Allah and God are one and the same.

You’ll be desperately praying to Someone in the “gross darkness” — why not try learning about the God Who foretold it?

My “someone” in this example is Jesus Christ. I think He (being Himself God, the second part of the Trinity made man) is more than sufficient, and indeed is one in union with the God who inspired the (true) prophets, i.e. the prophets of the Old Testament.

If enough of us enlarged our understanding of Him, we wouldn’t have to suffer the darkness!

Correction: if enough of us adopted this mushy universalism you’re advocating, we’d actively assist in ushering in the darkness. Humanity’s salvation is not going to come from attempting to fuse all religions into one happy amalgamation, but from steadfast resolve in one’s faith, and then especially the one True faith.

Even if this causes conflict in the future, this is the way it must be, the way it has been foretold to be (as you yourself missed quoting by a couple of verses).

So, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or someone in another nation “rooting for” a particular political party to win control over the “dangerously aggressive” United States, it’s time to carefully question whatever you believe and disbelieve. Then, you could finally do what you’ve never done before: Learn from ALL the Prophets sent to enlighten and warn you. Their COMBINED teachings would greatly enlarge your understanding of the God Who, long ago, precisely told us what our stubborn ignorance would bring upon us! An enlarged understanding of Him would deprive the “fanatic Muslims” of their crucially-needed certainty that you are an “unbeliever.”

The same God who warned us what our ignorance would bring also cautioned us against not listening to false prophets, I might hasten to remind you, jane B. NOT ALL PROPHETS ARE TRUE PROPHETS OF GOD, and indeed many have come (and many more will come) in an attempt to lead the faithful of God astray.

If we allow ourselves to be seduced by the lies of universalism, we play into their hands, because in our claims to believe in everything we come instead to believe in nothing in particular…and that is the most vulnerable state of faith.

So thank you for your suggestion, but seeing as how I don’t want to ruin the West’s chances of surviving the coming confrontation with Islam, I think I’m going to remain a devout Catholic instead.

Jane B. Drake said...

I've posted my reply on your site, Ken, which I hope my visitors will visit. I'm well aware that you are preaching the Catholic religion--it's you who are not aware of the revelations about God, delivered by Abraham through Muhammad. It is their teachings that I am urging others to contemplate--not my own "interpretations" and not the interpretations created by the clergies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The three organized religions have brought us in sight of the "darkness." The Prophets can show us "the light." And that is why I posted on your "Catholic" site.

Jane B. Drake said...

I've posted my reply on your site, Ken, which I hope my visitors will visit. I'm well aware that you are preaching the Catholic religion--it's you who are not aware of the revelations about God, delivered by Abraham through Muhammad. It is their teachings that I am urging others to contemplate--not my own "interpretations" and not the interpretations created by the clergies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The three organized religions have brought us in sight of the "darkness." The Prophets can show us "the light." And that is why I posted on your "Catholic" site.

ken said...

I'll post my reply there and here...it's a long one, again.

Also, do try and keep in mind that I have thrown a fair bit of study into other religions, into the science-and-religion debate, and into prophecy and symbolism. I've read many of the Suras...and I still don't think there's anything God-given about them.

Put plainly: Muhammed was wrong. But more on that below.

Thus: That was a long response to my post, Ken, which I thank you for taking the time to write, though I regret that I evidently did not make my point clear to you. All the Prophets, from Abraham through Muhammad, revealed the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent Lord God of Abraham.

See, I'd disagree with that statement, drawing again on Matt. 24 and the warning therein to be aware of false prophets (which Muhammed was). Just because a person claims to speak with God upon their lips, just because a person claims to speak for God, does not mean they are actually speaking God's word; indeed, they may be speaking a deception. False prophecy and heresy are as much a part of the historical record of religion as true prophecy and orthodoxy, and I think the universalists -- yourself included -- would do well to pay closer heed to the possibility that not everyone who started a religion did so for, shall we say, Godly reasons.

Indeed, Muhammed is a great example of this, in that the religion he ultimately founded was not so much a revelation of God's divinity as it was a political statement and the injection of a divine claim into the cultural morés of Muhammed's day and region.

Through those Prophets, we could learn what it means to be ultimately subject to such awesome “omni” powers.

Actually, we'll never learn that truly, at least not while we draw breath -- to wit, we could sooner fit the whole of the ocean into a small hole we had dug for ourselves on the beach.

And as it is, Christians already know, or should already know, everything we need to know about what it means to be subject to God (this being God the Father, a palpable and defined entity, as opposed to some vague and nebulous conception of "the omni"): from the Commandments and their affirmation in Christ Jesus' teachings, to the Beatitudes, to the writings of Paul (especially in the letters to the Corinthians), and then the writings in turn of James, we as people can learn all we could ever hope to know about being subjects of God. Clearly spelled out in the Bible are the attitudes and thoughts we should strive to have and demonstrate, the works and actions we should strive to carry out, and the faith -- in concrete, well-defined things like the Father and the Son -- that we should hold in our hearts.

There is no need for further prophecy following the closing sentence of the last book of the Bible; there is no need for Muhammed, Arius, or any of the other heretics and false prophets that came later. All that is necessary now is to take what is known from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Bible (remember: Christ does not wipe away or replace the Hebrew prophets, but fulfills them) and attempt to form deeper understandings of the message contained therein.

We do need to draw on extra-Biblical/extra-Scriptural sources to do that properly (which is something that the sola scriptura evangelical Christians forget, unfortunately), but just as we do when we research any other field, we have to be selective. Not every religion is particularly correct, even though they all contain glimpses and aspects of the truth, and there are thus sources and avenues of understanding that we should, at best, be extremely wary of. At worst, we should simply not consider them.

Islam is a great example here, because it adds nothing in terms of revelation to what is already contained in the Bible and the Hebrew Scriptures. All it really adds, considered as a source, is confusion: is God singular, or a Trinity? Was Christ a prophet, or the Son of God? There's not an increased understanding to be gained here...only confusion. And anyhow, Islam is less of a revelation of the divine and more a divinization of the extant political/cultural realities of Muhammed's day and region. It's not a realization that something was misunderstood, it's an affirmation of practices already widespread.

But to learn about Him, we would have to stop concentrating on ourselves and what it takes for us to be “saved,” and turn our attention to God, Himself. Spiritual leaders rarely do that — they’re more comfortable preaching about human errors and promising great rewards for believing them!

You seem to forget that this is a Catholic blog, which is unfortunate. Indeed, you seem to know very little about Catholics as compared to American Protestantism, which is even more unfortunate.

The reason I suspect this is that you refer to the whole concept of "being saved"...two words that will never escape the lips of a typical, knowledgeable Catholic except in two cases: 1) when quoting an evangelical or 2) when the phrase directly appears in Scripture.

Catholics don't buy into the concept of "being saved" as an event that can be assured and timed to the second by saying the right prayer and "accepting Christ into your heart". Acceptance of Christ is not the end of the requirements for salvation, but only the beginning, and any reasonably knowledgeable Catholic will tell you that salvation is the outcome of an ongoing, life-long process that involves both confessed faith in, and fidelity to, Christ, and works of charity and service done in Christ's name, for His glory, and out of love for His children (i.e. all of humanity).

Human error -- sinfulness -- is also something that Catholics do focus on, and it's not an error to do so. Indeed, God's only reason for becoming human in the person of Christ Jesus was to suffer the penalty for all human sinfulness in all ages past, present, and future. Without sin, there is no need for Christ. But sin does exist.

What is more, sin is elective, and as such constitutes an elective choice on the part of each sinner to cut themselves off from God. By re-focusing our thoughts on our sins from time to time, we are reminded of the need to constantly re-acquaint our flawed human selves with the redemption Christ offers, most ideally in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church (especially Reconciliation and Eucharist). We strive, in those same Sacraments, to allow Christ to change our thinking and preserve us against sin.

But as chocolate syrup settles in milk if left to sit for a time, so too do all these things begin to settle in the human person. Hence the apparent focus on human error...it is completely necessary to "stir the milk" (so to speak) to keep the human person in union with Christ, rather than be apart from Christ in a state of sin.

Of course, it’s easy to understand why the Christian clergy declared Muhammad a fraud, since he denounced their concept of the Trinity, even as he denounced the Jews for denying “the Messiah Jesus.” But then Islam’s clergy decided that Muslims have utterly replaced Jews and Christians. So, self-righteous, self-glorifying clergies of all three faiths have declared their beliefs right and the others wrong or obsolete. And look where that has gotten us: We’re ready to bring on the “gross darkness,” even while Malachi tells us it does not have to happen!

And yet, if we're going to point to Scriptural prophecy, I think the words of Christ trump those of Malachi...and Christ speaks with conviction and assurance of a coming crisis and darkness. He should know, given that it is only this darkness that will herald His return in glory. So why should we fear the coming darkness? We are already assured that light, glory, and salvation await -- when the darkness has passed -- those who remain faithful to Christ's words and allow Him to guide their lives and actions.

Clergy cross-denouncing each other doesn't prove anything other than that (surprise, surprise) clergy of different religions disagree with each other. Good for them...they're supposed to. That's what being members of different religions kind of implies, does it not? If I explicitly declare myself a Catholic and not a Buddhist, that is because I believe, at the outcome of my own process of research and discernment, that the Catholic Church teaches the Truth of God, and that Buddhism does not.

In the dialogue between science and religion, there are many positions: young-earth creationists denounce evolutionary theory as false, heretical, or evil. Some evolutionists feel that evolutionary theory disproves religion in turn. Still others take some variation on a middle ground. There's plenty of cross-denunciation to go around...but that doesn't make everyone right, does it? We don't come any closer to understanding anything about human origins if we take it as accepted that claims saying that the Earth is 10,000 years old are just as valid and true as claims saying that it is millions upon millions of years old.

So too religion: I say that Christ is the Son, God enfleshed, One in Being with the Father in the blessed union of the Trinity. A Muslim would say that I am wrong: Allah is unary, solitary, a sole divinity. And I would say he is wrong.

Understanding God does not come from saying we're both right: the only thing you'll find at the end of that road is absurdity. Understanding comes from evaluating everything else we have to say in support of our respective claims, and everything in our respective faith systems that exist in addition to our respective claims, and making a choice which faith to follow. Making a choice, picking a side, and sticking to it...that's where understanding of God comes from. Conversely, the only thing we gain from attempting to eat at all the buffet lines is indecision and futility.

BTW, I don't understand what I am "left" of--if you're talking about politics, I am a long standing registered Independent who often finds severe fault with both political parties --and receives a lot of verbal abuse from Republicans and Democrats, which, much of the time, I can enjoy.

I use the term "left" rather colloquially, and not always in the accepted context: in this case, I use it to suggest that you are a religious liberal and a universalist. I don't care so much about your politics, especially since we don't live in the same nation and thus won't have any direct influence on the elections the other votes in.

I'm also an "independent" believer in God--with long standing grievances against Judaism, Christianity and Islam! And believe me, I get plenty of verbal abuse from members of all three faiths--which I seldom enjoy! My goal is to persuade people to learn about God from all the Prophets. Answering "abuse" doesn't serve my purpose.

The problem with attempting to learn from "all" the Prophets is that it only leads you to be mired down in contradiction and futility. When two prophets say differing or directly contradicting things, how do you decide what is the truth? Or do you instead decide that neither is telling the truth, and only pick as valid those few things upon which all prophets agree (if any such concepts even exist).

How does it bring you closer to understanding God if you believe that a prophet who says that God is Trinity is telling the truth, and if you also believe that another prophet who says that God is unary is telling the truth? They cannot both be true: a unary entity is a wholly different thing than a trinitarian entity. Do you reject both teachings, then? Okay, so God is neither unary nor Trinity...so what is He?

This is not a path to greater understanding...it is a path to irrelevance and confusion. So forgive me once again if I refuse your efforts to persuade; I think there is greater truth to be found in Catholicism alone than there is to be found in a confused hodge-podge of all world religions.