Monday, August 30, 2010


I've been asked what I think of Islam.

St. John of Damascus lived in Damascus and held high office under the Muslim Caliph in the 8th century, and he regarded Islam as a Christian heresy, not as a separate religion. That was certainly the view of the Christian king of Ethiopia, with whom the early Muslims found refuge, and I agree. I think it's clear that the animosity, which has always been far more prevalent on the Christian side, is a Pepsi-Coke thing. It's the bitter rivalry of those that are alike. Christians have historically hated Muslims and Jews far more than Hindus or Buddhists, for instance, because they are most like us.

Muslims, as I first found in the Muqaddima, believe that Jesus Christ will judge the world on the last day. He is called the Spirit from God and also the Word of God. He rose from the dead.

Historically, I think it's pretty obvious that Islam may be best understood as the eastern Mediterranean version of the Reformation that took place later in Western Europe. These two took different paths for various reasons - for instance, the Catholics didn't collapse in the face of Reformers as the Byzantine empire did before Islam, so that the stalemate of the religious wars in Europe led eventually to both sides losing credibility and giving ground to secularism. That attrition didn't happen in the east, because the Muslims conquered quickly and easily and didn't persecute the Christians. Indeed the Christians were glad to see them, because they were tired of being persecuted by the Byzantines over subtle differences in Christian doctrine, much as a secular Croatian state looks a lot better to Eastern Orthodox Christians than the Roman Catholic Ustashe regime that killed 250,000 of them during World War 2.

Just as the Roman Catholics and the Protestants caricatured each other's doctrines and became more extreme themselves in reaction, the same happened with Islam.

For instance, Islam is horrified by the idea that God might have a son, because the notion of God having sex with a woman and begetting a child on her is an abhorrent notion fit only for the idols of Greek mythology - and it looks like that's where Christians got that idea. Christian doctrine agrees with Islam on that, but the notion of the perpetual virginity of Mary, which has no biblical support, is frequently argued from the premise that Mary became God's wife. This false argument clearly provoked the Muslim response. God does beget sons, but it's not a sexual thing in any way. It is the the divine nature engendered in people who hear and believe God's word, who begot Jesus in Mary through the word of faith that she received from the angel.

That the word of the one God which brought into being the worlds and raises the dead can engender God's nature in those who hear God obediently is not so foreign to at least some variations of Islam. Arabic actually makes all this much more clear than English does, in that walad refers to a son born of sexual union, whereas ibn (related to Hebrew ben) need not. Ibn falistin (son of Palestine), or ibn California, do not suggest that a man was sexually begotten by Palestine or California.

Some Muslims reject the notion that Jesus was actually killed on the cross, based on Surah 4:157, which says, "But they killed him not, nor crucified him." However, the Qu'ran states elsewhere that he certainly did die and was raised, and in fact the mystery is quite easily resolved when we consider what Jesus said himself. "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again" ( John 10:17-18).

We have a similar history of such controversies in Western European Christianity, for instance the controversy over salvation by faith alone, or the nature of the eucharist. It's evident when we look at the scriptures that both sides are right in different ways, which become obvious if we actually examine the scriptures in context. These are what Paul calls stupid controversies, so it should not surprise us that similar stupid controversies arose in the east, as such things do when the parties are aiming to prove themselves right and the other wrong, rather than to learn the truth.

The present Muslim-hating rage in the United States is quite obviously a manifestation of the kind of pre-genocidal hatred that led to Russian pogroms and the Nazi annihilation of the Jews. It is not surprising in a nation with a Crusader mentality, that wants to bring its gospel to the world with bomb and missile. But it remains shocking that people who claim to be disciples of Jesus should have anything to do with it, and still worse that they should even take the lead in such wickedness.

And since it's no new thing, but the kind of hatred and love of persecuting that we've seen in professing Christians against the Jews and others for the past 1800 years or so, we need to consider that it isn't just Muslims or Jews that are radically mistaken about some things, but Christians too. Jesus said that the tree is known by its fruit. When we look at the fruit these past centuries, considering the record of murder, persecution, robbery, and genocide that Christians have regularly participated in, don't we need to go to Doctor Jesus and get thoroughly and correctly diagnosed and cured before we have anything to say to Jews or Muslims?

The proverb says, "Who can say, 'my doctrine is pure; I am free from my sin?'" That's pretty clear. The way we know our doctrine is pure is when we're free from sin, so if we're not free from sin, something is wrong with our doctrine. The Bible knows nothing of right doctrine and wrong behavior. "The tree is known by its fruit." Our wrong behavior is God's temperature gauge warning us that we have him wrong somehow. Our emphasis on bullet items like the Trinity, baptism, and all the rest - even though it's good to get these right - is our way to kid ourselves that we don't need to heed that gauge. But Jesus says we do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very intersting post.
I would only like to add that I think a reason that many Americans do not hate Buddhists and Hindus the way that they hate Muslims is that they see Buddhists and Muslims and practionioners of other "native" religions as to pathetic to hate. In the view of some Americans these people (Buddhists, Hindus, Confuscians, and practicioners of native African and American Indian religions) are so backwards that they are not even monotheists.

8/30/2010 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I have to admit, Mr. Attwood, your blog posts are like Lays potato chips ... can't read just one. How can someone with a working knowledge of the Bible make claims that it knows nothing of "right doctrine"? I know that wasn't the main point of your post, but I can't wait to hear the justification for writing off what was almost an obsession to Paul as being alien to God's word.

Prov. 4:1-2 “And give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.

Isaiah 29:24 “These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine.”

Matthew 16:12 “Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

John 7:16 “Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.”

Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”

Romans 6:17 “yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”

Romans 16:17 “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”

1 Tim 3:4 “remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine"

1 Tim 1:10-11 “and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine"

1 Tim 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”

1 Tim 4:6 “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”

1 Tim 4:13 “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”

1 Tim 4:16 “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine."

1 Tim 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”

1 Tim 6:1 “Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.”

1 Tim 6:3 “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness”

2 Tim 3:10 “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance”

2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

2 Tim 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers”

Titus 1:9 “that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”

Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine”

Titus 2:7 “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity”

Titus 2:10 “showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things”

Hebrews 13:9 “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.”

2 John 1:9 “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”

2 John 1:10 “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him”

8/30/2010 5:53 PM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

I didn't say the Bible knows nothing of right doctrine. What I wrote was, "The Bible knows nothing of right doctrine and wrong behavior."

Now if I wrote, "There is no such thing as good child care and pedophile sexual molestation," not many would read that as an assertion that there is no such thing as good child care.

Friend, the kind of foolishness you're displaying here is what happened to the opponents of Jesus when they made it their business to try to trip him up in word instead of wanting to learn truth. You see the same kind of stupidity in atheists that pick at the Bible in especially foolish ways, and it's not because they're atheists but because they have their minds made up that they're going to rivet a case together like a school district lawyer.

To save you the trouble of shouting that I'm putting myself on the same level as Jesus, no I'm not. All I'm saying is that you're acting like his opponents, and their example is not one we're encouraged to follow.

The way out of your foolishness is actually quite simple. Would you think your hostility and picky fault-finding, your doing everything you can to construe my words in the most foolish way you can, would be the way to understand what you say? Is it a smart way to read the Bible, or even for a kid to hear his teacher in school, or for a husband to hear his wife?

8/30/2010 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Whoa, take a breather killer. You're right, I misunderstood your sentence. I read this as though you were saying the Bible knows nothing of right doctrine and the the Bible knows nothing of bad behavior, but only of fruit.

I understand now that you're referring to the combination of right doctrine and bad behavior. This could have been written more clearly, for example, the Bible knows nothing of right doctrine accompanied with bad behavior, but whatever. You were syntactically correct, but sometimes syntactically correct isn't unambiguous. When I query a database and syntactically correctly request a field, the analyzer still asks me what the hell I'm talking about if more than one field shares the name.

No need for anticipating my "shouting" that I think you're trying to be Jesus and having to deny it ... you must get that a lot to have the rebuttal on deck.

And yet, even with the matter corrected the way you said it, that the Bible "knows nothing" of right doctrine and bad behavior is still unusual. Of course the Bible "knows" something of this combination for why else would Jesus in Matthew 23:2-3 tell his disciples to do what the Pharisees say (follow their doctrine) but do not do what they do (bad behavior)?

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do."

Perhaps a better way yet would have been to say the Bible doesn't endorse the combination of right doctrine and bad behavior, or that the Bible condemns those whose doctrine is true but whose behavior is bad.

As you stated previously, your ambiguity is not your problem, but mine. I tend to think you enjoy speaking in this manner because it affords you further opportunities to call people foolish and hostile and nit-picky. To each his own.

8/31/2010 7:15 AM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

I doubtless could have written it less ambiguously, but, oh well, that's writing. Writings, like movies, are never perfected, only abandoned.

That's a good point about doing what the Pharisees teach, but not what they do. It calls me to some deeper thinking on the question.

It's evident that our doctrine, in Scripture, encompasses what we say, which may be right as far as we go, and what we actually believe, which is revealed in what we do. Thus the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord searching out the inward parts of the belly. We learn what's in our inward parts by what goes out of them in our actions, and so Jesus taught in Mark 7 that evil things come out of the heart.

David could be correctly expressing his trust in God by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 54), who had just marvelously rescued him from Saul (1 Samuel 26), and then said in his heart, "I know that one of these days I'm going to fall into the hands of Saul" (27:1). And that's what he acted on. And God didn't even find fault with David; it's just how it is.

Our doctrine in biblical usage is all our saying and doing, because doctrine is what we teach. We teach with all our saying and doing. So Jesus warned us to be careful not to be led astray by the impure doctrine of the Pharisees, instead cherry-picking what they had right.

And right there we have a big problem: we see something wrong and we're apt to shut our ears to everything. Since God enlightens every man that comes into the world, everyone is right about something, which we can't afford to miss.

So I'm sticking to what I mean: wrong behavior is the proof of impure doctrine, which is the whole body of what we teach by our life. But I see that I need to learn more about all this.

9/01/2010 2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is kind of slow on this thread so I thought that I would throw a log on the fire. What I am about to say might be kind of unfair because I doubt that there are any Muslims around to counter it. Perhaps a passing reader will want to play the role of devil's advocate.
I really find the idea that the ruler of a Muslim society should be both the head of state and the head of the religion as not really a very good idea in theory. Sure when the right man is in the job it could work really well. But when the wrong man holds the position is seems to me it would be a catasrophy.
A funny thing is, it looks to me like the rest of Western Society has adopted the Muslim idea anyways. (I consider the Islamic world part of the West.) We have an official seperation of Church and state yet the Church leadership pretty much just rubberstamps the policies of the state.
The leadership does this, "give on to Ceaser" song and dance sort of thing. I say what belongs to Ceaser is his sword and it should be given back to him very very quickly, right threw the heart.
Yet I seem to remeber from earlier days that Islam like Chrisianity is not suppossed zo be about building a hiarchy of power but of building a community consensus. Did these communities read the instructions they were given wrong or where the insttuctions themselves somehow flawed?
Anyways human history has up until now not given much evidence to show that rule by consenus would have given much better results but I think it does show that the rule of a larger group of people whether it be a legislative body or a committee or whatever allows for a greater variety of points of view to be considered.
So in the end by encouraging paternalistic rule the Koran throws up a red flag for me. I mean that in the storm warning sense not in the socialist revolutionary sense.
The Muslims should take my advice, if they can find it. and plant a pink lotus garden in front of the main enterance to every Mosque.

By the Appian way I meant Hindus instead of Muslims at one point in my first post when I wrote Muslims.
They are so hard to tell apart you know.

9/06/2010 6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this report on a place in Italy yesterday. It is about a road where it is reported that cars or bicycles will roll uphill.
Well the report showed that this is actually a case of optical illusion.
The road is actually going downhill when it appears to be going up hill.
Why does this optical illusion occur in this particular place I wonder and not in other places?
I mention this report only as a lead in to say that everyday human understanding of time and space are mistaken. Scientific experiments have proven that much.
So when people argue about whether the earth is 6,000 years old 4 billion years old, or that it all really began on Thursday November 22nd 1963* people should keep in mind that all though one of these answers might be better, if time and space are not what we perceive
there will be a certain amount of error in any human perspective of history.
What does this have to do with Islam. Well I am not really sure except to say that in my limited contact with Muslims they do not get bent out of shape over the teaching of evolution.
The Muslim view that I have been exposed to jives with the modern Catholic view that I learned which is that God is the guiding hand behind evolution.
*all memories which occurred before this date are implanted.
All evidence that we live in an older space time dimension such as some people appearing to be older than 47 years is all planted evidence. It was all constructed by the stage crew and the makeup department who could be conceived of as Angles of God or apprentice Buddhas, or Aliens, or Humans from the future or another space time dimension.
Malaria and Sickle Cell Armenia.
The two make a very interesting contrast for study. By the way I have heard that Armenia was the first Christian country. Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Armenia now a part of Iran? I think that it is a northern Provence.

9/08/2010 2:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is rather sad. I have been in Chapels hidden in caves deep in the Australian outback that have had more discussion going on at 2am than what should be a thriving metropolis of idscussion right here.
Is there something going on here that I do not know about?
I want really to thrust a log in to the heart of the fire. I want your readers to know that I have issued a Buddhist Fatwa that proclaims that attacks which kill American military personnel anywhere in the world are morally unjustified. Furthermore I have written letters to Sgt. Akbar and Major Hassan praising their actions which resulted in the deaths of US military personnel.
I do not know whether or not they were allowed to receive the letters.
I am now going to give this web site an exclusive photo opportunity.
I am expanding my Buddhist Fatwa to include attacks on members of the FBI anywhere in the world.
It is true that as an institution the FBI does do some good in the world. Yet their main contribution to American society to maintain the power of the ruling elites. Such an activity can not allow the members to be allowed to go with out being held accountable for their behavior. The bible may say somewhere something along the lines of vengeance is mine says God. Yet humans clearly have been delegated responsibility for punishing transgressions of Mans law. Normally this should be done by the lawful authorities. But when the institutions of lawful power have been captured by a continuing criminal enterprise vigilante justice is not only allowed it is required.
The reason for my recent addition of the FBI to my hit list is because the massive financial corruption that is occurring in America could not occur if it were not for the active support of the FBI and other institutions of so called national security.
One does not need to be a Buddhist Communist to reach this conclusion one could just as easily be a Christian libertarian or Jewish (true)conservative.
Now since anyone who reads this website is unlikely to have the military training to be able to carry out a successful hit on US military of FBI targets I would like to suggest the more modest goals of speaking to every young person that you know and warn them about joining the US military unless the are Communists or Libertarians and the are joining to undertake the dangerous task of destroying the US military from the inside, Allah PFC Manning. Or one can also write these three honorable men to give them moral support in their time of need.

9/08/2010 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One good thing that I really like about Islam is there the ambiguity confusing a living a peaceful life and being a pacifist does not exist in Islam. Although most Christians are not pacifist this train of thought appears to me to be more common in Christianity. Does it appear that way to you Peter?
Taking someones life may change us in a negative way. Getting killed by someone who wants to steal from us changes us in a pretty damn negative way too. Even not getting killed but having our pension funds wiped out by criminal or idiotic banksters can also have an awfully negative effect on someones personal development.
Yes to me Muslims and Native Americans have set a very good example to follow. Be generous with your fellow man but set certain limits that can not be crossed with expecting to suffer some consequences for it.
We have only had problems because of a disparity of force neither the Native Americans or the Muslims could hold accountable those who deserved to be held accountable.
Long live Buddhika, the greatest English Woman ever!!

9/09/2010 5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on Schisms;
What I am about to say I would think is very obvious.
If a person dives deeply in to the Bible (0r Koran) one has less time for diving in to other religions. If one dives deeply in to other religions one has less time for diving deeply in to secular philosophy. If one dives deeply in to all of these things one has less time to study economics. If someone gets a PHD in Theology and Philosophy and Economics they certainly have not had time to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Even if a person did get a PHD in all of these things they still would have only scratched the surface of each subject. So with our very incomplete knowledge we must go our in the world and make decisions.
Every teacher will of course point out that our knowledge is incomplete and say that is why we must look towards God, or look within ourselves, or look at your experiences, to reach a decision.
Yet much of the world thinks a large part of the rest of the world is doing things all wrong.
Another large chunk of the world puts no thought what so ever in to the question of what should I do.
They just act with out really thinking about it. They clearly have contempt for study, the study of Philosophy and Theology especially. Such people do study things like how to manipulate the stock market.
So, I guess my point is that this is another reason why there are Schisms, and why much of the world thinks that a great many other people are either fools or even down right evil.
It can not be any other way. God can not solve this problem. He can come and give us his opinion which might be backed up by a very long period of experience but in the end it is only an opinion. So the I wonder about is if there would be many Gods or Buddhas and they all had an enormous amount of wisdom would they reach a point in which there was never any disagreements among them or would they themselves be uncertain and divided over what course of action to pursue?
Venus: Mars I understand that you have ordered your department to cause a little turbulence of Hitler's flight from the Wolfschanze back to Berlin to upset the firing mechanism of the bomb that will be one his flight. Are you insane!
Mars: The Central Committee ordered me to take action that would prevent the death of Hitler until after the western allies had landed on the Continent. The scientists called the Central Committee to order because they determined that if Hitler were to die before the the western invasion there was a 75% chance of a nuclear exchange between the east and the west before the end of the 20th century but if it happened afterwards there was only a 25% chance.
Venus: I would like to see that scientific report because my department was doing some studies on global warming and if the Soviets do not occupy Europe before the Americans there is a 90% chance that in the 21st Century......................
Do you see my point?
Will you recommend me for a proof reading job with the Cohen Brothers?

9/10/2010 2:32 AM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

Various issues:

The biblical view, though not necessarily the usual Christian view, is that we can confidently take the world as it is and be instructed by it. Thus Paul writes in Romans 1 that they are without excuse because what may be known of God is evident among us, and all of God's invisible attributes are clearly seen in the things that are made.

So the idea of things being created with apparent age or people being implanted by God with false memories is just preposterous. The world looks old because it is.

I wrote a little paper on what it is to read the Bible or anything else literally which you might want to check out:

I think I should add the direct link here, since the question comes up a lot.

It's true that time spent on the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will probably detract from the study of other things, but I find that learning the Bible, especially to apply it, leads to knowledge being easier everywhere else. And there's no doubt that when you take care to get God's advice on things, all sorts of areas of study can give light on God's truth. I've learned a lot about prudence and what is wrong with being judgmental lately from having to litigate on behalf of my son and learn the thinking of judges.

Regarding Armenia: Not so far from Iran, but some distance away. Northwestern Iran is Iranian Azerbaijan, which the Soviet Union occupied during WW2 and tried to make into a Soviet republic. Mohammed Mossadegh, with American help, contrived to push them out in 1947. This same Mossadegh was accused of being a Communist sympathizer and driven from power by the CIA in 1953 because he nationalized Iranian petroleum - there has been very much blowback ever since from that little caper.

Which takes me to another point you made, how you can't tell what might happen if you kill Hitler or whatever. That's exactly why we're told, "Justice, justice you shall pursue," and "What does the Lord require of you, O man, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." Sticking to such things, turning neither to the right nor to the left, works out. Digressing from them for whatever good reasons leads to unintended consequences.

Obeying such injunctions is not selfless nobility; it's the only prudent path. And if God is not around to counsel us, we'll go astray to our own harm. So testifies 59 years of experience, corroborated by many before me.

9/12/2010 8:14 PM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

I don't think the optical illusion that it's downhill when it's uphill is all that uncommon. There's a piece of the I-15 going up the Cajon pass that seems that way that I know of, and I've seen it in other places. It seems to happen with a flat stretch pausing between two steep grades.

9/12/2010 10:35 PM  
Blogger Pomona Joe said...

An enlightening post on Islam, Peter. Thank you.

9/16/2010 8:48 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home