Thursday, April 21, 2011

VBV - Ch. 1

Right, so there was absolutely nothing of interest in the introduction. So we're ignoring it. I should say that this book is a collection of essays/articles written by Christian women. So Mr. Caner (supposedly a former Muslim) is merely the 'editor' and he only 'edited' for spelling, etc. All other content is each authors.

So, this first chapter is supposed to be the testimonies of four women who converted the Christianity from Islam. Three of them were born Muslim and one was raised nominally Christian, converted to Islam, and later left Islam and became Christian. I'm not going to go into their stories because, really, the article doesn't. They're very brief. Here's the pattern: "I was a Muslim, and I was oppressed and abused. Islam didn't makes sense to me, and then I met some Christians/saw Billy Graham on tv and felt all warm and cuddly inside." Got it? Moving on to what *I* want to talk about from this chapter.

Nitpick #1 - The reference to jihad as a holy war. Look, I get that that's the usage it has in the media and even the usage that some terrorist groups put it to. But it's not the *only* or even *main* meaning, and someone who used to be a Muslim should know that. Again, if you're going to argue with Islam (or anything), argue with what it really is. Not what you want people to be afraid of.

Nitpick #2 - In listing the five pillars of Islam, the author lists the first as 'Shahada (confession of Allah). Like I said, this is a nitpick. The shahada is not *just* the confession of Allah. It includes acknowledgement that Mohammed is his prophet. See, if it was just bearing witness that there is no god but God, then Jews and Christians could agree with it too. It's the bit about Mohammed that sets it apart. Again, not a big deal, really, but it annoys me. Someone who was a Muslim should know that.

The author argues that anyone who has studied Islam and Christianity and compares Allah with Yahweh will see that they're different gods. Which is not entirely true. There are a million and one lines to be drawn between the god of the OT and Allah. And since the god of the OT is the same god as the one in the NT, the similarities and comparisons must remain.

"The Allah of the Qur'an requires good works, but the Yahweh of the Bible requires faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Islam claims that God can have no son, and that Jesus Christ was only a prophet like Muhammed."

It's true that *one* of the things required for salvation in Christianity is faith in Christ. It is, in fact, the main thing. But it's not the only thing.

James 2: 14-16 - 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It's a very Protestant thing, to insist on sola fide, which is an un-Biblical concept. Faith and works go hand in hand. Both religions, Christianity and Islam, ask for faith and works, working together.

"because He claimed to be God (John 8:58). In other words, He was either who He said He was, or He was a madman. This is a stumbling block for Muslims." 

Only not so much, since they believe that much of the Bible is corrupted. So there's not reason for them to believe that Christ ever claimed that he was God. As far as Muslims are concerned, these words never passed Christ's lips because he was a prophet and so certainly not a madman and he, being a prophet, would never overstep his bounds and tell people he was god, causing them to worship him and fall into shirk.

"Wherever Christians live, lost and dying people surround them."

Oh, that's just annoying and arrogant. You *cannot* approach people as though they are all some sort of pet project. Yes, it is a Christian mandate to spread the Gospel, to make all people aware of the message of Christ. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. The sentence above is an example of the wrong attitude. You share the Gospel by living it, and part of that is having love and respect for every person around you, whether they are Christian or not. Looking at them with pity and trying to shove your faith down their throat for 'their own good' is not the way to go. Be a good person, a good Christian and make *friends*. Real, honest friends. Maybe some day they'll want to talk religion and then you can sit down and talk. As friends. And maybe they'll come to see the truth in Christianity. Or maybe you'll find the truth in Islam. Or maybe you'll all have a good laugh and go out to dinner and see a movie. There's more to life than trying to make people agree with you.

The author makes it seem as though every Muslim is out to kill people who leave Islam. Are there people out there who believe that that is mandated by God? Yes. But, at least in the West, people enter and leave Islam all the time. Making it seem as though just be speaking out these women, who one and all live in the US are risking their lives, especially considering they don't give their full names is just pouring fuel onto a fire and hoping it starts a wildfire.

"many young women are lured into Islam by Muslim men. In order to marry a Muslim man, the woman must 'convert' on paper. Often believing they are discovering the whole truth for the first time, these women abandon faith backgrounds that never seemed real or important to them in order to pursue love and the close culture of Islam."

Thus does the author negate and denigrate any and all women who may have, oh, I don't know, studied Islam and come to the conclusion, to faith in the fact that Islam is the correct and final revelation. Are there women who convert because they fall in love with a Muslim man? Yes. Sometimes they come later to a real faith in Allah. Sometimes they don't. But really, their 'conversion' is not real. A person should only convert if they really believe. It should never be for another person. And that goes for *any* religion. Aside from all of that, Muslim men *are* permitted to marry women 'of the Book' - Jews and Christians. There's some debate over whether or not Muslim women are allowed to marry believing Jews and Christians (for an article on this, see Becky's article 'Are Muslim Women Allowed to Marry Non-Muslim Men?') But, you know what, people of all faiths and walks of life are unhappy, looking for the right fit for themselves. It's not just that women who come from bad backgrounds convert to Islam because they think it will make their lives better. I believe that the majority of converts do so because they find something that works for them, even if it doesn't turn out to be a lifetime thing. They learn something and hopefully at the very least, they come out knowing more about themselves, stronger in some fashion.

"Islam is a religion based upon mystical experiences, and Muslims are familiar with the idea, so perhaps the Holy Spirit does speak on this subjective, emotional level to draw Muslims to the truth. Although Islam claims that Muhammad's revelations are from Allah through the angel Gabriel, experiences of peace and love are characteristic only of the true God who is recognized by Christianity."

*sigh* *ALL* religions are based on mystical experiences. They're meant to take us out of ourselves, to make us connect to the greater reality. To show us life after death as a goal, a possibility, and the concept of a transcendent Creator being. On top of that, Islam, according to it's adherents, is a rational faith. Which, admittedly is a matter of perspective, but I find it funny that the Christians are claiming that Islam is all about emotions and funny visions and the Muslims are claiming the same thing about Christianity, both viewing themselves as the rational choice. Religion isn't rational, end of story. The last sentence though, is just...I don't even know what to say. It's flat out *wrong*.

And that's it for this chapter. Next chapter is all about Mohammed's wives. :) I'm going to go do something more productive than this, like watch Hawaii 5-0 and read The Haunting by Shirley Jackson. Then in about half an hour I'm going to go to sleep. *Far* more productive. :D

13 comments:

  1. I dont know how you are going to survive this book. Its a lot of propaganda.

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  2. Aw, well I hope your show and book were good at least. :) I enjoyed reading your perspective on this chapter! Thanks for taking time to share.

    Happy Easter!

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  3. LK,

    I shall survive by judicious use of sarcasm and mockery. :D

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  4. Susanne,

    H5-0 is *always* entertaining. McGarrett and Danno are *so married* it's hilarious. And the books classic horror. We'll talk about it later, when I've finished it. Again.

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  5. Oh, yes. The Caner guys. I've read a couple of their books. Turned out to be really annoying in the way that they demonized Islam. Please. Like LK said, it really is a lot of propaganda. These guys seem to be very Pentecostal in their thinking... "YOU must be SAVEDDDD by the blood of JESUS, or you'll BURN in HELL!!!!" *sigh* I don't have a particularly good opinion of those kinds of people. They're so concerned with being "right" and "preaching the truth" that they forget the most effective witness isn't preaching, but being a living example. This is true of any faith.

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  6. Amber, we watch Hawaii 5-0 on Monday nights. I rather like the guys. So cute how they interact! :)

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  7. Heather,

    Yeah, them. *laughs* You've just summarised their entire book. Probably all of their books, really. Sad.

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  8. Susanne,

    They do have wonderful chemistry together. It's nice to see a show where the main characters really work believably as partners.

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  9. Awww thanks for the linkback :)

    Ack, ack, ack, I'd go crazy trying to read this book, I get really angry just reading this :P

    It is such propaganda - and misinformed propaganda at that! Sadly I know many many people who'd eat it all up :(


    (Btw, am assuming it's your friendrequest which FB refuses to let me accept, it keeps saying 'please try again later' - so I will)

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  10. Thanks for writing the article. It was really very good. :)

    This book is terrible, it really is.

    Yep. That's me. :)

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  11. Thank you Amber, I'm happy you enjoyed it :)

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  12. Praise the Lord. Last time I checked, sola fide was what the Bible teaches. The thing that catches some people is that it does mention works too. The question is what their place in the salvation equation is. Compare the following equations:

    1. faith + works => salvation

    2. faith => salvation + works.

    In other words, in one case works are on the 'cause' side of the equation; and in the other, they are on the 'effect' side of the equation.

    But to me, the issue is this: either God is the Savior apart from Whom there is none other, or He isn't. And since the Bible says He is, then if we go trying to 'contribute' to our salvation on the cause side by doing good works, we are usurping God's place. We are committing idolatry.

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  13. caraboska,

    It is your interpretation of the Bible that tells you that it teaches sola fide. We're going to have to disagree there.

    Even just rereading the quotes I included in this post it is clear to me that works are an integral part of the salvation process. I'm certainly not saying that we can work or earn our way to salvation, but it is not a passive process. We must have faith in God, but we must also have good works. The works help to show that we have accepted the Holy Spirit into our lives, that we are residing in God's Will, but they are also an exercise that helps us to stay in that Will.

    Faith alone is not enough, nor are works alone. You have to have both, and that is what the Bible says.

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