Who Makes the Best Conductor?
In any religion, even a study of a specific topic or sphere of interest, education, personal research, discussion and much reading is needed. The same holds for a physical skill, which also requires much training, for the body and the mind. Including the spiritual along with fields of any endeavor there is the need to train body, mind and spirit. In the process we either become a victim of the study, a product of intense indoctrination into a subject that limits understanding and appreciation of other disciplines, or independent and able to think for ourselves, to expand our consciousness and understanding by exploring other ideas and settling on the pathway to our future that makes the most sense, has the most answers, and leaves the least amount of doubt. Knowing comparative topics is helpful to a broad view and full appreciation for one’s discipline, even to the extent of denying one field for another after careful consideration of all facts.
Many athletes when young participated in a multiple of sports, possibly including ice hockey, tennis, lacrosse, baseball and golf. I know of one youngster that until the age ten participated in every one mentioned. By 11 years of age ice hockey was on the wane, and by twelve all but golf was left behind. Anyone of these areas could have emerged as a sport of their specific personal interest and dedication, but it was one, even having developed skills in all the others. Free to choose a sport of preference, so it should also be an option with religions. Even though most people grow in one religion, that of their parents, when of age they should study others, especially when dealing with doubts, erasing as many as possible along the way. If doubts are not erased the person may discover a new course of study more able to answer concerns or questions raised. To do this, however, the freedom of choice is necessary. (The Erasure Rule, Wake Up! Wake Up! The Testimony of a Layman, pg. 153 – http://www.TomBalderston.com). The parent’s religion may become the course of further study and dedication, with the activity then embraced to further develop understanding and wisdom. Teaching and training are important in every case.
How one trains, how one is trained by a parent or teacher, and the ideal or ideology taught, is the subject of this discourse. Dedication to learning and training become important to those that find their interest paramount and most important in their personal development. My focus will be to compare two religions, Christianity and Islam, as to teaching, personal education and development in each. In past blogs I have referred to Islam as an Ideology more than a religion, and still feel that way. Islam is a means by which followers focus on their god, Allah, but also live under the edicts put forth by governmental authorities and the justice system that established the laws and consequences for failure to obey the laws. Allah seems to allow humans to judge. Christianity is not an ideology, leaving governance to authorities that are not necessarily of that religion, and the justice system to independent thought and laws established by the people as a whole, by the considered thought of elected officials chosen by the people to represent the people. Elected officials may govern in Muslim countries, yet influenced by the over-riding dictates of the Quran. As to teaching and training, though, there are some obvious distinctions.
In this discussion god will be discussed. Think about god, whether it is the Trinity (God) or Allah, but assume you know nothing. Think about what characteristics would comprise the God you would prefer, follow, acknowledge, obey and allow to be your guide. Prepare a list, if you have or wish to take the time, before you read further. Then return and continue reading.
Christianity – God, the Trinity, cannot lie. God always speaks the Truth. In the book of Titus (1:2) the writer refers to himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith…and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” The basis of the ‘faith’ referenced in Titus 1:1 is the promise from God, “who does not lie.” In Hebrews (6:18) God’s inability to deceive is also mentioned; his promise to mankind and his oath as confirmation, both unchangeable, because “it is impossible for God to lie.” This is especially meaningful to those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, understand his sacrifice and the glory of God, living a life to serve Him who provided for our salvation and the assurance of being saved for those that believe. 2 Timothy (v. 2:1) states that “God cannot disown himself” (NIV version), meaning that it is impossible for God to be anything other that what he is, or be different in any way, such as a liar as well as telling the truth; it is one or the other. One last note from the Bible, referencing James 1:13, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” To be evil, as an individual, is to be tempted by a source other than God.
In teaching and training as a Christian the fact is emphasized that God never changes. He is unchangeable, noted in James 1:17. He never varies and thus is knowable. You can be secure in what you expect of and from him. His promises will not change and his oath will remain. The Bible reveals God in all his glory, mercy, commitments and love. The Bible enables the faithful to develop a relationship with God, and with each reading have that relationship grow.
As to how those having faith in the Christian God are to apply themselves, it is to study the Bible, understand the promise of God, live a life according to that lived by Jesus Christ, who exemplified, as God himself, the ethical and moral character God desires of and for mankind, and to grow in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. By so doing a relationship with God develops, an awareness of God’s reality is strengthened and the glory of God, the mercy of God is understood and embraced.
In is through the Word that both training and teaching is provided. The Word is the gymnasium to develop one’s body, the classroom and examples of shared experiences that develop one’s mind and the source of love and hope for a life eternal with God, salvation assured, guaranteed by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Non-believers are left alone, encouraged to find similar joy in their lives, and to do so freely. There are many who select a different path, but Christians do not attempt to coerce (proselytize, yes, evangelize, yes, but coerce, force to accept Christ as their Savior God, no. Then there is discipleship). Never has a Christian blown up a Mosque for being verbally persecuted as a Christian. Nor for fearing the Islamic faith will convert Christians, or for possibly objecting the choice of others to follow Allah. Christians are not trained to use violence to defend their faith. Defense of the Christian faith is not an action of eliminating non-believers, or destroying their property, or taking away their rights. Unless the actions of others are destructive to society, a free society, as a whole, then Christians could mount a defense, possibly with support, but really leaving such actions to more secular persons, civil authorities, or governmental authorities. The authorities do the defending acting under the laws and regulations to protect all people, civil laws, under their authority, within their domain, enforcing the laws accordingly. Apologetics provide defense as a means of educating those who do not believe, have doubts and need clarification. It is from the likes of Norman Geisler, who has written a multitude of books, that Christians defend their faith, explain their faith, and encourage others to find answers.
God, the Trinitarian God, loves, loving not just Christians, but everyone, in the hope that all can find their path to an eternal life with him. “Turn the other cheek”, from Luke 6:29, is well-known. “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Indeed the most clear example for a Christian, as a guide, is to “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 31)
It is study, spending time in the Word, seeking answers to questions, fellowship with other Christians, encouraging each other, spurring others to love and do good things, group Bible Study, attending Church and by being an example, to the extent each human can find it possible, to live a life according to Scripture. This is the teaching and the training of the foundational elements for Christians. It is peaceful. Hardships, even persecution is to be endured, as a discipline, as a form of teaching and learning. Christians are trained and taught to “make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy…” (Hebrews 12:14). As we learn we are encouraged to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15). The aforementioned verse speaks of Christians with extreme doubts, those that may become apostates, yet it also suggests the struggle as internal, not as actions against others.
As to those who teach, they will be judged more harshly by God, recognizing that we all have our faults, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man….” (James 3:2) What is said, though, is those who teach have responsibilities and principally they are to tell the truth, not to espouse a creed, or express their opinion, or to judge as knowing more than their pupils, but to teach from the Word. In James, Christians are encouraged to be caring in what they say, to be careful with the tongue, thus only praise should spew forth, and truth. Fresh water and salt water cannot flow from the same spring, is the analogy offered in James 3:12.
Teaching, training, education can lead to wisdom. Such wisdom rooted in the Word, heaven-sent, is “pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:17-18).
Discipleship is encouraged. It is The Great Commission. Teach all nations the good news of the saving grace of our Lord in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The disciple, using peaceful and loving methods, seeks a fundamental shift toward the ethics of Jesus Christ in every way, including complete devotion to God. The result of discipleship is for those committed to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) It is also knowing the Bible is the inerrant Word of God through which a relationship with God (the Trinity) is possible.
Muslims, born into a culture that is dominated by the Ideology of Islam learn from their parents, their neighbors, their friends, religious leaders, and governing bodies nothing but Islam. Alternatives, except possibly variants within the framework of Islam, are avoided. Allah is god. The sect in which you were born is your family, your heritage, and is to remain undiluted. Emphasizing all the positive reasons to love god and lead a good life one is encouraged as a believer to choose good over evil, to conduct daily prayers (Salat), engage in worship practices, and for life and death be devoted absolutely to Allah (god) alone, the Lord of the universe. A devout Muslim shared with me the following, “My shelter is God and He is my best Friend! Love is the way to Him and in His mercy is all I need!” The god referred to is Allah. With a focus on god alone, one god, the Muslim believer can see good in all things and be thankful for the Creator and the gift of knowledge, the senses, communication skills and so much more. Allah, god, becomes the meaning of life. But within the same societies women are oppressed, restricted in their movements, limited in personal decision-making, and subject to arranged marriages. Love of another is to occur after marriage. Having a loving relationship with god is worthy and delightful (and good), but there are doubts, questions that arise too often as to other elements of the ideology of Islam that cloud the idea of freedom that God wants for everyone.
Islam – Allah, the god to whom Muslims are devoted, as described by the Messenger Muhammad, is the best of all Deceivers (Sura 8:30). It is part of the teaching and training that believers of Islam lie in wait for those who do not believe, as if in preparation for battle. This is a non-peaceful approach, encouraged and suggested in the Quran. “Slay the idolaters, wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every month.” (Sura 9:5) The exception is made in sacred months. This is part of a plan, taught, that to live with non-believers one is never to be truthful. How could a non-Muslim ever know when the truth is told? Lie to them to advance the ideology of Islam. Muslims as minorities can blend in, be quiet about their strong feelings towards Islam, until they can assimilate not into the culture in which they dwell, but into a gradually changed culture of their own liking. (See Part 23 – Islamic Strategy of Conquest)
There are Muslims who, considered ‘moderate,’ are aware of the progress the world has made since the 7th Century and interpret the Quran by mitigating the violent aspects. This may be the majority. There are those that understand Islam only in its ‘purest’ form, word-for-word acceptance of the Quran and all of its expressions of ‘enmity’ for the non-believer. If those so pure are among the ranks of the army of terror to change the world until ‘all is for Allah’ their numbers are significant. If but 15% of the world Muslim population of more than 1.5 Billion defends their ideology, and pursues conversions or acceptance using the most horrific means, and noted in the Quran (Sura 8:12, terror and beheadings and severing of limbs), then there are at least 225 million Muslims intent on destroying ‘infidels’ throughout the world. The Saudi’s, inspired and defenders of Wahhabism, a ‘pure’ take on Islam, are claimed to use a good percentage of the oil revenues to support teaching, constructing Mosques, and supporting organizations that promote ‘pure’ Islam. One writer called the Saudi’s the Taliban with Wealth. ‘Moderates’ are always under pressure to adhere to the ‘pure’ principles; those I have (as have others) labelled mainstream. As their numbers become more concentrated pressure to become or support mainstream ideals is suspected.
Allah changes, is inconsistent. (Sura 2:106 – “Whatever message We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it….Allah is the possessor of power over all things.”). He allows for change. Muslims can expect Allah to be different tomorrow from whom He is today, he has that ability. But does that provide comfort to his followers? Apparently, or is the ‘comfort’ more simply ‘protection’, even self-preservation, by the bodies of similarly trained persons with whom they live.
Teaching and training consist of memorizing the Quran, attending Madrassas where much of the teaching involves lectures on the West and reasons to hate those in opposition to Islam. Memorization is in a language, an Arabic dialect, few today understand. It is rote memorization; learning is less the norm than repeating words. Devotion to and love of Allah, the all-powerful, the creator, the merciful, and so many more positive terms of endearment, is also taught. Few, I contend, go beyond the inbreeding, the indoctrination, and the strict methodology in making choices or availing themselves to other ways of thinking, or even regarding God.
For non-believers in Islam they are to be effectively kept at bay, possibly paying a tax (the Jizyah tax) until they succumb. “Protect him (the non-Muslim) till he hears the word of Allah, then convey him to his place of safety.” (Sura 9:5). It is as if the ‘place of safety’ is where all persons collectively adhere to the doctrine, the ideology, of Islam. Muslims, by the tone of this verse are to imprison non-believers until they accept Allah, not from the heart, but as a matter of self-protection. If my understanding is correct non-believers who have verbally converted, saying the Shahada, are then Muslims, but known previously as Christian or Jew, or whatever, and thus required to pay the Jizyah.
Training consists of education in the Quran, the Sunnah/Hadith and the life of Muhammad. The Bible is taught (referenced as the Book in the Quran) from the perspective of content introducing Muhammad to the world as a prophet, human, inspired by the Biblical angel Gabriel, to correct that which is in error in the Bible, that which man corrupted. We know from the Bible, the book of Daniel, that Gabriel appeared and provided a look into the future, a future for the People of the Book. In that future (from Daniel) there was to be much foreshadowing of the anti-Christ, of false prophets, of turmoil and world altering events. Gabriel even spoke with Mary about her virgin pregnancy. Teaching for Muslims consists of little history (in the Quran), but many edicts, actions against those who Muhammad claimed persecuted him. The concerns of the people of Mecca towards Muhammad, his changed character and monotheistic revelation in light of a culture of polytheism, is translated into examples of persecutions against all Muslims, potentially, from non-Muslims, wherever they live. The retribution taken by Muhammad, after a move to Medina and raising an army, is the pathway suggested for all who claim to be similarly persecuted for what they believe. The army raised by Muhammad was supported by raids on trade caravans and the taking of the spoils for the good of his cause, effectively blessed and allowed by Allah (for the cause of Islam).
The Bible itself is not readily available in Muslim dominated areas.
I must note that Allah is viewed as having many, many positive characteristics. They are all positive and show a strong believer the means by which Allah’s good graces, his mercy MAY be possible. Study of Allah, god, without the demands for human acts of retribution against those not accepting Allah, paints a picture that may closely resemble the Judaic God, even the Christian God, except for the Trinitarian concept that provided authority to Christ.
Part of the training is suggested in Sura 8, where the fighting Islamic believers are encouraged by Allah, “I am with you, so make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So smite above the necks and smite every finger-tip of them.” (8:12). The enemy is thus those who do not believe (Islam) and the phrases signify killing and disabling the enemy so they are unfit for further fighting. Smite above the necks is to behead. Smite every-finger tip is to remove fingers. This also suggests terrorism as a way of Islam. They are instructed in military-style training centers to engage the enemy (wherever they are) with today’s more deadly modern swords – still using the sword to behead the enemy. Islam is based on ‘hate’ and encourages hate. Sura 60:4, “We disbelieve in you (non-Muslims, esp. Jews and Christians) and there has arisen enmity (‘hate’) and hatred between us and you forever until you believe in Allah alone.”
Training also consists of camps where weaponry, military tactics, bomb building, deception, infiltration, and martyrdom for Allah is developed. For those killed by suicide or dying in battle against Infidels, non-Muslims, to advance the cause of Islam, the assurance of Salvation is significantly increased. Yet, Allah reserves the final say.
A peaceful approach to growing the population of Islam is not what I would suggest is encouraged. At least this is not what appears in the mainstream media. It is more a reflection of the ‘revenge’ of Muhammad. From Sura 2:194, “If any one aggresses against you (and this can be viewed as persecution), so aggress against him with the likeness of that which he has aggressed against you.” But this act of revenge is carried much further when the more militant sections of the Quran are embraced. Sura 8:65 urges believers to fight, “for they (non-Muslims) are a nation who do not understand.”
Moderate Muslims are viewed by those adhering to the strict standards of the Quran as out of touch, improperly guided, and not reflective of the proper teachings of Islam. They are wrong and often persecuted accordingly. In Islam it is the moderate who is left to decide to accept a more modern lifestyle, out of step with the Quran, or accept the Quran and change. The doctrine of Islam is undeniable: convert, subjugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world until All is for Allah. This is the teaching. The physical military training supports the teaching. There are no shortcuts, there is no deviation or moderation. “Strive against the disbelievers a mighty striving” (paraphrased from Sura 25:52) This is the call to Jihad. Sura 3:157 gives those who “are slain or die in the way of Allah” an increased chance at forgiveness and mercy from Allah, far more than they could “amass” from good works.
Madrassas preach Jihad. Madrassas have even been criticized by leading Muslims, such as Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, who often accuses the Islamic seminaries of “brainwashing our children” and of producing “mindless robots” of intolerance. A few years ago an American Journalist questioned a student on the dogma of Al Qaeda and received the following response, “Osama is a Muslim, and whatever he is doing is in the interest of Islam.” The Saudi’s have provided billions of dollars to support Madrassas. The fundamental elements are clear, fight, kill, until all is for Allah, no matter what the moderates may suggest.
A Madrassa outside Washington, DC, has often been criticized for the content of texts used. In 2008, an article by Cal Thomas (School for Scoundrels)(Thursday, July 17, 2008) noted, “Despite a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., has continued to use textbooks that teach hatred of everyone not of their specific brand of faith, the U.S. State Department has yet to act to close down the school. Officials of the academy, which has about 1,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, promised to excise passages in the textbooks that disparage Jews and Christians, but according to an examination by The Washington Post for the 2006-2007 school year, though “much of the controversial material had been removed, at least one book still contained passages that extolled jihad and martyrdom, called for victory over one’s enemies and said the killing of adulterers and apostates was ‘justified.’”
According to Ergun Caner, in the teaching of Islam, the Muslim as instructed, “Both externally and internally, must passionately hate those who stand against the expansion of Allah’s cause.” (pg. 35, Unveiling Islam).
Islam’s teaching and training focuses on ‘hate’, their ‘hate’ for non-believers in Islam.
I could go on, but as a reader by now you must have the idea of the differences that exist. Christians do not grow through war, but Muslims do. Christians approach is not to hate, but to love. Muslims want to conquer the world, by violent means as necessary. They continue to grow the program of conquest begun by Muhammad, dwelling on the ancient past. Christians want to grow the body of the faithful by peaceful means, leaving the governance of nations to others, praying though that leaders follow the ethical and moral precedents well outlined in the Word of God; progress is encouraged. Allah makes all final decisions. God assures those who believe in Christ as Savior, God incarnate, of a life eternal with Him (Salvation). Allah provides no assurance of Salvation, providing only suggestions on how to increase one’s chance for Salvation, the final selection that of Allah.
If you prepared a list of attributes of the god you would follow, how does that compare when considering Christianity vs. Islam. I always ask, “Who wouldn’t prefer peace?” “Who wouldn’t prefer being tolerant?” We are not all the same, but we all live in the same world. Why can’t we just get along? Promoting hate is not the answer to anything. As the technology of communication increases the population of the world become more proximate. Those living in fear for what they would prefer to accept as their personal way of life may find the courage to break-away and stand-up for freedom and liberty seeing how most of the world lives. They will see, possibly, also how terrorist acts committed in the cause of advancing Islam do little to advance world tranquility and security for family and neighbors. All parents love their children and should regard their god as a parent, loving, caring and accepting, protective and wanting the best for their offspring.
We must pray for a peaceful world, a world of tolerant people, accepting of others as they want to be accepted. We must pray to the God who has an ear for the petitions of the people, a loving God that provides Hope for everyone. Prayer is not the same repeated claims of Allah’s greatness, Muhammad as messenger, and hurry up to prayer to say over and over only rote statements, as it achieves little in developing a personal relationship with the eternal God.
Teach and train in peace and love, in tolerance and acceptance, in hand holding and embracing, in honesty and truth, and for a world where all can live in concert with each other, making harmonious sound together, even with differences.
It takes many instruments to comprise an orchestra and the symphony of life. The choice is who makes the best conductor.
Grace and Peace.
Note: You can order a copy of Wake Up! Wake Up! The Testimony of a Layman via www.TomBalderston.com. His new book, The Proven God, will be available this Fall.