Friday, January 01, 2010

Oh God, Where Are Three, I Mean, Thee?

There are fewer topics that can get people riled up more than religion. I generally avoid getting into religious discussions, as I am hardly the image of a religious scholar. But, when I see something totally stupid or retarded or bigoted, against my better judgement, I will comment on it.

A FaceBook connection of mine, Leroy Hite (a right-wing Bush-loving Bible-thumping conservative but still overall nice guy) posted a comment which I had to respond to.

That there is a "Minister" and others posting as if in the throes of some orgasmic rapture while typing their bigoted responses dooming others to hell or worse, made this even more entertaining.

It may also be mildly disconcerting for you to see that supposedly educated people can look upon other faiths with such intolerance. They appear to be no different than Taliban In Trousers.

Since FaceBook is not open to non-members, I am posting here the recent (ongoing) "discussion". It has been a while since I posted something like the good old newsgroup "debates" of 2 decades ago. If you're Christian, especially Catholic, or Muslim, or Jew, etc. surely something will amuse and surely something will aggravate you. What better way to enjoy religion in the new year? :-)

Happy New Year, 2010.


Leroy Hite * Muslims can proclaim their hatred for Jews & Chrisians which is a standard teaching in the Middle East, in all mosques, yet most in the West believe that we all pray to the same God? The Muslims themselves state that Allah is only applicable to them.
Tue at 8:30am
[This was Leroy's comment on some news story. I read his comment as well as the "gems" below & responded]

T Rene' Bachus Bowers basis is "spirit of jealousy."
Tue at 12:10pm

Mark La Roi Liberalism kills brain cells.
Tue at 12:26pm

Minister Patrick Williams Moon god worship. They deny Jesus as the son of God because their allah is not begotten, neither can he beget. This sets them apart from us and dooms them to hell.
Tue at 12:58pm

T Rene' Bachus Bowers unless or until they repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ which many are doing. Jesus is mercifully revealing Himself to many muslims in dreams and visions. may many, many more be brought to the King of kings and Lord of lords by His precious Blood--the only Way!
Tue at 1:25pm

Minister Patrick Williams This is so true, many are having dreams and visions from God, and are coming to the Lord. God desires all men to come to a saving knowledge of His son.
Tue at 1:41pm

Imran Anwar Leroy, sorry, but that is a ridiculous and frankly stupid comment. Muslims believe in Allah, the ONE God, the same as believed by Jews and Christians. We believe in Moses, Jesus etc as Prophets of that same ONE God. Christian fundos (read Bowers's above) post about how "their" God is superior.

Stop spreading hatred and stupid notions about Islam. It simply makes you appear similar to hate-filled AlQaeda supporters with their message of bile and falsehoods about others.
Tue at 6:21pm

Minister Patrick Williams You may say the one god until the end of life but it is not the one God we worship. Our God has a son name Jesus, yours does not. Our God has extend grace freely to us and we are sure, you hope you make it. So you see they are not the same.
lets look a little further.

We believe God became flesh. Not the same god you believe in.
وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ وَلِيٌّ مِنَ الذُّلِّ وَكَبِّرْهُ تَكْبِيرًا
and say: "All praise is due to God, who begets no offspring, and has no partner in His dominion, and has no weakness, and therefore no need of any aid" – and [thus] extol His limitless greatness.

There are many verses in the Koran where Muhammad denies the deity, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus and that He is the Son of God. The Jesus of Islam is just a man and prophet. He is even considered to be a lesser prophet to Muhammad because Muhammad is considered to be the highest prophet of Allah. But our God name is not allah, but
Yahweh, vocalized as Jehovah the tribal god of the ancient Hebrews. In Judaism and Christianity, the name Yahweh is the personal name of God. A name you do not know.
Tue at 6:55pm

Imran Anwar Muslims believe in ONE GOD, supreme being, creator of the Universe, who sent his message to many prophets, from Adam to Abraham to Moses to the immaculate conception of Prophet Jesus. We're not taught Prophet Muhammad was superior to Jesus (who we actually believe shall return, not Muhammad, as the Messiah). I do not believe Jews believe in 3 gods like Roman-paganized later Christianity taught, with most of those "teachings" coming centuries after the time of Jesus, prophet of the One God. (I never could figure out how believing in 3 entities qualifies as MONOtheism, but whatever floats your boat, err, ark, err cloud to heaven, padre ;-)
Tue at 7:42pm

Minister Patrick Williams I never could firgure out how a people could follow a man who had a 8 year old wife. Was a murderer and had no internal peace. A man who took piece of the bible and patched it together with the most ungodly teachings. You will never understand the nature of God, YHWH because you don't belong to him. Jesus said no man come to the Father but by Him. So if you are over there and left out maybe it because he hasn't dealt with you yet. Seek him while you can. Time is short a we shall see whose god is God. Peace be unto you.
Tue at 8:22pm

Leroy Hite Imran - The Doctrine of the Trinity is impossible to understand! That's what makes it believable! Nobody would or could have made up a doctrine like that - One God yet 3 Persons! Can you name the 3 persons of the Trinity Imran?
Tue at 8:50pm

Mark La Roi Let's boil this down to the base issue: is Jesus Christ almighty God?
Tue at 10:37pm

Minister Patrick Williams Yes! And anyone who does not accept this is not my brother.
Tue at 10:56pm

Imran Anwar Partick (and others), you are welcome to believe that 3 different entities can be ONE God. It is not my need or plan or job to convince you about how non-Monotheistic the Roman-Paganized versions of Christ's message of ONE GOD became. Far smarter people have written far better treatises on that.

A simple study of history shows how "modern" Christianity was created long after Jesus time. Ironically, Muslims consider attacks on Jesus blasphemy (or when some suggest "Virgin Mary" was covering for an illegitimate child begot from a life of sin).

So, I find it laughable for you to say things about Prophet Muhammad considering the child-molesting Church is as alive today as the bloodthirsty crusaders and Church leaders BURNING people ALIVE as heretics were far more recently. Christianity a religion of peace? Sure, if you want a good laugh.

If you want to trade slanders on other's religions, remember others can do far worse, and I don't think that is what Leroy wants his page to turn into. Thanks.
Wed at 12:13am ·

Leroy Hite Imran - Did you read my post just above? Christians do not believe that there are 3 Gods & the Trinity was taught hundreds of years before the Romans ever existed (see Is 9:6 for one example in our OT).

The burning alive as heretics & the Crusades were a Catholic event & we are Evangelical Protestants.

I'm glad that you & I are FB friends. You are obviously intelligent & likable but have gotten wrong teaching from liberal Christianity which is not Christian at all my friend.

Here's that link again about the Trinity again:
Wed at 10:01am

Minister Patrick Williams Think one of the major misunderstanding they have of Christians is that they try to lump of all together. As you stated we are not Catholic and frown upon all they did in the name of God. We hold to the true church, whereas they did many ungodly acts and still do. Jesus is God and there is no doubt about this. I care not for their teaching, it no more then the devils attempt to kill the promise God made to Abraham that His blessing should be upon Ishmael, who He foretold, would beget twelve princes and would become a great nation.
The devil raised up a man to distort this promise leading them down the wrong path. It gets no simpler then that. God wanted them to serve Him, but their so called prophet introduced them to another god, not the one we know, and wanted them to know him.
Wed at 2:02pm

Mark La Roi "A simple study of history shows how "modern" Christianity was created long after Jesus time."

~I'd like to see your proof.
Wed at 9:57pm

Minister Patrick Williams He doesn't know any better. He has studied the way the church evolved over the years and Constantine the Roman emperor 324 until his death in 337. He was known for being the first Christian Roman emperor who stopped the persecutions of his predecessor, Diocletian, issuing the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire. The church split later into two sections, eastern and west, both Catholic not protestant as we are. It was under his authority many things entered into the church that did not appear in the first church of the apostles. Pagans were allowed to retain many of their traditions and this brought into the church a form of godliness, which still exists in the Roman Catholic church today, but he can't see that we are not the same. We don't chant, burn incenses, we don't refuse to allow our ministers to marry, recongize the pope as Gods representive on earth, pray to Mary or go to any man seeking forgiveness. Nor do we make saints out of dead men. It is in the name of Jesus we pray. I pray he will research this for himself and see we are not the same but hold to the true teachings Jesus and of the church. I think most muslim people over there and over here are mislead about the differences. Most protestants see Catholics as more closely aligned to muslims. They use the same rosary, which we don't and because the Muslims have a certain devotion to Our Lady and recognize her Virgin Birth and Immaculate Conception, were intrigued by the fact that Mary had appeared at Fatima, which was the name of Mohammed's favorite daughter and regarded by the prophet as the highest woman in Heaven after our Lady. In Zanzibar the sultan placed a wreath of flowers at the Fatima statue's feet. This is why they tolarate Catholics but not protestants. God bless.
Wed at 10:38pm

T Rene' Bachus Bowers May I say that we have been bought by that precious, most wonderful Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ?! Hallelujah! The Blood of the King of kings and Lord of lords; the very One Who said, "I and the Father are One." What a marvelous mystery!!! It was His Blood that brought us into the very presence of Yahweh, into the Holy of holies--not something any man, prophet or any other, could do. May I go so far as to say, you might want to sit down on this one, that, because we have the very Spirit of God living on the inside of us (Wow!something we humans cannot fathom but accept by faith,) we have become a "Holy of holies." I was reading just yesterday in the book of John, these words, "For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send His Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him." Jn 3:16&17 Amplified What a Truth! What a Saviour!!! We should be on our knees right now! The very next verse goes on to say that, whoever trusts in/believes in this Christ will NEVER be judged or condemned, but that he or she who refuses to trust in Him will be condemned. These are not any man's words, but the very Words of God. All people of every tongue and nation, who have believed and trusted in this Jesus Christ as the Only WAY, will be the ones to be caught up in the clouds when He returns to earth.

My dear Imran, these words are not for argument, they are for an invitation for you to see for yourself and hopefully ask more questions. If I may suggest, ask Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Who He is to you. The reason I know He will is because He revealed Himself to me--and changed my life completely. I love Him sooo much for His undeserved favor in my life.
Oh my Father, I ask you to show Imran how very much you love him. Reveal Your love to him and cause him to know that You have an amazing plan for his life--better than any-thing he could ever plan or imagine! Thank You for Imran!
Would You kindly bless him richly? It is in Your Son's mighty
Name that I ask You to do this, the Name that is above every
Name, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You Abba Father, Amen--so be it.
Yesterday at 1:52pm

Imran Anwar Patrick, thanks for the additional laugh.. "They deny Jesus as the son of God because their allah is not begotten, neither can he beget. This sets them apart from us and dooms them to hell." One, it is Allah, not allah. Like I say Jesus, not jesus.

Anyway, by your statement, will Jews also be doomed to hell because they do not believe in the tri-theistic beliefs you have? And, what is your Christian belief in what will happen to the Jews when Jesus returns?

Leroy, I understand that Catholics burnt people alive, killed in crusades for power and wealth, give more power and pomp to an elected man the Pope than Jesus would want, etc. So, do you consider Catholics true Christians or more of a cult?

BTW, the Nazis killed lots of Catholics but history showed Protestants got along fairly well with Nazis as they went about their "work".

Mark, God's gift to mankind, called Google, will provide you info on history of how the current Bible came to be. (Do the MANY "versions" suggest it is the original word of God sent to Jesus?). And, I'd like to see your proof of Jesus as the son of God.

Lastly, Rene, that is the whole point. Faith is a matter of personal choice, not knowledge. You can believe what you want, I can believe what I want. The best of us will be those that live good lives by whatever our faith is and being good to other people. Happy New Year to all you.
3 hours ago

[You will love the responses this got, see below, emphasis added]

Mark La Roi "Mark, God's gift to mankind, called Google, will provide you info on history of how the current Bible came to be. (Do the MANY "versions" suggest it is the original word of God sent to Jesus?). And, I'd like to see your proof of Jesus as the son of God."

~You made the claim, now I merely ask you to back it up. I will not do your work for you. Share your side and I'll share mine. Either you have proofs or you are just sharing what you've been told, which is not knowledge, merely agreement. God does not force us to have faith in nothing, but gives a great deal of evidence.

I am not looking to pick a fight here, you made the claims.
about an hour ago

Minister Patrick Williams Every: The word of God tells us cast not your pearl before swine. Those who reject Christ are swine.
47 minutes ago

[UPDATE: Hilarious to see him come back a few hours later, delete the comment above either not realizing or remembering that FaceBook emails participants of these Wall post discussions all the posted messages as a record, so deleting it on the Wall page does not mean they disappear! His new update was simply:]

Minister Patrick Williams Cast not your pearls before swine
about a minute ago

In any case, my fellow Muslims, as well as Jews, Catholics, Hindus and others who do not subscribe to this idiot's beliefs, I hope you enjoyed being considered equal "swine" in the eyes of Minister Patrick Williams of Elizabeth City, North Carolina!

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Jeff said...

Now how come the things your interlocutors say about Islam are "bigotry" but the things you say about Christianity aren't?

Don't get me wrong: I am a Christian but I have no objection to your saying them. I think you honestly believe them. God bless you.

But I don't myself believe they are accurate. There are many brilliant Christians who are deeply versed in history, for example, who are not at all persuaded that a simple study of history shows that Christian teaching was "invented" centuries after the fact.

After a great deal of historical and theological reading *I* am not persuaded of that.

And I don't have any difficulty believing in the Trinity, which is not a question of "three entities", but of the single fount of all existence in the form of three persons. That's odd and mysterious, but not any more odd and mysterious than flat things being round (the earth) or straight lines in space being curved or many other things modern science proposes for our belief.

My point is just this:

Muslims often see Christianity and Christians too often see Islam in ways that believers in those religions find baffling. And sometimes offensive or hurtful. That's not "bigoted", it's just a difference in opinion.

~Mark said...

Hello imram,

I am still interested in your answer to my questions which even evidenced by your own post here, you never gave.

I am more than willing to have civil discussion and I don't think anything I offered falls under the heading of "bigotry".

IMRAN™ said...

Jeff, you are welcome to your beliefs, but somehow, believing in THREE things does not equate to believing in ONE entity. So, Jesus is a God to you? But he died (at least as Christians believe, since Muslims revere him and believe he was taken by God alive for the day he shall return) so, can God die?

If he was a creation of God (a miracle as we too believe in the virgin Mary) then how can he BE God? If God is the energy in all of us then that energy, life, whatever, is also within us. We are not gods. Worshipping a MAN (regardless of how great Jesus was, he was a MAN) is NOT faith and practice of belief in and worship of THE God that created everything, including Jesus.

Sorry, but relating that to a spurious comparison of the earth being flat (which it is not) and spherical at the same time makes no sense. What Science proposes, it also provides mechanisms to prove (otherwise they are merely hypotheses). Religion offers no proofs which is fine. I am OK with faith being based on the argument that we do not have the mechanisms to prove God exists or not and so it does not necessarily mean he does not exist, as atheists would like us to believe. But, superior holier than thou preachiness of fundamentalist crazy Christians is as distasteful as that of crazy Muslim, crazy Jews or crazy any others.

Faith should not require proof, but then it also should not be assumed superior to others' faiths by certain people who you can read about, to whom, anyone to whom Jesus is not God, is swine. Spoken like a good Christian Taliban would say it. ;-)

Mark, plenty of sources to read up more than IMRAN's blog on that topic... but, basically....

"The Apostles Creed (Symbolum Apostolorum) was developed between the second and ninth centuries."

(I am positive Jesus did not live to be 100 or 900 years old to develop this himself).

"It is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator. " <— which leads to:

"The Apostles' Creed (Latin: Symbolum Apostolorum or Symbolum Apostolicum), sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, a creed or "symbol".[1] It is widely used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism, the Anglican Communion, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists."

And this came about:

"The name of the Creed comes from the probably fifth-century legend" <— Hmmm, Fifth Century... interesting... not the lifespan of Jesus Christ or any normal human being, but something created centuries later.

"that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, each of the Twelve Apostles dictated part of it. It is traditionally divided into twelve articles.
Because of its early origin, it does not address some Christological issues defined in the later Nicene and other Christian Creeds. It thus says nothing explicitly about the divinity of either Jesus or of the Holy Spirit."

So, I repeat, even something in the FIFTH CENTURY, it says nothing "about the divinity of either Jesus or of the Holy Spirit." <— so that stuff came even LATER!

"This makes it acceptable to many Arians and Unitarians. Nor does it address many other theological questions that became objects of dispute centuries later." <— Meaning, most of modern Christian practices were created CENTURIES after Prophet Jesus was not around any more.



Jeff said...

Well, Imran, if you don't TRY to understand things, then you can't understand them! :p

My point about the flat/round earth is not that you can prove that God is both One and Three. You are right: Science can prove things in ways that religion cannot.

But that is not the question. The question is whether things that can SEEM contradictory are reconcilable. Whether we can PROVE them or not is a different question.

Religion says that things may be true even though we cannot prove them. If you don't want to accept that, then you have to be a rationalist and give up Islam and Christianity both.

Is the earth flat? Well, it depends on your definition of flat, doesn't it? And that keeps changing and seeming more contradictory as you learn more. No we know that space itself is curved, so the definition of flat recedes into the distance.

God is not a physical entity in space and time. Mathematics is the science of counting...and counting applies to objects in space and time. God is beyond space and time...He is not an entity like a fork or a swan. We would expect Him to be ultimately beyond our categories of understanding.

I have explained the Trinity to many believing Muslims who ended up saying, "Yes, I understand that. No logical contradiction. I don't BELIEVE it, but I see how Christians can believe it..."

It's really not that hard to understand, provided you don't start out by chuckling and teasing and refusing to try! :p


It is very easy to find evidence far earlier than the fifth century for the fact that Christians worshiped Jesus as divine. You don't need the Apostle's Creed.

Roman pagan authors from the first and second centuries say so. The writings of the Apostle John say so. So do the writings of the Apostle Paul.

Scholars disagree on the dating of these writings, but all date them very early...far earlier than the Apostle's Creed.

We believe that God the Holy Spirit lives in the Church and guides it into all truth over time. That's no harder for God to do than sending an angel to a prophet with a "perfect book".

All of these questions are matters of belief. Most Muslims believe that Christians are wrong. Most Christians believe that Muslims are wrong. This is a matter of opinion and of faith.

All you have to do is watch some of the wonderful debates now available on YouTube to discover that there are no definitive answers to any of these disputes.

IMRAN™ said...

Jeff, when was the last time you tried to understand, say, Hinduism and their belief in the Holy Cow or other animals? You believe what you believe.

I pointed out specific neutral sources of information showing how Christianity as practiced today was created centuries after Christ. That is something we Muslims also see in certain suspect "Hadith" (words or actions attributed to Prophet Muhammad but not in the Holy Quran) that may have been inserted by well- or ill-meaning "scholars".

Fortunately, we've avoided so far rewriting the Quran into new versions as Christianity has been updated over the centuries with "versions" of the Bible.

The last point you made is the point I was making, about people like the "Pastor" calling others who do not subscribe to his polytheistic or his vision of a man being a God that can also die, etc. as swine. That is neither faith, nor opinion, but proof of idiocy of people like that in every faith. :-)



Jeff said...

I've spent plenty of time trying to understand Hinduism. I reject it, but I don't make facile comments about it. You can't just say, "Hindus believe cows are god. How stupid can you get?" If it were really that dumb, intelligent people couldn't believe it.

No, Imran, you didn't settle it all with a neutral article. You pointed to one Wikipedia article on the Apostle's Creed.

Showing when the Apostle's Creed was written doesn't at all get into the question of when the belief about Christ's divinity and belief in the Trinity got started.

It's not that you didn't cite a neutral source. It's that you cited a source irrelevant to the question.

I think you are just relatively unfamiliar with the sources and questions involved.

No one maintains that belief in Christ's divinity developed later than the fifth century! :p No scholar, not even atheist scholars, dates the Gospel of John to later than the early second century (most date it earlier) and it tells us that Christ was God's Eternal Word who had lived forever and was Himself God. It tells us that Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham and that He was the Great "I Am".

Then there is St. Paul who tells us that Christ was the image of the invisible God who emptied Himself for our sake and took on human flesh. No unbelieving scholar dates that to later than the first century.

Trinity and Incarnation are fundamental beliefs of historical Christianity. They are not options for orthodox Christians. To disbelieve in the them is like a Muslim believing that the Quran is a book written by men. We are not dealing with something parallel to problematic hadith in Abu Dawood's collection or something like that. This is central stuff.

Yes, some Christians call Muslims swine. And plenty of Muslims return the favor in various ways.

Why should that mean that either Islam or Christianity in its classic forms are stupid? Billions of intelligent Christians and Muslims all around the world believe that unless those who reject Mohammed and the Quran or those who reject the salvation of Christ without excuse will be condemned.

Some are charitable about it. Some are not.

My quarrel with you is that you appear to think that educated or historically informed Christians don't believe in the divinity of Christ or the Trinity. Only silly uneducated fundamentalists do.

But that is far from being the case. :p Lots of highly intelligent people trained in the historical method and capable of the highest degree of abstract thought believe that those things are true and write scholarly and deeply cogent works defending them.

They won't all call you names! :p Lots of them will be very friendly to you. But I think if you spent some time getting to know them, you would set aside your idea that you can dismiss these ideas in a sentence or two. They have far more staying power than that!

Let me say for the record: I don't believe you are a swine. I think you are very nice and intelligent individual who is very much worth reading. But you are someone who has a superficial idea of what Christianity is like.

Spend some time talking to more of us and your ideas will deepen, as my idea of Islam have deepened from spending time with educated Muslims.

I don't mind it when Muslims call me names. And they certainly have! :p One fellow told me that Muslims must curse all Christians. I replied by saying that if he really thought that was true, I had no objection to his cursing me. But my response was to ask God to shower him and his family with blessings and happiness.

We are good friends, despite his Salafist views! :p

Views which I treat with respect, and, yes, try to understand without sneering at them.

~Mark said...

Hi Imram,

I didn't realize you'd actually posted a response here! I'm glad you did. I'd like to point out that WikiPedia is a terrible source for reliable information on so important a topic. Even so, if the Apostle's Creed were to disappear today, never to be seen again that would not harm Christianity because the Creed doesn't settle Truth, the Scriptures do.

That said, the Creed is merely a statement agreeing to what is already known. It is not the origin of the ideas agreed to within. Has there never been a statement put together by an organization that clarifies what that group already believes?

The Apostle's Creed itself MUST agree with Scripture or be discarded because Scripture is the final written authority.