Friday, June 23, 2017

Review of Reza Aslan’s testimony, 
“Why I Am A Muslim.”

Reza Aslan wrote a book entitled, “Zealot” in which he attacks the historic Christian faith. Among his many slanders and attacks on Jesus Christ are the following points:

He claims Jesus was not born in Bethlehem, was executed as a common criminal, and was more of a rabble-rouser than a man of peace. Jesus, according to Aslan, was more like a revolutionary of the type of Che Guevara rather than the Prince of Peace. When Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple that was “A blatantly criminal act.” Thus he lays sins and crimes on the Savior. His analysis of Jesus was that He was a dangerous seditionist that Rome had no choice but to execute for His stirring up rebellion against the republic. Jesus was not a miracle worker but one of many traveling magicians duping the public. Finally, Jesus was not a humble Son of God but a proud trouble maker who stirred up the masses to riot against Rome. 

How many of the main evangelical preachers of our day can you list that wrote or preached publicly about this book that attacks our Lord?

This Iranian born Muslim living in the United States enjoys the freedom of speech in his new country. He can do here what no American can do there (in Iran). He, like many other Muslims, is taking advantage of our liberties and laws to undermine our liberty and laws. Reza Aslan is just one of thousands of Muslim voices that are seeking to destroy the Christian faith. The Apostles in the New Testament called upon all believers to defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints. Sadly, too many believers have been silenced by the pressure put on them by society that calls those who speak the truth about this false religion bigots and racists. The silence of so many millions of Christians in the face of these current religious wars is the shame and disgrace of our generation. Isaac Watts said it better than I can say it:

Am I a soldier of the Cross
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies 
On flowery beds of ease,
While others faught to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face,
Must I not stem the flood,
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To lead us on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign
increase my courage Lord,
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

I am deeply offended by the teaching of every corrupt philosophy, false gospel, and man made cult. I have spent my life defending “The Old Rugged Cross” and the Savior who shed His precious blood there. This is not a time for the Lord’s people to sit back in silence when there are unbiblical and heretical religions attacking our faith, mocking our Lord, and seeking to undermine everything our forefathers labored to achieve.

If the following American preachers were alive today do we even have to guess if they would be silent in the defense of the Christian faith.   These men, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, Lyman Beecher, Charles Hodge, D.L. Moody, Bob Jones Sr. J. Gresham Machen, B.B. Warfield, James Henley Thornwell, B.H. Caroll, John A. Broadus, H.A. Ironside, John Murray,  Cornelius Van Tyl, Francis Schaeffer, James Montgomery Boice, D. James Kennedy, Rousas John Rushdooney, W.A. Criswell, M.R. Dehaan, to just name a few of the great preachers and defenders of the faith, would not be on the sidelines during this crucial time in our history. We are failing to follow in their footsteps and proving ourselves unloyal and derelict in our duty to defend and to proclaim our Lord’s gospel.

I want to review the following article by Reza Aslan. That this man is having so much influence on American culture, thought, faith, and life is an indication of how far we have fallen as a nation. 

Reza Aslan: Why I am a Muslim

Updated 10:46 AM ET, Wed April 19, 2017

Reza Aslan is the author of "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" and the host of CNN's original series "Believer With Reza Aslan." The views expressed are his own.
(CNN), As a writer and scholar of religions, I am often asked how, knowing all that I know about the religions of the world, I can still call myself a believer, let alone a Muslim.

It's a reasonable question. Considering the role that religion so often plays in fueling conflicts abroad and inspiring bigotry at home, it is not always so easy to defend the value of religion in society. And, in a world in which reason and religion seem to be moving further apart, it is certainly understandable why so many people view religious faith as the hallmark of an irrational mind.

Of course, as someone who has spent the better part of the last two decades studying the world's religions -- and having recently crisscrossed the globe for my new spiritual adventure series "Believer," where I immerse myself in religious traditions both familiar and downright bizarre -- I know better than to take the truth claims of any religion (including my own) too seriously.

But I also know this: Religion and faith are not the same thing.

'A signpost to God’

Faith is mysterious and ineffable. It is an emotional, not necessarily a rational, experience.

Religion is a fairly recent human invention. But faith, as I have elsewhere argued, is embedded in our very evolution as human beings.

And yet, in the end, faith is nothing more or less than a choice. You either believe there is something beyond the physical world (as I do), or you don't. You either believe you are more than the sum of your material parts (as I do), or you don't. You either believe in the existence of a soul (as I do), or you don’t.

No one can prove or disprove these things, not any more than anyone can prove or disprove love or fear or any other human emotion.

Religion, on the other hand, is the language we use to express faith. It is a language made up of symbols and metaphors that allows people to express to each other (and to themselves) what is, almost by definition, inexpressible.

After all, if there is a God, then that God is utterly beyond human comprehension. How would one talk about -- or even think about -- something so completely foreign? We would need some kind of language to help us make sense of it, a set of symbols and metaphors we can all agree upon to help us define what is fundamentally indefinable.

That's where religion comes in. Beyond the doctrines and dogma, the do's and the don't's, religion is simply a framework for thinking about the existential questions we all struggle with as human beings.

It is, as the Sufi mystics say, a "signpost to God."Can you have faith without religion? Of course! But as the Buddha said, if you want to strike water, you don't dig six 1-foot wells; you dig one 6-foot well. In other words, if you want to have a deep and meaningful faith experience, it helps -- though it is by no means necessary -- to have a language with which to do so. So then, pick a well. Different words, same thing

My well is Islam, and in particular, the Sufi tradition. Let me be clear, I am Muslim not because I think Islam is "truer" than other religions (it isn't), but because Islam provides me with the "language" I feel most comfortable with in expressing my faith. It provides me with certain symbols and metaphors for thinking about God that I find useful in making sense of the universe and my place in it.
So... what do you believe?

But I know, just as the Buddha did, that while my personal well may be different and unique, the water I draw from it is the same water drawn from everyone else's wells. Indeed, having drunk from many wells in my spiritual journey, I consider it my mission in life to inform the world that, no matter the well, the water tastes just as sweet. Consider the following parable by the great Sufi master Jalal ad-Din Rumi, which I recount in my book, "No god but God”:

A Persian, a Turk, an Arab and a Greek are traveling to a distant land when they begin arguing over how to spend the single coin they share in common. The Persian wants to spend the coin on angur; the Turk, on uzum; the Arab, on inab; and the Greek, on stafil.

A linguist passing by overhears the argument. "Give the coin to me," he says. Taking the coin, the linguist goes to a nearby shop and buys the travelers four small bunches of grapes.

"This is my angur!" cries the Persian.
"But this is what I call uzum," replies the Turk.
"You have brought me my inab," the Arab says.
"No! This in my language is stafil," says the Greek.

The travelers suddenly realize that they were all asking for the same thing, but in different languages. My goal -- as a scholar, as a person of faith, and now as the host of "Believer" -- is to be the linguist, to demonstrate that, while we may speak in different religions, we are, more often than not, often expressing the same faith.

And that, regardless of whether you, too, are a believer or not, is a lesson worth learning.

A Pastor’s Response To Reza Aslan’s 
Testimony As To Why He 
Is A Muslim

This is the man who said of president Trump that he was “a piece of sh___t.” What kind of moral example and and ethical picture does this man display to others? His religion evidently allows for profanity, bigotry, and arrogance.

He calls himself a scholar of religions. And yet he says he does not take the truth claims of any religion too seriously, even his own. He writes, 

“I know better than to take the truth claims of any religion (including my own) too seriously.”

What good is a person’s religion if you cannot trust it’s truth claims? This is the major problem with all the various religions in the world. They all claim to be true but they all differ so widely on many crucial points. The real issue of studying religion is to recognize that they cannot all be true. Where does the truth lie? Are all religions false or is there one among them that stands out from the rest that can verify its truth claims? If Reza Aslan cannot even trust his own religion how can we trust him on any thing he might say about the rest of the religions of the world?

Reza goes on to say, “Faith is mysterious and ineffable. It is an emotional, not necessarily a rational, experience.” This shows his utter lack of knowledge of the Christian faith that calls on men to make a rational evaluation of the evidence of the resurrection of Christ and calls on all men to repent of their sin and trust in His gospel. The Christian message calls for a rational faith that is based on historical truths that can be verified by historical and biblical evidence.

The article continues with more contradictory nonsense that both Christians and Muslims reject. He writes,

“Religion is a fairly recent human invention. But faith, as I have elsewhere argued, is embedded in our very evolution as human beings.”

Neither Muslims nor Christians believe in evolution and neither would agree that religion is the invention of man. Key to both Islam and Christianity is the claim that the one true God revealed Himself to man. Thus both Christians and Muslims believe that their religion was a revelation from the God of Creation. What kind of Muslim is Reza Aslan? The Quran and the Bible both reject by default the unproven theory of Evolution. 

Speaking of eternity beyond this life, of the human soul, and speaking of the value of man’s existence Reza claims,

No one can prove or disprove these things, not any more than anyone can prove or disprove love or fear or any other human emotion.”

Evidently Reza holds to his religion on the basis of blind faith. The Christian faith never argues for men to accept it on the basis of blind faith. The Christian faith is demonstrated by historical facts and by many evidences found in the Christian Scriptures themselves, which include the miracles of Jesus, His resurrection, the conversion of the Apostle Paul, the unique character of the New Testament and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The great doctrines of the Christian faith rest on mountains of God-given evidence both by special and general revelation.  Evidently Reza Aslan chooses to believe in Islam based on blind faith while holding to doctrinal views such as evolution and the invention of religion by man which contradict the very Scriptures he claims to revere. 

Aslan sees religion as merely a collection of symbols and metaphors to reveal the nature of God to us. After expressing this thought about religion he comes to the real reason he is a Muslim. He states:

“Let me be clear, I am Muslim not because I think Islam is "truer" than other religions (it isn't), but because Islam provides me with the "language" I feel most comfortable with in expressing my faith. It provides me with certain symbols and metaphors for thinking about God that I find useful in making sense of the universe and my place in it.”

His reason for believing in Islam is not because he thinks it is true. Can you imagine such a view? He claims it is not true than any other religion. So why would he hold to Islam if it is not truer than the other religions in the world? In shocking candor he says because, “Islam provides me with the language I feel most comfortable with…” This is an astonishing claim. He continues and says that Islam provides him with symbols that he finds useful in making sense of the universe. In essence what Reza Aslan is saying is that he is not a Muslim because of the conviction of truth, or because there is a moral authority within that religion, or because the Quran provides irrevocable absolutes that command his allegiance. No, he is a Muslim because Islam makes him feel comfortable and seems useful to him.  This is hardly the reason for anyone to commit to a faith, and especially a faith like Islam that is so filled with problematic doctrine and has such a terrible record throughout history for violence and bloodshed. And yet this man calls himself an authority on religion and has written a book “Zealot” filled with blasphemies against the historic Christian faith and slanders the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reza Aslan continues and makes another surprising admission. He tells us that all religions are basically the same. This is completely in contradiction with the dogmas of Islam. Aslan uses the analogy of drawing water from a well to describe ones’ faith. It does not matter what well (religion) you draw your water from it is all the same and is still sweet to the soul. He says:

the water I draw from it is the same water drawn from everyone else's wells. Indeed, having drunk from many wells in my spiritual journey, I consider it my mission in life to inform the world that, no matter the well, the water tastes just as sweet.” 

If this man is an expert on world religions, as he claims, he must know that the nonsense he is writing is in conflict with the teachings of his own faith? He has made massive attacks against the Christian faith. Yet he has found a home on national American TV spouting his anti-Christian bigotry and defending Islam at every opportunity that presents itself. The popularity of Reza Aslan is found in the fact that he has tapped into the anti-Christian nerve of secular, atheistic American and Western society. By doing this he can continue his anti-Christian rant and wrap himself up in the respectability of godless American culture while giving credence and support to Islam at every opportunity. This is a clever man. CNN has been duped by his pious platitudes when he claims that all religions are equal and the same. How nicely this fits in with the anti-Christian spirit of our Western world. Reza Aslan is too smart to not know what the Quran stands for. But by his clever embracing of Western sentiments about the equal value of all religions he can continue to mock the Christian faith, criticize any American leader who may be alert to the dangers of Islam, and remain an apologist for his own Muslim faith.

To summarize this testimony briefly it needs to be said that Reza Aslan is proclaiming a false message that contains not even one tiny nugget of spiritual value. He does not give us any surprising insights into the Quran and the Islamic faith that would lead us to want to embrace it. He preaches the age old lie that all religions are equally valid and all lead to the same place. While he plays up to his duped American audience he winks over to the side at his Muslim friends. He knows that they know he is only fooling the uninformed and gullible American public. For Muslims, he serves as a useful tool to advance the Islamic faith, to Americans, he mocks their historic Christian faith and slanders the Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of the Apostle Paul, this man “is an enemy to the cross of Christ.” It is tragic that the American people, once steeped in the historic Christian worldview, cannot recognize this.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Can Moderate Muslims Reform Islam?

I have just returned from a two week trip to England and Wales. Just before we left and just after we returned two incidents of Islamic terrorism took place in England. The first attack was in Manchester, England and the second attack took place on London Bridge in London, England.

There is not a day that passes that there are not suicide bombings, violent attacks against non-Muslims, and terrorist incidents all over the world. Data on international terrorism has recorded that between 1969 and 2009 alone, there were 38,345 terrorist incidents around the world, most of which were Islamic. Of these attacks, 7.8 percent (2,981) were directed against the United States. So far this month in Ramadan experts have recorded 46 terror attacks in the name of Islam with 510 killed. The number of terror attacks perpetrated by other religions—0.

One thing that is shared by nearly all of the attacks is that the ones who commit them claim they are doing these acts of violence in the name of Islam. Verses from the Quran are quoted and praise is given to Allah for allowing them the success in killing infidels.

We face an amazing irony. The terrorists almost universally claim that they are doing these reprehensible acts of terror in the name of Islam. And almost equally universal is the cry from the political leaders of the West that these terrible acts have nothing to do with Islam. Nothing could be more absurd than the two claims that are so contradictory. Another disappointing coincidence after the occurrence of these awful incidents is that they are almost universally followed by condescending lectures from the media, political elites and from the entertainment world that the real tragedy we face today is not from Islamic fanatics but from right wing racists, Islamophobes and those who dare criticize Islam.

In the light of these daily attacks by Muslims all over the world it is beyond bizarre that the fault for these attacks is attributed to the victims and those who protest these activities rather than those who do such terrible things.

When Muslim fanatics blow up buses, rape women, kill children, burn churches, deface Christian symbols, the blame is placed on the West for its racism, imperialism, Colonialism, and its anti-Muslim bigotry.

In the aftermath of these terrible incidents the discussion seems to always come up, “Can moderate Muslims reform Islam?” Those who are banking on a moderate form of Islam to bring pressure on the more radical elements of that faith will be surely disappointed.

For fourteen centuries this religion has waged a continual war against the rest of the world. As long as there are massive numbers of Muslims moving West there will not be peace or safety in our streets and cities. We have entered a new day in our lives. Because we have not understood the nature of this false religion, that mocks the Christian faith, that dishonors our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and is determined to eradicate if from the  face of the earth we will live in constant fear and terror. We are being told that, “this is the new norm—get used to it.”

What Israel has lived with for years has now come to our shores. The situation will get worse. Our lack of leadership to understand the threat and the will to fight it will only exasperate the problems we face. This causes us to consider the question, “Can moderate Muslims bring reform to Islam?” There is no evidence to suggest that this can be a possibility on any major scale. Those who think otherwise are delusional. Ultimately, this its a war of religious ideas. The West has rejected its Christian roots and heritage. As a consequence it does not have the necessary tools to intellectually and philosophically to challenge the false religious presuppositions of Islam.

For many people, it must sound strange to hear that the proper weapon to use in the fight against Islam is the preaching of the cross of Christ, the declaration of His resurrection, and the explanation of His virgin birth and vicarious atonement. Not until the truth claims of the Bible are laid side by side with the claims of the Quran will we see any major advances in destroying this false religion.  While our political leaders and philosophical thinkers pontificate about the value of religious pluralism and the idea that all religions are equally true and valid, Muslims themselves vociferously reject that as nonsense and heresy. Evidently, Muslims see things more clearly than do our political leaders. CNN even hired a Muslim newscaster  who has written a book attacking the deity of Jesus Christ and mocking the faith of all Christians. The shocking absurdity of this is only seen if we consider how unlikely a Christian writer, who has attacked and smeared the prophet Mohammad, might be hired in a Muslim country to be on television presenting the news. Unbelievable!  This is how muddled we are in our thinking.

This is a battle of religions ideas. Failure to recognize this not only exasperates the problem it virtually guarantees our defeat. The reason it will be impossible for moderate Muslims to reform Islam is because the three sources for Islamic doctrine, practice, and belief are filled with violence, calls for jihad, and examples of Islamic bigotry.  The three sources are the Quran, the Hadith, and the official Muslim biography of Muhammed. It is impossible to purify a river if the source is incurably polluted.

The world needs to honestly face the contents of these three sources of Islamic faith. Unless the true nature of these sources are exposed, and demonstrated to be morally bankrupt, we will continue to carry buckets of water to throw overboard while our Titanic is sinking.
Merely fighting terrorism by searching for cells of Muslim extremists who are plotting acts of violence, and trying to prevent them from committing such incidents will not solve our problems. Such tactics will not have any success in eliminating this massive problem. Unless the root is destroyed the tree will continue to produce rotten fruit. One former Muslim born in Iran and now living in the West had the courage to write:

“You cannot reform Islam and you cannot transform it. All you can and should do, is dump it. Please, let us stop this charade. Either be a Muslim and do as Muhammad said or leave Islam and don’t become a shield for the terrorists. Don’t muddy the waters. Don’t mix among the enemy and pose as a friend.

If our  political leaders entertain some wishful thinking that moderate Muslims will eventually reform their faith they will surely be disappointed. This problem is here to stay. And because we are clueless on how to deal with this problem the future is bleak  indeed.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Timothy Library

If you were stranded on an Island or had to seclude yourself somewhere for an extensive period of time what books would you take with you? Here is a suggestion of some of the great books that have been a blessing to me over the years. There are several suggestions from my dear friend Dewi Higham. How many of these great books have you read? It would be a wise person who would note these books, purchase them, and then read them. 

The Bible calls us to grow in grace. These books and others like them will be a great help to that end.
  1. The Bible
  2. A hymn book
  3. Matthew Poole's Commentary (2 vol.)
  4. Pilgrim's Progress
  5. Calvin's Institutes (2 vol.)
  6. Romans Chapter 5 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  7. Precious Things Of God by Octavious Winslow
  8. Spurgeon's New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, (4 vol.)
  9. The Presence of God by Matthew Henry
  10. The Biography of Elijah by A. W. Pink
  11. The Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson
  12. The Great Preachers of Wales
The man who will not read is not much better than the man who cannot read. Read and grow in grace!