Jeremiah Wright’s Most Dangerous Comment

On Monday, Pastor Jeremiah Wright had the following exchange with the moderator at the National Press Club (transcript):

MODERATOR: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.’ Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?”

WRIGHT: “Jesus also said, ‘Other sheep have I who are not of this fold.'”

Wright’s response clearly implies that Muslims are among the “other sheep” to which Jesus refers in John 10:16. Thus Wright affirms that people who do not have conscious faith in Christ can nevertheless have the hope of salvation — an inclusivist position that argues there are many paths to God.

There are two questions that need be addressed: (1) Did Jesus intend to include non-believers in the group called “other sheep”? (2) What difference does it make? Let’s take a look.

In context, “other sheep” cannot be credibly understood as including anyone but genuine believers in Jesus Christ. The first half of John 10 is dominated by a metaphor that Jesus uses to describe His relationship to his people. Jesus is the “shepherd,” and His people are called “sheep.” Jesus describes His sheep as having a number of characteristics. Sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd, and they follow Him (10:3-4). Sheep do not listen to “strangers,” but only to the voice of their own shepherd (10:5, 8). Sheep find salvation only by coming to their shepherd (10:9).

The metaphor cashes out as follows. Jesus is the shepherd, and His people are the sheep. Jesus lays down His life for his people, and the only way that they can be saved is through Jesus. The people whom Jesus saves listen only to Jesus. They do not listen to the “thieves and robbers” who have come to destroy them (10:10). Thus only people who come to Jesus by faith are able to be saved.

When Jesus says that he has “other sheep who are not of this fold,” it’s likely that he is referring to Gentiles who would later come to faith in Christ. The sheep that are following Him at that point in the narrative are Jews, but Jesus aims to have followers from among the Gentiles as well. Whoever the “other sheep” are understood to be, they nevertheless have the characteristics of “sheep.” They listen to and follow Christ, and they are saved only by Him.

To say that “other sheep” refers to unbelievers (or followers of Islam in Reverend Wright’s case) simply runs roughshod over the plain meaning of the passage.

What difference does all this make? The media has been discussing how Reverend Wright’s remarks affect the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama. Frankly, I am not at all concerned with that question here. Eternity is at stake in Wright’s remarks, and that transcends any political campaign.

Here’s the real import of what Wright said. Many people who hear Jeremiah Wright are likely to get the impression that Jesus is one of many paths that people might take to get to God. Jesus never taught any such thing. In fact, he always challenged His hearers with a stark choice. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus would brook no rivals, and He only made salvation available to those who would “honor the son” (John 5:23).

The Jeremiah Wrights of the world mislead people into thinking that Jesus Christ is one path among many that people might take to get to God. Jesus taught just the opposite. There is only one path that leads people to salvation, and it’s Jesus. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). To miss that path means forfeiting eternal life. The stakes couldn’t get any higher than that.

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UPDATE (5/5/08): For those who might be interested, the essay above got picked up by the Baptist Press and then by Townhall.com. The Townhall.com coverage led to at least two features on talk radio: one a local program and the other a nationally syndicated program.

The local program is the one on which I am an occasional guest host, “Jerry Johnson Live.” You can listen to it below. The relevant portion begins at 16:00.

[audio:http://www.dennyburk.com/JJL/2008_04_30.mp3]

The other program is called “The Way of the Master Radio,” and the hosts are Kirk Cameron (a.k.a. Mike Seaver), Ray Comfort, and Todd Friel. You won’t want to miss this one since they took time to make fun of my hair: “That guy must be a Baptist. Just look at his hair!” This is a pretty light-hearted show. I figured that out when I heard the host use the word “zoinks.” Anyway, the relevant portion occurs at 3:46-9:08.

[audio:http://podcast.wayofthemasterradio.com/audio/podcasts/0408/WOTMR-04-30-08-Hour2.mp3]

105 Responses to Jeremiah Wright’s Most Dangerous Comment

  1. Jonathan Moorhead April 29, 2008 at 9:36 am #

    The moor I hear about this guy, the moor I am totally disgusted and angry. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the South and see the damage it has done to the black church.

  2. Just a handmaiden April 29, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    The “other sheep not of this fold” to which Jesus spoke of, are of the Gentiles, that will be saved. The Gospel was preached to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. Peter was called as Apostle to those of the Circumcision (The Jews), while Paul was called to those not of the Circumcision (The Gentiles. (Galatians 2:7-9) Jeremiah Wright, should know better than that, as well so should Joel Osteen, but yet they preach this unBiblical nonsense. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life NO MAN comes to the Father but through Christ. He who denies the Son, also has not the Father. (1 John 2:23) Islam denies the Son of God.

  3. Paul April 29, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    Can’t argue with you this time, Denny. I watched the whole thing, and I largely agreed with him up to this point in the discussion.

    After that, for all of his talk about how the pulpit and the podium are different things with different intent, I realized just how much of a politician Wright really is.

  4. jeremy z April 29, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    I have a problem with your language which leads me to disagree with your conclusions. You said: “this clearly implies that Muslims are among the “other sheep””

    How can an implications which is an indirect connotation, be clear? How can we have a clear implication? It is like saying we have a clear smoke screen? These two words (implies and clear) are in contradiction. If an implication is clear therefore it does not make it an implication. Implication has a many other logical options, therefore an implication cannot be clear.

    Wright never clearly states Muslims are among the other sheep. The moderator uses the Islam religion as an example. AND Wright never uses the word “Islam” and Muslim” in his speech. So how can we say Wright is referring to this idea that these other sheep are Muslims? We cannot.

    In addition, if you read more of the speech the moderator asks about how other races would feel being apart of his church?

    In my perspective I think the moderator wanted to know how Wright welcomes “other of other races” (not just Muslims) into his church and if Jesus is the only way.

    Denny I am sorry I cannot except your argument until Wright clearly states (not imply) that he endorses a universal salvation. Let me be clear I am a firm believer in Jesus as the only way.

    I just do not appreciate that Denny fills in the missing words to what Wright actually stated.

    However great exegesis.

  5. Paul April 29, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    Jeremy,

    you’re off your rocker on this one. You’d have to be stretching like elastic man to say with a straight face that Wright wasn’t referring to Muslims in this statement. Take what you will from reading it. I saw it, and it was beyond obvious what he meant.

    The dumbest part of a comment like that is that it not only undoes Jesus’ claim of exclusivity, but it also undermines Muhammed’s claim of exclusivity in the Koran. I think that both Muslim scholars and Christian scholars would agree that if we’re right, they’re doomed, and if they’re right, we’re doomed. There’s no two ways about it. This is where the Bahais have it wrong, and it’s where Wright has it wrong as well.

  6. Brett April 29, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    It still does no good to attribute that which Wright says and believes to Obama. The media did an absolutely terrible job with his post-9/11 remarks…ripping quotes way out of context for shock value. After reading the actual sermon, I don’t know many people who would actually disagree with the point Wright was making.

    I surely hope nobody attributes the beliefs of my old pastor of 15 years to me. Even after I came to find out how much I disagreed with him, I still went to the church and sat under him. However, I didn’t agree with him nor did he “brainwash” me. Therefore, to attribute the beliefs and views of Wright to Obama is immature, unfair, and simply childish. Why we have even made a big deal out of this is beyond me.

    Regarding his statements in this interview, I certainly belief he’s wrong and the other sheep are certainly not other religions. That’s way out of context, and I do believe Denny is right in saying the “other sheep” are the Gentiles. Jesus was not pointing towards inclusivism, nor was he pointing towards election in the sense Calvinists understand it (and John Piper interprets this verse). He was simply communicating that God’s plan includes the Gentiles as well as the Jews, which would have sparked outrage to the hearers of this. To read anything else into this is eisegesis at its finest.

  7. Kevin J April 29, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    Jeremy,

    Denny is not saying that the “implication” is clear in and of itself, but that it is clearly an implication.

    Can you cleary see an implication yet the implication is not clear “itself”? I think so.

    Kevin

  8. Just a handmaiden April 29, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    Jeremy,

    I have to disagree with the way in which you read that.

    If one were to say “this implies that Muslims are clearly among the “other sheep.” I could see your point, but the way it is written, the writer does not contradict himself in my opinion. From what I can tell, it seems the writer is only emphasizing that Wright’s intention is clear when Wright implied xyz. I could be wrong also, but that is the way I read it.

    “this clearly implies that Muslims are among the “other sheep””

  9. Nuwanda April 29, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    jeremy

    You are really on shaky ground here. Denny is right to see that Wright’s comments logically imply inclusivism as follows:

    1) If Xs are Sheep then Xs are saved (John 10)
    2) Muslims are sheep (Wright’s comments)
    3) (Logically entails) Therefore, Muslimes are saved

    Either show where this argument is wrong or admit that this guy is an unorthodox inclusivist who should be called out by the christian community.

  10. Benjamin A April 29, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    MODERATOR: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.” Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?
    WRIGHT: Jesus also said, “Other sheep have I who are not of this fold.”

    I too can see how one implication from this statement could be that Islam also is a way of Salvation (inclusiveism).

    However, I also could imply that Mr. Wright’s implication is that Jesus is also in the business of saving others from Islam.

    Notice the question : “And do you think Islam is a way TO salvation”? Not a way OF salvation.

  11. Just a handmaiden April 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    Benjamin,

    I think that is just some semantics there.
    Wright’s response is not a correct and Biblical response, even though He used Scripture. He used Scripture out of context to indirectly answer a question, he did not want to answer, because he knew if he told the truth that NO, ISLAM in no way is a way TO salvation, as Islam leads in the opposite direction (Muslims are commanded to KILL Christians and Jews, hello?, he would offend some people whom he has apparently been kissing up to with a PC lukewarm new age gospel, and if he really told that group what they wanted to hear outright, he would have exposed himself clearly among those who do know the truth, so he tried to be coy, but unfortunately for him, he still stands naked and exposed before those who have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within them, and has not deceived them with his dance of deception.

  12. Kris April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    I agree with Just a handmaiden & Denny.

    Mr Wright didn’t answer either question and left the door open to Islam being “another fold” and the Lord’s “other sheep”. I don’t see how anyone can explain this away.

  13. Friend of Jesus, April 29, 2008 at 1:53 pm #

    handmaiden said:

    “Islam denies the Son of God.”

    If you learn what Islam actually teaches you would know that Islam doesn’t deny Jesus, he is a Messenger of God like Moses and Abraham. What it does teach is that he is not a partner of God (the Father) who should be worshiped like God. This isn’t far from the verse seen above in Matthew:

    “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24)

    As for Muslims being commanded to kill Christians and Jews, last I checked it was Christians and Jews who were killing Muslims. So should I blame the Bible or Jesus for this? Or should I blame those who claim to follow Jesus but betrayed his message and killed unjustly? At least Mr. Wright got that portion right.

  14. Benjamin A April 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    Handmaid,

    You may be right. You also may be completely wrong. But seeing how the Holy Spirit has shown you clearly what Mr. Wright’s intentions were, it’s obviously a mute point.

    You said, “He used Scripture out of context to indirectly answer a question,…”

    It seemed to me that he wasn’t answering the question given him, but was instead giving another statement of fact from the mouth of Jesus; just as the moderator did by quoting Jesus.

    One stated fact is that Jesus said, “I am the way, truth, life, no man….”.

    Notice Wrights opening comment- “JESUS ALSO SAID, “I have other sheep….”.

    The fact is that other sheep are being saved from Islam.

    Let me be clear; I don’t know what Wright was actually thinking in his head by making the statement he made to that question. I’m simply saying other implications, from my perspective can be made.

  15. Rufus April 29, 2008 at 3:05 pm #

    jeremy

    You are really on shaky ground here. Denny is right to see that Wright’s comments logically imply inclusivism as follows:

    1) If Xs are Sheep then Xs are saved (John 10)
    2) Muslims are sheep (Wright’s comments)
    3) (Logically entails) Therefore, Muslimes are saved

    Either show where this argument is wrong or admit that this guy is an unorthodox inclusivist who should be called out by the christian community.

  16. Quixote April 29, 2008 at 3:32 pm #

    Friend of J:

    Are you SERIOUS? The Koran teaches Muslims to kill (beheading is preferred) all infidels who won’t submit to the way of Islam. Christians and Jews are at the top of the list. And, yes, Muslims are busy about their lord’s work. And those Muslims who are busy killing or plotting to kill are not betraying Muhammed’s message. I’ve read the Koran. The message is clear.

  17. Carrie April 29, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    Brett,
    Obama was married in that church, raised his family in that church, attended for 20 years in that church. He has maintained an affiliation with that church to the present..until yesterday. Yes, it is fair to attribute the pastor’s beliefs to Obama. If Obama was opposed to his pastor’s beliefs, he and his wife would surely have removed their family from the church at a much earlier date. I do not think this says much for Obama’s judgement.

    It is a sad thing when Rev. Wright could offer the true hope of new life in Jesus Christ and instead feeds his flock lies and politics.

  18. Kris April 29, 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Have we lost the ability to give clear answers to to clear questions?

    Is the inability to give clear answers the result of an emerging understanding that nothing at all can really be understood?

  19. Rufus April 29, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    Friend of Jesus: You shouldn’t just quote a verse. Do the work of presenting the whole of what Jesus is saying in that passage for any real dialouge. In context, Jesus is talking about relying on God as he taught by prayer and expounds in the chapter. It is not a section dealing directly with his relation to the Father. Elsewhere it is clear that he makes himself to be equal to God, as it says explicitly in John 5:18 and the context bear out, showing how Jesus is functionally subordinate but ontologically equal with the Father. Christians have always believed this. Muslims do not. Wright is wrong, and they (Muslims) are not sheep for they DO NOT follow Christ and His apostles’ teaching as Jesus’ promises his sheep would do in John 10.

  20. Brett April 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Carrie,

    Did you even read my post? I went to a church for 15 years where I didn’t believe 50% of what the pastor said and I didn’t leave. You don’t have to believe everything the church teaches to attend there…in fact, I think it is more healthy if you don’t.

    So Rev. Wright feeds his flock lies and politics…but none of our pastors do that do they Carrie? Surely John Piper has never mentioned politics or told a lie from the pulpit. Surely Tom Schreiner or C.J. Mahaney have never done this. It is only Rev. Wright since he’s a “Liberal” and a black “liberation theologian”. He reads his culture and experience into his Bible, but we don’t do that…do we Carrie. Your statement is nothing new from what I’ve heard, and it is not convincing at all. You’re probably not even acquainted with Wright other than the fact that he believes in liberation theology and said, “God damn America.”

  21. Bill Haynes April 29, 2008 at 5:17 pm #

    Denny, you are exactly on target with this one. But this is really no surprise coming from someone in the United Church of Christ, they have basically been universalists for years now. That is the way of liberal theology. Once the sufficiency of Scripture is abandoned (as well as Sola Scriptura) there is no where else to go!!

  22. jeremy z April 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    yeah i got ya’ll. maybe it is more of an semantical issue rather there a exegetical issue for me.

    i probably should get back on my rocker.

  23. jeremy z April 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    yeah i got ya’ll. maybe it is more of a semantical issue rather there a exegetical issue for me.

    i probably should get back on my rocker.

  24. Chris April 29, 2008 at 6:10 pm #

    We live in a country where its OK to disagree with our leaders, where we don’t have to move out of the country if we don’t like policy or what’s being said by our leaders. We CAN move out but almost all the time people choose to stay in this country because there are so many other great things about it and plus we have strong ties here like family.

    In many ways a church is the same way. However there are some things that should cause someone to leave their church and distance themselves from the leadership. For instance a basic doctrinal belief. No Christian should attend a church that questions Jesus’ divinity or teaches that your salvation is through works.

    Then there are other issues, not necessarily extreme enough to cause a complete renunciation of the church or pastor, that may cause division or uneasiness in a person conscience. A persons choice in these instances becomes a matter of integrity of belief and personal values. Their stance or lack of, does say something about their character.

    So Obamas willingness to stay in his church and initially support his pastor does says something about his character and his integrity of belief. Now if he were not running for president his choices may not affect his life all that much but since he is, his choices become very public and fair game for public scrutiny. It comes with the territory… public office. He chose to to run for a very public office so he, along with his supporters, must accept that he has willingly placed his life up for scrutiny.

    I think he is a smart, likable guy who probably would make a great president but I think he made a fatal mistake in not dealing with this issue head on initially. Now it really does look like he is just playing politics, the very thing he is running against.

    He should chalk it up to inexperience, take it as a learning opportunity and run again in four years because I don’t think the country will elect him this time.

  25. Ferg April 29, 2008 at 6:16 pm #

    I’m not American so I’m not going to comment about your presidential candidates, but on a personal level I will. I go to a Reformed Baptist Church. I have been attending for a year and if you guys heard my pastor and knew that I lead worship you would naturally assume that I agree with him on his theological standings. I don’t. We’re pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum. We do however and I guess obviously, agree in the fundamentals. Sometimes though we have to be careful how we judge people. If you took my circumstances at face value you would assume that I’m reformed. I’m not. I attend because my wife to be attends there and we want to fellowship together and we know that Jesus has us there for a reason during this season of our lives.

  26. Chris April 29, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    Ferg if only Obama had said something like that, this would be a non-issue for most people.

  27. Friend of Jesus, April 29, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    Quixote, did you read the entire Quran, or only the portions needed to reinforce your pre-held notions. If Muslims were really commanded to kill all others then I assure you the world would be in a far worse position than it is now.

    As far as terrorist and other extremist groups go they use politics to justify their tactics not Islam which condemns killing innocent people, those who aren’t attacking Muslims. Did you miss reading the verses which teach being kind to Christians, even if they don’t believe what you do? Or what about the verses that command the protection of Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques? 022.040

    Rufus said:

    “they (Muslims) are not sheep for they DO NOT follow Christ and His apostles”

    Maybe not according to your understanding, but the Quran teaches that Christ and his apostles did obey God and spread his message (003.052). It also teaches that Jesus didn’t claim that he was the Son of God but a Messenger of God. This is where Christians and Muslims disagree but it that shouldn’t mean that we can’t cooperate with each other. If both sides see Jesus as a righteous man of God than doesn’t that mean that at some level we also share many similar values?

  28. Rufus April 29, 2008 at 8:14 pm #

    FofJ: “My” understanding is the *Christian* understanding. Yes, the Quran may say those things but that doesn’t make them right. Of course, Jesus did claim he was the Son of God, claiming to be equal with God, which was the above John quote (5:18) and why many took up stones to kill him. Of course on some things, like abortion opposition, Christians and Muslims can cooperate, but Wright wasnt talking about opposing abortion, but rather who was a sheep (and as I have shown, being a sheep means being saved…Jesus meant this and Wright seems to know this given how he asnwers the question).

    Jesus taught He is the only way to God. Muslims teach Mohammad is the “way” in that one must confess him to be saved. There is no getting around the fact that these are conflicting doctrines and one must choose. Do we share similiar values, again, perhaps on some things. But we diverge on the Gospel and this is where Wright went wrong.

  29. Bryan L April 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    Did anybody wonder why they even asked him that question at all? Really what did that have to do with anything whatsoever? It reminds me of the question they asked Obama in the last debate “Do you think Wright is more patriotic than you?” (not verbatim)

    Wright has stated elsewhere (on Bill Moyers) that he is a Christian and not a Muslim and that they believe different things. I’m not sure that his short pithy answer was really reflective of what he believes but maybe just annoyance with the media trying to throw scripture at him and look for short quick answers to issues that Wright might think are bigger and more complex.

    I think his answer has a lot to do with the questions he was being asked and his frustration with them. Watch his Bill Moyer interview and you will see a very different Wright. The way he was being questioned was crazy and I would have been short, snappy and sarcastic too. You could tell they were just trying to paint him into a corner. Unfortunately he said and did just enough to give the media an easy way of doing that. Personally though I enjoyed the Q&A. His answers made the media look stupid and ignorant but you just knew they were gonna get him back for that. And that’s what they are doing right now.

    Bryan

  30. Rocky April 29, 2008 at 10:07 pm #

    Denny,

    Thanks for making the stands you make. It encourages me to see men of courage stand for Truth. Please continue to fear God and not man.

    rock

  31. iea April 29, 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    Of all the discussions posted on the blog, Bryan L’s best expresses my sentiment. The moderator’s questions were a good set-up question. Unfortunately, Rev. Wright’s response appears to have been given in haste, frustration, and defensiveness. This unfortunate response has caused many to label him as an inclusivist. Now for me, that is a stretch. It is understandable how some would come to that conclusion based on Rev. Wright’s statement at the National Press Club. However, is it fair to characterize and label someone after hearing one comment of which was given in an emotionally driven state. Have we listened to the majority of his messages (those preached over the past 30 years of his ministrial career) and found evidence of an inclusivist belief system.
    Yet another issue puzzles me. Rev. Wright has pastored and preached in Chicago and throughout the country for over two decades. The views and messages that are used on YouTube and by the media is not new. Yet no one (at least publicly at this level) has questioned his patriotism nor his theology. Because he has a presidential candidate who has gotten farther then most would have expected as a member, his patriotism and theology has come under fire. But has anyone asked “Why does he and others like Rev. Wright proport a ‘black liberation theology'”? Has anyone asked is there any validity in his claims of systematic injustices throughout our beloved country? Rev. Wright and many others who minister to those who are faced daily with the injustices of our country at the hands at times of those of the majority race seek to help liberate (both spiritual and emotional/psychological).
    The fear that I have is that of all the good this pastor has done in his community as well as other places he is now demonized and in some cases his congregation demeaned and characterized as a cult.

  32. Heather April 29, 2008 at 11:26 pm #

    What a great debate. As I see it when Jesus refers to HIS sheep, he refers to those who know HIS voice. He is speaking to one group of sheep here and telling them about another fold he has in a pasture somewhere else. These are not unsaved people or yet to be saved people. They are HIS sheep and they must already know HIS voice. They are just not with the group he is talking to at that time. But one day…oh one day.. he will call all of his sheep to be together with him. We need to be ready and listening for his voice!

  33. Friend of Jesus, April 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    Rufus:

    “Muslims teach Mohammad is the “way” in that one must confess him to be saved”

    I’m not sure what you mean by confess him, but if you mean believe that he was a messenger of God (the father) then you’re correct. I just want to make it clear that to be a follower of Islam one must also believe that Jesus was a messenger of God. Of course people need to make a choice between Islam and Christianity and you all are free to comment on Wright’s views. But on a larger scale I think we should also know that cooperation is in mutual interest of both sets of believers. This doesn’t mean that one should compromise ones own faith. In fact I think when we cooperate we are actually following our faith better, both Muslims and Christians.

  34. Just a handmaiden April 30, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    FOJ said “If you learn what Islam actually teaches you would know that Islam doesn’t deny Jesus, he is a Messenger of God like Moses and Abraham. What it does teach is that he is not a partner of God (the Father) who should be worshiped like God. This isn’t far from the verse seen above in Matthew:

    “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24)

    As for Muslims being commanded to kill Christians and Jews, last I checked it was Christians and Jews who were killing Muslims. So should I blame the Bible or Jesus for this? Or should I blame those who claim to follow Jesus but betrayed his message and killed unjustly? At least Mr. Wright got that portion right.”

    Islam denies the SON of God. I didn’t say that Islam denies that Jesus existed or that they deny Him as a prophet or a teacher. They deny Him as the SON OF GOD and deny Him as the Messiah of the world.

    Jesus IS GOD, therefore it is not service to two masters. See John 1:1 and John 1:14

    Jesus IS the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, The Almighty. see Revelation 1:8, Revelation 22:13, Isaiah 9:6

    There are a lot of people killing a lot of people, but Muslims do it in the name of Allah as is commanded by their Q’uaran.

  35. Just a handmaiden April 30, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly with Carrie regarding Obama and Wright in post #17

  36. Just a handmaiden April 30, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    In regards to Brett’s post#20,

    I don’t think that is what Carrie is saying (feel free to put tape on my mouth Carrie if I get this wrong! lol) But I think she is saying that being that Obama sat under Wright’s tutelage for 20 years and has barely made a peep in response to the public things Wright is saying that is costing Obama thousands and thousands of dollars severely hurting his campaign, that if he was not in agreement, one would think that he would do a lot more speaking up on his own behalf to be sure his views are seen as separate from Wright’s in the eye of the public than he has as his chances for becoming the Democratic nominee, are falling as a result.

    Why you would spend 15 years under someone’s tutelage whom you did not respect and disagreed with 50% of everything he said, is another matter! yikes! (I hope it was because you were a minor under your parent’s authority!)

  37. Just a handmaiden April 30, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    re: Jeremy…post #22 and 23…

    LOL!! I like you!

  38. Benjamin A April 30, 2008 at 1:41 pm #

    friend of J,

    The record of Muhammad from the Qur’an and Muslim tradition (Hadith) falls far short of Muslim claims that he was of outstanding character. Muhammad taught, approved of, and participated in morally imperfect activities. The evidence indicates he was no more moral than a typical human.

    In contrast, the life of Jesus Christ was impeccable (sinless).

  39. Paul April 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm #

    Just a Handmaiden in post #34…

    Friend of Jesus said…

    “As for Muslims being commanded to kill Christians and Jews, last I checked it was Christians and Jews who were killing Muslims. So should I blame the Bible or Jesus for this? Or should I blame those who claim to follow Jesus but betrayed his message and killed unjustly? At least Mr. Wright got that portion right.”

    and your response was…

    “There are a lot of people killing a lot of people, but Muslims do it in the name of Allah as is commanded by their Q’uaran”

    My thoughts here…

    1) better to acknowledge wrongdoings than to brush them under the carpet. So, let’s acknowledge them. Yes, the crusades carried out by the Catholic Church were an abomination. No doubt about it. The actions of the “christians” in the Serbia/Bosnia conflict was beyond offensive as well. And the Catholic French weren’t exactly kind to my Algerian bretheren during the French occupation of North Africa, either. There ARE times when Christians did some pretty heinous things to muslims, I will agree. If Friend of Jesus is getting after the actions of Afghanistan and Iraq, I will say this…

    a) Afghanistan harbored terrorists. Blame the government that harbored them instead of telling us exactly where Obama was and/or helping us to catch him. Anyone in Afghanistan that wants to complain about any and every death within their borders needs to blame their government and themselves for doing nothing to put a secular government into place there.

    b) Iraq is a secular war started for anything but Godly reasons. Don’t let anyone tell you different. That has nothing to do with Christians killing muslims and has everything to do with neocons trying to get rich and build empires.

    2) Now, Friend of Jesus, you asked for it, so here it is…

    PLACES WHERE MUSLIMS ARE DOING THE KILLING…

    a) Darfur: muslims killing christians and non-muslims. Last I checked, many people around the world are referring to this as a genocide.

    b) Israel: if muslims would stop the violence, so would Israel.

    c) 3/11, 7/7, 9/11: any questions? And I can’t speak to Spain or England, but the fact that American muslims didn’t flock to the recruiting stations (the way that Japanese and Germans did in WWII) tells me that they’re not on America’s side. Words are empty if they’re not backed up by action.

    Add to that Black September, The Achille Laurel hi-jacking and plenty of other smaller incidents around the world, and it’s clear to see that Muslims are doing more than their fair share of the killing these days. And that muslims are called to kill Christians and Jews and/or charge them the dhimmi makes Islam a rather nefarious religion at best.

    Sorry, dude. You asked.

  40. Brett April 30, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

    Just a Handmaiden,

    Lets not cloud the issue and go pointing fingers at Muslims for being violent and killing people in the name of Allah. Christianity has about the most bloody past of any other religion worldwide, so we need to remove the plank first. You name the time period, and you’ll see Christians going to war…post Constantine that is. Millions have been killed in the name of Jesus Christ, so please stop pointing the finger at Islam and acting like we have nothing on our slate.

  41. Paul April 30, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    Brett,

    (I can’t believe I’m going here, but yeah…)

    Friend of Jesus wanted to make sure that we knew that “Christians were the ones doing all the killing.” And, he’s right, we as Christians do have a lot to answer for from our forefathers. We’re not even nice to ourselves! Between the wiping out of the gnostics, the Spanish Inquisition and the terror that the anabaptists faced from Lutherans AND Catholics, we’ve a history that’s hard to be proud of.

    But, to say that Christians are doing all of the killing is to invite a rebuke. And I think FOJ got that rebuke that he needed for making such a blind comment.

  42. pm April 30, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    If Jesus is God, and Muslims believe in the same God, then the most important thing is to believe in God.

  43. MatthewS April 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    Paul,

    Kudos on #39 and #41. Well done.

  44. Paul April 30, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    pm,

    as I said far upthread, to go the “all paths lead up the mountain” route is to absolutely disrespect the very religions that you’re claiming we should respect. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity ALL claim exclusivity. Somebody MUST be wrong.

  45. pm April 30, 2008 at 8:24 pm #

    Paul,
    it’s not that somebody is necessarily “wrong,” it’s that the full story has not yet been told or revealed.

    We are on a journey — not just individually but as humanity. Hasn’t your own concept of your own parents evolved during your lifetime? As a child didn’t you perhaps fear them to some extend — their disapproval, their anger is you crossed some line? But as an adult you have a different view. You understand why the rules you lived under as a child were there, and why they are not needed or are not the same as an adult.

    A shepherd herding a sheep, before the sheep perhaps knows the shepherd is trying to help guide it to greener pastures, might need to have the shepherd appear a villain, perhaps even angry. The sheep in fear follows orders. But later on perhaps realizes the fear, the black and white “I’m going to hurt you if you don’t obey me” can be viewed from a different light. It was necessary to scare to sheep.

    It may be part of an overall plan to think that Jesus is the only way … perhaps until people realize exactly who Jesus was. God. The same God who divinely inspired Muhammad.

    This is not to say that at some point we need to have an accurate understanding of just who God is in order to be saved, and I believe that should even must include his incarnation as Jesus, as that shows God to be the active, truly loving force that He is.

    There are contradictions in the bible. These serve to make us think for ourselves. If we feel we know God — and we have a relationship with God — in my opinion God, the great shepherd, will be quite capable of guiding that person toward eternal life.

  46. pm April 30, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    sorry about the typos and grammar mistakes.

  47. Mark Gibson April 30, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    Paul,

    Good post in #39. Of course, everyone knows that we disagree on Iraq and the reasons for invading Iraq.

  48. D.J. Williams May 1, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    pm said…
    “It may be part of an overall plan to think that Jesus is the only way … perhaps until people realize exactly who Jesus was. God. The same God who divinely inspired Muhammad.”

    If Jesus was God, and he was the same God who inspired Muhammad, then he flat out lied to us on one end of that equation or the other. The Koran denies that Jesus is God and considers such a notion to be blasphemy. The crucifixion and resurrection, the most central tenets of the Christian faith, are denied as lies told about God by Islam. Islam’s assertion that each man’s standing with God is dependent on his life’s perfomance on the scales is flatly denied by Christianity’s message of salvation by grace through faith alone. I could go on and on. To blend Christianity and Islam you’ve got to emasculate them both.

  49. Alando Franklin May 1, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    I once heard Dr. Russell Moore admit that his own tradition(Baptistic) “was” wrong on the issue of slavery and I’m sure it was because of a misunderstanding of Scripture, yet we esteem many of the men that were leading the tradition during that time in High Regards.

    I’ll reintroduce iea’S question since it may have been overlooked:

    IS THERE ANY VALIDITY TO REV. WRIGHTS CLAIMS OF SYSTEMATIC INJUSTICES THROUGHOUT OUR BELOVED COUNTRY?

  50. Ken May 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    “There are contradictions in the bible.”

    For example…? That there are some things hard to understand therein I doubt anyone here would dispute. But actual contradictions? Time to put up, pm.

    “These serve to make us think for ourselves.”

    A greater recipe for disaster does not exist. Creating doubts about the integrity of God’s word and encouraging us to make ourselves judges over it was the original temptation (Genesis 3:1-5).

  51. Paul May 1, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Ken,

    I see where you’re coming from.

    That said, please word differently.

    “These serve to make us think for ourselves.”

    followed by you with…

    “A greater recipe for disaster does not exist.”

    To think for yourself is the greatest recipe for disaster? Yikes, man!

  52. Paul May 1, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    Alando in #49:

    you said,

    “IS THERE ANY VALIDITY TO REV. WRIGHTS CLAIMS OF SYSTEMATIC INJUSTICES THROUGHOUT OUR BELOVED COUNTRY?”

    I’ll say this: absolutely! Slavery is just the tip of the iceberg, too.

    You’ve also got nearly 100 years of institutionalized racism to deal with, with Jim Crow laws.

    You’ve got our foreign policy regarding South America to contend with (beyond supporting dictators, we also have the school of the Americas).

    You’ve got our support of dictators in Iraq (Saddam), Iran (The Shaw), and terrible leaders in Vietnam (the first leader in S. Vietnam, I forget his name at the moment), and the fact that our actions in Vietnam directly contributed to the Khmer Rouge coming into power in Cambodia.

    We also have to deal with the fact that Clinton didn’t send troops into Rwanda when doing so would have likely stopped a genocide from either occuring or doing as much damage as it did.

    And on the AIDS front…while it’s pretty obvious that America didn’t devise AIDS to wipe out gay folks and minorities, by the same token, the lack of action taken on AIDS when it still could have been wiped out is and was criminal. Reagan didn’t even mention AIDS until 1986. Dispicable, indeed.

    I’m not saying that America’s a terrible place, because it isn’t. But a lot of people are blind to the problems we have to face here unless they can somehow tie them to a democrat, especially Bill Clinton.

  53. Friend of Jesus, May 1, 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    Paul, Who really asked for it?

    “If Friend of Jesus is getting after the actions of Afghanistan and Iraq, I will say this”

    Are you denying that George Bush said he was on a Crusade? Even if you tell me the war in Iraq was un-Christian, that doesn’t mean every self-proclaimed Christian agrees with you, some do indeed believe they are on yet another Epic Crusade to the Mid-East, despite the ludicrous claims made to invade that country. Neocons and the Extreme Right were the main masterminds of this, it is really sad that they were elected to power in the first place.

    “Afghanistan harbored terrorists. Anyone in Afghanistan that wants to complain about any and every death within their borders needs to blame their government and themselves
    …”

    The same ones we funded and trained during the Soviet-Afghan war, and once our interests were met, we left them armed to the teeth in a war-torn country instead of helping them rebuild.

  54. Friend of Jesus, May 1, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    a)As for Darfur, that’s a Muslim region, and this conflict isn’t based on religion its based on division of resources. The Christian-Muslim violence you speak about was further in the south and that conflict has been over. Lets also acknowledge that Sudan has huge oil resources that we’d love to tap into, remember the calls to invade Sudan? If that were ever to happen I’m sure it would be for far more than just humanitarian reasons (ie. Iraq).

    b)On the Israel-Palestine issue, Israel has been killing Palestinian Civilians at a ratio of 4-5:1 compared to Israelis with American Weapons and funding of course. And there are plentiful examples of Israel attacking Palestinians unprovoked. We haven’t even spoken about the Lebanese War yet and the horrible injustice that was done there which even the Israeli Government acknowledged was a mistake. Speaking about Genocide, what happened to the Palestinians when Israel came into existence? Did the victims of one crime not become the purveyors of another.

  55. Quixote May 1, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    Denny,

    Is my comment stuck or did you delete it? Around #45???

  56. Paul May 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    FOJ in #53:

    re: your first point about Iraq…I can’t say I disagree with you. However, look at who was really calling for war there from the git-go: Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld…three guys who’ve never really spoken publicly about their faith. But they’re all neo-cons who think violence is the answer, no matter the question.

    re: Afghanistan…again, you’re right, we ignored them as soon as the Soviet threat was gone, and we were essentially asking for trouble with that. However, that doesn’t excuse the harboring of terrorists.

    And you didn’t even come close to addressing my concerns about American Muslims after 9/11. Whose side are you on?

    re FOJ in post #54…

    justify the massacre of Christians by Muslims all you want. It was still done, and those people weren’t really being friends of Jesus or Christians, were they?

    re: Palestine…if the Palestinians dropped their guns and bombs, the killing would cease to exist. If the Israelis dropped their guns, Jews in the middle east would cease to exist.

  57. D.J. Williams May 1, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    Paul said…
    “re: Palestine…if the Palestinians dropped their guns and bombs, the killing would cease to exist. If the Israelis dropped their guns, Jews in the middle east would cease to exist.”

    Well put.

  58. Aaron May 1, 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    To the person who said Joel Osteen also believes that there are more ways to God than thru Jesus Christ just like Wright: that is a lie.

    Joel Osteen believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Its very clear on his website.

  59. Paul May 1, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    Even if Joel Osteen does believe in the exclusivity of Christ’s claims, there are still so many other problems with his ministry that it’s not worth defending anyway, Aaron.

  60. Friend of Jesus, May 1, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    I can’t seem to post all my comments here but your wrong about Jews ceasing to exist in the mid-east if they put down their American Guns and missiles. This goes against the history of the region where they were treated far better then Europe ever could. They were historically discriminated and persecuted against in Europe not in the mid-east. It would do you good to read up on how Jews were treated in the mid-east before World War 2.

  61. Paul May 1, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    Friend of Jesus,

    you’d have to reach back to the pre-1900’s to see when the Jews were treated equitably by the arabs in the middle east. My dad’s side of the family were Jews from Algeria and Morocco, so I know of which I speak, for sure.

    By the time that any Zionist musings started being made, however, the Arabs started getting uppity, and sir, if you’ll remember, it was the Arabs in Palestine and Egypt that were not allowing Jews into the area during the time of the Holocaust, when so many were trying to get in. Their blood was, in part, on arabian hands, and don’t forget it.

    You want to keep going, we’ll keep going here. Israel tried to be as fair as possible to the Palestinians that they displaced, and it was Arab aggression and Arab aggression alone that wiped Palestine off the maps of the world. Don’t you forget that, my friend.

  62. Friend of Jesus, May 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    As for your accusation of American Muslims, proportionally there are plenty of Muslims in the American Military, just because you don’t know any doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But why not address the anti-Muslim hostility that one finds in the military where even senior commanders in uniform are speaking of an epic battle against Muslims. This is compounded by the lack of moral justification of the Iraq war. How can you expect a person no matter what their faith to fight in a country which shouldn’t have been attacked in the first place.

  63. Friend of Jesus, May 1, 2008 at 4:07 pm #

    “it was the Arabs in Palestine and Egypt that were not allowing Jews into the area during the time of the Holocaust, when so many were trying to get in. Their blood was, in part, on arabian hands, and don’t forget it.”

    You mean the Arabs under British Occupation were resisting being invaded by European Jews with British approval. Don’t unjustly blame the Arabs for Europe’s crimes, the Jews forced their way into Palestine in any case, and by any means including terrorism. And is “displacement” your humane term for genocide, so Israel was being fare when it committed genocide against millions of Palestinians, need I remind you the Arab-Israel wars began after Israel was established.

  64. Paul May 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    Genocide? Now I know you’re full of hot air and without a lick of a sense of history.

    Thanks, I’ll have fodder to laugh about for days.

    And, insofar as an “invasion” by European Jews, you mean to tell me that it’s worse to live next to your traditional brothers than to see them slaughtered at the hands of Hitler?

    You have no justification, and the blood of the Jews slain by Hitler is at least partially on your hands.

    Finally, I will concede the point about muslims not wanting to fight in Iraq. But that’s about all you’re right about.

  65. Ken May 1, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    Paul: pm’s original comment included these sentences one after the other: “There are contradictions in the bible. These serve to make us think for ourselves.” I took that to mean that it is well for men to come to the Bible–the word of God–and consider themselves judges over it, just as the serpent suggested to our first parents that it was their perogative to decide whether God had spoken truth or not. As fallen beings, we dare not “think for ourselves” in contrast to the word of God. We do not judge God’s word. It judges us.

    Now, it is perfectly legitimate to “think for ourselves” compared to subordinate authorities, especially to compare their pronouncements with the Bible–Luke commended the Bereans for doing that very thing, making sure that what Paul said comported with the Scriptures.

  66. Paul May 1, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    Ken,

    I was mostly just having fun with you. You should have worded it a little more clearly, though.

    Here, I’ll now add a 🙂 to a post whenever I’m trying to do a little good natured ribbing.

    😀

  67. pm May 2, 2008 at 6:23 am #

    Ken,

    if you have children do you want them to learn to think for themselves? This doesn’t mean think illogically for themselves, it means gain some genuine wisdom about life and understand what the real meaning of it is; not to follow anything, anyone blindly — even God. Faith in God is not blind. It is the result of our having learned through life experience that He is real and loves us. That life experience includes but is not limited to reading the bible and thinking about it.

    As to “the fall,” surely you don’t think God didn’t know before hand that we (Adam) would be “tempted” to disobey Him. That was precisely the point. He didn’t make us to be robots, following blindly, but loves us so much so as to give us freedom to think for ourselves — even when the result of that is the knowledge of good and evil and all the pain and suffering that entails.

  68. pm May 2, 2008 at 6:59 am #

    D.J.Williams:

    From the passages I have read in the Koran, the differences seem to really be over how one views the trinity. As I see it, the trinity is really a man-made concept to try and explain who Jesus was. It is a good concept, the best that could be agreed to at the Nicene council, but it is still a concept. What Islam is saying is something I don’t think can be argued with philosophically: nothing is greater than God. Therefore, you can’t have Jesus wrestling with God over who has the most power. So while Islam’s focus is on God, the Christian’s focus is also on God — but through the prism of the trinity. But the ultimate point is they (God and Jesus) are the same.

    Passages I’ve read in the Koran about Jesus’ resurrection are subject to interpretation certainly but I read them as supporting the idea of Jesus’ resurrection. The Koran says, presumably quoting Jesus: “‘And peace was on me the day I was born, and peace will be on me the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised up to life again.'” [Qur’an, Surah 19:30-35]

    You say “Islam’s assertion that each man’s standing with God is dependent on his life’s perfomance on the scales is flatly denied by Christianity’s message of salvation by grace through faith alone.” Whenever I read specific passages from the Koran I just don’t see those contradictions. I think it mainly depends on how one interprets the passages. Couldn’t an argument be made there is more similarity there than we might be willing to admit? God’s grace alone gets us into heaven, but “good works” determine some kind of heavenly reward. Even within Christianity there are different interpretations of what one’s standing in the next life will be, the most obviously example being the Mormon’s and their view of various levels of heaven. Unless I’m misunderstanding your point to me that sounds pretty similar.

  69. Davis May 2, 2008 at 7:01 am #

    If the original quote “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me” includes women why can’t the quote “Other sheep have I who are not of this fold” include other faiths. This show the sin of taking things out of context just as Rev. dr. Wrights other sound bites are taken out of context. However this is an enlightening discussion as we discuss the various ways of salvation and as Dr Wright states “Difference does not mean Deficiency just different” After all, religion or spirituality or humans relationship with God or the Universe started in Africa and especially noted in Egypt. All religions are just some manisfestation of the ancient belief systems.

  70. D.J. Williams May 2, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    pm,

    Well, I had to laugh when you spoke of the different Christian views of heaven and then used the Mormons as an example. I think that’s a good indicator of how we’re both on radically different pages here. I’m honestly not sure how you interpret the Qu’ran as supportive of Jesus’s resurrection when it denies that he even died in the first place (Sura 4.157).

    Actually, the ultimate point of trinitarian doctrine is not that Jesus and God are “the same,” it’s that they’re the same yet different.” If the point was that they were the same, then we would all just join T.D. Jakes in modalism and save ourselves the headaches. Islam flatly and in plain language denies the trinity (Sura 4.171), the deity of Christ (Sura 5.017), and his divine sonship (Sura 6.101). I’d like to see exegetically how you interpret these passages to mesh with these central claims of the Christian faith. I maintain my point – to blend Christianity and Islam you must emasculate both. You’ve said nothing to demonstrate otherwise. Please demonstrate how in the three core doctrines of Christianity I mention above both Christianity and Islam can be right.

  71. D.J. Williams May 2, 2008 at 8:10 am #

    Davis said…
    “If the original quote “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me” includes women why can’t the quote “Other sheep have I who are not of this fold” include other faiths.”

    Wow.

    I’m dumbfounded as to how you can take an issue of the Greek third person masculine applying to both men and women and apply this to a passage that has nothing to do with gender whatsoever. You might as well make the argument, “If apples have seeds then why can’t televisions?”

  72. pm May 2, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    D.J.William:

    sura 4.157 “and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.”

    Did not kill him or crucify him meaning God can’t be killed or crucified. In other words, it only [i]appears[/i] as if he is being killed and crucified.

    Modalism as I understand it means 3 things existing at once. That’s not what I’m suggesting. The point is it is difficult to explain it — for obvious reasons. I see it as God inhabiting a body. One can use the concept of the Trinity, but even so the focus should be on God. Is that “the same but different,” as you say? I suppose, but you could also see how it’s the same, the same, the same. It’s still God. A flashlight covered up by something else is still a flashlight.

    Sura 4.471 Not quoting it but having just read it, yes they deny the trinity in the way that I try to express the inherent limitations of the trinity as a man-made concept: that no matter what “concept” one uses, the point is God is God and there’s nothing greater than God. That’s the point!

    Sura 5.017 I can’t find an exact passage from the internet but this sura seems to be making the point, once again, that there can only be one God, which is true. Again, it depends on how one (as a Christian) views the trinity.

    Sura 6.101 Well I have to say the same thing about this one. To me this does not deny divinity — but rather points out where the divinity actually lies.

  73. pm May 2, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    By the way, I’m still not sure I understand why my Mormon analogy didn’t at least make some sense. I’m not Mormon, but I consider them to be Christian, so my point was here’s an example of a kind of hierarchy to the concept of salvation.

  74. pm May 2, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    Sorry .. I haven’t figure out how italics and the like are done here. That’s what those strange [i] things are in my post.

  75. pm May 2, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    Nevermind, I finally figured it out (I hope).

  76. Alando Franklin May 2, 2008 at 10:15 am #

    Paul,

    My question then is why don’t we distance ourselves from men we hold in High Esteem who once OWNED slaves(if that isn’t racist I don’t know what is) rather than continue to promote their writings, etc. since this is what many are suggested that Obama should have done a long time ago?

    Just so I’m clear, I’m not endorsing Obama’s candidacy, but I believe as Christians we have a responsibility to walk by the same standard that we call others to walk by!!

  77. D.J. Williams May 2, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    pm said…
    “Did not kill him or crucify him meaning God can’t be killed or crucified. In other words, it only appears as if he is being killed and crucified.”

    That interpretation might make sense if Muhammad actually believed Jesus to be God – which brings us to the other passages…

    pm said…
    “Sura 5.017 I can’t find an exact passage from the internet but this sura seems to be making the point, once again, that there can only be one God, which is true. Again, it depends on how one (as a Christian) views the trinity.”

    Actually, the point of the sura seems pretty clearly to be, “in blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” The point is that Jesus is not God. They are not one and the same. The sura is making the point indeed that there is only one God, and Jesus is not him. This contradicts the fundamental core teaching of Christianity that Christ was God in the flesh. Thus, it renders your interpretation of Sura 4.157 problematic at best.

    pm said…
    “Sura 4.471 Not quoting it but having just read it, yes they deny the trinity in the way that I try to express the inherent limitations of the trinity as a man-made concept: that no matter what “concept” one uses, the point is God is God and there’s nothing greater than God. That’s the point!”

    You should have stopped after your first typing of the word ‘trinity.’ Yes, they deny the trinity. Period. They don’t say that it’s an inadequate concept for conceiving of God’s complexity, they say that it lies about Allah, for “far exalted is he above having a son,” and “Christ Jesus the son of Mary was no more than a messenger of Allah.” The point of the sura is that Allah is God and Jesus is not and no one else is.

    pm said…
    ”To me this does not deny divinity — but rather points out where the divinity actually lies.”

    Please explain to me exegetically how this phrase – “Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could He have a son when He has no consort?” does not deny the divine sonship of Christ. How much clearer could this text and sura 5.017 be? This is not cryptic language. The Qu’ran is very, very simple and direct here. How a sensible person can read the Qu’ran and say “they don’t deny that Jesus was God” is absolutely mind-boggling to me.

    pm said…
    “Modalism as I understand it means 3 things existing at once.”

    Actually, modalism is the concept that God is one thing, not three, but he expresses his personality in three different ways – Father (in the OT), Son (in the person of Christ), and Spirit (in the NT). God is essentially one guy wearing three masks.

    pm said…
    “I see it as God inhabiting a body.”

    Which explains why you see it the way you do. Scripture knows nothing of such an analogy. Any time we try to express the infinite complexity of the trinity through finite illustration it eventually descends into modalism or worse. The trinity is not like anything. Simile and metaphor are useless, and ultimately counter-productive.

    Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive. You’ve done no exegesis to demonstrate otherwise. You’ve simply said “this is what these texts mean to me” while not interacting at all with the texts themselves and what their plain meaning is.

    Also, you said that you consider Mormonism to be Christianity. I (and anyone who takes Christian doctrine at all seriously) do not. What Mormonism teaches on core doctrines (who God is, who man is, how one finds peace with God, etc.) is just as foreign to historic Christianity as Islam. I understand you using Mormonism as an example of hierarchy in salvation (since Mormonism’s promise in salvation is that you can become a god yourself, for “God once was as we are now”), I just don’t accept that as a Christian example.

  78. Paul May 2, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    Alando,

    so what are we supposed to do? Write a new constitution?

    Throw out our ideas of states rights and federalism because people on both sides of that debate owned slaves?

    Are we supposed to throw out the ideas of Abraham Lincoln who was also quite the racist (in the Lincoln/Douglas debates, he agreed with Douglas that blacks were not as worthy or valuable as whites)?

    Are we supposed to ransack the remaining Ford factories in Detroit because of Henry Ford’s rampant anti-semitism?

    If we’re going to distance ourselves from every dispicable American, we’re not going to have too many “important” Americans left.

    Instead of trying to distance ourselves from these men whom power corrupted, I say that we should be glad that this is a nation of laws and ideas and not a nation of men.

  79. pm May 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    D. J. Williams:

    To me two things jump out that best illustrate our differences here. The first is your statement “Any time we try to express the infinite complexity of the trinity through finite illustration it eventually descends into modalism or worse. ”

    Here to me you have elevated a concept to be almost god-like, instead of only God being God. It is the concept of the trinity that is in fact a “finite illustration.” Only God has “infinite complexity,” period. The trinity is our human concept, our attempt at understanding the event in history we refer to as Jesus. To me once this is understood whatever different views one has on expressing or explaining the trinity reveal themselves to be of lesser import than that which they are attempting to explain: God.

    The second problem is the use of “they” when pointing out how anti-Christian the Koran is. To me “they” is not the issue, as “they” may be as errant in their understanding of the Koran as we may be of the bible. All I have tried to focus on are the actual words themselves and how I interpret them and what I believe is a valid interpretation: how an argument can be made that the same God of the Old and New Testaments is revealing Himself to a different people. I obviously disagree that I have not make my case, exegetically, space and time permitting.

    I guess it was a mistake to bring up Mormonism but I would like to make this broad comment: often it is the very unsettling, confusing — even “wrong” — nature of something that turns out to be important to bring a greater meaning into focus. Abraham taking Isaac to be sacrificed meant people saw him as a murderer (or future one, as it was clear his intent) whereas he was a man of great faith doing God’s command. Unsettling/confusing passages in Revelations speak symbolically, forcing us to find a deeper meaning and examine our own lives.

    This may seem like an excuse for aspects of Mormonism that we would both disagree with — even find abhorrent — but as I don’t think anything ultimately gets excused or any sin goes unpunished I don’t think an excuse is being made. What I do believe is truths are often revealed over time, and whatever story is being told with Mormons or anyone else has not yet been fully and finally told.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the discussion. I assure you I take Christian doctrine seriously. I would like to think, however, I take God even more seriously.

  80. Paul May 2, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    PM says…

    “…how an argument can be made that the same God of the Old and New Testaments is revealing Himself to a different people.”

    Wouldn’t He reveal Himself as having the same attributes in each and every “incarnation” then?

    The problem is, the Islamic God and the Christian God are two different gods. One gives Israel many chances to repent, forgives transgressions when requested and finally sent his son to pay for our atonement.

    Allah, on the other hand, weighs works very heavily, and much like Jesus said of the Pharisees, mens backs break under the weight of the law.

    Wouldn’t God want the Islamic world to know that He is a God of grace to them too?

    PM, when even the jazz musician can set you straight, you’re in big trouble, theologically speaking.

  81. Just a handmaiden May 2, 2008 at 9:18 pm #

    To Paul post#39

    The Catholic and Spanish Inquisitions or any of the other Crusades are NOT occurring currently. Muslims rallying their believers according to the Q’uran to kill ALL Christians and Jews in the name of Allah IS!

  82. Just a handmaiden May 2, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    To Brett #40,

    Brett I am not denying any of the “bloody past” of misguided people of Christianity.

    I am speaking of current times and the real threat that exists TODAY and just as I do not believe people who claim to be Christians can hate Jews and know the heart of God at the same time, I do not believe that outside of Christ, there is any other name given by which we must be saved. As not only does the Word of God say that, it also says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and NO MAN comes to the Father but through Him. The topic is whether or not Muslims are God’s “other sheep.”
    While there are Muslims repenting and receiving Christ every day and are His sheep, the Muslims as a group are not and the fact that they seek to kill Christians and Jews CURRENTLY is a witness against that erroneous belief in itself.

  83. Just a handmaiden May 2, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    …..well…that’s not the topic per se’, so let me clarify…. but it is the content within the topic regarding Jeremiah Wright’s apparent implication of……

  84. Just a handmaiden May 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm #

    to pm post# 42

    Muslims do not believe in the same God.

    Maybe a long long time ago as sons of Ishmael they did, I don’t know but being that an Angel of God spoke directly to Ishmael’s mother and His father was Abraham, I imagine at one time they knew the Living God, but that has long since past. Their god is now the “god of Mohammed”.

  85. Bryan L May 2, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    J.A.H.,

    I’ve brought this up here in the past but I don’t think there is any connection between Muslims or Arabs in general and Ishmael: in the sense that had Ishmael never existed there would be no Arabs or Muslims. Although they may believe they are descended from Ishmael I don’t know that they are in fact and that instead they aren’t just reading themselves back into the story.

    It might be something worth looking into.

    Bryan

  86. pm May 2, 2008 at 10:57 pm #

    Paul says:

    “Wouldn’t He reveal Himself as having the same attributes in each and every “incarnation” then?”

    I don’t believe so because I believe what God is doing is in a way challenging us to think for ourselves and believe in God’s greatness. Why wouldn’t He make us all of the same race? In order to challenge us to look beyond race. Why not give us the same religious “doctrine?” To challenge us to look beyond religious doctrine. It is as if an even greater truth is hidden that we ourselves are called to understand and figure out, as if God wants to see if we can love our brother even if doing so means giving up some steadfastly held beliefs. This is not just the human journey but our individual journey: something lost (our life) so that something greater (the next life) can be found.

    “Wouldn’t God want the Islamic world to know that He is a God of grace to them too?”

    Why would we expect God to reveal Himself the same way to different people? If you agree that we 21st century inhabitants have a deeper understanding of Christianity (having debated and studied it for hundreds of years now) than people living in the Middle Ages, then you agree that understanding is evolutionary. It evolves, just like any other intellectual endeavor. Why not our understanding of exactly who God is as well? God is more complex than we can imagine, and the main thing we can’t imagine is just how loving He is.

    Whether or not Muslims believe in the same God or not doesn’t alter my opinion that we do — all believe in the same God, and that that is only logical conclusion. The ultimate test may be for us to say “even if my interpretation of doctrine says my brother is not to be saved, I believe God should save him anyway. And because God loves us more even than a mother loves her child, this is not an unreasonable thing for us to ask.

  87. Quixote May 3, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    PM says, “Why would we expect God to reveal Himself the same way to different people?”

    Um, to be simplistic here, God didn’t even reveal Himself the same way to the SAME people. But the point is…and one that PM doesn’t grasp or embrace…is that if the Bible AND the Koran, if Christians AND Muslims, are both correct, than they are both incorrect. And God at best is a big fat liar.

    If PM insists on seeing God on the same plane as an earthly parent, suppose you had a brother. And your father told you, “Son, I’m going to give one of my two sons an inheritance when I die. Here’s what you have to do to receive it…” But to your brother, your dad said, “Son, I’m going to give one of my two sons an inheritance when I die. Here’s what you have to do to receive it…” And the two qualifications were completely opposed and contradictory in nature. When your father died, you and your brother are going to be in for a major fight. And what would the courts conclude? That either your dad was senile or a compulsive and cruel liar.

    No, it’s not one God telling two groups of people two different things. It’s two very different gods. One is true, and the other…is Allah.

  88. pm May 3, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    Quixote,

    I feel like you are in part helping to make my point, because to me God wouldn’t be like a father who said “I’m only going to give one of my two sons an inheritance.” And what you see as being a “cruel liar” I actually see as an example of God’s greater complexity in giving us a chance for growth — which is sometimes painful. Was it a cruel liar that made the universe so that it could be interpreted two ways by creationists and Darwinists? Certainly if God had wanted to make it absolutely clear that we didn’t evolve or that everything wasn’t just left to chance He could have done so. But He didn’t.

    But as I’ve tried to point out, just giving my opinion, I do not read passages from the Koran as telling two groups two radically different things. It’s much more likely that God’s message has been misinterpreted or not fully understood — precisely because I believe in God’s goodness. In the case of Christianity, the elevating of the concept of “trinity” to almost stand-in for God as if He would have no power without it, and in the case of Islam the probable misunderstanding of the meaning of the words by followers of Muhammad or even Muhammad himself. As I’ve tried to point out, in the passages from the Koran that I’ve read I see no significant contradictions. Just different perspectives.

  89. Ken May 3, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    pm: If I had children, I would want them to have the mind of Christ–that is, to think biblically and from the perspective that God is the center of all things, that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

    What bothers me about the phrase “think for ourselves” in this context (as opposed to others) is that it implies human autonomy vis-a-vis the revelation of God. What God has said is not up for question or parsing. “Blessed is the man who hears my words and does them,” not “blessed is the man who hears my words and makes up his own mind whether they are worthy of heeding.”

  90. pm May 4, 2008 at 6:58 am #

    I think once we “get it” or “figure it out” we do have autonomy. The figuring out is what life is about. The main thing we have to figure out is that God loves us more than we are capable of comprehending. Only then can we not be afraid of His power — which is what will be fully revealed in the next life. If we don’t really believe He loves us (and I suppose if we don’t know this yet we’ll gain it when we pass from death on this earth to the next life, because only faith can bridge that gap) then we can’t live in an eternal bliss of His creating that is so intense that time loses all meaning (sort of like “time flies when you’re having fun”).

  91. Quixote May 4, 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    pm:

    The most dangerous place any person can reach is the place where he says, “I’ve arrived.” No one has it figured out, not correctly any way. We all know in part and see as in a glass darkly.

    And if you think you are autonomous, or that human autonomy is God’s end goal for us, I believe you are gravely mistaken. Jesus who was God said that in and of Himself He could do nothing. He also said that apart from the Vine (our connection through Him) WE could do nothing. Wanting to be autonomous “free thinkers” is tantamount to rebellion, and is what gets you kicked out of the Presence of God. Just ask Adam and Eve…or better yet, Lucifer.

    Then again, I’m a literalist and take the Bible as absolute truth. So, more than likely, you and I would disagree on just about everything.

  92. pm May 4, 2008 at 6:34 pm #

    Actually the irony here, Quixote, is probably that I see myself as a literalist as well — I just don’t always agree with others’ literalist interpretations.

    Regarding Adam and Eve, I believe when God created them, God not only knew ahead of time that Adam would be tempted — but even expected it to happen and would have been disappointed, for lack of a better word, if it hadn’t — because of His desire for us to be fully awakened. The garden of Eden was paradise in the sense that man and woman were living without knowledge of good and evil — in other words, without any wisdom — but it wasn’t the actual paradise that God wants us to ultimately achieve. He wants us to gain wisdom so that we inherit the real paradise: the life to come. And we don’t inherit that unless we have truly learned the difference between good and evil, which means we are able to think for ourselves. If we think it’s okay to do unto our neighbor not as we would have them do unto us, for example, then life itself will teach us the fallacy of this way.

    At some point I think we do have to believe we have figured enough out (as I’m sure you believe you have been saved) so we are able to say “God will judge me if I am wrong.” I don’t mean one is certain to the point where one would pass a law to force others to share their belief, but that each of us has received enough reassurance that God Himself can show us where we are wrong — and we put our faith in His judgement.

  93. Just a handmaiden May 4, 2008 at 10:24 pm #

    Amen Quixote on post #91!
    That is the TRUTH. Don’t wait until you die to figure it out pm!

  94. Just a handmaiden May 4, 2008 at 10:27 pm #

    Hey there Bryan,

    I am not sure whether Muslims believe they are descendants of Ishmael or not, but it is what I believe. I think it is definitely worth checking into as you said. God bless.

  95. pm May 5, 2008 at 2:10 am #

    handmaiden:

    I think if you understood my comment you would realize that I have not.

  96. pm May 5, 2008 at 2:16 am #

    Denny:

    that’s what’s known as a shameless plug. In my opinion you should be above it. I think Jesus would. Don’t you?

  97. pm May 5, 2008 at 2:26 am #

    By the way, since some of you are confused about this, “no man cometh unto the father but through me” does not mean no one makes it to heaven unless they are a Christian. It means no one makes it to heaven unless they believe fully in God and have a relationship with God. That means on judgement day, there will be a lot of Christians surprised to find out they actually are not saved, because a relationship with God does not mean just following doctrine.

  98. D.J. Williams May 5, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    pm,

    Can you explain from the text how that verse means what you just asserted it means (#98)? I’m struggling to see how that explaination makes sense of the words themselves.

  99. Just a handmaiden May 5, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    PM,

    There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

    Jesus is God’s ONLY begotten Son, whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

    He who does not believe in Him, is condemned already, because he has NOT believed in the name of the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. (John 3:18)

    So, yes, “No man can come unto the Father, but THROUGH ME” means exactly what it says.

    There is NONE OTHER who has been sent by God, laid down His life and ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD. NONE.

    Mohammed is still in his grave, Buddah is still in his grave, all that have come and gone before and after them are all still in their graves. Jesus on the other hand IS ALIVE. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the One who was, and is and is to come, He is Almighty God, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and He is coming back soon! Revelation 1:8, 22:13, 19:11-16

    He who believes on Him, though He dies, yet shall he live! John 11:25

  100. pm May 7, 2008 at 3:44 am #

    I am not saying “don’t believe in Jesus.” On the contrary, I’m saying believe in Jesus. Believe that he was who he said he was. That means believing in and having a relationship with God — that God is real. The word “through” does not in my opinion mean “be a Christian.” Or “be a Catholic and not a Protestant.” It means that Jesus is the way to understand God and thus make God real to us: that God Himself would do that for us.

    So would it have “worked,” for lack of a better word, if Jesus had said “I’m not the only way”? No, it would have made no sense, because he was in fact God. How could He say otherwise? That, in fact, would have been a lie and not possible.

    But that does not mean that God Himself is limited to that one way of saving people: that there are not other means by which the great shepherd can guide people to eternal life. It was a misunderstanding of the message, after-all, that let to horrible atrocities of forcing, with violence, people to convert to Christianity.

    Mohammed’s body is still in his grave, yes, but his spirit is not. If you believe otherwise then yes we disagree. This is because there was no doubt in Mohammed’s mind of the existence of a real and loving God, with whom Mohammed had a real relationship. And if we believe the accounts of Mohammed’s life, God clearly blessed his life. He did not require Mohammed to be a sacrifice, because that price had already been paid — by God. So in a sense God can now bless Mohammed, like he can bless you and me, because of His sacrifice already made. But for that to happen we have to believe in Him, and how loving He is!

    So can one have a relationship with God, where God knows them and has saved them, without them being specifically Christian? In my opinion — yes. This is my reading of the bible. This is what God calls us to do when he says “love your neighbor.” In fact, I think a full understanding of the bible does not limit God’s ability to only save Christians. However, it only goes to reason that probably the best way to understand God is by understanding Jesus — because it’s the most dramatic example of God interacting with this world. Some people very much need the human incarnation. God understands this. But it is not the only way. Great are those who have not seen and yet still believe.

  101. pm May 7, 2008 at 3:45 am #

    I am not saying “don’t believe in Jesus.” On the contrary, I’m saying believe in Jesus. Believe that he was who he said he was. That means believing in and having a relationship with God — that God is real. The word “through” does not in my opinion mean “be a Christian.” Or “be a Catholic and not a Protestant.” It means that Jesus is the way to understand God and thus make God real to us: that God Himself would do that for us.

    So would it have “worked,” for lack of a better word, if Jesus had said “I’m not the only way”? No, it would have made no sense, because he was in fact God. How could He say otherwise? That, in fact, would have been a lie and not possible.

    But that does not mean that God Himself is limited to that one way of saving people: that there are not other means by which the great shepherd can guide people to eternal life. It was a misunderstanding of the message, after-all, that let to horrible atrocities of forcing, with violence, people to convert to Christianity.

    Mohammed’s body is still in his grave, yes, but his spirit is not. If you believe otherwise then yes we disagree. This is because there was no doubt in Mohammed’s mind of the existence of a real and loving God, with whom Mohammed had a real relationship. And if we believe the accounts of Mohammed’s life, God clearly blessed his life. He did not require Mohammed to be a sacrifice, because that price had already been paid — by God. So in a sense God can now bless Mohammed, like he can bless you and me, because of His sacrifice already made. But for that to happen we have to believe in Him, and how loving He is!

    So can one have a relationship with God, where God knows them and has saved them, without them being specifically Christian? In my opinion — yes. This is my reading of the bible. This is what God calls us to do when he says “love your neighbor.” In fact, I think a full understanding of the bible does not limit God’s ability to only save Christians. However, it only goes to reason that probably the best way to understand God is by understanding Jesus — because it’s the most dramatic example of God interacting with this world. Some people very much need the human incarnation. God understands this. But it is not the only way. Great are those who have not seen and yet still believe.

  102. pm May 7, 2008 at 3:48 am #

    (sorry for the accidental double post)

  103. D.J. Williams May 7, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    pm,

    If one can be saved by loving God apart from a knowledge of Christ, why did the disciples focus their earliest preaching efforts toward converting Jews, who would have claimed that they had a very strong love for God?

    “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:11-12

    How do you interpret this passage? Do you have any textual evidence besides your own opinion?

  104. pm May 7, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    D.J Williams,

    In my opinion it’s not “loving” God that is the key but knowing God. Once we know God and have a relationship with the real God, not an abstract idea, then we in a sense can’t help but love Him. God gets us to love Him by having a relationship with us. I suppose people worshiping false idols “loved” those idols (a golden calf, etc.), so loving is not enough — because you could be loving the wrong thing.

    There is a difference between saying a historic event was necessary for people to be saved (the life of Jesus), and saying that it is the only way for people to be saved. I see God’s revealing Himself to the human race as a process: if the God of the Old Testament is too abstract, or too stern, then it is as if God reveals another aspect of Himself to us in the New Testament. Because it’s important that that message (or aspect) of God be heard, then certainly people must believe in its vital importance. Thus jews who may have comprehended only a limited aspect of God (the Old Testament) would have been the focus of early efforts in conversion that you mention.

    But to say that means that Moses and Abraham, who obviously had an interaction with the real God, could not find their way to eternal life without first being “Christians,” makes no sense to me. They know God’s real voice, so God can lead them to the next life. How do we know God’s real voice? For many His incarnation and suffering as Jesus is needed, because without it we are looking for God in the clouds, or as an object glittering like gold, or a Being unaware of our suffering. But in truth this is something each of us can only tell for ourselves. We know if we have a relationship with the real thing and if not, we can pray that our faith be strengthened and God will do so.

    “[T]here is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” To which I ask — for all people everywhere, for all time? Or for those to whom that particular message of Jesus was meant? In my opinion God is not limited in this way.

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