Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Divine Equivalency by Ed Cardwell

As the refugee crisis rages from out of the Middle East and the storm clouds gather around the clash of cultures in Western societies, the issue of religious integration involving Islam and Christianity emerges as a prime topic among many church communities.  A related question circulating among ‘religious’ spokespersons in this global climate revolves around this specific query: 

Many influential leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere have recently tried to promote a general acceptance that both Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  Surely this comes out of fear of social upheaval and from a total ignorance of the distinctions that separate the two faiths.
A careful search into the origins, doctrines and practices of Islam since its beginning in the 7th century will reveal that the god of Islam is NOT the God of the Bible.  For example, in his “History of the Christian Church”, published in 1910, Dr. Philip Schaff, after careful and thorough research of original sources that have spanned the entire history of this religion, summarizes the contrast between Islam and Christianity:
“…the Mohammedan monotheism is abstract, monotonous, divested of inner life and fullness, anti-trinitarian, and so far anti-Christian.  One of the last things which a Mohammedan will admit is the divinity of Christ.  Many of the divine attributes are vividly apprehended, emphasized and repeated in prayer.  But Allah is (presented as) a God of infinite power and wisdom, not a God of redeeming love to all mankind; a despotic sovereign of trembling subjects and slaves, not a loving Father of trustful children.  He is an object of reverence and fear rather than of love and gratitude.”1
Islam has spread primarily through military force and threat of death; Christianity’s mechanism for expansion has been through a transformed heart of love for mankind and by means of persuasion of the Good News of salvation through the finished work of Christ through the aid of the Holy Spirit.2  It is true that the Koran states in a very early portion of the book:  “There is no compulsion in religion” (Surah al-Baqara, 2:257), but as there are inconsistencies and contradictions in later portions we find quite the opposite.  (Ex:  “Take not friends among them [unbelievers], until they emigrate in the way of Allah.  And if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and take no friend nor helper from among them.”  (Surah al-Nisa, 4:90).)  [Such anomalies are accepted in Islam. Newer commands annul/supersede older ones.   This is known as the Abrogation Principle. ] 2
Dr. Schaff’s examination of the Koran and the Bible further highlight the contrast:
“the Bible is the genuine revelation of the only true God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; the Koran is a mock-revelation without Christ and without atonement.  Whatever is true in the Koran is borrowed from the Bible; what is original, is false or frivolous.  The Bible is historical and embodies the noblest aspirations of the human race in all ages to the final consummation; the Koran begins and stops with Mohammed.  The Bible combines endless variety with unity, universal applicability with local application; the Koran is uniform and monotonous, confined to one country, one state of society, and one class of minds.  The Bible is the book of the world, and is constantly travelling to the ends of the earth, carrying spiritual food to all races and to all classes of society; the Koran stays in the Orient3, and is insipid to all who have once tasted the true word of the living God’4
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One ‘popular’ blogger, Benjamin L. Cory, whose articles appear in the Patheos religion commentary website under the ‘Progressive Christian’ channel, attempts to answer this issue in his article entitled:  Yes, Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God (But Here’s What That Means & Doesn’t).”
Many who follow Mr. Corey’s persuasion maintain that it is the God of Abraham that both the Christian and the Muslim worship since Abraham was the father of both Isaac and Ishmael.   Corey asserts: 
Here’s where we’re at: all three religions are offering worship (to) the same object, and that is Abraham’s God– though they might use different terminology.”
What Corey fails to acknowledge in his analysis is that the Bible is quite clear about the delineation of the faith in Abraham’s God that was proscribed by Yahweh.  In over 1400 words he does not offer a single Biblical quotation to justify his conclusions. 
The God of Abraham is revealed in several Biblical texts as the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’.  We find this exact quotation in 11 passages in the Old Testament and in 5 passages in the New Testament:  Gen 32:9; 50:24; Exo 2:24; 3:6, 15-16; 4:5; 6:3; Deu 6:10; 9:5; 29:13; 30:20; Mat 22:32; Mk 12:26; Lk 20:37; Acts 3:13; 7:30.  In these passages God promises the land on His oath; He defines the lineage of the covenant relationship; He enjoins Moses to instruct the sons of Israel in this covenant relationship; Jesus validates this lineage; Peter validates this same message in his second sermon; and Stephan reiterates these promises before the Council.  This divine clarification prevents the bastardization of the true faith and closes the door on any religious syncretism.
Corey continues:
“Some will argue that God and Allah are not the same (Abraham’s God) because Christians and Muslims describe the character of Abraham’s God differently, even conflictingly. However, describing an object differently doesn’t mean that two people are describing two totally different objects. For example, let’s say Jane and Henry both work for a guy named Jeff. Jane says that Jeff is a decent boss who treats people fairly. Henry on the other hand, describes Jeff as being lazy and unavailable. The two people may be describing Jeff differently, and one or both of them might be wrong in their understanding of Jeff, but they’re still attempting to describe the same object.”
Corey assumes what he is trying to prove – that they are one and the same object of worship, only described differently.  Cleary this premise is false, totally contradictory to Biblical revelation.  The true lineage of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob leads directly to the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah, to which the Scriptures clearly attest.  It is true that the believers in Christ may have varying perspectives on His person and ministry, and differing interpretations of His teachings, but He alone is God’s full image in human flesh, fully the Son of God, the only Mediator between God and man (1Timothy 2:5).
Ishmael, Abraham’s illegitimate son through Sarah’s maid Hagar, was not to be included in this lineage nor in the promises made to Abraham.  In Genesis 17:18-21; 21:10-12 (also quoted in Rom 9:7 and Heb 11:18); and Gen 26:1-4 God specifically identified who was to be Abraham’s heir and who was to be excluded:
“And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!" But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year." Genesis 17:1-21 KJV
“For through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” Gen 21:12 KJV
Ishmael’s disinheritance and subsequent banishment from his home, although understandably a most grievous burden to carry, laid the groundwork for the ethnic conflict that has lasted for the better part of four millennia.
It is Jesus, the virgin born son of Mary, from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is the only acceptable substitutionary atonement for the sins of man. (1John 2:2)  The Father conferred His full blessing on this unique office in Mathew 17:5: 
“..behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” KJV
And the Apostle Paul explains this revelation in 1Timothy 2:5:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
It is Jesus alone who in the flesh fully embodies the Godhead.  The Apostle John explains this in his introductory chapter of his Gospel:
“John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.  And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” John 1:15-18 KJV

In his letter to the church at Philippi Paul expounds on the supreme elevation of Jesus:
“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 NAS
John’s explanation continues in his 1st epistle:
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life-- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” 1John 1:1-4 NAS
John also in his 1st epistle amplifies the distinction:
“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1John 2:22-23 NAS
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” 1John 4:2-3 NAS
Undoubtedly many will be swayed by the shallow and inept reasoning of man, and will be quite willing to accept the doctrine du jour from religious leaders, without critical thought and without searching the Scriptures ‘to see if these things are so.’  To many it will not even matter since they believe that being ‘sincere’ in matters of faith is all that counts. 
But Watch for Christian educational institutions to fall for this heretical teaching one by one and for church leadership to follow in step.  They have already done so with the dogma of evolution, the clever and seductive doctrine of demons.  But the espousal of what one may call ‘divine equivalency’ will be the highway to a one world religion, which will be one of the major pillars ushering in the false Messiah’s global dictatorship.
1Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1910 reprint) Vol IV, p 185.
2Citizen Warrior website:  The Quran’s Last Word on Non-Muslims.(http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2010/09/qurans-last-word-on-non-muslims.html).
3Though the Muslim faith has spread around the globe in recent years, the object of their worship remains in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  Hence, the daily ritual of bowing toward their cubic Shrine called the Kaaba.
4Schaff., p 181f.