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What I Bet You Didn’t Know About the Christian Just War Tradition (I)

This article is part 11 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

It is common to hear comparisons between  the so-called “just war tradition” in Christianity and the jihad of Islam.  We are told that Jesus of the New Testament was non-violent and that the early Church was pacifist.  According to this standard narrative, it was only with Constantine that the Church “fell from Grace” and accepted a very limited concept of defensive war, one that sought to limit, restrain, and constrain war.  We are told that the violent acts committed by Christians throughout history were done in contradiction to this doctrine.

Many Westerners seem to be under the impression that we can draw a straight line from the ancient Greeks to St. Augustine to Thomas Aquinas to Hugo Grotius to modern international law.  This very selective, cursory, and incomplete understanding of history creates a very “generous” depiction of Christian tradition.  Once this mythical and fabricated history is created, it is compared to the jihad tradition of Islam.  No such “generous” depictions of Islamic tradition are harbored; if anything, the most cynical view possible is taken.

Such an unfair comparison–coupled with a completely Western perspective on contemporary world affairs–begs the question: why is Islam so violent?  Why is the Islamic tradition so much more warlike than the Christian one?

Many right-wing Christians and even secular people of the “Judeo-Christian tradition” exhibit a great deal of religious arrogance, especially when it comes to this subject.  Repeatedly, we are told to compare the supposedly peaceful Christian just war tradition with the allegedly brutal Islamic jihad tradition.

Occasionally, Christian polemicists have some level of shame and recognize that the history of Christianity has been marred by war and violence: the Crusades, the ethnic cleansing of the Americas, and the colonial enterprise come to mind.  We are assured, however, that these occurrences were “in direct contradiction” to official church doctrine.  This is what career Islamophobe Robert Spencer argues, for instance, in his book Islam Unveiled.  This is, we are told, completely unlike the Islamic offenses throughout history, which were supposedly in line with traditional Islamic thought.

In this article series, I will prove that this understanding of the Christian just war tradition is mythical, fanciful, and misleading.  Throughout history, there were serious shortcomings to the Christian understanding of just war–both in matters of jus ad bellum (the right to wage war) and jus in bello (right conduct during war).  Specifically, just war doctrine was restricted to Christians and Europeans.  Its constraints simply did not apply to “infidels”, “pagans”, “heathens”, “barbarians”, and “primitives”.  The Christian just war tradition was not just exclusivist but through-and-through racist.

One could reasonably argue that such a critique suffers from a modern bias: using contemporary standards to evaluate pre-modern societies is not something I generally encourage.  Yet, if we insist on critiquing historical Islam based on such standards, then surely we should be willing to apply the same to Christianity.

Additionally, this shortcoming–the lack of application of the just war principles to infidels–is hardly a tertiary issue.  Instead, it lies at the very heart of the comparison that is continually invoked between Christianity and Islam.  One could only imagine, for instance, the reaction of anti-Muslim critics if the dictates of war ethic in Islam were applicable to fellow Muslims only.  Had this been the case, such a thing would not be seen as a mere “shortcoming” but indicative of the “Islamic supremacist attitude.”  This wouldn’t be understood as something that could be relegated to a footnote or a few sentences buried somewhere deep in a huge text (which is the case with books talking about the Christian just war tradition).  Instead, pages and pages would be written about the injustices of the Islamic principles of war.

This double standard between believer and infidel, were it to exist in the Islamic tradition (and it does, to an extent), would become the focus of discussion.  But when it comes to the Judeo-Christian tradition, such things are relegated to “by the way” points that are minimized, ignored, or simply forgotten.  Western understandings of the Christian just war tradition create a narrative by cherry-picking views here and there to create a moral trajectory that is extremely generous to that tradition.  Meanwhile, Islamic and Eastern traditions are viewed with Orientalist lenses, focusing on the injustices and flaws (particularly with regard to religious minorities).  This of course may be a result of a primarily Eurocentric view of history: how did their war ethic affect people that were like me?

Yet, if we wanted to extrapolate an overarching theme of the Christian just war tradition, it would have to be this: the Christian just war tradition did not limit war (as is commonly argued) but instead, for the most part, served to justify the conquest and dispossession of indigenous populations.  This was not merely a case of misapplying or exploiting doctrines.  Rather, the doctrines were themselves expounded in a way so as to facilitate such applications.  Many of history’s famous just war theorists were generating such theories to provide the moral arguments to justify colonial conquest.  The tradition was more about justifying wars than about limiting violence to just wars.  The Christian acts of violence throughout history were not in spite of Church doctrine; they were more often than not because of it.

Why is it that, even in some scholarly books, the Christian just war tradition towards fellow believers is compared to the Islamic attitudes towards war with unbelievers?  Either the Christian treatment of Christians should be compared to the Islamic treatment of Muslims, or alternatively the Christian treatment of infidels should be compared to the Islamic treatment of the same.  It is the unfair comparison between apples and oranges that serves to reinforce this warped understanding of the matter.

*  *  *  *  *

An error we must avoid is conflating the modern-day just war doctrine with the historical Christian just war tradition.  Although St. Augustine laid down some principles that, through a long process of evolution, found themselves in today’s doctrine, it should be noted that Augustine’s views of just war were, by today’s standards, extremely unjust.  One must compare this proto-doctrine with what was practiced in traditional Islam, instead of retroactively superimposing the modern concept of just war onto Augustine.

Indeed, “one of the most influential contemporary interpreters of the [just war] tradition today, James Turner Johnson, goes so far as to say that to all intents and purposes, ‘there is no just war doctrine, in the classic form as we know it today, in either Augustine or the theologians or canonists of the high Middle Ages. This doctrine in its classic form [as we know it today], including both a jus ad bellum…and a jus in bello…does not exist before the end of the middle ages. Conservatively, it is incorrect to speak of classic just war doctrine existing before about 1500″ (Prof. Nicholas Rengger on p.34 of War: Essays in Political Philosophy).

In other words, for 1500 years–roughly seventy-five percent of Christian history–there was no real just war doctrine. Shouldn’t this fact be stated when comparing Christian and Islamic traditions?  The just war doctrine–as we know it today–arose during a time when the Christian Church’s power was waning, hardly something for Christians to boast about.

And even after that–lest our opponents be tempted to use this fact to their advantage (that the Christian world distanced itself from the Church unlike in the Islamic world)–the just war doctrine that was established continued to be applied, from both a doctrinal standpoint and on-the-ground, to only Christians/Europeans.  This continued to be the case in the sixteenth century and all the way through the nineteenth century.

It was only for a fleeting moment in the twentieth century that just war doctrine became universal.  It is an irony that in no other century was just war theory so horrifically violated, and this by the Western world (with the United States dropping two atomic bombs on civilian populations).

This brings us to the situation today: Jewish and Christian neocons and extreme Zionists in the United States and Israel are leading the charge against the just war doctrine, trying to use legal means to change it to accommodate the War on of Terror.  Many of our opponents are the most vociferous proponents of doing away with such quaint principles as just war, at least when it comes to dealing with Muslims.

Is it this fleeting moment in Christian history, in which for a fraction of a second the just war doctrine really existed, that our opponents use to bash Muslims over the head with?

*  *  *  *  *

The standard meme among Islamophobes–and wrongfully accepted by the majority of Americans–has been that Islam is exceptionally violent–certainly more violent than Judaism and Christianity.  When we look at the scriptural sources, however, this does not bear out: the Bible is far more violent than the Quran (see parts 123456-i6-ii6-iii6-iv789-i, and 9-ii of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series.)

Among the many other “fall back” arguments used by our opponents, we are reassured that Judaism and Christianity have “interpretive traditions” that have moved away from literal, violent understandings of Biblical passages–altogether unlike Islam (so we are told).  Robert Spencer writes on p.31 of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

When modern-day Jews and Christians read their Bibles, they simply don’t interpret the passages cited as exhorting them to violent action against unbelievers. This is due to the influence of centuries of interpretive traditions that have moved away from literalism regarding these passages. But in Islam, there is no comparable interpretive tradition. The jihad passages in the Qur’an are anything but a dead letter.

The Islamophobes then temporarily move away from quoting the scriptural sources but instead focus on comparing (1) the traditional interpretations of the canonical texts, and (2) the modern-day understandings of said texts.  In both respects, we are told, the Judeo-Christian tradition is more peaceful than the Islamic one.

In the previous article series (entitled Does Jewish Law Justify Killing Civilians?), I addressed the Jewish side of “the Judeo-Christian tradition.”  [Note: That article series is being modified before the last couple pages will be published.  I have decided to take reader input and mellow it out quite a bit, i.e. remove the images, change the title, etc.]  I proved that both traditional and contemporary Jewish understandings of the scriptural sources could hardly be used to justify the argument against Islam.

But when it comes to such matters, it might be more important to address the Christian side of the coin.  Considering that Christians are in the majority in this country, it is more common to hear right-wing Christians invoke bellicose comparisons between their faith and Islam.  Robert Spencer, an anti-Muslim Catholic polemicist, relies on this comparison routinely.

In order to shield himself from possible “counter-attack,” Spencer uses an interesting argument.  In a section entitled “Theological Equivalence” in his book Islam Unveiled, Spencer writes:

When confronted with this kind of evidence [about Islam’s violence], many Western commentators practice a theological version of “moral equivalence,” analogous to the geopolitical form which held that the Soviet Union and the United States were essentially equally free and equally oppressive.  “Christians,” these commentators say, “have behaved the same way, and have used the Bible to justify violence.  Islam is no different: people can use it to wage war or to wage peace.”

I am one of these “Western commentators.”  Spencer cites “the humanist Samuel Bradley” who noted that “Central America was savaged” because of “this country’s God.”  Bradley quoted “Spanish conquistador Pizarro” who slaughtered the indigenous population, by his own admission, only “by the grace of God.”

But, Spencer rejects such “theological equivalence,” arguing that Pizarro violated “the Just War principles of his own Roman Catholic Church.”  Spencer is not just arguing that the modern-day just war theory would prohibit the European conquest and dispossession of the Native Americans, but that even in the time of the conquest and dispossession itself the Church’s just war doctrine did.  He is arguing that the Christian acts of violence throughout history were “fundamentally different” than those committed by Muslims, since–according to him–the former were done against the just war doctrine of the Church, whereas the latter were endorsed by the Islamic religious establishment.

But, as I have argued above, this is patently false. The Christian just war tradition was used to justify the conquest and dispossession of the Native Americans, one of the greatest crimes in all of history.  In fact, these doctrines were formulated for that exact purpose in mind.

*  *  *  *  *

Disclaimer:

Naturally, as was the case with the article series on Jewish law, there is the chance of offending well-meaning and good-hearted Christians.  Let it be known, again, that nowhere am I trying to paint the entire Christian faith or community with a broad brush.  There exists no shortage of Christians who oppose war (especially America’s current wars in the Muslim world) and who advocate peace, tolerance, and mutual respect.

Critically evaluating religious traditions can be uncomfortable, but the problems therein should not be ignored nor should we pretend they don’t exist.  Honest evaluations of the past can be the key to coming up with more tolerant answers for the present and future.

I have already discussed some of the problems with the Jewish tradition.  This article series deals with the Christian tradition.  Rest assured, however, that a future article series of mine will take a critical look at the Islamic tradition as well.  However, because Islamophobia has become so rampant and pervasive in our culture, I do not think that this should be done before we first look at the problems inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition that our society is based on.  Once that is done, we can then look at the Islamic tradition from a more nuanced, balanced, and helpful perspective.  This is the purpose of this somewhat controversial article series.

To be continued…

Update I:  A reader pointed out that I made many claims above but did not back them up with proof.  I should clarify that this page is just the introductory piece to the article series and simply states what I will prove.  It is just a statement of my thesis; the proof to back the thesis up is still to come–hence, the “to be continued…

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  • rocky bal boa

    In English, one says he goes, he speaks, he takes etc, but they go, they speak, they take and so on. So it is clear whether a noun that is the subject of one of these verbs is singular or plural. In any case, claiming that elohim must be plural just because of the -im ending is as absurd as claiming that “Moses” or “Archimedes” must also be plural because of their “-s” endings.

    It is even more obvious in Hebrew, which has a full conjugation (with different forms for 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, singilar and plural, masculine and feminine) compared with English’s deficient conjugations. The situation with the word elohim, however, is complicated by the fact that it can be used in a number of diferent ways and has several different meanings. Elohim is often used as a title for God—but not always. It can also mean powerful/important men or rulers/leaders (as in B’réshıt 6:3 and 6:4, T’hillim 82:6) and judges (as in Sh’mot 21:6, 22:7, 22:8); and it can also refer to “gods” (i.e. idols). In all of these latter cases, its verb indicates the word’s plurality—but it never has a plural form verb when it refers to God: in just the first few verses of the Creation Chapter, we find

    in verse 3: vayomer elohim (“and God said”)—not vayom’ru (the plural inflection “and they said”);

    in verse 4: vaya’r elohim (“and God saw”)—not vayir’u (the plural inflection “and they saw”);

    also in verse 4: vayavdél elohim (“and God divided/separated”)—not vayavdilu (the plural inflection “and they divided/separated”);

    in verse 5: vayikra elohim (“and God called”)—not vayikr’u (the plural inflection “and they called”);

    and again in verse 5: kara (“He called”)—not kar’u (the plural inflection “they called”).

    At first sight, Sh’muél Alef 4:6-8 might seem to be an exception to this, but the proper translation of those verses is as follows:

    When the P’lishtim heard all the shouting, they said, “What’s all that loud shouting noise in the camp of the Ivrim?” Then they realised that Adonai’s Aron had been brought into the encampment. So the P’lishtim became afraid because they said, “God has come into the camp!” and they cried out in terror, “We’re done for! nothing like this has ever happened to us before; we’ve had it! Who can save us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the same gods that attacked the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in Egypt [and again] in the desert…”

    from which the reason for the plural forms is now obvious (the heathen P’lishtim had no understanding of a single God and so they would naturally have spoken about “gods” in the plural).

    Hebrew does have the zugi (dual plural) forms such as einayim (eyes), s’fatayim (lips), yadayim (hands), rag’layim (feet) and so on—also shadayim (a woman’s breasts), which is unusual in that it’s masculine (all other zugiyyim that are parts of the body are feminine); they’re mostly parts of the body, although forms like

    yomayim (two days, Sh’mot 16:29, 21:21; B’midbar 11:19),
    sh’vu’ayim (two weeks, Vayikra 12:5),
    ḥod’shayim (two months; not found in the T’nach), and
    sh’natayim (two years, B’réshıt 11:10, 40:1, 45:6 etc)

    do exist, as well as ma’tayim and al’payim (the numerals “200” and “2,000”).

    It is, however, absolute nonsense to claim the existence of a special plural form that means exactly three, and I should very much like to know what feature of the word elohim mahes it different from any other form ending with -im.

  • Danios

    @ C.L. Edwards:

    Thanks you for post ” 63793a34-14c2-11e1-a9f1-000f20980440 ” there is nothing to debate here, this Loonwatch post does not directly address the topics I wrote about.

    I have no idea who you are, nor have I ever seen your website before. Hence, why would you be surprised that “this Loonwatch post does not directly address the topics [you] wrote about”?

    The the writer at loon watch could be perfectly right in their assessment of the concept of Just war, but this will not impede on Christianity in the least for all the reasons I cited in my article and in this comment. As for Islam on the other hand, you have no wiggle room on the subject, Jihad is apart of the Islamic creed forever until the end of time, that’s by consensus. The physical Jihad is obligatory on the Umma as a Fard al Kafaya forever, this is the position of the over whelming vast majority of Islam’s scholars.

    On the one hand, you claim that official Church doctrine does not “impede on Christianity [sic]”, yet then you demand that there is “no wiggle room on the subject” in Islam. This is a typical double-standard of Islamophobes like yourself. There is certainly tons of “wiggle room on the subject” in Islam: modern-day Muslims equate jihad with an inner struggle and meanwhile restrict physical jihad to wars of self-defense.

    when Islam produces the caliber of people who Christianity has produced in history then maybe we can talk.

    Certainly, I am very familiar with “the caliber of people” Christianity has produced: the Crusaders, the Inquisitors, the Conquistadors, the colonial occupiers, the Ku Klux Klan, etc. etc…

    Were is the Islamic Martin Luther King Jr, a man ready to risk his life for the welfare of a whole nation, using nothing but non-violent means?

    It is only your bigotry that allows you to use Martin Luther King Jr. as an example against Muslims while ignoring the racist system that Dr. King opposed–one that had been in place for hundreds of years-a system that was based in white Christian racism.

    Talk to me about Martin Luther King Jr.’s namesake–Martin Luther–who was “founder” of Protestant Christianity. He was a bigot of the highest order and he would have profound influence on the Nazis and the Holocaust.

    You’re right: when Islam can produce such caliber of people then maybe we can talk.

  • Thanks you for post ” 63793a34-14c2-11e1-a9f1-000f20980440 ” there is nothing to debate here, this Loonwatch post does not directly address the topics I wrote about. There is a big big big point that needs to be considered here, The theory of the Just war is not Biblical doctrine, it’s the opinion of some theologians based on their extrapolation of what the Bible says about the subject, there is not universal acceptance of it in all Christendom( for one it was a theory of the western church only). You still have many Christians today and yesterday who reject the whole concept of Just war, some hold a totally pacifists position. And it is perfectly just to disagree over this subject in the Church, it is not a foundational doctrine that has any effect on ones salvation or justification before God, or even ones orthodoxy.

    The the writer at loon watch could be perfectly right in their assessment of the concept of Just war, but this will not impede on Christianity in the least for all the reasons I cited in my article and in this comment. As for Islam on the other hand, you have no wiggle room on the subject, Jihad is apart of the Islamic creed forever until the end of time, that’s by consensus. The physical Jihad is obligatory on the Umma as a Fard al Kafaya forever, this is the position of the over whelming vast majority of Islam’s scholars. An notice the writer of that Loonwatch post never attempts to deny any of these things, no his whole argument is Christian did it to like a four year old! So please do not attempt to equate the way of Christ and the way of Muhammad with each other, when Islam produces the caliber of people who Christianity has produced in history then maybe we can talk..it’s been 1400 plus year now and it has not happened as of yet. Were is the Islamic Martin Luther King Jr, a man ready to risk his life for the welfare of a whole nation, using nothing but non-violent means?

    If I find the time I will review the whole article and comment on it God willing.

    Site Admin

  • SKhan

    @Muslim:

    “Just for comparison, I am building up a similar collection of things for non-Muslim faiths/ideologies e.g. Neo-Darwinism.”

    What did you mean by that? Could you please tell me? I’m interested.

  • Well, Susanna, thank you for your comments; it has at least been interesting. Far be it from me or anyone else here to try to compel you to leave your evangelical Christian persuasion. May you continue in your beliefs unless or until God persuades you otherwise.

    I would like to respond once more to a couple of your statements, however – to try to clarify for you what the teaching of Islam (as I understand it) is. You wrote:

    “God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary and the angel said to her,”Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:30-32)Yet allah would have us believe that Jesus Christ’s Father sent the same angel, Gabriel, to Muhammed to dictate to him that God has no son, ”Allah is only one God. Glory to him (he is far too great ) that he should have a son!” (Sura 4:171) Such revelations can not come from the same God.”

    You quoted the Luke account as saying that Mary’s child would be called “the Son (capital ‘S’) of the Most High”; while quoting the Qur’an as saying that God has no “son” (small ‘s’). I would comment that in Luke, the Greek text does not call Jesus “the” Son of the Most High, but simply “son of the Most High”; and of course in Greek the letters are not differentiated between capitals and small letters. The capital ‘S’ in “Son” is purely an interpretive decision of the translators.

    I would reverse the use of capitalization, and say that in Luke Jesus is said to be called “a son of the Most High”; while the meaning of the Qur’an is that God has no Son. Do you see the difference? In John 10, when the leaders of the Jews accused Jesus of making himself God because he said God was his Father, and he and his Father were one, Jesus denied the charge. He referred to Psalm 82:6 which says: “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you'”; and then asks how he could be accused of blasphemy for saying he also is God’s son. In other words, he claims no sonship or “deity” other than that which belongs to humanity in general. God is “My Father and your Father; my God and your God”.

    The New Testament writers had the “small ‘s'” concept in mind when Jesus was referred to as “son of God”; and we (at the very least, those who believe and obey him) are his brothers and sisters (and therefore sons and daughters of God just as he was).

    Unfortunately, Christianity has changed this into making Jesus not just “a son” like all his other human “brothers and sisters”, but “the Son of God” – meaning a Divine Being who is supposedly equal to, and of the same substance as, his Father. This is very similar to the polytheistic imagining of many Divine Sons and Daughters of God who are either equal to God or just barely below Him. And it is this concept of “Divine Sonship” to which the Qur’an objects. Because the concept of “sons” as Divine Beings had become so prevalent – not just within polytheism, but also within Christianity with respect to Jesus Christ – the Qur’an just insists that God has no son; but the intention is to deny that God has any “Son” (Divine Being other than Himself).

    I personally maintain that the concept of Jesus as “the Son of God” is not to be found anywhere in the Bible; but the concept of Jesus as “a son of God” abounds. I don’t think Islam would have much argument with the concept of Jesus as “a son of God” in the sense in which all humanity (particularly believing humanity) are His “sons” – brought forth by Him, under His loving care, and subject to His authority.

    Now, just briefly, God’s “plan of salvation” is simple, and abounds in the Qur’an. It proclaims that God is kind and merciful to His creation; and that whoever turns from evil ways, believes in God, and does the good works that are appropriate to such belief, receives God’s free forgiveness for his sins and the great blessings of God. That’s basically all there is to it. Elaborate plans involving “substitutionary sacrifice” are not necessary, and not possible. No one can suffer punishment for anyone else’s sins, and no one can be rewarded for someone else’s righteousness. God simply freely forgives those who repent and then proceed to do righteous deeds.

    Sure that’s contrary to the “vicarious atonement” schemes developed by Christian ‘orthodoxy’; but some of us at least have come to the conclusion that it is totally consistent with the Biblical presentation. We believe the ideas of “ransom” and “redemption” have been greatly misunderstood. Jesus offered himself (by God’s will) to US (not to God) to ransom (deliver) us (by moral persuasion – both in word and action) from our sinful way of life. The crucifixion of Jesus, as it is portrayed in the Bible, would be seen as a dramatization to show us what is required of us to find God’s salvation: “take up your cross daily and follow me”. We must become “crucified” to this world and its ways of thinking and living, and become “alive” to God. God gave us the example of Jesus to contemplate, and to spur us on toward repentance and good works (dying to ourselves, and living to God).

    True, Muslims do not believe that Jesus died by crucifixion; but I see no reason that the Biblical story can’t be accepted at least as a metaphorical “parable” to show that truth of dying to ourselves and living to God.

    Okay, I admit I’m “challenged” in the matter of being brief. 😆 But hopefully this will help you see how a Muslim – or at least someone like me who claims to be “muslim in spirit, if not in letter” – views matters; and why we don’t find the Allah of the Qur’an to be a different Deity from the YHWH/Elohim/Theos/God of the Bible.

    And hopefully you will come to recognize that you are not as “Islam-aware” as you think. Any Muslim will just smile at your claim; you’re only deceiving yourself.

  • Susanna

    I will leave you with this: You believe what you believe and I firmly believe what I believe. If the Bible is true as you said “nowhere in the Quran” does it say it is not true”, then:

    God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary and the angel said to her,” Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:30-32)Yet allah would have us believe that Jesus Christ’s Father sent the same angel, Gabriel, to Muhammed to dictate to him that God has no son, ” Allah is only one God. Glory to him (he is far too great ) that he should have a son!” (Sura 4:171) Such revelations can not come from the same God.

    If you claim the Bible is true, then where in the Quran is the plan for salvation of God’s creation? Where is the concept of grace and the love for his creation? 2Tim 3:16 says, All scripture is God-breathed…by the breath of the Spirit of God, that goes where it wills. Is Allah spirit or is he confined by his limitations?

    Sura 9:30: ” The Jews say, Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say, Messiah is the son of Allah. They say (only) with their mouths: They imitate the saying of those who were unbelievers in former times. Allah’s curse be upon them(may Allah fight to kill them) How they are deluded away!
    From the standpoint of Christ,allah of Islam rejects that Muslims and Christians are believers in the same God.

    I believe in One God, living and present in the Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three distinct persons, yet are all one God, in perfect harmony consisting of ONE sustance.They are coeternal, coequal,and copowerful..It is therefore perfectly correct to say that God is in me when I proclaim Jesus as my Savior.

    ” I am not ashamed of the gospel ( the Good News of Jesus Christ) because it has the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

    I am not ignorant of Islam. I am Islam-aware, not islamophobic. But call me what you will, it doesn’t matter to me.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Géji : Glad you enjoyed the referencem, even if your computer seemed to be trying to prevent you from quoting me.

    You also said earlier, “YHWH is refered to over 20,000 times in the Tanakh with singular pronouns. Not to mention the hundreds of passages that speak of the uniqueness and oneness of YHWH (there are too many to quote here) and most importantly, the Sh’ma (Deut. 6:4).” Okay, let’s see if you are willing to share. Your use the term Tanakh and your saying “most importantly, the Sh’ma” indicate an above average level of familiarity with Judaism for a non-Jew. (Much more impressive than recognizing the hadith I referred to.) Who let you in on our secrets? 😉 And how far does that knowledge go?

  • Pingback: What I Bet You Didn’t Know About the Christian Just War Tradition (III): Saint Ambrose’s Holy War Against Infidels | WhatIfTheyWereMuslim.com()

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  • Géji

    Oh God!!! LOL, It looks like it happened again, let me try it AGAIN.
    It should read as follows.

    You said: “Let’s put it this way: if God told a prophet that his people should pray fifty times a day, the primary Muslim prophet would be more likely to agree while the primary Jewish prophet would be more likely to say to argue with that authority.”

  • Tank

    @Géji – Thanks for the providing the Clarification

    @Muslim – As Geji stated: The first paragraph is from William Lane Craig. My point was to refute his statements in the second paragraph (my own comments) sorry for lack of clarification.

  • Géji

    @Just Stopping By, i dont know what happened to the 3rd paragraph of my post up there as it did not submit, and which was in relation to my last paragraph, but it should read as follows.

    you said:

  • Géji

    @Just Stopping By, i agree. And as Stephen G. Parker pointed out, the Qur’an also uses several times the Majestic Plural forms “We” and “Us” when referring to God speaking. Yet no one can accuse Allah in the Qur’an of having “multiple Godheads” or “plurality in unity”, nor the Qur’an of teaching any trinity. As for Allah/Eloh/YHWH, i guess He’s different in Trinitarianism context, which is totally okey if anyone wants to see Him that way. Christian Arabs who use no other word but “Allah” for God, will for example use terms such as – [Allāh al-ʾab (الله الأب) meaning God the Father, Allāh al-ibn (الله الابن) meaning God the Son, and Allāh ar-rūḥ al-quds (الله الروح القدس) meaning God the Holy Spirit]- and thats fine, YHWH/Allah is for everyone, whichever way one views Him. I just wish Susanna and other quasi fundamentalists will give Muslims the same respect whenever they’re speaking of Muslims concept of God(Allah).

    BTW, my post from October 28th, 2011 at 9:23pm – 2th paragraph, was addressed to @Tank, which BTW also, I and @Muslim both misunderstood him from his reply – (at October 26th, 2011 at 9:02pm)- to Susanna, for he did not put his first paragraph in quotes. So we’ve all been a bit confused thanks to Mrs Susanna.

    You said:

    LoL, i see what you mean here, and i love that story about the interaction between the 2 M’s and what took place, as i’ve heard it many times in my childhood. And my parents have use it whenever i and my siblings were too lasy to perform our ‘only 5′ instead of ’50’ daily prayers. Many Muslim moms or dads till this day will wheedle their lazy progeniture with that story, and say ‘if it wasnt for Moses(pbuh)?’. He even wanted Muhammad(pbuh) to plea for 3 daily prayer, But then Muhammad(pbuh) said: “Me, going back to Him a 4th time?? no-way josé!!”….. Well, Darn!

  • Géji

    @Stephen G. Parker.

    I was about to answer the remaning of Susanna nonsensical remarks, which i’m sure is due to her lack of knowledge of Islam, or her unwillingness to educate herself about the subject before spewing nonsense. What i can tell from the condescending tone in her comments whenever she post on Loonwatch, is that it looks like she caved into the Islamophobia wagon. But thanks to your excellent post up there, it looks like you answered the remaing of her nonsense( ie Mary been “part” of the trinity and her misguided idea of Allah “remoteness”).

    Susanna says < "Why after almost 6 centuries would allah decide that all of the bible was not true"

    Now where did you get the idea that Allah "decide" that "all" of the Bible was not true?? Were you in conversation with Him when He "dicided" that?? Either show us the proof of that, or the verse from the Qur'an that says that, or you seriously need to stop throwing unfounded and baseless accusations, your pick.

    The Qur'an says that parts of the Bible have been changed and corrupted, which by the way many Critical Bible scholars today are generally in agreement.

    The Qur'an says:

    1 – [Can ye (o ye men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you?- Seeing that a party of them heard the Word of Allah, and perverted it knowingly after they understood it… Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:"This is from Allah," to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.] (Quran
    2:75,79)

    2 – [There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from Allah," but it is not from Allah: It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and they know it! ](Quran 3:78)

    3 – [And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!](Quran 3:187)

    Or similar other verses. But in nowhere does it says the Bible is "not true". Those verses were also a clear warning to any Muslim who would dare to take such a measure against the Qur'an.

    But anyway Mrs Susanna instead of you bringing up topics that are unrelated to the article, maybe next time you should stay focus on the topic of the article you're reading.

  • @ Susanna – this whole argument is so totally off topic. Nevertheless, I guess your comments deserve a response, as others have been doing.

    1. I wonder how, in speaking, you distinguish LORD from lord? How do you speak in a way to indicate you have all capital letters in mind? Regardless, LORD/lord is not the same word is “the Unpronounceable Name” YHWH. Even the Jews did not attempt to actually say the Name.

    Others have commented on the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures use plural forms sometimes to refer to the One. Jews and unitarian Christians (as well as Muslims) have no difficulty in seeing “the plural of majesty” in this usage. But what makes your argument so ludicrous is that you’re apparently ignorant of the fact that the Qur’an also uses the plural forms “We” and “Us” quite frequently when referring to God speaking. Yet who is going to accuse the Qur’an of teaching “the Trinity” or some other form of “plurality in unity”? Islam is unquestioningly unitarian, despite the use of plural pronouns in reference to the One.

    It is of course true that the Qur’an never uses the plural of the noun God. While the Hebrews used the plural “Elohim”, the Qur’an is consistent in using the singular form “ilah’ – which corresponds directly with the Hebrew singular “Eloh” (or “Eloah”). In the name “Allah”, Al (the) is combined with the singular “ilah” (god) to become the singular “Allah” (The God or simply God). Nevertheless those plural pronouns are used with the singular name “The God” – but without in the least indicating any actual plurality in the One.

    2. “Jesus” in Hebrew would be “Yeshua”, which is simply the name we know as “Joshua” in our English Bibles. We know that Joshua succeeded Moses in leadership of the Israelite people, and led them in their Exodus. But does anyone suppose that Joshua was “God incarnate” because his name meant “YHWH saves”? Certainly not. And the assumption that “Jesus” was named “YHWH saves” must mean that Jesus is himself YHWH is not only blasphemous, but absurd. Even if his name had actually been ‘Immanuel’ (God is with us) as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, it would not have meant that Jesus was the God who is with us. The name would simply be a symbolic reminder for us to trust in the Living God, Who is Ever Present with His creation.

    Jesus’ use of the present tense “I am” is no different than the incident in John 9 where a man born blind was healed by Jesus. Some people couldn’t believe that such a man could be healed of his blindness, so they decided it was not the man who was blind, but a look-alike. But as verse 9 says, the man himself said “I am”. That’s how it is in the Greek text. We understand that the meaning is “I am he” or “I am the man”. Who has ever asserted that the formerly blind man must have been asserting that he was YHWH because he said “I am”? Neither should we assert it of that holy messenger of God, Jesus (peace be with him) who was always submissive and obedient to his Father and our Father, and did not seek to be equal with God (in contrast to Adam in the Genesis story).

    3. So who ever claimed that Jesus wrote the New Testament? “The Gospel” which was given to Jesus is not “the four gospels” or any other portion of the New Testament; rather it is “the Gospel of the Kingdom” which he preached, and the Gospel of forgiveness of sins for those who repent of their sins, return to God, and obey the Word of God that Jesus proclaimed. The four gospels and the letters of the N.T. may attempt to present to us the meaning of the Good News which Jesus preached, but they are not the same thing as “the Gospel” (and are perhaps in many ways very defective in their presentation of that good news).

    You have your reference wrong with regard to Christians worshiping Mary. Probably what you’re referring to is 5:116 –

    [5:116] AND LO! God said: “O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, ‘Worship me and my mother as deities beside God’?” [Jesus] answered: “Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! It would not have been possible for me to say what I had no right to [say]! Had I said this, Thou wouldst indeed have known it! Thou knowest all that is within myself, whereas I know not what is in Thy Self. Verily, it is Thou alone who fully knowest all the things that are beyond the reach of a created being’s perception.

    You’ll notice that the verse says nothing about worshiping Mary “as part of the Trinity”. It implies that some were worshiping Jesus and Mary “as deities beside God”. And from the point of view of a Jew, Muslim, unitarian Christian, or Protestant Christian, that is precisely what goes on in that large branch of the Christian Church known as Roman Catholic. Mary is referred to as “the Mother of God”, and Catholics pray to Mary to intercede with God or with His “Son” on their behalf. Mary and Jesus are both considered to be “intercessors with God”. “Mariolatry” is not just an accusation made by the Qur’an and Muslims. I know people within Christianity who complain only half humorously that in practice Roman Catholics have made Mary “the Fourth Person of the Trinity”. That is what the Qur’an refers to, whether or not Mary is officially termed a “Person” in the “Godhead”.

    If you don’t believe such things constitute worship of Mary, then of course you’ll take exception to the Qur’an. But I think most everyone outside of the Catholic Church will recognize the Catholic attitude toward Mary as in all practical purposes “Mariolatry”.

    And the Qur’an states over and over that Allah is the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, and all of the other Prophets (peace be with them all). In 2:255 it is stated: “GOD – there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent Fount of All Being.” That is in all essential respects the same as “I Am That I Am”.

    5. Since Jesus himself denied that he was in any unique sense God’s son – his sonship was just what he held in common with humanity in general – then we have every right to deny that Jesus is the Son of God (as opposed to “a son of God” as are all the rest of humanity). Jesus taught this in John 10:27-36 when the Jewish leaders accused him of claiming to be God since he said God was his Father and he and his Father were one. Jesus’ response was to remind them that the Psalmist has said that “you are all gods” and all were sons of the Most High. How then could they say he was blaspheming when he said he also was God’s son?

    The Jews accused him of claiming to be God, and he denied the charge. But Christians have assumed that those Jewish leaders were correct in their accusation, and have in fact made it a point of faith to be believed rather than considered blasphemy. They totally ignore Jesus’ denial of their accusation.

    The reason that the Qur’an simply rejects the idea of God having a son is that Christians and Polytheists think of God having a Son (or Sons – capital ‘S’) meaning deities (or a Divine Person within the “Godhead”). If people only meant what the Psalmist meant when he said “you are all sons of the Most High” – speaking of humans – then probably God would not have insisted in the Qur’an that He has no Sons. The apostle Paul said that, at the very least, all believers are “sons of God through Jesus Christ”; and Jesus told his disciples that he was returning to “my Father and your Father; my God and your God”. But no one assumes that we are all Sons (capital ‘S’ – Persons in the “Godhead”) of God. As I said, it is primarily this concept of capital ‘S’ Sons which the Qur’an rightly opposes (either other superhuman deities, or “Persons in the Godhead”).

    Your assertion that the absolute Unity of Allah precludes Him from interacting with His creation is – there’s just not a more polite way of saying it, I’m afraid – pure nonsense. Anyone who has spent any time reading the Qur’an knows that Allah “is closer to you than your neck vein”; He not only created all things, but is the Sustainer of all. He is present everywhere, sees all, hears all, and knows all. The concept of God’s remoteness was a pagan notion, which caused them to imagine multiple deities in order to intercede with the remote one; and perhaps to help God in governing creation on the assumption that God was either too busy to take care of it all or just not overly interested in the every day goings on. Islam categorically denies such a concept of remoteness and inadequacy in the Almighty (as does, of course, the very monotheistic and unitarian Judaism). God most certainly does not need to be plural, nor does there need to be a plurality of deities, in order for Him to be present everywhere and the Sustainer of all the worlds!

    All praise be to God (alhamdulillahi), the Sustainer of the worlds (Rabbil alamin). Sura 1:2

  • Susanna

    The general term for God is Elohim, whereas Yahweh (the LORD) is His personal name. There are three possible personal numbers in Hebrew, singular, dual and plural and Elohim is of this kind-plural. It is followed by a singular verb and there is interchange between singular and plural pronouns. ” Let Us make….” God was not talking to angels here.

    The Old Testament (and I’m not talking just about the Torah) has many instances, Isaiah 6: 8 for one that indicate it sees plurality in the Godhead, a distinction of persons within God.

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