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No, Jesus WASN’T a Pacifist: The Problem with the Muhammad vs. Jesus Comparisons

jesus vs muhammad

This is part 5-ii of the 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?

Throughout his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer misleads the reader by selectively comparing Muhammad to Jesus.  Muhammad is portrayed as a “warrior prophet” and contrasted with the (supposedly) non-violent Jesus.  Spencer argues on page four of his book that his “Muhammad vs. Jesus” comparisons are intended to “draw a distinction between the core principles that guide the faithful Muslim and Christian.”  We are told that Islam’s militancy stems from its founder, as Christianity’s peacefulness traces back to its earliest figure.  Although Robert Spencer is a fringe extremist, his sentiments are shared by many average Christians (and even non-Christians).  To the average Westerner, Muhammad was a man of violence, whereas Jesus was the quintessential pacifist.

Prof. Philip Jenkins explored a similar mindset when it came to the Koran and the Bible. Jenkins explained (emphasis added):

Unconsciously, perhaps, many Christians consider Islam to be a kind of dark shadow of their own faith, with the ugly words of the Koran standing in absolute contrast to the scriptures they themselves cherish. In the minds of ordinary Christians – and Jews – the Koran teaches savagery and warfare, while the Bible offers a message of love, forgiveness, and charity…

But in terms of ordering violence and bloodshed, any simplistic claim about the superiority of the Bible to the Koran would be wildly wrong. In fact, the Bible overflows with “texts of terror,” to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery.  The Koran often urges believers to fight, yet it also commands that enemies be shown mercy when they surrender. Some frightful portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races – of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted.

I have extensively (and painfully) elaborated on this point earlier in this article series.

The comparisons between Muhammad “the warrior prophet” and Jesus “the pacifist” are equally faulty.  For one thing,  many were the “warrior prophets” in the Judeo-Christian tradition before Muhammad, including Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, Saul, and so many others.  Moses, the prototypical “warrior prophet”, was the key figure of Judaism–would these Islamophobes vilify Judaism as they do Islam?  (Nowadays it is often considered socially taboo to criticize Judaism but completely acceptable to malign Islam.  Why the double standard?)

For the record, these Biblical prophets and holy figures are just as much a part of Christianity as they are Judaism.  Christian theology holds these personalities in very high regard.  Therefore, to suddenly limit the discussion to Jesus alone is misleading.  Yet, this disingenuous tactic is critical to the Islamophobic rhetoric.  If Islam is to be deemed a violent faith based on the personality of Muhammad, then both Judaism and Christianity must similarly be designated as violent faiths based on the personalities of Moses, Joshua, and all the other myriad of figures in the Bible who engaged in acts of violence far more atrocious than anything Muhammad stands accused of.

Leaving aside this point, it ought to be noted that Jesus as a pacifist is pure fiction.  Prof. Reza Aslan recently published a book on Jesus, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which disproves the myth of the pacifist Jesus.  Although Aslan’s message may be news to some lay persons, it is in fact (as Reza Aslan himself points out) “old news” in scholarly circles.  Thanks to the viral Fox News interview and Aslan’s addictive writing style, Zealot became a best-seller.  Christian Islamophobes wrongfully assumed, without reading the book, that Aslan was attacking the character of Jesus.  In fact, however, Aslan reveres Jesus, even while he dispels many of the myths about the man.

One of the myths that Aslan dispels is the idea that Jesus was a pacifist.  Many Christians think of Jesus separately from the personalities of the Old Testament.  But, in fact, there is a great deal of continuity in the Biblical narrative.  According to the Bible, God rescued Moses and his people from Egypt and promised them the land of Canaan.  However, Canaan was occupied by pagans, so God commanded the Jews to completely annihilate the indigenous population.  This divinely sanctioned genocide helped establish a Jewish kingdom in the Promised Land.  After some time, however, the Jews were conquered by outside forces.  By the time of Jesus, the Jews were under imperial occupation by Rome.

What many Christians (and others) fail to realize was that Jesus was a Jew.  He was in fact one of many different Jews who claimed to be the Messiah.  The Messiah, it was believed, would be a conquering king sent down to liberate the Jewish people, “fight Hashem’s [God’s] wars” (Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 11:4), and then not only conquer but punish (with great vengeance) the enemies of Israel.  Jesus’s connection to the war heroes of the Bible is underscored by the fact that he is called “a Davidic king”–the same David who engaged in acts of war and genocide against the Philistines and Amalekites.  Aslan writes:

[A] fair consensus about who the messiah is supposed to be and what the messiah is supposed to do: he is the descendant of King David; he comes to restore Israel, to free the Jews from the yoke of occupation, and to establish God’s rule in Jerusalem.  To call Jesus the messiah, therefore, is to place him inexorably upon a path–already well trodden by a host of failed messiahs who came before him–toward conflict, revolution, and war against the prevailing powers.

This was the role Jesus was claiming for himself by saying he was the Messiah.  This is why the Romans crucified him.

In his book, Reza Aslan writes:

It was a direct commandment from a jealous God who tolerated no foreign presence in the land he had set aside for his chosen people. That is why, when the Jews first came to this land a thousand years earlier, God had decreed that they massacre every man, woman, and child they encountered, that they slaughter every ox, goat, and sheep they came across, that they burn every farm, every field, every crop, every living thing without exception so as to ensure that the land would belong solely to those who worshiped this one God and no other…

It was, the Bible claims, only after the Jewish armies had “utterly destroyed all that breathed”…only after every single inhabitant of this land was eradicated, “as the Lord God of Israel had commanded” (Joshua 10:28-42)–that the Jews were allowed to settle here.

And yet, a thousand years later, this same tribe that had shed so much blood to cleanse the Promised Land of every foreign element so as to rule it in the name of its God now found itself laboring under the boot of an imperial pagan power, forced to share the holy city with Gauls, Spaniards, Romans, Greeks, and Syrians–all of them foreigners, all of them heathens–obligated by law to make sacrifices in God’s own temple on behalf of a Roman idolater who lived more than a thousand kilometers away.

How would the heroes of old respond such humiliation and degradation? What would Joshua or Aaron or Phineas or Samuel do to the unbelievers who had defiled the land set aside by God for his chosen people?

They would drown the land in blood. They would smash the heads of the heathens and the gentiles, burn their idols to the ground, slaughter their wives and their children. They would slay the idolaters and bathe their feet in the blood of their enemies, just as the Lord commanded. They would call upon the God of Israel to burst forth from the heavens in his war chariot, to trample upon the sinful nations and to make the mountains writhe at this fury.

Jesus was crucified by the Romans before he could mete out vengeance on the enemies of Israel, but–as a I detail in my earlier article Jesus Loves His Enemies…and Then Kills Them All–he will fulfill this task during his Second Coming:

Jesus will “will release the fierce wrath of God” (19:15) on them, and “he shall execute the severest judgment on the opposers of his truth”.   Because of this, “every tribe on earth will mourn because of him” (Rev. 1:7), and they will “express the inward terror and horror of their minds, at his appearing; they will fear his resentment”.  Just as the people of Canaan were terrified by the Israelite war machine, so too would the unbelievers “look with trembling upon [Jesus]”.  This is repeated in the Gospels, that “the Son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:30).  “All the nations of the world shall wail when he comes to judgment” and the enemies of Jesus “shall mourn at the great calamities coming upon them”.

Far from the meek prophet of the First Coming, Jesus on his return will command a very strong military force that will “destroy[] every ruler, authority, and power”.  Not only is this consistent with the legacy of conquests by the Biblical prophets, it is actually a fulfillment or completion of the task that Moses initiated: holy war and conquest in the name of God.  In First Corinthians (part of the New Testament) it is prophesied that instead of loving his enemies, Christ will subdue and humble them under his feet:

1 Corinthians 15:24 [Jesus] will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.

15:25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.

Reza Aslan concludes:

[T]he Jesus that emerges…[is] a zealous revolutionary swept up, as all Jews of the era were, in the religious and political turmoil of first-century Palestine–[which] bears little resemblance to the image of the gentle shepherd cultivated by the early Christian community.

Once Jesus is understood as a continuation and culmination of the Biblical narrative, it becomes clear that he was not a pacifist.  The Biblical war ethic that Jesus believed in was arguably more violent than the equivalent Koranic discourse Muhammad operated from.  (More on this in a future article.)  The only difference was that Jesus’s rebellion was cut short by his crucifixion, whereas Muhammad triumphed against his former tormentors.

It should be noted that Jesus, like Moses and Muhammad, was an enigmatic personality; nobody can know for certain who the real Jesus was.  People (including scholars) subconsciously project into Jesus their own self-image.  Remembering Jesus as a pacifist is a healthy option for the Christian believer, especially when it forms the basis of a peace-loving theology.  But, once that pacifist image is used by right-wing warmongers as a stick to bash Muslims over the head with, it’s time to call foul.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

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  • Mehdi

    Didn’t mean to make this a sad atmosphere though :-)

  • Tanveer Khan

    Hmm. True.

  • Mehdi

    Funny from a distance, not always fun when you’re an immigrant or a woman I’m afraid :-(

  • Tanveer Khan

    The saudis can be very funny at times.

  • Mehdi

    I saw that one, talk about nerds

  • Chameleon_X

    “Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t remember him substantiating any of these claims about Christianity or Islam in any of his many posts. . . all the while accusing others of whataboutery.”

    “Now that he’s realized that that’s a losing argument, he wants to make any reference to the Bible or the Quran taboo”
    I think those comments of yours pretty much sum it up. Boil these down even further, and what you’re left with is a serious case of willful ignorance.
    I like that reference to game theory, by the way. That is a framework that I also like to use when I can. I have an interest in social welfare optimization strategy, but I have never thought about it in the context of variations on the golden rule. An interesting and very logical perspective indeed. Speaking of which, I think nanomanoman is in desperate need of a new Nash Equilibrium in his debating strategy.

  • Tanveer Khan

    There are no assholes in Saudi Arabia. Only comedians (obviously Im not talking about the general Saudi public).

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/09/30/Top-Saudi-cleric-says-women-drivers-risk-ovary-problems/UPI-33871380578357/?spt=hts&or=5
    Top Saudi cleric says women drivers risk ovary problems

  • Tanveer Khan

    I doubt Robert Spencer would listen to anyone who is critical of his views. xD

  • MichaelElwood

    “You have still not made any real rebuttal or offered any relevant facts.”

    He can’t/don’t/won’t defend his position because it’s BS. There’s no delicate way to say it. In his own words, here are some of the claims that he made about Christianity and Islam:

    “Islam was spread through violent jihad. These are facts that most Muslims acknowledge (it’s in the historical record), at the same time as calling it a ‘religion of peace’, which they presumably picked up because the ‘house of peace’ was within the lands of Islam, the ‘house of war’ outside. When Muslims say ‘but its a religion of peace’ no wonder the ‘militants’ who have been reading the Koran ignore them and everyone else goes – say what?

    “One can better contrast Judaism and Islam – both share much more in common. Christianity is something else however – anti-intuitive, placing love over justice, poverty over wealth, forgiveness over revenge. With respect to (1) and (3) at least, it is in stark contrast to the other two.

    “Islam is a warrior religion. Christianity is not. Islam is supremacist, Christianity is not (the last shall be first). Both the warrior and superiority thing lead to a great deal of Muslim soul-searching – how can such a weak, humble faith have ‘triumphed’ when once we were great? The challenge is for Islam to reform itself from within, drawing upon the example of Christianity (among other things). However, the rigidity that served it so well for 1200 years also seems to doom it (and the rest of us) to many more centuries of anger, hate and fear.”

    ************

    “I am certainly not arguing that all religious texts cannot be interpreted in different ways, but from an ontological perspective there is little to separate Judaism and Islam, apart from the fact that one is ‘tribal’ (the chosen people) and the other ‘universal’ (the superior faith). Both are justice based and spread by the sword (I don’t know what’s controversial about this – my local mosque had an exhibition the other day charting the Muslim Conquest. Muslims seem really proud about it – among themselves).

    “Ontologically Christianity is different, placing love above justice, forgiveness above revenge, etc. There is a qualitative difference, which is why the religions are so different and the cultures too. That’s why the assertion that Mohammed and Jesus were basically no different and saying the same thing is irritating, and wrong.”

    Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t remember him substantiating any of these claims about Christianity or Islam in any of his many posts. . . all the while accusing others of whataboutery. It’s not just Spencer who makes references to the Quran, as Ilisha pointed out. Nanomanoman also made reference to the Quran when he wrote, “When Muslims say ‘but its a religion of peace’ no wonder the ‘militants’ who have been reading the Koran ignore them and everyone else goes – say what?” Now that he’s realized that that’s a losing argument, he wants to make any reference to the Bible or the Quran taboo because “studying scripture and interpreting it as in this discussion, does not make sense as it is a fundamentally Islamic approach, so it s starting from the wrong place”.

    But if not in the Bible and the Quran, where does one go to find this elusive “ontological” essence of Christianity and Islam? Does he expect people here to just take his word for it that “Islam is a warrior religion. Christianity is not. Islam is supremacist, Christianity is not (the last shall be first)”? And where did he get that phrase, “the last shall be first”? Isn’t it from that book that he says Christians don’t have to study?

    “And now you don’t even seem to have a position anymore, slinking away into a corner from your pro-pacifist position.”

    Because, again, it’s BS. Let me quote what a Muslim scholar (Edip Yuksel) and a Jewish scholar (Joseph Telushkin) said about pacifism from a previous post of mine.

    Edip Yuksel, wrote:

    “Moral rules involving retaliation can be classified under several titles:

    • The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    • The Silver Rule: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.
    • The Golden-plated Brazen Rule: Do unto others as they do unto you; and occasionally forgive them.
    • The Brazen Rule: Do unto others as they do unto you.
    • The Iron Rule: Do unto others as you like, before they do it unto you.

    “Empirical studies on groups have shown that the golden-plated brazen rule is the most efficient in reducing negative behaviors in a community abiding by the rule, since the rule has both deterrence and guiding components. Game theorists call this rule “Generous Tit-For-Tat” (GTFT), a rule that leads one party to cooperate as long as the other party does too. If the other party cheats or hurts the party adopting GTFT, then the GTFT-adopting party stops cooperation and retaliates, while demonstrating willingness to forgive the wrongdoing and start a new stage of cooperation. This positive tilt successfully leads the other party to seek cooperation of the GTF party and ultimately adopt the same rule of engagement. The Golden rule, on the other hand, does not correspond to the reality of human nature; it rewards those who wish to take advantage of the other party’s niceness. Therefore, though the golden rule is the most popular rule on the lips of people, it is the least used rule in world affairs. It might have some merits in small groups with intimate relations, but we do not have evidence for that. The Quran is a book of reality, and its instructions involving social issues consider the side effects of freedom. Thus, the Quran recommends us to employ the golden-plated brazen rule. “If the enemy inclines toward peace, do you also incline toward peace” (8:61; 4:90; 41:34). Other verses encouraging forgiveness and patience in the practice of retaliation (2:178; 16:126, etc.), make the Quranic rule a “Golden-plated Brazen Rule,” the most efficient rule in promoting goodness and discouraging crimes.”

    Rabbi Joseph Telushkin writes in his book “Jewish Literacy”:

    “Two of the Ten Commandments are commonly mistranslated in English, leading people to ascribe views to the Bible that are actually alien to it. This is particularly true of the Sixth Commandment, which in Hebrew consists of only two words: Lo tirtzakh. Most English translations render it as “You shall not kill.” Pacifists and opponents of capital punishment commonly cite this verse in support of their position. The only problem is that the Bible rejects pacifism, and prescribes capital punishment, especially for murder. The correct translation of Lo tirtzakh is “You shall not murder.” Although the Bible abhors unnecessary bloodshed, it does, like every society before and since, distinguish killing from murder–which is nonpermitted killing. That’s why we don’t speak of “murdering in self-defense,” but “killing in self-defense,” an act that the Bible–though not Mahatma Ghandi or Jehovah’s Witnesses–heartily endorses. As the Rabbis of the Talmud later put it: “If somebody comes to kill you, kill him first” (Sanhedrin 72a).”

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/04/pamela-geller-guide-dogs-and-genocide/

  • Chameleon_X

    “Given this, it is not a sign of ignorance of their faith for a Christian to boil down their religion to a simple phrase and not know the detail of “their” book, because the book takes a secondary place to the person, in Christianity.”

    I agree, assuming your faith is defined by whatever you choose to put on that blank slate after tossing out your scripture, or at least chucking out all the uncomfortable bits that don’t confirm what faith you already chose to follow. Hence the reason why today there are over 41,000 denominations of Christianity, and counting.

    As for Islam putting its focus on a book, whereas Christianity puts its focus on “the person” or a personal relationship with God, this is a ridiculously false dichotomy, per the article you linked to in another post. The entire focus of Islam is on God, with every act of worship designed to increase our consciousness of God (taqwa) and our connection with God. Muslims don’t worship a book or have as their ultimate goal some academic understanding of a book. That view is absurd. In Islam, the Quran is a means to an end and a gift from God, not the end in itself.

    “I would agree Robert Spencer is an Islamophobe. But the point is what is motivating him?”

    Try $160,000+ in annual salary from Zionist hate groups for starters, not to mention his other sources of hate profits, such as his book royalties. Read the “Fear, Inc.” report and the recent Islamophobia industry report from CAIR for all the gruesome details.

    “’Textually’ however, he can and does say to his detractors – call me out, point to my inaccuracies!”

    He has been called out countless times and thoroughly debunked, so why then has he failed to even respond to those rebuttals, let alone correct his blatant inaccuracies. And why has he continued to run away with his tail between his legs when challenged by LW to a debate? The reason is that he is a paid liar, and he has been proven to be a liar, again and again.

  • nanomanoman

    To be honest until it was raised I hadn’t given Robert Spencer a thought. To me, comparing Islam and Christianity is apples and pears – I thought the link I included expressed it well. I think using this argument against the likes of Spencer only stacks up if it succeeds, and to me it doesn’t.

    I think there is a lot of rage and resentment on both sides. Spencer is an asshole, but there are assholes in the Islamic world too, like the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who has recently called for all churches on the Arabian peninsula to be destroyed. Can you imagine the Pope or Archbishop of Canterbury saying that? But no riots here (a bit more important than a cartoon or a misquote, i would say), barely any coverage.

    I think it is ironic that Islam is reasserting itself at a time when the West has become much more ignorant about itself, Islam and its relationship to it. In 1944 the mosque in London’s Regent’s Park was allowed on condition an Anglican Cathedral was built in Cairo. Previously the West respected the potential of Islam, whereas now it just ignores it, regarding it as basically archaic, unless it pushes itself in to public view but then in a manner that usually reinforces prejudice. So the cycle continues. It would be great to see the promotion of a more engaging, progressive relationship, but just as in the West all the money and influence is in the hands of neo-cons, in Islam it is in the hands of the Saudis. It’s a downward spiral.

  • Chameleon_X

    “Given this, it is not a sign of ignorance of their faith for a Christian to boil down their religion to a simple phrase and not know the detail of “their” book, because the book takes a secondary place to the person, in Christianity.”
    I agree, assuming your faith is defined by whatever you choose to put on that blank slate after tossing out your scripture, or at least chucking out all the uncomfortable bits that don’t confirm what faith you already chose to follow. Hence the reason why today there are over 41,000 denominations of Christianity, and counting.
    As for Islam putting its focus on a book, whereas Christianity puts its focus on “the person” or a personal relationship with God, this is a ridiculously false dichotomy, per the article you linked to in another post. The entire focus of Islam is on God, with every act of worship designed to increase our consciousness of God (taqwa) and our connection with God. Muslims don’t worship a book or have as their ultimate goal some academic understanding of a book. That view is absurd. In Islam, the Quran is a means to an end and a gift from God, not the end in itself.

  • nanomanoman

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to infer that you were criticising Christian essentialism. I don’t think Robert Spencer will listen to me 😉

  • Chameleon_X

    You have still not made any real rebuttal or offered any relevant facts. And now you don’t even seem to have a position anymore, slinking away into a corner from your pro-pacifist position. Based on your lack of a reply to my scenario where violent justice would have to be employed by any sane individual who is not a coward, you know as well as I do that pacifism is completely indefensible under any real world scenario.

    As for “Islamism”, thank you very much for just supporting my argument that it is a politically-motivated propaganda term and nothing more. The MB are just the flip side of the same propaganda coin, as I have said in previous posts. Whereas the Islamophobes want to create a negative association fallacy with respect to their lies against Islam, the MB wants to create a positive association fallacy with respect to their negative actions in contradiction of Islam. Tacking on the “ism” at the end just makes all the bigoted and repugnant association fallacies “politically correct”. 

    As for the pacifist message of Modern Christianity, this is undeniably its overwhelming teaching with respect to all political conflicts. This politically transformed ideology (as academic research has shown) lacks any real teeth to fight, to initiate war against authoritarian power, and, if necessary, to kill in order to achieve justice, freedom and genuine, lasting peace. That is what makes it a pacifist love cult philosophy that is either very cowardly or grotesquely hypocritical given all the aggressive violence, death and terrorism meted out by so many western Christians — far beyond any unjust violence from Muslims.

    As you can tell, my view does not jive exactly with the author of this article; or at the very least, his view is quite incomplete. I agree that the evidence shows that Jesus was not a pacifist, but Modern Christianity does not preach nor advocate the difficult message of fighting for justice in this world. When pressed for how they would respond to political injustice according to their Christian values, most Christians just parrot the “render unto Caesar…” quote to emphasize that politics and Christian values should not even be mixed, let alone reconciled, as if Christians can somehow live — cowardly or hypocritically — in a cult-like love bubble oblivious to the entire political world at large. 

    That is why I make a strong distinction between the Christianity that Jesus actually taught, as so many books like Reza Aslan’s show, and the emasculated, paganized version that I call “Modern Christianity”. Even from the Bible, it is quite clear that Jesus taught the same basic monotheistic message as Islam (without the deified Jesus). Jesus also had a much more balanced view of justice compared to the completely impractical and lopsided ‘love-at-all-costs’ that Modern Christianity preaches today. After all, Jesus is also a prophet of Islam. That is why I feel deeply obligated to defend his reputation like I would for any prophet of Islam. I really don’t care how offensive this view may be to a large proportion of Christians who reject what Jesus actually taught in favor of a politically-convenient pagan ideology as a substitute.

  • http://www.loonwatch.com/ Ilisha

    Where did I say there was something wrong with Christians boiling their faith down to that line? I didn’t. I introduced that with express purpose of acknowledging your point!

    Yes, I already read what you linked to, and again, mentioning that many Christians essentialize their faith was actually meant to acknowledge the points you’ve made.

    I also never said it is a “sign of ignorance” for Christians to boil down their book. Are you sure you meant to address this to me? It doesn’t seem to fit as a response to what I actually wrote.

    Also, Robert Spencer is a convinced Christian and he is the one who introduced comparative scripture, not Danios. Once Spencer has taken that approach, he can be countered using the same tactic. How can it be that he is allowed to use comparative scripture to make assertions, but no one is allowed to make similar comparisons to refute his arguments? Robert Spencer made assertions about Christianity vs. Islam, and Danios is responding, not the other way around.

    If you say studying scripture and interpreting does not make sense, please tell that to Robert Spencer.

    You don’t believe Danios succeeded in countering Spencer? Okay, that’s your opinion. Everyone is free to read the article and assess it for themselves.

  • The greenmantle

    “Now, I would agree Robert Spencer is an Islamophobe. But the point is what is motivating him? He is plainly driven by a hate of Islam and selects only its most negative aspects. Hence, an Islamophobe.”

    Well said that man ( if you are a bloke, this is the internet afer all).

    “Given this, it is not a sign of ignorance of their faith for a Christian to boil down their religion to a simple phrase and not know the detail of “their” book, because the book takes a secondary place to the person, in Christianity”

    Ok so we should look at what the average christian believes and does ,not extreamists such as the Rev Deacon Robert Spencer as we both agree he is driven by unchristian like hate even though he is a priest .

    “Perhaps this is why, to me, studying scripture and interpreting it as in this discussion, does not make sense as it is a fundamentally Islamic approach, so it s starting from the wrong place.”
    OK I accept this idea unfortunetly this approach l I believe is to rebut the agruments of the likes of Rev Deacon Robert Spencer who compares the scriptures in his rant like writings and whose writings are often repeated copycat fashion on this very website by his deluded followers .
    Where would you start this discussion :-)
    Sir David

  • nanomanoman

    Now, I would agree Robert Spencer is an Islamophobe. But the point is what is motivating him? He is plainly driven by a hate of Islam and selects only its most negative aspects. Hence, an Islamophobe. “Textually” however, he can and does say to his detractors – call me out, point to my inaccuracies! I appreciate this may have been the original point of the post, but I don’t think it succeeded.

    I hope you looked at the link I posted – because I thought it succinctly expressed the differences between the Islamic and Christian approaches to faith – the written (or textual) approach, which it claims is more favoured by Islam, and the notion of the “personal God” that is the Christian way.

    Given this, it is not a sign of ignorance of their faith for a Christian to boil down their religion to a simple phrase and not know the detail of “their” book, because the book takes a secondary place to the person, in Christianity.

    Perhaps this is why, to me, studying scripture and interpreting it as in this discussion, does not make sense as it is a fundamentally Islamic approach, so it s starting from the wrong place.

  • nanomanoman

    I complement your sturm and drang. It certainly sounds good. I’d love for you to point out precisely how the core religion of Jesus was distorted to such an extent that it became “toothless” as you put, rather than waving your wand at its “pagan” roots – the gospels are pretty consistent. And what does this say about Islam, which some scholars argue is a hybrid of paganism, Judaism, Zorarostianism, and Christianity?

    I’m well aware of the early history of the church and its evolution, as well as the Greek influences in Palestine at the time.

    Your definition of Islamism would certainly come as a surprise to the Muslim Brotherhood.

    I’m not sure how you have extrapolated from my comments that I am a pacifist. I can only presume you are attacking the whole notion of pacifism as being something intrinsic to Christianity. You may well have read a lot, but it seems with a rather narrow purpose in mind. I suggest you explore Christianity with the open mind non-Muslims are frequently being entreated to approach Islam.

  • hussaini

    had to edit: …a book that prove JESUS… to …a book that “proves” Jesus…

  • hussaini

    Ok, i see you point. thanks always

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Hussaini:

    No apology necessary, but accepted anyway.

    I do agree with you that no one has proven or disproven whether Jesus was a pacifist. It is a position that some believe is true, others believe is false, and others are uncertain about. There is evidence in favor of Jesus’ pacifism (the statement that one should “turn the other cheek” when struck) and against (see the material Danios cites). So, I believe you are right that that statement is at best an opinion and at worst an opinion stated as a fact.

    As you say, how one weighs the aggregate of all that information is subjective, and I respect people with different views on the subject.

    I think that Danios did overstate things a bit by saying “disproves,” but he also ends by saying that “nobody can know for certain who the real Jesus was.” So, I think that even Danios recognizes that there is room for uncertainty here.

    Anyway, thanks for your messages. They do bring up a good point about sensitivities. I can quibble with some of Danios’ wording in this post, but (with the exception of the “pure fiction” phrase) it is generally pretty neutral and allows him to make a point in a fairly objective tone.

  • hussaini

    ah ok, the post has appeared. Thanks.
    I guess i find cherry picking dishonest. But, maybe am wrong…

  • hussaini

    I apologise if i came across a bit rude… i have always read/ taken comments from you and Ilisha as objective even when i disagree. I guess i am uncomfortable when my sensitivities trample upon as “collateral damage”.Ilisha’s usage actually.

    “Prof. Reza Aslan recently published a book on Jesus, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which disproves the myth of the pacifist Jesus. Although Aslan’s message may be news to some lay persons, it is in fact (as Reza Aslan himself points out) “old news” in scholarly circles.”
    This statement is untrue. the book did not disprove the “myth”.
    analysis is about weighing the aggregate of information an seeing the direction it points.

  • http://www.loonwatch.com/ Ilisha

    None of your posts are awaiting moderation, nor are they in trash or spam. Maybe disqus is acting up.

    As JSB said, if you convince Danios there is some factual inaccuracy, then he will address that. So far, you seem to offer opinions and vague criticism, and I still don’t know exactly what you think is dishonest or inaccurate.

  • hussaini

    My post is still awaiting moderation yet the reply is on the board… I guess something is wrong with my disqus.

    “He is dishonest, and Danios is not.”
    That is the type of analysis am talking about-dishonest analysis.If you have to accept questionable/constestable scholarship to prove you point without informing you readers that it is contested.
    the “prove” was in quotes…. i actually was being sarcastic. this is what Danios wrote:”Prof. Reza Aslan recently published a book on Jesus, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which disproves the myth of the pacifist Jesus. Although Aslan’s message may be news to some lay persons, it is in fact (as Reza Aslan himself points out) “old news” in scholarly circles.”
    I find this dishonest. i don’t about you.
    Danios (and you) should be aware of this:
    http://www.google.com.gh/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fbooks%2F2013%2Faug%2F07%2Fzealot-life-jesus-aslan-review&ei=8-NJUoepOZKR7AbBz4DIAQ&usg=AFQjCNH5NwMTghXAkkSGPccGP2wTe31N9w&bvm=bv.53217764,d.ZGU&cad=rja
    http://www.google.com.gh/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Farticles.washingtonpost.com%2F2013-08-02%2Fopinions%2F40991405_1_palm-sunday-scholar-jesus-s&ei=cuRJUrvhDK_T7Aabn4GgDA&usg=AFQjCNH-Rs-k7bARuI6CyQVeP8EXufxcRg&bvm=bv.53217764,d.ZGU&cad=rja
    BTW my post is still awaiting moderation

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