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| Jesus and the Jihadis|
Craig A. Evans & Jeremiah J. Johnston
Chapter 12 - Crimes Against Humanity
October 29, 2017
Hello to another blessed day given to us by our lovely heavenly Father’s grace and mercy. And we continue our book, Jesus and the Jihadis, by the authors Craig A. Evans and Jeremiah J. Johnston. And we look at the last official chapter of the book, chapter 12, Crimes Against Humanity, with the sub-title: The Quality of the Tree Is Known By Its Fruit.
One of the many reasons why so many atheists turn against belief in God in recent years has been the Islamic violence. This was highlighted even more so with the attack on September 11, 2001, and the massive number of terrorist attacks that we see almost daily. Atheists claim that belief in God leads to conflict, hatred, and violence. There is no better evidence of this than the behavior of Muslim extremists and “martyrs” who commit acts of terror in the name of God. This is why many atheists firmly believe that the world would be a better place if there was no belief in God.
There is no doubt this is one of the main reasons as to why there is a noticeable growth in atheists in the Western world in recent years. However, to counter-argue, atheists who argue this overlook a great deal of evidence that suggests that atheism has been far more harmful to humanity than theism. The brutal history of atheistic Communism, for example, has been responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million people in the last century or so. And, of course, atheists are only able to make this argument by also overlooking the fact of all the good that has resulted from the belief of God.
To go into specifics, the theism that has been in discussion throughout this book began with Abraham, a man who lived about 4,000 years ago. It is from him that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam had begun. At the center of the difference between Jews, Christians, and Muslims is how the promises made to Abraham are to be interpreted.
One of the key points of Abraham’s life is the covenant that he had made with God, known as the “Abrahamic covenant.” It begins with God commanding Abraham to leave Chaldea, which is modern day Iraq, and migrate to the land of Canaan, which is modern day Israel. God promises Abraham, as read in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abraham was delighted to hear this from God except the fact that he had no children. Then God promises Abraham that his descendants will be too numerous to count. In Abraham and Sarah’s impatience, Abraham has a son, but not with Sarah but Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. That son’s name is Ishmael. And so the question must be asked, is the birth of Ishmael the fulfillment of the promise?
For Muslims the birth of Ishmael, Abraham’s first child, is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. When we look at the book of Genesis, whose stories reach back to the time of Abraham and earlier, we get a huge hint to the answer of our question. According to Genesis, Abraham blessed Ishmael, and so did God in response to Abraham’s prayer. In Genesis 17:20 it reads, “As for Ish’mael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” Ishmael is certainly held in great honor and he does make a great nation of people, who are the Arabs.
However, even though Ishmael did receive his blessings from God, he was not the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise for that was Isaac. Abraham himself was more than willing to look upon Ishmael as the fulfillment of the promise. But God spoke otherwise, in Genesis 17:19, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” True to His promise, God did allow for Sarah to conceive in her old age and gave birth to Isaac. It was to Isaac that the aged Abraham “gave all he had.” Together Isaac and Ishmael buried their father.
The covenant with Abraham passed through Isaac to his son Jacob, who became the father of twelve sons, and whose name was later changed to Israel. It is from these sons that the twelve tribes of Israel came about. They became known as the Hebrew people, though they called themselves Israelites and their home country, which at one time was the land of the Philistines, was known as Israel. This land was settled sometime between 1500 and 1300 BC. Israel’s first kings – Saul, David, and Solomon – reigned in the 900s BC. Their stories and the story of their royal successors are told in the Old Testament’s books of Samuel and Kings.
Both Jews and Christians accept the narrative that we have just stated. However, this narrative is not accepted in the Qur’an and the Islamic traditions. In fact, the key element of the story is turned on its head where Isaac doesn’t receive Abraham’s blessings and Ishmael does. And this narrative changed under Muhammad. How did Muhammad know this? Was there another ancient source, or more reliable historical archeology? The answer to those questions is “no.” Muhammad knows this because God told him through the angel Gabriel.
The problem with this approach is that one can always claim God as proof for anything. Corroborating evidence is not necessary with this approach. But the question must be asked, “what if God really didn’t reveal it?” That is where evidence plays an essential role. Historians will not trust an ancient document unless there is evidence that suggests that the document is in fact credible. This is why archaeology and topography are so important for the study of the Bible. Historians, archaeologists, and biblical scholars trust the narratives because the narratives and the physical evidence correlate.
Archaeology and other historical sources tell us that the Holy Land in the time of the patriarchs really was the way it is reflected in the book of Genesis. The Ancient Near Eastern tablets and inscriptions correlate with most of the stories in the early chapters of Genesis. The Ebla Tablets found in Syria, as well as other sources, show that names like Abraham are authentic to the time in which Abraham and his immediate descendants lived. Archaeology in Egypt shows that Israel’s references to building a certain way while the Hebrews lived in Egypt are all validated. Archaeological excavations in Israel today attest to the existence of the ancient kingdom of Israel in the days of Saul, David, and Solomon. The results of these excavations show that Jerusalem really was the capital city of a smell empire extending to the southern boundaries of Lebanon.
Nothing like this, however, can be said about the Qur’an. There is no archaeological evidence that supports Muhammad’s radical recasting of the ancient biblical narratives. He has rewritten parts of it so that his understanding of God and the Arab people receive support from Israel’s history and principal characters in that history. In essence, the Qur’an, which devout Muslims follow uncritically and without question, represents a massive revision of history that corroborates with so much evidence and historical sources.
Using their new revision holy text, Muslims today completely reject Israel’s claim to its homeland. As a modern nation, Israel itself is not only not recognized, but the entire history of Israel has been hijacked and turned into an Islamic history. Not surprisingly, Muslims believe that the Jewish people have no right to live in the Holy Land. They think the state of Israel has no legitimacy to the extent that some maps that are sold in the Middle East do not even show Israel. Zealous Muslims will never make peace with Israel but will continue to do everything possible to destroy this small country and drive out and kill the Jewish people.
This is the theological foundation that makes up modern day radical Muslims. Many westerners believe that Muslims strongly oppose Israel because the Palestinians have been treated unjustly. The violence practiced by radical Muslim groups against the Palestinians, especially the Christian Palestinians, is hardly ever noticed. As Israel has learned the hard way, left to themselves the West Bank and Gaza Strip have become occupied by terrorist groups who have no interest in the well-being of Palestinians and certainly no desire for peace.
Radical Islam desires to capture the world for Islam and will use any means necessary to achieve their goals. Iran desires to obtain nuclear weapons so that it might intimidate the West and, if the timing is right, destroy Israel. If such actions result in the destruction of Iran, then so be it because they believe it is the will of Allah. ISIS is attempting to form a new caliphate in the Middle East, where they can gain power throughout the world and further its mission of radical Islam conquest. Most agree that ISIS is violent and a sore in the face of mankind but not many knows that it truly represents Islam.
Previous President Barack Obama doesn’t think so either. He has on more than one occasion stated that ISIS “is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIS’s victims have been Muslim.” Many have reacted to these assertions with skepticism. Two weeks after Obama’s speech, British Muslim Maajid Nawaz stated that there must be a reformation in Islam in the way people read the texts. Maajid stated that Muslims must begin to use the “tools of exegesis” while reading the Qur’an.
When Maajid speaks of the use of “tools of exegesis,” he is describing what Jews and Christians do when they interpret the Bible. There are violent texts in the Bible, in narratives that describe the history of Israel but Jewish and Christian interpreters do not apply these texts in a literalistic fashion without regard to the context and circumstances. Context and circumstances that DO NOT apply today.
However, Maajid does admit, “this is a struggle within Islam.” This is a struggle because the Qur’an itself forbids freethinking and raising honest questions. Qur’an 4.65 reads, “But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you (Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. In Qur’an 33.36, it reads, “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, that they should have any option in their decision. And whatever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.”