Saturday, September 17, 2016
[also posted on YouTube]
In my prior post, I looked at a one-sentence Hebrew answer to Muslim questions about the Trinity. This definition also leads to two other realities worth discussion. I will address the first one here.
Across human history, in reverse chronological order, there are three basic concepts of deity. In Islam, Allah is singular, and proclaimed to be the greatest. In Hinduism, beginning with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and in other polytheisms, there are many finite gods and goddesses. And in the Bible we have Trinitarian monotheism in Yahweh Elohim, and as fulfilled in Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In essence, Allah equals unity without diversity, as he has "no companions," and is thus defined by the human number 1. In political terms, this understanding leads to imposed conformity.
In essence, polytheism equals diversity without unity, and is thus defined by multiples of the human number 1. In political terms, this understanding leads to competing local claims on power, and thus, social chaos.
In essence, in Yahweh Elohim, we have diversity in service to unity, defining the One who is greater than the concept of human number. In political terms, this reality serves checks and balances on power, and thus religious, political and economic liberty for all people equally.
Monday, September 12, 2016
[This post can also be seen on YouTube]
Recently, I visited Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, London, and happened upon some Muslim Salafists seeking to convert Christians to Islam. One such preacher, Hashem, wanted to disprove the Trinity as a biblical concept. But after a good amount of discussion, he abruptly left at a critical point.
So it seems good to me to issue an invitation to any and all interested Muslims.
It begins with:
A One-Sentence Hebrew Answer to Muslim Questions About the Trinity.
The Hebrew name for Yahweh Elohim is the only written concept in history for the One who is greater than space, time and number, and thus, the concept of the Trinity follows.
This one sentence answer proves comprehensive, and invites a thousand questions. Can it be sustained? I invite any and all Muslims to question me.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
On Sunday afternoon, 28 August, 2016, I visited Speaker's Corner at the Marble Arch, Hyde Park, London. There were many Muslim Salifists there trying to convert Christians, and a good number of African Christians preaching the Gospel and singing hymns.
I was in a prayerful mind as I wandered through and past the 200-300 onlookers, especially paying attention to the Muslim preachers. I stopped at a place where a Muslim was trying to persuade a Christian man from Northern Europe that the Trinity is not true. The Christian man, knowledgeable in the Bible, was interested in probing some of the depth of what the Bible means by Father, Son and Holy Spirit (with a crowd of some twenty, mostly Muslims, listening in). But the Muslim preacher was only interested in trying to corner the Christian, demanding "yes" or "no" answers to manipulative questions. A mismatch in purpose and nature.
So I interjected, asking the Muslim preacher (whose name turns out to be Hashem) if I could ask two question. He responded: "Are you a Christian?" I said yes. He then asked if I wanted to debate the Trinity. And I said that we cannot talk about the Trinity, and its biblical underpinnings, without probing far deeper. Could I thus ask a question in that regard?
So he assented, and I asked him what he knew about the Hebrew nature of the name Yahweh Elohim. He said Elohim was "a" name for God, and that Jesus did not call himself Yahweh (showing where he wanted to take the conversation, and assuming I was aiming for the same).
As the discussion continued for quite some time, he interjected often, trying to take it into his line of reasoning. I would always return it to my question in seeking his understanding of Yahweh Elohim. I said several times that my interest was in first arriving at an honest definition of terms between us, so that an actual debate could then happen. And so we had a pleasant give and take, even when, as I said he was my equal in the sight of the one true Creator, he instead said we were not equals (referring to a definition of Muslim superiority to all others). I smiled and moved on.
At one juncture he was trying to talk about Yahweh in Exodus 3 not being who Jesus claimed to be. I said I wished I had my Bible with me so we could look at the text. So he took out his cell phone, and scrolled to the text in question, so I peered over his shoulder and we read vv. 14-15 together.
What fun. It was an app designed by Muslims to win debates with Christians. So the actual Hebrew is not there, but only an English transliteration, and the transliteration makes a classic error. In v. 14, when Elohim says to Moses that his name is Ehyeh, I AM, this Hebrew word is the first person imperfect masculine singular term of the verb "to be." Then in v. 15, the text speaks of the full divine name, Yahweh Elohim. Here, Yahweh in the Hebrew is the third person imperfect masculine singular of the verb "to be," HE IS.
But the English transliteration renders Yahweh as LORD, not as HE IS. "Lord" in Hebrew is adonai, and some years after the Babylonian Exile in 586 B.C., the Jews stopped pronouncing the name of Yahweh and replaced it by saying adonai whenever the text says Yahweh.
Now this involves a detailed history. But Hashem suddenly got scared, for his argument that Jesus does not call himself Yahweh (e,g, I AM in John 8:58, ego eimi in the Greek) falls apart. Jesus did not call himself by a third person reference, HE IS, designed for Moses and all others to use, but he called himself by the first person Ehyeh in calling himself ego eimi.
In other words, he confused Yahweh with Ehyeh, thinking that Yahweh means I AM, when it means HE IS in referring to the I AM; which is to say Jesus calls himself the God of creation incarnate in the flesh. Hence the language of the Trinity comes into view.
As I tried several times to explain this, he kept saying I was wrong, then all of sudden he grasped what I was saying. He looked at me and said, "I thought you were sincere, but you are insincere. I have to go." And he left quickly through the crowd. I then talked with his friend, a physician from Dubai named Ahmed, and we had a very pleasant conversation for some 45 minutes. He told me that Hashem was a professional Muslim preacher, and had done some 100 such debates at Speaker's Corner.
I enjoyed Hashem's humanity, and I was interested in real communication. So when he departed so quickly, I was immediately disappointed in that I wanted to converse more. Only later did it sink in to me that he had forfeited the debated he wanted, indeed, he had chosen to silence his opposition to the Gospel.
In my next blog, I will pick up the question of Islam and the Trinity itself.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Those who claim to be "transgender" (the new language for transvestites and cross-dressers) have tremendous soul pain -- a separate discussion. But when does pain translate into lawlessness, and thus harm the whole social order?
One central biblical ethic is the power of informed choice, rooted in Genesis 2. Here, informed choice is only possible as rooted in a true definition of terms -- good versus evil, freedom versus slavery, life versus death.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade, which "legalized" human abortion, refused to consider the definition of biological human life.
From 2004 to 2015, Goodridge, Kerrigan and Obergefell, in "legalizing" same-sex marriage, refused to define any biological or fixed identity for homosexuality.
And now, new "transgender" laws refuse to define male and female, making such definitions momentarily subjective, thus endangering women and girls as cross-dressing males use women's public restrooms.
False definitions of terms now govern.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, the antichrist is defined as "the lawless one." When lawlessness assaults the nature of male and female, and the covenant of marriage, social collapse beckons. How close are we?
The church first needs to repent for her own sins before we can grasp a redemptive vision.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
In every presidential election cycle, the abortion debate surfaces, but where is the competency in addressing it?
Presently, we have a hypothetical contrast posed if abortions were made illegal. Namely, should a woman be punished by the law for having an abortion? Or should it be the doctor who performs the abortion who is held liable?
Both scenarios miss the deeper question.
Namely, what drives a woman to seek an abortion? Simply, it is male chauvinism at the deepest level. The vast majority of abortions are the result of a man getting a woman pregnant, then refusing responsibility to her, and to their child.
Roe v. Wade will not be overturned until the voting public embraces this reality. In the meantime, I propose a simple law:
A man who gets a woman pregnant is legally responsible for the well-being of both woman and child.
An honest debate needs to happen in grasping the possible ramifications of such a law, and in the process, both women and their unborn gain deserved esteem.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
In the March 25 post, I introduced a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also found at 2016libertyamendment.org.
We face a debate over how to respond to the immigration of Muslim populations which may include those bent on jihad. Do we minimize such a risk under the guise of blanket immigration for those fleeing jihad, on the one hand? Or do we seek to ban all Muslim immigrants, on the other?
Neither extreme will do, if we honor the biblical ethics and religious liberty which undergird the U.S. Constitution.
This proposed amendment merely ratifies what is already constitutional. But in today's social order where biblical and constitutional illiteracy abounds, it is appropriate a) to restate it clearly so as b) to also encourage honest public debate.
Religious, political and economic liberty applies to all people equally. But there a caveat. Namely, unless we affirm a two-way freedom of association and identity in these zones of liberty (freedom to join or leave), it is all hollow.
And thus, by definition, any group of persons who seeks to restrict these liberties, for themselves or others, rejects what it means to be an American.
Since Islam is historically a one-way religion that does not grant full and equal religious, political and economic liberty among Muslims and especially non-Muslims, this is a special problem.
How do we proceed? And especially, in view of those many Muslim Americans who cherish the liberties they have in this nation?
Friday, March 25, 2016
In this extended series, I want to engage in some patient thinking. I believe informed choice on any matter is not possible apart from a true definition of terms, and it is such definitions I pursue.
Also, up front, I ask all Muslim persons who are interested: Am I being honest in representing Islam on its own terms?
Islam is historically a one-way religion. Whether a person is born, converts or is forced into Islam, he or she is not permitted to leave.
Yet too, Muslim persons, like all of us, are wired for full human liberty, in religious, political and economic terms. This is at the root of the aborted "Arab Spring" (apart from some tentative success in Tunisia) -- a desire for freedom.
In the face of ISIS and other threats of Islamic jihad against the West, here is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that can give great protection. And similar language can be contextualized for other nations.
All citizens, visitors and other persons living in the United States, or its territories, must affirm the following:
“I affirm that all persons living within the jurisdictions of the United States of America have full religious, political and economic liberty under the rule of law.
“I thus affirm that all such persons are free to change their religious, political and/or economic affiliations as they see fit, free from any forms of coercion.”
I will look at this further in my next post.