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Thank you John for your discussion opener.

    A couple of observations:

a. The German scholar Nagel Tilman said:

"I deliberately refrain from rashly pointing out parallels or similarities between Islam and Christianity, because this tends to be misleading. For what do we learn from an analogy which is sometimes made-of Christ as the "logos" and the Koran as God's word? Statements of that kind only feign similarities between Islam and Christianity; the naive European reader is led to believe that Islam has a logos theory comparable to that of Christianity. That is utterly wrong!" in his  The History of Islamic Theology From Muhammad to the Present. ( Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2000), p. xi.

--his bottom line: read Islam on its own terms

b. In his blog of Wednesday, May 29, 2013, Mark Durie  points out that relativism is a huge problem in reading Islam correctly.   Given the CRCNA's frequent posture of trying to please all people all the time, it is not difficult to see that embracing a culture of relativism could blind one to Islam's true nature. For instance how many times have I heard "there is no compulsion in religion" from wooley-headed leaders who fail to realize that this was a Meccan Surah which has been abrogated by "kill the infidels."

c. I am grateful to the advance of the Gospel as outlined below by Wendy and Nancy.

d.  To understand Islam at its root, it must be understood that it has two triads that intertwine and are non-negotiable, Pew Forum notwithstanding. The first triad is the Qur'an/Sunnah--examples drawn from Muslim traditions/Sira--the life of Muhammad.  Like it or not this is the center of the Islamic solar system and it is non-negotiable. Sure many token Muslims orbit at a distance to Pluto from these, but invariably when push comes to shove they will be drawn to the center. That is why democratic countries need very firm laws to prevent creeping shariah. The second triad is composed of iman (faith)/islam (submisison) and ihsan (virtue.).  Again, to fill the pillars of these three, essentially one must say, "I love what Muhammad brought." However living a life of WWMD "What would Muhammad do?" one must be well aware of his legacy from the Sira, or from a book such as "The Life of Muhammad" by Ibn Ishaq--translated by Guillaume. Then you will see why non-Muslim governments might wake up and smell the roses.


Greetings all:

A lot of good comments going on.

     I have heard said that some organizations suffer from too little administration and the staff suffer from burnout and the 'clients' in the field waste huge amounts of time trying to get answers from untrained and unavailable staff. Meanwhile the organization can boast how little it spends on adminisration. On the other hand, there are organizations which hire all kinds of administrative staff and they create make-work projects to justify their jobs. The 'clients' in the field get burned out, not because they do not get answers, but because they have to produce answers for all kinds of people.  I have seen both sides of the coin. 

  Yet, it would be interesting to crunch some statistics with organizations to see what the administrative staff to 'clients' on the field actually is, where it has been, and where it is going. If the trajectory is to more and more admin staff, and less and less 'clients' one has to wonder if a problem is developing.

  As long as the admin staff does not need to have the entrepreneurial mindset of the 'clients' who now have to raise more and more of their support, essentially you will have an organization who is riding on the backs of the 'clients'.

  Any thoughts



Thank you Greg and Joe for your respective comments.

      A few observations. It would seem that you are making some kind of emotional appeal for the loneliness of Allah of Islam for his state of mind as an entre for Christian Theology. Would it not have been better to have asserted that Allah of Islam, is largely a deity created in the mind of Muhammad, and in effect is simply his super-ego, who stands in sharp contrast to the Trinity of the Bible? This is well documented by those who have studied the parallels of the Islam original life [Sira] of Muhammad, and the nature of Allah in Islam.      I fear that inadvertently you are acting as an apologist for Islam, here.                  Secondly, you assert that the Qur'an is a post-Christian document. This can be interpreted variously. Joe observed that there is a polemical anti-Christian edge to the Qur'an. This is accurate. Truth be told, Mark Durie, Arabic specialist, scholar of Islam clearly asserted at a lecture at Calvin College, that the Qur'an is a compilation of sources from Rabbinic Judaism with all of its tortured treatment of the Old Testament, as well as largely apocryphal Christian accounts along with Nestorian and other aberrational Christian doctrines. Thus to say that it is post-Christian, begs the question of "what kind of post-Christian?" 






Thank you for the clarification, Greg:

   I am reading a very interesting thesis about how the Gospel of Mark was very much an anti-imperial [=Rome] document. The author shows, however that Mark did not only "tear down" Roman imperial constructs, he actually proposed others in their place. His bottom line is that Rome had hijacked terms like 'savior', 'son of god', 'lord', 'the good news' 'the way' and so forth, and now it was up to the Gospel writers to show where the hijacking had taken place, and rightfully assigning those to  the actual and real Saviour, Son of God, Lord, with the Good News who is The Way. This was nothing less than subversive to the empire.

  In a fashion, anyone reading the Qur'an must realize that many concepts have been hijacked from Christianity and not just to take them at face value. Terms like prayer, sacrifice, worship, the messiah, faith, revelation are all found in the Qur'an, but they have been emptied of their origin Christian meanings and infused with Islamic ones. Just because there are parallel words, has nothing to do with parallel meanings. For instance, to see the word Messiah in the Qur'an does not say anything about the Biblical concept of Messiah. The Biblical definition will and must rule the day, and will determine if the Qur'anic definition contains any truth at all.  Parallel to what the Gospel writers did, we must identify this hijacking process for what it is--and that takes dedicated study--e.g. to understand just what is meant by the Qur'anic messiah---and recapture these concepts back to their rightful possessor, namely Jesus who is Lord of all and who unlike the Qur'anic messiah is truly The Prophet, The Priest, and The King.  [oops, I think a sermon just started]

Glad to see that your theology is being sharpened, and pray it will continue to be.


Re the various flood stories:

  Greetings all:

The book by Egyptologist John Currid called "Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament" along his audio series called 'Crass Plagarism' puts a lot of the other flood stories in perspective.

His bottom line?

   "In addition, and of utmost importance, is the truth that the biblical writers often employed polemical theology as an instrument to underscore the uniqueness of the Hebrew worldview in contrast to other ancient Near Eastern conceptions of the universe and how it operates. In this day and age, when a considerable number of scholars seek to diminish the originality and uniqueness of the Old Testament, this is no small thing."

   "If the biblical stories are true, one would be surprised not to find some references to these truths in extra-biblical literature. And indeed in ancient Near Eastern myth we do see some kernels of historical truth. However, pagan authors vulgarized or bastardized those truths— they distorted fact by dressing it up with polytheism, magic, violence, and paganism. Fact became myth. From this angle the common references would appear to support rather than deny the historicity of the biblical story."


Essential reading for this discussion, it seems.





Greetings Greg:

   It was with interest that I read the words about how we "conceptualize God." This could give the reader the impression that this discussion begins and ends with humans. Although I don't think that is what you are saying, it could be inferred. What is missing here, is how each of the deities of Islam and of Christianity have revealed themselves. The law of non-contradiction says that two things cannot be essentially different and the same at the same time.

Allah of Islam says, "I am the best of deceivers"  An Arabic speaker suggested that the root word m-k-r can be the action of a sighted man leading a blind man to fall into a hole, by means of deception. Lexically it means 'an act of deception aiming at causing evil' or 'desiring to do another a foul, an abominable, or an evil action, clandestinely or without his knowing whence it proceeded.' (Lane's Lexicon). This descripton can be found in Qur'an 3:54—And they (the unbelievers) planned to deceive, and Allah planned to deceive (the unbelievers), and Allah is the best of deceivers.; 7:99—Are they then safe from Allah's deception? No one feels safe from Allah's deception except those that shall perish.; 8:30—And (remember) when the unbelievers plotted deception against you (O Muhammad), to imprison you, or kill you, or expel you. They plotted deception, but Allah also plotted deception; and Allah is the best of deceivers.

 Also recall that Abu Bakr the first of the so-called 'rightly guided caliphs was said to have reported this:

“Although he had such a faith, which was too great to suffice all the inhabitants of the earth, he was afraid that his heart might go astray. So, he used to utter, while weeping: ‘Would that I have been a bitten tree!’ Whenever he was reminded of his position in Allah’s sight, he would say: ‘By Allah! I would not rest assured and feel safe from the deception of Allah (la amanu limakr Allah), even if I had one foot in paradise.’” (Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Successors of the Messenger, translated by Muhammad Mahdi al-Sharif [Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, Beirut Lebanon, 2005], Book One: Abu Bakr Has Come, p. 99; 


Now, we compare this picture of a caprioucious, deceiving, deity with that of the faithfulness, truthfulness and holiness of the God of Bible, and the law of contradiction will say, nice try, but all the talk of sameness is simply the Islamic view which says, "our god and your god are the same." Both cannot be true.

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19

"He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind." 1 Samuel 15:29

"Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth." Psalm 31:5

"Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’" John 14:6

"a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time," Titus 1:2

"Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged." Hebrews 6:17-18







Dear Greg:
I noticed a lengthy postlude to your question that included an aversion to debate, a stated desire to only focus on the positive, and a shift to the person of Jesus. All of these are laudable, but can avoid the question that you posed.
The Jews of Muhammad's time had to answer the question you posed. They had the Hebrew Testament in their hands. They looked at the Biblical qualifications for a prophet--i.e. one who did not only foretell but one who spoke on behalf of God--or forthtold. According to their criterion---not mine--as much as Muhammad had the persuasiveness of someone convinced that they had a divine commission, which most "prophets" including Joseph Smith of the Mormons had, they found that his claims were lacking according the following categories from Deuteronomy 18.
1. YHWH said if a prophet speaks "a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak" or speaks in the name of false gods, that person is a false prophet (v. 20).
[see ]
2. YHWH said "if the word does not come to pass or come true" that person is a false prophet. (v. 22).
for a longer discussion

The prophet according to Deuteronomy 18 was to speak on behalf of YHWH, and thus for Muhammad to pass the true prophet test, everything that YHWH has revealed in the Bible would be the test of truthfulness of the Qur'an. If the Qur'an is anywhere out of sync, then the true prophet test would fail according to this test.

Secondly, Christians who have the New Testament have a further criterion
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already (1 John 4:1-3 ESV).”

--Since it is clear that in the larger context of I John, a true prophet must and would confess that Jesus is Lord and the Son of God and is equal to God. Clearly this is not the case of the Qur'anic writings, the hadith, or the life of Muhammad.
For further reading see the material from the Arabic speaking Father Zacharia Botros

Was Muhammad a prophet?
I will respond with a question as you recommended: "Was Joseph Smith a prophet?" Regarding Smith, all we can say is that he was a self-appointed, charismatic leader who used religion to further his appeal and thus you might call him a prophet. According to Biblical definitions, however, Smith is clearly a false prophet..

Greetings Greg:

    I asked a couple of friends who are former Muslims what they thought of your post. Sorry to say, but comparisons to something that an ostrich does were made. This is painful, especially in light of the fact that you appear to want to diminish wrong ideas about Muslims, as people, and as neighbours.

    If I can level with you, this series of questions comes with very mixed messages. You pose questions, but actually they are only the springboard for making assertions--whether directly or not---that would make Islam seem closer to Christianity, more benign, and more acceptable as a so called "peaceful religion."  

   Might I suggest talking with Nabil Quereshi and David Wood in Dearborn? They have a much different view than you. Might I refer you to a Toronto Sun article of this last February which detailed the incursions of Sharia-thinking in Canadian universities? Might I refer to a recent news event where in Mombassa Muslims were instructed to "kill the kuffar."? Might I suggest that what is happening with Boko Haram in Nigeria is consistent with Islamic theology, and not a lunatic fringe as you seem to assert?

  Greg, I think you misunderstand Islam's structure. At the un-negotiable core are the Qur'an, the Sunnah or hadiths, and the Sira or life of Muhammad. All Muslims circle around this center of gravity, like it or not. The distance at which they circle is different in each case, which you have observed above. But that does not take away from the core. Careful distinctions here are vital, or you will send mixed messages that are confusing at best, and misleading at worst.

The demographic argument means nothing. Lenin asked for 12 dedicated men. Jesus had about the same. Both turned the world around them upside down with just a few people. If you take the example of CAIR in the USA, they are using the political system to their full advantage to make the US Sharia compliant. . You cannot say, "peace, peace when there is no peace"---witness the worldwide news, and the enormous challenge that the likes of Geert Wilders and others must exercise in order to speak truth. That said, neither must we be fear-mongerers, as I believe you would rightfully assert.

As to the program for Islam, it pictures itself as the solution to humanity's problems, as the superior religion, as the final religion, and that all others are living in ignorance. No wonder the USA Muslim Brotherhood documents reveal that its stated plan is to destroy Western civilization [say Judeo-Christian ethics and all] from within. For one to say, "peace, peace" with these facts in mind, might be a case of willful or unwitting ignorance or as stated above, an ostrich posture. 

I close with a challenge for you to engage with more former Muslims who are now in Christ. I think of the vital question raised by .   Abdu Murray in his new  book, "The Grand Central Question" (IVP, 2014) where he asks "Can the gospel satisfy the Muslim mind’s desire to apprehend God’s greatness while satisfying the Muslim heart’s longing to submit to it in awe?" (p. 170). Now that is a question!


Posted in: Jihad

Thank you Greg for this attempt to clarify the concept of jihad.

 Might I refer you and your readers to an article that cites multiple Islamic sources concerning jihad? It is entitled

The Politico-Religious Catalyst to the Early Islamic Conquests and is by Chester J. DeLagneau

I believe that your readers will agree that as always, Islam has a Mecca face which is the "let's get along we are all friends"--there is no compulsion in religion--and the Medina face which will inevitably be adhered to when Islam is in the majority---"convert, pay, leave or die".---and to which all jihad efforts, peaceful or violent are directed.


Posted in: Terror in Boston

Thank you for the article Greg. As much as I wholeheartedly agree that Gospel friendship to all people, especially the "strangers" in our midst is vital, we should not in the same breath diminish the ideology that drove these young men to do what they did. I write this a couple of days after the beheading of a British military man in broad daylight.  The ideology that drove him and the Boston bombers is the same. In this case, a political response is necessary beside the important pastoral response that you have proposed. Here is a link to an interview given by someone responding to the incident in Britain. His greatest frustration is with politicians with wooly brains and rose coloured glasses. I sure hope that the Salaam Project does not contribute to the same thinking as these politicians.


Greg:  As much as I appreciate your willingness to understand Islam from within and have immersed yourself into Yusuf Ali's translation, I fear you may be inadvertently Christianizing Islam.  Yusuf Ali's own notes to his translation debunk the idea that Jesus was the Word of God. Ali strongly stresses that Jesus was a word from Allah, and Ali suggests that this has nothing to do with the Logos doctrine as could easily be read from your comments. 

From his book:

39. While he was  standing in prayer in the chamber,   the angels called unto her:
"Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya, witnessing the truth of a Word from
Allah, and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a Prophet,  --of the (goodly! company
of the righteous."
301. Notice: "a word from Allah", not "the word of Allah", the epithet that
mystical Christianity uses for Jesus. As stated in Sura 3:59 below, Jesus
was created by a miracle, by Allah's word "Be", and he was.

Secondly: the Arabic speaking "....the spirit of the Holy is never called the Holy Spirit in Islam. This is the trick of the translators; they make the spirit of the Holy out to be the Holy Spirit. In Islam the spirit of the Holy is not holy, but he is a property of the Holy, a slave of Allah (Abd Allah), and at the disposal of Allah...."[i]  Many Muslim commentators, as well assert that the spirit which appeared to Muhammad was Gabriel and that he is equivalent to the Holy Spirit  (see 2:97 and 16:102). Finally, in his "Ten Most Common Questions asked by Christian Missionaries against Islam" Zakir Naik asserts that he sees nothing unique about the spirit being associated with 'Isa as Surahs 15:29; 32:9 talk about Allah breathing his spirit into human beings.

[i]               Abd al-Masih, "Who is the Holy Spirit in Islam?" (Accessed 2013/01/24)

                Masih shows that a knowledge of Arabic is necessary to avoid Christianizing the Qur'an. With regards to the phrase 'the spirit of the Holy.' "This means, in Islam, when the Holy Spirit is written, it is never a spirit who is holy in himself. The word holy is not an attribute or an adjective, it is a genitive which means the spirit is not holy in itself but the spirit is property of the holy one. Here you have to distinguish the grammar in Arabic. This means holy is Allah and the spirit is his slave. The spirit is never of divine origin in Islam, even if it is wrongly translated in the different Qur'anic translations to blind the Christians. When we speak about the Holy Spirit in Islam, keep in mind, it is never the Holy Spirit, it is the spirit of the Holy, which means a slave of Allah. Just as Jesus is a slave of Allah in Islam, never Holy or divine in himself, so the spirit is not Holy or divine but he is a property of Allah, the Holy."




Can anyone argue with the statement "God is doing a new thing?" It seems to me like it has echoes of the hyper-spiritual French prophets who castigated any of their opponents with the phrase, "If you criticize this, you will be quenching the Spirit." Funny how that has a way of disarming any kind of critical analysis.

   Sad that the voices of Bengali Christians who have seen the Insider experimenters from the West swarm their country with all their new techniques are not represented here. In their film, Half-Devil Half-Child they chide the Westerners for treating them like lab rats. The insider featured in that film tells in his own words that he is lost out in the woods. 

May we not be too quick to declare that God is doing a new thing, when in fact experimenters are doing so.                                  Shalom



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