Jesus – Son of Man, Son of God, Son of David

When it comes to messianic expectations at the time of Jesus, Christians can be unaware that other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.”

Two of these names are “Son of God” and “Son of Man.”

The “Son of Man” (bar nash, or bar nasha) expression is seen in Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mk. 2:10,28; 10:45; Matt. 13:37). But even in His earthly ministry, Jesus speaks of His authority on earth because the Son of Man has received his authority from God in heaven (as depicted in Dan. 7:9–14). For example, Jesus says to the scribes who question His presumption in declaring the paralyzed man’s sins forgiven: “… that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mk. 2:10). 1

Having received His authority from heaven, Jesus now exercises it in His ministry on earth. Even authoritative claims such as, “the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (Mk 2:28) would cause a Jewish hearer to remember that God is the only one who commanded his people to respect it (Exod. 20:8–11).2 While Son of Man is used to refer to the the suffering, death, and and resurrection of Jesus (Mk. 8:31;9:31;10:33), it also refers to eschatological judgment (Matt. 25:31-36; Mk.14:60-65).

Jesus spoke of this function in the following texts:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with him, then He will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations , and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father , inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’ Then He will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels….’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt. 25: 31-36).

You, who have persevered with me in my tribulations, when the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne will also sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Matt. 19: 28; Lk. 22: 28-30).

One of the most pertinent issues is Jesus’ use of Son of Man in the trial scene in Mark 14.

We DO NOT want to minimize why Jesus earned the charge of blasphemy here.

According to Jewish law, the claim to be the Messiah was not a criminal or capital offense. If this is true, why was Jesus accused of blasphemy? Jesus affirmed the chief priest’s question that He was not only the Messiah but also the Coming Son of Man who would judge the world and would sit at the right hand of God.

This was considered a claim to deity since the eschatological authority of judgment was for God alone. Hence, Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Daniel 7:13-14, and Psalm 110:1 to Himself. Let’s look at Daniel 7:13-14

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

In this text, the figure is given a rule over God’s kingdom. All people groups are seen as seen as serving and worshiping this figure. Yet, in some sense the figure is divine yet in human form who is a second divine figure who reigns alongside the Ancient of Days (the term for God in the text).

Son of God and Son of David

When it comes to the question as to whether Jesus is the Messiah, both Christians and Jewish people agree that the Messiah has to be a descendant of David. The area of disagreement is when Christians make the claim that Jesus is the divine, Son of God. What Christians tend to forget is that when Jewish people think of the Davidic King as the Son of God, it has very little to do with thinking the Son of God is the second person of the Trinity.

In other words, at the time of Jesus, “Son of God” didn’t necessarily denote divinity. Even though divine sonship appears in the Jewish Scriptures with regards to persons or people groups such as angels (Gen 6:2; Job 1:6; Dan 3:25), and Israel (Ex. 4:22-23; Hos 11;1; Mal. 2:10), the category that has special importance to the Son of God issue is the Davidic king. While God promised that Israel would have an earthly king (Gen. 17: 6; 49:6; Deut.17: 14-15), he also promised David that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever (2 Sam.7:12-17; 1 Chr.17:7-15). In other words, David’s line would eventually reach it’s climax in the birth of a person who would guarantee David’s dynasty, and throne forever.

In Psalm 2 which is a coronation hymn, (similar to 2 Kings 11:12) is the moment of the king’s crowning. God tells the person to whom He is speaking that He is turning over the dominion and the authority of the entire world to Him (v 8). While David did have conquest of all the nations at that time, (Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, Amalek, etc-1 Chron. 14:17; 18:11) in Psalm 2, one day God will subjugate all the nations to the rule of the Davidic throne.3

In Psalm 89, the Davidic King is elevated over the rivers and seas (v.24- 25) and is the most exalted ruler on earth (v. 27). He also will be the “firstborn” and enjoy the highest rank among all earthly kings. In Psalm 110, the Davidic King is invited to sit at God’s “right hand” (vs.1) and his called called “lord” (vs.1) and called a “priest” after the pattern of Melchizedek.

Keeping this in mind, let’s look at Romans 1:1-5

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In this text, Paul says through the resurrection, Jesus is installed (by God) as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). Paul is not saying Jesus is being appointed as The Son of God is a change in Jesus’ essence. Thus, Jesus is “designated” or “declared” as the Son of God, the Lord—the anti-type of the previous “sons” in the Old Testament (Adam, David, Israel).”4 Paul’s goes on to reference Jesus as the incarnate Son who dies and is raised from the dead (see Rom. 5:10; 8:3, 29, 32; Gal. 1:16; 4:4–6; Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 1:10).

To summarize, Jesus did consider Himself to be both the unique Son of God and the Son of Man. When we understand the cultural context of these names for the Messiah, it becomes evident that Jesus is both divine and human. Because of this, He is the only one who can provide both atonement for our sins as well as a covenantal relationship with God through his death and resurrection.

REMEMBER THIS WHEN YOUR MUSLIM FRIENDS TELL YOU JESUS NEVER CLAIM TO BE DIVINE, OR THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT NEVER PORTRAYS JESUS AS GOD.


1.Craig A Evans, From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation (Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2014), 49.

2.Ibid.

3. Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing The Promises, Expectations, And Coming of Israel’s King ( Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2012), 80.

4. C.W Morgan and R.A. Peterson, Theology in Community: The Deity of Christ(Wheaten: Crossway, 2011), 119.

Jesus and the historical Method – Part 4

This fourth article confronts an issue that many skeptics present concerning one’s knowledge of the historical Jesus: early testimony.

Early testimony is important because the closer a text is to the events that it describes, the more reliable the testimony. Longer spans of time allows for the introduction of legendary material (i.e Muhammad’s version of what happened to Jesus). Early testimony allows for correction among historical records and other eyewitnesses who can corroborate or deny the details presented by a text (Muhammad lived 600 years after Jesus – he was not an eye witness).

Some people are skeptical to the dating of some New Testament texts. Part of this skepticism stems from extreme liberal beliefs concerning the biblical texts originating from textual criticism gone wild. However, unbeknownst to many, such skepticism is far from unanimous in biblical scholarship. In fact, the scholarly world is coming to the understanding that the texts of the New Testament may be much earlier than previously anticipated. In fact, two radical scholars, John A. T. Robinson and W. F. Albright, have accepted an early dating for the New Testament writings.

Albright noted that “We can already say emphatically that there is no long any basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”[1]

This article will not address every early document that we have pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth. Rather, this article will examine some of the earliest testimonies we have pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth. We will begin with, perhaps, the most important testimony we possess.

Pre-New Testament Traditions

Throughout the New Testament, one finds early Christian documentations that predate the New Testament writings. These documentations date to the earliest times of the church.

Habermas notes that “It is crucially important that this information is very close to the actual events, and therefore cannot be dismissed as late material or as hearsay evidence. Critics not only admit this data, but were the first ones to recognize the early date.”[2]

Several of these early traditions are documented throughout the New Testament writings. It is important to note that these traditions date to the earliest church. For your consideration, I have attached a formulation (listing out key historical events), a hymn (a song relating theological information), and a confession (listing out a statement to be said in confessing a belief).

  1. Formulation in   1 Corinthians 15:3-8

In this formulation, perhaps one of the most important historical pre-NT traditions, Paul relates what he received when he first became a Christian and met with the apostles. This is what Paul records:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”[3]

In this formulation, one will note the emphasis placed upon Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and resurrection appearances. This tradition provides HUGE historical support for resurrection claim.

2. Hymn: Philippians 2:6-11

In his letter to the Church of Philippi, Paul recounts an early hymn that predates his writing. This hymn records several important Christian beliefs pertaining to Christ.

“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

Here again, one will find early testimony for the crucifixion of Christ and implicitly for the resurrection. Also of great importance is the early attribution of divinity that the church placed upon Jesus of Nazareth.

3. Confession:     Romans 10:9

To the Church of Rome, Paul provides an early confession that predates his writing. Paul notes that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Paul’s confession notes, again, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

These early testimonies are so important that NT historian Michael Licona noted that “Paul and the oral traditions embedded throughout the New Testament literature provide our most promising material.”[4] Therefore, these traditions which number far more than the three listed are of extreme value to the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.


So much information was compiled by Pastor Brian for the early testimony of Jesus that the article had to be broken into two sections. Next week, his examination of early testimony will continue as we take a look at the dating of the Gospels and the three earliest Epistles in the New Testament.

For my own writing’s sake, I just want to address one more thing  – although I am almost sure Pastor Brian will mention it. These early testimonies are EXTREMELY important when it comes to Muslim-Christian apologetics. There’s a myth surrounding the apostle Paul.

He is charged by the Muslims to have made Jesus into a God. The Gospels – according to Muslim apologists – never show Jesus as God (never mind Jesus saying He is the Son of Man of Daniel 7, or Jesus receiving worship by Thomas and not rebuking him, among other examples).

If someone is to blame, it has to be Paul. There’s an excellent debate here on who gives us the truth about Jesus – Paul or Muhammad?

But the datings of this early testimonies are extremely important. The book of Romans, for example, was written around A.D. 57. Phillipians was written around A.D. 62, and 1 Corinthians around A.D. 53-55. Why is this important? It is important because this means that the disciples of Jesus were alive when Paul wrote his letters to the different churches.

The Gospel of Matthew was written in the late 50s or early 60s. The Gospel of Mark – although not a disciple of Jesus, but a friend of Peter – was written in the late 50s. The Gospel of Luke was written by a physician (and Paul’s companion) sometime before A.D. 65. The Gospel of John was written between A.D. 70-100.

All the people associated with Jesus – the eyewitnesses – were still alive by the time Paul’s letters were in circulation. Galatians was written in A.D. 48. Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians were written around the same time of Phillipians – A.D. 62. Besides all this, the epistles mention the other apostles. Paul  knew Peter and James personally (Galatians 1).

If Paul was making all this stuff up, CERTAINLY the disciples would have said something. Don’t you think?

Jesus’ own brother James wrote his letter around A.D. 40-45 – way before Paul’s writings. And seriously, what did it take for James to accept that his half-brother was actually God in the flesh? James turned from being a skeptic to a leader in the church based on his meeting with the resurrected Christ.

My point is this: Paul did not make up the divinity of Jesus. Everybody who knew Jesus personally was still alive, and could have called Paul out on this, but they didn’t. Why? Because Paul was telling the truth even before the synoptic gospels were written.

Stay tuned for next week 🙂

 Bibliography for Complete Article

Albright, W. F. Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1955.

Habermas, Gary. The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996.

Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010.

Richardson, Kurt A. James. The New American Commentary. Volume 36. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.

Rydelnik, Michael, and Michael Vanlaningham, eds. The Moody Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Wallace, J. Warner. Cold-case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2013.

Endnotes

[1] W. F. Albright, Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1955), 136.

[2] Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996), 30.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[4] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove; Nottingham, UK: IVP Academic; Apollos, 2010), 275.

What ‘Muslim’ Actually Means

I know Muslims who say they submit to the law of the land. Other Muslims I know think Sharia Law will solve all the problems around the world.

Who knows?

Clare M. Lopez gives a good perspective on the subject of what the word Muslim actually means in her article


TO BE OR NOT TO BE:

WHAT ‘MUSLIM’ ACTUALLY MEANS

The entire debate about what it means to be “Muslim” and Shariah-compliant might be solved with a quick lesson in Arabic grammar.

This is because the word Muslim contains in its Arabic meaning its own definition.

You see, the word Muslim in Arabic has two parts: the Mu prefix, and the triliteral root that forms the word Islam. That root word, Islam, is a verbal noun that means submission. When an Mu prefix is attached to such a root in Arabic, the resulting noun means: a person who does the thing that root word denotes.

Therefore, with Islam being a verbal noun meaning submission, Muslim therefore means one who submits.

Submits to what? To Allah’s will – which is Shariah. Islamic Law.

Thus, anyone who presents as a Muslim is by definition Shariah-adherent, because that’s what the word itself actually means. If someone claims to be a Muslim, or converts to Islam, or was born into Islam, but does not apostatize or separate from it, then it is reasonable to conclude that such a person is Shariah-compliant—at a minimum, tacitly—unless and until told otherwise. And the converse must also be true: one who does not submit to Shariah, one who does not adhere to Shariah, does not meet the linguistic definition of Muslim.

As for Shariah, which is defined and understood by the Islamic scholars to be an all-encompassing, legal-military doctrinal system that features some religious beliefs, it is binding for Muslims, even as the word Muslim dictates. Although Shariah includes a multitude of obligations, among which many are innocuous (to believe in the oneness of Allah; to pray five times per day; to avoid eating pork, etc.), jihad as warfare to spread Islam is also a core, compelling obligation. All who are Muslim by birth or conversion are obligated to actively support the establishment of a universal governmental system (Caliphate/Imamate) based on Shariah and the replacement by means of jihad of any political system not governed by Shariah.

It is this commandment to Islamic supremacism that is most problematic for non-Muslims and responsible for much of the debate about what exactly “being Muslim” means. But if we realize that the answer lies in the etymology of the Arabic word Muslim itself, then it will be understood that unless and until that identity as “one who submits” is abjured by the individual in question, the person is accorded full credit for living a Shariah-adherent life.


Look… I know a woman who told me she has had four miscarriages, and that her husband of eighteen years died of a silent heart attack. She’s Muslim. She remarried two years later. I think I’m her friend.

Unless she has some Machiavellian plan to get me to like her in order to convert me to Islam, I think she trusts me. And she trusts me because I am the only person she can relate to in a white-only-environment. I guess Muslims want to be my friends after all 🙂

I’m not even Muslim, but I know her culture and her religion. She feels safe talking to me. I have shown my love for her by asking her about her life. I have shown her the love of Jesus by just LISTENING to her.

Is she Sharia-compliant? Maybe. You know what, though? The Lord Jesus is after her heart. And I am honored to be the instrument that He might use to bring her HOME, and sweep her over her heels with a LOVE that she has never known.

To Isa al-Masih [Jesus the Messiah] be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Love your Muslims

There have been several things pressing on my heart lately, but I think one of the most painful ones is the fact that a lot of people nowadays are afraid of Muslims. I am a follower of Jesus. I am NOT afraid of Muslims. I cannot give into fear. Allow me to elaborate.

If you happen to be reading this blog for the first time, I began writing in an attempt to speak my own mind into my own confusion. I enjoy writing down my thoughts, and I have logs for many things. I also wanted to document my spiritual journey.

While I began writing, I was  living in India, and I was best friends with a Muslim woman. I love that Muslim woman dearly, and I love her family. Not a single day passes without me thinking about them, and praying for them, but we are not in good terms with each other anymore.

I don’t believe Islam is true. There was a point last year, however, in which I could have probably become Muslim. For the first time in my life I was challenged to think outside my Westernized Christian bubble, and evaluate whether or not the Bible is reliable. Maybe it had been corrupted. I had to come face to face with questions, doubts and spiritual confusion. Did Jesus really died on the cross? Was He God incarnate or just a mere rasul (prophet)?

And all this confusion was easy to dismiss on a every day basis – at the beginning at least. I spent most of my time with my Muslim family. They became my family. Even tough there were Christians around, these Christians told me to stay away from the Muslims because they were gonna hurt my feelings. I was from the West. I did not know these people.

In the aftermath, they did hurt my feelings. But I hurt them, too. Unfortunately, we both hurt each other deeply.

So whenever I talk about Islam, Muslims, politics, and so on… I am very careful to remember that there are true stories and real people involved here. It is very easy to dismiss Muslims as our enemies, and to talk harshly about them when you don’t have a Muslim face that you can call your own – if that makes sense.

No. I am not an apologist for Islam. I believe Islam is a false religion. If Muhammad wanted to come up with a new religion of his own, then good for him. He would have not been the only one doing that. You also have Joseph Smith. But if he claimed to be a prophet in the line of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then Muhammad was a false prophet.

This freedom of speech cost me a friend.

I expressed my concerns about many practices allowed in Islam that I could not even begin to wrap my  mind around it. I called ISIS Islamic. My friends, of course, took offense. According to them, ISIS was not Islamic and Islam is a beautiful religion. So something “broke” between us. And that’s that.

There is a point to be done here. And it goes beyond my feelings, or even my friends’ feelings. I personally believe that the problem the West is facing is this: Nobody wants to confront the real issue.

If you confront the real issue, you are called a bigot. Most Westerns are ignorant about Islam.  We think that all people around the globe share our Judeo-Christian values (regardless of whether you are a Christian or not). And I also see ignorance in the Muslim world. I hope it is ignorance or denial because it would be so devastating if it is straight up lying.

Sunni Muslim, Raheel Raza published a video recently about the rise of Radical Islam. She is very boldly asking for an open, honest, fact-based conversation regarding these issues. She recognizes the fact that most acts of terrorism today involve Muslims in one way or another. So she calls for a discussion not about Islam, but about Radical Islam, and how it affects us all.

If you are following the news then I’m sure you’ve heard about the fact that the terrorist attack in San Bernardino could have been stopped. But the people who noticed suspicious activity never called the police because they didn’t want to be seen as racially profiling.

I hope you really watch the video first, because I’m writing about things that are said, and statistics that Mrs. Raza provides.

Mrs. Raza comments on the fact that she doesn’t need Ben Affleck – or any other celebrity – to defend her religion. I applaud that. It’s interesting to watch Ben Affleck saying that people who criticize Islam are racist. Islam is not a race. Not only that, tough, I seriously wonder if Ben has ever read a Quran in the first place.

In the other hand, Mrs. Raza does acknowledge an issue that not even the President of the United States can acknowledge: That ISIS is Islamic. She calls it Radical Islam. And she needs protection from the radicals in her own religion.

Now, she has a different perspective than that of my friends, of course. But the main issue here – in my own mind, anyway – is this: Why do Radical Muslims want to kill her?  Is it just because she is calling them radicals? Or is there anything that inherently goes against what these radicals are doing?

These are the circles presented in the video.

  1. Violent Jihadists wake up in the morning wanting to kill all non-Muslims. This is ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, etc. These are the people behind The Boston Marathon bombing, San Bernardino, Paris, and of course, 9/11. This amounts to the smallest circle.
  2. Islamists want many of the same things as the jihadists, but they won’t kill people. They use the political system for Islam to raise up to power. I think this is one of the issues happening in America right now. Mrs. Raza calls out CAIR as an organization that tries to politically and legally silence everyone who speaks against Radical Islam.
  3. Fundamentalists are the most disturbing circle, according to Mrs. Raza. These Muslims won’t kill people and won’t overthrow governments, but they do hold beliefs about human rights, women, and homosexuals (among others) that are deeply troubling.

Who are these fundamentalists?, Mrs. Raza asks. I personally think she opened a can of worms with that question.

She continues.

In 2013, a poll of Muslims in 39 countries revealed that 27% agree with the execution of apostates. That amounts to 237 million people. Do you think that is a radical belief? I personally know three people who have a story like this.  In the same poll, 39% of Muslims believe in honor killings – if your wife is an adulterer – which amounts to 345 million Muslims. That is A LOT of Muslims.

I want you to pay close attention to this, and I quote Mrs. Raza,


These numbers paint a picture about the Islamic world that is increasingly out of step with the modern world.


If this is true, if the Islamic world is out of step with the modern world, I am without words. Mrs. Raza talks about an Islam that will crumble at its foundation would the radicals Muslims think like she thinks.

Mrs. Raza basically is speaking against Allah and Muhammad. It may sound complicated – it was very confusing to me at the beginning. It was all the more confusing, of course, because I was studying Islam to see if I would join Islam. I was studying Islam very carefully. I learned about its claims, the application of those claims, its pillars, and so on.

The more I studied, the more I understood that the Quran is supposed to be the final, clearest revelation from God. Islam is a religion that has been perfected. Allah in the Quran is done with the Jews, and the Christians. Allah wants everybody to be Muslim. Muslims are the best of peoples. Of course, I believe with all my guts this is false, but these are the teachings of Islam. These are things that if you read the Quran, you can easily see for yourself.

Being a Muslim is not as simple as the Western Muslims claim to be. Yes, it is very easy, but it is not that simple. It is not only  a “Do good and hope for the best”- religion. Islam means submission.

Being a Muslim means that you submit to Allah. The more you dig, tough, the way in which you submit to Allah is by obeying his commands and Muhammad. Allah revealed the Quran (according to Muslims). The Quran then, it is NOT a revelation like Jews and Christians talk about the inspiration of the Bible.

For a Muslim, the Quran is the actual word from Allah. Allah dictated verbatim his words to Muhammad through an angel. So the Quran is NOT one more revelation, it is the final revelation. According to Islam, Jews and Christians corrupted everything and messed up everything, and so that’s why Allah had to send the Quran and Muhammad – to correct everything and everybody.

Now, before I continue, these allegations can be “easily” dealt with and proved false. I am passionate about the field of Muslim-Christian apologetics. But to understand ISIS, terrorism, and all the events happening around the world today, you need to understand that this is a war that began some four thousands years ago. It is mostly religious. Politics are thrown into it, of course, but at the core, religion is key.

Nobody seems to be addressing that – religion.

Our politicians do not want to talk about religion, and some presidential candidates are talking nonsense as if dropping bombs will stop this. More violence won’t solve the problem. I seriously wonder if sweet Ben Affleck understands this.

Mrs. Raza’s numbers reveal that 281 million Muslims in THE WESTERN WORLD approve of amputations, whippings, stonings, and corporal punishment. These Muslims believe Sharia Law should be the law of the land. Does that sound crazy to you? Does that sound radical?

Of course not all Muslims approve of this, and she makes that clear distinction. But I ask, of those who approve, why do they approve?


By silencing the debate on radical Islamist beliefs, we abandon our own core beliefs on truth, free speech and tolerance. And we abandon human rights in favor of political correcteness.

– Raheel Raza


Hats off to Mrs. Raza. I think she has started a much needed discussion.

I am a very curious person by nature. Maybe that’s why I got into college wanting to be a scientist. I was always fascinated by Chemistry, and atoms, and Biology and what not. I ask too many questions.

When I was in India and began asking my friends about Islam, they told me to read the Quran – they even bought me one big Yusuf Ali commentary. And when I began questioning about the Sunnah of Muhammad (the things he said and did), they were quick to say that I should not bother with that for now. They encouraged me to only read the Quran to see how beautiful Islam was.

I did read the Quran, and I didn’t think it was beautiful. I saw a god who claims to be the God of Abraham, but that god did not love like the God of Abraham. And I freaked out, of course, because now I was confused. Who was the God that I had submitted my life to? The God whom I had surrendered my life to was NOT the god of the Quran.

There are many technicalities about calling Him YHWH or Allah, but if you are a follower of Jesus, and have studied the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as I have, you can immediately recognize their personalities are very different. I saw similarities in both faiths, of course, but I got very curious at the differences. I had to learn about it. If I had been mislead into Christianity because of my upbringing -like my friends said- I needed to know.

I honestly wanted to follow after God. I was honestly confused. And after my friends told me the Bible was corrupted – which was very early into our relationship –  I got sucked into hundred of hours of studying and learning, both about Islam and Christianity. I had seen the light of Jesus, but I never actually asked for evidence. So I was seriously seeking for the truth. But the more I asked my friends, the more resistance I encountered. They never flipped, but at the same time, we never openly discussed things that troubled me deeply about Allah and Muhammad.

When we did talk about it, it was always superficial. She was so passionate about Islam that even when the evidence led me to Christianity, she got upset. She said I was never really looking for the truth. According to her, if I had, I would have become a Muslim. So our friendship ended on the basis of me attacking Islam in my blogs, and misleading people to Christianity.

If I didn’t respect Islam, I didn’t respect her.

This is why it is of utmost importance to know – as followers of Jesus – that Muslims are passionate people. They love their religion and they love Muhammad. They are very religious people. And even if they are not, it doesn’t matter. They love Muhammad. Deeply.

I am also very religious. Of course, Jesus is not a religion, but you know what I mean. In this life, my goal is to become Christ-like. I will never achieve it to perfection, but day by day, that’s my aim. In a similar fashion, a good devout Muslim wants to imitate Muhammad in all aspects – that’s their goal.

That is why, besides the Quran, Muslims are also guided in their religion by the Sunnah of  Muhammad. Islam, as a religious system, is based in these historical sources. Yes, the Quran is very important, but for a devout Muslim, Muhammad is as important. That is why the first pillar of Islam is the Shahada, the confession that There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet. You are not a Muslim if you don’t believe this.

Interestingly, tough, my friends sometimes teased me about becoming a Muslim. And even when I told them I could not say it from the heart, they said it didn’t really matter. I could become a Muslim. The conviction would come later. Who knows? This happens all the time. Muslims in the Middle East are very attractive. Women are beautiful and men are handsome. Then you hear them speaking Arabic. You wanna marry these people! Who cares if you believe it from the heart? You just become a Muslim!

Devout Muslims, tough, do pray what Muhammad prayed before eating. They end up the fasting in Ramadan as he did it. The enter the bathroom as he did it. When Muslims want to grow in their faith, they are encouraged to actually study these traditions. They are encouraged to read the Sunnah and Sirah of the Prophet (his life), and all this literature that for the most part is available online.

I highly recommend you read the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi. It will give you a glimpse into the deep love and reverence that Muslims have for their prophet. Lots of feelings and emotions. Lots of passion. Zeal.

For me, a question was of main importance. And it seems that it is precisely the question that everyone seems to avoid. What kind of life did Muhammad live? I was considering becoming a Muslim so I needed to know what kind of beautiful pattern of conduct I needed to imitate. My friends always described me a Muhammad that was very similar to Jesus, and they told me about beautiful traditions. But I was never surprised by this. It was great that their prophet helped the poor, or the widows or the orphans. But I followed Jesus. I knew beautiful. I knew peaceful.

I hope you are following my train of thought.

Being curious as I am, I found another video by Mrs. Raheel Raza. She is interviewed about her opinion on what exactly drives radical Islam. She says that the short answer is an ideology that the radicals are using to hijack Islam. According to her, the radicals are turning Islam into a political ideology, and brainwashing people.

Hijacking means taking something that is not rightfully yours, and make it your own. Simple example, Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven“.

Hijacking Christianity would be killing people in the name of Jesus, as this contradicts exactly what Jesus said and what Jesus did. A sad example of this are the Crusades, and events that lead to the Holocaust. I am aware of my unfortunate Church history.

But when Mrs. Raza talks about radical Muslims hijacking Islam – making it into an ideology -who am I supposed to believe? What Muslim is telling me the truth? The radical Muslims who follow Muhammad to the iota – living their lives as he lived his life – or the moderate Muslims who tell me the violence Muhammad exercised was only for a period of time?

According to Islam’s most trusted traditions – Bukhari and Muslim – Muhammad died cursing the Jews and the Christians. Only for a period of time? Muhammad hated their guts until the moment he died. I won’t link you to anything. You can Google it very easily. This is the era of information – thank God.

In the video, Mrs. Raza assures her interviewer that the Quran doesn’t say anything about killing people.

Are we reading the same Quran, Mrs. Raza?

I don’t see compassion towards the People of the Book. I only see how Muslims are the best of peoples. And how Jews and Christians are the worst of creatures because we don’t follow Islam. Google it, seriously. And read a Quran.

You see, this is what I don’t understand. Is Mrs. Raza purposely lying or she just doesn’t know?

Radical Muslims are living the Islam Muhammad lived. Mrs. Raza talks about abandoning core values of free speech.  Free speech? There was no free speech in Muhammad’s time, Mrs. Raza! Muhammad had people murdered because they insulted him. Read about Asma.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mrs. Raza doesn’t know. Many Muslims don’t know. She talks about a political ideology that is like a cancer. Yes, it is like a cancer. The Islam Muhammad lived was a spiritual, political and militant cancer.

So yes. Radical Muslims are killing people in the name of Mrs. Raza’s religion. Why? They do it because Muhammad said that he had been commanded by Allah to fight all the people until everybody testified that There was no God but Allah and that Muhammad was his prophet.

Does this sound like the Shahada? It is the Shahada!

Putting it altogether, Islam teaches that the Quran is the final revelation of God. Islam is the perfect religion. The Quran is a revelation from God himself to all people for all times. The radicals want everybody to be Muslim because that is what Muhammad was commanded to do. Allah only loves good Muslims.

And I am not defending the radicals. I am just trying to understand what drives their ideology. They are not really hijacking anything. They are just following the Islam that Muhammad left the world with. And that’s the problem right there – the sources are not consistent.

Use ONLY some reliable sources and you can make Muhammad into a saint. Islam is beautiful.

Use ONLY some reliable sources – as reliable as the first ones – and you get ISIS.

You see the reason why I think that closing the borders to Muslims is nonsensical? I think it is too late for that. I agree with increasing security, of course.  But banning all Muslims – that’s too much. Everywhere I look there is a Muslim somewhere. And God forbid the moderate Muslims decide to take some authentic haddiths literally, because if they do, all of us are dead.

I am not being pessimistic. I think I am grounded in reality. And that is the problem. The elephant in the room that nobody seems to address is the religion itself. 

Mrs. Raza. is also asked if there is a place in the Islamic religion  where it says that Muslims should partake in these terrorist acts. She never replies with an absolute NO. She replies that not in her understanding of the Quran. But what about the sound traditions in which Muhammad says he had been made victorious with terror?

Unfortunately, the radical Muslims can always point theologically and historically to their own sources to kill civilians, to kill Jews, to kill children, to kill homosexuals, to kill apostates, to kill people who mock Muhammad.

So when a Muslim tells me that Islam is beautiful, I believe that. You can make Islam be that way. But then at what point are you – as a Muslim – thinking that you know better than Allah? If the Quran is the last, clearest revelation from Allah, and you are commanded to obey Muhammad, how can you pick and choose what you want to follow?

This is something that also applies to Christians, by the way. We pick and choose all the time. And when we do, we are in rebellion – we are hypocrites. Jesus speaks against that. The Quran also speaks against hypocrite Muslims, by the way.

So there have been articles about Islam needing a reform. I’ve been following them. You can read the article here. And you can read the actual Reformation Document here. I admire these people as a non-Muslim. But in my non-Muslim eyes, after the knowledge I have acquired – which is not extensive – I see this declaration, and I cannot see anything other than these Muslims contradicting very specific statements in the Quran and the Sunnah.

I am not saying these Muslims are not real Muslims. But when they demand rights and a reform that flies in the face of Allah’s specific commands in the Quran, and some of the things Muhammad did and say about women, criticism, human rights, inheritance, anti-Semitism, apostasy, among others… It all sounds beautiful to the Western world. But to the radicals it sounds like blasphemy. And that’s why they want to kill them – Mrs. Raza included.  These Muslims have been Westernized.  These Muslims want values that the Judeo-Christian West offers, but they are not the values of the Islam of Muhammad.

If people are serious about a religious reform, one thinks they would like to maintain some connection to their own religious traditions as a basis for that reform. That is actually what happened historically with the Protestant Movement and the Catholic Church. The Reformers went back to the original message that Christ preached. We went back to the Bible alone. We broke away from man-made-tradition, and the selling of indulgences, and what not. .

But the Muslim Reform Movement seems more interested in establishing a connection with the non-Muslim Western world as the basis for their reform. And this is the sad reason why there seems to be little, if any, support coming from the greater Muslim-American community for this small group of aspiring reformers.  It is only attention from the non-Muslim world that will sustain the Muslim Reform Movement. Sadly.

Going back to Mrs. Raza, and her question about the fundamentalists – who are the most disturbing – I read an excellent article by  Hussein Aboubakr.

Hussein was told in his childhood that every day that passes on the Islamic nation without a caliphate is a sin. That the failures and miseries of the Muslim world started the moment they gave up conquests and wars against the infidels. That their prosperity depends on conquering new lands, converting new believers, looting new resources and enslaving more women. He was taught that a Jew is essentially a demon in flesh and that it was their destiny as good Muslims to kill them all.

Where is this anti-Semitism coming from? Read the Quran, people!

Hussein talks about many parts of the Muslim world that are intolerant towards free speech, criticism and reform. Human rights are not observed in most of the Muslim world; women’s rights, homosexual rights, minority rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of belief… Execution of apostates, women who are not allowed to drive, sexual segregation, persecution of liberals and journalists, homosexual imprisonment, and persecution of non-Muslim minorities are all common themes almost in all Muslim countries. Many Muslim countries use public beheadings, hangings, lashings, stonings and chopping of limbs  as an accepted form of punishment.

This is not news for us, sadly. Hussein makes a point, tough. He says that while the vast majority of Muslims may frown upon ISIS and Al Qaeda and may be horrified by their acts, they will still approve of many human rights abuses. He is talking against the same things Mrs. Raza is speaking against.

He says the Muslim world is dominated by bad ideas and bad beliefs. He says the majority of Muslims have no principle objections to application of extreme violence, subjection of women and minorities, prosecuting if not killing homosexuals and confiscating personal freedoms.

And I ask again, and again… Where do the bad ideas and the bad beliefs come from? Why are people in positions of authority like Mrs. Raza so eager to deny or even hide that both – the great things in the Muslim world and the bad things in the Muslim world – all come from the same place?

Mrs. Raza says she is not a leader, but she is. She HAS a voice. People listen to her. Hey, nobody is interviewing me…

Do you see now how this is almost impossible to talk about? Everybody attacks the radicals, everybody says there is a problem, and that we need an honest, open discussion. But the moment you start asking questions and confronting the real issue all hell breaks loose. And people get hurt.

I lost a friend because she felt I should keep my mouth shut. I couldn’t. I loved her. My love for her demanded me to speak out. I cried asking her to stop feeling guilty over not being able to fast during Ramadan. I had feelings for these Muslims!


We label as moderate Muslims everyone who is not trying to kill us regardless of that person’s actual views. Moderate Muslims rush to warn about Islamophobia and unjust western prejudice against Muslims. Almost in every single occasion that Islamic terrorism is mentioned, Muslims’ first action is to defend their faith. They assert over and over how peaceful and beautiful Islam is. They are obsessed with their religion and care about it more than they care about stopping murder in its name. It should be clear that this kind of obsession is just another form of fundamentalism.

-Hussein Aboubakr


Remember that according to Mrs. Raza, the most disturbing circle was the fundamentalists. They won’t kill anybody, but they agree with the punishments, and in some ways, they justify them. I am afraid to say that I think the fundamentalists are for the most part the sweet, moderate Muslims.

They might agree out of fear, or out of conviction, but they do – for the most part – have radical ideas. They just don’t act on them. I was confronted face to face with hate for Jews and Christians because we are greedy for oil. I was told no Muslim would ever want to be my friend because I was gonna let them down. The conspiracy theories about 9/11 and the hate for the West and Israel are very real. And of course, Sharia Law is the answer for all the problems you see around the world – or at least in Pakistan.

And the funny thing is I never expected these things. I didn’t know any better. I had never been friends with any Muslim whatsoever. But Muslims are passionate people. I love her dearly. I don’t hate her. She is so zealous for Allah. Oh, my God, what I wouldn’t give for Christians to be as zealous for Jesus as she is for Muhammad… And I’m sure she loves me. I spent most of my time with them. I ran to their house whenever they needed me. I made life with them. My children miss her children, and they talk about them on a regular basis.

As a follower of Jesus, unless you don’t love these people for real, unless you don’t understand their feelings, their culture, and their way of thinking… unless you don’t put yourself out there to serve them and love them genuinely, there is little to talk about this world conflict that we see in the news. Muslims are in the news all the time, but they also just want to be left alone and live their lives. If you want to make a difference in their lives, you have to learn how to be able to relate to them.

Love them. Get to know them. And also understand this, the Christian love is not to be a silent, cushy-feeling. There is a minister who works with Muslims, and he says that Muslims on a regular basis are surprised at how confident he is. Muslims expect him to be weak, and silent, and not being able to defend his faith. These are ideas that Muslims honestly hold about Christians. Jesus was meek, but make no mistake. Meekness is not weakness. Jesus confronted people. Paul confronted people. Read the New Testament.

If you really care about a person, you eventually would like to share your faith, wouldn’t you? I would. And maybe this is just me, because this is my passion. You have to be prepared to defend your faith, tough. Always. But you also have to come to terms with the fact that opposition will come as a natural result of you preaching Jesus – specially to a Muslim. The Gospel offends Muslims. The Gospel is offensive by its own nature.

In a more practical way, what does it look like to love Muslims? I seriously believe that you do need to understand what they believe, and why they believe it.  You need to be willing to approach them in the first place. No fear of Muslims whatsoever. I highly doubt each one of them is carrying a bomb under their shirts, you know? And get to interact with them based on where they are coming from. Ask questions. Not every Muslim is the same – at all.

I was buying some things the other day, and a sweet young girl was helping me. She looked Middle-Eastern, you know. This is not racist, okay? People begin speaking Spanish to me when they see me at the stores. I look Hispanic. I am Hispanic – so what? So she was wearing a necklace with some words on it, and I asked her about it. She said it was in another language.

Then I asked directly, “Are you Muslim?”. And she looked so relieved, like a weight lifted up, and she began telling me how she had no idea what the prayer said. Her mom makes her wear it for protection. I told her it might well be a short Surah (Chapter), and she looked at me like I was this crazy person. She said she had no idea about the Arabic language, or about what the book said.  And then,  she also told me how she doesn’t like covering her head. She is an American girl. Born and raised in America by Pakistani parents.

She was beautiful. She could have been my younger sister. She just wants to work and go to college perhaps… what do I know? I am telling you, if you are a follower of Christ, you have nothing to fear. Reach out to them.

And be prepared. People are often afraid of what they do not know. You do have to know about Islam, I believe. Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. At the same time, recognize that Muslims are like sheep without a shepherd. Be compassionate. And learn to defend your faith historically.

Here is where Apologetics plays a role. Of course, you can always love them and serve them. It is not your job to convince them of anything – that’s the Spirit of God’s job. But if they are zealous, they are gonna try to convert you before you try to convert them.

The world of Muslim-Christian apologetics is amazing. I love it. I wish I had more people around me to talk about it. My husband is sick of it – pretty much. I love building a case for the historical Jesus, and his death and Resurrection, and studying the claims about Islam. It is fascinating – to me anyways – the fact that Textual Criticism is a science that assures us of the reliability of Scriptures. The arguments can go back and forth forever, but at the end, it all points to making a personal decision based on the evidence you have.

Muslims, tough, for the most part, are lovely people. No kidding. I feel more comfortable now approaching a Muslim at the store, and having a conversation with them, than I am with an agnostic or even and atheist. Muslims have offered to cook for me, and they are nice to my children. And you know what? I miss my friend, but her words resonate constantly in my mind…

If only these people knew who I am, they wold probably not want to be my friends, because I am going to let them down. 

And I have to make a choice. Every day. I have to decide whom to listen to. Am I gonna listen to my friend, or am I gonna listen to the Ex-Muslims who tell me I should stop calling her my friend? They told me she was never my friend. She spotted me as a weak Christian and saw an opportunity to convert me. There are many blessings from Allah when you convert people, you know… or so they say.

But I choose not to listen to anybody but to Jesus. And He loves her. He died for her. He died for me, and for all the Muslims that I see around in my neighborhood. So I choose to have the mind of Christ, and I approach them anyway. Of course, I learned my lesson. I will keep it at chicken tandori, and masala chai for as long as I can 🙂

Also, there are great rewards to all these experiences. My children see me loving people. My four year-old is so funny. She asked me the other day at church if the pastor was an ex-Muslim (he had a long beard). And she has more theology in her little mind that what I had at age 30. She praises Jesus and calls Him YHWH, and on a regular basis, tells me I should stop praying for my Muslim friend.


Mommy, you hurt her. She hurt you. She will always be a Muslim. She cannot be a follower of Jesus because Momamad [Muhammad] told her. I just want to play with Muslims.


And I knew she was referring to my friend’s son. They were best friends at school. And my heart sank. But you know what? I actually ended up talking to my daughter about how God loves answering even the most impossible prayers. So, who knows? Maybe one day, she will leave Islam, Insha’Allah.

These interactions help me to teach my children about apologetics, ground them in the Christian faith, and my Savior Jesus. I am showing them what it looks like to follow Him will they choose to trust Him as their own Lord and Savior one day. These experiences are preparing them to go into the world ready to love people as Jesus loves people.

If you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Seriously, the worst thing ISIS can do to you or to me is to kill your physical body, but your soul is secure. And I know not everybody feels as I do, but I only want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be with Muslims, you know?

Just love people, and thank God for His gift of Salvation in Christ. Specially during this season.

Merry CHRISTmas! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digitalized Manuscripts

The New Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Since they began their work in 2002, a core part of their mission has been to make it possible to view and study New Testament manuscripts from anywhere in the world. They have worked toward this by traveling around the globe and capturing beautiful digital images of some of the most important extant manuscripts.

Today, they are taking another step forward by making it easier than ever for us to access manuscripts.

They’re launching the new CSNTM.org.

Here are some of the features that we can expect to find now and in the coming weeks:

  • New Manuscripts – They will be adding 10-20 new manuscripts to their website weekly for the next few months. These will be from the National Library of Greece in Athens (their ongoing project for 2015–16), as well as previously unposted images from hundreds of manuscripts and rare books in their collection.
  • New Look – They have revamped their entire website to make it both simpler and richer in content. They have new content, which narrates how they go about digitizing and archiving manuscripts. They also explain what goes into their extensive training program that enables their teams to work quickly while capturing high-quality images.
  • New Viewing Environment – The website is equipped with a new viewer, which makes it easier than ever to navigate manuscripts and view their stunning new images.
  • New Usability – Their new site is also designed to work perfectly with mobile devices and tablets, enabling us to view manuscripts or to access other resources quickly, whenever we need them.
  • New Search Features – The website is now outfitted with an extensive search functionality. Searches can be performed at the manuscript level, allowing us to find manuscripts that meet certain criteria (e.g., date, contents, material, location). They can also be performed at the image level, which allows us to find specific features within a manuscript. For instance, they now have a Jump to Book option that allows us to find the beginning of each book that a manuscript contains. Also, one can search tagged manuscripts for verse references. Every place, for example, in which John 1.1 is tagged will automatically populate when the verse is searched.
  • New Search Database – The search database holds tags for each manuscript and individual image. As their team continues tagging their growing collection, the search function will become more comprehensive each week. But the task is daunting. They want our help for the tagging!

If interested, you can reach them via their contact page:

http://www.csntm.org/

Please share their new site with colleagues and friends, so more and more people can continue to utilize CSNTM’s library, which is free for all and free for all time. They sincerely hope that you enjoy using the site. It represents a giant leap forward in accomplishing their mission: to bring ancient New Testament manuscripts to a modern world.


SO WHAT?

Look, I don’t read Greek.  It gives me confidence, however,  to know that scholars – Christian and non-Christians – who actually do read and do understand the Greek language have dedicated their whole lives to make sure that the thousands of manuscripts we have in our possession say pretty much the same thing.

It gives me confidence to know that the deity of Christ was NOT invented at the Council of Nicea, or that  – other than errors in spelling – the cardinal doctrines of Christianity have always been the same. Paul did not make them up. Nobody corrupted the manuscripts. We can prove it – because we kept them all 🙂

You might like to watch an interview with Daniel Wallace, who is the Executive Director for the NCSNTM. He speaks his mind into the New Testament (NT) tradition. The 5, 839 Greek NT manuscripts, plus the up to 20, 000 NT manuscripts in other ancient languages, plus the over a million NT quotations from the early Church Fathers definitely DO NOT help the Muslim conspiracy theory of Bible Corruption. We can zero in very, very well what the original text said. For the interview click here.

And since David Wood is one of my heroes, we also have his interview with Dr. Michael Licona about the Historical Jesus vs. the Muslim Jesus. To watch that interview, click here.

And last, but not least, an interview with Gary Habermas. During the last ten years, Dr. Habermas has dedicated all his efforts to update his bibliography on the major scholarly research on Resurrection (from 1975 to the present) in French, German and English – if you don’t mind. You can see the interview here.

Hope this helps 🙂

Muslim-Christian Dialogue

Ever since I began learning about Islam, Judaism, and more about Christianity, I have really enjoyed watching debates. There’s something thrilling – for me, anyway- about cheering for your faith, while at the same time, being ready to take everything that is being said against your faith.

I think that has been a challenge for me. I had never heard such things against the reliability of the New Testament or whether Jesus never really died. It never crossed my mind that the apostle Paul might have invented Christianity or that Jesus was only a man – but not God Himself. Did I even understand The Trinity?

The easiest thing for me to do would have been to shut my eyes, cover my ears, and pretend to live in la-la-land where Christianity is perfect. I could have ignored all those debates, but I figured that if Christianity was true, then it would have to stand on its own. That’s why I decided to study other claims, and give those claims a chance to stand on their own.

The information you learn from watching a single debate is unbelievable. You come to appreciate the people debating, and you also grow to respect them. The more debates you watch, the more you know the arguments for and against your faith. In Muslim-Christian apologetics it almost seems that the arguments don’t change with time. But generations do change. I did not know about these things, and I find them amazing. My mind works like that anyway. I need to read, and research and go deep – very deep – into many things at a time. That’s why I am passionate about learning.

I never did that with Christianity. I never thought it through. I just took it in faith, and I think that was awesome!

But now, to think that the more I learn, and the more I read, and the more debates I watch, the more confident I become that I have placed my faith in the right place… it just doesn’t get better than that. The object of my faith is not the evidence. But the evidence confirms my choice over and over and over again.

That being said, there were several LIVE debates last week, and the world came to an end in my household. I just wanted to share them with you. I seriously think that if you see them all, you might feel your brain exploding, but you will learn A LOT of information. That’s one key to apologetics I believe: Keep learning 🙂


My dad used to tell me, ‘Son, if you are gonna walk on thin ice, you might as well dance’. With this Wood family wisdom in mind, I say to my friend Shabir, ‘Let’s dance’.

David Wood


David Wood vs Shabir Ally

  1. Is Jesus the Son of God?
  2. Was  Jesus a prophet of Islam?
  3. Does Paul give us the truth about Jesus?
  4. Does Mohammad give us the truth about Jesus?
  5. Is the Quran a book of peace?
  6. Is the Bible a book of peace?

Judah – Part 4

So, I chose Christ. Now what?

How do I know that the Holy Spirit is actually indwelling me? Eight years ago – when I first believed – I didn’t feel anything. And I certainly do not feel anything right now. How can I be sure The Spirit of God is in ME?

I wish I had the time to go in full detail about what I’ve been reading lately. Two things have struck me the most.

First, in order to be saved, you must believe in the Lord Jesus. Even a mustard-seed-size faith can take you a long way. Second, all you have to do is A.S.K. Ask, and it will be given. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. God is actually waiting for you to ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

That’s it.

You do not have to put yourself together to come to God. You do not have to clean up your mess in order for God to take you in. We have the idea that we have to get ourselves all cleaned up. But actually, we can ask our Father in Heaven to do it.

We can be bold enough to tell God, “YOU CLEAN ME”


When Faith intertwines life


I was reading the other day that one of the major evidences of the Holy Spirit working in your life is the pure fact that you actually feel broken about your own sin.

Worldly sorrow brings death. You can cry because things do not go the way you wanted them to go. That’s disappointment. But thorough the eyes of Scripture, that kind of sorrow only brings death to your life. There is, however, a kind of sorrow that is godly. Godly sorrow brings repentance, and that repentance brings salvation.

Repentance brings blessing. The issue here is not mourning over human circumstances. The real issue is mourning over your own sin. This brings to my mind the Sermon of the Mount, in which Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”.

This means that when you are confronted with the reality of your own sin, you know that you are spiritually bankrupt. You look at your life and find nothing of value, nothing of worth, nothing to commend yourself to God. None of the things you do will give you the righteousness that God demands from you.

You can only beg for salvation.


‘Why are you crying!? I didn’t do anything to you’, I said.

My daughter came out from the corner where she was hiding. She told me, ‘I am crying because you scared me, Mommy’


You might think I have all the time in the world to write long posts. I do have time, but I also have a family. Most of you know my name, but many of you have never seen my face. I am a real person, with real problems. Every morning I argue with my two year-old because he refuses to go to the bathroom. I literally have to ask him for more than twenty minutes to go and pee, but he never goes.

I am one of those “weird” moms who believes in the power of spanking. Words are sweet and nice, but sometimes, my children really need a spat on their bottoms. I don’t physically abuse my children. We have been consistent on how the spanking is to be administered. We explain what rule was broken, and we spank. The child owns his action, and then apologizes.  We forgive the child, we pray with the child, and we let go. Clean slate.

All the time? What a drag… No, not all the time. But in the years we have been parenting, we have done it vey consistently. But that morning, I didn’t even spank my son for his willful – in my face – disobedience. You might think he is only two years old, but he knows right from wrong. I know he knows. I can see it in his behavior and in his choices. The other day, he was able to control himself and did not hit the neighbor’s little girl. Sometimes, he even thinks he is smarter than me.  He pretends to hide in order to kick his sister – as if I don’t have a clue of what’s going on.

So that morning, I didn’t even spank him. I just yelled at him. After an hour of trying to be the most patient mother in the world, I yelled. I know exactly why I scared my daughter. I know that I am able to focus all the energy from my most inner places, and get it out through my mouth. I knew why I had scared her.

I knew I had done something wrong, but after all, we were in a hurry. My son always has to fight this battle with me exactly when it is time for us to get his sister to school. I apologized, and I cried, but I had to keep it together. We were late for school. We got in the car, and on the way to school, I kept on holding back my tears. Even my driver asked me if everything was okay. I just looked at him and then I looked at my son. My driver knew what that meant. He knows my son.

When we came back from school, my son was watching some YouTube videos. It seems that watching shows and playing with my cellphone is all my children have been doing for the last three months. I had to write my journey down.

I wept on my bed for twenty minutes. My son came and gave me a hug. He told me not to cry, and he also asked me to put on some trains going fast for him on the computer. My last post was by far the longest one. This post will top it off. Can you picture my over-thinking brain during those weeping twenty long minutes?

Those twenty minutes, in short, summarize my year-long journey through Judaism, Islam and Christianity.


Welcome to my brain


As I laid down on my bed, I could only hear a condemning voice telling me I was a hypocrite. Here I was trying to proclaim a Good God, but that God was not even able to help me control myself. I was a hypocrite for telling my children they could have self-control, but all I did was yelling at them. I wasn’t leading them by example. I was the worst mother because I had probably marked my daughter’s life forever. She was afraid of me. A wrong choice of mine had had a bad effect on her.

I knew I had sinned against God, but also against my daughter. Specially against my first born. The day she was born, I promised her that I would teach her how to love God and how to honor God. I am her only God-figure when her dad is not around. Is this the image of God I want her to grow up with? A God who says He is patient and loving as long as you do what He wants you to do? I felt ashamed of my choices.

I couldn’t even say any words. I was weeping. Is this what praying in the Spirit meant? Is this what The New Testament means when it says the Spirit of God can pray for you when you have no idea what to pray for?  Was the Holy Spirit interceding for me? I was groaning ἀλάλητος words. Words that cannot be expressed.


But after those words somehow made it to Heaven, I was able to purposely say, “God, save me. I cannot save myself. YOU save ME”. 


And then God brought to my mind all the knowledge I have recollected for the last months. I had made my daughter cry. I had broken many commands. I remembered the story of that Gentile who wanted to become Jewish. A sage taught him all the Torah under two minutes. The sage said, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. The rest is commentary, now go and study”. That sounded familiar.

I was not kind. I was not gentle. I was not patient. I was not self-controlled. I was not compassionate towards her. I am focusing on my daughter. But what about my son? I have been so inconsiderate towards him lately. Granted, he can go to the bathroom, and he can wash his hands on his own. But lately, I have even been refusing to wash his hands.

I have argued with him – for I don’t know how long – about the fact that he has to wash his hands on his own. And you know what he has been telling me lately? He looks at my face, points his finger at me, and tells me, “YOU CLEAN ME”.


Check mate, indeed, Charley Harary. I get the significance of the Jewish Yom Kippur. On that Day of Atonement, God cleans His people from all their sins. GOD cleans YOU.


So what about all the other sins in my life? These are only against my daughter and my son. What about sins committed against God? Unbelief. Lack of interest on reading His Word. Believing in Him, but not believing HIM. And what about my husband? Disrespect overshadows all the other sins I have committed against him. I take him for granted, and I am not thankful for the things he does for us as a family. He called me out on those issues this evening. And he is right.

What about my parents? My neighbors? My friends?

You know, my daughter’s latest hobby is applying my nail polish. She thinks I look beautiful.  My fingers, tough, are always coated with it. She applies my lipstick, too. I look like a clown – but she thinks I look beautiful. Are you really telling me that God will not accept my prayer because I am wearing nail polish? Are you seriously implying that God will not listen because I am wearing make up?


‘Hold on to your weeping’, God says. ‘Keep yourself together, and go do your wudu, first. Take off your nail polish. Wash your face. It is a sin if you offer prayer like that. I cannot receive your prayer when you are a mess. Your salah is not going to count. And please learn to talk to me in Arabic when you address me five times a day. But don’t feel bad, Woman, most native Arab-speakers are struggling to learn Quran Arabic. It is not like you are in any disadvantage to them whatsoever. Keep up the good work, Sweetheart,  and strive hard‘.


I honor my Muslims. I honor all the Muslims that I don’t know yet. These are not mocking words. These are pure, honest thoughts that were running through my mind, while countless tears were running through my face. I respect your beliefs, my Muslims, but I made my precious daughter cry. If you would have seen her sweet little face – all scared.

How many good deeds will pay for this wrong? How many days of fasting are enough? How many meals should I give the poor for such a thing like this? Ten, twenty, thirty… Multiply that for every single sin I have ever committed in my life. I chose an abortion at age eighteen. I killed a baby. I chose to have sex with random people from a very young age. And those are only sins that people can see. What about my lust, my jealousy, my anger, my pride, my selfishness…

Well… God forgives. He just forgives. 

God is the root of all the things that we consider good. Look at some of the names of Allah. As-Sabur (The Patient One), Al-‘Afuww (The Forgiver), Al-Hakim (The Perfectly Wise), Al-`Adl (The Just), Al-Ghaffar (The Forgiving), Ar-Rahim (The All-Merciful), Ar-Rahim (The All-Compassionate), Al-`Adl (The Just).

These are all terms that involve LOVE. If God is the Greatest God, He has to be the most patient. He has to be most loving, He has to be the most merciful, He has to be the more just of all. He has to be the fairest of all Judges. And the FAIREST of Judges always punishes sin. God cannot sweep sin under the carpet, and forgive JUST like that.

Mercy, by definition, is only exercised by the One who has the power to punish. You deserve to be punished by God, but if He is the MOST MERCIFUL, He can also forgive you. Forgiveness does not mean the absence of consequences. Sin has to be dealt with.

I know my sin has to be dealt with.


Dealing with sin


It is amazing to me how similar we all seem to be – Jews, Muslims and Christians – and at the same time we are so different. I remember one day I was having breakfast with my Muslims when Adam and Eve showed up at the conversation. My Muslim said they covered themselves with leafs. ‘Yes’, I said, ‘And God covered them with skin’.

Leaves. Skin. Leaves. Skin

LEAVES!

SKIN!

The Quran narrative of The Fall portrays Adam and Eve covering themselves with leaves after realizing they were naked. The Torah narrates the same incident. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves because they felt ashamed. Now they knew what sin was. The Torah teaches that God walked in the Garden of Eden with His children (Genesis 3:8). Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with their Creator. But after they ate from the fruit, instead of running towards their Father, they wanted to hide.

Why?

Think about it. Nobody can see the face of God and live (Exodus 33:20). But Adam and Eve could. I dare say that it was because they were sinless. They were holy as God demands us to be holy (Leviticus 11:44). Even The New Testament (1 Peter 1:16) demands holiness based on The Torah.

Stay with me.

Adam and Eve had been created in God’s own image. That, by the way, only means that human beings have the potential to be creative, spiritual, intelligent, communicative, relational, moral, full of purposeful capacities… a little taste of what God is.

But once Adam and Eve exercised their free will – by choosing to disobey God – everything changed. God did not JUST forgive them. There were consequences. And somebody paid the price. Genesis 3:21 says that God made garments for them out of skin. This is what Quran probably means by garments. The purpose of this adornment was to cover their shame. Their sin – all together with their guilt – got transferred to an animal.

They needed to be covered. They had sinned against their Creator. In His infinite LOVE, God was absolutely MERCIFUL and He forgave them. In His infinite wisdom, God was also JUST, and the wrath of God was transferred from Adam and Eve to an animal who died in their place. Symbolically, the blood of that animal covered their shame – their sin.

Oh, Karla, again with the blood of Jesus…

This is not my own crazy Christian theology. This is an issue that rests at the very core of Judaism and Islam. As I see it, it is either my blood or the goat’s blood. So I vote for letting the goat die. Seriously.

You see, I was born a Mexican. I was born far away from the Middle East where all these things had been cooking for thousands of years. This Isaac vs Ishmael battle is really none of my business. I am a Gentile. But it so happens that I am going gaga over the God of Israel. And it seems that He loves me, too. So what do I need to do to get this relationship going?


Aqeeqah


The sacrifice and spilling of blood of an animal is an issue that was very close to the heart of Mohammad. And Muslims have to obey their prophet. This is Sunnah mu’akkadah – a confirmed Sunnah. If you have the means to do it, you should not ignore it.

Aqeeqah involves sacrificing a goat or lamb on behalf of a new-born child. It means giving thanks to Allah for His gift. This almost sounds like the consecration of the first-born. Every single first-born male belongs to YHWH. Circumcision is also a command from God to Abraham. Muslims practice it, too.

The Aqeeqa lamb has to have certain specifications, you know. It cannot be any lamb you find on the road. It has to be one year old, without any defects, its legs must not be broken- although it doesn’t really have to be that perfect. That goes against Leviticus 22 and the rules for acceptable sacrifices to be offered to God. But I hope you are able to see two things.

First, Mohammad hung out with the Jews. Big time. He was influenced by them. Second, if this kind of ritual made it into The Sunnah of Islam, I put my hands on fire that Mohammad knew that SACRIFICE WAS IMPORTANT. According to Mohammad, every boy is in pledge for his Aqeeqa, and you have to shave his head.

Mohammad was surrounded by people who understood the meaning of atonement by the shedding of blood. Mohammad understood it, too. If he did not, then why do Muslims recite what they recite over the sacrifice? Imagine a little boy called Ibrahim.


Oh Allah! This is Ibrahim’s aqeeqah.  The aqeeqa’s blood instead of Ibrahim’s blood. The aqeeqa’s bone instead of Ibrahim’s bone. The aqeeqa’s skin instead of Ibrahims’ skin. Its hair instead of his hair. Oh, Allah! I make this an offering on Ibrahim’s behalf. I turn my attention exclusively towards He who created the skies, and the earth. l am not amongst the polytheists. Oh Allah! From You, and toward You. In the name of Allah. Allah is great.


At the core of Islamic belief, you have atonement by sacrifice. At the center of the Sunnah of Mohammad, Ibrahim’s father – acting as priest – is reconciling little Ibrahim’s with Allah. The shedding of the blood of that lamb is the means to do that.

This does not go against Quran 22:37, by the way. Of course the meat doesn’t reach Allah. Of course Allah does not need that blood. Instead, it is the action of TRUSTING that the blood of that sacrifice can COVER little Ibrahim’s sin, and make him right with God. Just like it was with Adam and Eve from the very beginning.

Sacrifice has always been God’s idea

Hold on to your butts, because I am just getting started.


My Jewish Friend 


I can only recall the first time I told a Jew that I really liked the Old Testament. He said it was not OLD, and he looked so upset. That was so amateur of me. I wish he could read this. I wish I could tell him I have studied the Torah in depth. And I wish I could tell him that even though I will never master Hebrew – or be Jewish – I stand for Israel.

I will always stand for Israel.

I am not an ethnic Jew, and I will never be. Even if I dared telling him that I have circumcised my heart, that stuff wouldn’t fly with him. For him, the New Testament is rubbish. Jesus is not the Messiah, and for all I know, he doesn’t care about my Muslim-Christian dilemma. He has the promises of God, you know. He is, after all, Jewish. Of course I know that this attitude is not one of arrogance, but of one who still trusts in the promises of God given to Israel.

I don’t really know why all these hateful things are happening in the world. But I read the Book of Hosea, and I know that God is not done with Israel. No, sir. He loves them dearly. Israel might have been a whore in abandoning YHWH, but He is her rightful husband.  So please, back off.


I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and justice,
with loving-kindness and with mercy.

I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
and you shall know the LORD

– Hosea 2:19-20


I have never seen an animal being slaughtered. My friend would tell me, that when bringing an offering to the Temple, the owner of the animal had to be present. He had to put his hands on the lamb’s head, and he had to rest his weight on it. In one sense, he connected with the animal – so it was like an extension of himself. To actually see that little lamb killed right in front of you was an unsettling thing. This little fluffy lamb might have been your pet, but now it was dead meat.

During the atonement, Life and Death were staring you in the face. God dwelled symbolically between the wings of the cherubim above the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark were the tablets with the Law that God had given Moses. The Ark’s cover was called Atonement Cover or Mercy Seat. The blood of this little fluffy lamb had to be sprinkled on this cover.

The Ark was a picture of judgement. When God saw that atonement had been made, forgiveness could be given. If you wanted the punishment you really deserved, then you had to die. But if you wanted forgiveness, then you had to sacrifice this little lamb.


This could have been me. This animal is just like me – with a heart, hair, gall bladder. What is the difference – a soul?

– 


It was a whole process, but at the end, the remaining meat was taken and could be eaten by the owner.

I am all ears. My Jewish friend is describing Aqeeqa to me. Muslims also eat the meat and share it with others.


yom kippur


I am sure my Jewish friend would tell me that Ibrahim’s Aqeeqa is a sweet symbolism, but it doesn’t really count as a real atonement. It will never cover little Ibrahim’s shame because sacrifices are not longer required under God’s Law. The Temple was destroyed around 70 A.D. (an event actually predicted by Jesus), so there is simply no place – acceptable to God – to offer the sacrifices anymore.

Sacrifices had to be offered every dayall day long. That was the job of the priests. Even in Jesus’ time, sacrifices were still going on. Jesus had nothing against these sacrifices. The problem – in Jesus’ judgement – was that the operation of the Temple had become robbery under the temple authorities. The sanctity of the Temple and its purpose had been lost. The problem were not the sacrifices themselves—they had been set up and ordained by God—the problem was with those who superintended the temple.

But now, my Jewish friend tells me that God does not care for blood sacrifices anymore.


After all, one of the offerings brought by a sinner was the korban minchah, which was made up of flour. We also find in the Torah that both incense and monetary donations served to atone for the people. It should be noted that nowhere in the Torah is it stated that atonement can be found only through sacrifice, never mind blood sacrifice.

– Chabad.org


The Jewish sages say that world stands on three pillars:

1. The Torah. One who reaches into the laws of sacrifices is considered as if he has actually offered a sacrifice. By studying the laws and their meanings, we achieve the atonement and closeness to God that a sacrifice accomplishes. This sounds like Islam – where God will judge you on the base of your intentions.

I find it appalling though, that this is coming from the Talmud – which is a commentary of the Oral Law (The Mishnah). Tradition usually seems to take precedence over the Scriptures for faith and practice. The Oral Law stands as high as the Written law and here is why. Jewish people relied on their Oral Tradition, so that the Ishmaelites should not fabricate it as they had done with the Written Torah, and say they were Israel.

The Ishmaelites probably meant the Christians. The Church had adopted the Hebrew Scriptures and they no longer were a possession of the Jews. Therefore, the Oral Law, safeguarded the distinctiveness of the Jewish people living in a Christian environment. The problem with the word Ishmaelites is that by the 7th Century Islam tried to unite them. The Jews refused, so Mohammad split from the Jewish Scriptures. The Corruption Conspiracy began.

2. Good works of service. Jewish people had replaced the sacrificial “service of God” with prayer – the service of the heart articulated in words. As such, the three daily prayers are in place of the daily “services” and sacrifices that were performed in the Temple. On Shabbat, they add the Musaf prayer, since an additional sacrifice was offered in the Temple every Shabbat. This also sounds Islamic. God lets you make up for the days you don’t fast, or for the times you don’t pray. You can make up for those by feeding the poor.

Never mind that you broke God’s commands, you know. But if I remember correctly, you disobeyed God and you died. It happened to Aaron’s sons when they offered sacrifices to the Lord in the way they were not supposed to. Interesting it is that now – for some strange reason – Jewish people are doing a very similar thing.

3Charity. Giving charity – giving of oneself – is also considered to be a method of finding atonement. One who gives his hard-earned money to charity is, in a sense, truly giving of himself—sacrificing himself for the greater good. This might be the ultimate form of sacrifice, as he is really giving something of himself—money that could have been spent for his personal benefit and gain. Also Islamic.

So what? I pray, I give money, I do good works. Is that it? Is that all I have to do to please God? That sounds like a cheap god. I think that actually makes God small. They are making God adapt to them. Either God is not that HOLY, or God is a liar who made sin to be a big deal when in reality sin is not that important.


COROLARY


The Israelites tried to be so different from The Ishmaelites, but in their efforts, they ended up twisting everything they were supposed to be. Israel was supposed to be a blessing for ALL the nations. That is why – in my understanding of the Torah- God chose Israel. But now, brothers are tearing God apart – as if God belong to someone. People actually want a relationship with your God, you, guys.


Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. No. Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael. No. Isaac is the son of a promise. No. Ishmael is the rightful first born. No. Ishmael was the son of an Egyptian maid. No. The Jews corrupted the Hebrew Bible because it does not agree with Quran. Yes. Actually, the Christians also corrupted the Injil because Jesus never died. Yes. Basically – the Jews and the Christians and every other non-Muslim – is going to hell.


Really? Is this God? When is this going to stop?


A gentile’s heart


I don’t care for rewards. Seriously. The idea of having them for my good behavior is really nice. But I am a mother of two young children. I know what being a parent is. I might not be the best, but I am trying my best.

When I ask my children to do a chore and offer them a cookie as a reward, the inevitable happens. They give a crap about the chore, and they only focus on the reward. We have had endless arguments about the cookie that they were promised, and they don’t even want to fold the towels they were requested to fold. It was my mistake for offering them the reward in the first place.

So I changed my strategy. Obedience is expected. Always. I am good mom. My husband is a good dad. We are reasonable people. What we are asking of them is not impossible to achieve, you know. So when I ask them to fold the towels, I expect them to fold the towels. I really want to give them a cookie, but I have stopped mentioning the cookie.

Sometimes they obey, and they do get the cookie. Other times, they obey, but I force myself to stop giving them the cookie. I stop myself because I want to teach them a valuable lesson.

You obey God because you know God. Obedience should be motivated by how much you trust God and how much you love God. You don’t follow God because God promises you Heaven. You follow God, and obey God because He is worthy of all praise. You follow God because He is faithful to you even though time and again you are unfaithful to Him. Obedience comes by faith. You have to trust that God knows what He is doing. Wherever He leads, you say yes. And you remain humble.

If my children get the cookie, they are happy. But I want them to learn to be happy even if they don’t get it. I want them to learn contentment. I want them to realize that if the cookie comes, they should be joyful. But at the same time, I want them to be aware of the fact that if they get a cookie every time they obey, they might be tempted to believe that their own effort – their own work – was what got them the cookie in the first place. And that is not true.

This is how my husband and I parent. Call us crazy. At times, we see wonderful things God is doing in the heart of our children. Other times, I just want to jump out of the window and run towards the woods. Sometimes I just need a beer. And if this is too much for the Muslims, I am sorry. I guess I’ll go with the Jews who will probably say l’chaim  – holding a cup of red wine in their hands.


Summary


This journey has been totally awesome. I am a weird human being because I honestly enjoyed learning all the things I have learned so far. I am not finished yet. I will continue to learn, but I need a break. I have come to a point where I know enough. And knowing enough demanded a decision to be made.

I am only a human being. I cannot even pretend I am going to learn Quran Arabic, and Hebrew, and Greek, and then I am going to study all these original texts to actually know what they say. If there is a person who is able to do that, he is probably an atheist. The reason I say that is because the world of religion is a mess. A big fat mess. Everybody holds on to their own traditions based on their own interpretation of the texts.

The Jews not only have the Written Torah, the Oral Torah, the Midrash, and The Talmud.  To top it off they also have Rabbinic Law. Who do you think I am – an alien? I will never be able to read all that assuming I have the time. And the human interpretation of these sages can lead to so much mysticism that some Jews even find loopholes for reincarnation.

[Faint]

When I read about all the Jewish traditions I can’t stop thinking about Jesus’ condemning words towards them. Messiah or not, crucified or not, maybe Jesus had a point. Maybe Jesus knew what He was talking about. These Jewish leaders had added rule upon rule, rule upon rule, in order to stop people from breaking the actual rule. And by doing this, the Jewish leaders began elevating these human rules to the same level of the actual rules given by God.

The Muslims have Quran. They also have Tawheed. They have the Sunnah and Hadith. But it is also a mess. You see, Muslims say Islam is one – that Islam is unified – but the House of Islam is facing a crisis. Muslims also want to believe that the Quran has never been changed from eternity past, but that is simply not true. Muslims have to go back and study their own history, and their own traditions.

Muslims are killing each other over what true Islam is. You have the Sunni vs Shia disputes. Then you have the Ahmadiyyas who believe that the long-awaited Messiah already came. Some Muslims are leaving Islam left and right to become atheists.  And the truth is that Muslims are blind to these issues within their own faith. Or they choose to ignore it.

I understand them wholeheartedly. It is difficult to question your own faith, especially if you have never done that before. DUH. But I think everybody should go back and objectively – as much as they can – analyze the reason why they believe what they believed in the first place. Why are you a Muslim? Why are you a Christian? Why are you a Jew? Is it because you were born in those families? Is it because your parents told you it was THE truth? Is it because your traditions are comfortable? Is it because only Christians go to Heaven? Is it because only Muslims go to heaven?

What is the evidence for your faith?

Why do you believe what you believe?

I will tell you why I am choosing Jesus.


CONCLUSION


I am not going to pretend Christianity has no tradition. And I don’t agree with the tradition of the Church. That’s why I am not Roman Catholic. I was Catholic because I was born into a Catholic family. But my family – in all honesty – still lives as if God didn’t exist. Nobody asked me if I wanted to belong to the Catholic Church. You see, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, I am an apostate. I have abandoned the True Faith.

And I am a proud apostate. Send me to hell right now if you wish. I don’t agree with many traditions of the Church. I read the New Testament, and I don’t see why I had to be baptized as a baby. Jesus was baptized when He was thirty!  Why should I pray five Holy Marys and ten Lord’s Prayers for God to forgive me? Is God that cheap? Can I really trick Him that way? My rosary resembles – for that matter – the Islamic prayer beads.

For all I know, I should be worshipping Tlaloc, Huitzilopochtli, Chalchiuhtlicue, Chicomecoatl, Coyolxauhqui and who else not. I should be offering the heart of virgins as sacrifices to appease the gods of my people. That’s the history of my country. Those are my roots. These should be my gods. But I don’t want those gods. I really don’t.

So I am not going to pretend that the Council of Nicea is a conspiracy theory, or that the Reformation never happened. The Crusades will be forever a mole for my faith because it was a war fueled by greed – but fought in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. And the history of The Church is ugly. And I am studying it. And the traditions are ugly. And the bishops and the popes do nasty things. I know that.

I am rejecting The Church – as an institution. I am rejecting Christianity – as a religion. Do you see now why I don’t like calling myself a Christian?

I am rejecting all tradition

I will only uphold Jesus’ name as high as He would allow me.

I cannot be led by traditions. I cannot trust anybody. I cannot trust Jewish Tradition or Islamic tradition or Christian tradition. I can only trust what I am able to see. I am a doubting Thomas. Show me what you’ve got. Show me the evidence you have. My faith has to be based on evidence that my God-given brain enables me to approve as valid.

And it is right there. Virtually, all New Testament scholars – including the atheists – agree that Jesus died by crucifixion. You have historical documents from Tacitus, Pliny, and Josephus – to name a few. You have thousands of manuscripts and all of them convey the same idea. The earliest “Christians” believed this Jesus to be God. They were martyred and persecuted for not submitting to the Greek gods or to Caesar.

The earliest Creeds were given to the apostle Paul by the actual people who saw these events happening. Paul only repeated these creeds, but he did not make them up. Sure, Paul also saw Jesus, but plenty of other people saw these things, too. My faith does not rest on the Bible. My faith rests on a guy predicting his own death. And if a guy is able to predict His own death, and then resurrect from the dead, I am with that guy!!

There’s an ocean of evidence for all these claims – both inside and outside the biblical records. I will focus on that once I come back to writing.

Paul did not make up “The Way”. Jesus did when He resurrected. 

Read the whole New Testament. Now try to live it to the core. Why would a reasonable person would do such a stupid thing? Why would you make up a story in which you had nothing to benefit from? It is only humanly dumb to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. It goes against all the rules of my own selfishness.

I am accountable for the things I know. And come judgment day, I know enough. Sure, I will continue to study, and I will continue to learn, but I am ready to face my Creator. I won’t rely on the sages, or the scholars or the Imams or the Shieks. I won’t rely on the priests or the pastors or the bishops or the Pope. I am not gonna follow what they teach.

I follow what I see. And I see SACRIFICE in Judaism, in Christianity and in Islam. And I know God never changes.


I, YHWH, do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you.

– Malachi 3:6-7


Traditions have made humans believe that they can change the heart of God. We do not have the Temple therefore God does not need a sacrifice anymore. As if God were saying, “Oh, goodness, the Temple was destroyed. I didn’t see this coming. I am so glad my people are so smart to find loopholes to make sacrifices not necessary anymore. After all, what do I know? I am so fortunate they can work things out on their own”.

Nope. I am not buying tradition.

If Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, why is it such a horrendous idea that Jesus might have actually been the Aqeeqa of the whole world? Why is it such a horrible thought that maybe God decided it was time to stop our efforts of trying to do everything our own way? Why would it be a sin to believe that God can love HIS children so much – the people He created – that He Himself can be the Aqeeqa?

Do you reject that because you are a Jew? Remain a Jew, but take the Aqeeqa. Are you a Muslim? Remain operating within your own Islamic upbringing, but receive the Aqeeqa of God. But I know that might be just wishful thinking. You know why I think it is so difficult for people to do that?

First, CULTURE. Depending on your culture, if you receive Jesus as your Aqeeqa things can get pretty rough. In Saudi Arabia, they will give you three days to reject it, and if you don’t, then they might kill you. If you are lucky to live outside Saudi Arabia, at least you won’t be killed, but your family might disown you. In Jerusalem, your family will take you to the Rabbis who will make you read the Torah until you admit that Yeshua is not the Messiah. And if you don’t, they will disown you, too. You become a nobody. Your family might shun you until the day they died. Culture wins – most of the time

Second, PRIDE. I think this is at the heart of every single temptation. This is how Satan operates. You really believe you can be good enough to earn you own way to God. You say you trust God, but then, why do you try so hard? Why do you worry so much about memorizing the Torah or the Quran to recite it. Why would reciting the whole Quran in Arabic will give you extra good deeds? And the funny thing is, PRIDE was even at the heart of the Temple.

You see, people will take the little lamb to the Temple, put the hands on their head, and have it killed by the priest. But still, the offerer of the sacrifice always had the CHOICE. The offerer could believe God when God said the blood would cover his sin OR the offerer could believe that the blood would never be enough. So the offerer just kept on trying harder, but never really trusted the sacrifice.

I choose to trust the sacrifice. I choose to believe that God never changes, and that SACRIFICE will always be the ONLY way that God has made available for man to make peace with Him. You can tell me sacrifices were not the only way, and that it was only for unintentional sins. Sure, there were many offerings and many holy days.

But the most important day for Israel – as a nation – was the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is still the most important day. On Yom Kippur, the priest would make atonement for himself, his own household and the whole nation of Israel. And the two goats were presented to YHWH. One goat was scapegoat that made it into the wilderness. The other goat was sacrificed as a sin offering. That goat paid for ALL the sins. The Hebrew כֹּל means all –  the whole.

Why, my Jewish people, do you keep translating this word as only UNINTENTIONAL? Stop putting a yoke on the Gentiles that you yourselves are not able to carry!

I fear God. I love God. I trust God.

I trust that Yom Kippur means so much more than only unintentional sins. Yom Kippur is all about coming clean. I am choosing to believe that Jesus is my Aqeeqa. Based in the evidence I have gathered this year, I am choosing to believe that God is the Daddy who Mr. Harari talks about.


I looked at my son – full of dirt – and something hit me. I am his Father. And part of being a parent is knowing what you child wants – and what he can and cannot do about it. It is understanding them in a way that few others can.

My son was saying, ‘You know I can’t stop playing in the dirt. I really try, but I’m too little to do it all by myself. But since you are my dad, you know that deep down, I really want to come with you. And if you love me, you are not gonna just stick to your rules and walk away. You are gonna do everything in your power to help me do what I know deep down is right. You clean me, Daddy, so that we can go together’.

– Coming Clean


This year in India, I have gathered enough evidence and enough faith – even if it’s tiny – to look up to heaven and say, “GOD, YOU CLEAN ME”

I hope my twenty minutes of weeping shared light into some people’s lives 🙂


But if serving YHWH seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve YHWH.