Did Jesus really rise from the death?

I believed in Christianity because its message appealed to me. I was raised running on an empty love-tank. I believed it. I never asked if it was true – I just wanted LOVE.

Unconditional love.

But a feeling didn’t matter when I was confronted with other faiths. So I was ready – as difficult as it was – to test my own beliefs, and follow the evidence. It was the worst year of my life, but without a doubt, it was the most enriching experience I have ever had.

I hope you enjoy this debate. David Wood is one of my personal heroes.

Did Jesus rise from the dead?

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…

1 Corinthians 15:17

He is risen 🙂

 

The Jewish Roots of Christianity

Great video. Go Columbus, Ohio! 🙂

 
 “Did Jesus intend to found the Christian church? This interesting question can be answered in the affirmative and in the negative. It depends on what precisely is being asked. If by church one means an organization and a people that stand outside of Israel, the answer is no. If by a community of disciples committed to the restoration of Israel and the conversion and instruction of the Gentiles, then the answer is yes. Jesus did not wish to lead his disciples out of Israel, but to train followers who will lead Israel, who will bring renewal to Israel , and who will instruct Gentiles in the way of the Lord. Jesus longed for the fulfillment of the promises and the prophecies, a fulfillment that would bless Israel and the nations alike. The estrangement of the church from Israel was not the result of Jesus’ teaching or Paul’s teaching. Rather, the parting of the ways, as it has been called in recent years, was the result of a long process”—Craig Evans , From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation.
Here are the chapters from the book:
Partings—How Judaism & Christianity Became Two - Hardcover
:
I. The Jewish Jesus Movement
Geza Vermes
II. From the Crucifixion to the End of the First Century
James D.G. Dunn
III. The Godfearers: From the Gospels to Aphrodisias
Bruce Chilton
IV. The Christian Flight to Pella? The Archaeological Picture
Pamela Watson
V. Parting in Palestine
Joan Taylor
VI. Christianity in Antioch: Partings in Roman Syria
Annette Yoshiko Reed and Lily Vuong
VII. Living Side by Side in Galilee
Eric M. Meyers
VIII. Jews and Christians at Rome: An Early Parting of the Ways
Margaret H. Williams
IX. Christianity’s Rise After Judaism’s Demise in Early Egypt
Robert A. Kraft and AnneMarie Luijendijk
X. Ebionites and Nazoraeans: Christians or Jews?
Matt A. Jackson-McCabe
XI. In Between: Jewish-Christians and the Curse of the Heretics
Shaye J.D. Cohen
XII. The Complexities of Rejections and Attraction, Herein of Love and Hate
Steven Fine
XIII. From Sabbath to Sunday: Why, How and When?
Lawrence T. Geraty
XIV. Social Organization and Parting in East and West
Arye Edrei and Doron Mendels
XV. Did They Ever Part?
 Who is the Founder of Christianity? Jesus or Paul?
Linguistically speaking, Christianity didn’t exist in the first century. Judaism in the first century wasn’t seen as a single “way.” There were many “Judaism’s”- the Sadducees, the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, etc.  The followers of Jesus are referred to as a “sect” (Acts 24:14;28:22); “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5).
Josephus refers to the “sects” of Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees. The first followers of Jesus were considered to be a sect of Second Temple Judaism.

Another quote by Evans:

But we must ask if Paul has created a new institution, a new organization, something that stands over against Israel, something that Jesus himself never anticipated. From time to time learned tomes and popular books have asserted that the Christian church is largely Paul’s creation, that Jesus himself never intended for such a thing to emerge. Frankly, I think the hypothesis of Paul as creator of the church or inventor of Christianity is too simplistic. A solution that is fairer to the sources, both Christian and Jewish, is more complicated. -Evans, Craig A., From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation .

Take a look at both quotes from Evans in this post.  From the author’s own experience, most Christians and Jewish people like the current boundaries. In other words, we have two separate religions- Judaism and Christianity. Thus, we don’t care much about as to how we got to that place. One thing for sure: If we discuss the “imperial Christianity” that was legalized in the fourth century by Constantine and whether Jesus or Paul is the founder of that, the answer is no. By then, the Christianity that existed was so far away from what Jesus and Paul had done, it had morphed into a new and separate religion.

As Evans says, this was the result of complex factors.

Do these issues matter for apologetics?

Yes! See the post called Why the Debate Over Christian Origins Matter!

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.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

For one reason or another, I’ve been delaying writing a post about the nature of God, both in Christianity and Islam. It seems relevant now due to the recent news regarding Wheaton College.  Everybody is talking about it on social media, and people have their own opinion on whether or not the teacher should have been suspended.

I personally think she incurred in deep theological contradictions. This issue, of course, goes deeper than wanting to hold hands with every Muslim around the world singing kumbaya. An assertion like this offensive to both authentic Muslims and authentic Christians.

This article is a combination of a lecture given by Keith Small and Andy Bannister, as well as my own insights on how we can use the role of Christian apologetics in further dialogue with Muslims. There are plenty of resources about Apologetics and Islam at www.bethinking.org. You should also check other links in which I refer you to other websites.

God and Muslims

Talking about God with Muslims can be extremely confusing because in so many ways we can seem to be talking about the same BEING. Most of the time we find ourselves coming into direct conflict with them, even though we are using the same words. We find different assumptions underlying our different views of God – concerning His character, His nature, and His actions towards humanity. The discussion can derail really, really quickly.

Here’s the thing. Muslims DO think they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They DO think they worship the God of the Jews and the Christians.They really do think because that’s what the Quran teaches.

We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. [speaking to Christians and Jews]. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.

– Surah 29:46

You see, there is this open claim in the Quran that Allah is the same God that the Jews and the Christians worship. Now, before we continue, it would be important to know that Christians in Muslim countries, for example, DO refer to God as Allah. They also DO make the distinction between the different persons in the Trinity.

Allah is just the arabic word for God – THE GOD. That is why I personally do not have a problem with those names. However, for the purposes of this article, I will refer to the god of the Quran as Allah, and I will refer to the God of Jews and Christians as YHWH.

Throughout the whole Quran,  you can read  that God is one. God is one. It is almost as if the author of the Quran wanted to make that point more than clear – that God is only one.

Surah Al-Fatiha (Chapter 1)

In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.
Amen.

In context, those who have received grace are the Muslims – those who follow Muhammad. The ones who have the wrath are the Jews, and the ones who are misguided are the Christians. When you think about the five obligatory prayers a day (Salat) and the cycles within them, a devout Muslim ends up asking Allah not to let him become like a Jew or a Christian. He prays this at least twenty times a day.

Besides Chapter 1, Chapter 112 is also a good example of another prescribed prayer that Muslims might recite several times a day. This Surah is basically addressed at the Christians. Allah is one, and he has no son.

Sura Al-Ikhlas (Chapter 112)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the
Compassionate
Say: ‘He is God, the One,
God the Eternal and Besought of all,
Neither begetting nor begot, Nor is there
anything comparable or equal to Him.

That is why for a Muslim, the sole idea of the Divinity of Christ is indeed a great blasphemy. This is key in understanding the issue behind whether or not Muslims and Christians worship the same god.

The unforgivable sin (shirk) for Muslims is associating partners with Allah. In the Muslim mind, a Christian – who sees God as a Trinity – is a polytheist. They understand the Trinity as being three gods. The Quran addresses the Trinity as Allah, Jesus and Mary.  The fact that the author of the Quran had no real knowledge of Christian doctrine does not help either.

The Muslim thinks that our Christian beliefs about Jesus being God is a lie that we have invented. We have exceeded our limit in doing that. Allah calls for Christians to stop saying Three since Allah is but one God. There are not three Allahs. Again, the author of the Quran had no understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.

O People of the Scripture [Christians], do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son.

I encourage you to watch these videos by James White. There are some many things out there about people wanting to give an opinion about these issues… and opinions are great. I am giving mine. But in the dialogue with Muslims, I believe, you really need to understand  where they are coming from.

James White on Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

James White on Wael Ibrahim’s misunderstanding of the Trinity – Part 1

James White on Wael Ibrahim’s misunderstanding of the Trinity – Part 2

If people do not argue, they usually fight. We, as followers of Jesus, should not fight with Muslims. We have the responsibility of explaining them – when the opportunity arises – that many of the misconceptions they have about our faith are not grounded in reality, but in a lack of understanding of our doctrines mainly by the author of the Quran and Muhammad.

ARE ALLAH AND YHWH COMPATIBLE?

Colin Chapman in his book Cross and Crescent sites seven areas of general similarity. He would use these to talk to a Muslim about the God of the Bible. This can be very useful if you have a Muslim who is willing to listen. My Muslims listened a lot – they were great about that. They would always say, of course, that I was wrong because the Bible as it is today has been corrupted.

But is it corrupted? 

You see, if the Bible (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) is NOT corrupted, then Islam is false. So these areas of similarity can be great to use if you would like to encourage a Muslim to read the Bible for himself. That can lead them on a path about the reliability of our Scriptures (Textual Criticism, Read Sea Scrolls, etc.)

So Muslims and Christians agree on these areas.

  1. God creates
  2. God is one
  3. God rules
  4. God reveals
  5. God loves
  6. God judges
  7. God forgives

The issue here is that even though we agree on these similarities, we differ on the HOW God does these things. That’s where the real difference between Allah and YHWH comes. Let’s explore these points. I encourage you to read the Quran so you might be able to grasp these differences better.

1. GOD CREATES

According to the Quran, Allah creates with just his word. BE, and it is.

In the Bible, YHWH creates with His Word and His Spirit – The Trinity is involved right away.

2. GOD IS ONE

Allah is a very numerical oneness. The Quran really never describes what that oneness (Doctrine of Tawheed) looks like. The Quran describes what Tawheed IS NOT – associating partners with Allah.

YHWH is One – yes – but He is a Trinity. One BEING, but three persons. The Trinity explains why we can be made out of complex molecules, and cells and yet we are still one essence. I encourage you to read The Forgotten Trinity by James White.

This might not make sense to many of you, but it resonated with me greatly. I majored in Chemistry, Biology and Pharmacy. When I read the testimony of Nabeel Qureshi in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, I was amazed at how God can really speak into anybody’s life. Do you want to know what made Nabeel start giving the Trinity a chance? Organic Chemistry.

Technically, a molecule with resonance is every one of its structures at every point in time, yet no single one of its structures at any point in time. It’s all the structures ALL the time, never just ONE of them.

A molecule of nitrate is all three resonance structures all the time and never just one of them. The tree are separate but all the same, and they are one. They are three in one. If there are things in this world that can be explained like this – though incomprehensibly so – then why cannot God?

– Nabeel Qureshi

3. GOD RULES

Allah rules as a dictator in the Quran – absolute, unquestioning rule. He rules over everything and also through angels.

YHWH rules cooperatively. The Trinity rules in complete harmony.

 4. GOD REVEALS

Allah gives revelation through nature (a lot of Muslims are using intelligent design as an apologetic) and he reveals through prophets. What Allah reveals is just his will – but he never reveals himself.

YHWH reveals through nature, prophets, but specially through the incarnation of Christ. YHWH not only reveals His will, but He also reveals Himself. This is a concept that is embodied through Genesis 1 to Revelation. YHWH loves His people and wants to live with them, dwell with them. He wants a relationship with His people. YHWH has revealed Himself to the fullest in the person of Jesus Christ.

5. GOD LOVES

Allah bestows his favor and loves only those who love him. He loves only those who repent and turn to him. He DOES NOT love those who reject Muhammad.

YHWH loves sacrificially. Allah does not put Himself out to love, but YHWH does at huge cost to Himself. YHWH loves everyone, even the ones who reject Him. Over and over He would always forgive Israel. He punished them, but the Israelites are His people. YHWH is their Husband. He gave them promises that He has to keep. Through the Jewish nation all nations in the world will blessed. Through Messiah, all the Gentiles would come into a relationship with YHWH.

YHWH in the New Testament shows His infinite love for all people by dying in our behalf. Jesus is YHWH in the flesh. He loved us first. He came to this earth not to condemn the world, but to sabe the world through Jesus.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him [Jesus]!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his [Jesus’] life!

Romans 5:8-10

 

6. GOD JUDGES AND FORGIVES

Allah judges capriciously. He doesn’t judge according to a standard. The chief attributes of Allah are his power and his sovereignty, and even his love is submitted to those. Allah is under no obligation to forgive or purify anyone, he doesn’t commit himself to save any individual. You can visit the sources here.

Likewise, Allah also forgives capriciously. Allah just forgives. No need for atonement like YHWH or the Cross. Allah forgives just like that. But since there is no standard on how Allah judges or forgives, you just never know where you stand with him on the Day of Judgement.

Whoever Allah guides – he is the [rightly] guided; and whoever He sends astray – it is those who are the losers. And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind

– Surah 7:178-179

Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day,will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.

Sahih al-Bukhari

Whoever says, ‘La ilaha illal-lah wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu-l-mulk wa lahul- hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shai’in qadir,’ one hundred times will get the same reward as given for manumitting ten slaves; and one hundred good deeds will be written in his accounts, and one hundred sins will be deducted from his accounts

Sahih al-Bukhari

Whoever Allah sends astray – there is no guide for him. And He leaves them in their transgression, wandering blindly.

-Surah 7:189

By Allah! I would not feel safe from the deception of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise.

– Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s companion

YHWH judges with perfect justice and He judges everyone. He forgives through they system of atonement (a Jewish concept) that provides legal basis for His judgement. Those who believe in Jesus’ atonement in the cross are the ones who receive the forgiveness. YHWH’s forgiveness is available to all, but you have the responsibility to receive it.

This is the confusion that Muslims have. They do not understand that Jesus’ death has the power for the forgiveness of their sins, because they believe Jesus was only a man. This is stressed out throughout the Quran and the Sunnah – that nobody should pay for your sins. This is fair, of course, no man should be responsible for your sins. All men sin.

If Jesus were solely man, atonement through Him would make no sense to a Christian either. Muslims assume this because they are Unitarian. They do not have a proper understanding of the Trinity so they cannot understand that Jesus is more than a man. Jesus is God. Jesus was also fully man, and as man, He never sinned. The Creator of the universe is sacrificing Himself for you to have a relationship with Him. He loves you that much. But for the Muslim mind, this is blasphemy. Allah cannot lower himself like that. Allah cannot make himself a man because it takes away from his majesty.

I don’t think any Muslim would deny that if God Himself wanted to become a man He is powerful enough to do it. If a Muslim denies this, they are actually denying God’s omnipotence. I guess Muslims put God into a box. They make assumptions about what God can and cannot do based on their own presuppositions about Allah’s oneness.

For example, Muslims ask, “If Jesus is God and He died on the cross, then who was in heaven ruling the universe when God died?”  This presents a problem for them because they are thinking oneness in number. This is not a problem for the Trinitarian Christian.

I would ask a Muslim another question, though. If God is Unitarian, then how would you explain the accounts in the Quran when Musa (Moses) talks to God in the burning bush? According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir (exegesis – commentary of the Quran), God talks to Moses from within the bush. But if God is in the bush, and Allah is only one, then who is in heaven ruling the world?  Even for the Muslims, Tawheed presents a problem.

Regarding atonement through blood and sacrifices is not a concept that the first Christians came up with. The very first generation of Christians were all Jewish! Atonement does not go against the Hebrew Bible or against the teachings of the Torah. Jesus actually came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Jesus was the perfect sacrificial atonement. And whoever sets up against Israel and God’s love for the Jewish people is standing on very thin ice.

If Jesus is not the Messiah of the Jewish people, then He is not the Savior of the Gentiles. Orthodox Christianity is very Jewish.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [talking about Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy

Hebrews 10:11-14


More thoughts on Allah and YHWH

One of the names of Allah is the JUST. The Quran never says this. Allah commands justice. Muslims think Allah is the best of judges. The problem is that when these concepts are applied, they seem to be arbitrary.

Allah doesn’t have to be fair. His mercy and his judgement are subjected to his sovereignty. One of the names of Allah is the Holy. In the Bible, though, HOLINESS has two components. First, YHWH is exalted above us – greater than us. Second, YHWH has absolute, moral purity. 

This is why YHWH demands payment for every single sin. Allah just forgives as if he can sweep sins under the carpet without punishing sin. But YHWH’s holiness is so great that every single act that goes against His character demands to be punished.

YHWH is the fairest of judges and the most merciful of judges. The fairest of judges HAS to punish every single sin. Every act of rebellion against the Creator of the Universe has to be addressed. In the other hand, the most merciful of judges will always forgive. Only YHWH is able to meet these two criteria.

In the atonement of Jesus, YHWH is judging sin – He is still being JUST – and at the same time He forgives – He is MERCIFUL.

Allah cannot do these two things. Muslims think he can. They say Allah can forgive freely because he is so merciful. But what do you with the sin? If Allah forgives like that, then Allah is not the fairest of judges. Besides that, if Allah makes you pay and atone for your own sins (good deeds vs bad deeds) then Allah is not the most merciful.

A Muslim who tries to explain this concepts of JUSTICE and MERCY, thinking that Allah can indeed just forgive and pretend that nothing really happened, has no understanding of the gravity of sin, and how devastating sin is. Either that, or Allah is not that Holy. Not as holy as YHWH anyway.

A Muslim may understand the concept of outer purity or ceremonial cleanliness – as they do practice ceremonial washing before prayer – but they have no understanding whatsoever of moral inner cleanliness or purity. As long as they don’t act on it, they do not understand why anger can be equated with murder, or lust can be equated as adultery. This is something I discussed often with my friends, and they did realize that the standard that Jesus demanded for me as a Christians was impossible to meet.

“DUH! That’s why I  need a Savior”, I would say. Then again, I do not know if they really understood that this was the standard God demanded of every single human being if they ever want to have direct access to their Creator.


Philosophical implications of Allah as Unitarian

1 John 2:29 tells us that God is righteous, and 1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. With YHWH these two traits are exercised fully in balance.

Allah cannot do this. Love IS NOT one of the seven eternal attributes of Allah in Islamic theology. YHWH IS LOVE. Allah focuses on power and might.  One of Allah’s 99 names is The Loving. It can also be translated as The Affectionate, but it is only one name – you have like fifteen or twenty that have to do with power. Allah is only loving and merciful to those who repent.

If you read the Quran, you’ll see very quickly that power to overwhelm, to destroy, to terrify, to condemn to hell is the main emphasis of the book. Allah loves those who love him, and he hates those who reject him and his prophet.

Even tough Allah is The Loving or The Merciful or The Forgiving, Allah has a philosophical problem.  All these adjectives need both a subject and an object. If these atributes are eternal as Muslims claim them to be, then Allah becomes contingent upon his creation. Allah becomes subject to existing only if he creates. Allah in the Quran had to create, otherwise he cannot be loving, or forgiving or merciful. Allah’s eternal attributes become otherwise because he couldn’t be who he was without his own creation.

The Trinity has never faced this problem. YHWH is not only loving. YHWH himself IS love. From eternity past, YHWH has always existed in harmony between three persons so He didn’t need to create anything. He was perfect, complete and fulfilled. Creation is an act of grace. Love changed from the horizontal (Godhead) to the vertical (human beings). The expression of love changed, but YHWH never changed.

Allah is not personal. YHWH is personal. Now, look at reality. What model explains human reality? It is very difficult to see that which is personal come from what is impersonal. The Christian concept of God explains reality. If we are indeed created in YHWH’s image, it is hardly a surprise that we, humans, need and want to be in relationship with other human beings.

Theology precedes anthropology. The God you have will directly influence the society you build. Is it any wonder why Islam produces societies that are subjected only to the power of the state?

On the other hand, Muslims also affirm the eternality of the Quran. Orthodox Islam affirms that the Quran is the eternal word of Allah. The Quran is uncreated. It has existed – for all time.

Now, think about this… Doesn’t the presence of another eternal entity existing alongside Allah for all time begins to attack the doctrine of the oneness of Allah? 

There is a real tension there. And there are schools of thought in Islam that would call heresy on those who think one way or another. If the Quran is uncreated, then you have two eternal beings from eternity past, and you end up contradicting the Quran on the Oneness of Allah.

But if the Quran is created, that means that at some point in time, Allah was without His eternal Word – and how can that be? In this case, you end up also contradicting the Quran itself. More info here.


What do I think?

Goodness… many things. I love these issues. Call me weird, my husband is sick of me talking about it – which is why I don’t talk to him about it anymore.

My experience is short, and I haven’t read all the sources there are to read regarding Islamic texts. But understanding the claims of the Quran, and having a deep understanding of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, I think that Muhammad might have wanted to compromise with both Jews and Christians. He might have actually thought he was a prophet in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

You see, tough, the prophets only come through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You ask any Muslim, and they would tell you Muhammad came from Ishmael, not Isaac. The prophets were to be Israelites, not Ishmaelites. Still, there are many other reasons as to why the Jews would reject the prophethood of Muhammad, but we’ll leave those for another time.

Let’s say Allah revealed the Quran.

The Quran says that Jesus is the Messiah. But the Jews in Muhammad’s time rejected this. In Jewish thought, Jesus was a blasphemer. Jesus died by crucifixion. History agrees with this. In the Jewish mind, even today, the Messiah cannot die – let alone by crucifixion. So the Jews rejected Muhammad. Not all of them, but some. So what do I know? Maybe Muhammad tried to appeal to the Jews by saying that Jesus was the Messiah and Allah did not let Jesus die on the cross.

Now, the Christians… Muhammad said that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Christians liked that. But the Quran also said that Jesus never die on the cross, and that Jesus was only a man. This goes against Christian doctrine even before the New Testament was put together. The deity of Christ is not something that Paul invented – Christians already knew that even before Paul wrote the letters. It is very clear, now that we have the manuscripts and we can see them all, that nothing has ever been corrupted in the text. So of course some Christians converted to Islam, but other Christians had to reject Muhammad as a false prophet – just as the Jews.

This is how I picture it in my mind…

In today’s world (except from photos and videos), people can read about the Holocaust. Let’s say the Holocaust happened a year ago. People wrote about the Holocaust because they lived it, they saw it, they experienced it. People were eyewitnesses to it. Now imagine this. This is the era of technology so things don’t get lost that easily. But just imagine for one minute that there are no computers or anything to store information. We only have paper – low quality paper.

People need to copy the records that we have available about the Holocaust. All the world – for whatever reason – needs to know about the Holocaust, why it happened and what it accomplished. So people begin copying the eyewitnesses accounts. People begin transcribing them like crazy, not only in English, but in many different languages.

Are you following me?

So these records end up being in circulation for many, many years. Centuries, actually. Within a century from now, people will still have copies of those original eyewitness accounts. The originals might be lost – it was low quality paper – but we have plenty of copies. Two centuries from now, still going strong.

We can actually compare all the copies, and the basic description of the Holocaust still remains the same. Sure, there are differences in spellings and words that might be weird, but the account of the Holocaust – when it happened, how it happened, why it happened, who was involved, where it happened – is still intact.

Three centuries, the same. Four centuries, the same. Five centuries, same. Now, we may not have the originals in five centuries, nor the copies from a century from now. Maybe we will lose them, and we will always be looking for them. But the oldest one that we will have in our possession two thousand years from now will be two hundred years after the Holocaust. That’s pretty good if you consider that we have only seven copies from Plato written one thousand years after the original. Nobody questions Plato.

And thousands of years down the road, people will continue to copy our records of the Holocaust. One day, we will end up having more than 22,000 pieces of paper with which we can reconstruct the original eyewitness accounts. HOmer’s Iliad has 647 – and nobody questions Homer’s authorship.

We cared so much about preserving those records because the Holocaust changed History.

But then something will happen. About six hundred years from now, in the middle of a civilization that had never heard about the Holocaust, someone will come and will say that God gave him a message through an angel. And the message is basically this: You people are wrong. The Holocaust never happened like that. I will tell you exactly how it happened.

And a lot of people will believe that man, and his own version of the Holocaust. People who love this man will look back on the actual records that we preserved, and they will see that they contradict the man’s version of the Holocaust. But they will love that man so much, that in blind faith, they will begin allegations against our own records. The records we so carefully tried to preserve – the actual eyewitnesses accounts of the Holocaust – will be charged with corruption of the text.

And many people, unfortunately, will end up believing in the new version of the Holocaust that this man will give them. They will believe it only in faith, even tough the evidence says otherwise. In my own mind, that’s what Muhammad did.

You see, the Christian who recognizes ALL these issues is in a better position to explain to the Muslim about our faith, and about the text of the Bible. It is the responsibility of every Christian to show love to Muslims. Eventually, though, conversations will happen, and questions – deep theological questions – will arise.

The Christian has to be prepared to meet the challenge not only of understanding why Islam (the new version of the Holocaust) differs from Judaism and Christianity (the original version of the Holocaust). Not only that, but what it actually brings in the present life of a person. Muslims can have peace with God. They do not have it. They might think they do, but in reality,  they do not know where they stand with God.

The Christian needs to learn how to make a strong case for Christianity. 

It might be too much information, too difficult to grasp at the beginning, or intimidating, but God’s timings are prefect. If you only give God your heart, He will do amazing things through you. The first time I learned about Islam was seven years ago, and I cried because I was so confused about it. How come this Allah was the same God that I worshipped?

Little by little I began learning more and more about this. I am not an expert, but if I can learn, everybody can.

This post was so long… I’m sorry for that 😦

In short, do we – Muslims and Christians – worship the same God? No. I don’t think we do. But we have the opportunity of reaching out to our Muslim friends, and introduce them to who God really is 🙂

You might want to read Nabeel Qureshi’s opinion on the Wheaton’s College controversy.

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.


Allah or YHWH

I will always remember that it was a friendship what got me so interested in Islam.

I am still interested – more than before – but not for the same reasons I was at the beginning. In plain English, I am not converting to Islam. But as I mentioned before, you would benefit greatly from reading the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran. It would help you to grasp much better issues that will arise when having random conversations with your Muslim friends.


YHWH or ALLAH


Issues like WHO you pray to will arise, and you need to avoid confusion. My Muslimah asked me for God’s personal name the other day. She said “God” is just a general term, and that ALLAH is His personal name. As you can already imagine, the personal name of God is surrounded by plenty of controversies. I will try to explain this issue as much as I understand. This post is not exhaustive, but I hope to share some light into this subject.

The proper name of God in the Hebrew Bible is YHWH. Even Merriam-Webster defines the tetragrammaton YHWH as the biblical proper name of God. That proper name of God is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible an astounding number of  6,220 times. Actually, if you own a Bible, wherever you see the word LORD – all uppercases – that means YHWH. Unfortunately, we do not know how to pronounce it as the name was never spoken audibly. That name was regarded by the Jews as too sacred a name to be uttered out loud.

Now, concerning ALLAH, some Christian apologists say it is only the general word for God in Arabic, but not God’s proper name. Allah is in Arabic what Elohim would be in Hebrew – God in general. Elohim appears 2, 598 times in the Bible. The same goes for the Hebrew word Adonai – a master or Lord- which in Arabic would be Rabb.  Adonai appears 448 times in the Bible. I guess all this names are nice, but when it comes to PROPHECY, all the Prophets of God for Israel used the name YHWH. And the name YHWH is nowhere to be found in Quran.

This is actually one of the reasons why the Jews do not recognize Mohammad as a prophet for Israel. He might have been a prophet for his own people – the Arabs – but not a prophet for the Jews. The most important agreement was that Abraham was the father of both the Jews (through his son Isaac) and the Arabs (through his son Ishmael). But the chief disagreement came on the issue whether Mohammed was indeed the last of the prophets to be sent by God and that his word was the final revelation. The Jews found the idea unthinkable since prophecy had end long before, and the words of the Torah could never be superseded.

Further, Mohammad maintained that the Jews had distorted their own Bible: Abraham did not attempt to sacrifice Isaac to God at Mount Moriah, one of the hills of Jerusalem; rather, Abraham took Ishmael to Mecca, where he offered to sacrifice him to Allah on the Black Stone of Kaaba. So yeah, the Jews are also upset that Muslims claim their Hebrew Bible is corrupted.


WHERE TO BEGIN?


I think all this argument starts in Exodus 3:13-15, where God talks to Moses at the burning bush. In this chapter, we find God referring to Himself as I AM. It has been long supposed that the name YHWH was derived from the verb that is used to make I AM, namely היה (haya), meaning to be or to become, or rather from an older form and rare synonym of haya, namely הוה, hawa. Hence, y-hawa or Yahweh, the proper imperfect of the verb, rendered the name HE IS. 

When God tells Moses I AM, God is saying that He has no dependence upon any other. He was, He is and He will always be. God is self-existent and He is self-sufficient, therefore NOBODY can claim this name for Himself, but Himself. THIS IS HIS NAME and ONLY HIS NAME forever.

Do not get me wrong, but I know the God that I worship. I don’t care much for His proper name. I know God’s goodness in my life. I have seen His miracles worked out for my own good and the good of others. He has blessed me greatly. So for all I know, I can call Him by the name of Thomas, and He will answer me. I am not trying to be disrespectful to my Maker. But when I pray, He knows I am praying to Him. And ONLY Him. So I personally think it is a matter of conscience.

For a Muslim, it might be difficult to call God by the name of YHWH because from birth he has always heard God’s proper name is Allah. For an uninformed Christian living in the West, Allah might sound like the God of ISIS, so he would never dare pray to Allah. But Arab Christians say Allah is God. These Arab Christians sing to Allah, and worship Allah with full understanding that Allah is the Godhead of the Trinity, and Yasūʿ al-Masih [Jesus] as their Savior.


JESUS NEVER SAID, “I AM GOD, WORSHIP ME”


You got me right there. Jesus never said that literally, but His actions spoke more than His words.

  • God is the First and the Last. Quran 57:3 and Isaiah 44:6 agree with this statement. Then you see Jesus in the Book of Revelation 1:17-18 saying, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last”. 
  • Only God can forgive sins.  Jesus boldly forgave sins in Mark 2:5-7. What do you do with Jesus authority in light of  Quran 3:135 if only Allah can forgive sins?
  • Allah will resurrect those who are in their graves according to Quran 22:7.  Then you have Jesus saying He is the resurrection in John 11:25.
  • Allah is the Final Judge according to Quran 22:56-57. But Jesus also claimed to be the Final Judge in Matthew 25:31-32 as the Son of Man. This is the same Son of Man who will come with the clouds of heaven to judge the world according to the Prophet Daniel’s prophecy about Messiah.
  • In John 20:28, doubting Thomas says, “My Lord and My God” while referring to Jesus.
  • In Matthew 28:16-17, the eleven disciples worshipped (προσκυνέω) Jesus. They literally prostrated themselves in front of Jesus to kiss His Deity. The disciples bowed down to Jesus as Muslims bow down while doing rakaʿāt.

I AM – A BIG DEAL UNDER MOSAIC LAW


In John 8:48-58, the Jewish religious leaders are accusing Jesus of being possessed by a demon. Jesus replied that Abraham rejoiced at the fact of one day seeing Jesus’ day. The leaders then mocked Jesus saying He was not even fifty years old, and here He was claiming to have seen Abraham.


‘Very truly I tell you’, Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM!’  At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

John 8:58


Why were the Jewish religious leaders so upset about what Jesus said? They wanted to stone Him… Was it just because they did not personally like Him? Of course not! It was because of what Jesus was claiming to be. The I AM that Jesus mentioned here goes back directly to God’s own name that God can only claim for Himself. That name YHWH that God gave Moses in Exodus 3:14.

This was a blatant blasphemy for any Jew in Jesus’ time. Jesus was claiming to be YHWH. Such a statement was punishable by death under Mosaic Law. That is why they grabbed the stones. They literally wanted to kill Him. From a legal standpoint, though, the Jews could not execute a person by stoning anymore, for the Romans had taken from them the option of implementing capital punishment directly (John 18:31). The Jews were required to go through the Roman judicial system for executions, and for a non-Roman, that meant crucifixion.

This sheds a lot of light in my research of non-Christian sources to provide evidence that Jesus actually died on the cross. There are plenty. I will write about each one individually because this is one of my main interests lately.


Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, “He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whosoever has anything to say in his defense, let him come and declare it.” As nothing was brought forward in his defense, he was hanged on Passover Eve.

Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin (43a)


What apostasy was Jesus leading Israel into? Obviously His claims to be God. He claimed to be YHWH. Even the commentary of the Quran that I am reading (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali) acknowledges the fact that the Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy as claiming to be God (note 395). And the sorcery? Well, the Jewish leaders were ascribing Jesus’ miracles to the power of demons.

But as I see it, Jesus talked like He was God. Jesus acted like He was God. And Jesus gave evidence for claiming this authority rightfully. Although Jesus never uttered the words I AM GOD, I believe His real identity is established by the proof that He gave. After all the evidence, why would Jesus have to give anybody a statement? If people are open for the truth, they will recognize this evidence. Those who ignore this evidence won’t even be convinced if Jesus were to add the statement they demand from Him.

When in doubt ask YHWH. ALLAH promises to be found when you seek Him with all your heart 🙂

Judah – Part 1

I wish I could tell you I know everything that there is to know about the Bible. I have read the New Testament several times, and the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) at least once. But I don’t think that is enough. It will never be enough for me. Reading the whole Bible does not make anyone an expert on faith matters. It definitely does not mean someone has more understanding of spiritual things.

When it comes to revelation, I believe God is the only One who graciously gives it. You don’t have to be the pope, or a preacher, or a priest or an imam to relate to God. God gives wisdom generously to ALL without finding fault, if they ask for it. If you ask TRUTHFULLY, do not doubt when the answer comes. 


“This is not the word of God. It is corrupted Scripture. I read the book of Genesis last night, and it is a history book, not Scripture. Some of it should not even be mentioned, like Lot getting drunk and impregnating his daughters.”

– Ibrahim


Ibrahim’s comment reveals a significant divergence between the Quran and the Bible. As far as I understand, Muslims believe that every word in the Quran is an exact copy of a heavenly original. Christians do not believe that the New Testament is a replica of a Scripture in heaven, but rather that it is inspired by God. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. Even the Torah, which quotes many passages in God’s name, never asserts complete divinity. Of course the Bible has a human component, but that doesn’t make it less sacred.

There are plenty of literary styles within the whole Bible – both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Knowing the context and understanding the style of a particular paragraph or book will help us to grasp much better what is being said. This is of utmost importance for me, as I would like to narrate what led me to make the decision to follow Jesus. In the words of Al Fadi, I am embracing Jesus as presented in the Bible even if He is a figment of my own imagination.


So what are some of the literary styles presented in the Bible?

In Psalm 91:4, we have a good example of POETRY.

God shall cover you with His feathers,

and under His wings you shall take refuge

You should not understand this verse literally. That would be a very dangerous thing. Are you seriously implying that God is an eagle? Of course not. Something very similar happens with Numbers 23:19, which is a perfect example of PROPHECY.

God is not a man, that He should lie;

nor a human being, that He should change his mind

Obviously this verse is by far one that Muslim and Jewish apologists use to deny the possibility that God became flesh in Jesus. But this passage in the Torah has to be read within the whole context of Numbers 23.

Balak, King of Moab, is trying to put a curse on the Jewish people by hiring a false prophet (Balaam). When Balaam tries to prophesy against Israel, he is not able to do it. Actually, he ends up blessing the nation. King Balak gets upset, and asks Balaam to curse them a second time. It is ONLY in this second prophecy that God is not a man makes sense.


Arise, Balak [King of Moab], and listen;
God is not human, that He should lie,
not a human being, that He should change his mind.
Does He speak and then not act?
Does He promise and not fulfill?
I have received a command to bless;
He has blessed, and I cannot change it.

No misfortune is seen in Jacob,
no misery observed in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them;
the shout of the King is among them.

There is no divination against Jacob,
no evil omens against Israel.

– Balaam.


In the context of PROPHECY, the false prophet Balak is telling King Balaam something like this, “Listen, Balak, God is not like you, human beings. He doesn’t lie like a human does, and He doesn’t change His mind like a human does. He has decided to bless Israel and He will continue to bless Israel.  So no matter how much you want me to curse them, I cannot do it because God will not let me”.

God is not done with Israel, you see. He loves them dearly.

You’d better not mess with Israel.

Another literary style used in the New Testament, for example, is EPISTLES. These are letters that were written for a particular church or individual by the apostle Paul, and often addressed several topics. These letters were written with a familiarity of the problems being discussed, and with an apostolic tone of authority. Examples of these are the letters to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, etc.

We also have GENEALOGIES in the Bible. They document family lineages. These lists of names cover many generations (sometimes even skipping generations) showing lines of descent over many centuries at times. Genesis 5, for example, provides us with the genealogy from Adam to Noah.

We also have PARABLES, which are stories used to illustrate a single point. I personally believe Jesus was the Rock Star of Parables. The Prodigal Son really speaks to my heart. It talks about a forgiving Father whose character remains constant throughout the story. The Father represents God. The younger son symbolizes the lost souls, and the elder brother represents those who are self-righteous – thinking their good deeds will be enough to please God. The meaning is so deep that entire books have been written about that parable alone. If you would like to read more into it, you can see a more detailed explanation here.

PROVERBS and WISDOM styles are short statements of truth for common and general rules of life (which have exceptions). Proverbs 20:9, for example, asks the rhetorical question,

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? 

The answer , of course, is NO ONE.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE is another literary style within the Bible. These are factual accounts written in prose of what happened at a certain time and place and involve people, nations, and events. The writers of these historical records often did not make judgments on what was happening. They only reported what actually occurred – both good and bad. When making judgments, historical narratives must be viewed and interpreted in the full light of Scripture. Examples of these are the Book of Joshua, the Book of Acts, etc.

Much of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah) is statutory in nature, written in LAW style. Old Testament laws are worth understanding as they show us what God required of His people. Although many of the laws are no longer applicable (such as priestly laws), they still teach us what God is like, and help us understand what He desires of us. Specially for me, as a Gentile, they are very important as I worship the God of the Jewish nation.

As I said before, I am not an expert in Bible matters, so there might be more literary styles that I am not aware of. Something is true though, God always communicated with His people through prophets. Jews, Muslims and Christians are always at odds with one prophet in particular: Jesus. Jews hold Jesus as a false prophet and a false Messiah. Muslims uphold him as an only-human prophet, but still THE Messiah.

Christians uphold Jesus not as a Messiah, but THE Messiah (There have been some fake messiahs in history, believe or not).

While it is true that Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D., Jesus himself said that John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come. After Elijah came, there would be no need for any more prophets. If the LAW and the Prophets prophesied until John, what do we do with Jesus? What do we do Muhammad?

According to the Prophet Malachi, when that Elijah came, the Messiah would follow shortly after. And the Messiah would bring reconciliation. Messiah would bring a new covenant between man and God, according to the Prophet Jeremiah. Not a covenant like the one God made with Israel – no more laws. God’s laws will be written in our hearts. And God would forgive our sins, and remember them no more.

How is that possible? What are these prophecies about? There are more prophecies about the role of Messiah, by the way.


On the way Jesus asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.

But what about you?, Jesus asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’


As you read the Hebrew Bible, The New Testament and the Quran, you will have to face the question that has intrigued millions of people for two thousand years. I understand the challenges of that. When you come to an answer – whatever that is- I pray that your answer is based on you reading about these matters, and seeking God with an open heart.

Who do YOU say Jesus is?