Tuesday, April 1, 2014

'Jesus Is Muslim' and 'Mohammad is in the Bible' Billboards appear in Ohio

Will Christians do more than merely protest, and use this as a 'Teachable Moment'? (Story reported at Christian Post.)

Order the book.
This is exactly the sort of false Islamic teaching I refute in my book, Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad.

No Christian, least of all an Orthodox Christian, should be swayed or confused by such claims, which are easily proven to be both theologically and historically false. So let's explore the claims of these billboards.

Here is an excerpt from the conclusion of my chapter, 'Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?', which features an extensive quote from Dr Mark Durie's book, Revelation - Do We Worship the Same God? (now revised and re-published under the title Which God? Jesus, Holy Spirit, God in Christianity and Islam):

[The Muslim position is expressed] in this quote from Shamim A. Siddiqi, author of the Muslim proselytizing guide, Methodology of Dawah:
"Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were all prophets of Islam. Islam is the common heritage of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim community of America, and establishing the kingdom of God on earth is the joint responsibility of all three Abrahamic faiths. Islam was the din (faith, way of life) of both Jews and Christians, who later lost it through human innovations. Now the Muslims want to remind their Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters of their original din. These are the facts of history." (Shamim A. Siddiqi, Letter to the Editor, Daniel Pipes, February 2002)

To assess this blasphemous Islamic revisionist teaching, we offer the following passages by Dr. Mark Durie, to whose insightful work, Revelation? Do We Worship the Same God?, we have already referred in elucidating key points in this chapter:

"This historical negationism — appearing to affirm Christianity and Judaism whilst in fact rejecting and supplanting them — is a lynchpin of Muslim apologetics. What is being affirmed is in fact neither Christianity nor Judaism, but Jesus as a prophet of Islam, Abraham as a Muslim, Moses as a Muslim, etc. This is intended to lead to ‘reversion’ of Christians and Jews to Islam, which is what Siddiqi refers to when he speaks of ‘the joint responsibility’ of Jews and Christians to establish ‘the Kingdom of God’. By this he is asserting that American Christians and Jews should embrace Islam and work together to establish Sharia law and the dominance of Islam in the United States. 

A Different Gospel
"Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, warns believers of the danger of abandoning the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
'I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be anathema!' (Gal 1:6-8).

"It is quite clear that the Injil, as described by the Koran, is nothing but a ‘different gospel’. The prophet Isa (Jesus) of the Koran is a product of fable, imagination and ignorance. When Muslims venerate this Isa, they are far removed from Yeshua, the Jesus of the Bible and of history... For most faithful Muslims Isa is the only Jesus they know. But if you accept this Muslim ‘Jesus’, and his ‘gospel’, then you also accept the Koran, and you accept Islam...

"By Islamicising [the true Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus of history] and making of him a Muslim prophet who preached the Koran, Islamic orthodoxy would destroy Christianity and take over its history. It does the same to Judaism...

Order the book.

"The traditional Islamic view is that if you want to know what the God of the Bible is like, then read the Koran. Not only must Muslims believe that ‘we worship the same God’, but this message is always a central component of the presentation of Islam to Christians and Jews.

"[This message] provides the lynchpin of Muslims’ efforts to convert the ‘People of the Book’ to the faith of Muhammad. In addition, this belief, once accepted, can lead Christians to support Islamic perspectives in ways other than conversion. For example, embracing this Islamic doctrine wins a measure of respect and even support for Islam from Christians." (Durie, Revelation, pp 50-51, 75-76.)

The god of this world would like nothing better than to lull unsuspecting Christians into accepting the lie that the “god” of Islam is the same as the True God proclaimed and worshipped in the fullness of Orthodox Christianity. This is the cornerstone of Islam’s mission (dawah) to co-opt, undermine and weaken Christianity, and ultimately convert the “People of the Book” to its false religion. The Same God Heresy is thus a Theological Trojan Horse, putting forth a Different Gospel and a False Jesus, and containing within it forces that would nullify, neuter and eventually destroy Christianity... (Sidway, Facing Islam, pp 84-86.)

Regarding Muhammad being in the Bible, this is also a demonstrably false Muslim claim based on a radical twisting of the scriptures, and an absurd theory that the New Testament was distorted by Christians before the coming of Muhammad to remove the references to Muhammad. I present numerous refutations to the 'Muhammad in the Bible' claim also in Facing Islam, but here is a short excerpt regarding the historically proven manuscript evidence:

Muslims are taught specifically that Muhammad is prophesied about in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and this is augmented by charges that those very scriptures have been corrupted to remove the true Islamic teaching (the Islamic doctrine of tahriff).

i. Prophecies of Muhammad in the Old Testament?
Muslim claims of tahriff obscuring the true Islamic message in the original Hebrew Scriptures were decisively disproved by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1947. These Old Testament manuscripts were dated to ca. 150 B.C., essentially a thousand years earlier than the next oldest OT manuscripts dating from 900 A.D. and were essentially identical to them. The Septuagint (abbrev. LXX) translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Koine Greek between the third and first centuries B.C. further confirms the textual consistency of the Scriptures as it has been used by the Orthodox Church from the Day of Pentecost, once again the Dead Sea Scrolls corroborating the closeness of the LXX text with the Masoretic... 

ii. Prophecies of Muhammad in the New Testament?
Muslim attempts to prove that Muhammad was prophesied by Jesus as the “messenger to come” are based on these passages in the Gospel According to St John:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Greek: Parakletos], that He may abide with you forever” (Jn 14:16).

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [Greek: Parakletos] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (Jn 16:7).

Muslim apologists would have us believe that the New Testament was corrupted so as to eradicate the prophecies about Muhammad. They claim that the true Greek word in these verses should be Periklytos, not Parakletos. Periklytos may be translated as “glorious,” so Muslims argue that it refers to Muhammad (spoken of in Sura 61:6 as Ahmad), whose name means “the praised [or glorious] one.” This is of course absurd, but it is educational for us to turn to the actual manuscript evidence, which is undeniable. 
The Bodmer Papyrus Fragment, #p75,
showing John 14:9-26a, with the Greek
word 'Parakletos' in verses 16 & 16.
There are, in fact, over seventy existing Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, all of which date from well before the time of Muhammad, and all of which prove that the original Greek word used in John 14:16, 14:26 and 16:7 is Parakletos. Two of the oldest manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus (mid 4th c.)81 and Codex Alexandrinus (late 4th or early 5th c.) are actually housed in the British Museum in London and may be examined. The oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament, Codex Vaticanus (early 4th c.) likewise confirms the use of Parakletos in these verses. The even more ancient Bodmer Papyrus fragment of St. John’s Gospel (ca. 200 A.D.) also verifies the use of Parakletos in Chapter 14: 16, 26...

Who is the Parakletos?
Beyond the physical manuscript evidence, we note that the coming of the Holy Spirit is prophesied by name all through the Gospels and in Acts (eg., Jn 1:33, Jn 7:39, Mt 28:19, Acts 1:4-5). He quite clearly cannot be a man. He—the Holy Spirit, the Parakletos—is a Someone far greater with a specific ministry and mission. In the context of St. John’s Gospel alone we see this quite clearly: 

He is not a mere human person:
  • “He will abide with you forever” (Jn 14:16).
  • “He will be the Spirit of Truth” (Jn 14:17).
  • “He dwells with you and will abide in you” (Jn 14:17).
He will testify to Jesus Christ:
  • "The Father will send [Him] in My [Jesus’] name” (Jn 14:26).
  • “He will glorify Me” (Jn 16:14).
  • “[He] will remind you of everything I have said to you” (Jn 14:26).

Conclusively, in one single verse the person of the Holy Spirit is specifically identified as the Parakletos, the Helper: “But the Helper [Parakletos], the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). 
Decisively, the universal witness of the Church from the days of Christ to the present testifies to the correct understanding of just who is the Helper, the Parakletos. And, as we know, since the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ and takes of what is Christ’s and makes it known to His disciples, therefore any teacher or “prophet” who denies Jesus Christ, who goes against the revelation given by Christ, who disputes or contradicts the teachings of Christ—all of which is embodied and lived by the Orthodox Church—is of the spirit of antichrist. St. Gregory Palamas made the same point in the form of a rhetorical question in repudiating his Muslim captors:

"The Evangelist says, ‘Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God’ (1 Jn 4:3a). How shall we accept a book [the Koran] that says there shall come one [Muhammad] from God, who is not actually the Lord, when the Evangelist declares, that one is not from God, if he does not confess that Jesus, Who has come in the flesh, is the Lord? This is not possible to do—no it is not."  (Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos, The Life of Gregory Palamas, p. 369.)

St. Gregory does not cite the last portion of 1 Jn 4:3 (“This is the spirit of Antichrist”), but his point is emphatically made. The Apostle Paul likewise counters this spirit and speaks prophetically to the claims of Muhammad in his second letter to the Corinthians, where he repudiates false apostles:

But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Cor 11:12-15).

In condemning those whom he sarcastically calls ‘super apostles’ (2 Cor 11:5), St Paul condemns Muhammad (and all like him), whose motives are not pure, not love of God and neighbor, but who rather abuse others and exalt themselves so as to profit:

For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face (2 Cor 11:19-20).

We must not be reluctant to assert that the strongest proof against Muslim claims that either (1) Muhammad was prophesied about in the Old or New Testaments, or (2) the Hebrews and Christians deliberately distorted their scriptures thus expunging the Islamic teaching, is the integrity of the Apostolic witness, which translates into the very continuity of the living witness of the Mind of Christ, the mind of the Fathers, the mind of the Holy Orthodox Church. Holy Tradition, which we know to be the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church, knows nowhere of any teaching of “a Prophet” to arise after Christ. True prophets have arisen and will continue to be born from within the womb of the Church, but these are believers in Jesus Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the witness of their holy life and Orthodox faith testifies that they are true followers of Jesus Christ and worthy to be heard.

Orthodox Christians must become much more energized in evangelism in America, and use such opportunities to present the True Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, perhaps especially to Muslims. Muslims of good conscience, who are seeking to better know the True God, show themselves to be hungry for the Word, He Who Is, the Way, the Truth and the Life!

What liberation awaits them, once they are set free from the tyranny of Muhammad and his false belief system! Christians must not only be able to share the saving and freeing truth about Jesus Christ and the divine destiny of humankind, but must be bold enough to warn Muslims against their prophet, who fits the definition of a "false prophet" perfectly, his life and example prompting St John of Damascus to describe Islam as a "heresy," and as the "forerunner of the antichrist."

I invite Muslims reading this post to visit my new page, Especially for Muslims, and to visit the Conversion Stories of Muslims over at Journey to Orthodoxy.

We await you with open arms!