Monday, December 28, 2015

Why Thomas Aquinas Distrusted Islam

Just as I was quoting Hilaire Belloc on Islam in my previous post, Breitbart ran this brief but cogent article citing the great Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas' views on this subject, which is once again timely after 800 years.

From Breitbart:
Why Thomas Aquinas Distrusted Islam

(by THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.  27 Dec 2015)

The 13th-century scholar Thomas Aquinas, regarded as one of the most eminent medieval philosophers and theologians, offered a biting critique of Islam based in large part on the questionable character and methods of its founder, Mohammed. 
According to Aquinas, Islam appealed to ignorant, brutish, carnal men and spread not by the power of its arguments or divine grace but by the power of the sword.
Aquinas, a keen observer of the human condition, was familiar with the chief works of the Muslim philosophers of his day–including Avicenna, Algazel, and Averroes–and engaged them in his writings.
Since Islam was founded and spread in the seventh century, Aquinas—considered by Catholics as a saint and doctor of the Church—lived in a period closer to that of Mohammed than to our own day.
In one of his most significant works, the voluminous Summa contra gentiles, which Aquinas wrote between 1258 and 1264 AD, the scholar argued for the truth of Christianity against other belief systems, including Islam.
Aquinas contrasts the spread of Christianity with that of Islam, arguing that much of Christianity’s early success stemmed from widespread belief in the miracles of Jesus, whereas the spread of Islam was worked through the promise of sensual pleasures and the violence of the sword.
Mohammad, Aquinas wrote, “seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure.”
Such an offer, Aquinas contended, appealed to a certain type of person of limited virtue and wisdom.
“In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men,” he wrote. “As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.”
Because of the weakness of Islam’s contentions, Aquinas argued, “no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning.” Instead, those who believed in him “were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms.”
Islam’s violent methods of propagation were especially unconvincing to Aquinas, since he found that the use of such force does not prove the truth of one’s claims, and are the means typically used by evil men.
“Mohammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms,” Aquinas wrote, “which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.”
At the time Aquinas was writing, Islam was generally considered a Christian heresy, since it drew so heavily on Christian texts and beliefs. Aquinas wrote that Mohammed “perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law.”
According to the noted historian Hilaire Belloc, Islam “began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was—not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.”
In his Summa contra gentiles, Aquinas ends his argument against Islam by offering a backhanded compliment to Mohammed, noting that he had to keep his followers ignorant in order for them to remain faithful.
It was, Aquinas wrote, “a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity.”
“It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly,” he wrote.
Many thanks to Dr. Williams for making contemporary readers aware of Aquinas' insights.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hilaire Belloc's Prophetic Words about Islam

The words of Roman Catholic writer, Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), writing in the early 20th century, when Christianity was the world's predominant religion and Islam was at a critical low, now seem prophetic in the light of current events.  Consider these quotes from chapter five of Belloc's book, Survivals and New Arrivals and from chapter four of The Great Heresies,"The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed":
"Islam presents a totally different problem from that attached to any other religious body opposed to Catholicism.  To understand it we must appreciate its origins, character and recent fate.  Only then can we further appreciate its possible or probable future relations with enemies of the Catholic effort throughout the world." 

"When the man who produced it (and it is more the creation of one man than any other false religion we know) was young, the whole of the world which he knew...was Catholic.  It was still, though in the process of transformation, the Christian Roman Empire, stretching from the English Channel to the borders of his own desert."  
"Now what Mohamet did was this.  He took over the principal doctrines of the Catholic Church--one personal God, Creator of all things; the immortality of the soul; an eternity of misery or blessedness--and no small part of Christian morals as well...  But at the same time he attempted an extreme simplification." 

"Many another heresiarch has done this, throwing overboard such and such too profound doctrines, and appealing to the less intelligent by getting rid of mysteries through a crude denial of them.  
"With the energy of his personality behind that highly simplified, burning enthusiasm, he first inflamed his own few desert folk, and they in turn proceeded to impose their new enthusiasm very rapidly over vast areas of what had been until then a Catholic civilization; and their chief allies in this sweeping revolution were politically the doctrine of equality and spiritually the doctrine of simplicity.  Everybody troubled by the mysteries of Catholicism tended to join them; so did every slave or debtor who was oppressed by the complexity of a higher civilization.  
"For centuries the struggle between Islam and the Catholic Church continued.  It had varying fortunes, but for something like a thousand years the issue remained doubtful.  It was not until the year 1700 that Christian culture seemed for a time-- to be definitely the master.  
"During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Mohammedan world fell under a kind of palsy...  At last by the end of the nineteenth century, more than nine-tenths of the Mohammedan population of the world...had fallen under the government of nominally Christian nations, especially of England and France." 
"Millions of modern people of the white civilization--that is, the civilization of Europe and America--have forgotten all about Islam.  They have never come in contact with it.  They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them.  It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past." 
"On this account our generation came to think of Islam as something naturally subject to ourselves.  We no longer regarded it as a rival to our own culture, we thought of its religion as a sort of fossilized thing about which we need not trouble."  
"That was almost certainly a mistake.  We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future.  Perhaps if we lose our faith it will rise."  
"Remember that our Christian civilization is in peril of complete breakdown.  An enemy would say that it is living upon its past; and certainly those who steadfastly hold its ancient Catholic doctrine stand on guard as it were in a state of siege; they are a minority both in power and in numbers.  Upon such a state of affairs a steadfast, permanent, convinced, simple philosophy and rule of life, intensely adhered to, and close at hand, may now that the various sections of the world are so much interpenetrating one and the other, be of effect. 
"We must remember that the subjection of the Mohammedan --a purely political subjection --was accomplished by nothing more subtle or enduring than a superiority in weapons and mechanical invention.  We must further remember that this superiority dates from a very short time ago." 
"A little more and there will cease that which our time has taken for granted, the physical domination of Islam by the disintegrated Christendom we know."
As Belloc predicted, a radical and militant Islam has arisen to fill the void left by Christianity's decline and the decadence of the West.  The ultimate answer to the threat of Islam from within or without the United States is not primarily a military solution; it is a spiritually renewed and virtuous people who believe and live their lives with faith in Jesus Christ.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

[CORRECTION:] Is the Pope Catholic?

Well, it appears that, according to Snopes, the quotation below, attributed to Pope Francis is a fake. 
“Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah.  These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world.  For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths.  This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith.  Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is to respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by.  We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now.  No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God.”
Read the rest (from the website that posted the fake quote!)
However, I am struck by the fact that, if you read my previous post about the professor at Wheaton college who is wearing a hijab during the season of Advent, she also believed the Pope said we all worship the same God.  To quote Professor Hawkins again:
"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.  And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God," Hawkins stated.   
The great tragedy is that, given the rise of an uncritical, unthinking pluralism among so much of establishment Christianity, it was entirely believable that Pope Francis could have said the words falsely attributed to him.  After all, a professor at Wheaton College bought this line of thinking to the point she started wearing a hijab and got suspended for itShe may well have read the same fake quote that I did and said to herself, "Yup, sounds good to me!"

So the rest of what I had to say about the theological issues at stake when trying to say that Christianity and Islam are compatible still applies.  Professor Hawkins, quoted this sentiment approvingly in order to gloss over the differences between Christianity and Islam, and, in doing so, is engaging in universalism and syncretism that diminish and even deny the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel. 

Which is all the more reason to cite Pope John Paul II, who, while being very impressed by the religiosity of Muslims, nevertheless wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope,
Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation.  It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son.  In Islam all the richness of God's self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside. 
Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us.  Islam is not a religion of redemption.  There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection.  Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad.  There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent.  For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity. 
That the revelation of God through his Son has been "set aside," as John Paul says, is seen in verses from the Koran such as these,
  • “The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle . . .God is but one God. GOD FORBID THAT HE SHOULD HAVE A SON!” (4:171)
  • Those who say: “The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son, preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack . . .” (19:88)
  • “Praise be to Allah who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom . . .” (17:111)
The challenge of Islam to both Christianity and Judaism is seen even more clearly when one considers the construction of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque (completed in AD 691 and 705, respectively) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which was a popular site for Christian pilgrimage in the Byzantine era, thus precluding Jewish worship at Judaism's holiest site, while, at the same time, challenging Christianity with words emblazoned in Arabic on both buildings: “God has no Son.”  In the very place where God says his Son's throne will be established (Psalm 2:6, 10-12), Islam challenges the very existence of the Son and the reality of the promise.

Pope Benedict XVI invited controversy when he said, regarding Islam, "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The early 20th century Roman Catholic author,  Hilaire Belloc, was prophetic in predicting: “We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future.  Perhaps if we lose our faith, it will rise.”

I plan on posting more quotes from Belloc later this week because his warnings are prescient.  And while most of the world would rejoice at the prospect of genuine peace between Christians and Muslims, naïveté and bad theology in the face of a radical and aggressive Islam are not the way to achieve that end.


The Hijab-wearing Wheaton College Professor: Why It Matters

Last week Wheaton College Associate Professor of Political Science, Larycia Hawkins, announced that she would wear a hijab — a Muslim headscarf — during the season of Advent.  Controversy ensued in the evangelical world and the professor has since been suspended.

While I am a strong supporter of both the freedom of speech and academic freedom, I applaud Wheaton College's decision.  An academic institution such as Wheaton, if it is to continue to be considered an evangelical Christian school, must be clear about the uniqueness of the Christian faith.  Prof. Hawkins' decision about wearing the hijab and her comments in defense of it raise a number of very serious theological issues

Hawkins made her announcement on her Facebook page, saying her outward gesture — she’ll don the hijab everywhere she goes during Advent — is a demonstration of “human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor.”

Larycia Hawkins (Image source: Facebook)

"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book.  And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God," Hawkins stated.  "But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all.  Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity."

“As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport, and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws, and at church,” Hawkins said, adding that she hopes others will join her cause.

Hawkins said she also sought the “advice and blessing” of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to make sure her gesture wouldn’t be “haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims.” Well, it was all good with CAIR, she said.

One would hope that even political science professors at Wheaton College, long considered a bastion of evangelical Christian higher education, would have a better understanding of the religious and theological issues involved in such a statement.

The God of the Christian New Testament is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ--the First Person of an eternal Trinity, which consists of one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The eternal Second Person of that Trinity, the Son, became incarnate as Jesus, the Christ, through being conceived in the Virgin Mary by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  This same Jesus died as an atonement for sin, rose bodily on the third day and ascended to the right hand of God the Father, from whence he shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

This is the teaching of the New Testament and the witness of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.  And herein lies the problem: Islam completely and absolutely denies and rejects everything about this description of God.  Consequently, the Allah of Islam and the God of biblical Christianity cannot possibly be the same.

We all too often hear it said that Christians Jews and Muslims are all "people of the book."  People of what book?  Just as the Allah of Islam is not the God confessed by orthodox Christians and Jews, the Koran is totally incompatible with the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  The Koran mentions Jesus but denies that he is God's Son and that he died and rose again.  Indeed, the Koran denies the cardinal teachings of the New Testament concerning Jesus and corrupts the teaching of the Old Testament concerning Abraham to the extent that the teaching of Islam can only be accurately described as apostasy from the teaching of Judaism and Christianity.

So, no, despite the attempt of some religious leaders to equate "the three Abrahamic faiths" and to say that they are compatible, they are not.  Christian - Muslim relations will not be helped by blurring the distinction between the two religious but rather by being very candid and truthful about the differences.  Wheaton College is taking a very clear and necessary step in that direction.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

After Muslim Truckers Refuse to Deliver Beer, Obama Administration Sues... Their Employer!!!!

[Verified on Truth or Fiction:]

The administration of Barack Obama just sided with Muslims to enforce Islamic Sharia Law on an American business, leaving many outraged and two Fox News anchors absolutely stunned.

Two Muslim truck drivers — former Somali “refugees” — refused to make deliveries of beer to stores for their employer.  So they were understandably fired.  They claimed it was a violation of their religious beliefs — even though Islam bars only the consumption of alcohol.  And, as the employer pointed out, the workers knew they would have to deliver alcohol before they took the job.

So guess what Barack Obama did.  He SUED the employers on behalf of the pair, Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale, claiming religious discrimination.

Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) represented them in the case, providing tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal support, judicial filings and court appearances against the employer who was hopelessly outgunned by the Federal government.

And this week the Muslims were awarded a stunning $240,000 by a jury, presided over by an Obama appointee who stunned analysts by allowing the case to go forward at all.

Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly and Andrew Napolitano were flabbergasted:

“The Obama administration actually represented the two Muslims in this case.  But has sometimes taken a very different position in the case of Christians trying to assert their religious beliefs.”

She then said to Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano:  “So in the case of the Muslim truck drivers, the Obama administration through the EEOC is all in.  This is what they said: ‘We are proud to support the rights of workers to equal treatment in the workplace without having to sacrifice their religious beliefs or practices; it’s fundamental to the American principles of religious freedom and tolerance.’  But when it comes to the Christian bakers, it’s not as fundamental.”

Napolitano was equally perplexed:  “That’s correct.  It’s unfortunate when the government interferes in a private dispute over religious views, and takes sides, and chooses one religion over another.”   To their point, the Christian owners of “Melissa’s Sweet Cakes” were fined $135,000 by the state of Oregon for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.  And Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Napolitano offered an explanation for the administration’s interest in the Muslim truck driver case:  “The way the feds intervened … they wanted this case because they wanted to make the point that they've now made.”

The U.S. Government and the courts can't legally have one set of laws for Christians and another set of laws for Muslims and other religious groups.  But now they do.  Obama’s actions and this court’s ruling makes it clear that not all Americans are legally recognized as possessing religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

As George Orwell might put it, Obama has now established that Muslims are more equal than Christians in America.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots

Often attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, but actually first published by Fritz Edmunds, who posted it to his "Politically True" blog back on 3 February 2013 (albeit with a disclaimer noting that "some of the ideas were from an e-mail that did not contain any copyright"):

If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders [Muslim Brotherhood] in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If an 80-year-old woman who is confined to a wheelchair or a three-year-old girl can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.​