Friday, August 14, 2009

Muhammad and the Arabs just did not get a credible Biblical and Evangelical witness

David wrote:
As for the presence of Nicene and Chalcedonian Christianity in Arabia in the 6th and early 7th century, it is my understanding that Arabia was a haven for non-Orthodox sects—am I correct on this?

I don't think there was much Chalcedonian Christianity in Arabia at all, but there was Trinitarian Christianity from the Monophysites and Nestorians (they both agreed with the Nicean and Constantinople councils and the doctrine of the Trinity) around the borders of Arabia. There was maybe some in extreme North Arabia where Saudi Arabia and Jordan are today; Muhammad and others came into contact with that in Palestine and Syria along the caravan routes. The lack of Biblical evangelism and missions set up a vacuum for more false doctrines, heresies, and eventually a new religion.

As Richard Bell notes, “Coming now a little nearer to the actual cradle of Islam, . . . In a way the existence of a Christian Church here belongs to the Christian encirclement of Arabia rather than to the history of Christianity in Arabia itself.” (emphasis mine)

(Richard Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment. London: MacMillan, 1926, republished in 1968, The Edinburgh University Lectures, p. 33; available on line at: http://www.muhammadanism.org/bell/origin/p032.htm

Najran in the south, and Yemen had mixtures of Monophysite and later, some Nestorian churches were established.

Najran Christianity was completely wiped out by Islam later and Yemen also eventually.

My point is that Muhammad could not distinguish between the Monophysites, Nestorians, Chalcedonians, and Apocryphal Gnostic sects, desert monks, ascetics, and the Collyridians (if they got that idea from them); -- they could not distinguish between them because of the Marian practices, images, bowing before icons, prayers to Mary, and calling her "the Mother of the God". It was a bad witness and lack of evangelical missions on the Orthodox part; combined with the heretics who were exiled to the frontiers. Cults and heresies grew up and new religions are started from a lack of outreach and witness.

The early Christian dialogues with Muslim Caliphs, Nestorian Timothy (780 -820 AD), John of Damascus, defender of icons (born 676 – died 754 ? – last years in Palestine), Al Kindy, (813-833 ?) apology during the reign of Al Ma’amun to name a few of the more famous ones, came later than the earlier days of Muhammad and the influences on the founding of Islam. The damage had been done by the lack of outreach and sound doctrine centuries before; and the presence of Apocryphal gospels, heretical sects and nominal Christians; and what Muhammad and early Arabs perceived from the Marian piety, practices, and growing defense of doctrines that would later become dogmas, like the Perpetual Virginity and Assumption, which John of Damascus defended. (Gnostic and apocryphal writings such as the Protoevangelium of James; the Odes of Solomon, and the Ascension of Isaiah were being used to support the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. (see Mary- Another Redeemer?. James R. White. Bethany, 1998, p. 33.) For more on details on the Protoevangelium of James, see several of Turretinfan's blog posts:
http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/08/protoevangelium-of-james-question-of.html


The heresies of the Collyridians and Gnostics and Arians were certainly worse than Nestorians and Monophysites. The Al Kindy apology has some controversy behind it, as to whether all that we have today was there originally, or was it edited and added to over the centuries. Many of the first historians and administrators for the Arab Muslims in conquered eastern parts of Byzantine and in Mesopotamia were Nestorian or Monophysite or Byzantine/Chalcedonian. They seem to be very nominal and not really converted; as they helped compile a lot of the early records of Islam, especially from Damascus and Baghdad. The apparent contradictions in the Qur’an and the Haddith about Jesus and the credibility of the previous Scriptures (Torah, Zabor, and Injeel) point to what seems to be a later redaction. (“Zabor” – Psalms of David; “Injeel” = Gospel of Jesus Al Masih)

If the Muslim Hadiths are truly credible about Warqa Bin Naufal; a “hanif”, ‘a seeker of the true religion of Abraham”; then it is hard to know what kind of a “Christian” he was, for he encouraged Muhammad that he was a prophet of God for his people. Warqa was the cousin of Khadija, the first wife of Mohammad.
When the revelation came to Muhammad at the cave of Hira, He was shaken with fear, came to his wife and told her of what had happened.

She took him to her cousin Warqa bin Naufal who was a reputed to be someone who knew the previous Scriptures and the Hebrew language, and had embraced Christianity. After hearing from Mohammad what has happened on the mountain of Hira, he said that was the Angel Gabriel, who had always brought revelation to the Messengers of God before him. Warqa Bin Naufal died shortly after this.

As a preacher I heard on this subject in 1979 said, "Too bad Warqa did not have a gospel tract for Muhammad! Never under-estimate someone coming to you for spiritual guidance!" (Rev. Ian North, "A Christian Response to Islam")

For more details on that; and some controversy over the truth of the history of the Islamic sources, see:

http://www.answering-islam.org/Index/W/waraqa.html

24 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

What I find so amusing is that you say that Muslims were misled by Christians worshiping images and so forth, yet you do not even realize that Muslims themselves do the very same things. Have you not heard of the Black Stone, which they kiss at the Kaaba? The Muslims were not confused or mislead by Christians or the use of sacred images. They have similar customs of their own. They talk out of both sides of their mouths. They do not claim to be worshiping the Black Stone which they try to kiss at Kaaba. I think you are grasping at straws here to try and further your heretical iconoclastic mentality. Read Saint John Damascene and others of his time to see what the Muslims really believed soon after the establishment of Islam.

Ken said...

Matthew,
Yes, Muslims do that stuff and Sufi and other groups in Islam violate their own religion even worse. The kissing of the black stone at the Kaaba and circling it seven times, indeed is pretty idolatrous looking; I will grant you that. That may be a case of not officially encouraged, but not discouraged either. But, as you can see in the article I link below, Sahih Al Bukhari reports that Muhammad himself kissed the black stone and so Muslims are following his example.

But, if I am not mistaken, they have in recent years had to encase the black stone and tell Muslims to stop doing that, because over the years it has been worn down so much.

Their answer to that is that the black stone is not an image of a person or animal. The images of people (Mary and the saints) and praying to Mary and the saints give the impression that Christians are worshiping them.

However, they are indeed confused and misled by Christians in the use of the images.

I agree with you that they are not consistent.

For more on that inconsistency:
http://answering-islam.org/Muhammad/Inconsistent/stone_kissing.html

Muslims all over the world, in popular Islam visit graves and pray to "saints" and rub and kiss objects and the Persians and Turks had no problem drawing pictures of the prophets in history. There are even famous paintings of the prophet of Islam, Mohammad in Persian and Turkish art.

But Salafi / Wahabi (Saudi Arabia)/ Taliban and other traditional versions of Islam have no pictures or statues of prophets/saints and their art and architecture is not allowed to have images of persons or animals. A famous masjid /madrese structure in Samarqand, Uzbekistan violated that principle with an image of a face in the sun.

Their art and architecture usually have only floral designs, geometric shapes, calligraphy from verses from the Qur'an, and symmetry.

Yes, I mentioned John of Damascus above and have read his stuff.

I have no problem with Biblical art and pictures for education and teaching purposes of the stories in the Bible; but in a worship context, they are a problem and seem to violate the second commandment.

Alex said...

Ken, the tone of your rebuttals is very refreshingly respectful, non-condescending, and enjoyable to read despite the fact that I disagree with you in your presenting of orthodox Catholic veneration. I hope that you are treated in kind.

Ken said...

Thanks Alex,
I want to strive for that; both apologia and agape love.
I Peter 3:15
Jude 3
Jude 21
2 Cor. 5:14-15
Ephesians 4:15

Ken

Gojira said...

"and what Muhammad and early Arabs perceived from the Marian piety, practices..."

Hi Ken,

It was a pleasure to read your post thus far. Very informative.

One of the growing practices, begining just before the time of Jerome, I think, was the adoption of pagan goddess names to be given to Mary. An early example would be "Star of the Ocean," if I am not mistaken. As you can readily tell, the adoption of those titles had the propensity to wreck havoc; instead of repentance, you had the same type of goddess worship just given to a new persona.

Also very interesting to me is your mention of the perpetual virginity. Virgin "in partu" is very gnostic indeed, the description rivaling ancient gnosticism (Christ passed through Mary like light through a glass comparable with the ancient Christ passed through Mary like water through a tube).

Your post is dead on, and I am very glad to have read it. I hope you have a great weekend!

Darlene said...

Dear Ken,

You said, "As a preacher I heard on this subject in 1979 said, "Too bad Warqa did not have a gospel tract for Muhammed! Never underestimate someone coming to you for spiritual guidance1"

How am I to understand such a comment? If only there had been a Reformed Protestant with tract in had to preach the Gospel to him, then Islam would have been cut off at the pass. If only Gutenberg's press had been invented and the Reformation taken place so that Protestant Evangelicals could have passed out thousands of tracts in that area. If only Warqa had met a Reformed Calvinist who would have taught him the doctrines of grace. If only...

Oh, but wait a minute, Calvin wouldn't come on the scene until nearly 1,000 yrs. later. So, in the meantime everyone was deprived of the Gospel.??

Ken, I think you must believe Christ when He said that the gates of hell wouldn't prevail against the Church. From your working knowledge of history, where were the genuine believers in Christ who preached the true Gospel? Where did they live and what were they called? Since you seem to believe that the Orthodox were preaching a false Gospel, where was Christ's Church? Had it been forced underground? Was it inconspicuous? Were there only a handful of genuine Christians that subscribed to the doctrines of grace (without the benefit of Calvin) throughout these centuries?

BTW, do you support the trail of blood teaching?

I look forward to your comments.

Ken said...

How am I to understand such a comment? If only there had been a Reformed Protestant with tract in had to preach the Gospel to him, then Islam would have been cut off at the pass.

Darlene,
Thanks for your questions! You added the words “Reformed Protestant”. I am not claiming that was around in its Reformation 16th century form at the time of Islam. As Dr. White constantly says, “we can let the early church be the early church.”

I am only pointing out that the early church had indeed drifted from the Scriptures and should have been preaching the Biblical gospel with apologetics and agape love, with outreach to the Arabs of Arabia. Also, the harsh treatment of heretics such as Nestorius and others created a wedge and great hatred between Orthodox from Constantinople and the Egyptian Copts and Jacobite Syrians and Nestorians in the Persian Empire. (Theodosius, Justinian, Hericlius, and other Byzantine Emperors) That disunity and hatred between the groups set up a regrettable condition in which the eastern non-Chalcedonians “welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators from their Byzantine masters.”



If only Gutenberg's press had been invented and the Reformation taken place so that Protestant Evangelicals could have passed out thousands of tracts in that area.

You are focusing on the technical issue of a “printed tract” and that it was not invented until centuries later. Ok, I see your point on that issue. I am quoting someone. Obviously, to be more accurate, he should have said, “If only someone had preached the true Biblical gospel to Muhammad.”

If only Warqa had met a Reformed Calvinist who would have taught him the doctrines of grace. If only...

You added the “Reformed Calvinist”; when I realize that that did not exist in history as a formal church institution. Again, yes, I believe the early church drifted from the Scriptures and sound doctrine, Jesus and the apostles warned of this, and the Marian practices and dogmas are examples of some of the worst traditions of men that were incorporated into the churches of those days and corrupted the purity of the gospel message.

Ken said...

continued.
Darlene wrote:
Oh, but wait a minute, Calvin wouldn't come on the scene until nearly 1,000 yrs. later. So, in the meantime everyone was deprived of the Gospel.??

Ken, I think you must believe Christ when He said that the gates of hell wouldn't prevail against the Church.

The gates of hades means death. Spiritual death will not overcome a true believer in Christ. That promise of Matthew 16:18 does not mean that local physical churches will not cease to exist or be overcome with false doctrine. The churches of Galatia very quickly deserted the gospel of grace and Paul rebuked them for it. (Galatians 1:6) The churches in Revelation chapters 2-3 were all warned and all were eventually judged and their lamp stands were taken away (Rev. 2:4-5), some took longer.

Ken said...

Continued response to Darlene:

I realize you are asking more specifically about the Eastern Orthodox Church, but these illustrations apply to both EO and RC and church history.

Athanasius “wrote the following around the middle of the fourth century, when Arian heretics held the positions of leadership in most of the churches, including the Roman church. The Arians were holding church councils in support of their heresy, councils attended by hundreds of bishops.

Athanasius wrote:
"I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you. Let us consider whether is the greater, the place or the Faith. Clearly the true Faith. Who then has lost more, or who possesses more? He who holds the place, or he who holds the Faith? Good indeed is the place, when the Apostolic Faith is preached there, holy is it if the Holy One dwell there....But ye are blessed, who by faith are in the Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from Apostolic tradition, and frequently has accursed envy wished to unsettle it, but has not been able. On the contrary, they have rather been cut off by their attempts to do so. For this is it that is written, 'Thou art the Son of the Living God,' Peter confessing it by revelation of the Father, and being told, 'Blessed art thou Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to thee,' but 'My Father Who is in heaven,' and the rest. No one therefore will ever prevail against your Faith, most beloved brethren. For if ever God shall give back the churches (for we think He will) yet without such restoration of the churches the Faith is sufficient for us. And lest, speaking without the Scriptures, I should seem to speak too strongly, it is well to bring you to the testimony of Scriptures, for recollect that the Temple indeed was at Jerusalem; the Temple was not deserted, aliens had invaded it, whence also the Temple being at Jerusalem, those exiles went down to Babylon by the judgment of God, who was proving, or rather correcting them; while manifesting to them in their ignorance punishment by means of blood-thirsty enemies. And aliens indeed had held the Place, but knew not the Lord of the Place, while in that He neither gave answer nor spoke, they were deserted by the truth. What profit then is the Place to them? For behold they that hold the Place are charged by them that love God with making it a den of thieves, and with madly making the Holy Place a house of merchandise, and a house of judicial business for themselves to whom it was unlawful to enter there. For this and worse than this is what we have heard, most beloved, from those who are come from thence. However really, then, they seem to hold the church, so much the more truly are they cast out. And they think themselves to be within the truth, but are exiled, and in captivity, and gain no advantage by the church alone. For the truth of things is judged" (Festal Letter 29)”
From Jason Engwer’s “Catholic, but not Roman Catholic” series.


The gates of hades did not completely “wipe out the whole church” in the sense that you are tying to say, no; but there is lots of mixture of good and bad in church history. The Roman Catholic Church anathematized itself at the Council of Trent when it anathematized the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Ken said...

Continued response to Darlene:

Darlene wrote:
From your working knowledge of history, where were the genuine believers in Christ who preached the true Gospel?

Yes, there obviously were genuine believers all throughout history. But even genuine believers can have some goofy and false doctrines and theology and un-balanced emphasis.

Where did they live and what were they called?

History is history; it is what happened. You are wanting to pin it down too much to a physical location and have a name. Many of the early church were true believers of the early centuries. We share in the same history as the Orthodox Church and the early Catholic Church. We all came from the roots of the early church before the splits into these 3 large bodies of Christendom; the church was just called “catholic” (universal) until the gradual parting between the Greek East and Latin west.

Since you seem to believe that the Orthodox were preaching a false Gospel,

It was a mixture of good and bad; and a very slow process; same for the Roman Catholic Church before the Reformation; but the neglect of sound teaching on justification in the Scriptures, especially in the epistles of Romans and Galatians and the RC and EO emphasis on external rites and duties, penance, indulgences, baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, priestly sacerdotal powers, ex opera operato; over exaltation of virginity (even to the denigration of marriage); asceticism, political power, etc. The eastern church seems to have stopped developing because so much of Islam conquered it and its territories. The fact that the Eastern Orthodox church does not believe in original inherited sin and has emphasized “deification” so much are certainly big problems for Protestants.

where was Christ's Church? Had it been forced underground? Was it inconspicuous? Were there only a handful of genuine Christians that subscribed to the doctrines of grace (without the benefit of Calvin) throughout these centuries?

This is answered in the discussion above.

BTW, do you support the trail of blood teaching?

I don’t know that is.

Ken said...

Gojira wrote:

Also very interesting to me is your mention of the perpetual virginity. Virgin "in partu" is very gnostic indeed, the description rivaling ancient gnosticism (Christ passed through Mary like light through a glass comparable with the ancient Christ passed through Mary like water through a tube).

Thanks, yes, it really seems from the Protoevangelium of James, the Odes of Solomon, the Ascension of Isaiah, and other Gnostic texts, the Perpetual virginity doctrine slowly started and the idea that Mary was without pain in childbirth, etc. and it took off from there, along with the "Mother of God" title and asceticism.

Dr. White had a great debate against Jerry Matatics, "Did Mary Have other Children?" and several Dividing line shows with Jerry and Eric Svendsen where they hashed all those things out.

see www.aomin.org and search around for them.

Turretinfan said...

Bellisario wrote: "Have you not heard of the Black Stone, which they kiss at the Kaaba?"

What is the black stone supposed to resemble? Of what is it a representational likeness?

Viisaus said...

One should realize that by the time Muhammad appeared to the scene (early 7th century), the cult of images among Eastern Christians was still relatively new.

John F. Haldon is one of today's leading (secular) experts on Byzantine history. And he has little time for the disingenious RC/EO apologetic claim that the cult of icons was an "ancient apostolic tradition":

"On one level, Iconoclasm was about positioning images within the cult of saints: of allowing images of the holy to perform like relics of the holy. To say that a saint’s bone, or a bit of cloth or oil that once touched a saint or the saint’s bones, conveyed saintly presence was a major step in itself; to extend that power to an object physically unconnected to the saint in anyway – the portrait painted by human hands – did indeed smack to many of idolatry, and was condemned as such by early churchmen. Images of pre-Christian gods and goddesses had to be long forgotten as real actors before the sacred portrait could first be admitted into the company of the holy through the medium of miraculous images not made by human hands, A SHIFT WHICH ONLY OCCURRED IN THE MID-SIXTH CENTURY.

These relic-images were agents of conversion, providers of revenue for their owners, and protectors of cities and the state. Sacred portraits made by human hands, however, are only rarely – and usually problematically – ascribed any such miraculous powers BEFORE THE LAST QUARTER OF THE SEVENTH CENTURY, after which the church responded with the first canonical legislation concerning religious imagery at a council held in Constantinople in 692;"

(Iconoclasm in Byzantium: myths and realities)

http://www.lsa.umich.edu/UMICH/modgreek/Home/Endowments%20and%20Gifts/Platsis%20Endowment/Haldon_Iconoclasm_talk.pdf

This whole piece is worth reading. The Iconoclasts of the 8th and 9th centuries were subjected to a veritably Orwellian memory-hole, two-minute hate treatment by the victorious Iconodule party that destroyed all their writings and made up reckless calumnies about them.


And again I must advertise this old gem brought back to life by the wonder of Internet:

"THE SEVENTH GENERAL COUNCIL, THE SECOND OF NICAEA, HELD A.D. 787, IN WHICH THE WORSHIP OF IMAGES WAS ESTABLISHED: WITH COPIOUS NOTES FROM THE "CAROLINE BOOKS," COMPILED BY ORDER OF CHARLEMAGNE FOR ITS CONFUTATION."

http://www.archive.org/details/seventhgeneralc00mendgoog

The lengthy introduction of this book that describes the history of Byzantine AND Carolingian Iconoclasm from Protestant perspective is also very much worth reading.


This source is so valuable because the RC "New Advent" website offers only a VERY ABRIDGED, bowdlerized version of the 2nd Nicene council:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3819.htm

They have cut out all the most embarrassing parts of this iconolatrous council's acts, obviously not wanting people to see just how puerile the pro-icon reasonings of the 787 council were.

Viisaus said...

Like it says here:

"I am afraid that there is but too much truth in this severe judgment of Gibbon; and the following passage relating to the same council, which I have extracted, not from Gibbon, or any writer of the school to which he belonged, but from the celebrated Roman Catholic historian of the church, Abbe Fleury, will enable the reader to form his own judgment on this subject.

After describing the confession of faith signed by that council, which declared that the images of the saints are to be worshipped, because they remind us of those whom they represent, and make us participators in their merits, he says: —

“The last passages showed that God was making miracles by means of images; and in order to confirm it, a discourse, ascribed to St. Athanasius, was read. It contained the account of a pretended miracle, which happened at Beryt, with an image of Christ, which, having been pierced by the Jews, emitted blood, which healed many sick persons. The fathers of the council were so much moved by this account that they shed tears. It is, however, certain, that this discourse is not by St. Athanasius, and it is even very doubtful whether the story which it contains is true. Thus it appears that amongst all the bishops present at this council, there was not a single one versed in the science of criticism, because many other false documents were produced in that assembly. This proves nothing against the decision of the council, because it is sufficiently supported by true documents. It only proves the ignorance of the times, as well as the necessity of knowing history, chronology, the difference of manners and styles, in order to discern real documents from spurious ones.” F59

Thus, according to the authority of one of the most eminent writers of the Roman Catholic Church, the second Council of Nice, the first synod which has even an explicit and solemn sanction to one of the most important tenets of the Western and the Eastern churches, was composed of such ignorant and silly prelates, that an absurd fable, contained in a forged paper, could sway their minds and hearts in such a manner as to make them shed tears of emotion, and that there was not a single individual amongst these venerable fathers sufficiently informed to be able to discover a fabrication so gross that it did not escape the attention of scholars who lived many centuries afterwards."

http://www.godrules.net/library/calvin/176calvin3.htm

Viisaus said...

And citing George Salmon of the topic:

"But a more plentiful crop of illustrations may be drawn from the proceedings of the seventh General Council, the second of Nicaea. The Fathers attempted to prove the propriety of image worship from Scripture; BUT, AS IF CONSCIOUS THAT THEY WOULD HAVE NO EASY TASK, THEY PROPOUNDED THE THEN NOVEL DOCTRINE OF THE INSUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE, and anathematized those who say that they will not receive any doctrine on the bare authority of Fathers and Councils, unless it be plainly taught in the Old and New Testament. Their Scripture proofs were not what would be very convincing to us. For instance, the antiquity of looking at images is proved from the Psalms, since David says, ‘Show me thy face’: and ‘Like as we have heard, so have we seen’; and again, from Canticles, ‘Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.’ Should we have any hesi­tation in setting up our infallible judgment against that of those infallible interpreters, and in pronouncing such proofs to be texts wrested from their contexts, we need have less scruples about their proofs from antiquity, several of which are from spurious documents which no learned Roman Catholic would now venture to defend. I will read you from Robertson’s Church History (ii. 156) one famous story, which was such a favourite that it was twice used in the proceedings of the Council:

‘An aged monk on the Mount of Olives, it was said, was greatly tempted by a spirit of uncleanness. One day the demon appeared to him, and after having sworn him to secrecy offered to discontinue his assaults if the monk would give up worshipping a picture of the Blessed Virgin and infant Saviour which hung up in his cell. The monk asked time to consider the proposal, and notwithstanding his oath applied for advice to an aged abbot of renowned sanctity, who blamed him for having been so deluded as to swear to the devil; but told him that he had yet done well in laying open the matter, and that it would be better for him to visit every brothel in Jerusalem than to refrain from adoring the Saviour and His Mother in the picture. From this edifying tale a twofold moral was drawn with general consent: that reverence for images would not only warrant unchastity but breach of oaths, and that those who had sworn to the Iconoclast heresy were free from their obliga­tions.’"

http://www.tracts.ukgo.com/george_salmon.htm

(see "General Councils Part 2")

Darlene said...

Dear Ken,

Could not one use the same kind of reasoning as to why Islam emerged and flourished for why cults have become so popular in the U.S. or for that matter, why there are so many different Protestant denominations?

Your argument is: The Orthodox were a poor witness of the gospel by their actions and false teachings. Therefore, this led the way for Islam to emerge, becoming a driving force in the regions of the EO churches.

Now, apply it to the Protestant Reformation. The reason there are so many disputes/disagreements within Protestantism is because of the Reformation, when conscience and Sola Scriptura were put before the authority of the Church.

One could blame Protestantism for the existence of hundreds of cults in the United States alone. One could argue that since the Scriptures are perspicuous as regards salvation (with no need to appeal to the early fathers, creeds, or councils) one can simply interpret the Scriptures on their own and arrive at the truth. Many, in fact, have done so and arrived at the most absurd conclusions.

Being a former member of a cult, I know well what it is like to be under the teachings of a person who insisted that he had discovered the true interpretation of the Bible and that he was in fellowship with the apostles. We were going to be the best example of the New Testament Church. We preached being born again, living communally as they did in Acts, giving our pay checks into a general fund, having all things in common.

However, what came out of this idealist view was nothing short of disastrous. The actions of the leader were nothing short of abuse, but sadly, many participated in this abuse, all citing Scripture to defend their actions.

So, I could blame the Reformation and Sola Scriptura on the reason cults like the Church of Bible Understanding could justify their existence. (BTW, one of our favorite lines was, "We are into what the churches should be doing, but aren't.") Or to alter your title, people in the United States just did not get a credible Biblical and Evangelical witness from the Reformed Protestants, therefore cults were/are continuing to flourish.

Now, I don't think you want to give credence to my argument. The possibilities of "what if" and "if only" are endless. What may appear to be an algebraic equation without flaw, A + B = C, may be a miscalculation in actuality. Or better yet, if x would have occurred, then y would not have occurred. Really? I could say if Africans had patterned their educational system after Western society, Africans would have discovered electricity. Or, if King George III had been more conciliate, the Revolutionary War would not have occurred and we would still be a British colony. Perhaps, perhaps not.

How can such things be proven? We can only speculate.

Darlene said...

Here's another one.

Christianity is to blame for the the existence of the KKK and racial violence in the south. Why? Most KKK members were also members of Christian churches - and Protestant ones at that.

I don't think you would concur.

Ken said...

Now, apply it to the Protestant Reformation. The reason there are so many disputes/disagreements within Protestantism is because of the Reformation, when conscience and Sola Scriptura were put before the authority of the Church.

See my new post, "God's Sovereignty, History, and the Reformation"

Ken said...

Darlene wrote:

One could blame Protestantism for the existence of hundreds of cults in the United States alone. One could argue that since the Scriptures are perspicuous as regards salvation (with no need to appeal to the early fathers, creeds, or councils) one can simply interpret the Scriptures on their own and arrive at the truth. Many, in fact, have done so and arrived at the most absurd conclusions.

All cults deny basic Christian, Biblical doctrine such as the Trinity and Deity of Christ and salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, apart from the merit of works. They put subjective "conscience" before Sola Scriptura. So, that is not the fault of Protestantism or Sola Scriptura per se; but a false application of “the freedom to interpret the Bible however I want.”

Being a former member of a cult, . . . "

I am curious, what cult was that? and how do you define what a cult is?

Ken said...

Darlene,

The big difference between your examples, and the rise of Islam, are that Muhammad and the Arabs did not have the Bible in their own language, Arabic. (It was not fully translated for the first time until after 900 AD)

Your examples of modern denominations and cults are different; they are all more accountable, since they had the Scriptures to read. see Matthew 22:31

"have you not read what God said to you . . . ?

So, those other examples of cults and the evil racism of the KKK in the USA are not the fault of Protestantism per say; but the disobedience to clear Scripture and the wrong applications of Sola Scritpura; the priesthood of the believer, and the perspicuity of Scripture.

Personality cults around one person are very dangerous; I agree. If the group you were involved with was "The Church of Bible Understanding", led by Stuart Traill, then I can understand your dis-illusionment and why you left that. I googled it, never heard of it before. Wow; how sad.

That is why I believe the Biblical pattern of church government is a plurality of elders (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 14:21-23; I Timothy chapter 3; Acts 20:17-28; I Peter 5:1-5) with accountability to each other and to the local church. (Acts 15:22 - "And it seemed good to the apostles, and the elders, with the whole church . . . ")

Anonymous said...

The prophecy tells about Ahmad; 'Servant of God' whom will war to correct the wrongs and bringing judgement based on the law of God. He will also liberate Arabia from worshiping molten images. Wilderness (desert), villages and cities will glorify God since then. As can be seen today, whole of Arabia are worshiping,praising God and singing words of God daily.

And we continue reading Isaiah 42:18 - 25; about Children of Israel, whom will still be deaf and blind neglecting the message brought by this 'Servant of God'.
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In Isaiah 42:1, it is not a coincidence upon seeing the writing of both אתמך (Atmc) אחמד (Ahmd). And the word before אתמך (Atmc), is עבדי (Abedi~My Servant). For indeed, It is indicating Ahmad; Abedallah (Ahmad; Servant of God).

Not to mention אתמך (Atmc) is a special term foretelling the coming of a righteous man and is used only ONCE throughout the entire Book. [could this be a copying error or an intended error?]

Children of Israel have been foretold upon the coming of Ahmad but sadly, only a few accepts.

Ken said...

Your argument does not make sense - the Hebrew word that you are trying to make say "Ahmad" is not even close and means "I uphold" אתמך



The New Testament clearly says this Servant in Isaiah 42 is Jesus in Matthew 12:15-21.

Jesus Al Masih in fact says that He Himself is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, who would also give His life a ransom for many - Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28.

Anonymous said...

Please read the events mentioned througout Isaiah 42, inhabitants in Arabia sings a 'new song' to God.

This is indeed a clear prophecy

Ken said...

That means that some Arabs from Kedar will be rejoicing and worshiping the true God of Israel through the Servant Messiah; it has nothing to do with Muhammad at all.