Sunday, November 18, 2012

Refuting the Hard Arguments of Your Enemey

In the recent edition of Luther's Works, I came across a bit of practical common sense that most of us probably know, yet the way Luther articulated it really made it clear. I think it's a good dose of practical advise for apologists.

 In 1530 Luther wrote a preface to a book written in the previous century by a Christian man who had been in slavery to the Muslims for 20 years. At this time in history, the Muslims were a dire threat to the West, yet very little accurate information on Islam was readily available. Luther had a deep interest in understanding Islam, and had read as much as he could get his hands on. He complained that many of the books refuting Islam "eagerly pick out the most shameful and absurd passages from the Koran, which provoke hostility and are able to move the multitude to hatred" (LW 59:258) while ignoring or concealing "the good passages" in the Koran. Why? Because these are harder to refute. The author of the book Luther wrote the preface for gained Luther's respect because,
 "...he narrates [the details of Islam] in such a way that he not only recites their evils but also sets their best parts alongside, and he preaches those things in such a way as to rebuke and scold our people by comparison with them. Yet he does not approve of them as if they were pious deeds, but he refutes them with courage and vigor, inasmuch as was possible at that time. Indeed, these are sure signs of a candid and sincere heart, which writes nothing from hatred but tells everything from love of the truth. You see, whoever does nothing but find fault with his enemy, denouncing his shameful and absurd aspects, does more harm to his case than good. What is easier than to denounce the manifestly shameful and dishonorable things (which, in any case, refute themselves)? But to refute the good and honorable things, after taking away their splendor, is what benefits one's case; this is what removes stumbling blocks and strips the false form off the angel of light [cf. 2 Cor. 11:14], making him odious by virtue of his own turpitude and his robbery of the light." [LW 59:258-259]
The book by the way, was George of Hungary, Book on the Ceremonies and Customs of the Turks. I searched around a bit a couldn't find a free link, so if anyone can come up with a link, I'd appreciate it. For $35 you can read it here.


Ken said...

Excellent point.

Thank you for this, James. I wish that one article was not so expensive.

Some of the reasons why westerners and Americans are converting to Islam is because of the Islam bashing and "exposing Islam" (only focusing on the negative stuff -Al Qaeda, Jihad, women's rights in Islam, honor killings, Muhammad's marriage to Ayesha, etc.) - then when they actually look into the positive aspects of Islam - and avoid all the negative stuff and only get the nice parts from western Muslims who are clever in their "Da'wa" with Americans and westerners - as the video shows -

Notice the Texas man says, "Islam is what I wanted Christianity to be" - so he wanted something more conservative, and traditional that would solve the social sins of liberal, sensual, loose American culture. It seems like he wanted a system of law that would "clean up" the hypocrisy and sensual culture of the west.

there are some Americans/westerners that have converted because

1. they want something more conservative for social values - against promiscuity, adultery, sensuality, too much showing of women's bodies in TV, movies, billboards, etc.; against drugs, drunkenness (all alcohol is sin in Islam); homosexuality, etc.

There is a great danger here in the USA that many church goers are just conservative socially and not born-again by the Spirit - and would be attracted to Islam just because they want to clean up the decadence, drunkenness, homosexuality, promiscuity, adultery, abortions, etc.

As I have said before, "Islam is Pelagianism on steroids".

2. Islam makes more sense to the natural mind on who God is - the Trinity is too hard to understand and the incarnation is also difficult. Islam retains a natural, reasonable monotheism of an OT kind (without the revelation of the NT and incarnation) - "the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" - many Muslims are not Jihadists or trying to be like Al Qaeda or Hamas)

3. Islam's view of salvation and going to heaven is very appealing to the natural mind - be good, obey the 10 commandments kind of morality - which is very close to what my Methodist raised mother used to communicate to me, and what my liberal United Methodist Church used to communicate - thinking it was the Christian faith without understanding the gospel or sin or the Holiness of God and the impossibility of man to do enough good deeds that will hopefully out-weigh one's bad deeds.

4. Islam promises solutions to the economic problems of the west if we would only follow the Zakat (law of giving - which makes it an obligatory tax on all Muslims - 2.5 % of income to provide for the poor and widows, etc. - like a welfare system) [But there are other Islamic required taxes - Khums - 5 % of assets of wealthy - if I understand it -

Islamic economics also includes not having a banking system as we do in the west with earning interest. Sharia compliant banking system. This appeal of fairness and spreading the wealth around may appeal to liberals who are socially conservative but want "economic justice" for the poor.

The Jews and the Christians would have to pay the Jaziyeh (see Surah 9:29)

I don't have all my thoughts yet completed on these issues, but these are just some of the things that the Islamic religion promises and seeks to persuade westerners on - and these things, by themselves, seem logical, reasonable, conservative, good and positive for many who are conservative, but are not born-again believers in Christ.

This is a great challenge.

The natural mind and heart like these appeals - but the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5

RPV said...

Well gentlemen, my interest for this title has certainly been piqued.
Originally in Latin, it doesn't look to be available on Google or elsewhere.

Here's an informative review though, of Martin Luther and Islam: A Study in Sixteenth-Century Polemics and Apologetics by Adam S. Francisco (The History of Christian-Muslim Relations: Brill), (only $169 mind you).

Here's the Classen article about Georghius's book for $5 cheaper.

Bob S.