Saturday, October 14, 2017

Much to Say About Islam





I started researching the history and teachings of Islam several months ago. For years I taught a segment about Islam's history during lectures on the history of Christianity. You can't really bypass the beginnings and growth of Islam because of its devastating effect on lands once predominantly Christian. My current study began when a Facebook friend suggested I write a few essays on Islam for my monthly column in The Restoration Herald. At the time I thought I would write two or three essays and that would cover it. Little did I know!

In my church history course, I covered Islam and the Christian response in one lecture (http://christianchronicler.com/history1/ popes_and_the_ prophet.html #POPES AND THE PROPHET). Frankly, I thought that lecture covered the subject pretty well. Once again, little did I know!

Since I began my study, I've read 14 books not counting the Qur'an, portions of the Hadith, and numerous monographs, news articles, and essays on all sides of the subject. Thanks to YouTube, I've been able to watch a variety of debates, TV shows such as John Ankerberg Show, and scholarly presentations. Dr. Jay Smith, David Wood, Robert Spencer, and Dr. James White are some of the best when it comes to defending Christianity and exposing the fundamental errors of Islam. My hard drive and Kindle Fire now contains several copies of the Qur'an, Hadith (Sayings) collected by Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and Sayyid Qutb's writings. Although I've read the Qur'an through once, I have yet to dive into the original source material mentioned in the previous sentence. These are multi-volume works and it will take me a lot of time to dig through all of it. At my age, 74, I may never see the end of it. I'll never get enough of this stuff done to make me an "expert."

What have I found so far? Let me share some of what I've discovered.

  1. I've found the standard histories of Muhammad and Islam's beginning do not tell the whole story. Recent studies raise serious questions about Islam's historical context. These studies uncovered serious historical issues regarding Mecca, the Qur'an's formation, and Muhammad's existence.
  2. I've discovered the answers to questions I had about the spread of Islam. Muhammad died in AD 632 and within 100 years had conquered Persia, Syria, the eastern Byzantine Empire, all of North Africa, and Spain. It's tentacles reached into India and China soon after and made its way into the Balkans. During Christianity's first 600 years these were Christian lands. How could Islam have supplanted faith in Christ Jesus so quickly? After all, it took 300 years for Rome to grant Christianity legal status! I now know why.
  3. I've discovered all the guilt attached to Christians regarding the Crusades is bunk. You know what I mean. Every time someone points to terrorism and violence, someone says, "Well, Christians slaughtered people during the Crusades without reason." President Obama, in a speech delivered in 2015 said, "And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ." Some of the tragic events which occurred during the Crusades were indeed unfortunate, but much of the popular mythology about the Crusades is unfounded (read: a lie). Christians did not start the fight!
  4. I've discovered Islam's leadership has a definite agenda and its not to spread peace and love around the world. Suffice it to say, not all Muslims are terrorists. However, Muslims who understand their faith and live it based on the teachings of the Qur'an as modeled by Muhammad are! It is true many Muslims (nominal) are peace-loving, but statistics show more and more move steadily into the radical camp.
  5. I've discovered the fastest way to be labeled a bigot, racist, Islamaphobe, or hater is to raise issues about Islam. I do not hate Muslims, I despise the religion of Islam. I repudiate the religion of Islam just like I do the religion of Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and any cult or false teaching currently propagated. I hate the lies, half-truths, and false teaching pushed on people in the name of some false religion. I love truth because I love Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT by me." Others may disagree, but the Bible (the Word of God) still says the only true faith is the one Jesus taught us.
I'll use my blog to help you uncover far more than I've mentioned here. So far, I've submitted 15 articles to The Restoration Herald. I don't have a clue how many more will follow, or what I'll post here. Stay tuned! I'll eventually put it all in a book.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Back Again

It has been months -- maybe years -- since I wrote for this blog. I once had a collection of readers. The writing here stopped because I write a monthly page for The Restoration Herald (www.cra.org). This page pretty well sapped my writing urges, but circumstances change.

There are three areas of interest I intend to focus on:  (1) The American Restoration Movement. (2) Islam and its worldwide spread. (3) A resurgence of Reformed theology. I will also advertise the books I write hoping to create more of a market for them as time goes on.

I look forward to getting started.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

War on Oil

Today's headlines suggest Democrats are moving beyond their destruction of the coal industry to attacks on "big oil." Charges intimate major oil companies such as Exxon/Mobil long knew of emissions and greenhouse gasses and their contribution to so-called man made "global warming." According to recent news releases, the attack will be similar to the government's attack on "big tobacco" a few years ago.

Obama's environmental policies devastated the coal industry. Miners in West Virginia and other coal producing states find themselves out of a job. One report states the president's policies cost America more than 128,000 jobs. Ken Ward, writing in The Nation, said environmental issues surrounding coal only cost 1,300 jobs in West Virginia. I suspect, however, Ward's numbers reflect only those jobs lost for those directly employed in mining. Always ready to paint the best picture possible, environmentalists point to cleaner streams and air. Advocates for the coal industry tell us technical advances in mining and burning already account for cleaner air and water nationwide.

Who do you believe? As my father-in-law used o say, "Figures never lie, but liars sure an figure!"

If the president gets his way, the impact of attacks on "big oil" will be far worse than the "war on coal." The nation's economy runs on oil. Oil is used to manufacture a multitude of products. From one 42 gallon barrel of oil, refiners make 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The refining process for gasoline requires less than 21 gallons of crude oil. The rest is used to manufacture other products. Here are a few of the more than 6,000 items made from oil.

Consider the following. If the administration goes after the oil industry in the same way it has other fossil fuel industries, how will it affect the cost of these items? In the drive to transform the nation from a consumer of fossil to renewable sources, the impact on the nation's economy will be drastic.

The only alternative is to return to a nineteenth century lifestyle or pull the national culture to a level much like that in the undeveloped world. Keep your investment in Kentucky horse farms; we may need horseflesh!

Hasn't that been the Obama goal from the "get go"? He wanted to make the United States like the rest of the world. Much of this comes from a Marxist mindset and a determination on Obama's part to eliminate American egotism as an exceptional nation. The underlying excuse has been to counter climate change. It used to be global warming, but now it is climate change.

It is no longer global warming primarily because recent statistics work against any concept of man-made climate impact. Had the dire warnings Al Gore issued in 2000 come true, the Atlantic would now be lapping on the White House lawn, the polar ice cap would be gone, and we'd all have sunburns. (Okay, I know I'm being sarcastic.)

Recent news reveals the Antarctic ice shelf is thicker than ever. The southern hemisphere is experiencing cooling and the temps in the northern hemisphere have leveled off. What is going on? An interesting fact, but one rarely mentioned, is the fact the earth wobbles slightly during its orbit around the sun. Climate change occurred in the past and it is likely due to sun activity and slight shifts in the positioning of the hemispheres due to the wobble. Human activity may contribute slightly to climate change, but the eruption of one volcano contributes more particulates into the atmosphere in a few seconds than all human activity in a year. If carbon dioxide is the culprit, you would expect trees and vegetation to grow at an accelerated rate since plants absorb CO2 and give off O2.

The experts point to the computer models to support their claims, but the fact remains "garbage in, garbage out." You get from the computer only what you program it to provide.

I'm sure my friends tied to research dollars will laugh at me, and I may be wrong in some of my musing, but overall I'd say, "Posh!"

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It's a Natural Result

Demonstrations in Chicago marred Trump's effort to spread his message to followers in that city last Friday (March 11, 2016). While I am not a Trump fan, I knew demonstrations by those who are largely leftist would increase Trump's appeal. From my perspective it seems the lines of demarcation appear increasingly sharp and defined.

A few years ago I read somewhere that a society would reach a point of rebellion which the takers approach 50 percent. Those who prepare, work, save, and invest would reach a point where they would ultimately react negatively toward those who sit back and treat life as if others should provide for their every need. Add to such a situation the appearance of growing lawlessness and leaders who shrink from every challenge and you have a volatile potential for a negative reaction.

That's precisely why this election cycle is so heated! Donald Trump is speaking out for Americans who work hard and who are appalled by the cultural drift in the country. It is no wonder! Nearly 46 percent accept food stamps and consider them an entitlement. What was once a "safety net" for families has been misused and corrupted by those who "game the system." The same can be said for welfare recipients. Further, seniors watch the government plunder Social Security funds leaving them with concerns for the future. All too many consider Social Security and Medicare an entitlement similar to socialistic welfare. Seniors worked hard and paid into these programs for years only to have them labeled as "takers."

Frankly, funds paid into Social Security would have earned a much better return if invested in interest bearing bonds, mutual funds, or annuities.

We already know there is a huge percentage of Americans who pay no Income Tax while a decreasing minority pay an ever growing share.

As the majority of the "doers" shrinks and the percentage of the "takers" increase, it is no wonder Trump gets attention. Demonstrations such as those last Friday in Chicago or on the streets of a St. Louis suburb only serve to create the angst of the producers. The constant charge of racism, the marches of the "Black Lives Matter" crowd calling for the murder of police officers does nothing but serve to add to the irritation. The threat of terrorism and the failure of our current president to deal with it effectively only scrapes the wound. The surge of young people supporting a socialist like Bernie Sanders only causes more concern. It seems to me and, I'm sure, many others that the mob will elect anyone who promises to give them stuff.

All of us know there are those who need our help. My son lived on the streets of Riverside County, California, and discovered some of the homeless were there through no fault of their own. Serious financial reverses, mental illness, and illness or injuries resulted in loss of home and family. There are others who made bad choices including problems with alcohol and drug addiction; those who "lived for the moment" and failed to take advantage of educational opportunities open to all Americans, and still others who believed they were too good to take "that job." There are those who have "fallen through the cracks." We all know that! Life choices, however, have consequences.

Compassion is helping those who face consequences in life through no fault of their own or who make the effort and it is just not enough. Compassion is not the result of a government who steals from those who work, invest, and take risks to redistribute what was earned to those who refuse to make the effort.

I know full well there are those who want to work but either can't find a job or personal circumstances prevent them from doing so. Is the best way to help found in simply giving them stuff or helping them take personal responsibility, teaching them a skill, and helping them find employment so they can become a productive member of society? The old saying is still true, "Give a man a fish and he'll have food for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll have food for the rest of his life." If he'll go fishing!

Producing Americans will only be pushed so far. They already feel they are being taken for granted. While their feelings may be incorrect, they are what they are! Trump is using growing frustration with the status quo to garner support. While I am leery of his message, he seems to speak for the growing number of the frustrated who want people to take personal responsibility and stop using the tactics of the intolerant to insist on a tolerance they won't give.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Something Smelts Fishy

According to headlines, California may be choosing to spend $4.5 billion dollars to protect a small fish which may already be extinct. What?

California is not the first to spend gobs of money to protect animal life. After all, the Progressives argue "all life matters." Oops! That's not right. Only "black lives matter" as one early Democratic presidential candidate discovered not long ago! Nonetheless, Federal and State agencies go out of the way to protect crickets, owls, and delta smelt but don't life a finger to protect more than a million human lives a year from the murder called abortion. Something is just plain rotten in California!

Progressives believe human life is no more important than the lives of our furry four-footed friends or slimy scaled fishes. That old theory--evolution--provides the rationale. After all, we're gold, we all evolved from a slimy gob of goo in the primordial oceans. The science of DNA hardly provides support for this ridiculous view but, hey, in stupidity the majority wins. No matter that every year more and more scientists in every field abandon evolution as an untenable theory. No, they're not becoming wholesale Christians. Now they opt for pan spermia--the theory that life originated here from life elsewhere in the university. Probably came on one of those rocks from Mars we hear about. Okay, I liked "Stargate," too. It presented the idea that human life spread throughout the universe traveling through these marvelous gates. Good fiction; horrible science!

I don't care what the unbeliever says, they accept their beliefs on faith. Their faith says God does not exist or is irrelevant. They have less reason for their beliefs than I do for accepting the biblical record as true. (Anyone who doubts that simply doesn't know the amount of verification archaeology provides.)

Let's get something straight! Knowledge is what you know from personal experience. Faith is what you know or believe based on the experiences of others. Opinion is what you believe when there is no testimony or personal experience to support the belief. Therefore, I believe the Bible is true based on the testimony of contemporary archaeologists whose work verifies the historical data found in the Bible. I believe the Bible is true because personal experience and faith persuades me to believe the data found in Scripture. What evidence is there for no God? Well, you just can't prove a negative!

Having said all that, I believe human life stands at the apex of life. I don't care if you choose not to believe, but the testimony is solid: it says God created human life in his image. A little bit of study and thought lets you know God is a Spirit. Human beings, created in God's image, are comprised of body (created from the dust of the earth) and spirit. It is man's spiritual nature that lifts him above the rest of the flora and fauna on the planet.

My dog may love me and express feelings (you should have seen two of my dogs mourn at the death of another). Dolphins may communicate with squeaks and squeals. Orangutans may use simple tools. None of them have invented MRI machines, tractors, internal combustion engines, of wheels for that matter. No member of the animal kingdom built hospitals, established renowned universities, or built championship NFL teams like the Denver Broncos (had to get that in).

It makes little sense to be so concerned for a small fishy fish when it may already have passed from life. Why spend $4.5 million dollars to protect a fish when it could be used to enhance human life. Hmmm all you progressives who gripe about spending money for "senseless" wars or "unnecessary" pipelines! Sparing that stupid fish won't enhance human life one bit. It won't make you progressives one bit smarter, better off, or healthier to do so.

I know some of you will have quit reading this a long time ago, but I have to say this: I believe in protecting the planet. I want clean water and air, too. My Bible says God told the primeval pair to "dress and keep" the garden and to have "dominion over the earth;" he didn't tell them to rape and pillage the earth. So we ought to exercise common-sense solutions and practice good conservation and ecological practices. All i want is for our leaders to exercise a little pragmatic common sense instead of spending money they don't have to protect what may not need protecting.

And, oh by the way, if evolution is so true, why haven't you kept its major dictum--survival of the fittest? If that little fish can't survive, then maybe, if you really believe in the survival of the fittest, it shouldn't survive!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

On the Subject of History

I sat down in a Rotary Club meeting in North Canton, Ohio and was asked the following question, "Do they teach history in school today?" My friend, a North Canton insurance salesman, implied young people were ignorant of American and world history. I answered him from my own experience. As a college history instructor for 20 years it was my conviction the students in my classes had little or no knowledge of world-shaping events or the personalities who shaped history. My students admitted they had taken Social Studies courses but nothing identifiable as history.

A few minutes later, the superintendent of the North Canton schools joined us at the table. I asked him, "Does the high school require history courses here in North Canton?" (North Canton schools, by the way, had an excellent reputation for academic excellence...and their football team wasn't bad either!) As I recall, his answer went something like this: "Education today is more interested in providing quality education designed to help graduates find jobs. The only history courses we offer are in advanced placement programs." Most of the Rotarians at my table were surprised and maybe even shocked at his answer.

It is no wonder so many Americans believe history is irrelevant! After all, it is only about the activities and lives of a bunch of dead guys. For most students, history is boring. I blame this view on the fact most history teachers in public schools see history as the repetition and memorizing of names, dates, places, and events. There is little linkage of these events to contemporary culture. Historical personalities are often presented as dry lifeless individuals driven by the force of certain events. Furthermore, all too many twist the facts of history to fit preconceived ideas. Presenting the various interpretations of personalities and events is okay as long as students understand the presenter is doing so from a perspective and having the honesty to explain their view.

On the first day of class, one of my history professors at Cincinnati Christian Seminary slammed a book on his desk and said, "I have an axe to grind, and I'm going to grind it!" Translation: "I have an agenda, an interpretation of historical events and I'm going to present it in such a way you'll agree with me." Okay, I thought, I'll hear you out but I'll form my own view thank you very much!

In the current political climate it is more than obvious the American people have no sense of history. That's a shame, too, because the events of the past shape the present and the future. If you don't know where we've been, you'll certainly have no idea where we are or where we are currently headed. As philosopher George Santayana rightly said, "Those who fail to learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them." (That's not an exact quote, but that's the gist of it.)

Santayana was right! I see history much like the wheels on a wagon. The same, or very similar, events reoccur but history moves forward in time. Technologies change but human character does not. I suppose my view is shaped somewhat by my biblical (at least in part) worldview. Specific circumstances change, but the events arise out of the same type stupid selfish and flawed human decisions. It doesn't take a biblical scholar to read the Old Testament book of Judges to see how events reoccur simply because God's people failed to learn from the lessons of the past!

With that in mind, I recently shared a rather lengthy post on Facebook. The original post was from an Austrian survivor of World War II. She experienced Hitler's rise to power in Germany and the assimilation of Austria. From her experience she traced the gradual assumption of Nazi power and the elimination of individual rights. Her presentation of the facts dovetails nicely with the description given by reputable historians. Further insight can be gleaned from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoffer and others who lived in the 1930s and 1940s.

Here in Sun City, I met Marie and Lowell Amos. Lowell was a cartographer during World War II. He did most of his work in North Africa during Patton's campaign against the Desert Fox, General Erwin Rommel. As Lowell studied the photographs taken on an overflight of a desert oasis, he noted the vestige of a tire track. Knowing the Germans had hidden weapons caches in the desert, he surmised one of those caches lay hidden at the oasis. Allied bombers attacked and destroyed the weapons. This raid launched the Battle of El Alamein, one of the decisive battles in North Africa.

Marie had an interesting story all her own. Raised in Poland, she found herself and her family imprisoned by the Nazis during the war. When the Soviet Union took possession of Poland after the war, she found herself in a Stalinist Gulag. She eventually got her freedom, made her way to the West where she met and married Lowell Amos. I remember hearing her tell her story and how angry she became at those who tried to bad mouth her adopted country. She was aghast at every move by American political leaders, protesters, and anyone who pushed the country toward greater government control and anything smacking of socialism.

Her story agreed with the post I shared on Facebook. Those who do not see the parallels to contemporary events and circumstances are either historically ignorant or blind. There is no one so blind but those who cannot see!!!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Non-Existent Freedom of Speech (for some)

Today I posted a comment in opposition to a Facebook post. The post to which I reacted presented a left leaning view which I find repugnant even when it comes from the pen of a Christian historian. It just goes to show how divergent social and political views are.

Frankly, even though I disagreed with the perspective of the author, I would uphold his right to express his views. I also insist on the right to express my disdain, disagreement, and dislike for the views he expressed.

One response came from a woman who once expressed a belief in God, but has since wandered away. In her response, she said I was unloving, cold-hearted, and ugly because I "didn't understand what the left is trying to accomplish" and was close minded. She blamed me and others who think like I do for "pushing [her]farther from [your] 'god.'" She said my thinking was responsible for her loathing [the Christian] religion. Furthermore, my rhetoric was hateful!

What did I say? Let me post it for you: "The key to understanding this document is to note the source. They key phrase is, 'Challenging the Right, Advancing Social Justice.' Social Justice is in reality no justice. Justice is getting what you deserve, i.e., what you work for and earn. Social Justice, as used by the left, is taking what isn't yours to benefit those who believe they are entitled regardless of personal effort. My Bible still says, "If you don't work, you don't eat."

Disagree with my statement if you wish, but it is my view. I did not mean to imply there was never a sense in which help should be given to the "working poor" or those desperately in need. In fact, quite the opposite. However, if the "working poor" are making the effort to succeed and thrive, then they deserve a hand up. But a hand up is not a hand out. I do all I can to help someone who was in need if he or she were making the effort to help themselves.

The "nitty of the gritty," however, is the fact the response to my post came from a person who does not know me. She does not know where I come from, what I think, how I view my relationship with God and others. She just knows my views do not match hers. Therefore, I have no right to challenge her thinking or express my views. She can call me names, vilify me, call me unloving and uncaring without any understanding of who I am or what I think it total. No, I'm just supposed to "shut up."

And that's the Social Progressive (liberal, radical, leftist) view these days. If you disagree with them just "shut up." If you refuse to be quiet, you will be labeled racist, homophobic, fascist, unloving, unchristian, or ______________(fill in the blank). Those labeling me as such really don't know and don't care how I really think; they just want me to "shut the hell up." Don't get in their way, don't counter their views, don't try to reason, just "shut up." They demand the freedom to say the most vile things, label me with the most insane labels, or, if all else fails, shout me down...but for heaven's sake, they want me to  just "shut up." The same goes for you when you express an opposing view to theirs.

Frankly, I was not all that nice in my response to her--dare I say it--hateful accusatory speech. I simply said, "That's your opinion. I could not care less if you agree with me." To which she responded, "Your god must be so proud."

Well, let me add just one observation. Young lady, her photo indicates some youthfulness, I do not answer to you! Furthermore, you do not answer to me. You will one day stand before the true God of the universe and answer for your statements, your actions, and your disbelief. I am not responsible for your acceptance or rejection of the truth. I am only responsible for my own. I'm sure there will be much for which I'll have to answer. But there is one major difference! My sins are hidden by the blood of Jesus who loves me even when I'm mistaken or drastically in error. I only answer to God, my Savior. Can you say the same?

Since I answer only to God, I intend to speak my piece, to express my views, to say what I think...and if you don't like it...well, "Tish Tish!"