Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is Christianity a Religion of Peace?



Islam’s Arguments Answered & Positive Christian Case
By Keith Thompson



Section 1) Genocide and Terrorism Condoned in Old Testament?
Section 2) Sexual Mistreatment of Women Condoned in Old Testament?
Section 3) Genocide and Terrorism Condoned in New Testament?
Section 4) Positive Case for Christianity as Religion of Peace



Section 1) Genocide, Terrorism and Violence Condoned in the Old Testament?

Since Islam is clearly a threat to society in light of its religious texts calling for violent offensive jihad, chaos and world conquest, Muslims have sought to divert the attention of people by misinterpreting certain Old Testament texts to make them sound like they also support such things.  However, there are many problems with the Islamic distortion of the Hebrew Scriptures in this regard.

OT Used Near Eastern Hyperbolic Warfare
Literary Device: Exaggeration Rhetoric

When the utter destruction of Israel’s enemies is ordered or reported using language such as “kill both man and woman, child and infant” (1 Samuel 15:3), “they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys” (Joshua 6:21), “devoting to destruction every city, men, women, and children” (Deuteronomy 3:6), “Kill, and devote them to destruction” (Jeremiah 50:21), etc., these are common Near Eastern literary devices for warfare which are not meant to be taken literally. As we go through the episodes we will see evidence these are not literal commands or accounts. As the scholar Paul Copan observed concerning these devices:

“But ancient Near Eastern accounts readily used “utterly/completely destroy” and other obliteration language even when the event didn’t literally happen that way. Here’s a sampling:

Egypt’s Tuthmosis III (later fifteenth century) boasted that ‘the numerous army of Mitanni was overthrown within the hour, annihilated totally, like those (now) not existent.’ In fact, Mitanni’s forced lived on to fight in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries BC.
Hittite king Mursilli II (who ruled from 1322-1295 BC) recorded making ‘Mt. Asharpaya empty (of humanity)’ and the ‘mountains of Tarikarimu empty (of humanity).’
The ‘bulletin’ of Ramses II tells of Egypt’s less-than-spectacular victories in Syria (around 1274 BC). Nevertheless, he announces that he slew ‘the entire force’ of the Hittites’ indeed ‘all the chiefs of all the countries,’ disregarding the ‘millions of foreigners,’ which he considered ‘chaff.’
In the Merneptah Stele (ca. 1230 BC), Rameses II’s son Merneptah announced, ‘Israel is wasted, his seed is not,’ another premature declaration.
Moab’s king Mesha (840/830 BC) bragged that the Northern Kingdom of ‘Israel has utterly perished for always,’ which was over a century premature. The Assyrians devastated Israel in 722 BC.
The Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (701-681 BC) used similar hyperbole: ‘The soldiers of Hirimme, dangerous enemies, I cut down with the sword, and not one escaped’”(1).

Copan cites as his references on these issues K. Lawson Younger Jr., Ancient Conquest Accounts: A Study in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical History Writing, [Sheffield Academic Press, 1990], p. 227-28, 245; K. A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, [Eerdmans, 2003], pp. 173-74; and Lori K. Rowlett, Joshua and the Rhetoric of Violence: A New Historical Analysis, [Continuum, 1996], especially chap. 5.

As we go through these Old Testament war accounts we will discover evidence that the “utterly destroy them” language was not meant to be taken literally but in a hyperbolic sense in conformity with this Near Eastern exaggeration rhetoric. Moreover, in the early Islamic religious sources Allah takes responsibility for much of this warfare, and Muhammad on more than one occasion stated that he agreed with the content and inspiration of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures of his day which are the same ones we have today. Hence, when all is said and done, Muslims have no basis to criticize these biblical texts and wars.

The Canaanites

“1When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, 2and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. . . . 5But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire” (Deuteronomy 7:1-2, 5 cf. Joshua 6:17-21; 10:1, 28-42; 11:7-11).

In his misrepresentation of history Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari remarks: “Jesus allows Moses to completly [sic] destroy cities and show NO MERCY, NO MERCY AT ALL meaning you can do whatever you want to them”(2). However, Zaatari’s assessment suffers from inaccuracies on at least three levels.

First, this passage is following the ancient Near Eastern hyperbolic exaggeration rhetoric. Not everyone was killed despite the presence of strong language denoting victory which was common at the time. We see conformation of this in Judges 2:1-3 which shows that after the wars with the Canaanites there were still many living. Concerning the seven Canaanite nations, the Angel of the Lord said the following to the people of God after the wars: “I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you” (Judges 2:3). Hence, the “utterly destroy them” language is not to be taken literally since many Canaanites were still alive even after the battles with them which, according to Zaatari, resulted in their literal complete and utter destruction wherein no mercy was shown.

Second, Genesis 15:16 shows God gave the Amorites (i.e., the most powerful tribe of the Canaanites) four-hundred years to repent. He let them live for four generations since their sin did not yet peak to the point of no return until that time: “And they [Abraham’s offspring] shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). Thus, the Canaanites brought destruction on themselves by reaching unthinkable levels of wickedness and not repenting.

Third, as noted, the eventual level of immorality embraced by the Canaanites brought on their destruction. God as the judge of creation has the right to execute judgement when he wishes. Leviticus 18:6, 20-30 demonstrates the seven nations of the land of Canaan (vv. 24-25, 28) allowed incest (v. 6), adultery (v. 20), child sacrifice to Molech (i.e., an idol with a furnace for a belly where the children would be incinerated) (v. 21), homosexuality (v. 22), and bestiality (v. 23). Much of their sexual sin was in the context of religious temple sex.(3) Thus they were judged and expelled from the land because of these unthinkable transgressions. Commenting on these verses the Old Testament scholar R. Laird Harris notes, “The Canaanites had no covenant relation to God. Yet for their excess of abominations God punished them, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”(4)

It is interesting Zaatari seemingly defends these religious sexual abominations of the Canaanites (incestuous, adulterous, homosexual, bestial, temple sex etc) as well as their religious child sacrifices to their idol Molech in his complaining remark concerning Deuteronomy 7:5’s command to destroy the Canaanites’ alters, carvings, images, pillars and places of worship, “Jesus orders Moses and his army to destroy all their images and their places of worship, so much for religous [sic] tolerance among Christians.”(5)

Saul and the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15:1-4

“1And Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD. 2Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'" 4So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah” (1 Samuel 15:1-4).

Muslim apologist Nadir Ahmed argues, “Christians also believe that God inspired the Bible. Therefore, if God = Jesus, then it was Jesus(God) who inspired this commands to go commit genocide against this nation of people as we read in 1 Sam 15:3. These are Jesus Christ's words. What is even more demented, is that Jesus Christ ordered the killing of babies!”(6). However, there are several problems with Ahmed’s “analysis.”

As noted, this type of “destroy all that they have . . . man and woman, child and infant” language was commonplace in the Near East and is not to be taken literally. It was simply a way back then of saying there was going to be war victory. How do we know Saul did not literally annihilate all the Amalekites including women and children? Because later in 1 Samuel 27:8 we see that there are Amalekites still living. They are also seen again in 1 Samuel 30 in massive number (four hundred) (vv. 1, 17). Thus, to argue Saul literally wiped out of all Amalekites including women and children is erroneous since the totality of the book demonstrates a great number of them were not meant to be killed. Again when those in the Ancient Near East would say they were going to (or did) wipe out all of the people of a land; it was a hyperbole to communicate desired decisive war victory.

Now it must be asked: who were the Amalekites and why was war with them justified? Immediately after Israel crossed the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness in Rephidim in Exodus 17, these barbaric nomad Amalekites viciously attacked them there (Exodus 17:1, 8). As Copan notes, “The Amalekites were relentless in their aim to destroy Israel, and they continued to be a thorn in Israel’s side for generations (e. g., Judg. 3:13; 6:3-5, 33; 7:12; 10:12; etc).”(7)

Excursus on Joshua's War's in Jericho and Ai

Muslims and other unbelievers quote Joshua 6:21 and 8:25 in order to claim the Bible supports genocide. The texts say "Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword (Joshua 6:21)," and "And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai" (Joshua 8:25).

However, this follows the same pattern of Ancient Near Eastern exaggeration war victory rhetoric and concerns attacks on forts and military garrisons, not civilians, despite the strong language. As Paul Copan notes:
"There is no archeological evidence of civilian populations at Jericho or Ai. . . . Jericho and Ai were military strongholds. In fact, Jericho guarded the travel routes from the Jordan Valley up to population centers in the hill country. It was the first line of defense at the junction of three roads leading to Jerusalem, Bethel, and Orpah. That means that Israel's wars here were directed towards government and military installments; this is where the king, the army, and the priesthood resided. . . . The term city ['ir] reinforces this idea. Jericho, Ai, and many other Canaanite cities were mainly used for government buildings and operations, while the rest of the people (including women and children) lived in the surrounding countryside. The Amarna letters (fourteenth century BC)-correspondence between Egyptian pharaohs and leaders in Canaan and surrounding regions-reveal the citadel cities or fortresses such as Jerusalem and Shechem were distinct from (and under the control of) their population centers. . . . Other biblical evidence of various cities used as fortresses, citadels, or military outposts exists (e.g., Rabbah in 2 Sam. 12:26; Zion in 2 Sam. 5:7 and 1 Chron. 11:5, 7). . . . According to the best calculations from Canaanite inscriptions and other archeological evidence (i.e., no artifacts or 'prestige' ceramics indicating wealth/social status, as one would expect in population centers), Jericho was a small settlement of probably one hundred or fewer soldiers. This is why Israel could circle it seven times over and then do battle against it on the same day" (Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?, [Baker Books, 2011], pp. 175-176).
Quran and Ahadith Take Responsibility
for Wars of Saul and David

Although Muslims condemn such wars of Saul and David, the Islamic religious sources place the responsibility of them onto Allah. The Allah of Islam claims to be behind them. Thus, Muslims must condemn their own false god if they are going to be consistent in their condemnation of these wars. In Surah 2:249-252 of the Quran Allah takes responsibility for the wars of Saul and David which can be found in the book 1 Samuel, the very book containing Saul’s wars which Muslims condemn:

“49And when Saul marched forth with his forces, he said, "God will test you by a river: He who drinketh of it shall not be of my band; but he who shall not taste it, drinking a drink out of the hand excepted, shall be of my band." And, except a few of them, they drank of it. And when they had passed it, he and those who believed with him, the former said, "We have no strength this day against (Djalout) Goliath and his forces:" But they who held it as certain that they must meet God, said, "How oft, by God's will, hath a small host vanquished a numerous host! and God is with the steadfastly enduring." 50And when they went forth against Goliath and his forces, they said, "O our Lord! pour out steadfastness upon us, and set our feet firm, and help us against the infidels!" 51And by the will of God they routed them; and (Daood) David slew Goliath; and God gave him the kingship and wisdom, and taught him according to His will: and were it not for the restraint of one by means of the other, imposed on men by God, verily the earth had been utterly corrupted. But God is bounteous to his creatures. 52Such are the signs of God: with truth do we rehearse them to thee, for one of the Sent Ones art Thou” (S. 2:249-252).

In fact such wars are called “the signs of God” in S. 2:252. This truly demonstrates the inconsistency of the modern Muslim since they are condemning military expeditions which the Quran speaks of with approval.

Moreover, In Sahih Bukhari we learn that Muhammad and his companions affirmed Saul’s rightful authority to wage wars; the same Saul and 1 Samuel wars Muslims vehemently attack:

“Narrated Al-Bara: The companions of (the Prophet) Muhammad who took part in Badr, told me that their number was that of Saul's (i.e. Talut’s) companions who crossed the river (of Jordan) with him and they were over three-hundred-and-ten men. By Allah, none crossed the river with him but a believer.”(8)
 
Muhammad and his early companions were perfectly fine with the wars of Saul which modern Muslims attack. They even referenced his military campaigns as something positive and ordained by God. In fact they identified those who fought alongside Saul as “believer[s].”

Muhammad Affirmed the Validity and Inspiration
of the OT Hebrew Scriptures (thus their wars)

Since Muhammad granted the validity and divine inspiration of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, Muslims show themselves to be inconsistent in their attack on the wars contained in those texts. In Sunan Abu Dawud we read:

“Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.”(9)

Hence, Muslims need to stop attacking the wars in the Hebrew Scriptures since Muhammad said they were of divine origin and hence valid. Moreover, in Ibn Ishaq’s The Life of Muhammad, the earliest Islamic biography of Muhammad, we are told he said he affirmed the Torah (and hence the wars therein) is “the truth from God”:

“Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [Muhammad] and said: ‘Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham and believe in the Torah which we have and testify that it is the truth from God?’ He replied, ‘certainly.’”(10)

However, Muslims do not care about the fact that Muhammad said he believed the Torah (and hence the wars in it) were from God. They will discard these early authentic Islamic sources and or distort the clear meaning of them so that they can continue in their vain and obtuse attacks on the Holy Scriptures. Muhammad also affirms the divine inspiration of the Torah in the Quran itself:

“Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e.Muhammad SAW) whom they find written with them in the Taurat (Torah) (Deut, xviii, 15) and the Injeel (Gospel) (John xiv, 16)” (S. 7:157 Hilali-Kahn translation).

Again this is the same Torah Muslims criticize in regards to YHWH wars. It is so clear how divorced from early Islam these modern Muslim apologists are. If they were to faithfully follow Muhammad then they would have to affirm the divine nature of the wars of the Old Testament.

The Islamic Allah Admittedly Destroyed Cities
and the World: Men, Women and Children

The inconsistency of Muslims is further seen when one notes how the Islamic Allah took responsibility for the flood of the world as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These events involved the deaths of all involved: men, women and children. Hence, Muslims show how desperate they are for argumentation since they condemn the true biblical God for things which the Islamic Allah is himself guilty of.

Concerning the flood of the world we read the following in Surah 11:44 and 71:25-26 of the Quran:

“It was proclaimed: ‘O earth, swallow your water,’ and ‘O sky, cease.’ The water then subsided; the judgment was fulfilled. The ark finally rested on the hills of Judea. It was then proclaimed: ‘The transgressors have perished’” (S. 11:44).

“Because of their sins they were drowned and assigned to the hellfire. They found no helpers to protect them from GOD. Noah also said, ‘My Lord, do not leave a single disbeliever on earth’” (S. 71:25-26).

Although modern Muslim apologists condemn the true God of the Bible for allegedly killing tribes or cities of unbelievers, the Islamic Allah destroyed every disbeliever on the face of the earth. Moreover, the Allah of the Quran took responsibility for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Surah 11:82 and 37:133-136.

“When Our Decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread, layer on layer” (S. 11:82).

“133And verily, Lout (Lot) was one of the Messengers. 134When We saved him and his family, all, 135Except an old woman (his wife) who was among those who remained behind. 136Then We destroyed the rest [i.e. the towns of Sodom at the place of the Dead Sea (now) in Palestine]” (S. 37:133-136 Hilali-Khan translation).

By Muhammad’s own admission, his false god Allah took responsibility for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Surah 37:133-136 is clear all people were destroyed: men, women and children. Thus, Muslims are truly inconsistent for condemning the true God of the Holy Bible for decreeing the destruction of unbelieving cities in the Old Testament.

For evidence Islam teaches terrorism and genocide see:

Section 2) Sexual Mistreatment of Women Condoned in Old Testament?

One of the most common allegations favored by Muslim apologists is that the Old Testament allegedly condones the rape of women. Hence, we will address the fallacious arguments one by one.

Rape of Virgins Acceptable in Deuteronomy 22:28-29?

“28If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).

Muslim apologist Zaatari claims this text “makes it okay to rape a virgin” and that “the only punishment is that you have marry her.”(11) However, this is incorrect since the text is not talking about rape. This text is referring to a consensual willing encounter between man and a virgin as we will prove based on the context, original language, lexical analysis, and scholarship. Context is important for establishing the meaning here. Deuteronomy 22:23-29 discusses three moral crimes. 1) Adultery between two adults who consent (vv. 23-24); 2) forcible rape of an engaged virgin (vv. 25-27); and 3) consensual fornication with an unengaged virgin after seduction (vv. 28-29). As noted, various Muslims allege scenario three is rape. And since the punishment of this scenario is the man had to pay fifty shekels of silver to the woman’s father (a fine) as well as marry her, they argue this is quite unfair for the woman as well as an injustice.

First, when rape is actually discussed in vv. 25-27 (not the text in view), the punishment for the man is execution. Thus, it is erroneous for Zaatari to claim the Bible “makes it okay to rape a virgin.” This text unquestionably proves it is not okay. So Zaatari’s deceptive argument is already refuted.

Second, it is clear vv. 28-29, the text in view, is referring to a consensual sexual encounter and not rape since v. 28 says if “they are found” (עִמָּ֑הּ וְנִמְצָֽאוּ׃) which literally means “her and they are discovered” suggesting willing participation from both parties. It does not say “he is found.” As Old Testament scholar Edward J. Woods points out: “the terminology here is different [than the case of rape], which points rather to a case of seduction with the expression and they are discovered (v. 28b). If they are discovered, then the man is obliged to marry the girl, and is prevented from ever divorcing her (v. 29b).”(12)

Third, further evidence vv. 28-29 does not refer to rape is the fact that you have a parallel in Exodus 22:16 which is without question not about rape but seduction, and the penalty is the exact same as in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the text in view. Exodus 22:16 says, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife” (Exodus 22:16). Thus, this parallel text or backdrop demonstrates Deuteronomy 22:28-29 likewise concerns consensual relations and not rape.

Fourth, when rape is actually discussed in v. 25 the Hebrew word for “forces” indicating rape is taking place, is châzaq which carries the meaning of a firm or strong forcefulness.(13) However, this word is not even used in vv. 28-29, the text in question. Instead two words are used there: tâphaś when it says “lay hold on her” (v. 28), and ‛ânâh when it says he “humbled her” (v. 29). Regarding the first one, tâphaś, it can mean to “lay hold of” or “handle” without there necessarily being any force.(14) The same word is used in Genesis 4:21 of someone who lays hold on a harp and plays it. The concept of force is absent. It is also used in Jeremiah 2:8 of handling or lay hold of the Law or Torah in a teaching situation. Again, there is no firm or strong forcefulness here. Thus, we have great reason to affirm this is the kind of way it is being used in Deuteronomy 22:28. The man lays hold on or handles the virgin in a non-forceful consensual way. Thus, there is no rape involved.

In regards to second one, ‛ânâh, this word is often translated here as “humbled her” or “violated her” with the meaning that her virginity is being defiled. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words notes that the word can refer to “consensual encounters in which a woman’s virginity is lost (Deut. 21:14; 22:24, 29).”(15) Notice William Mounce affirms Deuteronomy 22:29’s use of ‛ânâh refers not to rape as some Muslims allege, but to virginity being lost in a consensual situation. James Strong’s Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible supports this by affirming the word can mean “defile.”(16) Deuteronomy 21:14 supports this since the same word is used there in the context of a woman having her virginity taken in a non-rape marriage situation. That is, it is an example of the same word being employed to convey virginity being lost without rape or strong force being involved. This backs our case that when it is used in Deuteronomy 22:29 it is in a non-force and non-rape context. In sum, the evidence demonstrates the two relevant Hebrew words used in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (tâphaś and ‛ânâh) are not meant to be understood as denoting rape. Therefore, to argue rape is acceptable according to this text and that the only punishment for it was that a man had to marry his victim is completely inaccurate.

Fifth, Muslims do not realize that when this text says a man must marry the virgin who he had consensual relations with, having thus defiled her virginity (‛ânâh), marrying the man is the best thing for the woman. For, if she did not marry him then no one else would marry her because the culture was very strict in regards to purity and virginity. Being defiled before marriage was a very grievous shame, so much so the woman would be viewed as an outcast. Thus, it is for the sake of the woman’s own survival and well-being that this law in vv. 28-29 dictated the man marries and stays with her forever after defiling (‛ânâh) her virginity.

To further confirm our overall position we quote Old Testament scholar K. A. Mathews who remarks:

“In these two legal cases [Deut 22:23-24 and 28-29], there is no rape but a shaming of the woman because of improper sexual intercourse. When rape occurs in the remaining two passages, the description of the act includes the verb hâzaq, ‘seized’ (Deut 22:25-27; 2 Sam 13:11-14).”(17)

 Likewise, the scholar John Gill commented on v. 28 noting,

and lay hold on her, and lie with her, she yielding to it, and so is not expressive of a rape, as Deu_22:25 where a different word from this is there used; which signifies taking strong hold of her, and ravishing her by force.”(18)

For evidence Islam teaches it is permissible to rape married war captives see:


Rape of Virgins Advocated in Numbers 31:17-18?

“17Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves” (Numbers 31:17-18).

Offering an Islamic distortion and misuse of this text is Zaatari who claims that in this text the Israelites “left all the virgins to themselves whom they obviously slept with.”(19) However, this inaccuracy or lie is refuted when 1) one realizes premarital sex (fornication) is condemned in Deuteronomy 22:13-21; and 2) one consults 25:1-4, 6 of Numbers for the context of 31:17-18.

Once task two is done one understands the Moabite and Midianite women had sexually enticed the Israelite men to worship false gods such as Baal. Hence, the reason God spared the young virgins among the Midianites in 31:17-18, instead of the older women who slept with the Israelite men, was because the young virgins were not guilty of this heinous crime. Only the older women were. It was therefore a kind and merciful gift that these young innocent virgins were spared by Moses and the Israelites in 31:17-18. As Old Testament scholar Ronald B. Allen relayed,

“Only young girls . . . would be saved alive; only they had not contaminated themselves with the debauchery of Midian and Moab in Baal worship (v. 18). The suggestion is that the participation of women from Midian in the debased orgiastic worship of Baal described in chapter 25 was extensive, not selective.”(20)

It is the Muslims who read into the text the false idea that the Israelites took the young virgin girls in order to sleep with them. The text does not actually say such a thing, however. Thus, it is not “obvious” that this occurred as Zaatari claims. This is the Muslim mindset and lifestyle (Muhammad slept with children) being read backwards into the text when the text itself does not actually say these things. Titus 1:15 gives the reason why Muslims such as Zaatari pervert this merciful act toward these innocent virgin girls turning it into something corrupt and perverse: “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Titus 1:15).

Rape Condoned in Isaiah 13:3, 16 & Zechariah 14:1-2?

“3Imyself have commanded my consecrated ones, and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger, my proudly exulting ones. . . . 16Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished” (Isaiah 13:3, 16).

“1Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:1-2).

First, Muslim apologist Ahmed argues God prescriptively commanded (and thus finds it morally acceptable) the rape mentioned in Isaiah 13:16, since, v. 3 describes the Medes men who carried it out as לִמְקֻדָּשָׁ֑י (translated as “consecrated ones” ESV, NASB, ISV, ASV, ERV, WEB, “chosen ones” or “chosen soldiers” HCSB, NET, “sanctified ones” KJV, DRB, WBT, YLT, and once as “holy ones” GWT). Nadir chose the last trasnaltion for his article of course (the least attested translation). He argues, “‘Holy ones’ are the equivalent of the born again spirit filled believer in God who will commit this mass rape.”(21)

This is untrue. The purpose in identifying these men as לִמְקֻדָּשָׁ֑י was not to stress their moral purity or spiritual state, but to explain such men have been set apart or chosen/consecrated to be utilized for this judgement. Isaiah scholar Geoffrey W. Grogan notes that the word “has no character reference here, but like all words from the root qdš, it implies that the persons so designated have been set apart from others, set apart, that is, by the Lord for his purpose in punitive destruction.”(22) Why were these Medes set apart from others for this task (judgement)? We are told in vv. 17-18. It is because of their ruthlessness as a people. Thus they were a fit tool for God’s purpose in the judgement of the Babylonian Empire (hence that is why they were consecrated, chosen, or set apart in v. 3). Therefore, Ahmed’s argument that God considers the men who carry out such acts morally pure or saintly is refuted. This is a prophecy of God stirring up the Medes to destroy Babylonian Empire for its wickedness (vv. 1, 11, 17). God was not calling the Medes holy born-again Christians. That is absurd.

Second, Ahmed argued that because this event is “celebrated” as “the day of the Lord” in v. 6 (in some kind of festival sense?) that therefore the events surrounding it are to be celebrated by Christians: “If God viewed rape as some kind of abomination, why would he celebrate a day of gang rape as the ‘day of the Lord’?”(23) However, it should be plain that the phrase “day of the Lord” was not given to denote “celebration.” Instead this phrase is, as Grogan notes, “a frequent prophetic theme emphasizing the certainty and decisiveness of the Lord’s historical judgement in the future.”(24) Rape is condemned in Deuteronomy 22:25, not “celebrated.” Ahmed’s blind hatred for God and the Bible seems to prevent him from rational thought on this point.

Third, when Ahmed and other Muslims argue this prophecy (as well as Zechariah 14:1-2) establishes God thinks rape is morally acceptable based on the fact that God included these instances of it in His eternal decree or plan for history, they fail to take into account the biblical teaching on God’s eternal decree (Isaiah 46:9-10) vs. His prescriptive will. That is, His eternal ordained plan vs. his temporal commands. Just because an event is ordained as part of God’s eternal decree for history, this does not mean it is morally acceptable to Him and that those men who were involved in these events (Medes in Isaiah 13 & Gentile nations in Zechariah 14) will not also procure the wrath of God for their actions. Consider for example how God’s temporal command is to not murder (Exodus 20:13; Mark 10:19), and yet the murder (crucifixion) of His Son Jesus as well as everything surrounding it (the acts of Pilate, Herod, the Jews and Romans) was part of His eternal decree or predestined plan (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). That God eternally decreed the murder of His Son should take place, as well as the events surrounding it, does not stop the fact that those who murdered Jesus will be punished for their acts since they violated God’s prescriptive will or command thereby displeasing God (Acts 1:16-19, 25; 12:23). Hence, God eternally decreeing that the Medes pillage the Babylonian Empire and even rape its women (as well as the events in Zechariah 14:1-2), although involved in His plan for history, is not part of His prescriptive will or temporal command (which reflect His Holy character). As noted, God condemns rape in his prescriptive will and command (Deuteronomy 22:25) because he detests it. Thus he is not okay with it morally just because it plays a part in His eternal decree for history in regards to a judgement on a people.

In light of the forgoing it is specious to claim that rape is acceptable according to God based on these texts. Moreover, Muhammad himself stole the biblical concept that whatsoever happens has ultimately been decreed by God in the past. Therefore, I do not understand why Muslims would argue against God ordaining everything (even bad things or the way judgements take place on the earth). Surah 9:51 says “Nothing will happen to us except what God has decreed for us” (S. 9:51). Surah 76:29-30 says, “. . . whoso willeth, taketh the way unto his Lord: But ye shall not will, unless God willeth; for God is knowing, [and] wise” (S. 76:29-30). In fact, in Sahih Muslim Muhammad taught everything a man does has been decreed or foreordained for him already since Allah breathes sin into the souls of men in accordance with their destiny:

“Two men of the tribe of Muzaina came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah's Messenger, what is your opinion that the people do in the world and strive for, is something decreed for them; something preordained for them and will their fate in the Hereafter be determined by the fact that their Prophets brought them teachings which they did not act upon and thus they became deserving of punishment? Thereupon, he said: Of course, it happens as it is decreed by Destiny and preordained for them, and this view is confirmed by this verse of the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious: ‘Consider the soul and Him Who made it perfect, then breathed into it its sin and its piety’ (xci. 8).”(25)

Thus it is inconsistent and hypocritical for Muslims to argue against the God of the Bible decreeing all things in eternity past (including bad things) since Muhammad himself stole this biblical concept of God’s sovereignty and incorporated it into Islam (though not completely since there are also differences). If YHWH is wrong for decreeing the judgement of Babylon the way He did in Isaiah 13:3, 16 (and also for ordaining Zechariah 14:1-2), then the fictitious Allah of Islam is also wrong for sovereignly decreeing, predestining or preordaining everything men do, and for breathing sin into the souls of men so that they will fulfil their sinful destinies.

Section 3) Genocide and Terrorism Condoned in New Testament?

“Buy a Sword” in Luke 22:36-38

An important and very relevant text which is commonly quoted by Muslims in this debate is Luke 22:36. When we consult the context we read:

“36He said to them, ‘But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment.’ 38And they said, ‘Look, Lord, here are two swords.’ And he said to them, ‘It is enough’” (Luke 22:36-38)

Muslims apologist Osama Abdullah offers the common Islamic argument concerning this text when he asks, “why did the ‘Prince of Peace’, Jesus peace be upon him, order his followers to buy swords? Isn't this a compromise to the ‘peace’ that the prince came for?(26) However, there are a number of difficulties associated with viewing this as an anti-peace text which advocates violence.

First, after commanding the twelve disciples (vv. 11, 14) to buy a sword in v. 36, Jesus gives the reasoning behind this command. He explains in v. 37 that the reason was because “Scripture must be fulfilled” when it says “he was numbered with the transgressors.” This is a quotation of Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophetic messianic text. The only reason Jesus commanded the disciples to buy a sword, therefore, was to fulfill Isaiah 53:12 which said he would be numbered (or reckoned) with transgressors. By possessing two swords the disciples would symbolize transgressors. It is the fulfilment of prophecy which is behind his command to buys swords, not literal militant thinking.

Second, it is clear Jesus’ command to buy swords had nothing to do with actual violence since in v. 38 the disciples say they bought two of them. Then Jesus said that was sufficient. If Jesus seriously wanted the twelve disciples to buy swords for the purpose of violence, then he would not say two are enough. He would tell them that was not enough and to get more. This demonstrates the purpose was, again, to fulfil prophecy, and not to commit real violence. As Craig A. Evans remarked, “Had Jesus actually advocated armed combat two swords could scarcely have been ‘enough.’”(27)

Third, when Peter did wrongly use his sword for violence in vv. 49-51 (cf. John 18:10), Jesus chastises him and tells him to put his sword back demonstrating the purpose for the swords was not violence:

“49And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, ‘Lord, shall we strike with the sword?’ 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him” (Luke 22:49-51).

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword’” (Matthew 26:52).

Jesus did not intend these purchased swords to be used for violence as the Muslims suggest, for, if that were Jesus’ aim then we would not see him rebuking his disciples for using them for that purpose. Moreover, the general teaching in Matthew 26:52’s “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” makes is crystal clear Jesus did not advocate violence for Christians. These facts are recognized by Walter L. Liefeld who notes, “when the disciples were armed with these swords, Jesus opposed their use (vv. 49-51). Moreover, the tone of v. 52 is non-militant.”(28)

At this point a common Muslim approach is to argue that Jesus only rebuked Peter because they were outnumbered by Roman soldiers and would have lost the fight if they used the two swords for violence. However, in Matthew 26:53, which comes right after Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, Jesus shows he could have allowed his disciples to use swords violently against the Jews and Romans if he wanted to since he asks, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Thus, it is specious to claim the reason Jesus told Peter not to use his sword was because they would lose the fight. They could have won and therefore the reason Jesus told Peter to put away His sword was because He was actually opposed to the violent use of swords in regards to new covenant Christianity.

In sum, the evidence shows Jesus did not command the disciples to buy swords in Luke 22:36 for the purpose of violence. He did so to fulfil Isaiah 53:12 in a non-violent fashion.

“I Bring not Peace but a Sword” in Matthew 10:34

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
This text is presented as though it affirms Jesus wished for his followers to use the physical sword on the non-believers. Offering the common Islamic misuse of this text is the Muslim apologist Zaatari who claims,

“So Jesus makes it crystal clear that he is not here to send peace, far from it. Let us in fact read on from Matthew: Verse 35: For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. So in Jesus' own words, he did not come down to preach peace. . .”(29)
However, in order to understand what Jesus meant in 10:34-35 when he said he came not to bring peace but a sword, and that he came to set man against his father etc., one must consult the context of Matthew 10. If the context is ignored Christ’s point is missed. Rather than advocating physical violence, a literal sword and setting Christians on the offensive against their parents, this chapter actually has to do with Christian persecution. Christ is teaching that his advent will result in the death of Christians, the sword against Christians, and unbelieving family members persecuting Christian family members because the world hates Christ and His followers.

The theme of violent persecution against Christians is taught all through-out Matthew 10. In vv. 16-20 Jesus says He is sending his followers out as sheep amidst wolves who will be handed over to governors for flogging and execution. In vv. 21-22 Jesus says “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:21-22). Now Jesus’ words in v. 35 make sense when he says “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father. . .” He is saying his advent will necessarily result in Christians being persecuted by their own family members. Why? Verse 22 explains it is because “you will be hated by all for my name's sake.” Christian persecution is also mentioned in context in vv. 23-26, 28, and 39.

Thus it is quite clear Jesus was not telling Christians to pick up the sword. He was not commanding Christians to go on the violent offense against their family members. That is absurd. The context is clearly about followers of Christ being hated by the world and persecuted. Yet, in spite of this Jesus commands his followers to remain peaceful since Jesus is the Prince of Peace: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). As New Testament scholar Robert Gundry affirms concerning the context of Matthew 10:34-35:

“The discord has to do not only with the difference between one household member’s confessing Jesus publicly and another household member’s disowning him publicly (as in 10:32-33). It also has to do with a nondisciple’s giving a disciple over to the authorities to be put to death even though the two belong to the same household (as in 10:21; 24:10).”(30)

“Slaughter my Enemies” in Luke 19:27

“But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me’” (Luke 19:27).

The typical Muslim argument concerning this text is that Christianity, as a norm, promotes the slaughter of the unbeliever. For example Abdullah Smith offers the following vague explanation: “Jesus promoted the killing of enemies (Luke 19:27).”(31) However, this is not a text telling Christians to kill non-Christians as a norm.

Luke 19:27, the text in question, is the last verse in the parable of the ten minas, otherwise known as the parable of money usage, which spans from vv. 11-27. The actual meaning of the parable demonstrates Jesus was not commanding Christians to go around executing unbelievers. The parable concerns one of noble birth (Jesus) who goes far off (heaven) to be appointed King and then return (vv. 12, 15), as well as his servants (followers/disciples). Christ gives ten servants ten minas each and tells them to put that money to work until he comes back (v. 13). Reporting back to Christ upon his kingly return (second coming) in vv. 16-19, two of the servants are said to have put their money to use having earned more money with it (converts). This, as Gundry notes, represents “the multiplication of converts through the disciples’ evangelistic labors.”(32) However, in vv. 20-23 a third servant did nothing with his money and is therefore judged as a “wicked servant” (v. 22). His mina is taken away and given to those loyal servants who already had ten (vv. 24-26). Finally, in v. 27 Jesus finishes by telling his followers to bring his enemies to him for slaughter, that is, those who refuse his rightful reign upon his return.

Luke 19:27 is clearly talking about the return of Christ at the end of the world – the second coming when He returns with his saints to destroy His enemies after being exalted in heaven. Therefore, this is not a universal command for Christians to slaughter the unbeliever today like we find in Islam (S. 9:29). That is a careless misuse of the biblical text. This fact is evidenced by the mentions of Jesus’ “return” within the parable itself (vv. 12, 15). It is also confirmed by the fact that v. 12 mentions Jesus only returning after first going to a “distant country” for His kingly exaltation. This language is meant to show Jesus would return only after a very long period since it takes a long time to go to a “distant country” and come back. Hence, this refers to his second coming in the distant future. New Testament scholar William Hendriksen shows, “The idea that the Son of Man will not return at once is stressed also in certain other passages, two of the clearest being Matt. 25:5 (‘While the bridegroom tarried,’ A.V.), and Matt. 25:19 (‘A long while afterward the master . . . came’). See also Matt. 24:14; II Thess. 2:2, 3; II Peter 3:4-9; Rev. 20:1-3, 7-13.”(33)

That this parable concerns the return of Christ is also evidenced by the fact that the theme of slaughtering enemies is, according to the New Testament, connected with the second coming of Christ. For example, Revelation 17:12-14 and 19:11, 14, 19-21 shows that the antichrist will assemble ten kings to unite and make war against Christ upon His return:

“12And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:12-14).

“11Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. . . . 14And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses” (Revelation 19:11, 14).

19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.  20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Revelation 19:19-21).

Hence, when Christ’s saints slay his “enemies” in Luke 19:27 this is the picture in view. It is the final battle of Armageddon where the antichrist, false prophet and world’s armies who assembled against Christ are destroyed. This demonstrates the “enemies” mentioned in Luke 19:27 who Christ orders to be slaughtered are not average unbelievers today.

Moreover, the Luke 19 parable itself proves Christians are not to go around and slay unbelievers today since it mentions using your mina to make more mina for Christ (i.e., to create converts). This is the duty of the Christian from the time in-between Christ’s ascension and future return, not violence. Confirming the end-time nature of the text is Gundry who notes, “The nobleman’s coming back represents the return of Jesus at the end of the church age.”(34) New Testament scholar Liefeld also affirms this parable concerns the “future return of the Lord.”(35)

Lastly, if the Muslim objects to the saints destroying God’s enemies who wage war against the Lamb (Jesus) in the end-times, then they must also condemn Islam as a religion of terror. For, if violent end-times scenarios negate a religion from being one of peace, then Islam ends up being thrown under the bus as well. This is because Islam has a very violent end-times scenario.

According to Islam the Dajjal (false Islamic version of antichrist) will be followed by seventy thousand Jews. In Sahih Muslim we read, “Anas b. Malik reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said. The Dajjal would be followed by seventy thousand Jews of Isfahan wearing Persian shawls.”(36) Moreover, Dajjal will be followed by many unbelievers and hypocrites. As Sahih Bukhari says, “Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, ‘Ad-Dajjal will come and encamp at a place close to Medina and then Medina will shake thrice whereupon every Kafir (disbeliever) and hypocrite will go out (of Medina) towards him.’”(37) Then Isa (the false Islamic Jesus) will return and destroy the unbelievers and Dajjal as relayed by Sahih Muslim: “Allah would send Christ, son of Mary, and he will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damscus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels . . . Every non-believer who would smell the odour of his self would die and his breath would reach as far as he would be able to see. He would then search for him (Dajjal) until he would catch hold of him at the gate of Ludd and would kill him.”(38) In fact Islam says the final hour will not arrive until the Muslims slaughter all the Jews. Again Sahih Muslim makes clear:

“Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”(39)
Thus, if Christianity is not peaceful for having a violent end-times scenario then neither is Islam since it has extremely violent end-times according to the early Muhammadan literature. Thus Muslims are very inconsistent in their apologetic in this regard.
In sum, Luke 19:27 concerns Christ’s return and the slaughter of his enemies led by the anti-christ who wage war on Him at the final battle of Armageddon. It has nothing whatsoever to do with normative Christian practice which, in reality, is peaceful evangelism as the parable itself shows (i.e., its insistence on evangelizing and creating converts). Thus, this text can not be used to say Christianity is not a religion of peace (see section 4 for more info on what Christians are actually supposed to do today).

“All Scripture is Profitable” in 2 Timothy 3:16

Muslim polemicists will often cite 2 Timothy 3:16 in order to try to show that Christians should carry out Old Testament warfare according to the apostle Paul. The text reads,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Offering the common Muslim argument is Ahmed who posits:

2 Tim 3:16 states all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Considering that all scripture is profitable, which one of these 4 categories listed in 2 Timothy 3:16 do genocide and terrorism(1 Samuel 15:3) fall in?”(40)

Although we refuted the common Islamic misuse of 1 Samuel 15:3 in section 1 it is still important to address Ahmed’s distortion of 2 Timothy 3:16. In answering his question it must be said that Old Testament wars profit the new covenant Christian concerning doctrine in that such wars explain the doctrine of God’s wrath against sin and His power; they profit us for reproof and correction in that we can point unrepentant people to such war texts where God shows His wrath as a parallel to the coming wrath of God in the afterlife which they will experience unless they repent of their sin; and they profit us for instruction in righteousness since looking to such wars texts where God’s wrath is shown can motivate someone to pursue righteousness as opposed to the type of rebellion which has brought God’s wrath upon nations in the past as shown in the Old Testament. Hence, one can easily use the Old Testament war texts for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness without ever committing violence or incorporating actual acts of Old Testament war into Christian practice. This is consistent with the Apostle Paul’s message of non-violence.

The same Apostle Paul who wrote 2 Timothy 3:16 wrote 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 which forbids violence for Christians. This demonstrates Ahmed’s understanding and application of 2 Timothy 3:16 is contrary to Pauline thought:

“3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Disciples Neglected Offensive Jihad only because of
Expectation of Jesus’ Immanent Return?

When faced with the fact that they are incorrect for arguing the New Testament teaches violence, since, the apostles never went around murdering unbelievers, Muslims explain this away by claiming the reason is because they expected Jesus would return in the very near future. Thus, the Muslims argue the apostles who otherwise would have went around slaying the infidel, chose not to because they were convinced the second coming would happen very shortly. This is the excuse.

There is much evidence against this idea, however. For example, in John 21:18-19 Jesus’ words to Peter demonstrate Peter did not believe Jesus would return in his lifetime, since, Jesus says Peter would grow old and then be martyred:

“18Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go." 19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)” (John 21:18-19).

Moreover in Luke 17:22-24 Christ tells the disciples that although they will want to see His future second coming, they will not see it.

“22And he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23And they will say to you, 'Look, there!' or 'Look, here!' Do not go out or follow them. 24For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day’” (Luke 17:22-24).

Matthew 24:27, 30 makes it clear that when Luke 17:24 mentions “lightning” and the day of the Son of Man that this is referring to the second coming of Christ:

“27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:27, 30).

Hence, in Luke 17:22-24 Jesus was telling the disciples they will not see his second coming. Therefore, it is erroneous to argue that they expected it in their lifetime and thus did not wage war on the infidel for that reason. Instead, it is clear they were peaceful because Christianity is actually a religion of peace.

What is more, Matthew 25:5 indicates Jesus’ return would not be for a long time since it says, “As the bridegroom was delayed. . .” (Matthew 25:5) and Matthew 25:19 says “Now after a long time the master of those servants came” (Matthew 25:19). Moreover, Matthew 24:14 indicates Christ’s return would not be within the lifetime of the disciples since the gospel would need to be spread all over the entire world first: “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Again, it is crystal clear the disciples were peaceful, not because they expected Christ’s return shortly, but because they truly believed in peace.

Now, the few texts Muslims distort on this issue must be covered. In order to try to show the disciples believed Jesus would return very quickly they quote Luke 9:27 which says “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:27). However, this is not referring to Christ’s physical return or second coming. It is referring to seeing the effects of the kingdom of God on earth through Jesus’ ministry which was unfolding. As Luke 17:20-21 later says: “‘The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you’” (Luke 17:20-21).

Another text Muslims abuse in this regard is Matthew 24:34 which says, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34). In context the “all these things” include the tribulation and return of Christ. Thus Muslims argue the reason behind the disciples’ non-violence was not that they believed in peace, but that they anticipated Christ’s immediate return. However, Gundry notes Christ was not using “this generation” in the way people often assume:

“Since in 23:34-36 ‘this generation’ included in addition to Jesus’ contemporaries those who murdered Zechariah in the Old Testament times, and probably earlier martyrs all the way back to Abel, at least in Matthew ‘this generation’ may carry a qualitative as well as temporal meaning (compare the description ‘evil and adulterous’ in 12:39; 16:4) and therefore indicate that this murderous kind of people will continue on till the Son of Man’s coming.”(41)

Hence, since “this generation” is not restricted to mean those presently alive but instead carries a qualitative meaning here, there is no reason to assume this text is saying those alive at the time of Christ would witness the second coming.

The final text to examine which is distorted by Muslims is Hebrews 9:26 which in the King James Version reads, “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26 KJV). Muslims argue this text is teaching Jesus was sacrificed at the end of the world. Hence it allegedly follows the writer to the Hebrews believed Jesus’ return to be imminent. However, by including the English word “world” twice in that verse, the King James made things a bit confusing. Two different Greek words are used here. When it first says “then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world” the Greek is kosmou which does literally mean world. However, when it then says “now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” the Greek is aiōnōn which means “ages” and not world. This is why the majority of translations put “ages” instead of “world” there (NIV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, NET, ISV). Hence, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says aiōn “is sometimes wrongly rendered ‘world.’”(42) So the text is saying Christ would have had to suffer repeatedly since the formation of the world if He offered himself repeatedly every year (since He is eternal cf. 1:2, 10-12). But as for right now, Jesus has appeared at the end of the ages to sacrifice himself. The end of the ages does not refer to the immediate end of the world as Muslims assume. It refers to the consummation of all the previous Jewish ages and the entrance into the new age to come. That is, the Messianic age to come in as seen in Hebrews 6:5. Explaining the rationale is Leon Morris who notes, “It is common thought of the NT writers that God’s decisive action in Christ has altered things radically. The Messianic Age has come–the age that all the preceding ages have led up to.”(43)

Section 4) Positive Case for Christianity as Religion of Peace

Since we have refuted the Muslim misuse of texts in regards to their assertion that Christianity is not a religion of peace, it is time to present positive evidence within the Bible demonstrating Christianity does call for believers to be peaceful with both the believing and unbelieving world since peace is the proper way of life. Although Muslims typically claim the disciples did not go around killing people because they expected Christ’s immanent return (which we refuted in section 3), the Holy Scriptures demonstrates they did not do so because they actually believed in peace as a major tenet of their faith.

For example, Jesus calls believers to love even those who hate and persecute them: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:44, 46). Similarly Jesus taught, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). Since Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) He said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). When Peter momentarily went against Christ’s teachings of peace, Jesus corrected him and said, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Concerning every day living, Jesus said, “Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19).

Moreover, instead of slaying the unbeliever or theological opponents of Christianity, the Apostle Paul said “And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). The believer is to patiently endure evil, correct opponents with gentleness and be kind to all, not slay the unbeliever as Muslims claim.

With regards to what the Christian is to do during the time between Jesus’ ascension and his future second coming, 2 Timothy 4:5 shows it is sharing the gospel while enduring suffering: “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). 1 Peter 2:17 says to “honor everyone”. The Apostle James commanded, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” (James 2:8). The Apostle Peter taught, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Paul lays out the way Christians are to live and not live:

“19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-23).

Concerning the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, not only do they teach the Jews to love one another (“do not devise evil in your hearts against one another” Zechariah 8:17), but also the stranger (non-Jew) from distant lands: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34 cf. Deuteronomy 10:19).

With respect to the personal pupils of the apostles outside the Bible, it is very clear they held to teachings of peace and non-violence as well. Polycarp of Smyrna was a student of John the apostle and we have his extra-biblical writings. He taught, “when absent from you, he [Paul] wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, is the mother of us all.”(44) Hence, very clearly the earliest Christians after the apostles were teaching it is essential to love your neighbor. Polycarp also taught the Philippian men to help their wives in “loving all [others] equally in all chastity.”(45)

Ignatius of Antioch was another student of the apostles. In his extra-biblical writings we see more evidence Christianity is a religion of peace. He taught, “nor does he that possesses love hate any one.”(46) In fact he explicitly declared, “Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth, is brought to an end.”(47) This was the mindset of the students of the apostles, not engaging in offensive jihad against the unbeliever like Islam. Also, in his Epistle to the Trallians he wrote, “every man, love one another with an undivided heart.”(48) In fact Ignatius said the Christians in Rome had a presidency of love(49) which means love, peace and kindness was a priority for the first-century Christians there. Clement of Rome is another extra-biblical writer who knew the apostles. In representing early Christianity’s peaceful teachings and aspirations he said to “seek the common good of all.”(50)

In summary it is very clear that peace is an essential tenet of Christianity. The reason the disciples did not engage in offensive jihad or teach that doctrine was because they believed in peace and love in society. Their followers outside the Bible, the apostolic fathers, further confirm this fact since they taught peace and non-violence as well. Once the evidence is honestly and responsibly assessed there is no other logical conclusion to come to then that Christianity is the religion of peace.



Endnotes:

1.) Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God, [Baker Books. 2011], pp. 171-172
2.) Sami Zaatari, The Terror in the Bible www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/terrorinthebible.htm
3.) Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God, [Baker Books. 2011], p. 159
4.) R. Laird Harris, Leviticus, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 2, [Zondervan, 1990], p. 601
5.) Sami Zaatari, The Terror in the Bible www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/terrorinthebible.htm
6.) Nadir Ahmed, The Terrorism and Genocide of Jesus Christ www.examinethetruth.com/update/Jesus_and_genocide.htm
7.) Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God, [Baker Books. 2011], p. 174
8.) Sahih Bukhari, Book 5, Volume 59, Hadith 293
9.) Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4434
10.) The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, 1995], p. 268
11.) Sami Zaatari, The Bible Allows Rape, Slavery, the Sex Trade, and Murder!,  www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/book_with_no_limits.htm
12.) Edward J. Woods, Deuteronomy, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, [InterVarsity Press, 2011], p. 242 brackets mine
13.) F. Brown, S. Driver, C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, [Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2010], p. 304
14.) W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, [Thomas Nelson Inc., 1996], p. 255
15.) William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, [Zondervan, 2006], p. 9
16.) James Strong, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2009], p. 1553
17.) K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, The New American Commentary, [B&H Publishing Group, 2005], p. 591 brackets mine
18.) John Gill, John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Deuteronomy 22:28
19.) Sami Zaatari, The Bible Allows Rape, Slavery, the Sex Trade, and Murder!, www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/book_with_no_limits.htm
20.) Ronald B. Allen, Numbers, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 2, [Zondervan, 1990], p. 966
21.) Nadir Ahmed, Christianity, Islam and Atheism Compared, www.examinethetruth.com/compared/rape.html#1
22.) Geoffrey W. Grogan, Isaiah, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 6, [Zondervan, 1986], p. 100 italics mine
23.) Nadir Ahmed, Christianity, Islam and Atheism Compared, http://www.examinethetruth.com/compared/rape.html#1
24.) Geoffrey W. Grogan, Isaiah, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 6, [Zondervan, 1986], p. 101
25.) Sahih Muslim, Book 33, Number 6406
26.) Osama Abdullah, Rebuttal to ‘Muhammad’s False Prophecies’, www.answering-christianity.com/rebuttal_false_prophecies.htm
27.) Craig A. Evans, Luke, New International Biblical Commentary Based on the New International Version, [Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1990], p. 322
28.) Walter L. Liefeld, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 8, [Zondervan, 1984], p. 1029
29.) Sami Zaatari, Did Jesus Come to Preach Peace?, http://muslim-responses.com/Peace_or_no_Peace/Peace_or_no_Peace_
30.) Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 43
32.) Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanation with a Literal Translation, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 317
33.) William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke, New Testament Commentary, [Baker Book House, 1978], p. 859
34.) Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanation with a Literal Translation, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 317
35.) Walter Liefeld, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, vol. 8, [Zondervan, 1984], p. 1008
36.) Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 7034
37.) Sahih Bukhari, Book 9, Volume 88, Hadith 239
38.) Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 7015
39.) Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 6985
40.) Nadir Ahmed, The Terrorism and Genocide of Jesus Christ, www.examinethetruth.com/update/Jesus_and_genocide.htm
41.) Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 108
42.) W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, [Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996], p. 19
43.) Leon Morris, Hebrews, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, [Zondervan, 1981], p. 93
44.) Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, 3
45.) Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians, 4
46.) Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, 14
47.) Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, 13
48.) Ignatius, Epistle to the Trallians, 13
49.) Ignatius, Epistle to the Romans, Greeting
50.) Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 48


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