Atonement in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

For you to learn a lesson, something or someone will have to pay the price and be sacrificed. — Kayo K.

And here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment.
— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale

I’m in the process of writing the above titled article. I think it will go a long way to compare and contrast the concept of atonement in the three main monotheistic religions. In the meantime, I was at a friend’s house two days ago when I observed a decoration that related to a recent discussion with a Muslim friend @Milo Božovich on a YouTube video about the necessity of believing the Trinity as a requirement for salvation.

As a Christian, my take on soteriology is relatively simple: Man is not saved by his understanding of the theological definition of God, nor by what he does or fails to do (not directly at least), but by whether he has a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Messiah, which provides the motivation for everything he does.

The Crucifixion of the Messiah

Periodically, my Muslim friends will advocate their position that Jesus was not crucified on a cross in Palestine two millennia ago (see here, here and here). They posit that someone may have been crucified, but it had to have been someone else. As further evidence, they say that if Jesus was crucified on a “tree” he would have been cursed by Allah, based on Deuteronomy 21. This is all based on one passage from the Quran…

Continue reading

Freedom Versus Conformity in Islam

I was bantering with my friend @NeoLegendX when he inadvertently brought up a topic that I thought was very interesting. Soon after, comments began to be deleted by either the channel Moderator or YouTube itself. Here’s the context of our conversation:










NeoLegendX: @A Berean any interesting topics you stumbled upon

A Berean: @NeoLegendX Bored?

NeoLegendX: @A Berean corona has us on lockdown
Cmon Braf
You know that
And here I thought we dont need to rehearse

A Berean: @NeoLegendX Some of us “old folk” still get to work, even in lockdown…

Continue reading

Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” — Matthew 23:23–24 ESV

From our enlightened twenty-first century vantage point we can look back on the period of history that Jesus lived and cheerfully take our pick of horrors and injustices perpetrated by a host of groups starting with the Romans, Herodeons, Zealots, unjust tax collectors, and numerous other rapscallions and scalawags. They were known for murdering innocents, enslaving the helpless, brutalizing women, and worse yet — they mistreated defenseless animals! Now one would think, with God walking among us, daily exposed to this repressive and brutish world, we would at the very least, expect stern indignation expressed toward these hellish outrages.

But Jesus never overtly deplored slavery, never publicly decried the plight of women, and much to our surprise, never expressed support for animal rights. Continue reading

Two Kinds


“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” — Luke 7:47 ESV

“There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.” — Robert Benchley

OK — maybe it’s convenient to divide the world by our various distinctions of temperaments, talents and even spiritual gifts… I get that — but something about it sticks in my craw. Admittedly, it could be a spoilsport reaction to the categories I keep being slotted into. My problems aside… there’s a scientific argument that explains why we tend to categorize and divide. Continue reading

Will This Be On the Final Exam?

Anyone who’s taught for more than a day will be confronted by this question. Will this be on the test? It’s really a question of whether or not they need to keep listening. Our students have become testologists. They have analyzed their world and figured out that some things can be safely ignored without consequence. What’s crucial is what ends up on that exam. It’s logical when you think about it. The exam is measurable, and what you measure represents a distillation of what you believe to be important.

So what about us? What’s on our final exam? When we stand at the pearly gates, what are we going to be asked? Seems like a logical question. Why spend all our time and energy preparing to answer questions that will never be asked? If we could only know what was on the exam, we could properly prepare. Just as important, we could safely ignore those things that aren’t on the final exam.

Lucky for you I know what’s going to be on the final exam. Continue reading

The Problem of Evil

It is with more than a little trepidation that I even approach the problem of evil. The entire Bible, directly or indirectly, is devoted to the subject, as are all of the world’s major religions. And there are so many types and sources of evil from which to choose! There’s self inflicted evil (“you reap what you sow”), there’s evil that is inflicted upon us by others, and then there is generic “evil” that seems to come along “naturally”. Pain, death, floods, droughts, famines, typhoons, tornadoes, tsunamis, birth defects and diseases (both genetic and acquired), to name a few.

Along the way, I have learned that it is generally unproductive for those currently going through personal pain and suffering to question God’s actions, or, as the case may be, inactions. The inquiry degrades from “How can God allow evil in this hypothetical case?” to “Why me?” There is a barb attached to the inquiry; a bias in the questioning that rejects most valid answers as unacceptable, cold and without compassion, and thus not very “God like”.

But for those seekers/inquirers of God who honestly desire to reconcile the Bible’s description of a holy, compassionate and all-powerful God allowing rampant evil to pervade his creation, let’s open the discussion… Continue reading

Failure is an Option

Failure is one of those topics that we don’t like to talk about. We would never consider planning for it, whether or not we believe the adage “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” But failure is part of the human ethos, and understanding how and why we fail is important if we are to learn how not to fail. And how much more should we understand what can bring about the ultimate failure – the failure of a human life?

Most people think of moral failure in terms of explicit actions like lying, stealing, murder and greed, among others. They’ll pick and choose from lists such as the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins and the like. Steer clear of committing evil and your a “good person”. Jesus would likely say “Not so fast!”… Continue reading