My Muslim Friends Don’t Trust Me!

For reasons deeply rooted in Islamic orthodox thinking, my Muslim friends continually say that my online persona “lies” or is a “liar” or even an “inveterate liar”. Here are a few popular ayat that are often used to stoke mistrust between Muslims and Christians:

O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies; some of them are allies of one another. Whoever of you allies himself with them is one of them. Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.— Quran 5:51 ITANI

Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture, and the Polytheists, will be in the Fire of Hell, where they will abide forever. These are the worst of creatures.
As for those who believe and lead a righteous life—these are the best of creatures. — Quran 98:6–7 ITANI

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Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” — John 11:21–27 ESV

The organism that you describe as you is, in itself, an ecology of organisms. In addition to the roughly 40 trillion or so cooperating cells that you like to think of as yourself, there are just as many microbes that live on you and inside you that call you home. Altogether, those 80 trillion cells go along for the conjoined ride called life and, literally, none of them are aware of the thing you describe as consciousness. Continue reading

Missing Comment Thread

In the wee hours of Tuesday, June 4, 2019, I was having a very pleasant discussion with my Muslim friends on the topic of progressive revelation in the Old and New Testaments, specifically on whether aspects of the the Trinity were revealed in the Old Testament. All was going well until the Moderator of the MuslimByChoice channel got involved. Usually, I get blocked at some point, but never has it occurred this early in the conversation. I’m not exactly sure of the YouTube mechanism, but basically I can see my posts as “A Berean”, but they disappear when I login as a different username. In the past, I’ve been blocked somewhat permanently, or just for a period of time. Since I can see my posts as “A Berean”, I can blithely grab a screenshot or two proving that censorship has, indeed, occurred. Continue reading

The Rider of the Clouds

But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Matthew 26:63-66 ESV

Perhaps the greatest Muslim missionary/apologist/polemicist of all time was the late Ahmed Deedat from South Africa. He is famous for introducing the “exact words” argument against the divinity of Jesus. It goes like this: “Show me one verse in the Bible where Jesus says, ‘I am God, worship me’… in those exact words.” Implied in this conditional statement is “If you can’t find those exact words, then Jesus isn’t God.” A cursory examination shows this to be a fallacious argument, and yet it is still widely used by novice and experienced Muslim apologists alike. Apparently, Muslims demand blunt statements regarding their deities. While Jesus uttered no such exact quote in the New Testament, it would be fair to reframe the question as “Did Jesus ever plainly say that he was God and deserved our worship?” Continue reading

Spirit and Truth

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” — John 4:16–26 ESV

Here in John, we find Jesus is alone at a well in Sychar. It seems that Jews who were taught from childhood to avoid interaction with Samaritans, still found a way to purchase food when they were hungry, so the disciples wandered off into town. The disciples would learn that if you wanted a day off, you couldn’t safely leave Jesus alone. They get back with food and find him having a conversation with a woman. Continue reading

Looking Back

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” — Luke 9:57–62 ESV

When I’ve had opportunity to discuss these passages something interesting usually happens. I’m usually treated to a discussion centered around what Jesus “really” must have meant. Curiously, that isn’t what he actually said. Continue reading

In Plain Sight

Orange Oakleaf (Kallima inachus)
wet season, female, underside

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” — John 3:1-8 ESV

My dad once said to me, “The man who calls you an idiot is reliable for the same reason that the guy who gives you a compliment isn’t.”

It seems to me, Jesus was a hard man to compliment. Continue reading

Light and Dark

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” — John 3:19-21 ESV

Light is something. Darkness isn’t. As John noted, “…God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all”. Darkness is simply the absence of God.

With graceful and delicate movements plants bend into the sunlight. In so doing, they perform a little miracle as they sit in the sun and absorb red and blue wavelengths of light. They use that energy to add a little phosphorus and a hydrogen ion to a couple of molecules in especially useful ways. This little trick makes our life possible. That’s not an exaggeration. All of the food we eat gets to our plates in just this way. There is no other source. Humans walk around all hours of the day and night, something plants would consider biologically extravagant, and remain blithefully confident that plants will do the hard work of making food for us. Plants turn a little light, a little water, and a bit of CO2 into sugar. It’s a miracle.

It’s what we choose to do in the dark that Jesus makes note of here in John. Continue reading


Lamb from Stodmarsh, Kent, England
Photo by Keven Law

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. — John 10:7-10 ESV

Sometimes when, in his words, my dad thought I was getting “too big for my britches”, he would say to me, “It doesn’t take a genius to see that you aren’t one.” At the time, that sort of a statement was lost on me which I suppose proved his point.

So Jesus comes along and refers to me as a sheep. I’ve seen sheep. There are few animals less capable of independent survival than domestic sheep. Continue reading

Being First

Amos and Friend at the
Gem Foundation, Uganda
Photo by Molly Katherine White

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” — Mark 9:33-37 ESV

The disciples, like us, were influenced by the culture around them. And Like chickens, people create pecking orders. We just can’t help ourselves. We think in terms of hierarchy and we recognize signs and symbols of status and influence in the world around us. This is so automatic that we are usually unaware of it. Those of influence are surrounded by those of less influence. It’s how we spot our leaders. Continue reading