This evening President Obama gave a prime time speech on the importance of degrading and defeating ISIS–the cancerous Islamic State now fomenting in Iraq and Syria.
The president is good with words, but our success against this terror enemy will only be achieved through action–not phrases on a teleprompter.
I had planned to write a column this week called “The New Nazis”–which is an apt description of ISIS. Instead, I’d like to clarify the larger battle that is going on in the world which is a clash of ideas.
That clash really comes down to the radical difference between the Biblical and Muslim gospels.
First of all, I’m glad that The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen went on record stating the clear parallels between ISIS and Hitler’s Nazis. He writes:
“The Nazis are back — differently dressed, speaking a different language and murdering ostensibly for different reasons but actually for the same: intolerance, hatred, excitement and just because they can.”
He concludes his sobering article by declaring, “The decapitation of James Foley and the depredations of the Islamic State are evil returned, evil that can be understood only as beyond understanding. It needs to be eliminated.”
You can read the full text of “The Islamic State is Evil Returned” here.
New Gingrich has also written a good piece called “Ten Questions for Obama on ISIS” which gives a clear-thinking, statesmanlike view of what our president must consider as we face these 21st century Nazis.
But behind the need to militarily confront evil is a gigantic war of civilizations that comes down to the teachings of two books–the Bible–the basis of Western civilization and the global explosion of faith in Jesus that is taking place all over the world (60% of it in the Southern Hemisphere)–and the Koran–the Muslim book that is revered by 1.6 billion Muslims and for some, fuels bloody jihad.
Some comparisons are in order before we look at the “Good News” message of each book.
The Bible is the world’s most translated bestseller, read and respected by 2.2 billion people. It is is a literary masterpiece–a library of 66 books written by over forty authors covering a span of some two thousand years.
The Bible contains reliable history, beautiful poetry and story-telling, amazingly accurate prophecy, and eyewitness accounts of the coming of the Savior (Jesus). It purports to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and as Youth With A Mission founder Loren Cunningham has written, it is The Book That Transforms Nations: How the Bible Can Change Any Country.
The Bible’s warfare references are all in the Old Testament when ancient cultures lived and died by the sword during primitive and uncivilized times. The New Testament champions the message of love as the highest virtue (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The Koran professes to be revelations given to one man–Mohammed–in the 7th century AD. They are said to have been given over a period of either three weeks or 23 years–depending on the source.
The Koran is purportedly inspired only in its Arabic version and is not encouraged to be translated into other languages.
As a book, it contains little history, contains numerous historical errors, no memorable poetry or literature, and basically espouses one man’s rambling view of life and religion through a 7th century lens. It is composed of a series of “recitations” against Christians and Jews and how good Muslims should live their lives.
According to author Don Richardson in The Secrets of the Koran, the Koran contains 109 war verses that are just as relevant for today as they were in the Middle Ages. These verses form the backdrop of modern-day jihad or “holy war.”
Here are two more caveats.
1. Biblical followers are generally peace-loving people. However, at various times in history (notably the Crusades and the Reformation), they have resorted to violence to defend their faith. In doing so, they have gone against the teachings of the New Testament.
2. Many Muslims are peace-loving people. However, radical followers of Islam, throughout their history, have used violence and bloodshed as a primary tactic to advance their faith. Mohammed himself killed hundreds of people, participated in over forty armed battles, and lived as a religious robber baron. When Muslims kill people, they are following the one hundred warfare verses of the Koran.
Both books talk about God and what a person can do to come into a right relationship with Him.
Let’s first look at the Biblical “Gospel” (Good News).
Biblical Good News
The God of the Bible is a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who desire such a relationship and intimacy with man that Jesus came to the earth to die for our sins to reconcile us to the Father (John 3:16). When people put their trust in his salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside them to empower them to live a life of virtue and love (2 Peter 1:2-11).
The Biblical Good News contains four simple elements.
1. The Invitation: Come. Abba Father’s call to all human beings is to come back in repentance and faith into relationship with their Creator. This gracious invitation is found all throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation (some examples are Isaiah 55:1, Matthew 11:28-30, and Revelation 22:17).
2. The Promise: Eternal Life. If we come back to God in repentance and faith, then God’s promises to live in us and with us, both in this life and the one to come. Eternal life is really “knowing Him” (John 17:3). One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 10:10: “I have come that they might have life, life more abundantly.” God granting us a new chance at “life” is the key concept of both Old and New Testaments (Deuteronomy 30:19, and John 3).
3. The Means: Die to Yourself. The way a person enters into relationship to God and eternal life is brokenness, humility, repentance from sin, and child-like trust in God’s ability to save us through Jesus’ atonement. All these words describe a death to self process that helps us grow the character of God in our lives (Luke 9:23, Mark 8:34, 35 and 1 Corinthians 15:31).
4. The Result: Really Live! When we turn from our sins and give God his rightful place in our hearts, we come into alignment with the Kingdom of God and his righteous rule of truth and love. We become children of God who will be a part of his family forever–both in this life and the next.
Now let’s look at the Koranic “Good News,” or what is required to be pleasing to Allah.
Koranic Good News
1. The Ultimatum: Submit. Islam literally means “submission to God” (Koran 3:19). It is not really an invitation, but a command for a person to do every aspect of the will of Allah.
2. The Promise: Eternal Lust (Men Only). From the very beginning, Mohammed encouraged his fighters to die for the faith, promising them that death by jhad would guarantee them Paradise (jannah) which included exclusive access to seventy virgins (houris) who would satisfy their sexual appetites forever (E.g. Koran 56:22, 78:33 and Hadith 2687).
3. The Means: Death to Infidels. Though Islam encourages death to earthly appetites and passions (such as fasting furing Ramadan), the greatest reward is reserved for those who kill infidels (any non-Muslim) to advance Muslim dominance in the world (umma). Koranic examples: 9:123 – “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you,” and 47:4 – “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly.”
4. The Result: Many Die. When radical Muslims take the Koran at its word, you get the 9-11 disaster of thousands dying, or the recent beheadings of American journalists by ISIS.
As you can see, the Biblical and Koranic Gospels are extremely different:
- The God of the Bible invites people to come, live, die to sin, and really live.
- The God of the Koran demands that people submit, lust, murder others, and force the world under sharia law.
Which message do you think is really Good News?
I sincerely hope in the coming months that we as individuals and nations understand the radical difference between the Biblical and Muslim gospels.
Only one is true–and is worth believing and living for.