The Fundamental Error of Islam

The Fundamental Error of Islam

  1. A. Ibrahim, Imam of the Islamic Center of Mill Valley writes in A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam states:

Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified. It was the plan of Jesus’ enemies to crucify him, but God saved him and raised him up to Him. And the likeness of Jesus was put over another man. Jesus’ enemies took this man and crucified him, thinking that he was Jesus.

Imam Ibrahim backs this up with a quote from the Qur’an:

(…They said: “We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God.” They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man (and they killed that man)…Qur’an 4:157

The fundamental error of Islam is that it only appeared that Jesus was crucified. This is essentially Docetism. Matt Slick provides a perfect explanation of this Gnostic error.

Docetism was an error with several variations concerning the nature of Christ. Generally, it taught that Jesus only appeared to have a body–that He was not really incarnate (Greek, “dokeo” = “to seem”). This error developed out of the dualistic philosophy which viewed matter as inherently evil–that God could not be associated with matter and that God, being perfect and infinite, could not suffer. Therefore, God as the word, could not have become flesh per John 1:1, 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us . . . ” This denial of a true incarnation meant that Jesus did not truly suffer on the cross and that He did not rise from the dead.

The basic principle of Docetism was refuted by the Apostle John in 1 John 4:2-3. “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” Also, 2 John 7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

Ignatius of Antioch (died 98/117) and Irenaeus (115-190), and Hippolatus (170-235) wrote against the error in the early part of the second century.

Docetism was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

The Gnostics were of two kinds, docetics and adoptionists. The docetics said that it only appeared that Jesus was crucified, but in fact someone else, often Judas, was crucified instead. The adoptionists said that the Christ adopted Jesus and abandoned Jesus on the cross.

The result for both forms was the same: Jesus the sinless Lamb of God, both God and man, did not die on the cross and thus did not take our sin upon Himself. Therefore, there is no salvation in Christ.

Many sects and cults over the centuries have taken a Gnostic stance and thus substituting their own teaching as the means of salvation.






Off the Charts

Off the Charts[1]

“Off the charts”—this is the phrase that opens the door for the prophets, prophetesses, and others who claim God, angels, or whatnot are speaking to them and revealing the future in “these last days,” because we are no longer in a time and place that the Bible covers, so it is no longer speaking to us.

The rationale is that, due to the fact that the end of history is upon us—an erroneous assumption that is nothing but speculation and based on nothing biblical at all—God is revealing details and events that are not described in the Bible.[2]

When questioned, the proponents of new extra biblical revelations respond, “How do you know God is not revealing new things to the Church?” and “How can you be so certain this is not happening now?” This form of questioning places people like me in a difficult place, since there is little to appeal to of a factual nature. I cannot point to studies, numbers, or other verifiable documentation to support my position. And, on the other hand, neither can those who are open to new revelations appeal to any objective evidence for their claims. Many of us will appeal to Revelation 22:18-19:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of the prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city which are described in this book.

Certainly the “off the charts” proponents will say that the admonition not to add or subtract from the Book of Revelation is merely an ancient form of copyright and is not applicable to the rest of the Bible and does not actually mean that one should not prophesy about these last days.

However, an examination of two other biblical passages suggests this concept to be at least questionable if not downright faulty. First, Deuteronomy 4:2: “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.” Second, Deuteronomy 12:32: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” Thus it may be concluded that the warning not to add or subtract can equally be applied to the whole of Scripture.

Despite the obvious, those who are already trapped into believing the contemporary prophets will find it difficult to turn from and expose them. By trapped I mean, once a group or church commits to the words of its prophets about the future, naysayers will not be welcomed and minds will close.

Revelation 22:18-19 may in fact be an ancient form of stating, “Don’t touch this writing,” and legitimately so, as it is a thoroughly biblical warning. In addition, the attempt to justify “new improved truth” and revelations by the “thus saith the Lord” prophets ignores the fact that the Book of Revelation brings us right up to the grand finale, right to the Second Coming of Christ, the Day of Judgment, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the new heaven and the new earth—there is no more history after that, only eternity in the presence of God. And Revelation perfectly corroborates both what Jesus said in Matthew 24 and Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2.

The history, tradition, and councils of the Church down through the ages make it clear that the Bible is the sole source for Christian faith and practice. It has been the Protestant branch of the Church that has more carefully adhered to this policy, but now, however, we see this being largely abandoned by what I have sometimes called the Fourth Branch of Christianity, the charismatic/Pentecostal branch. It is here where we find the vast majority of those who declare we are off the charts and must open up to fresh words from God.

Sarah Young, Kat Kerr, Patricia King, Lorna Byrne, and many more

Jesus is talking to people now—so promises Sarah Young in Jesus Calling. It is very much like He is on the other end of the phone. Kat Kerr gives a constant flow of messages about what she just heard the other day, directly from God. Patricia King is in on it as well, the high priestess of prophetesses in the Bethel network, receiving messages from the Source. And one of these King predictions is that we are going to have a whole lot of contact with angels in 2015. And angels, being close to God, will be revealing many new things and imparting much needed wisdom. Though in a bit of a different category, the Irish lady Lorna Bryne is constantly, minute by minute, in touch with all sorts of angels and souls.

It is all okay, because we are off the charts. The Bible is not needed now; all we need is an angel, a direct call from Jesus, or even a chat with the Almighty in the “throne room” to find direction, comfort, and wisdom.

The persons mentioned above relate messages, however comforting and assuring, that are essentially false. Sarah talks about Jesus all the time; in fact, Jesus is the focus of the conversations. He is warm, comforting, and full of mercy, but of the ordinary human kind. There is something decidedly missing, namely the Jesus of the Bible. Kat Kerr is as spiritual as one can get, full of Bible phrases, and she loves Jesus. Patricia King is much the same, and all the Jesus talk is enough to convince most people that nothing could be the slightest bit wrong. Lorna Byrne, well she is far from sounding like an evangelical Bible believer, but she does throw in a “Jesus” or two from time to time. Are Christians being deceived? The answer is, they are.

Philpott, why are you writing this?

I am alarmed when I see Christians falling into deception, especially when those who promote and champion these deviations represent such a large swath of the Christian community. Since these views are widely and publically disseminated, it invites people like me to make comment. That is the way it is in a free society.

Five of Sarah Young’s books are among the top twenty-five best selling Christian books in 2014. Kat Kerr is a sensation wherever she travels and is currently on a world tour. Patricia King is easily the most respected and popular prophetess in the Bethel/IHOP/Kansas City Prophets/Morning Star/Toronto-Arnott network, as is made evident in her many YouTube videos. Lorna Byrne is big in the UK and is attracting many new adherents. Her books, Angels in My Hair, Stairways to Heaven, and A Message of Hope from the Angels are all on the bestseller lists in the UK. She is now making an impact in America as well.

Now you understand why I am writing this. And there is one more reason.

I am the pastor of a church; I have a congregation to care for. I read John 10:7-18, and I find Jesus cautioning about wolves who would harm the sheep. Then I read Paul’s warning to the elders of the church at Ephesus:

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves ill arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert…   Acts 20:28-31a

Concluding remark

This type of warning is something in which I wish I did not have to engage; there is enough work already. I find myself in solidarity with Jude 3: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”


[1] This discussion is intramural in nature, that is, between Christians.

[2] This is not the only period in history that Christians have supposed theirs was the last generation and that Jesus’s Second Coming was imminent.

Religion is the Cause of all the Trouble in the World

Religion is the Cause of all the Trouble in the World

The incident

On my way to the ATM machine at my Chase Bank in Corte Madera I walked by a biker who loudly and angrily yelled into his cell phone, “Religion is the cause of all the trouble in the world!”

Punching in my PIN number I listened to more of the one-sided conversation: “Religion has got to go! The zealots are standing in the way of controlling climate change.”

What did the guy sitting astride his Harley mean by religion? Christianity—likely. Hinduism—likely. Buddhism—maybe. Islam—very likely.


In a way I agreed with him. Religion has, does, and always will produce conflict among peoples, nations, and tribes, but that is far from the whole story.

I thought about other “isms”. Atheism is an ism. Materialism, capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism—these are also isms. What about democraticism or republicanism? Are these isms?

Communism has known a few rather infamous adherents. Think of Lenin and Stalin, and the latter a mass murderer if ever there was one. Pol Pot of the killing fields fame, a communist. Mao is also in the communism fold, and how many millions did he put away?

Fascism—Hitler and his cronies are about as religious as one could get—about his own brand. Don’t imagine that Hitler was an actual Christian; no, he hated the Christian Church, and its destruction was on his list right after the Jewish people.

Shintoism and Buddhism had Japanese zealots in that era, and their atrocities against the Chinese and Koreans—egregious.

I could go on, digging deeper into history, but I hope to have made my point.


 We are all religious. No one is without an ism, including those who embrace Darwinism. We are born to believe in something, and we do, and there is usually a group already organized who has the ism all laid out in neat slogans, platitudes, and doctrines.

Mel Gibson’s film, Apocalyto, described the Aztec takeover of the Mayan culture in the sixteenth century. That primitive and native religion, which is essentially shamanism, may be one of the world’s largest religions, however unorganized the practitioners are. The Aztecs and their religion make the Islamic State beheaders look like beginners.

I have an ism, you have an ism. If that biker at the bank expressed his own ism to its logical extreme, would he advocate worldwide suicide so the animal and plant kingdom could survive? Pollution and global warming—maybe the humans ought to be phased out and allow other life forms to dominate. Some call this “ultimate environmentalism”.

Fundamentalism—it’s idealists are found among all the other isms. They are the ones who want to go back to the basics and nothing but the basics. The Salafis in the Islamic far right want to live like Muhammad and the first few generations who followed. (Al-Baghdadi, the 8th Caliph and head of the Islamic State is a Salafi.) Seventh century customs and practices—their ideal way to go, but maybe not with the camels and sandals.

Toxic and Cultic

Most ordinary religious people simply carry on and desire to live out their lives in peace. Yet, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians all have their fundamentalists, and we read about them in the papers from time to time. It is among the idealists, the fundamentalists, where things can go wrong. They take matters into their own hands and crush the infidels if necessary. Their way or the highway, since their doctrines are pure and righteous, without which all is lost.

We are all vulnerable to being cultic and dangerously toxic; this is especially so for those who think they are immune. Yes, there is a certain comfort and security in thinking you have it all down, with all questions answered and nothing to get confused about. This is the zone of the cultic mentality, where anyone out of step must be set straight, even dealt with severely. When the cult has political dominance, this process can become exponentially horrific. Imagine life in an Islamic State, if their power was absolute and Sharia Law was practiced across the board. Scary indeed.

Is my ism better than your ism? It may well be, but then what? For me, I believe Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. I know that some will follow Jesus, others will not. If fact, I know that there will only be a few who follow Jesus at any given time. In Matthew 6:13-14 we find Jesus saying:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

This does not mean that I will harbor ill will towards those who do not see that Jesus is the Savior as I do. I may make reasonable efforts to be a witness for Christ to those who do not know Him, and this is my way of being loving. However, the person who rejects Jesus does not become my enemy but is instead someone to pray for and continue to love and witness to.

The anti-religious biker

 Even that biker is religious; he simply has a different religion, something he holds as the most important thing, even if it is a negative. He just doesn’t realize his “something” is a religion. What you follow as the ultimate truth is your religion. I am a follower of Jesus; this is my religion and my spiritual path. For those who assume that serious spirituality can be without religious practice, such spirituality is a hobby only. Saying, “I am spiritual but not religious,” is an empty claim.

The biker is entitled to his ism. So are you. So am I. So is the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the communist, and so on. The problem is the extremist, the fundamentalist, and the self-righteous, who is convinced everyone else must believe as he does. Or else!

Religion is the cause of all the trouble in the world.

 We might as well accept this as fact.

To put it another way: Show me a troublemaker who has no religion, no set of values or ideas about what is real and ultimately significant. Go ahead, do it, and I will be satisfied. I am confident that neither you nor anyone else can. Strong convictions that lead to strong action comes from religion.

The real trouble

 Isms are one thing; the people who embrace them are another. The real trouble is the people, that is, us. And I mean all of us.

The “weeping” prophet Jeremiah stated it clearly: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

This means all hearts, yours and mine. Here is what Jesus said about it: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone” (Matthew 15:19-20a).

Jesus was arguing with the religious authorities of Judaism. There were many rules about almost everything, and in this passage the question had to do with eating food with unwashed hands. It was a religious rather than a hygienic issue. Jesus took the opportunity to point out that the best of religious observance did not go to the heart of the matter. In this case, they had disconnected the spiritual basis from the religious practice, leaving the practice empty.

Ideas are powerful; they may motivate, inspire, or take you over to the point you become a slave to the idea. The idea slaves are then sanctioned to protect, promote, and defend the group against outsiders and unbelievers. This goes for dictators of any stripe, plus Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians. Remember, we all are vulnerable.

Indeed “It is me, it is me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”