Were the Crusaders and Inquisitors Christians?

Yes, No, Maybe

PART ONE: The Crusaders

“Crusader” is a negative word to many, and maybe deservedly so, but we may have to reconsider the negative position. Following is a summary and examination of the history of the crusades themselves.

There were eight crusades in all, from 1095 to 1294. Oddly enough, no Arab tribes played much of a role, if any, in fighting the crusaders. This is not to say that Muslim armies were not involved, but exactly who within Islam actually participated is another issue.

The French initiated the first crusade led by Godfrey of Bouillon. The purpose was to wrest control of Jerusalem away from the Muslim Seljuk Turks, who had taken it in 1070. Jerusalem had previously been part of the Fatimid Empire, composed mostly of Shi’a Berbers from North Africa, and during their control of the Holy City, Christians were allowed to visit their special religious sites. But such was not the case with the Seljuks, who violently persecuted the Christians and desecrated and destroyed churches. After a time, Pope Urban II called for the rescue of the Holy City from the Islamic infidels.

Bouillon, certainly a member of the Roman Catholic Church, managed to murder 70,000 Muslims and even burned down synagogues crowded with Jewish people hoping to escape the violence around them. Despite the slaughter, many of the European soldiers married local Muslim and Jewish women; they settled down, and for at least forty years, the Christians and Muslims lived peacefully side-by-side. The fact remains, however, that Crusaders slaughtered a host of people.

The second crusade in 1144 was undertaken when a Kurdish army from Mosul (now in the modern state of Iraq) attacked a Christian fortress in Edessa (now in the modern state of Turkey). As a result, Pope Eugenius III called for a crusade. Two Christian armies, one French, the other German, were completely decimated by the Seljuk armies while on their way to join the battle at Edessa. A monk named Bernard of Clairvoux was engaged in this one. Following the crusade nearly forty more years of peace ensued. 

The third crusade was called in 1189 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa after the army of Saladin (1137–1193), the famous Kurd who became the Sultan of Egypt, defeated the crusader army on July 4, 1187, at the Horns of Hittin, a site just above the Sea of Galilee. It proved to be the most famous of all the battles during the crusade period. Jerusalem surrendered, and Saladin dealt humanely with the survivors; there was no sacking or murdering, and the city was kept open to Christian pilgrims. But Jerusalem’s fall inspired Barbarossa to lead a French army into Turkey, where he died crossing a creek. The Seljuks quickly destroyed his army.

There was, however, more to the third crusade. King Richard the Third of England (the “Lion Heart”) gathered an army of Norman Knights, set off for the Holy Land, and proceeded to capture Acre and Jaffa on the Mediterranean Coast, even defeating Saladin at the battle of Arsuf.

The two commanders treated each other with respect and signed a peace treaty on September 2, 1192, the terms of which left Jerusalem in the hands of the Muslims, while the Christians retained the coastal areas where Acre, Caesarea, and Jaffa are located.

Pope Innocent III in and around 1195 called the fourth crusade. This one had nothing to do with the Holy Land or Muslims, but the goal was to liberate Jerusalem. The French crusaders entered Constantinople, home of the Greek Orthodox Church, who resented the presence of the Roman Catholics and rose up against the crusaders. In the battle that resulted, the crusader “Western” Christians did not kill many Greek “Eastern” Christians, but they did completely pillage the city. After a short period, the crusaders made off with their loot and headed for home. Nothing was accomplished.

Pope Honorius III, Innocent’s successor, could not accept the results of the fourth crusade and called for a fifth crusade. This time mainly Germans and Hungarians marched off to Jerusalem by way of Egypt in 1217. The army spent three years in skirmishes with the Kurdish Ayyubids in Egypt. They failed to make headway and finally called it quits and sailed home.

The sixth crusade’s outstanding personality was the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who was the grandson of the famous Barbarossa. Frederick II’s daughter was married to John of Brienne, who now ruled Jerusalem. Thinking that marriage gave him authority over Jerusalem, he called for the sixth crusade in 1225. Due to the knowledge and negotiating skills of the remarkable Frederick, the crusade was peacefully conducted without one battle or casualty.

Frederick had studied a great deal about Islamic literature, science, and philosophy, which gave him a solid platform for interaction with the leader of the Islamic army, Malik al-Kamil, who was the nephew of the great Saladin. The two leaders resolved the confrontation by signing a ten-year treaty in 1229. (Ten years was the maximum time allowed for a treaty according to Sharia Law.) Christians and Muslims alike welcomed the terms of the treaty. Unhappily, the new pope, Pope Gregory IX, hated Frederick and refused to ratify the treaty, denouncing it vigorously.

Things went from bad to worse after Sultan Kamil’s death in 1238, when a maverick Turk from Russia named Baibars led a Mameluk (Muslim) army against Jerusalem, sacking it and slaughtering the citizens in 1244.

King Louis IX of France called the seventh crusade. In 1250 King Louis brought an army to Egypt and sailed up the Nile to Cairo, where Baibars demolished that army. Baibars warred against everyone, Christian and Muslim alike, in an effort to establish his power and authority. His hate and murderous anger was mostly directed toward Christians, and he attacked one city after the other along the Mediterranean coast—Caesarea, Safad, Jaffa, and Antioch. He killed and enslaved thousands of Christians. Jerusalem was now firmly in the hands of Muslims, and the seventh crusade came to an end.

The eighth crusade flowed out of the outrage perpetrated against Christians in the seventh crusade. Louis IX demanded a new crusade in the year 1270. His plan was to come through Tunis on the way to Egypt, but a few days after landing in Tunis he died of dysentery.

Baibars died in 1277 (these crusades could last for years), and his successor, Sultan Khalil, managed to finally defeat the crusaders at Acre in 1291, killing or enslaving some 60,000 Christians there.

Impact of the Crusades

The crusades deepened the divide between the Eastern and Western wings of the Catholic Church, a rift that was already well underway centuries earlier.

Related to that, the crusades greatly weakened the Byzantine Empire, which succeeded the Holy Roman Empire.

The crusades also permanently embittered relations between Christians and Muslims, and they are used to this day to rationalize a continuing hatred that often erupts into violence. The fact that both Christians and Muslims committed horrible atrocities is often forgotten or conveniently submerged. Muslims have cited Christian crusader actions as justification for their own brutality. This is not a surmise, but openly declared by contemporary Islamic jihadists, whose portfolio of rallying cries includes something close to, “Remember the crusades.” They legitimize their call for revenge by pointing to what the Christians did in the crusades. This is, of course, completely disingenuous but nevertheless effective.

Promotion of religion by force of arms demonstrates the weakness of Muslim ideals, ethics, and message. To spread the faith by means of intimidation is the worst possible program, one that no one can respect. Not only the Muslims but also Christians have been guilty here. (This topic will be explored in greater detail in the second section of this essay, “The Inquisitors.”)

As early as the fifth century, and many say long before, becoming a Christian required baptism by an ordained priest of the one Catholic and Apostolic Church. Faith and grace now abandoned, the Church became a power structure and fell into the same tactics employed by many other secular institutions. Some use the word “Christendom” to describe the Church as empire, combining religion with the state.

The crusades marked a departure from the Church’s mission to preach the Gospel to all nations. By picking up the sword, it was giving in to the barbaric culture of that day. The Church was intertwined with the state, the state using the Church and the Church using the state to advance goals and consolidate power.

As a result, the core doctrine of conversion was severely compromised. To coerce a person into leaving one faith for another is absolutely unbiblical. Requiring a choice of whether to convert, die, or pay the tax is not exactly proper evangelism, but the Church was guilty of this just as were the Muslims, and contemporary Muslims still employ these means. It cannot be said today that the Christian Church advances by means of force and fear. (Note: Instances of wrongly motivated attempts to convert so-called “primitive” people groups were occurring well into the nineteenth century, e.g., the forcing of Western/Christian culture and religion on Native Americans on reservations and similar activities by Britaish missionaries in India. Broadening the argument to include these examples or others is not possible in the space allowed, but we acknowledge needing to discuss this elsewhere.)

The same mentality that was seen in the crusades also resulted in the persecution of those we today call evangelical Christians, especially those who reject infant baptism, transubstantiation (Jesus being actually present in the Bread and the Cup), and the necessity of receiving other sacraments in order to go to heaven—in other words, those who adhere to salvation by grace alone, faith alone, and Christ alone.

***

The story of two ancestors of mine might be of interest now. The first concerns Sir John Philpott.

John Philpott was a “Salter and Pepperer” (a grocer) who lived in the latter part of the fourteenth century in London, England, while the One Hundred Years War with France was underway. He relied on his merchant fleet to bring foodstuffs into England from the Continent, but a combination of a weak English king and an aggressive French king meant Philpott’s business was faltering. He was able, however, to convince the English king to allow him to outfit his ships into a navy and be crewed by convicts from London’s prisons, of which there were plenty. The result was a series of victories by Philpott’s navy, and on the strength of that he was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1388 and 1389. He was a faithful Christian, and in his will he left 100 pounds to be distributed amongst the poor of London at Christmas time each year. In the old city of London there is still Philpott Lane where a plaque commemorating this faithful Catholic and Christian man has been installed.

Then there was another Englishman, again named John Philpott, this time living in the sixteenth century. He was a Puritan, meaning he hoped that the newly founded Church of England that broke away from the Roman Church, precipitated by King Henry VIII, would be purified—that is, would conform more closely to what we see of the church in the New Testament. Philpott was forced into the Court of the Inquisitors and found guilty. Refusing to recant, he was burned at the stake in 1555. (Burning at the stake was desirable form of execution because it was thought the destruction of the body made resurrection impossible.)

PART TWO: The Inquisition

Although the story of the development of the Church in the centuries leading up to the “Dark Ages” (stretching from approximately AD 500 to 1500) is not so easy to uncover, there is evidence that the faith of Jesus and the early disciples was not extinguished. That it was diverted, perverted, and undermined, especially toward the end of the third century, is fairly plain history, at least as evangelicals read it.

During that dark time, the vibrant faith we see in the New Testament gradually shifted to a more formalized, mechanical, ritualistic, even magical understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Especially after the so-called conversion of Constantine in the early fourth century, people became members of the Church and were counted among the faithful, despite their never hearing the real Gospel message or knowing much of anything about the core doctrines of Scripture.

The power of the Church over salvation, the only really important issue in life, was under the control of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. Those who rebelled against this were the targets of the Inquisition, the first court of which was formed around the year 1231 and continued for some three or four centuries. From the Church’s point of view, the Inquisition was necessary, because many good Catholics were turning away from the doctrines of the Church, especially after publication of the Bible in common languages, which allowed people to see what the Bible actually taught. For nearly a thousand years it had been hidden in a dark covering of non-intelligible Latin, Greek, or Hebrew.

The renaissance of Biblical understanding forced the established Church to react, and energetically; heresy became the most heinous of all crimes.  There is evidence that many were troubled by the means used to keep the Church pure. Ecclesiastical leaders would often plead with secular authorities for sentences to be carried out mercifully. In the early days of the persecution, Roman Church officials acted ruthlessly. For instance, the Cathari (or Albigenses) and the Waldenses were persecuted, sometimes to death, during the 1220s by the order of Pope Gregory IX.

Fringe Christian groups were not the only ones to be sought out by the Inquisitors. As with John Philpott in 1555, the point at the center of the trials had to do with the elements of the Mass, otherwise known as Communion, Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper. Along with the Reformers (i.e., Martin Luther and John Calvin), Philpott believed the bread of the Eucharist was just bread and the juice in the cup just juice. But the Church had developed the concept that the bread was transformed by an act of the priest into the actual body, the flesh, of Jesus. Likewise, the juice invisibly, magically, became the actual blood of Jesus.

Two Latin words were actually pronounced by the priest before the Mass began—hocus pocus—and when the words were pronounced, the magical power inherited from Peter and passed down through the properly ordained priesthood transformed the substances, shazam!

How this came to be is not possible to describe here, but there is an actual history to it. The short version is this: The Church had become far too Western in its understanding of the Middle-Eastern document we call the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. And when Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:53-55), the Roman Church took His words literally.

To take Jesus’ words literally, however, would have been ludicrous for a Jewish person in the first century. And the early history of the Church clearly reveals that the passage was taken metaphorically—after all, the Church was composed mostly of Jews for the first generation. The point was that the disciples were to trust in and believe in Jesus as the Savior and that His death on the cross, with His broken body and shed blood, was the once-forever sacrifice for sin. Therefore, long after the “Eastern” sense of things was lost, the “Western” mindset misunderstood much of the nature and means of salvation.

The Inquisition was aimed at Christians, but Muslims and Jews were also tried, and many were executed. It is only natural that Muslims and Jews would have a negative reaction to this, and it is certainly possible that it yet lingers as something else horrible that Christendom perpetrated and thus could be avenged in whatever era.

During the period of the Inquisition there were undoubtedly thousands of bishops, priests, and regular members of the Roman Church who sincerely thought they were being faithful Christians to support and participate in what they perceived as a cleansing of their Church from heretical doctrine and practice. Undoubtedly, there were thousands of Christians who were horrified at what was being done in the name of Jesus Christ. And during the period of history when the Church and state were wed, significant resistance was virtually out of the question. Such resistance finally came in 1517 under the inspiration of a Catholic monk named Martin Luther.

PART THREE: Yes, No, Maybe

Were those who conducted the Inquisition real Christians?

Were the crusaders real Christians?

Were the Muslims who fought against the crusaders real Muslims? Or, to put it another way, are those Muslims who engage in violent jihad today the real Muslims?

To these questions the answers are, Yes, No, and Maybe.

Looking at Christians

It must be said that no one could possibly know for sure whether real and actual born-again Christians committed atrocities against Muslims and Jews, in that day or in this. If a group of careful observers had watched the murder of Muslims and Jews at the hands of people known as Christians during the crusades and at other times, would they have know for certain which was the right conclusion? The proper answer would have to be, No!

Why is this so? The core of the answer lies in the mystery of conversion. While one can be baptized, join a church, and even reform his or her life, this is far from genuine Christian conversion. Being a part of a church does not mean one is a Christian. Conversion means that the Holy Spirit indwells the one believing in Jesus, the one who has had all sin removed and forgiven. It is a profound spiritual experience not an intellectual or emotional one. It is something God does completely apart from anything an individual can do. It is miracle and mystery. Every pastor who has ministered to a congregation for ten or more years knows that in that congregation are those who have truly been born again and those who have not.

Not that every real Christian does right and lives right. The Christian life is a growing up into the fullness of Christ, little by little—first as an infant, then a toddler, young child, older child, adolescent, teenager, young adult, adult, older adult, and senior. Still after a lifetime of maturing, the Christian is not anywhere perfect until in heaven and in the presence of our holy God.

Is it possible that a Christian could be deceived into thinking that killing and persecuting others because they believed differently is justified? Yes, it is possible.

Might Christians commit horrific acts, because they were told to do so by powerful religious authorities? Maybe. Might Muslims? Maybe.

Would a Biblically literate Christian believe he or she was serving God by persecuting or even killing “infidels”? No, unless there was some unknown source of intimidation going on behind the scenes and/or such Christian had his or her mind bent to the point that they became merely tools of evil.

Perhaps the right answer for all of these questions is, Maybe!

Would persecuting or killing a non-Christian win approval with God? Would it ensure a place in heaven? To both of these, the answer is an unequivocal, No!

Would defending the cause of Christianity, the Church, a Christian leader, or anything else in all creation by harming others merit the favor of God? Certainly not! Would dying in defense of the God of Scripture assure a place in paradise? In no way!

This is my solemn opinion as a follower of Jesus.

Jacob Wrestles with God

Genesis 32:22–32

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         Jacob, grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac, has his entire world turned upside down. His brother Esau and he are struggling in their relationship and Jacob is hard pressed as to what to do.

2.         Jacob and company are camped near a river named Jabbok, that flows into the Jordan River 24 miles north of the Dead Sea. Jacob sends his company across this river and is thus alone in the desert.

3.         All alone, Jacob “wrestled” with a man. The identity of this man is a mystery. Some of the possibilities are: Jacob’s guardian angel; another angel; Jacob wrestled with himself; Maimonides says it was a dream only; some a demon; Calvin says–the pre-incarnate Christ, and more. It is a mystery! Perhaps it is that Jacob wrestled with God in a way we do not understand.

4.         Jacob, while winning the match, is touched on his hip socket by the “man” and thus is disabled. The “man” is yet losing the match and begs to be let go of. Jacob will not do so until the “man” blesses him.

5.         The man asks Jacob what his name is and to the response the man says that he will no longer be called Jacob but Israel. The reason is that Jacob had won the wrestling match. Israel means “God rules” or “One who wrestles against God.”

6.         Jacob names the location of the match “Peniel,” which means “the face of God.” And Jacob’s great surprise is that though he fought against God he did not lose his life.

7.         The meaning of this story for followers of Jesus today is varied, it may refer to the fact that in our battle against God, despite our sin and rebelliousness, God will yet win us to Himself.

Who is Muhammad’s Gabriel?

Here is the lead essay for my new book with the same title as above. It is fairly lengthy, but key to an understanding of Islam.

WHO IS MUHAMMAD’S GABRIEL?

This essay will examine three questions. First: Who is Gabriel? The answer prompts a second question: Who is Allah? The answers to these provoke a third question: Who is Muhammad? All that is Islam hangs on the answers to these three questions.

GABRIEL OF THE BIBLE

The name Gabriel is found in four places in the Bible: Daniel 8:16 and 9:21, and Luke 1:19 and 1:26. The name Gabriel means, “God is mighty.”

First, the two passages from the Old Testament book of Daniel:

When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” (Daniel 8:15-16)

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. (Daniel 9:20-21)

Gabriel is thus introduced in the Book of Daniel, and we see more of him in the New Testament.

Second, the two passages from the New Testament Gospel of Luke

While the priest Zechariah was on duty at the Temple in Jerusalem, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel announced to Zechariah that the prayers of him and his wife Elizabeth had been answered, to the effect that Elizabeth would bear a son and his name would be John. We pick up the story in Luke chapter 1:

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” (Luke 1:18-19)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27)

Now we look at the words of Gabriel to Mary in verse 28: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Mary, greatly troubled at the greeting, tried to understand what the angel meant. Gabriel continued:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Is the angel in Matthew also Gabriel?

Joseph, about to marry Mary with whom he was engaged, was troubled when he learned she was pregnant. Thinking to divorce her quietly, he had a visit from an angel while in a dream. The angel (no name given) said to him:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”

Is the angel who spoke to Joseph the same one who spoke to Zechariah and Mary? We cannot be completely sure, but it seems as though it must be the case. However, the argument I am about to make does not depend on the answer to that question, as both angels in Luke and in Matthew are clearly angels of the Lord.

What have we learned so far?

The angelic appearances have to do with the birth of Jesus, the one who would save His people from sin. The birth was miraculous, accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and this is all the explanation for the pregnancy we have. The point is clear: no human being had sex with Mary. Neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit had sex with Mary. The birth was miraculous, and this fits perfectly with the word God revealed to Isaiah six hundred years earlier:

There the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

The passage is referred to as “The Sign of Immanuel,” meaning that the virgin’s child is God come to be with us in a miraculous, non-human manner—thus a sign. God actually became flesh, which the Creator of the universe could do. And He did.

The child born to Mary was not called Immanuel but Jesus. Immanuel, in traditional Jewish understanding, is what He, Immanuel, is, which is God become man. The name Jesus refers to what He would do. “Jesus” is a word derived from the Hebrew name for Joshua. It means, “God saves.” Joshua was the one who brought the Chosen People across the Jordan River into the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses would not be allowed to do this, and the concept is that the Law of Moses cannot in itself bring salvation. No, salvation is a gift of God and is not by works of the Law. In His dying for sin, Jesus became the Savior, and this is proven by His resurrection. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.

One last word from Gabriel, the angel of the Lord

Gabriel said to Mary in reference to the child she would bear: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). This virgin birth, not the result of sexual intercourse, would be miraculous. The child would be of the same nature as the Father.

Then Gabriel said, “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). The meaning is obvious—the child will be the reigning King forever, just as Isaiah had announced: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Without question, the Prophet Isaiah states that the child born is God Himself.

This takes us into the mystery of the Trinity. We will never fully comprehend how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one and complete God all at once. Christian historians and theologians simply note what the evidence reveals.

The point is plain enough—the child born is God in the flesh. He is Jesus born of the virgin in Bethlehem, the one who would die in our place, taking our sin upon Himself, then on the third day be raised from the dead. He is alive now in heaven, one day to return to receive His own.

Nearly six hundred years later, however, there appeared another “Gabriel.”

GABRIEL OF ISLAM

The majority of Muslims today hold that the Qur’an is eternal (eternal as Allah is eternal), was brought down to earth by an angel, and was then recited by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. Allah spoke each and every verse to the angel who then recited them, piecemeal, over the course of about twenty-two years, to Muhammad. Muhammad, unable to write, memorized the recitations and spoke them to others, who then wrote them down. (Qur’an means recitation, or that which is recited.)

The angel that appeared to Muhammad at a cave on the slopes of Mount Hira near Mecca, about AD 610, also had the name Gabriel. It was the custom of many Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Gnostics to retire to secluded places in hopes of receiving spiritual dreams and visions and thereby experience a direct connection with deity. Muhammad was one of these.

Ascetics would fast, meditate, and stay awake for days in order to empty the mind and receive dreams and visions. Muhammad, after a time, achieved trance-like states during which the angel Gabriel, as the angel announced himself to Muhammad, spoke to him. We find a hint of this in the hadith of Abu Dawud, Book 12, No. 2247a, which reads, “When the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) came to himself (after the revelation ended)…”

Muhammad reported his visits by Gabriel to his wife Khadija, who supported the idea that it was indeed an angel speaking to her husband. Muhammad, however, was not sure of the nature of the vision he had, but eventually adopted his wife’s opinion.

At the very beginning of Muhammad’s encounter with Gabriel, he wondered if he was actually in contact with a jinn (demon) rather than an angel. This is stunningly apparent based on a hadith reported by Aisha (the mother of the faithful believers and favorite wife of Muhammad) as found in the most trusted of all hadiths, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 1, No. 3:

The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good dreams, which came true like bright day light, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food like-wise again till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.”

The Prophet added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for a third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.

Muhammad was so harshly treated by what he thought was the angel Gabriel that he doubted it was an angel from Allah at all. He became depressed and considered throwing himself off the mountain of Hira. It was only through the intervention and convincing of Khadija, his first wife, that Muhammad was prevented from doing so.

There is an interesting account referred to as “The Lap.” The story is that Muhammad continued to believe the being that appeared to him was a jinn, a demon. Khadija, in the midst of Muhammad’s fears and doubts, asked him to sit on her lap, first one side then the other. When he did she asked him if he saw the angel. He responded, yes. Then she asked him to sit on her lap and once again asked if he saw the angel. Again, yes. Then she disrobed and asked Muhammad to sit on her lap again. She asked if he saw the angel and Muhammad said, no. With that Khadija convinced Muhammad it was indeed the angel Gabriel by saying that only a good angel would not look upon a woman’s nakedness.

The above account is a paraphrase from the Sira the official biography of Muhammad. Below now is the account, called “The Lap” as reported by Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad’s biographer:

Ibn Ishaq recorded that when the spirit came to Muhammad another time, Khadija tested him:

Ishma’il b. Abu Hakim, a freedman of the family of al-Zubayr, told me on Khadija’s authority that she said to the apostle of Allah, ‘O son of my uncle, are you able to tell me about your visitant, when he comes to you?’ He replied that he could, and she asked him to tell her when he came.

So when Gabriel came to him, as he was wont, the apostle said to Khadija, ‘This is Gabriel who has just come to me.’ ‘Get up, O son of my uncle,’ she said, ‘and sit by my left thigh.’

The apostle did so, and she said, ‘Can you see him?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. She said, ‘Then turn around and sit on my right thigh.’ He did so, and she said, ‘Can you see him?’ When he said that he could she asked him to move and sit in her lap.

When he had done this she again asked if he could see him, and he said yes, she disclosed her form and cast aside her veil while the apostle was sitting in her lap. Then she said, ‘Can you see him?’ And he replied, ‘No.’ She said, ‘O son of my uncle, rejoice and be of good heart, by Allah he is an angel and not a satan.

(Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Guillaume, 1967, p. 107)[1]

Gabriel in the Qur’an and hadith

Gabriel appears in only three verses in the Qur’an: Sura 2:97-98 and Sura 66:4.

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind)[2]: Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah’s leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it and a guidance and glad tidings to believers. Sura 2:97

Who is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers. Sura 2:98

If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant, (ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban); and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad) the lo! Allah, even He, is his protecting Friend, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers; and furthermore the angels are his helpers. Sura 66:4

THE GABRIELS: SAME OR DIFFERENT?

Of incredibly significant importance is the question: Is the Gabriel of the Bible and the Gabriel of Islam one and the same?

The reader, of course, will be aware that I am going to make the case that the two are different, in fact, very different. However, it is easy to be fooled. The apostle Paul warned the Church at Corinth that demons could disguise themselves as angels. 

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

Let me be clear at once: both are angels. One is an angel of the Lord; the other is a fallen angel, a demon. My contention is that a fallen angel—a jinn or demon—appeared to Muhammad on Mount Hira. Muhammad was right in his first assessment.

The Ultimate Offense

To state that Islam’s Gabriel is a jinn is to state the ultimate offense for Muslims, since it utterly negates the big three: Allah, the Qur’an, and Muhammad. Allah because it is Allah who is relaying to Gabriel what is in the Qur’an. Then Gabriel is no angel but a demon. And Muhammad is merely passing along what a demon is reciting to him. Islam is then based upon absolute error and nothing more.

Such accusations, let alone suggestions, can earn one the death penalty in Muslim-majority societies. Religions or governments that forcefully, even ruthlessly, stifle dissent show their weakness. This is true of Islam, even in countries where the Muslim population is small. If a Muslim abandons Islam, which is called apostasy, he or she may be punished by death, though this is not clearly spelled out in the Qur’an.

The Christian’s obligation

With the understanding of this enormous deception, what must a Christian do? Must we remain silent and not voice even the possibility that the whole of Islam is based on demonic deception? To refrain from speaking out is immoral and unethical.

Writers of Scripture were known for denouncing false religion and the behaviors they spawn. Many paid the ultimate price for standing with the truth. Many are dying today in Muslim dominated nations for speaking their hearts and minds.

In the face of terror and in light of the great commission given Christians by Jesus Himself (see Matthew 28:19-20, among others), it is necessary to stand up to the murderous lying of the chief demon, Satan. Jesus, while countering the attacks of religious opponents, was clear. Jesus said:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

It is not disrespectful to challenge error, especially when the difference is between heaven and hell, both of which are eternal.

ANOTHER ISLAMIC TEACHING ABOUT GABRIEL

Some spokesmen for Islam identify Gabriel as the Holy Spirit in both the Bible and the Qur’an. From where in Islam’s authoritative texts do they get this? In Sura 2:87 and Sura 2:253, and without the word Gabriel appearing, we find, “We supported him with the Holy Spirit.” Islamic interpreters say this “We” is the angel Gabriel. But the plain text of the Qur’an does not state this.

Not only does the Qur’an not identify Gabriel with the Holy Spirit, neither does the hadith. Instead we find just the opposite, as illustrated by Sahih Muslim, in book 30: “Gabriel, the Apostle of Allah is among us, and the Holy Spirit who has no match.” Gabriel is not the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit in the Bible

            The Hebrew Bible

Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament show the nature and identity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is deity, often referred to as the Spirit of God, in that the Holy Spirit is holy, and only God is holy. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, is referred to as a “He” and thus is personal, and is omnipotent, meaning all powerful. And the Holy Spirit can only be God as are the Father and the Son.

The second verse of Genesis speaks of the Holy Spirit being involved at the moment of the creation of the universe. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

2 Samuel 23:2-3 identifies the God of Israel with the Spirit of the LORD.[3]

The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God;…

Isaiah 40:13 reads, “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD or what man shows him his counsel?” We notice “LORD” in the phrase “Spirit of the LORD” clearly identifying the Holy Spirit with God.

The New Testament

There is much more, however, but now we turn to the New Testament, first to the third chapter of the Gospel of John.

A leader of the Jewish people named Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, presumably to speak with Him in private. He says he knows Jesus is from God because of the miracles Jesus performs. Jesus however redirects the conversation by saying, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Of course, the elder statesman does not understand how a person can be reborn. Jesus replies, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” To be born of the flesh is one thing, but to be born of the Spirit is quite another. And we must be clear: Jesus is not talking about any angel much less one named Gabriel. Only God brings life, both physical and spiritual.

The Holy Spirit works the new birth or conversion. This is clear in the passage in John 3, and we find the same in Acts 8:14–20. Also in Acts 3:1–4, the Holy Spirit is directly referred to as God. The writer of Hebrews also declares that the Holy Spirit is eternal when in reference to the power of the shed blood of Jesus: “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to sere the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).

Looking back to the birth passages in Luke’s Gospel, we find an answer to Mary’s question to the angel Gabriel as to how she will have a baby when Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Luke 1:35). It is obvious that the angel Gabriel separates himself from the Holy Spirit. Certainly, the Holy Spirit and Gabriel are not the same at all.

It is clear that neither the Qur’an nor the Bible anywhere identify Gabriel with the Holy Spirit.

Angel or Holy Spirit?

The goal of Islamic scholars who claim that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit is intended to contaminate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Which is it then? Is Gabriel an angel or the Holy Spirit, or maybe both at once, at least from an Islamic point of view? Our arguments above show that Gabriel is actually a jinn or demon, thus further clouding an already murky subject.

WHO IS ALLAH?

The Name “Allah”

“Allah” was the name used by Christians and Jews in the Arabian Peninsula for centuries before the Islamic era. Indeed, the word Allah was used by Jews in the Arabian Peninsula for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before the Christian era.

To put it another way: Neither Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, nor Uthman invented the word Allah. They would have known the word Allah from childhood.

It is not the word that counts; it is the content or meaning of the word.

To the Jew of that period, Allah would be the creator, the lawgiver, and the one who led the family of the patriarchs out of Egypt and gave them the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.

To the Christian of that period, Allah would be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in addition to all that the Jewish people believed about God.

It would be only natural for Muhammad to also use the term Allah in reference to the creator God. Clearly, however, Muhammad gave new definition to who or what Allah is.

Islam’s Allah

Islam claims that Allah spoke to Gabriel, who then spoke to Muhammad, who then recited the revelations that originated with Allah by way of Gabriel to other people, who at some point committed them to writing.

The narrative of the collecting of the Qur’an is fascinating. There were so many variations going about that Uthman, the third caliph after Muhammad, ordered all the renditions be gathered together in order to make a uniform document. All the other manuscripts were then burned. But the picture of Allah in the Qur’an is interesting.

Allah is distant, speaks through an angel, loves those who love him, and hates those who do not believe in him. Allah is called the greatest of deceivers and might lead astray even the best of Muslims. Though Allah repeatedly refers to himself as the most beneficent, the most merciful, the most forgiving, and so on, evidence of this is lacking or scant other than what he says of himself.

It is not unfair nor a misrepresentation to say that the God of the Qur’an is far different from the God spoken of in the Bible, both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Transcendence versus Immanence

One of the major differences between the Bible’s God and Islam’s Allah is whether he is present with his creation. From what we find in the Qur’an and hadith about Allah is that he is transcendent and not immanent.

In contrast, the God of the Hebrew Bible, is transcendent but is also immanent, in that He interacts personally with His people. He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, otherwise known as Paradise. He did so until the Fall, the moment that his single law was broken, about which we read in Genesis chapter three. The terrible consequences of that event was that God’s human creation was sent east of Eden. But he never left them entirely alone; he did not abandon them completely.

God once again spoke with a human being out of a burning bush in the Arabian Desert, when God appeared to Moses and told him his name, Yahweh (YHWH, known as the Tetragrammaton). God commanded and directed Moses to supervise erection of a Tabernacle, which contained a special place within it, the Holy of Holies, where would God dwell.

This was a foreshadowing of what would come later. The prophets pointed to a time when God would arrive in person. This is what the word Immanuel means—God present. We can see this in the word itself, even if we are not Hebrew literate. The last two letters of Immanuel, “el” is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word for God, El. Then “imman” and we get our word immanent from it; immanent means present. Simply put, God with us.

This is who Jesus is.

Is Allah a fiction?

Again, my premise is that Gabriel is indeed an angel, but a fallen angel. Muhammad was correct when he thought the being that presented itself at the cave on Mt. Hira was a jinn, which is an Arabic word meaning demon. It was only his wife Khadija who convinced him otherwise.

The point then is: If Gabriel is a demon, and Gabriel is reciting to Muhammad what is supposedly spoken by Allah, then just who or what is Allah?

It is clear from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that Satan and his demons are surely angels but fallen angels who became the enemies of God. And Satan is a god, too.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

(2 Corinthians 4:4)

“The god of this world” Paul says, and some chapters later in the same letter he writes of those who “veil” the gospel:

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

(Note: An apostle is a messenger, one sent with a message.)

Is Allah a fiction? No, there is an Allah but it is Satan in disguise who directed an underling demon to approach Muhammad while Muhammad was in a trance state and therefore open to demonic invasion.

Have I committed blasphemy and of the worst sort against the Islamic trinity? Yes, indeed I have but not out of meanness or an attempt to deceive.

To say that Allah is a demon (Shayton or Satan), that Gabriel is also a demon (jinn), and therefore that Muhammad was very cleverly deceived is the only possible conclusion given the evidence and arguments above. And this is what most Christians do believe, but it is a fearful endeavor to put these ideas out into the public purview, given what we have seen of Islam in these past few decades.

WHO IS MUHAMMAD?

Is Muhammad a true prophet of God?

Was he duped into thinking he was hearing words from Allah?

Did he make the whole thing up?

Was it all a dream?

Was it a scheme to acquire power and prestige?

Is Muhammad a prophet to be trusted?

Is he to be obeyed? Is he to be believed?

Is he a false prophet?

We cannot be afraid to ask these questions. Too much hinges on the answers, for Muslims especially. I am well aware that Muslim people are sincere seekers after God. Even the most radical among them are only following through on what has been communicated to them from the cradle. Muslim people, in my experience, are more “religious” than most Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and so on.

Few desire to be with God in Paradise as much as Muslims. And many will do anything to assure themselves of being there. After all, no Muslim can be sure they will be in paradise after death since Allah is a great deceiver and will lead astray any he chooses. Unlike the Christian who will experience assurance of salvation, the Muslim can only hope and work hard to earn Allah’s favor.

Some commentators doubt Muhammad even existed. I am not one of these. As to whether there were those who embellished the story, especially in the latter part of the seventh and into the eighteenth century, is a possibility. We are aware Gnostics in the second and third centuries did that with Jesus, made Him into a super hero and magician.

It is well established that Muhammad was not certain in his own mind as to the nature of the entity he encountered on Mt. Hira. At first he thought the ‘angel’ was a jinn, a demon; his wife Khadija convinced him it was an angel of God.

What is the truth?

That which was revealed to Muhammad differs utterly from what we see of God in the Bible. Which account is the true one?

Islam, of course, says that the revelation to Muhammad supersedes or replaces what is found in the Bible. And in a number of significant ways.  For instance, Jesus is not God come to be with us and die on a cross for our sin. Jesus is a prophet but not of the rank of Muhammad. Jesus plays a role in the last days, but dies and ends up being buried next to Muhammad. It is rather complex, but the Jesus of the Qur’an (Isa) is not close to the Jesus of Christian Scripture.

Then, God in the Qur’an is separated from humans and speaks through an angel. In the Bible, God becomes flesh and dwells among us. Also, being in Paradise/heaven in the Qur’an depends upon believing that Allah alone is God and that Muhammad is his messenger. But that is only the beginning. Mostly heaven is earned by doing good deeds, working for salvation. In the Bible forgiveness, salvation, and being assured of heaven depends upon God’s gift alone.  

MY CLOSING STATEMENT

Who is Allah? Allah is either a chief demon, perhaps Satan himself, or a fantasy figure invented by Muhammad. At minimum, Allah is not God.

Who is Gabriel? Gabriel is either a jinn, meaning a demon, or again is a fantasy figure invented by Muhammad. Gabriel is not an angel of the Lord God.

Who is Muhammad? He is a seventh century man living in Arabia who was either deceived by a demonic entity or who developed a fictional account of receiving communications from God. Muhammad is not a prophet of God; he is a false prophet.

Another contradiction within Islam:

There is a cascading danger for Islam in its claim that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit. Islam is supposed to be monotheistic, meaning that Allah has no partners. If Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, then Gabriel is deity as well—Allah has a partner. Add to that the doctrine held by the traditionalists in Islam who believe that the Qur’an is eternal in heaven. Another partner? Consider also the reverence shown to Muhammad. Is it so complete that he is actually lifted to the status of deity as well? One more partner for Allah?

Muhammad is not God and never claimed to be, despite how Muslims tend to view him, and neither is Gabriel. If Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, and the Quran is eternal alongside Allah, and if every Muslim must model his own life after the “perfect man” Muhammad, it is not a stretch to say that Islam has a fourfold divinity: Allah, Gabriel, the Qur’an, and Muhammad.

The list of inner contradictions emanating from Islam is long, and this essay only introduces some of them. For further details, please consult Islamic Studies: Equipping the Christian Witness to Muslims, published by Earthen Vessel Publishing at evpbooks.com.


[1] The Sira has for centuries been linked with the Qur’an and hadith as authoritative on the life of Muhammad. In more recent years the Sira has been largely neglected, as the accounts of what Muhammad said and did are rather fantastic, problematic, and embarrassing.

[2] Words in parentheses-( )-indicate explanatory notes made by editors of the Qur’an. Without them so very many passages of the Qur’an would be unintelligible.

[3] LORD, all capital letters shows that the Hebrew text has Yahweh, that name of God as revealed to Moses in the burning bush incident. See Exodus 3:14.

God Commissions Joshua

Joshua 1:1–9

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         Joshua, the name, means “Yahweh Saves” and Jesus, the name, also means “Yahweh Saves.” Here begins the story of the people of Israel coming into the Promised Land, crossing the Jordan River, and encountering the seven nations living there. Joshua is the commander of the LORD’s army.

2.         Moses is called God’s servant and so is Joshua. Joshua is called to do battle against the pagan nations living in the land of promise that stretched from northern Syria to the wilderness of the Negeb, that area that bordered Egypt.

3.         Yahweh promises that no one would be able to stand against him. As He was with Moses, so he would be with Joshua. The LORD tells Joshua, “I will not leave you or forsake you.”

4.         This promise is quoted in Hebrews 13:5 and is applied to us all. As we go forward then as servants of our Lord Jesus, we have the promise He will be with us all the way.

5.         Again Yahweh says to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” This promise applies to both Jesus, whom Joshua prefigures, but also to us, the Church, the Body of Christ.

6.         In addition, Joshua is told to “meditate on the ‘Book of the Law’” day and night, and this would be the books of Moses. What is for Joshua is for us as well.

7.         Yahweh gives His promise yet again, and again, in verse 9. “Be strong and courageous,” “Do not be frightened,” and ends with the promise, “for the LORD your god is with you wherever you go.”

8.         These promises of Joshua is made also to us who are in Christ.

Essay # 1 A Follower of Muhammad? A Follower of Jesus?

Essay One

Average Muslims are caught in a very difficult predicament—they must be followers of Muhammad and attempt to do what he did in his lifetime, if they have any chance of entering paradise. A Muslim is required to live out a very rigorous commitment to the principles and practices of Islam.

The question, “What did Muhammad do during his lifetime?” therefore becomes a very large issue for Muslim people. The following is only a short list of those things that Muhammad did and highlights the most commonly known aspects of his life.

»       Once he began preaching Islam, he is not known to have earned a living other than through acquiring the spoils of conquest.

»       He forced people to convert to Islam or die, or, become enslaved to Muslims and submit to them.

»       He gained converts by force, some by persuasion.

»       He had at least twelve wives, plus concubines, and married at least one girl under the age of ten and did have sexual relations with her while she was under ten.

»       He wore a beard.

»       He ate only with his right hand.

»       He slept only upon his right side.

To be a true follower of Muhammad and live like he did—not easily imitated. How might a faithful Muslim then live?

To be a follower of Muhammad you would:

» Live off a welfare system. This is extremely common in Europe, for example, where those Muslims on welfare are, comparatively speaking, a very high percentage of the Muslim population. After all, how can a faithful Muslim be employed with the requirement to pray five times a day, and three of the prayers coming during normal business hours?

» View others who were not Muslims as infidels and who may then be treated in any manner necessary to secure their submission including murdering them whether man, woman, or child.

» _Use force of whatever kind necessary to secure the advancement of the religion. (Every day in our newspapers this fact is highlighted and the television news broad­casts are choked with the gory details most every evening.)

» _Satisfy your sexual needs as Muhammad did by having many wives, including children.

Note: Child brides are a staple in countries where Islam predominates. Very recently, in Gaza, the terrorist organization Hamas put on a large wedding celebration for 450 couples and the brides were all little girls under ten years of age. It must be pointed out that the usual cover-ups were made to a credulous Western population that such horrific behavior is only a cultural means of providing for poor families or suggesting there is no sex until at least puberty—none of which is close to the truth. No, it is pedophilia, which is sanctioned by the Muslim culture. There are estimates that there are 51 million child brides now living on the planet and almost all are in Muslim countries. Pedophilia was not only practiced by Muhammad but is also sanctioned by the Qur’an (see Surah 65:4).

The most famous Muslim cleric of the 20th Century, Ayatollah Khomeini, said that a man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, the holy man said, he should not penetrate a female; rather, sodomizing a male child was permitted. The revered ayatollah further announced that a father who gives his child for such pleasure would earn a permanent place in paradise.

Yes, this is horrific, and I will stop here with descriptions. The Ayatollah wrote a book about his views on sex with infants, animals, and more. Here is the title of the book: Ayatollah Khomeini’s Book on Sex: For Shias, by LagoShia. The Ayatollah is the leading scholar and jurist for Shi’a Islam and therefore his word is law. A Wikipedia search on the subject will yield all one needs to know.

A Follower of Jesus?

Make a comparison between Jesus and Muhammad. Read one of the gospels for yourself and you will find the difference to be as different as darkness is from light, as hate is from love, and death is from life.

The Muslim, especially if born in countries with a Muslim majority, is trapped into something he or she is virtually unable to escape from. They are caught in a religious culture that, I am convinced, they would renounce if they could.

Closing Comment

Behind and beneath and within Islam lurks that which is evil. Wish it were not so, wish that Islam was actually simply another of the world’s great religions as it is so often portrayed.

Why is it that mostly only Biblically-oriented Christians understand the real nature of the religion? is a question to be pondered. It would seem that all the people of the earth would be alarmed at the core teachings and practices of Islam. And it is this fact that leads me to the conclusion that there is a hideous evil strength that runs through all of that which is claimed to be a religion and which demands proper respect and acceptance.

NAR Conspiracy?

Response to the article, Exposing the NAR Conspiracy, by Daniel Kolenda

Daniel Kolenda would lump me in with the NAR conspiracy theorists, I suppose, demonstrated by my book, published in 2017 by Earthen Vessel Publishing: False Prophets Among Us: What is the New Apostolic Reformation and Why is it Dangerous?

Currently I am pastor of Miller Avenue Baptist Church in Mill Valley, CA (San Francisco Bay Area), now in my 38th year there. I was a street evangelist in the Haight-Ashbury beginning in February 1967. A little more than a year later, though I was a fundamentalist Baptist type, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues. I am not a cessationist, nor a complementarian, and hold to a moderate Reformed theology. I yet pray for healings and am very active in deliverance ministry, mostly via Zoom these days.

In the late 1980s I attended both the beginning and advanced church growth seminars at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena and spent many hours talking with C. Peter Wagner and Charles Kraft about the moving of the Holy Spirit during the Jesus People Movement. I also attended sessions where John Wimber taught us how to lead worship by means of proper lighting, music, and talented worship leaders.

I have attended services at the Bethel Church in Redding and have close friends who have been very active there for many years. Many of the top names in the NAR I have heard there as well.

Conspiracy theorist?? This term cannot be applied to those who question what goes on in places like the Bethel Church in Redding. Plus, there are many of us who doubt that the anointed apostles and prophets who report being in the “throne room” in heaven, speaking directly with the Father and the Son, even sitting on the laps of Jesus and others, and given important messages to relay back on earth are speaking truthfully.

It went even wilder with the prophecies about Donald Trump being re-elected as president. I viewed the video where Kris Vallotton apologized for the false prophecies he gave out on this matter. Apparently 20% accuracy on “words from God” is acceptable at his School of the Supernatural there at Bethel.

Then there is “soaking prayer,” where people lay for hours in what looks like a trance state just slathering in the Spirit. It is a page right out of the Shaman’s or Wiccan’s handbook.

We are not talking conspiracy here; no, we must be aware that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (see 1 Peter 5:8). Those of us who speak these “unpleasant to hear words” do so for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we view as playing with fire and that of the infernal kind.

The Sacrifice of Isaac or The Akkida

Genesis 22:1–19

 Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. Also read: Isaiah 6:1–13, 2 Chronicles 3:1, Galatians 2:15–18, Hebrews 11:17–19, and James 2:18–24.

           1.              Here now is one of the most important passages in all the Bible. It is often referred to as The Akkida, the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, his father, and through whom must come the Messiah.

           2.              The passage then is very prophetic; it is a looking forward to the great sacrificial substitute, which lay more than two millennia away.             

           3.              God (Elohim in the Hebrew text) tests, not tempts, Abraham. He calls out to him and Abraham’s reply is “Here I am.” (Heneni in the Hebrew, and which is the corporate name for Jews for Jesus.)

           4.              Abraham is to take his young son Isaac to the land of Moriah  which means, the place of provision. This place is associated with Jerusalem. It would be here that Elohim would provide a substitute.

           5.              Two days travel from Beersheba, where Abraham was living at the time, just north of Egypt, the company arrives at Moriah.

           6.              Abraham and Isaac move off together, build an altar, but Isaac asks where the sacrificial animal is. His father replies, “God will provide.”

           7.              Then Isaac is bound (the Akkida) and laid atop the wood on the altar. Abraham raises the knife to kill his son when a messenger of the LORD (Yahweh) stops him. Abraham replies, “Here I am.”

           8.              There a ram, whose horns are caught in a thicket, is provided as the sacrifice, a substitutionary atonement as theologians like to refer to this event.

           9.              Abraham referred to this place as “The LORD will provide.” Mount Moriah, at Jerusalem, and where the temple would be built is the place where the LORD did provide.

           10.           Here is a prophetic event that looked forward to the day when Jesus Himself, the sacrificial Lamb, would be crucified. He would die rather than the Chosen of God.          

Essay on Islam

Any, all, or parts of the following essays may be used by anyone for whatever purpose, freely, without any consideration or money changing hands. If desired, references may be made without mentioning the articles or author.

The reader will notice differences in my orientation or feelings toward Islam in the essays. The tenth essay was written in late 2016, while the seventh is from 2002. I did not include the earliest essay, because when I wrote it I was quite angry toward Muslims and Islam in general. The more I learned about Islam and especially the more I engaged with Muslim people directly, my views softened, in that I realized Muslims were caught in the vice grip of an exceedingly unhealthy religious system.

The Islam of the extremists is purer, more traditional, and more radical than that practiced and understood by moderates. Only a small percentage of Muslims know much about their religion; the zealous Muslim knows much more about Islam and understands that if he or she has a chance of going to paradise rather than hellfire, it is necessary to move to a more fervent following of Islam.

Most Muslims want to live and let live. But their entire identity, their worldview, is Muslim. They cannot imagine being anything but Muslim. Outreach to Muslims is then dependent on the miracle working of God; the new birth is from above.

To be clear, I see Islam as wrongly oriented and founded. I no more accept Islam as a revelation from God than I do Hinduism, Buddhism, Shamanism, and the belief systems of many neo-pagan groups.

All organized religions are flawed, including Christianity. I am a Baptist pastor who understands that Baptists are flawed as well. Any and every institution with humans involved will be corrupt to some measure, some more than others. I definitely believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and that God sent His only Son to take our sin upon Himself—to die, be buried, and be resurrected. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. There is salvation in no one but Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

A challenge to the reader: Which essay would be appropriate to give to a Muslim and which would not? All the essays are written for Christians who have an interest in understanding Islam. Some are “softer” than others and may be used as a Gospel tract, so to speak, and given to Muslim people. Some are “harder” and would likely repel a Muslim reader. As Christians, we do not “pull punches.” At the same time, we are wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Our goal is to present the message of Jesus Christ to all people of the world including Muslims.

A note to readers who are feeling a bit overwhelmed at this point. There is so much to learn about Islam and all that goes with it. There is indeed a steep learning curve, and the journey up the initial curve is painful and frustrating. I not only have been there, but in many ways, I am yet struggling up the incline. It is little by little for sure. And I must confess that when I speak with Muslims, I find I really don’t have to know all that much about Islam; this is necessary only when dealing with the imams and scholars. A good grasp of the essentials of Biblical Christianity is what counts the most. We simply present the message of the person and work of Jesus Christ. That is it, the basic evangel. And you will be surprised how many Muslims are eager to hear it.

Kent Philpott

An Invitation to those who do not have a Church

Some years ago, it was reported in Christianity Today that 52% of Christians in America do not attend any church. That number has risen, and rather sharply, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to that it occurred to me and our other pastors to welcome those without a church to be part of our Miller Avenue Baptist Church here in Mill Valley, California, in whatever way possible.

Following are ways to join us:

  1. Sunday morning services (10:30 a.m. Pacific) are live streamed via Zoom. Here is the weekly link for that: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/974567942
  • The Sunday morning service is also recorded, with the video of the services available on our website: milleravenuechurch.org.
  • The Sunday sermon is also available (under “Miller Avenue Church”) as an audio podcast at:
    • Amazon Music/Audible
    • Gaana
    • Google Play Music
    • iHeartRadio
    • Audacy mobile app
    • Spotify
    • Libsyn Classic Feed
  • Sunday evening service (6:00 p.m. Pacific) is in transition, currently local and showing episodes of “The Chosen” followed by discussion. When it is Zoomed, the link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81686492941

pwd=ZDcwRUI4WkpHeHJPTkR1TWxJN3ZSUT09

We are currently working through Kent’s book, Christian Basics, which is as it sounds—a look at the basic lessons, debates, and conversations around historical Christianity. Here is a link to Kent’s author page at Amazom.com: Click Here

We are very active in producing Christian content videos:

  • “The Bible Study”—verse by verse through books of the Bible
  • “Why We Are Christians”—interviews with Christians of various backgrounds
  • “Why Jesus and Not the Others”—includes four series so far: with an Imam, a Rabbi, a Shaman, and a Wiccan

These are all available at our website (milleravenuechurch.org/watch-our-tv-shows) and via our free app “Miller Avenue Church” at:

  • iPhone App Store
  • Android phone Play Store
  • Roku
  • YouTube TV
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Fire TV
  • Cross.TV
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miller.avenue.church.mill.valley

The Bible Study program is also available as audio-only podcast at:

  • Spotify Podcasts
  • iHeartRadio
  • TuneIn Podcasts
  • Google Play Podcasts

Kent says:

In August we began sending out certificates of membership to those who identify with us but lived in other parts of the country. The first batch was for fifteen old and new friends.

To be a member of CWC — A Church for those Without a Church — requires two things: One, to trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and two, to believe that the Bible is the written Word of God. This is simple, basic Christianity.

We also intend to offer pastoral ministry to those who live away from our Marin County and thus would have little or no opportunity to talk with one of our pastors. We have five pastors: Kent Philpott, Katie Philpott, Vernon Philpott, Jim Daley, and Doug Fairclough. For those wishing to contact one of our pastors, simply let us know by emailing: contact@churchwithoutchurch.online

To see much more, please go to our website, milleravenuechurch.org and browse around. If you would like to talk with me on the phone, call me at (415) 302-1199, or email me at kentphilpott@comcast.net. Again, you can see most of my books by going to Amazon.com and typing in my name or going to my author page:

Click Here

There is no requirement to send in tithes or offerings.

The Call of Abram

Genesis 12:1–20

 Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. (Also look at Hebrews 11:8–16.)

1.       Here now is the beginning of all that is Israel. Abram means high or honored father, is directed by Yahweh to leave his home city, Ur, located in southern Babylonia, and travel to an as yet unknown destination. Abraham, whom Abram’s name will be changed to, means father of many nations.

2.       The reason for the calling of Abram is that through him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (And we know from two Gospel writers that Abraham is in Jesus’ genealogy.) This same promise and prophesy is given to Isaac, Abram’s son, and also to Jacob, Abram’s grandson.

3.       Abram’s wife Sarai (meaning princess) and Lot his nephew, along with hundreds of other members of the clan, set off for a land unknown. (Sarai’s name will be changed to Sarah which means “to rule.”)

4.       After arriving in Egypt, Abram fears that the Pharaoh, or king of Egypt, will take Sarai into his harem because she is so beautiful, and thus fears that he is in danger as a result. Therefore, he says that Sarai is his sister, thus not his wife. In fact, they have the same father, Terah, but she has a different mother than Abram.

5. Pharaoh does bring Sarai into his harem (whether they ever touched is unknown) and he “dealt well with Abram.”

6.       Yahweh, despite the half-truth Abram tells the Pharaoh,

afflicts Pharaoh “and his house with great plagues” whereupon  Pharaoh calls Abram to account. After Abram receives a severe tongue-lashing from the Pharaoh, he then sends Abram and company away.

7.       This is our introduction to Abraham the first of the great patriarchs from whose line will come the Messiah.