Apologetics

Father Themi’s Road to the Crucified Christ

Father Themi-Christianity No Expiration

Father Themistoclese Athony Adamopoulo, “Father Themi,” is a Greek Orthodox priest. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Australia, but was looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. At one point he was a neo-Marxist, at another stage a rock star, (founding member of the 1960s Australian rock-n-roll band The Flies), on another level an academic with a PhD from Brown University and a Master of Theology from Princeton Divinity School, but then he had a radical encounter with God. He had a Damascus road experience, and as a result of that he has given up everything to serve the poor.

Hank Hanegraaff invited Father Themi to be a guest on the March 14, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast. The following are some highlights of their conversation.

Hank Hanegraaff: I continue my conversation with Father Themi. He is someone, as I said just before the break, who was not only talking theology, but he has taken his faith and put it into practice. He was once a rock star, but now he’s in Sierra Leone and this is what I am really interested in. I’m really interested, Father Themi, in a communication from you as to why Christians are losing the culture wars. We have a said faith often times not a real faith, or we give intellectual ascent to logical truth propositions, but were not living out the faith. The reality is Christ has not only saved us by His death, He has saved us into His life, so that we can give life to others.

Father Themi Adamopulo: I guess, Hank, I can only speak for myself. Unfortunately, that’s the reality. Having gone through all these other phases in the world, even as you mentioned before, rock star, you know we played on the same stage as the Rolling Stones, when they came to Australia. I went to a party with Mick Jagger. We did all the things that rock stars, I’m ashamed to say, do. So in a way I understand the secular world. I understand what is attractive to a young person of the secular world. But I want to tell your young listeners, those who are aspiring to become rock stars, those who are aspiring for fame, those who are aspiring for whatever it is that the latest fashion is, my friends, it’s empty! Beyond the glamour, beyond the glory, you know, beyond the fans that scream at you one day and the next day you’re forgotten. The very people who turned up and screamed their heads off and were going absolutely crazy over you one day, and you couldn’t, we couldn’t even reach the stage door before we were mobbed, just to get to the cars to get away, it was just an ordeal, you know, I would lose half my hair just being torn apart by fans, and then having fans outside your door camped all day just to get a glimpse of you, these things people dream of, I tell you now, I’ve been through that, it’s empty. Because after your expiration date, there’s a complimentary expiration date to fame, there’s an expiration date to rock stardom—except if you’re the Rolling Stones for some reason, its incomprehensible, though I think the time has almost come, I’m not sure, I’m not quite sure there—but there is an expiration date. I can mention rock groups that were huge—The Who, The Yardbirds, just so many groups that have come and gone, The Young Rascals, Chicago, so many groups that have come and gone—who has ever heard of them anymore? What happened to the fame? It’s gone. It’s all gone, right? So it is all ephemeral. It doesn’t last. This fame business, this success business in the world, doesn’t last forever. Even if you’re the greatest baseball player, or the greatest football player—by the way I can’t really call American football “football” but that’s another story. Nevertheless, even there, I think your expiration date is obvious. It’s obvious.

What I’ve discovered in Christianity is that that is not applicable anymore. There is no expiration date. You don’t expire after a certain period. If anything you go from glory to glory to glory until eventually we reach that kingdom of heaven. So it’s an amazing contradiction to all the propaganda that we’ve had heard in the secular world. Oh, in order to make it you’ve got to have a lot of money. In order to make it, you’ve got to get famous, and this and that. My friends, you know, those of us who’ve been through fame and stardom and so forth, behind the scenes you’re still the same human being, behind the scenes it’s still you, before you go on stage you going to face one-hundred-thousand people, it’s still you. You haven’t changed, it’s still you. So, you being alone, where are you at the moment of death? You see, you’re still the same person. That’s the comfort of Christianity. That’s the strength of Christianity that we have. We are not restricted. We are not restricted by time or period or phases. We keep going as long as we are faithful to the Lord.

Your question, Hank, was why is it, I guess you’re asking, forgive me if I got the wrong question, why is it that more people are trapped into the secular world than Christianity, is that what your question was?

Hank: Essentially what I want to talk about is you call from, not only you call to salvation, but your call from salvation to service.

Father Themi: A ha. Having been an academic, therefore, after conversion naturally there is a period of reorientation, where you find yourself. Who am I? I’m a Christian. Ok, what do I give up now? The Bible says he who wishes to be perfect come sell everything you have give it to the poor and come and follow me and I’ll will show you the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:16-26). That’s very difficult to do. It’s very difficult to do. I tried it, I sold my car, I sold my things, and so gave it to the poor kind of thing. Now what? Where do you go from here? You know? You allow the grace of God to come and work into your life. There was a period of some difficulty in the beginning, because I was discovering what Christianity meant. I was discovering for the first time the grace of God. I was discovering for the first time the forgiveness of God, the new avenues the new horizons that God was giving, but I was still the old man. I was still the old person. The old rock star. The old Marxist. The baggage’s you see. All that had to be knocked out. All that had to be cleansed clean, you see, and that took time, because yes we talk about conversion, but let us not imagine that one day you’ll become a brand new person. There’s still a lot of the old luggage, a lot of the old baggage, a lot of the old things you are carrying from the old life. These things have to be removed slowly and gradually. I guess my initial years were the removal of the old baggage, until, you know there is a period of catharsis, it’s sort of like a purgatory, going through purgatory.

Eventually, I started teaching schools but because of my need for repentance and for my past sins, I began to, you know everywhere I was I would talk about Jesus. If I was in the classroom I would tell the kids about Jesus. If I went on a bus, I would tell the conductor about Jesus. If I was sitting in a chair on the bus, I would tell my next door neighbor about Jesus, you see. Fine. That was great, but then I thought, you know, I need to systematize this, I need to make it more systematic, more effective, right?

The way I did it was I went back to academia. I went back to theology. I started theology in Australia, here in America, the Lord led me to Princeton, Harvard, Brown, some of the greatest schools that you have in this country, and I’m very honored to have gone to these schools. I have learned a lot. So, I went back and became an academic in my tradition in Australia.

But the call to serve the poor was irresistible. Here I was. I think one of the dramatic moments was this. I had prepared a lecture for one of the universities in Sydney, and the lecture was, are you ready, Hank, the Trimorphic Protennoia of the Nag Hammadi corpus, and the Johannine Prologue. Now if you understand what I’m saying, you’ve got problems.

Hank: [laughs] Unfortunately, I’ve got problems.

Father Themi: You do understand it? Oh my goodness. So, well you do understand. So, here I am three months working on this Coptic text, trying to see whether it was John’s Gospel that was impacted by it or it was the Coptic gospel that was impacting John, blah, blah, blah, and I was very happy with my work, and I went to deliver the lecture, and I was convinced that I was defending the priority of John’s Gospel as opposed to this Nag Hammadi Coptic Gnostic text, and there were four people in the lecture. You know, three months’ work, whatever, a published article, and there was like three or four people. I don’t want to lie to you, let say at minimum, right, and I’m thinking, is this what the Lord, you know, is this how I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life? You know, researching obscure Coptic texts and Syriac texts and so forth, or is there something else the Lord wanted?

When I saw the work of Mother Theresa, when I heard of the great work Mother Theresa was doing, and the impact that this eighty-year-old elderly senior woman was having on the lives of people around the world, particularly in India, Calcutta, of course, but also around the world, she would have an enormous impact on people, young and old, I thought, surely this is the model that you should be following, rather than the more pedantic, though necessary but pedantic academic way to the kingdom of heaven. In particular, trying to teach Hebrew to stubborn Greek Orthodox seminarians, didn’t help either. So, I decided to give it up. Give up academia, as it were, and to follow the road to the crucified Christ. The road to the poor. The road to serving among the poor. The poorest in the world. Not in Australia, but the poorest in the world.

I thought where are the poorest in the world? Automatically, of course, Africa came to mind, and because I was born in Africa, I was born in Alexandria, I mentioned before, North Africa, I thought this is what I should do. I have, of course, to get permission from my bishops, my archbishops. I think my archbishop was happy to get rid of me so he gave me his blessings. No, I’m just joking. You know, he was very kind and very, very understanding, and gave me his blessings to move on. In fact, I remember his words, you have the blessings of Abraham. That was it. I move to Alexandria, from Alexandria to Kenya, and in Kenya I learned about world poverty. I learned about the poor of this world.

Apologetics

Applying Biblical Principles to Social Issues

Anderson, Kerby-Social Issues

This article first appeared in the Viewpoint column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 1 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Turn on the television or open a newspaper or tune in to talk radio. Within a few moments you will be confronted with ethical issues and topics. Daily we face ethical choices that are enshrouded in controversial moral complexity, including abortion, euthanasia, cloning, genetic engineering, race relations, drug abuse, homosexuality, gambling, pornography, and capital punishment. The rise of technology and the fall of ethical consensus have plunged our twenty‐first century society into a cauldron of moral debates and dilemmas.

Never has our society found itself in greater need of a biblical perspective with which to evaluate moral issues, and never have Christians been less equipped to address these topics. Two years ago, the Barna Research Group found that only nine percent of born‐again Christians base their life decisions on the biblical principles of a Christian worldview.

How do we begin to evaluate the complex social and political issues of our day from a biblical perspective? How do we keep from being carried away by the latest cultural trend that is blowing in the wind? Here are some key biblical principles to apply and faulty logic to avoid.

Biblical Principles. A key biblical principle that applies to the area of bioethics is the sanctity of human life. Such verses as Psalm 139:13–16 show that God’s care and concern extend to the womb. Other verses such as Jeremiah 1:5, Judges 13:7–8, Psalm 51:5, and Exodus 21:22–25, give framework and additional perspective to this principle. This can apply to issues ranging from abortion to stem cell research to infanticide.

A related biblical principle involves the equality of human beings. The Bible teaches that God has made “of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26 KJV). The Bible also teaches that it is wrong for a Christian to have feelings of superiority (Phil. 2). Believers are told not to make class distinctions between various people (James 2). Paul teaches the spiritual equality of all people in Christ (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). These teachings can apply to our views of racial relations and of government.

The third principle concerns the biblical perspective on marriage. Marriage is God’s plan and provides intimate companionship for life (Gen. 2:18). Marriage provides a context for the procreation and nurture of children (Eph. 6:1–2) and a godly outlet for sexual desire (1 Cor. 7:2). This principle can apply to such diverse issues as artificial reproduction (which often introduces a third party into the pregnancy) and cohabitation (unmarried couples living together).

The fourth biblical principle entails the boundaries of sexual behavior. The Bible teaches that sex is to be within the bounds of marriage, as a man and a woman become one flesh (Eph. 5:31). Paul admonishes us to “flee” (1 Cor. 6:18) and “avoid” (1 Thess. 4:3) sexual immorality and to control our own bodies in a way that is “holy and honorable” (1 Thess. 4:5 NIV). These values can apply to such issues as premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.

The fifth principle commands obedience to the authority of government and civic bodies. Government is ordained by God (Rom.13:1–7). We are to render service and obedience to the government (Matt. 22:21) and submit to civil authority (1 Pet. 2:13–17). There may be certain issues, however, that force us to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). This can apply to war, civil disobedience, politics, and government.

Biblical Discernment. Often it is difficult to determine what is true and what is false in a world that offers a puzzling array of solutions across a broad spectrum of belief systems, most of which contradict each other and, as such, underscore the crucial need for Christians to develop godly discernment. Discernment is a word that appears fairly often in the Bible (1 Sam. 25:32–33; 1 Kings 3:10–11; 4:29; Psalm 119:66; Prov. 2:3; Dan. 2:14; Phil. 1:9). Colossians 2:8, similarly, reads, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Because so many facts, claims, and opinions are being tossed about, Christians need to develop discernment to avoid being taken captive by false ideas. These often appear in the form of fallacies. A fallacy, by definition, is a mistaken idea, an error, or a flaw in reasoning. Here are a few of the more popular fallacies often encountered in the heat of debate:

The Fallacy of Equivocation: the use of vague terms. Someone can start off using language we think we understand and then veer off into a new meaning. Readers of the Christian Research Journal are well aware of the fact that religious cults are often guilty of this. A cult member might say that he believes in salvation by grace, but what he really means by that is that you have to join his cult and work your way toward salvation according to the dictates already established by the cult. It is helpful to ask a person to define whatever vague terms he or she is using so that you can avoid being caught by the fallacy of equivocation.

Equivocation is used frequently in bioethics issues. Proponents of stem cell research often will not acknowledge the distinction between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, and those trying to legalize cloning will refer to it as somatic cell nuclear transfer. Unless you have scientific background, you may not understand the difference in stem cells and the fact that cloning advocates are using complex terms to confuse you.

The Fallacy of Card Stacking: the selective use of evidence. Many advocates are guilty of listing all the points in favor of their position while ignoring the serious points against it. Don’t embrace or jump on the latest intellectual fad without checking the evidence.

The most common biology textbooks in high school and college never provide students with evidence against evolution. Jonathan Wells, in his book Icons of Evolution, shows that the examples used in most textbooks are either wrong or misleading. Some of the examples are known frauds (such as the Haeckel embryos) and continue to appear in textbooks decades after they were found fraudulent.

The Fallacy of the Appeal to Authority: reliance on authority to the exclusion of logic and evidence. Just because an expert says it, doesn’t necessarily make it true. We live in a culture that worships experts, but not all experts are right. Hiram’s Law says: “If you consult enough experts, you can confirm any opinion.”

People who argue that global warming is caused by human activity often say that “the debate in the scientific community is over,” but an Internet search of critics of the theories behind global warming will show that there are many scientists with credentials in climatology or meteorology who question aspects of the global warming scenario. It is not accurate to say that the debate is over when the debate is still taking place.

The Fallacy of Ad Hominem (Latin, “against the man”): an attack against a person rather than the person’s argument. People who use this fallacy attack the person instead of dealing with the validity of the person’s argument simply because the argument is a threat to them. Often, the more sound the argument, the more vitriolic the ad hominem rhetoric. If there is evidence for the validity of the position, proponents usually argue the merits of the position; when evidence is lacking, they attack the critics.

Examples of this fallacy abound. Citizens who want to define marriage as occurring between one man and one woman are called bigots. Scientists who criticize evolution are subjected to withering attacks on their character and scientific credentials. Scientists who question global warming are compared to holocaust deniers.

The Fallacy of the Straw Man: the mischaracterization of an opponent’s argument in such a way that it is easy to attack and knock down. Liberal commentators say that evangelical Christians want to implement a religious theocracy in America; even though this is rarely the case, the hyperbole works to marginalize Christian activists who believe they have a responsibility to speak to social and political issues.

The Fallacy of Sidestepping: the evasion or dodging of an issue by changing the subject. Politicians do this in press conferences when they do not answer the question a reporter actually asks, but instead answer a question they wish someone had asked. Professors sometimes do that when a student points out an inconsistency or a leap in logic.

Ask a proponent of abortion whether the fetus is human and you are likely to see this technique in action. He or she might start talking about a woman’s right to choose or the right of women to control their own bodies. Perhaps you will hear a discourse on the need to tolerate various viewpoints in a pluralistic society. You probably won’t get a straight answer to an important question, however.

The Fallacy of the Red Herring: the use of a tangent to distract an opponent from the issue in question (from the practice of luring hunting dogs off the trail with the scent of a herring fish). Proponents of embryonic stem cell research rarely discuss the morality of destroying human embryos; instead they will go off on a tangent (employing another oft‐used fallacy, that of the Emotional Appeal) and talk about the various diseases that could be treated and the thousands of people who could be helped with the research.

People may change the subject in debates because they want to argue their points on more familiar ground or they know they cannot win their argument on the specific issue at hand. Be on the alert when this happens.

A person with discernment will recognize these tactics and beware. We are called to develop discernment as we tear down the false arguments that people raise against the knowledge of God. By doing this we will learn to take every thought captive to the obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4–5).

— Kerby Anderson

Kerby Anderson is National Director of Probe Ministries and host of the radio talk show Point of View. He holds a master’s degree in science from Yale University and a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University.

Apologetics

What is the Secret?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Secret

This article first appeared in the Ask Hank column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 4 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

We live in a society in which many people are constantly searching for a quick fix to all life’s problems—a little‐known truth that once discovered will eliminate the wants, worries, and woes of life. It is therefore not surprising that The Secret,1 which claims to reveal an age‐old process for attaining anything and everything one desires, is quickly gaining a frenzied following, including considerable interest and acclaim from prime‐time media figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Larry King, and Amy Poehler from Saturday Night Live.

Far from the unveiling of a significant secret, The New York Times bestselling book and DVD are the masterful marketing of an all‐too‐common occult practice of creative visualization. Occult movements such as New Age, New Thought, and neo‐pagan witchcraft have long held that the power to create one’s own reality lies within oneself, that thoughts and words are imbued with creative power that directly and dramatically affect the real world in which we live, and that we can use creative visualization to speak, think, or even feel things into existence. These tenets of an occult worldview, a variation of which has sadly been promoted under the guise of Christianity by the heretical Word of Faith movement,2 are the essence of what is now being widely touted as The Secret. This essence is summed up by Mike Dooley, contributing author of The Secret, in three words: “Thoughts become things.”3

According to The Secret, a force exists in the universe that causes thoughts about things to attract the things themselves. Thus, if we live in worry or fear that bad things will happen to us, bad things will happen to us. Conversely, if we live in faithful expectation, we will attract—actually, create—the objects of our desire. To give The Secret an appearance of scientific legitimacy, the authors speak of thinking or feeling on higher and lower frequencies and refer to the force responsible for the supposed creative attraction between thoughts and things as the Law of Attraction.4 They also appropriate, and in many cases misappropriate, the teachings of many famous historical personalities, as well as the Bible, in an attempt to validate The Secret. In reality, however, the central teachings of The Secret are unverifiable, unethical, and utterly unbiblical.

The Secret is Unverifiable. The Secret teaches that there is an unspecified “time delay”5 between our thoughts and the realities they create. Says contributing author Dr. Joe Vitale, “I don’t have any rulebook that says it’s going to take thirty minutes or three days or thirty days. It’s more a matter of you being in alignment with the Universe itself”6—contrast this hedging of bets with Jesus’ verifiable prophecy that he would rise from the dead “on the third day” (Matthew 20:19). Indeed, because the authors of The Secret teach that the length of time between thoughts or feelings and the realities they attract is not measurable, faithful adherence to The Secret is not guaranteed to produce any measurable results. Thus, the extravagant promises of The Secret can never be tested or verified. Like the mechanic who always claims to have been “just about to call” when you get tired of waiting and call to check on your car, teachers of The Secret shrewdly posit this “time delay” so that they can always say that the floodgates of the universe were just about to give way to an ocean of joy and prosperity whenever a disappointed practitioner throws in the towel.

The Secret is Unethical. The Secret teaches that victims of suffering and tragedy attracted those circumstances to their own lives. When asked by Larry King whether Jessica Lunsford, a nine‐year old Florida girl who was brutally raped and murdered, attracted this horror to herself, Vitale responded, “Weare attracting everything to ourselves and there is no exception.”7 To lay such guilt on innocent victims of tragedy represents the height of adding insult to injury and should offend our most basic moral sensibilities.

Furthermore, The Secret teaches that we should visualize and “test‐drive” whatever makes us “feel good”8and practice the experience of instant gratification: “Go test drive that car. Go shop for that home. Get in the house. Do whatever you have to do to generate the feelings of having it now….”9 Far from harmless, this teaching results in disastrous consequences. Sin not only affects the thoughts that people have, it affects their feelings as well. As a result, many in society feel good when they do wrong. Consider the pedophile who never feels more satisfaction with life than when he is sexually violating innocent children. Should he be encouraged to visualize and “test‐drive” the things that make him feel good? Absolutely not!

The Secret is Unbiblical. The Secret teaches that everything is God and God is everything (pantheism). Writes Byrne, “If everything is the One Universal Mind, and the whole of it exists everywhere, then it is all in You!”10 Byrne goes on to say, “You are God in a physical body….You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet.”11 In sharp contrast to the The Secret’s pantheism, the Bible teaches that God, who alone created the universe out of nothing, transcends creation while being immediately present to every part of creation (Genesis 1). Moreover, the Bible teaches that though we are all made in the image of God, Jesus the Messiah is the only true Incarnation of God (John 1, Colossians 1).

Furthermore, The Secret teaches that by thinking positive thoughts we attract the things that we want. It promises, “If you can think about what you want in your mind, and make that your dominant thought, you will bring it into your life.”12 The Bible, however, teaches that when we are transformed by the renewing of our minds through faith in Jesus Christ, we develop an eternal perspective in all aspects of our life and are able to discern God’s will, being content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. As James reminds us, life is fleeting—“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 3:14). We must therefore learn to imitate the apostle Paul, who wrote: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12–13, emphasis added).

The dark side of The Secret’s law of attraction is that those who experience hardship and tragedy brought suffering upon themselves through negative, “low‐frequency” thoughts: “Nothing can come into your existence unless you summon it through persistent thought.”13 Conversely, the Bible teaches that suffering may well be redemptive and is not always the result of personal sin and failure (see, e.g., John 9:3). As the apostle Paul explained, those who place their trust in Jesus Christ can “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).

Because The Secret is unverifiable, unethical, and unbiblical, no one should be fooled by the false promises it offers. The secret to abundant living is not placing faith in our own ability to conjure up all that we desire, but rather learning to live with eternity at the forefront of our minds, storing up “treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20). In the end, that which corresponds to reality resides not in The Secret but in the Savior.

—Hank Hanegraaff

NOTES

  1. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, et al. New York: Atria Books/Beyond Words Publishing, 2006. Based on The Secret DVD by TS Production LLC, 2006. This column is a revised version of the tract “What is the Secret?” previously published by the American Tract Society, www.ATStracts.org.
  2. For a thorough refutation of Word of Faith theology, see Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1997).
  3. Mike Dooley in The Secret, 9.
  4. The authors even go as far as to liken the Law of Attraction to the law of gravity (see, e.g., pp. 27, 36).
  5. Lisa Nichols in The Secret, 22.
  6. Joe Vitale in ibid., 62.
  7. Joe Vitale in an interview with Larry King on Larry King Live, CNN (March 8, 2007).
  8. The Secret, 32.
  9. Bob Doyle in ibid., 54.
  10. Ibid., 161.
  11. Ibid., 164.
  12. Ibid., 9.
  13. Ibid., 28.
Apologetics

Father Themi’s Damascus Road Experience: From Neo-Marxism to Hinduism to Christ

Father Themi-I Needed The Metaphysical

Father Themistoclese Athony Adamopoulo, “Father Themi,” is a Greek Orthodox priest. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Australia, but was looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. At one point he was a neo-Marxist, at another stage a rock star, (founding member of the 1960s Australian rock-n-roll band The Flies), on another level an academic with a PhD from Brown University and a Master of Theology from Princeton Divinity School, but then he had a radical encounter with God. He had a Damascus road experience, and as a result of that he has given up everything to serve the poor.

Hank Hanegraaff invited Father Themi to be a guest on the March 14, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast. The following are some highlights of their conversation.

Hank Hanegraaff: Today over twenty thousand people die of hunger each and every day. Half the world’s population lives on under $2 a day. This is an issue that we need to be conversant with because we are called to give the cup of cold water, the piece of bread, in the name of Jesus Christ so that we can bring the life of Jesus Christ to the poor and the downtrodden. Father Themi has moved to Sierra Leone, one of the poorest places on earth and there he is making a difference for time and for eternity. I am delighted Father Themi to have you on the broadcast today.

Father Themi Adamopulo: Hello, I’m absolutely honored to be here and to be with you. I heard so much about you. It’s an absolute honor to be with you. Thank you for your very kind invitation.

Hank: Again, delighted to have you on the broadcast. Talk a little bit about your background. You were born in Northern Africa, in Egypt, and born into a Greek Orthodox family?

Father Themi: Well, nominally, I was Orthodox Christian, baptized in Alexandria, which is one of the historical—those who know in church history will understand what I mean when I say that it is one of the great early Christian centers. But it meant nothing to me. I was not a believer. Most of my infancy and early childhood and moving onto my teenage years, having moved over to Australia, a secular society, I had no faith at all. I did not believe in God. In fact, during my university days, I was a convinced neo-Marxist, as opposed to classical Marxism, and Neo-Marxism being the assimilation and the fusion between classical Marxism, Freudianism, Marcusenism, and all kinds of isms to make classical Marxism more applicable to today’s historical events, such as the Chinese Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and so forth. So, I believed in that in my university student days. We looked upon Marxism as the solution to the great injustices that were going on at the time—the issue of poverty, the issue of get now more, the issue of women’s rights, even the environment—all these issues were there, and it seemed to me that Marxism had the answer.

God for a Marxist is the antithesis of progress. The whole concept of a supernatural world, the whole concept of a metaphysical world, is very much opposed to the strict letter of law of Marxism. It is the opiate of the people. Christianity according to Marx is the means by which the capitalist class will as it were employ to subdue the working class and to let them believe in some mythical concept that after death they will achieve eternal life. That, therefore, becomes the tool of the capitalist to oppress the worker with the consolation that “Well you are going to the afterlife world, I will not, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy this all here, and you will have to suffer.” So that’s basically in a nutshell Marxism.

So, we were all quite happy until something happened. What happened was that we were following our gurus of the period. The avatars were the Beatles—particularly John Lennon, who we saw as being the intellectual Beatle, George Harrison the spiritual Beatle—Bob Dylan, of course, and some of the other spokesmen of the period. They were the acceptable voice of the youth of the 60s and 70s—the early 70s. One day the Beatles said that were going to India to seek metaphysical enlightenment, and we all thought wait a minute, they’re betraying the revolution. They’re going counter to everything that dialectical materialism—the idea that the revolution will only occur through the struggle of the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, the capitalist class. What’s this about going to India to seek enlightenment? We don’t understand that? I mean that was just, as you Americans would say, “left field,” is that? It was absolutely “left field.” We were amazed because it was John Lennon who said it, and because it was George Harrison who said it, well maybe we need to look into this, right? So begins a kind of a revision of Marxism among the student population now, and a possibility, a very important possibility, that maybe the answer is not just dialectical materialism, historical materialism, but it could be that there is something supernatural going on. Now that was an amazing admission to make because we were very logical, very empirical, very rational, we were the product of five hundred years of the age of reason, the age of enlightenment, we thought we have gone beyond the age of God, we had gone way past Christianity, at which we saw according to Nietzsche, I’m sure you read him, the uberman [Übermensch], the superman, the self-fulfilled man does not rely on any other external being but relies on himself and his own will to achieve that which is his to achieve, we believed all that. We read all that.

Now we’re told by Mr. Lennon and Mr. Harrison that perhaps we should seek beyond metarealism into the world of the metaphysical. My goodness that contradicted Bertrand Russell that was an extraordinary contradiction, but it was John Lennon, and so we needed to investigate further. So that’s what I did. I went into ashrams, I went into Hare Krishna temples, I went into guru led classes, we even had American Richard Alpert come from the United States, called himself Dam Rass [Ram Dass], or something like that, a great man, a great man. We listened to all this and we came to the conclusion, some of us, that Marxism wasn’t enough that there was something beyond the material, and there was something transcendent from pure material history, the economic factor of history, which is pure Marxism.

To make a long story short, once I went to one of the ashrams, this is in Australia, and the guru who claimed to represent no less than a fourteen year old child who is god, that fourteen year old Indian child, young man, was claimed to be god. We were curious to find out more about him so I went in there and the guru comes around and taps us on the forehead—receiving knowledge, receive knowledge, receive wisdom, receive. He came to me, at the time, we were all squatting in the traditional lotus position, etc. and I think I was wearing my Che Guevara hat and my Led Zeppelin cross something, and he asked me—oh Black Sabbath, sorry they used to wear crosses, so I wore a cross, Black Sabbath wore a cross—so he asked me to remove the cross, and I thought “What?” He said, “You have to remove the cross.” I said to myself I was not a Christian right, and I thought “How curious that this wise man, how curious that this devote of the avatar would be confounded by a fashion statement?” That’s all it was for me., just a fashion statement, you know. And he said, “Well, you must remove it.” I said, “You know what, I’m not going to remove it.” I actually contradicted and stood up and said, “I’m not going to remove it,” not because of anything of a faith which I did not have, but it was something inside of me telling me this cross is disturbing him. This cross has something that is to be investigated. So I left. I did not go on with the meditation and the road to wisdom according to their principles, you see. Having left I began to ponder on this issue of Christianity.

I think God was gracious enough to—what I am about to tell you now may sound strange and inconceivable, and illogical, which it is, in many ways. It is that. I needed that. I needed the illogicability of the metaphysical. I needed the inconceivable of the metaphysical. I needed that contradiction of the material life of the material reality for me to be able to release myself and to be able to accept the existence of God—so the Lord was merciful to me, and He gave me what can be described at least from my tradition, the Orthodox Church tradition and the monastic tradition, as a mystical experience.

Now I’m the last man in the world that should be getting mystical experiences, you know, trained in universities steeped in the empirical world, steep in the world of reason, steep in Greek philosophy, Aristotle, steep in everything that contradicts the metaphysical from childhood, and yet there it was. It was inexplicable, it was confrontational, it was radical, it was compelling, it was nonnegotiable, and I accepted it as my Damascus road experience. That was it, I accepted Christ. Nobody led me to Christ. There was no evangelical preacher who came to me. There was no priest who came to me. There was nobody who came to me with the Bible and said, “You must accept Jesus,” this came on its own without my wanting it to occur and it happened. From that, and there was a series of mystical experiences, I believed in Jesus. I believed in the existence of God. There was no doubting it anymore. I saw it. I saw it.

Unfortunately, in my case, it is because of my lack of faith that it had to happen that way. It doesn’t have to happen that way. It can happen in many ways, you know, but because of my being immersed in the world of reason, the world of logic, the world of rationality, there was no other way to jolt me out. God knows. God knows. That was the only way that I would have walked into the life of Christ. There was no other way. In His wisdom, that’s how He chose to bring me. That’s it, I never looked back ever since. That happened when I was twenty-two-twenty-three, and it saved me from so much blindness, walking in the wrong way, sin, and temptation, you name it.

Apologetics

Islamic Culture’s Denigration of Women

Islam, women Christ

Robert Spencer director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) as well as The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran was guest on the March 2, 2016 edition of the Bible Answer Man broadcast. Robert was asked a variety of questions related to the topic of Islam. The following are some highlights from the discussion.

Hank Hanegraaff: I want to ask you about Islam and women because there seems to be a cognitive dissonance in society, particularly Western society, when it comes to, on the one hand, being very, very attuned to the rights of women, the equality of women, and yet in Islam, which today is being touted in a politically correct way, there are not the same kind of rights for women in Islam that there are for women in Christianity or Western Civilization at large.

Robert Spencer: No, they’re certainly aren’t, Hank and it’s very clear, Islam allows for polygamy, which devalues and dehumanizes women, commodifies them. Islam allows for easy divorce for men, all a man has to say to a woman to divorce her is you are divorced—talaq—and that’s it. If he says it three times it’s irrevocable and the woman has to actually go and be married by somebody else and divorced by him before she can go back to her husband. This rule is in the Qur’an and made there because it’s so easy to divorce a woman in Islam that it’s often done by men in a fit of anger and then they make up, he rescinds it the next day, but if he does that three times, then they can’t be remarried, until she remarries and divorces somebody else. It’s an absurd rule. It’s in the Qur’an. Also, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. Above all, I’m sorry not above all first, but first the inheritance is less for a daughter than for a son. And above all, there is wife beating. If a man fears disobedience, not even that the woman is disobedient but he fears disobedience from her, then he is to give her warnings, send her to a separate bed, and then third beat her. Now, spousal abuse, of course, is something that is found everywhere among all cultures and all countries, but only in Islam is it given divine sanctions, such that in Islamic courts, Sharia courts, if a woman comes in and says, my husband’s beating me, they’ll say, well you need to work harder to please him. They’re not going to say, you have any human rights to avoid this beating.

Hank: Reading USA Today this morning, there’s an article titled, “Shedding Light on Honor Killings,” and this has to do with four years ago an online wedding video that went viral cost three brothers their lives. The video shows the brothers dancing and women clapping at a wedding party in Northern Pakistan, and a council of elders issued a death sentence against the pair as well as four women and a twelve-year-old girl. Their crime? Well, it was beginning to be a dishonor on the families by violating a strict local code against men and women mingling. Talk about honor killing and how pandemic that is within Islam.

Robert: Honor killing is an extraordinary phenomenon that is rooted in Islamic teachings. The idea is that this is particularly something that victimizes young women. If they are considered to have committed an act of immorality, which could include being raped because in the Islamic scheme of things if a young woman is raped, it’s her fault. This is the understanding behind the veiling of women. Men are considered to be unable to control their temptations and so if a woman wants to make sure not to be raped then she has to veil and cover herself up and if she is attacked, sexually assaulted, then it’s her fault, and her responsibility. The honor of the family can then be cleansed by killing her, and this happens all too often. As a matter of fact, there are many countries in the Islamic world, where there are lesser penalties for honor killings. If a person commits murder, then he’s punished for murder. But, if he can establish that he did it because of honor, to cleanse the family’s honor, then he gets a reduced sentence, and sometimes no sentence at all. This comes directly from the idea that is enshrined in Islamic law that there is absolutely no penalty for a parent who kills a child.

Hank: What about the women that say that the burka, the veiling, an act of liberation for them?

Robert: Well, this is part of the deceptive campaign that Islamic supremacists have undertaken in the West to fool people into thinking that all these things are benign, to make them more acceptable to the West, as well as to make converts. The thing about it is that the veil might be somebody’s individual choice, there’re so many individuals in the world, that I’m sure there are many women who decided to veil, but the fact is that there is a long history of women who have been brutalized, victimized, even killed for not wanting to wear the veil. It is very much something that is a tool of violent intimidation and women find themselves brutalized on the basis of this threat of what will happen to them if they don’t wear it. So, when I hear women saying this is my free choice, I think well that’s wonderful but what about all the women who try to exercise their free choice in the other direction and are no longer with us? Even in the Western world Aqsa Parvez was a teenage girl in Mississauga, Ontario Canada. 2007 or 2008 she was murdered by her father and brother for refusing to wear the head scarf. There were two girls in the Dallas area who were killed by their father for adopting Western values and having non-Muslim boyfriends. This kind of thing happens far more than people realize in the West and certainly it is ramped in the Islamic world. A child’s life—a girl child in particular—is considered to be forfeit, if she besmirches the family honor in some way, and this is completely acceptable under Islamic law.

To request your copies of Robert Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) and The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran, click here.

(Interview taken from the March 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.)

Apologetics

Are There Limits to Religious Free Exercise?

Beckwith, Francis-Religious Free Exercise

This article first appeared in the Viewpoint column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 28, number 5 (2005). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to:  http://www.equip.org. The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here.

Religious freedom is one of the fundamental liberties in American constitutional jurisprudence. It was placed first in the text of the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights (1790): “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This indicates that the religion clauses were solely intended to limit the law‐making power of Congress and not any other branch of the state or federal governments. Beginning in the early‐twentieth century, however, the Supreme Court began applying the First Amendment in a piecemeal fashion to all governments in the United States through the Fourteenth Amendment (1868). They did so by means of an interpretative technique called incorporation: because the Fourteenth Amendment refers to “liberty” that a state government should not abridge without due process of law, and because a state citizen is also a U.S. citizen, the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the liberties found in the Bill of Rights, including religious liberty.

Current Jurisprudence and the Limits of Religious Liberty. Are there limits to this liberty? Should fundamentalist Mormons receive the state’s official approval for their polygamous unions? Ought the government allow Muslim citizens to operate under Sharia law, or Christian theonomists under “biblical law”? Should these groups be allowed to operate contrary to, or independent of, the law of the land?

It is important to recognize that some laws in fact include exemptions. For example, soon after the Supreme Court denied the right of Native American religionists in Oregon to be exempted from the state’s narcotics laws that prohibited the smoking of peyote (Employment Division v. Smith [1990]), the state legislature changed its drug laws to include a religious exemption. In addition, the Supreme Court has allowed religious exemptions to generally applicable laws. For example, in the case of Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), the Court, employing the free exercise clause, carved out an exemption to the state’s mandatory school attendance law and allowed Amish students to opt out after eighth grade. The Court reasoned that since the Amish community has a stellar record of rearing its children, the state had to prove that it had a compelling interest in abridging the free exercise rights of Amish parents. The Court concluded that Wisconsin failed to meet this burden.

In Yoder, the burden was on the state to provide really good reasons for not allowing the Amish to educate their children consistent with their own religious tradition. In Smith, the Court shifted the burden from the state to the person who was suing the state. So, all the state had to show in Smith was that its law is generally applicable (i.e., it applies to all citizens similarly situated) and neutral (i.e., it does not single out or target a specific religious practice). The fact that the law impeded a group’s religious liberty was an incidental result of the law, and thus the law could not be declared unconstitutional simply for that reason.

So, under the Court’s current understanding of religious free exercise, as long as a law is generally applicable and neutral, all the state needs is a rational basis (i.e., any remotely plausible reason) for a law that forbids or limits the practices of religious polygamists, theonomists, Muslims committed to Sharia, and others.

Free Exercise as a Dead Letter. The problem with this understanding is that it seems to make the free exercise clause a dead letter. That is, with the exception of a blatant case of the government targeting a religion, a jurist can never effectively employ the free exercise clause to overturn generally applicable laws that are neutral but nevertheless limit or totally inhibit a citizen’s religious free exercise. Many citizens think that the government ought not permit polygamists, theonomists, or Muslims to have their own legal system that is parallel to, and not under the authority of, U.S. or state law; but they also think that the government should have a greater burden in justifying its laws if those laws encumber one’s religious free exercise.

Take, for example, Catholic Charities v. State of California Department of Managed Health Care (2004). Under California’s Women’s Contraception Equity Act, all employers in the state who offer their employees coverage for prescription drugs must also provide coverage for contraceptives. Catholic Charities (CC) did not want to provide contraceptive coverage as part of its prescription drug coverage because Catholic moral theology forbids the use of artificial contraception. Even though the law allowed for “religious exemptions,” the exemptions were defined in such a way that they did not protect organizations like CC. These groups are religious in their origin, affiliation, and mission, but fall outside the scope of these exemptions because they employ and provide care for many outside their faith and do not engage in evangelism or preaching. When before the California Supreme Court, CC argued, among other things, that these exemptions were written in such a way that CC’s free exercise rights were violated because it defined for CC and similar groups what counted as state‐defined religious practice. Appealing to Smith, the Court rejected CC’s case and ruled that the organization had to provide its employees with “benefits” that are used for purposes that CC’s moral theology teaches are sinful.

The sole dissenter was Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who offered this blistering analysis:

Here we are dealing with an intentional, purposeful intrusion into a religious organization’s expression of its religious tenets and sense of mission. The government is not accidentally or incidentally interfering with religious practice; it is doing so willfully by making a judgment about what is or is not religious. This is precisely the sort of behavior that has been condemned in every other context. The conduct is hardly less offensive because it is codified….This is such a crabbed and constricted view of religion that it would define the ministry of Jesus Christ as a secular activity.

Here’s the problem: how do we protect the religious liberty of groups like Catholic Charities while allowing the government to pass apparently good laws that do restrict the religious practices of others? I believe that the answer lies in the American Founders’ understanding of religious free exercise.

The Founders, Free Exercise, and Its Limits. America’s founders were wise enough to understand that religious freedom could not be limitless. They also understood that this precious liberty should not be restricted unless the state could provide good reasons why these restrictions are justified. This is why the wording of free exercise provisions in state constitutions at the time of the founding of America typically allowed for the limitation of religious liberty if the prohibited actions would interfere with some aspect of the community’s good. New York State’s Constitution (1777) is typical in this regard: “The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever hereafter be allowed, with this State, to all mankind: Provided, That the liberty of conscience, hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this State.”

The reasoning is similar to what the Supreme Court employed in 1878 when it rejected the argument of Mormons that the free exercise clause protected their religious practice of plural marriage. In 1862, the U.S. Congress had passed the first of several antipolygamy statutes for the purpose of stopping the growing population of practicing Mormon polygamists in Utah. Because Utah was a U.S. territory at the time, the federal government had jurisdiction over Utah, and thus the First Amendment of the federal constitution could be applied to the antipolygamy statutes. (Today, because of incorporation, it would not matter whether it was a state or federal statute.)

In Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Court rejected the Mormons’ free exercise argument on the grounds that even though “Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion,…[it] was left free to reach actions [such as polygamy] which were in violation of social duties or subversive to the public good.” What the Court meant by this is that certain institutions and ways of life, such as marriage and the family, are essential to the preservation of civil society. The government may craft its laws in such a way that certain practices receive a privileged position in our social fabric, and actions contrary to them should be prohibited or at least discouraged, even if they have religious sanction. Such practices as polygamy, same‐sex marriage, adult incest, and child sacrifice, therefore, may be forbidden even if they arise from a religious understanding of the world; for they are actions that are deleterious to the public good.

On the other hand, the public good is undermined when citizens are forced to choose between the law and their religious practices when those practices do not undermine, and may very well advance, the public good. For example, when the Supreme Court in Yoder gave a free exercise exemption to the Amish, the public good was advanced. When Catholic Charities was forced by the California Supreme Court to pay for its employees’ contraceptive use, however, CC was literally required to underwrite sexual practices that are overtly hostile to its own theological understanding, an understanding that is integral to a well‐established tradition in moral philosophy. This ruling runs counter to the public good.

The Courts should return to the reasoning of the founders. It is a reasoning that allows for the widest possible religious free exercise consistent with preserving and protecting the public good. This, of course, will not eliminate debates on controversial questions over which reasonable citizens disagree. What it will do is provide us with a conceptual framework that puts teeth back into the free exercise clause while reintroducing us to the language of natural law, one that places a premium on the government’s obligation to protect the intrinsic dignity of the person and advance the public good.

— Francis J. Beckwith

Francis J. Beckwith is associate professor of Church-State Studies, and associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, Baylor University.

Apologetics

Discerning Truth from Fiction about Violent Intolerant Islam and “Peaceful” Muslims

Spencer, Robert-Islam Intolerant to Jews Christian non Muslims

On the March 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast, Hank Hanegraaff interviewed Robert Spencer director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) as well as The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran. The following are some highlights from their discussion.

Hank Hanegraaff: It’s great to once again have this opportunity to speak to the nation, indeed to people from around the world about a crucial subject. We are in the midst of a clash of civilizations and someone who knows about this subject as anyone on the planet has joined me. His name is Robert Spencer. He’s the director of Jihad Watch, it is program the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is also the author of fourteen books, catch it, fourteen books on Islam and jihad. He’s led seminars on Islam and Jihad for the FBI and many other very significant groups. Robert Spencer is a man who is willing to stand for truth no matter what the cost. That’s precisely what you have been doing. You’re standing for truth no matter the cost. If you at what happened historically, you know better than just about anybody Robert, what has in history, you can go back to the seventh-century poetess who Muhammad himself murdered for a poetic slight, all the way to what happened with Theo van Gough the Dutch filmmaker murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri for artistically objecting to the subjugation of women. This is not child’s play.

Robert Spencer: No, it’s not. I know what’s at stake, but the thing is that—you know the signers of the Declaration of Independence, they said at the end of the document that to the great cause that they were delineating in the document, they were pledging their lives, fortunes, and their sacred honor, and I think that if we do not have people now who are willing to defend the freedoms that we enjoy in Judeo-Christian Western Civilization, and that are derived ultimately from Judaism and Christianity, from the Old Testament and the New Testament, that if we are not. If we don’t have people willing to defend with their lives those things, then we will certainly lose them. So, it’s imperative to take a stand. It’s not as if any of us have immortality anyway, I am willing to dedicate my life to this because it has to be done, and needs to be done, and I’m in a  position to do it, so that’s really there’s to it.

Hank: You should be admired for what you’re doing. You know I mentioned at the open, Robert, the common refrain that’s reverberated throughout the West—Islam is not our enemy—those were precise words spoken by Hillary Clinton right after the Paris terrorist attacks. What do you make of those words?

Robert: Well, it depends on what one means by it. I mean she’s probably conflating Islam and Muslims as most people do, when actually there needs to be a distinction drawn between the two. Certainly Muslims believe in Islam, but how much any particular person of any religions believes in the religion in a real sense, or lives out the teachings of the religion? That varies widely and of course we know that there are many Christians who bear the name of Christian, would say they are Christians, but they don’t live in any Christian manner. There are many Christians who don’t even know what it would be to be living in a Christian manner because they don’t study the Scriptures. They’re not aware of the teachings of Jesus Christ, and yet they would still call themselves Christians. Then, of course, there are Christians who are very observant and devout, and knowledgeable. It’s a spectrum. It’s the same thing in Islam. So, Hillary Clinton is probably concerned that we say that all Muslims are not our enemy and that’s obviously true. All Muslims are not our enemy.

But is Islam our enemy? Well, Islam teaches, the Qur’an teaches that it is the responsibility of a leader to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Islamic law, and deny them basic rights as part of that subjugation.  So, is Islam the enemy of all non-Muslims? Well, the Qur’an would say yes. The Qur’an says Muhammad is the apostle of Allah and those who follow him are merciful to one another but ruthless to the unbeliever. That’s sounds to me as if Islam is at war with the unbelievers. When the Qur’an says to fight against even the people of the Book, which is the Qur’an’s designation primarily for Jews and Christians, and says they must fight against the people of the Book until the people of the Book pay the jizya, which is a special tax, with willing submission and feel themselves subdued, they’re saying that Muslims have to fight against Jews and Christians until they conquer them, and make them submit to Islamic hegemony, which would indicate here again that Islam is at war with non-Muslims. That doesn’t mean every Muslim is pursuing the war but we would be naïve and would be rejecting simple reality, if we would pretend that these teachings are not in the Qur’an and that Muslims are not taking them seriously. Unfortunately, many Muslims are.

Hank: That is, I think, a very charitable collegial answer. But, I want to ask you about Barack Obama, who said that “throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.” Now, he says that and he prefaces his remarks by saying that he’s “a student of history,” he says I know this.

Robert: It’s just not historically true. It’s become a very common historical myth., as a matter of fact. I cannot understand why Obama would repeat it. There’s just no basis for it. Most of the time, people who say that Islam has created societies that were beacons of tolerance and pluralism, they point to al-Andalus, Muslim Spain in the Middle Ages, and they say that Jews and Christians lived in Muslim Spain in peace and were able to practice their religion and they interacted frequently with the Muslims, and it was a wonderful proto-multiculturalist paradise. Now, unfortunately, anybody who looks into the reality of Muslim Spain, looks at contemporary documents—I’ve discussed this in another book that I wrote years ago called Onward Muslim Soldiers, and there’s a new book about it called The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise—the fact is that the Jews and Christians lived a very precarious existence in Muslim Spain. They were tolerated to be sure but only in so far as they accepted and observed the restrictions, humiliating and discriminatory regulations, that mandated their second class status. In so far as they obeyed and abided by those restrictions then they were able to live in peace, but if they were to actually ask for equal rights, or to say that they ought to have equal rights, then that was out the window. So the idea that Islam has ever been tolerant in a real sense of non-Muslims is historically false. There actually is no Islamic society today, there’s no majority Muslim country today, and there has never been in history any majority Muslim country that ever granted full equal rights to Jews, Christians or other non-Muslims. That’s never been so in history that Jews Christians or other non-Muslims have ever enjoyed full equality of rights with Muslims in an Islamic society. It’s never happened and it’s not happening now.

Hank: We’ll be taking a few calls during the broadcast. In fact, we’ll go right to Christy in Saint Louis, Missouri. You’re on with Robert Spencer. Hi, Christy!

Christy: Hi, Hank. I feel like my question was somewhat answered just now. I work with several people who claim, you know, to be practicing Islam but they’re peaceful—peaceful Islam. You know, my question: Is that even considered true Islam? Wouldn’t that be the equivalent to a Christian saying, “I’m not concerned with winning souls, but I’m a Christian,” you know? So, I mean, peaceful Islam is there really even such a thing, or is that’s just something that, you know, they say?

Robert: Christy, the thing is this: The Qur’an and all the sects of Islam, and the example of Muhammad, they’re all unanimous. There is no form of Islam other than arguably the Ahmadiyyas, who are about 1.8% of Muslims worldwide and are persecuted as heretics in Pakistan because they are peaceful. There’s no other sect or school of Islamic law that doesn’t teach that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers.  It’s a universal teaching. It’s not like some tiny minority of extremists that devised this twisted version of Islam and all the rest of it is peaceful. That’s a media myth. It’s not the case. Now, that being said, what are your co-workers all about? Well, there’s no telling really. They could really believe that Islam is peaceful and that they should be peaceful people as Muslims, because they might not know, or they could be deceiving you and others because the Qur’an allows for deception of unbelievers, if one considers oneself to be under pressure. So, there’s really no way to tell. They could know better and be lying because that’s allowed, or they could simply not know better and think that this is really the real thing.

Complicating this is the fact that if you’re Muslim you have to pray in Arabic. You have read the Qur’an in Arabic. Most Muslims today are not native Arabic speakers. The largest Islamic country is Indonesia. That’s not an Arab country. The second largest Muslim population in the world is India, not an Arab country. The fact is that when Muslims today are not Arabs, they still have to pray in Arabic, so they are just most of the time reciting syllables that they do not understand the meaning of when they are praying and reading the Qur’an. So, it’s entirely possible that your co-workers don’t even know the teachings of Islam and still consider themselves to be devout and observant because they pray their prayers five times a day without necessarily knowing what they mean. It sounds absurd, but it’s a fact. I was speaking with a Pakistani Muslim a few years ago, and he says to me in all seriousness—when I tell the story people think it’s a joke—but he was quite serious, he said I’m very proud of my religion, and I’ve memorized almost all the Qur’an, and one day I’m going to get one of those translations and find out what it means.

To request your copies of Robert Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) and The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran, click here.

(Interview taken from the March 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.)

Apologetics

Generational Curses: Are Children Punished for the Sins of their Parents?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Gen Curses_Consequences Sin3

This is in regard to generational curses. Jeremiah 31:30 tells us, “But everyone shall die for his own iniquity.”1 In the next chapter, verse 18, the prophet prays to God and says, “You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them.” How to resolve this?

The principle of Scripture is very clearly stated in Ezekiel 18, which actually references Jeremiah 31:29.2 There are consequences for the sins of the fathers that follow for generations, and you can imagine that. The consequences of sin follow inextricably like night follows day, but every man and every woman is responsible for their own sin. This is made explicit by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel. In fact, the Word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel, and the Word of God is

What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge”? “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:2-4).

So, it’s not the father eating a sour grape and then the son’s teeth being set on edge. No. If the father eats a sour grape it will be his teeth that are set on edge. What is the point here? The Lord through the prophet Ezekiel is saying, you are misinterpreting my word. In other words, you are misreading Jeremiah 31.

Here in lies a greater principle. We need to take narrative passages of Scripture and allow them to be interpreted through the didactic or what’s known as the teaching. Didactic means teaching passages of Scripture. They explain those passages for us.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Are Generational Curses Biblical? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Territorial Spirits and Spiritual Warfare (Eric Villanueva)

Notes:

  1. All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), unless noted.
  2. “In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ ”

(This EquipBlog adapted from “Are generational curses biblical?”)

Apologetics

Islam, Political Correctness, and Death to Infidels

Hanegraaff, Hank-Robert Spencer_Islam, Political Correctness2

On the March 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast, Hank Hanegraaff interviewed Robert Spencer director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) as well as The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran. The following are some highlights from their discussion.

Hank Hanegraaff: I should note that Islam is the only religious system in the history of the human race with a socio-political structure of law that mandates violence against the infidel, and that graphic, global reality makes Islam a religious ideology espousing terrorism as a permanent policy not just a temporary expedient. Such is the historical reality from the seventh century Median massacres to the twenty-first century Manhattan massacre and so much more. Thus the portrait of millions of peaceful and tolerant Muslims must not obscure the very real depiction of Islam as a violent and intolerant religion. The current narrative is that to “tell it like it is” is tantamount to radicalizing Muslims and, therefore, exacerbating hostilities that might will otherwise lie dormant. As such, a common refrain reverberates throughout the West, “Islam is not our enemy.” In fact, those were precisely the words that Hillary Clinton used in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks just last November. Barack Obama went even further. He noted that in concert with Muslims worldwide, he shares common principles, principles of justice, progress, tolerance, and dignity of all human beings. Not only that, but according to Obama, throughout history Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

Joining me on the broadcast today to discuss all this and more is Robert Spencer. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) as well as The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran. Robert is the director of Jihad Watch. He is also the author of fourteen books on Islam. He has led seminars on Islam for the FBI, for the Joint Terrorism Task Force, for the United States Central Command and other intelligence and military groups, and I am just delighted to have you on the broadcast.

Robert Spencer: Thanks so much Hank great to be here.

Hank: I just heard today that you have been banned from Britain, whatever for?

Robert: I was banned from Britain for the crime of saying that Islam is a religion that has a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates warfare against unbelievers. In other words, I was banned from Britain for telling an obvious truth that the British government would rather not be told.

Hank: How do you fight the current narrative?

Robert: I just tell the truth, Hank. It’s very easy the job that I have. I sometimes think it must be very hard for the people who oppose me because they’re constantly having to devise ways to lie and spin the narrative whereas all I have to do is say what’s happening. What I do is when things happen like the various jihad terror attacks or the Islamic State doing various things that it has become notorious for doing, what I do is show at Jihad Watch, my web site or in my various books, that these things are all based upon various teachings of the Qur’an and Islam. Quoting the Qur’an, quoting the teachings of Muhammad and so on, you know I didn’t make up the quotes, and so it’s very easy to simply set it all out and then people can make the judgments that they’re going to make. But, in any case, I find it mystifying actually to tell you the truth that people think that what I do is hateful or bigoted, or something or other, because I’m usually just quoting their material. If there’s any hatred and bigotry, it’s in the Islamic sources.

Hank: The word that’s appended to you and many others like you who would speak the truth about Islam is that you are Islamophobic.

Robert: Yes. You know, Hank, if you think about it, that’s never a word we heard when we were young men; certainly, never a word that I heard all through my childhood, high school, college. It’s a new coinage. The idea of it is to intimidate people into that there’s something wrong with resisting jihad terrorism. It’s really an insidious coinage because of that. It makes people think that when jihad terror attacks happen, that there’s something going on with non-Muslims, that it must be our fault in some way. So, nobody every challenges the Jihadis to deal with the problems within—nobody every challenges the Muslims community that is in the larger sense to deal with the problems within the Qur’an and Sunnah, with the material in the Islamic texts and teachings, that Jihadis use to justify violence and to make recruits among peaceful Muslims.

Hank: A senior member of al-Qaeda called on you to convert. Is it convert or else?

Robert: Oh, yes! Oh yes! Well, see Muhammad the prophet of Islam taught that when you meet unbelievers you fist invite them to accept Islam. If they refuse that, then you invite them to submit to the hegemony of the Muslims, which would mean that you accept various humiliating discriminatory regulations in return for a so-called covenant of protection. If you refuse both of those then the Muslims will have to fight you. So, the idea is conversion or subjugation or war. Adam Gadahn, who was a convert to Islam from California, made a video. He came to be high up in al-Qaeda, he was killed later in an American airstrike, but he made a video that was introduced by Ayman al-Zawahiri—who is of course now the head of al-Qaeda but was then the number two man—and in that video Gadahn invited me by name to convert to Islam. I was pleased that he noticed my work, but of course I had declined. Now, the difficulty there is what that means is that he now is saying that Muslims can legitimately kill me because I’ve been invited to accept Islam, I’ve refused, and so now my life has been forfeited.

Hank: What do you make, Robert, of the boycott by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for your refusal to adhere to their dogma of Islam as a religion of peace?

Robert: Well, you know it’s kind of dispiriting, in a sense, Hank. The church is above all people—Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox—they should be aware of the history of the relations between Christianity and Islam. They should be aware of that fact that Islamic doctrine that mandated jihad against Christians in the Middle Ages, and really from the seventh-century, the very beginning of Islam, these teachings have not changed, they’ve not been reformed, they’ve not been rejected, they’ve certainty not been forgotten. Now with Islam resurgent all around the world, and Christians persecuted, they have a responsibility to educate their people about the nature of Islam, about the challenges that the West faces, and that the free world faces, and that Christianity in general faces from the Jihadis. Instead, they are systematically silencing voices that speak out about this, and working to make sure that the truth about Islam and jihad does not reach their people. For example, I was speaking at a Lutheran conference last summer in Dallas. I was the keynote speaker, speaking about Muslim persecution of Christians and why is it happening, what it is based upon in Islamic teachings, and so on. I was told once I got there that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops actually, they usually send a representative every year to this Lutheran conference, but this year they found out I was the keynote speaker, they pulled out. I think, you know, what terrible crime am I exactly guilty of? Well, I’m guilty of pointing out that the Qur’an and the example of Muhammad actually do contain things that the Jihadis use to incite violence, and that is so unpopular nowadays, such an unwelcomed thing that they would rather I be silenced, boycotted , etc.

To request your copies of Robert Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Gide to Islam (And the Crusades) and The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran, click here.

(Interview taken from the March 1, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.)