Tag Archives: False religion

False Religion: Protestantism

The Reformers

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

How do I broach this topic delicately and objectively without coming off as if I am way out there in far, far left field? After all, I claim that “I Am A Christian.” “I Am A Baptist,” so I can rightfully disclaim Protestantism. In my articles “True Religion” and “False Religion” I offer four common characteristics of false religion namely: (1) Rejection or denial of the God of the Bible, (2) Rejection or denial of the deity of Christ, (3) Rejection or denial of the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, and (4) Rejection or denial of salvation by means of Grace alone totally apart from any works of man.

The obvious question is: how does Protestantism fit any of these four characteristics? After all, Protestantism gave us the “Five Solae”: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Solius Chirstus, Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria. Furthermore, all Protestant denominations accept some form of the Apostle’s Creed which states:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

That pretty well establishes that Protestantism affirms the triune Godhead and the deity of Jesus Christ. However, there is nothing there affirming the Word of God, and although it affirms “the forgiveness of sins,” it does not specify how that happens. Well, alright, these are not specifically stated in the creed, but generally speaking, Protestantism holds “The belief in the Bible as the supreme source of authority for the church”[1] and “The belief that believers are justified, or pardoned for sin, solely on condition of faith on Christ rather than a combination of faith and good works.”[2]

So, all seems well. But is it? If we look only on the stated beliefs of Protestantism,[3] my charge is baseless. I concede that, at least for the conservative variants of these denominations, these charges are unjustifiable, so I need to narrow my allegation to “liberal” Protestantism, and not “throw out the baby with the bath water.”

Liberal Protestantism has fallen away into an apostasy that, while it professes its creedal beliefs, in practice it denies the authority of Scripture, emphasizes salvation though works (mainly through baptism), and “spiritualizes” and/or minimizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ thereby denying His deity.

The fall of Protestantism (and from here forward, I am referring to liberal Protestantism) into apostasy began around the 19th century AD with the rise of “higher criticism” of the Scriptures.

[Higher criticism] generally takes a secular approach asking questions regarding the origin and composition of the text [of Scripture]…The principles of higher criticism are based on reason rather than revelation (emphasis mine) and are also speculative by nature…The higher critical methods…grew out of a German [Lutheran] school of Biblical studies in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries…the origins of higher criticism are deeply intertwined with rationalism and naturalism (emphasis mine)…In later times, higher critical methods were deployed in conjunction with the contemporary philosophical trends to de-historicize Scripture (emphasis mine).[4]

Just a casual reading of the above statement leaves the impression that higher criticism elevates man’s reason above God’s Word, and this is the downfall of Protestantism. Strangely, in his autobiography, John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Bishop of Newark, Retired, talks about his love for the Bible from the time he received his first as a Christmas gift at the age of twelve. He recalls:

That Bible went on my bed stand and on that day a lifetime love affair with that book was first born in me. It has never yet departed. I began on that Christmas Day the habit of daily Bible reading. I have missed very few days from that one to this in which I did not spend some part of that day reading and studying the Scriptures. I suspect I have read the Bible through twenty-five time by now.[5]

Spong’s “love affair” with the Bible defies the normal understanding of that phrase. After becoming and ordained Episcopal priest he talks about holding Bible studies at his first church. Of his adult class he said:

A tradition of adult education had never been part of the life of this congregation. Their biblical knowledge was on a Sunday-school level. Christianity was, for the most of them, simply part of their culture and was exhibited by showing decency, good manners, and good citizenship.[6]

He describes his plan for “discipleship” as follows:

I would duck no issues, compromise no truth, and avoid no frontier to which my thought and study (emphasis mine) led me. I would resist no new insight out of some need to be defensive for God. I would adopt as my motto the words of my theology professor… “Any God who can be killed ought to be killed” (emphasis mine). I would allow every part of my faith system, its creeds, its Bible (emphasis mine), its sacred traditions, to be examined and questioned openly and honestly. If I discovered that any traditional belief could not stand the test of this challenge, I would abandon it publically. No protective barriers, no claim for inerrancy, infallibility, or divine revelation (emphasis mine) would be placed around any symbol of Christianity, including core doctrines like the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Resurrection (emphasis mine)…I would test in a parish church arena whether or not the total education a priest receives in the academy, including the questions it raises, can be made available to a congregation of pew sitters even if it reveals that the Christianity to which they are attached is not intellectually credible (emphasis mine)[7]

Besides Spong’s blatant arrogance, note how he elevates himself, his thoughts, and his intellect over and above Scripture so that he is willing to challenge the veracity of the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the Resurrection. Eventually, Spong abandons all those things to the point where he advocates for the ordination of the first homosexual Episcopal priest and later for female priests. What the Bible has to say on these matters becomes irrelevant, and the reason of man becomes supreme.

Spong is just a small sample, but he is indicative of what has happened to Protestantism. Granted, there has been a lot of pushback from conservative Protestant groups, which is commendable; but by and large, Protestantism has jettisoned the Word of God, and fallen into a great apostasy where theism has been replaced by humanism so that only the empty hulk of the Reformation remains. Protestantism has become, in the words of Jesus, “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

“Salvation” in these denominations is typically through baptism (usually as an infant) followed by some sort of catechism, confirmation and church membership. In other words, it is a “works-based” salvation. Although their confession affirms justification by Grace alone, through Faith alone, the definition of those terms degenerates into “works.” The shell is there, but the essence is gone.

Protestantism, the liberal kind, is a false religion. It gives lip service to God as a “figurehead” and elevates man above God in the form of humanism. It rejects the deity of Christ by questioning His bodily resurrection. It rejects the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, when it elevates man’s reason above the Word of God. It rejects the clear teachings of the Bible against such matters as homosexuality, or the ordination of female clergy, and it rejects the miracles of the Bible including creation and the resurrection of Christ. Finally, it teaches a works-based salvation.

 Notes:


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism (accessed August 18, 2014).

[2] Ibid.

[3] FYI: There are many “flavors” of Protestantism. Protestant Denominations include, but are not limited to: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal (Anglican), and perhaps some others. All of these, with the exception of Methodist, are direct breakaways from the Roman Catholic Church. The Anglican Church (the Church of England) broke away from the Roman Catholic Church so that Henry VIII could divorce Catherine, but it basically maintained Catholic practices. Methodists then broke away from the Anglican Church. Many Protestant Denominations maintain the liturgical form of the Roman Catholic Church without the Roman Catholic distinctive of the veneration of Saints.

[4] http://www.theopedia.com/Biblical_criticism (accessed August 19, 2014)

[5] John Shelby Spong, Here I Stand, (San Francisco, Harper Collins Publishers, 2000), 30.

[6] Ibid, 134.

[7] Ibid, 134-135.

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False Religion: Islam

Muslim Eyes

Image Credit: Aleksandar Mijatovic http://www.123rf.com/.

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6)

Hijab shrouded women are no longer an uncommon sight in the United States, especially in heavily populated urban areas like here in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. What is really surprising, at least to me, is the number of white American women who have “submitted” (the meaning of “Islam”) to wearing Muslim garb. What is it about this oppressive eastern religion that would attract “independent,” freedom-loving American women to subject themselves to such humiliation? I know; they probably don’t see it that way.

Ever since the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, there has been a lot of propaganda going around trying to convince us that the Muslim god and the Christian God are the same – we all worship the same God. I deal with this in some detail in my article “God Is Not Allah.” In recent articles dealing with false religions, I contend that false religions share some common characteristics: (1) They deny or reject the God of the Bible, (2) They deny or reject the deity of Christ, (3) They reject the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, and (4) they teach salvation through the works or efforts of the believer. Since I covered the first characteristic in “God Is Not Allah,” and for the sake of brevity, I will dispense with that discussion here. Instead, I will begin with the second characteristic.

Islam, which means “submission,” was founded around 610 A.D. when Muhammad supposedly received the first series of revelations of the Qur’an (Koran). Muhammad, the founder of Islam is of highly questionable character. His foster mother suspected that he received these revelations under satanic influence. “At twenty-five, Muhammad married a wealthy forty-year-old widow, Khadija, after she proposed to him. After Khadija died…Muhammad married a widow of a disciple and a six-year-old (who moved in with him when she was nine), Ayisha [his favorite]. His seventh wife was his ex-daughter-in-law; by the time of his death he had twelve wives and two concubines … Interestingly, Sura 4:3 limits the number of wives to four, and in Sura 4:31, marriage to one’s daughter-in-law was prohibited. But in Sura 33:36-40 Muhammad was conveniently given a new revelation from God that ordered Zaid, Muhammad’s adopted son, to divorce his wife so Muhammad could marry her by God’s command. This is called abrogation, to be discussed later”[1] (emphasis and insertion mine).[2] Muslims get very defensive when Muhammad’s character is called into question, although honest Muslims will concede the historical accuracy while at the same time justifying his actions.

Muslims reject the deity of Christ. To the Muslim, Jesus is just another one of Allah’s prophets (Sura 4:171). While Islam (and the Qur’an) concedes that Jesus was virgin-born, it rejects the notion that He was the Son of God or part of the Trinity (Sura 5:17; 5:116; 19:35).[3] “We are told that He was nothing but a slave on whom God showed favor (Sura 43:59); yet elsewhere we are told that the Messiah is not a slave (Sura 4:172).[4] While Jesus did not atone for anyone’s sins, according to Islam, He Himself was sinless (Sura 3:46). Interestingly, “Muhammad sinned and needed forgiveness (Sura 40:55),”[5] and yet he supersedes Jesus as Allah’s prophet. The Qur’an attributes miracles to Jesus (Sura 3:49; 5:110), but none to Muhammad. Islam is a false religion because it rejects the deity of Christ.

Islam rejects the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God. While it accepts the Bible as “a holy book,” and even encourages infidels to heed its words, Muslims charge that the Bible has been corrupted. “The Muslim may charge that Jews and Christians have mistranslated the Bible, but the Qur’an says that they only misinterpret and disbelieve it (Sura 3:70-71)”[6] For all of their claims against the Bible, it is really the Qur’an that should be called into question. “One of the prerogatives of the Qur’an is abrogation… This is taught in three separate places in the Qur’an. Sura 2:100/106 says, ‘And for whatever verse we abrogate or cast into oblivion, we bring one better or like it’; Sura 13:39 has, ‘Every term has a Book. God blots out, and he establishes whatsoever he will; and with him is the Mother of all Books’; and Sura 16:101 (A.J. Arberry’s translation) says, ‘And when we exchange a verse in the place of another verse—and God knows very well what He is sending down—they say, “Thou art a mere forger!” Nay, but the most of them have no knowledge. Say, “The Holy Spirit [in Islam the angel Gabriel is the Holy Spirit] sent it down from the Lord in truth, and to confirm those who believe, and to be a guidance and good tidings to those who surrender.’”[7] The obvious question is, “If Allah is ‘all-knowing,’ why can’t he get it right the first time?” Walter Martin presents six theological problems resulting from this inconsistency:

  1. The Qur’an cannot be trusted because it contains “divinely inspired” contradictions. If God has a history of abrogating his own revelation, the “eternal speech of God,” how can one be certain that he will not abrogate it again in the future?
  2. It may be argued that it cannot be abrogated again in the future, since Muhammad was “the last prophet.” But how do we know that God will not abrogate that and send us more prophets?
  3. If God can abrogate his eternal speech, how can we trust him with our eternal soul?
  4. If God has done any abrogating…it does not indicate progressive revelation, which is additive. It indicates a contradiction and annulment, which subtracts from revelation, since at least some portion of past revelation has been cancelled. This would mean that God either did not know how future contingent events would turn out, or that he did but purposefully changed his mind. So the God of Islam is either not All-knowing or is a liar…
  5. If God can abrogate past divine revelation, it seems to indicate intellectual weakness at the very least. It not only causes problems for omniscience, since he did not have sufficient foreknowledge to avoid the need for abrogation, but also for omnipotence (because if he did have sufficient foreknowledge he apparently did not have the power to carry out effective preventative measures), as well as other attributes.
  6. If the Muslim God is not consistent, then his creatures have no foundation for morality and ethics…If God is not invariant, then the moral/ethical system derived from him would necessarily be inconsistent, and we would essentially be on our own…If each person had their own moral standard, there could be no legal basis for a society of any kind. This would seem to conflict with the Muslim concept of sharia.[8]

Unlike the Qur’an, the Bible has no abrogation, and it can be shown to be wholly consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Indeed, Jesus proclaimed, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Such a statement allows no room for abrogation, but Islam rejects the Bible and prefers the Qur’an, which admits that it abrogates. That makes Islam a false religion.

Islam teaches salvation through the efforts of the individual. “Every Muslim who hopes to escape the judgment of Allah must fulfill the works of the Five Pillars of the Faith (Sura 10:109):”[9]

  1. Recitation of the Shahada (“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah”);
  2. Five daily prescribed prayers (Salat or Namaz) in Arabic. These prayers include genuflection and prostration in the direction of the holy city, Mecca;
  3. Almsgiving (Zakat), which involves the duty to give a certain percentage of one’s total income to help others. This is not considered charity but an obligation arising out of the realities of a world where there is poverty, inequality, injustice, and suffering. Generally, performing zakat is to be done privately, unless there is a pressing reason for the giving to be made known publicly.
  4. Fasting (Saum or Ruzeh) during the entire month of Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to fast from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset in atonement for their own sins over the previous year. Muslims are allowed to eat and drink after sunset and some get up before sunrise to eat before the fast begins again.
  5. A pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, the holy city, at least once in a Muslim’s lifetime. The hajj takes place after Ramadan.

~Jihad is sometimes referred to as a sixth pillar of Islam. Since September 11, 2001, there has been constant debate about the meaning of the term. Many Muslims and some secular experts on Islam, have tried to say that jihad only refers to personal spiritual struggle. Jihad can and often does mean one’s individual efforts to be righteous, but it is often used by Muslims both past and present to refer to actual military struggle or “holy war.” Saying that jihad is simply spiritual struggle ignores Islamic history and the actions of contemporary Muslims, including militants like Osama bin Laden, who use it to refer to acts of killing in the name of Allah.~[10]

The Qur’an, like the Bible, teaches that all men are sinners (Sura 16:61; Sura 42:5), and all men are weak (Sura 4:28). As shown above, even Muhammad sinned (Sura 40:55; Sura 47:19; Sura 48:1-2), but Jesus was sinless (Sura 3:45-46). No one escapes Allah’s judgment, and even the most faithful Muslim cannot have the assurance of eternal life. While the Qur’an and the Bible agree on man’s sinful and lost condition, only the Bible offers the “free gift” of salvation apart from action on the part of man. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is all the work of God and not at all on the part of man except for the act of receiving the free gift: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name…For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 1:12; 3:16). A works-based salvation makes Islam a false religion.

Islam is a false religion in that it rejects the triune nature of the God of the Bible, it rejects the deity of Christ, it rejects the Bible as inerrant and infallible, and it bases salvation on the efforts of the individual. The Qur’an, while it is not the word of God by any stretch of the imagination, does contain some particles of truth that, if used wisely, can be used as a witness to Mulims.


 

NOTES:

[1] Martin, Walter, The Kingdom of the Cults, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 440.

[2] FYI: Unlike the Bible, the Qur’an does not have “books,” rather it is divided into long “chapters” called Suras. Passages in the Qur’an are identified by the Sura number followed by the number of the verse or passage, e.g., Sura 4:3 would be the fourth Sura, the third verse.

[3] FYI: these passages from the Qur’an are NOT taken out of context, because the Qur’an has no “context” to speak of. It is a collection of disjointed sayings that rarely have anything to do with one another, which explains why it can so easily be abrogated.

[4] Martin, 447.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 448.

[7] Ibid, 445.

[8] Ibid, 445-446.

[9] Ibid, 447.

[10] Ibid, 447-448

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