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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

In Defense Of Monotheism
Date Posted: March 29, 2019

In continuing last week’s discussion as to whether violence is inherent in monotheism – or the belief in a single, supreme god – we must admit that a number of religious inspired actions, past and present, have been perverse and grotesque. The question being: Are they an unavoidable, natural outgrowth of religion that espouses a One True God? My answer being – No! Israel did and does still fight almost continuously to survive, being surrounded by political enemies plotting her demise and destruction. (Which is not to say everything the Israeli government says and does is absolutely right; but then again, we don’t know what it’s like to be in a fight for our very existence – not just for weeks, months or years, but for centuries. Their claim and the counter-claims of their adversaries as to who should rightfully possess the “Promised Land” being complex and evidently never-ending. But if we believe in scripture, the land of Canaan, Palestine, “The Promised Land,” is Israel’s to possess even if ownership has come at a price and has never been continuous.)

The Crusades, religious wars in Europe and particularly the Inquisition were crimson stains on the cloak of Christianity; but having said that, there were mitigating circumstances involved for at least one of these. The Crusades, at least in part, being a response to the Ottoman Turks’ advance across the Middle East into Eastern Europe. Land that had at least been nominally under the control of Greek Christians ruling from the second Roman capitol of Constantinople – and whole Christian nations in the Middle East, as well as the southern half of Spain, were being overrun and destroyed; their citizens carried off as slaves by the thousands and dispersed throughout the newly created Muslim Caliphates. Needless to say, much was at stake for Christian Europe. (Admittedly – the term Christian is used rather loosely here – embracing the ideals that were instrumental to the development of Western Thought across Europe and ultimately America.)

The question then becomes: Can the violence that occurred in the past be shown to be a part of the fabric of our faith? In answer, I’d like to assert that a biblical faith in Christ should never inspire a war-like spirit, even though Christians have fought against aggressors around the world; defending freedom and peace while promoting the democratic ideals that foster those universal building blocks of representative government. (And even as some claims to legitimacy for waging war can be debated, I do believe we have an obligation to defend Western Thought and principles; specifically because they are so grounded in Christian ideals and principles. However poorly practiced at times.) Paul pointing out that even though “…we live in the world, we do not wage war (usually) as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”; having divine power to demolish strongholds of demonic influence and misguided life-styles. The things we have every right to “defeat” being, “…arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, (taking) captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (See also Ephesians 6:12)

Muslims, on the other hand, cannot and do not hold to that kind of high-minded theology. (At least the radicalized believers among them.) The very word –Islam – signifying submission, not just of the individual believer but of conquered unbelievers as well. The ideology behind Jihad being to struggle; at its best encompassing the intellectual and moral struggles of the individual; more traditionally understood as militant overthrow of opponents inside and outside of Islam that characterizes the sweep of Islamic history. (Muhammad waging over 60 aggressive military campaigns in establishing his version of obedience to Allah. Its subsequent extension over the Middle East, the fringe of India, the Russian steppes, Eastern Europe and – through northern Africa – Spain and France; being brought about almost exclusively by violent conquest.

Again, the Crusades were a late development of Medieval Christianity, partly in response to the aggressive spread of Islam. They were limited and of relatively brief duration, while Islamic militarism has continued throughout the generations up to and including today; most Muslim countries having terrible human rights records – the force their governments can wield against their own people, let alone others, and the power their Imams exert over the common people’s lives being beyond what most people in the Western world can truly fathom. (The internecine fighting between the sects of Islam is likewise truly appalling, having been carried out practically since Islam’s beginning.) The supposed tolerance of Muslims for other “People of the Book” – Christians and Jews – disguising their disdain for nonbelievers or infidels and the servitude/slavery many are subjected to. (Despite a Quranic declaration against “compulsion in religion;” which again, some Muslims comply with. But compulsion nevertheless has been an integral part of Islam from its inception to the present times.) Those wishing to escape such treatment, including many moderate Muslims, often flee to the West to realize their hopes and dreams of religious freedom, political stability and economic opportunity.

Finally, the Messianic Kingdom’s chief scriptural characteristic is that of love and peace, even if through necessity it is expressed, sometimes, through discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11); one reason the Promised Land fell to the Israelites being their predecessor’s deep immorality and sin (Genesis 15:16); the Israeli’s likewise punished for falling prey to the same sin. (See Leviticus 18:28) Yahweh loving all people of his creation, establishing and using Israel as the means by which He would bring blessing and salvation to the world. (Genesis 12:3; Is. 9:1,2, 49:5,6 & 55:4,5; Ezekiel 36:22,23; Matthew 28:18; Luke 2:32; John 1:9)

Individual Christians, and the church at large, have at times fallen far short of their calling, but there have been innumerable examples of loving concern and compassionate action by her faithful practitioners as well; even for those who vehemently disagree with everything we are and stand for. Our Lord’s essence characterized as love. (See 1 John 4:16; 4:7,12 & 19-21)

All questions as to how we should respond to people – family, friends, neighbors and even enemies alike – answered by Jesus’ response to a legal expert of his day who asked Him to define the essence of Jewish Law; which coincidentally holds true for Christians as well. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…mind…and strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (In fact) All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 & Mark 12:28-31 (Combined here for clarity and emphasis)

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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