by Bill Lockwood
Julia Ioffe, writing in Foreignpolicy.com, makes a classic mistake in an article entitled “If Islam is a Religion of Violence, So Is Christianity” (6-14-2016). Apparently miffed that the general populace draws such conclusions as that “Islam is bad and Christianity is good” in the wake of mass shootings in America, Ioffe says it is a “hateful hypocrisy” to “single out Islam.”
She overtly blares out “I am tired of hearing, from Bill Maher and from Donald Trump, that Islam is inherently violent. “I am even more tired of hearing that Christianity is inherently peaceful.”
And how does she demonstrate that Christianity can be a “religion of violence”, and that Islam can be peaceful? She slogs through history, recent and ancient, to show atrocities committed by those who claimed to follow Christ, such as the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. On the other hand, she gives illustrations of peace-loving Muslims. “Islam, as it was practiced in medieval Span, was beautiful and peaceful, too.”
Since Ioffe’s investigative method is flawed, she erroneously concludes, “No religion is inherently peaceful or violent, nor is it inherently other than what its followers make it out to be.”
What About These Things?
While it is true that observers of religious people judge and asses the religion itself by the examples that people live before them, this does not explain the religion itself, nor the formative teachings of that religion. This methodology is about as thin as seeking to determine the official Democratic Party platform by asking Democrats on the street what are their feelings about the issues of the day.
This is clumsiness, to say the least. Many atheists have used this same flawed principle in defending atheism. Many atheists live admirable lives, they tell us. No argument here—but their morality does not derive from their atheism. It is bootlegged straight out of Christianity.
Severed branches of trees have enough sap left to keep the leaves green for a while. So also, atheists have enough “moral sap” leftover to keep them moral–but neither humanism nor atheism provide in and of themselves any moral substance.
This illustration now sets us up to examine Ioffe’s assertions.
How should one assess a religious standard? How should one examine what that religion teaches? How can one determine what a religion “inherently is?” Ioffe condemns that Christianity can be violent. How so? She uses the illustration of Dylan Roof, who killed nine people in the middle of a Bible study in Charleston, S.C. but who declared allegiance to “the white supremacist cause” and “pointing to the Council of Conservative Citizens” which claims to “adhere to ‘Christian beliefs and values.’”
Christianity cannot be accurately assessed by examining people who did not live up to the standard set by Christ in the New Testament, regardless of the institutions to which they belong. The Lord Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, taught completely the opposite of what Roof practiced, including love your neighbor as yourself.
The same is true regarding the endless pointing to the Middle Age Roman Catholic Church and its atrocities, which Ioffe does in her article. She does this to point to bloodletting committed by Catholics in the “name of Christ.” She is not alone here—men such as Bill Maher do the same thing.
The American people need desperately to learn that the Roman Catholic Church is not a representative of Christ upon the earth, nor is it the church about which one reads on the pages of the New Testament, regardless of what the papacy asserts, and regardless of what name is invoked while perpetrating crime.
The Roman Catholic Church is the direct result of a brazen apostasy from the New Testament over the ages. Read the New Testament yourself and see that there is no pope, no papal infallibility, no Vatican State, no infant baptism, no baptism of desire, no baptism of blood, no rule of celibacy, no monasticism, no inherited sin, no immaculate conception, no bodily assumption of Mary, no praying to the saints, no rosary, no purgatory, no indulgences, no canonized saints, no veneration of saints, no sacraments, no lent, etc.
Official Roman Catechism’s and Encyclopedia’s admit that these doctrines “developed over the centuries.” The Roman Church through the ages simply adopted myriads of foreign doctrines, then wedded itself to a state apparatus and became a mixture of “church and state” which even sent armies into the field to shed blood on behalf of the Vatican!
Yet, this is what Ioffe uses to say that “Christianity” can be violent. It is interesting that journalists are supposed to go original sources. But not in this case. She wants us all to assess the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ by means of Rome. We are not so easily misled.
Here we come to something entirely different. Muslims as a group, behave in different ways, depending upon how many of them occupy a territory or nation. As percentages to population rises, so does violence. Why is this? Once again—go back to the original source, Ioffe. What do you find?
The one perfect Muslim was Mohammed. What did he do? How did he behave? Multiple verses in the Koran command the use of the sword (Surah 9:5; 9:73; 47:4, etc.). Islam, in its inception, waged war on all who did not accept Allah and Mohammed as his prophet. Mohammed was a war-lord of the Middle Ages style who led his followers in numerous battles. Violence is not an “apostasy” from a peace-loving Mohammed, but an imitation of him and his “inspired” commands from Allah.
When Mohammed died, not one person on the entire peninsula of Arabia disagreed with the man. This is not explained on the basis of freedom. His dying words were to carry on to “fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of truth (even if they are) the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (Surah 9:29).
Note the choices the founder of Islam gives to conquered peoples. One, Accept Islam. Two, pay the jizya (poll-tax on non-Muslims). This is the cornerstone of the entire system of humiliating regulations that institutionalize inferior status for non-Muslims in Islamic law. Three, prepare to war with Muslims.
Peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society, of which Ioffe writes, is not one of the choices.
Does any of this sound anything like what was taught by the Savior of the world? No, Julia Ioffe. The religions of the world are inherently what their founders actually taught, not what later followers may or may not do. It is interesting that Ms. Ioffe did not once reference Christ Himself or His teaching when cross-examining Him. Nor did she look to see what Mohammed actually taught. Both are easily referenced.
It is something for which we ought to be thankful that not all Muslims faithfully carry out Mohammed’s “inspired” orders. But this is only because they do not live down to the standard set by their founder. On the other hand, it is sad that many professed Christians do not live up to the standards set by the Lord Jesus Christ found on the pages of the New Testament.