Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Cincinnati Reds—Division Champs: One Christian Sports Fan’s Perspective

Before the beginning of the 2010 baseball season, I made a conscious decision:  I was going to be a Cincinnati Reds fan and would raise my boys to root for them as well.  Why?  Well, this has been coming on for years.

Growing up, I had moved all over the place, but due to my older brother I began rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In the mid ‘80s, I started pulling for the New York Mets because a lot of their players had played in the Mets AA affiliate in Lynchburg, VA (my hometown), so I identified with many of those players (Len Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, etc.).  When I moved to Kentucky, I began rooting for the Florida Marlins because of the ties there and I got to follow a lot of their players as well. 

But since 2003, I’ve lived in Lexington, Kentucky, about 70 miles south of Cincinnati.  Now that my boys are getting older, I want them to have what I didn’t have—a hometown team.  So I went to the local Dick’s Sporting Goods store and bought my kiddos some Reds garb—my boys got their hats hanging on their bedposts or usually on their heads.  My girls have their Reds T-shirts.  We were ready to go.

So we intentionally started keeping up with the games: either via ESPN GameCast or on their coverage on 700 WLW with Thom and Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley.  Soon, they grew excited about seeing the Reds on TV (since we don’t get ESPN or Fox Sports Ohio, we had to wait until they were on FOX Game of the Week or playing the Cubs on WGN America). 

But as the season began drawing to a close, an interesting thing happened: the Reds were winning their division over the St. Louis Cardinals.  Neither team played great down the stretch, but the Reds kept their distance.

Then last night it happened: Jay Bruce’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth clinched the National League Central for the Reds for the first time since 1995.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that time of sports-fan euphoria.  Our family has tickets to see the Reds play the Brewers at the beautiful Great American Ball Park in Cincy on Saturday, October 2nd.  Let’s just say, I’m glad that they clinched beforehand—I’ll be able to enjoy the game so much more, even though they may be resting a number of their players.

A Christian Perspective

One thing that has been circling in my mind for a number of weeks is this: should I be this wrapped up in a ball game?  John Thorn commented during Ken Burns’ new documentary on Baseball (“Tenth Inning”) that there is nothing inherently earth-shaking about a man being able to hit a ball a long ways.  In a sense, that is true.  But is there anything redeeming that one can learn from sports?  Yes.

    1. Herman Edwards was right.  During a press conference, Herman Edwards while coach of the New York Jets, ranted, “Hello!  You play to win the game.”  I know that in Little League, we are told that it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s how you play the game.  But isn’t the point to improve your skills (whatever they might be) to help your team win?  Shouldn’t Christians, whose life is viewed as a warfare, have the same God-glorifying ambition to win the race set before us (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-2).
    2. You cannot win it alone.  Joey Votto is an MVP Candidate.  He is an absolute beast.  Yet, there are 24 other players on the roster.  Votto cannot pitch, and he cannot play all nine positions at the same time.  Even the Christian church needs more than a pastor or deacons.  All of us as Christians are members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), each serving a particular purpose and function. 
    3. It shows our need to identify with something greater than ourselves.  Hats, jerseys, bumper stickers, flags—all of these items we wear, showing our allegiance to our favorite team.  We connect with the present and the past, the ups and downs, the good and the bad.  But the fact is, we identify with all that this team epitomizes.  We are on an infinitely greater level identified with Christ as Christians—and this allegiance is never superseded by any earthly allegiance.  We show our identity by the fruit we bear, not by Christian hats and T-shirts and bumper stickers and flags (John 15:1-11).  Sports is fine when kept in the realm of recreation—not addiction.  Recreational activities can turn into worship very, very easily. 

What think ye?

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Enemies, Yet Brothers

This is my favorite scene from the movie Gods and Generals (2002).  It takes place over Christmas 1862 during the American Civil War.  Enemies, yet they are brothers. 

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Diluting the Gospel

2But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Every Christian who truly lives out their faith (is there any other kind of Christian, really?) will have their character called into question. Mark Driscoll reflected on what the apostle Peter noted in that many times leaders and Christians will suffer not from doing what’s wrong, but from doing what’s right. The apostle Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

Paul’s character was under attack. He was under hard accusations—the worst being that he was “practicing cunning or … tamper[ing] with God’s Word.” Some said that he wasn’t preaching enough of the Law of Moses (like the Judaizers who had, as C.S. Lewis said, a “Christ-plus” Christianity). Others said that Paul preached too much, saying that they must deny themselves and surrender. Some hated Paul’s message that they assailed his character.

So Paul says that he has renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. He’s not about being deceptive.

When our children were younger, we would give them juice—apple juice, grape juice, whatever. But we knew that their systems could not process straight juice, so we would dilute the juice so they won’t get overloaded with calories (lots of sugar in those drinks) and also to tone down the acidity.

The word ‘tamper’ comes from the word which means to dilute—specifically how wine merchants would add water to their wine to dilute the effect. They would cheat by taking away the thrust of the real product.

Let me ask you two questions. First, are you sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others? Sadly, the majority of church members across our land do not. We tend to gravitate inwardly. If we have a fellowship (Thanksgiving, watermelon, etc.), we pack the place out. If we have a time where we will go and knock on doors, only a handful show up. When we think of taking a fun trip, many will sign up. When we think of ministering at the Rescue Mission, very few show up. Fellowship with those we know is always easier than ministry to those we do not.

If you are sharing Jesus, what about Jesus are you sharing? Are you tampering with the gospel of our Lord? Are you diluting the Word so it’s not as strong, not as offensive? Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love says:

The American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t sweat, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered.

If this is the type of Christianity we’ve surrendered to or are sharing with other people, then we need to quit tampering with the gospel. We are not called to be culturally acceptable, but committed and sold out for Christ.

Keep in mind, while Paul never intended to hide the gospel, that did not mean that there weren’t those to whom the gospel was hidden. Look at verses 3-4:

3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The gospel is veiled to a group that Paul calls both ‘perishing’ and ‘unbelievers.’ If you have not received Christ or have accepted a diluted Christ, who are an unbeliever—and you are perishing. The gospel is veiled. Paul uses this word back in 2 Corinthians 3 in referring to how Moses came down from the mountain when he spent 40 days in the presence of the living God. The Israelites were fearful of Moses because his face was shining, reflecting the glory of God (see Exodus 34:29-35). Whereas the glory of the Lord was meant to sanctify, the Israelites showed their unbelief by shying away from its splendor. That glory, as Paul tells us, fades!

But the glory of the light of the gospel of Christ never fades! But so many in the world have the same reaction: hardness of heart and an accompanying fear and hatred.

Have you never received Jesus Christ as your Lord? Has he saved you from your sins? Have you repented of those sins? No? Why?

  • Is there pride in the way? How many times have I talked to someone who is in an addiction, lifestyle, or the like who, though they need to receive Christ and find freedom say they just aren’t ready? They think they are OK, content in their life and their pride. Imagine standing before God in all His glory and saying, “Yes, Lord I heard your word, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up my bottle, my TV, my habits, my good upstanding way of life.”
  • Is there fear in the way? Are you confronted with the glory of Christ in the gospel, and it’s majesty is so great that you fear drawing near to be saved? I could dilute the gospel and say that all you need to do is make a decision to accept Jesus—even though there is no such verbiage in the Scriptures. Jesus must not simply be an add-on to your life—He must be your life. It’s a surrender. And when you count the cost, you are afraid you cannot do it! But we are not about following the law, we are about surrendering to the one who already kept God’s law, writing that law on our hearts, and sending th Spirit to empower us to obedience—not out of fear, but obedience out of love!
  • Is there hatred of God in the way? I’ve been reading up on the scandals with New Tribes Mission and how some of the missionaries at an international school were found to have been sexually abusing the native children. You may remember the sex scandals in the priesthood in Louisville back in 2002 and the devastation that brought. Some in the Caribbean hate the biblical God because of how those who came from Europe in his name enslaved them. Or maybe you, because of some horrible issues that have happened in a church where you grew up did you or your family wrong and you’ve had a hatred for Christ—or at least his wife, the church. I urge you to consider that these are evils that have no part of Christ or His church. He has called His church to be a spotless bride that seeks the NT simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Those who live outside of the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus should not be seen as true representatives of Christ.
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Reflections on the Newspring Leadership Conference 2010

 

On September 16, 2010, I attended one of the best leadership conference I’ve ever been a part of—the first NewSpring Leadership Conference held at NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina.  The lineup was combination of relatively new as well as seasoned leaders in the evangelical world.

Below are some quotes doled out at the conference.  Afterwards, I will give some impressions of the conference and NewSpring Church in general.

Perry Noble

  • “In the midst of planning and preparing, we must not forget about Jesus.”
  • “Before God will do something through us, He wants to do something great in us.”
  • “Disney and Microsoft should not outdream the church.”
  • “If we’re not willing to be uncomfortable, we will become unfaithful.”
  • “If you’re always accessible to people, you won’t be alone with God.”
  • “In the Bible, no work equals lazy, and no rest equals disobedient.”

Mark Driscoll

  • “Don’t become cause centered, but rather be Christ centered.”
  • “Do you want God to use you greatly?  Then He must wound you deeply.”
  • John Calvin: “Everything passes by or through the hand of God.”
  • “Jesus did not suffer so we would not suffer, but we would be like Him in suffering.”
  • “Suffering is a great clarifier.”
  • “God likes to prune before harvest.  Your ministry is filled with fruitless branches.”
  • “A religious culture does no provide safety for confession.”
  • “You don’t want to convert people to ‘religious people’ –they are the ones who murdered Jesus.

Jud Wilhite

  • "Reach out to the broken, and you will always have an audience."
  • “When people are talking more about your programming, props or humor than Jesus after church, you have failed.”
  • “See restriction as an opportunity.”
  • “Fight the martyr mentality (of not having what you would like in church).  Focus on what you do have.”

Francis Chan

  • "If you put your life story into scripture, would it look normal? Or would you look like the one who played it safe?"
  • “Being afraid means being part of the 98% of people, don’t loose your courage.”

Judah Smith:  “Matters of the Meantime”

  • “What do you do when you are not where you used to be, but not where you’re supposed to be? What you do in the meantime shapes vision.”
  • “When the disciples were in the storm, they didn’t jump ship—they stayed in the boat.”
  • “Just because you have delay, doesn’t mean your dream is denied.”
  • "What do you do when you’re not where you used to be, but not where you’re supposed to be? Stay in the boat!"

Steven Furtick:

  • “You can borrow someone else’s faith until you have the maturity to have your own.”
  • “Immediate obedience is underrated.”
  • "There’s just something about immediate obedience."
  • "If no one has laughed at your vision lately maybe its because its not big enough."
  • “You don’t need a lot of faith to finish, all you need is a little faith to get started."
  • "Your destiny is not connected to those who leave your life."
  • “God’s past performance is the best predictor of His future ability!”
  • "The most extraordinary acts of God begin with the most ordinary acts of obedience."
  • “Always be more concerned with who we are reaching than who we are keeping.”
  • “Err on the side of grace.”

Andy Stanley

  • “Stop thinking categorically and think relationally … Its easy to place people in categories when you don’t have a relationship"
  • "Acceptance paves the way to influence"
  • “Churches always gravitate toward insiders rather than outsiders.”
  • “Churches always risk going from simplicity to complexity.”
  • “Churches risk having an attitude of preserving rather than advancing the Great Commission.”

 

Impressions on the Church

  • This church must have had over 200 volunteers who served in a myriad of different ways: parking, registration, greeting, helping, coffee house, book store, snack line, seating, and on and on and on.  It was a well-oiled machine and that made it very, very helpful.  And all of the volunteers were thankful to be a part of a great church.  It showed.
  • Their band rocked my face off.  Personally, I wasn’t crazy about it, but my friend Mark loved it.  Their music was an unabashed celebration of Jesus.  May ours be as well, regardless of style.
  • There were very few Christian symbols around the church.  No pews, but theatre seating (not a negative, mind you).  There were no pulpits, but a chair and table (not a negative, mind you—I don’t see one single pulpit mentioned in Scripture unless you are worshiping in a synagogue).  They’re vision is to reach those who are not being reached, so this is the direction they are moving.  In a city of 30,000 people, 10,000 are coming to their worship service and are hearing the Word. 
  • They went all out in their children’s area.
  • Their small groups are exclusively home groups, which is why we noticed no classrooms anywhere in their large campus.  Again—this is not a negative.  Just an observation.  Given how our REACH groups are expanding and working, I can see where this could be incredible.  All learning does not need to take place in a church building. 

Impressions of the Speakers

  • Positive:  Each of them have a trust and faith in the Lord to do great things for Him!
  • Positive:  Each of the speakers had a great way of encouraging and rallying the troops for Kingdom work.
  • Negative:  I was disappointed that Mark Driscoll and Steven Furtick felt it necessary to include a profanity for emphasis or shock value.  It’s like taking a pure bowl of water and putting a drop of potty water in that bowl.  Infects the whole thing.  That one word in each of their talks kept me from passing this talk on to other leaders in my church.  Call me a prude if you will.  It does not add to the message—it takes away big time.
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Reflections on our Neighbors to the Nations Sunday 2010

What an incredible day we had yesterday at our Neighbors to the Nations Sunday 2010!  I can’t wait for NTTN 2011!!  I would like to quickly reflect on each of the talks.

Rev. Jeremy Haskins, Associate Pastor, Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, Lexington, KY (mp3)

Jeremy spoke during our regular Sunday School hour and really helped our folks crystallize how adoption is the gospel—how God rescues us as orphans to a position where we have all the rights and privileges as sons.  He spoke of his own experience in adopting two children from Ethiopia.  You will find yourself inspired and rejoicing in God’s great act of adopting love.  He preached from Ephesians 3:1-14.  Unfortunately, only a portion of his sermon was recorded—but there is enough in these 16 minutes to give you a great flavor of the entire 30 minute sermon.

 

Dr. David Sills, Professor, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY (mp3)

Dr. Sills drew from his experiences as pastor, missionary in Ecuador, and seminary professor to sound the alarm for how we as Christians may be missing the point of the Great Commission.  He cautions us that we must avoid ‘fly-by evangelism’ that merely shares the gospel, gives out a Bible, puts a cross on a building and calls it a church.  Yet, few see the need to stick around and disciple.  As a result, much false doctrine is tolerated out of ignorance of the Scriptures and a lack of knowledge in how to study the Bible. 

You can read more about Dr. Sills’ thoughts on this in his book Reaching and Teaching

 

Rev. Kevin Whitt, Harvest Community Church, Eminence, KY (mp3 coming up soon)

Kevin shared how he planted a church in Henry County, Kentucky.  The church grew from 10 to 120 within three years.  Yet he confessed that he was simply gathering a crowd, not growing a healthy, biblical church. Even though he was asked to speak all over the state of Kentucky, he felt something was missing. So after reading his Bible, he switched to expository preaching and to ruling elders.  He then spoke of how he ‘grew’ the church from 120 to 40.  He cast his lot with building a church around the offense of the gospel and making much of Jesus and His Word.  Preaching from Acts 18, he showed how churches should evangelize, empower and equip for the glory of God.

 

We already have two of the three speakers scheduled for Neighbors to the Nations Sunday 2011:  Dr. J.D. Payne from Southern Seminary and soon-to-be Dr. Mark Combs from Salem Baptist Church, Salem, KY.  This will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2011 (Lord willing). 

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What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus?

When asking someone, “What do you believe it takes for a person to go to heaven?” and they respond, “Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins,” this is a good answer. He did die on that cross in order to atone for the sins of all who surrender to Christ.

Yet the question remains, “What does it mean to believe?” There are three types of belief spoke of in the Scriptures.

1. Believing that something exists (James 2:19)
2. Believing that something is true (John 2:23-25).
3. Believing that something is not only true, but something you are willing to surrender to and even die for (Luke 9:23).

The first two are not biblical ‘belief’ that God requires. This last ‘belief’ is what God requires–a full surrender!

Which belief do you have?

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Before You Leave Your Church, Ask Yourselves These Questions

    1. Are the Scriptures being preached?   “Preach the Word, in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). 
    2. Is the gospel clear? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one in born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). 
    3. Is Jesus made much of?  “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28).
    4. Are the leaders biblical in their actions and words?  “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).
    5. Is personal holiness a priority?  “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). 
    6. Does their heart beat for the Great Commission?  “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). 
    7. Is the Great Commandment a visible reality?  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). 

If these things are in place (and you don’t plan on moving to another city or state), I would strongly reconsider whether you believe God is leading you to another church. 

What think ye?

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This Just In: Stephen Hawking Says the Christian God Could Not Have Created the World

Stephen Hawking theorized that God could not have created the universe and that the universe could create itself. 

While this is not earth-shaking news (few are surprised by Hawkings conclusions), the BBC interviewer narrated toward the end that Hawking wanted to make it clear that this is just a theory and no evidence has been found to support this theory.  I find this interesting, given this the very reason that so many scientists turn down the notion of biblical creation.  If they are so willing to accept a theory with no evidence, why are they so quick to turn down creationism?  Some random thoughts:

First, science has always dipped its toe in the pool of ‘faith,’ and thus in many ways qualifies as a religion

Consider, science is like religion in that it makes claims about the origin and direction of all things.  Again, much of this comes with little or (more often) no evidence.  After all, no one alive today was around when the world began.  So everyone begins to make claims as to how it all began.  Even atheist Richard Dawkins believes that it’s possible that life began here with aliens.  But pouring all of your hope in a theory with no evidence is called ‘faith.’ 

Just watch this set of videos by Dr. Jason Lisle called “The Ultimate Proof of Creation,” which outlines the logical fallacies that both Christians and secularists use to prove their case. 

Second, everything they use to bring forth their theories has a structural design as part of the universe—yet the universe itself isn’t designed?

Think of all the tools and equipment scientists use.  Think of the buildings in which they live and work.  Think of how well their minds work.  Do they believe their instruments, tools, equipment, buildings and even minds were developed by a random accident?  No, they would laugh off that idea!  They themselves may have had a part in developing those tools.  Yet the universe they occupy is not a designed product of a Creator?  

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2Day to day pours out speech,
   and night to night reveals knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words,
   whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).

Third, if they admit there is a God (and especially the God described/revealed in the Scriptures), then they understand they are accountable to that God for their actions and dealings with what He has revealed. 

If the God of the Scriptures exists, then that causes a ripple effect in many other areas.  If the God revealed in the Scriptures is true, then what that God says is true.  And since He reveals He created, then we are under His domain as the creature.  And since Scripture reveals that His creatures are under the curse of sin, then that means we in the here and now have that in our DNA.  And if we have that in our DNA, it will come out in our actions.  And if that sinful nature comes out in sinful actions, we will be held accountable and harbor the consequences of those actions. 

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14-15). 

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God Equips Faithful Churches With…

During this morning’s sermon at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church here in Lexington, KY, my main point was: “God equips faithful churches with everything they need to accomplish everything he desires!”  Hebrews 13:20-21 says:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (ESV).

In what ways does He equip the church?

  1. He equips us through salvation in Christ, through whom God will give us all things we need for obedience (Romans 8:31-33).
  2. He equips us with Himself through the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13-14).
  3. He equips us with that which the Holy Spirit inspired—the Word of God—which makes the man of God competent for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  4. He equips us to pray to the Father who will hear us through the intercessory work of Christ (Matthew 6:5-9).
  5. He equips us with the people of God known as the church, in whom is the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).
  6. He equips us with leaders who are led by the Great Shepherd as visible incarnations to lead His sheep as undershepherds (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Be encouraged, church!  We as followers of Christ have all we need to accomplish all He desires!

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Islam: The Unintended Religion of Abraham

Islam is the second largest world religion behind Christianity, to the tune of over one billion people followers (known as Muslims). While Islam is in the majority in Middle Eastern countries, this religion is also the fastest growing religion in the world and is gaining a strong foothold in the West. Indonesia has more Muslims (178 million) than any other country.  They consider themselves sons of Ishmael, the son of the sexual union between Abraham and his wife’s maidservant Hagar (Genesis 16). 

They have contributed much on the world stage:

They have developed the Arabic numerals, which we use today;

Developed the sines of Algebra and trigonometry

Highly developed in nautical and astronomical sciences

Incredible artwork in their architecture.

What Problem Are the Followers of Islam Trying to Solve

Stephen Prothero in his book God is Not One, contends that the problem Islam tries to solve is self-sufficiency. He makes a great case. The word ‘Islam’ means “submission” or “surrender.” Like Christianity, Islam sought to move their followers away from a self-centered life. While Christians call for a submission to Christ, Muslims call for submission to Allah.

Allah is the supreme being of all. He is uncreated, the creator of all, without beginning or end. He is completely sufficient to himself and needs no other. He does not have offspring nor a spouse. He knows all things, is everywhere, and is all powerful. He hears all prayers. Everything that occurs, does so by his permission.[i]

Mohammed

  • Born in 570 A.D. in the city of Mecca (located in modern day Saudi Arabia), and died in 632 at the age of 62.
  • One time, Mecca was a center of gross idolatry, with worship of multiple gods prevalent
  • Did not like what happened at Mecca; began to retreat to a cave in Mecca to retreat and pray.
  • At 40 in cave of Hira, an angel whom he identified as Gabriel came to reveal message of Allah—did so over a 23 year period. Collection of writings known as the Quran (also spelled Koran);
  • Unified all Arab tribes under one umbrella, unified under one god
  • Greatest and final prophet, greater than Jesus
  • Caliphs were successors
  • Spread of Islam caused by traders

The Quran: the Islamic Scriptures

  • Based upon the words given to him over a 23 year period in a cave in Medina.
  • Mohammed could not read, so he had someone dictate these revelations. The entirety of the Quran was not compiled until after Mohammed died, by his father-in-law, Caliph Abu-Bakr, Muhammad’s father in law, became the caliph (religious leader of the Muslims) and there was a small effort to collect the fragments of Qur’anic sayings into a common place.   But, it wasn’t until the fourth leader of Islam, Caliph Uthman, that the whole Qur’an was finally assembled, approved, and disseminated throughout the Muslim world.
  • Contains 114 chapters (called Surahs) which are organized from the largest to the smallest.

The Five Pillars

  1. Shahada: a proclamation that “There is no true God except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” He is sovereign over all and expects his followers to heed the Quran (their Scriptures). This is over and against the Christian Trinity or the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—a doctrine which they consider polytheistic and thus incorrect.
  2. Prayer (Salat). Performed give times per day, involving confession of sin and the purification of body and soul. The names of the prayers are Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha. The Maghrib prayer is the sunset prayer. Isha is the prayer that is said after sunset. There is also a prayer that is said right after Fajr known as Shurooq.
  3. Fasting (Saum): During the month of Ramadan (the month of fasting in Islam), this is where the Muslim surrenders his own needs and seeks Allah. Usually, this fasting entails no drinking, eating, or sexual relations during the daylight hours for the entire month of Ramadan.
  4. Alms-giving or charity (Zakat): This offering benefits the poor and it helps the giver by moving him towards more holiness and submission to Allah. Alms-giving is considered a form of worship to God.
  5. Pilgrimage (Hajj): All Muslims, if they are able, are to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. It involves financial sacrifice and is an act of worship.  Muslims must make the pilgrimage the first half of the last month of the lunar year

Jihad has been elevated by Muslims to a pillar (making it the sixth pillar). Jihad means “struggle,” and often conjures up pictures of ‘holy war,’ with bombings and riots in the streets. Yet, Muslims will also say this is a spiritual struggle as they work to submit to the teachings of Allah and the Quran.

The Greater Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle of the Muslim toward submission to Allah. The Lesser Jihad is Holy War against non-Muslims based on principle of belief.


[i]Matt Slick, True Faith in Islam. Accessed 27 August 2010, available at http://www.carm.org/true-faith-in-islam [on-line]; Internet.

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