Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ISLAM OR CHRISTIANITY?

I'd like to mention in brief some of the main differences between Islam and Christianity:

1. The God of Islam is Allah. Allah is monotheistic. The God of Christianity is also monotheistic, but unlike the God of Islam, the God of Christianity is the Triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God therefore is three Persons yet one God.

2. The prophet of Islam is Mohammed. The Prophet of Christianity is Jesus Christ. Jesus is also Christianity's Priest and King.

3. According to Islam Jesus is a prophet. According to Christianity Jesus is God. He is the Middle Person in the Triune Godhead. Jesus is the Word who became flesh, who is like us in every way apart from sin.

4. According to Islam a person pleases Allah by doing his will, by keeping Shariah law. According to Christianty a person gets right with God through Jesus Christ's perfect keeping of God's Law, which righteousness is imputed to believers. Which is to say that we are condemned because we break God's Ten Commandments, but "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

See the following links for more information about Islam:

http://nordskogpublishing.com/publisherscorner/2009/11/islams-world-peace-now-or-later.html

See the following for more information on "Fort Hood & the Separation of Mosque & State:

http://nordskogpublishing.com/publisherscorner/2009/11/fort-hood-separation-of-mosque-and.html

14 comments:

  1. In my study on this topic, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular Protestant Lexicon here is what it is defined as:

    —————-
    QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”
    http://tinyurl.com/r92dch
    —————-

    The Protestant Lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

    The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are 3 examples:

    ——————-
    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
    ——————-

    Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

    To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (3) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
    This cannot be right.

    So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such.

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  2. Nick, you make some good points regarding the word logizomai. However, my "concern" is more to do with your understanding of the role of an individual's "faith" in salvation, ie, in the individual's getting right with God, receiving forgiveness and everlasting life etc.

    Are you alleging that "faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act" by God? You seem to be. Which, if I have understood you correctly, means that you are stating that God declares us righteous because of an act of "faith" on our part.

    You use Abraham, the father of all believers, as an example. You allude to the final few verses of Romans 4 which speaks of Abraham and of believers today.

    I would like us to look at the three important verses that follow Romans 4:22, verses that you did not "consider".

    The Romans 4:22 verse you mentioned, speaking of Abraham in Genesis 15:6 is where Paul writes, "And therefore 'it was accounted (imputed)to him [ie, Abraham] for righteousness'".

    Abraham was accepted as righteous by God on account of his faith in the promise of God.

    However, Abraham's faith is not a work or an "act" as you call it. God imputed righteousness, an alien righteousness, to Abraham THROUGH his faith.

    Faith is the condition of salvation, not the ground for it. We are saved by grace, by God's grace alone. "For by grace you have been saved THROUGH (dia) faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9.

    With the understanding that we are saved THROUGH the instrument of faith, let us now briefly consider Romans 4:23-25 were Paul uses the word impute (logizomai).

    Speaking of Abraham and believers today Paul goes on to say:

    "Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised because of our justification." Romans 4:23-25.

    Notice that not only was an alien righteousness imputed to Abraham through his faith, (faith that he illustrated that he had through obedience to God - see James), but that this alien righteousness is also imputed to all who believe, ie, have faith in God through Christ our Saviour.

    There are three areas of imputation in the Bible:

    1. Adam's sin is imputed to or credited to all mankind (Rom. 3:12f.)
    2. The believer's sins are imputed to Christ (Isa. 53:5.)
    And 3. Christ's righteousness is imputed to believers (which we just looked at in Romans 4:23-25.)

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  3. Hello, thank you for your response. Here are my follow up comments:

    Yes, I am stating faith is seen as a righteous act by God, and I supported that on many grounds (e.g. how Paul exegetes Gen 15:6 via Rom 4:18-22). I don't agree with the notion we can leave logizomai aside and focus only on faith when how one understands logizomai directly impacts how one reads faith.

    The idea that 'acts' didn't play a part in Abraham being blessed goes against the plain teaching of Scripture where God ties all His blessings to Abraham to his longstanding obedience:

    "Gen 26: 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws."


    The point of studying the Scriptures through the word study I did was to see whether using logizomai as 'alien status' in Romans 4 was warranted, yet you basically approach Romans 4 as it being a given that it *must* mean that. I think this is a problematic way to approach the text.

    Lastly, while the framework of 'imputation' might be convenient, the fact of the matter is: while Scripture is fully aware of the term logizomai, never is it stated in Scripture (a) Adam's sin is imputed to us, (b) sins are imputed to Christ, and (c) "Christ's Righteousness" is imputed.
    For a concept so central as imputation to the Gospel, it should be cause for concern that it is never mentioned in Scripture in those three cases.

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  4. Nick, thank you for this dialogue.

    Are you stating that a person (eg, Abraham) is saved by works?

    Also, Scripture is too full of the Doctrine of Imputation for it to be missed! The word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible, but we both agree that the doctrine is?

    We need to be careful with word studies, that the tail does not end up wagging the dog!

    Are you therefore denying those doctrines that reformed the deformed Church at the time of the Reformation and set fire to Europe and beyond with the glorious Good News - that man is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone?

    Nick, I take it that you are a Roman Catholic?

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  5. For those interested in the topic of "Salvation" see my "Works Versus Grace" chapter, part of a my larger work, "Demystifying the Gospel" - on my Website:

    http://homepage.mac.com/macfhionn/FREUMH/Sneachd/DMG/DMG_1%3A4_SALVATION%3A_Works_Versus_Grace.html

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  6. Yes, I am Catholic, but I hesitate to affirm this because in my experience those I'm dialoguing with tend to 'turn off' rational discussion and shift to polemics.

    You asked two questions in your last post, here are my answers:

    1) Is a person saved by "works"? The answer here requires clarification. One is not saved by 'works of the Law' or any natural powers of his own (eg Jn 15:5). However, a person who is cooperating with grace and living by the spirit is saved by works (eg Gal 6:7-9; Phil 2:12-13). Abraham specifically saved by works, I'd point to Genesis 26:4-5.
    I believe it is a mistake to take Paul's words against 'works' to mean any type of works at any time, for that's beyond what he was arguing.

    2) You say the Bible is full of the doctrine of imputation and since the word "Trinity" isn't found we don't just reject it. The answer here is that "the word Trinity isn't found" argument fails because the word "impute" is found in Scripture, about 40 times in the NT, and about 40 times in the OT. What's interesting is that never is it applied in the way Sola Fide claims it is.


    I have looked over your link on Works and Grace and here are my comments:

    You said: "No, the problem arises when you think that God owes you payment for the good things you do."
    Catholics would wholeheartedly agree with this, but the catch is that someone doesn't have to owe someone in the strict sense of a paycheck to still reward/bless/etc someone for pleasing them. Take a look at Hebrews 11:6-
    "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

    You have set up an incorrect notion of 'works', condemning them across the board, when the Bible only had a narrow definition it was condemning.

    Take 2 Tim 4:
    "7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

    Here Paul says he has persevered on the right track, and as a reward God will give him the crown of righteousness, meaning Heaven.

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  7. Nick, we are both agreed on the meaning of the word "impute" - logizomai = credit,reckon, count as etc. No real problem here. We can therefore move on to discuss Rome's view of "justification".

    As you know, and as I perceive is the reason for your correspondence with me, Romes detests "Sola Fide" - ie, the doctrine of "faith alone".

    Rome agrees with the Reformers that we are saved by faith, but disagrees when the Reformers introduce the word "alone".

    When it comes to justification Romes believes that it is by "infused grace" that we are saved, which is to say that for Rome God justifies us after we have and because of inherent grace, ie, indwelling righteousness. Thus, for Rome, "inherent grace" is the grounds for salvation.

    However, for the Reformers the belief is that a sinner is saved solely by "imputed grace", ie, Christ's imputed righteousness. Which is correct?

    When the Reformers speak of "faith alone" they do not mean a faith that is alone, for, as James says, "faith without works is dead". Thus, to the Reformer "good works" are the result of faith, and not the cause of it Good works are not therefore, nor is inherent righteousness, the reason why God justifies us.

    Both Rome and the Reformers agree that righteousness is needed for salvation. Rome believes that a person receives this righteousness, ie, has it "infused" through the sacrament of Baptism etc. Thus, "righteousness" (in this case) is an inherent righteousness.

    Contra this, the Reformers believe that the "righteousness" is imputed, credited, counted as, or reckoned to the recipient - as a forensic or legal action in God's court. Thus, because God has declared the recipient "righteous", ie, by imputing Christ's righteousnees to him, God subsequently infuses him with that righteousness, ie, a righteousness that belongs to Christ.

    Therefore, to the Reformers, a person is not saved because God has infused him or her with righteousness (as per Rome), but rather the person is saved because God has declared that previously morally bankrupt and condemned sinner to be righteous on Christ's account.

    Subsequent to this declaration (which for all intents and purposes, justification and sanctification take place simultaneously!)comes regeneration and sanctification, ie, "infused" righteousness.

    I'm trying not to write a whole book here, as space will not permit, but I hope I have set out some of the main differences between Rome's position and my owm ie, that of the Church Reformers.

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  8. Also, Nick, and briefly, Romans 5:12 and following clearly show us that what Adam did (ie, breaking covenant with God by sinning) affected all mankind, and that what Jesus did (ie, living a perfect life and dying an atoning death)has affected many. This is what we mean by the "Doctrine of Imputation", that Adam's sin, ie, the guilt of Adam's sin, affects all his natural descendants and it affects us legally, in that God has declared all mankind "sinners".

    "Therefore, as through on man's offence judgment came to all men, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." Rom. 5:17-18.

    "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:22.

    Adam's sin (ie, his guilt) which results in death is credited to, reckoned to, etc., the many, so Christ's righteousness is imputed the many. Adam and the Second Adam, ie, Jesus Christ, are in juxtaposition.

    Christ takes away our sins by having them imputed to Him. We are clothed in Christ's righteousness by having it imputed to us by, ie, through faith, ie, through the instrument of faith.

    Thus "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Eph. 2:8-9.

    Faith therefore is not an "act" as you have stated (though faith is not without action), but rather it is a gift of grace through which we receive the righteousness that God, by His grace alone, has imputed to us.

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  9. Neil,

    I think you misunderstood my position; we don't agree on the meaning of the term logizomai. The definition I'm arguing for states the righteousness is inherent rather than alien.

    We don't really need to move on to discussing justification, because we've already been talking about one aspect: logizomai is part of justification.

    I understand your description of Sola Fide and how the infused versus imputed righteousness issue comes into play - my argument states logizomai does not mean 'impute' in the way you're thinking, thus the Bible isn't teaching the "imputed righteousness of Christ." My argument states logizomai means the righteousness is inherent, and thus righteousness must have been infused PRIOR to the reckoning taking place.

    Your very last sentence sums up where the dispute is:
    "Faith therefore is not an "act" as you have stated (though faith is not without action), but rather it is a gift of grace through which we receive the righteousness that God, by His grace alone, has imputed to us."

    While that comment is faithful to classical formulations of Sola Fide, I'm arguing it is based upon a misunderstood use of the term logizomai. Logizomai, as the Bible uses it, indicates faith is not only a gift, but also a righteous act.
    This is precisely how 'credited as righteousness' is used in the account of Phinehas in Psalm 106:30-31. And using the general rule of 'scripture interprets scripture', we should hold the same meaning of 'credited as righteousness' when it appears in Gen 15:6.

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  10. Grace -v- Works & Grace

    I’ve considered Nick’s comments and it seems he is suggesting the catalyst to our salvation is the act of faith, but if we are truly dead in our sins, it seems to me we are incapable of performing (any) such act to bring ourselves (even a little bit) to life; in the same way a dead body is incapable of reaching for the defibrillator to shock his own heart.

    We are born into physical life through no catalyst of our own, is it therefore so hard to comprehend we are born into spiritual life through no catalyst of our own?

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  11. Nina,

    That is a good question. Two things I'd like to say to that:

    (1) We can be graciously 'brought to life' prior to 'justification', and that is indeed what the Reformed notion of 'regeneration' is.

    (2) Being "dead" in sin need not mean 'unconscious' but rather just the LACK of spiritual life.
    Let me explain. The parable of the prodigal son has the son 'dead' in sin, separated from fellowship with his father, but he is not 'unconscious' in that he doesn't realize his sinfulness and need to repent. While he reached his lowest point, he was aware of his state and knew he needed to repent. Upon being reconciled to his father, the father says his son was "dead" and now "alive again" (Lk 15:24, 32).
    Also, in the case of David (a believer from youth), he fell into grave sin and lost his salvation, he became dead in sin, that's why Paul says Psalm 32:1-5 (in Rom 4:6-8) is a moment of justification.


    So, in the end, this issue of becoming 'alive' need not interfere with faith/repentance/etc being the action to which God responds favorably to.

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  12. Nick, I really do think we need to move on to the area of "justification". For we are already agreed that the *word* logizomai means reckon, credit, impute, etc. Any NT Greek lexicon will attest to this definition of the *word*.

    What you are discussing is not a word, but rather a doctrine, ie, the Reformed Doctrine of Imputation - from a Roman Catholic perspective.

    It is good that you wish to hold to the Reformed Doctrine of Sola Scripture, (Scripture intepreting Scripture), but (from my point of view at least!) it is not good that you do not wish (it seems to me) to hold to Sola Fide (Faith Alone).

    Yes, as you mention above in a comment to Nina, for Reformed Christianity Regeneration precedes Faith.

    I think that you are wanting to say that this "faith" is infused rather than imputed? That it is an "act" of faith on our part that saves us, rather than Christ and His righteousness credited to us that savs us. You use Phinehas in Psalm 106:31 as an illustration of salvation this (ie, your way) way.

    While it is true that the passages about Phinehas in Psalm 106:31 and Abraham in Genesis 15:6 have much in common in the use the word (though in Hebrew) "impute". However, as context shows, the former is not referring to Phinehas gaining everlasting life through his righteous act, but the latter is referring to Abraham receiving everlasting life. This righteousness is by faith alone (though his faith, like Phinehas' faith, was accompanied with righteous or faithful actions.

    Where Scripture is unclear in one place about a doctrine, we go to those places of Scripture where it is clear. The Epistles (of which Romans is a part) are primarily there to explain what happened what the rest of the Bible is all about, including Abraham receiving salvation by grace alone through faith alone - just as we do.

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  13. Nina is correct when she speaks of how dead we are. We are "dead in our tresspasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Paul goes to great lengths to illustrate how dead we are in Romans 3: "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God" etc.

    A person needs to be made alive by God before he will be righteous or seek God. This is the crux of our discussion. How is a person justified: through impution of Christ's righteousness or through infusion of Christ's righteousness?

    The former (the Reformed position) is part of a forensic or legal transaction, ie, imputation, a declaration done in God's court, but the latter (the Roman position) is an action, albeit allegedly done by God through the Roman Chuch) through water baptism.

    So, is to be justified to be "declared righteous" (as per Reformed Christianity), or is justification to be "made righteous" (as per Roman Catholicism)? That is the question.

    I believe that the Scriptures clearly teach the former, and that the latter (ie, being made righteous has more to do with the Reformed doctrine of Sanctification, which like love and marriage, and the horse and carriage, goes together with the Doctrine of Justification. You can't have one without the other!

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  14. Hello,

    I had a response almost done and a temp power outage/surge lost it all and the worst part is the power supply battery didn't work. Oh well.

    In talking about logizomai, we have been talking about justification indirectly, but at the same time how we *interpret* logizomai directly impacts how we see justification. The problem is not that it means 'credit, reckon, etc' but that WE mean different things when WE say 'reckon, credit, etc'. If it means "count X to be X" (as I believe), then that leaves no room for an alien righteousness.

    You are correct in saying I believe faith is an infused virtue, how can it be otherwise? An imputed alien faith makes no sense. But that simply solidifies the fact it's about God's grace and not man, for without the gift of faith (which is infused) we cannot believe in the first place.

    I'm not sure how you can say "credited as righteousness" means eternal life in one moment but not in another, but none the less you seem to agree "credited as righteousness" means Phinehas performed a 'righteous act'. Given that, using Scripture interprets Scripture, the "credited as righteousness" can certainly mean righteous act in Abraham's case.

    I agree with your claim that "a person needs to be made alive by God before he will be righteous or seek God," so that's not really a problem. In fact, being made alive is an infused grace right there.

    Now, whether 'declared righteous' or 'made righteous' is correct isn't technically a problem for the Catholic side. If the former definition is to be used, the notion of "declared righteous" can simply be the 'capstone' of the salvation chain of events (e.g. washed, sanctified, justified - 1 Cor 6:9-11). So if one's heart is "purified by faith" (Acts 15:9) at the moment of salvation, the 'declare righteous' would come after the purification. If faith is an infused virtue (as I believe only makes sense), then the exercise of that gift would be a demonstration of righteousness, at which point God would 'declare righteous' that individual. In short, the Catholic position doesn't hang on whether "justify" means "declare righteous" or whether it means "make righteous".

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