Friday, October 31, 2014

Have You Read the Koran?

I read the Koran. This is my take. 

I have nothing much positive to say about the Koran except that it’s good I read it to know the terrible awful truth. Even literarily it has practically no merit. Yes, it’s a translation but so is a lot of what I read including the Bible. I’m still miffed at Clifton Fadiman for putting the Koran in while leaving the Bible out of his “Lifetime Reading Plan” which I've been following more or less for several years. He gave the lame excuse that everybody has read it. Well, haven’t we all read a lot of the books on his 200plus list? And haven’t over a billion people read the Koran? He could have had us read selections from the Bible at least. Of all these books, the Bible is certainly one that can be read over and over. It is obvious to me that the Bible runs circles around everything else, especially the Koran, as classic literature alone. It’s sad, really.

The Koran wasn’t difficult to read. It was mainly repetitive and boring. I did learn some troubling things about the Muslim religion. Very troubling.

1. It is mainly a denouncing of Jesus Christ as Messiah. Over and over it says that God having a son is a “monstrous falsehood”(219). This is what is called anti-Christ. If we are Christians, we should look at this book and this religion as evil. It doesn’t just proclaim its own tenets, it is obsessed with bashing Christianity. Strange. It’s just like the anti-Christs in The Book of Mormon who mocked people’s beliefs and denied the need for repentance and salvation through Christ.

2. It is inconsistent and self-serving. If, as it says, Jesus was not the Christ, then he was lying about himself when he said he was the Son of God, etc. But the Koran accepts Jesus as a prophet. It follows that they are saying a prophet can also be a liar and teach falsehoods. Also there is no love your enemies or golden rule in the Koran. It’s: do evil to those who do evil to you.

3. It teaches that we make it to heaven on our own merits (by attending to prayers, rendering alms, and firmly believing in the life to come, p. 264). This is also anti-Christ as Savior and Redeemer. It presumes that human beings can save themselves by doing enough good stuff. (This of course engenders pride. Christians believe we make it to heaven by relying only on the merits of Christ. This is how we develop all those godly traits like humility and patience and charity.)

4. They don’t believe God has to follow eternal laws but will forgive you just because He can or wants to. The Koran says to repent, yes, but there is no divine advocate. They presume they can purify themselves. They have very harsh punishments for grievous sins I guess because they have no other recourse (no Savior). Hence, the hundred lashes for adultery, cutting off of limbs, and so on. Tragically, they are fooling themselves.

5. Heaven is just luxury; there is no eternal increase or spiritual progression like we believe. Doesn’t it sound so pointless? It’s like that Twilight Zone episode, "A Nice Place to Visit,” in which the man gets all the selfish things he wants after he dies and it turns out to be hell instead of heaven. Muslims want earthly rewards (ease, physical comforts, gratification of base appetites) in heaven (218). I don’t think it works that way. I think exaltation is about selflessness and truth and goodness and progress. It’s a spiritual place for striving spiritual beings. 

6. There is no respect for freedom or agency. It seems they do not believe in personal agency at all. Unbelievers are summarily judged and condemned here and now (even to death) unless they become Muslims. In fact, the book is extremely fixated on the unbelievers/infidels. Allah is certainly a respecter of persons (”See how We have exalted some above others,” 198) who actually hates some of his children. On the contrary, Christians believe God loves all of His children no matter what and offers them a spiritual way back to Him if they desire it.

7. They seem to think men lusting after women is okay but men lusting after men is definitely not okay. This is not cogent. Lust is lust. It's all bad. By the way, I think all people who practice homosexuality should be very afraid of this violent, unforgiving religion. And that would not be "Islamophobia" because a phobia is a mental disorder with no basis in reality. A healthy fear of the most radical of these people, especially if you are gay or Christian or British or American or Jewish, would be based on actual facts and real-life events. Radicals (aka: ultra orthodox?) blow up and behead people they don't like. In the case of homosexual behavior, regular Muslims, depending upon the particular country's leaders, punish homosexuality with flogging, to jail time, to execution.

You can see that I am very disappointed in this religion and sorry that so many people claim it. Yes, there is some truth in it, such as God being the Creator and how we should take care of our families. But the overall tone of the book came across to me as shallow, arrogant, selfish, rancorous, violent, and vindictive. Not to mention uncivilized and benighted. They buried their infant daughters alive? (Okay, Muhammad said to stop doing this.)  And cut off people’s alternate hands and feet? The Koran states that God says of the infidels to “Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers” (127 and 357). Scary.

Aside from the shocking violence in the Koran, it’s as if Muhammad was jealous of the Bible and the Jews and the Christians. But instead of coming up with his own ideas he borrowed the Bible stories and prophets he liked (Abraham, Moses, Jonah, David) and made up a tortured, broken Bible like the old fractured fairy tales on Rocky and Bullwinkle. The whole point of existence, to Muslims, is to outwardly keep the “main” commandments (evidently little sins don’t matter) and by so doing earn a spot on a brocade cushion in a endlessly delightful garden of streams and fountains with dark-eyed virgins waiting on them forever. And that’s another thing: this is a man’s religion. Women are not equal, in fact, they are not part of the equation except to give men pleasure and offspring. It makes me wonder why it’s so trendy all over the world to champion this religion. Americans especially obviously haven’t read the Koran.  If they had, among other things, they wouldn’t have wanted that Mosque at Ground Zero. Also, the book is very self-apologetic. Over and over it defends itself within its own text. This seemed weird. Methinks this religion doth protest too much at its very origins.

We all ought to at least know the five pillars of Islam:
1. One God, Muhammad is His prophet, everything happens according to God’s will
2. Prescribed prayer 5 times a day
3. Fasting from dawn to dusk during month of Ramadan
4. Give alms to the poor
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca once in lifetime if possible

These five pillars may sound nice, but we must recognize that this religion, according to its holy book alone, is about blind conformity and has no divine Savior and no emphasis on the condition of the heart, humility, or repentance (see five pillars--it's all outward, even the praying is prescribed). It contains some truths, but in other ways is selfish, lawless, brutal, and completely intolerant. We should all be wary of this religion and the respect, influence, power, and destruction it is amassing and threatening throughout the world.

-Janice Graham

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Meet THESE Mormons

by Stephen and Janice Graham

As fourth and fifth-generation Mormons, it took us until our 40s and a proverbial tidal wave to experience true conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We tried our best all those years to be perfect, we accomplished a measure of works and achievements, but all of these outward actions did not get us any closer to Christ in any life-changing way. In fact, we were sometimes deeply, utterly, spiritually miserable. We obviously fell short and did not know how to deal with our faults. At least we were honest with ourselves. Perhaps this is the first essential step. Seeing our own emptiness and lack of true religiousity, we began to pray for some spiritual depth, some understanding, some integrity, some wholeness.

Then came serious trouble, and the truth we had begun to guess at pummeled us continually over some months and years like a slow-motion tsunami. The truth was: each of us was a lost lamb. Each of us was the one Christ came to save. We were sinners. Whatever our sins---however small they may seem to others---they were sins nevertheless, terrible sins to each of us, and we saw that we needed a Savior. Continually. And God loved us, and all his children, so much that He provided one.

This knowledge changed our spiritual lives in every way. It's made things a great deal more challenging, yes, much is required, we still make all sorts of errors, holiness costs like nothing else, it often hurts, but it's worth the glorious freedom, infinite love and patience, and joyful gratitude we feel through the love of God and the Atonement of Christ. Now we know we're on the right path. We both feel we are finally making progress, incremental as it is. Our only misery these days is the sorrow we feel for the increasingly Godless, anti-Christ world that exists today.These plain and precious, life-changing truths are being rejected in favor of creeping secularism, humanism, moral relativism, radical individualism, feminism, homosexualism, you name it, every kind of devilish -ism, or false god, imaginable or unimaginable.For heaven's sake, we allow the poisoning, mutilating, dismembering, and destroying of unborn babies! That's how wicked today's people have become. Legalized, legitimized, celebrated, elective abortion as a form of despising posterity is the barometer of our societal depravity. As a civilization, we are truly laboring in iniquity and dwindling in unbelief as the scriptures put it.

Christ as our essential Redeemer and the repentance he offers, take it or leave it, is the overwhelming message of the Standard Works of the Mormon Church, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which Standard Works include The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. People who condemn the Bible, as many do today, have lost their power of discernment and are past feeling. People who condemn the marvelous Book of Mormon or miss its message, inside or outside the Mormon Church, have not read it, and if they have, refuse to understand it, the same as those who reject the Bible. We find that the eternal truths in these books are ours for the taking if we'll only set ourselves aside, along with our emotions, our oversentimentality, and our earthly treasures, if we'll only, as the scriptures say, humble ourselves, and ask, seek, knock. In fact, endless unchangeable truth, Truth with a capital T, if we'll only seek it, is available all around us.  

How did these Mormons miss it all those years? The fault may lie within us Mormons ourselves. Over the centuries, over the decades, amid the increasing influence and lure of the wicked world, what have we come to? What are we centering on? What do we emphasize? What are our perceptions? What have we abandoned? What are we embracing? What premises and principles do we operate under? And most important: What is going on in our hearts? Why do we do the things we do? Who or what is it that we truly serve? Who or what is it that we truly love?  It's interesting: these are the very questions posed, and answered, by The Book of Mormon,  which turns out to exist---Surprise!---not just for the world and potential converts, but for us Mormons, too, who have always and will always need Christ, not just to make up some imagined percentage of righteousness lacking, but as the only way, 100%. Yes, we must give it all up, open our hands, let it all go, and come to Christ.

These Mormons had to ask themselves all of the above questions. And these Mormons had to repent of a lifetime of worshiping many false idols. These Mormons had to be crushed to bits and born again, as Bible and Book of Mormon testify we must. And the exciting adventure continues.

Apparently there are different kinds of Mormons. What kind of Mormon are you?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's Not a Question of Niceness

We're just wondering  how we can manage to hold to the rod and at the same time be an active part of this wicked world. It seems we receive mixed messages. Don't sit on the fence, stand firm for truth and righteousness, we're told. And simultaneously we're told to respect all opinions. It's confusing.

We are told to choose sides and then admonished to be respectful, even gracious, to those with contrary views or lifestyles. Respect is about honoring and esteeming someone or something. Well, anyone can see that many opinions aren't worthy of respect. Some are downright evil. Graciousness is a form of acceptance and embrace. We can't embrace evil. We're told to oppose it. How are we supposed to draw a line in the sand and then step right on over it?  It's like having one's cake and eating it. How is this possible?

It isn't, not if you're intellectually honest. What we have here are two ancient and opposing world views. In essence, one is Satan's and one is God's. The two worldviews cannot peacefully coexist in any permanent way, hence the war in heaven. Here and now, one worldview will be preferred by the people and the other will be harmed. In other words, one will dominate the other. In America God's way has dominated culturally and societally until relatively recently. Yes, even until one generation ago traditional values were strongly encouraged and sexual immorality strongly discouraged. Now we see unmistakeable evidence of a great shift, from God's ways to Satan's. There are lots of examples of this occurring, but let's take homosexuality.

The modern homosexualist who, because he is operating against God and is always motivated by self-interest, is saying some or all of the following: We've decided that this isn't sinful, it's actually who they are, they can't change, and everybody has to respect their self-determined identity, lusts and acts. We must even allow homosexuality to be modeled and taught to children in schools and churches. It must be protected in our laws. And those who dissent ought to be shamed and marginalized and punished.  More and more, homosexualists are getting their way. We see that it is sexual immorality that is now being preferred.  

When there are two opposing views on crucial issues such as sexual immorality, it's not a question of niceness. How we treat each other has nothing to do with the real problem. Mere kindness will never knit Satan and God together. Those ancient worldviews stand in total opposition to each other. The question is not about common courtesy or politeness, but which side will be preferred, encouraged, celebrated, and which side will be intimidated, discouraged, silenced, in our country, in our schools, in our churches, in our homes. Of course we know that if you give Satan an inch he'll take a mile. He doesn't stop, ever. He is about thumbing his nose at God and will win over many of God's children, just out of revenge, even though in the end he'll be beaten. So much for graciousness.

If we've decided to embrace homosexuality and/or other wickedness in any form, it's Satan's side we've chosen. As a result God's side will get squelched, bit by bit, more and more, until a formerly God-fearing people don't have have any interest in God at all.

Of course this doesn't have to happen to us as individuals. There are many ways to take God's side. In this world today when evil is preferred and good is harmed, any of those ways may take unimagined sacrifices. We'll be labeled unkind, no matter how ultimately loving we really are. We'll be perceived as lukewarm--to kooks--to apostate, and everything in between. We'll have to endure persecution. We'll lose a great deal. But of course it can be done. It just depends on the level of our courage and faith in the Lord.

There is a time for everything. Sometimes we speak up, sometimes we remain silent, sometimes we act, sometimes we exercise restraint. But one thing is for certain. This life is not just a sociological test to see how gracious we can be to people we disagree with. It's a test with some important absolutely wrong and absolutely right answers. Flannery O'Connor said, " . . .you have to cherish the world at the same time you struggle to endure it." Enduring implies something unpleasant or difficult or painful. In the case of being on the losing side, that is, standing against sin in a world that chooses not to recognize sin any longer, that calls evil good and good evil, it means sacrifice, persecution, loss, sorrow, courage, and faith. And that's a far cry from simply being nice. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

World's Gay, God's Gay?

Years ago, a photographer friend took all sorts of pictures of our family members and sold them as stock photos. We see ourselves in Walmart picture frames and on the backs of moving vans. But the one time we really got a kick out of where we found ourselves was when we got an occupant-type letter from a Christian outfit. Our twin girls, about 14 years old, were  pictured on the back of the envelope with the labels, "World's Girl" and "God's Girl." (This was funny because they were actually both very good girls.)

Lately, quite incredibly, some ostensibly religious church people seem to have internalized a similar notion about homosexuality. They think there is a distinct difference between people publicly and quite comfortably claiming homosexuality as an identity who are members of their church and people doing the same thing outside their church. They actually believe their brothers and sisters in the church who are gay are pure and wholesome while the worldly type of homosexual is undoubtedly quite lost and wicked. And yet they use the same cunning but false arguments concocted by the world's best sexual revolutionaries: they were born that way, it's who they are, they can't change.

Those defending homosexuality in the church also add some goofy thought processes of their own. While publicly stating that "God's supposedly celibate gays are not sinful, do not have a disorder, and are not sick in any way, which of course must mean that homosexuality in principle is righteous, orderly, and healthy, in private they believe these people are really messed up, that they've been abused and are miserable. (People with SSA might be interested to know they're being played.) They have also abandoned scripture. When we at SoL have confronted homosexualists within the church with the many scriptures which condemn sexual impurity of all kinds, inside and out, in no uncertain terms, they accuse us of misinterpreting the word of God. Really? How convenient for them.

These people somehow believe that their gays are "moderate," their gays aren't sexually immoral or lustful, their gays are special, their gays are harmless to themselves and everybody else, their gays don't need to repent. (Apparently this attitude creeps into other sexual sins church people commit too, such as the use of pornography.) Seriously? Meanwhile, gays in the church are eating all this nonsense up. They're writing books on how you can be a Christian/Mormon/Jewish homosexual. They know they are making great headway. And they won't stop until their deviant sexual desires and practices are respected and legitimized within their church. Of course they are quite tragically being used as pawns in helping our society along as it slouches towards Gomorrah, as Robert Bork put it.

Is there such a thing as a world's gay versus a God's gay? Is there any significant difference?

God says no.Homosexuality is sexual. Lust is lust. Sin is sin. And God does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. There is no such thing as a moderate, nonsexual gay. Celibate or not, however that's defined, it's all bad and harmful, in every degree, no matter how unfortunately it comes about. Remember, sex is a serious thing. If it is misused in the mind, heart, or body somebody gets hurt. Whatever name you call this form of sexual immorality ---and churches are indeed calling it all sorts of nice-ish sounding things---it is a sin in desire, thought, and deed. Homosexuality is destructive to the souls of God's children, and actually only a symptom of something much worse.

There is a greater danger here. The triumph of sin comes with our failure to perceive it, wrote Roger Scruton. A weak sense of sin is tantamount to a weak sense of Christ. If there is no sin, there is no Christ. In other words, we are headed away from the Lord and goodness and toward the devil and evil when we go soft on sin, any sin. God's standards for human behavior do not vary according to what happens to be going on in the world at any given time. Essential principles are absolute, outside and inside the church.

To be a true follower of Christ one must have a strong sense of sin, one's own sins, and sin in general. This takes humility and a consciousness of God and His plan of salvation through Christ. As George Herbert put it so beautifully and succinctly,

Who in heart never kneels
Neither sin nor Savior feels.

There's nothing mysterious or strategic about what's going on in America's churches, how people have fooled themselves into thinking churchy gay is better than worldly gay. What church people are doing in softening toward homosexuality is a direct reflection of what's going on in the culture around us, only with a great deal of doublespeak, smugness, and hypocrisy thrown in.