Monthly Archives: May 2015

Christianity Face to Face with Islam

We talked about the essay on Islam. The following link from the www. website will let you see the article. This source tries to be politically neutral with respect to  Islam, it is a good work if you avoid committing a sin. Can Islam continue to grow despite the limits on personal freedoms? Will that rise up to bite them. A friend of John’s said Islam is the perfect religion with its five pillars. The five pillars are included below. Briefly, they are
1. Profession of faith.
2. Prayer
3. Almsgiving
4. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan
5.  the pilgrimage to Makkah

Tom’s test on the article:

1. Name the Biblical figure/person who forms the common basis of Christianity and Islam.
2. Rank these religions in terms of their age of existence.
A. Islam
B. Judaism
C. Christianity
3. What to Muslims believe is wrong with Christianity
4. Complete the following phrase which Muslims regularly recite.
“There is no god but God and ________ is his messenger.”
5. What is geographically remarkable about the parts of the world that are today majority Muslim, as compared to the parts of the world that are majority Christian?
6. There are more Muslims than Christians in the world today.
A. True
B. False
7. Which prophet is most frequently named in the Quoran (Koran)?

Bonus Questions (from John)

8. According to Islam, what age was the prophet Noah when he was called to prophecy?
9. Adam is a prophet of Islam.
A. True
B. False
10. What do puritanism and Islam have in common?
11. Multiple choice. Which of the following beliefs are not shared by Christianity?
A. the Oneness of God
B. Original Sin
C. Te day of resurrection
D. Life after death
E. The virgin birth of Jesus

(key to quiz below)

5 pillars of Islam

Shahadah, profession of faith, is the first pillar of Islam. Muslims bear witness to the oneness of God by reciting the creed “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This simple yet profound statement expresses a Muslim’s complete acceptance of and total commitment to Islam.

Salah, prayer, is the second pillar. The Islamic faith is based on the belief that individuals have a direct relationship with God. The world’s Muslims turn individually and collectively to Makkah, Islam’s holiest city, to offer five daily prayers at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening. In addition, Friday congregational service is also required. Although salah can he performed alone, it is meritorious to perform it with another or with a group. It is permissible to pray at home, at work, or even outdoors; however it is recommended that Muslims perform salah in a mosque.

Zakat, almsgiving, is the third pillar. Social responsibility is considered part of one’s service to God; the obligatory act of zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes payment of fixed proportions of a Muslim’s possessions for the welfare of the entire community and in particular for its neediest members. It is equal to 2.5 percent of an individual’s total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses.

Sawm, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ordained in the Holy Qur’an, the fast is an act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control whereby one’s sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the poor. Ramadan, the month during which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking and other sensual pleasures is obligatory from dawn to sunset. Ramadanis also a joyful month. Muslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal, iftar, perform additional nocturnal worship, tarawih, after evening prayer; and throng the streets in moods that are festive and communal. The end of Ramadan is observed by three days of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast. Customarily, it is a time for family reunion and the favored holiday for children who receive new clothing and gifts.

Hajj, the pilgrimage to Makkah, is the fifth pillar and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity in the world. For those Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah, the Hajj is a once in a lifetime duty that is the peak of their religious life. The Hajj is a remarkable spiritual gathering of over two million Muslims from all over the world to the holy city. In performing the Hajj, a pilgrim follows the order of ritual that the Prophet Muhammad performed during his last pilgrimage.


Key to quiz: 1. Abraham; 2. B, C, A; 3. the Trinity, not just one god; 4. Mohammad; 5. Islam is clustered around the equator in African and Asia and the middle east, Christianity is in north and south America, and Europe as well as southern Africa; 6. False; 7. Mohammad.; 8. 480; 9. true; 10. strict moral code; 11. b, they believe man is tainted but don’t subscribe to the idea of original sin as in Judaism and Christianity.

May 26, 2015, Samuel 2:12-3 (17)

Chuck says Hannah’s prayer is in the form of a psalm. Was Elkanah upset with the lords visit to Hannah when she got pregnant, or is just the use of words here? The Lord said Eli’s two sons were destined to die because of their evil because the sons stole from the burnt offerings. The Chinese are more practical as their offerings go to the priests and the poor.  We have problems here with corruption in the temple. The priests had to be fed from the offerings. How else were they supported. Samuel was sent to be trained by Eli to be a priest even though Eli had failed with his own sons. It was all set up as a kosher offering and the two sons used the three pronged fork to defile it. Samuel means name of god. Chuck V. Related how at his wife’s death the nurse related how warm the auto around here was as opposed to the coldness that offends death. Chuck T related how his daughter in her illness awakened him one night with a glow about her and said she felt the prayers surround her. Mark said that when kidneys shut down strange things frequently happen to the body, but people report emotional things happen as their loved one died. When the lord says Eli should restrain his sons, but what should he have done. Isn’t is very hard to control your sons or daughters as they mature? Were their misdeeds really Eli’s fault, and if so, why did God entrust Samuel to Eli’s instruction?

We talked about the essay on Islam. The following link will let you see the article. This source tries to be inn Islam, it is a good work if you avoid committing a sin. Can Islam continue to grow despite the limits on personal freedoms. Will that rise up to bite them. A friend of johns said Islsm is the perfect religion with its five pillars. Include Toms test.


May 19, 2015 Samuel 1-2 (19)

Today we move into Samuel which is the prelude to the era of kings of Israel. It is the intermediate place between the era of judges and kings. Mark indicated that this probably occurred sometime around 1020 BCE but was not written down until the seventh century BCE  The books of Samuel are part of the Deuteronomistic history, a series of books, namely, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings that constitute a theological history of the Israelites. Jewish tradition was supposedly written by Samuel but was composed in the period 630-540 by combining a number of independent texts of various ages. Samuel was the last of the judges and it is interesting that he is a descendent of Korach who led a revolt against Moses. It, of course, did not succeed and Moses crushed it modestly. There was not a real revolt against Samuel other than the people demanding a king ultimately. In some sense, you could say that Samuel put Israel together after years of just being separate tribes each going their own way. Samuel’s father was Elkanah who was one of the most wealthy and respected members of the Levite tribe. His mother Hannah was childless for many years and was a modest and god fearing woman. She was a prophetess and made a promise that if God gave her a child, she would dedicate him to God. He would grow up as a nazarite, not unlike Samson’s mother had done. When she became pregnant she prayed the wonderful prayer of praise that appears in Samuel chapter 2. Samuel came at a critical time in Jewish history. During the period of the judges, the people in the 12 tribes were divided and were sometimes fighting each other, witness what we read about how the tribe of Dan was disciplined in Judges. The Philistines, the enemies of the Jews, took advantage of the situation and attacked the Jews. The holy town of Shiloh where the sanctuary was located was destroyed. As we read in Judges, the people did what they wanted to without much regard for Israel and they adopted the Gods of the people like the Philistines. This took them away from God. Islam discusses the judge prophet Samuel, but not by name and says that he was influential in naming Saul as king of Israel. Elkanah had two wives and Hannah was childless. She was scorned by his other wife who made things very difficult for Hannah. We discussed the whole issue of childless women today and in some sense how sensitive the writers at that time were to the plight of Hannah. Today, there is much more acceptance of women who either choose not to have children or who may not be able to have children, but in the days of Samuel, it was important for many reasons for women to have children, not the least of which was the economic reasons. It seems that there are lots of themes that get carried out in this Deuteronomist tradition, one of them being that women are childless until God decides to give them a child who will become an important leader, witness, Sarah and Abraham, Samson, John the Baptist, and not Samuel. We had a short discussion about religions and Tom noted that about 1/3 of the world’s population are Christians, while 1/5th of them are Muslim. Supposedly, Christians hold the largest amount of wealth, about 55%, while Muslims hold about 6%. To repeat Mark’s point about who does the publicity for someone, Samuel had some devoted people that did a good job of enhancing his role in the life of the Israelites.

May 12, 2015 Judges 17-20 (18)

Today, we finished Judges, a weird book and one that we will always wonder what the purpose was of including it. Maybe to account for a period of time and to prepare for the coming of the age of kings for Israel. It lasted about 100 years and was marked by periods of seeming lawlessness and disregard for the God of Israel.

May 5, 2015 Judges 16

Today we discuss chapter 16, the story of Samson ad Delilah. Earlier, there was mention that God was somehow using Samson’s affair with Philistine women for some good purpose, other than u.timately killing many of them when he pulled down the building in which they were ridiculing Samson and his God,I can think of no good reason to do this.  Didn’t Samson understand how bad Delilah was For him?  I guess he was blinded by her charms long before they pulled his eyeballs out. I guess the moral of 5his story is to not become infatuated with someone from the emeny, which enemy you are trying to defeat. For all the power God gave Samson, it seems to be one of many failed judgeships. It can be characterized as many things in Judges are, “and every man did as he chose.”