UNITY OF VANCOUVER
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Islam Absorbs Jewish Christianity
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
May 30, 2021
All Rights Reserved
God is here. Let us join together and breathe in the very presence of a Mother/Father God and accept that all around us is abundant, life giving provision. In this moment of breathing, you are one with God, God within you and God around you. Open your mind and heart fully to the awareness of God and let that presence touch your soul in any way that you have need; health, vitality, abundance, healing, oneness, even needs that you know not of. Open yourself in this moment of communion until you feel nothing stirring within or around you – until there is no longer you and me and God – until there is only God, as healing silence.
Now that you are established in the consciousness of the one presence and power, make room within your consciousness for this healing presence to move into the lives of your loved ones. Simply let go of your ‘thoughts of worry and concern, and let a feeling of serenity radiate through you by knowing that ‘something that cannot be described or explained, is moving in their lives as healing. . In the silence.
Silently pray saying: “Today I let God touch my life with health, vitality and healing so that I might be a unifying expression of love, joy, and peace in the world. I accept today as best day of my life, for nothing but the best is coming my way. I know that that ‘something that cannot be explained, is moving in my life as my life.”
As we close our time of prayer, each of us returning from our own chamber of oneness, each having kept our divine appointment with God, and connecting with the spirit of God, in our individual moments of communion.
Let us now join our consciousness together as one through the spirit of the indwelling Christ and speak together the Prayer For Protection. “The light of God surrounds us; the love of God enfolds us; the power of God protects you; the presence of God watches over you; Wherever you are, God is and all is well.”
Let the experience of this time of prayer guide you throughout this day, renewing your energy as you honor each breath of life. Amen.
ISLAM ABSORBS JEWISH CHRISTIANITY
The question we are exploring in this lesson is: What finally happened to Jewish Christianity after the Fall of Jerusalem?
History tells us that Jewish Christianity established itself in the area east of the Jordan River, from Mt. Hebron north of Galilee to the regions just east of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea and as far south as Nabataea and northern Arabia. Jewish Christian Sects continued to exist until at least the fifth century, falling prey to divisions among themselves concerning issues that are largely obscure to us today.
Like the Orthodox Pauline Christians and the Gnostics, after a period of time even the Jewish Christians distorted the teachings of Jesus and His original community and family. We see this in the evolution of the concept of the ‘true prophet.’
In the beginning this might have involved nothing more than the conviction that Jesus was the prophet predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-18. But as time passed the popular image of Jesus progressed into a more elaborate and exalted view. As a result, the image of Jesus became more like that of an eternal Christ who manifested himself across time to Adam, Abraham, and Moses. Yet despite the opposition that existed between Jewish Christianity and Gnosticism, some Gnostic tendencies still infiltrated Jewish Christianity including the idea that this present physical world has been given to the devil. (Homilies 20.2, Panarion 30.16.2) This pessimistic viewpoint may have been a consequence of the Jewish Christians perception of their own declining influence within Christianity. (Many people who would primarily identify with Gnostic teachings today most likely would not identify with a primary teaching that the physical world is inherently evil.)
Jewish Christianity might have continued as an obscure group within a growing number of Christian sects except that Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire after Constantine became Emperor in 312 CE. At this time Christianity transitioned from a persecuted group into the first state sponsored religion. At this time, points of view that were deemed ‘inconvenient’ from the perspective of the Roman Empire were weakened, discarded, or purposefully exterminated. Also at this time, the emphasis on Pacifism and other so called ‘heresies’ were no longer tolerated. (The original Greek meaning of the word ‘heresy’ simply meant ‘to go one’s own way.)
Constantine certainly helped the Orthodox cause because he helped to suppress all of the non-orthodox forms of Christianity with the full force of the Roman army. Thus, Jewish Christianity suffered intense persecution under the Emperor Diocletian and then Emperor Constantine. Jewish Christianity seems to completely disappear sometime in the fifth century but there is evidence of continuing Ebionite ideas in Islam, a religion that exploded into existence in the seventh century and that continues as an influence in the world to this day. It appears that the Ebionites left an impact, a line of teachers, in the religion that sprang up in the areas where Ebionism was the strongest.
Then, early in the seventh century a camel driver in Mecca named Mohammed had a vision and heard the command: “Recite! Recite!” When he began reciting, the words he produced became the Qur’an, or the ‘recitation’ that is the basis for Islam. The religion announced by Mohammed called ‘Islam’, literally means, ‘surrender.’ That is, ‘surrender to God’. It was a strict form of monotheism that rejected polytheism as well as the Christian Trinity and also any ascription of divinity to Mohammed himself. The followers of Mohammed were armed with the slogan, “There is no God but Allah.” (God) (Qur’an 2:163, 23:91). Islam opposed idolatry and the feuding clan wars that pervaded Arabia at that time. Within Mohammed’s lifetime, Islam was firmly established in Arabia. One hundred years later, it had swept westward through northern Africa into Spain and spread eastward to the border of India. One of the streams incorporated into Islam was the remnants of Ebionism, which also influenced the development of Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam.
Orthodox Islam differs from Orthodox Christianity in endorsing some distinctly Ebionite positions. Like the Ebionites, Islam rejects all use of alcohol and has from the beginning. (Qur’an 5:90-91). The Qur’an endorses the idea that the scriptures have been tampered with and extends this idea from the Old Testament to include the New Testament as well. According to Islam, the Jews broke their covenant with God and “changed words from their original context and so they were to be admonished.” Allah made a covenant with the Christians as well as with the Jews but they too forgot part of what they were told and as a consequence Allah “Stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the Day of Resurrection.” (Qu’ran 5:12-5:14) According to Islam, both Christians and Jews have distorted the message that God sent to them saying, “The Christians have not only forgotten the revelation they received but by divine decrees cannot even agree among themselves on what the message is!”
All this sounds very similar to the complaints of late Prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus and the Ebionites who condemned the distortion of the oral history of Judaism by those who returned from exile. They all said that ‘false texts’ have been inserted by the ‘lying pens of the Scribes', who also changed words from their original context and deleted true texts. This was somewhat confirmed when the Dead Sea Scrolls produced two completely different versions of the Book of Isaiah. One is in the Old Testament but the other was a written down version of the much older Oral Teachings that continued to be taught by John, Jesus and many others whose families hadn’t been part of the Babylonian captivity.
There are many favorable references to both John the Baptist and Jesus in the Qur’an. Jesus is said to have performed many miracles, including healing the sick, raising the dead, creating birds from clay. This miracle is not recorded in the New Testament at all but is written in the Qur’an 5:110. (See the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior 36) This doesn’t mean that Jesus was a divine being, however It only means that he enjoyed divine favor. Jesus is quoted in the Qur’an 5:116 as rejecting his own right to be exalted to the status of being an equal partner with Allah. The Qur’an 5:72, 5:73 also explicitly rejects the Christian belief in the Trinity. Anyone who ascribes to be ‘a partner to Allah’ is repeatedly denounced in the Qur’an. This includes the Old Testament idea of being a ‘co-creator with God’ and the concept of God as ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost’. Islam sees ascribing partners to Allah as wrongheaded.
One significant difference of Islam from Ebionism and early Jewish Christianity is that Islam accepts the idea of the virginal conception of Jesus by his mother Mary through a divine power of some sort (Qur’an 19:17-22). Again this doesn’t imply that Jesus was divine only that divine favor was bestowed upon him and his message.
There is also within Islam a constant emphasis on the need to support that poor. The Islamic summary of the Law of Moses in the Qur’an 5:12 gives 3 elements:
1. Establishing Allah’s worship
The command to support the poor is repeated often in the Qur’an 2:43, 2:215, 24:56. The refrain to give to charity occurs almost as often as the command to support the Messenger of God (Mohammed). It is one of the pillars of Islamic belief but it doesn’t occur in such a radical manner as it did in the early Jewish Christian community. The poor are to be supported but there is no suggestion in the Qur’an that you must give away everything you own and become one of the poor yourself. You are to help the poor. The Qur’an doesn’t suggest that you join them. Thus, we see many of the Ebionite themes directly referenced in Islam: support for the poor, rejection of alcohol, and the idea of the corruption of Jewish and later Christian scripture. We also see several marked differences. The following ideas and teachings of Jesus are not found in the Qur’an at all.
1. The most obvious difference is the rejection of Pacifism by Islam.
Islam began among pastoral nomads who were people who kept and herded animals as their primary means of livelihood. Islam spread through warfare and retains that image to this day. The Qur’an 2:216 states: “Warfare is ordained for you.” Qur’an 5:1 states: “The beast of cattle is made lawful unto you for food, except that which is announced unto you herein.” These kinds of passages are intrinsic to Islam. Meat eating and warfare have a divine sanction.
NOTE: Of the three major Middle Eastern religions emerging in this period of history Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Islam today is the only one that still practices animal sacrifice. Thousands of Islamic pilgrims converge on Mecca and slaughter animals in the belief that this is ordained by their religion and with the approval of Islamic authorities. The purpose isn’t forgiveness or appeasement of God. Animal sacrifice is ordained so that the meat can be donated to the poor to use for food.
Among Muslims today you will find scant evidence of vegetarianism, pacifism or concern for animals except within the words of the Qur’an itself. The Islamic environment doesn’t contain pacifist vegetarian elements and in fact seems to be positively hostile to such elements. Regarding the teachings about animals in Islam and moving past the approval of meat consumption and animal sacrifice in Islam, animals have a unique status in the Qur’an unequaled in the New Testament. According to the Qur’an, animals are manifestations of God’s Divine Will, signs or clues that believers will be provided for by God (Qur’an 45:3-4). The Qur’an 17:44 says that “All animals praise and worship Allah. The beasts pay adoration to God and the birds in flight praise him as well.” (Qur’an 22:18; 24:41.) “Allah has given the earth not just for human domination but for all his creatures.” (Qur’an 55:10). In Islam, animals are regarded as having souls just like humans for we read: “There is not an animal in the earth, nor a creature flying on two wings, but they are people like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book of our Decrees. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” (Qur’an 6:38) It would appear that animals can be saved on the Day of Judgment; for if people in the nations are summoned to judgment (Qur’an 45:28) and the animals are a people just like humans, then it would seem that the animals too will be there on that day.
Sufism is a broad label within Islam akin to identifying a Christian as a Protestant. It doesn’t refer to a formal order but rather a tendency of thought that has several different branches; there are different Sufi orders but no single organized hierarchy. Sufism picks up and develops the central facet of Islam which is ‘surrender.’ This takes up the Ebionite idea of intensification of the law and going beyond what tradition requires. Sufi asceticism goes beyond renouncing what is unlawful. All good Muslims are to do that but it includes renunciation of what is lawful and finally everything else except God. Many Sufi’s identify with the poor and practice poverty. Others have lived communally in such a way that a Sufi practitioner is ordered to have no private property at all, akin to the communalism practiced by the first Christians. The Ebionites owned everything in common. An early female Sufi saint who died in 801 prayed that her motivations would exclude even the hope of reward in Paradise or fear of hell. She said, “O Lord, if I worship you out of fear of hell, burn me in hell. If I worship you in hope of paradise forbid it to me. And if I worship you for your own sake, do not deprive me of your beauty.” She also practiced vegetarianism All animals would gather around her. Another Rabi asked why animals came to her and not to him and she said, “Well, you eat of their flesh why shouldn’t they be afraid of you.” Not all Sufi’s are vegetarian but this is the primary tendency. Some became vegetarian after contact with Hinduism and some avoid killing even insects. For the Muslim mystic, a close relationship with the animal world is not at all amazing, since every creature praises God in its own voice and he who has purified his soul understands their praise and can join them.
The poetry of a 15th century Islamic Mystic named Kabir says,
They are Moron and mindless fools
Who don’t know Ram in every breath.
You rampage in, knock down a cow,
Cut her throat and take her life.
You turn a living soul into a corpse.
And call it a holy rite.
Pandits read Puranas, Veda,
Mullas learn Muhammed’s faith
Abir says, both go straight to hell
If they don’t know Ram in every breath.
Fast all day,
Kill cows at night,
Here prayers, there blood
Does this please God?
Sufi’s express extraordinary interest in Jesus and have many recorded sayings of Jesus and stories about Jesus found nowhere else in Christianity. Their image of Jesus is a man who lives in extreme poverty, disdains violence, loves animals and is vegetarian. It is clear that an earlier tradition is being drawn upon rather than creating a new tradition and that earlier tradition describes both John The Baptist and Jesus as vegetarian but have no ax to grind either way. They appear to report facts as they recorded them without judging whether the action was good or bad. It is simply what they believe John or Jesus did.
For example: In the book ‘The Precious Pearl’, we find this story of Jesus, “Learn a lesson from the Messiah Jesus, for it is said that he had no purse at all, that he was dressed in the same woolen garment for twenty years and that in his travels he had only a small mug and comb. One day he saw a man drinking with his hand, so he threw the mug from his hand and never used it again. Then he passed by a man running his fingers through his beard, so he threw away the comb from his hand and never used it after that. He used to say, “My feet are my riding animal, my houses are the caves of earth and my food is its plants and my drink its rivers. What riches are greater than this, O sons of Israel? Eat barley and wild onions, but beware of bread made from wheat, for you will not be grateful for it.”
Sufi writings report that Jesus also said, “My food is hunger, all my thoughts are fear of God; my dress is wool; my warming place in winter is the rays of the sun; my candle is the moon; my steed is my legs; my food is fruit that springs from the ground; I go to bed and have nothing and arise without anything; and yet there is no one richer than I.” Jesus said that “One’s own anger brings about God’s anger towards oneself.” Sufi stories show Jesus being kind to animals saying, “Nobility is no more than humble service to the Creator and kindness to all creatures.” This image is compatible with the lifestyle of the Jewish Essenes. The teachings of Jesus, Jewish in their origin, in the end became elements of Islamic Mysticism.
MEMORIAL DAY MEMO: THOMAS JEFFERSON vs. the MUSLIM WORLD
Most Americans are unaware of the fact that over two hundred years ago, the United States declared war on Islam, and Thomas Jefferson led the charge! At the height of the 18th century, Muslim pirates were the terror of the Mediterranean and a large area of the North Atlantic. They attacked every ship in sight and held the crews for exorbitant ransoms. Those taken hostage were subjected to barbaric treatment and wrote heart breaking letters home, begging their government and family members to pay whatever their Mohammedan captors demanded. These extortionists of the high seas represented the Islamic nations of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers collectively referred to as the Barbary Coast and presented a dangerous and unprovoked threat to the new American Republic.
Before the Revolutionary War, U.S. merchant ships had been under the protection of Great Britain. When the U.S. declared its independence and entered into war, the ships of the United States were protected by France. However, once the war was won, America had to protect its own fleets, thus, the birth of the U.S. Navy. Beginning in 1784 and 17 years before he would become president, Thomas Jefferson became America's Minister to France. That same year, the U.S. Congress sought to appease its Muslim adversaries by following in the footsteps of European nations who paid bribes to the Barbary States, rather than engaging them in war.
In July of 1785, Algerian pirates captured American ships and demanded an unheard-of ransom of $60,000. It was a plain and simple case of extortion, and Thomas Jefferson was vehemently opposed to further payments. Instead, he proposed to Congress the formation of a coalition of allied nations who together could force the Islamic states into peace. A disinterested Congress decided to pay the ransom. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli's ambassador to Great Britain to ask by what right his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens, and why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.
The two future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja had answered: “Islam was founded on the Laws of our Prophet, that it was written in the Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."
Despite this stunning admission of premeditated violence on non-Muslim nations, as well as the objections of many notable American leaders, including George Washington, who warned that caving in was both wrong and would only further embolden the enemy, for the following 15 years, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted to over 20% of the United States government annual revenues in 1800.
Jefferson was disgusted. Shortly after his being sworn in as the third President of the United States in 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli sent him a note demanding the immediate payment of $225,000 plus $25,000 a year for every year forthcoming. That changed everything. Jefferson let the Pasha know, in no uncertain terms, what he could do with his demand. The Pasha responded by cutting down the flagpole at the American consulate and declared war on the United States. Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers immediately followed suit. Jefferson, until now, had been against America raising a naval force for anything beyond coastal defense, but having watched his nation be cowed by Islamic thuggery for long enough, decided that it was finally time to meet force with force. He dispatched a squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean and taught the Muslim of the Barbary Coast a lesson he hoped they would never forget. Congress authorized Jefferson to empower U.S. ships to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli and to cause to be done all other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war would justify. When Algiers and Tunis, who were both accustomed to American cowardice and acquiescence, saw the newly independent United States had both the will and the might to strike back, they quickly abandoned their allegiance to Tripoli.
The war with Tripoli lasted for 4 more years and raged up again in 1815. The bravery of the U.S. Marine Corps in these wars led to the line “to the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Hymn. In addition, they would forever be known as leathernecks for the leather collars of their uniforms, designed to prevent their heads from being cut off by the Muslim scimitars when boarding enemy ships. Islam, and what its Barbary followers justified doing in the name of their prophet and their god, disturbed Jefferson quite deeply. America had a tradition of religious tolerance, the fact that Jefferson, himself, had co-authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, but fundamentalist Islam was like no other religion the world had ever seen. It is a religion based on supremacism, whose holy book not only condoned but mandated violence against unbelievers. This was unacceptable to Thomas Jefferson. His greatest fear was that someday this brand of Islam would return and pose an even greater threat to the United States. This should bother every American today as changes are occurring in the United States that reflect ideas contrary to the United States Constitution and Bill Of Rights that are making Americas much less free.
Here are just a few. The followers of Islam in the United States have brought about women-only classes and swimming times at taxpayer-funded universities and public pools.
Christians, Jews, and Hindus have been banned from serving on juries where Muslim defendants are being judged.
Piggy banks and Porky Pig tissue dispensers have been banned from workplaces because they offend Islamist sensibilities.
Ice cream has been discontinued at certain Burger King locations because the picture on the wrapper looks similar to the Arabic script for Allah.
Public schools are pulling pork from their menus.
The list goes on and on like a death by a thousand cuts, or inch-by-inch as some refer to it, and most Americans have no idea that this battle is being waged every day across America. They don’t realize it until it comes into their community!
By not fighting back against such oppression and suppression of our basic freedoms guaranteed by God and our Constitution and allowing Islamic groups to obfuscate what is really happening, and not insisting that the Islamists adapt to our own culture and ideals of freedom, the United States is cutting its own throat with a politically correct knife and helping to further the Islamists agenda.
Think about this as you celebrate Memorial Day this weekend.
Honor all those who fought and died for us to be free.
Stand up to those who would take away the freedoms that so many died to preserve.
And pray for those who are working to change our country but not for the better.
God bless you and yours.
What do you think?
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