Muslim Militance

Not all Baptists are alike. Now that I have stated the mother of all understatements let me spin off that principle.

Not all Muslims are alike. There are some genuinely peaceful ones. I have a number of acquaintances in the middle east who are. Some are passive or neutral about their faith. They practice their faith and are not concerned about persons of other faiths. They tolerate different faiths. A segment is militant about their faith believing it to be the only true faith. Among these are those who believe in their faith so strongly they want to annihilate persons of other faiths. These form the nucleus of the terrorist organizations. It is for them a matter of religion.

It is a struggle as old as Abraham’s sons Isaac and Ishmael.

The Bible says Abraham was promised a son who would extend his lineage through the ages as a great race.

Sarah, his wife, was 90 years of age when Abraham was given the promise. Because her age made the likelihood of childbearing improbable she gave her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham for her to bear the son. This was not an uncommon practice in the era. Hagar bore Ishmael.
The Bible teaches Ishmael was not the child of promise. Sarah was the one by whom the heir was to be born. At the age of 100 Sarah bore Isaac whom Scripture says was the rightful descendent through which the promise was to be kept.

The story as told in the Bible Book of Genesis (11:29 -25:10) was written around the second millennium B.C. In the Bible narrative Abraham recognized God as the Almighty Lord and Author of the covenant by which the Hebrews would become a mighty nation.

Fast forward. A young Arab named Muhammad was impressed that the Jews and Christians had a book and the Arab people didn’t. He called them “the people of the book.” Actually the Bible is intended for all people and contains wonderful promises to the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael (Genesis 16:10 & 21:20).

Muhammad wrote what is known as the Koran, the holy book of the Muslims. Semitic scholars agree there was no evidence of the Koran until 691 A.D., 59 years after the death of Muhammad. Much of what is known of Muhammad is based on texts that were written 300 years after his death.

The version of Abraham’s descendants varies greatly in the Koran and the Bible. In the Koran Ishmael becomes the child of promise and his descendants, the Arabic people, the chosen people.

Both accounts can’t be right. For the militant Muslims this is the point to be defended. If the Bible is right the Koran contains error. Thus, the militant defense. Again I want to note not all Muslims are incited to Jihad over this issue but to some it is so vital as to merit a holy war to defend the honor of the Koran and its teachings. Osama Bin Laden is exhibit “A” of the zealous Muslims who are motivated by their religious beliefs to defend the honor of the religion by militant means against unbelief. Those persons in Iraq now decrying the presence of the Coalition Forces in Iraq are of this school of thought. Their zeal prompts them to insist on a Muslim State governed by the Koran. In Iraq there are many Muslims who are appreciative of what has been done to free them from their suppressive ruler who was himself, at least in name, a Muslim.

The holy books are the nexus of the conflict for those Muslims who are militant.


With the Olympics garnering such public attention it is natural that Mormonism will be highlighted in a very favorable manner. Recently Dr. Joe McKeever of First Baptist Church in Kenner, Louisiana wrote the following on the subject. “The January 21, 2002, issue of “The New Yorker,” carries an article on Mormonism by Lawrence Wright. This religion will be much on display in Salt Lake City in a few days, as the Winter Olympics get underway. After giving a history and some impressive data on the church’s membership and influence, Wright tackles the shaky historical foundation for this religion. That’s where his story takes off. No one disputes that in 1835, Joseph Smith–the founding bishop of Mormonism–purchased some Egyptian mummies and papyri that were touring America. Since no one could read the hieroglyphs, Smith announced that the writing on the papyri was actually “reformed Egyptian,” and proceeded to give it his own translation. According to him, these were writings from the patriarch Abraham while in Egypt, revelations that established the preexistence of the soul, declared a plurality of gods, and excluded Blacks from the priesthood. “The Book of Abraham” became one of the foundation stones of the new church. Interestingly, Smith left behind notes on this ancient language in his own handwriting–which provided historians with the smoking gun, so to speak.

After Smith died in 1844, the papyri were sold and were thought to have burned in the Chicago fire of 1871. They turned up a few years ago in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and were restored to the LDS church. Innocently, the leaders called in four noted experts on Egypt to examine the documents. Far from being the writings of Abraham, the papyri contained nothing more than instructions for burying the dead. There was no “Book of Abraham.”
A few church members resigned in disgust. A book in my library defending the Smith translation (the authors are Mormon) says the present papyri is not the material used in the Book of Abraham, but are merely fragments and therefore untrustworthy. “New Yorker” reporter Wright says, however, the fact that Smith left behind “a grammar” of the “Egyptian language” in his handwriting knocks down this theory.

What about this? A Mormon defender dismisses it all. “Very few scholars even believe that Abraham ever lived,” Hugh Nibley says. Amazing. The issue, of course, is not Abraham but the foundation of the Mormon church. Or more precisely, whether it has a foundation. That religion stands on the shoulders of a prophet named Smith who may have pulled one of the great cons of any century. The question is whether anyone cares. Is anyone asking the hard questions?

Robert Millet, a former dean of religious education at BYU, is quoted in the article as explaining, “Being a Mormon is really a matter of faith.”

What about Joseph Smith’s deceit? Millet directs us to check out Bible heroes such as Jacob and Abraham, who both lied and deceived. This is true. We respond, however, that being a Christian is not about the integrity of the people in the Bible, but about Jesus and the trustworthiness of our Scriptures. Being a Mormon has everything to do with the integrity of Joseph Smith. Or the lack of it. We can only hope some people who read the “New Yorker” article will be moved to ask some hard questions. And to stick around for the answers. My limited experience with members of the Mormon religion has shown that most do not like these questions, and that anyone raising them becomes labeled as an enemy of their faith. Far from being their enemy, I should like to be known as a friend of the Truth.” Joe McKeever

Morals Matter

On September 11, 2001, more than the Twin Towers collapsed. A false philosophy fell also. Just as a counterfeit concept was gaining acceptance the tower tragedy exposed it as fraudulent.

In that moment we were dramatically reminded morality matters. Our society was being fed a diet of relativism. The theory that there are no absolutes was being popularized. Situational ethics were being propounded as acceptable.

Proponents of relativism teach there are no absolutes. Right and wrong, good and evil, if there are such things, are relative. Under the banner of tolerance they have declared one idea is as good as another and all are to be accepted as equal. Among youth this is causing difficulty in that some students are saying slavery in America and Nazism in Germany were appropriate because well intended people thought them to be. Regardless of who thought them right they were evil.

Ask a proponent of there being no absolutes if they are sure there are no absolutes and they might well answer, “Absolutely.”

Just as the concept that there is no objective difference in good and evil was catching on the terrorist taught us in an instant there is. The word “evil” once more emerged in public dialogue.

Some savants of New Age spiritualism as well as devotees to Eastern mystical religions assert sin is not real and there are no wrong choices. Darwin spawned the idea “wickedness is no more a man’s fault than bodily disease.” Apply that to the events of September 11, and try to get an understanding of the day. How can anyone now say evil is no one’s fault? The idea to destroy the towers and kill thousands crawled out of the dark cave of some devious mind.

The bleakest period in the history of ancient Israel was described as a time “When all did that which was right in their own eyes.” That is postgraduate relativism.

How can anyone advocate good and evil are interchangeable? “Exhibit A” that refutes this deception was demonstrated in New York. Evil guided the planes into the towers. Good drove the rescue workers, firefighters, and police up the shafts in attempts to save lives. Absolute evil and absolute good faced one another and good stared down evil.

Relativism is judgmental, exclusive, and partisan.

Relativism says if you believe in absolutes you are wrong. That makes it judgmental.

Relativism in saying there are no absolute truths excludes your belief in absolute truths and that makes it exclusive.

Relativism excludes all persons who are non-relativists from their supposedly “right thinking party.” That makes it partisan.

This is a time for assessment. We each need to face the mirror reflecting our personal morality and ask if we have bought into rationalism and relativism. Parents need to use this as a teaching time. Obviously the parents of a young William Penn taught their son there are absolutes. In adulthood he framed the issue in these words: “Right is right though all men be against it and wrong is wrong though all be for it.”

Mini Morals Matter

A noticeable change in the moral climate of our society has occurred. A variety of factors have contributed to it.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was a catalyst. When he postulated it he was concerned that some would not only relate to physical science but expressed apprehension some would apply it to social science. Today it has been expanded into a philosophy of relativism. This means there are no moral absolutes. Right and wrong are relative.

Philosopher Fredrick Nietzche declared God is dead. Others have since joined his chorus. He concluded that since God does not exist morality is a matter of personal choice. With God out of the game we become our own umpire, our own judges. That is why there is so very little moral consensus.

Our PC climate has removed the Bible from the public forum as a standard of morality. Without this long standing compass everyone decides for him or her self which direction is north; what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong are a matter of personal opinion and the only opinion that matters is “mine.”

Yet another influence in the change in our moral climate is insistence on tolerance. The word “tolerance” has even been more sharply redefined. For years it meant I value you and your opinion to which you are entitled but I disagree with it. That is called negative tolerance and is considered narrow minded.

Positive tolerance is the concept that one opinion is as good as any other and should not be rejected.

If God is dead, moral relativism true, and positive tolerance allowed then there is no basis upon which any action by a person can be criticized or condemned. Really?

If true ethnic cleansing, slavery, polygamy, pedofilia, incest, cloning, euthanasia, terrorism, murder, adultery, and rape would garner no moral outrage. After all those are acceptable ideas to those advocating and/or practicing them. Apologies should be offered to Hitler, Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kazinski, Osama bin Laden, and a host of other radicals. They considered their ideas as good as any, even better.

A brilliant British journalist, C.S. Lewis, acknowledged the root of his denial of the existence of God. He said he professed there was no God because he knew if he acknowledged God existed he would have to confess his guilt before Him. That, he said he did not want to do because he was enjoying his adultery too much. As long as he professed there was no God he did not have to admit to guilt.

It is not adultery in every case but denial is an evasive tactic practiced by many. To admit there is a God means there are moral norms. He is a God of absolutes and ultimates. His created laws of nature prevail for our comfort. Because of the law of gravity we know we are free to jump up because we will come down not float off in space. His moral laws are based on what is good for us and therefore afford comfort. When the rules of the game are known everyone has a standard. Moral laws are no more relative than the rules by which football is played. They are not relative but they are relevant.


It is time to rally around your favorite school’s mascot and cheer the team on to “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.”

I love creative mascots. Lions, Tigers, Gators, Devils, Wildcats, Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets, etc. are all good but lack creativity that sets them apart. Consider the challenge afforded cheerleaders for the following schools.

Rosemont College in Pennsylvania surely must have rose and white as their colors to go along with their nickname of the Rosemonsters. There is an oxymoron for you. I wonder if their cry is “Prick “um thorns.”

The Banana Slugs of the University of California, Santa Cruz pose a challenge for creative cheers. That reminds me of the snail who drove a supped-up sports car with a big “S” on each door and the hood. When asked why he said he was tired of hearing how slow he was as a snail and wanted to hear them say, “Look at that “S’ car go.”

Right here in Atlanta Oglethorpe University has a clever and aggressive mascot, the Storming Petrels. Looking up a definition of a petrel you will find it is an ocean bird known as Mother Carey’s chicken. It also means one whose coming portends trouble and strife. Translated, “We’re gonna whip you.” With all the bird mascots in Atlanta it is really a very good one.

The Dustdevils of Texas A & M International University in Laredo would meet a formidable opponent in the Golden Gusties of Gustavus Adolphus.

From Cairo, Georgia come the Syrup Makers with their syrup bottles filled with rattling coins.

A contest for the weakest image might feature the Alices from Vincennes High in Indiana against the Morsels of Morse College.

My alma mater had a lion as its mascot. A student contest was conducted to name our new lion. Our school colors were green and gold like Green Bay. Lions are sort of golden color so someone suggested painting a green dotted line down the back of the lion and naming him “Tarealong.” You know, “Tarealong the Dotted Lion.” Fortunately, Roomie won out as the final name. Roomie was a popular biology prof and SEC football official. His untimely death gave the name an advantage.

The Thunder Chickens of Berkeley California intimidates opponents by playing bagpipes. Surely not “Amazing Grace.” However, can bagpipes play anything else?

Delta State University conducted a student poll to select a PC mascot. They decided on “The Fighting Okra.” Wait until the Okra Growers Society hears about that. That is a slippery issue. You can get mugs, T-shirts, hats and other inspiring paraphernalia. Delta State is located in the Mississippi Delta which is popular cotton country. I can’t imagine how okra beat out cotton. How about the Blazing Boll Weevils? They would make a great bowl team.

The most shocking one is the Zizzers of West Plains High School in Missouri. They are represented by a lightening bolt.

To all, regardless of the name by which you are know: “GO TEAM!”