Here are some of my latest comments relating to some of the articles and video projects found at The Forerunner. Check back for my thoughts on eschatology, world missions, God’s Law and Society, pro-life activism, evangelism testimonies, Neo-Puritanism, revival and spiritual awakening, church history, and so on. Use the navigation sidebar to see Forerunner Weblog articles by category or see the blog archive for the category listing.
Was chiliastic Ebionism responsible for the rise of Islam?
We all know that Islamic jihad wants to bring the nations of the world into a holy war in order to bring about the eschatological events taught by the prophet Muhammad and later Islamic Scriptures.
But where did this idea originate?
One angle that few ever mention is that Mohammad was originally influenced by a sect of Judaizer-Ebionite heretics that had survived into the 8th century. One of the interesting features of Christianity is that prior to AD 70 AD, the leadership was almost wholly Jewish. The entire New Testament was written by Jews. But after AD 70, the only writings (except possibly 1 Clement) are by Gentile Christians. There are frequent mentions of Jewish Christians by the Church Fathers, but no writings by them.
The background for early Christian premillennialism was a heretical form of Jewish eschatology. Christian premillennialism, or chiliasm (from the Greek kilo, meaning “thousand”) seems to have originated with a first century heretic named Cerinthus, who taught a form of Judaistic-Ebionite-Gnosticism, denying the full deity of Jesus Christ and teaching an earthly millennial kingdom, which was a common Jewish eschatological view.
Cerinthus flourished around the end of the first century around Ephesus. There is a story related by Polycarp to Irenaeus that Cerninthus came into conflict with the Apostle John. Cerinthianism was opposed by Irenaeus as form of Gnosticism. The followers of Cerninthus later became known as the Nazarenes or the Ebionites. By the end of the second century, the Church Fathers began to see Cerinthianism as synonymous with premillennialism. Later Church Fathers, such as Jerome and Eusebius recognized this connection.
Church father Irenaeus, who himself was a premillennialist, wrote in Against Heresies in the second century:
Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God (Against Heresies, Book I, 26).
The concern of Ireneaeus against the Cerinthians and Ebionites was not their eschatology, but their Judaistic heresies and their denial of the divinity of Jesus.
This goes counter to the grain of the dispensationalist “messianic” movement. Dr. Michael Brown even wrote a book in which he accuses the Church Fathers of being anti-Semitic because they opposed the Judaizers. (Go figure). I admire Dr. Brown for many of his other stances, but he has mischaracterized the Church Fathers here. They were against the Judaistic heretical influences on the fledgling Church, but were not anti-Semitic.
However, a more likely interpretation is that the sects of Christians that tried to maintain “Jewishness” succumbed to anti-Trinitarian heresies and legalism. They became known as the Nazarenes and the Ebionites. They gradually disappeared, but in the 8th century some Ebionites survived in Arabia.
Islam is essentially a Dynamic Monarchian heresy, teaching one God, but denying the Trinity. The root teaching of Islam places Jesus in a very high role as an important prophet and even states that He was born of a virgin and will come again in an eschatological role as a judge. So Islam isn’t a new religion. It’s actually a form of “Jewish Christianity” that gradually became more heretical as time went by and then incorporated Mohammed’s teachings. One of the first to believe in the prophethood of Muhammad was an Ebionite monk named Waraqah ibn Nawfal, the distant cousin of Mohammad. He is said to have been a pious man with deep knowledge of the Christian scriptures.
Islam and Chiliasm
Chiliasm was an extreme version of premillennialism that existed in the early Church, but was almost universally condemned after the third or fourth century. But most people don’t know that the post-Quranic hadiths, which are considered Scripture by Muslims, actually teach that Jesus will return at the end of the world, not as God, but as a prophet who will judge the world.
Isa is the Arabic name for Jesus and his return is one of the signs of the end-times in Islamic eschatology. Although Muhammad is the preeminent Prophet in Islam, Jesus is the only Prophet who is said not to have died but rather raised up by God other than Idris (Enoch) mentioned in the Quran. It is written in one of the hadiths:
Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).”
A premillennial Christian website describes the reign of Jesus in Islamic eschatology to be a 40-year precursor to a other events that will culminate in the Resurrection of believers to Paradise:
The Reign of Jesus will follow the defeat of Gog & Magog. Jesus will proclaim Islam to be the true religion and all Christians will convert. All other religions will be eliminated. All crosses will be broken, and all pigs will be exterminated. Jesus will be the sole ruler on earth, heading up an Islamic theocracy. He will be a just ruler. Every harmful beast will be domesticated. There will be abundant rain and plentiful harvests. All weapons of war will be converted into tools of agriculture, and there will be world wide peace. (All of this imagery is taken from the book of Isaiah.) The reign of Jesus will last for 40 years. He will go to Mecca regularly to perform rituals of pilgrimage. Twenty-one years into His reign, He will marry and begat children. Nineteen years later He will die. He will be buried in Medina next to Mohammad where He will await the Day of Resurrection like all other humans who have died. When Jesus dies, all believers will also die peacefully and gracefully. (This is the Islamic equivalent of the Rapture — that is, the removal of all the righteous from the world.) Unbelievers will be left behind to indulge their passions.
The Muslim view of Paradise is one of earthly pleasures focused on feasting and fulfillment of sexual desire.
It is a perfect environment where all desires are granted and fulfilled. People are richly adorned and live in mansions. They are involved in never-ending feasts. Perpetual virgins are awarded to the faithful. Ordinary Muslims receive 40 each. Martyrs who died in jihad receive 72 each. No matter how many times one of these women engage in sex, they become a virgin once again. The sexual desires that were strictly limited on earth are unleashed in Paradise. This prospect serves as an incentive for young men to give themselves as suicide martyrs in the cause of jihad.
Here’s a Muslim website that claims that the Ebionites became some of the first followers of Islam.
According to Biblical scholar Barrie Wilson, the main features of the Ebionite’s theology can be summarized in the following:
- Jesus was a created human and not divine.
- Jesus was a teacher.
- Jesus was the expected Messiah.
- The Law of the Torah must be observed.
- Theirs was the earliest congregation of followers to Jesus, starting from around 30 AD.
Several church fathers described how Ebionites rejected The Divinity of Jesus and The Atoning Death of Jesus. According to those church fathers, the Ebionites emphasized the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus. They considered Paul an apostate of the law who corrupted Jesus’ message.
What is really significant, from the Muslim point of view, is Dr. Barry Wilson suggestion that, the Ebionites survived until the Muslims’ conquest of the Middle East, when they [the Ebionites] were absorbed in Islam.
This can help explain why the Christians of Syria and Egypt were converting to Islam en-mass in the 7th. century AD. It is possible that, people who were in contact with Ebionites or, were Ebionites themselves, recognised as truthful, the revelation of the Quran.
Here is a similar claim from a heretical liberal Christian site
(Read between the lines here. Although this is from a liberal site, there is some good information.)
Constantine & Imperial Christianity
The conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312 launched not only the western Catholic church – but also the increasing marginalization of Christians who hailed from the eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa. This schism became apparent through multiple church conclaves, starting even before the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and extending through the 451 Council of Chalcedon.
Suppression of Christian schismatics of North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean by the orthodox church of the west would pave the way for the quick and widespread acceptance of Islam in the 7th century. Separated from its eastern roots, Christianity would lose its intellectual energy and fervor.
The homeland of Jesus, the scenes of the Pauline missions, the home of the great defender of the Nicene Creed, the birthplace of Augustine – all would soon abandon their Christian heritage for the more accommodating world of Islam.
Muhammad & Islam
The prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca in AD 570; he died at 62 years of age in 632. At age 25, Muhammad married a distant relative, the widow Khadijah, after managing her caravan trade. They were married for 25 years and had 6 children. Later, Muhammad would endorse polygamy and took several wives – with an estimated 12 added wives and concubines and one resulting son.
While pagan polytheistic worship prevailed in Arabia, Muhammad had many contacts with Christians and Jews due to his involvement with the caravan trade. He came to desire the application of a more modern concept of a single deity for Arabs as well – initially born from his great respect for the Jewish and Christian traditions.
Around age 40, Muhammad spent much time in meditation. He retreated to a cave and began to receive instruction from archangel Gabriel. Initially, he confided only in his wife Khadijah and her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal, a Christian (who compared Muhammad’s experience with that of Moses).
This cousin was a Nassara, essentially an off-shoot of the earlier “Ebionites” or Judeo-Christians who did not accept the full divinity of Christ. Waraka bin Nawfal reportedly was the Ebionite Christian bishop of Mecca and performed the marriage between Muhammad and Khadijah. His influence on Muhammad was instrumental, helping to generate the Qur’an.
After he professed to be a prophet, his favourite concubine would become Miriam, a Coptic Christian. Miriam was also the mother of Muhammad’s favored son Ibrahim.
The following is from Rusty Thomas, director of Operation Save America. Former director, Flip Benham, used to call the phenomenon described here as “the same fist, different glove.” There is no such thing as neutrality. Pluralism is a myth. You cannot beat something with nothing. Christianity, Islam and Western Humanism cannot all co-exist peacefully in the same culture.
Commentary on Muslim Attack on Gay Bar in Orlando
By Rusty Thomas
America now finds herself in a quandary. The two of the three most beloved groups that are cherished, protected, and adored have clashed (abortion advocates being the third). A Muslim committed a terrorist attack against a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. Tragically, there are many casualties.
Up to this point, abortion, homosexuality, and Islam have lived in relative peace. They have been united in one aspect, they all hate Christ and His church. The more they succeed, however, in attacking and marginalizing Christianity in our country, the barrier that separates them increases. Eventually, they will turn on each other and destroy themselves. This has happened countless times throughout the pages of Holy Writ.
When a nation rejects the God of the Bible and commits blatant idolatry, one of the consequences is He will lift His hand of protection and turn you over to the false gods and their violent, perverse tendencies. If the nation continues to double down in its rebellion to God, Civil War is the final hammer blow. We are well on our way to seeing this come to pass under our watch.
Psalms 9:17 warns, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Isaiah 60:12 declares, “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, And those nations shall be utterly ruined.”
Is there an option? Mercifully, there is, “if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it” (Jeremiah 18:8). “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
Christ or chaos, which will it be America? Choose wisely, the barbarians are at the door to provide your reward for all the abominations you have committed against the Lord your God! Repent and believe the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
The Samson Syndrome
For Christians who remain silent and inactive when it comes to the abominations savaging our nation, may I humbly suggest that they have contracted the dreaded “Samson Syndrome.” While Samson was storming the gates of hell to deliver Israel from the tyranny of the Philistines, Judah bound their own champion and turned him over to their common enemy that was seeking their enslavement.
Perhaps, they felt he was too radical and had become an embarrassment to the established order. Regardless, it was this betrayal that inspired Samson to break his bonds and slay over a thousand Philistines with a jaw bone of a donkey. Their mentality was we tolerate the evil the Philistines were imposing on them.
“Besides, if the truth be known, it is Samson who is the actual problem. He can’t live like this and somehow we can, so do us all a favor, take him and leave us alone.”
When the church cowers in her duty to be faithful ambassadors of Jesus Christ to secure His interests in the earth, we inadvertently strengthen oppressors, prolong the suffering of victims, and place our brethren who are fighting the battle in greater danger. Our silence and inaction feeds the beast that is devouring our nation.
Theodore Roosevelt stated:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat (Citizenship in a Republic, “The Man in the Arena”).
It is time for the church to shake off the Samson Syndrome and awaken to our Kingdom responsibilities. We must arise to be salt and light in our depraved nation. Instead of spending our time criticizing the doer of deeds that is on the battlefield, how about we come down from the ivory towers of our church buildings and join the fray in Jesus’ name?
See more articles by Rusty Thomas at Operation Save America.
Adapted from the Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership
“Good people are obligated to support the lesser of two evils.”
Is this true? Should we support the lesser of two evils? No, for four reasons.
4. The lesser of two evils is still evil.
3. It rewards bad behavior. We cannot achieve victory by rewarding politicians who vote against our principles.
2. It demoralizes our own people. “There is no difference between the parties.” Therefore, non-voting is on the rise.
1. It simply isn’t true. In most cases, the alleged “lesser” evil actually is the “greater” evil because it is more of a danger to liberty and freedom.
If you find yourself, in your own estimation, not supporting a “good” candidate, but a “lesser evil,” you must ask yourself, “Is this lesser evil, really the lesser?”
It isn’t the devil with a pitchfork that you should fear, it’s the one who comes smiling, preaching in a suit and tie, telling you everything that you want to hear despite his past behavior. “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” ~ 2 Cor 11:14
Which is more evil?
George W. Bush gave us
• Medicare Expansion
• Patriot Act
• No Child Left Behind
• Increased funding to Planned Parenthood.
This led to the loss of House and Senate GOP seats in 2006
Barack H. Obama gave us
• Medicaid Expansion
• Stimulus Bill
• Patriot Act
• Common Core
• Increased funding to Planned Parenthood.
Obama led to The GOP gaining seats. Insurgent candidates such as Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio beat establishment GOP candidates.
The greater evil gives us something to organize against. The lesser evil causes us to accept the status quo and as a consequence lose influence. Remember that once most politicians are elected – especially most Republicans – their goal is to do as little as possible, to take no controversial stands and offend no one, in order to get re-elected. Special interest groups represent voting blocks that politicians use to hold on to their power.
Electing Donald Trump in 2016 would be a giant step backwards for influence of Christian principles at the grassroots level. Imagine Trump with a Democrat Congress negotiating and making “deals.” Now imagine Hillary Clinton with a solid resistance and a growing number of freshman Republicans in Congress who represent conservative Christian values.
The Biggest Lie in Politics is designed to separate legislative session from election season causing voters to forget the results this has always produced in the past.
“To achieve victory, first you must seek it.” ~ Howard Phillips
You may have seen this meme in various forms. Spurgeon isn’t talking politics specifically here, but he applies this principle consistently when he does venture into preaching on the political involvement of Christians.
Someone has asked: “Is politics dirty, then? Shall the Christian completely abstain? Stay out? Is there no hope?”
Well, yes and no. The conclusion Spurgeon comes to in the quotes below is that it is unusual to find a Christian politician, even in a nation with a state-church such as England, who will stand for the Gospel without compromise. The truth is that we can’t ever look to politics as a savior. If we do, we will always be disappointed. Salvation comes from personal regeneration. Then we should evangelize our family. Then we should work to build strong churches. Finally, the culture will be transformed and politics will follow. Our slogans should be, “No King but Jesus” and “Politics fourth!”
How do we apply this to the current election? Many Christians are going to support Donald Trump because it is “the only way of stopping Hillary” and “If we lose the Supreme Court, we lose our liberty for the next generation or more” and so on. Well no, we lost our liberty when we lost our salt and hid our light under a bushel. We lost our liberty when we lost our families. We lost our liberty the moment the church began preaching a compromised Gospel.
This isn’t an admonition to stay out of politics. On the contrary, it is a strong warning not to trust politics to be the answer. Even so, choosing the lesser of two evils when a third or fourth choice is the best representative of the Gospel in public life shows a idolatry of the political system. We must be more prepared to lose with the Truth — or the closest imperfect human representative of the Truth — than we are to “win” with the gross promise of first principles. It is only in standing for Truth as “Athanasius against the world” that we win in the long run.
Finally, I submit that we lose because many Christians have a pessimistic long term view. “The world is getting worse and worse. Why polish the brass on a sinking ship. And the only course is to run up our debts until the Antichrist takes over the world.” We have greater faith in Zeitgeist than in sound biblical hermeneutics.
The good news is we will win, but not in an instant. If we have faith in a mighty, conquering God, He will in time will put all things under His feet, not only when He returns, but progressively as His people obey His Word.
What follows are some excepts from Spurgeon’s sermons as quoted in this piece by Joel McDurmon.
But there were senators, there were forums of political discussion, there were the places where the representatives of the people make the laws, was there no room for Christ there?
Alas! my brethren, none, and to this day there is very little room for Christ in parliaments. How seldom is religion recognised by politicians!
Of course a State-religion, if it will consent to be a poor, tame, powerless thing, a lion with its teeth all drawn, its mane all shaven off, and its claws all trimmed— yes, that may be recognised; but the true Christ and they that follow him and dare to obey his laws in an evil generation, what room is there for such?
Christ and his gospel—oh! this is sectarianism, and is scarcely worthy of the notice of contempt. Who pleads for Jesus in the senate? Is not his religion, under the name of sectarianism, the great terror of all parties? Who quotes his golden rule as a direction for prime ministers, or preaches Christ-like forgiveness as a rule for national policy? One or two will give him a good word, but if it be put to the vote whether the Lord Jesus should be obeyed or no, it will be many a day before the ayes have it. Parties, policies, place-hunters, and pleasure-seekers exclude the Representative of Heaven from a place among representatives of Earth.
To what then do we look? We answer, we believe that national peace, and the security of our great cities, can only be guaranteed for a long future, by the recognition of the religion of Jesus Christ, and the wider spread of its principles.
In his Manifesto of 1848, Karl Marx wrote: "The theory of the communists may be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of private property."
"You reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so: that is just what we intend."
Have We Adopted Marxist Ideas?
To this end, he advocated:
- Abolition of property rights and application of all rents to the state.
- A heavy progressive graduated income tax.
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance by taxing inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of emigrants and all rebels to the state.
- Centralisation of credit in banks of the state, by means of a national bank with an exclusive monopoly on money supply.
- Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
- Factories and instruments of production to be owned by the state; wilderness areas to be nationalised by the state.
- Equal obligation of all to be put to work by the state.
- Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country, by more equable distribution of the populous over the country.
- Free and compulsory education for all children in state schools.
Abolition of Religion
Karl Marx wrote: "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of man is a requisite for their real happiness." In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote, "Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion and all morality."
Marx wrote: "I wish to avenge myself against the One who rules above."
"I shall build my throne high overhead,
cold, tremendous shall its summit be.
For its bulwark – superstitious dread.
For its marshal - blackest agony."
Karl Marx wrote to his father: "New gods have to be installed."
In his drama Oulanem, he wrote:
"The hellish vapours rise and fill the brain,
till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed.
See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me.
For me beats the time
and gives the signs
evermore boldly I play the dance of death."
Marx loved to quote the words of Faust: "Everything in existence is worth being destroyed."
"If there is a something which devours,
I'll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins
– the world which bulks between me and the abyss,
I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses."
"Without violence, nothing is ever accomplished in history."
Chosen for Hell
"Thus Heaven I've forfeited, I know it full well. My soul, once true to God, is chosen for hell."
To Bring This World to Ruins
In his poem, Human Pride, Marx, wrote:
"With disdain I will throw my gauntlet full in the face of the world,
and see the collapse of this pygmy giant whose fall will not stifle my ardour.
Then will I wander god-like and victorious through the ruins of the world.
and, giving my words an active force, I will feel equal to the Creator."
Karl Marx's good friend, Frederick Engels wrote: "Karl Marx is a monster possessed by ten thousand devils."
Robert Payne, a friend of Karl Marx, wrote: that Karl Marx "had the devil's view of the world and the devil's malignity. Sometimes he seemed to know that he was accomplishing the works of evil."
God is Our Enemy
Karl Marx wrote that he wanted to: "Hurl gigantic curses on mankind." Marx quoted positively from Paris Communard, Flourens, who declared: "Our enemy is God. Hatred of God is the beginning of wisdom."
The Family of Karl Marx
Karl Marx's family life was a disaster. He had seven children by his wife, Jenny, and another by his housemaid Helen Demuth. One of his daughters, Eleanor, married Edward Aveling, a Satanist known for his blasphemous lectures on "The wickedness of God", and for his poem to satan. Three of Karl Marx's children starved to death. Five of his children died prematurely. Two of his daughters committed suicide, as did his wife. Karl Marx wrote that he did not love anyone and that he was entirely comfortable with hatred.
He referred to the Slavic people, like Russians, as "ethnic trash" and prophesied that: "their very name will vanish." He dismissed Mexicans as "lazy", and Negroes as "frozen at pre-historic levels" who would never contribute anything worthwhile to society.
War Against the Family
In the Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote: "We destroy the most hallowed oblations, when we replace home education with social."
Atheism and Hatred
Marx's dedicated disciple, Vladimir Lenin, declared: "Atheism is the natural and inseparable part of Communism. We must hate. Hatred is the basis of Communism".
War Against God
Under Vladimir Lenin, one of the slogans of the Soviet Union was: "WE FIGHT AGAINST GOD to snatch believers from Him." A prominent slogan of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was: "Let us drive out the Capitalists from the earth, and God from Heaven."
Hatred of God
Alexander Solzhenitsyn declared: "The world has never before known a godlessness as organised, militarised and tenaciously malevolent as that preached by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, Hatred of God is the principle driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental, or marginal, to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve its diabolical ends, Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails a destruction of faith and nationhood. Communists proclaim both of these objectives openly, and just as openly put them into practice."
"They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves of depravity." 2 Peter
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
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The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
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