No, A Christian Cannot Recognize Muhammad as a Prophet

Islam has an ally in the Roman Catholic Church. Allah, the god of Islam, is the same as Jehovah, the God of the Bible, according to Pope Francis. Wheaton College Professor Larycia Hawkins appealed to Pope Francis when she donned a Hijab to show “support” for Muslims and asserted that the god of Islam and the God of Christianity are one and the same (my response). Now Craig Considine, a Roman Catholic Sociologist, argues that Christians can recognize Muhammad as a legitimate prophet of God—similar in status if not quite equal in status with Jesus in this article.

Considine attempts to justify his recognition of Muhammad as a true prophet by defining a prophet as “a messenger of a Higher Power who works on earth to bring justice and peace to humanity.” As a Roman Catholic Considine it is not surprising that he does not appeal to scripture to support this definition of a prophet, but it would have been helpful if he would have provided at least some explanation of how he arrived at this definition. Even if we do not appeal to scripture, Considine’s definition of a prophet proves to be untenable. The assumption seems to be that anyone who seeks “to bring justice and peace to humanity” is a messenger from a “Higher Power,” that is, a prophet. What if a member of the occult becomes a humanitarian leader? Would Considine be willing to recognize a devil worshipper as a prophet? Probably not. Clearly Considine’s definition of a prophet is too broad.[1]

But the basic problem with Considine’s argument is not his definition of what a prophet is. His basic problem is that he is not a Christian. Considine anticipates that his recognition of Muhammad as a prophet  might cause people “to question my credibility as a self-professed Christian.” He explains, “People might say, ‘Jesus is the only way. You’ve turned your back on God. You’re no longer Christian.’” It does seem that Considine is indeed contradicting John 14:6 by teaching that Muhammad offers a way to God in addition to Jesus. However, Considine more clearly demonstrates that his claim to be a Christian is false in statements that do not have to do with how he views Muhammad.

Considine denies the plenary inspiration of scripture, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the sinlessness of Jesus Christ; all essential doctrines of the Christian faith. He writes, “Do I believe in everything that Prophet Muhammad said according to the Qur’an and hadiths? No, I don’t, but I also don’t believe in everything that Jesus or Moses said according to the Gospel or Talmud. Things kind of cancel out, even out. I accept aspects of both, but neither in their entirety.” And a little later he writes, “My mind tells me the Jesus and Muhammad have equally valuable messages. Both men shared some “truths,” but let’s be real: they were human beings. They were prone to error. They made mistakes. They missed some things.”

Christians do not reject parts of scripture, but heretics such as Marcionites and Deists do. Christians do not deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, but heretics such as Arians and Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Christians do not deny the sinlessness of Jesus, but the heretical Modernists/Liberals do. Considine is not a Christian according to the judgment of the Creeds of the Church (including the ecumenical creeds that Rome claims to adhere to).

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[1] The Heidelberg Catechism explains the biblical teaching that Jesus Christ is the “chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed . . . the secret counsel and will of God concerning . . . redemption.” A prophet is primarily a spokesman of God, sent by God to speak the truth about salvation through Jesus Christ. Muhammad did not speak the truth of God about Jesus Christ as the only Savior; Muhammad was not a prophet of God.

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Our blog writer is Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, MI. If there is a topic you'd like Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us

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Donald Trump’s Problematic Claim

Donald Trump emphatically claims that he is a Presbyterian. During a campaign appearance in Iowa he reportedly said, “Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian.” Mr. Trump makes this claim based on his upbringing in the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, New York—denominationally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). More recently Mr. Trump has been affiliated to some degree with the Marble Collegiate Church in New York. The Marble Collegiate Church is part of the Reformed Church in America. However, Mr. Trump admits that he is not an active member of the congregation, and he continues to identify himself as a Presbyterian. But there are serious problems with Mr. Trump’s claim to be a Presbyterian.

One problem with his claim is that he does not appear to be a member of any Presbyterian congregation. Some in the PC-USA, not happy with some of Mr. Trump’s political positions, have called for him to be put on trial and possibly excommunicated from the denomination. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the denomination, explained that “church judicial action could not be taken against Trump because ‘there is no factual evidence that Mr. Trump currently holds membership in any local congregation.’” Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), one of the official creeds of the PC-USA, requires membership in the “visible” church—a local congregation. By forsaking membership in a local congregation Mr. Trump removed himself from the church. He is no longer truly Presbyterian.

Another problem with Mr. Trump’s claim to be a Presbyterian is that he has made statements that demonstrate that he holds to beliefs that are contrary to Presbyterian doctrine. Here is a an excerpt from a recent interview of Mr. Trump by Jake Tapper that aired on CNN:

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you because one of the potential attack lines has to do with an answer you gave . . . months ago when you said that you've never asked God for forgiveness. Do you regret making that remark?

TRUMP: No, I have great relationship with God. I have a great relationship with the evangelicals. In fact nationwide, I'm up by a lot—leading everybody. But I like to be good. I don't like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don't do a lot of things that are bad. I try and do nothing that's bad. I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think. And I have a very—

TAPPER: Always or just now?

TRUMP: I have a very great relationship with God and I have a very great relationship with evangelicals. And I think that's why I'm doing so well with Iowa.

TAPPER: The life you have now when you say that you try to do good, that sounds very different from decades of tabloid media coverage in New York in which some of your wilder escapades were—

TRUMP: No, I'm talking about—I'm talking about over the last number of years.

TAPPER: OK.

TRUMP: You know—I mean, I'm leading a very good life. I try to lead a good life and I have.

Mr. Trump claims that he has attained a state of perfection in which he does not sin! This is contrary to Presbyterian doctrine which teaches that in this life believers are never able to be sinless. The WCF states that the corrupt nature which was handed down to all mankind from Adam and Eve “during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated: and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin” (WCF, 6.5). The Heidelberg Catechism, which is also included in the PC-USA’s Book of Confessions in Lord’s Day 44 asks, “But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?” and answers, “No; but even the holiest of men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience.” And because believers continue to sin both the WCF and the HC teach that it is necessary for believers to ask God daily for the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus’ Christ (WCF, 11.5; HC, LD 51).

Although members of the PC-USA strongly condemned Mr. Trump for some of his political positions, there is no evidence of a similar outcry against his theologically unsound statements. This is sad but unsurprising since even the media describes the PC-USA as a “generally liberal Mainline Protestant denomination.” The denomination is more interested in taking political stances to support “same-sex marriage, comprehensive immigration reform, and the Obama administration’s recent trade deal with Iran” than it is in teaching the truth that men are sinners who need the daily forgiveness of sins. Politically Mr. Trump and his former denomination are at odds with each other, but theologically they seem to have much in common—and in at least one respect Mr. Trump and the PC-USA stand together in perfect unity; neither is truly Presbyterian.

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Our blog writer is Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, MI. If there is a topic you'd like Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us

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When Men Think They Are Wiser Than God: Population Control In China

Late last year many news outlets reported China’s replacement of its one child policy with a two-child policy. Some who heard this news might have thought that this signaled a fundamental, positive change. However, even though Chinese law has slightly changed so that couples are now permitted two children, things are mostly the same as before. The Chinese government remains proudly convinced that it, not God, is sovereign over marriage and the family. The Chinese government continues to reject and deny the wisdom of the biblical mandate to mankind to be fruitful and multiply. Being fruitful and multiplying, which is good according to God, is bad according to the Chinese government. So-called “overpopulation” in the thinking of the government is detrimental to the economy and to the environment. So rejecting the wisdom of God the “wise” men” in power in China continue to seek to control the population of its citizens which means more of the same when it comes to forced abortions and sterilizations. With its “new” two-child policy the Chinese government will bring continued misery to its people under the judgment of God.

Adam Taylor does not mention God’s judgment on China in this article published by The Washington Post, but it is what he describes when he writes about the “human suffering” caused by China’s one-child policy. He points first of all to the forced abortions and sterilizations that that “were reported as recently as 2012.” Most people would probably agree that a society where rulers are authorized to drag a seven month pregnant woman to a hospital to have her child ripped out of her womb, is a troubled society.

In Chinese society boys are valued more than girls. Allowed only one child, parents kill their daughters determining that they will only keep a boy. Taylor writes, “This has had a remarkable effect on Chinese society. According to the latest census, men outnumber women by at least 33 million.” Millions of single men are unable to find wives, and the government understands this is a serious problem. Taylor reports that “polyandry (one woman with multiple husbands) has even been mooted as a potential solution to the problem.”

Because of the one-child policy an inordinate amount of children have no siblings. Taylor reports that this has led to what is called the “4-2-1 phenomenon” where a single grandchild is born to two parents and four grandparents. Taylor writes, “These children were once criticized as pampered brats, but the financial strain on them as their family grows older is a whole different problem.”

The one-child policy has also had a devastating impact on parents who lose their only child and are unable, perhaps due to age, to have any more children. Taylor writes, “For parents, who place all their hopes for the future on a single child, the death of that child can be especially devastating.”

Most western countries do not have population control laws—yet. But the idea that the world is plagued with “overpopulation” is gaining in popularity. And already in the United States there are some who defend China’s one-child policy as a good idea that was simply wrongly implemented. Surely the US could implement a one-child policy in a more humane way. Surely our rulers are even wiser than the rulers in China, and therefore, also wiser than God. Such thinking leads to men attacking God and his will with regard to marriage and the family, which in turn leads to the spread of misery under the judgment of God.

As the people of God it is important that we take note of these developments so that we are mindful of the age we live in and ever look for the coming of Christ. We are also warned—and we need this warning—never to think that we are wiser than God. Let us continue to trust that God is right and wise in how he has designed marriage and the family and in telling us to be fruitful and multiply.

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Our blog writer is Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, MI. If there is a topic you'd like Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us

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We Fly Away

We fly away.
A whole year is again past, and we can hardly comprehend it.
Time incessantly advanced. It did not speed up because of our impatience, nor did it slacken its pace because of our haste and because we were so busy. And now we have come to the end of the year. It seems as but yesterday when we wished each other a happy new year.
Truly, we flew away.
Much has happened, many things and in many forms. There was rejoicing and complaining, singing and crying, praying and cursing, hoping and despairing, feasting and gathering in the house of sorrow. There was rejoicing over infants who were born into this world, and there was pain because our way led to the grave as we walked behind the bier of a loved one. There was weariness and misery, drudgery in vanity, struggling and battling onward without victory. There was war; and there was an end to war, but without peace...
But there is light!
There remains a rest for the people of God.
Whosoever believes already partakes of that rest—the rest of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the rest of the forgiveness of sin, the free free favor of God, of liberty, and of the rest of God's eternal home...
Whosoever flies away with that rest in his heart views the rapid tempo of his earthly life in another light.
He flies away, yes, but toward the eternal house of his Father.
To the rest of God's covenant.
Joyful hope!

 

We Fly Away, a meditation from Peace for the Troubled Heart by Herman Hoeksema

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The Rock Whence We Are Hewn

Coming late January 2016.

This book accomplishes several purposes on behalf of the defense and maintenance of the gospel of grace with its accompanying Christian life of separation from the world of the ungodly.

First, the book recalls to the members of the Protestant Reformed Churches their doctrinal and historical origins: “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn” (Isa. 51:1). Their doctrinal origins were the confession of salvation by sovereign grace, embedded in predestination, and insistence on a holy life of separation from the world of the ungodly—the antithesis. 

Second, the book exposes the popular theory of common grace as heretical. This theory consists of a well-meant offer of Christ to everyone in the preaching—preaching that has God failing to save many to whom he is gracious with a saving grace and that has those who are saved saved by their acceptance of the otherwise inefficacious offer.

Third, the book is evangelistic. With urgency, it calls, not only Reformed and Presbyterians, but also all Protestants back to their origins in the sixteenth-century Reformation of the church—the rock whence they are hewn: the gospel of salvation by sovereign, particular grace and antithetical holiness of life. And to martyrdom. 

By Henry Danhof & Herman Hoeksema, edited by David J. Engelsma
544 pages, hardcover

This book will be sent to Book Club members.

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Allah is Not God

God is “the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the confession made by Reformed Christians in Q/A 26 of the Heidelberg Catechism. This is an essential part of our answer to the question, who is God? This also helps answer the question, is the God of Christianity the same as the God of Islam? This question has come to the foreground of public consciousness because of Wheaton College’s decision to suspend a professor for asserting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Many commentators treat this as a difficult question. But it is not. The true God is the Father of Jesus Christ. Any god that is not the eternal Father of Jesus Christ is a different god, therefore not God at all.

With Christmas approaching it is worth remembering that Christmas is a uniquely Christian holiday. We celebrate the wonder of the eternal Son of God taking “upon Him the very nature of man” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 14). Muslims do not celebrate Christmas because they do not embrace God’s Son. If we say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God because both religions are monotheistic, then we lose Jesus Christ and have no reason to celebrate his birth.

For more on this I point you to Albert Mohler’s explanation that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Here is an excerpt:

A statement made by a professor at a leading evangelical college has become a flashpoint in a controversy that really matters. In explaining why she intended to wear a traditional Muslim hijab over the holiday season in order to symbolize solidarity with her Muslim neighbors, the professor asserted that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Is this true?

The answer to that question depends upon a distinctly Christian and clearly biblical answer to yet another question: Can anyone truly worship the Father while rejecting the Son?

The Christian’s answer to that question must follow the example of Christ. Jesus himself settled the question when he responded to Jewish leaders who confronted him after he had said “I am the light of the world.” When they denied him, Jesus said, “If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:19). Later in that same chapter, Jesus used some of the strongest language of his earthly ministry in stating clearly that to deny him is to deny the Father.

Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Christians worship the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and no other god. We know the Father through the Son, and it is solely through Christ’s atonement for sin that salvation has come. Salvation comes to those who confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God has raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). The New Testament leaves no margin for misunderstanding. To deny the Son is to deny the Father.

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Our blog writer is Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, MI. If there is a topic you'd like Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us

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Christmas Joy

Fear not!

Tidings of great joy, indeed, I bring!

Was it Gabriel, the angel that standeth before God, who so suddenly burst forth in the darkness of the night from heaven's star-studded canopy, and appeared upon the peaceful scene of the shepherds keeping watch over their flock?

We know not.

But the shepherds, we know, instead of expecting a message of gladness and salvation, instead of rejoicing at the appearance of one of the heavenly spirits that are sent for the service of the elect, were filled with dismay. A great fear filled their hearts. They were sore afraid. The sudden appearance of the heavenly messenger wrought within them a dreadful apprehension of some great evil impending...

They feared with a great fear. Generally it was believed by the people that when one saw an angel it meant death for him, a belief that may be regarded as scarcely more than a popular superstition. But here was more than the mere fear of death. It was the fear which sinful mortals experience when they are brought face to face with the glory of the Most High.

Thus the text explains it.

When the angel of the Lord appeared and stood with them in dazzling splendor of heavenly light, the glory of the Lord shone round about the shepherds. The halo of glory the heavenly messenger brought down with him from on high, the brilliant light that with him pierced the darkness of the night in the fields of Ephratah, was a reflection of the inexpressible glory that radiates from the very face of the Lord. For this angel, whether it was Gabriel as is not improbable, seeing it was he who carried the tidings of the expected birth of Christ and his forerunner to Zacharias and Mary, or whether it was another of the heavenly spirits, came from the very presence of the Lord. From heaven he hailed, where the angels always see the face of our Father which is in heaven. And dwelling in God's heavenly presence, the heavenly glory of the Lord was reflected in their appearance. Even as the face of Moses, the mediator of the old dispensation shone with a similar reflection of the glory of the Lord when he came down from the Mount of God, so this angel suddenly radiated into the darkness of the night an effulgence of divine glory. Where he stood there beamed forth the glory of the Lord! It was a reflection of that glory which, beaming forth from God's presence, is the radiation of the pure beauty of all his virtues, of his holiness and righteousness, of his perfect goodness, and justice. Somehow the heavenly light that shone in the darkness when the angel appeared to the shepherds was vibrant with the very presence of the Lord of glory...

Do we wonder that the shepherds were sore afraid?

To read the full meditation as it originally appeared in The Standard Bearer, click here.

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Lutherans and Romanists on the “Path to Full Communion”

On Oct. 30, 2015 the news service of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America announced the release of a document entitled “Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist.[1] The introduction explains that the declaration draws on 50 years of dialogue between Papists and Lutherans and “commends 32 agreements on church, ministry, and Eucharist for ecclesial recognition . . . Further . . . it identifies the remaining differences and sketches some possible way forward.”

The stated goal of the declaration is to “move us significantly forward on the way to full communion.” The document calls attention to 2017 as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, an anniversary not to be celebrated as God’s work of purifying his Church, but rather an anniversary that signifies “deep divisions” that “now calls us to the continued work of reconciliation for the sake of the gospel and our witness and work in the world.”

The 118 page Declaration makes two things abundantly clear. One is that the Roman Catholic Church is not interested in making any fundamental changes to her doctrines or practices. This is not surprising as Rome has made this abundantly clear for (nearly) 500 years since the onset of the Reformation. Secondly, the Declaration demonstrates that the ELCA is an apostate denomination, which explains why she is interested in reconciliation with Rome.

Hypothetically Reformed churches are not opposed to reconciliation with Rome, if she were willing to be Reformed. But Rome continues to repudiate the Reformation. Therefore, the ELCA’s work to reconcile with Rome demonstrates that the denomination is no longer Reformed in any meaningful way. The denomination is even willing to recognize the pope’s legitimacy and even the primacy of the Pope. The document states, “the bishop of Rome bears witness to the Christian message in the wider world . . . A question still to be fully explored is how he may bear this witness on behalf of both Lutherans and Catholics (emphasis mine).”

The document uses many euphemisms to describe this reconciliation process between Rome and the ELCA. The two sides are moving forward. They are setting aside church-dividing issues. They are cooperating for the sake of a unified witness. But none of this can cover up the fact that at the end of the journey there is only one destination—Rome. The ELCA is almost there.

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[1] I must give credit to Christian News which published the news release in its Nov. 9, 2015 edition. In this edition CN also published without comment an article by a Roman Catholic priest explaining the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Why would CN publish an article promoting purgatory without any comment even though the publisher is opposed to the doctrine? I believe that the publisher views purgatory as an absurd doctrine that demonstrates how corrupt Rome is. Therefore, he let the priest demonstrate the folly of Rome without seeing the need to comment. If the publisher’s intent was to expose the absurdity and corruption of doctrine in Rome, and therefore the folly of Protestant churches engaging in ecumenical talks with Rome, he succeeded completely.

 

Our blog writer is Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, MI. If there is a topic you'd like Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us

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Thanksgiving Offering

Lord, we would bring unto thee a gift of thanks.
But how shall we? What shall we render to the Lord? How shall we appear before thee so that thou wilt not despise us and cast us off? What is the sacrifice of thanksgiving that is pleasing in thy sight and upon which thou wilt look down in love and good pleasure?
A broken spirit. A broken spirit and a contrite heart.
It alone can please thee, who hast no respect to what is merely external, who despisest the foolishness of insignificant and sinful men as they exalt themselves and would requite thee for thy goodness and grace, who desirest truth in the inward parts.
A broken spirit! A spirit cured of the stiffnecked pride and haughtiness of sin. A contrite heart! A heart that is crushed and overwhelmed in deep humiliation, because of a deep sense of God's greatness and power, of his righteousness and holiness, and of our own insignificance and smallness, our corruption and our guilt.
A heart filled with the sorrow after God.
It alone is the sacrifice, O Lord, that is pleasing to thee.
We will, then, approach thee, bringing this sacrifice of thanks.

"Thanksgiving Offering" - Meditation by Herman Hoeksema in Communion with God
http://rfpa.org/products/communion-with-god

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