My Modern 95 Theses

500 years ago Martin Luther kick-started the Protestant Reformation with his own 95 theses posted in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. Much has changed in our world since then, and Martin Luther’s protest was a significant moment in improving many things.

But there’s still a lot left to protest about. I’ve chosen my own 95 points of protests about various social, environmental and religious issues relevant to our world today.

Second coming & prophecy

  1. The same revolutionary Jesus Christ who literally restarted how we count history 2017 years ago promised He would come back to earth and restart history again.
  2. The Bible prophecies of Daniel 2 and Daniel 9 give astoundingly accurate predictions of future events, culminating in Jesus first and second comings. Dead sea scrolls demonstrate authenticity. Jesus’ first coming was exactly as predicted, as were major world events through to now. One event still outstanding: Jesus’ second coming.
  3. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. John 14:29 – Jesus
  4. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Matthew 24:6 – Jesus
  5. I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:3 – Jesus

(Ir)relevance of the church

  1. Protestant = one protesting against misrepresentations of God and the Bible. 500 years after Luther posted his 95 theses, such protest is very much still relevant. But Christians fighting amongst themselves to be “right” is rather missing the point.
  2. I protest the child sex crimes of the church!
  3. When church is done right, it’s one of the very best things on earth. When church is done wrong, it’s antichrist. – David Asscherick
  4. The aim of most religion is to work to improve one’s standing. Sadly, that’s why religion is losing its relevance – there are far more effective self-help programs out there. Religion IS relevant if it helps us rest in God’s goodness, not pursue our own. He took our bad and gave us His good.
  5. Church done well is a hospital for the sin-sick, not a museum for saints.
  6. Biblically, the church’s role is proclamational not salvational. We have something to SAY but we are powerless to SAVE. Jesus alone saves. – David Asscherick

Separation of church & state

  1. Religious freedom and separation of church and state: one of the best things to come out of the Reformation. Surprisingly, Luther himself didn’t embrace this principle. It’s being obscured again today.
  2. The conservative right wants to impose religious values on society. The liberal left correctly separates church and state. However, the left imposes secularism and makes it difficult to uphold one’s own religious values without being treated – even punished – as a bigot.
  3. When you vote, ask not “Who will legislate my religious values?” but rather “Who will allow freedom of religious values and beliefs, even those opposed to my own, and freedom to express and share religious beliefs and values with others?”

Government & economy

  1. Polarised partisan politics combined with the shallow social media analysis are unravelling Western liberal democracy.
  2. On evidence to date it seems the best of bad options for political systems is liberal democracy. But the jury is out again now thanks to 24/7 (fake?) news cycle, ‘scrutiny’ of social media and plethora of self-serving leaders.
  3. Capitalism: a logical extension of the Reformation and Protestant work ethic. Great source of individual freedom and opportunity, but also basis for huge inequality, populist uprising and global conflict. “Income from labor is about as unequally distributed as has ever been observed anywhere. “ – Thomas Piketty
  4. Given the fundamental selfishness of human nature, it makes sense to legislate on the assumption of homo economicuseven though this presents a less-than-ideal foundation.
  5. I still believe that free market capitalism, with regulatory intervention to protect externalities, is the best of bad options in current circumstances. Only the permanent and complete removal of selfishness and greed will present a better system, but we have to wait for God’s final perfect solution for that.
  6. American exceptionalism only gets off the ground as an idea if the role of government is celebrated (as opposed to minimised) or if the foundational ideology is racist. Otherwise America is just like any other nation, but with a unique set of chance characteristics that happen to put it in a position of global dominance for a limited time.

Salvation & sacrificial atonement

  1. Jesus took the guilt, shame and death that we each deserve so that we could have the abundant life that only He deserves. Amazing!
  2. Jesus on the Cross: the unique story where the hero voluntarily dies for the villain. The best news ever!


  1. The Bible is full of profound and timeless wisdom. Such gems as “do to others what you would like them to do to you.” It’s worth regular reading.
  2. “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.” Martin Luther

Hell & death

  1. Eternal torment in hell: if true, then God is not love but a tyrant. Thankfully, not true. Imported into early Christianity from Greek philosophy.
  2. Ghosts, witches, séances, apparitions, Wicca, etc – all propped up by two wrongs: the myth that the soul cannot die and the real but passing presence of evil supernatural beings.

Health & health care

  1. A vegetarian diet was largely scoffed at just a few years ago. Now it is the rage. 150 years ago Ellen White received prescient health insights and set up a whole demographic for longer healthier living. #AdventistHealthStudy
  2. Affordable universal healthcare saved my life. Thanks Australia!


  1. How can a mother’s rights over her womb trump her unborn baby’s rights to life while after birth, a baby’s rights to life trump a mother’s rights to her breasts and uninterrupted sleep? I’m all for consistency: let’s also prioritise the rights of the unborn child.

Judgmental intolerant society

  1. The moral relativism, ‘tolerance’ and non-judgmentalism of the left unfortunately tends to lead to absolute intolerance and judgmentalism of anything deemed not to fit the new ethic.


  1. Marriage and the Sabbath. Two institutions given by God right at the beginning in a perfect world. Both under extreme attack.
  2. The Sabbath is the most misunderstood gift to humanity. It is an institution of rest. The exclusion of work. Yet for many it is confused as a works-based approach to God. How can: (no work + rest) = work?


  1. “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:22). The prevailing wisdom of the age on sexuality, gender and reproduction is foolishness. – David Asscherick
  2. Arguing for ‘marriage equality’ from an ‘evolutionary origins of species’ point of view has no principled basis for restricting ‘equality’ to two consenting non-related adult humans. From a genetic perspective, ‘marriage equality’ arguments should either let any combination of any number of organisms marry or restrict it to identical twins. Something between those extremes is ‘optimisation’ which negates the whole argument for ‘equality’. I’m all for optimisation. Enough genetic difference (e.g., X & Y chromosomes) yet similarity (e.g., homo sapiens) to optimise life for succeeding generations.
  3. The truest thing about each human’s identity has little to do with their sexual identification or sexual preference. It is that each of us is created in God’s image, and is loved by the Creator of the universe, enough for Him to die for us!
  4. Marriage provides an amazing foundation for a resilient family unit, the building block of a successful society. It is more about fierce uncompromising commitment than about feelings of romance or sexual attraction. Let’s move the conversation to setting the bar high for healthy resilient marriages rather than merely defining legally what marriage is and isn’t.

Gun control

  1. Thanks John Howard for Australia’s gun control. Americans seem to have a hard time figuring out why controlling access civilians’ to personal nukes would be a bad idea.
  2. If you’re going to argue that gun rights are sacred, please articulate a principle that logically differentiates a civilian’s right to bear guns from their right to bear nukes.
  3. The NRA and its ties to conservative politics in the US (actually, both sides for that matter) has totally warped American perspectives on gun violence. One American’s personal stance on never touching a gun speaks volumes: the story of Desmond Doss. #HacksawRidge

Conspiracy theories & polarised discourse

  1. Conspiracy theories are much easier to concoct than accurate explanations of complex realities. Some ‘alternative facts’ may end up proving correct; but there is very little value in peddling conspiracy theories.
  2. Any debate these days tends toward extreme polarised points of view. Truth usually comes with at least two associated error traps often at opposite ends of a spectrum. Slogans and strawmen arguments abound, but wisdom and understanding requires committed engagement.

Inequality & social justice

  1. Thank you Jesus for positively discriminating to assist the downtrodden and disadvantaged.
  2. Act your wage: “People buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like.” – Clive Hamilton, Growth Fetish
  3. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Jesus, Luke 12:15
  4. But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him—how can God’s love be within him? Little children, let us stop just sayingwe love people; let us really love them, and show it by our  1 John 3:16,17

Gender & sexism

  1. The biblical view that I hold is that both genders are of equal value but are created to be different and complementary both ontologically and functionally.
  2. While I don’t believe women should be actively prevented from doing things that men traditionally do, nor valued or remunerated less, I question whether an objective of 50-50 splits or equivalent sameness in all functions and roles is helpful. Men will never be able to perform the incredible functions of women in bringing children into the world.

Climate change & environmentalism

  1. There is overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic global warming is a major global issue. The conservative right, with its ties to the energy and resources industries, has manufactured unreasonable doubt, successfully obfuscating the evidence.
  2. With strong links between evangelicals and right-wing politics, Christians have fallen for twisted logic to believe that humans could not possibly alter earth’s climate.
  3. I’m no leftie, but the left is far more realistic than the right on the diagnosis of climate change, even if not all their proposed remedies are ideal.
  4. Christians take note: caring for the natural environment and animal welfare are very much biblical principles and responsibilities of all humankind.

Foreign policy, immigration & armed conflict

  1. A softer stance on foreign policy happens to be in harmony with biblical principles of “turn the other cheek”, “love your enemies”, and so on. I’m not saying there is never a place for the use of armed forces, but I resonate with stories such as that of Desmond Doss. Far too much is spent on military. #HacksawRidge
  2. Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan as an example of showing open friendship and love to foreigners, who Jesus preferred to call neighbours.
  3. For people who claim to be children of God, having open borders and sharing our wealth and resources makes a good deal of moral sense.
  4. The example of modern Germany, being prepared to take in Syrian refugees, is much more similar to the principles of Jesus than aggressive border protection policies of other Western countries.

Globalisation vs nationalism

  1. Nationalism – putting self first – is against Jesus’ principles of open friendship and sharing. But globalisation can easily entail attempts at coercive central government control.
  2. Globalisation is inherently socially disconnected and isolating. To the extent we embrace global connectedness, we lose local connectedness. We simply do not have the capacity to maintain loving close relationships with that many people.
  3. Christians take note: neither extreme of globalisation nor nationalism is in harmony with biblical counsel and the wisdom of Jesus. How about open, sharing local communities whose open borders are more for the purposes of giving than accumulating and protecting?


  1. The left sees nothing wrong with Islam; while the right sees many things wrong. Yet the right is unable to see own faults. Christians take note: Jesus called out the faults of those who claimed to be God’s followers far more vehemently than He called out the faults of the ‘heathen’ religions outside of Israel.
  2. Jesus continually said good things about Samaritans. He was a friend of the Samaritan; and is a friend of the Muslim today.
  3. The Samaritans were the equivalent of modern day Muslims. Yet somehow Jesus seemed to ignore the hostility of a few of them and focus on the hypocrisy of His own chosen people.
  4. I open my heart, wallet and the place I call home to refugees of all faiths. I’m all for shielding and protecting Muslims, even if not the religion of Islam, or any religion, for that matter.

Morality & law

  1. Finding a basis for moral laws is a philosophically fraught area. It is difficult to argue for any version of foundational morality without appealing to religion (e.g. the Judeo Christian moral law). There does not appear to be any better alternative.
  2. Abandoning the foundation of Judeo Christian law usually diminishes law and order. However, I would only make a pragmatic appeal to a solid foundation of morality rather than attempt to impose religion.
  3. If morality was solely defined by consensus or utilitarian ethics, it seems doubtful that there would always be protection for the basic human rights of minorities or the voiceless – e.g., the unborn.
  4. While I do think that the last 6 of the 10 commandments are the best basis for upholding morals in society, the challenge is finding an appropriate extent to legislate these. For example, it makes sense to outlaw rape, in harmony with the seventh commandment (against adultery), but probably not to outlaw consensual adultery. Similarly, it makes sense to outlaw perjury, but probably not lying about the size of the fish you caught. I can’t think of any reasonable legal application of the commandment against coveting.
  5. To me it seems hypocritical to fight against same sex marriage while not fighting, to the same extent, against the legal provisions for ‘no fault’ divorce. But equally it is hypocritical to claim that opposition to same sex marriage must necessarily be imposition of one’s religion on non-believers.

Personal revival of spirituality

  1. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3
  2. God can be more than ‘proved’ – He can be known and experienced – David Asscherick. See Psalm 34:8
  3. Faith rests on evidence and reason, but God offers more (not less) than this: firsthand experience and personal relationship (Heb 11:1). – David Asscherick
  4. Letting go of self and pride, admitting you were wrong, and continually learning. This is the most liberating way to live, and enables us to grow spiritually.

Suicide, mental health, screen time

  1. There is a direct correlation between the amount of screen time and the decline in mental health of our current generation. – Numerous scientific studies.
  2. Enjoy the outdoors with family and friends but without technology!

Is God real? Creation vs evolution

  1. “In the beginning God.” – the Dawkins delusion, by God (apologies to Alister McGrath)
  2. I’m against pseudo-science. But atheists who are respected scientifically get away with speculative and unprovable ideas such as SETI and the multiverse. So it seems reasonable to let Christians get away with the idea of “God” being the answer to SETI or the multiverse. Atheism 0 Theism 0
  3. The common picture of God has been so badly distorted from reality so as to make atheism attractive in comparison. Like the erroneous doctrine of eternal hellfire. That one piece of distortion makes the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin look like child’s play. And God an absolute tyrant. Own-goal by theists.
  4. Theism wins easily, in terms of utility, risk management & opportunity maximization, and philosophical/logical coherence. And, according to John Lennox, empirically, to boot. #PascalsWager Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  5. Accounting for free will. in a materialist (atheist) worldview, everythingis known or determined (even if humans do not yet have insight into the future). There is no freedom. No choice. Just the illusion of it. It is in this (atheist) worldview that I have to conclude that my choices are pointless, that there is no free will, and that everything that was going to happen is already determined. The script is already written. Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  6. The fact that freedom exists is what the new atheist unwittingly tries to take advantage of when he or she tries to persuade others to choose to abandon belief in God. But freedom of choice does not exist in a purely material universe.
  7. The fact that true freedom exists powerfully argues that a powerful intelligence (God) designed it that way. That God loves you enough to give you the choice of whether to believe His claims or not. To serve Him or not. And to love Him back or not.
  8. Abiogenesis: a major stumbling block to an evolutionary explanation for the origin (not just diversity) of species. Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  9. Consciousness: another major hurdle for material explanations of the universe. Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  10. Morality: either it has a transcendent and absolute quality, allowing (say) paedophilia to be vile under any circumstances, or it’s entirely a relative social construct which may change across time and place. Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  11. Meaning, purpose, destiny: without these, life is axiomatically meaningless, directionless, and pointless. Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  12. Material explanations for the universe are struggling to come up with any sort of compelling explanation for the presence of information (e.g., genetic code), logic, and finely tuned physical laws. All from nothing!? Theism 1 Atheism 0.
  13. In the years ahead there will be two massive pendulum swings away from atheism. One will be true (Rev 14:6-12), the other will be false (Matt 24:24-25). The false correction will swing from atheism to experience-based spiritual phenomena (2 Cor 11:14-15). The true correction will swing from selfishness to self-sacrificing love (Jn 13:35).

The great controversy between good & evil

  1. Evil may look like it has a strong foothold, even the upper hand. But love has already won the war. Evil and death have been forever defeated at the cross!
  2. I’m keen for the world as we know it to come to an end, but not because I want conflict and destruction. Instead, I am looking forward to God restoring our lives and planet to the perfect eternal love and happiness He intended.
  3. Christians please note: the Bible teaching regarding the ‘investigative judgment’ as a mechanism for transparently dealing with evil totally makes sense and comes naturally if you believe in ‘soul sleep’ and Arminianism (i.e., personal freedom of choice). It’s a natural fit into the narrative that “God is love”.
  4. God is love! Love requires freedom. Freedom entails risk.

God’s presence in and direction for my life

  1. As our loving Father, God wants us to learn to make good decisions for ourselves based on the principles and values of His character of love and freedom. Not to treat Him as a Divine fortune-teller.
  2. I miss my dad, who died a year ago. He had a big positive influence in my life. He was an atheist who found God and totally changed his direction to live for God. I look forward to seeing my dad again.
  3. I love my wife, Renee, and my kids. They have taught me much about selflessness, love and God. I have found marriage to be the best way to refine one’s character, reduce selfishness, and increase happiness.
  4. I have had numerous life experiences that demonstrate to me that God is real, life has purpose and meaning, and authentic love and freedom truly exist. A ‘chance’ meeting at a train station and recovery from a freak accident are just two of many life-shaping experiences that confirm experientially the empirical and philosophical evidences that God is real and God is love.
  5. Jesus of Nazareth: my guru, friend and Saviour. God of the universe. Yours too.

Easter 2016: God loves the world, but not them!

The Christian world has condemned the deadly Brussels attack by ISIS

The Christian world has condemned the deadly Brussels attack by ISIS

Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop used his Easter Sunday sermon to condemn last week’s Brussels attacks. But Jesus gave His strongest rebukes to His own people.

At this time of year 2000 years ago, Jesus’ Easter messages were quite different to what we would expect. Instead of criticising Roman oppression or the annoying Samaritans, Jesus went to His own temple and drove out the religious leaders who were making money out of the temple services. Not once but twice. Both at Easter (the Jewish Passover).

The Samaritans were to Jesus what the Muslims are to Christians today. They were distant relatives, but most of the religious people hated them. Samaritans were part pagan, and part worshipers of the God of Israel. They were not unlike the extremist Islamic terrorists of today, hanging around creating a real nuisance.

Surely Jesus could have used His Easter (Passover) messages to criticise the Samaritans!

Or at least the Romans.

Yet Jesus effectively told a story of a ‘Good Muslim‘ who stopped to help a wounded Christian when other Christians wouldn’t. It was called the parable of the Good Samaritan back then. In our day it would be the Good Muslim.

Jesus could have gone to the Samaritan temple to tell them they were doing it wrong. But He didn’t. He went to the temple of His own people and told them they were missing the point.

So today He wouldn’t go to the mosque to sort out the Muslims. He goes to the Christian churches – the ones who claim to believe in Him – to challenge their message.

Jesus continually said good things about Samaritans. He was a friend of the Samaritan; and a friend of the Muslim today.

The Samaritans were the equivalent of modern day Muslims. Yet somehow Jesus seems to ignore the hostility of a few of them and focus on the hypocrisy of His own chosen people.

It’s noteworthy that the Bible has very little to say about religions not based on the Bible. You’d think the Bible would focus its warnings on people that don’t profess belief in it:

  • Muslims
  • Terrorists
  • Hindus
  • Chinese
  • Communists
  • Atheists

But the Bible has very little to say about any of those nations or belief systems – or lack of belief systems. Except that God loves them, too!

So for us Christians to get up on our high horse and condemn those on the other side of our fence is not consistent with the Bible’s message. The Bible’s message is that we need to understand God’s character of love and forgiveness. This starts with us – the people who claim to be Bible followers.

God wants to protect us all from our distorted picture of who God is. No matter what club we belong to. Whether we’re part of this church or that church, or atheist, or Muslim, or Hindu.

God is especially concerned about the false pictures that His own professed people paint. He’s not so concerned about correcting the teachings of ISIS, because that’s not deceptive. Most of the world naturally recoils from that. He’s not so concerned that they are preventing people from understanding His character. People are only drawn to that as a seemingly viable alternative because the so-called Christian West is so corrupt and selfish.

The people that can do the most damage to the way people picture God are His professed followers.

That’s why Jesus’ Easter message was to clean up the Jewish temple – His own people! He didn’t worry about going to the Samaritan temple at Mt Gerizim to clean it up. But He cleaned up the Jerusalem temple – twice.

For many today Easter is just a long weekend holiday. An excuse to eat lots of chocolate, as much as we can get hold of.

But it’s more than that. It’s an opportunity to understand the truth about Easter and to appreciate God’s love for not only us, but the rest of the world too.

The Story of the Good Muslim

Muslims protecting Christians as they worship in Pakistan

Muslims protecting Christians as they worship in Pakistan


This is a modern-day adaptation of the parable Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, recorded in Luke 10.

The Jews of Jesus’ day hated Samaritans whom they regarded as terrorists. Extremist Samaritans occasionally committed inflammatory acts of violence and vandalism.

To whom would Jesus direct His strongest criticism in today’s world? Given that He spoke kindly towards Samaritans back then, and rebuked His own Jewish leaders, I propose that He would direct His strongest criticism today toward corrupted Christianity.

Here’s what the parable of the Good Samaritan might like like if Jesus was on earth in our time:

30 Then Jesus said to a lawyer: “A certain man travelled from New York to Paris, and not knowing the area, fell among criminals, who robbed him and left him half dead.

31 Now by chance a priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 Likewise a pastor, when he came to the place, came and looked at the victim, then passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Muslim, as he was walking to the train station, came where the wounded tourist was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, and gave him medicine; and took him by taxi to the nearest hospital and stayed with him overnight.

35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two hundred Euro, gave it to the nurses, and said to them, ‘Take care of this tourist; and anything more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And the lawyer said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

There have indeed been true stories just like this, where Muslims have been good Samaritans to Christians. Here are a couple of recent examples:

  • Muslims and Christians were travelling together on a bus in Kenya when held up by extremists, who intended to kill all non-Muslims. The Muslims on the bus shared their Islamic headscarves with the Christians, who wore them, saving many lives.
  • And in Pakistan, hundreds of Muslims formed a human wall of protection around Christians who gathered to worship at their church soon after a deadly attack on fellow Christian worshipers.


Paris attacks: Should Islam be held under scrutiny?


Source: BBC

The group claiming responsibility for the deadly Paris attacks goes by the self-assigned name of Islamic State. Should their claim of doing the attacks in the name of their religion bring Islam into focus to determine if it is a safe, peaceful and helpful religion?

A lot of people feel that the question needs to be asked and answered. I don’t blame them. I do too, but not in the way you may be thinking.

Progressives say no, don’t question the religion as a whole

On the other hand, a popular response among progressive Western thinkers is to protect and quarantine Islam as a whole but just shine the torch on the extreme views of ISIS. I have heard convincing defences of this perspective. An interview by Reza Aslan comes to mind.

But I’m not entirely convinced or satisfied by this response. Finding other causative factors avoids the question of whether Islam is also a causative factor. It does not absolve Islam of responsibility.

Atheists say yes, but question all other religions too

I tend to resonate more with the response of the atheist, who questions not just Islam but all religions. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins argue that religious wars waged by people of all faiths have accounted for millions of deaths throughout history.

Yet I’m also not entirely convinced or satisfied by the atheist response, either.

The argument of other causative agents comes back

There are equally valid counter-responses to this criticism of all religion, too. The first is that atheists such as Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin and (arguably) Hitler were also responsible for genocide. And the second, even more convincing argument, is that wars waged under the guise of a religious cause were often more motivated by distinctly local, temporal and physical needs, such as resource scarcity. This has been documented in detail in the Encyclopedia of Wars by Philip and Axelrod.

Nobody to point the finger at?

So what can we reasonably conclude, then? I argue that we should probably think carefully before we either point the finger at Islam, or alternatively, before we shield Islam from critique along the lines of popular progressive, inclusive rhetoric.

Is this a self-contradictory approach? Sitting on the fence?

Let me explore this a little further.

Logical fallacy to ignore the question

Just because the various social problems and conflicts of Muslim majority countries have other causative factors does not logically preclude examining whether Islam itself is also a contributing factor.

The fact that Islam has existed for thousands of years and has billions of adherents is not a conclusive defence of its integrity. But that over-generalised historical overview does demonstrate that Islam probably isn’t violently destructive on a grand scale and in urgent need of preemptive military intervention lest imminent catastrophe should strike. We’ll come back to why this is not logically sufficient to let established religions off the hook.

Extreme religious groups that definitely deserve scrutiny

But first, let’s acknowledge that there are religious groups that most would probably argue do deserve proactive intervention to protect people’s lives and safety. Islamic State is one example of an extreme expression of an interpretation of Islam that, for many, probably falls into this category. I’d be happier if that ideology was eradicated completely. Yesterday.

David Koresh’s Branch Davidians also fits this category. It was an extreme and violent expression of the Christian faith that cost needless suffering and death.

Atheists aside, few would associate all of Christianity with such extremism. A similar defence of Islam logically has to be equally appropriate, at least from a secular religious rights perspective.

Extending the argument to scrutinising all religions

The atheist may beg to differ, claiming that the world would be better off without religion altogether.

And I have to agree with the atheist to a significant extent; but my partial agreement with the atheist is based on a biblical Christian prophetic worldview.

The Bible supports the atheist’s argument against traditional religion

You see, according to the Bible, for much of its history, Judaism missed the point of its religion. Read the scathing rebuke Jesus gave the leaders of the Jewish nation in Matthew 23.

Bible prophecies about the Christian church in our day say there will be false prophets (Matt 24) and an antichrist that sets itself up as though it represents God but actually opposes God (see 2 Thes 2, Daniel 7 & 8). The book of Revelation warns that this fallen religious system will bring untold suffering to a large proportion of the world’s population (e.g., see Revelation 18), despite its claims to be Christian. It describes this “Babylon” false religion as lasting at least a thousand years, and having numerous adherents (e.g., billions).

So Christians should hesitate before pointing the finger at Islam.

Also, the fact that a religion has been around for over a thousand years and has over a billion adherents does not give it protected status according to the Bible. In fact, the Bible shines the torch on corrupt Christian religion and calls it out in no uncertain terms as damaging to human life both here and now and for eternity.

While the Bible says very little about Islam, it clearly and boldly states that there is no other name by which we can be saved other than Jesus (Acts 4:12).

So where does Islam as a whole end up under scrutiny?

From a secular legal perspective, evaluation of Islam ends up no differently to evaluation of Christianity. I’ll come back to that point later.

But from a biblical perspective also, Islam should not suffer under scrutiny on any fundamentally different level to traditional apostate Christianity either.

The Bible encourages holding everything up to scrutiny, including Islam. It says to test all things and hold fast that which is good. There are a number of elements of Islamic beliefs, values and culture that are indeed good, and worth preserving. According to the Bible, however, Islam is not a path to God. Only Jesus is the way, truth and life (John 14:6).

There are also a number of Islamic teachings that contradict the Bible, and for that reason I hold to the Bible’s teachings over those of the Koran. Examples:

  • Jesus is not Divine
  • Salvation by merit not sacrifice
  • Marriage and treatment of women
  • Treatment of those who do not respect Islam

Note that there are a number of different interpretations of Islam, just as there are of the Bible. But it would be fair to say, in general, that the respective teachings in these areas are at least somewhat contradictory.

Does the Christian church fare any better?

There are numerous teachings of traditional Christianity that are clear contradictions of the Bible’s teachings, too. For example:

  • Immortality of the soul
  • Eternal torment in hell
  • Worship of Mary
  • Sunday worship
  • Confession to priests

However, the Bible teaches that God loves all people regardless of their race, religion or past errors, and freely offers salvation for all – including apostate Christians, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, and so on (Gal 3:28, Tit 2:11).

God is calling us all out of these false religions (Rev 18:4, Jn 10:16).

So where do we land with this – to scrutinise or not?

To answer the original question, yes, the teachings of Islam can be productively scrutinized to see whether Islam is a helpful way of life. Just as all systems of belief should be.

But by who and for what purpose? This definitely should be done on an individual level, so that each person can make an informed decision as to their own belief system. There are many different belief systems out there!

But once we make our own personal choice we should respect the choices of others even if they are different to our own. This is consistent with the Bible (Matt 23:37) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Should there be government review of beliefs and intervention where beliefs are deemed unsafe? The general view in Western liberal democracies, and upheld by the Bible (Rom 13), is that secular governments have a right and responsibility of upholding law and order. But that does not give governments the right to forbid or even recommend systems of religious belief.

While Christians may take issue with statements in the Koran, atheists are just as likely to take issue with statements in the Bible.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not up to secular authorities to evaluate belief systems or intervene over beliefs. Secular authorities only intervene to uphold law and order in people’s behavior as it affects the rights of others.

Experience throughout history suggests that people of all creeds and belief systems, or lack thereof, are capable of committing heinous crime.

What difference does this make to me?

In summary, I conclude that there is not much value in pointing the finger at Islam in isolation when traditional Christianity deserves similar scrutiny. In fact, as we saw, corrupt Christianity cops the lion’s share of criticism in the Bible.

I do personally see value in all individuals scrutinising all belief systems and choosing for themselves.

While I personally disagree with the teachings of Islam, I don’t see any value in condemning the people of Islam. I also disagree with the teachings of traditional Christianity, but open my heart and arms to all people of all faiths.

This is where the rubber meets the road. I also open my heart, wallet and the place I call home to refugees of all faiths. I’m all for shielding and protecting Muslims, even if not the religion of Islam, or any religion, for that matter.

Something worse than ISIS

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

The idea of “Islamic State” or ISIS is something that strikes dread in most hearts that I know. It defies our sensibilities to think that, for ISIS to exist, some people around the world must be drawn to their rallying cries.


To explain the appeal of ISL is difficult. I don’t know that I have a clear picture of what the ISIS rally cry is, much less any resonation with it.

But lots of people have been drawn into it, to the point where they are willing to give their lives as ‘martyrs’ for their cause. We simply think of them as malicious suicide bombers; but in their minds they die as heroes.

The key to the success of the “Islamic State” recruitment narrative is not that it is coherent, real or virtuous. Rather that it has successfully deceived hearts and minds to believe that it is more coherent, real and virtuous than the alternatives.

How could something so barbaric as to slaughter 129 (and counting) innocent Parisians be more appealing than its alternatives? The answer speaks volumes to the incoherence, unreality and lack of virtue of the predominant narratives in our world today.

Contemporary narratives are all about “what’s in it for me?” They can be summarized by one word, “get”. That’s true for consumer capitalism of the West, communist China, also the corrupt and/or rapidly developing countries of Asia, South America and Africa. And it’s true for the Middle East – including ISIS.

Even most religious movements have been co-opted by this narrative of greed and selfishness. Unfortunately that’s definitely true for most professed adherents of my religion: Christianity.

That doesn’t sit well with me. Nor do I believe Christianity to be selfish at its heart. The Christianity that I know and hold dear is all about others. It’s about loving. It’s about giving. Love that gives everything for the sake of others. In one word, “give” – the opposite of “get”.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.”

If that powerful idea of self-giving love was believed and lived throughout even just the Western, so-called Christian world, I don’t think there’d even be a so-called “Islamic State” based in Syria right now. It doesn’t gain traction and followers because it is coherent, real or virtuous, but because there is a worldwide vacuum of coherence, reality and virtue.

There’s nothing good about the widespread self-focused, materialistic worldview. Many of us intuitively know that money can’t buy the things that the human soul most deeply desires: love, happiness and peace. And we also know these core human desires can’t be acquired by grabs for power. Nor by forceful dispossession of territory, belongings or life itself.

But we’ve all been deceived by the idea that selfish desires for power and material things need to be gratified for the pursuit of happiness. How else can we explain rampant materialism juxtaposed by skyrocketing rates of crime, depression, anxiety and suicide? Our beliefs and values may not really be much different to a suicide bomber claiming to be acting in the name of their God.

So we’ve all been infected with the same ideology as ISIS. We all operate out of rampant self-preservation and self-exaltation.

The solution to the problem of ISIS is actually the solution to a problem we all share in common. We need a switch from a worldview infected by selfishness to a worldview where love and giving are the actuating principles of our behavior.

The results of this switch will be love, joy and peace like we’ve rarely seen.

The method to achieve it: authentic biblical Christianity. Not the corrupted religion of the West. And not the discarding of all religion. To follow Lennon’s “Imagine”, where there is no religion, still leaves us with not much more than a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality: fundamentally selfish. That’s the problem, not the solution.

Not sure? Try Christianity for yourself. Read the gospels. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” This is the one narrative that I’ve found that truly is coherent, real and virtuous.