Crucified Again — Don't Be Surprised
9 August 2013
 
 
I love to read — once I start a book, it's very rare for me to not finish it, even if I find it a bit boring. Unfortunately, one book I can't bring myself to read even half of is Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians by Raymond Ibrahim.

In this recent book, published in 2013, Mr. Ibrahim devotes more than 200 pages to documenting hundreds of incidents of persecution that Christians around the world have experienced at the hands of Muslims, from the beginning of the Islamic conquest of the Middle East in the seventh century all the way up to the present. But it's not the horror of these details that turns my stomach and makes me unable to finish the book. Rather, it's the author's faulty religious Christian worldview which turns my stomach and raises my ire.

To be fair to Mr. Ibrahim, it's not just his worldview that's faulty — he is merely expressing the prevalent worldview of mainstream global Christianity. As I progress through this book review, I will explain why this worldview is so deplorable, and why this book was such a waste of my time and money.

First of all, I have a couple of problems with the title. While this may seem like nitpicking, my criticism has more to do with the worldview behind the title than the actual title itself. The subtitle reads, Exposing Islam's New War on Christians. As Mr. Ibrahim himself points out all throughout the book, Islam's war with Christianity is as old as Islam itself, so this subtitle seems more like a marketing ploy than an accurate statement. Perhaps Renewed instead of New would have been closer to the truth. A subtitle like Islam's 1400-year War on Christians might have been best of all.

Then there was the page right before page one (page zero?), which is totally blank except for one verse from the Bible:
To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. — Hebrews 6:6
In the context of this book, "their" and "they" refer to Muslims, and "they" are crucifying Yeshua (Jesus, Isa) all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace by persecuting Christians. While this sounds like an accurate statement, there is just one little problem: Mr. Ibrahim has taken this verse completely out of context, because the original passage in Hebrews chapter 6 was not referring to persecution AT ALL. Rather, it is referring to Christians who end up turning away from God — infidels, apostates. That is who "their" and "they" refer to in this verse.

So in reality, I think it would be more accurate to say that those Christians who over the centuries have become Muslims in order to save their lives and/or property are the ones who are really crucifying Yeshua all over again, NOT the Muslims who are persecuting them. Needless to say, I was already very unimpressed with this book, and I hadn't even gotten to the first page yet!

A more serious problem with the worldview Mr. Ibrahim expresses in this book — which is widely shared by many Christians around the globe — is that the Crusades were justified by Muslim agression, and even sanctioned by the God of the Bible. This is a demonically-inspired worldview that totally contradicts the teaching of the New Testament!

Mr. Ibrahim writes that the Muslims were "making Christian life under Islamic rule a terror," which explains why Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade. The author seems to have no problem with these heretical words from the leader of Christendom at that time:
On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength.
To say that God blesses "Christian" violence is to mock and slander Him, and defame His character. Obviously, both Urban II and Mr. Ibrahim — as well as the vast majority of "Christians" — have failed to understand what the New Testament teaches. Such faulty and infernal theology is much closer to Mohammed's teachings than to Yeshua's.

From what I have read of the book, it's main premise is that persecution of Christians is shocking and lamentable, and in our modern enlightened era it should not be tolerated. While this outlook (or worldview) sounds find from a Christian humanism point of view, it does not really line up with what the New Testament teaches. Let's take a closer look.

Yeshua, Messiah and Master, made these statements to His followers:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.... I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.... (Matthew 5:10-12,44)

You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. (Matthew 24:9)

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of Me. (Luke 6:22)

When the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. A servant is not greater than his master. Because they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20a)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I [Yeshua] tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution.... Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown. (Revelation 2:10)
Early followers of Yeshua like Paul, Peter, John and Luke wrote:
A great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered. (Acts 8:1)

Paul and Barnabas strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. (Acts 14:22)

Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 8:35;12:14)

For Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

The son born according to the flesh [Ishmael] persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit [Isaac]. It is the same now. (Galatians 4:29)

When we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. (1 Thessalonians 3:4)

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Yeshua the Messiah will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.... They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated. (Hebrews 10:33;11:37)

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Messiah, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Messiah, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.... If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter 4:12-14,16,17,19)
The New Testament has a lot to say about persecution, and I've only been able to share part of it here. But I wanted to quote enough of its teachings so that there is no room left for ambiguity or confusion on this subject.

To paraphrase the quote from 1 Peter above, why is Mr. Ibrahim — and all of Christianity for that matter — surprised at the persecution of Christians, as though something strange was happening? According to the New Testament, shouldn't persecution be the norm rather than the exception? Shouldn't persecution be what followers of Yeshua expect, rather than be surprised as though it were something strange or unnatural? Didn't Yeshua and others in the New Testament PROMISE that Christians would be persecuted?

As Yeshua, Paul and Peter said, shouldn't Christians "rejoice and be glad ... be delighted ... rejoice and praise God" when they are persecuted and killed for the sake of Messiah? Doesn't the New Testament state again and again that followers of Yeshua are blessed when they are persecuted? So why then have Christians of all but the earliest centuries not rejoiced, and not proclaimed that it's a blessing and privilege to suffer for Yeshua?

Could it be that most Christians are more concerned about living a long, comfortable, happy life on this earth than they are about being faithful to Yeshua and spending eternity with Him? At the risk of being repetitious, I think it is important that I share again a passage I wrote in my last article:
The Apostle James wrote, What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14). And the Apostle Paul wrote,
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.... Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written [in the Psalms]: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. (Romans 8:18,35-37)

Since you have been raised to new life with Messiah, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Messiah sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Messiah in God. And when Messiah, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
In the last book of the Bible, it talks about the followers of Yeshua in the End Times: They triumphed over Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Revelation 12:11). If Christians REALLY believed all of these Bible verses I have just quoted, then we would not be afraid to die, we would not shrink from death, because we know that this life is just a mist, and that anything we suffer in this life is nothing compared to the glory we'll have in heaven, where our true life is.
In the end, I think Mr. Ibrahim's attitude — and the attitude of all of Christendom — towards persecution is too human-centered, and not nearly enough New-Testament-centered. No wonder Muslims are not impressed by our wimpy, self-centered faith! We say we want to be with Yeshua, but when the Muslims want to help us on our way, we squeal with terror and run for our lives! No wonder they are not attracted by Christianity, when there is such a huge gulf between our words and our actions!

Well, there's more I want to say in response to Mr. Ibrahim's book, but this article is already long enough, so it will have to wait for next time.
You can send comments to me privately at: shahid@yourislamicfuture.com
 
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