Crucified Again — The Calamity of Pagan Christianity
14 August 2013
Last week I started a review of the book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians by Raymond Ibrahim.

Today's article is the third part of the review. If you missed the two previous articles, you should read Crucified Again — Don't Be Surprised and Crucified Again — Sharing Yeshua's Sufferings before continuing here.

As I had mentioned in the first article in this series, I was only able to read about a third of this book until I had had enough of Mr. Ibrahim's faulty religious Christian worldview and decided put an end to my vexation by leaving the rest of the book unread.

In the second section of Crucified Again, entitled "Islam's War On Christian Worship," the author spends 60 pages recounting Muslim attacks on churches during the past 1,400 years. A selection of examples include:
  • In 924 the Muslims of Damascus burnt down the church of Miriam in that city, and plundered the furniture and vessels that were "of very great value."
  • About a century later Muslims in Egypt ransacked churches, taking gold and silver vessels, and "more goods than can be told," as well as destroying churches with "splendid and wonderful edifices."
  • In fourteenth-century Egypt, Muslims "plundered the wealth of the churches they demolished, which was great, and carried away even the woodwork and slabs of alabaster."
  • Throughout the 1,400-year conflict, Muslims have insisted, up to this present day, that Christian churches be devoid of crosses and bells.
  • In 2011, a Muslim mob attacked a church in Cairo, Egypt, burning it down while the attackers played "soccer" with the ancient relics of the church's saints and martyrs.
  • In March 2012, around 1,500 Mulims attacked the Notre Dame Language School in Upper Egypt, ransacking and looting the school. Later, the Muslims demanded that the school sign over the deed to the property the school is built on.
  • In January 2012 Muslims attacked a church where children were rehearsing a Christmas carols because the men were "disturbed" by the volume of the sound system. "How dare you use the mike and speakers?" they shouted.
  • In July 2012 Muslims burned down two churches in Zanzibar. The pastor lamented, "Fourty-five chairs were destroyed. It will be very difficult for the thirty-six members to congregate tomorrow."
  • The pastor of a church destroyed in April 2011 in Nigeria lamented, "We currently worship in the destroyed church building with no roof to shield us from the sun and the rains."
  • In December 2012, the chapel of the military naval base of Toulon, France was "desecrated" — "three major symbols of the Catholic faith were overturned and destroyed: the tabernacle, the baptistry, and the pulpit."
  • Mr. Ibrahim recounts numerous incidents of crucifixes being destroyed over the centuries, as well as Christians being attacked and even killed for wearing them. In recent times, Christians have been attacked because they have religious symbols tattooed on their bodies.
  • In December 2011, Indonesian Muslims decapitated a statue of the Virgin Mary in a small grotto days before Christmas.
  • In February 2012, some thirty armed and masked jihadis attacked the fourth-century Catholic monastery of Mar Musa demanding money. Later, in August, "gunmen stole everything they could steal, including tractors and other agricultural and farming tools."
In addition to the attacks on church buildings, there's a subsection which recounts attack after attack on Christians while they are gathered together to celebrate holidays like Christmas, Easter, New Year's Eve, as well as regular weekly gatherings, and how many were killed and injured in each attack. Mr. Ibrahim also mentions numerous specific attacks on, and killings of, priests and pastors.

I've shared just a small selection from more than 200 pages of such accounts in Crucified Again, but it should be sufficient to give you a good feel for what the book is about. For me it is more than enough, because after a few dozen pages of such accounts, it starts to sound like a squeaky wheel making the same old complaints over and over.

The very obvious and burning question bursting from my soul is this: what do church buildings, and land, and furniture, and gold and silver vessels of very great value, and more goods than can be told, and wonderfully splendid edifices, and great wealth, and woodwork, and slabs of alabaster, and crosses, and bells, and relics, and icons, and sound systems, and chairs, and receptacles for the Eucharist, and baptistries, and pulpits, and crucifixes, and tattoos, and statues, and tractors, and farming tools, and professional clergy, and monks, and nuns, and monasteries, and convents, and schools — how does ANY of this religious paraphernalia have ANYTHING to do with following Yeshua (Jesus, Isa)?

The answer? NOTHING! NONE of these religious trappings are in ANY way necessary in order to follow Yeshua. However, if you are entangled in the man-made religion of Pagan Christianity — which is the most pervasive form of Christianity in the world today — then to you it might seem that these things are quite important.

Consider this: Yeshua's disciples, and the early Church which they founded, had NONE of these things, and yet they followed Yeshua wholeheartedly — much more closely than a typical modern "Christian" — and they turned the Roman world upside down in a relatively short time. All that without ANY of the "benefits" of all the religious paraphernalia mentioned above! Gosh! I wonder how they did it, being at such a "disadvantage" compared to us modern Christians?

It's a pagan, ungodly mindset which believes that buildings, altars, bones of dead Christians, statues, paintings, crosses, or bells have any sacredness or spiritual value. It was a similar delusion that the Jews were ensnared by during the Old Testament times. The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed a messages that came to him one day from Yahweh,
Stand at the gate of Yahweh's house and there proclaim this message: Hear the word of Yahweh, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship Yahweh. This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh!" If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which bears My Name, and say, "We are safe" — safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears My Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares Yahweh.

Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for My Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. While you were doing all these things, declares Yahweh, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears My Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. I will thrust you from My presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim.

But am I the one they are provoking? declares Yahweh. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place — on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land — and it will burn and not be quenched. (Jeremiah 7:2-15,19,20)
If these words don't send a shiver down your spine and twist knots in your gut, I don't know what will! Imagine — God's chosen people were in a great deception, because they were trusting in outward things, like a sacred building, while doing things that displeased Him and they wouldn't listen to His voice of correction. Could it be that God has the very same feelings and words when He looks upon His New Covenant people, the Christians?

As another example of religious degeneration, let's look at the incident which took place as God was leading the Jews out of Egypt into the Promised Land of Israel:
The people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" Then Yahweh sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against Yahweh and against you. Pray that Yahweh will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. Yahweh said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:4b-9)
Some scholars believe that this is the origin of what was later called by the Greeks the Rod of Asclepius, which continues to be a worldwide symbol of medicine and health care to this very day. A different and more vital meaning of this symbol was given by Yeshua Himself:
As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Me will have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)
Whatever happened to that bronze snake which God had commanded Moses to make, which God used to bring healing to the Israelites, and which Yeshua, God in the flesh, said was actually a symbol of Himself? Many hundreds of years after Moses, Hezekiah became ruler over the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah. Once he became king, he went on a campaign to remove the pagan shrines and other forms of idolatry which were polluting the land.
He destroyed the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan. (2 Kings 18:4b)
Imagine — the bronze snake which God has commanded to be made ended up being a snare which led God's people into idolatry. Furthermore, just as the snake lifted up on a pole had become an idol in their day, so Yeshua lifted up on the execution stake — the cross — turned into an idol not many centuries after Yeshua died upon it. Even to this very day, multitudes of Christians around the world venerate the cross in a spiritually unhealthy way.

It would be foolish, naïve, arrogant and dangerous for Christians today to imagine that they are immune from the religious degeneration which was so rampant among the ancient Jews. (See Jewish Religious Degeneration and Christian Religious Degeneration on my Brian's Bits Web site for an in-depth look at these issues.)

In Crucified Again, Mr. Ibrahim quotes historian Sidney Griffith: "The Christian practice of venerating the cross and the icons of Christ and the saints often aroused the disdain of Muslims." Now, let me tell you something — I'm not Muslim, but a follower of Yeshua, and I can say unequivocally that the Christian practice of venerating the cross and the icons of Christ and the saints definitely arouses my disdain as well!

During the thousands of years of Jewish history, God used foreign pagan enemies, like the Babylonians and the Romans, to bring judgment upon His people for their idolatry. Is it possible, just possible, that God has also brought judgment on His New Testament people over the centuries — and that He has used the Muslims to do it? That's a discussion that will have to wait for the next article.