Thursday, September 20, 2007

Christian Books Banned in Prisons

Mark Earley of Prison Fellowship has a disturbing post about how the Federal government has censored prison libraries of important Christian books. This was a strange reaction to a legitimate concern that Islamic chaplains were spreading dangerous beliefs in US prisons.

Only 150 religious books are now allowed in prisons. This is absurd, especially since I'm sure the Koran, the most violent and dangerous religious book in history, is one of the allowed books. If it was not, we would have heard from all the Islamic organizations by now. On-going jihad is fine, but Malcolm Muggerridge and others are out. Please read Earley's post and act accordingly. I wrote Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado about it just now.

If you question my assessment of the Koran, read Robert Spencer's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades and The Religion of Peace: Why Christianity Is and Islam is Not. See also Mark Gabriel, Islam and Terrorism. Gabriel is a convert from Islam who used to teach Islamic history in Egypt. That is only for starters...

27 comments:

Peter M. Head said...

Where can we see the list of 150 books? Or should we just protest anyway?

evagrius said...

You mean Robert Spencer, not William Spencer.

( Two points off for citing an incorrect source).

Will the Bible be bowdlerized? I seem to recall a few episodes of genocide and carnage, all in the Name of the Lord, of course.

Mason said...

The crusades were completely inconsistent with Biblical Christian. Jihad, on the other, is entirely consistent with the Koran.

Frank Martens said...

Mason, hopefully you are not saying that to justify the governments position.

The Gyrovague said...

I would add the book Christianity and the Islamic Threat by Marvin Yakos as a good book to read as well.

Ken Abbott said...

The sources I've read indicate the list is not being made public but that some journalists and scholars have been allowed to review it.

It's hard to see how this policy can survive legal challenges. Even acknowledging that prisoners have restricted civil rights this practice rather clearly violates the first amendment's free expression and free speech clauses.

For Evagrius:

1) If God commands a thing be done, is it not righteous?

2) Dr. Groothuis did not cite an incorrect source. He incorrectly cited the correct source. Give him some grace.

evagrius said...

ken abbot

Well, Id like to know the criterion for such an assertion that you've made.

I suppose it's in the same league as Abraham ordered to sacrifice his son.

In other words, are you arguing that "God" is "above" the moral law and can order someone to break that moral law?

Theological voluntarism is a rather peculiar notion and one that has had unfortunate consequences for Western Christianity.

To assert that God's will is above His reason or Logos is quite peculiar.

Ironically, such assertions bring one closer to extreme forms of Islam than to orthodox Christianity.

(See The Peaceableness of Reason on the blog by Pastor John Wright;

http://www.pastorjohnwright.org/archives/2006/09/the_peaceablene.html )

evagrius said...

BTW- William Spencer has also written books on Islam.

Ken Abbott said...

Evagrius: The criterion is the character of God. As the Westminster Confession states, "There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty." (Chapter II, paragraph 1)

God is not above the moral law, nor is the moral law beside or outside him. It comes from within him. The moral law originates from God's perfect character. It is in absolute harmony with his reason and all his other attributes.

evagrius said...

ken abbot-

You've just refuted your previous statement.

Can God order an immoral act?

Educator-To-Be said...

This is pretty sad.

I live in Washington and I know a few employees at the Bureau of Prisons. In fact, one of my former high school teachers was a teacher at the Federal Correctional Institution in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, back in the 80s.

I asked them about this, and none of them knew the first thing about this.

Amy

Ken Abbott said...

Evagrius: "You've just refuted your previous statement."

No, I haven't. God does nothing inconsistent with his perfect holiness, righteousness, goodness, and justice. He cannot deny himself. So if God commands a thing be done it must be righteous.

evagrius said...

"No, I haven't. God does nothing inconsistent with his perfect holiness, righteousness, goodness, and justice. He cannot deny himself. So if God commands a thing be done it must be righteous."

So genocide is a righteous act?

righteousness first said...

I agree with all of those frustrated by this experience. It's probably a ploy with someone biased against Christianity. We should be suspicious and point out the irony that the Koran is allowed yet many of our books aren't.

Evagrius:

Yes, the Bible does contain a lot of strange things: murder, genocide, killing babies in wombs, rape, incest, in the Name of Lord. But as Mason pointed out: this is fine because God establishes the moral order. Remember, God also said that he was loving, too.

evagrius said...

Yes, the Bible does contain a lot of strange things: murder, genocide, killing babies in wombs, rape, incest, in the Name of Lord. But as Mason pointed out: this is fine because God establishes the moral order. Remember, God also said that he was loving, too.


How does God "establish" the moral order?

I'm curious as to the logic here.

Sarah Scott said...

We must draw a line between things that were recorded in the Bible simply because they happened and things that happened because they were commands from God. There are rapes, murders, etc which are recorded simply because they happened, and thus are examples of the sinfulness of man, not because God commanded them to happen.

Muhammed claims that he was commanded by Allah to pillage, rape, murder, and live a life of such in the name of conversion. Such is the tone of the Koran.

evagrius said...

From what I remember, Mohammed only attacked those who did not submit to his teachings.

That's not too disimilar to some Christian activity nor the activity of the Jews of the Old Testament.

Doesn't excuse it but puts it into context.

Ken Abbott said...

Evagrius: You asked whether genocide is a righteous act. Leaving aside for the moment the evident emotionalism contained within that question, let me first ask you a counter-question: What are the rights of a Creator over his creatures? A second question is like it: What is the moral response of a righteous Judge toward wicked persons guilty of capital crimes?

evagrius said...

"What are the rights of a Creator over his creatures? A second question is like it: What is the moral response of a righteous Judge toward wicked persons guilty of capital crimes?"

There are no "rights". Such a question is meaningless.

It's conceiving of the Creator in highly anthropomorphic terms.

It's rather simplistic.

The moral response of a righteous Judge towards those guilty of capital crime?

Love, unconditional Love which is a
healing balm for the penitent and a burning torment for the unpenitent.

Ken Abbott said...

Evagrius: Now I can see that you are not a serious discussant. Your second answer asserts a Judge who is not interested in justice, who has no concern to redress wrong. Your first answer is essentially a hand wave--you're not prepared to deal with a Creator who has given life and so has the right to take life away. "Has the potter no right over the clay?"

I may be wrong, but I suspect the only kind of god you would defend is the god of your own imagination, the one you have crafted in your own image. You aren't yet prepared to deal with God on his terms.

evagrius said...

ken abbot-

Obviously you haven't given much thought to the nature of God yourself preferring your own conceptions to that of the theological tradition of the Church Fathers.

The first notion, that of "rights", is clearly an anthropomorphic one. You support that with the analogy of the potter. That analogy is only useful to a degree, a very limited degree.

You should read about the distinction in theology between apophatism and cataphatism.

If you do, you'll realize that your notion is quite simplistic.

Second, I don't see how unconditional Love is imcompatible with justice. Didn't you notice the effect that Love has on penitents and unpenitents? It sounds pretty just to me.

Ken Abbott said...

Evagrius: When it comes to a distinction between the "Church Fathers" and the writers of Scripture, I follow the latter every time, hands down. Prefer the inspired word to the traditions of men.

But following on to your citing the authority of the Fathers, what do those writers have to say about God's commands to Israel to remove utterly the nations from the promised land? Do they also call it "genocide and carnage?"

Interesting you should object to the analogy of the potter. Paul seemed to think it quite useful in rebutting the very objection you have implicitly raised in this series of posts.

The God who reveals himself in Scripture does not love unconditionally. It is a great mistake to think otherwise.

evagrius said...

"The God who reveals himself in Scripture does not love unconditionally. It is a great mistake to think otherwise."

"God is Love" then has certain qualifications?

As for the Old Testament and its view of God- if it's normative, then why the New Testament?

Did Our Lord Jesus Christ ever advocate violence towards others, even those who were violent?


Remember, He's the Son of God, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, not made but begotten from the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit.

Don't forget- the Church existed before the Bible was canonized. Indeed it decided the canon- not the other way around.

As for patristic commentary, I'll have to look them up. Quite a few, you know, and their writings are not systematic.

Nick Hill said...

Another helpful resource is the DVD "Islam: What the West Needs to Know" (http://www.whatthewestneedstoknow.com/)

Here is a description:

"Virtually every major Western leader has over the past several years expressed the view that Islam is a peaceful religion and that those who commit violence in its name are fanatics who misinterpret its tenets. This claim, while widely circulated, rarely attracts serious public examination. Relying primarily on Islam’s own sources, this documentary demonstrates that Islam is a violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government."

evagrius said...

Virtually every major world leader has over the past several years expressed the view that capitalism/ technology is a peaceful world economic view and that those who commit violence in its name are fanatics who misinterpret its tenets. This claim, while widely circulated, rarely attracts serious public examination. Relying primarily on Islam’s own sources, this documentary demonstrates that capitalism/ technology is a violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government."

Ken Abbott said...

Evagrius: You ask, "'God is Love' has certain qualifications?" Yes, it does, and your question reveals the problem of taking an atomized approach to Scripture. God's revelation to men may be progressive but it is all of a piece. You must diligently seek the whole counsel of God. God is also holy, righteous, just, gracious, kind, and wise.

The God of the Old Testament is the self-same God who spoke first through the prophets and ultimately in his Son, who is the exact representation of his being. The revelation of God given through Jesus Christ and enscripturated in the New Testament is a more complete, but not more true, revelation. Recall how our Lord took his disciples through the Old Testament at Emmaus after his resurrection and showed them the things concerning himself contained therein.

Jesus never repudiated any part of the Old Testament. Indeed, he declared that the Scripture cannot be broken.

Your doctrine of the canon of Scripture is incorrect. Canon is a quality of the books themselves--it is not a designation imparted by the church but a quality recognized by the church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The testimony of the prophets and the apostles is the foundation of the church, not the other way around.

Evagrius, do you really have such a low view of Scripture that you can maintain that therein God is made guilty of a crime? You are the one who alleged that the Bible contains episodes of genocide. You have yet to retract (or even defend) that claim.

evagrius said...

Then was the elimination of the Amakelites not genocide? Genocide is the elimination of a people. That's what happened to them.

It's fairly clear that it happened according to the Scriptures.


I don't think God ordered the genocide. It happened and, typical of the thinking of those days, it was attributed as the result of Divine approval.


The Church did decide the canon. After all, there were many texts that claimed to be inspired. The Gnostic Nag Hammadi texts are only one example. There are others as well, some of which, while not canonical, ended up being part of Holy Tradition as recorded by icons and popular legends and tales of saints. The decisions regarding the canon were made over the first three centuries and finalized by Church Councils.
As a matter of fact, the canon is still not final if one takes the differences between the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and other groups around the canon as evidence.


The Old Testament is only understandable, from a Christian view, through Christ.

No. I don't hold a low opinion of Scripture but I hold it in high regard as interpreted, commented on, lived and followed by those who were and are far more holy and insightful than I am.

I don't suscribe that "anyone" can clearly understand Scripture. All understanding has to be confirmed by tradition, of the past and present.