Friday, February 13, 2009


- towards a more biblically balanced view of Islam and Judaism


1. The Doctrinal Roots of Islam 3
A religion with roots in rejection - The essence of the nature of God -
Did Jesus die on the cross? -The Ebionite Connection
- Ebionite similarity with Islam - Differences between Ebionism and Islam
The Divinity of Jesus - The divinity of Jesus disputed - the Deification of Mary
The Unity of God -The Divine Trinity - Tertullian’s disservice to the church
- Jesus as the Son of God -The Clouding of important teachings of Jesus
- Compassion neglected

2. Undermining the Unity of the Body of Christ 15
Unintentional undermining of the Unity of the Body - Veneration of Mary
- Faith as work or Works of faith? - Polarisation and rivalry -
- Denominational and doctrinal disunity as sin – Division as Satan’s strategy -
The danger of superficial and artificial unity - Thumbs down to hierarchical
church structures - Scriptural guidance to deal with differences
– The lack of loving open-minded dialogue

3. Using Force to spread the Christian Faith 22
Did Jesus condone warfare? - Abuse of Religion to use force - A fatal aberration
- The Apostles as agents provocateur? - The Crusaders - The special guilt of theologians -
Inter-action between the off-spring of Isaac and Ishmael - Church Guilt in respect of
the Holocaust.

4. Deficient Gospel Presentation 27
Castration of the Great Commission - Racial Prejudice entrenched -
The simple House Church rediscovered - Grace as a central biblical tenet -
A misconception - Turning the other cheek - A tenet of the Hebrew Scriptures !
- No place for vengeance - Feed rather than fight your Opponents - Fight the real Enemy
- Some more biblical examples - Relegation of spiritual weapons
- Emulating worldly standards

5. Neglect of Spiritual warfare 31
Pitfalls - Early Cape ‘Warfare’ Examples - The ‘Mother City’ as a battleground of Spiritual
Forces - Racism as a convenient ally - The Cape Parliament as an ally of dark forces -
A big and a small church in battle -Denominational and racial Exclusivity -
Dutch Roots as the origins of a rift - Persevering Prayer spawns a Western Cape Pentecost -
Nationalisms undermine unity - Unfortunate Connotations - Unsuitable warlike terminology -
Presence Evangelism practised - Persevering Prayer spawns a Western Cape Pentecost -
Nationalisms undermine unity - Prayer involved in the process of political change -
A prayer awakening with a national impact -Sending missionaries of colour overseas
- A significant correction - Praying down the iron curtain - Prayer against the Wall of Islam -
Crippling Western Rationalism - A closer look at the Qur’anic Gabriel -Tactics of the enemy -
Reservations about doubtful practices - The need of prayer covering for workers-
Supernatural powers employed by agents of the enemy- The role of women in (spiritual) warfare -
The Practical Ways of women – Spiritual and ideological Dynamics at the Cape
- Diabolic Alliances – Apartheid revives ailing Cape Islam - Immoral laws from Parliament -

6. Suppression of vital information 46
Alliance of occult forces - Walls of separation - Inadequacies of Jewish and Muslim theologians -
Jesus’ break with nationalism - Was Paul an ‘apostate of the law’? -Paul’s insensitivity
to Jewish Christians - John got off the hook - Paul as the cause of Islamic thought?
-Three contentious issues - Other accusations against Paul - Jesus as the promised Messiah?
- Neglect of the Shekinah concept - Allah became an arbitrary deity - Distorted views of God
- Fear and Fatalism as faith motives- Examples of the proximity of the descendants of Abraham
- Idolatry as the big problem - Lack of discernment of the occult - The origins of the supernatural
being which visited Muhammad - Equivalents of the Angel of Light -
- Compromises with the occult -Muhammad as a victim of the occult -Muhammad in need of
proper guidance - The Shrine Cult – One-sided and (Lack of proper) Academic research
- A Challenge to Muslim academics

6. The Denial of the Cross 54
A Pointer to the cross - Obedience as a central biblical tenet - Atonement through blood -
The sprinkling of the blood - The redeeming death of Jesus divinely fore-shadowed -
The death of Jesus by crucifixion - Jesus as the uniquely born - A ‘denial’ of
the Cross in the Bible - The cross in our lives - Denials of the Cross in the Qur’an
- Opposition to the death and resurrection of Jesus - Jesus as a great sign -
Jesus as a second Moses and God’s Lamb - The tested Abraham
- The negation of the Cross in Church Tradition - The challenge to check baptismal practice

Possible Additions

Lack of boldness - Insensitive and Uncharitable preaching- Spreading of false alternatives
Dissemination of Confusing messages -

Confession for the background of the Expansion of Islam

As a Bo-Kaap-born and District-raised Capetonian I have good childhood memories of harmonious living of the adherents of the three Abrahamic religions. Trained as a pastor of the Moravian Church, I cherish the tradition in which Jan Amos Comenius, the Czech educator and theologian, as well as Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, the German aristocrat, have been playing a prominent role. Both of them had in common a passion to bring the Gospel to all people around the world. But both were also not afraid to rock the boat of church tradition in their respective time and age.
Having attended the theological seminary of the denomination when it was still in District Six at a time when so-called Black Theology came into its own, I was trained to be critical of Western Theology. At the same time, I am also very much aware how prejudiced we have been in Western Protestant Churches in respect of everything different. Long after I left the Cape shores because of marriage in 1973, continuing with informal studies and research in Europe and ever since my return to the Cape in 1992, I enjoyed to examine Church traditions and practice. I loved to compare and test all this against the Bible as Church and Secular History belonged to my favourite research topics.
In the course of private studies of church history I also increasingly sensed a burden, aware of the guilt that the Church universal but also the Church at the Cape in particular has incurred in respect of the other two Abrahamic religions. The material offered here has been prepared first and foremost to help Christians - especially Bible (School) Students across the board - to reach out in love to Muslims and Jews. The over-riding effect of the study on me was a sense of immense guilt towards the Cape Muslims, a people group which has been in this country so long. Nothing would give me more gratitude than if the church of South Africa would start ‘settling’ the debt which has been incurred and which is still being accumulated through lack of understanding and love for the Muslims. But then, any attempt at restitution should ideally go the biblical way - via repentance and confession.
I sincerely believe that the ‘repaying’ must go via the cross of Calvary! A spontaneous reaction out of guilt - without deep remorse - is not good enough. Genuine restitution can only take place when we recognize how the church has been taken on tow by unbiblical ‘reforms’ in so many ways.
That the material offered here has a leaning towards showing our guilt towards Islam, has its reason that this is where I started my serious study of the three Abrahamic religions about fifteen years ago. Although my wife and I have a love for the Jews which goes back many years, I only seriously started looking into the religion Judaism as such when I began researching the biblical personalities common to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Talmud and the Qur’an. I obviously discovered that there is even more guilt of the Church involved with regard to the Jews. First and foremost, there is the arrogant and unbiblical claim that the church came in the place of Israel - the so-called replacement theology.
Traditionally we have been speaking – sometimes derogatorily - about the ‘Old Testament’, forgetting that the Bible is a unit, where both parts are equal in value, i.e. the Tenach, consisting of the first letters in Hebrew for the Law (Torah, the Prophets (Nebiim) and other Scriptures (Chetubim), is very much a basis for the 'New Testament'. The entire 'OT' looks forward to the 'NT' and find in it its fulfilment. 'The people of God under the old covenant were as much a part of what God has been doing through history as we are. They and we are one, the elect people of God' (Lambert, 1975:88).
I know that it is perhaps rather simplistic to identify myself with the Church down the centuries. I take on that on board – knowing that Nehemiah and Daniel confessed on behalf of the nation. (That Moses was prepared to be blotted out when he saw the golden calf idolatry is on another page).
Others would like to highlight that the and not to differentiate between the Body of Christ and the institution Church. So be it. That is in my view in the context of this study unfruitful semantics. For the sake of more clarity, information is repeated in a few instances. To the same end I cut and paste material from other unpublished manuscripts.
I am nevertheless quite aware that the highlighting of inconvenient truths is apt to cause much discomfort, perhaps even shock, trauma and pain to some readers from the three Abrahamic religions. To read that Satan has been hard at work to rob millions around the world of the liberation which Jesus had won through his cross and resurrection, is probably quite unpalatable for many. May I encourage you to wrestle on towards the eschatological hope that I pray would be discovered as well. Therefore there cannot be any place for an arrogant and triumphalist attitude. My intention is definitely not to hit at (some) churches, at the Muslims or at the Jews but rather to create an atmosphere of humble compassion towards other religious groups, while stimulating a climate in which true reconciliation can flourish.
It appears that confession for some of the reasons behind the establishment and the expansion of Islam globally and nationally has hardly been addressed as yet. The spread of Islam can really be termed the ‘unpaid debt of the church.’ A promising start was made with the reconciliation walk in the Middle East in commemoration of the start of the first crusade more than 900 years ago already in 1996, but it has not been followed up. In fact, an attempted to this end from within the ranks of CCM (Christian Concern for Muslims) in South Africa was resisted quite fiercely. Another effort, to include this in a Manifesto in 2004 – where the wording confession of guilt was to be watered down to the expression of regret – was also turned down by the annual leadership consultation.
Internationally, a letter by 138 Islamic theologians to church leaders in October 2007 elicited some response but it was nowhere a clear united effort. This would have been difficult any way in the light of the widely disjointed views. Nevertheless this may have ushered in new thought towards a united biblically sound reply.

Ashley D.I. Cloete
Cape Town, December, 2009

1. Roots of doctrinal distortion in Judaism and Islam

Through His eternal qualities the Almighty is outside and above us. He is the Creator and we are created beings. What a blessing it is that He is a God of revelation. He revealed himself in different ways such as in nature, through people because man has been made in his image and through his Word. The crown jewel of His revelation is however in the prime gift to mankind. For God so loved the world, that he gave his unique Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved (Compare John 3:16, 17). The letter to the Hebrews highlighted the fact that this happened at God’s perfect time, the kairos after He had spoken in different ways and on different occasions. The Son however was to depict His nature and purpose as nothing before it The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Hebrews 1 :3). It is not surprising that the arch enemy had to attack all the central tenets of faith that could bring man back to the loving and forgiving father heart of God. The prime tool of Satan, the father of lies his native language (John 8:44), seems to have been deceit and distortion. Sadly, all too many theologians obliged, right from the times of the early church, so much so that Islam sees Muhammad as God’s final prophet who was given divine revelation, the Qur’an. That balanced view that God is essentially a God of grace, forgiveness and overflowing with love, but who holds the guilty accountable (Compare Exodus 33:19 – 34:7) has been distorted in different ways.
The nature of Yahweh as the one who under girds and uplifts the rejected and dejected is highlighted when he sent an angel no less than twice to Hagar. Ishmael got acquainted with monotheism as he grew up in the household of Abraham.

The essence of the nature of God
John, the apostle who was so near to Jesus heart, passed on the crux of the true nature of God in three words: God is love (1 John 4:16).The essence of the true nature of God comes though - his love and grace - when he used another pagan king, Cyrus, to issue the command for the rebuilding of the temple. The priest Ezra and his helpers seem to be myopic. They seem to have completely forgotten or overlooked that God once vindicated Moses when Miriam and Aaron objected to the marriage of their brother to an African (Numbers 12:1ff); that the pagan prostitute Rahab from Jericho and the Moabite Ruth were included in the ancestry of their great King David on account of their faith in the God of Israel. Conveniently they seemed to have overlooked or ignored the fact that he was different, ruddy or reddish. That he was not originally considered for the anointing points to his outsider role n the family. Could it be that she was the son of a foreign, a non-Jewish mother apart from his known Moabite ancestor Ruth?
The narrative of Esra 4 does nowhere indicate that the offer of the Samaritans to help with the building of the temple was not sincere. The pattern and cycle of pride and rejection continues when they finally build their own temple.
In God’s special grace, not the first apostles started the spread of the Good news of Jesus as the Saviour of the world but a Samaritan woman with a bad reputation (John 4:42). Similarly, while the bulk of the first disciples Christ were still in trepidation in Jerusalem after Pentecost, the believers from Antioch took the Gospel to Samaria and Ethiopia (Acts 8). Yet, Jewish believers were part and parcel of this outreach that took the Gospel, the Good News back to Asia and further afield from places like Babylon (1 Peter 5:13), i.e. most probably by the descendants of some of those Jews who had been forcefully taken there by the Babylonians.
Unfortunately the Ebionite Jewish believers who took the Gospel to the Arabian Peninsula apparently also took with them the theological bickering. The essence of the biblical message, namely the grace of God, the loving Father became completely clouded. The synagogue theologians of the first century CE somehow missed that Yahweh is basically a loving parent, a Father who simultaneously displayed motherly characteristics. Thus Jeremiah (31:9) warned the Israelites that God would punish them because of their idolatry, but that he would be there for them when they return to him repentantly ‘because I am Israel’s father’. But also the maternal side of God is amply represented in the Hebrew Scriptures with the Almighty picking his straying people up with compassion, with a warm heart. The root word which Germanic languages like Dutch has the aspect of the womb – which only a woman has barmhartig – depicting the maternal side of Yahweh, which the Qur'an has in every Surah (Except Surah 9) in the beginning rachman i racheem. Isaiah 66:12,13 gives the picture of the Almighty even more clearly: On her sides you will be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you. Isaiah (63:16) links his parenthood to his redemptive grace: ‘You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.’ Yet, somehow the pagan one-sided view of a punishing and aloof God prevailed.
The writers of the Gospels were apparently so taken up by the opposition of some Pharisees that central biblical teachings got clouded. Thus the late first century Gospel of John on the one hand included the ‘I am’ expressions of Jesus, thus depicting his divinity, his proximity to the Divine, but on the other hand exactly in that Bible book the author refers to ‘the Jews’ so often in a negative way that one could almost think that he forgot that Jesus had taught love for the enemy. Yet, there is sufficient evidence that the early Church had initially been in solidarity with Israel, conscious of the ‘continuity of God’s action in the past with his present activity in Jesus of Nazareth and in his followers’ (Chadwick, 1967:12). The real Bible of late 2nd century author and Church Father Irenaeus was the Hebrew Scriptures. His principal theological emphasis was the historical solidarity of Judaism and Christianity (Carrington II, 1957:320). The God who created the world and revealed himself to the Jews was also the God of the Christians. His revelation was continuous; Jesus Christ was his Son; the apostles proclaimed no other God. The scriptures of the Jews are the scriptures of the Christians.

Jesus rectified common platitudes like the resentment towards Samaritans and condescension towards women, ‘sinners’, tax collectors and prostitutes. The initial impact of Christianity on the Jewish people appears to have been considerable.

A religion with roots in rejection
Islam sees its roots in the hanifs who were living at the time of the youth and adulthood of Muhammad. The hanif was said to have been an adherent of the pure religion of Abraham. If we take that as our point of departure, Islam should get a lot of sympathy from Christians and Jews, the two other religions that have Abraham as their common arch father. It might bring the adherents of these religions closer to each other if we consider Hagar, Ishmael and the Samaritans as spiritual ancestors of Islam. It is fairly easy to show how human failure and carnality caused a major rift. For one, it is very easy to understand that Sarai doubted the promise of a son to be given to them would include her co-operation. She was well beyond the age of giving birth! Abraham’s disobedience - listening more to Sarai than to God - after years without fulfilment of the promise and the fathering of Ishmael by Hagar, the Egyptian slave woman, should likewise receive our sympathies. The pride of Hagar after becoming pregnant is not difficult to comprehend either.
That she was rejected by Sarai should give us sympathy for the underdog. How deeply Ishmael must have experienced the rejection when Sarah gave birth to Isaac and he was pushed aside - no more the heir! It is not difficult at all to comprehend that some Muslims still feel the pain of rejection of their spiritual ancestor.
A similar but less known saga unfolds itself when divine wrath is unleashed at the continued idolatry of the descendants of Abraham. The line of Isaac and Jacob was intended to be a blessing to the whole earth. However, the Israelites soon slid towards all sorts of idolatry. As punishment the Almighty finally allowed Israel’s enemy - in the form of the Assyrian king - to rout the apple of his eye. Ten of the tribes were dispersed, many of them taken to Babylon, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. In stead of those who had been exiled, other people were brought to the region of Samaria. Some of them were also brought from Babylon (2 Kings 17:24). The new inhabitants to the region – in due course they were called Samaritans - were specially taught to worship Yahweh. But those who were to be an example to the Samaritans - not to persist in idolatry - rejected them because they continued worshipping their own idols. In spite of warnings by various prophets, Israel did not seem to learn until the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and the two southern tribes.
The Gospel of John starts with the rejection of Jesus by his compatriots. The Word, the logos came to his own (John 1:12), but the Jews did not accept Him. Islam somehow recognised this title of Jesus as the Word of God duly (Surah 4:171), but the rest of the verse is disregarded: to those who accepted the logos, God gave power to become His children.
The pattern of pride and rejection continued in the life of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. He does not seem to have understood the basic biblical message. It is significant that every Qur’an Surah (except Surah 9) starts with Allah as the merciful. However, after having had grave and extended doubts about the nature of the spiritual inspiration he had received on Mt Hira, he was misled by two Christians, his wife Khadiyah and her cousin Waraqah, a Christian (Ebionite?) priest. Due to this influence, Muhammad later believed that he was a special prophet for the Arabs – still later the prophet for the whole world. Yet, in the early Meccan period of his life he apparently revered the Jews and the teaching about ‘the religion of Abraham' that came through from hanif (Ebionite?) sources. The rejection that Muhammad experienced from Jews (and to a lesser extent from Christians) brought lesser sentiments to the fore, notably in the Medinan period. During this time the compassionate Allah all but disappears. Revenge (Surah 42:39) and war (Surah 2:216; 4:74; 9:5 ; 61:4) are declared holy. It is no co-incidence that Surah 9 with its anomalous name ‘repentance’ but with a clear call to Jihad - does not start with Allah as the compassionate. It begins rebelliously with ‘Freedom from (all) obligations...’

The rift between Jews and Christians
The tension Jews and Christians grew immensely in the second century when the first major theological differences occurred through the doctrines of heretics like Marcion. He can be described as the first anti-Semitic. He clearly tried to cut the proclamation of Jesus from its Jewish roots. The Hebrew Scriptures had to be dumped and only the Gospel according to Luke and the ten epistles of Paul were good enough in his view. He started his own church after he was banned in 144. This church – having started in Rome - appears to have spread quite widely. Only after three centuries the official church succeeded in clearing away the last vestiges of his empire in Syria (De Jong, 1980:30). On the long run, this influence could have played a role in regarding the Hebrew Scriptures as of inferior value compared to the 'New Testament'.
The rift between Jews and Christians became almost complete in the 4th century when the Emperor Constantine rode roughshod over the Jewish observance of the Sabbath, by declaring Sunday with its pagan sun-god connotations a compulsory free day. From here the heretical and arrogant replacement theology was fuelled, whereby it was taught that the church came in the place of Israel. The worst example of this aberration was possibly the Gemeente van die Verbondsvolk, literally the Congregation of People of the Covenant, who was a home for right-wing elements in some parts of South Africa. The sect propagated racial exclusivity, claiming that only Whites can go to heaven, since only they are descendants of the ‘chosen people’.
In the ancient world it was known that the Jews would not be party to - directly or indirectly - any pagan cult. Significantly, Muhammad and Islam followed Judaism not only in the absolute abhorrence of all idolatry, but also in the circumcision of male infants and in refraining from the eating of pork.
Another teaching of Paul to the Roman church, namely that it behoves the Gentile Christians to be humble because we are only grafted into the olive tree, Israel, likewise did not seem to get spread widely. On the contrary, a broad haughty arrogance set in, regarding the destruction of the second temple by Titus in 70 CE and the sacking from Jerusalem as punishment because ‘the Jews’ did not heed their prophets and especially because the group was given the corporate blame for the crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ.

A fitting attitude of the church of Jesus Christ towards Islam and Judaism would therefore be one of remorse, compassion and extreme humility. The first reason for such an attitude is because Jesus gave His love for the whole world, and that also includes Muslims and Jews. The second reason is that it does not behove us as Christians at all to have a negative attitude towards Islam. As we shall see in due course, well-nigh every single doctrine in which Muslims differ with us can be derived from the bickering of learned theologians of the Great Church before the time of Muhammad, whom the Muslims regard as their greatest prophet.

Did Jesus die on the cross?
Orthodox Islam maintains that Jesus did not die on the cross, although the Qur’an is not that clear about the issue. Surah 3:55 refers to the natural death of the son born to Mary and Surah 19:33 can easily be compared to Surah 19:15 that speaks of the death of John the Baptist. No Muslim ever considered that Yahyiah, as he is called in Islamic parlance, died other than in a natural way, after he had been executed or rather killed by order of the wicked despot, King Herod.
However, common Islamic interpretation of Surah 4:157 does not accept Jesus’ death on the cross. This is not new. Already early in the second century of the Common Era (C.E.) it was taught by learned Christians that Jesus did not really die, but that it only appeared so to the spectators at the crucifixion. Probably as early as the beginning of the second century, serious doctrinal clashes occurred. Thus we already find Ignatius, who became bishop of Antioch in 112 C.E., opposing the concept that Jesus suffered in mere appearance. That happened in spite of the fact that there were so many reliable witnesses present at Jesus’ crucifixion.
The heresy of ‘mere appearance’ called Docetism, was especially taught by the Gnostic Basilides around 150 CE. He maintained that Simon of Cyrene consented to be crucified in Jesus’ stead. Thus God cast upon him the likeness of Christ - according to Basilides - and he was crucified. The belief that Judas or Simon of Cyrene died in his place thus actually started within the confines of the church. In the spurious post-Qur’anic 16th century fraudulent ‘Gospel of Barnabas’ Judas was transformed into the likeness of Jesus and crucified, while everybody thought he was Jesus.
Orthodox Islam teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross but that it appeared like that to those who were present. The Islamic position can be explained quite easily. Muhammad was influenced extensively by Waraqah ibn Naufal, the cousin of his first wife Khadiyah, who was reported to have been a bishop of the Ebionite Christian community in the Hijaz, the part of the Arabian Peninsula in which Mecca and Medina are situated. This would fit to the history that Jewish Ebionites settled not only East of the Jordan, but also in other parts for example Syria. In another strand, Muhammad was reported to have received the above-mentioned Docetic teaching from Bahira, a Nestorian monk of Syria.
Though the orthodox position has not changed, there seems to have occurred a change in perception of rank and file Muslims since March 2004. After so many of them have been seeing the film The Passion of the Christ’, it appears that rank and file Muslims now are ready to accept the death of Jesus – albeit without the atoning aspect.

The Ebionite Connection
The Ebionites held views which are almost identical with Islam. Waraqah himself possibly only knew the Ebionite doctrines of his church, possibly ignorant of a personal relationship to God through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, one group of Ebionites stated clearly that faith in Christ alone was not good enough to achieve salvation, that man also had to adhere to the prescripts of the Torah. Abu-al-Moosa, a Lebanese theologian of the Maronite Church, wrote a treatise Between Prophet and Priest (Diar al-akl, 1985). In the book the author describes how Waraqah taught Muhammad, the husband of his cousin Khadijah. He surmised that Waraqah tried to train Muhammad to become his successor. It is indeed significant that neither Waraqah nor Abu Talib - who had been Muhammad’s faithful friend and guardian for forty years - ever became Muslims themselves.
In this treatise I am using the hypothesis of an Ebionite connection extensively, although it has not yet been proved conclusively. There is still a gap of one and a half to two centuries between the disappearance of Jewish Ebionism and the writing activity of Waraqah ibn Naufal. The evidence in the form of almost identical beliefs between the original Jewish Ebionites and Islam is however so compelling that it would be really surprising if the opposite could be proved. The missing link seems to me the Gospel of the Ebionites, of which no known copies exist. (All that we seem to have of it are seven citations from the writings of 4th century theologian Epiphanius. The Ebionite Gospel is evidently a modified version of Matthew’s Gospel, also using some parts of Mark and Luke.) The above-mentioned Abu-al Moosa states that Waraqah translated the Ebionite 'NT' from Hebrew into Arabic. It seems that Abu-al Moosa has been taken on tow by the church father Jerome, not discerning that there were two Gospels used in the Nazorene corner of early Christianity. A.F.J Klijn, in the contribution Hebräer- und Nazoräerevangelium noted that Origines and Clemens quoted from the former Gospel, the one to the Hebrews, and Jerome from the latter, the Nazarene Gospel. Robert Graves and Joshua Podro made an effort to restore it from the latter work, published in 1953.
The Islamic Hadiths (the recorded words and deeds of the supreme Islamic prophet) seem to support my hypothesis, mentioning that Waraqah ‘used to read the Gospels in Arabic’ (e.g. Al-Bukhari, Vol. IV, 605 (p.395) and that he used to ‘write the Gospel in Arabic’ (Al-Bukhari, Vol. VI, 478 (p.451). The deduction can thus be made that Waraqah knew and read more than one Gospel but that he translated only one. The fact that the Ebionite Gospel seems to have been a Gospel harmony rather than one like the well-known ones, makes the suggestion quite attractive. Other scholars take for granted though that Waraqah translated the Gospel to the Hebrews.
Yet, in the excerpts the secondary version of the Ebionite Gospel, Epiphanius includes in his translation clear traces of material borrowed from the Gospel according to Luke. This differs considerably from the beginning of St Matthew’s Gospel. Really surprising is the divergent account of the baptism of Jesus where the voice from heaven is included twice, saying: ‘This is my beloved Son’. Almost in the same breath it says ‘in whom’ the first time and the second time ‘in Thee’, followed by the common ‘I am well pleased’ . This represents quite interesting ‘mutilation’, because it is in a sense a synopsis of the accounts of voice at Jesus’ baptism and the transfiguration where the following different versions occur: ‘with (in) him’ (Matthew 3:17; 17:5), ‘with (in) Thee’ (Mark 1:11 ; Luke 3:23) and ‘whom I have chosen’ (Luke 9:35). Mark 9:7 has no equivalent. Is it unreasonable to surmise that the author of the Ebionite Gospel could have had all different versions in written form at his disposal?
What it does portray is that the oral tradition of the saying of the voice from heaven must have circulated very widely, i.e. in spite of any problems on the part of some Ebionites to accept the divinity of Jesus and his being the Son of God.
On the other hand, the Islamic spirit is radiated by the notion in the Ebionite Gospel, namely that the heavenly Christ has been created like an archangel. The inference would be that Jesus was thus not divine as such.

Ebionite similarity with Islam
Fascinating about the reported facts about the Ebionites are the parallelisms with Islam. That they abstained from pork was not very special, but that they attended ritual baths would have differentiated them from other Christians of the time. Jesus defended the disciples when they were accused of not washing their hands ceremonially before eating (Mark 7:3,4). Inner cleansing which the Lord stressed at this time (v.15ff) could just as well be shown to those modern Muslims who want to make a major point of it that they have a clean religion.
The Ebionites prayed in the direction of Jerusalem at a time when this was not customary Christian practice at all. It is known that Muhammad had Jerusalem as the qibla (the prayer direction), before he changed it after his quarrels with the Jews approximately 624 CE. That they held stubbornly to the Torah and to the circumcision of male babies, was not so very special with their Jewish background. That they discarded all passsages providing for kingship and all anthropomorphic expressions of God, i.e. attributing human characteristics to God, was definitely extraordinary. This runs counter to the Jewish understanding that God is ‘Our Father and our King’. The Ebionite custom to make God non-human would account for the (by no means only) Islamic concept that the Almighty is unchangeable, only transcendental and aloof. This is contrary to biblical faith which makes it clear that God is also immanent; that he can ‘change his mind’ if we repent (see p.??) Remarkable common ground about the Jewish Ebionites and Islam is the fact that unpraiseworthy stories about the representatives of true prophecy are left out. Thus Adam’s sin, Noahs drunkenness, Abraham and Jacob’s polygamy are argued away. Islam offers no satisfactory explanation for their doctrine of the infallibility of the prophets.
In almost Qur’anic wording the Ebionite Gospel is quoted by Epiphanius: ‘and they have perverted for themselves the true order and have changed what is said ... by the combination of words.’
The Ebionites furthermore thought that Jesus was the Saviour who would come to reward each according to his deeds. The aspect of rewards is important to Muslims although they do not believe in Jesus as a Saviour. That the Ebionites believed in Jesus as a Messiah is also paralleled in Islam, although the Qur’an is not clear at all what is meant by it. If James can be taken as representative of Ebionite thinking, then it does become very interesting indeed why he recognized Jesus as the Messiah, according to Klausener, a highly respected Jewish scholar only at a later stage of his life. The reasons given by Klausener (1979:280) are: a) The ethical doctrine which Jesus preached b) The cruel sufferings which Jesus bore. The latter reason becomes important, because it amplifies the problem which Jews had in accepting Isaiah 53 as a prophecy of the Messiah, as the Suffering Servant.
Other interesting information about the Ebionites can be gleaned from Epiphanius in his work against heresies, no. XXX. He wrote for example that Ebionites were vegetarians and objected to the idea of eating locusts. A locust in Greek is akris, and the word they used for cake is enkris, so the change is slight. This is interesting in the light of the Islamic assertion that the Gospel has been changed and especially the charge that John 14:16 has been altered. This verse speaks about the parakletos, which would come after Jesus had left the earth. It could be translated as ‘comforter’, counsellor or advocate. In the context it is quite clear that a person can never be meant. Yet Ahmed Deedat and others down the years have charged that it should have read perikletos, of which the translation into Syriac would render Ahmed, which is according to this view, Ahmed is another version of Muhammad. This would then be a proof that Jesus prophesied the coming of Muhammad. William Montgomery Watt, a renowned scholar, has pointed out that it is impossible to prove that any Muslim child was called Ahmad after the Prophet before the year 125 a.H. Also not a single one of the 70 manuscripts which were written before the time of Muhammad contain perikletos. Conversely, the verses to which Surah 61:6 refer - which suggest that Achmed was prophesied to come - has to my knowledge still not been found in any Bible manuscript.

Comparisons in the writings of Cerinthus
Interesting comparisons can be found in the contents of the writings of Cerinthus, an early Christian heretic and a Jewish convert who ‘subsequently relapsed’. Eusebius, an early church historian, noted that the Ebionites’ opinions were similar to those of Cerinthus, for example that they ‘...adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God’ . In fact, Hans-Joachim Schoeps has pointed out that the Ebionites still prayed to Jerusalem when they were dispersed, against the custom of other Christians of the area. This is surely comparable to the veneration of Mecca by Muslims. Striking is also that Cerinthus preferred to identify the ‘God of the Jews’ with the Angel who is said to have delivered the law (greek nomos). We compare this to the Namus of which Waraqah spoke, which was later thought of as Gabriel and yet later equated to the Holy Spirit in Islamic theology. Here another influence could have filtered through to Waraqah via the Ebionites.
That Cerinthus and the Ebionites held nothing of Paul, was not special. He was regarded as an apostate of the law. All Nazarenes (who were sometimes equated with the Ebionites) - those of the school of James, the brother of Jesus, held to that view. Interesting in this regard is that Klausener (1979:280) calls James ‘this Ebionite observer of the Law’. That James is taken to have opposed John brings him in line with Islam. The most remarkable thing about Cerinthus in the context of Ebionite-Islamic similarity is his eschatology. He stated that ‘the kingdom of Christ will be on the earth, and that the flesh, dwelling at Jerusalem, will once more serve lusts and pleasures’ (Lawlor and Oulton, quoting Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical history I, p.89). The similarity to the Qur’anic vision where the fortunate men will enjoy the pick of many virgins and young lads serving luscious eatables (Surah 56:11-37) can hardly be overlooked.

Differences between Ebionism and Islam
We should however also point to other significant differences between Ebionism and Islam. The greatest difference is the clear intention of the Ebionite Gospel to denigrate the sacrifice cult. Arnold Meyer, a German theologian, pointed out that the Gospel suggested that the mission of Jesus included the eradicating of sacrifices, to proclaim God’s wrath which would be unleashed in the destruction of the temple. The Islamic student immediately realises that even in this feature some comparison can be detected. A major part of Muhammad’s Meccan teaching included warning against God’s judgement and his wrath. That the Ebionite Gospel proceeded to ignore Hebrew Scriptures prescripts along the lines of ‘we do not need the law because the Gospel has come’ - makes it well-nigh Pauline but contrary to Qur’anic teaching. This is in a sense surprising because the ancestors of the Ebionites have been described as the extreme group of opponents of Paul, which he called false brothers in Galatians 2:4.
Islam clearly retained the sacrifice cult of the OT. The slaughtering of animals and the notion of atonement which is connected to it, brings Islam very close to biblical faith. Yet, Islam links the slaughtering of animals to the creed that proclaims Muhammad as the prophet of the one and only Allah. One of the surprises in Islam is the retention of the cult around the black stone. Klaus Müller, a German expert of the history of the Near and Middle East, has pointed out that the centre of the cult seems to have been Ta’if at the time of the beginnings of Islam, where the goddess had a shrine, which was also covered with a cloth like the Meccan Ka’ba. The word Ka’ba is feminine. Euthymius Zigabenus called the stone ‘the head of Aphrodite whom the Arabs worshipped already for ages’. It can only be al-Lat, the Mother of the gods, the ancient Arab main goddess, which Herodot III 8 mentions as ‘Alilat’. ‘One may accept that also the black aerolith stone of Mecca was once the seat of the great goddess of Arabia’.
The Hebrew Scriptures (OT) is absolutely clear in its rejection of the idolatrous worship at so-called sacred stones (Exodus 23:24; Deuteronomy 7:5; Leviticus 26:1; 2 Kings 3:2 etc.). Ibn Ishak had already pointed to the idolatrous nature of the cult around the black stone in the Ka’ba - last not least through Muhammad’s contemporaries Waraqah and three other contemporaries. It has been recorded that Waraqah told Muhammad that a stone cannot hear or see but it seems as if had not spelt it out clearly enough before he died around 619 C.E. When the victorious Muhammad came from Medina to clear the Ka’ba from all the idols, he did not remove the black stone. In fact, other pagan practices became part and parcel of the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is still regarded as the ultimate pillar of Islam. The theological implication of the cult around the black stone becomes clear when one takes into account that Jesus is seen as the foundation stone or corner stone by various 'New Testament' writers, the stone which has been rejected by the builders. This tenet - seen throughout the 'NT' (for example Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7) as the fulfilment of Psalm 118:22 - is completely in line with Hebrew Scriptural proto-types like Joseph, Moses and David who were also initially thumb-downed. Peter adds another dimension, challenging believers to be living stones, as against being dead members of the building with Jesus as the cap stone.

Idolatrous equivalents in the Church
In mitigation of Muhammad it must be said that the example which he had received from the church of his day was not encouraging at all. In fact, many Christians believed that Christ was bodily present in the icons, which were therefore worshipped as such. If anything, the bickering around icons only confused the issue for the followers of Muhammad. The Ecumenical Council called by Caesar Irene in 787 stated that images could be honoured, but worship was only to be given to the triune God. Was this a precedent for the differentiation between ancestor worship and honouring of ancestors, where the line of difference became thinner and thinner even in our day?
It is easily comprehensible of course, why the idolatrous content of the circumambulations of the Ka’ba and the traditional pilgrimage has not been discussed in Islamic circles. If one pillar of the edifice is removed, will the building remain standing? It is nevertheless strange that hardly any soul searching seems to have taken place in the Islamic community at large, in spite of incidents the last few years where many pilgrims lost their lives. These incidents have been occurring in Mecca or en route to the all-important Islamic city. Yet, we should not forget that similar idolatrous pilgrimages are taking place in Christianity for example when Zionists go to Pietersburg every Easter or when Mauritians venerate their ‘saint’, Pierre La Valle, in a way which is not intrinsically different to the Islamic Hadjj. When Roman Catholic Christians go to Lourdes for healing, there is usually not a yearning to have a meeting with God. When Jesus once went on pilgrimage to the feast of tabernacles, he did not make a fuss out of it at all. In fact, he was so inconspicuously present, that he took quite a few by surprise through his presence (John 7:10-14). At the occasion of the pilgrimage of His family when Jesus was only twelve, he demonstrated the right priorities of the pilgrimage: He was ‘in my Father’s house’ (Luke 2:49).

Divinity of Jesus
Of no other person it has been reported that he was without sin and Jesus was the only person who arose from the dead and who did not die subsequently. Only weeks after the resurrection Peter publicly mentioned that. If it was possible to dispute it, surely his body could have been shown. Although the different groups of first century Christians did differ on some doctrinal issues like the law and circumcision, their faith in the resurrection of the Master was unanimous.
Sometimes Paul has been accused of making a god, an idol out of Jesus. Yet, Paul did not even mention one of his miracles. Furthermore, Jesus was not regarded in ancient Christianity as a ‘second God’, but rather seen as a unique representative of the Almighty.
In the Gospels Jesus referred to God as His Father no less than 185 times, and His claim to divinity comes to the fore in many ways, for example in His own statement: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). In the book of Acts the apostles - in fact all the 'NT' writers - implicitly ascribe divinity to Jesus when they refer to him with titles and descriptions like Creator, Lord, Christ and a few more. Some authors have tried to suggest animosity between James and the Nazorean Christian community in this regard on the one hand and the Pauline followers on the other. This is highly artificial because in his epistle James speaks twice about Jesus as the Lord and the Messiah (Christ) and in James 5:7 he awaits the coming of the Lord. That is almost the equivalent of Yahweh. The wording is no different than Pauline equivalents. The description of Peter’s encounter, when he was still a fisherman and not yet a disciple in Luke 5:7, leads to a similar discovery of Jesus as Kurios, Lord. He was so aware of his sinful nature after he witnessed the extraordinary catch of fish against all odds that he fell on his knees in adoration, ostensibly aware that he was in divine presence.
The most exceptional usage in this regard is possibly the description of Jesus by Peter as the Holy and Righteous One in Acts 3:14. This was favourite language of the Hebrew Scriptures, whenever the authors referred to Yahweh and it was also frequently used in the Talmudic period. That Jesus referred to himself as the bridegroom (Matthew 9:15; Matthew 25:1ff) is a veiled indication of his divine image. John the Baptist also describes himself in a similar way as the friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29).
The Divinity of Jesus disputed
Cerinthus appears to have been one of the first to question the divinity of Christ, asserting that His entrance into the world was according to the ordinary laws of nature. In Cerinthus’ Christology Jesus performed miracles, but he did not redeem the world. Arnold (1859:5) quoted no less than Irenaeus, the highly respected church father, noting that John, the apostle of the Lord, wrote an epistle to refute the error, which had been spread by Cerinthus and Nicolaitans. He attempted to confound and persuade them in proclaiming that there is one God, who made all things by his Word. Not quite surprisingly, Cerinthus also denied the divinity of Christ. He admitted Jesus' suffering and crucifixion, but he distinctly denied His resurrection. In opposition to such teachings which appear to have become relatively widespread, Paul wrote the first letter to the Corinthians. Cerinthus started a ball rolling because the divinity of Jesus was hereafter disputed. The likes of Cerinthus were described as anti (against) Christ.
In the third century Arius developed the heresy further, negating that Jesus was of the same substance of God, but not equal to Him. Arius followed Cerinthus in this teaching, which caused much confusion, ripping the heart out of the Gospel. This is a part of the Docetist-Gnostic background of Surah Nisaa (Women) 4:157, which intimates that God took Jesus away before he could die. On this soil the seed could germinate which denied the personality and self-existence of the Word and the Spirit in the God-head. Arius believed that Jesus was created and not fully God, although more than a man. That doctrine became the origins of the Islamic emphasis that Allâh does not have a son. Arius was logically called by Arnold (1859:5) another precursor of Islamism. He was an excellent communicator, putting his doctrinal ideas into musical jingles, a practice copied centuries later in Islam via an Arabic nursery rhyme that God does not have a son. Between Cerinthus and Arius there was general consensus in the Church not to compromise the divinity of Jesus. When Emperors like Nero 'merely' expected them to pay homage annually to the Caesar, offered them the liberty to have their Jesus as a god parallel to that, they refused! They preferred to die for their faith that he is the divine Son of God. Polycarp of Smyrna, a disciple of John, the apostle, was martyred in 160 CE, testifying to his faith in the presence of his executioners. That was the sort of pristine seed of the Church, which also moved Justin, born in Palestine and later carrying the name Martyr, dying in similar fashion in 165 CE.
The Deification of Mary
At the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE the theologians possibly wanted to give simultaneous recognition to their belief that Jesus was divine. The problem became acute when the theologians with their good intentions used all sorts of learned words like theotokos, i.e. describing Mary as the bearer of God. That they congregated in Ephesus, the city of the goddess Artemis, may have played a role in the formulation, theotokos . thus cementing the deification of Mary, which had already taken place in many other places. Most probably they wanted to give simultaneous recognition to the fact that Jesus was divine. That really need not have been such a big issue because the Bible teaches clearly that Jesus could forgive sins. He performed exceptional miracles which displayed his divinity, for example quieting the storm. One reason of the above-mentioned Docetism was that the Gnostics would not accept that God would allow Jesus with his divine nature to die. The Nestorians, from whom Islam was possibly also influenced - Muhammad was reputed to have been influenced by the Syrian monk Bahira and a certain Nestur - also had problems that God could be born as a baby. God’s sovereignty would not allow Jesus with his divine nature to die according to this perception.
We note furthermore that Jesus displayed divine qualities and used ‘I am ...’ expressions which are more than clear allusions to Yahweh, the great ‘I am’, Jesus described himself as ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6) and ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12; 9:5). That He drove out demons and could perform miracles like driving fishes into a net was further evidence that He was more than merely a human. The prophecy of Isaiah of the virgin who would give birth to the Immanuel, the God with us, is a Hebrew Scriptural confirmation of the divinity of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14). Add to this the profound messianic prophecy Isaiah 9:6 which notes that the Child which is born is also Mighty God. The Bible does furthermore say things about Jesus which could not be said of any human, for example that to Him belongs all power in heaven and on earth and that he will be the judge on judgement day.
This could lead to the erroneous notion that Jesus is another god next to God. On this score an aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity could avoid this misleading conception. The Arabic expression ‘??’ (Jesus creates by favour of Allah) offers a way out. It is unfortunate that some Christians have a problem to concede this. As John Gilchrist rightly points out in this regard that ‘Some Christians occasionally become dogmatic and say things that are beyond the teaching of our Scriptures.’ Jesus himself spoke of the works, which the Father has ordained and does through him (John 5:36, also John 14:10).
One of the most wonderful descriptions of the understanding of Jesus as divine is the one of the meek Lamb on the one hand and the King of Kings in the same breath (Revelations 17:14). Klaus Koch showed that Paul’s reference in 2 Timothy 3:8 to the two sorcerers Jannes and Jambres could be seen against the background of the Targum Jonathan on Exodus 1:15, 7:11 and Numbers 22:22. In turn, this Targum refers to the dream of the Pharaoh of a baby - referring to Moses - who is described as a meek lamb who would destroy Egypt. The Gospel of Matthew for one saw Jesus as a second Moses.
The Talmud and Hebrew Scriptures are unanimous that the Almighty is ‘our Father and our King’. The 'NT' describes Jesus as the crowned one in three different ways, namely a) The suffering King on Calvary, which is picked up by the letter to the Hebrews b) the King of glory through his suffering (2:9), and finally c) when Jesus will return as the King of Kings. Related is the Tenach view of God as the shepherd of His people (Compare Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd...). John picks up the thread describing Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The once returning Jesus is furthermore also described as the bridegroom in various 'NT' books. That Yahweh as the husband of His people is a common tenet of the Hebrew Scriptures (for example the book Hosea, Song of Solomon, Ezekiel 16).

The Unity of God
Judaism and Islam hold to a rigid monotheistic view of God which denies that He can be divided rejecting the Christian view of the Trinity. The ‘Shema’, the Jewish creed-like prayer of Deuteronomy 6:4 ‘Hear O Israel the Lord our God is one Lord’ is the foundation of Judaism and is interpreted to signify an indivisible unity of God which rules out the possibility of Jesus being God incarnate, God becoming flesh. Tahwid, the Islamic confession of the unity of God, is clearly derived from the Jewish root. The Hebrew word for God ‘Elohim’ is a plural word (‘im’ is the masculine plural of Hebrew nouns). In Genesis 1:26 and Isaiah 6:8 God speaks in plural form, ‘Let us make man in our image’ and ‘Who will go for us?’
The Hebrew word for one in the ‘Shema’ is ‘echad’ which elsewhere in the Bible refers to a plural unity: e.g. Genesis 2:24 refers to a man and a woman becoming one flesh, ‘basar echad’ in marriage. They remain two people but become one through the marriage relationship. So also the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons, but one ‘echad’ in the Godhead. There is another Hebrew word ‘yachid’ which means an indivisible unity, one who is unique. This word is used in Zechariah 12:10 for ‘his only son’, but it is not used of the Lord in Deuteronomy 6:4. If it were, we would have to concede that the doctrine of the triune nature of God is impossible. The 13 principles of faith which were formulated by Maimonides in the Middle Ages – writing in Arabic - are the basis of faith of modern Judaism. Here the word ‘yachid’ is used to describe the unity of God. However, this was written after the coming of Jesus as Messiah and in conscious opposition to Christian teaching.

One of the pillars of Islam is the Shahada, the confession that there is no other God than God, and Muhammad is his prophet. At this juncture we are especially interested in the first part of the Islamic creed. Christians (and Jews) should have no problem with this because this is only another way of saying ‘Where is a God other than the Lord and where is a rock other than God’ (Psalm 18:32 = II Samuel 22:32 or 1 Corinthians 8:4 ‘there is no God other than one.’ Christians should bear in mind that it is basically the zeal of Muslims for God ‘that provokes them to denounce as blasphemy any honour paid to Christ which ... makes Him to be more than man.’ Muhammad started out his ministry as a fight against all forms of pagan idolatry. Added to this was the fact that the West Syrian monophysites, of which many later fled out of Mecca, stressed in a one-sided way the divinity of Christ, so that nothing was left of his humanity. At the same time the Nestorians separated the two natures - the divine and the human - so drastically that Christ became a sort of a temple in which God lived temporarily. Qur’an sentences like ‘In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ...’ (Sura 5:19 and repeated in 5:175) and ‘Christ Jesus...was (no more than) an apostle of God’ (from Sura 4:171) should be understood against this background.
In the Qur’an, God (Allah) is declared to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent (Surah 6:59, 58:3, 57:3); creator (Surah 6:101); is perfect in all his works (67:3); provides for all (15:20, 17:21,32); changes not (48:23); is the first and the last (57:3); forgiving (5:98); mighty and wise (60:7); the compassionate and the merciful (at the head of every Sura) – and which all Christians agree to be divine characteristics. But he is also said to mislead (35:9, 13:27), and to have predestined every act, both good and bad (91:8, 14:4, 32), which is contrary to the Scriptures. This leads to a fatalistic approach on the part of many Muslims. Some Surah’s speak of God’s love, but none speak of God’s loving the undeserving, the unrighteous, whereas in the 'New Testament' we read that While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… The German scholar Schumann proposed that Muhammad was neither interested in the monophysite fusion of the two natures of God nor in the Nestorian stressing of its independence, nor in opposing both views.
An interesting feature of Tawid, the Islamic confession of the unity of God, is the variation among the Nusairians, which could be regarded as an early sect of the Shiite Muslim grouping. In their doctrine the Nusairians professed: ‘There is no other God but Ali, the son of Abu Talib. He is above all an Almighty God.’ In their so-called Catechism he is also praised as the Creator of Man.

The Holy Trinity
The Christian viewpoint of the Trinity (Tri-unity of God) is that Father, Son and Hold Spirit are co-eternal, co-equal and consubstantial (of the same substance especially of the three persons of the Trinity). All are at work in creation, preservation and redemption. Isaiah 9 is a profound messianic prophecy that supports a triune God. We note that the Child which is born, the Son given, is also Mighty God. He is also divine. The government will one day rest on His shoulders. This speaks of a physical reign on earth, during the millennium after His return to the earth as the King of Kings. The Qur’anic doctrine of God is Unitarian (God is not a Trinity but one person). This unity is seen as a mathematical unity, as opposed to the unity of created life, even plant life, which is complex.
The second century North African theologian Tertullian became known for profound insights, among other things about the Trinity. His adage that martyrdom is the seed of the church has been quoted again and again. Yet, although there was so much persecution of Christians in Carthage during his lifetime, his numerous writings sadly 'leave little of the public and external history of the North African Church' (Chadwick 1967:91). Instead, Tertullian brought the element of loveless bickering into the equation like few others before or after him.

Tertullian’s Disservice to the Church
He rendered the church a disservice when he introduced the terms ‘trinitas’, ‘substantia’ and ‘personae’ - his effort to describe the Trinity, the nature of Christ and the different manifestations of God in the Son and the Holy Spirit. His terse descriptions ‘one substance but three persons’ and ‘two natures, one person’ were nice-sounding, but they ushered in theological polemics. The early Christians confessed both Christ and the Spirit to be Lord and there are indications of the equating of the three ‘persons’ in the 'NT' . Tertullian’s philosophical theologising - which centuries later Count Zinzendorf was to describe aptly as ‘odium’, as bad smelling and against which Paul had been warning (e.g. Colossians 2:8) - was however possibly the start of the bickering that led to the Arian controversy and later to the unfortunate quarrels around the formulation of the Holy Trinity. Taken from a position of faith, the Trinitarian formulae had much clout, but they have little scriptural backing. Ephesians 4: 4-6 speaks of ‘one Spirit… one Lord …one God and Father of all.’ In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6 Paul writes of the same Spirit, the same Lord and the same God. Peter chips in with his words ‘the foreknowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:2). Yet, that is perhaps too meagre upon which to build the whole doctrine of the Trinity.
Chadwick (1967:91) notes that Tertullian’s Apology does not merely include apologetic defence of the Christian doctrine, but also ‘militant and trenchant attack on the corruption, irrationality, and political injustice of polytheistic society.’ This could still get wide approval, but Chadwick goes on to highlight that every page of Tertullian’s work ‘is written with the joy of inflicting discomfort on his adversaries for their error and unreasonableness, but in such a manner as to embarrass his own friends and supporters.’

Jesus as the Son of God
In the further development, Mary also became known as the ‘mother of God’ when she was venerated in the common day-to-day talk. Jesus’ divinity had been taken as a point of departure. From here it was only a minor step until some Christians understood under the Trinity: God the Father, Mother Mary and Jesus the Son. In this regard Klijn pointed to the semitic origin of the notion of the Holy Spirit to be feminine This probably led to the conception of the Trinity where mother Mary replaced the Holy Spirit as the third person.
Ebionite Christianity rightly objected against this concept which was nothing else than veiled polytheism. They understood that some Christians believed in tri-ism, in three gods. This is the concept which the Qur’an opposes fiercely: Jesus was born from the virgin Mary. The words that He was ‘not begotten’ can be found repeatedly in the sacred book of the Muslims. The misunderstanding is also behind the problem which the Qur’an encounters, seeing Jesus as the Son of God. It is disputed that He is the walad of Allah, the literal and physical son of God. The Qur’an does not object against Jesus being the ibn, the figurative Son of God. Following from this it was only logical that the most central verse of the 'New Testament', John 3:16, became anathema to Jews and Muslims alike because it was widely translated as God’s ‘only begotten Son’. The intention of the Greek word in the original text monogenes, is better reflected if Jesus is described as the unique Son of God (see also p. 3??).
Unfortunately later theologians meant to emphasise the fact that he was born in a human way and not supernaturally conceived. The fact that a big sector of the church did believe that he was uniquely born was almost completely obliterated as the theologians argued in the church, causing confusion for many centuries. Islam was directly influenced, which is demonstrated by the fact that the Qur’an stresses time and again that Jesus was ‘not begotten’. From here it followed that he was not the walad, the Son of God in the legal and literal sense.
There is no doubt that the 'New Testament' teaches clearly that Jesus is the figurative Son of God. But Jesus did veil the Father’s identity from his enemies, not using the name ‘God’ when he spoke to them. Denying himself, He always nevertheless honoured the Father, when he said for example: ‘The Father is greater than me’ (John 14:9). According to the 'New Testament', even demons reckoned with Him as such. In fact, in the initial stages of His ministry Jesus stopped them from proclaiming this message far and wide (Mark 5:8; 1:27, 33). Once again, the bickering theologians caused simple believers and hence Muhammad and the Muslims, to stumble.
The concept of Jesus as the Son of God is not a peripheral but a central teaching of the 'NT' . In his first epistle John even uses the tenet as a test of the Antichrist. Whoever does not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, reflects the spirit of the Antichrist (1 John 2:22). Those who display the spirit of the Antichrist, such as those writers who thus contradict the concept, has to be regarded as false prophets (1 John 4:1) according to John, the apostle.
It is striking that variant teachings and bickering also occurred in Islam. Sometimes the doctrine of Islam and Christian faith intermingled. This happened for example when the Nusairians came up with their own doctrine of the Trinity. Thus one can read: ‘Muhammad went forth from Ali’s light, proceeding to let Salman emanate from him so that the three combine into a solitary Trinitarian divinity and here on earth only separated by their earthly manifestations as Ali, Muhammad and Salman.’ Müller quoted the following from a book from Salisbury: ‘And these three are their Most Holy Trinity, Ali being the Father, Muhammad the Son, and Salman al-Farisi the Holy Spirit.’

Clouding of important teachings of Jesus
Another tragic part of the squabbling of the theologians of the early church is that Christ’s most important teaching - that of love, forgiveness and the negation of revenge - became clouded. If there is one line of thought which is central to the 'New Testament' - and also very much present in the Hebrew Scriptures - it is the idea of self-sacrificing love. Peter summarised so well how Jesus practised it: ‘Christ ...(left) you an example...When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly’ (1 Peter 2:21-23). Of course, Jesus was simply displaying the divine character of His Father. God started anew with His people, forgiving them after they had turned to idols, to foreign gods. The prophet Hosea had to demonstrate the picture to His people, the Israelites. The nation of Israel was supposed to be the wife. The unfaithful wife, resembling a harlot, but God as the husband still loved and forgave her.
The important teaching of the Master which somehow fell by the wayside when the Church became legalistic, was His new ‘royal law’: the law of love (James 2: 8), combined with the refraining of revenge. Paul experienced this personally. He, who originally had been the fundamentalist persecutor of the followers of Jesus, was won over by the love of the Master. Hereafter, Paul taught that the law is merely an educator, which can drive one to (the love of) Christ. This happens when one senses that one can never meet the demands of the law in your own strength. Hereafter he himself taught Christians to pour heaps of fire, i.e. love in stead of revenge. In this regard it is interesting that the one part of Jesus’ summary of the law in Matthew 22 is actually a quotation of Leviticus 19:18 which says, ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.’
It is a tragedy that in stead of loving correction and teaching, Muhammad experienced rejection and ridicule as a role model from the side of the Christians and Jews. The quarrelling Christians possibly obstructed Muhammad from hearing the passionate Abraham who interceded for the sinful people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22ff); from listening to the pleading Moses who was willing to be blotted out to save his people (Exodus 32:32); from discovering how David refused to take revenge more than once when Saul was at his mercy. Jonah was reprimanded by God for his nationalistic thinking. Muhammad and the Muslims evidently did not pick this up. The Qur’an only mentions ‘a spreading plant of the Gourd kind’ (Surah 37:146), thus without any rebuke to Jonah. The prophet had to learn that God was basically compassionate, that He takes ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their wicked ways and live’ (Ezek. 33:11). Compare also the reprieve of David (2 Samuel 12:13) and Ahab (1 Kings 21:28) after they repented and humbled themselves before God.
Compassion neglected
Another facet of the teaching of Jesus which became clouded was compassion. A tenet of the teaching of Jesus, which became completely clouded, was compassion. The original Greek word splagchezesthai was used in the 'NT' eight times, all of them in conjunction with Jesus. Three of the occurrences appear in parables, amongst other things in the famous ones of the ‘prodigal son’ and the Good Samaritan. Jesus had compassion on the crowds who were hungry and like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 8:37f). Furthermore Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that care and compassion for the needy should be performed quietly, not by trumpeting it out aloud (Matthew 6:1ff). Already in the early church this tenet went amiss when Ananias and Sapphira had to be rebuked. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be cheerful givers (for the poor in Jerusalem), reprimanding them to take their cue from the poor Macedonians who gave sacrificially (2 Corinthians 8: 1-4). In fact, they ‘urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints’ in Jerusalem. James likewise had to rectify believers who evidently thought that one could be pious (and rich) and yet look past the poor and needy on one’s door-step, yes, even exploiting one’s workers (James 5:1-6). Following these teachings exemplary practices continued throughout the first century. Services were held on various days of the weeks, albeit that Christian life became ascetic and legalistic. Wednesday and Friday were fasts, which were called 'stations,' like that of soldiers of Christ standing guard (Walker, 1976:38). The Lord's Prayer was repeated thrice daily. It is easy to discern the pristine roots of the Islamic salat, the ritual prayer five times a day - with the creed included every time. It was said that 'Fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving better than both' (2 Clement 16). The great event of the year was Easter with a 40-hour fast vigil held till the dawn of Easter morning. This was extended, by the time of Nicæa (325 CE) to a forty days' lent. In the Islamic era this became the month long fast of Ramadan and in the medieval Church works of normal compassion became something by which one could earn salvation. In Islam this tenet became institutionalised into one of the pillars of the religions, zakat (alms).

To sum it up: in doctrinal matters, we should be very compassionate and loving towards Muslims, because their fore-bears in the Middle East have been misled by the bickering Christians. Central teachings of Jesus have been clouded by the majoring on minor issues by the theologians of the first few centuries of the common era. Around these very teachings of Jesus the adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths could have rallied. In fact, it could have set the ball rolling for millions to become followers of the Master, the rabbi from Nazareth, called Nabi Isa by Muslims. Still on the negative side, the bickering of the theologians undermined the unity of the body of believers, which should have been a priority. This we address as the next topic.
2. Undermining the Unity of the Body of Christ

The golden thread going through the Bible is that God loves the world and that he chose a small nation to bring salvation to the world. From this nation, the Jews, one person - the Messiah - brings millions from all tribes, peoples and nations in voluntary faith back to the Creator, the Father and supreme ruler of the universe. The unity of the body of believers is attacked right from creation where the liar from the beginning causes estrangement between man and his maker, between husband and wife as well as enmity between man and nature. Restoration of the harmony and unity of these elements seem to be part of the Messianic vision of Isaiah 11. The 'New Testament' has an equivalent in the unity of the body of believers in Jesus Christ. It is thus no surprise that an attack on this unity is not new to the church. We have to call the disunity of churches sinful, a heresy - another brand of apartheid. Jesus saw the unity of His followers as something of great importance. It is recorded in the Gospel that He prayed for all those who would follow Him, to be one (John 17:21) and proceeding ‘that they may be brought to complete unity’ (John 17:23). Paul did not mince his words either, calling those believers who hero-worship strong personalities babies in the faith (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-5). One of the very early attacks in this regard has been the elevation of the 'NT' at the cost of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hellenistic Church stressed the importance of the latter part of the Bible, especially of Jesus and Paul, sometimes almost ignoring that they were Jews out and out. Who dares to contradict the German theologian Klaus Berger that even in our day and age pastors have been silent in mentioning the Jews and the ‘religionsgeschichtliche’ side of the Bible.

Unintentional division of the Body of Christ
Much of the division of the Body of Christ was unintentional. Thus Irenaeus, a respected theologian from Lyon, who died around 200 CE, turned around the neutral Greek word derived from haireomai, meaning to "choose") into a negative term. Originally heresy meant either a choice of beliefs or a faction of believers, or a school of thought. It was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his tract Against Heresies to describe and discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. He described his own position as orthodox (from ortho- "straight" + doxa "belief") and his position eventually evolved into the position of the early Christian Church. Yet, the effect was devastating nevertheless. Justin Martyr clearly did not have this in mind in the second century when he suggested that the church replaced Israel. In the first chapter we looked at bickering and fighting about some doctrines, which led to Islamic fallacies. We should delve somewhat deeper into a few issues, which had a catastrophic effect as the unity of the Body of Christ was undermined. The stressing of one verse at the expense of the full biblical revelation is not limited to the founders of sects. In a theologically debatable way Martin Luther for example did that as well. The latter famous personality possibly undermined the unity of the body of Christ like no one else before him through his sectarian interpretation of Romans 1:17 - by faith alone. Furthermore, I surmise that the polarisation and rivalry between the respective followers of James and Paul has often been blown out of proportion. For one, Martin Luther blew into that horn.
One of the biggest problems in the churches of the third world is a dependency syndrome that has been created by Western missionaries. The spiritually most healthy churches were planted in Africa and Asia when the missionaries themselves were poor. Rightly Glen Schwarz, an American missionary who held seminars in various countries on how to overcome the dependency syndrome, rightly stated that charity destroys dignity. A undignified cap-in-hand beggar mentality exists in many a third world country because of missionaries who somehow never took hold of the three-self biblically derived principle, which Rufus Anderson has been propagating decades ago: self supporting, self-propagating and self- reproducing.
Towards the end of the chapter we take our cue from Scripture in a suggestion to heal the rifts.

Veneration of Mary
Too much influenced by the Reformation, Protestants are in general very negatively inclined towards Roman Catholicism, especially with regard to anything that honours the Mother of Jesus. Because of this, Mary is perhaps even more highly regarded by Muslims in general than by the average Western Protestant. We should be thankful for Orthodox Christianity which could have rectified our view to appreciate that. The indirect indoctrination which we in the West experienced – especially in the cold war period – possibly blinkered us so much that also this was usually out of sight of our churches and seminaries, if not brought along with suspicion of Communist influence.
Thankfully there are Protestants who have attempted to value the biblical truths highlighted in the veneration of Mary. Richard Wurmbrand (If Prison Walls could speak, 1972:41) thus pointed to a beautiful hymn sung in the Orthodox churches on Good Friday, to express the awe which her Son inspired in Mary. In his sermon Mary sees everything, which he preached to the prison cell walls without having access to a Bible, the Holy Spirit revealed some profound truths, such as that she believed in him whereas his own physical brothers did not (John 7:5). In a balanced way he argues with ‘my Orthodox and Catholic friends’, noting that ‘They seem to forget sometimes how unspeakably small the Virgin Mary felt herself to be, and how unworthy, when she held the infant in her arms.’
The prophetic word of the aged Simeon, that a sword would pierce her soul, was possibly pointing to her experience decades later at the feet of the Cross, where she would witness how her Son would die cruelly and innocently.
The enemy of souls abused the worship of Mary to deceive many people. I would like to stress that this is definitely not to be construed as a swipe at the Roman Catholic Church. The things I am about to mention all happened long before the Reformation. In fact, it also occurred long before the schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and Rome.
Attempts at the veneration of Mary were already present in the 'New Testament'. There were at least two efforts during Jesus’ lifetime to put Mary on a pedestal in a wrong way. In both these instances Jesus deemed it necessary to rectify his audience. They are recorded in Luke 11:27-28 and Matthew 12:46-50.
In the afore-mentioned Scripture, Luke 11:27-28, a woman from the crowd called out to Jesus: ‘Blessed is your mother - the womb from which you came, and the breasts that gave you suck!’ Jesus basically agreed to these sentiments in his reply, but he put things in perspective: “Yes, but even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.” This reply of Jesus was in a sense an echo of what Mary herself said at the wedding in Cana when Jesus started his ministry. In John 2:5 we read how she said to the servants: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
In the second Scripture reference, Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus was speaking in a crowded house when his mother and brothers wanted to talk to him. When someone told him they were there, he remarked: ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? “Look!” he said, “These are my mother and brothers.” Then Jesus added, “anyone who obeys my Father in heaven is my brother, sister and mother.”
So we see that even during Jesus’ lifetime, He had to rectify people who wanted to make more out of Mary than what she herself had perceived to be primarily, namely the servant maid of God. At the same time, it joins all people who want to do the will of the Father, who worship Jesus as the Son of God. They become a big family, as brothers and sisters of each other. Thus we could even interpret Jesus’ reply as a stinging attack on all forms of sectarianism and denominationalism.
In spite of Jesus’ own words - which were of course not yet freely available - Mary was worshipped before long almost like a goddess, at the expense of her son. An idolatrous worship followed, a practice which was later to be imitated also in respect of ‘saints’. As a rule, these revered (wo)men of God were devoted Christians who themselves had pointed people to Jesus. As we have seen, Mary herself did just that when she said: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
Protestants are often quick to put the blame for the veneration of Mary on the Roman Catholic Church. It is sobering to remind ourselves as Protestants that this early development is part and parcel of our common church history, many centuries before the Reformation. This is an integral part of our common guilt.
The Roman Catholic Church must however take full blame that there has hardly been any effort to rectify the idolatrous worship of Mary, that two doctrines were added which have no biblical basis, namely the immaculate conception of Mary and her supposed ascension. The veneration of Muhammad and his ‘ascension’ could be traced to this development.

Eternal Life is a free Gift Judaism also practised ‘work righteousness’. Even worse, their righteousness got stuck in mere outward rituals. Already a prophet like Isaiah (for example chapter 58) criticized the rituals and feasts that were devoid of godly lives to match them. Jesus in particular followed in this tradition, lashing at fasting, prayer and empty traditions that became little more than mere outward show.
Through the fallacious emphasis on works and later indulgences were added, the notion got buried that eternal life is a free gift according to the Word. 'The wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' (Romans 6:23). Eternal life is in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. 'God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11). Because of the not completely erroneous teaching that one needs constant remission of sin, the need for indulgences remained. The Word teaches however that one needs not be unsure about salvation and the prospect of eternal life: 'These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life' (1 John 5:13).
One of the expressions of work righteousness was how the Roman church made out of Latin an almost heavenly language, whether the rank and file believer understood it or not. This was evidently the heritage the Church bequeathed from the Jews, who hold their language in such high esteem for religious purposes to this day. Even the assimilated Jew is subconsciously aware that no translation of the Bible can possibly serve as a substitute for the Hebrew original. One notes that Jesus had evidently spoken the vernacular Aramaic (and not the classical biblical Hebrew). Paul used the Greek trade language of the region. The Islamic rituals followed a similar pattern with the automatic reciting of Arabic prayers, which are up to this day all too often not understood in many parts of the world – mere ritual.

Faith as Work or Works of Faith?
For many centuries the teaching of works of faith was evidently not always understood properly. How else was it such a revolutionary experience for Martin Luther to discover in Romans 1:17 that ‘the righteous shall live by faith alone’? We note that this Pauline verse was merely citing Habakkuk 2:4. Luther definitely over-interpreted Paul. The charges of Judaism against Paul – all too often selectively abused by Muslim scholars - are however like-wise overdrawn. The prolific epistle writer possibly never intended to play works out against faith as Martin Luther and other theologians since him have done. In fact, in his beautiful song on love, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul ends with ‘Faith hope and love... and the greatest of these is love.’ Are not love and works almost identical in this context, albeit that he attacked works in that chapter that are not motivated by love?
From the letter that the second century church father Policarp wrote to the Philippians, it can be safely deduced that he must have known the bulk of the writings of the 'New Testament'. It is evident that he picked up the gist of Pauline teachings accurately when he described the relationship between faith and love (works): ‘Faith is the mother of all, it is followed by expectation (hope) whilst the love to God, Christ and the neighbour leads the way.’
Luther has possibly to be given the most blame for making works of faith suspect, even going to the extreme of calling the Epistle of James strawy and changing the order of the books in his Bible translation such that the epistle of James is find just before the book of Revelations. Many believers since Luther went to another extreme: they over-emphasised faith, sometimes even excluding works of compassion. The Bible teaches the combination of faith and works, or better still, works of faith. Jesus’ example of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25ff) is the prime paradigm, where the ritually and doctrinally ‘incorrect’ Samaritan - in the view of Jesus’ audience - put the Levite and the Priest to shame. The probable view of the law expert, who had questioned Jesus, would have been a legalistic one. In his epistle James stressed that our faith should be derived from our works; yes, that faith without deeds are dead (James 2:14-26). In this passage James highlights the act of the harlot Rahab, performing a deed of faith when she was still a pagan.
It is possible that James deemed it necessary to give this correction because of an extreme interpretation of Pauline teaching. Paul merely meant that works could not be abused to boast with. But he did not discard them either. In fact, 1 Corinthians 3:10 shows that he did reckon with rewards. In that context however, the rewards are definitely not material. Elsewhere Paul gives an idea what he means with the remuneration the believer should be looking at. In his second letter to the Corinthians the believer is challenged to aspire to be ‘transformed into his (the Lord’s) likeness’ (3:18) and in 1 Corinthians 9:25 he writes about a crown that will last forever. The crown refers to a reward in respect of the quality of the material used in building on the foundation Jesus Christ. Paul pointed to the committed mature believers of Phillipi as ‘You... my crown’ (Philippians 4:1). Thus believers who have been discipled well, is the sort of reward Christians should be aiming for. At the same time, building on any other foundation than Jesus is disqualified for any reward.

Polarisation and Rivalry
A strong case could be made for suggesting that the controversial Paul caused division in the early church. It can however be easily shown that this allegation has to be qualified. If there was one who had a vision for the unity of the body, it was Paul. In his early letters, especially in the letter to the Galatians, Paul was however definitely not following in the Master’s footsteps meticulously in this regard. But even this must be seen against the Judaizers, who went around giving the impression that James had sent them, but without authorization (Acts 15:24), thus disturbing the unity. Paul’s teaching to the Gentile churches on unity was excellent, but possibly he did not do enough to restore the strained relations between him and the Jewish Christians. The question is however, if they would have allowed him. In Acts 21:17ff it is reported how Paul attempted to follow up James’ advice. But he was nevertheless almost killed by the Jews, who were furious because of his teaching on the law and circumcision. The opponents of Paul seem to forget that there was unity at the Jerusalem Council that the Judaizers’ insistence on circumcision was first opposed by Peter, thereafter Barnabas, Paul and James. Furthermore, although Paul was so firm about not enforcing circumcision for the Gentiles, he baptised Timothy himself (Acts 16:3) ‘because of the Jews’. He thus demonstrated that he was not dogmatic or legalistic about it at all.
Paul evidently deemed the unity of the body as of prime importance. He taught not only about the different parts of the body (Romans 16 and 1 Corinthians 12) but he also wrote ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:3). Paul knew that unity is something at which we must work. Earnestly Paul appealed to the bickering church in Corinth where factions had developed. He reprimanded not only the followers of Apollos and Peter, but also his own fans in the church for hero-worshipping him. God must be worshipped because he alone can give growth. The flesh in us likes to get recognition, likes to build the own kingdom. Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church included a moving plea: ‘I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ... that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 and 3:1-5).
Religious leaders through the ages fell into the trap of allowing themselves to be either hero-worshipped or causing splits (or both) through a strong emphasis on some special doctrinal teaching. Bearing in mind that all great men have aroused the opposition of lesser minds, I dare say that Paul, Muhammad and Martin Luther all became guilty in this regard, misleading many in the process.
If anyone was guilty of polarisation, then it was Martin Luther. Whatever differences he may have discerned between the Pauline teaching of ‘faith not works’ and James’ emphasis on ‘works of faith’, Luther polarised in a very unbecoming way. We have shown already that the differences were not that big. (The main difference between the faction of James and that of Paul was the relationship to the Law, of which Paul was regarded as an apostate by different Jewish Christian groups). To go to the extreme of shifting the epistle of James to the back of his translation - just before Revelations - as Luther did – and calling it ‘eine recht strohene Epistel’ (a rather straw-like letter), was very disrespectful. He also made it clear that he would have preferred to discard it completely,. Yet, we should not be too harsh on Luther ourselves. He surely reacted to his misguided understanding of Pauline teaching and his reaction to the emphasis on work righteousness in the church of his day. Besides, Luther was under the impression that the epistle of James was an ordinary Jewish letter, which had no right to be included in the canon because apart from the description of Jesus as Messiah, there was hardly anything specific Christian about it. Klaus Berger has pointed out that modern research saw behind James’ admonition of Peter (not Paul) for his interpretation of the Jerusalem accord: a) the concern of James for the protection of his Jerusalem church and b) the continued fellowship with the heathen Christians. Nevertheless, Luther caused the biggest church split in history that has been rather one-sidedly called the Reformation.

Denominational and doctrinal Disunity as Sin
The teaching of unity as a biblical priority has been generally neglected. It is interesting that Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in North Africa from 248-258, already saw the importance of the unity of the church, yet allowing for plurality. He wrote: ‘The church is a unity, yet by her fruitful increase she is extended far and wide to form a plurality; even as the sun has many rays, but one light; and a tree many boughs but one trunk, whose foundation is the deep-seated root... So also the Church, flooded with the light of the Lord, extends her rays over all the globe; yet it is one light which is diffused everywhere and the unity of the body is not broken up....yet, there is but one head, one source...’
Comenius, the last bishop of the old Czech Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) wisely discerned that there should be unity in essentials. Differences in minor issues should be allowed. Count Zinzendorf took it further, spelling it out that differences could even serve towards mutual enrichment. There have been only a few exceptions like the 18th century German Count Zinzendorf who practised and preached the unity of the body with verve. He for one was very unhappy when his fellowship agreed to become a denomination to enable them to operate in Britain.
Sigurd Nielsen, a bishop of the Moravian Church and a Danish national who served for many years in the Transkei, examined the idea of tolerance with Zinzendorf. He summarized the tension with the word homopoikilie, a term which expresses the unifying in diversity and the diversity in unity (Nielsen, Der Toleranzgedanke bei Zinzendorf, p. 60).
In no way could we condone an airy-fairy covering up of differences. We must recognise that division is the paramount strategy of satan. If he can use the church and its leaders for this purpose, he will never hesitate. One of the examples of recent times is John Wimber. Although God has used him so powerfully through his teaching of Power Encounters, his personal history left deep scars. He left the Calvary Chapel, which grew out of the Jesus People movement of the late 1960s after his doctrinal disagreement with Chuck Smith, the founder and leader.
Through the ages the enemy has succeeded to sow division in the evangelical churches. The blessing that God could have used to bring millions to the cross, has become a negative in many a case. The ‘flesh’ in some Christians who wanted to assert themselves saw to that. The early church seems to have handled the supernatural gifts of the spirit in a more balanced way (see Acts 2:42-47).
On another level, a row developed in the USA a decade ago for no clear reason, after some evangelicals have had close contact with Roman Catholics. This sort of thing will surely bring rejoicing in the arch enemy’s camp. Of course, in no ways should biblical principals be compromised.
Not only to people from other religions, the denominational and doctrinal disunity poses a problem of no mean dimension. The unity in Christ must be practised and seen to be a reality in the lives of believers. Disunity on the other hand must be confessed for what it really is - sin! The Indian Bishop Azariah said at an international Church Conference in Lausanne in 1927 very aptly: ‘The divisions of Christendom may be a source of weakness in Christian countries, but in non-Christian lands they are a sin and a scandal.’ The American intercessory leader Cindy Jacobs has put it even stronger in the mid-1990s. She not only referred to the idolatry of denomination and pride in doctrine as sectarianism, which it really is, but she also called it a demonic stronghold. Viv Grigg wrote very aptly: ‘The spiritual unity of believers is a key to spiritual power... The Holy Spirit may not work significantly in a situation where he is grieved due to disunity.’ Conversely, and I quote Grigg yet again, ‘prayer is a common denominator around which many diverse Christian groups can work in unison.’
In South Africa the concrete fear of civil war before the elections was such a common goal. It spawned prayer meetings which straddled the racial divide. Although much of the mutual distrust has been overcome, the country has more or less lapsed back into its traditional racial and denominational divisions. Though there were for example many prayer meetings for the gateway cities during October 1995, they were generally either confined to prayer within the own church, or - but this was already the big exception - to prayer within the own racial grouping. Very little has changed initially but 1998 saw significant steps in the right direction, such as through the initiatives of NUPSA (Network of Prayer in Southern Africa) and Herald Ministries. Grigg’s recipe is still very appropriate: ‘If their is not significant unity, the first step is to bring together the believers in prayer or in renewal and teaching until there is reconciliation and brokenness.’
The church universal would do well to take heed of Patrick Johnstone’s advice: ‘Courses on prayer to be incorporated into required curricula of Christian seminaries, colleges and schools.’ Rarely found prayer courses are generally only an elective. A change here could deeply affect the Church and the progress of world evangelization. It is surely healthy to put this advice against the backdrop of the fact that Johnstone’s Operation World has been published in whole or in part in more than 15 languages, and the total number of volumes printed over nearly 30 years is approaching 3 million! The book has arguably influenced world missions more than any other book to date.

Division as Satan’s Strategy
We must recognise that division is the paramount strategy of Satan. If he can abuse the Church and its leaders, he would never hesitate. Through the ages the enemy has succeeded to sow division in lively gospel-minded churches again and again. The blessings that God could have used to bring millions to the cross have become a curse in many a case. The ‘flesh’ in some Christians, who wanted to assert themselves through exhibitionism or sheer arrogance, contributed handsomely to that end. The early church seems to have handled the supernatural gifts of the spirit in a balanced way (see Acts 2:42-47). However, in no ways it is suggested that biblical principles should be compromised.
On two occasions Paul refers to believers as infants/children in the context of petty bickering and a lack of unity (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Ephesians 4:13-15). So often Christians quote the latter part of 1 Corinthians 11 in the context of the Lord’s Supper, completely ignoring or forgetting that Paul used those words within the framework of the disunity of the church at Corinth (see verses 17ff).
Spiritual renewal and biblical revival will be effectively stifled by disunity. We cannot stress it enough: the spirit of separation and disunity is actually a demonic principality. It has had perhaps in few parts in the world such power as in South Africa. The apartheid practice was only one visible expression of this division. The denominational disunity and mutual distrust of churches are two less visible ones. True unity is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, but if denominational and racial disunity proceed unchecked, a potential spiritual awakening will be given a major - if not fatal - setback.
Church disunity and competitiveness must never be regarded as a small flaw, but recognised for what it really is in the light of the Bible: sin! Not for nothing Jesus prayed for His disciples and for those who would believe in their message (i.e. we, the spiritual off-spring): ...That all of them may be one (John 17:20f) and proceeding ‘that they may be brought to complete unity’ (John 17:23). Paul did not mince his words either, calling those believers who hero-worship strong personalities babies in the faith (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-5). SACLA II, a conference held from 7-12 July, 2003 in Pretoria, has been described as the ‘most representative gathering of the Church in South African, perhaps African history.’ All-important is however the follow-through of the event. In Cape Town not much of this was evident at the end of 2003 in the run-up to a prayer convocation scheduled from 1-5 December 2003, which had as goal the breaking down of demonic opposition on the African continent.

The Danger of superficial and artificial Unity
But we must be careful not to get excited too soon. A New Age type of unity would in fact dilute the Christian message. A theology that endeavours to cut away the sharp edges of the message of the Cross is looming on the horizon. The enemy of souls knows that one of his biggest opponents is the unity of Bible-believing Christians. He will do everything in his power to prevent Christians from co-operating in love and harmony! Yet it must be a unity at heart. There is a significant difference between superficial ecumenism and true unity birthed by the Holy Spirit. Just as the Father and the Son are different persons and yet joined in love, the Body should depict this image - where the various parts can bring in their different functions. Are we aware that through the lack of visible unity of the body and not mere lip-service to the notion, we are actual hampering evangelisation? The old apartheid practices of jy in jou klein hoekie are demonic. Real networking and practical support would demonstrate to the world out there that God has sent his son.
In all networking with a sound base, the Word and prayer must have pre-eminence. It was the discovery of the Law that brought the teenage King Josiah (2 Kings 20) to the discovery how far the nation had strayed from God's ways. The Word is a mirror which leads to reforms for the common good of the nation. Let us pray that our nation may take God's word seriously again. And let us get serious about it in our private lives. It is not good enough to merely carry the Bible faithfully to church and Bible Study if for the rest it is just a closed book.
Unity in the spirit - built around a bond of peace and accepting each other in love (Ephesians 4:2, 3) - gives a good biblical framework. Networking must have its base in Scripture; otherwise it becomes ‘work of the flesh’. The latter kind of co-operation is doomed to strife, it leads to points scoring and a competitive spirit. Also personally we must be closely linked like the branches to the vine. That will bring forth luscious fruit. The big catch of fish in Luke 5 was only made possible after Peter and his fisherman colleagues were prepared to lay aside their rational thinking and even their experience in their trade. When Peter was prepared to do it in obedience to the Word of the Master, the foundation for the networking was laid. The big catch could have been lost, perhaps even with net and all if they had not joined forces! Likewise, I dare to say that the big catch for Jesus will only be brought in if individual churches and fellowships put aside their pride and their own man-made doctrine, which so often has little or no biblical basis.

Occasional Need of Confrontation
In no way should we condone an airy-fairy covering up of differences. Jesus used the prime weapon against the devil, God’s Word, when he was attacked in the desert. But also the assistants of the enemy had to be countered. Because he had observed their ways meticulously and listened carefully to what they were saying, Jesus could venture into enemy territory, telling his religious opponents to their face that they were hypocritical.
The Master furthermore spoke of ‘binding the strongman’ (Matthew 12:29). Paul wrote about ‘taking captive every thoug­ht’ (2 Corinthians 10:5), about ‘strongholds’ (2 Corinthians 10:4) and ‘weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left’ (2 Corin­thians 5:7). The full ‘armour’ of the believer (Ephe­sians 6:11ff) belongs of course to the very well-known portions of Scripture which have even been taught to children in Sunday school. In traditional theology these warlike terms have possibly been over-spiritualized. (This probably happened when the superficial impression could be gained that it might clash with the reign of the Prince of Peace.)1
We must recognize that division is the paramount strategy of satan. Through the ages the enemy has succeeded to sow division in the evangelical churches. The ‘flesh’ in some Christians who wanted to assert themselves saw to that. The first Jerusalem Apostolic Church seems to have handled the supernatural gifts of the spirit in a more balanced way (see Acts 2:42-47). Both Peter and Paul did not shun confrontation either. When principles were at stake they were no slow coaches in heated debate. Acts 6 and 15 reflect conflict-laden situations. In both cases the end result was a sharing of responsibilities and a doubling of the work. If conflict is handled well, it has the potential to spread the Gospel even more widely and the work load can be delegated among more people. After Peter had been taught by God that he should cease despising those nations which he had regarded as ritually impure, he was prepared not only to act upon it by going to Cornelius (Acts 10), but also to defend his action before his colleagues.
The end result of the delicate situation in Acts 6 was the appointment of deacons. The heated debate in Acts 15 resulted in church planting where the best men were sent (Verse 22).
Calling a spade a spade might sometimes also be necessary. In Galatians 2:11-15 it is reported how Paul criticized Peter to his face in the presence of others when he sensed hypocrisy. If the actions of fellow brothers and sisters confuse young believers it might be necessary to do the unusual thing to reprimand them publicly.
Paul had been taught at the feet of the renowned Gamaliel. As a Pharisee, he thus had a head-start. But, like the Master, he dared to confront his opponents on their own turf. In every town he went to the syna­gogues. In Athens he challenged the learned Greeks who were constantly debating, for example on the Areopagus (Acts 17:16ff). The presence of him and Silas caused a furore in Thessaloniki, especially when Paul spoke about Jesus as the Christ (Acts 17:1-9). In the same vein, the apostle did not beat about the bush in his condemnation of hand-made gods as idols. This made the Ephesians very nervous, causing an uproar in the process.
At a time when it has become fashionable to be a 'Revolutionary', by just quitely leaving the church, there is more than ever need for healthy but loving confrontation. Every pastor should know why people are leaving his ship.
Unity on God’s terms
Ephesians 4:4,5 shows that there is no such thing as unity at all costs, there is only unity on God’s terms. We learn from Jesus that he did not allow the Pharisees to drive a wedge between him and John the Baptist. Jesus discerned where the real opposition was. In fact, at another occasion, his disciple John tried to oppose someone who drove out demons in Jesus’ name. The only reason given was that ‘he is not one of our group’. Jesus corrected him: ‘Do not forbid him...Anyone who is not against us, is for us’ (Mark 9:38f). Thus the Master would probably also oppose anybody today who would claim the ultimate truth in the details of following Him. Nehemiah 3 does indicate how different (church) groups can work towards the building of the wall, towards a common goal. Different groups worked next to each other, each with a clearly defined earmark within the bigger purpose: the completion of the wall around Jerusalem. Thus the Bible underscores unity in diversity.
We would do well to emulate the Lord in combating sectarianism, and group thinking of all sorts. Instead of quarrelling about doctrinal matters like baptism, we should rather get on with the job of bringing in the harvest. It is better to work alongside other churches that also believe in the authority of the Word, who proclaim Jesus as their Saviour, than to get involved in petty competition.
Later in the chapter Jesus showed the disciples that he preferred to be known as someone who networked with others. What better reply could he have given the Pharisees and his disciples who were perhaps disappointed that he did not respond, but only walked away? He and the disciples were reaping where John the Baptist and the prophets had sowed.
Unbiblical sectarian views and practices must be addressed and rectified, but at the same time the unity in the diversity must be stressed. The diversity of the Church should demonstrate to the spiritual powers in the heavenlies (Ephesians 3:10) ‘the manifold wisdom of God’. (Dutch: veelkleurige wijsheid; Afrikaans: ryke verskeidenheid van sy wysheid) The task to make visible the unity of the body is no optional item, but part and parcel of being the Church of Jesus Christ.

Development of Church Hierarchy The 'New Testament' contains five different metaphors for the foundation of the Church (Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:5–6, Revelation 21:14). One metaphor is Jesus Christ’s calling the disciple Peter "rock": "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). In semantic debate some theologians argued that Jesus did not mean that his Church would be built on Peter but on something else. Others saw in this passage a minor difference between the Greek term for Peter (petros) and the term for rock (petra). The closest the early church in Jerusalem came to a hierarchical structure was possibly when the leadership fell to James, the Lord's brother. This position, which he held until his martyr's death about 63 CE, has often been called a 'bishopric'. This 'undoubtedly corresponded in many ways to the monarchical bishopric in the Gentile churches' (Walker, 1976:23). Yet, in the churches formed by Paul we hear of 'presbyters' (or 'elders'). Walker (1976:22) has “little doubt that this system of organization owed something both to the Zekenim of Judaism... and to the 'elders' of brotherhoods like Qumran.' In the former, the Zekenim, there was a council that ruled each community, it is a leadership model of a group rather than a single person.
The Church Fathers, especially those influential theologians among them who lived close to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, albeit on a rather dubious exegesis of Matthew 16:18. There Jesus - in speaking to Peter (petros) - used a pun, building his church on a rock (petra) against which the gates of hades (hell) could not prevail. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures God was the rock, e.g. the rock of our salvation (Psalm 19:15; 62:3,8) or a towering rock of safety (e.g. Psalm 61:2; 62:8). Jesus was to be the rock on which the Church was to be built. Peter himself evidently also saw it this way, describing Jesus as another sort of rock, the capstone or foundation stone of the Church (1 Peter 2:5–6). That some of the church leaders derived a hierarchical head of the Church, was even more problematic. Paul, the prolific epistle writer and apostle, who was closer in time to all these theologians, did give some credence to the idea of hierarchy, but he clearly saw Christ as the head of the Church.
Rome developed into the largest single congregation by 100 CE. Clement, writing anonymously to the Corinthians in the name of the whole Roman congregation, spoke as for those who expected to be obeyed. 'The tone, if brotherly, was big-brotherly' (Walker, 1976:61). Irenaeus of Lyons, the influential church father, writing about 185, pictured the the Roman Church as founded by Peter and Paul, went one step further declaring it 'a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this church' (Walker, 1976:61). A monarchical episcopate developed as the Roman bishop gained in prominence in church affairs. Admission to the clergy was by ordination, a rite which goes back to the earliest days of the church. By the middle of the 3rd century a clear hierarchy had developed. Bishops, presbyters and deacons were the major orders. Below them there stood the minor orders. The eighth canon of Nicaea further determined that in every city there had to be only on bishop in every city (Chadwick, 1969:218). This would have been perfectly in line with the original meaning of the Greek word episkopos, an overseer. In the relative small cities of those days it would have been also quite practical to have one person having oversight of all the (home?) churches in any city. That however still did not make a hierarchical structure inevitable, although that may already have been implied.

Thumbs down to hierarchical Church Structures
In the 'NT' church plural non-hierarchical leadership seems to have been the norm. Presbyters and Deacons were not regarded as titles but given respectively as a token of respectful honour and a function in serving. Pastors, teachers and evangelists were on a par as part and parcel of the four of five-fold ministries. Likewise apostle was a function, those sent from the bosom of the church from which the word missionary was derived via the Latin missio.
The practice in South Africa became a complete caricature where the clergyman in White reformed churches was called dominee (from the Latin word for Lord ) the colleague working in one of the Black churches was an eerwaarde, reverend. In rank and file Afrikaner parlance the latter clergyman was derogatorily called the kafferdominee. Black clergy with inferior training were the evangelists. In episcopal protestant churches the whole papal hierarchy is still intact minus cardinals and the Pope.
Hierarchical church structures have favoured and conditioned leaders to become bosses. The dictum coined by Lord Acton that power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely, is so true, also in religious contexts. This is however alien to the spirit of biblical servitude; loving brotherhood, or rather siblinghood, should be the hall-mark of church work where the leader endeavours should lead towards empowering the congregants.
The early Moravian missionaries evidently understood this very well. They saw that 'New Testament' life had to be demonstrated. In the Caribbean they bought slaves free, took them into their houses and worked alongside them on the plantations (Spangenberg, 1773-1775 [1971]:1177).
It is sad to see the low morals that religious leaders can display when their influence appears to be threatened. Instead of doing introspection, the Pharisees started a smear campaign. And because they could not successfully hit at Jesus’ moral quality, they tried to play Him out against John, the Baptist. The aim of their endeavours was to get Jesus out of the way. I wonder if the beastly intrigue, which preceded the death of John the Baptist did not have its origin with the religious leaders. From what we read in the gospels about the Baptist, he could just as well have told Herodias or Herod to their face what he thought of their marriage. But some instigation by some Pharisees would also have fitted perfectly into the picture. Let’s face it: the things that the Master said to those Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him were quite unpalatable. (By the way, not all Pharisees were bad guys. It is sad that a few rotten potatoes sometimes do influence a whole bag. The 'NT' probably distorts the picture of a group of people who had a good reputation amongst their compatriots).
The caricature of Christianity as it has been practised around the world, is definitely not very attractive. The advantages of superior educational opportunities and good medical care became the misleading trophies of missionary work. Indigenous people were regarded as civilized or Christian when they started to wear Western clothing. No wonder that an oppressive system could flourish, a set-up where suppression became the order of the day. Wealthy ‘Coloured’ and Black Christians often unfortunately also adopted repugnant superior attitudes, playing the master in the worst sense of the word. What a pity that the unity and fellowship in Christ of rich and poor, of educated and unskilled, hardly got a chance. In this climate, the brotherhood of Islam became for many quite attractive. Others saw the only solution in Communism to get to some sort of parity.

Scriptural Guidance to deal with (doctrinal) Differences
The Bible gives ample guidance on how to deal with (doctrinal) differences. It would never have come so far in terms of church splits if the guidelines of the Word had been adhered to. The good handling of differences could actually have stimulated the spread of the Gospel. Two Scriptural references could be cited: Ephesians 3:10 speaks about the manifold, multi-coloured, multi-faceted wisdom of God to be made known throughout the church. The verse actually implies that the implementation of the manifold wisdom of God manifested through the church sends a message into the spiritual realms, i.e. into the unseen world. A few verses later, in 3:17+18, Paul admonishes the believers to be rooted and established in love, to grasp the dimensions of the love of Christ ‘with all the saints’, a clear reference to the body of believers.
William Barclay calls the use of the word poikilos (many-coloured) by Peter in his first epistle (4:10) ‘sheer genius’. Describing the grace of God as many-coloured, he actually says that ‘no possible situation can arise which the grace of God cannot match and answer’. That gives a challenge to the Church to deal with differences in a way which will radiate the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Celcus, a hostile external observer of the church around 180 C.E., referred to the coherence of the Christians and to their close-knit structure as a principal source of strength. He saw it as a result of their being persecuted. The conscious striving after and making use of the visible unity of the body - for example in combined prayer and outreach - is thus no optional for the church, locally and in mission endeavour. In South Africa the visible unity of the body of Christ is nevertheless still conspicuous by its absence, and the Mother City of South Africa is no exception. A promising start with regular monthly prayer meetings ‘for the city’ in October 1995 fizzled out after a year. Pastors and wives prayer meetings have like-wise straddled the denominational divide, but the format probably was not very suitable to attract the non-charismatic clergy. Early-morning fortnightly prayer meetings and prayer breakfasts on Saturday mornings did not last long, only to be revived in 1998. Very few attended the Saturday morning 'Signal Hill' prayer or mid-week prayer meeting at the Central Police Station. Combined prayer at the Cape Town Civic Centre and the Provincial Parliament lasted for just over a year.

The Lack of loving open-minded Dialogue
Muhammad, the generally perceived founder of Islam, apparently hardly experienced love from Christ-like, selfless people whose passion and ‘food’ was to do the will of the Father (Compare John 4:34). This seems to me a plausible reason why the great leader and warner who initially admired ‘the people of the Book’, who had told his followers to go to Christians and Jews for advice, could become a statesman who was later misguided by hatred and revenge. In Surah 10:94 the advice to the doubtful was given: ‘If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee...’ Another is the ‘Saul Syndrome’, to which we refer elsewhere, whereby disobedience and an inferiority complex nullify inspired charismatic beginnings.
In modern times, Muslims have been perceiving danger in such a practice. Just like the Roman Catholic Church before Vatican II (1962-5) prohibited their members to search the Scriptures for themselves, Muslim adherents were discouraged (and still are) to read the Bible. Even stronger, at this time Muslim fundamentalists are harshly persecuting those Christians who have come out of Islam, notably in the Middle East. A next step would then logically have to be discouragement of the study of the Qur’an (as opposed to the mere reciting and superficial reading of it).
The reticence with regard to the reading of the Bible can be understood if one considers how a convert from Islam has put it: ‘Faith in Christ as the Qur’an represents him, is the logical introduction to Christ as the Gospels portray him. Open-minded dialogue goes down the drain if Muslims are kept from reading the Bible themselves!’
Christians are nevertheless also guilty of similar perpetrations. Intolerance was not only the practice long ago through the inquisition and later with regard to Anabaptists and other non-conformists. Right into the present age modern forms of persecution have been inflicted on theologians who have held differing views than those prescribed by their respective churches. In the Catholic church action was taken against Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx, who had been major movers at Vatican II. Also in Protestant churches many ministers who had divergent views, for example on the christening of infants, were forced to leave the ministry or at least leave the respective denomination.
In similar vein, we must add that sacrificial love as a central teaching of Jesus somehow never broke through significantly at any stage of church history - apart from localized revival-type situations. It was probably not taught clearly as well. Even to-day so many self-confessed followers of the man of Nazareth often appear to be guided more by self-determination and pushing through their own will than by an attitude in the spirit which Jesus had pioneered, namely of ‘thy will be done’. More than ever there is a need for concrete steps to break down the walls rather than pious inter-faith talk without any visible results.
Last not least, with regard to loving open-minded dialogue, we need to highlight that the dependency syndrome killed honest sharing of ideas like few other measures in mission history. Fearing to offend the 'generous' givers from the rich Western nations not only stifled initiative on the part of the receivers, but it also stimulated and perpetuated a beggar attitude among the bulk of the churches of the third world. The call from Africa for a moratorium of money and missionaries in the early 1970s may have sounded very uncharitable. Possibly this was inspired by a reaction against the bossy attitude of Western missionaries who thought they always know it better, or at least gave that impression. But why is 2 Corinthians 8 still unknown by and large, namely how the poor Macedonians begged to be given the opportunity to bless the mother church in Jerusalem? How often is it thought that poor believers have much to give? Was this not what Jesus also demonstrated with the gift of the widow's mite? The Church world-wide will possibly only really only come into its own if the unity of the Body of Christ in all its diversity is restored across all man-made barriers, thus displaying the multi-coloured wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10).
3. Using Force to spread the Christian faith

Many centuries ago church leaders like Augustine - who operated in the early 5th century - have given the cue to rank and file Christians to use coercion in stead of persuasion to bring the erring back to the faith or to bowl doubting people over. Before Augustine the Emperor Constantine subjected big geographical areas and ‘christianised’ many people groups by military force. This he had definitely not learnt from the Jews. The predominant hope of the people of Israel had never been ‘to convert the whole world to Judaism but to convert the whole world to God.’

Did Jesus condone warfare?
In mitigation of Constantine it has to be conceded that the available teaching of Jesus on pacifism was not completely unambiguous. On the one hand, the Master Himself had stopped Peter, warning him that those who live by the sword, would die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). On the other hand, Jesus mentioned the salaries of soldiers as a matter of course and John the Baptist did not question the work of soldiers in any way (Luke 3:14). On the very evening of his arrest, Jesus ordered his disciples to buy swords (Luke 22:36), albeit only those ones used for defence purposes.
In a limited way Constantine’s bishops can thus even be exonerated. Some of them conveniently interpreted the above Bible verses as Jesus’ condoning of warfare. In later centuries the theory of the just war was developed by Augustine and Ambrose. The just war theory was possibly an indirect result of the brutality of Constantine and his soldiers.
This is especially noteworthy because the pacifism of Christians had been well-known in the first three centuries. The first Christians evidently did not deduce military solutions from the teachings of Jesus. In fact, they regarded suffering in persecution as their major ‘weapon’, almost idolising it. An interesting snippet in this regard is how the author of the Epistle of Barnabas (ch.2) described the new law of Christ: ‘... to impose no yoke of coercion, and its oblation to be no offering of human hands’.
Be it as it may, the brutal ‘Christianizing’ of peoples, using violent means to achieve it, can never be excused. Constantine’s immediate successors did use force. Big geographical areas were subdued with the dubious perception that they were doing it for Christ. The seed of the crusader spirit was sown, whereby it was understood that the enemy had to be defeated by military might. Islam latched onto the idea with the concept of ‘jihad’, whereby the Muslim soldier could get straight into paradise if he would die in the ‘holy war’. In modern history, Hitler and the apartheid rulers in this country also spoke respectively of ‘total victory’ and ‘total onslaught’. The abuse of God’s name in this country, respectively by the right-wing AWB and PAGAD’s militant Allahu Akbar! (Allah is the greatest) still rings in our ears. Mayhem recurred in the Mitchells Plain township as recently as June 2007 in similar fashion.
Be it as it may, the example of Jesus is still speaking clearly enough. He refused even to allow the disciples to use a sword in defence (see John 18:36) or to form an army. Voluntarily he went to Jerusalem to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Muhammad on the other hand chose to flee when he had to face martyrdom. When he embraced the Arabic custom to attack caravans, he justified it by stating that he fought infidels. His example and teaching to oppose those who scoffed or rejected him like the Jews and Christians is in total contrast to the teaching of our Lord Jesus to turn the other cheek.

Abuse of Religion to use Force
The abuse of force for religious purposes has a precedent in the 'New Testament' – a negative one! Herod deemed it feasible to eliminate the inconvenient John the Baptist. In a similar way, the Lord was crucified basically because of his convictions and teaching. The persecution of His followers, which started in the first century, has not ended to this day. In Acts 9 we read how Saul, who had witnessed the martyrdom of Stephen, set out to stamp out the beliefs of the people of the Way. The 'New Testament' sees persecution and trials as a positive issue. Thus James, the apostle starts his epistle with Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Through persecution the faith was spread, sometimes also through the former persecutors, as it happened to Saul who became Paul, the great apostle. Faisal Malick, a Muslim background believer from Pakistan, who had set himself the target of converting Christians to Islam, penned some interesting thoughts around Saul. 'Just as Saul was the most unlikely candidate for the Kingdom, most would consider Ishmael to be the last to realize that Jesus is the Son of God.' He goes on to suggest that 'God is going to use the conversion of Ishmael to stir up the Church as He used the conversion of Saul to stir up the Church in the midst of persecution' (Malick, 2005:38f). May this start to happen on a world-wide scale!

A fatal Aberration
A tragic aberration set in when the Church became the establishment. The secular advantages given to the Church as a result of the Constantine military victories and the subsequent reforms had a fatal side effect. The clergy became less dependent on God and their life-style moved further and further away from biblical standards. One sees for instance how the biblical word paroikia of which Peter, the apostle, speaks in his first epistle, meaning to be a stranger on earth, evolved to become a parish (Dutch parochie). This became almost the opposite of the original concept, but understandable in the environment of a society without money. The parish was the security of the priest.
Augustine set the pattern for Muhammad to react with force if persuasion does not work. He initially accepted that there would be godless and nominal Christians in the church, because wheat and weed should be able to grow next to each other until the harvest. Church discipline should not be practised forcefully with the iron rod, but rather like that of an operating surgeon. The erring and back-sliding folk should be brought back to the fold with the Gospel of grace. Augustine requested the authorities to use force to bring back to the church. The Donatists were however not to be moved. (The Donatists were the followers of Donatus and those Christian theologians who made suffering such a virtue that nobody who had wilted under persecution was allowed to take an office in the church). Hereafter Augustine however abused the Bible, requesting the secular authorities to use force to bring the erring Donatists back to the church. To motivate his position, Augustine quoted Luke 14:23, ‘Force them to come in.’ Otto de Jong, a Dutch church historian, concludes: ‘With this argumentation he paved the way for the inquisition.’ Unwittingly, Augustine legitimized force to subdue opposition (The inquisition became known as a harsh international secular judiciary, where a travesty of justice became the common practice). Although it would be very difficult to prove empirically, in the spiritual realm it is not impossible to discern a link to Muhammad who reacted in anger when the Jews spurned his overtures, refusing to recognise him as a divinely inspired prophet. The difference between Augustine and Muhammad is however quite stark. Augustine would never have remotely suggested that his views – which could be regarded as the pristine beginnings of the just war theory – were divinely inspired. The Medinan Surah 9 – with jihad as its theme – is regarded by Muslims around the world as inspired by Allah, whether revenge was the motive or not. With Medina as base, Muhammad led the ethnic cleansing of the region, killing hundreds of Jews.
This teaching - using force to ‘make’ Christians - was a total aberration of what Christ taught about the expansion of his kingdom. The parables about the kingdom is the model which Jesus handed down for example “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground... the seed should sprout and grow up, he knows not how...” (Mark 4:26ff). It spreads the clear message: it is not man’s labour and effort which bring about the kingdom. It is God’s sovereign work, which came to pass through the Holy Spirit. This parable is obviously a reply to the passionate striving of those who want to force the coming of the kingdom of God (Mark 9:24).

The Apostles as agents provocateurs?
As with so many other cases of abuse of the Word, the problem started in biblical times. That the religious hierarchy retaliated with harsh measures against the first Christians can actually be understood quite well. To be accused of being wicked men (Acts 2:23) by Peter, of being stiff-necked with uncircumcised hearts and even of murder by Stephen (Acts 7:51, 52) was not going to endear the rank and file Jew towards the followers of Jesus. In their eyes he was the so-called Messiah from the backwater little town of Nazareth. That his by and large lower class followers even regarded Jesus as the Messiah, who became cursed because he had been crucified, was utter blasphemy in their view. That the devout and probably highly respected Pharisee Saul and his likes saw it as their religious duty to wipe out those heretic followers of Jesus, is fully comprehensible against this background. Muslim fanatics in Egypt have prepared a harvest for the Gospel in a similar way in the Middle East and Indonesia in recent decades.
The Jews of the first century did not have the advantage of almost 2000 years of vindication of Jesus as the Messiah, as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We can hardly imagine how unpalatable to them it must have been to hear of Paul’s denial of the main pillar of their belief system, how he denied the saving power of the law in favour of faith in Jesus Christ. Can we ever fathom the disgust of Jews down the centuries whenever they read: ‘Mark my word! I Paul, tell you that if you let yourself be circumcised, Christ (Messiah) will be of no value to you at all.’ (Galatians 5:2)? It is no wonder that he was singled out - albeit unfairly in my view - as the prime ‘apostate of the law’. He was of course writing subjectively after his personal encounter with the risen Lord. He had experienced very concretely how his life had been changed. He had discerned that the one he was persecuting was indeed ‘the substitute of the law’. The law could not bring him peace at heart.
I find it quite easy to understand the Jews of the first century for their part in the persecution of the Christians. I have more difficulty to find an excuse for Constantine and his successors. But I cannot find any reason to excuse the theologian Augustine, who abused the Bible to propagate force and quoting Luke 14:23 to this end. Charles the Great picked up the Constantine example, imposing Christianity on the Saxon people of the present Northwest Germany. The subjugation of East Frisia was accompanied by the Christianising of the region. Capital punishment followed the adherence of pagan customs. Just as Muhammad had done to hundreds of Jews in the Hijaz from his base in Medina after his Hijra, his flight in 622 CE, Charles the Great ordered the execution of four thousand Saxons in Verden near Bremen in 782. This was part of a punitive expedition because the Saxons had destroyed a church in the Dutch town of Deventer. Jews were also baptised by coercion, going right into the 15th and 16th centuries, as it happened to the Marranos in Spain. (Many Marranos maintained their ancestral traditions as Crypto-Judaism by publicly professing Roman_Catholicbut secretly adhering to Judaism.
A Meccan verse in the Qur’an picked up this tenet by stating that there is no compulsion in religion. Two centuries after Augustine, Muhammad and his spiritual off-spring however started to follow the example of coercion and force. After the initial military successes, the pressure was exerted on ‘dhimmies’ (Jews and Christians in predominantly Islamic countries by monetary means), by way of taxes. They also emulated the fighting Christians, conquering the whole of North Africa and moving up to in France where they were only stopped outside Tours in 732 CE by Charles Martel. It was this battle, it has been said, which gave Charles his name, Martel (Tudites), meaning the Hammer, because of the merciless way in which he struck the enemy. Should we as Christians be proud of this?
Through the Islamic teaching of abrogation - whereby the later revelation became binding - the earlier teaching of peaceful co-existence with the ‘People of the Book’ - with the Christians (and the Jews), was effectively abrogated. Fundamentalist Muslims still take their cue from there. The Qur’an does not help the cause of peaceful existence with adherents of other religions at all. The lure of a sensual paradise of sex and wine in exchange for death during ‘jihad’ (holy war) is still a carrot which is dangled to attract droves of young Muslims often still in their teens - to volunteer their lives in military service.

Incitement by a Pople
The invading Musselmen were far from forgotten when the crusaders - led by Peter the Hermit - set out with the intention to win back by force what Islam had gained. It is noteworthy that the first crusade was aimed at the Jews who had settled along the Rhine River.
To incite the masses against the Muslims was evidently not very difficult at all in the light of the above-mentioned Islamic conquests, especially after 1070. In that year a Turkish tribe had taken Jerusalem and Western pilgrims were purportedly maltreated.
The revengeful cue – completely oppostite to the Spirit of christ - was given by Pope Urbanus II who inter alia declared that the grave of Jesus had to be freed from ‘the hands of unbelievers’. Only too willing his audience saw this as God’s will. In a sectarian way they took up Jesus’ challenge literally: ‘if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16:24). Pope Urbanus II was clearly guilty of incitement, especially with a very problematic letter of Christmas 1095. The undertaking would serve 'as a prparation fro the remission of all their sins.'

Under the banner of the cross - and with crosses in one hand - the crusaders set out with their swords in the other hand. This was of course a travesty of the biblical cross and the two-edged sword which the Word sees as part of the armour of the Christian soldier. The real understanding of the cross of Jesus would have led to humility and self-denial before taking up your cross; being prepared to be persecuted and even to be killed for one’s faith, without retaliation. Faith in the power of the two-edged sword would have rendered fighting superfluous.
In stead, the crusades which continued for a few decades well into the new millennium reinforced the pattern of the abuse of religion for political purposes. The most tragic thing at this time was the abuse of Matthew 27:25 by the crusaders: ‘Let His blood come over us and our children!’ The crusade clergy leadership incited their followers against the Jews. The origins of this Bible verse - which only occurs in the Gospel according to Matthew - can without any doubt be attributed to incitement of the crowd.

The special guilt of theologians
The religious Jewish establishment have been misleading the masses. Only few in any age have had the wisdom of a Gamaliel who could calm the tempers after the courageous performance of Peter before the Sanhedrin, the religious court of the day. In their ears it must have been outrageous and extremely provocative to hear: ‘The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead - whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree’. No wonder that ‘they were furious and wanted to put them to death.’ The wise Gamaliel had the wisdom and courage of his convictions to stand up, swimming against the stream: ‘Leave these men alone...if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God... you will only find yourselves fighting against God (Acts 5: 35ff).
At the crucifixion of Jesus there was possibly no one like Gamaliel around. But it would not have been easy for anybody to voice disapproval there, even if he/she had been secretly convinced himself. The bulk of the religious Jewish establishment had obviously been tremendously provoked by the ilk of John the Baptist and Jesus who had labelled the Pharisees and Scribes as serpents and white-washed tombs with dead bones. Attempting to play the two religious rebels out against each other by way of incitement for example the rumour spread about Jesus having baptized or to create rivalry about the numbers baptized should not surprise us in any way (Compare the end of John 3 and John 4:1). Keeping this in mind, we should not be too harsh on the first century religious establishment. Up to this day religious leaders have had skeletons in their cupboards. Who likes to be exposed in public? They were sure to hit back when they got their chance. The revenge on the ‘heretic’ who claimed to be the Son of God was their eagerly awaited chance.
It needs only very superficial reading of the report of the crucifixion of Jesus to discover that the hysterical reply of the crowd - Matthew 27:25 quoted above - should not be taken at face value. It is very sad, but the revengeful Pharisees and Scribes (plus an undecided Pilate) have to be given the lion’s share of the blame for the mass hysteria.
Those who possessed the Scriptures or who could read them at the time of the crusades - the clergy - did precious little to calm the masses. The crusaders took it upon themselves to take revenge for the death of Jesus on the cross. The result was a major increase of anti-Semitism: the hate of Jews and Muslims alike.
The unfair charge of deicide, that the Jews killed the divine Jesus, has been repeated throughout history. This notably happened during the inquisition, a harsh international secular judiciary, as well as at the various pogroms of Jews, including the ‘final solution’ of Adolf Hitler, the holocaust. It was especially sad that he could cite Martin Luther - not out of context at all, because the older Luther wrote some horrific anti-Semitic things, which Hitler could conveniently abuse. The clerics among Islam and Jewry alike have to take a major part of the blame for the mutual dislike, to put it mildly. Theologians of Judaism and Islam have effectively kept up, all too often encouraging the tradition of enmity between Muslims and Jews. The likes of great Jews like Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig on the one hand and the Sufi father Al-Ghazzali on the other side of the divide, who could rise above the age-old hatred and distrust, were few and far between. This is in spite of the fact that Muhammad only turned his back on the Jews after he had been snubbed and rejected. In the Christian-Muslim dialogue we note that Muhammad turned against the religion when he discovered that they could never agree to his simple monotheism, let alone become his followers.
A Challenge to Theologians of our Day There is a clear challenge to theologians of our day to come to the party with a clear lead that could usher in meaningful reconciliation. I believe that Christian theologians should lead the way. Is it really so difficult to acknowledge that the first generation of followers of Jesus may have been led astray by uncharitable language of their leaders. I suspect that whereas we honour and respect their honesty and courage, it seems that they called a spade a spade perhaps here and there too often -when they should have turned the other cheek. From available literature it is clear that a false martyr complex, misled in this attitude by the theologians and church leaders – notably in the second century - caused more tension to Jews than was healthy for the latter group to examine whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. Furthermore, we western Christians have evidently been deceived by uncritically hero-worshipping the early Christian theologians in the absence of extant literature of church critics and opposition. I still have to read a candid admission that Justin Martyr, the highly valued and appriated Christian mid second century apologete, unfortunately wrote rather arrogantly and haughtily, e.g in his Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew. Rightly we have been calling Irenaeus and Tertullian Church Fathers.2 But we have to concede that these revered theologians definitely did not always radiate the spirit of Jesus, neither did they heed the teaching of Paul to speak the truth in love. It is not clear whether Irenaeus, e.g. had access to all the available primary literature of Valentinus.3 Unfortunately several influential teachers such as Ptolemy from the Valentinian school went their own innovative way. As Karen L. King (2003:154) has pointed out their were several discrepancies between Valentinus' own writings and others from the Valentinian school (especially the system of Ptolemy described by Irenaeus and the Tripartite Tractate that was only discovered among the Nag Hammadi documents in 1945. Valentinus tells in his work the Gospel of Truth 'how God's transcendence resulted in human ignorance of Him, that was corrected by the sending of his Son, Jesus. Jesus showed the knowledge of the Father, but he is persecuted for his teaching and nailed to the cross; he is the word of divine revelation, posted like a public notice on a wooden pale and read like the Book of Life.'4 The account of Valentinian thought passes on by Irenaeus – who is taken to have had access to the Gospel of Truth, - amounts to serious distortion. Elsewhere (p.???) we note how Tertullian brought the element of loveless bickering into the equation like few others before or after him. He definit rendered the church a disservice when he introduced the terms ‘trinitas’, ‘substantia’ and ‘personae’ - his effort to describe the Trinity, the nature of Christ and the different manifestations of God in the Son and the Holy Spirit. This was the pristine beginnings of the trinitarian debate which would divide the Church in later generations. The theological squabbling he introduced possibly also resulted in the disastrous attempt to defend the divinity of Jesus by calling Mary theotokos, the bearer of God and the semantics where a single Greek letter kept theologians busy of hours to decide whether Jesus was the same or similar to God. The church needs to repent of and confess that much harm has been caused to the Gospel by the uncharitable and haughty attacking of (supposed) opposition along with unneccessary semantics and bickering.
A contribution of Muslim theologians Muslim theologians surely have an important role to play in a move towards genuine reconciliation. It would be great if Muslim theologians would more readily acknowledge that Muhammad was deeply influenced by Judaism, that the reports in the Qur’an which differ substantially from the Hebrew Scriptures had the Talmud as origin - probably via the Jews who converted to Islam (including a rabbi). Furthermore, spurious apocryphal material like the Gospel of Thomas and the The Infancy of Jesus Christ, that have been rejected by the Christian Church from the earliest times. This is also the case of other miraculous stories and possible embellishments around the infancy and childhood of our Lord. The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus (verse 7), which has so many legendary features that it cannot be seriously considered for comparison, mentions the star, which led the magi, as an angel. However, neither the Qur’an nor the Hebrew Scriptures teach automatic hostility between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael. Instead of being instruments for mediation between these traditional foes, Christian theologians have often fumed the fire, contributing to the hostilities in many ways. On the one hand there has been uncritical support of Israel and the indiscriminate lumping together of all Muslims as terrorists and/or fundamentalists. In another scenario, blinkered theologians have been describing Israel as the prime villain; Yasser Arafat and his associates were portrayed as innocent doves, which is definitely not accurate. It is evident that any one-sided view is not helpful to achieve piece in the Middle East.
Inter-action between the off-spring of Isaac and Ishmael The Hebrew Scriptures teach not only a common ancestry, but it also gives examples of positive inter-action between the off-spring of Isaac and Ishmael, even aid. Esau married a daughter of Ishmael and Joseph was saved by Ishmaelite traders, albeit that the traders’ motives were probably not purely humanist. This nevertheless eventually saved the whole nation from extinction because of the severe famine. This is surely something for Jewish fundamentalists and anti-Muslim nationalists to chew on. Perhaps we as Christians with our common (spiritually) Jewish roots, could play an important role in mediation. It might be a help to both sides to see clearly the prophecies of a common destiny. I refer especially to the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah 60, 6+7 and Isaiah 19:19-23. In the former prophecy the off-spring of Kedar and Nebaioth (the oldest sons of Ishmael) are accorded a prime role. In the context of Messianic prophecy and global salvation, Isaiah 60 speaks of various peoples who will come to God when they see His light. To some Christian people - and very likely also to Jews - it may be discomforting that among those who will come to the glory of the coming Messiah will be Midianites, who are regarded by many as the traditional enemies of God’s people. In the latter scripture (Isaiah 19:19-23) Egypt, Assyria (Syria and Iraq where once Jewry thrived) and Israel are mentioned in that order. It could help the warring parties in the Middle East to see their future in a biblical perspective. We need not ignore the potential of strife which the rejection of Ishmael could elicit nor the sale of Esau's birthright, which angered him so much that he wanted to kill Israel (Jacob). It seems to me quite legitimate to refer to terrorism as the spirit of Esau as Faisal Malick, a Muslim background believer from Pakistan, has done (Malick, 2005:64ff). Christians and Muslims should be indebted that he sees the rejection of Ishmael – sent into the wilderness – as a thirsty cry for the living water. 'God used a woman to give water to Ishmael to drink in the wilderness and He will use another women the Church, the Body of Christ, to give living water to him today, out of the well of everlasting life' (Malick, 2005:24).
Church Guilt in respect of the Holocaust During the crusades which started 900 years ago, thousands of Jews and Muslims were killed. The basis of the crusades was a crooked understanding of the Bible, whereby the Jews were labelled for ‘killing Jesus’. It is not very difficult to discern that Satan was behind the whipping up of the masses at the crucifixion of Jesus. They eventually cried out ‘Let His blood come over us and our children’. Satan was basically the source of the hate-filled anti-Semitism down the ages. The founders of Islam were not the only misguided people who got to believe that. That surely led to the unfortunate Surah 4:157 which brought many Muslims to believe that Jesus did not die on the cross. This understanding also led to the holocaust in the late thirties and forties of the 20th century. Hitler abused unfortunate words from Martin Luther to bring millions of Jews to the gas chambers. It is not generally known that Luther’s change of attitude to the Jews was practically a rehash of that of Muhammad. Initially he had been positively inclined to the Jews. His attitude changed drastically when they were much more resistant than he had bargained for. He was not prepared to enter into missionary dialogue with them, seeing them only as missionary objects to be converted to faith in Christ.

4. Deficient Gospel Presentation

On the flip side of military force we find the neglect of teaching on what has become known as spiritual or ideological warfare. Brother Andrew, possibly one of the best known modern day practitioners, wrote so aptly that bombs and bullets do not represent the real war. ‘That war is spiritual, a war over what people believe, what they say, what they do and what they are willing to die for’ (1998:146). In traditional Western theological education, the universities, Bible schools and seminaries - up to recently - not much attention have been paid to warfare in the Bible. Was this possibly a belated over-reaction to notions like that of first century heretic Marcion, who had problems with Yahweh, the warring God? That was regarded as something pertaining to the Hebrew Scriptures - and therefore inferior. The separation of the Hebrew Scriptures and 'NT' had the inference that the 'NT' is superior. This notion could have contributed to the Islamic idea of progression (in importance). The Qur’an is thus seen as the final revelation, superior to the Tawrat (law) and the Injil (Gospel).
Only the spiritual side of matters is important, so the traditional thinking went. The elevated spiritual part was sometimes represented by Ephesians 6:10ff where Paul describes the weapons of the Christian soldier. Sometimes it is still plainly ignored in Western teaching that the scripture portion mentions that our battle is ‘...against... the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits...’ (Ephesians 6:12, Living Bible). The rational enlightened Western Christian had difficulties to handle this sort of language. Conveniently, it has thus been ignored to our own detriment. Because the Western Church preferred not to address the unseen world and the occult forces, it had no answer to the demonic forces at work. The result is that millions were kept in bondage because they never discovered the authority, which the follower of Jesus may have through faith in the crucified and resurrected Saviour. These occult forces did not stop at the church doors.
It seems as if the early Christians community did have a clear understanding of being involved in the warfare against the forces of darkness. The community at Qumran which had so many things in common with the contemporary Christians, possessed a scroll titled ‘The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of darkness.’ In this context John, the apostle, whose material was written towards the end of the first century, emphasised that the believer should ‘walk in the light’ and stay clear of everything which has a semblance with darkness. ‘God is light’ (1 John 1:5 and Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5) came to destroy the work of the devil, who is associated with darkness (1 John 3:8).

Still to include: Castration of the Great Commission -

Racial Prejudice entrenched
As a rule, European colonists came to the Cape with racial arrogance. The prowess of Western civilization served to entrench racism, which had already been prevalent for centuries. The Greek classification of ‘Hellenes and barbarians’ - which was fairly neutral with hardly any racial connotation - was replaced by ‘Christians and heathens.’ The former (i.e. Christians) were Europeans and the latter (so-called heathens) the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa and all new areas that were discovered. It required a ruling from Pope Paul III, with his edict of 1537, to decide that Indians were human! And yet, ‘Bushmen’, ‘Hottentotten’ and slaves at the Cape remained sub-human in the eyes of Westerners,5 like game that could be hunted down.
Cape Colonists were indoctrinated with a theology in which racism was rationalized and defended. Thus dark-skinned people were ‘distinguished from Whites because they were said to have been created with the animals on the sixth day. Hence they were excluded from the Garden of Eden, which was a white paradise!’ It has been suggested that ‘racism as a racial ideology owes its origin - in our Western cultural history - to attempts at a moral justification of slavery as a social institution’. From this basis it easily developed in South Africa to a defence mechanism and justification for racial prejudice and apartheid, namely ‘the preservation and safeguarding of vested (in this case ‘white’) interests.’

The simple House Church rediscovered -

Grace as a central biblical Tenet
Parallel to the concept of mercy, the Bible also teaches grace as a central tenet. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the 'New Testament' it is taught that it is not what we earn or deserve, but God’s grace which sustains us. However, already in 'New Testament' times it was necessary for Paul to chide work-righteousness. In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul clearly taught that it is ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.’ How important it was to him, is illustrated by the fact that the same message is also stressed in his letter to the Romans (3:24-28) and the Galatians (3:22-26).
The Christian view of salvation is that through the fall (Genesis 3) the whole of mankind was separated from God. ... We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Roman 3:23). Jewish people don’t teach the fall, but that the majority of people have a bad and a good inclination. On the Day of Atonement Jewish people hope that their good deeds have outweighed their bad deeds and that their names are written in the Book of Life. Therefore salvation is not a work wrought by God, nor by faith, but by our good deeds. Christians see God (Jesus) as their Saviour, Jews not. According to Rashi, an eleventh century Rabbi and sage, Isaiah 53 was interpreted as referring to Israel suffering for the Gentiles. Most rabbis today concur that this is the correct interpretation of Isaiah 53. However, there are opposing views within Judaism to that of Rashi, including ancient rabbis who interpreted Isaiah 53 as referring to the coming Messiah.
The Islamic view of the atonement of sin is a tragic development of the doctrine of works in the pre-Islamic contemporary Great Church, where it was preached that good works can atone for one’s sin. We contrast this with the biblical teaching that ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’ before God (Isaiah 64:6), that Christ is ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). The final result of the unbiblical view is that one does not need a Saviour and mediator. With payment of indulgence money and good works one can buy one’s way into heaven. This is one of the teachings against which Martin Luther protested vehemently when he discovered how unbiblical it is.
Chronologically fairly close to Muhammad was semi-Pelagianism. A synod at Carthage cancelled the notions of the Irish monk Pelagius, who would not recognise original sin. In his view men committed sin by emulating the example of the first human couple. Augustine had gone overboard by connecting sin with the sexual urge, causing more problems in this way. Julian discerned that Augustine saw things too darkly. In due course semi-Pelagianism came through as a compromise, whereby salvation can be achieved as a co-operation between God and man. Similarly, the Qur’an teaches that good deeds should outweigh and cancel the bad ones (Surah 11:114),
In the early medieval environment of work righteousness in church and synagogue, it is not surprising at all that Muhammad failed to pick up this biblical teaching of salvation by faith alone. Hence Surah 5:48 (charity, it is an act of atonement...) and so many other examples occur in the Islamic scriptures, notably of man earning divine rewards in one way or another. In fact, Islam basically denies the biblical message of atonement, teaching that human repentance and good deeds become conditions for Allah’s forgiveness. In the divine judgement the good deeds must throw light in the darkness as man crosses the chord that is as thin as a hair.
It seems to sit quite deep in human nature to attempt to earn salvation. In Judaism the law and its companion circumcision became exalted as the way of salvation. Not only other religions, but also some Protestants who should know better, time and again fall prey to this temptation.

A serious Misconception
Somehow many Christians have been led to believe that Hebrew Scriptures salvation was accomplished only through works. This is definitely a misconception. The Hebrew word most often translated with ‘grace’ or ‘favour’ is chen. Chuck and Karen Cohen - two Messianic Jews i.e. followers of Jesus with a Jewish background, have noted how Colin Brown clarifies the meaning of chen in biblical history: ‘the stronger coming to the help of the weaker... (The stronger) acts by a voluntary decision, though he is moved by the dependence or the request of the weaker party.’ An excellent example of how it works in practice is how Moses interceded for the idolatrous Israelites after the experience of the golden calf in Exodus 32. In the exchange between God and Moses the word chen is used nine times. Moses knew that it was not by any merit on the part of the Israelites that he could approach the Lord and intercede for them. It is significant that God met him on that basis, even stating that it is His divine nature to be ‘gracious’ (Exodus 34:6). Tragically, the Jewish Christians, already excluded by their fellow-countrymen because of their faith in Jesus as their Messiah, became isolated from their Gentile co-believers when they continued with the observance of Sabbaths, circumcision and other Jewish feasts. The Gentile majority – clearly influenced by the teaching of Paul - considered the continued observance of the traditional customs and rites of Judaism as ‘works’. Another teaching of Paul, namely that the barrier between the Gentile believers and the Jewish-descent Christians was broken down by faith in Jesus Christ, was by far not universal. Quite early these Jewish Christians called themselves Ebionites. From this source many Islamic doctrines evolved.
Talmudic Judaism was still quite close to Christianity. Many a targum, Aramaic commentary on the Scriptures sometimes even pointed to the death and resurrection of Jesus, for example the suggestion in Targums on Genesis 22 that Isaac carried the wood like someone would carry a cross or that Isaac passed out when Abraham lifted the knife on Mount Moriah, to be resuscitated when the voice stopped Abraham in his tracks.

Turning the other Cheek - a Hebrew Scriptural tenet!
I dare to suggest that Prof David Bosch, whom I esteemed very highly, succumbed to a common trap of Christians, elevating the 'New Testament' above the Hebrew Scriptures with regard to revenge. Some Christians still have the impression that it is solely a 'New Testament' trait, when we think about leaving the revenge over to God (e.g. Romans 12:19; Hebrew 10:30). Not only are these verses a quotation of Deuteronomy 32:35, but there are also quite a few other 'OT' verses (e.g. 1 Samuel 24:12, 13; 2 Chronicles 24:22; Jeremiah 15:15) with the same message. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the spirit of revenge, which is sometimes ascribed to the Jews (and from there possibly emulated by the Muslims), is actually a distortion of God’s plan with His people. We are taught in the Torah: ‘do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord’ (Leviticus 19:18).
The reaction of Jesus to the - possibly angry or at least indignant - exclamation of the Samaritan woman of John 4, that he as a Jew dared to ask her for a drink, could be interpreted as an example of ‘turning the other cheek’. Instead of retaliating, he initiated a discussion on water. By the way, in the radical suggestion by Jesus of ‘turning the other cheek’, one finds an excellent example of a crooked misconception that developed out of the elevation of the 'New Testament' (in respect of the OT). Theologians have misled the most of us as Christians to regard the Hebrew Scriptures as inferior, that the 'NT' is superior! The Bible is a unit, Hebrew Scriptures and 'NT' belong together even though probably 90% or more of sermons in churches take the 'NT' as exposition source.
For years I thought that Jesus’ instruction to ‘turn the other cheek’ was new and innovative. How big was my surprise to discover that Jesus was actually only quoting the Hebrew Scriptures, and not even fully at that. In Lamentations - of all places - Jeremiah identifies himself fully with the sins, the idolatry of his people, which resulted in the exile. Then he writes: ‘Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him and let him be filled with disgrace’ (Lamentations 3:30). The suffering servant of Isaiah, who is widely accepted as a prophetic foreshadowing, a type of the Messiah, likewise displays these characters: ‘I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting’ (Isaiah 50:5-6).

No Place for Vengeance
Some Christians think that Jesus departed from Hebrew Scriptures' thinking by refraining from revenge. His correction of the one-sided oral notion of ‘eye for an eye’ and hating the enemy blurred our perception somewhat, thinking that this is consistent with Mosaic Law. A comparison of Luke 4:18ff with Isaiah 61 where Jesus actually stopped short of quoting ‘the day of vengeance of our God’ (Isaiah 61:2), this perception may even be enhanced. However, with his example of the refusal of vengeance, Jesus actually stepped in the footsteps of David. Because some of his Psalms call for revenge on his enemies, Christians tend to forget that David had also displayed refusal of revenge. When he had the chance to kill Saul, David only cut off a piece of his robe (1 Samuel 24). On another occasion he spared the king at a time when Saul was once again after his own scalp. David refused to take revenge because he had respect for God’s anointed. We can regard Peter, the apostle who walked the earth with our Lord for around three years, to have been a good judge of the Master’s motives. He summarised His life as follows, as part of an example to follow: ‘When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats (1 Peter 2:23).

No Door-mat
Because Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, some people deduce that Christians should be willing to be trampled upon, to be a sort of door-mat. In John 4 it is reported how a rumour was brought to Him that John was baptizing more converts. What the motives of those people were who came with the rumour is not clear, but the gun-powder contained in it is quite evident. His clashes with the religious establishment, equating the leaders with white-washed tombs that contain dead bones and his overturning the tables in the temple, are all well-known examples that Jesus was nowhere the softy some people want to suggest. Matthew (23) recorded a whole chapter about this, highlighting his criticism of the Pharisees, influential religious people of the synagogues.
Bishop Comenius displayed how a true saint can perform the principle involved in a way worthy of our Lord. When the news of the end of the 30 years war (1618-48) came to him, he heard that the Unitas Fratrum was not even mentioned in the conditions for peace which were negotiated in Westphalia. He was requested to write to Chancellor Oxenstierna – whom he had impressed in 1642 with his revolutionary ideas about teaching and education. In his letter Comenius pleaded on behalf of those who had been persecuted because of their faith, that the ruler may not leave them in the lurch. Oxenstierna was angered by this letter.

Grace versus Law?
Whosoever translated first John 1:17 as For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ", did the Church of Christ a great disservice. By inserting the word but in stead of and (in the original Greek it is kai) the distance between Jew and Gentile was cemented in a tragic way. It became part and parcel of Replacement Theology where Christians deem the church to have replaced Israel in the divine order of things. Law and grace, biblically meant to complement each other, was regarded as mutually exclusive. That there are differences in nuances of the two tenets cannot be denied. But to state them as opposites is mischievous in the extreme. What an aberration and tragedy this is, that led to the impoverishment of the Church as she was distanced from her blessed Jewish roots!
Sadly, in Protestant teaching theologians were taken on tow by Martin Luther in his going overboard to create the impression that grace and law are mutually exclusive or even that 'Law' belongs to the 'Old Testament' and grace to the new covenant. In Reformed churches the dichotomy is weakened to some extent when the law is read every Sunday in their liturgy, interspersed often by Jesus' summary of the Law. Following Paul, the apostle, this is followed up by a pronouncement of grace. (In more than one instance the upbringing of the prodigious Hellenist comes through. Greek philosophic thinking loves the either... or.) Coming from his personal experience during which the legalistic interpretation of the Torah against which our Lord also protested vehemently, Paul proclaimed the law to be an educator to bring one in faith in Christ. Hebrew thinking is more inclusive, wary of false alternatives. Under this influence Paul wrote to the Galatians (3:5) along similar lines with regard to the gift of the Holy Spirit: '... by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith.' (Elsewhere we examine the false alternatives of works and faith.)
The incorrect legal and forensic interpretation of Torah – preferably only with negative connotations – in contrast to the Jewish understanding of loving and protective teaching, led to the caricature. The sad part of this is that this construction even found its way into Bible translations. The King James version – not generally regarded as one of the worst English translations - fell into the trap by translating John 1:17, incorrectly adding the word but, thereby indirectly implying that there is a contradiction between the law given by Moses and the grace and truth which came through Christ.
If one considers how inclusive Count Zinzendorf and his Moravians were – and how he viewed grace - we understand why this group were possibly hitherto the most successful ever in the outreach to Jews. The abounding grace that went ahead of the emissaries to the 'heathen' nations enabled him to be enough to see the same grace at work in the christening of infants, not getting involved in divisive debates about the mode of baptism. In America they put so much grace in practice to accommodate the Sabbatharian habits of the indigenous population that they took two days of rest. The celebration of the Singstunde on Saturday evening as a tradition taken from the Jews with the Sabbath starting on Friday evening.

The Nature of the spiritual Battle
Few Christians today are aware that Paul was basically paraphrasing Isaiah for the Gentile Ephesians, adding a few more items of the armour. In Isaiah 59:17 the breastplate of righteousness and the helm of salvation are mentioned. It has hardly been noted how Paul proceeded - just like Jesus had done in Luke 4, citing from Isaiah 61 - to delete vengeance in his version of (spiritual) weapons. Vengeance would fit to the darker side of things. The follower of Jesus walks in the light, detesting anything which belongs to the kingdom of darkness.
It it striking what Paul added to the armour. To buckle yourself with truth is saying in another way: ‘I make myself ready for battle’. We remind ourselves that Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). It also highlights the fight against the real enemy who is a liar from the beginning, whose ‘native language’ (John 8:44, NIV) is lying and deceit.
What is especially important is how the 'NT' sees the nature of the battle. Paul summarised spiritual warfare aptly: ‘not against flesh and blood’. In the same vein the aged John wrote on the island of Patmos how the victory will be finally clinched in the spiritual ‘war’. The ‘general’ of the army is the meek Lamb of Lambs. Zinzendorf and his Moravians took the symbolism using a lamb with the banner: ‘Our Lamb has conquered. Let us follow Him!’ (Two centuries before him Luther was also very much aware of the real presence of the devil - so much so that he has gone on record as having thrown his ink-pot at the accuser.
It is interesting how the Talmud saw Moses as a Lamb, and thus a precursor of the one of whom Isaiah 53 prophesied, the sheep who wouldn’t open his mouth as he is being taken to be slaughtered, the Lamb to whom John the Baptist referred: In a dream about the boy Moses, the Pharaoh sees the lamb outweighing the might of Egypt on a pair of balances.
On the other hand, Jesus is also the Lion of Judah. No wonder that the adversary tries to emulate him, going around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). But this lion is a bad copy of the real one. Basically that lion only makes a lot of noise, he can only growl and roar with lies and deception because his teeth have been extracted on the Cross of Calvary.

Some more biblical examples
Spiritual warfare as such has generally been completely neglected. In many churches it was relatively unknown up to about a decade or two ago. Of course, here and there the narration of Hur and Aaron might have been highlighted. Their keeping Moses’ arms aloft has often been taught as an example for intercessory prayer. Occasionally, lessons were taken from the battle of Gideon against the Midianites. But even here, it was hardly emphasised that the ‘sword of Gideon’, which brought such awe in the camp of the Midianites, eventually turned out to be a torch. In the biblical context the Word is the (two-edged) sword (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). Psalms 119:105 described the Word as ‘a lamp to my feet and a light for my path’, indeed also a torch. The prayer and challenge of Elijah on Mount Carmel in his solitary attack against the Baal worship (1 Kings 18) remained standard Sunday School repertoire, but the impact of the power hungry ‘Jezebel Spirit’ - the vicious women who ravage churches by a pious cunning but outward show - is probably quite unknown and yet depressing many a pastor. It is often overlooked that Elijah was in a deep spiritual depression immediately after the stunning victory at Carmel. The narrative of the conquest of Jericho under Joshua has sometimes been demoted to a fairy tale. Condescendingly it has been looked at as the theme of a Negro spiritual. Not many Christians are aware of a curse put on the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:26) and the lifting of it at the price of the first-born and youngest son of Hiel who went to rebuild the city (1 Kings 16:34). That praise can be used in spiritual warfare (see Johasaphat’s use of it in Chronicles 20) and the narrative of the supernatural victory over the Aramean army (2 Kings 6:8ff) are things still by and large unknown. Against that background Jesus’ veiled reprimand must be understood after the disciples had offered to defend him with two swords against the might of imperial Rome: ‘that is enough’ (Luke 22:38). They had evidently still not understood the nature of His warfare which is of course in the mould of Zechariah 4:6 ‘Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.

5. Neglect of Spiritual Warfare

Prayer was always seen as a standard component of church services but it has been increasingly relegated in importance, especially when churches moved away from revival-like beginnings. The weekly prayer meeting has been cancelled by many a church. Fasting was either completely ignored or substituted by something like smoking or drinking which one could ‘give up’, i.e. refrain from during lent. A praise song at the beginning of the Sunday service became a standard part of the liturgy and vibrant prayer was formalised to ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). This is a far cry from the spontaneous beginnings of the synagogue as a gathering for informal fellowship without a priest or ritual.
On another level, the monologue-type sermon received a monopoly as a way of communication in church services. Mutual fellowship suffered when it became habitual to leave immediately after the church service. We compare this to how constant dialogue was present even in a mass meeting in John 6 - with thousands present. And Jesus didn’t make a fuss either when hundreds walked away. In fact, he gave the faithful twelve the option to follow the example of the masses (6:67). Note also how Paul took for granted that all believers have something to contribute when they congregate (1 Corinthians 14:26) for fellowship. Yet, in most churches monologues, without any active participation of congregants, is not only standard practice, but it seems also completely unchallenged.

In recent decades some ground in spiritual warfare has been recovered, for example by using praise in Jesus marches and ‘worship services’. But also here the relationship to spiritual warfare was not always clearly recognised. Reverence and a prayerful attitude were all too often conspicuous by their absence in these marches. (Compare the ‘march’ around Jericho. The trumpets sounded but the people were ordered to shout only on the seventh day at the seventh time around the city).

Emulating worldly standards
Worldly standards - such as going for the big and mighty - have crept into churches which were otherwise known to be meticulous in their biblical orientation. Emperor Constantine and his mother Helene who took as their models the gigantic edifices of the pagan temples, did the Church a major disservice by creating monuments. The house churches, which had been so effective in spreading the Gospel – aided by a lot of persecution – were marginalised to all intents and purposes. Big buildings with the accompanying big staffs and many meetings, have been camouflaged by terms like the cell principle. This is of course no excuse for the other extreme where the process of building a church has just become another way of building the own kingdom. Many a pastor and his church have lost their evangelistic zeal in the process.
In modern times the use of cell phones have introduced the possibility of people giving a response via an SMS, but only rarely is this used. The bigger the church, the more difficult dialogue can function properly. The rediscovery of the house church in recent years is a significant correction. Many people are now being reached with the Good News who never would have entered a church building. Others who had been damaged by church practise or whose gifts lied dormant for years, came back into the evangelical fold. With the increase of Bible teaching in local fellowships and the proliferation of house churches, being a Christian started to mean again to be involved with a mission to the whole world.

Teaching on spiritual warfare has helped us to recognise some of the pitfalls, such as presumptuous action. Many a Christian who entered such warfare without sufficient prayer covering, came away with ‘a bloody nose’. The applicable biblical verse is Proverbs 19:2 ‘It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.’ Trying to break down demonic strongholds without information that has been sufficiently researched could be dangerous. Some believers have for example returned from the mission field with chronic depression or other serious ailments.
Another pitfall is disobedience. There are many biblical examples: men of God who toyed with sin, who were unrepentant or not submissive to their own peril. The tragic case of Saul immediately comes to mind. He tried to camouflage his disobedience and impatience with an offering, without however displaying real remorse. He still gave excuses why he violated the Lord’s instructions after he had basically only been interested in setting up a monument in his own honour (1 Samuel 15:12, 24). That presumption and arrogance can be the cause for God not listening to our prayers, is illustrated in Deuteronomy 1:41-45 ‘...the Lord...paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you.’ A scriptural example of people who operated out of rank is the two sons of Sceva, who were badly injured and who had to flee out of the house naked. They tried to drive out demons, using the name of Jesus presumptuously (Acts 19:14-16).
The Hebrew Scriptures contain quite a few examples of personalities who incurred problems for themselves only because they could not wait. The most classic one is probably Abraham and Sarah who settled for a compromise that resulted in the birth of Ishmael. This spawned in the age-old rivalry between the offspring of the two famous sons of Abraham. On the other hand, the examples of Moses, Joseph and David highlight how God used long periods of waiting to prepare them to be used optimally.
Irreverence and disobedience led to Moses’ downfall when he struck the rock at Meribah, after God had ordered him to speak to it. In the ‘Word of Faith’ movement one sometimes get the impression that speakers operate in their own authority, interspersing the name of Jesus when it suits them. God will not allow the usurping of his authority to go unpunished.

Early Cape ‘Warfare’ Examples Until fairly recently spiritual warfare was regarded as a modern fad but precursors had started from South Africa already in the earlier centuries. Yet, the settlement at the Cape had spiritual forces in battle from its pristine beginnings. The colonial powers that vied for control had sectarian views of Christianity at its roots. The Roman Catholic Portuguese were the first to discover places like Robben Island and the Anglican background British started to use the Island as a penal institution. When Jan van Riebeeck started the half-way post in 1652 – only four years after the agreement in Westphalia – the understanding was that whosoever colonized any geographical area, could impose his understanding and interpretation of the Bible there. Of course, all Christians were in agreement at that time that there should be no room at all for Muslims and that Islam should be fought, military if need be, as it was the case in Indonesia. But even the Lutherans from Germany were not allowed to have there own church. The language issue came into the fray as well after the arrival of the French Huguenots arrived in 1688. With the bilingual Ds Henricus Beck it was arranged that he alternated in his sermons between French and Dutch. Parallel to the military subjugation of the indigenous people, as well as materialism via fraud and theft of their land, there was disregard of the humanity of the natives. That they could be shot down like animals was an attitude that was hardly rectified by the church at large. This view was so pervasive that indoctrination could still be taught by a sect in the 1990s. At the trial of Eugene Marais, a deceived right-wing member of an Afrikaner sect, he explained: ‘... Blacks were animals of the field animals that looked like people ... it was therefore not a sin to kill Blacks’ (Die Burger, 14 March 1991).
Possibly unaware of the pioneering work of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians of Herrnhut in Germany, a group of evangelical Christians under the Dutch Reformed Minister Ds Henricus Beck operated at the Cape at his retirement in 1731. Along with Georg Schmidt, the Moravian pioneer missionary from 1737, the foundations were led for a missionary prayer group half a century later. The battle for the hearts against the religion of Islam had already started taking shape when leaders from the Indonesian Archipelago were exiled to the Cape. It was surely not insignificant that Tuan Said was released from Robben Island in the very year that Georg Schmidt had to leave the Cape due to pressure from the Reformed Church dominees at the Cape. The legacy of Schmidt however continued to work through via the indigenous Magdalena, who effectively planted a fellowship in what later became Genadendal. The death of another Khoi impacted a young revived dominee, Helperus van Lier not very long after his arrival in 1786. Under the latter’s ministry a group of 60 believers from Lutheran and Reformed background gathered on a weekly basis at the Zuid-Afrikaanse Gesticht, praying for missionary goals, long before something similar existed elsewhere in the world. However, the young Ds van Lier died already in 1793 when the influential Islamic leader Tuan Guru was released from Robben Island. On his release the same year he immediately started to minister in the bo-Kaap, founding a Madressa and Mosque in quick time. He was assisted by colonial policy because it had been decreed that slaves were not to be sold. The materialism of the colonists made sure that their slaves would rather become Muslims than losing their trade value. This combined with racial prejudice resulting in slaves turning to Islam in scores. The founding of the first mission agency outside of Europe was a fact in 1799. The virtual nullifying of the semi-revival under Ds van Lier was supernaturally countered by an earthquake at the Cape on 1 December 1809, which brought an energetic preacher Marthinus Vogelgezang into evangelical action. The anglicisation policy of Governor Lord Charles Somerset followed the arrival of the 1820 British Settlers. By this time racial prejudice, White superiority and oppression were taken for granted. Therefore the vision of missionaries like the Dutchmen van der Kemp and Dr Philip who saw slaves and Khoi as equals, were vehemently opposed, not only by the rank and file colonist but also by the Cape churches and his fellow missionaries. This could not deter Dr Philip influencing colonial policy significantly, to help usher in the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834. The actual general freeing of slaves four years later along with inter-denominational co-operation, ushered in a mini-revival atmosphere at the Schotse Kerk, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Petty internal bickering and jealousy between Rev George Morgan and a rather headstrong Ds Stegmann from the nearby Lutheran Church in Strand Street brought an end to the spiritual renewal across racial, language and denominational boundaries that strated with the emancipation of slaves in December 1838.

The ‘Mother City’ as a battleground of Spiritual Forces
Right from its early beginnings the Cape became a battleground not only of the imperial powers of the time but also of spiritual forces. The colonial lords, who had the good idea of having a half-way post for the replenishment of water and nourishment for the ships going to the East, were guided by only one thing: profit. The idol of materialism - the nice word for greed, which the Bible calls idolatry (Colossians 3:5), has ever since been worshipped here at the Cape. Proudly Jan van Riebeeck mentioned in his diary how he bought cattle from the Khoi with 'valsch geld' (counterfeit money) after he had intoxicated them. The Dutch Here XVII, the monetary bosses of the trade in spices who ruled from Amsterdam, were furthermore steeped in Freemasonry. They would make sure that a special brand of Christianity would stay in place in the Dutch colonies, a caricature of the 'New Testament' version, with Freemasonry very much part of the established order. The foundation stone of many a church were laid with Freemason rituals.
Religious intolerance was commonplace in colonial days, with no semblance of a view for the unity of the Body of Christ. according to the Reformed understanding of the Gospel in the Netherlands, Roman Catholicism and Islam were regarded as the main ‘enemies’. However, not even other Protestants were allowed to practice their religion freely at the Cape. The Lutherans had to petition for 40 years until they were finally allowed to have their own church in 1780. But also in that church the Freemasons had a hand in the beginnings. Anreith, who was not only a famous architect of the time, but also a practising Freemason, operated at both the Lutheran Church in Strand Street and at the Groote Kerk. The devil thus had his agents so to speak in the front pews of the Cape Church.
The pulpit of the latter church was Anton Anreith’s sculpture masterpiece, including lions with huge paws - which is Freemason symbolism. A similar feature is found in the pulpit of the new building of the Groote Kerk, likewise by Anreith. Herman Schutte, another Freemason, did the church design. That this church was so much involved with the secretive Afrikaner Broederbond in the 20th century is surely no co-incidence.
The obelisk structures on the exterior of the building that replaced the original Groote Kerk made the early Christian sanctuary of the Cape resemble more a Freemason temple than a traditional church. (A sad feature of the 19th century church was that there appears to have been not a single dissenting voice for many decades in respect of the Freemason influence). Officially, Freemasons were not allowed to become members of the Broederbond, but their secret practices were nevertheless very similar.
The Cape, along with its nearby Robben Island, was furthermore a convenient outpost for the ostracism and incarceration of uncomfortable Muslim opponents from the Indonesian Archipelago. The unequal fight against Islam had already started when the Mardyckers, who arrived at the Cape in 1658, were not allowed to practice their religion openly. Such was the religious prejudice that Prince Achmat van Ternate was incarcerated on the infamous Robben Island for 65 years - much longer than Nelson Mandela. What was Prince Achmat’s crime? The prince had been guilty of admitting that he had harboured Europeans as well as slaves of both sexes in his house day and night for ‘gambling, whoring and other irregularities.’ A related debt was incurred by the British State Church when men were convicted for trivial offences – for as little as stealing a loaf of bread - and sent as convicts to Australia. That was probably even worse because the whole of Australia was regarded as a giant penal colony, and many of the prison wardens were priests and ministers.

Racism as a convenient ally
Racism was another way in which the enemy of souls used the colonial authorities and the church as a convenient ally - or should we rather say lackey? from the early beginnings. Already in 1666 Ds. Baldeus, a visiting Dutch clergyman intervened - predominantly on racial grounds - when a slave woman wanted to have her child baptised. The indigenous Khoi and San, derogatory called Hottentotten en Bosjesmannetjes, were regarded as game which could be annihilated at random. The Cape Church apparently hardly challenged the colonists on this score. Missionaries who opposed that view, were criticised and even pushed out of the country. The radical Rev. James Read and Dr Philip have been reviled in church circles and even in academic historiography to this day.
The Dutch component of the Cape population were at least more honest than the British in this regard. In a letter a certain Anna Steenkamp disclosed clearly that the reason for the Great Trek was because people of colour were put on an equal footing with them. This was probably the prime reason.
For the removal of the first missionary, Georg Schmidt, who operated at the location of the present Genadendal, there was a handy excuse: he had only been ordained by letter and was thus not entitled to baptise in their view. That was the formal reason. The informal reason - probably the real one - was that he did what he had been expressly forbidden: to baptise Khoi, the primitive Hottentotten. Some thirty years later, in 1770, a decree was promulgated to protect slaves who had been baptised. The slave owners interpreted this as a threat to their property.
Slaves felt unwelcome at the first two Cape churches until the Zuid-Afrikaanse Gesticht congregation in Long Street was established by the South African Missionary Society. The saying had gone around in slave circles that ‘de zwarte kerk is de slamse kerk’, implying that the mosque was the sanctuary for the slaves. Cape Christian colonists encouraged their slaves to become Muslims so that they could still be sold as cattle. By the end of the 18th century the pews at the back of the Groote Kerk - which had been reserved for slaves - were empty every Sunday. That was the period of Cape history when Islam blossomed in the Mother City of South Africa like never before or after.
The history of slavery at the Cape is indeed a very sad one. For us as Christians there is the added dimension that the treatment of slaves was a factor towards the spread of lslam at the Cape. I hasten to add that the very same treatment became the catalyst for the formal abolishment of slavery worldwide, due to the reporting by Dr Philip, the superintendent of the London Missionary Society at the Cape, albeit it that he overstepped here and there. Whereas it was probably correct that the likes of John Fairbairn, the Scottish Presbyterian Rev. Andrew Murray, the Jew Benjamin Norden, Thomas Pringle, and among the British settlers were exceptions, but to call the 'the refuse of English society' as he did in an article published in The Missionary Herald in the USA in November 1833 was definitely not charitable. Through his book Researches in South Africa and the friendship to the evangelical parliamentarian William Wilberforce. Dr. Philip influenced Wilberforce decisively on his return to Britain in 1826. Wilberforce became the driving power behind the formal abolition of slavery.

The Cape Parliament as an ally of dark forces
Freemasonry and racism combined merrily from the beginning of the Cape Colony. The change from Dutch to British rule made no change to that. Cecil John Rhodes, the prime imperialist, was a Freemason and a homosexual, adding another dimension of spiritual forces to the fray.
The fight in the heavenlies was actually also raging in the chambers of Parliament. The Spirit of Christ was radiated by Mr. De Roubaix, a Cape parliamentarian who was very sympathetic to the Muslims at the Cape even though it seems as if his prime motive was a broad humanism. He used his influence to bring Abubakr Effendi, a Muslim clergyman from Turkey to the Mother City. (Internal squabbles in the mosques had brought the Islamic religion at the Cape in disrepute.) The charitable work of De Roubaix was brought to nought by the alliance of dark forces. When the cab driver Abdul Burns aspired to get into the Cape Parliament, blatant racism came to the fore. Cecil John Rhodes, the Prime Minister and Jan Hofmeyr, the leader of the Afrikanerbond, conveniently forgot their differences. They clubbed together to keep people of colour out of the Cape Parliament.
These moves brought another big name of the first half of the 20th century into play, Dr Abdullah Abdurahman, who became a long-standing city councillor. Seemingly unaware of spiritual dynamics, he unwittingly fell prey to the other scourge which was to plague the Cape Parliament, allegiance to one section of the population. Due to his efforts the sub-economic flats in Schotsche Kloof - originally a farm and now part of Bo-Kaap - were specifically built for Muslims. This was ironical because Abdurahman was not that much of a staunch Muslim at all, quoting more often from the Bible than from the Qur’an. In fact, some of his fierce political opponents like Gamiet, held it against him that he was not doing enough for the Muslims as a group.

A big and a small church in spiritual battle
Two churches played an important role in the spiritual battle at the Cape. It seemed that the Moravians had lost out when their first missionary, Georg Schmidt, was forced to leave in 1744 due to the manipulation of church officials at the Cape. But the seed which he had sown, did germinate. When three missionaries returned to the Bavianskloof (which later became Genadendal) in 1792, one of Schmidt’s converts, Vehettge Vittuie - who became commonly known as de oude Lena, the old Lena - was still faithfully reading to a gathering of believers from the Dutch 'New Testament', which the German missionary had left there.
Ironically, a Dutch Reformed minister from the big church - the Groote Kerk - was used to bring the Moravians back to the Cape. The mission-minded Ds. van Lier was at hand when Bishop Reichel visited the Cape in 1787. In turn, this visit spawned the start of a South African mission society a few years later. At the turn of the 21st century Ds. Vos operated already as a missionary from South Africa in Ceylon.
It looks as if God had a special plan with the colony at the Cape of Good Hope. Satan could never be happy when missionaries like the Dutchman Dr van der Kemp already had the vision to make use of Africans for mission work. That he had the ‘temerity’ to marry a young Malagassy slave woman might have displayed his commitment in identification with the underdogs of the colonial society, but it simultaneously entrenched the resentment of the colonists. We can hardly imagine how it must have shaken their racial pride. In any society the marriage of a 60-year-old widow to a 17-year-old would not harvest general praise. Furthermore, Dr Philip hardly gave the impression of properly attending to the complaints of the colonists after his first few years. In their eyes he was completely biased. Thus the two highly qualified academics, Dr van der Kemp and Dr Philip, were definitely disqualified in the view of the colonists to teach them. This is not to mention Rev James Read, whose adultery – fathering a child by one of the daughters of an elder - was a convenient stick to knock him spiritually unconscious.
On the other hand, during Dr Philip’s visit to England in 1826, he met the evangelical parliamentarian Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. The latter had close links to William Wilberforce, the staunch fighter for the complete emancipation of slaves. In his subsequent correspondence with Buxton, Philip linked the slave issue to the situation of the Khoisan in the Cape Colony already in his first comprehensive report on the LMS stations although he made a distinction between the problems with the Khoisan and those pertaining to slaves (Walker, 1964:153).

Denominational and racial Exclusivity
The renowned Dr Andrew Murray discerned that church unity as one of the important conditions to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, which would enable it to carry out the Great Commission. Inside the DRC he exerted great influence as secretary of the Ministers’ Mission Association. His systematic theological reflection on missions resulted in Die Sendingvraagstuk in 1901, which was the precursor of The Key to the missionary problem. This booklet influenced missions world-wide.
A blot in the set-up at that time was that the DRC church had a separate institution for future missionaries at Wellington, thus entrenching the impression that missionaries are inferior. The racial separation which started in 1857 - born out of embarrassment, to cater ‘for the weakness of the flesh’, was just what the devil needed to cripple the potentially mighty church. Andrew Murray fell prey to denominational and racial exclusivity when he blew into the horn of the exclusion of English-speaking Christians and the indigenous people. In a letter to his brother, he wrote: Our people are still so separated from the English on one side and the natives on the other, that you will find harmonious action to any great extent an impossibility. (In due course other churches followed suit. Denominations which were divided along racial lines became the common pattern.)
Johannes Du Plessis, a prominent church historian, lectured in Stellenbosch. He helped to make the ‘Kweekskool’, the theological faculty of the university there, a bastion of sound bible-based teaching when tertiary institutions in Europe were starting to become liberal in the negative sense of the word.
The enemy hit back forcefully, using racial prejudice and blatant racism. In the first years of missionary endeavour from the Cape it was no big deal to use indigenous believers as missionaries to neighbouring countries in different capacities. After the Dutch Reformed Synod of 1857 this seems to have become an issue. The South African General Mission, which was started in 1889 by Andrew Murray, unwittingly had an albatross around its neck. Also other mission agencies took years before people of colour were even considered as potential missionaries.
The very denomination, which headed up mission work from the Cape into black Africa, became the skunk of the world in due course. Racial arrogance became the hall-mark of the Dutch Reformed Church when the link to the apartheid ideology unwittingly encouraged that. Even mission-minded people like Professor G.B.A. Gerdener were infected by the virus of racial prejudice.
A related problem brought the Moravian Church to its knees. The small church had a gigantic influence not only in the ‘Coloured’ community. No less than the influential Dr Beyers Naudé, was inspired at Genadendal when he courted the daughter of the missionary Emil Weder. The Moravian mission stations and its schools such as the one in Arundel Street, District Six, churned out leaders of the ‘Coloured’ community in all walks of life, very especially in the field of education.
The issue of autonomy for the church from its mother body in Germany was the issue which got the likes of Rev. Daniel Joorst and Daniel Wessels on the same side of the battle line. It was however nowhere a racial issue. The way of opposing the (apartheid) government turned out to become the dividing line as two rival teacher trade unions operated. The Teachers League of South Africa (TLSA) of the Wessels clan was more radical than the rival teachers’ organisation TEPA where the Joorsts were part of the leadership. In the church itself, a traditionalism which is devoid of spirituality eroded the bubbling life of the denomination which once had been the leading light in mission endeavour world-wide. In a wry irony, former fighters for autonomy from Germany who were also battling against apartheid practices in the church, became reactionaries in the 1970s when young theologians and seminary students started to rock the boat of outdated and unbiblical traditionalism.

Persevering Prayer spawns a Western Cape Pentecost The father of the well-known Dr Andrew Murray who came to the Cape with the 1820 British Settlers, prayed faithfully for many decades for revival in South Africa. This started in Worcester in 1860, spreading like a bush fire. Following the example of the Jerusalem Christians of the first century, the blessed 10 days of Pinksterbidure were started in the wake of the revival in Paarl under Ds G. van der Lingen. Rev. Andrew Murray's illustrious son and namesake brought an emphasis on prayer into play, along with interest he aroused for the work of the Holy Spirit. Revivals in different parts of Africa were spawned from Cape Town after Murray’s founding of the South African General Mission in 1889. His booklet The Key to the missionary Problem at the beginning of this century really set the scene for great things. Hans van Staden, the founder of the Dorothea Mission, a S.A. mission agency, was deeply influenced by this booklet and later by the visits to South Africa of Priscilla Studd, the wife of C.T. Studd. Van Staden became the driving force behind Patrick Johnstone’s work Operation World, the book which has arguably influenced world missions more than any other book. Johnstone met his first wife Jill, who wrote the first children’s version of the book, while they were missionaries with the Dorothea Mission in Southern Africa.
Nationalisms undermine Unity The initial promise of Andrew Murray’s vision never came to fulfilment. Satan hit back through his favourite weapon: divide and rule. Various forms of arrogance and nationalism caused division on different level. Any possibility that the Cape could become the advance guard for Jews and Muslims to become followers of Jesus, were respectively dashed by religious polemics and suffrage manipulation. Racial pride and discrimination wrecked the promising beginnings under the Jewish parliamentarian Saul Solomon and the evangelical P.E. de Roubaix showed compassion towards Muslims. The newspaper polemics in the Cape Argus between the Jewish background Ds. Frans Lion Cachet and Rabbi Joel Rabinowitz in 1876 heightened tension between Christians and Jews, while the relatively conciliatory ‘Onze Jan’ Hofmeyr became party to vote manoeuvring to keep people of colour out of the Cape Parliament. The result of the Cachet -Rabinowitz polemics was that by 1876 favourable conditions for Messianic Jews to win their cultural compatriots over to faith in Yeshua had passed somewhat and it was left to Gentiles to lead such people to faith in Jesus as their Lord and Messiah. Immigration in the wake of the discovery of diamonds and gold -thousands of adventurers and poor Europeans - brought initially a greedy imperialism and later anti-Semitism to the Cape. The greed was clearly the cause of the Jameson Raid of 1895 and ensuingly the Anglo-Boer War, which brought the Afrikaner broedertwis in its train. Two conflicting views of the Afrikaner identity ensued. The one side was in favour of an exclusive sectarian definition of Afrikaner nationalism while the other promoted a broader non-racial South African nationalism. The hopeless position of the Afrikaner at the conclusion of the South African War was characterised by a loss of confidence in their nationhood, their language, culture and sense of belonging. In addition, the deliberate Anglicisation policy of Lord Alfred Milner, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, posed a serious threat to the Afrikaner culture and identity. The notion of being second-class citizens in their own country boosted Afrikaner nationalism which finally led to the NP’s electoral victory in 1948. The big tragedy is that the same rights they aspired for themselves were herafter denied to the other races. In the 1920s the Malawian dock worker Clement Kadalie organised trade unionism country-wide from the Cape. This existed vibrantly and fairly peacefully for a few years next to Communism and Afrikaner Christian Nationalism. The latter was imported from Germany via students who studied there adapting the National socialism of Hitler and his cronies. Legalised discrimination and oppression since 1948 brought different faces of African Nationalism to the fore. A race conflict seemed inevitable. Violent repression of different groups was steadily growing into a threatening situation, notably after the Sharpeville and Langa killings of March 1960. Even more harsh and brutal repression kept the lid on the boiling cauldron. Language repression came to the fore once again in 1976 when Black learners were expected to take subjects through the medium of Afrikaans. Warnings by Chief Gatsha Buthulezi and Bishop Tutu of simmering anger, were not heeded in the run-up to the June 16 eruption in Soweto.
Unfortunate connotations
People like C T Studd, the founder of WEC international, by using straight unrelenting language, inadvertently harmed the cause of spiritual warfare. The use of the dubious word crusade as part of the name of the mission agency that Studd founded, already conjured up unfortunate images. Studd dubbed cautious believers chocolate soldiers, fearful Christians who melt in the heat of battle. He typified his own attitude as DCD - don’t care a damn! The language that WEC’s founder used, smacked of arrogance. This was definitely not going to endear himself to rank and file Christians. It may have damaged the cause of missions to some extent on the long run. In the generations before Studd, many others - last not least Zinzendorf and the Herrnhut believers - regarded their Moravian missionaries as warriors in the spiritual battle for souls. They regarded themselves as belonging to an army whose captain was Jesus Christ. Led by Martin Linner, the single Brethren bound themselves to live in one house as the avant garde (advance guard) of the army which was to march over the world.
In due course almost all the Herrnhut inhabitants wanted to be ready for service in the Lord’s time. Marriage was delayed on purpose as part of the strategy. They were clearly following the apostle Paul’s advice in this regard. Zinzendorf himself had to go through the crucible after two disappointments in romance. The end result was for him the ‘Streiter-ehe’, according to which marriage primarily had to serve the cause of the Gospel. Celibacy was not a Moravian ideal, but both men and women pledged themselves to place marriage secondary to service for Christ. Most Moravians eventually married but postponed this step until it fitted in with the assignments the Church had for them.
C T Studd was clearly influenced by William Booth and his Salvation Army. Typical of the spirit of these warriors were songs like ‘Fight the good fight with all thy might’ and ‘Onward Christian soldiers ...going as to war.’ That Studd also spoke of ‘prayer batteries’ was nearer to biblical truth. The idea was that the little prayer groups should operate as canon batteries, either as bombs preparing the areas where the ‘infantry’ can move in or to provide cover and prayer support for the missionaries on the field. That everybody can be involved, and that not only special courageous people are fit to be used by God, is of course very scriptural. In the story of Gideon, it is especially precious how God could use the cowardly Israelite because he was willing and obedient, albeit very hesitantly. Exemplary was also how Gideon gave due to those who were not initially involved in the battle, but who did play a part in the mopping-up operation (Judges 8:2, 3).

Warlike terminology
Unfortunately Studd’s warlike terminology coincided with the period before and after World War I. It was therefore not surprising that he experienced rock-like resistance from the rank and file Christian. Norman Grubb brought about a major correction in WEC even through books like the biography of Rees Howells. This book is a powerful illustration how God can use a prayerful individual. Grubb described how Rees Howells changed the course of history during World War II through his tireless intercession and his practising the principles of strategic prayer. We note how Howells was also led to intercede for Israel and the Jews as a matter of priority. He especially prayed for their return to their native land.
The influence of prayer on World History was perhaps never recorded better than the intercession of the Welshman, Mr Rees Howells, before and during World War II. It can be said quite firmly that God used him to avert a worldwide demonic Nazi takeover by Adolf Hitler. Already in March 1936 Howells began to see clearly that Hitler was ‘Satan’s agent for preventing the Gospel going to every creature’. In the four years prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Lord increased the burden on Howells from local concerns to national and international affairs. As Howells testified, he and the group of intercessors linked to the Bible College in Swansea, Wales ‘... were led to be responsible to intercede for countries and nations’. The strategic prayer offered and led from Swansea effectively countered the progress of Hitler during World War II. ‘There was no hope for Tommy, humanly speaking’ when King George VI decreed a day of prayer throughout the British Empire. Also at the Cape, Christians were praying for divine intervention. What was the result? Hitler was supernaturally stopped at Dunkirk in a way that reads like a repetition of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. A storm came up on the side of the Germans while on the British side of the English Channel it was ‘like glass’. Was it mere co-incidence that Hitler repeated Napoleon’s mistake to take the Russians on during winter, and ushered in his own demise? Or was it much rather divine intervention once again? Rees Howells concluded: ‘God laid bare His holy arm and wrought as He alone can’.
In his book Battle for Israel Jewish-background Lance Lambert, the leader of Intercessors for Israel, describes how prayer changed the course of the Yom Kippur war. Twenty Christian prayer warriors gathered in the Garden Tomb of Jerusalem. The Lord revealed to them that they had to pray that King Hussain and the Jordanian government be confused, in such a way that they do not enter into the war. The intercessors ‘tore off the secret cover of the Kremlin.’ Soviet ships were discovered in the nick of time that were already on their way to deliver missiles to Egypt that would have made chemical warfare a fact. In this way an expansion of the war was nipped in the bud.
The notion of spiritual warfare remained more or less obscure until the 1980s, although Jim Wilson wrote a booklet already in 1964 called Principles of War. In 1980 he gave it a new title Against the Powers. This was possibly the start gun for an increase in spiritual warfare, although at this stage it was still happening against the backdrop of the ‘cold war’. Communism was seen as the threat to the Church par excellence. Richard Wurmbrand from Rumania had alarmed the church already in the late sixties and the Dutchman Brother Andrew (Anne van der Bijl) wrote for example his Battle for Africa in 1977 in the same atmosphere.
The founder of Open Doors, Brother Andrew was trained at the WEC Missionary Training College in Glasgow. There he was possibly misled by the earlier name of WEC, which contained the unfortunate word crusade. His ‘bible smuggling’ movement originally had the name ‘Kruistochten’ in Holland, which means crusades. Nevertheless, he and Richard Wurmbrand were divinely used to get Western churches to wake up to the dangers of a global take over by Communism. Brother Andrew was also one of the first to see the dangers of Islamism, the militant wing of the religion as an ideology that had to be tackled with spiritual weapons. On both scores the Jewish background ???

An emerging unity of believers high-jacked Racism among English-speakers was strengthened by the influx of immigrants from Britain to South Africa in the decades after 1945. South Africa was extremely popular among those British immigrants who regarded the country as a haven for racial prejudice where the White man knew how to keep the blacks in their place. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s the country experienced a further influx of immigrants form the former European colonies of Angola, Mozambiques, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South West Africa (Namibia) who all fled majority rule, coming to the last bastion of White reign on the African continent.
Despite the racial tensions elicited by apartheid legislation, there was still considerable unity among believers within in respective races. The diabolic laws succeeded in high-jacking this emerging unity of believers in South Africa at the end of the 1950s. Professor G.B.A. Gerdener, a Stellenbosch academic, could still write in 1959: ‘With thankfulness we observe signs to come together and work together, also in our own Dutch Reformed Church’. Gerdener rightly discerned exclusiveness and isolation as a danger to missionary work. ‘Nowhere is isolation and exclusiveness so deadly and time-consuming than in the fight against the mighty heathendom and nowhere is co-operation and a unitary front so necessary and useful as here.’ But this insight was not translated into action. Apartheid and the reaction to it won the day. Unity of believers across the racial divide was as far away as ever.

Dutch Roots as the origins of a rift
In the Dutch Reformed Church the attitude to the government policy caused a wide rift which ran along racial lines. In a strange co-incidence the opposing parties had their theological training in Holland. The Dutch origin was indeed a focal point of the spiritual battle which raged in the 1970s and 1980s. Dr D.F. Malan, the first apartheid prime minister of the country, derived his vicious apartheid heresy from the theology from Abraham Kuyper while he was studying at the Dutch University of Utrecht. Various DRC theologians tried to defend apartheid theologically until 1986 when Professor Johan Heyns led the church in an about turn. A right-wing unrepentant faction broke away, forming their own church.
The counterparts of the white DRC - the ‘daughter churches’ - had ministers in the Broederkring and ABRECSA (Association of Black Reformed Churches in SA). Led by Dr. Allan Boesak, some of them received their inspiration especially at theological faculties in Holland. The ideological mother of all this was the banned Christian Institute of South Africa, which was founded by Dr Beyers Naudé. The bursaries for the pastors who studied in Holland ran as a rule via the office of Dr Naudé who was banned from 1977 to 1984. He had been influenced by the Moravians at Genadendal, who had some of their sons studying abroad in the 1960s, such as Revv. John Ulster, Ivan and Chris Wessels, who all grew up in Genadendal. The theological opposition to apartheid was decisively influenced by the booklet ‘Breek de Muren af’ written by Professor Joop Verkuyl of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.
Unfortunately the theologians at this time were side-tracked by the politics of the day as they became pawns of the enemy. Many a minister who started off as an evangelical, ended up with no burden for the lost. The spiritual dimensions of the real battle got completely clouded. With hindsight, it is not surprising that pastors thought that the only way to counter apartheid was to link up with what was at hand. There was almost a complete lack of a vision for spiritual unity.

Presence Evangelism practised
Forced by circumstances, Brother Andrew was confronted with the unacceptable situation of the ‘cold war’ where rank and file Christians in the West seemed to see all communist countries and its citizens only as the enemy. Long before he coined the term Presence Evangelism, he practised it. Challenged by the story of Joseph who went to look for his brothers, he met believers in these countries secretly, bringing not only comfort but also smuggling many Bibles personally and later thousands through Open Doors. Like very few agencies – if any – before them Open Doors put into practice the spiritual warfare principles, bringing down strongholds of Satan in due course. Brother Andrew believes strongly in the power of prayer and the Word as a two-edged sword. Initially believers in Eastern Europe and China were the beneficiaries of many Bibles in the various Eastern European languages. The prayer chain (for seven years since 1984 around the clock to break the demonic power ruling from Moscow) and prayer walking were practised in a country like Albania, long before these terms became household words in evangelical circles in the 1990s.
It was of course nothing new to preach enemy love. As a counter to the communist infiltration and its theory of hateful incitement Open Doors organised a Love China conference in 1975 and a Love Africa one in Malawi in 1978. It was fitting that Brother Andrew – as the Dutch delegate of an International Human Rights Conference at the Campus Crusadecentre De Burcht in January 1988 – offered one million Bibles to the Orthodox Church in Russia on its one-thousandth Birthday. That single gesture possibly ushered in the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
Some Western observers in recent times endeavour to get their governments to engage in dialogue with Islamist terror groups, advocating to understand them better, and inducing their governments to participate in a peace process along the lines of South Africa and Northern Ireland. Such naïve observers seem to be ignorant of the fact that Islamists are masters of taqiyya, the long standing Islamic practice of deception in favour of Islam and its goals. Brother Andrew and Open Doors also encourage dialogue, but he includes in the purpose of introducing the biblical Jesus to Hamas and other Islamists.

Prayer involved in the process of political change In the next few pages we examine how spiritual warfare changed the face of South Africa since the 1970s. The military situation on the country’s borders spurred White Christians of South Africa on to form a group called Intercessors for South Africa. This was initiated by Dr. Francis Grim, leader of the Hospital Christian Fellowship, which had its national headquarters in the picturesque Capetonian suburb of Pinelands. Prayer was very much part of the process of change. This is demonstrated by times of prayer and fasting in the St George’s Cathedral. Those responsible had evidently repented after the negative response to Rev. Bernard Wrankmore in 1971. Dr Grim was one of very few at the time to discern the growing moral dangers sufficiently: ‘Most people seem to be too busy making money, enjoying themselves ... to notice the dangerous downward trend in the country’s morals’. He initiated a National Day of Prayer, called for 7 January 1976. However, this was not perceived by people of colour as something to join. In fact, few people from these ranks knew about the day of prayer. The all-White organizers had still not recognized the need to draw in people from other racial backgrounds. Yet, this move may have stemmed the tide of Communist-inspired revolution, to which the Soweto June 16 upheavals in 1976 could easily have led. Grim gave a challenging title to a booklet that was published by his organisation: Pray or Perish. At any rate, God was already at work. On that very June 16, 1976 a young policeman, Johan Botha was posted in Soweto. Supernaturally God would use him almost 20 years later to bring the nation to its knees in prayer.
Prophetically Brother Andrew saw South Africa as a bastion for the Gospel on the continent at a time when it was not fashionable to have contacts with Whites in the country. He discerned, ‘With all its flaws, it remained the most stable and mature body of believers in Africa’. Refusing to speak before segregated audiences, he challenged White South Africans: ‘I don’t want your help with Russian Bibles when I know you’re neglecting a great need under your noses. Your first responsibility as a Christian is to South Africa and then to all of the African continent’.(1998:82f).

A prayer awakening with a national impact
Gerda Leithgöb started a prayer ministry for the city of Pretoria in 1978. The SACLA event in Pretoria of 1979 influenced the whole country positively. 1979 was a significant year in South Africa also in another way. Pastor Ed Roebert initiated a gathering of like-minded pastors with the purpose of fellowship and mutual encouragement. Soon he met regularly with Reinhardt Bonnke,Ed Roebert, Ray McCauley, Fred Roberts, Tim Salmon and Nicky v.d. Westhuizen (Vincent,1986:164) In due course many major churches were founded and men with unusually anointed ministries appeared on the scene. The SACLA conference was part of God’s plan to transform the apartheid stronghold and capital of South Africa.
Furthermore, World Literature Crusade launched their Change the World School of Prayer in the early 1980s. George Buckley, a New Zealander, came to South Africa to start up these schools of Prayer, an idea that had been inspired by Dr Andrew Murray. The South African prayer manual was published in Cape Town in 1981. It seems as if the manual was not very widely distributed. Yet, the group may have been the advance guard of the seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union and the prayer victories at the end of the 1980s. The group that was founded by Dr Dick Eastman and based in California (USA) documented some of their experiences, praying systematically over 40,000 continuous hours.
In 1983 a prayer awakening started in a few congregations all around South Africa. One of these was a small group of intercessors led by Gerda Leithgöb in Pretoria, setting them on a path previously unexplored in this country. Simultaneously with this, Bennie Mostert, a Dutch Reformed Church minister, started a newsletter to mobilize prayer in Namibia. Mostert dubbed his newsletter for Namibia Prayer Action Elijah.
In 1987 the Lord led the group in Pretoria to start with research into spiritual matters. In that same year a similar initiative started spontaneously all over the world. The Lord also called pastors in South Africa to start writing on prayer. Books were published concerning this issue.
Jewish-background Lance Lambert, the leader of Intercessors for Israel, highlighted Prayer Warfare at a Ministers Conference of the Assemblies of God in 1986 as the guest speaker. The teaching was distributed as a Call to Prayer publication from Plumstead, a Cape Town suburb, getting thus known outside the circles of those who attended. At the conference he made the profound statement, ‘The whole of the future of South Africa is in the hands of the intercessor. It is not in the hands of the whole church.’
In 1988 Gerda Leithgöb called prayer warriors from other countries at a conference in Singapore to pray for South Africa, which had been in a constant crisis since 1985. In 1993 Mostert formally started a national prayer network known as NUPSA (the Network for United Prayer in Southern Africa). NUPSA became closely linked to the spiritual transformation of the continent. In 1993 the first teams started praying through information gained from serious research. Teams travelled from Kimberley to Grahamstown and George, to pray through issues concerning Cecil John Rhodes and Freemasonry. This had a major influence in the continent, exposing much of the damage done to society through Freemasonry. During 1993 South Africa also started to participate in the Pray through the Window initiative, launched internationally by the AD 2000 prayer track.
Simultaneously with the call to prayer and fasting, God also moved in other prayer initiatives in South Africa and the continent. During 1992 YWAM organized an international prayer initiative to pray at the extremities of the six continents. (The vision originated with Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM, based on Psalm 2:8: “Ask of Me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession…” The day had four objectives: thanksgiving for salvation, praise for who God is, spiritual warfare and intercession over the lost throughout the continents and nations. The primary goal was to have teams praying at the 24 Cardinal Points of the world’s continents, and beyond that - to go to the extreme points of nations, cities and regions.) At all four cardinal points of Africa believers went to pray namely at Cape Agulhas, West Africa, Tunisia and Somalia.
South Africa was soon even more in the thick of things when Bennie Mostert, an Operation Mobilization (OM) missionary, initiated the printing of the 30-day Muslim prayer focus booklets in South Africa. Hereafter it became an annual event.

Sending missionaries of colour overseas
OM started a breakthrough in the modern era by sending missionaries of colour overseas when Peter Ward and Eugene Johnson from the Docks Mission in Gleemoor, a part of the Cape suburb Athlone, joined one of their ships. Rev Trevor Pearce, an Anglican priest, who likewise was one of the early OM recruits, went on to play a significant role in the transformation of the Mother City when he was God's instrument to bring the Sentinel Team to South Africa in 1999.
WEC International broke through the wall of prejudice when Caroline Duckitt and June Domingo, two ‘Coloureds’ from the Cape were accepted. An even greater breakthrough occurred when Newman Muzwondiwa from Zimbabwe and the South African Black Abraham Thulare were sent through the Durban office of WEC as missionaries to Japan. For years that mission was very much the avante garde as a multiracial agency, including three Indians from Durban, who had links to the mission work of the Dutch Reformed Ds. Davie Pypers. Even to-day Black missionaries from Southern Africa are very rare, a sad legacy from the apartheid past. When is this country going to tap the goldmine, the potential of people with rare language-learning ability of whom many already know English, the missionary lingua franca plus a few African languages?

A significant correction
On the global level, a similar pattern could be discerned. What had been intended as a practical solution within the predecessor of the World Council of Churches (WCC), developed into a rift. Basically it was the age-old problem of ‘faith’ versus ‘works’. Apartheid became one of the dividing lines between ‘evangelicals’ and ‘ecumenicals’. The decision by the world church body to support all agencies that fight racism, brought matters to a head. One had the strange situation that many evangelicals in Europe now thought they had to support the apartheid regime in South Africa because the WCC thought it fit to support the freedom fighters of Southern Africa indiscriminately.
At a time when the schism between so-called evangelicals and ecumenicals seemed almost unbridgeable, when ‘faith’ versus ‘works’ seemed logical, God used Dr Billy Graham to initiate the Lausanne International Conference on World Evangelization in 1974. At this occasion third world theologians were divinely used by God, showing that these two tenets of our faith are not alternatives, that both were equally needed. Thus Fouad Assad, the Lebanese executive secretary, bridged the gap between Liberation Theology and the common Western evangelical version during a devotional session. He pointed out that the apostle Philip broke through the taboo of the religious people of his time by communicating with a eunuch (Acts 8). Zinzendorf did the same centuries later by talking to the likes of slaves.
Anthropologists were accusing evangelical missionaries of destroying indigenous cultures. In Lausanne the Korean Okhill Kim brought the evangelicals back to the best of their roots, when he reminded how the missionary Mary Scranton, who started a school for girls in their country in 1886 with the intention ‘not to force Koreans to give up their own ways’ but to show them new ways of being Koreans (Report Let the Earth hear his voice, 1975:657). Okhill Kim brought a new challenge to the West that was reeling under the threat of a moratorium of new Western missionaries. (Liberal African theologians had been suggesting that the West should send money rather than workers who had no feeling for the culture.) In Lausanne Kim highlighted the wrong alternatives, stating that it was the task of Christian evangelism to make the old new. He encouraged e.g ‘to cultivate the educational forms of our own cultural heritage in the arts, combining the arts of the West and the East’ (ibid, p.659).
The Lausanne conference became the watershed for world evangelism during the last quarter of the 20th century. Many movements flowed from it, which aimed at reaching the unreached people groups before the end of the millenium. The DAWN (Discipling a whole Nation) and AD 2000 movements, along with the ‘Concerts of Prayer’ of Dave Bryant are a few of the catalysts of a resurgence of prayer. The role of South Korea has to be mentioned in this regard. The Koreans taught the Western World how to pray.
Two Africans from different parts of the continent, contributed significantly to the bridging of the gap between evangelicals and ecumenicals, namely Bishop Kivangere of Uganda and South Africa’s ‘Mr. Pentecost’, David Du Plessis. Bishop Kivangere, who had to flee the wrath of the dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s, became a blessing to Christians around the world with his challenging message of love and forgiveness. Du Plessis assisted in the thawing of the relationship between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Yet, in many quarters the denominational division is still not recognised as a demonic stronghold.

Praying down spiritual strongholds
Until fairly recently spiritual warfare was regarded as a modern fad in some church circles. Things changed dramatically when the results of strategic and concerted prayer became known towards the end of the previous decade. The result of seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union, to which Open Doors and others had invited, was there for everyone to see. The demise of Communism got its major impetus from the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This was preceded by mass prayer rallies at different East German churches, notably in Leipzig and Dresden. Even though one has to put some question marks to the demonstrative mass appeal of those prayers, the fact is that prayer was the catalyst. Also in 1989, Edgardo Silvoso and Tom White presented papers at the Spiritual Warfare Track workshop of the Lausanne II Congress in Manila. The outcome was the founding of a Spiritual Warfare Communication and Referral Network. Since then Peter Wagner and others have developed this further and a spate of books followed on the topic. The run-up to the Gulf War (in 1991) spawned the call of the mission agency Open Doors for ten years of prayer for the Muslim World in 1990. With the increased awareness of spiritual warfare in Christian circles, the power of occult strongholds has also been recognised more and more.
Information has surfaced that the change towards democracy in South Africa was primarily the result of many years of faithful prayer against the demonic apartheid ideology by unknown Christians. Many of the persevering prayers were black women and Christians of other countries, from Kenya and Nigeria. Thus a few Christians from the region of the Dutch town Zeist were led in the Sionskerk to pray especially for South Africa on Thursday, October 4, 1989. They were not aware that just a week later the new state President De Klerk would have an historic meeting with the theologians Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak. Not long before this meeting the new presidential incumbent indicated a change of the political direction by allowing a big march in the Mother City, led by religious leaders and ordering the police to keep a low profile at this occasion. Together they were thus instruments to prepare the way for the release of (the later president) Nelson Mandela in February 1990.
It was very fitting that a Kenyan, Professor Washington Okumu, a committed Christian, was used by God to broker the accord which staved off the threatening civil war just before the first democratic elections in 1994. Many Kenyans had been praying for SA in the run-up to the elections. Just as spectacular was the group of ten Nigerians, including Pastor willy Oyegun, who prayed in various places in Pretoria in February, 1994 after they had almost been sent back to their home country on the international airport in Johannesburg. Oyegun was to play a crucial role in the Western Cape, helping many Whites to dump their racial prejudice in respect of Blacks.

Prayer against the Wall of Islam Internationally, the first major round of prayer for the Muslim world in the past century started around 1915 when Dr Samuel Zwemer challenged the Keswick Convention in England. This event fathered the Prayer Fellowship of Faith for Muslims in Britain.
In modern history spiritual warfare has been practised even when the term was not used, also here in Cape Town. Ds. Davie Pypers retreated for prayer and fasting before his encounter with Ahmed Deedat on 13 August, 1961. The devil had to pull out all the stops, using the building of the wall in Berlin the same day to draw the attention of the world on the threat of another world war. Furthermore, reactionary elements in his denomination attempted to side-line him.
Next to Davie Pypers at the Cape, who had been fighting a rather lonely battle, Brother Andrew belonged to the advance guard for prayer against the ideology represented by Islam, accompanied by a love for Muslims, as people for whom Jesus died. Brother Andrew received an early challenge along these lines when he was invited to accompany two Americans to Saudi Arabia in the 1970s.
The next major round had its origins in the Lausanne Convention in 1974, the brainchild of the spiritual giant Dr Billy Graham. The conference in Lausanne was organized from an evangelical base. A direct result of the convention was a conference of missionaries to Muslims from all over the world in Glen Eerie (USA) in 1978.
Marius Baar, a German author, reacted to the Islamic revival that was initiated by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. After the oil crisis of 1973, the Arab states were swimming in money. Baar saw the West in crisis, and wrote his book Das Abendland am Scheideweg (The West at the Crossroads). The book was intended as an effort towards an exposition of eschatological prophecy. An interesting aspect of this work is the discussion on the meta-historical role of oil money. Baar foresaw that revenue from oil - in the Bible the image of the Holy Spirit - would be used to expand Islam. Looking back over the last two and a half decades, this was definitely the case in Africa, with Libya playing a prominent role.
A new wave of prayer against the ideology of Islam started in February 1987 when David Montague challenged those involved with the preparations for the conference to be held later that year in the Dutch town of Zeist. Potential participants were requested to ‘bathe the entire event in prayer’. It was emphasized that ‘... a significant part of the conference will be prayer for the Muslim World and each other’.

Islam recognised as a vassal of the enemy
That Islam was another vassal of the enemy of the Cross became only generally recognised after 1990, after the Berlin Wall had been demolished. In the meantime, the main opposition to the apartheid regime, the banned ANC, was linked very closely to Moscow, after the Western nations had failed to give concrete support. No church leader with credibility among the oppressed of the country dared to warn the leaders of the ANC against the dangers of getting into an unholy alliance with the atheistic world power. The demise of Communism after 1990 got South Africa off the hook. The country was saved the humiliation and misery which so many countries had to go through after they had joined the communist block.
The German missionary couple Gerhard and Hannelore Nehls had to stop their work in Johannesburg with the Bible Band due to health reasons. When they saw Bo-Kaap at the beginning of 1975 the first time, it immediately called forth a resonance in their hearts. Soon the focus of their ministry changed, although they were formally still missionaries of the Bible Band. That surely was an answer to the faithful intercessors in England who had prayed for decades for the 'Cape Malays' among whom at that point in time very little was done in terms of loving outreach.
The year 1987 can be seen as one of major spiritual warfare between Islam and Christianity. The counterpart of the conference in Zeist (Holland) was the Islamic event in Abuja (Nigeria), which strategised to take control of the Black continent. But the Holy Spirit was also clearly at work. Various world leaders in the prayer movement were divinely called to this ministry in that year. Bennie Mostert (a Namibian Dutch Reformed minister) was challenged to become a missionary to South Africa. Gerda Leithgöb in Pretoria and others were divinely called at this time into intensified prayer.
Gerhard Nehls became God’s instrument for the recruitment of a string of German and Swiss missionaries. These Christian workers made little impact, but they kept alive the consciences of those churches that did not get on the inter-faith bandwagon with regard to their missionary duty to the Cape Muslims. A major contribution by Nehls was that he linked up his agency Life Challenge with other missionaries working among Muslims in other parts of the country. John Gilchrist (Jesus to the Muslims) and Fred Nel (Eternal Outreach) joined forces with Nehls in 1982 under the umbrella of CCM (Christian Concern for Muslims). They later held annual conferences for all co-workers, in addition to a leadership consultation once a year. Significantly, one of the founder members was Gloria Cube, a Xhosa-speaking female, who started Muslim outreach in Bo-Kaap as preparation for missionary work with Africa Evangelical Fellowship.
Life Challenge and the initiative from the Dutch Reformed Church seemed to co-operate quite well, especially while Ds Chris Greyling was still the Sendingkerk man. Neville Truter became a follower of Jesus and later a co-worker from Dutch Reformed Church ranks after he was touched by a tract that was given to him by Gerhard Nehls when he sold his car to the German missionary in 1976.

Prayer used in Evangelism to Jews and Cape Muslims
From oral reports of Life Challenge workers of yesteryear like Neville Truter, who later became an SIM associate missionary, the work was accompanied from the start by an emphasis on prayer. For many years Muslim outreach at the Cape and SIM Life Challenge were almost synonymous. The mission continued with an annual prayer initiative during Ramadan when they usually stopped their actual door-to door weekly outreach for that month.
WEC International missionaries, who came to the Cape in 1992, likewise endeavoured to emphasize prayer, undertaking prayer walks in Bo-Kaap, Woodstock, Walmer Estate and Salt River. At the Cape Town Baptist Church a few believers, including Hendrina van der Merwe, prayed at the church when outreach groups would go to Muslim areas like Bo-Kaap, Walmer Estate and Woodstock.
Prayer walks by the author and his wife resulted in a fortnightly prayer meeting in the home of Cecilia Abrahams, the widow of a Muslim background believer from Wale Street in Bo-Kaap. The former Muslim husband of Cecilia had been in a backslidden state spiritually, but he came back to the Lord just prior to his death. Regular prayer meetings focused on the prime Muslim stronghold of Bo-Kaap. The weekly Friday lunch hour prayer meeting that was started in September 1992, became the catalyst for many evangelistic initiatives.
The Bo-Kaap prayer in the Abrahams’ home in Wale Street was later changed to a monthly meeting, making room for a prayer event where intercession for the Middle East was the focus. The new monthly meeting - at the author's home in Vredehoek - also included prayer for the Jews, those in Israel as well as those in Cape Town. The catalyst of the Jewish part of the prayer meeting in Vredehoek was Elizabeth Robertson, whom God used to stir the Jews of Sea Point in 1990. She had been confronted at that time with a very difficult choice when she was about to convert to Judaism, in preparation for her marriage to an Israeli national. Her autobiography The Choice impacted Cape Jewry when it was published in 2003. In the same year it was read on the programme Story Teller via CCFM radio.
A sad feature of all these prayer meetings was a general lack of interest by local believers. An when some interest was chosen, the attendance was all too often limited to a single visit.

The '10/40 window' in the spotlight
Prayer journeys to Muslim countries followed after 1991. The 30-day Muslim prayer focus started in 1992 where Christians, on a global level, prayed through the 30 days of Ramadan for breakthroughs among the Muslim peoples of the world. In 1992 about 200 000 people prayed. Increased intercession for the Muslim world has taken place during Ramadan since 1993 when the 30-Day Muslim Prayer Focus booklets were distributed globally. Bennie Mostert became God’s instrument when he organized the annual distribution of thousands of prayer booklets in English and Afrikaans since 1994 in South Africa. The booklets were intended for intercession during Ramadan for Islamic countries and Muslim people groups.
Thousands of Muslims, Hindu’s and Buddhists in the '10/40 window' have come to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour in the last few years as a result of the application of spiritual warfare in different parts of the world. Conversions have often been preceded or accompanied by supernatural manifestations like visions, dreams and miracles of healing. More and more the dubious roots of Islam, Hinduism and Freemasonry have been exposed. In the case of Islam, scholars like Sales, Foster, Pfander and Arnold had already done this in the 18th and 19th century, although their efforts did not receive much recognition.
Colonel Muhammed Khaddafi, the Libyan State President, was one of the first to propagate the islamization of the African continent. According to a newspaper report of 9 September 1978, he stated this clearly. It has special significance in the light of an Islamic conference held in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, in October 1995, where it was verbalized that Africa was to be Islamized by the end of the 20th century. This was to include a major move to utilize the South African infrastructure. It is not surprising that these tones came from Tripoli. In the spiritual realm it was therefore surely meaningful when Colonel Khaddafi invited his national television crew to record a Christian praying for him and his country in 1998. He ordered these prayers to be screened daily for a month. The friendship of former president Nelson Mandela to Colonel Khaddafi may still set the scene for Libya to become (one of) the first Arab country(ies) to become open for entry by emissaries of the Gospel. The impact of the Global Days of Prayer since 15 May 2005 and other similar events are poised to have an impact.
Without achieving significant initial results, the joining of hands by missionaries from different organisations under the umbrella of CCM (Christian Concern for Muslims), represented a major breakthrough in the spiritual realm. The run-up to the Gulf War spawned the call of Open Doors in 1990 for ten years of prayer for the Muslim World. Prayer journeys to Muslim countries followed and increased intercession during Ramadan since 1993 when the first booklets, the 30 day Muslim Prayer Focus were distributed. Thousands of Muslims, Hindu’s and Buddhists in the 10/40 window have come to believe in Jesus the last few years as a result of the application of spiritual warfare in different parts of the world. Their conversions have often been preceded or accompanied by supernatural manifestations like visions, dreams and miracles of healing.
Conversions from Islam also increased dramatically in South Africa since Ramadan 1994. The catalyst was an increase of prayer, stimulated by Bennie Mostert of Operation Mobilisation through NUPSA (Network of Prayer in Southern Africa) and Gerda Leithgöb from Herald Ministries. A prayer meeting in October 1994 by a few Christians at the Kramat of Sheikh Yusuf, the founder of Islam in South Africa, represented a spiritual onslaught of significance. Hereafter a new brand of convert from Islam came on the scene, those who were bold and willing to suffer ostracism and persecution for their faith in Jesus. A booklet ‘Search for Truth’ telling some of the stories, assisted to give Islam at the Cape a shake. The arch enemy tried to hit back through PAGAD, an organisation which purported to fight drugs. However, some of its adherents and even leaders were still drug addicts themselves. For months the drug and gangster war kept the city in suspense. Violence, rape and gangsterism sky-rocketed in this period.
Also in other countries thousands of Muslims started turning to Christ in 1998. In Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country, the burning of more than 400 churches seemed to call forth the wrath of God in a clear way. In a matter of months the country which had been a blooming economy, faced mass starvation. With a voluntary 40 day fast till the beginning of August 1998, the Christians - who had been harshly persecuted, spectacularly practised Christ’s teaching as they shared their food with the starving Muslims. Thousands turned to Christ in the wake of the major upheaval. The answer to the 10 years of prayer - for the Wall of Islam to crumble, started to surface, although not as spectacular and evident as was the case with the Iron Curtain. Satan hit back with an increase of Islamism, an extremist and violent manifestation of the religion, using the literal interpretation of Jihad and its expression, notably through Al Queda. The most spectacular in this regard was the 11 September 2001display in New York.

A National Day of Prayer and its local backlash
In October 1995 the Sunday Times published a report about the Islamic conference held in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. There it was vocalized that Africa was to be Islamized by the end of the 20th century, making use of the South African infrastructure. The precedent of making the country ungovernable – fairly successfully used in the 1990s to bring the apartheid government to the negotiating table - was to be repeated. The Western Cape, with its favourable infrastructure plus the presence of well over a quarter of a million Muslims, was intended to be the springboard from the south. The attempt was frustrated by the 30 Days of prayer during the first term of 1996 and a National Day of Prayer.
The 1996 national day of prayer with the theme “Healing the Land” was preceded by the fifth national 40-day fast in which some 100 000 people participated. The culmination of this fast was a national assembly in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where about 20 000 people gathered. Countrywide, Christians were challenged to fast and pray in the 40-day period leading up to the National Day of Prayer on July 7, 1996. All in all, seven national fasts were completed in the decade from 1990 to 1999. Then God broadened the focus to include the continent. Satan was sure to respond in some way.
In the Western Cape, the initial resultant Satanic backlash was traumatic, with the eruption of a near Lebanon-type scenario after People against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) started terrorizing the Mother City on 4 August 1996. On that day, Rashaad Staggie, a drug lord, was publicly executed by burning. In the long run however, this event played an important role in the start of the demise of Islam as a religious stronghold. It later became clear that this was part and parcel of the Islamic strategy to Islamise the continent.

Islam impacted from the Cape
Mark Gabriel, a former shaykh and academic from Al Azhar University in Egypt, came to Muizenberg to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) there. He had to flee his home country, after he had decided to become a follower of Jesus. Also in Johannesburg there had been attempts to assassinate him.
Mark Gabriel’s presence at the Cape was not without hiccups. When copies of Against the Tide in the Middle East, Mark’s testimony became known to Maulana Sulaiman Petersen, a leading Cape Muslim, Mark’s life appeared to be in danger yet again. It was indeed unwise of Mark to include a comparison of Muhammad and Jesus in his booklet. He intimated in the monograph that Muhammad was inspired by the devil. We had another Salman Rushdie case on our hands; he had to be hidden.
The killing of Rashaad Staggie by PAGAD was the next major stimulus for prayer. It brought personal relief to Christian workers, because in the resulting turmoil the fundamentalist Muslims apparently forgot to hunt further for Mark Gabriel!
After seeing the execution of Rashaad Staggie on television, Mark Gabriel got highly motivated to research jihad in Islamic works. This culminated in a book with the title Terrorism and Islam, published only a few months after 11 September 2001. The book became a best seller in America and was subsequently translated into more than twelve other languages.
A major move to impact Islam received its impetus at the Global Consultation for World Evangelisation (GCOWE) in Pretoria in 1997. The Directress of Cape Community FM, Avril Thomas, was challenged there to use her Christian radio station more to reach the prime unreached group of South Africa. She approached a Capetonian missionary couple who now set out on a plan of action. A one-off series on biblical figures which occur in the Bile, Talmud and Qur’an was followed by a regular weekly 15 minute programme using two converts from Islam, Ayesha Hunter and Salama Temmers. The scripts for the programme were written by Gill Knaggs, a missionary linked to the organisation YWAM (Youth with a Mission). The essentially women’s programme of Life Issues on a Thursday morning turned out to be a winner and the catalyst for Muslims turning to Jesus like never before.
The monthly booklet Jericho Walls has been featuring breakthroughs in the Islamic world, which obviously encouraged more prayer. A call for 40 days of prayer and fasting - from April 12 to 21 May 1998 turned out to be a watershed with regard to Islam in the Mother City. At a prayer meeting on the Grand Parade on 19 April 1998 at which a few hundred Christians from different church, racial and cultural backgrounds came together, augured well for the future.
The meeting itself had to be toned down to a low-key affair after bomb threats. The invitation to the mass prayer meeting had included the unfortunate wording: ‘Prayer for ...Islam and other ungodly practices’. Understandably, this enraged the Muslims. At the meeting itself, a unity in Christ which had hitherto been a rare commodity in Cape Town, reflected very well the demographics of the city. Confession and a humbling before the Lord marked the meeting.
PAGAD’s actions, including the bombing of a police station in Bellville on 6 August, 1998 - which almost coincided with bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam the next day, was bound to create even more insecurity in the Cape Muslim community. After the bombing of the Planet Hollywood Restaurant shortly hereafter, nobody could be proud to be a Muslim after this. It seemed to be only a matter of time till Cape Islam will be on its last legs yet again. A general questioning started to set in.

Crippling Western Rationalism
There remained just one snag. Arrogant Western rationalism, which has effectively crippled the evangelism of Muslims over the centuries, could still turn out to be the Achilles heel of the movement to Christ. The indifference towards the Arabs - which may initially have been caused by the military successes of Muhammad and his successes - had already been the reason why the Bible was not available in Arabic even many centuries after the beginnings of Islam. The attitude towards the religion was until fairly recently basically one of condescension. (In the wake of the rise of the New Age Movement, Islam is now seen by many as an equal religion. The theological fallacy is rife that Allah of the Qur’an is completely identical with Yahweh of the Bible.)
Typical of the Western arrogance has been the view on Muhammad, the founder of the religion. Those who knew a little bit of Islam opportunistically deemed it fit to refer to his many wives very quickly. But even scholars who were well disposed to the religion fell into the trap of applying Western academic rationale - which leaves little or no room for things which are not tangible. Thus the call of Muhammad to prophecy was often referred to as to be taken with a pinch of salt. But even here the exception to the rule of negative writing about this event, the Scandinavian theologian, Tor Andrae, did not rise above the ordinary Western condescending academic views, although he conceded: The conception of a spirit which literally pounces upon the inspired man, throwing him to the ground and conquering his human obstinacy, is found among various peoples.
Andrae relativised Muhammad’s call: Considered from the psychological standpoint, of course, the experience in the cave on Mt. Hira seems plausible enough. In similar vein, the report of the Syrian monk who discerned the seal of prophethood on the youthful 12 year old Muhammad, is often condescendingly regarded as legendary. The indications do point to the monk having been someone who dabbled in the occult, passing this example to the youthful Muhammad. Not surprisingly, few Westerner took the trouble to take a closer look at the figure which Muhammad thought to be Gabriel.
My personal view is that God could have used the gifted Arabian mightily, but the enemy of souls, helped by the ignorance and indifference of Christians, hijacked all this. Islamic tradition - or any other material about the life of Muhammad - does not give us enough information about what happened prior to his first encounter with the supernatural figure in the cave. It is difficult to accept that God could have allowed such a potentially choice servant to be misled just like that, especially as he is generally regarded to have been a true seeker. There are a few possible explanations. One of them could be that Muhammad possibly heard the Gospel in a clear way, but responded negatively to it. He is not the only historical figure that got on a completely different track (see below). In stead, he possibly opened himself to the occult, misled by the Syrian monk Bahira. Another one is related - what Floyd McClung called the Saul syndrome, that he was rebellious and disobedient. One tenet is recorded is Islamic literature, namely that he did not heed Waraqah's warning with regard to the black stone of the Ka'ba, that it could not hear or see.
For his environs Muhammad’s experiences would have been quite normal. Even to-day, for example in West Africa and Melanasia, the strong convulsions of prospective priests are taken as proof of their possession of a spirit.
Even the major tenet of biblical Christianity, the resurrection of our Lord - suffered under rationalism. Whereas Luther still reckoned with the real presence of the devil, Wolfgang Goethe had Faust say, referring to the two disciples en route to Emmaus: “They are celebrating the resurrection of the Lord, for they themselves are resurrected”. This is typical language along the lines of the demythologizing of Rudolf Bultmann and the so-called higher criticism of other theologians. The Islamic counterparts loved to latch on to notions like these.
A biblical comparison is Cornelius who can easily be prepared to the staunch Muslim, or any true seeker after God. In Acts 10: 4 one reads: ‘The angel answered: Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’ This is the confirmation of the way God looks at things as 1 Sam 16:22 states, that God is delighted more in obedience than in burnt offerings and sacrifices. God looks at the heart. Simultaneously, Peter’s heart was prepared by God to step down from his view of Gentiles. Thrice he objected to the unclean animals which he was required to eat in the vision. Only hereafter he was obedient to ‘go downstairs’, to step down from his condescending look on non-Jews. That is the other side of the coin. One wonders whether there were perhaps Christians disobedient to go and tell Muhammad the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We do know of at least one other tragedy in history where a lot of spiritual warfare was needed to rectify the situation. Karl Marx, from Jewish stock, was estranged from the Christian faith by the behaviour of church people. He generalised spiritual matters hereafter, saying that religion is the opium of the people. He nevertheless gave an accurate analysis of capitalism, which he regarded as a product of Christianity. We all know that capitalism is a caricature of Biblical faith. Communism/ Socialism is a poor copy of the voluntary sharing of the early Christian community. Seven years of prayer preceded the demise of Communism. Similarly, Muhammad experienced a Christianity which was devoid of the essence of a living faith in Jesus. In the case of the early Cape history, there is at least one instance where God overruled. The three Genadendal missionaries who arrived in 1792 - Christian Kühnel, Hendrik Marsveld and Daniel Schwinn - recorded the instance of a man who dreamt that three men would come to teach them. ‘They (the Khoi) say that they spoke about it often because they very much wished for it to happen’ In the diaries of these three missionaries one reads again and again of Khoi coming to them, desiring to know more, wanting to accept the Lord into their lives and wishing to be baptized. Evidently the Holy Spirit had prepared these people. On a daily basis the Genadendal missionaries were overwhelmed by questions such as ‘What must I do to be saved?’ It is striking that those who came to faith in Christ also sought protection against satanic forces. The Holy Spirit, for example through dreams and visions, prepared the Khoi. However, the rational European missionaries were not ready for that. Thus the Moravian Johann P. Kohrhammer complained condescendingly in 1799: ‘The Hottentots are great dreamers and we have much trouble to direct their minds from many deep-seated prejudices, that they have imbibed concerning the interpretation of dreams and visions.’

A closer look at the Qur’anic Gabriel
Even a superficial look at the Qur’anic Jibril will show that he is not identical with the angel Gabriel in the Bible. The problem of course was that rational Western theologians had difficulties handling the biblical reports of angels. The figure of Gabriel occurs in the Bible by name only in two books vs. Luke and Daniel. In Luke1:19ff the angel makes Zechariah dumb when he doubted that his aged wife would become pregnant and then Gabriel brings the good news to the virgin Mary of the birth of a son (Luke 1:26-38). In Daniel 8:17 and 9:22 the angel respectively came to let him ‘understand that the vision concerns the time of the end’ and ‘to give you insight and understanding’.
For a good comparison with the Qur’anic Gabriel we should also look at a few other appropriate instances where angels appeared to individuals. Let’s first take a closer look at the first Lukan report. The angel introduces himself with the words ‘I am Gabriel’, which is exactly what happened with Muhammad on Mount Hira with the addition: ... thou art Allah’s apostle. This should make us wary in respect of the nature of the Qur’anic Gabriel. It is strange that rank and file Western theologians have easily discerned that the angel Maroni which appeared to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, could never have been divine, but that so many have been deceived just because the supernatural figure introduced himself with a name which occurs in the Bible.
In both reports of Luke there is awe on the part of Zechariah and Mary: ‘When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear... Mary was greatly troubled.’ The general sphere radiated by the angelic messages is one of expectation. Nevertheless, the result of the biblical angelic message was joy. In the two Lukan reports they led to birth, to life.
The circumstances around the call of Muhammad, who had been going to the cave regularly for prayer and meditation as he followed the pattern of the monks and hermits - are completely different. That Gabriel ‘choked me with a cloth until I believed that I should die’ has no biblical precedent. Muhammad had convulsions and depression after his meetings with Gabriel, often leading to suicidal traits. These are in stark contrast to the angelic appearances in the Bible. One macabre parallel is that the Gabriel who appeared to Muhammad repeated the harsh treatment with the cloth thrice. The angelic figure which had to convince Peter in his vision of the large sheet with unclean animals that he had to look differently to the ‘unclean’ gentiles (Acts 10:9ff) also had to challenge him thrice and the divine voice which spoke to Samuel calling him into Yahweh’s service also came three times.
That the enemy of souls emulate God’s sovereign work can be found in scripture in many other ways. Muhammad reported that Gabriel would visit him, telling him things ‘as though one man was speaking to another’. One is reminded of how God would ‘speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to a friend’ (Exodus 33:11). No wonder that Muslims thought that Muhammad was the prophet like Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18:18. A closer look at the context of that verse makes it clear however that Muhammad does not fill the bill. (In stead, only Jesus could be that Messianic personality.) But Muhammad’s own words make it clear what the true nature was of the figure which spoke to him. It is strange that he could never remember the content of these personal altercations. However, when the revelation came to him ‘with the noise of a bell, so that my heart is confused’, the opposite happens. ‘What is revealed to me in this way, never leaves me’.
One other comparison in the way the Qur’anic Gabriel appeared should suffice at this stage. According to a narrative the particular revelation came when ‘the Apostle of Allah ...was riding upon a camel. The animal groaned, and its legs slipped sideways, so that I expected it to collapse under the weight of the revelation.’ The only parallel in the Bible is when the prophet Balaam was disobedient. ‘God was very angry when he went’. The donkey, on which Balaam rode, refused to move on when he was stopped by the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a sword in his hand. Some cruelty to animals ensued, but all this because of the disobedience of the prophet. Similarly, those who were supernaturally struck to the ground in the Bible were opponents of the Cross, opposing God’s plans. This happened to the soldiers who wanted to arrest Jesus (John 18:6), to Paul on his road to Damascus at a time when he was killing Christians at random (Acts 9:4).
In short, we should also compare the content of the revelations of the biblical Gabriel with the Qur’anic one. The starkest difference is found in the good news given to Mary with exactly the opposite as it is found in the Qur’an with regard to Jesus as the Son of God. In Luke 1:35 ‘the holy one to be borne will be called the Son of God’. In the Qur’an - albeit always in protest against the concept of a literal son born out of a physical relationship between Mary and God - the Qur’an repeats again and again: God does not have a son, God does not beget etc. The other major contradiction of the Qur’anic message concerns the central message of the Bible, the covenant of God with Abraham. This culminates in the new covenant, which Jesus called the covenant of His blood when he introduced the tradition, which became known as the Lord’s Supper. The 'New Testament' understands the near sacrifice as a precursor to Calvary where God gave his unique Son as the way to salvation, as a type of cross and resurrection.
In the Qur’anic equivalent of Genesis 22 there is no semblance of salvation history. In other reports of Abraham in the Qur’an only his monotheism is stressed - he was a hanif, not a Christian nor a Jew. The sinister but consistent denial of the death on the cross and Jesus’ resurrection in the final review of the Qur’anic Jibril, makes it absolutely clear that he could not have been sent by the Father of our Lord Jesus.

Tactics of the enemy Paul, the apostle deemed it necessary for followers of Jesus not to be ignorant of the enemys devices. It seems appropriate to summarize the tactics of the enemy at this stage:
1) Sowing disunity, especially through lies and deception. The arch enemy is the father of the lie right from the beginning (John 8:44). To lie is central to his character. 2) Side-tracking the believers, (giving them wrong priorities, for example good even brilliant ideas, which are not God-ordained ideas) 3) Ambition and pride were the factors leading to the fall of Lucifer, who originally had been an archangel. It belonged to his character to inspire Adam and Eve to become like God. We should not be surprised if the enemy tries to use it even in our own hearts. 4) Imitation likewise belongs to his character. The first creative act of God was to say: ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Satan disguises himself all too often as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Note that as Moses and Joseph are types of Jesus, there are also types of the Antichrist like Haman in the book Esther as well as King Jeroboam (Compare 1 Kings 12 and 13, to see how Jeroboam did quite a few things which we also find with Muhammad.) In pagan religions one also finds signs and wonders which resemble those performed in the name of Jesus. Sometimes even the name of Jesus is abused, for example for monetary gain, notably in the Universal Church. Many issues in Islam and in church doctrine come very near to the truth. We should always pray for discernment to see whether the Spirit and character of Jesus are also displayed.
5) Imbalances are part of his armour. Sometimes the dividing line between excitement and fanaticism is very thin. We must also pray for discernment in our actions, for example to ‘stop ploughing’ when the ground is ready for the seed. We could still be sending prayer batteries, when the time has already arrived for the troops to move in. Only intense prayer will make the deciding line clear.
6) We should beware of giving too much honour to the enemy than he deserves. (He is only a roaring lion, his teeth have been extracted on the cross of Calvary! He is only a buzzing bee whose sting has struck the Son of God).
7) The arch enemy can send angels (messengers, apostles), sometimes in a sly way like light (2 Corinthians 11:14), Lucifer is derived from lux which means light), even by giving them a biblical name like Gabriel, Jesus or Paul (Compare Galatians 1:8,9) - and at other times as a thorn in the flesh to torment us (2 Corinthians 12:7). The moon is like Lucifer, a carrier and a reflector of light. Jesus is the sun of righteousness, the real light of the world. Note that Ramadan starts and ends with new moon. Some satanic rituals are held when the moon is full.
8) Satan likes to use believers to stab other Christians in the back, sometimes with the sword of the Spirit, with the Bible and with pious words. This hurts most because we are intended to support the fighters in front of us. We must pray that the enemy may not abuse us in this way. That is why the apostles Paul (Romans 3:13), 1 Peter 3:10 and especially James (1:26; 3:5ff) stress the proper use of the tongue, that little organ being used profusely by the enemy to create havoc. Make sure that the information, which you pass on, is correct.
9) He loves to accuse believers, for example of their old life before their conversion (George Verwer suggests: If the devil accuses you of your past, remind him of his future!) Accuser of the brethren is one of the titles of satan in the Bible.
10) He loves to instil in us false pride and a search for acknowledgement and affirmation. These carnal traits inhibit spiritual growth. As a child of God and a follower of the King of Kings the believer in Christ is in principle a prince/princess. Fear of man and attempts to please others merely all too often create problems. Absent fathers and irresponsible fathering of children made the Father heart of God an anomaly worldwide. The orphan spirit which disguises this is not only present in Islam, where it is perhaps most evident.
11) Satan Has always used Judases to frustrate believers and to cause disunity. Let us keep in mind that Jesus still called him ‘friend’ and accepting his kiss, although he knew of his wicked schemes.
We note that all the weapons mentioned in Ephesians 6 are intended to fight the enemy from the front, although the actual battle is basically defensive. The spiritual weapons of the Christian soldier are not intended for back biting. Doing something negative and sinister behind the back of someone else belongs to the works of the darkness. Ultimately the believer has to take his authority in Christ and stand his ground.

Reservations about doubtful practices
It would be irresponsible not to mention some reservations with regard to spiritual warfare, even though it does not fit very logically in this treatise. As in normal warfare, the enemy will surely try to infiltrate God’s camp. If he can blunt the weapons, he won’t hesitate for one moment. There are certain practices with very scanty biblical precedents, which are sometimes regarded as part of the modern Christian’s armour. It is better to play safe by sticking to the parts of the armour, which have a clear biblical mandate.
Practices associated with the ‘Toronto Blessing’ should be specifically highlighted. I do not suggest that these practices are demonic per se. Laughing and being drunk in the Spirit are ‘weapons’ which are not biblically covered sufficiently, even though the latter tenet could be read into the situation at Pentecost (Acts 2:15). In times of revival these things did occur. Jonathan Edwards for example reported of inexplicable excessive laughing in the first North American awakening.
Being slain in the Spirit has some biblical question marks around it. An element of manipulation surrounds it if people are whipped up, for example when those who are prayed for are required to close their eyes first or when they are pushed. That the enemy could have a hand in this practice is quite possible. One reads about biblical personalities falling forwards in prostration and not backwards as is the normal practice in some church services. The enemies of Jesus, those who wanted to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane, fell backwards (John 18:6). On the other hand, in different parts of the world people have been powerfully converted and blessed after being slain in the Spirit.
What became known as strategic-level spiritual warfare in the 1990s went overboard in drawing undue attention to demons and territorial spirits. There is however only a very scanty biblical basis for territorial spirits. Daniel 10 does suggest their reality and Islam is surely not completely off the mark in paying so much attention to jinn, (evil spirits). Animal noises and other dubious practices which have no biblical foundation, have definitely to be seriously questioned. The fact that they are found in occult and demonic manifestations should really make us very wary of them. Chuck Lowe (Territorial Spirits and World Evangelisation?, 1998:54) draws attention to the fact that an over emphasis of Ephesians 6 in teaching on spiritual warfare often ignores that the pericope relies on the basis laid in the first three chapters of the epistle. There Paul identifies three areas 'where God already decisively defeated the enemy', namely the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. (1:18-2), the conversion of individuals (2:1-6) and the incorporation of Gentiles into the people of God (3:8-11).
Occasionally prayer journeys deteriorate into glorified tourism. If not all participants are committed to prayer this can create a loophole for the enemy. It could influence the moral of the group. If participants have not been involved in prayer at their local church, the exercise usually becomes questionable.

The need of prayer covering for workers
We are thankful that teachers in spiritual warfare have been stressing the need for covering ourselves through prayer. This was vividly illustrated when Dr Kurt Koch, who could be regarded as an expert on the occult in his hey-day, became a victim of the onslaughts of the enemy himself. I am not aware of his significant request for prayer covering or alternatively, that it was done sufficiently. His adultery and falling from grace is not surprising when one considers that Satanists have been fasting and praying for the breaking up of the marriages of Christian leaders. A problem starts when we pay too much attention to the occult in a wrong way, for example by being inquisitive.
Prayer backing is needed when the warriors are engaged in spiritual warfare. The ‘soldiers’ must be careful to cover themselves purposefully. We must endeavour to be constantly covered ‘under the blood’ of Christ, which gives effective defence against the arrows of the enemy. If this is not practised, unnecessary casualties are prone to occur. It is nice to hear about prayer warriors entering a demonic stronghold, but there is also urgent need for people back home to cover them in prayer.
Furthermore, African and Asian Christians who have come from a background in the occult, have given the body important knew insights on things happening in the spiritual realms. Langton Gatsi from Zimbabwe has for instance given important teaching on water spirits. Para-psychology has started to open up rationally minded Westerners to the reality of the unseen world. Christians nowadays reckon more readily with the existence of evil spirits, but it is even better to reckon with the all-conquering power of the blood of Jesus. Thus we may take liberty to move into strongholds of the enemy, but we are also aware that we must guard ourselves against presumption, that we need constant covering in prayer if we do this.

Supernatural powers employed by agents of the enemy
The use of supernatural powers by agents of the enemy is nothing new. Already in Moses’ days the Egyptian magicians initially matched the miracles of Aaron with the snakes (Exodus 7:10-12). Aaron’s snake devoured the snake of the Pharaoh’s magicians. The enemy took the guise of a snake as he deceived Eva. Paul rightly pointed out that Satan is powerful enough to disguise himself in a very pious way, even as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). In spite of his warning - to check the content of the message given by angelic figures (Galatians 1:8, 9) - millions have been deceived such as ‘the saints of the latter days’ (the Mormons), whose doctrine is based on the messages which the ‘angel’ Maroni brought to Joseph Smith.
The most tragic personality in this regard has been Muhammad, the generally perceived founder of Islam, himself. He evidently foresaw that the Qur’an itself would be compiled after his time. Muhammad wanted the Qur’anic material compared against the Bible (Surah 4:82, 83). He knew that Satan could try and infiltrate - that was the background of the controversy around the satanic verses with the compromise inclusion of three daughter gods of Allah at the Ka’ba. Unfortunately Muhammad was not assisted to doubt the originator of the revelations. Khadiyah found it evidently very nice to have a prophet as husband and it seems as if Waraqah bin Naufal was primarily interested to groom the gifted Muhammad as his successor in the Ebionite Christian community.
The 'NT' sees spiritual warfare as the continuation of God’s work through the seed of Abraham, especially by the spiritual offspring through faith in Jesus, our commander-in-chief. We have a Messianic prophecy on our side. Ultimately the seed of the woman will crush the seed of the snake (Genesis 3:15). Numbers 21:4ff - where Moses had to put an image of a snake on a pole, is therefore so important as the paradigm of the Cross. No wonder that Jesus used that as an example in the run-up to John 3:16.

The Role of Women in (spiritual) Warfare
It is furthermore remarkable to note what role the Bible ascribes to women in (spiritual) warfare. Deborah - and a married one to boot - stepped in as a judge when the Israelites were in disarray. Women were a part of Jesus’ missionary team (Luke 8:1-3) and the Master used a female with low morals as the advance guard to bring in the harvest from the Samaritans (John 4). Both Luke and John record women as the breakers and bearers of the good news of the resurrected Lord. According to Joachim Jeremias, a prominent German scholar, Jesus was the first Jewish rabbi to accept woman disciples. We note that the Greek word for disciple, mathetes, could be translated as scholar, but not in the academic sense. Mary of Bethany was very much a scholar, a listener (Luke 10:38ff), as she sat at Jesus’ feet -praised by Jesus. Martha’s activism was given no support by the Master.
It is good to remind ourselves that in these teachings Jesus was merely highlighting divine principles which had already been given at the time of creation. In Genesis 5:1,2 the equality of male and female was enshrined in the summary: ‘God created...male and female and blessed them. And when they were created he called them ‘man’. We note that these lines were recorded in a society in which a woman had nothing to say. Bill Musk, a keen observer of the Middle East, summarised it so pointedly: ‘ many of his words and acts, the creator God showed himself dissatisfied with a world view in which women (and others) were so dehumanised.’ Musk furthermore shows how incidences in the Hebrew Scriptures are spotlighted where God was ‘trying to retrieve some sense of equality and dignity for the female part of his human creation.’ Musk continues to mention some of these discriminated groups: widows, wives accused of adultery and non-inheriting daughters. The 'New Testament' also has some radical stuff in this regard. Women, who would normally have been regarded as second-rate or even as outcasts by their society, get prominent roles. We find three of them highlighted in the genealogy of Jesus according to St Matthew’s Gospel. Furthermore, John 20 puts Mary Magdalene, the former demon-possessed prostitute, in the spotlight as the first evangelist of the resurrection of Jesus.

The Practical Ways of Women
Women have often excelled in practical ways when the chips were down. When protest (pro-test) was needed in the best sense of the word - i.e. derived from pro-testare, a positive testimony - women were there to be counted. Because females are by nature communicators - albeit sometimes chatterboxes - they are quick to discuss ways to offset the most daunting attacks from the enemy. Among the best examples that we have in the Hebrew Scriptures there were the two Hebrew midwives at the time of Moses ‘birth - and especially his courageous mother Jochebed - who defied the might of the Pharaoh through their actions. They showed by their actions that they resisted the taking of innocent lives. And years before them there were Sarah and Rebeccah. That the former of the two was quickly ready for a compromise is not so positive but that she communicated with her husband is still a good example to many a married couple. The scheming and favouritism of Rebeccah were not laudable, but that she had fantasy to meet a challenge, cannot be flawed.
In modern times the Dutch ladies Corrie ten Boom and her late sister Betsy were persecuted by the Nazis in the Ravensbrück concentration camp because of their family’s support for Jews They had a deep insight and a sense for spiritual warfare when the church at large was still sleeping. They discerned forgiveness as an important prerequisite for reconciliation. Cindy Jacobs from the USA and our own Gerda Leithgöb are contemporary experts on spiritual warfare, confounding the idea which is still prevalent among some evangelicals - misguided by a one-sided interpretation of Paul - that women have little to contribute in terms of leadership.
Examples of yesteryear are Coretta Scott King who all but took over the mantle in the civil rights struggle after the death of her husband Martin Luther King in the USA in 1968 and in the 1970’s there was the stalwart work for reconciliation in Northern Ireland led by women under the inspired leadership of Betty Williams. We should also be reminded of the Catholic nuns who defied the might of President Marcos in the Phillipines. Their courageous action was the start of the demise of the dictator. And here in South Africa it is possibly not so well known that it was the valiant stand of the former nun Celeste Santos Roberts and Nomangezi, her fighter colleague from Crossroads/Nyanga (Cape Town) which got the ball rolling in the autumn and winter of 1981. Their actions - combined with the contacts of Celeste Robert’s husband Rommel to the Cape Argus to see the saga published on a daily basis - resulted in Bishop Desmond Tutu retreating into a time of prayer and fasting. Together these women worked alongside the ‘íllegal women’ of Crossroads to inflict the apartheid machine possibly its first defeat. The move into St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town was strategic. Thus the churches were forced to get out of their lethargy and indifference. If the team had more knowledge of spiritual warfare, their victories might even have been greater.
It is appropriate to note at this point that the Qur’an is surprisingly progressive in this regard. The life-style of Muhammad might have depicted the Middle Eastern pattern of female subjugation, but there are clear indications that the early medieval Arabian statesman did pick up tenets of the teachings of Nabi Isa whom he held in such high regard. In Surah 9:71 and 3:195 the Qur’an teaches the equality of males and females in fellowship and that they have to be mutually protective of each other. A hadith does speak about wives as twin halves of their husbands. That was surely revolutionary for Muhammad’s society, light years ahead of the presenters of a radio programme on the Reef in October 1997 which gave lessons to husbands on how to discipline their wives. (Dr Farid Esack goes overboard on the other side when he tried to give the impression that the Qur’an and Islam are not discriminatory at all to women. That is not fruitful.)

Indigenous Leadership blocked and stifled
After a distorted interpretation of Scripture had led to worldwide White arrogance and racial pride at the end of the 19th Century, a move for the dignity of people of colour started to take root in District Six, notably at the AME Church in Blythe Street and the Volkskerk in Gray Street. After Jews from Lithuania had joined the fray at the Cape at the end of the 19th century, District Six became truly cosmopolitan with Jews, Muslims and Christians living harmoniously next to each other, and a foretaste of the Rainbow Nation was forged.
The vision of Dr van Lier,Dr van der Kemp and the Moravian Bishop Peter Hallbeck at Genadendal to empower Khoi and slaves for leadership diminished significantly during the 19th century. The gifting of people of colour was simultaneously not appreciated sufficiently. A sad development of the last decades of the 19th century was that this combined with ambition and rebellion by a few ministers of colour who evidently did not understand the nature of the Gospel properly.
Black dislike of Whites was a common characteristic of those ministers who broke away to start their own denominations. It is natural to deduce that they had bad examples of leaders who lorded over them, not allowing their understudies to develop their full potential.
A case in point is Reverend Joseph John Forbes. Starting off as a teacher, he was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1918 at their Buitenkant Street fellowship on the outskirts of District Six. He withdrew from the church owing to differences on the colour question, accepting a call to the Congregational Church soon hereafter. There he did not last long before leaving to start his own church and denomination, the ‘Volkskerk van Afrika’, in Gray Street (District Six) on 14 May, 1922. This visionary had the courage of his conviction to start a denomination for the uplifting of the poor from the Cape to Cairo. That is the reason he gave his church a continental name. His leadership qualities had clearly been overlooked and spurned because thereafter he became one of the greatest church planters at the Cape, starting an orphanage, five schools and congregations as far afield as Kimberley.

Spiritual and ideological Dynamics at the Cape
Let us attempt to give an overview of the spiritual and ideological dynamics at the Cape during the 20th century. Before the formation of the Union in 1910, the bitter fighting between the British and the Afrikaner people in the Boer Wars and their differences were temporarily swept under the carpet while people of colour were effectively side-lined. Efforts of individuals to swim against the stream like W.P. Scheiner and his sister Olive were insufficient, but the Cape at least had people of colour in the Provincial Government and in the City Council.
District Six played a major role in the battle for dignity and suffrage for people of colour with Dr Abdurahman and his African People Organisation (APO), the first political party with continental aspirations for prominent. The Volkskerk was founded there in 1914 by Rev Forbes after his experience of racial prejudice and being lorded over by Whites and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church likewise had its national headquarters there. Ethipia as an independent African country became an ideological model, also for the churches who were sick and tired of White domination. Clement Kadalie started a trade union in 1919 at the Cape Town docks, which soon had a countrywide following, the first union to organise workers of colour. District Six was also the venue of New Era Fellowship (NEF), a Trotzkyist Communist, in which Cissy Gool, the daughter of Dr Abdurahman, was to gain the respect of people across the board in the City Council. Communism was painted in rosy colours. The oppression under Stalin was still in the future.
When the ANC was still weak, it received much of its ideological inspiration from the Non-European Unity Movement, which was also led from District Six. The ANC Freedom Charter of 1955 had a blue print that came from this source.
In the meantime another battle had started to build up. Many Afrikaners, the so-called bittereinders, were not happy to be linked in government with the former enemy although Boer generals Louis Botha, J. M.B. Hertzog and Jan Smuts held important posts in the union cabinet. The Afrikaner Broederbond was founded and inspired from the North to retain the Afrikaner identity, but the feeding ground of the culture and especially the second language movement came from Stellenbosch and Keerom Street in the Mother City where Die Burger and Die Huisgenoot gradually not only put the fledgling Afrikaans language on the map, but helped to restore the dignity of the Afrikaner. The resentment of the British – complimented by a good dose of anti-Semitism, was the unhealthy nourishment of Dr. D.F.Malan, who broke away from fellow Afrikaners the ilk of whom were labelled to be still collaborating with the rooinekke, the British.
These Boer Nationalists developed a special brand of Christianity which was actually a contradiction in terms. Christian Nationalism is a misnomer because per definition to be really Christian means to be non-sectional. In Christ all man-made walls of partitions have been broken down (Ephesians 2:14).
Theologians from Afrikaner ranks started to abuse biblical references for racial oppression, like regardeing all people of colour as the descendents of Ham, who were destined to remain wood choppers and water carriers until eternity. Of course, the South African version was very similar to the German brand of the same unbiblical concept of Aryan racial superiority. The Germans at least left out the term Christian! Hitler soon had National Socialism in disrepute.

Diabolic Alliances
In South Africa the repugnant race ideology was revived under the horrible name of apartheid, with cosmetic terms like separate or parallel development at a later stage. The laws which rolled out of the Parliament in Cape Town after 1948 were as racist and discriminatory against people of colour as one could imagine, worthy successors of Nazi legislation.
In the 1950s Islam at the Cape was struggling, with a significant presence only in District Six and Bo-Kaap. But even here the religion was clearly in the minority, except for the Schotsche Kloof flats and to a lesser extent the original Malay Quarter. Unseen occult forces were nevertheless still at work, notably through the Kramats (shrines), graves of Muslim leaders, at the Tana Baru cemetery at the top of Longmarket Street and on the heights of the Peninsula in the form of a crescent at Robben Island, Oudekraal, Signal Hill, Oranjezicht, Constantia, Simons Town and Macassar on the other side of False Bay. The biblical reference to high places immediately comes to mind. The spiritual dimension is clear when one sees how Islam at the Cape recovered miraculously again and again. The religion, which had originally been based on the deception of Muhammad, their founder, was all but given its death blow at the Cape in 1961. Ahmed Deedat, at that stage a relatively unknown Islamic religious leader, had challenged Ds. Davie Pypers, a Dutch Reformed Clergyman, to a public debate. On this occasion at the Green Point Track on 13 August 1961, Deedat asked for a proof that Jesus was alive. Reverend Pypers, who was well versed in spiritual warfare, was equal to the challenge. He had prepared himself for the day through a retreat into a tent on the mountain with prayer and fasting. When a lame woman from the audience was instantly healed, many Muslims were deeply moved. Islam at the Cape seemed to be walking on its last legs.
Who the real enemy was, should have been evident if the Church at large had an eye for spiritual warfare. What could have been hailed world-wide as a victory for the cross, was dwarfed by news from another part of the world. On that very day - 13th August, 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected and the cold war between the West and the Communist Block was a fact! Hereafter, the devil succeeded to get almost everybody in the West on the bandwagon, suggesting that Communism was the real enemy of the church! When Communism was defeated to all intents and purposes by 1990, Islamism re-entered the scene as a threat to world peace, when Iraq under President Sadam Hussein trying to pull the militarily weak Kuweit into his sphere of influence. This ushered in 10 years of prayer for the breakdown of Islam as an ideology and the liberation of Muslims from religious bondage.

Apartheid revives the ailing Cape Islam
The South African parliament, with its seat in the Mother City, continued with immoral laws and other measures in the apartheid era which were definitely not inspired from heaven. The major boost for ailing Islam in Cape Town came through the Group Areas Act. In 1966 District Six was declared a ‘White’ residential area and all the people of colour had to move. The Christians of Bo-Kaap had to leave. Members of two churches in Bree Street, the DRC St Stephen’s congregation and the St Paul’s Anglican parish, continued to worship there, but the faithful now had to travel from places as far afield as Mitchell’s Plain 30-40 kilometres away.
Muslims from District Six and other places moved into Bo-Kaap. The area below Signal Hill became a significant Muslim stronghold, even more powerful than it had already been. As the Muslims were moving from District Six to the Cape Flats, mosques were built for them all over the Cape Peninsula. The amendment of the Group Areas in 1966 gave struggling Islam at the Cape a new lease of life.
Islam was given much credibility in the 1980s when people like Dullah Omar was there for all to see in the forefront of the struggle with Dr Allan Boesak. The idea was indirectly spread that Islam and (nominal) Christianity were bedfellows. In the Unity Movement of the 1940s and 1950s, and especially in the UDF of the 1980s - the United Democratic Front - there was no eye for the spiritual dimension of the unity of the Body of Christ. Church Ministers marched with leaders from other religions and communists as if this was the most natural thing on earth. The seed of New Age was sown, where the unique crucified and risen Christ disappeared into the background.

Dr Boesak by this time appeared to have left his evangelical roots by and large,, taking the bulk of the ‘Coloured’ section of the DRC with him. Liberation Theology had become their new hall-mark. The denomination is still divided but tentative moves are afoot towards reconciliation. Some White churches have already regained their evangelical position of yesteryear. Of all big denominations, the White DRC is definitely leading the pack in mission endeavour at this point in time.
On the doctrinal and ethical level compromises were made - for example when violence was condoned by some church leaders on the grounds that the apartheid system was also violent and vicious. We are still reaping the seed sown at that time in the form of the on-going violence in our society. The Bible does not speak of unity at all costs, but unity on God’s terms. There is thus indeed much to confess, but that is our hope. Confession in unity is one of the prime ‘weapons’ of spiritual warfare.
But communists and Muslims in the post 1994 government continued to exert disproportionate influence. This became evident in laws on sexual (im)morality and efforts to diminish Christian religious broadcasting.

Immoral laws from Parliament
After the demise of apartheid, the new South African government followed their predecessors with laws which were basically ungodly. The good work done in the fields of housing, supply of drinking water, electricity and general upliftment of the poor, was cancelled by laws which allowed vice to operate like cancer. The subtle encouragement of sexual immorality is there for all to see. Not only historians know that prostitution and homosexuality have been with us for ages. Temple prostitution even gave a sacred option for men who had difficulty to control their sexual urges. Historically however, adherents of all major religions have taught that people do not have an unlimited right to do with their bodies as they please. The Bible and other sacred scriptures give clear condemnation of such practices.
Things changed in the second half of the 20th century. Defenders and practitioners of two discernible and outspoken factions in North America and Europe changed the scene. Acceptance of homosexuality and abortion on demand as new norms are only two concepts which that are now taken for granted, although they defy the unwritten laws of creation. Sexually transmitted diseases as an obvious result of promiscuous behaviour were taken in their stride as medical advances took care of ailments like syphilis and gonorrhoea. That the pandemic HIV-Aids was initially spread by gay men, was much more difficult to handle. But even when this turned to pandemic proportions, the gay lobby in Europe and North America seemed undeterred. Holland became the first country world-wide to legalised same sex marriages. A new law came into force in South Africa on 1 December 2006, the first on the continent. In the fight against AIDS the use of condoms were propagated and distributed free of charge in stead of pointing to premarital abstinence and fidelity in matrimony as a much safer precaution to get infected. Strangely, support for the aberrations also started coming from the ranks of the church. The proud St George’s Cathedral in Wale Street has become a shadow of its illustrious past. It once was the bastion of opposition to racially segregated worship via Archbishop Clayton just before his death and his successor Joost de Blank. The sanctuary became the vehicle of charismatic Christianity into the ranks of mainline churches with Archbishop Bill Burnett and the venue of demonstrations for equal educational opportunities, where White students felt the brunt of police brutality for the first time on June 1972. There Father Russell could protest against the homelands atrocities and from there so-called ‘illegal’ Black women squatters who wanted to be with their husbands, could find refuge - inflicting the first major defeat on the apartheid regime and ushering in a change in the hated pass laws. Not many Anglicans are proud that their cathedral is now the prime venue for annual gay festivals.
By using subtle semantics – such as speaking of ‘decriminalisation’ - it seems only a matter of time till prostitution and (limited) drug peddling will become legal country-wide. Unless the rot is stopped - and this can only be effectively done through spiritual warfare - we may in due course hear about calls for the decriminalisation of paedophilia! The law of easy bail, which have been passed by the new South African government, has helped rape and child abuse to sky-rocket. Gang violence in the Cape townships has become almost uncontrollable through the vicious twin B’s, namely bribe and bail. Brutal murderers are hardly arrested or they are back in society - on bail! Guns are freely available and when some of them are confiscated, the police and the press are quick to herald it with great fan-fare as breakthroughs. We read nowhere of the ‘re-cycling’ of the very same guns, privately sold by bribed policeman to augment their meagre salaries. Corruption in the Department of Home Affairs had become endemic by the turn of the 21st century, threatening the very fibre of the country’s economy. The country is now among the top of the list worldwide in quite a few notorious fields like murder and rape.
The great sin of Laodicea (Rev. 3: 14ff) - of which our era is typical - was not so much that she was lukewarm, but that her eyes were blurred so that she could not see her lukewarmness. The rot will only be stopped through the biblical path of 2 Chronicles 7:14, ‘If we humble ourselves ...’ repent as a nation from our wicked ways, and pray.

5. Suppression of vital Information

The deliberate suppression of vital information has possibly contributed more to the continuous spiritual enslavement of millions than any other factor. Lies and bribes around the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28:12-14) kept Jews in bondage already in the first century. In the Church the masses were deliberately kept ignorant so that clergy could keep power in their hands. Even the Bible was suppressed , supposedly only to be understood by priests. People like William Tyndale and Johan Hus paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth. Scriptures from Jews were burned by Church leaders and believes who dared to translate God's Word into the vernacular could be almost sure to be persecuted – not only in the Middle Ages. Only in the 1960s – on the nudging of people like our very own 'Mr Pentecost' David du Plessis – Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council allowed the Bible to be read in Roman Catholic churches.
Hiding of inconvenient material
It is tragically true that clergy and theologians from all faiths have to be given much of the blame for the deliberate suppression of vital information. In fact, the total result can almost be described as a Satanic conspiracy. Sometimes the suppression was accidental. But the result has been the same – bondage!
Judaism kept inconvenient chapters of the Hebrew Scriptures like Isaiah 53 away from adherents by for example skipping that chapter in the weekly readings from the Prophets. A possible correction could have been the commentary on Isaiah 53 in the prayer manual for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, for the Jewish festive season around the Day of Atonement and their New Year. It is not clear whether this has this been consciously suppressed or is it yet another demonic ploy to keep the information from Jews that there were ancient beliefs of the Messiah to be a suffering servant long before Jesus roamed the earth. I suggest that the two-strain idea of the Messiah - a suffering servant and a ruling, triumphant one - taken by Jews as a contradiction - is such a scheme from the arch enemy. Mark Eastman (1996:120) not only opines that the two Messiah theory was developed in the first or second century C.E. that was subsequently firmly imbedded in the Talmud. He highlights that Messianic prophecy like Genesis 3:15 (the seed of the women) and Deuteronomy 18:15,18 (a prophet) in the Hebrew Bible refer to a single person and that one does not find the use of pronouns like they or theirs. Jewish rabbis and scribes from the pre-Christian era understood it as such. Quoting from the work of Hebrew Scholars Michael Wise and James Tabor in the Biblical Archeological Review of November/December 1992, he also notes that the Qumran text 4Q521'speaks not only of a single Messianic figure ... but it also describes him in extremely exalted terms, quite like the Christian view of Jesus as a cosmic agent... In fact, only once in any Dead Sea Scroll text is the idea of two Messiahs stated unambiguously'. Furthermore, adherents are often deliberately told half truths about Jesus and the Christians. Distortions about Christian doctrine is all too often part of the menue.
In Islam the official version is still going around that the burning of other versions of the Qur'an by the third Khalif, Uthman, was motivated by the skirmishes of the People of the Book, Christians and Jews, about their Scriptures. I am not aware if this version has really been challenged? Is the possibility of discrepancies such a big deal? Why are Muslims (and Jews) strongly discouraged to read the Bible, sometimes even forbidden to do it?
Buying up of written material that contradicts the own position belongs to the standard practice of cults. This is possibly what happened with the disappearance from bookshelves of a little booklet by Bruce Duncan that exposed the diabolic nature of the origins of the New Apostolic Church. South Africa boast a more subtle way, the deliberate distortion of material and lies under Imam Achmat Deedat and his Propagation Centre in Durban.

An Alliance of occult Forces?
Religious people in the West are not always aware of occult forces. Church people sometimes belong to lodges of Freemasonry, unaware of its demonic origins. Hindu’s have come to faith in Christ without being taught that it implies a break with their past. Christians and Muslims have been praying to ancestors at graves and Kramats (shrines), without knowledge of the occult content of such habits. In folk Islam the deceased pirs (saints) have taken in the role of ancestors. Followers of a pir would then for example believe that the pir married Allah when he died or was united with Allah on that day. Many followers of revered ‘saints’ - also in Roman Catholism – usually expect a special award when they participate in the celebrations in commemoration of the death of these saints. Subahan describes how special rites include the reading (reciting) of Surah’s 1, 112, 113 and 114, followed by prayers for the deceased, have been bringing many into bondage. I suggest that the arch enemy has been using an alliance of occult forces down the centuries.
There has been a complete lack of teaching that this custom often leads to bondage and deep depression. Religious people have sometimes entrenched these practices, by not discerning between communion with the saints and the abominable communication with the dead. Alternative healers use terms like ‘laying on of hands’ and ‘Lord’, without the patients being aware that the content of the practices are diametrically opposed to deliverance through the blood of Jesus.
Hardly anywhere is the alliance of demonic forces better illustrated than by a certain plaque in one of the main Islamic shrines of the Cape, at Constantia. There are various symbols on this plaque, including a few from Freemasonry. It is surely not co-incidental that the swastika - a deformed cross - which Hitler used to symbolise his demonic National Socialism in Germany, is among these symbols. Even in the fight against evil, church people have fallen into the trap of strange alliances. Here at the Cape, Father Bernard Wrankmore set out idealistically in protest against the injustice of the apartheid regime in the early 1970s. It was surely laudable that he as a Christian called for an inquiry into the death in custody of Imam Haron on 27 September, 1969. He used the spiritual weapons of prayer and fasting, but he made his mission public, making his action unbiblical. Jesus’ teaching was quite clear: that prayer and fasting are not supposed to occur with public fanfare. That Wrankmore had little clue of spiritual warfare, was also evident when we look at the fact that he chose the big kramat near to Signal Hill as the venue of his prayer activity. Very sadly, church leaders all too often operate in concert with forces of the enemy, using a biblical principle wrongly.
One descriptive name of Satan is diabolos, which can be translated as separator. Whereas God brings together, his counterpart rips apart. That is why the ideology which kept the races in South Africa apart for many years has to be described as diabolic.

Walls of separation
Two rival interpretations of Scripture brought a rift between the pristine church of the new era and Judaism. It has been said - definitely not without reason - that the Christological explanation of the Hebrew Bible ‘brought an anti Jewish exegesis in its train.’ In an effort to legitimate itself, the young Christian church sketched the official Judaism as a fallen apostate Israel. From these beginnings the heretical and arrogant replacement theology developed, whereby academics and others started to teach that the church came in the place of Israel. Also evangelicals, who have usually proudly stood firm on the principle of ‘sola scriptura’ - only the Word - fell into the same trap. One of the most striking abuses I have found in this regard was where a church leader criticised a paper by an academic on his Calvinistic position of infant Baptism. In his response to the paper of UNISA professor Adrio König, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, a pastor stated that Paul as a Christian despised and rejected the idea that he still belonged to the physical Israel, because this held no advantage for him and was of no value. How a clergyman could come to such a conclusion is really a mystery, because Paul also mentioned Romans 9:2,3 in the very context. I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.’ In similar vein the pastor continues: ‘The cross ended the significance of circumcision and therefore of the physical Israel.’ Paul would surely have greatly alarmed if he were to hear such an interpretation of his theology. He might have objected seriously to the role given to the cross with regard to circumcision. (Compare Colossians 2:11, 12 where he refers to conversion to faith in Christ as circumcision of the heart.) Paul would surely have been horrified to read the implication that the Cross terminated the physical Israel.
It is not surprising of course that the arch enemy used theologians to keep people apart. Isn’t one of his names diabolos, accuser? This also happened in South Africa in the original formulation and execution of apartheid. The first apartheid Prime Minister, Dr D.F. Malan, was a theologian. He came up with nice-sounding theories of racial separation. He was predominantly and clearly guided by a negative spirit, by resentment of the British and the Jews. That is how he started the Purified Herenigde Nationalist Party in 1934, breaking away from the United Party of his fellow Afrikaners, Hertzog and Smuts because of this. When Mr. P.W. Botha wanted to move away from rigid apartheid with a series of reforms in the early 1980s, another racist theologian - Dr Andries Treurnicht - effectively pulled the brakes, establishing the Conservative Party in 1982.
The only real opposition to apartheid at the beginnings of the 1980s - the Church - was also divided. Theologians were deluded by the demonic tactic when for example Dr Allan Boesak and his Broederkring associates were at loggerheads with the spokesman of the South African Council of Churches, (not yet Arch)bishop Desmond Tutu, because of the latter’s contacts to Mr. P.W. Botha. Misled by an un-christlike worldly concept, Broederkring theologians felt that the Prime Minister and everybody associated with his regime, should be isolated. As a rule the theologians had good intentions, but because they had no eye for the primacy of the unity of the body, Satan had a field day. In the opposition to apartheid theologians were likewise visible in the front line of the struggle. They furthermore contributed to divide and rule because of their lack of vision for biblical unity.

Deception byJewish and Muslim theologians
Jewish theologians have understandably been taken aback by an arrogant attitude of their Christian counterparts. Some Christian believers from Gentile background started to look down condescendingly upon the Jews. Israel’s expulsion from the Land of Promise, her dispersion and general wretched state were in the misguided Gentile perception an expression of divine rejection. Paul, the prolific epistle writer, deemed it fit to remind the gentile believers of Rome that they are merely branches of the real olive tree Israel, that they have only been grafted into the olive tree (Romans 11:17). Paul had to rectify and teach them to be humble. But Christians have not learnt this lesson well. When will we grasp what an exciting time we could expect when Jews become Jesus-followers on a significant scale. Paul had already given us the vision: For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be ... (Romans 11:15).
However, it seems that some of the Jewish theologians over-reacted to the teaching from their own ranks, notably from Paul. He was not the last one to be pushed aside by their establishment because his beliefs contradicted the set pattern of the synagogue. On the other hand, we as Christians should not expect that Jews should accept unconditionally that in Christ the wall of partition has been broken down. To them Jesus is not the Christ. They still expect the Messiah to come. Readily we will have to concede that there are still a few Messianic prophecies to be fulfilled. Basically Jesus will have to reveal himself to them supernaturally - as He has done not only in the case of Saul from Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). This has happened already to many in our day and age, also in Israel. One of the most stunning conversions in recent years happened when a Jewess - after setting out to prove that Jesus could never be the promised Messiah - was drastically converted to become a follower of Him. A study of the meaning of the names in the genealogy in Genesis 5 brought her to the opposite conviction as her original intention. Of course, this was not completely new. Examples a few decades ago was Stan Telchin, whose testimony become fairly well known under the title Betrayed since 1981, as well as Josh McDowell, who started off as an atheist lawyer.
Muslim theologians have been falling far short of bridging the respective gaps to Judaism and Christianity. The founder of their faith was initially at least favourably disposed to all ‘People of the Book’, a term which he used for Christians, Jews and Sabians. Islam followed the Jewish example where someone can be an atheist and still be regarded as a Jew, but seen as a traitor and apostate as soon as such a person decides to become a follower of Jesus. This already started in biblical days when the Christians were ex-communicated. In the most favourable scenario, they feared to be excluded from the synagogue. Nicodemus, an influential Jew, possibly a member of the Sanhedrin, found it better to go to Jesus by night (John 3: 2) and even Joseph of Arimathea remained only a secret believer (John 19:38).
Ostracism and Persecution as big Deterrents
The fear of ostracism and persecution evidently kept Islamic academics from rocking the boat in a way which could have caused a movement towards following the prophet from Nazareth. The general uncritical attitude of Muslim scholars do not count to their credit. Their investigation in Islamic historical research, for example to show beyond any doubt that Mecca was indeed a trade centre at the time of Muhammad, leaves a lot to be desired. Of course, I am quite aware that the spirit of intolerance in their ranks does not make it very easy for the good Muslim scholar. Dr Fazlur Rahman’s scholarly and critical study of the origins and development of Islam is a case in point. It established his reputation as a scholar, but it cost him his job because conservative circles were not prepared to tolerate even the mildly critical tone employed by him. In other countries, those who dared to pose uncomfortable questions had to run for their lives and some were even killed. Yet, the truth will prevail in the end. Islam will have to face uncomfortable facts squarely such as that the Qur’anic Jibril can never be equated with the angel in the Bible with the same name or that Muhammad continued with the pagan worship around the black stone in the Ka’aba, although Waraqa and three other influential Meccans discerned the circumambulations as idolatrous because the stone could not hear, see nor help. Christians cannot feel happy either in the light of the fact that the Syrian monk Bahira was under occult influence when he perceived the ‘enlightenment’ from a sinister ‘book’ that Muhammad had the seal of prophethood or that Waraqah, a priest, encouraged Muhammad to believe that the ‘Namus’ which had almost led him to commit suicide, was the same spirit which had communicated with Moses.

Self-denial as a Correction of Ethnocentrism and wrong Nationalism
Some Jewish theologians seem to like to harp on Jesus’ break with nationalism, without pointing out that His ministry had the intention of bringing Israel back to its original destiny, namely to be a ‘light to the nations’ (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). Islamic scholars likewise usually do not seem to have a problem with nationalism or ethnocentrism. Allegiance to the Ummah, the brotherhood of Muslim believers, is usually very important to them.
To be patriotic is laudable. But it should never make one uncritical. However, when patriotism and loyalty turn to chauvinism, the red card must be shown. In the Bible it is narrated how Jonah was reprimanded by God for his nationalistic thinking. The Qur’an does mention ‘a spreading plant of the gourd kind’ (Surah 37:146) in reference to this narrative, but one does not find God rebuking Jonah’s legalistic, nationalistic thinking in the sacred Islamic book.
Paul and John the Baptist were definitely influenced by the nationalist strand of Judaism. But they also included in their teaching its correction towards self-denial for example ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20, compare also 2 Corinthians 5:15 and Romans 14:7,8). We note that Jesus included ‘deny yourself’ even before saying ‘take up your cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34). Paul extended himself for the Gentiles to such an extent that he was almost killed exactly because of his conviction, namely that God had sent him to preach the Gospel to the - in their eyes barbaric inferior Gentiles - gojim (for example Acts 22:22).
John the Baptist said that Jesus must become greater and he must become less (John 3:30). Jesus himself set the example in self-denial, for example by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13) and saying: ‘… so that your Son may glorify you’ (John 17:1).
The Christian theologians of the dark ages did not fare much better with regard to nationalism. Our religious forebears obviously did not understand what Jesus’ radical break with nationalism implied for the rank and file Christian. They furthermore made an aloof deity out of the biblical ‘Lord of Lords’ and ‘King of Kings’ (Revelations 17:14). Not only God the Father but also Jesus became further and remote as the Christians prayed increasingly to mother Mary. The Hebrew Scriptures speak of God being exalted over all the nations, but also that he bends down to uplift the downtrodden and needy from the ash heap (for example Psalms 113:4,7). This tenet became concealed and the incarnation of God - Jesus as the Immanuel - got almost completely lost. The message in the Magnificat that God identifies himself with the lowly (Luke 2:48, 52), was interpreted in a very one-sided way, namely in the veneration of Mary.

Labelled by Rabbi’s and Mullah’s
Paul, the apostle, has more often than not been labelled by the rabbi’s and mullah’s down the ages in a one-sided unfair way as an apostate of the law. He concededly used unfortunate wording, speaking for example about the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Paul’s references to the law are often quoted out of context - as is often done with Galatians 3:13 and with hardly any effort to understand Paul’s background as a Pharisee. An influential portion of the Pharisees evidently did experience the meticulous legalistic precepts of the Torah as a burden. In their battle against Paul, Jewish theologians have usually conveniently ignored that the concededly polemical letter to the Galatians was written to Christians and not to Jews!
Furthermore the translation of the Greek word for Law (viz. nomos), back into the Hebrew Torah, evidently also put more weight to the matter. From his other writings it is clear that Paul was nowhere an ‘apostate of the law’ and a renegade as he has often been vilified. In fact, in Romans 9 he speaks about his passionate love for his people, his mega sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart, willing himself to be ‘cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen by race’ (v.2,3). It is sad that Christians could abuse this verse to speak about Israel as a stumbling block to the Church (for example in response to Professor König’s article, in the same context as quoted above). That sentence of Paul was surely on a par with the plea of Moses, who was willing to be blotted out of God’s book (Exodus 32:32). It has however been prophetic of the other great Jew who indeed gave his love as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Paul’s insensitivity to Jewish Christians
The other side of the coin is that Paul was not completely innocent in creating the impression that he was insensitive to the sentiments of the Jewish Christians, let alone to those of the other Jews. When he came to Jerusalem with his contingent, according to the report in Acts 21, the leaders there could really empathise with the group, rejoicing at what God had done through Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles. James promptly referred to the ‘many thousands of Jews’ (who) have believed, ‘and all of them zealous for the law’ (v. 20). Strikingly, James brought over to Paul what was the talk of the town: ‘They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs’. James tried to quell the flames of anger with a suggestion how Paul could show the masses that he was not an apostate of the law. It did not help much. Paul was almost killed by the furious Jews. Whether there was miscommunication or not, the tension radiated by the allegations brought against Paul, speaks a language of its own.
From what has been handed down, it is clear that these allegations had a lot of substance. Words from Paul like the comparison in Romans 7:1-6, are really unfortunate. To compare the law to a marriage when the husband has died, was apt to sent many a Jewish heart boiling in anger: ‘You are no more under the law’ (v.6). Paul, the prolific missionary, furthermore did not always practice what Jesus preached, for example when he spoke about his adversaries. To speak about anybody as ‘dogs’ does not radiate enemy love. What is worse is that he probably referred to other believers in that context: ‘those dogs, those men who do evil’ (Philippians 3:2). This could still have referred to anybody, but ‘those mutilators of the flesh’ is evidently a word play, a reference to the prime representatives of circumcision (katatome and peritome respectively). This is followed up in the context with ‘For it is we who are the circumcision’ (3:3). Thus Paul possibly widened the rift between Jewish and Gentile Christians. The assertion that he was regarded as an apostate of the law, thus had some substance and he contributed to this perception without any doubt, but it is also true that Paul mellowed his tone in later letters. By the time of his writing the second letter to the Corinthians he beseeches ‘by the meakness and gentleness of Christ (10:1ff), emphasising that spiritual warfare must not be applied with carnality.
It is nevertheless unfair that Paul is singled out if we consider that Jesus also really called a spade a spade. The scribes and Pharisees were offended because they saw Jesus’ teaching as a revolutionary attack upon law and tradition. We compare how Jesus was even more radical than Paul in many a way, showing how the Pharisees nullified the Word of God through their traditions (Mk.7: 13). Yet, although Jews find it repugnant that Jesus died on a cross, our Master is still held in high regard by them. The Lord stressed that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.

John got off the hook
One wonders why Paul has been singled out to be the prime ‘apostate of the law’. Why did John, another apostle, got more or less off the hook? Hans Küng points out that between the reign of King Herod and 70 CE (the destruction of the second temple and the spoiling of Jerusalem by Titus), no criticism of the Torah and the temple was permitted. Paul’s letters fell in that period and the Johannine material was written towards the end of the first century. Paul’s negative references to the law and Jewish rituals like circumcision is possibly the big cause of the difference.
It is nevertheless quite surprising because especially the Gospel of John was very much radiating the anti-Jewish view of the Christian community that survived the Roman decimation of the Jewish nation. Whereas the Synoptic Gospels especially reported the polemics against the Pharisees and the Scribes, John repeatedly spoke negatively and sweepingly about ‘the Jews’.
Another surprise for the qualified acceptance of John is his quoting of various ‘I am’ expressions. Whereas the oral tradition will have confirmed the divinity of Jesus (= Yahweh, I am what I am) to many, especially after His resurrection, the use of these words would have been tantamount to sacrilege of the highest order to the religious establishment. No wonder that even some of Jesus’ disciples regarded his teaching of his being the Bread of Life as ‘hard teaching’ (John 6: 60). Soon hereafter the masses left him with only the faithful twelve remaining. Against that background the disappointment of the crowds can be understood. Jesus as the ‘I am’ , ‘the ‘bread of life’ and the ‘living bread’ was just a bit too much for them.
All the more it is surprising that John came away almost unscathed. What could have counted in his favour is that he came over as an out an out Jew, without polemics against the law, circumcision and other revered traditions. In fact, his Revelations on the island of Patmos must have sounded to his compatriots like one or more of the old prophets like Ezekiel revived.

Paul as the cause of Islamic thought?
This question is prone to let many a scholar sit up straight. I argue that the reaction to Pauline teaching prepared the way for Islam. We have stated that at heart Paul was definitely not a renegade from Jewish law, but that his wording was very unfortunate. On at least three issues he really got his Jewish contemporaries unnecessarily fiercely in opposition against him. I am not discussing the confrontation, which his position on the resurrection of Jesus caused or the accusation that the Jews crucified Jesus innocently. The Nazarene-Ebionite faction of early Christianity had no problems with those beliefs. There was even a partial ignoring of Hebrew Scriptures' prescripts and authorities by the Ebionites according to the motto: We don’t need the law because the Gospel has come. Paul was thus not such a loner with regard to the law as some of his Judeo-Islamic opponents try to make us believe.
What I do deem to be very unfortunate is the perception, which his Jewish Christian compatriots had of his teaching. The allegations in Acts 21:17ff quoted above, reflect the three-fold conflict that made their blood boiling. According to them he abrogated the Sabbaths together with their fixed festivals, his teaching on circumcision was divisive and he interpreted the Torah in a perverted way.
From the available evidence on paper, Paul does not seem extremely guilty on any of these counts. Between the lines one can pick up though that he must have said things that really enraged his religious adversaries. The letter to the Galatians gives us an idea what a hot-head Paul must have been. He challenged Peter ‘to his face’, referring to his opponents as ‘false apostles’ and ‘hypocrites’. On the other hand, they were very sceptical about his free association with the despised ‘goyim’, the uncircumcised Gentiles. To get an idea: Even our Lord Jesus referred to the Gentiles as dogs (Mark 7:27). We South Africans, who know racial prejudice, can understand fully why nothing was accepted from a man with such a suspect record as Paul. The fact which counted heavily against him was that he was seen with the uncircumcised Trophimus. That was enough to arouse the city (Acts 21:29, 30) and it almost cost him his life. Whether he also brought Trophimus into the holy sanctuary, would have actually been only additional material against him. We remind ourselves how people were labelled ‘kafferboeties’, how others were ‘necklaced’ or their houses burnt down only because they had contact with people from one of the reviled other races.

Three contentious Issues
If we try and unravel Paul’s teaching on the three contentious issues from the available evidence, one comes to the conclusion that his general teaching was quite good, but that he interspersed it with loaded expressions which undid much of that sound teaching. Let us take his lessons on circumcision for instance. That ‘circumcision of the heart’ (Philippians 2:11, 12) was called for, was completely in line with what Jeremiah (4:4; 9:27) had taught. Paul was basically echoing what the prophets had said all along, that a heart transplant was needed, that the uncircumcised unrepentant hearts of stone had to be removed. But then Paul also lumped the circumcisers together with evil men and dogs (Philippians 3:2, see above). Paul plainly went overboard. How would any Jew react - even today - if he reads: ‘Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ (= Messiah!!!) will be of no value to you at all’ (Galatians 5:2)?
And what about his teaching on Sabbaths and festivals? Paul ingeniously wrote about the Passover festival and Jesus as our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). This is a wonderful link to Exodus 12:43ff, where it is repeatedly and specifically stated that no alien is allowed to participate in the Passover , unless all the males in his household (are) circumcised. Seeing that circumcision of the heart is what is called for, the ceremony as such becomes superfluous. The ‘old yeast of malice and wickedness’, contrasted to the unleavened bread of ‘sincerity and truth’, would have gone down well with the Nazarenes, reminding them of the Passover and the Seder meal, where every semblance of yeast had to be removed. It might even have reminded them of Jesus, the unleavened bread of life (John 6:48). But when Paul proceeded to link the festivals and Sabbaths with new moons (Colossians 2:16), he conjured up the idolatrous occultic Baal worship in the mind of the staunch Jew. But that need not have been a problem as such. Isaiah 1:11-14 also spoke of these things as detestable in God’s sight: ‘Your new moons and appointed feasts my soul hates’.
The remarks of Jesus with regard to the Sabbath were even more radical. Also, Paul attended the synagogues wherever he went, thus showing his respect for the Jewish custom on Sabbath. Is is not known what else he might have said that is not recorded in the available literature. It seems as though Paul had been very unfairly treated on this score.
Nevertheless, it can be argued that Paul may have laid the basis for the emperor Constantine to jettison the tradition of the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. Constantine declared the first day of the week as the official day of rest in 321 CE. This precedent surely made it easy for Muhammad to change the Islamic sacred day to Friday without any clear theological reason.

Other accusations against Paul Sometimes Paul has been accused of deifying Jesus, someone who made an idol, a god out of Jesus. Thus it would be asserted that he called Jesus ‘that rock’. But Jesus himself also referred to him as such, a fulfilment of Psalm 118:22.
A few remarks by the German theologian Klaus Berger are appropriate in the light of the accusations against Paul. He points out that Paul did not mention a single miracle in his letters. The tradition of the virgin birth is found in Matthew and Luke and not in the Pauline letters. Furthermore, Paul said that he took over the tradition of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3f). With regard to the divinity of our Lord Jesus: he was not regarded in ancient Christianity as a ‘second God’. He was rather seen as a unique representative of God.
And what about the image of Paul as the originator of a new religion ? Berger states that Christianity is nothing else to Paul than ‘Messianisches Judentum’ (Messianic Jewry). He was nowhere an opposing role player of Jesus, stating that love is the fulfilment of the law. His message was that ritual and atonement prescripts had no function any more because Jesus fulfilled the relationship to God. By being a child of God through the Holy Spirit, Christians get so near to God that rituals and circumcision have become superfluous.
The neutral reader is fascinated or moved by Paul’s stunning chapters on his love for the Jews and his commitment to the Torah (for example Romans 9-11), by his faithfulness to the synagogue, which we notice on his visits to every town he entered. In the eye of the rank and file Jew however, all this does not count because Paul used the sentence; ‘All who rely on observing the law are under a curse’. Whatever Paul said does not weigh up against this discrepancy in their view. In the context, he only wanted to make clear that faith is needed, and not our own effort - for example by trying to keep the law meticulously, as he himself had tried to when he was a Pharisee. When word went around that Paul had stated that Christ (the Messiah!!) had no value at all to those who were circumcised (Galatians 5:2). When he said that Jesus Christ was made a curse and also speaking of ‘the curse of the law’, he had probably lost it with almost all Jews, also with the Nazarenes. But all that is said with our advantage of hindsight.
Against this background, Paul’s teaching of becoming a Jew to the Jew and a Roman to the Romans ‘so that by all possible means I might save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:19ff) had little chance with his compatriots. To them this might have been opportunistic in the extreme and a cheap compromise, a contrast to the Lord Jesus’ teaching which brought the sword, enmity between family members on account of their faith. Of course, Paul also taught a radical stand for your faith and he encouraged spiritual warfare, albeit ‘not against flesh and blood’. In fact, he spoke out against opportunism, for example those who would be circumcised in order to avoid persecution for the sake of Christ (Galatians 6:12). But he was the wrong person to say these things. The misunderstanding is complete to this day. In the eyes of Jews and Muslims, Paul will possibly always remain an apostate of the law.

Jesus as the promised Messiah?
By not accepting the validity of allegory, Jewish theologians have sometimes been brushing aside irrationally all pointers to Jesus as a possible contender to be their promised Messiah. Thus verses like Isaiah 7:14, (The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel) or Isaiah 53:4ff ( ... He was pierced for our transgressions...) could be ignored or argued away. The standard reason was of course to deny the virgin birth. As we have already pointed out, there are still prophecies which must be fulfilled. Leading Jewish personalities have little problem to see the Revelations of John as an authentic Jewish piece of literature. Here Jesus is clearly seen as the Lamb, the Bridegroom, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings (see 17:14; 19:7,16).
A favourite reason for not accepting Jesus as the Messiah is - as we have said - that many Jewish authors would not agree to allegory. Thus it would be unacceptable to see the Messiah as the Lamb of God, or the exalted serpent of Moses in the desert. The same authors however usually do accept Isaiah 53 as Messianic, where the suffering servant becomes the image for the nation of Israel. Rather selectively they have however no problem to accept the imagery of the book of Hosea which is little more than an allegory. Hosea had to marry a harlot to depict the idolatry of God’s people, running after strange gods. Yahweh wanted to be their one and only ‘husband’. Nevertheless, influential groups did accept allegory. The author of the letter to the Hebrews, must have had his ears close to the ground in Jewish circles. In that epistle allegory abounds. Also in many works of the early church allegory is used profusely. I take allegory as my point of departure. May I remind the Jewish objector that Jews of the early centuries of the new era were quite close to accepting Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God’, so much so that a Midrash taught that Isaac carried the wood to Moriah as someone would carry a cross.
There had been the expectation in Jesus' lifetime that the promised Messiah would liberate the Jews from the Roman oppression. Albert Nolan (1976:101ff) describes strikingly how the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem was probably the incident par excellence which not only made Jesus a public figure, but the one that raised high hope of him to be Yahweh's instrument to break the oppressive Roman yoke. The messianic Psalms and other apocalyptic literature ascribe (near) divinity to God’s anointed one. Nevertheless, many groups - including the Ebionites - believed in Jesus as the Messiah and a great prophet, but not necessarily as divine. This was in line with the expectation of a Messiah who could do miracles like raising people from the dead as Elijah and Elisha once did.
In his two famous confessions, Peter professed Jesus as the Messiah (Christ), as Lord and as the Holy one of God: ‘...You are the Christ (of God)’ (Matthew 16:16) and ‘ have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy one of God’ (John 6:69). Peter and the other disciples must have discerned that Jesus rose above the mundane miracle worker of the time. Of no other person was it said that he was without sin ((1 Peter 2:22) or known that he could forgive sin, still a storm or drive fishes into a net. The words, with which the 'New Testament' and the Revelations of John in particular refer to Jesus, show that the authors perceived him as divine and as the Messiah. One of the classic examples is surely the question of Caiaphas and Jesus’ reply, confirming not only that He is the ’… the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One’, but also that he will be revealed as ‘the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One’ (Mark 14:61, 62). To this day Jews include in the daily prescribed prayers terms like King of Kings and the Holy (righteous) one. We should pray that Jews may open up to the possibility of a second coming of the Messiah, where the remainder of the prophecies would be fulfilled or that God may supernaturally open their eyes that they may recognise the one who had been pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
I suggest that all three Abrahamic religions could join hands in using Genesis 22 as a vehicle to find each other, even to the extent to discover why Jesus qualifies to be the Messiah. Was it merely by chance that Abraham saw Moriah on the third day? Elsewhere we have referred to the Targum Pseudo Jonathan on Exodus 1:15, 7:11 and Numbers 22:22, referring to Jannes and Jambres, the two Egyptian sorcerers who opposed Moses. The Targum refers to a dream of the Pharaoh, whereby a boy would be born who is described as a lamb that would destroy Egypt.

Neglect of the Shekinah Concept
The quotation by Paul - citing Moses in Romans (9:14,15) - which could give the impression of a rigid, arbitrary despotic God, omits a major tenet of the context. In Exodus 33 there is a clear emphasis of Yahweh speaking of ‘My presence’ and the proclaiming of His name. Yahweh’s presence is closely linked to His glory, sometimes referred to as His Shekinah. This in turn is linked to the ark in the holy of holies in the tabernacle. Tabernacle and ark were visible symbols of this special presence of God. Moses reckoned with it like no one else. In fact, in the context of Exodus 33 he argued with God that he would not dare to move unless ‘Your presence (goes)... with us’ (v.15). Even stronger, the context speaks of Moses having a ‘face to face’ (v.11) conversation with God. The prophecy of Isaiah about the virgin who would give birth to the Immanuel, the God with us, is a logical extension (Isaiah 7:14). It is interesting in this regard that the Talmud teaches that Moses brought down the Shekinah below to the earth. The Gospel of John (1:14) speaks of the Word which ‘became flesh and made his dwelling among us (as) the One and Only who came from the Father.’
It is less fortunate that this aspect of Hebrew Scriptural teaching seems to have been neglected by Paul. He might have been a child of his time because in the 'New Testament' only the letter to the Hebrews (With Barnabas or Apollos as possible authors) and John (especially in Revelations) refer clearly to the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. Yet, Paul was not ignorant of the issue at hand. His reference to a man being taken up into the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2), is linked to the concept of Shekinah. Also, in Judaism the Holy Spirit is seen as the expression of the Shekinah, the presence of God in a special way with gifted people. It could have been that Paul did not regard it necessary to mention this specially, because the church in Rome had a predominantly Jewish component.
The word used intimates clearly that God is ‘tabernacling’ among us in Jesus, the Word. Paul includes the aspect of ‘Christ in us’ (Colossians 1:27, Christ in us the hope of glory) and ‘God in us’ and especially the body as the temple, where God is living (1 Corinthians 6:13, 19; 2 Corinthians 6:16) by His Spirit.
In Romans 9:4 there is a reference to divine glory but Paul did not explain it to the Roman gentile Christians who were part of the congregation as clearly as he did with other facets of the Jewish faith. At the end of the section of his epistle devoted to Israel and the Jews, there is by contrast the doxology which would - if anything - corroborate the transcendence of God: ‘... How unsearchable are his judgements’ (Romans 11:33). Of the Synoptic Gospels, only Matthew picked up the Messianic prophecy of the Immanuel, the God with us (Matthew 1:23). With his Greek background, Luke (2:12) was possibly not aware of this messianic reference with his reporting of Jesus as a sign at the birth. This makes it even more remarkable.
It seems as if the Judaism of Muhammad’s age - especially the anti-Pauline stream - shared this unfortunate one-sided heritage of the transcendant and arbitrary God. His nearness was most probably not taught in the Christian Community from where Muhammad got his teaching via Waraqah ibn Naufal, the priestly cousin of his first wife. Thus Immanuel is one of the most conspicuous absentees with regard to the beautiful names of Allah. The concept of an ever present God - of a living daily relationship to God - somehow also got lost.
This was completely unfortunate because Pauline theology amply includes the imagery of Jesus being the personification of this divine act of God, for example ‘... our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). Even more powerful is Philippians 2:5-8, ‘...Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God ... taking the very nature of a servant. The Ebionites as the most probable spiritual ancestors of Islam, of course stayed clear from the teachings of Paul.

Distorted views of God
The concept of an aloof God was sadly taken over lock stock and barrel by Islam. To all intents and purposes, Allah became an arbitrary deity who can do what he likes. It is furthermore tragic that the mediating role of Jesus had been substituted in the church with Mary. Roman Catholics are still beseeching Mary, the mother of our Lord, to intercede for them). The extent was quite vigorous on the long run when priests gave the impression that they could be subsidiary mediators. Islam eventually even made a point of it to state categorically that the Muslim does not need a mediator.
Other distorted views of God which developed in the dark and early Middle Ages - and which filtered through to Islam - is an unbiblical emphasis on a punishing God, that he is harsh, unbending and arbitrary. Just as sad was the overdrawn fear for the coming judgement and the lack of the belief in the loving Father heart of God. Surah 50 probably takes the cake for instilling fear of God’s judgement in the average Muslim although the famous aya of the jugular vein is found here. Allah can let one meet death much quicker than by the cutting through of the jugular vein. The two angels on the right and left shoulders are at hand for judgement. In fact, Surah 50 is full of judgement, death and the fear of it. Dante’s Divina Commedia portrayed this view of God. Thus it is not quite surprising that the faked Gospel of Barnabas, which was reportedly written by an Italian monk, Fra Marino, has a similar view. That book has a clear Islamic touch, including the prophecy of Muhammad as Messiah .
Another case in point is the ‘Our Father’, a prayer which the Lord cited after the disciples’ request the Lord to teach them how to pray. It was only normal that this would become a model in due course. But our Master surely never meant it to become a formal prayer which one should use as a ritual. This happened in the great medieval Church. Roman Catholics recite the prayer using the rosary, counting the number of ‘Our Fathers’ achieved. (This was possibly the model for the 33-bead Islamic counterpart for the reciting of the 99 beautiful names of Allah). In many churches the Lord’s Prayer - as it became known - is regarded as a must for every church service, often recited or sung without any thought about the content. On the other side of the pendulum, lack of reverence for a sovereign God was an unfortunate reaction. The 'Lord’s Prayer' reminds us of the loving Father, but yet He is ‘in heaven’. The pendulum swung the other way among the ‘happy clappy’ part of evangelicalism. The impression has been given in these circles that God is something very close to a buddy. This lack of reverence has made it sometimes very difficult for Muslims, Catholics and others who are not used to the idea of a personal relationship to God, to come to faith in Jesus as their Saviour.
The Gospel message of the resurrection hope - which is so central to the 'New Testament' as a counter to fatalism, likewise tragically didn’t filter through to millions in the church and in Islam. Even in big segments of Protestantism, for example in the ‘heavy churches’ in Holland, the joy in the Lord got lost.

Fear and Fatalism as faith motives
The mentality of reward-punishment, which is so common in Islam, has its basis in the Qur’an. It is doubly tragic when one considers the Judaic-Christian roots of the religion. Elsewhere we discussed the tenet of grace (p. ??), which means accepting a gift without any effort on our part.
The view of heaven - called paradise in Islam - became likewise distorted. A sensual-sexual emphasis is portrayed in the Qur’an which is alien to the Bible. Exquisite delicacies of all kinds, fresh fruits, ever-virginal maidens and young lads are to be at the disposal of the fortunate ones ( Surah 56:11-37). The problem is that only those can be sure to enter paradise who have died for the sake of Allah in the Holy War. The good Muslim can only hope that all his good deeds will outweigh and cancel the bad ones (Surah 11:114). For the Christian the biggest reward is to be ‘with the Lord’, and that can even start on this side of the grave through a close relationship with Him. Paul set the tone in this regard saying at the end of his life that he had mixed feelings so to speak. He was looking forward to be with the Lord on the one hand, but he also wanted remain alive for the sake of the believers and generally for the cause of the Gospel (Philippians 1:23).
How sad that the (possibility of a) vibrant living relationship to God through faith and a prayerful ‘connection to the Saviour’ - as Count Zinzendorf called it - got lost. A personal relationship to the Almighty does not come through in Islam, although Moses was for example given the title of kalimu ‘llah - one who conversed with Allah. It is significant that this is etymologically related to kalimatu ‘llah, the Word of God, one of the titles given to Jesus in the Qur’an. A major correction came through Sufism via Al-Ghazzali, more than four centuries after Muhammad had died. Al-Ghazzali had been deeply influenced by the teachings of Jesus, but much of his teaching, for example about the love of God, did not break through to rank and file Muslim. Much of Sufism became stuck in ancestor worship. On the hand Islam would denounce the possibility of a mediator, but on the other hand pirs (like in India and Pakistan) and other karamats (saints) were worshipped and prayed to at their shrines. Sufi ritual prayers 7, 40 and 100 days after the death of the deceased has become part and parcel of Cape Islam.

Examples of the Proximity of the Descendants of Abraham
Traditions around Moses is an example of a personality who could be used as common ground between the three related religions. The Hebrew Scriptures teach not only a common ancestry, but it also gives quite a few examples of the proximity of the off-spring of Isaac and Ishmael. Orthodox Jews up to this day usually tend to forget that Joseph was rescued by Ishmaelite traders and that Moses had a good relationship to Jethro, a Midianite (Ishmaelite) priest. It might not belong to the centre stage of salvation history, but it is surely not merely chance that the Hebrew Scriptures mention that Esau married a daughter of Ishmael (Gen. 28:9). Judges 8:24 notes that the Midianites are seen as Ishmaelites and Judges 6:5 and 7:12 speak of their camels. It might surprise many - also from the ranks of Christians - to discover that the descendants of Ishmael, stemming from his two eldest sons Kedar and Nebaioth, along with those from Africa (Sheba), are included in the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 60:6+7 where the camels of Midian are mentioned. Concededly, there is some difficulty in the interpretation of this Messianic scripture. As for myself, I am satisfied to see one part of the prophecy already fulfilled, for example ‘bearing gold and incense’ (v.6) at the birth of Jesus and the other part still to be fulfilled on the return of the Messiah.
On the other hand, although Abraham, Moses and Joseph are being recognised in Islam as important prophets, the Qur’an misses the deeper prophetic dimension of their lives. These three personalities are all being treated fairly extensively in the sacred book of Islam. The Jewish-Arab harmony extended well into the period of the judges. In Judges 1:16 it is mentioned how the men from the tribe of Judah were accompanied by the Kenites, off-spring of Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. The only problem at this time seems to have been their disobedience. In stead of doing what God had told them, namely to drive the Canaanites out of the area, the Israelites enslaved them (Judges 1:27). This compromise did lay the basis for later problems. The Bible itself however does not supply sufficient ground for the traditional enmity between Jews and Arabs.

Idolatry as a major Problem
The prohibition of mixed marriages (with non-Jews) is closely connected to another main issue: idolatry. Judges 2:2 stresses the major disobedience: The Israelites got involved with strange alliances which brought them in temptation. They found it difficult to stay away from the altars of foreign gods. An interesting facet is the peoples which God allowed to remain in the land to test the new generation (Judges 3:1-4).
The really big problems started when both Midianites and Israelites started to worship other gods (see Judges 6). And yet, the fight against the Midianites has become the standard model for spiritual warfare, even to the extent that it gets a messianic touch. The chapters 6-8 of Judges narrate how God used the insignificant Gideon who had been completely flattened by fear and inferiority complexes. Ultimately he became the leader in the resounding victory over the Midianites. The Messianic Isaiah 9:1-6 which speaks of the light that is to come - just like Isaiah 60 - is preceded by the darkness which will to be dispelled. (Sometimes one has the feeling that a moral darkness is sweeping over the world, that immorality has become the norm in many a case, for example with regard to sexual ethics; life has become cheap).
Isaiah 9:4 alludes to the minute Gideon’s gang which defeated the mighty Midian and Isaiah 60:22 speaks about a small (nation) which is to become thousands. Both contexts are Messianic. A mighty revival which will include present-day Muslims, does not seem to me a far-fetched derivation from these verses. In fact, already more Muslims than Jews have been turning to Christ in Israel and Palestine in recent years. In the narrative of Gideon’s fight against the Midianites it is clear that they are being fought because of their idolatry. The exile and the destruction of the temple were the result of the disobedience to the warnings with regard to idolatry (1 Kings 9:6-9). Likewise, Solomon fell into the trap in spite of clear warnings (1 Kings 11:2). We have already noted how the whole book of Hosea is little more than an allegory. Hosea had to marry a harlot to depict the idolatry of God’s people, running after strange gods. Yahweh wanted to be their only ‘husband’.
Idolatry is often belittled and made as if it is only something that happened thousands of years ago. Syncretism - such as the mixing of the worship of the sun-god in the early Middle Ages - damaged the church, inflicting deep scars which are still evident to-day. In a country like Spain priests are still involved with things like fireworks and processions which come from a pagan past.
But also modern man conveniently overlooks that Samuel compared pride and arrogance to the evil of idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23) and Paul described materialism as an idol: evil desires and greed , which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). It is appropriate to remind ourselves that it is only with regard to the sin of idolatry that it is said ‘God will not forgive you for this sin’ (Isaiah 2:9, Living Bible). This was the one thing which called forth His immense wrath. Against this background the prime sin in Islam – shirk – is fully comprehensible: God can never
tolerate a partner next to him.
Thus the promise of God to Abraham will still come to fulfilment. Just as Jesus noted many years later that Zacchaeus was also a son of Abraham, God had also promised a blessing to the off-spring of Ishmael before he had been sent away with his mother. In respect of the tension between Israel and Egypt, we should remember that the biblical prophecy of Isaiah 19:24 still has to be fulfilled. There it states: ‘In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria (modern-day Syria and Iraq) a blessing on the earth. The highway between Iraq and Egypt (Isaiah 19:23) has already been completed.

The Moon instead of the Sun
For ages the worship of idols and gods was the common thing. All too often the idolatry included the sun and the moon. With the elevation of Christianity to a position of honour by the emperor Constantine, the rapid slide of biblical faith set in. With the formal declaration of Sunday as a day of rest in 321 C.E, a major occult syncretist element was brought into the church. Even though the Christians had already celebrated the day of the resurrection on the first day of the week specially - possibly with the Lord’s Supper - it remains the question whether it was necessary to side-line the Jewish Sabbath in the process. On top of it, a fuller view of Jesus as the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2; Isaiah 60:1, 19; 9:2 and Luke 1:78-79) was in this way impeded. Sun worship was still very much prevalent in Constantine syncretism. Koster (Die Laatste Reformasie, 1987) points to no less than 28 components in Christianity that have been derived from Sun worship.
The worship of the moon was evidently in vogue in biblical times - with occult connotations. The moon derives its light from the sun. It is not surprising that the arch enemy, an expert at imitating, used practices around the moon to bring people in bondage from ancient times. Satanists are known to operate at full moon and animist people groups have all sorts of rituals around the moon, with the full and the new moon as special times.
In biblical days some Christians evidently also indulged in some of these practices. Without giving clear reasons for it, Paul warned the Colossians in 2:16-18 that religious festivals, new moon celebrations, worship of angels (and we could add a plethora of other outward rituals and customs), are only ‘a shadow of the things that were to come: the reality, however is found in Christ’. Jesus is the sun, the light and the source of the shadow. All these other things are either secondary or peripheral. Isaiah 1:13f indicates that the new moon festivals and Sabbath celebrations were definitely not bringing people closer to God: ‘your new moon festivals and appointed feasts my soul hates.’ Even though they included many prayers, these celebrations were detestable and abominable in God’s sight, because they got stuck in outward rituals without godly lives to match them.
Opposition to the Pagan Worship
Opponents of Islam often disregard that it was the opposition to the pagan worship of many gods which had been the driving force behind Muhammad in the Meccan period of his mission. Here he was definitely following in the footsteps of the biblical prophets. How tragic it is that the church was so compromised and divided already, and so far removed from biblical teaching at that time that there seems to have been hardly anybody around to help Muhammad to break through to a living relationship with Jesus as his Lord. The Qur’anic evidence of the influence of Waraqah ibn Naufal and his church is quite clear: in stead of sharing the good news of Jesus as Lord and Saviour unambigously, the church people probably had more interest to share their differences with other contemporary Christian groups. That is possibly the reason why the Qur’an repeatedly says for example that Jesus was ‘not begotten’.
The writings on the life of Muhammad by Christians have sometimes been one-sided, for example referring to his many wives, without mentioning that he had no other wife next to Khadiya until her death or that the great majority of the wives which he had simultaneously were widows. Of course, one could never condone that he took Ayesha, the 9 year old daughter of his companion Abu Bakr as his wife. It has furthermore usually been overlooked by many Christian writers on Islam that there were Qur’anic revelations in the scientific field with an evident supernatural touch. Muhammad was surely not only used as an instrument to bring judgement on the church, but also to bring light in the field of science and on moral issues like slavery. There is definitely some substance in the claim that the ‘Qur’an had anticipated various scientific discoveries not made until centuries later’ (Watt, 1991:116). Watt went on to list some of them: the sphere-like shape and revolution of the earth (39:5); the fertilization of plants by the wind (15:22); the revolution of sun, moon and planets in fixed orbits (36:38f); ...the duality of sex in plants and other creatures (36:35). It would not be easy to ascribe all these revelations as supernatural imitations by Satan, although we know that the Bible does say that he can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). This has especially to be taken into consideration when some clear medieval concepts are also included in the Qur’an. Surah 35:13 (and 36:38,39) from which fixed orbits can be deduced, has also as basis the medieval idea of the sun and the moon running - ‘rising’ and ‘setting’ - as we still use in our speech. Furthermore, also quite a few Bible verses takes a flat earth for granted, although Job 37:12. also refers to the round face of the earth.

Lack of Discernment of the Occult
A much more serious matter, which seemed to have received scant attention by Christian theologians traditionally is the lack of discernment of the occult. It has to be conceded though that this field has only come of age recently through the emphasis on spiritual warfare the last few decades.
According to Islamic tradition Muhammed began travelling to Syria with trading caravans with his guardian Abu Talib at a young age. On one of these journeys he met Bahira, a Nestorian monk who stated that Muhammad was a prophet. The method he used to come to that conclusion either smacks of the occult or it is legendary. It is reported that Bahira looked at his back where the seal of prophethood was written on a place between his shoulders. Muhammad was at the receptive age of approximately 12 years.
According to the Islamic tradition and recorded by Ibn Ishak he met a Jew named Ibn al-Haijaban at a later stage. This man was asked why he had come to the arid Hijaz, leaving his fertile home country. The answer of the Jew to the question was just the confirmation which Muhammad needed to convince him that he himself was the prophet on whom the Jews were waiting: ‘I have come here, because I have been waiting on a prophet whose time will come soon and he will appear here...’. It seems as if al-Haijaban was simply awaiting the Messiah like all other Jews, but Bahira’s words must have misled Muhammad to believe that he was the prophet. A problem with the oral tradition around Bahira is that there is no other evidence to substantiate Muhammad’s version of matters. Centuries before him, Mani had also claimed to be the seal of the prophets.
The combination of these factors sent his originally Christian wife Khadiyah and her priest uncle Waraqah on a completely unfortunate track. After the first meeting with the supernatural figure which introduced himself as Gabriel, Muhammad was completely confused, thinking that he was demon-possessed. Some authors like the German Adelgunde Mertensacker have pointed out that the suicidal traits of Muhammad after his initial meeting with the supernatural being were indeed pointing in this direction. There is sufficient ground in the reports in Islamic history for this deduction.
Muhammad was more or less illiterate (Surah 7:157) and not always sure whether everyone of what he perceived as revelations, was from God or not (Surah 21:5; 44:14; 16:103; 37:36). The fact that there were seven revealed forms of the Qur’an which differed considerably (Mishkat vol. 3, p.702-705 or Tafsir of Al-Baiz on Surah 3:100; 6:91; 28: 48 ), induced Muhammad to insist that the Qur’an needs to be checked against the Bible (Surah 4:82).

The Origins of the supernatural Being which visited Muhammad
In Khadiyah’s favour it must be said that when she was unsure of the origins of the supernatural being which visited Muhammad frequently, she did some effort to test it. But she had insufficient biblical knowledge. Her strange concept of religion is best illustrated by the reported ‘test’ on her part. In his revised biography of Muhammad, Ibn Hischam describes the test: Khadiyah requested him to tell her when he sees Jibril. When he did this she told him to sit on her left lap. When Muhammad could still see him, he was asked to change to the right lap. When Jibril was still visible, she threw off her cloak. When Muhammad ‘entered her shift’ Jibril disappeared. This was to her the ‘proof’ that Jibril was indeed an angel and not Satan, with the implication that sex is sinful and that the ‘angel’ was sensitive enough to disappear. All the more it is tragic that Waraqah himself was not more discerning. Of course, we will never know what Waraqah's own knowledge of Scripture was like
People versed in the New Age movement have been pointing out that Muhammad was not the one and only person who thought that he had been visited by an angel of light. These supernatural beings sometimes purported to be Jesus or Paul. (The ‘angel’ Maroni who visited Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, is perhaps the best known in modern times). It is evident from the content of the revelations which Muhammad received, that especially the latter Qur’anic Jibril was not identical with the angel who had visited Mary and Elisabeth. That the first revelations were so close to Hebrew Scriptures prophecies is typical of how the enemy of souls tried to enslave his victims. He tried it with Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). Paul described it so aptly that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
It seems improbable that either Khadiyah or Waraqah bin Naufal were clearly aware of this biblical teaching to give Muhammad the appropriate correction. By contrast, Khadiyah and Waraqah encouraged him in his role as warner to the Arab people. In her view Muhammad was a divinely ordained prophet. Waraqah spoke about a Namus which he seemed to have regarded as the Holy Spirit. Waraqah possibly only possessed the Gospel to the Hebrews, which was a somewhat shortened version of the Gospel according to Matthew. That neither Waraqah nor Muhammad’s guardian Abu Talib became his followers, does say a lot.
Muhammad did however become aware of the possibility of Satan influencing revelations. A compromise with three gods of the Ka’ba had originally been included in the oral tradition. The Meccan controversy around the verses of Surah 53 which were purported to have been inspired by Satan, highlighted to him the issue, so that his followers were actually advised to confer with to the people of the Book - understood to be the Christians and Jews - in case of doubt (Surah 10:94,95). The problem was that there were not so many people around at that time who knew the content of the Bible. Evidently few were aware of the anathema, the curse on any message which was contrary to the original one which has been given, “even if it was brought by an angel” (Galatians 1:8,9). Of course, there was no Arabic translation of the scripture available for him and his followers to enable Waraqah to test the revelations. And even if that had been the case, the question still remains whether he would have known that every spirit had to be tested. It is clear that Muhammad was aware of the presence of evil spirits. The Qur’an itself attests to the fact that he was accused of being (demonically) possessed. His defence is not very impressive, merely stating that he was not ‘seized with madness’, he was but a warner (Surah 7:184); that he was not possessed ,’without doubt he saw him in the clear horizon’ (Surah 7:184). As we have seen, there is reason to doubt whether this supernatural being was indeed the angel Gabriel as Muhammad thought.

Equivalents of the Angel of Light
At least one early precedent is found in apocryphic/epigraphal literature where someone else appears in the likeness of an angel. We read in The Nazarene Gospel: ‘And John, the messenger of the Lord, in likeness of Gabriel which leadeth in the Last Days, came filled with the Holy Spirit... unto a virgin named Mary, a daughter of Aaron.’ In an article on the origin of Halloween which goes back thousands of years in Europe, Prof. Bruce L. Johnson points to the Satanic practice of changing his name. Ancient Celtic priests called Druids were heavily involved in occultic practices and sorcery. Their chief god was called Samhain, “lord of the dead.” Later in history, Samhain was given many other names, such as Pan, “god of death and darkness.” With regard to the changing of his name Johnson concludes: ‘Satan was Satan and still is Satan!
Knowledgable scholars like the Dutch theologian Martie Dieperink, who had dabbled in the occult herself before she was delivered through the liberating power of Jesus, have pointed out how ‘angels’ have come to people introducing themselves as Paul or even Jesus.

Compromises with the Occult
Ancestor worship and its corollary animism are nowhere only African phenomena. The ancient primal Druid priests lived in the European forests and worshipped nature and the “spirits” of the dead. They believed that by setting huge bonfires they were attracting spirits of the dead who had passed away the previous year. By incantations and magic rituals, these spirits would be drawn to the sacrificial fires and be released from their bondage during this one evening only. They would then be free to roam the countryside, doing either good deeds or taking revenge upon their enemies. By morning they were turned over to Samhain, their chief god, who would lead them away to his realm.
Centuries later, the Roman Catholic Church adopted a “holy evening” in May called “All Hallows Even,” which honoured dead saints of past church history. When the Romans conquered the Celts, the church attempted to counteract the pagan influence of the Druids, by moving their observance from May to November and calling this “All Saints Day,” a decree set down by Pope Gregory in the 8th century. This is one of the reasons why some Christians tend to associate Halloween with Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the pagan influence proved much too dominant. Thus, an “if-you-can’t-beat-’em, join-’em” attitude prevailed and “All Hallows Eve” turned into Halloween” ...and it has been going strong ever since. It has become a very special night for the witches, Satanists, and other occultic groups who worship Satan and the forces of Nature. More worldwide animal and human (yes, human!) sacrifices are recorded on Halloween night than on any other evening--and this includes the Western
The occult element, such as Muhammad’s fear of being demonically influenced after the first revelations, has sometimes been stressed too much because some writers evidently tried to blacken the great founder of Islam. This practice of defamation must be condemned completely. It is ethically despicable and totally unchristian. On the other hand, the occult influence on Muhammad has not received much attention by Islamic theologians. They were not helped by Sufism, where for example ‘pirs’ (holy men) were venerated to such an extent that research into the occult content of the worship of these saints could have been interpreted as sacrilege.

Muhammad as a Victim of the Occult It is nevertheless sad that Muhammad fell prey to the compromise with the occult through the retention of the big shrine at Mecca, the Ka’ba. The Ebionite Gospel’s clear intention was to denigrate the sacrifice cult. It seems as if this teaching came through clearly to the Ebionite Church and thus to Waraqah bin Naufal. Arnold Meyer pointed out that the Ebionite Gospel suggested that the mission of Jesus included the eradication of sacrifices ‘...und Gottes Zorn zu verkünden, der in der Zerstörung des Tempels sich entladen soll.’ Muhammad had evidently not recognised clearly that his compromise with the Ka’ba was tantamount to accepting idolatry. In fact, he participated in pagan practices like sleeping in the temple. Until today animist groups use trance-like conditions to get into demonic ecstasy or a condition to enable them to walk through fire without being burnt. Cape Muslims know the practice of Ratiep - which does not have the concerted support from the ulema (their clergy) because of its links to the Ahmeddya movement. People who got into such a trance have knives pierced through their bodies - without blood flowing. Unwittingly, Muhammad opened himself up to the demonic in this way. No wonder that many of his compatriots regarded him as demon-possessed. His own defence - for example Surah 81:22, 25 - is not terribly convincing. And (O people!) Your companion is not possessed... nor is it the word of an evil spirit accursed. In fact, it seems as Muhammad was not certain about Jibril himself. Not surprising, Yusuf Ali comments in the notes to his translation: ‘After describing the credentials of the Archangel Gabriel - of no archangel in the Bible this is done - the Text now appeals to the people to consider their own companion, the Prophet.’

Muhammad in need of proper guidance
It is likewise tragic that Muhammad was not helped for at least two years when he was so clearly Muhammad in need of proper guidance. We cannot put any blame on Khadiyah who can be regarded as more or less innocent in his continued deception. From Waraqah bin Naufal one could have expected more. Ibn Ishaq, one of the earliest biographers of Muhammad, had already pointed in Islamic theology to the three possibilities of demon possession: Experiences of suffocation, confusion and demonic influence. Muhammad displayed evidence of all three these conditions. With regard to the latter one and modern knowledge about demonic manifestations, Islamic theologians have to answer: Why have these facts been downplayed for so long? Thus millions have been kept in bondage for centuries, believing in the lie of an ‘angel’ Gabriel when Muhammad himself had his doubts? What is especially sad is that Islamic theologians who did see the light have not been allowed to speak their minds freely. Islam as a religion is unfavourable to all sorts of deep questioning.
After the three main influences in the Meccan part of his life had died in 619 C.E , it seems as if Muhammad lost his composure. Especially in the Medinan period, the proximity to the central Scriptures gradually decreased and autobiographical features filtered increasingly through into the revelations. According to Islamic tradition the original text of the Qur’an was reviewed seven times by ‘the angel Gabriel’. It is not clear how the various reviews influenced the proximity to Christian and Jewish Scriptures. It is striking though that the final review includes a consistent negation of everything pertaining to Jesus’ death on the cross although three references mention the death of Jesus. Thus also Hebrew Scriptures which could point to the atoning death of Jesus as the lamb of God, like the blood on the door-posts at the exodus out of Egypt or the serpent on the pole (Numbers 21:4ff) do not appear in the Qur’an. The only verse which alludes to the cross is a firm rebuttal of the claim that the Jews could have killed Jesus (Surah 4:157). A possible explanation for the disparity could be that Muhammad accepted the death of Jesus (more or less reticently?) in the Meccan period of his life and that the often quoted verse (4:157) followed the rejection by the Jews in Medina. It is indeed strange that the final revelation of the Qur’an does not include the equivalent of Yahweh once, whereas it is used in the Bible 6823 times.
After Muhammad’s differences with the Jews and the Christians, the charge also came that they had changed the Scriptures. It is a tragedy that in stead of loving correction and teaching, Muhammad experienced rejection and ridicule as the predominant experience from the side of the Christians and Jews. That Muhammad was quite ambitious, does not basically alter the issue in the light of Jesus’ example and teaching.

The Shrine Cult
From its very roots, Islam is steeped in the occult. From the beginning Muhammad understood that idolatry is sinful, but somehow he was not able to wean the pagan Meccans away from idolatry completely. A further complication had occurred already in the Meccan period. The city populace not only rejected his message, but they also persecuted Muhammad and his followers, even to the extent that they had to flee to Ethiopia in 615 C.E. A tragedy was that Muhammed finally basically settled for a compromise, albeit unwittingly. After he had become the undisputed leader of the Muslims in Medina, he came back to Mecca to destroy the idols of the Ka’ba. He evidently wanted to stress that his followers had to worship one supreme being. That was typified by the name Al-lah, which means one deity. This was to be the God of the Ka’ba., which Muhammad thought to be identical with Yahweh.
From the earliest times there had been West Semitic belief where every country had its special divinity, a Baal or an El. In Canaan the sacred tree was sometimes replaced by a wooden pole, an ashera, which was often erected near the altar. Similarly, the sacred stone could be a rocky ledge or a single stone, which became an object of worship.
Among the Arabs the stone cult survived with the various local divinities, worshipped by one or more tribes of the vicinity. The most famous of all the stone fetishes of Arabia is the black stone in the sanctuary of Mecca. Muhammad took the Ka’ba for his new religion, and made the pagan pilgrimage to this sacred place one of the pillars of Islam. For the Islamic pilgrimage, the annual cultic visit to the Ka’ba was combined to the visit to the nearby heights at Mina and Arafat. Muhammad included the circumambulations of the shrine in his pilgrimage. Its pagan occult content was further enshrined by the kissing of the black stone, which became a Hadith due to his example.
That Muhammad held on to the annual worship at the Ka’ba was basically idolatrous. Compare how the compromise of Solomon to worship on the heights in 1 Kings 3:3 was disapproved by God. It became the opening for the Israelites to back-slide into idolatry. The pagan worship in a shrine around a (black) stone was quite common for the region, but biblically outlawed. Klaus E. Müller, a German cultural historian, pointed to the similarity to the shrines at Ta’if and Petra. Also in other places the main goddess became more important than the male. This also happened in the church where the mother of Jesus was venerated into something like a goddess. The main gods of the Ka’ba were Hubal and his female counterpart Al-Lat. According to Epiphanius there was also a holy black stone in Petra. Eisler, another German cultural historian, suggests the veneration of the stone as the reason for the name of the city. In the centre of the cult around this stone, which was put in a shrine like the one in Mecca, there were the goddess Chaabu and the god Dusares. In fact: Suidas reports how there was a worship of Dusares in Petra ‘under the form of a cube of stone ... The term used in Petra must have referred to a stone block, the representative of some deity’. (Quoted from Toy, C.H.: Dusares. in Anthropological Essays... New York, 1909). Müller (p. 311) points furthermore to the evident similarity between Ka’ba and Chaabu. The word Ka’ba is feminine. ‘One may accept that also the black aerolith stone of Mecca was once the seat of the great goddess of Arabia.’
The centre of the cult seems to have been Ta’if at the time of the beginnings of Islam, where the goddess had a shrine which was also covered with a cloth like the Meccan Ka’ba, according to Ibn Habib. Al-Lat, al’-Uzza and Manat are also been described as Hubal’s daughters.
Following Pocock Gerhard Nehls suggests that Hubal is the equivalent of the Hebrew ha Baal which could be translated the Lord. His further deduction that it came from Moab (Numbers 25:1-3) makes a lot of theological sense. In that context it is narrated how the Lord’s anger is appeased after Pinehas had killed an Israelite and the woman with whom he had slept. The Moabite women had invited the men to the sacrifices to their gods, such as to the Baal of Peor.
The example of shrines originated in Jewry and the church where they should have known better. The intention was to venerate certain ‘holy’ people, but it was little more than ancestor worship. Biblical teaching is quite clear that the Jewish and Christian believers were not permitted to pray to the dead. It is possibly not completely incidental that brutal murders have become the order of the day in South Africa. The new democracy has upgraded ancestor worship, which is very strong in Kwazulu -Natal. The Christian leader of the IFP and the former national Minister of Home Affairs in the initial government of national unity, Dr Mangusuthu Buthelezi, has never denounced ancestor worship. That would would have been politically very inexpedient but the necessary thing to do. Alternately, the spirit of death may continue to sow havoc in that part of the country, in fact throughout the land.

One-sided and (Lack of proper) Academic Research
A tragic example of the suppression of vital information is the way in which theologians from different religious groups practised one-sided and (lack of proper) academic research. The polemics of negative reporting about the founder of Islam goes back many centuries. The converse: dishonest Islamic theologising on Christianity - also has a long history.
Muslim scholars have sometimes contributed to keep their followers in spiritual bondage by clear academic manipulation. Perhaps the best example in this regard is how they have latched on to the English translation of the spurious ‘Gospel of Barnabas’. Thus they usually conveniently fail to mention that the translators themselves did not regard it as a genuine work of Barnabas, the apostle. Various editions of this doubtful Gospel float around in the Islamic world with the omission of the critical introduction of Laura and Lonsdale Raggs, the translators.
Islamic academics have furthermore been found wanting to come up with clear proof that Mecca was indeed a trade centre at the time of Muhammad. For 30 years the challenge of Patricia Crone and Michael Cook has not been refuted. In their book they show a ‘Samaritan connection’, with the spiritual ancestor of Muslims imitating the biblical rival sanctuary at Shechem. Crone and Cook have for example pointed to the comparison of the Ka’ba to the pillar on which Abraham was supposed to have sacrificed his son; The Samaritans venerated the grave of Joseph (as opposed to Judah) as the major son of Jacob; In Islam Ishmael gets more prominence than Isaac. It is furthermore shown in their work that the hijra was the original point of departure of Islam. The called the followers of Muhammad correspondingly Mahgraye. The cue would thus be taken from the Israelite exodus from Egypt. After the example of the Samaritan contribution, when the submission to God by Abraham took over in importance, ‘islam’ was the watchword and hence the followers were called Muslims. The submission is typical of the slave, compared to being the son. This is apt to change when Muslims discover that they are also called to become sons and daughters of God, more than merely slaves.
Cathy Foster, SIM/AEF missionary who has worked in Durban for many years, has likewise worked extensively on the ‘Samaritan connection’. She suggests what a Samaritan could have said to a Jew: Our Religion is the original and true religion; We believe that God is one and that Moses is his prophet; We have the true Scripture, the Samaritan Pentateuch; We worship the God of Brahma in the Right Way and in the Right Place at Mount Gerazim, not in Jerusalem as you do; Our religion is the true religion. Aptly she suggests Samaritanism as a metaphor for Islam.
Crone and Cook also quoted extra-Islamic sources which contradict the traditional Islamic history with regard to Muhammad and Mecca. Archaeological evidence refers to the qibla (prayer direction) of ancient mosques - which were built long after Muhammad’s death - pointing to Jerusalem and not to Mecca. This is in conflict with the generally accepted theory that Muhammad changed the qibla already in 624 C.E., after his disputes with the Jews in Medina. Lack of proper media for communication could however have accounted for that.
Nevertheless, Islamic academics and archaeologists have a well-neigh insurmountable difficulty, for example to show even snippets of copies of early versions of the Qur’an to prove the historicity of much of its content. Uthman, the third caliph and his helpers evidently did a thorough job in destroying all other versions of the Qur’an which had been in circulation. The bickering among Jews and Christians about their scriptures was the purported bad example which Uthman wanted to avert.
I don’t want to suggest however that all the revelations of Muhammad were not authentic. In fact, there is such a consistency in the subtle denial of the cross that a supernatural conspiracy can be put forward as a serious hypothesis. What is fairly evident though is that the compilation of these supposed revelations gave rise to grave doubts with regard to their authenticity. The differences which came to the fore were after after all the reason why Uthman had the versions other than the one in the possession of Hafsa, one of Muhammad’s wives, destroyed.

Jeroboam as a Type of the Anti-Christ
The concept of compromise and disobedience is clearly demonstrated in the person of King Jeroboam. Under this King of Judah the place of worship was changed from Jerusalem to Bethel, as well as the date of his own choosing (1 Kings 12:32). 1 Kings 13 contains the narrative of ‘a man of God’ who came to Bethel from Judah. The deduction can definitely be made that this man of God was bowled over by a compromise, believing a message he perceived to have come from an angel. The unknown old prophet used a lie - that an angel had spoken to him - to let the man of God stray from single-minded obedience to Yahweh. This almost sounds like a fore-shadowing of what happened to Muhammad and a warning to every Christian not to be deceived by people who purport that God has told them this that or the other, especially when it differs from the scriptures. Paul, the apostle passed on a warning to that effect. Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you., let him be eternally condemned (Galatians 1:8)
1 Kings 12 and 13 typifies Jeroboam as a type of the anti Christ. King Jeroboam usurped authority through his rebellion against Rehobeam, the King of Judah. We are reminded that Jesus is called the lion of Judah, and that the adversary is referred to as a roaring lion in 1 Peter 5:8
The idolatry with two golden calves in Bethel and Dan were schemes based on Jeroboam’s fear that his followers might turn to the King of Juda. We know that the original place of worship was Jerusalem. This was the first move in changing the venue. The Samaritans made Mount Gerazim their supreme place of worship. Centuries later Muhammad changed the prayer direction and prime venue of worship to Mecca. That an angel had to be brought in to mislead the divine representative from Judah into disobedience, is very typical. We note that Jeroboam was not a rightful heir to the throne, opposing the house of David. He merely got to the throne because of Solomon’s idolatry. The church is only grafted into the olive tree, intended only to drive the natural olive tree, Israel to the lion of Judah, to Jesus. Josiah, the rightful heir and the descendant of David, would finally crush the idolatry instituted by Jeroboam. Both Muhammad and the church came up with religious practises which are basically idolatrous, in a spirit which opposes Jesus, the heir of David. It is surely neither incidental that the account of David in the Qur’an is ‘exceedingly meagre’ (Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p.71) nor that Josia and Jesus have the same root in Hebrew. Many of the ‘revelations’ of the Medinan Muhammad are so carnal that their origins can never be regarded as divine e.g Surah 33:50: “O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives...only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large)”.
A very special comparison between the ultimate work of Jesus is the judgement on Jeroboam. The man of God from Judah pronounced the splitting of the altar as a sign of the Lord (1 Kings 13:3). When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary the curtain in the temple tore town the middle. Paul interpreted this fact that the wall of partition, the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile has been rent asunder (Ephesians 2:14).
2 Kings 18:4 describes the worship of the snake made by Moses. This is typical of how idolatry works. What God had initially intended as a symbol to remind them of his sovereign intervention, was idolised. This also happened in the church. The copying of the shrines into the church could have come via the shrines around the snake cult. There was a well-developed snake cult in the area of the Jesides, including a procession with a snake in a holy casket. The snake symbolised their god. Müller suggests: ‘one may accept that the first purported Christian building to which the origins of the modern-day Say ‘Adi-Mausoleum can be traced, was erected on a cave shrine of the great goddess’. It does not look as if church leaders will muster the courage of King Hiskia in 2 Kings 18 to crush all modern symbols of idolatry of our day like cherished traditions, where founders of the respected churches are still idolised.

A Challenge to Muslim Academics
Muslim academics have a major challenge on their hands. The deception is still keeping millions in spiritual bondage. The best road seems to be to concede frankly that they and their ancestors have been deceived. On the long run, the truth will win the day. The sooner this happens, the better.
The appropriate parallel is how General Spinola shared the truth about the oppression in their colonies to the Portuguese people. This eventually led to the decolonisation of the Portuguese African territories. In South Africa leading (former) apartheid theologians paved the way to democratic change when they accepted that they have not only been misled, but that the church played a leading role in this diabolic deception. When figures like Professor Johan Heyns turned (his church) around after the general synod of 1986, the basis was laid for the Rustenburg confession in November 1990. At that occasion a Dutch Reformed Theologian, Professor Willie Jonker - who was however nowhere an apartheid ideologist - initiated the start of reconciliation through his candid confession. Even though there are still quite a few Afrikaners around whose eyes have yet to open to the demonic heresy of the policy which kept the races apart, an important start was made which eventually led to radical changes in South Africa.
It is now incumbent upon Muslim (and Jewish) academics to lead the millions around the world out of the massive deception through honest confessions of their helplessness on some issues in stead of waffling around unconvincingly. Brokers might still be needed as agents for this reconciliation, even if only to give protection to such Islamic theologians. We note in this regard how it was the gift of a big consignment of Bibles by Open Doors on the occasion of the millenium celebrations of the Russian Orthodox Church which gave Michael Gorbachov the initial push to go ahead with glasnost and perestroika, meaning respectively transparency and reforms. In a similar way, Ray Macaulay of the Rhema Christian Centre and Michael Cassidy of Africa Enterprise were God’s instruments to bring together the opposing parties when this country was heading towards the precipice of massive bloodshed, such as through the organisation of the Rustenberg conference in November 1990. If the extremist Islamists are not checked, more terrorist acts could follow which might dwarf the September eleventh event of 2001.

6. The Denial of the Cross

If we consider that the Cross and Resurrection is the single-most liberating act in the faith of Jesus followers, it should not be surprising to discover that the devil has a vested interest to keep people uninformed. I shall now try to show how the message of the Cross and Resurrection has been distorted, not only in the most holy book of Muslims, but also in traditions of the Church. The narratives of the crucifixion and death of Jesus belong to the best attested material in Scripture - corroborated by opposition pagan and Jewish sources. That the resurrection of Jesus is generally denied by Jews is well known, although it was not disputed in open debate in the first decade after the event. The rhetoric of Peter included the claim of the Cross and the resurrection , only weeks after the event (Acts 2:32). It was repeated shortly hereafter in the court appearance of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, without any refutation of the resurrection from the Jewish side. Although the different groups of first century Christians did differ on some doctrinal issues like the law and circumcision, their faith in the resurrection of the Master was unanimous. It could even be argued that the upheaval about the law, circumcision, festivals and Sabbaths was just a demonic ploy of ‘divide and rule’, a smokescreen to detract from the real issue, the Cross and the Resurrection. We note how secular historians like the first century Jew Josephus wrote about the events as a matter of course: ‘...for on the third day he appeared to them alive again, the inspired prophets having foretold this and countless other wonderful things about him.’

A Pointer to the Cross
Various narratives from the Hebrew Scriptures point to the cross of Calvary. We have already referred to Numbers 21 where it is narrated how the rebellious people complained about the manna and quails: ‘we detest this miserable food’ (v. 5). According to the biblical report the Lord then sent venomous serpents as a punishment. Hundreds were bitten by the snakes there in the desert. This was of course a reminder of the serpent in the Garden of Eden which twisted God’s Word, bringing Adam and Eve to disobedience. Satan was the hater of truth from the beginning (Genesis 3:1; John 8:44). That it had to be a snake was surely not incidental, a clear connection to man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Rashi, an 11th century Jewish sage, also noted this connection.
The Qur’an gives only a drastically abbreviated account of the events surrounding this narrative. The biblical sequence is followed in Surah 2 when the rebellion against the monotonous food is preceded by the divine instruction for Moses to produce water from the rock. But the gist of this narration is omitted in the Qur’an. God is angered when Moses strikes the rock, saying arrogantly: ‘must we bring water out of the rock? (Numbers 20:20). Moses was ordered to speak to the rock. Thus Moses became just as rebellious as the people, forfeiting entry into the promised land by his rash action. This highlights the central biblical tenet of rebellion and disobedience - next to idolatry - as things which are really abominable in God’s sight.
The Qur’an mentions that the Almighty instructed Moses to strike the rock (Surah 2:60), followed by the rebellion against having to eat one kind of food, the manna and quails. But the punishment - the venomous serpents and God’s provision with the brazen one - is omitted. The Bible describes the poisonous snakes as the divine chastisement. The Jewish view is aptly summarized by G. Foot Moore: ‘When the Israelites “looked upward” it was not the brazen serpent that healed... but when the Israelites looked upward and subjected their mind and will to their Father in heaven they were healed.’ It is actually surprising that the punishment for their rebellion is omitted in the Qur’an because this tenet - along with rewards - is quite central in Islamic theology. In what can almost be described as a demonic sinister supernatural conspiracy - namely the denial of the Cross – seems to me the logical explanation.
All of us, Muslims and Jews included, should think twice if we consider that Jesus referred to this example in the same context of John 3:16. This verse, which summarizes the message of the Gospel so pointedly, is naturally very difficult for Muslims and Jews to swallow because of the reference to Jesus as the only begotten son of God. It is definitely not incidental that Jesus repeats the words ‘whoever believes in Him’ in this context. Whoever from the ranks of the Israelites in the desert thought rationally that a bronze serpent could not save them, would have discovered to his own peril that it was silly to disregard Moses’ divinely commanded instruction.
Jesus said in so many words, that just as Moses lifted the snake on the pole, the Son of Man had to be elevated. The inference is clear. Just as the people were healed from the bites of the snakes, His death on the cross was the fulfilment of the crushing of the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). This prophetic act of Moses was special because this was actually in contrast to God’s own instruction not to make any images (Exodus 20:4). It was obviously the counter to Asherah poles and the likes which angered and provoked Yahweh so tremendously. In 1 Kings 18:19 we read how Elijah challenged the combined forces of the prophets of Baal and his female counterpart, the goddess Asherah. The Asherah poles were probably wooden representations of the goddess. I am not aware of another example in Scripture where God actually commanded the making of an image.
The Lord’s obedience - to become the snake, i.e. sin - was the perfect combination, the expression of God’s divine love to mankind, to allow his Son to die on the Cross of Calvary. An interesting verse in this regard is Habakkuk 3:13. Arthur Glass, a Messianic Jew, gave the following literal translation in a tract from the original Hebrew: ‘Thou wentest forth with the YESHA (variant of Yeshua) of (or for) thy people; with YESHUA, thy MESSIAH...; thou woundest the head of the house of the wicked one (Satan).’ The meaning of YESHUA, the Hebrew version of Jesus, is salvation.

Obedience as a central biblical Tenet
We have pointed out how the Qur’an missed out on the importance of obedience when Moses hit the rock in stead of speaking to it. We note how well Moses discerned that rebelliousness was the cause of God’s anger. He himself had almost become the victim of God’s wrath when he was rebellious, putting forward all sorts of excuses. The blood of his son appeased God’s anger (Exodus 4:24f). Thus Moses became a ‘bridegroom of blood’, a prophetic type of the atoning blood of Jesus for the sins of the world. In the creation story the disobedience to the divine instruction was the cause of the havoc. Disruption of the unity between man and God, discord between Adam and Eve and strife between man and nature (Genesis 3:15) were the result of man’s first act of disobedience. The basic enmity though is between the seed of the snake and the seed of man. A few more examples could be pointed out how disobedience to divine instructions caused men of God to fall. In the case of King Saul, his impatient disobedience even cost him the loss of his kingship (1 Samuel 13:13). Jonah received another chance after his initial disobedience. It is interesting to note that Jonah didn’t jump into the sea after he realised that his disobedience caused the storm the first time. Rightly baptism has been called a step of obedience. Even Jesus went to someone to baptise him.
Quite logically Paul saw Jesus as the second Adam. Where Adam failed through his disobedience, Jesus excelled in giving his all in obedience, even as the divine Son of God to be made sin for us. He was willing to take the cup, knowing full well what that entailed: Therefore he agonised, praying: ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ The letter to the Hebrews illustrate the relationship of suffering to obedience quite drastically. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
It seems that the centrality and importance of obedience in scripture is not being sufficiently appreciated in modern times. Somehow it seems as if we do not see any more how the rebellion and disobedience of the Israelites – typified by continued or repeated idolatry – angered God more than anything else. It was the rebellion and disobedience which disqualified Saul for kingship. The Saul syndrome – as Floyd McClung typifies this in his booklet The Father heart of God, has tragically been repeated in history again and again. Gifted people who started off with anointing, fell by the wayside. In the case of Saul his inferiority complex appears to have clouded his gifts, leading to jealousy. Similar traits can be discerned with Muhammad. After initially admiring the Jews, the pendulum swung over to hatred and resentment.
Disobedience hardly features in Islam in this sense. Slavish submission to Allah is required. Therefore it is not surprising that none of the above examples are found in the Qur’an.

Atonement through Blood
It is appropriate to take a quick look at a few other examples from the Pentateuch to see how the atoning death of Jesus had been divinely fore-shadowed. No clear reason is given in Scripture why the sacrifice of Abel was acceptable and that of Cain rejected. A logical explanation would be that the sacrifice of Cain was based not on blood but on his own sweat, his own effort. For the Western mind, the bloody aspect of slaughtering an innocent lamb might be abhorrent and difficult to fathom. Nevertheless, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, who was evidently very knowledgeable of the Jewish mind-set, gives us some insight of the fore-shadowing towards Christ. The Living Bible gives a very appropriate paraphrase of Hebrews 12:24 ‘ and to Jesus himself, who has brought us his wonderful new agreement; and to the sprinkled blood which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel’.

The blood on the door posts of the Israelites which saved them on the occasion of the exodus out of Egypt (Exodus 12:7ff) is a clear pointer to the idea of redemption. The same concept of the innocent suffering for the sins of others was depicted on the day of atonement: the sins of the people were put on the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:21). Also, in the same context Aaron, the high priest, makes atonement for the people. Sinners need someone else, a mediator, to atone for their sins. According to the 'NT' in general, and the letter to the Hebrews in particular, Jesus is this mediator. He is simultaneously seen as the high priest and the slaughtered animal. If we follow the exhortation of 1 John 1:9 to confess our sins, we may expect to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus which really purifies in a supernatural way; we can start anew. In fact, in the same context John writes: ‘and the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies of all sin’ (1 John 1:9).
Let all of us, along with Muslims and Jews, now take a good look at a few examples from the Torah which we all regard as common ground. The aspect of atonement is very central to the Scriptures of Christianity and Judaism. In Islam repentance and good deeds - coupled with Allah’s sovereign mercy and forgiveness - bring about atonement.
Islam does however possess the element of a ransom through the blood of a slaughtered animal with an atoning function. This is for example illustrated in the ritual of sheep slaughtering when a washing movement across the face is performed. This comes very close to Hebrews 9:22 which says very pointedly: ‘there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood’.
At the Jewish commemoration of the Passover the youngest son in the family is expected during the Seder meal to remind everybody present of the exodus from Egypt when a lamb had to be slaughtered. At the main Muslim celebration, Eid ul-Adha, sheep are sacrificed to remind the participants of the sacrifice of Abraham. Christians commemorate on Good Friday that Jesus is the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.
In the report of the flight out of Egypt the lamb to be slaughtered had to be without blemish. The letter to the Hebrews especially reminds us as Christians about this fact. Up to this day Muslims take great care that any animal to be used as a sacrifice must be perfect.
The Bible (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22) and the Qur’an (Surah 19:19) recognize that Jesus, whom John described as the Lamb of God, who takes away our sins (John 1:29,36), was the only person who never sinned. Jews have a major problem that a human sacrifice was needed as an atonement, to appease the wrath of God.
Peter and Paul, who were both steeped in the Torah, saw the aspect of atonement behind the death of Jesus. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:18,19 how this was a ransom, how we were bought free from the slavery of sin and Paul noted that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Paul furthermore reminded Christians that the Lord’s Supper should be a commemoration of Jesus’ death and that in Him we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (1 Corinthians 11:24; Colossians 1:14). 'NT' writers are unanimous with regard to the atoning blood of Jesus, shed on the cross of Calvary. But also the average Jew understood that there was ‘life in the blood’. Also John understood it as such, adding the attainment of eternal life to it, for example John 3:16. Appropriately the Living Bible translates 1 John 4:9 as ’God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal life through his death.’ Simultaneously, this also serves as a correction to the tradition of the forefathers, which brought over the idea that one could earn one’s way to heaven through good works. The latter notion is still alive in Islam (and in many churches) namely that good deeds can appease the wrath of God. Almost as a refrain it resounds in the Hebrew Scriptures that God is not primarily interested in outward sacrifices like fasts but in mercy (Hosea 6:6). God loves a contrite heart (Psalms 51: 16,17) and godly living (Isaiah 58:10-12), including the humane and compassionate life-style towards the poor and lowly. In Romans 12:1 Paul summarizes the consequence for the believer wonderfully. Not sacrifice of animals is required but ‘your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.

The Sprinkling of the Blood
The letter to the Hebrews has Jewish readers primarily in mind. In chapter 9 it refers succinctly to the blood of Jesus, the high priest of the new covenant. The essence is clear: ‘not... by...the blood of goats and calves; but ... by his own blood.’ (v.12). The relationship to the covenant is highlighted and the passage closes with Hebrew 9:22, which we have already quoted: ‘there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood’. The sprinkling of the blood has been connected to the sprinkling of water in infant baptism and covenant theology. The sprinkling of blood in Exodus 34: 8 was used as a sign of the covenant between God and the people with regard to ‘all the Lord’s words and laws’.
However, this is confusing because (infant) baptism is also seen as a sign of the covenant just as the circumcision was the sign of the covenant of faith with Abraham. It is disrespectful of a major Jewish tradition, to say the least, to substitute one of their cherished customs. By comparison: nobody would dare to suggest putting something else in the place of the Lord’s Supper which is the sign of the new covenant through Jesus. Or has this idea perhaps been inspired by Jesus’ statement that he gave a new law, that of love? The law as such was of course the sign of the covenant with Israel through Moses’ offices. Jesus clearly said that he came to fulfil the law, not to cancel it.
The covenant idea surely has some merit to motivate the christening of babies - with the blood being mentioned as a sign of the covenant. Hebrew 9:20 shows indeed that the blood of the covenant refers to the atoning aspect for the sins of the world. Jesus referred in the drinking of the wine in commemoration of his death at the last supper as ‘the blood of the new covenant (Mark 14:24). To link the circumcision ritual of Judaism to the shedding of Jesus' blood on the Cross is in my view already rather forced. Thus it is untenable to use the circumcision imagery in connection with infant baptism. It smacks of replacement theology whereby the church is deemed to have come in the place of Israel, a doctrine of which the church universal should repent. Paul has clearly taught that we as Gentile Christians are only grafted into the natural olive tree. Our main purpose in this regard is to make Jews jealous in the good sense of the word.
Paul handed down the connection in Colossians 2:11,12 as circumcision of the heart - which refers to repentance as a condition of salvation. Moses made it very clear that no uncircumcised people were to participate in the Passover . In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Jesus is being called our passover Lamb. Paul gave a slight variation of the term in the Hebrew Scriptures, where Jeremiah 4:4 also refers to repentance as circumcision of the heart. Deuteronomy 10:16 depicts the same idea: the stiff-necked unrepentant and rebellious people had to circumcise their hearts.
Hebrews 9:12-14 points to Jesus, our high priest, going into the Holy of Holies, to sprinkle his own blood. In this light, the comparison with the sprinkling of water during infant baptism becomes almost sacrilege. At the same time it is very disrespectful with regard to another Jewish custom in connection with Jom Kippur. The high priest performed this religious rite originally on the Day of Atonement until the destruction of the great temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The redeeming Death of Jesus divinely fore-shadowed
The sacrificial system in the Hebrew Scriptures was a type and a fore-shadow of the redemptive death of Christ. By offering the sacrifices ordained by God, one was able to obtain forgiveness from sin and iniquity through the death of a substitute life. Muslims remind themselves of the atoning aspect of the sacrifice at the sheep slaughtering ritual when they demonstrate it with a washing movement, using their hands across the face.

In the examples of Abel and the blood on the door posts at the exodus, the redeeming death of Jesus was divinely fore-shadowed. Furthermore, the colour of the soup with which Esau sold his right as the first born to Jacob, is specifically mentioned: red. That the Israelites were saved from the bondage going through the Red Sea, has some spiritual significance. Rahab, a harlot, who had to use a red chord as an indication to the spies which house was to be spared when Jericho would be destroyed (Joshua 2: 17ff,6:17). The Bible does not supply any reason why it had to be red, but it does state that through this chord, Rahab and her family were saved. Through her trepidation at the awesome Israelites - no, because of her faith in the God of Israel - her life and that of her family were spared. To crown it all, the Bible makes a point to note that she became an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Another female ancestor of our Lord mentioned in His genealogy, Tamar, uses a scarlet chord at the birth of Perez without any reason given for the choice of the colour.
Similarly, God gives the instruction in Numbers 19:2 that a red heifer without any blemish, which had not been yoked before, had to be used. We note how the ashes of the heifer serves ‘as a source.... for the removal (purification) of sin’ (v.9). It has universal connotations when one reads: ‘This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the aliens living among them’ (v.10). Paul highlights the connection in Colossians 1:20 where he states that peace with God is achieved through the blood of Jesus - John the Baptist and the author of the book of Revelations, called Jesus the Lamb of God. In typical fashion, the colour red is changed by the enemy. Thus we read in Jeremiah 10: 9 about idols being dressed up by the craftsman and goldsmith in blue and purple. It happens immediately after Yahweh is described as King of the nations (v.8). The inference is clear: the colours suggest an imitation of his royalty.
In the case of the heifer, not only the colour is striking, but also that it was not yoked before. The ass, on which Jesus entered Jerusalem, comes to mind. Similarly, it was one which has not been ridden before and the letter to the Hebrews as well as the first letter of Peter speaks of Jesus as the unblemished Lamb of God. Arthur Glass who comes from a Jewish background, has shown that Isaiah 62:11 includes the Jewish name (Yeshua) for Jesus. This is the parallel text to Zechariah 9:9 (Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion... ) which Matthew, the evangelist saw as the prophecy pertaining to Jesus on the ass. Isaiah 62:11 could thus be translated: ‘Behold Jehovah has proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, behold thy Yeshua (Jesus) cometh...’
We contrast the above with what the Qur’an says quite emphatically about the colour of the heifer to be used as a sacrifice. In Surah 2:67-71 a whole discussion is recorded about the heifer to be used as a sacrifice. This pericope does mention some similarities with the above: ‘a heifer not trained to till the soil or water the fields; sound and without blemish’. Two clear differences emerge with the biblical reference. The Qur’an quotes Moses as saying that the animal had to be ‘a fawn-coloured heifer, pure and rich in tone’ and that ‘they offered her ... not with good-will.’ Thus the biblical heifer which was given voluntarily, is contradicted as well as the colour red.
Another sad misinterpretation occurred with regard to the colour of the blood. Isaiah 1:18 refers in repetition to sin, and in both cases in the context of the remission of it: ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ The 'New Testament' shows how this cleansing happens: ‘...and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin...if we confess our sins, he ... will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:7-9).
It is significant that the Bible nowhere equated sin with the colour black, which happened all the more in church theology, where the devil became associated with that colour. But this is not biblical, although the inference can be understood where sinful deeds are associated with works of darkness and believers are challenged to walk in the light. The crooked teaching - directly and indirectly - resulted in people with a dark complexion being discriminated or looked down upon. In South Africa it had dire consequences when dark-skinned people hated themselves for the very reason and some Whites felt they were especially elected by God. At the Cape in colonial times, the price of a slave increased in proportion to a lighter complexion. In the Bible, black is mentioned with regard to mourning (Psalms 35:14; 38:7; 42:10; 43:2) and neutral as a colour for the darkening of clouds.

The Denial of Jesus' Death
I would like to put on record my viewpoint emphatically that the Meccan Surah's of the Qur’an did not clearly deny the death of Jesus by crucifixion. There are other Qur’anic verses which clearly refer to Jesus’ death. A single verse (Surah 4:157) in the Qur’an alludes to a denial of it. The Docetist doctrinal influence is all too obvious. Various Muslim authors have tried to explain the anomaly, for example by stating that the Qur’an merely wanted to make it clear that the Jews did not kill Jesus, that the Romans did it.
The distortion of Islamic theologians is nowhere more obvious than their commentary on the last phrase of Surah 4:157, namely about the Sabih or substitute of Jesus. Faris al-Qayrawani, an Arabic scholar, translated this part as follows:
‘Those who are at variance are in doubt regarding Him;
they have no knowledge of Him, except the following of
surmise; and they slew Him not of a certainty.’
Al-Qayrawani follows it up with a deduction which is so logical that it confounds one that Islamic theologians still flounder around with all sorts of other dubious explanations: ‘those who had no knowledge were the various Christian sects dispersed all over the Arabian Peninsula. It is true that the Qur’an was talking about the crucifixion of Jesus but at the same time it was reflecting the heretical religious movements and theological trends of that time.’
The confusing way in which Muslim scholars handled the verses about the death of Jesus (notably Surah 3:55 and 19:33) is summarised by Faris al-Qayrawani: 'The contradictory opinions and interpretations have only created more confusion... These expositors and narrators held noted academic status in Islamic history and were frequently quoted by students of religion and researchers. Thus these contrasting speculations only increase the objective Muslim’s bewilderment and fill him with agonizing frustration.’

Qur'anic Omission of the Cross and Resurrection
It is definitely more than mere co-incidence that those portions from the Torah and Gospels which clearly refer or point to Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection are not found in the Islamic Scriptures. Yet, I would not like to suggest that those who were involved in the compilation of the Qur’anic revelations either did do it on purpose or the compilation was guided demonically. The omission of the Cross and Resurrection in the Qur'an is however so subtle that the most logical theory is to suspect that a force was at work which cannot stand the Cross and the blood of Jesus. The consistent omission of the Cross in the Qur’an is too obvious to be co-incidental (SEE BELOW). Because all possible conflicting versions of the Qur’an have been destroyed6 on the instructions of Uthmann, the third Kaliph - albeit with good intentions - we have no way of comparing the final review by the Qur’anic Gabriel with earlier readings. That there is only one clear denial and three references to the death of Jesus point to a spiritual force at work which denies the crucifixion, which came increasingly to the fore in the period after Muhammad’s death.

Jesus as the uniquely born
It is strange but not surprising that the Qur’an - with its relatively big amount of material on Moses plus its high regard of Jesus - does neither record the report of the brazen serpent in the desert (Numbers 21:4) nor does it include Jesus’ reference to it (John 3:13-18). Appropriately, the Living Bible translates: ‘As Moses lifted up the image of the bronze serpent... so I must be lifted up on a pole.’ John proceeds to describe Jesus in verse 16 as the uniquely born Son of God as the basis for salvation for everyone who believes in Him. The Greek word which he used - monogenes - occurs only rarely in the 'New Testament'. If you split the word monogenes etymologically, you get mono + genes, which means one of a kind. Thus John 3:16 possibly does not want to emphasize at all that Jesus was born as the biological son of God, but rather that God loved the world so much that he gave us His uniquely (one of a kind) born Son. John clearly intended to stress that Jesus was uniquely begotten and not that he was especially begotten by the virgin Mary. This is amplified by his use of the same word in John 1:14, speaking of the Word which ‘became flesh and made his dwelling among us (as) the One and Only who came from the Father.’
It is significant that the Septuagint, the Greek 3rd century B.C.E. translation of the OT, used this word - monogenes - in Genesis 22:1 for Isaac, the one and only son of Abraham, although it was assumed that Ishmael was still living. The early Christians obviously understood Isaac as the uniquely born son of the aged Abraham and Sarah whose bodies were as good as dead (Romans 4:17). Hebrews 11:17 uses the same adjective monogenes to stress that Isaac was the unique, one and only son of Abraham. This is the proper translation of the Hebrew word for one in Genesis 22:1, ‘yachid’, which means an indivisible unity, one who is unique. The verse speaks of Isaac as his monogenes, his unique son. This makes perfect sense because Ishmael was still alive.

A ‘Denial’ of the Cross in the Bible
As I shall point out later, Islam is not alone in its denial of the cross. The practice of all forms of Baptism in the church, which eradicates or lessens the visible demonstration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, may be one of the most conspicuous denials in this regard. Elements of Prosperity Theology and the Word of Faith movement are modern forms of the subtle denial of the cross, a refusal to accept poverty and innocent suffering as part of God’s way of moulding the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-3), of pruning the vine (John 15:2). I shall expound that a little more later.
A study of the Hebrew Scriptures' personalities which occur in the Qur’an, consistently shows how those elements which point to Jesus’ death and resurrection, are absent. Islam brought to a head what had happened in the church in the centuries before the religion took shape. That a denial of the cross is Satanic, is shown by the way in which Jesus emphatically rebuked Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’ (Matthew 16:23). The Master deemed it fit to counter the disciple in this way to make it plain to the disciples that the cross was imperative, part of the divine plan. This is doubly significant if we bear in mind that Peter had made his powerful confession of Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God possibly just prior to this (Matthew 16:16). Also John 12:23-27 makes it plain that the Master understood his mission of death and resurrection as obedience to the Father. Obviously the arch enemy wanted to cancel this.
The ‘denial’ of the cross thus also occurs in the Bible. When Peter opposed the suggestion of Jesus to be innocently killed in Jerusalem, he merely displayed the flesh in all of us, which wants to evade the cross and its ramifications. In fact, the Master unmasked any effort to evade the cross as demonic, by referring to Peter’s suggestion as inspired by Satan. Therefore Jesus followed it up with the recipe for his followers: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16:24-5). The most pointed travesty of this command was when a Christian leader incited his church people to take up the cross - and the sword - to kill Muslims and Jews. That happened at the start of the crusades 900 years ago.

The Cross in our Lives
One of the most explicit and yet neglected teachings of the 'NT' is the practical experience of the cross in our lives, for example how persecution and suffering can bring out the best in us. Peter mentions ‘the suffering of grief in all kinds of trials’ (1:6,7) positively. It operates like fire which purifies the silver and gold in the furnace (Malachi 3:3). Axel Kühner, a German pastor, relates the application of the work of a silver smith in a devotional book. The artisan had to watch the silver ore being burnt until the moment he would see his own image in the silver. In a similar way, suffering of all kinds moulds the believer to reflect the image of Jesus. Just as Christ suffered, we must ‘arm ourselves with the same attitude’ (1 Peter 4:1). We must be prepared for suffering and persecution. 1 Peter 5:10 gives the end result of the relative short period of suffering: The proof of the pudding is that we are enabled to love our enemies. Paul called the scars on his body - because of suffering as the result of persecution - ‘marks of Jesus’ (Galatians 6:17). Let us listen to the letter to the Hebrews in the relationship of suffering to obedience once again: ‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions ... to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his submission (Hebrews 5:7). The explanation of this difficult portion follows immediately afterwards: ‘he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him...Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
Jesus showed by his life-style that the teaching of ‘enemy love’ is not only theory. It has a deep meaning that the Master looked up to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1ff), the collaborator with the Roman oppressors. When everybody in Jewish society was condescendingly looking down on the mean tax-collectors, Jesus showed respect. When it was normal for a respectable Jew to despise the outcast Samaritans, the Master gave them dignity. (Compare John 8:48 to see how being a Samaritan was put on an equal footing with being possessed by demons.)
Corrie ten Boom became the ambassador of enemy love and forgiveness after her experience in the Ravensbrück Nazi concentration camp’, merely because their family had supported the persecuted Jews. Her sister Betsy said just before the death in the concentration camp: ‘Corrie, we must tell it to the people what we have learnt. They will listen to us because we have been here’.
To practise enemy love as a part of one’s life-style is not easy. Even among Jesus’ disciples there were those who had problems with His non-violent manner of doing things. Though Peter had heard the divine voice on the Mount, declaring Jesus as God’s Son in whom the Almighty was well pleased, he still protested fiercely when Jesus suggested that He would be killed (Matthew 16:23). How deep-rooted the problem was, is highlighted by Hans-Ruedi Weber: ‘Those who see John’s interpretation of the crucifixion as one of glorification overlook that John too had problems in fitting the repugnant event of the crucifixion into his theology. Significantly, in his crucifixion narrative, the verb ‘raise’ or the concept of exaltation does not appear.’

Further Denials of the Cross in the Qur’an
To illustrate some sentiments which are opposed to the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Qur’an, I give an example apiece from Moses and Abraham, two major Qur’anic prophets (apart from Muhammad). They are definitely not accidentally also the two prime Jewish personalities, the two main foci of Judaism.
Quite a few verses of the Qur’an refer to the confrontations of Moses and Pharaoh. All the more it is very astonishing that the Qur’anic narrative does not mention the tenth plague and the Passover. Pharaoh is depicted in the Bible as the mirror image of the enemy of souls. The devil opposes the believer. Egypt represents bondage in sin and Moses is God’s appointed deliverer, to lead His people from bondage and slavery. The context of Acts 7:37 is only one of many 'NT' indications that the early church regarded Jesus as the prophet to whom Moses was referring, the one who would be like him.
The Qur’an does speak of a great sign which Moses showed Pharaoh in Surah 79:20. But what this sign is, is not spelt out clearly. The Islamic sacred book does refer elsewhere (in Surah 17:101) to nine signs. Yusuf Ali, in his commentary on Surah 7:133, logically deduces these signs to be the nine plagues and then he enumerates them. They are similar to the plagues mentioned in the Bible. With some imagination it would not be too far-fetched to see the great sign of Surah 79:20 as the tenth plague. Jesus is interestingly also mentioned as a sign in Surah 43, in close proximity to the section 5 of Surah 43 where the signs (plagues) are being referred to a few times.
The Bible described the tenth plague as the death of the first born in all those houses where the blood of an unblemished lamb was not applied to the door-posts. Even if we would accept the great sign of Surah 79:20 as the tenth plague, the question would still remain why it had to be put in such an unclear way.
The death of the first (and last) born as an act of atonement is also depicted in 1 Kings 16:34 when King Hiel rebuilt Jericho, which had been cursed by Joshua. Thus the curse was lifted. Paul picked this up in 2 Corinthians 5:21 when he mentioned Jesus, ‘who had no sin to be sin for us’, becoming a curse himself (Galatians 3:14). He was paying the wages of sin, namely eternal damnation, to lift the curse so that the believer can have eternal life, by accepting his forgiveness in faith as a gift (Romans 6:23). Jesus was of course the unique, first and last born Son of God, bringing in a new dimension of the ‘first-born from among the dead’ (Colossians 1:15,18). Also for the Christian attitude to Islam this has a major implication. keeping in mind that millions have been deceived by an ‘angel’ who brought ‘another Gospel’ which denies the cross (Galatians 1:8). Our compassion for the millions who have thus been unwittingly brought under this curse, should lead us to prayer that the veil may be lifted, so that they might recognised that Jesus, the Son of God, is the real sacrifice, the real Korban and atonement who died also for their sins.

Jesus as a great sign
It is significant that the Qur’an refers to Jesus and his mother in Surah 23:50 as an ayatollah, a sign of Allah. Here the Qur’an is thus very close to the Bible. The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 says for example ‘ the Lord himself will give you as a sign. The virgin will be with child.’ The 'NT' picks up the theme when the shepherds hear about the baby who was born: ‘this shall be the sign’ (Luke 2:12). The illiterate shepherds might probably not have known the messianic significance of the fulfilment of the prophecy, but the old Simeon did. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that the baby child would be ‘a sign that will be spoken against’ (Luke 2:34). All this is found in the context of Luke 2. An indirect sign of judgement on the idolatry of Jeroboam, to which we have pointed as a type of the Antichrist, occurred when the altar was split in two (1 Kings 13:3). This could be interpreted as a pointer to the curtain in the temple, which was ripped in two when Jesus was crucified.
Isaiah 55:13 - in a messianic context - refers to the Sabbath as a sign. Ezekiel 20:12,13 does the same where verse 13 speaks of the desecration of the Sabbath. When Constantine effectively caused the change of the day of rest to Sunday, that was surely also such an act of desecration. Jan Amos Comenius, the Czech educator and theologian, challenged the church to erect signs to usher in the return of the King of Kings, the Messiah. Could a return of the church universal to the creation command - to rest on the seventh day - not be such a sign, erected to usher in the return of the bridegroom of the church? As impossible as it seems that this could ever happen, as powerful a sign it would be that the church is serious in its repentance and remorse about the damage which Constantine has done.
Jesus as a second Moses and God’s Lamb
The meal which had to be enjoyed in all haste prior to their flight from Egypt, became a water-shed event in Jewish history. The Passover , with the slaughtering of the lamb central to it, became a sacred institution of Judaism. The 'New Testament' regards Jesus not only as a second Moses, but also as God’s lamb. John described Jesus as the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29,36), and Paul also understood Him as such, describing Jesus as ‘our passover lamb’ (1 Corinthians 5:7), thus as a clear pointer to the saving blood of Jesus.
At the celebration of the Passover meal every semblance of yeast has to be removed from the houses. The matzos used are unleavened. One small piece of bread that contains yeast is hidden on purpose. Yeast is the image of sin in the Bible. Jesus gave his life voluntarily on the cross, so that every semblance of sin might be atoned for.
It is God’s provision when His people are being led out of bondage. The 'New Testament' equivalent to Egypt is the slavery of sin. Just like Moses who led the Israelites out of bondage, Jesus leads men and women out of the bondage of sin. Through faith in Him as our Saviour, we can move out in liberty. On that fateful night in Egypt, the blood on the door-posts was the guarantee of life. The angel of death passed over those houses where the blood of the lamb was applied to the door-posts. The blood thus had a salvation effect, a clear pointer to the blood of Jesus, shed on the Cross.
In the context of what we have said earlier about the conspiracy of the arch enemy who cannot stand the blood of Jesus, it is no wonder that the tenth plague, the death of the first born - the precursor to the Passover and a direct proto-type of Jesus’ atoning death - is not explicitly found in the Qur’an.

The tested Abraham
The other example of this almost sinister ‘conspiracy’ is taken from the life of Abraham. It is not difficult to imagine how Abraham wrestled with the divine command that He had to offer his only son as a sacrifice! (Genesis 22:1) It has been said that Abraham had cut himself off from his entire past when he left his homeland. And now he was tested and tried, to give up his entire future. He was asked to give up the child of his old age. Isaac is being called the only son although Ishmael was still alive. An apt comparison is John 3:16 where Jesus is called the only begotten son.
Genesis 22 says basically the same thing. It is significant that Isaac had been uniquely born: to parents whose bodies were sexually as good as dead. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews, used the rarely used word monogenes in his Greek rendering of the faith of Abraham in 11:17, the same word of John 3:16. It is interesting that the early Jewish Christians linked the report of Isaac going to Moriah with Jesus’ road to Calvary. In the Jonathan Midrash it has been suggested that Isaac carried the wood like someone would bear a cross.
The report of Genesis 22 where Abraham is called to sacrifice his son, contains the hope in the resurrection. Abraham told the servants: ‘we shall return to you’ (v.5). This was nothing else than faith, trust in God that He could bring his Son back to life. Abraham had concluded that if God could create his son out of nothing, out of their barren bodies, the Almighty could also raise him from the ashes. This would be a valid paraphrase of Romans 4:19-21.
The biblical record states that Abraham saw Moriah in the distance on ‘the third day’ (Genesis 22:4). The first generation of Christians were in complete agreement in their belief that Jesus was raised from the grave, that he arose on the third day. According to Genesis 22, Abraham commanded his servants to stay behind immediately after he had lifted his eyes on the third day. He would proceed further only with the lad. This could easily have been the crowning of his considerations, the moment when the resurrection faith broke through. To put it in the words of the Psalmist: He lifted his eyes unto the hills from where his help came (Psalms 121:1). Centuries later, Jesus requested his disciples to lift their eyes to see the harvest of Samaritans from the village of Sychar coming (John 4).
Abraham weighed things carefully until he came to the conclusion: the command to sacrifice the son could not be contrary to the earlier promise. Hadn’t he seen that God could raise life out of his and Sarah’s bodies which were as good as dead? So logically, why couldn’t He also raise Isaac back to life?
Even so, it is one thing to believe in theory. It is another to put your faith in practice. Abraham did just that as he commanded the servants to stay behind. God confirmed his step of faith after his vision on the third day.
Abraham and his resurrection faith gives hope to every believer. Even when circumstances look grim and completely without any hope, we are challenged to imitate Abraham’s faith. We may latch on to the fact that the Father in Heaven, who created Abraham and Sarah’s son so to speaks ex nihilo, out of nothing, is a specialist in doing the impossible. How tragic that the Qur’anic report (Surah 37) includes nothing of this resurrection faith of Abraham. (In fact, Islam substituted Isaac in their tradition. In spite of the fact that only the name of Isaac is mentioned in Surah 37 (and not Ishmael), Muslims believe that Ishmael was to be the sacrifice.
It is therefore not surprising that the Qur’an does not include Jesus’ prophecy of his death and resurrection as the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39; 16:4). Islam does not believe in Jesus’ resurrection on the third day, even though Muhammad defended the resurrection of the dead as such. Orthodox Islam teaches that God removed him from the cross supernaturally. As we have stated already, Muslims believe that Jesus will return one day, he will marry and get children to be finally buried in the empty grave next to that of Muhammad in Medina. This follows logically from the denial of Jesus’ death on the cross. This denial is not taught so clearly in the Qur’an itself, but all the more it is found in modern Islamic literature.

The negation of the Cross in Church Tradition
Various aspects of the application of the Cross - for example the crucified life of believers - could be mentioned which are negatively affected, sometimes even cancelled by church traditions. The evasion of persecution because of one’s faith and of innocent suffering for your beliefs, would be among the most important ones. Paul reprimanded the Galatian Christians who tried to lure new believers into avoiding persecution by compelling them to be circumcised (6:12).
The practice of all forms of Baptism in the church, which eradicate or lessen the visible demonstration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, would be another example of negation of the Cross. Romans 6:5 especially refers to the symbolic identification of the new believer with the death and resurrection of Jesus in the act of baptism. The symbolism is lost with any practice other than believers’ baptism by immersion. The aspect of obedience in faith must be stressed. Convenient baptism by immersion to be with the crowd - without a commitment to become a Jesus follower who is willing to deny himself and takes up his cross - is not good enough. This is also denial of the Cross.
Prior to the practice of mass baptism during and after the reign of Constantine, the step of baptism was also understood as a willing ‘taking up of the cross’, a preparedness to be persecuted for your faith. Thus John introduces himself in the book of Revelations, as ‘your brother and companion in the suffering’ (1:9). In fact, the whole Donatist discussion of the third century in North Africa was centred around the question whether Christians who had wilted under persecution could still be church officials after they had returned to the fold repentantly.
The arch enemy definitely succeeded in infiltrating the Christian camp through doubtful and unbiblical baptismal practices by the Great Church after and during the reign of Constantine. Hereafter the impression was spread that it was not needed any more to make a clear stand when one turns to Christ. The practice of ‘confirmation’ was a very poor replacement of the original commitment and confession of baptism by immersion as a step of obedience and a yes to self-denial. The sound teaching of confirmation classes that usually precedes the actual church service of consecration, is something on the other hand often lacking in the practice of baptism by immersion. Sometimes it is performed without a testimonies by those to be immersed.
There has hardly been any other tradition over which there had been so much dispute (even conflict) than around various issues around baptism. Both John the Baptist and Jesus had shown the way in John 3:27-30 and 4:1-3, by not allowing a rift to develop about the issue when their respective disciples were upset by rumours around baptism and ritual washings. Neither of them allowed a schism to develop between them because of this petty bickering.

The challenge to check baptismal practice
The challenge is put to all churches to check out whether their baptismal practice optimises the Gospel message of the Cross and the resurrection, including proper discipling of new believers to become followers of our Lord. If this is not the case, they could demonstrate their seriousness to get the cross in its rightful place, by changing the ceremony and practice in such a way that the core message of the Gospel is restored.
Every other tradition in the church where a clear witness is compromised, it is tantamount to a negation of the Cross. This occurs for example when convenient evasion or avoiding of persecution or ostracism is not clearly outlawed or when the church refrains from outreach - when the believers fail to spread the Gospel in a loving and meaningful way.
Then there is the crucifix, i.e. the symbol of the cross with the body of the deceased Jesus still hanging on it. This is a distorted representation of the Gospel message. The symbol of the early Christians was an empty cross. The death of Jesus and His resurrection belong together. If churches want to retain the crucifix, they should add the empty tomb to it.
Prosperity theology and its companion, the Word of Faith movement, are modern forms of the denial of the cross. In this theology suffering is made suspect such as when the ‘victim’ perceives to have received grace to accept his lot as a cross. To pray ‘thy will be done’ becomes lack of faith in the writings of some theologians from this part of the Church. With the knowledge that Jesus himself used these words on the eve of Calvary, it is clear that the Word of Faith theology needs urgent revision in this regard. The suffering and pain of the cross cannot be separated from the glory of the resurrection. (This should however not be interpreted as acquiescing in a negative way, not expecting signs and wonders at all).
Another major subtle denial of the Cross came via the ‘Toronto Blessing’. Not all practitioners are aware that the excessive ‘laughing in the spirit’ has a dangerous side to it. Many a church has actually lost its burden to spread the Gospel in the wake of the ‘Toronto Blessing’; internal bickering because of it resulted in many a fellowship to get scattered. This is definitely not the fruit of the Spirit. Weeping for the lost in stead of excessive laughing is perhaps more to the point. I am aware that this cannot be generalised, but it has been demonstrated time and again how the enemy can use even pious things to detract believers from the command to take up our cross in a biblical way. Similarly, being ‘slain in the spirit’ has been taken over too uncritically by many evangelical Christians. Have we noted that the enemies of Jesus fell backwards (for example John 18: 6) and that prostration and worshipping happens in the opposite direction? Sometimes being thus slain has even been equated to being converted. Also the fact that it often happens involuntarily - with the people concerned asked to close their eyes or are pushed slightly - should make us wary. Muhammad was also involuntarily thrown to the ground. We have shown why there can be hardly any doubt that the spirit which came to him must have an origin which opposes the Cross.

In stead of writing semi-academic lines in conclusion I wish to close this treatise with a letter to my fellow South African clergy siblings.

Dear Brethren and Sisters!
Since my return to the country in January 1992, after a self-imposed exile because of my (intended) marriage to a German and the prevailing South African laws, I experienced an increasing burden to challenge the church here at the Cape to take hands in erecting signs to usher in the return of the King of Kings, the Messiah. One such sign would be if church leaders, along with rank and file followers of Jesus, could pray and work together.
A credible confession and expression of regret in respect of our collective debt and guilt could be the start. In my informal studies I have not been able to discern prophetic correction when Constantine and his secular successors went overboard in their reforms. Are we prepared to learn from that? Better still if such a confession is followed by practical steps, ideally not implemented by a few individuals. A good example of such a step could be the ‘freedom dividend’ suggested by The Foundation for Church-led Restitution. To quote from the document: ‘By taking out an extra small mortgage on their houses, home owners are asked to donate this money into a national housing fund (administered and supported by the 5 major South African banks) to be used to provide assistance to poor South Africans in obtaining adequate housing.’ (See the appendix for the full document)
I do hope and pray that my remarks would not be interpreted as cheap criticism. I would like to exhort you to challenge the flocks and the constituencies under your care to take God’s Word seriously, to speak prophetically when biblical teachings are ignored. We have the sad heritage of a past where those in authority did not heed prophetic warnings. The Church should not allow this to deter her from continuing to articulate clearly what the Bible teaches at a time when a false reconciliation, a syncretism of all religions has become fashionable. I make no apology that the chapter on spiritual warfare is longer than any other one. The subject has been neglected for far too long.
Cape Evangelicals have been carrying wrist bands since 2001displaying 2 Chronicles 7:14. ‘If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray.. and turn from their wicked ways...’ We have prayed at different occasions, but hardly in a united way. But have we really humbled ourselves? I pray that the contents of the treatise you have just read will help to create an atmosphere conducive to express regret and humble contrition.
Are we prepared as the Body of Jesus Christ - across denominational and racial barriers, as well as those determined by countries of origin - to take a good look at the roots of the problems mentioned here and act upon it? The biblical route is remorse, confession, repentance and restitution. Remorse should be followed by concrete action. If we as Christians are prepared to uproot all traditions which have no biblical basis, I believe that we might find many Muslims (and Jews) prepared to follow and serve the biblical Jesus and ultimately the triune God of the Bible. I am reminded that a Soviet communist leader (possibly an atheist) said to Brother Andrew at dinner time during the Human Rights Conference in 1988: ‘If only we could go back to the simplicity of the faith as we have heard it from Moses and Jesus!'
I look forward to see a Church in our region operating in diversity but united in joint action, thus displaying into the spiritual realms the multi-faceted wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10), making an impact that would influence our continent and the world at large deeply on the long run.
God Bless you,
Ashley D.I. Cloete

Selected Bibliography
Abrahams, Israel - Pathways in Judaism, Cape Town Hebrew Congregation, 1968
Al-Qayrawani, Faris - Was Christ Really Crucified, Light of Life, Villach - Austria, 1994)
Ali, Yusuf - The Holy Qur’an, Islamic Propagation Centre, Lahore,1946
Andrae, T. - Mohammed, The man and his Faith, Arno Press, New York, 1979 (1936),
Andrew, Brother - For the Love of my Brothers, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, 1998
Barclay William, - 'New Testament' Words, SCM press, London, 1973
Beck, Hartmut - Brüder unter den Völkern, Verlag der Evang.-Lutheran Mission, Erlangen (Germany), 1981
Berger Klaus - Qumran und Jesus - Wahrheit unter Verschluss, Quell Verlag, Stuttgart, 1993,
Bornkamm, Günther - Jesus of Nasareth, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1969 (1960).
Braun, Rüdiger - Mohammed und die Christen im Zeitbild zeitgenssischer christlicher und muslimischen Apologeten, Erlanger Verlag, Neuendettelsau, 2004.
Chadwick Henry, The Early Church, Penguin, Harmondsworth (UK), 1988 (1967) Carrington, Philip – The Early Christian Church, Two Volumes, Cambridge University Press, 1957 Cloete, Ashley D.I, - A Goldmine of another sort (Unpublished manuscript)
- Pointers to Jesus (Unpublished manuscript)
- Spiritual Dynamics at the Cape (Unpublished manuscript)
- Roots of Islam (Unpublished manuscript)
- The spiritual Parents of Islam
Cohen, A. - Everyman’s Talmud, Dent and sons, 1971, London
Cohen, Chuck and Karen, The Roots of our Faith, Christian Friends of Israel, Jerusalem, 1982,
Cragg, Kenneth - The call of the Minaret, A Galaxy Book, New York (USA)1967 (1956)
Crone, Patricia and Cook, Michael - Hagarism, The Making of the Islamic world, ??, 1977
Du Plessis, J. - A History of Christian Mission in S.Africa,Facsimile Reprint, Struik,Cape Town, 1955 (1911)
Elphick, R and Giliomee, H - The Shaping of S.A. Society,1652-1840, Maskew Miller, Cape Town, 1989
Esack, Farid - Liberation and Pluralism in Islam, Oneworld, Oxford (UK), 1997
Eusebius, - The History of the Church, Penquin Books, London, 1989 (1965)
Gilchrist, John - The Christian Witness to Islam, Jesus to the Muslims, Benoni, 1988
- Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, Jesus to the Muslims, Benoni, 1986
Goldsmith, Martin - Islam and Christian Witness, Hodder Christian Paperbacks, London, 1982
Graves, Robert and Podro, Joshua , The Nazarene Gospel Restored, Cassel and Co. Ltd. London, 1953
Grubb Norman, Rees Howells Intercessor, Lutterworth, London, 1974
Haykal, Muhammad - The Life of Mohammed, North American Trust Publications, USA, 1976,
Hennecke, Edgar - Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, J.C.B. Mohr, Tübingen, 1964 (19040
Howard, George ‘The Gospel of the Ebionites’, in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, New York and Berlin 1988, Vol 2.25.6
Ishaq, Mohammed Ibn - The Life of Muhammad,(Translation. A. Guillaume), Oxford University Press, London, 1955
Johnstone, Patrick - Operation World, OM Publishing, Carlisle, 1993 and 2001
Klausener, Joseph - From Jesus to Paul, translated from Hebrew, Menorah Publishing Company, New York, 1979
Koch, Klaus -The article Das Lamm dass Ägypten vernichtet in Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 57 (1966)
König, A. (ed) - Infant Baptism, The Arguments for and against (Proceedings of a theological congress held at UNISA 3-5 October 1983), CUM Books, Roodepoort,
Kühner Axel - Überlebensgeschichten für jeden Tag, Aussaat und Schriftenmissions-Verlag, Neukirchen- Vluyn, 1991
King, Karen L. - What is Gnosticism?, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (USA), 2003
Küng, Hans - Judaism, SCM Press, London, 1992
Lambert, ??
Malick, Faisal - Here comes Ishmael, Guardian Books, Belleville,Ontario, Canada, 2005
Maccoby, Hyam, - Revolution in Judaea, (Ocean books, London, 1973), p. 237
Moore, G. Foot - Judaism, Vol. 2 Harvard University Press, Cambridge (USA), 1927
Müller, Klaus E. - Kulturhistorische Studien zur Genese Pseudo-Islamischer Sektengebilde in Vorderasien: Franz Steiner Verlag,, Wiesbaden, 1967
Musk Bill A. - Touching the Soul of Islam - Sharing the gospel in Muslim cultures, Marc, East Sussex, 1995
Naudé, J.A., Van Selms, A and Jonker, W.D.
- In Gesprek met Islam oor die Moslem Belydenis, Bloemfontein, 1974
Nehls, Gerhard - Premises and Principles of Muslim Evangelism, Bombay (India), 1991
Neill, Stephen, - Christianity and other faiths, 1961
Parrinder, Geoffrey - Jesus in the Quran, Sheldon Press, London, 1979 (1965)
Parshall, Phil - New Paths in Muslim Evangelism, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids (USA) , 1980
Schoeps, Hans Joachim - The Jewish Christian Argument, Faber and Faber, London, 1963
- Das Judenchristentum, A. Francke Verlag, Bern, 1964
Schumann, Olaf - Der Christus der Muslime, Güterloher Verlagshaus, Güterloh (Germany), 1975 p. 28
Subhan John A., Sufism: Its Saints and Shrines, Lucknow Publishing House, Lucknow, 1938
Silver Abba Hillel -Where Judaism differed, Macmillan, New York, 1976 (1956)
Sox, David – Relics and Shrines, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1985
Thomson, Ahmad - Blood in the Cross, Tatton Publishers, London, 1989
Vincent, Eileen – I will heal their land, Basingstroke (UK), 1986
Weber, Hans-Ruedi - The Cross, tradition and interpretation Kreuz Verlag, Stuttgart, 1975
Wessels, Anton - De Koran verstaan, Kampen (Netherlands), 1986




One of the most basic needs all people have is the need for adequate housing. This need finds acknowledgement in section 26 of the SA Constitution which states that everyone has the basic right to have access to adequate housing. For housing to be considered adequate, it has to be habitable because a home is more than just four walls and a roof. It is a whole life situation that gives people dignity, security and the opportunity to nurture relationships, invest in ones education and serves as a place for worship, dreams and play.

A very large portion of South African citizens (almost 10 million people) don’t have adequate housing and lack all the advantages attached to it. In fact, the official SA housing backlog is today higher than it ever was. This lack of adequate housing doesn’t bode well for the future of South Africa.

A small but very privileged section of the SA population (approximately 1 million people) own comfortable (even luxurious) houses. Some South Africans own even more than one house. In an extraordinary combination of circumstances (cf. the fluctuations of the Rand Dollar exchange rate and the official bank interest rates) the value of their houses more than doubled since 2002. Wealthy South African home owners received a remarkable and unexpected dividend on their houses during the past few years.

The huge contrast between the housing conditions of the millions of poor and the relatively few privileged South Africans is still one of the most striking features of the new South Africa. On many occasions Archbishop Tutu warned South Africans that the still existing (and growing) gap between rich and poor in South Africa serves as warning that all the progress made with reconciliation in the country can go up in flames if the needs of the poor and homeless are not addressed. Tutu continued by saying that wealthy South Africans need to be very careful that the poor and homeless don’t begin to ask: Where is the freedom dividend?

As a predominantly Christian country, most South Africans would be able to identify with Christ’s teachings that announced good news to the poor (cf. Luke 4:18-19) and that the faithful have a responsibility to ensure that there shall be good news for the poor. One of the ways for privileged South African Christians to ensure that this good news can become true for poor people is by the sharing of some of their material resources with the less fortunate (cf. recommendations to the faith community, final report, TRC).

The Foundation for Church-led Restitution would like to invite all South African home owners to participate in the bringing of good news to the poor. They can do this by sharing a certain percentage of the unexpected dividend on their houses with those that don’t have adequate housing in South Africa. By taking out an extra small mortgage on their houses, home owners are asked to donate this money into a national housing fund (administered and supported by the 5 major South African banks) to be used to provide assistance to poor South Africans in obtaining adequate housing. This housing fund will be known as the freedom dividend fund and should be interpreted by all South Africans as a freedom dividend bestowed upon poor South Africans in recognition of their right to also join in the privileges of the new democratic South Africa (cf. recommendations to the faith community, final report, TRC).

South Africans who don’t have decent housing and who are given the opportunity to obtain adequate housing, will feel that they have also benefited from the new South Africa and that they have also received a freedom dividend. Through bringing good news to the poor all South Africans can further progress on the road towards true reconciliation and the true healing of the nation. In a healed and reconciled South Africa all home owners will have further opportunities to receive further dividends in many other remarkable and unexpected ways.

The power of the Word

Some books had already been written in the 19th century, clearly exposing the deception of Islam. One of these was the two-volume work of C. Forster with the title Mahometism Unveiled (1829). Dr John Mühleissen Arnold had the third edition of an excellent scholarly book printed in 1876 along the same lines. Somehow the information did not become general knowledge, and the Islamic deception continued unabatedly. In fact, at the beginning of the third millennium, Islam was still expanding quite substantially worldwide - also in Southern Africa, and notably among the Blacks.
In an unpublished paper I have described the spread of Islam in the Western Cape as such.
Two Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) members, convicted for the murder of seven Blacks, based their defence during their trials on indoctrination by the sect. One of them explained: ‘... Blacks were animals of the field animals that looked like people ... it was therefore not a sin to kill Blacks.’ (Die Burger, 14 March 1991).
In recent years Rüdiger Braun, a German scholar, highlighted this connection in his thesis Mohammed und die Christen im Zeitbild zeitgenssischer christlicher und muslimischen Apologeten, (Neuendettelsau, 2004). In an excursion to his book The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a new source, Pines notes that the so-called Gospel of Barnabas - that is taken to have stemmed from an Italian Muslim hand - includes many Ebionite notions (cited by Braun, 2004:121). Pines apparently held it possible that the anonymous author could even have used an Ebionite source.
This seems to be the origin of transubstantiation, where some magical power was attached to the ringing of a bell at Holy Communion, when the wine was believed to turn into the blood of Christ. Apparently, without recognizing the connection to the teaching of the heretic Thomas Münzer, Martin Luther still defended the concept of transubstantiation. The German heretic suggested in a variation of the doctrine that souls would go to heaven the very moment the coin of the indulgence money would drop in the collection box.
from De catholicae ecclesia unitate, 4-6, Bettenson, 1967(1943):72f
I would like to emphasize that although i differed with my church leaders in the Moravian Church on this issue, I left of my own volition. I was offered another function where I would not have to christen infants.
Derived from crux (Latin) meaning cross.
In this chapter I only highlight the negatives involved. I treated the actual lessons in spiritual warfare when I showed how the Moravians implemented the principles during the lifetime of Count Zinzendorf and Bishop August Spangenberg.
History books in South Africa usually gave prominence to the reasons given in the manifest published in the Grahamstown Journal and written by Piet Retief, a Voortrekker leader. Andrew Ross showed conclusively how even Professor Macmillan, a top academic seemed to have missed that the equality of the races was the big driving force of Dr Philip and only in 1976 the UCT Prof Saunders rehabilitated James Read to some extent.
The bulk of the first British Settlers were unemployed redundant people and even the missionaries came from the lower classes of European Society with the exception of people like Dr van der Kemp and Dr Philip.
This special emissary of the Gospel, was possibly the most neglected figure in S.A. missionary history. Only in March 1976 the UCT historian Professor Christopher Saunders highlighted some of his contributions and feat in an article in the fairly unknown South African Outlook like pioneering the work among the Tswana tribe by taking along a few concerts from Bethelsdorp. Robert Moffat could successfully build on the sound foundation laid by Read and his team.
His father was executed by the Nazis at Auschwitz for being Jewish.
In the mid 1980s both WEC and Kruistochten changed their name, replacing the word crusade. In many countries the word crusade is still glibly used for evangelistic campaigns. Because of medical reasons Brother Andrew was ‘unfit’ for normal WEC International missionary work. For 18 years he defied the doctors, often experiencing excruciating back pain, pioneering Open Doors in the process.
In the 1950s Christy Wilson, an American, went to live in Afghanistan. He believed that he could have an impact for Christ in that country just by being there and watching for opportunities. Before long he and other Christians who came to work in Kabul, started a house church.
The Dutch branch of this international agency was the avante garde in removing the word crusade from its name. Under their leader Jan Kits (jr.), they called themselves initially Instituut voor Evangelisatie and later Agápe. Internationally, the movement retained the name Campus Crusade for Christ.
The supernatural intervention by God in the run-up to the miraculous elections in April 1994 is beautifully described in Cassidy, Michael: A Witness for Ever, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1995
There were isolated cases were before this like the ‘Coloured’ Moravian from the Cape Rev. D.S. Kroneberg, who was ready to go to East Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, Julia Forgus of the Baptist Union who wanted to go to India or Shadrach Maloka an evangelist of the Dorothea Mission. Before the terminology of short term became common, other believers ministered overseas from a denominational base.
This is his adopted pseudonym, with which he became widely known around the world in later years.
The author of the novel Satanic Verses had to go in hiding for intimating that Satan revealed certain verses to Muhammad. This is in spite of biographies of Muhammad, which also refer to demonic inspiration of these verses, which amounted to a concession to Meccan idolaters of the early 7th century.
Quoted by Elbourne (1992:14f). from Periodical Accounts II, p.368
From that saga Noma-India Mfeketo became prominent in later years as the Metropolitan mayor of Cape Town in the new millennium.
The language had been born in Bo-Kaap as a slave version of Dutch and bred in Paarl by Ds S.J du Toit and his Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners.
The worst example in this regard is perhaps the selective publication in the mid-1990s of portions of the Qur'an in Zulu, purported to be Part One. Part 2 will almost certainly never be printed.
It went into its 24th printing by April 2006.

A similar confusion is also found in Surah 19:28 where Mary is called the sister of Aaron.
We shall examine this tenet more fully in the next chapter
Some of them retreated to a new town in the Northern Cape that was called Orania.
This can be found in the study I called Pointers to Jesus.
A few people were raised from the dead, but they died subsequently.
This is one of the few Islamic tenets that I have not found in heretical Christianity. I have examined this in Roots of Islam.


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