I admit that I presented a weak argument with that statement, but I still stand by the idea that a religion established on falsehood cannot have a hold over a billion followers for this long, without a good chunk of its followers noticing that something is very wrong.
Couldn't it be argued that this is exactly what happened in the Ridda wars? As I understand them, after the death of Muhammad, many of the Arabs said that they had believed in him and his prophethood, but had not submitted to Abu Bakr, and so went along their way with their own self-proclaimed prophets in their particular regions (Musaylima in Arabia proper, Laqit Bin Malik in Oman, etc). These were a lot of the Muslim world at the time, no? And also, looked at from this perspective, Muhammad can be seen as one of many prophets, who happened to be particularly successful in having his own prophethood established...and the religion that followed was subsequently asserted by force (hence the "war" part of the Ridda wars).
The Qur'an itself says that truth lives on, and that falsehood is bound to perish, sooner or later.
An idea that I agree with, but even in your writing above, there is no time limit on when this should happen. Islam is a particularly successful false religion, whereas others have proven to be less resilient (you don't hear so much about Manicheans these days, for instance). But they will all eventually be gone.
In the same way that Eastern Christianity has a long line of witnesses, martyrs, and saints to attest to the truth of its doctrine, Islam has similar figures in its history as well - Imam Ghazali being the biggest example. I have yet to see anything of that sort amongst Mormons or the Bahais, for instance.
Probably the Mormons and the Bahais themselves would have a thing or two to say about that (particularly the Bahais, as they are still subject to discrimination in many places). I know that the Mormons also consider Joseph Smith, their prophet, to be a martyr, on account of his being murdered by a mob. I don't get it, either, but the examples are still there. (Mormonism, by the way, would be an example of one such religion that may seem obviously false to you or I, but is nonetheless growing and has over 14 million people in today).
As for those Christian heresies you mentioned - sure, they're still around, but their presence and influence is very minimal, at best, and they'll probably die out in a few generations.
I don't think so, actually. I would hope so, but there is a certain fascination with heresy in today's Western cultures that takes those evils of the past and reinvents them as brave theological stances that just happened to not have the power of empire behind them. I would say instead that in addition to the established churches or congregations that have embraced the rebirths of particular heresies (e.g., Seventh Day Adventists, Oneness Pentecostals, etc. Pentecostalism, by the way, is by many accounts the fastest growing religion in the world, though not always of the "oneness" variety), the more dangerous and realistic picture of modern Christianity in the world is that many who are not
in these organizations nonetheless find themselves influenced by such ideas. See, for instance, Presbyterian
pastor Philip J. Lee's 1993 book "Against the Protestant Gnostics".
Protestant Christianity is doing a good enough job as it is destroying itself, and I'll leave it at that.
Yes, but to be replaced by what? That's kind of my point: The error itself does not actually leave. It just changes congregational or philosophical labels. As an example, at its inception, I sincerely doubt that there would have been many Episcopal bishops who would deny central tenants of Christianity as a modern bishop like John Shelby Sprong has, who has advocated that Christianity move away from "theism" (somehow). Now all of this "spiritual, but not religious" hooey is so popular these days so as to make anyone who actually identifies with a nameable organization seem like a thawed-out caveman (at least in the West). But have the errors themselves actually been stopped? No. Just the numbers who identify with said errors via a particular conventionalized label have gone down in recent years. That has nothing to do with the defeat of falsehood itself.
One of the strongest claims made against Islam is that its of the devil or the religion of anti-Christ - I do not believe that Almighty God, in His Mercy and Justice, would allow an evil, false religion from Satan to come to the position that it has, and have so many sincere, well meaning people deluded. I do not deny in any way that there are serious problems with Muslims and throughout the Muslim world, but I don't think outright dismissal of Islam is entirely prudent either.
As I wrote earlier in response to similar thinking in your last post regarding this, why is it that this should reflect poorly on God, and not on those who have willing chosen to follow something else? I would think that for you as a Muslim, this line of thinking would be clear. "Guide us to the Straight Path, the path of those whom Your blessings are upon, not of those who You have cursed nor of those who have gone astray", right? Does the fact that there are so many people who have been cursed or who have gone astray (according to the Islamic view) have any impact on God whatsoever? Or is it those people who have done that?
We have similar prayers in our religion, by the way. "Let God arise, and let all His enemies be scattered, and let all who hate His holy name flee from before His face" -- again, nothing about the fact that such people exist, and even endure or prosper, says anything about either the truth of whatever else they're doing, or even hints at the idea of their existence or prosperity being against the will of God. The Psalms especially are full of heart-wrenching pleas that enemies continue to prosper as the righteous suffer, but in the end we recognize that God extends His mercy upon the wicked and the righteous alike.
But a cursory look at the Quran would even show that such issues relate to a very small percentage of the text - the topic that the Qur'an talks about the most is Judgment Day and the Hereafter, moreso than any other religious scripture.
An interesting comment. I wonder if you would share with me your opinion on the thoughts of Bahraini intellectual Dhiyaa al-Musawi who is of the opinion that the focus on judgment ignores the balance found in the Qur'an
. Is this a mischaracterization, in your view?
I myself am trying to learn and understand more, and that is why one of the reasons why I joined these boards. I have a strong appreciation for the Eastern Christian tradition, and I don't think enmity and conflict between Muslims and Christians in today's day age is morally acceptable. I'm sure many of you have had negative experiences with fellow Christians, and in my case, I have many problems with the state of Muslims today. But if I had based my own faith on the behavior of other people, I would have left Islam a hundred times over.
Yes, of course. But from the Christian side it is not about whether or not we can relegate the behavior to that of a few bad apples or not, so that's kind of a misdirect. It is the essential connection between what people do and what they believe that is much more important. So when my kind and loving Muslim friends say that their Islam makes them kind and loving, I believe them (in so far as it is not my job to pick apart anyone else's stated motivation for living, and besides I would naturally rather they be that way than not; who but a psychopath can be friends with another psychopath?). Likewise, when your co-religionsts burn down our churches, destroy our monasteries, kill our people, kidnap our daughters, force our families off their land with threats of extermination, etc. and say that they are doing it all in accordance with or by direction from Islam, I believe them, too. I'm not a Muslim either way, so in that sense it doesn't even matter to me. What does matter is that Islam does not seem to have agape
, and so our relations will always be context-dependent and limited in this way (and not because we want them that way). And so long as our mutually exclusive religious claims lead one side or the other to physically, legally, emotionally, etc. oppress, harm, marginalize, and attempt to exterminate the other, it won't really matter to me if the particular actions are committed by 0.00010% or 1% or 10% of the people claiming a particular religion. It is the actions that are wrong, springing from a wrong mentality, and in the case of Islam, shaped and codified by a wrong religion.