Prophet, Lunatic, or Liar
There’s a great elephant roaming the living room of western civilization. All the western family is gathered in that living room and cocktails are being served, but the elephant, although perfectly obvious, is being perfectly ignored. That elephant is Islam.
Incidences like the Fort Hood massacre happen, yet official reports omit explanative terms relating to motive, like “Islamicist” or “Jihadist”. Riots occur with frightening regularity in Muslim neighborhoods in European cities, and all we hear about are “disgruntled youth” or “unemployed youth”. Despite rioters’ cries of “Allahu Akbar” (translation: God is the Greatest), the media is loathed to mention Islam.
Then, there’s a long historical record of anti-Semitism in Islamic cultures, yet all we hear by way of explanation from the media (and higher education, and governments, and the entertainment industry, and etc.) is that the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding in 1948 caused all the Muslim animosity toward the Jews. Helen Thomas, that washed up old crackpot, was still lucid enough to express a commonly held misperception in western circles . . . that only if the Jews left Israel and went back to Germany and Poland, everything would be hunky dory. Never-ever should one propose the hypothesis that Islam is anti-Semitic. Such a hypothesis should never-ever be subject to inquiry. Its mere mention . . . well, it’s . . . it’s . . . it’s downright RACIST! Some things . . . like Islam for instance . . . are exempt from inquiry.
Hogwash! We were given by God an intellect for a reason. Our intellect is part of what make us created in the image and likeness of God. We can and should use it to seek truth . . . to investigate . . . to reason . . . to search for evidence scientific, historical, and philosophical . . . to build cases . . . to yearn to discern what God knows and what he equipped us to find out. Faith and reason were never meant to be at odds.
And, by no means am I suggesting that Islam be targeted and mercilessly ridiculed. Honest inquiry and ridicule are two very different things that have become confounded in our politically correct, western world. If the subject at hand (Islam, for example) is afforded any sort of victim status, then the pc world, in an Orwellian maneuver, equates inquiry with ridicule . . . hence, the racist meme.
So what’s the antidote for the pc juggernaut? It’s a combination of good, old fashioned resolve and a thick skin. Simply put, the pc version of reality must be jettisoned, and the accusations of racist must be summarily dismissed . . . one must develop an immunity to this cringe inducing blackjack of the progressives. It’s OK to honestly inquire. It’s OK to use your God-given faculties to discern truth.
And, I try to practice what I preach. I teach catechism to 9th and 10th graders in my parish. When I greet a new class each year, I challenge them right away: “Why are you here?” “Is there a God?” “Is Jesus Christ the Son of God or was he just a nice moral guy who had charisma and a way with words?” “Was Jesus a prophet who predicted the coming of Mohammed?” “Is reincarnation true?” Most of these questions are not at all novel among the 9th and 10th grade students. Most have thought these very thoughts or ones quite similar. After all, they have an intellect and they are naturally inclined to use it.
So then, the catechism class proceeds to inquire. Honest inquiry and debate are welcome. They aren’t portrayed as blasphemous. I build a case that God exists and we discuss the pros and cons of the arguments. Eventually, we approach Josh McDowell’s Trilemma, asking the following question concerning the person of Jesus Christ: “Was Christ Lord, lunatic, or liar?” McDowell’s Trilemma is a later version of C.S. Lewis’ character argument concerning Jesus Christ, simply put as, “Jesus Christ was either God or bad man.” We then make the case as if we were in a court of law. All evidence is used, biblical, historical, archeological, scientific. We are inquirers with inquiring minds who are on an honest search for truth. Let the chips fall where they may.
This same approach, however, does not seem to be a welcome idea among many Muslims. Proposing a Trilemma about Mohammad (i.e. “Was he prophet, lunatic, or liar?”) may be considered un-Islamic. Even drawing a nice picture of Mohammed is considered anathema among many Muslims. How much more so would a Trilemma sort of inquiry be considered an unforgivable affront? In fact, in many Muslim countries in the world, conversion from Islam is punishable by death . . . that sends a clear message that honest inquiry, which is integral to a conversion experience, is not welcome.
Here in western civilization we are expected to mill about our collective living room, sipping our cocktails whilst an elephant wanders about ignored largely out of fear. The elephant tramples some of the fine furniture and might even crush a guest or two, but no one dares mention its burgeoning presence. Islam is a growing religion in the west. Mosques are going up faster than Walmarts. Colleges are abandoning their dedication to the “separation of church and state” and are building foot baths in public bathrooms to accommodate Muslim students. Cutting edge Comedy Central cows to jihadist threats and censors South Park. Innocent men, women, and children lose their lives in terrorist acts, and the last human utterance they hear before death is “God is the Greatest” (Allahu Akbar). Jews in several Muslim nations are regularly referred to as pigs and dogs; even their children’s TV shows include such references. Israel as a Jewish nation is regularly threatened with annihilation, not so much on political grounds as on religious ones.
The elephant in the room is here. He’s big and he means business. Islam is the elephant in the living room of western civilization. The religion was founded by Mohammad. Either he was what he said he was, The Prophet, or he was a lunatic or a liar or some combination of lunatic and liar. If that Trilemma argument can be fairly applied to Jesus Christ, then it can be fairly applied to Mohammad. This is exactly the debate that needs doing. It isn’t blasphemy. It’s the just application of our God-given intellect.
By no means do I have all the answers to all the questions. But, I am slowly and surely inquiring. I want the truth because in the truth we will find real progress and genuine freedom. To ignore that elephant in the living room of western civilization is the first fatal step in cultural suicide. As you sip your Manhattan and fret about American hegemony, an elephant saunters your way. Better take notice of it right away, and second, inquire about it.