Reforming Radical Islam?



(The FreeThinking Theist)


November 2, 2017

This past October 31st marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation sparked by Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door at the Church in Wittenberg. Luther realized that the church had completely “gone off the rails” and was not in line with the original teaching of Christ found in the New Testament. He demanded a reformation back to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This past October 31st was also marred by an Islamic terror attack in New York City. The 29-year-old Muslim from Uzbekistan claimed to be acting in the name of ISIS and murdered many civilians in NYC by mowing them down with a truck while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (See Muhammad’s War Cry). The following morning many talking heads asked how this so-called “lone wolf” became “radicalized,” and others began calling for “Islamic reform” just as Martin Luther called for in Christianity 500 years ago.

Radical Islam

When one hears another referring to “radical Islam,” “radical Christianity,”  “radical atheism,” or “radical whatever,” a question must immediately be raised: “What do you mean by ‘radical’?” After a quick Google search,

To radicalize people is to cause a shift in their beliefs. . .


… to make people accept new and different ideas, especially ideas about complete social and political change.

With these definitions in mind, radicalization is about beliefs and ideas. As I have previously written, “Ideas Have Consequences.” However, this idealogical “shift” raises another question: “What end of the spectrum do ‘radicalized muslims’ gravitate toward?” That is to say, do radicalized muslims who are committing mass-murder gravitate to a belief that Islam is true and that Allah really spoke through Mohammad, or do they gravitate to the end of the other side of the spectrum, and simply think Islam is nothing but a “family tradition,” but it is not really true, or at least that the words of Mohammad do not have to be taken too seriously?

If it is the former, then a radicalized Muslim who engages in Jihad and mass-murder is nothing but a consistent Muslim — since they are acting upon the final commands of Mohammad. If a Muslim disagrees with Jihad terrorism, then they also disagree with Mohammad. If one is at odds with the teachings of Mohammad, then they are only Muslim in name only. They are not really Muslim.

Dr. David Wood has explained exactly how Muslims become “radicalized” and transformed into terrorists bent on killing anyone who is not a Muslim in the “Jihad Triangle.” Most Muslims are peaceful (thank God), but this is because they lack one of three essential ingredients that a seemingly “good” and consistent Muslim ought to possess:

1- Belief
2- Knowledge
3- Obedience

The foundation of the Triangle of Jihad is a simple belief that Islam is true. This belief does not have to be justified as one can hold this belief merely because their father told them that “there is no God but Allah.” This foundation is not sufficient for Jihad, but it is a necessary condition and provides the foundation for two other necessary components of terror.

The second part of this triangle is knowledge. That is, the individual believes that Islam is true and now they study the Qu’ran and the Hadith to understand exactly what Mohammad taught and commanded. Basically, this is an educated Islamic believer.

The final part of the triangle of jihad is obedience. An educated Islamic believer who has reached the decision that they ought to be obedient to Allah’s prophet is one who everyone should fear! This individual believes that Islam is true, understands that Mohammad commanded Muslims to kill everyone who is not a Muslim, and believes he should obey Mohammad’s teachings, and thus, is committed to killing you!

With this in mind, a “radicalized Muslim” is simply a consistent Muslim who is acting upon ideas that he sincerely believes are true.

Islamic Reform vs Christian Reform

With this in mind, when talking heads note the Protestant Reformation of Christianity 500 years ago and exclaim that the same thing can be done in Islam, they are simply confused. In fact, it is simply ignorant to call for the same kind of reform in the Islamic community. Moreover, calling for this kind of reform is quite dangerous and the worst thing the non-Muslim world could support. This is because Christianity is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Islam is based on the commands of Mohammad. The ideas of Jesus and Mohammad are anything but equal.

Martin Luther referenced the Law of Christ in the New Testament and noted how the church was not consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Luther demanded consistency. However, if a Muslim nails his “95 Theses” to the door of a Mosque and calls for “reform” in Islam by demanding that all followers of Mohammad should act consistently with the teachings of Mohammad, then these “good” Muslims will try to kill you!

A Muslim could call for a different kind of “radicalization” and “reform” and call for a move away from the teachings of Mohammad. But if Muslims are not following Mohammad, can they still rightly be called “Muslims?” They might as well become Christians if they are going to “love their enemies” as Jesus Christ commanded (Matthew 5:44) instead of “killing all the infidels” as Mohammad commanded (Quran 2:191; 9:5; 9:73; 9:123, etc.)!

How to Win the War

The battle against Islamic Jihad will not be won with force. That is to say, bombings, bullets, and boots on the ground are not what will ultimately bring Islamic terror to an end. This is a war that will be won or lost on the battlefront of apologetics. This is primarily regarding the battle of the mind!

Apologists today who are interacting directly with Muslims and showing these confused souls that the teachings of Mohammad are false are also the ones who are leading these individuals to become Christ followers instead. Apologists like Mike Licona, William Lane Craig, and David Wood are leading the way and seeing many people who were raised in Islam become “former Muslims” and convert to following Christ. The most prominent example of this is in regard to the late Nabeel Qureshi, who went on to lead many others who were formerly following Mohammad to follow Christ instead.

When anyone is committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ, then they will also be committed to loving all people, from their neighbors to those who consider them as enemies. Can you imagine if all people chose to love all people just as Jesus commanded (Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39)? That sounds like heaven to me!

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton

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About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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