Abraham's Tent

A SMOTJ Web Magazine

Letters to the Editor

Members of the Grand Priory are encouraged to send in letters, discussing articles that appear in "Abraham’s Tent” or contribute observations dealing with a better understanding of the three great monotheistic religions as they impact Christians in the Holy Land. As an Order, we are singularly blessed with a wide-ranging knowledge of this subject and the “Letters” section may prove as valuable as many of the articles that appear, dealing with this subject.

("Abraham’s Tent" reserves the right to edit all correspondence, in keeping with the nature and direction of the magazine).


Confronting ISIS

by John Sandoz

The extreme and brutal narrative at the heart of (the ISIS Jihadi-Salafism) evil must be countered by a competing narrative that draws on the transcendent beliefs of the Abrahamic traditions. This Fatwa must be challenged and countered on a spiritual level that mobilizes the faith and unites the resistance of those groups ISIS seeks to destroy.

Confronting the brutality of ISIS, which claims to be serving God, requires widely publicized counter narratives to its “battle orders;” narratives that reinforce this violence, especially toward innocent communities, is not of God, “the Compassionate,” but of Satan who seeks to kill and destroy. A compelling counter narrative might build on some of the following subordinate themes:

• True Jihad is first and foremost the personal struggle within us. For all mankind, our flesh wars against our spirit which is of God. We can only win this struggle with God’s grace, for in our weakness His strength is perfected. God’s faithfulness and mercies make possible to accomplish what is impossible for us. As we struggle as persons of faith, our response to God’s provision is thanksgiving and blessing toward others that they may also experience God’s love.

• Religious piety is a good and noble virtue, but it is not everyone’s gift. It is voluntarily practiced out of obedience to a Holy God, not out of fear toward or to please men.

• God is the sovereign creator and judge of all mankind. Our own righteousness before Him affirms this truth and demands we should not exercise judgment toward others because that usurps God’s authority and is displeasing to Him.

• Killing those made in the image of God (men, women, and children) is an assault on God and is the work of the Devil who seeks to challenge God’s authority by destroying. God seeks to preserve life and to bless His creation.

• God gave us minds to reason with as well as hearts and spirits. We glorify Him by using reason to interpret His will for mankind in the present time and to represent His love for creation throughout man’s evolving history. Neither God nor His creation is static, and our progressive understanding of God and his purposes in each phase of history requires the exercise of both reason and faith. “When I was a child, I reasoned as a child, . . . but when I became a man, I gave up childish things.”

• Of all God’s characteristics, revealed through Abraham and the prophets, His love and mercy are the most dominant. His love is manifest in the gift of life which he has given to man. Our worship of Him and the living of our lives should reflect God’s love to all men, not only to those of our community.

• Violence and fear are not of God, for God is love and compassion. “For there is no fear in Love, but perfect love casts out fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love because fear has to do with punishment.”

• A Muslim, Christian, or Jew is not one who is one outwardly, but one who is one inwardly. Our belief in God is evident to the degree our lives reveal His love in relationships with others.

In such desperate times, we must redouble our efforts to do the works of faith that represent the heart of God and witness to His purposes for those who believe in Him.

Jeffrey Peter Agnes
LTC Thomas P. Curtis II
Contributing Editors
Rev. Michael P. Forbes
David D. Fautua
Readers are encouraged to write in letters to the editor with questions and observations at the following address: tent@smotj.org

Judaism is a monotheistic religion, with the Torah as its foundational text (part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible), and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Mishnah and the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God established with the Children of Israel.

Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: Allāh) and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570 BC – c. 8 June 632 AD), considered by them to be the last prophet of God.

Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus as presented in the New Testament. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the saviour of humanity whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequently, Christians refer to Jesus as "Christ" or the Messiah.