Part 1 – Chaplain Yusuf Estes

islam_christianI was born in Ohio, raised and educated in Texas, and made a living as a successful marketing entrepreneur and preacher of Christianity. My ethnic background is English- Native American, Irish and German. I was what they call a “WASP” (white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant). My family moved to Texas in 1949, while I was still in grade school.

I grew up in a very religious home. My parents and their relatives, they were all “good Christians.” Basically, that means they never drank alcohol except on very special occasions; and never gambled except for playing Bingo at the church. Religion was a real part of my life. I thoroughly believed in God, and the Bible as His word. Our church was originally called only “Christian Church.” It wasn’t until I turned ten or twelve years old, when the church “split” into two different groups that we started calling ourselves “Disciples of Christ.”

My father was an ordained minister, and also very active in church work as a Sunday school minister and fundraiser for Christian schools. He was “the expert” on the Bible and its translations. It was through my father that I came to know about the various versions, translations and editions of the Bible, as well as, the introduction of pagan worship into Christianity about the time of the emperor, Constantine (325 C.E.). He, like many preachers, would answer the question, “Did God actually write the Bible?” by saying, “The Bible is the inspired word of man from God.” Basically, it means humans (inspired humans, but humans just the same) wrote the Bible. That sufficiently explains the errors, mistakes, deletions and additions which have crept in and fallen out over the years. He would add, “But it is still the word of God as inspired to man.”

It was through my father that I came to know about the various versions, translations and editions of the Bible, as well as, the introduction of pagan worship into Christianity about the time of the emperor, Constantine (325 C.E.)

God was always on my mind. I was baptized into the “spirit” at age twelve and even the minister (an ex-Jew who accepted Jesus) was surprised by my seriousness and intent on being a “full, real follower of Christ.”

After growing up, I realized that I did not want to be a preacher. I was too afraid that I might be a hypocrite or call people to something that I myself didn’t truly understand. After all, I had “accepted the Lord” and considered myself a true Christian, but at the same time I could not resolve the idea of God being One and at the same time “Three.” And if He is the Father, how could He also be Son? And then, what about the Holy Ghost? (Later they changed that to the “Spirit.”) But my big question was always the same, “How does three equal one?”

Over the years, I had tried to “find” God in many different ways. I checked out Buddhism, Hinduism, Metaphysics, Taoism, different forms of Christianity and Judaism. The one most attractive to me was a combination of Gnosticism (Christian mysticism), Cabbalism (Jewish mysticism) and Metaphysics. This actually is a form of pantheism (God being throughout His creation) and is similar to the claims of some Sufi mystics of today. But this concept repulsed me because I did not want to imagine myself as being a “part of God.”

God is Pure! God is Perfect! God is All-knowing and aware of all things! So how could I repeat what I was hearing from other preachers, “In a way, we are all gods… Read the Bible: ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.’” (Psalms 82:6 and John 10:34)

The rationalization which comes about in the books attributed to the Apostle Saul (who changed his name to Paul) is full of statements which basically cancel the Torah (or law of the Old Testament). He claims it is a matter of how you “understand” something that makes it permissible or forbidden. As an example, in the English Revised Standard Version it says in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” (Romans 14:14)

And again in the same letter: “So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Roman 14:16)

By such statements, Paul destroyed the authority of Old Testament commandments. Yet, in the same English version of the Bible in the first book of the New Testament, We are told that Jesus preached a message contrary to that of St. Paul:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth shall pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches them so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

According to Paul’s testimony in his letter to the new Roman Christians, he not only was relaxing the least of these commandments, but basically that if one doesn’t consider something evil, then it’s not!

I just felt that something was wrong in this message and decided to upload the Commandments according to the Old Testament as much as I could. That would mean circumcision, no pork, no sex outside marriage, no adultery, and no worship of creation. This would be in compliance with the verse which says: “You shall have no other gods before (i.e., besides) Me. You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6)

It seemed reasonable to me that there should only be one God. He alone should be in charge, set the rules and give the orders. This life would be a test for those who really loved Him and followed His commandments.

It seemed reasonable to me that there should only be one God. He alone should be in charge, set the rules and give the orders. This life would be a test for those who really loved Him and followed His commandments.

I tried not to deal with these issues for many years. But I was now approaching the age of fifty and needed to do something for the Lord. After all, He had done everything for me. Sometimes I would join with missionaries to preach in Mexico. We travelled together, praised the Lord, shared in “the spirit,” and went wherever the “the spirit led us.” One of my preacher friends used to carry a huge cross on his shoulder and would drag it down the highway, giving out mini-Bibles to those who cared to stop and visit. I took my Bible everywhere and was very fast to whip it out and preach the message.

There was only one problem: What was the message? For a while, I accepted the answer of the “born-agains” – the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. “He died for your sins! He paid the price of redemption! He is the risen Son of God! Jesus is Lord!” I preached that message myself and thought I understood it well as anyone. But I remember hearing another preacher say one time. “Don’t leave your brain in the parking lot with your car.”

Then it hit me that I should start thinking about the very serious problems and real facts about my religion.

  • The Bible was never written in English, so what was the original language of the Bible and who actually wrote it?
  • The Bible does not exist in its original form anywhere on earth.
  • The Catholic Bible has seven more books than the Protestant Bible, and these two Bibles have different versions of the same books. There are too many mistakes, and the errors are obvious throughout the text.
  • Born-again Christians teach the concepts that are not from the Bible.
  • There is no mention of the word “Trinity” in the Bible in any version of any language.
  • The oldest forms of Christianity do not conform to today’s “born-again” beliefs.
  • Jesus of the English Bible complains to God about the crucifixion: “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?”

I began to ask many questions, such as:

  • How can Jesus be the “only begotten son” in John 3:16, while in Psalms 2:7, David is also God’s “begotten son?”
  • Would a “just” God, a “fair” God, a “loving” God- punish Jesus for the sins of the people that he called to follow him?
  • How could God create Himself?
  • How can God be a man or a man be God?
  • How can God have a son?
  • Couldn’t God just forgive us and not have to kill Jesus?
  • Isn’t it true that Jesus did not claim to be God or equal to God?

One day, while I was still a Christian, I came to know that Muslims believed in Gospel. I was shocked. How could this be?

I began to pray like this: “God, let Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” I used this particular phrase for a good length of time. During all that, I consciously chose faith in God. It was faith, without really having reason to believe, but choosing to do so anyway. Some preachers would say that often God seems far away or non-existent, so keep faith! Trust God even though you don’t see Him at all. So that is what I did.

One day, while I was still a Christian, I came to know that Muslims believed in Gospel. I was shocked. How could this be? But that’s not all, they believe in Jesus:

  • a true messenger of God.
  • as a prophet of God.
  • and his miraculous birth without human intervention.
  • as the “Christ” or Messiah predicted in the Bible.
  • as being with God now.
  • and his returning to earth in the last days to lead the believers against the Antichrist.

It was too much for me; especially because the evangelists we used to travel with hated Muslims and Islam very much. They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam.

[To be continued Insha Allah…]

Source: “An Undeniable Fact – Prominent Church People Enter Islam” by Dr. Abdurahim bin Mazher Al- Malki. Excerpt printed by permission of the publisher Dar Abul-Qasim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (           

War in Monotheistic Religions – Christianity

Apr 11 - War in monotheistic religion

Throughout history, many wars have been waged with religion being their stated cause and peace as their desired outcome. In the previous article, we took a look at the history of Judaism and traced the origins of war in this religion. This time, we will search for the roots of the concept of war in Christianity, as interpreted by Karen Armstrong, a renowned modern religion writer.


In about 27 C.E., many Jews of Palestine were attracted by a new sect which, according to Armstrong, claimed to be a universal form of Judaism. The leader was a Jew by the name of Jesus (Isa), who claimed to be the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for. He quickly attracted a large following, eventually making his way from his native Galilee to Jerusalem, where he preached of the approaching Kingdom of God. Seeing in his preaching a potential political threat, Romans, who ruled Jerusalem at the time, arrested him and had him crucified, as the history of Christianity has it. Jesus’ refusal to oppose Romans, even in the face of his death, clearly testified to the pacifist nature of his teachings. He taught his followers to turn the other cheek when attacked.

After the death of Jesus, his followers continued to be peacefully practicing Jews, worshiping daily in the Temple and living according to the Torah (Taurat). What distinguished them from other Jewish sects was their belief in Jesus as the Messiah and their expectation of his second coming – his returning to the world for establishing the Kingdom of God.

A Jew by the name of Paul was to take Jesus’ teachings to a new dimension. He started preaching to the Gentiles (non-Israelite tribes or nations), transforming Christianity from a Jewish sect into a universal religion, which was to bring redemption to the entire world. Paul’s version of Christianity had no room for a holy war, because Christians were to show love even to their enemies, as Jesus had enjoined it. According to Armstrong, Paul presented “Christianity as a spiritual religion: salvation now meant liberation from sin and death, not an extermination of the enemies of God”.

Several later historical developments within Christianity can be pinned as contributing factors leading to the formation of the concept of the ‘holy war’ during the Crusades: the image of the Antichrist, movements of martyrdom and monasticism as well as St. Augustine’s philosophy of a just war.


By the end of the first century, Christianity underwent certain transformations, which introduced more violent ideas into the peaceful religion of Jesus and Paul. The author of “Revelation” (one of the books of the New Testament written later) brought back into Christianity the importance for Judaism apocalyptic tradition. He talked of cosmic battles foretold by the Jewish prophets as heralding the final triumph of Christianity, when God would send down the New Jerusalem and a new perfect world from heaven. He described God’s enemies as terrifying monsters, placing a particular emphasis on a great Beast, which would crawl out of an abyss and establish himself in the Temple. It was from this powerful image of the Beast that the later generations of Christians developed a belief in what they called the Antichrist, which became very important in the ideology of crusading. According to Armstrong, “by the time of the Crusades, European Christians firmly believed that before the final apocalypse, Antichrist would appear in Jerusalem, would set himself up in the Temple and fight the Christians there in the great battles”.


Initially, the attitude of the Roman Empire towards Christianity was not a tolerant one – they often persecuted and executed Christians who refused to sacrifice to Caesar. These persecutions eventually formed in Christians a strong sense that ‘the world’ was against them. This insecurity, according to Armstrong, led to a cult of voluntary martyrdom. The martyr was seen as the perfect Christian, “because Christ had said that giving one’s life for the beloved (Jesus) was the greatest act of love”. Eventually, the martyrdom cult acquired an aggressive dimension as martyrs started to denounce themselves to the authorities and believed that they were taking part in a cosmic battle with evil. Although martyrs passively allowed the inflicting of violence upon them, they thought of themselves as the ‘soldiers of Christ’, and considered their deaths as ‘victory’. Even though the Church tried to stop this trend of voluntary martyrdom, it never completely died out and surfaced again during the time of the Crusades.


When, years later, the persecutions stopped and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Christians faced a new dilemma: how could they be perfect Christians when there was no more opportunity for martyrdom? The answer was discovered in the movement of monasticism: radical Christians were to flee ‘the world’, which was hostile to them, and take refuge in the wilderness. Although Jesus and Paul had never promoted this type of asceticism, monks and their like-minded Christians believed that it was not possible to practice true Christian values in ‘the world’. In later centuries, Western Christians further developed the movement of monasticism by secluding themselves in monasteries which they saw as “fortresses of Christianity in a Godless world”. The monks living in them were considered as taking part in a holy war against the spiritual enemies of God. When the Crusades began, the monks became some of their most active participants.

Just War

During the early Middle Ages, Europe was under constant attacks by its enemies: barbarians destroyed the Roman Empire which was followed by the invasions of Norsemen, Muslims and Magyars. This constant threat and insecurity brought an aggressive element into the peaceful religion of Christianity. Despite all the attacks, the Church tried to keep the violence under control and remain pacifist. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Empire regarded war as unchristian and preferred to hire mercenaries for their wars instead of using Christian soldiers. It was their Western brethren, the Latin theologians, who developed the concept of a just war. This would enable the Christians to fight and defend themselves without guilt.

In early fifth century, St. Augustine of Hippo (North Africa) laid the grounds for the Christian concept of a just war. According to Armstrong, St. Augustine “decided that, while wars against other Christians were always sinful and unjust, God could sometimes inspire a Christian leader to wage war against pagans”. According to him, the difference between a pagan war and a Christian one was that it had to be inspired by love towards the enemy. The war could not be based on revenge; it had to be based on the sense of justice. Violence was to be seen as medicinal – just like disciplining a child for his own good. Although Augustine’s arguments in favour of violence were paradoxical, Christians could no longer survive without war. However, it was only during the Crusades that the involvement of Christians in warfare transformed into a ‘holy war’: in 1095, Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade for exterminating ‘the enemies of God’ – the Turks, an accursed race that had captured the holy land.

Today, the Christians are divided between two stances on war:

1) Pacifism: war cannot be justified under any circumstances;

2) Just war: war is never good but sometimes necessary and should be conducted within the limits of justice.

Compiled from Karen Armstrong’s “Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World” published by Anchor Books (