Thursday, September 25, 2014

Person vs. Being vs. Human Being

Person vs. Being vs. Human Being vs. God

What is the difference between a person, a human being and a being?


A being is a conscious entity that has self awareness. A tree does not have consciousness, so it cannot be a being. A fly has consciousness, but it lacks self awareness, so it is not a being. Some higher animals such as apes appear to have self awareness, so they may or may not be beings. Humans and God are beings. Imaginary aliens that drive interplanetary flying ships would be beings, provided they are not programmed drones.

Human Being

A human being is any individual that belongs to the homo sapiens species. A human being that loses consciousness or has not yet achieved consciousness does not cease to be a being because the organ, the brain, that performs the function of consciousness can heal or develop so that consciousness can be achieved or restored. Otherwise, we would cease to be beings every time we fall asleep!


Person has more meanings.

  • It can refer to the whole of the being. A human person has a body, mind, and if you accept it, a spirit.
  • It can refer to the body. If I say "he assaulted my person," I mean that he attacked my body.
  • It can emphasize the individuality of one being among many. "He didn't just attack the group, he singled out one person."
  • It can refer to a collective entity such as a business, union, or political party. This one drives "liberals" nuts. Organizations must have legal rights and obligations, or else they could not sign contracts, own property, or be held accountable for their actions.
  • In Trinitarian teaching, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. They have identical natures (characteristics) and one shared substance (the spirit-stuff that God consists of). Within that substance, three conscious personalities have unique roles, perspectives, and memories.

God and Person -- but avoid Being

God is a being because He has consciousness and self awareness.As Creator of the universe, God exists in more dimensions than we do. There is an eternal dimension like time, but it existed before God created time. There are other spiritual dimensions like space that spirit exists in. Some existed before God created time and space, and some, God created along with time and space. We cannot observe the spiritual dimensions, so we cannot fully imagine who and what God is. However, God has revealed that He exists as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those three persons share the same nature (spirit) and the same substance (God), yet each has a separate, unique consciousness.

We try to think of God in terms of what we experience, but God transcends even our wildest imagining. Because we impose our perception of being, it is best to avoid using the term to describe God. It is best to stick with the terms God and Person.

Differences between the Persons of the Trinity

Differences between the Persons of the Trinity

Raymond, a Oneness Pentecostal, challenges the Trinity. If the Father, Son, and Spirit are One in nature and One in substance, how can we tell them apart? If there's no difference, the Trinity must be pointless and a Unitarian God makes more sense.

Oneness refers to the Unitarian belief that God exists as only one Person. Some Unitarians believe that God is a quick-change artist who switches costumes to appear as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Others believe the Father is God, the Son was just a man, and the Spirit is an impersonal force.

Raymond says no Trinitarian has ever answered his question, How can we distinguish between the Persons or personalities of the Persons of the Trinity? With that claim he implies that the Trinity does not make sense.

Differences in Person

The question has two answers because it has two parts. By Person, we mean all that makes up the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. There is no reason to expect any difference in nature (the characteristics) or substance (whatever spiritual stuff they are made of. If there are differences, no mortal mind could grasp them.

We except from that statement the body of Christ Jesus. God translated the body of Jesus from physical form into spiritual form when Jesus ascended to Heaven. So the Son may have that additional "substance."

I'm sorry, but I have to hedge even on the exception. Jesus said, "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me" (John 14:11). Also, after His baptism by John, Jesus "returned from the Jordan [river], full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1). Therefore, the Father and the Spirit may share the the body of Jesus in Heaven. That brings us back to the Three having identical substance, even during and after the Son inhabited a physical body!

More than one in one

How does one program in a computer differ from another? They share the same hardware. They share access to all the power, interfaces, and data within the computer. Since a computer's existence is limited to the physical universe, the programs have to take turns checking the keyboard buffer, executing instructions in the CPU, storing data to or retrieving data from RAM, displaying information on the monitor, and so forth.

They differ not in substance, but in information. Each contains instructions and data that correspond to their roles. You cannot look at a computer and see the programs. Even if you examined the magnetic states on the hard drive, the logic states in the CPU, or the electrostatic states in the RAM, you would need yet more information to know where to look and to decode it. 

One, but more than One

Since God is spirit in nature, omnipresent, and eternal, it would be unrealistic to think we could "look" with our mind's eye at God or at the three Persons of God, let alone have the ability to recognize differences in what we see. It's not like the Father would have flowing white hair and a bald spot, the Son would wear gold chains and would have his pants hanging down below His butt, or the Holy Spirit would wear a butler's uniform.

The difference until the incarnation would appear to have been strictly informational. The three Persons have self awareness and, although we could not tell them apart, they know each other. Even if there were no differences in nature between the three in their transcendent reality, each would still be able to distinguish the other two because, to the extent that they exercise such knowledge, they know each others' minds (for example, Romans 8:27, "He [the Father] who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit"). 

As a result of accepting different roles and executing the functions of those roles, the three Persons accumulate differentiation in "their" memories. Yet even in that I must again hedge because, since the Trinity shares a common substance, the three Persons can share in each other's experiences.

Differences in Personalities

I would define personality as the aggregate of inward and outward attributes. Inward attributes would stem from one's nature. Having the same nature and shared substance, the three Persons of the Trinity would have identical inward attributes.

Outward attributes would result from the combination of the inward attributes and the Person's role. Whereas inward attributes express the nature, outward attributes put the role into action consistent with the inward attributes.

Listing the personality differences between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rockets past my pay grade (if I had one). Having just enough knowledge to be a danger to myself, though, I'll attempt to name at least one unique outward attribute for each Person.

Personality of God the Father

  • Christ said that not even He knew the day or hour of the end of the age; only the Father knew, so the Father is the Planner.
  • The Father deploys the Son and the Spirit to execute His plan, so the Father is the Coordinator.
  • The Father receives Change Requests from the Son and Spirit and issues Change Orders, so He presides over the Change Control Board.

These tell me that the Father is the Manager among the Three. Although the Father delegates certain judgments, He takes responsibility for the divine plan and its execution. Would He be better than the other two at those roles? No, His leadership does not indicate a difference in nature; but we perceive a recognizable outward attribute that ensues from a difference in role.

Personality of God the Son

  • Since the Father fulfills a role of Leader, the Son and the Spirit fulfill roles as Followers. 
  • Following requires obedience. While the Spirit obeys, the Spirit does not need to obey sacrificially. For a time, the Son forsook the glory of Deity and the comfort of Heaven. He took on the weakness and vulnerability of a child and a man, took upon Himself the weight of the guilt of the world, and suffered torture and physical death. He "learned obedience," not just as a matter of being obedient by nature, as all three Persons are, but by experience.
  • As a follower of the Father, the Son demonstrates humility by representing and obeying the Father.
  • As one who experienced the discomforts, risks, temptations, and agonies of earthly life and death, the Son understands our experience, so He has empathy.

This tells me that, although the nature of any of the three persons would have led to identical behavior, the Son acts with humility and grace in ways that the other two members do not have opportunity to express. Moreover, all three Persons can sympathize, but only the Son can empathize with us because He shared the human experience. As we consider the Son's sacrifice and see His humanity and brotherhood, which presents God as accessible, relateable, and an object of affection.

Personality of God the Holy Spirit

  • The Spirit enlightens man that he might see and births believers into life.
  • What the Son demonstrated, the Spirit enables. The Spirit imbues and empowers spiritual gifts in accordance with the Father's plan.
  • The Spirit glorifies not Himself, but the Son and the Father by teaching, through the Sword of the Spirit, the written Word of God, all spiritual knowledge that we need.

This tells me that the Spirit enacts the quiet humility of a servant, teaching and equipping the saints for their own role in the spiritual economy that they might enjoy the benefits of God's love and glorify their Father and Brother.

The difference is also intuitive

It should be obvious to anyone that, although the Trinity is one in substance and its members are equal in nature, if we relate to the Father as our Father, to the Son as our Big Brother, and to the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, Quartermaster, and King's Messenger, we innately recognize differences of personality, even if we fail to consciously recognize them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pope Francis Blasphemes

Pope Francis Blasphemes

[T]he people of God walk with sure hope. Even the Mother, 'the New Eve', as Paul himself calls her, in order to participate in her Son’s journey, learned, suffered and obeyed. And thus she becomes Mother....

And this is our hope. We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother and the Mother Church is anointed when it takes the same path of Jesus and Mary: the path of obedience, the path of suffering, and when she has that attitude of continually learning the path of the Lord. These two women – Mary and the Church – carry on the hope that is Christ, they give us Christ, they bring forth Christ in us. Without Mary, there would be no Jesus Christ; without the Church, we cannot go forward....

Today, looking at this woman by the Cross, steadfast in following her Son in His suffering to learn obedience, looking at her we see the Church and look at our Mother. And also, we look at our little soul that will never be lost, if it continues to be a woman close to these two great women who accompany us in life: Mary and the Church. And just as our fathers left Paradise with a promise, today we can go forward with a hope: the hope that our Mother Mary, steadfast at the Cross, and our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church, give us.

-- Pople Francis at the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in Casa Santa Marta, 15 September 2014

In his message, Francis the Pope commits a number of errors. He limits Christ's earthly mission so that it matches that of the Catholic Mary and the Catholic Church, elevates his church to a status equal to that of God, and positions his church so that it interrupts the relationship between God and man. By mis-defining the gospel, Francis endangers his followers' souls.

[T]he people of God walk with sure hope. Even the Mother, 'the New Eve', as Paul himself calls her...

Paul called Jesus the Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-47), but he never called Mary the Second Eve or the New Eve. You can search for yourself in dozens of translations, including Catholic-approved translations, at or In the context, Paul never even mentioned Mary. Only once does Paul ever mention a Mary in any of his writings; that mention is a greeting to a different woman who lived in Rome. And only twice does he mention Eve, and neither of those mentions honors her. 

The Catholic Church might ask, if Jesus was the Second Adam, who was the Second Eve? The question errs by assuming that there must be a second or new Eve. Before asking the question, you must prove the need for a New Eve, and that proof would have to include the heretical idea that Christ was not enough for our redemption without an Eve.

Even the Mother, 'the New Eve'... in order to participate in her Son’s journey, learned, suffered and obeyed. And thus she becomes Mother....

Mary did not need to become mother. She was mother (with a small 'm') by virtue of having given birth to the body of Jesus. However, Francis means more than that. He means that Mary became Mother to all believers. This terminology and notion are totally without Biblical foundation. It's simply not there. I refer you again to the Bible. Search it. it is not there.

And this is our hope. We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother

The Catholic Church may ask, If we have a Father, who is our Mother? Let me ask you: If Jesus had a physical mother, who was his physical, genetic father? But He did not have a physical father, you say. He was born of a Virgin! And that would be the right answer.

If Jesus did not need to have a physical father, then why do we need a spiritual mother? We don't.

And this is our hope. We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother...

The Bible says our hope is in God our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1), the return of Christ (Titus 2:13), and everlasting life (1 Peter 1:3). Our hope is not like that of Johnny who has two mothers.

We are not orphans, we have Mothers: Mother Mary. But the Church is Mother

This statement implies that if we do not have Mother Mary and Mother Rome, we are orphans. I can just see God the Father saying, Ahem! What I AM, chopped liver? 

2 Corinthians 6:17-18 says, “Come out from among them, and be separate... And touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. To usurp the Father's role as divine Parent crosses the line into full blasphemy.

[T]he Mother Church is anointed when it takes the same path of Jesus and Mary: the path of obedience, the path of suffering, and when she has that attitude of continually learning the path of the Lord.

Does an organization suffer scourging? Does an organization suffer from nails through hands and ankles, tortured, bleeding, starving for air? Does an organization die, and can its death wash away sins? Sure, the Catholic Church has had a few martyrs. However, to the contrary of Jesus, this organization has wrapped itself in silk, and adorned itself with gold and jewels. Indeed, it has afflicted genuine saints with torture and death through exposure to the elements, starvation, whips, gutting, iron maidens, and burning at the stake. That's a really strict mother!

More to the point, did Mary or the Catholic Church shed their blood to wash away our sins? [Y]ou know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your worthless lifestyle received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.... (1 Peter 1:18-19)

These two women – Mary and the Church – carry on the hope that is Christ, they give us Christ, they bring forth Christ in us

Oh, where is Mary preaching the gospel tonight? Is she serving food at a soup kitchen? I want to go! Just how does she carry on the work of giving us Christ? No, her role in giving us Jesus ended nearly two millennia ago.

Does the Catholic Church give us Christ? That is debatable, since, by elevating Mary and themselves and by under representing the power of Christ's sacrifice, the Catholic Church gives a lessened Christ. By inserting themselves between God and man, they give us a more distant, less caring Christ. By giving out God's grace bit-by-bit through sacraments, a continuing sacrifice, and chanted blessings, the Catholic Church gives us a Christ who lied when He said, It is finished (John 19:30). Just which Christ do they give? God the Son of the Scriptures, or an imaginary, diminished Christ? And if they give us a diminished Christ, are they not withholding the Christ who is?

But that as a trivial discrepancy compared to that final phrase, they bring forth Christ in us.

First, it is the believer's responsibility to bring forth Christ in himself. Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Know God, know His Word, know His will. Then seek holiness. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) There will be no passing of the buck before God's throne.

Second, it is the responsibility and privilege of all believers to bring forth Christ in each other. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.... (Hebrews 10:24) In that sense, it is the church -- the believers who make up the body of Christ, not some organization -- that encourages growth in Christ. God's relationship is with His children, not some soulless institution.

Third, it is God which works in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure. (Philippieans 2:13) God arranges our lives to challenge, stretch, and mature us. The Holy Spirit enlightens us (Ephesians 1:16-18) so we can understand the things of God and then teaches them to us from "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:16-18).

Without Mary, there would be no Jesus Christ; without the Church, we cannot go forward....

Without Mary, there would have been somebody else. Sorry. This was God's doing, and all the glory goes to God (Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 48:11). Mary said, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. (Luke 1:47). If she had lived a sinless life, as Mary-worshippers claim, she would not have needed a savior. Mary was special because of the grace given to her, not because she was anything special by her own rights.

When Francis says without the Church, he means, without the Roman Catholic Church, we cannot go forward: God cannot take us forward without Rome. God's Holy Spirit cannot enlighten and teach us through the God's Word, the Bible. God cannot shape our lives or cause us to grow from within. You can't do it on your own or with God. You need Francis and Company because God is too helpless. This is not the teaching of Christ, but of a cult that usurps God's role and separates man from God.

Even the Mother, 'the New Eve'..., in order to participate in her Son’s journey, learned, suffered and obeyed. And thus she becomes Mother....

[T]he Mother Church is anointed when it takes the same path of Jesus and Mary: the path of obedience, the path of suffering, and when she has that attitude of continually learning the path of the Lord.

Today, looking at this woman by the Cross, steadfast in following her Son in His suffering to learn obedience, looking at her we see the Church and look at our Mother. 

Francis implies that Christs path was to learn obedience and suffering. Hebrews 5:8 says that, although Christ was God the Son, he learned obedience by the things which He endured. This verse can easily mislead one to think Christ had to learn some information or behavior that He did not know; but that is not the meaning.

As eternal God the Son in Heaven, Christ followed the will of the Father; yet he could not experience an obedience that cost Him, that challenged a carnal instinct to resist evil in order to preserve one's life. Christ did not learn to obey; He learned the experience of obedience. He learned the experience of humiliation and suffering.

Francis correctly includes suffering and obedience in Christ's path; but he incorrectly implies that they make up the totality, or at least the major purpose of, Christ's path. Francis omits the single reason that required such a path: namely, that this path led to the Cross for the purpose of redeeming a people from the doom brought upon them by sin. Obedience and suffering were instrumental, but they were secondary to the sacrifice.

God did not so love the world that He gave His Son to suffer and learn obedience.

Conveniently, Francis omits the purpose in Christ's path that Mother Mary and Mother Church could never follow. Catholicism's imitation of Biblical places faith in two women -- one historic and the other a corporation -- that cannot redeem. Francis pursues a false hope. The true hope is in God the Son.

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.

Revelation 18:4

 Copyright 2014, Richard Wheeler

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Former and Latter Rains and Restoration of the Gifts of the Spirit

In this book, Charles Matism talks about the former and the latter rain. He establishes a pattern in the Bible of 1) Redemption and New Creation (the Former rain), and 2) Judgment (the latter rain). He then says that the New Testament times was the former and the end times are the latter. But is it possible that the latter could come at the time of judgment - like at the same time as everyone shall bow and every tongue confess?

Do the latter rains refer to a restoration of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit?


The early rains, latter rains, and all rains in-between make up one season. The season occurred when Israel was restored before Christ, and may occur again during the Tribulation because former rains follow Israel's repentance. I believe the latter rains represent not judgment, but harvest and/or preparation for dry season.

Former Rains and Latter Rains -- One Season

Penn and the Tea-costals spread the idea that the former and latter rains symbolize early and end-time outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the former and latter rains become mysterious symbols in Bible eschatology.

However, that does not agree at all with Middle Eastern meteorology.

The Middle East, like many regions, has a dry season (summer) and a wet season (winter). The first rains of the wet season are called the former or early rains. The last rains of the wet season are called the latter rains.

The wet season is one continuous season. This is why, figuratively, separating the reference into separate first and second Pentecosts is so wrong.

Let me illustrate the error of Penn and the Tea-costals. Suppose you have a flat ridge that runs north and south. It would be correct to speak of the north end of the ridge and the south end of the ridge. However, Penn looks at one end and calls it North Mountain. Then he looks at the other end and calls it South Mountain. Penn tells the Tea-costals about this, and they think the ridge is two separate mountains with a big gap between them.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month of the Hebrew year]. (KJV) Joel 2:23
Following the hot, dry summer, the early rains bring refreshment and soften the earth so farmers can break up the hardened soil and plant seeds. Note the word "moderately." Rains that came too lightly provided little relief. Rains that came heavily caused flooding. God gave just the right amount.
Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. (KJV) Zechariah 10:1
The latter rains precede the time of harvest and determine how much water will be available during the dry season. Light rains brought drought and heavy rains damaged crops and caused floods. Again, the Lord blesses by giving "showers."

They Shall Beat Their Precipitations into Prophecies

If we separate the early and latter rains into separate symbols, then we need first to put them in context by realizing that the dry season represents a time of testing, refining, and judgment. We also need to take the rainy season as a unit and realize that it represents a time -- a season -- of blessing.

In this model that considers the whole year rather than a pair of snapshots, the early rains typify the return of blessings and renewed activity of the Holy Spirit following the repentance and holiness that testing and judgment teach.

The latter rains represent the preparation for harvest. They also represent provision for God's people during times of testing and correction, when the Holy Spirit acts more subtly.

Also note that Joel 2:23 is surrounded by a description of what follows a good spring rain: verdant pastures, trees and vines bearing fruit, and abundant wheat, grape, and olive harvests. Although verse 23 could be symbolic, it primarily means literal rain. You know. Drops of water falling from clouds.

No difference exists between the early, middle, and latter rains themselves except that one flows into the next. Unless you live in the mountains where it snows, rain is rain. You don't get Pentecostal Blessings at the early rain and Restoration Blessings at the latter rain. You get a continuous Church Age or Age of the Gentiles. The Church does not need to pass through infancy at its beginning and later return to its infancy before the Rapture.

Restorationism... of Context

Penn puts a lot of faith in his interpretation of Joel 2:23, so let's consider its context. Joel 2:1-11 describes a time when a great armed threat comes against Israel. In verses 12-17, God commands Israel to repent. In verses 18-27, God promises rescue if Israel obeys the call to repent. Then comes verse 28.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (KJV) Joel 2:28-29
The events in Joel 2:28-29 describe what happened at Pentecost and in the book of Acts. God poured out His Spirit not only upon judges, prophets, and kings, as before, but upon all races, both sexes, and all social classes. But note the keywords: "And it shall come to pass afterward...." If former rain and latter rain symbolized an age, as Penn and the Tea-costals claim, it happened before Pentecost.

If former and latter rains symbolize an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it seems likely that the former rains correlated to the events surrounding Christ's birth (Mary and Joseph's dream, Elizabeth's prophecy, prophesies at the Temple), and possibly Christ's ministry, were the former rains; and the events in the Apostolic age were the latter rains. Pentecost would have been the pinnacle of that.

If verses 28-29 describe the First Century and 30-31 describe the Tribulation, couldn't the rains happen again? Yes. Much of prophecy iterates.

However, the blessings of verses 18-27 follow the repentance of verses 12-17. Israel has yet to repent. We expect that Israel will continue rebellion against Messiah and will bow to Christ only during the Tribulation. If the rains symbolize anything like a second Pentecost, it will have to happen during or after the Tribulation.

Raining on Charismatics' Party

The former and latter rains probably refer to precipitation. If they do mean outpourings of the Holy Spirit, they happened a long ago and are not yet repeating.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Is "moderate Islam" an oxymoron?

I received an email, with the above title, that makes the case that all Muslims are extremists. I have to disagree. The key to understanding my position lies in a look at Judaism and Christianity.

Judaism has what Christians call "apostates," those who have left the faith; and it has "heretics," those who were raised outside the faith and either through error or through hostility, undermine the faith. At the extreme, some of these people remain religious and follow cults such as Kabbala or (from their perspective) our Yeshua. In the middle, the vast majority follow some semi-agnostic variety of Judaism that is Jewish primarily by culture. The real Jews are the Orthodox Jews, whose males often wear some element of a uniform such as yarmulkes or beards to identify themselves.

Christians are the same way. There are plenty of heretical sects such as Mormons, The Watchtower (Jehovah's [false] Witnesses, and Unitarians. In the middle are the mainline denominations that use a Christian vocabulary but have lost the Christian faith. For example, in the United Methodist Church, a poll many years ago revealed that half the pastors denied the virgin birth and the resurrection. With so many holes cut in their Bibles, it's no surprise that most "mainstream" Christian churches cooperate in the ecumenical movement, whose aim is to join with all theologies, even including New Age religions, animist, aboriginal religions, and "moderate" Islam -- essentially, a precursor to the One World Religion of Antichrist. I would put  the apostate Westboro Baptist Church in that category. I think you might be willing to put the Liberation Theology branch of Catholicism in that category, too.

The main thing that ties together all those "heretical" and "apostate" varieties of Jewish and Christian beliefs is their treacherous lip service to The Bible. They either believe God isn't god, or God doesn't care enough to communicate truthfully with man and then preserve that communication. Functionally, they are agnostics who prefer to err on the faith side instead of erring on the side of atheism. They contrast with evangelical or fundamentalist believers, and they make up the majority of Christians. (The sense with which I mean "evangelical or fundamentalist" includes those who have a strict faith in Catholicism.)

Islam has a similar distribution of faith. I don't know whether the majority of Muslims are functional agnostics the way most Christians are, although I've met a lot who are. I've met a few who might compare to mainstream Christians that border the Evangelicals. They retain the culture and worship; but in practice, they don't treat the Koran as a reliable revelation of their god.

I've described a perspective that views a moderate in anything as falling short of "true believer." For example, if you disagree with the Constitution and the reasoning behind it, you are fooling yourself if you claim to believe in Americanism and be a patriot. Similarly, "moderate Islam" is an oxymoron, just like "mainstream Christian" or "non-Orthodox Jew" are oxymorons. If the words apply to one, they have to apply to the others.

The difference is that, in Islam's case, moderation is a very, very good thing.