Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You Don't Speak for Me

Alright, now that we are done with the misguided presuppositions, sentimental twaddle, and naïve gestures, maybe we can move on to something that will bring real peace between Muslims and Christians; something called evangelism.

I am objecting to the statement "Loving God and Neighbor Together" drafted by scholars at Yale Divinity School's Center for Faith and Culture, issued by the first four signatories and endorsed by almost 300 other Christian theologians and leaders, in response to an open letter to Christendom by 138 Muslim leaders in October, calling for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding.

I don't know who these church leaders think they are speaking for, but they are not speaking for me nor for The Voice of the Martyrs! I am disappointed to see the names of men that I know and respect as signatories; men who ought to know better than to place the pursuit of peace over the pursuit of truth. The assumption in the letter is that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Christianity. This is a denial of Jesus Christ, as Muslims absolutely refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is God. This is the very foundation of Christianity. Deny that Jesus is God and you worship a false god, no matter if there are a few elements of similarity between God's revelation in scripture and the words of the Quran (which is hardly surprising since Mohammed had some exposure to the Bible, yet never once quotes it correctly). Islam is a counterfeit religion, a distortion and denial of the revelation of God in Jesus and scripture.

The letter by these church leaders states, "Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond 'a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders' and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another....We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another."

What greater love can we as Christians have for our Muslim neighbours than to lead them to repentance and faith in Christ? Somehow I have a feeling that this won't be a topic for discussion in these meetings, though.

Personally, I believe that many of these leaders, especially those of the World Evangelical Alliance, should withdraw their endorsement of this letter for no other reason than that many of their associates will find this letter a betrayal of Jesus Christ and a slap in the face of those who are dying for their faith in Muslim countries around the world. The god of Islam is not the God of the Bible and any attempt to minimize this truth calls into question whether the love being expressed is true biblical love. Geniune love and truth must be inseparable or or they are a counterfeit. Our God-given call is to love Muslims and not seek them harm, but not at the expense of minimizing the difference between the lies of Islam and the truth of Jesus Christ.

One final point, the Quranic verse (Aal 'Imran 3:64) that served as the inspiration for the Muslim leaders in their open letter entitled "A Common Word Between Us and You" is not a call to come together and live in peace despite our differences. The call of the passage in its context (Aal 'Imran 3:64-71) is a call for Christians and Jews to give up the lies of their faith and submit to Islam. It is not a call to find common ground; it is a call to surrender!


Anonymous said...

I believe the common ground referred to in these letters can be used as a starting place to speak with Muslims and demonstrate the love of God for them, through Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, I agree that we must not abandon the essence of Christianity to somehow come up with some fake commonality.

Love and respect need to be shown to all people; Muslim, Christian, Hindu, atheist or whatever. I certainly applaud those who encourage such love and respect, as long as it doesn't insist on an abandonment of truth. I certainly have no problem with the statement from "A Common Word": "Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill." As long as that attitude goes both ways throughout the world.

nachtwache said...

Ah yes, we had a similar discussion awhile back :) I agree, we cannot, ever, compromise our faith and not stand by the truth. Unfortunately I agree, that Muslims are not interested in finding out about our Christian faith, but want to convert us or rule over us as masters.
God forbid we betray Him.
Revelations keeps coming to mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,
Thanks for highlighting this. I read with great interest the initial letter "a common word," the Yale Center's response (and the many signatories) as well as your comments.
First, the pursuit of peace and the pursuit of truth are not mutually exclusive – so to place one above the other is not only wrong, as you say, but unnecessary.
The Yale Center’s letter, I think, has some good and positive components. However, those seem quite hollow - almost emptied of their strength - because of the letter’s sort of terminal deficiency or error of leaving out the Lordship of Jesus.
The pursuit of peace is absolutely fundamental to our Christian faith. Conversely, Christ is fundamental to our pursuit of peace. It is deeply disappointing that the leaders’ response failed to keep at its center this Jesus who is our Lord and the Prince of Peace. Like a car without an engine, we have no power to pursue peace except through Him.
On the official website for "a common word", they have posted numerous Christian responses. Of those I read, I found one by Rev. Christian W. Troll to be one of the most thoughtful and does a fairly good job of seeking to pursue both truth and peace: http://www.acommonword.com/index.php?page=responses&item=21
I also want to say that I believe our posture in addressing matters of peace, truth and faith is as important as our position. This particular issue of Muslim-Christian relations deserves to be approached prayerfully and with great courage and humility. The Spirit of God will reach our Muslim brothers and sisters not only as we preach but as we engage in this dialogue by speaking the truth in love. In this context I think that means not only never surrendering or downplaying the truth of who Christ is, but keeping His Spirit at the centre of every word and effort, engaging in a manner that is patient, kind, not rude or easily angered, not boastful, and that keeps no record of wrongs.
I hope you are in dialogue with your good friends about this. I am compelled to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,
Thank you for your uncompromising response to the “Christian response to “”A common word between us and you””. I have been very disappointed by my western brethren of their "our" naive view of what Islam really is. I am now convinced that we are in deep sleep of the reality. I have an experience of the treacherous behaviour of Islam, for I am from a significantly Muslim populated country, and know of the mischief of this faith. I am not against Muslims, for both I and my wife have close Muslim relatives, but the teaching they stand for.
They are sending “missionaries” of all sorts to the west; sending them to influence in every area, education, religion and terrorism being not the list. Islamic countries fund the building of mosques in the west by the millions every year while stopping every Christian movement in theirs and yet we seem to be sleeping, trying to deny the real truth, assuming it’s the only way to escape from its traps. Yes we should be open to peaceful and harmonious common ground but at what cost?
I am blessing you for your strong comment. Thank you for being a strong voice for the voiceless. I can imagine that you could be attacked for your comments but so be it, somebody has to wake us up anyway.
Your brother in Christ the Lord,

Joe B. Whitchurch said...

Thank you for this reply. I too was disappointed in the common ground letter and for a few additional reasons to those mentioned above. And I see that none of my concerns are mentioned in the comments thus far.

One huge concern is the fact that the document allegedly wants peace on earth through peace between Islam and Christianity but has no mention of Judaism. Even anonymous in their comments at the top of this list could mention the Hindu faith and atheism but not Judaism and yet isn't Christianity closer to Judaism in our understanding of the old covenant and history? Of course we are!

The document also seemed rather utopian in the sense that peace merely with Christianity and Islam would bring peace on earth and without it there could be no peace at all on earth. Hyperbole at its worst.

Lastly the document hints at a moral equivelance between the forgiveness extended by Mohammud to a city named Ta if, and the forgiveness Jesus extended from the cross while atoning for the sins of the world and which he prayed for those torturing him. I found that kind of equivelence and even the comparison (certainly other examples could have been offered that would be more appropriate like from Christ's teaching for instance) very demeaning. Not just accomodating and surrrendering but ..well.. demeaning.

Thanks for your courageous stand. I have already heard of a number of signers who now have grave second thoughts about what they signed. Some were given the impression that NOT to sign would make things hard on missionaries in closed access countries. NOT signing would be like persecuting Christians! Think of that term, "closed access". And the comments on the mosque building and church hosting-facilities of a previous comment and you get the picture.

This one is a good one on how Islam faces pluralism up-close and personally, even among many who might seem otherwise quite moderate. It is also a generationally intriguing one out from the Guardian in the UK. Click this LINK to read (url code here: http://tinyurl.com/ysmemm ) about what converts go through from MODERATE Islamic homes not in Syria or Iran or among our friends the Saudis, but in England and likely in the USA as well.

VOM, you are not alone in this. Thanks for being a Voice!

Joseph Ravitts said...

In a similar moral-equivalence message printed in the New York Times, the signators chose an example of "Muslim-Christian compatability" which I gagged on. They pointed to the record of Muhammad owning a Christian slave who appeared to love his master. The unmentioned elephant in the room was the fact of Muhammad HAVING a slave in the first place. Being a slave, how else would the slave DARE to act, than as if he just loved being owned and controlled?

No modern American jury would find an abusive husband innocent solely on the basis that his battered wife was too intimidated to testify against him; but Muhammad gained acquittal in the NYT just because a slave whom he could have had put to death didn't dare to antagonize him.