It’s reported in Muslims Leaders Warn Pope 'Survival of World' at Stake that Muslim leaders are sending an open letter to “plead with Christian leaders” to come together with them on the “common essentials of our two religions" and in the letter it’s stated “The "survival of the world" is at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace with each other,…” The letter may be read here.
CHRISTIAN SKEPTICISM should exist on SEVERAL LEVELS.
1. THE MUSLIM MOTIVE AND MISSIONAL QUEST
While the undiscerning may see this letter as an expression of unity (of love, reaching out, taking the first steps, etc.), one should not fail to understand that the Muslim agenda has not changed but this letter represents it’s active missional pursuit to convert the world to Islam. One needs only to look at the documented negative perception of Islam (Washington Post,N.Y. Times) due to terrorism associated with Islam to understand that world events and press have resulted in significant ways to hinder the advance of Islam, and therefore in order for Muslims to open channels which now stand opposed to or are hindering future Muslim advancement, the Muslim community knows it must act quickly, corporately, visibly, and relationally in order to RESHAPE people's perception of Muslims leading to renewed and greater openness (acceptance/opportunity)in order restore to pave the way not only for future Muslim converts, but future Muslim advancement and desired dominion. What better way to do this than to come together and gain press in the way they are doing with a message that suggests Muslims are for love and peace (note - both opposite recent actions and current perceptions associated with Islam), and to present themselves as the ones in the relationship between Muslims and Christians who are reaching out and initiating steps for unity and peace. This is nothing more than brilliant but deceptive public relations to recast and define their brand perception, though Islam itself remains the same, only more committed and active in pursuing their mision and vision, a vision which seeks to capitalize on the world (along with Christians)being naive.
Make no mistake, this is a strategic missional step taken by Muslims only to further their agenda. One would be remiss to fail to see this action apart from the spiritual battle (and real battles) that God makes known in and through his word, in which he instructs his people to be wise and alert.
2. THE MUSLIM HERMENEUTIC AND ARGUMENT
The Muslim letter suggests that Christians and Muslims worship the same God and serve common principles. (Note: One should always be suspicious when those of another faith want to interpret your own text for you!)
In regard to worshipping the same God, several things can be said. First, there’s a difference between two faiths who share in the belief and practice of monotheism (the worship of one God), and two faiths who share in the SAME God. It’s the difference between suggesting that just because two men are married to one woman each…that the two men are married to the same woman. The truth is that Allah is not the same as the God of the Bible. While Muslims and Christians both agree that there is one sovereign creator God over the universe, we disagree as to who that one God is. Sadly, while many today might suggest that it’s only a matter of semantics, or of calling God by a different name, or gaining knowledge of him through a different tradition and/or text, that’s not the case. It’s the difference between worshipping the true God as he has revealed himself and not only made himself known but provided the singular means and mediator by which he can be known (Jesus Christ), and worshipping the figment of one’s imagination (or Mohammed’s imagination). For example, The Scripture tells us that “…God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That is, the glory of God is found in Christ, because Jesus himself “IS” God. Yet, just as the Pharisees who looked at Christ and yet claimed to know both who he was and to know God the Father, failed to know and come to the Father because they failed to know who Jesus was, and thus they worshipped one other than the Father, even denying the Father who was in and revealed himself through Christ. The difference between the Muslim and Christian God is found that in the former one finds a God who must be slavishly served in order to earn salvation, while in the later one finds a merciful, compassionate and loving God who has provided the way of salvation for those who could not merit it themselves and is to be served in response and in keeping with the salvation already received. In the former, one finds a God who demands his people spill the blood of others in order advance his kingdom, while in the latter one finds a God who has laid down his own life in order that his kingdom might reign through others. These are not one in the same. They are antithetical to one another and should not be mistaken as one. Muslims deny the trinity (and strip God of his identity). Muslims deny the sonship and deity of Christ. Muslims deny God as a redeemer. Suggesting the Muslim god and the Christian God are the same God is only to try to pull the wool over people's eyes.
In regard to the keeping of the commandments, several differences must be noted: First, as stated above, the object of the first commandment is different. Christians love “God” who is the legitimate object of love, in that everything in him from his being, to his revelation, to his works, to his sacrifice, to his commands, etc., are lovely. Muslims, however, worship a task master, even if an imagined one, whose attributes and ways are other than lovely. Second, the motive is different. Christians love God because he first loved us, whereas the motive of Muslims is different in that they must seek to first show love in order to merit and receive the God’s love. This is the difference between idolatry and divinity. Third, because there's a difference between the God of Christianity who is love and the god of Muslims which is a hater of unbelievers and wants to destroy them, a different result is found in the followers of God: the result for Christians of being loved and coming to know the love of God is to love one another and even love one's enemies; whereas the result for Muslims whose god hates and delights in destruction is not only to hate one's enemies but also to display hatred and fighting among one another as evidenced between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. Finally, love for one’s neighbor means something different in that as Christians we not only possess a different source and motivation of love for our neighbors, but we are even called to love our enemies. (Compare this with the treatment in Muslim nations of those who because they are not Muslims are considered "enemies of Islam". Consider also the following verses:
Surah 5:73 "The unbelievers are those who say God is one of three. There is but one God. If they do not desist from so saying, those of them that disbelieve shall be sternly punished."
Surah 8:39 "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion[Islam] shall reign supreme."
Surah 5:51 "O' you who believe take not the Jews and the Chrristian for your friends and protectors. They are friend and protectors to each other."
Surah 4:81 "Seize them, slay them whereever you find them. In any case take no friend or helper from their ranks."
Surah 5:14 "From those to who call themselves Christian, we did take a covenant but they forgot a good part of the message that was said to them. So we estranged them with enmity and hatred between one and the other to the day of judgment and soo will Allah show them what they have done."
Surah 4:101 "...for the unbelievers are unto you open enemies"
Surah 5:29 "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day."
Surah 2:190 "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you..."
Hadith 9:57 "Whoever changed his Islamic religion,then kill him."
III. THE MUSLIM SUGGESTION
The Muslin suggestion that Jesus by stating in Mark 9:40 that “for whoever is not against us is for us” suggests that Christians should be for Muslims is no less of a half truth and deceit as when Satan sought to deceive Eve by saying “Did God really say you cannot eat…?” While Jesus’ statement remains true, it’s also true that Muslims fundamentally stand in opposition to Christ and his kingdom. While there may be points of commonality and agreement concerning issues within the present life, that’s far different than suggesting the two faiths walk hand in hand and are on the same team. Muslims are not “for us”, but rather for the very spiritual kingdom which stands opposed to us.
IV. THE MUSLIM METHODOLOGY
As Muslims themselves confess, their belief is that it’s okay to deal dishonestly and deceitfully with others if one does so with the interest of Allah’s kingdom in mind. This means that suggesting that the two faiths worship the same God even if in fact they don’t (Muslims don’t believe we do either!) is okay in the eyes of Muslims if in the end it serves to open the door for Muslim advancement.
Additionally, the tactic of asserting that Muslims are open to better relations with Christians as long as we don’t “drive them out of their homes.” is nothing more than to remove the spotlight now on the Muslim community and to try to cast suspicion upon the Christian community.
V. THE MUSLIM ASSERTION
The Muslim letter makes the claim that “The "survival of the world" is at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace with each other…” While on one level, it’s true that situations in the world are affected by the relations and actions of men, on another level it’s also true that the survival of the world depends ultimately upon God who will sustain the world until the salvation of all the elect and certainly does not require peace between Muslims and Christians to bring this about. While again, it’s true on one level that Christians has join with Muslims and others in taking steps for various levels of peace in the world, that’s far different that to suggest (and/or manipulate) Christians into thinking peace must be made with Muslims for the sake of the world’s survival, all the while this tactic is simply being used to advance Islam.
Additionally, it must be pointed out that "Our eternal souls are at stake" but in a different way than the Muslims suggest. The souls of believers rest eternally secure in Christ regardless of what transpires regarding relationships or weapons on earth. While Muslims may need to look to their efforts here as part of the means of meriting eternal salvation and reward, this is not case for believers. Having already found life and peace with God, we seek peace here in living out the life of
God, not to secure it. Certainly, denying differences between Muslims and Christians is not necessary unto the eternal peace and rest of our souls.
VI. THE MUSLIM RESPONSE
While the Muslim letter suggests Muslims are for peace and even for Christianity, if history and Islamic tradition (which states that Muslims before attacking others must first warn and reach out to their enemies, and which shows that Muslims engage in "hit and run" tactics only to "hit again" until they control) is prophetic of the future, this wide scale corporate "reaching out" (especially if/when rejected) could lead to some of the greatest disunity and terror/fighting the world has seen (on the part of Muslims). For this reason, perhaps the best response of Christian leaders is to simply draw attention to the need of Muslims to use such a letter to try to recast their perception, and point out why there not common ground in the areas Muslims are asserting and leave it at that. This we can be sure of though, skepticism is in order regarding whether when rejected Muslims are seen to display the love and peace they now not only propose to submit to but hold out as their committed intention.
While MUCH more could be written, and I trust will by leaders within the Christian community, hopefully this writing will draw attention by believers to the fact that there’s more to the Muslim letter than what many in the populace will see in it. Forget not that there’s a spiritual battle and those of this world are clever and crafty in the ways of the world; and yet God is not caught off guard. He knows all, takes all into account, and even uses it all for the sake of bringing the gospel to his people and bringing about the kingdom of his Son!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
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