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Friday, August 22, 2014

Increase my courage Lord

Posted by Gary on February 2, 2008

Jude 1:3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

An article by Lucas Weeks posted via BaylyBlog calls our attention to something very concerning regarding the Christian faith. (See Lucas’s article here). Last October a number of Muslim scholars sent Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders a document/letter entitled, “A Common Word Between Us and You” (read it here). One month later, dozens of Christian leaders responded in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, (See their response here).

The response from the Christian leaders is very troubling. Follow the document throughout and what is more than implied is that Christians and Muslims are seeking the same God. The letter is a comparative, you believe this, we also believe this. Of course what is never addressed are the things we do not believe together and these things do not allow the allusion that we are speaking of the same God or the same salvation.

The Christian response centers on two points of agreement those being love for God and love for man. Do we see what is being claimed here? The claim is that the foundation of the Christian faith rests upon man’s effort, his love for God and then loving his fellow man. A question must be asked immediately, if loving God and loving our fellow man is our faith and therefore results in gaining heaven, why did Jesus Christ die on the cross? Did God send His Son to die when it was not really necessary for Him to die? The response these Christian leaders composed it must be said, is a denial of the basic tenant of Christianity which is the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We do not define Christianity by love for God and man but by naming Jesus Christ the Son of God and pointing to the cross on which He died for man’s sin.

Here are some especially concerning excerpts from the Christian response:

“Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.

As desirable and important peace is, the future of the world does not depend upon the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. The future of the world depends upon God Himself. “Our eternal souls”? Will any dialogue include a frank discussion about what each faith claims about the destiny of our souls? The claim of Scripture concerning Jesus is: Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” According to the Bible it is my relationship to Jesus Christ that determines the destiny of my soul not my relationship with people of other faiths.

“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.”

Listen carefully to this statement, “…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.” God is spoken of singly here, throughout the document the shared belief that God is one is heralded. But do we understand that in saying to the Muslim that we are going to look to the one God together for what He wants is to validate the claim of the Muslim to true knowledge of God? The picture clearly painted here is that we are going to approach this one God together to see what He wants. Does a Christian believe a Muslim can do this?

“What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and love of neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam as well.

This sounds so wonderful but it is so untrue and dangerous. The foundational principle of Christianity is not love, at least not love originating from me toward God or anyone else. That love is vital to Christianity is undeniable but these false teachers claim that the foundation of our faith is our love being expressed to God and then others. This response reeks of human works and effort. The foundational principle of Christianity is that God loved us and sent His Son to die for us: 1 John 4:9-10 “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together.”

Our undeniable differences can, do and must overshadow the common ground we share for our differences include the nature of the God each faith claims and how man can know Him and have redemption. What earthly goal is more important than a true statement of God’s person and true statement of how I can have a relationship with God and spend eternity with Him? If I take this statement as it stands blasphemy and damnation are worthy prices to pay as long as we can say we get along. If this is the case, the Christian faith needs to apologize for the actions of its martyrs who, instead of dying because they could not compromise their differences of faith should have set them aside to pursue the greater goal (so called) of being at peace with their persecutors.

Am I to love people of the Muslim faith? Without question. Should I seek to live at peace with the Muslim? Of course and with the Jew, Hindu and atheist as well. What I am not to do is to seek peace by validating that which God’s Word tells me is untrue. What is being pursued in the Christian response is not peace and it directly contradicts what Jesus Himself said: Matthew 10:34-36 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”

How different the approach of the signers of the Christian response is to the Apostle Paul.

Acts 17:22-23  So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

Comments

3 Responses to “Increase my courage Lord”
  1. Tim Bayly says:

    Very helpful, Gary. Thank you.

  2. Bill says:

    Normally, reading such things would have me troubled and angry throughout the day…if not week(s). Feeling as if I needed to do something to stop such false teachings…

    However, this is why I’m thankful for The prophecies of The Bible. Which tell us of such events indicating the end times. If God is Sovereign…as I believe He is…then, stories like this…at some much worse to come…are inevitable. For me…now…I have complete rest in knowing that these things must come to pass and that God is in control and will have final victory.

    For me personally, I have come to a place where these stories no longer upset me or cause alarm…These things must come to pass…and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Its God’s battle to win…not mine.

  3. Gary says:

    Dear Bill,

    You are right, God is sovereign and the battle is His. But God being sovereign does not mean He does not require something of us. I chose the verse at the outset of the post on purpose, “Contend for the faith…”

    God is sovereign but we are to contend. It is God’s battle but we are His people and soldiers and we have a responsibility and much may be required of us in God bringing about His victory.

    I agree that in one way we are not to be alarmed at yet Ephesians 6 tells us that we are engaged in warfare with principalities and powers and are to take the Sword of the Spirit-God’s Word in our hands.

    I think brother you and I are to do something to stop these teachings at least the distortion of Christianity that is at work here, how God decides to let things play out is His decision.

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