So I had an interesting response that someone wrote to me on my last post. I will quote it here then respond below. The response said:
“An Alternative Christian Response to Anti-Islamic Extremism”
As your brother in Christ, I must fundamentally disagree with your article’s ideology. As with the Obsession video, when exposing individuals to a particular religion’s worldview, which promotes and encourages a certain type behavior, inherently evil in nature, are we then to merely classify the exposure as an “US vs. Them” manipulative dialectic rhetoric? In an attempt to appear tolerant and loving, should we as Christians sacrifice Truth on the altar of political correctness, dense with the aroma of non-confrontationalism?
The Muslim faith is wrong: It’s God (Allah) is false; its alleged historical beginnings distort the promise our Father established with our Jewish brothers and sisters; it supports necessary violence against “infidels” – like Jews and Christians – as well as tyranny. It’s a false religion, cleverly disguised by the enemy with subtle cloaks of moral truth.
Frank, what exactly do you think Christian Love is?
Is it Christ explaining what happens to the ‘wicked and lazy servant?’
Maybe it’s Christ calling the Pharisees “empty” and full of “dead men’s bones; or how about calling them “wicked” and “children of the devil?”
Better yet, what about Christ driving the money-changers out of the temple with a bull-whip. Is that Love?
The Answer: Yes, it’s Love.
Not your definition; not mine; but the Lord’s.
As can be biblically demonstrated, part of God’s Love is making people aware of the Truth – right and wrong; good and evil. The difference between where He is, where they are, and where they should be.
Just because I don’t agree with someone’s religious view, and I openly express it, does not make me or any other Christian a “hater.”
You cited the following as a “general message from the Middle-East:”
“We don’t hate you, and we love your democracy, we are just completely frustrated by the American foreign policy, don’t trust you to spread democracy (with US support of such non-democratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt), and feel humiliated by the western ignorance of our religious and cultural identities.”
Call it whatever you prefer: when “frustration” leads to violence that is a sin, identified as “hate.” Finally, I do believe that Muslims love democracy – not our kind, but theirs; the kind of one-way democracy that says Muslims can say and do whatever their faith promotes. However, no other religion is afforded that same right, especially when the views of the opposing religion are critical of Muslim beliefs.
A Brother in Christ,
Thank you for taking the time to respond. While I usually write representing World Faith, I will take advantage of this opportunity to address you as a Christian, in theological terms. Firstly I would like to address your confusion of Love and Judgement from a theological point of view.
Christ, both of the carnes and the logos of God (God in word and flesh) (e.g. John 1:1-3), represents both Love and Judgement. The instances you mentioned are examples of Judgement, while Jesus called him to follow Him in his examples of Love.
So what is Jesus judging? Hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who judged others by laws not in line with God’s intention, false teaches, and pride. He judged the money changers in the Temple, who abused what is Sacred for personal gain.
Interestingly enough is noting who Jesus didn’t Judge: First, Jesus did not judge the woman caught in bed with man (John 8:1-11), but rather chose this opportunity to teach us the association of judgement and hypocrisy. He announced, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Thus, in an opportunity of condemnation, Jesus chose to love. His expression of love occurs while acknowledging her wrongdoing, but chooses forgiveness. Jesus makes a pattern of this. Another example of this is when He met the Samaritan woman at the well, who was divorced and living with a man not her husband (John 4:7-28). What is so telling about this verse is that Jesus was bestowed love to one who was not a Jew, but a Samaritan, a religious community consider apostates by Jews (they were former slaves by the Persians, taken from Israel at the end of Hoshea’s rule in 722 BC [2 Kings 17:1-2]). Thus, Jesus’s love and judgement are two seperate expression we must understand.
So we know from both the “the first stone” and from “the speck plank in your eye” that judgement is reserved for God, and our duty is to live our live by God’s law, and not judging ourselves, but loving others. Jesus calls us to love. He taught, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12-13).
Eddie, you asked ‘what is love?’ Specifically referring to God’s love, let’s use the New Testament as our basis, which is written in Koine Greek. While Classical Greek had some seven words for love, the New Testament uses three words for Love, one reserved only for God. The first is storgas, which means natural, family-like love (see 2 Tim 3:3). The second is phileo, which is friendship, based on knowledge and appreciation (see John 21:15-17). The final Love, which Jesus embodies, is agape, which is unconditional, perfect love, which requires sacrifice (see Mark 10:51). This is what we are to strive for, and this is how we as Christians should base our love, off His Word, and His example.
Know that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), and we can’t ”cast the first stone” with sin, we are not fit to judge, and must love. Now to address your comments on Islam.
While I personally have several irreconcilable issues with Islam theologically speaking, which would deter me of ever converting, I find your comments to be highly misinformed. While I am not the authority on Islam, I have studied the entire Quran over a two-year period, and have spent 8 months in majority-Muslim countries, often while doing independent research on Christian-Muslim relations. There are several key things you are mistaken on, which give rise to a deeper issue of misunderstanding.
To address specifics, first you stated that Islam “supports necessary violence against ‘infidels’ – like Jews and Christians – as well as tyranny.” Firstly, the Quran plainly states that “whosoever killeth a human being, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind,” (5:32). Many fatwa’s (religious rulings) have been issued reiterating this point, but you won’t see it on the evening news. Furthermore, in Islam, Christians and Jews are not considered Kafir (infidels), but are Ahl al-Kitaab, or People of the Book. POTB were said to be the blessed. The Quran states, “Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve,” (2:62). This elucidates a lack of exposure to the theology, history, and the debate therein of Islam on your part.
Teaching of violence you say? Acts of violence? Ironically a friend of mine was suppose to meet me in Beirut, but got stuck in Chicago for the weekend. That weekend, 18 were shot to death in Chicago, Beirut none. Yet that isn’t the story as we seem to hear it from the media. Or extremist clerics? Try this quote:
“You’ve got to kill the infidels before the killing stops. And I’m for the leader to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Allah.”
Sound familiar? It’s actually: ”You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I’m for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” -Pastor Jerry Falwell
So is Christianity now a religion of violence because one man invokes God to support communal violence? I pray not, and I know the Bible well enough to know better. But if I didn’t? Perhaps if all i heard were the crazy pastors (who are plentiful) spewing edicts of hatred, I would fear Christianity as a violent force. Now let’s bring it back around: If you don’t know the teachings of Islam, and the media focuses on those who teach unislamic violence, then you probably have a skewed image of a religion of over a billion people.
Getting specific on Obsession, I know the organization(s) that made the film, namely the Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah International, and met a representative of theirs during the showing at NYU two years ago. Fittingly, it was the Jewish students who so vehemently opposed the film, saying, “How dare they (Clarion/Aish) represent us with such a hateful message!”
in Obsession, the message was clear, “don’t love your neighbor, fear your neighbor.” Is fear included in love? Quite the opposite: John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Fear, as we know, is not of God.
How is this wrong? Well fear is aroused for no reason, but they serve a purpose. Whether political, financial, or personal, they abused the Sacred for personal gain. They, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, are the moneychangers in the Temple. They are the haters.
So this bring me back to the essence of the op-ed I wrote. All religions have a those who abuse religious language for political gain. Rather than getting caught up in that and doing hurtful things, like attacking a filled mosque with gas irritants, rendering scores into hospitalization, we should do something else. We should take our Muslim neighbor out to coffee, ask our Jewish friends questions about their faith, read about a faith you know very little. We should love.
Brother Eddie, it is not despite my faith that I have dedicated my life to developing opportunities for young people to understand each other across faith identities, but it is because of it. This is my mission field, and as I have explained above, it is in pursuit of loving as Christ loved. I am taking a stand as a Christian and saying I am not a hater. A god that taught hate and fear would be no god I could worship. So, Eddie, are you a hater? If not, then join me for a discussion in a service project sometime.
PS parting quote: ”You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.” -Anne Lamott