Thought Question: Hospitality and Islam

jummahChallenging post from Jason Micheli at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog. I’m still hiatusing (not a real word, but it should be). Here’s a key quote, but do take the time to read the whole thing.

Several years ago the church I serve opened the doors of its youth wing to welcome the members of a local mosque. Their own facility was undergoing construction and they needed a place to offer their Friday Jummah prayers. Even though many of the Muslims who came to pray in our building were the same people who drove cabs in our neighborhood, owned the service stations that inspect our cars, cared for our aging parents in the nursing homes, and cleaned our locker rooms at the gym, many from the community greeted the worshippers with fear.

As the Other.

As the enemy.

The members of my church council voted unanimously to show hospitality to our Muslim neighbors; the gesture was not so unanimous in the larger congregation. Many church members and families left over the decision.

Here’s the question: What do you think?

If you were an elder at a church that received such a request, what decision would you make?

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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74 Responses to Thought Question: Hospitality and Islam

  1. JP Manzi says:

    Cliché’ using this; however, “what would Jesus do?” sounds quite appropriate. I am certain we know what Jesus would do in that situation…..

    “and they know we are Christians by our love, by our love………”

  2. Here I find myself in the shoes of Tevye, the Jewish father in Fiddler on the Roof. After changing his traditions to accommodate his first two daughters’ marriages, his third daughter asks Tevye to change a basic tenet of his faith to accommodate her marriage. In the first two cases, he holds forth his tradition and then admits “on the other hand…” things could be different than his traditions. But when his third daughter seeks his blessing to marry a non-Jew, the tormented Tevye is forced to acknowledge in agony, “There is NO other hand!”

    And while I believe in love and kindness to people who do not know Jesus, Islam actually worships a false god –Allah– who claims to be the One True God. I know our meeting halls are not holy places in the traditional sense of the word, but this smacks of the Romans setting up worship of their own gods in The Temple. To welcome those into our home who are in error in so many ways about Jesus, yes, I am all for that. We have plenty of errors of our own. To offer our buildings for the community to use for civic purposes, by all means! But to welcome the worship of a being who boldly claims the identity of the Almighty in the hearts of so many is a bridge too far for me. I cannot bid “God speed” to Allah’s worshipers. I will sit with them at a meal, I will serve them in my community and I will show them all the kindness that God enables me to. I will pray for the opportunity to present the real Jesus to them. And I will not judge a group for disagreeing with my position.

    But there is a line somewhere between our faithfulness to the One True God and our making room for a false god, and that distinction seems to me to be about as important as it gets.

  3. Christopher says:

    John, the “apostle of love”, said this:

    If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

    So I am not sure how proper it is to allow Muslims into a church building to conduct their own prayers. Fear isn’t the issue. There are LOTS of ways to demonstrate love to individual Muslims, but allowing them to think their very false religion is equivalent to Christianity seems like the wrong thing to do.

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    Years ago I would never have considered what I am going to say now to be option. Wait a minute “option” I am not sure that we should consider options. But, thinking about the communications between Jesus and the Pharisees.
    Mat 9:9-13 ESV As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. (10) And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. (11) And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (12) But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (13) Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    And Paul in Athens.
    Act 17:22-23 ESV So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. (23) For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
    Jesus also said, Mar 2:17 ESV And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Would Jesus have considered these as sick (lost) people?

    So as we think about the event Jay describes. Were these people any different than those whom Paul addressed in Athens? Paul associated with them to teach. These people were willing to enter into and make use of a building owned by Christians whom they knew did not condone their beliefs. I would have believed that Jesus would have met also with them, not to participate in their worship but to allow them to know that he understood totally their beliefs. This could have given him an opening or opportunity to communicate with them about a different belief system.
    Think again about Elijah as he was in contest of the prophets of Baal. This great confirmation of The God of Israel could not have happened except both the prophets of Baal and Elijah were in communication.
    Somewhere in our past we have been programmed that if we even enter into a building of a denomination different than than our sect, that we become a sinner condemned to Hell. I am certain of this from first hand experience.
    Yet, Jesus and his Apostles were regularly attending Synagogues of Jews and teaching, no one ever accused them of sinning against Christianity in these actions. It was the Jews who cast out the Christians.
    Let us examine this from a different prospective. What if the Christian place of worship had been unavailable, would any Christians enter into a Mosque which was made available while the Christian worship center was undergoing repairs. If they did, would they not feel honored if some of the Muslims attended their services?
    Do you suppose that God opened a door and no one responded?

  5. Larry Cheek says:

    Again we are reminded about how our worship time is concentrated into the assembly which is something never displayed in NT teachings. Early Christians did not call their assemblies worship with the same power as we have placed into them. Early assemblies were for edification and building up each other, and was never described as a Holy Place or Holy Event as we have concocted. It was mentioned in the post that these people served us in many ways in everyday life. So what would be the difference of being with them as they worshiped their god in a ritual than being with them as we are worshiping God even while they are performing services for us, cab driver, station owner selling us products, etc:? We are never to cease our worship to God, so we are supposed to be worshiping as we are being served. They may never suspect it though because many Christians do not project to those of the world that their lives are in continual worship to The God of The Universe.

  6. The situation demonstrates a fundamental and common lack of leadership knowledge and skills by the church council. They did something with all good intentions that drove away Christians instead of strengthening Christians. Bringing in Muslims to pray in the youth center is a major change. Assuming that a major change would just happen without problems is some kind of infantile silliness.

    Teach first. Teach adult classes and use sermons to address this question, this request. Delve into the issues of Islam and the history of clashes of Christianity and Islam. Delve into what would Jesus do and what happened to Paul and others. Give people information and time. Listen to them.

    This shows a separation of the “leaders” and the “followers” in this church. Such separations exist just about everywhere. Act like you know what you are doing.

  7. David Himes says:

    I’m actually a little surprised how I feel about this topic.

    If I owned a commercial building, available to the public to rent, I believe it would be appropriate to rent it to a Muslim community for their use.

    However, the issue here, is whether a Christian community should accommodate a Muslim group — who teaches something contrary to Christian faith.

    While I understand the inclination, based upon principles of hospitality, to accommodate a Muslim group and allow them to use the facility, I think it is an unwise decision — because the message that comes out of that is that the Muslim message is somehow acceptable.

    While it is acceptable, in the context of religious liberty, it is not acceptable in the context of our faith. As others have noted before me in these comments, the Text advises us not fellowship with those who bring a message that is contrary to the gospel of Jesus.

  8. laymond says:

    “I’m still hiatusing” You can’t say you are still hiatusing, if you are taking a “hiatus” from hiatusing.

  9. Dwight says:

    Instead of rejecting a Muslim or even homosexual, I can make it clear, by posting scriptures anywhere and everywhere within the structure of what I believe and why, so as to not be offensive, but also to let anyone, not just that one group, know my stand and my faith.
    Now in regards to making a cake that has something that specifically goes against my faith (like words or pictures or two men on top) or (praise to Allah), you might as well ask me to deny my faith, but to make a cake and then have others change it to how they wish it to be doesn’t make me deny what I believe.

  10. Chris says:

    I agree with Charles and Christopher. There are others ways to display one’s love to followers of Allah. Islam is not the same as opening your church up to Baptist, Methodist or Pentecostals, i.e. other Christian denominations, who share the same core belief in Jesus. Islam is an entirely different religion/teachg and would, in my opinion, contradict scripture’s strong warning as noted in Christopher’s post above.

  11. Dwight says:

    I agree that Islam, much like Buddhism, etc. is contradictory to Christ, in denying Christ, but then again so is Mormonism and or Catholicism, in how they define who is worthy of being followed and worshipped and adding commands that are against Christ and promoting others for worship, Mary, Pope. There were those during the time of the apostles that were presenting a gospel, which was a perverted gospel, that were told to be rejected.
    Just because one enters wearing a cross, doesn’t make them any better or worse than one who doesn’t and has something else. Loving our enemies means doing things for people we might not like.
    Much of it comes down to what we perceive and what we can tolerate and the thoughts and actions we take in between these things.
    One who treats another who is un-Godly in an un-Godly manner is not being Godly.

  12. Christopher says:

    Dwight wrote:

    Loving our enemies means doing things for people we might not like.

    But it doesn’t mean doing ANYTHING we might not like. Paul teaches us, with the example of meat sacrificed to idols, to not violate our consciences. In the case presented by Jay, it sounds as if the elders might have (at least in some instances conceivably) upset the faith of some members. So I suspect Dwayne is correct in his comments.

    The verse I cited from 2 John speaks of not inviting people preaching a different religion into your HOME (the very reason I never let Jehovah’s Witnesses or similar groups, when they are evangelizing, into my house). Is a church building a home for the church? Are not Muslims using such a building for prayers practicing another religion? Do not Muslims believe the world must be converted?

    How does Jesus indicate we are to love our neighbors? By feeding them when they are hungry, clothing them when they are naked, housing them when they are homeless, healing them when they are sick. How does accomodating another’s wish to practice a doctrine taught by demons fit into this paradigm? And how did Jesus treat the money changers in the Temple?

    I don’t have to be right on this issue; just convince me I am wrong if you think my faith is weak.

  13. Mark says:

    Jesus also said “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    Stephen said “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”

    Both prayers were uttered right before death.

  14. Dwight says:

    Christopher, you are correct. I don’t eat lima beans because I do not like them. If doing something goes against our faith, then that is not a good thing to do.
    I’m not sure inviting someone into our home is equivalent with someone coming into our place of business, where as in one you are personally associating “greet him” and the other you are not.
    And I think the concept of inviting into the home has to do with eating and socializing, rather than pure Bible study.
    Loving another means doing things for others, but we may not accept what they are doing and we shouldn’t be complicit in helping them in their mistake.
    so I would not have helped others who reject Jesus in practicing a religion that rejects Jesus. You either eat at the table of God or the table of demons, you cannot do both or be complicit in both, by helping others to that end.
    One of the interesting things is that in the Middle East many are converting to Christ due to the fact that they see Christ in the people around them that are helping them in their need, even while not retracting from their own Christianity and beliefs. The Christians offer mercy and love to all, even those who they disagree with, where Islam offers none, except to themselves, and in this they are picky.

  15. Monty says:

    One wouldn’t help facilitate a prostitute in the practice of her profession even if it meant putting more bread on her table , nor would one help facilitate a meth cooker and distributor in his profession,(even if it helped him put his kids through college) nor any other groups of people where to facilitate them means we help them practice something illegal, morally wrong, anti-Christian or a combination of the three. To share our facilities is to bid them Godspeed. And that’s way different than showing compassion when they are in need of daily sustenance. I wouldn’t share our church building with the Westborough Baptist, for them to practice their hate, even if on paper we worship the same God. I would certainly try to address any survival needs they had. Could we or would we offer our buildings to the LGBT community for their rally’s? I’m sure some churches would. And they would pat themselves on the back for in their view(being like Jesus). It seems Political Correctness and the desire to want to be “with-it”(culturally) is attempting to hijack and redefine even the teachings of Jesus. I don’t think it has to do with “fear” at all. That is how the argument is framed though. You’re a “homophobe” or an “Islamaphobe”. You’re “racist.” You’re a “hater”. No one wants to be labeled, so it’s just easier to cave(even if you were none of those things) then to stand on convictions.

  16. Monty says:

    Willimon does a good bit of “fear shaming” in his article and I wrote the above comments first before reading his article. I wonder if there is no line Willimon wouldn’t draw? Would he desire we cater to those teaching Radical Islam? Is that being like Jesus? After all, it is a form of Islamic religion. Would he knowingly facilitate those who would seek to harm others? Those practicing Jihad? How much of an “enemy” can a person or group be and we still practice the sharing of our facilities? “What’s ours is yours brother!” It’s not exactly like allowing the use of our building to the Boy Scouts is it? Do you allow Muslims to practice their beliefs in your facility if you first enquire and deduce what strain of Islam they will be teaching? Would some strains be allowed and others denied? Of if they only use your building as a place of prayer and no formal teaching? What exactly would Jesus do, is sometimes easier for some to deduce than others. Loving people unlike you was taught under the Law, but just try imagining allowing the use of the temple under Solomon as a place where pagans could come and offer sacrifices to their gods and pray to their gods for the sake of loving enemies and it doesn’t fit.

  17. Chris says:

    Perhaps the most unloving thing one can do is to allow someone to continue in error. It seems in the effort to show “love” to others, we often end up doing more harm than good. Did not Paul have strong warnings to those who welcomed a different gospel? Islam is a different Gospel. What would Jesus do? I think his apostles make it quiet clear.

  18. Dwight says:

    One thing I think the scriptures point out is that although Jesus ate with sinners, this was relative since all were sinners, but this was especially true in the eyes of the Jewish leaders of the common people, even though they were less so in relation to God and Jesus.
    But Jesus didn’t eat with those the scriptures directly condemned and Jesus didn’t seek to eat with the Sadducees/Pharisees/ Jewish leaders that were leading the people astray.
    Jesus helped people, but didn’t help people in their sins or in their denial of Him as the savior to achieve that goal, which is why he didn’t associate with or support any of the groups like the Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.
    It might be in another’s best interest to feed another and Godly, but it is not in Christ best interest to facilitate a religion that is in opposition to Christ and His message and unGodly.

  19. Chris says:

    As stated above, I don’t believe that opening up your church building for others to come and pray to a false god is a wise idea. It may be “hospitable” but not all that very loving, to in essence, condone the worship of a false diety.

    “The members of my church council voted unanimously to show hospitality to our Muslim neighbors; the gesture was not so unanimous in the larger congregation. Many church members and families left over the decision.”

    Sounds like the council, in their zeal to show hospitality to Muslims, were willing to bring harm and division to their own local body of believers in Christ. The author appears to be lacking humility when it comes to his view of those who disapproved. I think the author should hold a mirror up and reflect, and ask what options could be available without causing harm to the body. Were members taught about Islam and how to witness to them in their daily walk? Did concerned members have an opportunity to voice their fears and concerns? Was there strong scriptural support for their actions? How much time was spent in prayer over this decision? Was there fear of the Muslims or fear of offending God by allowing worship and prayers to a false god?

    Too many questions and so little insight. Certainly not enough to seemingly throw some members under the bus for their lack of cooperation. I just have difficulty over how this appeared to be handled. In the desire to show the love of Christ to others, it appears to be handled in such an unloving, unscriptural and unChrist like way.

  20. Ray Downen says:

    For Muslims to meet in a building dedicated for the use of God’s people is to recognize that the Muslims do seek to please God. This is not always the case. Some do. Some don’t. Their idea of God is an Old Testament tyrant rather than a God who so loves the world that He gave His Son in order that people might have life. If the particular Muslims involved LOVE God and serve a god of LOVE, surely they should be welcomed.

  21. Charlie M. says:

    God rewards sincere truth seekers.

    A-Paul (not to be confused with RuPaul) always seeks common ground before talking about his own search for truth: “I see you guys are really religious folks (Athens),” or “Tell me about baptism as you’ve experienced it (Epheus).” I don’t know if I do that as well as I should.

    Let’s face it–the “other” is highly unlikely to walk into the church office one day and say, “Show me the REAL (I.e., your) Way.”

    The youth wing? Really? Have I become so “building-centric” that the mere presence of someone seeking God in a different way than I do using a small part of our building threatens me or my own belief? How tenuous it must be! What about people who come to church and don’t worship with sincere hearts at all? Aren’t they, in our traditional vocabulary, just as doomed as people who believe differently than we? Yet, we camel-swallow that.

    What if the group were orthodox Jews? Would we feel differently?

    Let’s try another angle. What would you say if 50 people who don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ show up at your church every week at a specified time? Isn’t that a evangelistic church’s dream come true? I’m not saying line the walls with H Leo Boles tracts. I’m saying here is a chance to show the Jesus-definition of his disciples.

    When we are told to be hospitable, are there caveats attached to that? Are there faith tests that God requires before we are to extend a hand? Should we check visitors for drug use, alcoholism, STDs? All of this is assuming that they are not religious at all. But to have people who pray to God five times a day coming to a place that I use maybe 12 hours in a week to use a small part of the building? Come on…

    As for people leaving the fellowship over this or any issue– if we are trying to do Bible things Bible ways, please Remind me BCV where this is ever, ever, ever condoned by scripture/God. If anything, it seems that those who leave when their comfort zones are violated are not acknowledging the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    “What does God require? Seek justice. Show mercy. Walk humbly.” Goes for Christians, Muslims, Jews, or anyone.

  22. Christopher says:

    CM wrote:

    But to have people who pray to God five times a day coming to a place that I use maybe 12 hours in a week to use a small part of the building? Come on…

    Since you have asked for BCV support for people leaving the fellowship over any issue (would the hiring of a transgendered minister be alright with you, then?), please provide a BCV refutation of contrary opinions (rather than generalizations that come to your mind). The two Biblical examples you cite are not comparable to the situation at hand.

    Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that not only she, but her whole ethnic group, was worshipping what they don’t know – that salvation was from the Jews. He likened the Phoenician woman to a dog. He called Pharisees snakes, whitewashed tombs and blind guides. He asked them how they could escape being condemed to Hell. I guess I missed where the minister of this church did anything like that. Just who is going to have the stones to TELL these Muslims they have the wrong religion?

    Jesus was a servant to all who met people’s ESSENTIAL needs. Yet He did not pull any punches when it came to speaking the truth. They don’t need a building in which to babble prayers of many words that Jesus indicates are not heard. They need to be acquainted with the truth. If the minister had told them that he would inquire of the congregation for permission AFTER telling them (without judgement) what Jesus had to say about prayer and Him being the only means of coming to God, I would feel differently. But it sounds like he was willing to accomodate them in the hope that somehow a light is going to suddenly turn on in their heads after using a church building and they will all wish to “come to Jesus”. From my experience, I rather doubt it. I have reached out to hundreds and hundreds of people over the years. What moves people is grace and kindness when it is undeserved or unexpected. You know, bringing a meal over to new neighbors, feeding and housing a homeless person for a night, taking a terminally ill single brother into your home the last few months of his life, giving the unbelieving husband of a sister a ride home thirty miles out of your way, being a big brother to kids with cancer and so on. But religious (rather than righteous) people are the hardest to move. It seems Jesus felt they needed to be shaken up with His words.

  23. Chris says:

    Jay, there are certainly different opinions regarding this. When you come back from hiatus, can you please let us know your thoughts on it? Thanks!

  24. Charlie M. says:

    Christopher said:
    “But religious (rather than righteous) people are the hardest to move. It seems Jesus felt they needed to be shaken up with His words.”

    Well said.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Chris,

    Laymond was very clear: no hiatusing from hiatusing.

    PS — Working on Pepperdine notes, which includes rewriting my book on baptism. And there’s other stuff …

    So the hiatus remains on go.

    PPS — I have no idea what’s right re the Muslims.

  26. Chris says:

    Praying that your Pepperdine presentation goes well.

  27. Christopher says:

    One more thought on this subject. While I have little interest now in picking apart others’ doctrines, I think it’s important to note that the minister who penned the article Jay linked to is apparently from the UMC. So I thought I might see what their beliefs were on a subject of historical concern to the CoC, infant baptism (or sprinkling):

    Understanding the practice as an authentic expression of how God works in our lives, The United Methodist Church strongly advocates the baptism of infants within the faith community: “Because the redeeming love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, extends to all persons and because Jesus explicitly included the children in his kingdom, the pastor of each charge shall earnestly exhort all Christian parents or guardians to present their children to the Lord in Baptism at an early age” (1992 Book of Discipline, par. 221)” (para. 226, 2012 Book of Discipline).

    It needn’t be stressed that there are no examples of infants being baptized in the NT; only examples of infants being circumcised in the OT. And, since it is obvious from many NT passages that some are washed away in baptism after having repented, there is no reason to baptize infants who don’t know enough to choose good over evil and can’t even talk.

    I would say to this minister something similar to what Jesus said to Nicodemus: if you don’t know how to be born again, how can you teach Muslims the things of God?

  28. Christopher says:

    Edit: some = sins.

    That’s what I get for commenting via a small tablet that always wants to think for stupid old me. The dumbing down of America. Companies everywhere want to think (and now drive) for us.

  29. Dwight says:

    Unfortunately this is where the church and the church building become confused.
    The church is people and family and as family the church meets together as brother’s and sisters of Christ. The congregation or church or family was never designed to admit others in to the fold unless they are family first through conversion.
    Now allowing another into our “church” building isn’t allowing them into the church.
    But it does allow a compliance and complicitness in facilitating something that is false and against God in its basic structure. While they may seek God, the seek God not through Christ, but through Mohammad, who didn’t die for mankind and wasn’t the Son of God and the savior of all. They deny Christ as all of these things in fact.
    The early church wouldn’t have had this issue as they didn’t have buildings and they wouldn’t have allowed them into their homes in worship and fellowship, so it is our creation of the building that creates a this mess to some regards. True the building isn’t the Temple and shouldn’t be treated as such, but then again it should as all things we do be used to the glory of God by those who love God. The building could be used as a shelter or soup kitchen, but not to promote something unGodly.

  30. Dustin says:

    If we had personal relationships with the local mosques and knew the imams, this would be an easier question to answer for the congregation. Most religious groups promote peace, only a select few promote violence (Westboro Baptist, ISIS) and those groups should not be allowed to practice hate in any place. Moreover, showing love to a group doesn’t promote that particular group. It shows love. Several commenters like Ray, JP, and Larry have preached love here.

    It is projected by 2050 that Islam will become the world’s largest religion. This is definitely because of their strong faith. They have plenty to teach us on that front. Plenty of pastors, theologians, and the pope believe that we worship the same God. Arabic Christians say Allah just as Muslims do when speaking of God. Whether we worship the same God can definitely be argued ad infinitum.

    Whether we agree or disagree on allowing Muslims worship in our buildings, I think it is more important to understand Islam. I see hints of misinformation in many posts. Most Muslims, like Christians are peaceful and want to be more like God. They have helped protect Christians and help build churches in many areas in the Islamic world. Like Christianity, Islam has many denominations that are conservative, liberal, and mystical. Let’s try not pigeon hole them.

  31. Christopher says:

    Dustin wrote:

    Whether we agree or disagree on allowing Muslims worship in our buildings, I think it is more important to understand Islam. I see hints of misinformation in many posts.

    Of course it helps to have actually read the Qur’an, as I did several times after 9/11. THAT is their bible. It is an eye opening read for students of the Bible.

  32. Dustin says:

    Christopher,

    Just like Christians, there are a wide range of Muslims who believe in varying degrees of literalness of the Qur’an. Without teaching the Bible and Qur’an are dangerous books.

  33. Chris says:

    What I seem to be concluding from different posters:
    As the Beatles sang – All You Need Is Love
    Good works appear to = salvation
    Jesus is not the only way to the Father – There are many paths that lead to the same God
    What one believes about Jesus appears to be irrelevant
    Scripture is irrelevant (at least the parts that really seem to conflict with our opinion)
    The gospel is irrelevant
    Facts are irrelevant
    What most posters post go uread and are either viewed as irrelevant

  34. Christopher says:

    Dustin,

    My point was that none of us can “understand Islam” without having read the Quran in the first place. I don’t examine the practices of Catholics or Methodists to understand Christianity; I read the Bible. Have you read it?

  35. Dustin says:

    Christopher,

    Yes-what a daunting task for anyone with a Western mind and from an English language background. From what I’ve read, it apparently is much easier to comprehend in Arabic.

  36. Dustin says:

    Chris,

    Food for thought from Richard Beck:

    “Christians, like persons in all religious groups, can be either tentative or dogmatic in regards to their core doctrinal commitments. And they can display an almost bewildering diversity in how they hermeneutically handle the sacred text of their faith, with predictable effects upon how they see and approach outgroup members.”

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/08/psychology-of-christianity-part-13-good.html

  37. While I would agree that a better knowledge of Islam is helpful, I would question basing our view of Islam on the fact that many or most of its adherents are non-violent. I have also met nice pagans, and friendly Buddhists, and neighborly Hindus. But Islam is not merely non-Christian, it is fundamentally and inescapably anti-Christ. Those seeking some sort of compatibility between Christianity and Islam have to go silent on the fact that Islam is the worship of another God, one who masquerades as the Creator. And this religion claims to honor Jesus while denying the most important things about Him. Let there be no ambiguity here: no Muslim will inherit eternal life unless he comes to Jesus for his salvation. Islam says clearly that God has no Son, and denies that Jesus saves anyone. This is not a mere doctrinal error or disagreement, but a fatal flaw– the denial of the Savior. The identity of Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith.

  38. Dustin says:

    Charles,

    There are plenty of pastors, teachers, and theologians who believe we worship the same God.

  39. Christopher says:

    Dustin wrote:

    Yes-what a daunting task for anyone with a Western mind and from an English language background. From what I’ve read, it apparently is much easier to comprehend in Arabic.

    I’m not sure why you responded this way. Do you not read an English translation of the Old and New Testaments? All one needs to do is go to a used book store and find an early printing of N.J. Dawood’s translation, entitled The Koran. In later editions, he edited out lengthy and repetitive passages (which distorts one’s view of it). But otherwise, a masterful rendition.

  40. Christopher says:

    Well said, Charles.

  41. Chris says:

    Yes, thank you Charles, well said.

  42. Dustin says:

    Christopher,

    I read a version with a commentary given to me by the Islamic Society and it was very clunky.

    The Old and New Testaments have been translated numerous times into English. The Quran has only a few English translations. Islamic leaders have not poured as much money into translations as Christians.

  43. Christopher says:

    Dustin,

    If you follow my recommendation, I think you will not be disappointed. A very readable translation. 🙂

  44. Dustin, according to Islam, Allah has no son. According to the Bible, God has a son, Jesus. That pair of claims leaves us with limited choices. 1) The Creator has no son, and all of Christianity is based on a lie. 2) Muhammad simply did not know that Jesus was the son of Allah, and Islam has this wrong. OR, 3) Jehovah and Allah are not the same person.

    This very central fact makes them mutually exclusive. Those who believe Jehovah and Allah are one and the same have to reject key parts of both Islam and Christianity to come to that conclusion.

  45. Christopher says:

    This is the one I read and liked. Now one reviewer has said it was NOT edited in later versions, so the current version may be alright:

    http://www.amazon.com/Koran-Penguin-Classics-N-J-Dawood-ebook/product-reviews/B002RI9O5U/ref=cm_cr_dp_see_all_btm?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent

  46. Charlie M. says:

    Charles said “according to Islam, Allah has no son.”

    Also according to Judaism?

  47. Dwight says:

    Yes, Judaism and Islam share that they deny Jesus as the Son of God.

  48. Charlie M. says:

    Dwight said:
    “Yes, Judaism and Islam share that they deny Jesus as the Son of God.”

    Then Judaism doesn’t worship the god we do?

  49. Dwight says:

    Charlie M., says, “Then Judaism doesn’t worship the god we do?”, which is strange, since Christianity was from Judaism in some regards. Just because you don’t accept the Son, doesn’t mean you don’t believe in the Father, but if you reject Jesus, as Jesus noted, then you ultimately reject God. Many Jews didn’t see Jesus as God or from God, even though they believed in God.

    Judaism is kind of a totality of Jewish belief as noted by Paul Gal.1:13,14, but didn’t reflect that a Jew couldn’t believe in Jesus and in reality a true Jew should as the scriptures talk of a savior.
    The Jews were looking for one. It is just Jesus didn’t fit their idea of what a savior did and was supposed to look like. Paul, under Judaism, or the belief in the Jewish system only, denied Jesus and killed many saints.
    But then again many Jews accepted and still accept Jesus as the Son of God and remain Jews. Paul did and the apostles did and they were Jews.
    This is not true of Islam, who doesn’t believe God could come in the flesh and doesn’t believe in Jesus and didn’t look forward to a savior. You cannot be of Islam and believe in Jesus.
    We possibly could argue that we all worship the same God, but the Islamist would not argue this and both the Islamist and one under the Judaism would deny Jesus as the Son of God, because this argues for Jesus as God. But a Jew could believe in Jesus.
    Hope this makes sense.

  50. Charlie M. says:

    Yes, Dwight. I hear you. My only nit would be that the Jewish idea of messiah, as I understand it, would not BE god in human form.

    An Orthodox Jew might say that the “Let US make man, etc.” conversation in the beginning was between their god and The Torah. There seems no room in Orthodox Judaism for a trinity or godhead. Thus, they cannot be believers in Jesus as both lord (god) and christ (messiah), Judaism rejects both. Therefore, a Jew doesn’t believe in the same god as Christians.

  51. Charlie M. says:

    Sorry to put too fine a point on it, but it seems important to this larger discussion.

    We reject Islam because they reject the Christ. We embrace Judaism despite the fact they, too, reject him.

  52. Dwight says:

    I have never been to a congregation that accepts Judaism as being on par with Christianity, and yet they are out there. Many Christians don’t realize that just because they are Jewish doesn’t mean they accept God, because they don’t accept Jesus, even though they worship God the Father. A rejection of Jesus is a rejection of God.
    And they don’t accept that one could be a Jew and a Christian, in fact many Christians don’t see this either. A follower of Judaism will reject Christ, but a Christian can be a Jew, because they follow not the law, but Christ, even while doing things of the law as practice.

    The concept of God in human form was unthinkable, but not undoable to the Jews. It is hard to exactly nail down what they wanted in the form of a savior, whether God himself or a servant of God, like a King. Most likely the latter.
    Mary and Joseph probably didn’t understand that Jesus was God until much later, as they were told he would be the savior and was conceived through the Holy Spirit. But God in the flesh.

    Ironically there are many Christians that follow Christ, but don’t believe he is the God in nature from the understood Son of God. They see God in the flesh as blasphemy as well, other than God the Father. There is but one God, as in one being of deity, and Jesus is not deity. Those people actually have more of a problem, like the Jews, with those that believe in Jesus as deity, than the other way around in matters of acceptance. After all blasphemy is blasphemy.
    They have many things in common with the Jews in this regards.

  53. Charlie M. says:

    Dwight says: “There is but one God, as in one being of deity,”

    So, El and Yahweh are the same? (Serious question)

    Ps 82 seems to say something strange.

    And why doesn’t the Hebrew god simply say no other gods exist? Instead, he claims pre-eminence.

  54. Dwight says:

    Charles, I think you have pulled my quote out of context. I said, “They see God in the flesh as blasphemy as well, other than God the Father. There is but one God, as in one being of deity, and Jesus is not deity.”
    I believe Jesus is deity, although not God the Father, but rather God the Son or Son of God.
    Psalms 82 does mention God among gods, but in vs.6 the gods are related as the people ”
    But you shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth;
    For You shall inherit all nations.”
    So God is judging the gods who will die and are on the earth, basically those who regard themselves as a god, but who are not.
    YHWH was the personal name given by God to himself, but El means God and/or god depending on the context. In relation to the God of Israel El means God.
    In fact there was a contest between the God of the Israelites and the gods of Baal in who could burn up a sacrifice and only one showed up, because only one was real. God won.

  55. Charlie M. says:

    Dwight, I think I get it, but it seems the Hebrew god insists there are other gods. “No other gods before me” is an odd way to put things if one is truly the only game in town.

    Henotheism, maybe?

  56. Charlie M. says:

    Deut. 32:8-9 confuses me as well!

  57. Christopher says:

    Charlie wrote:

    We reject Islam because they reject the Christ. We embrace Judaism despite the fact they, too, reject him.

    I disagree. Judaism was once the right religion; Islam never was. There is a night and day difference between the OT (as well as the NT) and the Qur’an. The one is historical, orderly, consistent, definitive and unlike any other text ever written. The latter is disorganized, highly repetetive, ahistorical, inconsistent, indefinite and not unlike other spurious religious texts.

  58. laymond says:

    Charles Mclean says:
    “Dustin, according to Islam, Allah has no son. According to the Bible, God has a son, Jesus. ”

    Charles, can you explain just when God accepted “The Man Jesus” as his son. Or are you one of the “progressive CoC, who believes Jesus was sent from heaven , as the only son of God.
    Or maybe you are one of the new CoC who believes Jesus was sent by Jehovah as his messenger, even though Jesus was an equal god . Or as some say today that Jehovah came to earth in the guise of man calling himself Jesus. If any one of these (new) theories is correct , then by reason, Jesus was not the son of Jehovah.

  59. Charlie M. says:

    I apologize in advance, Christopher; what don’t you agree with? You don’t embrace Judaism or they don’t reject him or our embrace of them is justified or…?

    And one could easily say the same thing (“disorganized, highly repetitive, ahistorical, inconsistent, indefinite”) about the Hebrew scriptures as well. Have you not read I Samuel through II Chronicles? 🙂

    But I know what you mean. The Qur’an is only slightly above the BoM for readability.

  60. laymond says:

    Heb 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
    For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
    Jhn 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

  61. laymond says:

    Charlie M. says:
    I think I get it, but it seems the Hebrew god insists there are other gods. “No other gods before me” is an odd way to put things if one is truly the only game in town.

    Charlie, what ever you worship, is your god. I believe riches was referred to in the bible. If you prefer riches over God, then make the most of your life here, because that is all there is for you.

  62. laymond says:

    1Ch 17:20 O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
    Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
    Isa 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
    Isa 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
    Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
    Isa 45:8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
    Isa 45:12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

  63. Charlie M. says:

    Laymond, Isaiah 44 & 45? Isn’t that rather late for the first statement of monotheism? Post-exile, right?

    I might be mistaken, and I apologize in advance if I’m wrong,, but I think you’re trying to use the bible for something other than its purpose–that is, you seem to think it’s for playing a BCV game of war–whoever has the most cards and plays them at the appropriate time wins the game. I confess to doing this, too (we were taught to, actually, right?). Thus, I can provide just as many (if not more) verses that prove–prove–that there are other gods.

    None of this gets us any closer to our search for god and truth.

    If you wish to be the winner of this BCV game, then I concede. Sure, there are no other gods and you have conclusively proven it. You win. I won’t play that game with you.

    However, if you wish to look at the bible for what it is and for how it can help us on our search for truth, then I’m all in. But it’s going to take a willingness to admit we are dealing with flawed perspectives (then and now) and that we don’t have all the answers–and that the answers we seek may or may not be found in the bible.

    The bible is not my god. It is not perfect (inspired, yes; helping us understand god’s nature, yes; a lamp, yes, but NOT the path itself). Because of the human element, both in the writing and translation (not to mention interpretation), it cannot by definition be perfect. I don’t think it ever claims to be.

    You said it well; whatever we worship (the bible, for instance) becomes our god.

    I pray you find the path to god and truth using all the gifts god has given man for finding it.

  64. Dwight says:

    Charlie M, I believe Laymond is right in that whatever you worship is your god. In the case of Psalms 82 how else was God going to point to who the pagans worshipped and appealed to as god. God is not a specific name, but a title. It just so happens that there is only one real God, so we place a capital on God to differentiate between God and god.
    Deut.32:8,9 might be referring to Babel where the speeches were divided and then the people were divided by God.
    The Quran is basically a bunch of proverbs and doesn’t give a story. The BoM is a mess of contradictions. The Bible is the story of the people of God through the ages and very cohesive in thought and structure.
    In the OT scriptures there really was no sense of Judaism in that they had the law and followed the law. Many thought they were Gods people because they followed the law, but they were chosen as Gods people before the law was established. God blessed them when they followed God and the law and did not when they didn’t. Judaism was more of a concept in the NT as the rabbis associated the law and traditions as a system. This is unfortunately where many saints get their concept of Christianity in regards to obeying the law. Saints are not saints because we obey the commands of Jesus or the apostles, but because we follow Jesus and as a byproduct we do the things of Jesus and the apostles. It is not a system of belief, it is belief.

  65. Christopher says:

    Charlie, I meant to say that we do not reject Islam merely because it rejects Christ. While that is a big reason we do, it is not the only one by far. Since I have an M.A. In English, I have had occasion to read all sorts of world literature. There is nothing like the Bible. Indeed, one of the interesting things found in John 7 is the reason the Temple guards gave for not arresting Jesus: “No one ever spoke like this man does!”. BTW, it’s funny you should mention the BoM; when I first read the Qur’an, that is the book it reminded me of.

  66. Christopher says:

    Charlie, as a follow-up I would add that, with regard to consistency, you will never find worldly authors treating the same literary theme in an identical fashion. By contrast, the Bible was written by scores of men of different social ranks over centuries and yet has very consistent themes.

  67. Charlie M. says:

    Dwight, a lot of what you said made good sense to me. The difference between religion and worship, for example, is what I heard when you contrasted system of belief with belief. And yes, “god” is not a name at all, I can see that for sure. It was the different names of the different gods that started all this conversation here, I believe.

    I think I agree with the blog host who says (paraphrasing) that there is no way we can get it all right and therefore must rely on mercy and grace, and that our desire to good things springs from our response to mercy and grace–not in order to obtain them. That’s the whole of Deuteronomy, I think. Unmerited grace/mercy first, then obedient response to it.

    The codified system of orthodox Judaism–doesn’t that start to come together after the exile and in the intertestamental period, or am I remembering all that wrong? Sadducees thought that the Torah was the only scripture being truly from Yahweh and therefore rejected all the beliefs received/developed during/after the exile that resulted in the belief system of the Pharisees. At least that’s what I think I remember.. 🙂

    All of this reinforces the fact that I need guidance from the spirit in order to seek justice, show mercy, and walk humbly before the one greater than I.

  68. Charlie M. says:

    Christopher, I’m glad you’re looking at the bible with a critical eye. We need more of that. It seems to reveal itself in onion layers (Like Shrek? lol) the more and the closer you look at it, doesn’t it? The political, social, historical, cultural and even economic reasons (much less the religious reasons, which don’t always seem to be at the forefront of the authors’ minds, it seems, at times) have always amazed me.

    Literary forensics gets overlooked so often in our tradition, perhaps. As I said, I’m glad your leaning that way.

  69. Dwight says:

    When I need a good laugh I turn to the BoM and the horrible wordage and non-sensical stories. My favorite is the “barge” they used to cross from the Middle East to America in the book of Ether. vs.16 “The lord told the brother of Jared how to build the barges”, vs.16-17 “The barges were made airtight so no water could get inside” (no air), so Jared seeing God’s obvious mistake in vs. 17 “the brother of Jared wondered how the people would have air to breathe. He asked the Lord what he should do.”, vs.19 “make a hole in the bottom and top of each barge. the hole could be opened to let the air in and the water out.” (hole in the bottom? hole in the top? let the water out? the water that comes in from the bottom hole?), vs.20 Jared complained that the “barges were dark inside”, but wait hadn’t they just made holes in the top and bottom? The answer vs.25-27 “was stones that gave off light in each barge”. Because they couldn’t use fire in wooden ships. I wonder what Noah used. And there were no windows. But there was a hole.
    The pictures on the Mormon site look nothing like how God told them to build the barges which were “tight like unto a dish”, which mean they were saucer shaped in form, had no sails or rudder, and were so tight that there is no explanation how people could get in and out considering they had to have holes for breathing and were on the ocean for 344 days in salt water. And they carried goods and animals too. I wonder if Noah used this same layout?
    Ugggh! HaHaHa! Ugggh!

  70. Christopher says:

    Charlie, the Bible presents some very difficult problems for the thinking person. But hopefully none of us wind up like Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling, LOL.

  71. laymond says:

    Charlie M. said;
    “I pray you find the path to god and truth using all the gifts god has given man for finding it.”

    Paul seemed to know how to teach about God.

    Act 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
    Act 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
    Act 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
    Act 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
    Act 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
    Act 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
    Act 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
    Act 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
    Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
    Act 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
    Act 17:32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
    Act 17:33 So Paul departed from among them.

  72. Charlie M. says:

    Christopher, I was thinking less of Abraham/Isaac and more Kafka in The Trial. 🙂

  73. Christopher says:

    Charlie, I hear you. But why sip beer when you can have wine? Dostoyevsky is arguably the greatest philosophical novelist of all (although I do love Conrad). But what do I know? 😉

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