In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California there is as expected a great deal of discussion about Muslims and Islamic terror. The president of the United States, and those under his influence and control, refuse to use the words Islamic terror. The president is also calling for opening the immigration doors wider to allow even more refugees from Syria, even though it is not possible to completely vet them for ties to terrorist organizations.
On the other end of the stick Donald Trump, running for the Republican presidential nomination, is calling for a halt to all Muslim immigration.
Both of these positions are enraging a large number of opponents to each position respectively. These discussions are largely politically and ideologically driven. Underlying each ideological position, however, is an assumption about the religious aspect of Islam.
Now to the Christian response to the attacks. This is where I want to give you some material to read and make some comments. This is enormously more important than the political and ideological aspect for you, my readers, and myself, and my family. I think, one day in the not too distant future, we will be able to point to this as a watershed hour and see huge divides being opened in the church. This could effect the destiny of millions of Christians and entire denominations and movements within Christendom.
Let us not brush this subject aside too easily. We need to be educated, discerning, and articulate in these matters. So, please read on …
First, I want you to read an article about Wheaton College. Wheaton College is widely considered the top Christian University in America. It has deep evangelical roots, including Billy Graham.
Larycia Hawkins, a tenured professor at Wheaton has been suspended, pending a full investigation. The headlines and picture emphasize that she decided to wear a hijab as a statement of solidarity with Muslims during the Christmas season. In fact, the university suspended her not for this, as they don’t have a policy on such a thing, but for her comments that Islam and Christianity serve the same God. This article from USA Today, gives a fuller account than some on this matter. You can read it here. Please take the time to read it.
To contrast this article, Michael Brown has just penned an article in Charisma News, in the aftermath of San Bernardino. You can read it here.
I find Michael Brown’s attitude and approach a wonderful combination of truth and love. In today’s world, that is often a difficult balance to find. He is a biblical scholar, with a heart of love. He is a prophetic, non-compromising voice into today’s culture. At the same time his writing and speaking is laced with graciousness. Please read both articles and evaluate their different positions for yourself.
Now let me add a few comments.
What most alarms me about Larycia Hawkins is her position. She is a tenured professor at the preeminent Christian university in America. I am alarmed at the teaching I am seeing that is aimed at the younger generations. I am alarmed for the generation of my adult children and their children. I am alarmed at the direction I see things moving.
At the outset of deception, by its very nature, it is enticing. It affords a measure of truth along with its poison. It is like adding honey or dark chocolate to something poisonous. (That’s my analogy. You might think of it as adding delicious coffee, marmite or broccoli — whatever your favorite food is!)
In Paul’s description of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 he begins with the belt of truth. Many believe he starts with truth because he is saying our defense against the enemy must begin with truth. I understand that the Roman soldier’s armor would be loose and ineffective if this belt were not snugly in place. We must start with truth.
We cannot sacrifice truth on the altar of social justice. Many believers try to live lives according to the old bracelet, WWJD (what would Jesus do). This sounds fine on the surface. But it is often a license to selectively choose acts of love at the expense of truth. Let us not forget that Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers, he fought constantly with his main adversaries, the religious leaders of the day, he told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, he told the woman at the well all about her loose living, he told Peter “get behind me Satan.”
The scripture warns us of deception in the last days. There are a growing number of converted Muslims who have become bible scholars. They see Islam, not a revived Roman empire, at the center of biblical eschatology as the anti-Christ world government.
Finding a God honoring, Jesus centered, Holy Spirit inspired combination of truth and love is a deeply challenging matter. It is challenging even among us believers, as many of us know.
Finding how to love a Muslim is even more challenging. It is usually complicated by ignorance, naivety, inexperience. I confess, like most of you, I have very little first hand experience. Having said that, I have studied the topic a bit. I remember going to a conference in London many years ago at the Emmanuel Center. The topic was how to evangelize Muslims in the UK. Baroness Cox organized the conference. We heard from very experienced members of the Christian community around the UK. Attendees were just normal average believers who lived in areas with large numbers of Muslims. I remember having lunch with a wife and mother who live in one of the suburbs of London. She told me about having a number of Muslim female friends in her neighborhood and community. Her children went to school with Muslims. She was hungry for information that would empower her to witness to these women.
So, what do I remember from this conference of many years ago? In one word — love. The message was that we have the love of Jesus to share with them. Their relationship with Allah is not based on love. We were told the most fruitful harvest field were the Muslim women. They are hidden in the background and have a very hard life, often devoid of love. We were told if Christian women can befriend them, love them, they may well find open hearts to the love of Jesus. They are starved of love.
My friends, each of us must seek for ourselves this challenging combination of love and truth. It touches other hot topics of our day, not just Muslims and Islamic terrorism. It touches the gay movement, Israel and Palestinians, etc. But I plead with you, do not sacrifice truth on the altar of love and social justice.