Monday, March 21, 2011

Islam and the West; Islam and the Church

According to Western leaders, integrating Muslims into Western culture has proved an unqualified flop. In October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the

• …tendency had been to say, “Let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side…” But this concept has failed and failed utterly.

Merkel is not alone in this assessment. In February, UK Prime Minister David Cameron stated,

• Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.

More recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined the growing chorus. According to World (March 26, p.24):

• He made the statement in a televised debate…that efforts to accommodate religious and cultural differences were clearly a “failure.”

However, they shouldn’t be too quick to assume all the blame. Their Muslim populations are also playing out their Koran-prescribed role. According to a fatwa (judgment; # 59879; Muslims are forbidden to take friends from among non-Muslims:

• Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers. Allaah says:

-----------[Surah 60:4] “Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibraaheem (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever until you believe in Allaah Alone’”

• Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too. Allaah says:

------------[Surah 60:1] “O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e. disbelievers and polytheists) as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth”

• But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly.

Extending “friendship” to the non-Muslim is only for the purpose of promoting Islam. Once it becomes apparent that this deceptive strategy isn’t bearing any fruits, these ties must be broken.

The reality of non-friendship, even hate, is repeatedly born out in Muslim-majority nations where religious minorities are condemned into a second-class status. In “moderate” Malaysia, Christians petitioned the court for the right to use the word “Allah” for God, as they have traditionally used this term. At first the court agreed to extend this privilege to the churches, but after ten of them were set on fire by Muslims, the higher court retracted this privilege. In all other Muslim countries, intimidation, sometimes enforced by popular violence, reigns to keep the minorities in their place.

What should our response be? Besides speaking up against the persecution, something that the indigenous Christians can only do under the threat of retaliation, we mustn’t forget about our mandate to spread the Gospel. Ultimately, we “wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12). Our battle is spiritual. Only the Gospel can penetrate hardened hearts to liberate those taken captive by the lies of evil (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Martin Luther had been asked about the success of the Reformation. He answered,

• I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing, The Word did it all.

Sadly, the Word has become reduced to a matter of doing good deeds and showing hospitality. Although these are important, it’s the Gospel through the Spirit that does the work. The Apostle Paul stood firmly for this truth:

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes... (Romans 1:16).

Sadly, today many churches disdain the direct presentation of the Gospel. They say, “Preach the Gospel whenever you can and use words only when necessary.” Well, our words are necessary. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20).

Indeed, there is nothing the matter with performing loving deeds, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of exposing the works of evil (Eph. 5:11) and also correcting those in error (2 Tim. 2:24-26) who have been able to take whole households captive with their false teaching (Titus 1:7-11). We no longer have a stomach for disagreements. Nor are we able to make a defense for our faith (1 Peter 3:15) against a Muslim.

Meanwhile, we can support those who are making such a defense. The Arab Broadcasting Network (ABNSAT.COM) seems to be doing a good job, aggressively promoting the Gospel against the counter-claims of Islam.

I don’t know what the Western nations should do against the growing threat of Islam, but it is clear what we are called to do.

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