This is my 500th post. So to celebrate, I’ve decided to post something that might just get my head sawed off.
Not that there are too many radical Muslims in Limon, CO, or even in all of Colorado. And I’m not sure of their willingness to drive this far to get me. But they rode horses all the way into central Europe a few times before, so who knows?
But I, as well as many other folks, have been thinking about this whole Muslim cartoon thing, and the West’s response. I am not at all surprised that many Western leaders have denounced the publication of the cartoons at the same time as they have denounced the rioting. I am not at all surprised that the crazies in the Middle East and Europe are using it to further their political agenda. But how ought we, as Christians, to think about this?
With this on my mind, I read, in a different context, Isaiah 46. In this passage, as in others in Isaiah, he mocks the false gods of the Babylonians. Judah is hoping that Babylon will save them from the Assyrians. But God says, Bel and Nebo, the gods of the Babylonians, have to be carried around in a cart. What kind of god is that? What kind of god is it (Isaiah 44) that is made from part of a piece of wood that was also used to cook his evening meal? Isaiah, with heavy sarcasm and irony, is pointing out the ridiculousness of such religions.
Now the Babylonians didn’t see it that way, of course. They would say that their idols merely symbolize, point them to the spiritual gods who lived up in the sky and certainly didn’t need to be carried around. But Isaiah cuts through all the baloney and gloss, and points out the reality- they were worshipping sticks of wood, worshipping gods that needed to be carried around.
Compare this to the God of Scripture- He carried the Israelites around. He bore them as a burden, taking them out of Egypt and taking them to the Promised Land. The gods of men have eyes but don’t see. God has no eyes, but He sees. He has no hands, but He saves.
Islam is a ridiculous religion. The fact that a billion people follow this religion makes it no less ridiculous. Islam is a religion which promises carnal blessings for carnal obedience. Its holy book is misery to read. It offers fake solutions to fake problems, comforting the hurt of people a little, but utterly failing to even address the real questions. How can I please a perfect and holy God with my paltry works? How can I possibly make up for all of my failings? How can a just God allow all the suffering in the world? How can a just God also show mercy? Islam offers us a god who can change his mind, who can lie, who we can only hope will reward us if we try really hard to be good. This is a religion which attaches righteousness to such trivial things as the style of clothing you wear and which way you face when you pray. This religion is foolishness, and deserves to be mocked, just as Isaiah mocked the foolish religions of Babylon.
This is not to say the people who believe this relgion should be mocked. And this I think is where we as conservatives in America are apt to go wrong. The people who believe in Islam do not deserve to be separated out into a separate category of people, and mocked and treated as uniquely evil or subhuman. They are not. They are causing some particular political problems for us right now, and I don’t mean to minimize those. But a Muslim ought to be treated exactly like any other non-Christian, as someone who is created in the image of God, who is no worse than we ourselves are without Christ, who is no more deserving of eternal punishment than we ourselves are. They need to hear the gospel, they need to turn away from their wickedness and their ridiculous religion, just as all of us do. So for a so-called Christian to talk about all Muslims or all Arabs as if they were some different class of people is contradictory to the Christian religion. In fact, as Jesus pointed out to us, to talk about any human being as being less deserving of life than ourselves (that is, to call them “fool” or “vain fellow”), is to be guilty of murder in your heart, since in your heart you have detracted from the image of God in which that person was created.
But likewise, for any confessing Christian to talk about the religion of Islam as a “noble religion”, a “religion of peace” or anything like that, is likewise to contradict the Christian faith. It is a religion of enslaving lies, just as all the religions which man invents are. Their faith deserves no respect. Their prophet was a liar, an idolater, and has the blood of millions and the souls of billions on his hands. The sooner Islam is eradicated from the earth, the better. There is no way to heaven but by Jesus Christ, and they deny Him. They place their lying idolater above Him, while claiming to respect Him. They deny that He rose again while claiming that He was a prophet. 2 John 1:9 tells us that whoever does not abide in the doctrine of the Son does not have the Father. If you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know God. Islam knows nothing of the true God. I hope and pray that all Muslims turn from their lies and their idols and embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, so that they may know God as well.
2 thoughts on “Respecting Other Religions”
Happy Valentine’s Day, Matt.
But is Islam any more stupid than thinking that bread is transformed into the body of Christ by the hoc est corpus [Hocus Pocus] of a fake priest? These people used to burn us, too.
Every idol is vanity and deserves to be mocked.
Good post. Watch your neck:) I also think of Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal as they cut themselves and attempted to call down fire from “heaven.” He was not afraid to shock their religious sensibilities. You also see a biting sarcasm on the lips of the Reformers against their religious oppressors.
While we all hope that any unbeliever will ultimately repent, for that is a far greater triumph than any punishment, I also think there is room for harsh attack within that context. For instance, Christ called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and sons of hell. Likewise Paul condemns the Jewish persecutors saying that they fill up the measure of their sin, and the wrath of God has come upon them to the uttermost. These condemnations are not according to race, of course, but according to behavior and philosophy, especially as those things negatively affect the Church of Christ.
Finally, I think we must draw a distinction between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of this world. Within the Kingdom of Christ, we do not call for blood. However, governments and their citizens have a rightful place to taunt, separate, and aggressively mark their enemies. I know soldiers and marines whose words and dispositions would shock the sensibilities of many Christians. Yet, their job is to devestate and kill the enemy. According to the great preacher of Ecclesiastes, there is indeed a time to heal. But, there is also a time to kill.