Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Love the Deceived, Hate the False Religion

Earlier this week, Brian McLaren put out an op-ed on CNN regarding Islamophobia.  This should be of no surprise as Mr. McLaren seems to have a particular affinity for Islam.  He has written extensively on the subject and even celebrated Ramadan with Muslims.  While he does raise some legitimate issues in his essay, I believe that he completely ignores the harsh reality faced by many Christians and Jews trying to live in the Muslim world.  I hope to strike a balance today with the terrible imbalance in what McLaren has written.  Today's posting is not a Bible study, rather it is a presentation of the realities of the world today. 

First of all, the one issue McLaren is right about is that we should not reach out to Muslims with hate and insults.  That is not blessing those who curse nor is it in any way loving our enemies.  We also should not talk disrespectfully about Mohammed or their holy book.  I am not saying we should imply any truth behind their beliefs, but it is one thing to argue whether or not something is true and an entirely different thing to throw out childish insults.  You are not going to get anyone to listen to you about Jesus if you do not season your words with grace. 

That said, it can safely be said that Islam is the enemy of Christ.  I am not saying Muslim are our enemy as our battle is not with flesh and blood Muslims, but in the spiritual forces behind their actions.  Yes, they are prone to violence and have killed and continue to kill innocent men, women, and children over such silliness as a cartoon or amateurish movies.  I am not denying the horrible things being done by Muslims around the world to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but I am saying that they are not the enemy.  Think about it, if an Islamic terrorist blows himself up and kills me in the process, what will the end result be?  I will be in the presence of my Lord beginning an eternity in unspeakable paradise and he will be in Hades awaiting his final judgement and an eternity in the lake of fire.  In a war that is spiritual above all else, who is really the victim of radical Islam in that case?  In much of the world, Muslims are raised to believe (and raised rather strictly and harshly) that Jews and Christians are the enemy, killing the infidel is a righteous act, and that martyring yourself in those murderous acts is a sure way to an otherwise nearly impossible way to heaven.  Islam is a works-based religion with very high standards that one can never be fully sure they meet them.  They are a people in terrible bondage to a religion of slavery to an angry god.  It is only by the grace of the true and living God that we did not grow up in the same kind of environment.  This does not justify their actions and they will be held accountable, but the Bible is clear that our battle is not with flesh and blood and so we must view this as a spiritual war.

That said, McLaren goes on to talk about lies perpetrated by those who desire to cause hate and panic among Christians regarding Muslims.  One example of these lies (according to him) is that Christians are being crucified in Egypt.  I have not personally done any research on the subject, so for the sake of this post, let us assume McLaren is correct in that this is a lie. The fact of the matter is that Christians are being harshly persecuted in Egypt. Even before the so-called Arab Spring, churches were routinely burned and Christians were routinely persecuted.  It was, and I am sure still is, illegal to convert from Islam to Christianity.  Beyond Egypt, we have a mentally handicapped Christian girl in Pakistan who was arrested and charged with blasphemy for allegedly damaging a Koran (though for now she has been released).  In Iran a pastor was arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death for blasphemy though the Lord spared him in this case.  In Afghanistan, a man had to flee the country for becoming a Christian or face being killed by his Muslim neighbors.  These are but a few examples of things going on around the world today.  Christians are routinely beaten, killed, arrested, tortured, and abused by Muslims who consider them to be infidels.  The reaction of Islam is one of murder whenever they feel threatened.  Christians may (wrongly) throw around insults, but they do not riot in the streets and call for the deaths of anyone they can get their hands on who may not even be associated with the offense in question.  What's worse, is that these calls come from their spiritual leaders and are generally accepted by their religious community.  In fact, it is only very liberal Muslims who seem to even come close to disagreeing with what the rest of the faith is teaching and practicing. 

I wish McLaren would have defined just what he means by Islamophobia in his essay.  He never really does.  He seems to leave very little room for legitimate claims of persecution on behalf of Christians and leaves no room for Christians talking about it or bringing it up.  Yes, we should respond to any an all persecution with grace, but he seems content on denying that any real persecution is occurring and that this behavior is called for and condoned by their spiritual leaders.  The spirit of Islam is an enemy of God.  That spirit is also not only our enemy, but even the enemy of those who follow into its lies.  As Christians, we should not respond with hate, lies, and insults, but we also must not deny the truth of what is going on.  Being loving in a godly sense never means perpetuating a lie that will lead people into Hell.  We must stand for truth, in love, whether or not that makes others angry or offended and whether or not it leads to even more persecution.  That is one stand McLaren has failed to take. 
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.   Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV

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