Some Thoughts on Inter-religious Dialogue

Of late I have been following a controversy recently created and stirred up by professing Christians among the “right” in U.S. politics. This controversy primarily surrounds one event (taking place over the course of two evenings) started and participated in by Dr. James White – specifically a dialogue that Dr. White had with a Muslim imam named Yasir Qadhi – and unfortunately the critics focus most of their attention on lambasting and slandering the persons involved. I wish to avoid that end of the controversy, however, and address the views that are being promoted by the critics where it involves how a Christian should interact with unbelievers – particularly members of other religions.

(Side NOTE: the dialogues in question can be found at these links: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=updtj99Fp80 & https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r2tPHLOej1w . . . For those interested in being better able to share the Gospel with Muslims, I would highly recommend them)

Now, one of the more reasonable arguments I’ve heard from the critics of the dialogues has been pulled from Scripture by referencing 2 John 7-11. Their argument is basically that a public meeting, for the purpose of merely discussing certain issues, should never be held among Christians and people of another faith – because that would violate the spirit of the passage referenced. (Their argument particularly centers around a very fearful view of Islam, however I believe my summary captures the essence of the argument.)

The first thing the reader should note about the passage mentioned – and many like it (e.g. Romans 16:17-18, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 & 14, etc.) – is that the author is primarily warning followers of Christ away from the poison of those who practice and believe things that go against the teachings of Christ. The context of many of Scripture’s warnings against false teaching is false teaching and practice that tries to claim to be Christian.

Put another way, Scripture’s concern is to keep disciples away from false doctrine that claims to be in the same vein as what Christ would teach. It does not necessarily address false religions that do not associate themselves with Christianity, possibly because it is easier to recognize that they are not of God.

However, the strong language against the apostate does not necessarily correlate to assuming the disciples of Christ should treat the unbeliever with the same severity (at least, not at all times). In fact, I would say the actions of Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles is reason enough to think that we should regularly be interacting with the lost. 2 Thessalonians 3:8 implies their having worked daily among unbelievers as well as believers; the whole book of Acts would give examples – but Acts 17:16-21 is a pointed example; and obviously Jesus spent much time with people who He knew would end up deserting Him – John 6:64-66. Now, I have heard one radio talk show host complain not so much about the conversation but the “official public format” of the dialogues participated in by Dr. White and Dr. Qadhi. My question, however, is how is a public format any different than the examples cited? Other than the fact that more people get to learn and participate in the format used by Dr. White?

Lastly, unfortunately it seems this whole thing has become a controversy because so many Republicans in America fear (and sometimes despise) Muslims, and that extends into American Christianity because of how it identifies itself with Republicanism. I would encourage the reader not to make that mistake – a Christian’s politics might primarily be conservative (because of being affected by Scripture), but that does not mean the views or position of the “conservative right” are by default Christian.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

No disciple of Christ should fear anyone of any ideology or religion that sets itself up against God. Take courage, Christian, and share the Gospel with your neighbor (Muslim or otherwise) and treat them with love and respect as you do so.

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Some Thoughts on Fatherhood…


I read an article early this morning that got me thinking about something that I’ve kinda looked at off and on since finding out my wife and I were going to have a child. (this is the article: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/do-christian-parents-flirt-with-the-idol-of-safety — I found it very thought-provoking and would encourage anyone to take the time to read it and think on the topic)

Primarily, what I’m referring to is this: ever since starting to tell people that I was going to be (or, technically and essentially, already was) a father, I have at random gotten questions like “are you nervous?” “got the jitters yet?” and other such questions along those lines. I have usually responded to such questions with some form of a shrug or mumbled answer because I am well aware of how abrasive I can be when I answer questions with blunt honesty – especially when the answer has to do with my preference/opinion and/or my understanding of the Bible’s instruction about something (which is, of course, almost always the case)

Anyway, that to preface the fact that the article above caused me to look at my thoughts and emotions on being a dad and what I ‘want for my child’ in the light of what God desires and demands of me…

So here is one of the places my brain went, I have never really responded to the “are you nervous?” questions because they translate in my head as “are you worried/afraid?” (because I view ‘nervousness’ as just another expression of anxiety and/or fear) – and my gut response to that question is an emphatic “No, of course not, why would I be?” Here’s why: 1 John 4:18, Philippians 4:4-7, Matthew 6:25-34, and there are a plethora of other passages that have developed my conviction, but these are sufficient for sharing my thought.

(NOTE: I just did a ‘word search’ on blueletterbible.org for “love fear” and I found it very interesting the passages that were given to me)

I don’t wish to be offensive to those who have asked me questions like this, which is why I have found it so difficult to give the simple, 8-word response above, because I know I would have immediately followed it with something like “why would a Christian even ask me that?” Because, and this is what’s weird, the unbelievers I interact with have never asked anything of the kind (as far as I can recall – and it’s pretty easy to do so because I can remember all of the occasions on which and by whom I was asked these questions because they were so odd to me)… And the other thing I have found so bizarre, is that my wife never gets these types of questions, they have always been directed at me as the dad – as if fatherhood were scarier than motherhood (which puts a woman in an extremely close brush with death, at least in the process of giving birth).

But to continue, I have not once, to my honest self-examining recollection felt what might be categorized as even ‘concern’ in any of my thoughts about being a father before or since becoming one. And I primarily thank God for that because it is only by His gracious work in my heart in helping me to trust and love Him that such a thing is possible. But I also look at how He did that in the way He has helped me to view things. And I will list those things as such:
1) Ultimately, as with my wife, my daughter is not really mine to begin with; she is God’s first and foremost – I have merely been granted the privilege of caregiver to her. Matthew 6:25-34
2) My love for my child is not dependent on anything, and this is how that love can keep me from ever feeling any form of worry or fear about anything that would involve her. 1 John 4:18
3) God is ready to listen to me and help me with any concerns or needs that might develop over time, and thus I can trust Him for today, and have no need to think (except within reasonable bounds of good stewardship/servant-hood) about the future. Philippians 4:4-7

And I believe these to be appropriate and natural applications to life that any Christian could make with the broader parts of the concepts being taught in these portions of Scripture…

Obviously, if I were trying to teach these concepts to a group of people, I’d include a lot more Scripture and go off on several other very necessary ‘side-tracks’ – but at this point I am merely sharing my thoughts for those who might find them interesting and/or helpful… So if you’ve gotten to this point, thank you for reading, and I pray the LORD has blessed you in doing so)

Only by His grace – in Christ,

~ J D White

Originally written as a G+ post on 2/15/2016