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.

Food-for-Thought & Terribly Accurate Satire

http://www.piratechristian.com/messedupchurch/2017/6/when-did-the-church-turn-into-amway

http://babylonbee.com/news/bee-explains-prosperity-gospel/

News Flash, Trump Voters: Character DOES Matter

“As a traditional, Christian conservative, Donald Trump’s “hot-mic moment” from 2005 — in which he was caught in some serious “locker-room banter” making lewd comments about some females at the time, while also dropping a few not-so-nice words — should probably come as a shock to me.

But it doesn’t — and frankly, I don’t care.”

~ Addison Riddleberger (on “The Truth Division” LINK: http://thetruthdivision.com/2016/10/dont-give-rip-trumps-hot-mic-moment-heres/ )

Articles like the one I’ve quoted above are one of the reasons I have become so frustrated by “traditional, Christian conservatives” in the U.S. The utter moral/ethical apathy represented in this statement – and the rest of the short article – is the truly shocking part about much of so called “American Christianity.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I was not at all surprised to find this out about Mr. Trump – I could have told you pretty much a few days after looking into Trump’s background that this was how sick and twisted his worldview was. But, unlike most of the America that – by some hideous anti-miracle – will be voting for this Cretan(see Titus 1:12), I DO care.

You see, when I read Scripture, it implies that an evil man like Trump – who has basically NO firm record of anything but one of debauchery… and possibly, depending on sources, a ruthless business sense that can make a lot of money – when he desires a new place of power, will be willing to connive, slander, and weasel his way into that position: no matter what he has to promise or pretend he supports; so long as he has a decent guarantee that it will get him what he wants.

(Side NOTE: for all of you “one issue” voters (I.e. Pro-lifers), that means he will do absolutely nothing to further the war against child murder in general, or Planned Parenthood in particular. He has pretty much said as much.)

Anyway, the writer of the piece quoted goes on to talk about “two stupidly simple reasons” that they feel justify their apathy, and the first primarily consists of excusing Mr. Trump because he worked a long time in the “entertainment industry” and it “is a filthy, secular cesspool” and as such any person from that industry who would “condemn” Mr. Trump for his loathsome speech should be “burned at the stake of hypocrisy.”

Now, I do not necessarily disagree with these observations. However, they are no excuse to ignore the apparently fundamentally evil and twisted nature of Mr. Trump’s attitude and worldview. And the fact that his “apologies” were never on an acceptable level, and almost always were excuses – because he tried to point the “hideous actions” finger back around on the Clintons – indicates he’s not actually repentant, he’s just trying to recover from the damage this information has rightfully done to his campaign.

The second “reason” is so silly it would be laughable if it were not being given as an argument from someone who claims to be a follower of Christ / worshipper of God: and that is that the words spoken by Trump (then, now, or later) don’t “effect” the writer personally, or anyone else in America.

Following which, Riddleberger writes: “And for the record, I care about policy, and policy only.” And goes on to decry Clinton’s ‘policies’ and extol Trump’s.

My response to which is this: does this person not understand that character dictates policy? Not only that, it dictates and guides how that ‘policy’ is carried out or reached!

Also, since when is it even acceptable that a Christian’s ONLY concern in having a part in choosing a leader been political policy???

Another disturbing piece of what this article presents is that economics more specifically seems to be this person’s primary and driving concern – as is Mr. Trump’s. And from listening to Mr. Trump, it’s obvious that even in the area of international affairs, his only concern is rejuvenating America’s economy. And I’ll leave it to the reader to think on that particular part of the issue…

So, my point? Yes God has allowed Christians in America a rare chance to regularly effect and interact with the government they live in – but I am so tired of the apparent blindness and egotism of those who have bought into this two party system.

Nowhere does God, in Scripture, command me to place my endorsement upon and help give power to an evil entity that will spit upon His name and trod upon the weak and oppressed – but it does say quite a bit about fleeing and hating evil while doing and loving good… Psalm 97:10, Amos 5:15, Proverbs 8:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Philippians 4:8, etc…

So please, dear reader, if you are a professing Christian, put aside your natural desire for security (financially or otherwise) and truly consider the problems in our country: the epidemic ‘legal’ murder of children, the growing power of the “uber-rights for the religion of erotica” LGBTQ Movement, the lack of Gospel preaching in “churches” all across this nation, Biblical illiteracy, hatred of and apathy toward one’s neighbor, the lack of care for the homeless and destitute, rampant immorality, etc, etc… and worst of all lack of love for God… in light of these things, and so many others, do you really think voting for someone with only fractionally less deplorable character than “the opposition” will really help anything? There are other options.

But, regardless of what your conscience will permit as a better choice, we must all remember that ultimately God is in control and as He judges this nation, if He does it by our hands or against them, so be it…

RANDOM END NOTE: I am reminded here of a couple quotes from John Calvin, “When God wants to judge a nation, he gives them wicked rulers.” And C H Spurgeon, “Worldly policy is a poor, shortsighted thing, and when men choose it as their road, it leads them over dark mountains.”

But, as always, there may as yet be hope on that end:

“Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” ~ Psalm 10 (ESV)