September 8, 2008

Speaking of Muslims

Ethics Daily ran my latest article today. It is entitled "SBC Leader Promotes Demonization of Muslims" and covers some derogatory comments made by some Baptists about Muslims. Recently, Robert Parham has had some pieces at Ethics Daily urging Christians to take a different approach with how we communicate about and with Muslims. Here are some of his pieces:

Some Baptists Must Build Trust with Muslims When Other Baptists Speak Ill of Islam
Islamic Society of North America Invites Baptist Speakers to National Meeting
A Baptist Statement at the Islamic Society of North America Convention
American Muslims Define Themselves as Americans
What I Learned and Heard From Two Days Among American Muslims


  1. "A prominent argument made by the Caners during these broadcasts is that Islamic terrorism is not the distortion of Islam but the natural reading of the Qu'ran."

    I've seen the same argument leveled against Christians and Jews with Deuteronomy 20 (taken way out of context, of course) used to "prove" the point of the author that Judaism and Christianity are religions of violence (offer slavery or death, kill everything that breathes, etc.). Anyone can take another religion's texts out of context and "prove" whatever they want to those who would rather believe ill of another than do a little research and learn for themselves.

    I read through much of the Qu'ran a few years back (looking for that famous "kill the infidel" passage) and was shocked at my ignorance regarding Islam. My only point of reference before that was the hearsay of anti-Islamists. I had no idea Islam was considered an Abrahamic religion (they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), or that they consider Jesus Christ the Messiah (unlike many Jews) and believe in the second coming of Christ. The Qu'ran reads much like the Torah, or what Christians call the Old Testament (which the Qu'ran refers to as the word of God).

    That said, I also found serious disagreements between Islamic and Christian theology. Muslims do not believe in the Trinity or the Deity of Christ. They say Christ is the highest-ranking prophet (above even their revered Muhammad), nothing more. They believe that Muhammad was the one Jesus said would come after the ascension, where Christians believe that refers to the Holy Spirit.

    Probably what upsets Christians the most (at least the ones somewhat familiar with the Qu'ran) is that the Qu'ran claims that the New Testament got corrupted by people in power, and purports to offer "correction" to Christian theology.

    Still, I wonder why so many Christians seem to prefer to demonize Muslims and Islam (often by "bearing false witness against [our] neighbor") instead of debating theology.

    A group of Southern Baptist missionaries in predominately Muslim nations took a different approach from Land as they labeled such hateful rhetoric as "degrading." They added that comments that "malign Islam and Muhammad" are reported in Muslim nations, which "can further the already heightened animosity toward Christians" and interfere with sharing "the message of the gospel."

    I make this kind of statement a lot. Gets me in plenty of trouble! I guess it's in our human nature to cling tightly to our prejudices and sense of self-righteous superiority rather than pay attention to how our words and actions might interfere with the effectiveness of our witness to others.

  2. Stan: Thanks for the comment! Your last paragraph is particularly good.