Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christians worshiping Allah

And Muslims worshiping Jesus.  Well, not really.  But that's sort of what some sound like they are trying to say.  The great heresy of our time is, of course, found most often within the hallowed hallways of critical scholarship.  The idea that in some vague, spiritual way the 'Christ' of Christianity might speak to us, but the Jesus of the 1st century was simply one of many religious leaders.  Likewise, the Christ of faith may simply have been inspirited story telling on the part of the early Church (and for many liberals, a Church riddled with antisemitism, sexism, homophobia, and any other name thrown about today).

If Arianism was a heresy for saying Jesus may have been the greatest of created beings, but a created being nonetheless, you can see where reducing the Gospel to just one other set of fables, or believing that Jesus and Christ were different, is problematic.  Less easy to pinpoint as a heresy is the tendency to simply reinterpret the Scriptures as either irrelevant or radically re-understood to conform with the spirit laid out by these modern heresies.

Nonetheless, we are seeing massive waves of change in how the Christian faith operates in the world dominated by the great heresy of our times.  As that heresy gains power and influence, we see more and more Christians caving and simply trying to fit in.  Nowhere is this more obvious than the wrangling over the identity of Islam and its beliefs.

So the big story was about a professor at Wheaton College who confessed the great confession of our age that Islam and Christianity are more or less one and the same when it comes to the God we worship. Oh sure, there are some doctrinal differences.  But these are necessarily trivial.  The Trinity is no longer the defining reality of God, or clearly Muslims don't worship God.  So God is God, and all differences take a back seat to our unity and getting along.

Attempting to equate Islam and Judaism, this view argues that Moses and Mohammed were basically two sides of the same coin.  Neither had a Trinity, but they both pointed to the God of Abraham. Of course there are many problems with this, problems that would have been easily seen even a few short decades ago.  Moses, if the Bible is to be believed, as well as Church tradition, was looking for the Messiah, the Christ, just as Abraham was and David and the Prophets and all who came before.

But Mohammed, like Arius or Nestorius or any other heretic, was in the light of the age of Christ but chose to reject the Truth as taught by Christ and redefine God according to his standards.  For the better part of over a millennium, Christians understood there was a difference.

Today, however, we seem to be confused by this. Sounding more like a happy talk with Oprah Winfrey, a growing number of Catholics, including recent Popes, the Catechism, and now the Vatican are basically embracing the notion that the Oprah is closer to right than any pre-Vatican II leader could ever hope to be.

It's not just Catholics who see the flaws in this trend.  R. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary pens a worthy rebuke, though watch out.  It also follows an Evangelical doctrine in line with more Calvinist thinking.  Still, he sees the problems for what they are.

For me?  My guess is that part of it is because so many Christians and Westerners have spent so many generations focused on the sins of our fathers, we've grown unable to point out the sins of anything else.  So now we have a religion with 1.6 billion people who are in no way close to wanting to embrace such an Oprahfied view of religion, and we don't have clue one what to do.  Not to mention being unable to muster the courage to stand up and say where Muslims are, in fact, wrong.

It's worth noting that those Orthodox Christians I've gotten to know, many from Eastern Europe and the Arabic world, do not consider the two to be worshiping the same God.  They are wonderful witnesses for Christ, and many Muslims are converting.  Not because they are saying 'Ah shucks, we're all just worshiping the same God now aren't we!', but rather because they admit they aren't, but are doing so with love and courage.  As one Orthodox fellow said today, the martyrs didn't die for the belief that Jesus was just one swell way of getting to the same God everyone else imagines.  And maybe we Christians in the comfort of the Dying West might want to consider that.

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