A Defending Crusader…

The best defense is to be good and offensive…or something like that.

Dhimmitude in the Church

Posted by Godefroi on October 17, 2007

This is an older story that I recently happened upon while checking out the website of the National Council of Churches. On their Interfaith Relations blog is this tidbit.

The 44th Annual Convocation of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) meeting at Chicago over the Labor Day weekend, honored me [Shanta Premawardhana, Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, National Council of Churches USA] with the Interfaith Unity Award at the Interfaith Unity reception on Sunday, September 2. As she presented the award, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of ISNA [that’s the Islamic Society of North America, for the uninitiated] spoke of NCC’s commitment to stand in partnership and solidarity with the Muslim community through some of the most difficult times of discrimination and prejudice they’ve faced, particularly since 9/11.

I wonder if that same Muslim community will “stand in partnership and solidarity” with the Christian churches that are suffering REAL persecution in the Islamic world?

The citation on the glass plaque reads:

“Islamic Society of North America presents Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, a fellow activist for peace, justice and reconciliation, a “Christian believer” as described in Qur’an (3:113) in recognition of his tireless contribution to advancing inter-religious dialogue and partnership, with our prayers for a continued demonstration of energy, understanding and commitment.”

Here’s Qur’an 3:113: They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture [Jews and Christians] there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him). The revelations of Allah – ayati Allahi – is literally the Qur’an. So, in the interest of making the American Muslim community feel good about the Christian Church, the intrepid Reverend Premawardhana has accepted an award that says that he recites the Qur’an. The Christian is reciting the words of the “god” who explicitly denies what is ultimately the only non-negotiable for Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

He says in his acceptance speech:

Indeed there is much that Christians and Muslims don’t know about each other. Fact is, we have a great deal more in common in our religious traditions than our differences. No, we don’t need to hide our differences. They are real and we must honestly deal with them. But we have more in common.

Looking closely at the traditions of Islam, that is the Sunnah, there is VERY LITTLE in common with the traditions of Christianity as found in the early church. One commonality in the millenia of history is the violence perpetrated in the name of each calling, the difference being that Christ promoted peace while Muhammad promoted warfare.

When I greet you as sisters and brothers of faith, I must tell you, there are some Christians who object. How can I speak of non-Christians as sisters and brothers, they ask. For one very simple reason, I say. Jesus called them sisters and brothers. Its in the book!

Really? Where?

See, Jesus was out teaching and preaching, forgiving and healing, restoring people to God and to relationships with each other. His mother and brothers got so worried about him that they came looking for him. Some of his people came to Jesus and said, Rabbi (he was a rabbi, you know!) your mother and brothers are looking for you. And Jesus said something very incredulous. Pointing the people around him, he said, “Here are my mother and brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister and mother.” [Jesus was referring to those who were following HIM!]

Whoever does the will of God? My reading of the Bible makes it clear that the will of God that he is talking about is the restoring of creation into right relationship. This what the early Jewish tradition established as the Jubilee, which Jesus said he came to proclaim. Everywhere you look in the Bible, its talking about restoring relationships: of human beings with God, human beings with each other and human beings with the world. You in this room, whatever your religious tradition, are working very hard to restore these relationships. You are doing the will of God. You are the ones upholding faith and serving humanity. You are my sisters and brothers.

[…]

Those who promote fear mongering ideologies that strengthen divisions in human relationships, I am convinced, are not doing the will of God. [Apparently Jesus, then, was not doing the will of God, since he knew his message would cause division, and said so specifically] Some of them bear the name Christian. But I must tell you, I have a hard time even thinking them as sisters and brothers. But you, who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and others who work so hard to create and restore human relationships, are doing the will of God. You are my sisters and brothers.

Interesting. MY Bible says that God’s will is that we follow Jesus and receive eternal life. It says that Jesus is the restoration of relationship between Creator and created. It says that Jesus is THE way, truth, and life, and that no one gets to the Father except through the Son. While we are all brethren in the plight of humanity, we are not Brothers and Sisters (as in children of God) with those who reject Jesus.

While it is laudable that the NCC is pursuing peace with Islam, et al, it is at the same time disheartening that it is apparently doing so at the expense of the offense of the Gospel.

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