Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor, Ph.D.) will present a series of blogs, dealing with various issues raised in the recent election that showed a deep divide, impacting both society at large and the church. The thoughts presented are processed through the lens of the Radical-Middle (both/and), personal narratives, and pastoral concerns. Your rational feedback is welcomed.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY
What a Muslim told me about those who kill in Allah’s Name
John 8:3-5 (NIV)
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
A Turkish man sitting next to me in our flight from Istanbul to Antalya in 2015 bore a striking resemblance to Manu Ginobili, an Argentinian basketball player from San Antonio Spurs. When I commented to him of this, he (who spoke some English) became quite pleased after seeing that Ginobili wasn’t bad looking. This then led to a pleasant conversation about religion, including acts of terrorism committed by those who do so in the name of Allah. In one poignant moment, the man said, “Had I seen these terrorists first, I wouldn’t be a Muslim, but I read the Koran first.” I took that to mean, first, the Koran doesn’t advocate violence; and second, the terroristic Muslims do not accurately represent the sacred book.
Is that correct? Not according to Paul Johnson, an English historian trained at Oxford, who argues that Islam is inherently a violent and intolerant religion. But Fareed Zakaria, a secular Muslim who once taught at Harvard, isn’t so sure, saying, “Nothing will be solved by quoting the Koran. You can find in it condemnations of war and incitements to struggle, beautiful expressions of tolerance and stern strictures against unbelievers.” What Zakaria fails to note, however, is that “there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to balance out . . . at least 109 verses . . . that call for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed.”
For instance, Koran 2:191-193 states, “And kill them wherever you find them. . . Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing . . . but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. . ..” To be fair, the Old Testament has similar verses as well. For instance, 2 Chronicle 15:13 records what King Asa did to unbelievers: “All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”
But one substantial difference between the Bible and Koran is this: Whereas most of the laws taught in the Old Testament have been superseded by the New Testament, the Koran does not have its version of the New Testament. Thus, whereas true Christians, taking their cues from Jesus who refused to stone a woman caught in adultery, wouldn’t physically harm unbelievers, the Muslims don’t have comparable verses in the Koran. Of course, most Muslims are not given to violence, but those who are can easily find its justification in the Koran—and that is how Islam, in the hands of a few, may become radicalized and terroristic.
Please don’t accuse me of Islamophobia. The Ginobili look-alike Muslim certainly didn’t think so: He was so enamored with our conversation that he was willing to drive me to my hotel—despite being told, “You say Jesus is a prophet, but the Bible says He is the Son of God.”
Prayer: Lord, help me to love the Muslims and to learn what they believe in so that I could engage in cogent discussions about faith. Please open my eyes so that my beliefs are influenced by Scripture, Your eternal word—rather than the soundbites from the media. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 18
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read Colossian 4:5-6: Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
1 Peter 3:15: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, . . .
Questions to Consider
- Who are the “outsiders” in the Colossian passage, and “everyone” in the 1 Peter passage?
- What kind of “opportunity” is the Colossian passage referring to? Making money?
- What does it mean that we know “how to answer everyone”? How are you doing on that?
- “Outsiders” or “everyone” refers to anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Christ, who came to save the sinners.
- The opportunity here means open occasions to share a prepared answer to those who ask us about our faith—in a non-abrasive manner (conversion full of grace with gentleness and respect).
- It means that, having anticipated possible questions raised by skeptics or people other religions, we spend time preparing adequate answers to respond to them.
As you look back to today, was there at least one opportunity to answer a question raised by someone at school or office? If so, were you able to answer it? Let’s take our faith seriously by adequately preparing ourselves to engage in stimulating and cogent discussions so that we can defend our faith—which has been under assault from all sides. Pray for a passion to defend God’s truth and check out books like On Guard by William Lane Craig.