Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Word or the World

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"
Jesus Christ, as written in Matthew 5:44 ESV

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] 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.  But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.) 

They say if you live long enough you'll see everything.  Suddenly I worry that I've now lived long enough.

What was this final thing to see?  On September 11 of this year, Bill Maher, noted atheist and comedian sat down for an interview with CBS' Charlie Rose.  During the interview Maher takes a defensive stance toward Christianity, rather than likening it to other faiths and toeing the liberal line of "Islam is a religion of peace" hogwash.  In his comments, which are bitterly fought against by Rose, Maher cites the Qur'an and other sources to show that Islamic orthodoxy, unlike Christian orthodoxy, not only accepts but commands violence in the name of Allah.

This past week, on Maher's HBO show, actor Ben Affleck turned red and called Maher and his guest (author Sam Harris) racists for citing those facts that are so inconvenient in a politically correct culture of acceptance.

Underlying all of this is are two main false ideas: One, that the truth of any religion is found in how the majority of its adherents practice that religion, and two, that the bible and the Qur'an teach similar things.

Today's blog post will focus on point one.  I'll tackle point two next week.

Those who claim Islam is a peaceful religion point at those Muslims who do not wage jihad.  Their thinking basically goes that if a billion self-identified followers of Islam just live their lives like you and me, than their religion must be a peaceful one.  Those who make this argument conveniently leave out Quranic and Hadithic verses like the one above, and generally (with no study) dismiss them as meaning something other than what they clearly say.  This same argument is made for Christianity.  As most who proclaim themselves as Christian do not know the bible or its teachings, do not understand them, and do not live by them, then those who attempt to live biblically centered lives must be fanatics and outliers.  

Just one problem, at least when it comes to Christianity.  This is not how Jesus sees it.

"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily
and follow me."
Jesus, Luke 9:23 ESV

These are words of radical commitment, not allegory.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Jesus, Matthew 7:21 ESV

These are not words of easy self-identification, and I would imagine the "rules" of Islam are similar, in that the religion is either based on the written words of the founder or the disobedience to those words of those who claim to follow it.

Might it be that the truest followers of a religion, any religion, are those who follow its teachings?  That seems so obvious, yet we continually try to define religious orthodoxy democratically.

That would work but for one small problem.

Majority doesn't rule; Christ rules!

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