Muslims in Churches

MUSLIMS IN CHURCHES

The Central Issue

The central issue in the article “Muslims in Evangelical Churches” by Jason B. Hood is whether or not we should allow Muslims the opportunity to worship in churches if they need to. It’s like offering an olive branch of peace that says, “You can worship here if you want. Jesus told us to love, so here we are showing you His love.” That is the immediate issue of the article however, there are underlying deeper themes.

The Peripheral Issues

The peripheral issues are of tolerance and brotherly love. Are we properly and correctly demonstrating the love of Jesus in our daily lives particularly with regards to how we interact with opposing religious ideologies? Aren’t we commanded to love everyone regardless if they persecute us? Are we bound by this commandment of love to accept any and all beliefs without voicing our concern or making a righteous stand? I’m afraid it’s a spiritual Catch-22 in a sense. The world may exploit our tolerance if we show them love and it may condemn us as bigoted if we don’t allow them to do whatever pleases them.

My Position

My position on the issue is probably not going to be a popular one considering today’s politically correct climate. Here is my question: Would we be tolerant of a Wicca ritual performed in a church? Do you think Elijah should have cozied up to the 450 priests of Baal at Mount Carmel and allowed them to worship alongside the Israelites in 1 Kings 18? One may say: “Wait, that’s not the same thing!” But, isn’t it really? Any belief that is not based on Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who was crucified and raised from the dead is false: that goes for Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Ideas From My Investigation

Some ideas from my investigation include the contradiction of Jesus saying anyone “who is not for Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30) and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). One is either for Jesus or against Him. However, we are to pray for and love those who are against Him. Is this love demonstrated in allowing said people to worship false gods in our church? Absolutely not.

How can we demonstrate the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:36-40) to those who do not know Jesus if we are never around them? Is allowing them access to our church “a way in” to start a conversation? Or is more likely: won’t Muslims just worship and then leave without any change of heart? The answer is: We go to them, not them to us. Luring Muslims into our church so they can worship their idols with the intent of hoping to convert them is bound for failure. A more direct approach seems more appropriate.

Support For My Position

My position is supported by scripture. In John 14:6, Jesus said that He is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There are many other verses that verify and proclaim that only through Jesus can any be saved. John 10:9, Romans 5:2, Eph. 2:18, 1 John 5:20, and Matthew 11:27 just to name a few. I do not want to share my wife with anyone else and Jesus would not appreciate sharing His bride with Islam (Eph 5:25-27). God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14, Deut. 4:24, and Josh 24:19). He has made it abundantly clear to not have any other god before Him (Exd. 20:3). Allowing a group who so obviously disagrees with Christianity access to worship falsely in our church is dangerous territory indeed.

Postscript: This article is from Christianity Today which not a peer-reviewed journal and therefore not a scholarly resource.


 

 Bibliography

Hood, Jason B. “Muslims in Evangelical Churches.” Christianity Today, (January 2011). Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/januaryweb-only/muslimsevangelical.html.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course LEAD 635: Pastoral Ministry.

The Problem of Evil

According to Millard Erickson’s massive volume, “Christian Theology,” the problem of evil in the world with respect to God’s benevolence, can be summarized by various themes (theodicies).

A popular pulpit answer to the existence of evil in the world is the theme of “Evil in General as the Result of Sin in General.”[1] In other words, there is evil in this world because this is a fallen world. Who has not heard this answer from a Christian at some time or another? Humans are not living in the same world that God originally created. Evil entered in and subsequently, tainted every aspect of it. What was once perfect is now imperfect. Even Paul tells us that nature itself waits in eager expectation for things to be put back as God created it (Romans 8:19). Therefore, suffering, pain, and evil are all inevitable consequences of living in such a broken world.

However, the theodicy that best attempts to rectify the dilemma of “God’s power, God’s goodness, and the presence of evil in the world”[2] (particularly as it involves those who are critical of the Christian faith) is; “Evil as a Necessary Accompaniment of the Creation of Humanity.”[3] This theme supersedes the previous one. In order for the world to be fallen, man had to sin. God created the perfect environment and then man sinned. As man was made impure, so was his environment.

The logical question then is: Why did God allow man to sin in the first place?

Erickson says, “For God to prevent evil, he would have had to make humanity other than it is.”[4] Other than it is—would be humanity without free will. Free will is a critical dimension of the human makeup. If God so chose, He could have made humans without free will. Yet the fact that man does have free will, shows that the way humans were made is perfect.

If God had denied man the option of personal choice, then man would cease to be man and would be… a robot; programmed to do this activity and to avoid that activity. As Erickson puts it, “For humans to be genuinely free, there has to be an option.”[5] Of course when there is an option, there is the possibility of error. With humans the possibility of error seems exponentially high.

Ultimately, a combination of various themes would most likely be the most beneficial in answering this dilemma. Is that cheating? Well, even Erickson concedes that a solution to this problem is “beyond human ability.”[6] He remarks that smartypantses* since the beginning of time have tried to crack this theological nut to no avail. Erickson notes, “We should not set our expectations too high in endeavoring to deal with the problem of evil.”[7]

* Erickson may not have used the term, “smartypantses”** per se. What he may have said was, “scholars,” but you get my drift.

** Smartypants is usually not in the plural, so I had to improvise.


[1] Millard L. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 397.

[2] Ibid., 384.

[3] Ibid., 394.

[4] Ibid., 395.

[5] Ibid., 399.

[6] Ibid., 394.

[7] Ibid., 386.


Bibliography

Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.


 

Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course THEO 525: Systematic Theology.

Can’t Argue With That

Can’t Argue With That: Rules and Regulations of Logical Reasoning

(Yawn.) Wait, don’t fall asleep! This is riveting stuff, right here!

Anthony Weston’s book A Rulebook for Arguments is a concise overview to the art of making arguments and the critical aspects of logical reasoning. This succinct book is organized into forty-five specific rules with each rule illustrated and briefly explained.

Informed But Fictional

In Weston’s second chapter, he talks about generalizations. As an example, He purposes that women of earlier times were married very young.[1] He then substantiates that claim with three examples: Juliet in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Jewish women during the Middle Ages, and Roman women during the Roman Empire. I find it interesting that Weston uses a fictional character from a popular play as one of those three sources. By that standard, I could make the generalization that if the families of young couples object to their relationship, the relationship could end with poison and a dagger. Weston’s fourteenth rule is “Seek informed sources” wherein He states “Sources must be qualified to make the statements they make.”[2] Juliet is as qualified as Mickey Mouse to speak on the topic of average marital ages throughout history because both are imaginary characters and therefore have no authority.

A possible remedy to this dilemma could be to cite William Shakespeare, himself, as a source. After all, He was married at the reasonably young age of eighteen and “was under the age of consent that (therefore) his father would have had to agree to the marriage.”[3] Also, he was not fictional. Few would argue that Shakespeare is more qualified than a figment of said author’s imagination.

Poisoning My Own Well

Of course the more you delve into the art of making arguments, the stickier the terrain seems to get. For instance, by me saying that few would argue with my last point, I have violated one of the rules for a valid argument by committing a common fallacy. According to Weston, I have “poisoned the well” by using loaded language.[4] I have slyly manipulated your view of my position by playing on your need to fit in with common thinking. If you were to disagree with my statement, you would also be acknowledging that your position is now with the minority and therefore, most likely, incorrect.

Rock Stacking

The photo on the cover of Weston’s book captures the idea of arguments perfectly. It shows skillfully stacked rocks. One can only imagine the skill involved to allow those rocks to so perfectly remain balanced. If one of those rocks would be too heavy or not big enough, the whole thing would tumble. The stack would fall apart. Arguments require that kind of precision and balance or else, they too, would fall apart.

Evolutionists’ Faith

Let us apply Weston’s discipline to the theory of evolution. It seems that evolutionists make grand leaps in their faith in science yet scoff condescendingly at the faith Christians put in creation. There is a big difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Micro-evolution is simply “a change in gene frequency within a poplulation.”[5] For example, if a pesticide is introduced to a species, the following generation could adapt to the pesticide and become immune. This is wholly within the realm of possibility. Macro-evolution refers to “evolution above the species level.”[6] For example, a chicken eventually turning into a rhino. This is, of course, wholly outside the realm of possiblity. Somehow, evolutionists get away with this fatal mistake. It seems Christians could learn a thing or too about faith from evolutionists.

Teleological Argument

The teleological argument is an argument for the existence of God based on perceived evidence of deliberate design in the natural or physical world. Weston’s rule 16 of Cross-check sources and the Teleological argument/analogy of God to a house is laughable.

A Dirty Joke

In fact, I heard a joke once where a man challenged God on the beauty of his (the man’s) garden. The man was proud at the wonderful vegetables he had grown. God reminded the man that it was actually He that allowed the man’s tomatoes to grow so plump. This angered the man for he toiled long hours in that garden. Indeed, his back was still aching from bending and pulling out all the weeds. The man argued that he was responsible for the garden’s success. He tilled the land, added water, and kept the deer away. God smiled and said, “Fine, let’s have a contest to see who can grow the best garden.” The man readily agreed and began to dig in the dirt to plant his first seed. “Ah, ah, ah!” said God. “Make your own dirt.”

 Raw Materials

God is the absolute creator. He even created the raw materials from which something could be built.” A point one should not be so hasty to forget. He is the only thing in existence that has not been created. God always was, always is, and always will be. Every single other thing in the known universe has been created… and all created by God. It all points back to a singular beautiful source! And we get the privilege to call that source Father!


 

[1] Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett Student Handbooks), 4th ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008), 10.

[2] Ibid., 24.

[3] Linda K. Alchin, “William Shakespeare info (the Complete Works online),” November 16, 2010, accessed April 01, 2015, http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-biography-marriage-wife-anne-hathaway.html.

[4] Weston, 78.

[5] Roy Caldwell, “Understanding Evolution,” University of California Museum of Paleontology, accessed April 2, 20015, http://www.evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evoscales_01.

[6] Ibid.


Bibliography

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett Student Handbooks). 4th ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008.


 

Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course SEMI 500.