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Jude's Journal

In today's edition of Jude's Journal, I wanted to forward the following articles from Breakpoint with Chuck Colson as the subject of which he writes is very much on everyone's mind these days.

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BreakPoint with Charles Colson
Commentary #011016 - 10/16/2001

Understanding Islam's Ideology and Worldview: Islam Series 2

Americans are confused about how Islam -- a religion that we've been told is known for peace and morality -- can spawn the vicious murder of innocents in the name of God. The key to understanding those who committed the atrocities in New York and Washington, and those who supported them, has to do with the Islamic worldview.

For most Muslims in America, Islam is simply a religion. Muslims believe in the six articles of Islam and practice the required "Acts of Worship" which include prayer five times a day, fasting through the month of Ramadan, and, if possible, a pilgrimage to Mecca, where Muhammad founded the religion in A.D. 622.

There is, however, another aspect of Islam that many seem reluctant to acknowledge. Islam is more than a religion: It is an ideology with a clear sociopolitical agenda.

As Dr. Samuel Schlorff, an expert on Islam with Arab World Ministries puts it, "The truth is that there is another side to Islam, a side that embraces violence 'in the way of Allah.' . . . It holds that all men are created to live in submission to Allah, as prescribed by Islamic law. Muslims believe that Islam's destiny is to extend its control until the whole Dar al-Harb [which means "House of War" -- that is, the whole non-Muslim world] is subject to Islamic law in an Islamic state, and this includes the use of force."

Islam, we've been told, is related to the Arabic word meaning "peace." This is correct, except that the word means a particular kind of peace. A better translation is "surrender" or "submission." It describes the peace when a vanquished soldier lays down his arms in submission. And so the very name, Islam, has militaristic connotations, and in this lies the root of radical Islam. That root then grows in the soil of the Islamic worldview.

Muslims view God, Allah, as absolutely transcendent. While Christians understand that the Lord God reveals himself through the Scriptures and preeminently in the Incarnation, Muslims insist that Allah never reveals himself in that way. He primarily reveals his will.

Muslims also believe in the inherent goodness of people as over against the Christian doctrine of original sin. Christians understand that we are incapable of following God's law and are thus in need of salvation, a fundamental difference. Muslims believe that we don't need salvation. What we need is guidance and that guidance is the Islamic law, an all encompassing system that controls every aspect of everyday life. (It is administered, by the way, by religious leaders.)

As Dr. Schlorff puts it, "The model requires a Muslim government to provide the legal and social framework necessary to facilitate submission to the law. There is no separation between the sacred and the secular, between church and state. This community is one, universal, and cohesive, representing for Muslims the kingdom of God on earth." And all people of earth are called to submit, for based on this worldview, any who do not submit are living sub-human lives and are impeding Islam's utopian vision for the world.

Christians certainly talk about submitting to God, but we do not mean what Muslims mean. Now allChristians should respect law-abiding Muslims in this country. But we also should understand ourdifferences. It is all in the worldview, and our differences are very great.

For further reading:

Dr Samuel Schlorff, "Can you explain for me the Mindset of the Islamic Terrorist?" Arab World Ministries, 2001.

Dr Samuel Schlorff, "Muslim Ideology and Christian Apologetics," Missiology, Vol. 21, No. 2 (April 1993).

BreakPoint with Charles Colson
Commentary #011018 - 10/18/2001

Understanding Islam and Tolerance: Islam Series 4

In nearly every discussion about Islam we're told that Islam is, among other things, a "tolerant" religion. Is Islam really a tolerant faith? According to some historians, the historical record is far from clear on this score.

One example of Islam's tolerance that is often cited is the treatment of Jews and Christians living in Islamic societies. We are told that Jews and Christians were freer to practice their faith in places like medieval Baghdad and Southern Spain than Jews were in Christian Europe.

Now there's no denying Christians weren't as tolerant as they should have been. But this characterization of Islam's treatment of Jews and Christians, is, according to historian Bat Ye'or, "a radical distortion of what happened." In her book "The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam," the Egyptian- born Ye'or says that Islam's regard for its Christian subjects could best be described as one of contempt.

How could be it otherwise? As she reminds us, Islam's spread was the product of a "military conquest," not peaceable conversions. The degree of massacre, enslavement, and other brutality exceeded any thing being done in Christian Europe.

For those Christians who survived the initial conquest, life wasn't that much better. There were pockets of relatively good treatment. But on the whole, "tolerance" is hardly the word to describe the treatment. Hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews were traded as slaves; they were required to wear distinctive clothing; and they were denied the protection of Islamic law.

And the closer we get to our time, the worse things seem to get. In 1916, 1.5 million Christian Armenians died at the hands of their Turkish Muslim rulers. Many more went into exile in Western Europe and America.

No less lethal is the treatment Sudanese Christians have received from the Islamic government since that government tried to impose Islamic law, or Shari'a, on them. At least 2 million have died, and thousands have been sold into slavery.

Another place where Muslims are trying to impose their faith on their Christian neighbors is Northern Nigeria. There, three northern states, all of whom have a sizable Christian population, have followed Sudan's example and adopted Shari'a, the Muslim law.

If you're looking for a place where Christians are doing the same thing to Muslims, you won't find one. In fact, the last time a non-Christian society volunteered to convert en masse -- Japan after World War II -- we opted to send Bibles and missionaries to encourage spiritual rather than cultural conversions.

What accounts for the difference? Historian Richard Connerney recently wrote that in Islam, "the themes of religion, politics, and law are inseparable . . ." According to Connerney, conquest and jihad are woven into the fiber of the religion. Thus, belligerence towards people of other faiths and cultures is, arguably, inherent to Islam.

In contrast, while Christians have mistreated non-Christians, a fair examination of Christian history and doctrine shows this conduct is in violation of Christian beliefs, not in their furtherance.

I'm not saying Christians should regard Islam or Muslims as their enemy. We should respect and love Muslims in our midst. But we should insist on an accurate telling of the story. To do otherwise would be to fail to learn from history. And, we know what happens to those who do that.

For further reading:

Richard D. Connerny, "Islam: Religion of the Sword?," Salon Magazine.

Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Seventh-Twelfth Century. Trans Miriam Kochan and David Littman (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996).

BreakPoint with Charles Colson
Commentary #011019 - 10/19/2001

Loving Our (Muslim) Neighbors: Islam Series 5 -- The Christian Response

The conversation in the online chat room was both vicious and violent. "For every American killed in the terrorist attacks," one man raged, "we ought to kill a hundred Muslims."

Emotions have been running high since September 11 -- but even so, there's no excuse for such vitriol. Yes, we want those responsible to be pursued and punished -- but we should not confuse the innocent with the guilty. And among the innocent are over 6 million Muslims who live in American neighborhoods -- and now live there in fear.

As Christians, we know that God often brings good out of evil. And one great good he may bring out of this unwanted war is a greater openness by Muslims to Christianity -- but only if we attack hatred with love.

One man who believes this is Ashton "Tat" Stewart, director of the Colorado-based Persian Ministries for World Witness. Stewart has spent a lifetime ministering to Muslims. As we battle bin Laden, Stewart says, the entire Muslim world is watching to see how we treat the Muslims among us. Instead of joining the Internet animosity and radio ranting, he says, Christians ought to seize the moment: We have a tremendous opportunity to model Christian love to Muslim neighbors.

How do we go about this?

First, Stewart says, we need to reach out in friendship. In the current climate, this might mean crossing the street to ask how a Muslim family is doing or visiting a mosque to express friendship. We might invite Muslim friends into our home for a meal. "What many Christians don't realize," Stewart says, "Is that just being a normal Christian is a radical witness to many Muslims." Their law is oppressive; they aren't used to love.

After building a bridge of friendship, the next step is to expose Muslims to what Stewart calls "kingdom realities." This might include praying in their presence, inviting them to a Bible study, or giving them a New Testament in their own language.

We should also be prepared to explain basic Christian beliefs, and familiarize ourselves with Islamic teachings. Moderate peace-loving Muslims are horrified by bin Laden's horrific attacks. They can easily be turned against him and perhaps they will then question how Islamic teaching could condone such violence. They need to see in us the love of Christ.

According to Stewart, many Muslims lack inner peace, and do not experience genuine, unconditional love; they don't understand true spiritual freedom. This means we might present Christ as the peace-giver who truly loves them and brings them freedom.

Finally, before we invite a Muslim to follow Christ, we must understand the cost we are asking him to pay. Conversion may mean a complete loss of family, friends, career, and culture.
(Very typical among other religions as well as the cults - Jude.)

Stewart is right. As America embarks on what may be a lengthy war, we must seize the opportunity of the moment. The faith of many Muslims is crumbling as they see the horrors some radical elements in Islam are capable of. If Christians offer unconditional love to their supposed enemies, Stewart predicts, "In the next few years we may see mass turnings to Christ."

But it won't happen if we respond to hatred with even more hatred. Instead, we overcome evil with good --as Paul commanded. We must out-shout angry American threats with quiet Christian compassion. And we must meet terrorist lies with the transforming love of Christ.

Copyright (c) 2001 Prison Fellowship Ministries

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