Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Problem With Calling Another’s Faith “Chrislam”

Glenn Beck
Wahlid Shoebat, in a recent article, attacked Glenn Beck for saying that he believed most Muslims are peaceful or were at least supposed to be. He accused him of joining something called “Chrislam”. This term gets bandied about in reference to Christians who seem not to hate Muslims as much as they are supposed to. It is an unworthy piece, so I will not link to it from here. It is unkind, judgmental and smacks of conspiracy theory.

Sorry, but I'm with Jesus on this one
. If folk like Glenn Beck are for Him, they are not against us. We may have a debate over doctrine. I personally believe Mormons are dead wrong on a lot of doctrines. But then I believe the majority of Christians habitually break the 4th commandment without realizing it, even though it's spelled out pretty well in the ten commandments and there is no evidence in the New Testament that it was ever changed by Christ. That belief would get me thrown in with the cults by a lot of Christians of the Sister-Bertha-better-than-you sort, to borrow a term from Ray Stevens.

This is what I believe. I believe Beck, like other Christians of all denominations are honestly searching for God. I believe we all find a little piece of God's character in Scripture. Sometimes we only find one bit and we hang onto it for dear life, and miss a lot of other bits in protecting the bit of understand we do have. The Christian life is a long road. In it, none of us arrive at the same closeness to God in our walk with him. God will have to do some cleaning up with all of us when he gives us those new bodies He’s promised. Even though much of what we believe may be wrong, I don’t believe God stands angels at the Pearly Gates to weed out people whose beliefs were mistaken. That’s not the God I met 45 years ago and have walked with ever since.

I see Christian denominations as God's MASH units. They pick you up wherever you are and patch you up. Then begins the long walk. And we all start wherever we are. The road to God is straight and narrow, But, it starts where you are - everyone's road does. But every personal road to finding God ends up in his presence. We find many so-called Christian leaders who demand that you turn your face away from God and look at them - to go sideways off your road to God, if you will, and move over to line up behind them. Only problem with that is, that if you line up behind some charismatic leader or sect, your eyes are on the leader's behind and not upon Christ. If you stay on track, the closer we get to God, the closer we become to each other. That’s how the Maker molds the clay.

Scripture says work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. The disciples once  complained because unapproved persons were preaching the gospel and healing in Christ's name. Jesus said to leave them alone. It turns out that God knows who His children are and finds them wherever they are. We need to be certain that in our zeal to serve him, that we first do not harm to any of his children in the process.

Christ’s harshest words were for the Pharisees and Sadducees who divided the flock and excluded the poor and suffering unless they lined up behind one party or the other.

"Chrislam" is a pejorative, used by unkind Christians to undercut those they disagree with, particularly if they have any kind words for Muslim people. Such an approach to the Christian religion is, I think, an unhappy and dismal path to righteousness - one that seldom arrives at its desired destination. It is not wise to be constantly at war with those who are different from you. If I went to war with every Christian that disagreed with me, I'd do nothing but fight and argue with my fellow Christians all the time. Instead we talk about Christ. I talk with them about Christ's character and our shared hope of Christ's soon coming. 

Wahlid Shoebat
If they want to know what I believe I tell them because I believe that what I have learned from the Bible shows me a better and better picture of the character of God. It shows me a God of love who is not a torturer. A God who may be angry, but is only angry when someone hurts his children. Look at the Old Testament. Every time God is angry it's because someone is doing something evil that hurts the innocent. When God punished the Israelites for worshiping idols it was because at the time the death toll of infants and children was 26,000 a year sacrificed to Molech. Many more thousands of young girls were forced to serve as temple prostitutes to Baal. I want a God who gets angry about stuff like that. He is also a merciful God even to those who disobey. He forces no one to be with Him. Even the eternal hell fire and damnation stuff is found not in Scripture, but in Greek mythology. When God speaks of hell, it is always as an ending, not a beginning of something new and awful.

If you want to obey Christ's command to "go ye therefore....", then you must remember all the other things He told us to do, like treating others as we would be treated and removing the log from your own eye before going after the speck in someone else's. Christ never told us to play the “us vs. them” game. He told us to love our enemies and do good to them that persecute us. We are under orders. He gave us permission to do nothing like the hit piece Mr. Shoebat did. I suspect he needs to spend a little time on his knees talking to Jesus. As to those in other religions, I do not believe Jesus abandons them. I believe He can find His children wherever they are searching for Him, even if its in a Buddhist temple, a mosque, an atheist university, or even one of those big glass super churches the TV evangelists build.   

Remember that Jesus had harsh words for the Pharisees treatment of the Samaritans. The Mormons are Christianity's "Samaritans" and if you'll remember, Jesus did not approve of the Jews shunning Samaritans. He went among them and healed the sick and led prostitutes to the feet of God. One of his parables praised a Samaritan even. Pretty much said the Jews could learn a thing or two from the Good Samaritan. I think we Christian conservatives have plenty of room in the fold, even for Mormons and Samaritans. I think God is great and good enough to find His lost children and lift them up to heaven's gates wherever they start out from. We stand in His way at our peril. He said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me." We ought to do that.

Someone said I was being judgmental about Mr. Shoebat's hit piece on Beck. Well, Mr. Shoebat's article deserves some judgment. It was a clear attempt to undermine Glenn Beck - a man who has done a lot for Christian conservatives, often against powerful forces. He has been threatened with death for his efforts to unite Christians and other persons of good will, not in subservience to authority as the Pope is currently trying to do, but in service to God, however we know Him.

God has said He is a jealous God, not willing that any be lost who can be saved. Look how long it's taking Him to come back. We're just now at the point where the Word can go out to every corner of the world. We have the means to reach the most remote corners of the planet. We live in exciting times. I do believe Jesus is loading up the buses to come and get us. Just remember, it's a rescue mission not an occupation. Jesus warned us about what a sorry state the world will be in when He comes. All the more reason Christians of every stripe should be sharing our love for God rather than trying to marginalize, criticize and cast out those whom Jesus would have us embrace with love and compassion.

Just sayin'

Tom King © 2016

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