What does this blog entry have to do with Christian perseverance? Actually, everything! I am not suggesting that the following two portions of Scripture should be interpreted as referring specifically to Islam and the god of Islam. I am, however, urging all to reflect upon the urgency of these passages concerning yielding to temptation and to intimidation lest we adulterate worship of the One True God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fear of fellow humans can be extremely intimidating, even to the point of inciting us to act against our stated convictions. Reflect upon the apostle Peter who was intimidated to act contrary to his beliefs (Gal. 2:11-14). We live in an era that is governed by the intimidating forces of "multiculturalism and diversity," forces that seductively mimic Christian graces, especially under the guise of tolerance. Multiculturalism’s virtue of tolerance supplants the Christian grace of forbearance as Christians trade away forbearance toward people for tolerance for ideas, ideas hostile to the gospel. Multiculturalism, which is virulently but seductively anti-Christian, depends heavily upon the new virtue driven by political correctness. As I have published somewhere,
Political correctness is a virus. Intimidation carries this contagion from one individual to another as receiving hosts offer little resistance to the virus. Because the contagion exploits its host’s reluctance to offend the alleged sensibilities of hypersensitive people, political correctness seduces its host to accept the virus as newly acquired virtue to be passed on to others with religious zeal. Herein is the genius and power of political correctness. Once the host accepts political correctness as virtuous, external policing is rarely needed because the virus internally intimidates one’s conscience so that it becomes second nature to use newspeak and to chastise others who do not. Hence, the tyranny of political correctness: newspeak represents itself as virtue.
Are we not obligated to understand the seduction and intimidation that false religions and false religionists will exploit to proselytize us? Satan is a schemer. Is he not (2 Cor. 2:10-11)? Are we so clever that we can tempt the devil and outmaneuver him (Eph. 6:10-12)? Is not our God a jealous God who will not share his glory with another (Isa. 48:10-11)?
From the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, Miroslav Volf, Director.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints (Rev. 13:8-10).
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."
A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries."
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (Rev. 14:6-12).
Below is the Preamble to the statement. Does not the preamble trouble you? Does not the Preamble read as though the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ were also the god of Muhammed and of all Muslims? This is made evident when the statement later claims, "In the Muslim tradition, God, 'the Lord of the worlds,' is 'The Infinitely Good and All-Merciful.'" Without any doubt, then, all who sign on to this statement are asking the god of Islam, a false deity, to forgive sins and offenses committed against Muslims by past and present Christians. Is this not astonishing?
Furthermore, does not the Preamble partake deeply of the collectivist doctrine of "multiculturalism and diversity" by confessing the offenses requesting forgiveness for alleged offenses and sins committed toward Muslims by alleged Christians? First they speak as though they have priestly authority to take upon themselves the alleged offenses and sins committed by alleged Christians "in the past (e.g. in the Crusades)". Then they presume to speak as confessing priests for their own contemporaries to confess alleged offenses and sins committed toward Muslims by "many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors". Does it not astonish you that these do-gooders dare to insinuate themselves as priests on behalf of alleged Christians "in the present (e.g. in excesses of the 'war on terror')" who evidently are blinded by bigotry toward their Muslim brothers and sisters?
For a moment, set aside the fact that these Christians are appealing to a false deity. On what Scriptural authority do any of us dare to confess the alleged sins and offenses of others? Please, do not point to Daniel's prayer (Daniel 9). Daniel resided under the old covenant. We dwell under the jurisdiction of the new covenant. There is only one priest who has the authority of Heaven to intercede on behalf of another, and he is at the Father's side.
Here is the Preamble. Read it and begin to weep, my friends. Weep for those who have endorsed the statement. Pray for them that the Lord will open their eyes to see what they have done by signing this statement. Pray that they will repent and seek the forgiveness of the only True God who will share his glory with no other. Then, pray that the Lord will enable you to persevere in faithfulness and steadfast loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Father who is in heaven.
As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. A Common Word Between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor was rooted in the divine revelation to the people of Israel embodied in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). We receive the open letter as a Muslim hand of conviviality and cooperation extended to Christians world-wide. In this response we extend our own Christian hand in return, so that together with all other human beings we may live in peace and justice as we seek to love God and
Muslims and Christians have not always shaken hands in friendship; their relations have sometimes been tense, even characterized by outright hostility. Since Jesus Christ says, “First take the log out your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” (Matthew 7:5), we want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the “war on terror”) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors. Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.
Read the whole statement here. Below is a partial list of signatories, many whom most evangelicals will recognize. Most of those that I did not include in the list below are not identified as evangelicals.
The Yale Center for Faith & Culture provides an easy opportunity for you to fail to persevere and to add your name to the list here.
Would you add your name to the list? Would you endorse the statement? I pray that you will not.
Miroslav Volf, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale University
Dr. Martin Accad, Academic Dean, Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (Lebanon), Director, Institute of Middle East Studies (Lebanon), Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller School of Intercultural Studies
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
Dr. Don Argue, Chancellor, Northwest University, Former President, National Association of Evangelicals, Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
David Augsburger, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Fuller Theological Seminary
James A. Beverley, Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada
Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Professor of Reconciliation Studies, Bethel University
Kent A. Eaton, Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Associate Dean, Bethel Seminary San Diego, California
Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Joel B. Green, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
Lynn Green, International Chairman, Youth With A Mission
Judith Gundry-Volf, Adjunct Associate Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School
David P. Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University and President, Evangelicals for Human Rights
Bill Hybels, Founder and Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL
Robert K. Johnston, Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Stanton L. Jones, Provost and Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Tony Jones, National Coordinator, Emergent Village
Rev. Stephen B. Kellough, Chaplain, Wheaton College (IL)
Peter Kuzmic, Eva B. and Paul E. Toms Distinguished Professor of World Missions and European Studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Rektor, Evandjeoski Teoloski Fakultet, Osijek, Croatia
Tim Lewis, President, William Carey International University
Duane Litfin, President, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Rick Love, International Director, Frontiers and Adjunct Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Peacemaking
Douglas Magnuson, Associate Professor of Intercultural Programs and Director of Muslim Studies, Bethel University
Brent D. Maher, Graduate Assistant to the Provost, Taylor University, Upland, IN
Danut Manastireanu, Director for Faith & Development, Middle East & East Europe Region, World Vision International, Iasi, Romania
C. Douglas McConnell, PhD, Dean, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Seminary
Brian D. McLaren, Author, Speaker, Activist
Greg Meland, Director of Formation, Supervised Ministry and Placement, Bethel Seminary, Minnesota
Richard Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
David Neff, Editor in Chief & Vice-President, Christianity Today Media Group
Doug Pennoyer, Dean, School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University
Dr. Evelyne A. Reisacher, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and International Relations, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller, Founder, Crystal Cathedral and Hour of Power
Glen G. Scorgie, Ph.D., Bethel Seminary San Diego
David W. and K. Grace Shenk, Global Consultants, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Salunga, PA
Wilbert R. Shenk, Senior Professor of Mission History and Contemporary Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
Marguerite Shuster, Harold John Ockenga Professor of Preaching and Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada
Glen H. Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Chrisian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, UK
George Verwer, Founder and former International Director, OM
Miroslav Volf, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale Divinity School
Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners
Rick Warren, Founder and Senior Pastor, Saddleback Church, and The Purpose Driven Life, Lake Forest, CA
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia