Crossposted at The MonT-SteR REPORT
Dear Pastor Jones,
I can appreciate your concern for the falsity of Islam. As John Piper notes, bad theology dishonors God and hurts people, and I can’t think of a theological construct more hurtful, more violent, more angry, more damnable than Islam.
Except for bad Christian theology.
As ambassadors of Christ, we are charged with the awesome responsibility of representing Jesus Himself to the world. None of us is perfect, and so at times even the most well intentioned believer can and will fall short. But since we are His regents, we must be careful not to take God’s name in vain by misrepresenting His will, person, and character. Behavior guided by a warped theological grid will inevitably do just that; the result is damaged hearts, relationships, lives, and even cultures. I know this firsthand by virtue of my own failures.
You have cited the radicality of Jesus as biblical warrant for what you are doing. Granted, Jesus did some radical things. He appointed a tax collector and a Zealot (political arch-enemies) to stand side by side as two members of the close-knit Twelve. He set aside the rights of his office as Rabbi and Lord and washed the feet of His followers like a servant. But most radically, He allowed Himself to be led like a sheep to the slaughter. He refused to revile in return those who beat and cursed him, and though twelve legions of angels were at His command, He allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified cruelly on a cross. He died: for you, for me, and… for Muslims.
He is Yahweh-Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, but I know in my heart that the teeming throngs of people deceived by Mohammed’s teachings move Him to grief. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should enter into eternal life.
Honestly, I admire your courage; you’re sticking to your guns even though the entire world is frowning upon you and your flock. And I can even understand your desire to “send a message.” We’ve all been wounded by the acts of Islamic terrorists. We’ve all burned with anger as we’ve observed the wanton Islamic violence and intimidation aimed at our people and our homeland. But what you are doing is not love. It is not grace. It is not outreach. It is not redemptive. It is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Your message is actually one of reprisal — in diametric opposition to the Golden Rule.
Jesus’ bravery is demonstrated most clearly not in the overturning of tables in the temple, but in the act of sacrificing Himself for humanity — a race that has shaken its collective fist in God’s face in abject rebellion.
Our government has pressured you not to go forward out of concern for the safety of our soldiers. I beg of you — not merely out of concern for what violence Muslims may commit in response, but fearful rather for the Muslims that could be turned away from their Savior on your account — please desist. There is no shame or cowardice in turning from a destructive or unwise path.
Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love NEVER fails. What force, what political speech, what message could be more powerful than that of Christ’s love for everyone? I pray that, in the days ahead, your decisions and actions will be guided by His love and by the clear leading of His Spirit.
Yours in Christ,
aka The MonT-SteR