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from John Muncy:

Spurgeon

That’s right! We need to be much more Seeker Friendly to the Seeker – but we need to first recognize there is only one real Seeker – IT IS GOD DOING THE SEEKING, and He is the One seeking us! And we need to be much more “friendly” and “accommodating” to Him!

The apostle Paul quotes from Psalm 14:2–3 how God looked in vain to find even one who hearts seek after God, when he writes to the Romans, “There is none that understandeth, THERE IS NONE THAT SEEKETH AFTER GOD.” (see Romans 3:10-12)

The Lord is the One we should be trying to please – not fallen, sinful man. We all have a hidden agenda in our hearts that is filled with a fallen nature, that is at enmity against the Lord.

Jesus said no one can come to Him unless the Father initiates it. (see John 6:44) In fact it is, only by grace that we are saved, and that comes through faith, but even that faith did not originate of yourselves. It (the faith to believe) is also “the gift of God.” (See Ephesians 2:8)

What we need to be concerned about in our day is the massive amounts of people who have no longing for God, no intention on ever serving Him and how we will reach them.

So how some churches deal with that problem is we make the gospel accommodate people. We seem to put priority in making people “like” us so they can “like” Jesus. But even that doesn’t get people saved (or right with God).

Jesus is the Seeker, He said His purpose in coming was to “seek and save that which was lost” (see Luke 19:10). But here again, we seem to miss the point – man is lost! But we don’t want to talk about that. That seems to offend people. “And we certainly don’t want to offend people.” This is why we have to modify our presentation of the gospel from a cross that offends (Galatians 5:1) to a non-offensive, little prayer that anyone can say.

Some modern churches believe that people will just get up one day and decide they will seek God. But it doesn’t happen that way, friends. If it did, then salvation would be the results of mans own doing – “salvation by works”. The problem is, all men want to suppress the truth by their unrighteous ways. (See Romans 1:18-20)

There’s a struggle going on between man and God. God draws all men, yet all men continue to walk away from God to do his own thing – we call that sin and the sinful nature. It is natural for man to seek his own way, not God’s way. Yet, the Lord remains longsuffering and patient with our rejection and self-assertive ways.

But until man comes to the realization that his sin has caused a growing gap away from God and is willing to repent and come humbly to God for grace and forgiveness, he will never have peace with God. Thank God, He remains loving and continues to draw mankind to Himself.

It is our choice to either respond to that call from Heaven, (the drawing grace of God), or to reject it. If man, by his freewill chooses to respond and acts upon that gift of faith to believe in Christ, then that is followed by the response of the lost to then seek after Him!

THE WHOLE THING RELIES ON HOW WE VIEW MAN AND HOW WE VIEW GOD…

Man-based Christianity claims that man is basically good and just needs to express himself and come on his own terms with God.

Whereas a God-based Christianity says man is a rebel by nature, and lost because his desire is corrupt to his very being.

Yet God made a way to change man’s nature, by redeeming him from the clutches of sin. If man will respond to God’s call – man will be changed – from sinner to saint, from broken to repaired, from lost to found, from dead to alive!

We must beware of our attempts to make Christ “acceptable” by man’s standards. Jesus never tried that. The early church never preached that. The message of the gospel boils down to this one statement, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me daily.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

THINK ABOUT IT – MAN’S SALVATION IS DEPENDENT ON IT!

– John Muncy

from DirtyHands

Like nearly every little boy I know; I grew up fascinated with dinosaurs. In museums, the only thing I wanted to see were the fossils and the reconstructions of life-size dinosaur skeletons. I devoured any dinosaur book I could find. I was enthralled with the Discovery Channel programs about them. The only thing that could have made my childhood fascination with dinosaurs complete was if the Lego company had come put with a line of dinosaurs. Much of their fascination came from their size and the mystery surrounding their disappearance. Was it an asteroid? Rapid climate change? Super volcano eruption? A combination of those or other unknown factors?

As I got older my fascination didn’t wane, but I became aware of a problem.The popular story surrounding dinosaurs and how long ago they lived was at odds with the account in the Bible of the world’s beginning. Even as a child I began to be aware that they couldn’t both be true and so for a time I lived with this sort of cognitive dissonance. Everything seemed to point to the fact that dinosaurs had lived millions of years ago. And yet I also believed that God created the world in six days, no where near that long ago. My struggle continued until a T-Rex came along and settled the debate.

Let me begin by saying that it was not my faith in Jesus that was destroyed by a T-Rex fossil; but my faith in science. Or, to be more precise, it was my faith in the conclusions that are drawn from solid science that were shaken. But first, some definitions.

FAITH: One of the greatest definitions of faith in the Bible comes from the book of Hebrews. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

Another picture of faith is given in the encounter that Jesus has with one of his disciples after his resurrection. The other ten disciples had already seen Jesus in the flesh, but Thomas wasn’t there. When they delivered the incredible news that Jesus was alive Thomas didn’t believe. He refused to believe. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later Jesus came and stood before Thomas. Jesus said, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” To which Jesus responded, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:19-29)

SCIENCE: Now this is how Webster defines the word “science,” and it’s a pretty basic and standard definition. “Science is knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.

The problems all began with a T-Rex bone in 1991. “In 1991, [a scientist by the name of Mary] Schweitzer was trying to study thin slices of bones from a 65-million-year-old T. rex. She was having a hard time getting the slices to stick to a glass slide, so she sought help from a molecular biologist at the university. The biologist, Gayle Callis, happened to take the slides to a veterinary conference, where she set up the ancient samples for others to look at. One of the vets went up to Callis and said, ‘Do you know you have red blood cells in that bone?’ Sure enough, under a microscope, it appeared that the bone was filled with red disks. Later, Schweitzer recalls, ‘I looked at this and I looked at this and I thought, this can’t be. Red blood cells don’t preserve.’ Schweitzer showed the slide to Horner. ‘When she first found the red-blood-cell-looking structures, I said, Yep, that’s what they look like,’ her mentor recalls. He thought it was possible they were red blood cells, but he gave her some advice: ‘Now see if you can find some evidence to show that that’s not what they are.

Instead, Mary discovered collagen consistent with blood vessels along with red blood cells, in the thigh bone of that juvenile T. rex in Montana. ‘What we found was unusual, because it was still soft and still transparent and still flexible,’ she says. Her discovery excited much controversy in the evolutionary community, as it seems quite impossible that anything could preserve something so chemically ‘fragile’ for millions of years. Evolutionists date the first dinosaur in which Schweitzer found the soft tissue to 68 million years ago. Many insisted the material she had found must be microbial contamination because no known process could account for such long preservation of organic material in bone, the molecules of which tend to be readily broken down and particularly for the preservation of its pliability and elastic qualities. In ongoing studies, Schweitzer has discovered soft tissue and confirmed the presence of collagen in other dinosaur specimens alleged to be 145.5 to 199.6 million years old.” “Dinosaur Shocker,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006.

All of that left one large question; how could soft tissues survive for millions of years? “Schweitzer and her team noticed that iron particles are intimately associated with the soft tissues preserved in dinosaurs. But when they chelated – or removed the iron from – soft tissues taken from a T. rex and a Brachyolophosaurus, the chelated tissues reacted much more strongly to antibodies that detect the presence of protein, suggesting that the iron may be masking their presence in these preserved tissues. They then tested the preservation hypothesis by using blood vessels and cells taken from modern ostrich bone. They soaked some of these vessels in hemoglobin taken from red blood cells, while placing other vessels in water. Two years later, the hemoglobin-treated soft vessels remained intact, while those soaked in water degraded in less than a week.

“We know that iron is always present in large quantities when we find well-preserved fossils, and we have found original vascular tissues within the bones of these animals, which would be a very hemoglobin-rich environment after they died,” Schweitzer says. “We also know that iron hinders just about every technique we have to detect proteins. So iron looks like it may be both the mechanism for preservation and the reason why we’ve had problems finding and analyzing proteins that are preserved.” For more information click Here Since her initial findings soft tissue has also been observed, not just in well-preserved dinosaur bones, but in what some call “junk” fossils as well.

So, here is the problem. Many people were rightly disconcerted about the discovery of soft tissue in fossils. That discovery called into question the popular narrative that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. And so, when Mary discovered the preservative effects that iron can have on soft tissue in a lab setting over a short period of time they jumped at that life-line. But in doing so, they made an incredible leap of faith. The conclusions reached by some scientists that want to extrapolate the results of a two-year experiment into millions of years isn’t science. Its faith. Remember the definition of science is “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.” Based on the tests performed indicating the possibility of iron acting as a preservative, at best an honest person could conclude that, under strictly controlled laboratory conditions iron has a preservative effect over the spans of a few years. To extrapolate that observable and repeatable finding, into millions of years isn’t science. Its faith. It’s the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.Perhaps those big old bones aren’t as old as we were led to believe…

An article on Mary Schweitzer’s find from the Smithsonian

Another article looking in more depth at this soft-tissue find

from Berean Path Ministries

wolf

Never in its history has the evangelical church been more intentional and more systematic in its efforts to imitate the world than in our day. In fact, worldliness, which used to be a sin to be avoided, has not only become an obsession for the church, today it has become the evangelistic technique of choice.

In the Old Testament, God told Israel, “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you” (Lev. 18:3). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul told the church, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). Nonetheless, today’s self-appointed evangelical relevance experts tell us that the only way to reach the world is to be like the world. We must talk like them, dress like them, be entertained like them, sport tattoos like them, address human sexuality like them, and so on.

Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own” (John 15:18). Clearly Jesus expected His followers not to be mirrors of the world. However, today in a bizarre inversion of Jesus’ intention, the goal of many evangelicals is to be as much like the world as possible in order to be loved by the world. This upside-down thinking is purportedly used as a precursor to evangelism.

Where did this notion come from? In our era, identifying with the world as a sure-fire evangelistic technique first flourished in youth groups in the 1970’s. Eventually, youth pastors like Bill Hybels spawned the church growth movement by packaging an adult version of that strategy. As a result, imitation of the world touched every facet of church life. The church buildings of the church growth movement were intentionally designed to look like shopping malls and corporate headquarters. On the inside they were laid out to remind seekers of rock concerts and coffeehouses. The messages were crafted with worldly desires in mind: light humor, self-help, plenty of sports references, and Hollywood movie clips employed as sermon illustrations.

The next generation has gone a step further. Today we do not design the church to look like a coffee house. Cool churches meet in coffeehouses and bars (Grab a brew and share your view is one church’s catchy slogan), and, to pull off this new, “We’re just like you,” evangelistic technique, Christians have to sport tattoos, various body studs, and drink their share of suds.

Unfortunately, there have been two unintended consequences of adopting worldliness as an evangelistic technique. The first is worldly pastors, or “cool pastors.” The charge toward cool has been led by a young generation of “bad-boy” preachers, always eager to test the fences with their language, risqué comments, and leisurely behaviour.

However, it’s becoming clear that preachers who push the boundaries in their sermons do so because they are living beyond those boundaries in their lives. When a preacher spends so much time admiring and courting the world, it has a way of evangelizing him more effectively than he evangelizes it. Ultimately, such preachers do not edify or disciple the flock. They become immersed in an unholy culture, and they have no ability to help others escape its clutches.

After worldly preachers, a second unintended consequence of making worldliness an evangelistic technique is worldly parishioners. What’s bad for the pulpit is bad for the pew. If the church’s meeting place, music, message, and evangelism are all crafted to shelter or promote worldliness, it’s not rocket science to figure out that eventually the congregation is going to be worldly. What you work for is what you get, and when you turn worldliness into an evangelistic strategy, what you get are Christians virtually indistinguishable from the unbelievers around them. In fact, at times one wonders if they are even Christians at all.

Where does it all lead? Well, one only has to go to the Bible and consider the Corinthian church, the New Testament’s most worldly congregation. The problem was not that the church was in Corinth, but that too much of Corinth was in the church (1 Cor. 8). If you want to know where worldliness exalted as an evangelistic technique leads, just consider what happened to the church of Corinth when they failed to unhitch themselves from the culture following their conversion.

Among other things, they esteemed worldly philosophies over divine revelation (1 Cor 1:18-21; 2:1-2, 6). Evolution and postmodernism anyone? They adopted the rampant selfism of the culture (4:6-7), and embraced, even exceeded, the culture’s tolerance of gross sexual sin (5:1-2, 6). In light of that, is it any surprise that today’s cool churches consistently capitulate on the issue of homosexuality?

The Corinthian church also mirrored the culture’s sex-on-demand attitude (6:12-20), and was promoting worldly ideas about marriage and divorce (chp. 7). Furthermore, the Corinthians’ entertainment habits were a virtual duplicate of the world’s, as they continued to enjoy the drunken and immoral revelry of the feasts at the pagan temples (10:7ff.). Also, following the lead of the Greek mystery cults, the Corinthian believers mistakenly continued to define spirituality as a state of ecstasy in which one forfeits mental and physical control, slips into trances, and speaks inaccurate and uncontrollable prophecies in the name of God (12:3; 14:26-33). That’s where worldliness led the church of Corinth, and it is not difficult to see the same things happening in churches today.

Evangelism is at the heart of the church’s mission, but how we do it is critical. Simply stated, worldliness produces worldliness, not conversions. It corinthianises the church. To evangelize the world, we must embrace a different tactic, expressed so powerfully by the apostle Paul: “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…” (Phil 2:15).

When you have a Church founded because a King wants to get a “Divorce” this is where it eventually ends up. the Anglican Church was founded to be a mechanism to be used by the State, and it is why it’s membership is in free fall. The Anglican Church, and Christianity by association with the Anglican Church was considered by most to be an extension of the Government. The Gospel was dealt a mortal blow in England because of it!

from The Daily Telegraph:

The organizers of a letter signed by more than 100 senior Anglicans, calling on the Church of England to apologize for its attitude towards homosexuality, have denied trying to split the Church.

In a letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the group of 105 signatories, who include cathedral deans, bishops and MPs, call on the Church to repent for “promoting discrimination” against gay and lesbian Christians, and treating them like “second-class citizens”.

The letter – whose signatories include nearly half the country’s cathedral deans – comes as the heads of almost 40 separate churches prepare to meet for the first time in more than a decade, for a week-long summit that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, sees as a “last roll of the dice” to prevent a schism between liberals and conservatives.

Leading conservative figures warned that any concession to the signatories was likely to increase the risk of a split in the Church. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said: “What we cannot do is compromise what is not ours to compromise. If they in any way compromise the Bible’s teaching, that would be an issue.”

Key figures involved in the organisation of the letter, which has been signed by eight retired bishops and the Bishop of Buckingham, insisted that they did not want the Church to split.

The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison, one of the organizers of the letter, told Radio 4: “It’s a bit disingenuous to say that there is one biblical view. There are different views in scripture. Jesus had nothing much to say about sexuality, certainly not about homosexuality, but a lot to say about pride and love and judgement of others.

“What we’re seeking to do is put love first. How that’s going to work out I don’t know, and none of us do. Walking out or giving up on one another is not the way of love that we should pursue. I don’t know the way forward. I hope we won’t have to have a split, but the split I’m most concerned about is the split in love where people stop loving one another.”

Jayne Ozanne, a member of General Synod, and another of the signatories, said: “There are some within the LGBT community who are so fed up with being slandered and being held back, that they have lost patience with [the conservative wing]. My view is that it’s terribly important that we stick together because who is going to speak up for gay Christians in Africa or Asia if we go?”

The letter claims that the time has come for “acknowledgement that we, the Church, have failed in our duty of care to LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world. We have not loved them as we should, and have treated them as a problem to be solved rather than as brothers and sisters in Christ to be embraced and celebrated. We have made them feel second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, often abandoned and alone”.

It also calls for “repentance for accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and for the pain and rejection that this has caused. We, the Church, need to apologize for our part in perpetuating rather than challenging ill-informed beliefs about LGBTI people, such as the slanderous view that homosexuals have a predisposition to prey on the young”.

I have to say that I am very dismayed that Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis did not clarify what his stance is on the Roman Catholic Church in the article below. Especially seeing how the official position of the Roman Catholic Church on creation is that God performed creation through evolution and natural selection! Which is diametrically opposed to what Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, and the Creation Museum state as one of their foundational beliefs: A literal 6 day creation. And they contend that to accept evolution is a doorway to further apostasy!

Not to mention that the current Pope of the Roman Catholic church is leaning very heavily in the direction of giving a nod of approval to Homosexuality!

There is no doubt that this court ruling sets a very bad precedent for “Religious” organizations. However Christian organizations have to be very careful with articles such as this, as it can appear by their silence in regards to the Roman Catholic Church that they are in fact giving their approval of the Roman Catholic Organization as a valid expression of the Christian Faith!

So I post this article for two reasons:

  1. To bring attention to the dangerous precedent that this court case sets
  2. To show how Christians should NOT inadvertently be seeming to give a silent approval of an apostate and despicable man made organization!

From Answers in Genesis:

There was a time when religious groups and ministries could hire without fear only those who supported their mission and core beliefs, but that day is quickly disappearing. Recently in Massachusetts a landmark decision—the first of its kind—has just been made adding an even greater threat to religious liberty: a Roman Catholic school is effectively being forced to hire practicing homosexuals despite the school’s sincerely held religious beliefs.

Man in a Same-Sex Marriage Applied for Position at Catholic School

According to a Massachusetts court, a Catholic preparatory school for girls, whose mission is “the education of young women rooted in gospel values and the teachings of the Catholic church,” was looking to hire a food services director in 2013. School policies have always required that employees must be Catholic and are considered “ministers of the mission.”

A man named Matthew Barrett applied for the position. During one of his interviews he was told that all employees are expected to model Catholic teachings and values and he “responded affirmatively” to being able to do that. The school then offered him employment and he accepted.

Later, however, Barrett filled out a new employee form and listed his “husband” as an emergency contact. The school scheduled another meeting where they told Barrett that they could not hire someone in a same-sex marriage because that’s inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church—teachings he was expected to uphold as an employee.

Court Ruled Against the School

Barrett filed a lawsuit to challenge the school policy, and last month a judge ruled in his favor stating that the school had acted contrary to Massachusetts law by discriminating against Barrett based on his sexual orientation. The judge stated that Barrett had “suffered denial of employment, that the reason for denial was his sexual orientation, and that he suffered harm as a result.”

Apparently, because the school accepts students of all faiths and because a food services director does not accord with the state’s definition of a minister of the gospel, the school does not get a religious exemption from the non-discrimination law.

It doesn’t matter that the Catholic church has always opposed same-sex “marriage” and that the school’s employees are expected to support Catholic teachings. A court has now ruled that the school must hire someone who blatantly disagrees with its core beliefs.

Religious Liberty Is Quickly Disappearing in the US

This is ridiculous! How is a religious ministry supposed to present a cohesive message if it can’t reject applicants who don’t agree with its sincerely held religious beliefs? Would an atheist group be treated the same way and be forced to hire a Bible believing Christian for its organization?

We have warned many times that such rulings as this would be forthcoming—this is one of the first. This nation in many ways (including through the court system) has determined that persons engaged in homosexual behavior should be elevated to a protected legal class and everyone must be forced to agree and comply, regardless of any religious conviction to the contrary. Religious convictions, particularly those of Christians, are increasingly being forced out of the public square. Yes, Christian discrimination and persecution is here—and it will continue to increase in the present spiritual climate.

Religious liberty is quickly disappearing in the US. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that since the Supreme Court of the United States decision to legalize same-sex “marriage” in 2015, those who oppose this redefinition of marriage are coming under attack. As our culture continues to drift further from biblical values, we can only expect battles like this to increasingly be fought. As Christians, we need to be bold in standing for God’s Word and biblical morality in a culture that is growing more and more hostile to moral absolutes drawn from God’s Word. We are a shining light in this dark world. We must continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ to people even as our religious liberty continues to fade.

Please pray for AiG and Ark Encounter as we fight our own religious freedom battle here in Kentucky. Wake up America—the First Amendment of the Constitution, and the “first freedom” listed therein, is under unprecedented attack:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (Emphasis added)

Sadly, the Massachusetts court did not even pay lip service to the Constitution!

This essential prohibition against government infringement upon religious exercise applies equally to the state by virtue of the 14th Amendment, which reads in relevant part:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Emphasis added)

Moreover, the Massachusetts court totally ignored the specific exception under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which allows religious organizations to exercise religious preferences in hiring. Federal law recognizes that such preferences are necessary in order for a ministry or other religious organization to follow its core religious beliefs and effectively maintain its religious identity. To hold otherwise amounts to unlawful discrimination against the religious entity and its religious beliefs, and ignores the application of the Constitution and federal statutory law, which are expressly designed to protect these precious religious freedoms.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

from WorldViewWeekend:

Political correctness is officially out of control in New York City. According to brand new rules that were just issued by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, you could potentially be fined $250,000 if you purposely offend someone that is transgender. This includes such offenses as calling a transgender woman “him” when she wants to be called “her”, or not allowing a transgender woman to use the women’s bathroom. These guidelines are particularly focused on the behavior of landlords, employers and businesses, but they will undoubtedly create a chilling effect on speech all throughout New York City.

Needless to say, these new regulations will result in a flood of litigation as transgender individuals exercise their new “rights”. According to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, employers must now use “an individual’s preferred name, pronoun and title” when referring to that person. And some of the pronouns that were given as examples by the Commission were only recently introduced to the English language and many people don’t even know how to pronounce them. The following comes directly from the new “guidelines”

The NYCHRL requires employers and covered entities to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification. Most individuals and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles.

Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir.

All facilities in New York City will now also be required to allow transgender individuals to use whatever bathrooms and locker rooms they prefer. Here is more from the new “guidelines”

The NYCHRL requires that individuals be permitted to use single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, and participate in single-sex programs, consistent with their gender, regardless of their sex assigned at birth, anatomy, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on their identification. The law does not require entities to make existing bathrooms all-gender or construct additional restrooms. Covered entities that have single-occupancy restrooms should make clear that they can be used by people of all genders.

So what would stop some sick pervert from pretending to be transgender just so that he can go into the women’s locker room at the gym?

Presumably nothing.

You would think that New York City would have far bigger priorities to deal with than this. Right now, almost 60,000 people are sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City every night, and the homeless crisis there has gotten so bad that it is being called an “epidemic”.

This is just another example of our society’s growing obsession with political correctness. And if you think that it is bad now, just wait until the next generation takes over. . . . .

Read the full article here.

Christ or Allah

from Herescope:

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

This is eternal life, that they may know You,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

—Jesus, John 17:3, NASB
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

For demonstrating solidarity with Muslims by wearing a head scarf and stating that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, a Wheaton College professor was recently placed on administrative leave by that evangelical Christian institution. This incident again raises issues about the compatibility of Christianity and Islam. With Pope Francis, Christians are stating both religions worship the same God, and that between the deities the Bible and Koran reveal there’s no essential difference (Or for that matter, with the God of Judaism either.). The reasoning promoting sameness might go something like this:

  • Judaism is monotheistic;
  • Christianity is monotheistic;
  • Islam is monotheistic;
  • Therefore, all three religions worship the same God.

But before dealing with the question as to whether Muslims and Christians worship the “same” God, some preliminary points need to be made regarding the issue.

Love
Both Jesus and Paul ordered that Christians are to love, pray for and do good to all people, neighbors and enemies (Luke 10:27). Counteracting the established attitude of His day—“You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”—Jesus said, “But I say unto you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). The Apostle Paul added that Christian believers are to “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10; Compare Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14.). So the Christian faith gives no warrant for its believers to hate and do violence toward those people whose religions do not agree with theirs.

Unfortunately, Christian history informs us that Christians have not always acted the way Jesus tells them to, whether to those inside the church or outside the faith (e.g., martyrs, Crusades and Counter-Reformation, etc.).[1] So all confessed Christians should share Miroslav Volf’s belief that, “Commitment to the properly understood love of God and neighbors makes deeply religious persons… into dedicated social pluralists.”[2] Even though their faith differs, Christians are to seek to peacefully coexist with Muslims. But the overriding question becomes, will Jihad and the Islamic vision of a worldwide Caliphate or Christian Dominion-ism allow for it?

The Crusades

In an effort to seek some moral equivalency between Christianity and Islamic terrorism, some news commentators attempt to make an analogy between the Christian Crusades of the past and Islamic Jihad today, as if what the Crusaders did then provides understanding, if not justification, for what Islamic Jihadists are doing now. But between the two there is no equivalency, either historical or moral.

First, the historical circumstances are different. This is the modern world and not the Middle Ages (1096-1290). Though Christians used the sword back then, they do not appear to be doing so now. (To this point, it should be pointed out that the United States is not a Christian nation, either politically or morally. Where in any of this nation’s founding documents do you see Christ’s name mentioned? Do you think that the moral filth promoted in and by our culture arises from a “Christian” nation?) Furthermore, to the extent that Crusaders used the sword then they disobeyed Christ even if the goal was to liberate Christian holy sites from Muslim control. We should also note that today Islamists, not Christians, are pursuing Jihad. Islamic extremists are decapitating Christians. Christians are not decapitating Muslims. And finally, the goal of radical Islam is to establish a world government on earth (a Caliphate) governed by Shariah law as codified from The Quran and Muhammad’s sayings (i.e., the hadith). The difference between the Crusades on the one hand and Jihad on the other is that of liberation as opposed to domination. When the kingdom comes then let Jesus bring it (Matthew 6:10). Until He does, we are to remember what Jesus told His disciples.

 My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.
—John 18:36, NASB

In short, there is no moral equivalency between the Christian Crusades of the Middle Ages and Islamic Jihad today.* This having been stated, we turn now to the question: Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

The Question
On the dedication page ofAllah: A Christian Response(the book which stimulated theWheaton professor Larycia Hawkins to take her public solidarity-stance with Muslims), Yale theologian Miroslav Volf dedicated his book as follows:

To my father, a Pentecostal minister who admired Muslims, and taught me as a boy that they worship the same God as we do.[3]

In advocating some sort of solidarity between the Gods (i.e., Christ and Allah, and by implication, Jehovah too), Volf is not alone.[4] In 2009, in a document titled A Common Word Between Us and You, scores of Muslim leaders and scholars sought reconciliation with Christians for purpose of mutual understanding and peace between the great monotheistic faiths descended from Abraham; Judaism, Christianity and Islam.[5] In response, numbers of Christian leaders, in a full page advertisement that appeared in the New York Times, responded to the overture by publishing a document titled, Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You. The document’s signatories included such well known evangelical and emergent church leaders** as Leith Anderson (President of the National Association of Evangelicals), Bill Hybels (Founder and Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church), Tony Jones (Emergent Village), Brian McLaren (Author, Speaker and Activist), Bob Schuller (The Crystal Cathedral), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), George Verwer (Operation Mobilization) and Jim Wallis (Sojourners).[6] Further, in a recent translation of the Bible into Arabic, Wycliffe Bible Translators have substituted name of Allah for God.[7] All of which is to say, the Wheaton professor’s stance only spotlights again an issue (called a “conversation”) that has been simmering among Christians, evangelical and liberal, for some time.

Semantic Game—does “similar” mean “same”?
Some evangelicals equate that because Christianity and Islam are monotheistic faiths (belief in one God), Christians and Muslims worship the same God, the synthesis being labeled, “Chrislam.”[8] Mega church leader Rick Warren called the merger the King’s Way.[9] Advocates for the fusion of the faiths view that any differences between the two religions are but superficial. So to promote an ecumenism between the two faiths, the word “same” is skewered to mean “similar.”[10] The Gods both faiths espouse are thought to be “sufficiently similar” so as to be understood as identical.[11] The difference between the Gods therefore becomes one of semantic metaphor (i.e., depending upon what the meaning of “is . . . is.”). So to promote similarity, ecumenists appeal to the “nobler side” of the two faiths; that is, the common ground of religious experience or feelings for which metaphors give vague expression.[12] This of course, is mysticism, and entails all devotees—whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.—worshipping at the shrine of shared religious experiences.[13] Any cognitive differences between various faiths are lost in the sea of subjectivity or existential dump. After all, in the cosmos “sufficiently similar” experiences of God in the immediate can only mean that all religions worship the “same” God in the ultimate; never mind that Yahweh told Israel, “you shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3; See Deuteronomy 6:4-5.). Should it be accused that Christians break the 1st Commandment by worshipping a god besides Yahweh, it should be stated that Jesus declare Himself to be the “I am” of the Old Testament (Compare Exodus 3:14 with John 8:24, 28, 58). According to Holy Scripture, to worship Jesus Christ is to worship Jehovah. But the converse is not true. To worship Jehovah, but reject Jesus, is not to worship Christ.

So the gods are all believed to be the same because religious experiences of worship are similar. One can only wonder whether this subjective template works in real life. For example, in the counterfeiting industry, whether it be fake dollars, brand name products, art, and so on, whether “sufficiently similar” qualifies as “same.” I don’t think so, and neither does the law! We turn now to the impassible gulf which exists between the Gods of Christianity and Islam.

Who God Is

Of His being, the New Testament declares, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). Love defines the essential inter-personal nature of the Triune God out of which all His actions and relationships arise.[14] But loving is not a separate activity of God, but rather is integral to all that He does! Out of love God created the universe and in love He rules and judges it. In all of this, God loves personally, this heavenly love being mirrored in the most sensitive of human relationships—the earthly love of family and other people created in the image and likeness of God. So whether to Israel or the church, Scripture pictures God as either married or betrothed to His people (Isaiah 54:5a; Revelation 19:7; Ephesians 5:25-32). In God’s family, believers are His“children” and His “sons.” As the Apostle declares,

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage [i.e., ‘slavery,’ NASB] again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
—Apostle Paul, Romans 8:14-15, KJV

Because humans have been created in God’s image, we desire to be accepted and loved. But because Islam denies the Trinity, the religion possesses no ontological basis for affirming God is love. In its view, God is essentially will. So in comparing the Christian God to Islam’s, Samuel Zwemer (1867-1952), noted scholar of and missionary to Muslims, commented:

The human heart craves a God who loves; a personal God who has close relations with humanity; a living God who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities and who hears and answers prayer. Such a God the Koran does not reveal.[15]

Zwemer then takes this theological observation a step further by noting that, “A being who is incapable of loving is also incapable of being loved.”[16] This essential difference causes fallout between what the two religions believe about and how they practice their distinct faiths.

Submission
Because Allah is not love, there can be no reciprocal love between subject (God) and object (humans) and vice versa, only submission; and that is the meaning of the distinctive name Mohammed chose to promote his religion. “The word Islam… means ‘submitting [oneself or one’s person to God]’.”[17] In other words, a Muslim is one who submits, period. Because ideas have consequences, the role of submission colors the whole fabric of the Islamic way of life, in everything from the way women dress to saying Daily Prayers to practicing The Five Pillars and to being governed by Sharia law (i.e., living in strict agreement with and submission to the law contained in The Quran and hadith, Mohammed’s sayings).

The Muslim religion is one of will, not emotion, of action, not affection. The essence of being a Muslim is submission to Allah and observing Islam’s Five Pillars (e.g., profession of faith, prayer five times daily, alms giving, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime). Even the head, face, and body coverings worn by Muslim women communicate submission to Allah, their husbands and governing authority. Islam expects veiled women to submit without equivocation to their husbands and the state. If anyone, male or female, does not submit they are considered kafirs (unbelievers) or apostates, the latter category possibly being punishable by death.

So having studied Islam for several years, Marvin Olasky noted that the “father-son” relationship existing between God and Christians is unknown to Muslims. Islam means “submission,” and the Islamic model of the divine-human relationship is therefore that of “master-servant,” a relationship that becomes mirrored throughout the Islamic world.[18] In comparison to Jesus’ command to Christians to “make disciples of all nations,” the order for Muslims is to make subjects of all nations, and Bill Warner notes that, “political Islam has subjugated civilizations for 1,400 years.”[19] Dominion theology, it seems, is not only the “domain” of some Christians. In short and in contrast to Christianity which is based upon love, grace and faith, Islam is a religion based upon submission, laws and works, and these beliefs affect behavior. So it becomes difficult to see how two polar approaches to God and life can derive from the same deity. In their beliefs, observations and applications to life the religions are neither similar nor same. So in his argument that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, Miroslav Volf admits to the impasse between Christianity and Islam:

In addition to contesting the Trinity and the incarnation, Muslims also contest the Christian claim that God is love—unconditional and indiscriminate love. There is no claim in Islam that God “justifies the ungodly” and no command to love one’s enemies. But these are the signature claims of the Christian faith. Take redemption of the ungodly and love of enemy out of the Christian faith and you un-Christian it.[20]

 Worship
The evangelical church today has demeaned worship to mean feeling good about ourselves and God, something Ralph P. Martin called “the tyranny of subjectivism.” This is the level at which evangelicals find “sameness” in the worship of God. But worship is not whipping up enthusiasm to give people a psychological boost. As Martin tells readers, “God’s love expressed in Christ’s cross, suffering, and victory is no cheap idea or sentiment.”[21] So in its simplest understanding, worship is the acknowledgement of the “worth-ship” of God. But who are Christians to worship?

To cut to the point, Christians worship, as Jesus affirmed, the Triune God who in the being of His divine essence eternally subsists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). As regards worship of the Triune God, Scripture informs us that the heavenly reality of it accords with“the seven Spirits” before the throne who direct worshippers to give glory, honor and praise equally to the Throne-sitter and to the Lamb (Revelation 5:6, 11-14; See Hebrews 1:6.). In and by the Holy Spirit Christians are to worship the Lord Jesus Christ who is ascended to the right hand of Majesty on High (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1). It is He to whom the Spirit bears witness (John 15:26). As one theologian, with whom I disagreed on many issues while he was yet alive, bluntly stated, “Worship, if done in response to anything other than the mystery of God in Christ, is idolatry.”[22] So the worship of the church on earth ought to mirror the Christ-centric worship the Bible describes as taking place in heaven. This brings us to the heart of the matter concerning whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

In contrast to orthodox Christians, no Muslim would ever confess “Jesus is Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:3) or worship Him as God (John 20:28; Jude 24-25). Granted, Jesus is declared to be a high ranking prophet by The Quran, but Islam considers it blasphemy to believe He is God (See John 10:30-33.).[23] Therefore because they do not worship the Lord Jesus Christ, Muslims, as well as Jews, do not worship the same God as Christians.*** We worship the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11), and one day so will the rest of the world. Muslims cannot, do not and will not worship “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). To imagine a hypothetical, but straightforward, conversation between a Christian and his/her Jewish or Muslim friend, the Christian might ask, “Do you worship Jesus Christ?” If the answer is: “No!” (And invariably if the Muslim or Jew is informed regarding his or her faith, the answer will be, “No!”), then the only response of the Christian can be, “Then we do not worship the same God for I worship the Lord Jesus Christ and you do not.”

Conclusion
When this impasse is understood, the best we can do therefore, is peacefully agree to disagree and let God sort all this out in the end, something that, personally, I am comfortable with (Revelation 20:11-15). Hopefully, neither religion will fanatically demand that its devotees can nowise tolerate or abide the others’. Meanwhile, Christians ought to understand that as the Apostle John stated,

We are in Him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
—Apostle John, 1 John 5:20b-21, NASB

It is evident that Christians (some deliberately, many mistakenly and others naively) are equating that because Christianity and Islam are monotheistic (believing in one God) faiths, they worship the same God. To the contrary, in that Christians worship Christ and Muslims will not, we do not worship the same God.

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