In French, we have this proverb or saying that goes,"L'enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions," that could probably be translated as, "Hell is paved [over] with good intentions." People may mean well, but some comments still hurt when you're on the receiving end.
Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss. I see that you miss your daughter very much, and I pray God will comfort you and guard your heart in Christ Jesus with His daily, hourly, moment by moment peace.
So true! Grief is a lifelong journey, but I'm so thankful for the hope we have in Jesus...wouldn't be able to get through the day without it, that's for sure!
Angie...........just some words from a friend in Illinois. I was ony 1 year old when my 10 year old brother fell from a tree and died a week later. I was only 2, when my 4 day-old brother died because of a mistake that a visiting-nurse made on him. We lost a son who died from esophageal cancer at the age of 35. My daughter-in-law, wrote a very similar article that you just wrote. You are so on the same page ! Because of my young age at the time of my 2 brothers death, I did not realize the impact my parents had going though this experience of losing 2 sons at an early age, and one son at the age of 40. My mother told me that they were blessed with a very good pastor at the time who knew how to associate sorrow at the time these events happened. He turned out to be my parents best friend ! May God give you His PEACE ! Dean Koldenhoven
Thanks for sharing this, Angie. Such wise and practical advice.
Thank you for sharing a deeply felt issue. May God continue to give you help in your sorrow. Even though it diminishes over the years, it will never go away! My wife and I lost our son 40 years ago and I still weep when I read articles and stories dealing with the loss of a son or daughter. I weep for you but I glory in the hope that Jesus has made it possible for all of us and our children to be together for all eternity! What a Savior!
Powerful, helpful and honest. Thank you for sharing!
What a helpful and thoughtful article, Angie. I hope this helps everyone who is experiencing heartache and who wonders how best to minister meaningfully to those experiencing heartache.
Thank you for writing this, Angie.
Just said a prayer for you, Dirk. May God give you peace!
I need serious prayer for the condition of my soul. I know that I’ve turned from God time and time again. I prayed for salvation as a child and grew up in the church.. but not knowing my bible having obsessive compulsive disorder young (which literally everyone in my mothers family had) and the fear of man let me into heavy heavy sin. I’m devoting myself to the truths of scripture. My long time abusers convinced me that God had rejected me and that I was awful. Please pray I have the faith and ability to repent and turn from sin. My most serious condition is having pet sins while feeling calloused with them. Please please pray for my standing before God. For God to hear my prayers and change my heart.
Pray for LEMA Institute, a post GED level school for training pastors in Africa, for God's financial provision to fully renovate its site in Mbaitoli of Eastern Nigeria.
Thanks Bill for highlighting these misunderstandings and bringing some clarity to our discussion. The Mormon-Muslim comparison is interesting.
Pray for Ideal Park CRC in Wyoming, Mi. Our pastor will be retiring in September, and we will be searching to find someone appropriate to lead our small congregation. Pray that God will present the right person, and that we will follow His will.
Very interesting an important work. Recently, in dealing with some old historical records, an archivist told me that there may some doubt about whether digital records could be kept 500 years. No one seemed to know. The Dead Sea scrolls lasted some 2500 years (I think) and are still kept in a "safe place".
Is this something we need to be concerned about? Just wondering!
Greg, your comment that "many Muslims feel threatened " needs some explanation. If we can figure out what threatens them here, we can try and understand over a cup of coffee .... and sign language!
"Whatever conclusions we come to with respect to particular policy approaches (and we should be humble here), we should be agreed that health care for the poor is not merely a matter of charity. It is a matter of justice. Our representatives should know that this is where the Christian tradition stands." A direct quote from Tuininga's article.
Governments all over the world have taken over the responsibility for the healthy, the ill and the poor. In the case of conflicts, procreation and euthanasia with startling and unexpected consequences.
How we deal with these issues at an educational institution or a think tank is one thing.
Here is where VandeGriend's last comment makes sense to me. The CRCNA has just joined two of its "ministry" organizations together that might have been better privatized. Then they could much easier speak on behalf of their supporters and make a positive position known to governments. In Canada we have an organization called Cardus (and there are probably others) that do a very good job speaking to governments with considerable expertise supported by research.
... and Canada is in deep trouble :-
The Canadian House of Commons passed anti-Islamophobia motion (M-103) on Thursday, leaving opponents stunned that protests and tens of thousands of Canadian signatures to petitions calling for rejection of the motion were ignored. M-103 was touted as advancing tolerance, inclusiveness and racial harmony, but instead it bestows a special status to Muslims and is a first step in edging Canada down a dangerous path, eroding the freedom of speech and potentially leading to the censorship of reporting on crimes committed by Muslims in the name of Islam. Even after the cover-up of the UK’s “grooming gangs” and the eventual revelation that up to “one million white English children” may have been victims of Muslim rape gangs; the sex assaults in Germany which have led to signs in pool areas telling Muslim migrants that it is not appropriate to touch women; Sweden’s rape crisis; and France’s no-go zones, still, the German Media Council told journalists not to mention the ethnicity or religion of perpetrators on the grounds that it would be discriminatory to do so. Such an approach leaves Westerners ignorant and uninformed, and living in a permanent state of unease. In Canada, Mohamed Huque, executive director of the Islamic Family and Social Services Association in Edmonton has already called for migrant sex crimes to be covered up following the sex assault of six Edmonton teen girls of which a Syrian refugee was arrested.
In a Toronto Sun article entitled “I’m a liberal Muslim and I reject M-103,” Farzana Hassan writes:
Internationally, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has moved to curtail “Islamophobia” in the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. I categorically reject such restriction on free speech, just as I reject M-103, tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who has refused to remove the term from the motion.
Following the passage of M-103, a reporter in the CBC video here begins by saying: “That woman with the glasses is Liberal Iqra Khalid. It’s hard to tell if she’s happy or just relieved that her motion passed.” Khalid emerged beaming like the proverbial cat that got the canary after her victory in Parliament by a 201-91 vote, courtesy of the majority Liberal government. Most Conservative Members of Parliament voted against the motion, “with leadership candidate Michael Chong and Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton voting in favour.” Some say that a motion is harmless, but it is not. It guides legislative decisions. Liberal MP Raj Grewal revealed the ominous intentions behind the “anti-Islamophobia” motion during the M-103 parliamentary debate of February 15, 2017, when he stated:
One of the most important things about the motion that Canadians should understand is that it encourages a committee to collect data and to present that data in a contextualized manner so we, as members of Parliament elected to this chamber, can study it and propose laws.
Iqra Khalid now stands as a hero among Islamic supremacists after managing quite cleverly to play the victim herself and on behalf of other Muslims. She spoke to reporters after the motion was passed on Thursday:
“I’m really happy that the vote today has shown positive support for this motion and I’m really looking forward to the committee taking on this study,”
Khalid is referring to the Commons heritage committee, which is now tasked with developing a “government-wide approach for reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia.” Following the passage of M-103, Khalid was swamped by the media, and pressed by a reporter on whether she thought she could have allayed the concerns of many Canadians by including a written definition of “Islamophobia.” Instead of addressing the question, Khalid clumsily dodged answering. The reporter continued: “Why won’t you answer my question?,” at which point Khalid rudely turned away from him. Still in full avoidance mode, she turned to another reporter, who embarrassed her further by stating that she, too, was interested in an answer to the question. Now cornered and looking foolish, Khalid turned back to the original reporter and asked, “What was the question?” The reporter repeated himself but she replied only by hailing the merits of M-103, stating that it involved a collaborative effort and had the support of Canadians, parliamentarians and grassroots organizations, which is a bogus assertion. There was no collaboration, but rather a dictation to all Canadians by the Liberal government and Islamic supremacists.
Khalid refused discussion with community members and groups that did not align with her agenda, including those who stressed the need either to fully define “Islamophobia” or otherwise change the word in the interests of a united Canada. One of those groups was the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), which stated in a declaration that “We believe the term ‘Islamophobia’ should be replaced with a more precise phrase, such as ‘anti-Muslim bigotry,’ which was suggested by, among others, former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.” Jews and blacks still suffer more hate and racism, by far, than Muslims do, but Iqra Khalid was not interested in them, nor in inclusiveness.
If Khalid’s intentions were as benign as she pretends them to be, she would hardly be so dogmatically resistant to adopting the suggested phrase, “anti-Muslim bigotry,” that was presented to her as an option that would be acceptable to all peace-loving Canadians. Khalid sought to use the specifically branded term of “Islamophobia,” which is a broad and sweeping term intended to intimidate and silence critics of Islam. Iqra Khalid appeared to be well aware of the confusion that resulted from her “Islamophobia” motion as she remained resolute in insisting on that word.
Khalid is well versed in deceit, and has, despite her harmless appearance, a questionable history. She is a former president of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Student Association (MSA) at York University. MSA’s are “essentially an arm of the Saudi-funded, Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Muslim World League.” The Muslim Student Associations are also well known for their aggressive Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions drives on campus to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel, and for their intimidation of Jewish students. In January 2016, Khalid received a red carpet welcome from board members of the Palestine House in Mississauga (near Toronto) and a “large number of members of the Palestinian community,” including Palestinian political activists. Palestine House supports the Palestinian al-Quds Intifada, and its settlement program was defunded by the former Conservative Harper government for allying itself with terrorism.
The controversy surrounding Khalid’s motion was first portrayed in the mass media as an issue of right versus left and of white supremacists versus “immigrants.” Even the tragic shooting in January at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City — which killed six people and injured 19 — ended up being used as a political rallying point to shore up support for M-103 and fan the flames of division that were spreading fast, despite the lack of transparency about what really occurred at that mosque and the motive behind the shooting. But Forum Research proved that Canadians still widely rejected M-103. The research group found that only 14% of people supported M-103, and an Angus Reid poll showed that only 12% thought that M-103 was “‘worth passing’ and ‘will help reduce anti-Muslim attitudes and discrimination.’”
Behind Khalid were muscular Muslim Brotherhood lobbies and a global network. Canada’s first anti-Islamophobia motion that passed in October and the second, M-103, were built on petition e-411 by Samer Majzoub, who managed a Muslim Brotherhood-linked Montreal high school, and is a leader of the self-described Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Association of Canada (MAC). Majzoub even accused Conservative MPs of “stoking a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment” in opposing M-103.
Petition e-411, which was presented with 70,000 signatures, outlined the contributions of Islam throughout history and declared Islam a religion of peace that had been hijacked by a violent few. The petition was celebrated by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the former Canadian branch of CAIR (CAIR-CAN). CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism funding trial in U.S. history, related to funding Hamas. CAIR was also designated a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates. The NCCM’s Executive Director, Ihsaan Gardee, said of the first anti-Islamophobia motion that it sent “a strong message to Canadians that discrimination and hatred against Muslims is unacceptable.” Six major Canadian cities also signed an anti-Islamophobia charter last summer, which was initiated by the NCCM.
Those who are pushing the “Islamophobia” agenda have not finished, either in Canada or worldwide. This nefarious scheme can be traced all the way up to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC has many member nations that once subscribed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but which signed on to the Cairo Declaration of Human rights in August 1990. The Cairo declaration affirmed that Sharia is the sole source of determining human rights. Sharia is regarded as divine law, and any insult to Muhammad or Islam is deemed blasphemous.
The passing of this “Islamophobia” motion in Canada represents a low point for freedom and an outstanding achievement for Islamic supremacists. For over 20 years, the OIC has been pressuring the West to restrict the free speech in accordance with its charter to “to combat defamation of Islam.” In 2009, an official OIC organization, the International Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Academy, issued fatwas calling for bans on the freedom of speech, legislation to protect Islamic interests, and judicial punishment for public expressions of apostasy. Demands to ban the freedom of speech also came from Egypt’s Salafist Nour party, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hizballah and al-Qaeda-linked groups.
The “Islamophobia” subterfuge is not new in Canada. In November 2012, a video created by a member of the Canadian military that mocked Osama bin Laden was deemed Islamophobic. The video was shown during an event as a satire of the brutalities practiced within Islamic regimes, which freedom-loving Muslims themselves rail against. The head of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, was so upset by this video that he issued an apology to those who were offended and stated that the military has “zero tolerance for acts that do not reflect our Canadian values, especially the respect we owe to other cultures and religions.” A full military investigation was also launched, with a promise to follow through with disciplinary action against those involved. CAIR-CAN called it “tragic that an ignorant prank threatens to cast a shadow on our heritage.” The real tragedy, however, was the intimidation and attempt at censorship. And as accusations of “Islamophobia” grow more common in the West, there are bound to be much more intimidation and censorship.
In a special contribution to the Montreal Gazette, Montreal physician Dr. Sherif Emil, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, wrote prior to the passing of M-103:
The demagoguery of Islamophobia is already manifest in the Liberals’ apparent quest to brand all opposed to M-103 as extremists, racists and bigots. All three opposition parties supported an alternative motion that urged the House to condemn “all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious communities….
No Liberal MP supported the motion; it seems they did not have the guts to defy their prime minister and be — well — liberal.
The controversial Muslim author and speaker Irshad Manji once told Canada’s Globe and Mail that “offending people may be the only way to achieving a pluralistic society.” The best defense against the Islamophobia ploy is the active defense of our constitutionally protected principles of human rights, especially the freedom of speech, even when that speech is offensive, and the encouragement of pluralism within Islam. To criticize or insult Islam — or any religion, for that matter — is neither racist nor incitement to hatred. In fact, the reverse is true: smothering public discourse creates a fertile ground for toxic emotions to fester against Muslims, thereby creating the opposite of what Iqra Khalid says she is trying to do.
Some other recent incidents of Islamic supremacist incursion in Canada: Ontario also unanimously passed an anti-Islamophobia motion, and most disappointing was that Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown “instructed” his caucus to vote for it; the Peel Regional School Board in Mississauga is not only allowing Islamic sermons, but is refusing to monitor the contents of those sermons. Parents are furious. When protests erupted a couple of months ago, Peel police intervened as if they were Sharia police and bullied a female protester outside. New protests have now begun. Last Wednesday, a Peel District School Board meeting about Muslim prayer was cleared by police after some infuriated attendees shouted comments about Sharia and concerns about the Islamic indoctrination of children; pages were torn from a Quran.
Author Bruce Bawer in his book While Europe Slept warns that Europe is being destroyed from within by Islamic incursion, and most Europeans don’t even know it is happening. The same process has begun in Canada, with its suicidal refugee policy of welcoming in unvetted asylum seekers and ramming “anti-Islamophobia” initiatives down the throats of Canadians, along with the persistence of Canadian authorities in unreasonably accommodating Islamic supremacists and even allowing Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups and individuals to sway public policy. The only positive aspect of the M-103 “anti-Islamophobia” ordeal was the open and widespread rejection of it by Canadians of every race and religious background.
I appreciate your posing this "dilemma." This tension, as I have come to understand it, comes from misunderstandings I have had. Maybe somewhat like my misunderstanding about the spelling of "dilemma," which I--and I think many others—always thought was d-i-l-e-m-n-a.
My limited experience with Muslim people has come through volunteering to help in resettlement of Iraqi refugee families who have become very good friends, frequently welcoming me into their homes even for the 'breaking of the fast' feast during Ramadan. However, I have been interacting in various ways with Mormon people for over forty years in a variety of settings, including structured dialog. While there are many big differences, Muslims and Mormons have certain things in common--different scriptures, a revered founding prophet, Abrahamic ancestry, and high respect for an historic Jesus. These elements, especially the last two, provide a uniqueness in our response to the Great Commission as we relate to Mormons, and I would think. Muslims also. In my experience, dialog becomes the best context for an evangelistic witness to Jesus.
One misunderstanding that I have had, is to feel that somehow I had to prove Mormonism (or Islam) wrong before there would be any openness to my explanation of the truth. This approach was almost always met defensively, and the intent of the interaction became winning an argument and making sure I got the last word. On the other hand if I actively listen to their perspective, without thinking about what my rebuttal might be and even being open to learning something valuable from their experience, defenses are reduced and an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect--and "love of neighbor"--is fostered. In that context a reasoned account of my understanding and faith in Jesus can be presented much more directly, and I find it is heard in a way that is much more likely understood in the way I intended it.
A second and related misunderstanding is to feel my role is to convert. And if that does not happen, either I failed or this person is unreachable, and so the best thing to do is not “waste” more time relating to this person, but move on to someone else and try again. But is this what Jesus really commissioned and commanded us to do? I have found it most liberating to leave the converting role to the Holy Spirit, and simply find ways to build and enjoy loving relationships and look for opportunities to relate what a loving relationship with Jesus is and can be.
Then one more misunderstanding, the one implied in your raising the question: With dialogue “there seems to be a spirit of compromise that also doesn't seem right.” I suppose one might say giving a Muslim an audience to proclaim his faith is an admission of his faith being a legitimate alternative to Christianity. Two comments: I have not felt that I was making, or even understood to be making, such an admission, but rather giving a respectful acknowledgement of what is important to that person, and a genuine interest in understanding him or her more fully. Also, in the process I gain insight into the hopes and fears he has in his search for meaning, with which I likely identify, at least in part. This can lead to “deeper dialog,” and becomes a bridge to further conversation about what Jesus offers, something both Mormons and Muslims (I have met) are quite ready to discuss. The goal of the dialog then becomes a mutual desire to know Jesus more fully.
"Compel repentance"? Did Jesus compel? Can compelling in itself be abusive??
There are 5 strategies: 1. Understand Islam accurately (no need for Islamaphobia) 2. Make local churches healthier and become disciples of Christ in all areas of life and live as salt and light in society 3. Embrace increasing foreigners in Korea with love and care. If not, then they will turn to Islam. 4. Increase the rate of faith transfer from older generation to younger generation instead of losing the youth into secularism/consumerism/pluralism. 5. Evangelize the Muslims intentionally unlike the Europeans and Americans who without reservation accepted Muslim immigrants last 100 years, now facing unprecedented crisis everywhere (home grown terrorists from extreme Muslims, etc).
Thanks for sharing that Paul. Very eye opening. As a Korean that must be very sad and frustrating. I lament with you. I pray that the Korean churches will ramp up their outreach and focus on Muslims. I suspect that they will also have to find ways to co-exist with Muslims in ways that bear witness to Christ in every day life. We have talked briefly in the past - but what kinds of strategies does the Korean Church have to prepare for this change and to equip themselves for outreach to Muslims?
Let me share with you and all about the growth of Islam in Korea.
See the picture first: http://www.churchheresy.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=197
1. Reasons for the growth of Islam: There are many, but these are major ones. Low birth rate among the Korean population as people enjoy wealthy lifestyle. Low labor force population in the lower class jobs. Super aging population as people live longer with better health. Islam (Middle East) world's intentional strategy to grow Islam in Korea as a strategic and fertile location for East Asia region to reach out to Japan and China.
2. In Arab League News on July 11, 1988, there was an article about Korea. "100 years ago, there was no Christians in Korea. But now Christian population is about 25%. It shows an amazing growth of Christian population. Korean people must be very religious. There are only 30,000 Muslims in Korea now, but within a few decades, Korea will become a Muslim country."
3. As to the Muslim population, the growth is like this: In 1970, 3,700 people. In 1980, 22,000 people. In 2009, 70,000 people. In 2016 (last year), the unofficial number of Muslims in Korea has reached 400,000 Muslims! Everyone who read the Arab League News in 1980 thought it was a non-sense then. Now everybody thinks it has become a reality to grapple with. Leaders of Korea estimate that by 2050, Muslim population will reach 4 million people. Currently South Korea has 50 million population. It is nearly 10%. By that time, Christian (Protestant) population will be less than Muslim population. As Muslims become "majority" in Korea, they will show their true face to establish Sharia law. They will take advantage of Korean culture and technology to reach out to Japan and China.
4. Muslim nations use Oil money for investment, scholarships for students, Mosque building projects, International marriage (big reward of $65,000) for a Muslim man who gets married to a Korean woman, as their strategies. Muslim wives are expected to give birth to many more children than Korean women, which is their century old strategy to be dominant population.
5. When I was working in Korea at a Christian University 5 years ago, there was a news article about Seoul National University where a Muslim student who wanted to go out of the classroom to pray during the prayer time yet scolded or prohibited to do so by her professor mobilized other Muslim students to threaten that professor by emails and phone calls and etc as a revenge. Seoul National University (best in the country) was under a lot of pressure from the Muslim nations' embassies to have an accommodating school policy for the Muslim students in return for significant grants to the university.
6. Japan and China are much more difficult to penetrate into the society due to the strong government's policy, but Korea is much more lenient toward Islam, they realized. Thus they chose Korea. Also they know the potential of the Korean population in sending over 20,000 missionaries all over the world. The strong religiosity of the Korean people is what they are taking advantage of. It is so sad and frustrating! I don't want to see what Islam did to Turkey (by conquering Constantinople in 1453) happen in South Korea!
Been wrestling with exactly this over the last few months. Have taken to calling myself "spiritual coach." No title, per se. But that's just fine.
I can totally relate to this as a pastor/missionary. I am curious though - what titles are you using now as an alternate to pastor in order to open doors to communication - do you have any favorites? Thanks!
I agree. I thought Tuininga's article was quite good indeed, including its restraint. That is, he clearly states there will be differences among those who hold to his basic premise about how to accomplish it, and that the institutional church is not competent in making those decisions.
I don't there is much difference in opinion, inside or even outside the church, that one obligation of the institution of government is to provide a "safety net" for all, which includes food, water, shelter, basic education, freedom from force applied by others, and basic medical care (and perhaps more). What is less agreed upon is: (1) how government might most effectively and efficiently do this, (2) how government might do this without itself causing injury (help without hurting), (3) how government might do this without injustice to others (who government will ultimately force to do it, via taxes or other mandates).
As to these other "devil is in the details" questions, the institutional church (the CRCNA in particular) ought not pretend expertise or moral authority in behalf of its members.
Paul - I just posted an article on Muslims in Europe converting to Christianity and reviving the churches there - so that is encouraging. I would be interested to know about Islam in Korea and if it is increasing - if you have info about that please share it (or email me). I think it is important to point out that Muslims still comprise only 1% of the US population (higher in Canada) so we are a long way from the US becoming a Muslim country. On the other hand, we shouldn't be complacent in our outreach to Muslims. The challenge, according to a recent Christianity Today article, is that many evangelicals do not have Muslim friends (nor do they want to).
Thanks Craig. My comments come from observing a wide variety of Christians across the theological spectrum. I agree with you. I am also cognizant that our Muslim friends are just as eager to see us adopt their faith - so being honest about this is a good start. I am not sure if this would true for other kinds of dialogues with different faith traditions but it is true for sure with Muslim-Christian dialogue.
Sounds like a healthy approach. Thanks Bonnie.
I appreciate your comments. I do agree with you 100%. I watched a documentary about a former Baptist Christian in Texas last night who got converted to be a Muslim just prior to becoming a baptist preacher... He and his wife are openly sharing with their neighbors and friends about the "true religion" of Islam with a hope that some day American would become a strong Muslim country. They believe that if USA becomes a Muslim country, then this world will become much more peaceful world. Having studied the history of Islam expansion last 14 centuries, I know no ethnic groups that used to be Muslim becoming Christian ethnic group, but I know TONS of the opposite realities. Islam is the FASTEST growing religion in the USA. They (the Texan White Muslims) were thankful to Allah to spread Islam all over the USA after 9.11. He was thankful specifically about 9.11 because after that, many ignorant white people became curious about Islam and in the process of learning more about Islam, they realized about the beauty of Islam and they got converted. I am sad about this trend and movement. I am deeply concerned about this reality of rising Islam religion in Korea (it's growing by leaps and bounds as well) and in North America.
I appreciate you raising this question, Greg. I think it's timely. I also appreciate your conclusion.
I confess a rather strong negative reaction to the idea that wanting to evangelize Muslims (or anyone) contains some kind of objectionable hidden agenda. How could there be anything objectionable about wanting others to come to know the hope of Jesus Christ and therefore being vigilant for opportunities to share that hope with them? If we really believe the gospel, what more loving desire could we possibly have for someone? Even in formal / structured settings, my hope would be that we have the desire to be as winsome as we can in whatever ways we can for the sake of drawing others to Christ.
I want to insist that there's no need to hold the Great Commandment and the Great Commission "in tension." I can't see how they contain any opposing elements. One of the most important ways in which we love our neighbours is by making disciples of Jesus.
Its good to be well equipped with some resources. Here is a really great video that I appreciated from Tim Keller, who was invited to address Google. He was addressing the skeptical and also to promote his latest book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uIvOniW8xA
I also appreciate Keller's "accessible prose"... it reminds me that the goal is never to win the argument but win the heart in order to share the gospel. Much like Koukl, he speaks in an "inoffensive" manner. He also beautifully uses the offensive approach (2 Cor 10:15) by showing the often self-refuting nature of others' belief systems. In addition to Keller, I would highly recommend (at the top of the list) anything written by John Frame, a former student of Van Til and a champion of presuppositional apologetics. http://www.wtsbooks.com/category/318/John-Frame?view_all
One can also find on youtube some great debates between Doug Wilson and the late Christopher Hitchens. (really good stuff!)
Also, while I'm not familiar with all of the suggested sources, I am aware of Hugh Ross and what he advocates and promotes. Since I'm unaware of the others, do any of them come from a six-day creation belief? It may be wise to state up front, some of the beliefs of these men. Perhaps a quick sentence so as not to mislead anyone. Much more could be said regarding that issue, but suffice it to say, there is much apologetic material supporting textual evidence that is contrary to what Ross believes... and it maintains theological consistency in regards to doctrines on the nature of man (historicity of Adam), the doctrine of sin and the sufficiency of God's Word.
I think at least part of the answer about balancing evangelism and dialog lies in authentic relationship, being willing to be open and vulnerable with others. If I'm open with others, and Christ is in me, then others will see Christ there as I'm honest and open with who I am. We are called to BE witnesses; it's something we are not something we do. Although even that is a false dichotomy because our words and actions also come from who we are. We need to live as authentic Christians in the world, wherever God has called us. If we did that better, I believe we would see the Lord use us to draw others to himself. What if we truly loved our neighbor as we love ourselves? Can we even imagine it? The context of authentic relationship seems to me to be a valuable tool in God's hand. Cultivating those relationships, for their own sake is important. It's like working the soil so that it can perhaps be ready for any seed that might be sown (remember from the parable how important the soil is; preparing the soil is critically important in providing the right environment for the seed to sprout and grow). One might sow while another reaps, but it's God that does the real work. Spending time with others around areas of common concern is a great way to build genuine relationships. Justice and community issues provide a great opportunity. I loved working in the field of domestic and sexual violence, something I'm passionate about, with others who are not Christian. I often felt a greater camaraderie and fellowship with others in those circles than I did in some of my Christian contexts. They shared my passion; and I was also free to share in the intersection of Christ and his Church. We are called to love our neighbors, whoever they are, empowered by the Holy Spirit, who will guide each step.
That would be wonderful to get some of these resources posted. Most of the resources that Safe Church offers have been gathered and/or created by way of congregations facing these issues. Safe Church is happy to be a part of gathering and sharing information that can help all of us in our various ministries.
Thanks for your comment, Roger. But as a Christian, I don't know why the agenda should be "hidden." We are called to be followers of Christ. Christ commanded us to spread the gospel all over the world, including our neighbors. Being a friend is wonderful. We need to do that. But having a hope for our Muslim neighbor to become a Christ-follower to be saved (as those suicide Muslim terrorists won't go to Muslim version of heaven although that's what they believe) is even greater. That hope should not be hidden agenda. It should be our agenda. Paul said that he became to all men to win as many as possible. His goal was not hidden at all, I don't think.
Sounds like a dilemma to me. Do we evangelize or dialog? Which side do we err on? You mention that this concern is raised in the structured setting of formal conversation rather than informal dialog. But then you ask, is our goal to evangelize our Muslim friends? That sounds less than the formal setting.
If the conversation is formal with a goal of reaching agreement on social justice, community cohesion and peace, why would evangelization (talk of Christ’s saving benefits) even be brought into the conversation? That would incite division immediately. It would be seen as a Christian attempt to push the Christian religion as the religious answer to social justice or community peace. If the Muslim party involved in this dialog attempted to promote their religion as the answer to social injustice, you as a Christian would, no doubt, be insulted, as well. Most people don’t see religion as the answer to social and community needs.
As to personal relationships, I’d say, be careful. The only religion that is attractive to another is one’s own religion (a general principle). Just as the gospel is foolishness to those outside of Christianity, so the gospel of the Islamic religion is foolishness to those outside of Islamic circles. Test for yourself. What gospel outside of Christianity do you find to be attractive? Probably none. And those outside of Christian circles don’t really want to hear about the Christian faith. It is “foolishness” as Paul says. So if any of these responders came close to a good approach to a Muslim, I’d say Bill Harris comes closest. As a Christian, be a friend with no hidden agenda. If there comes a time in which your Muslim neighbor wants to talk religion, let them ask. Otherwise, just be a caring friend. And you and your friend will likely both be richer for the relationship.
As part of the Yearbook staff, I have sought Dick's help numerous times, asking him to search the archives for that last little piece of the puzzle we were missing. Dick was always happy to help and did so on a very timely basis. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to tour the archives and it is truly amazing! It is so well-organized and it impressed me that with all the records stored there, how fast he could find what we needed. And, you could see how much he enjoyed his work. We will miss him, but I wish him much happiness in his retirement!
Always efficient, knowledgeable and thorough. Thank you for your faithful service to the CRC. Blessings on your retirement!
This sounds great! I'd love to hear more about what you learned so that we can share it with other churches. Maybe some of this could end up as a resource on the Safe Church Ministry site so that other ministries and churches can share it?
Yes, amen. Thanks Bill. If more people would make friends with Muslims I think many people would feel more positively about this group of people. Friendships break down all kinds of barriers, dispel misconceptions that many of us hold (and I am sure that this also applies to Muslim about Christians). The dilemma is that it is hard to get people to befriend a group that they are suspicious of or hold negative views of. So it is a Catch -22 senario. But I do agree that serving on neighborhood committees, PTA, volunteering - these are all good ways to connect with people who hold other world views. This can be a very stretching experience but necessary in an increasingly pluralistic world.
Thanks Michael for your words of wisdom. I think that you are right in that we are not dealing with a binary situation - evangelism versus social justice. It is more of a continuum with redemption through the cross and resurrection of Jesus as the focal point. Without that it is all rather pointless. Perhaps some are reacting to a more aggressive approach to evangelism (proselytizing) that puts so much emphasis on conversion that the individual in question becomes a target and a box to check - as opposed to a more Reformed approach involving a Kingdom perspective involving all of life - and that allegiance to King Jesus is a critical part of that. I think Kingdom living and "lifestyle evangelism" is synonymous and so we are on the same page.
Thanks Paul for sharing your global experiences of interacting with the church in different contexts. Much of what you relate is on the minds of people in North America and I have heard it expressed quite often. In the US there is the travel ban and in Canada M-103 to study Islamophobia. There is a lot of fear of Islam in our churches, mainly due to ISIS and other terrorist groups. Students of history also warn us of what can happen when Islam is in the majority. For example, the book The Lost History of Christianity speaks of the decimation of the church in the east. On the other hand, many Muslims feel very threatened in our society today - and I believe our first reaction should be to welcome the stranger and extend a cup of water (or coffee) to our Muslim neighbors. So while not downplaying the threat to democracy of any authoritarian idealogy - I want to emphasize neighborly love and welcome - respecting the other as an image bearer and making sure their rights are protected. All this I also hope will be a powerful witness and open doors to sharing the Gospel.
Thanks for the practical example Michael. Doug Kindschi talks about thin dialogue and thick dialogue. If I understand the concept right, thin dialogue is thinking that we are basically the same. Thick dialogue is representing our faith deeply and well as you said.
Our interfaith dialog group has openly addressed Greg's question a number of times.
I have been in a situation where I felt some participants in a dialog group wanted to show that we Christians and Muslims were basically the same. Neither I nor the Muslims in our group wanted to go down that road. It isn't fun to be "evangelized" in a dialog group; it made me feel unsafe.
We do urge everyone to represent their religion deeply and well. Our group dialogues have led me to dig more deeply into our tradition and find ways to express it in understandable language. This has really helped me grow!
Is the Muslim neighbor first a "Muslim" or is she my neighbor? It seems the jump to twin ministry options is a sort of false dichotomy. The more basic way, that pioneered by InterVarsity, is that of good old friendship evangelism (see Rebecca Piper's Out of the Saltshaker & Into The World). The command to do good to all certainly applies, as does Peter's word about us always being ready to give an account for the hope that it is us. That's not the hope of some evangelism program, but the hope of a shared life. The division between evangelism and social justice likewise misses all the occasions where our lives do intertwine, volunteering say, serving together on school's PTA, etc. These are the places where we get to know other lives, and in doing so can hear their joys and their struggles, and if we have ears, their need.
So my word is, let's make a friend.
Pray for the funding needed to complete our Adoption from China.
Pray for our church as we are in the process of revitalizing and seeking God's direction for the steps he has next for us as a congregation. Pray that we hear his voice clearly and discern appropriately the next steps. Pray that we not fear where God leads.
Pray for me as the pastor of the body to grow in my ability to pray and intercede for the body I shepherd.
I’m wondering if the tension we sometimes feel is because we tend to believe that we can separate the gospel from justice and peace; or that we can actually have true shalom and love without Holy Spirit-fueled redemption. Isn’t that the message of the gospel: that love and peace and justice can finally break into the world because our sin is crucified and through faith we are becoming the righteousness of God? Obviously, this is a primary argument. There are all sorts of secondary issues when dealing with people and culture. Jesus didn’t just preach and die – he grew up and walked and ate and drank and lived and laughed with the sinners he came to save. “Lifestyle evangelism” (as some call it) is right on the money, precisely because living the witness of the Kingdom day-in and day-out is not a program; it’s an abundant life with our God which is shared with neighbors. So, I’m guessing Jesus didn’t feel a lot of tension between evangelism and promoting social justice.
As to the original paragraph of the article, evangelism only seems to be a hidden agenda if you believe you have to hide Christ to truly have peace. On the other hand, if redemption is the greatest step toward true peace and justice, why would you hide Christ? The answer to the question seems to depend on how you see peace and justice realized on earth. If the victory of God over sin can come without the Son of God, then put him away and be done with him.
Thank you for your post! I appreciate all of your points.
Thank you for your post. Let me offer some of my responses here.
About 6 years ago, when I was still working in South Korea at a Christian University, there was a public festival where a number of different organizations set up their booths and advertise their organizations, one of which was Islam of Korea. So I visited there and asked about some "recent" violence caused by the Muslims around the world. The president of the group strongly emphasized that Islam is a religion of peace, that Islam never teaches people to do violent things against any other people in any religion. We all know that it is not true. It hasn't been true since the birth of Islam. As I visit the Central Asian countries, millions of Christians (Nestorian churches and the Church of the East) were murdered by Muslim conquerers and armies for centuries. The Egyptian Christians I met in Egypt 2 years ago shared with me a long history of systematic oppressions of Islam against Christians. ISIS have been trying to eradicate Christians in the region of Iraq and Syria. Let me say that Islam is not a religion of peace! In this context, the best way to love them is to evangelize them through the medium of relationship building, community support and whole different ways of showing love and care. If Jesus were here, he would do the same. His purpose is not just having conversation with them, but teach and demonstrate the truth about the Way, the Life and the Truth through loving care.
I know their tactic in Nigeria and Europe and Asia that have worked for centuries: Once they become the majority in their country and gain political power, then they begin to oppress others and Christians by quoting later parts of Quran. Islam is still a minority religion in North America, but if and when they become the majority in this continent, then it will be too late as our countries are of democracy and each person's vote counts. What Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France are doing have merits and keen point in saying, "If you don't like our democracy and freedom, get out of this country and go back to your country." Before they become majority in Canada and the USA, we should set a high priority to evangelize (as true purpose) them to become Christians. That's best way to love them and leave a legacy of peace in this country and all over the world.
Larry, thanks for this. We finally have done that. Christian Reformed and Reformed Church in America Disability Concerns, working with CRC Pastor Church Resources, chaplains, and pastors have produced a Guide for a Clergy Leave of Absence for Mental Health Reasons as well as supporting materials to present the guide to groups. Church leaders often have a good idea how to respond if pastor has a serious physical illness or accident, but they are much less sure what to do if pastor has a serious mental health crisis. We hope and pray that this guide will help churches and pastors navigate these difficult waters with grace.