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Thanks, John, for your comparison of Christianity to that of Islam, especially the roles of prophet, priest, and king as displayed by the respective leaders of each religion. Your comparison is so illegitimate that it hardly makes any sense to read it.  From the start you make Christ the ultimate standard to which you compare Mohammed.  Of course Mohammed is going to fail the test.  And Christ would fail just as fatally if you were to make Mohammed the standard of perfection to whom you compared Jesus.  Any Muslim would laugh at your comparison, it is so unfairly unbalanced, and falls far short of objectivity.  Your comparison is like comparing a fine wine to that of Welch’s grape juice.  There is no comparison.  To the person who is not religious, Christian or a Muslim, such a comparison as you make is embarrassing.  But thanks, John, for making an attempt.

Thanks, John, for wanting to carry out this comparison.  You realize that you are attempting to compare apples to oranges.  Jesus and Mohammed are completely different characters in their respective roles and religions.  You are attempting to compare God to a human being.  Muslims believe in a single solitary God (Allah) unlike Christians, who believe in a Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  Jesus (the Son) is God.  How do you even begin to compare God to a human?  Christians claim that God is perfect in all his attributes.  Mohammed makes no such claim.  Your comparison would be like comparing God to John Span.  There is no comparison.  So by setting up Jesus as your ideal standard bearer for prophet, priest, and king, no one, including Mohammed, will ever measure up.  So the comparison is completely unbalanced and lacking in objectivity.  It’s a non-starter.

       Thanks, Walt, for your comment.  I’m struck by your response to this article.  It doesn’t really align well with our Belgic Confession (Art. 13) or Heidelberg Catechism (LD 10).  Of course you may not be of Reformed persuasion or may not hold such confessions in high regard.  Christians from other traditions will come to different conclusions than either you or the Reformed Confessions.  Appealing to the Bible, as you have, will also bring a huge variety of interpretations.  After all, with the hundreds of Christian denominations, there are nearly as many different interpretations of particular Bible passages.  On top of that there are hundreds of different religions, all making the same claim as Christians that their Scriptures are the true inspired word of God.  And with the variety of God inspired Scriptures there are a variety of ways to understand God’s (or the Gods) involvement in human events, as well as natural events such as the Corona virus. 

       I realize that Christians think they are the only ones with true insight into all things religious and spiritual, including the nature of God.  But Christianity (in all its variety) is having a diminishing impact on first world nations (Western civilization) with its emphasis on reason.  In other words, the Bible is seen as less and less relevant in our world of reason and even common sense.   Religions, including Christianity, base their teachings on so-called supernatural revelations.  For all the reasons that Christianity rejects the inspired teachings of all other religions, those outside of Christianity also reject the inspired teachings of the Bible for the same reasons.  In other words, as a manmade revelation, the Bible is no more relevant than the Scriptures of other religions in forecasting or predicting God’s involvement or non involvement in world or personal affairs.  

       So what is God’s involvement in the Corona virus?  Where do we look for resolve of this endemic?  I would venture that most are looking to the experts in the scientific and medical fields.  With over five million confirmed cases globally and nearly four hundred thousand deaths it would seem as though prayer has been less than effective.  So let’s hope for a vaccine.

Quoting Mark Durie from your article, “reciting the Islamic confession of faith engenders a type of spiritual bondage; something of which many Western mission societies have little appreciation.”  But of course Christians know such spiritual bondage, as the New Testament makes many references calling for believers to be slaves of Christ.  So John, are you suggesting a commonality that Christians have with Muslims?

      Thanks, Justin, for explaining your approach to evangelism, especially in working with those of other religions such as those of the Muslim persuasion.  I think your view of Christianity has clouded what you believe Muslims believe.  Even as there is great variety within Christian belief, so there is with Muslims.  You talk of yourself as a “real, live Christian.”  Many Christians (nominal) think of their life and works as a reflection of their attitude toward God.  “I’m basically a good person.”  In such thinking their works are not kept on a score sheet of pass or fail.  Their life of caring about and for others is a reflection of their respect, and love for God.  They know God is a forgiving God and they don’t see themselves as an enemy of God but as a friend.  It’s not so different from you, who think of works as an expression of love and gratitude.  The big difference is that you think of yourself as worthless before God, apart from Jesus.  Others don’t consider themselves as worthless, but as a valued creation of God.

       There are differences among Muslims, as well.  In that your Muslim neighbor saw both Christianity and Islam as good, he didn’t see the other religion (Christianity) as the enemy.  Both are concerned with doing good.  I doubt that your neighbor saw his own religion primarily as a set of ethical rules, a list of dos and don’ts, as you suggest.  His living by an ethical standard of good was merely a reflection of his heart and love for Allah (or God).  Muslims also believe in God’s forgiveness and that God doesn’t expect perfection of his creatures.  So, much like many (so called) Christians, Muslims believe in doing good as an expression of love for God and neighbor.

Maybe you, Justin, need to rethink what contributes to the superiority of Christianity over that of Islam.

Thanks for an interesting conversation on the topic of Christian evangelism in the public arena.  Greg, in your above article, you wonder why evangelicals (or even classically minded Christians) are not stepping up to the plate and proclaiming Jesus publically.  To someone standing on the sidelines, the answer seems obvious.  “Jesus” is a bit of an embarrassment.  He doesn’t fit into the common ground by which other religions see as a solution to the problem of religious intolerance.  Even the mainline minister whom you mentioned seems to recognize this.  Jesus represents the height of Christian superstition, and most people including those of other religions recognize this (even those at this religious vigil).  Superstition (even Christian superstition) will not help solve the problem of religious intolerance. 
Classical Christians have long proclaimed that the problem of sin is solved in turning to Christ who paid the price as a substitute for sinners.  Christians have, over the ages, spoken of the unique nature of Christianity over all other religions.  All religions are self help religions (so say Christians).  People can better themselves, even making themselves acceptable to God.  But not so for the Christian.  So a classical Christian standing in a pool of non Christian religious people will stand out like a sore thumb.  He/she is radically different at the base.  This is the superstition of Christianity, and it is not welcome, even among other religions.  Such a vigil as you attended, Greg, are looking for a common ground, and classical Christianity doesn’t offer that.  And if you pretend there is you are coming close to hypocrisy.   That’s the obvious reason Christians don’t fit into an interfaith dialogue.

And so the hesitancy of Jason is that to enter the fray with non Christian religions, as though there is a common ground, when there isn’t.  To enter into a dialogue with other religions as though we had something in common is hypocrisy.  The Christian’s ultimate answer is Jesus and him alone.  I think the PR’s hesitancy to jump on the common grace bandwagon is that it tends to compromise the Christian stand on “Christ alone.”  Common grace is like putting a band-aid on a terminal illness.

So the answer that Christians offer the world (non Christian and those of other religions) is foolishness.  Christianity has nothing to contribute to religious harmony amongst all religions and non religions. And because even Christians know this, why embarrass themselves by proclaiming their unique superstition among non believers?  Thanks for allowing the input.

     Thanks, Greg, for the continuing dialogue.  I would question the value of the “Scriptural Reasoning” approach, at least to an evangelical effort.  Such an approach appears, to me, to be more of an intellectual approach.  It’s an approach in which each religion presents its own perspective as the best approach to God.  No one is at such a session to be convinced of another religion, especially Christians.  Other participants may be listening to each perspective, but listening with the idea of how to defend their own religion.  In the end it would be similar to a class on world religions, an intellectual approach to religious differences. Such an approach is not geared toward evangelism.  In such a setting there is little embarrassment in expressing religious ideas.  It is expected.  But I doubt that the Scriptural Reasoning approach has any or little effect as to evangelism.

     I mentioned the embarrassment Christians typically feel in doing evangelism in the public arena.  It’s easy to speak of Jesus Christ in a church setting or a seminary or Bible college setting where all believe basically the same.  It’s easy to write articles and make comments on a Christian website, where Christian dialogue is expected. 

     But it’s altogether different when a Christian is placed in hostile territory.  Christians realize that the Christian message of Jesus does not stack up to reason or common sense.  It’s a message that has to be acknowledged by faith apart from reason.  That God is a three person being of which the second person came to earth as a human baby makes little sense (even to the Muslim).  Or that Jesus is fully human and fully divine at the same time, but as to his humanity never sinned or did wrong, even as a child or a teenager, makes little sense.  And we could go on with the improbabilities of Jesus’ miraculous life, and so the non Christian reasons quickly that Christianity makes little common sense.  It’s difficult for the Christian (especially in Western culture) to evangelize in a cultural setting where reason and common sense wins the day.  That has increasing become the embarrassment of making a stand for Jesus in our culture. 

     Again, as to common grace being a segue to the Christian faith.  Perhaps there is a place for common grace in Christian thinking, that God works through other avenues other than the Christian message which is common to all people.  But common grace is not the Christian message.  A message of God’s common grace skirts the Christian message altogether.  That seemed to be your complaint in regard to the mainline Christian’s speech, no mention of Jesus, but only of “common grace” methods to help curb religious intolerance.  Once again, Greg, thanks for the dialogue.

     Hey, Izaak.  I’m a little confused.  I seem to have two responses from you.  There’s one response here on the website, but another, and different one, where I receive notification in my email of a new comment posted to this article.  That’s strange.  I’m not sure which one I’m supposed to respond to. And now there are other comments.  Let me first say, I’m good with God, in fact, very good.  No need to worry there.  Thanks for your concern.

     But, my spiritual well being would be way off track as to the intent and purpose of this article.  I think Greg is concerned as to why Christians, Bible believing Christians, are not stepping up to the plate and speaking up for Jesus (the Christian Jesus, as opposed to the Muslim Jesus), even in a forum involving various religions, such as the vigil that he went to?  And that is what I was attempting to respond to.  That’s my goal in responding to this article.

     In previous comments, I mentioned how most Christians (in our Western culture) are embarrassed by Jesus.  Let me illustrate, to help make my point clear.  We all know the tactics of evangelism used by Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.  They go door to door, wanting to make an entrance into your home, to tell you about Jesus.  You may say, I already know about Jesus.  They say they want to tell you about the real Jesus, a proper interpretation of the Bible Jesus.  And most Christians think, no thanks, I don’t want this and quickly send them away.  For us, to be so bold as to go to people’s homes to tell them about our Jesus would be embarrassing.  We think, You wouldn’t catch me going door to door, even to my neighbor right next door.  To have doors slammed in my face would be embarrassing.  Or to go to the shopping mall with a youth group and approach people with the good news of Jesus, is also embarrassing.  It’s embarrassing for those kids trying to explain Jesus to strangers, and it’s embarrassing for those strangers who are being told of the one and only way to be made acceptable to God.

     That kind of embarrassment is felt by most Christians when called upon to speak up for Jesus in a non Christian environment.  Although, all Christians know and believe the Bible’s message of Jesus, it’s embarrassing to speak of him in public, because they know such a message does not stack up to reality or to common sense.  If humans are made in God’s image, it’s our intelligence and ability to reason that makes us most like God and different from all other animals.  And human reason dictates against the Jesus of the Bible.  It would seem that this mainline Christian pastor (that Greg mentioned) knew this as well, so looked for less offensive ways  (the offense of the gospel) to represent Christians in their concern for religious intolerance.

Put Christians in a Christian context, the church, for example, and it’s easy to talk about Jesus, because all have swallowed the Jesus pill.  To put a welcome sign in front of your church is the Christian’s preference for evangelism.  But it’s not so easy to talk of Jesus in foreign territory where others haven’t swallowed the Jesus pill.  Thanks, Greg, for your encouragement.

     Thanks, Izaak, for your further input, as to why Christians fail in sharing Jesus Christ with others, even why you, yourself, have failed.  Greg, the author of this article, might do well to take note of some of the further reasons for Christianity’s failure in sharing Jesus.  As you suggest, just because sharing Jesus is easy in familiar territory and not in hostile territory, doesn’t make the message untrue.  But it does seem to say the transforming power of the gospel is not so strong as to overcome the many obstacles you and I have listed.  Where’s the empowering of the Holy Spirit to overcome all obstacles?  I imagine this is a question that Greg is frustrated by, as well.  If there is no power behind the message (as Christians claim), what does that say about the message itself?

     I hear what you are saying about the veracity of the Bible.  What you share is true because it comes from the God inspired Christian Scriptures.  But do you realize that such a mantra is the same for every religion?  You suggest that the Koran fell from the sky.  But Muslims say it was given from God to the angel Gabriel who in turn gave it to Mohamed.  Therefore it is the true inspired word from God (say the Muslims).  Or do you realize that the book of Mormon was given by the angel Moroni who gave translation to the twelve golden plates which were given by God?  Therefore the book of Mormon is the truly inspired word of God and capable of giving a true interpretation to the Bible.  In fact, Izaak, all religions claim that their Scriptures are truly inspired of God and therefore absolutely true.  All claim that only their own Scriptures are truly inspired and that all others are false.  Well, now I’m confused.  Which Scriptures or religion should I believe.  Reason would suggest they are all man made and one is no more inspired and true than the other.  They all have their own human bias.  The New Testament was written by the closest followers of Jesus possible.  Of course it is a biased account, just like the accounts of other Scriptures.

     So when you ask, how I know that I’m good with God, it is not because of the teachings of the book of Mormon, or the teachings of the Koran, or the teachings of the Jewish Scriptures, or the teachings of the Bible.  I believe that the only true revelation of God is nature, or what Christians call a general revelation of God.  It is through reason as applied to God’s natural revelation that I have a good sense of God as a caring and loving God. There is much more that could be said here, but this response is already too long.  I’m sorry if we have gotten off track in our comments.  I didn’t mean to make this personal.  I wish you well.

Hi Izaak.  It’s been good talking with you.  I’ll not comment on all of your remarks in this last response.  But I will respond to your last paragraph.  You wonder how one who believes in the God of creation can be comforted in times of trials or comprehend the success of the wicked.  Then you cite Psalm 73.  Don’t you realize that it is the creator God that Asaph (author of this Psalm) and David reveled in?   In a great sense they were deists, who trusted in a creator God who they comprehended through reason.  They were not Christians who looked to Jesus Christ for salvation.  Psalm 23 is as much, or more so, the psalm of the deist.  The same comfort David experienced, so also for the deist.  Thanks for your response.

Thanks, Greg, for graciously giving the readers of your article the opportunity to respon.  You have been generous in your response to the different viewpoints presented.  You have had quite a feedback as to what many think contributes to the timid proclamation of the Christian gospel.

     And you have had some examples of Christian evangelism demonstrated right here in the comments that have been made.  I doubt if they are the kind of evangelistic effort that would be effective in interfaith discussions though.  Dan seems to admit such ineffectiveness quite openly.  What he says about declaring the gospel at interfaith discussions would be true in most settings in our Western culture.  As Dan suggests a bold presentation of Christ would be a one hit wonder.  Don’t expect any invite backs.

     I don’t know, Greg, but have you considered that Dan in his comment is on to something?  It would seem, Biblically speaking, the gospel is not really meant to have a wide spread impact.  It is not meant to be a solution to the world’s problems.  It’s not meant to be the solution to the religious intolerance of the world, or even in our Western culture.

     Does God intend for Christianity to be the solution to the world’s problems?  As Christians we quote, or are at least aware of, the Scriptures that say, “narrow is the way that leads to life and wide is the way that leads to destruction.”  Or that, “many are called but few are chosen” for salvation.  Reformed Christians (in their own small circles) hold high the doctrine of election, the idea that God chooses only some for salvation but not all.  God, in Reformed thought, never intended to reach the many with the gospel, but only the few.  The rest, the unchosen, can go to hell which is what they deserve.  So how can we expect a success rate for the gospel when God measures success by a different standard than Christians themselves.  So Christians can proclaim the gospel far and wide (“many are called”), but God’s intention only extends to the few, the few he has chosen.

    So Greg, I would say (maybe with Dan) don’t get your hopes up.  The gospel has had little effect in establishing world peace in two thousand years.  And it won’t in the future either.  That’s not the intent of the gospel (at least in God’s mind). From a logical perspective, or reasonable perspective, the gospel’s failure has many reasons, some listed in the responses given here.  Thanks again, Greg, for the opportunity for dialogue.

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