It seems like some segments of the church today have become totally unhinged from reality.
Earlier this month a Muslim law student was asked to read from the Koran during a Christian worship service in Glasgow Cathedral in Scotland. The provost of the church said he allowed this reading to “build relationships” between Muslims and Christians in the city.
An admirable goal, to be sure, but what a strange and (I would say) blasphemous way to try to accomplish that goal—and this story provided a wonderful opportunity to pass on a valuable lesson to my kids.
The Muslim student chose for his reading Surah 19, a section of the Koran that denies Jesus is the Son of God, denies that God has begotten a Son at all, and says Christians who believe in the Trinity will incur the wrath of Allah.
After this happened, Queen Elizabeth’s chaplain, Rev. Gavin Ashenden, commented on the implications of this reading:
“What is the significance then of a Muslim standing at the lectern in a Christian Cathedral and publicly proclaiming words from the Koran which announce that the Gospel writers were engaged in a blasphemous deceit? ‘Allah can have no son’ insists Surah 19. Jesus was mistaken or misreported when he proclaimed himself one with the Father, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the only access to Him…
“The significance of this particular passage is that it confronts and contradicts the claims about Jesus that lie at the heart of the Gospel. It repudiates them as untrue. This repudiation is aimed not just at the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles, it is also directed against those who have lived out this ‘deceit.’”
Rev. Ashenden also keenly points out that in his 30 years of interfaith conversations, he has never yet come across a Muslim community which allowed passages in the Gospels proclaiming the divinity of Christ to be read in their Friday prayer services.
Sadly, because of his remarks rebuking the carelessness of the church, the Queen’s chaplain has since resigned his position under heat of his “controversial” critique.
What Love Is…and Isn’t
We live in a world of many faiths, but as I talked about this news story to my kids, it struck me how important it is for me to train them to think rightly about religious diversity and interfaith dialogue.
The main points I wanted me kids to grasp were these:
Respect the importance of dialogue.
But do not respect falsehood.
It is easy to show animosity towards people who don’t agree with us, but Christ calls us to love our neighbor, even our enemy.
And what is love? The apostle Paul defines it for us in his famous letter to the Corinthians: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
This gives us a well-rounded picture of love…
- Respect people and respect the need for dialogue: Loving our neighbor means we should never think ourselves better than our neighbor, which means we should listen to them and converse with them in Christ-like kindness.
- But do not respect falsehood: Loving our neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them: love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” We do our neighbor no favors by coddling them in the lies they believe.
Unfortunately our culture has accepted the strange notion that disagreeing with someone’s beliefs means you must hate them or fear them. Our culture also thinks the best way to show love to someone is agreeing with them.
Our kids need to understand this is total foolishness.