Christian Missionaries and Islamic Fundamentalists, one in the same?

Yes, would be the answer given by some. It’s been communicated to me personally in statements similar to this one:  “oh those brutish missionaries oppressing the natives and cramming their religion down their throats…” I have a nagging suspicion that people who make these kind of statements have never spoken to a missionary.

Ken Connor wrote a column, “Fools for Christ’s Sake”, in which he discusses the plight of the Korean missionaries who went to Afghanistan to “give humanitarian aid and to preach the Gospel”. Twenty-three of their number were abducted by members of the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group, and after the Taliban killed two missionaries, the remainder twenty-one are currently being held hostage.

In the column, Connor makes the following point,

The impulse which animates these Christian missionaries to put their lives at risk is very different from that which animates the Islamic fundamentalists who are their captors. While Christ told his followers to love their enemies and to do good to their persecutors, radical Islamists see the infidel as an enemy to be destroyed. Their form of the “Great Commission” is the killing or conversion by the sword of all unbelievers. Their goal is only met in a worldwide Islamic state, where any who differ deserve death. The difference between Christianity and radical Islam could not be drawn into sharper contrast than in the current hostage situation.

I could not agree more.

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26 Responses to Christian Missionaries and Islamic Fundamentalists, one in the same?

  1. indignus says:

    Perhaps one could blame, for the anti-missionary view, the heavily Europeanist–and, in our day, Americanist–policy of evangelists over the past centuries: They’ve too often thought that one can’t be Christian (whatever the variety) unless one also adopts the culture of the missionaries themselves. That said, I would have to agree that, in a larger sense, the Islamists and believing Christians have one fundamentally thing in common: They both think that the focus and standard of individual and social life should be God, and not the nation or the “people” or democracy. This, at least, provides a basis for dialogue between Christianity and Islam.

  2. I agree as well. And nobody has to accept the gospel if approached by a Christian missionary, so I wouldn’t call it cramming down their throats. Just one way that non-Christians try to look more enlightened than Christians… all the while trying to cram evolution and their forms of morality down everybody else’s throats.

  3. Kimita says:

    Indignus:

    I find your statement re: missionaries/evangelists thinking that others “can’t be Christian…unless one also adopts the culture of missionaries” interesting, yet not fully accurate, after reading several chapters in an autobiography about Amy Carmichael, a missionary to Japan and finally to India in the early 1900s where she lived among Hindus and Muslims. She not only adopted the culture and language of the Indians (Asia-India), but she also wanted to live like them and stay in tents as the poorer classes did.

    She dressed like them, wearing the traditional sari, but drew the line at adding oil to her hair (must’ve been a preference.) However, hundreds upon hundreds of young Indian girls came to Christ because of her and then brought their family members to Christ. She provided a refuge for the girls who were destined to become young prostitutes. The book says that one young girl even begged her own uncle to let her younger sister come to Christ but he refused.

    Now, I can’t speak for all missionaries, and this book actually depicts some missionaries that cared very little for sharing the Gospel. But based on Amy Carmichael’s life and testimony, I would say that the work of Christian missionaries is based on their love of Christ and denial of self to brave extreme and uncomfortable circumstances for the salvation of many, not seeking those unbelievers to conform to their own cultures. And in my opinion, this work could never compare to the ruthless acts of violence committed by Islamic fundamentalists.

  4. Dennis says:

    “Wiley S. Drake, a Buena Park pastor and a former national leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, called on his followers to pray for the deaths of two leaders of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Drake said Wednesday he was “simply doing what God told me to do” by targeting Americans United officials Joe Conn and Jeremy Leaming, whom he calls the “enemies of God.” (LA Times 8-16-7)

  5. Laz says:

    Dennis,
    Do you believe anyone who says, “God told me to ____”? Or only when it might satisfy your presuppositions?

    Even if this man wrongly encouraged his “followers” (by the way, Christians follow Christ not a pastor) to do this, is this the same thing as telling them to kill these individuals?

  6. I am as worried these days by the nutbag christian extremist hypocrite gay haters as I am that one of those nutbag islamic extremist America haters might carbomb my house. Lots of em are in Texas – plenty of room for the loonies, liars, SBC fools, and the End Times nutty moopig from SanAntonio

  7. Laz says:

    Exp,
    Thank you for your comment. You are entitled to your opinion, however misinformed and ignorant it might be.

  8. Dennis says:

    Laz – lot’s of people believe that the man they call preacher speaks for God. One would have to parse his words awfully carefully not to find an intent that the subjects of these prayers should die. I’d be more relieved if I heard some of the big name preachers, Olsteen, Kennedy, Graham, et al condemning the words of this man. But I hear silence. Personally, I fear the fanatics and thugs of the Christian Right far more than I do Islamic militants. Both intend to convert me and run my government and my life by their rules, but the Christians are far more likely to win.

  9. Laz says:

    Dennis,
    While I understand your concern regarding folks who blindly follow a human being without nary a thought to what God has revealed in Scripture, you must concede that this is the small minority and that this small minority has not committed any acts of violence. If you think there have been such acts, please feel free to provide specific examples.

    Yes, Drake might wish for these “enemies” of his to die and might even pray for their deaths, but you must admit that this is far different than telling his “followers” from strapping themselves with explosives and going after these 2 folks.

    Admittedly, I find Pastor (I use the word loosely) Drake’s alleged actions hard to reconcile with the following,

    You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’

    But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

    so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. –Matthew 5:43-45

    Dennis, if it gives you peace of mind, based on what Jesus said here, it is justifiable to condemn the actions of Drake (if indeed what is alleged is true).

    I think it ironic that you call on these ‘big-name preachers’ to condemn this Drake, yet when they (well certainly not Osteen or Graham) do this in response to the degeneration of our society they are condemned for speaking out and ridiculed for not being with the times. As if suddenly “don’t judge” is forgotten and set aside for the sake of judging followers of Christ.

    No Dennis, the Christians are not “far more likely to win”. Christ will return and He will win and rule and every person will bow to Him. Of course, it’s been 2000 years, He’s never coming back, but

    The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9

    I got good news for you Dennis, do you realize that it is impossible for a human being (Christian or not) to convert you? There might be Christians who think otherwise but they misunderstand Scripture. The Holy Spirit converts people, I can personally attest to that (my experience does not make this true but it does verify what Scripture teaches). Yes people shared their faith with me but it was not them who turned my heart from sin into salvation through Jesus Christ.

    As for fearing the ‘fanatics and thugs of the Christian Right’ more, well it depends who you refer to. Since I’m not sure who you refer to I cannot really say much in this respect. But I can say this: don’t fear people, fear God who holds your life in His hands and has the power to take it at any given moment. If you don’t believe that, it doesn’t change reality one bit.

    Thanks for the discussion. By the way Dennis who do you say Jesus is?

  10. Dennis says:

    Lax – good question. I say Jesus was an ordinary man who lived in a time when prophets and “the messiah” were much sought after. Read the history of his time. Many held claim to the titles. What possible proof is there that he was anything more, other than words written by man, sometimes many years after the events they purport to describe? I assume you are aware of the manner in which certain books of the Bible were selected and judged to be holy and which other ancient writings were left out. The reality,hard as it may be for many to accept, is that Jesus is no more the son of God than am I or you or anyone else. Christianity, indeed all religion, is based on myth, allegory, superstition and mystical practices that are entirely man-made and contrived. Believe it as you wish. But “the truth” you are certain you possess is no more valid than the beliefs I hold or those of any other person who has ever walked on this earth.

  11. Laz says:

    Dennis,
    Do you believe in God?

  12. Bill says:

    Anyone who compares christian to islamic militants, is way to stupid to converse with. Homosexuals will pray for the day when all they had to fear was someone calling them queer, if islam takes over.

  13. Dennis says:

    Laz – isn’t it obvious? I have no idea whether a god exists or not. Neither do you.

    And to Bill, please learn a little about English language composition before you call others “to stupid”. Islamists will not take over, but Christian bigots are banging on the door.

  14. Laz says:

    Dennis,
    Well yes, it’s obvious that God exists. I didn’t ask you what you know or didn’t know, I asked you if you believe He exists?

  15. Bill says:

    Liz to quote a famous man, “there you go again”, if you cant’t stand the truth, destroy the messenger. Do you not listen to these people? You are so wrapped up in your hatred of christianity you can’t hear the truth.

  16. Dennis says:

    Laz – O f course, I should have answered your question more precisely. No, I do not believe a God exists. But I do not know for sure one way or the other, just as you do not. You of course do believe. That is why we have religious “faiths”, not religious facts.

    And contrary to your assertion, it is not at all obvious that God exists. No actual evidence supports your statement, other than words written thousands of years ago. I choose to accept that they are only words, written by man, and proving nothing. They are the words written by man to recount events based on their understanding at the time, nothing more. And my view is just as legitimate and as close to “the truth” as yours.

  17. Dennis says:

    Laz and others who may take offense at my words, please allow me to explain. I bear no ill will nor hatred of religious folk, believe as you like. It really matters not at all to me. Just please don’t demand that others accept your views as the only version of “the truth”. There is, in my view, no such thing as revealed truth.

    Here is the basis for my disbelief, as simply as I can spell it out: Earth is but an insignificant spot in a huge universe, a universe which we now know is filled with other galaxies and solar systems and planets capable of supporting life forms. What manner of logic and reason would suggest that the “truth” about the creation or about a creator would be imparted to isolated, poorly educated, superstitious tribes that existed several millions years after the universe was created? If a god had reason to tell of his existence, wouldn’t he have logically done so at a time and place such that his methods and his reasoning would be perfectly clear? Of all of the millions of places on which life probably exists in our universe, why should I accept the writings of those scribes selected to be in the Bible (and it was indeed a selection process, done by Catholic men) as evidence of any sort of truth?

    I accept the value and beauty of these words and hope to live my life by them as well as by the words of other faiths having similar meaning. But they have meaning, not truth and not divinity. They prove nothing, and certainly do not prove the existence of a god.

  18. Laz says:

    Dennis,
    Thank you for the clarification: So would it be fair to call your faith, “religious”? After all, “religion” is defined as,

    A set of beliefs concerning the nature and purpose of the universe

    It is obvious that God exists, at least from creation (though there are other “evidences”). Of course, if your assumption is that He does not exist, you shall never see His hand in creation. You will NEVER see what the Apostle desribes,

    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    Moving on, I didn’t expect you to bear ill will towards ‘religious folk’ considering that you are also ‘religious’. You wouldn’t bear ill will towards yourself now would you?

    I do not expect others to accept “my views”. For starters this isn’t my view, for I did not invent it from within my own mind. The Truth exists apart from us, though to be sure I have found through my experience that the Bible is true. I don’t expect anything from anyone, who am I but a creature? I didn’t create anyone, so therefore I am not the one you must answer to.

    Dennis, here’s the somewhat ironic part about your basis for disbelief. Your basis for disbelief appears to be based on the vastness of the universe and the smallness of planet Earth and its inhabitants.

    This begs the following question: If from the vastness of the universe and the smallness of the Earth you diagnose that Christianity is false you ought to have a clear idea of the sort of universe you should have expected if it were true, but do you?

    You conjure up logic as well as reason, fine and good. We all use them daily and useful things they are. Indeed, unless human reasoning is valid, no science can be true. Where did these come from, logic and reason?

    If there is a God (not bound by time, as Christianity asserts) and we are trapped by time, what makes us say that “well, we wouldn’t have done it this or that way…”?

    Whether or not there is life elsewhere or not, I can’t say and well neither can you. Any statement made to asserting it or negating is an article of faith. But let it be clear that the vastness of the universe/our insignificance is used against Christianity. Also used as an argument is the belief that if there are millions of sentient beings out there why would God be interested in us? Again, “that’s not the way I would have done it”. Is that really a basis for unbelief?

    Dennis you don’t have to accept any writings from anyone. Notice that you are under no compulsion to do so.

    Now, why in the world do you accept “the value and beauty of these words”? Whatever for?

    The funny thing about ‘meaning’ is that if there isn’t a God as you seem to BELIEVE, how can there be meaning? Meaning from what? Unguided, blind processes, that despite what some might say, are not actually unguided, when in fact they are?

    I think JBS Haldane was the one who said,

    If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.

    There can be no meaning in a world where Nature is that all that exists (as you seem to believe, based on your own words). This is why atheism (or even naturalism) is too simple.

    As CS Lewis puts it,

    If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.

  19. Dennis says:

    Laz – I can’t convince you and certainly don’t hope to or need to. Millions upon millions of words have been written in ages past about God and various religious faiths, and millions more will be written in years to come. None of them are accurate of course, for no human has the means to know what God is or wants. Every single word is an invention of the human mind. And neither you nor I will make an impact on what others choose to accept as truth. For me, my beliefs are what they are. I don’t need approval or sanction from you or anyone else. I’m actually a member of a Unitarian-Universalist church, the closest thing I have found to an organized “faith” I can support. Plenty of atheists, agnostics, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and believers of all stripes can be found there. We find meaning, yes meaning, in the words of many faiths, accepting that all have value in our lives. But neither you nor I will ever know “the truth”, so let’s leave it at that. I will die a non-believer, and fully expect to be as completely dead as you and every other species that has ever lived when our lives come to an end.

  20. Dennis says:

    One last point, Laz. You write “I do not expect others to accept “my views”.

    Then stop trying to make a convincing argument by referencing the writings of others. I don’t care what C.S. Lewis wrote, or JBS Haldane, or any of the authors of the selected texts that somehow made it into the can we now know as the Bible. As I have said, each of these writers was a human, expounding on what they believed to be the truth, but each as far removed from it as you or I. They are all just words, some beautiful and meaningful, as I said, but not “the truth”.

    30

  21. Laz says:

    Well said Dennis, evasive as always but well said.

    What you have just done is actually verified what Paul wrote to the Corinthians here,

    The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    You are still a natural man (as I was pre-conversion) and as is the case with most conversations I have had with people (including some who are members of your “church”) in your situation, it boils down to the truth that I nor any human will convince another of anything (as I stated before).

    What will have to occur (if it happens, and I pray that it does) to convince you of the Truth that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate who died to redeem you from the spiritual deadness we are all born into is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

    A hardened heart like yours (and mine 4 years ago) will never see it because you remain in opposition, I mean no insult, just stating fact. I didn’t see it before the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and regenerated the walking corpse that I was.

    May God grant you this saving faith that you may come to know Him and rejoice in what He has done for this fallen world through His Son Jesus Christ.

    Good day

    P.S. Make sure you avoid writers like that troublesome Lewis because they might force you to see things in ways you never thought before. By all means, stay away from him if you prefer a closed mind

  22. Laz says:

    Bill,
    It’s Laz not Liz…

    I know Dennis here cannot stand the truth. How can he when Jesus said that “Everyone on the side of truth listens” to Him (John 18:37) and well Dennis, by his own admission, does not heed Jesus’ words.

    The reason of course, is what I stated in the last comment directed at him.

    I do listen to “these people” for I was once as lost as Dennis is. While some took the trouble to share the Gospel with me, it was not their actions that regenerated (born-again) me, it was the Holy Spirit who did so. Contrary to popular opinion, to be “born-again” is a description of the Spirit’s work in the unbeliever not a particular voting block.

    Bill, we must share the truth with unbelievers, if they reject it, well we as servants of the Living God have done our duty as His servants. However, we must not stop praying for them for we were at one point in our lives, amongst their ranks. It is only by God’s grace that we our old selves were put to death and given new life. Surely you must understand this.

    I wouldn’t say that Dennis hates Christianity so much as he hates Christ, I hope you can discern the difference. Man, in his natural state, resists the things of God, and why not? They are spiritually appraised only by those whose eyes have been opened. Many people prayed, Bill, that God would illuminate my heart, soul, and mind and well He did.

  23. Dennis says:

    I’ll just finish this by one last comment. I was raised in the Methodist church. I actually considered becoming a minister, before I spent a considerable amount of time contemplating what I actually believed.

    Laz, you obviously know nothing about me, but feel free to judge my “hard heart”. If you people could just bottle up and sell off that excess sanctimony and arrogant self-righteousness, you could probably retire to Colorado Springs or wherever it is you people go. Thank you for reminding me why I left the faith of my youth. I never made a better decision in my life.

  24. Hi, everyone. Came across this discussion today, and found it interesting.

    Dennis, I just wanted to say that – not knowing you in any way – it seems to me that you are a very sincere and authentic person. There have been times in my journey of faith when I have not been so sincere and authentic. I have had to learn the hard way that sincerity and authenticity in my own beliefs is more important than anything else.

    It seems to me that you’ve arrived at your sincere, authentic beliefs in the same way that I arrived at mine; through spending “a considerable amount of time contemplating what I actually believed,” as you share that you have.

    I believe in Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, Dennis. But I want you to know that it has become desperately important to me to share my life with others as well as my faith. I guess I have come to believe that if whatever is in me is sincere and authentic, including my faith, then that will become apparent to me and others as we share our lives.

    Problem is, the Internet is a pretty difficult place to do that. And so sometimes you and I and others, too, probably, as people who are generally well-intentioned, sincere and authentic, end up becoming a caricature of our respective and opposing beliefs instead of real flesh-and-blood people who ultimately have quite a but in common as human beings. It’s too bad, because I bet that if you and I and maybe some of the other folks here were next-door neighbors we could have some great friendly talks about what we each believed and learn from one another.

    For me, I just want to apologize in advance if anything I’ve shared here seems presumptuous and negative in any way. Over the course of my life, I have been hurt by people who were professing Christians, and I have hurt other people as a professing Christian. Don’t want to do that anymore, Dennis.

    Whatever Truth is, Dennis, I hope that we all find it and, preferably, that we all find it together in love.

    A Friend at Nameless, Faceless Love

  25. Laz says:

    Dennis,
    I apologize if I gave the impression of “judging” you. This is not my intent and I hope you understand that you are doing the very thing you accuse me of doing, “judging”.

    Human kind is fallen, this is explained in the Book of Genesis as I’m sure you are aware of. Not just human kind but nature as well, this according to Genesis and the Apostle Paul who elaborates more on the consequences of the Fall in the Book of Romans. Pick up today’s Houston Chronicle and please tell me otherwise. You might not accept what the author of Genesis or Paul were inspired to write (much less if they were inspired to begin with) but what you or I accept has little bearing on Reality.

    The consequences of the Fall of Man are still with us to this day (again, read the newspaper). The main consequence was death as Genesis makes clear. Not just physical death but spiritual death. Man is born a slave to sin, separated from God, and thus faces God’s Righteous Justice (once again this might be revolting to you or me, but our own personal feelings don’t change Reality).

    Your visceral reaction to Truth only emphasizes what Paul said regarding the “natural man” as one who is unable to accept the things of God. As he says,

    For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    It is foolishness to you as it was to me prior to 2003.

    Dennis, you also don’t have to believe that Jesus was sent by God to restore, redeem mankind from the ‘hole’ we find ourselves in, a ‘hole’ of our own making. He paid the price for us, as you might have heard in your Methodist tradition. He satisfied God’s justice, which His righteousness demands as it is us who broke/break His Law.

    Again, your incredulity (and mine before 2003) and perhaps “moral” outrage at all this not only reinforces what Paul says but also has little bearing on Reality.

    All this to say, Dennis, when I say your heart is hardened, I mean that you reject Christ, I am stating fact not making a judgment. I do not judge you when I say that, God will judge you however if you persist in this unbelief. It is His rightful place to judge for He alone can see into our hearts.

    What being raised in a particular Christian tradition has to do with anything I do not know, I was raised Catholic, so what? No one is born Christian, which is why Christ says we must be born again, because we are born in a state of sin. I believe the Catholics as well as Methodists baptize their infants for this reason.

    What you perceive as arrogance (which by the way shows that you are not immune to “judging”) is only warning. You would not condemn a doctor for telling you that the only cure for your cancer is to undergo painful chemotherapy, especially if the doctor has been through such a treatment himself.

    Like you, I rejected the faith of my upbringing. Let it be said that we both made choices to do that, it had nothing to do with others.

    Thank you for reminding me why I left the faith of my youth. I never made a better decision in my life.

    Dumping off our choices on others is a cop-out. We left because we chose to, not because of others.

    I do not have to know your life story to tell you that you reject Christ’s sacrifice, your own words bear this out.

    While our lives might see different, the predicament you’re in (again you don’t have realize this fact) and the one I was in is the same: you are and I was dead men walking. Spiritually dead to God, it is no surprise that you don’t accept the things of God, I didn’t when I was still mired in unbelief.

    It took a supernatural intervention by the Holy Spirit of God for me to understand the depths of the my depravity and thus the depravity of fallen humanity.

    It is impossible for people who can see to explain what seeing is like to a man born blind.

    We are all born blind and we cannot understand the things of God until He supernaturally grants us “vision”, this is granted not on merit but according to His Divine Will. No human being can do this, all we can do is pray for you and others like you that God may grant this to you.

    Thank you for further clarifying and verifying (through your reaction) my fallen state prior to being born again. I also thank you for making truly appreciate what God has done in my life, and being more thankful to Him for His Mercy.

    Good Day.

  26. Bill says:

    I am sorry about getting your name wrong Laz. Based on your coments of christianity and your comparison to Islam, I was unaware that you were a christian. We sit arount having deep philsophical discussions about whether god or Jesus existed, while they are slowly taking over our schools and imposing their beliefs on us and our children.

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