Thoughts on An Interfaith Dialogue

Posted on: 2010-08-20 21:42:11

I wanted to expand on a comment I made and get some feedback regarding a video on Vimeo entitled "An Interfaith Dialog": The whole video is worth watching, but the part I'm really talking about is from 16:05 to 17:34. Here is a transcript of that section:

bq. When she was a student at Carlton College in Minnesota, there was a mosque that was burned down in an arson attack in Minneapolis. And she was taught in her Evangelical Christian tradition you help your neighbor. It's basic. You love your neighbor. You love your neighbor. So the Imam of that mosque said, "Will you help us rebuild?" Will you help us rebuild? [She] said "yes." I want to love my neighbor. And there were people in her Christian group that said, "How can you help these devil worshippers? How can you help these people who worship the wrong thing?" [She] said, "I disagree with their worship, but they are my neighbor. I want to help them." Kicked her out of the Christian group. And [she] had a choice. "Am I going to be a Christian the way that some of these people view Christianity? In a way where I secretly applaud the burning down of a mosque? Or am I going to follow that ethic in my heart that says 'Help your neighbor?'"

After listening to Eboo's thoughts, the story about the young Christian woman who was ostracized from her church stuck with me. My initial reaction was to feel sorry for her. But after considering this story, and re-reading the "Parable of the Good Samaritan":;&version=NIV I feel there is an aspect of this conversation missing. And this anecdote provides a good basis to relate how I feel.

First, I know very little about the "Jesus Ethic." From the context and meaning of the words, I would guess that it means something to the effect of... the moral and ethical teachings of Christ devoid of soul-saving faith in Him. If this is incorrect or incomplete, please let me know! But running with this, it would seem that Eboo puts much weight in works, but we need faith: "“And without faith it is impossible to please God”": If that is the case, then it makes his message very weak. But I digress.

"Love thy neighbors as yourself" is Jesus's greatest commandment. It was a command in the old testament. It is also important to know that "our chief end is to glorify God": We do that by following in Jesus' foot steps. This is where the "Jesus Ethic" seems to come in.

Okay, so let's break it down:

Neighbor's ProblemJesus Ethic says HelpBible says Help
Neighbor when he gets burned.YesYes
Neighbor's house gets burned down.YesYes
Neighbor's place of worship where a god besides the triune God of the bible is worshipped burns downYes*???*

While the act of helping to rebuild a mosque is definitely loving your neighbors, I don't think that it glorifies Jesus. It is one thing to achieve a common purpose which glorifies God with others from disparate (or even disagreeing faiths). It is another to commend a Christian rebuilding a mosque. Aren't mosques places of worship for Allah? The god of Islam and the god of Christianity are two different Gods. They must be since Jesus was \"the way, the truth, and the light\" and Muslims don't follow Christ. It would follow that she was essentially helping to rebuild a temple to a false God. That, in my mind, is pretty good grounds for making someone leave your church.

To respond, I would ask another question, "If your friend didn't know Christ, and he/she was addicted to drugs.. and let's say that they are a nice person, too. If that person's stash disappeared... would you help them buy some more to replace it with?" Call my crazy, but I think that is a fair analogy. To help someone get something back which the desire, but draws them further from the truth of Jesus Christ is to say, in essence, that it is okay for them to go to hell. There is no Universalism.

One last thought: there is a great difference between, say, helping a person of any color or creed on a personal level and helping a group that follows a different creed. We must love our brothers and sisters... But worshipping Allah/Mohammed, to me, is a sin. Love the sinner, hate the sin. It is cliche, but that is the point: Love the individual, not the religion. Rebuilding a temple of worship is not loving an individual, it's loving another religion.

I applaud Eboo's generosity and his openness to discuss these things. As a Muslim, it seems as though there are not enough of them that want to have dialogue. However, I get the feeling that he is talking about some sort of inclusive unitarianism. I mean no disrespect to Eboo, but I think his liberal Islam would give him a firm foundation for being a Christian. He understands what it means to give glory to God (and lots of Chrisitians have a problem with this, including me.) But ultimately, all of the good works will amount to nothing unless each and every one of us pick up our cross and follow Jesus Christ!