THE BIBLE, THE KORAN, AND CULTURE

“Did Rick Warren say that Christians and Muslims worship the same god?”

My friend’s question over breakfast last week caught me off guard. “I doubt it,” I said, “but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that someone had misinterpreted something Rick said.”

I was right and you can read more about that at ChristianExaminer.com / did-Rick-Warren-convert-to-islam-no-no-and-no, by Gregory Tomlin. But the question reminded me how often people conflate the two religions.

This came home to me forcefully one day as I was explaining the differences between Christianity and Islam to two friends when one said, “Hey, one religion is as good as another. The Bible and the Koran are essentially the same kind of book.”

The truth is very different. Christianity and Islam are entirely different religions and the Bible and the Koran are completely different books. But imagine that you are sitting with a friend and the topic comes up. Would you be able to offer, in simple language, what distinguishes these two books and the two religions they represent?

No? Let me help you.

The Authorship is Different

The Koran was dictated by an illiterate man over the course of twenty-three years who claimed that he was hearing the voice of an angel.

The Bible was written by dozens of men over more than a thousand years who claimed to be moved by the Spirit of God to write. Some were scholars, some poets, some kings, some shepherds, some were priests, and some were prophets. Yet all had a uniform message: That God would save his people from their sins.

The Bible is thus connected to thousands of years of human history. The Koran is connected to three decades in the 7th Century. Muhammad believed that he was reciting a book that already existed in heaven. It is like an assortment of instructions and advice not specifically tied to any historical event. The Bible, through all of its authors, tells one story of God’s work over time through actual historical events, most of which have been validated by research.

But most importantly for us, the impact of the two books is different.

The Impact is Different

In 2006 England arrested 24 suspects in a plot to blow up ten U.S.-bound passenger jets with liquid explosives. In 2007 German authorities broke up a “massive” bombing plot against American interests in Germany. And of course, no one will forget the Fort Hood murderer, the would-be Times Square bomber, the Boston bombers, Charlie Hebdo, Paris, San Bernadino, or Orlando. All of these actions were perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam.

Not everyone who reads the Koran ends up being a terrorist. But that’s not the issue. Why would anyone – why do so many who read it – end up believing that Allah authorizes terrorism and murder?

I’m a conservative, evangelical Bible teacher. That means I believe the Bible is God’s word and that it is my authority for faith and practice. It also means that I’m very careful about interpreting it. I use the historical, grammatical, critical method of interpretation. I’m looking for historical context – who was the author? When did he write? To whom was he writing? What did he actually say (vocabulary, grammar, structure)? What did it mean to the original readers? How does that meaning apply in our cultural context?

Because of what the Bible teaches people from our church and many others participate in: Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse, The Good Samaritan, disaster recovery, crisis pregnancy centers, GriefShare, and countless other acts of love and service.

That’s the impact of the Bible, properly interpreted and taught, in our culture. Why does the Koran not have the same affect? I’ll let my friend Samer, a former Sunni radical and now a Christian missionary to the Islamic world, conclude.

“As Christians we must be very emphatic that Christians have and continue to do many shameful things in the name of Christ, but the issue is this: Christians who use violence in the name of God to destroy their enemies have no justification for their actions from Jesus Christ, his life and teachings as found in the New Testament. Whereas, Muslims who are engaged in violence and destruction of anyone who opposes Islam, have ample justification for their actions from the Qur’an (using the Historical /Grammatical /Critical approach to interpretation) and the life and sayings of prophet Muhammad (the Hadith).”

“It is beyond doubt that the prophet of Islam did encourage the killing and intimidation of his enemies, not just in self defense as it is commonly reported by Muslims, but in the promotion of the cause of Allah and the spread of Islam.”

“Needless to say, the actions of the prophet were in direct contradiction to the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ and his disciples. So the point is not that Christians have never resorted to violence and other horrible atrocities. They have indeed committed many horrible acts, but when they have done this, they have betrayed the very person that they claim to follow. But when Muslims commit such acts, they can in fact claim that they are following the example of their prophet and thus fulfilling the will of God and promoting His cause. That, certainly, is a big difference!”

WILL WE BELIEVE THEM NOW?

No one should be shocked by Paris.

Nothing has changed and no one should be shocked by what took place in France last Friday, least of all our national leaders. The catalogue of catastrophe caused by Islamists is long and only recently includes Paris, Charlie Hebdo, Beirut, Lebanon, and the Russian airliner downed in Sinai. While our hearts go out to our oldest allies we need to get our heads in the game. Perhaps now we will. Perhaps.

As K. T. MacFarland, who served in national security posts under the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations recently wrote, “It is slowly dawning on the West that radical Islam is the existential threat of our times, as fascism was in World War II, as communism was in the Cold War. We can’t cooperate with it, we can’t convert it and we can’t contain it. We must defeat it.”

Like the Nazis and Communists before them, the Islamo-fascists of ISIS, Al Quaeda, Boko Haram, and all of the other iterations of Salafist-Sunni, and radical Shia have been and continue to be quite clear about their philosophy, their goals and their methods. They want nothing less than world domination, where everyone bows to Allah and lives according to Sharia, and they will commit mass murder, including mass murder against other Muslims, to achieve it.

Will we believe them now?

The problem for Western leaders, President Obama in particular, is that we cannot fight what we will not name. The president has resolutely refused to acknowledge, much less speak to the theological core that motivates these murderers. As my friend, former Muslim, and Islamic scholar Samer recently told me, “ISIS cannot be defeated by airstrikes. You could thin down their leadership but you will never kill their zeal and persistence. Solving this issue can not be solved by military action alone but by recognizing that there is something inherently wrong with Islam.” (For more on that see my post on the Charlie Hebdo massacre from January of this year at: https://daneskelton.com/2015/01/08/charlie-hebdo-and-the-keepers-of-quranic-islam/)

In other words, “It’s the theology, stupid.” Because the predominant western theology, which amounts to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, is so thin and our commitment to God is so shallow we are shocked by people willing to sacrifice their lives as an act of worship in the slaughtering of innocents. We shouldn’t be.

The Islam preached and practiced by the perpetrators of these atrocities is the same land-grabbing, nation-swallowing political Islam that precipitated the Crusades. MacFarland presents a ten-point plan that would marshal the powers of Western Civilization to destroy it and I hope it receives serious consideration by our leaders. Of her recommendations one of the most important is stifling the ideology by stopping the cash flow that supports it. It is long past time to play hard-ball with the wealthy Saudis and other so-called Middle Eastern “allies” who continue to fund the Imams and mosques that preach this stuff. And take note: Syrian refugees aren’t all we need to be thinking about. Some of those mosques are here in the U.S. Further, the Council on American Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) is simply a front group for the spread of the same theology.

You might be wondering, “What can we do about all this?” Here’s what our church does. We support our friend Samer, whose work with Muslim seekers and Muslim Background Believers, and equipping churches like ours to understand the threat has a global reach. We also support the work of Wycliffe Associates which enables courageous leaders in some of the most dangerous parts of the world to accelerate the translation of the Bible into the languages of the Islamic world. Finally, we support Samaritan’s Purse, which provides emergency relief work in many of these same areas, as well as the phenomenal outreach known as Operation Christmas Child. In these and other ways we seek to supplant the darkness of Islam in the heart of the Middle East with the light of Christ. I hope you will continue to pray for and take part in those efforts.

No one should be shocked by what happened in France last week and until our leaders wake up and get serious about shutting down the theology of jihad we should expect and prepare for more of the same.