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!”

SOFT TARGETS: The Orlando Massacre

 

“Trapp in bathroom … he coming … I’m gonna die.”

Those final texts from Eddie Justice to his mom moments before he was killed early Sunday morning will forever define the Orlando Massacre, the Islamic terrorist attack on the gay nightclub, PULSE.

At least they will for me. My heart broke when I read them.

Two thoughts flashed through my mind when I first read Eddie’s words amid the breaking news of the shooting: Islam again! And, Soft target!

They were quickly followed by, what on earth were all those people doing in such a crowded, unsecured, place with few exits, drinking, dancing and partying? Were none of them armed? Did they not know this was the eve of Ramadan? Are they unaware of the threat environment in which we all live? PULSE could just as easily have been FCC, or any church in the nation. Jihadists hate Christians as much as they hate gays. It could also have been a veteran’s parade, a Memorial Day service, any soft target that represents the full freedoms of America.

Some may think I’m blaming the victims for thinking this way. It’s true; my dad taught me long ago that nothing good happens in a bar after midnight, and I’ve never regretted heeding that advice. But hear me out.

I’ve learned not to trust my initial thoughts on something like Orlando until more reports come out, but having now reviewed them, I think I was right. The shooter clearly linked himself to Islamic Jihad during his crime, and PULSE, even though it had an armed off-duty police officer who tried to intervene, was definitely a soft target.

Of course, those are just the basics. There’s much more to it, like the shooter’s earlier visits to the bar, his alleged attempts to pick-up gay men, his trips to Saudi Arabia, two prior FBI investigations into his activities that drew a blank, and the list goes on.

Related issues include gun control, the theological foundations of Islamic terror, and the biblical understanding of the use of force. I’ve written extensively about these things and will provide the links below.

But for now I think Americans of all stripes need to do three things.

First, we need to reach out in love and service to the gay community. They are really hurting and they need to be reassured that all Americans, including and especially evangelical Christians, hurt with them. Scripture says to overcome evil with good. Chic-Fil-A has led the way by breaking their famous “closed on Sunday,” policy in Orlando to serve the wounded and their care-givers. We need to match it.

Second, we need to keep our government official’s feet to the fire about the politically correct institutional, administrative, and investigative limits that have been imposed on the FBI and other Federal law enforcement entities that prevent them from following up on legitimate leads in order to avoid so-called discrimination against Islamic Americans. The Obama Administration bears principle responsibility for hog-tying law enforcement in this area. I don’t fault Mr. Obama for following his principles, but he needs to realize when he’s wrong.

Finally, all of us need to tell ourselves the truth about the nature of the Jihadist, and other violent threats, on soft targets. This danger pre-dates 9-11, has ramped up since then, and will not go away simply by wishing it were not so. How we choose to prepare for that threat is up to each individual and institution, but until the threat environment changes we need to be prepared to meet it, or else to stay out of soft targets.

Links to other articles:

ISIS IN PARIS -https://daneskelton.com/category/islam/

STOP THE SHOOTINGS (thoughts on gun control)  – https://daneskelton.com/category/guns/

RESISTING EVIL IN A VIOLENT WORLD – http://www.fccsobo.org/rwt-blog-39101