CIMG0138On the day when bullets flew and bombs detonated in Paris, plunging the City of Light into darkness, I was visiting the most populous Muslim nation in the world.  First in Indonesia, and then in Malaysia and Hong Kong while on a publisher-sponsored speaking tour, I heard breaking news in snatches only if the hotel carried CNN or BBC in English.

Restaurant attack ParisI felt oddly distant from the mood that must have descended like a shroud of fear over the U.S. and other Western countries.  I flashed back to the somber days following September 11, 2001.  I searched the Internet for the precise sites of the atrocities in Paris: on my travels to that splendid city, had I visited that restaurant, that stadium, that concert hall?  I help support a missionary couple who have planted two churches, and reside as the only non-Muslims in an apartment building in a Parisian suburb—what must they be feeling at such a time?

Though I received email requests to write an immediate response to the events, while keeping a busy schedule in a foreign culture half a world away, I felt ill-equipped.  Only later did I gain some perspective, in part by reflecting on a lecture I had heard from J. Dudley Woodberry, a specialist in Islam at Fuller Theological Seminary.  Is the Muslim my enemy or my brother? Woodberry asked.  His answer: both.

EgyptIslamic extremists in ISIS and Al Qaeda relish the label of enemy.  After the recent attacks against Russia and France, and the execution of hostages from Norway and China, nations around the world face a universal threat.  In a reprise of previous centuries when Muslims surrounded Europe, some extremists today plot a global conquest.  They kill and maim civilians in London, Paris, and New York; torture and decapitate Christians in Libya and Iraq; burn churches in Egypt; persecute Jesus-followers in places like Iran, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Yet, as Woodberry reminded his audience, Muslims are also our brothers.  When I spoke at a church in Hong Kong, a Muslim imam attended, and each time he approached me afterwards with words of appreciation.  Muslims share many values with Christians, such as a disciplined life and an emphasis on charity and care for the poor.  They accept much of the Christian Bible as a sacred text—though they look to the Koran as a more complete, final revelation.  Muslims use the Psalms as a prayer book.  And the Koran includes ninety-three references to Jesus, presenting him as a prophet second only to Muhammad, a Messiah who will return someday to restore justice on earth.

I have met people in the restrictive Islamic societies of the Middle East who remain culturally Muslim yet follow Jesus.  In those countries conversion from Islam is illegal, and brings swift retribution—banishment and possibly death—from the convert’s family.  So the new Christian does not, for example, change his name from Muhammad to Peter, and he continues to pray five times a day and even attend mosque, where he privately worships Jesus the Messiah.

Almost all Muslims have the goal of winning the world for their faith, though only the more extreme groups, like ISIS, resort to violent means.  (Let’s admit that Christians have a similar goal.  We, too, represent a conversionist faith, and many ministries strive to “win the world for Christ.”)  I must say, blowing up people and what they cherish is a most perverted form of evangelism, far more likely to turn people away from Islam.  A decade ago the lower castes in India had considered converting en masse to Islam until the Taliban famously demolished the Afghan World Heritage Site statues of the Buddha, a revered figure to Indians.

crusadersAt various times Christians also have used coercion.  Charlemagne ordered a death penalty for Saxons who would not convert, and in 1492 Spain decreed that all Jews convert to Christianity or be expelled.  Priests in the American West sometimes chained Native Americans to church pews to enforce church attendance.  Over time, Christians learned that the faith grows best from the bottom up rather than being imposed from the top down.  In the words of Miroslav Volf, “Imposition stands starkly at odds with the basic character of the Christian faith, which is at its heart about self-giving—God’s self-giving and human self-giving—and not about self-imposing.”

Tellingly, in his last miracle on earth Jesus healed the ear of an “enemy” whom his own disciple had wounded.  Those who wish to remain faithful to Jesus must bear witness as he did, not by compelling assent but by presenting the gospel as a true answer to basic thirst.

A friend of mine who grew up in Palestine observes that those of us in the West will always view Muslims as the enemy unless they renounce violence and coercion.  He wrote me, “Although the Qur’an calls Muslims descendants of Abraham, it rejects the dignity of Jews and Christians, calling them pigs (for Jews) and infidels (for Christians).  They are to be forced to convert, otherwise subject to taxation,  enslaved and/or destroyed.  Unless these ominous sections are excised from the Muslim ‘sacred texts,’ there is no hope for reconciliation.”

not in my nameYet on my trip, I read daily editorials in Malaysian and Indonesian newspapers denouncing the Paris attacks and other acts of extremism.  Islamic nations acknowledge the threat: after all, many more Muslims than non-Muslims have died at the hands of terrorists.  These two Asian countries are charting a middle way, favoring their Muslim majorities while officially guaranteeing the rights of minorities from other faiths.

Officially, I say.  Christians in Malaysia told me of evangelism techniques that, while nonviolent, are still coercive.  Muslim men actively seek out Christian women to marry (they can have up to four wives), forcing them to convert and bear them Muslim children.  Aggressive imams offer money to illiterate Christian villagers if they sign a document with an X; when they show up for church the next week, an officer informs them they have now registered as Muslims, a designation that cannot legally be changed.  And Christians in Malaysia find it almost impossible to get permission to build a church, or even repair an aging building.

BaptismIndonesia has more freedom but also, in some regions, more direct persecution.  As one Christian in Malaysia said, “We’re so blessed, because in Indonesia they’re burning churches and killing Christians, but here we just have to put up with discrimination and restrictions on our activities.”  In Indonesia, where Christians are actually dying for their faith, another said, “We’re very blessed, because in Malaysia they can’t freely publish the gospel.  Here, we still can.”  Indeed, I spoke at a Christian book exhibition in Jakarta held in the atrium of a public mall.

I wrote in Vanishing Grace about an important insight I learned from a Muslim scholar who said to me, “I have read the entire Koran and can find in it no guidance on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society.  I have read the entire New Testament and can find in it no guidance on how Christians should live as a majority.”  He put his finger on a central difference between the two faiths.  One, born at Pentecost, thrives cross-culturally and even counter-culturally, often coexisting with oppressive governments.  The other, geographically anchored in Mecca, was founded simultaneously as a religion and a state.

As we talked, he pointed out that Islam seeks to unify religion and law, culture and politics.  The courts enforce religious (Sharia) law, and in strict Muslim nations the mullahs, not the politicians, hold the real power.  In contrast, the Muslim man reminded me, Christianity works best as a minority faith, a counter-culture.  A recent book by Lee Beach, The Church in Exile, shows that throughout much of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament, God’s people operate as a minority within a surrounding culture that may well prove hostile.  Beach calls for the church to establish “communities of engaged nonconformity” to show the world a better way to live—not by coercion, but by persuasion and example.

Historically, when Christians have reached a majority they too fall to the temptations of power in ways that are clearly anti-gospel.  The blending of church and state may work for a time but it inevitably provokes a backlash, such as that seen in secular Europe today, where you find little nostalgia for Christendom.

Ajith Fernando, a writer and theologian from Sri Lanka, has this explanation for the recent turn toward violence: “Muslims believe their culture is superior because they think its features were dictated by God and reported verbatim in the Qur’an.  So the Muslim extremists are humiliated over these defeats and some of them are responding by hitting out violently in anger.  The Western leaders say they are fighting evil.  The Muslim extremists feel that the West is evil and that they must protect righteousness by battling the West.  So they hit targets that they associate with the West.”

Americans and Europeans understand the difference between a committed Christian who accepts Jesus as a model for living and a cultural Christian who happens to live in a nation with a Christian heritage, but not everyone elsewhere can make that distinction.  Much of the world, in fact, draws conclusions about Christians by watching MTV, online pornography, and movies glorifying violence.  To them, celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Charlie Sheen, and Kim Kardashian (or, more confusingly, her transgender step-father) personify “the Christian West” as much as Billy Graham and Pope Francis do.

It seems the entire world has now arrayed itself against ISIS, a relatively small group of zealots who welcome the opposition.  Do they represent the death throes of a distorted theology or the beginning of yet another long-term ideological conflict?  Post-Christian Europe can muster a police response but no real ideology to counter its attackers.  As a German friend told me, “We are baffled by people willing to blow themselves up for a cause in which they believe.  Most of us find it difficult to articulate what we are living for, much less what we might be willing to die for.”

LovenothateJesus came as God’s messenger of love, and chose to serve rather than to dominate, to die rather than to kill.  Such a time as this calls for a vigorous faith from his followers, “communities of engaged nonconformity.”

Can we respect and dignify the majority of Muslims while simultaneously striving to root out the extremist minority?  Can we resist the temptation toward vigilantism and prejudice against all Muslims? Can we not only accept them as neighbors but love them, as Jesus commanded?  Can we live in a way that demonstrates to the Muslim world that “the Christian West” does not equal decadence, just as “the Muslim world” does not equal extremism?  Can we maintain our cherished values of freedom and justice while under assault from forces that undermine them?

ISIS has proved how a dedicated minority of zealots can disrupt the world.  What can Christians do to show the troubled world another, better way?

 

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25 responses to “Paris and Beyond”

  1. Don Miller says:

    Some are baffled how to approach the Muslim question in both a logical and Biblical way. I believe this is the answer from: E v a n g e l i c a l s for B i b l i c a l I m m i g r a t i o n

    December 16, 2015

    The Congress of the United States of America

    Washington D.C.

    Honored Members of Congress ~

    With all respect, you are not called to niceness but to wisdom and kindness to protect and respect the lives of America citizens. That is your job. Let’s admit the truth. We are called to cultural flourishing and wherever Islam under jihad takes root, cultures and human beings suffer.

    We have had far too much debt, demoralization and death under the Obama administration. It is now time to adopt the common sense of the American people you are appointed to represent.
    Given the Bible’s clear teachings about migration and citizenship, we ask you to suspend and defund refugee and immigration programs in the omnibus.

    Other “evangelicals” who are well-funded by ‘progressives’ (eg. the NIF whose largest donor is George Soros) are useful to Islamic and liberal interests, but The Bible does not teach open and undiscerning welcome, but only wise welcome. We are to embrace the lawful and well-meaning foreigner, who, like a convert, comes as blessing (e.g. book of Ruth). Elsewhere we find the building of walls to protect from harmful foreigners (e.g. Nehemiah). The breaking down of borders and culture is not a commandment in Scripture, it is a curse.

    Further, the Center for Immigration Studies has found that, for less money, we can help more refugees stay in their home region. That is a win / win. We suggest collaboration with Christian agencies overseas, including Open Doors and Samaritan’s Purse, who give practical aid to many thousands of people whom God dearly loves.

    You should know that the Islamic doctrine of “Hijrah,” (pron: Hish-ra), commands Muslims to migrate to spread Islam and its dehumanizing Sharia law and banking. We have 1,400 years of history from which to learn that this is bad news for human dignity and freedom.

    Kindness stewards the garden of culture (Genesis 1-3). Kindness considers the interests of America and the world. Kindness solves the root problem — in this case Islamic ideology. It does not root the problem in hundreds of our own communities at the expense of citizens and its nation’s future.

    Thank you for your wise leadership,

    Kelly M. Kullberg on behalf of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration

    (an ad hoc group of 2,000+ concerned Christians including Eric Metaxas, Carol Swain, Sandy Rios, Kris Kobach, Mark Tooley and more)

    Ph: 614.352.1072

    Web: http://evangelicalsforbiblicalimmigration.com

    Contact: info@evangelicalsforbiblicalimmigration.com

    – See more at: http://evangelicalsforbiblicalimmigration.com/#sthash.wfd9Qx9a.dpuf

  2. Dear Mr. Yancey,

    This may not be the ideal way to mention it, but I’d like to offer “Where Is God When It Hurts” as A Fair Trade Book. (If readers buy it from me, 10% of the cost of a Fair Trade Book goes to the author or a charity of the author’s choice.) Authors’ comments are always welcome. A review of the book is scheduled for Sunday, 12/27/15.

  3. Guilherme says:

    Mr.Yancey, do you really believe that ISIS is the real enemy? Or do you intencionally rather not expose the “powers and rulers” of this wicked world that mastermind all these kind of events?

  4. Dale Albertson says:

    Mr. Yancy,

    Just a few quick thoughts on your Paris and Beyond article. I believe that you mean well with this article, and want to foster a moderate, loving, yet informed perspective rather than going to either extreme as is so often the case. I do applaud that approach. In fact, there are a lot of really good suggestions and questions being asked here. However, your apparent lack of knowledge concerning Islam has resulted in a few comments and assumptions that are simply wrong, and if taken as truth, potentially dangerous as well.

    For example, you say that Muslims and Christian share similar values such as a disciplined life and charity to the poor. While it may look that way from the outside, in reality it’s not true. These are Christian values to be sure, but in Islam they are considered duty, not values. Muslims must work to earn salvation, while Christians demonstrate their salvation by their work. There are no values in Islam, only submission and obedience – which is not a subtle distinction at all. Muslims are driven by submission to Allah, and informed by the Imams and Mullahs.

    You also mention Jesus in the Q’uran as a coming messiah. But you don’t say that the Jesus of Islam is a Muslim, and that when he returns, he slays all non-Muslims, proves that the Christians are wrong, then marries, has children and dies. In fact, the Islamic Jesus fits into an eschatology that makes him the anti-Christ of Revelation. I suggest you read Joel Richardson’s work on this topic.

    Your suggestion that “only extreme groups like ISIS resort to violent means” when working towards conversion, ignores the fact that this has been the most common way of conversion for the entire 1400 years of Islam. Anyone can Google Islamic wars and see for themselves what carnage has been caused by Islam. In fact, if you follow the timeline of Lebanon from the 1950s until their Islamic revolution in the 1970s, you’ll see the way that Islamists work from being moderate to full on murder and mayhem in order to establish Sharia. And ISIS may not be a huge movement in and of itself, but when you consider all the other jihadist groups in the world, they dwarf the entire US military and make up a huge percentage of the Islamic world. It’s naïve to think of them as small, anomalous, or a minority. They are none of those things.

    Then, comparing isolated Roman Catholic “conversion/expansionist” methods of medieval times, or the tactics of Catholic priests in the American West (which are clearly against the teaching of the Bible) to the fundamental Islamic practice of forced conversion (imperative commands in the Qu’ran and hadiths) is not only an equivalency without any basis in reality; it ignores the fact that the Roman Catholic Church as an institution is decidedly not Christian as the scriptures record it to be. It’s an earthly kingdom and always has been. The fact that a reformation occurred is testament to that. While I know some truly born again Catholics personally, they are the exception rather than the rule.

    The most worrisome part of this article however is where you make the mistake of falling for taqyya, which everyone should not only be aware of, but investigate on their own. Just because there are Muslims who claim to denounce ISIS, the fact remains that Muslims are required not only by the Q’uran, but also the Sunnah and Hadiths (sayings and deeds of Muhammed) to deceive (taqyya) the infidels in order to advance Islam. Not all sects follow the Hadiths as puritanically as the Sunni Whabbists, but at the end of the day, all Muslims are required to submit to and advance Sharia, which is the total domination of Islam over the world. This is a compulsory duty of all Muslims.

    Therefore, Islam is not a religion. It’s a totalitarian system of family, social, judicial and governmental control with a thin veneer of religiosity. It’s completely antithetical to freedom, liberty, democratic principles, human rights and the separation of church and state. In Islam, they are one and the same. Apostasy (as well as conversion to a different religion) is not allowed, and in Islamic republics, the penalty is usually death, as one commenter here already said. You hint at this, but fail to say it clearly.

    Which of course explains why Muslims kill so many other Muslims. The reason is simple. Those being killed are considered apostate by the ones doing the killing. This is the command of Allah in Sura 4:88-89.

    I could supply multiple suras, hadiths and Islamic commentaries to corroborate everything I’ve said here, but anyone who is interested can easily find everything online.

    We certainly want to be careful and not be negatively prejudicial towards Muslims as people. However, we should make ourselves much more informed and aware of Islam the ideology and what the stages of jihad are. And we should challenge Islam the ideology whenever we’re able to do so. Far too many people in the general population have a completely skewed view of what Islam actually is.

    As a bit of a backgrounder, I have quite a few Muslim friends and neighbors. Most of them refuse to talk about religion at all. Some are afraid of the “fundamentalists” and others are only cultural Muslims. When dealing with other cultures and religions, it’s important to understand how to interact with them without misunderstanding and crossing taboo boundaries. You simply can’t “witness” to Muslims the way you can to westerners, regardless of where they are on the Islamic continuum. But we can challenge Islam and open doors to talk about Jesus once we equip ourselves.

    • Rhonda Thrush says:

      I was concerned about some of the statements Phillip was saying and you have answered all of my concerns extremely well. All of your comment was really well thought out and written. Thankyou . I hope you don’t mind if my comment is to read yours?

    • Lynne says:

      Amen to what Dale Albertson wrote

  5. Kim Findlay says:

    “ISIS has proved how a dedicated minority of zealots can disrupt the world. What can Christians do to show the troubled world another, better way?”

    Reminds me that in Acts, a dedicated minority of zealots also disrupted the world, in another, better way.

  6. Joe says:

    All I can say is “wow”. This was a well thought out and wise post. As a follower of Jesus, I believe we are called to love our enemies. This whole situation has opened my eyes to just how radically subversive that directive is. What comes next is the more difficult part: How do we do it? I don’t know the answer. I think we must stand with the victims and do what we can to stop the attacks (without being retributive). As an individual I really don’t know what exactly to do. How do we help the refugees? How do we stand with Muslims in peace? I live in suburban Delaware. Anyway, I appreciate the perspective you presented. May perfect love cast out fear. May we overcome evil with good.

    http://godsfoolishness.blogspot.com/

  7. Bert says:

    Very thought-provoking. I think with this issue we in the West need to be mindful that we had hundreds of years of Christian Civil War. Yes, these wars were political and cultural. And yes, C.S. Lewis was right when he said that the theological issues could have been resolved if the theologians had been allowed to sit around a table together. But they were still instances of Christians killing each other in staggering numbers; and the sides usually broke down between Catholic and Protestant. Even the US Civil War was a deeply Christian conflict, as Lincoln recognized in his Second Inaugural. We forget today that many in the Union were motivated by their reading of the Bible and their Christian faith just as much as the Confederacy. So I think the West has to address the issue of Islam and violence with a sense of humility and acknowledgement that we too have a history of religiously-sanctioned violence. Some were deeply upset when President Obama said this, but to deny it is to deny the entire scope and trajectory of post-Constantine history in the West.

    I think Islam is going through an enormous upheaval right now in confronting the modern world. Terrorism and fundamentalist violence is a response to the dislocating impact of modernity. There are lots of Muslims who are taking the harder path of reinterpreting their sacred texts in a modern context; rejecting those sacred texts which divide and incite to violence, and prioritizing those texts which work towards peace, justice, and unity. Many Christians have been engaged in something similar, and I think such like-minded Christians and Muslims could be a key to transcending and ultimately ending our present global conflict.

  8. Kamal Fahmi says:

    While Westerns Christians continue having intellectual exercise and debate protecting Islam
    Converts from Islam to Christianity remain venerable under Islamic law, and no one say anything.
    While the debate go on converts are murdered imprisoned tortured but no one care.
    While the debate go on 1.3 Billion Muslims remain without freedom to change belief
    They face death sentence torture and imprisonment and oppression under Islamic law but the debate go on.
    They are left alone to face their fate while the debate go on.
    No one stand for their rights
    but the debate go on
    When converts speak out they are criticised. Their cry of pain is not herd.
    On whom will they relay if their family of god do not stand with them
    How will they feel when their family of God forsake them while the debate go on.

  9. Hannah says:

    Fantastic article. Love your insights. But cannot share this on my Facebook wall with the, to my mind, very clumsy comment re transgender. That jarred against other things I’ve read that you’ve written. I have a transgender friend. That statement would impress upon her, once again, that God considers her dirty, for a start, when I’m trying to help her see that He takes her as she is. JUST as she is, no negative labelling. She has fought all her life for identity. She trans’d 20 years ago and was persecuted for it by our country’s media. She found out the other week that the reason she has always had identity issues is because of a drug given to pregnant women from 1938-1971 which resulted in her being born intersex (hermaphrodite). Her parents decided she’d be a boy and had surgeries to *correct* as much as possible. I know I’ve gone off on a tangent, but I’m so disappointed I cannot share this post because that one comment will truly cut her to the heart. She’s going through enough and has been through enough and right now, needs to know and experience complete acceptance and love, which she doesn’t often get if people find out she’s trans: that complete love and acceptance that helped us come to Him so He could complete a good work in us.

    • Philip Yancey says:

      Thank you for this corrective. I should have made clearer that I was trying to depict how we are viewed by the rest of the world, especially the Islamic world. For many there, the transgender issue is incomprehensible, as is the whole LGBT movement, for that matter.

      I’ve heard of the drug you mention and the damaging effects in so many ways. I’m very glad you are her friend. It’s a tough, tough road. Christianity Today ran a very helpful article a few months ago which may help lower the barriers you mention.
      –Philip

      • Alayna says:

        Philip,

        Thanks for these wise words and encouragement! Looking forward to reflecting more on this on my own and with my community.

        I’m like Hannah, however, and can’t share this on social media because of the transgender comment. I understand how many may find the LGBTQ “movement” incomprehensible (as a cisgender individual, it was once confusing and difficult for me), but like other topics that may seem foreign, we have a responsibility to our neighbors to become more familiar with what’s most important to them, especially if they pertain to issues of identity. In this way we can show them love – by working hard to understand them.

        Would you consider correcting “step-father” to “step-mother” in your post, to respect Caitlyn Jenner’s gender identity? This gesture may seem inconsequential, but for many LGBTQ folks speaking a gendered language, using their preferred pronoun (and other gendered words) demonstrates that you possess a level of understanding and care for their identity that many do not.

        Thank you, and God bless you and your work.
        Alayna

  10. Darrell Meeks says:

    Unfortunately, the muslims who do not subscribe to the atrocities are the exception rather than the rule. They are a minority. The terrorists could not succeed as well as they have without the massive support base of mainstream islam!

  11. raineer chu says:

    two things to add. the roman catholic church official documents still retains the curse on all born again evangelicals, deemed anathema. it cannot be erased. but we can still work with roman catholics despite that. meaning, official records or statements are good only for that, official connections but on the ground, we have more leeway.
    the book of jonah is perhaps the most poignant call to connect with one’s enemies. the assyrians were despite isaiah 19.25 remains israel’s most hated enemy, more than the hizbollah or the al quaeda.

  12. It may have been true once that Americans and Europeans could distinguish between actual Christianity and what is essentially a cultural affect. I’m not sure this applies any longer. The generation coming up has little or no understanding of what we think of as “Christian heritage” and what they see from “committed Christians” on a personal level is not particularly attractive.

    Muslims are never going to distinguish real Christianity when the real Christians are just as tangled up in Black Friday sales, Facebook rants, and smart phone porn as everybody else.

  13. ML says:

    Thank you for your insightful comments. I have enjoyed reading your books over the years and I’m happy to have come across your blog. Your words really resonate with me and I hope to share this with others. Let’s be the salt of the earth and the light on the hill. Keep up His work, brother.

  14. June Parker says:

    We ignore or are ignorant of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter five, at our peril. His ways are often not our ways in response to atrocities committed by people in the grip of Satan. I hear that many Muslims in Lebanon have been touched with the love of Jesus by Christians who have shown compassion and care, even though they are suffering themselves. I praise God for their example of light shining in the darkness.

  15. Ulla-Britt Vitus Cowan says:

    Thank you for your writings.They are helpful.Esp. Your books.Regards Ulla and David

  16. M Bahr says:

    1. Seems to me that if Abraham had not had a child out of wedlock, all this wouldn’t be. Since that didn’t happen, if he had accepted the boy into the family and loved him as a father should have, all this wouldn’t be either. God took care of Ishmael but warned there would be later trouble. God warns of wrong doing & its consequences and man disobeys, again and again. A vicious circle.
    2. Also, celebrities like you mention are not Christians, nor do they represent me spiritually or culturally as a citizen. I’m not saying I’m better than they are because I AM a sinner too, but it seems that anyone who calls themselves a Christian, or lives in the U.S., is automatically accepted as a representation of Jesus in the larger cultural picture without looking at the fruit of their lives by the Spirit. Jesus doesn’t need token celebrity representation nor right-wing politicians, etc. Jesus has become a football or a superstar — both of which are idolized and manipulated by man.
    3. Now I have not read the Koran, but does it speak of the Holy Spirit? The Trinity? How does a layman really know another (or any) religion w/out becoming confused with global culture and beliefs? We are so bogged down with belief systems that we can’t separate the people from their actions and hear what God really thinks.

  17. Diann Siler says:

    Mr. Yancey – thank you for writing this. Reading this post was like discovering an oasis of grace and in a parched world.

  18. Otakar Vozeh says:

    Why would anyone feel the need to assert that muslims and Christians are – also – brothers ? All people are God’s creatures but not all are brothers. Biblically based definition of “brother” would perhaps help here. Moreover, sharing of some values does not make us brothers. This would be very misleading. It’s the birth that makes me a brother to someone. In the case of Christians, the new birth through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Paul Sanders says:

      To Otakar Vozeh. I agree with your post. Particularly the call for a biblically based definition of ‘brother’. It is true all people are God’s creatures but all are not brothers.
      Values and cultures may have some similarity but they do not define the Christian. The Question that brings clarity to where one’s belief is ‘What think you of Christ?’. Your analogy of birth and spiritual birth nails it, for the biblical Christian, ‘Ye must be born again’ John 3:3. (faith in Christ)

      • lynn says:

        the question of “who is my brother?” has come up twice in two days now! i assumed it was biblical to say that EVERYONE is my brother or sister, but now i realize i need to look into that to be sure. yet, even if it is not explicitly or even just implicitly stated that everyone is my brother (or sister), what is the harm in viewing them that way? to me it is similar to the question of “who is my neighbor?” Jesus makes clear that anyone can be our neighbor. if we are to love even our ENEMIES (and, Jesus is clear that we must love them), then what is it to call an “enemy” my brother? since we are to “love others as ourselves,” is it not helpful to think of everyone as a “brother”? what is the harm in doing so?

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