Response to Brian Brodersen’s Remarks on Islam
Question Regarding Brian Brodersen’s Remarks on Islam of Sept 18 in the aftermath of anti American riots in Egypt and other Islamic capitals.
In his statement Brian Brodersen states that it is inappropriate to generalize concerning Muslims as being radical and intolerant. While I do know a number of moderate Muslims, I also realize that even among the more moderate western notions of pluralism and freedom of thought and expression are not part of their thinking to the same degree as it is with Christians, Jews and others.
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington D.C., one New York Times poll reported that 63% of Muslims in eighteen countries, including Western countries, believe the attacks were justified. In published data, fully 40% of British Muslims state they would not inform police authorities if they had prior knowledge of terror attacks in the UK.
I have traveled from one end of the Islamic world to the other and speak a functional amount of Arabic. My travels have taken me at various times from Morocco to the Persian Gulf, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt to the Islamic countries of the Far East, Indonesia, Brunai, and Malaysia. The fact is that not a single Islamic country accords the same freedom of religion and expression to Christians and Jews that Muslims receive in North America, Britain, Europe and elsewhere. This is not a sweeping generalization but an undeniable fact. ‚ It is also undeniable that highly educated and westernized Muslims educated in western universities have been directly implicated in planned acts of terror such as those at the Glasgow Airport in Scotland where ironically the Lockerbie bombings took place. So too there have been no shortage of western educated Islamic professors, journalist and academics who have in effect been apologists for terror in their published material, to say nothing of the often rampant radicalism of students from Muslim countries studying in western universities. One cannot dismiss radical Islam Islamo-fascism and intolerance to an insignificant minority.
The human rights and women’s rights abuses and the oppression of Christians is a social and legal mainstay to varying degrees in every single one of the 57 Islamic nations who are members of the UN. Neither Mr. Brodersen or anyone else can produce a single exception. The inaccuracy of his remarks in this area is not what concerns me most however. It is rather the fallacy of his theological, historical, and missiological statements. While we all agree it is not an effective evangelistic strategy to set out to offend one personally, a distinction must be drawn from an attack on them and an attack on the tenants of their false religious beliefs. We attempt to demonstrate this in our own evangelistic approach on our Moriel website in “Our Questions to our Muslim Friends”. Philippians 1:9 tells us that for true agape love to abound, that is the love of Jesus, real knowledge and discernment are required or it is not real love at all.
It is Mr. Brodersen’s argument that the apostolic example of Paul addressing the Epicurean and Stoic Areopagites on Mars Hill in Acts 17 shows Paul taking a non confrontational view of their idolatrous beliefs. ‚ A comprehensive exegesis of the passage, however, establishes that Mr. Brodersen could not possibly be more wrong. A text out of contest in isolation of co-text is always a pretext. And this is a fundamental maxim of conservative evangelical hermeneutics. It was in fact Satan, drawing verses in Deuteronomy out of the overall context in his temptation narrative with Jesus in Mathew 4, that reveals the source of such mishandling of scripture. In actual fact, we know from the Sitze im Leben that the rules of the Areopagus did not permit ingratiating statements. In verse 29 of the same passage Paul castigates the religious beliefs in sculpted deities of an iconic generation. Paul directly attacks the pagan nature of their beliefs in his presentation when we read all of it in context and not just selectively cite the verses supportive of our presuppositions; this is a distorted exegesis known as “proof texting”.
Never in the name of love did Jesus fail to make and direct confrontational statements concerning false religious beliefs in other gods. On the contrary, because He loved us He told the truth directly and under no uncertain terms. When approached by the Syro-Phoenician woman beseeching the help of Jesus to exercise a demon from her daughter, Jesus retorted “that it is not fitting to give the children’s bread to the dogs.” As we see in Psalms 22 “˜dogs’ was a common derogatory Hebraic idiom for idol. His response to her would initially appear to be racist and crude by modern standards of political correctness. In fact, Jesus was telling her that before he could help her daughter she had to address the issue that her religion was false and unfit for human consumption. In the Greek text the word for “˜dogs’ is in the diminutive, meaning something like puppies, almost the term of affection. Humans are imagio Dei beings, made in God’s image and likeness, and should be eating a spiritual food which is the word of God, that is the word of life. They should not be eating dog food which is what false religious dogma is that includes books like the Koran which says that God has no son and that Judas died on the cross, not Jesus.
The Koran is in fact a ridiculous book. Arabs are themselves brilliant people that invented digital numbers instead of alpha numerics, yet the Koran confuses Mary the mother of Jesus with Miriam the sister of Moses although they lived 13 centuries apart. The Koran calls Hamon from the book of Esther a bureaucrat from Pharaoh’s court in Egypt centuries earlier. Given the fact that Arabs invented numbers, one would assume they know how to count, unless of course they believe the Koran. The Koran teaches that the sun sinks into a muddy pit at the end of the day and wakes the following morning in order to explain what we know to be planetary rotation. Mohammed himself, according to secular academic scholars of Islam called Orientalists, was probably illiterate. It is the Koran, not the critics of Islam, that state Mohammed was a womanizer after he forced his adopted son to divorce his wife so he could take her for himself. According to Surah 23, their god Allah supposedly decreed Mohammed was to have no more wives, yet he took at least three more afterwards. According to the Hadith, Mohammed married Ayisha, the daughter of Abu Bakir, when she was 6 years old and took her virginity when she was 9 ““ he was in his mid 50’s.
These statements are not attacks designed to be an offense to Muslims, but are rather direct quotes from their own scriptures. Christians do not need to apologize to Muslims for quoting the Koran, nor should they avoid doing so. Jesus indeed loves Muslims just as he loved the Syro-Phoenician woman and her daughter. But the love of Jesus demands we unapologetically confront them with the solid truth about what they claim to believe.
Another example of the methodology of Jesus in confronting people with distorted beliefs is observed in John chapter 4 in his meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. Near the modern West Bank city of Nablus. Like the mainstream Jews, she worshipped the true God, believed in the patriarchs, the law of Moses, and ultimately in Jesus Himself, but the Samaritan religion was a hybrid of Mosaic Judaism and ‚ Assyrian paganism which corrupted the Torah. As soon as the woman at the well began disputing with Jesus about Mt Gerizim, as opposed to Mt Zion, Jesus immediately halted the conversation and corrected her wrong belief by telling her straight that she did not know what she was talking about, but that salvation came from the Jews.
Not one place in either testament did Mr. Brodersen cite an example of where false belief was not challenged as being false. I do not know how many Muslims, if any, Mr Brodersen has led to Christ, but we have had several coming to faith through my personal witness and through the teachings of Moriel. This includes a number of Shia Muslims originally from Iran. We have ex-Muslims graciously saved by Jesus through the ministry of Moriel from as far away as New Zealand and South Africa.
Perhaps the premier apologist in evangelizing Muslims today is Dr Jay Smith who is directly confrontational in his presentations of Muslims publicly in his weekly outreaches in London at Speaker’s Corner. Internet and satellite communication have been avenues of entry for the Gospel message into an Islamic world that is by and large closed to it. No satellite broadcaster is more effective in dissuading Muslims away from the claims of the Koran and considering the claims of Christ than the Coptic Christian preacher Zakaria Buttros who is often the victim of slanderous misrepresentation by the left wing media. I know a number of former Muslims who are in evangelistic ministry to Muslims who likewise dismantle the claims of the Koran as demonstrably bogus. The same is true of the Orientalists who engage in scholarly source criticism of koranic texts. Figures ranging from Bridgette Gabriel to to Mosab Yousef are all people from Arab cultures. Two of them are ex-Muslims who directly assail the credibility of the religion they were born into and were saved out of.
Mr. Brodersen attempts to reinforce his position by making reference to his own background in Catholicism, stating that confrontational approaches of the doctrines of the Roman church are counter-productive. Again our goal must be to reach Catholics but not to offend them. But once more, the distinction must be between verbally assaulting them and forcefully telling them to examine the hard facts of Roman Catholicism doctrine and compatibility with the New Testament. Contrary to Mr. Brodersen’s ‚ assertions, the Protestant Reformation was launched by direct confrontation ranging from Luther’s 95 theses to the satirical brilliance of Julius Exclusus and “the praise of folly” by Erasmus Rotterdam. A reading of the testimonies of the Oxford martyrs including Cramer, Ridley, Latimer, and also John Hooper all were publicly denunciating the Roman papacy as an empty Christ institution, and of the transubstantiated eucharist as idolatry and cannibalism.
The humongous revivals throughout Latin America and other third world Catholic countries such as the Philippines are ripe with former Catholics evangelistically preaching anti roman Catholicism. The success and growth has been so phenomenal that Brazil alone, largest Catholic country demographically, has seen ‚ its Roman Catholic population plummet from 96% to approximately 73% in one generation due to the explosive growth of a generally anti Roman Catholic Pentecostalism and other expressions of Evangelicism.
The epic writings of classic Christian figures such as Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Rhyle, John Wesley, John Bunyan and multiple others directly assailed the dogmas of Roman Catholicism as being horrifically false as indeed the leading Roman Catholic apologist of the 19th century, Cardinal John Henry Newman, himself admitted in his treatise “˜The Development of The Christian Religion’ ‚ that “fully 70% of the rites, rituals, customs , and traditions of Roman Catholicism are of pagan origin”.
Mr. Brodersen’s misguided remarks are simply inconsistent with theological, missiological and historical reality and should be ignored. As one who holds a very high personal regard for Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, I am aware that some Calvary Chapels consist of up to 70% constituency of former Roman Catholics and the early growth of the Calvary Chapel movement during the hippie era saw an uncompromising confrontation of Roman Catholic beliefs by the Jesus freaks. Having lived in the Middle East for a number of years and having spoken to churches throughout much if not most of the Islamic world, I cannot lend any credence to Mr. Brodersen’s point of view. It is simply not reality.
While Allah is a generic Arabic term for God, as a proper noun Allah was the name of the Nabatean moon god identified with the black stone of the kabbah in pre-Islamic pagan Arabia. Allah is not Yahweh and is not Jesus, as one visiting speaker in certain Calvary Chapels has foolishly tried to insist. I pass no personal judgments on Mr. Brodersen’s ‚ motives, but what he writes could not be more wrong for the simple fact that it is fundamentally unscriptural. Paul instructs us that the word of God is to be rightly divided and that an absolute requirement to be qualified to be a pastor is the ability to correctly teach doctrine as we read in Paul’s instructions to Timothy. What Mr. Brodersen has written is not a properly exegetic or a rightfully divided presentation of the Word of God. Fortunately, I know a number of Calvary Chapel pastors who, like myself, affirm the anointing of God on Chuck Smith and his brother Paul, but who are unable to concur with Mr. Brodersen’s conclusions. They share my conviction that his views simply do not add up to what history records, what missiology verifies, or what God’s word teaches.
J Jacob Prasch