I am completely uninterested in interfaith dialog. Does that make me a bad person?
This Ground Zero Mosque business has allowed me to finally face the issue personally and honestly, and I’ve decided that I don’t care. Aside from the fact that I’ve grown weary of the constant whining from the potential mosque’s imam and other supporters (no one can stop you; if you want to build it… build it), I still don’t have a clear idea of why a Christian should support it. The intent of building this mosque, or any other, is to draw worship to someone other than God. How are we honoring him by suggesting that the building of a mosque is a good thing? From a Christian perspective, it isn’t.
Unfortunately, our generation has been brought up the idea that “tolerance” is an unqualified good thing, that we are unable to see the folly in the concept. Several years ago I was serving as student minister at a Lutheran church. One day I came in to the office while our children’s minister and my intern were having a conversation. When I walked by one asked, “Where in the Bible does it say to respect other religions?”
You may have noticed that my last name is not Piper, Carson, or Packer, but I felt pretty confident when I answered, “It’s not there.” God is clear about idolatry, and how we are to “respect” foreign gods. So why would a Christian leader try to form “conversations” with leaders from other religions, with tolerance or mutual respect as a goal? Christians learning to respect and love Muslims is helpful and productive, and it glorifies God as we love others. Christian leaders trying to emphasize the similarities between Christianity and other religions is unhelpful and counterproductive when we consider our mission: to go and make disciples.
I’ve come to realize that the only reason I was ever open to the suggestion of such things was so that I would be considered “thoughtful.” We all know that you can’t be thoughtful if you’re willing to say (out loud and in public) that any religion that doesn’t hold to the Gospel is evil. Surely our Christian obligations preclude us from supporting any religious message that doesn’t support the Gospel.
There are far too many Christians – evangelical Christians – who believe sentiments like “live and let live” are biblical with regard to other religions. I think too many of us are enamored with being considered “thoughtful.” I think too few of us are willing to associate Ba’al and “foreign gods” with the religions of our time.
I still want you to think I’m thoughtful, but I’m working on it. I’ll leave you with the words of Al Mohler:
Thus, evangelical Christians may respect the sincerity with which Muslims hold their beliefs, but we cannot respect the beliefs themselves. We can respect Muslim people for their contributions to human welfare, scholarship, and culture. We can respect the brilliance of Muslim scholarship in the medieval era and the wonders of Islamic art and architecture. But we cannot respect a belief system that denies the truth of the gospel, insists that Jesus was not God’s Son, and takes millions of souls captive.
This does not make for good diplomacy, but we are called to witness, not public relations. We must aim to be gracious and winsome in our witness to Christ, but the bottom line is that the gospel will necessarily come into open conflict with its rivals.