Why Next Time I’ll Kneel in Worship with Muslims

This morning at Eid al-Fitr in North County San Diego

Today is Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Through my friendship with Pastor Bob, a leader of San Diego’s interfaith community, I received, about a week ago, an invitation which read:

Greetings, and I hope all is well with you, our esteemed brothers and sisters in the North County interfaith community leadership. This is Karem Elhams with the Islamic Society of North County (ISNC).

You, the brothers and sisters, are invited this Tuesday August 30, 2011 to join your brothers and sisters in the North County Muslim community in celebrating the Eid Al-Fiter (end of the fasting month of Ramadan) in Corky Smith Gym at 274 Pico Avenue, San Marcos, CA.

The Eid program is as follows:

The place will open:——————————————7 am for setup.

Community and guest begin arrival:———————7:30 am

Announcements and welcoming remarks:————–8:00 to 8:30 am

Community Eid prayer lead by ICSD Imam Taha:—-9:00 am

Eid Speech by Imam Taha (20 to 30 minutes):——–9:10 am

Refreshments will be served in the playground area at 10:00 am

It will be our pleasure if you can join us. Please let me know so we can make seating arrangements for our guests.

Best Regards,

For the ISNC Board of Directors,

Karem Elhams

So at around 9 a.m. this morning, guess what I was doing? I was being virtually the only person standing in a room of 1,500 people who were praying with their foreheads to the ground.

I stood to the side of the vast room, between the seven hundred or so women in the back, and the seven hundred or so men in the front. (In Muslim worship services, the women aren’t separated from the men because they’re considered second-class citizens; Muslims hold husbands and wives to be equal. It’s because doing sujud [prostration] means putting your backside up in the air, which, in a co-ed situation, isn’t exactly conducive to concentrating on God.)

Pastor Bob prayed with the Muslims. (He also addressed them all before prayers began. That surprised me; I had no idea Bob was a guest of honor. But he was, because Muslim-Americans so deeply appreciate Christian leaders who are willing to extend to them the hand of peace and understanding.)

I didn’t perform salah (formal prayer) with the Muslims, because I didn’t have time enough to think my way through how I felt about doing that, what with being a Christian and all. And my motto is: When in doubt, do (if possible) nothing. So that’s what I did. (Except that when you’re the sole person in a packed auditorium doing it, standing feels like an distinctly dramatic thing to do.)

And it’s not like anyone was pressuring me to worship, or anything like that. In my whole life I’ve never been treated more graciously by more people than I was by the Muslims at this morning’s Eid al-Fitr.

Afterward, I asked Pastor Bob what he did with his mind in order to make it okay for him to pray in a Muslim worship ceremony.

“Christians forget something very important about Jesus.” He leaned forward in his chair, and locked his eyes onto mine. He took the slow, measured tone he does when he’s being so serious nearby ants stop crawling. “Jesus prayed to the God of Abraham. That’s the same God Muslims pray to. When I pray with Muslims, I pray as a Christian. Christians and Muslims pray to the same God. Christians who don’t know that have either forgotten, or never learned, the history of their faith, the root of their most profound and basic beliefs.”

And that’s the simple, clear thought that evaded me this morning.

Next time, no one in that room will be standing.


Pastor Bob is the pastor who responded to my question, “If you could say any one thing about Islam or Muslims to American Christians, or to Americans generally, what would it be?” in Evangelicals and Muslims: Both Love Jesus.

You might also care to check out episode four of The Smith Family Chronicles: “Hello, I am Your Muslim Son.”

"That kinda potty mouth got you banned from twitter."

The fundamentally toxic Christianity
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  • Amen/Ameen 🙂

  • amen, john shore. amen.

  • Tana

    Most excellent.

  • Stephen McBride via Facebook

    Sorry, and with the greatest of respect, but I can’t agree with you on this one. Maybe when Islam answers the rather awkward question of the marriage of their prophet and his fourth wife, I’ll be more open.

    I’m no great fan of any religious belief (though I do like your site). Growing up as a Northern Irish Protestant tends to put you off fior life, if you’re not sucked in. But even by the standards of intolerance practised in NI, Islam still comes off as a barbaric, medieval faith. That’s not to say all it’s practitioners are. Far from it. Like many in NI, I doubt the vas majority know the more tasteless parts of their faith’s beliefs

    But take a walk through the hadith. The Mohammed painted there is NOT the man of compassion we are led to believe he is.

    And the clincher is this. Would you willingly live in an Islamic state? Because if the answer is no, what does that say?

  • You show real compassion TY

  • Seconding Tana’s most excellent.  Thanks for sharing this with us, John. 

  • A lot of people don’t know much about their faith. Reminds me of a story my mom told about a lady in a little Assembly of God church in Oklahoma circa early 1900’s. They were taking up a collection for Bibles to be translated into some “furrin” language. One lady, (bless her heart) wouldn’t contribute. She said, “if English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!”

  • we are all people of the book.

  • After the great religion scholar, Huston Smith, learned about Muslim prayer, he was so taken by it that he incorporated the five daily prayers into his own Christian practice.

  • @ Stephen: I am Christian and would not willingly live in a “Christian” state. What does that say? You’re confusing true religion with politics masquerading as religion, I would suggest. But of course people of literally any faith, including atheism, can if they so choose find ways to dress up antisocial behavior in the terms of their religion.

  • That is beautiful.  The whole thing.  I would so love to attend a prayer service like that.  Pastor Bob sounds like an amazing man.

  • Diane

    Excellent. I have been thinking lately that we Christians could learn a thing or two from our Muslim neighbors…one example would be they way Muslims commit to setting aside certain times of the day for prayer. I know I could use the discipline that would involve.

  • J Aiden Rose via Facebook

    @Mr. Gragson, I agree. A local progressive radio station was going on and on about some foreign country with really low religious adherence and low levels of crime, and a more humanist government, as if one thing had anything to do with the other. A friend of mine pointed out the USSR had and China has really low religious adherence and crime rates, so long as you didn’t take into account the tens of millions of folks those regimes killed of their own people.

  • Tim

    John, I am not Jack Van Impe, worried about “Christlam”, and I know your are trying to extend a hand of love, but the idea that Allah is the same God is just not true. This gentleman stopped God’s revelation at Abraham. Try telling him Jesus is God! Sheesh, John, first gays and now this. Maybe u are finding ur niche as the “anti-evangelical”

  • Maggie

    I’m glad you had a chance to be involved with an interfaith group.  It’s a wonderful experience to understand our common faith and to appreciate the nuances of your own faith tradition.

  • Maggie

    P.S.  The only thing I’m not really wild about your new web site are the big blocks of snippets from the post.  Just some feedback…

  • Good for you John.

  • Oh, McBride, with the utmost respect, I suggest you envision a US Theocracy run by Perry and Bachmann. Or a religious jihad visited on Iraq by an evangelist US President. The real trick is seeing the alignment rather than focusing on the divide. That alignment is respect, solemnity, love. The divide is mythology.

  • Wren Paasch via Facebook

    I can’t read that statement – if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me – without thinking of my favorite comedian, Christopher Titus. His solution to the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic church is pedophile crucifixions. Then he goes into this whole spiel about it, with the good priest occasionally turning around and yelling at the crucified priest, “SHUT UP! If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for you!!” At the end of the piece, he says, “If I offended anyone with that last piece, just tell me the pro-raping-little-kids side of the argument.” “I didn’t think so.” …and that’s what’s in my head now. 😉

  • Valerie Brown via Facebook

    I’ve had friends & neighbors from all different faiths & nationalities & colors & orientations. I’m very blessed.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s great to reach out and a good thing you attended, but despite the insistance that many Muslims believe-  Allah is *not* the God of Abraham.  Allah was a pre-islamic Pagan deity.      You should love your Muslim brothers, but know that Christ warned specifically about false prophets.   The militant raider Muhammed was one of them.   

  • Textjunkie

    Yeah, it’s a tricky question, and I think the answer will change from situation to situation. Some days, getting down on your knees in solidarity and using someone else’s format to pray to your God is what you need to do. Other days, being there but not being part of it is what you need to do.   It may be that someone saw you standing and saw Pastor Bob kneeling and thought, Huh, even among sympathetic Christians there’s a variety of responses… and that’s a good thing. 🙂

  • Stephen McBride via Facebook

    Oh I dislike Christian influenced governments as much. But in my opinion, many of the beliefs of Islam ARE medieval and barbaric. (Not just my thoughts either – read Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a for instance). Being politically correct doesn’t change that.

    Does that mean I detest all Muslims? Far from it. If they want to follow a particular, then fair enough. But be aware of the abhorrent beliefs that still influence behaviour today.

    Being born in Northern Ireland really does lead one to reject religions utterly – or be subsumed by them. And surely, if you are to preach tolerance and respect, then that has to allow for people like me to disagree with you on certain points.

  • RonF

    The fact that the Muslims claim that they are praying to the God of Abraham doesn’t mean that the claim is true.  Consider the fact that Christians hold that Jesus is part of the Trinity and part of the Divine.  Muslims deny this – and therefore are denying that God is of the same nature that Christians do.  Read through the Qu’ran and see if you think you see the God of Abraham there.

  • RonF

    “Christians and Muslims pray to the same God. Christians who don’t know that have either forgotten, or never learned, the history of their faith, the root of their most profound and basic beliefs.”

    The history of Christianity does not include an acceptance of Islam’s claim that Allah (as the Muslims see him) is the same as God.

  • DR

    You’ve completely missed the point. 

  • Jack Isaacks

    How many mahometans will fast with Christians during Holy Lent? In fact, how often to you hear “Holy Lent” or “Holy Season of Lent” in popular media?

    Why is it that Christian processions and other big celebrations are forbidden where mahometans are in the majority? If you don’t believe me, look at Egypt or Iran.

    The history of Christianity does not include an acceptance of Islam’s claim that Allah (as the Muslims see him) is the same as God.

    Amen, RonF!

  • Anonymous

    “mahometans”? Seriously?

  • FSGinger

    Folks, Jesus taught us to pray.  And Jesus didn’t pray to himself.  So when I join alongside people of other Abrahamic faiths, I am praying as Jesus did.  To the One God of the Israelites.  Do I agree with everything these others think about post-Abrahamic revelation?  Nope.  But I also don’t agree with many of you about everything, yet I’m positive we could join in praying as Jesus did.  Quite honestly, I’d like to see one of you tell Jesus that he prayed to the wrong God since it was the God of Abraham that he prayed to – and not a trinitarian God.  Would be an interesting conversation to observe…

  • FSGinger

    “Allah was a pre-islamic Pagan deity.”

    The word “Allah” is a word in a language other than your own, so please don’t pretend to know all the word has been used for.  The English word “God” is an invented word that Jesus wouldn’t have recognized.  We know that words like “Allah” and “God” are symbols – just like all words.  The question is, what do those symbols represent?  I suspect if you asked everybody in your own congregation how they define “God” you’d get some different answers, different stories that have meaning, different understandings.  Do you refuse to worship alongside them?  Would you refuse to worship alongside Jesus since he used an unfamiliar word for the divine and didn’t use a trinitarian formula to explain God’s nature and worshiped the God of the Israelites just as the ancestors of today’s Muslims did?

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. I just didn’t have the energy. Thanks for saying the very simple thing that so needed saying, FSG.

  • Ramswrsw

    In fact, Allah was NOT a pre-Islamic deity. “Allah” is NOT a name, it is a title. Like Abraham, Muslims believe that God has no name. God needs no name. That is why He told Moses that he should be called, “I am.”
    The title Allah derives from the Arabic waords “al” and “lah.” “Lah” is very difficult to translate directly into English, but its closest meaning is, “to nullify” or “to overthrow. ”  So, the title “al-lah” means the nullifier, or the overthrower of eveything that you percieve with your senses, or take fro granted about the everyday world.

  • BrianW

    This pretty much sums up what Islam thinks of Christianity in Surah 3:85

    “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).”

    So THEY don’t think the Triune Christian God is God, nor is Jesus Divine, he is but a prophet.  Sorry, Islam and Christianity are monotheistic. We should treat them as Jesus would, but to claim we worship the same God, just ain’t so.

  • Gee. That’s not what the Imam said at the Iftar dinner I was invited to and attended last week. Go deeper, Brian.

  • You are applying the same interpretive skills to their scripture as you do to our own and like Christianity, Islam is rich with literalists (like you), moderates, liberals, and sufis (mystics). How you read it and apply it literally is not the same way someone raised in the faith would in context – nor how someone from each of the different branches of the faith would interpret it any more than an Episcopalian would interpret the Ephesians passage about how we are saved by Grace the same way a Presbyterian or a Baptist would. 

  • If you don’t see it, much like the Almighty, it does not mean that it is not there. The fault lies with the eyes of the one who cannot – or refuses to see.

    One reason I have been told why they deny the divinity of Christ is because they so revere monotheism and look at our concept of trinity as a gross misunderstanding of true monotheism. Nothing against Jesus – just all the more glory for God. So if you like biblical literalism…..mono= 1, tri = 3.

  • Gretchen

    “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”  When I am invited to an event because I’m respected, I continue to earn that respect by being respecting the people who invited me. I wish I was one of those people who were good at my verses, because there is actually a reference that if you are mature in your faith, when you are invited to one’s house or into one’s culture, you respect what they do. And, being mature in your faith, you should practice what St. Francis said. If I was laying prostrate in a mosque, I would be praying to my God-the father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, through Christ Jesus. What he’s talking about is respect. And you are really close-minded if you go back to the bad guys of Islam like Al Qaida. They are the white supremisists and the KKK of Islam, and you know that the former 2 always claimed to be “Christian”. BAH! I meant this to be a happy post. :S

  • Michelle

    “…denying that God is of the same nature that Christians do.”

    Does your Bible say that as a Christian you so know the nature of God that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong?

    “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” ~ Ecclesiastes 11:5

  • DR

    Brian you are entirely one-dimensional when it comes to anything with “Jesus”, “gay” or “Muslim” in it.  You believe it to be very simple and you believe you’ve found the answers you need. 

    I’m realizing that you’ve invested so much time and energy in your scriptural study that you are  entirely invested in what your studies have led you to believe, and those conclusions  lead you to believe that the answers you have are simple, rooted in Jesus, Biblically sound and therefore, “Truth”. .  The energy we’re expending in trying to get you to think more deeply is asking you to wander away from “the Truth”.  You need to allow yourself to go the places we’re inviting you to. The frustration I think some of us are feeling is because you are not allowing yourself to go there. 

  • DR

    I know a number of Muslims who celebrate Lent. 🙂 

  • DR

    The history of Christianity also enabled White Christians to justify keeping the Blacks drinking from separate drinking fountains and not going to school with their White kids. So. 

  • Many (most?) Protestant Evangelicals don’t celebrate Lent….and I seem to recall seeing news stories of ash smeared foreheads on national news outlets including pictures of Joe Biden with ashes on his forehead.

  • The history of my faith started long before the time of Jesus. The name Abraham comes to mind. Or Abram (First Father). Both of these names are titles once used in oral history. No one knows what his mother and father called him. God derives from the type of the Norse deities. Deity and  Deus derive from the same Aryan word as Zeus and Jupiter (Diu-pater). I have never met a person who wanted to argue about whether or not “Jesus is God” who could offer a clear idea of what such a combination of words could mean. Better to take off your shoes; you are on HOLY ground.

  • We had a similarly wonderful experience at an Iftar dinner a week ago sponsored by our local chapter of CAIR: Council on American Islamic Relations where our female minister from the UCC was the guest of honor and speaker for the event. Next time, I’m kneeling too.

  •  Infidels often use this name for Muslims. They may also refer to the Jesus Hustle or Papism.  But, I doubt that Jack is an infidel. Probably just a trifle puffed up.

  • Anonymous

    Respectfully, you’ve conflated the issues.   Regarding the word Allah, why is the moon symbol adopted by Muhammed, when this was the pagan marking used for centuries in pre-islamic tribes, and continued up until Muhammed violently conquered Mecca and Medina?    This is the same symbol used in conjunction with the same Kabba, named as the holiest site-  the same meteorite that was worshiped by pagans.  Their greatest of 360 dieties was called Allah.      In addition, if Christ gave a message of love, how can Muhammed be a prophet of the same God if he enslaved tribes, condoned rape, conquest, etc?    It’s well-documented that Muhammed purchased old testament stories from jewish scribes, which is fine, but they were adapted to fit a militant goal, and if followed chronologically in the Quran, continue to be more militant as time went on.    

  • The little sucker doesn’t frustrate me. Look at the perfect saying he’s chosen to contradict his own point. The Prophet is saying that salvation depends on submission to God. That is what the word Islam means primarily. It is not the name of a particular sect. The prophet is saying that if a person submits to God (which can only mean our higher power as best we understand him, since another persons understanding of God is no help to us inwardly), s/he will be saved. Nothing is said of a particular sect. Walk humbly, repent truly, accept God’s welcome faithfully. The Prophet speaks well of the “people of the book” and those who truly follow the teaching of “Jesus son of Mary”. He was no more an absolutist than was Jesus or Elijah or Moses. He seems to me to have been a prophet of God, and like us all, an imperfect human being. Repent and turn, submit to God!

  • BrianW

    I’m willing to always learn more, but on some beliefs I’m not going to compromise, one if them is believing that the god of the Muslim is the God of the Christian, or that Christ is not Divine. Just not going to change in that area. You either believe the essential fundamental doctrines of Christianity or you don’t. I agree some places you’re inviting me to go (compromising essential Christian doctrines) I’m not going. I have changed my beliefs in some non-essential items (i.e. a young earth/universe), but in essential doctrines – not gunna do it and not gunna apologize for it. I affirm the historical and essential doctrines of the Christian faith as deposited with the saints by God the Holy Spirit.

  • vj

    So…. do you put up a Christmas tree?  Originally a pagan symbol.  Do you eat Easter eggs? Pagan origins.  Do you clink glasses when toasting at a wedding etc? Pagan origins.  And yet, many Western Christians wouldn’t bat an eyelid at anyone doing these things while claiming to be Christian. 

    There may or may not be valid reasons to argue that praying alongside those who are praying to Allah is or is not the same as praying to the Christian triune Deity, but obsessing about the origins of symbols is not one of them.

  • Anonymous

    I actually don’t do any of those things vj, but don’t mind that other Christians do.   The bottom line is again, although we should love our Muslim brothers and sisters, Muhammed was not a prophet of the God of Abraham, weather he claimed so or not.  

  • The sad thing in all of this discussion is that the beauty of the moment that John shared has been lost in a bunch of knit-picking.  God was in the moment with John and I think God received a lot of glory by those circumstances John shared.  I’m afraid it probably breaks God’s heart when a bunch of his kids start quibbling over these things and miss the forest for the trees. 

    Thanks, John, for sharing this story.  I’m sorry that sharing the beauty of that moment and what you learned in that moment got hacked up by all these comments.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this so much, Chris Hyde.

  • Brian – you don’t have to change what you believe. But, you might understand your neighbor better and have greater insight of them if you listened more closely and looked more openly with an open heart and an open mind.

    In the verse you quoted, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good),” here is what I see: “If anyone desires a religion other than submission to the One true God, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost.” And this is different from Christianity how? It is only perceived to be different and perceived to be exclusionary by those who do not understand that the God of Abraham – Yahweh – is the same for all.

    You believe Ishmael is the son of Abraham, do you not? And God promised Abraham that his descendants would number the stars of the sky – yes? And Isaac went on to become the father of the Jewish nation and Ishmael went on to become the father of the Arab nation and God promised both that they would have great nations and so…..we have the Palestinian/Arab – Israeli conflict today. 

    Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael. Abraham is the patriarch of both. Trouble is, in Jewish and Mesopotamian Law of the day only legitimate sons were legally entitled to inheritance and/or when Abraham turned out (set free) Hagar and Ishmael the law of the day said they had no claim to Abraham’s inheritance. And we see how the truism of “Greed and the fear of losing is the root of all evil” continues to play out over millennia. How when we try to exclude “the other” so we can justify and rationalize how and why we don’t have to share or love or forgive or like or live next to or hire or rent to or marry or worship with ……we grieve God……and we break the greatest commandment and we lose. And how, in my seeing, we can believe all the “right” doctrine we want to and think we are in good with God and we can get a 100% of the answers right on the test but it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when we continue to fail the lab. Because if we fail the lab……we know we don’t really understand the text at all because we haven’t learned how to apply it.

    The lesson is this: God wants us to do what is right. Doing what is right is often counter to what is written in the law. This was the lesson to the Pharisees and found throughout the teachings of Jesus. Matthew 23:23 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

    Jesus made it simple Brian: The essential fundamental doctrine of Christianity is found in Luke 10: 25 -37.

    The Parable of the Good Samaritan 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”   26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”   28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c]and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’   36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”   Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

  • BrianW

    I support the we must know and understand thy neighbor, I have no problem with that at all.  I understand why John went to the mosque and to better understand Islam.  

    You stated,  “If anyone desires a religion other than submission to the One true God, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost. Differs from Christianity how?”  Well it differs little but that’s not what the Qu’ran says, it said submission to Islam.   Many verses in the Qu’ran can be subtly changed to be “Christianized”.  In fact there are verses that are virtually identical to the Bible.  It proves nothing of the Divine inspiration of the Qu’ran.

    The God of Abraham -Yahwee – is the God of all since there is no other God.  If the god of the Muslim is the God of the Christian, then God is the author of confusion, because their respective doctrines concerning God are different and at times opposed (i.e the Divinity of Christ).  It is either one or the other, not both.  It is not two separate ways to the same destination, it is two separate ways to two seperate destinations.    God does want us to “do right” but it will never, EVER contradict his written word.  He determines what is “right” not us -GOD does.  Matthew 23:23 doesn’t teach a lesson counter to what is written in the law, Jesus  said they NEGLECTED the more important matters of the law. God is not the author of confusion -Satan is.

    Now concerning Ishmael and Hagar.  If Abraham had believed God that his wife in her old age was going to give birth to a son, he would not have impregnated Hagar.  Abraham fathered Ishmael because of his lack of faith in God.  He took matters in his own hand, and fathered Ishmael and from him the entire Arab nation was born and the continual conflict to this day. 

    This is also not a true  “The essential fundamental doctrine of Christianity is found in Luke 10: 25 -37.” That is a practical application of a Christian doctrine, but it is not the “essential doctrine of Christianity”.  Christianity is comprised of essential doctrines (plural). 

  • Peet

    That’s where the conservative and liberal elements of Christianity diverge. I have heard a conservative pastor literally say the most important thing was converting people, above all else, by any means. And that ‘loving’ people was entirely secondary to getting them inside a church door. And on the liberal side, loving people, respecting them, allowing them to have their own beliefs without judgement, takes precedence over trying to compel them to become a Christian. For me, the division in religion is not between people who believe that Christ is God incarnate and people who don’t, but between people who exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and the rest of it, and those who are intransigent, judgemental, violent, and angry–regardless of the faith they profess.

  • RonF

    The point of your first paragraph is unclear to me.  What is it that you think I cannot see?

    As I understand it your comment regarding Muslim’s attitude towards the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is correct.  But I’m not sure how it’s germane to the point that even though Islam claims to worship the God of Abraham, that doesn’t mean the claim is correct according to Christian doctrine or that Christians can or should accept it.

  • B: “It proves nothing of the Divine inspiration of the Qu’ran.” 
    me: It disproves nothing of it either. It is a choice to see it this way.

    B: “If the god of the Muslim is the God of the Christian, then God is the author of confusion,…”
    me: No. We simply misunderstand, which is not God’s fault, but our own mortal, human, sinful, ego-centered blindness.

    B:”It is not two separate ways to the same destination, it is two separate ways to two seperate destinations.”
    me: Or it isn’t about a destination at all but a way of living here and now in relationship with each other and with the Almighty. And when we focus on the journey instead of the destination – of walking the right path –  we can’t help but end up in the right place.

    B: “[Abraham] took matters in his own hand[s]”
    me: Yep – he messed up. Doesn’t change that God promised both Isaac and Ishmael that they would both become fathers of great nations and that Genesis clearly says that God was with them. So, if God is not the author of confusion – you might want to take it up with God what he intended by promising two estranged half-brothers the same land. (My answer to that dilemma lies in my “lab” analogy above).

    And for further evidence in the text that we are all talking about the same God here – Hagar and/or Ishmael cries out to God and God has mercy on them and takes care of and reassures them in the dessert. So – even though Abraham messed up – more than once – So, the moral might be that when we as humans are given multiple opportunities to do the right thing and yet we fail each other, God still doesn’t fail us.

    B:’This is also not a true  “The essential fundamental doctrine of Christianity is found in Luke 10: 25 -37.” That is a practical application of a Christian doctrine, but it is not the “essential doctrine of Christianity”.  Christianity is comprised of essential doctrines (plural).’
    me: Soooooo, you are saying Jesus was missing something in his answer to the lawyer?

    As an aside: ever notice how everyone always takes the story of Abraham and Hagar for granted and never asks how Hagar felt about the whole thing. Did Hagar want to have sex with Abraham? Did she have a choice? Could this constitute rape? How did Hagar feel? Why do we take it for granted that it was OK for Sarah to insist that Abraham turn them out? Why didn’t he stand up to her? And why in all our years with our cabooses in the pew have we never heard a sermon on Hagar’s point of view? This is what constitutes the emerging field of Feminist Theology – where we can be sure whenever a woman is mentioned in the text …..something has been left out. These are the things I think about while I’m mowing the grass. Welcome to my brain.

  • You said, “Read through the Qu’ran and see if you think you see the God of Abraham there.”  My reply was: Just because one cannot see it does not mean it is not there – both literally on this particular point and in general regarding many other issues. Unwillingness and inability can block one’s ability to see – much like Balaam and the donkey.

    Just because Muslims deny the trinity does not mean that they deny God. Admittedly the concept of the trinity is a contortionist attempt to maintain monotheism with some caveats. They are making if then statements about God just like we are. Muslims: If there is only one true God – the God of Abraham –  then Jesus of Nazareth cannot also be God. Christianity: If Jesus is God incarnate and there is only one true God – the God of Abraham – then we have to revise our idea of what monotheism is. It all depends on one’s point of view.

    If the core of your belief is that there is only one God – the trinity is heresy and beyond reason (3 persons in 1).

    If the core of your belief is that Jesus is God but God is also Jesus’ father – then like Desi said to Lucy – you got some splainin’ to do.

    It is hubris on both our parts to claim we understand and have it more right than the other – a prideful trait we are taught in both our holy books to avoid.

    Or…..we could be a little more contemplative…..a little more mystical and admit in our human failing, in our limited ability in our attempt to define and explain and name God – we miss the mark and any attempt to put into words the Ineffable Mystery of the Divine will be grossly inadequate. John knows I have a thing for the Sufi mystics:

    “Do not praise your own faith exclusively so that you disbelieve all the rest. If you do this you will miss much good. Nay, you will miss the whole truth of the matter. God, the omniscient and the omnipresent, cannot be confined to any one creed, for he says in the Koran, wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah. Everybody praises what he knows. His God is his own creature, and in praising it, he praises himself. Which he would not do if he were just, for his dislike is based on ignorance.” ~ Ibn Arabi (12th -13th century Sufi mystic)

  • RonF

    I certainly do not know all the *works* of God.  But His *nature* is something that Christians have been discussing ever since Christianity started.  The Apostles’ Creed (from, IIRC the 3rd Century AD) states that God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit are all one and indivisible and have all existed from the beginning of time.  Do you hold, then, that there is no such thing as Christian doctrine or a Christian viewpoint of the nature of God?  If you deny Jesus’ divinity you deny that God is of the same nature as that which Christians believe He is.

  • RonF

    It also enabled other white Christians to tell those white Christians that they were wrong, and to justify their sacrifice of their own lives to stop them.

    Now that we’ve had our history lesson, I fail to see how this has anything to do with my point.  What in the history of the Christian faith justifies the cited statement?

  • RonF

    There’s plenty of other Imams that would back up BrianW’s interpretation.  Many of whom are blessing those who are killing Christians just for being Christians in Pakistan and many other countries around the world.  It is quite common for Muslim religious authorities to state that Christianity is NOT a monotheistic religion.

  • RonF

    “Ishmael went on to become the father of the Arab nation”

    “Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael”

    Says who?  Or are you arguing for the validity of the Qu’ran as divine revelation?

  • RonF

    John’s moment is not beautiful.  Should we seek to live in peace and harmony with those who believe other than we do?  Absolutely (not a philosophy you’ll find in the Qu’ran, BTW).  I see no problem in being in a mosque during prayer, nor in acting with respect while you’re there.  But that doesn’t mean that we should accept their claims regarding the equivalence of their God and our God.  When he did that he spoiled the moment.

  • BrianW

    How is it a “misunderstanding” between the Qu’ran and the Bible?  They are mutually exclusive, not a supplement to one another it is not “our own mortal, human, sinful, ego-centered blindness” that causes any misunderstanding, the texts are different Christy.  “A ” can not equaly non “A”. 

    Some of the message of Islam and Christianity have similarities (as do many religions with Christianity) but they are not the same in their entirety.  Islamic countries for the most part have no toleration at all with any beleif other than Islam andin fact if you’re non-Muslim, you can be killed. 

    C: “And when we focus on the journey instead of the destination – of walking the right path –  we can’t help but end up in the right place.”  There is only ONE PATH, “I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, no man comes unto the Father but by me”.  The journey is one laid down by Christ in the Bible, not Mohammed and the Qu’ran.  It is not by works of righteousness that he saves us, but by his mercy. You see religion is man’s attempt to find favor with God, while Christianity is God reconciling Himself to a sinful people through Jesus Christ – HUGE difference.

    God didn’t promise two half-brothers the same land, Isaac was promised the land more or less where Israel is now.  God showed mercy on Hagar and Ishmael, yes He did because He shows mercy on whom He wills.

    Jesus wasn’t missing anything in his answer to the self-righteous religious leaders, YOU’RE missing it.  He said they neglected the most important part of the law, not to foresake it, they were missing it, just like you Christy. 

    Now your last paragraph is indeed thoughful, the Bible has little to say “from Hagar’s viewpoint”.  She was essentially a slave, property of Abraham, thats how it was back then.  Sarah offered Hagar (her maidservent) to him, she din’t insist he father a child from her. I guess it would be subject of a new thread to discuss in depth.  I agree, woman were no where near equal to men in ancient societies, sheesh in mnay societies today there is still inequality.

  • Which is why I’m opposed to Religious Fundamentalism in all its Baskin Robbins flavors.

  • I pray that someday you will be able to look at all of God’s children and not be distracted by inculcated ideas of us and them and instead see that there is only us.

  • L.SS.

    this is so interesting.  have been having a lot of dialogues with muslims recently and so another piece of thought was welcome.

  • BrianW

    Not all people = God’s children.  Every human being does not equate to “God’s child”.  That is found nowhere in the Bible. If everyone is a “child of God” the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is of none effect, served no purpose since everyone is “God’s child”.  There has always been pople that are Gods children and those that aren’t.  Jesus went so far to say to people that came up to him “in that day” (the last day) “Haven’t we done marvelous works in your name? Jesus said to them, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you” Universalism is not a biblical principal. 

    We are created in His image (we all have a God consciousness), yet because of sin, our fellowship with God is broken.  We “know” there is a God, but for some people sin has so captivated their thoughts, heart and actions that they have utterly foresaken God.  For others, they use the opiate of the masses – religion – to find fellowship with God by trying to “do right” and be the best person they can.  In other words they try and work out thier righeousness.  Yet all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  We can not ever be “good enough” to merit fellowsip with God on our terms.  Fellowship with God is restored through God the Son – Jesus Christ.  When restored to fellowship with God from the inside, our outside life reflects that inward change.  Christianity starts from the inside out, religion attempst to work from the outside (good works) in. 

  • L.SS.

    ugh i misread the connections in your comment. i erased my mistake comment. but this is very a interesting connection anyway.

  • Peet

    Maybe he should have used “musselmen”

  • Diana A.

    Me too!

  • Hey John, great post. I appreciate your honesty and your respect for Muslims. I’m a bit disheartened by some of your readers who contend that Christians and Muslims worship a different God. If that’s so, then why do Arab Christians call God, “Allah” ? If that’s so, then why does the Quran teach that Mary, peace be upon her, was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, peace be upon him? If that’s so, then why did Reverend Calvin Butts say that if we’re being good Christians and good Muslims, I can’t tell if you are a Christian or a Muslim? Food for thought.

  • Diana A.

    “Not all people = God’s children. Every human being does not equate to ‘God’s child’. That is found nowhere in the Bible.”

    This attitude breaks my heart. It smacks of wanting to limit God’s love and wanting to limit our own obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    I believe that God is love. Love isn’t just something God does. Love is what God is. To the extent that we love one another, we are imitating our Father in Heaven. So when we withhold love from others, we are actively disobeying God. And when we imply that God does not love everyone (because not all human beings are God’s children), we are selling God short, and in fact, are slandering his name.

  • DR

    Did you actually just try to own someone *else’s* moment and have the last word on it, calling it something other than what he actually *experienced*? The arrogance in doing so is repulsive. I’m sure you are telling yourself that you’re in a “spiritual battle” with so many people disagreeing with you here so arguing with you is like arguing with any militant fundamentalist of any religion. I’m just glad in mine – Christianity – your perspectives won’t even be relevant in ten years (hopefully sooner).

  • DR

    I know that Brian and it’s why I’ve really never believed your claims of wanting to “learn”. I wanted to, you put on an air of “wanting to learn” but you’ve really not changed your position on anything substantial. Which was exactly my point. You’re not here to learn, you’re simply here to defend. It’s such a shame, all of this energy people have invested, I guess we all took you at your word. Hope that you and other conservatives are actually willing to consider opening your minds to the actual facts of the damage you do with comments like these, your consistent defensiveness of anyone who brings up how conservatives damage the GLBT community – that hope is something I always have and it’s almost always disappointing because just like you’ve said, “I’m not going”. It’s deceiving when you suggest that you’re open to it but you’re really not, you waste a lot of peoples’ time. I knew it inside, I just didn’t want to believe it. Good people get fooled. It’s not their fault. I’d give you props for being “honest” but your comment made me a little sick to my stomach.

  • Don Rappe

    The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not.

  • DR

    Um, actually no it was the African-American Christians who started that and drug the good white christians along who held on to Jim Crow until they were forced to let go of it legally. So….no (and MLK was hugely influenced by Ghandi).

    The point? The same bigotry that those Christians who supported institutional racism did so using the “history of the Christian faith” just like you’re justifying your own comments here. Repulsive? Absolutely. But thankfully people like you and Brian W who hold these kinds of beliefs and refuse to consider being wrong are becoming the minority and we just won’t have to deal with it much longer. God have mercy on you for the damage you do until then.

  • DR

    This is Bible school thinking. We as Christians also adopted the pagan Winter celebration which became our “Christmas”. If you’re going to apply this logic to one group, apply it to everyone.

  • DR

    You didn’t address the point. You have one set of rules for “pagan” as they apply to the Muslims but now seem OK that Christians did the same exact thing and from you, get a “get out of pagan free” pass. You’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

  • DR

    Brian would you please point out the people that cannot take advantage of salvation via the Cross of Jesus because they were not made in the image of God and loved unconditionally by Him? Please point out the specific group that you’re referring to here – those are the only people that are not “God’s children”.

  • DR

    It is so sad but it’s also terrifying to see someone so boldly type it out. It creeps me out, the unconsciousness of it coupled with the total, immersive belief that he’s right.

  • DR

    Well you, Brian and those men and women have a lot in common.

  • DR

    He (finally) admitted that he really isn’t open to changing his mind on anything essential so I think I’m done. It’s disappointed and I feel like a jerk for actually believing him but I knew down deep he wasn’t being entirely honest about being open to his mind and heart changing on “the essentials”. There’s too much to lose. And when you’re truly pursuing Jesus, you’re willing to lose everything. Including what you believe to be right. He’s just not going to do it.

  • Melody

    Asad, they can’t see the forest for the trees. They’re taking the Bible and the Quran way too literally, so it’s all about technicalities with them. You are right, they are grossly missing the point and blinded by prejudice.

  • John Shore

    Ron: I didn’t say a thing about “their claims regarding the equivalence of their God and our God.” If you’re going to complain about something someone said, at least come anywhere NEAR getting right what they actually said.

  • the story from Hagar’s point of view? Wow your brain works quite a bit like mine. You are right, no one really considers Hagar in the story at all, other then she birthed Ishmael. She was just a servant after all, used by Sarah and Abraham as a surrogate parent, then tossed out on her kiester with the kid when Sarah gets jealous. I’d have to go back and look, but I don’t think the woman is ever mentioned again or what her fate eventually was.

    For the record, I’ve done the same pondering with Job’s wife…poor woman.

  • Excellent responses, both Asad and Melody. Thank you.

  • Exactly, Chris. Exactly this.

    Openness is the pathway for receiving the Divine…..in any given moment…… anywhere, anytime. God can and does break through closed doors. And when God does, we find that the door was locked from the inside.

    Our closed hearts and minds can’t keep God out, because God will never stop drawing all of Creation back to Godself, but our sense of self, our certainty, our ego and our pride, our closed hearts and minds – they surely can delay the encounter.

    Namaste, Chris. Blessings in your work and on your journey.

  • Christy

    And those Imams would be wrong and would represent the worst of Islam, Ron, just like the KKK represents the worst of Christianity….and moderate Muslims speak out against them all the time.

    R: “It is quite common for Muslim religious authorities to state that Christianity is NOT a monotheistic religion.”

    And it is quite common for (the most conservative) Christian religious authorities to state that Islam is NOT a monotheistic religion.

    The arguments made here about Islamic intolerance are the same arguments being made here about Christian intolerance. It is two sides of the SAME COIN. It is the sin of pride and our own inflated egos that allows us to compare the best of our own tradition with the worst of another and be completely blinded to not seeing how BOTH traditions have the exact same components: Radicals, Fundamentalists, Conservatives, Moderates, Liberals, Reformers, and Mystics and those who are only loosely identified with the faith. To use any SINGLE group to define the WHOLE religion is inaccurate. It would be like saying the Amish represent ALL of Christianity or Orthodox Judaism represents ALL of Judaism. And it would be wrong. So those of us who know better are standing up and saying, “No. I’m sorry. Very respectfully, you are mistaken. And here is why.” A more accurate statement would be “It is common for the most conservative fundamentalist Muslim religious authorities to state that Christianity is not a monotheistic religion.” The moderate and liberal and reforming and mystical branches of Islam would not agree with this. They see three Abrahamic faiths all worshipping the God of Abraham. And it is the moderate and liberal Christians who see and understand this and the moderate and liberal Jews who see and understand this and all of us are trying to get the Conservative elements of our own faiths as well the rest of the world to understand that the most radical and fundamentalist and conservative leaders and elements of our respective faiths do not represent of the WHOLE of our faiths.

    Iran doesn’t tolerate Christianity because it is a Totalitarian Theocratic state – not because it is Islamic. If we had a Totalitarian Theocratic state in America based on Fundamentalist Christianity as the accepted religion – Islam would not be tolerated – but neither would my own practice of Christianity because it doesn’t match the most conservative elements of Fundamentalist Christianity. It is not a function of the particular religion. It is a function of INTOLERANCE and AUTHORITARIANISM. It is religious self-righteousness and piety run amok. …which is always born out of ego……expressed in the need for power and control. And we see factions of it in America like in Lower Manhattan with the Cordoba House and in Murfreesboro, TN where the good folks of that community are protesting the building of a mosque in their neighborhood – many of whom worship in Christian congregations nearby. This is piety and ego and intolerance run amok. Same. Same.

    Those green-scarved and arm banded younger generation of Iranians who protested against their government earlier this year bear striking similarities to Progressive and Emergent Christian church youth and leaders today seeking to reform – or at least get a seat at the table with – Traditionalists, Evangelicals and Conservatives. They, like the youth in Iran, are saying, “You don’t represent all of Christianity/Iran/Islam. I am Christian/Iranian/Muslim too and your exclusionary claim to be solely representative of Christianity/Iran/Islam is in error. We are here; we will be heard; and we want change.” And traditionalists push back to suppress the “other” because the ruling class likes the status quo and rarely gives up their privilege willingly.

    Editors Note: capital letters are added for emphasis and represent passion, not anger.

  • Christy

    😉 Thanks sdgalloway.

  • Best commenters ever. I LOVE this crowd.

  • B: “Jesus wasn’t missing anything in his answer to the self-righteous religious leaders, YOU’RE missing it. He said they neglected the most important part of the law, not to foresake it, they were missing it, just like you Christy. ”

    Brian, please help me understand what I am missing. Please make it very clear. I genuinely want to know.

    Here’s what I see when I look at Jesus’ criticism of the self-righteous leaders of his day and what they were missing:

    They followed the rules. They kept the commandments. They understood the letter of the law while entirely missing the spirit of the law. They were legalistic, dogmatic, and lacked compassion. They couldn’t see beyond their own point of view. Like in I Corinthinas 13. You can do all those great things with the passion of Christ and in Christ’s name and for the glory of God, but if they are done without love – the unconditional compulsion of genuine love for others that so overwhelms us because of our own fulfill-ed-ness born out of our deep understanding of God’s love for us – they are worthless. The Pharisee’s law keeping was worthless because they neglected the weightier matters of **inner transformation** like in the beatitudes: humbleness, meekness, patience, temperance. They were full of themselves. They were pious. They were self-righteous. They were certain of their more holy countenance before God. They were self-centered rather than other-centered. They compared and judged. They worried about appearances rather than true inner transformation. They were passionate in their worship, in their religiosity before God, in singing God’s praises and proclaiming how wonderful and mighty their God is, but they were hard hearted toward their fellow human beings and acted badly and unjustly toward them. Ego does this to us. Ego. Pride. Sin. And these blocked their ability to truly put God and others before themselves….which is the essence of compassion. So they may have kept the law by making sacrifices in the temple for their sins, they may have been forgiven under the law – but they never really repented (turned, changed, became new, experienced death to the inner self, the inner ego, the little I) from their old ways of being and were never transformed into a new way of being…..and living…. in their relationship with God and their relationship with others.

    And in the same way this is what many of us see is at work within Conservative Christianity. For many within this branch of the faith, it is more right (using Jesus example from Luke 14) to believe that work should not be done on the Sabbath than it is to pull a drowning child from a well. That drowning child in modernity is: the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the sick, the war-torn, the enemy, the marginalized, the oppressed, the hated, the maligned, the mistreated, the made fun of – the least of these – whom Jesus said, if we pay attention, is Christ himself. How we treat these, he said in Matthew 25 in the parable of the sheep and the goats, is how we treat Jesus. He is making it a point of saying how we treat others, especially those we don’t like or who make us feel uncomfortable or even angry, especially those whom we don’t believe deserve it but truly who are the ones who need love and compassion and mercy and grace the most, especially when when no one is looking or keeping track (like on Sunday morning in church) **this** shows our true colors. This tells God and others what is really in our heart, who. we. are. There are many quotes about character being born out of doing what is right when no one is looking and when you will never get credit for it.

    It seems to many of us that these Christians believe it is more right to convince someone they need to believe the right list of things *about* Jesus than it is to be transformed into a new way of living and acting as he taught us to…..into a new way of being…..by following Jesus in how we live in relationship with God and in our relationship with others. It is about the transformation and the relationship, and it is in this they miss the spirit of the gospel …..becoming rule followers and detail enforcers …..lacking inner transformation…. still putting the letter of the law before the Spirit.

    What do you see I am missing and what do you see the Pharisees were missing?

  • Thank you for this, Diana A. I agree.

  • Amen. Those that have ears, let them hear.

  • RonF

    why do Arab Christians call God, “Allah” ?

    Because people tend to call God “God” in whatever language they speak. The word “God” isn’t reserved for the Christian God.

    If that’s so, then why does the Quran teach that Mary, peace be upon her, was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus,

    The fact that the Qu’ran is in accordance with the Bible in some respects doesn’t make the God of Islam the God of Christians or the God of Abraham.

    If that’s so, then why did Reverend Calvin Butts say that if we’re being good Christians and good Muslims, I can’t tell if you are a Christian or a Muslim?

    Maybe Rev. Butts – whoever he is – has an odd and inaccurate point of view. Perhaps Rev. Butts’ concept of what a good Muslim is doesn’t agree with other people’s viewpoint of what a good Muslim is. Or the same for Christians. I don’t know what authority or knowledge the man has.

  • vj

    So, where’s the ‘like’ button when you need it?

    Oh well, LIKE LIKE LIKE 😉

  • RonF

    Sorry about that, John. The debate here seems to be centering on whether the Islamic claim that they worship the God of Abraham is valid for Christians to accept. Pastor Bob seemed to:

    “Jesus prayed to the God of Abraham. That’s the same God Muslims pray to. When I pray with Muslims, I pray as a Christian. Christians and Muslims pray to the same God.”

    And you seemed to accept this. If I’m wrong about your acceptance of that statement then please let me know and I’ll be glad to apologize. But if you do accept that statement I’d like to know on what basis – other than the simple claim that’s been put forward. Because if you do accept it absent any justification in the Bible or in the patristic writings or in any generally accepted Christian doctrine then I personally don’t see Christian beauty in the moment.

  • DR,

    You think change happens immediately? I don’t “defend” anyone the hurts another person by word or deed. I do take issue when all evangelicals or conservative Christians are thrown into the same pot and labelled homophobic, hateful and bullies. That is just not the case. I said I’m not going to change concerning the essential doctrines of Christianity. I have noted areas that are non-essential I have changed my position. Look DR, I have been a believer for over 30 years and my beleifs have been formed from 30 years of Bible study, prayer, guidance from God the Holy Spirit, through my life’s experiences and through the life experinces of others. I simply don’t change my beliefs becuase of emotionalism, a compelling argument or reletivism. It takes time DR, have some patience, takes time to teach on old dog new tricks…….

  • DR,

    What beliefs specifically are you referring too DR? Ron nor myself have never claimed we’re 100% right and could never be wrong. This is a blog where we state opinions and beliefs and not all agree with you DR and when we or they don’t agree with you, that doesn’t by default mean they are hateful, bigoted, hurtful, narrow-mided, arrogant, ego-centric, blinded, closed-minded, etc. Are all your opinions and beliefs “right”? Is it even minutely possible you could be wrong, is that even possible?

  • Diana,

    O yes, God is love, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The love of God was personified by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. God doesn’t force us to love Him, but because of our sin, that fellowship has been broken. God never stopped loving us, but sin breaks our love to him. Only through Jesus Christ can that love be restored and fellowship reconciled. That is the method God chose. We can’t do it on our own, we can never live a perfect life, because ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Christ who knew no sin, became sin for us, so we may be made the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. Diana aside from faith and the lordship of Christ in your life, your fellowship to God can never be restored. The key, the only key is God the Son – Jesus Christ through his blood atonement for the sins of his people, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. In the Old Testament God’s people sacrificed a spotless lamb for their sins (a picture of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, crucified on the cross for all the sins of all his people)

    God’s way is through Jesus Christ.

  • People, because of their sin nature, want nothing to do with God or they try and seek God on their terms, not on his terms. ALL people can “take advantage” of the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, by faith. In Jesus day the Jews took issue with that, but salvation is available to ALL PEOPLE through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • DR

    Brian our discussions have been interesting. But it’s time to wipe the dust from my sandals, as they say, and move on. Best of luck to you.

  • DR

    Again, my best to you but I’m going to apply my energies elsewhere. I hope you find whatever it is that you’re looking for. We’re all ultimately responsible for the Truth we open our minds and hearts to.

  • DR

    So beautifully said.

  • I believe that DR’s point is that using the argument of “historically the church has believed this” doesn’t hold much water with a lot of us nor form the basis for a rational argument since historically the church has made a lot of errors in their application of scripture particularly whenever it has been used to malign, denigrate, or oppress another. “We’ve always done it this way” is not a sufficient reason for the modern generation to continue a practice or hold a belief. In light of new information and experiences we are willing to see anew and change our perspective.

    From the Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck:

    “To develop a broader vision we must be willing to forsake….our narrower vision. In the short run it is more comfortable not to do this – to stay where we are, to keep using the same microcosmic map, to avoid suffering the death of cherished notions. The road to spiritual growth, however, lies in the opposite direction. We begin by distrusting what we already believe, by actively seeking the threatening and unfamiliar, by deliberately challenging the validity of what we have previously been taught and hold dear. The path to holiness lies through questioning everything.”

    Peck goes on to say, “There is no such thing as a good hand me down religion. To be vital, to be the best of which we are capable, our religion must be a wholly personal one, forged entirely through the fire of our questioning and doubting in the crucible of our own experience of reality.”

    The Road Less Traveled: “…for all that is given up even more is gained…..The pain of giving up is the pain of death, but death of the old is birth of the new. The pain of death is the pain of birth….For us to develop a new and better idea, concept, theory or understanding means that an old idea, concept, theory or understanding must die…..it is abundantly clear that this lifetime is a series of simultaneous deaths and births. ‘Throughout the whole of life one must continue to learn to live,’ said Seneca two millennia ago, ‘and what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.’ …..the farther one travels on the journey of life, the more births one will experience, and therefore the more deaths – the more joy and the more pain.”

    Peck says that “a life of wisdom must be a life of contemplation combined with action.” And “Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”

    I have found Peck’s words to be abundantly true.

  • DR

    Yes! Exactly my point! 🙂

  • Thanks, you too

  • Christy,

    I never said the “church” historically believed such and such, I said Christianity and when I use the term “historically believed” that is meant to be understood as essentially for all of Christian history, not during just the 20th-21st centuries, going back to the Apostles and earliest church fathers. I don’t believe something because “that’s how its been or thats what the minister says” I search the Scriptures and pray to make sure these things are so.

    Peck’s words may ring abundantly true for you, but I would rather put my faith in and receive my life’s philosophy from the words inspired by God himself as contained in the Bible.

    I’ll quote Alaxander Hamilton, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.

  • DR,

    Never give up on someone DR – NEVER. May the Divine bestow boundless love on you, take care yourself.

  • John Thompson

    Seems to me that unless change must be in the direction that you think it should be then it is not change at all. That a person who has some bedrock beliefs that are not yours is therefore biased and not thinking.

    Are there any beliefs that are to be held to no matter what? Or are we to be pitied because we are looking for certainty?

  • DR

    Brian I’m just somebody on the Internet, it really doesn’t matter if I don’t believe you’re interested in learning or changing (and I don’t). I’m sure you’re a nice man but it’s been months and months of you offering the same defenses and asking the same questions that people have provided to you in such a variety of ways. I don’t have the time for it anymore. This is is a very difficult thing for conservatives to do, there’s a lot to lose and most of them just don’t do it. So life goes on and God willing, the generation coming up is going to make the changes that the vulnerable need, it seems clear that they will. If you don’t? Then that’s on you. But it breaks my heart to see really good, decent people here invest hours in offering really thoughtful responses to you and you either ignoring them entirely, changing the subject or offering non-answers that don’t even acknowledge what they’ve written. And then outright state you’ve no interest in changing anything you believe fundamentally when in previous comments, you’ve led us all to believe you were here to grow, change and learn.

    It makes me sad to think we’ve all invested so much time but the one saving point is that a lot of people do read and perhaps, God had something in mind for them. I hope so.

  • DR

    John if those “bedrock beliefs” cause people to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ and/or are part of the reason why some kids kill themselves? They need to change. It’s pretty simple.

  • i learned from a Muslim student of mine, that a lot of Muslims say that those are just people USING Islam to justify their antiquated cultural customs … that the real Islam is supposed to adjust to the times and evolve and that the true Jihad is the struggle to think and act how Allah would want us to … and … well, kind of a lot like what many people think about Christianity, i guess.

  • John Thompson

    Even Jesus believed and said things that caused people to not follow him. So that can not be the reason to not have core beliefs.

  • John Thompson

    Even Jesus believed and said things that caused people to not follow him. So that can not be the reason to not have core beliefs. Are you saying that you have no core or basic beliefs?

  • Diana A.


  • Diana A.

    No, change does not happen immediately in most cases. We who are human may give up on you, but God never will, anymore than he gives up on anyone else.

  • Diana A.

    Thank you, Christy!

  • DR

    Oh I see. Jesus is an excuse. That’s really something, it’s so shocking that it’s hard to see reasonable people type that kind of thing. I don’t recall Jesus ever telling a gay child that he better change or else he’s condemned to eternal hell like the conservative christians like to offer. Or that Muslims go straight to hell if they’ve ever even heard of Jesus. Thankfully He stands purely despite your perversion of His Words but wow, it’s always a punch in the gut to watch those kinds of things actually get written. Wow.

  • DR

    Where in the world am I saying that I have no core beliefs? That is so pulled out of the air that I don’t even know how to respond.

  • DR

    There was no debate until you actually started it. John simply posted about a lovely experience he had (which you’ve now clarified was not a “beautiful moment”, it must have been something else. Maybe John was high on that Muslim weed we hear so much about!

  • DR

    That’s right. God bless Brian W!

  • Jack Heron

    Here’s the way I see it: as a Christian, I naturally see Christianity as a better route to God than Islam (because if I didn’t, I would be a Muslim rather than a Christian). But just because I find Christianity to have more theological merit than Islam, that doesn’t mean I have to think Islam has no merit. We have a lot in common, and we agree about a lot of key questions regarding God. It seems entirely reasonable to pray together with Muslims, just as we might pray together with those who have a different take on Christianity.

  • Ah but did Jesus then turn around and sanction them to hell for not accepting his teaching? No He simply continued to tell the message of compassion, generosity and self sacrifice, and demonstrated it so frequently.

    It also seems that those who turned away from Jesus’s teachings were not willing to give something up, things like religious dogma, position or possessions, in exchange for something less tangible but of greater worth; love for neighbor, a greater understanding of the true message of God, and a better grasp of the concept that the stuff we have and hold are of less value then we’ve long assumed.

  • Melody

    You nailed it, Jack. Beautifully said.

  • Diana A.

    I love this. Thank you, Jack!

  • Diana A.

    So true.

  • John Thompson

    Here is the way I see it. All the early Christians had to do was burn a pinch of incense to the emperor and say he was lord and they could have lived. Millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ could have been spared torture and death if they had only understood that there are many ways to God. I guess they were grossly misinformed. I am not saying that we treat others as enemies. But what is a Christian? I do not accept your notion that it is just another variation of mans attempts to understand God. Our faith is Gods revelation of Himself to us. That God came in the flesh in the person of Jesus is the historic faith. This is what men and women have sacrificed, lived for and given their lives for. Have there been those who claimed the name of Christ and did not (or do not) live up to that life – yes. Have there been those who have claimed the name of Christ and were not believers – again yes. But this failure does not negate the truth.

    That is what I am asking about core beliefs. What are you willing to not just die for but what will you endure torture and the loss of all you have? What is it that you believe is true?

  • DR

    John, would you please point out where Jack said that Christianity is “just another variation of mans attempt to understand God”?

    You’ve consistently demonstrated a pattern of taking a comment and then inserting your own meaning and claiming it as something the other person in the dialogue has said. I’ve seen you do that twice now. I’m not sure if you’re reading defensively or you aren’t able to understand what people are offering you but consider that kind of thing doesn’t set up really productive dialogue.

  • Jack Heron

    I don’t understand you, John. How does ‘other beliefs have merit’ correspond to ‘all beliefs are equal and Christianity is just another way’? I believe God revealed himself in Christ and that this supreme revelation has never been repeated – but why then must I say that all other attempts to reach God are worthless, never even getting off the ground?

    There is one way to God: Christ. He is the way, the truth and the light. Note that that sentence did not at any point include the word ‘Christianity’.

  • Stephen Duplantis

    No such thing as a gay child, DR–

  • DR

    Well, children and teenagers who are gay disagree with you Stephen and they get the last word on who they are. And when they kill themselves as a result of your condemnation of who they are, their blood is on your hands.

  • Diana A.

    Well, there’s certainly a such thing as straight children, Stephen. I’ve had crushes on guys for as long as I can remember–long before I even entered Kindergarten. Moreover, most people who know that they are gay have stories about realizing at a very young age that they were “different” from those around them. I agree that one’s sexuality is still in formation during childhood, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t distinct “leanings.”

  • This was in response to Don Rappe’s comment: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not.”

  • Melody

    Congratulations, Stephen. You just made the single most ignorant, misguided comment I will likely read today. Way to go.

  • Stephen Duplantis

    Thank you! I didn’t know you were capable of comprehension in your condition. You should read some of my other stuff–you might catch a clue!

  • Melody

    Oops, forgot to mention random, presumptuous and arrogant. Since you know me SO well as to be able to declare me in a “condition,” whatever that means.

  • Diana A.

    I’ve seen people get blocked from commenting on this site who behaved with more basic kindness and decency than you’re currently demonstrating.

  • Hmm. Odd how Stephen’s not responding any more, isn’t it?

  • Melody

    Don’t worry, he’ll be back, unhappy to say. He wrote that earlier comment two days ago. I’m not at all hurt by what he said to me (he probably would have said it to someone else anyway), but it never ceases to amaze me how blatantly rude people can be.

  • I meant I had blocked him. Sorry you had to put up with him at all.

  • DR

    What is her condition? I’m fascinated. Do tell.

  • DR

    Melody, I’d bet a month’s salary that Stephan is repressing some homosexual tendencies. He’s too angry, it’s not even in the realm of reasonable or even righteous anger. He’s almost violently angry. So creepy.

  • Inter faith dialogue achieves it’s most positive results when and where there is genuine reciprocity. Perhaps a Good Friday observance would be a good start. While we may worship the same God in concept, we certainly have our differences as well. Loving our neighbor means being honest about our differences, standing up for mutual tolerance and if this cannot be achieved, learning to brush the dust from our shoes and walk in the opposite direction. Have the courage to take a stand for your faith, your values and respect those who act with human good will in their hearts and towards others.

  • Melody

    Why do you persist in calling them mahometans? That’s like calling Jews Hebrews.