The Protestant state church in the Rhineland has issued a statement saying that Christians should not try to evangelize Muslim immigrants. It maintains that the Great Commission does not mean Christians should try to convert others to their faith. This, despite the phenomenon of more and more Muslim immigrants becoming Christians, thanks in part to the efforts of the independent Lutheran church (SELK).
One of Germany’s largest Protestant regional churches has come under fire from other Christians for speaking out against efforts to convert Muslims just as tens of thousands of refugees from the Islamic world are streaming into the country.
In a new position paper, the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland says the passage in the Gospel of Matthew known as the Great Commission — “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” — does not mean Christians must try to convert others to their faith.“A strategic mission to Islam or meeting Muslims to convert them threatens social peace and contradicts the spirit and mandate of Jesus Christ and is therefore to be firmly rejected,” the paper entitled “Pilgrim Fellowship and Witness in Dialogue with Muslims” argues. . . .
This new approach to the Great Commission has come under criticism even from within Rudolph’s church. Comments about it on her blog are mostly negative. “This new understanding of mission … excludes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It mixes up law and Gospel by arguing that a certain ethical behavior amounts to missionary work,” wrote one pastor.
Another mission official for the Rhineland church said the document seemed to give up the very idea of spreading the Christian faith. “I base my life on the fundamental truth of the Gospel,” Pastor Christoph Noetzel told the independent Christian news service Idea. “I’d like to do it in the future as well, without it being relativized by my church.”
Notice how confusing law and Gospel is a critique that carries weight even among liberal Lutherans!