Recently, I read in The Times a guest columnist's perspective regarding bridge-building between Muslims and Christians. While establishing good relationships with Muslims is important, it must never be at the expense of the most important thing: telling the truth about "who Jesus is."
Yes, there is such a thing as absolute truth. It is inaccurate and misleading to speak about "that's your truth" or "that's truth for you" or "let's agree to disagree."
This statement — Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and the only hope for eternal life — is truth for all or it's not truth for any. What say you?
Jesus said "... go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Calling Muslims "brothers and sisters" to Christians may sound nice but it creates confusion, and it is inaccurate. A Muslim may own the store where I shop, be my neighbor or my golfing friend.
Moreover, while Muslims have value because they are made in God's image and because Jesus died for them, they are not my brother or sister, a term which Scripture reserves for fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Islam teaches that Christians are infidels and, if unwilling to be converted to Muhammad's way, are worthy of death. Rather than admiring the prayer regiment of Muslims, I am burdened that they are praying to a false god. Muslims understand we don't worship the same God. One would think Christian pastors would grasp that as well.
While "building bridges" may be a pleasant way to state an opinion, it creates confusion when Christian leaders are not clear about the actual differences between Christianity and other world religions and cultic groups. What would be the basis of bridge-building with a group that does not acknowledge Jesus as God, has no respect for His supreme sacrifice, and is unwilling to permit Christian worship?
While we should be good neighbors to people of all beliefs, we must never confuse loving someone with not telling them the truth in love.
A church in Memphis recently demonstrated this miscommunication by loaning their church facilities to a Muslim congregation. Someone said it was "the Jesus thing to do." Actually, that was not the Jesus thing to do. The Jesus thing to do would have been to tell those Muslims that Jesus is God in the flesh and that eternal life and forgiveness of sin can only be discovered in Him, the one true God.
Zeal for God's righteousness (truth) consumed Jesus, and He was not afraid to stand up against those who opposed and dishonored his father.
While Quran burning is not the correct thing to do, loaning a Christian worship center to a Muslim congregation to worship their false god, Allah, or participating in joint religious practices with cultic groups is not the correct thing to do, either.
Christians must realize that our task is first to tell the truth, which is love.
The Christian faith teaches that the only way to know God and be forgiven of sin and to experience eternal life in heaven is by accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. The Bible says, "Salvation is found in no one else (save Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Keep in mind this is not narrow thinking; Jesus is the only way for everyone in the world.
Political correctness should never trump the truth of Holy Scripture.
"Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist - he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also." I John 2:22-23.
It is for additional emphasis that John says again, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
It is no wonder that so many in our culture today are confused given the mixed messages that come from some Christian pulpits regarding the truth about Jesus. It is shameful that some who call themselves Christian ministers apparently do not have the courage to stand for the word of God and are so ready to compromise the truth of Christianity in order to be accepted by Muslims who actually laugh at their weakness of faith.
I wish politicians and religious leaders would get it right. It is incorrect to say, "We are all God's children." Actually, we are not. We are all God's "creation." The Bible is very clear about who the children of God are: "Yet to all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
Muslims are not my brothers and sisters; to be a spiritual member of God's redeemed family (the Body of Christ) requires faith in Jesus Christ, as Lord. This fact is denied by Muslims.
Islam worships a false god, written about in a false book, founded by a false prophet. I could never be involved with and certainly never worship with those who do not accept Jesus as God.
I'm all for knocking down walls and building bridges but never at the expense of compromising Christianity for "political correctness." How about you?
In former days tolerance meant accepting a person's right to have different opinions. Today, tolerance has come to mean accepting as truth the opinions of others. In other words, I'm called narrow, intolerant and unenlightened if I don't accept as truth what you say is truth.
Personally, I'll never abide that. I'll stand with Paul, Jude, Peter and, of course, Jesus. How about you?
After all, in eternity what will matter the most is not your bridge-building but your truth-telling!
The Rev. Tom Smiley is senior pastor at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville.