The movie put out by Mel Gibson two and a half year ago stimulated a lot of interfaith heat. And now, we have another interfaith controversy with the Pope himself at it’s epicentre.
When it comes to Jesus and/or Christianity we seem to be going from one fitful controversy to another – a bit like the proverbial birth pangs.
The earlier cartoon controversy and now this present one suggests to me that the person of Muhammad and what Muslims have made of him might be the greatest barrier to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me explain why.
First, I find it highly significant that Muhammad has inserted himself directly into the Muslim creed which goes as follows: "There is no God but Allah and **Muhammad is his messenger**".
Second, the evidence from the Koran and the Hadith with respect to (among other things) the change in the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Mecca and with respect to Allah's permission for Muhammad to have unlimited number of wives as against four for all other believers clearly indicates that Allah is very much a respecter of this person and even bends his own divine will to accommodate Muhammad's whims and wishes.
Therefore, wherever Islam becomes dominant via political, economic or military means it is not difficult to understand how the person of Muhammad then comes to function as an absolute show stopper on the preaching of the Gospel of the Son of God (Mark 1:1).
N.T. Wright has stated on a number of occasions in his writings that the gospel which the Apostle Paul preached was “Jesus is Lord and not Caesar”. Isn’t that partly or even greatly why early Christians suffered so much under Rome?
Similarly, the message that needs to go out now is “Jesus is Lord and not Muhammad”. What the Pope did was clumsily and indirectly hint at the second part of this message without addressing the first:”Jesus is indeed Lord”. We need both clauses.
We need both clauses but this is becoming ever more difficult to express.
In fact i had blogged about this very point back when the cartoon controversy was upon us.
In our day we have the force of secularism in the West which is allied with political correctness. Misguided notions of tolerance are having a stifling effect on the preaching of Christ.
Will it be a force as strong as Islam in this regard?
Yet, despite areas of incompatibility it is still possible that Western secularism and Islam will find in this, the stifling of Christian preaching, their common ground and become united in more vigorous enmity against Christianity.
Have we not all heard the saying : "Politics makes strange bedfellows" ? It is true. The danger is real but I hope this does not happen.
UPDATE : Get Religion assures us that the English translation of the German utterances of the Pope should have been rendered as "bad and inhumane" as opposed to "evil and inhuman" which casts a slightly different shadow.
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