Thursday, May 13, 2010

Encounter with a pastor teaching about Islam

I was told to expect this, but the actual experience is a disappointing confirmation of the illness of our mainline churches.  No wonder they are in decline. 

The assistant pastor of a local mainline church is planning a series of classes on Islam.  The announcement says that the History Channel series “Inside Islam” will be the centerpiece of these classes.  The pastor indicated to one of the parishioners that he has not yet viewed the History Channel videos, yet the content announcement has already been made.

I called the pastor to offer some additional information that may be helpful to his class.  I received the quickest rejection of assistance I’ve ever received on any topic.  He proclaimed (“bloviated” I think is the operative word) that he has been studying Islam for 26 years.  He has more information on the topic then he can possibly use.  He needs a rest from his information overload.  He knows there are two sides to the issue, and he is going to present objective material and take it right down the middle.  I thought I would take one stab at conversation by mentioning Joel Richardson’s , “The Islamic Anti-Christ”, a current book that surely a Christian dedicated to teaching about Islam would remember. His reply:  I’ve read so many I don’t recall.   (His underlying message to me: “I know where your reactionary ass is coming from so go stuff a sock in it”.)  All righty then.

His dismissal of my offer was troubling on several levels.  First, I find his “middle of the road” approach troubling coming from a man who represents a religion that is totally disrespected and under siege by the religion he is teaching about.  I find it troubling that he has closed his mind to the potential of new information.  I find it troubling that he seemed so burned out by his past endeavors on this topic.  I find it troubling that he has not viewed the material he plans to show, and in fact, that he plans to show that particular material (the History Channel series on Islam) which in many ways misrepresents the traditional orthodox Islamic ideology.  For example, it portrays the God of Islam and the God of Christianity to be the same God – oh what a pity we don’t all pray to that same God together, etc.

Back to reality, that pastor is the personification of what is going on in mainline churches with regard to Islam.  “Islam is super-duper at its core if only there weren’t those pesky radicals.  And only if there weren’t these pesky non-Muslims, those darned intolerant racist bigots who try to portray Islam in a bad light.  Shucks, we need to take the middle road and avoid the extremes because we really don’t want to offend anyone.  We will take the middle road between Satan and Jesus, too, just in case one is right and one is wrong.”

From my perspective, if only we didn’t have burned out pastors in our churches attempting to teach about Islam.  If only our churches  weren’t overcome by the same politically correct, middle-of-the-road moral equivalency-loving blather as the rest of our culture.

On the positive side, here is a suggested outline for teaching about the Islamic Threat in our churches, for those who care to teach the reality:

Proposed Islamic Threat Curriculum

I. Why Islam matters:

A. History

B. Numbers

C. Actions

D. Intent

E. Consequences

II. Tendencies of our culture

A. Judging vs. vigilance and discernment

B. Political correctness vs. truth

C. Use of labels to intimidate, discredit and silence: bigot, racist, intolerant

D. Cultural diversity and morality, moral equivalency, amorality

III. World religions

A. Numbers

B. Growth rates

C. Sources and means of getting new adherents

D. Distinctions based on world region

IV. Mohammad

V. Qur’an

A. The source

B. Two sections:

  • Comparison with the two parts of the Bible
  • Abrogation
  • Significance

VI. Allah

A. Origin

B. Nature

C. Comparison with the God of Jews and Christians

VII. Noteworthy features of Islam:

A. Merely a religion or all encompassing ideology?

  • Political
  • Military
  • Legal - Sharia
  • Social

B. Source of Islam

C. Sharia

D. Taqiyya

E. Dhimmis

F. Kafirs

G. Jihad

VIII. Moderate Islam: Questions about …

A. “religion of peace”,

B. “moderate Muslims”

C. “hijacked by a few radicals”

D. “no compulsion”

E. Jihad = “inner struggle”

F. Notable “moderate Muslims

G. “Sudden Jihad syndrome

H. How “moderate Muslims” support and promote the cause of Islam

IX. Attitudes toward west, people of the book, Jews and Christians

A. Historical events; crusades

B. Quick time line of Islamic resurgences

C. Current events

X. Comparisons and contrasts to Christianity

A. Genealogical roots of Mohammad and Jesus from biblical perspective

B. Methods of promoting:

  • Teaching/indoctrination
  • Evangelizing/coercion

C. Contrasts of Mohammad and Christ

D. Salvation

E. End times interpretations

  • Mahdi, Antichrist, Messiah
  • Polar opposites (Joel Richardson)

XI. The Islamic Threat

A. How significant?

B. What perpetuates it?

C. What if we do nothing different?

D. What are our options?

E. Action plan

Possible allocation of time in a four week series:

Session One: Sections I, II, and III.

Session Two: Sections IV, V, and VI.

Session Three: Sections VII, VIII, and IX.

Session Four: Sections X and XI.

Additional materials and suggestions will be provided upon request.  Here is a page describing the void in Christian Churches in teaching the truth about Islam.

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