On Facebook recently, I frustrated a number of my evangelical friends with posts I shared and comments I made related to Islam. I was accused of not knowing God, needing to repent and holding to heterodox doctrine. Since some people are concerned, I will take the time to make clear my position. I do not expect to change anyone’s belief, but if you are going to disagree with me, at least disagree with what I really believe.
The first thing that bothered people was my view of Islam and violence. In light of the Boston Marathon attack, I urged people to not assume that all Muslims are violent. I was told that all Muslims were violent and if they were not, they were not really Muslim. Let me make clear my position. I am not saying that all Muslims are peaceful. Nor am I denying that Islam has a violent past or that some Islamic states today persecute non-Muslims. I understand that these things happen. What I am saying is that it is wrong to assume that because a person is a Muslim that they want to kill non-Muslims. I have read the Qur’an and I have not found passages that command all Muslims to kill all non-Muslims. There are passages that talk about killing non-Muslims, but the context is that of an existing war between Muslims and non-Muslims (of which there were many in the early years of Islam) in which the Muslims are told to go all out. I don’t like those passages, but to be honest, they are no worse than some Old Testament passages. To suggest that all Muslims must build their faith around these few passages is as unfair as a non-Christian arguing that Christianity must be based on the holy war passages in the Old Testament. In case you think no Christian would interpret the Old Testament that way, there are plenty of examples from church history.
The second thing that got people upset is my suggestion that Christians and Muslims (and Jews) believe in the same God. When I say that, people seem to hear me saying that Islam is a valid way to achieve salvation, that Muhammad was a true prophet, that all religions are the same and many other things that I am not saying. My argument is based on the question of how much has to be in common for us to be talking about the same thing. If an American was talking about the country to the north of them called Canada, bound by the Pacific ocean on the west, Arctic ocean in the north and the Atlantic ocean on the east and with the capital of Toronto, would they be talking about the same country of Canada that I know has a capital of Ottawa? I believe that two people can talk about the same thing with one of them having some mistaken facts about that one thing. That is my understanding of Christianity and Islam. I think we are both talking about the same God but that Islam is mistaken in some of their assertions (simple unity, relationship to Jesus). I realize that my view is in the minority, but please don’t accuse me of denying the Trinity or the exclusivity of Christianity.
Perhaps this clarification will only make things worse, but at least you know where I stand. I am an evangelical Christian with orthodox theology and a high view of the Bible. Do not mistake me for something else.