Published September 4, 2014
Question: How do we answer moderate Muslims?
Answer: Recently the Sunday School class I teach discussed the attacks on Christians by the virulent ISIS terrorists who are driving Christians out of Iraq, Christians whose roots go back 2,000 years. We talked about how militant Muslims are waging an unholy jihad against Christians and Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, taking their marching orders from such passages as Sura 8:59 in the Koran: “The infidels should not think that they can get away from us. Prepare against them whatever arms and weaponry you can muster so you can terrorize them.”
Sura 5:33 encourages the kind of terror carried out by ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Boko Haram against whomever they define as “infidels” – “Their punishment is execution or crucifixion or cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides or to be exiled from the land.”
One of the couples in my Sunday School class expressed Christ-like concern for their next door neighbors who are “moderate Muslims,” that we not mistakenly label them with terrorists. I mentioned a retired church janitor who is a gentle and humble Muslim. How do we answer “moderate” Muslims like them who want a cordial and respectful relationship with us, but do not believe Jesus was the Son of God Who was crucified, buried, and resurrected from the dead?
First, we can share with them how Christians, Jews, and “moderate” Muslims (all in the tradition of Abraham and the belief in one God) are being targeted and persecuted by militant Jihadists. Thankfully, the Egyptian army, representing a more moderate brand of Islam, overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists that were in control of Egypt. The Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria that have kidnapped and enslaved Christian teenagers have also assassinated moderate Muslim mullahs.
Second, we can talk about how the Crusades, which are a “sore point” in history among Muslims, were actually a response to the militant Muslims that conquered the Holy Land and threatened Christians in Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire. Although we understand the Crusades as Pope Urban II’s “Christian” Jihad against militant Islam attacks, we do not defend the crude and violent behavior of Crusaders who captured Jerusalem and slaughtered Jews and Muslims.
We as Christians identify with St. Francis of Assisi, who went as a “missionary/witness” to the leader of Muslims in North Africa, armed not with a sword but a loving and forgiving heart.
Third, since Muslims always refer to the “mercy” of Allah we can join with Muslims in sharing our understanding of God’s mercy. The subject of mercy affords us a wondrous opportunity to focus on a loving-forgiveness that is embodied and dramatized in the Pperson of Jesus Christ beyond anything anyone has ever envisioned.
It is a loving-forgiveness that is completely alien to militant Islam and contrary to “Christian” Jihads! It is a loving-forgiveness that inspires and empowers us as Christians to love and forgive our enemies! It is a loving-forgiveness that inspires us to pray for militant Muslims who are enraged and enslaved by angry hatred that perverts their personhood and leads them to torture and murder the innocent.
Here is a great opportunity to talk about a loving-forgiveness that is uniquely Christian, and can arouse a desire to take a good and honest look at Jesus Christ. As the Caner brothers write so well in Unveiling Islam, “Islam does not know an intimate, personal, and loving God … The omnibenevolence of Christ on the cross and His transcendent love overwhelms the Muslim mind” (p. 229).
Christ’s intriguing and captivating life and love can open the mind, soul, and heart of a Muslim. Our prayer is that we can witness to that love in what we say and do, and that Christ’s Spirit will convict and convince Muslims with the truth revealed in Christ and His Word recorded in the Bible that spoke to Mohammed in the seventh century.
Paul Baxter serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange.
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