Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Only Christ and the true gospel can break through the enmity

Ephesians 2:11-22
James McDonald plays the race card:
(added later: In my opinion, McDonald was also extremely wimpy, along with Driscoll, in not standing up for truth and doctrine and not confronting T. D. Jakes on the doctrine of the Trinity, in a way that clearly communicates repentance from the old heresies, the lack of confronting the heretical and sickening Word of Faith greed movement is disgusting, and the Tony Robbins/Oprah Winfrey/Joel Osteen type psycho-babel teachings. Mark Driscoll just feeding the questions to him, and Jakes just nodding at the most important one, is, in my opinion, not enough to undue years of teaching otherwise.)
There are a lot of similarities to the addendum that Frank Turk of Pyromaniacs added, written by Thabiti Anyabwile – similarities to missions work and reaching other cultures.
(I appreciate his helping us think through this.)
There are similarities in attitudes and politics, and this whole dynamic of “us vs. them”, etc. in the Muslim world, and trying to get the gospel into any new culture - when it comes from the "white missionary" - those that accept the gospel and the truth; get labeled in a similar way and there is the whole "us vs. them" mentality.
It is very difficult . . .
If we pit one group against another - “No one wins.”
The Arab – Israeli conflict has a lot of the same underlying issues and problems.
That also seems to be some of the dynamic, if the Muslim sources are totally true, and if most of the history books are not biased or uneven that say, “the Monophysites welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators”. (There is some truth to that; but there is much that is still not said, from the persecuted minorities themselves; they are afraid to speak out over the centuries.) One Egyptian Evangelical told me in person, "There is some truth to that, but we were deceived by the Muslim invaders, and so later, after the Dhimmi system was set up, it was too late."

This “us vs. them” mentality is similar to, why, at least at the beginning of the Arab Muslim invasions, and the recorded history of this by Muslims, that the Coptic Monophysites and Jacobite-Syrian Monophysites at first welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators from the Byzantine Chalcedonians. (policies instituted under Justinian and Hericlius, Byzantine Emperors). Later, the Coptic Church and Syrian Monophysites were so subjugated and fearful of speaking out against their Muslim conquerors – since the whole Dhimmi system prevents them from protesting without consequences, that theses churches and other groups like them, eventually dwindled down by the economic pressures and social pressures, to very small and inward communities; afraid to speak out and afraid to do any evangelism. (If they even believed in evangelism any more.) In the words of historian Edwin Yamauchi, regarding the Assyrian – Persian church (Mostly in the Mesopotamian area – today’s Iraq) – “they settled down to survival and became a privileged minority”.
The government of Iran (Persia) persecuted the Church before the Arabs came and brought Islam to Iran. The Arabs adopted this system from the Persians, which the Shahs of Persia instituted under the Sassanian Era of Zoroastrianism. The church was a persecuted minority. They became a sub-culture and a closed off community from the majority peoples.
Yamauchi notes that we see this still today among the ancient minority churches all over the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries: “The Christian [mostly Nestorian] church became a tolerated minority under the “milet” system of the Persian Empire . . . The freedom to exist was achieved at the price of excepting the Shah’s role in ratifying the choice of the head of the Church. There was no legal freedom to evangelize. Another historian, Young concludes that there were two other dangers: communalism and divisiveness. The church might be so concerned about its rights and privileges as a community instead of the duty to evangelize and so settled down to become a permanent, privileged minority. On the other hand rival claims to be head of the church might try to gain the backing of the state.”
From: Yamauchi, Edwin M. “God and the Shah: Church and State in Persia during the Parthian and Sassanian Eras”, paper delivered at the Evangelical Theological Society, November 18-20, 1993. (Cassette Tape # EV93042) (I purchased the cassette tape in 1996, and don’t know if this has been updated to a CD or MP3 or transcript.)
Only Christ can break down the enmity, hatred and suspicion and fear and judgmental reading of motives.
Ephesians 2:11-22
Addendum: It occurred to me that this relates to something I wrote in an earlier blog article last week, in the com-boxes:
What follows is an edited version of some of what I wrote in the com boxes of the blog article that "The Qur'an never says the text of the Bible was corrupted".
Let us try to break through the communication barrier, and treat Muslims as lost people who need the Lord, and who are created in the image of God, and we are to be patient and seek to "speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15; see also I Peter 2:21-24; Proverbs 15:1)

One of the greatest needs of our time in the post 9-11-01 world that we live in is for better communication between the Christians and Muslims - they - the Muslim world - are the ones who don't allow communication, debate, evangelism, freedom of thought, freedom of speech in their countries - Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, etc. But we allow those freedoms for them in the west and the internet is one of the few places that the potential for proper communication to actually take place.
Unbelievers in general fight back naturally when confronted with the truth, true.
Someone may say, “That doesn't justify the churlish behavior of the Muslims in this comment box.” (and someone did)
You are correct - but I still do not expect them to act like Christians; and many of them, in my experience resort to anger and cursing and trickery, as did Rambo John, and Rehan Ullah at Paul Williams site; as did the Muslims who cursed nasty language at Nabil Qureshi in Detroit. 

Islam itself, in its doctrines and behaviors and sources, because it does justify anger and fighting against its enemies, honor killings, etc., feels justified in that; and many Muslims justify their own behavior as legitimate against what they perceive as enemies against Islam. 

But, if and when we do the same thing, they turn the tables as say, "Jesus says you can't do that - you are commanded to love your enemy"; but, the Muslim says," we admit that we are not commanded to love our enemies, therefore we are justified." I have seen this kind of behavior for 27 years dealing with Muslims.

 My position is to let them expose their own sinfuless, anger, cursing, revengeful spirit and let readers then see them exposed; but let us behave in a holy and godly manner and don't respond with insults or ad hominem.
We, as Christians, should be able to be able to handle hostility better than they do. We have the power of the Holy Spirit!
Paul Williams has nothing against me to promote to his Muslim brothers as any evidence of bad behavior or unfair treatment in discussion, etc. ( I hope.) All he can do is say I am a "backwards fundamentalist" and "not very scholarly". That is ok with me for now; I don't have time to read all of James D. G. Dunn; but maybe some good Evangelical scholar like D. A. Carson or Dan Wallace or has analyzed him. 

I still say that Proverbs 15:1; I Peter 2:21-24; 2 Timothy 2:24-26 and Ephesians 4:15 are to be applied for a long time before one makes the decision to shut down conversation. 

Because of the centuries of bad relations and how typical Muslim's interpret our theology through the lens of the Crusades, colonialism, conservative politics, and racism (the same way that some, like James McDonald and others, have childishly played the race card in the recent Elephant Room2 discussion.); we have to see and understand that, and be willing to persevere through it and strive for breaking through by the power of love and the gospel and by praying that God will work in hearts. Just because God is sovereign and will ultimately decide what He will use to win some, is no reason to give up too soon, or to act sinfully in anger and ad hominem attacks. 

Jesus' spirit of not fighting back; I Peter 2:21-24; all four Gospels of the life of Jesus; and His humility in riding into the Jerusalem on a donkey (and not a horse with a sword like Muhammad) - many Muslims have told that is one of the most significant things that won them over - along with a true Christian who was willing to be patient with them and not fight back against them when they were angry and unjust toward me. 

God can use pure Scripture and argumentation also; but most of the time, Muslims have come to the truth of the gospel through someone suffering unjustly in the name of Christ - it is more powerful than what they have - all they have is a human book that is not inspired and the power of force and politics and unjust war throughout the centuries. 

In contrast, we don't fight with fleshly weapons (Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Cor. 10:3-5) - We have the truth of the Bible, the gospel, and the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Let them be shown for their sinfulness. 

We can do better, since we have the power of the Holy Spirit living within us; and our purpose is not just to win an argument, but to glorify God in all things, including how we do apologetics and argumentation.
We are called to suffer for righteousness sake -
 Matthew 5: 9-12; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 2 Timothy 3:12

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