Should Pope Francis be more Critical of Islam?

20 01 2018

When Pope Francis stated in his  Evangelii Gaudium (paragraphs 252 and 253) that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence,” he received a backlash from ex-Muslims. They responded with a letter to the Pope signed by 3700 former Muslims requesting that the Pope speak out more harshly against Islam.

Since these petitioners are former Muslims, surely they should understand the faith of their fathers better than we who are Christians, right? Which is why Christian pulpits around the world frequently invite ex-Muslims to explain all that’s wrong with their rejected religion and prove the superiority of Christianity.

However, a recent Christian Today article argues that ex-Muslims may not be the best candidates to explain Islam to us. I want to recommend this article here:

WHY EX-MUSLIMS MAY NOT BE THE BEST GUIDES TO ISLAM

Who would you want to stand up in the mosque to explain Christianity—someone who left the Christian faith to convert to Islam and has nothing good to say about Christianity, or someone for whom Christianity seems to have made a tremendous impact on their life—say, Mother Teresa, Ravi Zacharias, or even you? The fact that someone chose to reject Christianity doesn’t prove it’s oppressive or impotent; the fact that someone left Islam doesn’t prove it’s demonic or evil.

I firmly believe that Christianity has something to offer Muslims—namely, a much fuller and exalted role for Jesus than most Muslims have experienced yet. We Christians experience Jesus as a prophet and teacher, but also as our healer, deliverer, forgiver, savior, and purest expression of God’s love. We never need to put down another religion to make Jesus seem higher—he’s already “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). When we want to explain what God is like, we can point to Jesus.

Treating our Muslim friends with honor is how Jesus would treat them. So well done, Pope Francis! And it’s more likely to earn us the right to point our Muslim friends to the glory of Jesus.

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Reaping in the New Year

1 01 2018

BradyTom Brady didn’t decide at age 38 that he’d better eat healthy foods and work out more if he hoped to play football into his 40’s. He’s been doing it for years. While other athletes’ careers are being shortened by a carousing nightlife, Tom usually has dinner with his family, reads his kids a goodnight book, then goes to bed around 8:30 so he can be rested for his 5:30 a.m. workout. Keeping this routine over the past several years is paying dividends today.

The Bible calls it “reaping what you sow.” The decisions we made years ago impact today. The decisions we make today impact tomorrow.

That’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about. They’re a chance to evaluate if the path we’re on will ultimately lead us where we want to go.

I was reminded this week that not everyone gets to see the wonderful results of their good choices in their lifetimes. In the Bible, Hebrews 11 talks about religious heroes such as Abraham, Moses and so on who didn’t get to see all they hoped for, but their descendants did. In modern times, there are those like Van Gogh, who were only appreciated after their deaths, or those who died too young, like another football star, Pat Tillman, who walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals to serve in the military after 9/11.

Tillman“Sports embodied many of the qualities I deem meaningful,” Tillman explained. “However, these last few years, and especially after recent events, I’ve come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is . . . It’s no longer important.”

Tillman’s several tours of duty in Iraq and then in Afghanistan where he was killed in action earned him both a Purple Heart and Silver Star.

Not all of us will get to see the results of our sacrifices. But our children will. And perhaps generations to come will find hope and inspiration from our lives.

When we do get to reap from the good that we sowed in earlier years, it reminds us that sacrificing is worth it; living out our calling in life is worth it. And it motivates us once again to sacrifice today for the sake of tomorrow.

This New Years Day, I was blessed to receive another award for one of my novels. A WAY OUT OF HELL won the 2017 Book of the Year award for Christian Suspense. But more meaningful than the award is every time a reader tells me how their entire paradigm regarding Muslims has been changed, and that they’re ready to open their hearts to love their Muslim neighbors.

Suspense Award 2017What can we do this year to fulfill our callings, to bring light and life to those around us, to use our voices for those who have no voice, to manifest on the earth God’s desire for “peace on earth, good will to men”?