Why one pastor stood up and said “No Way!” to the document, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You.”
By Eric Barger
World peace. What an idea! Everyone would certainly like that. After all, we represent the Prince of Peace don’t we? However, it is a theological misconception to believe that we are here solely to make peace. Jesus never said that. In fact, he proclaimed the opposite in Matthew chapter 10.
Jesus told His followers: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34) This is just after His proclamation that “…ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…” in verse 22. Though He proclaimed that peacemakers would be blessed in the Beatitudes of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 5:9), He never came close to intimating that we’d bring ultimate peace or be accepted by the world because of Him. Quite the opposite is true.
What liberal theologians have ignored and what we must remember is that any peace which results from the compromising of absolute truth isn’t really true peace at all. Such would be a counterfeit based on falsehood. I believe this is why Jesus clearly points out that the world will always be at enmity with His teaching and His true people. Though world peace sounds wonderful, if it results from unholy conciliation then count me out. If for no other reason, this is why I cannot sign “the letter.”
I am referring to a document produced by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture titled “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You.” (Read document here.)
The Yale document is in response to “A Common Word Between Us and You” (read document here) produced by over a hundred Muslim clerics and intellectuals. It is a call for dialog between the two religions. This new Muslim document is an outgrowth of the 2006 treatise “Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI” (read document here) delivered by some 38 Islamic scholars to Pope Benedict.
“A Common Word” claims “for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam.” For an in-depth exploration of the accuracy and validity of that statement see the companion article “Their God is NOT Our God.” (Read article here.)
BUT WHAT KIND OF PEACE?
To those unaware of the history and doctrine of Islam the Yale letter may sound like a great idea. Even though it is an incorrect assumption that secularists love to repeat, the public’s perception is that religion has been the source of the majority of wars. And of course, almost everyone is aware that Christians and Jews seems to be at odds with Muslims. However, before anyone gets to excited about joining in with the Yale mistake let me add my two cents as to why this is not only a fruitless adventure but a perilous one at that.
On a purely human level, it is indeed the civil thing to do to attempt to find common ground with adversaries. However, there are circumstances and reasons that often negate such exploration. Absolute truth would head that list. So, with that as a basis, here are two reasons that neither I, nor any Christian leader should sign the Yale letter.
Reason number one: Biblical Christians have no basis for dialog if the entire discussion is not based in objective and historic truth that both sides agree on as fact.
Reason number two: Biblical Christians cannot compromise if in so doing one capitulates concerning tenets of faith that are immoveable. In other words, doctrine and standards of faith must override our human inclination to try and come into a neutral agreement with the opposition be they secular or religious.
It is for both of these reasons (and perhaps more) that you will not find informed Bible believers signing “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You.”
When I first heard of the Yale letter and saw the list of signers, I was frankly shocked but somehow not extremely surprised. One could certainly expect a group of liberal theologians to concoct such an idea. The list also included representatives from the Emergent camp and several notable neo-Evangelicals, the usual suspects who continue to prove almost daily that they hold no esteem for the Bible.
However, as I read down the list of signers, my heart sank. Previously strong Evangelical leaders – men whom I thought had discernment and who have claimed their basis for life is rooted in truth – how could they be so far from reality on this? I pondered just how many of these men might have signed this love letter to the Muslims but were simply just ignorant without apologetic understanding of the doctrines and history of Islam. You would think that a little research might have prevented some of them from this regrettable alliance.
I also wondered whether those who conceived of and signed the Yale document had bothered to pray and seek God about what they were about to do? Did it not matter that while defending authentic Christianity, countless missionaries have lost their lives because of the evil edicts of Muhammad? Didn’t anyone bother to point out that no matter how inviting the ovation offered by the Muslim clerics may appear on the surface that the real nature of Islam is displayed by the salvage manner in which people are treated in Muslim nations when they happen to infringe on Sharia Law? I suppose that when one considers the heresy regularly being preached by many who’ve adhered to the Yale letter it shouldn’t shock us. As Rush Limbaugh would say, it’s “symbolism over substance.”
True to their lack of convictions this bunch of milk toast, self-proclaimed Christian leaders espousing Rodney King “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along?” theology have made the decision that toiling over doctrine and truth is somehow less important than public perception. Well, they certainly aren’t speaking for me or for millions of other bible believers either. Grovelling at the feet of Islam isn’t going to win Muslims over – even if it really was the right thing to do. It is sickening and each of the signers to the Yale letter – including Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Leith Anderson, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Richard Mouw and two prominent Assemblies of God bible college presidents – should fall on their knees in shame and beg Jehovah God for forgiveness.
For more information on the historical and biblical errors presented by the Yale document “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between us and You” see the companion article “Their god is NOT our God”.