Terrorism, Islam, and the Gospel: A Response

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There is a mega-church in South Carolina called NewSpring.  They are a multi-campus church spread all across the state of South Carolina with some small fringe groups throughout other states.  Their minister’s name is Perry Noble.  Every Sunday, he preaches from the Anderson campus and his sermon is projected through holographic and video technology to all of the other churches.

Awhile ago, Perry Noble wrote a blog about Homosexuality and Obesity, and I wrote a response to it.  Once again, I feel the need to respond to another blog of his, which is what you will see below.

Before I begin, I need to explain my bias in this situation.  While my religious views have shifted since I last wrote on Perry Noble and NewSpring Church, I will say that I am still not a Christian by how he, or probably anyone else, would define it.

I don’t generally keep up with Perry Noble and NewSpring, but a lot of people on my friends list on Facebook go there and some of my other friends keep up with him, so when I got online and say a Facebook status lamenting what he had said, I went to check it out.

This time, the blog was called “Terrorism, Islam, and the Gospel.”  The blog is a reaction to the attacks that were carried out in Europe today by extremists.

Terrorists killed innocent people again today in Europe, and the world is sad, stunned and confused.

Some are screaming for war, others are trying to negotiate – however, I believe the only way to stop terrorism is by stopping Islam – and the only way to stop Islam is the Gospel.

Lots of people seem to be ignoring the fact that every act of terrorism we’ve witnessed has been done under the banner of Islam.

The world is sad.  The world may be confused, but I’m starting to think that we’re moving past being stunned by these acts of violence.  Unfortunately, acts of terrorism have grown so numerous in the world that the media isn’t reporting them all because there are just too many to report (and because the media is biased against Muslims).

The only way to stop terrorism is by stopping Islam – and the only way to stop Islam is the Gospel.

Lots of people seem to be ignoring the fact that every act of terrorism we’ve witnessed has been done under the banner of Islam.

Yes, I made you read that again because you really need to read it twice to fully comprehend that Perry Noble just went there in his blog.

The only way to stop terrorism is by stopping Islam?  Every act of terrorism we’ve witness has been done under the banner of Islam?

No.  No.  No.  No.  No.

The only way to stop terrorism is to stop hate.  The only way to stop hate is to teach love, acceptance, and tolerance of all peoples no matter their history or their religious affiliation.

According to the FBI, from 1980 to 2005, only 5% of all terrorist attacks on U.S. soil were caused by Muslims.  According to the same data, 6% of attacks were caused by Jewish extremists.  From 1980 to 2005, there were more Jewish terrorist attacks than there were Muslim attacks.

And that data includes September 11, 2001.

Now, I get it… That data is out of date, but according to this website, which lists all the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil up to now, Muslims and Islam are still NOT the only ones committing terrorist acts.

Even doing a simple Google Search on the topic will show you that “all terrorists are Muslim” is not true.

(At this point – for those who want to bring up the Crusades, I think we’ve pretty much had that under control over the past 1,000 years!)

When the Crusades happened, Christianity was around 1,100 years old.  Since that time, the religion has done a lot of growing up and growing out of the violence (for the most part, as there are still some fringe extremist Christian groups out there, KKK and Westboro Baptist, anyone?)

Islam was founded in the year 610 when the prophet Muhammad had his first revelation.  That would make Islam 1,406 years old.  That is not that much older than Christianity was at the time of the Crusades, and we can say “Well, they should learn from our history,” but really, does anyone actually do that?  That’s why we have the saying “History always repeats itself.”

If we want to put some things into perspective, Christianity is approximately 2,009 years old.  Buddhism is over 2,500 years old, and Hinduism is over 4,000 years old.  Islam is a young religion, and I’m not trying to validate the extremist actions when I say this, but Christianity wasn’t very pleasant when they were Islam’s age either.

Moving past the Crusades as an excuse of Christian extremism, Perry Noble is ignoring all of the acts of violence and terrorism caused by Christians today.

There was a mass shooting in Charleston, at a church, done by a racist Christian white male, but because he wasn’t Muslim, some people are quick to not label this as an act of terrorism.  In November of last year, a Christian went to a Planned Parenthood facility and shot and killed two people and a police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The KKK committed a multitude of terrorist acts against people of color and other minorities for an extremely long time.  Even today, they still insight violence.

The Crusades was not the end of Christian extremism.  Not by a long shot.

I am not calling for a Holy War – I’m simply raising my hand and saying I really do believe a person who has had their heart transformed by Jesus and follows Him will not commit acts of terrorism.

Except that they don’t.  They go into Planned Parenthood facilities and shoot people.  They kill doctors who perform abortions because they feel that it’s okay since God doesn’t like abortions.  They pour SCALDING HOT WATER on the backs of gay couples because those sinners need to pay.

Terrorism is an act of violence for political reasons, and all of the above qualify.  We can argue that these people aren’t really “saved” because saved people wouldn’t do such violent things, but I promise that if you ask them, they will say they are doing what God wants them to do.

I am not saying Christians should be mean to Muslims – I think we should love them, get to know them, ask them questions about their faith and share the Gospel with them!!!

Interfaith communication is a wonderful thing.  It fosters understanding of differences and allows for acceptance and tolerance of those different from us to grow.  Honestly, I’m glad that he added in that he doesn’t want people to mean to Muslims because that is exactly what is happening in the world.  Violence against Muslims has increased in the most recent years because of fear and lack of understanding and the feeling that “we’re right” and “they’re wrong.”

And I’m all about sharing my faith with others, but I’m also open to having others share their faith with me, which is something that the next few lines show are not what Perry Noble has in mind.

Our “product” is better!  Muslims just take a pilgrimage (at least once in their life) to Mecca and can visit Medina to honor the dead body of the founder of Islam – Muhammad.

Christians do not have a body to honor but rather an empty tomb to be celebrated!!

Islam is based on doing good works!

Christianity is based on grace!

Muslims have a “body to honor” because they believe that God is God.  They believe that there is no son of God (like Jesus) and that God doesn’t exist in multiple parts.  Muslims believe that there is only one power, God (or Allah, as they call that power), and nothing else.  They don’t need a savior because they can directly access God without the need of an in between guy, which is what the prophet Muhammad taught to his people.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17, ESV)

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:  The Gospel of Grace in Christianity is, in my opinion, a scapegoat and excuse for Christian extremist violence and terrorism.  “It’s okay if I do this bad thing and hurt others because I’m saved by the Grace of God and will be forgiven.”

Except that you’re hurting others and the Bible clearly says that faith without good works is dead faith.  You may have your words, but where are your actions to back them up?

And where in the Bible did Jesus ever say to go forth and kill or hurt these people because they are sinners?  Hint: he didn’t.

At this point as a follower of Christ I am personally committed to three things…

1 – Prayer for the Gospel to spread like wildfire in countries where Islam is the dominant religion.

2 – Learning more about the religion of Islam and the politics of the Middle East.

3 – Not allowing my mind to fall into the trap of believing that every Muslim is a terrorist. Although every act of terrorism has been performed by a Muslim…I will not allow myself to either hate or fear an entire group of people.

Praying for the Gospel to spread like wildfire.

Islamic extremists and terrorist commit acts of violence because they believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.  Praying for the Gospel to spread through Islamic countries is the same thing, minus the violence.

Perry Noble, and so many others, believe that Christianity is the right religion and everyone else is wrong, except the Bible isn’t 100% on their side with that position.

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
    and no one shall make them afraid,
    for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk
    each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
    forever and ever.” (Micah 4:3b-5)

There will be peace on the Earth and “all the peoples [will] walk each in the name of its god.”  Not the God, its God.  And there will be peace.

But that’s not the only quote that supports peaceful religious pluralism.  One of my favorite quotes in the Bible is Joshua 24:15.  Most people know it as, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

It may interest you to know the rest of that verse, if you don’t know it already:

15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15, ESV)

If you don’t want to serve the Lord, then choose whom you will serve.  And it doesn’t matter who it is.  Joshua didn’t condemn those that turned away to worship other Gods.  He was okay with different religious paths, so why aren’t we?

Because Jesus?

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50, ESV)

He does not follow with us.  He doesn’t believe like we do, and we saw him use you to do something good, but we didn’t like it because he doesn’t believe like we do, so we wanted to stop him.

Jesus: Don’t do that, because if he isn’t against you, then he is for you.  If he is a good person, and you are good person, we should all get along.

But that’s not all:

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:51-56, ESV)

Here, we can see a group of people who weren’t for Jesus.  They didn’t like Jesus, they didn’t want him in their village.  The followers of Jesus called for Jesus to punish them for their actions through violence, but rather than doing that, Jesus rebuked his followers and they went some where else.

This is tolerance.  This is acceptance.  Jesus didn’t force his beliefs on a group of people who believed differently and didn’t follow him.  He simply moved on to a different village where he was accepted.

Perry Noble finishes up his blog with a call to pray for a revival in this part of the world where Islam is the main religion, but just before that he uses the example of the conversion of Paul to show that Muslims can also have their hearts changed.

“Jesus Christ changes lives!  He once took what would be the equivalent of a “terrorist” (Paul, who was killing Christians) and turned him into one of the Gospel’s all time greatest proclaimers…and if He did it back then He can do it again!”

Paul was a terrorist, and his heart was changed, but he said some interesting things in Romans that don’t mesh well with Perry Nobles overarching theme.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:6-11, ESV)

13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:13-16, ESV)

This passage is talking about God’s righteous judgment upon death.

Romans 2 clearly states that it’s not because you hear and accept the Law (Word of God) as the Truth that gets you into heaven.  It is your works and actually doing what the Law says.

In fact, according to Romans 2, if you aren’t saved.. if you don’t have the law, but you live a good and righteous life, you will still be judged and allowed into heaven as if you did because you were a good and righteous person.

There will be distress and tribulation for every human who does evil.  It doesn’t matter if that person is a Christian or a Muslim because God shows no partiality.  There will glory and honor to all who do good, whether they are Christian or not because God shows no partiality.

We don’t need to be praying for Muslims to be converted, Perry Noble.  We need to pray that people who do evil things have a change of heart and begin to do good things, no matter what their faith background is.

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Posted on March 23, 2016, in Faith, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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