Tag Archives: Islam

Can We Talk Religion?

Can we have an honest discussion about religion? No. Not if those who speak the truth are indiscriminately labeled as bigots.

To discuss religion in the U.S. is to discuss Christianity and Islam. To discuss Islam is to discuss the problem of radicalization. But honest discourse is shouted down by predictable accusations of “hate speech.”

But to point out that Islam has a problem with violence is not hatred for all Muslims. To deny that Islam has a problem with violence is to ignore the facts and to stick one’s head in the quicksand of political correctness.

It is time to stop showing graphs that compare radical Islamic murder in the U.S. with other murder, but begin the count on the day after 9/11! The agenda of such cherry-picking of the stats is plain for all to see: to rewrite history in order to exonerate Islam.

Why the strained effort to elevate Islam and to denigrate Christianity (i.e., defining Christianity by the acts of 1,000-year-dead crusaders)? It’s the new definition of Equality.

The New Equality is not simply advocating for fair treatment between the races, between men and women, between the rich and poor, or between different creeds and religions. The New Equality is systematically dismantling established ideas of what is morally right and wrong.

The New Equality claims to be acting out of heartfelt sympathy for the exploited and the underdog. But the real goal is to establish a new foundation for defining right and wrong.

The long-time foundation for right and wrong is God. Different cultures and religions have diverse views about God, but still he is the authority, the basis for beliefs, values, laws, governments and societies.

But God and religion are no longer valid in the world of the New Equality. Things are simple with this new perspective. Erase all differences. Remove all pride of accomplishment or confidence in righteousness and you eradicate all hatred and violence, right? Soon everyone will be well-fed and satisfied, right? Wrong.

In the New Equality, nobody can claim to be right. All religions must accept absolute sameness. If a certain group claims to be right or to know the truth, then they are accusing someone else of being wrong, and that might hurt someone’s feelings.

Feelings are now more important than truth. Or, put another way, feelings have become truth. Not so long ago we were told, “If it feels good, do it!” Now we are faced with another step back: “If it feels good, it must be right!”

All this moral confusion is a result of denying humanity’s ability to know the truth. In an increasingly secular culture, we are asked to believe that nobody can really know ultimate truth, and so it is impolitic to make such a claim.

And yet certain claims stubbornly refuse to exit the stage of history. The words of Jesus still ring out: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life – nobody comes to the Father but by me.” “I am the Light of the world – whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Think of all the kingdoms, movements and philosophies that have come and gone in the past 2,000 years. But Jesus’ words continue to speak truth and hope to hearts around the world.

Just before he slipped away into the pages of history, Pilate asked a famous question, “What is truth?” When he uttered those words he was literally looking truth in the face, but he turned and walked away and washed his hands of Jesus.

The New Equality perpetuates the attitude of Pilate, insisting that truth is illusory. Deciding beforehand that we cannot find the truth really limits the discussion.

An honest dialogue admits to the possibility of real answers, of one position being right and another being wrong. Can we talk religion?

May God’s Spirit open your heart to his truth,

Richard Foster


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Who Speaks for Christianity?

Listening to chatter in the media one gets the message loud and clear that ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and a host of other violent Muslim organizations do not represent the true teachings of Islam.

On the other hand, Christianity is represented by crusaders who have been dead and buried for a thousand years, or a rogue demented shooter who attacks a Planned Parenthood outlet, so we are told.

Can we find a more objective and accurate measure for “true Islam” and “true Christianity”? Yes, we can. Jesus and Muhammad.

Muhammad was a raider who used the sword to advance his agenda. He killed and beheaded some 700 Jewish men in one episode, taking their wives and daughters as the spoils of war. He taught his followers to kill the infidel, or at least subject them to second-class status.

Jesus was a teacher who insisted that his followers put away their swords, even though his own life was at stake. He taught his followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them. He left this example for his followers: he gave his own life so that unbelievers can be saved.

To be a radical Muslim is to spill the blood of those who disagree with you. To be a radical Christian is to seal your testimony with your own blood, sacrificially giving your life so that others might live, in order to persuade many to be saved.

Peaceful Muslims are actually reflecting the life and values of Jesus more than those of Muhammad, at least with respect to violence. Murderous Christians are actually reflecting the life and values of Muhammad more than those of Jesus, at least when it comes to wielding the sword.

Jesus surprised his followers with his definition of greatness: “Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. And whoever wants to be first among you will serve all.”

Jesus got down on his knees and washed his disciples’ feet. He got up on his cross and died for his disciples’ salvation. He stood up and walked away from his tomb to be his disciples’ Lord.

Jesus speaks for Christianity.

May the Spirit of Christ speak to your heart,

Richard Foster

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Comparing the Crusades to Terrorism

Certain voices in our society keep emphasizing that Islam is a religion of peace and Christianity has a history of violence. Apparently the current violent Muslim terrorists do not represent Islam, so they say, but violent Crusaders from a thousand years ago do represent Christianity.

We are being asked to compare the most peaceful and loving Muslims with the most violent and hateful Christians. Is that not an admission that it is difficult to make Islam look peaceful and difficult to make Christianity look violent? In other words, plenty of recent evidence shows the violent tendencies of Islam but one must go back a thousand years to find evidence of such violence among Christians.

The Crusades were a period of war between Roman Catholic Europeans and Islamic Middle Easterners. The conflict is dated to almost a thousand years ago, but that is not the beginning of the story, any more than World War II started with America dropping atom bombs on Japan. It would be unfair to ignore the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in telling the story of the Second World War and it is unfair to mention the Crusades without telling the rest of the story.

Militant Muslims marched across North Africa, into Eastern Europe and Spain for more than 400 years before Europeans finally roused themselves and stopped their advances. The idea that evil hard-hearted Christian Crusaders suddenly butchered innocent and unsuspecting Muslims without any provocation is a myth. The Muslims were aggressors and both sides fought to win.

We can all agree that there are those who misrepresent Islam and Christianity. We should also agree that it is unfair to judge a group by those who are poor examples of the group’s true beliefs. What better way to determine a group’s true beliefs than to look at the founder’s life and teachings?

After being rejected by the Jews, Muhammad cut off the heads of some 700 Jewish men and took their women and children as spoils of war. After being rejected by the Jewish and Roman leaders, Jesus told his follower Peter to put down his sword and then he went voluntarily to a shameful, painful and undeserved execution on a Roman cross.

Violent Muslims are following the example of Muhammad. Violent Christians are rejecting the example of Jesus. But there is more to this story, too. Jesus was not waging a holy war or jihad. Jesus came to give his life as a ransom in order to save lost sinners. His kingdom, Jesus said, was not of this world. His followers are not guaranteed power in this age, but eternal life in the age to come.

Here is part of the problem. Those who are skeptical about heaven and hell tend to see all religions as equally unnecessary and dangerous. Why argue or fight about a God that does not exist? Instead, the non-religious seek a secular state and a secular world that will supposedly get beyond all the violence caused by passionate religious convictions.

But secularists do not subject their own belief system to the same standards which they frequently apply to religion. We need not go back a thousand years to find horrifying violence among atheists. Within the last one hundred years atheists controlled a state that perpetrated violence against its own citizens on a scale that makes violent religionists look like beginners. The atrocities of Communism somehow get a pass in the judgment day against religion. Is that right?

The fact is, violence is a human problem, not a religious problem. In the days of Noah, the famous ark-builder, the Bible tells us that the earth was full of violence. Noah, however, was different. He was a preacher of righteousness. But the people rejected him and his message. They took no serious interest in his giant boat.

God waited patiently in the time of Noah. But a day came when the door of the ark was closed and the rains of judgment arrived. The flood waters rose and only those few who were on the ark survived. The majority was wrong.

Jesus told his listeners that the last days will be like the time of Noah. The comparison between the Crusades and terrorism makes one very important point: humanity has not changed. We are not evolving into a more peaceful and benevolent race. If anything, we seem to be discovering even more appalling ways of killing.

But Jesus also meant that another day is coming like that day when the door closed on the ark. People were trying to ignore the day of God’s judgment and in doing so they also ignored God’s provision for salvation. God always leaves a door open for those who wish to experience salvation instead of judgment.

Jesus predicted that wars and rumors of wars will continue unabated in this age. Secular humanists assure us that humanity can evolve and do away with the horrors of war. Humanists continue to be wrong and Jesus continues to be right. Based on the historical evidence, we would be wise to find the door to God’s ark, the way to his salvation.

Instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should compare ourselves to Jesus, God’s ultimate standard. In so doing, we will all realize our need for salvation. The good news is this: Jesus is not only the standard which we cannot meet, he is the Savior whom we do not deserve. Because of God’s grace, we can find true peace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, February 2015

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