Several religious press releases have just been uncovered which believers should be aware about. They alert us to ancient developments in attempts at interfaith dialogue between God’s people and those of other faiths. One covers activities in the Old Testament, and one in the New. Here they are:
Israel Interfaith Taskforce Press Release
A group of Israelites committed to social justice and interfaith dialogue have announced a new initiative aimed at demonstrating Yahweh’s compassion and love for all peoples. In a move to demonstrate that Yahweh does not discriminate, the group has embarked on a religious altar rebuilding project.
It is well known that on countless occasions the Israelites were told to tear down pagan altars and idols, and smash any structures dedicated to foreign gods. But the Israel Interfaith Taskforce (IIT) believes that this has been harmful in interfaith relationships, and does not show the love and compassion of Yahweh.
An IIT spokeswoman said that we must show the inclusive love of Yahweh to all peoples, and show other religious groups that true Yahweh religion is above all tolerant and accepting. Thus in an attempt to reach out to these Canaanite brethren, major rebuilding projects are now under way.
Altars dedicated to Baal and Ashtoreth for example, which were once razed by over-zealous Israelites, will now be rebuilt and rededicated to the various local deities, all in the name of compassion and social justice. While some Israelites thought that they should just rebuild Canaanite homes lost in battle or natural disaster, the ITT group said that was not showing the full compassion of Yahweh.
“To demonstrate our solidarity with our marginalised Canaanite friends, we must show how respectful we are of their diverse and colourful religious practices and institutions as well,” said the spokeswoman. “We need to demonstrate Yahweh’s love and embrace of all peoples in this tangible, holisitic way.”
Christian Social Justice Media Release
The recently formed Christian Social Justice Action Committee (CSJAC) has lashed out at what it calls insensitive, intolerant and unloving attitudes and actions by some of the Apostles. A spokesman has said the actions of Paul and others has set back the cause of Christ, and turned people off to the gospel of love and peace which Jesus proclaimed.
“We are especially concerned about the narrow-minded approach Paul has shown, for example while in Athens. He revealed that while he was there that he was ‘grieved’ and ‘greatly distressed’ at all the idols in the city. We find this to be an unhelpful and unloving attitude to hold. After all, we are all God’s children, and we should be more respectful of other religious traditions.”
The group also condemns the harsh actions of the early disciples, who were not showing sensitivity and genuine love of their pagan neighbours. The group especially singled out the unloving and intolerant burning of religious paraphernalia at Ephesus.
“Paul stood by, seemingly with complete approval, while sorcerers burned their books. That just takes us back to the bad old days. We are more enlightened and progressive now. What sort of message does this send out? It smacks of religious bigotry and intolerance. We need to remember that we are all God’s children and we all have truth.”
The group also disapproves of the way Paul spoke of the “worthless images” of the Greeks. “There is no need for such offensive and disrespectful language to be used here. This is not the sort of Christian witness we want to see. This is not how we should reach out to others.”
The group seeks to put into practice its inclusive approach, and will therefore assist in the rebuilding of pagan temples which were destroyed in the recent earthquake. “Actions speak louder than words, and we wish to demonstrate what an inclusive and loving God we serve.”
Needless to say, the above media releases are fictional. But the sad truth is, there are plenty of Christians today who share the sentiments expressed therein. Far too many believers, even those claiming to be evangelical Christians, are hopping on the interfaith bandwagon, and buying into the new tolerance.
There are plenty of examples of this one could produce. Indeed, I have chronicled such moves on numerous occasions. Some of these groups have abandoned the exclusive truth claims of Christianity altogether, and think that having one big religious love-in is the way to go.
Many have renounced as unloving and intolerant those who seek to claim that Christ is the only way to reconciliation with God, and that most interfaith sessions are little more than unbiblical attempts at syncretism and compromise. Many see religious cooperation, if not a global religion, as the only helpful way forward.
Some are more faithful to the biblical mandate, but are still veering into risky territory. Some would still claim Christ as sole Saviour, but seem far too willing to embrace various aspects of the interfaith agenda. Let me mention just one recent example of this.
A friend mentioned hearing a leader of a Christian aid organisation speaking about their work. He said he was rather troubled when the leader proudly mentioned how after one disaster, this group got involved in rebuilding Muslim mosques. I must say that concerned me as well. It is of course one thing as an aid organisation to help everyone in a time of natural disaster.
And it would be acceptable to help rebuild homes, hospitals, and so on. But does a group which claims to be specifically Christian really need to get involved in mosque reconstruction? Surely looking after basic fundamental needs like food, clothing and shelter is one thing – but to effectively promote and assist a religion which denies the very heart of Christianity?
And if this is acceptable, then why stop there? Why not – as a means of showing God’s love and concern – help in mosque building projects in the first place? Maybe even help contribute to the printing and distribution of the Koran, all in the name of Christian tolerance and love.
What about helping to rebuild a damaged Masonic lodge, Watchtower building, or occult centre? After all, if we want to show people how much we care, and want to show our holistic ‘social justice’ credentials, then why not? And if we do engage in such activities – even for noble, if misguided reasons – then how do they differ from the two scenarios I mentioned above?
Indeed, while we constantly read in Scripture about the need to oppose – and even tear down – pagan altars and false religious structures, I am not aware of being told to help construct buildings for false gods and false religions. Why should that be part of the Christian charter, when the whole tenor of such an approach is condemned so strongly in Scripture?
These groups of course mean well. But good intentions are not enough. If we rebuild a Muslim’s home and give them physical aid after a disaster, that should be part and parcel of our Christian ministry. And it of course should also include telling these people – where possible – the biblical gospel.
But we should not be making things easier for them to remain in their false religion; we should be declaring to them the truth of the gospel. If they are concerned about rebuilding their mosques, let them do it. But I see no reason why we have to become complicit in their false religion in this way.
I don’t mean to single out any one organisation here. In all likelihood a number of such Christian groups would be heading in similar sorts of directions. And of course to focus on one dubious activity does not mean the groups are not doing much good in various other areas. In many ways they do tremendous work.
But it seems believers should be aware of the whole gamut of activities which these groups are involved in, and on that basis, decide how much support they might give to them. Some will find no problems with these activities, in which case, they can feel free to continue fully supporting these groups.
But given how rather glaring this particular practice seems to be in the light of the biblical record, it is at least worth being informed about it. It is always difficult when such groups seek to operate overseas, especially in hostile lands. But a biblical framework must always undergird any such efforts.
If even a healthy debate on some of these issues arises, then this post may be of some value.