Interfaith Gone Wild

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.

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15 Replies to “Interfaith Gone Wild”

  1. I agree with you Bill. There’s a huge difference between respecting people of other faiths and respecting their gods.
    John Bennett

  2. Bill, my wife and I used to support an organization called Christian Children’s Fund for many years. Without warning, they changed their name by dropping the word Christian, and talking about the children having a “positive” image of themselves. When we rang their office to enquire about the changes, they vehemently denied any connection with Christianity at all. We quickly rescinded our sponsorship, despite their pleas that the 2 children we had been sponsoring were going to face some very difficult times. Although we felt sad about it, we felt our support could be used much more beneficially supporting a Christan organization which was going to use their finances to not only benefit the body, but more importantly, the spirit.
    Vic Trudeau

  3. Thanks Vic

    Yes there are many groups which started out as explicitly Christian which are much less so today, or are not really at all any longer, such as the YMCA.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. Great article Bill! 😉

    How we have drifted into this politically correct, spiritually inept space makes me wonder. I’ve often considered the scripture which talks about ‘… to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” What strength does this force exert that it can try to capture the heart of ‘even the elect’?

    That gives some indication of the power of deception, and our prayer should be that we as individuals and the Christian organsiations that we work within, cling steadfastly to the truth of the scriptures in all aspects of our lives – regardless of what scorn is heaped upon us (intolerant, judgemental, arrogant, etc).

    People that have a malformed biblical worldview will, in “the name of love”, ignore the most fundamental of biblical truths – like agreeing to build Islamic mosques for Muslim worship to Allah. This action tramples on what is clearly the most important ministry that a Christian has – and that is found in Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The first commandment is also dismissed by this action, “Have no other Gods before me!”

    When we love God first, what we do is held in check by that imperative – and we learn to love people correctly, which in this case means caring for people’s spiritual conditions in truth and pointing them to Christ (not Allah).

    But loving people above loving God is the first malformation of a biblical worldview.

    Peter Jackel

  5. Thanks Bill for another good article. As I read it I seem to recall that our military have/are building mosque/s in Afghanistan. Correct me if wrong.
    Denis Colbourn

  6. Thanks Denis

    Yes that could well be the case. And there might be some justification for a secular military force to do this – e.g., to win over the Afghanis, and wean them away from the Taliban, etc. But I find much less reason why any Christian group would resort to this, even as some sort of bridge-building exercise.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. You had me going for there for a moment Bill, but it does illustrate the point. I have never been the greatest fan of interfaith dialogue myself. I like it with other Christian dominations. With other religions though I am not so sure. It can have its place; I always feel we Christians are the ones who are compromising.
    Carl Strehlow

  8. Thanks Vic
    Im not a %100 sure of what im saying but here goes, it’s sort of like the children become Gods?
    Which could be a cunning plane from the enemy to under line the adult authority which is rightly put in place by GOD.
    Dont get me wrong, we are to love our children and Jesus in fact said ” who ever should hurt one of these and to have the faith of a child and so on.
    What do you think?
    Daniel Kempton

  9. Interfaith is a natural progression and extension of the ecumenical movement. Christian leaders like Chuck Colson, Rick Warren, Billy Graham etc are some of them who have all made their contribution towards this trend and development. Consider Billy Graham’s wider mercy theology and be dismayed. Sometimes I wish that what he teaches is true, as that will make evangelism unnecessary and anyone that believes in some kind of god will still be saved. It’s not a good idea speaking against them unless you want to be considered as being dogmatic, an extremist or worst still a heresy hunter.
    Barry Koh

  10. Yeah isn’t that weird, Barry, that as soon as speak against particular people like those you mentioned you’re instantly an ‘extremist’? I had that just this week, indirectly.
    They did acknowledge that they don’t believe everything that the pastors preach, but, still, it doesn’t mean you can write people off.
    But it seems clear that this type of logic leads to accepting the teaching of Muslim/Buddhist/Catholic people – because we can learn at least something from them.

    A question which I don’t really know the answer to though, is, where do you draw the line before you cut people off from teaching in your church? I guess you have to draw up a list of ‘fundamental’ beliefs and make a stand on them?

    Nathan Keen

  11. Nathan,
    Good thing they did not label you a pharisee. Lol
    Also, the problem with ‘fundamental beliefs’ is that it is also changing with the times. The popular thought today is that nobody can claim a monopoly to biblical truths. For example TD Jades modality view of the Holy Trinity is now no big issue as viewed by the fact that he is readily acceptable by many churches and church leaders. Some 50 years back he would have been declared a heretic. Nathan, with the way things are going now, I am getting confused myself. So sad.
    Barry Koh

  12. We must always take everything back to the scriptures. This is the only way to know which way to walk. We must know the scriptures intimately for ourselves because anybody can misrepresent that which the Bible says. Read ‘Love Wins’ by Rob Bell and you will know what I’m taking about (just ask Bill 🙂 ).

    We need to do all that we can to try and understand the scriptures based upon the writer’s intent (Both God and His inspired vessel used to pen the words) and not allow our own miniscule experiences to slant our interpretations of what the word says. While it is more easily said then done, a truly humble heart will ask God for the help and be open to the truth as proclaimed in the scriptures.

    Mario Del Giudice

  13. Bill,
    Coming from a so called “religious” background, when I became a Christian as an adult, I was shocked to find out that the church I grew up in (parents still attending) no longer even reads/discusses the Bible. And they only believe in doing good and loving each other. This made me realise that their “church” is just a social club where they pat themselves on the back and make their own rules up as they go along. I am confused as to why they even call it a church! They are all living a lie and it sickens me. Is this a common phenomena in today’s confused world?
    Angie Dorant

  14. I just read Angie’s comment – it does seem to be predominantly that Churches nowadays are so watered down and lukewarm, that they are social clubs.
    However there are some already planted in Victoria, Queensland and now New Zealand, that are preaching the un-compromised Biblical truth and discipling.
    Barb Hoc

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