Monday, December 03, 2007

Placebo of the Week

This week's placebo comes courtesy of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, and in the form of a document titled "Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to 'A Common Word Between You and Us.'"

Once the draft of the document, "A Common Word Between You and Us", was completed, it was signed by 146 (to date) Muslim clerics. The document was sent to "Christian" leaders around the world.

In response to the extended hand of this group of Muslim leaders, members of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture took it upon themselves to speak for Christians around the world, by taking the hand of the Muslim clerics, as a show of reconciliation and friendship. The "Loving God and Neighbor Together" document was signed by no less than 300 Christian theologians, authors, speakers, and pastors from a wide array of denominational and non-denominational backgrounds. Just to make sure the whole world knew what they were doing, the organizers of this effort took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, in order to publicly display the letter and reveal the plethora of signatories.

The signatories of the "Christian" response include such notables as:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
David Yonggi Cho, Pastor of reportedly the largest church in the world, in South Korea
Pastor Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church
Tony Jones, an Emergent Church leader
Brian McLaren, an Emergent Church leader
David Neff, Editor in Chief & Vice President, Christianity Today Media Group
Dr. Robert Schuller, Crystal Cathedral
Rev. Dr. John Stott
George Verwer, Founder of Operation Mobilization
Jim Wallis, President, Soujourners
Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

The signatories represent a number of notable Christian colleges, seminaries, and organizations including:

Fuller Theological Seminary
Biola University
Union Theological Seminary
National Association of Evangelicals
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Bethel University
Bethel Seminary
Asbury Theological Seminary
Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Wheaton College
Emergent Village
The Navigators
Association of Vineyard Churches

Books can be written (and likely have been written) about the numerous false assertions made by the authors and signers of the "Christian" response. I will not take the time to do that here. Instead, I will briefly turn my attention to statements made in three subsections of the "Christian" response: "Common Ground," "Love of God," and "The Task Before Us."

In the subsection titled "Common Ground," the authors and signatories state the following:

"What is so extraordinary about A Common Word Between Us and You is not that its signatories recognize the critical character of the present moment in relations between Muslims and Christians. It is rather a deep insight and courage with which they have identified the common ground between the Muslim and Christian religious communities. What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and love of neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam as well. That so much common ground exists—common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith—gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together. That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities."

And in the subsection titled "Love of God":

"We applaud that A Common Word Between Us and You stresses so insistently the unique devotion to one God, indeed the love of God, as the primary duty of every believer."

The "placebo" in these sections of the letter should be easy to identify. The authors and signatories of the "Christian" repsonse not only suggest, but wrongly affirm, that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The god of Islam is not the God of the Bible. This spurious linking of arms with Muslims is predicated upon the false belief that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Have the signatories forgotten that Islam denies the deity of Christ? Koran 5:75 says, "The Messiah, son of Mary, is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate!"

Have the signatories forgotten that Islam sees Jesus as merely a great prophet, second to Muhammad, and that He is not the Son of God? Koran 9:30 says, "The Jews said, 'Ezra is the son of GOD,' while the Christians said, 'Jesus is the son of GOD!' These are blasphemies uttered by their mouths. They thus match the blasphemies of those who have disbelieved in the past. GOD condemns them. They have surely deviated."

Have they forgotten that Islam denies the crucifixion of Christ ? Koran 4:157-158 says, "And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him - they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise."

Finally, in the subsection of the document titled "The Task Before Us," we read:

"Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that 'our eternal souls' are at stake as well."

The future of the world depends on the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together in peace? Are you kidding me? Our eternal souls are at stake, based upon our ability to be at peace with the practitioners of a false religion? What verse is that?

Have Fuller, YWAM, Biola, Navigators, and the other supposedly evangelical organizations represented by the signatories of the "Christian" document forgotten that the fate of the world and the salvation of each and every person is not contingent upon human ability?

The future of the world has already been determined by the One True and Sovereign God--the God of the Bible. And the salvation of mankind is not up to the efforts of mankind. Have these "Christian" leaders and organizations forgotten that a person is saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone?

Have they forgotten that salvation is not by works, or by calls for peace when there is no peace, or through ecumenism, or through efforts to make the world a "better place"? Salvation is the gift of God the Father to those whom he draws to Himself by the power of God the Holy Spirit, extending to them the gifts of repentance and faith in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ--ONE GOD in THREE PERSONS!

Should we love our neighbor? Yes, we should love our neighbor, whether they are Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheist, or whether they come from any other spiritual or non-spiritual background. But we should not love them the way the signatories of this blasphemous document suggest we love them--by linking arms with members of false religions and leading them to believe that we have anything in common, spiritually speaking. We should not love people by lying to them about their true, spiritual condition and the reality that if they worship any god other than the God of the Bible they are idolaters and bound for hell.

We should love our neighbors enough to die for them, even at their hands, as we speak the truth to them, in love--the truth of the Law and the Gospel.

I wonder if the signatories will try to find a way to get this "can't we all get along letter" to real Christians who have been imprisoned and tortured and have refused to bow their knee to the false god of Islam? I wonder if they will send the letter to the families of Christian martyrs who live in Islamic controlled areas of the world? And I wonder how it would be received.

Sadly, many professed Christians are going to swallow the placebo being offered by the signatories and others like them. I pray that you, the reader, are not one of them. If you are, then please, read on.

There are many spiritual placebos being distributed these days. Here’s an example: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He longs to have a relationship with you, just the way you are. You’re a good person, but you have a God-shaped hole in your heart that only He can fill. Just pray a simple prayer and Jesus will come into your heart. Then, He will fix your relationships, heal your diseases, get you out of debt, and help you make the most of your life.”

If you have heard a message like this, then you’ve been given a placebo—a message intended to please you, but will do nothing to heal your disease. The disease is called sin and, without a cure, it is fatal. Examine yourself and see if you have any of the symptoms.

Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Then by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart. When you die from this disease (sin) and stand before God, He will find you guilty of breaking His commandments and sentence you to eternity in hell.

But there is good news. There is a real cure, and there is only one. God doesn’t want to send you to hell. So, He sent His sinless Son, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh. He took upon himself the punishment you deserve for your sins against God when He shed His innocent blood and died on the cross. Three days later, He defeated death when He rose from the grave.

So, what must you do to be saved? You must confess your sins against God, repent (turn away from your sins), and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, right now. Stop taking the placebo. It cannot save you. Repent and believe the gospel. It is the only cure and your only hope.

8 comments:

M. Baker said...

Tony,

Thanks for posting this. I plan on linking to it from my own site. The signatories from "Evangelical" Christianity who signed on with this are both willfully blind, or have not ever come into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ in the first place.

Although the Lord has used the American Evangelical Christian community in a mighty way since the Millennium to reach the world for the Gospel, the "tares among the wheat" have now become more visible.

May we continue to prevail, nonetheless, with the Holy Spirit and the truth of the clear Word of God in these critical times, as the Lord exposes this fraud.

Anonymous said...

No, the signers haven't forgotten this. See Leith Anderson's comments on why Christians do not have interfaith services with Muslims in the Chicago Sun Times article listed here: http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/religion/663945,CST-NWS-faiths23.article. It's an excellent piece. His quote is as follows: "Evangelicals want good relations with people of all faiths, but they don't want people to gloss over the genuine differences that exist among religions, said the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

"We welcome conversation but tend not to participate in worship events together," he said. "As Christians, our worship is to the God and father of Jesus Christ, and we want to join together with people who speak with the same voice."

Tony Miano said...

To Anonymous:

If Anderson was quoted accurately in the article, then why would he sign a blasphemous document that asserts Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

If he truly believes what he was quoted as saying, then he should repent for signing the letter to the Muslims and make it clear that it was a critical lapse in judgment to sign the document--because Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God.

There can be no real unity (unity that honors God), on a spiritual level, between Christians and the practitioners of false faiths (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Andrew Ramsey said...

do you think YWAM Denver got what they deserved just because they signed this thing? what encouragement would you give for a YWAMer who does not hold to what this document says?

Tony Miano said...

Andrew,

I see that you are a YWAM missionary in Las Vegas. So, I'm going to assume that there is anger, pain, and sorrow behind your questions.

What happened at the YWAM facility and at New Life Church is tragic and yet one more sad affirmation of the depravity of man.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Tiffany Johnson and Phillip Crouse, the other missionaries that were wounded, those who were wounded and the family of the person killed at New Life Church, as well as the YWAM and New Life families. My thoughts and prayers are also with the family of the murderer. And I extend my condolences to you, to the extent these tragedies have affected you personally.

In answer to your first question: No, I do not believe that Tiffany and Phillip's deaths were God's punishment for Lynn Green's (YWAM International Chairman) poor decision to sign the "Loving God and Neighbor Together" document.

I can also say with all confidence that I do not know the mind of the Lord. Why He allowed the Colorado tragedies to happen is beyond my finite and fallible mind's ability to fully comprehend.

But I do know this. God is sovereign. Even in the midst and in the aftermath of tragedy, He is sovereign and in complete control. He allowed these tragedies to happen for a reason, which will, in the end, bring Him honor and glory. This in no way alleviates the murderer of his personal responsibility for the heinous act (or acts, if the two incidents prove to be related).

I am trusting God, as I hope you are and will, to bring good from these tragedies--namely that He will use these tragedies to draw genuine followers of Christ closer to Himself; and that He will use these tragedies to draw unbelievers to genuine repentance and faith.

As to your second question regarding what encouragement can I bring to YWAMers who do not agree with the assertions of the document (assuming you are referring to the document signed by Lynn Green and hundreds of others): I will say this. Keep your eyes on Christ. Mourn to the extent that such mourning will bring about healing and a drawing closer to Christ. But keep your eyes on Christ and purpose to work even harder on the mission of the Great Commission.

Do as Jesus did when He was asked in Luke 13 why people died so tragically. Call people to repentance. "And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish'" (Luke 13:2-3)

Do the opposite of what the signers of "Loving God and Neighbor Together" have done. Exalt the name of Jesus Christ and love lost people enough to tell them the truth about their lost condition and the very real consequences of remaining in their sin and unbelief (eternity in hell as the just punishment for their sins against God). Then share with them the only good news that can save their lives--the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tell them that their only hope is to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

Andrew Ramsey said...

i am going to be honest with you. this shooting has affected me as a ywamer and an evangelist. i now know how you feel when you hear about a fallen police officer putting their lives on the line to enforce the Law. i am just saddened to hear such news, but i rejoice because tiffany and phil put their lives on the line for the Gospel.

i am not angry with God about anything nor am i angry with you, tony. i know God is soverign and he has a reason for this. i enjoy listening to you on WOTMR. but when i first heard about this document being signed by Lynn Green i was in shock. i almost was thinking that you might have brushed everyone in ywam with a broad stroke and i would have rebuked you saying that as a ywamer i denounce any alliance with the enemy and that there are some people that are true to scripture.

and then when i heared about the shooting and everything changed. i kept on wondering if God was almost punnishing our organization because of one man's signature on a placebo pact with muslims. pretty much what my whole day was confusion. so i felt compelled to ask you personnally insted of letting everything stew up in my head. i just couln't help but to think about putting two and two together. now i guess this time, it doesn't equal four. thank you so much for making things clear for me.

out of this conversation tonight, i am looking forward to having you as one of my links of friends on my blog. please pray that out of this mess that God will raise up more missionaries, especially ones going into YWAM that do evangelism biblically, the way Jesus did.

Tony Miano said...

Andrew,

I, too, am glad we've had this conversation.

Looking back at my article, I can see how one sentence I wrote could be misinterpretted as painting everyone within the mentioned organizations (including YWAM), with a broad brush. So, allow me to reaffirm that I understand that there are people like you, Andrew, within the organizations represented by some of the signatories, that DO NOT agree with the signatories; and, instead ARE working hard to uphold Scripture and spread the one, true gospel.

Again, not knowing the mind of the Lord; could it be that part of the good that could come from this tragedy is this very conversation we are having with each other? This is my hope. And I think we can thank God for this.

Father, I lift up my brother, Andrew, to you. Lord, he rightly likened Tiffany and Phillip's deaths to the loss of an officer in the line of duty. Just as all of the law enforcement community mourns the loss of one of its own, I am sure the world-wide YWAM family is mourning the loss of two of its missionaries. May your grace and mercy be sufficient for the entire YWAM family.

And for Andrew I pray that Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard His heart and mind. I pray, Father, that you will be with him through this time of grief and mourning. And I pray that You will turn his mourning into resolve as He seeks to serve You with His whole heart, by furthering Your gospel, in the Las Vegas area.

Lord, I do believe that in Your providential will, part of the good that has already come from today's tragedy, is that Andrew and I have met and talked. I pray that edifying conversations like this one are taking place around the world, as Your people try to not simply make sense of the tragedy, but see Your will and sovereignty in it. And Lord, I trust You will show Your people that Tiffany and Phillip's deaths were not in vain. I look forward to seeing You move in a mighty way--saving lost souls as a result of this tragedy. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Andrew, if there is anything I can do to provide you with "back-up" as you do the work of an evangelist, please do not hesitate to call on me.

David Wood said...

Interestingly, these Muslim scholars claim that Islam teaches them to be friends with Christians. Yet the Qur'an says exactly the opposite: "O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends" (5:51). There is an exception, however. Surah 3:28 tells Muslims that they shouldn't become friends with non-Muslims, unless they do so as a precautionary measure. That is, Muslims can pretend to befriend non-Muslims when they feel threatened by non-Muslims. And what do we find in the letter from Muslim scholars? "Let's be friends, that's what Islam teaches!" No. Islam teaches you to pretend you want to be friends. And there's a difference.

All of this came out rather clearly in a recent debate between Sam Shamoun and Nadir Ahmed:

Debate: Is Islam a Religion of Peace?