Friday, 23 May 2014

Pastor McConnell, The Christian Faith and the Challenge of Islam

Well Christianity and Islam are back in the news again. Pastor Jim McConnell’s sermon in the Whitewell Tabernacle on “One God – One Faith” certainly drew a lot of media attention particularly because of what Jim had to say about Islam and its followers.

As preachers, one of our tasks is to teach truth. In order to do that sometimes we have to expose error.  We need to point out truth and error forcibly and clearly.  In a confused, mixed-up world words have to be used clearly and unambiguously and sometimes people might be offended by that.  Remember, even religious people were furious at some of the teachings of Jesus.  Paul upset people.  Both were persecuted and hounded because of what they taught. Persecution comes with the territory.
But also as preachers our words have to be weighed carefully, chosen wisely and delivered compassionately.  We must never appear to have mixed motives or personal agendas.  Do preachers always get that right?  Absolutely not – and in the online world and live stream and so on, the pressure is all the greater.

We live in a very PC world where tolerance is heralded as a virtue.  To appear intolerant of others beliefs or religion or sexual orientation, is regarded as the ultimate sin.  Preachers cannot bow to this pressure.  We must obey God rather than men.  Whatever the consequences

So what of Islam then?

It has 6 basic beliefs

Belief in Allah as the one and only God, in angels, in the holy books, in the Prophets... e.g. Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David),Isa (Jesus), Muhammad is the final prophet.  Belief in the Day of Judgement.. and belief in Predestination...

Simply, when you analyse Islam it is diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity.  In practice therefore its most fervent and misguided advocates often see Christianity as an ‘enemy’ and that sometimes leads to persecution and, in extreme cases, death.  This is the outworking of Sharia law.

Wikipedia in an impartial but factual way reports this about Sharia law.

“According to scholars of traditional Islamic law, the applicable rules for religious conversion under Sharia are as follows:

  • Leaving Islam is a sin and a religious crime. Once any man or woman is officially classified as Muslim, because of birth or religious conversion, he or she will be subject to the death penalty if he or she becomes an apostate, that is, abandons his or her faith in Islam in order to become an atheist, agnostic or to convert to another religion. Before executing the death penalty, Sharia demands that the individual be offered one chance to return to Islam.'
In other words if a Moslem converts to follow Christ, the death penalty may be applied.
But following Jesus means loving people, including our Moslem neighbours, caring for people and urging people of all creeds and religious beliefs to follow Christ.  Without fear or favour.  The pagan protestant and the religious Moslem – both equally need Christ.
As the mighty Peter once said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” Acts 4 v12


  1. Wise words in a wild world. Thanks for taking the time to write this, especially when even so many Christians are discussing what Pastor James did was right or wrong.

    1. There are so many elements to this that could be addressed such as what is a Pagan Protestant? Define "Tolerance". But most importantly when "We need to point out truth and error" our choice of words is all important. I did not hear love that I hear from Christ.

  2. Thanks for your comment. It is difficult to answer briefly when these are big issues. But basically a pagan Protestant is someone who finds cultural expression in calling themselves a protestant but without any personal understanding or allegiance to the faith for which the protestant reformers lived and died. "Tolerance" in our society basically permits and accepts any lifestyle or belief system except that which dares to claim uniqueness and dares to say that certain lifestyles and belief systems are wrong and sinful. Can denouncement of sin be tolerated in our society? Usually not! Finally, the love of Christ is wider, higher, deeper and longer than we can ever imagine. His love extends to the outcast and the stranger but his love would not allow him to ignore sin or error. He exposed it and then invited sinners to embrace his love and accept his mercy and forgiveness and grace and follow him in a new life. The response of many was "We will not have this man to reign over us"

  3. Thank you for taking the time to reply.
    So "Pagan Protestant" is a non sequitur and I think Christians should hold up a mirror to anyone who uses the word to describe a secular cultural sentiment. "Tolerance" does not support or condone.
    " Can denouncement of sin be tolerated in our society? Usually not!". Most people openly condemn murder, paedophilia, rape and so on.
    "Simply, when you analyse Islam it is diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity". If you believe in one God, Angels, Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David) and Isa (Jesus) then it can hardly be diametrically opposed.
    I agree with you that these are very difficult and complex issues and maybe it's just me but I can't imagine Jesus telling Mary that her prostitution was spawned in Hell even though He most certainly would not have encouraged her. Once again thanks for the chat, Roly