Muslims agree that the church should stop watering down the message
A wake-up call for the liberal elements of the church
A recent news report claims that there is division within the Church of England on whether to proclaim Jesus as the only way to salvation and on how to evangelize to Muslims.1
Paul Eddy, a lay member of the church’s General Synod who is training to become a priest says that the church should stop avoiding hard questions about its beliefs. Instead, being upfront about one’s beliefs would actually be helpful to Muslim-Christian relations. He added, ‘Most Muslims that I’ve talked to say, “I really wish that Christians would stop watering down their faith and expecting us to do the same,” … Until we start really saying what we really believe in our faith, there will be no respect.’
Certainly, the Anglican Church in the UK has been suffering declining attendances for many years, which onlookers put down to the fact that many aren’t sure what the church is supposed to represent any more. This is evidenced by the fact that many unused churches have been sold and converted for other uses such as retail stores, YMCAs, and even mosques. Quite simply, if one tries to be all things to all people you can end up representing nothing. Late in 2007, I recall doing ministry at an Anglican church in England. That happened because the local reverend decided to make a stand on the authority of Scripture—the CMI–UK CEO, Philip Bell, told me that this was one of very few times that CMI had ever been invited to minister in an Anglican church in that country.
What Mr Eddy says (above), really resonates with us at CMI. This is not just an issue for the Anglican Church in Britain. Ultimately, we’ve been battling the same issues within the wider church across the West for many years—particularly when they get caught up in the current trend of overt political correctness (see When will Europe wake up?) Sadly, the pastors/ministers of many churches are unwilling to have creation ministry. We are told, ‘You guys are too dogmatic. We want to be sensitive to others. We are not sure about Genesis.’ Of course, our focus has been on the origins issue and the book of Genesis, but this is where the ‘watering down’ starts. A few years ago, I also wrote about how missionaries from an organisation that operates on university campuses in Australia were told to steer questioners away when they asked questions about Genesis, creation or evolution despite being the very issues they were most questioned about. Read Christians ducking and weaving on campus.
What we need to know about Christ, our salvation and living a Christian life is contained in the Bible. If we are trying to evangelize to the lost but don’t really believe what we are supposed to believe, then how can we expect others to believe it? It is quite illogical to think that there can be many versions of ‘the truth?’ When we are talking about a key event in history (e.g. Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel, and the Birth, Death and Resurrection of Christ), it’s either true or it isn’t (isn’t it?). Either an event happened or it didn’t. For example, either Jesus was Resurrected (as the Bible says) or He wasn’t! And similarly, either God made the earth before the sun (as the Bible says) or He didn’t! Your beliefs cannot change what really happened in the past—either the Resurrection (and the creation of the earth before the sun) is a fact of history, or it isn’t, irrespective of how strongly you might believe either way. In other words, Christians might have a faith that can move mountains, but they cannot change history (i.e. what happened in the past). Sadly, many pastors/ministers only woke up to the fact that the Bible’s history was under attack when Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code gained prominence, whereas in fact the Bible’s history has long been under attack in a major way—i.e. since the widespread teaching of evolution as (supposed) true history.
And just look at the damaging effect that churchian compromise has had on the general public. Here’s a modern-day example of a ‘witnessing’ conversation:
|Christian (C):||‘You are a sinner and need to be saved’|
|Non-believer (NB):||‘Who says I’m a sinner? How do you know?’|
|C:||‘The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that Jesus is the only way to God.’|
|NB:||‘Yeh, but the Bible also says that God created the earth is six days. Surely you don’t believe that. Science has proven that incorrect.’|
|C:||(Gulps). ‘Ah but Genesis is just poetic and not to be taken literally.’|
|NB:||‘So if the Bible does not mean what it says in Genesis, then how can I be sure of the rest of it?’|
You see, that’s the problem. Most people outside the church believe the Bible to be one book. So if we disregard Genesis—where sin first entered the world—then we cannot point to the fact that we are all natural born sinners, and thus, our need for a Saviour. This is where many, in their desperate attempts to win people over and not offend, lose the centrality of the Gospel in a wishy-washy, seeker-sensitive morass of ‘easy believism’. The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘ … now is the day of salvation’. The implication is that tomorrow you may die and then it will be too late. Now some might regard those as uncaring insensitive words, but it demands a response—it is a call to action now! ‘Hopefully the responder is thinking, ‘What if this person is right?’ It’s because of concern for the non-believer’s welfare that we should be saying such things. It’s not our job to save people, but we are all called to speak the truth in love and be a good Christian witness. And don’t have an unrealistic expectation that every single person you witness to is going to be saved on the spot. How many Christians reading this article were saved the first time someone spoke to them about the Lord?
Being real … and relevant
Note Mr Eddy’s observation that even Muslims don’t want Christians to water down their faith. He pointed out that Muslims expect Christians to believe that Jesus is the only way to God, and said, ‘They will expect us—if we’re true Christians—to try to evangelize them, in the same way they will expect us, if they’re true Muslims, to adopt their faith.’
Well, of course Muslims would want us to ‘adopt their faith’—after all, they believe that they are the ones with the ‘truth’, not us. But in a level playing field, we believe and should be confident that the truth of Scripture and the very Gospel itself will win out—but only if we present a straightforward ‘Creation to Fall to Redemption message’. See our article called The Koran vs Genesis to show that the Koran’s origins view (unlike Genesis) does not fit with reality. It appears that Mr Eddy has a similar confidence in the power of the Gospel because he is urging Anglican bishops to give church members advice on how to evangelize, and how to better support Muslims who have converted to Christianity and are now ostracized by their communities. What a great idea—equipping the church. That’s been CMI’s goal for years and also one of the reasons we have a particular emphasis on materials and resources. It’s to encourage people to share them with others. In this way the Christian can:
- Be equipped and increase his/her confidence in witnessing with others.
- Use those very same resources to help present a clear and truthful message.
So come on church and fellow Christians
Let’s get out there and tell it like it is. I’m not saying we have to be rude or insensitive, but let’s avoid that politically correct notion that somehow telling someone the truth is wrong. Surely the one thing everyone wants to know is the truth!
Not surprisingly, some in the church have voiced anger at Mr Eddy’s proposal, which is to be discussed at a General Synod meeting on July 4–8, 2008. But he says, ‘Both Christianity and Islam are missionary faiths, … For years, we have sent missionaries throughout the whole world, but when we have the privilege of people of all nations on our doorstep, we have a responsibility as the state church to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’
We say ‘Amen’ to that. So, please pray for the once mighty Church of England and this upcoming meeting. That maybe at this meeting there will be an internal revival of sorts and that they will decide to make a stand on the authority of God’s Word. And moreover that they will take hold of Jesus’ words when He said, ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ and win Britain back to the Lord. At CMI, we are ready and willing to be of assistance with eager and fully-trained speakers and an array of appropriate resources to help spread the truth.