I was challenged recently by a close friend of my wife. I posted a comment on my facebook page I had believed to be quoted from Bill Cosby, and found I agreed with the majority of what was said, so I re-posted it.
I have discovered since that it was actually a quote from a US Senator in a 2009 blog (http://tartanmarine.blogspot.com/2009/02/robert.html)
The current version of the post talks of people who deliberately leech from Western society, taking advantage of the average tax-payer by deliberately changing their appearances to prevent them being offered employment, and an array of social issues, but also it speaks of Islam.
Now I’m not someone who generally sets out to offend people, although the meaning of “tact” and “subtle” are alien concepts to me. I speak my mind, and feel free to disagree with me as much as you wish – I have my opinions, I believe in Biblical principles, and if you don’t then it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends in the worldly sense, but you’re unlikely to be in my innermost circle.
I’m hardcore. I believe the Bible literally – in the original language meanings, not necessarily the English translations as they are only as accurate as the individual translator when a word has a plethora of uses or meanings. English is not the rich language it once was, and as a consequence some nuances from the original get lost in translation. My favourite example is when a friend who’d studied geology told me we were living in the seventh major geological era. I thought about it, and suddenly Genesis makes sense. Exchange the word “day” for the word “Era” and suddenly we have a very different picture of creation. An era can be thousands of years, some even more. But the seventh is still a work in progress – like us.
Back to literal. The quote offending my wife’s best friend objects to the liberal Western society putting up with watering down their societies by allowing Islamic places of worship and schools to be built, whilst the countries many of these people have fled from refuse to allow Christian places of Worship or educational facilities to be privately funded. Indeed a group in one country, was prosecuted under a local Islamic “blasphemy” law ruling the use of “Allah” may only refer to Islam, no other deity. Fine with me, as I pray in the name of Jesus, but the local churches had printed a Bible in local colloquial language to teach the Gospel and had used “Allah” where in English “God” would have been used.
I’m not right-wing in most of my views, but I’m learning the value of principles. The Bible says we should let our Yes mean YES, and our no mean NO! Easy to say, but hard to do. Especially in a customer-service environment. Harder in a multi-cultured society like South Africa where individual beliefs are taken by many as sacrosanct.
I’m a firm believer that Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life. I know nobody comes to God the Father unless they accept His sacrifice. My wife’s friend knows I believe this, so we generally don’t speak of our religions to maintain the peace for the sake of her friendship with my wife.
This time was different. I believe CS Lewis said something to the effect that the Truth of the Christian Message will always provoke a reaction one way or the other. In this case, it was opposition. Strong opposition.
My agreeing with the statement did not alter when I found out it wasn’t Bill Cosby who’d made it. My understanding of the statement stands, and I will not try to water down the message. I acknowledge that the teachings of Islam have been twisted into a weapon to attack the West, just as 1000 years ago the teachings of Christianity were twisted to justify the Crusades (Genghis Khan school of Evangelism). A fundamentally peaceful teaching used to break spirits and wills and force that religion down people’s throats.
Christianity is about absolutes. Jesus’ message wasn’t “be good and we’ll accept you, regardless of who you believe in”, it was clear: Believe in Jesus and accept His sacrifice made in your stead, or die. Through the entire Bible we see God say this, but follow it instantly with the instruction to choose life because He loves us.
I love and respect my wife’s friends who are not Christians. They are entitled to their opinion, and to make their own choices. But I refuse to compromise my faith to accommodate theirs. If we go to their home for a meal I am not offered a pork chop, but halal beef or chicken. No wine with the meal. Don’t get me wrong, the food is delicious, and they are wonderful hosts – I enjoy her family’s company enormously, but they will not eat at our home. I don’t have Halal cookware. My pots and pans and crockery have ham, bacon or pork on it or prepared in it once a week on average, in fact I have ham sandwiches most days for work. I did, at one point, have 2 braai/barbeque griddles, one for Halal meat (with paper plates) and one for non-halal foods. I don’t any more. It was a waste of space. If you enter my home and eat my food, it will most likely not be Halal.
I don’t expect our muslim friends to provide non-halal food to us. I disagree with the faith, but it’s an individual’s right to choose.
There’s no space for grey in God’s world. Grey isn’t one thing or the other. And it never can be anything but grey once the world gets hold of it. The Power of Words results in misunderstanding & miscommunication when they are taken out of context.
I, along with millions of Christians around the world, believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to relationship with God. It’s not rocket science. Biblical scripture declares it to be so, and I have an ongoing relationship with God through Jesus that sustains me. I make mistakes, but they will not result in me being cast out into Hell because I accept the Salvation of the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. Anyone can.
But there’s no half measures in Christianity. Either you’re Christian or you’re not. Black or white.
There’s no room for grey.