Can Christianity and Islam be reconciled?
This is a complex question. Namely, one question cannot satisfy the parameters of the problem, and that at least two questions are needed.
But this means it is only a hypothetical. For the first question is If...? and the second question is Then...?
One cannot be certain that even if the If...? is given, that the answer of the Then...? will follow.
The real power to appeal to Muslims is in being able to communicate the truth to them.
And this is only valuable if the Muslims are really interested in truth at all.
The truth about
Christians feel their system is best at answering these questions. Obviously, Muslims do as well. (And everyone believes [i]they[/i] have the answer, or the answer most meaningful to them, or else why should they hold it?)
The belief of Christian evangelicalism is that if we argue strong enough, powerfully enough, with enough truth, broadcast it on enough stations, to the widest audience, with the most published materials, that the Muslims will eventually see the superior truth of our religion.
There are two ways that that might go.
1- Either the Muslims are not interested in the truth, but only power and authority, or to be seen, themselves, as authorities.
2- Muslims are interested in the truth about life and about God, just as we are. And therefore we have a powerful common ground to appeal to them on.
But you cannot argue that one is morally constrained to do good, to a person who only believes in power and "might makes right", and that power, law, the appearance of power and the color of law, are ends in themselves.
If Muslims are motivated to seek the truth, then the pivot point of Christian evangelicalism is that it has it, and that it communicates it effectively.
It does not.
I have no way to quantify the effects of any element that contribute to this problem, but I know if we target the "truth" element then we can better quantify and finally solve the problem.
To adopt a line from earlier and to modify it with a pertinent and necessary argument...
"If Muslims are interested in the truth..." Let us assume they are. Now let us take a step back and acknowledge that often Christians advocate for demonstrably false teachings, known errors.
If Muslims are certain of the epistemological supremacy of their religion, a large reason for that is because Christians have made it that way. The Muslims are not going to accept a shady argument from a liar that they know to be false. For that reason, a Muslim holds on to a kernel of truth that their religion teaches but misses the opportunity to hear a more full presentation of the truth.
Christians are wrong on such basic points, and are so stubborn in their refusal to acknowledge how wrong they are, that no sincere man can fully adopt their arguments, or I'm afraid, any of them.
Part of this is dynamically propped up, from basic presuppositions of their faith, to institutional dynamics.
If a pastor has the truth, if a missionary has the truth, then his real selling power, if the occasion arises that a more knowledgeable member in his personal audience stands to correct him (even for miniscule error), is to shut him down, shout him down, deny, deny, deny.
Very cynically, the pastor calculates he does not lose much. If he admits error, he might lose a great deal of his audience, who now see that he really is an ordinary person like we are and that he isn't so profoundly knowledgeable on spiritual matters as he pretends to be (in my opinion, a greatly exaggerated fear. For me, it takes strength of position and character to acknowledge an error). Yet if he strenuously defends his position, his acolytes will love him all the more, and perhaps in the best case, he will only run off one potential convert, who likely would only have caused problems for him anyway.
Further, in the hierarchical system, which is really any system that man has created, a pyramid, top down system*, it's very hard for authority to admit at any time it has made a mistake. Because if there is one man, or one council, that we all answer to, then even if they are wrong, AND we call them out, then it is very possible they acknowledge the error, but also illustrate that you have committed insubordination by announcing their error.
*( And contrast this with God's system which is about servanthood. Such as Jesus saying, that if any man seeks to rule over you he would have to become your servant. Or Who said, the Son of Man hath not come to be served, but to serve others. This is very different from man's system, where one proud, and weak man
is so afraid of losing it, that he demands everyone be beneath him and answer only to him.)
So the problem, the cancer of authority, and hierarchical structure, is that the frail, prideful man that it all leads to, is not endowed with strong wisdom to be able to righteously direct it, he will make mistakes, and if he is new to this, he will try to cover it up.
I'm saying there are forces at work in evangelical Christianity that are undermining our position and witness!
If Christianity teaches the truth, we can contemplate the reasons why no one else is accepting it. I want to announce, that we are not special. It is not because they are jealous of us, or they envy us, or because the devil has taken hold of them.
It is because we ourselves are advocating error!
I would jump at the opportunity to see a true, inspired presentation of the holy Gospel to noble Muslims, from Christians who can very sensitively convey their message and meanings to them, and never conveying antipathy toward Islam or their Prophet, but to diligently stress the truth our message contains, and the Saviour it heralds.
I have heard venom directed at Islam, and Muslims, and in terms of the problem, as an equation, I see that no one would appreciate a rival sect or people who by their actions, day in and day out, live to antagonize them and their beliefs. I have no way to discern how much of Muslim resistance is from stubbornness and how much we have created ourselves!
In that sense, I sympathize very readily with Muslims!
And yet, it's also clear that Islam has varying factions, and voices, vying for attention within it. Not every Muslim on TV or radio speaks for every other Muslim. And just as Christianity has its demagogues, Islam does as well. Some of these demagogues hold the same antipathy towards the West and Christianity, as many westerners and Christians hold for Islam.
I want to see these voices neutralized and for the noble in both camps to have a dialogue.
Muslims need a presentation of the holy Gospel.
This means your job as a Christian, if you are talented in eloquent public speaking, in spiritual things, and reaching out, to make yourself useful. If you are not gifted in these things, please shut up and stay out of my way and stop making this more difficult for everyone else.
You stupid Westerners are going to get a lot of people killed because of your stupid rhetoric. Charlie Hebdo is complicit in genocide and hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world. (Aww, you never heard anyone say that yet, did you?) Many in the east feel this is a fair representation of who we are, and churches have burned, and Christians murdered in retaliation for the jokes of morons in comfortable Parisian office buildings and apartments. And even Muslims will suffer backlash, because many of them do not authorize the inter-religious killings of non-believers and believe this will end badly for them as well.
As to what constitutes the error that I have referred to so often in this article, I am going to wisely withhold that information at the present time. The errors that Christianity teaches are not tangential in any way and are not footnotes. They are given center stage in our religion and to many represent non-negotiable salvific truths. Many are embodied as components to orthodoxy and for me to append these disputations now to this letter, will only diminish the value of this letter to illustrate the forces at work in this vexing problem.
Many are unable to rightly divide between very valuable teachings and the appearance of error contained therein. This message has its greatest effect by succinctly acknowledging that this problem exists, defining it, and anticipating a resolution.
Further reading on these errors will be found on virtually every other page of this blog.