Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fundamentalists vs anti-Fundamentalists

Scott McKnight, at Jesus Creed, is changing his blogging platform. Right now, he has posts up at both his old site and his new one (different posts). I'm not sure how it happened, but one of the posts, prominently visible, as though it was posted in the last few days, is this one, dated 17 Dec., 2008. Maybe the dating thing on the blogging environment isn't working properly, or what? Anyway it's a good blog post about fundamentalists, and how people who have switched to newer ideas can be just as opinionated and hard shelled about their new position as they were about their fundamentalist ideas. Anyway, go there for a good read, and while you're there, take not of their new URL.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

...and now, Islamophobia

I just now posted a blog about homophobia, and I read one by Brian Mclaren about Islamophobia.

Apparently, last year, he observed the fast of Ramudan. Before you quibble, what does the Bible actually say about Ramudan? Where is the command to stay away from it?

In much the same spirit, here's couple of blog posts I did a few years back: Letter to a Moslem and The Blessings of Ishmael (the latter was posted just a few days after 9-11)

There's a lot of debate, both in Christian circles and Moslem, as to what extent does the Koran support terrorism. A lot has to do with the definition of jihad. To some, it means all out war against infidels -- thus, a mandate to plant bombs on aeroplanes. To others, it simply means the struggle against sin and injustice, whether it be an inner struggle or outward activism. Since I'm not an authority on Islamic theology, I'll leave it to the experts, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Two more sticking points would be that Islam doesn't believe that Yeshua died on the cross and rose again. They believe he came from God, and is something far beyond any other human prophet. They even call Him the Word. However, the issue of Messiah's death is a major stumbling block (as the cross often is).

The other point is that they don't believe it proper to call Yesua the son of G-d, as Allah doesn't have children. On that point, I wonder if that wasn't a reaction to some Christians during Mohamed's day treating the issue as though G-d had given birth to Yeshua like a human father, through Mary. I could see their point. However, that isn't such a major hurdle, as they still refer to Yeshua as The Word of Allah. In Christian theology, the Word is really what we mean by "begotten of the Father", so in a dialogue with Moslems, we can easily refrain from saying "Son of G-d" and use "Word of G-d" instead.

So, we're left with the stumbling block of the cross, which I'm willing to bare.

Apart from that, there are a number of things that Moslems do better than most Christians, and one of them is fasting, which is what Brian Mclaren did last Ramudan.

Good Samaritan -- retold

I believe there is a difference between homophobia and simply believing that homosexuality isn't G-d's intention for human sexuality. Homophobia affects who we make friends with, how we do politics, and generally gets us tied up in knots.

I don't consider myself homophobic, but I believe that, according to the Bible, homosexuality isn't the right choice. I also don't believe being an alcoholic is the right way, nor sex outside of marriage, nor experimenting with potentially harmful drugs. In the various jobs I've held, I've been good personal friends with people in probably all these categories. I still keep in touch with some of them via Facebook and Skype. None of them calls me alcoholo-phobic, sexo-phobic or drugo-phobic. I just don't indulge in those lifestyles, myself, and my belief in Yeshua keeps me away from it. I also don't believe in bowing down to idols, but I have no trouble at all living in Thailand, where most people do -- including good friends.

I actually don't know anyone whom I'm certain is gay, but I hope they differentiate between homophobia and simply believing it's not G-d's way. However, I have heard rhetoric from that general direction that seems to leave out that option. I'd gladly discuss the subject with them over a pint down at the pub. Just one pint, mind you -- more than that, I start feeling it in the head -- but make it the pub of your choice.

Now, on the other side, here's a news story that makes me think. If Yeshua were telling his parables today, would he have told his story of the Good Samaritan in this context? This was brought to my attention by Tony Jones on Twitter (@jonestony) and it points to a blog post entitled A Modern Good Samaritan Story: Gay Couple Saves Life of Homophobic Neighbor. It's an interesting story that makes one think.

Now, the original story of the Good Samaritan: Yeshua seemed to have a lot of good things to say about individual Samaritans. However, he also agreed with the concusses of Orthodox Judaism that Samaritanism wasn't the right way (John 4:22). They only believed in the Torah, and rejected the Prophets. They refused to worship in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and didn't believe in the Davidic lineage -- which hit at the very basis for Yeshua's claim as Messiah. But it was the Samaritan, in the story, who obeyed the great commandment.

I'm sure many would believe that Yesuah would, without any reservation, have used a Palistinian instead of a Samaritan, or had a Catholic saving a Prod near the peace line in Belfast (or vice versa), or a black saving a Ku Klux Klaner... would he have used the example as recorded in the news story?