Part III of the Facebook Wall conversation that inspired the recent Top Ten Sins Christians Didn't Commit Video.
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I personally haven't studied the Koran, and can't speak to it as any kind of expert. I do know that there are very contradictory sayings of Mohammed, some urging restraint and peace, and others urging its followers to find pagans and believers in the book (the bible) and subdue, cut off their hands, feet, or kill them. When you have verses that so plainly call it's followers to act out in violence, it's no wonder that we have the problem with terrorism that we see in the world today. As far as the last 2000 years of Christianity goes, I cannot defend church history. I believe that a lot of politically minded people have used the church as a means to get what they want. I cannot defend those actions, but I can defend the scripture; nowhere in scripture does Jesus ask us to take arms against unbelievers as a means to convert them to truth, or punish them for unbelief.
About middle ground in conversation concerning muslims: take a trip through Africa, middle east, around the Maylay Archapelligo, then offer middle ground for conversation. There is no middle ground. Jesus came to take the punishment of all who claim Him. Mohamad came in Madina claiming his god was the family moon god. He founded Islam by knocking off a few caravans then set seige upon Mecca. Jesus says to love you neighbors. Islam says to slay those who reject Islam. Jesus says to love the man but not the sin. Islam says subject man in servatude, voluntary or involuntary; and they will be happy to cut your throat.
A hike through their lands will be enough of a study of their Koran, because the fruits tell of their nature. The one thing that people forget about Islam is also tribalism. Find a friend in the Ivory Coast and he will point out the 'bad boy, bad boy.' First recognition for them is tribal. You've got to study history to understand that, and that has no necessary connection with any religion.
Until you're willing to look at the Old Testament and Christian history with the same scrutiny you're willing to look at Islam with, this dialogue is pointless, because Western Christendom is guilty of just as much (if not more) bloodshed. That's not opinion, it's World History 101. Moreover, the Old Testament is rampant with genocide and warfare in the name of YHWH.
I am a lifelong Christian, and a committed seminary student, so I'm not taking cheap potshots hear from the fringe. The faith is precious to me. But I see no value whatsoever in defending Christianity from sins it is clearly guilty of, or from attacking other religions for dysfunction endemic to humanity (Christians included), not a particular sect or religious group.
Self-validation is not a fruit of the spirit.
Compromising to middle ground with murders is no fruit of the Spirit either. I try to seperate the church organization from that of simply being a Christian. A Christian will follow Jesus even when it conflicts with church doctrine, or a prince. Jesus never promoted murder of non-believers. Peter, as you study, don't pass off on tribalism. It is a breading gound for Islam. Most of what you have heard from africa and other places where rebels are active, are Muslim. The pirates you read about, are Muslim. They promote it. A Christain does not, no matter what the church, or prince, does. Therein is why there is no middle ground of compromise.
I think one of the major differences between the modern Christian, and the historical Christian is the readiness of the Word. The bible wasn't translated into a common language until fairly recently in Church history. Before Martin Luther translated scripture into German, you needed to be a scholar in a historical language in order to search the scriptures as Paul commended the Bereans. The ability of a ruler to manipulate the people in the name of the God of the Bible was much easier to do 1000 years ago than it is today, and I think history testifies to that. I agree that war and murder are the fruits of man's selfish ambition, not of the Spirit. That is why I cannot defend church history, but I also understand Peter's point how the world has difficulty in separating the difference.
(to be continued)