|A Burning Question of Faith?|
Afgan burning tyres in protests
Freedom of religion must be reciprocated to make sense. Unlike America, there is little religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq where conversion to Christianity may be a death sentence just like being gay. The protest against the planned burning of the Koran (now cancelled) and threatening violence is against the moderate perception of faith. The right to build Cordova House near ground zero is the same right as Rev Terry Jones to burn the Koran. Both are insulting to the other’s religion, yet, once we support only Cordova house to be built, we are showing partiality. We must be consistent in our approach to religious faith.
Religious Freedom comes with accountability of not causing harm. Otherwise, it becomes a license for sin condoned in the name of god. No voice was heard to criticize the threats of the Afghans and Pakistanis to kill Americans. Whilst it was wrong for the Christian Fundamentalist to be insensitive, the harsh reaction of the Muslims does more harm than good and actually vindicates the actions of Rev. Terry Jones.
The US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, had earlier exerted pressure against Rev Jones advising "his grave concern that going forward with this Quran burning would put the lives of our forces at risk". Earlier, Jones had said that contact by White House might change his mind. Yet, Robert Gates did nothing when the Iraqis hunted down gays in the streets of Bagdad or when Iran hanged many thousands.
The extreme reaction contradicts our assertion that most are moderates. A well known Cleric Rusli Hasbi in Indonesia, said, "If he'd gone through with it, it would have been tantamount to war,". He said "A war that would have rallied Muslims all over the world." Religion is a hot button issue because of the dangers religious fundamentalism. Religion is only moderate if it is a private faith, respecting the freedom of choice, and we do not seek to impose our views or religious laws on others especially when we are in the majority. There must be a separation of religion and the secular state.
Mat 5:43 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
What would have happened if they had burned the bible instead? we would continue to bless them in return. That is the message of authentic Christianity of showing love, demonstrating God’s grace and mercy, and not to cause harm. We do not worship the bible, we worship Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The bible by itself does not give life, for the life of the bible comes from the Holy Spirit. If our faith is based on the bible alone that we would be so angered by its destruction as to harm others, then the Spirit of God is not with us, but the Law which leads to death and condemnation.
We are to love our enemies, because Jesus showed the way of grace. His way is not to revenge but to do the opposite, to die for us and for them. At the Cross of Calvary, He could have sent thousands of angels to wipe out Jerusalem, yet He chose the much harder path, to love, to give Grace and Mercy, to suffer and sacrifice Himself even though He was sinless.When we have communion, we are breaking His body, breaking the Word of God, and breaking the bible.
In Malaysia, the Christian Right’s concerns is well reflected in the Elijah Challenge/Full Gospel Assembly KL site “Dr. Peter Hammond: Isl--m is a system”. However, we are reminded that Gays (not Christians) are the targets and for many liberals there is denial for it will deconstruct our theology that these religions are somehow religions of peace. Many gays from Palestine are escaping into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem after being hunted down like dogs.
In contrast, authentic Christianity is about us dying and sacrificing for others, and not sacrificing others to please our gods. The Christian Faith is a religion of opposites, opposite to the world system and all the religions within it. The world exalts the rich, whilst Christians are to exalt the poor and the outcasts. The world is ruled by the rich, the powerful and the wealthy, yet Christians are call to serve and to be servants for the First is the Last.
Religions that are Law based, with an eye for an eye approach are only justifying themselves rather than showing benevolence. The Rev Jones was an unknown and should not be taken seriously by the Press, and by the religious community. The Press was making it a sensational issue in the backdrop to the Cordova House debate. Sadly, one spark is all it takes to burn an entire forest. Moderates could become fundamentalist overnight by over reacting and causing harm in the name of religion. This is the slippery slope of religious fundamentalism in Singapore.
John 3:17, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Rev Terry Jones, has much to learn about being Christ like. He has a right to religious faith, but this right must not cause harm which if the burning goes ahead will cause many deaths. The fundamental principle of Christianity should be of sacrifice, as opposed to causing harm. We are to die that others may live. Life and liberty is precious for Christians because Jesus died for the very least. Everyone is of sacred worth and a child of God for Jesus Christ died for each one of us that we may have the opportunity to receive Him into our lives.
Authentic Christianity is not about condemnation, nor criticizing the sins or religions of others. Jesus Christ came not to condemn but to reveal that He is the way, the truth and the life. When we start engaging in condemnation, we fall easily into partiality where we will even condemn the small spec in the eyes of a gay lamb, but fail to see the big log in our eyes. Once, we go down this road of perdition to criticize others and their religions, we will lose our own souls and our faith no longer based on Christ crucified for us and we begin crucifying others for our religious expediency. We will end of crucifying the poor gay lamb at our Cross and roast him/her to be eaten up whole.
Demnading our rights even the right to hate and to deny others the
basic humanity contradicts the Christian Faith which encourages us to
give up our rights, our lives, for the Kingdom of God. For Jesus died
for us, to show us the way of sacrifice.
Demnading our rights even the right to hate and to deny others the basic humanity contradicts the Christian Faith which encourages us to give up our rights, our lives, for the Kingdom of God. For Jesus died for us, to show us the way of sacrifice.