Words We Don’t Hear Often

(Reprinted from my post on Moscow’s Vision 2020, October 12, 2010)

I recently finished “Byzantium,” a historical novel about a 10-century Irish monk’s pilgrimage to Constantinople/Byzantium, and would recommend it highly; when my then-16-year-old eldest son read it, he said it changed his life. It had a pretty profound effect on me as well.

But toward the end of the book, something in it struck me, and I wanted to toss it out as an example of something other than the vicious, bigoted, ill-informed, shameful things said of Muslims by some Christians — even some in my own extended family. This is how author Stephen Lawhead, a committed Christ follower, described Islam, which, in the terminology of the day, employed terms like “Muhammedans” that we no longer use. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting departure from the ignorance and hate we see around us:

“. . . This, then, began my first acquaintance with the Muhammedans, who, I promptly learned, were not pagans, as I had first supposed, but a people who worshiped the same God as Christians and Jews, and, like them, revered the Holy Word. The knew somewhat of Jesu, but, like the Jews, did not hold him to be the Christ. Nevertheless, they were extremely devout, and very exacting in their ways and lived according to a set of laws laid down in a book, the Qur’an, written by one called Muhammed, a mighty prophet indeed. The chief tenet of their belief was, as I came to understand it, complete and utter submission to the will of God, a state they called islam.”

(Stephen R. Lawhead, Byzantium, Harper/Prism, 1996)

Now, I am obviously not a Muslim. And all Muslims are obviously not as devoted to Allah with the piety described by Lawhead — just as many, many Christians, and at times myself, do not live in the piety, humility, devotion, and submission to God that ideally describes Christianity. However, there is nothing in my faith that requires, much less endorses, hate and fear as a tool for noting the differences in our approaches to God.

I pray that I will achieve a state of islam in my worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and I pray for peace to rule the hearts of all Christians and Muslims and Jews bent on violence and prejudice — which is not a tenet of any faith.

2 Responses to “Words We Don’t Hear Often”

  1. Ashwin says:

    The problem with the world is not lack of devotees. There were plenty of devotees both before and after Christ. And a great many of them were more devoted to their deity than Christians are to the Triune God.

    The worshippers of Moloch for instance sacrificed infants to him with GREAT DEVOTION. See how they loved their lord.

    The fact that Muslims are extremely devoted to Muhammed’s teachings does not alleviate their condition. It makes it worse. In fact, like with all legalistic systems, the MORE rigourous their application to their system the WORSE it is for them.

    Your Irish monk might just as well have praised the devotion and exactness and submission of the Pharisees. And we all know what THEY did.

    If we wish to do right by our Muslim neighbours, the very LEAST we could do is acknowledge with clear eyes that their belief system is erroneous. Notwithstanding their piety, their righteousness is as rags. They need the Saviour.

  2. Ashwin, one thing I neglected to mention, and have since corrected, is that Lawhead is a committed, conservative Christian. That’s why his truthful, non-malicious description was so important for me to note.

    Of course devotion in and of itself doesn’t make a belief system commendable. Millions of LDS men, for example, believe fervently that they will progress to godhood in their own celestial kingdoms — equal to and of the same essence as Yahweh. Their devotion to that doctrine makes it no less horrid; in fact, it makes it more difficult to dissuade them.

    But the hate-filled, often erroneous rhetoric directed these days to Muslims by Christians is not Christlike, not usually accurate, not motivated by concern for evangelism, and not at all appropriate for any Spirit-filled believer. I was attempting to suggest a better approach, not to propose that anything one believes is just fine, as long as they reallyreallyreally believe it.

    And, as I said earlier, welcome back to Prevailing Winds!

    Keely

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