Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: Offending Islam

Image Over three years ago, Youcef Nadarkhani was cast into prison in Iran. His crime? Apostasy. Nadarkhani professes to be Christian, and serves as the Pastor of a Christian denomination in Iran. The authorities claim that he did not embrace his Christian faith until after he became an adult. It is a crime under Muslim law to reject Islam as an adult.

There were apparently inaccurate reports recently that Nadarkhani was executed for his “crime.” In fact, Iranian officials claim that Nadarkhani does not face the death penalty, but do not apologize for his imprisonment.

…Iranian human rights envoy Mohammad Javad Larijani denied that Nadarkhani faces the death penalty, though the sentence was spelled out in a ruling handed down by Iran’s highest court last fall. Larijani also offered a new set of charges against Nadarkhani, including preaching to youth without their parents’ permission, converting his home into a church and offending Islam (emphasis mine, SC).

Perry Chiaramonte,

Many things offend Muslims. Drawings of the prophet Mohammed offend them. Burning a copy of the Quran offends them. Rejecting their religion offends them. Immodest dress offends them. The American flag, Jews and Christians, bars and discos named “Mecca”, the Catholic pope, Santa Claus, a coin with “John 3:16” inscribed upon it, and selling Bibles all offend Muslims (among myriad other things).

Actually, while some of these things seem to be absurd, I can understand Muslims taking offense when their religion is shown disrespect. It offends me when the character of Jesus is blasphemously portrayed in cartoons and movies. Profanity offends me, especially when the name of God or Jesus is taken in vain. Immodest dress and vulgar behavior in public offends me. The depiction of Christians as intolerant bigots, just because they call sinners to repentance, is something I find to be repugnant.

The problem is what happens when Muslims are offended. If they control a country, they arrest and sometimes kill those who offend. If the offense is sufficiently great, they will issue a fatwa, instructing faithful Muslims to kill the offender for their “crime” against Islam. (This was done to Salman Rushdie in 1989 because his novel The Satanic Verses was deemed offensive for its unflattering depiction of Mohammed). If Muslims are in the minority they clamor for protection and redress when they are offended, leading many countries to bend over backwards to accommodate their religion. The accommodations of Islam in the United States clearly violate the constitution’s prohibition against elevating one religion above another, and results in societal unrest.

Islam is objectionable for this response to offense. First, the hypocrisy of demanding respect from other faiths, while showing none in return. Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Second, the belief that God today continues to wage war against evil through civil conflict. As Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).

In the end, the Muslim faith will be extinguished. Until that time, Christians should love Muslims, despite their ungodliness and evil. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).