Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On the blending of Christianity with Islam

Thanks to an e-mail sent through the CAT41 group (Confess and Teach for Unity), I found this article about how some Africans are "meshing" Christianity with the false religion of Islam to form what they call "Chrislam." Here is a portion of what they do to combine these two religions into one:

"Yet worshipers at 'The True Message of God Mission' say it's entirely natural for Christianity and Islam to cexist, even overlap. They begin their worship by praying at the Jesus alcove and then 'running their deliverance' - sprinting laps around the mosque's mosaic-tiled courtyard, praying to the one God for forgiveness and help. They say it's akin to Israelites circling the walls of Jericho - and Muslims swirling around the Ka'ba shrine in Mecca. . ."

"'You in the West are satisfied with one hour of church on Sunday,' says Mr. Balogun. But for people in Africa, who he says need so many solutions, 'This is about a practical way of life,' about a willingness to combine Christianity or Islam with their own traditions to 'see if they can make something new' - something that will help. . ."

"The broader context here is Africa's dramatic shift in recent decades to Christianity and Islam. During the 20th century, fully 40 percent of Africa's population moved from traditional religions to 'different shades of Christianity,' says Philip Jenkins, a history and religion professor at the University of Pennsylvania. It is, he adds, 'the largest religious change that has ever occurred in history.' There are debates about whether Christianity or Islam is spreading faster in Africa, but clearly they're both on the rise - and sometimes are the source of tension.

"In Nigeria's religious city of Jos (short for 'Jesus Our Savior') the government says 50,000 people died between 1999 and 2004 in sectarian clashes. Until a peace deal last year, Sudan's northern Muslims and southern Christians were at war for two decades.

"Clearly, the religious revolution is still shaking out. 'People are converting rapidly, but they don't necessarily have instruction' in the details of their faiths, says Boston University's Professor Robert. Nor have they had 'time for their belief system to solidify.' It is, she says, 'still shifting.' She argues that eventually the faithful will choose one religion or another, and the hybrids will fade away."

These people actually think that they are all worshipping the same God, but they don't even have and have never had proper instruction about their respective religions, Christianity or Islam. Yeah, it's great that these religious groups are finally able to get along without warring and feuding, losing countless thousands of lives, but how long can that really last?

This may seem great on the outside, but let's take a look at the inside: Members of two different religious groups who worship two different dieties and subscribe to two different religious texts, and who differ on whether Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the saviour of all humanity, are saying that there aren't enough differences to keep them apart, and that there, in fact, are enough similarities that they can be complementary to each other. Does this make sense?

Matthew 6:24 (New International Version)

24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Now, I know that although that verse refers to money, but can't it also not apply to the serving of two gods?

The author of the article is already predicting that eventually, the faithful to each respective religion are going to separate out again, and when they do, it's going to be at least as bad as was before the two religions "merged."

Obviously, if you do much study into the religion of Islam, you will see that the faithful are commanded to war against all those who do not accept Islam. They are to either force people to submission or kill them, hence the word "jihad" or "holy war." If you want more information, go to this site. Although it may scare you, it gives a lot of detail about what their religion teaches all those who follow it faithfully.

My family has known very well for about 10 years a family who subscribes to Islam, but I doubt very highly that this mosque in town teaches the "true faith" of Islam. Because of the kind of friendship that my family has with the Muslim family we know, and from what I have learned about Islam, I know that this family is very liberal, and I believe their mosque is, too. For some reason, they are encouraged to have Christian friends, and treat them with kindness, love and respect. But this is very rare and a diversion from what their religion is supposed to teach.

Even the "liberal" Muslims could not worship with Christians, though. I know this because of my family's interactions with them. They were somewhat uncomfortable at our church when they were there for mine and my husband's wedding 3 1/2 years ago, but they were happy to be there for us. But, see, these are the exceptions, and I'm sure those who fully subscribe to the "true" religion of Islam would find these liberals just as much an abomination as they do Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists . . . you get the idea.

What do you think? Do you agree that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God? If you do, do you then also agree that because of this, the two religions can never truly merge? How do you explain the merging of these two faiths, and where do you see "Chrislam" going, if it survives at all?

6 comments:

Alexandra said...
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Mrs. T. Swede said...
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CPA said...

Of course the two religions can't merge. And of course since we worship Jesus as the Son of God, we have a different God, even if some concepts, such as creator, law-giver, etc., are shared.

Mrs. T. Swede said...

CPA,

I agree that it is impossible for the two to completely merge with all of the clashing of doctrine, but somehow this culture has made it happen. I guess what makes it difficult for us is that we really do have a deep understanding of what it is to be Christian, and many of these people do not.

I would argue, however, that our concepts of God as creator, law-giver and so on are not shared, because our Holy Writings are different and give different accounts of the creation and of the laws we are to follow. That's why Islam teaches about Jihad as a holy command from God. Oops, excuse me, Allah. (not the same) Therefore, our understandings of these concepts as they relate to God are completely different.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am a Muslim who found your blog by accident. I don't think it is possible to "combine" the two religions, but I do believe we worship the same God. Allah is basically the Arabic word for God, and it is the word Arab Christians use for God in the Bible. What we mostly disagree on is Jesus (peace be upon him) being the son of God.

What I would like to emphasize to you is the fact that Muslims are not commanded in the Qur'an to kill people who do not accept Islam. This is false.

The family you have known for ten years is doing what good Muslims do, which is to befriend people and treat them with respect. That is not a diversion at all, and I am sad to know that being friends with these people for so long did not change your wider opinion of Muslims.

This is a really deep topic that needs much time to discuss, but I thought the least I could do is correct a few misconceptions. One site you might benefit from is www.islamtoday.com, which contains a lot of interesting articles about Islamic beliefs.

Peace,
A sister in humanity

Mrs. T. Swede said...

Dear Anonymous sister in humanity:

I appreciate your willingness to leave a comment and to try to clear up some misconceptions.

The one thing that it seems Christian and Muslim alike is in disagreement about is whether we worship the same god.

As a Christian, if you take Jesus out of the equation of being One with God, and therefore being the subject of worship (because we worship one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit), you do not have the same god, but instead worship something other than Who we believe to be the One True God.

I know it's a difficult concept for most non-Christians to grasp. Think of it this way: If you take an apple, you have the skin, the meat of the fruit, and the core; three parts, yet all one apple. If you take one of those parts away, you don't have a complete apple, but a part of an apple. In the same way, if you try to separate Jesus from the triune God that Christians believe in, you don't have the same god.

I will probably check out that site you mentioned, just to gain insight, but I encourage you to talk to your religious leaders as well, because I know that those Muslims that are friends of our family understand that we don't worship the same god. I'm sure this is not an isolated belief.

I still have a lot of respect for Muslims as people, and will gladly converse and do business with them, but we will never be able to worship together as long as we each remain a part of our respective religions.

Think of this, as well: If we did worship the same god, why would we each feel the need to convert the other? And why would we need to worship in different settings with different religious leaders? If we worshiped the same god, we wouldn't.

Peace be with you.