Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2012

I am pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and that all life is valuable in the sight of God.

I am also pro-pro-choice. I believe people who are pro-choice are created in the image of God and worthy of respect as those whom God loves, even if we don’t agree.

I am also pro-Muslim. I believe that Muslims are created in the image of God and therefore are valuable in his sight, even if we don’t agree on many important things.

I found the following excerpt from Sam Crabtree’s book, Practicing Affirmation, very helpful in thinking about how we talk with those with whom we disagree. I repost it in order to help both Muslims and Christians grow in our ability to affirm others even when we disagree.

Sam Crabtree:

On a very cold Minnesota winter morning I was bundled thick against the icy Canadian wind as I marched with several thousand others to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The march route was adorned by occasional pro-choice protesters with large placards chiding our pro-life efforts as being antiwoman. The setting was cold not only meteorologically speaking, but the air was chilled with icy looks and cold shoulders. In one part of the march a shouting match had erupted and it was ugly. It seemed to me that the pro-life marcher did a particularly poor job of winning friends and influencing people, and a pretty good job of making all of us marching with him appear to be angry, rude ruffians.

Continuing the march and seeing one particularly large and provocative placard, I felt the impulse to ask its guardians about it, but thought it would only erupt into a charged argument, and so I walked on by. Ten minutes or so later, I thought, “No. I’m going to speak with them,” and so I returned to the placard’s double guards, one of whom would not look at me or acknowledge my presence in any way. He looked off in the distance, literally stiff-necked. It had to be pretty hard work for him to ignore me and avoid me. And hard work it is when affirmation runs thin in relationships.

“May I ask about your placard?” I queried with a genuinely respectful tone, for these were human beings made in the image of God. There is more than one good way to jump-start an awkward relationship, and “May I ask you a question?” is one good way. Like a British Royal Guard, the one continued not to make eye contact with me and didn’t even twitch; to him I did not exist except as a threat to his placard and mission. But the second fella said, “Well, what?” (meaning, what’s your question?).

I took it as an invitation to continue. In strained relationships it can be very important to not proceed without an invitation, like playing “Captain, May I?” or “Simon Says.” Show deference to the captain and heedful respect to Simon. “I’m noticing your placard, here. I don’t know who designed it, but its graphics are strikingly attractive and its message is powerful.” There were no words on it, just a huge rendering of a coat hanger encircled with a slash through it. It was a graphic not hastily thrown together by some amateur, but was colorful and simple, and though we were on opposite sides of a controversial issue, I could affirm the graphic skill. So I did.

And then I took another figurative step forward, “I take your poster to mean that you oppose self-inflicted coat hanger abortions, am I right?” In tense situations, it can be good to not jump to conclusions, even when you’re pretty sure you already understand what the other side means. Slowing down to confirm the other party’s meaning is another way of affirming them as human beings who might like the opportunity to correct me if I have misunderstood. I am not beyond the possibility of misunderstanding, a healthy and humble admission to make.

“Right,” he replied, meaning that his poster was explicitly against coat hanger abortions.

Proceeding I said, “Well, I think we have something that you and I can enthusiastically agree on.” He looked at me as though I had forgotten which side of the issue I was marching on. “We both are in favor of the safety of women. We are men, and the safety of women is important to us, even though we aren’t women ourselves. I appreciate your willingness to come out here on a very cold day, seeking to protect women from a procedure that will never threaten you personally. That seems altruistic to me.” I’m not sure that he understood the word altruistic, but I am sure he took it as a compliment, which it was.

“May I ask another question?” While his sidekick still stood stiff as a poker, this man was opening up to me. By asking permission to pose another question instead of just charging forward, the conversation was kept from shutting down, like the shouting match that had erupted elsewhere on the march route.

“Sure,” he replied. The first time I asked permission to ask a question, he gave me a tentative “well, what?” because he was uncertain about what I might do. In response to my second request to interview him further, he replied casually with a “sure.” The cold was thawing. The door was opening.

So I asked my next question: “Could you tell me how many women have been injured by coat hanger abortions? Do you have that information, or could you point me to somebody who does?”

His stammering response was something like, “Hmm . . . nooo . . . no, I don’t.” His pokerfaced partner offered nothing, not even a flinch. “I suppose you could check at the library or somewhere,” was the best he could do. He wanted to help me do my research and get the facts. He was warming up.

On to my next question, “Well, can you tell me now many women have been injured by legal abortions in medical facilities?”

Same answer: “Hmm . . . nooo . . . no, I don’t, uh, have that information. I would think you might be able to get it at a library, or you could try to go online.”

He’s conversant now, and I moved on to my last question: “What do you say to the person who does have that information—the person who knows approximately how many women have been injured by coat hanger abortions in the United States and how many young women have been injured by legal abortions—what do you say to the person who has that information and knows that the number of woman inured by coat hanger abortions is less than one percent of the women who have been injured by legal abortions?” Checkmate. He looked embarrassed, which is appropriate.

He hung his head and looked at the ground. But he wasn’t angry, not with me. That is, he didn’t see me as his opponent; he saw the data as his opponent. He was awakening. Do you see how affirmation—looking for something to commend—opened the door to talk about the issue that divided us? And he was backing away from his hard stance. His partner walked off, having never said a word; we won’t win them all, and the practice of affirmation is no ironclad guarantee. Our conversation ended when the public address system fired up and the rally program began.

I hasten here to say that beautiful graphics should not be used in the service of killing defenseless children. But if I started my conversation there, I suspect our discussion would have quickly gone in the direction of the shouting match. My goal isn’t just to protest, but to persuade.

—Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), pp. 76-79.

HT: Justin Taylor

Read Full Post »

At muslimmatters.org, Camilla Morrison has written an essay that gives the Islamic view of Jesus. In the first few paragraphs (pasted below) she describes how the Qur’an views Jesus, referring to most of the texts about him. This is a helpful starter for understanding how Jesus Christ is seen within Islam today.  It’s a long essay and unless you are also interested in knowing how secular and liberal scholars view Jesus and the formation of the orthodox view of him, you can skip the rest.

The Qur’an contains ninety-three passages in reference to Jesus and, together, they present a clear picture of what Muslims believe. Chronologically, this begins with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Qur’an tells the story of Mary’s birth and describes how God graciously accepted her, making her grow in goodness, and entrusting her to be raised by Zachariah[3][4]. God chose Mary above all other women as the most pure and sent angels to give her news that she was to give birth to a pure son[5] called Jesus, the Messiah[6]. The angels tell her that Jesus “will be held in honor in this world and the next”, he “will be one of those brought near to God”, “he will speak to people in his infancy”, and “he will be one of the righteous” [7]. Mary has an entire sura named after her, one of only eight people to have this honor, and is affirmed to have given a virginal birth and to have afterward remained a virgin[8]. It is believed that Jesus was able to speak as an infant; after Mary gives birth to Jesus and carries him back to her people, she is accosted with accusations and it is then where Jesus speaks his first words and defends her honor[9]. In these first words, Jesus declares himself as a prophet and a servant of God who will be raised up after death and return at the final judgment[10].

Throughout his life, Jesus is believed to have performed several miracles by the permission of God; he transforms a clay bird into a real one, heals the blind and the leper, and brings the dead back to life[11]. He was sent to follow in the footsteps of previous prophets and to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him[12]. The Qur’an also says that God gave Jesus the Gospel with guidance, light, and confirmation as a guide and lesson for the followers of God[13]. Jesus is believed to be a fully human prophet; he is never said to claim divinity but instead attributes all he does to the power of God. When asked by God if he ever said for people to take him as a god, Jesus replies, “I would never say what I had no right to say”[14]. The Qur’an also mentions the disciples of Jesus, although not by name. The disciples are said to follow Jesus and declare themselves as Muslims[15].

Regarding the death of Jesus, the Qur’an denies that Jesus actually died or was ever crucified[16]. Muslims believe that Jesus physically ascended into heaven and that the disbelievers claimed victory only because “it was made to appear like that to them”[17]. The Qur’an states that Jesus will return again at the end of days when everyone will be judged on their adherence to Islam[18].

In addition to the Qur’an, Muslims look to the Hadith as an authority on Jesus. Several Hadith expand upon elements of Jesus described in the Qur’an, particularly about the end of his existence on Earth and what comes after. The Hadith present an “image of Jesus as an end-of-time figure”[19]. In one Hadith, Muhammad says, “the son of Mary will come back down among you very soon as a just judge”[20] and in another he says that he has been shown that Jesus will return to defeat the Antichrist[21]. This supports the general thought that Jesus is currently awaiting the end of time when he will “descend to the earth and fight against the Antichrist, championing the cause of Islam” and “point to the primacy of Muhammad” before dying a natural death[22]. Muslims see Jesus as a precursor to Muhammad and believe that Jesus predicted Muhammad’s coming in the canonical Gospel of John.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 314 other followers