January 16, 2013

The Second Coming of Christ and Islamophobia

By Aaron Gaglia

Yesterday, Brian Mclaren posted a link to an article entitled “Jesus Loves His Enemies…and Then Kills Them All” written by Aaron Miller. This article is in a series that seeks to combat Islamophobia by showing the hypocrisy of Christians and Jewish people who decry the violence of the Qur’an. Miller seeks to show that the Bible has “far more violent” content then what is contained in the Qur’an. Miller states in a disclaimer to this series that he wants people to see that one religion is not more violent than another religion but that there are both “peaceful and violent interpretations of religion.” In order to make this point, he spends this article showing how Jesus—the epitome of Christian peace and non-violence—will actually be very violent in his second coming.

He argues that just as critics invalidate the peaceful saying of Muhammad by his subsequent violent sayings, one can as easily invalidate the sayings of Jesus. He points to the Jewish conception of Messiah as the one who would defeat Israel’s enemies and restore Israel as a nation. He then shows how this militaristic understanding of the Messiah is consistent with the Christian understanding of the Second Coming of Christ. He quotes extensively from Revelation showing that Jesus will not “love his enemies” in his second coming but will “destroy them.”

A main point he is making throughout the article is how unfair it is that many people compare the most peaceful verses of the Bible with the most violent verses of the Qur’an when both contain peaceful and violent verses. He ends the article by stating how Muslims should respond to Christians who exalt Jesus above Muhammad because he loved his enemies: “Jesus loved them so much that he kills them.”

Though this article is polemical, it raises points that all Christians need to grapple with. We need to avoid caricatures of Islam based on certain texts outside of their theological and historical context. We do not want people to accuse us of condoning the stoning of adulterers or waging war in the name of God based on a bad reading of Scripture. Similarly, we need to be careful not to do similar things to Muslims. As Christians we need to make sure that we understand what the Quran says and how Muslims interpret it to make sure we do not inaccurately characterize Muslims.

Yet the presence of these “violent” verses in our Scriptures does not mean we should ignore the atrocities being committed in the name of Allah in our present day and age. Terrorist organizations such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah (translated Party of God) all claim to be Islamic organizations. In addition, arguably the greatest threat to international security, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is as its name states, an Islamic nation. Although we cannot dismiss the violent passages in the Bible, we can honestly say that in our present day and age much more terrorism and oppression is being done in the name of Islam than in the name of Christianity. This does not mean that Islam inevitably leads to violence, but merely that certain organizations and people within theme are using Islam currently in the name of violence and terrorism.

Islamophobia is a phenomenon that we cannot overlook. There are many who wrongly characterize Muslims as innately violent people. As Christians, and people of integrity, we must reject all errant characterizations of and prejudices against Muslims. We must be characterized by loving and seeking to understand them. Yet at the same time, loving Muslims does not mean that we deny or downplay the great atrocities being committed in the name of Islam. We must continue to oppose Islamist groups while seeking to understand the full continuum of Islam and not just an extremist pocket of it.

Yet in addition to raising questions about Islamophobia, this article is also a call for Christians to deepen their understanding of the passages in Scripture describing violence and judgment. Brian Mclaren deals with Jesus’ second coming by advocating “alternate understandings” of eschatology. Yet must we subscribe to such a reading of eschatology? Is the idea of Jesus punishing his enemies something we need to shy away from? Does this show an inconsistency in Jesus’ character or make him unloving? I would love to hear your thoughts and I will write my thoughts in the near future.

For your reading pleasure, below are links to the articles I mentioned:

Brian Mclaren’s blog post

Jesus Loves His Enemies….And Then Kills Them All

Disclaimer to The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence? (Above post is a part of this series)

10 Responses to The Second Coming of Christ and Islamophobia

  1. J P Logan says:

    McLaren is rather notorious for attacking evangelicals – not real ones, but the very spiteful, fearful, and dumb ones that exist in his fantasy world. News flash to him and his cronies: Revelation is a SYMBOLIC book, and Christians have understood that since, oh, the days of John the apostle. Revelation’s visions of swords, horses, plagues, etc are clearly symbolic – as is Paul’s description of the “whole armor of God” that the Christian must wear to engage in “spiritual warfare.” Revelation at one point depicts Christ with a sword coming from his mouth – the sword (a symbol of power) proceeding from his mouth (meaning the power of the word, not a literal sword). There is no contradiction – none – between being a peaceful follower of Christ and taking comfort in Revelation’s visions of God triumphing over evil. Note that Revelation makes a lot of references to martyrs. God’s people suffer, but God will grant them eternal life and, at last, triumphing over their enemies. That is what Revelation is.

    When people go to an airport and dance the Barefoot Shuffle, there’s a reason, and we all know what the reason is. Resenting this situation isn’t exactly “Islamophobia,” nor is it Islamophobic to be aware of Islam’s extremely violent history, beginning with Mohammed himself, not exactly a Prince of Peace.

    • irdinterns says:

      Thanks for the reply J P.
      It is very true that there are Orthodox Christians throughout the age that have understood Revelation as being symbolic rather than literal. Most eschatological views interpret Revelation in a more symbolic way except for the Dispensational Premillenial view.
      Yet it is important to note that these Christians do not interpret Revelation in this way in order to find a more palatable idea of God’s judgment. Eve though Revelation is interpreted symbolically, these views still hold to God judging the wicked and eternal hell and separation from God for those who reject Jesus and His Gospel.

      I am currently reading Mclaren’s book, “Why did Jesus, Moses…Cross the Road”, which I will be reviewing in the near future. I will talk more about Mclaren’s eschatological views there, but from what I know of Mclaren, his view of eschatology gets rid of the orthodox idea of hell and judgment. And that is what I have a problem with.

  2. Gabe says:

    It does not surprise me that a moral relativist like McLaren would be highlighting an article that draws equivalence between the Bible and the Qu’ran. I’ll try to add a few points. (Full disclosure: I majored in Arabic in at a large university, completed numerous classes on Islamic theology and Arab history and served as a missionary in the Middle East.)

    While there is violence in both the Bible and the Qu’ran, the author fails to mention the difference between the proscriptive and the descriptive in both texts. Within the Bible, many (though not all) of the violent texts (especially in Judges) describe horrendous acts. There is no indication that God approved of it nor that He ordered it. In fact, knowing what we know about God and what He says about the human heart, we can infer that the phrase “In Israel at those times, there was no king, everyone did as he saw fit.” refers to God’s displeasure at what was happening.

    Second, when there is God-mandated violence (generally cited in the book of Joshua), God provides a time for war, and an end to it (it’s not an open-ended permission to conquer), he provides a warning (“you are not getting this land because of your righteousness, but because of the unrighteousness of those who currently inhabit the land.)

    On the other hand, the Qu’ran does not provide the time constraints on its calls to violence. The Qu’ran is not organized chronologically (as the Bible generally is), it is organized by length of sura. In fact, the “peaceful” suras were written before the Jews of Mecca and Medina rejected Muhammad’s leadership, while the “violent” suras that call for violence against Christians and Jews until the final day were written following Muhammad’s rejection by the Jewish tribes in the Hejaz. This leaves Muslims with no clear way on how to determine which type of sura should be followed (as opposed to the Christian recognition of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant and how things change following Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection).

    My hope is that Christians will keep Muslim friends in their prayers. Their religion does not offer the grace, forgiveness and peace with God that Christ offers us through his death and resurrection. God is doing amazing things there and bringing them back to Him by the boatload.

    • irdinterns says:

      Thanks for the insights Gabe.
      As one who is familiar with the teaching of the Qur’an, could you point us in the direction of relevant suras to help us understand the the Qur’an’s teaching on violence.


  3. J S Lang says:

    Has McLaren ever actually read the Gospels? The message of divine judgment is there, raw and undiluted. Yes, Jesus taught the love of God – also the wrath of God. The visisions John recorded in Revelation present the same Jesus – the Lamb of God, also the conquering Lion of Judah. Christianity without the theme of divine judgment is not Christianity. Judgment is the “inconvenient truth” for McLaren and his set.

  4. pkeyrich says:

    Let’s not forget that Jesus also returns in Islam’s teachings, and he kills all Christians.

  5. Stradart says:

    What a gross lack of Gospel knowledge. And to compare Quran with the Bible? Clintonian Joker! In revelation and in Matthew it is so clear. satan in human form/anti-Christ will be unleashed and will massacre Christians who will not take the mark and bow to him. He will have controlled and assembled all nations and kings with a mighty never seen army to enter Israel to stop the second coming of Christ. satan tried to destroy Jesus at his birth, then at crucifixion. This is his last try. The judgment is the divine judgment against satan and his hundreds of millions of minions and warriors. It is a rightful judgment for The Abomination of Desolation

    …21For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. 22If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. Matthew 24:22

  6. Stradart says:

    Islam the religion of “piece” … they enter a territory, cut the country into little pieces, then agglomerates them and force Sharia law. I suppose somewhere hidden in his lalaland of Christian hatred, McLaren would joyfully see himself functioning well in Sharia law…

  7. Rev. John Wurst says:

    Is the picture at the top of this post copyrighted?

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