Christians studying the ways of Muslims in Nigeria

At the end of this item on the Church of Nigeria’s opposition to same-sex marriage come these refreshing words from Bishop Josiah Fearon, who used to be an archbishop before Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, busted him over his desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion:

“For us in Kaduna State, we realised that to live peacefully, we need to understand the religion of each other and so, we are convinced that the best way to promote peace and encourage it, is to know the well-being of your neighbour and the well-being of your neighbour is dictated by what he or she believes in.

The well-being of the Muslim is dictated by Islam and so, we are concentrating on the Christians learning about Islam”.

Hats off to Bishop Fearon, and while we are on the subject, the Kaduna state includes the town of Yelwa, site of intense religious violence in 2004–violence that culminated in the iincreasingly well-known massacre. It’s worth noting that despite highly suggestive evidence, neither Rowan Williams, nor any of the GAFCON primates has evinced any interest in finding out what Akinola knew about the massacre, or what his involvement might have been.

As our moral values are regularly called into question by these folks–It seems we are captives of our decadent culture and can no longer distinguish the evil inherent in the Bishop of New Hampshire’s sleeping with a man.–we’d be interested in knowing how many dead bodies it takes to merit their attention.

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  1. RalphW

    I’m sure the Muslims appreciate Bishop Fearon’s approach, but I’m equally sure the Muslims aren’t going to return the favor by agreeing that the well-being of Christians is what Christianity dictates. As would anyone who takes his faith seriously, a committed Muslim will insist that the well-being of Christians requires their conversion to Islam. The only way we can say that the well-being of Muslims is dictated by Islam is if we take one of two positions:

  2. Where Islam disagrees with Christianity, Islam is correct and Christianity is wrong, or …
  3. Where the two religions disagree it is always and exclusively a matter of taste rather than a matter of fact.

    Thus, when Islam says that Jesus is not the Son of God, if we adopt Bishop Fearon’s approach, it is good for the Muslim to believe this because either it is true (and Christianity is wrong in believing that Jesus is the Son of God) or believing in the divinity of Jesus is purely a matter of taste, on the order of affirming that oatmeal tastes good. Neither approach is consistent with the Gospel.

  4. tgflux

    Humans being human, we can turn ANYTHING into an idol.

    For this reason, Christians can turn the claim “Jesus Christ is (the Son of) God” into an idol, just as easily as Muslims can turn “Jesus Christ is NOT (the Son of) God” into an idol.

    That Jesus IS the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, is the Highest Truth that I can conceive of, and by which I form my life…

    …but I don’t confuse my own puny perceptions with Truth Itself. God is simply BIGGER than that, and on the basis of our own humility, we can engage meaningfully in dialogue with others (e.g., Muslims).

    JC Fisher

  5. RalphW

    J.C. – you said:

    “That Jesus IS the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, is the Highest Truth that I can conceive of, and by which I form my life…”

    So it is a truth, which means (by definition) it is not a falsehood. Therefore the statement “Jesus is NOT the Son of God” is a falsehood, and those who believe it to be true are mistaken. This doesn’t mean that we should disrespect people who believe it to be true, but, as the opportunity presents itself, we should help them correct their mistaken beliefs. This is an act of love, since it does no one any good to believe that a falsehood is true. I would hope that if I believed a falsehood to be true that my friends would (gently) seek to show me where I was wrong and help me correct it. I believe that this is the most meaningful dialog we can have about our faith with those who do not share it, for it touches at the core of what we believe, in the place where truth does the most good and error the greatest harm.

    Ralph Wagenet

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