Yesterday, it was brought to my attention by one of our contributors that the Muslim month of Ramadan is underway again. There are Christians who have developed prayer guides and such to lead fellow believers in praying for Muslims during this time, that they would see the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and more importantly get to know His Son, Jesus Christ. I can commend that effort without reservation.
But this reminder got me to thinking about something related to this topic. Several years ago now, I ran across a news article highlighting the fact that many guys from the “emergent church” movement were choosing to celebrate Ramadan in a show of solidarity or something with Muslims around the world. The story quoted Brian McLaren as saying on his blog, “We, as Christians, humbly seek to join Muslims in this observance of Ramadan as a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship, and neighborliness.” I don’t know what these guys think we need to learn from Islam and I take issue with the idea.
Even more bothersome in my opinion is that these guys like McLaren who are promoting observance of Ramadan more or less ignore the feasts that God both created and commanded His people to observe, feasts that teach about His character and nature and plan for us as His people. I did a search of his blog for the terms Trumpets, Tabernacles and Passover and found exactly one hit for the last one. Meanwhile, he is blogging incessantly about what a “great experience” this observance of Ramadan is. Further evidence of this attitude comes from a quote from his blog:
Our main purpose for participating will be our own spiritual growth, health, learning, and maturity, but we also hope that our experience will inspire others to pray and work for peace and the common good, together with people of other faith traditions … as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them. Just as Jesus, a devout Jew, overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith two thousand years ago (Matthew 15:21 ff, Mark 7:24 ff), we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.
What in the world does he mean in this quote? Is he really suggesting that Jesus had to overcome personal prejudice of some kind? Maybe I am reading it wrong, but this sounds over the top to me. Here’s an idea. I would suggest that we as Christians might want to look to the religious festivals that Jesus actually participated in Himself (i.e. the feasts that are laid out in Leviticus 23) for “spiritual growth, health, learning, and maturity” before we look to the observances outlined by a faith that is diametrically opposed to Christianity and is currently persecuting Christians in many corners of the world.
As we approach the time of the year for the fall feasts of the Lord, maybe we should be praying for the Jewish people who still faithfully observe them to see the Messiah through them. These feasts contain a wealth of knowledge and according to the prophets will still have a role to play in the future yet to come. Maybe it would behoove us as believers to get to know a little more about these celebrations (did you know that Hanukkah is actually mentioned in the Bible as well?) and to pray for God to reveal the Messiah to His own people during these times as well. I happen to think it would be a more productive use of our time than trying to understand a month-long celebration from a faith that is diametrically opposed to Christianity.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not the same as the god that is described in the Koran and worshiped by Muslims all over the world. I know that isn’t the politically correct thing to say, but it is the truth. There is no way to reconcile the two together. Simply look at these two statements side by side:
No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22, 23)
They said, “The Most Gracious has begotten a son”! You have uttered a gross blasphemy. (Qur’an 19:88)
You tell me how you would resolve the two into one, because it just isn’t possible. Islam denies that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. According to Scripture, that sentiment embodies the spirit of the antichrist.