Monthly Archives: June 2020

Chrislam? Is That a Thing?

I’ve had presumably well-meaning folk look me in the eye and warn me about Chrislam. Have you? If you let people know you like Muslims, it might happen. The idea is that some powerful Christians, like the Pope and Rick Warren, are conspiring to start a new religion that combines Christianity and Islam.

The name is catchy but has already been taken by a small Nigerian sect in Lagos who seemed to have actually combined the two.

My friends at Peace Catalyst International admit, “we are often accused of compromising our faith. Some people even claim we are teaching “Chrislam,” a syncretistic blending of Christianity and Islam.”   (The FAQ I’m quoting from is brilliant. I encourage you to read the entire piece.)

Truth and Love
They remind us, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no person comes to the Father but through me’ (John 14:6). Jesus also taught that our eternal destiny depends on how we respond to him (John 3:16). So we believe Jesus’ exclusive truth claims.”

“Jesus also hung out with the ‘wrong’ crowd. He loved the marginalized and was even called the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). Moreover, he commanded us to love our neighbors and our enemies (Matthew 22:9; Matthew 5:44). Thus Jesus also taught and modeled inclusive love aims.”

They conclude, “One reason we are accused of teaching Chrislam is that people see us living out Jesus’ inclusive love aims and assume we have denied his exclusive truth claims. But the fact is that true followers of Jesus must both declare truth and model love. To deny either truth or love is to deny Jesus.”

As you might guess, if I’m out of balance it’s going to be leaning toward the “inclusive love claims.” How about you?

For the record, if the Pope and Rick Warren are trying to start “Chrislam” (which I don’t think they are), they’re doing a lousy job of it! 

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President Trump Gets It Right

Yesterday (June 18, 2020) President Trump signed into law the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020. This law gives the President authority to sanction Chinese leaders found to be involved in the detention, forced labor and various abuse against Uyghurs and other minorities in China. Over one million Uyghurs are currently believed to be held.

Late last year I asked us to pray for this. Let’s thank God for hearing and answering that prayer. In these days when fresh cries for justice are occurring all around, this is a small step in a good direction.

Of course, the challenge is implementation. The President has 180 days from signing to submit a list of those deemed responsible for human rights violations. Their assets can be frozen along with visas and admission to the US being denied.

There will likely be push back from China. Early published responses from China’s Foreign Ministry urge the, “U.S. side to immediately correct its mistakes. . . . Otherwise, China will resolutely take countermeasures, and all the consequences arising therefrom must be fully borne by the United States.”

Two Caveats

One: You may have heard that John Bolton’s just-released book claimsPresident Trump last year agreed with Chinese President Xi on the Uyghur camps. So signing this law is a switch or maybe just politics.

Two: I don’t know about you, but it’s always easier for me to point out error in others. The U.S. has miles to go in our own human rights efforts before we sleep. Again, this may be politics of distraction.

Please thank God with me for this new law and ask that it will serve his purposes and contribute to many Uyghurs finding life for their bodies and souls. And, please God, don’t let it just be politics.

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Racism, Muslims and Me

How are you dealing with George Floyd’s murder? With the tragedy, the fallout and response, but also with the likelihood that U.S. society (and beyond) is plagued in ways that lead to his and others’ untimely deaths?

I hope God is giving you grace for the appropriate deep reflection. I know I’ve been troubled by this, trying to figure out how to think, what to feel, what to read or listen to and what to ignore. I’m wondering how God might be calling me to change.

The fall out of the Floyd murder and subsequent protests and riots hit close to home a few days ago when the son of a friend was shot by police in Minneapolis. He’ll lose an eye, but not his life.

And I’ve wondered about Muslims in light of this. Are there common sentiments among diverse Muslim communities? Are there particular forms of racism that many Muslims exhibit? It was, after all, an Arab American Muslims who initially called the police on George. He’s now pledged not to do so outside of violent situations.

Almost always when I’ve written about Muslims and racism, it’s had to do with bias against Muslims. Without doubt, Muslims have been attacked, abused and marginalized for their color and religion.

But many (Most? All?) also wrestle with racism emanating from their own hearts. MuslimARC is an organization whose purpose includes education regarding, “Micro-aggressions that make mosques and Muslim spaces hostiles for members of non-dominant groups,” as well as, “Discriminatory practices relating to leadership, including against non-Arab or non-South Asian imams, board members, and/or professional staff.”

Muhammad taught against racism. Jesus did before him. For all I know so did Buddha and the early Hindu teachers.

In the vast ocean of what I don’t know and have not experienced, these few drops are pretty certain: I dare not be cavalier in regard to the presence of racial sin in my own heart. And I’d be wise to consider what God wants to do in me and with me to counter this societal sin.

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Crushing on Bangladesh

Please see the special note at the bottom of this email. Thank you.

Have you ever been to Bangladesh? Me neither. (If you have, then yay for you!) The nearest I’ve been is a brief visit to India’s West Bengal state and the amazing stories of friends.

I’ve also been treated warmly by Bengali migrants in Sicily:

A kind kebab shop owner wept as he shared the love and nostalgia he felt for his native language.

A young Bengali guy, the day before he moved to a new town and job, took an hour to sip tea and talk with my friend and me, even enduring our early, fumbling attempt to share deep things of God through the Creation to Christ story.

A Bengali woman, running a small, late-night convenience store with her twelve year old daughter, cheered and encouraged my co-worker and me at the end of a long, disappointing day.

Recently, to our great delight, my wife and I discovered a Netflix show called Nadiya’s Time to Eat and the brilliant British/Bengali woman behind it, Nadiya Hussain. Since appearing on the Great British Bake Off in 2015, this mom of three has gone on to write cookbooks, host TV shows and even bake a birthday cake for the Queen!

From my vantage point, she’s also serving as a wonderful example of a faithful Muslim Bengali woman in the main flow of British media. She’s winsome, successful and killer smart. (The UK is likely ahead of the US in this regard, but I’d love role models like this in my popular culture.)

But Britain is a long way from Bangladesh and most Bengalis are a long way from even knowing someone who’s following Jesus. According to Joshua Project, among dozens of  Bangladeshi people groups there are few or no Christians. Those groups add up to well over a hundred million people.

Beautiful, kind, designed-by-God people. Who will go live among them?
My friend, and fellow fan of all things Bangla, Jeannie Marie wrote a brilliant book called Across the Street and Around the World. On Sunday, May 31st (and for a few days following) you can get the Kindle version for just a $1.99! I’m going to do it. Will you join me?

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