Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not So Fast

To some, it has become in vogue to join muslims in their Ramadan fast. USAToday recently covered this story here, with the likes of Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler chiming in. Brian McLaren--who wrote 5 posts before the fast started and has written a few while in the fast too--has been one of the more vocal participants. Though he has written quite a bit about it, he has made it clear he did not organize such a "movement of evangelicals" and that there are many others who are also taking such action.

Participants are quick to state their views have not changed or compromised, but that they are simply participating in Ramadan to better understand their Muslim neighbors and reach out to them.

As I read the article, the following thoughts crossed my mind:

--Fasting is to be Christocentric (Matthew 9:15). Jesus explained that fasting was unnecessary when the disciples were with Jesus, but that they would fast once they were not with Him.

--The significance of a fast is found in the purpose, not the action. It's not called a fast when you wait after breakfast until lunch. So, unless a person is celebrating the formation of the Quran, he can't celebrate Ramadan any more than I am while I sleep (assuming I don't eat in my sleep). To count this as an observance of Ramadan, the person must sympathize with the Islamic purposes.

As an example, picture your own baptism. What if, after coming out of the water an unsaved friend immediately jumps into the tank (or river, or whatever) and immerses himself. Then later, as you discuss your baptism he acts as if he is one who totally understands what you've been through and shares a common experience with you. Would you be impressed? (And for any paedobaptists out there, imagine every person who has ever taken a shower claiming to have experienced an "uber-baptism.") For any true Muslim, a fast without acknowledging the formation of the Quran as a blessed event, would not be considered a Ramadan fast.

--Therefore, to align yourself with Christ and yet also flirt with another religion is to create a form of adultery that is not compatible with true faith (Romans 7:1-6). Mohler states in the article: "It's by following these practices that a Muslim demonstrates his obedience to the rule of the law through the Quran. For a Christian to do the same automatically implies a submission to the same rule." It is not possible to be a slave to Christ while aligning yourself in submission to another religion...a man cannot have two masters.

--Evangelism, no matter how lovely, gentle and respectful, must be confrontational by nature. Repentance is a confrontation. But such compromise to "learn about your neighbor" cannot bring the necessary confrontation. In speaking about McLaren's Ramadan fast, Akbar Ahmed (chairman of Islamic Studies at American University) stated: "Here is a pastor who wants to understand us, who does not want to convert us, and who is even prepared to talk with us, to fast with us" (emphasis added).

I pray for McLaren's sake (and for Ahmed's) that Ahmed's assessment is not true.

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