Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tend My Flock

Greetings All,

Christ is Risen!

In this post I am going to offer a few words of introduction before pasting below a brief article by Bill Warner, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam.  Mr. Warner runs an extremely informative and helpful website and blog, and has some unique ways of approaching the subject, which is why I will refer to his work from time to time. Bill Warner can help a reader generally unfamiliar with Islam to get "up to speed" in a short time frame.

In this article, Warner presents a compelling case as to why Christian pastors desperately need to educate themselves on the true nature of Islam, where it deviates from Christianity, how it threatens us, and how that can impact their flock.  He by no means exhausts the subject, but even with this brief treatment he makes his point convincingly.

As Orthodox we might, of course, make a few adjustments to Mr. Warner's presentation. But his central point is, I believe, irrefutable. In fact, it is precisely and only the Orthodox Church which has been confronted with and persecuted by Islam since the seventh century. Orthodoxy alone has over a millennium of experience in refuting Islam, suffering under Islam, and being liberated from the tyranny of Islam. Who better to 'tend the flock' than the Orthodox Church?

Which brings me to another favorite point of mine, closely related to the above. In standing up for Christian orthodoxy against Islam's belligerent, supremacist theological jihad, the Orthodox Church bears a unique burden, and is under, I contend, a divine imperative. Together as The Church, and individually as Her Members, as Members of the Body of Christ, we must Live, Proclaim, and Confess the Truth of our Faith. Light has no fellowship with darkness, nor the Truth with lies, nor Christ with Belial, and the Church, the Bride of Christ, has no fellowship nor commonality with the false and satanic religion of Muhammad, nor with the perverse and evil deity of Islam, Allah.

Instead, we open our hearts to Muslims of good conscience — those who are sincerely seeking the God of Truth — proclaiming to them the Gospel of Life, Hope and Light, the Good News of Jesus Christ, as it has been lived in His Church for two millennia.  We invite them to abandon and reject their false religion, and come to Faith in the Incarnate Logos and Son of God.  This is the brave, evangelical, missionary approach I urge our Orthodox shepherds to take. This is the divine imperative, which we have from the Lord, the Apostles, and the Fathers.

And now, on to Bill Warner's timely piece:

Tend My Flock
If you ask a Christian leader why he does not speak out on Islam, you get some version of: My duty is to tend to my flock, to help them become better Christians. My job is not to oppose Islam. 

What if a Christian leader actually took the advice to tend to his flock? Start with the image of tending the flock. This is a Christian image of Christ tending to the flock, the church, a warm pastoral image of lambs and no violence. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. 
There is a common abbreviation, WWJD, what would Jesus do? This should be a living question in a Christian's mind. An even more important question is: What did Jesus do? It turns out that we have detailed accounting of Jesus debating and criticizing religious leaders. Even a causal observation of the gospel accountings shows two things. Jesus knew more about the subject under debate than anyone in the room. He also stood up in public and private and confronted error, even against leadership. 
What would it mean if a Christian leader tried to follow Christ's example of knowing the subject? It would mean that the leader would know the Koran and the Sunna of Mohammed. He would be able to comment on the great themes of the Koran and know it as a story. He would know the Sira, the life of Mohammed, and have detailed knowledge of the Hadith. He would know the history of the Christian dhimmi. He would know what happened to the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in Revelation. He would know how Egypt, Turkey, North Africa, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon all went from being Christian to Islamic. This is not difficult work for a scholar. It can be done in six months with present books. Just reading Mark Durie and Bat Ye'or's The Third Choice, would give them a running start. He would know more than 90% of all Christian leaders.
Once you get your knowledge, you need one more quality, courage. A leader would stand in public and discuss the truth of the facts of Islam. According to political correctness and multiculturalism, that would not be nice, since someone might disapprove or become upset. Nice people do not confront others. That is not nice. The modern Christian prefers the Gospel of Nice to the Gospel of Christ. As a result of the Gospel of Nice, the Christian leader does not need courage. 
Does tending the flock include being able to give fact-based advice to the Christian woman who comes to him and asks if it all right to marry a Muslim? Tending the flock would mean knowing the doctrine of wife-beating found in the Sharia, Koran and Hadith. The nice thing to do is saying, "Sure marry the Muslim. We worship the same god." That is nice, but it is a lie. That nice lie is the one that many shepherds have given their flock. 
Tending the flock would mean being able to teach a Christian who is flirting with Islam the truth about Islamic doctrine. But if the leader is ignorant, how can they refute Islamic arguments for the Christian to convert?
What if the flock extended beyond the limits of the boundaries of the church building? Tending the flock would include the suffering of Christians in Africa and the Middle East. A good Shepherd would tell of the murder, rape and abuse perpetrated by Islam to Christians on a daily basis. 
Would the idea of a larger flock mean inviting persecuted Christians to speak to the congregation? Should the persecuted be recognized and prayed for at church? The current nice policy is to never mention the martyrs or the oppression of the Christians in Muslim countries. 
The Black Church is hemorrhaging young males to Islam. If tending the flock meant seeing the flock large enough to include the black church, then a true Shepherd would be able to give guidance to the black leaders and educate them about the cruel Islamic doctrine of slavery still in existence. Tending the flock would include the story of Mohammed as a retail and wholesale slave trader, a man who owned white slaves, Arab slaves, black slaves, and sex slaves. The wise Shepherd would tell the story of how Islam enslaved a million white Christians and murdered 120 million Africans in the process of running the Islamic slave trade on the Mediterranean coast, the east and west coast of Africa. Of course, talking about Islam and slavery is not nice. And besides, it would marginalize all that white guilt about slavery in America. The Christian leader can bemoan that history and wallow in guilt, since that is considered nice. But to talk about the 1400 year old Islamic slave trade active in Africa today would require both knowledge and courage, and that is not nice. 
A Christian leader would be able to see that the Great Commission of preaching the gospel would include converting Muslims to Christianity, increasing their flock. Preaching the Gospel to Muslims may be in the Gospel of Christ, but it is excluded from the Gospel of Nice. As a result, Christian leaders avoid the Great Commission when it comes to Islam in the West. 
We will never defeat Political Islam as long as our Christian leaders see their job as being nice. Some of Islam's biggest supporters are our ignorant religious leaders. Although this article has focused on Christian leaders, let be a public record that Christian leaders are ahead of Jewish leadership. If Christian leadership is tragic, then Jewish leadership is pathetic. 
A piece of advice to Christian leaders: be a real shepherd, don't just be nurturing and caring, but be a defender of the flock as well. Stop being nice. Be like the Good Shepherd, be wise, and be courageous. 

Bill Warner, Director, Center for the Study of Political Islam
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