The Current Scene
A great furor has arisen over a book we have not read, but we are sufficiently aware of its contents to understand that the book’s blasphemy casts an indirect slur on the prophet Mohammet. We refer to THE SATANIC VERSES written by a Moslem born in India but now a British citizen, Salmon Rushdie. The Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran has sent out a religious edict, a fativa, ordering Muslims anywhere to assassinate Rushdie. The author is understandably in hiding and protected by British law. Some angry protest marchers have been killed by riot police in India. The notoriety that the book (it is only fiction) has occasioned makes it a best seller where it can be purchased, as both publishers and book sellers are under the Ayatollah’s ban.
The Moslem cherishes his religion; to him every other is anathema. His charge is to convert the world with the means justifying the end. Its key is note is Islam—“surrender.” Mohammedanism has been a sleeping giant for a thousand years. The establishment of the nation of Israel on their doorstep and their lost battles with little Israel have awakened them. This has helped inflame Arab nationalism and their religion is seen as a unifier over their differences. At the same time they see all that is bad in Christendom, particularly America’s crime record, abortion and materialism. We see the fanatics and terrorists that hail from their quarters. They are becoming even more impervious to Christian missions. To our chagrin Mohammadanism is gaining ground not only on its own territory, but in the Christianized democracies. Their outward devotion shames the European spiritual wastelands. The Muslims creed is a sovereign Allah (God) whose absolute will amounts to a doctrine of fatalism. It imposes outward modesty upon women and basic ethics. In its contest with Christian missions in Africa it is often more accommodating to the native situation. The allowance of bigamy is a factor. Let’s face it, the great Asian faiths are reviving and gaining ground. They are not moribund, but confident, aggressive and decidedly hostile to the Christianity that is generally represented by the Western democracies. The day of supposed white supremacy is over and the Oriental nations intend to let us know it.
Notwithstanding, our Lord’s great commission is still His command to the church. The absolutism of the Biblical message is an offense to those who are not in the good of it. Our Lord’s sent ones must abound in tactfulness, complete dedication, and, as Dan Crawford put it, “Thinking Black.” In other words, fully master and be sympathetic with the non-Christian viewpoint. Who is sufficient for such a calling? None of us; “but our sufficiency is of God” (2 Cor. 3:5).
The Muslim’s extremism is another quirk typical of any religion that becomes overly sensitive to anything that would challenge its claims to absolutism. Medieval Christianity was no exception with its Inquisition. It is an indication of insecurity that seeks to liquidate opposition and shuns open debate. As to the basics of Christianity, the death burial and bodily resurrection of Christ remain attested by “many infallible proofs.” Israel in their judicial blindness, after they had rejected “the light of the world,” would think they were doing God’s service by killing the disciples of the Lord. Paul, before his conversion, was driven to this mistaken zeal. How sincere men can become, and yet be dead wrong.
A group of seminary professors and theologians have been meeting to discuss their brand of Biblical investigation. All that we meet appear to come with a liberal bias. The premise from which they start is that the Bible is largely, if not completely, a book of human origin composed of myths; the work of editors accepting or rejecting the contents of existing manuscripts, and relating what might be considered authoritative. Also. Jesus Christ would be related as a good Man with religious precepts way ahead of his time. The conclusions of these Biblical scholars meeting last year in San Francisco was that the Lord’s Prayer as we now have it was only partly attributed to the Lord Jesus. This year’s academicians concluded that the Lord never said He would have a second coming. What a pity that these professing Christian divines use their acumen to negate things most surely believed by all Evangelicals.
This business that both the Bible and Jesus did not transcend the limits of the purely human was on another occasion severely criticized by a Chicago daily. A secular source of all places! Now the quote: “We are struck with the hypocrisy and treachery of these attacks on Christianity. This is a free country and a free age, and men say what they choose about religion, but this is not what we arraign these divinity professors for. Is there no place in which to assail Christianity but at a divinity school? Is there no one to write infidel books, except the professors of Christian theology? Is a Theological Seminary an appropriate place for a general massacre of Christian doctrines? We are not championing Christianity or infidelity, but only condemning infidels.”
Secrets Will Out
Among the men chosen by the President for his cabinet was John Tower to be his Secretary of Defense. Immediately he was put into a goldfish bowl. He was accused of having a problem with alcohol and also with womanizing. Along with this he had been watched by the FBI, and that information given only to his judges has resulted in a majority from the House and Senate to declare him unsuited, character wise for such a responsibility as being Secretary of Defense. None questioned his qualifications. This has been a blow to the President—questioning his judgment to pick the right man. There is some chagrin to this as Bush had announced that his administration was to be based on strong ethical standards, a lesson learned from Reagan’s problems. The precious time and talent consumed on the Tower debate was scandalous when one considers the pressing problems that beset the nation.
It is an ill wind that does not blow some good. The affair reminds us of the Lord’s words to those who were accusing a woman taken in adultery. Let him that is without sin cast the first stone at her. None qualified, and convicted by their conscience left the scene. Character assassination is never lacking when their target is the high and mighty among clerics or politicians. Sometimes an example can have a wholesale effect. At least it was part of the discipline of the early church, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
All the charges and countercharges against Tower have been well publicized in the press and TV. The debates have brought to light that considerable drinking has not been uncommon among some of the distinguished gentlemen of the Capitol. Maybe some lessons will be learned by others from this chain reaction.
Another Scripture comes to mind, again our Lord’s words, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither that shall not be known” (Luke 12:2). Some would not care to have their lives and thoughts brought to light. Yet, our Lord reminds us that nothing is going to be overlooked at “the Great White Throne Judgment.” Then every mouth will be stopped and all found guilty before a holy God whose names were not found in the book of life. Well might the prophet Jeremiah’s question be considered, “What wilt thou say when He shall punish thee?” Those who are bold enough to think along this line either develop a profound interest in or appreciation of the gospel. That is what the death of Christ is all about. As an infinite sacrifice He accounted for the sins of the whole world. Just discover your need for such a Substitute, and believe He died in your stead, and God pronounces you justified. Yes, “ There is therefore now no condemnation to those which are in Christ Jesus.”