Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
John Piper Responds to "A Common Word"
01/24/2008 - James WhiteI was sent a link to John Piper's video response to the controversy over "A Common Word." I am providing it here. I would go beyond Dr. Piper and say that I am not simply profoundly disappointed in the "Christian" response: I found the reply, titled "Loving God and Neighbor Together," a sad example of Christian dhimmitude. Dhimmitude is the status of monotheists (Jews and Christians, in the main) under Islamic rule. Islam severely restricts the freedoms of dhimmi peoples under their rule, prohibiting proselytization, for example, or even singing hymns too loudly. It is an attitude that is inherent in Islamic theology, and it flows from the notion that Muhammad is the final prophet, the seal of the prophets, and that sharia must be established all across the world, creating a universal Dar al Islam. I see "Loving God and Neighbor Together" speaking in dhimmi fashion for a simple reason: Islam comes after the Christian faith; Islam claims to be consistent with the teachings of the prophets, and it even claims to lead people to love Jesus Christ. Yet, it is Islam that denies that Jesus is the Son of God; Islam denies the cross of Calvary, and the resurrection; hence it denies propitiation, the gospel, and the entire heart of the Christian faith. In fact, Islam cannot define itself without doing so through the negation of Christian beliefs. I offer two citations from the Qur'an in support of my assertion:
حسورة الإخلاص - سورة ١١٢
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ ١
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ ٢
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ ٣
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ ٤
1. Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
2. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
3. He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
4. And there is none like unto Him.
Surah Al-Ikhlas (112)
سورة المائدة - سورة ٥
َّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَآلُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ قُلْ فَمَن يَمْلِكُ مِنَ اللّهِ شَيْئًا إِنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُهْلِكَ الْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَأُمَّهُ وَمَن فِي الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا وَلِلّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاء وَاللّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ١٧
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every-one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things."
Surah Al-Maida (5), Ayah 17
Surah 112:3 is clearly a denial of the Christian doctrine of Christ as the Son of God (though, I would argue, the Qur'an does not understand the Christian doctrine it denies, to be sure); and Surah 5:17 identifies as blasphemy (كَفَرَ, kafara) a belief in the deity of Christ (though, again, the Qur'an is in error in its understanding of the doctrines it denies). We must remember that Muslims believe Jesus was a Muslim: that he prayed like a Muslim, dressed like a Muslim, and most importantly, taught little more than this: "Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord" (Surah 5:117). Tremendous biblical truths, such as the words of our Lord in Matthew 11:27, "All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him," are directly denied (though, again, probably without direct knowledge on the part of Muhammad, who simply did not have direct access to the Christian Scriptures) by the words of the Qur'an, attributed to Jesus, "Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine" (5:116).
So why do I identify an attitude of dhimmitude on the part of the respondents? They did not provide a uniquely Christian response. Surely, they must know the issues that separate us (though, I confess, looking at some of the names attached, that may not be the case); so why pretend we can talk about the love of God when Christians believe the love of God is revealed first and foremost in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, and shown in the cross of Christ, which is denied directly by Islam (Surah 4:157)? The battle is already over when, as a Christian, you start anywhere other than the central epistemological claim of our faith:
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,Contrast this with the plain words of the Qur'an, "O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah...." So by seeking some kind of common ground outside of the definitional parameters of the Christian faith "Loving God and Neighbor Together" has abandoned the only message we have to proclaim to the Muslim people! This is why it has been opposed by all those I know who know Islam and see the bold proclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified as the greatest means of loving the Muslim people.
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 ¶ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.