The following quotation is from a book by a Muslim author. It made me laugh when I read it, because it further confirmed a truth I have been told, and have witnessed, for years. Let me give you the quote, and I will explain after:
In any case, the unacceptability of Jesus’ divinity and the Trinity to the Qur’an is uncontrovertible, as is the fact that Jesus and his followers are regarded as exceptionally charitable and self-sacrificing. The Qu’ran would most probably have no objections to the Logos having become flesh if the Logos were not simply identified with God and the identification were understood less literally. For the Qur’an, the Word of God is never identified simply with God. Jesus, again, is the “Spirit of God” in a special sense for the Qur’an, although God had breathed His spirit into Adam as well (15:29; 38:72). It was on the basis of some such expectations from the self-proclaimed monotheism of Christians–and, of course, Jews–that the Qur’an issued its invitation: “O People of the Book! Let us come together upon a formula which is common between us–that we shall not serve anyone by God, that we shall associate none with Him” (3:64). This invitation, probably issued at a time when Muhammad thought not all was yet lost among the three self-proclaimed monotheistic communities, must have appeared specious to Christians. It has remained unheeded. But I believe something can still be worked out by way of positive cooperation, provided the Muslims hearken more to the Qur’an than to the historic formulations of Islam and provided that recent pioneering efforts continue to yield a Christian doctrine more compatible with universal monotheism and egalitarianism. (Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur’an, 2d ed. (Minneapolis, Mi: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1994), p. 170.)
Are you laughing yet? Do you see what Dr. Rahman is saying here? Essentially, he is saying, “The Christian view of Jesus is unacceptable to the Qur’an, but we are willing to accept that Christians can be jolly nice people. You know, we (Muslims and Christians) all might be able to get along if we focus on the things that unite us! Then maybe you Christians will heed the call of the Qur’an and join with us. Of course, first you need to ditch all that nonsense about the Trinity and the divinity of Christ… oh, and the Muslims need to be more welcoming to other faiths (though it is debatable whether you can really get that from the Qur’an).” Get it yet? That’s right: in order for Christians to be welcomed by Muslims, Christians need to deny the very thing that most distinguishes them as Christians: our Christology! Once we have done that, we are left with little else than being nice people who believe in God, and I’m sure that will work for Muslims. Many “Christians” in this country are already operating on that basis, and the Muslim world is lapping them up! Shabir Ally finds allies amongst such people in his debates, and Fazlur Rahman can look to them as “pioneers” and use them to try to shame the rest of us for being uncooperative.
But there is a wider application to this in that it is not just the likes of Dr. Rahman who are saying this to Christians. Why is it that Christians who actually hold to Biblical truth are put down, belittled, and treated as morons in our society? For the same reason the Muslims want us to deny our distinctives: the gospel of Jesus Christ is an offense to those that are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18-30). The world does not want to acknowledge sin, repent, believe on Christ, and be conformed to His image; the world loves its darkness too much. And yet this is what the gospel demands. The world would much rather we give up the gospel and become more like the world; this would be a much more satisfactory basis for unity and peace, because we are the only ones having to give up anything.
The word “compromise” is used in negotiating situations for a process by which two opposing sides agree to relax or relinquish completely their more objectionable demands so that they may find a point of agreement. In most situations, this is really what happens. When my kids fight over who is playing on the GameCube, we can normally resolve the situation by asking them to compromise on their demand for total control over the gaming system, and to organize them into shifts of thirty minute intervals such that each one gets an equal opportunity to play. Each child compromises on their demand for total control for the sake of peace and permitting their siblings the enjoyment of Super Mario.
When it comes to negotiating with Christians, however, the word “compromise” takes on a whole new meaning. It may start out with good intentions–the non-Christian girl says to the Christian boy, “I’m sure if we get married we can sort out the religion thing. Perhaps I can go to church sometimes, and you perhaps can stay home with me on a Sunday evening?” More often than not, however, it is the non-Christian who ends up with the better end of the deal (from their perspective), and it is the Christian who ends up compromising the most. In the example just cited, if I were a betting person, I would lay good odds on the Christian boy neglecting his faith altogether within two years of marriage. It happens all too often, which is why the Bible warns against such unions (2 Corinthians 6:14). Not only is this the case in relationships. It is true anytime the world tries to deal with Christians, and Summer White’s experience in the classroom is typical of the worst. Why does her professor rail so irrationally against Christ and His people? Because, as Dr. White rightly indicates, we hold as our treasured possession a gospel that reminds them of the God they are trying so hard to forget (Romans 1:18), reminds them of their sin, and shines the light of truth upon their futile thinking.
Christian: do not shy away from the world! Be bold in your proclamation of truth; and take heart when the world hates you:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)