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Letters: February 2011

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Stopping Violence

Kudos to Rev. David Kromminga for his article “Being Baptized in a Violent World” (October 2007). It reminded me that peace building and nonviolence starts in the home.  My 6-year-old granddaughter attends a charter school in St. Paul, Minn., where one of the requirements is that participating families (parents and kids) sign a contract promising they will practice a nonviolent lifestyle and become peace builders. Specifically, this includes, “I will praise people, give up put-downs, seek wise people, notice and speak up about the hurts I have caused, right wrongs and help others, and build peace at home, at school, and in my community each day.” This also includes not playing with toy guns (handmade or store bought), not playing violent video games, and not watching violence on TV.

—Robert BultenGrand Rapids, Mich.

Understanding Islam

Rev. David Feddes and The Banner are to be commended for the excellent introductory article “Understanding Islam” (September 2007). I have been working with Christian-Muslim relations on the campuses of two universities for more than 10 years, and such articles from Christians have been few and far between.

I gave my Muslim neighbors this issue of The Banner so they could read the article and see the gentle, smiling face of someone from a Muslim background on the front cover. I asked my Muslim friends to report back to me whether they found the article a positive and fair representation of their faith. (They did.) I’ve also suggested to my classis and others that this article makes a wonderful way to open discussions with Muslim friends and colleagues.

—Graham E. MorbeyChaplain, University of Waterlooand Wilfrid Laurier Waterloo, Ontario

Kudos to Feddes for his timely article on Islam. It was an honest, straightforward, and clear portrayal of Islam today.  Many Muslims are closer in their understanding of who God is than are many of the so-called Christian churches in the United States. It has been predicted that Europe will be 90 percent Muslim by the year 2050. Can the U.S. be far behind? Understanding Islam is crucial for our co-existence. Muslims are not all extremists.

—Charles SchoenherrWheaton, Ill.

Thank you for the informative article on Islam. I found one omission that I think is very important to the Christian understanding of that religion: our triune God is not the same as Allah, although Islam would have us believe they are one and the same. I have been reading a fair bit about Islam, especially books by Mark Gabriel, who was born into a Muslim family in Egypt (he has changed his name). He memorized the entire Quran by age 12 and earned a doctorate in Islamic history and culture from Al-Azhar University in Egypt but has since converted to Christianity. In the book Islam and the Jews: The Unfinished Battle, Gabriel writes, “The god Muhammad proclaimed does not exist. Muhammad’s revelations came from demons. The name Allah was used in pre-Islam Arabia to refer to one of 360 idols in Kaaba. Allah was supposed to be the greatest god. Some tribes used the name to refer to the moon god.”

—Anne Vander HoekSpruce Grove, Alberta

What more could a man say whose mission is to share the gospel with Muslim peoples? Yet North American Christians need more instructive information on other important concerns so that we can engage Islam with our eyes wide open. For example, the Quran calls Christians and Jews the “worst of creatures” (XCVIII, 6) and “apes and swine” (V, 63). Christians are to be hated for their rejection of Muhammad’s claim to be the “Counselor” in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in John 14 and 15 (III, 71; LXI, 6). Allah curses Christians for their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died on the cross (IV, 37; XXIII, 91). Allah curses Christians for their belief in God as Trinity (V, 76). And Allah declares war against non-Muslim peoples, including Christians and Jews, who refuse to acknowledge Islam as the religion of truth (IX, 29).

Islam’s hatred for Christianity is not rooted in the Iraq War or the Crusades. It began and continues with the Christian rejection of Muhammad.

—Rev. Marvin W. HeyboerPalm Springs, Calif.

To be sure, Feddes writes that all the fundamentals of Islam radically contradict everything the Bible teaches about the triune God, creation, sin, and redemption. But then he confuses the reader by stressing the similarities of Christianity and Islam. For example, he notes that both hold to a wholistic worldview and agree on many moral principles. But how can they be similar if Muslims are taught that Christians are really blasphemers and destined for hell, and that Israel is evil and must be destroyed?

—Harry AntonidesWillowdale, Ontario

Becoming a Better Sinner?

It is with great sadness that I read the article “Becoming a Better Sinner” (September 2007). How is it possible that we who confess during communion that Jesus died and rose again for “a complete remission of all our sins” can say we can become better sinners?!

—Herman ZwiersWinnipeg, Manitoba

The Word of God is clear in its instruction for our lives and our approach to sin. A believer’s life is not characterized by sin but by doing what is right. We read in Romans 6:11-14, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. . . . For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”

—John E. King Jr.Harriman, N.Y.

The apostle Paul carefully describes our identity in Christ as righteous—freed from slavery to sin (Rom. 6:7), dead to sin and alive to God (6:11), and children of God (8:16). The labels “better sinner” or “recovering sinner” fall short of the Christian’s true, joyful self-image.

—Duane EinfeldLincoln, Neb.

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