Kruiz edited
Let's Be Clear
Wednesday in Lent 1
8 March 2017
Our lack of clarity about the meaning and intentions of Islam is due to our lack of clarity about the meaning of Christianity. The western world has assumed that Islam and Christianity are just species of the same genus, that is, as though they both can be placed together under the title: "religion." In this thinking both Islam and Christianity are merely "religion." Religion encompasses all vaguely moral behavior and relegates to the outer fringes all talk of supernatural divine revelation as unverifiable. At most, therefore, religion becomes a moral pumpkin seed spitting contest to see which "religion" has the most fanatically devoted followers or has inspired the most deeply sacrificial efforts on the part of its co-religionists. By such standards perhaps we should become followers of Muhammad. Islam is replete with martyrs, sent to slaughter infidels, sacrificed in the name of Allah. Islam even pays some lip service to Jesus as a prophet, even if He is superseded by Muhammad.
 
But biblical Christianity does not claim to be a mere religion led by a prophet. It is not primarily an ethical code, no matter how holy or elevated that code might be. Christianity is about Christ, who is not merely a prophet, but the God-Man. Christianity consists of Christ, the Son of God. Without Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His return to rescue us, there is no Church and no Christianity. And while ethics is important within its own sphere, it does not define Christianity, nor differentiate Christianity from mere religion. Our lack of clarity about Christianity's essence makes us blind to the differences between Christianity and Islam. If we do not know and confess the centrality of the person of the Son of God to our faith, we will never recognize what is inferior about Islam, and indeed every other "religion."
 
Christianity stands or falls on the contention that Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, true God and true Man, is the final and complete revelation of God in the world. Christianity stands or falls on the contention that this one divine and human person is the payment for the sin of the world by His death and life. Christianity stands or falls on the vicarious satisfaction of the eternal Son for us sinners. If that is not so, if these supernatural contentions about the person of Christ are only the superstitious and partly-loopy beliefs of a mere fringe of the Christian faith, then we have no reason not to accept as equally valid the moral teachings of Islam and its prophet Muhammad. But if it is true that Christ, God's Son, is the only way to our heavenly Father, then we have no reason to give any quarter to the religion of Muhammad. Let's be clear about that.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"The outward life of the [Islamic] Turks is said to be marked by an appearance of piety. They pray, fast, give alms, establish charitable institutions, and build churches [mosques]. They are ready to help others. And with this appearance of holiness they deceive many people. Thus the pope also duped us. At the time we did not know better, but we believed that monastic orders and monkeries were the proper and correct way to heaven. Anyone who is not well armed with this article of faith and has not pressed it deep into his heart falls easy prey to the shining external shimmer of holiness as well as to the prominent names of prophets and teachers.
                           
"But because they have devised such a variety of ways to heaven, we will tell them: 'We will stick to the one way to heaven and adhere to Him who descended and simultaneously remained above.' He is our sole resurrection, as is said in John: 'I am the resurrection, and the truth, and the life.' Therefore He is the only way to heaven, since He alone ascended there. Whoever remains loyal to this article of faith also remains loyal to Christ. Even if he were led captive to Turkey and were an eyewitness of the practice of the Turkish religion [of Islam], of their many fasts and prayers, he would still say: 'All this fails to interest me. Even if the pope and the Turk were to raise the dead, even if they flogged themselves with rods till the blood streamed from them, even if they fasted several weeks on bread and water, I know, despite all this, that you are not the resurrection or the life or the way to heaven. You will not deceive and delude me with all these acts. For Christ alone is the way, and no other.'
 
"If a Christian preserves this article of faith in its truth and purity, it will be easy for him to ward off all false teachers and deceivers as well as his own whims and notions. Yes, he who holds fast to this has a mainstay for life; and he will also be saved in death through this one faith in Christ, that is, if he believes that Christ alone ascended into heaven. Therefore, he will not be lost."

Martin Luther, Sermons on John's Gospel, 3.14
John 5:37-47

"The Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
 
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" (ESV)
Prayer
Dear heavenly Father, send Your Holy Spirit through Your beloved Son to us that we might know Him to be the only Way to You. Lead those to Your kingdom who are entrapped in the lies of religion and out of the darkness into the marvelous light of Your salvation, that they might be rescued from all fear. Amen.
 
For Kirstyn Harvey, who is recovering from surgery, that the Lord would grant her healing and strength
 
For John Hatteberg, that the Lord Jesus would strengthen him in body and soul
 
For Vicar Matthew Bless, that he would grow in understanding of the vocation to which the Lord is calling him
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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