Today as I was writing a link came across my Twitter feed and, though I would not usually click on a link like this one, I did. For some reason I clicked it and read the article. The link took me on a journey through the land of muslimmatters.org to an article that described Allah as a friend. I was a little disturbed because I do not know any true Muslim who would reasonably claim that Allah is a friend. Perhaps Sovereign, King, Holy, the One who has all Glory, Judge, One who deserves and commands human submission; but not father and certainly not friend.
I began to drift reflectively in my thoughts as I pounded out the narrative in my next book and I came to a realization. Religious people, in large part, do not seem to understand their own religion or their own scriptures. Much like the scientist who makes metaphysical or supernatural claims based on physical and natural sciences or uses those sciences to tout an idea that is not based in science whatsoever is the religious person who makes claims not supported historically by the faith or even arguably supported in the suggested Scriptures. I have two responses when I see people of faith performing this egregious incompetency. In the fallen world we live in, I felt it necessary to address the issue so that those reading will not unknowingly fall into heresy.
My first response when I read of someone who claims a different faith than my own (e.g. Muslims) and claims something I know to be contrary to that faith is to glaze over what they have said and think them to be unreasonable and unintelligent human beings (this may be wrong of me): speaking from emotion or experience rather than speaking from a firm foundation either in their scriptures or in their tradition. As soon as I saw that a Muslim woman referred to Allah as a better ‘friend’ than a gazillion other friends, I was turned off because this is not the suggestion that the Quran makes. There is only one verse in the Quran that I know of (10:62) that speaks of some being friends of Allah, but it is in the context specifically of Allah’s sovereignty and lordship. To suggest Allah is a best friend is to say that he is equal to us and this is not an implication that is supported either by tradition or by Muslim scriptures. I was abhorred to learn that she taught her child such a fallacious (or at least misleading) characteristic of Allah as if he is concerned mainly with our comfort, acceptance and happiness; and I am not even a Muslim. If Muslims are going to teach their children about their faith, at least they should think about it and represent it well.
I am not saying that I haven’t done this. I remember the first sermon I ever preached. I was sixteen and I stood up and actually used one verse of Scripture to talk about my idea that serving God brought absolute pleasure on this earth by God’s design. That is heresy! Though He may bring us spiritual peace, understanding and even satisfaction in Himself; He is not concerned with our comfort or degree of pleasure in a world that denies Him and where He declares we are aliens and sojourners. I should have examined the text rather than my own thoughts and declared the truth presented in Scripture rather than what I hoped for. I should have let someone examine my thoughts and I am committed to doing that now.
This being said, I am just as abhorred when Christians teach their children that Christ is their buddy. He is Lord. He is King. He is Holy. He is our Savior. He is Love. He has made us friends and co-heirs, but He is not our homeboy. I am irritated when well-meaning Christians use Scripture to make claims that it does not make.
“There was no animal death before the fall!” “It did not rain before the flood!” We can’t know these from the text, only from our own wishful and imaginative thinking. Here is my charge to parents, leaders and teachers of any faith: think about what you teach and be sure it actually represents the faith well. It is important for us to measure what we think before we say it and especially teach it. We should not lie to our children in some things (“Santa is bringing presents tonight!”) and expect them to believe us when we tell them that Christ truly died to pay for all sins. Not to mention, we insinuate that it is okay to lie in order to protect innocence. Not so! I think God was pretty clear when He gave Israel the command not to lie. This includes lies that are unintentional because we have not considered the Scriptures before we teach or make a claim about God.
I may seem harsh here, but please understand that this issue deserves some level of harshness because of our fallen nature. My love for you is not diminished because you do this, but my challenge to you is real. Honesty is important, which means we must work to discover the truth before we teach our children. No, I only write this because I love you and desire for you to grow spiritually. We have too many preachers and teachers and parents who make claims that are not based in Scripture, but instead in experience or emotion. While experience and emotions are profitable, they cannot determine truth. For our Muslim neighbors, please be honest about the god you worship; else how can we possibly have an honest conversation about our differences and discover who worships rightly?