McLaren: A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing

As Brian McLaren has drifted further and further off the reservation, I have taken to using scare-quotes whenever referring to him as an “evangelical.” Truth be known, however, he’s no longer even a scare-quotes “evangelical.” If you think I’m overreacting, wait until you hear this.

On August 13, McLaren announced on his blog that he would be observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This is not a joke. He writes,

“Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting for spiritual renewal and purification. It commemorates the month during which Muslims believe Mohammed received the Quran through divine revelation, and it calls Muslims to self-control, sacrificial generosity and solidarity with the poor, diligent reading of the Quran, and intensified prayer.

“This year, I, along with a few Christian friends (and perhaps others currently unknown to us will want to join in) will be joining Muslim friends in the fast which begins August 21. We are not doing so in order to become Muslims: we are deeply committed Christians. But as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them. Just as Jesus, a devout Jew, overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith two thousand years ago (Matthew 15:21 ff, Mark 7:24 ff), we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.”

This explanation is so filled with dangerous and damning error, it’s difficult to know where to begin. For starters, one cannot observe Ramadan as a “deeply committed” Christian. Fasting in the Christian tradition is irreducibly Christocentric. It involves praying to the Father of Christ (Mt 6:18) and longing for the return of Christ (Mt 9:15). The meaning and aim of the Muslim fast has nothing to do with Jesus. How can one observe Ramadan in any meaningful sense and do a Christian fast? The answer is that you can’t. If you try, you will end up distorting the Christian fast with syncretistic gobbledy-goop that is no longer recognizably Christian.

I would warn that McLaren is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but he has dropped the ruse. The wolf is prowling about openly.

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P.S. Be sure to read Doug Wilson’s “pile-driving” of McLaren.

87 Responses to McLaren: A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing

  1. Brian August 27, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Dr. Burk,

    While this is saddening, it is not in the least surprising. Once you begin the drift from orthodox Christianity as McClaren has for some time, this is the inevitable result. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  2. Sam James August 27, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    Hm. Yes, I have to agree here.

    It might be a different case if what McLaren were talking about were simply an Arab or otherwise Eastern custom. The fact that there is definite doctrinal basis in Muslim theology for Ramadan seems to make it ineligible for Christian use.

  3. Ryan K August 27, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    I heard about this last week from a friend and was saddened. I know in his comments McLaren says his motive is to express some sort of solidarity with Muslims, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding of Islam. It is another failure by liberals to import principles and values into other religions that they do not hold themselves.

    In the case of Ramadan, the fast is done out of devotion and service to Allah. It is an annual act that Muslims engage in to earn paradise before Allah when all is said and done.

    The first paragraph of McLaren’s explanation is vastly reductionistic as the primary motive of Ramadan is not purification and thinking about the poor, it is another good work done throughout one’s life that will type the final scales of judgment in their favor. As a follower of Christ it is horrific to participate in a religious devotional act that is intended to earn favor with a false god.

  4. Darby Livingston August 27, 2009 at 9:38 am #

    “Just as Jesus, a devout Jew, overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith two thousand years ago (Matthew 15:21 ff, Mark 7:24 ff), we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.”

    Really? I bet the Father was thankful that Jesus progressed so nicely under the tutelage of the Syrophonecian woman. He probably didn’t know what faith was until she gently corrected his distorted view. I think these guys can’t stand the thought of Jesus as he is, so they try to cut him down to size by making him a fellow traveler on a spiritual quest rather than the Savior who bears the wrath for others.

  5. Barry W August 27, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    I await Tony Jones’s outrage over this

  6. Rob Bradshaw August 27, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    Thanks for that Denny.

    It would be difficult to imagine these words coming from the mouth of a Christian of whatever shade in a score of countries where Islam is the dominant religion and Christians suffer for their faith on a daily basis.

    Only where ignorance of the nature of Islam predominates can such nonsense be hailed as avante-guard!

  7. Chris H August 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    C’mon guys, you are being too hard on McLaren here. I mean, look how pleased God was with Israel when they came close to their Caananite neighbors.

  8. Brian Krieger August 27, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    Barry W–very funny!!

  9. russware August 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    I have a deep appreciation for McLaren, he has so much to say that is good… as does the emergent discussion in general… but, I have to agree with the critique here.

    What is so disappointing to me, is that things like this make it so much more difficult for those who need to hear so much of what McLaren is saying to write it all off.

    It makes me even more thankful for voices like Wright, McKnight, Keller, Chan, etc… may their tribe increase!

  10. Jan D. August 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    Thanks for posting this, Denny. A wolf in wolf’s clothing indeed!

  11. Ted August 27, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    McLaren says: “…we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.”

    To play devil’s advocate, could a Christian missionary in the Middle East in some way observe Ramadan and remain faithfully committed to Christ?

    What is the goal of McLaren’s “learning?” To gain insight into Muslim living in order to preach the Gospel, or to confirm that different faiths have common values-beliefs?

    All this said, I think McLaren if off base. Like post # 4, Jesus was impressed with the Phoenician woman’s faith because it expressed faith in HIM.

  12. Charlie Albright August 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    “could a Christian missionary in the Middle East in some way observe Ramadan and remain faithfully committed to Christ?”

    Can I build an alter and sacrifice a bull to Baal and still be faithful to the true God?

  13. Tony Kummer August 27, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Meat sacrificed to idols = fasting for cultural exchange . . . The real question here is why criticism of McLaren so tickles our pride.

  14. Darius T August 27, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    You’re right Tony, we shouldn’t listen Scripture when it tells us to throw out the false teachers among us. Good point… ugh.

  15. paul August 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    Darius — read what Tony’s saying again. I get it.

    He’s equating McLaren’s actions with eating meat sacrificed to idols, which we’re not supposed to do. Tony’s on the same page.

    And he’s right, it’s not so much that people are tossing out the false teachers, its that those on the right get all high and mighty and giddy about doing so.

  16. Darius T August 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Paul, I figured Tony was on the right page, but I fail to see where anyone’s “pride” was showing? I’m sure some are ripping on McLaren due to pride (thank you I am not like that guy). But I guess I haven’t seen any obvious cases on here… please correct me if I’m wrong.

  17. David Hamilton August 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    “syncretistic gobbledy-goop” really sets this post apart in a class of greatness all by its lonesome!

  18. DennyReader August 27, 2009 at 6:40 pm #

    Brian McLaren said,
    Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting for spiritual renewal and purification. … it calls Muslims to self-control, sacrificial generosity and solidarity with the poor

    This year, I, along with a few Christian friends … will be joining Muslim friends in the fast which begins August 21. … we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them. … we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.

    CNN News: 21 dead as suicide bomber strikes in Pakistan
    At least 21 people were killed and 27 wounded in a suicide bombing Thursday in Pakistan, near its border with Afghanistan, officials told CNN.

    The victims were security personnel gathering for a meal to end the daily fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan, a local official told CNN.

    Emergent, and proud of it.

  19. russware August 27, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    Darius… it’s all in the way it comes across… and, I can think of someone who kind of tends to come across as a bit prideful and ‘giddy’ in such matters on this blog…

    Brother, I do not always disagree with the things you say on this blog… I disagree more than a little, but not always. The trouble is, even when I agree with you I often find myself not wanting to because I am so turned off by the manner of expression.

    Somehow we need to elevate our level of discourse, especially on matters as important as this… even on blogs.

    And incidentally, while I agree with general concerns expressed here regarding McLaren’s announcement (see my comment #9 that was hung-up in moderation for a while), it seems like there may be some over-reaction. The extent to which McLaren’s participation in the fast is problematic relates to what he means/intends by ‘participation.’ I’m not sure that is clear, but his explanation of his motives should give us some thoughtful pause. Nevertheless, it seems like it’s all blood in the water and the sharks have rushed in!

  20. Charlie Albright August 27, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    Tony,

    “fasting for cultural exchange”

    I bet that is the same thing the Israelites called it in the book of Judges! Just change “fasting” to “sacrifice”.

    You have to look past the terms and into the meaning. What is Ramadan but a religious practice to honor a false god. And then what is sacrificing a bull on an alter…a religious practice to honor a false god. Just because one changes what is done in the practice does not change the essence of the practice.

  21. DennyReader August 27, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    it seems like it’s all blood in the water and the sharks have rushed in!

    There’s been blood in the water for a long time. The emergents have declared war on God (or if you prefer, pre-postmodern Christians) years ago. Make no mistake about it, we are in a spiritual warfare against those who seeks to set arguments, strongholds and pretensions against the knowledge of God. It is not hubris or uncharitable to demolish and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

    Emergents like McLaren, are hypocrites who do not afford the same charity that they demand from their critics. This is not an excuse to be uncharitable, but please do not conflate criticism with uncharitable.

  22. russware August 27, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    The case could just as easily be made that the Reformed Baptists declared war on pre-modern Christians (just to use an example).

    I would suggest that critique need never be uncharitable. It is precisely because they are two different things that I am so troubled they so often seem to go hand in hand in such discourses… as if we’ve all gleaned our rhetorical skills from political pundits.

    Our discourse should be at a higher level that is characterized by spiritual fruit. See Galatians 5.19-23. That’s all I’m saying.

    I haven’t ever thought of McLaren as being uncharitable, in fact his graciousness is one of his most winning qualities. But even if he was, as you say, that would be no excuse for his opponents to be so. Which makes me wonder why you even brought up the suggestion.

  23. Darius T August 27, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    McLaren APPEARS to be charitable while being anything but… this is evidenced by his poor representation of other positions throughout his books (especially A Generous Orthodoxy) and his use of the most extreme opponents of his as being typical of all his opponents (see his blog response regarding this issue).

    Regarding charitable dialogue, I would suggest that you, Russ, check out what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees, or even what Paul said to Peter. And I mean SERIOUSLY check it out. One can’t honestly come away with the impression that either of them were being “charitable,” at least as you seem to define it.

  24. Steve Hayes August 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    I, like Russ, have an appreciation for some of McLaren’s work. I remember reading “A New Kind of Christian”, and finding it to be thoughtful and even corrective in regards to culture and ministry. It made me tense, but I appreciated the tension.

    This latest stunt makes me tense too, but, in this case, I don’t appreciate the tension. It just seems silly and without much real substance. But, it doesn’t mean that McLaren isn’t a Christian.

    Here’s the real issue that Russ and Darius and DennyReader are bumping up against: Russ believes McLaren is a brother in Christ, and should therefore be given the kind of charity and grace that the Bible condones between Christ-followers. Darius and DennyReader beleive that McLaren is far from Christian, and that he is, in fact, preaching a different gospel. In light of that, it’s not a problem at all for them to be, as the Bible sometimes is, uncharitable to those who are actively seeking to deceive.

    My tendency is to side with Russ. Although I understand the concern with regards to McLaren, I’m only willing to say that he’s misguided on this or that issue, but not that he’s a “wolf” seeking to devour sheep.

    I’ll say the same thing about myself that I say about McLaren: I’m sometimes misguided as well. There are things that seem right to me about God that I later find to be folly. I have been dogmatic about things, only to find out through the truth of the Word, the wisdom of friends, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that I was dead wrong. I’m not ready to give up on the hope that the same thing can’t happen or doesn’t happen to McLaren (or Russ, or DennyReader, or Darius, or anyone else on this blog). I still think grace should be extended to Brian McLaren.

  25. DennyReader August 27, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

    The case could just as easily be made that the Reformed Baptists declared war on pre-modern Christians (just to use an example).

    And your point is? Remember you were the one that said there “it’s all blood in the water and the sharks have rushed in!”, implying that those who are now criticizing McLaren are sharks. I’ve merely pointed out the fact that McLaren have been biting at Christians like me for a long time. So if there is blood then it is from McLaren’s attack of Christians not the other way around.

    I would suggest that critique need never be uncharitable.

    I would agree. So would you please offer which statements that have been said were uncharitable toward McLaren? Otherwise, by your implication of referring to his critics as sharks does seem to conflate the idea of Biblically based criticism with uncharitable behavior.

    I haven’t ever thought of McLaren as being uncharitable, in fact his graciousness is one of his most winning qualities. Which makes me wonder why you even brought up the suggestion.

    I would agree with you that I’ve have not known McLaren to raise his voice and his verbiage is quite smooth. I would note that quietness is not necessarily the same as charity. Some psychotic killers when you ask their neighbors, they would tell you he’s seem very quiet and nice. I can’t believe he would do such a thing. I am not suggesting McLaren is anything like that at all. I am just trying to make the point that his smoothness is not indicative of what is in his heart. I remind you of the warning from 2 Corinthians 11:14.
    I brought up the suggestion because you implied his critics are sharks and have attacked him until there is blood in the water. But let me give you an example why I think McLaren is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
    In an interview with PBS’s RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY. During the interview he mentioned that he grew up as a fundamentalist in a world of fundamentalism. He praises the fundamentalist as wonderful, God loving people. Brian thanks God for his conservative heritage. He goes on to explain.

    McLaren on PBS: One of the things I gained from my heritage is an understanding that there is a lot of vigorous debate, especially in the fundamentalist sectors, and the language gets pretty hot pretty fast sometimes. I have tried to not indulge in that kind of language myself. I don’t think that’s the best way to conduct dialogue. Sometimes the language is intended to shut down dialogue, and I think that’s not a good thing.

    Here is an example of how he can sound charitable without actually being charitable. He said fundamentalist are wonderful people, but they are hot heads. Thanks for the compliment Brian. Maybe what Brian meant was fundamentalists are often too straightforward and honest in expressing their opinions. Brian’s approach to dialogue is polite and eloquent. His words have an uplifting quality, even when his dagger is slipping into your ribcage. Delivering death with a smile might be Brian’s motto.

  26. DennyReader August 27, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    Darius and DennyReader beleive that McLaren is far from Christian, and that he is, in fact, preaching a different gospel.

    This is true Steve. I do not believe McLaren is a true Christian and he is preaching a different gospel, but I don’t mean to be uncharitable and I don’t think I have been uncharitable to him. I would like nothing more for Brian to repent of his sins and come into full submission of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would celebrate and fast for 30 days with him if that were to happen. Until then McLaren is sticking his finger in God’s eye by calling Muslims his “brothers and sisters”. He insults Jesus, the Giver of life, by saying he “overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith”, when it was the other way around. While that may seem gracious and loving in the eyes of the world but it is an affront to God. We can be misguided about many doctrines but not about the gospel and Who God is. In which case, we might as well eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

  27. Steve Hayes August 28, 2009 at 3:20 am #

    DennyReader,

    You wrote: “So would you please offer which statements that have been said were uncharitable toward McLaren?”

    Well, you said he has “declared war on God.” Then you called him a hypocrite. Oh yeah, and before that you basically accused him of consorting with terrorists. And finally, you compared him to a psychotic killer. I’d say those statements seem pretty uncharitable. If you said those things about me, I wouldn’t see them as gracious or charitable.

    But you think statements like these are fine because you think that McLaren is an agent of satan, rather than a Christian who just so happens to have some very different views than yours. Were you really intending to be charitable when you made those statements about McLaren?

    One other thing: Be cautious when you make blanket statements about “emergents.” This is a very broad term that describes a pretty large spectrum of beliefs and methods. There are some “McLaren” emergents, but there are others who would not align themselves as closely with McLaren as you might think.

    Participants can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal, post-liberal, charismatic, neocharismatic and post-charismatic (and pretty much anything in between). What those involved in the emergent conversation mostly agree on is that they are both disillusioned by and supportive of some of the practices of the organized and institutional church. So what you’re basically saying is that all of the people described above, who are part of a very decentralized “movement”, are waging war against God. Without intending to be uncharitable, that seems quite narrow to me.

    By the way, just to be clear, I have BIG problems with McLaren in reference to the subject of this post. I have other problems with McLaren as well. But I have problems with a lot of people’s views within the Christian community. That doesn’t make them wolves… At least not all of them;-)

  28. John Michael LaRue August 28, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    Galatians 4:21-30
    Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
    For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
    But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
    Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
    For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
    But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
    For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
    Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
    But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
    Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”

    It seems Paul is crystal clear here that when dealing with a false teacher, the Christian response is not charity but to cast one out from among their presence.

    I do not believe McLaren is a Christian. He denies so much of historic Christian orthodoxy. He is acting syncretistically in his joining with Muslims in their worship practices.

    He ought to be cast out among us.

  29. Darius T August 28, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    Amen, John Michael. He ought to be cast out so that in so doing, he might come to repentance and yet be saved. Otherwise, by allowing him authority within the Church, it only serves to confirm in his mind the truth of his claims.

  30. Dan P August 28, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    While I was a missionary in an Islamic country, I knew many missionaries that fasted during Ramadan. During that time, they prayed that God would speak to Muslims. They did not abandon their faith, worship Allah, or start wearing a burka. The time they spent with God energized their discourse with Muslims.

    McLaren specifically states that “We are not doing so in order to become Muslims.” McLaren isn’t going to suddenly start quoting the Qu’ran, wear a prayer cap and carry a prayer rug around with him so he can pray 5 times in the direction of Mecca, and give the Zakat. His recent prayer on Day 2 of his fast (http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/ramadan-2009-day-3.html#more) supports this.

    There are a lot of people who follow Jesus whom I don’t agree with. I rarely agree with either Denny, Piper, Mark Driscoll, or others that are of the New Calvinists/Reformed movements. However, I firmly believe that they are all followers of Jesus. Jesus picked a wide variety of people to follow him including fishermen, tax collectors,prostitutes, pharisees, and a member of the Zealots (which rose up violently against Rome in 66 A.D. This eventually led to the destruction of the second temple). I’m grateful that my fellow brothers and sisters are not all from the same mold. And I’m thankful for both Denny and McLaren.

  31. russware August 28, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    A sincere question…

    Is there really a practical mechanism for ‘casting McLaren (or anyone else) out’ in the context of the post-Reformation Church… modern or post-modern?

  32. Darius T August 28, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Good question, Russ. I would say yes and no. Yes, we can “treat him like a tax collector.” But at the same time, within the Church (broadly defined as those who at least claim to follow Christ), McLaren will always find a welcoming home whether we like it or not. I don’t think the fractured nature of today’s Church means that Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 or Paul’s instructions on church discipline don’t apply anymore. Each of us as individuals still have to apply them in our own lives. Unfortunately, there will be McLarens and Osteens who will always have a huge following no matter how much orthodox Christians may protest otherwise.

    At the same time, things aren’t as different from the early Church as we might think. Sure, there weren’t all of these denominations, but there were Paulians and followers of Apollos just as there are Calvinists and Lutherans today. Arius had a pretty good following and plenty of church bodies welcomed his teaching.

  33. DennyReader August 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Steve,

    Well, you said he has “declared war on God.” Then you called him a hypocrite. Oh yeah, and before that you basically accused him of consorting with terrorists. And finally, you compared him to a psychotic killer. I’d say those statements seem pretty uncharitable. If you said those things about me, I wouldn’t see them as gracious or charitable.

    Let me ask you Steve, do you think that by calling Muslims his brothers and sisters, thereby making Allah his god does not constitute as a declaration of war on the God of the Bible? Or accusing Jesus of having some sort of prejudice that He needs to overcome in order to learn from a sinner and a creature that He has created is not an insult to God? Jesus used the word hypocrite in many occasions. Paul used the word hypocrite more than once. I called him a hypocrite because that is exactly what he was doing when he basically put others down at the same time doing what he accused them of doing, except in flowery words. Some of us might actually prefer a little bit more honesty.

    Where did I accuse McLaren of consorting with terrorist? He claims kinship with Muslims and that he can learn from them. All I did was to point out the irony of his platitude and his singing praise of the observance of Ramadan. Would terrorist bombing be one of those things he can learn from the Muslims during the month of Ramadan? Or maybe Allah is really his god?

    I guess in this postmodern culture charity and grace is all a matter of interpretation don’t you think? I did not make any statements to hurt Brian personally. I merely pointed out what were facts and the danger that he represents to the salvation of all those who would listen to him. I did not flay insults at him nor have I made any unfounded accusations. If by pointing out where he is factually in error and that his teachings are a danger to the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the saints then I have already been too gracious. The apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said. 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—
    7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
    8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
    Ga 1:6-8

    But you think statements like these are fine because you think that McLaren is an agent of satan, rather than a Christian who just so happens to have some very different views than yours. Were you really intending to be charitable when you made those statements about McLaren?

    Please do not make the mistake of accusing me of demonizing McLaren so that I can criticize him. I clearly pointed out why he is not a Christian and there are many more instances that I haven’t even mentioned to justify why he is not a Christian. I get no pleasure from demonizing McLaren. If only he would have used his talent for the kingdom of God instead of leading people away from it. I would be the first to cheer him on. May the question you need to ask yourself if you are really trying to shut down factually justifiable criticism by accusing other of being uncharitable.

    One other thing: Be cautious when you make blanket statements about “emergents.” This is a very broad term that describes a pretty large spectrum of beliefs and methods. There are some “McLaren” emergents, but there are others who would not align themselves as closely with McLaren as you might think.

    I think your point, blanket statements can be imprecise. I do it; even McLaren does it, sometimes for the sake of brevity. I am obviously using the term here for those who would closely ally themselves with McLaren’s theology. BTW, if you want to criticize someone as uncharitable, take a look at the links in the John Piper and tornado post. Look at the emergents who criticize Piper. Are they not hypocrites?

  34. Larry S August 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    Darius wrote:
    “but there were Paulians and followers of Apollos just as there are Calvinists and Lutherans today.”

    hey, don’t leave out Anabaptists 🙂

  35. Brian Krieger August 28, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    I agree with much of the flowery language hides cutting remarks, though I’m not sure that McLaren often falls into that category. Which, to me, is more of a point that identifying McLaren’s views/beliefs are sometimes more difficult to ascertain than nailing jello to the wall. I agree with Dr. Burk that he is a wolf. Most notably because he is a teacher (woe to you who desire to teach…) and consistently refuses to give a reason for the hope that he has. And continues to see Christ as more of an add-on to your current religion. Or so it would seem. I think there are a great number of things we can learn from how he converses. And I (or we or whatever), as a conservative, should certainly learn from the shortcomings McLaren identifies (the Church often falls too far out of society) in the same manner that David learned from his enemy’s rebuke. That’s the thing, I think that he leads his flock away from Christ as the center and makes me the center or makes other people the center. It seems to show that he puts relationships with others and our own beliefs before God, thus I think he is not preaching biblical Christianity but (I liked the line) syncretistic gobbledy-goop that is no longer recognizably Christian.

    I think that, for this specific context, I think Charlie said it best.

    And, after saying all of that, Hitler.

  36. Ben August 31, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    I’ve been thinking about this post over the weekend.

    I know several Christian missionaries to Muslim countries who participate in Ramadan – the fasting and prayer and celebration. However, these do it from a Christian context – fasting for the Spirit of the true God to move through the Muslim people, praying for their salvation, celebrating God’s saving work, etc.

    In other words, they aren’t participating in order to become Muslims, but they are participating in order to “come close”.

    I’m not a McLaren fan (at least not for the last 5 years or so), but do wish to treat him more charitably in this endeavor, especially since the article does not explain enough about what he is actually doing.

  37. Lindsey August 31, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    I learn a great deal by reading this blog, and that is precisely because I so rarely agree with what is written.

    My views and opinions have been tested, pushed, stretched, and in the end they are either stronger or different, and I appreciate that. I’ve never once minded that every post could easily start with, “Lindsey, this is why what you think about __ is wrong.”

    However, I think that the statement, “Would terrorist bombing be one of those things he can learn from the Muslims during the month of Ramadan?” is wholly inappropriate. It could only mean one of two things:

    A) It is a joke, and one made in very, very poor taste.
    B) There is obviously a profound refusal to understand and empathize with the Muslim community.

    I’m prepared to be reminded that the Qur’an contains calls to murdering infidels and that suicide bombers are often Muslim. I already know those facts.

    But I also know that it is salt on my wound of difficult gospel-sharing when unbelievers insist that I hate gay people. It saddens me that the actions of some have polluted people’s view of me as a Christian.

    Like it or not, there are followers of Islam who do not condone violence. There are Muslims who are grieved that this is who we think they are. And I, for one, find it much more difficult to effectively minister to them when there are Christians out there making flippant comments about Muslim terrorism.

  38. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    “Like it or not, there are followers of Islam who do not condone violence.”

    Yes, but unfortunately we rarely hear from them. It’s not that people think that all Muslims or even a majority of Muslims are terrorists, but that so few Muslims actually renounce terrorism as a viable option. Instead, you have groups like CAIR and students groups at Berkeley who support terrorism as a moral recourse.

    Consider this… if Christians had largely been silent after that abortionist was killed in Kansas a few months ago, would it not have been understandable for people to assume that most Christians were sympathetic to the idea of killing abortion doctors, if not completely supported it?

  39. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    “Like it or not, there are followers of Islam who do not condone violence.”

    Yes, but unfortunately we rarely hear from them. It’s not that people think that all Muslims or even a majority of Muslims are terrorists, but that so few Muslims actually renounce terrorism as a viable option. Instead, you have groups like CAIR and students groups at Berkeley who support terrorism as a moral recourse.

    Consider this… if Christians had largely been silent after that abortionist was killed in Kansas a few months ago, would it not have been understandable for people to assume that most Christians were sympathetic to the idea of killing abortion doctors, if not completely supported it?

    What we do know is that polls have consistently shown that anywhere between 15 and 40% of Muslims IN THE WESTERN WORLD support the use of terrorism to further the reach of Islamic rule. Now consider that it’s probably higher in the actual Muslim countries…

  40. Ryan K August 31, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Darius your points are well reasoned.

    I would add that logically it follows that while not all Muslims are terrorists, most terrorists are Muslim.

    To deny this link requires one to ignore much of what is going on in the world and acts of the last decade.

    While I agree that there are many Muslims who are against terrorism, their voices are a whisper and we have yet to see a Muslim leader really grab the mantle of non-violence and rally people of his faith to follow him. Like it or not, those who are faithful to the Koran and its teaching are overwhelmingly unwilling to denounce terrorism.

  41. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    “Like it or not, those who are faithful to the Koran and its teaching are overwhelmingly unwilling to denounce terrorism.”

    Part of this is because those who fight for peace are killed by those who want holy war. I was just reading the other day about a Muslim imam who was murdered for calling for a jihad against terrorism.

  42. Brian Krieger August 31, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Lindsey:

    You raise, in my mind, two questions. First, what are your thoughts of Mr. McLaren’s observance, essentially, of Ramadan? I know you disagree with one of the commenters here, but the blog itself didn’t state that. Or were you sweeping the author in with your generalization, too?
    Second (and this is more of a general question to anyone), is there a difference between the example you cite* versus the Qur’an’s teachings on (violent) Jihad (which seem to be interpretations, not outright statements of killing infidels)? From my very limited knowledge set (stress limited), I would say so, but….?

    * – old testament governances on theocratic law (homosexuals condemned to death) and New Testament condemnation (of homosexual sin) but no longer bound by theocratic law

  43. ex-preacher August 31, 2009 at 4:43 pm #

    Yes, Many Muslims have denounced terrorism – it just doesn’t make the news.

    See http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

  44. ex-preacher August 31, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    Also, Darius, please show me where you got this information: “What we do know is that polls have consistently shown that anywhere between 15 and 40% of Muslims IN THE WESTERN WORLD support the use of terrorism to further the reach of Islamic rule.”

  45. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    Ex-Preacher, that website is bunk. It includes statements from CAIR, which has ties to terrorism and has repeatedly been found to help fund terrorists around the world. That is the problem, of those Muslims who do speak out against terrorism, a significant percentage of them actually support terrorism. They just know it’s politically advantageous to say otherwise. You get courted by stupid American politicians, for example.

    As for polls, here is one: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248

    To summarize, the lowest percentage of occupants of Muslim countries who support terrorism was 18% in Morocco, while 88% of those in Jordan support it.

    Here’s a more recent poll of British Muslims… http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/14/opinion/main1893879.shtml

    It shouldn’t be all that surprising, Islam is an intolerant religion. Look at the poll… “seventy-eight percent support punishment for the people who earlier this year published cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed.”

  46. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    Ex-Preacher, that website is bunk. It includes statements from CAIR, which has ties to terrorism and has repeatedly been found to help fund terrorists around the world. That is the problem, of those Muslims who do speak out against terrorism, a significant percentage of them actually support terrorism. They just know it’s politically advantageous to say otherwise. You get courted by stupid American politicians, for example.

  47. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    As for polls, here is one: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248

    To summarize, the lowest percentage of occupants of Muslim countries who support terrorism was 18% in Morocco, while 88% of those in Jordan support it.

    Here’s a more recent poll of British Muslims… http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/14/opinion/main1893879.shtml

    It shouldn’t be all that surprising, Islam is an intolerant religion. Look at the poll… “seventy-eight percent support punishment for the people who earlier this year published cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed.”

  48. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    As for polls, here is one: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248

    To summarize, the lowest percentage of occupants of Muslim countries who support terrorism was 18% in Morocco, while 88% of those in Jordan support it.

  49. Darius T August 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Here’s a more recent poll of British Muslims… http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/14/opinion/main1893879.shtml

    It shouldn’t be all that surprising, Islam is an intolerant religion. Look at the poll… “seventy-eight percent support punishment for the people who earlier this year published cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed.”

  50. ex-preacher August 31, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    Let’s go over this again, Darius. You said: “What we do know is that polls have consistently shown that anywhere between 15 and 40% of Muslims IN THE WESTERN WORLD support the use of terrorism to further the reach of Islamic rule.”

    Do you have any support for this claim?

  51. DennyReader September 1, 2009 at 2:23 am #

    ex-preacher, would you quantify “many” when you said “Many Muslims have denounced terrorism”?

    Would that be 90% of Muslims? 80%? Please show me where you got this information.

  52. Tyler September 1, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    How did this thread turn into a debate about terrorism? Seriously guys, may I politely suggest that a few of you stop watching so much cable news and start engaging with real life followers of Islam?

    As for Mr. McLaren, I’m not sure I would describe what he’s doing as wolf-like–if it stands alone. One commenter a few numbers back mentioned that more than a few “m’s” in Muslim contexts regularly observe the month of fasting. Some do it for pragmatic reasons–most shops and restaurants are closed during daylight hours and everybody in the whole town (even Christians) celebrate the breaking of fast each evening. Others to join in the rhythm of life of the neighbors. It’s the same reason many Christians in majority Muslim places abstain from pork and many from alcohol as well (gasp shock horror!)

    So as for Mr. McLaren, I’m sure his reasons go beyond mere grandstanding. Now I said above, this would be well and good if it stood alone. But unfortunately with Mr. McLaren, it does not. He would most likely identify himself as a Christian inclusivist, and that is problematic. But let’s stick with what is said here, and not assume this particular act is meant to call into question the exclusivity of Christ. I see no reason to see it as such. Otherwise there are quite a few Christians around the world deserving of the same “pile-driving”–the kind of Christians who are familiar with suffering yet still would do nearly anything to see their brothers and sisters come to a saving knowledge of the True God (cf. Rom. 9-11).

  53. Matthew Staton September 1, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    Doug Wilson’s pile-driving strikes me as a rude piece of mockery that makes no attempt at irenic, fair discussion.

  54. Darius T September 1, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Doug Wilson’s pile-driving struck me as something you might read about in the Gospels, particularly when Jesus was addressing certain religious leaders.

  55. Darius T September 1, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    Ex-preacher, see the links I provided. Or do a little googling, it won’t take you long to find similar polls.

  56. ex-preacher September 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Darius, I looked at the links and have googled this and find no support for your claim: “What we do know is that polls have consistently shown that anywhere between 15 and 40% of Muslims IN THE WESTERN WORLD support the use of terrorism to further the reach of Islamic rule.”

    Now I’m wondering where you got the figures of “15 and 40%.” Did you just make that up?

  57. Darius T September 1, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    Hmm, the links I gave showed that anywhere between 15% and upwards of 70% of Muslims support terrorism in at least some situations. As for the 15-40 range, that was a rough estimate. As you see from the links, it’s actually higher than that in some polls.

  58. ex-preacher September 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    Except that you specifically said “IN THE WESTERN WORLD.”

  59. Lindsey September 1, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    In response to those who directly replied to my statement:

    Darius, 15-40% does not represent all Muslims, however, and my objection was to the sweeping generalization. It is also important to know that what we hear about isn’t always what is the most prevalent; it is what is the most newsworthy. Many secular Americans could not tell you who Al Mohler or John Piper is, but you can be sure that most of them remember Ted Haggard or even Jim Bakker. We tend to pay more attention to the flies in our ointment than those who are not causing a stir.

    Brian,

    Addressing your questions, I have very little opinion on Mr. McLaren’s observance of Ramadan. I’m a big supporter of many of the social initiatives that he and his ilk promote, but there is so little emphasis on the Christian aspect that he’s little more than a social worker anymore. I think this is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to McLaren’s strange way of distancing himself from mainstream Christianity.

    The author of the blog is the one who made the comment to which I referred. I would have quoted it using html but didn’t realize it was an option until I had already submitted it.

    I was not actually referring to theocratic law with my reference to homosexuality. My point was that the more vocal, though fringe, believers such as Westboro Baptist Church have gained far more notoriety than Christians who lovingly minister to the homosexual community. I don’t know enough about the Qur’an and its interpretation to speculate whether or not fundamentalism is required for true belief. I do, however, know enough about the dear friends of mine who are Muslim and do not condone terrorism.

  60. Darius T September 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Well, that one link is of British Muslims… I’ll try to find one of those polls that specifically deals with this… suffice it to say that shortly after 9/11, they polled British Muslims and a huge percentage of them thought that 9/11 was good. There were Muslims dancing in the streets in the UK the week after the airplanes hit the towers.

  61. Darius T September 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    “My point was that the more vocal, though fringe, believers such as Westboro Baptist Church have gained far more notoriety…”

    Those aren’t believers, they’re just a cult who does whatever Fred Phelps says.

  62. Brian Krieger September 1, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    Lindsey:

    Thanks for the response. Just a point of clarification, the commenter is DennyReader, not the author of the blog that made the comment to which you referred. Dr. Burk would post as Denny Burk, I doubt he broke form here.

    WRT the second part, I know that you were referring to the (incorrect) broad sweeping notions that every muslim is a terrorist. My question was more along the lines of the fact that violent Christians (or even violent speaking folks like Phelps) are fringe Christ followers (at best). Christian doctrine promotes peace (but zealous faith to Christ). That’s complicated, though, in that theocratic Israel had capital punishment for adultery, beastiality, homosexuality (and a host of other sins), but people will use those fringe folks to broad-brush all of Christianity. Whereas the Qur’an specifically calls its followers to wage war. Thus moving from a fringe sect to a larger movement (I’ll let Darius and ep sort out those details). My question is whether or not letting 1-in-6 or nearly 1/2 determine your view is different than a fringe (orders of magnitude less) determine your view. I suppose it’s that, while I don’t agree with McLaren that we should help the Corinthians Muslims stay in their stew, I don’t agree that all muslims promote violence, I do think that we zealously defend Christ, I do think that there are very large numbers of muslims who do want to commit violence to all non-muslims. That number of potentials is simply to point out that the war on non-muslims is written in their book. It’s not an interpretation (how far to take that is, however!). So while all muslims don’t learn violence from the Qur’an, a significant portion indicate that one of the teaching points is war (and, thus, we get terrorism).

    And after saying all of that, I have to say that it does seem like there is a much more peace-seeking wave beginning to take root in the muslim community. Unfortuantely, it also seems that the movement seems to be in non-middle-east locations. But I don’t much care for peace. I care for Christ to be preached and His word to be sown. Which is why I am so dismayed when something like this (with McLaren) happens.

  63. Brian Krieger September 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm #

    A commenter (on Wilson’s site) named Michael Hutton had a good word:
    I do agree that not eating in front of Muslims during Ramadan is respectful, and I would support and encourage those who rub shoulders with Muslims to do so. But as for keeping Ramadan in order to build a bridge, How can you do works for merit in order to help free people from the slavery of working for merit? How can you observe the religion Christ died to set them free from?

  64. Lindsey September 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Darius–my point was that the rest of the world lumps us in with them and that we do the same to peaceful Muslims. What WBC truly believes has little bearing on how they impact the world’s opinion of Christians.

    Brian–thanks for the clarification on who made the comment. You can see now why I considered it with the original post.

    You and Darius are far more educated in this area than I; my frame of reference is entirely based on experience with Western Muslims, the bulk of whom are peaceful. While I do think it’s silly that McLaren is going to observe Ramadan in an effort to extend the olive branch, so to speak, I can appreciate his desire to be respectful and loving towards the Muslim community. Comments like DennyReader’s (not Dr. Burke’s :D) fly in the face of love and respect, and that is not something Christ ever called us to do. Speak the Truth, yes. Sow the Word, of course. If those come at the cost of peace, so be it, but I do not see any justification for a comment like his.

  65. Brian Krieger September 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Lindsey:

    Absolutely on the western-based muslim community. I can see how harsh the words are.

    Thanks for the interaction and have a blessed day!

  66. ex-preacher September 1, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    “Those aren’t believers, they’re just a cult who does whatever Fred Phelps says.”

    A perfect example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

  67. ex-preacher September 1, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    Findings from a 2007 “survey by the centre-right think tank, Policy Exchange, of more than 1,000 Muslims living across the UK.”

    7% “admire organisations like al-Qaeda that are prepared to fight the West”. 13% of 16 to 24-year-olds agreed with this statement compared with 3% of over-55s.

    28% of Muslims believe that authorities in Britain go over the top in trying not to offend Muslims.

    75% believe it was wrong for a council to ban an advertisement for a Christmas carol service in 2003 for fear of causing tension.

    64% believe it was wrong for a council to ban all images of pigs from its offices, for example on calendars and toys in 2005, for fear of offending Muslims.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6309983.stm

  68. ex-preacher September 1, 2009 at 11:58 pm #

    Any actual evidence for the following assertion? “suffice it to say that shortly after 9/11, they polled British Muslims and a huge percentage of them thought that 9/11 was good. There were Muslims dancing in the streets in the UK the week after the airplanes hit the towers.”

  69. DennyReader September 2, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Lindsey,

    However, I think that the statement, “Would terrorist bombing be one of those things he can learn from the Muslims during the month of Ramadan?” is wholly inappropriate. It could only mean one of two things:
    A) It is a joke, and one made in very, very poor taste.

    It was not meant as a joke and why is it inappropriate? Just because something is unpleasant to hear does not make it inappropriate does it? My intention was to point out the irony of what McLaren said. Remember McLaren also said this, “Muslims observe Ramadan in the same basic way world-wide: they fast from food, water, sex, etc., from dawn to dusk.” Well apparently some of them think terrorist bombing is also fine during Ramadan.

    B) There is obviously a profound refusal to understand and empathize with the Muslim community.

    What would you like me to empathize with the Muslim community about?
    McLaren said he wants to learn from his Muslim neighbors. What does he want to learn from them? Maybe you can tell me what he/you hopes to learn from them? Frankly I see no redeeming quality from a false religion that I can learn from. Now if instead he said we need to respect Muslims as every other human being on the planet and learn from each other in the general sense then I would have no problem with that. Again the problem is that McLaren is willing to sacrifice Christianity for his universalist utopia by blowing praises to false gods.

    But I also know that it is salt on my wound of difficult gospel-sharing when unbelievers insist that I hate gay people. It saddens me that the actions of some have polluted people’s view of me as a Christian.

    I think others have made some good comments to your point already, but let me say this. As Christians we are overly preoccupied with the sin of homosexuality, but the problem does not stem from us. If an unbeliever insists that I hate gay people then I just remind them that I do not hate gay people any more than I hate idolaters, adulterers, drunkards, thieves and all unrighteous, because none will inherit the kingdom of God. However, I think the reason Christians seems to speak out more against the gays is because we are being forced to accept homosexuality as right and good, by the gays and society in general. We are told that we need to accept gay marriage and gay adoption. I think we would be equally vocal if we are forced to accept idolatry, adultery, and theft as right and good, but nobody is championing these sins are they? Well, accept McLaren with idolatry, but that is why we are so vociferously against what he is teaching also.

  70. DennyReader September 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    I hope this will not draw Tyler’s ire, but just a couple of quick points. 🙂

    ex-preacher,

    7% “admire organisations like al-Qaeda that are prepared to fight the West”. 13% of 16 to 24-year-olds agreed with this statement compared with 3% of over-55s.

    36% of 16 to 24-year-olds believe if a Muslim converts to another religion they should be punished by death, compared with 19% of over-55s
    28% Muslims would prefer to live under Sharia law
    According to the Pew Research:
    Moreover, more than twice as many Muslim Americans under age 30 as older Muslims believe that suicide bombings can be often or sometimes justified in the defense of Islam (15% vs. 6%).

  71. ex-preacher September 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    From that same source: “Very few Muslim Americans – just
    1% – say that suicide bombings against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam; an additional 7% say suicide bombings
    are sometimes justified in these
    circumstances.”

    I do not want to say that terrorism by Muslim extremists is not a concern – it is. But it needs to be kept in perspective. I suspect that even some Christians would agree that violence might be acceptable to defend Christianity in some circumstances.

  72. Darius T September 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Here are a bunch of UC Irvine Muslim students… based on their rhetoric, they clearly don’t have a problem with terrorism in the name of Islam. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ1lk3xz_UE&feature=related

  73. DennyReader September 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    ex-preacher,

    That’s still 8% that said suicide bombing on civilians is acceptable. And you have to wonder how they define civilians.

    But to answer your previous question to Darius, 21% of Muslims do say suicide bombings can be justified in the defense of Islam.

    37% believe that “one of the benefits of modern society is the freedom to criticise other people’s religious or political views, even when it causes offence”

    Sixty-eight percent support the arrest and prosecution of those British people who “insult Islam.” When asked if free speech should be protected, even if it offends religious groups, 62 percent of British Muslims say No, it should not.

    Tolerance does seem to be a problem with Muslims. BTW, you still have not quantify what you mean by “many” when you said “Many Muslims have denounced terrorism”. I would love to see Muslims speak out on this. I think the media would be anxious to report such a story. If there is such a large contingent of non-violent Muslims, I would have thought they could make more of their view known.

  74. ex-preacher September 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Did you look at the link I provided?
    http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

    No, the media is not anxious to report such a story. There is virtually no news value when a large group of moderate, peaceful people denounce the views of a few radicals.

    How exactly would you propose they make their views known? If you care to search on the internet, you can quickly find large numbers of American Muslims who denounce terrorism. Have you spoken to the Muslims you know or Muslim leaders in your community?

  75. Darius T September 2, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    “No, the media is not anxious to report such a story.”

    This isn’t correct. The mainstream liberal media loves to talk about how the Religion of Peace is always denouncing the terrorists. The only problem is they have a hard time finding Muslims who don’t sympathize with Bin Laden.

  76. DennyReader September 2, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Did you look at the link I provided?

    The internet is great for some things, but not for gauging support of issues. Anyone or group can put up a webpage with a statement but I can’t gauge how much popular support there is for such a statement. Again for the 3rd time, you said “Many Muslims have denounced terrorism”. Quantify it for me. Show me a reputable poll or scientific study that supports your claim. So far the only evidence we have are the polls that contradicts what you are claiming.
    BTW, 2 out of 4 of the links in that website you pointed to are 404.

    No, the media is not anxious to report such a story. There is virtually no news value when a large group of moderate, peaceful people denounce the views of a few radicals.

    I think you are wrong about the media. Would you like to give some evidence for why the media would not want to report this large group of moderate that denounced terrorism? On the contrary, the polls show that’s probably not the case. According to poll that you cited. 28% of Muslims believe that authorities in Britain go over the top in trying not to offend Muslims

    How exactly would you propose they make their views known?

    Good question. Let me give you a few.
    Organize a rally or anti-terror demonstration. This should be easy with the “large group of moderate, peaceful people denounce the views of a few radicals”.
    Make youtube videos of Muslim events where terrorism is denounced and tolerance it preached. You know, the kind of video that is antithesis to the Irvine video that Darius linked to.
    Make videos of Imams from Mosques across the country teaching against terrorism and promote tolerance.
    I think this would draw the attention of the media and if it does not, you can then show them all over the internet.

    Have you spoken to the Muslims you know or Muslim leaders in your community?

    I don’t know any Muslim leaders but I’ve worked with many Muslims before 9/11, so I’ve never asked them specifically about terrorism. My experience is that they are not radicals and my sense is that they would be ashamed of such violence. They are very nice people but with a general disapproval of U.S. policies toward the Middle East. They are not particularly patriotic to the U.S., but again no more than any other immigrant groups that I worked with, or for that matter some of the left wing groups in this country.

    However, this is anecdotal experience and I’ve never said that all Muslims are terrorists. The problem is that according to polling a large percentage (21%) thinks suicide bombings can be justified in the defense of Islam. And a huge majority of Muslims support the arrest and prosecution of those who “insult Islam.” Adding to all of these, we have the frequent suicide bombing and indiscriminate killings in the Middle East (and I am not talking just about Israel) of even civilians, where there is a huge majority (unlike the West) who thinks violence is totally justify within the beliefs of Islam. It seems that you want to put Muslims in a good light but based on the facts I just don’t see how you can justify your position. Maybe you need to come to terms that peace loving and tolerant Muslims are a minority.

    Which brings me back to the topic of the OP, what does McLaren hope to learn from his Muslim brothers and sisters?

  77. ex-preacher September 2, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    Care to prove your latest assertion, Darius?

    From the 2007 Pew Research survey of US. Muslims:

    Views of Al-Qaeda:
    Very unfavorable = 58%
    Somewhat unfavorable = 10%
    Favorable = 5%

  78. ex-preacher September 2, 2009 at 11:36 pm #

    From Gallup Poll:

    In the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, U.S. public officials seemed to have no idea whether or not many Muslims supported the bombings. This troubled Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton, who felt that “no one in Washington had any idea what 1.3 billion Muslims were thinking, and yet we were working on intricate strategies that were going to change the world for all time.” Clifton commissioned his company to undertake the enormous job.

    The result is “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think,” based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing 1.3 billion Muslims who reside in more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have sizable Muslim populations. Representing more than 90% of the world’s Muslim community, it makes this poll the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.

    What the data reveal and the authors illuminate may surprise you:

    Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable.

    Large majorities of Muslims would guarantee free speech if it were up to them to write a new constitution AND they say religious leaders should have no direct role in drafting that constitution.

    Muslims around the world say that what they LEAST admire about the West is its perceived moral decay and breakdown of traditional values — the same answers that Americans themselves give when asked this question.

    When asked about their dreams for the future, Muslims say they want better jobs and security, not conflict and violence.

    Muslims say the most important thing Westerners can do to improve relations with their societies is to change their negative views toward Muslims and respect Islam.

    The research suggests that conflict between Muslims and the West is NOT inevitable and, in fact, is more about policy than principles. “However,” caution Esposito and Mogahed, “until and unless decision makers listen directly to the people and gain an accurate understanding of this conflict, extremists on all sides will continue to gain ground.”

  79. ex-preacher September 2, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    145 Muslim organizations, mosques and imams endorsed a statement that includes the following text:

    “In the light of the teachings of the QurÓ’an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state:

    1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam.

    2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence.

    3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.”

    http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/fiqh_council_of_north_america_issues_fatwa_against_terrorism/

  80. ex-preacher September 3, 2009 at 12:12 am #

    From Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2007:

    “Muslim publics around the world
    increasingly reject suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets in the defense of Islam. Overall, majorities in 15 of 16 Muslim publics surveyed say that
    suicide bombings can be rarely or never justified.

    Fully 77% of Muslims in Indonesia – and nearly as many in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Tanzania – say that such tactics are never justified.”

    Suicide bombings are justified…
    Often Sometimes Rarely Never DK
    Middle East % % % % %
    Turkey 3 13 9 56 19
    Egypt 2 6 43 40 9
    Jordan 6 17 27 42 8
    Kuwait 9 12 7 69 4
    Lebanon 9 25 20 46 1
    Morocco 6 5 9 69 12
    Palest. 41 29 11 6 12

    Asia
    Pakistan 4 5 9 72 10
    Bangladesh 6 14 3 73 3
    Indonesia 3 7 13 77 2
    Malaysia 4 22 18 51 5

    Africa
    Ethiopia 5 13 13 60 9
    Mali 21 18 17 36 8
    Nigeria 10 32 11 39 8
    Senegal 5 13 15 63 4
    Tanzania 4 7 9 71 9

    http://pewglobal.org/reports/pdf/257.pdf

    (page 55 of report)

  81. Darius T September 3, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    EP, let me summarize that last poll:

    % of Muslims who sympathize with terrorism as legitimate:

    Turkey – 44%
    Egypt – 60
    Jordan – 58
    Kuwait – 31
    Lebanon – 54
    Morocco – 31
    Palestine – 94
    Pakistan – 28
    Bang. – 27
    Indonesia – 23
    Malaysia – 49
    Ethiopia – 40
    Mali – 64
    Nigeria – 61
    Senegal – 37
    Tanzania – 29

    Now consider that those countries represent nearly a billion people (of whom almost all are Muslim) and you get an idea of just how big a problem it is to fight Islamic terror when almost half of Muslims support it.

  82. DennyReader September 3, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    This will be my last comment to ex-preacher in this thread. (Hold the applause please.) I apologize for derailing this thread for so long. Unfortunately, when McLaren drag the Muslims into his universalistic utopian religion, he opened the door to this digression.

    ex-preacher,
    While I applaud the change in view toward Al Qaeda, I wonder what is the reason for this decline in favorability? e.g. In 2002, 38% of Pakistani Muslims said suicide bombing against civilians is justified. In 2007, only 18% said that it is justified. Did their theology changed in the past several years? i.e., When the Muslims called for the jihad with their suicide bombing a few years back, they justified it with the Quran. Now a few years later, they’ve come to the realization that the Quran did not support suicide bombing? I think that would be unlike. There is no evidence that widespread anti-violence teaching was being taught. On the other hand, there seems to be some inconsistency in these polls. For instance, Pakistan is supposed to have the least favorable view toward suicide bombing and Al Qaeda. They have refuse help from the U.S. to rout out Al Qaeda and have done very little on their own. One last thing about the respondent in the 2007 poll, 10% of the Pakistani Muslims responded with don’t know or refuse to answer. This is a sizable group that’s confused about Islamic tenets to kill or not to kill innocent civilians for the cause of Islam. Many of the other countries have a similar high percentage that responded with DK/Refused also.

    145 Muslim organizations, mosques and imams endorsed a statement that includes the following text:

    I counted 6 mosques out of how many mosques do you think there is in the U.S., 2,000? That would make it 0.3 of 1% of all the mosques in the U.S. have come out and signed this Fatwa. Or in terms of the ratio of Islamic organizations to mosques, it would be 7.25%. Don’t get me wrong I think this is great that Muslims are speaking out against extremism, but I hardly think that qualify as “Many Muslims have denounced terrorism”, do you?

    From the Pew report.
    “Question: Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?”

    Let me put the worst spin on this.
    Turkey 25% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Egypt 51% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Jordan 50% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Kuwait 28% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Lebannon 54% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Morocco 20% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Palest. ter. 81% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Pakistan 18% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Bangladesh 23% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Indonesia 23% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Malaysia 44% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Ethiopia 31% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Mali 56% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Nigeria 53% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Senegal 33% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).
    Tanzania 20% says is justified (often/sometimes/rarely combined).

    Again I welcome this drop from 2002 but why the change of heart? If you average out these percentages you still get 38% of Muslims who thinks that suicide bombing is justified. That’s almost 4 out of every 10 Muslims. It is not the majority I concede, but hardly a small percentage. And again, I wonder what the impetus for this change of heart is? Is it theological? I doubt it since there is no evidence of any large scale denunciation of violence from the Muslim leaders. My guess is that it is for political and public relations expediency.

    Finally while this change in tone is good, ultimately these countries need to back their rhetoric with actions and clamp down on all these violence and intolerance.

  83. Darius T September 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    Dennyreader, my summary was the worst spin on that poll, because I include anyone who “doesn’t know” if terrorism is okay as sympathizing with it. If you can’t figure out that terrorism is wrong…

  84. ex-preacher September 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    As far as the number of Muslims in the U.S. who condemn terrorism, may I remind you of that “just
    1% say that suicide bombings against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam; an additional 7% say suicide bombings
    are sometimes justified in these
    circumstances.”

    The fact that a certain percentage of mosques have signed a particular statement is about as relevant as counting up the number of churches that have signed a statement condemning killings of abortion doctors or the molestation of children by clergy.

    I still challenge either of you to prove the contention that 15-40% of Muslims in Western nations support terrorism.

    With regard to the killing of civilians, let’s not forget that the U.S., Britain and our allies intentionally killed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of civilians in the WWII bombings of Europe and Japan. Oh, that’s different, you say, because we were at war. Well, many Muslims believe that their countries have been unjustly invaded and occupied and that they are at war. I do not at all approve of the killing of civilians, but I do think we need to try to see things from a clear perspective.

    As far as the Global Attitudes Survey, I think the 2002 numbers may have reflected a groundswell of resentment and frustration at perceived injustices and aggression against Muslims. I can’t help but wonder how many Americans approved of the killing of enemy civilians in WW II. The 2007 numbers reflect a calming and maturing of thought.

    I think both of you are clearly spinning the numbers to your biases, but that’s to be expected. I would argue that it is much fairer to use the “often/sometimes” numbers as the “rarely” numbers probably reflect a “last option” mentality. Again, how many upstanding Americans would kill perceived enemy civilians in a desperate situation.

    It is also absurd to aggregate the percentages as you did and say that almost 4 of out 10 Muslims support terrorism. The reason is that these countries are of vastly different sizes.

    The regions that most strongly support suicide bombings – the Palestianian territories and Jordan – are among the smallest populated countries on earth. On the other hand, the largest Muslim countries in the world, Indonesia and Pakistan, have only 9-10% in the often/sometimes category.

    If you factor in the Muslim population of each country, you get a very different picture.

    population / Muslim pop. / %often/sometimes / number support terrorism

    Indonesia 228 / 196 / 10% / 20 million
    Pakistan 173 / 168 / 9% / 15 m.
    Bangladesh 162 / 144 / 20% / 29 m.
    Nigeria 146 / 73 / 42% / 31 m.
    Egypt 77 / 69 / 8% / 5.5 m.
    Turkey 72 / 72 / 16% / 11 m.
    Morocco 33 / 33 / 11% / 3.5 m.
    Malaysia 27 / 16 / 26% / 4 m.
    Mali 12 / 11 /39% / 4 m.
    Senegal 12 / 11 / 18% / 2 m.

    TOTAL 942/ 792 / 15.8% / 125 million

    The bottom line is that only 15.8% of the Muslims in the largest countries surveyed think suicide bombings are either often or sometimes justified.

  85. JesseBarnhart September 5, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    I agree, Darby. It sickens me when I hear people speak of Jesus “learning” from someone as if He were on that spiritual journey. This indeed speaks of a very wrong-headed view of the Lord.

  86. JesseBarnhart September 5, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    If many muslims have denounced terrorism why don’t they step up and do something to stop it? For the same reason that radical liberals in this country don’t denounce it – perhaps deep down they support it?

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