I am astonished at how many evangelicals think that it is okay to observe a Ramadan fast with Muslims. Christianity Today has published remarks from ten evangelicals, five (or perhaps seven) of which think that it’s okay to fast with Muslims during Ramadan. Douglas Wilson is the last of the ten, and he sounds the clearest note against such a practice. He writes:
“It is not appropriate to fast alongside Muslims. I wouldn’t make a point, if I were in a heavily Muslim state where everybody is fasting during the day, of fixing a hot dog and walking outside and eating it â€¦ but to observe Ramadan along with your Muslim neighbors and friends, letting them know that you’re observing Ramadan as an act of some sort of religious or spiritual solidarity, is simply a fundamental compromise. They’re observing Ramadan in the service of a false God and a false gospel, and we shouldn’t be trying to express our solidarity with that.”
I wrote about this topic last August when Brian McLaren announced that he would be observing a Ramadan fast this year. I said then, and I reiterate now that such a fast is a total compromise of the gospel. Christians like Richard Mouw and Brian McLaren who are observing a fast during Ramadan offer the most theologically vacuous reasons for doing so. In fact they sound as if they have no real understanding what the Bible teaches about fasting.
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.
Unfortunately, gobbledy-goop is all that we get from at least seven of the evangelicals in the CT piece. What a sad commentary on the state of evangelical piety.