Yesterday I sent out a community update to those on my community e-distribution list, regarding a number of things happening in our local community that I have involvement with. One of which was an invitation passed to me by the Imam at our local mosque to attend their open day. One disapproving friend asked why I was doing this? I have made some small modifications to address typos and the wider context, and mindful that in the the past other Christian friends have expressed similar qualms, but this was my response …
Thank you for your email. I have no problem with you being direct. I am sorry my action may have left you confused and disturbed but, since you have asked questions, I will do my best to answer and, while I can’t guarantee it will make you less confused and disturbed, I will give it my best shot. I did not realize you had been a Muslim and I daresay that may have been a contributory factor, especially if you took my invite as trying to encourage you to return to something you have left and for good reasons don’t wish to return to.
To answer your two questions: insofar I can’t endorse anything that is not the truth, I am not and can not be an ecumenical supporter and, as for all roads leading to God, since Jesus said he is “The Way”, that can’t be true either. Moreover, Jesus is the Son of God, who died on the cross to atone for our sins, and rose victoriously from the dead, and “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). All these things are denied by Islam. We are called to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), and this is what I do when I can and as best I can. I have not knowingly given Muslim folk reason to think I believe anything other than this. Neither is my passing on this invitation an endorsement of Muslim beliefs. If I have an agenda, it is to lead people to Christ: Muslim, Christian and other.
I think the best way to allay your concerns is to explain how I come to be in a position that includes sending out proxy invites on behalf of my Muslim friends to non-Muslim folk to attend their open day, which from past experience I have found to be positive occasions. I became a Christian aged 15. Up to the time I left school (aged 18), I doubt if I had ever, at least knowingly, met a Muslim. Upon leaving school, I spent a month on an evangelistic crusade in France, with Operation Mobilisation. It was there I caught a vision for world mission, especially those that were “hard to reach”, which of course included Muslims. It so happened that when I went to university there were fellow students from all over the world, many of which were Muslim. I tried to convert them. I also tried to befriend them, an approach I saw as important at the time and now increasingly so.
After leaving university, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s before I got to meet many Muslims again, and that was because I started to get involved in community projects to help disadvantaged people – in the early days it was serving those experiencing mental health issues. I found unexpectedly that some of the support came from the local mosque (the one putting on the event you have drawn my attention to). While we were respectful of our differences religion wise, we also realized there were certain needs we could help address where religion was not an issue and some collaboration was helpful. In the years that followed, I got to know a number of those linked to the mosque, and have usually done so on a friendly basis.
The issue of Islam, its bearing on events around the world, its growing influence in the UK etc., is something we cannot ignore. Unlike our politicians and some “ecumenical” types, I am under no illusion as to the true nature of Islam (if you care to check out my blog, you will find I have posted on related matters a number of times). Equally, I have a great deal of respect for and affection toward our Muslim friends. While, like you, I regret our nation turning from its Christian heritage and feel beholden to call people back to truth that is in Bible (Old and New Testaments), I also believe there is a need to break down unnecessary barriers, show kindness to the foreigner and build understanding when we can. I felt by inviting folk along to this event might help toward this.
For these reasons, I can not apologise for passing on this invite, and hope you will understand better now why I did so.