I stumbled across an article today with the title “Pope Francis Embraces Chrislam And Lays A Foundation For A One World Religion”. It made several interesting observations concerning the Pope’s visit to America and included the point: “In recent years, the theory that Christianity and Islam are just two distinct paths to God among many others has rapidly gained traction all over the planet. Some religious leaders have even gone so far as to try to merge Islamic and Christian practices, and the term “Chrislam” is now often used to describe this ecumenical movement.”
Without necessarily endorsing or otherwise the article, which makes a number of assertions which need to be checked out, it is an interesting one from a number of perspectives:
- It articulates a concern of a minority yet still significant section of the church and which is one I am familiar with.
- It provides a timely warning to guard against a development that might take the church further down the road to error.
- It asks questions regarding the current Pope, who has gained much support from unlikely quarters, especially when he has sought to reach out to the poor and to minorities.
I realize it is a subject that needs to be handled delicately, yet one that cannot be ignored. As some know, I grew up in and was influenced by (in my earlier years especially) a fundamentalist leaning church that was deeply suspicious of and antagonistic toward Roman Catholicism and Islam. As far as my early mentors were concerned, the Catholic church was in error and to be avoided as it would lead people astray from the truth. As far as Islam goes, this was a false religion because it denied such important doctrines as the diety of Christ and his atoning sacrifice upon the cross and introduced teachings that contradicted what was in the Bible.
In the intervening years, I have come to recognize there are many Catholics who truly love Christ and have a better relationship with him than I do. I have also been impressed with the current Pope, especially as he speaks out on social justice matters, and have said so in some of my writings. As for Muslims, a number I regard as friends, whose sincerity when it comes to practicing their religion and the good deeds their religion helps inspire I do not doubt, and may even commend. I also find myself these days frequently rubbing shoulders with Muslim folk and do so as part of my contribution to promote community cohesion and better understanding.
Some of my fundamentalist friends would take the view I have lost the plot because of compromise by hobnobbing with the “enemy” and straying from the truth because I listen to and engage with such folk, at least when it comes to the subject of religion. But there comes a big BUT that means I find myself sometimes walking a lonely path. The BUT is that some of the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, e.g. imposing conditions on salvation over and above the need to trust Christ and his finished work on the cross, are erroneous. As for Islam, given it denies fundamental truth, like Christ, God incarnate, dying on the cross to save us sinners, it has to be regarded as a false religion and despite some of its nobler teachings is likely to lead one away from the truth path. My focus has to be on Christ and preaching his gospel, pointing people to the one who claimed that he is “THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life”.
I am also mindful, as we survey current events, how enticing it is for some, especially fundamentalist types, to reflect, understandably, we are living in the last days and feel at odds with the culture at large. Indeed the Bible teaches this is to be expected and reminds us that, as the world as we know it draws to its end, the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, will return to earth in glory. Jesus taught that the path that leads to life is a narrow one, as opposed to the broad path that leads to destruction and that in the last days many will be deceived by false teaching. Some will argue that the Bible also talks about a popular one world apostate “church”, that will be in collusion with the one world dictator, the Antichrist, and which will be opposed to Israel and will be at odds with the true Church, whose adherents will be in a minority and who will suffer persecution.
As for me, I read such articles as cited above and follow world events, including what the Pope says and does, with interest. Some of what he says and does is right, including trying to reach out to non-Christians and being a voice for the voiceless. Yet given truth is what ultimately matters, and some of the teaching of this supposed “Chrislam religion” does not pertain to the truth, I am concerned. I am mindful of some words quoted from Billy Graham recently: “turn to the last page of the Bible and note that God wins in the end” and realise my need is to be on the winning side, i.e. God’s, even though the cause and principles this side champions may not be popular and right up to the end all the odds seem stacked against it.