Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Give me a Danish flag to burn

Hearing more about persecution in response to the Pope's remarks has made me want to blog about it again.

Suppose the Pope were to send all his snipers home, and, unarmed, were to enter a crowded public square in a country prone to the kinds of violent Islamist mobs you've seen on TV. He then says,
"Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.' Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, 'The righteous will live by faith.' The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, 'The man who does these things will live by them.' Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. ...

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
[Galatians 3:5-29]

The pope would then continue:
Now I have dedicated myself to the testimony that the promise to Abraham is properly understood as the gift of salvation offered as a free gift because of the suffering and death of the man Jesus Christ, who is also the second Person of the Trinity. All other works-based or law-based approaches to earning God's favor and salvation, including Islam, to the extent that they preach such merit-seeking by works of the law, are therfore inadequate. These other religious approaches to God may offer equally well a means for ordering a society as any other option, and I must distance myself from the mistaken and prejudicial generalizations offered against the practitioners of Islam, even by those holding this office before me. These other religions, however, will ultimately fail in the seeking of a salvation based by works.

You may jail me or beat me, but this is my witness. If you find yourself angry enough that you want to take my life, then, according to the Scriptures, you are my enemy. Therefore, acting in accord with these Scriptures, I ask you to speak to one of my associates afterwards and tell them of any hurts or needs you and your families may have so that they may pray for you and provide for your needs. I believe there are also many others across the world who share this faith. We seek to be your brothers in this gospel. "

I offer this commentary:

Now, where's a T-shirt I can get with that on it?

This gospel is not something defended by snipers, it does not involve broad-brush overstatements about the civility of whole peoples, it is not rooted in an apology for Western Civilization. It is foolishness to the World.

I also believe that if more Christians were able to take on such a brave, provocative, loving, and nonviolent witness to Muslims it would lead to more bloodshed of innocent Christians. More bloodshed in the short term, but longer-term peace and prosperity, and a thousandfold more converts from Islam, over the long term. Maybe even an improved national security stance for the United States of America. Can I live out such a witness? I don't know. I do know that I want to have no absolutely part in the knife-fight where some say, "We're all Danes now." Give me a white flag.

Does the bomb-throwing cartoons of Danish conservatives have anything to do with this Gospel? Not a thing. It harms our witness to it dearly. These provacateurs are merely the other side of the coin of the Islamofacist mobs.

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