Menu of Dates, Comments & Responses
Allah or Jesus?
By Rick Mathes, Executive Director of Mission Gate Ministry
The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers. When it was my turn I directed my question to the Imam and asked: “Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?”
I responded, “So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to heaven. Is that correct?”
The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, “Yes.”
I then stated, “Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Pat Robertson or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to heaven!”
The Imam was speechless.
I continued, “I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to heaven and he wants you to be with me?”
You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.
Chuck Colson once told me something that has sustained me these 20 years of prison ministry. He said to me, “Rick, remember that the truth will prevail.”
Same day replies:
1. Do you know if this is “real” or one of those apocryphal
2. Dear Rick and other staff at Mission Gate Ministry,
Every blessing on your work seeking to win inmates to the reconciler, Jesus Christ. I just received this email from a pastor friend and was glad for your zeal to share your faith with a Muslim. However I do have a bit of a concern regarding the “shame” this man was put under when he was publicly viewed as ‘a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.’ My concern is, were you trying to win that man to the loving Lord Jesus Christ or to expose Islam? Were you seeking to win this man to Christ or just shame him and his religion before many others and then brag about it in a newsletter? Since our message is one of Jesus the friend of sinners, what about this man caught in the deception of Islam? Truth will win out, yes, but “righteousness and mercy will kiss each other” too. Truth is not a club it is a tool to draw to the Savior. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. I beg you, please do not take cheap shots at the expense of winning one to Jesus. In the newsletter you said nothing about what the Imam had to say about Islam, you only showed how you set him up for a knockout punch, shaming him in the process.
I have lived and ministered among Muslims for the past 25 years and I am ashamed that I have exposed Islam too many times and loved Muslims too little. They need to experience the reconciliation to God Jesus Christ offers. Are we driving them further away or drawing them to Christ? What is your relationship with this Imam now? Have you invited him into your home to meet your family? Have you shown the love you have talked about? I know you have done this many times with the inmates you minister among. What about this Imam?
Again, every blessing in your service to the Master in seeking to minister among those imprisoned by their sins and the bars of hatred or religious systems.
Regional Partnering Advisor
3. Hi Tim!
Clearly, this imam had been “caught with his hand in the cookie jar” of contradiction. And there is no question that there are those in Islam that advocate a form of jihad that promotes the killing of “infidels”, much as there are those within evangelical Christianity who advocate the bombing of abortion clinics and the assassination of abortion doctors. And Rick, through the wording of his question, acknowledges that not all imams have declared such a jihad. The concept of jihad understood and practiced by the vast majority of Muslims is either 1) a struggle against sin in their own lives, or 2) a struggle against sin in their community. Compare to the Christian who battles 1) thoughts of anger within his heart, which Jesus equated with committing murder, or 2) the Christian who marches or holds up a sign in protest of abortion as murder. The abhorrent acts and inflammatory rhetoric of the extremist should not be allowed to define the belief or commitments of the typical follower. Do we want to judge Christ and all Christians for all time by the image the various Crusaders presented of the Christ they were following as they sacked Orthodox Constantinople on their way to rape, pillage and burn in the Holy Land?
In all due respect, although Rick may have won the battle on that day, it is likely that he lost the war. He may have scored points against the imam and put him to shame with his sharp rhetoric based in stark truth. But I question whether there is any door remaining open to a productive dialogue that could move this imam, a man for whom Christ shed His blood, toward recognition of his arrogance and sin, and wrong view of God, and eventual repentance and salvation through Jesus. It is likely that the public ridicule and shame of that exchange may harden his heart further, and confirm for him the justification of this extreme form of jihad.
While I applaud his apologetic fervor, and commitment to the truth, I’m saddened by the contradiction of Jesus’ command to love our enemies, which Rick cited, with his triumphant tone and “counting coup” over the imam.
(The contrast between the Allah who commands murder of non-believers and the Jesus who commands love of enemies was clever. Note that it is the imams who command murder in the name of Allah, not Allah himself, who speaking in the Qur’an considers Christians and Jews to be People of the Book, and especially consider “...you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe (to be) those who say: We are Christians...” Surah 5:82. In the words of Pastor Fouad Accad, who died in 1994: “As I’ve studied the Qur’an for thirty years, I’ve found it overwhelmingly pro-Christ, pro-Christian, and pro-Bible.”
As always, we can continue the debate later! I always enjoy your communications, Tim. Thanks for sharing them!
4. Brethren – All.
In the spirit of brotherly love and harmony, I submit the following letter to the both of you with my own incidental observation: Elijah on Mt. Carmel, when the 400 prophets of Baal were attempting to call down fire from heaven, and Elijah mocked them and their deity, then after demonstrating Who the true God is, slaughtered the lot of them. I’ve always personally taken that as a manifestation of the proverb: If something is ridiculous it is deserving of ridicule.
Christ also said and did several other things, admittedly only to the proponents of religion, or the self-righteous, which clearly fell outside the realm of being either politically correct, or loving (as we’ve heard it defined). I respect the both of you, and you each know it. I’m not calling what either of you have said into serious question as much as I’m still working it through in my own mind. I know and love some dear Muslim friends, but I don’t sit still for them telling me we worship the same God, as President Bush did this week. See inset, but I still feel that bona fide truth is in and of itself narrow, judgmental and totally inflexible. We may love the sinner and hate the sin, and while having said that, I feel the occasional need to let someone know that while I love them, they may not continue in sin while simultaneously claiming faith in Jesus Christ. Not that sinless perfection is the order of the day, for our perfection is resident in Jesus Christ, as is our eternal life and righteousness. I do think, that like Christ said to the woman taken in adultery, “Go and sin no more,” he meant precisely that. I don’t believe that she ever again committed adultery. I’ve known pagans who have made that decision. Of course the deeper issue is of the heart.
Your feedback is requested. Were either of you to meet and learn to know Bill Tidwell, you’d love him as a brother in Christ, without hesitation.
Yours, In Christ,
I appreciate the thoughtful responses of the two ministers here. Frankly, I have difficulty seeing clearly the line of distinction between hating the sin and loving the sinner with respect to Islam. I am committed to doing both, but it is a difficult endeavor. This is probably because I am ignorant of anything but the basics of Islam and am suspicious of anyone and everyone claiming to have the definitive answer as to Mohammad’s attitude toward the “People of the Book”. I am now and will remain willing to be instructed.
We live in an era when, in many if not most ecclesiastical circles, it has become verboten to declare anyone’s beliefs or attitudes on anything to be wrong. All attitudes are to be considered as having equal merit if for no other reason than they are treasured by someone somewhere. Accompanying this attitude is the belief that verbally confronting someone and possibly hurting their feelings is the moral equivalent to shooting them between the eyes. I must assume that both Stephen and Ron would also disapprove of the following examples of discourse with one’s doctrinal opponents (please excuse the paraphrasing):
) “You brood of vipers”
) “The tax collectors and prostitutes will get into Heaven before you”
) “You swallow a camel and strain at a gnat”
) “Sell your belongings and give the money to the poor” (this must have been very alienating to the rich young ruler)
“The men of
Or, to your closest companions:
) “Get behind me Satan”
In Matthew 7, I find it curious that the words below immediately follow Jesus’ teachings on judging others:
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces.
Given the current, popular attitudes on judging, I am at a loss to explain the apparently inappropriate positioning of these diametrically opposing concepts essentially within the same breath, by our Savior. Could it be that we haven’t a clue as to the Biblical concept of judging?
I would respectfully submit the following question to Stephen and Ron: What system or methodology would you suggest that Christians employ that would enable them to accurately determine who are the “dogs” and “swine” mentioned in Matthew 7: 6?
His Servant and Yours,
Rick Mathes wrote and confirmed that this was his experience and writing . . .
Thanks for your word about the prophet. My response would be, the prophet was going against the flow not with it. He was the only person, to his knowledge, calling out to God. He ridiculed the others when they were in a position of strength and he was being faithful to God. When our brother confronted the Imam, this Imam was in the minority and then our brother seems to have bragged about his prowess to his constituency. My feeling is he was playing to the home court not trying to win back people who had erred from their ways. I may be wrong in that perception.
If the Imam was enabled to come to the very conclusion himself which our friend told him without being humiliated in front of a, most probably, hostile crowd, he may have become genuine fruit. I do not know what relationship Rick had with the Imam and may still have, but I sensed a disconnect between the message Rick gave and the way he presented it. The prophet was rebuking his own people, God’s people for straying from Him. Rick seemed to be attacking the Imam for serving a false God, when the Imam had no other frame of reference. Jesus seems to have been much harsher on his own religious leaders than on those seen as outside or “sinners” among the people of God. It seems, Jesus (and Elijah) used rebuke for insiders and welcome for “outsiders”. The Imam is an outsider in terms of relationship to Jesus. How do we relate to outsiders to win them?
Again, thanks so much for keeping this dialogue going.
My apologies, I only read your comments after I responded to Tim. My response would still be the same, “Who is the audience?” The representatives of the God of the Bible were Lording it over the people of God and Jesus rebuked them. He had a personal relationship with Peter and rebuked him. The rich young ruler was a powerful man in his day. What Jesus said to him was in love and genuine concern for his misplaced priorities, not to somehow get a notch on His Torah. Rebuke is for family and friends. If the person is not part of the family with no thread of relationship or interest, rebuke may serve to alienate. The truth is the truth, it must be proclaimed and lived, but what aspects of the truth is for whom? I do not think either Ron or I are advocating compromise on the truth of the Gospel and the Word of God we are saying, “How should it be applied?”
With the pearls before swine analogy, I get the feeling the message of the good news of Jesus seeking out the lost and seeking to draw the Muslim to Himself was presented by Rick in such a way as to show this Imam up. The message and the attitude of the messenger did not seem to match up in my mind. I may be wrong. I have not received any response from Rick to let me know what he was aiming for. If he was seeking to win this Imam to Christ and wanted him to hear of the love of Christ, jar him out of his complacency with this message, then great and especially if he sought to continue the relationship with the Imam to seek to bring him to a saving relationship to Christ, I will say my perceptions were off base. But my perception is Rick was playing the role of a prophet to the Imam with a message of evangelism. Earn the right of relationship before rebuking and do not rebuke with the message of grace unless you are calling believers back to the Gospel (as in Galatians).
Thanks for listening,
TIM – This discussion of
various view points of Islam is becoming quite interesting. Since it
seems that it may continue, I have begun, with this latest from “Pam,” to save
them. However, I have not saved the one that started it all or the
first couple of responses that were sent afterward. Do you still have
those available? If so, can you send them to me again? Many thanks.
Steve, (From Bill Tidwell and copied to me.)
Your thoughtful response is appreciated.
It seems that the substance of your concern for Rick’s dialog with the Imam is focused on Rick’s attitude instead of his actions. If I am reading you accurately, you have no problems with Rick’s approach to the Imam, if his (Rick’s) attitude and intentions were, shall we say, evangelical. I do not know Rick and, to be honest, haven’t a clue as to what his attitudes were then.
One additional point – as I grow older in my walk with God I am becoming more and more amazed and awed by Jesus’ ability to execute to perfection the skill of being as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. Not only did Jesus handle his adversaries using this model, but He handled adversarial situations this way as well. I find that I am fascinated by his ability to speak and listen in perfect proportion and propriety. On some occasions He spoke softly and caringly and on others harshly and accusingly. Not one single word ever left His lips under the influence of hate, inappropriate anger, defensiveness, cowardice or insecurity. Jesus spent not one ounce of energy trying to be somebody (or more accurately avoiding being nobody). He had no interest in politics. He feared nothing. He had no personal deficiencies for which He was continually trying to compensate. He had none of the things that far too often affect my words and the intentions behind them. For me, a thoughtful consideration of these facts leads me to a profound appreciation of Jesus’ ability to manage His discourse and demeanor in all of His interpersonal relationships.
Not only did Jesus model the serpent-and-dove relationship model, but He commanded us to do the same. It seems to me that not only is this a lost skill, these days it is not even a sought-after skill.
I think I understand your position and the reason for your concern over Rick’s attitude as it relates to his dialog with the Imam. I agree that the ultimate passion should be for the eternal welfare of the Imam. I don’t have your degree of concern over Rick’s rebuke of the Imam as a bad or even inappropriate thing. In this case I am seeking to find the appropriate proportion and application of the serpent-and-dove model. And as I said in my first email, I am suspicious of my own motives and remain anxious to be instructed – even rebuked. J)
Steve – thanks for the quality dialog.
His Servant and Yours,
I have been enjoying the Islam articles you have forwarded. My nephew, Andrew, is in
It is good to hear from you through your e-mails.
Beth Schultz (Friends of ours from Marin Covenant Days together . . . )
I have read all the e-mail regarding the subject and still feel there isn’t a series of quotes from the Qur’an to support the statements that the Qur’an orders followers to kill infidels. Is that information being sent, or is the story really just about “one Imam?”
My studies have led me to believe that while many (most?) clerics of Islam DO encourage (and even order) the holy war against infidels, that concept is not supported by scripture from the Qur’an – QUITE the OPPOSITE!
So, is the author going to support his claims or adjust his story to cover just this Imam?
The Koran teaches that Jesus was not killed as the Jews claim but was resuscitated. They don’t believe he died and they don’t believe he was resurrected. (The new testament teaches the exact opposite. The death and resurrection of Messiah are the central teaching of the New Testament. This is the Gospel.) The following was copied from an Islamic website with quotes and explanation of the Koran.
SHAIKH AHMED DEEDAT: (JESUS WAS ALIVE!)
Shaikh Ahmed Deedat – a well respected Islamic scholar from South Africa, who has delivered numerous lectures in dozens of countries on this hypersensitive subject, wrote in chapter 18 entitled, ‘NONE SO BLIND...’ of his publication ‘Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction?’ the followings: (350,000 copies of this booklet were distributed between 1984 and 1990).
TAKE STOCK. THE TRUTH SHINES THROUGH
Let me give a quick summary of the points we have discussed so far, concluding the Jesus was neither killed nor was he crucified, as alleged by the Christians and the Jews, but that he was ALIVE!
1. JESUS WAS RELUCTANT TO DIE! He had worked out a strategy of defense to repel the Jews. Because he wanted to remain ALIVE!
2. HE BESEECHED GOD FOR HELP. With strong crying and tears for God Almighty to keep him ALIVE!
3. GOD “HEARD” HIS PRAYERS. Which means that God accepted his prayers to keep him ALIVE!
4. AN ANGEL OF GOD CAME TO STRENGTHEN HIM: In the hope and belief that God will save him ALIVE!
5. PILATE FINDS JESUS NOT GUILTY! Good reason to keep Jesus ALIVE!
6. PILATE’S WIFE SHOWN A DREAM IN WHICH SHE WAS TOLD THAT – “No harm should come to this just man.” In other words that he should be saved ALIVE!
7. SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE CROSS FOR ONLY THREE HOURS. According to the system in vogue, no man could die by crucifixion in so short a time which means that even if he was fastened to the cross – he was ALIVE!
8. THE OTHER TWO – HIS “CROSS MATES” ON THEIR RESPECTIVE CROSSES WERE ALIVE! So Jesus too, for the same period of time must be ALIVE!
9. ENCYCLOPEDIA BIBLICA UNDER ARTICLE “CROSS” – COLUMN 960: Says that when the spear was thrust – Jesus was ALIVE!
10. “FORTHWITH” CAME THERE OUT BLOOD ANDWATER: “Forthwith” means straightaway, immediately which was a sure sign that Jesus was ALIVE!
11. LEGS NOT BROKEN – AS A FULFILMENT OF PROPHECY. “Legs” can be of any use only if Jesus was ALIVE!
12. THUNDERSTORM, EARTHQUAKE
13. JEWS DOUBTED HIS DEATH: They suspected that he had escaped death on the cross – that he was ALIVE!
14. PILATE “MARVELS” TO
15. BIG ROOMY CHAMBER: Close at hand, and airy for willing hands to come to the rescue.
17. REPORT ON WINDING SHEETS. German scientists who carried out experiments on the “Shroud of
18. EVER IN DISGUISE! Disguise not necessary if Jesus was “resurrected”. Only necessary if he was ALIVE!
20 “NOT YET ASCENDED UNTO MY FATHER” In the language of the Jews, in the idiom of the Jews, he was saying, “I am not dead yet”, in other words, “I am ALIVE!”
22. DISCIPLES PETRIFIED ON SEEING JESUS IN THE UPPER-
24. NEVER SHOWED HIMSELF TO HIS ENEMIES. Because he had escaped death by the “skin of his teeth”. He was ALIVE!
25. TOOK ONLY SHORT TRIPS. Because he was not resurrected, not spiritualised, but ALIVE!
26. TESTIMONY OF MEN AROUND THE TOMB. “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” – (Luke 24:4-5): That he is not dead, but ALIVE!
27. TESTIMONY OF ANGELS: “...angels who had said that he was ALIVE! – Luke 24:23. Did not say, “resurrected” but the actual word uttered by the angels was “ALIVE!”
29. DR. PRIMROSE TESTIFIES: That the “water and the blood”, when Jesus was lanced on the side, was on account of an upset in the nervous vessels because of the scourging by staves. Which was a sure sign that Jesus was ALIVE!
These thirty points and many
more arguments are fully expounded in this booklet ‘Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction?’.
In February 1985, following the publication of the above booklet ‘Crucifixion of Cruci-fiction?’ (First Print: 100,000 in March 1984), an Appeal was filed before the Publication’s Appeal Board, in Pretoria,
The Publication’s Appeal Board, chaired by Prof. Kobus van Rooyen, consisted of two Reverends and five other Christians. The publisher – Islamic Propagation Centre (IPC) International,
By the Grace of Allah, the defenders (Muslims), were able to convince the Appeal Board that they were propagating the Truth, flowing from their religious convictions, that they were entitled to and under duty to propagate the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, which scripture clearly states:
And they (Jews) said (in boast),
”We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary,
the Messenger of God”:
But they killed him not, nor crucified him,
but it was made to appear to them so,
and those who differ therein are full of doubts
with no (certain) knowledge,
but they follow only conjecture.
For a surety they (Jews) killed him not.
Holy Qur’an 4:157
thus, the booklet was not intended to ridicule the Christian faith, but rather to pass on the True Message as the Muslims are exhorted to do in the Holy Qur’an. ---Al-Hamdul’llah, (Praise be to Allah), the defender’s submission was upheld and the Directorate’s Appeal was set aside.
A THOUGHT PROVOKING
Data: 1. The term “resurrection”.
It comes from the Greek word;
It literally means; a standing up again.
2. The verb “crucify”.
“Put to death by fastening to a cross”.
The Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language:
“To put to death by fastening or nailing to a cross”.
A thought provoking question:
Imagine a prosecuted individual is sentenced to die by hanging. He is “hanged” from a rope by his executioners. For one reason or other he survives the hanging, wakes up the next day and walks away unnoticed by his prosecutors and executioners. He appears before his friends and family members and eats with them. Thereafter, he walks away to a distant place and was never to be seen by his prosecutors.
What would be correct to say; a or b?
a) He was “hanged” by his executioners.
b) It so appeared to them (the persecutors and executors), that he was “hanged”, but in reality he was “not hanged”.
I am amazed that I have received so many responses to this article. I was truly inquiring as to how the Imam would respond and fully expected him to give me an apology of his peaceful interpretation of the Koran. I think he was just inexperienced and caught off guard. I purposely didn’t make any further comments in the article because I wanted it to do just what it is doing. It is provoking both the Christians and the Muslims to face the truth. Thanks for your continued interest. I pray that this will glorify the Lord.
from retired pastor and wife friends in
Input of today,
from Joe Miller, whom
On Dec 2
”....Kill those who join other gods with Allah wherever you find them; besiege them, seize them, lay in wait for them with every kind of ambush....”(Sura 9:5).
”When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them....”(Sura 47:4).
”....Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in Allah, or in the Last Day, and who forbid not what Allah and His Apostle have forbidden....until they pay tribute...” (Sura 9:29).
”Say to the infidels: If they desist, what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they return, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it Allah’s.” (Sura 8:39).
”Proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject faith.” (Sura 9:3).
4th Input of today, from
Kathi Craig, missionary with her husband, Steve Craig, to
to let you know Ahmad Deedat belongs to an extremist
sect by the name of Ahmadiyas. They believe Jesus
ended up in
Hi Tim -
Thought I would pass along a book that is short and easy to read: A Christian's Response to Islam,
by James L. Garlow (www.jimgarlow.com/).
I found the book helpful in understanding the background of Islam, including quite a bit of history that I think would be helpful to any Christian wanting to know more. Included are a number of "scriptural" Islam references showing the scriptural basis of "jihad", or the "holy war" against the "infidels" (anyone who doesn't believe the same as they do!?).
The vital conclusion of this book is that we as Christians are called to LOVE, and that is the one key in "evangelizing" techniques. It's a hard balance exposing "false teachings" while still loving those who hold fast to those misguided beliefs - how we as Christians respond will truly shape our world, and will be the determining factor for many who will "know us by our love" and be saved, or be turned away by our judgment (or lack thereof).
Dave (friend and colleague)
This is good. I think it is very important for Christians to understand the difference between Islam and Christianity, to be able to defend our faith.
Carolyn (a sister In Christ, from high school days
TO WHOM IT
Greetings in the Spirit of our Lord!
This article is an exact reporting of a real event I participated in.
Regarding the Snopes "false" report:
1. Mr. Kniest was not at the training session to know what did or did not occur. And what would you expect him to say for fear of Muslim retribution.
2. The official that said this conversation did not happen remains "unnamed" and why doesn't someone ask the dozen or so volunteers about it. They heard every word.
3. The inmate was introduced as the Muslim Imam that was chosen by the fellow Muslims to lead them and chosen by the Department of Corrections to teach us We had no reason to question it because there are Priests and Ministers in prison that do the same.
4. I prefaced my remarks with, "Please correct me if I am wrong," and he didn't.
5. When I said, "It is real hard to be your friend," everyone burst out laughing.
6. We felt sorry for him and I gave him a hand sign and said, "Salaam" and he did the same back to me with a smile.
I asked questions and recorded the answers or lack thereof. Socrates did the same but I am not into drinking hemlock.
The false report issued by Snopes does not question my reporting but my major premise and they base it on the word of Muslims clerics that can't even agree on what a "jihad" is.
The article is not the issue the issue is the issue:
Would you rather have an Allah who says to kill me to go to heaven or a Jesus who says for me to love you because I am going to heaven and He would like you to be with me?
Isn't it interesting that NO
I hope this clears up things for you.
"Turning lives from crime to Christ!"