Dr. S. Amjad Hussain is a good man with good intentions, good works, a retired surgeon, and my Muslim neighbor, though we've never met. I probably should take him some cookies.
He has a column in our local paper every other week. He once issued a New Year's mea culpa in his column because he had condoned the Taliban for imprisoning two missionary girls from Texas. But he still doesn't get it. His recent column against Christian evangelism can be read at the following link. Christians need to see this because his thinking against evangelicals who evangelize is becoming popular and the ACLU joins radical terrorists in their attitude toward Christians(another topic for another day.)
Dr. Hussain wrote “freedom of religion does not include freedom to convert others.” In that case, he denies constitutional freedom of religious expression and practice –because Christianity, by Jesus’ mandate, is to be preached to the world. Also, fundamentalist Muslims like the Taliban and Al Qaeda are quite willing to either convert others to Islam or kill them. They do consider Islam to be the only path to paradise. Granted, Muslims in general MAY do less proselytizing (I'm not sure of that), not because they don’t believe theirs is the only way, but perhaps because they love less and don’t care if we all make it to Allah's Paradise or not? —or maybe because Islam is too hard to sell, compared to the resurrected Christ who healed the lame, the blind and the lepers.
He is so off the mark in his mischaracterization of Christian missionaries and ministries who come with food in one hand and the Bible in the other. He sees this as sinister and thinks such missionary endeavor should be opposed, perhaps outlawed—as in Islamic nations. He says it is arrogant to believe that one’s religion is the only way to eternal salvation, though he surely knows that many Muslims believe this of Islam. He says Christians should spend their time trying to convert other Christians to their brand of the religion and leave the non-Christians alone. He doesn’t realize apparently, that Catholics DO try to persuade protestants to return to the Mother Church, and protestants try to make them see how unbiblical their church has become, but both groups often agree that the sincere on both sides have saving faith in Christ. Muslims could learn from the unity of Christians of "different brands," as he put it.
As for missionaries with Bible in one hand and food in the other, Jesus compels Christians to offer food for the body and the soul. We are not to ignore the physical needs of the world, bringing only the Good News of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Men dead from starvation cannot convert. Jesus fed the multitudes who came to hear him preach, by miraculously multiplying a boy’s simple lunch. According to research, western Christians are the biggest charity donors per capita and the reason is Jesus’ teachings that we MUST have compassion--that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, etc. we are doing it unto HIM. We ALSO preach the Gospel of Christ because He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no man comes to the Father except by me.” “Except a man be born again, He will in no way enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Compassion and Christ’s words, not arrogance, motivate ALL Christian ministry.
People who believe that Jesus was God incarnate, the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world so we may enter Heaven--these people are believing with child-like faith –not arrogance. Yes, they are SURE in what they believe; but don’t mistake surety for arrogance. Jesus said “Except you believe with the faith like a child’s, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
As Paul wrote, we "see through a glass darkly." So we humbly do not know everything there is to know about God, Creation, the universe, Jesus Himself, or even every detail of "right" doctrine –but we know that when we received Him, He changed us. We know He gives us a hunger for righteousness that motivates our charities. We know God the Father wants us to be like the Son, compassionate and forgiving. And we are also compelled to “preach the Gospel” –and Jesus said, especially preach it to the poor –probably because they are most in need of comfort and hope—and less arrogant and comfortable in their hedonism –and therefore less smug and more open to the Gospel than others.
The challenge for the first Jewish Christians was to preach to both Jews and Gentiles. Today, the mission is the same. It is to give opportunity to the world for conversion by free will after hearing the Word -- not by the sword, not by government edict, as in Islamic countries. “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.” So someone must preach that Word to the unbelievers so they may come to faith.
Dr. Hussain mistakenly thinks interfaith meetings are about equality of religious roads to Heaven. They should be about peaceful, friendly co-existance and co-ministries to the needy. They could logically include inter-faith dialogue about what we believe IS the way to Heaven—whether or not we agree. Tolerance and mutual respect are NOT agreement but getting along as friends despite disagreement. True love demands sharing our faith views if we believe our friends lack faith for Heaven.
About another Hussain point, the armed services (through the Department of Defense) have always allowed many missions to provide care packages of all kinds to our troops. The troops do not have to take these gifts or “convert” to get them. I don’t like the idea of a video game about Christians killing their enemies (in the care packages)–but most American Evangelical Christians do support the idea of “just wars” and the necessity of stopping tyrants and terrorists by force—in order to protect all our freedoms and civil rights. Many Christians have criticized this video game, but our soldiers really do see themselves as combating terrorists, beheaders, and suicide bombers who kill civilians. We really are in a battle against evil, not against the peace-loving, peace-making Muslims –but terrorists and tyrants.
What is worse to Dr. Hussain, proselytizing about the love and resurrection of Jesus and His promise of eternal life? Or kidnapping, terrorizing, and killing missionaries? He consistently condemns the missionaries, thus justifying the terrorists who persecute them. His occasional condemnation of Muslim terrorists is comparatively weak.
I challenge Dr. Hussain –again as before –to understand Christianity in a way he never has. He thinks Muslims are being demonized. On the contrary, peaceful, generous, sacrificing missionaries are being demonized by him. Instead of decrying the kidnapping of the Korean missionaries by Muslim extremists, he said, in effect, “Served them right!” --proving once again, as before, that he does NOT believe in freedom of religious expression, the right to preach to any who will listen, which is a fundamental aspect of religious freedom.
I think he wants desperately to believe that ALL religions take people to Heaven and therefore is not tolerant of disagreement on this point. That’s not what the Christian Bible teaches. God can make exception for the compassionate and kind people of other religions if He chooses to, but the New Testament says no one is that good –and thus, we need the Passover Lamb, Jesus, to atone for our sins. If Christ in his mercy wants to extend salvation to the man who rejects Him, He can as far as I’m concerned –but that’s not the promise. We can’t count on exceptions being made; we cannot change the covenant that comes from Christ’s blood shed on the cross for the remission of sins.
In America, Dr. Hussain is free to disagree and spread another gospel if he wishes –whether it be Islam or the fallacious, secular, PC gospel that “all roads lead to Rome.” But his condemnation of evangelical Christians is part of a groundswell of prejudicial and dangerous intolerance for people who do not terrorize, but do good while telling others about Jesus Christ, his teachings, miracles, and resurrection.
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible