Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Christians in England and their views of Islam: clash of opinions

The following statement is issued by
Sam Soloman, Patrick Sookhdeo and Dennis Wrigley

3 March 2009
A number of accusations have been circulating in the media about Sam Soloman, Patrick Sookhdeo and the Maranatha Community, the movement which Dennis Wrigley heads.

Some of the accusations apparently have arisen in regard to discussions held at a closed meeting convened last July, which, among other issues, discussed a perceived growth of fear of Islam and Muslims felt among Christians in the UK. Some attributed this fear to aggressive teaching by Christians concerning negative aspects of Islam and advocated promoting an alternative approach. The majority of those who attended the meeting advocated maintaining a variety of approaches, which included ones that are openly critical of Islam. We would like to state clearly that we recognize that any individuals that were advocating limiting criticism of Islam were speaking their own opinions and were not following any official policy of CRIB (Christian Responses to Islam in Britain) or of Global Connections.

We are living in a context of growing polarization of the Christian community in the UK. Even figures such as Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Baroness Caroline Cox are now considered by some Christians to be extremists because of their frank statements on Islam. We are living in a context of increasing hostility towards Christians both from secular society and from Islam. A key evangelist was threatened in public by a Muslim with a gun a week ago. A Christian leader who speaks out on Islam in Britain has received death threats. Another who writes widely on Islam had his offices burgled, apparently by Muslim extremists. In the light of this we would like to state the following:

All Christians are called to love Muslim people and to relate to them in a gracious and loving manner.
Yet Christians should still address the issue of Islam as a faith and ideology.
While most Muslims in the UK are decent individuals, the issue of political Islam nevertheless poses serious and urgent challenges to British society as well as the Church in the UK and her mission.
We want to alert non-Muslims to the aspects of Islam which pose such a challenge to our Judaeo-Christian heritage and to the Church today, both in the UK and around the world.
We recognize that there are a variety of methodologies amongst Christians for responding to Islam.
All of us making this statement have been involved in peace-making efforts with Muslims.
We believe it is essential that Muslims hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and come to a saving knowledge of Him.

We pray for peace and unity within the Body of Christ in these difficult days, with the Church facing so many challenges and potential dangers that could damage vital and important Christian work at home and overseas.

This statement is also endorsed by Keith Small who attended the closed meeting, and Jay Smith a member of the National and London CRIB committees.


shaw said...

Help us to understand the purpose behind this statement: "We want to alert non-Muslims to the aspects of Islam which pose such a challenge to our Judaeo-Christian heritage and to the Church today, both in the UK and around the world."

These "non-Muslims" who need the alerting are probably also non-Christians. Are we better off with non-Muslim non-Christians than Muslim non-Christians?

John Stringer said...

I guess with non-Muslims they mean mostly Christians - as Barnabas Fund thinks that Christians in the UK are asleep?

As regards your question - If I may choose in what country to live, I guess I'd rather live in a secular UK than in an Islamic UK.