Thursday, October 06, 2011

The United Church of Canada: Marching Towards Hudaybiyya

Earlier this week, I was able to sit in for a workshop between some Canadian Muslims (represented by Dr. Zijad Delic, formerly of the Canadian Islamic Congress) and Rev. Dr. Bruce Gregersen of the United Church of Canada. It wasn't a large workshop, as there were only 14 people in attendance. The topic of discussion at that workshop was a pair of documents: A Common Word Between Us and You, a document written by several Muslim leaders addressed to Christian leaders, and That We May Know Each Other, the UCC's official statement regarding their relations with the Muslim community. The workshop lasted for about two hours, and it was basically a mass of ecumenicism on both side, but especially on the United Church's side, since that has been their modus operandi for quite a while now. Aside from the rehashing of the UCC's repudiation of the "exclusivism" of traditional Christianity (which they are quite proud of, since it is the main mark of their "Progressivism"), one of the main things that stuck out for me was in the handout that they were giving out. In it was an excerpt from pages 32-33 of the UCC document, where they ask, "Can Christians Affirm Muhammad as a Prophet?" The answer,which should surprise nobody who is familiar with the UCC, is in the affirmative:
We believe that in this later context there certainly should be no difficulty in affirming Muhammad as a prophet. Any reading of his life reveals the extent to which he sought to overcome injustice and oppression and called people to obedience (and submission) to God. Christians should readily affirm Muhammad as a prophet of justice and obedience to God. It is, however, the former definition of a prophet as an “immediately-inspired spokesperson for God” that is the most challenging and perhaps the most difficult for Christians to address.
A number of well-known theologians have argued that it is possible for Christians to accept this understanding of the prophethood of Muhammad. Roman Catholic scholar Hans Küng suggests that Muhammad’s prophetic role originated not in his own mind but in divine revelation coming from God. He argues that New Testament scripture is open to the expectation of prophets after Jesus, provided their teaching is in basic agreement with his. The Qur’an, he suggests, recapitulates an original understanding of Jesus’ message lost in the early Hellenistic development of the Christian community. The church therefore needs to embrace Muhammad’s insights as a way of recovering this obscured history.

Protestant scholar Montgomery Watt considers Muhammad truly a prophet and that Christians should recognize this, since throughout history there have been many upright and saintly Muslims. Watt emphasizes primarily ethical principles in determining that Islam provides a satisfactory quality of life for individuals and communities and, therefore, as Islam can be judged “true,” so also can Muhammad be seen to be a prophet of God.
Of course, anybody who really takes the time to examine the teachings of Islam compared to Christianity knows that this is absurd on so many levels. If Muhammad's revelations spring from the same source as the biblical prophets, how are we to explain the fact that Sura 9:30 curses Christians for calling Jesus the son of God, when Matthew 16:15-17 states that Jesus called Simon Peter blessed for that very same confession? Besides, an examination of Muhammad's life shows that he was anything but spiritually reliable, and certainly no messenger of peace and justice. But hey, we shouldn't let the facts get in the way of ecumenical dialogue, right?

Aside from that, there were also various talking points that were brought up by both speakers.

Rev. Bruce Gregersen:
  • Pointed out that the United Church is the first denomination to ever affirm that "the Spirit of God is at work in many different faith communities." And no, that doesn't mean God is leading them to Christ, since they also state that "difference is everywhere around us and, we believe, a great cause for celebration" (Because the fact that billions of people around the world are stuck in spiritual darkness and lack Christ in their lives is a cause of celebration).
  • Has stated things like "Muslims and Christians worship the same God," and that "we can benefit from what Islam and Muslims have to say to us." You mean like the Pact of Umar?
  • Made reference to the Western Standard's printing of the Muhammad Cartoons, as well as the UCC's apology to the Canadian Islamic Congress, stating that "it was profoundly disrespectful to publish those cartoons," that the publishing of those cartoons was "an expression of hatred," and that the publishing of these cartoons "has huge implications in a world in which Muslims are being seen as an enemy."
  • Pointed out that the UCC document was the first study on the doctrine of the Trinity that the UCC has undertaken in thirty years. That just goes to show you how much importance this denomination places on doctrinal soundness. While they pay lip service to the Trinity, their understanding of the doctrine is shown in That We May Know Each Other to be less than solid (hint: They use it as a way of excusing their pluralism).
Dr. Zijad Delic:
  • Mentioned quite a bit about "love" and "peace." Of course, don't expect much of an attempt to link this back to what the Qur'an and Sunnah actually teach.
  • Hopes to "bridge the gap of misunderstanding... and show that I have no hidden agenda." Uh-huh.
  • Quotes a hadith that purportedly states that "Diversity is a mercy." Of course, let's not discuss the fact that the hadith in question is da'if (weak) and does not even talk about diversity among religions.
  • Says that he intends to send a copy of A Common Word and That We May Know Each Other to various mosques that will hopefully study them and draft similar statements. In doing so, he notes that since Islam has no centralized hierarchy, these documents do not have widespread influence. Of course... it'll be very hard to convince Muslims in more conservative parts of the Islamic world such as Saudi Arabia to embrace the statements contained in these documents, for obvious reasons.
  • Has stated that "Canada is more Islamic than any Muslim country, because it provides an atmosphere for growth and freedom." Those are Islamic values?
Aside from these talking points, I was able to dig up some interesting facts on our two speakers. Rev. Gregersen, it would seem, has spoken in favour of the idea of Israel being an occupying state (among other things). Also, Dr. Delic was, up until March 2011, a member of the Canadian Islamic Congress, which has a long history of promoting censorhip and extremism. He has even advocated the CIC's attempts to silence critics of Islam such as Mark Steyn on Maclean's via the (badly misnomered) Canadian Human Rights Commissions. I would say that the information herein should give everybody a pretty good idea of what exactly is going on here: The United Church of Canada has already signed its treaty of Hudaybiyya, and is well on its way to dhimmitude. Adding this to the UCC's long history of compromise and abandonment of the Gospel, Bible-believing Canadian Christians should be wary of this denomination and seek to avoid the kind of mistakes that have brought it to where it is now.

Finally, with regards to A Common Word, I would strongly advise everybody to read Sam Solomon's response to this document, as he carefully lays out its deceitful nature, as well as what its implications are for Christians. Islam seeks to exalt itself over every other religion (cf. Sura 9:33), and its adherents will use whatever means they have at their disposal to achieve that end, including cleverly disguised attempts at diplomacy.

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