By Charles Scriven
Perhaps the Koran can sharpen our awareness on these matters.
From Gane’s account, remember, you’d think God was schizophrenic. The Bible describes episodes of God-directed genocide, yet says that Jesus, the beloved Son in whom God was well-pleased, forgave his enemies and did no violence to them.
What to do?
Well, with Gane’s (and Davidson’s) flat-line view of the Bible’s authority, every bit and piece is God’s very truth, so the tension cannot be resolved—Gane seems to say he cannot resolve it—and God ends up divided.
George Packer, in the September 11 New Yorker, writes about Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, a scholar of the Koran who in 1985 was executed in Sudan for sedition and apostasy.
Taha had argued that the parts of the Koran revealed to Muhammad in Mecca, at the beginning, were the “supreme expression” of Islamic religion: suffused with kindness, the sense of freedom and equality, the ideal of peaceful coexistence of all with all. The later parts, revealed in Medina where Muhammad had established Islamic rule in a city full of Jews and pagans, were inferior: bristling with threats and the need for compulsion by the sword.
Although Taha’s vision is alive today, it is little heeded.
Is the problem exactly similar to the one that puzzles Gane?
Not if you pay attention to the…text. To my (very limited) knowledge, nothing in the Koran permits you to argue, on the basis of evidence internal to that book, that the final Islamic truth is the truth of Mecca, not Medina. But the internal evidence in scripture says that God’s final truth is Christ: if you have seen Jesus, says the New Testament in several ways and places, you have seen the Maker of heaven and earth.
The Word of God in scripture thus points us, unmistakably, to God’s Ultimate Word in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And God ceases to be divided.
Why should this be hard to see? And why should anyone who has faith in Christ resist seeing it?
Is anyone better able to advance this conversation than scholars and seminary professors? Considering genocidal violence today, is any conversation more important? We can all help, of course, but we need many of those who teach our children and our pastors to help, too. Can we not at last embrace, on this matter, a true dialogue of those concerned?
To read Roy Gane’s response, click here.
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I had a dream last night, a dream of General Conference Sessions past and future. I stood in the center of a stadium, packed with people, all captivated by the music and stagecraft in front of them. I looked around and felt a sadness that kept growing inside of me until it was overwhelming.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.