Messianic Muslims?
15 August 2010
Today's article is the second in a four-part series, continued from yesterday's article, A Mentally Ill God?. You will definitely want to read that article before proceeding here.
As in part one of this series, I will be referencing the article entitled When God's Kingdom Grows Like Yeast: Frequently-Asked Questions About Jesus Movements Within Muslim Communities which appeared in the July-August 2010 issue of Mission Frontiers magazine.
The topic for discussion in that article is "Insider Movements" among Muslims, sometimes referred to as "Messianic Muslims", or C-5 on the C-1 to C-6 Spectrum of Contextualization. As stated in the C-5 definition, "These followers of Isa [Yeshua, Jesus] remain legally and socially within the community of Islam, referring to themselves as Muslims and they are, in fact, regarded by the Muslim community as Muslims. Features of Islamic theology which are clearly incompatible with Biblical faith are rejected or cleverly reinterpreted if possible."
In sections 3 and 5 of the Mission Frontiers article it says:
Numbers of adherents of the world's major religions are turning to Jesus, some of them sensing no call of God to leave the religious community of their birth. For example, some Jews have accepted Jesus as Messiah, while retaining their Jewish socio-religious identity. A similar trend is happening among some Muslims who have become sincere followers of Jesus and the Bible, and have remained within their own religious community, without joining a branch of the traditional Christian community.
Jews who follow Jesus affirm that Yeshua is the Messiah and Savior of the world, and that the New Testament is the Word of God. They interpret the traditional 18 Jewish prayers in ways compatible with their belief that Jesus is the Messiah, and celebrate traditional Jewish holidays in light of New Testament understanding. A similar process is happening among Jesus-following Muslims. Born-again Muslims fully believe in the bodily death and resurrection of Jesus (Isa) and affirm the authority of the Bible as the Word of God. Similar to Yeshua-following Jews who celebrate Hanukkah, many Jesus-following Muslims keep the Ramadan fast and daily prayers, yet interpret their meaning in a way compatible with their faith in Jesus.
While this comparison between Messianic Jews and "Messianic Muslims" is interesting and seems to make sense at first glance, by digging deeper and thinking it through we start to find a number of significant problems with it.
First of all, by pointing out supposed similarities between Messianic Jews and "Messianic Muslims", the authors are also silently implying a similarity between Judaism and Islam. As we discovered in yesterday's article, by logically thinking this through, we can easily see that it just doesn't hold water. The Bible and the Qur'an contradict each other so many times (hundreds and hundreds) that the only way we could say they are both the inspired word of the same God is by having a mentally-ill, multiple-personality god — which would be no god at all!
To imply that Judaism — which is based on the Bible and the God of the Bible — and Islam — which is based on the Qur'an and the god of the Qur'an — are in any way equivalent, so that there is any kind of similarity between Messianic Jews and "Messianic Muslims", totally flies in the face of the facts and all reason and logic!
Christianity, as revealed in the New Testament, is a continuation of the revelations which the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, gave in the Old Testament. Yeshua (Jesus) referred to this a number of times during His sojourn on this Earth. (Keep in mind that when the New Testament refers to "the Scriptures", it is referring to the Old Testament — the Jewish Scriptures — because the New Testament had not been written yet.)
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me." (John 5:39)
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17)
"This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44)
Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Yeshua explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27)
In contrast, Islam is neither a continuation of Judaism nor of Christianity, no matter how much Islamists might insist that it is. As we saw in yesterday's article, although a fairly large chunk of the Qur'an is the retelling of passages found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, invariably the Qur'anic accounts are different from the Biblical accounts — sometimes slightly different, but more often than not substantially different. In fact, so different that they contradict each other. So different, that either one account or the other can be true — but they can't BOTH be true.
There is no way that one could honestly say that Yeshua is found all through the Qur'an, just like Yeshua said He is found all through the Old Testament. The main reason is that when the Qur'an does talk about Yeshua, it presents Him in a way that contradicts in some way or another how the Bible presents Him. As I stated in one of my first articles, Another Gospel, Another God:
Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light. This is the true source of the "other gospel" of Islam that denies the deity of Yeshua, and His crucifixion and resurrection. So, in the end, we can conclude that the Qur'an is telling the truth when it says that Allah has no son, because Allah is NOT the God of Israel, NOT the God of the Bible, NOT the Father of Yeshua, but rather a demonic impersonator. Neither was it the angel Gabriel who appeared to Muhammad, but again, a demonic impersonator "masquerading as an angel of light".
Therefore, because there is no equivalency between the Bible and the Qur'an, and no equivalency between the God of the Bible and the god of the Qur'an, and no equivalency between the Biblical roots of Judaism and the demonic roots of Islam, it is not possible for there to be any equivalency between Messianic Jews and "Messianic Muslims".
Furthermore, Judaism is the only major religion that I know of that is tied to a specific ethnic group, the Jews. There is a Jewish religion, and a related biological Jewish racial identity. But there is no corresponding relation for Muslims. There is a Muslim religion, but there is NO biological Muslim racial identity. There is no ethnic group on earth called Muslims. Jews can stop following the Jewish religion, but they themselves are still biologically Jewish. Muslims can stop following the Muslim religion, but they are not still biologically Muslim, because there is no such thing. Rather, they are still biologically Arab, or Hausa (Nigeria), or Javanese (Indonesia), or Persian (Iran), or one of the many other ethnic groups that are predominantly Muslim in their religion. Ethnic Jews, Arabs, Hausas, Javanese, Persians, or members of any other ethnic group can equally be followers of Yeshua (Isa, Jesus) the Messiah (Christ), which, in the broad sense of the word, would make them equally Christians.
Over the years I have read numerous books by Jews who have decided to follow Yeshua (Isa, Jesus). And I have read numerous books by Muslims who have decided to follow Isa. I have also been a regular subscriber to the Messianic Times (which "seeks to provide accurate, authoritative and current information to unite the international Messianic Jewish community") for a number of years.
In NONE of these publications have I EVER read about a Jew who became a follower of Yeshua (Isa, Jesus) and then remained in traditional Judaism. Rather, by following Yeshua, they realized that they had left their old anti-Christ Judaism behind. Decades ago, before the modern Messianic Jewish movement, these Messianic Jews tried to integrate into traditional Western Christianity. After realizing that this effort was not working very well, Messianic Jews eventually gave birth to the Messianic Jewish movement, which is considered to be an Jewish expression of mainstream Christianity and not an expression of mainstream Judaism.
In the same way, in NONE of these books by former Muslims have I read about a Muslim who became a follower of Isa (Yeshua, Jesus) and then remained in traditional Islam. Rather, by following Isa, they realized that they had left their old anti-Christ Islam behind. As the number of former-Muslim followers of Isa increases, hopefully there will be a corresponding movement among them to give birth to new Arab, Hausa, Javanese, Persian, and other ethnic expressions of mainstream Christianity which are not considered part of mainstream Islam. It is VERY hard to see how one could become a follower of Isa and still remain a Muslim without totally violating one's integrity or resorting to deception.
Regarding the Jewish holidays, or feasts, that Messianic Jews still celebrate — practically all of them, except for Hanukkah, are first and foremost BIBLICAL feasts, not JEWISH feasts. In the Old Testament, they are sometimes referred to as the feasts of Yahweh, not the Jews' feasts (Leviticus 23:2,4,37,44; Ezra 3:5; Ezekiel 44:24; Hosea 9:5).
In contrast, the same cannot be said for the Islamic feasts or holidays, which have no Biblical foundation at all. If one wants to fast during Ramadan, there's probably no harm in that — fasting is a traditional Biblical discipline. Some Christians even fast during Ramadan to devote themselves to praying for the salvation of Muslims. But if fasting during Ramadam causes a former-Muslim follower of Isa to be seen by others as a follower of the Muslim religion, then perhaps it's not such a good idea after all.
The term "Messianic Jews" is a valid one, because the Jews are a Biblical people, belonging to a Biblical God, with a Biblical religion, waiting for a Biblical, Jewish Messiah. Unfortunately, "Messianic Muslims" has no corresponding Biblical foundation or context to support it — rather, it just causes confusion and concern for both Muslims and non-Muslims. If we are going to have "Messianic Muslims", we might as well have "Messianic witches", "Messianic Buddhists", "Messianic Hindus", "Messianic pagans", "Messianic atheists", "Messianic animists", and Messianic whatever other non-Biblical belief systems people should be leaving behind when they decide to follow Yeshua.
Christianity has had a major problem with the mixing of Biblical beliefs with non-Biblical beliefs (often called syncretism) ever since Constantine legalized and popularized Christianity in the early fourth century AD, as we shall explore further in a future article. Christianity as we know it today needs to go through a radical and complete transformation before it will be restored to its original Biblical pattern and purity. I believe it would be a great pity to encourage former-Muslim followers of Isa to follow our horrible example by mixing polluted non-Biblical beliefs into the pure beliefs of Biblical Christianity. As the Apostle Paul once wrote:
I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Messiah. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Well, there's still more to say about this topic, which I will continue in part three: A C-5 Critique