A few years ago, I wouldn’t even be mentioning this because it wouldn’t have happened. A so-called “Christian” church is fixing meals for Muslims in Sacramento, California, to commemorate the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting during the day, then feasting at night with a meal called iftar.
So why is the church doing this? In the words of the church’s pastor, “We want to teach about the similarities in the Bible and Quran. There is too big a division today between Western society and the Arab world. …I believe that Jesus wants us to share his love.” If I didn’t know what godly unity was or what Jesus’ love was really about or what the Bible teaches, I would think that this endeavor was such a nice, sweet gesture. The pastor is basically pushing Chrislam, a new trend in the “emergent” churches that attempts to marry Christianity with Islam in the same way Constantine the Great married his Roman paganism to Christianity in the 300s AD.
Does the Bible actually address such a situation? Or am I just perturbed for no reason? Glad you asked. The writers of the Bible who ventured to the four corners of the globe to spread the gospel were surrounded by pagan cultures. They preached to pagans to convert them to the truth of God’s word. And with the conversions there were some controversies that arose, which Paul had to address in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13. When I was growing up, preachers usually fast forwarded through this passage since it never really happened because there was never talk of observing non-Christian holidays. But here’s the passage:
4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
The pastor of the First Covenant Church of Sacramento, Mark Shetler, is teaching false doctrine by celebrating iftar. He is teaching Allah = Jehovah, which is false. He is teaching there should be unity between the Lord Jesus Christ and those who do not believe Jesus Christ is Lord. He is teaching that sharing Jesus’ love means compromise to accept similarities with other religions. But God’s word, written by Paul, says the opposite. Shetler and his church are placing a stumblingblock in the path of the converts from Islam to the only spiritual truth there is, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father but by him.
If a believer who was once pagan sees Christians participating in Ramadan’s iftar, and their understanding is that iftar is done to worship Allah, the convert is being told that celebrating Ramadan is fine. Then the convert may participate in Ramadan themselves all the while having in their mind they are honoring the false god Allah because their brothers and sisters in Christ said it’s okay. In doing so, the Christians have caused that convert to stumble and have defiled that convert’s conscience. Paul didn’t say this was sharing Jesus’ love. He said this would cause the weak brother to perish and is sinning against Christ [verses 11-12]. It shows that this church doesn’t care about lost souls or about what God wants, which is in opposition to Jesus’ love.
Source: Uzra Khan. Christian Church Cooks Ritual Ramadan Meal for Muslim Neighbors. HispanicBusiness.com. July 27, 2012.
Harry A. Gaylord