A Day of Small Things
By Σωσθένης Ὁἀδελφὸς – Sosthenes the Brother
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord
The horrible events of last week when 17 people, 8 of them staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were killed, raise a number of serious questions for the sincere believer
- How far is it legitimate to offend?
- Is it right to openly criticise or mock another religion?
- Christianity and Islam are both peaceful religions, aren’t they?
- Should ‘freedom of speech’ be unrestrained?
- What should I do if I am offended?
- What would Jesus have done?
How far is it legitimate to offend?
Jesus said a number of things that would have offended religious Jews, especially the Pharisees.
John the Baptist and Stephen too:
- Generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Luke 3:7)
- Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears (Acts 7:51)
Against that we are exhorted to live peaceably with all men (See Romans 12:18). When Paul was in Ephesus, he did not openly attack the pagan religion. These men .. are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. (Acts 19:37). But that did not stop many practitioners turning to the Lord and burning their valuable books.
The rejection of the Holy Spirit was in Acts 7. Thereafter the testimony is in those who have the Spirit witnessing the effect of the glad tidings. There is no need to offend. Indeed we should not.
Is it right to openly criticise or mock another religion?
We need to state the truth. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism are false religions. Judaism was of course of God, but to follow it now means calling the blessed Son of God an imposter.
We can do this in a way that reaches people’s consciences. There is no need to raise their passions of resentment. I look at a cartoon of Mohammed with a tear in his eye, and am unmoved. Mohammed is nothing to me. But he is to my Muslim friend, and he will be as offended by the cartoon as I am of some verbal or graphic misrepresentation of my Saviour.
Christianity and Islam are both peaceful religions, aren’t they?
I often hear that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are doing a disservice to Islam. Islam, submission, is a peaceful religion. Millions of deaths, even in the 21st century have been inflicted by Christians against those of other religions.
True Christians, follow the One who said, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you’ (Matt 5:44). On the other hand, those poor people who follow Mohammed are taught from the Koran to kill infidels:
- Allah is an enemy to unbelievers (Sura 2:98).
- On unbelievers is the curse of Allah (Sura 2:161).
- Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter ( Sura 2:191).
I am not a student of the Koran, and do not know the context of these passages. Nor do I know the interpretation that mullahs and imams give on them. But I do know: by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt 7:20) and by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matt 12:37).
Should ‘freedom of speech’ be unrestrained?
In the West we have many freedoms for which we can thank God. Our brethren in many other countries do not enjoy these freedoms. We can distribute tracts, preach in the town centre, visit prisons and talk about the Lord Jesus. Many secularists would try and stop us.
To incite violence or ferment racial hatred is wrong, immoral and illegal. Rightly so. But to proclaim the grace of God and His salvation is another thing.
Non Christians – especially journalists – point out inconsistencies and hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with that. They also may raise questions which cause us to get to the Lord for answers. That is good too, even if we do not like it. But when we are charged with xxx-phobia, or yyy-ism just for quoting the Word of God, that is different.
We need to pray that those freedoms that we cherish might be maintained.
What should I do if I am offended?
Be like our Master:
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Or be as Peter again said, ‘Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing’ (1 Peter 3:9)
What would Jesus have done?
The quotation from 1 Peter 2, above partly answers this question. When it was a question of anything personal He bore it. When it was the rights of God, especially the Person of the Holy Spirit, He was severe in His reply: ‘Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, (Mark 3:29) – solemn, if the hearers listened.
So ‘Suis-je Charlie?’
My answer ‘Non!’ The website of the National Secular Society (UK) says, ‘Je suis Charlie’ means ‘Je suis secularism’.
Charlie Hebdo is a self-professed atheist magazine. It will not hesitate to offend the believer and mock our Lord and Saviour. But we cannot condone the attacks against them. May Charb, his friends and colleagues have turned to the Lord in their last moments!
God’s blessings, your brother, Sosthenes Hoadelphos