LOST ART OF CRITICAL THINKING
January 9, 2011
Part 5, Worldview Potpourri: Chrislam
A pleasing mixture of aromatic or dried spices, fruits, and petals of flowers generally appeals to the senses; but “potpourri” also speaks to a mixed bag of that which is motley or miscellany. The montage of ingredients in potpourri of this nature may intend to attract, but the stew it offers reeks. No seasoning or garnish can hide the reality that some fundamentally incompatible elements, when combined, are unsuitable for ingestion.
So it is for the potpourri of worldviews merged in the sect of Chrislam which, as its name suggests, melds together religious elements of the Christian West and the Muslim East. Abraham McLaughlin of the Christian Science Monitor explains that, in the beginning, the group was called "Chris-lam-herb" for its unlikely mixture of Christianity, Islam, and “traditional medicine” based, not on scientific research, but rather on indigenous beliefs handed down from generation to generation. While its promise of unity and harmony pander to the postmodernist, Chrislam is far from savory.
“God’s Love”: Fallacy of Equivocation
Founded by Tela Tella, and practiced predominantly in Lagos, Nigeria, the will of God (feoluwa) mission, Chrislam, comes from a Yoruba word meaning “God’s love.” Adding Yoruba to the Greek New Testament concept of God’s love serves as a sort of “love garnish,” but it doesn’t fool those with mature taste. It’s still hash.
In a manner of speaking, Chrislam jams Christianity and Islam into a magic hat and, with wave of a wand, pulls out “love” by its proverbial ears. Because the “love” concept in Islam differs appreciably from that of Christian love, this love-rabbit, so to speak, is a sorry mutation.
Accordingly, the fallacy of equivocation involves sliding between different meanings of a single word that is vital to the debate—in this case, “love.” The Bible establishes that God is love. Arguably, its meaning is paramount within the context of religious debate.
Consider this: While the Qur’an affirms that "God is great" [Allahu akbar], it omits any reference to "God is love" [Allahu muhibba]. An example of contrast between Islam and Christianity is Muslim persecution and dhimmitude of Christians worldwide. In its pure form, Christianity practices nothing equivalent. Instead, Jesus taught His disciples to love, not terrorize their adversaries and to pray for, not subjugate them.
Jesus blessed “peacemakers.” Despite claims to the contrary, history demonstrates that in Islam the purported greater jihad (warfare against sin) takes backseat to the so-called lesser jihad (holy war). Furthermore, the Islamic Doctrine of Abrogation elevates revelation given later over and above earlier revelation. Hence, the latter revelation sanctioning harm (Medina Approach) effectively abrogates the earlier conciliatory revelation in favor of non-harm (Mecca Approach). Of the over 100 allusions to jihad in the Qur’an, some 97% of them reference jihad’s primary meaning—that being, the forceful spread and domination of Islam.
Fear of God in the Judeo-Christian mindset speaks to reverential fear—i.e., veneration—for the person, nature, and magnitude of a loving God who never vacillates, but remains forever the same. In biblical Christianity perfect love casts out fear; the two (love and fear) are mutually exclusive, and together they are like oil and water.
That said, Moroccan scholar Fatema Mernissi explains the centrality of fear within Islam. Many modern Muslims fear Allah and his Imams, the foreign West, democracy, freedom of thought, and individualism. What’s not to fear? After all, the fire of Hell is said to be seventy degrees hotter than earthly fire; and escaping it depends on the whim of Allah. Unfortunately, Allah is outright arbitrary with respect to salvation of his creation. In the words of Caesar Farah, “Allah may vary his ordinances at pleasure, prescribing one set of laws for the Jews, another for the Christians, and still another for Muslims.”
The fallacy of equivocation with respect to this key word, “love,” is opportunistically used to syncretize (mix together) belief systems that, when closely scrutinized, prove to be incompatible. Hence, the resulting “love child” (or “love rabbit,” as the case may be) is no rightful heir of salvation, but rather a bastard.
The Crescent Cross: Appeal to Pity Fallacy
To persuade another to accept his conclusion, one who applies the appeal-to-pity fallacy introduces empathy and/or sympathy. For instance, the Chrislam symbol of the crescent cross, as pictured above, purports to emphasize togetherness and thereby creates a sense of empathy between Muslim and Christian “brothers.”
Designed to appeal as an interfaith symbol to both camps, the crescent cross allegedly represents neither a cross that is adorned with a crescent, nor a crescent adorned with a cross; nonetheless, any suggestion that these merged symbols bear equal significance simply doesn’t ring true.
In Christianity, the cross speaks to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection without which Christian faith simply doesn’t exist. Significantly, the Qur’an outright denies Christ’s death on the cross (4:157-158). With a simple stroke of a pen, the crescent cross is reminiscent of this symbol: ( + leaning ), indicating negation.
Superimposing a crescent moon over the cross—this, in the bogus name of tolerance—symbolically trumps the Christian gospel with Muslim belief. Indeed, the Islamic version of unity is tawheed (“the unity of Allah”). In Islam, “the Body of Christ” eludes the equation. Be sure there is no single visible church of Muslim converts in any Arab country.
Tolerance or Intolerance: False Dichotomy Fallacy
The false dichotomy fallacy offers only two viable choices and thereby eliminates a world of possibilities left undisclosed. Political correctness (in this case, “diversity”) postulates two such options—namely, tolerance or intolerance. Take your pick.
To the postmodernist, fundamentalism of any stripe smacks of intolerance; and one-way, all-the-way belief in either Christianity or Islam is gravely flawed. The answer, then, is a made-to-order belief system (Chrislam), which deigns to make sense of the complex and varied landscape of 21st- century religiosity. Because Chrislam ostensibly epitomizes tolerance, it stands proud as the obvious choice.
An Episcopal priest from Seattle, Rev. Anne Holmes Redding apparently agrees. In 2007 Redding declared herself a Christian-Muslim. In an outward show of inward “tolerance,” Redding dons her Islamic headscarf on Fridays and her clerical collar on Sundays.
That increasing numbers of nominal Christians are taking the bait is evidenced by an observation made by Bishop Vincent Warner of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. Warner insisted that Redding’s politically correct enlightenment had not been controversial in his diocese.
Small Sample: Hasty Generalization Fallacy
Redding’s creed may not have sparked controversy in Warner’s diocese, but that’s not so of the Christian community at large. To make an assumption, as this, based on the atypical and certainly flimsy reckonings of a small sample (Episcopal diocese of Olympia) demonstrates the underlying fallacy of hasty generalization.
Redding contends that, when she looks through Jesus, she sees Allah. For her, Jesus is not “the beginning and the end,” but rather means to an end—namely, the Muslim moon-god, Allah. In her economy, Jesus is not divine; but Allah is.
Redding overlooks the fact that, although today’s Islam is monotheistic, its roots are decidedly pagan. As far back as 2000 BC, the crescent moon has symbolized pagan moon worship. The moon-god was referred to as "al-ilah." Before Mohammed promoted his new religion in AD 610, “al-ilah” was shortened to Allah, a generic word for “the god.”
That said, union of Allah (moon-god) with the sun goddess purportedly resulted in three goddesses (Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat). Together, the family were viewed as "high" gods at the top of the pantheon of Arabian deities. Even so, a host of “lesser gods” were likewise worshiped (Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, I:61).
For Redding to claim Jesus as her Savior is inauthentic. Denying Christ’s divinity renders Him a deceiver and invalidates His efficacious work of mankind’s salvation from sin, death, and the devil. In short, Redding’s portrayal of Jesus as some lesser “god”—i.e., a mere prophet—transcends controversy. It’s out-and-out heretical.
A Panacea: Fallacy of Missing the Point
Some view Chrislam as the solution, a panacea of sorts, for the ongoing conflict between the Western world, which is predominantly Christian, and the Middle East, which is predominantly Muslim. Premises of this faulty argument may indeed support a conclusion, but not the feel-good conclusion that actually is drawn.
You see, while this analysis seems evenhanded, it nonetheless misses the point—that being, exclusive truth claims of Christianity and Islam are fundamentally incompatible.
Examining Chrislam in the light of critical thinking reveals that any semblance of “truth” springs from fallacies of logic, among which are equivocation, appeal to pity, false dichotomy, hasty generalization, and missing the point, to name but a few.
When Constantine the Great opportunistically embraced Christianity, adding to it sundry pagan practices of the day, he established an historic example of syncretism for the sake of appeasement. True, the mix of Christianity with paganism served Constantine’s political ambition, but it also skewed the pure doctrine of biblical Christianity.
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The same holds true today regarding Chrislam. A politically-correct worldview potpourri may well suit the postmodernist, but its resulting violence to biblical truth sullies the pot.
In his epistle to the church at Galatia, the apostle Paul cautioned against embracing “another gospel.” Christians today do well to heed Paul’s warning.
More to follow in part 6.
Posted on line at wikipedia.org
(Accessed November 2010).
2, 1 John 4:8,16.
3, Matthew 5:43-45.
4, Matthew 5:9
5, William Wagner, Th.D. How Islam Plans to Change the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2004), 61-81.
6, James 1:17.
7, 1 John 4:18.
8, Caesar E. Farah, Islam (Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron’s, 2000), 80.
9, Hebrews 9:22,28
10, Adrian Ryan. “Urban Voodoo: Santeria. It’s Not Salsa; It’s a Religion.” The Stranger (Seattle, WA: On Line Publication, June 28 – July 4, 2001 issue).
11, See discussion of the origins of Allah in "Arabic Lexicographical Miscellanies" by J. Blau in the Journal of Semitic Studies, Vol. XVII, #2, 1972, pp. 173-190.
12, Romans 10:9-11.
13, 2 Corinthians 6:14; Jude 24-25
14, Constantine the Great
15, Galatians 1:6.