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September 05, 2006

A Forced "Conversion"

With the return of Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig, there was a tale of a forced "conversion" to Islam. There are those, as the Captain notes, who condemn these men for doing so. I agree with Captain Ed, that we're really in no position to pass judgement on them. Never mind that we don't know what, if any, religion they do adhere to, I have to ask myself how I would react in the same situation. I would sincerely hope that I would have the guts and the faith to refuse, knowing that perhaps it may lead to a rather gruesome and painful death. Would my faith be enough to overcome the very present fear? I hope it would. I hope, but I don't know. I've never been in a situation remotely similar to the one those two men were in. I can say what a Christian should do, but I won't speak ill of someone who has the same human frailties and weaknesses I do.

As an aside, Rev. Sensing notes these confessions, as foreign as this idea may be to Christians, are completely valid to Muslims.

But, let us remember that the basis of Islam, indeed the very meaning of the word, is “submission,” not faith. There is no concept of original sin in Islam as there is in Christianity; indeed, while original sin is the conceptual glue that holds Christian doctrine together, it is entirely rejected in Islam. Christianity teaches that original sin cannot be remitted by any human works, only by the works of God, namely, Christ dying and resurrected. Hence, no deeds human beings can do can bring them to salvation. Thus, wrote St. Paul, “If you believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved.” Note the order: confession follows a change of heart, an affirmation of belief. Without the change of heart the confession’s utterance is of no value.

But in Islam, the confession’s utterance is unconnected to a change of heart. In fact, a change of heart is wholly irrelevant. The confession stands alone and its only point is that it is done, not that it is believed. The entire edifice of salvation theory in Islam is built on one thing alone: human submission to perform deeds ordered by Allah. Islam does not teach that Allah desires human beings to love him; they are commanded to obey.

Christians are to obey God as well, but out of love. It should come as a response to the relationship.

Posted by Doug at September 5, 2006 11:46 AM

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Whilst I agree that there is a vast difference between Christianity and Islam I would like to humbly suggest that Christ, not original sin, is the glue that holds Christian doctrine together. In Orthodox Christian theology it is a basic premise that Christ would have been incarnate with or without the Fall. The incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ are as much about the maturation and completion of humanity (indeed of all creation)as they are about the remission of sins.
A bit off-topic , I know, but I thought it worth mentioning.
All the best,

Posted by: Vic Chiasson at September 5, 2006 09:36 PM

Thank you for that perspective. I wasn't aware of that particular doctrine of Othodoxy.

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 6, 2006 08:09 AM

Matthew 10:33 clearly states that he who denies Jesus will be denied before the Father. That said, that's exactly what Peter did 3 times in one night. I knew a young girl many years ago who was so in love with a Jewish man that she formally renounced belief in Jesus as the Savior before his family would allow the marriage. Her Christian mother dismissed the act with "it's what's in her heart that counts." Where does scripture state that he who seeks to save his life will lose it and he who loses his life will be saved?

Is there a chance that the Islamist captors would have slit their throats immediately after their so called conversion to demonstrate to the world that they martyred themselves for Allah?

Neither do I know my level of commitment in those circumstances especially if they demanded my conversion to save my childrens' lives.

If not our generation, the next or the next generation's faith will be put to that very test.

Posted by: Jane at September 6, 2006 07:43 PM

I guess it's when you've got the choice between getting beheaded or convert that it shows how much you REALLY believe in your God ...

I bet most people would convert.

Posted by: God's Skeptic at September 10, 2006 04:30 PM

In Islam, intention is everything. and intention comes from the heart.

But in Islam, the confession’s utterance is unconnected to a change of heart.

Everything in Islam, is connected to the heart. Instead of confessing to someone, Muslims confess for their own sins, only to Allah. Forgiveness for those sins has the condition that the heart needs to accept the sin and strive to avoid it.

Also, Islam beleives that the "original sin" was forgiven and no one need pay for it. Every person's own sins are plenty enough.

Posted by: koolcalypso at March 8, 2007 02:01 AM

Isn't it Christianity (Catholocism) that had the concept of "confessing" sins to a priest?

In Islam there is no such thing. Infact, there is no concept of original sin (as was correctly noted).

In Islam, everyone is born free of sin, thus children are innocent and pure.

For this reason, there is no "conversion" to Islam, rather a "reversion". You return back to the spiritual pureness you were born with. However, over time as humans grow up they commit various sins.

The "glue" that holds Islam togethor is that you stop rebelling agaisnt God, and humbly submit yourself to God.

Finally, Islam does emphasize Allah's (God's) love. The Qur'an says,

"...surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him)..."

"Do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good."

"If you love Allah, then follow [Muhammad], Allah will love you and forgive your sins." (3:31)

Posted by: Sameer at August 15, 2007 06:36 PM