The April Decision magazine features an essay by Franklin Graham – which in the online version is called “What Franklin Graham Wants Followers of Islam to Know,” In the printed version, it is “The Depraved, Apocalyptic Aim of ISIS.”
Graham starts by comparing the apocalyptic aims of ISIS and Islam with apocalyptic vision described Revelation:
At the core of the Islamic State doctrine is the belief that their adherents are waging warfare against unbelievers—infidels—in order to usher in an apocalyptic end-time battle in which Islam will finally and ultimately triumph.
Many Muslims believe that the Syrian town of Dabiq—near Aleppo—is the location predicted by the prophet Muhammad for this confrontation
Of course, the Bible speaks of a great conflict at the end of the age that will be waged at a place called Armageddon. The location is often interpreted as the mountain of Megiddo…
I don’t think comparing the two “end of world” prophecies really helps. It’s a bit like saying “Hey! We have stuff in common! You want apocalypse? We invented the word!”
Graham even uses this phrase: “Here’s the true, biblical apocalyptic vision:” He the quotes Revelation 19:11-16. Jesus on a white horse, yes blazing fire, robe dipped in blood. I admit this is not my favorite vision of Christ.
Not to mock the cheerful, Good News of Revelation, but I don’t think that particular book will convince many Islamists to come over to our side. Neither does it give a Christian a warm feeling about the comparison of the two religions.
Graham gets to the point of his essay — halfway through.
Led on by the destroyer—the devil himself—they blindly march on in their fateful journey to ultimate doom and destruction in the lake of fire where, along with the devil and all who reject Christ, they will be eternally punished for their unbelief and rebellion.
This is why I want the followers of Islam to know there is a God who loves them, cares for them and sent His Son to die for them on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.
You can see Graham turning the corner — addressing the main point. (I would have left out the part about being led on by the destroyer.) This pivot leads to an all-too-short explanation of why the God of Christianity is far better than the God of Islam. Line them up Reverend!
He doesn’t. He explains the unique story of Paul/Saul and his early attempts to destroy the church. God saved him and made him the “foremost Apostle for the sake of the Gospel.” Good words.
You know what I wish Rev. Graham had done? Explain exactly the differences between the examples set by Christ and Mohammed. Christ said “Bring the children to me” and delighted in the innocence of youth. (Matthew 19:14) He said children were an example for adults seeking God. Mohammed married an 9 year old. From Wikiislam:*
According to Anas ibn Malik, the Prophet Mohammed used to visit all eleven of his wives in one night; but he could manage this, as he had the sexual prowess of thirty men.
Such is the reputation of Mohammed. This continues today.
Jesus treated women well. He spoke to a Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel of John (4: 3-42) and she ended up influencing her neighbors to see Jesus preach. Jesus defended a woman who was a sinner, by shaming men into accepting the fact that they also were guilty of sin. (John 8:7) In fact, there’s a case to be made that the life of Jesus is the best thing that could have happened to women — even women who now call themselves feminists. Islam? No major religion treats women so poorly. In countries run by Sharia law, women can be punished for being raped. Young girls are mutilated. Most women have minimum education and rights.
And to the men of ISIS? Jesus offers freedom. Jesus did not tell his followers to conquer lands and force the people to convert, as Islam does. Jesus didn’t coerce others to join him, and in fact he was rather prickly when some wanted to follow him. See the rich man in Mark 10:21. Jesus asked for willing converts. He did so without mind games, swords or pressure. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians: (5:13-14)
You my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
We as Christians in the free world are free to choose. Or reject. Islam offers no choice, and ISIS clearly plans to kill or convert by force as much of the world as it can. To the Islamist, I’d say “What good is God if he needs your sword to kill the unbelievers? How jealous and small is the God of Islam that he needs infidels to die? And how strong is your faith when you knew that you could join or die? Is that really a choice?
The messages is God’s love. He sent his son as an ambassador of peace. Those who believe in him are not only free, but forgiven. The murderers, the rapists and the thieves are welcome as long as they accept Christ. And how important are you, that God would send his son to die so that you can live? Even those under the black robe of Islam can find peace, forgiveness and love.
Franklin Graham gains no traction by pointing out that we Christians also know about the Apocalypse, or that we have the “right God.” That message should be repeated in every essay on Christianity and Islam: Christ brings you love and peace. Islam? Yeah. Not so much.
*I am as surprised as any to discover there is something called wikiislam.