Sunday, March 25, 2007

Should a Christian Ever Contribute to a Mosque Building Fund? / Early Christians & Jewish Synagogue & Temple Worship

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The early Christians, following Jesus' example, continued to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, even during times of animal sacrifice (Acts 3:1), and also at synagogues.


This exchange was with "Grubb", a Protestant regular on my blog. His words will be in blue.
My cited words will be in green. His cited words will be in purple.

* * * * *

A friend of mine sent me an article [link], and I was wondering what y'all thought. If you don't feel like reading it, in a nutshell it says there's a RC Church in Germany that is planning to give money to Muslims to help build a Mosque in the same town. A collection is being taken (or was taken) with the money going to the Muslims to help build their place of worship.

It seems to me that we're called to love the lost in a way that draws them to Jesus not in a way that facilitates them turning away from Jesus.

In the end I think it was only 400 or 500 Euros, but does this really seem wise? Is this a rogue priest, or does the RCC approve of this? What do y'all think?

I have no problem with it, viewed as a gesture to facilitate inter-religious and ethnic harmony. As stated in the article:
"All that matters to me about them is keeping peace in the area," Meurer remarked. "We don't pray together there. We get to know each other, which is possible only at get-togethers like that."

. . . "It's simply a nice gesture by Mr Meurer," said Rafet Ozturk, DITIB's coordinator for interreligious dialogue. "We're pleased, of course. Even very pleased."
I don't see it as any different than, say, if a Buddhist neighbor of mine had their house burned down, that the neighborhood chipped in to help.

Doing this doesn't necessarily imply religious agreement or compromise; I think that may be the fallacy you are laboring under, in objecting to this act.

*** CLICK ON "Tolle, lege!" immediately below to finish this article ***



"All that matters to me about them is keeping peace in the area," Meurer remarked.

How about the fact that they're headed for a Christless eternity? That should matter infinitely more than keeping peace in the neighborhood.

[I]f the Vatican spoke out publicly about this now it might cause a huge issue; but it seems as though they should establish a policy not to help facilitate false religions in any way in the future.

I believe we're sending mixed signals if we say, "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me' and 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him'" but then turn around and help build a place to worship a false god. What did they do in the Old Testament? They tore down places to worship false gods. Now I'm not saying we should go OT, but at the very least we shouldn't help expand the kingdom of darkness.

Make no mistake, some people will be converted to Islam in the Mosque Meurer helped build. How will he defend that when he stands before the judgment throne? The words, "All that matter(ed) to me about them (was) keeping peace in the area" will ring very hollow.

Will we next help build abortion clinics to keep the pro-abortion crowd peaceful? If you say, "Murder occurs in an abortion clinic, we'd never support that", I'll ask, "What occurs in a Mosque?" Surely spiritual murder occurs there. Their goal is to get one to believe in something that will lead to everlasting death. Isn't that worse than killing the body?

Building a place of worship is different than rebuilding a home. Helping someone rebuild a home doesn't in any way, shape, or form put forth the notion that you support their false religion. Helping them build a place of worship could.

I see. So if you are a plumber and a Muslim calls you to fix their toilet at the mosque, you refuse because that would mean you are supporting the religion of Islam?

If you put in windows or do roofing, you refuse to work on any mosque or synagogue or Buddhist temple, on grounds that you are thereby helping people go to hell?

How about if you are a fireman, and the local mosque is burning down. You say, "let it burn; that way people won't go to hell"?

Let's make it even simpler. The local mosque sponsors a night where Christians and Muslims can get to know each other and each other's religion better. You won't go because setting foot in the mosque means you support Islam, even though you are going there to explain and share your Christian faith?

The apostle Paul went into the synagogues and argued (apologetics) and proclaimed the Gospel. Why should you not go into a mosque and do so? I did this myself one night, in a Christian-Muslim group discussion. I defended Christianity with a Protestant friend of mine. I was also very friendly with the Muslims. They're not my enemies. They are fellow human beings in need of salvation like everyone else.

So you think the ecumenical outlook has difficulties; yours clearly involves far more absurdities, once scrutinized closely. And it is all based on the false premise I already mentioned.

Jim Scott IV added:
Historically in the really really old days the Church did try as much as possible to limit the proliferation of non-Catholic/Christian houses of worship but even then they allowed some of them to be built and this was way before Vatican II, my friends.

In fact in once case a local bishop seized a Jewish Shul from the local Jews and transformed it into a Church and the pope himself forced the bishop to fork over the money to build the Jews a new Shul.

So this is not new or unreasonable or unbiblical.
You're jumping to a lot of false conclusions when I've barely even espoused my ecumenical views. Slow down turbo. Christians must hang out with unbelievers; we're not called to practice the "holy huddle". Jesus hung out with unbelievers. Jesus went where unbelievers were. Paul went where unbelievers were . . . possibly even their places of worship. Going to a Mosque on a Friday night to preach the Gospel or to establish inroads for later preaching is fine. I'm not suggesting we build Christianville and never hang out with the lost. All of what I've said in this paragraph is Biblical and defensible. So you and I don't disagree on the fourth and fifth paragraphs you wrote, and your sixth paragraph is erroneous based on our agreement.

Your first three paragraphs are interesting food for thought. In the '80s JPII called RCs to quit their job if they worked in the nuclear arms field, because they were building weapons of mass destruction. Would he discourage building nuclear weapons but allow building mosques? Discourage what destroys the body but allow what destroys the soul? What's the difference between a nuclear bomb and a mosque? A nuclear bomb can do serious damage but may never be used; a mosque can do serious damage, but we KNOW it will be used. It seems as though JPII would have been against building a mosque since he was against building WMDs; and if he was against building one, I'm sure he'd be against funding one. I didn't agree with JPII, but it certainly will be interesting to see how you'll justify not building WMDs but allow building mosques.

Should a Christian donate to an abortion clinic in order to promote peace with pro-abortionists?

Hey Ben [Jim],

Long time no talk to. I hope you're well.

If I understood the first part of your comment, the RCC did try to hinder non-Christian "churches" from being built. Allowing some to be built is far different than helping pay for them. If anyone doesn't believe that, give money to the next topless bar being built in your area. Allowing it to be built would be hurtful; paying for part of it (even if done to help promote peace and inroads for witnessing) would be excruciating.

The last example you cited doesn't really apply here, does it? The Bishop stole their Shul and was forced to pay it back by building a new one. Meurer's parish didn't steal anything from the Muslims to whom they gave money.

it certainly will be interesting to see how you'll justify not building WMDs but allow building mosques.

That's simple. Things can be used for both good and evil. Use of nuclear arms is almost always evil, I would argue; however, deterrence as a concept is not completely ruled out by the Church. A nuclear weapon sitting there in a warehouse or a bunker is not intrinsically evil.

Say a monster from outer space attacked earth and we had such a weapon to use against it. This would not be evil; therefore the weapon itself (just like a gun or a knife) can be used for good or evil and is therefore not intrinsically evil. Killing noncombatant civilians wantonly, however, is evil, as part of traditional just war doctrine.

I'd have to see what JPII said exactly about workers in the nuclear field. It could be that he simply urged non-cooperation in a general sense, while not going the further step and saying that it would be intrinsically evil to participate in any way whatsoever. I don't know unless I see the exact quote you refer to. Anyone who pays taxes to the federal government contributes to nuclear arms, since it is part of military defense.

Helping to build a place of worship is not directly participating in any evil, either, and there is truth and falsehood in virtually any religion. It's not pure evil by any stretch of the imagination, like, for example, an abortion clinic or a Nazi death camp (which amounts to the same thing as the abortuary). That would be an absolute situation of the type you describe, in my opinion.

But one does not participate in false religious teaching in so doing. That's your fallacy and false premise. Muslims are going to build a mosque in any event, and worship there. If Christians want to help them as a gesture of good will, then that is constructive for purposes of inter-religious and ethnic harmony. It doesn't imply that we agree with the teachings. But we show that we respect their right to worship as they please, and acknowledge that their faith is just as important to them as ours is to us. That is part of charity. As long as we don't deny anything we believe, nothing wrong is done.

My reductio was, of course, that if you claim no one can help build a mosque in any way, shape, or form, without cooperating in false and pernicious religious doctrine, then how could anyone even help maintain or repair such a structure in any fashion?

Either you have to agree, by virtue of the reductio, that your position is too extreme, and must be discarded or greatly modified, or if you disagree, you must explain the essential difference between the two scenarios, and at what hypothetical point involvement in a non-Christian religious building becomes material participation in sin and false doctrine, etc.

Good luck . . .

You made a much better case than I thought you would; you frequently surprise me . I believe there's a fundamental difference between who's money we take (i.e. who we do jobs for) and to whom we give our money (i.e. what we support). When Paul was making tents, did he only make them for Christians? Not likely since he was working in an unbelieving land. Did Daniel work for a "believing" king? Not initially (he may have believed later on). So there's Biblical precedence in working for people who are unbelievers and possibly making things that we know will be used for evil. Paul may have made a tent for someone he knew was going to worship Baal in it; and Daniel may have been required to oversee the building of a non-Jewish temple early in his career.

Giving money is usually done for one of three reasons (there may be more, but I didn't want to actually try to come up with every reason we give money ) :

1) Stuff we need (house, car, electricity,... )

2) Stuff we want (soccer ball, tv, RAZR, soda, movies,... ) and

3) Stuff we support (charities, service organizations, churches, ... )

I know there are reasons that may not fit neatly into one of these, but generally this is how I classify my money spending.

With groups 1 and 2, we don't generally have the luxury of specifying things we support. I NEED electricity, but there's only one provider in my town, so I buy it from him. I want a soccer ball, but publicly held corporations don't specify their stand on Christianity.

But when I choose to give my money to someone or something, it's usually to help that person/thing in a time of need or to show direct support. I don't generally give money to people who ask on the street but do offer to buy them a meal because that's what they need. That way the money doesn't go to something I disapprove of (like crack). I give money to my church, because I support it. I give money to the Pregnancy Support Services Center (helps pregnant women avoid abortions). My brother gives money to Christian Children's Fund, because he loves what they're doing (so do I, but there's only so much money to give).

Is there anything you willfully give your money to that you don't support?

I have no problem with any of this so far. Presumably you are getting to my questions . . . I want to see what you say to those.

I do NOT give money to the Democrat Party, abortion clinics, N.O.W. (the feminist group), or Islamic building funds. Not even in the interest of peace, because it's too easy to construe building a relationship with support. The "They were going to do it anyway" defense is a very weak one. When my daughter moves out, I'll help her buy her first vehicle...unless it's a motorcycle. I will NOT contribute to a vehicle I think is very dangerous. She may buy it anyway, but I won't support it by giving money to help. Democrats are going to do what Democrats are going to do with or without my $500 just as Muslims were going to build their mosque with or without Meurer's money. But I don't give Democrats money to improve my relationship with the liberals in my office. I do other things to promote relationships and good will with those guys. And THAT is what I think Meurer should have done; come up with something else.

There is clearly Biblical precedence for working for unbelievers and possibly even working on unbelievers' places of worship as a job. But I don't believe there's Biblical precedence for voluntarily giving money to build an unbeliever's place of worship. I'm not saying because it's not in the Bible we can't do it (that's a whole 'nother conversation ); but rather that they didn't appear to do it in Moses' or Jesus' day, so we may want to follow their lead.

Here was the weakest part of your argument: ...there is truth and falsehood in virtually any religion. It's not pure evil by any stretch of the imagination... Actually that's the biggest danger in any false religion. If they taught one has to always lie, beat people up, and cheat on his spouse, that would be an easy religion to convert people away from. But when Satan blends his lies with God's truth, it makes it infinitely more dangerous. Not too many would fall for "Grubb's religion of lying, cheating, stealing, and spouse abuse", but billions have fallen for Islam. If misleading billions to hell by blending truth and lies isn't pure evil, I don't know what is.

Again, wasn't there something else Meurer could have done with the 500 Euros that would have showed good will? Sponsoring the first "get together" would have been an excellent idea.

If you show me an instance where Jesus or Paul clearly gave money to the building of an unbeliever's place of worship, I'll concede Meurer was right.

They did even more than that: they worshiped at the Temple and at synagogues. The Jews didn't even accept the Trinity (so they were like Muslims in that regard). Jesus continued to worship at the Temple and synagogues; so did Paul.

I believe there was a mandatory tithe or something of that sort, that supported the priests. Jesus in all likelihood continued to pay that, so He supported non-Christian worship practices and buildings.

Jesus even commanded His disciples to obey what the Pharisees taught (Matt 23:2-3), and Paul acknowledged the high priest's authority even when he was being persecuted by the Jews (Acts 23:2-5), and called himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

Jesus highly commended the faith of the Roman centurion, who wasn't even a practicing Jew, let alone a Christian.

Is that enough for you to make you concede, even if you refuse again to answer my rhetorical questions?

Let readers judge who has the better argument: I continue to answer your questions; you ignore mine, and now I offer explicit biblical support for my position.

I presumed you deduced my answers from my comments just as I deduced your answer from your comments. When I asked if you'd ever give money to help build an abortion clinic, you didn't answer with a simple 'No'. You said, "It's (a nuclear bomb) not pure evil by any stretch of the imagination, like, for example, an abortion clinic or a Nazi death camp (which amounts to the same thing as the abortuary). That would be an absolute situation of the type you describe, in my opinion." If you don't say otherwise, I'll assume I deduced correctly from this that your answer would be 'No' to helping build an abortion clinic.

Likewise, when I wrote, "I believe there's a fundamental difference between who's money we take ... and to whom we give our money... When Paul was making tents, did he only make them for Christians? Not likely since he was working in an unbelieving land. Did Daniel work for a 'believing' king? Not initially (he may have believed later on). So there's Biblical precedence in working for people who are unbelievers and possibly making things that we know will be used for evil. Paul may have made a tent for someone he knew was going to worship Baal in it; and Daniel may have been required to oversee the building of a non-Jewish temple early in his career.", I presumed you would deduce that I don't have a problem with helping build or maintain a non-Christian place of worship.

But if you want it point blank: I would not refuse to work on their toilet, their windows, their roofing, and I would put out a fire.

Why would I answer rhetorical questions? Those are questions that not only don't require an answer, but the asker usually doesn't WANT an answer.

That's not how my own socratic method works at all. The whole point is that questions are asked so that the other guy's premises are challenged and he is made to reflect further on their implications and how they can be either defended or discarded as inadequate.

They did even more than that: they worshiped at the Temple and at synagogues. The Jews didn't even accept the Trinity (so they were like Muslims in that regard). Jesus continued to worship at the Temple and synagogues; so did Paul.

I looked up every instance of worship, worshipped, and worshiping in the NIV NT and didn't see any instance where Christians worshipped with Jews or unbelievers. Obviously it's true that Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and the others taught in the synagogues, and before the resurrection worshipped with Jews, but did they necessarily worship with them in the old Jewish way after the resurrection? See below for a little more on this.

I believe there was a mandatory tithe or something of that sort, that supported the priests. Jesus in all likelihood continued to pay that, so He supported non-Christian worship practices and buildings.

I'm not going to concede based on "I believe there was a mandatory tithe or something of that sort, that supported the priests". Why wouldn't Jesus continue to go to synagogues and pay the temple tax? The old covenant hadn't been replaced yet. That wasn't done until the Resurrection, right? If worshipping in synagogues and paying money to support Jewish priests is such a good idea, why did the early church stop doing it? They stopped doing it, because to worship along side of unbelievers can be very distracting at the least and soul damaging at the worst. Apparently hanging out with Jews didn't help Peter much, since he went back to some of the old ways which is why Paul confronted him.

Jesus even commanded His disciples to obey what the Pharisees taught (Matt 23:2-3), and Paul acknowledged the high priest's authority even when he was being persecuted by the Jews (Acts 23:2-5), and called himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

Are you trying to build a case for us to continue to be under Jewish teaching? So a Rabbi walks into a RC church and says, "According to our law, you should give me all the money in the offering plate" and the priest says, "According to Matt 23:2-3 we're to obey the Rabbi; hand over the money." Is that how it works in the RCC today? Cause if it is, I'm thinking about getting a Rabbi costume and going to the nearest RC church this Sunday . Just so y'all know, that was intended to be humorous, and I did make myself laugh out loud. I'm pretty sure that's not how it works. In Acts 4:18-20, "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

Obeying authorities instituted over us and Pharisees when they teach accurate Godliness has no bearing what so ever on whether we should voluntarily give money to support false religions.

Jesus highly commended the faith of the Roman centurion, who wasn't even a practicing Jew, let alone a Christian

Not really sure you want to be making that argument Dave. That Roman centurion may not have been a Christian when he road out to meet Jesus, but he may have become a follower that day. This would actually support the PT (Protestant) position, salvation by faith alone. He hadn't done the sacraments, been baptized, or done any other act, but Jesus may have considered him a believer. By the very definition, he was a believer. Jesus told him his son would recover, and he believed and had faith in Jesus.

Again, this has nothing to do with whether one should give money to support a false religion. If the Centurion didn't become a Christian that day, do you think Jesus said, "Here's 10 denari, go build an alter to worship Baal. I hope we can be at peace and will try to preach the Word to you later."? Do you think Jesus ever saw people worshipping Baal and said, "We should give them some money to improve our relations, so that we may have peace with them and tell them the truth, because peace with them is all that matters to me"? That conversation isn't in the English Standard Version of the Bible I read.

It's not in yours either, because when Jesus saw the lost, he went to them and said, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10b) and "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:11b) And Paul said, "I preached that they should repent and turn to God" (Acts 26:20b) and "what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17:23) And Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34) and "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (Luke 12:51). Peace is enjoyable, desirable, and should be sought; but it is NOT as Meurer said "all that matters".

None of the passages you cited even remotely indicate that it's a good idea to willfully give money to a false religion. In fact if you read some of the questions I pretended Jesus or Paul asked, you would see how absurd it is to believe anything they did would encourage us to freely donate money to a false religion. Again, isn't there something else Meurer could have done to build good will between his church and the Muslims? Dave, you and I could probably think of ten things within 30 minutes if we tried that would build good relations without giving the money to the mosque building fund.

You may think I danced all around your iron-clad defense, but I did say, "If you show me an instance where Jesus or Paul clearly gave money to the building of an unbeliever's place of worship, I'll concede Meurer was right." My statement may not be accurate enough, since I was really addressing the 3rd way we spend money (willfully to support something). None of the passages you mentioned did that. In fact, in my opinion, none of them even remotely hinted at that.

Here's my last point, Kant's Moral Imperative basically asks: Would it be good if everyone did this? Some might say, yes, because we might have much better relations with Muslims world wide. Some might say, no, because we might have a lot more Muslim churches world wide. I fully believe we can improve relations with Muslims without donating to their building funds. This website is an example of how RCs and PTs have improved relations, and to the best of my knowledge Dave hasn't sent a check to my church's building fund. Or is that check in the mail Dave?

I would not refuse to work on their toilet, their windows, their roofing, and I would put out a fire.

Good. So now the question is, as I stated earlier:

. . . you must explain what the essential difference is between the two scenarios, and at what hypothetical point involvement in a non-Christian religious building becomes material participation in sin and false doctrine, etc.

I contend that there is no essential difference between maintaining a building and helping to pay for it. In both cases you are contributing to the continuance of a building that teaches what you regard as a false religion. I don't see any difference. In one instance you are contributing labor (which is exchanged for money) and in the other, money. What's the difference?

Your position is that you somehow are agreeing with or sanctioning the false religion in so doing. I don't think that follows. Your task is to either show how there is a difference between the two scenarios (fixing stuff and giving money), or to grasp that one is not embracing a false religion in doing either act, in which case you have conceded your entire original point of view.

Obviously it's true that Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and the others taught in the synagogues, and before the resurrection worshipped with Jews, but did they necessarily worship with them in the old Jewish way after the resurrection?

Yes; I showed you already how Paul described himself as a Pharisee and recognized the authority of the high priest. That was after the resurrection. Christians continued to worship in the old ways until (at the very least) the council of Jerusalem and (more definitively) the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. For example, Paul "and his company" are described as worshiping at a synagogue:

13: Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphyl'ia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem;
14: but they passed on from Perga and came to Antioch of Pisid'ia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
15: After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it."

(Acts 13:13-15)
The sabbath day was, of course, Saturday. Paul and his friends were not only worshiping at the synagogue, but were actually invited by the "rulers" to preside over the service. The text records what Paul said, and then we learn:
42: As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next sabbath.
43: And when the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44: The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God.

(Acts 13:42-44)
Acts 18:4 tells us that Paul "argued in the synagogue every Sabbath", seemingly implying that he was worshiping there, too.

Acts 18:8:

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with all his household . . .
According to Acts 3:1 (right after the Day of Pentecost):

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
The notes in my RSV explain that the ninth hour was 3 PM "when sacrifice was offered with prayer (Ex 29.39; Lev. 6.20; Josephus, Ant. xiv.4.3)."

Acts 2:46 described the early Christians:
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts,

Obeying authorities instituted over us and Pharisees when they teach accurate Godliness has no bearing what so ever on whether we should voluntarily give money to support false religions.

But I deny that one is doing that by simply helping to build a mosque. That was the whole point of the reductio argument of fixing the toilet in a mosque, etc. You said you would do that, but you haven't shown how that is any less "participating in false religion" than contributing money.

I deny that either scenario is supporting a false religion! First of all, not all in Islam is false. Muslims, still, e.g., have children and frown upon contraception and cohabitation and fornication. In all these ways they do far better than most Protestants and Catholics, so they preserve those truths that Christians have largely forsaken.

Secondly, such gestures can be classified as diplomatic acts of charity. The Muslim knows it doesn't mean that the Christian believes in Islam, but the act creates good will and harmony: a most desirable end indeed.

"If you show me an instance where Jesus or Paul clearly gave money to the building of an unbeliever's place of worship, I'll concede Meurer was right." My statement may not be accurate enough, since I was really addressing the third way we spend money (willfully to support something). None of the passages you mentioned did that. In fact, in my opinion, none of them even remotely hinted at that.

I've now shown with several examples, Christians after Pentecost (including Paul, Peter, and John) worshiping in the regular Temple services or at synagogues. Now, almost certainly both the Temple and the synagogues had some sort of money collection (rabbis and priests had to eat and have some sort of shelter and clothing, after all).

So all they had to do was contribute to that and therefore they would be contributing to the religion of Judaism, which denies the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection of Jesus, and other aspects of Christianity, though it also agrees with much of what we believe (and I would argue that Christianity is a consistent development of the OT and OT Judaism, and that Jesus did not even overturn the Law; only modified it and taught a different application -- Matt 5:17-20).

One could easily argue that post-Christian Judaism takes a far lower view of Jesus than Islam does. After all, Islam regards Jesus as a prophet, whereas the early Jews after the resurrection thought he was a false prophet, false Messiah, and possessed by a demon. Therefore, the early Christians supported a (partially) false religion (Judaism) by not only money but also direct participation in its worship services.

Ergo: it is completely biblical to partially support the building of a mosque with a financial contribution, since this is a lesser participation than what the early Christians like Paul, Peter, and John did when they worshiped with Jews, and to a religion that takes a higher view of Jesus than Judaism itself does.

Case closed. Your objection has now collapsed in ruins, and on the basis of the Bible alone. Isn't "Bible only" religion fun???

This website is an example of how RCs and PTs have improved relations, and to the best of my knowledge Dave hasn't sent a check to my church's building fund. Or is that check in the mail Dave?

In fact, my last charitable contribution was to a local inner-city Protestant ministry in Detroit called Joy of Jesus. I donated our old van (not worth much at all, and on its last legs, I hasten to add) to a place that re-sells it and gives the money to a charity of one's choice.

That is a good example, because I am contributing to a Protestant group that is doing important work that I agree with (inner-city evangelism and restoration). Part of that is, no doubt, proclaiming the Protestant gospel of "faith alone" and sola Scriptura, etc., but that doesn't mean I shouldn't contribute because I don't agree with every jot and tittle. That is rarely the case.

There are largely good and true things (e.g., Protestantism), partially good and true things (Judaism and Islam), mostly bad things (political liberalism, secularism), and wholly evil things (abortion and the abortion establishment).

I would say that one could donate in good conscience to the largely good and true things and partially good and true things.

It is rare to be able to have complete consistency in such matters. For example, I think abortion is absolutely evil in all cases. But George W. Bush (and his father) think it is permissible (or should be legal) in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. I disagree with that, but between Bush and Kerry, the choice was clear who to pick (and the Catholic Church allows one to make those choices).

By your strict, illogical mentality, I was, therefore, supporting the evil murder by abortion of a child conceived in rape, in voting for President Bush. But in my opinion, that is a classic case of voting for the "lesser of two evils." Politics is like that. So is life in general, oftentimes (probably more than most of us would care to admit).

So I would help a Muslim in a material sense, without compromising my religious beliefs in the least.

We know the Jews worship the same God as Christians do; so to attend a church where they were preaching genuine Godliness isn't a problem. We agree that Jesus didn't come to replace the law but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17-19), so sitting with Jews who were learning about the LORD was acceptable. But I'm pretty confident Paul didn't partake of any sacrifices after his conversion. I presume none of the Apostles did since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. There would have been a definite distinction between the way the Jews worshipped and the way the Christians worshipped even if they did sit in the same "service".

You still haven't shown that they unnecessarily donated money. You presume they did, but you haven't shown it. You can't declare victory based on circumstantial, unsubstantiated, unprovable evidence. I guess you CAN since you seemed to do so, but one shouldn't.

You claim my argument is inconsistent, but I'll restate it one more time. If it doesn't make sense, we may just have to agree Grubb doesn't make sense. The job one works on doesn't require consent or support. My company (a retail company) analyzes sales by department. I think they should analyze sales by items. But I write programs that show them sales data by dept. Am I supporting their decision by writing the program? No, I'm trading my programming skills for their money. In this situation, I'm not supporting their business decision.

When I GIVE money to someone without expecting to get anything back, I'm showing support. You gave a van (a very nice gesture indeed) to the inner city organization and support what they're doing. If you didn't support their mission, you'd have given your van to another organization. I don't give my "charitable" money to organizations I disagree with. Without expecting to get anything back to what do you give money that you DON'T support? Even if you don't like PTism in its entirety, you do support what that inner city group is doing. Right?

Try this experiment: sell a charitable organization a $10,000 van; and give a different charitable organization a $10,000 check. Would the two charities say the same thing about you? No!! The 1st would say, "Dave's ok. He sold us this van for $10k. Nice guy." The 2nd would say, "Dave is amazing!! He gave us $10k. That's 10 THOUSAND dollars!! He must REALLY love the work we're doing!!" And even if you didn't support what they were doing, you must see that some (maybe even most) could construe that you do. Don't you agree there's a difference in the two scenarios?

I've asked this three times or more now. Couldn't Meurer have come up with a better way to spend 500 Euros (like sponsoring the first "social" or helping needy Muslims pay their electricity bill) without donating the money to the mosque building fund?

I understand that laying bricks to build a mosque and giving 500 Euros to help build a mosque are both materially participating in building the mosque. I didn't want to pause the conversation without that being known.

The huge hang-up I have (and the place where I think the two are different) is that one is simply trading money for services without showing any intellectual ascent to their ideology and the other is (or at the very least can appear to be) supporting the organization's cause or showing that one believes in the cause of the organization. To RCs who don't attend church regularly, they might say, "I suppose the church is ok with Islam now. It's come to this, has it?" and be discouraged. But if the money had been used to pay a needy Muslim's power bill, he a) would never hear about it, or b) would realize the church is helping the lost.

We know the Jews worship the same God as Christians do

They do? Then why do they object to us? Where's the beef? The beef is, of course, precisely over the nature of God, because we say Jesus is God and they think that is blasphemous. Our God has three Persons. Theirs has one. Their God is essentially the same as the Father in the Trinity, but that is not the same God, because there is no God the Son or God the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, if you think the Jewish God is the same -- enough to allow for common worship -- then you would have to think the same about Jehovah's Witnesses and the Christadelphians (Arian groups). Would you worship with them? Would you help build a Kingdom Hall?

But I'm pretty confident Paul didn't partake of any sacrifices after his conversion. I presume none of the Apostles did since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice.

That's exactly what Peter and John did in Acts 3:1, as I already showed you. They went to the Temple service that was specifically for sacrifice.

You still haven't shown that they unnecessarily donated money. You presume they did, but you haven't shown it.

I don't have to have it in black and white. Jewish services like any other would have collections. Since I've shown that early Christians participated in such services it is not unreasonable at all to assume that they most likely contributed financially. And there were tithes and taxes, too.

But it doesn't matter anyway because to actually participate in a non-Christian service is to give it far more sanction than to simply give money for building a building where such a service is conducted. The person is right there worshiping with the others!

And Islam has a higher view of Jesus than Judaism does, as I explained already too. Judaism has falsehood just as Islam does. And both contain truth.

When I GIVE money to someone without expecting to get anything back, I'm showing support.

When I worship with someone in a religion that has just rejected the Messiah and the Son of God (as the early Christians did), I am showing more "support" even than giving them money.

Try this experiment: sell a charitable organization a $10,000 van; and give a different charitable organization a $10,000 check. Would the two charities say the same thing about you? No!! The 1st would say, "Dave's ok. He sold us this van for $10k. Nice guy." The 2nd would say, "Dave is amazing!! He gave us $10k. That's 10 THOUSAND dollars!! He must REALLY love the work we're doing!!" And even if you didn't support what they were doing, you must see that some (maybe even most) could construe that you do. Don't you agree there's a difference in the two scenarios?

Yes, of course. But we're not just talking about different forms and levels of giving; also in this discussion is the question of whether acts of charity imply sanction or agreement with the religion of the one that is helped.

I say it (rather obviously) does not necessarily. You seem to think that it does. It's the falsehoods in the religion that you object to, so you don't want to give any money at all. I am saying that you can give money for reasons other than supporting the religion. It doesn't necessarily imply religious agreement at all.

Couldn't Meurer have come up with a better way to spend 500 Euros (like sponsoring the first "social" or helping needy Muslims pay their electricity bill) without donating the money to the mosque building fund?

See, now this is exactly what I am talking about. You use the value judgment "better." I don't see much difference. The Muslim knows that the Christian doesn't accept Islam anyway, and doesn't think otherwise just because he chipped into a building fund. The Christian (unless he is a liberal, indifferentist, wishy-washy type) knows this. Everyone pretty much knows.

I have no problem whatsoever with someone (like you) deciding as an individual, in good conscience, that he shouldn't contribute to such a fund. But it is a matter of conscience and not a moral absolute; this is where we differ. When you try to apply your own feelings on the matter to others and say they are wrong, you go astray, because you do so on insufficient grounds (and as it turns out, contrary to the relevant biblical examples).

The huge hang-up I have (and the place where I think the two are different) is that one is simply trading money for services without showing any intellectual ascent to their ideology and the other is (or at the very least can appear to be) supporting the organization's cause or showing that one believes in the cause of the organization.

This is your fallacy. It doesn't follow that one supports the religious view in so doing: not in its entirety. I used my own example of donating to a Protestant inner-city charity. As a Catholic I wouldn't agree with everything they do. In my mind I was donating to the inner-city work. That is the good cause I feel that I am furthering.

Same thing with Islam: one could give to a building fund on the grounds that this keeps Muslim kids on a morally straighter path; it promotes at least monotheism (and that is what Judaism is too); good family values, basic moral teachings ("do not steal," etc.) and so forth. One is supporting those things and showing charity towards a non-Christian neighbor.

Very few things in concrete, day-to-day life are absolutely clear-cut, morally and metaphysically perfect without any error or sin in them at all. We've discussed before on this blog how we all buy goods made in China. Well, China (a Communist country) has slave labor and forced abortions and atrocious persecution of Christians and other religions. We definitely help to keep that system going by massive purchases of their goods. It very well might collapse but for our huge financial support (while Taiwan, a civilized country, isn't even allowed into the United Nations, if I recall correctly).

You do that, I do it. I would venture to guess that 99.9% of people in America have items in their house that are made in China. Do you plan on getting rid of all that and not buying any more? Why do you keep supporting an evil, anti-religious governmental system by buying their products? You'll do that but you wouldn't give a dime to a mosque fund for pious Muslims to worship in?

This is a good example, I think, because it shows the complexity of cause and effect, and how we are all involved in such situations and how it would be quite difficult to be perfectly consistent.

Then there are the host of companies that fund the abortion industry. If we all stopped buying any products or using services that did that, or stopped watching TV shows that use these advertisers, etc., we'd have to make massive lifestyle changes. Abortion is absolutely evil. Yet virtually all of us are helping it to continue by unwitting purchases of products from companies that promote it. And every person who votes for pro-abortion politicians keeps the killing legal and societally- and legally-sanctioned.

It goes on and on. How about hospitals that perform abortions? Do you make sure that you go to one that doesn't? Etc., etc.

To RCs who don't attend church regularly, they might say, "I suppose the church is ok with Islam now. It's come to this, has it?" and be discouraged.

Ignorance will be with us till the end of time. The thing to do is to educate the ignorant and explain things; not cave in to the ignorance by not doing something that is perfectly acceptable just because they don't understand it.

"Jeb Protestant" asked:

Would you give money to the local Masonic lodge? Would you give money to the JWs [Jehovah's Witnesses] to help build a "kingdom hall"?
I wouldn't, personally. My reasoning would be that they are both corruptions of Christianity. But Islam is a different religion altogether and doesn't entail that sort of "false advertising." I have argued, remember, that this is a matter of conscience. I wouldn't say it is absolutely wrong to contribute to these either, but I wouldn't do it myself. Grubb, on the other hand, seems to be arguing that it is a matter of absolute right and wrong, and that one sanctions the religious beliefs of the group one contributes to, in so doing. I deny this, and my "fixing the toilet and the roof" examples were designed to show the difficulty of maintaining that point of view.


2 comments:

Unknown said...

Id like to be able to contact Grubb who posted re: contributing to bldg a mosque. Its a long shot since blog is dated march 25 2007. If possibe, if you could forward my email to him? Cyndiware1228@gmail.com i was impressed by his arguments and want to know if hes done any blogging of his own. Thanks!

Dave Armstrong said...

Try:

mike.grubb.01@facebook.com