Current Events

Christians Fasting for Ramadan

Brian McLaren

A recent USA Today story discusses well-known Christian Brian McLaren and a small group of Christians who are joining with Muslims in their observance of Ramadan fasts.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In announcing his Ramadan fast plans on his blog last month, McLaren wrote, “We are not doing so in order to become Muslims: we are deeply committed Christians. But as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them.” The goal is to join Muslims in the observance as “a God-honoring expression of peace, fellowship and neighborliness,” he wrote.

McLaren, a former pastor, said his Ramadan fast is also part of his post-9-11 worldview.

“Some Christians in the U.S. are becoming more anti-Muslim,” he said in an interview. “They are retrenching in a fearful, angry posture. Other Christians are saying now, in the aftermath of Sept. 11, we have to recommit ourselves to the work of peacemaking like never before. That has been my response.”

Critics speaking out against this kind of interfaith experiment include Pastor Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

“The logic of Islam is obedience and submission,” Mohler said. “It’s by following these practices that a Muslim demonstrates his obedience to the rule of the law through the Quran. For a Christian to do the same automatically implies a submission to the same rule. And beyond that, it’s an explicit affirmation that this is a good and holy thing. From a New Testament perspective, it is not a good and holy thing.”

Christians should have friendships with people of other faith, but engaging in other traditions’ worship practices is problematic, said Mark Driscoll, lead preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll said that in this case, Christians and Muslims fast for different purposes and do not worship the same God.

Christians observing a Ramadan fast is “insane at best … Sad, tragic, horrific, misguided, dangerous, wrong,” Driscoll said. “If Christians want to pray during Ramadan, they should pray not with Muslims but for Muslims — that Muslims would come to know Jesus. To pray with Muslims absolutely dishonors Jesus.”

What do you think? Where is “the line” one must not cross in building interfaith bridges? Can people of different faiths engage together in similar practices or rituals (e.g., fasting) while having different reasons, motivations and purposes to them? Do you share Mohler and Driscoll’s concerns?

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