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Islam's Onward March

Recent events in Iran have publicized the growing power of Islam in global politics. Some months ago a well-informed Christian writer on Middle East affairs made this pertinent observation "Two major causes of persecution of Christians in the world today are Communism and Muslim intolerance... In my opinion, within ten years the threat of Islam will be worse than Communism has ever been. History records that Islam almost exterminated the Church in large parts of the world, notably North Africa. And history repeats itself".

That is quite a startling assessment. No power on earth, of course, can ever prevail "against the LORD, and against His Anointed". Any such attempt will hurl its perpetrators against the rock of divine omnipotence (Psa. 2:1-9). And history also records that the persecution of Christians has a purifying rather than an exterminating result. God makes even the wrath of man to praise Him (Psa. 76:10). Nevertheless, the growth of Islamic power is a serious menace to practising Christians in Arab countries where they are denied freedom to worship.

A further note of warning is sounded by the writer noted above

"Today the Muslims are extending their activities throughout the Western world. Several million Muslims are now in Western countries. Some are guest labourers, others are students. Mohammed is the most common first name in the world".

The luxurious Great Central Mosque in Regent's Park, London, is a sinister reminder of Islam's growth and influence in Britain. There is great wealth behind the movement. Oil-rich Muslims devote vast resources to further their anti-Christian philosophy.

So Islam has gained a foremost place in the bewildering array of heretical 'isms' which flourish in the Western world. Some Christian workers, aware of the challenge, are concerned to meet it by reaching out to Muslims in our midst with the liberating gospel of Christ. Such a worthy enterprise will require a basic knowledge of Muslim philosophy, and of the techniques most likely to succeed in gaining a hearing for the gospel. Those embarking on it will need to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves". The weapons of our warfare are the Word of God and the love of Christ, "with all prayer and supplication" (Eph. 6:18).

I noted recently in the religious press a letter deploring the spirit of apathy among professing Christians towards the rapid spread of such heresies as the one which has been the subject of this comment. The charge is justified. Grave error is tolerated under the guise of Christian 'charitableness'. It has been said, "We Christians are too tolerant. We are afraid of persecution - therefore we avoid confrontation. And by avoiding confrontation, we fail to preach the gospel aggressively... We must not just defend - we must attack". Error does not go away by being ignored.

"Thou shalt not"

In last month's article in the series, "the Gospel and its Ministry", reference was made to the shallow conception of sin which is an outstanding characteristic of this permissive age. This month in the article which begins on page 52 our co-worker deals with "Repentance and Faith". These are consequential in God's dealings with the awakened sinner. There can be no repentance apart from conviction of sin. 'Repentance' is sometimes confused with 'penitence'. In its biblical sense it may include penitence but it is much more. We commend to readers the careful exposition of the word 'repentance' in our present issue.

In the February issue of Needed Truth J.L. Ferguson quoted the definition of sin contained in the Westminster Confession: "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God". Time was, a few decades ago, when children in our schools were taught to repeat by heart the ten commandments. Today, it is to be feared that there is widespread ignorance of God's standards of right and wrong. In this regard readers in the United Kingdom may have noted a praiseworthy attempt to rectify this deficiency. A series of striking posters in bold format, displaying in turn each of the ten commandments, is appearing on the notice boards of many church premises. Obviously, the idea is to space them so that each is displayed for a period long enough to achieve maximum impact. There will, no doubt, be much prayer that the cumulative result will lead many to cry in conscious need, "God, be merciful to me a sinner".