Recently, Fox News published an article entitled, Churches Open Doors to Muslim Worship. The article starts out with these words:
They see it as their Christian duty. But others disagree, saying it extends the hand of fellowship where it was never intended to go.
Two Protestant churches are taking some heat from critics for opening their church buildings to Muslims needing places to worship because their own facilities were either too small, or under construction.
One of these two churches, Heartsong, happens to be from my hometown of Memphis-Cordova, TN. Steve Stone, Heartsong’s senior pastor, wrote in Christianity Today that:
“No thought at all was given to the political ramifications … The decision was firmly based only on our understanding of the mission and nature of the church.” He also pointed out that “there was no trading of theologies. They are Muslims; we are Jesus followers; both of us are clear about that.”
As a counter to this response, Dr. Alex McFarland, theologian and radio talk show, claims:
“We as the church are called to show love, we’re called to help. But to let a building simultaneously be used for the activities of a mosque and also the activities of Jesus Christ, it’s just incompatible. And I think it’s one more example of political correctness and hyper-tolerance gone awry.”
This will increasingly become a sensitive issue to address amongst the church. We will still discuss and debate such important current issues as gender roles in leadership and homosexuality. But how Christians interact with those of other religions and faiths shall come to the forefront more and more.
What are you thoughts? Should Christian churches allow or not allow Muslims (or those of other religions) to utilise their building for worship gatherings and other activities?
I can’t see anything wrong with it biblically. We are not a brick and mortar building. Holiness has nothing to do with a congregation but always about the individual. We are individually responsible for our eternal legacy, not our meeting place. The eternal is what ultimately matters.
This guy I know likes to talk about how the church (ecclesia) isn’t a building, or a service on Sundays… it is a community of people that might just happen to use a building for meeting from time to time (perhaps on Sundays). So, assuming this guy is right, what’s the problem? It’s just a building.
Sounds like this guy is an ok chap.
I see nothing objectionable in this at all. I even think it could be a good opportunity to suggest doing some social activities together and maybe even setting up a dialogue session.
I know Christians who work with refugees here in Birmingham many who are Muslim and use church premises for social activities all the time. This is just going one step further in hospitality.
To me it just appears to be a bit mean to object to another faith using one your rooms. I could understand some objections if it was a joint worship service which reading the article it definitely isn’t. I do sometimes wonder if people read beyond the headlines!
I think this raises a further question of what our buildings are for. I think so many church buildings are wasted. They stand empty for most of the time. The main reason I can see to have a building is to engage the community, using it for community based projects and serve the community with places that they can use.
Good thoughts. I will reserve more of my thoughts for a post probably next week. Just still wanting other’s feedback.
I certainly wouldn’t want to have this happen in a church that I was a part of. If we believe that Jesus is truly “the way, the truth, and the life,” it seems to be a contradiction to me to allow the use of our building for poeple to worship God in a way that is totally contradictory to that. In a way that doesn’t even recognize that Jesus is God. It seems to me to be a way of enabling people in beliefs that we understand to be totally wrong.
Sure sounds like a nice, friendly, tolerant ‘Christian’ thing to do. And I guess if they were worshiping the same God it would be okay, but they don’t. Their doctrine is extreme from Christianity. They worship Mohamed who is their Allah, right? It’s not about the building itself either, but what is being ‘brought’ into it spiritually speaking.
@Scott: I think it’s great.
“But to let a building simultaneously be used for the activities of a mosque and also the activities of Jesus Christ, it’s just incompatible.”
This line of reasoning makes no sense to me. Is the fear that we’re going to “catch Muslim” from all the cooties that are left behind? That’s plain superstition. Or is the idea that, if we tell the Muslims to screw off and use someone else’s building, they’ll be moved by our Christlike compassion and convert to our religion?
No one cares about the wide variety of student groups that meet in various buildings on college campuses. A church building is no different — it’s a box of wood and stone that humans gather in because they don’t want to get wet when it rains. Actually, there is one difference: A church building spends more time empty.
@Vickie – Muslims don’t worship Mohammed. He is not their Allah. “Allah” means “god”; they consider Mohammed a prophet.
It would be incompatible in my mind because as Christians we are to be futhering the belief in Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life.” Why should we be doing anything that enables people to worship in a way that totally denies that reality?
As Christians we are totally exclusive in our beliefs even if that is completely politically incorrect. So why would we want to say in effect, “Here use our building to further your views which totally go against what we believe to be exclusive truth.”
Makes no sense to me.
We clearly disagree on a more fundamental level than is relevant to the topic of this blog post, so I won’t waste any more space.
I’m trying to remember the passage of Scripture where the worshipers of Baal were allowed to use the Jewish temple.
replying to myself…the above comment is from someone who thinks church buildings are often a symptom of Christians building monuments to themselves and sometimes amount to so much wasted money that could have been better used.
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Where I worshipped in the 2nd Infantry Division on Camp Casey, Korea (in the early 90’s), you had chaplains of all kinds including Muslims. I don’t think that having Muslims and Christians using the same house of worship as being theologically anything other than an interesting opportunity to promote dialogue and reduce tensions of fear of “the other”.