LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Extremists may kill innocent people in the name of Allah, but that is not the ultimate danger of the Islamic faith, says R. Albert Mohler Jr.
The biggest danger, Mohler says, is that Islam presents a false gospel, a false god and a false salvation.
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke about Islam, Judaism and the Christian faith during a chapel message titled "Theology Matters" Oct. 17 on the Louisville, Ky., campus. The message was part of Heritage Week, which is held each fall to celebrate the nearly 150 years of Christian education at the school.
Preaching from Isaiah 44, Mohler noted that in recent days theologians, media members and the general public have been debating whether Islam itself is to be blamed for the attacks of Sept. 11. Mohler, though, said Christians should be focused on a different issue -- the eternal consequences of the Muslim faith.
"I'm no specialist in Islamic theology," he said. "I'll let those who are debate whether or not there is that kind of militancy and warrior culture within Islamic theology. But I want to say as a Christian theologian, the biggest problem with Islamic theology is that it kills the soul.
"The bigger problem with Islam is not that there are those who will kill the body in its name, but that it lies about God [and] presents a false gospel, an un-gospel," Mohler said, acknowledging, "These are difficult things to say. This is not polite."
If the God of the Bible is to be believed, Mohler argued, then Christians have no choice but to speak the truth about other religions, including Islam and Judaism. Mohler pointed to Matthew 10:28, where Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Mohler also quoted John 14:9, where Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father."
"It is often said -- in fact it is now routinely claimed -- that Muslims worship the same God as the Jews and the Christians," Mohler said.
But, Mohler said, Christians do not serve the same God as that of Jews and Muslims, for the Jews have rejected Christ and the Muslims have replaced the God of the Bible with Allah.
"That's a very difficult statement," he said. "We believe that there is one God who has revealed himself in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We must be very clear that to reject Jesus Christ is to reject the Father. [That] is so politically incorrect. It breaks all the rules of American etiquette. ... But if the Christian church will not be clear about the Christian gospel, who will?"
The Christian God, Mohler said, is the only God, and he is known savingly through Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone.
"On what authority would we possibly say such impolite things?" Mohler asked. "There is only one authority, and that is the authority of God's inerrant and infallible Word. ... There is no arrogance in this, for it is not ours. We are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We live to his glory, we testify of his gospel and we live under the authority of his Word."
Mohler told the chapel audience the Christian church must be unequivocal about its beliefs. While spiritual matters have been discussed openly since Sept. 11, much of it reflects religious pluralism, which holds that all religions are equal and all paths lead to the same god.
"Theology's back on the front pages," he said. "It's back in the headlines. It's back in the news. It's back on the street. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, theology came riding on four airliners filled with human beings, filled with hate and filled with fuel."
Mohler noted that the terrorists based their acts on a theological interpretation of Islam.
"The terrorists did not crash those planes and kill thousands in the name of modern secularism, after all," he said. "They were not prophets of postmodern deconstructionism. They committed those acts in the name of Allah."
For years, Mohler said, secularists have argued that the more humans discovered about the world, the less the world would need God.
"According to the worldview of the secularist, theology will have less and less meaning," he said. "The secular world has been at least partially awakened to a fact, and that fact is that theology matters."
When theology is being discussed, it is imperative that the Christian church speak with clarity, Mohler said.
"The Christian church had better think very clearly about this," he said. "For too long liberal theologians have treated theology like an abstract art, with merely symbolic value. 'Make your doctrines pretty and palatable,' they argue, 'so that they may be readily accepted by the world.'"
However, Mohler noted, on the other extreme, Christians base "their Christianity upon experience without any doctrinal foundation or doctrinal substance. They are looking constantly for a new experience to reinforce their faith and to give them a spiritual thrill."
The prophet Isaiah, Mohler told the audience, knew that theology mattered. Mohler read from Isaiah 44, where the Old Testament prophet poked fun at an idolater's actions. The idolater took half of one tree and made fuel for a fire - with which he baked bread - then took the other half of the same tree and made an idol for worship.
"The prophet Isaiah simply minces no words," Mohler said. "The passage is dripping with obvious sarcasm. Isaiah looks at the idolaters, and is amazed that they cannot see what they are doing for what it is - a massive exercise in self delusion."
Much like the days of Isaiah, today's world presents many idols, but there is only one God, Mohler said.
"There is a fundamental choice that must be made and will be made between the God of the Bible - the one true and living God - and the idols of this age," Mohler said. "But if God is God, if the gospel is the gospel and if this is God's Word, we have no choice."
This message can be heard on the seminary's web page at http://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/chapelfall2001.html