Friday, February 10, 2006

Mohammed Cartoons, Mockery and Shame

Mohammed Cartoons
The reaction to the now-infamous Mohammed cartoons published by a Danish newspaper seem to be not so much an outcry over the depiction of Mohammed in image (for that has been done for centuries and sometimes by Muslims themselves) but rather a lashout against the perceived mockery of their beliefs. One of the cartoons showed Mohammed standing on a cloud, greeting dead suicide bombers with "Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins!", an allusion to the promised reward to Muslims who got themselves killed for Allah.


The severe reaction to perceived mockery could stem in part from the way in which Islam views humiliation. Islamic thinking, it appears, does not take kindly to being laughed at and shamed. So, for example, most Muslims do not believe that it was actually Jesus who was crucified on the cross.

Says the Koran:
...they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah, but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. (Qur'an 4:157)

Regarding Crucifixion of Jesus: And for their unbelief, and their uttering against Mary a mighty calumny, and for their saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God'...yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him, they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they did not slay him of certainty... no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is Almighty, All-Wise. There is not one of the people of the Book [Bible] but will assuredly believe in him before his death, and on the Resurrection Day [at the end of time] he will be a witness against them. (Qur'an 4:156-159)
And so John Piper quotes some Muslim authors as claiming,"We honour [Jesus] more than you [Christians] do...we refuse to believe that God would permit him to suffer death on the cross", and "Allah saved Jesus from the ignominy of crucifixion". They cannot accept that a Messenger from God could/would be dishonoured in that most horrible way.

How different this is from the Christian view of the crucifixion. For Christians, the mission of Jesus was meant by God to be one of humiliation; this was predicted in the Psalms (Psalm 22:7) and in Isaiah (Isaiah 50:6, 53:3, 53:7). And the final public shame of the cross called, not for the embarrassed denial by his followers, but for their acknowledgement. And more than that, their praise and adoration, not in morbid sadomasochistic obsession like some Roman Catholics and a cult called "The Blood" who dwell on every gruesome detail, but for our salvation for which Jesus was made shame (Matthew 26:67, Hebrews 12:2).

Shame is somehow linked to sin. For when God created man and woman, they stood naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). But after they first rebelled against God and broke the relationship of trust with God and between themselves, the sense of shame, of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, and disgrace quickly manifested, and they hid from each other behind fig leaves and hid from God (Genesis 3:7-8).

But as Christians who have been promised persecution and sharing in the sufferings of our Master, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10, 2 Timothy 1:8), we are not to be ashamed; neither of gospel nor about the testimony of our Lord (2 Timothy 1:8) for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). For belief and trust in God is the opposite of sinning and rebelling against God. Therefore, the consequences of that must be the opposite of shame. And we know whom we have believed, and we are convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:12). Trust in a man who has been shamed and spat on and crucified seems utterly foolish and weak. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25).

So if there is any shame that we are to fear, it is the shame of being found by God on the Last Day of not correctly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) or worse, of not being known by God because of our unbelief (cf Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, Hebrews 2:11, 11:16) and being left to our eternal destruction.

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At February 11, 2006 11:27 am , Blogger Peter Shaw said...

Very well said...a key phrase in your post is where the Muslims say "we refuse to believe..." A very common error made by man to try and use their own intellect to try and 'figure out' the ways of a supreme God. It is the insane notion of the clay telling the potter how his profession out to be conducted. The human mind: so small and so deceived.

May God continue to use you richly.

Respectfully Submitted
Peter Shaw

At February 13, 2006 3:33 pm , Anonymous Free Speech! said...

Tim Blair has the cartoons in larger sizes.


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