By Richard Mather…
For several years a number of conservative Christian evangelicals have warned of a new (and heretical) doctrine dubbed Chrislam which, as the name suggests, is a hybrid of Christianity and Islam. At first glance, the idea seems preposterous and alarmist. But there is growing evidence that some kind of pernicious cooperation between some Christians and Muslims is really happening. And it’s not good news for the Jews.
Strictly speaking, Chrislam is a syncretistic religion of Nigerian origin that combines Islam and Christianity. Established in the 1970s, the followers of Chrislam recognise both the Bible and the Quran as holy texts. In its strictest sense, the religion is very local and only commands around 1,500 members. But in recent years, the merger of Christianity and Islam is happening on a wide scale in the West, particularly in the United States where several bridge-building exercises between the two religions have been implemented.
Christians and Muslims for Peace (CAMP) is an organisation that devotes itself to discovering common ground between the two religions through an exploration of the Quran and the Bible. Based in California, CAMP is led by Dr William Baker, the former chairman of the neo-Nazi Populist Party. In 2002, Baker was fired from Crystal Cathedral Ministries when his anti-Semitic inclinations and ties to the Far Right were exposed by the media. Obviously, CAMP is not committed to peaceful cooperation with the Jewish people.
In 2007, an open letter entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You” was published by a group of Muslim leaders. It opens with the lines, “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.” A large number of Christians responded positively to the statement. The most highly publicised response, called “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” was written by four academics from the University of Yale. The response included the lines: “Before we ‘shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”
In 2009, Rick Warren, the well-known evangelical author and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C. The convention was organised by Islamic Society of North America, which champions terrorist organisations and disseminates extremist literature. Since then, Warren has been involved in an initiative called the King’s Way, a partnership with a number of California mosques, which involves the establishment of a set of principles outlining the shared principles of Islam and Christianity, including the declaration that both faiths worship the same God.
The year 2009 also saw the publication of the notorious Kairos Palestine Document, which was subtitled “A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” The Kairos document, which can be found on the World Council of Churches website, speaks on behalf of Christian and Muslim Arabs, who apparently share a “deeply rooted” history and a “natural right” to the land. In contrast, Israel is deemed an alien entity that only exists because of Western guilt over the Holocaust. The document praises the first intifada, referring to it as a “peaceful struggle.” Terrorism, while not exactly sanctioned, is excused on the grounds that Israel is ultimately responsible for Palestinian acts of violence against Jewish civilians.
Meanwhile, a number of Christians including the anti-Semitic Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer, Presbyterian writer Gary Burge (who has criticised Judaism’s “territorial world view”) and Professor Donald Wagner, have participated in events sponsored by the Bridges of Faith (an evangelical Christian-Muslim dialogue group) and the Muslim World Islamic Call Society, which until recently was funded by the now-defunct Gaddafi regime in Libya. On the Bridges of Faith website, the dialogue group states that it “looks forward to a day when we can make our deliberations public through the publication of papers, open meetings and media outreach in order to spread the message of tolerance and commonality of values to a wider community of grass-roots groups, as well as a wider community of inter-religious dialogue.” It is highly unlikely that “the message of tolerance” will extend to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Of course, the background to Chrislam is the removal of the Bible from its Judaic matrix. By stripping the Bible of its Jewishness, Chrislamists neutralise the prophetic significance of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The theological underpinning of Chrislamism is a rebranded version of replacement theology in which the Jews have no prophetic relevance.
When Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat made his first Christmas appearance in Bethlehem in 1995, he invoked the Christian nativity by crying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” To which the crowd responded, “In spirit and blood we will redeem thee, O Palestine!”
Bethlehem obviously held a special place in Arafat’s heart. Not because he had any special love for Jesus and Christianity but because it was a political rallying point. Bethlehem, according to Arafat, was the “birthplace of the first Palestinian Christian, Jesus Christ.”
Arafat’s reference to the nativity is obviously a ploy to unite Muslims and Christian Arabs against Israel. In and of itself, this is unspectacular, but when placed in the wider context of Islamic replacement theology, the (mis)use of Jesus is sinister. Arafat not only proclaimed that Jesus was a Palestinian but is “our Lord the Messiah,” which is an astonishing statement for a Muslim to make. Referring to Jesus as Lord is to detract from the strict monotheism of the faith, a grave sin known as shirk.
The appropriation of the crucifixion by Muslim Palestinians in their war on Israel is puzzling. The image of the crucified Palestinian/Jesus is a common propaganda motif. And yet the Quran says that Jesus wasn’t put on the cross but was raised up to heaven. So not only are Muslims committing an act of apostasy by referring to Jesus as “our Lord” they are even refuting their own sacred scripture by claiming Jesus was a crucified Palestinian.
Other times, Jesus is referred to as a Shahid, a holy martyr of Islam. Arafat often referred to Jesus as the first Palestinian martyr, which is historically incorrect and is at odds with Islamic tradition. There are no references to Jesus as a Shahid in Islamic works, and it is impossible for Jesus to be a martyr if he did not die on the cross, which is the view of the Quran.
As well as being a heretical version of both Christianity and Islam, Chrislam presents a danger to the Jewish people.
Of all the anti-Israel discourses that exist today, Chrislam is perhaps one of the most disturbing. Disturbing because it wants to de-Judaize both Jesus and the Bible, and because it wants to neutralise Jewish identity and history. Moreover, the remarkable post-Holocaust reconciliation of Jews and Christians is being undermined by the emerging cooperation between left-wing evangelicals and jihadi Muslims, both of whom hold unsavoury attitudes towards Jews and Israel.
Ironically, Chrislam is entirely self-defeating. If God no longer honours his covenant with the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, then the foundations of both Christianity and Islam collapse. A God who changes his mind about the people of the covenant, i.e. the Jews, is no longer the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus or even Mohammed.