Editorial: National Cathedral’s first Muslim prayer service should prompt response of love, not fear

On Nov. 14, the halls of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., echoed with an unfamiliar sound as a Muslim call to prayer reverberated from the ornamented walls and high vaulted ceilings of the historic place of worship.

The landmark Episcopal cathedral has hosted many national events and has welcomed people of all religions, Islam included, for multiple interfaith services. So it was not altogether surprising when the cathedral’s leadership invited Muslims in to lead a prayer service of their own.

In fact, it ties perfectly with religious liberals’ desire for unity and tolerance among all faiths. The National Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell, who organized the service, spoke of “building bridges,” saying, “Let us stretch our hearts and let us seek to deepen mercy, for we worship the same God.”

Although some think this statement sounds good, it is flawed theology. We do not worship the same God, and it’s impossible for Christians and Muslims to live in perfect unity for, as II Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

So how do we respond to this development in Christian/Muslim relations? Do we react as the one woman who sneaked into the service to disrupt the prayers with shouts of “Get out of our church! Leave our church alone!”? Or do we go along with the national movement toward tolerance and inclusivity? After all, isn’t religious freedom one of the reasons our forefathers founded this nation in the first place?

It’s true that religious freedom is one of America’s most highly prized virtues. But in our day, the concept of religious freedom has spread well past its bounds to the point where any clear distinction between religions is counted as discrimination.

Then comes the temptation to join one of two extremes: complete support and tolerance of all religions, Islam included, or ostracizing those whose faith differs from our own. And neither of these is a godly course of action.

We ought instead to boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel, not in hostility, but in love.

And doing so is much more difficult than it sounds. In carrying out this mandate of the Gospel, we are often plagued by fear — fear of rejection by the liberal mainstream and fear of backlash from the Muslim community.  We fear what people will say or think if we stand on our faith, and we fear our witness will be in vain.

But there is a biblical antidote to this fear: love. II Timothy 1:7-8 provides these encouraging words: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”

It is not through fear that we will see a change in America’s Christian/Muslim relations, but through unashamedly reaching out in love and sharing the testimony of our Lord. It isn’t enough to oppose a pluralistic approach to religion. Our Muslim acquaintances need Jesus Christ.

So let us take a stand for the Gospel while also reaching out in love to bring America’s lost Muslims to Christ.