Interview with Don Richardson, Part IV

IV. Islam

 

A few more questions, on a slightly different topic, if you still have time.

 

Yes.

 

Why are you so hostile to Islam?

 

Well, because the foundations of it are so . . . unworthy? And violent, and even immoral? The fact that there is a majority of Muslims who are moderate, nice people, good neighbors – and I’ve got some here, where I live – does not attest to the validity of Mohammed and the Koran. They are manifesting a higher level of morality than the one they call a prophet – a morality of (more) good sense and neighborliness than the Koran advocates.

 

It’s not that I’m hostile to Muslims. But I’m hostile to a false prophet – a man who included in the Koran 109 jihad verses, calling for his followers to behead people like you and me. Cut off our fingertips if we don’t submit.

 

There are some verse in the Bible that I’d almost rather were not in there, about doing things to the Canaanites.

 

You’ve read Secrets of the Koran, and you know how I respond to that.

 

Ye s – you don’t necessarily need to repeat that. But let me ask the question this way. Let me play the Devil’s Advocate for the moment. Some people might say, ‘If Don Richardson can find redemptive analogies among headhunters in New Guinea, why can’t we use the verses in the Koran that talk about the ‘Breath of God’ and the ‘Messiah’ to persuade people to Christ? Or would you oppose that sort of a missionary approach?

 

There are missionaries who use things like that, and other things I could mention. But there is a problem. Even though Mohammed acknowledged the virgin birth of Jesus, and credited him as a prophet a profound miracle-worker, and someone who was going to judge the world at the end of the age – he denied the most important thing – the crucifixion of Jesus. He denied our Lord’s atoning death. So there are Muslims that have become Christians because of things such as you just mentioned. But the problem is, more and more Muslims are being taught through the radical Madrassa school system, that don’t believe when Christians quote this verse or this verse. They say that Jesus was crucified and Mohammed in chapter 4 denied the crucifixion. Mohammed interpreted reports of the crucifixion of Jesus as the result of the Jews, by means of mistaken identity, crucifying someone else – they thought it was probably Judas getting his just deserts.

 

But those headhunters in New Guinea – their cultural waters weren’t anymore pure than that river . . .

 

But the thing is, there is nothing in the animistic system that denies the need for the atonement. It acknowledges the need for an atonement. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism acknowledge the need for an atonement. Islam denies it.

 

So you see Islam as uniquely . . .

 

Anti-atonement.

 

Theologically, why would one religion be unique in its opposition to Christianity?

 

I’m going to give you my answer. I posit it this way. God seeded the cultures of mankind, beginning thousands of years ago, with redemptive analogies. I made brief reference to the Upside Down Tree in the Vedas. There’s an ancient prophesy that ‘Somewhere in the world there’s a tree that is upside down because it is rooted in heaven. It goes down from heaven towards the earth . . . (side one of tape ends, some material lost here . . . ) For the healing of mankind.

 

David, this is beautiful. Fruit from the branches, and healing sap from a wound in the side. This acknowledges the atonement. What a beautiful thing to use for Hindus in India.

 

This and other things point to a necessary sacrifice. A Sawi father sacrificing the privilege of raising his own son by giving his son away to an enemy father to make peace acknowledges the principle of sacrifice. And the Yali denying himself his perceived right to kill and enemy because that enemy is standing on sacred ground – that sacred ground has to be honored. I sacrifice my feelings, my lust for vengeance, to honor this thing. That idea of sacrifice comes through. But when Mohammed denied the crucifixion of Jesus, it’s like the Evil One saw what God had done to prepare the cultures of the world for the redemptive message to be brought at a later time. So the Evil One said, ‘If that’s God’s strategy, I’m going to neutralize it. I’m going to invent something and spread it out across the earth which will not have a redemptive analogy, which will negate the thing that a redemptive analogy must point to.

 

But can’t you find images of sacrifice in Islam? And can’t you find other religions that oppose central Christian doctrines?

 

Yeah, but they still acknowledge – I mean, Israel still has its Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. And in Buddhism there are traditions about Arayana Maitreya: the one who suffers, he has wounds in his hands and feet. Mainly the thing that would oppose would be atheism, or maybe agnosticism. When you speak of religions, Islam is designed to be unapproachable by the redemptive analogy method. That puts it in a unique category.

 

Not all Muslims know Mohammed – the supposed prophet – denies the crucifixion of Jesus. A lot of Muslims who don’t know that have been brought to the Lord. And then, of course, once they experience the goodness of Christ, it’s too late for another Muslim to come in and say, ‘You became a Christian on the basis of something you shouldn’t believe in.’ The guy’s already in the grace of God.

 

Did your book on the Koran come as a big surprise to a lot of people who had read your other books?

 

Yes. But a lot of these began to say, ‘Now it makes sense why Islam is the most difficult system to approach with the Gospel.’ It’s like a firewall.

 

So because the Evil One through Mohammed and the Koran raised that firewall, to separate the hearts of Muslims from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have to find a way to pierce the firewall. What I recommend in Secrets of the Koran is, we need to become like Socrates. We have to be Christian Socrates. We have to learn to ask Muslims leading questions that help them to discover on their own the fact that Mohammed discredited himself. The Koran is a self-discrediting book.

 

Right after 9/11, there seemed to be more of a defensive tone to Secrets of the Koran than your other books. You’re thinking about protecting Western civilization even more, maybe, than reaching out with the Gospel cross-culturally.

 

If I have a motivation to protect western civilization, guess what the main thing is, David? Where are most of the missionaries going out from? Where is most of the support for missionaries coming from?

 

Western civilization needs to be protected, I certainly don’t disagree with that. But isn’t there a danger in becoming defensive in tone, rather than being optimistic and outward-reaching?

 

I urge Christians, if you live near a Muslim, invite them to your home! If a Muslim moves into the community, be the one who shows him where the post office is, the bank is, talk to them. And lots of Christians are doing this.

 

I’ll look forward to seeing your new book! When it is due out again?

 

Possibly in late February, and hopefully in March at the latest.

 

How will it be available?

 

On my website, initially. But Zulon . . . will be answering orders from bookstores.

Amazon will probably pick it up, and then later it may be picked up by a major publisher – we’ll see what happens. You’ll find it very different from my first four books.

 

By the way, David, I want to say to listeners how much I recommend your book, True Son of Heaven.

 

You’ve sold probably a thousand copies of it so far!

 

Yes, I’ll be selling more! As the Lord gives me strength to go and speak about missions.

 

I very much appreciate that . . .

 

Well, Don, I really appreciate you taking time to talk with me.

 

I appreciate your interest in calling me to the interview.