This post is the culmination of a series of posts. For your convenience, I list them all here:
- Reading the Camel: Before
- Of Muslims and Mormons
- Of Muslims and Mohammed
- Of Muslims and Mohammed: Redux
- Of Muslims and Mars Hill
- Of Muslims and Middle-Eastern Culture
- This Post: Of Muslims and Mohler's Triage
The results of my July sidebar poll were overwhelming. More than 97% of respondents believed that reverence of Mohammed as a prophet and of the Qur'an as valid scripture were incompatible with Christianity. To become a Christian necessarily involves, for the Muslim, the rejection of the prophet Mohammed and the Qur'an—or at least so say I and most of you. The book The Camel does not include these concepts in its presentation of the gospel to Muslims.
So, this is an issue dealing with the very nature of the gospel. A bona fide tier-one issue.
Obviously, I have no problem with taking a stand on tier-two issues. I'm even willing to offer a forceful opinion on tier-three issues, although these ought not to mark denominational boundaries. Anything in the Bible is worthy of discussion and our earnest attempts to understand it. But we're constantly chided for daring to acknowledge the existence of genuine tier-two issues. We're told that we should only draw lines on tier-one issues—only in connection with the gospel itself.
Well, here, by definition, is a tier-one issue. I am not asserting thereby that every question regarding the Camel has been definitively settled, but I am asserting that the subject matter is the very nature of the gospel. This is a tier-one question.
I've found myself wondering often whether the "irenic" among us really want to discuss even tier-one issues—whether there is an implicit and false presumption that tier-one issues were all settled long ago and therefore that the task of earnestly contending for the faith does not remain for us today.
In a comment on an earlier post on this blog, Wade Burleson made me aware that items concerning the Camel have come to the table in IMB board meetings. Here is an example of a tier-one issue coming before one of our trustee boards. I have completed my analysis of the Camel, and will leave the ball entirely in other people's courts—Greeson's to make revisions, the IMB's to reconsider its endorsement, other missionaries to share how they correct the Camel in their practice, someone to demonstrate where the Camel is incompatible with C5 and C6, someone to make a convincing case for the compatibility of Christianity with revering Mohammed and the Qur'an, etc.
As I watch how other people deal with this issue (or ignore it altogether), it will tell me a lot about whether people are opposed to needless division only, or whether they are simply opposed to certain personalities, or even to the idea of theological distinctives at all. Certainly there exists the temptation to take every question, even a tier-one issue, and sweep it all into the category of tier-three. This temptation is especially pronounced among ecumenists, as evidenced by the current status of the World Council of Churches. Let us remember that they did not start out where they are today, but eventually succumbed to the temptation to demote biblical doctrine to the category of adiaphora in virtually all cases. Dr. Mohler had a name for the result of succumbing to that temptation. Let us pray that any advance of such an approach will fall to defeat within the Southern Baptist Convention (and indeed, wherever it may be advanced).