|A phenomenal situation is occurring throughout the world. Yet few recognize what is happening, and fewer realize the significance of this movement. I hate to call it a movement, but I don’t know how else to categorize it.
Christianity is on the decline. Islam is on the rise.
Paul warns us in 2 Thessalonians 2 the revealing of the anti-Christ will be preceded by a movement. He writes, “for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” In Europe and the USA, Christianity has been on the decline for decades, but is accelerating more in recent days. From 2001-2011, those who claimed no religious affiliation grew by 55% in Europe. Many of these abandoned Christianity. At the same time, the number of Muslims in Europe grew significantly. A similar pattern can be seen in the USA, with those who formerly claimed to be Christian turning away to atheism, agnosticism or embracing another non-Christian faith. The result of this has been the closing of churches with many of them turning into mosques.
Churches turning into mosques
Not long ago, Saint Matthews Catholic Church in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts was sold to a group of Muslims who wanted to turn it into a mosque. The church’s parishioners approved of the sale, because they wanted to ensure the building remained a “house of worship.” In August 2015, Holy Trinity Church in Syracuse, NY closed its doors and was sold to a group of Muslims who turned it into a mosque and raised funds to have six crosses towering above the roofline removed. The church had been a landmark for over a hundred years. These are but a few examples of many I could cite.
Christian College sold to Muslims
Just this month, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, was sold to Zaytuna College, the nation’s first Islamic college with an accredited degree program. In an interview, Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball said “We are delighted that the property is going to another nonprofit, faith-based educational institution.”
Churches opening doors to Muslim Worship
A few years back St. James Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, Scotland became the first church in that nation to open its doors to Muslim worshippers. The nearby mosque had outgrown its capacity to accommodate the growing population of Muslims showing up for Friday prayers. The church’s minister saw devout Muslims praying in the rain and wanted to do something about it. “The Bible teaches us how we should treat our neighbors,” he said. “Praying is never wrong. My job is to encourage people to pray.”
In June of 2016, the Presbyterian Church USA kicked off its general assembly meeting with these words:
“In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, let us praise the Lord … Peace be upon them and peace be upon Allah. Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path-the path of all prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.”
In January 2017, the Minneapolis chapter of the Council of American-Islamic relations (CAIR) opened new offices in a section of Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. The Rev. Mike Matson, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, said the congregation has parishioners from across the political spectrum and strives to be open and “willing to come to the middle … where it’s messy, but safely and with integrity.”
Growth of Islam in the USA while Christianity Declines
From 2001 to 2010, the number of mosques in America increased by over 70%, from just over 1,200 in 2001 to over 2,100 by the year 2010. This rate of growth has not subsided.
What is the answer?
While the church is waiting for Jesus to come down, He is waiting for the church to stand up! What does it mean for the church to stand up? What needs to be done?
1. Pastors who Preach The Word! In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the word both in season and out of season. One prevailing factor in the decline of Christianity today is that fewer and fewer pastors and ministers are preaching and teaching the Bible. Christians only grow and their faith strengthened when they are taught the Word of God by leaders who are faithful to teach the unadulterated Bible. But many ministers today are failing in this area, instead focusing on a feel-good message about how you can have your best life now, or how God will bless you with wealth and health if you just send them your money. The church by and large is weak and ineffective because those charged with building up Christians are failing in their duty.
2. Do the work of an evangelist. The Great Commission is not optional for those who claim the name of Christ. Sharing the gospel message of Christ, not only with Muslims but the world, should be paramount. In particular with Muslims, it is the only long-term effective solution; all other solutions being suggested today are simply stepping stones along the way. We will ONLY know world peace when every Muslim knows the Prince of Peace.
3. Be a watchman on the wall. Ezekiel 33:1-6 tells of our responsibility to warn others of their impending peril. This can be applied in several areas. When we see peril coming on the land (the decline of Christianity and the rise of Islam, for example) and fail to sound the warning, God will hold us accountable. When we know others are on the road to an eternity in hell, such as Muslims, and fail to warn them, if we know we should say something and fail to do so, God will hold us accountable. It is not hateful to sound the warning of an ideology that seeks to subvert and destroy, it is Biblical. It is not hateful to tell others they are on the wrong road to eternal life; it is Biblical. Be a watchman on the wall. Sound the warnings required.
For us personally, the greatest challenge we face is not with Islam and Muslims. The greatest challenge we face in ministry is getting pastors and ministers to recognize this is an issue they can no longer avoid. They cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand and hope this issue will just go away. It’s not going away. It’s growing. It requires a response. It requires fearless church leadership with a backbone. It requires a Radical Christianity sharing the Radical Truth of Jesus.
The greatest challenge today in the world is not radical Islam, it is nominal Christianity.