Well said on most points. Thank you for your response.
I agree with your studied approach to Muslims, by using the Qu'ran to point them to the Bible and from there to Christ. I do, however, disagree with your view that they are believing in the same God. Nowhere, to my knowledge, does the God of Israel (literal or spiritual) refer to Himself as Allah. That was Mohammed's invention. Thus, I can't see any real harmony between the Qu'ran and the Bible once a person has been brought to a true knowledge of the faith. However, if an ex-Muslim were to validate his conversion by confessing Christ as Lord and God truly come in the flesh and resurrected from death to life, I might be persuaded that they "got it".
Regarding dangers in any denomination: how true, since a denomination is a human invention and has no power to save or preserve us. You refer to many dangers, so I'm interested in knowing what particular dangers you are speaking of regarding the Anabaptists. That is, outside of the perfectly natural human tendency toward self-righteousness, separation from the world to the point we are ineffective, and the ever threatening bitter root of rivalry.
What I seek in any fellowship are these principles:
1. Biblical standards that are adhered to, not just mouthed.
2. Authority, leadership, and personal discipline based on the New Testament in whole
3. Gathering together for mutual edification, knowledge and reproof
4. True subservience to God and lack of personal ambition
5. Prayerfulness and irreproachable lifestyles
6. Preaching of God's Word, not man's philosophy
I'm glad to know you don't waste God's time protesting sectarian things of a political or governmental nature. I disagree that Jesus' cleansing of the temple is a proper analogy. It was because his Father's house was being defiled, not a principle being disagreed with.
You give Roman Catholics much more latitude in their religious practice than the Bible does. I believe that the Catholic church is as corrupt, paganistic and worldly as any man made religion could be. As long as a person prays to Mary, confesses to a priest (believing they alone give absolution), worships idols in the form of saints, prays repetitious prayers (rosary beads) and believes the pope is a valid substitute for Christ on earth they are damned (Rev 21:8) and we, as Christians are not to associate with such (1 Cor 5:11).
Again, I am not trying to be contentious with you. I agree with most of what you do, but I draw the line when it comes to opening my arms for anyone who bears a resemblance to a Christian. They either believe solely in Christ for salvation and live a life that reflects that.....or they don't.
Thanks again for your response. It's much appreciated. I believe you are absolutely correct that many will be disappointed in "that day" when Christ tells them he doesn't know them because they simply neglected His other commandments. I sincerely believe we must lose our lives in order to find them, as Christ said. I just don't want to lose my salvation as well by not being vigilant against the snares we are warned about.
In Christ, blessing and truth be with you.
Thank you again for your reply.
As far as the issue with Allah, linguistic research has determined that "Allah" is just the Arabic form of the Hebrew word "Eloyah", one of the common names for Yahweh used in the Hebrew Bible. Certainly, "Allah" was used long before Muhammad. And also, we need to look at not just the root of a word, but how it is used. For the majority of Muslims in the world, "Allah" means a personal being who is spirit, omnipotent, omniscient, compassionate and who takes action in our world. Since this is our definition of God as well, then there should be no argument that "Allah" is the same God, even if we disagree about the root of the word.
The main disagreement we have with the Muslims is not who God is, but how he is known to us and how we can be right before Him. We should stick to the main subject, instead of getting off on tangents-- the souls of Muslims depend on it.
As far as Catholics go, many of their practices are Biblical, such as confession to a priest-- John 20:23 and James 5. They believe that a believer, even when dead, are still in fellowship with the believers on earth, and "praying" to them is nothing more than asking another believer to pray for them. I would agree that worship of Mary and statues is idolatry, but most Catholics would say that there is no worship going on there. And, in fact, the "Hail Mary" prayer is made up of passages from Scripture about Mary.
It says no where in Scripture that discussing things with false teachers is a sin before God. So there is nothing wrong with having discussions with them and understanding their point of view. However, it does say that those who judge with a wrong judgment-- that not based on God's word-- will be judged. We are supposed to reproof believers, as you say, but if we are judging based on a misunderstanding of someone else's perspective, or judging based on principles that are not found in Scripture, then we are the ones in danger of going to hell.
The danger to the Anabaptists are twofold, in accordance with the two groups that the Anabaptists have divided into. The first is what I mentioned above-- that of judging other groups as going to hell because they do not agree with their personal interpretation of Scripture, when the other groups are just as sincere in following Jesus as they, just in a different way. Many conservative Anabaptist groups go this way, and I pray that the Lord would deliver many of them from false judging, for I do not want to see my brothers and sisters going to hell for separating themselves from their fellow believers.
The danger to the other main Anabaptist group is the opposite one: welcoming in their midst those who teach false doctrine, especially the doctrine of plurality. The church is supposed to have a basic code of ethics and discipline and reproof, as you mentioned. We cannot accept as a part of the church anyone who says the right words. While we cannot discipline without clear knowledge of wrong-doing, we also cannot ignore the sins done, as if they were not sins at all. Many Anabaptists are accepting homosexuals and others in sexual sin as members of the church. And this is corrupting the church.
Now, I accept everyone in my church. But I do not call them all members or believers. I have homosexuals and drunkards and drug users and profane people in my church. They all come. But they are not ready to be a member because they do not live in accordance with following Jesus. I am working, as an evangelist and discipler, to bring them to that place. And many of them have worked with the Spirit of God to become a true follower of Jesus. But I recognize that this is a process, not always an instant transformation, and I am patient enough to wait and see that transformation happen.
My main point was not that the Anabaptists are going to hell. Rather, it is that most fellowships have those within them who are following Jesus within that context. And they all have those who follow the letter of their cultural paradigm, but do not have the truth of the power of the Spirit and the gospel. The Anabaptist are no different. There is NO "pure" church on earth, because the flesh enters into every human organization. And the longer a spirit-filled organization lasts, the less spirit and the more flesh invades that organization. But we can still see the Spirit in the most flesh-filled church organization-- God always seems to leave a witness. So I refuse to write off anyone, but hope and expect the Spirit to work in some.
May the Lord bless you with grace and peace.