Thursday, January 04, 2007

Questions About Inclusion

In a message dated 1/4/2007 2:04:40 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:
Dear Mr. Kimes,

I stumbled onto your website while investigating the Mennonite faith, which resulted from my discontent with most churches I have visited in this area (Portland, OR). I am a returned prodigal after many years and am in agreement with your philosophy and theological understanding regarding what should be most important in our lives. I also find the Mennonite confession to be very much in tune with what I expect and hope to find in a fellowship of believers.

However, your website ( raises some perplexing concerns for me.

First, I agree that the Muslim people are literally hated by most professing Christians (which means they aren't). However, I would not go so far as to call any Muslim a brother or to even insinuate that they are in an acceptable religion, which is what your Apology to Muslims seems to do. I'm curious if you are aware of this implication and, if so, how you justify it.

Second, you seem very ecumenical in your willingness to fellowship with Roman Catholics, a religion of idolatry and many other falsehoods. I believe Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and even most "churched" Protestants need real salvation as much as any unpreached heathen in the deepest jungles or deserts.

Third, and last, I sense an active affiliation with anti-war protests and movements, which, for me, are a distraction to be avoided as are politics.

So, in conclusion, I confess I was inspired and inclined toward your take on a Christian's duties to Christ, until these anomalies surfaced. They simply run counter to all your other stated beliefs, in my understanding of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

I'm afraid this happens far too frequently for me; I get excited about finding a kindred person or group and then I run across a held belief that conflicts with other things they purport to believe in. Or I discover a practice that is unbiblical or patently false. In your case, perhaps you are misunderstood from my perspective. if so, I'd appreciate a thoughtful response.

May God bless your efforts, keep you from idols and from going astray.

Respectfully yours in Christ,
Steve Foltz

Thanks for your considered response to our website.

Allow me to explain certain things:

A. As far as Muslims go, I firmly believe that they believe in the same God that Christians do, however they do not know the correct approach to God. The only way to God is through following Jesus, which the vast majority of them do not do. A few, very few, actually do commit themselves to Jesus, and when Jesus and Muhammad disagree, they remain with Jesus. These Muslims make the statement, "Allah is our God and Jesus is the Messiah". They remain in mosques as a witness to other Muslims. Even so, my letter is primarily evangelistic in nature. I have worked with Muslims in the past and a direct call for them to believe in Jesus just doesn't work. But helping them understand that we are not in opposition to them, but fellow seekers of God, and then speaking to them about how the Qu'ran actually affirms the Messiahship of Jesus is a positive way of approaching them. I placed this letter on my website to show that Christians who participate in persecuting anyone are not real Christians.

B. While there is much that is dangerous in every denomination-- including the Mennonites-- there is also the possibility of following Jesus. This is clearly shown in the Catholic church which has many faithful believers of Jesus in it. There are many protestant groups that I consider dangerous, but I have met faithful believers in those churches as well. My point is not to speak against every minor difference of doctrine, but to coax people into a biblical understanding of following Jesus. And to do this, I will associate with Catholics, pentecostals-- whoever-- as long as they are following Jesus in as much as they can.

C. I personally do not participate in protests, although I see nothing wrong with that. Jesus' casting out of the moneychangers was basically a protest against the idolatrous leadership of the priests of the temple. There is a time for this. However, I believe that as followers of Jesus, our main issue is to win over others who claim Jesus, but are not following Him. This is my primary job. And it will not be accomplished through argument or bitter speech-- I have tried that route, and I gained no success. But after letting people know I am on their side, and then speaking the word of the gospel to them-- that works quite well.

The goal is to have communities of Jesus that actually represent Jesus. And I am hoping that my ministry is one step toward reaching that goal.

Thanks again,
Steve K

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