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The Uncomfortable Question

June 9, 2016

I read this article today while looking at various reactions to the death of Muhammad Ali, particularly reactions by evangelicals.  It gives details of a 1979 meeting with between Ali and Billy Graham.  The picture of the two at the start of the article alone is worth clicking on that link.  Some of the quotes from the article impressed me.  Here are two:

Graham:  “Ali’s primary beliefs are something we could all believe.” 

Ali:  “I always said if I was a Christian, I would want to be a Christian like him.”

The first is ironic considering the recent flap over Wheaton College’s ham-handed rebuke of professor Larycia Hawkins for making a similar remark and the fact that this came from a university Graham was influential in supporting.  Also noteworthy is the way evangelicals by the boatload sputtered over what Hawkins said.  We have somehow reached the day when even a mildly favorable comment on Islam can end an evangelical career.  It goes a long way in explaining how we ended up with Donald Trump and his banning of all Muslim immigration as the Republican nominee for President.

The second quote is more profound and if we have even an ounce of capacity for self-examination it should make us all ask the question “Would anyone want to be a Christian like me?”  I have this gnawing fear that for all too many of us, including Graham’s Muslim-hating son Franklin, the answer would be “No.”

But at the end of the day the only truly meaningful response is to, as the funeral of Ali takes place, spend some time asking myself that question and run the risk of realizing that the answer might be “no” for me too.


From → Christianity

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