My Response to Rick Mathes

A few weeks ago I posted an email that I sent to Rick Mathes. I received a quick response back from him, which actually shocked me. I expected him to quietly ignore my complaint with his point of view, reassured by his infallible belief that God has ordained him specifically to reach out to those poor souls caught in the grips of Islam. Based on his response, he feels as though it is his duty, but does feel he should respond to criticism.

Below I’m responding point-by-point.

Greetings in the Spirit of our Lord!

I must say, that’s not the note to start off with. Who said that my lord is anywhere near the same as yours? You can rest assured that I pay no homage to the Lord you purport to represent. I do not subscribe to the belief that any deity I worship is the only one out there nor that it is my duty to evangelize to all of the other lost souls. I know enough to know that I’m still one of the lost and should not be so arrogant as to attempt to remove a speck of sawdust from my brother’s eye.

Please criticize the message not the messenger.

I’m afraid I missed the part where I criticized the messenger. I did say I was rather disturbed to find a minister so ignorant of the world in which he lives. That is a personal belief I have made based on the information I’ve been presented with of you thus far and your response did not give me much reason to change that belief.

I only asked the questions I honestly wanted the Imam to answer. If my presuppositions were wrong, they were mine and real. If his answers were wrong, they still were his. The message was:

“Would you rather have an Allah who says to kill me to go to heaven or a Jesus who says for me to love you because I am going to heaven and He would like you to be with me?”

This, for a Christian, is the highest order of LOVE to ask this question which I did.

I really don’t know where to start. The fact that you still refer to this poor soul as an Imam shows your inability to readjust your world-view in light of new facts so anything I say here is just for the benefit of my own self and those you might read it as I know it will not sway you - a task which I have no interest in undertaking.

First, the separation of Allah and Jesus. Is it not true that according to the theology that you subscribe to that Jesus is but God incarnate? If so, then Allah is one and the same. The Koran, if you would bother to read it instead of guess about it or rely on prison inmates for interpretation, spends the opening chapters tracing its Jewish and Christian history. It is quite condemnatory of them both, saying that the former were too ignorant to realize when God had dropped a prophet - Jesus - in their laps and that the latter were too idolatrous for making a deity out of that same prophet.

A response to that last point is beyond what I would be willing to take on right now. Suffice it to say, that when I look at all of the religious texts that came out of that period, I find it convenient that the Catholic church seemingly suppressed all of the material that doubted the necessity of foregoing a meaningful existence on this earth for one that will come in the next. I see great similarities in the delayed gratification the church preached to that of current capitalist machine. “Just put your money in this retirement fund and you’ll live better tomorrow” or “just forego learning how to do anything but tend to your feudal lord’s land, for there’s a better tomorrow”. If that’s your thing, then by all means go for it, but I think it is a better glorification of any deity that may have had a hand in my creation to live more fully in this moment rather than longing after the moment to come.

In regards to Break the Chain, I have responded numerous times and they won’t publish my response.

Please know your responses will receive full airing on my website.

This was a real event that I participated and recorded to the best of my ability. Please, this is free speech and I only asked questions. Socrates also did that but I am not into drinking hemlock as much as you apparently wish I would.

This one really brings a smile to my face. You’re right - it’s free speech and I wouldn’t in the least want to suppress it. I would just hope that a minister would have greater respect for the diversity that his Lord created than to badger another one his brothers.

And the Socrates allusion. Please. You think too much of my opinion of you.

As far as the Crusades and edicts of Popes go, I would fight against them both with all my heart. This comparison you make implies that it’s ok for the Muslims to be doing as they are because Christians and Jews did the same thing in their history. This is a view I think you should rethink. Wrong does not excuse wrong.

And that’s the answer I would be hoping for. The fact that you would fight against them, that is. My point was not that Christian and Jewish transgressions of yesterday excuse those of Muslims today, rather it was that all parties involved here have violent histories. Sometimes it is the extremists as is the case now, others it is the mainstream, as was the case during the Crusades.

British colonialism and later American containment of Communism hurt many Muslim countries through the 19th and 20th century and any distrust and/or hatred that comes out of that part of the world has been in part earned. From our perspective, rather than attempting to convert Muslims as you feel called to do, I believe we need to figure out a way to embrace them, ask for forgiveness, and move forward showing them that we have changed our ways. That, my dear sir, would be the Christian thing to do.

With such a strong point and positive note I want to end the bulk of my response. The rest of your letter betrayed your pretence of piousness and showed your true arrogance. Any response asking if a good Christian should pledge allegiance to a man-made institution contrary to Jesus’ own instruction would be done to get “you really … mad at me” and would lower the level of discussion so I will take the high road.

Shalom.