Can reconciliation ever be wrong? After all, to "reconcile" means to make one thing compatible with another. In the context of human affairs, shouldn't we all strive to reconcile with everyone else? Indeed, the Apostle Paul has told us that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation by God.
Whether reconciliation can be considered good or bad depends on whether the thing (or person) to be reconciled is brought into line with the right reference point. Anyone who ever has attempted to build a brick wall knows that things can get out of kilter in no time if you "reconcile" each new brick in the wall to the one previously placed. Reconciling brick to brick has a way of magnifying small mistakes in placement into large mistakes as each brick is reconciled to the same mistake. No, in order to build a straight and strong wall, each brick must be reconciled to a plumbed line that has been marked straight and level. Then each placed brick can be reconciled to an "absolute truth" for the purposes of constructing the wall.
I believe that one of the great failings of the greater church today is that it is attempting to carry out its ministry of reconciliation in a manner analogous to the "reconciling a brick to the previous brick" methodology. The result is that grievous error, compromise and even apostasy have entered the church.
Allow me to explain. Let's start by looking at the God's commission to the church of the ministry of reconciliation. It is expressed in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20: "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God." Notice that in this commission, God gives to us a clear reference point of reconciliation. God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and now we are to go out on behalf of Jesus Christ to reconcile an unbelieving world back to God. Only by reconciling a person to God can we truly say that we are fulfilling this great calling. No matter how noble it might sound to reconcile people back to the church or to ourselves, this is not the mission. Merely reconciling a non-believer to the church leaves them without a true relationship with the Savior, and removes light and saltiness from the church.
If reconciling the world to the God of the Bible is the ministry we have been given, then we must seriously question the recent trend of Christian churches to hold ecumenical prayer and worship services with members of the faith of Islam. One such event was held last year at the Memorial Church of the Reformation in Speyer Germany, a church built to honor Martin Luther. The service gained international attention when Heidi Mund, a devout Christian woman, openly rebuked the practice during the service, and ended her rebuke with the words of Martin Luther - "Here I stand, I can do no other!" She was ejected from the church so that the Islamic Imam could continue with his call to prayer.
Recently another such service was held at the Washington National Cathedral in our nation's capital. The service was co-sponsored by the cathedral and five Islamic organizations: ADAMS (All Dulles Area Muslim Society), the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council and Masjid Muhammad mosque in Northwest Washington.The Cathedral’s director of liturgy, Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell, saw this prayer service as an important opportunity for “voices of moderation” of all religions to demonstrate the “unitive power of prayer.” Rev. Campbell was quoted as saying "Hopefully, out of that will come some other kinds of work together."
Is unifying with a non-Christian faith (one that labels Christians as infidels) the kind of reconciliation to which we are called? Are we loving as Christ loved by reconciling Islam to the church while leaving its members in a deception that places their eternity in peril? Is the "Jesus kind of love" a love that sacrifices revealed truth at the altar of unity? Jesus' position on these matters was radically different than the course that the Washington National Cathedral is on. In speaking about how uncompromising a disciple of Christ should be in presenting and standing for His truth, Jesus used a very radical illustration to make His point: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:34-37.
Let's be clear: the "sword" to which Jesus refers is not the physical weapon of coercion, but the Word of God. He likens His Word to a sword because like the physical implement, it divides in an uncompromising way when wielded. The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But He clearly demands a turning away from any other way (the very meaning of "repent") and a turn towards His will and His way. When one does this, they are reconciled to God. Our job is to facilitate this process.
The church is not called to be “one of the World’s great faiths.” We are the Body of Christ. We should not be timid in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except by Him. Unfortunately, the kind of “working together” that Rev. Canon Gina Gilland Campbell advocates legitimizes the faith of Islam and enables people following Islam to remain in a deception that keeps them unreconciled to God.
The Apostle Paul did not seek to validate the cult of Aphrodite that he found in first century Corinth by holding joint services with its followers in an attempt to make peace with the Corinthians. He was more interested in helping individual Corinthians find peace and reconciliation with the true and living God. He did not leave them in their chosen deception, but led them from it, and towards the light of God's truth. We would do well to follow his example when approaching those who follow Islam. We should actively reach out to Muslims in love, but also in truth. We should share the simple but life changing truths of the Gospel without seeking to placate the false religious traditions of Islam. To do so does not ease their move towards the light, but instead casts a growing shadow of darkness over the church.