Muslim extremists (and maybe other Muslims – I don’t know for sure) sometimes refer to westerners as “infidels.” This label includes a negative particle or prefix, plus the root word that signifies loyalty; these Muslims apparently think westerners are disloyal to belief in Allah-God.
This appellation — “infidel” — has puzzled me, because one of its underlying assumptions seems to be that westerners were at some point loyal to Allah-God. How can we be “infidels” if we weren’t characterized by fidelity in the first place? Are Christians “infidels”? Well, yes and no, I guess . . . depends on how you view certain historical crossroads. I suppose “they” might consider that “we” were all once on Allah’s side, but then we left? . . . But that’s not what we think. We were never Allah-ites in the first place.
Seems to me that, here, we have a case of not understanding what the basics are.
I don’t know much Middle Ages history, but, leaving aside the Crusades for now . . . could it be that Muslim extremists wouldn’t get so extremely agitated by westerners if they realized that a) most westerners really aren’t Christians in terms of personal faith-system, and b) Christians never professed loyalty to Islam in the first place? I mean, if they want to view us as ignorant of Islam, i.e., to be “evangelized,” maybe that would be less troublesome to them, as a starting point, than assuming we knew something, on the other hand, and then later rejected or became disloyal to it. (If a rational, cool-headed Muslim happens to click in here, I’d love to read your reply to this query.)
For my part, I have more spiritual trouble dealing with one who has known God in Christ and then has rejected Christian faith, turning the other way. It’s comparatively easy for me to be around amoral or immoral or non-Christian people if they have never been on God’s side before. Dis-loyalists tend to be more spiritually agitating than non-loyalists — for me, at least.
Are Seventh Day Baptists and Seventh-day Adventists Christian? Well, yes and no. It depends on what you mean. For me, one of the basics is this: there is a new covenant between God and His people. Although these groups name Jesus as Lord and are, to that extent, under the Christian umbrella, they do not accept what is for me an essential fact: that Jesus came to usher in a new age, a new covenant.
Are Jews believers? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, we might say “Jewish believer” to refer either to one who is ethnically Jewish and believes in Jesus as Christ. On the other, one who is Jewish by faith and believes in the one God might be thought a believer. But is he?
I would suggest that someone alive today who is Jewish by faith is really not a believer, in God’s eyes. A Jew today may well have a sort of “legacy place” in the heart of God . . . but I suspect it would be a sad place.
A Jew is in very a real sense an infidel — disloyal to the God he purports to believe in. I do not intent to be incendiary here — no offensiveness intended, although offense may result from what I am about to say:
A Jew-by-faith-system today, no matter how much s/he believes in the one God, is to a consequential extent an unbeliever in the God — the same God of the Exodus and the judges and kings and prophets — Who became incarnate.
Are Christians Christian? Now there’s a question and a half! And one for another day.
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For more on the relationship of Jew and Christian, and Old and New covenants, scroll back a few days, and/or click here.
Perhaps you would also consider these thoughts on the label “Christian.“