Dr. Erwin Lutzer and Monte Larrick at recent conference on Islam
By Nancy Thorner –
Last week, over five hundred heard Dr. Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor for over 35 years at the Moody Church in Chicago, lecture on one of the most pressing issues facing the church and the nation today.
“Islam is on the rise around the world, whether it be terrorist activity in the Middle East or the increasing number of followers here in the United States,” Dr. Lutzer said. Nevertheless, despite the threat Islam poses to our freedoms of speech and religion, Lutzer believes the threat offers Christians a powerful opportunity to share the Gospel.
Dr. Lutzer is featured on radio programs across the country, speaks internationally, and is the award-winning author of numerous books, including “The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent”, upon which his lecture was based.
The pastor of Medinah Baptist Church, Rev. Craig Jarvis, presenting the opening Invocation, described Dr. Lutzer as one who “reaches the world through Jesus Christ by the telling the truth with love.”
Dr. Erwin Lutzer introduced by Voice of Moody Radio Monte Larrick
Monte Larrick, recognized as the “Voice of Moody Radio”, introduced Dr. Erwin Lutzer. As an award winning broadcast journalist, Larrick retired from Moody Broadcasting in Chicago after more than 30 years of service. In 2014 he joined the IFI team as Media Affairs Director to use his news gathering experience to help inform IFI supporters about issues that impact their lives.
To a receptive, delighted and most appreciative audience, Dr. Lutzer initially presented a realistic and brief imitation of Billy Graham’s preaching style, as one who early on influenced Lutzer, concluding his Graham-like diatribe by intoning the very words Graham spoke to end his sermons: “May the Lord Bless you real good.”
It was then that Lutzer shared how his book “The Cross In The Shadow Of The Crescent” came to be written. The idea was born when he and his wife Rebecca took a cruise to Turkey in 2009. At the time Dr. Lutzer observed there were no visible churches in Istanbul only mosques. Islam, by making Jesus look weak, had replaced (crushed or stamped out) all the churches that had once existed.
In further expounding upon the topic of Islam’s War with Christianity, Lutzer spoke about the need for the American people to realize that Islam and the Left are in cahoots with one another. The Left not only defends Islam, but like Islam it seeks to destroy Christians and capitalism. Whatever name Islamic terrorists may go by — Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Isi, Isis, Hezbollah, etc. — all are deeply rooted in Islam.
Abreast of current affairs, Dr. Lutzer related what he had heard reported on the news by FBI director James Comey the very morning of his lecture at Medinah Baptist Church, that there are potentially ‘thousands’ of Islamic State followers inside the United States consuming online “poison” from ISIS alone. Furthermore, the terrorists are using encrypted websites that are incomprehensible to the FBI.
Dr. Lutzer did share one bit of good news: millions of Muslims are turning to Christ today in Iraq, but they must remain silent fearful of losing their lives.
Dr. Lutzer talks about his book, “The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent”
These Seven Lessons came to Dr. Lutzer when he was again on ship board. They evolved into the chapters of his book, “The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent”. The essence of each chapter was related by Lutzer in the following way:
Lesson #1: We Cannot Take the Continued Existence of the Church for Granted
Churches and cathedrals in Europe are being turned into mosques. According to the Islamic doctrine of “sacred space”, once territory belongs to Islam it can never again be surrendered. So when a church is turned into a mosque, Islam has conquered another piece of property from the “house of war” to the “house of peace”, giving the appearance that Muhammad has triumphed over Jesus. In the case of Europe and Great Britain, secularism has weakened the churches to the point that they are unable to withstand both growing influence and political correctness which seek to silence both governments and individuals from saying anything critical of Islam, even if it’s legitimate.
Lesson 2: Faithfulness to Christ Requires an Acceptance of Persecution
When Muslim invaders captured a city or territory, in the instances when the conquered populations weren’t killed outright, they were given three choices: convert to Islam, be killed, or be forced into a life of servitude or slavery. Christians and Jews, because they were considered People of the Bible, were many times offered the protective status of “dhimma”, agreeing to live as servants for perpetuity, although they had to pay oppressive taxes and follow strict codes of conduct.
Dr. Lutzer reminded his audience of a statement made by President Obama at the U.N. in 2012: “The Future Must Not Belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam”, further cautioning that it was time for America to wake up. It was related how in Great Britain wearing a cross was prohibited because it might offend Muslims. In this nation special privileges are being granted to allow Muslims to build prayer rooms in schools.
Lesson 3: Even When a Church Is in the Devil’s Hands, It Is Still in God’s Hands
Dr. Lutzer spoke of what is recognized by some as the “Armenian Genocide” where 1.5 million Christian Armenians were systematically killed. The killings are hardly a thing of the past, but 100 years later the Armenian Genocide is still not recognized by Turkey, the United States and some other countries. Sensitive geopolitics continue to fuel the controversy.
As Christians we must remember that regardless of what suffering might lie ahead at some future time, our brothers and sisters in Christ have endured much worse. Even when Christians are persecuted and the Church is in the Devil’s Hands, we are still held firmly in the hands of God, not in the hands of man.
Lesson #4: The Crescent Cannot Destroy the Cross
No Muslim can ever pray in the presence of a cross, and crosses and the Bible are destroyed whenever Muslims take over. Far more people have been massacred under the banner of the crescent than ever happened under the banner of the cross. This is in spite of some soldiers who did violate the principles that were to be upheld by the Crusaders when fighting under the banner of the cross. Even today some Muslims take great pleasure in pointing out the wanton behavior of some of the crusaders as the reason why modern-day terrorist acts against Christian Westerners are being carried out.
Islam does not have a Savior. For those who follow the cross, Jesus Christ the Lord is their redeemer. As such they are lovers of the cross on which He died. Although the cross can be destroyed, Jesus Christ is eternal.
With the rise of Muslim influence, there will likely be more requests that Christian symbols be removed or prohibited. Bending over backwards to accommodate Muslims who express outrage over symbols or expressions of the Christian faith will only encourage more intolerance.
Lesson #5: Compromise Weakens the Church
Worth considering is whether the church of today will do better than the churches of Asia Minor did in contributing to their own demise? Will the church of today maintain its witness if and when serious persecution comes its way? It cannot be doubted that the church has been weakened by compromise, especially by the inroads that sexual immorality has made into our churches. As such it will become increasingly difficult in the future to withstand attacks from secularism in general or to resist the spread of Islam. Yielding and compromising to values that nibble away at our single-minded commitment to Jesus Christ, will only make us weak and vulnerable to whatever temptations come our way. It is one thing to say that we want to be faithful to Christ, but it takes strength and commitment to do so.
Needed are churches that have deep roots in the Scripture; roots that connect lives together. When this happens churches are able to grow people who know what they believe and are willing to suffer for their Christian faith.
Lesson #6: Things Are Not What They Appear to Be
Just because Islam has won some victories doesn’t mean that it has won the battle. Nor do victories offers proof of Islam’s ultimate superiority. Although the Antichrist might appear to someday rule the world, Jesus Christ will always remain king. The eternal purposes and plan of God will remain unaffected, for no matter how bad things become God will prevail in the eternity. If we continue to believe in God’s promises, in the end the power of Christ (along with His mercy, faithfulness, and justice) will be displayed. At such time He will judge those who rejected Him and show unbending mercy to those who are His followers.
Muslim theology dictates that when Jesus returns to earth at His second coming, He will convert all people, including Christians, to Islam, thereby establishing a reign of peace and Islamic Law in all the nations of the earth. This stands in sharp contrast to the New Testament account of Jesus’ final triumph in which He will be exalted by God the Father and will reign supreme over all the earth. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) Matthew 24-30 relates that in that day all rivals will acknowledge that Jesus is ruler over all.
Lesson #7: The Remnant Will Triumph
Remember that the real threat to the United States is not so much terrorism, but Islamism, which intends to challenge our constitutional liberties and take advantage of political correctness to silence discussion and debate about Islam and to undermine our national security. Dr Lutzer anticipates more of what is called “legal jihad”, in which Muslim individuals and advocacy groups take advantage of the US legal system to sue for alleged infractions that can be cast as some form of discrimination against Muslims or Islam.
Lutzer related an account of an event that occurred in the Middle East, and then inquired what we would have done in a similar circumstance. Found on the doorsteps of 1,000 homes was a message that told residents to gather up their belonging and leave by nightfall or death will be their punishment. This is the way Islam treats Christians. Non-believers are defined as infidels in the Koran who must be dealt with.
Hopefully Islam is not allowed to triumph in this nation by default. Through silence and ignorance, Islam will continue making inroad into education, our government, the legal system and on and on. This will only give rise to the more radical elements who are eager to see Shariah law practiced in this nation. Suggested by Dr. Lutzer was for the church to rise up to the challenge by showing love to the Muslim community, sharing the gospel with them, so that Islam is unable to weaken the church.
Illinois Family Institute urges call for Christians to stand with the persecuted
David Smith, in his role of Executive Director of the IFI, addressed the forum participants, wearing an orange pin on his suit lapel. Smith explained how orange was to be worn by American Christians as a sign of solidarity to stand with the Christians who were shot and killed, beheaded and drowned because they refused to abandon their faith in the face of venom-filled Muslim jihadists.
For greater insight, read here, “It’s Time for American Christians to Stand With the Persecuted,” published on 4/22/15.
In that the Illinois Family Institute spends much time in Springfield addressing bills that are against the philosophy and work of the organization, David Smith asked for help in directing calls and letters to elected legislators in Springfield, emphasizing that action is critical to defeat the following three pending bills (The Capitol switchboard number is 217-782-2000):
- HB 4013 Reinstates taxpayer-funded abortions for state government employees and Medicaid recipients.
- HB 217 Prohibits all licensed mental health providers in Illinois from helping minors change their unwanted same-sex attractions and gender confusion.
- SB 1564 Amends the Health Care Right of Conscience Act to require doctors and medical personnel that object to abortion to give abortion referrals.
Although adjournment of the General Assembly is scheduled for May 31, with ongoing wanglings over the budget, sessions might extend into June.
Part 2: Covered will be the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in America; how Muslims are dictating the contents of history textbooks; ways in which Christians can respond to the Islamic threat; and Lutzer’s response and insight into questions submitted by the audience.