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FIRST-PERSON: The Osama bin Laden tape & a church questionnaire

EVANSTON, Ill. (BP)–I just saw the bin Laden tape, the one with smiles and chuckles at the 9/11 murders, the fascination with helicopter parts, and the gushy Saudi visitor. Despite all the talk of Allah, this is one of the most godless conversations you’ll ever hear.

Properly protected, I’d like to jump into that conversation, picking up on a variety of topics. Maybe we could use our church’s new pre-evangelism handout, “My Life So Far: Remembrance and Reflection,” as an outline. We could start by walking through 10 of the piece’s 50 questions:

1. Who has had the greatest influence on your life?

It’s such a shame you’ve lived in closed, fearful societies. One Baptist youth retreat could have made the difference.

2. What dreams remain?

You dream of the worldwide reign of Islam. It’s not going to happen. God won’t let it. The Christian church is not going away.

Speaking of dreams, I see that you and your friends are pretty keen on those. Better be careful. I’ve talked with former Muslims in your region whose lives were changed by Jesus’ appearance in their dreams. You can sleep, but you can’t hide.

3. Do you believe in an afterlife? If yes, what are you doing to prepare for it? What is the ground of your hope for a good eventuality?

The New York Times recently quoted one of your followers on heaven — “In the sight of Allah, the ones who died are the lucky ones because they died fighting for his cause. And from my point of view too, they are the lucky ones, because they have gone to paradise now, with all the pleasures they have been promised in the Koran. Now they will have girls and wine and music, and all the things forbidden to them here on Earth. Now they will be happy, as we who remain can never be here on Earth.”

You’re really mixed up on salvation. We’re not saved for lechery. We’re saved from it. God gives us a heart for new things, not just a patient heart to wait for the old things.

4. For what spiritual questions do you still seek answers?

Have you been wondering about the spirit of those two girls held captive by the Taliban? What about their love for the Afghan people, their cheerful testimony to the provision of God? Abundant life is something to behold, isn’t it?

5. Have you been an active ambassador for your faith?

You express delight at a surge in Koran sales. I bought a new one myself. A lot of us are wondering what sort of religious book could nurture the Taliban and their cheerleaders. You claim that 9/11 has brought new folks to the mosques. Are you sure the enlistment of slaughter enthusiasts is the best growth plan?

Overall, I’d say this has been a PR disaster for Islam. Not complaining, you understand.

6. What qualities do you most treasure in your spouse? What memories are especially dear?

First, one wife is wonderfully sufficient. Second, you should see the splendor of a Proverbs 31 woman. No burka for her.

7. What are your favorite quotes from the Bible and/or other literature?

I invite you to read Psalm 23, John 1, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) and Ephesians 2 for openers. I dare you to compare the Bible to the Koran.

8. Your favorite hymns or songs?

As you approvingly know, the “Islamic sacred music” section at the CD shop is pretty slim. Christians, on the other hand, are the singingest folks you can imagine — carols, hymns, gospel songs, cantatas, oratorios, psalms, spirituals, choruses, chorales. When you have Jesus, you just can’t help it.

9. Your favorite publications or productions — books, plays, musical compositions, movies, magazines, etc.?

Of course, we Christians believe that unregenerate man is inclined toward ungodly work. And of course, we believe that only true believers can do the spiritual ultimate justice. But we also believe that God has made an amazing creature in man, and that even non-Christians can do delightful things. So we Christians sing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and take our kids to Jeffrey Katzenberg’s “Prince of Egypt.” You’ve missed out on a lot of great stuff, my friend.

10. What do you think has been your impact on the world so far? Should you die tomorrow, what will be your legacy?

Ever notice how there aren’t any little kids named Jezebel or Judas running around the church nursery? Ever tried to find a Hitler in the phone book? One thing you’ve done is poison the name Osama bin Laden for the ages. This isn’t legacy. It’s infamy.

All that being said, the Savior extends his hand to you, the same Savior who took my sin-stained hand. Won’t you please take it and become our brother in Christ? Yes, you face earthly justice. But believe it or not, Jesus still offers you eternal mercy and grace.
Coppenger is pastor of Evanston (Ill.) Baptist Church. Other reflections by Coppenger can be viewed at www.comeletusreason.com.

    About the Author

  • Mark Coppenger