More Than Belief Talk

Chad Holtz wrote a great piece this week over at The Christian Century. In it he talks about the need for a “Christian Ramadan”—a need for Christians to show their belief instead of just talking about it.

My last year at Duke Divinity I sat in on a panel discussion between Sam Wells, dean of Duke Chapel, and Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain to Duke University. (Imam Antepli also spoke at Wild Goose this summer.) In the course of their discussion about Islam and Christianity, Imam Antepli said something that disturbed me a great deal about my faith. It went something like this:

“When I ask a Muslim what makes them a Muslim I get an immediate response which includes things like, I pray 5 times a day, I take care of the sick and the poor, I do not eat this or that, I fast on a regular basis and I observe Ramadan.   These practices make me Muslim, they would say.”

Imam Antepli then said the thing that damned me and I think most Christians,

“When I ask Christians what makes them Christian I usually get an odd look, and an uncomfortable silence ensues.  At most, they might say that they believe in Jesus.”

Believing in Jesus is just fine, I think we can all agree.   But Muslims believe in Jesus.  Heck, Jesus said that even demons believe.

I realize by putting “Christian” and “Ramadan” in the same sentence, let alone right next to each other, is asking for trouble in today’s world. But read Holtz’s column and think about the way you show your faith. He ends with:

So, thank you, my Muslim brothers and sisters, for reminding us this Ramadan season that we Christians need to embrace our liturgy – our way – to greater degrees.    May we become known increasingly more for the bread and wine we consume at every mass, the widow and orphan we stand beside, the absurd ways we turn the other cheek, the radical ways we forgive, the devotion we have to our scriptures and prayers, and the affection we have for Christ’s body, the Church.

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