Our friends over at Pulpit and Pen have ignited a proverbial firestorm this week. As you’ve surely heard, 21 Christian men were savagely executed by ISIS in Lybia. As most of the world mourns these men and their sacrifice, someone is quick to play the “they aren’t really Christian” card.
Do Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelicals really not know what a Christian is or how you become one? Is it being born into an ethnic group that denies the dual-nature of Christ in his full deity and humanity? Is it embracing a meritorious, works-based salvation nearly identical to that of the Roman Catholic church? Is it in aggressively denying salvation by a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ? We ask because that’s what Coptic ‘Christians’ believe. This really isn’t new, and we have to wonder why our leaders don’t know what Coptics believe and if they do, what on Earth makes them think they should be categorized as Christians.
Do our brethren at P&P really not know the definition of tact? Twenty-one men who were proclaiming their love of Christ as they were having their throats cut were executed. This is what is written in response? Oh, they don’t adhere 100% to my interpretation of theology, so they’re not really Christian?
Think about that for a moment. These men, who died because of their faith in Christ, have just been written off as hell-bound by P&P. Consider the following:
What’s at stake, you see, is the Gospel. May God forbid our (good and honorable) desire to show sympathy for temporal suffering lead us to say careless words that might lead to eternal suffering. The Coptics, by their confession, believe in salvation-by-works. They need to be evangelized, and they need to come to Christ.
“…need to come to Christ.” They were praying to Christ as they were killed. How much closer could they have come before meeting him in person?
Sure, they believe in Holy Sacraments in addition to, not in place of, belief in Christ, as most high-church congregations/sects/etc. are wont to do. So what? Provided they express a personal, sincere love of Christ, does it truly matter what they include as part of their devotions to him? (Ritual sacrifice and burnt offerings aside, of course.)
This strikes me as a profoundly inappropriate thing to say at this time. Twenty-one brothers in Christ were just murdered by terrorists. Is that the best launching point for a diatribe on works-based salvation?