Sunday, November 18, 2012

How many “pillars” in Biblical faith?

We all know Islam has 5 pillars.  Recently I’ve told a couple young (in the faith) MBBs that there are 2 pillars in the Injeel: baptism and communion (they were asking what those are so I used the word “pillars” as an analogy).  I didn’t plan on explaining it that way, it just kind of slipped out and I don’t know how to feel about it.  I think they got the point, but…

…are there more than 2?  Is it a bad idea to call these things “pillars?”  Is there a better way to explain to MBBs in unreached areas who have never met a near-culture CBB what baptism and communion are?  These are not rhetorical questions. 

Go ahead and weigh in in the comments below.  If you have any good resources on this topic (explaining baptism and communion to MBBs, esp. in Arabic) please link to them.


Abu Daoud said...

I'm an early church sort of guy and an Anglican too, so honestly I would mention also the five 'sacramental rites':

3)ordination/laying on of hands
4)holy matrimony (marriage of two Christians)
5)anointing of the sick and dying
6)reconciliation/confession of sins

Those would all have to be tweaked for the local context (this has always been true historically) but they all offer rich portals into great scriptural and ritual topics that will make a great deal of sense to Muslims and MBB's.

Quixotic Iconoclast said...

The use of pillars to describe the two is fine, so long as they understand that their salvation does not depend upon these two acts. These two acts are normally expected of believers.

Abu Daoud listed some important rites, but not every Christian will perform all of them (especially marriage and ordination) so I do not think they are "pillars" in the sense that Muslims would understand the term.

dead, but alive in Him said...

There is only one way to heaven - through Christ. Pillars in Isl are for 'salvation' - to tip the scale, anything short of pointing to Jesus is... shall I say idolatry.

So there is only One Pillar.

God bless.

Abu Daoud said...

Quixotic: Good point, but I still think that these will make sense to Muslims even if we add your point that these are not obligatory.

Dead...: I suspect you are missing the point, or that you misunderstand Islam perhaps, or at least what is meant by 'pillar' in Islam.

dead, but alive in Him said...

Abu Daoud - I mentioned your thoughts to a local brother of 25-years as a Muslim. He was aghast that anyone would consider any other pillar than Christ, one pillar. Today he came over when I had another guest. He started preaching Jesus only, no works salvation, equating pillars to works.
I can’t say I know everything, but it seems ingrained in the mind of at least Arab Muslims that pillars are foundational for salvation. If you believe duty is require for salvation, then you agree with the Muslims, and the Christian pillars could be any number you would like, since adding one would be just the same as adding two or more.
But for what I read and the brothers I know for the last number of years, they would consider it wrong to assume that salvation is anything but through Christ. Pillars do nothing but distract from life in Christ.
And this is not just salvation, but daily life too. Galatians explains this – they were falling to life by pillars. But we have a new life in Christ, through faith, through hearing His voice.
- from a humble sheep.

Abu Daoud said...

Hi Dead but Alive, well, I don't ever use the phrase 'pillars of faith', but given the question, that is how I would answer. I would explain that these pillars are not related to earning salvation, of course, but rather regulate and order (graciously) the life of the believer and the believing community.