It says something about the times we live in that a man of faith being treated courteously is front page news, but it is in Alexandria, Minn., today because Rashed Ferdous got a warmer reception than the last time he was in town.
The Alexandria Echo Press says perhaps the fact Ferdous, a Muslim and president of the Saint Anthony-based Islamic Resource Group, appeared with a Lutheran pastor might have made a difference. The two, accompanied by a Muslim man who was an interpreter in the U.S. Army, were in town for the opening of “Tracks in the Snow,” a photo exhibit of Minnesota Muslims.
The last time Ferdous was in Alexandria, the appearance was contentious, the paper says.
But this time Ferdous talked about jihad, sharia law and salvation up front.
And while people might have been more welcoming, it still seems as though there were people who still view another religion as a threat to theirs.
When audience members began referring to Bible verses, [Pastor John] Matthews rose to address them.
“Do prophets lie?” asked one man, before citing a verse from the New Testament, John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
Matthews responded that the questioner had put his finger on the verse that causes most of the problem between Christians and other groups.
He also said that after 45 years in ministry and studying scriptures as well as Hebrew texts, he had come to his own conclusion.
“I don’t think Jesus said that,” he said.
While some Christian circles might condemn Matthews for that statement, he added that Jesus, as a Jew, would never have claimed there was only one way to the Father. The writer of the Book of John, working around 95 A.D., had a motive to ascribe those words to Jesus because the early Christian church, largely led by Jews, was seeking to separate itself from the Jewish faith, Matthews said.
The idea that Jesus is the only path to God, he said, dehumanizes other groups and even deserves blame for the Holocaust.
“That’s the lethal outcome of believing John 14:6,” he said.
Ferdous condemned any violence committed in the name of Islam.
“ISIS is to Islam what KKK is to Christianity,” he said. “That’s how Muslims see these people. I hope and pray they disappear. That would be a good service to all of us.”