Here are honest, thorough answers from Dr. Alan Clifford, to questions posed by Gerhard Wilts of the Nederlands Dagblad. He speaks, of course, as what he is: a Reformed Protestant clergyman; I do not agree with everything Dr. Clifford says, but he is standing up for important truths:
1. Do you think this debate will be helpful to reach Muslims?
Did not the Lord Jesus Christ teach us to Beware of false prophets (Matthew 7: 15) as well as declaring the message of Gods love (John 3: 16)? And is Muhammad not one of the worst false prophets of all time? This being so, warning and invitation must both be part of our evangelistic strategy in reaching Muslims. This being God’s truth, it must be helpful, unless we think we are wiser than God! All I have done is to tell it as it is, chiefly for the benefit of those who are ignorant of the true character of Islam. In seeking to reach Muslims for Christ, this can only be on the basis of truth not ignorance, real love and not peace-at-any-price sentimentality. For Muslims to become Christians, repentance is as necessary for them as for everyone else. They have to repent (Gk metanoia = to think again) of Muhammads teaching and ethos when they embrace the message of the Gospel.
2. Some people say: Dr Clifford should shut his mouth, because it causes more tension. Do you agree with it?
No, I do not agree I should shut my mouth. This is a strange attitude in a culture which claims to welcome freedom of speech. People who reject what I’ve said seem only interested in free speech when opinions conform to their own prejudices! This betrays either hostility to the Gospel or cowardice
in proclaiming it. Tension already exists because truth about Islam is
being suppressed by the prophets of political correctness. We have been too silent for too long. Tolerance has a limit. Judging by all the e-mails I have received, there is an easing of tension among those who feel that their just concerns about Islam have been ignored. Had Luther and Calvin shut their mouths about the evils of the Church of Rome there would have been no Reformation – with all the consequent blessings of a free society (which we are fast losing). Since they viewed Rome and Islam as great evils, the reformers would be very vocal in our day. To be Reformed is not to be silent, saying Peace, peace! when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6: 14).
3. How can people believe that you love them, while at the same time you criticise their deepest feelings and condemn their faith? Is it necessary to use such strong statements?
Is it love to leave people in their soul-damning ignorance? Is it not love to tell them that Christ rather than Muhammad is the only way of salvation? What are these deep feelings and what is the character of this militant faith which demands such respect? Those who are wedded to the hateful rhetoric of the Quran and the Hadith are not entitled to respect if their loveless faith dismisses the rest of us as infidels to be punished with Jihad. Indeed, their religion deserves much stronger statements than I have used.
4. Don’t you think there is a difference between political Islamists and moderate Muslims? Does it make sense to you?
Yes, there is a difference. Indeed, if more liberal Muslims are open to the Christian message, a more moderate approach is acceptable. But more zealous Muslims must be met with a more zealous and uncompromising Christianity. Such are becoming more vocal in the West. However, the chief problem is that until moderate Muslims openly reject and repudiate the violence of the Quran, we cannot be sure that at some stage even moderates might not become terrorists. If a seemingly moderate Muslim accepts the Quran without question, then he is not really moderate at all. A smiling tiger is still a tiger!
5. Yesterday I spoke to a Christian from Bangladesh, a Muslim nation. He said that Christians must reach out with love to Muslims. He chose to talk with his Muslim neighbour starting with Abraham and Jesus (Isa) in the Quran. That will be an eye-opener for Muslims and more respectful to their religious feelings. What is your opinion?
Yes, I recognise that many Muslims might be ignorant of these links between the Quran and the Bible just as many Jewish people are unfamiliar with the Old Testament. Such people might well be open to a more gentle way of instruction. A point will come however when the superior claims of the Bible will demand a renunciation of the violence and superstition of the Quran. Reaching out in love cannot evade such questions. If it does, then the Christian you spoke to is not acting out of true Christian love. See my first answer on this point.
6. The amount of anti-Islamic e-mails to NNREC is increasing. Do you have any responsibility for that?
Quite possibly. But I do not apologise for that, neither am I ashamed of anything I have said. I cannot apologise for the true message of Christ. If non-Christians use my protest to further their own anti-Islamic agenda, I am not responsible for that. Every non-Christian e-mail I have received has received a Christian reply from me.
7. You get a lot of support from everywhere. What is the common sound of that support?
Yes, the national and international response has been truly amazing. I can hardly keep up with it. It has all been positive, with no exception. The common ground has been a sense of relief and gratitude that I have had the courage to speak out against Islam. They thank me and promise to pray for me. Many encourage me never to back down. Even the non-Christians including Jewish people assure me of their support and appreciation. The Christians are thankful that I am not afraid to say what all cowardly Christian leaders should be saying but are not.
8. How is reformed church life in Norwich? Are you scared, threatened or so what?
Our own congregation and other friends are very supportive, which is most encouraging. Up until now, I have received no threats from anyone. Local Norwich clergy have so far said nothing. Of course, this might change so I am not complacent about the situation. That said, I enjoy the peace of God and am losing no sleep! The prayers of many across the world are being answered in this respect. So, the witness continues. My prayer is that, in the light of the Islamic dimension to all the terrorism taking place, many will be woken up by my protest to open their Bibles and discover the way of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. This being my concern, I have no other agenda but His! So, consistent with my love and concern for all humanity, I continue to oppose Islam. The only antidote to this evil religion and its barbaric ethos is the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dr Alan C. Clifford
Norwich Reformed Church