It’s Not Personal, It’s Theological

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A recent group of articles showed up in The Globe and Mail this week regarding a Muslim father who is fighting the Toronto School District Board. Why? His Islamic belief is in conflict with the school’s educational curriculum – specifically, music.

According to this certain Mosque’s teaching from the imam (the leader of the Mosque), music is forbidden. It’s wrong for a Muslim to play or listen to music.


Obviously there is much more to the story than this. Both sides have strong convictions based on their beliefs. Just skimming the posts on Facebook and seeing the hundreds of comments tell us that something about this story pushes a button in many people’s lives.

I don’t want to comment on the specific issue – I don’t know the people or enough details. What I do want to do is remind everyone looking at this issue of something very important:

This issue is very theological.

This is a point that Albert Mohler often makes in his daily podcast on news and events, The Briefing. The theological side of news and events is usually passed over as “just religious stuff” and “not important.” The problem with thinking this way when looking into a news story is that you miss half (or more) of the story. Especially when it comes to stories that involve people who have very strong religious convictions, it’s crucial that you analyze the story theologically.

Our liberal/progressive/postmodern culture believes, generally, that religion is outdated (some would even say dangerous and foolish). “If you want to be religious, be sure to keep it to yourself, don’t proselytize, and obey government,” they’d say. But you already understand the problem: culture says it’s authority, and religious people say “insert religious deity/supernatural force” is authority.

If you look at this present story and don’t consider the supernatural (this Muslim father’s serious faith in Allah and the Koran), then no wonder you can easily dismiss this man’s feelings as absurd. Not considering the supernatural has immediately left you thinking this man’s basis for his actions and beliefs are completely out of line.

When looking at stories like this one, it’s so important (and mature) to look at them theologically. I’m not saying to dismiss everything else and just consider the supernatural, but it must be thought through in order to get a full picture.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when faced with a news story that deals with anything religious:

  • How does “the supernatural” play a part in this news story?
    • If Islam is involved, how does Allah or the Koran (their sacred writings) fit into the story?
    • Is Christianity is involved, how does God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit and the Bible fit into the story?
  • If religion had nothing to do with the news story, how would you view it?
  • If you’re angry or apathetic towards the story, is it based on your personal views of the supernatural?
  • Are your feelings being shaped by what culture has taught you?

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