Saturday, March 06, 2010

Mosab Hassan Yousef: Iconic Figure, To Be Exploited?

We urge gentle readers not to miss the gripping interview in today's WSJ with Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a Hamas founder, turned spy for Israel's Shin Bet intelligence services, turned evangelical Christian.

The interview is filled with amazing, provocative, and even disturbing revelations. None is more powerful than this declaration of Yousef's near the end of the piece:

"The problem is not in Muslims," he continues. "The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to."

Mr. Yousef's story is the stuff of espionage thrillers and revival testimonies. We hope, for his sake, that it becomes neither.

Of course, there's already a book, and with a book come all the publicity and interviews and opportunities for people to latch onto the newly minted celebrity for their own aggrandizement. Having seen far too many notable Christian converts exploited by the so-called Christian media and its many for-profit and non-profit auxiliaries and wannabes, we hope that one so vulnerable and potentially controversial will be largely left alone.

We urge gentle readers as well to realize what we guess will be the complications of holding up Yousef as an icon. His conversion to Christianity is impressive, and we have every reason to think it is deep and sincere (anyone who talks about being impressed with the love, grace and humility of Jesus has in the SWNIDish view identified the very best reason to confess Christianity). But his situation is complicated by his involvement with Shin Bet.

We do not object to Yousef's work with the Israelis. Were we in the middle of the middle of the Middle East, trapped between Muslim terrorism and Zionist nationalism, we would find common cause with the Zionists, who despite their many terrible actions nevertheless show markedly greater restraint than their enemies.

We simply note that any political alignment of an iconic religious figure makes that figure problematic as an icon. Why is Graham successful as an evangelist and Robertson unsuccessful? For many reasons, of course, but high on the list is Graham's studied nonpartisanship.

If SWNID were a Muslim, our question about Yousef would be, Do Christians have to align politically with Israel? Sadly, too many Christians act as if doing so is a biblical obligation, and are more than ready to condemn anyone who suggests that the present issues of the Middle East are more complex than the straightforward fulfillment of an unconditional biblical promise.

So in the end, the warning is not simply to resist the notion that the key to evangelism is exposing notable converts to constant publicity. It is also to be sure to know what the true gospel really is and to articulate it simply, without the distortions that are either theologically or politically sectarian.


Anonymous said...

I think you're missing an "e" in the third paragraph from the end.

Madonna said...

Thanks anon. You've really shed some light on this issue.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Corrected, Anon. Thanks.

Madonna, takes one to know one.