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We were all shocked by the recent reports and images of the explosion outside the maternity hospital in Liverpool. Unsurprisingly it seems that it was a terrorist attack.

Surprisingly, however it seems that the failed asylum seeker who carried out the attack was an ex-Moslem from the Middle East who had converted to Christianity.

This was a real shock.

My first instinct as a follower of Jesus is to respond “oh no he hadn’t”. No true Christian would ever dream of taking the action this man took. Far more likely, this man adopted Christianity as a mechanism to improve his chances of gaining asylum.

Addendum: It is now emerging that this “Christian” man has, in fact, regularly attended a local mosque. If true this absolutely confirms that his “conversion”, such as it was, was completely bogus.

One of the consequences of Christian belief in freedom and of taking people at face value is that it is quite possible to claim to be a Christian for reasons other than true faith. We are not and do not want to become cynical, but there is a place for being wise about people becoming Christians (especially if they are converting from another faith), but at the end of the day, faith is something between the individual and God. This characteristic (that there are people in our churches who are disingenuous) has been around for many years. Since the first days of the church, and historically in the UK it has been true that church membership and attendance was part of the fabric of our culture. We even called ourselves a “Christian nation” (some still do), but we all know people who claim to be Christians and who even attend church but are no different to the godless people they live amongst. We know in our gut who the “real Christians” are in our midst.

It seems to me that we could well see an increase of people from Moslem majority countries claiming to be Christian, to gain credibility in our culture, to “fly under” the radar, but who, in fact, are not genuine. Who are not true converts. My understanding is that in the teachings of Islam, the requirement to be honest applies only to dealings with other Moslems and it is ok to deceive anyone who is an infidel, so the wise thing is to treat such a claim with suspicion.

The fact is that genuine Christians in the Middle East live in constant danger, in many, if not most (all?) countries under Moslem law. These countries often carry the death penalty for apostasy, and many hundreds of thousands of Christians in the Moslem world live daily in fear of their lives. Fleeing from such threat to a nation which claims to be compassionate and tolerant, claiming Christianity presumably significantly increase one’s chances of gaining asylum, and it is not surprising that it happens. Perhaps asking genuine Moslem background believers here to assess the authenticity of a conversion might be the answer?

In the end, the whole point of the Christian faith is not entry to the UK (in fact I would argue from 1 Peter 2:9 and other passages that Christians spiritually are no longer part of any worldly nation but part of the people of God), it is entry into eternal life and whether our faith is genuine or not is known to God alone, and He alone will make the final judgement about that.

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