Original post by Sean McDowell here. Used with permission.
Along with my regular blog here at seanmcdowell.org, I am now featuring occasional guest posts from some students in the Biola M.A. in Christian Apologetics that I personally had the privilege of teaching. This post is from my friend Tim Stratton, who has an excellent and growing ministry of his own. I simply asked him to write anything on his heart and mind. Check out his ministry and enjoy this post! Sean McDowell
Is COEXIST a Biblical Command?
Almost every time I go for a drive these days I can count on seeing at least one bumper sticker with only one word on it — “COEXIST.” According to Wikipedia, the bumper sticker typically spells “COEXIST” using an Islamic crescent moon for the “C,” a peace sign for the “O,” a combination of the male and female symbols for the “E,” a Star of David for the “X,” a pentagram for the dot of the “I,” a yin-yang symbol for the “S,” and a Christian cross for the “T.”
The meaning is quite clear: “We all should get along!” No matter what worldview one holds, we ought to get along, live peacefully among each other, and help neighbors of a different religion, belief system, or worldview flourish.
Who could argue with that message, right? Well, you might be surprised!
The message of COEXIST implies that no matter what worldview one holds, there is a “Law above the law” that supersedes an individual’s subjective beliefs — an objective truth that it is really wrong not to get along!
This statement can only make sense if humanity was created on purpose and for the purpose of “getting along.” This would be something true of humanity irrespective of the opinions from humanity.
Atheism and COEXIST
Some views deny that it is objectively true that humans ought to “get along” and love each other. Atheism, for example, contends that since God does not exist, humans were not created on purpose or for a purpose — we are nothing but a happy accident — nothing more than dust in the wind. If atheism is true, there is nothing really wrong with not co-existing and getting along.
Islam and COEXIST
Another worldview to consider is Islam. Although Muslims believe that Allah created humans for a purpose, not all Muslims believe this purpose is to “get along.” In fact, according to the final commands of Muhammad, Muslims ought to kill all infidels and non-Muslims (Quran 2:191; 9:5; 9:73; 9:123, etc.)! Accordingly, many who affirm the “crescent moon” on the COEXIST bumper sticker also believe they ought to kill everyone else who affirms one of the other symbols of the same bumper sticker. (Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim. Click here to watch him explain why Islam is not a peaceful religion.)
Christianity and Coexist
The message of Jesus Christ is radically different from the final teachings of Muhammad! In fact, the idea of COEXIST is a biblical command! Jesus summarized the entire purpose of human existence in two simple and easy to remember commands in Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39:
1- Love God first!
2- Everybody love everybody (from your neighbors to your enemies)!
Jesus even hammered his second command home by offering the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) as an example of how humans ought to go out of our way to make sure an individual of a different “people group” thrives and flourishes (even though these different people groups were previously hostile to each other).
The apostle Paul echoes the commands of Jesus in Romans 12:18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
And the author of Hebrews commands us to COEXIST with everyone in Hebrews 12:14: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
The idea behind the COEXIST bumper sticker is awesome — it is a biblical concept!
However, each symbol represented entails beliefs which logically contradict the beliefs of other world views. Therefore, they cannot all be true! Moreover, not all views affirm that all people ought to get along.
Bottom Line: If you think all humans ought to COEXIST, then you should be a Christian!