The Challenge of Fr. Botros
by Chuck Colson
Zakaria Botros is a conservative television star with a huge audience. He is even more hated by his political enemies than Rush Limbaugh and Hillary Clinton put together, if you can believe that. At least one newspaper has labeled Botros: “Public Enemy Number One”
So why haven’t you heard about this guy? It is probably because you do not watch Arab television. On channel al-Hayat, or “Life TV,” you will find Father Botros, a Coptic priest, discussing theology in a way that embarrasses—and enrages—Muslim leaders. His television talks are leading not only to mass conversions, but to the disempowering of radical Islam.
Recently in National Review Online, Raymond Ibrahim described the work of Father Botros. He is a bearded, bespectacled cleric who sports a large wooden cross, and his specialty is examining “little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition,” Ibrahim writes. Because he speaks and reads classical Arabic, Botros can “report to the average Muslim on the discrepancies” and what Ibrahim calls “the affronts to moral common sense found” within Islamic teachings. Satellite TV and the Internet mean Butros can question Islam’s teachings in Arabic—the language of 200 million Muslims—without fear of reprisal.
Drawing on the Socratic method, Botros will ask such questions as: “Are women inferior to men in Islam?” “Did Mohammed [really] say that adulterous female monkeys should be stoned?” And, “Does sharia really teach that women must breastfeed strange men?”
Botros cites chapter and verse, so to speak, of Islamic sources, and then politely invites Islamic scholars to respond. “More often than not,” Ibrahim writes, “the response is deafening silence.” Even worse, religious experts have at times been forced to agree with Botros—”which has led to some amusing (and embarrassing) moments on live Arabic TV.”
Naturally, this drives the sheiks crazy—which is probably why there is a rumored $5 million price on his head.
Botros’s ultimate goal is “to draw Muslims away from the dead legalism of sharia law to the spirituality of Christianity.” In doing so, he is not only saving souls, but cutting at the very heart of radical Islam.
What Western critics fail to appreciate, Ibrahim says, is that the West will not disempower radical Islam by offering Muslims democracy, capitalism, secularism, materialism, feminism—or any other “ism.” Instead, we must offer them “something theocentric and spiritually satisfying.”
This is why, at the end of each program, Botros reads from the Bible and invites his listeners to follow Christ. That he is successful in this endeavor is acknowledged by none other than al-Jazeera, which complains of Botros’s “unprecedented evangelical raid” on the Muslim world.
Botros offers a great example of why we Christians must learn our own doctrines, along with those of other religions: so that we can lovingly reason with people and draw them into the kingdom of God.
Tune in tomorrow for more on how you can witness to Muslims—even if you do not star in your own television show. And do not forget to pray for the safety of “Public Enemy Number One,” who is doing a great work for the kingdom—in the heart of radical Islam.
This is part one of a two-part series.