There is a place for religious dialogue. There is a limited place for interfaith discussion. All religionists should be treated with respect, and religious freedom and freedom of conscience must be championed. Having said that, not all religions are equal, and not all religions can peacefully co-exist, at least in terms of truth claims.
That is, the differences between the major religions are many and cannot be denied or glossed over. And the more evangelistic of faiths will of course seek to promote their belief systems worldwide. Christianity and Islam are both religions which are on a mission.
And some religions, notably Islam, sees the use of force as being commensurate with the spread of the faith. Christianity does not. In the light of such truths, how should the Christian church respond to militant Islam? There are many possible proper replies to this question, but can I suggest that appeasement is not one of them.
Interestingly, it is not just believers who are concerned about Christian appeasement. A secular Norwegian blogger, writing in the September 19, 2006 Brussels Journal, is one such example. In his article, “The Church – Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?,” he argues that in many ways the church in the West, and especially in Europe, is simply caving in to Islam instead of standing up for what it believes in, or should believe in.
Says the writer, “Although not a religious person myself, I am usually in favor of a revitalization of Christianity in Europe. However, I sometimes have my doubts when I see how many, too many, church leaders consistently end up on the wrong side of issues related to Islam and Muslim immigration. Bat Ye’or claims that dhimmitude in the Middle East has often progressed because Christian leaders have sold out their own people, either for short-term personal gains or in the mistaken belief that they have a ‘shared religious heritage’ with Muslims. It is also frequently Christian leaders and bishops in the West who are calling for open borders for poor, destitute Muslims because ‘it is the Christian thing to do’.”
But as the author notes, this type of accommodationism often leads to the triumph of Islam and the decimation of the church. He provides numerous examples. He writes of European churches opening their doors to Muslim teachers to explain Islam. Of course, we are not aware of Muslims asking Christians to come into mosques to explain Christianity.
And things are much worse in other parts of the world. “Meanwhile, in Indonesia, about 10,000 Christians have been killed between 1998 and 2003 and about 1,000 churches have been burnt down by Muslim mobs. The radicals want Indonesia to be the foundation of a Southeast Asian caliphate that will launch Jihad against other nations such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia until they submit to Islam. In the Indonesian province Aceh, where sharia law officially prevails, Muslim mobs razed a church in response to a forged (by a Muslim) advertisement inviting Muslims to a Christian revival service. Witnesses said there were over 100 Muslim men present, many of them carrying swords. They poured gasoline over the building and set fire to it.”
How do we account for such aggression? “According to Islamic law, Christians and Jews (not other religious groups) can live in an area dominated by Muslims, but only if they accept their status as second-rate citizens, dhimmis. This implies many restrictions, such as never trying to convert or preach to Muslims, never to have a relationship with a Muslim woman and never to say anything insulting about Islam or Muhammad. If even one single person breaches any of these conditions, the entire dhimmi community will be punished, and Jihad resumes. Notice that while Muslims, following each case of Islamic terrorism, are quick to say that not all Muslims should be punished for the actions of a few, this is precisely what sharia prescribes for non-Muslims.”
After offering more such examples, he returns to the Western scene: “Several recent incidents have demonstrated that Muslims are now trying to apply these dhimmi rules to the entire Western world. The most important one was the burning of churches and embassies triggered by the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad. This was, down to the last comma, exactly the way Muslims would treat the persecuted non-Muslims in their own countries. The cartoon Jihad indicated that Muslims now felt strong enough to apply sharia rules to Denmark, and by extension NATO. Hardly anybody in the mainstream Western media made any attempts to explain this to the public.”
Many more illustrations are provided, followed by this observation: “Our Western ‘moral and ethical values’ are profoundly influenced by Judeo-Christian thinking. Will our openness to outsiders, our democratic system and our Christian compassion, precisely the values that we cherish the most, render the West incapable of withstanding Jihad? A good Christian has to turn the other cheek and love his enemies. How are we to reconcile this with the reality that Muslims regard this as a sign of weakness? And how can we fight sharia when bishops and church leaders are the first to call for a ‘compassionate’ immigration policy that allows masses of Muslims to settle here?”
He is grateful however that not all of the West has capitulated. He singles out Australia as an example, and mentions the Prime Minister John Howard and Catholic archbishop George Pell as beacons of sanity in a confused world.
He concludes, “Christians need to understand that there can be no peace or understanding with the Islamic world. They want to subdue us, pure and simple. Church leaders of all denominations, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, must stop stabbing Israel in the back and campaigning for a de facto open borders policy while Muslims are threatening to swamp our lands. Yes, Christianity teaches compassion, but it also teaches identifying evil and standing up to it. At the end of the day, the Church must decide whether, in the defense of civilization, it wants to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.”
Of course Christians would want to temper that last remark somewhat. Not all Muslims seek for world domination, and Christians do have differing opinions on questions of immigration and the like. But he is right to suggest that believers do not need to roll over and play dead. Much is at stake in this battle. And it is incumbent upon believers to take seriously the various threats to their faith.
Sure, the weapons of our warfare are ultimately spiritual, but the spiritual war we are involved in manifests itself in the political, cultural, social and ideological realms. Thus we must engage at every level. Failure to get involved in this multi-tiered struggle will simply mean the other side wins, and we lose.