A review of Religion of Peace? By Robert Spencer.
There are three worrying trends which make this book necessary. The first is the hatchet job on the term fundamentalism, which had quite a good meaning a century ago, but today has become a pejorative term, applied equally to any religious group that takes its faith seriously. Thus we hear of Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists in the same breath, even though there is a world of difference between the two.
The second is the interfaith movement, which is really the old ecumenical movement in new garb, which seeks to downplay theological differences and bring all religions together. Usually the first casualty of such an endeavour is the exclusive truth claims of Christianity.
The third is the simultaneous attack on Biblical Christianity, with a corresponding push to legitimise Islam. It seems that Western secularists and liberals are much more intent on bagging Christianity than they are to take on Islamic jihadists.
All three of these trends have resulted in clouded thinking about religion in general and the differences between Christianity and Islam in particular. Thus the need for such a book as this.
Robert Spencer is a keen observer of Islam, and has been quite prolific, turning out a number of excellent books warning us about the danger which militant Islam poses. As he and others are want to point out, while there may be many moderate and peaceful Muslims, the real question is, what about Islam itself? Is it indeed a religion of peace, or is it in fact a religion fully compatible with, and the theological ground for, Islamist violence?
And how does Islam compare with Christianity on a number of key points, such as the nature of democracy, the treatment of women, and freedom of conscience? In all these areas, Spencer demonstrates that there is a very wide gulf indeed between the two world religions.
Consider just one important difference: the broader issues of politics, democracy and freedom. Leftist, secular critics argue that both radical Islam and conservative Christianity seek to impose a theocracy on the free West. They are half right. The Islamists are absolutely dedicated to this aim. The imposition of sharia law over the entire globe is clearly at the forefront of the Islamist agenda.
Indeed, leading Muslims are quite unguarded about their intentions here. Spencer cites many of these leaders, and their clear aims to wage holy war against all unbelievers, until a universal Islamic caliphate is established on planet earth.
In contrast, where are the Christians calling for an end to democracy and the establishment of a theocracy? In response, the critics usually point to the Christian Reconstructionists. But what about them? They are for the most part few in number, and hardly mainstream in the Christian community.
They are mainly confined to the United States, and there are plenty of leading Christian groups which have distanced themselves from the Reconstructionists. And there certainly is no global movement to replace secular law with Biblical law. By contrast, Islamist jihad is an international movement, with activist elements working to achieve their aims around the globe.
Even if some Christians are arguing for a Christian America, they state that this is to be a voluntary outcome, achieved by Christian evangelisation and Christian persuasion. This is hardly at odds with the Constitution, as Spencer reminds us.
And for all the scare-mongering about the Christian Reconstruction movement, many associated with this group are really on about such harmless agendas as getting Christians to vote, and raise their voices in the public arena. This is clearly not an anti-democratic crusade.
And it was really Christianity that gave the modern world the notion of the separation of church and state. This goes straight back to the words of Jesus, when he said that we should render unto Caesar his due, and render to God his due. There has been a long Christian tradition of the concept of the two swords: the state and the church. Each is ordained by God, and each has its own sphere of authority and influence.
The fact that these two spheres may have become confused at times, or seen as one on occasion, does not minimise the basic Biblical position that the two are to remain separate, yet overlapping, authorities. This of course is quite the opposite of Islam. There is no separation of church and state in Islam. There is no secular sphere in Islam. All of life must come under sharia law and the will of Allah. That is why true democracy is hardly achievable in Muslim nations.
Even those Muslim states where democracy is more or less in place, such as Turkey or Indonesia, are a far cry from Western democratic nations. While Muslims enjoy the full range of rights and benefits in Western nations, Christians are at best second class citizens in so-called Islamic democracies. Persecution of Christians in Turkey and Indonesia is an ongoing problem, and their condition of dhimmitude, or servanthood, is well documented in such nations.
Spencer examines quite a few other major areas, and finds very clear differences between Islam and Christianity. In an age that seeks to minimise differences in the name of tolerance and getting along, this can only result in the denigration of Western democratic freedoms, and the blunting of a necessary criticism of Islamist jihadism.
There is a real war going on, and there is a real clash of civilisations occurring. Says Spencer, this clash between the Judeo-Christian worldview and that of Islam is about “two fundamentally opposed visions for society: one based on sharia – a true theocracy – and the other based on freedom”.
And Spencer reminds us that Islam means submission, and that all people are to be the slaves of Allah. Jesus made a radically different claim: “I no longer call you slaves … But I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)
Freedom and responsibility characterise the Judeo-Christian view of personhood. Servitude and tyranny are the inevitable results of the Islamic worldview. The two could not be further apart, and it is time that these distinctions are heralded, instead of being covered up by the Christophobes and the appeasers of Islam. As such this book deserves a wide reading.
33 Replies to “A review of Religion of Peace? By Robert Spencer.”
Thank you Bill for drawing all the comments together, related to the articles “No We Do Not Worship the Same God” and “What to Make of Allah” and thus bringing out the essential difference between Christianity and Islam. This is of no mere academic interest, for all of us are, either now or will be soon, confronted with a situation where we will either have to publicly make a stand like, that of Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot, or just keep quiet. Indeed it is for the very freedoms which released us from the bondage of man-made traditions and unbiblical teachings that many were and continue to be willing to pay the ultimate price – especially in Islamic countries.
We should be standing four square with them in prayer.
The very thing that draws so many Muslims to the West (apart from our material and technological goods), is personal freedom and yet it is the Islamic baggage with which they come that would destroy this. Tragically when they arrive what do they find? Not only a civilisation that is under a worse bondage, that of evolutionary humanism/ Marxism, but a Christian Church that has put up the shutters and gone into siege mode. Perhaps, when we find our local scout hut being given over “generously” as a Mosque on Fridays – as has happened where I live – all in the name of multi-culturalism, we will be forced to find our tongues and drive out the demons with the positive gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than simply sweeping it bare.
But we have lost the biblical meaning of the words “freedom” and “democracy.” Like so many words that have become perverted and twisted out of all recognition, they have spawned the devastating Human Rights Regulations, that have become a licence to print legislation that releases all restraint and self-control in the belief that human nature is essentially good. Previously our laws recognised that human nature was fallen and hence the need for laws that would protect us and others from our own destructive natures.
David Skinner, UK
Spencer quotes a fellow Englishman of yours, Roger Scruton, that “70 percent of the world’s refugees are Muslims fleeing from places where their religion is the official doctrine. Moreover, these refugees are all fleeing to the West, recognising no other place as able to grant the opportunities, freedoms, and personal safety that they despair of finding at home.”
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Regrettably, the ideological Left is normally bereft of all reason; they have their minds made up. Spencer can write these well-argued and factually-based books all he likes, but the anti-Christian hysteria will continue and get even more shrill. Yes, the message needs to get out, but don’t count on any leftist being at all influenced.
I once argued with a leftist, who claimed to be a Christian, who tried to tell me that Biblical Christianity was more of a threat than radical Islam. I asked him whether he had ever heard of any Christian group which was in the business of hijacking commercial airliners, laden with passengers and fuel, and flying them into skyscrapers! Naturally, he backed off, but still maintained his crazy position.
It’s the undecideds, those uneasy about multiculturalism and the inter-faith movement, who need to hear Spencer’s message, and there are still some of those.
Meanwhile, Pauline Hanson has called for a halt on further Muslim immigration, something Fred Nile called for some months ago. Both received the predictable canning from the MSM. But it remains something which has to be done.
It is interesting to note that the separation of Church and State idea in a way is found in the OT. I am listening to Derek Prince’s study on the NT Book of Hebrews and in this study he mentions that God instructed that priests were to come from the tribe of Levi and kings from Judah. Anyone who transgressed this law was punished.
Although Derek’s reason for talking about this was on a different matter, after reading your article I cannot help thinking that something similar to the separation of Church and state appeared in the OT. It is not as modern as we might think.
Sounds like an interesting read. Does sound somewhat alarmist, but interesting none-the-less. I would say there is plenty of criticism of Islamic Jihadism. Perhaps not in the public sphere, but in the academic sphere there is lots of analysis and healthy criticism.
Regarding the ‘clash of civilisations’; This is a very Euro-centric theory in this context. ‘Us’ verses ‘Them’. The people who are perpetrating acts of terror against the West are, mostly, not regarded as connected with mainstream Islam. Islam breeds violent extremists, no doubt. But so does Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism. Christians bomb abortion clinics in America. Timothy McVeigh was linked to an extremist Christian Reconstructionist group when he bombed the building in Oklahoma City. My point is simply that there is room in any religion for people to become extremist. However, this doesn’t change the fact that militant Islam is very concerning.
Also, I certainly don’t doubt the link between Christianity and freedom. At all. I do, however, fail to see the connection between democracy and Christianity, in a biblical sense, anyway. Biblical meaning of democracy? David, I see no ‘biblical democracy’ anywhere in the Bible. Is it not possible that there is confusion here, between ‘American’, or even ‘Liberal’, and ‘biblical’?
Simon Kennedy, VIC
To add to Matthew’s observation, the very fact that OT Israel when she became a monarchy had the separate institutions of the priesthood and the monarchy, suggests that Israel was a not true Theocracy in the way that Islam is.
Ewan McDonald, Victoria.
Yes, Matthew is right. The separation of ‘church’ (ekklesia/qahal) and state is a Biblical construct. It is a “Judeo-Christian” inheritance.
Sorry, but I must reject your moral equivalence here, the rather silly idea that for every Muslim bin Laden there is a Christian McVeigh, etc. Indeed, let me call your bluff. Spencer in fact deals with your two bogus cases: abortionist killers, and McVeigh. As to the former, there is not one major Christian church or organisation that has supported such activities. They have all condemned this as murder. People doing this are not doing it as part of an organised, global Christian movement. And concerning the latter, McVeigh was not a Christian at all, but an agnostic at the time of the bombing. He told friends, “Science is my religion.”
These examples have nothing in common with the organised and deliberate Islamist holy war well under way around the globe. It is based in Islamic ideology pure and simple, and finds ample warrant in the life, actions and teachings of Muhammad, the Hadith, the Koran and Islamic history. I am afraid there simply is no comparison here.
And the Islamists claim to be the real representatives of Islam, faithfully reflecting the real Islamic faith. They would strongly disagree with you as to whether they are mainstream or not.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Simon, I would agree with you about not seeing a connection between the bible and democracy, especially as the British government is increasingly resembling that of totalitarian Marxist tyrannies. It is a terrible irony that Britain wants to bring democracy to Iraq, whilst, itself is beginning to oppress its own people. However, having said that, the model of freedom of speech and thought established by Oliver Cromwell (my much maligned hero) no matter how imperfect, has been a beacon on a hill for all western governments. Not being a historian, my feet are beginning to loose contact with the bottom – and I will have to do some reading up here; but from what I understand, God raised up the Puritans and Oliver Cromwell to “Pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10, NRSV). “Never again,” notes Samuel Rawson Gardiner, “did there appear in England a persecuting Church supporting itself on royal absolutism; a monarchy resting its claims solely on divine right; a Parliament defying the constituencies by which it had been elected as well as the Government by which it had been summoned.” His “democracy” for want of a better word was based upon the Covenant between God and the people of Israel. That covenant, its promises and warnings, still stands and I believe that Britain is about to relive Isaiah chapter 5. It is not difficult to see the part that Islam is already playing in this.
David Skinner, UK
Have you heard of the tu quoque fallacy? That occurs when someone is faced with an argument based on facts and good logical reasoning (such as Spencer’s book in this case), responds with an irrelevant counter-charge.
This ‘moral equivalence’ response which you express is all too typical in this whole ‘debate’ (or what passes for it), and is a text-book example of precisely this type of fallacy. It is just like the schoolboy in the yard, when faced with the clear evidence of his wrongdoing, whose only reply to his accuser is, “You did such and such too!” To all the many who are using this type of argument I say simply, “Grow up!” Learn to think just a bit more clearly and face issues posed by Islamic jihadism and Islamic theology squarely, instead of mouthing off these irrelevant counter-charges about Christianity. They are both ill-informed, and diversionary.
Thanks David. Interesting stuff indeed. I must admit that I know very little about Cromwell and his political and biblical ideals.
Thanks to Bill, also. I must defend myself though; I was not intending to say that “for every Muslim bin Laden there is a Christian McVeigh”. I am sorry if it appeared that this was what I meant. I was merely pointing out that there is extremism in every major religion, including Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism. There is, however, almost certainly an unusually high proportion of Islamic extremists, so I agree with you here. Their global reach and goals are somewhat disturbing.
You are correct when you say that the Muslim extremists would disagree with me about whether they are mainstream or not. I suggest that you would likely find the same attitude in militant Christian groups too. These militant Christians claim to be the real representatives of Christianity. Everyone thinks that it is themselves who are ‘right’ or ‘correct’, or ‘the true representatives’.
Simon Kennedy, VIC
I somewhat expected that you would reply as such. And while Murray’s response to your first post might have been a tad strong, it was correct.
Perhaps I have not properly enunciated my views here, so let me try again. This debate is not at all about some misleading notion that Islam has extremists, and Christianity has extremists. That is not only quite mistaken, but it again reinforces the defective notion of moral equivalence: the idea that all religions have their good eggs, but they also have their bad eggs, and that they are therefore all pretty much alike, or all morally equal. That is most decidedly not what this debate is all about. Let me suggest what in fact it is all about:
If someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ murders someone in the name of Christ, or God, he has absolutely no warrant whatsoever from either the New Testament, or the life and teachings of Jesus. He would be acting against them in fact, and one can question whether he is actually a real follower of Jesus.
However, if a Muslim murders someone in the name of Allah, he can argue – quite rightly I believe – that he has the full warrant of the life, example and teachings of Muhammad, the Koran, the Hadith, and 1400 years of Islamic imperialism. He would be acting in accord with Islam, in other words, and not against it.
Thus the two scenarios could not be more different. One is a complete violation and contradiction of the clear words and deeds of Jesus and the Christian faith. The other may well be a logical outcome of Islamic beliefs and practices.
Thus jihadist terrorism is not tangential to, or a perversion of, Islamic teaching, but may well be its logical correlate. Thus we have here no similarities, no moral equivalence. And we do no one any favours here by downplaying these absolutely vital distinctions.
With as many as 100 million committed jihadists in the world today, quite eager and willing to do more 9/11s, and slaughter many more innocent people, we need moral and mental clarity here more than ever. Indeed, it is a reality that should be more than “somewhat disturbing” to all of us.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
If people are willing to answer, it would be interesting to know people’s thoughts about the specific fears associated with Biblical and “Koranic”(?) Reconstructionism.
Supposing it was possible to discard the constitution, and supposing Christian Reconstructionists were given full control of the Australian Government, what specific fears would we have about our way of life in this country (ie. death penalty for adultery)?
What specific fears would we have about our way of life if the Islamist Caliphate was established?
Damien Carson, Wynnum, Queensland
Simon Kennedy deserves no credibility at all in his anti-Christian tirade, parroting the lie that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian. It is easy to document that McVeigh was an agnostic who explicitly disbelieved in God and the Afterlife. http://www.tektonics.org/guest/mcveigh.htm
And he raises the old furphy of murdering abortionists. Actually, the murders can be counted on one hand. Also, leading pro-life groups and Reconstructionists have strongly denounced this practice. See the open letter to Paul Hill, convicted and executed for murdering an abortionist, by leading Reconstructionist Gary North, 1994, and this article from a leading pro-life organization. Where is the corresponding denunciation of Islamofascist mass-murdering terrorism?
In response to Damien Carson’s suggestion, I would propose that there would be a huge difference between the way of life between an Islamic State and a Christian Reconstructionism one. Under Islamic law, the state would resemble I think Afghanistan under the Taliban where women are beaten for showing their ankles or teaching in a school and people who profess another religion are executed.
A Christian Reconstructionist model of the state at its worst would resemble I think the Puritans under Cromwell. Where dancing, dress is restricted and certainly there would be moral laws such as penalties for adultery. But it must be remembered that much of the Puritan practices were reactions against the Hedonism excesses, and immorality of the reign of Charles the 1st (and later the 2nd) and tended to be an over-reaction.
Christianity has inbuilt concepts of freedom, mercy, reformation of the soul whereas Islam has none (to my limited knowledge).
I disagree with the idea that democracy and Christianity are independant. Much of democratic ideals come from Christian principles. What about the system of leaders under Moses (leaders of 1000’s 100s 10’s) which is representative govermenment, a hall mark of democracy or the eldership of the NTchurch or the voting of the apostles during Pentecost to select a replacement disciple for Judas?
As an aside, I believe that there is good case for adultery to be prosecuted at least in the civil courts considering the damage that it does to our societies and communities. If there was some just penalty imposed by a wronged spouse, many marriages would not automatically end in divorce. The wronged spouse could acheive a level of justice currently unavailable to them without ending the relationship. Most divorce settlements do not seem to penalise the aldulterer, mostly ignoring the issue completely.
Lennard Caldwell, QLD
Indeed, Bill. Indeed. Thank you for your responses. I will look at the debate differently, now. Also, “somewhat disturbing” was a genuine understatement on my part! I’ll cop that one on the chin! 🙂
Simon Kennedy, VIC
Also in response to Damien, I think that as long as Christians are committed to a system of democratic pluralism (that is that anyone regardless of their religion – and this includes secular/evolutionary humanists – is eligible to be an elected representative) then the non Christians shouldn’t be too worried.
Where the Christian reconstructionists go wrong I think is in the area of eschatology. When the laws of a society are based upon biblical morality, then the highest level of common good is achieved. This stands to reason since it is God who defines what is good and evil.
Ewan McDonald, Victoria.
The weakness of democracy will be shown when the critical mass of Muslims reach such a number that they are able to out-vote the host country. Islam is not just a religion, it is a political ideology and, unlike the Christian who looks forward to Christ bringing in the Kingdom of God, Muslims have been given the order to bring in the kingdom of Allah now – by any means.
David Skinner, UK
Just on the connection between Christianity and democracy.
I recently purchased a CD for $1 (!) at the Myer stocktake sale entitled “The atrocities of Nazism” or similar name.
It turned out, hence the price, to be a very old, B-grade, documentary about the evils of the aggressors in the second world war. The Japanese also get a mention, and, from memory, possibly the Italians.
Anyhow, at the start of the film, the assertion was made that Western democratic values were based on the teachings of…Abraham…Moses…Christ…Paul (and I, in my ignorance agreed and kept watching, until)…Mohammed!!! Of course I disagreed with the last on the list, but it caused me to rethink the Judeo-Christian representatives as well. I came to realise that democracy did not have its roots in Christianity. I would be of the opinion that democracy began with the Greek philosophers.
That is not to say that, especially in modern times, democracy and Christianity haven’t found themselves compatible, they certainly have. And this can be attributed directly to the benign, loving and outward-looking nature of the teachings of our Lord.
Islam, on the other hand, would appear to be totally different. Tolerant Muslims are so in spite of the teachings of Mohammed. I am already repeating some of Spencer’s sentiments, so I won’t waste any more time on that here, except to say that I agree with them entirely and am very encouraged by many of the things I have read on this page and on this site overall.
David Skinner is right. Although the modern Western democratic system was birthed by the Judeo-Christian worldview/culture, it is unlikely the system can be sustained should that culture shift too far away from the original foundation. Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this which is why various groups are beginning to suggest restrictions to immigrants who hold to certain political ideologies (e.g. Islam) that would undermine our democratic systems.
But the more immediate threat is from the militant secularists who already control most of our institutions including government. A fully ‘secular’ system is little more than tyranny of the majority.
Ewan McDonald, Victoria.
Yes, Ewan. My perception is that the militant secularists and the Muslims are two sides of the same coin which together will destroy western civilisation. Isaiah Chapter 5 sounds frighteningly like today.
David Skinner, UK
Yes, although ostensibly not in agreement, they (militant secularists & Muslims) seem to be operating towards much the same goals.
This would never be admitted by either side, of course, who would probably define their goals as the worship of Allah, the spread of their deen and the destruction of religion, respectively, however, the marginalisation is one huge goal that both of these groups have in common, which is certainly a biggie.
Ewan, you said “Although the modern Western democratic system was birthed by the Judeo-Christian worldview/culture…” Does that mean you disagree with my previous comment re: the roots of democracy?
With regard to the issue of democracy, I would contend that modern democracy, as we now understand it, is indeed a Christian creation which certainly did not exist prior to the advent of this religion.
In Ancient times, among the old Greeks, democracy was nothing but an elitist game for a few minority of privileged citizens. Even so, so-called Greek democracy did not even safeguard the most basic rights of these citizens so that a citizen like Socrates ended up ‘democratically’ put to death because of his ‘inconvenient’ ideas.
For those Greeks, therefore, every citizen was of value ‘only if he was a part of the political fabric and able to contribute to its uses as though it were the end of his being to aggrandize the state’. It is then absolutely wrong to suppose that those people – particularly women, children and slaves – enjoyed any form of individual right. In fact, as the late sociologist Fustel de Coulanges puts it, the ancients did not even know what that means.
Under the biblical perspective, however, God is said to have created both men and women in his image and resemblance, commanding them to fill the earth and subdue it. We find here a very sound justification for the equality basic rights and freedoms. Actually, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, once recognised this fact when he stated this rhetorically: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”
In answer to the fundamental question, US law professor Jeffrie G. Murphie contends: “The rich moral doctrine of the sacredness, the preciousness, the dignity of persons cannot in fact be utterly detached from the theological context in which it arose and of which it for so long formed an essential part. Values come to us trailing their historical past; and when we attempt to cut all links to that past we risk cutting the life lines on which those values essentially depend. I think that this happens in… any attempt to retain all Christian moral values within a totally secular framework. Thus ‘All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights’ may be a sentence we must accept in an all or nothing fashion – not one where we can simply carve out what we like and junk the rest”.
This would indeed explain ‘why Christianity has always provided not only a vigorous defence of human rights but also the sturdiest bulwark against tyranny’. By contrast, history shows that ‘wherever Christians’ ideals have been generally accepted and their practice sincerely attempted, there is a dynamic liberty; and wherever Christianity had been ignored or rejected, persecuted or chained to the state, there is tyranny’.
To conclude, the enemies of Christianity who seem to actively (and religiously) work in these days for the destruction of our Christian values and tradition, should therefore be reminded of the following words expressed by the late William A. Orton: “The fundamental values of the liberal tradition were in fact exemplified, formulated, and wrought into the texture of Western society by Christianity, not only as a school of thought but as a way of life and feeling: as a religion, in short. It is not safe to assume that democracy will persist while the faith and doctrine that gave birth to it are being deliberately abandoned. The logic of thought, the evidence of history, and the testimony of current events are all opposed to that assumption”. (in The Liberal Tradition)
Thank you Bill. We certainly need to hone up on our individual grasp of ‘the three worrying trends which make this book necessary’. And we need to learn to bring the specifics of Spencer’s analysis into the general understanding and common usage of the average Judaeo-Christian Biblically believing individual and church community. We need to discuss such questions as:
1. ‘How might our way of life as Australians be different if everyone worshipped Islam’s Allah instead of Judaeo-Christianity’s Jehovah LORD Jesus Christ?’ ‘Is not worshipping Judaeo-Christianity’s Jehovah LORD God far superior?’
2. ‘Why are many women in the Secular Humanist West converting to Islam? Why are they missing out on the far greater life outcomes of Judaeo-Christianity?’
Your remarks Bill ended up bringing the issues to the personal level, ‘And Spencer reminds us that Islam means submission, and that all people are to be the slaves of Allah. Jesus made a radically different claim: “I no longer call you slaves … But I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)’ You are to be applauded Bill for your final remark, where you signalled, ‘ … and it is time that these distinctions are heralded, instead of being covered up by the Christophobes and the appeasers of Islam’. These are the two totally contrastive, conflictual positions that all of the humanisms (and I would respectfully place Islam here), and Judaeo-Christianity lead to, that of ‘slaves’ or ‘friends’.
Now, if I was up for a decent wager on who the majority of Australians might seek to worship as the supreme being, what money differentials would you offer me on Allah and Jesus? But why then would the majority of people in Australia put their money where their mouth is and offer vastly different odds to yours?
My questions to David Skinner of the UK are: What signs of hope do you personally see coming out of Britain, for Christians, like yourself, redressing your perception that “Isaiah Chapter 5 sounds frighteningly like today”? Must we as individual Christians be fearful or allow spiritual paralysis to grip us, personally and corporately? Or is ‘another present’, leading to ‘a different future’ offered to you, for realising as the Church in Britain? Finally, does John 15 have anything to say about such a vine that produces bad fruit, that suggests practical steps to be taken in Britain?’ What you say could have great influence on what many Christians in Australia need to know!
Bernard Tibbs, Wollongong, NSW.
Augusto and Bernard, forgive me for butting in here with something I have just read from http://www.albertmohler.com/. Scroll down to Why the Baby Bust?:
“In the Summer 2007 edition [Jewish year 5767], assistant editor Noah Pollak deals with the reality of the European baby bust. Pollak deals first with the demographic reality. As he explains, the average number of children a woman will bear (known as the total fertility rate, or TFR) must be stable at 2.1 just to maintain the size of a nation’s population. The baby bust is evident in the fact that the TFR is just 1.89 in France. In Spain the TFR is just 1.1 — a birth rate the editors describe as in a “free fall.” Taken together, Europe’s total TFR is just 1.38. What does this mean? It means that European nations will soon face the reality of fast-falling population levels — levels that will threaten social stability, economic security, and a host of other social goods. Economic security depends upon a stable or growing population. But economic security is not the only issue at stake – not by a long shot. Many observers believe that growing Muslim birth rates and immigration rates, coupled with a decline in the Christian population, will mean an Islamic future for Europe.”
David Skinner, UK
Thanks David for your response about our TFR being well below the 2.1 replacement level. As a happily married 70+ Year Old, I can’t affect the TFR personally, except by getting out amongst my children and grandies and compassionately and excitedly living out the truths of the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures with them … and doing the same amongst people wherever I belong or go.
I acknowledge the Mohler remark. No real surprise there. Barren worldviews lead to barren wombs, but this does not drive me personally to doom and gloom, as it appears to be doing to you David. For me, the Judaeo-Christian Worldview is ‘no barren worldview’. It simply needs to be practised! And, can I encourage you, I am getting out there, not just amongst my family, but my 1300 member suburban church and my 300,000 city and my state contacts in NSW and Australia and the World to proclaim by word of mouth, by written articles on the Web, by life, and by however else I can find, the truths of this one and only workable worldview.
For example I have a nearly 4 Year Old Project well advanced in John’s Gospel that addresses his concepts of ‘Worldview’ and ‘Discipleship’, that I believe has much to offer my fellow worldlings to lure them with the allure of ‘Who Jesus Is’ out of their skeptical questioning against ‘Who Jesus Is’, to becoming questing believers after the truth of ‘Who Jesus Is’.
David, I contend that in not too many years time, if the Lord Jesus spares me, I will with my own eyes see ‘the good fruit’ (Isaiah 5, John 15) from this project alone, influencing hundreds of thousands of lives, certainly the 330,000 Muslim people in Australia’s lives, positively turning them around to experience the ‘good eternal life’ he offers them … just from John’s Gospel … but then also from other texts in the Bible.
So David, what is your personal response to such personal challenges as this? I encourage you David, ‘Will you please go back to my questions and give me some of your personal responses of hope from Britain?’ Bill’s pointing us to Spencer’s new book is a good starting point for ideas. I could suggest others, but will eagerly wait yours first.
Bernard Tibbs, Wollongong, NSW
I have just read Jonathan Sarfati’s comment above and ploughed through his link on the open letter to Paul Hill, convicted and executed for murdering an abortionist, by leading Reconstructionist Gary North, 1994.
This, linked with the statistics I have displayed above indicates one of many ways (economic collapse, climate change, famine, anarchy) that God’s judgement on our nations will possibly manifest itself. We Christians, let alone the unsaved, have become so conditioned by western rationalism that the idea of God ‘s eminence (as it says in Acts 17, “God is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being, ”) seems to be a flight of fancy and for which only a dose of real life (switch on the tele, or a trip to the local supermarket) can dispel.
Bernard, I don’t know how to answer your question: What signs of hope do I personally see coming out of Britain? At present, the picture is one of increasing pain and anarchy http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6961551.stm
The labour government denies that there is any problem at all and can only speak of how “successful and diverse” British society has become. On the one hand it has taken over the absolute, moral conscience of the nation by introducing one piece of godless legislation after another, that forces the population to act immorally, and then, when things go wrong, it retreats into the shadows and points the finger of blame at parents and teachers, the very group it has consistently undermined and airbrushed out of existence.
I see no hope whatsoever from the present, morally bankrupt, British government. But God has raised the black churches who are leading the way, not only in the world-wide Anglican Church, but calling the nation(s) to prayer with the Global day of Prayer events:
When our churches become primarily boiler houses of prayer, instead of weekend therapy centres, then we will see God acting. 2 Chronicles 17:13-15: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
David Skinner, UK
Bernard, bless you, but we are not all evangelists and I would encourage you to evangelise whilst you still have the freedom to do so. Time is running out. It is true I am filled with depressing thoughts but British society is depressing. Jeremiah, John the Baptist and the minor prophets were not exactly the life and soul of the party either! It seems to me that it is the Christian who is precisely the one not prepared to deny what is going on around them or stick their heads the sand. Francis Schaeffer, when asked how he would tell someone the gospel, replied that he would spend something like fifty five minutes depressing the pants off the hearer and then five minutes with “but God.” Although I live in a very beautiful part of England, Dorset, it is spiritually very dark. I have a friend, Lewis, an ex-policeman, twice divorced, who was a nasty bit of work but whom God touched dramatically, just over a year ago. His gift is evangelism and daily he paddles off to the local supermarket to share the good news with this or that stranger, but the church gives him no encouragement. I think this is because it has links with the local council and does not want to upset the “relationship.”
I do a great deal of writing to my MP, the Queen and Members of Parliament, but rarely do I get a reply and even then it is a standard letter that is designed simply “to put one to bed”. I also keep updating an epistle (8,500 words) that I give to my relatives and friends. The aim of to this is take them by the hand and open their eyes to the danger they and society are in and then to tell them the solution – Jesus Christ. This does not work because there comes a point in my epistle that challenges them too much and they want to detract or distract, like the Samaritan lady at the well. The other objection is that they are too busy with the cares and distractions of this life.
Maybe I just need filling with the Holy Spirit ?
Bernard I would be very interested to hear more of what you are doing – especially this piece centred around John’s Gospel.
Finally, people can only repent if they have something to repent of. Much of conversion in the west seems to be: “Come to Jesus and He will sort your life out” rather than “Repent, Take up your cross and follow me.”
Prayerlessness in the Churches is, I believe, of the root causes of out ineffectiveness. A church never rises higher than its (corporate) prayer life.
God Bless you in your work Bernard.
David Skinner, UK
Thanks Augusto Zimmermann for your thought-provoking comments re: democracy and Christianity.
I may need to have a rethink.
Blessings, James Forsyth
I think David Skinner very accurately sums up where we are at in the West re our societal problems and the state of the church. One of the aspects that caused me to become somewhat disillusioned with much of contemporary Christianity (but not biblical Christianity) is an attitude of what some have called a “superficial triumphalism” whereby the tendency is to always to view the church and the world through rose-coloured glasses and to never acknowledge that the world around us is becoming darker and that the church could possibly be to blame.
Ewan McDonald, Victoria.
Dear Bill, David and Fellow Respondents
I have recently ordered my copy of ‘Religion of Peace?’ by Robert Spencer. Has anyone read it yet? I’m looking forward to doing that in several weeks time, when my copy arrives!
David, I have looked through your websites on Prayer and Needs in Britain. It never has been easy, as you acknowledge, to get out, like your friend Lewis is doing, and meet people, and interest them with the things of the Gospel. I will pray that you will be able to gather around you a small band who will support you in initiating such projects.
My Tibbs forebears came from Barnstaple to Exeter in Devon, and I have a relation from Poole in Dorset whom I have met in Kent. Our common forebear was Lewis Wellard. I know from talking to them, what it is you are finding about the difficulties of getting churches to get out and do this work. May you see God raising up many small bands of Christians, praying in your villages, towns and cities, to turn Britain back to the Lord Jesus Christ. They will, when they see his many glories displayed before them. And there will be many, many dear Muslim folk in this number, as there must be already I believe.
Some websites that might be an encouragement for British Prayers from Australia that we like to call, ‘the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit’: (1) One Million Aussies Praying: http://www.wassup.info/ONE%20MILLION%20AUSSIES%20PRAYING%20ebulletin%20No%2010%20July%202007.pdf (2) Australian Prayer Network: http://ausprayernet.org.au/
And have you heard of ’30 Days Loving Muslims Through Prayer, September 13th through October 12th 2007 (Ramadan)’: http://www.30-days.net/? Included on the website is a free download of a PDF file for children praying. I’m encouraging my children and grandchildren to start doing this while they are still young!
Blessings on each one of you.
Bernard Tibbs, Wollongong, NSW
Dear Bernard, Thank you for your encouraging post. In 1970 I emigrated to Australia as one the last of the “ten pounders“ (the cost of the air fare). It was then that I was found by God and promptly found myself teaching out in the sticks of NSW. There in a small country town called Young I joined my first church whose composition was, for the most part, made up of large, farming families. Though not without their own problems, they will remain indelibly on my memory as models of salt and light within the community. The contrast between them and the already, cynical Britain, that I had just left, could not have been greater.
David Skinner, UK
I just read Spencer’s book for myself. It is excellent and demolishes the absurd “religious equivalence” view of the various misotheists. Listening to them, one would think that Christian homeschoolers are more dangerous than Islamofascists who fly jets into buildings and blow up buses with Israeli schoolkids.
It’s also important that more people know of the links between Islamofascists and Nazis during WW2. This includes the direct link of Arafat to one of the best buddies of Hitler and Eichmann, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_mandate_grand_mufti.php.
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane