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On Muslim/Christian Relations

Mar 22, 2008

A few days ago there were press reports about Anglican and Catholic churches hosting Muslims during the Easter celebrations. Sponsored by the Australian Intercultural Society, the reports said that the aim was to help promote better understanding between Christians and Muslims, to break down barriers, and to overcome prejudice and stereotypes.

What is a Christian to make of all this? Three things come to mind. First, generally speaking, the stated aims are good things and not to be sneezed at. Real understanding of others is usually a good thing, and diminishing prejudices and stereotypes is generally helpful.

But a second concern must temper the first. Both Islam and Christianity are missionary faiths. That is, both believe that they have the truth, and both seek to win the other to their way of thinking. There is nothing wrong with that. If you have a strong religious belief, you would want to share that with others. Thus evangelism is to be expected from both sides.

Thus a good Muslim inviting a Christian to a Mosque would want to see the Christian learn of, and hopefully convert to, Islam. Hopefully the Christian churches involved in this have the same aim: to ultimately reach Muslims for Christ.

If that is not their ultimate aim, then one has to ask just how valuable such interfaith activities really are. If the idea is really just to make the case for religious equivalence, then this move must be resolutely rejected by biblical Christians.

By religious equivalence I mean the idea that ultimately all religions are alike (or in this case, Islam and Christianity are ultimately alike), that we all worship the same God, and that all roads in fact lead to God. If that is the reasoning behind all this, then Christians should pull out right away.

And a quick look at the AIS website certainly confirms this. It was founded in 2000 by Muslims, and it seeks to promote “interfaith dialogue”. The site says this: “Interfaith dialogue seeks to realize religion’s basic oneness and unity, and the universality of belief. Religion embraces all beliefs and races in brotherhood, and exalts love, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, mercy, human rights, peace, brotherhood, and freedom via its Prophets. For interfaith dialogue to succeed, we must forget the past, ignore polemics, and focus on common points.”

This leads to my third consideration, namely that there are tremendous theological and other differences between Islam and Christianity, and any initiative that seeks to water down and/or whitewash these differences is mistaken at best, and mischievous at worst.

I have written elsewhere about the profound theological differences. Simply put, if Islam is true, then Christianity cannot be true, and vice versa. But other major differences can be canvassed here. A recent article by Janet Levy entitled, “The Fallacy of Shared Values” seeks to do just that. She begins by pointing out a few home truths:

“At a time when 40% of young Muslims in the United Kingdom want to impose sharia law on the country and 36% favor executing apostates of Islam, the head of the Church of England called for the selective application of sharia law in Britain in the interest of social cohesion.”

She then points out the silliness of Dr. Rowan Williams’ comments, noting that instead of any supposed shared values, “glaring conflicts between the two are evident in the role and practice of religion in society, the concepts of moral behavior, the value of human life, personal responsibility and civil and legal rights.”

Consider the issue of church and state. The differences between the two religions could not be greater: “In the West, democratic governments preside over affairs of state and the church’s domain is subordinate to the rule of the land. Christ’s instruction to ‘render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s’ embodies the separation of these realms from a theological standpoint. Separation of church and state is the underlying civil principle.”

“However, within Islam’s all-encompassing religiopolitical ideology, no dichotomy exists between the civil world of government and the theological world of religion. Unelected religious clerics, who enjoy lifelong reign, issue binding rulings on every aspect of people’s lives. Such rulings are indisputable and represent the will of Allah as interpreted from the Islamic teachings.”

The difference between the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic world on the issue of equality is also pronounced. “The Western concept of rule by the general populace led to the logical extension and development of human rights. Equality under the law regardless of race, religion, sex, or ethnicity is a cornerstone of democratic societies. Government agencies monitor human rights violations and prosecute violators of existing statutes. Affirmative action programs often mitigate perceived disadvantages of identified minority groups. Violence against women is prohibited by law and spousal abuse is prosecuted and viewed as morally abhorrent by society.”

“By contrast, within Islamic societies, in which the individual is subordinate to God’s rule, no concept of human rights exists and no acceptance of differences, particularly religious differences, exists. Instead, Muslims are viewed as superior to and more privileged than non-Muslims. In many Islamic countries, non-Muslims are slighted for not embracing Islam, treated like second class citizens and are frequently prohibited from practicing their religions. Inequality also exists between men and women, with men having greater standing and worth than women. Women are under the control of male relatives. The movements, careers and marital choices of women are often restricted. Women who are not obedient may be dutifully beaten by their husbands as a God-sanctioned corrective measure and responsibility under Islamic teachings.”

Think also about law and justice. “Islamic and Western societies differ in their application of laws and punishment. Western societies operate under the rule of law and a set of equally applied legal standards. Murder, for even an unpremeditated crime of passion, is condemned, punishment is demanded for the perpetrator and the victim is mourned and often memorialized. In instances of attempted assault or murder, the intended victim is protected by authorities and generally receives support and sympathy from the public at large.” 

“But in traditional Islamic societies, murder is viewed as honorable if it is committed to enforce social control and adherence to Islamic or sharia law. Women who violate required behavioral, social norms can end up the victims of honor killings. They can be killed for failing to wear proper clothing, being in the company of an unrelated male without a chaperone, dating, marrying a person deemed unacceptable or leaving an abusive, forced marriage. Women who commit such offenses are shunned, prompting murder as a response to defend family honor. As such, it is a purposeful, planned event often committed with the collusion of family members. Upon the completion, the murderer is celebrated and the victim promptly erased from memory.”

Several other glaring contrasts are described by Levy, followed by this conclusion:

“Given these dramatic and irreconcilable differences between Western and Islamic beliefs, the quest by the Archbishop of Canterbury to identify a common ground of shared values is obviously a hollow and futile enterprise. While Western societies endeavor to accommodate to the demands of Muslim immigrants and cultivate interfaith understanding, Muslims are continually looking for ways to overcome the West. Acceptance of sharia law is thus not a step in the direction of recognizing shared values. It is a step toward capitulation to Islam, the subjugation of women and the state of dhimmitude, or creation of minority and unequal status for non-Muslims.”

Groups like the AIS can also talk all they want about shared values and common ground, but until this Muslim organisation clearly and unequivocally denounces the many anti-Christian and anti-democratic values and beliefs espoused by Islam, then one must treat the group with extreme caution and suspicion.

www.americanthinker.com/2008/03/the_fallacy_of_shared_values.html

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8 Responses to On Muslim/Christian Relations

  • But surely the most fundamental difference is that Allah is not the God of Abraham. Allah in no way can be confused with the personal- infinite God who comes to us in the form of Jesus Christ. I believe that Satan exists and this is his creation. Deception, delusion denial and destruction are sedectively luring the Christian into the same bed.
    David Skinner, UK

  • It sure doesn’t help when the leftist scriptwriters go out of their way to assure us that terrorists are acting contrary to Islam. But their “Christian” characters are murderers, killers of abortionists, hypocrites, without the slightest indication that they are acting contrary to Christianity. Indeed, the opposition to such behaviour is overwhelming in the Church, but terrorists are often cheered by baying mobs in Arab countries. See also Hollywood’s Holy Week Christophobic Fantasy.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Thanks for this term religious equivalence. Keep up the good work.
    Stan Fishley

  • Bill, I am not sure if you recommended sometime ago books by Bat Ye’or?
    They are a must read for all Christians and politicians. Muslim dialogues are all about having it all their way as Levy indicates and Ye’or has researched thoroughly.
    We need to have the ‘facts’ about Islam, and dhimmitude on the table at Rudd’s special summit.

    Ray Robinson

  • Dear Bill, I read a lot of your articles and thank God for your Christian wisdom and the gift of putting it into words so eloquantly. I have just discovered your website and will be logging on regularly to both educate myself and to be kept informed. In regard to Christian-Muslim relations I know a woman who was body-searched at Heathrow airport by a woman worker wearing a hijab not long after the July bombing of the London underground when emotions were running high. My acquaintance’s response was to rudely thrust the cross she wore round her neck in the woman’s face. Now I happen to know enough about my acquaintance to know she has not seen the inside of any Christian Church of any denomination for years except perhaps as a tourist. Without wanting to be judgemental she thinks like a lot of people that outward displays of Christianity such as church going is not neccessary to be called a Christian. On the other hand she appears to go all warm and fuzzy at Christmas when it comes to carols etc. I know there are a lot of people like her in post Christian England and in Australia. They are good living people but they can hardly be called committed Christians in the true sense. Therefore, would you agree with me that these people do more harm than good for Christian-Muslim relations? I can understand her resentment at being searched by a Muslim woman when it is men who claim to be Muslims following what is written in the Koran who are the suicide bombers but flaunting the Cross in her face is surely not what Christ would want.The Cross is a symbol of Christ’s humility not a symbol of defiance. What do you think ? God bless Pat
    Patricia Halligan

  • Thanks Patricia

    Yes I am sure Christians often do not present a very good picture of Christ to Muslims and others. We can all do better in this area. While the cross-waving may not have been very tactful or Christlike, perhaps she was trying to make a point which happens to be true: namely, that at the moment, the ones flying planes into buildings and strapping explosives to themselves are not Christians, but usually Muslims. So she probably was acutely aware of the irony here. But yes, we want to present a saviour to Muslims, and let them know that their sins can be forgiven and they can experience the love and acceptance of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Many in the main stream churches have lost the plot. It is true Christians should endeavour to get along with Muslems and all others with different views as this is required by our faith but we do so because we seek to introduce others to Jesus. Should we wonder at these mad actions when the same so called Christians leaders also reject or water down the true of Jesus? We have heard it all: was he just a man, was he born of a virgin, did he really rise leading to denial of the Word?
    Steven Eldridge

  • I think that we need to be aware that God created us all, whether Christian, Muslim, or whatever religion, unbelief that we have been exposed to, let us remember that “Christ” is in control and not Man. We all need to examine our hearts, including myself regarding our fellow Brothers and Sisters. We need to reach out to others with “Gods Love”.
    Rae Wallace, Devonport

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