During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, four columns of insurgent forces approached Madrid, while a ‘fifth column’ of supporters was inside the city, seeking to undermine the Republican government from within.
The term became popular after then, especially during World War II, referring to those partisan supporters of the Nazis or Japanese who lived within Allied nations. Thus the fifth column refers to those who are working to subvert a nation from within by means of espionage and sabotage, while armed forces seek to conquer it from without.
The attempt by Muslims to win over the West is a good case in point. There are the violent Jihadists who are doing their best to destroy the West by suicide bombings and acts of terror. But there are also fifth columnists actively at work, seeking to subvert a free West from within.
These fifth columnists come in the form of “moderate” Muslims, those who seek to argue that Islam is really a religion of peace, that Muhammad was really quite a nice sort of chap, and all Muslims are quite happy to live and let live with Christians and other ‘infidels’.
Now it is true that there are many truly moderate Muslims who abhor religious violence and who want nothing to do with the radical Islamists. But there are also many radical Muslims who are quite happy to assume the posture of moderate Muslims in order to win over a gullible and naïve West.
And this is all part of a deliberate strategy. Indeed, many Muslims are quite adept at exploiting Western weaknesses, by seeking to present Islam as just another benign religion, with no hostile intent or imperialistic aims. Part and parcel of the fifth column strategy is the practice of taqqiyah. The Arabic word means deception, dissimilation or concealment. Both in the Koran and the hadith, the term refers to lying to, and deceiving, the enemies of Islam.
A great example of all this is occurring in Australia right now. For several weeks now a Muslim Imam and a Christian pastor from Nigeria have been touring the country in a “The Imam and the Pastor” tour. Today I saw them at the Parliamentary Christian Prayer Breakfast in Canberra.
I have written elsewhere about this tour, so I refer my readers to this post to get some more background information: billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/04/truth-and-tolerance-christianity-and-islam/
In that article I raised my concerns about this pair. I said that the effort to get warring peoples to sit at a table and discuss their issues is generally a good thing. As the old saying goes, ‘Jaw jaw is always better than war war’. Talking is preferable to throwing bombs, and the two are to be congratulated for seeking to diffuse religious violence and enter into dialogue. Yet as I said in that article, such dialogue must never come at the expense of truth.
The pair is being sponsored in Australia by various Islamic councils. These Muslim groups are quite happy to have the seminar presented here. And for good reason: it is all part of the Islamic offensive to convince non-Muslims that genuine Islam is simply a peaceful, friendly religion, with no dangerous elements.
But unfortunately a number of evangelical churches have been hosting this pair, as did the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship this morning in Canberra. Many of these Christian bodies are welcoming the pair with open arms, but many seem quite unaware of the nature of Islamic apologetics and expansion.
Now I have much less of a problem if this pair does their thing in secular venues around the land. But I do have a problem having them come into Christian churches and Christian fellowships. Because the truth is, while Christians gain little or nothing from such events, Muslims gain a great deal indeed.
Dhimmitude in Australia
Consider this morning’s seminar at the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. The pair was given around 40 minutes to make their case. Thus what we had was the Christian Prayer Breakfast becoming a stage for Muslim evangelism and indoctrination. The Imam did a great job of making the case for Islam. He did all the usual tricks of the Muslim trade. We were told that Islam is really a forgiving and tolerant religion, that Muhammad was a peaceful and likable guy, and that the differences between Islam and Christianity are really not all that great.
Indeed, the Imam happily quoted several suras from the Koran, informing us what a religion of peace and forgiveness Islam is. Never mind that he quoted from the earlier, peaceful Meccan passages, and not the later, violent Medinan passages. But the Islamic doctrine of naskh (abrogation) declares that whenever there is a conflict between suras, the later ones take priority over the earlier ones.
The Imam also stressed how we are all children of Abraham. The Christian faith and the Muslim faith have so very much in common, due to our common Abrahamic origins. But this is a clear case of taqqiyah. In the Koran, we are told that “Ibrahim [Abraham] in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian” but one who submitted to Allah, (that is, a Muslim) (Sura 3:67). Jesus could tell the Jews (who also descended from Abraham) that they were of their father the devil; only those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are true descendents of Abraham (John 8). Muslims deny the central claim of Christianity: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus according to Christ’s own words, Muslims are not true descendents of Abraham at all.
And the Nigerian pastor was not much help here. Indeed, he seemed to be a great example of dhimmitude (or Christian second-class citizenship under Islamic rule) in action. He said our real witness is not with words but deeds. Yes, that is true to an extent: James says faith without works is dead. But as Paul tells us in Romans 10, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. We must confess with our lips and believe in our hearts in order to be saved. Simply engaging in acts of reconciliation – no matter how laudable they may be – does not make one a Christian.
Indeed, preventing bloodshed is a good thing, but it is not the ultimate good. Sometimes bloodshed for the sake of truth is more important. Indeed, Jesus could even say that it is better to enter heaven minus a leg or with an eye plucked out, than to enter hell with the body intact (Matt. 18:7-9).
Religious violence is to be eschewed, but never at the expense of the truth of the Gospel. Reconciliation and forgiveness are important things indeed, but never at the expense of diluting the gospel down to some feel-good ecumenism.
As I said, this seminar at the Prayer Breakfast served the Imam well. He had a captive audience of Christian leaders to whom he could push his Islamic agenda. And given the many times the audience applauded, and the standing ovation (by at least half the audience) at the end, he looks like he was very successful indeed.
The Christian MC did not help things much. He not only refused to take questions from the floor, but he offered a quite insipid discussion at the end of the seminar. At one point he told the Imam what a great risk he took in coming to a place which was almost all Christian.
Of course it was nothing of the sort, for two reasons. First, the Muslim evangelist was given a silver platter in which to push his version of Islam to an audience which was to some extent apparently gullible and undiscerning as to the real aims and objectives of Islam.
Islam is an evangelistic faith, and all good Muslims want everyone to submit to the will of Allah, and come under Sharia law. To have at least twenty minutes to evangelise a Christian audience was of course a golden opportunity for the Imam.
And there was nothing risky about it at all. No one was going to lop his head off. No one was going to throw him in prison. No one was going to torture him for daring to challenge Christian beliefs. No one was going to fly airplanes into skyscrapers in protest, or storm Muslim embassies.
But turn the tables and then we can talk about risk. A Christian evangelist speaking to a group of Muslims in Syria or Saudi Arabia would last about 3 seconds before his head would be rolling on the floor. The only ones taking risks are Christians seeking to win Muslims for Christ. Muslim evangelists face no such risks at all in a Western world in which most Christians are asleep at the wheel, and in which most churches just want to get along and tolerate everyone and everything.
Gullible Western Christians seem all too happy to open their Christian venues up to Muslim apologists and evangelists, while any reciprocal action would simply result in a quick and sudden death. So much for moral and theological reciprocity and equivalence.
And there was quite a contrast at this Breakfast. One very good speaker was Mama Maggie Gobran from Egypt. This Mother Teresa-like saint works in the garbage dumps of Cairo, taking care of 30,000 poor, abandoned and starving children.
And why are these children that way? They are mostly dhimmies, or second class citizens, in Egypt. They are mainly non-Muslim kids who have been marginalised and oppressed by Egyptian Muslims. All around the Islamic world Christians live in second class citizenship, replete with torture, deprivation and death at the hands of their Islamic masters.
Yet here we had a Christian Prayer Breakfast trying to present a moral and theological equivalence between Islam and Christianity. Sorry, but there is no equivalence whatsoever between the two. Almost everywhere in Islamic lands Christians are suffering at the hands of Muslims, yet here we want to let Muslims preach to Christian audiences, telling us that Islam is a religion of peace, and that there really is not much difference between Islam and Christianity.
If this is the direction the Prayer Breakfast is going, one wonders what next year will bring. Will uber-atheist Richard Dawkins be invited along to share the stage with a liberal Christian, and both will tell us how much they actually have in common, and how their similarities far outweigh any differences?
All in all, I and many other Christians were extremely concerned about all this. If churches and Christian Parliamentary fellowships want to go down the path of interfaith union and ecumenicism, fine. But first they should tell us that this is their intent. And then they should inform us that they no longer regard the exclusive truth claims of biblical Christianity to be all that important.
Last night a passage of Scripture very powerfully came to mind: “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. … I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isaiah 42:8, 11). The one true God will not share his glory with any other. He will not honour those who seek to put Jesus and Muhammad side by side, on the same platform as two equals.
And today the verse from Joshua 24 came to mind: “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (v. 15). Now is not the time to go for interfaith dialogue in which Jesus is just one of a number of gods to choose from. We do not need interfaith dialogue; we need proclamation of the truth – Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is no other god. Indeed, all other gods are false gods, idols and deceptions.
We can expect nonbelievers to get into these sorts of ecumenical affairs. But there is no place for biblical Christians to water down their faith in the interests of just getting along. The eternal destiny of each and every one of us is at stake, and having feel-good meetings where the Gospel is compromised and truth is diluted is not going to help anyone. Well, it will aid and abet the cause of Islamic expansionism, but it will do the Christian church no good at all.