For an introduction regarding my good self, please turn to the “About” page on my website www.SocialTheology. Amongst other things, you will learn there that, though I am a Caucasian, I spent 30 years in Nigeria’s Middle Belt in various capacities. You will also learn there that I hold a doctorate from the Free University of Amsterdam, where I specialized in mission studies and wrote a hefty dissertation on missions and colonialism under the title Missionary Messengers Of Liberation In A Colonial Context (1979). For info about other publications of mine, please turn to two other pages on that same website: the “Boeriana” page for a more or less complete list of my publications and to the “Islamica” page for my publications on Christian-Muslim affairs. The more you peruse the various pages on that website, the more you will find out about me. That may be helpful in understanding where I come from in my posts, that is to say, my worldview.
In addition to this blog, I have also started one with the name “WorldlyChristianity.blogspot.com.” That one will further develop issues of Christian worldview, a favourite topic of many people these days. It is the same worldview that will underlie this blog. So, these two blogs will be supporting each other.
This blog will concentrate on Christian-Muslim relations and other issues related to these two religions. I do not claim final or complete expertise on that subject, but I definitely claim to know a thing or two about it. After all, 30 years of mature living in a Nigeria with a cleft population of over 60 million adherents of both religions has provided a rich mine of experiences. So have my doctoral studies equipped me with considerable qualifications. On top of all that, from the Islamic page on the website you may have learned that I have written 8 volumes on the subject of Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria. That took me about 10 years of concentrated research and writing. So, come along, read me and challenge me as we go. I love challenges, for they often sharpen our mind and improve our understanding. I especially invite my Muslim friends to join the “party.”
The entries will sometimes be slightly edited materials from my series Studies in Christian-Muslim Relations, a series of 8 volumes, plus the COMPANION CD that counts as Volume 9. For more information about its layout, see my website SocialTheology.com. That series is a Nigerian case study of Christian-Muslim relations—often about how not to do “it.” Nigeria is a unique case in that you find some 65 million plus Christians facing 65 million plus Muslims. There is no constellation like this anywhere else in the world. No country has two such huge and equal blocks of both religions within its borders. Another part of the dynamic is that though both are on the increase in Nigeria, Christians appear to be increasing faster and are poised to outnumber Muslims. At the moment, both insist they constitute the majority along with the rights they claim with that status. However, neither the 2007 census nor earlier ones included religious statistics, so that it is anyone’s guess as to which religion can boast the larger following. But, as always, perception and propaganda outstrip the facts in power and significance.
Though I concentrate on Nigeria, it is Nigeria as a case study with global implications from several points of view:
• What dynamics develop when you have two large blocks of these religions living together?
• What happens when you have these two aggressive missionary religions competing for a place in the sun?
• What happens when a once almost supreme Muslim community is confronted with an emerging Christian community that has woken up to a growing sense of political awareness and power?
• What happens when you have a confrontation between a Muslim community that vehemently rejects secularism in favour of sharia and a Christian community that insists on a form of secularism?
• What happens when both communities are fearful, mistrusting of and angry with each other so that they can no longer hear each other out?
The flow of events in Nigeria is a powerful example of how things are NOT to be done from either side. I expect that Nigerians who read these monographs will feel deeply ashamed of the violence they unleash on each other in the name of their respective religions.
But these studies are not written primarily to embarrass Nigerians. Their purpose is to arrive at some parameters within which we can develop more positive relations with each other, relations of respect and tolerance, that will allow both religions to flourish within the one nation.
These relations have been bedeviled by untold blood shed and destruction ever since 1980. The series describes and explains the riots themselves and the issues of confrontation. Most of the study concentrates on the opinions of Nigerian Muslims and Christians themselves by providing extensive quotations and appendices, especially from the media. Each volume deals with a separate aspect of the relationship.
These studies do away with taboos, now politely dubbed “political correctness” and as well as with religious wishful thinking. We are encouraged to get real. The fatal influence and role of secularism in these relationships in Nigeria come across very pointedly. The weak inheritance of a dualistic gospel transmitted by Christian missions also is explained and constitutes a major reason for confusion in Nigeria.
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