Before reading this post, please reread the introductory paragraphs to Post 19. That introduction holds for this one as well. Though in most of these posts, my main reading target consists of Muslims and others interested in Islam, in this series I am addressing Canadian Christians and their concerns about Islam. But you, my Muslim friends, feel free to read and consider. Reading this series of posts originally published in Christian Courier (CC) may help you understand your Christian neighbour a bit better.
In a 2002 “Identity Statement,” my denomination, the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) identified secularism, not Islam, as “the primary enemy.” This is supported by a statement of the Reformed Ecumenical Council of 1991 as well as by Reformational or Kuyperian philosopher, Bennie van der Walt. The reason for this view is that, if you will permit me a Dutchism, Islam comes in wooden shoes, while secularism sneaks up on you in socks. Wooden shoes clatter; you can hear them clearly. Anyone coming up from behind you cannot possibly hide himself. But you can’t hear someone sneaking up behind you in socks. Islam is the wooden shoes that makes its presence known everywhere. Secularism is a sock; it sneaks up on you. It is so interwoven in Western culture that we have largely become immune to its effects in our minds and hearts.
Islam is a threat in some way, but not the most dangerous one. Various forms of Islam are indeed threatening the West for a number of reasons. I have in mind here mainly Fundamentalist, militant and terrorist versions.
Secularism has created a spiritual vacuum in this culture and has blinded Westerners to the essence of religion. If it were not for secularism, Islam would not have made the inroads it has in the West. And to the extent that secularism has made its inroads, to that extent we are handicapped in our response to Islam. Secularism has led its adherents to assume that Muslims coming to the West would become ”reasonable” like the rest of us! That is, become secular like us. Forgive my bluntness, but I consider this a “stupid” approach by which a certain ignorant “philosopher-king” shaped our multicultural philosophy on which subsequent emigration policies were based. Designing a national policy on basis of ignorance is dangerous and thus a threat, a threat even to the very secularism that welcomed those Muslims. Too bad dead philosopher kings are beyond the reach of earthly judges!--except of course of self-appointed ones, like myself.
Terrorism of any stripe among us, whether intellectual or violent, is an undeniable threat to all of us. The creeping influence of Wahabism and the presence of other forms of intolerant militant fundamentalism, sometimes in the form of violent hidden cell groups, are dangerous. They inculcate intolerance and hate in their schools in the West, especially Europe and the USA. They plan violent attacks on innocent crowds. Antonides has done well to warn us in his CC articles.
More moderate forms of Islam reject violence and have said so repeatedly. Their approach includes a philosophy of mission that will use all the tools of Western democracy to infiltrate our entire culture, especially Canada’s human rights instruments. They are supported in this effort with oil money from Muslim governments and by the efforts of the Organisation of Islamic Conference via the UN. They target especially Western concepts of freedom of speech under the guise of protecting their religion. There is an undeniable threat component to our Canadian secularism as well as to legitimate Christian activity in their legally legitimate approach.
I have been a missionary for 30 years in a country with over 60 million Muslims. Those Muslims consider Christian missions a dangerous threat, especially because they associate it with colonialism and its aftermath—and they are partially right. Most missionaries do not understand the legitimacy of this charge and do not consider themselves a threat to anyone. If it is legitimate for Christians to send missionaries to Muslim countries, then it is also legitimate for Muslims to do their mission work among us, even if we also tend to identify theirs with a kind of Muslim imperialism. So, is their legitimate mission a threat?
I would rather think of the da'wah mission of moderate mainstream Islam as a challenge, a serious challenge. Our challenge is not to prevent them from carrying out their mission. Rather, it is for us to cleanse ourselves from our secularism and once again read the Bible afresh, with an open spirit not restricted by the dictates of our Western worldview. That way we may begin to acknowledge our own imperialistic history and what our countries have done and continue to do among Muslims. This cleansing above should lead us to demand that our governments and corporations reshape our relationships with the Muslim world on basis of justice and equality for all people and to quit supporting oppressive regimes for the sake of oil.
Yes, some Muslims present us with threats; others, with challenges. Imperialistic and missionary urges have always driven Islam. However, the West has been equally imperialistic and missionary with respect to the Muslim world. We should recognize that their current hostility towards us is at least partially a response to our imperialism. We have evoked it. We are seen as a threat to them as well!
I do believe that Islam is a threat to the West as it is. It is generally acknowledged that the West is drifting away from its religious, historical and cultural foundation and is left with a spiritual and cultural vacuum that Islam is rushing in to fill. Its leaders are adept at using the democratic institutions of the West for their own ends.
The West is built on a bubble that could burst anytime. Insufficient births coupled with abortion, collapse of the family structure, loss of sexual restraint and modesty, rape of the environment, outrageous materialism, a culture of entitlement and human rights devoid of any degree of responsibility, extremely high pay for less work, political correctness—all these and more will lead to collapse if allowed to continue. Muslim leaders are watching it happen from the sidelines and in the meantime preparing their community for what seems to some as the inevitable. It has happened before. Why can it not happen again?
Islam is definitely a threat to Western Christianity in so far as the latter is defined in terms of the current church institutions without a vibrant faith and personal commitment that come from being born again. People are dropping church membership by the droves. The original ancient Christian world has been overtaken by Muslims long ago with few traces left of the Christian church that once thrived there. With hardly any exception, wherever the Christian faith has had no roots in the hearts of the common people, Islam has been able to supplant it. It is poised to do it again, this time in the heartland of the former Christendom, not with the sword, according to Ghadafi, but with the womb.
It is impossible to predict the future or God’s plans. He has created unexpected revival of His people before and He can do it again. No reason to reject that possibility. In fact, we should pray for such a revival. Expect it even. But such a revival, to be effective, needs to move beyond the so-called spiritual to wholistic reformation across the entire culture, including but reaching beyond the family by reducing abortion and divorce, restoring our sexual mores and modesty, accepting more realistic incomes and “lower” our standard of living, healthy politics. Islam challenges Christians to do that. Islam is a challenge to Christians, more than a threat.
Welcome! The issues will be discussed from a Kuyperian perspective, a dynamic branch of old Calvinism. It goes by a holistic view of religion, thoroughgoing pluralism and genuine democracy, by its insistence on combining human rights with respons-ibility and on giving religion legitimacy in all public affairs. Other blogs are WorldlyChristianity and ChristianInTheSecularCity.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Islam a Threat to Christianity and West?
Posted by Jan/John H. Boer at 12:28 PM
Labels: Antonides, Canada, Challenge, Christian Reformed Church, fundamentalism, mission-da'wah, Reformed Ecumenical Council, secularism, terrorism, threat, vaccum, Vander Walt Bennie, Wahabism
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