Camassia recently used my post, Salvation by the Sword, to springboard into an interesting discussion. Being that I don’t know Camassia, I was a little surprised to discover myself being quoted and commented upon. I guess all’s fair in love and blogging.Â
Camassia makes someÂ excellent points, but to bottom-line it, objects to the denunciation of Islam and feels it hinders the Christian cause.
This is yet another chapter in the long-running debate about whether Islam as aÂ whole is a good religion or a bad one. Iâ€™ve seen arguments both pro and con, and donâ€™t really have an opinion about it. But one thing I do have an opinion about is that to Christians, it shouldnâ€™t actually matter.
FirstÂ of all, the only really relevant question about any religion is whether or not itâ€™s true. If forced conversions actually please God, complaining about them isnâ€™t going to help. I realize that Mike and others are objecting against a certain pluralist theory of religion, but it actually seems to be ceding too much ground to the pluralists to judge religions not by their truth, but by whether youâ€™d want one as your next-door neighbor or not. â€œGoodâ€ believers keep to themselves, abide by the laws and donâ€™t bother anyone; â€œbadâ€ religions make themselves pains in the butt.
By those standards Christianity may come off better than Islam, but it would certainly come off worse than some other religions…
In one sense, I agree thatÂ “the only really relevant question about any religion is whether or not itâ€™s true.”Â Of course,Â how one determines “true religion” is a matter of debate. Scripture’s pretty clear in that regard. But alas, Scripture is seldom the primary rule of measurement for most folks, which often leaves the debate muddy.Â
CamassiaÂ suggests that we’re “ceding too much ground to the pluralists to judge religions not by their truth, but by whether youâ€™d want one as your next-door neighbor or not.” While I’m all for judging religions by their truth, I think it’s also wise to keep a good eye on your next door neighbor. Especially if that neighbor has it out for you.Â
Being a “good Christian” means a lot of things. But mostÂ — even opponents of Christianity — would agree, that being a good Christian does not mean blowing one’s self up in pizza parlors, beheading infidels, and forcing conversion at gunpoint. However, there is a split within Islam exactly along these lines! What does it mean to be a “good Muslim”? The answer is not nearly as clear cut. Why?
I’d suggest it’s intrinsic to Islam. It may not be a “bad religion” in the sense that it serves no utilitarian, societal good. But at this point, it is not a very safe religion. Whereas bad Christians might be noisy / arrogant / indifferent / rude neighbors, bad Muslims might want your head on a platter.
Let’s face it: A bad ChristianÂ potentiallyÂ makes a way better (and safer) next door neighbor than a bad Muslim.
This is where most objectors play the “Christian evils” card. “Christians have their share of extremists and evil,” they growl. “Just look at the witch hunts and the Crusades!” Ah, the Crusades. Yet there is a fundemental difference between the Crusades and the modern jihad movement. The CrusadesÂ were an illogical outworking of the teaching of Christ. Jihad, on the other hand, is a logical outworking of the life and teaching of Muhammed. Unlike Jesus, the founder of Islam was a man of the sword. Therefore, contemplation ofÂ the lives and spirit of these two leaders inevitably sends folk off intoÂ different trajectories.Â Christians andÂ Catholics typically distance themselves from the atrocities of the Crusades, and admit itÂ was a misguided missile. However Muslims, for the most part, do not actively denounce the rhetoric andÂ violence exhibited by their “fringe.” Violence and war can be legitimately extrapolated from the history and teachings of Islam.
While I agree that Christians should view Muslims as any other “unsaved” group –Â we should love, serve and exhibit a Christ-like spirit — it still begs the question. If large segments of this religion are so avowedly violent, blatantly anti-west, indifferent toward the slaughter of human life, and resistant to reform, and the leaders within said religion do little to curb the “extremism” of their bretheren, what the hell does it matter if they’re a “true religion”?Â They are bad neighbors.
Yes, I am called to pray for my enemies and turn the other cheek.Â I must live alongside atheists,Â alcoholics, and adulterers. I must tolerate loud parties, uncutÂ grass andÂ dogs thatÂ crap in my yard. Moving may be an option. But I must never stop loving. Yet what if my neighbor has more insidious plans — if they want to hold a gun to my head and force me to convert, or detonate a bomb in my presence, or get me on a plane where they can ignite an exploding shoe? At that point, I’m more worried aboutÂ protecting my family than showing charity or validating their religion. And if it comes to that, perhaps the best witness is a closed door.