“Then there is the flightiness in a fair sized portion of today’s larger “church” that sees the world like a child does a squishy toy … ”
It will be because we have undone the Judeo-Christian ties that once secured the civil society, and because a large part of the modern “church” has been missing in action—yielding to the long-term cultural collapse—rejecting what it once was and what it is called to be.
That American story, after all, began in the pulpits of the extraordinary pastor-patriots of the 1600s, who with the early enlightenment thinkers, laid the intellectual girders that supported the revolutionary concepts of both personal liberty and the origin of the rights of men. They were followed by the preacher-patriots of the Great Awakening in the early and mid-1700s that established the character of the coming nation; building the ideas of religious pluralism, individual virtue, and the freedom of expression and association.
The Founding Revolutionaries, the vast majority of whom were men of deep and orthodox faith, stood on the shoulders of those first patriots and established a republican experiment that codified human liberty in both spirit and body—unknown in the prior 5,000 years of human history.
This is the spiritual inheritance that the modern “church” in America has largely squandered.
The current intellectual and moral battle in today’s “church” over orthodoxy and the authority of Scripture has been raging for decades; but just as important and dangerous is the moral confusion concerning the great conflict between Radical Islam and Christianity.
Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Christians have been murdered by beheading, burning, and crucifixion across Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, and the atrocities are only briefly noted in the news, and often not at all in many pulpits. Ancient Christian communities from North Africa, Syria, Iran, and Iraq are being slaughtered, enslaved, sold as sex slaves, or dispersed—and the silence from a significant portion of the “church” is deafening, standing as stone before the compelling moral call on the Body of Christ to reject evil.
Two clear fault lines in the modern Christian “church” are revealed in the great struggle with Islam generally—and Radical Islam specifically. First, it reveals the intellectual weakness across a sizable portion of contemporary Christian thought, through the political naiveté of some, and the willful ignorance of others.
Then there is the flightiness in a fair-sized portion of today’s larger “church” that sees the world like a child does a squishy toy, and they project this worldview from their pulpits, their politics, and their passions.
These fault lines have manifested themselves most clearly in the burgeoning inter-faith movement that seeks to bridge the differences of Muslims and Christians in the hopes of finding the ever illusive “common ground”—and to advance the goals of multiculturalism at any cost.
In 2007, 138 Muslim scholars introduced a document entitled, “A Common Word Between You and Us,” that was widely received across a spectrum of the Christian community, followed by a marked increase in inter-faith projects that is still growing.
The document purports to support mutual understanding and a way forward for the two religions that can lead to understanding and peace, and bases its appeal to Christians using the great commandments, “to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves,” claiming that those are shared precepts of both Islam and Christianity, through which mutual understanding and infer-faith activism can take place.
But a causal examination demonstrates this simply isn’t true. Christians are called in Scripture to the highest standard of love; to love God and to love their neighbors as themselves. There is no ambiguity in Christian teaching as to whom these neighbors are: people of every religion, race, and economic status, especially the poor and oppressed.
However, Islam teaches exactly the opposite. “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians as your friends,” Surah 5:51. Or, “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them.” Surah 9.123. In fact, half of the Qur’an details how Muslims deal with non-Muslims.
Islam is also turned decidedly inward to itself in many places in the Qur’an; “Mohammed is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” Surah 48:29.
Taken in its whole and in context, the Qur’an does not teach, nor has Islam historically practiced, love of their neighbor from the Christian perspective.
In response to the original 138 (now more) Muslim scholars, many hundreds of Christian theologians, pastors, and leaders have replied to the “Common Word.” Some with simplistic sympathy, and others with vague assertions of commonality of purpose. The most public of the responses was the full-page advertisement in the New York Times in 2008, entitled, Loving God and Neighbor Together.
This response was a wishful document, but not a substantive one. It boasted over 300 signatories, including, inexplicably, a few of the best known names in the Evangelical church, in addition to others from the ultra-radical Red Letter Movement, as well as the theologically questionable “Emergent” and post-modern “church” groups.
Reading the Christian responses one would never know that the violence unleased in this young century alone by Radical Islam even happened. It’s never mentioned, while other critical issues are ignored:
- The widespread devotion of Islam to violent Jihad.
- The desired establishment of a global caliphate and the unrecognized caliphate of the Islamic State (ISIS).
- Tactical immigration to Western cultures to suborn them from within.
- The destruction of historic Christian communities and churches.
- The lack of reciprocal religious freedom and pluralism in Muslim countries.
John Piper, a leading pastor and prolific author, has been among the most vocal critics of the responses to “A Common Word.” Calling the Christian responses a “profound disappointment,” Piper laments the missed opportunity to “make a clear statement of what Christianity is,” while allowing the original document to miss the truths of Scripture.
The critical error of the larger “church” is the reluctance to disassociate form and substance. A “Common Word” is clearly an overt attempt to influence the casual reader into believing that Islam and Christianity are monotheistic faiths that worship the same “God” and are in agreement more than they are in disagreement.
Surely, the basic duty of the modern “church” is to educate the faithful.
- Foremost is that Islam and Christianity do not worship the same God; Islam specifically denies the Christian concept of God and His nature, original sin, and the basis of salvation.
- The Qur’an and the teachings and practices of Muhammad form Sharia Law, which is wholly incompatible with Grace, individual rights, religious pluralism, and a civil society, and assigns chattel status to other human beings.
- Sharia law, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are irreconcilable; Sharia law is authoritarian in both form and practice and can’t be amended or modified by faithful Muslims.
While many Western “church” leaders and governments frequently claim that Radical Islam represents a small fraction of the faith, polls in both the West and Islamic countries show frighteningly sizable minorities actually do support Sharia law and its main prescriptions. Middle East expert Brigitte Gabriel writes that in today’s world, “The peaceful majorities are irrelevant” and unable to control the violent minority.
ISIS expert, Princeton professor Bernard Haykel, recently caused a hullabaloo by saying that ISIS is in the Islamic tradition, not outside of it. He also stated that Muslims who claim ISIS is not Islamic are “just ignorant” of Islam’s legal and political history, as are Christians who engage in “the Christian tradition of interfaith dialogue [that] declares Islam a ‘religion of peace.’”
It is a dangerous time for America when many of the faith leaders and the political leaders have lost moral focus, no longer able to discern good from bad, unwilling to call evil by its name, and running away from our original spiritual calling.
However, while a significant part of the modern “church” may have abandoned virtue for popularity, faithfulness for inclusion, and display an unsureness about whether anything is worth fighting for—even the Faith of our Fathers—it doesn’t mean that that is the end of the story.
New chapters must be written by humbled citizens—the true church—calling upon the same “God of hosts” that our patriot founders called upon generations ago. It is in the American character—and the character of all God’s free people—to stand against injustice and for human liberty. To do that takes great courage, first in the pews of our churches, and then in the market place of ideas.
It will require a bottom-up revolution, one citizen at a time, just as surely as it did 238 years ago.