In the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing I’m seeing a lot of commentators demanding we call a spade a spade and identify Islam as the global problem of our time.
Several of them claim we’ve been pandering to Muslim extremists by downplaying the danger they represent. Enough of all this political correctness, they say, we should be bold enough to use the words “Islam” and “terrorism” in the same sentence.
In fact, they say, by refusing to lay responsibility for global terrorism firmly at the feet of Islam we’re setting ourselves up as sitting ducks.
One columnist, Miranda Devine started her piece this way:
“We can’t keep our children safe. Every concert, every train ride, every walk across a bridge, every gap year trip to Europe, every cafe visit is fraught with fear. And that is exactly how the Muslim fanatics want it, the inadequate, baselessly arrogant fans of Islamic State with hearts full of scorn and hatred for the free societies which have taken their families in, nurtured them, and offered them every freedom. They kill our children on purpose. They maim deliberately with nail bombs to rip through soft flesh, mutilate pretty faces, butcher young limbs.”
Aside from the misinformation about the likelihood of death by terror attack (you’re more likely to die of the flu or choking on food), there’s a holier-than-thou attitude expressed by many of these commentators.
White Christians seem quick to identify Islam as the problem as though our history of death-dealing never existed.
In fact, we’re not living in a unique age of terrorism today. People were in much greater danger of terror attack in Britain in the 1970s and 80s at the hands of the (white Christian) IRA.
In the US, there were exponentially more terror attacks – bombings, assassinations, violent bank robberies – perpetrated by armed radical underground cells in the 1960s and 70s (by such groups at the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army), than there are home-grown Islamic terror attacks on US soil today.
And, yeah, sure, a lot of those guys weren’t claiming to be Christians, but can we really claim that Christianity doesn’t kill its enemies?
Didn’t Martin Luther advocate the execution of Jews and Anabaptists?
Weren’t we responsible for the Crusades? And the Inquisition. And the burning of heretics, and reformers, and suspected witches. And the Ku Klux Klan.
Let’s face it, us Christians have reigned in terror more than once throughout history.
But even if you want to dismiss all that as long ago, and say it was perpetrated by people who weren’t real Christians, remember this.
We stand on soil stolen from First Nations people. Our churches are built on the ground from which they were driven, either by disease or at the muzzle of a gun. We benefit from a system that was forged by slavery and the theft of indigenous children from their families. Our forebears inflicted terror upon them and our economic system is built on their suffering.
Can we really say Islam is the problem any more than Christendom or communism or colonialism or any other religion or ideology?
It seems to me that human beings are the problem. Broken people of whatever religion, ideology or cultural background are capable of devastating evil. Blaming Islam seems like the easy option. It’s much more difficult and confronting to take a good hard look at ourselves and our capacity for violence and cruelty.
But what Jesus actually taught – not the system of Christendom – that’s another story. As theologian Stanley Hauerwas describes it, Jesus came to show us an entirely new way to be human, a vision of entry into a new, redeemed society of transformed humanity. He writes,
“When he called his society together Jesus gave its members a new way of life to live.
He gave them a new way to deal with offenders – by forgiving them.
He gave them a new way to deal with violence – by suffering.
He gave them a new way to deal with money – by sharing it.
He gave them a new way to deal with problems of leadership – by drawing upon the gift of every member, even the most humble.
He gave them a new way to deal with a corrupt society – by building a new order, not smashing the old.
He gave them a new pattern of relationship between man and woman, between parent and child, between master and slave, in which was made concrete a radical new vision of what it means to be a human person.”
It seems to me that in embracing this remarkable vision of a new kind of human society we need to be humble enough to admit the myriad ways Christendom has fallen way short over the past 2000 years. Islam is not the answer. Neither is Maoism or Marxism or secular humanism. They’re all broken systems. But so too is Christendom.
But as for the way of Jesus, I’m inclined to agree with GK Chesterton in saying that it “hasn’t been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried”.
15 thoughts on “Blaming Islam is just too easy”
And so Mike, not denying a thing you said…who or what was to blame for the murder of these people…sin….yes…but whose….everyone but then no ones, one persons and so no one else…indeed not easy…so who or what…?
The perpetrators are to blame. I’m suggesting we stop blaming some monolithic ‘Islam’ out there, and recognise the evil within us all.
Please read the Quran in chronological order, it can be found here http://www.qran.org/q-chrono.htm . Read the Sira or Life of Muhammad alongside it following the timeline. The Sira starts before the Quran does, but the Sira tells you when to start reading the Quran in Chronological Order. Once you read those two, then read all the Hadith in the Sahih Bukhair or Sahih Muslim. After that we can talk. Yes it is Islam.
I didn’t say Islam doesn’t have a relationship to violence. I haven’t read enough of the Quran. Obviously you have. But whenever I post something about gun control or capital punishment or pacifism I have a plethora of Christians quoting the Bible to justify killing.
” I haven’t read enough of the Quran. ” Then what makes you think you can pontificate about this in such an ill-informed &, frankly, dangerous, fashion? There is more than enough material available by responsible Christian apologists with a deep understanding of Islam that I, a humble layperson, can put my hands on, then you, as a leader, should have done so before you put forward what is really no more than the kind of nonsense Islamists claim as their justification for hating Christians. And do you really imagine for one minute that flogging such straw men as Luther’s prejudices, the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts & the KKK in any way enlightens the issues here?
“….we need to be humble enough to admit the myriad ways Christendom has fallen way short over the past 2000 years”. And you don’t think the fact that “Christendom” looks nothing like this today might just suggest to you the fact that she HAS been humble enough to deal with those areas where she fell short? This, however, is not the case with Islam, as it is a literal understanding of the Quran which is behind these terror attacks (or, at the least, confusion over its myriad self-contradictions), not, as is the case of “the myriad ways Christendom has fallen way short over the past 2000 years”, where each has involved a CLEAR CORRUPTION of the Scriptures which has led to them.
Ok, again I agree that there is no monolithic Islam, and there is individual responsibility, but are there not ideas and ideologies, powers and principalities, etc. Which need also to be named and challenged etc?
It seems apparent to me Sir that you have NEVER read a word of the Quran or Hadith. How can a person responsibly discuss a subject he honestly has never bothered to research? and then go public with it? Thats absolutely irresponsible. I bet you do not blame the Nazi ideology for the holocaust either. Actually indeed i cannot cos guess what? I do not have very much first hand information about Nazi ideology. How can i therefore responsibly comment about it. Read the quran and hadith and understand Islam first before making these kinds of commentaries.
Islam is a key contributing factor, not radical Islam, but conservative Islam. We don’t need to blame Islam as a whole, just the conservative wing that takes Mohammad seriously when he commands his followers to kill apostates and followers of the way.
The key difference is that Jesus never endorsed pursuing his mission through violence. Mohammad did. So your right in one sense, we need to make sure we are pusuing the mission of Jesus, the non-violent sharing of His gospel and as part of that identifying those who misrepresent him and calling them out. But it’s both and, not either or, critiquing Islam is both ok, and necessary. Because pushing the mission of Mohammad through violence is Islamic orthodoxy. Even if in the West we have groups of Liberal Muslims who don’t, globally the picture is very different.
Christendom has done enough critiquing / criticising of things that it sees as “the problem”. How about we try shutting our righteous mouths, and start with the difficult job of following Jesus – perhaps then when we speak of the Gospel people will be more inclined to listen.
Oh, and perhaps learn a thing or two from the coptic christians who live side by side with their muslim neighbours, are at much greater risk of terrorism than us and still manage to model the way of Jesus. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/april-web-only/forgiveness-muslims-moved-coptic-christians-egypt-isis.html
“Broken people of whatever religion, ideology or cultural background are capable of devastating evil.”
This is true and an essential point. As is the opposite: Broken people of whatever religion, ideology or cultural background are capable of profound goodness. As Jesus points out in the powerful story of the good samaritan.
But while our posture should always be forgiveness “new way to deal with offenders – by forgiving them”, how do we appropriately advocate for justice for the victims?
Is critique of Islam, christendom, atheism or a broader ideology ever appropriate? What about condemnation?
It is interesting that at the time of the bombing in Manchester every political party in the UK is publishing their manifestos for every voter to read. These manifestos are a written declaration of what each particular party believes and intends to act upon if elected. They want you to understand their position and if you agree then to act by voting for them. That is what the manifestos are for, and we agree and welcome them for their political guidance.
Islam has a manifesto; the Koran and their other writings, upon which every true Muslim is expected to believe and live by, which as we know, has no place for and ultimately would destroy any who believe in and follow the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Others have mentioned this. Some predominantly Muslim countries do this with immunity.
Is it not then fully committed, dedicated Islamists who are doing the bombings? Why do we call them misguided terrorists. Aren’t they just being true to their religion? I don’t believe Islamists who stand up and defend their religion as being a peaceful religion. Read their manifesto.
I am told as a Christian that I am to ignore their manifesto; to love them and forgive them, and go about my way. However, I also love my kids, grandkids, great-grandchildren who will suffer increasingly from the actions of these people. But I am being told by politically correct people/Christians that I am not to take the overt steps needed to protect my family from these true and faithful Islamists.
I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but it takes little foresight and practical wisdom to predict Manchester is just another of an increasingly expected number of onslaughts to our society. Our leaders believe this too by pouring more police onto the streets and public gatherings. And when it happens we will hear from our leaders that once again it is just some misguided terrorists.
The Bible says the the root of problems lies in the heart, the motivating and activating centre of behaviour. Christ, we say as evangelicals can change the heart, thereby acknowledging that the heart has to be dealt with if surface problems are to be dealt with, avoided, or changed. And political leaders are appointed by God to assure that everyone can live in peace and safety. (So we have driving laws, slavery laws etc, etc. etc. All acceptable by us for the wellbeing of our society)
At present out leaders are fiddling around the edges of the Muslim problem, pouring troops, police, money, time, investigations, and energy into trying to contain the bombings. But political correctness, and the freedom given to all religious groups to exist regardless does not permit anyone to call attention to the heart of the matter and act to accordingly.
The heart of the matter lies in the manifesto of Islam. We can have driving laws, and slavery laws to protect the innocent, but not laws against the manifesto of the Muslims that is equally destroying the innocent.
Let’s be bold and creative Christians and deal with the heart problem by acknowledging it, exposing it (speaking the truth in love), and take appropriate actions to deal with the heart of the problem. Where are the Christian leaders with the knowledge, ability, experience and guts to do this?
The Egyptian Coptics are giving us a Jesus-shaped response. Francis of Assisi and the children’s pilgrimage that met in a different way with Saladin during the horrendous Crusades gave a us a different model. The scriptures advocate neither a naive love that ignores human evil, nor a form of truth that denies love sees that things that pure justice alone does not. In Martin Luther King’s words our “Strength to Love” lives in the space of “Being wise as serpents and gentle as doves.
Our pluralist western setting can gutlessly and blindly call prophetic critique of other cultures and religion “judgemental”. Unfortunately, there remains plenty of evidence from within the western church that fear and hated filled attitudes fuel a failure to love strangers and our enemies turning up in blanket statements categorising all Muslims as as perpetrators of violence in the wings. The fundamental characteristic of the true Biblical prophets of old was their deep love for and identification with those to whom they spoke with such truthful directness. And with their call they carrried a sense of responsibility to represent all of whom God is to those to whom God had sent them to speak.
We must not, we cannot separate love and truth in this toxic complex space. A cross shaped prophetic position that names the reality of violence as sin, and the particular thinking that fuelled it but lives the way of the Crucified One is our pathway. Finally, it ought give us pause that such great feeling is being outpoured for the Manchester tragedy when simultaneously the terrorist bombings this week in Jakarta and East Java have occupied little media attention or weighed on western awareness. Why is that? What does it suggest to us about our mind set and fears and deficits in compassion?
You do realise that the people you are trying to reach. “The bigoted ones”, will never read the Koran, have probably never read the Bible either. They love to believe anyone who is different is wrong. Ask them their beliefs and they bluster and say peace of course. Yet these same people spread this harmful rhetoric all the time.
Total ignorance masquerading as informed comment
We get to discuss our failures and faults because we are products of the west. Western society is founded on Judaic Christian values. Yes we acknowledge colonisation, conflict and gross injustice perpetrated by us our ancestors. We make no claim to be perfect; the same cannot be said of many other civilisations. In fact our capacity to beat ourselves endlessly for all our crimes is only matched by those who are happy to watch us do it, particularly those who see our civilisation as nothing more that kafir culture.
Are the sins of our ancestors against the aboriginal people of our continent forgiven Mike? Or does Christ need to take to the cross again? Racism isn’t dead and it never will be. We acknowledge loud and clear those crimes.
Has western civilisation contributed nothing to humanity? Factual history proves otherwise. Is it worth defending or should it die?
You have a platform and a responsibility Mike so where was your mention of the brutality and violence of Islamic conquest, the conquest and subjugation that came out of Arabia and conquered the lands and peoples of North Africa, Syria, Turkey (Asia minor), India, Afghanistan, Spain, Eastern Europe etc. And your mention of the Barbary Raids and Islamic slave trade? These events are all historic FACT. We don’t talk of them now because to do so would be racist or politically incorrect. Only white men have caused sin in the world right?
If you haven’t read the Quran, the Hadith’s (Burkari & Muslim) or the Sira (Muhammad’s Bio) then as suggested by other commenters here, you really should bring yourself up to speed and quickly. As someone with a platform it would be the only responsible thing to do. This textual trilogy is normative/foundational Islam. 91 verses in the Quran command believers to follow the example of Muhammad and where is his example found? The Hadith’s and the Sira. These texts are all by Islamic scholars and are acknowledged as foundational and authoritative, FACT period. I read them regularly to understand why we are hated, why we are kafirs.
Was the Manchester bomber not following in the example of his prophet, was he not aware of Muhammad’s commands? The only authorities on Islam are Allah and Muhammad. I don’t conflate Islam with Muslims because one makes the other not the other way round.
Oh and the crusades, those evil crusades. The moral equivalent of 1400 years of Jihad in all its forms? As a Christian, Mike then surely you know what they were a response to? And what a belated response they were, one of the only times western Christians responded to the cries of help from their eastern brothers and sisters.
Also I thought I’d let you know that your articles are being picked by a group called “Muslims For Progressive Values” who are posting your opinions via their Facebook page. I’ve attended their “Meet A Muslim” events, which are now occurring around Australia. The events are eye opening in that much time is spent reading verses from the Meccan Quran as well as in the case of the meeting I attended, attacking Christian scripture and schooling gullible non-believers (kafirs) on what Islam is really all about. I’d recommend you attend one of these ongoing meetings in your nearest capital city and judge for yourself.
Oh and Chesterton wasn’t exactly fond of Islam, in fact he saw it for what it was, he indeed called a spade a spade. Something we seem unprepared to do to our own peril. Our problem now is we are so divided and that we attack each other rather than focusing on the actual problem.
Islam denys and distorts foundational Christian doctrine Mike, its all there in the Quran for you to read for yourself. Muhammad loved his neighbors so much that this is what he had to say about Christians and Jews on his deathbed –
Burkari, Book 56: Volume 4, Number 660,
On his deathbed Allah’s Apostle put a sheet over his-face and when he felt hot, he would remove it from his face. When in that state (of putting and removing the sheet) he said, “May Allah’s Curse be on the Jews and the Christians for they build places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” (By that) he intended to warn (the Muslim) from what they (i.e. Jews and Christians) had done.
Bear in mind these were the final thoughts of a dying man. I simply refuse to become a useful idiot or enabler for Islam and in the end a Dhimmi.
Happy to talk to you anytime though about these matters.