Islam is in the news a lot these days.
Sadly, much of the coverage is negative. Self-identified Islamic militants are causing havoc across the world, from Paris to Baghdad, from Pakistan to Orlando.
Now obviously not all Muslims are militants – most just want to live in peace.
But some secular commentators see the problem of Islamist violence as nothing more than the misuse and abuse of Islam (a ‘religion of peace’). In this view, all religions are equally good: the only problem is fanatics and radicals twisting (good) religion for their own perverted ends.
But if the only problem is fanatics twisting religion – and fanatics are presumably found in every religion – then wouldn’t you expect to see equal numbers of such fanatics causing havoc around the world in the name of another religion, like Christianity?
Where is the Christian Al-Quaeda, the Christian Al-Shabab, or the Christian ISIS?
Why aren’t western Christians heading to such organisations, like western Muslims are to IS?
In a recent article, Egyptian-born American scholar of Islam, Raymond Ibrahim, makes a provocative claim:
Because Christianity is radically different to Islam, it has a different effect on individuals and societies. Just look at the western world.
And this leads to 3 stunning truths about Christianity and the secular west:
1) Without Christianity, The Modern Western World (As We Know It) Wouldn’t Exist
Western views of morality and human rights arose from a Christian view of reality.
Writing against the common secularist view that Christianity had no positive impact on the development of the western world, Ibrahim writes:
Forgotten (or suppressed) is that Western civilization did not develop in a vacuum. All values prized by the modern West—religious freedom, tolerance, humanism, gender equality, monogamy—are inextricably rooted to Judeo-Christian principles which, over the course of some 2,000 years, have had a profound influence on Western epistemology, society and culture.
While they are now taken for granted and seen as “universal,” it’s not for nothing that these values were born and nourished in Christian—not Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, or pagan—nations.”
French Atheist philosopher Luc Ferry has also written about Christianity’s impact on democracy and human rights:
Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity – an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.’
That’s not what you find in the Islamic world.
2) Christians Don’t Have to Become ‘Moderate’ to Fit Peacefully Into the Western World
But many Muslims do.
In western societies, we’re rightly concerned about ‘radical’ Muslims – the ones that hold to Sharia law, the subservience of women and non-Muslims, and are anti-democratic. Yet this is Islam as it’s practiced across much of the Muslim world – from Saudi Arabia to Somalia.
And so, we hope and expect that Muslims in our country would be ‘moderate’ – meaning westernised in some way – not wanting to impose Sharia law on the rest of us, and adopting western views of human rights.
But as Ibrahim points out, when it comes to Christians,
Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, Christians don’t have to “moderate” their religion to coexist peacefully in the secular West… there are no “moderate” and “radical” Christians. The teachings of their holy book comport quite well with the laws governing society (unsurprisingly so, since many of these laws are based on the principles of that book).”
My Christian view of human dignity fits extremely well with western views of human dignity because Christianity is largely the basis for these views.
3) There is No ‘Univeral Moral Code’ that All Religions/Cultures Hold To
Different religions have different worldviews, leading to different moral codes.
Many secular commentators naively assume western human rights (arising from a Judeo-Christian view of reality) are universally held across religions and cultures.
This is demonstrably false. Just visit a Hindu country, with its oppressive caste system, and it’s view of Karma. Or a Muslim country, with its view of women, and non-Muslims.
Ibrahim understands why these differences exist:
Overlooked is that the Muslim has his own unique and ancient worldview and set of principles—which in turn prompt behavior that is deemed “radical” by Western standards…
Should We Value The Source Of Western Morality?
If Christianity has had such a positive impact on our western world – especially on the rights and morals we hold dear – then shouldn’t our society have a higher view of Christianity?
After all, if Christianity is responsible for our view of human dignity, then what happens when Christianity leaves the western building?