Thursday, April 06, 2006

a history of violence

“Yesterday, I expressed puzzlement and depression at the polling news that American Christians are more likely than non-religious Americans to support the Bush policy of torturing and abusing military detainees.

All I can say is that faith founded genuinely on Jesus could not begin to endorse such a concept (which is why I find Bush's endorsement of it so troubling). But then Christianity's history shows, alas, that Jesus' followers have not exactly always been faithful to his teachings. Today's age of politicized and intolerant Christianism seems to me to be one of those moments when Christianity has estranged itself most thoroughly from the priorities and spirit of its founder. But this will pass. Christianity will survive Christianism. Some true followers of Jesus will recover their faith from Caesar's grip at some point.”
Taken from a TIME article by Andrew Sullivan

I’ve read as people have posted one basic belief, over and over again. That Muslims are the only ones mass rioting and/or killing people who believe differently than them. And, while this may currently be true (depending on your political beliefs) it is equally as true that the church’s participation in such mass riots and killing is not null, it’s just past (again, depending on your political beliefs).

From the early days of Christianity, the church has filled history books with stories and eras where all we did was kill people who believed differently than we did. From the Roman government who eventually made Christianity the official state religion, making it illegal to believe anything else, to the Salaam witch trials, the church has a long and historic head start on what many Muslim extremists are doing now. In fact, it was only two months ago that tele-evangelist Pat Robertson called on the U.S. to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a communist.

I’ve read and heard it stated, numerous times, that the Middle East is going through its own medieval era right now. That much of its culture and society can best be compared to our medieval culture and society. Anybody remember reading what the church was doing during much of the medieval era? That’s right. Killing Muslims. We called it the crusades and, incredibly, the crusades are still glorified in some parts of the west.

It seems that, every month or so, I find myself comparing Islam’s actions to the church’s actions. Why do I do this? Is it to humiliate the church? Definitely not (though we could definitely use some humbling) it’s because I believe that, until we understand and maybe can even relate to what Muslim’s are going through right now, we’re never going to find peace with them and, more importantly, they’re never ever going to meet the real Jesus.

I swiped the following quote off of Steve Bussey’s blog last week. He was quoting Walt Mueller…

“Whoever takes interest and listens with both ears will be given the privilege of influence.”

So, before you warm up your fingers to type another excerpt on “why Islam is waaaaaaay worse than Christianity”, stop, think, and consider how we might try and understand Islam and the Middle East a little better.

Comments on "a history of violence"


Blogger surrendered said ... (6:42 PM) : 

well said, Tim. one question: what would you say about Bonhoeffer's role in the attempted assassination of Hitler? How does it relate to Pat Robertson's words?

check these two articles out: here and here.


Blogger Larry said ... (3:29 PM) : 


My son is a truth seeker. I am not sure most people would classify him as a Christian. He prays often, reads his Bible and occassionally attends a large worship gathering in the city where he attends college. He is a politcal science major with a minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies.

We had a conversation at Christmas. He does not sympathise with Muslims, but he feels we will never stop the tensions between them and western culture until we understand them. He is learning Arabic and studying the Koran all in hopes he can somehow make a difference.

I hope someday, I can be half the Christian he is.


Blogger Tim said ... (3:40 PM) : 

Me too!


Blogger Pete said ... (4:57 PM) : 

I wonder.. How do we best help correct the miseducation of the Muslim extremists who are often acting more on a gross misinterpretation of their own faith, than any truly valid Muslim virtue?

Like our own violent past (and present) - radical religious extremist motivation is deeply rooted in misinterpetation.

This may seem like a dumb question, but do those who teach these distortions, generally also believe them on any level, or are they simply exploiting their followers for their personal extremist purposes?


Blogger Tim said ... (7:40 PM) : 

Do our extremists believe the stuff they teach? I think that some do. But here’s the question I’d really like to discuss:

“How do we best help correct the miseducation of the Muslim extremists…”

This question, to me, gets at the heart of the problem. But instead of looking at them to change, I think that we should be looking at ourselves. What could we have done to prevent 911? The government is looking at it from a (mostly) military and intelligence standpoint. What we’re unwilling to ask, however, is how could we have changed their opinion of us. And I believe that that question is still viable. How can we change their opinion of us as a nation (or nations) full of people who hate them and are out to destroy their way of life?

I believe that addressing ourselves is the only way to solve the problem of young Muslims becoming Muslim extremists.


Blogger shaun said ... (8:43 PM) : 

Having just read "Evangelism and the Early Church" by MIchael Green, I think that the pattern of the ancient church is actually helpful for us. Although there were some great theologians writing major apologetic works, they were largely unheard (according to Green) by non-believers. The growth of the church was fueled by the Holy Spirit and the ethic of regular, run of the mill believers. I love theology and all but it was the way Christians lived and died the compelled people to submit to Jesus. This has to help us know what is the more effective way to "win" Muslims for Jesus (i.e. less correcting and mroe demonstration of the power of Jesus to change a life).
Also, Tim, the more I read your comments the more I think you might appreciate a book called "The Heart of Evangelism" by Jerram Barrs. It is a biblical argument for an evangelism that is very similar to what I understand you to be advocating.


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