Monday, August 28, 2006


On Islam and Christianity

Sherry on Bittersweet linked to this article by Mark Steyn which has given me a great deal of food for thought today.

Steyn uses Steve Centanni's forced conversion to Islam as a springboard to write about the concept of forced conversion in the religion of Islam. He compares the last words of Mohammad to the last words of Christ.

"Christians and Muslims are both 'people of the book.' But there’s a difference: Christianity started out as a religion of the weak, held by the lowliest in society and advanced by conversion and example, independent of the state. A distinction between religion and temporal power is embedded in its founding narratives.

"Compare the final words of Jesus to his disciples, on the day of his ascension … “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

… with the final words of Mohammed to his disciples: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say, ‘There is no god but Allah.’”

I found it ironic that Centanni and Wiig were forced to convert by gunpoint, and at the same time forced by gunpoint to say that there is no facism evident in the Islamic faith.

I struggle. I have respect for people of most every faith. I am not a strong-armed proselytizer. I don't mock other faiths, if for no other reason than because I so often fail at living my faith out.

Yet, I tend to agree with Steyn that if one of the key components of the Islamic faith is to "fight all men until they say, 'There is no god but Allah,'" then Islam is a weak faith. There is an "Achilles Heel" that is leading a good portion of the Islamic world to believe in a true theocracy--not the so-called theocracy that many on the left claim that Christians in this country want. If forcing people to convert under coercion is part of the battle cry, then are the converts ever truly converted?

Will there ever come a day when one of these rogue nations gets ahold of a nuclear warhead, aims it at our country, and threatens to annhilate one of our major cities unless our leaders "convert" to Islam? I am not an alarmist. I am not a conspiracy theorist. But I do think that it is possible. Especially when you remember that something Osama said following 9/11 was “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Mohammed.”

How, then, as Christians, do we respond to people of the Islamic faith? I am open to suggestions, and as the gears turn in my mind, will post more on the topic.

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