Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Question

I often write about the positive fruits that grow from the soil of Christianity. However, many respond negatively to these essays, insisting that the fruits haven't been that positive. Here’s my response to a non-Western Christian friend who took strong issue with my post, “Why the West has been Best,” arguing that such arrogant claims will not engender love for Christianity.

"Thanks for responding. Please know that I appreciate and value your viewpoint, even though we may disagree on a number of points.
Regarding Love: People really disagree about what it means to love. I think that we have to answer the question according to the person and needs of the one we are trying to love. So let me start with the youthful Christian in the West.

In the secular West, we have been fed - indoctrinated - with a steady diet of all the bad that has come out of Christianity. In fact, many non-Western scholars, like the Chinese, admire the West and attribute the success of the West to Christianity. They are perplexed by what they find in universities like Harvard - the rejection of traditional Western values - and interpret it as a form of self-contempt.

Even worse, Christians who attend such universities emerge after four or seven years with the understanding that Christ has not made a positive impact on civilization and that the church has utterly failed. Therefore, they routinely try to remake the church into something else - something it is not - convinced, by the barrage of politically-correct dogma, that the church should be ashamed of its contribution. They understandably gravitate into the modern and now-esteemed philosophies, convinced that the church requires an overhaul. They therefore campaign for women's rights to an abortion and homosexual marriage and are more inclined to embrace non-judgmental forms of practice – meditation, visualization, mystical practice – in favor of theology.

What then does it mean to love such people? I think that Western Christians need to see that there is another side of the story that has purposely been left out - the great contributions of the church, and that Christ does make a difference even on the national level.

What does it mean to love the Muslim? Ex-Muslim and now atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, writes that what Muslims need is to hear the truth, especially since everyone around them, even the West, indulges them with exactly what they want to hear, lest they riot. By refusing to hear any criticism of Islam, they are in denial:

  • The West needs to help Muslims help themselves, and not support them in their illusion by avoiding the underlying questions…This change can only begin by subjecting the sources of Islam to thorough critical examination. (The Caged Virgin, 13-14)
Love sometimes must take the form of tough-love and confrontation. Speaking as a Christian and not a Westerner, I think that there is a valuable place for people like you who want to love the Muslim in nurturing ways in hope that they will awaken to the love of Christ. Many at Jesus-for-Muslims believe this way, and I certainly admire much of the good work that they have done.

However, I also think that people who confront and debate Islam, like the people at abnsat.com, are also providing a valuable and loving service, even though they might be despised by Muslims for what they perceive as unloving, critical conduct.

Your Brother in Christ, Daniel”

However, I later tried to build a biblical case for my position and was finding difficulty in doing so. This doesn’t mean that my position is necessarily mis-guided, but it does cause me to hesitate.

I certainly welcome the feedback from others on my stance.

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