Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brian McLaren, Islamophobia and a bit of Evangelophobia

When the world needs to firmly hold Islam to account for their violent reactions to an offensive anti-Islamic film, postmodern, emergent pastor-guru, Brian McLaren is pointing his accusing finger against Evangelicals: “We must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.”

After reciting a list of Evangelical voices McLaren regards as “Islamophobic,” he then asks:

  • Will they [Islamophobic evangelical Christians] press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility? 
McLaren fails to distinguish between what we believe about Islam and how we regard and treat individual Muslims. He therefore equates having negative ideas regarding this religion with “hate” and “Islamophobia” and a failure to love. However, maturity requires open eyes as we perform acts of love. We can love the criminal, but we can also dislike his behavior. Okay, this isn’t easy, but this is our calling, and it’s also necessary. Jesus would have us be as wise as serpents and gentle as lambs.

Instead, McLaren argues that love requires us to have a favorable impression of Islam:

  • The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction.
Of course, we must love the Muslim and seek their ultimate good. However, love never demands that we close our eyes to the dangers. We cannot abandon “us-them thinking.” Islam is not Christianity. And the Nazis weren’t Jews. Should the Jews have believed the best about the Nazis as they were being hauled away to extermination camps? Should Israel ignore Iran’s threats to destroy them in a nuclear conflagration? Must we only believe warm-fuzzies about the people we endeavor to help? Of course not!

According to Christianity Today, an average of 170,000 Christians are suffering martyrdom yearly, many of these in Islamic nations. Are we to close our eyes to this? Are we not to raise our voices against those who are doing this, even if it engenders more hostility? Does it also mean that we should remain silent in face of the suffering, much of which is Muslim on Muslim violence? Much we instead indulge the Muslim militants, lest they act-out in a more violent way? And won’t such indulgence undermine the moderates who are pushing for change?

Must the West blind themselves to the fact that Muslims remain a hostile minority? According to Western leaders, integrating Muslims into Western culture has proved an unqualified flop. Last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the:

  • …tendency had been to say, “Let’s adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side…” But this concept has failed and failed utterly.
Merkel is not alone in this assessment.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined the growing chorus. According to World (March 26, 2011, p.24):

  • He made the statement in a televised debate…that efforts to accommodate religious and cultural differences were clearly a “failure.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron had even stated,

  • Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.
However, Cameron shouldn’t be too quick to assume all the blame. Their Muslim populations are merely following the Koran. According to a fatwa (judgment; # 59879; Muslims are forbidden to take friends from among non-Muslims:

  • Undoubtedly the Muslim is obliged to hate the enemies of Allaah and to disavow them, because this is the way of the Messengers and their followers. Allaah says:
[Surah 60:4] “Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibraaheem (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allaah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever until you believe in Allaah Alone’”

  • Based on this, it is not permissible for a Muslim to feel any love in his heart towards the enemies of Allaah who are in fact his enemies too. Allaah says:
[Surah 60:1] “O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e. disbelievers and polytheists) as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth”

  • But if a Muslim treats them with kindness and gentleness in the hope that they will become Muslim and will believe, there is nothing wrong with that, because it comes under the heading of opening their hearts to Islam. But if he despairs of them becoming Muslim, then he should treat them accordingly.
What does it mean to love the Islamic world? Does it mean to blind ourselves about its true nature and the problems that the West has encountered in trying to assimilate them? McLaren blames Christians for not having enough Muslim friends to enlighten them to the fact that Muslims can be very kind and hospitable.

Perhaps some of us are blind to this fact. However, being willfully blind to the worldwide phenomena of Islam doesn’t help. I think that it is important for Christians to be knowledgeable about Islam before entering into such friendships. They need to know about the doctrine of Taqiyya which authorizes Muslims to lie to the infidel in order to promote Islam, even if not all Muslims are so motivated.

Closing our eyes because of a liberal, mushy idea of love, is not love. If we are to love, we have to be understanding so that we will know how to love, to serve others according to their needs.

What is it that we need to know about Islam? While McLaren attributes Islamic violence and coercion to only “the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence,” the evidence suggests that it is endemic to their sacred texts – the Koran and the Hadiths. Consequently, the entire Islamic world – and this includes the Islamic community in the West – has a strong tendency towards violence and coercion.

The recent uprisings even serve as evidence of this fact. It is not only the irresponsible exercise of free speech that incurs bloodshed but any criticism of Islam. If we are going to enter into friendships with Muslims, we need to be aware of this.

However, McLaren derides the fact that Christians seek to become knowledgeable about the people who live next door:

  • Many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine…in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia.
While McLaren condemns what he calls “Islamophobia” – the judging and hating of Islam – it seems that he is very ready to judge and condemn Christians. Perhaps we should call it a bit of “Evangeliphobia.”

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