At the request of friends, I am transcribing some thoughts from another work to this online forum. I am concerned that we approach future relationships between Christians and Muslims and Americans and Muslims (they are different, with America’s diversity and our Constitutional guarantees of liberty of conscience and religion) with thoughtfulness. Not all readers share my religious convictions; however, I will not veil them nor impose them. It is my deep desire to see all humankind freely and joyfully discover the love, grace and liberty found in Jesus Christ. I make it my life aim to persuade women and men to believe in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus and find salvation through his suffering and victory over death. I believe that the principles and values of the Bible are the finest guide to human attitudes and actions. I also reject all notions of coercive totalitarianism, or an imposed theocracy this side of eternity. This said, I also affirm that it is the duty of Christians to bring redemptive insight to all human situations, from business ethics and property rights to the dignity of all persons from conception to coronation. An honest look at the world compels even skeptics to admit that the freest lands around the globe are those touched by Judeo-Christian values.
Here is the essay:
A Word on then 10th Anniversary of 9-11
As a Christian leader and historian, I am called upon to comment on the threat of radical Islam to America, Europe and other parts of the world. The anniversary of this tragic day is a moment to pause and pray, to reflect and respond to the love of God and the challenges we face. There are three facets of our response to those who wish to destroy our way of life and enslave (they would say, “liberate”) the world under a universal caliphate.
The first facet of response is spiritual. As a follower of Christ, I am enjoined to bless those who curse me, pray for those who persecute me and look for ways to serve even those who wish me ill. The most important response to the threat of radical Islam must be a deep spiritual awakening that leads to intimacy with God, integrity in life and positive impact in the world. For Muslims around the world (and perhaps across the street), the terms, “Christian”, “Western” and “moral decadence” are all part of the same corrupt culture they want to transform. If we are honest, we must concede that we have abused our liberties and transgressed the commands of a holy God. Authentic repentance and a renewed desire to honor God and serve others is the greatest antidote to the virus of intolerant theocracy.
The second facet is a reaffirmation that the liberties, principles and virtues undergirding the U.S. Constitution have produced the freest societies and the greatest social progress in human history. Radical Sharia law is not just a few folks wanting to practice their religion. Roman Catholics (think charities, churches and parochial schools), Orthodox Jews, Amish communities and other groups have found ways to maintain their distinctions without hastening the demise of a nation and civilization suffused with Judeo-Christian principles. We must never allow two legal systems to coexist and let any group be above the law. Islamic radicalism suppresses women, creates class distinctions among differing religions and, in some cases, rejects all the intellectual and social progress of the last 500 years (think Taliban).
The third facet: Let’s make friends with our Muslim neighbors, work together to make our neighborhoods beautiful places for families and call upon all people of goodwill to resist the totalitarian claims of Taliban, Wahhabi and other radical strains that pervert piety. There are millions of Muslims who want to live in a pluralistic world, practice their faith and make a better future for their children. When they discover that we want to life peacefully with (not under or over) them and help them reject the intolerance and violence of some of their co-religionists, the possibilities for real peace increase exponentially. There are reform-minded groups hoping to create a pluralistic Islam. They are few in number, but they deserve our respect.
Moral courage, relational outreach and spiritual awakening compel us to pray for millions to find the joy and peace that Jesus Christ offers. The Gospel is not a coercive religion – it is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that liberates all to discover God’s love and their personal destiny.
We are 13 months away from the most important presidential election in my lifetime. In my next essay I will propose some key principles for progress as I refuse to give in to fatalism and national self-destruction.