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March 10th 2016 print

Jim Campbell

Kidding Ourselves About Islam

The West's feather-footed leaders tread softly when extolling "moderate" Muslims as the purported antidote to the creed's literalist firebrands and militant extremists. What they lack the courage to acknowledge is that the Qur'an is itself the fountainhead of radicalism

islam worldOne would need to be the infamous Blind Freddy not to recognise that the West is on a hiding to nothing as it struggles to contend with its Islamic imbroglio. There are many reasons for this but I suggest the most dangerous are found in the many common and comforting consensuses that have arisen over the Religion of Peace, as some would have it. These are no more than convenient delusions.

Perhaps the most dangerous consensus is the misconception that Islamic State (ISIS), the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist variants are the problem to be addressed and that, with sufficient firepower, the obvious manifestations of these elements can be contained or eliminated. In fact these groups are simply elements of a much larger issue: the re-emergence of a militant and resurgent Islam.

History shows that the drive for a worldwide Islamic caliphate is as old as the Qur’an itself, and in the 1,400 years since the Muslims’ sacred text appeared, the religion’s fortunes in achieving that goal have waxed and waned. Today we see a revitalization of this dream, but this time there are significant, profound differences. First, younger Islamic leaders are practicing Islam as explicitly prescribed in the Qur’an, and it is important to note that a high proportion of Muslims in Western nations are under 25 years of age. Second, over the past century Islam has moved from being Middle Eastern-centric, with but a meager demographic representation in traditional secular democracies, to having sizeable Muslim populations in those countries. Third, events in the Middle East, together with Islamist-sanctioned terrorist events across the globe, have given encouragement to those who share the hope of a worldwide caliphate. Fourth, modern technology and better management among Islamic leaders is being used to orchestrate a more coherent Islamic narrative, one that is backed by contemporary firepower.

Simply put, the obvious threats on which the West is focused, whilst their containment or defeat may play a role, are not the main game. Moreover, the focus on these distractions is playing into the hands of resurgent Islam as the West wastes money, resources and time pursuing chimeras.

The second consensus is that Muslims are being radicalized because they are disillusioned, uneducated or marginalized. These characteristics may play a part in some cases but the more likely explanation is that those being radicalised are being convinced by their handlers to follow the dictates of the Qur’an in the hope of the rewards promised. The Qur’an’s coercive management style incentivises believers to undertake “good deeds”, such as praying, alms-giving and the like. The literalist interpretation, as favoured and advocated by radical elements and preachers, sees this admonition extended to include donning the veil, leading protests against perceived grievances and imagined slights. It is a small step to the point where quite horrific “good deeds” are perpetrated in the name of Islam — going off to fight with ISIS, for example, or preaching that it is the religious duty of others to do so.

The third misconception is the hope that those who have been radicalised can be de-radicalised, with much money spent on programs pitched as achieving this goal. In an excellent Quadrant Online article last year, the University of New South Wales’ Clive Kessler, emeritus professor of sociology, demonstrated persuasively that deradicalisation is a pipedream. Kessler’s summation:

Restoring the militants to the mainstream seen as “good Islam” does not even start to confront or uproot the underlying attitudes that drive radical Islam, as those attitudes are themselves inherent and ingrained within the mainstream mindset and outlook and its basic assumptions.

And there’s the rub. It matters little if the Muslim mainstream goes along with the idea of de-radicalisation programs, calls for more action by government and, inevitably, requests more money: the precepts of the Qur’an ensure that, while individuals may be restored to the mainstream, the message itself remains an inherent element of holy scripture and is thus always available to be preached and attract fresh acolytes.

The fourth misconception is that there are moderate Muslims. But how do you distinguish them? Is it someone who follows the dictates of the Qur’an but skips over the nasty bits? Is it someone who is a Muslim in name only: a sort of atheistic Muslim? Is it someone who believes in the dictates of the Qur’an and a worldwide caliphate but is letting others do the hard yards? Whatever a moderate Muslim is or might be, the West’s banking that they represent the majority — a silent majority that, ideally, will reject and overthrow the religion’s evil manifestations. But what if this assumption is wrong? It is true that here are many forms of Islam — Sufi, Sunni, Salifist, Shia — to name but a few, and some seem friendlier than others. Nevertheless, however each has developed its own version of Islam, all Muslims read the same Qur’an and that has not changed in over 1,400 years. And there is the problem.

With the above in mind, another very popular misconception is that Islam should reform the Qur’an: a sort of Islamic reformation akin to the transformation Martin Luther and others wrought on Christianity. This idea has been floated by both Muslims and non-Muslims, notably President Sisi of Egypt and deposed Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Is the idea practical? As noted above, there are many manifestations of Islam and they lack  a “centre” to weld these fractious and multitudinous forms together. Islam’s various forms continuously compete for both physical and theological dominance, as history graphically attests. The chances of getting any agreement across all forms is negligible to the point of the fanciful.

A second, more fraught issue is, once again, the Qur’an itself. Re-writing a text deemed by all factions to be the word of Allah, a perfect document, is another pipedream. Incidentally, the analogy to Christianity is something of a red herring, as the Christian reformation did not change any words in the Bible, it simply clarified erroneous interpretations of Biblical precepts. Had it done otherwise it would never have succeeded. One cannot imagine that the Prophet’s instruction to, say, “strike at the neck” of unbelievers could be made less bloodthirsty, regardless of the theological legerdemain brought to bear.

Perhaps the most dangerous misconception that has gained some traction is the notion that Islamic and Christian values, and by default secular democratic values, are similar.This was suggested recently by a professor of religious studies no less, and on the ABC’s Q&A program by a Muslim guest. The most astonishing aspect was not the theological invalidity of the statements, but that no member of the panel or of the audience sought to take issue with the assertion. That silence said a lot about Australia’s spiritual immaturity, as nothing could be further from the truth, as the precepts of Islam and Christianity are diametric opposites. Islam pits Muslims against non-Muslims; Christianity instructs followers to love their neighbors as themselves. Islam’s aim is the subjugation of all to the God of the Qur’an; Christianity asks people to consider the claims of the God of the Bible and make personal decisions. Islam offers salvation through the coercive performance of “good deeds”; Christianity’s salvation comes through faith in promises of the God of the Bible. Are these differences important? They should be for the West, whose secular democracy is founded on the precepts of the Bible. On this issue the West is myopic behind its rose-coloured glasses.

So, what can the West do? It must offer something to Muslims more attractive than Islam, something that draws Muslims to its core principles, something they will want to be part of.  What’s that you say? Of course we can! We’ve got our wonderful secular democracy and all its modern diversions and indulgences. But is it so wonderful?

Scratch the surface, or just pay attention to the daily news, and what we observe is a society that is hedonistic and materialistic, awash with drugs, alcohol and sex and governed by political correctness. Over the past sixty years the acceptance of liberal ideologies has led to the situation where the Judeo-Christian ethos that framed the West’s secular democracy has been eroded to the point where, on the sober assessment of an Islamist outsider, our society is weak and flabby. Moreover, and of primary importance to Muslims, is the abandonment by the West of the God of the Bible, the author of that Judeo-Christian heritage. The West has lost its moral and spiritual capital and is becoming a danger to itself, irrespective of resurgent Islam. At the very least, if the West is not the agent of its own destruction it is certainly offering Islamists of all stripes a very convenient platform on which to pursue their objectives.

What can the West do? The answer is simple but requires courage, hard work, and some eating of humble pie. The West must accept that micro-managing threats and force of arms alone is not the real issue, as outlined at the start of this article. Political leaders, religious leaders, and community leaders all need to recognize there must also be a spiritual response – our secular democracy, with all its liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment, will never be able to articulate a narrative with man at its centre that is attractive to Muslims. As noted before, the West has become so satiated with its own enlightened righteousness that it does not recognise that all the benefits it enjoys come from the precepts of the God it has abandoned. The commentator Greg Sheridan has astutely noted when speaking of Iran:

No one in the West takes the idea of God seriously any more and cannot conceive of a government whose actual real behaviour is determined by theological goals.

Western leaders must understand these realities and encourage their nations to regain their moral and spiritual capital by recognizing and admitting our past mistakes and engaging or re-engaging with the God of the Bible. In doing so the West can regain its moral and spiritual capital and be in a better position to demonstrate the truth with love to Muslims and show by example that this renewed pattern of secular democracy can offer the certainty, confidence and freedom that all people long for. However difficult this road may be, unless the West takes this lead the outcome can only be calamity for all mankind.

UPDATE (and editor’s note): It is to be regretted that, at the time the original article appeared on Quadrant Online, a cyber snafu prevented the author responding to several of the reader comments below. Rather than retro-fit the response into the comments stream, where it might be overlooked, Mr Campbell’s thoughts are presented below.

First, thank you to all who have contributed and for the constructive nature of the discussion. And thanks to Ian who suggested that the author and Mark should not abandon our day jobs!

It is clear that the concept of encouraging the West to re-engage with the God of the Bible has some people running for cover. Unfortunately, they do so under a number of old clichés that should be put to bed: a bit like Mr Hitchens (sorry Rob Brighton). In summary: we don’t like the idea of repent and believe; there is the concern that the suggested approach will uproot liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment and send us back to the Middle Ages; the idea smacks of a reversion to a theocracy; and the old chestnut that the Reformation and the Enlightenment were the formative events that shaped Christianity to the point where it is today. Let’s start with the last point.

Today we look on the Reformation and the Enlightenment as the two fundamental events that straightened out Christianity and Christianity can now be considered as the child of the Reformation and the Enlightenment’s liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment. It’s true these two movements did rescue Christianity from going off the rails: the designs of men had high-jacked Christianity for their own benefit. Then, having considered Christianity ‘fixed’, we lost sight of understanding what the Bible was really saying to us. But, and it’s a big but, the Reformation and the Enlightenment did not change one word of the Bible and it is with the God of the Bible that I am suggesting the West must engage. I will now look at the other issues noted above not using fashionable theology but that of the Bible.

Several comments (wse999 and Ian MacDougall) suggest that I am proposing a form of theocracy, abandoning the concept of church and state: far from it. In the Bible Jesus made it quite clear that there is to be that separation when answering a question from the Jewish leaders. This directive is further emphasized in Peter’s first pastoral letter in which he instructs Christians to submit to every authority instituted by men. In a slightly tangential but relevant way Jesus instructed his followers to make disciples from all nations not to make all nations disciples. Christianity is big enough to look after itself: it does not need the State to do so as does Islam. And note, Christianity is an opt-in deal and my call to leaders, and that includes political, spiritual, and community leaders, is to encourage people to opt-in, not to ignore it as is presently happening or dragoon it.

Another expressed concern is that the approach could lead to the dumbing down of liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment (Ian MacDougall,) and a reversion to the Middle Ages. Again, far from it, but here I must admit to not being sufficiently precise and probably taking too much for granted.

You could hardly get a more liberal person than Jesus. Reading the Gospels we see him constantly upbraiding, and in dispute with, the Jewish authorities over their nitpicking laws, their hypocrisy and their political correctness. He constantly said he was the truth and the truth would liberate people – and he meant it! Again, Jesus’ life was a model of modernity demonstrated by his relationships with others, his compassion, his understanding, and his empathy. As regards women he was not just ahead of his time but set an example that our modernity would be battling to emulate today.

In regard to scientific enlightenment Jesus was more than impressive: amongst other example he walked on water, he created much out of little, he healed all manner of diseases and physical ailments, he raised people from death, on several occasions he used teleporting, and he cured mental illnesses. And, without being irreverent, my two favourites, he knew how to spot a school of fish and he could turn water into wine. Scientific enlightenment, eat you heart out: today we are just scratching the surface.

No, I am in no way suggesting the dumbing down or abandonment of, liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment. What I am suggesting is that by reengaging with the God of the Bible we can put in place a moral and spiritual floor under these three strands of secular democracy that will enable us to discern in them what is good and right and, in the long, run best for mankind. At the moment we are footloose and fancy free with no centre to give direction and guidance and our society is suffering for it. I’m sure readers can come up with a laundry list of examples but one of real concern to me is that our political leaders can’t even make a decision.

One G K Chesterton character made the remark, ‘the first effect of not believing in God is that you lose your common sense’. I agree it could be taken as a trite and cute remark but think about it. How often today do we hear the phrase, ‘What ever happened to common sense?’ Or, ‘it doesn’t pass the pub test’. May I suggest that the Chesterton remark could provide the answer?

Thank you to Mark Smith, Matt, and Bran Dee for your supportive comments. Bran Dee, as regards the Church you are correct. For this reason I have clearly identified church leaders as having a critical role in forcefully alerting society to its appalling state. As the article stated we are facing two threats, Islam on the one hand and the seeds we continue to sow for our own destruction. It is almost as if we are in the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah. If you want to bring in history then perhaps Islam is the West’s Babylon or Assyria! In either case church leaders have to step up to the plate and put aside interfaith dialogue and political correctness and start to preach ‘repent and believe!’ Ian, take note!

Bill Martin, thank you for your exhaustive list of Qur’anic imperatives. But Bill, as I have said, bombs and bullets may be part of the action but in the final issue if we cannot provide an environment where we can win people over with love then it’s not worth the candle.

 

Jim Campbell, an engineer and consultant, is the author of The Logic of the Qur’an

Comments [19]

  1. Mark Smith says:

    “Perhaps the most dangerous misconception that has gained some traction is the notion that Islamic and Christian values, and by default secular democratic values, are similar”.

    Yes. Argue as a Christian with a Muslim directly about Christ’s identity (the enormous chasm between the two faiths is formed entirely out of this not-so-insignificant rumble) and mostly, quite naturally, a stand off occurs. Alternatively, an argument from first principles enables a deeper dialogue that is currently non-existent on our TV screens. These are most succinctly identified in certain passages of Job (33:23-30; 9:32-35) that inadvertently lay out the ultimate conditions for the Messiah’s ‘job description’ at it’s core: someone qualified to lay one hand on man and the other on God arbitrating their dispute in order to solve the great paradox of justice and reconciliation.

    If calling out “Australia’s spiritual immaturity” based on the astounding ignorance of the Q&A panel and audience mentioned above is fair, then even the word “immaturity” is far too kind. However, as I self-punishingly watch Q&A each week, I derive some consolation in the hope that many others are noticing what I notice: the voice of the token conservative or Christian (or both) sounds even more sensible and wise in stark contrast to the cacophony of shrill Lefties’ ramblings.

  2. Ian MacDougall says:

    Political leaders, religious leaders, and community leaders all need to recognize there must also be a spiritual response – our secular democracy, with all its liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment, will never be able to articulate a narrative with man at its centre that is attractive to Muslims. As noted before, the West has become so satiated with its own enlightened righteousness that it does not recognise that all the benefits it enjoys come from the precepts of the God it has abandoned.

    This reads to me like the words of an Old Testament prophet or a modern storefront revivalist preacher: “Repent! Before it is too late!” What Jim Campbell appears to me to be calling for here is an abandonment of enough “liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment” so that The Followers of The Prophet and ourselves can at least sing off the same page. Serious Muslims are generally kept out of all that, thanks to the vigilance of the Islamic preachers who control education in Muslim countries. So provided we chuck enough of it out likewise, we can presumably appease them, and a fair few Islamic radicals as well.
    So the subtext is that we have to return that wonderful pre-liberal, pre-modern and pre-scientific era when God was in His Heaven and all was well on Earth.
    Well, don’t hold your breath, Jim; or quit your day job in anticipation of that coming to pass.

    • Mark Smith says:

      Dear Mr MacDougall, I disagree that Campbell is calling for the “abandonment of enough ‘liberalism, modernity and scientific enlightenment’”, but rather that he is setting a useful context in approaching the tension between Western and Islamic ideology. Obviously there is no battle when one opposing army turns up to the wrong battle field. Likewise, the West is largely unaware that it’s turning up to the wrong forum of debate. Islam is argued on the basis of state and church inseparable. Western governments collectively refuse to unite the two and so disqualify themselves from much more intellectually integral terms of debate. Whatever the extent one’s views go to separation of church and state and whether non-religious people like it or not, inevitably among our ruling politicians are people of religious faith who represent voters of religious faith and thus faith hitherto at least has and does inform policy and so in its purity the term ‘secular government’ can’t be used exclusively to describe Western governments. Your mistaken presumption is that secularism, in whatever form you subscribe to, superseded the continued transcendence of religion.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Your mistaken presumption is that secularism, in whatever form you subscribe to, superseded the continued transcendence of religion.

        So the subtext is that we have to return that wonderful pre-liberal, pre-modern and pre-scientific era when God was in His Heaven and all was well on Earth, and religion was continuously “transcendent”; whatever that means. (Presumably church and state welded back together again.)
        Well, don’t hold your breath, Mark; or quit your day job in anticipation of that coming to pass. A few things would have to change, like getting rid of liberalism and getting rid of democracy. Australia would have to become more like pre-Reformation Europe, or say, modern Pakistan.
        I hope the irony of the latter is not lost on you.

        • Mark Smith says:

          Sorry for the late reply Ian, and I’m regretful for muddying my point with use of the provocative phrase “continued transcendence of religion” – I confess, cringeworthy for its inaccurate generalisation and ambiguity in retrospect. Although, I will defend that notion in a qualified sense, the unsurprising bias of a Christian you might say…unsurprisingly? I also used it to push back at the idea that Christian values have been succeeded by a superior set of values represented by liberalism, modernity, and scientific enlightenment, or that many aspects of either are incompatible. But for another day perhaps…

    • Bill Martin says:

      Hello Ian. This time, for a change, I am responding to debate you. I would, however, appreciate you advice how to format the comment one posts at Quadrant, such as italics, numbering of list items and tabs. I most often write my comment in a Google app called Docs on my android tablet and paste it to Quadrant but all formatting disappears in the process. The same goes when I utilise MS Word on my Windows description PC. Thanks in advance.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    Jim Campbell obviously understands the true nature of Islam and conveys that understanding to the reader very well. Nevertheless, he refrains excessively from using strong enough words and expressions to do full justice to the task. That tendency, ironically enough, is an integral ingredient of the mealy-mouthed response of western leaders and their supporters towards Islam. This diabolical ideology must be openly and vigorously challenged without restraint.

    Muhammad was a psychopathic, evil genius, driven by lust, greed, megalomania, who very skillfully assembled a mish-mash of grand-sounding, frequently contradictory gibberish, claiming to have received it all directly from the all-powerful God of the world, which just happened to support and justify all his nefarious deeds. The poetic language of the text made it all the more convincing and appealing to the primitive desert Arabs, not least because, they were told, those who believe are superior to those who don’t, and will inherit both heaven and earth. The sanctioning of taking by force anything and everything from non-believers – including their women – and enslaving them was enthusiastically embraced by the prophet’s followers. The more astute among them also realised that Koranic teaching constituted a splendid system of lording over their underlings and they continue appreciating and utilising it to this day.

    There is a vital point to be made abundantly clear:

    There are no innocent Muslims nor innocent Muslim apologists.

    The fact is indisputable that the “holy scriptures” of Islam constitute a set of manuals of committing crime against humanity, especially against its non-islamic constituent. Consequently, subscribing to the legitimacy of those scriptures, whether wholly or in part, amounts to being guilty of actively or passively conspiring against humanity. Ignorance, misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the contents of those scriptures does not serve as a mitigating factor to absolve either Muslims or Muslim apologists from the said guilt. The degree of the guilt varies between individuals but its substance and validity are constant.

    The following is a list of those aspects of Islam that matter to the non-islamic world, disregarding those which are of concern only to Muslims. All of these points are based on the texts of Islam’s holy scriptures or their interpretation by respected Muslim scholars, rendered here in plain, contemporary English.

    Islam is the sole pure and complete religion, absolutely perfect in every way, rendering all other religions variously incomplete, false, invalid.

    Followers of Islam are pure while non-muslims are unclean, therefore Muslims are vastly superior to those who follow any other religion or no religion at all.

    Islam is divinely destined to rule world and it is the holy duty of every Muslim to strive, in every possible way, to reach that destination.

    Muslims are promised lavish rewards in Paradise in return for actively fighting to advance the cause of Islam in the world, particularly for killing enemies of Islam, which includes all non-muslims.

    Muslims are encouraged to migrate to non-muslims countries as a means of spreading Islam throughout the world.

    Muslims are under divine instructions to be faithful, true and obedient exclusively to Islam, over and above any other authority, including the laws of the country where they reside.

    Muslims are enjoined to avoid having non-muslims as friends, but to fake such friendship when the deception is to the advancement of Islam or to their personal advantage.

    Muslims are instructed by their scriptures to be humble and friendly toward non-muslims while they are a minority in a non-muslims country, and to gradually assert themselves as their number increases, until finally taking control and establishing their Islamic society.

    Non-muslims finding themselves living in an Islamic society have three, clearly defined choices: convert to Islam, be killed or live the humble life of a defeated, inferior, tolerated, subservient member of society, in a state called dhimmitude, paying the jizya tax in return for being allowed to live, constantly demonstrating humility toward Muslims.

    Islam declares that the non-islamic world is the World of War – duet to the struggle by Islam for world domination – while the World of Islam is the World of Peace (sickly ironic as that sounds). Consequently, when finally Islam rules the world, there will be universal peace. This is the origin of the oft-repeated, totally misunderstood phrase “Islam is a religion of peace”.

    While the killing of “innocents” is a grave sin in Islam, to Muslims only other Muslims qualify as “innocent”.

    Adultery, homosexuality and apostasy are punishable by death.

    It is of paramount importance that no Muslim leader and almost certainly no Muslim of any standing has ever publicly denied or repudiated any of the above. When they are challenged to either confirm or deny the veracity of these crucially vital aspects of Islam, the response, if there is a response, is invariably sophistry and obfuscation, usually sprinkled with outright lies but never a definite answer. The fact that the vast majority of Muslims, particularly those living in non-islamic countries, are not particularly obsessed with the above details of their faith, nor are necessarily even aware of some of them, is of no significance. None of them would ever outright deny or renounce any of them. They simply would not dare. Whether “peaceful”, “moderate”, “fundamental”, “radical” or with any other adjective, all Muslims are, above else, Muslims.

    Jim Campbell’s lamentation about western societies having forsaken God and having descended into a moral vacuum which facilitates Islam’s ascendance are perfectly valid. However, any significant amelioration of that problem in the foreseeable future is unlikely. Islam must be decisively and forcefully confronted without delay. For that to happen, we must abandon all imbecilic attempts to appease Islam, hoping to dissuade them from pursuing their agenda. Their core philosophy renders them completely immune to reason or compromise. For them, it is the classical zero sum game. Either them or us.

  4. Rob Brighton says:

    Hello Bill, I agree entirely with much that you have said with the exception that in a world bedevilled by religion the last thing we need is more of it.

    Mr Hitchens said it most eloquently when considering the calm rational face presented to us today as christianity

    “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”

    • Bill Martin says:

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean in your first sentence. I am not advocating either more or less religion, I simply said that dealing with the peril of Islam is too great an urgency to allow the luxury of first attempting to revive the God inspired moral standard of western societies.

    • Bill Martin says:

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean in your first sentence Rob. I am not advocating either more or less religion, I simply said that dealing with the peril of Islam is too great an urgency to allow the luxury of first attempting to revive the God inspired moral standard of western societies.

  5. Bran Dee says:

    Bill Martin offers an appropriate confirmation of the thrust of Jim Campbell’s fine and detailed submission.
    Perhaps needing more expansion is the sentence that that reads ‘Western leaders must – - – -encourage their nations to regain their moral and spiritual capital’. Does it in addition mean Christian Church leaders must – - – encourage their congregations to regain their morale’?
    A secular leader like Geert Wilders can perceptively say Mohammed’s Koran is in the same category as Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In contrast to that church leaders seem totally oblivious to any problem and are ever hopeful that indulgent love only will suffice because they apparently think tough love would be unChristian. Christian churches could recall that Jesus prepared his followers for any contest: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” Matt 10:16 NIV. There is no call for anyone to be ‘naive’! There is, and this is costly, an expectation of courage. Few churches show courage as the Melbourne CTF Ministries did in being plainspoken and defending it in court.

  6. Matt says:

    Reform Christianity and ultimately you get Jesus. Reform Islam and you get Muhammed. Examine the life of Jesus. Examine the life of Muhammed. It’s pretty clear really.

    The solution to evil is not the promotion of something that is one step removed from evil, it is the promotion of good. The solution to radical Islam is not the promotion of moderate Islam but instead the promotion of Christianity — the promoting of Jesus and his teachings. Even if people are not interested in taking up the offer of the personal relationship, they can at least be taught to appreciate the value and benefit that Christianity, Christians and the teachings of Jesus are to our society and hence to them.

  7. Bran Dee says:

    Well said Matt.
    In the early centuries millions of people in the Mediterranean and Middle East embraced Christianity because of its attraction over vengeance, tribalism, and idolatry. Women were esteemed in the new religion that grew from the teaching and example of Jesus which strongly supported monogamy. The Iranian convert to Christianity, Daniel Shayesteh in his book ‘The House I Left Behind’ says “Jesus’ respect or women, lifting them up to the level of men, touched my wife’s heart and paved the way for her to read the Gospel and evaluate its words”.
    Postmodernism and cultural relativism and the opulent life in Western Christendom have weakened the self confidence of preachers and leaders so that the return to depravity and violence through Mohammedanism is excused or only weakly challenged.

  8. wse999 says:

    No holding back here? Follow the argument right through and… the historically unparalleled emergence of Western liberal-democratic capitalism which has transformed the material lives (and life expectancies) of a swathe of mankind, well it’s all down to Jesus and his Christian Church.
    And the major problems today, including incursions by Islamism, stem from losing sight of this reality, from straying from the Word, and therefore we need more of God and his workers in our lives. Back down the time tunnel lads! To the paradise of the Middle Ages! But Jim far from alone here, supported lately by academic heavyweight Larry Siedentop’s “The Origins of Western Liberalism”.
    It makes for a strange if not preposterous reading of history.
    Last time I looked the Church fought reform tooth and nail. It brought the Reformation on itself, it fought the scientific revolution, it then resisted the Reformation within its own ranks (with catastrophic consequences for Europe), and it fought the Enlightenment, the profound thought movement, coming in part out of the scientific revolution, which basically argued Man should stand on his own feet when setting about understanding the world about him, and in conducting his collective affairs, not resort instead to overweening direction from some spiritual belief system handed down on a mountain top (but which in reality was self-servingly fabricated by a faction of Man). No, rather than being a sustained implacable opponent of liberal reform the Church was really the key supporter!
    Ludicrous. A fairy story.
    But wait, the riposte will come straight back: look at the 20th C trifecta of totalitarian villains to see what happens when Man strays from God! No just the opposite. This history makes the same point. The trio was propagating other self-serving “spiritual” belief systems, ie which should be accepted because “we” say so, and not in any way submitted to the people via an effective open democratic government process.

  9. Bran Dee says:

    A note to wse999. Irregularities in temple, mosque, or church could be explained away but the examples of the founders are what really count.
    Where is the villain when 999 considers the movements founded on:

    Buddha. A helpful philosophy for coping with life and not really a religion.

    Mohammed. More ideology than religion and mosque and state are inseparable and slaves of Allah will rule the world in the manner of Mohammed.

    Jesus. The fatherhood of God makes us all siblings and church and state must maintain separation.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Bran:

      Jesus. The fatherhood of God makes us all siblings…

      IMHO the Chinese got religion right. It is all about ancestor worship, veneration of one’s family, and affirmation of group identity. Hence the old aphorism ‘Faith of our Fathers’.
      Believing is the gateway to belonging. As Emile Durkheim pointed out, in a religious ceremony, the group is worshipping itself. It does not matter so much what we believe, as the fact that we all believe it together.
      Hence the Islamic concern about heresy, blasphemy and apostasy (with death penalty) is all ultimately about maintaining that facade.

    • wse999 says:

      Good point, “church and state must maintain separation”.
      Yes the separation of Church and State was a fundamental and essential outcome of the protracted liberal democratic (secular) revolution, in particular growing out of the disastrous Counter-Reformation and the subsequent Enlightenment.
      But this raises of course a major problem for Mr Campbell, whose argument comes with a basic irreconcilable inconsistency.
      He claims (erroneously) that “all the benefits it enjoys” come from “the precepts of.. God”, but which benefits however only emerged after the separation of Church and State. But now he alleges the “problems” today stem from “abandoning” God?!
      Cannot have it both ways.
      Thus how would he set about “re-engaging with the God of the Bible” short of unwinding 3 centuries of history.

  10. Ian MacDougall says:

    Those Muslims inclined to lie as a means to an end have Koranic assurance that it is OK if the end includes the advance of Islam.
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/taqiyya.aspx