Fundamentalism Loses its Mojo

street post with heaven ave and hell st signs

A fun-filled decade of evangelically-driven American foreign and domestic policy is behind us and despite best efforts to inject last minute sex-appeal à la Palin, Christian fundamentalism is fallen. Helpful clarifications and labels like the Axis of Evil are out of vogue.  Whereas previously, issues of national and international importance were seen through the handy prism of Dubya’s good vs. evil rhetoric, it looks as though we are actually going to have to think for ourselves again.

But the fact that Christian fundamentalism is losing its mojo does not mean that Christians are on the retreat.  If anything, moderate proponents of the faith are emerging from the shadows.  “I am a Closet Christian” confesses Ada Calhoun in a Dec 21, 2009 Salon.com article.  A New Yorker, Calhoun talks about her fear of being outed as a Christian: “Why am I so paranoid? I’m not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs. But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many of them had to come out — as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art was not valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.”

Agonizing about how to verbalize her views on faith, Calhoun says, “it’s hard to talk about any of this without sounding dumb, or like a zealot, or ridiculous. And who wants to be lumped in with all the other Christians, especially the ones you see on TV protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans, and letting priests molest children?”

Moderate Muslims face a similar challenge.  After a decade of bad PR, the struggle remains to reshape Islam in the coming decade.  “The good news is that those Muslims who espouse militant ideologies no longer find a physical home in mainstream Muslim America… the New York-based al-Qaeda supporting extremist duo that calls itself “Revolution Muslim” has been reduced to heckling mosque-goers from the sidewalk,” says Shahed Amanullah in altmuslim.com / Global perspectives on Muslim life, politics & culture.

“Muslims Denounce Terrorism / Terror Has No Religion” reads a bumper sticker sold by the The American Muslim.  It’s hard to battle terror with talk of peace but as more and more voices demand an end to extremism, the tide may be turning.  It doesn’t hurt that Obama gave his first interview as President to an Arab broadcaster; that his Cairo speech was well-received or the fact that his envoy to address the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is seen as more balanced than his predecessor.

What the coming decade holds is anyone’s guess.  Hopefully, a new tone is being set. “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things….” said Obama in his Inaugural Address. Dodging any delusional salvation-through-Obama drool, perhaps there still is hope that childishly extreme religious rhetoric has seen its heyday in the US.

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Bjorn Karlman

56 thoughts on “Fundamentalism Loses its Mojo”

  1. But…but…I thought eternal salvation was covered under the Bush administration! LOL!

    (see Chapter 7 of: White House, Inc. Employee Handbook (it’s hysterical.) http://www.amazon.com/White-House-Inc-Employee-Handbook/dp/0452285194/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262406686&sr=8-10

    Anyway, this is very heartening to read. I especially the quotes from Ada Calhoun. Frankly, I know how she feels. I still have nightmares about having Phyllis Schafly as my babysitter. My dad would always threaten that when I misbehaved. As a Non-Idiot Christian, it’s very difficult at times to walk the tightrope of our faith and keep to our principles, while keeping our mouths shut when necessary. That’s never easy, for people of ANY faith. I know a guy who is a very devout Hindu. But he doesn’t want to talk about it, because inevitably, he feels he will be drawn into “anti-Muslim” rhetoric. I don’t blame him either.

  2. fun, more bush bashing.
    just straight up muslim hating is wrong. but tell me, of all the terrorist attacks in recent history, how many of them were NOT done by muslims?
    also, this is THE main problem with christianity and why so many people are leaving it. dividing christianity between the idiot christians and non-idiot christians doesn’t help anything. states that support people who will go blow themselves up to kill people is evil. closet christians? i can understand the dilemma, but doesn’t the bible say christians will be persecuted because they are christian and it’s his or her job to preach what they believe?

    i’m surprised and glad there are anti-terrorist muslim out there who are willing to speak up, but they need to speak louder. part of the reason why muslims have such a bad rep in the country is because they don’t speak up against terrorism, state sponsored or not.

    finally, an honest question: why do we think that obama can bring peace to the middle east just by talking when others who are more qualified than him have failed?

  3. Excellent link!! And yes, I think a lot of us are believers when all is said and done…. but we probably believe for reasons quite distinct from those of the extremist. Finding meaning in faith while realizing that more is to be learned in dialogue with others… that is the envied balance…

  4. I understand where you are coming from Daniel, the recent track record doesn’t do Islam any favors – much like the Wars of Religion in Europe did little to boost the image of Christianity. I don’t think these abuses of religion tarnish the value of faith… it can also be a strong force for good. As for Muslims speaking out against terrorism, check out this link to a considerable list of Muslim’s speaking out against extremism: http://revjimsutter.blogspot.com/2006/10/muslims-speak-out-against-terrorism.html
    Will Obama do any better in the Middle East? I would say that his overall diplomatic tone and the fact that mainstream Islamic leaders have been accepting of him are good signs. http://www.speroforum.com/a/19503/Muslim-reaction-to-Obamas-speech-at-Cairo
    It is, of course, far too early to tell if his long-term strategies will work… Afghan resistance to current foreign policy is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to future obstacles for Obama’s administration. Thanks a lot for your comments.

  5. LOL,

    American society, is the society of political swingers. The past elections had nothing to do with the “death of fundamentalism”… otherwise you could make the same claim in 1992, and 1996. It’s not that people in the US were more “moral” in the past. It was popular.

    US fundamentalism is rooted in chauvinism. Not the kind you are thinking about right now, but the classic definition of chauvinism:

    Chauvinism, (pronounced /ˈʃoʊvɨnɪzəm/), in its original and primary meaning, is an exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a blind belief in national superiority and glory.

    … if you know any American fundamentalists today, they will quickly and blindly admit to you the moral, spiritual, economical, political, and military superiority of US of A. I.E. We are #1!

    That really is an extended version of their personal religious belief extrapolated on national scale… i.e. the idea of having a monopoly on spiritual truths and God’s approval.

    So, the fundamentalism is alive and well. You don’t have to look further than our church to know that.

  6. Any US president that blindly and unquestionably supports Israel’s occupation, and sends billions of dollars in aid and weapons… stands no chance of bringing peace to the Middle East. It’s like saying. I would be like resolving the fight between two of your children by giving one a baseball bat.

  7. I agree, Bush bashing solves nothing. However, the line of logic that states, “of all the terrorist attacks in recent history, how many of them were NOT done by muslims?” is an errant and misleading line of thought, because it overemphasizes the role of an unfortunate minority, while forgetting the very real presence of a peaceful, progressive majority. This is not about cheap political correctness, either, this is about depicting the Muslim world as it is: diverse and dynamic, still susceptible to influence, but the right kind. A few ways we can establish trust with this progressive majority is to 1) cultivate ties with the moderate governments in the Muslim world, 2) develop a comprehensive understanding of the historical processes that brought us to the present state of affairs–basically, to educate ourselves properly about the Muslim world–and 3) promote business interests and development projects (in the Middle East, specifically) that raise the standard of living and inject opportunity into a region of perpetual poverty and inequity. Until we actually become involved in the Muslim world, we will continue to view the struggle in a lop-sided manner, through the dark, distorted prisms of terrorism and militant extremism. I believe we must begin to think creatively about the whole process, or we’re going to lose an audience with one of the most important forces on the planet: Islam.

  8. The main question that I see is: what is Christianity? I’m a Christian because I believe in God and I like what I see when I look at what God is like. Unfortunatly for many Christianity has become about flag-waving and banner-waving on political issues. I’m a Christian because of God, not because of politics or anything else… Call it old-fashioned, call it backwards, call it whatever you want, but as someone who is aware of the modern world around me, I have to say – God is looking better to me all the time! And if you think I’m “off my rocker” to think that, I’d be very interested to know why you think that. I am afraid to say that Christianity has often painted a very dark picture of God, and frankly, if I believed God was like some Christians portray Him to be – I wouldn’t want any part in it either! So maybe if churches would actually start doing what they are supposed to do – which is to represent and preach God, and not provide political commentary and get so focused on our own behaviour, this world may actually become better for it!
    In the meantime, lets not pretend like the bad just comes from the Islamic part of the world. Remember Northern Ireland and the bloody feud between Catholics and Protestants? ETA in Spain? Wars in the Balkans which, yes, had a Muslim component but also a Christian Catholic and Christian Orthodox component to it? It wasn’t that long ago!

  9. Thanks for your thoughts Ehren. I agree that the emphasis needs to be on building trust. Of course, this cannot be a one-way street, Islamic governments will need to reciprocate. And many moderate Islamic governments (Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan, etc.) have been cooperative. I really do think that what is needed in the Middle East is a very focused, sustained effort, much like what took place in Northern Ireland when Blair was the UK PM. Real progress was achieved because efforts were less of the sporadic/publicity-driven variety and more about results.

  10. I like your thoughts Andrey. Fundamentalism is certainly not dead. It HAS been dealt a blow politically and the Christian Right is not as united politically as it once was… the children of the Rush-following herd, for example, are not always blind followers of their parents’ political persuasions. This was evident in the way the electoral map was re-written in 2008. I do agree that blind national arrogance and blind faith are often linked. It’s a comfortable place to be if you can stomach/avoid noticing the initial self-deception.

  11. Dave, I appreciate the distinction between personal faith/spirituality and the ongoing campaign to erase separation of church and state. And yes, Northern Ireland, the ETA, the Balkans, etc. are wounds too fresh to ignore.

  12. Bjorn,

    I leave it to Obama to support whoever he likes to. He certainy represents the majority of congress and likewise the majority of Americans who don’t get unbiased history and information about this conflict due to clockwork of ADL and AIPAC.

    I would even go as far as saying that Obama would not be a presdident today, if he did not support Israel. It’s a standard position in Washington today, mainly due to AIPAC efforts.

    I would agree that Palistinians are in the wrong too… But we are talking about the 4th strongest army in the wold going up against sticks and stones …. Comparitively

  13. A lot of good comments above…
    It’s been said already, but I have to say it again: the quotes of Ada Calhoun sound like she read my mind and then decided to tell someone what she was thinking. I consider myself a strong 100% Christian and I really wish I could speak freely about what I believe… However, the second that someone “finds out” that I’m a Christian, I get this sinking feeling of “Oh no! I hope they don’t think I’m a political Christian”. I feel this way especially around non-Christian’s, as the “political Christian” may be the only kind they know. I believe strongly in the battle between good and evil; as such, it is clear that Satan has used the Christian church to defame the likeness of God more than any other modality. Unlike Daniel above, who believes that “dividing christianity between the idiot christians and non-idiot christians doesn’t help anything”, I believe that this is a critical step to showing the world who God truly is. To show this from a “Biblical” standpoint, it is important to view our generation in the light of the Jesus’ generation, and then see what He did. I won’t go into a long discertation about this:

    1. Traditionalist’s had taken over and made everything about what you can and cannot do. Moreover, if you weren’t part of the “cool club” you were outcast and damned.
    2. The religion at that time had positioned itself politically to win favor with the Romans and gain political power in their territory. This required men to bend God’s principles for their own gain in the name of religion. Religion was now based on attaining power, not on God.

    This should be a familiar sounding story, as we have seen this in our lifetimes. Now the all important last point, which is how Christ (the embodiment of God) dealt with this.

    3. The Samaritans which were seen as unclean and cast out; Christ showed inclusion and love. Those who sinned (ex: prostitutes, tax collectors, etc.) and were seen as unclean and cast out; Christ showed inclusion and love. The people who were pronouncing sinners unclean and casting them out; Christ made a fool of and aggressively denounced. The people who used their positions of power within the church to achieve political agendas; Christ made a fool of and aggressively denounced.

    In summary: the very people who the church was maligning, Christ was loving. The very people of the church who were maligning and spewing garbage in the name of their politico-religious power mongering, Jesus had no tolerance for. This should be the role of the true Christian, as I have no doubt that Jesus would have been doing the same thing in our generation.

    It is very easy for anyone (as it pertains to this article: Christians or Muslims) to denounce/see the evil of extremist Islamic individuals who kill in the name of a man-made idea developed to carry out political agenda’s. It is far more difficult to denounce/see the evil of mainstream Christian ignorance (which has done more to hurt the world’s idea of who God is more than any other movement in our lifetime). Which is the bigger evil: the one that is easy to see or the one that veils itself in “righteousness”?
    I believe very strongly (and I wish I could underline and bold “very strongly” in this sentence) that the job of the true Christian is to stand up as Christ did, and boldly separate one’s self from the “idiot-Christians'” and more importantly let the world know about the loving character of Christ (in stark contradiction to the mission of the “political Christian). If we do not do this, how is the world that does not know God going to be able to truly know who he is?

  14. Fox, I liked the part where you promised at the top not to go into a dissertation:) Very interesting thoughts RE the Christian Right’s attempts to legislate their viewpoints. Great ideas RE the core elements of Christianity. I feel strongly that faith is not the problem… it is simply a very strong force that has to be used intelligently and with compassion/humility.

  15. Notwithstanding the power of the Jewish lobby, you have to admit Obama is a lot more reserved when it comes to support for Israel. He does differ openly with Netanyahu, quite a risky move and certainly not one that wins him points in Israel.

  16. The problem with fundamentalism is not religion–it’s people. Any idea, whether good or bad, in the hands of people who believe they know all that is worth knowing will likely become a force of destruction rather than a source of inspiration. How great would it be if we could all just be quiet and listen to what the “other” has to teach us. Until we can do that, fundamentalism will always be alive and kicking.

  17. Think of the Middle East peace process as a puzzle in the shape of the region, where none of the pieces even remotely fit the others. You’re absolutely right, piecing together the puzzle will be near impossible until each party starts making concessions that ‘fit’ the pieces around them, allowing peace and progress to finally occur. But, as we’ve seen in the past, there are groups that stand to benefit from perpetuating the status quo. These obstacles to progress–detractors–come in many shapes and sizes, and are not limited to the State of Israel and United States foreign policy, but include the Arab world’s inability to rid itself of the ‘victimized’ mindset. Until the Arab world finds strong, honest leaders, the people will always come up short.

  18. I tend to think that Christians, in pure form of Christianity are essentially Theocratic-Anarchists :). Whenever I tell that to someone I get a lot of face cringing. I think it comes from misunderstanding of anarchy in the first place, which laterally translates “without ruler”. In the case of Christian Anarchy it’s “without earthly ruler”.

    It is certainly a very unpopular topic to discuss in churches today, mainly due to 1) Structure of the modern government 2) The structure of the modern church which goes against the principles outlined by Jesus himself in Matthew 23.

    Our earthly political systems are based on the idea of “ruling over slaves”. It’s little different from the monarchy of the past, only now… the slaves get to “elect” their rulers, which of course softens things, but it’s kind of silly.

    When you begin to realize that essentially ALL of political systems today are built upon essentially immoral premise, you may see Revelation 13 in a bit of a different light.

    That premise of course, is the people are giving up their decision-making rights to a body of rulers, and enter into one-sided mandatory social contract from birth… without any option to opt out or withdraw, other than leave the country (of course you can’t leave or enter any country nowerdays without ID). So essentially the decision making is outlawed worldwide for the sake of illusion of personal safety.

    I don’t see how any Christian can support the idea of “virtue” of Government. We may subject for the sake of people around us, but it does not mean we should support such system intellectually, or physically.

  19. That’s my point. I’m not sure we can. Fundamentalism is not something you can eradicate like a tumor because it’s a natural by-product of ideology (political, cultural, religious, scientific, whatever). Getting rid of fundamentalism would require getting rid of the ridge that separates “us” from “them.” And that can’t happen without authentic dialogue and that, apparently, is like asking for a miracle.

  20. so if you were a Middle East envoy, how would you strategize to encourage empowered Arab leadership and Arab-Israeli dialogue? Does Netanyahu help or hurt the effort?

  21. So pragmatically, if you can’t eradicate fundamentalism, fight it with education, effective politics and never underestimate or belittle it?

  22. The surest way to credibly portray to the world that God is Love, is to live that truth through obedience to what He says. I’m not promoting a mindless traditionalist religion that is devoid of happiness. I’m talking about taking the time to study God’s word carefully, to trace God’s laws back to their core principle of unselfishness, and to make that principle the very bedrock of our character. This requires a continually growing connection with Jesus. If we are genuine Christians, the force of attraction that we exert will be stronger than any repelling prejudices caused by false Christians. If we take the time to study human nature, we can learn to share our faith in fresh ways, using words that mean something to people today. Those two things: consistent Christian character, and a fresh, meaningful presentation of our faith applied to the individual’s needs, will overcome many barriers we may face.

    As for “fundamentalism” I’m not sure I like the use of that word to describe non-thinking, bigoted Christianity. That is what it has come to mean to many people, so I can understand why it’s used that way. In many ways, I consider myself a fundamentalist: one who holds to the fundamentals of my faith. Let’s shine brightly, and the darkness will become obvious.

  23. Bjorn,

    I think you are mistaking submission and subjection. There’s a Biblical concept of “submitting to one another”.

    I don’t submit to Christ because he is the creator, or because he is God. People could be created to be the subjects, or to be slaves. Instead, they were created free agents with choice. God demonstrated the submission principle by coming to our level and showing willingness to serve us… His own creation. Seeing that, I’m willingly submit to such God.

    That’s the same principle in the marriage. Wives don’t simply submit to their husbands because husbands are the “rulers”… but because husbands are their servants and love them. If husbands abuse them, then there’s a good reason not to submit.

    Likewise, the government … such as tribal government system that exist today are there to serve the people and are considered “equals” on human scale. There’s no notion that a president’s life is worth more than 1000s of his “subjects”. It’s idiotic and insane. If the authority clearly demonstrates their submission to me as a servant, I have no problem submitting to such authority. Such is in case of police, or fire fighters for example (in most cases). These people submit and serve me, and deserve my respect and support (in most cases).

    This is NOT the case with governments today though, as increasingly these are acting in mode of self-preservation, theft, mass murder, torture, abuse of power, lying and secrecy, and arrogance to declare that God is on their side somehow in the middle of it all.

    The bigger the government… more corrupt and tyrannical it is. There’s no legitimate Biblical reason to subject and support immoral aspects of such governments.

    People use Paul and Peter to back their arguments, ignoring the above described principles upon which these texts are based, and likewise forgetting that both Peter and Paul were subjected to death for disobedience to such authorities.

  24. I’m pretty sure Timothy McVeigh wasn’t a Muslim. Nor are any members of the IRA in Ireland. Or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Colombia, the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) in Chile, the Aum in Japan, Shining Path in Peru, RUF in Sierra Leone, the Basques in Spain, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the pirates of Somalia, etc., etc., etc.

    And let’s not forget that the British of the 1700’s viewed the Revolutionary Minutemen as terrorists, as well.

    My point being, not all terrorists today are Muslim extremists – they’re just the ones who get all the Western media (and political) attention.

  25. Arab moderates hold the key. They need to be brought to the table and be held accountable for a larger portion of the peace process. For far too long, influential figures in the Arab world have stood back and watched–passively–or participated disingenuously as the peace process unraveled at the expense of their own. Yet we find that when individuals such as Mubarak and Hussein (interestingly, both share a tumultuous and violent past with Israel) stepped in were viable results achieved. It is no accident that Egypt and Jordan ‘enjoy’ good relations with Israel to this day. All it takes is one bold leader to step forward and say, “Okay, what can we do for you.”

    The same applies to Israel, where the leadership needs to begin challenging the loud, obstructionist ‘voices’ with a bit more fervor.

    Honestly, it’s difficult to tell at this point whether Netanyahu helps or hurts the effort. He’s the same as most Israeli politicians we’ve seen in the recent past–i.e., conveniently complacent when it comes to the peace process, yet a decisive hawk at a moments notice. He has taken on his own party when it comes to the two-state solution, though, which could be a sign of good things to come.

    How would I strategize? Not sure. I need to sleep on it.

  26. If you take a strict look at the semantics, Romans 13 goes either way on the submit/subject issue depending on the version you prefer. The bigger issue seems to be cooperation with government. Size of government isn’t the issue… a lot of evangelicals and Republican or Libertarian Christians are hellbent on the idea that big government is bad. The issue isn’t the size of government, it is whether or not it is effective. Pragmatically, government is our best hope to achieve progress… wild-eyed anarchy is just that.

  27. Thanks for the input Jonathan. What’s your vision for inter-faith dialogue and actual progress in bridging the gap between an overly Christian West and the Islamic world? What is this fresh, meaningful articulation of faith you are talking about?

  28. LOL… you are kidding me, right?

    Obama is hated in Israel not because of the lack of support for Israel, but because lack of willingness to keep the propaganda against Iran going on the same scale.

    He decalired that he is willing to have diplomatic discussions with Iran, while McCain and Bush position was that “We don’t negotiate with terrorists and dictators”.

    While I certainly commend Obama to try resolve things through diplomacy, however inconsistent his efforts may seem. I can’t honestly say that a pledge of 30 billion of “donations” on behalf of American taxpayers over next 10 years constitutes anything but a support for the oppressive, ever expanding occupation.

    If US ever wanted a peaceful resolution, then the easiest way of doing it is cutting the funds that support the occupation. You’ll never have a peaceful occupation where you force people off the land by bulldozing their houses. It won’t happen. People will fight back, and carry out acts of retaliation… or as our media would label these… terrorism.

    Sorry, no points for Obama there.

  29. Bjorn,

    You fundamentally misunderstanding anarchy. Anarchy does not play off the idea of chaos and lack of authority. It simply recognizes that people are capable of self-governance, and it extends such choice TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL. The individuals are free to organize in whichever way they want, and give up their freedom in exchange for security IF THEY WISH SO. There should be official contracts drawn up and both parties should hold up such agreement. But people who do not wish to participate in “social contract” would be allowed an option of self-governance.

    Essentially what you are saying that it’s OK to forcefully subject people to whatever standards majority decided are “the norm” for the sake of progress. Can you find and justify the idea of “Progress” Biblically?

    Even God does not make us unwillingly subject to Himself. When State declares such powers, it places itself effectively not only above ordinary person, it ceases to be a servant and becomes a dictator.

    So, such mentality allows most of the modern atrocities to be carried out on behalf of allegiance to MENTAL CONSTRUCT which state is, with all of it’s imaginary borders that don’t exist in reality and that’s why these have to be mapped to rivers and etc.

    Secondly, I think you are caught up in the idea that “progress” is the ultimate goal of humanity :). In progress there’s disregard for balance. The balance that the nature was created in, and the balance that should be maintained, instead of ruthlessly destroyed so that some people may have a couple more toys to play with, while other starve.

    So, in conlusion:

    Anarchy = respects individual rights and extends choice to people

    Statism = does not respect human choice, and forces it’s will with a gun

    It’s fairly simple to see which one is more moral and Godly. Statism may seem more pragmatic, but it’s likewise more pragmatic to put people to sleep once they reach 60. But is it moral?

    We should never let pragmatism be our moral compas.

  30. Andrey, looks like we have run out of space in the discussion window above so I’ll start a new one. I applaud your creative definition of anarchy and Ron Paul would be proud of you. I also see it as completely impractical. I am in no way defending the current state of politics as being ideal but I do believe that, given human nature, pragmatism is essential if we are to better society. I’m a little confused by your balance vs. progress argument. Progress is not necessarily defined by excess or accumulation in my book… better and more equitable access to education, housing and health care domestically and international cooperation in areas such as economics, nuclear policy, human rights, terrorism, etc., are what I am looking for. I don’t see that happening in a (non)system defined by anarchy. Language that tries to describe models of governance as being biblical, moral or godly starts to sound arbitrary and awkward very quickly and also blurs the helpful American division between Church and State.

  31. Ehren, this is a reply to your last comment… the window it’s in won’t allow any more replies. I liked your ideas on the role of Arab moderates and the potential that is there… let me know if you think of anything else. Maybe a guest post?

  32. Well, my focus of late has been mostly to bridge the gap between Christianity and the secular west. That’s the context of my current work. But I’m fairly confident that the things I’ve learned would have much application in reaching Muslims. I seek to appeal to the parts of humanity that we all share in common: the need for truth, hope, and purpose.

    I’m not so interested in political unity as in bringing hope and meaning to individuals through the good news of the gospel. The human heart is wicked. The only way to bring lasting peace is through the gospel, and ultimately through the establishment of God’s kingdom. Politically speaking, I don’t think there will ever be enough truly enlightened people to ever achieve meaningful unity. By enlightened, I mean people who can have deep and fervent personal truth convictions on one hand, and on the other be tolerant of those who disagree and still believe that God loves them.

    What is basically on the horizon is a dangerous sort of compromise where people will get sick of violence and so just forget about truth altogether. What this will create will be some sort of new order where power will be highly concentrated around few. This will all seem well and good for the majority. But for those who value truth, it will lead to terrible intolerance and persecution. These independent thinkers will be seen as the most dangerous persons of all.

  33. Now, concerning this meaningful articulation of faith. First of all, I’m not talking about highly intellectual mumbo jumbo. I’m talking about following Jesus’ method of reaching people. First, be converted ourselves and put selfishness behind. Live a life of genuine service to others.

    Secondly. Inspire others to greater faith in God through the constant dwelling on His love and goodness. With Muslims, I would talk about Allah’s love and goodness.

    Slowly as trust is gained, we would get deeper into the truth of who God is, the reason for evil in this world, His law and principles of righteousness, and finally, Jesus, the Savior. on my blog http://goodnewsinenglish.blogspot.com/ I basically try to convey the truths of God’s word, using simply, powerful illustrations, the way Jesus did.

  34. One last thing I just thought of. I’m not sure the real division between the Muslim world and the west is a religious one. I see it more as a cultural one. They see us as the great Satan, not because we are Christian, but because the West in their eyes is godless and secular. They see our dirty entertainment, our degenerating culture, our divorce rate, and they say, no thank you. The problem is, many also throw out the baby with the bath water and reject democracy and human rights along with our culture. Now, the Christian right’s agenda, Israel, and our military campaigns have has certainly not helped, but if our society was more pious and conservative in it’s values, I think we would have a stronger case to make to the Muslim world for our political system.

    Basically what we have is a perfect storm that is not leading anywhere good. I can’t see the Muslim world embracing the west and still remaining Muslim. I can’t see the Western culture changing any time soon. Compound that with both Christianity and Islam being seen by many of it’s adherents as religions destined to rule the world, and it doesn’t look good.

  35. To Andrey:

    Just a comment:

    There should be official contracts drawn up and both parties should hold up such agreement. But people who do not wish to participate in “social contract” would be allowed an option of self-governance.

    I agree. But the minute you use a road, the telephone, or have any interaction with a society, you are benefiting from it. You have a moral obligation to conform to it’s standards. Should a person be free to drive on government roads and not pay taxes? Should a person be free to live within a society and not keep it’s laws? That doesn’t make any sense. If a person wants to opt out, then they can go live off the grid in the woods somewhere, completely disconnected from human contact. The Amish have sort of done this. They have set up colonies with their own rules, and the government has given them tax breaks and other exemptions, so long as they abide by the criminal code.

  36. I disagree that muslims are in a similar situation as christians. They are in a worse situation.The majority of terrorism in the past decade has been islamic. I don’t think denouncing terrorism is popular in the muslim world and terrorism is easily justifiable using the quran and hadiths.

    Muslims are permitted to decive non-muslims and the quran describes allah as the best of all deceivers. sura 3:54
    It is a possibility that we are being decived into thinking that a large majority of muslims denounce terrorism.

    Also take a look at these opinion polls. They are a few years old though.

    http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=809

  37. Liked the clip. I am not saying Obama does not support Israel. I AM saying that his support is more reserved than that of the previous administration. His stance towards Iran is a major concern for Israelis but his “measured support” is also evident in his anti-settlement stance in regards to the West Bank and East Jerusalem and he is openly for a two-state solution… This causes friction between him and Netanyahu

  38. Thanks for the added context Kirk. There is some encouragement in the fact that eventually progress was made in the face of devastating terrorism of the past. Now is not the time to become irrational and add to the problem with ignorant hate rhetoric aimed at Muslims.

  39. Bjorn, I like the straight forward article. I still live in the south i.e. Atlanta/Bible Belt. I have never in my life see more of a swell in the religious right than in the past 12 months. They(I claim no political affiliation and oppose the right) are preparing for war. I hear more ‘Christians’ talking of hating muslims, hating Obama, buying up an arsenal of guns for what sounds like civil war again, and a pure hate for so many people. I now understand why the world has a strong distate for Christians…I do as well. I am by the definition one who believes in the bible and the Creator God of the bible but I know why the world has no ‘need’ for those who call themselves representatives of God.

    I believe from some of my studies in the past year that Islam and Adventism specifically will soon be more close than what many will ever believe. The similiarities are shocking. of course, most Adventists would call me a heretic but there is good company with those deemed heretic. keep up the challenging and thought provoking articles. I am not sure where your faith is these days but God is still looking to take those of us to a better place that are willing. I hope you and I will be there.
    Jared

  40. I understand what you are saying, and I certainly agree. Yet, I don’t think his reservation is support bring about any substantial changes.

    Ironically, Israeli dislike him in spite of the commitment and support.

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