An Atheist's Prophetic Words to the Church
21 February 2014
Last year I read the book Infidel. byAyaan Hirsi Ali — see An Exceptional Infidel — and now I just finished her second book, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations.
Near the end of the book, Ayaan presents three remedies, in three chapters, to counteract the Islamic takeover of the West. One of these chapters — Seeking God but Finding Allah — is about the role Christianity can play in reversing the rising Islamic tide.
In words that are astonishing coming from the mouth of an committed atheist, Ayaan reprimands the Christian Church for dropping the ball, passing up golden opportunities, and being so wimpy in sharing its faith with Muslims! I don't think there are even any Christian leaders who are saying these things, let alone an atheist who has no intentions of becoming a Christian!
Of course, I don't agree with everything she writes in her books. She is definitely contemptuous about any belief in God, and is particularly negative about Spirit-filled Christians. In addition, she has no problem with abortion, sexual immorality and homosexuality. As an ardent devotee of the Enlightenment, she puts human beings, and especially, human reason, at the center of the universe. But these very aspects of her philosophy make it all the more amazing that she would write what I have shared below.
Even though Ayaan does not believe in God, I believe that God is speaking an urgent message through her to His Church. The question is, will we listen? And even more importantly, will we ACT while there is still time? Apparently, even some atheists are on the edge of their seats, holding their breaths, waiting for the Church to arise and be the Church God has called it to be!
Following are excerpts from the above-mentioned chapter. All bold text longer than one word is mine, and was not emphasized in the original.
When an avowed atheist calls the Church of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah to convert as many Muslims as possible to Christianity, and to get active again in propagating their faith, and to do all in their power to win this battle for the souls of humans in search of a compassionate God, all true followers of Yeshua had better wake up, pay attention and get moving!
[When talking with a European Christian leader,] I explained ... "I'm not a Christian ... but I think the Christian churches should begin dawa [proselytization] exactly as Islam does. You need to compete, because you [Christians] can be a powerful tool to reverse Islamization.... Europe is sleepwalking into disaster — cultural, ideological, and political disaster — because the authorities of the church have neglected the immigrant ghettos.
"The churches could go into Muslim communities, provide services just as the radical Muslims do: build new schools, hospitals, and community centers, just like the ones that were such a civilizing force under colonialism in Africa. Don't just leave this in the hands of the governments — take an active role. The churches have the resources, the authority, and the motivation to convert Muslim immigrants to a more modern way of life and more modern beliefs. Teach hygiene, discipline, a work ethic, and also what you believe in. The West is losing the propaganda war. But you can compete with Islam outside Europe and vigorously assimilate Muslims within it...."
You can't use military means to affect the larger mind-set that supports the Muslim warriors. Propaganda is a powerful tool of war geared to win over the masses, persuade them to defect, break their morale or their trust in their own ideology....
I have a theory that most Muslims are in search of a redemptive God. They believe that there is a higher power and that this higher power is the provider of morality, giving them a compass to help them distinguish between good and bad. Many Muslims are seeking a God or a concept of God that in my view meets the description of the Christian God. Instead they are finding Allah. They find Allah mainly because many are born in Muslim families where Allah has been the reigning deity for generations; others are converts to Islam or the children of converts.
My theory is based on two observations. One is the fact that many Muslims ... are instinctively appalled by the violence committed in the name of their faith.... My second observation is that most Muslims do not know the content of the Quran or the Hadith or any other Islamic scripture....
The Muslims who say that Allah is peaceful and compassionate simply do not know about other concepts of God, or the concepts they do have are wrong. They have been told that Christians have misunderstood the real God, Allah, that they are guilty of shirk (an unforgivable sin) by associating the one true God with the Holy Spirit and Jesus, a mere prophet, they argue, whom Christians wrongly put on the throne as the son of God.
The Muslims who hear all this (and worse) about Christianity hardly ever make an attempt to find out more. Meanwhile Christians have stopped teaching people in Muslim countries because the bitter resistance from the local Muslim clergy and political elites made it harder and harder to do so. In short, the Muslim masses are insulated from all alternative religions.
To change this, I have in mind a kind of spiritual competition.... If Saudi Arabia invests millions of dollars in madrassas and a systematic campaign of dawa, taking advantage of all the institutions of freedom in the West, why should the church, with its financial resources and its millions of steadfast followers, not do the same?
[In] the clash between Islam and the West ... all possible means are used by the agents of radical Islam to defeat the West. Even though most of our attention is consumed by those Muslims who are willing to blow themselves up in the name of their religion, we cannot ignore the more subtle campaign of conversion and radicalization. For too long the West has sat back and allowed Islam to make a run at people who are susceptible to conversion....
Take a look at ... the schools and universities established throughout the Western world ... and see how effectively they have been infiltrated ... [by] multiculturalism and relativism ... [and the] threat of radical Islam.... Many contemporary Western thinkers have unconsciously imbibed the toxin of appeasement with the ideas of equality and free speech. They give the chairs in the most distinguished and best institutions of higher learning to apologists for Islam. There is no unity, no shared view of how to deal with this threat. Indeed, those of us who clearly see the threat are dismissed as alarmists.
That is why I think we must also appeal to other, more traditional sources of ideological strength in Western society. And that must include the Christian churches. There are people in Europe and America who maintain that it is secularism that has made us defenseless against a Muslim onslaught. But it is not only leftists who appease Islam. Afflicted with similar pangs of white guilt, many prominent Christian theologians have also become accomplices of jihad.
When I came to the West what I found truly amazing was the fact that believers, agnostics, and unbelievers could debate with and even ridicule one another without ever resorting to violence. It is this right of free expression that is now under attack. And in time of war, internal feuding in the ranks — between atheists and agnostics, Christians and Jews, Protestants and Catholics — serves only to weaken the West. So long as we atheists and classical liberals have no effective program of our own to defeat the spread of radical Islam, we should work with enlightened Christians who are willing to devise some. We should bury the hatchet, rearrange our priorities, and fight together against a much more dangerous common enemy.
Islam and Christianity are not the same.... [An] openness to criticism is [one thing that] makes Christianity different from Islam.... Given the choice, I would by far rather live in a Christian than a Muslim country. Christianity in the West today is more humane, more restrained, and more accepting of criticism and debate. The Christian concept of God today is more benign, more tolerant of dissent. But the most important difference between the two civilizations is the exit option. A person who chooses to opt out of Christianity may be excommunicated from the Church community, but he is not harmed; his destiny is left to God. Muslims, however, impose Allah's rules on each other. Apostates — people, like me, who leave the faith — are supposed to be killed....
Wherever radical Islam becomes a majority they oppress other faiths. In Muslim countries there is no equal competition for souls, hearts, and minds, because atheists and missionaries and communities of Christians are forced to operate in an atmosphere of physical menace. And although there are plenty of mosques in Rome, not a single church is permitted in Riyadh....
A confrontation between the values held by Islam and those of the West is inevitable. There is already a clash, and we are in some sense already at war. That Western civilization is superior is not simply my opinion but a reality I have experienced and continue to appreciate every day....
Can the various churches of Christianity help stem this rising tide of violent Islam? Can today's Christianity play a role in preserving the values of Western civilization? Can the Vatican join in this campaign, if not lead the way — or is it doomed to become a decorative relic, like the European royal families or the fish fork? Can the Established Churches of Europe heed my call — or will the cultural and moral relativists prevail, Christian leaders like the Archbishop of Canterbury, who professes to have an "understanding" attitude toward Shari'a?...
The commercial unification of the world during the West's long boom following World War II brought millions of people from historically Muslim countries to live in Europe with extraordinary speed, far quicker than the process of establishing Christianity in Europe's colonies or the march of Muslim armies from the Arabian Peninsula to the heart of Europe in the century that followed the death of the Prophet. These millions of modern Muslims brought their medieval social mores with them....
Just as European governments and other civil society groups underestimated the intentions of the radical expansionist agents of Islam, the churches, both Catholic and Protestant, neglected to offer the new Muslim immigrants the spiritual guidance they sought.... These Christians were ecumenical to the point of making no attempt to convert those they sought to help.
Ecumenism for most Christians is a measure of progress, allowing a choice of faiths and forms of worship while establishing peaceful relations between them. Islam is quite different. It was started by a warrior who conquered faster than he could think through a theology or political theory. Islam since his death has been plagued by a crisis of authority, leaving an everlasting vacuum of power that, throughout the history of Islam, has been filled by men who seize power by force. The concepts of jihad, martyrdom, and a life that begins only after death are never challenged.
The Christian leaders now wasting precious time and resources on a futile exercise of interfaith dialogue with the self-appointed leaders of Islam should redirect their efforts to converting as many Muslims as possible to Christianity, introducing them to a God who rejects Holy War and who has sent his son to die for all sinners out of love for mankind.
Perhaps if volunteers had more actively preached to these early immigrants and actively sought to convert them to Christianity, the tragedy of the unassimilable Muslim might have been avoided. Converts to Christianity would have recognized the radicals when they arrived and resisted the siren song of jihad.... This is a tragic story of countless missed opportunities.... How could this happen...?
Part of the answer is that out of a misplaced respect for the immigrants' culture, no real, concerted attempt has been made to shift their traditional ways of mind... there has not been a deliberate drive to urge immigrants to adopt Western values. The other part of the answer is the willful denial by Westerners that there is a clash of values between the West and the rest, and particularly between Islam and the West. For decades European leaders, including Christian leaders, neglected to bring the newcomers into their fold.... Christian leaders assumed the passive position that people will be attracted to the church on their own and that the church had no business trying to persuade them of the superiority of the Christian God.
Muslim Brotherhood members, by contrast, are tireless in their efforts.... In immigrant neighborhoods across Europe so-called Brotherhood Women — young and single and bursting with the energy of the born-again — work their way through the housing projects asking how they can help harried mothers. They clean house and offer tape-recorded cassettes of sermons, along with DVDs of desperate martyrs.... There is no end to the kindness; they are doing this for Allah. But Allah wants something in return for all this charity. He wants submission of will, mind, and body so total that those kids who are saved from the streets and drug addiction are persuaded to commit to the jihad against the infidel....
The Brotherhood's focus on the global community of Islam also makes it a powerful force. Its simple message of unity in a movement of anti-Western jihad is the teenage dream: rebellion with a cause. All over Europe such young people live in what were once Christian neighborhoods. These places had churches, with congregations, priests, and ladies who put flowers in the chapel every Sunday. But far too few people crossed the tracks and stretched a hand out to the Muslim families who moved into the housing projects of Europe. No priest matched the efforts of the [Muslims] with the box of cassette tapes.... The jihadis didn't have any real competition; of course they spread.
The churches must have seen this happening, and yet for some reason didn't seek to raise the alarm. They did not try to fight either the massive wave of conversions of traditional Muslims to fundamentalism or the smaller wave of conversions of people from historically Christian communities to Islam. The reason seems clear: the Vatican and all the established Protestant churches of northern Europe believed naïvely that interfaith dialogue would magically bring Islam into the fold of Western civilization. It has not happened, and it will not happen.
Right now there are three kinds of messages being disseminated in many immigrant communities in European cities: the traditional, more dilute Islam that is mainly a kind of cultural habit; strong, radical Islam, which is clearly on the rise; and the get-rich-quick scams offered by the lords of organized crime who deal in the trafficking of women, weapons, and drugs.
I would prefer, as a fourth option, to offer Muslims who cling to the idea of a creator and eternal life, a religious leader like Jesus, who said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's," rather than a warrior like Muhammad, who demanded that the pious seek to gain power by the sword.
To help ground these people in Western society, the West needs the Christian churches to get active again in propagating their faith. It needs Christian schools, Christian volunteers, the Christian message. The Saudis have no hesitation in converting [Europeans] to become "born-again" Muslims. The pope should be spreading his faith too. For Islam isn't a genetic inheritance. A child born in Holland is not bound to be a Muslim just because his parents come from Morocco.
In the blighted neighborhoods of Europe where the jihadis currently have free rein, there is no special reason why Christians should not set up after-school programs, peer programs for teenagers, sports clubs, and homework help. Religious people are generally more effective than state-salaried caseworkers because they give more time, and when the beneficiaries of this kind of very practical help realize that it is coming from volunteers, that in itself is impressive.
I believe we now need a Christian school for every madrassa.... Christian schools are often poles of excellence in an otherwise blighted educational landscape, particularly in inner-city neighborhoods. They are schools that teach more than how to recite a sacred book by heart. They teach not only the full range of science and humanities, but also about a God who created reason....
This is a contest that Christians have every chance of winning. The belief system of the Muslim Brotherhood stems from a very narrow, Arab culture; that, it seems to me, is its weak point.... Many people who allow themselves to be drawn into Wahabist Muslim groups are looking for spiritual solace and a strong sense of community in a cruel and troubling world.... What they are getting, though, is a toxic mix of Arab imperialism and a violent, revolutionary cult in the guise of religion.
Religious belief gives you a companionship in adversity, the security of fixed rules, and the tempting feeling of self-surrender and submission. I remember the comfort of that feeling. Islam frightens you into submitting. I remember that fear too. The churches should do all in their power to win this battle for the souls of humans in search of a compassionate God, who now find that a fierce Allah is closer to hand.
I am not a Christian and have no plans to convert. But I am intrigued by religious institutions and the role they play in socializing young people. So on a few occasions since coming to the United States I have accepted invitations to go to church. When I was a Muslim, of course, I used to go to the mosque. Although both churches and mosques are religious institutions, I soon learned that they are as different as day and night.
A mosque is an island of gender apartheid.... The contrast with the churches I have attended in America could not be more complete. Men and women, children and adults, people of all races intermingle. Their attire is no different from what they might wear on the streets.... The sermon is in English, accessible and easy to follow. The central message is one of love.
[Churches] need to step up to the challenge of providing new Muslim immigrants with the concept of a God who is a symbol of love, tolerance, rationality, and patriotism. They need to organize, to map the Muslim communities and start a tireless campaign to convince Muslims that a constitution of freedom is preferable to a constitution of submission, that life's challenges can best be overcome with the traditional Christian values of hard work, individual responsibility, frugality, tolerance, and moderation.
Some readers may still be skeptical that the clash of civilizations can be won through religious competition. But I know it can work because I have seen it with my own eyes....