February 16, 2005

Drawing A Line Under It

I have been disturbed by a number of things associated with the whole matter of my blog about teaching Islam.

First of all, this is a blog about my personal life, working out my own salvation with fear and trembling. It is not a newspaper and I am not a journalist. I have had demands by email that I clarify this or that in no uncertain terms. I don't have to clarify anything. Because I am an American writing about life in Britain, most of my readers are American. However, if I refer to aspects of British life, such as the education system, and you don't understand what I am talking about, I am usually happy to clear that up. If I don't, then a) don't make assumptions, and b) look it up.

Second, other websites have taken it upon themselves to hijack parts of what I have said, add commentary as if it is also what I said, and pass it on as the truth. For example, I never suggested that all British students are required to do anything. I only ever said what I understood one of the exam boards to require to get full marks (an understanding which the exam board has clarified as wrong). (If you don't know what an exam board is, then follow the instructions in the paragraph above.)

Third, commentators on my blog and on other blogs have then taken what I have said to support their own hatred for Islam. I commented on a theological issue of blessing a leader of a non-Christian religion. I have no time for ad hominem attacks on either the person of Muhammad or anonymous Muslims. Some of the comments that I saw had no theological motivation whatsoever and the language used would never come from the keyboard of anyone who is seeking to be conformed to the image of Christ.

As an Orthodox Christian, I clearly do not believe that Islam teaches or represents the Truth. That does not mean that everything Islam teaches is bad. From the excerpts of my blog posted elsewhere, I have seen comments springing bashing Muslims for some of the very things the Bible and Holy Tradition teach us, for example, the modesty of women.

When historically Christian countries and cultures look at the Islamic world, they should feel one thing: shame. There are certainly a lot of nominal Muslims like there are nominal Christians, but throughout the Islamic world - and not just amongst Wahabis and those influenced by the Hanbali school - there are many more Muslims who pray at the prescribed hours. Most Christians today do not even know that they also have prescribed hours of prayer, even though Acts 3:1 is a big tip off.

Respect and responsibility for family is also not a uniquely Muslim concept. The examples of the Old Testament and the Pauline epistles of the New should make that clear. Why is it so much more lacking in the Christian and post-Christian west? (And while respecting families, how about respecting mine? To falsely attribute things to me and to associate it with reprehensible comments endangers my own family's livelihood.)

And before anyone talks about Muslim men being allowed up to four wives, is this not the same number as the Patriarch Jacob? (Yes, I know technically two were concubines.) And what of the Psalmist who wrote the hymnbook of the Church? Not to mention Solomon, because even though the ones who worshipped other gods led to his downfall, there is no hint of immorality attached to the actual polygamy. As Christians, we do not practice the polygamy allowed by the Law of Moses because Jesus tells us it was not the original intention.

Most of the comments I see are from people who have a shallow, virtually one-dimensional understanding of Islam. They operate on a stereotyping one-size-fits-all approach to other religions and cultures. With anthropological myopia they see their own culture and religion as complex and varied.

Let me make this clear. I am a Christian. I believe that there is one name by which men may be saved and it is the name of Jesus. I do not believe that other religions have truths that in any way add to that which was handed down by Holy Apostles by their their teachings and writings. I do not believe that all religions are paths to the same God.

That does not cause me to hate those who do not name the name of Christ. Quite the contrary. Otherwise, where is the love of Christ? I even like a lot of non-Christians, regardless of whether their version of non-Christianity is Islam or the unoffical religion of this country, secular humanism. I wish everyone to come to the knowledge of the Truth.

Just so you know, comments are closed on this particular post. Like Pontius Pilate, what I have written, I have written. Emails are welcome.

Posted by david at February 16, 2005 12:59 AM | TrackBack