Faith, Reason and a Call to Spiritual Arms

by Rebecca Bynum (February 2014)


In an article entitled “Defend Christendom” published in National Review, Conrad Black wrote:

“Our secular leaders, whatever their own religious views, should cease to appease these forces of the anti-Christ; should unsheathe the great moral sword in their scabbards, and have some thought for the more than 1.5 billion practicing Christians whose votes they seek, while pretending that any acknowledgment of Christianity is an affront to all other faiths and a forced march on seven-league boots back into the Dark Ages.”

The only problem I see with the statement is that secularity in and of itself has no moral sword which to unsheathe and therefore secular leaders are very unlikely to fully engage in moral battle especially involving opposition to what is supposed to be a religion, namely the system of Islam. They must have the moral guidance of true religion as well as the guidance of reason and common sense. They can act in concert with the churches but they cannot act for the churches. Our churches have a role to play that cannot be replicated by any other institution.

To the balanced personality, reason can never be imprisoned by religion, neither should reason seek to drive religion out of mind or from the public square. Faith and reason act together as two eyes to give us depth perception into the nature of reality and the nature of God. Faith and reason need each other.

It was Jesus who made the last great advancement in morality and it was he who brought us a sword1 with which to do moral battle – his word. Therefore, it is by and through him that this battle will ultimately be fought. The only institutions suited to such a task are the churches, not political parties or nation states. For once in our lifetimes, the churches might lead and secular leaders may follow.

If the churches are to uphold their mandate and represent Christ to the world, then the churches must speak for him, not simply attempt to plead his case by engaging in endless dialogue with various Muslims who claim to represent Islam, but who actually have no real power to do so. The Pope may speak for all Catholics, but there is no one who can legitimately do the same for all Sunnis, Shi’a, Sufis, Ahmadis or other Muslim sects. Dialogue between religious leaders avails nothing. The churches should speak directly to ordinary Muslims, bypassing their leaders altogether, just as Jesus would do.

Christ, as he looks upon the earth today, sees before him a billion or more human beings who are enslaved to spiritual darkness. In his life, Jesus quoted Isaiah in the synagogue2: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”3

Islam is nothing less that a great spiritual prison. Its devotees see themselves as slaves of Allah and most emphatically not as sons of God. The only relationship Muslims may envision between themselves and Allah is one of blind obedience: absolute mental and spiritual slavery. Reason may not be employed to question Islamic doctrine for Allah is not bound by his own laws, by his own nature, or by reason at all. Christianity, on the other hand, views reason as a way of approaching God.

Since the mid 9th Century, Islam has expressly denied that there is any “real analogy”4 between man and God (man is not created in God’s image) and therefore human reason has no basis by which to question Islam. Reason is simply irrelevant. On what possible basis, then, can real dialogue be engaged between representatives of the Hellenized Gospel and Islam? Muslims maintain Allah is pure Will, he is not Truth. God, as revealed by Jesus, is Truth and Goodness and Beauty. He is Love. His relationship with man is that of a Father. To Muslims this is pure blasphemy – Allah has no “associates” and men are not his children, but are either slaves (Muslims) or rebel enemies (non-Muslims). 

Jesus charged the Apostles to go out into the world and proclaim the good news: that God is our Father who loves us and suffers none of us to perish if we turn to him. If the churches are to follow Christ, they must boldly call the mass of Muslims who now sit in spiritual darkness to the light of truth. Why shouldn’t the churches empower Muslims to proclaim that coercing belief is not reasonable and that violence is not right? Why should churches go along with the program that deprives Muslims of the right to question Islam? The churches must respect Muslims, not Islam: churches should actively give ordinary Muslims the power to choose.

It should be possible for churches to join together to broadcast the good news into Muslim lands the way Voice of America broadcast the truth about the West into the Soviet bloc. “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”5 The secular state cannot do this. Only the churches can do this. A program involving television, radio and the internet broadcasting the words of Christ 24 hours a day every day of the year in all the languages of the Muslim world can and should be undertaken by the churches if they are to truly follow Christ and give his word to all nations and peoples.

The first objection to such a proposal will be that Muslims will retaliate against Christians in Muslim lands, that is, the tempo of harassment, expulsion and murder of Christians will increase, so that the Muslim world will be Christian-free in ten years rather than fifty. This is a very real possibility and so must be met by the churches collectively calling on our secular government to take back full control of our refugee programs and place Christians from Muslim countries at the top of the list of priorities for refugee status and Muslims from Muslim lands at the bottom. As things stand now, this priority seems to be reversed and control of our refugee program lies ultimately in the hands of the United Nations, not the people of the United States. This must be remedied by Congress.

Indeed, the churches themselves must reach out to save the bodies of our fellow Christians, but more importantly, their primary duty is to reach out to the souls of all our fellow human beings. They should actively deliver the good news we take for granted, but is essentially unknown in the Muslim world. Muslims think they know what religion is, but they are only given the Islamic system. They think they know who Jesus was, but they are given Isa of the Qur’an, not the real Jesus of Nazareth who spoke words of comfort and gave hope to the world. Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword, but those who accept the words of Jesus, shall achieve life everlasting. The churches must join the great spiritual struggle for the souls of men, not sit on the sidelines in complacency, aloof from this battle of the ages.

“Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.”6

Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” His sword is Truth – a truth that is joined to the arm of man’s reason  the truth that between God and man there is a “real analogy” so that man may apprehend the living God. Let this sword cut through the lies and distortions of Islam and reveal to Muslims the living reality of God’s love. God does not desire his children be coerced into believing in him, or coerced into obeying a rigid and unchanging dogma entirely unfit for the modern world. Spreading faith by the sword could never reasonably be taken as God’s will. This truth must be proclaimed from the mountaintops, allowing Muslims to make a real and lasting choice.

 

[1] See Matthew 10:34.

[2] See Luke 4: 15-21.

[3] Isaiah 61: 1-3 King James Version.

[4] Pope Benedict XVI said in his Regensburg address on Sept. 12, 2006: “In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the claim that we can only know God's voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazm and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul - "λογικη λατρε?α", worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

[5] Matthew 5:15 King James Version.

[6] Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus to an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam quoted by Pope Benedict XVI in his Regensburg address delivered 09-12-2006 and taken from Controversy VII, 3 b–c:  Khoury, pp. 144-145;  Förstel vol. I, VII. Dialog 1.6, pp. 240-243.

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Rebecca Bynum's latest book is Allah is Dead, Why Islam is Not a Religion.



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