Dear Friends, I don’t often do this, but this letter I received from someone much more intimately connected to the situation in Europe really touched me, because it is a call to remember Love in all of this social up-heaval that I so often try to give a Christian perspective to. I don’t entirely agree with what this Christian brother is saying, but wanted to present it to you for discussion or comment. I do agree with his overall point, that love is paramount and that there really is no political solution to the mess the world is in, only a spiritual solution.
I think the reader misunderstood me when I said I have to get a “Rant” off of my chest. I use the term not as traditional, i.e. “ranting and raging”, but in the modern cyber sense, as someone standing on a soapbox and giving passionate commentary. I appreciate this man, because he fives me a chance to re-iterate, that we should love the Muslims- read, enjoy and comment…
Dear Pastor Bill,
I’m not a regular reader, but someone forwarded this post b/c they thought I should read it.
This topic hits closer to home than usual, because it hit this side of the world (I’m Dutch, but grew up in Italy and I now live in the US — I’m writing from Holland, while visiting my parents) and because the it’s a christian writing the blog.
So, I’ll give my two cents, just to see things from a different perspective and so that the non-christians in the house can see that not all Christians think the same way.
Being here, seeing the pain, fear (a close friend lives 300 meters from the theatre), discomfort with the events and with people who are different, makes any commentary on it a potential target for criticism. Kudos to Bill for having the courage to try.
I find it interesting that the writing following the quote from Scripture is completely inconsistent with the quote itself.
You can’t believe in the words, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath” and then start with “can I just get a rant off my chest” and hope to be consistent.
Seems like the you believe that the Lord would ultimately win, but your hope is in human leaders (probably unbelievers) to get it done for Him. And since they failed (duh?), we are in trouble (“Come quickly Jesus”… and get us outta this mess!).
In the meantime, let’s hate on people who hate us and our way of living and kick them out of our countries like Sobieski did in Poland, since we are a Judeo-Christian nation and they don’t belong here. (This is grossly, summarized, I know — if i’m getting the general idea wrong, please do correct me).
I’m not going to lie: I have had many hateful thoughts about muslims in the last few years and more intensely in these last few days. Despite being post-Christian societies, countries like Holland and England, have an actual official relationship with the church. There is no separation of church and state and these countries could make a political/legal argument for no diversity whatsoever. The US has a cultural argument only, not a legal one. But I digress.
The cleaning crew in the hospital where my dad is staying is mostly islamic judging by the head-coverings. When I walked by them and they were comfortably talking some Arabic language in the halls, I wanted to yell at them and tell them to learn Dutch and only speak dutch in public or get the hell out of here. I want all their “cultural” centers shut down. I wanted the music from Mosques calling for prayer in my sister’s neighborhood to be shut down. Deep down, that’s how I feel. I have felt some sympathy with American friends who in recent years have mourned the loss of their beloved culture (they mostly for other reasons having more to do with the bedroom choices of their neighbors, but also for other diversity such as this).
Here are some questions we have to ask ourselves:
Is my anger right? Is this a “righteous anger”, as many Christians would like justify it? I don’t mean it against the violence, which is universally considered evil and to be hated, but against all Muslims and their way of living in our countries.
My initial thought is that from a Christian perspective, it is not. Romans 12 is super-explicit, no-doubt, in-your-face, painfully truthful on this subject and consistent with the Psalm quoted in the blog,
“4 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you [self-defence is ok], live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves [Never?], but leave it[i] to the wrath of God [remember.. “those who wait on the Lord shall…” what? Indeed, on a different calendar and timing], for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry [if immigrants come knocking on your door, even enemies], feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink [1st century welfare?]; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good..”
Romans 13 follows with a call to submission to authority, those who “bear the sword”, basically telling Christians, that God put them in charge, pay your taxes, respect them and honor them. Put up AND shut up. Mind you that the authorities the Apostle Paul is referring to at the time are christian-persecuting, pagans, who thought their emperor was the son of god and orgies were a good way to worship him. Honor, respect, what? Feed who? This sucks. Yet, Christ modeled it. He died for us, while we were yet sinners (not when we got our act together — we were no better than anyone else, that’s the covenant of grace). The call is basically to trust in God, in his sovereignty and grace and not in our own strength. Love wins, in this battle (gosh, I hate to admit it—but it’s true). Blogs from pastors who invite us to denigrate our country’s leadership for failing to keep Islamists out is inconsistent with the Bible (before you conclude that I’m a obama-loving-euro-socialist, stop yourself — I don’t give a crap about him or any other politician). Your call is consistent with our (yes, mine for sure), selfish desire for earthly freedom, comfort and ease, none of which are promised in Christ. If anything else, our evangelistic fervor that pushes us to support missionaries around the world (my parents being two of them – of the Pentecostal branch of the church), should be excited to see so many unbelievers come to our doorsteps, so that we get to “pour burning coals over their heads” with food and water.
Does suppression work?
My brother-in-law works with immigrants in Utrecht. I asked him what he thought about this mess we are in in Europe.
He also has felt similar feelings that you and I have had. However, he told me something that made me pause. He said, if we now push toward greater separation of culture, better yet, suppression of their culture, we are only going to create greater monsters. Every time you suppress anger and diversity, you create greater pressure to explode. It happened with Christianity in the Roman empire, whose martyrs’ blood is often credited for the explosion of the faith around the world. The case in point today is the Molenbeek neighborhood in Brussels from where several terrorists were born and raised. The place is considered effectively a ghetto for muslims. The thought is that the lack of integration into society, acceptance, etc. has triggered further hatred for their own environment. Theories. Who knows. We know that segregation hasn’t worked out that well. It didn’t and doesn’t work with blacks. It won’t work with other diverse groups.
Last question, are we better than 1933 Germany?
Germany was among the most advanced, civilized, mostly protestant nations of the time. Struggling economically, it went on to elect a populist and exterminate 6 million Jews for being different, while most of the nation watched and didn’t stop anything.
We are capable of the same, probably with another group of people. Your rhetoric suggests that if our leadership put all Muslims in concentration camps [I’m exaggerating. I hope], we would stand and watch too. Some of us would applaud.
Let’s not fall into the trap of worrying about our selfish desires and our inability to trust God’s sovereignty to hate people who are different, very different from us.
I don’t know what the political solution is (I remind you that I have little hope for politics — it’s too often the selfish game for power).
If one wants to stand up for their own culture, fight for it to keep it “pure”, go for it. I don’t care.
Just don’t use the Christian badge for it. In fact, one shouldn’t call himself a Christian if he hates bearers of God’s image and thinks it’s ok to do so. Period. Full stop.
I think the civil solution is to catch criminals. That’s about it.
I do know that if I open my house to a stranger, he’s more likely (not guaranteed) to embrace my way of life than if I kick him to the curb.
I have no doubt about that single act. I have no doubt that I’m commanded to do so. But I speak for my house only.
Bottom line, I don’t like them either, but feelings are rarely good barometers of what is true, pure and just.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Hating is easy. Love, the true call, is a gracious gift from God.
Thank you for reading this far. God bless you.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that …