Christians and Muslims: Still Fighting

Posted on September 21, 2014

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The current state of affairs between Muslims, Christians, and Jews begs the question: how have these three faiths related to each other in history? This leads, of course, to the second question: what do we learn from history?

When the Prophet Muhammad preached in the seventh century he aimed to correct faults in Judaism and Christianity. His followers believed that God directly dictated the Q’uran, or God’s word, to Muhammad and his followers. They were the descendants of the child Ishmael born to Abraham and his wife Sarah’s slave girl Hagar as told in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

Ishmael was thus the bastard son of Abraham, and so not in the line of God’s chosen people—the Israelites– descended from Isaac, Abraham and Sarah’s legitimate son. Furthermore, the followers of Muhammad—Muslims—did not believe in the divinity of one of their principal prophets, Jesus Christ. Denying Jesus’s divinity divided Muslims from Christians. Being descendants of Ishmael pushed them beyond the pale of the legitimate chosen people of God from the Jewish perspective.

The stage was set for an off and on relationship between these three people of the same book—the Bible—that endures to this day. Each claims absolute authority over interpreting the will of God.
Who is right in all this? It depends, obviously, on who you ask.

Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade in 1095 A.D. Christians were sure that it was their destiny to free the Holy Land of Islam’s control, and so off they went for the next three hundred years, Crusade after Crusade, of warring Christian knights and nobles, to drive the infidel out of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

In the end, Christians were expelled from the Holy Land, but the aspiration of recapturing or controlling the Holy Land for Christendom did not die.

Now, turn the page to about 1897 when a group of European Jews created the modern Zionist movement, devoted to restoring Jews scattered all over the world (the Diaspora) to their historic homeland in the lands of ancient Israel. The upshot of that Zionist (referring to Jerusalem in Hebrew) movement was the creation of modern Israel in 1947-1948, living out the promises in the Bible, such as in Psalm 102:16, 21 “For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory….So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem.”

The British had governed Palestine since the First World War as a mandate after the collapse of the Turkish Empire. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Great Britain supported the creation of an independent Jewish state, and after World War II, the British lived up to their promise and pulled out of Palestine in late 1947, thereby fulfilling the U. N. mandate creating Israel.

Six Arab states—all with huge Muslim majorities—almost immediately attacked the fledgling Jewish state, determined to destroy it. They haven’t succeeded yet.

Furthermore, Christian minorities are being persecuted by ISIS, in Iraq and Syria. So, Muslims and Christians are once again struggling to dominate, and/or survive, in warfare reminiscent of the Crusades.

The United States is still a Christian nation and we are seen in the main as representing the Christian point of view. Our soldiers are the old Crusaders waging war against the Saracens in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nobody likes to admit this. We are there to protect democracy, to “nation build,” to avenge 9/11, to protect oil suppliers, to do a lot of things, but no one wants to admit publicly the truth of the matter.

Jews, Muslims, and Christians have, in fact, lived side by side in peace and harmony over the years in our nation which embraced religious freedom and religious toleration right at the beginning.
But in much of the world, radical Islam has taken on a new edge, claiming supreme authority in the lands it governs. Israel has stuck its finger in the giant’s eye, much like David and his legendary victory over Goliath, but the Arab Muslim world simply cannot destroy the small, but incredibly efficient and modern Jewish state.

How it all plays out will be determined by, I tend to think, God’s will. I think the Christian way is the only way to find and stay in God’s will. If we live out our faith in love, we can do little wrong. But it takes discipline when someone is cutting off your brother’s head and screaming infamies and blasphemies at you.

You then have a perfect right to wage a just war.

Given the nature of the enemy, it has to be a war to the end. Nothing but unconditional surrender. Our terms, or no terms. There can be no conditions granted, no quarter given when dealing with pure evil.

Published in my column The Port Rail as No Quarter Should Be Given for Pure Evil by The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday September 7, 2014.