In a recent online commentary, I asked, "Is Islam a religion of peace?" After evaluating the violent history and teachings of Islam, as well as some encouraging recent developments, I answered (charitably, I thought), Not yet.
I didn't get any arguments about my conclusion, but I did get some pointed responses from Christians about an unspoken premise: that Christianity is a more pacific faith than is Islam. Pointing to violence perpetrated in the name of Christ down through the last two millennia, they asked whether Christianity is any better.
A new book, Christian Jihad (Kregel, 2004), by Ergun Mehmet Caner, of Liberty University, and Emir Fethi Caner, of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, examines this uncomfortable question. The authors bring an unusual perspective to the task. Two former Muslims who now follow Christ, the Caners have drawn international attention for their tough critiques of Islam in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Now, in a clear attempt at intellectual balance, they have exposed to the light what many Christians would no doubt prefer to be left in darkness: the propensity of professed followers of the Prince of Peace to advance and maintain the faith through brutality. In a day in which Islamic extremism terrorizes millions, the Caners have issued a call for Christian humility, knowing that we have traveled much the same violent path. The Muslims' impulse to holy war is doubly horrible for ushorrible because of the slaughter done in the name of God, and horrible because of the self-recognition it ought to produce.
"True authenticity demands that we denounce acts in history in which innocent non-believers were slaughtered for the sole crime of being a non-believer," they ...