Guest / Limited Access /

I recently attended a gathering called Sounds of Hope, which brought together Christian leaders from predominantly Muslim countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. Listening to their reports of life as a beleaguered minority in a turbulent region got me thinking about the interface between Christianity and Islam.

Several years ago a Muslim man said to me, "I find no guidance in the Qur'an on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society and no guidance in the New Testament on how Christians should live as a majority." He put his finger on a central difference between the two faiths. One, born at Pentecost, tends to thrive cross-culturally and even counterculturally, often coexisting with oppressive governments. The other, geographically anchored in Mecca, was founded simultaneously as a religion and a state.

As a result, in strict Muslim countries, religion, culture, and politics are unified. Whereas in the U.S. school boards debate the legality of one-minute nonsectarian prayers at football games, in Muslim countries commerce and transportation screech to a halt at the call to prayer five times a day. Many Muslims seek the official adoption of Shari'ah law, derived from sacred writings and similar to the all-encompassing code in the Pentateuch.

Fueled by theocratic zeal, Islam conquered three-fourths of all Christian territory during the Middle Ages. In response Christians, who had little tradition of holy war, launched the Crusades. Over time, the Christian West separated church and state and fostered a respect for religious freedom. Ultimately, Europe became identified as a "post-Christian" culture. Notably, there are no comparable "post-Muslim" societies except in regions where Islam was evicted by force.

Theocratic ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedTime To Rend Marriage? 1 in 4 Pastors Agree with First Things Petition
Time To Rend Marriage? 1 in 4 Pastors Agree with First Things Petition
Magazine argues for splitting civil and Christian marriage. LifeWay examines which Americans agree.
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickSt. Nick, Patron of Pawn Shops
St. Nick, Patron of Pawn Shops
The little-known history of Christianity’s icon of generosity.
Comments
Christianity Today
The Lure of Theocracy
hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.