Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is ‘robust Christianity’ the antidote to Islamic extremism?

Dominic Lawson poses this very question in The Independent, recounting the story of the daughter of an imam who refused to enter into a forced marriage, converted to Christianity, and is presently living under police protection being pursued by her own brothers who seek to restore their family ‘honour’.

She is not simply a rebellious daughter, but an apostate who, under the principles of Shari’a, is unworthy of anything but execution. And she is fortunate in having such dedicated and devout brothers who are themselves prepared to carry out the sentence - in the name of Allah.

Yet the questions posed by Mr Lawson are not so much aimed at the Government’s response to such threats, or even that of the police, but at the total inadequacy of the non-response of the Church of England.

As ever, one might expect the Most Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, to articulate something of the nexus. His father was a Muslim who converted to Roman Catholicism, and thence Dr Nazir-Ali converted to the Church of England. Over the past 30 years, he has witnessed the dominant form of Islam in the UK mutate from the ‘pietistic, Sufi-orientated’ branch to the ‘militant and political’ - the same form of the religion that forced him out of Pakistan.

And he is in no doubt as to its source: ‘the British mosques had recruited people from fundamentalist backgrounds (who manifest) the chauvinist manifestations of Islam, a kind of ideology which affirms the will to power.’

Yet it is not Saudi Arabia which is to blame, and neither is it the British Government’s immigration policy, but the ‘the British people themselves’, because ‘there has been a catastrophic collapse in Christian-based morality and spirituality in this country over the past 40 or so years and that this has created a "moral vacuum" in society as a whole, which has been increasingly filled – at least in the minds of impressionable youth – by fundamentalist Islam’.

The Bishop highlights one salient fact: ‘…while Muslims make up no more than 3 per cent of the British population, there are now more Muslims who attend a mosque regularly than there are regular attenders in the pews of the Established Church. Fundamentalist Islam can hardly take all the blame for that extraordinary reversal’.

And it is to Islam that thoughts now turn when there is talk of ‘devout adherence’, ‘commitment’, or ‘submission to God’. And the theme is taken up by the pathologically porous media, eager to imbibe the latest spiritual fad in order to boost its viewing/reading figures, and gives rise to such myopic endeavours as that to be screened on Channel 4 this weekend – ‘Why I want to be a Muslim’ – or some such title. As if they would ever waste their cash on a documentary of the virtues of Christianity.

Dominic Lawson takes issue with Dr Nazir-Ali on one point, and he is right to do so:

Here, as a leading figure in the Church of England, Dr Nazir-Ali is swimming in dangerous waters. Is it the British people who should be blamed for deserting, in their millions, the once-dominant Church of England? Or should not the Church of England look at its own performance and try to understand why it has lost such a vast proportion of its audience – at least as defined by regular churchgoing, rather than notional affiliation?

But it is simplistic to conclude that the Christians necessarily take their faith less seriously. There is an increasing incongruity between the professed religious belief of Christians, and statistics which indicate a persistent decline in church attendance. In his book ‘Religion in Britain’, Davie notes the rise of ‘believing without belonging’, and rightly talks of the ‘unchurched’ rather than the secular. While the distinction is difficult for many to perceive (and certainly the manner in which some ‘devout’ Muslims perceive the ‘irreligious’ Christians), it would be more accurate to see this as a development in the expression of the Christian faith, rather than constituting its disappearance or diminution.

So all that is left is to decide what one means by ‘robust’ and what one understands by ‘Christianity’. While the Archbishop of Canterbury may interpret the demand as a call to be a more determined doormat, there are certain self-appointed prophets who would turn up their megaphones and offend the world with their sounding brass or their tinkling cymbals. The robust Christianity must be based on love, which, as any parent knows, sometimes merits a firm slap.

32 Comments:

Anonymous mickey said...

Your Grace, there was a time when people came to this country, liked what they saw and either stayed on and fitted in or returned to their homeland imbued with a mission to make it more like England. The Church was woven into the very fabric of our lives in those days.

A few weeks ago, a DVD slipped out of a Saturday newspaper. It began with the following words:

"A summer Sunday, 1914: All across Europe the bells were pealing, calling men and women to church.

Sunday, the Lord's Day and a day of rest. It was a world of firm beliefs: father at the head of the family; the monarch at the head of the nation; God in his Heaven.

Sunday, after church, was a day of quiet pleasures; a walk in the country or the park; perhaps a cycle ride; perhaps a boat, drifting lazily down a river."

Quite different to the retail nirvana of today, is it not?

Warming to the theme of the 'robust Christianity' of those days, I was recently doing some internet research into the background of an old family photograph and I came across the following gentleman's details on the Queens' College Cambs. roll of honour:

"Rifleman (The Revd) Oliver H Robertson (1908), London Regiment (Queen's Westminster Rifles). He died on active service near Arras 28th March 1918, aged 28. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France."

He would appear to have been a vicar who went to serve our country, not as a Padre, but as a common soldier in the ranks. Now that is what I would call a robust approach to his calling. How exceptional this was in those faraway days I know not, but one cannot help but be impressed by such a man.

11 December 2007 at 11:29  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

all that is left is to decide what one means by ‘robust’ and what one understands by ‘Christianity’

All? His Grace waxes ironic, surely?

I absolutely agree that this is an very important issue. My respectful suggestion is that what will work is something that provides identity. That something will likely be an alloy of moral teaching and opposition to the status quo. (The opposition part disqualifies the established church.) Perhaps we need to look at historical Methodism for a guide. Whatever, my contention is two-fold: robust means oppositional and therefore dangerous in some degree, and the faith element is contestable.

11 December 2007 at 12:21  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

Yet it is not Saudi Arabia which is to blame, and neither is it the British Government’s immigration policy, but the ‘the British people themselves’, because ‘there has been a catastrophic collapse in Christian-based morality and spirituality in this country over the past 40 or so years and that this has created a "moral vacuum" in society as a whole, which has been increasingly filled – at least in the minds of impressionable youth – by fundamentalist Islam’.

But if Christianity had been healthy here, it wouldn't have allowed mass immigration by Muslims. Do you think Saudi Arabia would throw its borders open to Christians and then pander to them in the ways the UK has pandered to Muslims? Islam ruthlessly pursues its own interests, while Christianity seems hell-bent on pursuing the interests of its enemies. The appointment of an "anti-racist" black as Archbishop of York is another sign of the rot. Sentamu's dog-collar stunt might produce what matters to him, namely self-publicity, but it won't reverse what people like him did in Rhodesia and South Africa, namely hand white Christian nations over for destruction by Marxist blacks.

11 December 2007 at 13:10  
Anonymous Pistol Pete said...

I believe it is entirely possible to be firm and unapologetic about my faith in Jesus Christ yet also respectfully relate to persons of other faiths. In fact, unless I take my own faith seriously, it is not likely that I truly respect theirs. If you don't stand for anything (or Anyone), you can easily dismiss those who do.

11 December 2007 at 15:16  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

First and foremost we require a discriminatory immigration policy.

11 December 2007 at 15:18  
Blogger Dark_Heretic said...

How can we have a 'Robust' form of christianity when it would fly in the face of the constant appeasing and apologising being done by Rowan Williams?

Church attendance is down to a whole range of factors not just a single thing. Sunday shopping, families splitting, families living further apart and more mobile therefore less ties to the local community, christianity not being cool, the church apologising for everything and appeasing everyone, the church not being flexible enough for modern life, the media being monopolised by Islamic PR, councils promoting multi faith or secular Christmas lights and lastly but probably most importantly all the self serving little busy bodies who invent ways this or that can't be done in case it offends somebody.

Surely everything needs looking at first before getting 'Robust'?

11 December 2007 at 17:04  
Blogger Shirley said...

Your Grace
The problem may be more 'belonging without believing'. For some time it has been unclear what the 'wet' Anglican church (as opposed to the African/Midwest US variety) believes in e.g. the David Jenkins sermons of a while back. Most of them would probably be happier as Unitarians in terms of belief. Without a clear belief, Christian soldiers cannot be 'onward'.

11 December 2007 at 17:58  
Anonymous billy said...

"The robust Christianity must be based on love, which, as any parent knows, sometimes merits a firm slap."

I've always viewed the whipping of the moneylenders as a lot more effective than turning the other cheek.
I do not feel any need to respect other people's religions or beliefs. If Christ was the Son of God then all the others are wrong.

11 December 2007 at 18:10  
Blogger Madasafish said...

"If Christ was the Son of God then all the others are wrong."

Yes.
Prove it.

11 December 2007 at 18:54  
Blogger Ttony said...

"So all that is left is to decide what one means by ‘robust’ and what one understands by ‘Christianity’."

Quite a few hundred millions of us would see the Pope's recent encyclical, Spe Salvi , as fufilling both briefs. It's not a quick read, but I would suggest that there is an lot in it for an Anglican of a traditional stripe to meditate upon.

11 December 2007 at 19:42  
Anonymous Dave Bartlett said...

If you try to explain the collapse in church attendance with this glib 'believing without belonging' nonsense you are just burying your head in the sand.

The CoE needs to ask itself how it has failed, and what steps it can take to turn the situation around.

I believe they are looking at CoE secondary schools as one possible avenue, no doubt there will be others.

But you can't solve a problem, without first recognising that you have a problem.

12 December 2007 at 00:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

The C of E lost its way in the early 1900s when its leaders began to follow liberal theology which doubted the truth of the scriptures. I had a Saul on the road to Damascus conversion and attended an evangelical church with a growing congregation and a Vicar who believed that the Bible was the word of God and preached accordingly. I was stunned when I went to a C of E church where liberal theology was dominant. Listening to the apostate Vicar in that church told me all I needed to know about the decline in C of E attendance.
If the leaders of the C of E return to the scriptures, God will fill the pews for them. If they continue to preach nothing in particular, except, in the case of Rowan Williams, socialism, then they will wither on the vine and be replaced by non- conformist Christian groups.
My burden is not for the C of E but for the spreading of the gospel in our heathen land. I would love to see the C of E involved, but cannot see much hope with Rowan Williams in Lambeth Palace.

12 December 2007 at 01:15  
Blogger Teck said...

I detect an unholy admixture of Christian love and racist bigotry in some of the postings.

There are countless occasions when I am greeted incredulity that soon becomes muted in some of those people when they discover that I am educated, articulate, come from an establishment background and, to top it all, that I am a Christian, an Anglophile and a patriotic Briton.

The reason for their embarrassment? Quite un-Christian; I am not of Anglo-Saxon-Nordic descent.

12 December 2007 at 01:24  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

A lot of reactionary b*****s in this thread I see... ahh, the halcyon days when women and men of colour knew their place.

Christianity has zero to do with the Islamic issue IMO. The issue is politically correct cultural marxism.

12 December 2007 at 03:26  
Anonymous Dave Bartlett said...

@David Lonsdale

Forgive me if I'm being thick, but isn't it possible for a church to be both evangelical and CoE?

12 December 2007 at 03:45  
Blogger Dr.D said...

David Lonsdale has pretty well summarized what has to happen to restore Christianity in Britain: He said:

"My burden is not for the C of E but for the spreading of the gospel in our heathen land. I would love to see the C of E involved, but cannot see much hope with Rowan Williams in Lambeth Palace."

It is necessary to return to the truth of the Gospel, to believe the Bible as the Word of God, and to preach that Word accordingly. This will only be done by clergy that are themselves believers, not the agnostics that have long dominated the English clergy. By implication, in the closing part of Mr. Lonsdale's statement, the ArchDruid has to go if the CoE is to be the way that the Christian faith is restored to England. He has been an unmitigated disaster, despite all the assurances that he is such a brilliant man. His brilliance has been of no value in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury.

12 December 2007 at 04:11  
Blogger Teck said...

Surely, the situation we have in Britain today is a consequence of the dilution and weakening of Christian principles and values through increasing liberalism and accommodation of a variety of exogenous influences, and Christianity, once the dominant religion, is now reflected in lessening degrees on the affairs of the state and ultimately of its laws.

In that regard, I believe that the short and simple answer to Dominic Lawson's question is ineluctably affirmative.

12 December 2007 at 08:51  
Anonymous mickey said...

And if the Church did not have enough problems, this from today's Daily Mail - "Six churches a day plundered by gangs selling lead to China".

12 December 2007 at 09:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

Forgive me, Mr Bartlett, I did not intend to give the impression that you could not be both evangelical and C of E. When I am home, too infrequently I am afraid, I still attend the evangelical C of E church in which my faith was nurtured. Through the faithful ministry in that church people are still finding salvation through Jesus. Indeed I frequently rejoice that my parents found Jesus in that church after coming along to the Watchnight service out of curiosity. They had wondered what I was doing going to church and decided to see for themselves. That was 29 years ago.
However, it is evident that there is a large body, within the leadership of the C of E who would ridicule the faith of us evangelicals and I would cite the curent Bishop of Oxford as an example. With such confusing sounds coming from the leadership of C of E, how can the British people rely on them for guidance in the ways of the Lord.
The C of E, because of its history within our nation, provides a useful focal point through which to direct the word of God. But if its leaders are leading the sheep astray, I cannot see it having a future. Bible believing Christians still have a commission to preach the gospel to all the world. Sadly we may have to do it outside of the C of E.

12 December 2007 at 09:47  
Anonymous prziloczek said...

I was brought up to believe: "Fear God, Honour the King, Love the brotherhood". I was a strongly Protestant person, quite normal living in the Greatest Empire the World has ever Seen.
Over the 50 years since then, Protestantism has achieved its purpose: to reform the Church. Catholic Services are in the vernacular, most of the doctrinal points are now agreed on by everyone, the ancient trappings of popery have disappeared and "difficult' questions - infallibility, mariolatry, penances, even the sacrament of reconciliation - have been swept politely under the carpet.
I now find that my Empire is the world and that Catholicism is the new Protestantism (OK, High Anglicanism).
I can face the future with a smile.

12 December 2007 at 09:56  
Anonymous Dave Bartlett said...

@Teck

"...the situation we have in Britain today is a consequence of the dilution and weakening of Christian principles and values through increasing liberalism and accommodation of a variety of exogenous influences, and Christianity, once the dominant religion, is now reflected in lessening degrees on the affairs of the state and ultimately of its laws."

Isn't it perhaps that many of the social functions for which the local church used to be the hub, are now instead the business of the welfare state?

Without the regular contact/reaffirmation of the church's central role in a community, it diminishes. A church is after all a congregation, not a building. Without the community role, the ties binding the congregation become weakly formal, rather than practical and familial. (If that makes sense :) )

12 December 2007 at 10:23  
Blogger Teck said...

Dave Bartlett (@ 10:23), I am so delighted you share this view with me. A high proportion of GP consultations is about emotional difficulties and interpersonal problems, which unfortunately have become medicalised and dealt with by inappropriate pharmacologic interventions and empathic support by professional counsellors in the dearth of elder wisdom and mentoring. What's even worse is that these modern interventions then lead to a weakening of moral and social resolve; sick notes in such circumstances only serve to reinforce the misguided approach to dealing with the problems.

I say this with the experience of having seen the changes in society since I was at university in the seventies, and witnessed the love and confidence that Christian fellowship and ministry supported and revitalised distressed souls. My GP teacher saw far less of such emotional problems.

The Centre for Social Justice has, I believe, missed a crucial element in its research and conclusions and, probably in the interests of political sensitivity, avoided mention of the vital role that a sound traditional church can play in addressing the problems they have identified as "Breakdown Britain". Maybe I should have a word with Iain Duncan-Smith the next time I see him!

In the meantime, let's pray that common sense and moral leadership prevail, and Christians have the courage to defend and extend their love to their fellow human beings.

12 December 2007 at 11:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why have some comments been removed from here?

12 December 2007 at 14:59  
Anonymous Patriot said...

It is a Deliberate Policy to undermine our Society by the EU Marxists, divide, undermine and CONQUER.

http://bfbwwiii.blogspot.com/2007/10/frankfurt-subversion.html

Personally I prefer this.

http://www.bilderberg.org/fight4.jpg

12 December 2007 at 15:11  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Anonymous 14.59,

His Grace does not usually respond to anonymice who lack even the creativy of spirit to ascribe themselves a name, but, for your information, nothing has been removed from this thread.

12 December 2007 at 15:23  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

A lot of reactionary b*****s in this thread I see... ahh, the halcyon days when women and men of colour knew their place.

Yes, before liberals like you a) helped them to power in Rhodesia and South Africa and made them far worse off; b) brought them flooding into the UK to enrich us with their vicious criminality:

Asians found guilty of shattering man's skull in race hate attack

Three Asian racists were convicted at the Old Bailey today of shattering a man's skull because he was white. Sodrul Islam, 23, Delwar Hussain, 21, and Mamoon Hussain, 20, were found guilty of attempted murder for the attack on John Payne, 33. Up to 30 Asians set upon the victim and his friends for drinking in a pub on the Clichy estate in Stepney, which the gang considered to be their turf. They shouted insults including "white honkies" at the five people who dared to walk through.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=501105&in_page_id=1770

Don't expect the BBC-Guardian to make much of this, because you'll be disappointed. This is the sort of serious hate crime they're interested in:

Bollywood stars face race abuse in London

Two of Bollywood's biggest film stars claim they were racially abused while filming in Britain. A group of white men in a car are said to have hurled insults at Bipasha Basu and Arshad Warsi as they shot the film, Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, in Southall, west London.

Christianity has zero to do with the Islamic issue IMO. The issue is politically correct cultural marxism.

Which is putting words in your mouth without your being aware of it. But "Christianity has zero to do with the Islamic issue IMO" is stupid even by liberal standards.

12 December 2007 at 16:08  
Blogger Teck said...

Israel is a lot smaller than Britain, and it is totally encircled by Islamic states. It stands for no nonsense, and yet it thrives.

Maybe there is a leaf we can take out of the book of Israel?

12 December 2007 at 17:55  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

@nedsherry

As if I'm a liberal... and what is this word 'liberal' anyway. If you mean a 19th century classical liberal than, yup, thats probably something like me. I presume you're using the American version thereof though, ie a lefty, which I am emphatically not.

The rest is a long post, absolutely none of the views in which I ascribe to - neither yours or the ones you ascribe to me.

13 December 2007 at 04:28  
Anonymous mickey said...

Mr Toryboy,

Not sure to what you are referring with your earlier comment ("A lot of reactionary b*****s in this thread...") however, if it related to my own words, it may interest you to know that the DVD series in question has attracted in excess of 1 million orders (each for £10 - £15). At least that is what I have been told when enquiring as to the whereabouts of my own order!

So, against such an apparent groundswell of resurgent interest in those years amongst the British public, it seems to me that it may be premature of you to write off our national heritage as "reactionary b*****s", wouldn't you say?

13 December 2007 at 09:08  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

Are you saying whatever is popular is necessarily right?

I believe in individual liberty, if people want to live that way then they have my blessing.

But I don't think the values being trumpeted have much to do with individual liberty, and World War 1 was pretty much the death of liberty in this country it seems to me, where we all became cogs in the warfighting machine.

13 December 2007 at 21:54  
Anonymous tiberswimmer said...

Your Grace, the Church of England simply has not the authority to give anyone a slap. And never has had. She is a child herself, of the Church of Rome, and a disobedient one at that. Her ineffectual and confused leadership is an inevitable and natural consequence of her illegitimate birth by an act of Parliament. Astonishing she has lasted as long as she has.

23 December 2007 at 23:51  
Blogger jHenosch said...

Since Islam is exactly "the coming prophecy which does not believe Christ came into the flesh as Son of God", according to John, Christianity indeed is the antidote against iSlam.

31 December 2010 at 14:14  

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