Monday, November 29, 2010

Philip Yancey on the Middle East

He has some very interesting observations in this article from the recent issue of CT.

Among them:

As the Christian faith permeates society, it tends to produce values that contradict the gospel. I sometimes test his theory while traveling by asking foreigners, "When I say the words United States, what first comes to mind?" Invariably, I get one of three responses:

Wealth. Representing only 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. generates almost a fourth of the world's economic output and still dominates global finance.

Military power. The U.S., as the media regularly remind us, is "the world's only superpower." The U.S. military budget exceeds that of the next 23 nations combined, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Decadence. Most people in other countries get their notion of the U.S. from Hollywood movies, which seem to them obsessed with sex and crime.

Each contradicts the teachings and example of Jesus, whose life was marked by poverty, self-sacrifice, and purity. No wonder followers of Islam puzzle over Christianity, a powerful faith that somehow produces the opposite of its ideals in society at large.

* * * *

Several years ago, a Muslim man said to me, "I have read the entire Qur'an and can find no guidance in it on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society. I have read the entire New Testament and can find no guidance in it on how Christians should live as a majority." He put his finger on a central difference between the two faiths. Muslim societies tend to unify religion, culture, law, and politics. Whereas U.S. courts debate the legality of nonsectarian prayers at football games and public monuments to the Ten Commandments, in the Middle East even the airlines broadcast the call to prayer five times a day. And in countries with a variety of religions, like Nigeria, as the Muslim population increases, they seek to impose the religious Shari'ah law on all citizens.

No comments: