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I’ve read more than one column written by an American Christian decrying Middle East Islamic violence in reaction to recent cartoons of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. I understand their criticism of the violence. It saddens me too, and I agree that it should be condemned by all good thinking people worldwide.

I also understand the Christian writers’ disagreement with certain basic tenets of Islam. My Christian theology doesn’t match Islamic theology either. I understand the writers’ tendency to list differences in Muhammad and Christ, for the differences define the distance between man and God.

I also understand the shake-your-head amazement at what many Americans, of the Christian faith or not, consider the emotional Muslim over-reaction to twelve cartoons. We can’t comprehend it. We’ve weathered The Last Temptation of Christ, The Da Vinci Code, postmodern sacrilegious art, and the ACLU’s latest pique about the Ten Commandments or Nativity scenes on courthouse lawns. It’s not that we don’t care about our faith or its icons. It’s just that we’ve learned a little bit about living in a religiously pluralistic democracy.

But there is one thing I do not understand—smug condemnation. What I must caution, at least for myself, is a too self-righteous response. Sadly, tragically, history offers us way too many examples of people acting just as emotionally, just as violently in the name of Christianity. They’ve tortured, they’ve crusaded, and they’ve killed unjustly. I don’t think this fact besmirches Christian truth or the character of God, but I do think it should cause us to speak with a bit of humility. People are people, Christians included, and those who name the name of Christ have not always acted in a Christ-like manner.

So I am not condoning violent Muslim reaction to cartoons, nor am I saying Christianity is anything less than a faith that focuses upon the Sovereign God of the Bible, the Creator God of the Universe. I’m just saying Christians don’t always act like Christians, me included.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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