Islamic Reformation

November 17, 2006

This is a longer version of my comment on this. As a moderate christian I do quite often start off feeling offended when a comparison of someone like Bin Laden is made with someone like Luther. I feel these are two different and distinct individuals. Though Luther did enter into some more dangerous territory later in life I still have to respect him as the impetus behind reforming where the church was going wrong. I do realize there are shameful acts in the history of our church as a whole, there are even shameful acts in the lives of some of the great heroes of the faith. At the same time though I do wish to emphasize the main differences between the Islamic reformation and the Christian one.

Christianity is a religion of peace, it began and was spread by those who preached, debated, and prayed as the tools for spreading their faith. All the while these founders of our faith were persecuted and never (to my knowledge) reacted with anger or force. When it has turned to war it has been for secular ends cloaked in spiritual motives enabled by general ignorance (I’m thinking specifically of the crusades here). Islam, even by the end of Mohammed’s life, was well acquainted with war, it’s rapid rise in the 7th century is specifically due to the use of force in extending it’s sphere of influence.

Christian scriptures (specifically the New Testament) nowhere advice the unrestrained killing of those who don’t accept the faith. When (or if) Luther said “in such a war, it is Christian and an act of love to strangle the enemies confidently, to rob, to burn, and do all that is harmful until they are overcome.” (I can’t find this through google) he wasn’t quoting his holy text to justify the advice of killing others. Bin Laden frequently does.

The best comparison and also contrast between the Christian Reformation and the Muslim one is that it is due to an increase in literacy and access to the holy texts of the respective religions. I would argue (and hopefully one day will have the means to) that if the Christian reformation had happened 7 centuries earlier there would have been no crusades. It was precisely by putting the scriptures in the hands of the people that Christianity’s peaceful motives and means were restored. By putting the Koran in the hands of it’s people we see a return to the roots of it’s faith. Religion by the sword.


One comment

  1. Well said, Li

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