Appeasement Today and Yesterday


The July 7th terror bombings may not have surprised security-conscious Londoners, but the calculated brutality of the attacks remind us in the West that strife and human suffering are far from eradicated in the 21st century. While humanism has effectively sanitized the Judeo-Christian foundations in Europe and the U.S., it has largely been rebuffed in the Islamic world. The punditry and rhetoric among policy-makers and the media in the wake of these latest heinous acts reflect secularists' expected failure to grasp the spiritual motivations of Islamic terrorism, or jihad. Humanism's shades of gray only appease evil. Conservative commentator Victor Hanson writes, "[The West] has lost confidence in its old commitment to rationalism, free speech and empiricism, and now embraces the deductive near-religious doctrines of moral equivalence and utopian pacifism." (See here for more of Hanson's article.)

Over the past few days, observers have made allusions to that much-maligned figure of appeasement, Neville Chamberlain. As the U.K.'s Prime Minister in the late 1930s, Chamberlain is known for essentially handing Adolf Hitler the keys to Europe. After signing the Munich Agreement in 1938, Chamberlain famously declared, "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time." Securing peace, however ephemeral, was more important than recognizing evil for what it was — a political reality that is not dissimilar to the one that exists today, especially when it comes to European leaders' handling of Islamic terrorism (see Spain, Italy).

In remarks following the Thursday morning blasts, British Prime Minister Tony Blair sounded almost apologetic for any implied saber-rattling:

In addition, I welcome the statement that has been put out by the Muslim Council of Great Britain. We know that [the terrorists] act in the name of Islam, but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims, here and abroad, are decent and law-abiding people who abhor this act of terrorism every bit as much as we do.
Britain has, for years, granted asylum to and harbored militant Islamists. Among diplomats (including the French) and Middle East observers, London is dubiously known as "Londonistan." Curiously, Camille Tawil, the terrorism expert at the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, told the New Statesman in a December 2002 story that, "the Islamists use Britain as a propaganda base but wouldn't do anything to a country that harbors them and gives them freedom of speech."

Secular and religious humanists claim that Arab terrorism is born out of poverty, lack of education, and the West's foreign policy, particularly regarding the Israeli-Palistinean conflict. The Islamic world often echoes these sentiments while tacitly supporting the ideology of the terrorists. Last month, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of predominantly Muslim Malaysia, said that "we can address the problem of extremism and terrorism by delivering better and more widespread [economic] development" in the Muslim nations. However, Abdullah's revered predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, also known as the "father" of modern Malaysia, recently told the Guardian newspaper that the Bush administration is a "rogue regime" and that "Israel and other Jews control the most powerful nation in the world."

Cultural Christianity in the West may take little stock in doctrinal orthodoxy, but Dr. Ergun Caner, a Turkish Muslim-turned-Christian apologetic and author of "Unveiling Islam," says that is not the case for Islam in the Arab world. In an interview with CBN, Dr. Caner said, "Islam has never known culture to be casual, even in my country, Turkey.... You do not call yourself a Muslim in public if you're not practicing."

Well-intentioned religionists and secularists blame the corrosiveness of the West's cultural exports (i.e. Hollywood) and the war in Iraq for stirring diabolical "extremism." Their theology/philosophy of guilt does not, however, take into account the bloody origins of Islam or that eradication of Judeo-Christian civilization is fulfillment of Quranic prophecy. A passage (Surah 9:5) from the Qur'an states:
And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious, merciful.
The Christian humanists at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, may believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same god and that a million-dollar program can take the place of sound doctrine, but consider these words from the British Islamist Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad in an interview with Al-Hayat:
Allah willing, we will transform the West into Dar Al-Islam [i.e. a region under Islamic rule] by means of invasion from without. If an Islamic state arises and invades [the West] we will be its army and its soldiers from within. If not, [we will change the West] through ideological invasion from here, without war and killing.
Many political leaders and humanist academics in Europe and the U.S. believe that Palestinian independence is the panacea for Middle East terrorism. Back at the 1938 Munich Agreement, Chamberlain believed that annexing Sudetenland to Germany would stem the tide of Nazi aggression. The Islamists' ultimate goal is not an independent Palestine but the annihilation of the Jewish state. Steven Plaut, a professor at the University of Haifa (Israel), wrote in the Middle East Quarterly: "'Palestinian self-determination' serves as the banner for Arab aggression against Israel."

In an op-ed piece (subscription req'd) for the July 10th edition of the Los Angeles Times, Jewish radio talk show host Dennis Prager wrote:
If the west understood the meaning of the Muslim terrorism against Israel and of contemporary Muslim anti-Semitism, it would be far better prepared to fight the sort of terrorism that struck London last week.... The Muslim world is obsessed with the Jews and with annihilating the one Jewish state, an obsession analogous to that of the Nazis.
It is essential for Jews and Christians, at the very least, to understand the true motives of the Islamic terrorists and the governments that support them. The ancient Roman empire was itself crippled by appeasement in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries as its decadent society was unable to stand up to the Germanic barbarians. A lack of clear Biblical thinking in America and Europe is pushing the West in a similar direction. Dissension from within and enemies from without are a deadly combination.

The Old Testament depicts appeasement in ancient Israel. The prophet Jeremiah witnessed the disintegration of Judah in the 6th century B.C. as its people turned from God and its leaders ignored the (prophesied) threat of the Babylonians. Referring to the religious and political leaders of Judah, God spoke to Jeremiah in Jeremiah Chapter 6:
14 "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace.
15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them."

The Truth is Not Popular


A new editorial in Christianity Today entitled "We're Prime Time, Baby" (July 2005) touts the growing acceptance of evangelicals by the American mainstream media. As if the self-congratulatory tone of the piece isn't enough, its words reveal a real keenness for worldly approbation.

We've been mainstreamed....We really can't play the persecution card anymore. As "players," we will be criticized sharply still, but that's just part of life in America.
The unctuous use of the word "players" — in or out of quotes — reeks of entitlement, implying that Christians have grown up enough to sit at the big table with the adults. The editorial suggests that Christians are now ready to transition from their ugly duckling stage (i.e. too much negativity), as if they were preparing to go to one of those coming-out balls from a Jane Austen novel. As such, Christians must play some kind of game (cultural/social) in order for the Gospel to have maximum impact. This line of thinking is less concerned about Biblical truth and more concerned about the appearances of truth as standardized by worldly men and women. It is fertile soil for ecumenical, interfaith nonsense.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John Chapter 2:
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
The gist of the editorial is also a not-so-subtle dig at Christians who can't or won't be "players," that is, the ones still stuck playing the "persecution card" and who apparently didn't get the purpose-driven memo. While a persecution complex can indeed be self-fulfilling prophecy, the inference here is that persecution for Christians is more perception than reality. Yet in many of the less developed nations around the world, Christians are violently persecuted. This simplified and provincial assessment of Christianity's advances doesn't give the whole picture.

The Christianity Today piece concludes with words reminiscent of a political rally:
Let's remember that how we got here is how we will stay here: Careful scholarship. Measured proclamations. Majoring on the majors. Grassroots organizing. Patience. Prayer.
There is a certain plain honesty to CT's editorial — they are promoting not so much Christianity but rather a movement. Evangelicalism is a movement in the same way as feminism, socialism, and other -isms. Movements are man's province. God needs no movements, for His Word still has the power to change people's hearts. For the Gospel to be popular, it must cease to be the Truth. We naturally desire reassurance of our own goodness, but the Gospel does the opposite.

Popularity is an idol of the human heart. The pressure on Christians today to conform to the world is very strong — so strong that it is an incipient form of persecution. And that pressure to conform may just come most strenuously from those who call themselves Christians.

Jesus said of the last days in Matthew Chapter 10:
21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.