Thursday, 8 January 2015

The day after the terror before...

Today the globe has been a mad village. With #killallmuslims trending on Twitter (both in favour of and against the hashtag, to be fair), everyone seems to be jumping onto the #jesuischarlie bandwagon in support of the murdered cartoonists, and simultaneously following the standard line that the few violent extremists are utterly unrepresentative of Islam as a whole.  

Here are a few thoughts:

Yesterday's killings were an outrage, a wicked, murderous evil which had no justification whatsoever. My thoughts and prayers throughout the day have been with the family and friends of those killed yesterday, with the injured, and with France as a nation. 

I believe in freedom of speech. I don't want to see magazines like Charlie Hebdo closed down by law or by the pressure of public opinion. 

I don't like some of the content of magazines like Charlie Hebdo. Satire is an important means of critique in our society, but offence for offence' sake (which I think is what some of their output actually was) is not desirable and is not the same as satire. I do not like gratuitous offensiveness towards Muslims any more than I like such offensiveness towards Christians; nevertheless, I defend the right to publish. 

I believe that Islam is a false religion, that Mohammed was a false prophet and that Allah is a false god. I worship the God of the Old and New Testaments, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, giver of the Holy Spirit. The distinction between our faiths is stark; to say they are both the same is ludicrous and disrespectful to both.  The distinction is too important for me to enjoy satirical, scurrilous or scatological cartoons at the Prophet's expense - I think it is more respectful to simply disagree and then be open to debate and discussion when we have the chance. 

I recognise that the vast majority of Muslims deplore what took place in Paris yesterday, and that there is no warrant whatsoever for a general backlash against people of that faith. Nevertheless, I believe that Islam does demonstrably hold within it an emphasis on revenge and on this-worldly punishments to fall on those who insult Allah or his Prophet. It is in marked distinction from Christianity, for which being mocked and insulted is to be a fundamental part of following our mocked and insulted  Saviour. For more on this, see John Piper's excellent article from 2006

I believe that the particular cul-de-sac that the West has driven itself into with its pluralism and multi-culturalism is utterly unsustainable and will, tragically, produce many more outrages of this type. We are in a process of painful change, and where that process will end, culturally and politically, is anybody's guess. Certainly the absolute inability of western governments to be able to comprehend revealed religion of any type does not bode well.  Things are going to be tough - for people of any serious faith, and Christians may well find themselves hurting alongside Moslems in the future.  

I believe that the fatal flaw in Islam (as in other world religions, and in much folk Christianity) is the inability to understand let alone preach grace. Religion always says, "Do!" In Jesus Christ God says, "Done!"  The Prophet never died for his people's sins - but that is what we all need. The finished work of Jesus is the basis for assurance (not vague, trembling hope) of heaven, it is the basis for a transformed life of love, it is the basis for being able to handle mockery, persecution, violence and death and still pray for those who are hurting you. I suspect that we may be heading into just such a time of fear and terror; may God give his people grace to live out the grace in difficult times. 


  1. Very good indeed - thank you. I have shared via Facebook.

    1. Thank you, David! Though I don't think we have met, I know who you are via in-laws. Every blessing!