Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Appeal of Islam in a Poorly Catechized World

Are We Losing the Apologetics War with Islam? QUOTE:

Islamic cultures are honor cultures, and the religion of Islam might justly be described as an honor religion. Allah is in charge and he exercises complete control. He is superior to any other conception of God. “Allahu Akbar” means “God is greater” (or “greatest”). Translated into the language of youth it means, “My God can beat up your God.” This is the appeal of Islam to young men and it helps to explain why groups such as ISIS have no trouble finding recruits. Young men like to be on the winning side. They decidedly do not like being losers. Interestingly, the Koran describes those who end up in hell precisely as “losers” (10: 45, 16: 109, 29: 52).

What’s the opposite of honor? Shame. In an honor culture, shame is the worst fate—worse than death. In these cultures it is not uncommon for leaders or generals who have suffered a shameful defeat to resort to suicide.

With all that in mind, consider the two contrasting statements about God on the Canadian terrorist’s Facebook page. What’s wrong with the Christian’s God? He was shamed. He was beaten, mocked, and humiliated. Christians find comfort in God’s humanity. Through Christ, God became one of us, shared in our weakness, sorrows, and sufferings. But that’s not a selling point from the Islamic point of view. Someone who is mocked, spit upon, and crucified may be a god fit for a weak woman, but not for any self-respecting man. In contrast to the humiliated God-man of the Christians, Allah is “All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme.” Unlike the helpless victim in the Christian story, Allah is in complete control. Moreover, Allah does not let his prophets be shamed. According to the Koran (4:157) and other Islamic sources, the prophet Jesus did not suffer humiliation or crucifixion but was simply taken up to Heaven at the end of his mission.

So the overall appeal jihadists make to young men is: “Don’t be a loser. Get on the winning side. Our cause is invincible because our God is invincible.”

The appeal of Christianity is the exact opposite:

God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

Humanity threw everything they had at Jesus, even the power of the Emperor himself, through his agent Pilate.

And in spite of the worldly loss, he emerged victorious.

He didn't win with swords or  political power.

He won because human power is nothing beside divine power. You can humiliate God all you want, and God still wins.

Christian martyrs aren't the ones who die in the name of killing infidels. They're the ones who suffer and die in the name of love: who won't lift a hand against their persecutors and forgive them for their violence.

The thing is, though, is rarely do I encounter a Muslim who really understands basic Christian theology.

When I used to run a religious discussion message board, there was only one or two Muslims with whom one could have a sane discussion. Every other Muslim who came was there to argue and they couldn't be bothered with the facts. For instance, they were indoctrinated that Christianity was "Bible-only" and when I explained that the Catholic faith doesn't work that way, he persisted with the premise that Christianity was "Bible-only".  He couldn't adjust his message to take into account this new information. He was right in his eyes, and that's all that mattered.

I have encountered that same attitude time and again among Muslims: they argue even if they have obviously lost; their tactic is to shout even louder.

Perhaps that's one advantage of Western culture that is to our advantage: the ability to argue.

A religion that seeks to win by the sword isn't going to be too big on logic. It needs force and power to persuade and attract people. But force can't change the reality of facts. You can live in denial of the facts, but you can't change them, and you always end up having to confront them, and logic doesn't change just because you want it to. People can live with cognitive dissonance only for so long. The threat of force won't change that. That's among the many reasons why communism imploded. People couldn't put up with the farce any longer. The empty store shelves and the thirst for freedom made people understand what a lie communism is.

I would also add that the decline of masculinity in the West doesn't help the Christian cause. Christian virility must be accompanied by compassion and respect for others, but it has to be virile. We've demonized masculine strength as a threat, something to be  suppressed. It's not. It just needs to be properly channeled. Just like femininity.