Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christian Jihad

Jihad- For the Western world the word evokes images of mass slaughter, forced religious conversions, and crimes against humanity. But what most Christians forget is that jihad (holy war) also plays a major role in Christianity's own dark history. In this explosive and controversial book, the brothers Ergun and Emir Caner -two former Muslims, now staunch evangelical professors-shine the light of truth on Christians killing in the name of their God. These award-winning authors examine the impact of Christian atrocities on modern personal, cultural, and even international relations, question popular views of just war, and challenge each of us to face our past and redeem our future.

Ergun and Emir Caner have lectured on apologetics, world religions, and theology across the world and have been interviewed on NPR, CNN, The 700 Club, and the BBC, among many others.

A review of their book, Christian Jihad: Two Former Muslims Look at the Crusades and Killing in the Name of Christ, can be found here
I am reading it now and finding it to be very well written and thought provoking.

Here is the review I wrote for Amazon:

I am nearly finished with this book and have found it very enlightening and thought provoking. In other reviews here I have read that there is no such thing as a Christian Jihad. Although that may be technically true with regards to semantics- I would challenge the idea that there is no such thing as a Christain Jihad in spiritual or ideological terms, as an American Indian and Christian who is well versed in history, politics and foreign policy. Christianity itself may not be completely responsible for the acts of Western Statist powers, but often we Christians have both enabled and condoned atrocities and war crimes in the name of patriotism. The dropping of atomic bombs on civilian populations in Japan and the holocaust of the First Nations of the Americas are two quick examples. With regards to the Mid-East we have signed off on policies that have both created and enabled the growth of terrorism for the last several decades. These would include the arming and enabling of Saddam, the brutal reign of the Shah in Iran and the eventual reaction to it, the arming and training of the Mujahideen which became al Quaeda, the enabling of the Taliban, the Iran-Contra scheme and so-on. The West has actively sought for the last 40 years to squelch secular nationalist governments throughout the Mid-East and thus allowed a space for radical Islam to grow in. Again, these things may not be the responsibilities of Christaianity per se...but inasmuch as the U.S. and many of her allies are considered "Christian Nations" with high concentrations of "Christians" in the populace as well as the leadership- the message of the Caner brothers is right on point and very important- if we wish to see a more peaceful and Christ-like world.

As Christians, we are supposed to be outside of and above the worldly mechanisms that help perpetuate the self sustaining cycle of violence, death and revenge. That is what is supposed to be different about us. Our signature message is supposed to be about universal salvation- not about empire building and ridding the world of evil-doers. The Caner brothers offer a fresh and poignant perspective on this.


Scott Starr said...

I have noted that the jacket of this book has an endorsement from none other than Ann Coulter. This is actually based upon her endorsement of the other book the Caner brother's wrote entitled "Unveiling Islam: an Insider's Look At Muslim Life and Belief."

I find this to be very interesting and ironic. It seems Ann coulter, and I suspect many other "Christian" political types, jumped on the bandwagon because the book verifies many of the current fears concerning Islam. It talks about how the radicals belief in Jihad, violence and so forth has produced such horrific results. What strikes me as funny is that in this second book the Caner brothers reveal themselves as pacifists which would put them squarely at odds with the ideology of Ms. Coulter- some of whose quotes below will explain my vexation:

* Ann Coulter stated in her December 21 column that "I think the government
should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo." (this is about as un-Christian as it gets- but wait there's more)

* Commenting on radio host Melanie Morgan’s assertion that if New York Times executive editor Bill Keller were convicted of treason she “would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber,” Coulter said, “I prefer a firing squad, but I’m open to a debate on the method of execution.” She later suggested that Times staff members should be “executed.”

(Suspicion must always fall on those who attempt to silence their opponents.
~Ian Buckley)

* Coulter said of the media: “Would that it were so! … That the American military were targeting journalists.”

* Coulter suggested that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) is “the reason soldiers invented fragging,” — military slang meaning the intentional killing of a member of one’s own unit.

* Coulter argued that the national debate during the Monica Lewinsky controversy should not have focused on whether former President Bill Clinton “did it,” but rather “whether to impeach or assassinate” him.

* Coulter said of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: “We need somebody to put rat poison in Justice Stevens’s créme brulée.'’

* Fox News host Sean Hannity* asked right-wing pundit Ann Coulter how she would propose to end Iran's nuclear activities if she "were president." Coulter replied: "How about we just ... carpet-bomb them so they can't build a transistor radio?" As Media Matters for America recently noted, Fox News host Neil Cavuto similarly wondered how a "President Ann Coulter" would view certain diplomatic overtures toward Israel from Hezbollah's leadership. Coulter noted that her "first act in office ... would be to deport all liberals" and then "deal with Israel."

* Hannity's response to this was jocular.

Chapter 1 of Christian Jihad contrasts Ms. Coulter's approach sharply. The 1st chapter is entitled "We Shed No Blood But Our Own". In it the Caners quote many of the early church fathers and theologians and assert that the only legitimate weapon a Christian disciple may wield is prayer.
They back this up not only with Biblical text- but also the sound reasoning of many early church fathers.
The Caner brothers explain in the book how it was that the pacifistic nature of Christianity is what attracted them and brought about their conversion. This story calls into serious question the attitude among MANY Christian Americans that there is simply no negotiation, no way of reaching Muslims. This contradicts the belief that Muslims are beyond reason, that they are irredeemable and the only thing that they respect and respond to is force and strength and dominance. This story calls into serious question the West's entire approach to the problem of radical Islamic fundamentalism and terror tactics. This story likewise calls into serious question the foreign policy approach that our government stands by even as we speak.

I recommend this book highly.

I must mention that someone with whom I have regular debates about Christianity and violence and warfare was recently promoting this book to me because they had seen a show about the Caner brothers and had latched on to the negative things the Caners had to say about Islam. He was apparently quite unaware that In Christian Jihad- the Caner brothers next take on Christian fundamentalism and its ties to violent expression. When I told him about the concept they had offered that stated the only legitimate weapon for a Christian was prayer his eyeballs nearly did a 360 in their sockets. Forgive me for finding this somewhat amusing.

At any rate this is an excellent read.

Scott Starr said...

Also, it is worth noting that by the end of the book the Caner brothers express support for both the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. I wonder if they feel the same way about it a few years and a river of blood later.