In the March edition of Evangelicals Now is an interesting article by Barry Seagren. He asks the question as to whether there is any difference between Evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Muslims.
Both believe that they have the absolute truth - not a relative truth in the post-modern sense of 'if it works for you, fine'.
Both believe that that truth derives from an ancient text
Both place their loyalty to God above national laws.
Both believe that a lived-out faith affects every aspect of their lives, including politics.
Both believe there is a sharp dividing line between believers and unbelievers.
Both are against nominal religion.
Both seek to convince non-believers of the truth of their belief.
So what difference is there? Why should evangelical Christians object to being lumped together with fundamentalist Muslims as one of the dangers of the age?
There are three major differences, says Seagren.
1] The most blatant difference is the Islamic willingness to use force. Muslims certainly dispute whether Islam truly teaches this, but the jihadist support their case with quotations from the Qur'an, and Mohammed himself could hardly be said to have been a man of peace.
Jesus, on the other hand, was archetypically the man of peace and although some of his later followers have besmirched his cause with violence (the crusaders, the Inquisition, abortion home bombers) St Paul preached sacrificial love rather than violence and fundamentalist Christians follow this teaching.
2] The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The liberal humanist New York Times - no lover of evangelical Christianity - wrote in August last year, "For more than a millennium, the West took inspiration from the Christian image of a triune God ruling over a created cosmos and guiding men by means of revelation, inner conviction and the natural order. It was a magnificent picture that allowed a magnificent and powerful civilization to flower".
Today millions of Muslims are fleeing Muslim countries to migrate to the West. They are voting with their feet. By their fruits you shall know them.
3] Whereas Christians claim a relationship with a person, Muslims seem to relate to a religion. Ed Hussain, the fundamentalist Muslim who reneged on his commitment to radical Islam (as detailed in his book The Islamist) describes what led him out. "Despite huge political success I despised myself for appearing pious and upright in Muslim eyes when all the time I knew there was a vacuum in my soul where God should be". In describing his converts he writes, "We drew them to Islam as a force, a power. Today, I doubt very much of they were humble hearts who turned to God."
There is a difference, but those words of Ed Hussain are a warning to Christians.