Thursday, January 21, 2010

Conflicting loyalties

From today's Telegraph:

The National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) claimed that ministers were wrong to blame Islam for being the “driver” behind recent terrorist attacks.

"Far-Right extremists are a more dangerous threat to national security," it said.

Funny, I missed that bit about the British National Party flying jets into tall buildings in New York and blowing up trains on the London Underground.

I suppose the guy who blew up that building in Oklahoma could be described as far-right and I seem to remember a nail bomber in London who had a down on homosexuals; but then Muslims are not noted for their tolerance of homosexuality.

We all tend to have a blind spot when it comes to crimes committed by our 'own'.

Arsene Wenger, the manager of Arsenal football club, is notorious for criticizing opposition players who commit fouls against his players, but when asked about fouls committed by his players the answer is always that he was unsighted for that particular incident.

I suppose that loyalty to a group is a commendable quality, but we all have conflicting loyalties. How often does a wife or mother protect her spouse or child from a police investigation. I saw yesterday in the newspaper a story of how a father turned in his sixteen-year-old son to the police because his clothes and demeanor suggested that he was the drunken rapist that they were looking for. The boy confessed when questioned. The maternal bond is so great that it is much harder for a mother to do this.

One of the issues that inflames Christians about Muslims is the reluctance of the latter to condemn the terrorist outrages committed by the followers of Bin Laden. Yes, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Muslims, (usually caused by other Muslims) but that does not justify mayhem on the streets of Western capitals. Yes, abortion is a terrible thing, but it does not justify the murder of doctors who perform them. Often murderers of abortionists proclaim themselves as evangelical Christians, but I have no difficulty in calling them wicked betrayers of their faith who deserve the highest penalties the Law affords. Why do so many Muslims hesitate to condemn the suicide bombers?

I have lots of friends and colleagues who are Muslims. I find that they are personally charming people who have adapted to the English culture and whose religious beliefs are a private matter. In them the epithet 'a religion of peace' holds true. On the other hand we see demonstrators on the streets of London like these and people wonder that Muslims receive special attention from the Authorities.

In France, they have banned the bhurka, but I find this unfortunate. Muslims should have the same freedoms as anyone else in the country. We do not propose to strip nuns of their habits. However, there are occasions when it is inappropriate to cover one's face - withdrawing money from a bank, consulting one's doctor, interviewing for a job - when it is entirely justifiable to demand for the face to be shown. (In fact, although France has more than 5 million Muslims – the highest number of any European country – a recent police report said only about 400 women in the country dress in Muslim veils.)

A Christian believes that there is only one way of satisfying the requirements of his creator God. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," said Jesus (John Ch 14 verse 6). Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts Ch 4 verse 12).

This all sounds terribly exclusive. Some people believe that Christ's death on the cross was sufficient to save everybody and therefore everybody will be saved from God's wrath; but the Bible contradicts this: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him. (John Ch 3 verse 36).

You might think, "OK, you believe that and it suits you. Fine. But it's not for me." However, if I see you in a dangerous position - say about to be mown down by a train or hit by a truck - you would think me a poor sort of friend if I didn't warn you. There is a compulsion on Christians to proselytise, not to accrue some sort of kudos, but out of concern and love for our friends. You may think that the train or the truck are just in my imagination. I am sorry if that is the case, but please humor me and listen.

I do not think that belief in God can be compelled by either argument or the sword, but God, the Holy Spirit has that ability and, indeed, that purpose; only He can convince. Christianity is a religion of revelation. No-one can find God unless God reveals himself and the witness of his followers is one of the ways he makes himself known. The Bible gives Christians that instruction - to be witnesses. The apostle, Paul, approved of the Roman law, not because he thought Caligula and Nero admirable, but because it gave free passage for the Gospel.

A book I once read described the basic virtue of civilization as good manners. There's something in that; without good manners, all other virtues are frustrated.

1 comment:

Keith said...

"As in Adam, all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive."

There are 2 deaths. The Spiritual death, which is separation from God, and Physical death, which is separation from the spirit or soul.

The Resurrection will apply to all mankind but the Atonement applies to those who believe. We believe, when we follow Him. It's all pretty simple, isn't it?

Dr Hamblin, I pray for God's choicest blessings upon you and your family for all you have done for me.