Christianity and Islam: Cooperation or Conflict? | William Kilpatrick | Catholic World Report
A review of Robert Spencer's Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam.
Robert Spencer has written a dozen books on Islam, as well as thousands of pages of commentary on Islamic law, scripture, and tradition, but this may be his most significant book yet because of its potential to alert Christians to a dangerous gap in their knowledge of Islam. Christian leaders are badly in need of a wake-up call about Islam and this is a wake-up call that is hard to ignore. Not Peace but a Sword asks questions about the relationship between Christianity and Islam that few others are asking, even though they are questions that beg for answers.
Coexistence or Chasm?
The main question is whether the differences between Christianity and Islam can be worked out or whether there is an unbridgeable chasm between the two faiths. Spencer is not saying that individual Muslims must necessarily be at odds with individual Christians but he is asking whether Islam’s doctrinal hostility toward Christianity can be overcome, or whether it is of the essence of Islam.
This hostility toward non-Muslims is abundantly evident in almost every country where Muslims are in the majority and even in many places where they are a sizeable minority. A few weeks ago in Pakistan, a Muslim mob attacked a Christian neighborhood burning down 180 homes and damaging two churches. In Egypt, Christian girls are routinely kidnapped and forced to marry Muslim men. In Nigeria, Christians are burned alive in their churches. Brutal attacks on Christians are a daily occurrence in the Muslim world, and in many instances, the hostility is fueled by Muslim clerics.
The hostility is much less in evidence in the world of Western academics and in the conference rooms where Muslims and Christians gather for dialogue. In these settings, Christian professors and prelates get along fine with their well-educated and friendly Muslim colleagues and dialogue partners, all of whom seem committed to the proposition that the values Christians and Muslims share in common are much more important than the differences that separate them. Many Christians in the West take it for granted that Muslims share the same values they do, but, as Spencer ably demonstrates, this assumption seems to be based largely on wishful thinking rather than on knowledge of Islamic doctrine and practice.
Spencer is not opposed to dialogue per se, but he suggests that Christians need to be more clear-eyed about it.