|Islamic protesters in Pakistan, condemn 'Pop' [sic] Benedict XVI|
Those who live in fear, hate; those who hate, are lost.
"Whoever claims to love God, yet hates his brother, is a liar" (1 Jn 4:20)
(source: Islamization Watch; original credit unknown)
Although aggressive secularism and moral relativism ultimately fail, they do pose challenges to all religions and to faith in God, or to those things outside the material world. Catholicism is well acquainted with the philosophies behind these socio-political movements – in fact, it is only through the teachings and culture of the Church, which is supremely rational, that free-thinking became so highly valued. Christians tend to be comfortable with criticism and debate. We believe that those who genuinely seek the truth will ultimately find it in God, revealed to us as pure love in Jesus Christ. Although some of us fear secularism and atheism, most of us don’t – and it is good that we don’t. We are the children of the Most High, we are in the world, but not of it, we know that all power, glory, honour and victory belong to our God and to the Lamb (cf Rev 4:11; 5:13).
Here in London, it has become apparent to me that British Muslims fall into three distinct camps: the wacky fundamentalists (a small minority, often consisting of angry young men), the moderates (often businessmen, older people, or those who have to be realistic about the world to survive in it, yet hold onto their religious traditions), and the ‘bipolar’ (those who dress like pious Muslims on the outside, but who are very secular on the inside). I’d say that the last group is now the majority – people who are definitely culturally Muslim, but who, when challenged, are probably very materialistic or morally liberal. Some probably don’t even believe in God, or the teachings of 'the Prophet'. So, bar the lunatic-fringe, it appears that – and this is common in all Western societies – the Muslim religion is losing out to secularism; it isn’t answering the concerns of its youth.
In a generation or so, many traditionally Islamic countries will probably be ‘Western’, in the sense that they will have bought into the attractive modern American culture (or dream) – which bases itself mainly on the evils of exclusive materialism and turbo-capitalism – that has conquered or is conquering Europe, China and the Far East, and Latin America. Islam is failing to offer any real alternative to this culture of banality; a banality that speaks to the greedy and lustful beast in us all.
Faith in Jesus Christ is filling the spiritual vacuum left by the collapse of Islam. Millions of Muslims, Arabs and others, are secretly converting to Christianity (see here for some references) – with many, as we know, facing death or imprisonment for their ‘apostasy’. Able at last to question the origins of their religion, or challenge the myths surrounding Muhammad, or search for real spiritual food, as opposed to the often highly politicised and legalistic religion of ‘the Prophet’, countless numbers are embracing Christ – the one who saves us and loves us. (From my understanding of the Muslim religion, Islam doesn’t really offer any form of redemption from sin, and in fact teaches that Adam was immediately forgiven for the sin that led to the Fall – those conscious of their human weaknesses along with their need to be justified before God, then, will not find many answers in Islam.)
As for preaching or presenting Christ to newcomers; I think Julian of Norwich's four word sermon on Our Lord is all we need: "Love was his meaning!"