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Friday, May 31, 2013

WHEN SOUTHERN BAPTISTS MAINSTREAM ISLAM

Southern Baptist operative Ed Stetzer is a leader.

 We know this because he tells us so.
 In a USA Today piece from April 26, Stetzer, president of research at LifeWay, advances his agenda of mainstreaming Islam within the evangelical world. It is an agenda item that his friends like Rick Warren and Bob Roberts Jr. have been engaged with for some time.
 When self-identified leaders within evangelicalism are afforded spots on the biggest platforms, it appears they are speaking for the rest of us.
 Which is ironic, because that’s what Stetzer’s USA Today PR piece for Islam seems to warn against: understanding others through the lens of what a few say.
 Ed Stetzer doesn’t speak for me, and many, many other Christians. In fact, I want to be clear about my view of his view of Islam: he’s wrong.
 (By the way, as an interesting aside, readers should know that Brian McLaren links to Stetzer’s column on his own blog, thus giving McLaren legitimacy also in SBC circles—warmly, as McLaren himself might put it. Note to Stetzer: if Brian McLaren endorses you, it might be time to re-think those positions that garnered the endorsement.)
 In his attempt to appear as a tolerant, reasonable person, Stetzer makes the following point at USA Today:
 “For many Americans, their knowledge of Muslims is what they see on television news rather than what they know from experience. Yet, forming your view of any group based solely on what you see on the news is a bad idea.”
I disagree. “Many Americans,” as is painfully obvious, have accumulated their knowledge of Muslims from violent acts committed by Muslims since at least 9/11 (Steve Emerson has been reporting on the jihadist agenda much longer than that—www.investigativeproject.org).
In fact, we “know from experience” that Islam sanctions murder and mayhem in order to establish a new caliphate.
 Stetzer wishes to convince his readers that only a tiny, almost infinitesimal group of Muslims are committed to jihad. I would point out that people who study this full-time, such as Frank Gaffney and Steve Emerson, would say that no one really knows how many Muslims are committed to jihad, but a leading indicator that the rest of us are in deep trouble is borne out by the fact that almost all Muslims are silent on the issue.
 If most of them weren’t extreme in their views, wouldn’t we hear that on a large scale?
 And why are evangelical leaders falling all over themselves to mainstream Islam? 
 I frankly think Ed Stetzer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. As Daniel Pipes put it recently in a column with the Middle East Forum:
 “The establishment denies that Islamism—a form of Islam that seeks to make Muslims dominant through an extreme, totalistic, and rigid application of Islamic law, the Shari'a—represents the leading global cause of terrorism when it so clearly does.”
 Here Pipes is discussing the wider establishment, specifically our nation’s leaders, but the point exactly fits certain current strains within American Christianity. In the case of the evangelical establishment, it is clear that a whitewashing of violent Islam—jihad—is the order of the day.
 Make no mistake, we are all reluctant volunteers in the War on Terror, which, to be precise, is the War on Islamic Terror. Sadly, perhaps tragically, there are those among evangelical leadership who seem to be lost in the fog of this war.
 Just after 9/11, I read an essay by a Middle East expert on Islam. The writer said that due to perceived Western weakness manifesting itself just after the turn of the century, Islam was now “standing up.”
 That is a chilling mental picture. 
 It also forces one to wonder why key evangelical “leaders” are taking that lying down.