Friday, August 29, 2003

Towards a Good Muslim Europe?-This is a interesting Michael Vlahos Tech Central piece thinking about the growing Islamization of Europe. He spends time talking about the tolerance and multi-religious nature of the old Ottoman Empire, which included Greece and Serbia. However, if there is to be any syncratic movement like the early Ottoman era, it will most likely come from Islam. Firstly, there isn't much Christianity left in Europe. The vast majority of Europeans are nominally Christian, showing up in church for baptisms, weddings and funerals, or as the wag sayeth, hatching, matching and dispatching. Those who are active believers aren't going to be interest in squaring the circle from a religion that has Jesus as God incarnate, Lord and Savior to one where He is merely a prophet. Where the mergers will happen is in the successful communities. If Europe goes fairly well over the next few decades, the children of Islamic immigrants will have worked their way into the French and Germany economies and cultures. This will take some of the edge off of the militancy of Islam and will start to become housebroken. A more mainline Islam may wind up being preached, one that focuses more on the inner jihad of a faith walk. In that Good Muslim Europe scenario, one can see nominal Christian native Europeans marrying Muslim beaus and getting some nominal converts to Islam, much like a nominal Christian gal might lean over to Judaism when married to a Jewish guy. Also, as the native Christian churches continue their drying-up process, families who want their kids to have a moral education might not mind if their son goes to the mosque with his nice young friend Ahmed, if there isn't much of a Christian alternative left. This is one reason why places like France and Germany need to be mission fields for evangelicals. If the home-grown Catholic and Lutheran churches aren't up to the task (like the inability to get rid of an atheist priest in Denmark), we'll need to bring in some help. In the Good Muslim Europe scenario, you might see the Islamic equivilent of Reform and Conservative Judaism, where the theology is muted (bordering on non-existent in Reform) and synagogue life is Americanized. Such a mild-mannered Islam could become the majority religion if Christianity is a non-factor. Intermarriage will add to the numbers, as might converts from the Christian left. Once you take Jesus off the throne, demoting him to a secondary profit and adding the unitarian structure and grandeur of Islam will make sense to some. However, that's the Good Muslim Europe scenario. There's also the Bad Europe dystopic scenario. In the Bad Europe, the economy stagnates under over-regulation and over-taxation in a bloated EU. The Islamic immigrants are stuck in their blue-collar ghettos with a lot of unemployment and a lot of time to hang out in madrassas and mosques preaching the al Qaeda-style jihad. Native kids, equally unemployed and with too much time on their hands, will lean more towards nativist skin-head type rhetoric, while the negative feedback from the native hard-cases will drive the Muslims towards a more militant Islam. The result may well be a Lebanon-style civil war. Neither scenario is appealing. Even the Good Europe scenario sees Christianity withering on the vine, becoming a minority religion on its own home turf. To avoid the humanitarian dystopia, we need to see a economically-successful Europe. To avoid the spiritual dystopia of a Muslim Europe, we need to revitalize the European Church. The next Pope may well prove decisive in that fight. If they have a devout Southerner willing to go to the mat for a dying European church, the downward skid of the Catholic church might be slowed. However, more will be needed to avoid seeing Good Muslim Europe, including a lot of evangelism from the rest of the world. Europe sent out missionaries to evangelize the world in centuries past. Now the world has to return the favor.

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