A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Majority and Minority Religions

I read an interesting comment the other night in a book by Dean Merrill, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church. Merrill refers to a comment by a Muslim acquaintance of Philip Yancey, "In the Qur'an, I can find nothing to teach us how to be a minority religion, while in the New Testament I can find nothing to teach Christians how to be the majority religion."

I think this is quite a profound comment as it relates to the current geo-political situation, and may explain alot in reference to the violent protests going on many parts of the world orchestrated by Muslims deeply offended by recently published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed. It may also explain some of the recent "church/state" matters that we have encountered in the United States.

I know very little of the Qur'an, but Yancey's friend is surely correct to say that there is nothing in the New Testament that teaches Christians how to be the majority religion. How should a majority religion behave in a society and how should a minority religion behave? Is it even possible to address this issue in a general way? Are the essential doctrines and core values of Christianity and Islam so different that we can only address these matters within the constraints of each religion?

Weigh in with your thoughts. I will respond with some of my own reflections.


Brennan said...

All I can say about this issue, is that Christianity is, in my mind, a religion that belongs in the grassroots. It's not like thousands of people worshipping the Egyptian Gods or Zeus. What people see as the face of Christianity (what is more and more becoming a dominant political view, which I am critical of.) is different than the Christianity that most good, honest, loving Christians practice. There's something to be said for people who are the quiet believers.

And as far as I'm concerned, if 38% of all Americans are Christians, and they live their Christian values, then that's really a more positive picture than I could have ever asked for.

As for Islam, their worldview is different, but what is wrong with that? That the Qur'an suggests to them to be the majority religion, that isn't a bad thing, in and of itself. Both religions have virtue systems that when followed properly, are highly commendable, and certainly lead us to walk closer to God. The fact that many fall from the way is a result of many things, but more importantly, if there is at least one good man or woman, there is still more good than evil, no? It's not about the culture of the religion, it's what the religion, at its heart, does to bring us closer to God. And both Christianity and Islam are God-centered, albiet in their distinct ways which deserve critical thinking.

Allan R. Bevere said...


I understand your point; and there is something to be said for Christians quietly going about their lives in faithfulness. It is reminiscent of 1 Kings 19 where the Prophet Elijah has fled to Mount Horeb in fear for his life from Queen Jezebel. He explicitly states to God that he is the only one of the faithful left. God quickly corrects him, "I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all who have not bent the knee to Baal, all whose lips have not kissed him" (verse 18). God is reminding Elijah that there are many faithful, who although quiet, are faithful. So I appreciate your point.

The problem is that Christians must be involved in the world, so it will not do to relegate the faith to some quest for a private spirituality that has nothing to do with societies and nation. Christians must be involved. The question is how are Christians to be involved either as the majority or a minority faith. In the history of the church this question has never been answered easily.