As Congress is considering the extent of Islamic extremism in America, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic wonder whether the liberal Protestant theology of the last two centuries must share some blame for the violence committed by Muslim radicals.
According to Thomas Schirrmacher, a German sociologist of religion, this debate is based on the following conjecture: Until the 18th century, few Muslim theologians questioned the authenticity of Christian Scriptures, given that the Koran acknowledges the Old and New Testaments as “divine books descended from the heavens to guide mankind.” But since the Enlightenment period, Protestant scholars began casting doubt on the Bible’s reliability thus ceasing to accept it as the living word of God.
This in turn led prominent Islamic leaders to conclude that these texts were clearly not entirely true and therefore evidence of a false religion, and that false religion must be destroyed. In some theological circles, this is seen as a major cause of Muslim hostility against the Christian faith, an antagonism that has been increasing in virulence in the last decades.
Schirrmacher allows that this summary of the present quandary between these two monotheistic religions seems somewhat simplistic. Moreover, it risks leading to the false assumption that the entire Islamic community is seeking the destruction of Christianity, warned Rev. Albrecht Immanuel Herzog, a confessional Lutheran theologian in Neuendettelsau, Bavaria. “Nonetheless, it is undeniable that two centuries ago, liberal Christian theologians have handed Muslim apologists a powerful argument in their fight against missionaries in 19th-century British India,” argues Christine Schirrmacher, director of the Islam Institute of the Evangelical Alliance in Bonn, and Thomas Schirrmacher’s wife.
The argument can be made that this laid the foundations of today’s assessment by Muslim radicals that Christianity must be squashed forcefully, and that it also contributed to the conviction of more moderate Islamic theorists that Christianity is so weak that it only requires a little patience to anticipate its implosion and replacement by Islam and the rule of Sharia law in Europe.
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