Disturbing events in Pakistan make Islam an issue again.
There, a woman named Asia Bibi has been ruled not guilty of blasphemy against Islam. Yet the government is reportedly retaining her in Pakistan under pressure from those who want her condemned to death, and who took to the streets in violent protest.
The original conviction was finally set aside by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Asia Bibi is of Christian confession and the details of the case make disturbing reading – the links are below.
That a human being can still be expected to suffer the death penalty for blasphemy in the 21st century is fundamentally disturbing.
The Asia Bibi case reminds us that people on this planet adhere to fundamentally irreconcilable worldviews, and her case raises serious questions.
What is the role of religion in society ?
Does the Islamic religion confirm that role ?
The role of religion in society
For the Marxist, of course, religion is the delusional addiction which gets people through this terrible life in which the capitalist exploiter has the upper hand. Not an unfair comment from someone with a materialist world view looking at the conditions of the urban poor in mid 19th century industrialised society.
A perfectly legitimate point of view.
But most of us are not Marxists who adhere to a man centred materialist’s remake of the Christian paradigm.
Most of us regard religion as concerned with the unseen and mystical dimension of this world, providing an explanation for human existence. From that explanation derives a moral code to help adherents live civilised and sociable lives.
I suspect the vast majority would agree with that analysis, be they believers in the mystical/spiritual or not.
That is what religion should do. But we all know from history and from the world today, it doesn’t always work that way. Or perhaps I should say that human beings holding to a religion fail to live up to a moral code.
The ecclesiastical empire building of certain professing Christians down the ages proves the point. Today, however, I cannot think of any Christian church structure which would not utterly reject the barbaric practices and totalitarian mindset of past centuries.
Indeed, the essential teaching of the founder of Christianity and his 1st century apostles confirm that such historical aberrations are utterly repugnant.
Christ himself suffered on a cross and explicitly taught that the essence of religion is to love God and love your neighbour as yourself.
There is no violence or hate taught in the New Testament of the Bible. On the contrary, there are only injunctions to find grace and strength in God to live a godly life. And that godly life is defined variously as showing love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, loyalty, honesty, gentleness, self control.
Which brings us to the question of
The word Islam means submission. You can of course take that in various ways. After all, any religion or philosophy requires obedience to its tenets.
Many Muslims today manifestly do understand their religion as a code for civilised behaviour.
But the religion itself was not founded by a prophet like Jesus hanging on a cross to make his point. Centuries after Christ, the founder of the Muslim religion evidently regarded Christianity as inadequate when he brought another message to mankind. When talk did not produce converts, physical force was deemed justified.
Muslims know that there are three means sanctioned to gain conversions: Word; Wealth and War. Verbal persuasion; financial influence; physical force. All are seen as legitimate to gain the ultimate goal: world conversion – or should I say, submission.
Christianity seeks global influence and the God appointed method is preaching; anything else would be wholly inconsistent with the Founder’s example.
Christianity is, of course, the traditional belief of western society. Much of our sensibility as to what is, or is not, civilised stems from Christian doctrines ingrained in our culture over centuries. The landscape and culture of Europe and its former colonies across the globe are littered with the evidence of Christian teaching.
Christianity used to provide the moral culture, the ethical oil for our society. Jesus Christ was held up as the ultimate example of civilised behaviour.
The influence of Christianity counter-acted the soul-less and selfish instincts of unbridled capitalism, and the arrogance of social distinction. It reminded everyone, high or low, that the ultimate example was a penniless prophet who healed the sick, fed the poor, and died a tortuous death to show us the way to behave.
That essential example by the founder of Christianity informed all our politics, our laws, our institutions, our culture, our everyday social standards until it was systematically displaced by the materialist, Marxist and man centred mindset of political correctness.
The foundational Christian example of our entire western culture has been eradicated, and replaced by a self centred and essentially soul-less construct based on class hatred and envy.
Take a look at the crime, the drug addiction and trading, the violence, the hopelessness, the example of strife and contention in our media and our politics to see the fatal consequences of this new religion called Materialism.
In politics it is promoted by the adherents and evangelists of Marxist thinking; and in economy by the apostles of pecuniary Profit – the Crony Corporate Capitalists – complicit with the Marxist Saviour State in telling us what to believe and how to live.
Personally, I find neither example nor comfort in the recent news from Pakistan, nor in the prevalent mindset inculcated by the Socialist/ Crony Capitalist alliance of Authoritarian Corporate interests.
What I see at work is an unhealthy and worrying twist on religion and a wholly inappropriate materialistic focus for spirituality whose answer – I submit- lies in Christianity.
Copyright © Ray Catlin All rights reserved