Mohler: Islam, Christian worldviews differ
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--America is not at war with Islam, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said on CNN April 7, but Americans are uneasy with having Muslim countries as allies because Muslims and Westerners hold radically different definitions of a good society.
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., appeared with host Roland Martin in a new CNN segment called "Test of Faith" along with Muslim reformer Irshad Manji and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
The three panelists commented on President Barack Obama's visit to Turkey -- a nation that is 99 percent Muslim -- and his speech to the Turkish Parliament on Monday during which Obama said America is not at war with Islam and that the U.S. includes and welcomes people of all faiths.
Mohler agreed, but pointed out that Islam represents a vastly different worldview than the Judeo-Christian ethic that traditionally has undergirded values in the West.
"I think President Obama rightly said that the United States is not at war with Islam -- I think that is a very helpful clarification," Mohler said.
"But you can't take Islam out of the whole civilizational struggle we are in, not only in the war on terror, but frankly, going back for centuries, coming up with a definition of what a good civilization would look like and how a society ought to be arranged.
"There are significant differences between the classical Muslim answer to that question and the Western answer to that question. I think part of this is based in trying to figure out exactly what we are up against in this modern day and, in terms of our current situation, Islam is playing a big part."
Mohler's appearance on the program was brief, but in his weblog Wednesday, April 8, he expanded on his thoughts regarding President Obama's comments on Islam and its growing prominence in the United States.
"Islam is, in effect, the single most vital competitor to Western ideals of civilization on the world scene," Mohler writes. "The logic of Islam is to bring every square inch of this planet under submission to the rule of the Qur'an [Koran]. Classical Islam divides the world into the 'World of Islam' and the 'World of War.' In this latter world the struggle to bring the society under submission to the Qur'an is still ongoing.
"President Obama also created his own confusion over these issues, subverting his own main point. If America is not at war with Islam, it would seem unhelpful for the Obama administration to now refer, against previous American practice, to Iran as 'The Islamic Republic of Iran.' Similarly, some of his words and gestures during his trip seemed overly indulgent toward Islam -- especially as these words and gestures would have been interpreted in the larger Islamic world.
"This ambition drives the Muslim world -- and each faithful Muslim -- to hope, pray, and work for the submission of the whole world to the Qur'an. Clearly, most Muslims are not willing to employ terrorism in order to achieve this goal. Nevertheless, it remains the goal.
"Islam and the West offer two very different and fundamentally irreconcilable visions of society. While we are certainly not a nation at war with Islam, we are a nation that faces a huge challenge from the Islamic world -- a challenge that includes terrorism, but also a much larger civilizational ambition that remains central. Anyone standing in Istanbul, the historic seat of Ottoman power, should certainly recognize that fact."
Mohler said his chief concern with Islam is its eternal ramifications; it fails to address the deepest need of the human heart.
"As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and a minister of the Gospel, my primary concern about Islam is not civilizational or geopolitical, but theological," Mohler writes. "I believe that Jesus Christ is indeed, 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life,' and that no one comes to the Father but by Him [John 14:6]. Salvation is found only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of Christ is the only message that saves."
To read the entire post, go to http://albertmohler.com/blog_print.php?id=3579.
Mohler made another appearance in the national media in early April in the latest edition of Newsweek magazine, where he is quoted extensively in its cover story "The Decline and Fall of Christian America."
Written by Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, the story interacts with a recent survey that shows the percentage of self-identified Christians in America has fallen 10 points since 1990. The Newsweek article can be read at www.newsweek.com/id/192583/page/2; Mohler's weblog entry on the article can be read at www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=3563.
Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.