Amish vs. Islam


Here’s a little Amish girl.

This is the sort of sweet child gunned down in a school house in Pennsylvania. This is the sort of little girl who tried to save the lives of her friends by saying to an insane, lust filled beast, “Shoot me first.”

There is more religious faith and courage in that little girl than in a million Islamic suicide bombers.

G.K.Chesterton said, “Every argument is a theological argument.” The scenes this week make his point. The events in Pennsylvania and Iraq reveal the clash of two religious cultures.

Contrast the Amish and Islamist. Both appear to be religious fanatics. Both societies are intentionally anti-modern. Both societies are culturally antique. The men with their beards, the women with their dark modest dress, the suspicion of the outside world, the suspicion of technology…they look pretty similar. And suddenly in Amish land just as in Islam land both societies are faced with wanton violence and unimaginable bloodshed. In both crazed gunmen execute innocent little girls.

The violence and insane killing does not surprise me. Murder is as ancient as Cain and Abel.

It is the different response that makes me gasp with sudden enlightenment. The different response among people in Lancaster County and people in Baghdad reveals the core difference between Islam and Christianity. In one culture they wail and beat their breasts and then plot how to murder their enemy. In the other they wail and beat their breasts, then load up their buggies to go and forgive their enemy.

At the heart of the Christian faith is forgiveness: the need for forgiveness, the way of forgiveness, and the power of forgiveness which is the cross of Christ. Is forgiveness a part of Islam? Have you ever heard any Muslim–radical, moderate or nominal–ever mention forgiveness at all? Even once? Have you ever got the idea that they even have it in their vocabulary? I haven’t.

I am no expert in Islam, but I do know that the cross of Christ is not at the center of Islam, and the demand to forgive and be forgiven (if it exists at all) is marginal. Instead the Muslim follows the only other form of ‘justice’ that humanity can conceive: retribution and revenge. In the face of violence, the downward spiral of retribution and revenge can only plunge everyone into more violence, bloodshed and grief.

Christianity stands that on its head. The Christian faith demands forgiveness–radical, crazy, totally total unconditional forgiveness.

As Christianity faces global Islam, the Amish are prophets for us all. With immense dignity and faith in action, their hearts full of confusion and fear and anger and grief, they step out to visit the family of the murderer to forgive.

In the war against Islam I stand with my own ancestors–the Mennonite and Amish of Pennsylvania. In the face of the murderous reign of Islam, I stand with them, and not with those who seek revenge, and who use torture to prevail.

As a Christian nation, do we follow the way of forgiveness or the way of revenge? The first way is Christian. The second is Islamic.

If America wants to prevail over the Islamic threat, the quiet, plain and peaceful people of Pennsylvania have shown us the way.

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  • Interesting but a little polemnical. Islam might not have forgiveness at the centre of its doctrine for it denies the Cross. But individual Muslims surely practise forgiveness and reconciliation, especially in their family lives. Murdered teenage unwilling brides are NOT the norm, for example, depite infammatory newpaper reports. How could Muslims NOT be moved to forgiveness and compassion? They are PEOPLE and so made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1: 26 – 27). And using “Islam” in a generalised way is about as useful as using the word “Christian”. For example both members of the funamentalistic Evangelical college of your youth and Cardinals at a conference would describe themselves as “Christian” despite the likely divergence of their views.

  • I wonder if what you say is true. Of course individual Muslims may find it in themselves as a natural virtue to be compassionate and perhaps even to forgive their enemies, but my theological point stands that Divine empowered forgiveness and the central demand for forgiveness is absent from Islam. As I understand it, in Islam the Almighty is an omnipotent law giver to be obeyed unconditionally. A forgiving and tender-hearted Father God is inconceivable (and perhaps even blasphemous) to them. Furthermore, in theological terms, it is possible to speak in generalities about two different faiths. Despite their differences, Bob Jones Jr and Cardinal Montini are both Christians and both believe forgiveness from God and toward others is at the core of their faith. Similarly, both moderate and radical Muslims do not have forgiveness at the core of their faith.

  • Anonymous

    Christianity: put up your sword”; Islam: taking up your sword.It is about the fundamental nature of belief.Like Athanasius’ “you tell an Arian by the way he treats the poor”.I have put a bit of this on my blog.

  • Well, said.”I don’t understand, but I trust.” I believe this is some of what is behind the Amish attitude.

  • Excellent points. What’s long sturck me about Islam is that–in and of itself, always making exceptions for certain individuals–it is so dreadfully pagan. I say that without denying that they worship the true God: it’s just that Islam is ultimately monotheistic paganism. The Amish on the other hand, for all thier seeming quirks for for all the real imperfection in their doctirne, bear a profound and holy witness to our Lord Jesus Christ.Thanks for the comments on my new blog, by the way. Unfortunately, when I switched to a Haloscan combox, they were lost, but I’ll definitely be linking to your page!

  • Thank you brother! Another connection was made today in conversation at school with my friend and colleague, Kenneth Covington. Have you noticed the similarities between Islam and extreme Calvinism? Both follow a God that is totally transcendent and beyond human knowing and who is totally sovereign. This God allows no secondary causes. Such doctrine reduces man to a beast who either obeys the tyrant law giver God or who does not and is destroyed.Because of this theology the true Muslim and the true Calvinist are heartless and cruel–like the God they worship. In practice, thank God there are exceptions to this in both Islam and Calvinism.

  • I wonder if this makes sense:A sense of justice may be at the core of yearnings for revenge. One is wronged and longs for justice. It is unfortunate that, in the lust for revenge, that sense of triumph and hate fulfilled, one loses one’s head. If they had a longer view of things, they might realize that the sweetest revenge is not in destroying your enemy by murdering him. It is far sweeter to destroy him by forgiving him, prompting him to contrition, and making him a friend who owes you.The last bit is somewhat cynical,but it almost sounds reasonable.

  • The Book of James tells us to love our enemy for in doing that we ‘heap coals of fire on his head.’If I love my enemy I emerge as the stronger, nobler, more mature and more fully human.

  • Son of Adam

    The greatest wars on the planet that took the highest human casualties were started and fought by Christian nations and financed by Jewish financiers such as House of Rothschild. Napoleonic Wars, The US Civil War, World Wars I and World II. Christians killing each other. Letus not forget Viet Nam and now the coalition of the not so now willing in Iraq.

  • Son of Adam

    Satan smiles as Christians, Jews, Muslims, Athiest, kill each other supporting their misguided political secular and corrupt religious leaders. Suicide bombers is a modern cultural deviation created by corrupt religous and political leaders. The Quran condemns suicide bombers to hell. Those who say otherwise are liars and working for Satan.

  • In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Full of MercyI testify that there is no deity worth of worship save Allah, and Muhammed is the Messenger and the Prophet of AllahTo proceed:Dear brother-in-humanity,I just would like to say that your article and the subsequent comments posted by you show a profound lack of understanding of my way of life, Islam. You may have heard a few bits here and there, perhaps read a primer written by non-Muslims or had an orientation course of some sorts. Perhaps even worse, from my point of view, is the possibility that you learnt about Islam from the media coverage – which, as any serious person would admit, at all times presents a biased view of the subject being covered.I would like to point out a couple of issues that pervaded both your post and comments that I feel are a serious misrepresentation of Islam. The first is the concept of revenge and retribution. The second is the issue of forgiveness. It is of course correct that, contrary to Christianity, Islam provides a clear, explicit permission to punish those guilty of crimes (such being defined by Islam). It is also correct that as part of this process of punishment, and in certain cases only (such as murder). the victim’s family may choose a payment of compensation in place of death penalty. However, the important point here is that the whole process can only take place as part of a state structure, not as a some sort of vigilante operation. And it is the state, as I have no doubt most would agree, that is the best arbiter of punishment and revenge in the temporal domain.In relation to the issue of forgiveness, you are completely wrong to assume that forgiveness is not present in Islam or that we do not see God as forgiving deity. The verses of the Word of God that allow death punishment also tell us that it is better to forgive, the verses that command repayment of debt also tell us that it is better to let go of the debt. One of the names of God is Oft-Forgiving. QED.I feel that your article shows that you have never in fact read the Quran or made an even half-honest attempt to look at Islam as a whole, instead of trying to pigeon hole it into “the OTHER religion” label. Christianity may be, at least today, a religion. Islam, when practiced, is not. It is indeed a way of life – a divine, in my opinion, system for ordering the affairs of men and women from A to Z in accordance with wishes of God.All that is wrong is from me, all that is right is from God.

  • “Christianity stands that on its head. The Christian faith demands forgiveness–radical, crazy, totally total unconditional forgiveness.”Does this only apply once the police have secured the scene? If the girl who said “shoot me first” was a saint, where was the rest of the community? Or is circling the school with heavily armed police officers reaching out in love to those who would harm you. What if the Amish could have enacted some of that radical, crazy, totally total forgiveness before calling the police? You refer to him as a beast, but maybe if wouldn’t have been pressured by the police, there might have been a different outcome. The Amish certainly sqaundered an epic oppurtunity to not be “of this world”.

  • The word “forgiveness” in the Quran is mentioned exactly twice as many times as punishment.In the Quran, to kill one person is to kill the world. And to save the life of one person is to save the life of everyone in the world.Muslims who kill are not muslims. Muslims are just as God-fearing and righteous as christians.Muslims believe in the same propets, the same God, and ultimately have the same values of christians.One of the few differences is that we revere Jesus (peace be upon him) as a prophet of God rather than God himself.Don’t beleive me?Read the Quran.Jesus said to love your neighbor.And I believe “do not bear false witness” is part of the ten commandments. So please stop doing it.

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  • Before you shoot down the fastest growing religion in the world how about you open the book everyone else is reading – try the Qur’an. Muslims are told to ask for forgiveness as Allah (Arabic word for God) is Merciful. In-fact, Christians are considered one of the receivers of the book – friends to the Muslims. We believe in Jesus and his second coming but we just dont believe he died on the cross. We believe that he was saved by Allah and pulled to heaven – where he resides now until he is called to fight the anti-christ. Note: The greater Jihad in islam is the day to day spiritual struggle. The lesser Jihad is to defense the wrong doing against Allah.Fundamentalists are in every religion. Just as the KKK is in Christianity, there is the Taliban who claim themselves part of Islam.Please dont preach negativity about ones religion when you don’t know the full truth. YOUR QUOTE: ‘I am no expert on this religion’. Well, then ask a person who is.Allah is all forgiving