The current crisis on the American conscience is the question of refugees coming in from Syria and Iraq. There are very serious reasons for concern. Some people will argue that no refugees will come in that have not been vetted for security reasons. And yet, this begs the question, men released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility have often returned to fight against Americans, and the Boston bombers were refugees in the United States. The real question is one of the efficacy of the screening process. But this also doesn’t answer the fundamental question – is Islam a religion of peace as both Presidents Bush and Obama have declared, or is it actually a religion of violence and jihad? Have the Jihadists “hijacked” Islam or are they practicing a true, Islamic worldview? Are they inconsistent monsters?
There is a sense in which I don’t feel qualified to answer this question: Islam has something called the “doctrine of abrogation” which essentially states that there are errors in the Koran – this of course is a very different proposal than what Christians believe of the Bible. Abrogation by definition in Christian thought marks one as a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:22); and this is one of the reasons why Christians reject the authority of Mohammed. This obviously leads to differences in koranic interpretation from my approach to the Bible.
This point of abrogation is the distinction between Muslims who argue for violent Jihad and those who suggest Islam is a religion of peace. Western Muslims will often discuss passages in the Koran involving peace and love, and explain passages involving conflict in terms of defensive struggles; they view Jihad as a spiritual struggle. I can’t argue that they are an invalid interpretation of the Koran, given the doctrine of abrogation, but it is clear that this was not the position Mohammed himself took on the matter (at least not on the matter of raping the wives of the conquered; Mohammed was a butcher and warmonger), and this seems to be contrary to most of the Hadiths (For details, see Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Quereshi a book that all Christians interested in Islam should read). The Islam of the Jihadists are consistent at least with the Islam of history, the type of Islam that invaded and occupied Spain by force, and that attempted to invade France less successful. Eastern writers argue that what is actually abrogated are the peaceful passages; abrogation is defined by time, later passages are to be preferred to earlier ones, and the discussions of peace are earlier than those passages advocating war.
I can only answer that the more radical schools are clearly consistent in their approach to Islam, one might argue that those saying Islam is a religion of peace have hijacked the religion of war, but I am not in a position to make that case.
If government’s first duty is to protect its citizens, then it should be clear that the criteria used for screening refugees needs to be addressed before addressing the refugee problem itself. For Christians, the question comes down to a more fundamental one: are these merely enemies of Christ or are they lost souls who are enemies of Christ? After all, the Christian believes that God died to save His enemies; we were among them before our conversions.
The question for the Church either way is how do we reach the muslim for Christ. Governments cannot change hearts, only the gospel can do that. Whether refugees are brought to the US or whether they are taken back to the Middle East aid is something the church ought to do, for the goal of winning hearts. The real cure for terrorism is to convert Muslims to Christianity.