National Catholic Register

Books

The Christian-Muslim Gulf

According to author Robert Spencer, pretending that the differences between the religions don’t exist won’t make them go away.

BY FATHER C.J. McCLOSKEY

| Posted 7/6/13 at 8:00 AM

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Not Peace But a Sword:

The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam

By Robert Spencer

Catholic Answers, 2013

252 pages, $15.95

To order: notpeacebutasword.com

 

Robert Spencer, perhaps the foremost Catholic expert on Islam in our country, has written a new book entitled Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam (Catholic Answers, 2013). Spencer has advised the highest levels of the military on the Islamic threat to the United States, and he has authored several books for the general public on the topic of Islam, including Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith.

This book is his most interesting yet, as it makes the case for the fundamental disagreement between Christianity and Islam. Spencer writes: “One of the oddities of contemporary ‘interfaith dialogue’ is that, all too often, out of overzealous irenicism, it glosses over, or ignores altogether, the disagreements between religious traditions, as if pretending that they didn’t exist would make them go away.” He expands on the vast differences between Christianity and Islam on the character of God, Jesus and Divine revelation; the nature of truth and the moral law; religious freedom and other basic rights; life issues, marriage and sexual morality, including the rights and dignity of women.

An example of this great divide: Converts from Islam to Christianity are often hunted in the Muslim world, where virtually all Islamic authorities agree that such individuals deserve death. In fact, Muhammad himself commanded this: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 84:57).

In Egypt, at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious and influential educational institution in the Islamic world, an Islamic manual states that a person who has reached puberty is sane, and if he voluntarily apostatizes from Islam deserves to be killed.

Hilaire Belloc, the great Catholic author of the early 20th century, was prophetic in predicting: “We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future. Perhaps if we lose our faith, it will rise.”

Well, we all know that in this country and many others jihad Islam has risen with a bloody vengeance, and with no signs of receding. Meanwhile, we are kidding ourselves if we believe that the United States is still a Christian country, given the plummeting participation in religious worship of Catholics and Protestants alike.

In addition (and perhaps there is causal relationship), there has been a vertiginous drop in public and private morality. That includes (in no particular order) the attack on marriage and on unborn life, the growth of pornography as America’s favorite and most profitable form of entertainment, the plummeting birthrate (the lowest in our history) expedited by contraception and backed up by abortion, the enormous number of births out of wedlock — the list could go on.

Indeed, we have outmatched the decadent Roman Empire in our perversity, with the help of our technology. No wonder the Muslims hate us.

But that does not make them the good guys by any means, as the quotes from the Quran above attest. At its worst, Islam is diabolical; at its best, it is a Christian heresy — not unlike Mormonism without the violence.

The ultimate answer to the threat of Islam from within or without the United States is not just a strong defense, but a virtuous people who believe in and live their lives by the universal Church that Christ founded.

A highlight in this fine book is an epilogue of a debate between Peter Kreeft of Boston College and Robert Spencer that has as its topic: "Is the Only Good Muslim a Bad Muslim?"

Opus Dei Father C.J. McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow

at the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington.