Keith Ward, who will be at Big Tent Christianity, has an amazing lecture on the so called ‘Clash of Civilizations’ between Islam and Christianity. Because I have heard enough ignorant and bigoted rhetoric coming out of Christians’ mouths I thought I would share this. Of course HBC Deacons would never say such things but your friends might so feel free to share some wisdom from Keith Ward, your friendly neighborhood Oxford theologian of world religions! Here are the last to paragraphs of his lecture but go here and get the entire transcript, video, or audio for download!!!! FREE! His books here.
There is no clash of civilisations between Christianity and Islam, because both faiths take on, and have historically taken on, the form of the civilisations in which they exist. In the process, they modify those civilisations to a greater or less extent, and one way in which they do so is by introducing belief in objective moral obligation and purpose into human affairs. Diversity and change are intrinsic to religious faith, but faith adds an orientation to transcendent goodness that is its enduring contribution to human culture.
Acceptance of freedom of belief, the right of informed and open criticism, and an insistence that moral rules must subserve universal human welfare, are moral advances that have been made in the modern world through struggle, and that must not be relinquished. Both Christianity and Islam can internalise such values, and find resources in their own traditions for promoting them. Working apart and without reference to these values, the faiths will both become more marginalised and culturally isolated. Working together, they can become major forces for social harmony and altruistic action. Modern Europe offers a social context, not for a clash of civilisations, but for a new integration of religious faith and moral action, in which Islam and Christianity can both be revitalised in a context which can enable them to escape from old antipathies and forge new mature, creative and humanising forms of faith for the modern world. Such a course requires patience and courage, but it is a positive and real possibility for the Europe of the future, and one that is well worth striving for.