mardi 29 novembre 2011

The Danger of Blind Tolerance

I was reading Maximus post on God vs Men where he take charge against atheism and strident secularization. In the process of doing that he made a rather interesting case for Islam. Of course it has no theological value but has a rather powerful cultural significance. Since he chose Rwanda as a case study for the positive impact of Islam he was able to pull it off rather well. If he had chosen Islam as lived and experienced in Middle East and the former soviet countries during the Bosnia tumult, his case would have been rather unattractive and crushed down. Nevertheless his point and comments about Rwanda is rather interesting. I am sure you'll find it relevant given our recent debates with the Islamic leaders in Kigali 6 months ago.   

Islam…was a small faith in the country of Rwanda at the time of the genocide, almost non-existent. It is rising now faster then ever, mosques overflowing, and playing a part in healing wounds and bringing forgiveness to that country. Why is Islam growing in Rwanda? In their own words:

During the genocide, Muslims were among the few Rwandans who protected both neighbors and strangers. Elsewhere, many Hutus hunted down or betrayed their Tutsi neighbors and strangers suspected of belonging to the minority.

But the militiamen and soldiers didn’t dare go after Tutsis in Muslim neighborhoods like Biryogo, said Yvette Sarambuye, a 29-year-old convert. ”If a Hutu Muslim tried to kill someone hidden in our neighborhoods, he would first be asked to take the holy Quran and tear it apart to renounce his faith,” said Sarambuye, a Tutsi widowed mother of three who survived the slaughter by hiding with Muslims. “No Muslim dared to violate the holy book, and that saved a lot of us.”

For many Hutu extremists, Muslims were regarded as a group apart, not to be targeted in the genocide.

Muslims take God and the Quran VERY seriously. They don’t have faith or belief…they KNOW God exists and that his word came down to man through the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

You will note that while Muslim Hutus did partake in the slaughter, but when they were confronted by their own religious community and asked to leave Islam because it forbids the killing of innocents, they put down their machetes, at least in Muslim neighborhoods. Islam saved lives…by the Koran alone. In contrast to the Christian majority that the country is now moving away from, the Bible did not save anyone as a holy book:
Although the Christian clergy in many communities struggled to protect Tutsis and often died with them, more than 20 Roman Catholic and Protestant priests, nuns and pastors are facing charges related to the killings. Rwandan courts already have convicted two Catholic priests and sentenced them to death.
… the message of the Koran and the small Muslim community spared countless lives that would otherwise have been lost as there was no sanity to be found anywhere during that black time in Rwanda’s history…except if you found yourself in a Muslim village.

Isn't it fascinating if the story are completely true? When I first read this at Vox Day blog, I was interested in his diagnostic given the fact that it isn't the first time he gives it:

"The Rwandan church failed in much the same way that the Christian church in the West has failed. We tolerate the unrepentant sinners in our midst rather than doing what is explicitly commanded in the Bible, confronting them, demanding repentance, and expelling them from the church community if they will not do so. And in both cases, the resulting consequence is that people walk away from a faith that is not true to itself. The church that will not confront the adulterer, the thief, the homosexual, the liar, or the gossip is one that will not confront the murderer either when he appears at their door, demanding the blood of the innocent."

Vox is spot on. Authenticity is what is required of the disciples of Jesus by Jesus himself. He expressly called his followers - his disciples - light of the world and salt of the world. Lacking to walk in light - read integrity and authenticity - as sons of light we loose our value and relevant just like a salt that would loose its saltiness. Uselessness becomes then their label. Tolerating people like that in our midst is dangerous for our reputation.

I also read a comment made by Kajeneri Christian in his Facebook wall:

"Christianity is not failing because of the evil doings done by Born-again Christians, but rather the fact that we have abandoned our regular customs, nowadays neglected by many: morning & evening devotion, fulfillment of vows, grateful hearts, Bible reading, Meditation of the Word of God, bearing fruits which is a result of Intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit, Love/ brotherhood Love, Winning souls for Christ, etc. The lack of all these basics principles/customs are the one killing Christianity today. God help us!"

What he was trying to say wasn't to exonerate the evil done by the 'Born-again' but rather to bring to light the fact that those evil acts are symptomatic. They proceed from a deeper problem, the lack of genuine faith on the part of some 'born again' Christian folks.

In few weeks we will be celebrating the first coming of our Lord Jesus through the traditional Christmas event. And the Catholic church has called his members to take the call of season called the 'Advent' seriously. This season is one of the season in the catholic church that calls the members to practice their faith through acts of kindness to the poor and so on. Christmas is good season to reminds us about our mission as Church and the purpose of Christ coming. However a religious season of holiness is not enough to really change people's hearts. A genuine encounter with Jesus is the key to a man's heart change.

The human heart need more. It needs a rather complete makeover to even start valuing things that are sacred - such as life. I remember reading a book written from a Rwandan Catholic priest who survived the genocide. He tells the story of man coming to him with a bleeding machete, and at the sight of it he regretfully informed the slaughterer: "I regret to have baptized you without converting you." This statement coming from a priest is really revealing. It reminds me a catholic movement of apologists coming from New Zealand that had/has for motto: "Evangelizing the Baptized." It has become clear to many over the years now that we have baptized people who aren't even Christians in the first place. That which seemed restricted often in Catholicism in the past is now as present as ever in protestant churches and ministries. We have dangerous people in high profile ministry seats and we allow them to be there at our own perils. We have gifted men but they have no authenticity and that is what is killing us. I wish at time I could just be Jesus' hand so that he could use me handling some whip and drive the merchant away from the Temple once again. They just bring a lot of confusion and darken the purpose of Christ through the Church which is Love.

I'll end with this last admonishment - do not compromise the faith by allowing tolerance of what is prohibited in the scripture. If you ignore the warning, you might just live long enough to witness the consequences of your unwise tolerance.

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