Many people see the present situation in the Middle East as a local
squabble. Before September 11, this was a very common view. Now, western
political thinkers are waking up to see that this is really a "clash of
cultures" much bigger than any conflict yet experienced by the modern world.
In the last hundred years we have had two "world wars." Yet, they did
not really involve very much of the world. They were western world skirmishes
involving only a few hundred million people. Even with Japan involved, two
thirds of the world did not participate in a significant way.
Now we are facing a scenario that could easily involve four fifths
of the planet. At one billion strong and growing, Islam seems poised for what
one writer called a "second wave." He is referring to a fact of history
that is not adequately covered in modern history books: that Islam, at one
time almost conquered Europe.
Shortly after Mohammed died, the movement that he started took him at his
word and began to aggressively convert neighboring people. Their method was
compelling: any who refused to worship Allah must submit to slavery or the sword.
And few were considered suitable to be slaves.
In just a few decades, the Muslim armies had penetrated to the very heart of
Europe and it was over 700 years before their presence and influence was
Since then their expansion eastward and southward has gone almost unnoticed
by the western world. Now, we are discovering that Islam has quietly captured
Asian and African lands inhabited by over a billion people.
We are also having to recognize that those people have largely been
"converted" to Islam. Any who objected, quickly felt the edge of modern
Now, we have been shocked awake by videos of the graphic oppression of the
Taliban. We label this "extremism" and try to persuade ourselves that this
is only a local problem which we have solved by deposing the Afghan
But serious minds are beginning to look more closely at the big picture.
With the base of one billion disciples and a mandate from Allah to take over
the world, this is not likely to be simply a 10-year scrap with Hitler or a
50-year stand off with the USSR.
Include the high-tech factor of modern weapons of mass (or even limited)
destruction, and this adds up, in the minds of many serious thinkers, to a
second clash between cultures. The threat is to more than a few high-rise
buildings. On September 11, they simply threw down the gauntlet. Now, the duel
Someone has said, "Islam has the will to win; but not the weapons. The West
has the weapons to win, but does it have the will?" That will was there when
Hitler challenged it and lost. It was there for the bigger task of facing down
Anthony Harrigan sums it up in an article in the St Croix Review in
October 2001, written before the attacks on the World Trade Center.
"The challenge will come in terms of understanding the reality and dimensions
of the Muslim threat and also in terms of the moral stamina required to deal
with it...The West has been spiritually and morally disarmed by the spread of
liberalism, especially in the twentieth century...
"One can only hope that the sources of moral stamina will be renewed and
that the United States and its allies in the West will be able to survive and
overcome the assaults that will take place in the twenty-first century."
This bold insight by a secular writer presents a huge challenge to the
Bible believer. The "moral stamina" that he talks about only comes through
the gospel. The Trade Center attack taught us that this challenge by Islam is
larger than Israel and the PLO. It is even bigger than al-Qaeda vs. America.
This is a challenge by a 7th century Arab culture, equipped with modern weapons,
determined to eradicate the freedoms, prosperity, and advancement of the rest
of the world.
If we doubt the ultimate goal of this invasion, we need only to look at
Saudi Arabia's steel-plated intolerance for anything remotely non-Muslim.
In the end, the outcome of this "clash of cultures" depends on us, the
Bible believing soul winners. Only through the Holy Spirit can the hearts of
enough people be changed, so that we will have the "moral stamina" to counter
this attack on our very way of life.
Soul winners, we have much work to do.