The Challenge of the Future for ChristianityPosted: May 8, 2014
- The rise of militant Islam is the most pressing challenge facing the Christian church as it looks toward the future.
- The attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath reveal a conflict far deeper than a war on terrorism, namely the clash between Western and Islamic civilizations.
- The long history of violent conflict between Christians and Muslims has been intensified in recent years owing to the Saudi promotion of Wahhabism, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the militant Muslim portrayal of the United States and the West as enemies of Islam.
- Although it is impossible to predict for certain, current patterns suggest that over 60% of the world’s population will be Christian or Muslim in 2050, with ten of the world’s twenty-five largest states possibly becoming the scene of serious interfaith conflict.
A summary from chapter twenty two of John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III Church History Volume Two From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2013), 828-839.
Christianity on the horizon looks to be engaged in a series of challenges to living out Christian faith in a fallen world. Many of these burdens carry over from the twentieth century, and include global poverty and sexual abuse, moral decline, and racial tensions. There is also a more immediate challenge to be faced in the rise of militant Islam. Despite academic predictions that religion would eventually be absorbed by secularism, realities such as the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States demonstrate the ongoing potency of religion. Perpetrated in the name of religion, the attacks initiated the U.S.’s war on terror, which was perceived by many in the Arab world as a war on Islam. The conflict between the West and the Islam appears to be far deeper than a matter of theological differences. It is a clash of civilizations, a war of cultures and values. Militant Muslims view the West as a corrupt and corrupting evil whose existence must be eliminated. Christianity and Islam have had a long history of violent conflict. In recent decades tensions have been reinvigorated. Reasons for this include the founding of Saudi Arabia and its use of oil money to promote Wahhabi Islam, the ongoing Arab-Israeli Conflict, and militant Islam’s continuing portrayal of the United States and the West as the religious enemy of Islam. Demographic research suggests the likelihood of future conflict Christians and Muslims. By 2050 it is expected that sixty percent of the world’s population will be either Christian or Muslim. Ten of the world’s twenty-five largest states are poised to for serious religious conflict between growing Christian and Muslim segments of their populations. Nigeria is an example of a nation that has the potential for such future religious violence. Christian missionary activity in the “10/40 window” is another source of provocation, as Muslims see this as a religious, political and cultural threat. Tensions also continue within Islam between its main branches, as well as between those with moderate views and those with more militant interpretations of Sharia law.