The Challenge of Muslim Demographics
Dr. James Emery WhiteJames Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
- 2009 May 14
You may be among the over six million, to date, which has viewed the startling video on YouTube titled Muslim Demographics. If not, you will soon. It is spreading virally with blinding speed. The link is offered below.
Here’s the short version: the birth rate of non-Muslims, compared to Muslims – coupled with immigration – will result in Muslims taking over the planet. We’d better start having babies, and amp up our evangelism. And, if I got it right, probably in that order.
It is a disturbing video. It is designed to alarm, and it does its job well. As you would imagine, the video has already been taken to task for fear-mongering and truth-distortion, and to a degree, rightfully so. But it does raise a significant cultural challenge: Islam is on the rise, and its rise is a challenge for Christians throughout the world.
There are two equally mistaken reactions to the relationship between the cross and the crescent.
The first is to panic over Islam’s muscular, aggressive growth. We’ve been panicking about this since the crusades. Some of it is certainly warranted, as Islam has expanded by force at various times and places throughout its history, and as Samuel Huntington has written, there is clearly a clash of civilizations taking place between Islam and the West. Huntington even predicts that Islam will come out on top due to its willingness to be aggressive and even militant in exporting its views. Yet the danger of giving in to panic is that the relationship between Christians and Muslims becomes one of us vs. them, good guys vs. bad guys, white hats vs. black hats. In short, they become the enemy.
The second reaction, equally mistaken, is to say “peace, peace,…when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). There are some who seem so intent on making up for the widespread post-9/11 caricature of an entire religious population that there is little, if any, acknowledgment of the deep differences between Christianity and Islam, and the need to robustly convey the distinctive message of Christ to the world.
As Timothy George has posed, “Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?” The answer, George writes, is surely Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that the Father of Jesus is the only God there is. He is the Creator and Sovereign Lord of Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, and of every person who has ever lived. But the answer is also No, for Muslim theology rejects the divinity of Christ and the personhood of the Holy Spirit - both essential components of the Christian understanding of God.
Yes, the world is changing. Islam is growing while Christianity, in many quarters, is waning. The best response is to neither demonize Muslims nor deny the differences between Christianity and Islam. The best response is to know what we believe, why we believe it, and then carry that message to the world.
And maybe have some more babies.
James Emery White
To watch the “Muslim Demographics” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU.
Robert Parham, “Anti-Muslim Immigration Video Spreads Fear, Distorts Truth”, posted Monday, May 11, 2009, at http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=14194.
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
Timothy George, “Is the God of Muhammad the Father of Jesus?”, Christianity Today, February 4, 2002.