Thursday, July 7

The Conflict

The terrorist attacks in London this morning have been a horrifying reminder of the battle that faces us—a battle, in fact, with which we have been faced for a very long time but with which we are just now coming fully to terms.

The reality is that the greatest human conflict of the past century has not been between Communism and Democracy. It has not been between Liberalism and Conservatism. It has not been between Socialism and Capitalism. It has not been between Rich and Poor, Proletariat and Bourgeoisie, Industrialism and Agrarianism, Nationalism and Colonialism, Management and Labor, First World and Third World, East and West, North and South, Allied and Axis, or NATO and Soviet. All of these conflicts have been important, of course. All of them helped to define the modern era significantly. None of them should be in any way underestimated.

But while every one of these conflicts has pitted ardent foes against one another and as a result, has actually altered the course and character of recent history, none of them could be characterized as the most convulsive conflict of the past century. The most convulsive conflict of past century—and indeed, the most convulsive conflict of the past millennium—has undoubtedly been between Islam and Civilization; it has been between Islam and Freedom; it has been between Islam and Order; it has been between Islam and Progress; it has been between Islam and Hope; it has been between Islam and the Gospel. While every other conflict pitting men and nations against one another has inevitably waxed and waned, this furious struggle has remained all too constant. The tension between Islam and every aspiration and yearning of man intrudes on every issue, every discipline, every epoch, and every locale—a fact that is more evident today than perhaps ever before.

That is a hard lesson to learn. But we had best learn it, post haste, or the horrifying scenes of human suffering we have now witnessed London and Madrid and Baghdad and Mosul will be repeated again and again and again--only in Chicago or LA or Dallas or Atlanta.


Jes said...

I don't think it is fair or correct to make such an encompassing statement. Timothy McVeigh's actions didn't institute personal responsibility on all Christians. The actions of individuals and extremist Islamic groups do not bear responsibility to the whole of Islam. In reading the Koran you will find that violence is against the teachings of Muhammad, just as it is within the pages of the bible. To say that all Muslims aren't civilized, don't want freedom and hope, and aren't progressive or foward thinking is unfounded and without merit. It's a statement that makes you complicit in the further dividing this world.

MTG said...

George, great post. You hit it on the head as always!

How well would Jessica do living in an islamic terror state? She obviously has read only 'portions' of the Koran that bear out her viewpoints and not the entire truth of the matter.

Anonymous said...

If I may, I'd like to point out that we may be more accurate to substitue the word "faithful" for the word "extremist" when referring to jihad Muslims. I will say my exposure to the Koran is minimal. But am I to believe you when you say the Koran does not praise Muslims who kill those that do not worship Allah? It seems to me, this is the crux of the matter. Either Islam encourages the murder of "infidels" or it doesn't. The Bible tells us the God of Abraham will judge mankind once and for all on the last day. You can believe that or not, but I, a Christian, will not take your life if you laugh at the idea. When George Grant makes a sweeping statement about Islam being violent, the offense is not necessarily saying all Muslims are violent, his only offense is exposing that many Muslims are unfaithful to Islam. The ones that are peacefully eating a Big Mac, loving their wives, and watching Second Hand Lions with the family.

Robbie McBroom said...

Muslims who are civilized and "want freedom and hope",and are "progressive and forward thinking" may be good people but they make bad Muslims.

gileskirk said...

I'm afraid this might be lost on Jessica and all too many others, but the point should be made that I was careful in my post to explain that the great conflict in which we now find ourselves is between Islam and the West--it is not Muslims, good or bad, but the worldview of Islam itself that is pitted against Western Civilization and all its fruits. That is an important distinction. There are thousands--if not millions--of gloriously inconsistant Muslims. Thank goodness. We should be very grateful that many Muslims are good people and thus out of step with Islam.

And by the way, if McVeigh was a Christian--and I have never heard anyone anywhere make that claim--he was clearly out of step with Christianity.

Butterflie said...

We forget what this is all about. It's not a war of flesh and blood. All of this began centuries ago when Abraham and Sarah choose to disobey God's law.

Charles said...


I was almost going to agree wholeheartedly with you, amens all the way to the local Christian-owned coffeehouse pub. You said the most "convulsive" conflict was the conflict between Islam and the Gospel. I might have even bought your "of the past millennia" -- although you don't specify which of the past millennia you mean: and surely you cannot mean all the past millennia. Perhaps it all was a little strong, but I might have bought it.

But your comment on the post has swung my vote, I'm afraid. The WORLDVIEW (sorry to shout) of Islam is the greatest human conflict of all this time? To me, this is quite an exaggeration. Without even going into times before the past century, I think I can say that there have been conflicts much greater than that of the Gospel vs. one particular trinitarian heresy. A fairer statement might be that the greatest conflict of human history is that of the Gospel against those who deny the power and the word of God, who make mere men equal to Him. This statement, I believe, encompasses not only that pesky Meccan heresy, but the conflicts of Hitler's species of national socialism, Stalin's international socialism, and the rest.

gileskirk said...

To be sure, in the grand scheme of things, the "pesky Meccan heresy" is but one component part of the whole world-system of unbelief and is thus just one among many revolutionary attempts to counter the Gospel. Or, perhaps better, they are just a single aspect of the one great error.

So for instance, radical Islamicists from the House of Saud or the PLO have through the years lent support to revolutionary and/or terrorist organizations in the West like the IRA, the Red Brigade, the Shining Path, and the Khmer Rouge to say nothing of their complicity with the Kaiser, il Duce, and the Fuehrer--thus, revealing their essential, innate revolutionary character. They are, were, and ever will be kith and kin, fellow-travelers, and birds of a feather--part of the same revolt against the truth and the Truth.

But during the past 1000 years, the most persistent, plaguing, and noxious of the many and varied pretenders to truth in this chaotic but unified revolution has undoubtedly been Islam. That was my only point.

Courtney Huntington said...

Hey George & ALL,

I have a few questions. Don’t such reductions too close to the danger of modern-day fundamentalist-neo-conservativism at least at two points? 1) "The Gospel of Christ" is linked with both Bush's Neo-Conservativism's War making -- AND 2) "Western Civilization"?? Shouldn’t we be uncomfortable with Both of these?

Bush's unprecedented Preemptive War is aggression (as opposed to Defensive) – premised upon a host of lies about Saddam and Iraq. Is this something we want "The Gospel" or Christendom connected to at the hip. Simply put, US foreign policy must be kept SEPARATE from The Church and Gospel. I believe Bishop N. T. Wright was politely concerned about Am. Fundamentalism’s open linking of The Church and Christendom to Bush’s Neo-Conservative foreign policy when he was here. Has the Church ever really been served and gained by connecting itself to aggressive Secular political power?

Secondly, "Western Civilization" is a very mixed bag for The Church to unwisely marry. Is this Western-Civ characterized by Medieval Christendom -- or Enlightenment Rationalism? Indeed, we might rightly argue that THE WAR of the modern Church has been INTERNAL with all the Modern-Western heresies of Industrial/Statist/Materialism corrupting Her from within.

Simplistic Fundamentalism likes to look for an "Evil-Boogy-Man" to demonize Outside the Church. I suspect our Bigger Enemies/Wars are within.

So, are Modern Radical Islamist really at War with The Gospel and The Church – or – are they more accurately at war with a Secular, Godless Modern Statism hell-bent on taking their oil? I'm not so sure.

In His Mercies,
David Rockett

gileskirk said...


I certainly wouldn't--and didn't--link my comments here to a particular administration's war posture. Though, I must say that despite my grave reservations about the Bush Doctrine, it is much to be preferred to the Clinton Doctrine. To be sure my book, Blood of the Moon, takes great issue with American foreign policy toward the Islamic world.

About Western Civilization though, I think that it is possible to say at the macro level, Christianity created something distictive--producing unprecedented freedom, prosperity, and opportunity in the West. We live in a fallen world, so at the micro level we can see all manner of wickedness sullying the record of the West. That makes things complicated. But, it does not preclude discussions about the blessings very evidently wrought by Gospel influences, blessings which simply do not exist where the Gospel has not freely run.

tim said...

"That is a hard lesson to learn..."

Great post. Thanks. What actions do learning this lesson translate into?

Courtney Huntington said...

Hey George,

Yes, we revel in and seek to preserve a gracious heritage neither of us quarrel with from Medieval & Reformation Europe -- Christendom. There is, however, much important work left in separating the pagan inheritance from Enlightenment Rationalism which began with renianassiance Humanism and morphed into Scientific Individualism.

Thus, "Westernization" is a Christian/Pagan mixture which in the hands of modern secular Statism is mostly Pagan. We mustn't fail to see this like most of our fundamentalist/neo-con brethren. Otherwise we might be tempted to quarrel over whether the wicked and evil Clinton/Doctrine (bombing & embargo) of Iraq... was "more-evil" than the evil and wickedness of Bush's massive military invasion, destruction, puppet/regieme-
change in Iraq??? Are there really "kinder-gentler" hands on the machine-gun/bomber?

In His Mercies,

David Rockett

Jes said...

Derek: Is there not a difference between dying and killing for a religion? There is. In conversations with my muslim friends, they have illustrated this difference. I know no religion to advocate and reward killing in it's honor. Anyone on the wrong side of their religion acts against it, and they are in minimal proportions to the healthy, peaceful majority. You very well as a Christian will not take my life violently if I disagree with you, but every day many Christians seek to limit my influence and freedoms within it. I'm witnessed to daily, and have been told more than once a week for the past 4 years that I am going to hell.

Morgan: I have read both the Koran and the bible cover to cover. I have decided that both are not in my lot, and have chosen neither. However the I see the extremists of both Christianity and Islam the same. A confused, distracted, and hateful minority. Islamic terror states are perpetuated within leadership of the government. The worst terror states are seemingly those who have been supported and funded by our government. (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.) Some of worst most tragic leadership has been executed for 'God'. Hitler once said that "The [national government] regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life."

As religious tensions/animosity continues to grow between Islam and Christianity, I want no part of it. If this war is the ideological battle that religious leaders say it is, I wish that it be separated from government and clearly indicated as a war of religious ideology fought by those who are in favor, and not those who joined the military to earn money and go to school.

Dale said...

"joined the military to earn money and go to school"????? I'm sorry but joining the military should not be for personal benefit to fund personal future endeavors. I understand there are side benefits for serving one's country (and the military has had to add to those benefits to get enough young citizens to serve) but they should not be the primary reason for joining. Joining the military should be to serve one's country and protect fellow citizens. Joining should only be done out of a sense of duty and patriotism. If someone wants to earn money for school they would be better off finding a job and staying home so they don't get sent where they don't want to go. It's rather silly to complain about being sent somewhere to serve one's country if one chose "voluntarily" to join the military in the first place.

I for one am thankful for the many young men and women who join our country's military for the correct reasons. I am thankful they are willing to go and serve, even in places they'd rather not be, and even in times when they may not totally agree with their leaders views. It's because of those young men and women throughout the last 200+ years that we still have freedom and value freedom here in the U.S.

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