In a recent newsletter, OM founder George Verwer wrote that quite a few Americans he encounters ‘think that the United Kingdom is about to be taken over by Islam or Muslims.’ However, he continues, ‘having lived in Britain for 46 years and loving the people of this nations including all of the immigrants, I want to say that such statements are great exaggerations.’
Last week, we wrote about responding to the Muslim presence in Europe with half-truths and fear. We stated that a biblical response would involve truth and love.
Brother Andrew, for example, as I’ve quoted before, challenges audiences to spell out ISLAM as: I Sincerely Love All Muslims.
That is not to deny the challenges Islam is bringing to Europe today, and the hard work needed to encourage integration. But, as George continues in his letter, ‘other anti-Christian forces are much greater than Islam and far more subtle.’
‘At the same time,’ he says, ‘this is still a strong, secular, semi-Christian country. The Christian side may be in trouble and cause for much prayer, but the secular side, including one of the strongest military forces in the world, are not in any way about to cave in to Islam. Politics involves compromise and with the number of Muslims who live here, including the second generation, there has to be some compromise.
‘All people need a voice. Huge numbers of Muslims are totally opposed to terrorism which may increase in the future.’
What may some of these subtle and greater anti-Christian forces be that George refers to? Secularism, especially as embodied in the New Atheist movement of Richard Dawkins and others, no doubt would be one example.
Islam or Idols?
Another would be the nebulous world of new spirituality, or private spirituality without any ethical demands.
I have often asked audiences to name one well-known European convert to Islam. The one name regularly mentioned is Cat Stevens–from thirty years ago!
But when I ask what Madonna is into, everyone knows: Kaballah! That is, a do-it-yourself modern version of ancient Jewish mysticism adapted to Madonna’s personal preferences.
And what about other film-, rock- and pop-stars? Who really is shaping our modern culture, the thinking and action of Europe’s youth today? Islam, or the idols of our pop-culture?
Last week I received a report from YWAMers manning a stand at the London 2010 Mind, Body Soul Festival, celebrating its 33rd anniversary. The festival claims to be the largest and longest running event of its kind in the world, with thousands of visitors from the UK and abroad, attracted by the ‘eclectic mix of musicians, international workshop leaders, authors, artists and ‘cutting edge’ exhibitors.
Jude Foote, from YWAM Liverpool, wrote to say what a ‘brilliant time’ they had had, with God doing ‘amazing things’. “All of us were shocked with how open people were and how easy it was to pray with people,“ he wrote. “We managed to pray with so many people, both in our stall and just roaming around the exhibition as well.” And they were not the only Christians manning stalls–one visitor exclaimed that ‘everyone’ he had met that day was a Christian. Jude sent pages of stories about people who encountered Jesus through prayer or words of knowledge.
Here is an example of Christians responding proactively to one of the major challenges concerning the battle for the European mind. Islam, secularism and new spirituality all offer alternative views for tomorrow’s Europe. This is why we offer a study week each summer exploring biblical responses to each of these ‘life options’ as the second of three modules of the Summer School of European Studies.
This summer the study modules will be held in Heerde, based in Centrum ’s Heerenhof, set in the Dutch countryside in a region famous for its springs, streams, forests, heatherfields and bikepaths.
Each morning we hold informal seminars on the above topics, with study and free time in the afternoons. Evenings are usually centred around dvds and discussions. The ‘Europe Today’ module is July 27-31.
The following week, August 2-6, we address ‘Europe Tomorrow’, seeking a biblical framework for recovering faith, hope and vision for the future.
These modules of course are preceded by The Heritage Tour, July 10-25, the ‘Europe Yesterday’ module, for which limited places are still available.
More information can be found at www.schumancentre.eu/sses.
Personally I think it is one of the most significant ways anyone could spend the summer! These are issues that will not go away. But they are challenges for which I believe the Bible has clear answers.
Will we rise to the challenge?
Till next week,