Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jesus the Anti Cultural Imperialist

Look at these four maps. Do you see what I see?

Where the world’s Buddhists live

Where the world’s Hindus live

Where the world’s Muslims live

Where the world’s Christians live

Twenty-five hundred years after the Buddha lived, Buddhism is pretty much a local religion. The locale is very large, and many people live there, but it is remarkable that Buddhism has remained pretty much where it began. It would appear that those Buddhists who have left Buddhism’s homeland have emigrated for economic reasons, not to proselytize.

The same would seem to be the same for Hinduism. Nearly two thousand years after the “golden age” of Hinduism, over ninety percent of Hindus live in India. Again, those who have left seem to have left for economic reasons, not to spread their religion.

The situation with Islam is different. Most Muslims don’t live in the Middle East, where Islam began. However much of the geographical spread was done by the sword, much of it was done by trade. Muslims early on were prolific traders and scholars, giving the world such things as compasses, mattresses, cotton, and the grammatical analysis of biblical Hebrew – not to mention algebra and the number zero.

They took their religion with them wherever they went, and while Islam in Tanzania is different from what it is in the Philippines, and both are different from Islam in Saudi Arabia, one thing is common to all: the idea that submission to Allah and love for the Prophet require forceful reaction to any perceived insult. Such insult can take the form, as we have seen with the Danish cartoons, of mockery, but as thousands of Christians around the world can testify, it can also take the form of refusing to accept Islam, of leaving Islam, and even of simply articulating Christian doctrine. And though the Quran says that there is to be no coercion in matters of religion, what actually happens frequently on the ground would fit most non-Muslims’ definition of coercion.

Now look at the map for Christianity. No other religion is spread as evenly over the world as Christianity. When I first came to Christ, Protestant Christianity was pretty much a European religion, though its most visible proponents were Europeans whose ancestors had moved to the western hemisphere. Not anymore.

As Christians suffer persecution from Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, not to mention atheists, we can thank God that he has not called us to defend his name, his reputation, or his servants by violence. We should be grieved when the name of Jesus is dragged through the mud, of course, but he tells us to respond by inviting those who disparage him to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” He will not turn his anger on us if we don’t beat the crap out of those who insult him.

I need no other proof that it is Jesus, not Allah, not the Buddha, not the Hindu pantheon, and not the most powerful of atheists, who is the truly great one.

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