Islamification of American Evangelicalism

Martin Marty once described a shift in American religion as the “Baptistification of American Christianity.”  I’ve been wondering if there is a similar shift under way among evangelicals that could be called “the Islamification of American Evangelicalism?” To what extent are we influenced by the “witness” of Islam?  We see little of Buddhism on the TV but every day we are shown examples of the second most popular religion (after Christianity)—Islam. Every day we see examples of Islamic piety and politics and I wonder if secretly some evangelicals admire our “competition.”  It is no secret that Christians (like corporations) often reorient themselves to adjust to their competition (even their enemies).  In the face of radical Islam the softer side of Christianity seems anemic and weak to some and I wonder if we will see the emergence of a more radical strain of  evangelicals in order “to fight fire with fire.”


So, if this were to happen I wonder what it would look like?  I’m trying to picture where we might copy the Muslim piety and politics that we might secretly admire.  Here are some possibilities:


1. Elevation of the Father over the other members of the Trinity

Muslims have one God and one God alone. They do not worship Muhammad but God alone—they have no “Trinity.”  If we begin to adapt to their unitary God I bet we’d see a move to elevate the Father as “God” and we’d start to subordinate the Son and Spirit to the Father.  Eventually when we’d say “God” we’d mean the Father.


2. The glory of God is all that matters.

Muslims have an admirable view that God’s Glory is all that matters and God will always get glory—out of everything. If we move toward Islam, I suppose we’d see creation nothing about love or humans but “only for God’s glory.” I bet we’d eventually even consider the cross as “not about us” or human redemption but about God’s glory.  If we become more like them we’d make God’s glory central to our thinking and we’d care only about God’s glory alone.


3. Elevation of males and subordination of women

I suspect some evangelicals admire the way Muslims elevate males and “put women in their place.”  If we moved toward their example evangelicals would try to reverse the gains of the women’s movement, making women subordinate to males. Of course we’d need to reverse the ordination of women too. I doubt we’d go so far as to actually force women to their own sections in the back of our churches, but I bet we’d make sure women knew they were in subordination to males and we’d teach that God wants it that way.


4. Destiny

If we adapt to Muslim doctrines I suspect we’d develop a much stronger view of God’s actions in our world too. We’d lean toward a view of destiny that teaches God always gets His way. We’d place less emphasis on what humans do and we’d teach that God determines everything and we’d teach people how to “submit” to the will of God which would be irresistible.


5. Nationalizing religious values

If we secretly admire Muslims and started copying them, I bet we’d try to nationalize Christian morals and we’d try to make sin illegal. We’d teach that God established our nation, has a particular will for us in history, and we’d make the Bible the basis of government and our laws. In this nationalized religion we’d copy Islam’s success in making pornography, prostitution, abortion, drugs, and drunkenness illegal and we’d be far tougher on crime.


6. Holy war.

If we admired Islam’s approach to international affairs we might even start thinking about war as not about land, or power but mostly about fighting evil for our God’s sake and we’d treat the enemies of our nation as the enemies of God and we’d believe our warriors were doing God’s will in fighting His own enemies.


So, has this secret admiration begun? To what extent are we already being influenced already by Islamic ways? Is this good? Bad? Or, if this is happening are we only finding again our own past faith in the new fundamentalism among American Evangelicals?


So what do you think?

During the first few weeks click here to comment or read comments


Keith Drury   December 4, 2007