October 10, 2006

Error in pairs

On the 1274th anniversary of the Battle of Tours . . .

A few months after the cartoon controversy, things are heating up again in Denmark.  A group of thugs from the "Danish People's Party" released a video designed to insult Muslims and Muhammed.  The video made it to YouTube and television news, enraging Muslims worldwide, and the situation threatens to get much worse in the coming days.

So whose side should we take?  C.S. Lewis has the best answer in the form of a warning:

The Devil always sends errors into the world in pairs -- pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.

In the early Church, it was Nestorianism vs. Monophysitism.  In the last century, it was Communism vs. Nazism.  And in 2006 -- and probably in 2056 -- it's Islam vs. Secularism.

Those who especially dislike Secularism might be tempted to forget that Islam, whenever it is ascendant or dominant in a culture, reveals an unusually thin-skinned, violent, and repressive nature.  (If you don't believe me, go count the number of churches in Saudi Arabia, and multiply it by the number of critics who actually read Pope Benedict's Regensburg address in its entirety.)

Those who especially dislike Islam might be tempted to excuse the toxicity of our own secularized culture, especially when it displays its contempt for women (contraception and pornography) or innocent children (divorce and abortion).  (Awful as it is, terrorism pales by comparison to infanticide.)  They might too easily dismiss the importance of our good Muslim friends in the battle for God's rights.

Don't despair, though.  C.S. Lewis also reminds us of the solution:

Do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.

In other words, orthodoxyStraight through between both errors, by the grace of Christ and the guidance of His Church.  If we can master that, and learn how to announce the Gospel to each side, we'll be well equipped to handle the current Danish situation, and to serve God in the coming Dramatic Century that it foreshadows.