Was I imagining it or was the lady cashier in the bank frightened when religion came up in our conversation about the Paris attacks?
After her friendly question about how our Sunday service went, she brought up the grievous events in Paris but seemed not merely uncomfortable but fearful about talk of the religious motivation behind these atrocities.
Since the passing into law of the Equality Act 2010, it is highly likely that she has been subject to regular diversity training by the high street bank she works for. But please Mr, Mrs or Miss Bank Manager/ess do not allow friendly relations with us customers to be undermined by staff being afraid of committing politically incorrect thought crime.
The truth is bad religion was behind the attacks in Paris. The god being worshipped by the jihadists is naked evil.
The truth is also, thank the good Lord, that many Muslims are not worshipping this god. They interpret the Quran differently and thus worship a different deity who does not demand violent jihad. The Muslim Council of Britain in its unequivocal condemnation of the religious motivation behind the Paris attacks speaks for such Muslims in our country.
Undeniably, there is a penumbra between these two polar interpretations of the Quran. Quite how large that penumbra is in Britain is difficult to determine but the people in that penumbra who could potentially become jihadists are the challenge for our security and intelligence services, for whose vital preventative work Christians have a responsibility to pray.
Supremely, in line with Jesus’s expressed desire that people from all nations should become his disciples (see his Great Commission in Matthew 28v16-20), Christians need to be praying that there is a movement from Islam both in its moderate and radical forms to Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah, in Quranic Arabic).
Anglican Christians in Britain should be especially desirous of Muslim conversions in the light of the biblically faithful liturgy of the Church of England. In one of the Good Friday Collects in the Book of Common Prayer, the minister leads the congregation in asking for God’s mercy ‘upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks’ – ‘take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock,’ this beautiful Collect requests.
Former Muslims can make wonderful Christians. As one Muslim convert to Christ in East Africa put it, as recorded in David Garrison’s brilliant book, A Wind in the House of Islam (WIGTake Resources, 2014, p303): ‘We don’t worry much about Muhammed. Our burden is for those who are not yet in the kingdom of God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we have been born again’ (p73).
If any public or private sector employee in Britain were afraid to testify like that in a friendly conversation with a customer, let alone openly discuss the religious motivation of Islamist terrorists, then the jihadists will have won a terrible psychological victory.