Someone has said, “Truth is dangerous, and religious truth is the most dangerous of all.”
The positive reading of this dangerous quote is that religious truth is a danger to complacency, human laziness and the natural disinclination to seek only comfort and pleasure in life. Religion is a higher calling and demands a higher standard. The truth in every religion calls the believer to be the very best human being they can be. Religion is therefore dangerous for those who would settle for nothing but creature comforts.
In other words, religion is dangerous to the dozy.
Religion is also dangerous to the wicked. Dictators, corrupt politicians, greedy financiers, abusive employers and cruel men of power are threatened by religious people who insist on peace, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, mercy and ministry. True religion has always been dangerous to tyrants. That is why they have so often sought to stamp it out.
While religion is dangerous to the complacent, the greedy and the powerful, there is also a negative aspect to the danger of religion. A religion that seeks to convert through force or cruelty is a danger to peace and justice in the world. This kind of religion is an anti-religion. Where religion should bring out the best in humanity, this anti-religion brings out the worst. Where religion should challenge people to be more open-minded, this anti-religion makes them more bigoted. Where true religion is dangerous to cruelty, greed and vengeance, this anti-religion is dangerous to peace, justice and forgiveness.
Islamic jihadism reveals an anti-religion in full force. In the name of their “religion of peace” Islamic terrorists torture, murder and maim in God’s name. Good Muslims are right to be horrified by the distortion of their religion into a dangerous anti-religion.
The anti-religion of radical Islam is even more dangerous because the commitment to a religion is not territorial. Young Islamic radicals, sympathetic to the aims of extremists live and work in countries across the globe. Their allegiance is not to their home country, but to their radical anti-religion. Their loyalty is not first to the land of their citizenship, but to the faith that transcends national boundaries. Their love is not of their countrymen, but of their co-religionists.
In a modern world where travel and immigration are increasingly free and borders are open, old ethnic, national and tribal loyalties are increasingly meaningless. Religion, therefore, is the one bond that will bring people together across national boundaries. Religion fosters a bond between peoples of disparate histories and ethnicities in a way that no political or economic force is able to approach.
Some enemies of the Christian faith promote the idea that Christianity is similarly tyrannical. Pro-life advocates are blamed for imposing their views on others. Pro-family campaigners are targeted because they are “forcing their religion on others.” Christians who counsel people with sexual identity challenges are identified as haters and homophobes.
While it is true that there are some Christians who wish to impose their religion and morality on others, this is alien to the heart of the Christian faith.
We propose. We do not impose.
At the heart of the Christian gospel is true acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness. This is not a weak and indifferent tolerance, but an acceptance of people just as they are but with the realization that God loves them too much to leave them that way.
The turning point of this gospel way is the virtue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the power to turn hatred into love and bitterness into peace.
The only religion that has forgiveness and reconciliation at its very foundation is Christianity. Christians call Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace and only those who seek to follow him truly and fully can help bring his peace to the world. They are the ones who are a true danger to those who seek only violence and vengeance.