Every heresy starts with at least a tiny mustard seed of truth. However great a distortion it is to say that Christianity preaches pacifism, non-violence, and passive surrender to the aggressions of other cultures, faiths, and ideologies, that notion begins with something real. There is a stark difference between Christianity and the religions that have surrounded it for most of its history. To put it another way: would we need a long article of to refute the idea that Islam is a pacifist religion?
Hardly. It won’t take that long. In fact, let’s go ahead and do it. The self-styled prophet Muhammad began by preaching his distinctive religion, which many scholars see as cobbled-together bits of Judaism and extreme Arian Christianity (which denies Jesus’ divinity), two creeds that were common in the region of Arabia where he grew up, all filtered through an intense tribal nationalism. The Arabs had been disorganized, dispossessed, and frequently governed by foreign rulers for many centuries, practicing either fractured and primitive forms of paganism, or faiths that came to them from other nations — such as Christianity and Judaism.
Muhammad’s creed, by contrast, told them that Arabs were in fact the people of God, that God’s own Word had been written in their own language before all eternity and dwelt alongside Him in heaven. No translation of the Koran from Arabic into any other language is even considered authentic by true
believers, merely a paraphrase. The holy place where all must come to pray would be in Mecca, not Jerusalem, and the whole Arab peninsula must be purged of every other religion. After a decade or so of preaching this message with little success in Mecca itself, Muhammad fled to Medina, where warring clans turned to him as a peacemaker — and a political savior. He began to reign over Medina as a theocratic king.
Suddenly, the constant stream of messages that Muhammad claimed to be hearing from the Angel Gabriel took on a quite different tenor. While he had been weak and almost friendless, God had told him to preach tolerance and peaceful coexistence with other religions. Once he had at his disposal significant wealth and an army keen for commerce raids and conquest, Muhammad began hearing messages of quite another sort. These later messages, he would explain to his followers, “abrogated” the first set of teachings: the God in whom he believed was perfectly free to change his mind. (Indeed, the Islamic concept of Allah leaves Him quite unbound by reason, logic, self-consistency, or even the duty to keep His promises — only His Will is sovereign, and it’s quite free to prove capricious.)
This article continues at [Stream.org] Among World Religions, Christianity Provides a Middle Way Between Jihad and Pacifism