The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent
My most important book, The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent—an informed response to Islam’s war with Christianity, was released by Harvest Publishers early in this new year.
I began writing this book several years ago after Rebecca and I toured Turkey, visiting the cities where the seven churches of Revelation were located. Of course, those churches disappeared in the early centuries, but Turkey (biblical Asia Minor) maintained a distinct Christian presence until Islam came and conquered the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453. Churches were destroyed or transformed into mosques; Christians either converted to Islam or became slaves to Muslim masters, while others chose to die as martyrs.
Islam has triumphed in Turkey. While there are pockets of Christian believers, and a few public Christian ministries, the mosques, with their tall minarets, dominate every town—not churches. One day in Turkey I had the privilege of having a devout Muslim as a guide who was very kind and knowledgeable. He told me privately that Christianity showed its superiority over paganism by conquering it; in the same way, Islam showed its superiority over Christianity by being able to conquer and replace it. His point was that if anyone wondered whether Islam was superior to Christianity, all they had to do is look around and see Islam’s obvious triumph.
This troubled me deeply because it appeared as if the crescent was more powerful than the cross; it appeared as if Mohammed had triumphed over Jesus. As I reflected, I already knew that most of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East were at one time Christian—at least nominally, for example, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and of course, Turkey, to name a few. Today in these countries the church has, for the most part, been obliterated.
So, I asked God for wisdom to answer questions such as: what do the non-existent churches in these regions have to say to Western Christians? Does Islam’s impressive triumphs prove its superiority as a religion? And finally, what should we be doing now in light of Islam’s agenda for America?
Thus began the journey of writing The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. I wrote with a burden to awaken our churches to the reality of what’s around us, and share what we can do to prepare for the terrible storm that I believe is coming our way.
If the levees had held, the ferocious hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005 might not have been the catastrophe it turned out to be. But when the levees gave way, there was nothing that could be done to contain the damaging flood.
Only the church can hold back the storm that, even now, is on our horizon.
Jesus speaks to us, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2).
Will the levees hold? If not, the history of the Middle East might become our history, too.
Preparing to Meet the Challenge of Islam.
Could Islam truly overcome Christianity and our churches be transformed into mosques? We sat down with Pastor Lutzer to discuss his new book The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent, and his burden about Islam in America.
Q: What troubles you most about Islam in America?
A: Most people don’t realize it, but the U.S. has basically entered into a covenant of submission to Islam. Hospitals and even some churches have removed crucifixes and crosses because Muslims complain that these symbols are offensive; public tax dollars are used to build prayer rooms for Muslim students in our schools; and there’s a push for civil cases to be tried under sharia law (without opportunity to appeal decisions at a higher, outside court), something that Muslim enclaves in Europe (the U.K. in particular) already have on the books. The list of concessions could go on and on.
But this pales in comparison to other concerns I have…
Q: Such as?
A: Freedom of speech is under attack. For years, Islamists have tried to get the United Nations to implement a Hate Speech law that would make all criticism of Islam a crime. This received new impetus due to an amateur video that supposedly triggered riots throughout the Middle East, including one which killed our ambassador and his associates in Libya. The man who made this video was publicly arrested and imprisoned (it is questionable whether or not this was for a parole violation!).
I decry the fact that anyone would mock another person’s religion, but by disregarding this man’s first amendment rights, a dual message was sent: the U.S. is complying with radical Muslim insistence that nothing should ever be done or said that’s offensive to them, and secondly, Americans might be punished for such acts. Think of those here in America (some of whom I know) who have thoughtfully exposed Islam and must now live in “secure and undisclosed locations.” Even without hate speech laws, the U.S. has chosen self-censorship and never speaks critically of Islam, but only praises its accomplishments. All of this is chilling.
Q: Frequently we hear that we have nothing to fear from Islam because most Muslims are peace loving.
A: I do not paint all Muslims with the same broad brush. Not all Muslims share in the Islamist agenda for America. However, this is of small comfort because the radicals set the agenda for Islam, not the peace loving Muslim family that lives in your neighborhood. In my book, I reveal the plans of the Muslim Brotherhood for America and how they intend to accomplish their objectives. I believe that if Christians knew about the infiltration of the Brotherhood into our national security, children’s textbooks, media, and finance, they’d be on their faces crying up to God.
Q: What do you say to those who’ve said that, “even if what you’re saying is true, it shouldn’t be said because it makes it more difficult for Christians to witness to Muslims?”
A: I respect the question. Yet, I believe that love and truth should never be enemies. I believe that the time has come to candidly expose Islam’s agenda for America without succumbing to or stirring up fear or hatred. In fact, the more we know about Islam (its treatment of women, how it holds its adherents in the grip of fear of apostasy, etc.), the more we should be driven to compassion for Muslims.
Q: So, what should the church be doing now?
A: That’s not easy to answer in a few sentences, but (1) we should be building a community of mutual respect with our Muslim neighbors, and (2) we need a concerted educational campaign in our churches and Christian schools to help us understand Islam, its founding documents, plans for us, etc. And finally, (3) we must work intentionally to develop courageous Christians knowing that our children and grandchildren might be called upon to die for being true to the Gospel. The lessons of the countries of the Middle East and the transformation that’s happening in Europe should not be lost on us.
The book I have written is expressly intended to prepare us for the challenging days ahead.
These messages, based on the book of Romans, show that in the gift of salvation we see God at His best; the cross is God’s farthest outreach to us. Here we see the full range of His attributes, all converging together in an ambitious rescue plan for us as sinners. The overriding message of the series is that when we understand the Gospel properly, we see why we need it every single day—not just on the day of our salvation. We must depend on Christ to represent us to the Father daily, hourly. There is hope for great sinners and instruction for struggling saints.