How stable is multi-religious society?

Brambonius Cools commented on Facebook: ‎”I have read the entire Qur’an and can find no guidance in it on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society. I have read the entire New Testament and can find no guidance in it on how Christians should live as a majority.”

I must confess I have never read the Qur’an in full. But it struck me as a very thought provoking comment. How do Christianity and Islam differ in their views on society and the social location of the faithful community? And how may these views play out and interact in a multi-religious society like our own?

5 thoughts on “How stable is multi-religious society?”

  1. Deep down I knew that one day someone would say something sensible on FaceBook. Now for twitter… *sighs in vain hope*…
    He has made the vital point about Christendom though; Christianity was critiqued by Porphyry and Celsus at “not good for society”, meaning not good for the Roman system; “No, we’re pro-Roman,” they replied. And they were, since the alternatives were other imperial structures (and an extra charge of treason). There had never been the kind of options we now think it axiomatic that they should have taken.
    I sometimes try to reconstruct history to see what would have gotten us to the current point sooner. But I think Rome was already in decline by 300, and convictions about the desirability of the order of civil society meant it had to be defended (Augustine is particularly illuminating on this). It was 1200 by the time they recovered anything equivalent to was lost; but by then Islam had replaced the Vandals as the external fear, and Scholasticism was being built on Aristotle, so civil order was more important (theologically) than even for Augustine, and heresy became an internal political fear. The first opportunity for something like a secular democracy would have been the 1500s if Reformation humanism (my term) had taken hold; but the political tug-of-war between the European states made systemic change impossible. I think the turning point was the development of Toleration (of private belief) in England; but from there it took 200 more years for anything like disestablishment to take effect; the underlying Christendom conviction still held: that an attack on politically established Christianity would imperil society. For the church the effects of disestablishment are (a) a decline in the high rates of nominalism or cultural adherence; (b) a return to an NT framework of operating as outsiders in a pluralistic world; (c) fewer accidental conversions through Christianity being simply part of the furniture. But it’s far from clear that authentic faith was ever mainstream, even under Christendom.

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  2. Too many twits on twitter. It seems almost purpose built for disseminating trivialities. Check out this Twitterized spoof of the Facebook movie –


    I agree that it’s far from clear that authentic faith was ever mainstream, even under Christendom. People forget that Paganism persisted in Lithuania up till the 14th Century, in Iceland up till the 16th Century, and that even in supposedly Christianized nations much of the folk religion would these days be described as split-level Christianity (i.e. a syncretistic mish mash that was part Pagan, part Christian). Of course, we’re syncretistic in our own way aren’t we! We just give our alt Gods technical names like “Market Forces.”

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  3. It was not my own words, but a quote from an article by Philip Yancey, who met a muslim who told him this. so the quote is from a muslim actually, and not from a christian. Which makes it more interesting…
    I didn’t read the whole qor’an myself(and I wouldn’t understand it like a muslim would if I did, since I do not understand the old arabic langguage with its related concepts and paradigm) but what I know from Islam is indeed that they do not separate ‘mosque and state’ and their perspective of ‘Dar-el-Islaam’ seems to strive towards a dominant islamic society.
    what I did read is the NT, and some bits of the oldest church fathers, and they start from a minority position, and instead of wanting everybody to become Christians the christians of the first centuries actually made it very hard to join them.(Which changed around the time of Constantine, and the rest is history…)
    But if a muslim is able to see this in the NT, why aren’t so much christians?

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