William Kirkpatrick over at the Catholic World Report asks the following question Are We Losing the Apologetics War with Islam? in light of recent lone-wolf terrorist attacks in Canada and the United States, as well as the romance many attach to the depredations of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. One of the Canadian terrorists had this illustration displayed in his Facebook page:
That got me thinking because that very day I stumbled upon this tweet by the Muslim Times on-line publication:
An inspection of The Muslim Times reveals a sober, careful publication not given to extremism but devoted to its point of view. If I were a Muslim, The Muslim Times would be the kind of publication I would support. Still...
It would be easy to dismiss the above two examples as weak, frivolous, even Jack-Chickesque in its tendency for oversimplifying and creating strawmen arguments. If I do that, II wouldn't be saying what's wrong with their argument and this is what's wrong: the Muslim effort does not engage the best Christian reasons for Christ. Instead, the Muslim apologist(s) who designed the above arguments seize hide behind plain language to create "contradictions" in Christology and Christian self-understanding that will make lightly formed, uninformed, and non-catechized Christian stumble and fall. Therefore, the Muslim apologetic efforts targets the shallow Christian as low-hanging fruit for conversion. Sadly, the field is wide open and advantageous to Islamic missionary inroads in our civilization due to our general ignorance about, or repudiation of the historical Christian faith.
Christians have been engaging and refuting these unitarian arguments from non-Christians since apostolic times. Contemporary refutations can be found in the catecheses of St. John Damascene in the East and later in the Middles Ages in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles in the West. The polemic isn't knew. The Muslim critique was answered long ago.
Yet, we are prisoners of our time and age. Most Christians live blissfully unaware about the old responses to Islamic misinformation. Many Christians of all backgrounds feel they must reinvent the wheel. Others will be stumped at the stunning over-simplicity of the Muslim critique.
Brothers and sisters, we must arm ourselves with the Armor of God, standing firm "with the belt of truth buckled around" our waists, with "the breastplate of righteousness" in place,and with our feet "fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." Furthermore, we must "take up the shield of faith" and "the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:14-17, NIV); we must be "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against our good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (1 Peter 3:15-16). This is the only way we can face down the Muslim challenge and win his soul to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Read also The Mind of Islam at the Christ's Faithful Witness blog.