Clenardus and the Way Out of Islam

When I write that we don’t have much to fear from the Islamic aggressor, one reaction I often get is that I am overly and unduly optimistic, making light of a massive threat. Recently someone paraphrased my position as: “Europeans can go to sleep peacefully tonight.” This is an allusion to what, according to legend, the Dutch Prime Minister Hendrik Colijn said in a radio speech on the eve of the German invasion in May 1940, in a ludicrous world record of false reassurance. In reality he said it years earlier, though on a related occasion, viz. the German remilitarisation of the Rhineland. Moroever, he said it after announcing a partial mobilization of the army, thus presenting the common people’s peaceful sleep as the reward for the vanguard’s vigilance. At any rate, I am not at all saying that Europeans should go to sleep. On the contrary, my position is that we should be alert and outwit the Islamic aggressor.

In this endeavour, we may take inspiration from some of our ancestors, who faced the same problem. Not that they were successful in their counterstrategy, we should learn from their limited results as much as from their correct premises. They had at least got the basics right: the solution for the Islam problem is to liberate the Muslims from the mental prison-house of Islam.

The first Orientalists were Christians trying to re-establish contact with the various Christian churches in the Muslim world, and to lay the intellectual foundations for the conversion of the Muslim heretics. (In Catholic theology, Muslims are not so much pagans, who have never known Christ, but heretics, who have known Christ but embraced a false doctrine about him, viz. that He was a mere prophet and was superseded as such by Mohammed.) The most famous example should be Raimundus Lullus, the polymath from Catalonia who went to North Africa to preach, but died as a consequence of the stoning he received. He is not known to have wrought any lasting conversions.

An example from the Netherlands was Nicolaas Beken Cleynaerts, better known as Nicolaus Clenardus (1495-1542). He grew up in Diest, a town in the eastern corner of Flemish Brabant, now called “Diestanbul” by its fast-growing Turkish community. He spent most of his working life teaching Greek and Hebrew in Leuven University. After studying Quran Arabic on his own, he went to Spain and Portugal to learn spoken Arabic, all while teaching his usual courses. He crossed to Morocco, initially only to get to know the place, but took ill soon. Shortly after his return to Spain, he died and was buried in the Alhambra in Granada. So, mission not accomplished at all. A statue in Diest commemorates him: “Verbo non gladio gentes Arabas convertere ad Christianam fidem nisus est”, “He made the effort to convert the Arabs to the Christian faith with the word, not the sword.”

Preaching on a town square in Tunis or Fez proved to be less than effective as a method to free the Muslims from Islam. Elsewhere, even military conquest rarely proved successful. The Russians left the defeated Tatars and Chechens to their Islam, and the French, British and Dutch colonial policies only strengthened the position of Islam in their respective domains. So in that respect, the past does not offer us much guidance. It is our own job to find better ways of reaching out to the prisoners of Islam. If this lack of alternatives for self-reliance is a reason for pessimism, then please consider that we may not be all that important.

Can’t you feel the impact of knowledge and its novel ways of direct availability in colleges and private homes throughout the Muslim world? The phenomenon of ex-Muslims speaking out openly and informing their stay-behind relatives is slowly but surely changing the ideological landscape of the Muslim world. The attempts by Muslims to present their religion as tolerant and pro-woman are admittedly untruthful but do nonetheless show an impact of non-Islamic values and sensibilities that is bound to increase and hollow out the attachment to Islam.

This wind was already blowing in the colonial age, when a full option for modernization could have been the end of Islam. Through calculations of short-term interest and a lack of ideological focus, the colonial administrators instead chose the way of compromise with the Islamic establishment, thus giving it an unnecessary new lease of life. In the postcolonial age, de-islamization can no longer be imposed from above even if we had wanted to, but it is now growing from inside. It is up to us to find inconspicuous but effective ways of strengthening this tendency. This is an appeal to European alertness and resourcefulness.



I didn’t want to offend you, but I guess Marcfrans is right. A further discussion between the two of us will lead nowhere. We’re too far apart from each other. I’m doing my best to understand people I discuss with. Try to get acquainted with their point of view. But I honestly can’t displace me into the mind of somebody justifying everything what is written in the OT, let alone somebody who is claiming the historical truth of it.


This summer I was standing in a church in San Gimignano, looking at the ancient paintings on the wall together with my little girl of 5 years. It was the story of Job depicted in a sort of cartoon. We were standing at the picture were Satan destroyed Job’s house. You could see chopped off heads and hands, women crying and weeping, children smashed. My girl asked me were the story was about and suddenly I realized how horrible it really was. I made up something. About a disaster happening and God coming to rescue everybody afterwards. What else could I do?



Peter, you haven't hurt my feelings at all. I'm used to criticism and I don't expect anyone to agree with me entirely. I responded to your previous messages because they espoused some very commonly held views and, in my opinion, misconceptions regarding Christianity. They are by no means an attack on your person. I'm quite certain that most of the writers on the BJ do not fully share my religious views. All I expected from you is that you'd direct your answer to myself and that you would at least consider the merit of my response, even if you disagree with some of the religious aspects of what I wrote.

My messages were really concerned with the issues of violence and war and Christianity's take on these issues (i.e. by looking at what the Bible says on the subject). I cited the example of Israel and this and my belief in the historicity of the OT lead you to dismiss my entire discourse. This is very unfortunate indeed since I actually did not refrain from criticizing what some have done in the name of Christianity myself. You then also cited Job in an attempt at demonstrating that the biblical God is not loving. These are very common views and that is why I answered them and tried to offer an explanation of Christianity's understanding of these issues. After all, you wrote about Israel's invasion of Canaan and Job in a way that suggested you thought of them as being historical. If you did not think there was anything historical about them, why would you allow yourself to be bothered by these matters?

If you wish not to continue a discussion, that's fine. But then at least explain to the person who answered you exactly why you wish to discontinue the discussion so you can avoid any misunderstandings. I'm glad that you decided to point out why you wish to discontinue the discussion, and I respect your decision.

Best regards.

'Fair enough


Fair enough, I'll refrain from further commenting on the PR views. A Christianity forgetting the Old Testament (apart from a few peaces that should be taken allegorically) and that focuses on the New Testament is a Christianity I can live with. If we could get rid of some of the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, I might even accept it as the basis of my own culture.

RE: Fair Enough

I have been so kind as to take the time to address various issues you raised and answer them. Now you tell Marcfrans rather than myself that you will refrain from commenting on my views. In other words, you're going to conveniently ignore what I have written because I'm just some kind of a religious nutcase whose writings can't be taken seriously and have no historical basis whatsoever. Well, I'm terribly sorry for having wasted my time answering your misguided beliefs. I will also be ignoring your comments from now because, quite frankly, I have better things to do.

Talking of misguided beliefs, Christianity's basis is neither the NT or the OT but Christ, and we accept God's Word to us in its entirety. There is a historical and theological continuity between the OT and the NT. To take away the Old Testament from the Bible is to take away all of the New Testament's substance. Without the OT, there is no need for a Jewish Messiah, and Jesus Christ is reduced to some fancy moral teacher with no atoning power whatsoever, whose title of "Christ" thus becomes entirely meaningless. Jesus Himself quoted from the Scriptures (what is now known as the OT) during his ministry on earth, and so did St. Paul and all of the Apostles. If you take away the OT, the NT lacks any foundation and hence it becomes null and void. Christianity is not a pick-and-choose religion where you get to select what verses you like and which you throw away, like Thomas Jefferson foolishly did. Of course you're free to do so but I hope you realize that certainly does not make you a Christian.

Plains of Abraham # 3

@ KO

Sorry, KO, there was no "purport" intended with the reference to the Plains of Abraham.  Hopefully you did not wrack your brains over it. 

My explanation goes as follows.  I imagined how Pvdh must have felt after reading Pale Rider's most recent contributions, especially # 3 with its strong Old Testament flavor and its various references to "Abraham".   In Pvdh I (think I) 'recognise' a lot of my own younger self and, undoubtedly, he and I grew up under quite similar cultural circumstances and influences in Flanders.  However, I have the 'advantage' of (1) age (in the sense of being a generation older) and (2) of having grown up in an educational environment which (though under great stress already) was not yet as moral-relativistic as his.  I may be wrong about this, but that is how I see it.  In Pale Rider I see the (still early, but hopeful) beginnings of a new younger generation which is (surprise?!)... rebelling against the flotsam of the preceding generation of (presumed)  'adults'.  Oftentimes the 'old' understand better why the 'young' are rebelling against the in-between generation of 'adults'.

So, I tried to ease the atmosphere by suggesting a vacation to the Plains of Abraham, in order to forestall pvdh from responding to the Old Testament stuff and to the religious beliefs of PR, and to re-direct the focus on what is relevant to the (questionable) message conveyed in Mr Elst's article.   This came to mind because I had recently the opportunity to visit Quebec City again, with its citadel (with the Plains of...) etc...  

Finally,  there are no "hard feelings" among 'real' (identity-conscious) Flemish people about the "great victory of the English over the French" on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec.  The Flemish have benefited greatly from both French and English influences over the centuries, but it seems clear to me that - at least in the past two centuries - the freedom of the Flemish people (such as it is) has been served much better by the English than by the French.  That may well change in the future, though.

To return to that presumed "great victory" on the Plains of Abraham,  right next to those 'Plains' stands the Quebec Parliament.  When I visited it two months ago, I saw only 2 flags flying over the building: the flags of Quebec and of France.  No Canadian, no American and no British flags in sight.  And on the licence plates of the cars on the street one could clearly read: "Je me souviens".

Now, KO, as a good Canadian that you are, could you explain what it is that the Quebecquois are remembering?

Plains of Abraham quatre

Thanks, marcfrans. I was wondering if maybe Wolfe vs. Montcalm was supposed to illustrate the workings of Divine Providence in history. I have not had the pleasure of visiting Quebec City, which I hear is splendid--scene of the wonderful Hitchcock film, I Confess, starring Montgomery Clift and Karl Malden--but I did set foot in Quebec for about 15 minutes during a visit to Ottawa this summer. With all due respect to my Quebecois ancestors, the gyrations of bilingualism the Canadiens have foisted on English-speaking Canada are ridiculous. The whole physical appearance of the city was a Department of Redundancy Department, with its Rue Something Street, its Pont Something Bridge, its Parc Someone Park, the University/Université of/de Ottawa/Ottawa, and so on, and don't forget the double wording of the most elementary traffic commands on their highway signage, which seem to testify rather to the impossibility of bilingualism than its triumph. A mean and petty resentment seems to be willing to seize every possible victory, no matter how small. Of course it is doubtless worth billions to impose French on the second largest land mass on the planet (the new Russia is still bigger than Canada, isn't it?), so it isn't merely a moral victory. The real disgrace is in the British-Scottish-American Canadians, letting themselves be jerked around by the French Canadians, but the French themselves deserve some shame for getting away with it. Though in truth, maybe we in the U.S. deserve no less opprobrium for putting up Spanish signs in all the grocery stores and printing our ballots in 19 languages. If you are thinking that what the French Canadians remember is their defeat on the Plains of Abraham, you are probably correct.

On the subject of movies and French Canada, Black Robe is an excellent treatment of the adventure of Jesuit missionaries among the "First Peoples."

The Plains of Abraham

@ pvdh

Like Bill Clinton "I feel your pain", and I suggest that you take a vacation to 'the Plains of Abraham' in Eastern Canada/Quebec.   Pale Rider has given his own testament to the enduring power of 'faith' in our world, which must come as a bit of a surprise to postmodern Europeans who seem unaware of the 'christian' character or foundation of their own civilisation.  However, Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilisations) wouldn't have been surprised at all.   

Now, seriously, I feared that this is what would happen when you started quoting Old Testament verses.  A generation and a half ago, catholic 'higher' education in Belgium downplayed literal reading of ancient texts.  It stressed the importance of biblical 'interpretation' (translating from ancient to contemporary situations/dilemmas) and the need for attempting to deduce enduring values (for individuals!) from ancient texts.  Your commentary, as that from the typical 'younger adult' in Belgian media today, suggests that this is no longer the case.   

Putting aside the religious aspects (in the sense of 'beliefs related to personal salvation') of Pale Rider's fascinating epistles, let's focus on two important valid points of his. 

- First, he said that you "should not apply modern standards to those (ancient) peoples").  I agree but I would add that we must insist on applying them to contemporary people, and it is those that the article of Koenraad Elst is concerned with.  If we don't, his optimism about the contemporary winds blowing through the Muslimworld may not be justified.  And you, Peter vdh, should stop equating or comparing the god-beliefs of "ancient Israelites" with those of contemporary Bin Ladens, ayathollas or any other radical islamists. You are inappropriately mixing ancient apples with contemporary oranges.   

-- Second, Pale Rider reminded us that the idea of separating religion from the state was essentially a 'christian' idea, and historically achieved in the West.  Instead of blaming 'religion' for this achievement, secular statists like yourself, should be more discerning and be grateful to the christian religion for this (irrespective of watever else they may dislike about that or any other religion).  That would be the proper historical and 'intellectual' perspective.  It's not this or that particular church prelate (who may have opposed separation of church and state) who matters, but rather the gradual realisation of the biblical idea that made it possible.  Furthermore, it helps to underscore/justify the need for limitation of all state power.  If you want people to 'behave' you must strengthen the belief that there is a 'greater'  (superior) power than themselves. This applies even more so to powerful political leaders than to you and me.        

Plains of Abraham bis

Thanks to marcfrans, PR, pvdh and others for their genial comments. Marcfrans, I don't fully understand the purport of your Plains of Abraham reference. Is it because "Abraham" shows that our Canadian ancestors were pious? Over here we know the Plains of Abraham as the site of a great victory of the English over the French--no hard feelings. If you google the Plains of Abraham with "epic poem" you will learn about a young scholar's contemporary poem on the subject.

PR, I believe the promise of Heaven in return for fighting Muslims first came from the great Leo IV, who led the defense of Rome against the Muslim invaders in the mid-ninth century. (Another defensive war.)

The massacres of the Canaanites in Joshua apparently has at least as much theological importance as historical importance, since there are still more than enough Canaanites extant when you get to Judges to give the Hebrews a hard time.

Orosius' Seven Books Against the Pagans was probably the most read history of the world throughout the Middle Ages. Orosius (a Spaniard) was an associate of Augustine's, to whom the African delegated the pro-Christian argument based on secular history which Augustine pursued in the City of God--Charlemagne's favorite book.

I never seem to get a rise from anyone with my inquiries regarding the Frankish antecedents of the Flemings. The linguistic affiliation seems quite close. Are the Flemish more closely identified with the older Batavians, an offshoot of the Chatti? Perhaps the Jutes who allegedly settled Kent had common ancestors with the Flemings? Or maybe dissatisfaction with the troubled Belgian marriage devalues historic ties among the original peoples of the Holy Roman Empire? Best wishes to all.

@ Peter #3

As for the Israelites taking possession of the land of Canaan, perhaps you should read up on the issue before claiming that God committed a Holocaust. The Holocaust was committed by man, but the ancient Israelites were given the land by God. As to why they received the land of Canaan, I will attempt to explain. First, God made a covenant with Abraham that he would receive the land of Canaan (among other things). Second, Canaan, a son of Ham, and his offspring, was cursed (see Genesis 9). The Canaanites themselves had defiled themselves as mankind had done before the Flood with fallen angels, as it evident from the presence of giants in the land as well as the numerous laws in Leviticus against demonic rites and practices (sacrificing children, for instance) which shows that the Canaanites were in every way depraved and evil. The penalty for sin is death. The sins committed by the Canaanites were of such a serious nature that God decreed that they be wiped out from the land of Israel so that the land would be clean and the Israelites would be able to dwell there safely, thus fulfilling the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their offspring.

In the days of Abraham, God also destroyed Sodom and Gomorra due to their abominable practices and sins they committed. The Sodomites even asked of Lot that he give them the men (angels) who accompanied him so they could fornicate with them. Who are you to claim that God was wrong to destroy these evil peoples while He always remained faithful to His chosen people and the Covenant He made with Abraham? Is not God All-knowing and Sovereign? It is clear from the Bible that God has a divine redemptive plan with the world. He became Man and innocently died on the cross for the salvation of many, in the person of Jesus Christ. I don’t think we’ll see this guy named Allah becoming flesh to atone for the sins of mankind any time soon! Lay ambush on the infidels, that's his "gospel"!

As for the book of Job, God allows evil to happen but He is not the author of sin, or else God would not be holy. Satan himself brought dispair upon Job, not God. The world is fallen. God has a redemptive plan with the world but until Judgment Day when God creates a new heavens and earth for His elect, the world will remain in bondage to sin, and good and evil men alike will continue to face hardship. However, God also allows the rain to fall on earth (i.e. to allow for harvest and prosperity) over both good and evil men (or, by extention, nations). The story of Job changes nothing about that.

How all of this relates to the original topic, I don't know. But since you brought it up I thought I might as well try to answer it. I hope we can get back on-topic now.

@ KO: I think much of what I have written here should more or less answer your reply. I agree pretty much with what you have written. I am not opposed to the crusades in principle, although I am sure that you'll understand that I am critical of the atrocities or excesses that were committed by the crusaders, as well as the papal claims that crusaders would get to heaven by participating in the battle against the Muslims. As for Orosius, I'm not familiar with him but thanks for bringing him to my attention.

@ Peter #2

For your information, many Sandinistas in Nicaragua also claim to be [Roman Catholic] Christians but they hold to the plainly heretical Liberation Theology to justify their activities, which even the late pope John Paul II has condemned. The majority of the Germanic tribes that invaded the Roman Empire were Arians who rejected the Trinity and claimed that Jesus is a lesser divinity. And yet they also claimed to be Christians and they forced their subjects to accept their heresy or die.

Western Christianity, despite having defended the truth against the Arians and others, later began to pervert Christianity itself by claiming that people can buy their way into heaven and that the bishop of Rome somehow had primacy over other bishops (in the 19th century this lead to a doctrine that claims the pope is infallible in theological matters). The 16th century Reformers protested against these perversions but they were never allowed to reform the Church as they were excommunicated.

Most Western states in those days had adopted Christianity as the official religion, which replaced their original pagan religions. I do not think that was wrong to do. We can't apply our modern standards to those people. It must have seemed logical and good to them to replace their pagan religion with Christianity. The idea of separating religion from the state was alien to virtually every ancient people I have ever heard of. However, it did lead to a situation where it was possible for the State to commit atrocities in the name of Christianity (invoking the belief that the king derived his power from God, and abusing Romans 13 / 1 Peter 2 to justify their own sins). Certain men manipulated Christianity to accomplish their own goals and to justify their own corrupt rule. That is why others like Samuel Rutherford argued in Lex, Rex that corrupt "Christian" rulers are not devinely appointed, and that rulers must conform to moral law themselves in order to have any valid claim to divine authority. So next time you praise the Enlightenment, do spare a thought for this 17th century Presbyterian preacher and orthodox Christian.

Does the fact that Christianity was abused mean that Christianity itself is a corrupted religion or that all Christian rulers were corrupt? No. It also does not mean that all wars that oficially Christian countries waged against other nations or invading forces were wrong. Were Christian nations somehow to allow themselves to be overrun by hostile invaders? Of course not. What is to be condemned is excessive and unncecessary violence or cruelty. The Allied Forces also committed crimes on the battlefield, does that mean we should have refrained from fighting the Nazis?

On violence & Christianity - time to set the record straight #1

There is no such concept in Christianity as a Christian holy war. This is alien to true Christianity. The Christian is to wage a spiritual warfare armed with the Word of God against false doctrines and man-made religions and the corruptions of his own flesh (2 Co 10). Any notion that the Church is to wage war on infidels and that Christians have the right or the duty to forcibly convert pagans to Christianity, is a damnable perversion of Christianity. Have such things been committed in the name of Christianity and of the Church? Most certainly, yes. Does that mean, however, that Christianity is essentially a pacifist religion and that Christians are therefore not allowed to engage in any type of violence, ranging from warfare to personal self-defense, or that there is no just war? Absolutely not.

As I have written here before, violence is not inherently evil. God commanded the ancient Israelites to take possession of the land of Palestine and to exterminate its inhabitants. And not without reason, because its inhabitants were in every way corrupted. This was God's will for the Israelites. The Mosaic Law did, however, exhort the Israelites to be friendly toward strangers as they had been strangers in the land of Egypt also. The Mosaic Law also clearly condemns theft, envy, corruption, rape, and murder - many of which are punishable by death. Nowhere does the Bible condemn personal self-defense and the protection of one's family, tribe, nation, or one's possessions - even if this involves the killing of the offender. Abraham and his servants were trained in warfare but they did not engage in unnecessary violence (Gen 14). The Bible tells us to avoid violence in general and I believe it does forbid Christians to commit excessive violence or cruelty as well as unnecessary violence and vengeance (Lev 19:17-18, Ps 94, Lk 6:28-30, Lk 18:7, Rom 12:19, 2 Thess 1:7-9, etc etc). In addition, the Bible tells Christians to submit to the lawful authorities and to obey the law (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2), except of course when the authorities defy the law themselves and demands from Christians that they commit things that are contrary to the Christian faith, or that they give up their faith altogether and face execution if they do not. If the Bible told us to blindly obey the nation then there would not be any persecuted Christians and martyrs, for instance the Christian converts in the Islamic World, China, etc.

As far as war is concerned, contrary to what the Anabaptists teach, the Bible does not command or even suggest that a Christian cannot serve in the military. Indeed one of the first Christians we hear of in the Gospels is a Roman centurion (see Matthew 8). When Jesus died on the cross, another Roman centurion confessed that He was truly the Son of God (Matthew 27). Again, Christians must submit to the authorities and the laws that govern his nation. It ends there when the authorities command a Christian to commit sin against God and forsake the Christ and His Church. After all, a Christian is first and foremost part of the universal body of believers which transcends earthly nations; submitting to the lawful authorities does not equal a blind adherence to some nation-venerating political cult (i.e. idolatry). However, this spiritual reality should never be an excuse to deny earthly realities and forsake one’s duties in the here and now.

On violence & Christianity - time to set the record straight #2

Now let’s turn to who or what a true Christian is. A Christian, contrary to popular belief, is not someone who occasionally goes to Church, or who is born in a historically "Christian" nation, or who has received some form of Christian education, or who was baptized into a Church out of mere tradition. In fact, the Muslims and Hindus and many secular people do worship or venerate Jesus in one way or another, but that still does not make them Christians. Why not? Because they deny that they are depraved and lost, they reject that Jesus is the only Incarnation of God, that He lived a sinless life on earth in order to atone for the sins of man, that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way for man to salvation, and that the Bible in its entirity (not just the 4 Gospels) is the infallible and authorative Word of God.

Anyone who rejects any of the aforementioned basic doctrines of the Christian faith is not a true Christian - be it a pope or a bishop, a Hindu, a Muslim, the pastor of an evangelical megachurch, a Jesuit-educated communist, or a person who regularly attends a Church. It does not matter who you are. Anyone who denies one of these basic truths is not a Christian, plain and simple. Being a Christian is not about following the example of Christ. Being a Christian is about believing that one is sinful and lost and that only Christ saves. A true Christian serves Christ as his Lord and his God in all things by the guidance of Scripture and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus is not one of the many “possible” ways to salvation or merely a nice moral example; He is your Savior and God and the head of the Church.

Having said that, how is a true Christian to respond to an Islamic invasion? First, he has to defend the Gospel. This means he is not to deny the Gospel message to the Muslim invaders but has the duty to preach the Gospel to the Muslim whenever he has the opportunity to do so. That is what it means to love and pray for your enemy. That he may repent and be changed. Secondly, the Christian cannot force the Muslim invader to accept Christianity - such 'conversions' are not genuine and have no validity whatsoever, in fact it is downright blasphemic. Thirdly, when under attack, the Christian is allowed to defend his life and he must defend the lives of his family by the use of force if necessary, while shunning excessive violence and not engaging in cruelty or vengeance toward his enemy. Fourth, when he is called to defend his country against the invaders, he should not refrain from doing so, although he has to keep in mind at all times that his first and ultimate duty as a Christian is to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, and that his ultimate allegiance is to Christ and His heavenly kingdom alone.


You’re trying to reserve the term “Christianity” for what you believe Christianity should be. That’s your plain right, but I couldn’t care less. Sometimes I’ve the impression that there are as much Christianities as there are Christians. That makes me think about something Dawkins once said to somebody in his audience: “After all, we are not that much different from each other. Of all the thousands and thousands of religions that have existed and still exist on this planet, I only believe in one less then you.”
But again, to the heart of the discussion: When I speak about Christians, I mean all the people that call them selves Christians. And then I’m not that much interested in the theoretical way they say they would behave, but in how they really behave. After all acts speak louder then words. And as you stated yourself: “Have such things been committed in the name of Christianity and of the Church? Most certainly, yes.” I rest my case.

As to what you believe, I would like to urge you to do some deep digging into your natural, un-perverted conscience:
“God commanded the ancient Israelites to take possession of the land of Palestine and to exterminate its inhabitants. And not without reason, because its inhabitants were in every way corrupted.”
Try to imagine the little children and babies, and the way they were corrupted on the moment of their “extermination”. It has a lot of resemblance to the holocaust, don’t you think?
Anyway, a God that gives Satan the authorization to kill the family of job for no reason what so ever is not my God. Nor can the giving of once daughter for rape against the live of a stranger (Judges 19:24-25) comply with my moral standards. I keep on wondering how people like you succeed in accepting that this could by any means be the words of the loving and caring God.

@ Peter #1

Nothing I have written is in any way theoretical. Everything I have said is found in the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. You should stop calling those who are not Christians by that name instead of claiming that I create my own version of Christianity, when everything I have said is basic Christianity which virtually all Christian denominations will agree upon. However, I will not blame you for being confused. In fact, those who are supposed to preach the Gospel from the pulpit are to be blamed for the fact that many people who are not Christians still think they are, when in fact they are only "Christians" in a cultural sense and are therefore just as lost as the Muslims and others are.

I am not perverting Christianity or creating my "own" Christianity when I say a true Christian is one whose Savior and God is Jesus Christ. Most nominal Christians reject this belief; they think they are Christians but do not even know the basics of the faith. They then go on to claim that those who do know and preach basic Christianity, are just a bunch of intolerant fundamentalists.

A professing Christian is not just anyone who claims to be a Christian. A professing Christian affirms the basics truths of the Christian faith and teaches those truths. These professing Christians are the visible Church and the visible Church does not include those who claim to be Christians while rejecting that there is no salvation but through Christ. Whether all in the visible Church will be saved is another matter entirely, since many of those who profess faith may not genuinely believe, but it is not up to us to decide on that since only God knows the heart.

So what are you actually trying to accomplish by saying that you 'rest your case' in response to my belief that wrongs have been committed in the name of Christ and the Church? That the fact that wrongs have been committed in the name of the Church or Christ makes Christianity evil and corrupt and that because of the shortcomings of man, Christianity lacks any merit over other religions? Go tell that to those Chinese, North Korean, Iranian, Saudi and Afghan converts, many of whom do not even personally know of any other Christian and have no opportunity to go to Church. They face execution or harsh prison camps, and yet the overwhelming majority of them will not give up on their faith.


Very eloquent. I hope PVDH will experience a shiver of recognition when he understands that the foundation of a demanding, pervasive Christianity is what made possible the development of the freer, more individualistic and rationalistic Western society he cherishes. Think of it as a two-story building: the militant Christians have to fight off enemies in the streets so the liberal Christians up above can enjoy their studies. Now and then they look out the window and shudder at what they see down below. In other words, there are different Christian cultures for different phases of civilization, but the more primitive versions cannot be discarded because the threats against which they were effective tend to recur.

I have read that the Christian concept of holy war originated with Charles the Hammer's victory at Poitiers. (Weren't the Carolingians more or less Flemings?) That was a defensive action. The church-sponsored Crusades were also defensive, though they did not immediately follow the Turkish conquest. Offensive holy war is even rarer, but the example of the Hebrew conquest of Canaan is indeed the template.

Are you familiar with Orosius? He contends that Christianity rendered war and invasion less catastrophic than in pre-Christian times.


I agree that religion is very adaptive.  I also agree that religious maxims, and ethical or moral considerations notwithstanding, religious communities must resort to violence in certain instances if the religion and the community are to survive.


Bhuddism will not be extinguished, but Tibetan Bhuddism may be.  A handful of celebrities aside, the peaceful response to Chinese occupation, colonization and cultural destruction, has not made Bhuddism particularly attractive.  Indeed, Tibetan non-violence has only encouraged Han Chinese oppression.


Christianity definitely tends towards peaceful co-existence with other communities, however, the inclusion of various Scriptures (mainly the Old Testament), allow for interpretations that permit crusades against non-Christians and "heretical" sects. 


Your complement is noted and reciprocated.

@ kappert

It is true that a Christian is not precisely a pacifist. He will take military action when he has not seen far enough ahead to prevent the need for violence in the first place. When violence is needed, the genuine Christian leader will fight until he has achieved his goal, and then stop, saddened at the need for bloodshed and with resolve to foresee better into the future. Why can't Taoists agree with that? 

holy duty

Any statistics on war casualties are 'deeply flawed', of course. Yet, in the history of warfare I don't detect much effort for non-violence by the Christian inspired warlords. And Stalin and Hitler were doubtlessly Christians as they were educated in that sense. They indeed relayed on the presupposition of 'moral duty of violence', they even constructed ideologies on it.
PS: what's the contrary to 'naïve over the top'?
He who conquers others is strong;
He who conquers himself is mighty. Lao-tsé


I’m glad to read these optimistic notes, Mr Elst, but I can’t say I full heartedly believe them. History shows that religion comes with waves. Successful religions as Christianity and Islam have built in defense mechanisms that make them adapt at all times. If they hadn’t they wouldn’t have survived for so long. In times the enemies come from the outside, one can read in Bible and Koran verses that call for the destruction of the external enemy. In fact these are the easy times for those religions. Religiosity flourishes in hate for the other. In good times religions show their peaceful faces of non-violence and tolerance. This often leads to a reduced interest in religion, causing a threat from the inside. When the threat comes from the inside, one has often different defense mechanisms. One is called “renewed mysticism”, and is the least harmful of them all. It stems from a refusal to give up the peaceful nature of the religion, but it is mostly not very successful. The other one is fundamentalism and comes with a lot of psychological violence. Indoctrination, reduction of women rights, expelling of the community, hate speech and the creation of external enemies are the most common symptoms. One can trace all these different waves easily in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

I thought as you did that the fruits of science would finally proof to be a working anti-dote against the excesses of religion. Certainly in Europe we witnessed a sharp retreat of religiosity. But religion proves to be much harsher then I thought. New-age religions and fundamentalist churches coming from overseas are on the rise. Suddenly creationism and intelligent design are pushing sound and thorough scientific founding’s as evolution in to defense. I’m not so optimistic as you are Mr Elst. Not for Islam, and not for Christianity.


Wipe out # 3

Apparently, there is here a Western perverse self-hater who seems to think that the leadership of the Japanese Imperial army and the Chinese Politbureau (in Mao's time), as well as Stalin and Hitler, were "Christians".  He/She also seems oblivious to (or ignorant of) the respective contents of the New Testament and of the Koran.

As to the so-called "Iraq war", the same person sheepishly parrots manifestly-false information, and consciously ignores the fact that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi 'victims' were casualties of intra-Arab and Kurdish violence.  But, it is probably true that the Iraq-Iran war (in the 1980's) caused more than 1.5 million victims.    

Finally, any serious moral judgement - not to be confused with citing true or false statistics - about "violence" cannot be divorced from the underlying reasons and purposes of said violence. Sometimes, "violence" can be a moral duty.

C R of V (2)

The answer to your question is to be found in a correct interpretation of the statistics you offer in support of your own anti-Christian and deeply flawed hypothesis.

Christian rejection of violence

Don't make me laugh:
Napoleonic Wars 3,5 million
Crimean War 0,4 million
World War I 22,5 million
World War II 61 million
Korean War 2 million
Vietnam War 4,2 million
Iraqi War 1,32 million
... are there any 'non-christian' comparable figures?

Wipe out # 2

@ Erdebe

It is not clear what it is exactly that you agree with me on.  I certainly do not agree with your message.

My message was addressed to Westerners, not to muslims. And my message was that "Westerners better focus on restoring their own lost freedoms in the West itself and on asserting their own traditional Western values, both at home and in the international arena".   

Wipe out

I agree with marcfrans here. I think its all a bunch of tree hugging hippy crap! The only way to get out of Islam is by its total destruction. I think the solution is to give the muslims the same choice Islam gives us: convert or die!




Whereas Islam endorses killing and violence, Christianity rejects these.  If Christianity informed any of Europe's "wars of religion", it was in a perverted form.

@KA, 4Symbols, JFP: In hoc signo

Christianity rejects hatred of God and hatred of our fellow men, and offers redemption from our sin through the sacrifice of Christ. It doesn't reject killing and violence per se. It doesn't repeal justice or natural law or the nature of the creation, but instead puts us into a true relationship to them. Christians still have their duties of self-defense, defense of others, defense of God's law, and, when called to it, holy war. Love of God and love of your neighbor are the first and second commandments. They do not categorically exclude killing and violence, but mandate that any killing and violence be done in accordance with God's will, God's law, and God's order. In a word, Christianity is not pacifism. It is not liberalism. It is enlightened self-sacrifice.

KA, you are evidently quite a reader. I have recently enjoyed J.M. Wallace-Hadrill's Early Germanic Kingship In England And On The Continent. It touches on the above in the context of the Christianity of early Germanic kings. We need to learn that Christianity is not liberalism to save the West from liberalism, Islam, and general collapse.

holy war

quote: "Christians still have their duties of self-defense, defense of others, defense of God's law, and, when called to it, holy war"

Sometimes the Brusselsjournal makes me laugh, when reading the crap written by monarchist or the naive “over the top” leftist Kappert. Then it makes me thoughtful, like when reading the writings of Marcfrans or even the kapitein, who sounds harsh but would probably not hurt a fly. But once in a while it makes me shiver, like when reading KO postings. He reminds me that the enlightenment our ancestors fought for is in constant danger, and might one day need fighting for again.

fight fire with fire

Western values are being assaulted on two fronts the primary adversary being the invisible chains of totalitarinism that is cultural relativism.  

The second and more tangible adversary is Islam exploiting the moral vacum created by the mockery of christianity and the flight of spirituality, the average European has no concept of religious fervour or of understanding the power of religious extremism and therefore has no way of gauging the mortal danger he now faces. The space where there was once moral fibre now acts like random memory - open to suggestion, volatile and prone to corruption.

The answer maybe to fight fire with fire, religion with religion.





Western disunity

"We don’t have much to fear from the Islamic aggressor."

This is true enough. Our real problem isn't Islam. It is the lack of unity and self-confidence here in the West. A West that was united against Islam, a West that was willing to do whatever it took to prevent Islam from making many inroads here, would not be having these problems. Instead, Islam would be under attack (as Christianity is) from secularists and atheists. Think about how the Han Chinese recently had no hesitation in seeking revenge against Muslims in western China.

But as it happens, many here in the West suffer from guilt about the West and are bending over backwards to help immigrant Muslims (even the reactionary Muslims). And these people aren't the little people who don't have power. They are the ones who control our media and schools. These people got a bit of a shock recently when they realized that it was people like themselves who were protesting against Ahmadinejad in Iran, thus proving that being anti-American doesn't automatically make one a "progresive." But they will soon return to their mindless ways.

The Way Through Islam

Dr. Elst,


Freedom in this instance entails de-constructing Islam.   However, Muslims have not proven particularly keen on defecting from Islam, and the experience of Muslim apostates is indicative of further difficulties.  Firstly, Islam is a force for unity.  Islam bridges divides, and burning the bridges might permit the establishment of liberal Western-oriented enclaves, but beyond these "free cities", anarchy and chaos would reign.  Contemporary Islam cannot prevent Shias and Sunnis from massacring one another in orgies of sectarian violence, nor Salafist and Wahhabist jihadis from plotting revolutionary terror against "sheikhists"; it can only act as a damper.  In the absence of Islam's unifying force, these conflicts will escalate and intensify, and countless "frozen" ones will blaze once more.


Secondly, Muslim apostates tend to embrace atheism or another religion (mainly Christianity), rather than more fluid alternatives pre-dominating in the West e.g. nominal religiousity, agnosticism, etc.  This move from one fixed position to another, suggests that the apostates are uncomfortable with the socio-psychological vacuum that Islam once occupied.  They fill it with atheism or religion.  Atheism is as filling as religion, especially considering atheist apostates' efforts to enlighten their former co-religionists.  Islam therefore defines their lives, whether they are practicing or opposing it.  The process of diluting or moderating Islam suffers from a lack of supporters and in many areas it is still in its infancy.


This leads me to conclude that if de-Islamification is to be successful, re-construction not de-construction is the solution.  Islam must be supplanted by an ideology to which Muslims can transfer their allegiances, but one that enables peace and prosperity not only within and amongst Islamic societies, but also between these and the West.


The notion of a hopelessly fractious Islamic world may be tempting.  But as any coordinated and international Islamic threat is far from existential, the Pashtun clans will remain warlike, the Persians will vie for regional hegemony as before, and the banileues won't improve, the notion quickly loses its appeal.  Which is why I concur with marcfrans that there is no "easy way out".



No easy way out

1)  The article makes clear that Clenardus failed "to liberate Muslims from the mental prison of Islam" in the 16th century, but expresses the belief/hope that contemporary Westerners will be more succesful in that endeavor.  That is a rather optimistic vision, and the empirical evidence to support it seems, at best, mixed. 

If one makes the broad comparison between today and one generation ago, the following trends should be obvious:

-- In the West itself, Islam is more sheltered from criticism today than it was a generation ago.  That is particularly visible in Western Europe were 'speech' is less free today than then.  And, the election of Obama in the US, less than one decade after 9/11, is not a hopeful sign either in that respect. 

-- In the Muslim world, there is little sign of a 'mellowing' of the islamic establishment.  Rather, one sees the opposite in terms of greater accomodation of Islam by (presumed) 'secular' autocrats.

-- In the international arena, particularly within the United Nations and its numerous affiliated institutions,  the growing weight of nonwestern authoritarian regimes and cultures goes hand in hand with an increasing gap between 'words' and 'deeds'.  In fact, the degree of hypocrisy and the abuse and misuse of language has never been greater, since the founding of the UN at the end of WW2.

2)  The thesis that globalisation ("the impact of knowledge", presumably knowledge about the outside world) will eventually lead to more freedom in the islamic world seems remarkably similar to another belief that is commonly (but, I think, mistakenly) held by many Westerners, namely the belief that globalisation (and associated economic growth) would lead to more freedom in the former communist giants, China and Russia.  There is little evidence for the latter.  Just like Marxist leaders make their accomodations (and alliances) with 'big business', so do Muslim autocrats make their accomodations with the clerical establishment.  But, in neither case, is freedom for individuals around the corner in the foreseeable future.

3) One could say that it is largely a matter of time perspective, but that is a cop-out.  The question is whether there are clear signs of progress, and I do not see them in the Muslim and the ex-communist world.  At the same time, there are clear signs of decline in the (former) 'free world' of the West.  Before Westerners can even begin to contemplate to help "liberate Muslims from the mental prison of Islam", Westerners better focus on restoring their own lost freedoms in the West itself and on asserting their own traditional Western values, both at home and in the international arena.       

@ Dr. Elst

I agree 200% with your position, specifically the last 2 paragraphs.
I had to laugh when Wikipedia called Cleynaerts a traveller.