Monday, March 27, 2017

Rod Dreher And His Muslim "Brother"

Rod Dreher, the author of the book many are breathlessly calling the most important book this decade and doing so in complete seriousness, The Benedict Option, has spent a lot of time over the last year or so pushing his book as the only possible way forward for the church. At the same time and more so as reviews started coming in he has also lashed out, in increasingly strident language, against  those who were insufficiently impressed with his book. I am going to read it once it becomes available from our library, if only to interact with it as it is so widely cited, but I am deeply unconvinced that Rod has the right prescription for the church.

Anyway, I wasn't really planning on writing more about the BenOp until I had the chance to read it but it turns out that I kind of feel like I need to point something out he just wrote over the weekend. The title of the article is sort of innocuous: A Muslim Reads The Benedict Option  and the content is largely inoffensive until you get past the part that the Muslim wrote and read Rod's haughty, belligerent and yet very, very telling comments at the end. Here they are:
How is it that my Muslim brother Kamran understands The Benedict Option better than some Christian reviewers?
How is it that I suspect I have more in common with him on the subject of holiness and faithful living than with a lot of Americans who call themselves Christian but who seem to be well assimilated to the secular, consumerist order?
Whatever the answers, I’m so grateful to him for this letter, and for the possibilities it signals of religious collaboration across lines of faith.
My Muslim brother. Assuming that Rod and Kamran Hashim are not blood relatives and it seems clear that Rod is not using the word "brother" in the sense of a universal brotherhood of mankind, what exactly is the source of the alleged "brotherhood" between a Muslim and a "Christian"? This is the comment that I left on the article, it is awaiting moderation which makes me suspect it will never make it on the webpage.
Your Muslim "brother". The term brother, apart from actual blood relatives, carries a great deal of theological meaning for Christians. It invokes a sense of unity in the family of God. Any Muslim who actually believes his faith is by definition not a brother of anyone who is an actual Christian because their religion denies the divinity of Christ. I am sure you know this which makes me wonder why you would refer to an unbeliever and blasphemer as your "brother" other than his glowing praise of your book?
A Muslim doesn't not recognize Jesus as the Christ. As such he denies not only Christ but the Father who sent Him (John 5:23). In no respect is a Muslim, even a really nice and devout and moral one, my brother. This is where Rod has gone completely off the rails. A Muslim or Mormon or Jew that shares my political viewpoint and is a moral, "holy" person is not my brother in any sense. An actual regenerate believer in Christ who is not as morally upright and personally holy as he ought to be, just as I am not, is my brother. I am not one to shy away from calling out the church, starting in my own home, for being too cozy with the world but that doesn't mean that I stand arm in arm with a Muslim blasphemer while pointing an accusing finger at my brothers in Christ and rail against them "Why can't you Christians be more like this Muslim!?".

What is really on display here is that we see yet again that Rod Dreher, for all his eloquent writing and his book deals, doesn't really understand Christianity at all. This is not surprising, he was formerly a Roman Catholic and is now Greek Orthodox so he is deeply immersed in aberrant theological traditions and he frequently mentions that he doesn't understand evangelicalism, or as I like to call it "Christianity". What it does mean is that anyone who is a Christian that relies on or too heavily encourages others to rely on The Benedict Option as the way forward for the church should keep in mind that there is rarely a good reason for the church to take advice from someone outside of the church. As I wrote in a prior post on the BenOp, The Benedict Option And The Future Of The Church: We Should Look Back But Where And When Is The Real Question:
As Christians we need to be very careful that when we read someone like Dreher, and I intend to once the book is available at our library, that we do so understanding that he is a fellow American, a conservative, a thinker and a devoutly religious individual deserving of no small amount of respect but he is not our brother
That may seem harsh but it is simply the truth.

From what I can tell, Rod's entire relationship with this guy, Kamran Hashim, who in a likelihood is a nice fella, is based on a letter Rod got from him about The Benedict OptionIf Rod truly thinks that a Muslim is his brother, based apparently on some shared moral convictions and the Muslim's glowing review of his book gleaned from a letter, then it is just as clear that Rod is not my brother and that Rod doesn't understand much about Christianity, about the church or about the Bible. He is hardly alone in this but not many people who are as clueless as he is about these questions is given so much praise and such heartfelt recommendation as an expert by so many Christians. Someone who doesn't understand why a Muslim is not and cannot be the brother of a Christian has no business presuming to speak on behalf of the entire church, a church he is apparently not part of and hasn't a clue about. 

If you read The Benedict Option, I recommend you read it through the same lens I will: it is a noteworthy book about religion and politics in America but it is not a book written for Christians by a Christian. 

1 comment:

Aussie John said...


Excellent comments and I'm thankful to read a Christian saying what any genuine Muslim will say, "A Muslim doesn't not recognize Jesus as the Christ. As such he denies not only Christ but the Father who sent Him (John 5:23)".