By Gordon L. Heath
Christians in Europe find themselves between “a rock and a hard place” when it comes to responding to the recent arrival of large numbers of Muslims into Europe.
As I noted in a previous blog, Christians alarmed by the growth of Islam in Europe need to avoid looking to the far right for security. That way is fraught with peril, for, as I said then, the “enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.”1
A different danger is on the left. The danger in that direction is to live in a make-believe world, trusting the meta-narrative that all is well, the sky is blue, and nothing can go wrong with the arrival of millions of Muslims in the West. European politicians like Germany’s Angela Merkel are to be commended for their humanitarian impulse towards refugees during the recent (and ongoing) crisis. However, minimizing or entirely downplaying any problems due to the migration of people is living in a Pollyanna world. The inescapable fact is that power dynamics between groups significantly change when demographics significantly change. It always has and always will. It is naive to think otherwise. Politicians do not serve their people well unless they temper their idealism with a healthy dose of reality.
The options for those living in an increasingly post-Christendom Europe may appear to be fraught with danger. Of course, ultimately it is the responsibility of government to deal with the vexing complexity of policies related to refugees, immigrants, and migrant workers. However, Christians have a critical role to play in the midst of the contemporary angst over such issues.
In what ways does the Christian faith inform a response to Europe’s crisis? The answer to that question requires much more than a brief blog. But suffice it to say that at the very least it should compel Christians to shun the hate and naivety of both right and left. At best, it provides a calm, thoughtful and prophetic voice in the midst of often heated rhetoric. Furthermore, it nurtures a vibrant commitment to Christ and his mission and develops a robust theology of citizenship that compels churches to be marked by practical acts of love and assistance for all who live in their midst, including newcomers.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of McMaster Divinity College or the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.*