Rethinking Religious Moderation

In Ekklesia, Colin Morris takes a closer look at religious “moderation”.

Whenever stories about our Muslim citizens hit the news, the very complex world of Islam tends to be reduced to two simple categories – moderate Muslims (good), extreme Muslims (bad). But that’s a political judgement made from the outside, often based on some notion of security risk. As a religious judgement, it just won’t do.

Put the boot on the other foot. Talk instead about moderate and extreme Christians. What does it mean to be moderately Christian when you are a follower of one who said you must lose your life in order to save it; that the social order will be turned upside down; that those who seek to do you harm must be loved and cherished. If that is moderation, what is extremism?

Indeed, if you looking for Christian extremists, go no further than the nearest Society of Friends (Quakers). A more respectable group of people you couldn’t hope to meet, but on one issue they could be judged extreme – however patriotic they are, they won’t take up arms to fight for their country. They’ll die for it, but they won’t kill for it. And in times of war, Quakers and other pacifists have gone to gaol for their extreme views.