6/18/2014—Karl Barth once said, I can only repeat myself. Of course, he had a deep reason for saying this—he was simply witnessing in different ways to the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ as God for us. So, it was always this story—what other story could it be?
I am also going to repeat myself. If you search this site for the phrase Wars of Religion—the endless fighting primarily between Catholics and Protestants in Europe that occurred between the beginning of the Reformation in 1517 and the Peace of Westphalia in 1648—you will find that since 2009, I have pointed out the similarity between that era of religiously motivated war and the current violence in Islam. The sectarian slaughter in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites, makes that analogy quite clear.
But I have been utilizing that analogy for a different reason than just suggesting that there has been violence in Christianity also. Rather, I have been looking at the consequence of the Wars of Religion. That consequence is often told in American law—exhausted by the Wars of Religion, people decided on two responses that turned out to be related. First, the separation of church and state, which took different forms. Even in countries that maintained established churches formally, the rights of citizens and the business of government were no longer wrapped up with religion. Second, more generally, secularization. Essentially, after the Wars of Religion, people decided they could not trust Christianity. Christianity had proved to be a problem for humanity rather than a solution.
And so it will be with Islam. First, Muslims will decide that political life has to be separated from religion. Muslim countries will still be Muslim, but political life will be taken away from the clerics. Second, more Muslims, especially among the young, will question whether Islam could really be true, when its most committed followers are engaging in cold blooded murder.
How long does this take? Consider how Europe looked in 1648, compared to 2014. How long did the process of separation and secularization take? For Islam it will be much faster. I bet the trends will be evident by the end of this century.