Future Remains Clouded for the Christian Copts in Egypt
value beyond absolute obedience to Allah's capricious will. So Muslim law, for instance, is not necessarily tied to human experience or objective reality or truth or reason. Consequently, Muslim law does not concern itself much with individual rights. Nor does it generally contain well-defined rules or precedents. This allows Muslim lawmakers and judges much discretion, as we have seen.
Postmodernism in the West does not acknowledge Islam's all-powerful God, or any other god for that matter, yet it parallels an Islamic world view in some significant ways. Like Islam, Postmodernism sees the world as unknowable. There is no one truth. Truth is relative, if there even is such a thing. So it is not important to seek truth. Instead of truth, Postmodernism seeks power that is unrestrained by moral limitations and can be exercised arbitrarily just like Islam's all-powerful God.
Although they come from opposite ends of the spectrum, both Islam and Postmodernism arrive at a view of reality which is essentially irrational and amoral. Reilly says that both Islam and Postmodernism (secularism, socialism, liberalism, etc.), demand that reality conform to their world view. He also says they both seek earthly utopias through politics and stringent control of the population.
Christians, on the other hand, have a profound belief in a universe that is objectively ordered and intelligible. It is a universe created by an all-powerful but loving God, the triune God. Therefore, Christians believe that the universe is objectively real and that much can be known about it through the use of reason and that it is basically good and filled with beauty.
Furthermore, Christians seek to understand their faith through reason. The Christian faith is not just about great mysteries and life after death; it also speaks of our nature and our relationships with each other, and it sees intelligible order in both. We call this order natural law, and it attests to our dignity as moral beings with inherent rights. Human beings are not the puppets of capricious, amoral gods. Nor are they mere products of evolution which can be molded by the postmodern, secular state into whatever it wants.
I see a time coming when more and more people around the world will demand to be ruled based on objective truths which they can come to know through reason and freely submit to, not out of fear, but out of admiration and loyalty to the goodness and beauty of those truths. This, then, is the real hope that I see for the Copts.
The Copts have displayed great courage time and time again. This was evident as thousands of Copts risked their well-being and possibly their lives when they demonstrated this past week in front of Egypt's High Court and demanded justice for their fellow Copts from Abu Qurqas who were condemned to life in prison. But they can do only so much in such a hostile society, and greater hostility is likely after the runoff elections for president in a couple weeks.
Islamists have already gained control in parliament, and their candidate is leading in the presidential election. It is believed that an Islamist government will institute sharia law in Egypt, which is highly discriminatory of non-Muslims. So the Copts are not in a position to effectively advocate for change despite their heroic efforts.
However, Christians in the West are in a position to help: if not directly, at least indirectly. This is especially true for Christians in the United States. In addition to prayer--prayer always comes first--it would seem that one of the best things we can do to help the Copts is to protect a Christian mindset in our own country from the ravages of Postmodernism.
Our country was founded in large part on the Christian mindset mentioned above. Our constitution is based on an objectively ordered view of the world and reason. And the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence specifically mentions the natural law. If this mindset is allowed to be extinguished in the most powerful country in the world, then it is unlikely it could take hold in Muslim society. More likely is that the world would plunge into a darkness filled with opinion, sophistry, myth, and fantasy for generations.
If we show just half the courage our Coptic brothers and sisters have shown, then we can protect a Christian mindset and the light which it brings to the world. To do this, we need to stand up for truth, goodness, justice and beauty every chance we get. We also need to show strong support for leaders who will stand up for these values and oust those who do not.
While this mindset and its light will not guarantee a better life for the Coptic Christians in Egypt, it is absolutely essential because it provides the foundation for a better life. So, in this respect, just by protecting a Christian mindset in the United States, we can help keep hope alive for the Copts and all Christians and people of goodwill around the world.
Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Christian, Coptic, Persecution, Elections, Egypt, United States, Michael Terheyden
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