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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2007
I've read the previous two books on Islam by Robert Spencer, both of which were very good. I thought this one wasn't so good; or at least not as good as it should have been.

The purpose of the book is to refute the notion that Islamic apologists often make: that even if Islam is violent, Christianity is no better. Spencer covers contemporary cases as well as historical and theological ones in debunking this myth.

However, it seemed shorter on genuine scholarship than the other books, and is loaded with polemic about how liberals don't recognise the threat posed by Islam, etc. I don't disagree with this, but Spencer spends more time telling us that liberals are wrong than he actually does telling us WHY they are wrong. The first three chapters are all dedicated to pretty much the same topic, and most of those pages are simply spent quoting people whose opinions Spencer disagrees with. It is only towards the end of chapter three that he begins to attempt to refute any of these views. I don't know why three chapters were necessary to do this.

I also felt that there wasn't enough time spent on outlining Christian teachings regarding violence and how they have traditionally been interpreted. Spencer does it in a generalised way, but I didn't think it was in-depth enough to be beyond scrutiny. I am not a Christian; I am an atheist who is not well-versed in Biblical knowledge so I think more coverage of this area should have been included.

On a positive note, Spencer usefully also includes sections comparing Islam and Christianity when it comes to their approach to science and their treatment of women. While not strictly related to war and violence, they do reflect what the West might become if it was to succumb to the threat of sharia imposition. I assume this was the point of including these things.

But another complaint I had was that many parts of the book were devoted to repeating large portions of his previous books. And I don't mean just covering the same material - I mean literal word-for-word copies. This seems counter-productive, repeating the teachings of Islam which he has covered well enough in previous books when he could have been outlining Christian teachings in more detail.

Overall, a bit of a disappointing effort in relation to previous works by the author. However, I would still recommend that anyone with an interest in defending Western freedom and values read it. The book does make several good points. But I expected better from Robert Spencer.
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on 22 August 2007
Robert Spencer is a keen observer of Islam, and has been quite prolific, turning out a number of excellent books warning us about the danger which militant Islam poses. As he and others are want to point out, while there may be many moderate and peaceful Muslims, the real question is, what about Islam itself? Is it indeed a religion of peace, or is it in fact a religion fully compatible with, and the theological ground for, Islamist violence?

And how does Islam compare with Christianity on a number of key points, such as the nature of democracy, the treatment of women, and freedom of conscience? In all these areas, Spencer demonstrates that there is a very wide gulf indeed between the two world religions.

Consider just one important difference: the broader issues of politics, democracy and freedom. Leftist, secular critics argue that both radical Islam and conservative Christianity seek to impose a theocracy on the free West. They are half right. The Islamists are absolutely dedicated to this aim. The imposition of sharia law over the entire globe is clearly at the forefront of the Islamist agenda.

Indeed, leading Muslims are quite unguarded about their intentions here. Spencer sites many of these leaders, and their clear aims to wage holy war against all unbelievers, until a universal Islamic caliphate is established on planet earth.

In contrast, where are the Christians calling for an end to democracy and the establishment of a theocracy? In response, the critics usually point to the Christian Reconstructionists. But what about them? They are for the most part few in number, and hardly mainstream in the Christian community.

They are mainly confined to the United States, and there are plenty of leading Christian groups which have distanced themselves from the Reconstructionists. And there certainly is no global movement to replace secular law with Biblical law. By contrast, Islamist jihad is an international movement, with activist elements working to achieve their aims around the globe.

As Spencer notes, even if some Christians are arguing for a Christian America, they state that this is to be a voluntary outcome, achieved by Christian evangelisation and Christian persuasion. This is hardly at odds with the Constitution, as Spencer reminds us.

And for all the scare-mongering about the Christian Reconstruction movement, many associated with this group are really on about such harmless agendas as getting Christians to vote, and raise their voices in the public arena. This is clearly not an anti-democratic crusade.

And it was really Christianity that gave the modern world the notion of the separation of church and state. This goes straight back to the words of Jesus, when he said that we should render unto Caesar his due, and render to God his due. There has been a long Christian tradition of the concept of the two swords: the state and the church. Each is ordained by God, and each has its own sphere of authority and influence.

The fact that these two spheres may have become confused at times, or seen as one on occasion, does not minimise the basic Biblical position that the two are to remain separate, yet overlapping, authorities. This of course is quite the opposite of Islam. There is no separation of church and state in Islam. There is no secular sphere in Islam. All of life must come under sharia law and the will of Allah. That is why true democracy is hardy achievable in Muslim nations.

Spencer argues that even those Muslim states where democracy is more or less in place, such as Turkey or Indonesia, are a far cry from Western democratic nations. While Muslims enjoy the full range of rights and benefits in Western nations, Christians are at best second class citizens in so-called Islamic democracies. Persecution of Christians in Turkey and Indonesia is an ongoing problem, and their condition of dhimmitude, or servanthood, is well documented in such nations.

Spencer examines quite a few other major areas, and finds very clear differences between Islam and Christianity. In an age that seeks to minimise differences in the name of tolerance and getting along, this can only result in the denigration of Western democratic freedoms, and the blunting of a necessary criticism of Islamist jihadism.

There is a real war going on, and there is a real clash of civilisations occurring. Says Spencer, this clash between the Judeo-Christian worldview and that of Islam is about "two fundamentally opposed visions for society: one based on sharia - a true theocracy - and the other based on freedom".

And Spencer reminds us that Islam means submission, and that all people are to be the slaves of Allah. Jesus made a radically different claim: "I no longer call you slaves ... But I have called you friends." (John 15:15)

Freedom and responsibility characterise the Judeo-Christian view of personhood. Servitude and tyranny are the inevitable results of the Islamic worldview. The two could not be further apart, and it is time that these distinctions are heralded, instead of being covered up by the Christophobes and the appeasers of Islam. As such this book deserves a wide reading.
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on 17 December 2014
As described. arrived quickly. No problems.
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on 8 March 2015
Some very good points in the first half of the book, exposing the violent and totalitarian nature of Islam, through a textual analysis. However, this is then spoiled in the second half by the author's clearly prejudiced approach.
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on 29 September 2015
Complete Trash
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on 1 September 2015
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on 25 October 2007
So lacking in basic academic credibility as to be unfit for normative criticism! The work is a prime exemplar of invalid argumentation showing a singular lack of detailed hermeneutics, comparative scriptural exegesis and fallacious assertions, arrived at through opinionated omission, and inexcusable lack of logical rigour. Mere opinion that is indicative of Spencer's dogmatic adherence to a theory that has no epistemological basis. Loaded prose, with pitiful analysis and obtuse omission. Lachrymose!
55 comments|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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