Here is a fascinating audio interview with a man who is documenting the fast growth of conversions by Muslims TO Christianity in EUROPE! In Germany and Austria, Iranians (ethnic Persians) and Afghans are converting in large numbers. Many baptisms are occurring and the trend seems to be growing. Many are from the well-educated classes.
As is common with Non-Western experience, many of these Muslims (as in happening in the Middle East and Africa) are having dreams in which they encounter Jesus. In these cultures, dreams are taken very seriously.
This report is a good counter to the constant Muslim panic that is often in the Christian media. "The Muslims are taking over the world!" "All of Europe will be run by Muslims!" and the hyper-ventilating from commentators like Mark Steyn etc. etc. etc.
These kind of straight-line demographic projections are silly and don't ring historically true.
1) First of all, it works both ways. Christianity can grow (and is growing) in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe amongst Muslims. I find it strange when the Christian media (and Christians) seem to give all of this power and influence over to another religion. It's very ironic when the "Good News" is treated as so fragile it can be easily dismissed by a billion Muslims.
2) Muslim birthrates are slowing dramatically across the Middle East and Asia. From Iran (where they are now asking people to have more babies) to Bangladesh,---birthrates are dropping. Globalization 3.0 (or Hyper-Globalization as I call it) is seeing more women enter into the work force, the Middle Class expand, and the nuclear family get smaller and smaller. This is even happening in Europe, even if Muslim families start from a higher birthrate than the natives.
3) Secularization and materialism is a powerful force on Muslims too! It's not just "Christian Europe" that can see a decline. "Muslim Europe" (and the Islamic world) can also see a decline of religious ferver. Once again, materialism, individualism, and integration often means that the second and third generations of immigrants are not nearly as religious.
4) So why all the hysteria? Because Christian media and the news media spend a lot of time fueling the conflict and ignoring other trends. The real clash occurring in the Islamic world is between an emerging modern Islam comfortable with Capitalism and free markets and a fundamentalist Islam that doesn't know how to integrate into a globalized world. Always painting it as one giant, monolithic Muslim movement is just not accurate. You think it's hard to get an American Calvinist and an American Armenian to agree---try getting 1 billion Muslims to agree! Not going to happen.
Read this carefully: Yes, there is persecution of Christians (and other faiths) by Muslims. Yes, there are conflict zones like Nigeria, the Philipines, possibly Syria in the immediate future where Muslims will wage war on Christians. But this is taking place within a larger context: Islamic people are increasingly living in societies where Islamic Theocracy doesn't work and governments are under great pressure to provide the kind of upward mobility other parts of the world are seeing (China, Brazil, India). Even more difficult for fundamentalist Islam is the fast economic growth of places like Turkey and Indonesia which puts even more pressure on Islamic countries to succeed and not hide behind the Islamic excuse. Furthermore, all of this is displacing tradition hence the counter-reaction of Fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism is an attractive ideology because it's not rooted in concrete realities. It's easy to talk about on the internet or in mosques when you don't have to actually deliver the goods to the people.
Islamic Fundamentalism may win some elections and it may convert some youth and even create terrorist brigades and networks, but it is impracticle in governing and creating the stability that people (no matter what their culture is) crave. Sidenote: And aren't Christians supposed to believe people are by their nature rebellious? So why wouldn't there be rebellion by Muslims against the rigid rules of fundamentalist Islam.
A big question for the whole world in general right now is: What option is there to Liberal Democracy and Free-Market Economics? As messed up as the USA and Europe are right now economically (because of excessive greed and a lack of safeguards--naivete about the justness of the markets), there are no better options. Socialism really doesn't exist anywhere anymore but in North Korea and Cuba---and there are now signs that North Korea is prepping the way for a turn toward China-style economic integration. This is where Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" thesis becomes relevant again. There's capitalism and what else? There's free-market economics and what else?
Islamic countries are running out of options. It was easier to try and have theocracies instead of democracies when Islamic countries were barren places devoid of much connection to the global world and unable to build modern economies. But 20th century modernization and globalization have changed that . We do have Islamic Democracies (Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey) however non-Western they may be. Indonesia, Turkey, and Pakistan have all had women leaders unlike the United States. Quite a few "Islamic nations" already have pretty secular populations who would rather party that pray.
In Passport of Faith, I wrote about the inevitable counter-action to globalization which occurs, and Islamic fundamentalism is going to be (and is) a tool in that counter-action. But just as Christendom was bound to end up in secularization and cynicism, so will the forced institutionalization of Islam.
This Civil War within Islam may last a generation or several hundred years, but we shouldn't think the outcome is so easily predictable and that militant Islam is an unstoppable force. As the audio shows, other forces (yes, including Jesus) are at work in the world.
THANKS to Pastor Obrad Nikolich in Serbia for forwarding this link to me.