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Book Review: No, We Can’t: Radical Islam, Militant Secularism and the Myth of Coexistence by Robert Stearns

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No, We Can’t — the title of Robert Stearns’ latest book — prompts the question, no, we can’t what? His thesis is that we can’t continue on the West’s (and particularly the United States’) path toward co-existence, the attempt to accommodate three competing worldviews (Radical Islam, Militant Secularism, and Judeo-Christianity) and maintain a free society.

He builds his argument by first defining and exploring each belief system (he calls them “houses”). He delves into the role each plays in our society now, the history of each, and their respective forms of spirituality. Along the way he makes many startling observations. Here is a sampling:

“Radical Islam is the dominant force within Islam, and it will never peacefully coexist with the non-Muslim world or with Muslims of different beliefs. All radical Muslims believe in fighting until their version of Islam conquers the world.”  (p. 111)

“…humanism has grown and flourished in the nation enjoying all the benefits of a traditional religion without experiencing any of the restraints placed upon conventional faiths.”  (p. 119)

“…the Judeo-Christian worldview is the best possible means of providing a platform of liberty for the human race.”  (p. 165)

The final two chapters help us to see that Stearns’ motive in writing so provocatively about Islam and Secularism is not to stir up within the Judeo-Christian house hatred toward or fear of Muslims or secularists. Rather, it is to arouse Christians to pay attention to the quality of their own faith.

He challenges readers to become familiar with the Bible, to pray, support Israel, and to live life alert to what is happening in the world around them. As each sincere follower of Christ seeks to do his or her part in influencing the world, Stearns suggests: “God will give us favor, inventiveness, wisdom and strategy if we put our faith in Him alone. We should be people of influence…”  (p. 191)

I found No, We Can’t eye-opening and disturbing.  Stearns clearly articulates aspects of both radical Islam and secularism that I have suspected but never faced head-on or heard anyone else say. As Robert Morris states in the book’s Foreword: Stearns’ message “…is not easy and comfortable and … will not be popular. It is nonetheless timely, perceptive and accurate.” (p. 12)

I would recommend No, We Can’t to Christians of all denominations who support coexistence as the desirable way to maintain a free and democratic society. They will probably come away, as I did, with the conviction that it isn’t even possible.

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About Violet Nesdoly

  • Damien

    I’ll try not to be unpolite. The militant view within Islamism is the same the Judeo-Christian world held for almost 2000 years. I haven’t read the book (and I assure you I would do it) so I can’t comment on Stearns’ view of secularists, but I highly doubt that they pose a threat, if not for the fact that they may prevail sometimes soon, because history proved that cults and faith evolve, change and even disappear. To think that the only way is opposition and not integration is pure madness, if you ask me.

  • http://vnesdoly.blogspot.com violet

    Thanks for your moderate tone, Damien. In answer to your objections, I will let Stearns speak for himself:

    “Secularism is a scourge on society in that it deprives cultures of their spiritual beliefs while replacing them with its own … humanism is actually a religion, but one that poses as a secular force so that it has a broader sphere of influence. Once it has gained the upper hand by painting ‘religious’ people as dangerous extremists, it is free to dominate prevailing culture with mores that match its unprincipled way of life.

    Instead of distinguishing between healthy religious culture and unhealthy religious culture, the secularists’ strategy is to throw the baby of religion out with the proverbial bathwater in an attempt to relegate religious sensibility to the graveyard of humanity.

    There are several reasons for this. One reason is that mandating an irreligious society is a much easier task than doing the moral work required to hold on to a sacred value system….

    A second reason is that it is hard to define problematic religious actions as absolutely wrong if you don’t believe in absolutes to begin with ! It is much easier to conclude that religion itself is the problem, and that a purely secular culture is the answer. People who draw these conclusions are the ones who then go on to draw naive parallels equating ‘radical Islamists’ with ‘radical Christians.'” p. 171/172

    Yes, by all means, read the whole book.

  • Igor

    When Stearns says: “As each sincere follower of Christ seeks to do his or her part in influencing the world, Stearns suggests: “God will give us favor, inventiveness, wisdom and strategy if we put our faith in Him alone. We should be people of influence…” (p. 191)

    It suggests to me that Stearns may be a member of the famous “C street house”.

    Is that true?