With the recent attack on satirical cartoonists Charlie Hebdo, Christians should be provoked to think in different ways and differently from what secularism is saying in its response to the horrific terrorists murders that took place this week. First, we should begin by condemning the terrorist act outright. There simply is no excuse for the type of Islamic Fascist oppression gripping much of the modern world today and dominating the Muslim world everywhere. Second, we should also look at the development of the modern world under the emergence of Islamic ideology. The truth is, Islam is now influencing the whole world. In one sense, Islam has already accomplished a massive milestone on the global stage through its intimidation of global civilization. Indeed, many of the most secular news and media (CNN, MSNBC, USA Today etc.) and even supposed conservative media (FOX NEWS) refuse to show images of Charlie Hebod’s satirical cartoons for fear of Islamic backlash. If this is not clear evidence that Islam has bullied the world into deferring to Islamic thought, I don’t know what is? In this sense we can all be considered to be in a soft stage of dhimmitude. The world is simply afraid to call Islam what it is and expose its repressive ideology.
Third, let me try and explain my French slogan, “je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo.” In the wake of the mass murder of these satirists, the French community has responded with solidarity through signs and shouts of “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie)! The reason that I could not find myself identifying with the “I am Charlie” slogan is because I think that Charlie Hebdo and its satirical vision is diametrically opposed to the biblical view of aesthetics. Indeed, we should ask, where do we get our understanding of art? But that in essence only begs the greater question regarding all things— meaning, morals and beauty— where do they come from and how do we know what has true meaning or in this case, true artistic expression? In other words, the way that Charlie Hebdo decided to put pen to paper and express its worldview was through the demeaning and degradation of other worldviews (all religions included) through often vulgar and even pornographic depictions of its victims. Of course, this is no defense of the Muslim’s responds to what it views, theologically, as blasphemous to Islam and in particular to the prophet of Islam since depictions of their “prophet” are forbidden. The outrageous nature of Charlie Hebdo’s satirical cartoons only compounded the outrage of Muslims worldwide.
For the Christian however, our aesthetics is rooted in Scripture and in the Biblical worldview. God calls us to focus on what is lovely what is beautiful (cf. Phil. 4.8). Scripture speaks of the beauty of holiness (cf. Ps. 96.9). Indeed, much of the great art of the Renascence age was rooted in Christian (albeit Catholic) suppositions of the holiness of God, and the Imago Die. Satire, especially of the Charlie Hebdo sort, cannot be affirmed by the Christian worldview any more than Islam itself since it cannot be done to the glory of the Triune God (cf. 1 Cor. 10.31). Our desire should always be to depict the dignity of man and the sobriety, holiness, and sanctity of God and His world when expressed in art. I cannot join with Charlie because I cannot join with obscene and often reprehensible art of any kind even if it is through what many regard as harmless satirical humor. I stand with Charlie in its unwillingness to submit to the Muslim worldview but I do not stand in solidarity with their form of expression and art. Throughout the history of civilization, art has always been an expression of the basic ideologies of any culture. As believers we are part of two kingdoms (cf. Phil. 3.20), we have a “Roman” citizenship whereby we attempt to live a quite and peaceful life with our fellowman in this age. While our heavenly residency is for now, unseen, it is nevertheless our priority in life. Knowing that our God in heaven is holy and calls us to holiness (cf. 1 Pet. 1.13-16), I could never support the satirical world and life view of Charlie Hebdo.
Soli Deo Gloria
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.