Muslims have not beat the West on the battlefield, but they are thumping us in the ideological wars.
The New Criterion, said to be America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life, has chronicled the recent saga of George Thomas Kurian, who was contracted by Wiley-Blackwell , the distinguished British academic publisher (Wiley and Sons in the U.S.), to produce a multi-volume Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. He completed the work with the help of nearly 400 contributors, but after it was printed and distributed, it was recalled to be “pulped” by Wiley-Blackwell.
Why was the published work recalled? Because four of the 400 contributors objected to the “highly negative, even racist characterization of Islam” in the encyclopedia’s introduction. The two most vocal complaints were made by David Morgan, professor of Religion at Duke University, and Bernard McGinn, professor of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity at The University of Chicago Divinity School.
In their complaint to Wiley-Blackwell, the revisionists felt Kurian’s “malignant assumptions” did “nothing to advance scholarly understanding” and demanded Kurian modify his introduction “to remove the offense thrust at Islam and other religions and to moderate the tone of confrontation and polemic.” The malcontents also wanted to exclude entries on “Antichrist,” “Virgin Birth,” “Resurrection” and “Uniqueness of Christ and Christianity,” and they were unhappy Kurian used the traditional B.C./A.D. date reference rather than the B.C.E./C.E., the form normally preferred by atheist and secularist academics.
Kurian said the demands were “The most blatant form of censorship in the history of religious publishing.” Sociologist Alvin Schmidt, who wrote nearly 70 articles in Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, told The New Criterion that never before in his academic life had he “run into this kind of politically correct nonsense.” I am sure that from now on, we will all be seeing “this kind of politically correct nonsense” amongst publishers with greater and greater frequency.
Was the Encyclopedia as bad as the critics claimed? The 4-volume work had 3,500 entries and took two years to complete. It received “high praise” at conferences held by the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. In a review, Dr. Mark A. Noll of the University of Notre Dame said, “George Kurian’s thoughtfully conceived Encyclopedia does a fine job with its authoritative articles, sensible bibliographies, and consistently illuminating treatments.”
Kurian plans a lawsuit against Wiley-Blackwell. He said, “It will send a strong message to the politically correct establishment that we will not allow the freedom of Christian expression to be abridged, muzzled, denied or trampled upon.”