What Did Charlie Hebdo Accomplish?

The drive back from the annual American Historical Association meeting (and other points northeastern) brought the missus and me lots of coverage of the killings of editors and cartoonists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo yesterday in Paris. As unnerving and tragic as those deaths were and as close to the events as reporters still stood, the dominant narrative of the event was the need, courage, and danger of free speech. Many French and English journalists conducted interviews that indicated the enormous debt they owed to the editors, writers, and cartoonists of the magazine for standing up for free speech. In fact, the Protestant Federation of Churches in France issued the following statement:

We reiterate that the secular republic and its values, including freedom of conscience, democracy and press freedom remains for us the foundation of our life together.

This fairly modern, liberal, and republican line (it is striking to hear the French identify with “The Republic” while Americans who inhabit a republic of similar vintage talk about “The Constitution”) is fairly at odds with the experience of most modern, liberal residents of republics. None of us actually enjoys freedom of speech. Sean Michael Winters, for instance, noted that he is unwilling to use the freedoms he has:

I am not Charlie. I am not as brave as the editors at that newspaper were, continuing their satire even after the death threats and after their offices were fire-bombed. To point out another obvious difference, I am not a satirist and I do not go out of my way to poke fun at other people’s religion. But, they did and – you will pardon the expression – God bless them for it.

In other words, most people even in free societies and even when writing for the wider public censor their thoughts. From deciding not to tell your wife the truth about the chair she purchased to holding your thoughts about the pastor’s sermon, we do not live in a world that allows us to say whatever we think. Some people show more caution than others, and this is of course different from governments censoring citizens. But little in the reporting yesterday suggested any awareness of the layers of free speech.

What has already emerged, however, and this will likely continue for a while, is the chance of drawing attention to the inconsistency of those who condemn these killings. For instance, Mark Tooley observes that the World Council of Churches’ statement about the deaths stands in sharp contrast to the organizations former failure to uphold freedom of speech during the Cold War:

These statements are not bad, and Tveit’s affirmation specifically of the “freedom to print and publish” is especially notable. During its darkest Cold War days of accommodating Soviet Communism and its global proxies, the WCC was often scandalously silent about the freedom to print and publish, among many other freedoms suppressed by dictatorships.

At the risk of adding to such scapegoating, I can’t help but think about the complexity of freedom of speech when it comes to talking about race in the United States or to talk in general at most of the United States colleges and universities. Peter Lawler’s post about campus dissent stands in sharp contrast to outpouring of praise for freedom of speech (folks who talk about microaggressions and social sins should take note):

Now a big difference between the Communists and today’s politically correct is that the (typically perverse) nobility of the Old Left was that it was moved by the plight of people who had little to no property. And so they wanted to use the power of government to redistribute resources from one class to another. There’s still some of that idealism on campus, and even some professors who claim that they have the duty to be socialists to counter the capitalist propaganda that they say dominates the media and so much of ordinary life in America. The genuinely throwback socialists often love liberal education, and I often think I have more in common with them than with libertarian economists, despite the fact that the astute libertarian futurists have a better handle on what the future will probably bring.

Richard Rorty complained that when the Left went from being Old to New it lost interest in the issue of economic injustice and got about the business of eliminating every trace of cruelty and indignity — all the aggressions both macro and micro — from American discourse. Justice became making everyone — rich and poor, black white, straight and gay, and so forth and so on — absolutely secure in his or her freely chosen personal identity. Some of that progress has served the cause of decency, but it’s way out of control. Because the new political correctness reaches its height of self-righteous self-consciousness on campuses, it becomes pretty much unsafe to say anything judgmental or controversial or against reigning democratic and “extreme autonomy” prejudices.

During much of the press coverage yesterday I kept wondering whether someone would step up to explain how Charlie Hebdo’s provocations had actually helped French society. After all, if you provoke people to the point where the police (public servants) need to guard your offices, you might be more of a public nuisance than a cultural asset. Then again, and I don’t know the climate of French campuses, if residents of France enjoy more freedom than their fellow republicans in the U.S. to say what they think without fear of hurting hearers’ feelings, then Charlie Hebdo may have performed a valuable service.

Postscript: Michael Sean Winters added this comment in his praise for those who died yesterday:

The values of a culture that says it is fine to behead homosexuals are worse values than those of a culture that says it is not fine to behead homosexuals. The values of a culture that seeks to keep women in third-class status are worse than the values of a culture that seeks to open opportunities for women. The values of a culture that demands adherence to a strained, fundamentalist reading of a religious text are worse than the values of a culture that acknowledges pluralism and seeks to find peaceful ways for people of different religions to live together amicably. These values are not merely different. Cultural relativism only gets you so far. Our values, our liberal values, are better. I do not have to like this cartoon or that essay, I may regret the sense of license our commitment to liberty allows and even encourages, many and deep are my reservations about the seraglio of the Enlightenment, but I would rather be a citizen of the Fifth Republic of France than a slave in territory governed by ISIS. So would everybody except the evil and the deranged.

By that logic, Winters would also likely prefer to be a citizen of a libertarian U.S. than a member of pre-modern Christendom. In fact, he acknowledges that the history of Western Christianity has not always been appealing:

Just as Catholicism has had to break from its own barbarisms, haltingly to be sure, and insist that its faith be expressed in humane ways, indeed that inhumane expressions of the our Catholic faith are a contradiction of that faith, so too must our Muslim brothers and sisters find the arguments and the ideas and the critical mass of supporters to break their faith free from these murderers who claim to act in their name. The thing that we Catholics can do, especially those of us who are not afraid to call ourselves liberals, is create relationships with humane Muslims, work with them for the common good, highlight their culture and its contributions, and encourage them as they seek to remove the cancer that is currently eating away at their religion. We can share with them the ups-and-downs of our Catholic history in this struggle, noting that sometimes those ups-and-downs occurred in the same person, as when the venerable Saint Thomas More sent heretics to the flames. History, the catalogue of humanity, is itself a great humanizing force in any culture, whether its study prepares a person for a job in the 21st century marketplace or not.

Similar reservations haunt the performance of pre-modern Protestants. In which case, those of us Christians (Roman Catholic or Protestant) who enjoy the blessings of liberty need to do a little more reflection on where those freedoms came from. That they originated at the time of the founding of the American and French republics is not a reason to suggest that medieval Christendom or confessional Europe had nothing to contribute to the legal and political outcomes of the modern West. But the Council of Trent and the Westminster Assembly did not produce the Bill of Rights for a reason. And that reason should lead every modern Christian to express some gratitude (i.e. two cheers) for the Enlightenment.

171 thoughts on “What Did Charlie Hebdo Accomplish?

  1. As distasteful as one might find the satire it did, by provoking such a savagely violent response, highlight the very real threat that post-colonial Islam represents. As many others have noted, there is no New Testament in the Qur’an nor in the Hadith. That Islamists did not retaliate in print or even in court but rather with firearms tells us a great deal about the threat free people face.

    Whether free speech is a product of the Enlightenment or coincided with it is an interesting question. How one answers that depends, in part, on how one analyzes the relations between Christianity and the Enlightenment, the nature of secularization etc. E.g., Locke was a rationalist but thought of himself as a Christian. Religious toleration developed in the new world as Christendom began to wane but as the vestiges of Christendom are almost extinguished, so too ostensibly “Enlightenment” sponsored liberties seem to under attack in the West not by Christian fundamentalists but by anti-religious zealots. After all, it’s not the fundies who are seeking to force lesbian florists to cater Baptist weddings.


  2. Hey CW and anyone else interested,

    Haven’t read the blog article, but I suspect the intersection of this story and Roman Catholicism would spark the interest from readers of this blog. Hugh Hewitt (the “Evangelical Roman Catholic Presbyterian”, whatever that means) interviewed Bill Donahue on the article at Catholic League’s website. You can hear the audio of the heated interview on Hugh’s website.

    [audio src="http://www.hughhewitt.com/wp-content/uploads/01-08hhs-donahue.mp3" /]

    I heard Hugh say he was an “orthodox Catholic” (can someone tell me what that means?); that is hilarious. I’ve heard Bill, and he sure doesn’t come across as a liberal RC. Hugh makes himself sound like a model RC next to Bill. Mainline Presbyterians must not respect themselves much if Hugh is still among them.


  3. Two cheers for the enlightenment, from this Christian.

    And two cheers for Darryl. Hey, it occurred to me, if you get to be the pain in the neck, can I be the ear-wax? Just a thought..

    Anyway, good post. Thanks again!


  4. I’m typing this as I hear Hewitt’s program. He just said Ben Sasse will be on the program after the break . Things just keep on getting more interesting.


  5. Scott, I agree that these days Christians don’t generally respond to offensive portrayals with violence. We like to whine. But there was a time when Christians did use violence against infidels. It may have taken Christians in the West 800 years to get over the use of the sword — and even then we had the state’s sword to run interference for us. But Islam is only 90 years from the demise of its caliphate. And let’s not forget that in the Balkans, Christians and Muslims don’t ever forget.

    So I’ll still put my two cheers on the Enlightenment as the corrective to Constantinianism — whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox.


  6. During much of the press coverage yesterday I kept wondering whether someone would step up to explain how Charlie Hebdo’s provocations had actually helped French society. After all, if you provoke people to the point where the police (public servants) need to guard your offices, you might be more of a public nuisance than a cultural asset.

    You finally got something right, Dr. Hart. You and William Donahue. The irony delights.

    The European cartoons of Mohammed [some pornographic] were intended to antagonize Muslims. They were adolescent mischief, and now 12 people are dead.

    “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind” Bloody children.

    As for the rest of your rogues’ gallery [Michael Sean Winters, especially], meh. As for your praise of “the Enlightenment,” it was the rabbit-like proliferation of Protestant sects that obliged the Christian concept of religious tolerance.

    Europe would have run out of firewood.

    R. Scott Clark
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Locke was a rationalist but thought of himself as a Christian. Religious toleration developed in the new world as Christendom began to wane but as the vestiges of Christendom are almost extinguished, so too ostensibly “Enlightenment” sponsored liberties seem to under attack in the West not by Christian fundamentalists but by anti-religious zealots. After all, it’s not the fundies who are seeking to force lesbian florists to cater Baptist weddings.

    Quite right, sir. And let us add that Locke made the elegantly rational but also Christian argument that the government can’t save your soul, hence there’s even a limit to the theological utility of theocracy.

    That left only the absurdity of burning people in the name of Jesus meek and mild to dispose of. [Unfortunately, Mohammed was neither meek nor mild, hence the current unpleasantness.]


  7. I’m no fan of Christendom nor of the proposals to revive it but it’s worth noting that Christendom did not exist until the 4th century. Even then, the original two decrees were decrees of toleration. So the church-state complex and the state sponsorship of Christianity developed gradually afterward.

    Christendom was not organic to Christianity or inherent to it. Islam, on the other hand began with lies and violence and grew by force. At it’s height, the French inquisition put 3 people to death per year. The Spanish inquisition, which was more an extension of the crown than the papacy was more efficient but those numbers pale in comparison to Islamic sponsored violence toward the advancement of global submission to Allah. Indeed, the crusades, arguably the biggest stain on our historical reputation, were a probably initially a response to Islamic aggression.

    The Enlightenment and its proponents have taken credit for a great deal. I suspect that might as much PR as history.


  8. R. Scott Clark

    At its height, the French inquisition put 3 people to death per year. The Spanish inquisition, which was more an extension of the crown than the papacy was more efficient but those numbers pale in comparison to Islamic sponsored violence toward the advancement of global submission to Allah. Indeed, the Crusades, arguably the biggest stain on our historical reputation, were a probably initially a response to Islamic aggression.

    The Enlightenment and its proponents have taken credit for a great deal. I suspect that might be as much PR as history.

    Exactly. Which Enlightenment?


    In making her case, Himmelfarb defines the British Enlightenment in terms that some might find surprising. She includes people who in the past have usually been labeled part of the Counter-Enlightenment, especially John Wesley and Edmund Burke. She assigns prominent roles to the social movements of Methodism and Evangelical philanthropy. Despite the fact that the American colonies rebelled from Britain to found a republic, Himmelfarb demonstrates how very close they were to the British Enlightenment and how distant from French republicans.


  9. Well, France (think Revocation of the Edict of Nantes) compared to the USA is a product of the Enlightenment, while the USA owes something both to the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Which would anyone prefer? I know which one I do.

    IOW Michael Sean Winters to the contrary, at least Muslims believe in a higher purpose for life, while Charlie only epitomizes the French Enlightenment. “I am SpartacusCharlie” means the true god is the Gallican idol of unlimited “Free Speech” and nothing is sacred, except autonomous atheism/skepticism.

    True, Islam – the eastern antiChrist – is a vicious and wicked superstition.
    If anything, Mohammed is a fraud who “disrespects” Jesus if he claims to believe the Pentateuch, Psalms and Gospels, but can still only consider Christ a prophet, not the Son of God. Yet there are no Christian mobs in the streets baying for blood and burning mosques though at one time the crusades took place to liberate the “Holy Land” that Muslims had attacked and conquered in the name of their false religion. Tis something to do with love your enemies, vs. kill the infidel.

    But further, if ‘thou shalt not lie’, is part of the natural law, America/the enlightened West has grounds to bar Muslims from entry due to their religious belief in “taquiyya”; that it is permissible to lie to the infidel (similar to the pre Vat 2 Romanist belief that one did not have to keep faith with the “heretic”). Likewise a full burkha is a disguise and a lie, if not that it lends to lying. How is anyone really know it is a woman behind the burlap bag anyway?

    Wait a minute, gender really is fluid/subjective in the post modern homosexual “marriage”/transgendered restroom world and we don’t sweat any of the contradictory objective details. All of these, including Islam, are merely cats paws for Leviathan, who has come into his own these Silicon Valley days, regardless if Hobbes was a card carrying philosphe or not.
    If the perfectability of man (i.e. denial of original sin) was fundamental to the Enlightenment, QED we can reach nirvana/utopia/heaven on earth if only Government will pass a law.

    But then that would be idolatry and a violation of natural/2 K law, wouldn’t it?


  10. Bob S
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
    Well, France (think Revocation of the Edict of Nantes) compared to the USA is a product of the Enlightenment, while the USA owes something both to the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Which would anyone prefer? I know which one I do.

    IOW Michael Sean Winters to the contrary, at least Muslims believe in a higher purpose for life, while Charlie only epitomizes the French Enlightenment. “I am SpartacusCharlie” means the true god is the Gallican idol of unlimited “Free Speech” and nothing is sacred, except autonomous atheism/skepticism.

    Ace.This is why I like you Calvinists so much, that you take your religion seriously. You’re definitely the Muslims of Christendom. You could sit down and have a drink together. Well, except that

    But then that would be idolatry and a violation of natural/2 K law, wouldn’t it?

    Can’t hang with ‘natural’ and ‘2K’ and ‘law’ smushed together into some sushi mint sundae. My major problem with the worldview of the proprietor of this here blog.


  11. “After all, if you provoke people to the point where the police (public servants) need to guard your offices, you might be more of a public nuisance than a cultural asset.”
    For me, THAT is what it comes down to.

    Free speech is not an absolute right. Just do comics that rip on the people who won’t kill you, which leaves pretty much everyone but (radical) Islam. You have families; don’t put their welfare in harms way for your vanity.


  12. From the World Council of Churches page on Facebook, January 8th…

    Staff of the #WCC and other organizations based at the Ecumenical Centre held a moment of silence and prayer today at noon, which was introduced as follows:

    Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote an opinion on press freedom in which he observed that the appropriate remedy for offensive speech is more speech rather than enforced silence. The truth has a way of winning hearts and minds if spoken clearly and challenged peaceably.

    The remedy for offensive drawings is not to silence forever those who produce and publish them.

    Today, with our neighbours in France, we gather to observe a minute of silence for those who were murdered yesterday in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. But silence will not be the end of this story. Opinions will continue to be spoken, and debated, and illustrated, and published, and truth will be recognized…

    Because this is the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre, we also will offer prayer and song to God in the coming minutes. Many connected with Charlie, leading critics of all organized religion, might not approve of our mode of remembrance. But we have an inalienable right to express our beliefs through words and the lively arts, as do they …


  13. Only Bob Suden can weave France, Islam, gay marriage, and transgender restrooms into the same post seamlessly.

    And only Tom Van Dyke can approve.

    RSC started it by bringing up lesbian florists & Babdist weddings.


  14. Scott, but the Ottoman Empire evolved and became tolerant. Can you imagine Old School Presbyterians in Izmir today evangelizing Armenians. But John Adger was in the 1830s. And the West/Brits/Laurence of Arabia decided to downsize the Ottomans. Given what’s happened in Sryia, not so sure that was a smart move.


  15. We (Americans of the United States) are still Puritans:

    There’s nothing quite like Charlie Hebdo in America. For better or worse, American humorists are more tightly constrained by the boundaries of political correctness; comedians are generally expected to take special precautions when joking about anything potentially sensitive, especially surrounding issues like race, religion or gender. “People have compared it to Jon Stewart, and it is as popular as something like that, but it’s also much more radical,” says Canadian journalist Jeet Heer, co-editor of Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium.

    As if to underline this contrast, American news outlets like CNN and AP have opted not to show Charlie Hebdo’s most controversial cartoons, and even The New York Daily News blurred out parts of the images. Arguably, the most controversial political cartoon of the past few years in the U.S. was a New Yorker cover showing Barack and Michelle Obama plotting a terrorist attack in the Oval Office (an artist’s attempt at satirizing Republicans who questioned Obama’s patriotism.) Compare that to the 2011 Charlie Hebdo cartoon in which God is sodomized by Jesus, and the Obama cover seems mild.

    Or, we are not as bad as the BBs allege.


  16. David Brooks on the hypocrisy of Americans claiming to be Charlie:

    The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

    Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.

    Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.

    Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.

    So this might be a teachable moment. As we are mortified by the slaughter of those writers and editors in Paris, it’s a good time to come up with a less hypocritical approach to our own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists.

    The first thing to say, I suppose, is that whatever you might have put on your Facebook page yesterday, it is inaccurate for most of us to claim, Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, or I Am Charlie Hebdo. Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.

    We might have started out that way. When you are 13, it seems daring and provocative to “épater la bourgeoisie,” to stick a finger in the eye of authority, to ridicule other people’s religious beliefs.

    But after a while that seems puerile. Most of us move toward more complicated views of reality and more forgiving views of others. (Ridicule becomes less fun as you become more aware of your own frequent ridiculousness.) Most of us do try to show a modicum of respect for people of different creeds and faiths. We do try to open conversations with listening rather than insult.

    Yet, at the same time, most of us know that provocateurs and other outlandish figures serve useful public roles. Satirists and ridiculers expose our weakness and vanity when we are feeling proud. They puncture the self-puffery of the successful. They level social inequality by bringing the mighty low. When they are effective they help us address our foibles communally, since laughter is one of the ultimate bonding experiences.


  17. :This fairly modern, liberal, and republican line (it is striking to hear the French identify with “The Republic” while Americans who inhabit a republic of similar vintage talk about “The Constitution”)”

    Nitpicking comment – France is on it’s Fifth Republic, we still have our only Republic. Their current Republic was founded … late 1950s? I’m fuzzy on when the Fourth failed.


  18. On Toleration as the product of the Enlightenment.

    So, Cromwell’s allowing Jews back into England wasn’t because of his Christianity, but because he ws the fruit of the Enlightenment?

    Is that what D.G. and R. Scott are saying?

    Wasn’t there the beginning of Toleration during the Commonwealth, to some degree, at least to Protestants of some denominations?


  19. Roy, I get that. But if we were honest like the French, we would at least be on our fourth republic — Washington’s, Lincoln’s, FDR’s, and LBJ’s. But because we venerate the Constitution (not the only reason), we still think we are the first republic. As if we are even still a republic.


  20. I don’t see how any American can have any sympathy with the notion that the magazine “provoked” the attack. Our constitution enshrines the right to make fun of the prophet and anyone else. Of course there are limits, as the court has said, but making fun of the prophet or Mormons or Christians is well within the freedoms protected by the constitution. That’s why I used the category of “taste” rather than “right” earlier. One may find the magazine distasteful but that’s quite another thing than saying that they had no right to provoke Islamists.

    The notion than free persons in the west can avoid “provoking” Islamists betrays significant naïveté about what Islam (the Qur’an and the Hadith) and Islamists expect from the rest of us. They will not be satisfied with not making fun of the prophet. They cannot be pacified. Read the history of Islam. Read the Qur’an for yourself (start at the back then go toward the front’; it’s an odd book, disconnected with no coherent narrative really). They will not be satisfied until we are all in submission to Allah and to them. There is a small handful of reasonable Muslims who are willing to live in peace with the rest of us. All the polls tell us, history tells us, that the vast majority of Muslims want Sharia to be imposed on the rest of us. We must not assume that they are just like us except for a different god. They are not.

    As to the history, Darryl, you skipped the part where the West resisted Muslim/Ottoman military advances in the 16th century, ending 8 centuries of warfare with Muslims. The colonial powers then crushed and colonized Islamic countries. The violence we’ve seen since the revolution in Iran in 1979 is all post-colonial. Whatever evils may attend colonization it did keep them from doing what they’re doing now.

    Judging by history, the natural state of things is warfare with Islam. As best I can tell it was never an enlightened culture. Most of the alleged cultural artifacts are now thought, by some historians anyway, to have been appropriated from the West. In other words, we’ve been fed a good bit of nonsense about what is even possible relative to Islam. It is an inherently violent, dangerous, threatening movement now and that is its natural condition.

    If this is true, then those who value civil liberties (as the relative absence of restraint) should be truly wary about Islamic immigration to the USA and the growing number of mosques that are being established even in surprising places (e.g., TN). Mosques traditionally (and today) are not mere places of worship. They are places where social revolution are plotted. This is certainly what is happening in Nigeria where Christians live in terror. I have first hand-testimony of what happens in Nigeria, what happens in the mosques there, and what the consequences have been for Christians across Nigeria. The news is that Boko Haram has murdered another 2,000 people there.


  21. Scott, You and I disagree, about Islam, rights, and Christian responses to being mocked. I don’t think Islam is a religion of peace. But I also don’t think most Muslims want what happened in Paris. I’m also not sure that the Constitution guarantees a right to mock someone else. See the David Brooks column. And Christians for the last 35 years have been pretty touchy about all sorts of slights. Do they respond in violence? No. Are they super sensitive? Hades yes.


  22. Scott, I don’t think anybody wants to blame the victim. But if wisdom is a factor, and if Brooks as a point about perpetual adolescence (are the cartoons versions of scantily clad gyrating on top of pinball machines in a red neck bar?), it’s hard to imagine there isn’t some connection between the provocations and the attack.

    And is it possible that radical Islam in Nigeria is different than radical Islam in America? That’s not to be Pollyanna about real threats, but it is to say that larger contextual systems have a unique way of handling–even absorbing–human phenomenon.


  23. Hi Scott,

    I think you are making the mistake of believing most Muslims actually follow the teachings of the Koran in detail and approach the Koran as conservatives would approach the Bible. That is true of some for sure, a minority, but most Muslims, especially those that have have migrated west, simply want to raise families and live in peace like the rest of us. If we understand that the majority in America who identify themselves as Christians do not take the Bible literally, it should not be too difficult to believe that is the case among Muslims also (the same is true with American Jews – most know little about the Old Testament). And the Koran, not being inspired, is not internally consistent. Much of it calls for violence against infidels, but there are other places which state the opposite, it all depends on the parts you want to follow. I once asked a lieutenant in the Air Force who spent a year in Afghanistan what was the most surprising aspect of her stint – she responded – I thought the common people there would be religious or fanatical, but they care little about religion, most just doing what they want, often very sinful things forbidden by their religion.

    These are helpful:




  24. Not all (or even most) Muslims are terrorists, but nearly every modern terrorist is a Muslim. This fact must be dealt with.

    And what if 40% of Reformed believers wanted hard-core theonomy? What if 20% sympathized with murderous, civilian-killing Reformed extremists though 99% actually thought the killing was wrong? Would you consider that there might be a serious problem with the Reformed?



  25. CW,

    I am assuming you are addressing me above. First, nobody suggested Muslim terrorism or Muslims sympathetic to terrorism is not a great concern. But your stats make my point, six out of ten Muslims there do not want Sharia Law, which is a majority of Muslims. That stat would be even higher (against) in the Muslim population here in the States. I am simply affirming DH’s point, that most Muslims want nothing to do with terrorism, but the moderate majority do not get any press.


  26. Charlie (and France’s) mistake was doing that kind of satire in a country with lax immigration policies when you are geographically close to a lot of Muslim countries. Have some common sense.

    I’ll poke people here, but I wouldn’t poke them as much if they were living next door and had an ideology that says it’s a good thing to kill for religious slights.


  27. No, Todd, I had no one in mind, but that’s helpful stuff. I just don’t buy that we can overlook the murderous tendencies of a minority of Muslims, the sympathies of a plurality of Muslims, and what the Koran says in favor of wishful thinking about all the “good” Muslims. I thought we were big in warts-and-all around here. My thought is that if Reformed people had a similar problem we’d be well-advised to be strongly proactive in rooting out the bad guys.


  28. Scott,

    The difference is that Charlie inflamed these guys enough that they were willing to become martyrs to kill them.

    Not too many people, Muslim or otherwise, willing to kill ordinary people, Christian or otherwise, who are minding their own business.

    Islamic radicals have a recruiting problem just like every other organization, in other words.


  29. The nice thing about America, as opposed to old man Europe, is that most people who come here come here primarily to get rich. Has a nice side effect of tamping down religious extremism of all stripes.

    Who wants to commit jihad when there are so many good things coming up on Direct TV?


  30. I remember watching the towers fall on TV with a Turkish Muslim who was working for us while he was in town getting a Masters in interior design.

    I also enjoyed playing basketball for several years with an Iranian American who got his Ph.D. in immunobiology or something along those lines in his early 20s. He told me he was “culturally Muslim”.

    Both would make terrible jihadists.


  31. C-dubs, is that a veiled call to 2k jihad? But I’ll take Jack McCoy (on NBC) before Jack Bauer (on Fox). Seasoned prosecutor with no political axe to grind toting leather breifcase beats young counter terrorist toting a man-purse.


  32. Imagine if these students had to read Charlie Hebdo.

    The bulk of the incidents described in the report are what social scientists call “microaggressions.” While these insults are more covert than blatant forms of racism and sexism, the actions cause prolonged doubt and stress, leaving students questioning their place on campus and whether they belong. The incidents not only hurt and offend, but often also lead to a student wondering how much “one can trust one’s own judgment,” the authors wrote.

    “People who are [the targets of microaggression] spend a great deal of time in internal dialogue, asking themselves whether they imagined or misinterpreted what the other person said or did and, given the less blatant form of mistreatment, feeling apprehension and anguish about whether, if they try to name and object to what was done to them, they will only be told that they are overly sensitive or even that they are imagining it,” the authors said.

    One South Asian-American woman recalled another student asking her if she’s carrying a bomb in her backpack. When she responded angrily, the student scolded her for not getting that it was a “joke.” An African-American senior at an elite, private institution said students – particularly white women – often express surprise that he is a student there or act afraid of him. A Native American student at the same university said that during a pow-wow organized by native students on campus, a man was shocked to learn that Native Americans attended the institution.

    A Latino student said that, while hanging up posters in a dormitory, a white student mistook him for a custodian. Several black students reported instances where security officers were called to campus events, libraries, and even their own residences, because other students didn’t believe the black students were actually students at the university and assumed they were there to cause trouble. A Latina senior named Gladys described feeling “overwhelming emotion” when faced with racist and sexist incidents, then feeling weak because she isn’t sure how to react.


  33. And we wonder why these students graduate with $50,000 in debt and then move back into mom & dad’s basement?

    If your tuition check cleared, you belong. Now toughen up and learn something.


  34. @Roy, I don’t think Darryl & I agree much on this.

    @Darryl, There are nominal Muslims and maybe some committed Muslims of various sects that are willing to live in peace with the rest of us but poll after poll tells us, if we’re willing to believe our eyes, that they want Sharia imposed on everyone, that they don’t mind seeing us get beheaded and that it’s our own fault for not submitting to the prophet.

    @Todd, I’m reading the history of Islam (ancient and modern) and the story isn’t pretty. I’m aware of a small minority of Muslim intellectuals calling for a “reformation” of sorts and seem to want to live in peace but they don’t speak for the vast majority of the world’s Muslim population. Even written from the standard history of religions perspective, by a sympathetic Muslim scholar, the history of Islam is shocking to the sensibilities. It’s not unlike the first time I saw an abortion. I had one opinion before I saw the video and another after. Facts mean things. I could not continue to think about human gestation and life in the same way after seeing what I saw. In a similar way, once I began reading the history of Islam it made it impossible to listen quietly as W and others tried to peddle the myth that the people who attacked us on 9/11 were an anomaly. From a historical pov, they are not.

    Even when Pew reports that a large percentages are “concerned” about Muslim violence against non-Muslims, the percentage of Muslims who support Hamas et al is still quite large.

    Here’s a collation of mainstream polls from a few years back indicating strong popular support among the world’s Muslim population for violence against non-Muslims.

    It’s anecdotal but consider the reaction of Muslim cab drivers in various USA metros re driving people who violate Sharia or the growth of Sharia in the UK, or the Muslim violence in the suburbs of Paris, or the fear that non-Muslims experience in Dearborn or the effect of the development of Little Mogadishu in Minneapolis, which has become breeding ground for “home-grown” terrorists to fly to Syria, get training and then return to the States. That’s from CBS news, not Fox.

    I’ll take a look at the resources you linked but there’s good reason to be concerned

    Re: Fox news. I watch because it’s the only place that challenges the story peddled by the powers that be. Most of the time it’s the only place that airs more than one point of view consistently. It is the alternative media. CBS, NBC, and ABC don’t even cover certain stories anymore until they aren’t even stories. NPR can’t see most of the country over their upraised noses. Yes, Hannity is over the top and O’Reilly is a blowhard but Bret Baier’s Special Report has been called by some reasonable, mainstream critics the best evening newscast on TV.


  35. Jonah Goldberg illustrates some of the problems with comparing Islamic terrorism to Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. By using “extremism” some talking head can equivocate between Falwell and the Charlie Hebdo attack.

    The problem is, as Golderg notes, Falwell didn’t kill anyone and he didn’t even do that of which he was accused.

    “Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?”


  36. cw, I wouldn’t want outsiders reading the imprecatory psalms. The OT is not tame stuff. But who is afraid of observant Jews? So why do we think all Muslims read the Qu’ran that way?


  37. >>>>I’m also not sure that the Constitution guarantees a right to mock someone else.<<<<

    Jefferson and Adams certainly thought they had the right to say all sorts of insulting things to one another in the election of 1800. I'm quite sure that they didn't expect to be shot in the head for attacking one another.


  38. >>>>By using “extremism” some talking head can equivocate between Falwell and the Charlie Hebdo attack.<<<<

    I work with a muslim man from Egypt who has lived in the U.S. for 18 years. He makes the same analogy. But he leaves out the part that if you offend the islamofacist he will try to kill you.


  39. >>>>Re: Fox news . . . <<<<

    Dr. Clark, that just won't do. Respectable "unbiased" Christian Academics prefer to hear the news read to them by NPR as if they were reading to kindergarteners.

    Never, ever say you were listening to the radio when instead you could say, "I was listening to NPR."


  40. Some random thoughts or questions:

    I grew up in a southern city which had a mosque as early as the late 80s. My dad had dozens of Muslim clients, but these were mostly smoking, drinking, Firebird-driving Muslims. Reminded me of the “Night at the Roxbury” guys.

    So my best hope for my Muslim neighbors is that they are “liberal,” nominal, materialistic or insincere? I’ll bet many urbanites hope the same when Xians move in next door…except Redeemerites are cool, right?

    What would Machen’s pals the Sentinels of the Republic have made of Islamic extremists?

    Can we compare moderate Muslim sympathies/non-opposition to Islamist extremists to Catholic sympathy/support for the IRA in the last century?


  41. Which Islam, Mustafa Akyol asks:

    it is much-needed and most welcome for Muslim leaders around the world to condemn violent responses to blasphemy executed by people who we call “extremists” (They really are extreme, for their crimes are abhorred by the overwhelming majority of Muslims). But we should also see that these extremists rely on certain medieval texts that really do decree the “death penalty” for “blasphemy.”

    Historically speaking, this should not be shocking, for blasphemy had been criminalized in other faiths’ traditions as well. For Judaism, the Torah clearly states that those who speak blasphemy “shall surely be put to death.” For Christianity, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that blasphemy is “a sin committed directly against God, is graver than murder.” Both Judaism and Christianity abandoned their claims for earthly punishment for blasphemy only in modern times (The last person executed for blasphemy in Britain was Thomas Aikenhead, who was hanged in 1697 for calling Jesus an “impostor”).

    The problem is that there are still trends in the Muslim world that are quite pre-Enlightenment, to put it in an historical context, and insist on imposing medieval Islamic law in today’s world. The fact that they use modern equipment – from the Internet, to AK-47’s, to bombs – makes them only more dangerous. They also only help trigger and feed what we call Islamophobia, which has racist roots as well, but is also a reaction to our extremists.

    Hence, we Muslims need to get to the bottom of the issue, which is how we shall understand Islamic law in our day and age. What is needed, in other words, is nothing short of a “reform.” But mind you; this is a reform with a small ‘r’ not a capital one, for the matter here is not challenging the authority of a central church, as Martin Luther did in the 16th century. The matter here is to how to renew the interpretation of the diverse traditions of Islam in the light of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other human rights.

    In my book, “Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty,” I tried to offer some ideas that could help articulate that “reform.” In the chapter titled, “Freedom from Islam,” I focused on apostasy and blasphemy, and noted that while the shariah indeed punishes them by death, the Qur’an has no such clause. It actually suggests only a very civilized form of disapproval against those who “mock … God’s revelations.”


  42. A religion can have almost any type of tenets or values and get by with them until it becomes a missionary faith. Then its claims and tendencies will be subject to evaluation and a society may decide that certain religions are incompatible with the peace and prosperity they hope, as a society, to achieve. As a citizen, not as a church member, I can understand why a reasonable person would not welcome Islam into the neighborhood. But as a church member I’m not bothered one bit with those who disagree with me on this.


  43. cw, are you an insincere Calvinist because you don’t follow the politics of John Calvin and John Knox? In other words, does Islam have a tradition of the spirituality of the Mosque? I’m not sure about the official traditions, though I hear the Sufi variety is fairly mystical. And I would recommend Mustafa Akyol’s Islam without Extremes for one journalist’s attempt to find a modern Islam. But I do think the Muslims in Dearborn are living some kind of spirituality of the mosque faith. See the documentary, Fordson.

    I mean, if we interpret Islam in a way that makes violence essential, don’t the BBs have us when it comes to Calvinism?

    Don’t know about the Sentinels. Think the IRA is a useful analogy.


  44. Oh, I’m plenty insincere. The only real analogies we might draw between conservative presbys and Jihadis is: Did lots of CPs “sympathize” with or support abortion clinic bombers or violent segregationists? The answer is, yeah, some did and very few now do. But that’s why we love 2k right? It helps us deal with these things. Nobody needs 2k more than the Muslims.


  45. @Darryl,

    Islam was a medieval development and the Hadith are essential to Islam but it’s not as if the prophet or the Qur’an don’t provide grounds fir violence against infidels. He crushed dissent and opposition—Islam means “submission” and that cannot be spiritualized away. They mean your outward conformity—before the formation of the Hadith. In othe words, it’s not easy to set up a Mohammad v the Mohammadans scheme.


  46. C-dubs, the way some speak of Muslims as terrorists sounds similar to way some speak of Mormons as cultists. But if Jonestown had a way of narrowing “cultist” down to “anti-social religionist” instead of “whatever isn’t more or less Protestant orthodoxy” (sorry, Walter Martin) then maybe Charlie Hebdo has a similar effect, meaning there are a wide array of Muslims.

    If that’s true then it’s not hoping for the “liberal, nominal, materialistic or insincere” Muslim to move into the neighborhood so much as the non-violent one. I mean, just because he’s peaceful does that mean he’s “nominal, materialistic, or insincere,” which is to say a bad or hypocritical Muslim? I affirm the OT, which calls for blasphemy to be punished but affirm peaceful existence with those who blaspheme. But that doesn’t mean I’m hypocritical about Christianity.


  47. Z, sure – I vote for non-violent whatever the flavor. Interesting though that there’s such a category difference for Xians. Like jerk vs non-jerk instead of killer vs non-killer. And wouldn’t the Dutch-affiliated Boers be the last Reformedish group we could assign truly nasty outcomes to?


  48. Scott, you are still not paying attention to what happened to the Ottomans. How is John Adger a missionary in Smryna in the 1830s according to your assessment?


  49. And then there are those who are personally non-violent and yet support a religious system that uses violence (as in sharia) to enforce itself on adherents and non-adherents. Majorities from small to large fall into that category among many Muslim communities in western nations and certainly Muslim dominated nations. What must be realized, it seems, is that for many (and in some nations – most) Muslims sharia is part and parcel with Islam which at a minimum is a tacit approval of the use of violence in certain situations.


  50. Darryl, wouldn’t the Ottomans be more of an aberration from the norm rather than an example of a return to the norm? I’ll let you two historians sort that out, but from my reading it seems that case can be made.


  51. Keep in mind that D.G. has traveled in Turkey — at least twice — so he has some first hand experience.

    Not sure he has traveled in Yemen.

    May just be anecdotal either way, but I’m sure his concern is that not all Muslims are condemned for the actions of a violent, homicidal minority.

    Interesting to note that the two French brothers were radicalized by a “street preacher”.

    We have our own share of “street preachers” and I think we can all agree they are often not exactly in the mainstream of Reformed theology.


  52. In a sense we probably all have to admit that we don’t really know what we are talking about because we haven’t lived in a Muslim country for an extended period of time. Only by immersion do you really grasp the nuances of how religion impacts politics and behavior. Look how much we understand about the P&R world compared to the average American citizen or even Christian. They have no clue.


  53. Todd, these are admirable and brave individuals/publications given that they are in Arab countries. Yet conspicuously absent is any reprinting of the the offending cartoons. I’m not saying they should have risked doing so. But printing something that is perceived or judged as a direct offense against Islam is the trip-wire.

    Hamas came out condemning the murders of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. Yet, conspicuously absent from their condemnation was any mention of the murder of the Jews at the Kosher market. Sadly selective outrage runs rampant in the response to this tragedy – http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/01/were-not-all-charlie.php


  54. If you’re an angry young man of middle eastern heritage, have limited employment prospects, have an over-realized eschatology and are seeking a theology of glory, Islamic Jihad could be very appealing.

    It’s similar to a lot of the P&R guys we meet online who are living in mom’s basement. Theirs is only a war of words, though.


  55. Jack, that may be, but why fault for selectivity? I don’t recall many conservative P&R bending over backwards to disassociate Christianity from Westboro Baptist. Was that sad? I don’t think so–dignifying pure insanity seems entirely unwarranted even when the non-Christian world demands it as proof of piety. In which case, when Hamas decides to be selective I’m not sure that’s a fault per se.

    Besides, outrage is way over rated.


  56. Jack, if you fault Muslims for using force to implement Sharia law, what do you say to gays who fault Christians for using force to implement Christian marriage? I’m just sayin’.


  57. Erik Charter
    Posted January 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
    Makes one ask how Bryan can be a bigger expert on Catholicism than Sean…

    Yes and no. Does Sean have headgear? What color,yo?


  58. Jack, as an empire that lasted arguably longer than the British Empire, aberration may not be the word that comes to mind. Look at what happens to American notions of liberty and small government when it comes to having to accommodate various interests and run things. Your ideas take a hit.


  59. ec, and keep in mind, I’ve seen Homeland.

    Seriously, I’ve also read Bernard Lewis and Andrew Wheatcroft for starters. It gets you thinking.

    You are a movie guy. See Fordson. It’s only 55 minutes.


  60. D.G.,

    Will do. Whole thing is free on You Tube (is not on Netflix):

    Half way through “Boyhood”. Liking it, but at parts it feels a bit like something on “Lifetime”. If not for the novelty factor I’m not sure it would be getting the accolades it is getting. Not done yet, though. It’s long — over 2 1/2 hours.


  61. Erik, don’t tell my presbytery, but the latest Witherspoon movie is good, saw last weekend. I’ll avoid naming it to protect the innocent (me). Peace.


  62. D –
    I think your comparison is apples to oranges. Islam is a theocratic religion by definition. And using governmental force, as in stripes, death, etc. is a bit removed from individuals seeking to pass laws one way or the other at the ballot box with a Bill of Rights. Btw, how are Christians “using force” to deny gay marriage? Just sayin’… As far as gay marriage in the civil kingdom, it is a civil kingdom issue. And last time I looked gay marriage is gaining traction and in ascendancy. So for Christians it’s Romans 13:1-2 time as it always should be.

    As far as the Ottoman Empire being an aberration, if that was the “high point” of Islamic rule (even for several centuries) it was far from a pleasant place to live if one wasn’t a Muslim under the dhimmi system.

    Darryl, you keep bringing in a kind of Christian vs. Islam thing. To me this is a matter of what kind of civil kingdom one would prefer to live in. Islam is 1K. I prefer 2K.


  63. DG. Hart
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
    Imagine if these students had to read Charlie Hebdo.

    The bulk of the incidents described in the report are what social scientists call “microaggressions.”

    That’s why I read Old Life. Every sentence is a microagression against somebody or something. Fortunately for the blog author, his microaggressions are against the last remaining enemies of the secular academic Elite–the evangelical Religious Right and the Catholic Church.

    Two Kingdoms “neutrality” is seldom neutral atall.


  64. George – Btw, how are Christians “using force” to deny gay marriage?

    Erik – Any time anyone lobbies the magistrate they are asking for the use of force. Force to facilitate something or force to prevent something. Christians have lobbied the magistrate on this issue. Not saying I disagree with that.


  65. ec, that was my fear. Using the same actors over twelve years seemed gimmicky. If you want to follow the same person over time, see The Up Series — still going after fifty years.


  66. Jack, law didn’t enforce prohibitions against sodomy? Law didn’t prohibit gay marriage? The sword doesn’t stand behind law? Christians don’t argue that America is a Christian society?

    What I’m saying is that if you look at Christian and Jewish behavior over time, does Islam look all that different? I am not trying to sugar coat Islam? I also live in a world peopled by theonomy, Sarah Palin, and Rabbi Bret. How 2k are those Christians?


  67. @Darryl,

    According to James J. Reid, the Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse in the early 19th century. I suppose it was too weak to do to missionaries what Muslim states are doing to them now. It was a century before petro dollars. Muslim states are able to enforce Sharia now and to export terror today more effectively than has been possible since the 16th century.

    According to Andy McCarthy, what happened to Charlie Hebdo is sanctioned by the classical text of/on Sharia. It’s not “extremism.” It’s normal for their religion. That certainly fits the earlier pattern. The brief period of relative weakness was the exception, not the rule historically.

    I agree that conceptually, ideologically, there are certain parallels between the rhetoric of some theonomists and Islamic violence but practically the differences are pronounced. There were no floggings in Tyler TX, as far as I know.

    I really don’t understand the repeated comparisons between the mistakes by Christendom, espcially after the Thirty-Years War, which were an abberation from the ethical norms of the NT and contrary to centuries of pre-Constantinian Christan history, and Islam, which only stopped enforcing Sharia fir a time because it was either made to stop by military force or because Islamic states were too weak to effectively enforce it.

    Heterosexual marriage is not merely the Christian view if marriage. One need not be a Christian to respect nature. Asking a culture to respect natural law is not the equivalent of Sharia.


  68. Darryl, the law weilds the sword, yes. Is the U.S. a constitutional theocracy? No. To bring up Palin or thr Rabbi makes my point. They are aberrations of both our constitutional form of govern’t and the nature of the Christian faith and practice vis-a-vis civil kingdoms. Palin as president is hardly the threat to homosexuals that Saudi Arabia currently is as a constituted Islamic nation. Even the Rabbi, as president (as if), would have a hard time working his 1K will in the face of our 2K constitution/Bill of Rights. Saudi Arabia (and the many other Islamic countries) as an Islamic theocracy and consistent with Islam enforces sharia by the sword as did the Ottoman Empire. The difference is only one of degree. Both nations/empires are/were acting consistent with the Islamic 1K religion.


  69. RSC – I agree that conceptually, ideologically, there are certain parallels between the rhetoric of some theonomists and Islamic violence but practically the differences are pronounced. There were no floggings in Tyler TX, as far as I know.

    Erik – “Did R. C. Sproul Jr. Incite Anti-Abortion Violence?”

    Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/04/did-r-c-sproul-jr-incite-anti-abortion-violence.html#ixzz3OXByL8YZ



  70. Jack, ding on 1kers having a hard time working their theocratic wills on a 2k constituted republic, which is what makes breathless warnings about Muslims in America (and elsewhere in similarly constituted nations) seem so over-wrought.


  71. Zrim,

    Immigration patterns vary for historical and geographic reasons. France has been transformed by Muslim immigration. A shockingly large percentage of French residents FAVOR the use of violence to impose Sharia in France and the west. This illiberalism is in direct proportion to Muslim immigration to Europe. There are areas in Paris and the UK that revpresently under the control of Sharia. Some courts in the UK support this. Some state-sponsored schools are entirely Islamic. That has largely happened in 20 years. Things can change rapidly.

    Perhaps we once could say that it couldn’t happen here but modern history suggests that we’re only a few decades behind Europe. We didn’t have any colonial ties to Islamic regions (if memory serves) so the preconditions are not quite the same for us as for Europe (re immmigration) but I doubted that what happened in Canada would happen here re speech codes and homosexual marriage but I was wrong. We were warned and we ignored the warnings.

    Why are you so sure that Muslim immigration could not or will not create the same threat to civil liberties here as in Europe? Our media are blurring images of the prophet out of fear of violent reprisal. It’s already happening in Dearborn.

    There have been repeated Islamic-inspired terrorist acts in the USA. Must they be listed? What must happen for for expressions of concern to become justifiable?


  72. Scott, I am not so sure that Muslim immigration could not or will not create a threat to civil liberties and I am not saying that expressions of concern are unjustified. I am saying that the a lot of the expressions sound like red scare. Maybe it sounds like putting too much trust in the unique power of our own republic to fend off much of what other modern states haven’t been able to, but given that we’ve survived plenty of formidable foreign and domestic threats in the past, I for one am not quite ready to imagine this one is so unique that our collective knees should start knocking. Call it naive, but my guess is that the rhetoric and undertones that so often accompany the contemporary situation are also nothing new under the sun and that we do better to foster a more staid and sanguine outlook. And call it heart bleeding, but I also think there is something to be said about watching out for our more peaceful neighbor’s reputation and well being, and a lot of the rhetoric strikes me as good for stirring up the undermining of those things.


  73. Zrim,

    As it turns out, those who fashionably assured me in the 70s that the Red Scare was all a waste of time were wrong. After the fall of the Berlin wall the Russians opened the KGB archives and, it turns out, there were commies in the State Dept etc. Nixon was right. It didn’t come to much because people were alerted and vigilant. Enough people didn’t listen to those who said that it was nothing but McCarthyism. It wasn’t.

    The difference with the commies is this: these people believe that Allah has given them a mission and that mission involves forcing us to submit to Sharia or die. The commies might have thought that they could subvert the whole country or perhaps they thought they could cause trouble (that they did) but they were less ambitious. Their eschatology was more long-term—if they even believed it any longer. I suppose that the insiders didn’t but I suppose that lots of American students and profs did.

    The people who attacked us on 9/11 (and before) and have attacked us since then are part of a movement that has been waiting about 200 years for this opportunity. The collapse of the colonialism and the infusion of petrodollars combined with the relative weakness of the West (we no longer seem to believe in the same liberal values for which we went to war repeatedly in the 20th century, most notably against the Fascists) have created the conditions that make Islamism a genuine threat. They don’t fear us. They don’t fear death. The late-modern west can’t seem to comprehend the threat.

    I understand that many American Muslims aren’t actually going to do anything but many of them support those who do attack us. They live here, they enjoy the fruits of a liberal democratic Republic but they hate it. Many would, if they had opportunity, support the re-creation of the very circumstances from which they fled. That’s the perversity of Islam. They don’t have even the potential of a twofold kingdom.

    Islam is not just another, compatible way of worshiping God. It is a violent, aggressive military-political-relgious complex. I’m prepared to live in peace with people who are prepared to live in peace with me but the post 1979 world has made it increasingly more difficult to believe that Muslims really do want to live in peace with the liberal, democratic West.

    Andy McCarthy has been tracking closely what the Islamic academic leadership has been saying internally. It’s not encouraging us to think that Islam is prepared to coexist with those of us who will not submit.


  74. Erik,

    You’re making my point. The worst thing of which RCSJr may be accused is over-the-top rhetoric and even the post you linked admits that the connection is tenuous. Logically it’s a classic case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. The post all but admits this. RCSJr used words, the very words which, I wager, his pastors have used before.

    The folks in Paris weren’t firing words or even cartoons at Charlie Hebdo but .223 rounds in quick succession. Where I come from, there’s a big difference between words and bullets.

    Are you as outraged at the inflammatory rhetoric of the left which apparently incited some nutcase to attack Focus on the Family (and like cases)? Free speech is costly and people who act illegally in response to free speech should be punished. In our constitution we’ve agreed to disagree verbally with each other. The Islamists have made no such agreement and that’s just the point. The prolife people condemned the violence but the Islamic leaders typically don’t. Too often they encourage it. One of them was right here in San Diego, until he was killed overseas in drone attack.



  75. RSH – Perhaps we once could say that it couldn’t happen here but modern history suggests that we’re only a few decades behind Europe.

    Erik – But we’re also way freaking bigger than Europe, have not had colonies in the Middle East & (North) Africa, and are more in danger of being “overrun” by Spanish speaking Penecostals than Islamic radicals.


  76. RSC – They don’t fear us. They don’t fear death. The late-modern west can’t seem to comprehend the threat.

    Erik – We continue to come back to the question of exactly how big “they” is.

    We might have membership rolls in P&R churches, but how many do we actually get to two services on Sunday plus Wednesday night Bible study? The hardcore believer is hard to come by.

    Likewise, how many Catholics are towing the line the way Bryan Cross would like?

    People who will do radical things (good & bad) out of religious motivation are always in short supply.

    One unanswered question is what happens when Western countries get out of Middle Eastern affairs. Do things get worse or settle down? I suspect they settle down since most people — regardless of their supposed ideology — just want to make a living, raise their families, and make a few bucks.


  77. Scott, what do you say about the Puritan involvement in the English Civil War? Was that an aberration? Why is it easy to spot Islamic aggression even when conducted by a legitimate state and not notice that those “Christians” killed a duly ordained king?

    It’s not all equivalence. But it’s not as if Christians are without fault. Think the Crusades. Think Jews in Christendom. Think Servetus. If Protestants want to identify Islam as a threat, then don’t you think we better find grounds that doesn’t shoot us in the arse?

    So you think our marriage laws are natural. Okay. But what about when we want to prevent the government from forcing us to ordain women or gays? Aren’t we trying to create a private space comparable to Muslims who want to follow sharia law?


  78. Jack, Palin is a threat to homosexuals. Not in the same way as Saudi Arabia. But I don’t think gays are going to say, yeah, Jack got that one right.

    Christians have acted aggressively too. That’s what Muslims see and think. That doesn’t mean they have a warrant to respond as terrorists do. But to act like we are innocent or only doing what is reasonable is to use the argument by which liberals will carve us Christians up.


  79. “For although some praise his [the Turk’s] government (Islam) because he allows everyone to believe what he will so long as he remains the temporal lord, yet this praise is not true, for he does not allow Christians to come together in public, and no one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed.

    “How can one injure Christ more than with these two things; namely, force and wiles? With force, they prevent preaching and suppress the Word. With wiles, they daily put wicked and dangerous examples before men’s eyes and draw men to them. If we then would not lose our Lord Jesus Christ, His Word and faith, we must pray against the Turks (Islam) as against other enemies of our salvation and of all good. Nay, as we pray against the devil himself….”

    “But as the pope is Antichrist, so the Turk (Islam) is the very devil. The prayer of Christendom is against both. Both shall go down to hell, even though it may take the Last Day to send them there; and I hope it will not be long.”

    Martin Luther, “On War Against the Turk,” 1528


  80. Scott, but have you noticed we don’t speak Russian and still fly the stars and stripes despite Nixon being right? What’s that tell you?


  81. North America was virtually shut out of this situation beyond watching and sympathy.

    We are people who get on boats and planes to fight and then come back home again. Over there they move across the land for war and immigration, and stay when they can.

    The level of entertainment respect for cartoonists over thee wasn’t stated clearly enough in our media. One noted it would be as if Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly were killed in the same attack.


  82. Darryl,

    Jack, Palin is a threat to homosexuals. Not in the same way as Saudi Arabia.

    Understatement of the yet early year…

    But I don’t think gays are going to say, yeah, Jack got that one right.

    I wonder how many would move to Saudi Arabia if, Heavens to Murgatroyd, Palin move into the White House?

    Christians have acted aggressively too. That’s what Muslims see and think. That doesn’t mean they have a warrant to respond as terrorists do. But to act like we are innocent or only doing what is reasonable is to use the argument by which liberals will carve us Christians up.

    Now you’re sounding like Ron Paul. Who is “we”? Individual Christians? The Christian churches? The Crusaders? The United States? The West? Collective guilt? I guess if any of the above have done similar things then there’s no moral or intellectual ground for one to stand on in order to evaluate whether Islam is a theocratic religion which if followed seriously seeks to bring others into submission to Allah? Do all Muslims want that? No. But can a fair case be made that that is part of Islam? Yes, in fact it’s Islamic scholars and clerics who make that very case. Is theocracy at the core of the Christian faith? It doesn’t matter if some liberals or Muslims think it is. If it’s all about what others think then turn out the lights ’cause there’s always someone whose going to point a finger… which means what is true is now dependent on what others think?

    I didn’t hear any reports of the Islamic terrorists in Paris exclaiming “Those Christians or the West committed atrocities and this is to get back at them.” That little magazine simply published edgy-to-tasteless cartoons. And their cry was to declare that they were avenging that offense against Mohammad.

    My concern is simply this. People shouldn’t be naive and just assume that Islam naturally and necessarily fits into the First Amendment model here in the U.S. I would hope it could and that it would. That the moderating effects of living in this country could win the day when it comes to Islamic practice as well as Rabbi Brett! Well, at least we can always hope…



  83. @Darryl,

    Yes, we agree that Christendom was a mistake. Any state-enforcement of religion is a mistake. Christianity was never meant to be enforced by the state.

    Are you suggesting that because Christians erred in imposing Christianity during Christendom that Americans have no recourse but to submit to whatever Islamists demand? Help me understand the logic here?

    We understand Sharia quite differently and I think that your reading of the intent of Sharia is rather different from that of American Islamic scholars. AMJA is demanding that Sharia be implemented such that, in America, no one should be able to criticize the prophet. In America. You seem to assume that they just want to be left alone and if we do so all will be well. That is neither the history of Islam nor does it explain what leading Islamic scholars are saying about their intention.


    As I explained earlier, we don’t speak Russian because, in the wake of WWII, we understood the dangers of Fascism and Baby-Boomers weren’t running our foreign policy. We resisted on multiple fronts simultaneously. Listening to radio from the 1940s and 50s is instructive. It’s remarkable how pro-American the popular media was. Vietnam and the boomers changed all that. Now America is the alleged source of evil and it’s unhip to be pro-American. Fortunately it was not so during most of the cold war. Even my Humphrey-Democrat father was staunchly anti-communist. Were the cold war to be conducted today I fear that things would turn out differently.

    The point is that just as the cold warriors were right to be on guard against communist influence (and even though the collapse of the wall has discredited the practice Marxism it’s stronger than ever on university campuses—I say let them go to Berlin, where, in my experience, people are much less enthusiastic about it—so we too should pay attention now to the potential (and actual) dangers of Islamism.

    What would Islamists have to do to convince you that their intent is to force you to submit to Islam or be silent? Do you know what a Dhimmi is?


  84. Jack, for 1500 years Judaism was theocratic. For 1500 years Christianity was Constantinian — a form of Christian rule. The U.S. and French revolutions upended these patterns.

    Islam has been theocratic for 1400 years. In places like Turkey it is not where a French revolution style took place in 1923.

    It has taken Christians a long time to get used to secular society. The BB’s, neo-Calvinists, Establishment Principle, Christian America folks are still evidence of that.

    So my point is don’t make it seem that Islam has this problem alone. And when Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan see soldiers coming at them which Christian chaplains in tow, you’re telling them this is only a secular republic?


  85. Scott, Muslims in Dearborn have been wanting to be left alone for a century.

    My point is the same I made to Jack. If you paint Islam as an illiberal religion, you embrace liberalism. But liberals don’t buy Christianity and think it is intolerant and illiberal.

    So why not condemn the murders but not the religion? Condemning the religion is going to hurt you and me.


  86. Not all Muslims in Paris are terrorists:

    Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old originally from Mali, is being hailed as a hero for risking his own life to save 15 shoppers at the Paris kosher market that was the scene of carnage on Friday. A quick-thinking Bathily hid a group of shoppers, including one who had a baby, in a basement walk-in freezer when Amedy Coulibaly threatened to kill them. Bathily, who is Muslim, apparently guided the shoppers into the freezer, switched it off and turned off the light and told them to remain calm. “When they came running down I opened the door of the fridge,” he told BMFTV, according to the Guardian. “Several came in with me. I turned off the light and the fridge. When I turned off the cold, I put them in. I closed the door. I told them to stay calm and I said ‘you stay quiet there, I’m going back out.’ ”


  87. Might Charlie Hebdo explain why the French love Jerry Lewis?

    But their work featuring Mohammed could be sophomoric and racist. Not all of it; a cover image of the prophet about to be beheaded by a witless ISIS thug was trenchant commentary on how little Islamic radicalism has to do with the religion itself. But often, the cartoonists simply rendered Islam’s founder as a hook-nosed wretch straight out of Edward Said’s nightmares, seemingly for no purpose beyond antagonizing Muslims who, rightly or wrongly, believe that depicting Mohammed at all is blasphemous.

    This, in a country where Muslims are a poor and harassed minority, maligned by a growing nationalist movement that has used liberal values like secularism and free speech to cloak garden-variety xenophobia. France is the place, remember, where the concept of free expression has failed to stop politicians from banning headscarves and burqas. Charlie Hebdo may claim to be a satirical, equal-opportunity offender. But there’s good reason critics have compared it to “a white power mag.” As Jacob Canfield wrote in an eloquent post at the Hooded Utilitarian, “White men punching down is not a recipe for good satire.”

    So Charlie Hebdo’s work was both courageous and often vile. We should be able to keep both of these realities in our minds at once, but it seems like we can’t.


  88. Darryl,

    Maybe I missed someone’s comment on this, but while there are analogues between Constantinianism and Islamic theocratic tendencies, I think it is a little naive to view Islam and Christianity as political equivalents. Jesus was not a political leader. Muhammad was. There’s a strong case to be made that Islam in any normative form marries church and state. Not so with Christianity, at least if you follow the founders’ examples. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened, but Constantinianism is an aberration in Christianity in a way that the Ottoman Empire is not in Islam.


  89. Robert, only folks who hold a fairly strong 2k outlook, not exactly a large group even among Reformed Christians, think Constantinianism was an aberration. Even Peter thought Jesus was going to restore David’s rule — hence the sword action. You know, every square inch. That doesn’t exactly sound let’s live a quiet and peaceful life in exile until Christ returns.

    And isn’t Christ’s return going to be a tad theocratic?


  90. Nice to see RSC pretty much understands the situation with Islam. I would offer though, that mosques are first and primarily military bases not places of worship. Also Islam itself (which RSC correctly identifies as meaning submission) is first and primarily a political/military force wrapped in religion. To be a Muslim is first and foremost to be soldier in Mohammad’s army. It is the utmost folly for any nation to allow military bases of foreign powers (the caliphate) on their soil. Even crazier is the US policy to allow mosques on US military bases. The religious aspects of Islam are solely for the purpose of ensuring 100% control of the individual and population, because human beings are inherently religious. With Islam submission must be total.

    If you look at it from the correct perspective of the supremacy of the political / military in Islam you can see that it is perfectly legitimate for DGH and followers to embrace Islam. They are seemingly willing Dhimmis. Since by its own definition Islam is the only legitimate government in the world, they are compelled to argue for submission to Islam when it comes to what ever region Christians find themselves.


  91. This should be good:


    “Jason and Christian analyze some of the criticism of the podcast, delving into the nature of the podcast itself. After a third attempt at explaining that they don’t hate Capitalism,”

    “Also, Christian is not an atheist…although he’s considering atheism just to make things easier for everyone.”

    I’ve become their muse.


  92. Almost you sophisticates have persuaded me to repent of my knuckledraggery, but this white southern hillbilly is still closer to the coRnhuSker. I believe Scott would agree that these are personal (not pulpit/session meeting) issues.


  93. George – . That the moderating effects of living in this country could win the day when it comes to Islamic practice as well as Rabbi Brett!

    Erik – Rumor has it the Rabbi is chilling out. Even considering starting a cuddling business on the side.


  94. RSC – Were the cold war to be conducted today I fear that things would turn out differently.

    Erik – Communist countries would still eventually bankrupt themselves regardless of what we do.


  95. Scott, baby boomers may not have been running the foreign policy, but neither were the neo-cons. But it’s not a matter of being convinced that in theory the Islamist wants to impose submission (duh). It’s a question of how realistic that can be in practice given the secular shape the world is in. Christians (even 2k ones) may bemoan that secular shape, but one upside is how it just isn’t very conducive for theocratic religionists of any stripe to impose their political wills. Is it possible? Sure. Is it probable, eh.


  96. Additionally, because Islam is political/military wrapped in religion, to convert from Islam is treason / desertion. The historic penalty for treason and/or desertion is the death penalty, that’s why it is legitimate for Islam to execute those who convert to another religion, in actuality they are deserters/traitors.

    That makes evangelism much harder for the 2K Dhimmis. If you gain a convert from Islam you must turn him in for execution because he is a traitor in the eyes of the caliphate and a deserter from Mohammad’s army. But then since evangelism is illegal under Sharia, and 2K Dhimmis are super patriotic towards the caliphate I guess they don’t have to face that dilemma.


  97. “If you paint Islam as an illiberal religion, you embrace liberalism.” Ding. And say hi to Bill Maher who before stirring the Islamophobia pot recently suggested during the 2008 Presidential campaign that religious tests for political office made sense.


  98. Andrew, if you think the point is to willingly submit to Islam then be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen out there in left field.


  99. The Islamists defeat their own advantage of fear, intimidation and complicit support(among muslims) by the gangland style of terrorism they exhibited in Paris. They actually galvanize the opposition across the board; Russia, Europe, the Americas, etc..Even in Indonesia, the Muslims are turning against the Islamists because of their indiscriminate violence in the Phillipinnes. You’re never safe from indiscriminate violence, but the Kosher market massacre and Hebdo just expedite the the eventual failure of Islamists. I’m sure French legislatures are even now crafting hard line legislation against the immigrant muslim community. Remember what they did with the Romanian gypsies.


  100. Careful, cw. don’t be on the receivinng end of ec (trust me, i know). you have Christ’s righteousness. Knuckledraggery? Hogwash.


  101. Darryl,

    Robert, only folks who hold a fairly strong 2k outlook, not exactly a large group even among Reformed Christians, think Constantinianism was an aberration.

    With all due respect, I think this is a tad overstated. In the Reformed camp, who is saying Constantinianism is the way to go besides theonomists? The Kuypereans are only going to support it in a qualified sense, if at all.

    Even Peter thought Jesus was going to restore David’s rule — hence the sword action. You know, every square inch. That doesn’t exactly sound let’s live a quiet and peaceful life in exile until Christ returns. And isn’t Christ’s return going to be a tad theocratic?

    Peter was wrong on the timing, not necessarily on the principle, no?

    It would be a mistake to deny that Christianity is theocratic in some sense. The difference with Islam is in the administration of the theocracy, and especially its administration in the present era. What goes right back to Jesus is that in the present era, the theocracy is administered invisibly. It’s not an earthly geopolitical kingdom, and even at Christ’s return it won’t be because heaven and earth are coming together at that point. There’s just not a sense for this at all in traditional Islam because Muhammad doesn’t provide the teaching or example. The traditional example, to paint with broad brush strokes, is lie to the infidels until you gain power, break treaties with the Jews, etc. etc. Muhammad did all that. Contrast that with Scripture. In the conquest of Canaan, the treaty with the Gibeonites was kept and the people were spared death according to the terms of the agreement even though the treaty never should have been made to begin with (Josh. 9).
    The Bani Quraytha Jews did not fare so well under Muhammad.

    This isn’t to say that Christianity hasn’t had its share of church-state problems or that we’re innocent. Far from it, and we should acknowledge those facts. It’s also not to say that all Muslims want a return to the Caliphate. But there just isn’t the kind of justification for Constantinianism in Scripture that we find in Islamic sources. Liberal critics with a full-on hate for all religions aren’t going to be able to deal with that nuance, but it doesn’t make it any less true.


  102. Jack,

    My point is that when you have large Muslim nations like Turkey and Indonesia, where the majority could implement Sharia law if they wanted but do not, that should temper any language about most Muslims secretly wanting Sharia Law implemented. No one is denying that the Koran in many places promotes violence against infidels. It’s treatment of women especially is horrific. Yet because it is a book of scattered sayings that do not harmonize into one coherent whole, one can also find the opposite (http://www.juancole.com/2013/04/islamic-forbids-terrorism.html). It all depends on what one wants to find, and how seriously one wants to take it, and that varies Muslim to Muslim, just like in every other major religion. And I would suggest, and some experts concur, that for many Islamic terrorists (not all) religion is simply a smokescreen, the goal is money and power, they actually are not very religious people themselves.

    One of our concerns should be protecting the reputation of our Muslim neighbors, that we do not assume the worst and lump them all together. We need to be careful not to enflame people against an entire religion and people group for the violent acts of a few – it was not too long ago this happened with Japanese Americans in our country. I imagine when Americans actually know Muslims personally they exclude the Muslim student, doctor, neighbor, etc., they know from those who would seek to harm them.


  103. Robert, Federal Visionaries affirm Constantine and Christendom.

    Neo-Calvinists take everything captive for Christ.

    Free Church folks believe in the establishment principle.

    Most Americans believe the nation was founded as a Christian country.


  104. DGH – How would I know? I’m not a theonomist. Christianity is the only religion that has any idea of a separation of Church and State. The rest are all not so much. You guys are delusional if you think that Rome prior to Constantine was a secular state, and then Constantine came along and ruined it. The idea of what you would call a secular state is a really a creature of the enlightenment/modernity. The most secular states in history have been the 1st French Republic, the Soviet Union esp under Stalin and Maoist China esp during the cultural revolution. The separation of state and religion has only ever really been seen when Reformed Christians have effectively run the state so not really ever. The American separation of was always more of an illusion than a reality. The de facto religion of the United States has been the American Civil Religion at least since coup of the Constitutional convention. The thing is, even those secular states really weren’t they were just states dedicated to the religion of atheism/humanism. But it gives you guys something to long for. I get the sense that at the end of the day you “2K” guys cant really decide which is your favored ruling class: Islamists or atheists.


  105. EC – why do you keep attributing comments Jack makes to me? You know something I don’t? (never mind; whatever it is I don’t want to know about it)

    On a different note, an elderly retired pastor I know was sitting in a Starbucks a while back imbibing his favorite brew when a dark complected young woman wearing a scarf came out and began bussing tables. When she came near him he asked her if she was a Muslim (he has a rather forward personality). She looked around the room carefully for a while and then said to him, “Yes, but I’m not one of “those” people.”

    So there does seem to be a difference between the extremists and the run-of-the-mill Muslim. But history also seems to remind us that it’s power (through coercion, threats, and violence) in the hands of a few that keeps everyone else in check. We have plenty of examples of this in contemporary U.S. culture without even having to drag Muslims into the picture.


  106. @Darryl,

    Turkey is an interesting example. One reason why Islamism hasn’t followed the pattern there since the revolution is that the authorities have suppressed Islamism. Things there may be changing, however. Christians there live in constant fear for their lives. It’s not exactly a liberal democratic republic. The orthodox churches won’t even talk to Muslims for fear of crossing the authorities and out of fear of being violently attacked. The few Confessional Reformed people there know that they may be martyred at any moment.

    Here’s an interview I did a few years back, before things became as tense as they are now, with a Reformed pastor in Turkey.

    Jim Treacher has a story this AM explaining why we might be having such a difficult time accepting the reality that Islamists are intent on forcing us, at the point of a gun, to submit: They tend to omit that part of the story.

    As to the equivalence between Islam and Christendom, once more, Christianity began with the death of our Savior, who did not call down legions of angels. It continued as a quiet religion asking only to be left alone. We sought no social revolution nor did we harm anyone. We were misunderstood and martyred. It was that way for two centuries. Of course things changed after the decree(s) of toleration but the point is Christianity is not inherently violent. Islaim began at the point of sword and expanded at the point of the sword. That’s a big difference which should not be glossed over. The only times that Islam has not been at war with the West have been when it has been pacified by force.

    Further, without downplaying the evils of Constantinianism, we should be careful about equating what happened during that period of Christian history with the what Islam has been willing to do. I’ve already given examples which highlight the contrast between Christendom and Islamism. Further, we should remember the context in which Christendom developed. The idea that there should not be a state religion hardly existed. I say “hardly” because the original Christians did not ask for the state’s help but otherwise it was universally assumed that there should be a state religion. Christendom was a great mistake but it given the context in which Christianity spread to Europe it is [wrong but] understandable that it became a state church. What is amazing about Christianity is that it doesn’t need the state to advance it. The same may not be true for Islam.

    Christianity is founded on historical facts: a cross and an empty tomb witnessed by hundreds. Islam is founded on a series of alleged visions. Might it spread without the sword? Probably. Mormonism is quite like Islam (and has a violent past which it was essentially forced to abandon) in its origins and it has spread widely through proselytization. Islam, especially if we include The Nation of Islam, which has a starkly violent history including the murder of Malcom X, is spreading quickly in prisons. It may be advanced at the point of a shank, instead of a sword or a gun, I don’t know but it doesn’t seem to be working that way. People seem to be attracted to the discipline and the fatalism. That’s the only laboratory I know where Islam is growing apart from intimidation and, given the context, who knows what the reality is. Those Americans who have turned to Islam since 9/11 seem to be attracted to it because it is perceived as anti-American, it’s a way to rebel, to poke their families/neighbors in the eye.

    Maybe there will be a time when its attractions will be its apocalyptic claims (like Mormonism) and it’s fatalism and perhaps (like Mormonism) its eschatology but from its beginnings to the present, it’s almost impossible to separate Islam from the sword. The same is not true of Christianity. Even during Christendom, it continued to spread, in some places without the aid of the state and without the force of the sword.


  107. Andrew, sound familiar?

    There you go again… I’ve not argued for the state to do any remedy in the spiritual and conscience dimensions, just the externals. There is a spiritual/conscience dimension to all 10 commandments, not just 1 through 4 & 10, and the state has never had legitimate jurisdiction over the spiritual/conscience aspects, and it shouldn’t try to. But just like many with abortion, you want “blasphemy safe, legal, and rare” — I think we get that. That would make a great bumper sticker for you.

    wimpy theonomists are never appealing.


  108. Scott, I agree about Christian origins. I disagree about the difference between Constantinianism and Islam. If you don’t have the Crusades, maybe you don’t wind up the infidel. And don’t forget that the Ottomans supported Reformed pastors in Hungary; they didn’t want to have to deal with the Holy See.


  109. @Darryl, agreed Islam is not the only historical troubling example of 1K confusion and of using the sword to further religion over the last 3000 years. But it is, far and away, the only real current one.

    @Todd, the best way to not impugn the reputations of our peaceful Muslim neighbors is to not ignore what is in fact currently going on within significant portions of Islam world-wide and even in this country while still making distinctions. In a previous comment I noted the distinction between most peaceful Muslims and what is the current trend among clerics and Islamic countries. Those peaceful Muslims are themselves a little more than concerned about things.

    Peaceful Muslims would benefit if more Muslim leaders like Sissi of Egypt were speaking out:

    Egypt’s president opened the new year with a dramatic call for a “revolution” in Islam to reform interpretations of the faith entrenched for hundreds of years, which he said have made the Muslim world a source of “destruction” and pitted it against the rest of the world.

    Is Sissi inflaming the world against Muslims?

    Btw, don’t be too confident regarding Turkey as the trend established under the AKP hasn’t been encouraging. And Indonesia, likewise, is showing worrisome movement away from secularism as noted at the link:

    To raise these concerns opens one (me) to being characterized as lumping all Muslims into one radical group or being suspicious of all Muslims. In a word, Not…

    Btw, Darryl, a close Muslim friend of mine lives in the Dearborn area. He escaped from Iraq to Syria during the height of the Sunni vs. Shiite terror in 2006. We’ve collaborated on numerous musical projects over a ten year period. I even recorded a song about his escape and time in Syria. After several years as a refugee in Syria he finally made it to the U.S. Yes, he wants to live in peace (and how) yet he is able to see the problem in Islam and make distinctions. It’s guys like him that make me hope for the best…


  110. @Todd,

    Things seem fluid in Indonesia but that’s an interesting case.

    Yes, the Qur’an is incoherent that’s why the Hadith and related legal texts are probably even more important for understanding the impulse to crush dissent. Robert Spencer notes:

    “The ordinary understanding of slander in the West is that it involves making false charges that defame another person. But a manual of Islamic law endorsed by al-Azhar, the most influential institution in Sunni Islam, defines slander as “to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike” (Umdat al-Salik r2.2). Nothing is said about whether or not what is said is true — only that the person would dislike it.


  111. And your quote of me from the past is neither theonomist nor wimpy, but those characterizations are pretty much par for the course when the facts are not on your side. 😉

    I do appreciate you providing an unaltered quote considering your work at Minitrue. You will never advance to inner party membership if you keep making that basic mistake. 😉


  112. Jack,

    If I ever suggested we ignore Muslim violence or literalism you would have a point, but a warning to temper language to protect the innocent is hardly a suggestion to ignore genuine danger, nor did I ever suggest raising concerns about Islam makes one lump all Muslims together.


    I actually agree with David Goldman’s thesis in “How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)” that what we are seeing with the escalating violence is actually the end of radical Islam as a historically significant player in the world. Given the rapidly declining birthrates in the Islamic world along with the desire among most Muslims to join the modern world for its technology and possible advancement, those radical Muslims who see the writing on the wall will go kicking and screaming, thus the escalating violence for a time, which of course needs to be dealt with. Anyway, Goldman is no idiot and backs up his thesis with much data.


  113. Jack, maybe you mean the only real “physical” one. But if you read Richard Gamble’s book on the abuse of Jesus’ phrase, “city on a hill,” and think about the way that most American Christians let that image apply to the United States, you may modify “only real current one.” The body they may kill/God’s truth abideth still.


  114. @Todd,
    My comment about lumping all together was more of a general comment at the end of my comments and not directed to you. Sorry that wasn’t clear and seemed otherwise. Btw, were you suggesting I need to temper my language? If so, I’d be interested to know which comments?

    And I’m not attributing to you personally the ignoring of “Muslim violence or literalism” but that it is definitely a tendency among too many who would separate the violence from any connection to the religion, as is the habit of many of our national leaders. The point was simply that ignoring the truth of that connection doesn’t help peace-loving Muslims. Again, my fault for not being clear.

    One other thing (general comment), in the 13 years since 9/11 there has been much concern and warnings about a backlash against U.S. Muslims in general. It hasn’t happened – I doubt it will and hope it won’t. Bias crime against Muslims actually ranks pretty low compared to other groups.



  115. Darryl,

    Robert, Federal Visionaries affirm Constantine and Christendom.

    I’ve yet to meet a FV’er who is not actually a theonomist as well.

    Neo-Calvinists take everything captive for Christ.

    Are there neo-Calvinists who want to kill Muslims and outlaw all religions except Christianity? Don’t we call those people theonomists?

    Free Church folks believe in the establishment principle.

    Okay, you got me there. So the only people in the Reformed camp who think Constantinianism was good are theonomists and Free Church folks, who could just as well be theonomists as well after a fashion.

    Most Americans believe the nation was founded as a Christian country.

    I don’t see how this makes them Constantinian. Most Americans aren’t looking for the state to make Christianity the only legal religion, and even those that do generally don’t want the state picking between sects like the emperors did.

    But in any case, you agreed with what Scott has said (and me, by extension), about the difference between Christianity and Islam regarding their origins. That’s good. My point is mainly that we should not think that Islam is amenable to secularism in the same way that Christianity is. I don’t see where Islam has any method of self-correction without throwing out Muhammad’s life and example, and the Muslims who will do that are akin to liberal Christians, that is, not really Muslims. We just don’t have that with Jesus, and that’s a a HUGE difference.

    This isn’t to say we don’t have our share of crazies or that all Muslims want to see a new Caliphate. But ISIS can make a credible case that what they are doing is in line with what Muhammad would want both exegetically and historically. The Crusaders can’t. The liberals may not appreciate this nuance, but it doesn’t make it all the less true.


  116. I don’t see where Islam has any method of self-correction without throwing out Muhammad’s life and example, and the Muslims who will do that are akin to liberal Christians, that is, not really Muslims.

    Robert, that’s one way to portray it. Another is a little less awkwardly given to declare by a Christian what a real Muslim is and isn’t, to wit Todd’s previous point which is worth repeating:

    “I think you [Scott, but you by extension] are making the mistake of believing most Muslims actually follow the teachings of the Koran in detail and approach the Koran as conservatives would approach the Bible. That is true of some for sure, a minority, but most Muslims, especially those that have have migrated west, simply want to raise families and live in peace like the rest of us. If we understand that the majority in America who identify themselves as Christians do not take the Bible literally, it should not be too difficult to believe that is the case among Muslims also (the same is true with American Jews – most know little about the Old Testament). And the Koran, not being inspired, is not internally consistent. Much of it calls for violence against infidels, but there are other places which state the opposite, it all depends on the parts you want to follow.”


  117. Interesting to note that the wish for a caliphate bears similarity to the Roman Catholic focus on the Pope. One man gloriously leading all the world’s Christians.

    Bryan and the Callers take note.

    Nothing that happened in Paris falsifies anything Bryan and “we” have been saying, of course.


  118. Darryl, I get the point that many, too many, Christians in this country have viewed and do view the U.S. as a ‘Christian” nation. But our State doesn’t. Did it ever? Maybe unofficially as in certain policy instances but not structurally or constitutionally. And the trend seems pretty well established that it is getting less Christian-policy oriented, both in law and legislation. The only ‘real current’ religious States officially wielding the sword to advance religion are Islamic.

    And I’m with you and Luther on that last sentence. Therein is our hope…


  119. Robert, did Judaism short of Christ or the destruction of the temple have any mechanism for self-correction? (And isn’t modern day Israel with its Zionism an example of incomplete correction?) My point is that Islam is not alone in its troubles. Heck, I’ve heard that Hindus in India can be pretty brutal. So singling out Islam after Paris is like shooting the proverbial goldfish.


  120. Is Turkey under the AKP becoming an aberration of the Ottoman Empire?

    — From NRO:
    “Mildly Islamist” (The Economist) Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been explaining what happened in Paris.

    The Financial Times reports:

    “The duplicity of the west is obvious,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a press conference on Monday evening. “As Muslims we have never sided with terror or massacres: racism, hate speech, Islamophobia are behind these massacres.”

    “The culprits are clear: French citizens undertook this massacre and Muslims were blamed for it…”

    His AK party colleague, Melih Gokcek, mayor of Ankara (I’m unclear whether he’s “mildly Islamist” or something a teeny bit rougher) has gone further:

    “Mossad [the Israeli intelligence service] is definitely behind such incidents . . . it is boosting enmity towards Islam.

    … it is well worth remembering that his AK is a genuinely popular party in Turkey.—-


  121. Uh, maybe a stretch, but perhaps because of the self-identification of the killers themselves as Muslim? I don’t know, just a hunch… Do I think what they did is approved of my most Muslims? No, far from it. But if we as Christians need to be concerned about the Christian Palins of the the world then it seems that at a minimum Erdogan and the AKP are in some deep denial.


  122. Jack, I get that. But if the killers were French citizens and the press doesn’t mention that, doesn’t Erdogan have a point? It would certainly complicate the narrative.


  123. I guess you can say it would complicate matters. But I’m not so sure unless there is some connection between French citizenship and the reason for the killings. Otherwise it just seems to be an otherwise true but incidental descriptor. And btw, I think most reports identified these characters as French Muslims… So, no I don’t think Erdogan has a point. I think he’s trying to muddy the waters.


  124. Looks like Uli Kunkel is winning:

    If all that Europe can say in condemning the despicable murders of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and editors is “We are all Charlie Hebdo,” then what Europe is saying is, in effect, “We are all nihilists.” And how, pray, is nihilism—nothingness raised to a first principle, skepticism taken to the last extreme—supposed to defeat conviction, however warped that conviction is? If all that Europe can say to murderous jihadism is “Why can’t we all just get along?” its fecklessness will make it an even softer target for the kind of lethal fanaticism that recently turned Paris into a war zone.

    At least National Socialism was an ethos.


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