Who's Afraid of a Secular Faith?

Chris Gerhz is worried about Islamophobia among evangelicals in the United States:

In the 2015 edition of its annual American Values Survey, PRRI asked about a number of topics, but coming a day after multiple Republican candidates proposed that Christian and Muslim refugees be treated differently as they seek asylum in the U.S., this finding stood out:

73% of evangelicals agree that the “values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.”

Kidd, American Christians and IslamNow, a majority of Americans (56%) feel this way, as do majorities in every Christian group. (Non-Christians and nonreligious are more likely to disagree than agree with the statement, and black and Hispanic Americans are evenly divided.) But that 73% number is ten points higher than the next most Islamophobic group (white mainline Protestants).

But he is also worried about secularization as a solution:

I almost don’t know where to start, I’m so appalled by that 73% number.

Probably the best place is to question how much evangelicals or any other Christians ought to worry about sustaining “American values and way of life.” Insofar as there’s such a thing as “national values” and they’re consistent with the values of he who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” then sure, try to uphold them. But this just makes me more concerned about evangelical susceptibility to different kinds of secularization.

One way out of the problem is at least to decouple U.S. and Christian identity. If the U.S. is not a Christian nation, then it should conceivably be open to law abiding people of all faiths. If notions of religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism, are not revealed in holy writ, then we don’t need to attach to them religious meaning or consequence. So if evangelicals abandoned Christian nationalism, if they regarded the church — not the nation — as the locus of Christian identity, they might have a different reaction to Muslims living in the United States.

And isn’t that exactly what secularity is? A recognition that the heavenly city is not bound up with the earthly city? If we can’t identify God’s way with Rome, Geneva, Scotland, or the Netherlands, then Christians should be less invested in the religious identity of civil authorities who are only temporal (read secular), that is, rulers who are provisional and not of eternal or spiritual significance.

In which case, doesn’t that make a secular faith the solution to Islamophobia? (See what I did there?)

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152 thoughts on “Who's Afraid of a Secular Faith?

  1. I admit that my general suspicion of Muslims is about statistics and (IMHO) common sense rather than Xian in nature. No need to baptize my prejudice. And honesty evidence of sanctification, right?

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  2. Sacks claims that being hybrid won’t be a working “solution”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/opinion/finding-peace-within-the-holy-texts.html?_r=0

    Is being a Christian minority merely one more identity we add alongside our other identities? Or do private Christians have liberty ta decide for themselves if they want to “Benedict exile” out from being democratic partners with a nation-state, either as secularists or as theonomists?

    Does it matter if we are (or are not) “hybrids” when our identity is the people identified by God with Christ’s death? (Romans 6)

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  3. I’m not afraid of a secular faith, but I am unnerved that there are apparently a substantial number of Muslims who have no use for religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, and federalism.

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  4. So if evangelicals abandoned Christian nationalism, if they regarded the church — not the nation — as the locus of Christian identity, they might have a different reaction to Muslims living in the United States.

    One doesn’t follow the other for several reasons, not the least of which is that muslims would have to abandon muslim nationalism, in other words they would have to abandon Islam which is decidedly NOT 2k. Good luck with that. You’d also have to get Christians to ignore the ample evidence that Islam is (and always has been) at war with the West – and everyone else with whom it comes in contact. As Samual Huntington noted, “Islam has bloody borders.” Being 2K doesn’t mean advocating that the state reject common sense and abandon it’s central duty to protect its citizens.

    This notion also doesn’t leave any room for culture. One can, appropriately, abandon Christian nationalism and still prefer to live life in a Christian influenced or Christian friendly culture.

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  5. If notions of religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism, are not revealed in holy writ, then we don’t need to attach to them religious meaning or consequence.

    On what basis should someone hold to these ideas? And how do you deal with those who don’t hold to them and/or affirmatively reject them?

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  6. Freedom of religion is a truce. We agree not to knife each other over the Eucharist, Monergism, or Buddha, but it takes all parties agreeing to the truce. Once the truce is broken by one party the knives come back out.

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  7. JetStar – Exactly.

    The problem with 2K is that sometimes its adherents overreach. 2K is a theological doctrine – one that is good and sound, but that most Christians don’t agree on and many explicitly reject. But they at least agree not to kill each other. They (we) agree on most first principles on which political solutions can be worked out in the political sphere. The problems start when other parties reject the first principles. And it’s not just Islam, though it is the most obvious, most violent, and longest lived example. Rejection of the first principles DGH describes above – religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism – has also been a hallmark of the political Left in its radical forms.

    The question that we still have to answer is on what basis should someone hold to these ideas if not on the basis of the revealed, moral law? And how does society and/or the regime deal with those who don’t hold to them and/or affirmatively rejects them?

    Jefferson appealed to “nature and nature’s God” as the author of self-evident truths, but while that is true in a certain sense, (Romans 1:18-32) saying so little seems like a cop out for Christians.

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  8. Pub, why is it a cop out if those outside the church don’t have a redemptive relationship with God? If you’re outside the church, all you know him as is creator, right? If you’re outside the church you don’t have a right to a redemptive relationship. Fatherhood is granted not presumed or taken, right?

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  9. “John Murray’s Mono-Covenantalism” in By Faith Alone, edited by Gary Johnson and Guy Waters

    David Gordon—“John Murray believed that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it.”

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  10. Perhaps 2K taken to an extreme can be a form of fatalism: Whether my children are sold in slavery and I’m tortured to death, or I live in a nice town with good laws and neighbors it is all the same. I concern myself only with the Word and Sacrament and whatever happens outside of the walls of my church and home is the Will of God and none of my business.

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  11. sean – It seems like a cop-out for those in the Church not those outside of it because it intentionally withholds the whole truth. If you’re outside the Church you should know God as creator and as law-giver in the sense that the law is written on their hearts (Romans 2:15). And right, Fatherhood is granted, not presumed. But, the question is still the same – on what basis can a political settlement of the type Darryl describes be formed?

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  12. Pubs, you afford great diversity within Christianity but also claim “Islam is (and always has been) at war with the West – and everyone else with whom it comes in contact.” I wonder if you’re reading Islam with fundamentalist lenses:

    “The core issue, they say, is that Wood appears to have fallen prey to an inaccurate trope all too common in many Western circles: that ISIS is an inevitable product of Islam, mainly because the Qur’an and other Islamic texts contain passages that support its horrific acts…Although Wood qualifies his claim by pointing briefly to the theological diversity within Islam, Islam scholars argue that he glosses over one of the most important components of any faith tradition: interpretation. Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York, told ThinkProgress that Wood’s argument perpetuates the false idea that Islam is a literalistic tradition where violent texts are taken at face value.”

    http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/02/18/3624121/atlantic-gets-dangerously-wrong-isis-islam/

    Try harder. Christianity does indeed have its own jihadists, just as Islam has its 2kers. A secular nation wherein Christians live at peace with Mooselimbs and vice versa is entirely possible.

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  13. Zrim – Islam has about as many 2Kers as Christianity, i.e., not many and there is 1,200 years of war to prove it. And unlike in Christianity, any 2K version of Islam is a modern invention. Traditional Islam does not and never has recognized a 2K distinction. If it reforms itself at some, great. Until then we have to deal with the fact that ISIS is at war with everyone around, especially the West. And they control most of North Africa and large swaths of the Middle East.

    Are the Christians living at peace with their Muslim neighbors there?

    My question remains, on what basis is that peace made? Where is the great Islamic Republic dedicated to “religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism?”

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  14. zrim – One more thing – A safe rule of thumb is that if ThinkProgress says something the precise opposite is true. Ditto for Union Theological Seminary.

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  15. Pubs, you’re missing the point. Who cares if Islam has never recognized a 2k distinction? Plenty of its adherents do. If you want to say that makes them bad Muslims then fine, but then be prepared to be called a bad Christian for not being a theonomist.

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  16. Pubs, one more thing…isn’t that a form of political correctness to write off a whole source even when it has a point?

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  17. zrim – Who are they? Where are they? I don’t buy the “silent majority” theory. A straightforward reading of Islam commands violence against and subjugation of infidels. Plenty of imams preach it. The dominant strains of Islam affirm it. The Islamic states practice it and so do many, many of its adherents. But ThinkProgress and UTS think they are doing it wrong. Maybe they should go to Raqqa and enlighten them.

    What political settlement do you make with them? What political settlement do you make with any group that rejects your first principles?

    But my original point was not about Islam. It was this: The question that we still have to answer is on what basis should someone hold to these ideas (religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism) if not on the basis of the revealed, moral law? And how does society and/or the regime deal with those who don’t hold to them and/or affirmatively rejects them?

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  18. zrim – Given the history of ThinkProgress it is a compromised source. A liar might not being lying 100% of the time, but nobody trusts them anyway.

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  19. 100 years ago, Americans did not hesitate to inculcate a secular American ideology in immigrants. Read Leo Rosten’s Hyman Kaplan stories, centered around an “English and Americanization” class. But for many years, the American ideology fostered by those in power has been one of apology and self-denigration. To expect immigrant Muslims to adopt this as their own, in place of jihadism is to indulge in fantasy.

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  20. Pubs, but in other places the Qur’an connects the permission for war with the need to protect the houses of worship of other religions. So I’m no expert, but a “straight forward” reading seems to be code for reading the book by its worst possible interpretors and practitioners.

    But you’re sounding like the worldview epistemologists who say unbelievers have no basis for living good lives, which is simply a sophisticated game of theoretical got’chya. Who cares if unbelievers lose the epistemological test? Like Paul says in Romans, they live it. So you can theorize all you bloody want about first principals, but there are peaceful adherents. But if you “don’t buy the silent majority” theory then not only do you take the most cynical premise available but there’s not much more that can be said.

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  21. Pubs, ever heard of Dearborn? Lotta peaceful Islam over there. Secular America has a way of letting Little Geneva and Little Instanbul abide peacefully in the same state.

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  22. Pub, so, did Paul ‘cop out’ in 1 cor 5 when he refused to deal with the pagan neighbor in the same manner he dealt with one who was named among the brethren? Paul even ‘cops out’ so far as to say ‘what have I to do with judging those outside the church God judges them’. I’m not buying the cop out. Sounds like plain old apostolic 2k. So, we still try to do a set up on created order-NL. Doesn’t mean it’s always gonna work out. That’s the whole pilgrim life, right? Waiting on a better city? Living in tension. Or as Bowie and Mercury sang(and Vanilla Ice stole from, allegedly), Under Pressure.

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  23. zrim – So there are peaceful adherents. I am willing to stipulate that and I don’t think anybody disputes it. But what’s the point of saying it? I think I’m missing you somewhere.

    And here’s the question I have posed multiple times which was my original reason for posting but which has been successfully ignored:

    On what basis should someone hold to these ideas (religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism) if not on the basis of the revealed, moral law? And how does society and/or the regime deal with those who don’t hold to them and/or affirmatively rejects them?

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  24. I Peter 4: 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and since it begins with US, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

    I Corinthians 5: 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus with my spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 hand that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit will be saved in the Day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast

    I Corinthians 5—the kind of sexual immorality that is not even TOLERATED among the Gentiles—a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are inflated with pride, instead of filled with grief so that he who has committed this act IS removed from your congregation.

    5: 11- do not associate with anyone who CLAIMS TO BE a believer[ who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? 13 But God judges outsiders. put away the evil person from among yourselves

    Matthew 18: 15 “If your BROTHER sins (against you), go (individually) and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more individuals with you, in order that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact will be established. 17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church (more than two or three).But if he does not pay attention even to the church, let him be LIKE an unbeliever (not a brother)

    II Thessalonians 3: 14 And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person. Do not associate with him, in order that he will be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him AS A BROTHER

    Amos 3 Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against YOU, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: 2 “YOU only have I known
    of all the families of the earth;
    THEREFORE I will punish YOU
    for all your iniquities.

    Romans 1: 4 Therefore God handed over in the cravings of THEIR hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They handed over the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen…28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God handed them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.

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  25. sean – Perhaps I was not clear. The potential cop out I refer to arises when Christians are involved in the earthly kingdom – in the civil/political world. Should a Christian support a law that prohibits fraud or one that enforces contracts? Why or why not? If a Christian should or does support such a law and gives as his reason something that falls short of the revealed moral law then he is not telling the whole truth. And that is a cop out and is itself dishonest.

    As regards 1 Corinthians 5 when Paul says, “What have I to do with judging outsiders” he is certainly not banishing Christians from civil and political life and my comments are directed at the intersection of civil/political life with one’s Christianity. Recognizing the existence of 2 kingdoms ought not to suggest that there is no overlap between them. We all live simultaneously in both.

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  26. http://www.faithfreedom.org/jacques-ellul-on-the-impossibility-of-integrating-muslims-in-western-societies/

    In Shadows of Cavernous Shades (2002) Erik Persson deals with the roots of Modernism in Arabic philosophy. It is not just a question of an Islamicized Aristotle. There is the ambition to dominate being with knowledge. . Persson offers a creative investigation of the possible roots in Islam of western utopianism. What happens in utopianism is that the the future perfect kingdom is placed into the present age.

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  27. Zrim
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink
    Pubs, ever heard of Dearborn? Lotta peaceful Islam over there. Secular America has a way of letting Little Geneva and Little Instanbul abide peacefully in the same state.

    So far, so good. Well, mostly.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/muslims-stone-christians-mini-holy-war-dearborn-michigan

    But the Muslim population in the US is miniscule. As long as we have a few “Litlle Istanbuls,” it’s not that big a deal. But look at Europe, where in some areas it has reached a critical mass–the results have not been promising. Google “banlieues” or “Rotherham.”

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  28. @cvd
    Thanks for the link to the pew results. The appendix on US muslims was interesting. They are, as expected, more moderate than muslims worldwide. On the other hand, nearly 1 in 10 think suicide bombings are justifiable. Pretty sobering. I wonder how many evangelicals or other conservative Christians would say that they believe violence against say abortion providers can be justified.

    Of course talk is cheap – action is something else…

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  29. How do you deal with American Muslims who hold to Sharia law? How about treating them like Americans.

    Every American is entitled to the protection of the First Amendment and our free speech jurisprudence means that we allow groups to advocate for their beliefs, even if their beliefs are hateful.

    We don’t allow people to threaten others, to conspire to commit terrorism, or otherwise break the law. But we do allow them to voice their opinions — let the marketplace of ideas sort them out.

    After all, we have allowed our own homegrown American terrorist group to speak freely, to march, to protest, and even to erect a giant cross in front of a state capitol building — and this group claims to be Christian.

    So while I don’t want to minimize the threat of Islamic terrorism — we should not allow fear to cause us to treat Muslims, fundamentalist or otherwise, any worse than we treat the KKK.

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  30. Pubs, the point in saying it seems obvious–in the real world where interpretation and practice can run a wiiiiiiiide gambit, there are at least as many peaceful Mooselimbs adherents as there are violent. YOU just disputed it. What are you talking about?

    On what basis should someone hold to these ideas (religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism) if not on the basis of the revealed, moral law?

    What’s the point of the question?

    And how does society and/or the regime deal with those who don’t hold to them and/or affirmatively rejects them?

    Tell them to start their own country?

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  31. zrim – Yep, I’ve more than heard of Dearborn, I’ve been there. Most of my extended family is in and around Detroit. Until the past 10 years or so Dearborn was largely Chaldean, i.e. Christian. In recent years it’s become more heavily Muslim. It’s now about 40% Muslim and has changed dramatically. In fact Dearborn, with a population of 96,000 has more residents on the federal terror watch list than any city except New York. (http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/08/report_more_residents_in_dearb.html)

    We used to go to Dearborn for restaurants and some Chaldean markets. Not anymore. No one goes there anymore. A lot of the Chaldeans were chased out – they’e not welcome – and the neighborhood has gotten seedier and much less friendly.

    Dearborn (Little Istanbul) is not a good example of multiculti tolerance and kumbaya singing. As it turns out neither is Big Istanbul where 70,000 people booed the moment of silence for the victims in Paris and chanted Allah Akbar instead.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2015/11/18/turkish-soccer-fans-disrupt-moment-of-silence-for-paris-attack-victims/

    The assimilation you speak of belongs to another era and that is a great shame. Not only is assimilation not encouraged today it is positively discouraged. This is a problem. Are you suggesting that America promote a civil religion to assimilate immigrants?

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  32. So who here sides with the governors opposing taking in the refugees and who sides with the administration?

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  33. In theory, there is no religious test for office-bearing in the American empire. In practice, we assume that the “natural law” thinking of the Roman Catholic Supreme Court is “Christian” .

    Does this men the empire should give no preference to Syrian refugees (and their children) who profess to be Christians, or would it be simpler to assume that they are all Muslims?

    http://m.voanews.com/a/syrian-iraqi-bishops-urge-faithful-not-to-join-refugee-flow/2977430.html

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  34. zrim –

    …there are at least as many peaceful Mooselimbs adherents as there are violent. YOU just disputed it.

    I didn’t dispute that and I didn’t say there aren’t “peaceful Mooselimbs.” You read that into my comments. The fact, that you have affirmed, is that there is a significant percentage of violent Muslims. So, what are we arguing about?

    Like I said, my original post in this thread used Islam as an example because Darryl did in his post but it was really about 2k. I am concerned that we project our own values and hermeneutics onto others and that this causes potentially dangerous unintended consequences. The question I posed relates to Darryl’s original post:

    On what basis should someone hold to these ideas (religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism) if not on the basis of the revealed, moral law? Why should anyone believe in those things in the first place and how should a 2Ker defend them?

    And to go back to Darryl’s original post, when he says So if evangelicals abandoned Christian nationalism, if they regarded the church — not the nation — as the locus of Christian identity, they might have a different reaction to Muslims living in the United States. I think that is a bit of a straw man. In my experience most evangelicals are almost embarassingly obsequious in their relations with all immigrants. And that winsomeness is largely laudable. But what most people are attached to is their culture. And people are not wrong in preferring to live in a Christian-friendly or Christian-influenced American nor does that preference make them theonomists.

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  35. Pub, I think we’re understanding each other. I’m still not going to give SR as the undergirding of the why or why not of an action in the common realm when GR is adequate and given for that end. To give SR would be a misapplication of cultic norms to a non-cultic ‘sphere’. Which is why I don’t shun and do sup with my pagan neighbor who is sexually immoral but not one who goes by ‘brother’.

    But, yes, there is moral law overlap.

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  36. sean – So if someone asked why you supported a law against fraud you would give a GR response when in fact you believe fraud is wrong based on both GR and SR? I can understand why in some situations there might be prudential reasons for that, but in general I would want to be candid with my interlocutor.

    What is more, GR arguments tend to sound hollow. People believe in laws against fraud but will commit fraud if they think they can get away with it. GR doesn’t have any teeth.

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  37. I didn’t dispute that and I didn’t say there aren’t “peaceful Mooselimbs.” You read that into my comments. The fact, that you have affirmed, is that there is a significant percentage of violent Muslims. So, what are we arguing about?

    Pubs, you said: “Who are they? Where are they? I don’t buy the ‘silent majority’ theory.” I took this to mean you dispute the idea that a substantial population of peacefuls exist. No?

    But your experience with eeeevangelicals must be different. Mine are virtually synonymous with rightist culture, which is largely xenophobic. They may want to win them into their churches, but they certainly don’t want them in seats of political power. It would run counter to and corrupt their notions of Christian America. That may not make them theonomists per se, but it does reveal their religious nationalist streak.

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  38. What is more, GR arguments tend to sound hollow. People believe in laws against fraud but will commit fraud if they think they can get away with it. GR doesn’t have any teeth.

    The sound you hear is abiding human sin. GR is from God, thus perfectly sufficient to do its work in its intended realm. The problem lies in human agency. Just because sinners sin doesn’t mean there is anything inherently flawed with law, whether special or general.

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  39. Zrim,

    Who cares if Islam has never recognized a 2k distinction? Plenty of its adherents do.

    But not enough to give us the secular country with a Muslim majority that is a paradise for freedom. Surely that’s significant. The best example we can give is Turkey, but Christians don’t exactly have true freedom there, despite what the constitution might say. Christians are routinely harassed by public “secular” officials.

    Perhaps once Islam has been around for a few hundred more years it might happen, but I personally doubt it. From the get-go Islam has merged church and state. Christianity did not. It took 300 years to get a Constantine. We can’t pretend that such a reality is not significant when we’re talking about this issue.

    If you want to say that makes them bad Muslims then fine, but then be prepared to be called a bad Christian for not being a theonomist.

    But from the get-go Islam was opposed by the sword and cultures were forced to adopt sharia law, except for some carve outs for Christians and Jews where they got to keep their own ways as long as they allowed themselves to be taxed into poverty and promised not to try and make converts. Islamic theonomy goes back to Muhammad. Christianity is historically different in that respect. That is significant.

    A secular nation wherein Christians live at peace with Mooselimbs and vice versa is entirely possible.

    I think that is true as long as Christians are in the majority. As Tom rightly noted, things are different in Europe. Maybe if the majority of Muslims are nominal and they are the majority of a country’s citizens it could happen as well. But I don’t know of a real example. Turkey is probably the closest we’ve got, and I wouldn’t say that Christians and Muslims are at peace. More like an uneasy truce wherein the government is more than willing to look the other way when Christians are harassed. That’s not peace.

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  40. But not enough to give us the secular country with a Muslim majority that is a paradise for freedom. Surely that’s significant. The best example we can give is Turkey, but Christians don’t exactly have true freedom there, despite what the constitution might say. Christians are routinely harassed by public “secular” officials.

    Robert, just because Muslims haven’t given us an America doesn’t mean its adherents can’t learn to live well within America, which was my point. The American project has influenced Muslims (and others) more than Christianity has shaped America.

    Turkey is probably the closest we’ve got, and I wouldn’t say that Christians and Muslims are at peace. More like an uneasy truce wherein the government is more than willing to look the other way when Christians are harassed. That’s not peace.

    Again, so what? Plenty of Muslims live as good citizens in America and at peace with their non-Muslims neighbors. Isn’t that significant? Or are you from the tribe that says those who do are secretly waiting to for a breach in the wall so that they can take over and slit our throats?

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  41. @cvd
    Dunno… I am generally all for expansive immigration, but I think we should know who we let in. Not sure what is legit and what is hype on this particular case.

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  42. Pub, it all depends on the situation. But I’d want to stick with the principle that GR is adequate to order the non-cultic or common sphere. If I’m manning any sort of position that establishes policy in a civil sphere, I’m not trading on cultic-norms to order it. Cultic-norms are privileged and rightly applied only to the cult(church).

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  43. Zrim,

    Plenty of Muslims live as good citizens in America and at peace with their non-Muslims neighbors. Isn’t that significant?

    Sure. But are they good Muslims following the example of Muhammad?

    And I’m not of the school that believes the majority of Muslims in this country are waiting to slit our throats. I just know that the road to trouble is paved with good intentions. To the extent that we can properly vet people, I”m all for letting anyone in who wants to come in.

    Robert, just because Muslims haven’t given us an America doesn’t mean its adherents can’t learn to live well within America, which was my point.

    But are the Muslims who learn to live well within America following Muhammad’s example? That’s the million-dollar question. There is no separation of church and state in the Islamic sources. There is in the New Testament.

    The American project has influenced Muslims (and others) more than Christianity has shaped America.

    That’s interesting. How would you prove or quantify that? I’m not necessarily saying you are wrong, just curious.

    But in any case, the vast wealth and opportunity of this country has certainly had a nominalizing effect on Muslims, just as it has had on Christians. But of course the Bible warned Israel about not forgetting God once they were living in the land of plenty. And I’d rather have a nominal Muslim as my neighbor than one who is pushing for the imposition of sharia law.

    The American project has also pissed off a lot of Muslims, including some who live here, but certainly a large number overseas. Turns out a lot of Muslims aren’t keen on us imposing secularization elsewhere. Course that’s a different issue. Imposing secularization elsewhere probably shouldn’t be an American value if we’re going by American sources.

    But in any case, it’s quite the stretch to parallel the accusation that Christians who are not theonomists as being bad Christians. Jesus never said or did anything about imposing the law on the culture. It just doesn’t work the other way. If you want to be faithful to Muhammad and the rightly guided (the Muslim term) caliphs, you spread the dar al-Islam by any means necessary, including the sword. And, of course, Muhammad is the supreme example of Islamic piety.

    You have to give up a lot of Islam to live peacefully in a non-Islamic secular state. Not so much Christianity, I think.

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  44. Sure. But are they good Muslims following the example of Muhammad?…But are the Muslims who learn to live well within America following Muhammad’s example? That’s the million-dollar question…it’s quite the stretch to parallel the accusation that Christians who are not theonomists as being bad Christians. Jesus never said or did anything about imposing the law on the culture. It just doesn’t work the other way.

    Robert, this has been part of the point I’ve been trying to make. First, you’re using a somewhat biblicist hermeneutic to assess what is a good Muslim–does that seem charitable given that even in Christianity there are more than biblicists to interpret it? You may not think the parallel works, but that’s the point. Why do you get to throw the yellow flag of interpretation for your own particular religious beliefs that resist theonomy but a Muslim can’t without being told he’s a bad Muslim for not also being a jihadist?

    Second, what difference does it make? If they are living peacefully with us, then that seems (as you say) significant. All we want in the polis are good citizens. What good does it do to tell those who are good citizens that they’re bad Muslims, that if they want to be good Muslims they must be bad citizens? My own hunch is that much of it stems from being eager to portray false religion in its worst possible light (as when saying all Mormons are cultists, where “cult” means something anti-social and a universal evil). Hello, cynicism.

    “The American project has influenced Muslims (and others) more than Christianity has shaped America.”

    That’s interesting. How would you prove or quantify that?

    Dearborn, where plenty of Muslims are good citizens (no fair plucking out the bad eggs who give them black eyes). I have to believe there more pockets of Muslims elsewhere who live as observant religionists and good citizens simultaneously.

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  45. Robert
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    But in any case, it’s quite the stretch to parallel the accusation that Christians who are not theonomists as being bad Christians. Jesus never said or did anything about imposing the law on the culture. It just doesn’t work the other way. If you want to be faithful to Muhammad and the rightly guided (the Muslim term) caliphs, you spread the dar al-Islam by any means necessary, including the sword. And, of course, Muhammad is the supreme example of Islamic piety.

    You have to give up a lot of Islam to live peacefully in a non-Islamic secular state. Not so much Christianity, I think.

    Please permit me to embarrass you in front of your friends with props, Robert. 😉

    Theonomy is not intrinsically bad or evil. It certainly was the “worldview” of the Puritans who set sail for America with little more than the clothes on their backs to found a community that lived under God’s law.

    If I were an sincere and observant Muslim who stopped whatever I was doing 5 times a day to pray to God, I wouldn’t think it unreasonable to want my Muslim values reflected in my society-government-country.

    And just because I don’t want to live under Islamic values doesn’t make me an “Islamophobe” either.

    Or maybe it does, but the use of the word is intellectually dishonest, because anything with “-phobe” in it is intellectually dishonest because it begs the question. I’m a Naziphobe and an abortionphobe and all sorts of “-phobes” they never talk about. “-Phobe” is not a neutral locution.

    If you want to be faithful to Muhammad and the rightly guided (the Muslim term) caliphs, you spread the dar al-Islam by any means necessary, including the sword.

    Funny, as I was reading the other day, Christianity is kinda of sorry about the Crusades. But in the Muslim world, Islam’s historical military victories are a source of pride, not shame. I think this backs up your point.

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  46. Zrim
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Dearborn, where plenty of Muslims are good citizens (no fair plucking out the bad eggs who give them black eyes). I have to believe there more pockets of Muslims elsewhere who live as observant religionists and good citizens simultaneously.

    It’s a critical mass question. Nobody’s saying there is a “Muslim problem” in America.

    Yet.

    But as we bring in more and more of the lower classes instead of the upper crust like the Iranians who could afford to flee Khomeini’s “Islamic Republic,” we can only look to Europe, and the Muslim world itself.

    JetStar
    Posted November 18, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
    Zrim,

    Three examples?

    Still MIA on this one, Mr. Zrim. Until you can name 3 majority-Muslim countries you’d actually live in, this is pointless. There are dozens of majority-Christian countries that Muslims are beating down the doors of.

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  47. zrim – The American project has influenced Muslims (and others) more than Christianity has shaped America.

    This is a breathtaking rewrite of history. You’re letting your fidelity to an overwrought theory of 2K to color your understanding of the history of this country.

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  48. zrim –

    I replied to your Dearborn comment earlier but it’s stuck in moderation so here’s another try:

    zrim – Yep, I’ve more than heard of Dearborn, I’ve been there. Most of my extended family is in and around Detroit. Until the past 10 years or so Dearborn was largely Chaldean, i.e. Christian. In recent years it’s become more heavily Muslim. It’s now about 40% Muslim and has changed dramatically. In fact Dearborn, with a population of 96,000 has more residents on the federal terror watch list than any city except New York. (http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/08/report_more_residents_in_dearb.html)

    We used to go to Dearborn for restaurants and some Chaldean markets. Not anymore. No one goes there anymore. A lot of the Chaldeans were chased out – they’e not welcome – and the neighborhood has gotten seedier and much less friendly.

    Dearborn (Little Istanbul) is not a good example of multiculti tolerance and kumbaya singing. As it turns out neither is Big Istanbul where 70,000 people booed the moment of silence for the victims in Paris and chanted Allah Akbar instead.

    The assimilation you speak of belongs to another era and that is a great shame. Not only is assimilation not encouraged today it is positively discouraged. This is a problem. Are you suggesting that America promote a civil religion to assimilate immigrants?

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  49. dgh–“Some of the critics of Obama have ridiculed wars fought in the name of political ideology. But I would gladly have wars fought to pursue some sort of civil good than a war fought for the sake of true faith. In fact, if you are going to recommend wars in the name of Christ over wars for “merely” political ends, are you any different from the killers who took the lives of Charlie Hebdo’s staff? Both are killing in the name of faith.” https://oldlife.org/2015/02/apologies-that-defy-belief/

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  50. Zrim,

    Robert, this has been part of the point I’ve been trying to make. First, you’re using a somewhat biblicist hermeneutic to assess what is a good Muslim–does that seem charitable given that even in Christianity there are more than biblicists to interpret it?

    But I’m not using a biblicist hermeneutic. According to the Qur’an, the hadith, the tradition of the rightly guided Caliphs (the first 4 after Muhammad), and much of Islamic history, you impose sharia by force if you can’t impose it by “evangelism.” It goes back to the very beginning.

    There is no separation of church and state in Islam and, indeed, there can’t be when the first Muslims have the experience of ruling Mecca and Medina. There’s no such parallel in Christianity. Romans 13 etc. show that if anything, Christians should expect to live in societies that are at best indifferent to them.

    You may not think the parallel works, but that’s the point. Why do you get to throw the yellow flag of interpretation for your own particular religious beliefs that resist theonomy but a Muslim can’t without being told he’s a bad Muslim for not also being a jihadist?

    If a Muslim wants to discuss this, he’s welcome to. I could be wrong. But given that even secular scholars of religion will admit that there is no separation of church and state in Islam, I don’t see how you get a 2K Muslim who is being consistent with Islam. The very nature of the religion has to change and its earliest history has to be denied, as well as much of its tradition. You simply don’t have to do that with Christianity. Between the Bible’s extensive teaching on living in exile and as pilgrims, the entire NT, and the earliest Christian history, some version of 2K is entirely consonant with Christian beliefs.

    Second, what difference does it make? If they are living peacefully with us, then that seems (as you say) significant. All we want in the polis are good citizens. What good does it do to tell those who are good citizens that they’re bad Muslims, that if they want to be good Muslims they must be bad citizens? My own hunch is that much of it stems from being eager to portray false religion in its worst possible light (as when saying all Mormons are cultists, where “cult” means something anti-social and a universal evil). Hello, cynicism.

    Yes, all we want in the polls are good citizens and Muslims can be good citizens. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Most Muslims in this country are here for economic reasons and just want to raise their children in peace.

    But the question of whether good Muslims can live in a 2K, separation of church and state is a vital one that needs to shape our foreign policy. The whole, let’s be politically correct and pretend Islam isn’t an animating factor in terrorism or that the terrorists are bad Muslims is naive.

    Dearborn, where plenty of Muslims are good citizens (no fair plucking out the bad eggs who give them black eyes).

    But as noted, Dearborn is no paradise, and it has become more and more rough and less Western the more Muslims have moved in there. There have been incidents of the police curbing the efforts of Christian evangelists in the area in order to keep the peace.

    But this is the pattern we see in other places where there are large numbers of Muslims, particularly when they form insular communities. In Europe, several Muslim communities in various Western countries are petitioning to allow for sharia to govern their own communities where secular law should normally apply.

    I have to believe there more pockets of Muslims elsewhere who live as observant religionists and good citizens simultaneously.

    Why? If the Muslims haven’t managed separation of church and state in any Islamic country, why should we think this?

    BTW, there’s also plenty in Islamic sources to justify living fine under non-Islamic governance until you can get enough Muslims to petition for sharia governance. Is there anything parallel to this in Christian sources?

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  51. Darryl,

    Publius, Christendom also has bloody borders. If Rome can give up its temporal power, why not Islam?

    It can—if it changes the fundamental nature of its religion and ignores early tradition and sources.

    Christianity did this without that. In fact, one can easily prove that Christendom is an aberration according to early Christian sources and history. To justify it, you have to change the nature of those sources, so changing is a return to the origins of the religion.

    This is not so in Islam. The dar al-Islam is not an aberration and required no change to implement the conquering of lands. Its part of the DNA of the religion in a way that Christendom never was and never could be.

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  52. JetStar, or maybe a nice town, good laws and neighbors are not the New Jerusalem. Maybe.

    2kers are concerned with this world. But they don’t have thus says the Lord for it and they don’t immanentize the eschaton.

    You?

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  53. Dan, Americanization was also bound up with modernist Protestantism. Confessional Presbyterians rejected Americanization. So have Dutch Calvinists. There are different ways of rejecting Americanization. I don’t understand why those who reject Americanization can’t sympathize with others who do.

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  54. Publius, read the story:

    The chanting was not meant to be a show of disrespect for the victims, however, says Ahmed Bedier, a frequent media commentator on Islamic issues.

    “Fans were chanting a popular Turkish chant against terrorism,” he said via his Facebook page. “It has become common practice for Turkish fans to chant during moments of silence [to] honor the victims.”

    Turkey’s manager Fatih Terim disagreed with the method, though, and expressed his disapproval of the fans’ behavior after the match.

    “These whistles damage the image of our country,” he said via L’Equipe and translated by Deadspin. “There were two matches on Tuesday canceled because of this terror. This is not child’s play. Terrorist threats are very serious. We must think. We cannot remain passive in our country facing what is happening. It’s not us. You realize there is not even a minute’s silence. My God. I cannot justify what happened. But if we act together, we can prevent the sport from being sacrificed to terrorism.”

    Turkish fans may have a unique reason for making noise during what are meant to be silent memorials, but they are not alone in their refusal to observe them.

    For unknown reasons, a small but vocal minority of fans reported to be Bosnian also disrupted a moment of silence for the victims on Monday when the team lost, 2-0, to Ireland in a Euro 2016 qualifier. Irish fans, who made up the majority of the audience in Dublin, then responded with their own jeers directed at the shouting fans.

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  55. DG,

    While I appreciate (and largely agree with) your general point about Islamophobia in the US, I don’t think Indonesia is a great example of a majority-Muslim, pluralistic state. Reports from missionaries on the front lines indicate increasing levels of local persecution from extremist Muslims.

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  56. Robert: BTW, there’s also plenty in Islamic sources to justify living fine under non-Islamic governance until you can get enough Muslims to petition for sharia governance. Is there anything parallel to this in Christian sources?

    Me: Theonomic Post-Mil.

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  57. Sean,

    But where is the evidence for theonomic post-millennialism in Scripture or early church history? Further, theonomist post-millennials are a minority within a minority of Christians. That’s not true of Islamic history wherein from the first day the Muslim faith is spread by any means necessary.

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  58. Robert, you asked for anything in Xian sources that was parallel. I don’t know about the minority within a minority part, every time I turn around I hear this in both it’s hard and soft forms. And if we’re gonna go the history route, then there is the whole history of christendom to consider.

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  59. DGH — religious laws and church courts are nothing new. The government stays out of church business unless and until there is a conflict between church laws and state/federal laws. Because of the FE clause, reviews of these conflicts get strict scrutiny — and the government can prevail depending upon the nature of the issue.

    For example, the Amish were allowed an exemption from compulsory high school education.

    On the other hand, Mormons were not allowed to practice bigamy / polygamy — the government has a prevailing interest in establishing / enforcing laws regulating marriage.

    In the context of the current discussion — Sharia law courts would function like church courts or rabbinic courts, religiously significant, but not legally binding.

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  60. Mad H., right. So if churches can have their courts — I be an elder after all — why can’t Muslims have theirs? Or, why are Christians so upset with Muslims trying to practice their religion? I understand the point about “extremist” Muslims. As if Christians don’t produce extremists? Theonomy anyone? Every square inch and its implications for blasphemers and idolaters?

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  61. Darryl –

    Publius, Christendom also has bloody borders. If Rome can give up its temporal power, why not Islam?

    1. What “Christendom?”
    2. Rome hasn’t given up it’s temporal power – it has less than it used to, but it wants more.
    3.In theory, Islam can give up temporal power. Call me when it does. Until then I’m content to live in the world as it actually is and not play the “what if” game.

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  62. Darryl – Turkey and Indonesia? Seriously? If those are your best examples, count me out. The secular peace established by Ataturk is being undone by Erdogan and his Islamist party. Christians in particular but also secular Turks are constantly harassed by the government and are subject to fines and property loss.

    Indonesia? Well…

    Although Indonesia, “the world’s largest Muslim country” with an 87% Muslim population, was once considered a moderate Muslim country, day by day it has been leaning more and more towards conservative Islam and Sharia laws. Initiated in 2009, bylaws in the light of Sharia rulings were implemented that conflict with the values of human rights, and are creating a difficult land for minorities to live in. more here: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3579/indonesia-sharia

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  63. I’m not sure about Kim Davis- I’m not equivocating, that’s an honest response.

    If you’re getting hung up on my “extremist Muslims” label, then I’ll happily rephrase to “Muslims who are using both physical force and voting power to prevent non-Muslim worship from occurring”.

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  64. Honor the emperor. Read honor constitutional federal republic.

    Why is that so hard?

    It’s not hard for people who believe Mark12/Matt 22 but what about people who reject it? What about people whose religion rejects the church/state distinction. Politics is downstream from culture and culture is downstream from religion.

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  65. sean – Who was the last Theonomic post-mil guy you heard of machine gunning people in a theatre?

    Worst Case Scenario with Bahnsen – Blue Laws

    Worst Case Scenario with ISIS – Crucifixion, rape, beheading.

    You don’t have to agree with Bahnsen but you should be able to see the difference. This isn’t a theoretical discussion – you can look around and see American theonomists and Islamists in action. Who would you rather live with?

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  66. DGH — yeah, we are in agreement. My point before was that we already tolerate American extremists (KKK, neo-Nazis, etc) so long as they obey the law — so why are we so afraid of Muslims?

    I get that terrorism is a very real threat — but the KKK has also been a very real threat since the Civil War.

    America has had a long history of dealing with extremists and I think we strike a pretty good balance: we allow them to talk; we don’t allow them to break the law.

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  67. Publius, Gatestone Institute?

    You know, not everyone in the world, Westerners included, thinks the U.S. is a barrel of laughs. Heck, some Christians wail and gnash teeth about the U.S.

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  68. Publius, so how is “politics is downstream” from religion avoid theonomy? I’m not baiting. I just want to hear if you defend the U.S. political order. Presbyterians needed to revise their views of the magistrate to be at home with the U.S. Chapter 23 of the confession.

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  69. I’m guilty as charged of being anti-2K if wanting a government that functions well enough that my family is not routinely accosted by criminals or an invading force mixes the two.

    Is there a pietism in the opposite? How much more are we justified by not caring if we live in North Korea or Denmark? “My kids were waterboarded again today, but praise the Lord I didn’t mix the two kingdoms by asking for the blessings of the world to come! If you pray not to be tortured the next thing you know you are joining TGC. Heaven forbid!”

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  70. DGH –

    Yes, Gatestone. Run by former UN Ambassador John Bolton and with Governors & Advisors running the ideological gamut from Alan Dershowtiz to former US AG Michael Mukasey to Elie Weisel and Jim Woolsey (Democrat, former DCI). In other words, it’s not one of the “right wing, xenophobic” bogemen of zrim’s nightmares.

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  71. Again, I’d be happy if not one more Muslim came to the USA and if all the ones here became really bad or really good Muslims — whichever type is least likely to blow up stuff or kill people. And I don’t think I need a Xian worldview to justify that. Or that Zrim has theological problems because he doesn’t agree with me about that.

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  72. cwl you obviously don’t understand the power of our magical dirt. Whenever someone steps on it they gradually change over time into law abiding citizens who love this country and notions of religious freedom, equality before the law, republicanism, constitutionalism, federalism.

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  73. DGH –

    “politics is downstream” from religion avoid theonomy? I’m not baiting. I just want to hear if you defend the U.S. political order. Presbyterians needed to revise their views of the magistrate to be at home with the U.S. Chapter 23 of the confession.

    I’d start by defining theonomy. Let’s keep it short because I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole on this: Blue laws aren’t, a religious test for office and a state religion is. There’s plenty of grey, but let’s leave it at that.

    I will defend the US political order, by which I mean constitutional order established by the Founders and informed by the Declaration of Independence based on their consistency with the “self-evident truths” Jefferson appeals to – what we might call natural law or reason or general revelation. I would add that the constitutional order established by the founders is generally consistent with significant Christian ideals – freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, the idea that all image-bearers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect qua image-bearers, i.e, the things that are revealed in the second table of the law. And this consistency has made the United States a very friendly place to Christians of all persuasions and to people of other religions as well. George Washington’s letter to the Jews in Newport (1790) is an early and admirable demonstration of this.

    That politics is downstream from religion ought to be self-evident. This is not to say that politics are or ought to be captive to religion. It is to say that religious people are formed by their religion and those habits and beliefs inform their political actions. This is not stealth theonomy, it is just a recognition of the obvious.

    This is all consistent with WCF 23. Are you going to suggest an edit to 23.2 because it calls on the magistrate to maintain piety according to wholesome laws? I hope not.

    It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth;

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  74. Publius,

    I will defend the US political order, by which I mean constitutional order established by the Founders and informed by the Declaration of Independence based on their consistency with the “self-evident truths” Jefferson appeals to – what we might call natural law or reason or general revelation. I would add that the constitutional order established by the founders is generally consistent with significant Christian ideals – freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, the idea that all image-bearers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect qua image-bearers, i.e, the things that are revealed in the second table of the law.

    Thanks.

    As long as you acknowledge that the political order against with the founders rebelled was also compatible with Christian ideals — at least as understood since the fourth century. Hence my question. Which version of the civil magistrate? The Divines of 1645 or the presbyters of 1789?

    Either way, a lot of politics are downstream from Christianity and maybe what makes America different is trying to think about government apart from revealed religion.

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  75. Darryl – Consider it acknowledged. And yes, the American experiment is unique for trying to think about government apart from revealed religion. But it is important to bear in mind that the experiment has taken place against the backdrop of a largely Christian culture – call it nominal if you like – and the people and the culture have historically shared some basic assumptions.

    My question and, frankly, my concern is how a tolerant, natural law based (or reason or general revelation) regime deals with citizens and resident aliens who reject the principles on which the regime is based. It only takes 1 party to break the peace. But, this is a practical, political question not a theological one.

    The other question is, are a free people not at liberty to choose who becomes a citizen and who does not? Are they not free to defend and nurture their own historic culture? The mainline and some noisy parts of the eeeevangelical world would bind our consciences through a misapplication of Leviticus 19 and other passages. A more appropriate approach would be to let the people of the country sort this out in the political realm.

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  76. what has been done to the eschaton here?

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/05/we-are-not-polishing-brass-on-a-sinking-ship-3/

    Scott Clark—We are called to speak to cultural developments as God’s people are called to live out their faith in their daily lives. Faithful living will bring ENGAGEMENT WITH the broader, unbelieving culture. That intersection should raise questions. “The prevailing non-Christian culture says x, but the Scriptures and the faith say y. How should we respond? ” The application of God’s Word requires wisdom, patience, and care but we cannot shrink back from OUR VOCATION.

    Clark—This is not a call for a Jihad (nor to turn the pulpit into a partisan political organ) against unbelievers or for an undue focus on their behavior—that’s like shooting ducks on the water—but where a passage speaks or necessarily implies (by good and necessary inference) a contrast between the biblical view and a pagan view of a matter, we shouldn’t hesitate to follow God’s Word where ever it leads. …

    Clark: There is a Christian view of humanity and there are pagan views of humanity. Those different views lead to different ethical systems and thence to different practices. When we come to a biblical text that speaks to the Christian view of humanity or to the inherent value of human life, we should speak to this issue. Now, we should do so carefully, recognizing that there may be those in the congregation who may have made serious mistakes (even sins) in their past….

    Clark– “Christ HAS established his kingdom. He sustains everything by his providence and has established a mission representing his kingdom in the world. As kingdom citizens we are his emissaries to the world. As king he has spoken and interpreted ALL things. Christ is returning and he will bring his reign to consummation in glory. Until that moment, however, we are left to die to sin, live to Christ, and by his Spirit, read the Word with the church and to acknowledge his Lordship by serving him in every aspect of our lives, in each sphere, to his glory. We are not polishing brass on a sinking ship because the world is not a sinking ship. It is the theatre of his glory.”

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  77. Scott Clark—It’s possible for ex-evangelicals fleeing the Christian triumphalism of post-1976 evangelicalism to flee to world-flight.

    Is Turkey far away or closer?

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  78. Pub, blue laws? If only, try Tyler, Texas. The original wacko, James Jordan. Then there’s that ‘we really mean it’ group, bible thumping an entire town into submission in Wells, Texas. And That’s all before we go off into the messianic complex group in Waco. Then there’s Michigan, and Moscow, Idaho. We’ve got lots of people already going beyond ‘blue laws’.

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  79. Though I really like the idea of separating the Christian identity from the American identity, there is still a missing component here. After all, Muslims are not the only ones who have been seen as being a threat to society. For many years, Blacks were seen that way too. And despite the progress that has been made, racism is making a bit of a comeback lately.

    The real obstacle to eliminating Islamaaphobia can be found in our attachment to things. For we value things over people and thus when we attempt to shut out a group from society, what we are saying is that we don’t want to share out things with others. At least, this is part of what Martin Luther King seems to be saying when he said:


    I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

    For what is the real difference between racism and Islmaphobia?

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  80. From a moderate Muslim http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-problem-with-moderate-muslims/

    The bottom line is; it is quite possible, at one point of history, to have an entire nation dominated by some very bad ideas. We have seen it before and we are seeing it today. For the west now to deny this historical fact and pretend that the majority of people are always naturally sane, rational, peace loving hippies is hypocritical, misleading and dishonest. It is an ugly lie that offends our intelligence. We have a long history of the major human consensus to persecute women, Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals. Thus, it is quite possible — at least theoretically — for a significant portion or even the majority of the world’s Muslim population (estimated to be over 1.5 billion) to be anti-Semitic, homophobic and in sympathy with violence and even Islamic totalitarianism.

    While the vast majority of Muslims may frown upon ISIS and Al Qaeda and may be horrified by their acts, they will still approve of many human rights abuses. The majority of the world Muslim population believe that the cartoonists who ridicule Muhammad should be prosecuted. Many Muslim countries carry death penalties for any similar heresy action because they simply do not believe in freedom of speech. There is a Muslim consensus that any acts of violence against Israel, including suicide bombers in buses, are justified if not encouraged. Our acceptance or denial of those facts does not affect the reality we are all living; the Muslim world is dominated by bad ideas and bad beliefs. The majority of Muslims have no principle objections to application of extreme violence, subjection of women and minorities, prosecuting if not killing homosexuals and confiscating personal freedoms.

    Of course not all Muslims are terrorists. But let’s not be naive about the prospects of assimilation, particularly when immigrants tend to cluster in groups. The Irish and many other ethnic groups had a hard enough time assimilating to American society, and they were from the West.

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  81. Curt, well, the Nation of Islam is black.

    No offense, but I wouldn’t give more than a C- to that kind of analysis from a freshman. It has sentimentality written all over it. “Yeah, I really like my car. Boy, I don’t like vd, t. If only I walked to school more I might like vd, t more.”

    Smarten up!

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  82. Pub, how does excommunication, harrasment, shunning from the entire community, and wholesale fleecing the flock fit into the right of blue laws and left of crucifixion? That’s before we get into the gunplay and stockpiling of arms and killing from the messianic complex types. Christianity, even reformed, produce their own abberance that go way beyond prohibition of liquor sales on sunday. Maybe it’s just a Texas thing but then I recall the cult like domination going on in Moscow and the different christian identity movements and their synchretism. We got some folks who like to live in the margins.

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  83. If a Muslim wants to discuss this, he’s welcome to. I could be wrong. But given that even secular scholars of religion will admit that there is no separation of church and state in Islam, I don’t see how you get a 2K Muslim who is being consistent with Islam. The very nature of the religion has to change and its earliest history has to be denied, as well as much of its tradition. You simply don’t have to do that with Christianity. Between the Bible’s extensive teaching on living in exile and as pilgrims, the entire NT, and the earliest Christian history, some version of 2K is entirely consonant with Christian beliefs.

    Robert, you may not see how you draw a straight line from YOUR understanding of Islam to YOUR understanding of the Bible (2k), but the reality is that plenty of Muslims live like 2kers whatever the theory you or they have. You also have plenty of Christian history that is decidedly not 2k (Christendom, hello?), but you speak as if 2k is the obvious conclusion anyone with Christian beliefs can come to, which is the flipside of your saying anyone with Muslim beliefs must conclude jihadist, all of which reveals a pretty slavish notion about the one to one correspondence between theory and practice. But on your way of reasoning on Islam, Muslims have plenty of reason to fear Christians in power because of Christendom’s theocratic history. But you say, Don’t worry, 2k is the way anyone with Christian beliefs can conclude. But your reassurance to Muslims rings as off key as your caution about Islam leading to jihad because it’s all based on a theory that’s obvious to YOU but not the rest of us who take actual practice into consideration in BOTH directions.

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  84. I would add that the constitutional order established by the founders is generally consistent with significant Christian ideals – freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, the idea that all image-bearers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect qua image-bearers, i.e., the things that are revealed in the second table of the law.

    Pubs, freedom of worship is not a Christian ideal. The members of my church are not free to commit idolatry. Not enforcing true religion by the sword (but by the Spirit) is the Christian ideal. When you say freedom of religion is a Christian ideal you sound more American than Christian, which isn’t a bad thing but it needs to be clarified that it’s an American ideal, not Christian. If you want to tie Christian ideals to political order, then say hello to theocracy where it’s against the law to practice the Mass or worship Allah.

    My question and, frankly, my concern is how a tolerant, natural law based (or reason or general revelation) regime deals with citizens and resident aliens who reject the principles on which the regime is based. It only takes 1 party to break the peace. But, this is a practical, political question not a theological one.

    Law breakers are to be punished in whatever regime. Why is that so hard? Bam.

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  85. Zrim,

    Robert, you may not see how you draw a straight line from YOUR understanding of Islam to YOUR understanding of the Bible (2k), but the reality is that plenty of Muslims live like 2kers whatever the theory you or they have.

    Sure they do. In this country. And in some other Westernized countries as well. But is it consistent with the Qur’an and the reality of Muhammad and the earliest caliphs? I don’t think it’s stretching to say that the idea that one can impose sharia by the sword is what the earliest Muslims did and believed.

    It’s not what the NT teaches, and it’s not what the earliest Christians did. That’s a fact. Our leader was killed, most of the apostles were killed, and until Constantine, the experience was living as a minority in an often hostile culture. There really isn’t anything parallel to that in Islam. Muhammad had some trouble in Mecca initially, and incidentally, that’s where all the Qur’anic passages that can be read as more peaceful and accommodating come from. But that’s a short period. Soon he’s in charge of Medina, betraying agreements made with Jews, and calling for the destruction of idolaters.

    Stop pretending that said difference is not significant.

    You also have plenty of Christian history that is decidedly not 2k (Christendom, hello?), but you speak as if 2k is the obvious conclusion anyone with Christian beliefs can come to, which is the flipside of your saying anyone with Muslim beliefs must conclude jihadist, all of which reveals a pretty slavish notion about the one to one correspondence between theory and practice.

    I didn’t say it was “obvious.” I said that I can make a pretty airtight case based on the NT and the experience of the earliest Christians that such is not consonant with Christian teaching. That’s the same criteria I’m applying to Muslims. One can make a pretty airtight case based on the Qur’an, the hadith, and the example of the rightly guided caliphs that you spread Islam with the sword if necessary. Muhammad was a freaking caravan looter for crying out loud.

    But for some reason you don’t want to take those historical realities into account. So, make the argument to me based on Islamic sources and the caliphs that it is wrong to spread Islam with the sword and that one should not seek to make religious law the secular law as well.

    But on your way of reasoning on Islam, Muslims have plenty of reason to fear Christians in power because of Christendom’s theocratic history.

    Sure they might. Now make the argument that the NT and the first few centuries of Christian history justify using the sword to implement Christian religious law as the law of the land. Is it in that missing verse after “turn the other cheek” or “love your enemies”?

    But you say, Don’t worry, 2k is the way anyone with Christian beliefs can conclude.

    What I’m saying is that some version of 2K is entirely consonant with Christian Scriptures and the earliest beliefs and actions of Christians. Things changed when the emperor converted. In Islam, from the get go the “emperor” was a convert.

    But your reassurance to Muslims rings as off key ass your caution about Islam leading to jihad because it’s all based on a theory that’s obvious to YOU but not the rest of us who take actual practice into consideration in BOTH directions.

    What am I reassuring Muslims of? I’d tell them to fear the merger of the Christian church and state.

    But what I am ultimately saying is that according to Muhammad’s example and the earliest Islamic history, it is simple to justify violence. It’s not so simple if you apply the same standard to early Christian sources.

    So go ahead, argue from early Islamic sources, including the Qur’an and Islamic example, that it is a sin to spread sharia with the sword.

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  86. zrim –

    Law breakers are to be punished in whatever regime. Why is that so hard? Bam.

    I don’t know if you’re avoiding the question on purpose or just don’t see it: What are the laws? Who makes them and on what basis? What is a legitimate foundation for law? Are there limits to what may be deemed lawful and which may bind Christians? If so, what are they?

    Not enforcing true religion by the sword (but by the Spirit) is the Christian ideal.

    Which is different from freedom of worship how?

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  87. But what I am ultimately saying is that according to Muhammad’s example and the earliest Islamic history, it is simple to justify violence. It’s not so simple if you apply the same standard to early Christian sources.

    Robert, early isn’t everything. All appealing to it really does is make your case for Islam bad (which is different from false), Christianity good (which is different from true). But later Islam has good phenomenon and later Christianity has bad. It’s easy to justify violence when one reaches back to the crusades.

    And how it all stacks up against its respective books is only one piece of the larger point, which is that secularity is the great leveler (not the Bible or the Koran). A truly secular society doesn’t care how consistent any religious adherent is with his book. Some religious citizens within that secular society may want to consume themselves with calling another adherent a bad religionist for being a good citizen, but I’m still not clear on what the point is in that, other than to impugn what is false. But plenty of false religionists make good citizens and plenty of true religionists make bad citizens. The one-to-one correspondence between false and bad and good true and good you seem to want to make is, as you say, simple. But is it very smart?

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  88. Pubs, those are different questions. What you wondered was “how a tolerant, natural law based (or reason or general revelation) regime deals with citizens and resident aliens who reject the principles on which the regime is based.” How is my answer avoiding that question? Now you’re asking how we got those laws. Sorry, I can’t tell where you’re going.

    Freedom of worship as a civil concept involves the freedom of the conscience which Christianity doesn’t allow. It’s a western concept, not a biblical one. To say it’s a Christian ideal is to confuse Christianity and America. The founders weren’t trying to ensure that faith came by the Spirit instead of the sword.

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  89. Zrim
    Posted November 20, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Freedom of worship as a civil concept involves the freedom of the conscience which Christianity doesn’t allow. It’s a western concept, not a biblical one.

    So much for 2k.

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  90. zrim – Let me try again. Citizens and resident aliens that reject the presuppositions upon which the regime is based will seek to nullify its laws and ultimately overturn the compact upon which the regime is based. How does a liberal society with a republican form of government handle this challenge?

    The Islamist challenge to republican government is not new – the Roman Republic yielded to Caesarism, Weimar to the Nazis, and no one thought that Lenin wanted to have more than 1 election. So the question I asked is how does a republic face that threat? The questions I posed in the last post just flesh that out.

    With regards to this:

    Freedom of worship as a civil concept involves the freedom of the conscience which Christianity doesn’t allow. It’s a western concept, not a biblical one. To say it’s a Christian ideal is to confuse Christianity and America.

    All I can say is:

    Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger.

    WCF 23.3

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  91. Publius said, “Citizens and resident aliens that reject the presuppositions upon which the regime is based will seek to nullify its laws and ultimately overturn the compact upon which the regime is based.”

    Didn’t people say the same thing about Catholic immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and Ireland? And what about evangelicals? Much of what one hears these days from the evangelical world isn’t exactly respectful of republican forms of government. In fact, what one hears from OPC luminary Kevin Swanson isn’t all that respectful of republican forms of government.

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  92. For anyone tending toward Trump’s idea that Muslims must be registered, spend ten seconds looking at a picture of Japanese Americans in American prison camps. If all Muslims wish to impose sharia law then all Christians are theocrats. Things aren’t as simple as the Trumpkins believe. Don’t be a Trumpkin.

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  93. Bobby – Trying to wave away the challenge Islamists pose to liberal societies by referring to the skepticism of Romanists that existed suggests an ignorance of the actual history of this country and the real struggle between Islam and the West.

    Muddy – First, Trump didn’t propose what you attribute to him. That meme has already been debunked. But thanks for rushing to play the Japanese internment camps card. Second, no one has suggested that “…all Muslims wish to impose sharia law.” Saying that is a debating tactic to try and avoid the question.

    What we do know is that a significant percentage of muslims do want to live under sharia law and that a subset of those are willing to use violence to impose it. We also know that the majority of muslims hold views that are at odds with the basic principles that undergird free government. (The Pew Study has been cited earlier in this thread but a cursory look at the news will tell you as much.)

    People who wish to maintain free government would be wise to at least recognize the existence of the challenge and consider how to meet it. You will notice that no one ever has this debate with regards to Buddhists from China or Baha’i from Iran or Wiccans from England.

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  94. Also taking notes on Ali’s behavior. That’s the 9th time she’s chastised me. Given more data I should be able to break it down into categories of chastisements.
    __________________

    Pub, some Muslims are violent. If most were violent or even a substantial minority was violent we’d be having those Paris attacks every day. Do you know what Iran was like in the 70’s? http://www.pagef30.com/2009/04/iran-in-1970s-before-islamic-revolution.html The connection between Islam and intolerance isn’t inevitable. Yes, there is a connection between Islam and jihadists just as there is a connection between the Bible and a plethora of evils that blot history. Of course, you can argue that those evils did not proceed from the Bible and make various distinctions but so can Muslims.

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  95. Muddy – Yes, I know what Iran was like. I have a number of friends who fled with their families in ’79 and ’80. Some are Baha’i some are nominally muslim. I also know what Lebanon was like. And Turkey. And what is the common thread? Why do we speak of their halcyon days in the past tense? Because the Islamists came and destroyed their societies – the minority of violent Islamists. It doesn’t take a majority willing to use violence. It takes a determined minority, especially when a much larger group of their people agree with their goals if not their means.

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  96. I know someone who has worked with a moderate “normal” Muslim for years. Apparently he takes seriously something he finds in the Koran that strongly condemns making the judgment that someone else is not a Muslim or not a good one. Though he disagrees with the radicals he is loath to condemn them. This, I believe, explains some of the tension between us and the Muslims. We would not hesitate condemn/judge/evaluate another Xian (HELLO ALI) but they apparently have a hard time doing that. They should work on that. Maybe it’s one of the implications of fatalism where they really can’t know if they’re doing right or not, or whether it ultimately matters.

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  97. cw l’unificateur:I know someone who has worked with a moderate “normal” Muslim for years. Apparently he takes seriously something he finds in the Koran that strongly condemns making the judgment that someone else is not a Muslim or not a good one. Though he disagrees with the radicals he is loath to condemn them. This, I believe, explains some of the tension between us and the Muslims. We would not hesitate condemn/judge/evaluate another Xian (HELLO ALI) but they apparently have a hard time doing that. They should work on that. Maybe it’s one of the implications of fatalism where they really can’t know if they’re doing right or not, or whether it ultimately matters.

    aw cw. anyway….

    -The tension between us and Muslims is explained above; you’re kidding right cw
    -Muslims need Jesus, though you can commend away on their particular ‘morality’ if you want
    -Everyone needs Jesus.
    -Those who have Jesus, believe Jesus
    -Only God condemns people
    -God’s people learn to believe, acknowledge, agree, embrace all God says eg ‘do not judge’ + ‘just rightly’
    -God cannot lie.

    Have a good day (anyway, after having to ‘talk to me’ 🙂

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  98. Let me try again. Citizens and resident aliens that reject the presuppositions upon which the regime is based will seek to nullify its laws and ultimately overturn the compact upon which the regime is based. How does a liberal society with a republican form of government handle this challenge?

    Pubs, said society gives them a microphone to make their case and lets the rest of society duke it out. IOW, in a free society those who oppose it have a piece of the franchise and ample opportunity to dismantle it and the larger system sorts out what’s going to happen. Maybe your question is more this: How do we preemptively disenfranchise and keep from real power theocrats without sounding like we want to do that? But if you’re so damn worried about takeover, remember that America has a pretty good way to keep these things at bay. Maybe you think that’s not sufficiently fearful, but if it’s a contest about who has more faith in America maybe the guys who trust the system to keep the fringe where they’re at have it over the guys who keep trying to tell us about the inherent violence of Islam, poo-pooing Trump’s xenophobia (BTW, you do realize Trump’s rhetoric is what the jihadists want because the more he talks and fuels Islamophobia, the more chance the moderates might come to believe that America really does hate them and move far right?), blahblahblah.

    Re WCF 23, the divines were writing church polity, not political polity. Their point wasn’t to make sure consciences were spiritually free to transgress God’s law. The point was to not to politically treat what is spiritual in nature. The two should be vigorously distinguished and separated. This is what puts the “R” in rrrrrrrrrrrr2k.

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  99. cw l’unificateur
    Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink
    I know someone who has worked with a moderate “normal” Muslim for years. Apparently he takes seriously something he finds in the Koran that strongly condemns making the judgment that someone else is not a Muslim or not a good one. Though he disagrees with the radicals he is loath to condemn them. This, I believe, explains some of the tension between us and the Muslims.

    Nailed it. Muslims rolled out en masse to protest the killings in Paris. All 200 of them.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/protests-break-out-around-the-world-against-charlie-hebdo/

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  100. TVD and C-dubs, but leave it to a (Muslim) woman to nail it:

    “But I think we should take a step back and ask a different question,” Mogahed said. “Is it justified to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism. That might sound a little radical just even asking it. The reason I say that is this. Condoning the killing of civilians is to me about the most monstrous thing you can do. And to be suspected of doing something so monstrous simply because of your faith seems very unfair. Now when you look at the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States according to the FBI, the majority of domestic terrorist attacks are actually committed by white male Christians. That’s just the facts. When those things occur, we don’t suspect other people would share their faith and ethnicity of condoning. We assume that these things outrage them just as much as they do anyone else. And you have to afford that same assumption of innocence to Muslims.”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/11/21/1452712/-Muslim-woman-puts-NBC-s-Chuck-Todd-in-his-place-with-this-calm-response?detail=facebook

    So, Tom, this sounds a lot like how the BBs impugn OLers for not showing sufficient pious indignation over abortion by not joining them outside clinics. We oppose elective abortion morally and politically, but by deferring on paying the politically correct outrage toll our faith is questioned. The nice Muslim lady has a point, sir knight.

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  101. D.G.,
    Then you just gave a C- to Martin Luther King Jr. Why? Because regardless of whatever structure one employs, group ethical values are important. And what say smacks of sentimentality is really an ethic that spells the demise of any structure that is mean to be bring justice. Of course, if justice isn’t your thing, then you have simply seeking for the most effective the survival of the fittest model. That certainly lack sentimentality.

    I do find it odd that someone who should be aware of John’s warnig about loving the world (I John 2:15ff) would be so cavalier and insulting to an ethic that puts the accumulation of things ahead of the welfare of people. Perhaps there are sometimes when the foolishness of sentimentality shames the wisdom of the world.

    BTW, next time trying not insult. When Christians publicly insult each other, they bring dishonor to the gospel.

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  102. Zrim
    Posted November 21, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
    TVD and C-dubs, but leave it to a (Muslim) woman to nail it:

    “But I think we should take a step back and ask a different question,” Mogahed said. “Is it justified to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism. That might sound a little radical just even asking it. The reason I say that is this. Condoning the killing of civilians is to me about the most monstrous thing you can do. And to be suspected of doing something so monstrous simply because of your faith seems very unfair. Now when you look at the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States according to the FBI, the majority of domestic terrorist attacks are actually committed by white male Christians. That’s just the facts. When those things occur, we don’t suspect other people would share their faith and ethnicity of condoning. We assume that these things outrage them just as much as they do anyone else. And you have to afford that same assumption of innocence to Muslims.”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/11/21/1452712/-Muslim-woman-puts-NBC-s-Chuck-Todd-in-his-place-with-this-calm-response?detail=facebook

    So, Tom, this sounds a lot like how the BBs impugn OLers for not showing sufficient pious indignation over abortion by not joining them outside clinics. We oppose elective abortion morally and politically, but by deferring on paying the politically correct outrage toll our faith is questioned. The nice Muslim lady has a point, sir knight.

    I don’t question your faith, I question your theology. And guts, in some cases.

    Now, if the below becomes the reality, great. But that fact he even has to say it means it’s not the reality at the moment. That’s the point here.

    In a video that has gone viral throughout his country, Bassem Braiki, who is from the city of Vénissieux in eastern France, strongly condemned the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 and wounded hundreds.

    “I am addressing all the French Muslims: Let’s protect our beautiful religion. Let’s go and track these impostors who pretend to be Muslims and kill people. It’s not the authorities who are going to get rid of them. … It’s us,” Braiki said, as translated by the Independent.

    Braiki entreated his fellow Muslims to report any suspicious activity to the authorities without worrying about being seen as a “turncoat.” He also lamented that plenty of people will inevitably confuse peaceful Muslims for terrorists but said intelligent people will know that these attacks were “not about Islam.”

    “It’s us Muslims who are vindicating the values of the Republic. It is for us to refer anything suspicious to the authorities,” he said. “It is for us, Muslims of France, who have religion in our hearts and obey Islam’s principles — a religion of peace and sharing.”

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  103. Curt, I give King an A- minus on politics. D on theology.

    If you had a 2k grade book, you’d understand. As it is, you just want justice to roll down. But I wonder, “who can stand in that great day?” The Civil Rights advocates won’t.

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  104. D.G.,
    Depends on which field of theology. IN terms of practical theology, I’d give him an A. In other fields of theology, not an A

    BTW, I have a 2K book. And people who emphasize social justice do so from different persepctives. King, he dealt with it in a more ideal sense and eschatologically. The same goes for early Marxiists who were utopian. But they utopian because they felt that the only obstacle that stood in the way of an ideal distribution of goods were the Bourgeoisie who currently distributed the goods. Some newer marxists aren’t materialistically oriented and thus are not utopian. They are simply looking for how we can improve things now knowing that there is no utopia

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  105. Zrim – You think that WCF 23.3 is talking about church polity when it prescribes the duties of civil magistrates?

    I guess that’s one way to read it. So when I tell my son to feed the dog, I’m really commanding my dog to get fed.

    And secondly, you’re really going to quote Daily Kos and Dahlia Mogahed? The same Dahlia Mogahed who is an apologist for Muslim Brotherhood fronts CAIR and ISNA? The same Dahlia Mogahed who has said, “”there is just no correlation between (muslim) religiosity and violent extremism,” and that “the majority of people in the Middle East believe in principles of free speech, free press and a representative government.”

    In another era you would have been quoting Walter Duranty and telling us how great things are under Stalin and how the grain harvest in the Ukraine set a new record.

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  106. Pubs, so in the revision they were prescribing the duties of the magistrate as if he’d listen or care? Or do you imagine that the architects of civil polity were waiting with baited breathe to hear what Presbyterians thought so they they could politically embody biblical teaching? Not bloody likely.

    But what do you think a confessional revision is for? It’s to correct the faithful’s spiritual understanding, not prescribe the powers that be their duties. It may look that way to you, but then you’d have to concede what isn’t bloody likely (and sound like one of Christian America Barton’s disciples). And that correction, btw, is pretty remarkable.

    https://oldlife.org/2010/09/point-of-order-even-for-covenanters-2k-is-confessional/

    Re, Dahlia Mogahed, sure, if she has a point. There’s that PC streak of yours again. Try a thought experiment. How vigorously have you publicly condemned Westboro Baptist Church? Like me, not much? Oh, you must be a closet homophobe then, right, secretly sympathetic to Phelps’ vision for violence? Like me, you don’t think so. Why is it incumbent upon the sane sectors of a religion to condemn the insane sectors? After all, the OT calls for the death of homosexuals and you esteem the Bible. Oh, you want a chance to explain yourself? Careful, that boomerang you want to throw just might end up smacking you in the arse.

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  107. Zrim,

    The Pew research poll asked Muslim populations and majority countries if they condemned violence:

    “In most countries where the question was asked, roughly three-quarters or more Muslims reject suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians. And in most countries, the prevailing view is that such acts are never justified as a means of defending Islam from its enemies. Yet there are some countries in which substantial minorities think violence against civilians is at least sometimes justified. This view is particularly widespread among Muslims in the Palestinian territories (40%), Afghanistan (39%), Egypt (29%) and Bangladesh (26%).

    The survey finds little evidence that attitudes toward violence in the name of Islam are linked to factors such as age, gender or education.”

    “In a majority of countries surveyed, at least half of Muslims say they are somewhat or very concerned about religious extremism. And on balance, more Muslims are concerned about Islamic than Christian extremist groups. In all but one of the 36 countries where the question was asked, no more than one-in-five Muslims express worries about Christian extremism, compared with 28 countries where at least that many say they are concerned about Islamic extremist groups.”

    “The survey asked in particular about relations between Muslims and Christians. In nearly all countries, fewer than half of Muslims say that many or most members of either religious group are hostile toward the other group. In five countries, however, more than three-in-ten Muslims describe many or most Christians as antagonistic toward Muslims: Egypt (50%), Guinea Bissau (41%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (37%), Chad (34%) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (31%). And in three countries similar percentages say many or most Muslims are hostile toward Christians: Guinea Bissau (49%), Chad (38%) and Egypt (35%).”

    “American Muslims are even more likely than Muslims in other countries to firmly reject violence in the name of Islam. In the U.S., about eight-in-ten Muslims (81%) say that suicide bombing and similar acts targeting civilians are never justified. Across the globe, a median of roughly seven-in-ten Muslims (72%) agrees.”

    Do you think comparable figures would emerge if Christian populations and majority countries were polled?

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  108. CvD, that Christians would mainly condemn the worst sectors of Christianity? It’d be mostly speculation, of course, but from what I’ve ever seen there are plenty of forked tongues when it comes to something like abortion clinic violence–lots of condemning coupled with lots of qualifications. Where are the calls to tamp down all the incendiary rhetoric that only seems to fuel the violence? Hard to locate. But that’s ok, it’s our heartfelt cause because, you know, “holocaust.” Now, you moderate Muslims, either get up there and condemn your worst sectors with vigor or we’ll just have to get behind calls to have your mosque registered.

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  109. Zrim
    Posted November 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
    Try a thought experiment. How vigorously have you publicly condemned Westboro Baptist Church? Like me, not much? Oh, you must be a closet homophobe then, right, secretly sympathetic to Phelps’ vision for violence? Like me, you don’t think so. Why is it incumbent upon the sane sectors of a religion to condemn the insane sectors?

    As a point of order

    http://myfox8.com/2015/06/01/counter-protesters-come-out-in-full-force-against-westboro-baptist-church-in-north-carolina/

    there are often more Christians protesting the protesters; same is true of whites at a KKK march.

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  110. Zrim,

    I just dont think theres evidence if you poll Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, or seculars in America or countries where they dominate youre going to get 20-30% of them approving of suicide bombing civilians or other forms of violence. Eric Rudolph wasnt given sympathy or hemming and hawing about how we can see how he could justify his actions. The point is not asking every Muslim to come out and condemn and youre guilty until proven innocent. The point is the troubling numbers we are seeing when Muslims around the world of various backgrounds are explicitly asked their view on violence. And moderates recognize this, as shown in the poll where they are far more concerned with Muslim extremism than Christian extremism.

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  111. CvD, and what’s troubling about those polls? That they’re getting less critical on the violence? And isn’t that what leads some to conclude that adherents need to come out and condemn or suffer the guilt by association consequences? Trump says so and he’s the Republican hero, speaking of polls.

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  112. Hi Zrim –

    I want to respond to your post of the 23rd. Sorry for the delay – Thanksgiving, work, etc.

    so in the revision they were prescribing the duties of the magistrate as if he’d listen or care? Or do you imagine that the architects of civil polity were waiting with baited breathe to hear what Presbyterians thought so they they could politically embody biblical teaching? Not bloody likely.

    But what do you think a confessional revision is for? It’s to correct the faithful’s spiritual understanding, not prescribe the powers that be their duties.

    WCF 23.3 is definitely prescribing the Christian understanding of the rightful duties of and limits on the power of the magistrate. Whether or not the magistrate listens or cares is another matter entirely. (For more on this See Chad Van Dixhorn’s book on the Confession or better yet Fesko’s book on the Westinster Standards.) The same is true of the moral law viz the reprobate but that doesn’t make it any less binding. The Confession after all is just an expression of our best understanding of Scripture. The Confession prescribes imperatives for the magistrate and this has implications for how Christians who subscribe to the Standards view, interact with, and influence government because it helps us understand the appropriate role of and limits on the magistrate. We should govern our own actions accordingly, recognizing that there is room for liberty therein.

    To go back in our discussion a little bit, the WCF gives a preference to Christ’s Church broadly defined, i.e., no preference based on Christian denomination:
    Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger.

    It goes on to affirm that magistrate owes a duty to all citizens to protect the civil peace (1 Tim 2:2) and to protect all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies – Christian or otherwise.
    It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

    So far, so good. The conflict arises when religious assemblies foment violence and/or the adherence of a given sect inflict violence upon the rest of society. The magistrate has a duty to protect its citizens from violence. If a sect is violent the magistrate has a duty to recognize that and take steps to protect its citizenry. I sense that this makes you uncomfortable. Does it?

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  113. Pubs, no, it doesn’t at all. What is discomfiting is the prospect of a magistrate targeting a whole sect based on its worst (i.e. violent) elements and a thesis behind it that any who subscribe to that particular sect’s religious teachings will inevitably turn out to be part of the worst elements. And if they don’t, well, lucky us that there are inconsistent adherents.

    IOW, I’m all for the magistrate protecting society and punishing the bad guys of whatever religious affiliation. But I’m skeptical about some of the details in sorted it out by others among us. The connection between Islam and violence seems to be as complicated as that between Japanese Americans and Kamikazes, Germans and Nazis.

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  114. Zrim,

    Robert, early isn’t everything.

    No, but for Protestants it’s a lot. Ad fontes and all that.

    All appealing to it really does is make your case for Islam bad (which is different from false), Christianity good (which is different from true).

    Yes on bad being different from false, etc. I’m not trying to make an evaluation of the truth of Islam. And it’s a bad argument to say Christianity is right because Jesus never killed anyone. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is don’t be naive about the fact that Muhammad, who is revered as Jesus is in Christianity, routinely lied, broke treaties, attacked trading caravans, killed people etc., and the effect that has on Islamic ethics and how consistent a violent Muslim is following Muhammad’s example.

    But later Islam has good phenomenon and later Christianity has bad. It’s easy to justify violence when one reaches back to the crusades.

    Sure. But again, can one make a good argument that the Crusades were in keeping with the NT? Not really. Can you make a good argument that killing infidels is in keeping with Muhammad’s example? Yes.

    And how it all stacks up against its respective books is only one piece of the larger point, which is that secularity is the great leveler (not the Bible or the Koran).

    Is it really? Why then do people raised in a secular country still commit acts of religious violence?

    A truly secular society doesn’t care how consistent any religious adherent is with his book.

    Sure.

    Some religious citizens within that secular society may want to consume themselves with calling another adherent a bad religionist for being a good citizen, but I’m still not clear on what the point is in that, other than to impugn what is false. But plenty of false religionists make good citizens and plenty of true religionists make bad citizens.

    The point is simply not to be naive and think that Islam has nothing to do with violence and that Islamic terrorism isn’t indicative of something deeper in the religion’s sources that has no analogue with Christian sources.

    The one-to-one correspondence between false and bad and good true and good you seem to want to make is, as you say, simple. But is it very smart?

    That’s not my argument. I’ve told more than one person that Islamic violence has absolutely no bearing on the truth of the religion. If Al Qaeda has the true version of the true religion, then violence is absolutely justified and is true. All I’m saying is that let’s not be naive about the fact that one can find consistency between violence and Muhammad and not between Jesus and the Crusades. And there are inevitable political consequences of that for public safety. Maybe we don’t want to be allowing the most conservative Muslims into the country if there seems to be an almost invariable link between violence and those sects of Islam that think the burkha is God’s will for man.

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  115. Ok. I’m just gonna discriminate against jihadists and dudes sporting beards and man buns(because who wants that). If you spend a lot of time being devout in Saudi Arabia, Africa, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Netherlands, France, Germany, England, Spain, Turkey, prison and/or on the internet or you go mail order bride from the middle east, I might profile you. What’s your plan? And no, I’m not interested in the church aiding the state in these decisions-issues of competence. Btw, there’s lots of liberal watch dog groups profiliing ‘Xian’ nut cases and I’m mostly good with all that. Profile all of Waco, Texas and Wells, Texas. Keep an eye on Tyler, Texas, anywhere in Louisiana or Arkansas. Tulsa, Ok. Moscow, Idaho etc. I have a list. I wouldn’t trust this guy Hagee in San Antonio either, somebody check him at the door.

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  116. This whole all religions are equal, there is no substantive difference between Christianity or Islam is the fruit of the pagan Enlightenment. Man is perfectible, if not the natural man and natural religion is the real thing.
    Meanwhile, back in the real world, it doesn’t pan out like it does in the academy.

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  117. Robert, your concern is being naïve. 1000 points. But even if Muhammad did all of that, all I care about is whether his modern disciples do. Some do, others don’t. But would not naiveté also look like trying to draw virtually perfect straight lines from Islam to its adherents to violence, especially when plenty of his disciples don’t practice it?

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  118. So what are you saying sean?
    We know what Islam, Rome and secular humanism are re. theocratic political philosophy.
    2K protestantism not so much.

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