Theology Has Consequences (Part 2)
A society’s theological base has huge implications in terms of its governmental structures. Post-Reformation Christianity has generally produced democratic republics, while Islam has repeated given birth to dictatorships. This is a result of the fact that theology has consequences.
I want to further elaborate on this theme because of the importance of this concept. Once again, I will be contrasting Islam with Christianity as we examine the cultures both theologies have produced. The Western world, in spite of its continual shift toward secular humanism, has been built upon a foundation of Christianity. Western democracies, in their ignorance of the importance of theology, seem to believe that they can export their ideals to Muslim nations and have them readily adopted.
Islam does not recognize the purpose of God in His dealings with Man to be bringing him from external obedience to internal obedience, and from “imposed” government to self-government. As has been pointed out by others, Islam in many ways trains people not to govern themselves but to be governed by dictates. Muhammad said that, “He is a Muslim who is one outwardly.” Contrast that statement to the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 2:29 where he says, “But he is a Jew [Covenant member] who is one inwardly.” The issue in Islam comes to be one of outward submission to Allah without an internal transformation. There is no true concept of the law being written on their heart (Jer. 31:33). They cannot envision a system of civil government rooted in personal responsibility and self-government, where each man holds himself accountable to the ethics of God’s government. They can only understand a civil government where religious leaders enforce the law. In such a system there is no distinction between sin and crime, contrasted to what we find in the Law handed down at Mount Sinai and within Western jurisprudence.
Some would equate Islamic law with the Mosaic Law, but to the contrary they are distinctly different at several points. One example of this contrast is in regards to dealing with the issue of theft. Under Islamic law, the right hand of a thief is cut off at the wrist. Even if the thief makes restitution and pledges never to steal again, he still loses his hand. But in the Bible a thief is required to make restitution (the amount depending on what he stole) for his crime. It would be my observation that the Qur’an is ”punitive-oriented,” while the Bible is “justice-oriented.”
It has been said, ”Christianity is the religion of the second chance.” Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, after He shamed those who were her accusers, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). One hadith (sayings of Muhammad) records the story of a woman pregnant from adultery coming to Muhammad, who saw to it that she was treated decently until she gave birth, and then he ordered her stoned. Islam states that Allah loves the righteous, whereas Christianity teaches that, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
There is not an understanding of grace within the Islamic religion. Salvation is a result of good works in submission to Allah. Islamic scholars have compiled a great list of “do’s and don’ts” for those seeking to follow the faith. An ardent follower strives to eat, sleep, drink, and dress as Muhammad did. They even try to pray the same prayers that he prayed when going to bed, or arising in the morning. There are prayers for entering and exiting the bathroom. While most Muslims do not attempt to live in this kind of strict obedience to the Qur’an and Islamic teachings, there are those who do. In their zeal for obedient submission to Allah, and no concept of forgiveness when they fail, these followers are left in a terrible dilemma. They are confronted with the question asked by Job, “How can a man be right with God?” (Job 9:2). For some the answer is found in the martyrdom of Jihad, assuring them entrance into paradise.
What we witnessed take place in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001 was the result of a theology that places its followers in the position of earning their salvation through “religious” actions. As Jesus said “They will kill you and think that they are doing God a favor” (John 16:2). Allow me to point out that Islam is not alone in having produced a theology, which has left victims in its wake. Christianity has at times in its history, through erroneous, misguided theological systems, produced its share of casualties. Christians have slaughtered Christians in the name of the Lord.
What one believes does matter. Action follows faith. If we have a distorted view of God, it will inevitably lead to actions that reflect that distortion. This is true for individuals and societies. The outworking of theology is all around us, we see it every evening on the news, and read about it every morning in the papers. It is reflected in a nation’s laws, and evidenced by its economic policy. Until we awaken to this fact, we are like men trying to find answers without first having heard the questions. The truth that modern man must face is that: theology has consequences.