Sunday, 19 July 2015

Is a Bible-based ISIS Possible?

When the savagery, the barbarity, of the practices of the so-called Islamic State became clear--decapitation, genocide, wilful destruction of ancient treasures, slavery, institutionalized rape--one group of commenters immediately opined that, really, one could expect all this to come from Islam, sooner or later. It's all there in the Koran. Those Muslims who live and let live, those who call Islam a religion of peace, those people are just not very serious about their Islam.

After all, many of the practices we decry about the Islamic State are also practiced in, say, Saudi Arabia. Mutilation and decapitation carried out by law? Yes. Death sentences for apostasy? Yes. Polygyny? Yes. Forced marriage? Yes. Subjugation of women? Yes.

It is no surprise that 15 of the 19 men who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis. Bin Laden was Saudi.

Christ's teachings seem opposite to the beliefs and practices of the Islamic State, but there is more in the Bible than Christ's teachings. A person who is consistently "Bible-believing" might well come up supporting a state very similar to the Islamic State.

In fact, some have already done so. John Rushdoony founded, and Gary North continues, a strand of so-called Christian thought called Christian Reconstructionism that, if it took power anywhere, would be the mirror image of the Islamic State. All that is barbarous and wrong about the Islamic State would be instituted in the name of strict Christianity.

Rushdoony's major work, which sets out the principles of Christian Reconstructionism as well as many of its details, is a huge book called Institutes of Biblical Law. Gary North, Rushdoony's son-in-law, has carried on the work in many books. Others agree
Not all evangelicals are dominionists who want to remove religious liberty, but one does not have to go too deeply into the evangelical waters to find some who do. Bryan Fischer of the mainstream evangelical group American Family Association clearly believes the Constitutional protections of religious liberty were written for Christians only. Just because Fischer doesn't work for the American Dominionist Association doesn't mean he isn't advocating dominionist beliefs. He who has eyes to see, let him see.

The basis of their argument is simple. To some, it is compelling. They say that the Mosaic Laws in the Old Testament are God-given, and should be reinstituted. That will bring back death by stoning for a long list of crimes, including even stubborn disobedience of one's parents.

For similar reasons, they say that democracy is a "heresy" because Christians must take "Dominion" over the world before it ends. They say that religious tolerance is a means to that end. They say that slavery is permitted by God's law.

Rushdoony himself wrote that interracial marriage is sinful. Even other Christian Reconstructionalists disagree with him there. As Gary North writes
Six years later, all of his previous agnosticism regarding hybrids had departed, although there had been no significant breakthrough in scientific evidence regarding the evils of most hybrids, as far as Rushdoony ever suggested in print. He elevated hybridization in society to the status of covenantal evil, making its eradication a foundational principle in his social theory. In doing so, he moved from covenantalism to racism, as we shall see.
It is easy to see that, to Christian Reconstructionists, any person who calls himself a Bible-believing Christian but does not support the reimposition of theocracy and religious law is just not very serious about his Christianity.

Most Christians would reject Rushdoony's version of their faith as fundamentally wrong. They would not say that Rushdoony is more Christian than they are, but that he is lost on some barbaric side track. I think we have to give Moslems of good faith and good will the same right to condemn the Islamic State as fundamentally non-Muslim. One day, perhaps, they will condemn some Saudi practices for the same reasons and in the same way.

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