Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

Thoughts on the Gospel and Government

July 12, 2008

One of my friends in an Internet chat room I visit, recently challenged me to consider what form of government is most conducive to the spread of the gospel. I believe this brother wanted to suggest that a pluralistic, liberal (original sense of the word) republican democracy is the best form.

There are ways in which this is true. Freedom of speech gives us freedom to preach. Freedom of assembly gives us freedom to engage in communion with our fellow-saints. Freedom of religion prevents currently prevailing religions from stomping us out using the force of government under color of law. Those are all valid points.

Let me give the reader a counter-point, though. Historically the gospel seems to have spread well at times/places where Christianity was persecuted and at times when there was a hierarchical government. The latter may simply be circumstantial, as the concept of a pluralistic, liberal republican democracy is a modern phenomenon.

With respect to the former issue, persecution provides an intrinsically stronger witness for Christians. It is obvious to everyone that it takes more sincerity to advocate the resurrection of Christ when doing so risks your life, than when doing so may make you a millionaire televangelist. When it is – to all appearances – easy to be a Christian, our faith in Christ is less clearly seen to be genuine.

Consider how Scripture even demonstrates the principle. Recall Job. Satan made exactly this argument: of course Job worships God, he has an easy life; take away his happiness and he’ll curse God.

When Job did not curse God, but rather praised him saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” That’s a testimony that the world and the devil are shaken by. That answer leaves little doubt for any but the most hardened skeptic to doubt that Job’s faith in God was genuine.

Thus, a country where Christianity is persecuted provides a way for Christians to demonstrate that they are genuine believers, which combats the widespread current view among non-Christians in liberal democracies that Christians are hypocrites.

Persecution has another advantage as well: it helps us test the genuineness of our own faith. That’s why James, the servant of God, can tell us:

James 1:2-3
2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

James (to quote John Gill) is speaking of temptations,

not the temptations of Satan, or temptations to sin; for these cannot be matter of joy, but grief; these are fiery darts, and give a great deal of uneasiness and trouble; but afflictions and persecutions for the sake of the Gospel, which are so called here and elsewhere, because they are trials of the faith of God’s people, and of other graces of the Spirit of God. God by these tempts his people, as he did Abraham, when he called him to sacrifice his son; he thereby tried his faith, fear, love, and obedience; so by afflictions, God tries the graces of his people; not that he might know them, for he is not ignorant of them, but that they might be made manifest to others; and these are “divers”: many are the afflictions of the righteous; through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom; it is a great fight of afflictions which they endure, as these believers did; their trials came from different quarters; they were persecuted by their countrymen the Jews, and were distressed by the Gentiles, among whom they lived; and their indignities and reproaches were many; and their sufferings of different sorts, as confiscation of goods, imprisonment of body, banishment, scourgings, and death in various shapes: and these they “fall” into; not by chance, nor altogether at an unawares, or unexpectedly; but they fell into them through the wickedness and malice of their enemies, and did not bring them upon themselves through any crime or enormity they were guilty of: and when this was their case, the apostle exhorts them to count it all joy, or matter of joy, of exceeding great joy, even of the greatest joy; not that these afflictions were joyous in themselves, but in their circumstances, effects, and consequences; as they tried, and exercised, and improved the graces of the Spirit, and worked for their good, spiritual and eternal, and produced in them the peaceable fruit of righteousness; and as they were attended with the presence and Spirit of God, and of glory; and as they made for, and issued in the glory of God; and because of that great reward in heaven which would follow them; see Matthew 5:11. The Jews have a saying, “whoever rejoices in afflictions that come upon him, brings salvation to the world.” (T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 8. 1.)

With all those things in mind, we must continually call to remembrance the fact that we are to honor whatever form of government that we find ourselves under, as having divine authority. As it is written:

Romans 13:1-7
1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Blessed be God who has given us ministers of justice as well as minister of the gospel,


Evangelism – Islam Style

September 7, 2007

Osama bin Ladin has released a new video. The present author has no plans to link to it, nor to any transcript of it.

The summary is:

America is bad,
Bush is bad,
Christians are bad,
Capitalism is bad,
Corporations are bad,
Democracy is bad,
Globalisation is bad,
Islam is good,
Terrorism is justified,
Muslims don’t incinerate Jews and Christians,
The Qaran and the Gospel are from the same source, and
The Qaran has been preserved from the alterations of men.

And, of course, key quote:

“[T]he greatest mistake one can make in this world and one which is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to Allah, the Most High, in all aspects of one’s life – ie., [sic] to die outside Islam.”

May God have mercy on Bin Ladin, and convert him from the error of his way, before it is too late.

As for his specific claims:

– As a matter of historical fact, the Qaran was subject to alteration and standardization by various people. Furthermore, early Muslims famously acknowledged that much of the Koran was permanently lost: ” ‘Uthman, A’isha, and Ibn Ka’b (among others) all insisted that much of the Koran had been lost.” (source)

– As a matter of theology, the path of salvation in Christianity is different from that of Islam, and the doctrines of the Evangelists are not the doctrines of Islam. Christ is the I AM, and the Muslim denial of that truth is blasphemy.

– Not all Muslim incinerate every Christian or Jew that they meet. Nevertheless, Muslim terrorists routinely incinerate both themselves and the Christians, Jews, and other Muslims they attack. Those young men who foolish follow Bin Ladin and the false prophet of Islam demonstrate that incineration is a weapon that Muslims use. Furthermore, whether or not they use incineration, Muslims are notorious for the use of the sword (whether literally or with reference to modern hand weapons like the gun). Only in the last week it has been reported that Christian missionaries in Pakistan were martyred by Muslims who used a gun.

– Bin Ladin claims that there are no taxes in Islam, but instead “a limited Zakaat totaling only 2.5%.” Of course, Muslims famously eradicated Christianity in North Africa not only by the sword but also by confiscatory taxation.

– Terrorism is justified how exactly? Bin Ladin hints that the Christian west, especially America, Britain and France, deserves to be attacked. Why? Apparently because of our continued warfare against Iraq. Huh? It should be fairly obvious to those who read the news that the population of Iraq has accepted the regime change and is fighting a war against radical Muslim extremists who, like Bin Ladin, seek to spread Islam by the sword. We’re there to help Iraq – we’re not waging war against Iraq. Oh yes, one other thing. Were we at war with Iraq or any other Muslim nation when Bin Ladin attacked on September 11? (He notes that he cannot reasoanbly claim to be innocent of the September 11 attacks.)

– Ironically, Bin Ladin asserts that “our [Muslim] rulers in general abandoned Islam many decades ago.” That should make it clear that Bin Ladin is advocating a particular – rather strict – variety of Islam.

– Bin Ladin claims to be “winning … the war against you despite the fewness of our numbers and materiel.” In contrast, however, about 75% of Al Quaeda has been destroyed, and the 25% that remains is mostly either hiding or incarcerated.

– Bin Ladin may be right that democracy is a bad idea (and this blog is not taking a position on that issue), but if it were not for democracy, he would have been long ago destroyed by the Russians. In any event, Bin Ladin is probably confusing democracy with pluralism.

– Bin Ladin uses the communist propaganda against capitalism, asserting that it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. History has shown that capitalism made the Christian world rich when the Muslim world suffered in gross poverty, so that obesity (not starvation) has become the afflication of the poor in Christian nations throughout the world.

– Bin Ladin lumps in globalization with capitalism and democracy – an odd combination, but apparently an appeal to the anti-globalization radicals in America. Interestingly, the forces of globalization have been the major visible cause of improvement in the health and welfare of developing countries.

– Bin Ladin notes “abject poverty and tragic hunger” in Africa, but this occurs mostly in Muslim, former Communist, and pagan societies.

– Bin Ladin asserts that the war has aided “major corporations.” What Bin Ladin does not seem to recognize is that “major corporations” are virtually all publicly owned. If Lockheed Martin benefitted, all its stockholders benefitted, and anyone who has money can buy stock in that corporation. Have “major corporations” benefited from the eradication of Al Quaeda? Probably yes. And that benefit has been transferred on to the stockholders, the American and global public.

– Bin Ladin blames Rumsfield for the Vietnam war, yet Rumsfield was a “dove” in the Nixon administration. (source)

– Bin Ladin blames Christianity for the Spanish Inquisition and the “holocaust of the Jews,” when he should be blaming athiesm and Catholicism. On top of that, has Bin Ladin forgotten why the Spanish Inquisition was formed? One of the reasons was the invasion by militant Islam in Southern Europe.

– Bin Ladin claims that Bush is try to win the war by turning sect against sect in Iraq. In fact, Bush has already succeeded in uniting multiple sects against Al Quaeda in Iraq.

Finally, a summary of Bin Ladin’s soteriology.

Bin Ladin writes (well, the transcript of his speech reads): “And all praise is due to Allah, who awakened His slaves’ desire for the Garden, and all of them will enter it except those who refuse. And whoever obeys Him alone in all his affairs will enter the Garden, and whoever disobeys Him will have refused.”

This is not so different from an Arminian or Pelagian soteriology.

But compare it to a Reformed soteriology:

All praise be to The One Triune God! He has redeemed His children from out of every land, nation, tribe, and tongue. He will open their eyes to the glory of His name, and they will follow Him. He will riase them to spiritual life from spiritual death, and they will dwell with Him in Heaven forever!


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