Skip to comments.Freedom versus Legalism - Christianity offers inner change; Islam offers only external rules
Posted on 11/25/2001 7:19:47 AM PST by sola gracia
After the Taliban high-tailed it out of Afghanistan's major cities, ordinary Afghansthough bombed and poverty-strickenamazed Western viewers with public displays of happiness.
People played music. (The Taliban had outlawed music.) Children flew kites. (Kite flying was forbidden). People dug up television sets they had buried in their back yards and brought out photographs they had hidden, since TV and photography were outlawed. Young men played soccer. (Also outlawed, after a Pakistani team showed up for a game wearing shorts instead of the prescribed long-sleeved tunics and to-the-ground trousers.)
As soon as the Taliban left, men lined up at barber shops to shave their beards, and many women ditched the burqa, the wearable tent with webbed eye-holes reminiscent of the haz-mat suits used in America for the anthrax scare. Both trendy styles were mandatory under the Taliban fashion police, who whipped violators with steel rods.
The smiling faces, the dancing in the streets, the hugs for their liberators seemed surprising. Conditioned by the ideology of multiculturalism, we had assumed that the Afghans lived the austere life they did because of their culture.
It turns out they hated living under a regime that forbade the most innocent of pleasures. The radical Islamic regime did not reflect cultural values, just old-fashioned tyranny. Something similar is happening in Iran, with a grassroots uprising against the control-freak mullahs and their Virtue Police. The love of freedom, it appears, is multicultural.
When the United States defeated Japan, the less-than-culturally-sensitive occupying army swept away the cultural legacy of centuries to impose an American-style constitution and make the Japanese free whether they wanted to be or not. For this, the Japanese peoplewho eagerly embraced not only capitalism but baseballhave been deeply grateful.
But political freedom and cultural freedomwhich must mean, among other things, freedom from the cultureboth have their origins in spiritual freedom.
Christianity is arguably the only world religion that promises freedom. The New Testament, contrary to the common assumption that associates freedom with moral license, analyzes sin as a type of slavery. "Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin," said Jesus. Sinners are in bondage, as any drug addict or drunk or sexual sinner would have to admit, as well as those who cannot control their temper, appetites, or selfish thoughts. But "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:34, 36).
Put another way, Christianity is the only world religion that is not all about what a person has to do. Rather, as has been said, it is all about what God does for us. We are not saved by our works, but by the work of Christ, who, by His grace, gives us salvation as a free gift.
In Christianity, virtue comes not through the imposition of external rules, but from a changed heart that no longer wants to be entrapped in sin and that wants to love and serve others. In the connection between spiritual freedom and political freedom recognized by the American founders, someone who is virtuous from the inside does not need a strong political power to keep him in line. Because he governs himself, he can be, literally, self-governing.
Islam, on the other hand, is, like other world religions, a theology of legalism. Whereas Christianity's priority is saving souls, Islam's priority is imposing Koranic law. Christianity focuses on individuals; Islam focuses on societies. As a Nigerian Christian told WORLD, when Christian missionaries come to Africa, they build schools and hospitals. When Islamic missionaries come, they try to take over the government.
Legalism, ironically, tends to be accompanied by immorality. As those who work with international college students know, Islamic students who come to the United States often have big behavioral problems.
Having been brought up in a society that tries to make bad behavior impossible with Taliban-like restrictions, when they find themselves in a society without those external restraints, they often go wild, indulging in all kinds of debauchery. It comes as no surprise that the Sept. 11 hijackers spent their last days getting lapdances in sleazy strip bars. In legalistic religions, morality is purely external and must be enforced by restrictive rules or whip-bearing Virtue Police.
No wonder they see Christianity as such a threat, to the point of imprisoning those eight relief workerssince freed in the Taliban rout (see page 22)for telling someone about Jesus. If the Afghans were so happy at the merest taste of personal freedom, imagine their joy, burdened as they have been by a legalistic religion, if they could know the freedom of the gospel.
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.!
Yes. That's why I fled the Liberal enclaves of California.
Liberalism--America's version of the Taliban.
I wish we could have a grassroots uprising against them in the United States.
This is exactly what is needed in the Islamic world.
Whether or not the inhabitants of those benighted countries turn out to be "deeply grateful" is beside the point.
It will be by far the best thing for the rest of the world, and
There is no excuse for the toleration of an imperialistic, tyrranical theocracy by the civilized world any more than the toleration of Naziism or Japanese imperialism.
Islam is imperialistic.
Islamic apologists like to sweep this little fact under the rug.
Demand unconditional surrender. Sweep away the cultural legacy of centuries, and impose an American-style constitution, with guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of religion (including the freedom to convert to religions other than Islam), separation of religion and state, and women's suffrage. If the subjugated population objects--too bad. Open these countries up to missionaries. Convert them from the imperialistic, intolerant, war-like, tyrranical religion of Islam to some other religion--any other religion. Give Islam the respect it deserves--none.
"So called" is the operative phrase here. There is nothing we can do to be "holy" or pleasing to God.there is nothing we can do to "earn" heaven..
Salvation is of God ,external rules do not save.
Are you changing your tune?
That's a matter of debate.
But you've got to admit: radical Islamic fundamentalists have a lot in common with the Nazi and the Japanese imperialists.
Like most Americans, I was never anti-Islamic until Sept. 11--not quite three months ago. I've travelled in Islamic countries. Had Muslim friends.
But where were all the moderate Muslims when the Taliban was acting like Nazis? Why was it left to the Americans to rid Afghanistan of this scourge? And why is it illegal in Islamic theocracies for citizens to convert from Islam to another religion? There are many such questions that have arisen since Sept. 11. The response of moderate Muslims has been tepid and unconvincing.
What do you think?
In my view, the most realistic strategy is to support educational campaigns by groups such as the Cato Institute, which can, for example, hold conferences for groups such as Imans. Through this, admittedly slow, strategy, the Islamic world can be slowly reintroduced to an earlier tradition of liberty. It would be somewhat akin to introducing Russians to Hayek or re-introducing the socialist French to the long-forgotten ideas of Bastiat or Say.
There is a more pro-liberty tradition in Islam which can provide a foundation. Unfortunately, this tradition has been dead largely for several hundred years. The best hope is to revive it and build on it....but this may take several centuries.
World Civilization will be Western Civilization, combined with Chinese Civilization to an extent which cannot be determined yet.
It may be able to make some accomodations to Islam, but not many, because of the fundamental differences between Islam and Western Civilization.
Islam will accomodate World Civilization or face annihilation.
Moderates within the Islamic world will become secularized, as most Christians and Jews have been. Intransigents will be overpowered and overwhelmed by the dominant World Civilization culture. Ultimately, an altered Islamic world will be absorbed into World Civilization.
If present trends continue, Islam will help catalyze the forging of Russia, India, and NATO into a solid and powerful alliance, an alliance that will ultimately include China also.
A rich, liberal tradition from the past was of little help in bringing Germany from Naziism (or pre-Naziism) to democracy. Democracy was foreign to German thinking and experience.
There are conflicting currents in contemporary Japan, but capitalism and constitutional democracy have definitely succeeded.
Both Germany and Japan are miracles of post-war political and economic success--and American magnanimity in victory.
Success in both countries is due to the sweeping away of centuries-old cultural traditions by less-than-culturally sensitive occupying armies that imposed upon the subjugated populations an American-style constitution, which made them free whether they wanted to be or not.
It also made the world safer for everyone else.
This is the future of the present-day Islamic theocracies.
What do you think?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.