11 June 2008

Or better yet, live it

by Frank Turk

I am swamped, and I missed posting last week, so I'm half making it up to you-plural by posting this retread from my blog from 2006. I figure that's long enough ago that the handful of you who read it will have either forgotten it or would love to read it again.

Enjoy.




So with blogger having rickets today, I have been blog-reading rather than blog-writing, and I stumbled onto this piece from Malkin called "A Manifesto Against Islamism".

All things being equal, you have to give the nod to statements like
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
Very Federation of Planets, wouldn't you say? I also liked the next part, which tries hard to be very 21st Century Continental Congress:
We reject cultural relativism, which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
There's some creepy pomoisms in there, but if that's all there was to this document, who'd not sign it?

The problem is that it is all prefaced by this lovely preamble:
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Before we opine on the emphasized text, let's remember something here: Malkin doesn't claim to be a God-blogger. So whatever we think about her excitement about this Danish manifesto, let's not try to impose on her the same kind of concern we'd have if Hewitt or someone else (LaShawn Barber and Challies would not have these kinds of problems; they are, to my knowledge, sound thinkers when it comes to worldview issues) who claims to be an advocate for faith in the blogosphere was getting out the pom-poms for this call to arms.

That said, Malkin wants the NY Times to publish and endorse this manifesto. Frankly, I don't see any reason why NYT shouldn't as they don't really have a dog in the fight I am about to outline here, but should you and I – the Christians who are bloggers – sign up for this manifesto and not ask any questions?

My first gripe about this document is the underlined words, above. The values this document is extolling – equality and freedom, anyway – are not "secular" values. At least, not as they have been developed and turned into law in the West. And more concerning is the value of "secularism", by which I have no idea what is meant, and of which I have deep concerns as it relates to the matter of "freedom" and "equality".

But even if we don't get too worked up about those head-fakes against the Islamist radical agenda, we have the problem that these folks think that this is not a clash of civilizations. Listen: civilization is not marked off by geopolitical boundaries or race. "Civilization" is marked off by things like civil rights, protection under the law, right to property, and intellectual freedom. It's marked off by the ability to disagree without having to burn down each others' embassies. It's marked off by methods of social, economic and political commerce.

If these values we are talking about here are truly "secular" and "universal", why, exactly, do the Islamists fear and loath them? And why particularly are they absent in purely secular societies like Cuba, China, and the old Soviet Union? "Universal" means "as seen everywhere" – but certainly, these values are not seen everywhere. Where they were developed, implemented, worked out and still function best is in Christian societies where the Gospel is preached and practiced.

"But cent, you evangelical cretin," comes the heckler from the God-free zone, "You can't possibly mean to say that the United States is currently a 'Christian society', can you? Doesn't that militate exactly against the raison d'etre for your blog?"

If that's what I was saying, it would, in fact, militate against the raison d'etre for this blog – and I'll thank you for not using that kind of language around here. The reason why this kind of manifesto is so dangerous in the West today – and particularly in the U.S. today – is that the very weak social connection we have to the foundations of our culture puts us in jeopardy of trading away our culture and our civilization. Our freedoms today hang on by rote, not by logical necessity. If we did not have constitutional philosophy forged in large part by Christian notions of justice and liberty, we would not have even the few freedoms we have left.

Because our civilization in fact has become secularized, we are in danger of losing it because our civilization was not founded to be secular at all.

Let's not accidentally paint the history of Christian idealism in the West as an ivory tower, OK? Christian idealism has lead to some anti-Semitism; it has lead to some oppression of minority groups, ideologically and racially; it has lead to some political land-grabbing. But it has also lead to the idea that men are equal before God, and therefore equal before the law; it has lead to the idea that law should be an extension of God's will for man – and the "God" there is not Allah but the God who raised Jesus from the dead. And it has lead to the idea that man earns justice, but also has an obligation to show mercy because of the mercy demonstrated by Christ.

Let me speak for myself: in opposing Islam, I am not a crusader carrying a white banner with a red cross on it. I have no stake in politically subjugating the Muslim people of any race. I oppose Islam – the Islam which murders innocent people based on the alleged offenses of their countrymen, the Islam which uses "you hate me – shut up!" as an argument in political discourse, the Islam which bombs its own holy sites to foment hatred of its perceived enemies – because it stand opposed to the foundation of our society, and that foundation {even today, when it is on the decline} is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I stand in opposition to Islam with the Gospel – not with a bank account, or a girl on each arm, or a nice car, or even a college education. I stand opposed to Islam with a Gospel of peace with God.

If you want to sign a manifesto, sign that one. Or better yet, live it.







20 comments:

Lilith said...

Because our civilization in fact has become secularized, we are in danger of losing it because our civilization was not founded to be secular at all.

The Church flourished in the Roman civilization which was based on pagan gods and Emperor worship. The Church renewed herself in the 1500's after a Dark Ages where Romanism reigned, and the Church experienced more growth in the midst of the so-called Enlightenment when man deified himself and his mind. We who are subjects in the Kingdom of God know who is in control of history, even when we are being persecuted by what passes for civilization these days.

Mike said...

lilith:
Are you a Christian?

Johnny Dialectic said...

The soil of our government was obviously the rich, Judeo-Christian clay of Western Civ. Though it was set up to allow for the most freedom, it was understood that only a "religious" people could make it fly.

Now the acid of atheism, skepticism and humanism has seeped into the soil, like the pig-paddy that may have been in Jesus' mind in the thorns portion of the sower parable. The field is becoming unsuitable for the nurture of any eternal values.

It may be impossible to plant a democracy in ground that knows only tribalism or totalitarianism.

That said, I'm not sure it's untoward to give it a whack.

DJP said...

I stand in opposition to Islam with the Gospel – not with a bank account, or a girl on each arm, or a nice car, or even a college education. I stand opposed to Islam with a Gospel of peace with God.

Money quotation.

Frank Turk said...

Lillith --

I might like to engage your comments, but I have a more pressing matter today: I'd appreciate it if you unlinked TeamPyro from your blog.

You blog content is, frankly, not something we'd endorse and I'm a little uncomfortable having our blog link next to, well, the content you provide.

Nobody put me up to that -- I just had to say it, and there's not way for me to do anything about it except to leave it to you to make the call.

Solameanie said...

Frank, you're so self-deprecating! You are one of the most unforgettable bloggers I know. ;)

And I even like the occasional comic book references!

Solameanie said...

The name "Lilith" has a lot of interesting allusions.

Mike said...

Frank...
I might like to engage your comments, but I have a more pressing matter today: I'd appreciate it if you unlinked TeamPyro from your blog.

IOW, (because of the colon, you're saying)... my most pressing matter today is to ask you to unlink TeamPryo from your blog.

Surely, that's wrong. ;)

Cindy said...

As long as political/social activism is not an idol in my life I would and have signed all sorts of petitions, letters to politicians, manifestos, etc (ones that come to mind include petitioning for release of human rights prisoners, divestment from South Africa, etc), however, I most certainly would not sign the particular manifesto cited here, for all sorts of reasons.

That manifesto misdiagnoses the problem and leads to poor and even dangerous prescriptions/policies to address the threat. There are some contributions to the counterjihad that are totally secular, to be sure, yet some of these same counterjihadists (I'm thinking Bruce Bawer and Hirsi Ali, for ex, propose approaches that ultimately will end up restricting liberties of Christians). We can also observe that neoconservatives (former liberals mugged by reality into realizing PCism has gone to far) have resorted to Greeks/Romans and Western culture to fight domestic PC, and not too much harm with that, *but* when they sought for somewhere to derive an approach to fighting Islamic imperialism they again turned to the Greeks and said, aha, "democracy!", yes, let's be aggressive in regime change and imposition nation-building ("transformation") and this will be the panacea. The problem is that the totalitarianism of Islam is tied to a deity and very complex socio-political-religious system w/clear guidlines about relations w/infidels, therefore to attempt to approach the Islamic nations in the same way we did Germany or Korea of even Japan does not translate. Nor can we take what worked w/communism and say that will work w/Islamism.

Islamism is that element of Islam that is "political Islam" (nearly all of Islam) as opposed to the worship side. It is arguably (though the debate is ongoing) inseparable from the rest of Islam, because to do that one would have to eviscerate the divine Quran.

These are some of the reasons I'm not a fan of attempts to equate this "Islamism" threat w/other "ism" threats. Long before Islam's appropriation of thought and techniques from both nazism and communism into their brand of Islamic antisemitism/antiAmericanism there was Islamic anti-infidelism in their authoritative religious texts--it just took a brief hiatus of about 250 years off. To address political Islam one has to address Islamic texts on the merits--this requires knowing God and the Bible and to be even more effective, knowing the Islamic texts, then using both theology and any other God-given gifts, combined w/love for the Muslim individual, to confront this existential threat. Our goverment happens to be aiding the enemy right now, so as a good citizen I exercise my right to be involved in the political process, but again, not to the point of idolatry or neglect of our calling.

Lilith said...

Mike: IOW, (because of the colon, you're saying)... my most pressing matter today is to ask you to unlink TeamPryo from your blog.

I might end up doing it sonn anyway. I've learned that this is the kind of place where my "generosity-token" (whatever that means) gets used up simply by quoting from the book of Esther to defend women having authority over men. If I have to walk on eggshells it's not a place where it can be said "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

Sharon said...

I'm probably delving into the realm of violating Rule #5, Lilith, but one OT verse doth not a doctrine make. There are a multitude of verses in the OT and NT that expressly forbid women being in authority over men, both specifically and by implication.

A Musician by Grace

donsands said...

I remember going to a church missions meeting right after 9-11. And we prayed for the nations, and for the Gospel to go forth, and for doors to be opened.

After payer, one of the members said, "I'd like to start in Iran and go all the way to Morroco, and kill them all, blow them all up."
Wow, I thought, there's a lot of anger.
I prayed that God would have mercy on these same people, and even Osama.
I also prayed that God's justice would be done upon murders, and terrorists, who need to be brought to justice.

I know of a missionary, who would go to the Mosques in Saudi Arabia, and put New Testament Bible tracks in the shoes outside, when the Moslems would go into pray. He was caught and beaten.

Good post. "Or better yet, live it." Amen. That's what exposes the fruit on the tree.

Mike Riccardi said...

Lilith,

That's very pious sounding, but you're not really here to sharpen or be sharpened, are you? All you've done is twist and rip different verses from their contexts to support every hair-brain argument that opposes whatever people happen to be saying at the time. It doesn't seem at all that you're interested in serious dialog. You just don't like that people seem so sure of themselves so you wanna throw whatever monkey wrench you can into their thinking, even it means doing violence to the Word of God.

So before you fold your arms and stomp away muttering about how you're not welcome, take a minute, appeal to your conscience, and ask yourself if you've been interested in genuine, meaningful discussion around the Word of God.

Mike said...

lilith:
I might end up doing it sonn anyway. I've learned that this is the kind of place where my "generosity-token" (whatever that means) gets used up simply by quoting from the book of Esther to defend women having authority over men.

Just in case this comment to Frank I made gets taken for granted, it wasn't a joke. I meant it ;) because that colon he'd used throws the context out of whack. Humorous, yes, I will admit.

On the term "generosity-token," that's euphemism for grace in a dialogue that's supposed to be on topic.

And as for women having authority, there is some support for that, but not between husband and wife; and feminine authority is the exception rather than the rule.

Junia may be a man or woman. If it was a woman, then you have a case, but I don't think anybody really knows.

One name who is definitely a woman is Phebe (Rom 16:1), she was a deaconess.

Frank Turk said...

Lilith:

Like I said, my request is about the content of your blog and the link to us you have placed there. Because the rest of your content is, um, (PG-13)-to-(R) I am requesting you delink us.

There's not other more-specific issue guiding my request. If you want to make it about something else, that's up to you.

jeff said...

Frank,
Thanks for the post. I love all of your comic book references. As far as signing any manifesto, I'm really hesitant to do that with anyone or any group. I don't even agree 100% with the theology of the church I attend. Although I believe it is an excellent church.

We live in such hostile times. There is so much disagreement even among Christians. Even among Americans. It's hard to get a consensus on anything. I love America and the Christian values and freedoms of our society, but I respect other cultures' right to reject our ideals. I wish everyone would get saved, but I respect their right to choose. Even if the choice isn't really theirs. Very deep subject Frank. I had better keep praying. God bless.
Jeff

Frank Turk said...

Jeff --

something about your comment here bothers me. I think I know what it is, but I'm going to think about it today and get back to you.

Frank Turk said...

Jeff said this:

[QUOTE]
I respect other cultures' right to reject our ideals. I wish everyone would get saved, but I respect their right to choose. Even if the choice isn't really theirs.
[/QUOTE]

I think I get what he's saying here -- I think he's saying that some people are going to reject the Gospel.

I think that, ultimately, is a Biblical sentiment. The question I would ask Jeff (sorry to talk about you in the 3rd person, dude) would go like this.

I know another guy who believes exactly the same thing -- that some people will simply not accept the Gospel. But when we talked about it, he said things like this:

[QUOTE]
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
[/QUOTE]

Now, think about this: Paul goes on to say here that some are cut off so that others can be grafted in, but the love for these lost people is not a passive, "gosh, that's too bad" but and active "I would rather be cut off than let them be cut off."

We cannot let our reliance on God's sovereignty overshadow our real passion to deliver the Gospel to people especially when it offends them.

the Gospel is not about their "right" to say "no" -- because frankly, before God, they don't have that right. Before God, every knee will bow -- and at that time, judgment is coming.

I don't want to go all tent revival on you, Jeff, but the "right" to say no to the Gospel is going to look pretty lame when it results in Jesus saying to that person, "I never knew you."

Please think about this some more.

jeff said...

Frank,
I understand what you're saytin. I guess I need to be more compassionate towards people. Just another one of my areas I need more sanctification in. Anyway, Thanks for the post and the comments.
Jeff

Mike said...

One thing, though, Frank:

"the Gospel is not about their "right" to say "no" -- because frankly, before God, they don't have that right. Before God, every knee will bow -- and at that time, judgment is coming."

They may not have that right, but they do have a choice. Compare Deuteronomy 30:19 and the surrounding context with your idea of "no choice." True it is that you don't really have a choice because there's only one choice, but the choice is still yours to make to reject the gospel.