This ‘n That
Basket of Figs, July, 2004
There was a cartoon in an old New Yorker Magazine that had an old guy reminiscing: “You know, it was a long time ago, but it seemed like the present then.”
Islam has two problems in its confrontation with Christianity. In the first place, there is nothing in Islam similar to Christ’s commandment, “Render unto Caesar” command. Hence, they must create a theocracy if they are to be loyal to God. They are like the Reconstuctionists who must make the world into an extension of David’s kingdom, ruled by them of course in the name of Christ. Both have an unhealthy desire to meddle in the lives of people to make them conform to their idea of what morality is. The Taliban shot their victims on the soccer field. Thank God the Reconstructionists have not had their autocracy yet, and we hope they never will.
The other problem is that there is no mercy in Islam. One of the complaints that the Muslim raises against Christianity is the doctrine of mercy. Christians make forgiveness too easy, so Christians do not seek to live righteously. Not so the true Islamist. Sins and transgressions must be judged, and it is sinful to tolerate them. Christianity, therefore, when true to itself, can bear with those who are not criminals, but who come short of the glory of God. Because they have received mercy, Christians are able to show mercy and to turn the other cheek, as Christ commanded. It is true that many evil and cruel things have been done in the name of Christ by those who thought they did God’s service, but their deeds did not derive from the teachings of their Master. They came from a different spirit, the spirit of the world, driven by greed and sinful desires.