"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts on a Christian Caliphate & Being Born Christian

Since I started reading blogs more and more about 15 months ago, I have come across many interesting discussions pertaining to religious beliefs and practices. One thing that has taken my attention several times when comparing and contrasting religions in general with Islam, is when people say, "Well, Islam is a way of life" as if it is supposed to set up rules and regulations to govern huge groups of people collectively as well as micromanage individuals. This has puzzled me since it gives me the impression, by contrast, that Christians have so few rules that it's not a way of life. Hmmm. I honestly try with varying degrees of success to let God influence every aspect of my life - how I vote, how I act, what I say and do. I think of Proverbs 3:6 which instructs us to acknowledge God in all our ways and He will direct our paths.

Is it necessary for the Bible to offer detailed rules for living politically in today's world? Do we need rules to govern every aspect of our lives? One friend asked a while back, "Susanne, if you could, wouldn't you want to live in a nation that was governed by your Christian values?" In essence he was asking, "Don't you want a Christian nation where only (mostly) Christians live and rule and your ideals would be the law of the land? Wouldn't this be wonderful?" (Think Islamic Caliphate...only Christian.)

Ideally this sounds good, however, it seems when people mix their religion with the state, we get corruption in both places. We have the Church becoming corrupt because it welds too much power and we have politics becoming more corrupt. And, really, when The Head Honcho be it President or Church Leader declares "all must be Christians to vote" or "if you are Christian, you get lower taxes and better business opportunities," don't you think there will be at least a small segment who pretend to be Christians just for the perks of being under this label? I guess I just always think of people who have died for their faith and how "the blood of the martyrs [was] the seed of the church." True Christianity actually flourishes more when people are ready to die for their faith. Let's face it, it's not so hard to be "Christian" in America, but try sharing your faith in China or North Korea or Saudi Arabia and you have to be committed - you have to be prepared for punishment from the ruling entities. The threat of punishment or death really separates those who are just Christians because it's the popular thing and it's easy from those who are committed.

I don't even think being Christian is hereditary. It's not like we are born Christians. You may have parents who follow Christ and siblings who have chosen to walk with Him and you may grow up going to church and even singing in the choir, but I believe it's an individual's choice and not a matter of birth. EACH of us much choose for him/herself whether or not we follow Jesus or follow something else.

Um, I had a point to make in this post, but I kind of rabbit trailed. Oooops.

Do you have any opinions about any of this? Do you think Christianity was established so we could form some sort of "Christian empire" kind of like the Muslims have their ideal of having Islamic lands run by sharia? Do you think Jesus had this in mind? What about other Christians over the years? What are the pros or cons of this that come to your mind? What do you think about people being "born Christian"? Does what I say make sense or do you disagree? Please share your thoughts as I love hearing others' perspectives. I learn a lot from you all. So talk! :)


Amber said...

Ooohh! Oooh! *raises hand*

I went through a phase, right after becoming a Christian, where I wanted to live in the Vatican. When I realized that was unlikely to happen because, a) girly bits & b) not a nun, I decided we needed to have a Christian nation, based on the laws of the Church (kinda like shariah, only, you know, Christian).

I've since realized a worldly kingdom or country is *not* the Plan. We're called to be *in* the world, but not *of it*. If we all remove ourselves to a little country we carve out of, oh, let's say Wyoming. No one lives in Wyoming...anyway, we wouldn't be *in* the world. We'd be that crazy country over there (don't tell me people don't think that about Saudi, because some of them *do*). People wouldn't be able to *see* our faith. They'd just see what the news tells them (which already happens, but it'd be worse).

"Preach the gospel always, If necessary use words." ~ St. Francis of Assisi.

How could we do that if we didn't mix with others?

Plus, we've tried mixing religion and state. It turns out badly.

But this also reminds me of my new wacky thought of the moment!

Right, so, God seems to favor the second born child, the one who isn't meant, according to the laws of the world, to be the heir. Both Ishmael and Isaac were promised great nations? Right? Ishmael was first born, so he (and his descendants) get the rewards of this world - a visible kingdom, etc. Isaac's descendants get the higher reward, that of the kingdom of God? See?

Okay Susanne, go forth and shoot down my wacky theory. :)

Amber said...

Crap. Forgot stuff.

'Born Christian' - I think what you say makes sense. Even those born into a Christian household must, at some point, choose to follow Christ. If you do something merely because your parents and your ancestors did it, it means nothing. Christianity is, at its heart, a personal faith.

Right, now I'm going to go work and stop messing around.

Suroor said...

*Do you think Christianity was established so we could form some sort of "Christian empire" kind of like the Muslims have their ideal of having Islamic lands run by sharia? Do you think Jesus had this in mind?

No. i don't think so. I have really hated the Spanish Inquisition and I can't believe that is what Jesus would have wanted. I think that is what really differentiates Islam from Christianity. That is why I could never understand the crusades because that was never Jesus' message. Islam and holy war, I can understand but Christianity and holy war, I am confused.

*What do you think about people being "born Christian"?

Jesus set up worship of one God. Jesus didn't set up Christianity. He wasn't born a Christian so others can't be born Christian either. People become Christian when they embrace Christ. That is something that has to be done consciously like you said. It is a responsibility that has to be met.

Sanil Atarah Rivka said...

Hurray, other people rabbit trail too! :) It made sense to me, though, and I don't think you rambled.

(Throughout here I use a generic "You", by which I DO NOT mean you-you, Susanne. I'm speaking to whoever thinks a Christian nation is a brilliant idea.)

Whose Christianity gets to rule? :) That's my problem. This isn't ancient Israel. Christianity is not a small tribe that can take a piece of land and create a nation. God didn't come down and give us our constitution (unless you want to say the Torah applies to Christians and should be the law of the land. Good luck finding people who are allowed to be the priests, the lineage has long since been lost, from what I've been told.) and set up authorities so we know who to listen to. Trying to create a "Christian" nation would lead to war between its various branches. And where would it be set up? Who are you going to kick out of their land to set up a Christian promised land? We tried that with modern-day Israel and they've been fighting ever since. It would only be worse with Christianity, because Christians can't even claim a historic promised land.

Jesus said his kingdom was not of this earth. We shouldn't try to overrule him and drag it down here.

Amber said...

'Whose Christianity gets to rule?'

Mine. :-p

Wrestling With Religion said...

Wow Susanne, you post on such interesting topics!

I've always thought that the difference between Christianity and Islam in terms of the amount of politics they include, is due to how they started: Islam, in tribal Arabia; and Christianity, in the Roman empire. With Islam the community naturally had to become like a self-governing tribe because there was no overarching political authority. Christianity on the other hand seemed to start out as a sect within Judaism, and breaking away politically would have been a much bigger job than snowballing your community into an empire from within a tribal system.

I'm not sure whether this is true, though. Maybe if Jesus had been like Muhammad, he *would* have attempted to fight for independence from Rome. Maybe this simply wasn't the point for him.

Religion might inform law-making to some extent, and I think people with religious convictions should get involved in political issues such as climate change and unfair international trade laws. But it doesn't have to mean forming a religious country - that could do some good, sure, but there are so many other ways to influence the way the world works too.

Both Islam and Judaism believe in a legal system from God, and so a religious state is primarily about being able to implement that. I don't believe God would prescribe a universal legal code. What would be the point? I think of the religious "way of life" much more in terms of principles rather than a detailed set of laws.

Susanne said...

Amber, you and your Wyoming bit made me grin. :-)

"We're called to be *in* the world, but not *of it*."

Ah, so true. This is also what I used to explain to my friend when he asked about the "Christian nation" that he thought I'd want to form. Jesus told us to go into all the world, not segregate ourselves into our Christian community/nation and not reach out. Love that quote from St. Francis of Assisi!

About your wacky theory...why don't you bring that up on your blog so we can discuss it. I'm truly eager to hear more about what you mean by Isaac's descendants inheriting the kingdom of God. And what earthly, visible kingdom do you mean Ishmael's descendants will inherit? Arabia?? Do tell what you mean by that and maybe what lead to your "wacky theory." Really, I am interested!

Yes, Christianity is personal...true. Glad we agree on that. :)

Suroor, you have every right to be confused about the "Christian" holy wars because they are anything BUT Christian! Jesus never taught us to treat our enemies this way, but demonstrated how to meet needs, love and serve others.

Loved this: "People become Christian when they embrace Christ."

Jesus never said, "Go down to such and such church and do this and that and then call yourself 'Christian' and you're all set." When I read the Gospel, I see him telling people, "Follow me."

Sanil, wow, great stuff. Yes, the whose Christianity thing came to my mind as well. I'm SO glad you brought that up although Amber said HERS would rule. ;-)

Loved this:
"Jesus said his kingdom was not of this earth. We shouldn't try to overrule him and drag it down here."


Sarah, thanks for what you contributed. I'm not sure if Jesus would have urged his followers to fight if he were in Muhammad's shoes. Hmmm, interesting theory. I think the Jews wanted him to fight - to lead a revolution from their oppressors, but he wanted to save them from their sins - from themselves - instead. It's more important to be eternally free than only be free here on earth.

"I think of the religious "way of life" much more in terms of principles rather than a detailed set of laws."

Me, too!

Thank you all for such wonderful comments that added nicely to the topic! Enjoyed them all. :)

Amber said...


Seriously, do *you* know anyone that's actually from Wyoming?

Hmmm...maybe. We'll see. It's just a random thought in my head at this point.

Susanne said...

I think Coolred lives there so, yeah, one person. :-)

Yes, I think you need to mention that on your blog. I would try to "shoot down your wacky theory" here as you suggested (hardy, har, har), but I need more info first. So whenever the mood hits, do share if you are up to it. I am eager to hear your theory.