OceanSide church of Christ
|Previous||Return to Articles||Next|
Shari’a Law (1)
Victor M. Eskew
The definition of the word “theocracy” is: “a rule of law wherein God is recognized as the head of state.” In a theocracy, God’s law covers both the political and religious components of the nation. The Jews lived under a theocracy.
Christianity is not a theocracy. The reason it is not a theocracy is because Christianity does not involve an earthly kingdom. In John 18:36, we read: “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” Jesus plainly declares that His kingdom is not a physical kingdom.
On earth, God has established human governments to oversee the secular affairs of men. In Romans 13:1-5, the apostle Paul writes about the subject of governments. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For 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: for 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. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” The emphasis in this passage of Scripture is three-fold: 1) God ordains the powers of government, 2) The governments are to protect the good and punish the evil, and 3) God’s people are to obey their rulers. In I Peter 2:13-14, Simon Peter affirms these three points. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
There is a clear distinction between the kingdom of God today and the governments of men. The influence of Christianity upon government takes two avenues. First, it actively seeks to convert all rulers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Leaders are like all men. They are lost in sin and need to be saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. If a ruler is converted to Christ, he is a member of two kingdoms, the nation over which he rules and the kingdom of Christ. Second, it appeals to the leaders of the nation to live by the principles of righteousness found in God’s Word. The wise man of old said: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). The psalmist put the matter in much stronger words. He wrote: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). Yes, Christianity seeks to influence government, but it is important to understand that Christianity does not seek to overtake any existing form of government. It can function under any government as long as that government allows the free practice of religion.
In contrast to Christianity is the religion of Islam. Islam is a theocracy. Muslims believe that their law governs both politically and religiously. They believe that the only correct way for Islam to be practiced in other nations like the United States is by doing away with their systems of law and implementing Shari’a Law. This is the goal of Islam. This goal is only openly advocated, however, by what are referred to as the extremists of their faith. This point is set forth clearly by the Center for Security Policy in the quote that follows:
“By contrast, the other side of the divide is dominated by Muslim supremacists, often called Islamists. Like erstwhile proponents of Communism and Nazism, the supremacists – some terrorists, others employing stealthier means – seek to impose a totalitarian regime: a global totalitarian system cloaked as an Islamic State and called a caliphate. On that side of the divide, which is the focus of this present study, shariah is an immutable, compulsory system that Muslims are obliged to install and the world required to adopt, the failure to do so being deemed a damnable offence against Allah. For these ideologies, shariah is not a private matter. Adherents see the West as an obstacle to be overcome, not a culture and civilization to be embraced, or at least tolerated. It is impossible, they maintain, for alternative legal systems and forms of governments peacefully to coexist with the end-state they seek”
The more moderate Muslims are not as intent on implementing Shari’a Law within the government. However, they do want to practice it in their family life and will push to have it as far as they can in the circles in which they operate: work, school, recreation, etc. A 2012 poll found that 40% of Muslims living in the U.S. want to be governed by Shari’a Law and 32% want Shari’a to govern all Americans. Almost half surveyed said “Americans who offer criticism or parodies of Islam should face criminal charges,” while “one in eight” called instead for the death penalty (http://gateofvinenna.net/2015/02/nashvilles-mayor-celebrates-sharia-enclaves/).
As we study the subject of Islam, it is imperative that we have a grasp of Shari’a Law. This law is what enables Islam to exist. If this law is not practiced, Islam cannot be a reality. We will be looking at this law in the next several issues of the Gospel Journal.