Thinking in Christ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com Get Your Worldview On! Sun, 26 Jul 2015 19:50:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Money Maker http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/money-maker/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/money-maker/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:58:24 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25351 The post Money Maker appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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War and Dishonor http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/war-and-dishonor/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/war-and-dishonor/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:57:15 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25348 The post War and Dishonor appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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Worry http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/worry/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/worry/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:55:08 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25345 The first thing, when one is being worried as to whether one will have to have an operation or whether one is a literary failure, is to assume absolutely mercilessly that the worst is true, and to ask What Then? If it turns out in the end that the worst is not true, so much ...

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The first thing, when one is being worried as to whether one will have to have an operation or whether one is a literary failure, is to assume absolutely mercilessly that the worst is true, and to ask What Then? If it turns out in the end that the worst is not true, so much the better; but for the meantime the question must be resolutely put out of mind. Otherwise your thoughts merely go round and round a wearisome circle , now hopeful, now despondent, now hopeful again—that way madness lies. -C.S. Lewis

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Review: Islamic Theology, Constitutionalism, and the State http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/review-islamic-theology-constitutionalism-and-the-state/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/review-islamic-theology-constitutionalism-and-the-state/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:14:01 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25355 Islamic Theology, Constitutionalism, and the State Lucas Wick Amazon A wide array of thinkers have wondered, or proposed, the “modernization” of Islam into a form that can support a constitutional republic (or in modern parlance, a constitutional democracy; we have unfortunately long since lost the sense of the words republic and democracy). In many minds, ...

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islamic-theologyIslamic Theology, Constitutionalism, and the State
Lucas Wick

Amazon

A wide array of thinkers have wondered, or proposed, the “modernization” of Islam into a form that can support a constitutional republic (or in modern parlance, a constitutional democracy; we have unfortunately long since lost the sense of the words republic and democracy). In many minds, Christianity and Islam are generally about the same in beliefs and tenor; the main difference between the two being the Reformation and Enlightment, which taught Christians to separate themselves from the state, and to temper their belief in the face of the public good.

This narrative underlies much of the modern world’s thinking on “the Middle East problem,” or perhaps the “radical Islam problem.” If we just somehow give ear to the moderates in Islam, the religion can go through its own “enlightenment,” and come to grips with the modern world. A singular irony embedded in this view is the idea that Islam carried civilization through the “Dark Ages,” as they’re mistakenly called, and into the Enlightenment. So somehow the religion that is most responsible for the Enlightenment needs enlightenment, and the religion that was dragged, kicking and screaming, through the Enlightenment is in a position to bring Islam forward into the light. Or something like that.

Ironies aside, what are the prospects for “reforming” Islam in this way? The book under review considers one element of the constitutional republic formula, the constitution. Can an Islamic nation actually create and hold to a constitution in the Western sense of the word? As the author says —

The frequent attention paid to tolerant intellectuals disguises, in my view, a not-inconsiderable Eurocentric arrogance which suggests that Muslims would really like to imitate Western ideals but are only prevented by their lack of education and their commitment to an antiquated worldview. Western ideas are raised to the level of a normative horizon, and any programs that contradict that ideal are immediately dismissed as inauthentic manifestations of Islam. The conviction is unconsciously conveyed that the historical development of the West represents the universal historical paradigm that must sooner or later emerge in all parts of the world. It is furthermore insinuated that the Islamic world needs a transformation comparable to the Protestant Reformation in order to leap successfully into the modern age. To this end, grotesque historical comparisons have sometimes been made to a need for an Islamic Luther. -Kindle locations 2381-2396

The author begins by tracing the history of constitutional government, pinning the source of the movement on the demand that citizens be free from arbitrary arrest — in fact, the author states that this singular right has the side effect of creating religious freedom, in that people cannot be arrested and imprisoned without some form of just cause. This view seems to be a bit backwards — certainly being free from arbitrary arrest is a large leap forward, but if the law under which people are arrested and imprisoned is as arbitrary as the arrest powers before any such reform, this is a distinction without a difference. Narrowing and making consistent reasons for arresting someone seem to be as important as the process of arrest in the development of a government by law.

The Founding Fathers are given their rightful due in the narrative told in the first chapter of the book for taking the theories created by the political thinkers they followed and turning them into a practical framework on which a government could be hung (at least for a little while, as it turns out). This first chapter on the history of constitutionalism in Europe contains a lengthy, and useful, discussion of secularization and the separation of the Church and state.

The development of constitutions in Islamic nations is the subject of the next chapter. The author shows that each time a constitution was implemented in an Islamic nation, it was either imposed by an outside force, or imposed as a sort of reformation onto the nation from a small group within with nation. There is no instance of a constitutional movement arising “natively,” as with the European nations. Why is this?

The fourth chapter undertakes to answer this question by examining theology in Islam. The author relies on a wide swath of Islamic thinkers and scholars in this investigation. These are not what most modern political thinkers might consider “moderate” Islamic thinkers, but the author makes the case that these are the thinkers who most influence the modern Ilsamic world, and hence should be the ones we listen to when considering the topic at hand. This chapter shows the answer to the question left hanging at the end of the last chapter — why doesn’t Islam have a history of creating constitutions and constitutional movements — is anchored in Islamic theology.

Islamic theology, the author argues, devalues reason in the face of revelation. While Christianity, through it’s struggle with Greek philosophy and Jewish Rabbinical thought, had to come to grips with some merger of reason and revelation, Islamic theology has never truly integrated these two realms of thought.

Skepticism about the power of reason and a negative attitude toward philosophical projects ended the efforts of the mu‘tazila and led to serious reactions toward the thought of Rāzi and Ibn Roshd. An intellectual investigation of the background of faith no longer seemed needed; faith alone would suffice. -Kindle locations 1991-1994

Al-Ash‘ari, the critic of reason, concluded that he saw no desirable way of divine learning in the kalam— only a field of intellectual exercise to be used in an emergency. The believer should stay away from that as far as possible and not strive for intellectual comprehension. -Kindle locations 2015-2018

In Christianity and Judaism, for instance, God as Creator calls on Adam to name the animals. In this act, God calls on humans to interact with His creation through reason, providing a path to the secularization of reason outside the immediately religious sphere. Islam has no such separation.

In chapter five, the relationship between modern political though and Islamic theology is traced. This chapter, synthesizing the background of constitutionality and theology, drives hom the point that constitutionalism in a Western (perhaps Christian) sense is not possible within the framework of Islamic thought. A specific example is considered in the original thread of the book, religious freedom. Can religious freedom truly exist within an Islamic nation? The author argues that while other religions can be tolerated under Islam, the basic Stoic view that men are to be treated equally simply because they are men is missing within Islam. As such, religious freedom in the sense implied by Western constitutionalism simply cannot exist.

The author concludes this work by examining selected Uluma in the context of political modernity, and a final conclusion chapter bringing all the various threads together.

Overall, this is a well argued and documented work around modern forms of law and Islam. The author does make some interesting leaps at the very beginning, leaps that are hard to support from within the context of history and the original writings of those who developed Christian political thought and constitutionalism itself. These have little effect on the overall flow of the argument, in the end, however.

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Be nice… http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/be-nice/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/be-nice/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 13:53:49 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25342 The post Be nice… appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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When marriage becomes me http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/marriage-becomes-me/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/marriage-becomes-me/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:52:00 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25340 The homosexual marriage decision this last week wasn’t inevitable because of the “long march of rights” throughout our culture, but rather because of the long march of me. Reading the long, meandering, emotional majority “decision” (if it can be called such), yout can’t help but to be struck at how often the theme of loneliness ...

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The homosexual marriage decision this last week wasn’t inevitable because of the “long march of rights” throughout our culture, but rather because of the long march of me. Reading the long, meandering, emotional majority “decision” (if it can be called such), yout can’t help but to be struck at how often the theme of loneliness and self-fulfillment rise to the surface. Very little is discussed in terms of the social impact of marriage, the impact on children, the history of the institution, or even what interest the state might have in “love.” Instead, there are high flying passages on the importance of happiness, and how people deserve marriage to prevent their loneliness — how terrible it is for someone to cry out in the night and not have anyone to answer.

In other words, marriage is, like everything else in our world, all about me. Examples abound. For instance, HuffPost has just started a new section called Divorce, which is, as you might imagine, primarily focused on positive stories about people getting divorced. One such story

You want to know what the most eye opening experience was for me? It was when I had to write my Match.com profile, and I realized how completely uninteresting I had become. I no longer had hobbies. I had no interests, and I had to default to saying I like exercising and traveling the world. (You know because everyone suddenly loves those things when you’re dating.) My divorce made me dig deep, and really discover who I was, and what made me tick. It taught me to understand what made me happy, and what I should pursue for the rest of my life. Granted, that didn’t all happen overnight, but it was my divorce that set me on that journey.

Hold the presses! The Supreme Court forgot to mention that marriage doesn’t always solve loneliness. Being married doesn’t guarantee happiness in the modern sense. Marriage isn’t knowing there will be someone to answer when you “call out in the middle of the night.” Here we have an actual, living, example of someone who’s marriage didn’t end loneliness, didn’t enable and empower them, didn’t satisfy their longing for human companionship. How can this be?

Because when you take two sinners and put them in the same house, and tell them the entire arrangement is about self fulfillment, you’re going to end up with a train wreck every time.

You see, the only way there’s ever going to be someone there for you when you cry out in loneliness in the middle of the night is if you’re the person who answers when someone else raises that same cry. The only way there’s ever going to be someone who encourages your inner desires is if you’re the person who encourages the inner desires of someone else. The only way you’re ever going to have someone to care about you is if you care for someone else.

The modern view of marriage is, though, that it’s an institution where someone else pledges their life, their fortune, their caring, their love, their sex, to my pleasure, to my future — to me. My life is supposed to be a party, and I’m supposed to get married so I have someone else to clean the mess up.

Homosexual marriage — and the destruction of businesses and people who oppose it — is and was inevitable because marriage has become focused on affirming us each individually in everything we do. And if someone won’t affirm my choice, my “happiness,” my party, my “love,” then they must be destroyed.

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No Chocolate http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/no-chocolate-2/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/no-chocolate-2/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:50:40 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25337 The post No Chocolate appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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Promethean Man http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/promethean-man/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/promethean-man/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 13:22:56 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25330 The post Promethean Man appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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Rebel Flag http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/rebel-flag/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/rebel-flag/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:51:03 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25320 The post Rebel Flag appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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People Don’t Land on Their Feet http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/people-dont-land-on-their-feet/ http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/people-dont-land-on-their-feet/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:50:11 +0000 http://www.thinkinginchrist.com/?p=25317 The post People Don’t Land on Their Feet appeared first on Thinking in Christ.

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