Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Calvinism vs. Islam

Bowe Bergdahl was home-schooled and raised as a very strict Calvinist. It should not surprise us that a Calvinist has become a Moslem. The two religions have much in common.
Both have a constricted view of the nature of God, a view that limits human responsibility. Calvinism is characterized by a belief that, before all time, God decided who was saved and who was damned. Whatever good we do cannot save us if we have been damned. No matter how much we pray to God for our salvation, no matter how much others pray for our salvation, no matter how much the saints intercede for us, our predestined end cannot change.
The analogous belief in Islam is that everything is Allah’s will. No matter how careful we are, if Allah intends for us to be killed in an automobile accident, it will happen. If we drive 100 miles per hour drunk on the wrong side of a highway, and Allah does not intend for us to be killed, we will not be.
Calvinism and Islam are characterized by unjust and harsh laws. John Calvin had a baby’s hand cut off when the baby hit his father. Women are killed in Moslem countries for things beyond their control.
Both Islam and Calvinism practice an extreme form of textual literalism in understanding scripture. Scripture acquires a position as a first principle in both religions rather than as a part of Revelation. Neither asks how God has revealed scripture; both simply believe in scripture as if its divine origin were obvious.
Finally, both Islam and Calvinism produce self-righteousness and intolerance. Both were born in pride. Christianity encourages humility. We are tolerant of those who are obviously in error, and we recognize the limits of our ability to correct them by reason. We know, however, that God may give them the gift of seeing the truth; and we pray for this gift humbly.
Let us pray for Bowe Bergdahl and his father, and, of course, for the victims of their perfidy.

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