Earlier this week, I posted a blog about the arrest of fifty Christians on Christmas Day in Teheran, Iran. Over the years, people have asked me what possible threat is posed to any society, and in particular to dictatorial regimes like Iran’s, from a group of Christians singing hymns in a private home on Christmas. The answer is that the Christian faith poses a grave threat and challenge to the monopoly of unchecked political power innate to all dictatorial and authoritarian regimes. The teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ assert moral principles that despotic governments do not want to hear. The Christian Church affirms the overwhelming truth that a righteous and holy God created human beings in His magnificent beauty and image so that we each have great inherent worth to God. Further, the Church teaches that God loves each of us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we can be re-established in a right relationship with a loving and forgiving God as His children. In the powerful words of the Westminster Catechism, the chief end of man is to “glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” These fundamental teachings of the Church are deeply powerful, and are a grave threat to the political order in any despotic regime. In the American Declaration of Independence, these Judeo-Christian principles manifest themselves in the proclamation that all persons are endowed by their Creator with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In Iran, and all other Islamic nations, such notions deeply offend Islamic sensibilities. The U.S. Constitution was based upon Judeo-Christian principles. Indeed, even the notion of separation of powers, where different branches of government serve as a check upon the other branches, recognizes the sinful nature of man. As Lord Acton astutely and famously observed, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and thus, our political structure requires that there must be restraints on political power for citizens to flourish. The recent events in Governor Christie’s New Jersey, and the scandals and cover-ups in Washington, D.C., where we even saw the closure last October of an open-air World War II memorial during the so-called government shutdown, show clearly that governments readily tend to be petty, corrupt and abusive to their citizens.
Radical Islamists cannot countenance such an ideology of limited and restrained government, or even the structure of shared-power governance intrinsic to the U.S. Constitution, since it is based upon Biblical principles. Islam is an absolutist religion affecting the densest strata of life, and teaches that the Bible has been corrupted, and that is why Mohammed provided a new revelation. However, for Christians, we recall St. Paul’s teaching in Galatians 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.” As a result, Islamic teaching from the Koran and the hadith cannot allow freedom of religion or any other right of self-expression (particularly conversion from Islam to Christianity) when Islamists predominate a society. Non-Moslems in Islam, particularly Jews and Christians, deemed to be “people of the Scripture,” are tolerated, but are granted second-class status of dhimmitude. Thus, Western notions of representative democracy with strong civil right protections for citizens, and Islam, as has been noted by many scholars, cannot co-exist in Islamic states. In fact, every Islamic government in the world today (as well as throughout its long history) has been either dictatorial or autocratic. Nor should we expect that Islamic governments become forms of Jeffersonian representative democracy. And as we have seen in recent history, when elections do take place in Islamic countries, such as Iran and Egypt, they are typically fraught with great corruption, and the will of the nation’s people is thwarted and denied. Further, in an effort to bolster their own political power, the people must submit to the leadership and teachings of the mullahs and other Islamic teachers as taught in the Koran. It is the Iranian mullahs, among other radical Islamic teachers, who advocate for the annihilation of the United States as the Great Satan, and of Israel as the Little Satan, along with other deeply dangerous foolishness.
Finally, when Americans assert that we are “one nation under God,” the God of the Christian is loving, good, and kind. But among the 99 Koranic names of Allah, he is never referred to as the Heavenly Father, or even as loving. As a result, Christians today in Islamic nations, as was the case in the ancient Roman world, are understood to deserve what the Roman historian Tacitus called the odio humani generis, that is, hatred of the human race. Therefore, everything must be done in Islamist authoritarian and despotic states to destroy independent thought and the fundamental freedoms of Christian (and other non-Islamic) believers. And that is why you could enjoy a quiet, peaceful Christmas with your family, and attend church freely to worship our Savior’s birth, but Christians in Iran are arrested for doing the same. However, the redeeming work of salvation and sanctification by the Holy Spirit of God in the lives of people cannot be stopped by any oppressive governmental force, no matter how brutal. Every day in Iran, many people continue to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. For this, we give great praise and worship to our loving Heavenly Father.