Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Plea for Unity Among Brethren

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:13-15, LEB)   
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh together with its feelings and its desires. If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26, LEB)
Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires which wage war against your soul, maintaining your good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in the things in which they slander you as evildoers, by seeing your good deeds they may glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11-12, LEB)
I do not know what stirrings of Satan have come about among Christian brethren recently that we have become ever more contentious and uncharitable towards one another. It is as though the increasing polarization of our society along extreme ends of the political spectrum has taken hold of the Church of Christ, and we now feel the need to regard any brother or sister who holds even a minor difference of opinion on matters of pastoral and missional practice as having made shipwreck of the faith.

In particular, I am concerned about the disputes that are currently raging between Christian apologists over Dr. James White's decision to have a two-part dialogue with Sh. Yasir Qadhi, the first part of which was in a church, and the second part in a mosque. The complaint of the critics, as far as I have been able to understand it, is that Yasir Qadhi has been allowed a platform in a church where he could make false statements without being challenged on them, thereby exposing the people in the church to falsehoods. Because of this, Dr. White should be held responsible for leading people astray from the faith. Furthermore, there is a concern that Sh. Qadhi may be willfully deceiving the people listening because of the Islamic concept of Taqiyyah (dissimulation).

Now, I can sympathize with the complaint somewhat. Having listened to both parts of the dialogue, there were definitely things that Sh. Qadhi said that I definitely did not agree with, and part of me wishes that there was a voice there that would rebut the statements he made. Perhaps in a future article or podcast, somebody could provide an examination of the statements that made by Sh. Qadhi. I also understand that there are scriptural principles that go against the idea of giving an infidel or a heretic a platform in the house of God (2 John 7-11), and that according to critics of the dialogue, that scriptural principle has been violated. Of course, we can get to specifics about whether a church building can ever be used for inter-religious dialogue purposes, but as a general rule, I agree with the principle that the house of God should not be a platform for propagating false religion.

At the same time, however, I think that it was made clear by both sides from the outset that this would be a dialogue, not a debate. The goal of the discussions was not to determine who could make a better case for their faith (there are other venues for that), but to have an understanding of what both sides think so that they wouldn't be talking past each other. That being the case, I don't know why anyone would object to the idea that we should understand each other better before we dialogue. After all, we don't want to have a false understanding of what the other person thinks, but want to approach them where they are. That is the Apostolic way of approaching people--speak to them according to their culture and their worldview, and be all things to all people.

Now, did Sh. Qadhi say things that are contrary to a Christian worldview? Well... yeah, obviously. He is presenting an Islamic perspective, which is the point. I don't think anyone in the audience listening to the dialogues thought that Dr. White (or any other Christian there) was agreeing with him on what he said. I also want to remind everyone that the Dr. White did the same thing at the mosque--he presented the Christian worldview in front of an audience that rejects that worldview, and doubtless would like to hear an Islamic rebuttal to his claims (Whether Sh. Qadhi has gotten any flack from Muslims over this or not, I don't know). The point is, both sides did the exact same thing: They presented their worldview in front of an audience that does not accept that worldview. For my Christian brethren, I would like to remind you that what that means is Dr. White presented the Gospel to the Muslims in their own mosque. Should we not rejoice that he was given that platform? Or do you think that he misrepresented the Gospel during those two dialogues? If the latter, then the burden of proof is on you. But if not, then let us rejoice at what God has done.

And I would like to bring up the topic of Taqiyyah briefly, because I know that that is always on everyone's minds whenever a Muslim preacher or apologist is speaking. I am not unaware that the doctrine of Taqiyyah exists. Was Sh. Qadhi practicing it, or was he not? I'm not going to rule it out, but at the same time, I'd like to remind everyone that we who believe in the principles of justice and fairness adhere to the idea of the presumption of innocence. In other words, you cannot accuse someone of being a liar or deceiver if you don't have any evidence to prove it. If you think that Sh. Qadhi was deliberately misrepresenting what he really thinks, then present your evidence. Having listened to Sh. Qadhi many times, not just in these dialogues but also in his lectures and khutbahs, I have no reason to believe that he is the kind of person who would go around intentionally deceiving people. Maybe he is, but we cannot prove it. God alone knows what is really going on in his heart, and he alone will hold him to account for them.

Having said all of that, the main thing that I really want to make a plea for, as I watch the accusations and the condemnations flying forth, is that we cease the hostilities, come to the negotiating table as fellow brethren, and come to some acceptable terms by which we may restore our brotherhood of love and friendship. I would like to remind you all that you represent One Lord, One Faith, and one Baptism (Ephesians 4:5), and that we are exhorted to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Perhaps in your mind, you think you are acting in love. If so, let us look at the definition of love given in scripture and make certain that our love fits that definition:
Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not boast, it does not become conceited, it does not behave dishonorably, it is not selfish, it does not become angry, it does not keep a record of wrongs, it does not rejoice at unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, LEB).
Also, for those involved in this conflict who are ministers or teachers of the Gospel, bear in mind that scripture also says that those who teach will receive a greater judgment (James 3:1). Why will teachers receive a greater judgment? It is because eternal souls along the line. God only knows how many of the little children in the faith are being caused to stumble because of this scandalous rivalry. Remember what Jesus said: "whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him that a large millstone be hung on his neck and he be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6).

Finally, remember that the world is watching what is happening among us. Already, there are enemies of the Gospel who are  delighting in the discord that is currently taking place, and using that to discredit the message that we are tasked to proclaim. If you care at all about spreading the Gospel to the Muslim world, then you would cease hostilities against one another. The cause of Christ and his Kingdom are not aided by this internal rivalry. Instead, we should be helping one another and encouraging one another, and presenting a united front against Islam.

I know that we apologists have a tendency to want to refute whatever we see and hear that we find disagreeable, and no doubt some of you reading this will want to refute some of the things I just said. You are free to go ahead and do that if you'd like, but I just want to say that if you do that, you are missing the point. I'm not trying to prove myself right over against anyone else. Instead, I am arranging the chairs around the negotiating table, opening the door to the negotiating room, and inviting you all to come in and take a seat. Rather than try to prove yourselves right, I hope that we could all come and sit around the table and work things out. That is the mature and responsible way, and more importantly, that is the Christian way.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lashawan Qadash?

One of the interesting things to have come out recently in the apologetics scene are a series of podcasts and debates on the Hebrew Israelite movement. If you've missed it, you may want to check it out here. Even though I encountered adherents of this movement early on in my Christian life (they have quite the presence on the internet), I never saw them as a topic of serious apologetic discussion until recently. They may not be as numerous as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or Oneness Pentecostals, but they're getting on in numbers, especially in large urban centres such as here in Toronto. I've often seen them hanging around Dundas Square, and it is frustrating to try to dialogue with them as they tend to shut down everyone who tries to reason with them.

That said, I'd like to look at one particular claim that this group makes, and that is their claim to have the pure Hebrew language, which they distinguish from the "Yiddish" that gets passed off as Biblical Hebrew everywhere else. They call this Lashawan Qadash, which is based on the Hebrew for "holy tongue" (לשון קדש; lishōn qodesh) and is supposed to represent Hebrew the way the Hebrews (ie. their ancestors, according to their worldview) pronounced it. They seem to have a preference for the Palaeo-Hebrew script (though they occasionally use the standard block script used today as well). But this isn't the main idiosyncrasy of this form of Hebrew. Its main idiosyncrasy is its pronunciation: Proponents of Lashawan Qadash claim that the only vowel sound that exists in Hebrew is the "a" sound, with the exception of the letter 'ayin (ע), which makes the "i" sound. All other vowels were added to Hebrew later by the Masoretes (6th-10th centuries), who were Ashkenazi Jews (who are not really descended from the Hebrews, according to them).

This video basically explains how Hebrew Israelites view this language. Note that just as there are different subgroups in the Hebrew Israelite movement, there are also variations in their pronunciations. Nevertheless, some common feature are discernible.

Having done my undergraduate studies in Near and Middle Eastern studies (which includes learning not just Hebrew, but other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Arabic as well), I find these claims to be quite odd, and just a bit jarring. There are so many questionable things about this claimed "pure Hebrew" tongue. For one, they reject the classical names of each Hebrew letter ("Aleph" for א, "Bet" for ב, etc.). According to them, these names are "Yiddish" inventions. But they're not. In fact, the names of these letters pre-date Hebrew. These are the names of the letters as they were originally used in the Phoenician language. Each letter name represents an object that the letter signifies ("ox" for "Aleph," "house" for "Bet," etc.). To reject these names is to divorce each letter from the object which each character originally signified.

Also, Lashawan Qadash ignores Hebrew's relationship with other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Arabic. If we follow their pronunciation conventions, for example, the word for  "house" (בית) would not be "bayit," as most Hebrew speakers would say it, but "bayat." But this goes against the usage of the word in every other Semitic language. The Aramaic word would also be "bayit," and the Arabic word for the same is "bayt" (بيت). In fact, one wonders what Hebrew Israelites do with the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament in Daniel and Ezra. Their pronunciation system would not work with Aramaic, which was spoken much more widely than Hebrew throughout the Near East (Unless one posits that all  of Mesopotamia, including native Aramaic speakers living in today, have it all wrong. Now that'd be one grand conspiracy theory!). We know how Aramaic is pronounced because the Greek New Testament contains Aramaic words and phrases transliterated into Greek. Here are some examples:

Greek Text
English Translation
Matthew 27:47
Ἠλὶ ἠλὶ λεμὰ σαβαχθάνι
אלי אלי למה סבקתני
Ēli, Ēli, lama sabachthani
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Mark 5:41
Ταλιθα κουμ
תלתא קומי
Talitha qūmi
Little girl, arise!
John 20:16
1 Corinthians 16:22
Μαράνα θά
מרנא תא
Marana tha
Our Lord, come!

There is no room for vocalizing these Aramaic phrases differently than how they are vocalised in the Greek New Testament. What is also clear from this is that the "e" and "u" vowels are used, which is contrary to what proponents of Lashawan Qadash say.
But perhaps it will be argued that what applies to Aramaic doesn't apply to Hebrew. The falsity of this claim is made clear once we factor in the Septuagint (LXX), a Greek Translation of the Old Testament produced by Hellenistic Jews living in Egypt in the 3rd century B.C., and is cited by the authors of the New Testament. In the LXX, there are many Hebrew words that are transliterated into Greek text. This will give us an idea of how the Jews in the 3rd century B.C. pronounced these words. Here are some representative nouns:

Hebrew Name
Transliteration from Hebrew
Greek  (LXX)
Transliteration from Greek
First Appearance
Genesis 1:26
Genesis 5:29
Genesis 12:8
Genesis 17:5
Genesis 17:19
Genesis 25:25
Genesis 25:26
Genesis 32:28
בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם
Bēyt Lechem
Genesis 35:19
Exodus 2:10
Joshua 1:1
Joshua 10:1
Ruth 4:17
2 Samuel 5:7
2 Kings 14:25
2 Kings 19:2

Note that some names are transliterated more precisely than others. Nevertheless, the transliterations are fairly consistent, and even the loosest Greek transliterations stay fairly close to the Hebrew originals. Now, the Hebrew Israelites are to be believed, the vowel system used for Biblical Hebrew was invented by the Masoretes and could not have existed prior to the 6th century. Yet the evidence from the LXX shows that the pronunciation system can be traced back to at least the 3rd century B.C. This refutes the idea that it is a later invention.

Finally, the question must be asked: If Lashawan Qadash represents pure Hebrew, why is there no evidence for its existence prior to the 20th century? Why is it that all throughout the world, the same Hebrew pronunciation is used by all kinds of disparate groups, many of which couldn't have been influenced by the Ashkhenazim? For example, we have the Falasha Jews from Ethiopia. In their prayer services, they use exactly the same pronunciation system that all other Jewish groups use (see this video for an example). Bear in mind that for hundreds of years, these Ethiopian Jews had no contact with the rest of the Jewish world, which rules out their use of Hebrew being influenced by European Jewry. The fact that the Hebrew that is preserved among them matches that used everywhere else is proof that this is the true Hebrew language, not Lashawan Qadash.

There are many other problems that underlie the Hebrew Israelite movement, such as their hermeneutically questionable interpretation of texts involving Israelites and Gentiles, as well as their claim that black Africans are the true Hebrews, against all genetic and geographic evidence to the contrary. Those are beyond the scope of this article, however. For information on those topics, I recommend the video playlist I linked to at the beginning of this article. Hopefully, this article sheds light on the Hebrew language's history and usage, and why the standard Hebrew pronunciation is to be preferred over the spurious innovation known as Lashawan Qadash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When Narratives Get in the Way of Facts

 “Never let a good tragedy go to waste.” - Rahm Emmanuel
By now, everyone has heard of the Orlando attack, where Omar Mateen murdered 49 people in a gay nightclub before he himself was killed. The aftermath of this terror attack has been something of an interesting Rorschach Test, where everybody who has some kind of strong opinion on a given social/political issue has projected their own concerns onto the incident, and are using it to call for the implementation of this or that social agenda or to demonize this or that social group. Witness the flurry of articles, social media posts and debates that focus in on (depending on one’s concerns) the state of LGBT rights in North America, the importance of gun control/gun rights in preventing further deaths, and/or the role of Islamic radicalism in terror attacks against the West.
What has been disappointing—though not the least bit surprising—about the recent events has been the willingness of many of those commenting on them to completely ignore the facts about what actually happened in order to further a specific narrative about society. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than among the various internet-based “social justice warriors” that pounce upon this tragedy. Before anyone even knew exactly why the shooter did what he did, they were already blaming the attacks on perceived bigotry and homophobia that is being spread by conservative Christians. This is exemplified by one particular Facebook post that has been making its rounds throughout social media, which states:
You weren't the gunman, but you didn't want to see gay people kissing in public. You weren't the gunman, but you don't like gay characters on TV. You weren't the gunman, but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.
You weren't the gunman, but you were upset when gay people gained the right to marry. You weren't the gunman, but you use slurs for gay people. You weren't the gunman, but you would vote against legal protections for gay people.
You weren't the gunman, but you're the culture that built him. You're the bullets in his gun.
The problem with this statement is the fact that at no point does it at all touch base with reality. There are many facts that militate against this interpretation of the event, of which I will name the two most important ones:
Fact #1: Omar Mateen was neither a Christian nor a conservative. The shooter was a Muslim man of Afghan descent. Furthermore, he was not even a particularly religious Muslim. Various investigations into his life indicate that he himself was gay, and had frequented the very nightclub he shot up in the past. But then, he made a 180 degree turn and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State just shortly before the shooting. How does one reconcile these two apparently contradictory sets of facts with one another? There are many theories that one could posit. Perhaps he didn’t really mean his last minute pledge of allegiance and did it out of spite against those who’ve rejected him. Or perhaps he was sincere, and we have a case of what some social commentators have dubbed “Sudden Jihad Sydrome.” Either way, it is not at all clear that Christian opposition of homosexuality had anything to do with his motives.
Fact #2: The response of the Christian community has been overwhelmingly one of compassion. Sure, one can always point to a Steven Anderson as an example of how some radical Christians are praising the shooter. But why point to the exceptions rather than the rule? Why not mention the fact that Chik-Fil-A opened on a Sunday for the first time in its history to make chicken sandwiches to donate to blood donors helping the victims? How about mentioning Russell Moore’s plea for mutual understanding and sharing of grief between the Christian and LGBT communities? This is the critical element that is missing in the “Social Justice” narrative: The actual words and actions of the very Christians they seek to lay the blame on for this terror attack.
It can be extremely frustrating for Christians to be blamed for what happened in the face of all the facts. But then again, we live in a society where Cultural Marxism (as opposed to Biblical Christianity) determines how to properly interpret all facts and events. As Dr. Scott Masson has pointed out in his lecture “Repressive Tolerance and Cultural Marxism,” this ideology sees Christianity as the root of all social injustice in the world, and must therefore be stigmatised and marginalized in the name of “tolerance.” Its main dogma—its theory of “privileged classes”—artificially sorts everyone into various gradations of either privilege or oppression/victimhood. Warren J. Blumenfeld (one of the promoters of this ideology in academia), has written about how various religious groups can be classified under hierarchies of privilege. Protestants are more privileged than Catholics, and both are more privileged than non-Christian groups such as Jews, Muslims, and people of no religion. Furthermore, since race also factors into this theory of privilege, predominantly white Protestant denominations are more privileged than predominantly non-white denominations.[1] And of course, in recent years, sexual orientation has figured prominently in this theory of privilege, with heterosexuals being vastly more privileged than LGBT people of all stripes.
Because all facts are filtered through this filter of “privilege,” narratives must always be structured in a way that those with the most privilege are the chief oppressors. Thus, even though both Christianity and Islam declare homosexuality to be a sin, Cultural Marxists will almost always focus on Christian homophobia to the exclusion of Muslim homophobia (the exceptions to this rule are usually liberal Muslims or ex-Muslims, who are generally more attuned to the problems occurring within Muslim societies). The aftermath of the Orlando attack is perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this cognitive dissonance to date. Here, social justice warriors operating according to the rubric of “privileged/oppressed classes” take what is, according to all facts and evidence, an act of Islamic homophobia, and attributing it to Christians!
This brings us back to one of the most important insights of the late Reformed Christian philosopher Cornelius Van Til. Van Til pointed out that despite our pretensions to the contrary, none of us ever approaches facts and evidence with an unbiased mind. In other words, neutrality is a myth. All of us operate according to a worldview, which we use to arrange the evidence into one coherent narrative. The problem with this is that only one worldview can be universally true (and we who are Christians do believe that this one true universal worldview is the Biblical one), and every other worldview must of necessity ignore certain facts about reality or twist them beyond any reasonable interpretation of them. Cultural Marxism is one such worldview, and the Orlando terror attack proves that this worldview is incapable of explaining reality as it really is. Saint Paul said it best about such false worldviews when he said, “claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22, ESV).
Having said this, I would like to briefly touch upon the question of what the proper Christian response to the Orlando massacre should be. Perhaps the best response to date has been that of Michael L. Brown, entitled “A Christian Message to LGBT Americans in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting.” I encourage everyone to read this article and mirror its words to everyone they know who is LGBT or an “ally” of that movement. I will conclude with his words:
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). He said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). And he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
But he also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
It is Jesus that you need.

[1] Warren J. Blumenfield, “Christian Privilege and the Promotion of ‘Secular’ and not-so ‘Secular’ Mainline Christianity in Public Schooling and in the Larger Society," Equity and Excellence in Education 39 (3): 195–210.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Open Letter to Dr. White (Regarding Theonomy)

Dear Dr. James R. White,

Let me begin by saying that of all the great teachers and theologians in the Reformed world alive today, I owe the greatest debt to you. Most of what I learned on matters pertaining to theology and apologetics over the past six years came from listening to your debates and Dividing Line podcast, as well as reading several of your books (The Forgotten Trinity remains my all-time favourite, as it has helped me in numerous encounters with Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals). I continue to hold you up to my colleagues as the best Christian apologist today against Islam.

That being said, I have over the course of my studies in ethics and social theory in the past two years gravitated towards the Theonomic position. Van Til's maxim of "Theonomy or Autonomy" is one that I take very seriously, as I find that if I were to be truly Presuppositional in my approach to law and ethics, I am forced to say that the scriptures (both Old and New Testament) are the only sure foundation that we can have in questions relating to those issues. On the specific issue of Old Testament judicial law, I find that there is immeasurable wisdom in those laws that we cannot afford to dispense with, and the Church today would be much poorer in its witness to the world if it did not draw from those resources to give coherent answers to the socio-political and economic problems plaguing the world today.

Yes, there is to some extent some cultural baggage contain in the Old Testament Law. I believe that this is the reason why the Reformed Confessions spoke of "General Equity." It is through that principle of General Equity that we are able to filter out those elements of the judicial laws that are strictly for Ancient Israel only, and extract the principles from them that are relevant to every culture and every age. I find it perplexing that you accuse the Theonomic position of Judaizing, when in fact every Theonomic author that I know of recognizes the necessity of contextualizing the principles of those laws to the social situations that we find ourselves in. My Eastern European Theonomist colleagues do not cease to be Eastern Europeans, neither do my African Theonomist colleagues give up their Africanness by adopting the position that they do. Every culture needs to be redeemed under Christ, but nobody is asserting that they have to be changed into some sort of Neo-Israel in the process. To assert otherwise is to assert a Strawman.

That being said, I must speak on the statements that you have made regarding Shari'a and its alleged similarity to Theonomy. As a student in Middle Eastern Studies, who is in the process of reading the Qur'an in the original Arabic and has written no less than two university-level papers on the subject of Islamic jurisprudence, I think that I can speak with some level of credibility on the topic of Shari'a. I can assure you that I did not learn about Shari'a from Fox News (we don't have that up here in Canada). Perhaps I am not up to your level when it comes to knowledge and acquaintance in the Islamic sources, but by God's grace I am getting there, and hope to be just as effective in that area as you are. Be that as it may, I do find the comparison between Theonomy and Shari'a to be both oversimplistic and inaccurate, as there are many points of divergence between the two:
  1. First of all, while Theonomy is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive (that is a distinction many people fail to make). Recall that there are only 613 laws in Torah, whereas Shari'a has tens of thousands of laws covering all sorts of matters that the Torah does not even begin to touch upon. This is because Biblical Law was never meant to be exhaustive. Biblical law has many areas that are "adiaphora," where we can exercise our Christian liberty, whereas Shari'a regulates every part of your life, right down to how you go to the bathroom or what positions you may have sex with your spouse. I've yet to see a Theonomic treatise on the proper biblical way to clip one's toenails!
  2. Many of the Islamic penalties are much more severe than the Biblical penalties. For example, thieves must pay back what they stole in the Torah, whereas in the Qur'an they get their hands chopped off. The number of crimes one may be put to death for is also significantly smaller in the Torah than it is in Shari'a.
  3. Islamic law barely (if at all) distinguishes between sins and crimes the way Biblical law does. For them, most if not all sins must be prevented or punished by the State somehow. Theonomists recognize the Kuyperian concept of Sphere Sovereignty, which limits the extent to which the State can punish that which is unlawful, and leaves it to the spheres of family and church to handle those laws that lack judicial penalties. You will not find any equivalent to Sphere Sovereignty in Islamic social thought, as they tend to mix and confuse the spheres together.
  4. The economic systems are polar opposites. Biblical economics is based on free enterprise, which you'll get from reading any number of Gary North's writings. Shari'a, on the other hand, is based on heavy regulation and taxation (basically Socialism). Every discussion of Shari'a-compliant economics I have ever come across talks about heavy income taxation, banning of interest, and welfare statism.
  5. The Theonomic movement is very Libertarian in its orientation. Rushdoony wrote in the Roots of Reconstruction that Theonomy is close as one can get to Radical Libertarianism. Shari'a has the opposite tendency: It is Totalitarian, and can only be truly enforced in Statist society where civil government reaches into every area of its citizens' lives.
  6. Finally, Theonomists, being orthodox Calvinists, believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and that only the Holy Spirit can make the heart desire obedience to God's Law. We do not believe in "salvation by law" as a certain Islamic apologist mischaracterizes us as believing. The idea that a perfect law can behavioristically change hearts and minds may be an Islamic notion, but it is not a Christian one, and we repudiate it wholeheartedly.
These are just a few of the differences between the two systems that come readily to mind. Here is another article which explains the differences between the two. Suffice to say, I find the attempt at comparing the two to totally inaccurate,  and can only be sustained if one is not well-acquainted with both Biblical Law and Shari'a.

With that out of the way, I must speak to one other matter that you raised up in your recent Dividing Line, and that is the behaviour of most of those within the Theonomic camp. I do find it funny that the same accusation is being hurled at Theonomic Calvinists by non-Theonomic Calvinists that Arminians routinely hurl against Calvinists of all stripes. Be that as it may, I agree with almost everything you said in your last DL. It is unfortunate that you've had some nasty scrapes with some of the Theonomic stalwarts, given that your high view of the Law makes you an honourary Theonomist in my book (then again, infights in the Theonomic camp are not unheard of!). I have spoken to various young Theonomists that I know (including a certain individual you know who goes to the same church as you), and many of us agree that there is indeed an attitude problem among many Theonomists. This is not something new, as Bahnsen addressed the exact same problem back in the 90s. I'm not entirely sure why a lot of those "Angry Calvinists" find themselves in the Theonomic camp. I do hope and pray that those of us within the Theonomic camp will heed the admonition to "speak the truth in love," and shed this unfortunate tendency (it has become something of a PR problem for us among other Reformed folk). But I do thank you for raising the issue. I also thank you for recognizing that we are all not like that.

That concludes my Apology (a fititng double-entendre) for the Theonomic movement. May God bless you in your ministry work, and may you continue to equip the saints in dealing with the pressing issues that we face today.