Posted by: stpowen | July 21, 2015

The Caliphate and the Kingdom of God

John 18:36. ‘Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight.”‘

A week or two ago (7th July), the nation was remembering the terrible bombings in London ten years ago.  People of many races and religions died that day.  Did it change anything?  Did it advance the Moslem cause in any way?  Not that I can see.  One might have supposed that British Moslems would have been so shocked and disgusted that Islamic terrorism would swiftly have died away, as, for example, support for the Angry Brigade and the Baader Meinhof Group disappeared after their outrages thirty years or so ago.

There is no doubt that very many Moslems are appalled by what has been done in the name of Islam, but clearly not everyone. Readers will recall the Moslem family of twelve- the Mannans- including a grandfather of 75 and some very young children, who disappeared on their way back from Bangladesh a month or so ago.  It later transpired that they had travelled to join I.S. in Syria.  The propaganda wing of I.S. issued a statement from the Mannan family – which appears to be an attempt to lure more families into the war zone – claiming they are in a land ‘that is free from the corruption and oppression of man-made law and is governed by the shariah’.

It adds: ‘Yes, all 12 of us and why should this number be shocking, when there are thousands and thousands of Muslims from all corners of the world that are crossing over land and sea everyday to come to the Islamic State?  That are willingly leaving the so called freedom and democracy that was forced down our throat in the attempt to brainwash Muslims to forget about their powerful and glorious past and now present.’

At the same time, Britain is faced with the unpalatable fact that radical Islam is recruiting not only Moslems but also white British people.  We heard recently of Thomas Evans, a 24 year-old white man being killed in Somalia fighting for Al-Shabaab.  A week or so ago there was an article in the Daily Telegraph about Moslem converts.  A young white British man was noticed reading the Qur’an in a library.  “Well,” he replied (I quote from memory), “It’s better to be doing this than shooting up drugs in the park.  And I’d sooner marry a girl who doesn’t show off her belly-button to all and sundry and who isn’t off her face (ie. drunk) every Friday night.”

As a Christian, the question I would want to ask is why that young man isn’t reading the Bible rather than the Qur’an, and why Thomas Evans wasn’t working for a Christian outreach, helping the poor and peacefully spreading the Gospel rather than slaughtering innocent people in the name of Allah?  What is the attraction to educated people in a modern society of a religion that promotes indiscriminate mass-murder in order to achieve its end and then sustains itself in power by killing anyone who disagrees with it?  Who in his right mind would move his elderly parents and young children to such a place?

First of all we need to realise that all things Christian are despised, not only by most of the Moslem population, but also by many spiritually-minded British people. They see that there is scarcely a single Christian doctrine that some cleric or Bishop is not prepared to deny publicly, and that such people are not rebuked by the leadership.  Why would anybody take the Church seriously when its leaders don’t believe their own Holy Book?

To add to the woes of Christians, the new breed of militant atheists is gleefully tarring all religious people with the same brush, claiming, or at least inferring, that evangelical Christians are just as dangerous as fundamentalist Moslems.  All in all, from a human perspective, it’s not looking good for the Christian Church in these days.

So what do we do about all this?  Well, the most important thing that the Church can do at this time is to pray.  I have previously posted about the Concert of Prayer and my church was taking part in this initiative with churches all around the country last Saturday.  Bible-believing churches have a duty as well as a privilege to join with each other regularly in prayer to God for revival.  The second matter is separation from gross error and false teaching.  ‘For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?………Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord”‘ (2 Cor. 6:14, 17).  We cannot expect God’s blessing while we are compromised with false churches, and we cannot expect those outside the Church to distinguish between true and false churches if we ourselves are not making that distinction clear.  It is no good for Bible-believing churches to be standing against sin and immorality and calling for repentance if at the same time they are in communion with churches and church leaders who either wink at or actually practise those very sins.  ‘For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?’ (1 Cor.14:8).

However, we also need to be clear in our minds on some of the primary differences between Islam and Christianity and particularly between the Moslem ‘caliphate’ and the Christian concept of the Kingdom of God.  Islam was founded and spread by violence and conquest.  Mohammed himself led his troops into battle and the Qur’an is replete with warlike injunctions to the faithful.  Mohammed’s four immediate successors are called the ‘rightly-guided caliphs’ and their age (632-661 AD) is regarded by Moslems as a golden age, although three of them were assassinated and their reigns were distinguished by violence, aggressive war and conquest.  It is this caliphate that I.S. seeks to emulate  According to its understanding, the Dar-al-Islam, the ‘House of Islam’ must always be expanding.  The rest of the world is the Dar-al-Harb, the ‘House of Conflict.’  The Qur’anic verse 9:23 forbids Moslems from taking unbelievers as their protectors. Many Islamic scholars take that verse to mean that Moslems should never accept the rule or authority of non-Moslems.  ‘Hence they are required to overthrow the non-Islamic governments wherever they are able to and wherever they reside to establish Islamic governments.  Until then, that country is considered to be Dar-al-Harb (House of War).  When the governance of that country is turned over to the Moslems, that country becomes Dar-al-Islam and Sharia becomes the law of the land.  This does not mean that everyone will be forced to convert to Islam.  It means that everyone becomes subject to Sharia and those who are not believers will be classified as dhimmis, who will have to pay Jizyah and support the Ummah [the worldwide body of Moslems] financially’ {1}.

It should be noted that the option to pay the Jizya, or poll-tax on non-Moslems, was an option in early Islam only for Christians or Jews.  Hindus and people of other faiths conquered by the Moslem armies were given the stark choice of conversion or death.

So the Caliphate, in the eyes of many Sunni Moslems, is the rule of a supreme Islamic leader who will impose strict sharia law and whose empire is to be spread by force over the entire world. Such a caliphate should be the consummation of all that Moslems hope for, and it has now been proclaimed in Syria and Iraq.  Many Moslems in the West therefore long to be part of it and the younger men (and some women) among them feel themselves obliged to take part in the struggle.

In contrast to Islam, Christianity was spread initially in great weakness by peaceful means.  It infiltrated the Roman world without wars or violence until it had spread throughout and the Emperor Constantine thought it politic to recognize it in around 312 AD.  ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until it was all leavened’ (Matt. 13:33).  We can see the same thing happening in China today.  The Gospel is being spread by word of mouth all over the country and the authorities are powerless to stop it.  It is a sad fact that in later years certain rulers professing Christianity attempted to spread it by force, and Roman Catholicism was imposed with great violence on the peoples of Central and South America.  But it was not so in the beginning, and throughout the centuries, the greatest and most lasting successes have been achieved by men like William Carey and James Hudson Taylor, not by force, but persuasion and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven) was proclaimed by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  “The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).  The new age was breaking in upon the old, and it has been growing ever since.  But it is not a physical kingdom but a spiritual one.  “The kingdom of God does  not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you”  (Luke 17:20-21).  The kingdom enters the believer’s heart through the New Birth (John 3:3, 5) in the person of the Holy Spirit, and he is no  longer what he was (2 Cor. 5:17).  His sins are washed away by the blood of Christ shed upon the cross, and he has a new desire to obey the righteous commands of Christ.  The Kingdom will reach its fulfilment when the Lord Jesus returns at the end of time and sets up the New Heavens and New Earth where righteousness reigns (2 Peter 3:13).

But the Christian, although he is now a citizen of heaven, must still obey and be subject to the laws of the land in which he is living.  The Bible is very insistent on this point.  “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).  ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities’ (Rom. 13:1). ‘Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors….’ (1 Peter 2:13-14).  Christians are not to rebel or to plot against the government under which they live.  Today we have civil rights that those in Biblical times did not, and it is right for us to use them, but Christians are not to break the law.  If they are required to do something that goes against God’s holy laws then they should refuse politely and take the consequences.

There is only one instance where a Christian may break the law and that involves the preaching of the Gospel and the distribution of God’s word.  The Apostles were instructed by the Jewish authorities, ‘…..not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak of the things we have seen and heard”‘ (Acts 4:18-20).  There may come a time when it becomes illegal to preach in the open air or to preach against certain sins, or even to distribute the Bible.  If these things come to pass we must follow the example of the Apostles (cf. Acts 5:27-32) and of men like William Tyndale, and be prepared to take whatever punishment comes our way (Acts 5:40-42).

So to sum up:  the caliphate is a physical kingdom which is to be extended by force throughout the world and the laws proclaimed by Mohammed to be imposed upon the world.  The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom set up by the Lord Jesus Christ in which He rules from heaven (Psalm 110:1) in the hearts of His followers.  Until He returns, His people are to be model citizens of the land in which they live and to be witnesses to Him by persuasion and example.


{1} Ali Sina: Can Islam be reformed?


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