Monday, September 25, 2006

Dhimmitude

I recently researched the Islamic concept of dhimmitude. This is a part of Islamic law that defines the subservient position of people in Islamic countries who follow the other religions “of the Book,” that is, Jews and Christians (dhimmis). While Islamophiles hold this up as an example of religious freedom in Moslem countries, it is actually is an enforced servitude for those with the desire to hold onto their own faith.

An integral aspect of dhimmitude is jizya. Jizya is a tax that has to be paid by Christians and Jews in Moslem countries so that they can practice their faith “freely.” It has its origins in the Koran:
Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden - such men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the book - until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled (humiliated). Surah al-Baqara 9:29

I couldn’t help but think of this as analagous to the situation that some orthodox congregations face within the PCUSA. The old denomination is “tolerant” of congregations that wish to hold to orthodox faith, so long as they submit to the greater “truths” of tolerance, diversity, and pluralism. They are kept in the fold as interesting antiquarians, useful for the money that they pass on into the denominational coffers.

The orthodox may believe what they want, just so long as the money keeps flowing and nothing is said or done that might upset the PCUSA system. Once you stand up for the truth and actually do something about it, the facade of toleration rapidly fades.

This is what congregations thinking of speaking out or leaving the PCUSA are about to face. The Islamiterian system is geared to guarantee compliance. If a congregation is out of step with the denomination or, God forbid, actually thinking about leaving, it faces the terminal jizya of forfeiture of church property, bank accounts, endowments, and any personal property kept within the building.

This is a grim reality that keeps most congregations within the “tolerant” fold. Dhimmitude requires reluctant compliance, regular payments and, above all, silence. If you want to know the rules of PCUSA dhiimitude, just read the legal game plan that Louisville has issued for executive and general presbyters. Responding to congregations seeking to withdraw

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

PS I mentioned the idea behind this blog in advance to a friend. He thought that the PCUSA might actually like the comparison, given their fondness for interfaith alliances. ;)

11 comments:

Chris said...

I enjoyed your article, Tom, on the similarities of the PCUSA with its congregations and Islam with their non-Muslim subjects. After reading most of the guidelines of the PCUSA on the issue of congregations considering withdrawal from the denomination (Responding to Congregations Seeking to Withdraw) I would have to say it is an apt comparison.

For any of your readers who would like to know more about life as a non-Muslim living in Muslim lands I highly recommend the book, 'The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude,' by Bat Ye'Or. It is not a "fun" book to read but it is an essential one for Christians in understanding how Islam is played out in the lives of non-Muslims forced to live under its rule. It blows away all the politically correct smoke about Islam being a religion of peace by telling the stories of the tens of millions of people whose lives have been devastated by the followers of Islam from Mohammed’s day to the present.

A comment on 'jizya,' the tax laid on non-Muslims by their Muslim conquerors. It is not a tax in the way we think of taxes, such as property taxes or income tax etc. In function it is essentially an annual ransom the payer makes to preserve his life and the lives of his family members and to be permitted to live where he is as a non-Muslim. If the jizya/tax is not paid the non-Muslim in effect reverts to the status of an enemy combatant living in the land of Islam. Depending on the inclination of the Muslims in power that person's property can be taken, he and his wife and children sold into slavery, or they can lose their lives. The mafia would call it protection money. In Islam the non-Muslim dhimmi is the protected one - from them! The PCUSA may have fallen into the same pattern: Do it our way or lose your rights and property. At least they aren't asking for our lives!

Dan Dermyer said...

Wow!
Boom goes the dynamite on that post. What an interesting comparison.

I wonder how it really plays under the justice banner--both the original practice and then its American twin.

Keep us thinking,
and praying,
grace

Anonymous said...

Tom,

“Right on!”

Ok, I am sure you are going to get some explosive comments on this analogy, but let us hope the blog readers think before they write. I have considered other analogies of what the PCUSA of does; e.g., The Book of Order, but I will refrain in writing them (I am not as bold and appropriate eloquent as you are).

Hang in there. As you know we have a long journey ahead of us, but we overcome the PCUSA obstacle.

Reformed and Reforming said...

Ah. Pastor Tom, what an unChristian thing to imply about your brothers and sisters in Christ who have remained in the PCUSA. You claim to want to leave the PCUSA in peace (with the real property that is held in trust for the Presbytery, of course). But now, you compare you brothers and sisters in Christ who have remained within the PCUSA to Islamic radicals who persecute Christians.

If you will recall, you characterized me as unChristian for my criticizing Rapture theorists and charasmatics and proclaiming their ideas and practices to be contrary to the Reformation. You also refused to criticize these very unReformed ideas and practices or to pledge to keep them out of your ostensibly Reformed and Presbyterian church.

So let's see if I have your message down: Rapture nuts and TV faith healers are welcome at Kirk of the Hills, but we need to keepout any of those millions of PCUSA members because they act like Islamic persecutors of Christianity.

Beautiful. Just Beautiful.

TomGray said...

Dear "reformed,"
I am not implying anything about those who stay except the hard situation that they are in because of the PCUSA. Please read more carefully.
Tom

Reformed and Reforming said...

Pastor Tom:

Here's what your analysis is missing: the vast majority of congregations and congregants in the PCUSA don't think they are in a hard situation. They are remaining in the PCUSA because they are the PCUSA. They are overwhelmingly Reformed in their theology and Presbyterian in their polity. They are thousands of congregations and millions of congregants. When you compare the PCUSA to Islamist persecutors, you are comparing them to Islamist persecutors.

Again, it is clear from this blog that you are no longer particularly Reformed in your theology nor Presbyterian in your polity. You yourself have proclaimed the Kirk of the Hills to be an Independent Congregationalist church. You have unilaterally disassociated yourself with your Presbytery knowing full well that you hold the deed to the real property in trust for the Presbytery.

Further, you state that the Kirk wishes to join a very small, very new nominally Presbyterian denomination that appears to embrace many theories and practices (Rapture, charasmatic worship) that are not Reformed and in some cases have no basis in scripture.

My question, again, why the pretense about remaining "Presbyterian?" Why not just lead your entire congregation out the door and down to street the nearest Assembly of God or the nearest pop-psychology mega-church?

Dan Dermyer said...

The claim to reformed theology throughout the PCUSA is pretty amazing.

Where is the love and acceptance of the Scriptures as God's revealed truth that we followers of Jesus tremble at?

Where is the proclamation of the sufficiency of Christ's work for His people? Where is the hope and trust in the sovereignty of God?

Where is the head over heals work to reach lost people? Where is there recognition that outside of Christ people are lost?

Where is the hope of true justice--flowing from lives reconciled to the Lord and expressing His mercy and truth?

With claims like reformed and refoming make, reformed theology is getting a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dan. I'm not sure that Reformed and Reforming has ever even been to one of our services. If so, I must have missed that day. I don't see anything at Kirk of the Hills that resembles anything that would justify R and R's mean-spirited commentary. But if being an evangelical Christian makes me a poor Presbyterian in R and R's eyes, then that is a burden I will gladly bear. I have sensed nothing of the love of Christ in his comments. Nor do I find any logic for staying with the PCUSA. And his attitude reflects that of many who would just as soon see us gone, for whatever reason. My prayer is that he will find healing for his anger.

M.B.

Anonymous said...

I know a number of Christians who live under Moslem rule and to suggest that the circumstance that you find yourself in is comparable to what they live through on a day to day basis (and what their families have endured for centuries) is nothing short of insult.

I suspect if you even spent a day in their shoes you would have quite the education.

TomGray said...

Dear anonymous,
I wasn't making a comparison, but an analogy. There are similarities, but I certainly understand that they are not the same thing.
Tom

Mark said...

Dear Tom (and M.B.),

You say you're not making a comparison, only an analogy? What, dear Tom, are we to make of your word Islamiterian if it is not meant to be a comparison?

In my current and previous congregations I know PCUSA Christians who lived as Christians in Muslim countries. I evangelized and baptized a convert from Islam. I have also known Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims through interfaith dialogues. I agree with the last anonymous poster and add to what they said: your "analogy" was an insult to PCUSA members and to a majority of Muslims.

I also believe Reformed and Reforming has some very good points. His words are not mean-spirited, as yours are in the "Dhimmitude" article; they simply say things with which you and your supporters disagree, or which you refuse to answer nondefensively.

Rather than call R and R's words mean-spirited, M.B., why not answer his relevant questions? The Kirk is currently independent and intends to ordain ministers apart from a presbytery. That doesn't sound very Presbyterian to me, be it PCUSA, EPC, PCA, OPC, CPC, CPCA, or what have you. Likewise with R and R's insights about dispensationalism, which is decidedly unReformed and unbiblical.

Yours in Christ,
Mark (not Smith)