In logic, we call it a “category error” when someone tries for to force something into the wrong category of logic. It’s one thing to cling tenaciously to Aristotelian denials of other realms of existence; it’s another thing to try forcing belief in God into Aristotelian logic. The fundamental nature of faith is a denial of Aristotle. You cannot reason about God and get anything useful from it. God is not subject to Aristotle’s logical boundaries; everything about revelation denies those boundaries.
So a Western approach to an Eastern society will inevitably fail. Once again, I have to admire a philosophical discussion by a Muslim scholar. The writer notes that you cannot understand a covenant community as a civil society. If you apply the ideals of the Enlightenment to an Islamic nation, you simply will not have a clue. The internal consistency of the covenant community will escape you; you will not have the equipment necessary to discern the pattern.
In a world where the universe is believed to be created (and didn’t “just happen”) and the warps and woofs of whose fabric are utterly moral in their composition, and in a world whose creation is a program upon whose stage mankind is positioned front and center, and in which God is intimately involved by way of his comprehensive providential administration in the affairs of man and in the affairs of the world, the meaning and compass of religion are going to be very different and far more expansive than the conception of religion in a society whose citizens either do not believe in God, or believe that “religion” is a private affair and is best kept out of the public arena.
It’s a long and scholarly article, full of heart-led wisdom. We don’t have to accept the particular conclusions, but we must respect how he got them. In that article, the concept of covenant community is very similar to what we proclaim here. The claims of Islam cannot be evaluated by logic any more than could the claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Logic cannot take you there. Either you will be drawn by faith or repelled by the impossible demands. If your belief stands on logic, it will not outlive your flesh.
Our primary difference with that article, by the way, is that we devolve the authority to decide what is and isn’t the will of God to a much lower level. We find that the apparent necessity of governing large numbers of people spread over large areas should be far more cautious about seizing too much detailed control, but should strive to reflect the consensus of many lower levels of authority. We do not believe a covenant can stretch that far in full detail.
So it’s not as if I suggest we idolize Iran’s current government; we should understand the genuine moral differences between an empire that is essentially secular and bellicose versus a religious government that is considerably closer to Biblical Law.
Addenda: In response to an offline question — Islam as a religion and Islam as a lifestyle are two different things. But they are synergistic; if you attack Islamic countries, you breathe life and power into their religion. If you leave them alone to fail in God’s good time, Islam dies with the lifestyle. It may never go away, but there would be no Islamic terror if it weren’t for the CIA and friends creating it, fostering it, and trying to use it for their own ends. It is 100% the child of Western imperialism.