Christianity’s Shari’ah Law: Theonomy & Catechism
Laws are meant to be guides on living a morally acceptable lifestyle. For example, the term Torah quite literally means, “the guide/ teaching”. In the Abrahamic faiths of both Islam and Judaism they offer a body of law that spans from personal practise to the governance of the Muslim and Jewish nations. In Islam this is the Shari’ah and in Judaism it is the Halacha. In terms of religious belief, one has to live a morally acceptable lifestyle and to do so means to obey the commands of God. For a Muslim and a Jew, doing “good” is to say that one adheres to the delimits which God has set. If God says that consuming alcohol is wrong, then it would be morally reprehensible to commit that sin. If God says that giving charity is good, then to give charity would be morally recommended. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward concept to understand, if I do what God says is good to do, then I’d live a “good” life. Both Islam and Judaism accept this notion of practising God’s law as part of their soteriological outlook. In other words, we can attain salvation by adhering to the commands of God. For a Muslim or a Jew, being good and living a life led by God is spelled out for us, all we have to do is adhere to God’s laws.
For Christianity though, it isn’t as clear. The religion of Christianity is morally insufficient, it lacks a moral structure to adhere to. To be “saved”, one merely has to have belief in a series of doctrines developed over a number of centuries. Doing “good” or to live a “Christian lifestyle” is to be led by the Holy Spirit, which is often reduced to one’s adherence to the 10 Commandments. Christians don’t believe that they need to do “works” to attain salvation, but the consequence of such thinking has led Christians to live rather unstructured moral lives that have left many feeling spiritually unfulfilled as will be explained shortly. How does one exactly live a good life, or how does one define what a Christian community is, if there are no guidelines to follow? For example, is the clothing I wear acceptable to God, or is the food I’m eating approved by God? How does one begin to define a “good” Christian lifestyle? For Christians, this has been a difficult question to answer and over the centuries churches have developed different solutions to this inherent problem with the Christian religion and its moral insufficiencies.
For the Catholics, they developed the Cathecism which is a collection of principles that Catholics should adhere to if they want to be considered as “good Christians”. Some Protestant groups like the 7th Day Adventists try to adopt some of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament by following dietary restrictions and a quasi-Sabbath. However, in the 20th century a movement arose in the Protestant sect which is known as “Christian Reconstructionism” or “Theonomy”; which often means ‘to be ruled by God’s law’. In essence, they are trying to fill this moral gap, this moral absence from the daily life left by the inadequacies of the Christian faith by calling for adherence to the Mosaic law, i.e. the law of the Old Testament. Christians often mock both Muslims and Jews for rigidly practising ritualistic law, but they fail to realise that it is impossible to live a lifestyle according to God’s moral approval if there are no commands or guidelines to follow. One can’t live a good life if one does not know “how” to be good. Sure it’s acceptable to not lie, cheat, steal or murder, there’s some moral compass innate in all of us but we’re looking at the bigger picture here. How does one manage their home to be acceptable according to God? Or manage a country in a way God would approve of?
Christianity can’t answer that question because of it’s vitriolic stance against the ritual practise of law. With the growing calls for Christianity to re-adopt the Mosaic law from Christian groups, this is more or less a concession as to the moral inadequacy of the Christian faith. Salvation is dependent on law, it is dependent on obeying God’s guidelines and despite centuries of denying this, the Christian religion is now beginning to accept this. There can be no salvation by faith alone.
and God knows best.