Mars Hill Forum #143: What is the Nature of Politics and Freedom in Islam and Christianity?

John C. Rankin

On April 17, 2009, I had the delight to host a forum at South Church in Hartford with Alejandro Beutel of the Minaret of Freedom Insttitute. I had heard him address a meeting some time prior of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington, D.C., and respected, indeed, enjoyed very much is thirst for freedom. I rooted my definitions of politics as: “We have two choices in live – give and it will be given, or take before you are taken.” Alejandro rooted his definition of the political arena as: “Who gets what, when and how.” This definition does reflect Islam — namely, where rights are demanded from the government, whereas a biblical definition is whether government honors the prior unalienable rights of the people as given first by the Creator.

In our forum we had a good conversation, and here is an outline of the issues and questions I used:

  • Monad deity v. polytheism v. Trinitarian understanding.
  • Unity without diversity; diversity without unity; v, diversity in service to unity.
  • Historical verifiability of checks in balance in compilation of the Bible.
  • Singularity of Muhammad – all Islam trusts his solitary experience that had no checks and balances.
  • No historical witness in Qur’an prior; yet it claims to supersede the Bible.
  • Nixes Jesus as the Son of God – nixes the Trinity.
  • Is the State necessary to “protect” religion?
  • Expansion of Christianity v. expansion of Islam?
  • Classical Islamic definition of war and peace – “submit” to political hegemony.
  • Classical Islamic definition of land.
  • Any positive definition of freedom?
  • Freedom to convert?
  • Freedom of Muslim women to marry Christians?
  • Any Golden Rule in Islam?
  • One-way street?
  • Any concern for outsiders, other than to have them submit to Islam?
  • Any possibility of reformation, renaissance, in Islam?
  • Music + miracles?