GLEN COVE, NY — Bowe Bergdahl went absent without leave from, and apparently deserted, his infantry unit in Afghanistan. He and his father have adopted the language and other external signs of Moslems and are said by some to have become Moslems.
It should not surprise us that a Calvinist has become a Moslem. The two religions have much in common.
Bowe Bergdahl was home schooled and raised as a very strict Calvinist. It should not surprise us that a Calvinist has become a Moslem. The two religions have much in common.
Both have a constricted view of the nature of God, a view that limits human responsibility. Calvinism is characterized by a belief that, before all time, God decided who was saved and who was damned. Whatever good we do cannot save us if we have been damned. No matter how much we pray to God for our salvation, no matter how much others pray for our salvation, no matter how much the saints intercede for us, our predestined end cannot change.
The analogous belief in Islam is that everything is Allah’s will. No matter how careful we are, if Allah intends for us to be killed in an automobile accident, it will happen. If we drive 100 miles per hour drunk on the wrong side of a highway, and Allah does not intend for us to be killed, we will not be.
Calvinism and Islam are characterized by unjust and harsh laws. John Calvin had a child's head cut off when the child hit his parent. (See blogspot, paragraph 12, citing History of the Life, Works, and Doctrines of John Calvin, by J.M.V. Audin.) Women are killed in Moslem countries for things beyond their control.
Both Islam and Calvinism practice an extreme form of textual literalism in understanding scripture. Scripture acquires a position as a first principle in both religions rather than as a part of Revelation. Neither asks how God has revealed scripture; both simply believe in scripture as if its divine origin were obvious.
Traditional Christianity is characterized by the use of all our senses, as well as our minds, to increase our piety. Incense appeals to our sense of smell. Holy water appeals to our sense of touch. Icons, paintings, statues, beautiful churches, and vestments appeal to our sense of sight. Gregorian chant, polyphony, and bells appeal to our sense of hearing. Great feasts reward our sense of taste after long fasts. While Islam and Calvinism have some of these elements, they despise icons and statues, oversimplify their music, never use incense or holy water, and are generally stark.
In traditional Christianity, the central act of worship is the Eucharist, a miraculous event. It is celebrated most solemnly on Sundays and great feasts. In Calvinism, the central act of worship is the Sunday sermon; in Islam, it is the Friday sermon.
...both Islam and Calvinism produce self-righteousness and intolerance. Both were born in pride. Christianity encourages humility.
Finally, both Islam and Calvinism produce self-righteousness and intolerance. Both were born in pride. Christianity encourages humility. We are tolerant of those who are obviously in error, and we recognize the limits of our ability to correct them by reason. We know, however, that God may give them the gift of seeing the truth, and we pray for this gift humbly.
Let us pray for Bowe Bergdahl and his father, and, of course, for the victims of their perfidy.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2014
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
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Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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