One common argument launched against Theonomists is the application of God’s Law would be like Sharia Law. A few months ago, Christian Street Preacher – Tony Miano tweeted, “I believe Theonomy is more akin to Islam than Christianity.” Another person has said, “Theonomists go beyond just preaching God’s Law. They want to legislate holiness, and force pagans into submission or else. This is not Scriptural at all. Reminds me of what Muslims are doing with Sharia Law.”
These are uneducated accusations and misrepresentations of what Theonomists have taught and believe. If these people had spent any significant amount of time reading what Theonomists have written on the application of God’s Law, these accusations would never have been leveled in the first place. However, people unfortunately do not read what Theonomists have written for whatever reason, and uneducated accusations like these keep rearing their ugly heads. These accusations are uneducated and misleading because the God of the Bible is not the false god of Islam, and God’s Law is not applied by force like Sharia Law.
Jehovah And Allah Are Not The Same
The God of the Bible is a different God than the false god of Islam, and they have entirely different laws. The God of the Bible is perfect, holy, just, and good (Lev. 11:44; 2 Thess. 1:6; Psalm 136:1). Thus, His Commandments and Laws which proceed from Him are perfect, holy, just, and good (Psalm 19:7; Rom. 7:12; 1 Tim. 1:8). The application of His Law in society leads to holiness, justice, and goodness. Compare this to the false god of Islam. The Qur’an states that Allah is the best of deceivers (Sur. 3:45), and the application of his commandments cause hatred, and animosity until the Day of Resurrection (Sur. 5:14). The results of the application of his law is evident throughout the places in which it has been applied. The application of his law has not brought holiness, justice, or goodness like the God of the Bible’s Law. Rather, it has brought destruction, hatred, animosity, and oppression just as promised.
Since the God of the Bible is entirely different from Allah, and His Laws are entirely different, it cannot be said that His Laws if applied would have the same outcome as Allah’s law. Greg Bahnsen has said God’s Law is a reflection of His unchanging character (1). If God’s Law is a reflection of His character, then to assert that God’s Law is bad or tyrannical when applied is equivalent to arguing that God is bad and tyrannical, thus misunderstanding the nature of the God of the Bible. To assert such a thing is nothing short of blasphemous. Conclusively, these two laws serve entirely different purposes; the Law of God to set apart His people by making them holy, and to bring freedom, justice, and goodness. The Law of Allah serves the purpose of bringing people into submission to Allah by means of oppression, destruction, hatred, and animosity.
God’s Law Is Applied Differently Than Sharia Law
The Law of God is also applied differently than Sharia Law. Sharia Law is imposed top-down upon societies, whereas God’s Law is not. God’s Law is applied bottom-up. Applying God’s Law begins with applying it to self, then to the family, and so on. Thus, to say that Theonomists want to force God’s Law upon pagans is false. Theonomists seek to preach the Gospel to pagans and see them come to know and love Christ and keep His commandments, which are not burdensome (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
Gary North has also noted that this is the way that Theonomists see God’s Law applied. When speaking of “top-down theocracy”, North calls it “Satan’s version of Theocracy” (2). North goes on to say, “In contrast to this sort of theocracy is the ideal of a Christian holy commonwealth. It is fundamentally decentralist. Its bedrock presupposition is self-government under the law of God. This is what Jethro told Moses he must do, and Moses did: “and thou shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work they must do” (Ex. 18:20). All government begins with self-government. All discipline begins with self-discipline. All men stand alone before God on the day of judgement; they are personally responsible to God (3).
Conclusively, the critics of Theonomy level false charges against Theonomists. Theonomists do not seek to impose top-down theocracy upon the people. Theonomists seek to preach the Gospel, see people come to know Christ, and self-govern themselves under and according to the Law of God. Theonomists likewise believe that top-down theocracy is evil. To argue otherwise shows ones ignorance on the matter.
Although critics of Theonomy level charges of wanting to impose a type of Sharia Law upon societies, these charges are false. The application of God’s Law is not Sharia Law for two main reasons. First, The God of the Bible is not the false god of Islam, and His Law is perfect, just, and good which means its application is perfect, just, and good. To argue otherwise is treading on blasphemous grounds, misunderstanding the nature of God. But most importantly, God’s Law is not applied by force like Sharia Law. God’s Law is mainly applied through regeneration. The Gospel is preached to pagans, and they are regenerated and come to love the Lord. They then seek to follow Jesus’ own words, and keep His commandments (John 14:15).
As the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed in societies, we believe as the prophet Habakkuk said, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” As a result, people will self-govern their lives under the Law of God by keeping Jesus’ commandments. Theonomy is a result of faithfully preaching the Gospel and taking part in the Great Comission. Theonomy is not a result of top-down imposition.
(1) Bahnsen, Greg. “What Is Theonomy?” Covenant Media Foundation. April 1, 1994. Accessed November 1, 2014. http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe180.htm.
(2) North, Gary. “Bottom-Up Theocracy.” Christian Reconstruction Vii, no. 5 (1983). Accessed November 1, 2014. http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/a_pdfs/newslet/cr/8309.pdf.