Colson on the Middle East

An excerpt from Difficult to Separate Politics from Religion

But the issue in the Middle East today is vastly more complicated. It is impossible, when dealing with Islam, to separate religion and politics because the Islamist believes in theocracy. So the church is to be the government and people are to live by religious law, the sharia. It is almost impossible to separate political motives from religious motives. Is Ahmadinejad, who believes in the return of the Twelfth Imam and the end of the world, when Islam will reign, motivated by his religious convictions in building nuclear weapons or his political convictions? I don’t think you can separate them.

Similarly, the Jews have both a biblical warrant to return to their lands in Palestine and a political charter granted by the UN. Are they fighting religious issues with the Palestinians or political issues? In that case I think the majority of Israelis are moved by political independence, not biblical prophecy. But again, the two issues are impossible to separate.

Christianity as a worldview has, certainly in modern times, effectively separated church and state. But it is not Christianity that is involved in the Middle East. Muslim scholars would have to explain how they are able to separate the clear fascist ideology that has run through the Muslim brotherhood from the various strains of Islamic faith. Having read the Qur’an and the works of Said Qutb and others, I think it would be very hard to do. The problem in the Middle East is basically the problem of theocracy plus a virulent anti-Semitism, more the consequences of fascist ideology than theology.

-Charles W. "Chuck" Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship

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