A real gem from Doug Wilson

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has given an important speech on the threat posed to us by Sharia law and the encroachments of Islamic fundamentalism. He was right to do so, but like so many, the ground where he wants to stand in this fight is ground that gives way under his feet. Sharia law is “abhorrent to Western values.” So? Who cares about that?

The Islamists are driven by what Allah has revealed. The answer to this is not what the people of the West think at the present moment. If you want a good example of the voice of that god, then take a gander at the House of Representatives. A transcendental appeal, even if it might be false, appears to outrank a horizontal appeal that is known by everyone to be false.

Here is the basic problem. Why should we resist the encroachments of Sharia law based on our Western values? What is the opposite of Western values? That would be Eastern values, and can anybody give me a reason why we should prefer one position over another on the basis of geography?

Western values only have value if they are a coded way of referring to something else. And that something else cannot be another horizontal fact, like representative government, or womens’ rights, or anything like that. That just pushes the question back a step. Why should we prefer those? And if we say that Western values simply means “our values,” then why should those outrank “their values”? In the ebb and flow of Darwinian struggle, ours sometimes loses to theirs.

“Western values” as an appeal works only if it is a coded references to Christendom, and that only works if Christ is still there. Anything else is arbitrary, jingoistic, and stupid. Anything else is a couple of dogs fighting over a piece of meat.

Doug Wilson is spot-on and likewise, a helpful corrective to Christians who can easily couch “Western Values” in jingoistic terms (which, I too often fail to make the needed divide). There’s nothing specifically Christian or sacred about “Western Values” if Western Values counter the values of Christ.

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Posted by Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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