UI – Part 504 – No Compulsion in Religion
Last October celebrated the 500th year since Luther posted 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany (October 31, 1517). It was the beginning of Protestantism. Those who accepted Christ as savior were told by Luther that the Catholic Church was an autocratic sort, demanding faith in God. However that was not what God was saying in the Bible, the Word of God. He made it clear in his proclamation that for the Catholic, for the Christ follower, there was no requirement, there was nothing to force a person to be Catholic or believe in Christ. Thus there was no compulsion in religion. In a sermon he reflected his thinking, “In short, I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no one by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion….I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing….I did nothing; the Word did everything….I did nothing; I let the Word do its work.”
Martin Luther was liberated. He discovered the hope and joy of having faith in Jesus Christ. He was free, free of the Catholic Church, free to choose, and free to have faith, as a convicted Christian, believing in the sacrifice of Christ that provided forgiveness for the sins of mankind, all persons who understand, believe and have faith in the Risen Lord. He was not compelled and no longer felt constrained by the dictates of Priests or the edicts of the Pope. The Word of God provided all the directives he needed to be a citizen of heaven on earth. “The Word did everything.” The Word can do everything for everybody. The Reformation provided glad tidings of great joy.
At this Anniversary we cannot forget Erasmus. He translated, most accurately, the Bible into Greek. Erasmus was a Christian Humanist, his philosophy of life combined Christian thought with classical traditions. He studied Scripture in languages Hebrew, Greek and Latin and prepared a New Testament in Greek. Having conducted considerable research and study he claimed, according to Wikipedia, “his edition restored the original text and corrected the errors introduced by translators and scribes.” Critical in his accurate documentation of the Bible he restored words introduced to Matthew 3:2 by the Catholic Church and in the Vulgate Bible from “Do penance” which led to funds provided for the Church, to “Repent” which was what persons freely chose to do, according to the Word, to be made right with God. So the restoration reads, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Luther found problematic and disturbing the Catholic Church offering ‘indulgences” and requirements to ‘earn’ your way into heaven. It is not what you do. He embraced the Word that clearly informed its readers and adherents that it is by faith alone. It is what has been done for mankind, Christ dying for the sins of man, past, present and future.
That is the Christian, principally Protestant, approach.
No Compulsion – Die if you Leave Islam
For Islam it is considerably different. There is a verse in the Quran that says there is “no compulsion in religion” (Quran 2:256). The structure of the Scripture of Islam is such that early statements made, based on chronology, are no longer in force if later verses in the text reverse or overrule the message. That is the case in Islam. This verse was a claim by Muhammad while living in Mecca. There he felt persecuted and left for Medina (Yatrib) where his efforts to grow a following and a militant army to take the offensive against Meccans as retribution to satisfy his vengeance for the treatment he received preaching his new monotheistic ideology were successful. In Medina his practices, reflected in Hadiths that help frame the laws of Islam, diluted the element of freedom to choose. Those who became followers, enjoying the spoils of marauding caravans to aide in building a treasury for Muhammad and his god, Allah, were not allowed to leave, to have a change of heart, as punishment would result, including death.
The fact to consider is Apostasy Laws, those in Islam, that require, according to words of Muhammad, death for those that leave the ideology for any reason. What more compulsion do you need? Born a Muslim, die a Muslim, or else. Convert to Islam, by free will or forced, die a Muslim, or else.
Quoting an anonymous source, a reply to the words, ‘no compulsion in religion,’ Islam is “characterized by ‘Taqiyya’ – the Islamic principle and Qur’anic teachings of lying in order to protect/advance the fortunes of Islam – Muslims are permitted to lie, deceive and betray non-Muslims if it helps to advance the cause of Islam and its eventual domination over all societies and the entire world. The Qur’an instructs Muslims to never take non-Muslims as friends nor have any bond with them. If a Muslim is in a non-Muslim land, the Qur’an instructs that he or she may publicly appear friendly but should fill their hearts with hate and enmity towards the non-Muslim society, religion and its followers. This best describes Mohammed’s beginnings as a prophet in Mecca – appease, lie and deceive to protect oneself but secretly aim to destroy non-Muslims.” This writer suggests the promotion of Islam as enabling Muslims the freedom to choose a faith, other than Islam, is a fabrication. I would agree.
So as to compulsion, there is no compulsion for a protestant, a secularist, an atheist, but when it comes to Islam, you decide, is there ‘no compulsion in religion’ for a Muslim? Try to become a non-Muslim.
Happy 500th Anniversary to the Reformation, to Martin Luther, and to Protestantism. Let the Bible, The Word, be your guide. Read it, teach it, follow it and find hope and joy in your life.
Grace and Peace