In early January, around 400 residents of the municipality of Ede in the Netherlands province of Gelderland signed a petition opposing plans of the Turkish community to erect a mosque in their neighborhood.1 The municipality, the biggest in the Dutch Bible Belt, is also the single municipality where the Reformed Political Party gets its highest number (though not percentage) of votes.2
Unfortunately, the building of the mosque got the green-light from the Ede local government by the end of January, as only twelve of the local government’s thirty-nine members voted against the proposal. They were all representatives of either the Reformed Political Party or two local parties, the newly-formed Reformed Principle Party (also a Calvinist party like the aforementioned) and the Community Interests Party of Ede.3 While we have seen encouraging signs that the bulk of the native Dutch people are increasingly turning against Islamization, it remains a particularly big disappointment when institutional idolatry gets legitimized in a traditionally Christian community in a country that has played such a major historical role for the advancement of Christendom.
Following the vote, a Reformed Political Party member from the town of Rhenen, Ben de Jong, explained in the Reformed Daily newspaper that a vote in favor of the mosque was the right one for Ede, as it manifested the principles of neighborly love and tolerance in the political sphere – particularly with regard to separating religion from local community politics in the Netherlands.4 Kees van den Brink, one of the Reformed Political Party’s members in Ede, reacted with a gem of a letter, beautifully explaining the theonomic position on the matter. (The letter in Dutch can be accessed here.)
May this call to repentance resonate in the ears of this historically Christian, but now largely apostate, nation. Here is a translated excerpt of the best parts of the letter for our readers in the Anglosphere:
From a Calvinistic perspective, tolerance cannot be the guiding principle in dealing with false religions in the public domain. Ben de Jong argues that tolerance towards dissenters is a Biblical directive for politics; however, separated from some [other] valuable viewpoints, De Jong’s argument is questionable.
In his Institutes (Book IV, Chapter 20), Calvin discusses the task of civil government. The government should enforce both tables of the law and “nourish general peace and tranquility.” Calvin draws his arguments mainly from the Bible.
In his commentary on Isaiah 49:23, Calvin argues that the task of the government is “disposing of superstitious practices, eradicating all pernicious idolatry . . . the promotion of the kingdom of Christ and the preservation of the pure doctrine of the Gospel.”
In practice, Calvin was consistent. He aimed at establishing Reformed doctrine and Biblical practice as much as possible in the public life of Geneva.
In the Union of Utrecht (1579) personal liberty of conscience was guaranteed. That meant no limitless tolerance and public religious liberty. . . . Freedom of conscience meant that religious coercion (with violence) was improper.
De Jong argues that a strong connection between local politics and religion may cause undesired intolerance. Such a view tends towards a modernist notion of tolerance. According to this understanding, Christian politicians are ‘intolerant’ when they are ‘not neutral’. The logical consequence of De Jong’s argument is that we must also tolerate the public desecration of the Sabbath by businesses.
Only when politics are indeed linked to religious conviction (according to Calvin, it cannot be otherwise) does the issue of tolerance come into the picture. Tolerance namely means to tolerate or endure what goes against one’s own beliefs. Tolerance is therefore not the purpose but only a means to be able to lead “a quiet and peaceable life.”
Of course, in practice, the Netherlands in 2014 is not the same as that of Geneva or the [Dutch] Republic in the sixteenth century. We are dealing with a non-reformed government and constitutionally protected freedom of religion. . . . Regardless however, the task of Christian politicians is not to attempt to move a secular government to neutrality, but to oppose secular principles with the Christian faith.
To move to the concrete situation about which De Jong speaks: the new mosque in Ede. . . . Both religiously and culturally, the mosque is far removed from the historic Dutch identity. There was also an important spatial aspect: the building would emphatically be present as a mosque in the public domain because of the high minaret. The SGP faction’s view, that it is incompatible with its reformed view of government to give room to the public manifestation of Islam through such a building, is therefore justified.
- http://www.gelderlander.nl/regio/de-vallei/400-handtekeningen-tegen-moskee-ede-zijn-bezwaar-1.4169112?ref=regio_de-vallei_artikel-bekijk_ook – note: this source is in Dutch. ↩
- http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staatkundig_Gereformeerde_Partij#Electoraat – note: this source is in Dutch. ↩
- http://www.gelderlander.nl/regio/de-vallei/turkse-gemeenschap-ede-mag-moskee-bouwen-1.4188942?ref=regio_de-vallei_artikel-bekijk_ook – note: this source is in Dutch. ↩
- http://www.refdag.nl/opinie/tolerantie_voluit_bijbelse_gedachte_1_802849 – note: this source is in Dutch. ↩