Islamic Calvinists: Flattery through imitation?

First, I want to say that this is truly not flattery as they are not imitating Calvinism merely stealing the name. Second, I am glad, but surprised that the anti-Calvinists out there haven’t used this information to try and discredit Calvinism. Give them time though.

A. Max Weber in Kayseri

No visitor to Kayseri could fail to notice that this is both a deeply religious society, and one where change and modernisation are eagerly embraced. There is a large new mosque in the centre of the university, and an even larger one in the industrial zone, where many of the workers pray on Fridays. Every company sets aside rooms for prayer; most of the older businessmen have been to Mecca on the Hadj. There are very few restaurants in the city which serve alcohol. Islamic charity is a deeply rooted local tradition, and many of the city’s educational and cultural establishments were founded with private donations.

Doesn’t sound too terrible though I wonder how acceptable a Christian would be living in that society. Yes, I have a biased opinion. Can you blame me?

Strikingly, a number of people in Kayseri describe their community by reference to Calvinism and the Protestant work ethic. The former metropolitan mayor of Kayseri, Sukru Karatepe, compared his fellow ‘Kayserili’ (people from Kayseri) with hard-working ‘Protestants’, and informed us that “to understand Kayseri, one must read Max Weber” (a reference to Weber’s celebrated 1905 essay, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, which argued that the “this-worldly asceticism” of Calvinism provided the spark for the rise of modern capitalism). Celal Hasnalcaci, owner of a textile company and branch manager of the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (Musiad), explained: “The rise of Anatolian capitalists is due to their Protestant work ethic. No personal waste, no speculation, reinvest your profits.”

I find it difficult to fully understand why they’d want to be called a Calvinist outside of their economic ideologies. I don’t see a definition of Calvinism as these folks would use it. Taking concepts of two systems that oppose each other at their roots and applying one to another does not give credence for one to modify another. For example, a society in Saudi Arabia could not call themselves “U.S. Constitutional Saudi Arabians.” The way terms are being used here these people could just call themselves “Islamic Christians.” It makes no sense.

Sadly, these people aren’t really Calvinists at all. I’m glad they seem to live in peace and work hard. Those are good things, but it does nothing for their soul. Millions peacefully work hard all the way to hell.

Let’s pray for conversion of these Muslims just as we pray for all unbelievers. Who knows, God could use this to get folks to read Calvin’s writings to bring them to the faith. Can you imagine the talk that would stir?

tagged as , , in apologetics,Evangelism,Gospel,heresy,theology

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MarieP October 29, 2005 at 11:20 am


Yeah, that’s insane! Words and definitions don’t seem to mean anything anymore to many people.

2 Rusty October 31, 2005 at 5:39 pm

that is incredible =)

3 Howard Fisher November 2, 2005 at 12:46 pm

When Jerry Falwell can redefine Substitutionary Atonement as meaning Jesus died for every individual ever, then why should we expect non-Christians to remain faithful to the meaning of words.

Christians should be the sholarly and honest ones. Christians should be the ones attempting to clarify what we see in the world. Instead we have followed post-modernism and muddied the waters ourselves. Should we expect anything more from the world?–>


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