Here is the fourth entry in my series addressing the big issues raised by President Obama in the recent State of the Union Address.
We must affirm the fact that all men are created equal and God has endowed them with certain inalienable rights. However, not all ideas are created equal. Thus, we must be wary of jumping on the bandwagon of the tolerance crowd which insists that we refuse to hurt anyoneâ€™s feelings by critically evaluating their worldview and what informs it. In the case of the Presidentâ€™s view of the Islamic religion we see a woefully inadequate assessment of the Islamic worldview.
It is oft repeated that the terrorists and radicals ought not to taint our view of the religion as a whole, and that is indeed a healthy and judicious reaction. If 1% of a certain ethnic group was known for radical and violent behavior to defend their beliefs, we wouldnâ€™t consider it an attribute of the whole. We should examine why that 1% acts as it does and seek to both sway them from their violent ways and yet to defend the rest of us from them!
However, when it comes to the Islamic religion, we need to grapple with how pervasive is this â€œterroristicâ€ strain, and if it isnâ€™t a true attribute of the Islamic religion (as some say) how should the imams (religious leaders) dissuade their people from these actions which they seem disproportionately prone to. One imam in Australia claims that he sought to â€œde-radicalizeâ€ a group of 240 muslims; but he was only able to persuade half of them to give up their pursuit of a violent advancement of Islam. This means that even when the leaders of Islam make endeavors to lead their people to be a â€œreligion of peaceâ€ they only have a 50% success rate (at least in this scenario).
As a Christian I know that some Christians have done some horrific things under the banner of advancing the Christian faith; but I would also point out that faithful teaching of Godâ€™s Word from healthy, pastoral ministry leads Christians to lives of generosity, selflessness, sacrifice, hard work, compassion, and â€œturning the other cheekâ€. If 50% of Christians were joining some Christian Militia, then we could begin discussing whether there was something askew in the Christian religion.
Now, as regards our national interests in this matter, we must not mistreat our Muslim citizens, or prohibit them from enjoying and receiving the benefits of citizenship in our country. However, when dealing with Islam at large, it must be recognized that when Islam is faithfully practiced and where the Koran is fully followed there is a higher propensity for extremist, violent and terrorist behavior. Indeed, some researchers have pointed out that in 2013 66% of all terrorist caused deaths were perpetrated by only four different terrorist groups; and all four of them claim to be acting for the sake of Islam. We need to be unafraid of asking why. We need to be unafraid to challenge imams and Islamic leaders to grapple with the question of why their religion is a petrie dish for merciless terrorism. If their religion is a religion of peace, it should come out in the practice of their people.
Some like to point out that the Bible also teaches violence towards Godâ€™s enemies. This is neglecting two very important things in such passages. First, the Old Testament battles between Godâ€™s people and their enemies are not so much Israel carrying out a genocide; rather, the people of Canaan, in particular, had already declared themselves to be enemies of God and of His people. So these wars are primarily a defense against aggressions.
Secondly, the New Testament instructs us in how to interpret those Old Testament battles and wars in light of the finished work of Christâ€™s crucifixion. Thus, the New Testament teaches us to advance the Christian faith by living lives of love, sacrifice and even suffering as our Lord suffered. The Bible, when taught faithfully, doesnâ€™t instruct us to be genocidal towards all who do not share our faith (though it does support the notion of a just warâ€¦which is a topic Iâ€™ll leave for another day); rather it teaches us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us and know with a certainty that the Gospel will triumph in the end!
So, what should be done about radical Islam? First, as a Christian, I would assert that our nation ought to repent of forsaking our Christian heritage, and though we do not have a national religion, we need to become a Christian nation once more. Second, we must understand that the only way to truly stop violent, Islamic terrorists is the conversion of the Muslim nations to Christ, and we shouldnâ€™t be embarrassed to make this our stance and our primary objective. This issue, after all, must be dealt with on two fronts: spiritually and politically.
Which is why third, in the here and now, our government is responsible to protect its citizens, and sometimes that means going on the offensive; thus, since these terrorist groups have declared war upon us, we must give them a war. The sort of war that aims for a quick return to peaceful relations. Diplomacy works best when there is a major cost for spurning or violating diplomatic efforts. We must go on the offensive in this situation, destroying the terroristsâ€™ strongholds, cash flow, and networks. Endeavoring to spare as many as possible, but also demonstrating that we will go to whatever length necessary to ensure a peaceful existence for our citizens. Iâ€™ll give William Wallace the last word here: â€œAnd, while war is in our hands, let us in all things prepare for peace, that the sword may gently bend into the sickle, the dirk to the pruning-hook.â€
Read Part One here!
Read Part Two here!
Read Part Three here!
Read Part Five here!
Read Part Six here!
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