As Americans, many of us feel conflicted over the appropriate response to the terrorist attacks we’re witnessing. As Christians, it’s even trickier.
Of course, we don’t want to lump all Muslims in with the terrorists. That would not only be hateful, but incorrect. Many Muslims are truly horrified at what is going on.
However, I do think there’s a key to understanding the difference between peace-loving Muslims and the terrorists. Strangely enough, I think I understand it well because of my own faith.
You see, I am technically a “Christian fundamentalist”. Before you project images of short-sleeve dress shirts and denim jumpers on my family, hear me out. By “fundamentalist”, I mean that I believe in the “fundamentals of the faith”. Back in the late 1800s, many Christians reacted to the liberal interpretation of Scripture that was in vogue. Some theologians chose to reinterpret the words of the Bible in ways that were less literal and more symbolic.
In their view, Hell was no longer a literal place, but simply “a state of mind”. But when you applied that thinking comprehensively, that would make heaven only “a state of mind” as well. But many Christians like me have our hearts set on a literal heaven, since most of us tend to be literally human and literally die. The desire for a more literal approach to Scripture is what gave birth to Christian fundamentalism
Literalism is the dividing line with our Islamic friends, as well. Muslims who treat the Quran’s jihad passages as merely a spiritual struggle are not a threat to us.
For Islamic fundamentalists, it’s another story altogether. These Muslims take the 100+ passages sanctioning violence against unbelievers literally. They believe their holy book is literal truth, as I do mine.
In contrast to the Quran, the savagery in the Old Testament was prescribed in a specific historical context for specific circumstances. Those passages were not left open-ended. But the Quran’s directives toward violence have no expiration date. They are still very much in effect.
This means my neighbors next door can breathe a sigh of relief if they refuse my invitation to church this Sunday. I won’t be dropping by tonight with a machete to make them convert. If I follow my holy book to the letter, I’ll actually be willing to lay down my life for them to come to Christ.
Quite simply, Islamic fundamentalists believe their book means what it says. The problem is, what it says is you’ll be rewarded for killing infidels. So what can we do to convince them their beliefs are wrong?
Since I’m a Bible-believing Christian, you can try to convince me all you want that my faith is false, but it will do no good. I believe so strongly, I would literally die before I denounced it.
Go ahead. Tell me God doesn’t exist. You might as well tell me my wife doesn’t exist. I’m just that unreasonable. Sure, I believe Christianity makes sense from a logical point of view. But in truth, I believe parts that I’d admit I don’t completely understand. We call that “faith”.
So what arguments, diplomacy, or sanctions could possibly make a believer that committed change his mind?
Well, there’s only one way to stop me from believing the Bible and following it: kill me. Seriously, nothing short will stop me. In my mind, the world to come is much more real that the world we presently live within. So to die is to my benefit.
That’s the tough answer we must eventually face with Islamic terrorism. It is not a country we can simply invade, or a fighter jet we can shoot down.
It is an ideology. So…how do you kill an idea?
We must protect good Muslim citizens and honor them for their patriotism. But all our pleas for reason to their fundamentalist brethren are a waste of time. And that delay may result in the loss of more innocent lives.
As difficult as it may be for us to accept, there’s only one effective response to this level of evil. It will appear to lack compassion, but true compassion is found in protecting millions of innocent people from these terrorists.
Sadly, the only answer is to destroy those who refuse to be convinced. That’s because the day they stop believing in terror is the same day I’ll stop believing in the Bible’s truth…
The day I die.