Posted by: gmscan | November 19, 2015

We Need a Christian Response to ISIS


The Federalist ran this story on Wednesday, but they truncated the end of it. Here’s the whole piece, in case you are interested.



Watching and reading all the news about the Paris attacks by eight Muslim fanatics has been disconcerting. All of the analysis has been about how we should respond diplomatically and militarily. These things should certainly be done, but there is a gaping hole in the analysis – the religious response.

It is hard for the secular Western press to grasp, but ISIS is primarily a religious movement. These people take their religion very seriously, indeed — to the point that they are perfectly willing, even joyful, to sacrifice their lives in obedience to God.

To most of the Western press this idea is madness – mass insanity. The secular media has little doubt that God is a myth and it is beyond their belief system that anyone would die in service to a fantasy. To the extent they recognize religion at all, it is the type of westernized milquetoast mainline religion that is mostly a cultural artifact. People who go to church do so for nostalgia. They take comfort in ancient rituals and traditions. Nobody can actually believe this stuff.

Yet people have been willing to die in service to God for a very long time. All of the Apostles except John did so, as did many thousands of Christian martyrs during the reign of Nero. Even today thousands of Christians are being killed, even beheaded and crucified, because they will not deny God. While Christian martyrs and Muslim terrorists are both willing to die, only the latter are willing to execute others for their beliefs.

That is a very big difference. Christians believe people come to Jesus because the Lord has called them, not because of social pressure or terroristic threats. All Christians can do is show love, preach the Gospel, and witness to what Jesus has done in our own lives. Then we pray that our example and our witness will open the hearts of others to be more receptive to the Spirit of God. Most of us aren’t very good at this, but that is the model we try to follow.

And it works. Millions of Muslims are converting to Christianity as a result.  I was at a recent conference that featured the Lapp Brothers as speakers.  The Lapps are Old Order Amish who were prompted to become missionaries by the international attention given to the Amish after the example of love and forgiveness after the 2006 school shooting in Lancaster Pennsylvania.  They have traveled all over the world explaining how the Amish were able to do this. One of the trips took them to a medical mission in Iraq, where one of the Iraqi physicians said to them, “When Muslims come here, they come to kill, but Christians come to help. How can I become a Christian?”

Some of the people associated with ISIS are simple sociopaths, some are Baathists hoping to regain power in Iraq and take revenge on the Shia, as the New Republic contends,  but there are also many who are looking for meaning in their lives and a higher purpose than just working and raising families. This latter group has been deceived by the Great Deceiver. They have been taught to submit to a God who wants all infidels killed. What a dismal religion!

These are people who need to hear the Good News that the true God loves them and will forgive them no matter what sins they have committed. They may be born again into fellowship with Jesus and become adopted as sons of God.

So, we need a three-pronged approach to dealing with this growing threat. We certainly need a military response to contend with the power hungry. We need diplomacy to coordinate our efforts with other nations and look for peaceful solutions. But we also need to work on the spiritual side to help those who are idealists see that they have been fooled into worshipping a false God. That true meaning in this life comes from serving, not killing, others.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the Western media started telling that side of the story?





  1. When the KKK was running around in hoods hanging black people and burning crosses in the name of Christianity, most of the Christian world just kinda shrugged and talked about other things. And when the US sent a few hundred thousand troops to invade Iraq and kill Muslims most Christians shrugged and some even applauded. When we sent our kids over there and they blew up innocent women and children, Christians said it was sad, but these things happen in war. Collateral damage. So why is ISIS not just more collateral damage? We went over there, gave them our weapons, taught them our tactics, all the way down the the orange jump suits they give their victims.

    We created them. They are just another unintended consequence of war. More collateral damage.

    It goes back a few centuries, granted, but in modern times, the spark in the tinder box was probably with Charlie Wilson’s War. We should have never let the CIA give the Mujaheddin RPGs and teach them how to fight the Russians.

    We should have minded our own business.

    Now when women and children run away and look for someplace to hide, millions of Americans say “not here. How do we know you aren’t hiding a terrorist among you? There is no place in the Inn for the likes of you”

    A Christian response is required. It needs to start by taking a long hard look in the mirror. It needs to start by asking challenging questions every time someone tells us who to fear and who to hate. It needs to start with sackcloth and ashes. It needs to start with becoming “in Christ”.

    In Christ there is no fear. In Christ there is no hate. And it’s amazing how many options appear when fear and hate are left at the foot of the cross.

    • Oh, come now Jodi. When the entire world used slaves as cheap labor it was Christians who ended it. When the minority Sunni Baathists in Iraq were oppressing and killing Shia and Kurds, the U.S, stepped in and stopped it. Stop with the bumper sticker slogans.

      How did you feel about the slaughter in Rwanda? Were we right to “mind our own business” then?

      We didn’t create ISIS. Their way of thinking goes back to the time of Muhammed. This is what Islam has always done — even against each other. Read Rodney Stark’s book on the Crusades.

      Now if you want to look at American foreign policy screw-ups, there is a very long list. The problem with Afghanistan is that we didn’t follow through after the Soviets left. We left a vacuum. Ditto with the first Gulf War. The Shia looked to us for protection and we turned our backs. No society on earth is free of such screw ups. We should look at them soberly and try to improve, but feeding the self-hatred isn’t helpful.

      The “women and children” line is another bumper sticker slogan. MOST of the “Syrian refugees” are well-toned young men of fighting age. We have every right to be concerned and to be discerning. If the current administration had more credibility, people might be re-assured, but Obama has lost it with “Bin Laden is dead and Al Q’ada’s on the run” and “ISIS is contained,” not to mention “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.”

      My article wasn’t about refugees, it was about dealing with Jihadists. I take it you aren’t concerned about that. I think the people in Paris were in fact “minding their own business” as were the people in the World Trade Center. That is no longer an option.

      • Greg,

        Perhaps I misunderstood your definition of “Christian Response”.

        I thought you meant Christian valued.

        Self examination, confession, and repentance (meaning change of direction), are deeply rooted Christian values and are the engines of Christian change. A Christian valued response, in order to be Christian, is always rooted in these values.

        Your example of the ending of slavery started exactly with that paradigm shifting path.

        Fear and hatred are anti-Christian values. Right now, the only motivation for singling out and “dealing” with Jihadists is fear and hatred. Those are the values that inspire and fuel their movement, and they are quite good at it. If you appeal to those same values, you may get a response, even an effective one, but it won’t be rooted in Christian values. And in all likelihood it will merely generate more fear, more hatred, and result in more violence.

        As they always have.

  2. I want to say that I read something yesterday about some drug which is being produced in Syria and smuggled throughout the middle east which gives enhanced feelings of euphoria and keeps folks up for like 4 days. Possibly leads to brain damage, but life expectancy for young men involved in Jihad seems not to be terribly long anyway. There just needs to be deliberation by the scholars of the society, and a rebuke of the practices of early death. I am concerned about brain health and rehabilitation.

  3. Ahh, yes. Drugs can be detrimental to a long healthy happy life, but those in search of jihad and martyrdom, do not care. Some people can be saved, sadly, some may not. The Saudi’s with their religious rehabilitation programs might not be the most successful.

  4. Fear and hatred may not be Christian values, but discernment and anger at sin and oppression certainly can be. Christ told the disciples to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as lambs. Many Christians get the second part but forget the first part. We are not expected to be blind to evil doers.

    • Greg,

      Interesting reference. (BTW, that is innocent as “doves”. The disciples were sent as sheep among wolves, admonished to be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves)

      It’s a curious metaphor, in the midst of several others. From an interesting and complicated passage in Matthew 10:16-39 believed to have been written on the heals of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Much of Matthew alludes to those events. The word ‘fear’ is sprinkled throughout. It was a time of great fear.

      Worth studying more deeply in today’s context of refugees.

      Christianity did not embrace – or invent – “just” warfare until several centuries later. That too is a topic worth re-investigating, as most Christian today have no idea what the ethics of just warfare actually require.

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