How Should Christians Respond to Radical Islam

 

     Recently I had the privilege of hearing Irwin Cotler, Liberal MP for Mount Royal in Montreal, speak at the U of Guelph on the rise of anti-Semitism around the world. During the question time I made the following comment: “I am aware of this expression that is common in the Islamic world, ‘First we are coming for the Saturday people, then for the Sunday people.’” I then asked this prestigious expert on human rights if I as a Christian should be concerned about the intentions of radical Islam since I am a “Sunday person.” Mr. Cotler was adamant that I had every right to be concerned.

Recently ISIS executioners marched 21 Coptic Christians along a sandy beach in Libya to the place of execution. With grim resolve these darkly dressed, hooded men calmly cut off the heads of their prisoners. These men were executed for their sole crime of being followers of Jesus. The predations of ISIS in former portions of Syria and Iraq have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people of minority status, Christians among them. Boko Haram, another radical Islamist group, has killed thousands of people in Nigeria, especially targeting Christians, and has displaced more than 1.5 million people. In Iran people of the Bahia faith have been viciously persecuted in an ongoing fashion by a radical Islamic regime. It’s not just Christians who are being targeted.

So then, how should Christians here in Canada respond to these atrocities committed by radical Islamists?

First, it is necessary that we practise what Jesus taught us. We are called to love our enemies, to forgive them, and to pray for them. Christians are called to love, not kill. This love needs to be active –reaching out to all Muslim people with the Good News that Jesus Christ gives abundant life now, and gives assurance to his people of eternal life to come.

Second, we must differentiate between Islam as a religion, and as a totalitarian/political system. There have been numerous such systems in the history of the world. It has never been wrong to fight against and to resist tyranny and oppressive political structures. And just because the totalitarian system is enmeshed with a religion does not give it a free pass. What would have happened if France had not gone to fight in the famous battle of Tours in 732 A.D.?  What would have happened if Muslim armies had not been opposed in the Battle of Vienna of 1683 A.D.? Put simply, Europe would have been subjugated under the Islamist heel.

Third, although we must love Muslims as individual people who need to hear the Good News, we are not called to love radical Islam. We are nowhere in scripture called to love a system that casually beheads infidels, enslaves women and children, and makes religious minorities into second class citizens under the dhimmi system of control and subjugation.

Fourth, Christians must act and speak as citizens   concerned for the common good, not just our own good. The second great commandment calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Therefore we must speak now against the horrific social injustices, and human rights abuses occurring in far-away places against many different minority peoples and religions.

    Fifth, we have a special duty to love, speak, and act  on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters who face  murder, rape, enslavement and impoverishment just because they are Christians. Yes, we must act—perhaps with money, perhaps by sponsoring refugees, or maybe by contacting our local MP.  We dare not be passive in the face of radically evil acts.

    I have been deeply dismayed at the indifference of many, many Christians in the West to the oppression and horror being experienced by fellow Christians in many places around the world.

For almost seventy years Jewish people have suceeded in preventing another holocaust by remembering over and over, “Never again”, “never again.”

But, it is time for Christian people to recognize they are the “Sunday people”, whose turn has now come.

Yes, let us love Muslim people, let us reach out to them and let us seek to make them our friends.

But, we are not called to love radical Islam. It is not our friend. It must be opposed. This is no time to be passive.  Let us hope  we Christians will not be obliged one day to join our Jewish friends in saying, “Never again” as we contemplate the bloody destruction of our own people.

   Let’s pray we do not get this wrong.

Published, Guelph Mercury, March 7, 2015

 

 

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