Light Doesn’t Hide From Darkness: On Christian Isolationism

DSC01668For the past thirty years, the Religious Right claimed that the US government and liberals are doing all they can to persecute Christians. The rational response is that such persecution does not exist (unless you’re Todd Starnes and just make stuff up). However, since 2001 religious persecution has existed in the United States. Many people, especially right-wing aligned Christians, have done all they could do in order to persecute Muslims. We can recall the controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” that forced developers to abandon their plans. Recently, however, a gun shop owner received praise by proponents on the right for refusing to allow Muslims to enter her store. Her criteria for if someone is a Muslim is if they have an Arab-sounding name. Even Texas’ state representative Molly White forced Muslims to declare allegiance to the United States before they could enter her office.

With recent events, of course, there’s a real reason to fear extreme Islam. After all, though ISIL and Boko Haram weren’t created in vacuums and there’s certainly a cause to their reaction, they are still Islamic-based and it’s worrisome. These are violent groups and we’re right to worry about extremism in any religion (or political ideology). Regardless, does such a concern justify treating all Muslims with disdain?

Leaving aside the political and legal quagmire of discrimination and privately-owned businesses, let us look at how Christians should respond to Muslims (or others). As Christians we of course acknowledge that Islam is wrong, that it is a heresy of Christianity. In fact, it was St. John of Damascus, writing under the Caliphate, that stated Islam was a heresy of Christianity. We do not embrace Islam and find it to be false. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement and such disagreement can create very healthy, interesting, and challenging discussions with Muslim friends. Why, then, do we isolate ourselves?

Sadly, Muslims aren’t the only targets of Christian isolationism. Throughout history many have faced the wrath of Christian isolationism. Martin Luther encouraged the German princes to oust all the Jews from The Holy Roman Empire, even if they converted. At other times it was witches. The Moors faced great persecution in Isabella’s Spain. Even Africans had much to worry about from Christians (even though the Pope declared slavery heretical and was defied by the European powers). Native Americans, American slaves, and many other groups felt the wrath of Christian isolationism, while few Christians stood for the ostracized and brutalized people.

Leaving aside the legal arguments for whether or not someone can or should deny service to another person, let’s look at the Christian perspective. Should a Christian refuse a Muslim – or anyone for that matter – service at his business? A very quick look at Christ’s life gives the obvious answer: No.

One can serve others without partaking in their respective sins or beliefs. After all, Jesus did it quite a bit. He still partook in the Temple gatherings even though the Pharisees dictated the rules. He still attended feasts where sinners were very present. He still drank with prostitutes and laughed with tax collectors. While Jesus did not own a business, he displayed his message in a very clear manner. He also called on Christians to duplicate what he did:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)

The point being Christians are to be a light and to serve others in all instances. How does that work as a business owner? If you deny services to a certain group of people then how are you being a light to them? How are they seeing your light if their only interaction with you is to face rejection?

Matthew 16:18 has Jesus telling Peter that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. The funny thing about gates is that they don’t move, they don’t charge into battle, they just stand still. For gates to prevail means they’re being attacked and pushed against. To not prevail it means that attackers have broken through the gates. For too long Christians have used this passage to justify believing that hell won’t conquer them, but they have it the wrong way around; hell has no choice but to be conquered by the Church. Hells gates stand not because they are properly fortified, but because too many Christians hide away in fear from them and refuse to charge in.

Jesus was a friend to all those who needed it. In Matthew 9 he points out that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. It is after that when he says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” We who claim Christ must acknowledge that we, too, are sinners. That without Christ we are no different than any group we wish to malign; all are lost in darkness and violence.

Christ came to save all. Those of us who have embraced Christ, imperfect though we are, are still called to be light to the darkness. We can’t be light if we seek to segregate ourselves from the darkness. In order for light to matter it must permeate within the darkness. In order for gates to fall they must be attacked by an invading force. And in order to see Muslims come to Christ, they must interact with Christians, and sometimes that includes your place of business.

Contra Cruz or, I Support Israel’s Right to Exist, but I Support My Christian Family More

ChristtraThis is going to be a very long read, so let me go ahead and get the main point out of the way here: Ted Cruz was absolutely, 100% wrong for what he said. In telling persecuted Christians, “If you don’t stand with Israel, I don’t stand with you,” in his capacity as a senator for the United States of America, he effectively told these Christians that unless they give support to Israel, he will do all he can to avoid giving any aid to persecuted Christians.

Could you imagine what would have happened if President Obama said the same thing? He would be (rightfully) attacked by both the Left and the Right. In fact, Cruz has been attacked by both the Left and the Right. When traditionally conservative websites condemn what Cruz said, perhaps it’s best for Cruz to sit back and realize he’s in the wrong.

See, Cruz is a self-proclaimed believer, meaning he was telling his brothers and sisters in Christ that if they don’t support him on a political issue, he doesn’t support them. Now, there are times for Christians to turn against other Christians and those times typically involve some type of heresy. Churches have split over heresies, such as the Divinity of Christ or the Trinity. These divisions are expected and, while harmful, work to preserve the faith. Likewise, there are times to actively work against other self-proclaimed Christians, such as when a majority of German Lutherans supported the Nazis in their pursuit and eradication of the Jewish people (and other people). In these instances, it’s okay to take a stand against another Christian. But on the issue of Israel? None of these Christians are calling for genocide against the Jews and last time I checked one’s stance on the secular state of Israel isn’t a litmus test for pure doctrine, so what is Cruz thinking?  Continue reading

The Trinity, the Incarnation and Divine Love

In striking contrast to the solitary, self-absorbed, impersonal picture of god we see in Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, the distant and uninterested god imagined by Deists, or the utterly transcendent and semi-tyrannical dictator espoused by Islam, Christians have always maintained that God is Love.  St. John so beautifully states this in his first epistle:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (I John 4:7-8)

From this passage we can discern at least three things about the One True God:  (1) that He can be known, (2) that He is personal, and (3) that love is a fundamental aspect of His existence or being.  To fully understand these three things, however, we must take a closer look at the two most important teachings of the Christian faith; namely, the Doctrine of the Trinity and the Doctrine of the Incarnation.

It may strike you as odd that I maintain these doctrines are the most important teachings of the Christian faith; after all, many people today question whether or not it is necessary or even relevant for Christians to believe in the Trinity or the Incarnation.  Some say these doctrines are impractical abstract concepts which have no bearing on everyday life; others suggest that these doctrines are rooted in pagan ideas and simply demonstrate the influence of Greek philosophy on the Early Church Fathers.  As we shall see, both of these assertions are entirely false.  The Trinity and the Incarnation are not only practical but, diametrically opposed to the Greek conception of the Divine Nature.

For, it is when we examine the Trinitarian explication of God’s existence and  look closely at the Incarnation of our Lord that we come to understand what sets Christianity’s vision of the Divine Nature apart from all others.  Only through these doctrines do we see that God is love, and, therefore, both personal and knowable.

The idea that God exists as three distinct persons who share one Divine Nature is absolutely necessary if we wish to maintain that God is both personal and loving.  After all, personhood is, in part, understood through relationships—that is through an individual’s interaction with other rational beings.  If God is the solitary enigmatic figure depicted in other forms of monotheism, we must therefore question whether or not he is personal at allConsider that a perfect being must be complete in and of Himself and must depend upon nothing or no one for its existence.   It stands to reason that if God is a perfect being (as Theists almost universally affirm) His personality must be grounded within Himself and should not be contingent upon the existence of other finite rational agencies.  This, however, presents a problem for non-Christian forms of monotheism that depict God as a monad—that is, as one solitary self absorbed consciousness.   In the absence of other distinct rational agencies it becomes difficult to understand how such a deity could be understood as personal or loving without sacrificing his perfection and transcendence; and this is reflected in their teachings about the Divine Nature.  While they sometimes speak of God as one might speak about a person, their theology unavoidably leads to an unapproachable, disinterested, distant, and fundamentally impersonal Deity.

In contrast, the Doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that God has eternally existed as a plurality of personalities– the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and it is from this that we derive our understanding of God as a personal and loving being while, simultaneously,  maintaining his perfection and transcendence.

It is in virtue of the perfect cooperation which exists between these three distinct personalities that we are able to discern that God is love:  for the Father and the Son, and the Spirit all give of themselves to each other, and work in unity and harmony with each other.  There is no struggle; no conflict.   Everything the Father has he gives to his Son and, likewise, the Spirit shares in everything that is of the Father and of the Son.  From this we learn that the Divine Nature is not narcissistic, self-obsessed and disinterested, but rather, a communion of perfect self-giving—self sacrificing–personalities.  Through this principle of self-giving we come to understand the heart of true love.

We see this beautiful self-giving love spilling out into Creation in the most profound way through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the eternal Word of God by whom all things were created, humbled himself out of love and became a mere Man for our salvation.  Thus, the beloved St. John says: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins” (I John 9-10) . . . and earlier in his epistle he says, “by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us” (i John 3:16).

God’s self-giving love is made known to the world through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the eternal Word of God.  In stark contrast with other monotheisms, Christianity proclaims the God of love—the personal being who, although transcendent and mysterious, sacrifices everything and reveals Himself to us His most treasured creation.

Rethinking Acts 17 and Apologetics

Let me go ahead and beat any commenters to the punch: This post is full of hypocrisy. Hence the ‘rethinking’ part of the title. I’m rethinking how I approach issues and deal with them. So, let me get to the hypocritical part of what I want to say.

Much of modern Christian apologetics is full of pointing out how every other belief in the world is wrong. Much time and effort is spent pointing out how Islam is actually violent by nature, arguing with Muslims over how to interpret their own holy writings. We point out how illogical Eastern thinking is. We do everything can to show why other beliefs are wrong and why our beliefs are right. From a Western mindset, this is simply the logical way of handling things, but I’m not sure it fits with what we see in Scripture.

The favorite go-to verse in Scripture dealing with Apologetics is Acts 17 where Paul confronts the intellects of Athens. It’s the famous passage dealing with the statue to the “Unknown god.” Paul points out who the unknown God is to them, stating that He is Christ and the Creator of everything. By stating exactly who God is, he is automatically implying that the pagan philosophies he’s dealing with (stoicism and epicureanism) are wrong in some regard, but he doesn’t come right out and say that. Instead, he points out where they’re right, but then moves on to complete their beliefs by removing the incompleteness from them.

And that’s where I think we’ve gone wrong. We’re so quick to point out where other religions are wrong that we’re missing the point; they’re not wrong, they’re just incomplete, and in being incomplete they’ve tacked on these certain beliefs in the hopes of completing their religions. A heresy is wrong – being a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon is wrong because it denies an essential aspect of Christ’s nature. But it’s wrong because it’s incomplete and a falsehood has been used to make up for the incompleteness of the religion.

Think of how Paul would address Taoism. In modern apologetics one would simply show how Taoism is illogical and point out the problems with it. But I’m not sure this is the best approach. Take part of the Tao teh Ching, where we read:

There exists a Being undifferentiated and complete, born before heaven and earth. Tranquil, boundless, abiding alone and changing not, encircling everything without exhaustion. Fathomless, it seems to be the Source of all things. I do not know its name, but characterize it as the Tao. Arbitrarily forcing a name upon it, I call it Great.

Now, “tao” in Chinese mens “way” or “path.” In other words, the way is fathomless, the source of all things, is Great, and is eternal. Who does that sound like (hint: John 14:6)? Perhaps the best approach here isn’t to say, “Wrong, Jesus is the way, not the tao!” we should instead say, “Yes, you’re right, let me explain more of this Tao.”

I’m certainly not advocating pluralism or universalism. I’m not saying these other religions are true, merely that they contain truth. One is not “saved” by holding onto aspects of the truth, just as one is not in a relationship with a person by only knowing a few things about the person and never having contact with the person. But knowing a few things about that person sure helps in getting to know him.

Perhaps we should do what Paul did, which is find what we have in common first. Let us find the truth in each religion first and then point this truth out to the adherent. In coming into contact with the truth, they will begin to see how the falsehoods surrounding the truth do not coincide with the truth, they’ll begin to see the contradictions; just as oil cannot mix with water, lies cannot mix with what is true. By allowing the truth to come to the surface, the lies will inevitably be pointed out, opening the door to point them to the Truth.

After all, how effective have Christians been at protesting Islam or holding debates against Rabbis? How much is really gained when people are put on the defensive? It would seem that instead of pointing out what’s wrong, we should first point out what’s right and then go from there. After all, if it’s the Truth we’re after, why not begin with truth?

Can There Be Peace? Israel and Palestine


One of the most polarizing issues facing the world is that of Israel and Palestine. While one can find groups for a middle ground on a number of other issues, the Israeli-Palestinian issue seems to be cut-and-dry. Either one supports Israel in all its actions or one denounces Israel in all its actions and draws attention to the “plight of the Palestinian people.”

What everyone seemingly ignores is that both sides have legitimate claims on the land and subsequently both sides are engaging in genocidal acts and killing innocent civilians to validate their claims. One side calls on the Palestinians to stop their violent acts (and they should), but they don’t voice for the Israelis to stop oppressing the Palestinian people. Even if the Palestinian people stopped supporting violent acts against Israel, they would still be disenfranchised and forced to live in abject poverty.

Likewise, the other side calls on Israel to stop oppressing the Palestinians (and they should), but they don’t voice for the Palestinians to stop launching rockets into population centers or to stop targeting Israeli civilians. Many people on the “pro-Palestinian” side seemingly ignore or even partake in anti-Jew (it’s hard to say anti-Semitic since this would include Palestinians) propaganda. A simple perusal through the multiple Facebook groups and posts finds that the hatred extends beyond the so-called “Israeli Occupation,” but well into simply hating Jews.

It seems that those who support Israel believe the Palestinians should just up and leave, or die. It seems that those who support the Palestinians believe the Jews should just up and leave, or die. We have people who claim that the Palestinians are not really a people because they lack a culture and a language (can I use this same argument on the term “Americans”?), but turn around and you have people denying the Holocaust and saying that Jews don’t deserve to have rights. In the midst of it all, we have Christians denouncing Israel’s actions and taking up their old role of anti-Semitism, saying that the Jews persecute Christians and killed Christ, so why support Israel? Then we have Christians denouncing the Palestinians, declaring all actions of Israel justified as a way of self-preservation. In all of this blind rush to support one side or the other it seems that no one is really seeking actual peace.

What should the Christian position on this issue be? Regardless of how one feels about the Jews having their own nation (and rest-assured, for practical reasons they deserve their own nation; every other nation has persecuted them, so they need a safe-haven), the fact remains that they currently have one and it is currently located in Israel. We don’t need to turn to Biblical prophecy or anything like that to realize that Israel deserves to exist; Biblical prophecy has nothing to do with my beliefs on this (as I really don’t believe the current state of Israel to be a thing of prophecy). Rather, I think the Jews deserve to have their own land and it only makes sense for it to be in Israel, which already had a huge Jewish population in 1948.

Likewise, regardless of how one feels about the Palestinians having their own state (and rest-assured, for practical reasons they deserve their own nation; they’ve been massacred in all other nations they’ve gone to, so they need a safe-haven), the fact remains that they are people without a land and currently live in Israel. We don’t need to turn to Biblical prophecy or anything like that to denounce the existence of the Palestinians. They are people made in the image of God and therefore have certain rights.

So what’s the solution? Is there a middle ground on this issue?

Sadly, I simply don’t see a solution forming in any realistic sense. The idealists on both sides don’t realize that the only way for their solutions to formulate is for genocide to occur (either a complete killing of the Jews or a complete killing of the Palestinians). The Palestinian idealist and the Israeli idealist do share one common trait, and that is that both want to see the other side completely eradicated. For the Christian, this ought to be a far more complicated subject that it is; in short, an honest Christian cannot support the Palestinians or the Israelis. An honest Christian cannot support a system that is predominately run by radical Islamists who have no problem murdering innocent people, including their own people. Even if one admires their ends and their plight, at the point innocent civilians are targeted and treated as combatants, or used as human shields, one simply cannot support such a movement. Likewise, an honest Christian cannot support a secular state that seeks to oppress Christians as well as humans in general who aren’t of a certain ethnicity and religion. If Barak Obama attempted to pass laws in the United States against Christians that have been passed in Israel, there would be rioting and rebellion on the streets tomorrow morning. If we wouldn’t support it here, why should we support it overseas?

Ultimately, I think all political options have failed. I don’t think any amount of diplomacy will fix the problem at this point. Rather, politics has to wait for the cultures to catch up. In other words, the solution has to be found at a grassroots level among a small group of activists who just want peace. It needs to be a group that, instead of blaming one side more than the other, realizes that both sides are full of significant flaws that need to be corrected. Most importantly, they need to speak to their peers and do all they can to convince their peers that peace is far more preferable than continued bloodshed and animosity. Both sides need to find a way to avoid bloodshed and instead take on peaceful acts of civil disobedience; if bloodshed simply cannot be avoided, then it needs to stay between military combatants.

The arguments on both sides of number of Israeli deaths vs. number of Palestinian deaths, or the popular argument of “proportionate response” simply minimize this issue. The loss of life is not some brute and cold calculus that can be used to measure our response to a situation. Whether it is 18 Israelis dead to 100 Palestinians dead or 20 Palestinians dead to 40 Israelis dead, the fact is they’re dead. All military responses are inherently out or proportion to the initial attack – otherwise the military would never win. No war is won by even responses. This is the nature of warfare and why warfare should be avoided unless absolutely necessary; war will progress with disproportionate responses until one side finally says, “Enough,” or until one side is simply eradicated. Thus, to expect a proportioned response is naïve as no military that wants to achieve victory will ever do this. Instead, we need to cast aside our superfluous calculus and simply recognize that both sides are living in terror and both sides are mourning the loss of innocent loved ones.

As a Christian, I do believe that the Jews are God’s chosen people (for a more nuanced view of this, go here), but that doesn’t mean I need to support everything Israel does. Why should I support everything Israel does (a secular nation I might add, thus casting quite a bit of doubt that Israel fulfills any prophecy) when nowhere in the Bible do we find God supporting everything Israel does? Along the same lines, as a Christian I believe that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore should not be oppressed, but that doesn’t mean I should support the Palestinians in their actions against innocent civilians.

Thus, the Christian position is one that is ultimately one of non-support, but condemnation to both sides. I believe the Palestinians are made in God’s image. No amount of prophecy (or misinterpretations of Scripture), however, can convince me that God somehow wants them all wiped out or moved from the land of Israel. Such a belief is antithetical to the Gospel. At the same time, I believe the Jews are also made in God’s image. No amount of support for the oppressed, however, can convince me that the Palestinians are somehow justified in launching rockets into Israel or that all the Jews should be relocated. Again, such a belief is antithetical to the Gospel.

I do hope that one day there is peace. I hope one day the wall in Israel can be brought down, not for the sake of being brought down, but because there is no need for it. I hope one day to see two nations, not brokered by UN charters with UN “peacekeepers” at the border, but put together by both societies in a peaceful manner. I hope that one-day disputes over land are settled through negotiations and maybe even competitive trade, not through suicide attacks and helicopter gunships. Ultimately, I hope for peace, but this may just be a fool’s hope.

They’re not anti-religion, they’re anti-Christian

When was the last time you read an op-ed in a famous newspaper talking about the evils of Buddhism? How about a major paper covering the rampant persecution of Christians by Muslims and secularists? We are told about how religion is evil, yet when asked for examples the examples are solely Christian; the Crusades, the Protestant/Catholic wars, and somehow the Holocaust finds its way in there (though it wasn’t a Christian cause). We hardly ever hear about how violent many Hindus are in India, nor do we hear about the multiple religious wars that have been fought around the world where Christianity was hardly involved. Nor do we hear about the exploits of secular societies that attempted to purge religion in violent fashion. Think of what Che Guevara did in Cuba, or Stalin in Russia, or Mao in China. Yet, the moment a Christian leader says something off-kilter, we immediately hear about it all over the news.

Imagine for a second that the Pope called for the eradication of all mosques in Europe. Or imagine that Richard Land or a high-ranking evangelical in America said that we should burn all mosques in America to the ground. Certainly there would be outrage over such a declaration, and such outrage would be justifiable. We can think of how one pastor of a congregation of hardly 100 people threatened to burn the Qur’an, it gained national attention to the point that the President was commenting on it and those in the administration were contacting the man asking him not to do what he was threatening to do.

I must ask, then, where is the national outcry when grand mufti, the biggest spokesperson for Islam, calls for the destruction of all Christian churches in the Arabian peninsula. When former presidential candidate Herman Cain said that Americans had the Constitutional right to ban mosques (they don’t), the nation went into an uproar. When the biggest voice in the Muslim world says that Christian churches should be eradicated in the Middle East, the Western media simply ignores it. Why is this?

One can put forth a few theories as to why:

  1. The media is deathly afraid of offending Muslims – why are they afraid? Certainly it’s not because they want to be tolerant. The media has no problem offending Christians (example: ABC’s new show Good Christian Bitches) or making jokes about religion in general. Rather, they’re afraid of death threats, rioting, and the like. Yet, they’ll go on to say that Islam is peaceful, but then cower in fear anytime the opportunity arises to criticize the actions or deeds of individual Muslims. However, I’m not quite sure that this is completely the reason.
  2. The media feels Muslims are the underdog, so why pick on them? Islam is a minority belief in the United States whereas Christianity is the majority belief (statistically). There is something in the mind of most Americans that it’s okay to pick on the majority, but not on the minority; this is why we tend to root for the underdog in sporting competitions. The media might have sympathy towards Muslims since they are the underdog in America. But this theory only goes so far. After all, white supremacists are underdogs as well, but no one shows them any sympathy. The type of Islam that is truly in the minority is the one that oppresses women, shows complete disregard for its own people, and so on, so certainly our journalists would recognize that this type of Islam is in the minority for a reason.
  3. The media simply has a bias against Christianity. Having been raised in America, they’ve come to hate Christianity or at least be annoyed by it. Thus, some of the more moderate ones simply don’t care enough to look into stories where Christians are suffering because it doesn’t resonate with them; they were hurt by Christians, so how can Christians suffer? Some of the more radical elements look at what is going on in Saudi Arabia and hope for a time where we can do the same thing here.

I could go on, but I think it should be apparent to the casual observer that in most mainstream media presentations, Christianity is viewed as typically in the wrong. We are called to be tolerant of all other religions except Christianity. It’s anti-semitism to say anything about Judaism, it’s “islamophobia” to speak ill against Islam, it’s bigotry to put down Hinduism, it’s anti-intellectual to argue against Buddhism, and it’s irrational to disavow atheism; but it’s perfectly chice and fashionable to bash Christianity. Thus, is it any surprise that the media is ignoring the plight of Christians around the world?

Continue reading

A Few Things to Remember on 9/11

The event and memories of 9/11 leave Christians in a difficult position. On one hand, we are called to respect our government and pray for our leaders, meaning we pray for the security of this nation and all actions that work to secure that security. We should pray for victory in Afghanistan and that the Lord would protect our servicemen. At the same time, we are called to make disciples of all nations and to display love towards our enemies, both of which would include the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban (and Al Queda). Thus, Christians are left praying for the victory of the nation, but also praying that Christ would redeem the Taliban and our opponents. Were the members of the Taliban to come to Christ tomorrow, it would be better than if all of them were to be killed; a friend gained is better than an enemy killed.

I think of the quote from St. Clement of Rome, where he wrote to the Corinthians,

“Love binds us fast to God. Love casts a veil over sins innumerable. There are no limits to love’s endurance, no end to its patience. Love is without servility, as it is without arrogance. Love knows of no divisions, promotes no discord; all the works of love are done in perfect fellowship.”

When reflecting on 9/11 we shouldn’t have images of revenge or wish for the death of our enemies. Instead, we should seek opportunities to help those who were deeply affected by the events of 9/11. We should find ways to reach out to our enemy and while praying for our military’s victory, pray even more that our enemy should come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is not an attempt to over-spiritualize, but rather a very practical view; how could the Taliban and Al Queda kill our soldiers or bring violence to our shores if they were wrapped up in the love of Christ?

There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of families who were impacted by 9/11. These are people we should be there for and pray for. But let us not lash out at people in our emotion. Rather than burning Qur’ans, why not open them up and read them (and subsequently expose the falsity of Islam)? Instead of condemning Muslims or feeling they are the enemy, why not invite them over for dinner (if they are open) or find a way to befriend them? The most powerful weapon Christians have is that of Trinitarian love, which conquers all. Ultimately, while our nation fights terrorists in far-away lands, at home we must constantly keep in mind that those who are Muslims are not our enemies, but rather slaves to a religious system. They are co-image bearers who are in chains to the Devil, as are all who do not have a relationship with Christ. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12,

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

On 9/11, let us remember such a passage. Let us reflect on the tragedy that was brought to our shores. Let us be there for those who lost someone on 9/11. Let us not take out our pain and emotions on Muslims, even if they support the actions of 9/11. Overall, let us be a beacon in the darkness of this world, an oasis of love in tumultuous desert of this loveless world. Let us display the love of Christ to friend and foe so that we might win both to Christ and receive our eternal reward.

Let us reflect and apply the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch in his epistle to the Ephesians:

“Regarding the rest of mankind, you should pray for them unceasingly, for we can always hope that repentance may enable them to find their way to God. Give them a chance to learn from you, or at all events from the way you act. Meet their animosity with mildness, their high words with humility, and their abuse with your prayers. But stand firm against their errors, and if they grow violence, be gentle instead of wanting to pay them back in their own coin…so that in this way non of the devil’s noxious weeds my take root among you, but you may rest in Jesus Christ in all sanctity and discipline of body and soul.”