Paris and Beyond
It seems the entire world has now arrayed itself against ISIS, a relatively small group of zealots who welcome the opposition. Do they represent the death throes of a distorted theology or the beginning of yet another long-term ideological conflict? Post-Christian Europe can muster a police response but no real ideology to counter its attackers. As a German friend told me, "We are baffled by people willing to blow themselves up for a cause in which they believe. Most of us find it difficult to articulate what we are living for, much less what we might be willing to die for."
Jesus came as God's messenger of love, and chose to serve rather than to dominate, to die rather than to kill. Such a time as this calls for a vigorous faith from his followers, "communities of engaged nonconformity."
Can we respect and dignify the majority of Muslims while simultaneously striving to root out the extremist minority? Can we resist the temptation toward vigilantism and prejudice against all Muslims? Can we not only accept them as neighbors but love them, as Jesus commanded? Can we live in a way that demonstrates to the Muslim world that "the Christian West" does not equal decadence, just as "the Muslim world" does not equal extremism? Can we maintain our cherished values of freedom and justice while under assault from forces that undermine them?
ISIS has proved how a dedicated minority of zealots can disrupt the world. What can Christians do to show the troubled world another, better way?
Philip Yancey is the author of many books, including Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church. This essay was posted on his blog site on November 28, 2015.
Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Books & Culture magazine.
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