The thing that drives Islamic terrorism is easy to understand. You don’t have to take a lot of case histories. You don’t have to read the whole Koran. You only need to know your own heart and the basic reality of life on earth in order to grasp it. Why our leaders and media experts in the West don’t seem to understand it, now that’s a thing which requires a bit more explaining!
At the deepest level imaginable the terrorists are themselves terrorized. A dreadful and unrelenting fear torments them: They thoroughly believe that God is holy and just; that they are separated from Him, sin prone, and need His mercy; that there is a next life which goes on forever; and that there is, therefore, a heaven to gain and a hell to avoid at all costs. Quite naturally, they fear displeasing God and going to hell! This much is based on reality. Unfortunately, the wrong answers they have been given for relieving their deepest fears fuel all the hatred and violence.
Of all people we Christians should understand this best! We, too, know that the stakes in life are incredibly high: There really is a God who is holy and just; there truly is a heaven to gain and a hell of unimaginable torment to avoid. Everything depends upon somehow pleasing God. Fortunately for us, we have been given the right answers. It’s not about doing things to please God so He won’t throw us into hell, but trusting that He loves us so much that He made a way to save us through the death of His Son, Jesus. We don’t have to kill someone so we can get to heaven. God already did that. No further sacrifice is needed. But our beliefs are not held by the majority!
Since a secular worldview dominates our media and is embraced by the intellectual elite of the West, we need to understand why they don’t understand the jihadists. Atheists, secular humanists, agnostics and even many nominal Christians don’t believe in heaven and hell. They are, therefore, “blissfully ignorant” of the eternal spiritual realities which surround them (for the time being). They can’t even imagine that thoughts about heaven and hell could have life-controlling power over anyone. This life on earth is all there is! Naturally, they want us all to get along and can’t understand why anyone would want to sacrifice their hope of happiness in this life to gain the next.
Being completely out of touch with genuine spiritual reality, they come up with all kinds of fanciful explanations for what’s driving Islamic terrorism. Even Christians (who should know better) seem caught up in spinning theories that have no more substance than cotton candy. It is widely stated that they hate freedom, or hate our freedoms. That’s not it at all! They love their own freedom and (above all) they want freedom to kill us. Others imagine they’re jealous of what we have in the West (No, they see us as enemies of Allah). Still others believe that they want to take the world back to the way it was in the sixth century. (And give up their cell phones? I think not!).
Many call Islamic terrorists barbarians and psychopaths. Yet, there is a logic and rationale to why they do what they do. The jihadists accurately suspect the fundamental realities that surround us all (holy God, our sins, heaven and heal), are scared out of their wits, and want to have an answer for it. They believe that Allah sent Mohammad to show them the right answer which he did through the Koran. From their point of view, their only hope of gaining heaven and escaping the flames of hell is to do what Allah wants them to do. This makes perfect sense. If Mohammad was right and if everything they believe about Mohammad is right, then they have a moral duty to obey. Islam, after all, means “submission”: obedience to the will of Allah.
Short of annihilation, there are only two ways out of this kind of captivity to spiritual darkness. Either they could be shown that Mohammad was not right in what he taught about God; or they could be shown that their interpretation of Mohammad’s writings is not right. The former is the job of Christian missionaries; the latter, that of other Muslims. If Mohammad really had known the truth about the true God, he would have embraced Jesus as his Savior. His followers still can. It’s our job to pray and work for their conversion: They truly are in the dark.
On the other hand, only those who believe in the Koran and practice it in love, can have any hope of reaching those who believe in it and practice it with a vengeance. If radical Muslims can be shown that their interpretation of the Koran is mistaken, then their fears might be tempered. But who is making this case successfully? They certainly won’t listen to the rest of us. It’s going to take people on the inside to rise up and show how their holy book has been hijacked (if indeed it has been).
Personally, I don’t hold much hope for the latter path. The terrorists have had their religious fears awakened; only the true gospel can bring them the peace they need and which we need them to have. Even if a compelling case can be made that the terrorists aren’t reading Mohammad correctly, they are well disposed to kill as heretics fellow Muslims who don’t agree with them. The good Islamic world is being crushed by the terrorists, just as the “good” Germans were successfully crushed and silenced by the Nazis. I don’t think it would be wise for us to hold our collective breath waiting for Islam to cleanse itself of terror.
So we are back to war and prayers for conversion. We could wish for the world to be different than it is, but in the meantime, let’s do our best to live with eyes wide open to fundamental realities!
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