Is war a path to peace?

APTOPIX_Germany_Franc_Jana_t630The news of terrorism in Paris, France, this past week, has taken many people on an emotional roller coaster.  What do we make of all this violence and killing in Paris? All sorts of questions have been rolling through my mind. Will it happen in other free cities in the world?

In our feelings of sadness and anger, we might have feelings and thoughts like, “Should we blow up ISIS/ISIL  till kingdom come?”… or would that just create more hurt in the world?  Back when the Twin Towers came down in NYC, I remember having similar feelings–that if we should cower and absorb the blow of the enemy, we’d be weak and cowardly.

In the midst of our turmoil, yes, we need to “do something,” but yet, I feel that we also need to take a step back.  I, for one, feel the pain of the innocent 129 people in Paris who were murdered  (…and yes, it’s easy for me to say this because I was not personally affected.)  I also feel the shame for my non-Christian friends (including Muslims) who hate what happened in France. Moreover, what confuses and shakes me up is when I hear that a few of these young terrorists were homegrown in the west. That really makes me wonder “Why?!”

Nevertheless, the threat of ISIL is very real. These ideologically-driven terrorists are actually out to wipe out and decimate western (and Christian) civilization.  We do need to defend ourselves with diligence.  We do need to raise our shields in self-defence against the forces out to hurt and kill innocent people.

As people who are in Christ Jesus, we can recall what our Lord and Saviour said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (Gospel of Matthew, ch. 5, verses 38-45, Holy Bible)

This passage has always irked me, especially when I feel personally hurt by enemies. Now when we are collectively feeling the pain of death, Jesus’ statement above is never easy to accept.

I don’t believe in pacifism; but nor do I believe that revenge-based, eye-for-eye retaliation can solve the world’s problems of terrorism.

Who is the enemy behind the enemy here?  I would point to the evil one, the devil. The Spirit of evil One in the world wants all people to continue living in ignorance, confusion, hate, and division.

We can pray on several fronts: 1) for ourselves, that we will not be driven by fear and anger; and, 2) for our enemies who seek to hurt innocent people, that they may come to experience the love of God in their own lives.  People who seek power and control will mis-believe that controlling others through war and violence is the way to peace and unity. It is not!  Humanity has done this for ages in the name of religion and world peace (including Roman emperors, the Crusaders, dictators like Hitler and Pol Pot, and now, radical Islamic terrorists).

Ultimately, only the Spirit of God, and forgiveness through Christ Jesus, can bring true peace, unity and love into the lives of people in the world.

Is Islam in a siege mentality?

It’s a theory but Islam may be stuck in a siege mentality.  Religions, cultures, and societies can develop a siege mentality.   When sociological groups of peoples, cultures, religions or societies believe itself to be constantly attacked, oppressed or isolated, they retreat inward or fight for survival.   Islam has felt like a defeated underdog for centuries and has a hard time to forget.

Since 9-11 and the war on Iraq, perhaps Islam has been reminded of such emotions on a societal level.  It has felt defeated since… and perhaps ever since the crusaders defeated the Islamic empires in the 12th century (watch 1300 Years of Islamic History below).  The war between the crusaders and Islamic empires were bloody and violent.  The crusaders ended up pillaging and destroying the Islamic empire and relinquished the Holy Land and Jerusalem from the hands of the Islamic Empire–but in the end, shed a lot of blood.  It’s nothing Christians are proud of.  But I wonder and ask myself the question, “What if the west did not do anything in retaliation after 9-11?”

Islam does have a dark and evil past.  Its historic Middle Eastern caliphates eventually morphed into other caliphates and empires.  The former Christian church of Asia Minor (of New Testament times) (which is modern-day Turkey) was eliminated by bloody violent force and was forcibly wiped-out by Islam. These were historic cities of the Church mentioned in the New Testament: Antioch, Thessalonica, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Philadelphia, Tarsus, Laodicea, etc.  However, we as Christians haven’t develop a siege mentality, or at least we’ve already moved past our loss centuries ago and made new history.  But not so with radical Islam. ISIS has been arrogant enough to verbally threaten to attack Rome one day and take over the Vatican.  This is not the first time Islam has tried to dominate the world and destroy Christianity.  Where are we supposed to go from here?  As Christians, we don’t want to provoke violence, and are called to love our neighbor.  But what do we do when our neighbors don’t reciprocate love for their neighbors?

Islamic goal of a worldwide caliphate

assyrian-christiansThe caliphate, or a worldwide Islamic kingdom and rule on earth is the ultimate goal of ISIS.  This is the reason for its violent extremism that seeks to dominate the world using political and military strength.   Already over 1.6 million Syrians (mostly Christians) have been kicked out of their homeland of Syria by ISIS.  Recently, ISIS captured Assyrian Christians and tried to convert them to Islam through force (read full article here), reports the Christian Post.  My heart cries out to these Christian bros. and sisters of Syria.

Two of the 200-plus Assyrian hostages kidnapped by the Islamic State during an assault on Christian villages along Syria’s Khabur River in February have provided insight into their abduction in recent interviews where one revealed that the ISIS militants tried to force the Christian hostages to convert to Islam, but the captives boldly refused.

On Feb. 23, the terrorist group raided approximately 35 different Christian villages in the Hasakah province and abducted somewhere between 263 to 373 men, women and children, according to the Assyrian International News Agency. But about a week after the raids, ISIS released a handful of hostages on March 1.

Since it is ISIS’s goal of forming a worldwide caliphate (Islamic kingdom), shouldn’t we all have something to fear?  What’s the solution–use of force in self-defense or evangelism?

Terrorist group ISIS murder Egyptian Christians

ISIS killing EgyptiansEgypt is another country that has joined the fight against the violent extremist terrorist organization, ISIS.  This terrorist organization has just beheaded twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christian migrant workers in Libya on a beach in cold-blood (news here).  This is an indication that they’re terrorizing threats are real and sadistic and void of any sense of fairness or mercy.

This sadistic incident will cause many level-headed citizens around the world, and all Christians, to wonder if Islam is truly a peaceful religion.  All though I am a devoted Christian, I want to believe that Islam is a peaceful religion, but acts like these give me doubt.  I grew up in a multicultural environment in Canada, and had Muslim friends and neighbors.  It gave me an appreciation for all religions, and I want to continue believing that there is good in Islam; however, today, this expression of radicalized Islam sure hasn’t given me a good impression.  Increasingly each day, more peace-loving people will lose trust in Islam as an inherently good religion.  Peaceful Muslims need to help and speak up against ISIS!

Nevertheless, whether this was religiously-, culturally- or politically-motivated makes little difference if this sadistic terrorist activity is not taken seriously by all western nations.  In the history of pre-WW II days, many western nations took too long before they stepped in to intervene against Hitler’s Nazism in Germany.  So if there is something that we can learn from history, it is that “hiding our head in the sand” is not a viable solution.  ISIS is a very dangerous force that plans to intentionally intimidate surrounding nations. They made claims that Rome is on their target. What an arrogant claim.

Nations from every continent all have something valuable at stake—their religious, social, and economic freedoms.  Japan did not play into ISIS’ demand for $200 million.  Most recently, Denmark, was attacked by young Islamic terrorists who killed a number of people.  They targeted a Jewish synagogue that was having a Bar-Mitzvah, and also a cafe that was hosting a meeting on freedom of expression.  Very tragic

Today, Jews and all free peoples who value our beloved liberties are targets.  I wonder how many countries will come together and how soon will it take for these nations to realize that this dangerous reality should be taken seriously with real force?