You are not to say, “It is a conspiracy!” in regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread (Isaiah 8:12-13).
In the dualistic world of American evangelicalism, every single thing falls into one of two compartments and is forever separated and insulated from the things in the other compartment. The two compartments are the “spiritual” and the “worldly.” So impregnably insulated they are that each compartment has its own set of ethical and operational principles which can not be applied to the other compartment. In fact, not only the ethical and operational principles are different, but the epistemological as well: the American evangelical turns to one source – supposedly the Bible – to learn the spiritual truths of life, and then turns to a different source to learn the worldly truths of life – usually to the “conservative” media and the political platform of the Republican Party. Sometimes, when this dualism threatens to create schizophrenia too complex for his mind to endure – e.g. when the Republican agenda or the government’s policy are a little too uncomfortably opposed to the Biblical message – evangelical celebrities bring up Biblical verses out of context to justify that agenda or policy. But even then, the “worldly” is left to the world powers, and the division is strictly maintained.
Salvation, redemption, and sanctification, for example, are strictly “spiritual.” They only affect the soul and spirit of the individual man and have nothing to do with his social activities or with the economics or government of his society. Well, may be they can be applied in a limited way to his family or his church, but that’s about it. The wall of separation protects the activities and policies of the world – and especially of the civil government – from any interference by Christ’s salvation, redemption or sanctification. Individual salvation – which is called “the gospel” by modern evangelicalism – can’t be allowed to have any influence on justice and righteousness of the society in general. On the other hand, courts, legislation, foreign policy, taxation, education, the economy, and many other things are strictly “worldly” and shouldn’t even mentioned in sermons (except as abstract parables) or in “preaching the gospel.” Neither should we ever try to find the spiritual principles for those in the Bible; these issues are secondary, unimportant, and in general morally neutral. They should be left to the world, and more properly to the civil government to decide according to principles that certainly are not found in the Bible.
I said “evangelicalism,” but the same applies to the modern American Reformed churches as well. Dualism has replaced Biblical Christianity as the dominant operational faith in almost every church, denomination, and seminary in the US. The only difference is that the Reformed seminaries have constructed a neat rhetoric to justify their dualism: the Two Kingdoms Theology. The broadly evangelical crowd is still lagging behind in codifying their dualism into a systematic rhetoric.
Terrorism, as a theoretical issue and a practical social problem in our society, is one of those issues that fall entirely in the “worldly” box. Its definition and analysis are left to the political pundits who, by default, never look at the spiritual nature and roots of terrorism. It is either treated as just another crime against the state, or declared part of Samuel P. Huntington’s inevitable “clash of civilizations.”1 The solutions, therefore, are left to the political elite and its standing armies of the military, police, espionage agencies, and immigration services. The assumption is that since the function of the civil government is to “provide safety,” therefore the political elite controlling that government can be trusted to “solve the problem of terrorism.” Of course, that elite is quick to propose and carry out the only solution it ever has to anything: war.
What has been missing is a Biblical analysis of terrorism, and therefore Biblical solutions to it. An analysis which would look at terrorism, terrorists, their motivation and their tactics and strategy from a covenantal perspective, that is, ethical/judicial perspective. An analysis which would take in account individual men and their self-conscious moral commitments; individual men on both sides of the dividing line – both those who commit terrorist acts and those who are their victims and, more importantly, their “target audience.” An analysis which would look at man in his covenantal standing before God – created, fallen, and regenerate or unregenerate – and through this understanding of man try to understand his culture and his civilizations. An analysis which would take the Biblical concept of civil government as a limited reactive judiciary over against the modern neo-pagan concept of civil government as a quazi-divine pro-active executive, and apply the dichotomy between the two to understanding the nature, origin, and solutions to terrorism. An analysis which would place terrorism – and especially Islamic terrorism – against the backdrop of redemptive history between the first and the second comings of Christ, and apply the demands and the power of the Gospel of Christ to both our thinking and our action concerning terrorism.
Such analysis has been missing, and therefore Biblical solutions have been missing. And the fault for it lies with the church and its churchian celebrities who for over a century have been preaching a dualistic religion in the name of Christ, one that separates God’s redemption from God’s creation and from man’s society, giving powerful men the opportunity to play gods on earth. But self-deified men and self-deified institutions never solve problems, and never win wars. In the end, they destroy themselves and everyone who follows them. And if the “war of terrorism” continues without any hope for victory, and if we are less safe than we have been before – and more enslaved – it is because we as Christians have dropped the ball.
It’s time to pick it up, and go back for answers to where every Christian should go by default: the Word of God.
Terrorism as “Evangelism”
Our analysis must start with the obvious observation that terrorism is not just a regular crime. It is true that terrorism involves committing crimes: murder and arson (bombing) are the most common crimes committed in terrorist acts. But these crimes per se are not the essence of terrorism, and the terrorist is not a regular criminal. A regular criminal commits a crime because he is seeking personal advantage or satisfying a personal passion: a burglar wants to enrich himself with the goods of another person, a false witness wants to gain judicial advantage for himself or for his party in court, and a murderer wants to satisfy his hatred or perhaps also to gain economic or other advantage through the death of his victim. At the end, a regular criminal wants to be better off – personally – than he was before the crime. For this reason a criminal would do everything to avoid justice for his crimes – for justice would place him in a worse position than before the crime and thus will destroy the very purpose for the crime. A criminal, therefore, wants to commit his crimes in secret, away from the public eye as far as this is possible. A thief is expected to act at night (Ex. 22:2; Job 24:14; Matt 24:43; etc.) A murderer would like to suppress the evidence for his murder, and avoid punishment, if possible. It is for this reason witnesses (Deut. 17:6) and investigation (Deut. 17:4) are so important in the work of the courts: a criminal is not expected to willingly supply evidence for his crime.2
This, obviously, is not true about the terrorist. Unlike the criminal, the terrorist wants his acts to be public, to impress as many people as possible and become global news. As a rule, a terrorist – especially the Islamic type – doesn’t try to escape; he continues murdering and destroying until he can do it no more and then he is either killed or turns his weapons on himself. In the case of suicide bombers, self-immolation is an integral part of the act itself. After an act is committed, terrorist organizations usually trip over each other to “claim responsibility for the attack,” even when such “responsibility” is rather dubious. Criminals prefer to remain in the shadows; terrorists openly claim responsibility. Thus, terrorism is not just a crime like the other crimes.
Neither is terrorism warfare, modern popular mythology notwithstanding. Warfare in all its forms has as its strategic aim the capture of resources; and therefore the tactical methods of warfare are designed to achieve the lowest relative expense of resources for the highest relative damage on the enemy, or the highest relative capture of resources. The type of warfare that is the closest to terrorism, guerrilla warfare, is marked by a very high focus on preserving one’s resources – especially human resources – while inflicting disproportional damage on the opponent. The strategic goal is to deny the opponent the easy and cheap use of his resources, and thus make him less capable of waging war.
The terrorist is seldom concerned about such strategic and tactical considerations; the relative balance of resource expense and loss is almost never in favor of the terrorist. In terms of human resources, the supply of willing self-immolators is rarely abundant; in terms of material resources, there is never a return on the “investment.” The real damage in terms of loss of human lives and material destruction is seldom significant enough to cause major disruption in the life of the civilization. While in real warfare successful operations are repeated as often as possible, for they bring an ever more favorable balance of resources for the successful side, a terrorist organization can’t afford to repeat the same operation many times; it will deplete its resources without making a dent in the culture and the life of its enemies. So terrorism is not warfare – at least not in the classical sense of this word.
Neither is terrorism simply acts of madmen devoid of any rationality. To the contrary, terrorist organizations are usually manned by men quite rational and intelligent, who are passionate about their beliefs and good psychologists. A man with mental issues who kills people driven by his madness doesn’t try to send out a coherent message nor convince his victims to do something. For such a person, other humans simply don’t exist, or at least, don’t exist as persons to whom any message can be sent. For a terrorist, to the contrary, people exist as personalities, and they are very real; in fact, without a very thorough understanding of individual and collective psychology, terrorism won’t work at all. A madman is seldom focused on anything else but his own issues. A terrorist – or at least an ideologue of terror – must understand people very well.
The motivation of the terrorist and his ultimate goal is this: sending out a message. The murders, the destruction, the spending of resources and even the sacrifice of his own life are all directed not to his immediate victims but to a broader audience. He knows that his message is at best peripheral to the world and life of that broader audience; if he was to use the conventional methods of “preaching” his message, he would be just a small person standing on a corner of a vast universe. He lacks the resources to capture a significant part of the media market and make his message mainstream. His message is morally and intellectually inferior to all other ideas in the marketplace of ideas. He is short on time: the more time goes by, the less relevant his message is to that broader audience, and his conventional preaching can’t catch up with the course of history. What he needs is a “marketing campaign” for his idea, a stunt that will make people listen to it. And since the ethical standards behind his message do not condemn murder, arson, or suicide – and even encourage them – his decision is to commit public crimes to make his message heard.
In essence, therefore, terrorism is the perverse counterpart of Christian evangelism. Both the Christian and the terrorist have a message to the world, a “gospel.” Both messages are religious and ethical, that is, they have to do with commitment to ultimate principles and standards for good and evil. Both the Christian and the terrorist are willing to spend their resources and lay down their lives for their message. The difference comes in their belief about the judgment that confirms the message: The Christian leaves that judgment to God, the only Judge. The terrorist believes his message makes him quazi-divine and therefore he takes upon himself to administer judgment in order to make his message heard. The Christian prays to God to change people’s minds to accept the Gospel without punishing them (Luke 9:54-56; 23:34). The terrorist administers his judgment as part of his message.
This point may seem trivial to some but it is of an utmost importance for our analysis of the situation and specifically the solutions to it. If terrorism is not an ordinary crime, not warfare, and not simply the chaotic work of madmen, then all the modern attempts at solution of the problem with terrorism are doomed to fail. Of all people, we as Christians should know best that a message, an idea, a “gospel” is not stopped by government intervention. Sending more troops half-way across the world will increase government spending but won’t stop terrorism; terrorism is not warfare and therefore warfare won’t kill it. Giving more power to law enforcement institutions here at home will destroy our liberties but it won’t stop terrorism: terrorism is not an ordinary crime. Psychological profiling of people won’t stop terrorism: terrorism is not a mental deviation, and terrorists are just as sane as everyone else. These measures will only increase the risk of terrorism, they will deprive us of our liberties, but they won’t achieve their goal. Because an idea, a message, a “gospel” is not stopped by government action.
The only way to stop a “gospel” from being preached is through a superior “gospel,” one which will make the target audience resistant enough to make the efforts of the preachers useless. When the “preaching” doesn’t work but instead produces the opposite effect in the “listeners,” then the “preacher” will be forced to review his methods.
Which should lead us to the next conclusion: If terrorism is on the rise despite the war on terrorism, then we are doing something to encourage terrorists rather than discourage them. That is, there is something in our collective reaction to terrorism which the terrorists assess as “success.” We are obviously not only taking their “gospel,” we are submitting to it in a way. What we think is “solutions” – more military interventions and more power to the government at home – is apparently fuel in the fire of terrorism. If the “evangelism” of terror continues, then this must be because its target audience is submitting to the “message.” And unless we stop submitting, there will be no end to it.
In order to stop submitting, we need to understand what we are submitting to in our reactions to terrorism. And what we are submitting to is fear.
The Worship of Fear
Fear is ubiquitous in the world after the Fall. Whether we are dealing with terrorism or with anything else – crime, the economy, the family, the church, education, etc. – we are always dealing with some form or version of fear. Based on Biblical evidence, fear is the most powerful psychological and moral motivator, twice as powerful as love, which is the second most powerful motivator (about 1,400 instances of “fear,” “dread,” “terror,” or similar words compared to about 700 instances of “love” and “charity”). Between fear and love, it is only expected that fear will be more powerful when we are talking about fallen human beings: love requires a certain level of self-negation and sacrifice (1 Cor. 13:5), while fear is entirely motivated by self-preservation. It was the first recorded emotion of human beings after the Fall (Gen. 3:10), and it remained a major emotional factor in their behavior throughout the whole Bible. As a matter of fact, even though we don’t have a specific record of fear before the Fall, God’s warning in Gen. 2:17 seems to indicate that God used some form of fear as a motivator even before the Fall.
Expectedly, with human nature changed after the Fall, the threat of negative sanctions was put to an even greater use. While God obviously prefers that our commitment to Him be based on the positive motives of faith, hope, and love, His admonitions to His redeemed people are never unbalanced in favor of only positive emotions. The Second and the Third Commandments given from Mount Sinai specifically declared the threat of sanctions for idolatry and the use of God’s name in vain (before a positive promise was given in the Fifth); and in general, the very manner of giving the Decalogue was calculated to produce fear in the hearts of the listeners (Ex. 20:18-21). The chapter which states the “greatest commandment” according to Jesus, Deut. 6 (see v. 5), ends with the admonition to “fear the Lord” (v. 25), and then the next chapter is devoted to giving a good foundation for that fear in God’s promised negative sanctions for disobedience. That fear is a more powerful motivator than any positive emotions is also clear in the fact that in Deut. 28, the list of negative covenantal sanctions (vv. 15-68) is four times as long as the list of positive promises (vv. 1-14). Wisdom itself is defined – multiple times – as “fear of the Lord” (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 9:10; 15:33; Job 28:28; Prov. 15:33; Micah 6:9).
None of this is to mean that fear is sufficient and that love is not a needed motivator and emotion. To the contrary, even though fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, we also see that God pushes His people to adopt love as their chief motivator. Jesus declared the greatest commandments to be “You shall love your God” (Matt. 22:38), and traces true obedience back not to fear but to love (John 14:15; 15:10). John repeats the same principle in his epistles (1 John 5:2, 3), and adds that “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18), because “God is love.” The Apostle Paul makes love his most “excellent way” (1 Cor. 12-13). So while God takes in account man’s depraved nature and makes a lawful use of fear as an appeal to man’s selfish heart, He doesn’t want the redeemed man to be driven primarily by selfishness and therefore fear. As Joel McDurmon describes the problem with fear as a motivator:
From just these two quotations we can understand the relationships between Law and love, and Law and fear. Both have a relationship, but each reveals a particular spiritual orientation. When we serve God merely out of fear of punishment, we are self-oriented – concerned with only what will become of us – and thus we do not really serve Him. This is a stance of autonomy, for we are most concerned with our own well-being. But any autonomous standard is a humanistic standard, and this has consequences. . . . In short, those who live in fear will become servants of fear.3
There’s also a darker side of fear. There is godly fear, but there is also ungodly fear: fear of men, and fear of idols. And if God wills that even the godly form of fear – which still appeals to the selfishness of man – diminish as a factor in the life of His redeemed people, how much less will He tolerate ungodly fear. In one form or another, the command “Do not fear” is the most frequently used single command in Scripture, even more than the command “Have faith.” The importance of this command is emphasized by the fact that the list of those whose fate is the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8) starts with the cowardly and the unbelieving. And no wonder, since ungodly fear is directly related to lack of faith. For example, the motive for the Israelites to refuse to enter the land was fear (Num. 14:9), and yet, the author of Hebrews interprets it as lack of faith (Heb. 4:2). Jesus also contrasts faith to fear in several places (Matt. 8:26; Mark. 5:36; Luke 8:50; etc.). Thus, if the righteous shall live by faith (Hab. 2:44; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), then the reprobate shall die by fear; and indeed, our salvation is described as being freed from the bondage of fear (Heb. 2:15).
Fear, then, is not simply an emotion, it is a religious sentiment, a form of worship, or may be even the essence of worship itself. Whether we admit it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, we worship the things we fear. No wonder fear of anything else but God is forbidden, and no wonder it is the most frequently mentioned command: It is idolatry, and it falls under the very First Commandment. “Whom did you fear when you didn’t fear Me,” God asks in Isaiah 57:11. Jer. 10 contrasts fear of idols with the worship of God. On the bright side of this equation, people convert to God when their hearts are filled with fear of Him: In the Book of Esther, many became Jews when the fear of the Jews fell on them (Esther 8:17); and in a similar situation in the New Testament, fear fell on every soul and thus the church grew (Acts 2:42).
This adds a new layer to our analysis: fear is not only an instrument of the terrorists to spread their “gospel,” fear itself is a “gospel,” an idolatrous religion which wars against the faith in Christ. Therefore, the very succumbing to fear as a result of a terrorist act is already a surrender to the religious demands of the terrorists. A terrorist says, “Fear me and accept my message.” While most of the time his target audience doesn’t accept his message, it still succumbs to fear, which itself is a form of worship. This succumbing to fear is a sufficient reward for the terrorist: he may have not been able to “convert” his audience to his religion, but he has made them worship it in a way through their fear.
Logically, then, if terrorism is on the rise, and if our war against it seems to be fruitless, there can be only one explanation: we in the West are succumbing to fear in one way or another. We are giving evidence to terrorists that their strategy works, that as a result of their actions, the West is abandoning its professed religious and ethical values and is reacting exactly in the way the terrorists want it to react. If there was no such surrender, terrorism wouldn’t seem to pay off; if it pays off, then we have been manipulated by the terrorists. We as a culture have responded in fear, and we have disobeyed the command “Do not fear.” We have become the “cowardly and unbelieving” of Rev. 21:8, and we are getting a foretaste of the lake of fire in the increased terrorist activity of our day. We have failed to pass the test.
A Failure of Nerve
It’s a shame that with all the preaching and teaching and writing on the issue of “trials and tribulations,” American Christians are so ignorant concerning the real nature of the concept of “trial” and how it works. And because they are ignorant, when a real trial comes to the American church, it fails to pass it, most of the time. The cultural defeats of the American church, of course, must be traced ultimately to the abundance of false doctrines which diminish the Gospel to a few propositions about salvation, diminish the victory of the Gospel in history, and diminish the scope of God’s covenant with His redeemed people to their religious meeting Sunday morning. But a great deal of the cultural defeats of the church was caused also by the practical failure of the church in general to pass one trial after another, thus leaving the impression of being ridden by inconsistency and hypocrisy.
Because Biblically, that’s what a trial is: a test for consistency.
When we as Christians go out in the world to preach the Gospel, when we declare the salvation of Jesus Christ, we inevitably declare the ethical and philosophical principles which that Gospel demands of us. We are not simply giving some intellectual information to the world; we are challenging the world with a set of ultimate principles which declare the nature of God, the nature and the future of man, and most importantly, the standard for good and evil these truths proclaim. Practical good and evil, not just theoretical; that is, good and evil as applied to our own individual lives, but also to the life of our institutions, be they family, church, state, business, schools, etc. The world around us, of course, won’t remain passive while we are challenging it; it will respond with its own challenges. These challenges are not going to be against the theoretical truth of our claims about God and man; they will be about our willingness to live consistently up to the same moral principles we preach to others. Ultimately, everyone knows God exists, whether they admit it or not; the issue is, “Should I submit to that God?” And the first and most obvious excuse is, “Christians themselves are hypocrites, even they do not submit to Him completely, because when a trial comes, they abandon the very principles they preach.”
It’s easy to stick to one’s principles when one is not challenged. It is when a person’s feet are put to the fire and he is asked to verbally denounce or practically abandon his principles, when the quality of that person’s faith becomes obvious. Job’s wife was an example of a person verbally denouncing her principles in times of trial. And she became Job’s real trial: while Job accepted his fate without complaining, his wife was the one urging him to “curse God and die.” And what was the challenge and the nature of that trial? “Do you still maintain your integrity [completeness in Hebrew]?” (Job 2:9). At the bottom of every trial there is a temptation to abandon one’s integrity and deny his professed foundational principles. The trial of terrorism is no different.
While some apostasy may consist in verbally denying one’s principles, most of the time the temptation is to continue paying lip service to them while at the same time abandoning them in practice. This temptation is widespread, and people succumb to it even without trials, just out of the habit of convenience or hypocrisy. Those of us who have strong ethical convictions but weak ethical nature are very often easily duped into adopting a superficial language of faithfulness and obedience while at the same time re-interpreting practical applications to fit our own passions. “I have carried out the command of the Lord,” Saul told Samuel in 1 Sam. 15:13. “Really, and what is this bleeping of sheep and lowing of oxen, then?” Samuel asked. “This, er, this we brought to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but the rest we have utterly destroyed.” The meaning was clear: The people had practically abandoned their first principles; but Saul had an excuse which verbally made it sound as if they were still faithful to those principles.
In this particular case, Saul and the people were motivated by greed for riches and perhaps for power; the situation is even worse when the most powerful motive – fear – is involved. When fear enters the scene, Christians are often eager to excuse their submission to it with all kinds of righteously sounding words: “prudence,” “wisdom,” etc. The mark of such an apostasy is usually the claim that the current situation is somehow so different from all other situations, such an emergency that it requires suspending some of the moral principles of the Bible – at least for a time. “Yes, I believe we need to obey the Bible, but this is a different situation and we need to use wisdom.” As if wisdom can be anything else but obeying God, no matter what our perception of the “situation” is.
And when it comes to terrorism, Christians completely fail the test, abandoning their principles at the excuse that “the situation is different.”
Ideally, Christians would subscribe to these ethical and judicial principles:
1. We are obligated, individually, to help the stranger and to make sure he has equal access to all the economic opportunities in the land (Matt. 25:35, 43; Num. 9:14; Deut. 23:15-16; 24:21-22).
2. The government is not allowed to control the movement of non-criminal individuals. It is lawful to cross a border – even the boundary of private property – as long as there is no harm done (Deut. 23:24-25).
3. When there is harm done, liability is personal, not collective, and must be established on the basis of two or three witnesses (2 Cor. 13:1; Deut. 19:15). A person can’t be held legally liable for the crimes of even his closest relatives, let alone for the crimes of others in his group (Deut. 24:16). Only God is allowed to judge collectives, as He does in limited cases. Human courts can only try individuals, not collectives. (Christians know this principle very well when they respond to gun-control advocates or to accusations that the crimes of a few Christians represent all Christians.)
4. True justice is retributive and restitutional, never preventive and pre-emptive (Rom. 13:4). Giving the government power over non-criminal individuals because they may commit crimes would declare the government being capable of reading hearts and therefore divine.
5. No matter what happens, and no matter what danger is perceived, the Principle of Just War applies to foreign policy: A Christian can never lawfully advocate for aggressive war abroad as a solution to a problem at home, for targeting innocent life in vengeance for crime (Deut. 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chr. 25:4). Christian foreign policy must revolve around evangelism of populations and Christian war theory must be focused on punishing criminals in power in response to specific crimes, not target their subject populations.
These are righteous Biblical principles, and Christians have used them since the very beginning of the Christian church, both as an apologetic method against their persecutors (see, for example, Tertullian’s Apologeticus) and as legal principles in a Christian civilization (see, for example, Magna Carta, Blackstone’s Commentaries, etc.).
But terrorism, apparently, is a trial too harsh for American Christians to stand. Suddenly, these principles are forgotten, and American Christians want to be “wise” and “prudent.” Why? Because all of a sudden, after centuries of social and political experience with wars, terrorism, immigration, etc, “this situation is different.” The good Biblical principles above are then abandoned for the opposite principles:
1. The stranger should be subject to different rules than the homeborn, and his access to the economic opportunities in the land should be limited. There should be different laws for the stranger and for the homeborn.
2. The government must be given the power to control the movement of non-criminal individuals, even to the point of banning its own citizens from traveling without passports or other means of identification. Because, you know, security trumps liberty.
3. All foreigners must be guilty by default for the crimes of a few, unless proven innocent by a process of vetting, which, of course, is in the hands of the Federal government. Real witnesses for individual crimes are not needed, rumors of crimes establishing a collective guilt are enough, and suspicions based on irrelevant speculations or false data. “97% of them are young men in fighting age!” “60% of the women of Sweden were raped by Muslims!” “All the crimes in Norway were committed by immigrants!” “ISIS fighters take over a German town!”
4. The function of the civil government is not justice anymore but “safety” and “security.” Which means preventive justice and pre-emptive executive action. Which boils down to “Show me your papers.” And eventually the concentration camps.
5. The perceived danger of Muslim terrorism justifies aggressive war in retaliation, directed against people who have nothing to do with the terrorist acts but are themselves victims of oppressive regimes.
In short, somehow our generation had the bad luck of living in times so overwhelmingly oppressive and dangerous that abandoning fundamental ethical and judicial principles is now “wisdom” and “prudence.” Somehow our times have changed the meaning of “safety” to mean not “God’s protection” but “state tyranny in violation of God’s Law.”
McDurmon continues in his treatment of fear as a motivator:
The life of fear will manifest in compromises of commitment to God’s Word in all areas of life such as parenting, honesty in business, honesty with money, political decisions (including voting), personal grudges, and much more. It can manifest in personal dejection and paralysis. . . .4
The ultimate end of any trial is to test the willingness of men to compromise their ultimate commitments – whether verbally and overtly or practically and covertly. Fear as the most powerful motivator, and as a religious act of worship itself, is present at every trial. When men react to a trial with the excuse that “This is a very special situation, different from any previous situation,” they have already submitted to fear, and the logical outcome of this excuse is compromise. Men who do not submit to fear will stand firm in any situation and will refuse to change their principles because of any perceived danger or threat.
From the perspective of the terrorists, then, Christians – and the West in general – have failed the test. From a Muslim, religious perspective, the real offense of the Western civilization is not its military might but its superior qualities like liberty and justice which attract the huddled masses of even the Muslim world. Ordinary Muslims are painfully aware of that difference; they know tyranny and corruption when they see them, and they can’t help but notice that their own religion has never been able to produce such a high level of integrity in the society as Christianity has produced. Many former Muslims have testified that this is what converted them to Christianity. Some just want to imitate it and participate in it in a quiet, neutral way. (Whether it is possible or not is another story.) Consistent Muslims are offended at that difference. And because they can’t produce a culture of equal superiority, their solution is to challenge the West into abandoning its values. “Let’s try them to see if Christians will stick to justice and liberty when it’s overcome by fear.”
And, as it appears, Christians fail the test and fail to stick to justice and liberty. They instead succumb to fear, and abandon their professed ethical and judicial principles. And they start advocating tyranny and injustice as solutions to the problem, just as the terrorists want them to.
The Politics of Fear
For the side observer, it seems strange that Americans, and Christians in particular, should be so overcome by fear of terrorism as to abandon, or to temporarily suspend, their professed fundamental principles be they the Bible for Christians, or the Constitution for conservatives in general. If anything, our society today is the safest society that ever existed in history; our culture today is nowhere close to dealing with gigantic challenges as in the past. During WWII, Britain was heavily bombarded by German bombers, and yet the British motto was, “Keep calm and carry on.” They understood that the purpose of the air war was fear, and they refused to submit to fear; and neither did they call for closing the borders for refugees from war-torn Europe. In a more striking example, the tiny nation of Switzerland, despite the open threats from the Nazi government, despite the amassed military formations on its borders, and despite the several cases of Nazi terrorism and sabotage on Swiss soil, refused to succumb to fear. The Swiss continued to keep their borders open for refugees from Germany, and even for Jews; adding insult to the injury by even arming the Jewish refugees to take part in the defense of the nation in case Germany invaded.5
Add to this the domestic statistics: The chances for an ordinary innocent American citizen to be summarily executed by a police officer on the street are at least 10 times higher than being caught in a terrorist mass-shooting spree. The chances of being killed or robbed by a police officer are about 60 times higher than being killed or robbed by a first-generation immigrant (terrorist or not). The chances of being hit by a car are about 300 times higher than being shot by a terrorist. Etc., etc. Why is terrorism the factor that so paralyzes us as to make us abandon our fundamental ethical and judicial principles? Why don’t we call for banning all cars, or for abolishing police?
One possible answer to this, of course, is that our generation in the West is a spoiled generation, and as a result, we are prone to exaggerate any challenge to our comforts and convenience. Even Chicago, which is the most dangerous city in the US to live in, is still incomparably safer to over 80% of the world’s population. In places like Syria or Iraq, ravaged by wars started by our own government, death is an everyday occurrence, to say nothing of other crimes like rape, robberies, etc. In places like Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, The Philippines, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Pakistan, India, local Christians are forced to live with their barbaric Muslim or pagan neighbors, and we don’t hear much whining from those Christians. Life continues there, and Christians continue sticking to the principles of the Gospel without looking for compromise just to be safe. From the perspective of these Christians, there’s no reason whatsoever for American Christians to switch to panic mode and forget their fundamental principles. Living in danger and persecution has been the share of the majority of Christians in history; that Americans are so panicked while living in the best possible conditions that ever existed on earth is indicative not of the level of threat they are facing, but of moral and psychological failure.
But there’s another, even more plausible answer: and it is that the very civil government and political class in the US, of whom Americans expect to act to prevent the threat of terrorism, actually take advantage of it for their purposes. And in order to understand this, we need to understand the transformation the totalitarian ideologies in the 20th and the 21st century.
Francis Fukuyama’s thesis of 1992 that the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe was the “end of history” is now obviously proven to be simply wishful thinking. He saw in the “end of ideologies” a victory for liberal democracy and the “rule of law”; he expected that totalitarianism would never raise its ugly head again. In his limited frame of interpretation, he was right; for Fukuyama, totalitarianism couldn’t exist where a positive message for whipping up the masses to obedience was lacking. Ideologies did provide that positive message, for a while. When the Classical ideal of the total state re-emerged in the Enlightenment, the totalitarians of the Enlightenment generally tried to imitate Christianity in giving a quazi-religious, positive vision to their subjects in which the state was the new god giving the optimistic vision of the earthly New Jerusalem. Before the rise of secular political ideologies in the 18th century, the future was separated from the government: governments stayed limited to their sphere of retributive and restitutional justice, while religion was independent, giving a restorative, optimistic vision of the future, whether in history or in eternity. In its political theories, the Enlightenment attacked the church by advising the rulers to take the place of Jesus Christ by giving vision, salvation, optimism, and a purpose of life, all under the ægis of the new totalitarian state. With Christianity having inculcated the habit of following the positive vision of the victory of the Gospel, all that the rulers had to do was re-direct – through their statist version of “evangelism” – that vision to serve the purposes of the new totalitarian state. One cannot understand the rise of totalitarian regimes like the Prussian state, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia without understanding this messianic character of the traditional ideologies.
To make it shorter and clearer, of the two greatest motivators – fear and love – totalitarian ideologies originally chose to motivate their people by love: love to the collective and to the “general will” of that collective.
The real challenge to the traditional totalitarian ideologies came not from their enemies but from the very nature of love: love requires an attitude of sacrifice. Optimism does, too. When the future is expected to be better than the present, this requires a future-oriented mindset which gladly accepts the trials and the tribulations of today as a prelude to expected success in the future – success which the presently living may not even be able to experience themselves after having worked and sacrificed for it. As much as all these ideologies hated Christianity, they had to rely for their success on the attitude of love and optimism created by Christianity: an attitude of future-orientation and sacrifice. But with Christianity’s influence diminished, such attitude disappeared, and in the final days of all these ideologies, the very people who espoused them were overwhelmed by pessimism and cynicism. Only the presence of Christ’s Spirit can maintain a lifetime of self-sacrifice and commitment; without it, people lapse back into selfishness, cynicism, and therefore despair. The political fall of the Communist ideology came mainly from this loss of optimism and love and the rise of what Communist ideologues branded as “petty-bourgeois mentality,” that is, a selfish commitment to personal betterment and advance over the goals and dictates of the collective.
With this death of secular altruism – and therefore of secular optimism – the old ideologies are gone completely. They can’t return unless there is a return to the same secular optimism and spirit of sacrifice. That’s why the claims of some Christians about some modern “cultural Marxism” replacing the old Marxism are false: Marxism without optimism is dead. Even if “cultural Marxism” has ever been designed as a strategy, it relied on individual attitudes that are long gone. In this sense, Fukuyama was correct: the 1980s saw the end of the ideologies in history. The old ideologies, at least.
But even in the era of the greatest success of the old, optimistic ideologies, a new ideology of totalitarianism began to emerge – an ideology which would convince the masses to surrender their rights and their liberty to the state not based on an altruistic belief in a better future but on a selfish fear for their survival. The old ideologies tried to make use of love for their grip on the minds of their subjects – and as we saw above, love requires self-sacrifice and is therefore just the second greatest motivator. The new ideology now looked at the greatest of all motivators – fear – as a tool to support the ever growing totalitarian state. Its emergence was noticed by a few vigilant minds even as early as 100 years ago, and they made sure they warned their readers about it. H. L. Mencken wrote in 1918,
Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. They are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.6
While Mencken saw it as merely a development in the civilization under democracy, George Orwell, the man who, in 1944, wrote the history of modern totalitarianism before it happened, saw the politics of fear as an integral and necessary part of the new totalitarianism:
the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.7
In 1944, though, the world had just experienced two world wars and there wasn’t much that could scare a generation that had heard the bombs falling and had stormed the beaches of Normandy. It took another generation, one that had lost memory of the trials and tribulations of war, for the politics of fear to start bearing fruit. But even as early as January 20, 1961, the gradual shift from a politics of love and heroism to a politics of fear and selfishness was indicated by those famous words from President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address:
Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. . . .
Kennedy, apparently, realized that there was a shift in moral commitment – from “what I can do” to “what the government can do for me.” As great as his words sound, they were only a powerless wish of a dying civilization. The process of transformation from love to fear as the motivator for the masses had already started, and Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s own running mate, would make a good use of it in his campaign against Barry Goldwater. (In fact, as early as the 1930s, FDR would masterfully play with both motivators to both defeat his political opponents and to push his agenda on America.) The official legislative break with the old world of positive motivations happened much later, and can be clearly seen in the difference between the first and the second inaugural addresses of George W. Bush. In 2001, his main message was a call to “duty” and “work,” assuming a population of self-conscious responsible adults who could be trusted to both provide for themselves and to fulfill their civic duties. In 2005, he started with fear-mongering, speaking of “our vulnerability” and of “survival of liberty,” and delivered the most patronizing and condescending inaugural address in the US history. America in 2005 was safer and more powerful than any other time in its history, and than any other nation, and yet, a President was officially declaring that “my solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats.” To compare, Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural address in 1905 had nothing of the sort, and yet, just three years prior he saw President William McKinley assassinated by the hand of a homeborn anarchist! In 1905, a promise by a President to “protect this nation” (even after the assassination of a President!) would have been taken as an insult to the American people and their maturity. In 2005, it was an official policy.
The official legislative break with the past came in the “Great October Revolution” of October 26, 2001 with the signing of the Patriot Act into law. The American public discourse was now changed: Liberty took the back seat; Safety and Security, provided by a paternalistic government, became the focus of politics. In the Patriot Act, the politics of fear became the official legislative principle of the new totalitarianism. The political discourse in America – and in the Western world – shifted to be entirely dominated and defined by fear.
Today, the real terrorists are not the isolated Muslim groups around the world; while they may be skillful in using fear against their target populations, they are still amateurs. The real terrorist are the different levels of government in the US, from the Federal government to the local police stations, armed with the ideology of fear of the new totalitarianism. It is they who have a consistent agenda based on manipulation through fear. And everything we said above about the nature of fear as a form of “evangelism,” applies to modern politics to a much greater extent than to Islamic terrorism.
The mistake of many conservatives today is to view Obama as an accomplice to terrorists. The truth is, the Federal government is the biggest player, and therefore its agenda is the ruling agenda; the Muslim terrorists just play in the hands of the Federal government, perpetuating its narrative of keeping their victims more and more psychologically dependent on the government. It is for this reason the campaigns of almost all politicians these days sound like coming out of an horror movie: “Our worst fears confirmed!” “This should scare you to death!” “This is the beginning of the end!” “This is the end of America!” “The Muslims are out to get us!” Etc., etc. The “evangelists” of the idolatry of fear are much closer to home than we usually think; and they preach their “gospel” through their willing tools, the mainstream media.
To this, of course, we must add the more traditional display of brute power designed also to produce fear: the increasingly militarized police which treats civilian populations as an enemy in a war zone. The motive there, again, is religious, and is specifically designed to convey a message of divinity for the state. As I mentioned in another article,
It is for this reason that we see, in modern America, the growth of the police state. Since civil government in America has long lost whatever legitimacy it had under God, its has become a pagan state. Projection of raw power, then, becomes crucial to the maintenance and the legitimization of the authority of civil government. And not only just the projection of raw power, but the exercise of raw power in terrorizing the population is crucial: to destroy the rule of law, which is a testimony for the Gospel, a pagan government must replace it with rule of man, and that rule of man must be exercised against the Law, so that the mighty men may legitimize their authority. The claims that police needs all this excessive firepower to do their job are proven false by the fact that police is one of the safest jobs around; more police officers die of reckless driving than of assaults. The projection of power is needed because for a pagan state, it is the only means to legitimize authority.
It is for this reason the empires in the Bible are described as ravenous beasts who trample, crush, destroy, tear apart, devour their victims. It is not just uncontrollable, occasional impulse of some pagan states; violence and state terrorism against its own population becomes a religious necessity for the pagan state. So whenever you see cops in full military gear facing unarmed protesters, it is not self-protection; it is a religious statement. It is the modern Nimrod using his might to legitimize his right.8
The purpose of the “war on terror,” therefore, is not defeating terror; it is only a tool in the practical politics of the new totalitarianism. Its real purpose is defeating liberty by using fear to convince the American people to give up their liberty for security. All the aspects of the “war on terror” – total surveillance, immigration restrictions, national ID, gun control, military interventions – are ultimately directed against ordinary Americans, not against terrorists.
This is the same situation as the one described in 1 Samuel 8. The people of Samuel’s time wanted a king to judge them and to go out before them and fight their battles. Samuel’s warning was that the king will become their worst enemy, worse than those against whom the Israelites expected him to fight. In the final account, our own government is our worst and most dangerous enemy. And in our fear of Islamic terrorists, we have surrendered our lives and our liberty to this worst enemy.
And unless we understand this fundamental fact of the phenomenon of modern terrorism, we have not understood terrorism, and we can’t see the real solutions to it.
The Real Solutions
These three main points of our analysis of terrorism must become the foundation of our solution to it:
First, terrorism is not an ordinary crime, not warfare, and not acts of madmen. It is a perverse version of “evangelism,” a message, an idea which terrorists want to convey to the world. Any “solution” that doesn’t take this in account, but instead applies military, judicial, or therapeutic methods, is doomed to fail.
Second, fear itself is perverse worship and idolatry. Succumbing to fear is forbidden by God. Even more forbidden is being so paralyzed by fear as to abandon one’s fundamental moral principles to “resolve” problems that are temporary and insignificant. When we are driven by fear in our reactions and policies, we encourage the terrorists; our failure of nerve is their victory.
Third, the government is never a solution. To the contrary, the government is the greatest terrorist of all, for it uses fear to appropriate even more power to itself. When we are panicked and call for more government intervention – closing the borders to refugees, more immigration control, more military intervention, more government surveillance and more power to government agencies, we are surrendering ourselves to our worst enemy, worse than any Muslim terrorists.
To start with, we as Christians need to pay very serious attention to the most frequent command in Scripture: “DO NOT FEAR!!!” Fear of man is idolatry. Fear of man is lack of faith. Fear of man is rebellion against God. We are not facing the giants in the land as the Hebrews of Moses’s time did. We are not facing Goliath on the battlefield. We are not facing the mighty Roman Empire, nor are we facing the Black Death, or extinction, or anything else. We are facing the smallest threat ever of all the threats that have faced Christians in history: Muslim terrorists. Statistically, they are less dangerous or lethal than our cats and dogs. Never before in history has such minuscule a threat elicited such a gigantic response, and that by the only nation in history powerful enough to take on all the previous threats in history so far and defeat them, if they happened to appear in our time. We need to man up; it’s embarrassing that we are so scared of the smallest threat ever that we have even made it the basis for abandoning our ethical principles! And to think about it, we still have among us living representatives of that generation of young men who stormed the beaches of Normandy!
We shouldn’t even be talking about terrorism as something important. We shouldn’t be buying the discourse the political class wants to force on us. We should be training our senses to judge good from evil (Heb. 5:14), and we should develop the instinct of recognizing fear manipulation every time someone uses it on us, and defy it. Our first reaction to every scare by politicians or media should be: “I don’t care, I won’t be swayed by fear, and I am surrendering neither my principles nor my liberty, your attempts to scare me into submission notwithstanding!”
The only fear we should have is fear of God. And fear of God requires that we as Christians do not buy into any attempt to be scared by wars, terrorism, economic sanctions, or anything else.
Joel McDurmon gives the Biblical advice in his commentary on 1 Samuel, applicable to Christians today:
So when we say “do not fear,” we are far beyond Hallmarkian platitudes. We are following into battle David, who is merely following the explicit Law of God for warfare. And there we see the focal point of Christian courage: God’s Law. If we do not love this, we do not love Him. If we compromise on this, we compromise on Him. We must instead have radical love. In the face of great enemies and great odds, the only way to accomplish this is through radical faith – His gift – and this requires that we abandon all trust in human means and standards. If we find ourselves living in fear, or reacting in fear, we can rest assured at that point we have abandoned faith in God in this area of life. The Israelites illustrate this truth for us throughout the book of 1 Samuel, as well as in this chapter. Let us instead follow the illustration of David, who led a whole fearful nation to victory with one brave act of radical faith.9
Our true courage, therefore, is in trusting God and His Law, and never compromising on those. If the Law of God says that we should treat the stranger by the same standard as the homeborn, we should treat him as the homeborn. If the stranger is a criminal, he must be delivered to justice, just as the homeborn. If the stranger is not a criminal, he must be left alone just as the homeborn, and we should not call our political representatives to impose immigration laws that establish a different treatment for strangers. If the Law of God says that by the mouth of two or three witnesses shall an accusation be established, we can’t lawfully require our political representatives to declare a whole group of people criminals by default until proven otherwise. If the Law of God doesn’t give the government control over the movement of non-criminal individuals, then we should not call for more control to the government. If the Law of God protects private property and the family against trespassing – including trespassing by the state and its agencies – we should call for the state to retreat from trespassing and adjust its laws accordingly. If the Law of God says no standing armies for aggressive wars against other nations, we should vote for no standing armies for aggressive wars against other nations. Etc., etc. No crisis, and no danger in this world can be a good reason for us to abandon the Law of God; no crisis, and no danger in this world can be a good reason for us to surrender our rights and liberties as Christian men under God; no crisis, and no danger in this world can be more dangerous to us than the God Who will judge this nation if we as Christians fail to abide by His standards in our personal lives, our preaching, our political actions, and our voting – and that only because we have swallowed the fear-mongering of the political class, hook, line, and sinker.
Not only we as Christians should give an example of not succumbing to fear, and example of courage by sticking to our ethical and judicial principles no matter what, we should also give an example of sound mind and clear understanding of the real danger in our world today: the Beast of statism, the new totalitarian state which is trying to expand its power and destroy the liberty and justice which our Christian forefathers have left us as a legacy. We need to always remember the words of John Witherspoon, the spiritual father of the United States, that our religious liberty is inseparable from our civil liberty:
There is not a single instance in history, in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.10
The real challenge to Christianity today is not the few Muslim terrorists but the hundreds of thousands of government bureaucrats who have understood Witherspoon’s sermon better than we Christians have. When we allow the government to take away our civil liberties, we are ourselves destroying the foundation for our religious liberties, and thus we ourselves are destroying the testimony of the Gospel in America. Before we complain that Christianity has been gradually banned from the public square, we need to stop and consider: have we been willing accomplices in the destruction of our civil liberties, and thus in the destruction of our religious liberties?
The politics of fear was designed with this ultimate purpose: to convince the masses – and especially us, Christians – to surrender government and sovereignty to the state. Once that sovereignty and government are completely surrendered, it will be easy for the new totalitarians to destroy the testimony of the Gospel. It is this threat that is the greatest threat to our generation today, not the bombs of the Muslim terrorists. And we as Christians will give a godly example for the Gospel not when we follow the masses and succumb to fear but when we keep our focus on the greater issues and warn our neighbors about those greater issues. And to point to the prophetic words of Benjamin Franklin:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.11
The excuse many Christians use to give more power to the civil government under the threat of terrorism is that the Biblical task of the civil government is to provide safety and security for its citizens. But that is not true; the Bible doesn’t give the civil government the task of providing safety and security. As I explained in another place,
Safety or security are not a Biblical function of government, and are not mentioned as a Biblical function of government. The Biblical function of government is justice, that is, resolution of conflicts and punishment of crime. Safety and security are left to God, and to the families themselves, not to the government.
Why is this difference important? Because from a covenantal – that is, ethical/judicial – perspective, the two functions, justice and safety, have completely different starting points, and involve completely different modes of action. It is true that indirectly, safety is a secondary product of righteous justice. But what is often missed by many Christians is that when safety is made the primary purpose of the state, it destroys justice and establishes tyranny.
In the Bible, civil government is primarily a negative institution; that is, it doesn’t have any function of providing a positive product to the society. For the most part, the state is supposed to be inactive except when a crime is committed, or a dispute arises between private persons which can’t be resolved by private conflict resolution. The power of the state is enormous compared to the power of the other institutions, but it is limited and reactive: for the task of justice requires reaction only to real, already committed crimes.
Contrary to this, the task of safety and security is a proactive task, and it requires preventive justice, a concept that is completely anti-Christian and idolatrous. For the state to be able to provide safety and security, it must have an active government apparatus with executive functions which can read people’s minds and predict who might be prone to commit a crime, in order to be able to exclude them from society before they have committed it. That is, the task of safety and security, when carried out by the state, requires government control over non-criminal individuals. Such control is inevitable, and there is no way to limit it to only criminals; after all, if a person is a known criminal, the crime would have been already committed, so the action needed would be justice, not safety. Only God has the prerogative to see the heart of a man; when the state takes this prerogative to itself, it declares itself divine.
Thus, those who call for the government to provide safety and security – as opposed to the Biblical task of only retributive and restitutional justice – are calling for open judicial idolatry. And since idolatry always brings tyranny, they are calling also for judicial tyranny. From the Jacobin Committee of Public Safety, through the Nazi SD (Security Service) and SiPo (Security Police), Mussolini’s TULPS (Laws for Public Safety), the Communist KGB (Committee for State Security) and Stasi (State Security), to our modern American Homeland Security, Transport Security Administration, and National Security Agency, and to the modern American cops’ “It’s for your safety” when they unlawfully arrest and torture innocent people, “safety” and “security” have been the buzzwords for the government’s terrorizing and spying on its own population in the name of taking care of them. Haven’t we learned anything from history that we want more of the same?
Once the government is given the task to act preemptively to provide safety, there is no logical limit to what it can do to anyone, including its own citizens. If a group of non-criminal foreigners can be controlled and kicked out because they are a “security threat,” what would stop the government from doing the same thing to a group of non-criminal citizens, for instance, gun owners? Such a concept of government would justify the violation of any civil rights we today enjoy, and eventually will destroy all liberty. Haven’t we learned from history?12
Giving the government a task which doesn’t belong to it will solve no problems. But it will surely create more problems. Safety and security are in the hands of God and of the people themselves. When we delegate it to the government, it will only destroy our liberty but it won’t provide any safety.
Keep Calm and Carry On, Evangelizing
The objection to what I said so far will be, “But none of this is a practical solution to the problem of terrorism. We can stop fearing and we can focus on not losing our liberty, but that won’t stop the terrorists, would it?”
It won’t, of course. But there is no practical solution that will. If terrorism is a problem of religious views and moral commitments, it won’t be stopped by government intervention; there’s simply no immediate solution to problems of religious, moral or ideological nature. The greatest, cruelest, longest and most brutal terrorist campaign against Christianity – the Roman persecutions – continued for two centuries. While the early Christians did use some temporary means to gain some temporary respite, they understood that the conflict was spiritual and that there was no earthly means to resolving a spiritual conflict. Generation after generation of Christians grew up with the expectation that the Roman soldiers could any time show up at the door and drag them to the circus.
But they kept calm, and carried on, evangelizing. This should be our solution as well.
While there are times when we need to pull the trigger, we must only pull that trigger in defense of Biblical justice, not in defense of secular ideologies and policies. While there are times when we need to lobby for government action, we must only lobby in defense of Biblical justice, not in defense of secular ideologies and policies. While there are times when we need to defend the culture against religious and cultural invasion, our defense must be only based on the Law of God, not based on man’s ideologies and practices. But in order for us to stand for Biblical justice and the Law of God, we need to first proclaim to the world that Law and its justice. It’s time to return to the Law and the Testimony (Is. 8:20), if we don’t want to reap more distress and anguish (vv. 20-22).
And for this reason, in the face of the distress and anguish politicians and media are trying to sell to us, we need to stand firm on our principles and preach the comprehensive message of the Kingdom of God: its righteousness and justice applied to every area of life. We need to target our own fellow Christians in America who have succumbed to the idolatry of fear with the assurance that there is no need to go into a panic mode and surrender our liberties because of terrorists. We also need to target the Muslim world and the Muslim refugees and immigrants with the Gospel even more persistently, not close our borders or our world to those of them who are seeking refuge. The majority of ordinary Muslims are even more the victims of Islam’s terrorism and cruelty than we will ever be; they know it first-hand. They just don’t know the solution to it. When we close our borders to refugees and immigrants, we are only confirming the propaganda of their tormentors that there is no solution in the West, which the Muslims themselves consider to be “Christian.” (I know, not to us, anymore, but to them, relatively, it still is.) The few acts of Muslim terrorism we have experienced in the West are multiplied by hundreds and thousands in the Middle East, on ordinary Muslims themselves. This is a time of opportunity for the Gospel, and if we miss it, some other “gospel” will snatch it from us – whether it is the “gospel” of Marxism, or of secular liberalism, or of any other man-made religion.
We in America are the safest and the most prosperous generation in history; we have the lowest crime rate in history, the longest life spans, the highest level of physical comforts, the best access to information; we have technological gadgets that would make the richest kings of times past green of envy; we can reach any point in the world within a day and make friends with people around the globe within seconds. We call “middle-age” what just 200 years ago was the longest lifespans. We have the Bible at our fingertips, and all the wisdom of mankind throughout history at a few clicks distance. We have received all this as a gift from our Christian forefathers who fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel and fought against wicked tyrannies.
And we are using this gift to succumb to fear of a dying pagan religion and surrender our liberties to a wicked tyranny.
It’s time to make a U-turn.Share on Facebook
- Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone, 1997). Huntington’s thesis is in its essence collectivist; it assumes that individuals by default identify with the dominant culture of the place of their birth. Hence his separation of the world into “civilizations.” that are pretty much fixed and “clashing” with each other. He doesn’t allow for the possibility that the greater flow and availability of information would make large groups of people born in one civilization identify with another civilization. For example, through the Internet, and through Christian missions, significant groups in India, or Russia, or China, self-identify as “Western” in their worldview and approach to life. His so-called “Latin American civilization” is quickly adopting everything “Western,” and within another 20-30 years would be indistinguishable from the West. Less than 20 years after Huntington’s book was published, it is clear his predictions have failed. [↩]
- Except for the cases where he is repentant and offers restitution before the investigation is completed. I should add, though, that while a thief can always voluntarily admit and offer private restitution, confession and self-incrimination are not sufficient basis for a formal verdict; the rule of two or three independent witnesses must always apply, even where the defendant has willingly incriminated himself. [↩]
- Joel McDurmon, 1 Samuel: In the Midst of Your Enemies (Powder Springs, Georgia: American Vision Press, 2013), p. 261. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]
- Stephen P. Halbrook, Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War 2 (Da Capo Press, 2003). [↩]
- H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women (New York: Alfred A. Knopf  1924), p. 53. [↩]
- George Orwell, 1984, Part 2, Chapter 9. [↩]
- Bojidar Marinov, “Torah vs. Anomia: Rule of Law vs Rule by Permit.” [↩]
- Ibid., p. 262-3. [↩]
- John Witherspoon, “The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men,” May, 1776. [↩]
- Benjamin Franklin, “Response to the Governor, November 11, 1755,” Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1755-1756 (Philadelphia, 1756), pp. 19-21. [↩]
- Bojidar Marinov, “Political Opportunism Doesn’t Fight Tyranny, It Perpetuates It.” [↩]