The Meaning of Life: Christianity & the ISIS Paris Attacks of November 13, 2015
We have been investigating the meaning of life and the question: Why are we here? But today it seems appropriate to look at how our question fits in with the ISIS Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, the worst assault on French soil since World War II.
We’ll also look at how this barbarity brings out, in stark relief, the differences between Christianity and Islam.
The second part of Jesus’s Great Commandment from Matthew 22:39 is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For Christians this means we are to be beacons of light to the world around us. We are to do good works, helping those who cannot help themselves. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick. We are also to look after others’ spiritual lives. For how can we love someone only by tending their physical needs while leaving them to an eternity in hell? That is one of the reasons why we are here: To love others as we would want to be loved.
By contrast, why does Islam say we are here? What do they teach their followers?
As I write this the death toll from the barbaric attacks on unarmed Parisian citizens stands at 129, with possibly 250 wounded, though the numbers are still tentative. This is the second time this year Islamic terrorists have struck France. The commentators all ponder the nature of the attackers, always labeling them as “radical Islamic terrorists”. But I would remove the word “radical” and claim that, according to the Qur’an, what we have seen on November 13, 2015 in Paris is the true expression of Islam. I refer you to my 9/27/14 post and my 10/4/14 post, where I quote from the Qur’an. Here is a sample:
• Sura 5:51: “Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends.”
• Sura 5:73: “Infidels are those that say ‘God is one of three in a Trinity’.”
• Sura 9:123: “Make war on the infidels who dwell around you.”
• Sura 2:216: “Fighting is obligatory for you, as much as you dislike it.”
• Sura 8:65: “O Prophet! Urge the believers to war.”
• Sura 2:191: “Kill the disbelievers wherever we find them.”
These are Muhammad’s words taken directly from the Qur’an from the Medina verses. I remind the reader that the Medina verses, by Islamic doctrine, take precedence over the milder verses Muhammad wrote in Mecca. It’s critical to understand this “doctrine of abrogation” as it’s called. Therefore, these commands are not just for the “radicals”. They are strictures for all Muslims. Those who do not follow them are simply disobeying their prophet.
I would also remind the reader how Muhammad received the Qur’an. He went to a cave near Mecca and was confronted by an “angel”. When he returned from these visits, he shook, perspired, and foamed at the mouth from seizures. He feared he was being tormented by an evil spirit. But his uncle, Waraqah Ibn Nawfal, convinced him it was the angel Gabriel.
Perhaps he should have stuck with first impressions? For surely, when you compare the life and teachings of Jesus with the life and teachings of Muhammad, they are nearly exact opposites. What is the opposite of God? Draw your own conclusions.
But what is the Christian supposed to do when confronted by pure, unadulterated evil? Should we do nothing, as our President insists? He often says the right words, but everyone should understand by now, words without action are simply empty promises. And this President, if he acts at all, will only act in token, meaningless ways.
So should we—like Obama and Neville Chamberlain and all the appeasers before them—give free rein to evil, allowing countless innocents to die?
Indeed, what is the Christian response? For surely we must consider the innocent lives lost in Paris. If we do nothing, if we stand by while evil men spread slaughter and mayhem across the globe, are we still following Jesus’s command to love others as ourselves? Or are we—by inaction, by turning away and doing nothing—partners in their crime?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a lot to say about this subject. As a reminder, Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Nazi Germany while Hitler was suppressing the Christian church and exterminating the Jews. Despite warnings to be silent, he stood up to Hitler and preached against Nazism. He was involved in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Eventually he paid for his views with his life.
Bonhoeffer said this: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
And this: “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
We live in evil times. Satan is alive and well and spreading his cause across the globe. What are we to do? I submit that we are to live holy lives, loving God and loving others as ourselves. We are to reach out to those who don’t know Christ. But loving others must include defending our right to exist apart from evil. If we do not defend the innocent against evil aggression, if we become passive spectators, failing to act, do we not become complicit in the crime? Are we not then silent, guilty partners to murder and mayhem?
I usually post on Sunday afternoon. Because of this event, I’m posting a day early. Next time we’ll continue to look at the reasons why God put us on this earth.