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.

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 12: French troops patrol around the Eifel Tower on January 12, 2015 in Paris, France. France is set to deploy 10,000 troops to boost security following last week's deadly attacks while also mobilizing thousands of police to patrol Jewish schools and synagogues. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 12: French troops patrol around the Eifel Tower on January 12, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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.

Der britische Premierminister Arthur Neville Chamberlain, links, und Adolf Hitler bei ihrem Treffen im Bad Godesberger Hotel Dreesen. Was die beiden am 22. September 1938 hier im Streit um das zu Tschechien gehoerende Sudetenland "unter vier Augen" eroerterten, blieb Geheimnis. Nachweislich hat die Begegnung zum Muenchener Abkommen eine Woche spaeter gefuehrt. Danach musste die Tschechoslowakei die deutsch besiedelten Randgebiete Boehmens und Maehrens an das Deutsche Reich abtreten. (AP Photo)

With the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938, Neville Chamberlain allowed Hitler to annex the Sudetenland. (AP Photo)

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.

The Meaning of Life: Why Are We Here? — The Christian Answer

In our investigation of the meaning of life, we come to the question: Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there any purpose at all?

Many say we exist for ourselves, that beyond the boundary of me, there is simply—nothing. rockyTrailAnd God, if He exists, is irrelevant. So our purpose? Perhaps there isn’t any. Perhaps the universe has no meaning at all. So any meaning to your life is only what you make of it. Good luck on the journey, dear traveler, because it’s all up to you. If you stumble and make a mess of it, well, I guess in the end life really had no purpose, did it?

Without purpose we are lost. We stumble through life without direction, jumping from this idea to that. We follow trails that lead nowhere. We strive, struggle, and stumble, and at the last bend of the journey, we look back and wonder—how in the world did we end up here? Why did we even bother? Was there a better way?

The Christian worldview rejects all that. Christianity says our lives do have a central purpose and meaning. For those who believe that Jesus was the Son that God sent to earth, there is hope. There is joy. There is even love.

So what is our purpose? Why are we here? Do we look to ourselves for the answer? Or to the One who made the universe. I submit we need look no farther than the words that Jesus, who is God, gave to a man who was an expert in the Hebrew law. Matthew 22:36 tells us the man, a Pharisee, was trying to trap him and he asked, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Here’s how Jesus answered in verses 37-40 (NLT):
37 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Here is where we find meaning, folks. It’s not by scaling the ladder of career; by gathering more and more friends, virtual or otherwise; or by raising a family, important though that is. It’s not by pampering and indulging and glorifying ourselves. It’s not through creativity and the arts—writing, painting, sculpting, making music, singing—though some of us can’t live without those things. And it’s certainly not through following the philosophy and ideology of men. No, it’s by glorifying God, doing His will, and getting to know the Son He sent us. And it’s by treating others with respect, compassion, kindness, mercy, honesty, truthfulness, and yes, even love. If we do all that, we will please God. And he will smile on us and fill our souls with love. That, dear traveler, is how we find meaning.

The next few posts will unpack just exactly how we are to do this.

The Meaning of Life: Who Does the Culture Say We Are? — Part III

We’ve been examining the meaning of life and the question, “Who does the culture say we are?” The following poem by Steve Turner, taken from Ravi Zacharias’s book, Can Man Live Without God? Some of the references are a bit outdated, but it still neatly summarizes what we just talked about in our last two posts.


by Steve Turner

We believe in MarxFreudAndDarwin.
We believe everything is OK,
as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better,
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes, UFOs and bent spoons;

ufoJesus was a good man just like Buddha, Muhammad, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same—at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing

TheVoidBecause when you ask the dead what happens,
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then it’s compulsory heaven for all,
excepting, perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
That is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth, excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
and the flowering of individual thought.

That is certainly the modern credo. But how do we respond? The only answer is God. The hope of Christ and a life eternal, a life that starts right now with belief in the Son of God.

Next time we’ll look at the fourth great question: Why are we here?