CHRISTIANS MUST WIELD THE "SWORD OF THE SPIRIT" AGAINST THE ISLAMIST AGGRESSORS.
By F. M. Perry, January 17, 2003.
"Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." Ephesians 6:11. NASV.
The terrorist massacres that killed some 3,000 people in New York and Washington and in commandeered aircraft on September 11, 2001 revealed that there is a sizeable cult of people in the world who are committed to efforts to murder as many Americans as possible. As the facts behind the atrocities became known, it was revealed that a cult of Islamists (dedicated adherents to the violent aspects of the Islamic religion) instigated and carried out the 9/11 massacres. The objective of this Islamist cult in carrying out these atrocities has been stated by its leaders to be the carrying out a command enjoined on them by their sacred book, the Qu'ran, which says: "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare them each ambush." (Chapter 9, Verse 5, of the Qu'ran.). The people of the United States are considered by the members of this Islamic cult to be among the "idolaters" referenced by, and subject to, the Qu'ranic command calling for them to be slain. This Islamic cult, vowing to execute additional atrocities, has effectively declared war on the people of the United States.
The response of the United States has been that which would be expected of a major world power to protect its people. The United States has declared war on the terrorists. Indeed, the United Nations, recognizing this terrorist act as a threat to the entire civilized world, has also declared war on the terrorists. The United States with its allies has executed military action overthrowing the Islamist "Talliban" government of Afghanistan when it was found to be harboring members of this cult and has tracked down, imprisoned, or killed as many members of this cult as have been found to date. In addition to preparation for further military action the United States has set up an entirely new home security agency with the objective of discovery and prevention of additional atrocities that secretly might be planned by unrecognized Islamist cult members who may have infiltrated into the country. The people of the United States have been placed under stress to be ready at any time to defend or shield themselves from catastrophes that might be instigated by unknown Islamists in the country. Indications are that people of the United States, as well as people of many other countries, will have to live with fear of possible surprise attacks for a long time, perhaps years, to come.
THE DEBATE AMONG MUSLIMS CONCERNING USE OF "COMPULSION IN RELIGION."
Of course, what I am calling the "Islamist terrorist threat," the threat to slay all the "idolaters," or "infidels" outside the religion of Islam, is not something new to the world. It has been practiced since the seventh century by at least a minority of Muslims ever since the deceiving book, the Qu'ran, was first produced. Only a small minority of Muslims, whom I am calling Islamist terrorists, are going forth today to literally take the drastic step of slaying "infidels." But there have always been some who have felt it their responsibility to the Qu'ran to "slay the infidel" ever since the time of Muhammad. During the most recent twentieth century this drastic action called for by the Qu'ran has been practiced only within the borders of certain Islamic countries, but now, in the twenty first century the Saudi Arabian man, Osama Bin Laden, and certain others of his Islamist cult have taken it upon themselves to try to lead the Muslim people in a murderous jihad (holy struggle) against all the people of the world believed to be under the influence of Christianity, especially in America and the western world. Specific passages from the Qu'ran are being quoted to incite Muslims to murderous atrocities. There is little or no doubt that those whom we call "suicide bombers" go to their deaths firmly believing that they are performing a self sacrifice guaranteeing their salvation in the "heaven" described in the Qu'ran.
(To assist those readers of this article who are not familiar with the Arabic words used in discussing the religion of Islam, please note the following. The Arabic word "Islam" means "surrender to God's will." The word "Islamist" is being used in this article to mean one who desires to establish a theocracy based on Islamic law ( by violence or other means). The word "Muslim," or "Moslem," means "one who surrenders to God." The word "Qu'ran" means "Recitation." The word "Allah" means "God." The man, Muhammad, is the so-called "Prophet of Islam" and the one who claims to have received the Qu'ran word for word from God's angel, Gabriel. The Arabic word "jihad" means "struggle" and is often, but not always, linked to struggle by warfare or violence.)
Actually, the religion of Islam is highly fractured, and the Qu'ran itself, read without "help" from the Islamic "clergy," has many contradictions among its precepts. In addition to various "denominations" which have somewhat divided Islam for centuries, there are today many partial adherents to Islam who simply do not accept all the precepts of the Qu'ran. Of particular interest to this article, some Muslims do not accept the call to violence coming from the Islamists, insisting that their personal understanding of the Qu'ran does not include such violence. Since I have personally noticed that the language of the Qu'ran does indeed call for the possible use of violence, and since all Muslims claim to believe and follow the Qu'ran, it seems important to try to find out why there is a difference of opinion among Muslims concerning this point. There are probably a number of reasons. Some Muslims, not knowing Arabic and not having read the Qu'ran, will not subscribe to all they hear about it. They simply do not wish to believe in violence. It seems logical that some people, although perhaps born in Islamic nations where Biblical knowledge is suppressed, nevertheless have learned something of the true Creator's love for them, His revelations through nature, and His laws written in the hearts of all people. (The Holy Spirit of God speaks of this possibility in the New Testament, in Romans 1:19-20 and 2:14-15.) This may be the source of some Muslims' hesitation to accept the Qu'ranic teaching concerning "compulsion in religion." Also, other true Godly influences may have reached Muslims from outside the guarded borders of Islamic countries and caused them to have second thoughts concerning this and other teachings of the Qu'ran.
Along the line of this latter thought, there is growing contention concerning complete acceptance of the Qu'ran's contradictory teachings concerning the use of violence in the propagation of Islamic faith. The earlier Chapters of the Qu'ran, received when Muhammad lived in Mecca, state that there should be "no compulsion in religion," meaning that no violence was to be used in the propagation of the Islamic religion. (Qu'ran, Chapter 2, verse 256). During the early period of Muhammad's life he "received" Qu'ranic verses in which the Bible is recommended as a true message from God, and Jews and Christians are mentioned as worthy neighbors of the Muslims. (Qu'ran, Chapter 2, verse 121 and Chapter 3, verse 3). Records of Muhammad's life during that period reveal, however, that he expected the Jews and Christians of the area to be the first of the hearers of the new religion to embrace it. It seems that Muhammad finally was frustrated to find that they did not accept the teachings.
Later Muhammad and his then relatively small group of followers fled 200 miles north to the city of Medina to escape persecution from their Arab neighbors in Mecca. The later Chapters of the Qu'ran were "received" by Muhammad in Medina where he and his followers entered into warfare with their neighbors, finally converting almost the entire populace of the Medina area to Islam except for the Jews and Christians. The Chapters "received" in Medina indicated a change of heart concerning relationships with Jews and Christians. So in the later chapters of the Qu'ran "received" in Medina, it is people like the Jews and Christians who are referenced as "idolators," subject to be slain wherever the Islamic army might find them. (Qu'ran, Chapter 9. verses 4, 5, and 14).
The dichotomy between the Qu'ranic verses received at Mecca and the Qu'ranic verses received at Medina engenders debate among Muslims today. Some Muslims wish to accept only the non violent portion of the Qu'ran "received" by the Prophet in Mecca. Others claim that the early Meccan verses, which clearly are contradicted by the later Medinan verses, were "abrogated" (annulled) by the Prophet Muhammad himself. Moreover they claim that both versions of the "compulsion in religion" revelations were presented to Muhammad as the will of Allah and were correct for their individual times. But they contend that the later verses, calling for use of violent force in making conversions to Islam, are the verses intended by Allah for Muslims today. The "bottom line" today seems to be that most Muslims of the world accept all the Qu'ranic verses calling for violence against the infidels. After all, they have been taught that the Qu'ran is "the literal and uncreated word of God," with the result that they virtually worship the book itself as being immutable. Though many Muslims of the world do not answer the call to violent jihad (holy struggle), they do not oppose it, believing that it must be the will of God since it is in the Holy Qu'ran. This seems to account for the fact that some Muslims, even those at the present living peacefully with people of other religions, cannot bring themselves to condemn the violent acts of the Islamists, and often privately applaud them. There is really no reason for anyone to believe that the religion of Islam is going to reform itself by eliminating the Qu'ranic verses calling for violent jihad.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ISLAMIST TERRORISM.
Why has this Islamist terrorist threat to overthrow the western world being made at this time in contemporary history? The answer is that it has always been a part of the Qu'ranic imperative and is not new. It has raged almost continuously since the seventh century. Muhammad was born in Mecca around the year A. D. 570. By the year A. D. 622 Muhammad had "received" already the earlier portions of the Qu'ran, and had fled from Mecca to the town of Medina. He continued to "receive" additional portions of the Qu'ran in Medina and then began to forcibly "convert" the "infidel" Arabs of that area to become Muslims. By the year 630, Muhammad's warriors had pretty well completed the conversion of the people around Medina and Muhammad had moved back to Mecca with an army to bring the people of that area into the fold. By Muhammad's death about the year 632 that part of the Arabian peninsula now known as Saudi Arabia had been fully "converted."
After Muhammad's death, his followers first moved north to conquer and "convert" Persia, an area which at that time extended much further north and west than present day Persia (Iran). Then the armies moved back south toward the empires of the Middle Eastern world. By the year 641 the armies of Islam had conquered and "converted" all that part of the Middle East now known as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. By the year 654 Islamic control had spread into Egypt and all of North Africa. About the year 710 Islamic forces moved across the straits of Gibraltar to conquer Spain. By about the year 718 the entire Iberian Peninsula had fallen to Islamic forces.
Further Islamic expansion efforts into France and other parts of Europe were defeated but continued into parts of Asia and Africa. During the tenth century invading Islamic armies took the Islamic religion into India. Substantial evidence of Islam did not appear in Malasia and Indonesia until the thirteenth century, and then it was said to be through the influence of Muslim seamen and traders. It was said that the religion of Islam was not imposed on the Far East by Islamic armies as it was in earlier years in the Middle East, but was adopted gradually, first by the rulers of the Far Eastern kingdoms as they did business with Muslim traders who often dominated trade routes during the Middle Ages. During the Twelfth and Thirteenth centuries the Islamic world influence probably reached its zenith in military and political power. But, after that, Islamic influence declined along with decline in political power. However, today, at the dawn of the Twenty First century, the adherents to the religion of Islam are more than they ever have been, numbering more than one billion people, a full one fifth of the entire world's population. Now, even in the United States, there are some six million Muslims, most of whom have immigrated recently from Islamic countries.
Modern accounts of Islamic history through the centuries usually say that Muslim conquests have been based on "liberation" rather than "subjugation" of conquered peoples. However, the conquered people in those countries where Islamic Sharia (rules for life spelled out by the Qu'ran) has been imposed may have thought of it more as subjugation. The Qu'ran spells out how conquered "infidels" are to be treated. It calls for them "to repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due," and asks, "how can there be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters save those with whom ye made a treaty at the Inviolable Place of Worship? So long as they are true to you, be true to them." It further questions, "How can there be any treaty for the rest?" (Qu'ran Chapter 9, verses 6-8). "The rest" seems to mean, those who do not agree to be subjugated by Qu'ranic Sharia. (The prior verse had already called for the slaying of the idolaters who would not agree to such a treaty.) The non-Muslims in those Islamic countries governed by Islamic Sharia are strictly required to take second-class status while still being required to pay taxes. The open practice of any religion other than Islam under Islamic Sharia is prohibited on pain of death. Present day models of Islamic Sharia are practiced in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and parts of Pakistan. Another present day model of Sharia has recently been overthrown in Afghanistan.
THE QU'RAN VERSUS CHRISTIANITY.
A form of so-called Christianity existed among the people of the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century when Mohammad lived and supposedly "received" the actual chapters and verses of the Qu'ran. Pagan forms of idolatry also existed there. Why did not true Christianity make further progress among the people of the Arabian Peninsula at that time? Perhaps it was the same reason then that it has not made much progress in Islamic countries ever since. Isaiah first said it and the Apostle Paul reminded us of it in the New Testament, how God's people have almost always failed to effectively propagate God's gospel to the people of the world: "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you" (Romans 2:24), meaning to Christians today that God's gospel is often thrown aside by people of the world because of the evil conduct of Christians purporting to propagate it.
Obviously, Satan was spiritually active on the Arabian Peninsula attempting to corrupt the understanding of Christians as well as everyone else. It was into this worldly climate that the Qu'ran was introduced with an attractive call to throw out idolatry and go back to the worship of the one true God of Abraham who had been a Muslim, that is, one who had surrendered his life to God. (Abraham truly had been a man who surrendered his life to God. In this reference a truth of God was borrowed to support a lie, a well know ploy of Satan.)
One has but to compare the precepts of the Word of God in the Bible with the precepts stated in the Qu'ran to recognize that a masterful Satanic mind designed the Qu'ran. It declares over and over again throughout its pages opposition to every important doctrine of the eternal gospel of God. The Qu'ran reads as though its creator had God's Bible laid open before him as he furtively created ways to conceal from readers any knowledge of the real love of God toward mankind, especially to conceal that "God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we (mankind) might live through Him." (I John 4:9).
The Qu'ran indeed does present God as all powerful and all knowing, but not as all caring. In fact, in the Qu'ran Allah is made out to have given people inviolable rules of conduct but to otherwise be uninvolved with them and unconcerned if they choose to go to hell by violating the rules. This has resulted in little or no assurance among Muslims concerning their personal salvation beyond this life. It is thought that the main reason some Muslims are willing to commit to be suicide-bombers is that this is the only so-called "sacrificial act" for which the Qu'ran assures anyone of heaven. On the other hand, the mere act of committing suicide without killing "infidels" in the process is said to be a sin that may send a Muslim to hell.
Satan has seen to it that in Islamic countries only the Qu'ran is presented to religiously educate young people, as many as possible as early in life as possible. Within the closed borders of Islamic countries training of young people exclusively in the Qu'ran has thrived since the seventh century. Although God created all people as free will agents, the Qu'ran does not permit anyone freedom of thought to question its precepts. The borders of Islamic countries are closed, as much as possible, to inroads of thought from any other religion. And incidentally, democracy with its openness to freedom of speech is forbidden by the Qu'ran and, therefore, has never been an acceptable form of government to Muslims.
Nevertheless, to Christians who have faith in their Lord who is known to have fed more than 5,000 people with only five loaves and three fish, there is faith that the gospel can be communicated to all the Muslims of the world and that all who hunger can be spiritually fed. With the rise in the Muslim population and every other population group in the world, God has made available increased means of communication and travel that are available for use by Christians. Christians have been asked by their Savior to be responsible only to preach and teach the word of God, not to be responsible for anyone's salvation. Our Savior, the Word, takes it upon Himself to do that.
"So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11, NASV.
THE RESPONSE OF CHRISTIANS TO THE 9/11 ATROCITIES.
That a state of war against the Islamist terrorists exists in the United States and throughout the world should come as no surprise to people who are Christians. God has revealed through His Bible that He has consigned His arch-enemy, Satan, to the spiritual environs of the world to spiritually test His creation, mankind, whom He has "called according to His purpose." Satan has arrayed his evil forces against God in an attempt to thwart the spiritual purposes of God. In so doing, Satan tries to stir up intense spiritual conflict within the hearts of mankind and direct this conflict into fleshly warfare which destroys both spiritual and fleshly lives. Of course, the response of worldly governments to fleshly violence within their jurisdictions are restricted to fleshly violence in kind. Warfare on earth is but a side effect of the spiritual warfare constantly being waged by Satan against God in the spiritual realm. (Revelation 12:7).
It then is understandable that Jesus Christ Himself, during His fleshly incarnation, knowing Satan from "face to face" encounter, and knowing the hearts of worldly men, forecast "wars and rumors of wars" (Matthew 24:6), and horrible worldly catastrophes for the "last days" of the world. Christians will remember, however, that God has promised to turn even the most unrighteous of the Satan generated catastrophes to righteous use as "trumpets" of warning (Revelation chapters 8 and 9) and "bowls of God's wrath" (Revelation chapters 15 and 16) and to give spiritual victory to His faithful people in the end. The 9/11 catastrophes were undoubtedly planned and carried out by forces of Satan seeking to interrupt God's ministry of love to mankind. And the catastrophes occurring in our time today undoubtedly are being used by God to complete His righteous work (1) to show mercy to the repentant and forgiven souls whose bodies die in the catastrophes, (2) to execute His judgment of wrath upon the unrepentant and unforgiven evil souls whose bodies die in the catastrophes, and (3) to sound trumpets of warning to challenge those souls of the world whose bodies live on after the catastrophes.
Christians take great comfort in the knowledge that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28). Christians understand that the "all things" from which God can bring forth good include even the evil atrocities of the 9/11 tragedies. But Christians often fail to recognize the challenge to their own lives contained in this promise of God. It is similar to the challenge which was given of old by God to the people of Israel: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40). Even during Old Testament times a person's love for God was to be measured in that person's love for his neighbors. Similarly, God's promise to Christians, to "cause all things to work together for good," is not extended unilaterally to passive inactive souls but "to those who are called according to His purpose," "to those who love God." To paraphrase one might say, God's promise for "all things to work together for good" is to those who are actively trying to carry out God's purpose by appropriating the love that flows only from God and actively exercising it toward others who are in urgent need of it.
To this end God has given Christians the divine gifts of faith, love, and hope (I Corinthians 13:13), not only to sustain their personal lives on earth but also to make them part of a spiritual mechanism which, when fueled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, impels Christians to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15). This high priority assignment makes Christians a part of God's purposeful operation of loving and saving the souls of as many people worldwide who can be persuaded by God's word to accept the grace of God. Indeed, God calls Christians, the brethren of His own Son, Jesus, to be about their Father's business.
What, then, should be the response of Christians to the 9/11 "trumpet" of warning, the response of Christians whom God has protected thus far from the terrorist atrocities prevalent in the world? Can the response be anything less than the exercise of all-out spiritual warfare against the would be perpetrators of such atrocities? Isn't it obvious to Christians when asked what their response to the Islamist terrorist threat should be, that they should answer, "we must wield the sword of the Spirit against the Islamists," or, in other words, "we must preach the gospel of Christ to them?" Why have we not heard this answer emanating loud and clear from the churches of Christ of America during the past months since September 11, 2001?
It may be necessary for Christians to answer the call of secular government in fleshly warfare against the Islamists (Romans 13:1-7), but the first responsibility of Christians should be to the call of their spiritual King. He has said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36), but, in view of the high priority spiritual needs of mankind, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:15)
With Love, F. M. Perry