A Christian response to Jihadist attacks on Paris
by James Fratzia,
17 November 2015
Western media rapidly reported the horrific murders of Parisians by ISIL jihadists on 14 November 2015.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated “These attacks are not only aimed at the French people, but also democracy, freedom and universal values; terror has no religion, nation nor any value it represents,” when referring to the terrorist murders in Paris. What he means by these things is probably different to the French Republic’s understanding of universal values.
On January 7 2015, regarding the murders of people at Charlie Hebdo, John Kerry US Secretary of State said “Today’s murders are part of a larger confrontation, not between civilizations – no – but between civilization itself and those who are opposed to a civilized world.” On November 17 2015, in Paris, he said “Don’t mistake what these attacks represent. This is not a clash of civilisations, these terrorists have declared war against all civilisation.”
Israel’s Prime Minister called on world leaders to condemn acts of “terrorism” and “radical Islam” perpetrated by Palestinians, claiming “the terrorists who attack us have the same murderous intent as those in Paris.”
“The time has come for the world to wake up and unite in order to defeat terrorism. The time has come for countries to condemn terrorism against us to the same degree that they condemn terrorism everywhere else in the world,”
Pope Francis stated “I am shaken, pained, and I pray. I am very close to the much loved French people, I am close to the families of the victims and I pray for all of them.”
Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi stated the Vatican was “shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the Pope and all those who love peace. This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”
“…to forgive the terrorists is up to God but to send them to him is up to me” #ISIS #Syria #Moscow pic.twitter.com/hmTdvnb25C 1. Whether this quote is accurate is uncertain but it represents the desire for revenge voiced by French President, Francois Hollande.
Nothing has actually changed?
Atrocities in the name of God, other deities or ideologies are not new to human experience. They have always characterised human society, and the Jihadist is just another ideological fanatic willing to use psychopathic violence. Jihad is not a force fighting against civilisation as such. It is fighting for the supremacy of an Islamic civilisation of a particular historically-based flavour.
The Turkish president believes in the God of the Qu’ran and democracy, freedom and universal values but his country occupies northern Cyprus and suppresses secularists, Kurdish separatists and left wingers. John Kerry’s constitution refers to a ‘nation under God’, but the God of the United States Government appears to be a capitalistic liberal secular humanism with political correctness defining the ethics of it’s public discourse. Israel is a Zionist State engaged in a violent fight for it’s survival against non-Jews who also call Israeli territory as home. Pope Francis is the head of an Institution that has historically succeeded to suppress rivals and stand between God and man, effectively taking the place of God and replacing the good news of a personal relationship with Jesus via it’s doctrines, officials and sacred practises. Vladimir Putin constantly appeals to legal conventions to which others must adhere to justify Russia’s actions in his own struggle against them.
All these world leaders represent their political elites and power bases. They all govern their own geographical regions, and the peoples within them. These leaders mutually reinforce the legitimacy of each other to have the status, power and control which they represent. An international system exists validating their power and restricting their ability to impinge on one another’s authority. In my view, ‘hubris’ and delusion characterises their view of their own legitimacy because they are largely ignorant of the bigger picture in which they operate, and the limited power which they yield. Though it sounds bizarre, the Bible reveals a bigger picture which involves much more spiritual power, force and authority in human relationships than most people are willing to acknowledge. The power of human leaders is not based on human factors alone. It is this context, it is not simply the purely modern humanistic political and religious considerations which are relevant.
God actually does fit into this situation!
God has acted on multiple occasions throughout human history because He was fed up with the behaviour and thinking of human beings. On each occasions he has acted with grace in the context of judgement.
- He threw Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden, both as a protection and as judgement. At the same time He threw out of His presence the spiritual being involved in humanity’s fall. But God did not abandon humanity. In this struggle, God repeatedly gives humans another chance but He does not do this for rebellious spiritual beings/’gods’ (Psalm 82:1-8). God prescribed an endless struggle between the ‘seed‘ of the Eve and the ‘seed‘ of Satan. All human history fits into this spiritual paradigm to a lesser or greater extent.
- Following a rapid decline in the hearts of humankind he then flooded the earth and destroyed most of humanity. But God did save Noah and his family.
- Following continued rebellion, God did not destroy Noah’s descendants but disinherited them (Genesis 11:1-9, Deuteronomy 32:8-9, Romans 1:18-25). The relevant thing here is that he created divisions amongst those He disinherited and placed them under the power of the spiritual beings (Deuteronomy 4:19-20) who have always played a role in human behaviour and history – and are still doing so today. But He did make a commitment to one man and his family – Abraham. It is from this man which Jews, Christians and Muslims claim spiritual authenticity.
- From Abraham came a Jacob who later became known as ‘Israel’, who’s descendants were enslaved in Egypt, then rescued miraculously by God and moved into a land called Canaan, roughly where modern Israel exists. These people were God’s specific ‘portion’, the rest of humanity earlier divided amongst other spiritual beings originally created by God. But Israel too rebelled and were disinherited in three successive steps2 3.
- Having eventually became fed up with the rebellion of the remaining Israel (the Jews), God created a ‘new’ Israel 4 spiritually connected to Him via Jesus His Son. These people are Christians and include people from all nations who follow Jesus 5.
In this period of grace6 people can chose to join God through Jesus or remain under the spiritual powers of ‘other gods’ as they chose. Like most people, most human leaders today don’t realise that they are not actually in control. They are heavily influenced by these ‘other gods’ who have geographical and ethnic power over them as determined by God in prehistoric times. Whether their ideology is religious or secular is irrelevant because from a Biblical perspective they are all under the influence of these spiritual beings. But modern leaders are too flawed to recognise the reality of their situation. Though they believe they serve other agendas and ideologies, in the end they are actually serving these ‘other gods’ because they belong to these other Gods. There is no difference whether they are Jihadists or liberal humanists – they are all disinherited by God and serving ‘other gods’ without even knowing it. There is no ‘Christian’ ‘nation’ on earth – all serve other gods.
The following historical examples might help in understanding this point. Germany was not a Christian country prior to Hitler coming to power and it is not a Christian country today. The same spirit that made Germany a NAZI killing machine still exists because the NAZI ideology still exists in the hearts and minds of those influenced by this (literal) spirit. The form of communist tyranny which murdered millions under Stalin was an ideology that had a spiritual power possessing and enabling it. These powers compete with one another and with God as we saw in WWII. But ultimately they are evil. Some of these beings are even specifically identified in the Bible eg. the Prince of Greece (Daniel 10:20) and the Prince of Persia (Iran Daniel 10:13). Some expressions of these spiritual powers empowering human behaviour may be overtly religious and we can think of many examples of these, some with horrific murderous practises such as the Aztec worship of the ‘sun god’ who required continuous human sacrifice at times. Whether religious or secular ideological in expression, human behaviour is influenced and frequently serves such beings.
A short historical example from the Bible
Though the escape of the Jews from Egyptian enslavement is attested historically, the Bible reveals that behind this human history is rebellion by powerful spiritual beings empowering the Egyptians against God (and His chosen portion of the human race).
While captive in Egypt, Israelites who understood the disinheritance of most of humanity by God would have asked “We are suffering, where is God?”. This familiar question is asked by all of us after horrific injustices, such as the slaughter of so many people in Paris. It took a long time for God to answer, but when He did so it was astounding.
The Egyptians (a representative human world power) had no idea that they themselves were also enslaved and empowered by the spiritual beings placed over them by God when He disinherited humanity after the flood. Their hubris due to their power and impunity is evident when challenged by Moses, who is sent to them by the one true and living God (Exodus 5:2).
The Pharaonic delusion of power and self-righteousness prevents recognition of the reality of almighty God behind Moses and the enslaved Israelites who would have seemed pathetic peasants to the sophisticated Egyptians. God who created the universe and who intervenes in human history for the sake of His humanity is above all ‘gods’, including their Egyptian Gods, and the spiritual beings behind them.
Though there is a purely human historical reconstruction which secular archaeologists and ancient historians can construct, the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt is presented in the Bible to have occurred so that God can deliver them, demonstrating His uniqueness and irresistible supremacy against all forces against Him, whether they be spiritual or human. This always applies when we witness or experience injustice and people ask “where is God?”.
God’s response to Pharaoh’s failure to acknowledge Him is to send terrible plagues against Egypt which cause much suffering amongst the Egyptians. But it is the Egyptian gods, and more specifically rebellious spiritual beings to whom the Egyptians have been allotted, who are the target of the plagues (Exodus 12:12;Numbers 33:4). Interestingly, the Egyptians considered Pharaoh to be the son of the God Re, whereas the enslaved nation of Israel was God’s son (Exodus 4:23; Hosea 11:1). God demonstrates His absolute victory in this cosmic conflict by the historical act of taking the nation of Israel out of Egypt, across the Red Sea and into the Sinai on the way to the land of Canaan He had promised them. Israel didn’t save themselves as ancient historians would argue, God saved them with an imprint in human history.
It is not surprising that Moses sings of the uniqueness of an incomparable almighty God (Exodus 15:11, Exodus 15:17). The same irresistible power to defeat rebellious spiritual beings and save His human ‘portion’ was used to create the universe and demonstrated by overcoming the chaotic forces of nature (Psalm 74:16-17) . There is no other ‘true’ God, only God, the king of all ‘gods’.
It is irrelevant if Jihadists in Paris murder people in the name of the ‘one God’ because they have a ‘grievance’ or a ‘justification’ – it is still ideological self-delusion, and it is still cold-blooded murder. Historically they stand in Islamic Jihadist tradition but theologically they are enslaved by a ‘god’ who is not God.
Many may ask “where is God?”. The message of the Bible is that the one ‘true’ God, acts in human history for the sake of His people, for the sake of His Son, and for the sake of those who belong to His Son – His sons and daughters.
A Christian Response to Contemporary Jihad
Even though the flow of refugees may contain violent fanatics, Christians should always help those understandably fleeing from terror. In particular, widows and orphans. There is a special duty toward other Christian believers. Yet Christians have no theological basis however, to oppose sufficient security processing of such people by the countries they transit or settle.
Transformation of society into an Islamic theocracy with Islamic law is arguably the Qu’ranic duty of all Muslims.
It is hard to see how variants of such a vision which involve intimidation, oppression and discrimination against those who do not hold this view is consistent with peaceful co-existence and individual freedom. Ultimately, the only ‘innocents’ from Jihadist Islamic perspective are other pro-Jihad Muslims – everyone else is an apostate, an infidel, or booty to be surrendered or enslaved. This explains why though many Islamic groups in the West denounce such terrorist murders of ‘innocents’ as anti-Islamic, this condemnation is far from unanimous. The Islamic understanding of what is an ‘innocent’ is inconsistent with a Judeo-Christian or secular liberal-humanist notion of ‘innocence’.
An Islamic ‘peace’, in the final analysis, is not an option for non-Muslims. It seems to me it isn’t even an option for freedom-loving and peaceful ‘nominal’ muslims as well.
Democracy & Freedom
Christianity is not about the creation of a Christian State.
Christianity is concerned with individual spiritual transformation, and the peaceful existence of voluntary Christian communities (known as churches) free to worship the LORD without hindrance. In a world with many different ideologies, both religious and secular, Christians should pray for a society which is free of intimidation, harassment and exploitation of Christians, and other groups who are committed to living in peace with their neighbours. Christians should pray for a society with just laws that respects the individual rights to chose and think as they wish without persecution. It doesn’t really sound like most societies around the world, if any.
Democracy is a ‘bad’ system, but in general, others are even worse 7
The nature of the Battle is bigger than most acknowledge
The apostle Paul recognised this 2,000 years ago when he said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 The hubris, agendas and delusionary self-importance of such leaders means that Christians should not expect that any of these leaders acknowledge this spiritual reality behind events, or the influence of this spiritual reality upon their thinking and actions. Therefore, atrocities justified in the name of God will continue, and human leaders will repeatedly act and react in an endless cycle of oppression and violence until God steps in and cancels all resistance in both the spiritual and earthly realms.
Yet it isn’t hopeless, because in the meantime God misses nothing. He hears the prayer of his people. He is is coming. To His people who cry out “Where is our God?”, be assured that God does act in human history, sometimes even using even ignorant human leaders and nations who do not acknowledge Him. The irresistible weapon Christians have is the gospel of God’s love, the assurance of our acceptance by God as Christians, and an ability to pray for the demolition of even the most powerful ideologies and powers yielded by man. Those who murdered so many in Paris claim to fight for God, but God actually does His own fighting on behalf of His people against the ‘dark’ forces in both earthly and spiritual realms which murder and oppress – and it is for this divine response that Christians should pray.
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- The first was when the kingdom was divided into the Northern Kingdom and Judah. The second was the Assyrian destruction of the Northern Kindom of Israel. The third was the Babylonian destruction of Judah and the exile of the Jews. The fourth occurred after God had graciously given them another chance and moved the Persian King Cyrus to allow the Jews to return from exile and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. However, this ended when they crucified Jesus when the power that raised Jesus from the dead began to move amongst Jews and non-Jews alike to create the ‘new’ Israel. The Roman destruction of Jerusalem and scattering of the Jews in 68 A.D. from was an epilogue to the process of disinheritance
- Despite the flow of Biblical theology, many Christians do not believe they have been completely disinherited as a nation, and this is a particular pro-Israel influence on US foreign policy
- Jewish converts to Chrisitanity and Christians from other nations, ethnicities and races
- This demonstrates once and for all the methodology God has chosen to end the otherwise endless struggle between the ‘seed‘ of the Eve and the ‘seed‘ of Satan – God himself will set things right.
- Between the resurrection of Jesus and the return of Jesus
- Winston Churchill’s actual line was “Democracy is the worst form of Government. Except for all the other forms”. He also said an “appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping to be eaten last.”