Monday, February 6, 2006

All who take up the sword shall perish by the sword

Unless you live under a rock, you've heard by now that (a) the Steelers have won Super Bowl XL in Dee-troit, and (b) some idiot cartoonist in Denmark made an inappropriate drawing of the prophet Muhammed, against which Muslims worldwide are protesting because icons of Muhammed are forbidden so as to prevent idol worship. (However, I attended a meeting of the Young Anatolian Society at which students chanted, "The name of Muhammed is beautiful; the person of Muhammed is beautiful.")

An imam stands by at the torching of the Danish embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

Now for Muslims to be upset shouldn't come as a surprise; drawing one's chief holy man with a bomb on his head instead of a turban is quite inconsiderate. But for people who persistently claim that Islam (submission--supposedly to Allah) is a religion of peace and humility before God, their response comes as the real shocker. Now, there are a lot of Islamic organizations concerned for others' welfare, but some mandates from the Qur'an reveal the other side of Islam:

Fight in God's cause against those who fight you, but do not overstep the limits: God does not love those who overstep the limits. Kill them wherever you encounter them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing [i.e., it's worse to be persecuted than to kill those who persecute you]. . . . Fight them until there is no more persecution, and [your] worship is devoted to God. (Al-Baqara, 2:190-191, 193)

Fighting is ordained for you, though you dislike it. You may dislike something although it is good for you, or like something although it is bad for you: God knows and you do not. . . . But to those who have believed, migrated, and striven for God's cause, it is they who can look forward to God's mercy: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Al-Baqara, 2:216, 218)

Many prophets have fought, with large bands of godly men alongside them who, in the face of their sufferings for God's cause, did not lose heart or weaken or surrender--God loves those who are steadfast. (Al 'Imram, 3:147)

Rioters burned the Danish consulate in Damascus, Syria.

The testimony of the Qur'an--allegedly from the same God who sent Jesus of Nazareth--is that while fighting of itself isn't good, when used to fight against and eradicate 'persecutors' for the sake of Allah and receiving his mercy, then it's not only virtuous, but demanded. This is hardly the biblical testimony--especially that of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount*:

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven . . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:43-46)
Protestors here in Istanbul burning an effigy of the Danish prime minister.

Even when he was taken into custody and beaten and mocked, Jesus knew there was no place for retribution, malice, bitterness, or bloodshed (Matthew 26:51-54; Luke 22:38, 49-51; 1 Peter 2:23; cf. Romans 12:14-21; 1 Peter 2:18-25; 3:8-18; 4:12-19). And for those who know and trust in his cross, we know that only love and forgiveness have place in this life, through which God may lead some of our aggressors to his mercy. Others will be duly recompensed in hell. There is no injustice with God. "'But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20-21).

So praise God that we who know Christ have a safe refuge in him, and that he has loved us even when we were his enemies, hostile to him (Luke 23:34; Romans 5:8; 8:7; Colossians 1:21). And pray that God would turn this situation for good, so that Muslims worldwide would grow disenchanted with Islam on account of this violence.

"My kingship is not of this world. If my kingship were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, my kingship is not of this realm" (John 18:36).

*For this reason, and in response to my previous post, I currently disagree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's justification of an assassination plot against Adolf Hitler. Though civil disobedience has its place, unified prayer and fasting are surely the answer as opposed to murder.

1 comment:

Ryan P.T. said...

I think where you're at theologically, you should take a look at the Lutheran doctrine of Two Kingdoms. I have a feeling you'll jive with it.

Now about Bonhoeffer: first, you need to ask yourself, Do I ever murder? I'm speaking in the Sermon on the Mount variety--the same portion of scripture you cited. I know, for me, the answer is Yes. This is not to excuse Bonhoeffer by way of saying, Well, we all murder--why not do it in real life! He knew it was sin. He knew it was evil. However, he also knew that Hitler was evil, and to let him continue as he was was compliance in said evil. Consequently, he--through much prayer and fasting I'm sure!--acted on what he perceived to be the lesser of two evils. This is the essence of Luther's famous (infamous?) words: sin boldly, but trust in Christ more boldly still (paraphrasing). And to Bonhoeffer's credit, he refused to call himself a religious martyr. He knew it was sin. But it was what he had to do; and he trusted that Christ's atonement was enough for him to be forgiven.