Essay at PARSE: Three Christian Responses to Religious Violence
August 22, 2014
At the invitation of Paul Pastor I wrote an essay published today in response to the violence of the militant Islamic group ISIL/ISIS. It is titled "Three Christians Responses to Religious Violence: In a world of bloodshed 'for God" three peaceful ways forward." An excerpt:
Over the course of the last few months, the news media has shared the concerns of political leaders and their citizens over the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL or ISIS), which has moved with shocking speed and brutality from Syria into Iraq. Along the way, ISIL has murdered people across the religious and ethnic spectrum—from Muslims, to Christians, to Yazidis, has threatened Christians with either conversion or expulsion from their homes, and has turned thousands of people into refugees.
Just over the past days, shock and outrage have come from the international community in response to a (confirmed authentic) video of the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist, done in response to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.
What options are available for a Christian response to such things? With ongoing tensions and violence posed by terrorism inspired by Islamic extremism, this is unfortunately a question that we will need to wrestle with for some time to come.
One option is to counter violence with violence through military action. Recently, a group of over 50 conservative religious leaders signed a petition calling on President Obama to increase the use of military force to destroy the Islamic State. This included some prominent Evangelicals—such as Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jim Daley of Focus on the Family. At times, the use of armed violence seems necessary to combat evil (Rom. 13:3-4), but what other tools should Evangelicals have in their toolkit in responding to this challenge?