ISIS, JONAH, NINEVEH, AND US

Immigration and refugees were powder-keg issues in the 2016 presidential elections and remain pivotal today. A dear friend of mine, a former Muslim and native of the Middle East, who is now an American citizen with multiple ministries to Muslims, has a unique perspective on these issues. I asked his permission to share the following with you. I’ve withheld his name for reasons that will become apparent as you read. DS.

“The current political atmosphere has impacted ministry to Muslims and refugees. When I speak to churches about this subject, I find a growing number of believers who are apathetic to Muslims, and who are more interested in how awful Islam can be, than in why and how they can love Muslims. Some, who are interested in becoming missionaries, are reluctant to consider ministry to Muslims.

We need to ask ourselves these tough questions: Are we angry with Muslims, afraid of them, or do we love them? Is there in our hearts any hatred toward them? Do we pray for the salvation of the terrorists? What if an ISIS terrorist became a follower of Jesus? Would we forgive his or her atrocities? Could someone like the current Caliph of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, be saved?

We are familiar with the story of Jonah and Nineveh. Some may even know that modern Mosul, a stronghold of ISIS where the Caliphate was first declared, and now undergoing liberation by Iraqi forces, sits on top of ancient Nineveh.

Nineveh, during Jonah’s time, was not that different from Mosul under ISIS. Both were brutal, evil, and godless.

Jonah 1:1-2 says,

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’

How evil were the ancient Ninevites? Here is an example:

The head of Tiumman was fixed over the gate of Nineveh, to rot before the eyes of the multitude. Dunanu was slowly flayed alive, and then bled like a lamb; his brother Shambunu had his throat cut, and his body was divided into pieces, which were distributed over the country as a warning.[1]

ISIS does the same kind of barbaric and brutal things to its enemies today. Jonah did not like the Ninevites, just as most of us do not like ISIS, the modern Ninevites. He was reluctant to deliver the word of the Lord to them and tried instead to flee to Tarshish (in modern Spain), which was the end of the known world in his day. He wanted to avoid the mission altogether.

Are we also abandoning our mission to ‘deliver the word of the Lord’ to those we consider to be our enemies today?

I am not naive to the dangers of ISIS. I was one of those who gave early warnings about terrorist creeds, strategies, and tactics that you hear of today. My name appears on one of their published ‘hit lists.’ They have executed people I know and care about. I watched their executions on ISIS videos. Neither my family nor I feel safe, even in America.

But I think some of us are like Jonah. We are either trying to buy a ticket on a ship which will take us as far as possible from the Ninevites, or we have already set sail.

If we are to avoid Jonah’s mistake, we need to remember something: yes, all ISIS are Muslims, but not all Muslims are ISIS. In fact, ISIS atrocities are more disgusting to most Muslims than they are to us. Because of ISIS, Muslims are questioning their religion and attempting to reform it, or reduce it to simple cultural observance, like Americans with Christmas, or are abandoning it altogether.

Muslims are also children of Adam–like we are. They are born under the sin of Adam, like we are, and they need a redeemer, like we do. Let us not allow the atrocities of some Muslims cause us to reject all Muslims. You can hate Satan, but not his victims. May we all learn from and obey Christ who said: ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Matthew 5:44.”

[1] Maspero, G. (Gaston), The Passing of the Empires, 850 B.C. to 330 B.C., London 1900, P. 413.

 

SOFT TARGETS: The Orlando Massacre

 

“Trapp in bathroom … he coming … I’m gonna die.”

Those final texts from Eddie Justice to his mom moments before he was killed early Sunday morning will forever define the Orlando Massacre, the Islamic terrorist attack on the gay nightclub, PULSE.

At least they will for me. My heart broke when I read them.

Two thoughts flashed through my mind when I first read Eddie’s words amid the breaking news of the shooting: Islam again! And, Soft target!

They were quickly followed by, what on earth were all those people doing in such a crowded, unsecured, place with few exits, drinking, dancing and partying? Were none of them armed? Did they not know this was the eve of Ramadan? Are they unaware of the threat environment in which we all live? PULSE could just as easily have been FCC, or any church in the nation. Jihadists hate Christians as much as they hate gays. It could also have been a veteran’s parade, a Memorial Day service, any soft target that represents the full freedoms of America.

Some may think I’m blaming the victims for thinking this way. It’s true; my dad taught me long ago that nothing good happens in a bar after midnight, and I’ve never regretted heeding that advice. But hear me out.

I’ve learned not to trust my initial thoughts on something like Orlando until more reports come out, but having now reviewed them, I think I was right. The shooter clearly linked himself to Islamic Jihad during his crime, and PULSE, even though it had an armed off-duty police officer who tried to intervene, was definitely a soft target.

Of course, those are just the basics. There’s much more to it, like the shooter’s earlier visits to the bar, his alleged attempts to pick-up gay men, his trips to Saudi Arabia, two prior FBI investigations into his activities that drew a blank, and the list goes on.

Related issues include gun control, the theological foundations of Islamic terror, and the biblical understanding of the use of force. I’ve written extensively about these things and will provide the links below.

But for now I think Americans of all stripes need to do three things.

First, we need to reach out in love and service to the gay community. They are really hurting and they need to be reassured that all Americans, including and especially evangelical Christians, hurt with them. Scripture says to overcome evil with good. Chic-Fil-A has led the way by breaking their famous “closed on Sunday,” policy in Orlando to serve the wounded and their care-givers. We need to match it.

Second, we need to keep our government official’s feet to the fire about the politically correct institutional, administrative, and investigative limits that have been imposed on the FBI and other Federal law enforcement entities that prevent them from following up on legitimate leads in order to avoid so-called discrimination against Islamic Americans. The Obama Administration bears principle responsibility for hog-tying law enforcement in this area. I don’t fault Mr. Obama for following his principles, but he needs to realize when he’s wrong.

Finally, all of us need to tell ourselves the truth about the nature of the Jihadist, and other violent threats, on soft targets. This danger pre-dates 9-11, has ramped up since then, and will not go away simply by wishing it were not so. How we choose to prepare for that threat is up to each individual and institution, but until the threat environment changes we need to be prepared to meet it, or else to stay out of soft targets.

Links to other articles:

ISIS IN PARIS -https://daneskelton.com/category/islam/

STOP THE SHOOTINGS (thoughts on gun control)  – https://daneskelton.com/category/guns/

RESISTING EVIL IN A VIOLENT WORLD – http://www.fccsobo.org/rwt-blog-39101

WILL WE BELIEVE THEM NOW?

No one should be shocked by Paris.

Nothing has changed and no one should be shocked by what took place in France last Friday, least of all our national leaders. The catalogue of catastrophe caused by Islamists is long and only recently includes Paris, Charlie Hebdo, Beirut, Lebanon, and the Russian airliner downed in Sinai. While our hearts go out to our oldest allies we need to get our heads in the game. Perhaps now we will. Perhaps.

As K. T. MacFarland, who served in national security posts under the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations recently wrote, “It is slowly dawning on the West that radical Islam is the existential threat of our times, as fascism was in World War II, as communism was in the Cold War. We can’t cooperate with it, we can’t convert it and we can’t contain it. We must defeat it.”

Like the Nazis and Communists before them, the Islamo-fascists of ISIS, Al Quaeda, Boko Haram, and all of the other iterations of Salafist-Sunni, and radical Shia have been and continue to be quite clear about their philosophy, their goals and their methods. They want nothing less than world domination, where everyone bows to Allah and lives according to Sharia, and they will commit mass murder, including mass murder against other Muslims, to achieve it.

Will we believe them now?

The problem for Western leaders, President Obama in particular, is that we cannot fight what we will not name. The president has resolutely refused to acknowledge, much less speak to the theological core that motivates these murderers. As my friend, former Muslim, and Islamic scholar Samer recently told me, “ISIS cannot be defeated by airstrikes. You could thin down their leadership but you will never kill their zeal and persistence. Solving this issue can not be solved by military action alone but by recognizing that there is something inherently wrong with Islam.” (For more on that see my post on the Charlie Hebdo massacre from January of this year at: https://daneskelton.com/2015/01/08/charlie-hebdo-and-the-keepers-of-quranic-islam/)

In other words, “It’s the theology, stupid.” Because the predominant western theology, which amounts to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, is so thin and our commitment to God is so shallow we are shocked by people willing to sacrifice their lives as an act of worship in the slaughtering of innocents. We shouldn’t be.

The Islam preached and practiced by the perpetrators of these atrocities is the same land-grabbing, nation-swallowing political Islam that precipitated the Crusades. MacFarland presents a ten-point plan that would marshal the powers of Western Civilization to destroy it and I hope it receives serious consideration by our leaders. Of her recommendations one of the most important is stifling the ideology by stopping the cash flow that supports it. It is long past time to play hard-ball with the wealthy Saudis and other so-called Middle Eastern “allies” who continue to fund the Imams and mosques that preach this stuff. And take note: Syrian refugees aren’t all we need to be thinking about. Some of those mosques are here in the U.S. Further, the Council on American Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) is simply a front group for the spread of the same theology.

You might be wondering, “What can we do about all this?” Here’s what our church does. We support our friend Samer, whose work with Muslim seekers and Muslim Background Believers, and equipping churches like ours to understand the threat has a global reach. We also support the work of Wycliffe Associates which enables courageous leaders in some of the most dangerous parts of the world to accelerate the translation of the Bible into the languages of the Islamic world. Finally, we support Samaritan’s Purse, which provides emergency relief work in many of these same areas, as well as the phenomenal outreach known as Operation Christmas Child. In these and other ways we seek to supplant the darkness of Islam in the heart of the Middle East with the light of Christ. I hope you will continue to pray for and take part in those efforts.

No one should be shocked by what happened in France last week and until our leaders wake up and get serious about shutting down the theology of jihad we should expect and prepare for more of the same.