That’s what I said yesterday to a firefighter who was wearing a T-shirt that said, “9/11: We will never forget”: “Never forget? I’m still not over being completely pissed off yet.”
And I’m not.
A friend in church basically said that we should get past 9/11 the way we have largely gotten past the Pearl Harbor attack. The difference, I tried to correct him, was that a nation-state attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the U.S. rose up in vengeance and completely defeated that nation – bringing the same hell to the Japanese as the Japanese brought to us – and then transformed the defeated ruins into an ally.
That hasn’t happened yet with this virulent – and vicious – form of Islam. Nor can we truly expect it to ever happen. Because it wasn’t a nation-state that attacked us on 9/11; it was an ideology, a worldview, a religious system. Both the worldview and the millions who adhere to that worldview are not defeated. They continue to plot and to act. And until they truly ARE defeated, there can be no rest from our vigilance as we seek to defend our freedom.
We have responded to 9/11 in terms of military, political and economic actions. But at its core, 9/11 was a religious act. And we have never responded to the religion that attacked us and dealt with it on the terms of religion.
There are a couple of distinctions that I would like to make to those who compare Islamic terrorism to the Christian Crusades. After merely pointing out the historical fact that Muslims attacked and endangered the Christian Byzantine Empire first, and the emperor beseeched the Pope for assistance that in turn led to the Crusades. One has to wonder why the side that fought back should be blamed for the war.
The distinctions that I make go beyond arguing over what happened in the past and hit right at the present. Namely one, that the Qur’an demands violence in a way that the Christian Bible simply does not; and two, that Islam is an intrinsically political religion in a way that Christianity is not.
We all know of the passages that fundamentalist Muslims can recite to justify attacking the “infidels” of the West. I don’t feel any need to recite them. But Muslims point to a few passages in the Old Testament and say that Christians have the same problem with calls for divinely-sanctioned violence.
But the problem with that is that we don’t have a problem.
You see, there’s something called “The New Testament.” It is actually anticipated in the Old Testament:
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” —Jeremiah 31:31-34
The New Testament book of Hebrews chapter 8 verses 7 through 13 references this passage to point out that Christianity is this New Covenant which was established by and in the Person of Jesus Christ and inaugerated in his last supper: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20).
And this same Jesus, when Peter cut off the ear of a servant with a sword when the mob came to arrest Jesus, said, “Stop! No more of this!” (Luke 22:51). Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
There is a vast difference between Jesus and Muhammad. Where Muhammad was a man of violence who had been in more than thirty military campaigns in his life and who had another thirty planned at the time of his death, Jesus was not only a man of peace but the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Given that Muhammad is the paradigm of Islam and that Jesus is the paradigm of Christianity, I argue that if you seek peace, it can ultimately be found only at the feet of the Prince of Peace.
Even other great inspirational figures representing entirely different religious systems have found this peace uniquely in the Person of Jesus. Take Gandhi:
Gandhi found the supreme example of satyagraha within Jesus Christ. [Satyagraha is a Sanskrit word that Gandhi coined in 1920 meaning peace with persistance; it was the essence of Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance that liberated India]. Christ was the “Prince of satyagrahis,” according to Gandhi. Gandhi wrote in his autobiography, “It was the New Testament which really awakened me to the value of passive resistance. When I read in the Sermon on the Mount such passages such as, ‘Resist not him that is evil: he who smiteth thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also, and love your enemies, pray for them that persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven’, I was overjoyed.”
People who understand history need to make an important distinction between the Bible and the Qur’an: whereas the Bible was written by more than forty authors over more than 1,500 years in a period of progressively unfolding divine revelation, the Qur’an was written by and within the lifetime of one single man. In the case of the Bible, God inaugurated a covenant and in the context of that covenant promised that He would inaugurate a NEW covenant – which He did in the Person and work of His Son Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the old covenant. And that is why when Christians read the Old Testament, they know that they are NOT to interpret the Old Testament passages calling for divinely-sanctioned violence in a literal way – but ONLY in a spiritual context as that same Jesus Christ taught us. Whereas in the case of the Qur’an a man who committed savage acts of violence and even acts of outright genocide gives the same commands calling for divinely-sanctioned violence – and there is simply no avoiding the fact that Muhammad demanded, “Kill the enemies of Islam even as I taught you how to kill the enemies of Islam.”
To argue that there is any form of moral equivalence between Christianity and Islam when it comes to violence is simply not only fallacious but in fact asinine.
The second distinction that I shall proceed to make is the one between Islam (and Judaism) as a temporal and geographically-bound religion versus Christianity.
Muslims have have always had Mecca. Jews have always had Jerusalem – which became a problem when Muslims decided to also take over Jerusalem. What do Christians have? Heaven.
Christians do not have a “Promised Land.” There is no geographical location where Christians are promised a reward for occupying.
Thus, to the extent that CATHOLIC (not Protestant) Christians were to blame for the Crusades, it was in this confusion of trying to make “the Holy Land” some kind of “Kingdom of God on earth.” It is a place of great historical significance where many historic events happened, but it is NOT the Christians’ “kingdom.” It never was.
Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. It always has, and it always will. And any Christian who tries to take it from the Jews is committing a sin, not a holy act.
The reward of Christians is IN Christ and THROUGH Christ and WITH Christ. There is no place on this earth that compares to His significance or to His glory.
As a Christian, I understand that ultimately, the Jews will recognized Jesus as their Messiah, and they will mourn for He whom they pierced – and will embrace their Messiah as their Lord and Savior – and Jesus will fulfill every promise that He made to His people the Jews as He sits upon the throne of David and reigns in Jerusalem as King of kings and Lord of lords. I also understand that I as a Christian am not called upon to fight to secure Jerusalem for Jesus; but that HE WILL DO SO ENTIRELY BY HIMSELF.
This is the dilemma for Islam: it IS a militant religion. It seizes and conquers by force, just as Muhammad taught and practiced.
Within one hundred years of the death of Muhammad, the armies of Islam had poured across Christian Europe and Africa. Charles Martel – also known as Charles the Hammer – stopped the vast Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in France on the other side of the continent. They also put to the sword everyone who would not embrace Allah in the very seat from which St. Augustine had taught in Africa. They poured into Spain by the sword, ultimately to be stopped by El Cid.
Today, not dozens, not hundreds, not thousands, BUT MILLIONS of Muslims demand that Israel be wiped off the map and that Jerusalem be taken by force in the name of Islam.
For the record, I have never heard voices, nor heard a prophet, nor read it in my Bible, to seize Mecca in the name of Christ.
Osama bin Laden routinely called Christians “Crusaders,” but the sick fact was that no one was more of a “Crusader” in the pejorative sense of the word than he was; he went on a “Crusade” that brought him to New York City where he imposed his religion on nearly three thousand innocent Americans who had nothing to do with him or his “Crusade.”
My challenge for Muslims who acknowledge that Osama bin Laden does not speak for them, or for Islam, is to truly repudiate him IN PUBLIC IN FRONT OF OTHER MUSLIMS. And to not only do this, but to explain in religious terms using the Qur’an to explain why Osama bin Laden was an infidel or unbeliever. And why he is burning in hell right now for all eternity.
Because of the freedoms created by Christianity and recognized in Christendom, a Muslim is free to come to America and Europe and Spain and Africa and wave his Qur’an and preach that everyone should believe in Allah and that Muhammad is His prophet. When ONE BILLION MUSLIMS demand that any Christian be equally free to go into ANY Muslim land and wave their Bibles and preach that everyone should believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God as their Savior and Lord, only then will Muslims have a valid point in claiming that Islam is not a religion of terror.
For what it’s worth, I recently received “the other side” in the form of a self-described fundamentalist Muslim named Germán who in fact renounces Osama bin Laden. He left a couple of comments that would be appropriate here to an article I wrote entitled, “WHY Does Mainstream Media Propaganda Brand Norway Killer Breivik As A ‘Christian’ And A ‘Right-Wing Radical’?”