Religious fundamentalism threatens global peace!
How often do we hear this?
And our own president blames Christianity as much as any religion. Maybe more.
What is the truth though?
Is this statement legitimate?
What does history really tell us?
Here’s one of the things that brought up this topic. I love to read. More and more I seem to be reading things that reflect what’s going on in our world today. And it seems like a good way to get things started.
The other thing is the increasing number of terrorist attacks (am I allowed to call it that – seeing as I’m in California, USA?). I’m listening to news on an active one in Bangladesh as I’m writing this. And they’re blaming it on some “derailed youth”. This in spite of the words of the people involved. Somehow, our government can openly blame Christianity for violence – but not Islam.
With that in mind – here’s a quote from a book I just finished reading a couple days ago –
“Let our children and grandchildren,” he continued, “see the twenty-first century as the time when all the people of the earth come together, through the United Nations, to prevent the spread of that species of religious fundamentalism that threatens global peace.”
from “The Resurrection File (Chambers of Justice Book 1)” by Craig Parshall
Yes – it’s a book. It’s fiction. But the quote could easily be found in the news on pretty much any day.
The military career of Muhammad
I thought I’d start off by searching for “wars fought by Muhammad”. It returned a lot of stuff. One thing I noticed though was something from Wikipedia on “The military career of Muhammad”.
That sounded interesting. They take input from both sides – Muslims and non-Muslims – with some amount of editing. In fact, both sides are present in the article and one can see both the wars being brought up, as well as attempts to justify those wars. That’s pretty standard stuff. The attacker always has their reasons. So here are the paragraphs on “History” from the Military Career of Muhammad, from Wikipedia –
Muhammad spent his last ten years, from 622 to 632, as the leader of Medina in a state of war with pagan Mecca. Muhammad and his Companions had earlier migrated from Mecca to Medina in what is known as the Hijra following years of persecution by the Meccans. Through raids, sieges, and diplomacy, Muhammad and his followers allied with or subdued some of the tribes and cities of the Arabian peninsula in their struggle to overcome the powerful Banu Quraish of Mecca.
They also sent out parties against Arabic-speaking communities ruled under the Roman Empire. Muhammad was believed by the Muslims to be divinely chosen to spread Islam in the world, and Muhammad ultimately permitted warfare as one aspect of this struggle. After initially refusing to accede to requests by his followers to fight the Meccans for continued persecution and provocation, he eventually proclaimed the revelations of the Quran:
- “Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged -truly Allah has the power to come to their support- those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, ‘Our Lord is Allah’…” (Quran, 22:39-40)”
After the first battle of Badr against the Quraysh, he is reported as having said “We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the greater Jihad (i.e. the struggle against the evil of one’s soul).” John Esposito writes that Muhammad’s use of warfare in general was alien neither to Arab custom nor to that of the Hebrew prophets, as both believed that God had sanctioned battle with the enemies of the Lord.
In spite of all the questions brought up as to whether Muslims are peaceful or not – whether Islam teaches violence or not – there is, without a doubt, a history of war and conquest that is directly related to historically accurate and factual accounts of Muhammad’s own life, and the early days of what we know know as Islam.
The military career of Jesus.
Next – I googled “The military career of Jesus”.
Guess what. There wasn’t one. Jesus had no military career.
This should not be a surprise to anyone who is a Christian – and knows the background of their faith.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Look at what Paul wrote –
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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.
The fight that Christians should be engaged in is NOT against any government of this world. It’s against Satan. It’s part of the spiritual battle being fought.
Again – this should not be surprising.
Jesus Himself refused to even say anything against the Roman government –
Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Mt 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
Mt 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Mt 22:22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
This Roman government brutalized and killed both Jews and Christians. And yet Jesus would not lift a finger against them. He preached forgiveness, not hate.
The Roman government was eventually overthrown – from within. When the Roman Emperor converted to Christianity.
And what of the followers of Jesus at that time?
Let’s look at Stephen – in the Book of Acts. Stephen was fighting the battle – with words – in front of the Jewish leaders. Actually – in front of Saul, who would be renamed by God to be Paul. Yes – the Paul who wrote the words above. Let me repeat – Paul (named Saul at the time) actually watched Stephen fighting the battle of words against the Jewish leaders. But it gets even more intense.
Ac 7:54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Ac 7:57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Ac 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Ac 8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
The Jewish leaders – who had been against Jesus for His entire ministry – put Stephen to death because of the battle of words that He was fighting in support of Jesus’ teachings. They stoned Him. Not a good way to die.
Did Stephen fight back? No.
Did any of the Christians fight back? No.
Stephen followed the example of Jesus. He said –
Ac 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
In case you’re thinking this sounds kind of familiar – let me refresh your memory –
Jn 19:28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Check it out –
Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus says it’s finished – and gives up His spirit. His task on earth is done – and His Spirit is going back to be rejoined with the Father. Just like what Stephen prayed for. (Of course, with Jesus, there was also the resurrection, appearances to people, and then His ascension to Heaven – so He was somewhat different in process, but the same ultimate goal.)
And then there’s this –
Lk 23:32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Again – check this out –
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Just as Stephen prayed for forgiveness for those who were stoning him – Jesus prayed for forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him.
Threatening Global Peace?
So tell me – whose example threatens global peace?
Both Muslims and Christians are to follow the example of their respective leaders.
Muslims have a choice – to follow the early somewhat peaceful years – or to follow the later outright warring years.
Christians have a choice – to follow His peaceful example – or to not follow Jesus at all.
That’s not really a choice of which version of Christianity to follow is it?
There’s only one way to follow Jesus.
It’s a way of peace.
Anyone who fights a war claiming that Jesus is their justification – they don’t know Jesus.
In fact – they have the very real opportunity to hear Jesus utter the scariest words in the Bible (I think)
Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
I never knew you.
By fighting a war in Jesus’ name – people prove they don’t know Him.
And when they think they’re going to get into Heaven – Jesus may very well tell them they He doesn’t know them.
Again – who is it that threatens global peace?