Posts Tagged ‘the sword’

Time for Jihad?

September 7, 2014

Jihad is not one of the five pillars upon which the faith of Islam is founded.

If we, the Christians of this world, are to morally oppose Muslim terrorists, we should not do it on a platform of condemning Islam as a whole. Such a judgment upon Mohammed’s people would be downright impracticable and unworkable. We may classify them as heretics; some of us may identify Mohammed as a false prophet.

But hey, the Muslims of the world are not going to go away on the basis of our opposing their extremist elements. In the last fourteen centuries millions of the Islamic faithful have followed the teachings of Mohammed, and millions of them still are following him through the Quran and hadith traditions.

And that is worth something, because it is reality. Islam represents a long-lived institutional presence in our world. Such longevity has earned the people of the Quran an historical legitimacy.

Mohammed founded his worldwide religion based on five religious disciplines, or “pillars,” as the Muslims call them: belief in one God, prayer five times a day, giving to the poor, fasting and spiritual discipline during Ramadan, and the hajj journey to Mecca.

Jihad is not one of the five pillars of Islamic faith.

World history proves that Islam is no fly-by-night cult; the opinions of mankind render it a legitimate force to be reckoned with.

On one hand, the “force” characteristic of Islamic expansion is the problem, and we need to deal with it. If Islam is a religion of the sword, which depends on forced conversion of people with whom it crosses paths , we do have a large fundamental problem with it.

On the other hand, if the coercion we presently see from ISIS and other murderous groups is not rooted in authentic Islam itself but rather in extremists’ distortion of that faith, we cannot reasonably classify all Muslims as jihadists.

So which is it? Which “hand” is it? I believe we need to give mainstream Muslims the benefit of the doubt, because we inhabit the same world they do. Blessed are the peacemakers. But the ISIS murderers–they are a different animal. They are the Nazis of our age.

We will soon have to deal with them in the same way our grandparents had to deal with the Nazis three quarters of a century ago. Because the world did not effectively oppose the rise of Hitler and his Nazi criminals in a timely way, their Third Reich thuggery corrupted the entire machinery of Germany’s government and military. Then it took the greatest generation of our Western civilization to put a stop to their fiercely organized bloodletting. But it was not easy. Millions gave their lives in the process of ridding the world of the Nazi pestilence.

This cannot be allowed to happen to the Islamic countries in our day and time. We must make peace with Islam, if that is possible. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Accordingly, we must insist that Muslim leaders clean house, and rid their ranks of those murderers who execute innocent men/women without rule of law and without justice.

This dire situation is nothing new. About ninety years ago, Adolf Hitler named his contention with the world “Mein Kamph,” which means “my struggle.” He spent the rest of his destructively misguided life trying to convince the German people that “his” struggle was the same as their struggle to become a great people. It wasn’t. As it later turned out, the German people had better things to do than fight the feuhrer’s maniacal battles for him. What a price the Germans and the world at large had to pay in time and precious lives, to learn that hard lesson.

Likewise, the Muslim faithful of our present world have better things to do–like governing their own people–than fighting the bloody battles laid out for them by ISIS, Al Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah and others of their ilk.

Fourteen hundred years ago, Mohammed established his legacy among the Arabs by accepting the role of spiritual prophet. But he went further than that. He also took on political and military roles. Perhaps his taking on such forceful responsibilities, and their subsequent precedents after his death, is why the coercive power of the sword has become an oft-used weapon of Muslim hegemony.

This swordish attribute of Islamic power is not a religious tactic to which Christians readily acknowledge legitimacy. Except that: our own history of violence, forced persecution and war are, like it or not, an undeniable stain on the Christian heritage.

Even so, that was not Jesus’ precedent. All the subsequent killing, maiming, forced converting in the name of God under Christendom was what we did, not Jesus. Jesus’ ultimate purpose was to atone for those sins that infect every one of us, and to affirm his salvatory work through resurrection after crucifixion. There is no historical evidence that Jesus took up the sword.

As for Mohammed, he affirmed his work through writing the Quran, but also by taking up the sword in the interests of redistributing wealth and establishing justice among his Arab people. He did take up the lethal weapon of military power in order to accomplish that. The principles of Islam governance are human principles.

The principles of Christian resurrection, however, are advocated by a people who hope to transcend this world, and possibly transform it in the process. Because this world is at war with itself, always will be . . . until Christ returns.

You think me naive to write such a thing? Two thousand years of Christianity attest that I am not alone in this belief. As for you followers of Mohammed, may Allah be with you. We’ll see how far that gets you on judgment day.

Smoke

The Sword

August 31, 2014

On the night that Jesus Christ was arrested, he was in the presence of eleven men who had devoted themselves for the last three years to his message and to his life’s work.

That night was a dangerous night. Peter, John, and the other guys could smell trouble coming; it was in the night air as thick as dew on dixie. The powers-that-be did not approve of what Jesus was up to, and they were out to get him.

After these zealous men had eaten their Passover meal with their fearless leader, they were talking about what might happen next. The dramatic events of previous days indicated that something terrible was going down.  They could feel it in their bones that Jesus and his followers might suffer some dire consequences as a result of the unprecedented works of healing, teaching, and organizing they had been doing among their people. Their trepidation was not just idle paranoia, because Jesus was about to be hauled in to face charges of blasphemy and insurrection.

One of his disciples was a man named Peter. Peter was a fisherman by trade, a man of action, a provider, a doer; he was a go-getter, willing to go out and do whatever needed to be done to make  happen whatever needed to happen. So when Peter, impetuous man that he was,  discerned that danger was afoot, he began planning in his mind a strategy to act protectively on Jesus’ behalf.

Now this little band of brothers had, among their minimal possessions, a couple of swords.  Somebody informed Jesus that they they had these two swords, and they were wondering if maybe they should bring them along.

Jesus said: “It is enough.”

Now I’ve been reading and hearing about this historical event all my life. I’m wondering what did Jesus mean by this cryptic, minimal answer when he was asked about the swords (and hence, whether it would be appropriate to use them.)

Think about it. What defense could be implemented with a couple of swords against Caesar’s enforcers? Of what use are a couple of blades against the vast power of Roman law in cahoots with local religious power-players?

Jesus was like yeah whatever I don’t wanna discuss it now. You don’t get it do you, Peter? Just bring ’em along, whatever.

Subsequent events indicate, however, that  Jesus was committed to his own strategy of non-violence. He knew what he had to do, and it did not involve taking up the Sword.

So a few hours later, when the actual arrest happened under cover of darkness in the garden of Gethsemane, one of the guys whipped out the sword and used it in Jesus’ defense. As a result of that hasty reaction, a slave who was one the arresting officers suffered the loss of his ear. What a bloody omen that must have been to set the tone for what was about to happen.

But then Jesus nipped in the bud what might have been the beginning of a real insurrection. He told the impetuous disciple (many Christians believe the sword-wielder was Peter) to put the weapon away, and he said: “. . . for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.”

Another cryptic remark from Jesus. Nevertheless, as a result of Jesus’ insistence on non-violence on that fateful night, he went on to face charges (from the religious power-players) of blasphemy and (from the Romans) of insurrection.

The next day Jesus was condemned to death, then beaten and crucified. After a couple of days in the crypt, he was raised from being dead, and a worldwide religion was established on behalf of his redemptive life and work.

So we see from scriptures what Jesus did with the swords that his followers had brought along that night. He chose not to use them.

About 600 years later, another world religion was founded, which was to commemorate what Mohammed did.

So here’s my question for you to consider: What did Mohammed do with his sword?

Sword of the Spirit

Smoke