Scott Postma

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9-11: What Christians Must Never Forget

As you are well aware, today is 9-11.

It’s been 13 years since the tragic terrorist attack on America was carried out in NYC, Washington, D.C., and (although it failed to acquire its target) Pennsylvania.

9-11 memorial

Today, all around the country there will be memorial events commemorating that tragic day. All around the blogosphere and various social media, people will post, comment on, and like memes as they reflect on the victims, on what it means to be free, and on those who have paid the ultimate price to defend the freedom we all enjoy.

Additionally, there will be regions of the country on high alert for fear of anniversary attacks. There will be conspiracists conferring about what really happened and who was really responsible. There will be politicians and community leaders speaking to people words of encouragement, affirmation, and solidarity.

All of these, among other things, will in some way or another demonstrate we have not forgotten.

While I completely understand and support the notion of “memorializing” the lives of the victims and the efforts of the responders and other heroes of our national tragedy, I wonder if there has not been some negative repercussions of remembering, in ways we haven’t considered.

There are several I could mention, but I only want to talk about one: the crusader spirit of some Christians that surfaces in response to the horrific crimes of Islamic extremists. This article by Dr. Gary Cass is an example of the kind of spirit to which I’m referring.

Sometimes, focusing on injustice and tragedy brings out the worst in human nature.

Now in the spirit of fairness, I admit, my natural self, my fallen nature, resonates with this crusading spirit of strong retaliation. My natural man says, if you disrespect me, my family, or my God, I’m going to punch you in the face. If you shoot me with bullets, I’m going shoot you back with a missile. And if you provoke me long enough and intensely enough, I’m going to drop a nuke on your… head.

That’s because in the selfishness of my own heart, I want to make you pay for causing me pain. I want you to learn a lesson. I want you to suffer more than you caused me to suffer so you never think of messing with me again. I want you get what you deserve—and more. And I want to be the one to deliver your hurt!

That’s how wicked my heart is, I’m ashamed to say.

But that is not the spirit of Christ. It’s not the love of the Spirit of God which dwells in me. It’s not how the gospel teaches us to respond to our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:19).

The spirit of retaliation is the spirit of the crusades.

Most Christians knowledgeable of church history agree the Christian crusades of the middle ages were unmerited, biblically. They were really nothing more than political wars carried out by an ambitious papacy, conducted in the name of Christ—Dues vult!

And Europeans, struggling to make ends meets or eke out a pathetic existence, were more than enthusiastic to answer the call to soldier in a foreign land against a debase enemy and get paid for it. The crusade led to vicious and debase acts by professing Christians and has been a black eye on the church ever since.

Unfortunately, that same crusader spirit that tends to show up in my sinful heart, not only exists still in the church in many circles, but is often affirmed by its leaders.

As I stated in a comment on Tim Fall’s article about Christian Islamophobia, the thing that often troubles me with Christians who share Dr. Cass’s crusading spirit is their tendency to mesh kingdom responsibilities with national (e.g. America) responsibilities. They seem to equate constitutional America with the church and fail to distinguish the differences between their purposes and objectives.

For example, I think Dr. Cass has a valid point about westerners’, particularly the PC crowd’s, need to understand Islamic ideology and the worldview of committed Muslims. He’s right. These intend on dominating the world at all costs. I’m convinced the leadership in Washington–and most of the American demos–is ignorant about Islam and its religious agenda.

Many in the west are confused by a perverted application of tolerance mixed with an individualistic, Laissez Faire (live-and-let-live), western philosophy. Europe is, in fact, a good illustration of how the Islamic enterprise intends to carry out their religious mission of worldwide Sharia law. It is vital that we Americans not be ignorant or apathetic about this very real threat.

Further, it is the stated purpose of the government to protect the rights and liberties of its citizens. So there is some responsibility in that sense.

But, that said, Christians should give no place to the crusader spirit. As believers, we have no legitimate reason to fear.

  • We have a better Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7-8).
  • We have a perfect love (1 John 4:17-18).
  • We have a transformative message (Romans 1:16-17).
  • We have a greater kingdom (Luke 10:11; Rev 12:10).
  • And we have Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13-21).

That doesn’t mean Christians can’t serve their country or support efforts to protect and maintain our national identity, inherent freedoms, and moral values as Americans.

It just means as believers, as followers of Christ, as those who call ourselves Christians, we have a higher calling, a higher purpose. We have the opportunity and responsibility to share the love and hope of Christ with a lost (light-lacking) world–even if it’s an Islamically-lost world.

Of course this is much more complex of an issue to unpack than is possible in a single blog post, but I would say, like Ayn Rand, Christians possessed of the spirit of the crusades get part of the problem right, but the solution very wrong.

Perhaps on 9-11, our reflections should focus on the real hope for those lost in and acting out of darkness. And may we never forget the transforming work of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how we might take the light of the world to those in its darkest places.

About Scott Postma

Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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4 Replies

  1. Nice job, Scott. Those five bullet points of what we have in Christ really sum it all up. We have no reason to fear or hate those who are lost, and we have every reason to love them as we try to show them our faith in Christ. We should not be ignorant of the threats others may pose, of course. (Matthew 10:16 comes to mind.) But that mindset of the crusaders within the kingdom is as much a threat to the work of God’s people as the threats from outside the kingdom.

    Tim

    P.S. Thanks for the shout-out and link to my place.

    1. Tim, thanks. It was your post that inspired me to think more specifically about this issue. And I agree, whole-heartedly: “that mindset of the crusaders within the kingdom is as much a threat to the work of God’s people as the threats from outside the kingdom.” Well put! Blessings.

  2. Liz

    I think you have made some excellent points, and your recommendations are in line with Scripture. We need to be careful to be following Jesus and keeping step with him, not following an ideology which we “know” is “right”. Jesus died for us all (and we were all ungodly), to restore the entire creation, which he is doing and will do. All glory goes to him.

    1. Thank you, Liz. And you’re right, Following Jesus is serious business.