In the News: Paris, Terrorism, and Christian Response

Today, in the wake of the devastating events over the weekend, I wanted to call three articles to your attention from the news. One is a news story and the other two are opinion pieces, both written by prominent evangelicals.

My hope in doing so is twofold: to inform about the events that took place and to help Christians think through their response to the tragedy. Responses are cropping up from all across the political and social spectrum, and it is evident that some on both sides are gearing up to use this as ammunition for their ongoing argument. In the middle of all of this, I have no desire to opine concerning governmental policy. The last thing I want to do is start some war of internet trolls in my comment feed about policy. In fact, let’s keep that conversation for another venue.

Instead, my goal is simple. I just want to remind us that the way Christians speak either bears faithful witness to our Lord Jesus or brings dishonor to his name.

“Paris Attacks Stoke Fears Of Refugees, And That’s What ISIS Wants”

Read the full article here.

Mike Giglio penned a helpful piece concerning the broader narrative of the events that took place in Paris. Here are some important pieces:

ISIS wants Europe (and America) to turn against refugees

According to Giglio, a main purpose of such attacks by ISIS is to turn Westerners against refugees. Giglio points out that the goal of ISIS is to create a new caliphate, or Islamic kingdom, in the Middle East. However, despite their desires to create some Islamic utopia, the vast majority of Muslims in the regions are fleeing. In essence, the very people ISIS wants to gather are refusing to join with them. Yes, people who align with their ideology do move there and join, however these numbers are far outstripped by Muslims who reject it and are fleeing.

ISIS has ratcheted up its propaganda against anyone fleeing the conflict in Iraq and Syria of late — calling those who leave traitors and imploring others to stay and help to build their so-called caliphate. At the same time, it has vowed to make it impossible for Muslims to live peacefully in the West, threatening to destroy what it calls a “gray zone” of coexistence.

Most of the attackers were French citizens, not refugees 

While one suicide bomber was possessing a passport used to register a refugee in Greece, the other three (at the time of this article) were French citizens. Giglio points out that many suspect the passport was a fake or planted.

The man’s identity has yet to be confirmed, and there is increasing speculation about whether the passport was real or forged — fake Syrian passports are both widespread in Turkey and easy to obtain. They are used both by people posing as Syrians to help their asylum cases and by Syrians who have lost their own passports and, due to harsh policies toward refugees by the Syrian government, are unable to get new ones. Whether the attacker was Syrian or not — and authorities have so far identified three of the other attackers, as well as one suspect still at large, as French — the fact that he brought it to the site of the attacks on Friday struck many as suspicious. It was either intentional or a fortuitous coincidence.

 

“Should we really close the border to refugees? Here’s why fear drives out compassion.”

Read the full article here.

In a piece for the Washington Post, Trevin Wax does an excellent job making one important point: fear and compassion do not coexist.

Fear and compassion cannot coexist. The former inevitably drives out the latter. So, in the midst of a worldwide battle against the evil of Islamic terrorism, we must make sure that we do not allow fear to overwhelm our hearts, crowd out our compassion, or fundamentally change our character. For compassion to win, courage must conquer the fear in our hearts. Already, we have seen a growing backlash regarding the refugees displaced in the war in Syria. There is widespread fear that terrorists are streaming into Europe or America alongside frightened refugees. What is the courageous response? To close the borders for good? To turn away thousands of families and children who, through no fault of their own, have been victimized by war and violence and long for peace? It is fear that drives out compassion toward our fellow humans suffering under the weight of injustice and violence. Fear, not courage.

“We Are All Parisians Now: A Christian Response to Global Terror and Radical Islam”

Read the full article here.

Finally, Ed Stetzer provides a helpful Christian response at Christianity Today. In his article, he points out three things we should be doing (praying, loving the hurting, and loving our enemies) and three things we should not be doing (hating, taking out anger on refugees, and calling for a war on “Islam”). It is a good response, and there are too many quotes to include them here.

So what now?

In light of the above articles, I simply want to call you to three things:

  • If ISIS wants us to hate refugees, then do not let them win. Whatever your political bend, Christians have a call to love their neighbors. The overwhelming temptation in moments like this is to lump people together, and that simply will not do. Do not blame your foreign-born neighbor for the attacks in Paris. Not to their face, and not in your heart.
  • Speak about the attacks with compassion, not as a bullet point in your argument. The events in Paris over the weekend were attacks against people… real people. They are not ammunition for your argument (or mine). Let us take this time to grieve with the hurting and mourn over sin’s evil grip on the world instead of spreading unwholesome chatter across social media.
  • Pray. And when you are done, pray some more. Governments, militias, rebels, politicians, terrorists, and activists do not have the power to fix our problem. Our problem runs far deeper than policy. There is one, though, who loves his creation and uses all of these players to bring about his will. Truthfully, he is the one who holds this sin-sick planet in his hands, and he is the one who will eventually put an end to suffering.

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Josh McCoy said:

    Peace to you Keelan! Thanks for speaking out with wisdom & clarity during this time.

    November 16, 2015
    Reply
    • Keelan Cook said:

      And thank you for the kind words. Blessings to you.

      November 16, 2015
      Reply

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