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"Since you asked ..."

 

Paul Baxter

Question: Do we have a right to judge and condemn ISIS?

Answer: After the National Prayer Breakfast when Christians were lectured about the sinful Christian Crusades, Inquisition, and Slavery I was asked this question: Do we have a right to judge and condemn ISIS after being warned not to climb on a high moral horse? The next day Geraldo Rivera added his opinion that religion has been responsible for the most people being killed on earth.

Let’s explain why Christians have a right and responsibility to speak out against ISIS. First, there are times when Christians ought to judge and condemn sin or evil for what it is. Jesus said that just as we judge a tree by the fruit it bears, we judge people by their actions (Matt. 7:16). ISIS has demonstrated cold-blooded cruelty and barbarity that rivals the Nazi Holocaust, Killing Fields of Cambodia, and Genocide in Turkey.

As Edmund Burke said so eloquently that has been quoted so frequently: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Thank God for good people like King Abdullah of Jordan who has taken decisive action while others are dithering and dallying reminiscent of 1930s Europe.

Second, Jesus did caution us not to judge anyone until we remove the log from our own eye (Matt. 7:5). We do well to judge ourselves before we judge anyone else! Christians have long ago confronted and confessed the sins that occurred centuries ago. The Medieval Crusaders (who were responding to Islamic conquests and persecution) were in many ways an anomaly because Christianity, unlike Islam, does not teach holy war or jihad.

Christians have long ago confronted and confessed the sins that occurred centuries ago.

A war might be “just” when one is attacked, but it is never “holy.” And the unholy killing and raping of innocents is never justified and always condemned by Christianity. Christians corrected the evils of the Medieval Inquisition by “reforming” the Catholic Church. Christianity has an incomparable history of “Reformations,” “Revivals,” and “Great Awakenings” in which Christians have confronted, confessed, and corrected sinful, anti-Christian behavior.

William Wilberforce and fellow Christians labored to convict their country about the evil of entrenched slavery that had existed throughout much of the world for many millennia (and still is acceptable within some Islamic cultures). As a result of their efforts, the British Empire outlawed slavery. Here in America, churches in the north and south sing and celebrate the Christ-centered message of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the costly quest to make men free!

We celebrate that within Christian lands there is full freedom of religion, full rights for women, and freedom from such gruesome punishment as stoning and beheading. We’ve seen how our Judeo-Christian civilization is now far removed from the long ago Dark Ages that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarians. What happened long ago should not impede what we do now.

The day after the prayer breakfast, when some Christians were wondering if they had a right to speak out against even atrocious evil, Geraldo Rivera seemed to suggest that Christians needed to stay off any high moral horse and sit quietly in a corner somewhere. After all, he claimed, more people have been killed in the name of God than in any other cause.

That is, as Ravi Zacharias points out, “an oft repeated lie” by those who denigrate any religion. The historical facts are straightforward and easy to document: More people were tortured and murdered by atheists in the twentieth century than in all the other centuries combined; and, most pre-twentieth century wars were not religious in nature!

Throughout Christian history, we are thankful that devout Christians have sought to stand up and speak out against evils like ISIS, communism, Nazism, racism, genocide and infanticide! May we have the courage and convictions to follow their example, and do it humbly and honestly amidst a culture increasingly characterized by arrogance and lies!

 

Paul Baxter serves as pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange.