November 2015

Je suis parisienne

Is 11/13 France’s 9/11? President François Hollande describes the Paris terror attacks as “an act of war” against his country. The previous day, Beirut explosions killed over 40, wounding almost 240. After the attacks in Beirut and Paris, ISIS claimed responsibility. Moral outrage has spread across social media. The trois couleurs adorn profile photos in support of a shocked and grieving French people, similar to 9/11, when French citizens proclaimed, Je Suis Americaine. A popular posting: terrorism knows no borders, no boundaries, and no religion.

Remember the displays of worldwide solidarity and bipartisan unity in the USA after 9/11? That unity against a common enemy soon fragmented, as did nations and people groups in the Middle East. How should Christians respond to the attacks of 11/12 and 11/13 — beyond #PrayforBeirut and #PrayforParis? Ed Stetzer has posted wise and balanced thoughts in
We are All Parisians Now.
What can we learn from 9/11? What mistakes can we avoid?

  • The enemy is jihadist terrorism. A war on terror is not a war on nations. International leaders have an opportunity to unite against jihadist groups. World leaders can call for a broad multinational coalition against ISIS and its affiliates. World leaders sometimes claim to intervene against terror, to mask or justify their nationalistic ambitions. But calling for a broad, multilateral coalition of western, moderate Muslim, and Asian states against ISIS would expose true motives and goals.

  • If the enemy is ideological, the solution is not just military. Unilateral intervention risks unintended consequences and wider war. Already, some have posted a cartoon of an armed Lady Liberty, reminiscent of a cartoon of an American eagle sharpening its talons after 9/11. Politicians boast of American military leadership. But, when necessary, US military intervention has been more effective in defending liberty than in planting free societies in feudal soil. Witness Afghanistan and Iraq. For a clearer understanding of ISIS, and its ideological and apocalyptic goals (which political and military leaders may never understand) the article What ISIS Really Wants in The Atlantic is highly recommended.

  • The enemy is terrorism, not immigration. We must not demonize immigrants. No doubt, ISIS embeds jihadists into the floods of Middle Eastern refugees. Tighter border controls are a reasonable response. But most Middle Eastern refugees are fleeing religious and political persecution to protect their lives and families.

  • Jesus calls us to love our enemies. Whatever politicians claim or international leaders decide, we must heed Jesus’ words, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Mark 12:17). We are commanded to love God and our neighbors — including foreigners. Because we were once enemies and foreigners to God’s kingdom.