by Ray Dillon

Most of the United States and, perhaps, the western world stands amazed at the actions of a US citizen with an MBA degree who sets out to bomb Times Square in order to create panic, destruction, as well as death.  Many ask why someone would travel multiple times to Pakistan to study the art and craft of bomb making.  He had a family, a good job, and the potential for “making it” in this country.

So we start looking for reasons.  A foreclosed house is given as the inciting incident.  However, there are millions who have had their houses taken back by the bank but, to my knowledge, none of them went on a shooting spree or constructed a bomb to set off in a major city.  Another possibility that is put forward is the deceptive recruiting power of Islamic radicals.  Yet, no one can give an idea of why a bright American citizen would fall prey to these “phantom” recruiters.

Most recently, there has been a recognition that the cause of the 9/11 tragedy, Fort Hood shootings, the “underwear bomber”, and now the Times Square bomber is that we are in a religious war.  There are still many who believe that taking on radical acts of violence are due to poverty or a lack of knowledge of the West (if they knew us they would love us).  These views are being discounted in large part because of recent events.  The radicals in London who bombed the subway system were from middle and upper-middle class English families, for example.  Osama Bin Laden and some of his closest leaders were educated in the west.  They know people here and in other western countries and still hate us and what we stand for.  Further, this doesn’t explain the bombings in Indonesia by Islamist radical groups.

So what’s the reason for all this mayhem, it is a belief in the teachings of Mohammed and in the clerics who take his words and use them to foster their own agendas.  One must remember that in the Koran there is never a mention of assurance of salvation and eternal bliss except in one case:  becoming involved in jihad.  Jihad means struggle and a holy jihad is a struggle with infidels (those who are not intensely following the rigorous faith of Islam).  Good works, prayer, giving, and attending Islamic tradition are a way to eternal bliss but they are never fully certain or have assurance of salvation. Holy Jihad does provide that assurance.

Therefore, those mentioned before are certain of their salvation because of their actions against those who stand against “puritanical” Islam, even if their efforts were not completely successful.

So why should the Christian fully understand where they are coming from.  This is not to suggest that Christians condone their actions.  The acts are abhorrent.  But radical (here I mean fundamental or going back to the root) Christians should understand faith in someone, a deep commitment to the writings or words of that person, and performing acts that the world will not understand.  Radical Christians have a deep faith in the work of Jesus known as the Christ.  The world recognizes Jesus as a philosopher, a prophet, as well as a Jewish carpenter turned radical and killed for his beliefs.  The world does not understand radical Christian faith any more than it understands radical Islamic faith.  The radical Christian has a deep reverence for Scripture and looks to it for faith and practice as God’s word.  The radical Christian believes that Scripture is inerrant and, while it is poetic and apocryphal at times, it is truth in its entirety.  The world often has a view of Scripture as a group of “holy” writings but is no more the word of God than a Fanny Farmer cookbook.

The radical Islamist has an even higher view of the Koran than the Christian.  There are Islamists in the world who have memorized the entire Koran but cannot read a word of it.  Desecrating one page of the Koran can result in death.  The world cannot understand this idea.

The radical Christian is sometimes called by God through Scripture or by internal promptings to do out-of-the-ordinary things:  give money in excess of their normal pattern, go to remote parts of the world to speak of their faith, or give their lives to serve people.  Radical Christians who have good jobs, homes, families, and MBA degrees sometimes do extraordinary things for, at least according to the world, peculiar reasons.

Christians have been doing unusual, out-of-the-ordinary, even seemingly weird things for centuries.  They don’t seem too strange to those who understand. Christians do these things, because we are in a holy war.  The enemy is defeated but the battles still go on and Christians are called to enter in to the fray.

So, while the world doesn’t understand the mindset of shoe bombers, underwear bombers, van bombers, and others of like mind, the Christian should understand.  Faith is only as good as the object of our faith.  Our object is Jesus and his finished work.  Because of that faith, we sometimes are called to do radical things.  Jesus called us to be ministers of reconciliation.  The pursuit of that call is something the world cannot understand.