The Radicalization of Christianity

Being radicalized is easier than you might imagine.

With all the sessions here at Urbana15, it’s impossible to walk away unchanged and unchallenged. There has been a strong social justice component here in St. Louis, as well as, a strong focus on the Islamic world. In describing what he’ll bring home from Urbana15, one of our male students said this:

“The radicalization of Islam must not lead to the radicalization of Christianity.”

This was a quote from one of the breakout sessions here lead by a Lebanese man who converted from Christianity from Islam. This man has led discussions on Isis, Violence in Islam, and How to share your faith with those in the Islamic faith. He spoke with great credibility and great passion.

The seminar leader went on to challenge those in attendance to choose compassion and love for those trapped in a Muslim faith. He explained that much of Islamic extremism is fueled by fear. Hate is the manifestation but fear is the engine the moves the vehicle.

Fear that Allah won’t accept their efforts.

Fear that when they die, Allah will reject their efforts.

Fear that when they die, all their “pious” deeds won’t be enough.

So, out of fear they adhere as strictly as possible in tone, tenor and in action what they believe the Qur’an teaches and requires.

This is their salvation.

“It’s understandable” the man says.

He’s referring to the hatred for Islam. He goes on to talk about how the attacks on America, France, and other countries have fueled hate for Islam, even in Christian circles. It’s understandable, he says.

It’s also sin.

He went on to make the point that once Christians are consumed with hate for another person, it makes it almost impossible to exhibit gospel compassion, gospel mercy, or even to proclaim the gospel. Hate can be fueled by fear on our side as well.

Fear of losing a way of life. Fear of losing security. Fear of losing our own lives. Fear of losing the fight. Fear of losing a family member. Fear of being at a concert and having it turn into a bloodbath. Fear of shopping at Target and becoming a target. Fear that things won’t be normal again. Fear that my kids or their kids will grow up with this.

The list goes on.

These fears, because they come from a deeply personal place, are intense, vivid, and can become the puppeteers of our hearts nimbly and subtly changing us.

Hate springs up from fear of losing what we hold dear.

The radicalization of Christianity happens when we choose to hate rather than love those whom God has created.

Fear drives one engine, love drives another.

Hate walls off the lost, love pursues the lost.

It is understandable. It really is, but that doesn’t make it biblical or Christ-like.

Jesus died so that terrorists might come to know Him. He died so that when you and I die, we might worship in the throne room of Heaven next to some honest-to-God terrorists.

After all, Jesus is their salvation.