Monday, February 19, 2007

Terrorism? Naaaahhhh! Revisited

Use of Force or Forgiveness?

Given the comment logged re my previous post, and the following point made to me privately by a dear friend and brother in Christ, I submit this clarification. It involves the ever present tension between living in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world at the same time.

My friend writes: "In regards to this article, remember we are all killers and capable of doing the same. But with God's grace........."

He is right about each of us being culpable before God and capable of the most heinous crimes. Yes, I am a murderer. And it is only my sin, my murderous self, that stands between me and God and His kingdom -- and only the grace of God in Christ wipes that away, brings me into his kingdom, and empowers me to live a life according to His commands, pleasing to Him and of service to my neighbor.

Furthermore, as a pastor and Layton City Police Department Chaplain, be assured that if this young man had survived, and I was called in the course of my duties to minister to him (terrorist or not, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, atheist notwithstanding) I would tell him that Jesus died for His sin. I would call him to acknowledge his sin -- not only murder, but terrorism meant to kill as many as possible and frighten everybody else into submission -- repent, and receive the forgiveness and salvation of the Lord. If he was taking his dying breath, I would probably even forgo the call to repentance in light of the Law's looming execution and go right to Jesus dying to forgive him and give him life.

Yet given that I do not have that opportunity and am speaking to those who must live their lives in the face of such evil, and how they should treat and prepare for such possibilities, I am compelled to address what God's Word has to say about earthly authorities and their responsibilities to the people entrusted to their care.

While in personal relations with their neighbors, even if they be enemies, Christians are to turn the other cheek and offer forgiveness, still if they have been given the responsibility to protect and serve others by virtue of family, business, or governmental authority in this world they are obligated to "bear the sword" (Rom. 13) as necessary to exercise their duties. Therefore, I would encourage law enforcement officials, who according to their training identify certain characteristics and behaviors, to have no guilt or remorse in identifying a terrorist act as as a terrorist act -- whether a Muslim killing for allah or a "Christian" committing arson at an abortion clinic. Likewise I would encourage every citizen to be vigilant to look for such suspicious characteristics and behaviors, and report or be ready to defend against them with whatever force necessary.

In such things, sanctified common sense tells us that there are certain factors and indicators of malevolence. For example, I would not be overly concerned if people I know happened by my house some Saturday afternoon and just peeked their head in the door and yelled hello. However, if someone did the same thing at two a.m. and was holding a weapon I would be obligated to protect my family by whatever force necessary.

Likewise, I do not think our police need to be concerned about a bunch of teenage Lutheran kids at a youth group function like we attended in Denver last weekend, going as a group to the mall. However, we do know that certain Muslim cells train and encourage young men to do precisely that which happened at Trolley Square. It is very similar to terrorist attacks in Israel going back to my youth. The hard truth is, this is terrorism by definition. This is what our military and law enforcement officials are here to protect us from.

All I am saying is that it is not helpful to pretend a problem does not exist. For the sake of the the prosecution of crime and protection of our people, terrorism cannot simply be masked as mental disease or defect or blamed on the manufacture and sales of guns as has been done with this case. This has not been the first, and will not be the last event of this kind.

Terrorism is terrorism. And it is not to be tolerated -- even in the name of Christianity.

Come Lord Jesus, deliver us from this and every evil, now and forevermore!

No comments: