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A Commentary on the Paris Attacks

ISIS has won another victory in terrorizing the Western world with its particular brand of Islamic extremism. They have claimed responsibility for Friday night’s series of coordinated attacks in Paris which killed 129 people and injured more than 350, over 100 of them critically. As we think of those killed, including nearly 90 people systematically slaughtered while at a concert, we mourn with the rest of the world and join them in condemning this evil act. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to all the people in Paris who are undoubtedly struggling with fear and uncertainty in the wake of this terrible tragedy.

Here in the States, this horrific event is also a reminder that we can almost certainly expect a similar attack here in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, our politicians still speak about “defeating extremism” as if this is a rational possibility. An Egyptian man told me years ago that for every extremist killed, ten more rise up to take his place. As long as Islam teaches that assurance of heaven is granted only to those who die in jihad, there will be plenty of radical replacements. Yes, we are thankful that many attacks have been averted because of the vigilance of our security forces; and yes, I believe we should be fighting ISIS with overwhelming military force; but there are at least a dozen other Muslim terrorist organizations and many “lone wolves” who shout “Allahu Akbar” even as they shoot the innocent. Terrorism is deeply rooted in Islam’s history and sacred texts.

What must Christians do in the face of this evil? First, we must pray for the survivors and for the many families who grieve the loss of loved ones in this senseless attack. We should especially pray for the Christians in Paris who can point to the eternal hope found only in Christ.

Second, we urge moderate Muslims to condemn these attacks and renounce the Islamic teaching that Islam must and should rule the world. Only such an acknowledgement from Islamic leaders can inspire a new generation of Muslims to reject this Islamic imperative of forceful imposition. Meanwhile, let us not despise our Muslim neighbors, but rather demonstrate our concern for them.

Finally, we need to pray for our leaders. Pray that they will be given wisdom as they do whatever they can to keep us safe, realizing that there is no “foolproof” method to prevent an attack. We pray that our own nation will abandon its naïve understanding of terrorism, protect our borders, and vet those who come to live among us.

Take it from someone who Himself was dead and then raised to life: “… do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Be encouraged, ISIS cannot cancel the promises of God!  

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