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Faith, courage and peace in a world of terrorism

Our hearts break for the families who have lost loved ones in Paris.

Once again, we have been painfully reminded that we live in a dangerous world where religious extremists are willing to kill and massacre in the name of God.

These were innocent people living their lives, going to dinner, attending a soccer match, listening to live music at a concert hall.

These were husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. It is sickening and infuriating.

They had no idea that Friday, Nov. 13, would be their final day.

How are we to respond? It is clear that these religious extremists have no interest in peace.

They have no interest in dialogue. They have no interest in respecting human life or the ways of the civilized world.

This is the 21st century face of evil, and you cannot rationalize with evil. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the great church leaders in the early 20th century.

He believed in community. He believed in peace. He believed in the ways and teachings of Christ.

However, when confronted with the reality that was Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, he went in on an assassination plot.

He believed that there is only one way to deal with that type of evil.

ISIS must be dealt with. Their goal is not only a global caliphate but for all of us to live paralyzed by fear. We cannot let them succeed.

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by Joe Carter

November 14, 2015

Islamic State claimed responsibility today for a series of attacks in Paris yesterday that killed 127 people. In a statement the group said the purpose of the killings was, “To teach France, and all nations following its path, that they will remain at the top of Islamic State’s list of targets, and that the smell of death won’t leave their noses as long as they partake in their crusader campaign.”

Here are nine things you should know about this Islamic terrorist group.

1. Islamic State is the current name of an Islamic militant group that was established in Iraq in 2004 and pledged allegiance to “Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” They later broke away from Al-Qaeda because of differences in doctrine and objectives and formed a distinct organization. From late 2006 to mid 2013, the group called itself the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). From 2013 to mid 2014, when they expanded into Syria, they called themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). (Most Western media translate “Levant” as “Syria,” hence ISIS.) Since 2014, they have expanded their ambitions to be a global organization and today simply refer to themselves as “Islamic State.”

2. The stated long-term goal of Islamic State is to establish a “caliphate” to rule over the entire Muslim world, under a single leader and in line with Sharia (Islamic law). A caliphate is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph, a person considered a political and religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.

3. The religious-political ideology of Islamic State is Salafi-jihadism (sometimes referred to simply as “jihadism”), a distinct strand of militant Sunni Islamism. Salafi-jihadist groups like Islamic State emphasize the importance of returning to a “pure” Islam, that of the Salaf, the pious ancestors. Such groups also maintain that violent jihad is a personal religious duty of all Muslim believers. Former Islamic State leader Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi once emphasized the importance of “offensive jihad,” which he defined as “going after the apostate unbelievers by attacking [them] in their home territory, in order to make God’s word most high and until there is no persecution.” (Under their doctrine, “persecution” is understood to mean idolatry.)

4. The most prominent elements of Islamic State’s religious-political doctrine require that: all Muslims must associate exclusively with fellow “true” Muslims and dissociate from anyone not fitting this narrow definition; failure to rule in accordance with God’s law constitutes unbelief; fighting the Islamic State is tantamount to apostasy; all Shi‘a Muslims are apostates deserving of death; and the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are traitors against Islam because they compromise with the non-caliphate political process (e.g., democracy).

5. The focus on personal jihad makes Salafi-jihadist groups like Islamic State considerably different than most terrorist groups throughout history. For example, in the 1970s most Marxist and pan-Arabic terrorist groups killed people or committed other acts of terrorism in order to bring attention to their cause. For Salafi-jihadists, though, killing large number of “apostates” is itself a worthy religious objective.

6. Islamic State enshrines a theology of rape that justifies the practice of sexual slavery. Islamic State publishes a glossy propaganda magazine called Dabiq. In the October 2014 issue, IS included an article titled “The Revival Of Slavery Before The Hour,” which explains the justification for sex slavery. In Islamic terminology the “hour” refers to the Day of Judgment, a time of reckoning either for an individual upon death or on mankind. According to the article, Islamic State asked its own sharia scholars to render a verdict on whether the Yazidis (a religious minority group in Iraq) could be enslaved. They determined that “enslavement of the apostate women” was not only justified by the Quran but was a sign prefiguring the Day of Judgment.

7. Islamic State condones the rape of young girls. Last fall the Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State (ISIS) released a pamphlet on the topic of female captives and slaves:

Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.

8. Islamic State’s theology of rape also serves as a recruiting tool. As the New York Times has noted, the practice of slavery has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden. Capturing sex slaves has become nearly as important for Islamic State’s objectives as capturing territory.

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Woodman Paris

Nov 13, 2015

How can we respond in a uniquely Christian way to the horror in Paris? |

We Are All Parisians: A Christian Response to Global Terror and Radical Islam
We are, it is hard to disagree, in what will be a decades long struggle with radical Islamists. Tonight, that stark reality is made clear again as the death toll continues to rise in Paris in what has been, if early reports are accurate, a series of multiple terror attacks. While no group has claimed responsibility thus far, this scenario is all too familiar, and France has previously experienced smaller attacks from radical groups. So while we wait for more details, we are beginning to process what we do know.

Others can opine on geopolitical realities, military strategies, and more. But I’m burdened to ask, how do we respond as Christians?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can and will share some suggestions in this painful time. I believe there are things Christians can and must do to respond to this, and so many other, terrorist attacks.

Pray for France, Pray for Muslims. And pray for those who are our enemies.

First, pray. #PrayforParis. Pray for France, Pray for Muslims. And pray for those who are our enemies. That’s a uniquely Christian thing to do– to pray for all, including our enemies. It’s not easy, but it is our calling.

Second, love the hurting. Though most of us are not in Paris tonight, we know that Christians are there, along with others, loving those who have lost so many. And,even from where we sit, we can love the French and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). It was the French newspaper LeMonde that said in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, “We are all Americans now.” Well, today, we are all Parisians.

Third, love our enemies. Again, that is what makes our faith unique. Most of us are watching this unfold from outside of France, but as the President of the United States said in his remarks, “this is an attack on all of humanity.” When we let that sink in, love isn’t our first natural feeling. But love is what we are called to anyway.

You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. –Matthew 5:43-45

But in moments like this, that response can be hard to come by. We have to consider our own tendencies, and be ready to flee from temptation. Fresh memories from 14 years ago come back for Americans tonight, and strong feelings rise to the surface.

Sometimes it’s not enough to just give lip service to what we should be doing. We also have to commit to what we should be resisting. And on a night like this, there are at least three things we should NOT do as Christians.

First, we should not hate. That’s what our human nature wants to do. We feel pain for those on the other side of the ocean. We feel anger toward an evil that we cannot control. We remember what it feels like to live in a nation under attack. And some of us may even worry about people we know who live in France. All these emotions, especially together, can lead our souls to some troubling places. But the truth is, we are people who live with hope and who live with a mission. We cannot hate a people and reach a people at the same time. As we pray, we must pray for our own hearts to be protected from hate.

Second, we should not take out anger on refugees.

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