September 23, 2001
ur Christian faith calls us to Peace tempered with Justice and in the wake of the events of September eleventh we must move forward balancing both ideals.
There is a worldwide call for Justice: Not revenge or mere retribution, but the kind of everyday justice that we see enacted in courtrooms all across the civilized world. When there is a murder committed a suspect is identified, tried and punishment is given as it is deemed appropriate. When the terroristic backpack nail bomb was detonated in our nearby Centennial Olympic Park in 1996 the cry was lifted for swift justice. Initially the wrong person was accused, who has since been made a multimillionaire by the courts, and rightly so. Later, after several more cowardly bombings, a likely suspect was identified who is still evading arrest. It may take years longer to root out that suspect.
Likewise, our government, along with most of the civilized governments of the world, is seeking information as to who, or what group, masterminded the latest terroristic attack. The obvious fact is that somebody did it, and that it was the work of many persons. Very soon there will be a time for just punishment that should include the goal of ending two decades of fear and terrorism. The only way to accomplish this necessary action is with a multi-nation police action that must be swift and effective. I do not like the use of the word "War," which the American news media started using prematurely. One television network has named their coverage, "America's New War." This is overstated. What is needed is a focused effort toward administering justice. That is not the definition of what we have experienced in the devastating world wars that have brought civilization to the brink of annihilation. The political good news is that all but very few nations are behind this international thrust. Even countries that have formerly given some support to terroristic activities are now realizing that the random murder of innocent civilians cannot continue.
In a very real sense this is a religious war. Most governments seem convinced that Usama bin Laden is the leaded of the extremist aberration of Islam that has for many years called for a "holy war" in which they believe that instant nirvana is attained by committing suicide in the process of murdering the targets of their insanity. "Jihad" is a theological part of Islam, but can only be called for by the recognized leaders of the religion as a whole. The only ones calling for a Jihad today are a small group of independent extremists. I do not believe that International Islam will give approval to a Jihad. Even in the case of the displacement of Palestinians world Islam has not called for a Jihad. People of good will from all religions and nations have been able to negotiate with the vast majority of Islamic leaders, however efforts to negotiate from a logical perspective have fallen on deaf ears with Usama bin Laden's illogical madness. His point of view represents an extreme fundamentalist cult of the Islamic faith.
Christian theology and the logical majority opinion of peaceful nations is that international police actions should only be entered into when there is a mutual agreement that there is no possibility of negotiating for peace. After twenty years of increasing terrorism, culminating in the unthinkable murder of thousands of Americans, and hundreds of international business visitors on September eleventh, the time for peacemaking seems to be past.
Justice is the way of attaining Peace. There can be no Peace without Justice. Thus, Christians have in the main believed in the concept of a "Just War." Only one word needs to be used to explain what a Just War is: That word is "Hitler." Nazi goals of world domination had to be stopped and thousands died defending our right to be free. Can any of us imagine any good coming out of Nazism? Political freedom, as does personal freewill, is costly. The stated goals of the Jihad Terrorist Movement is to impose their will on the entire world by whatever means necessary. The free world can only respond in kind with a determination to root them out by whatever means necessary.
C. S. Lewis, an Irishman, did not have to enlist on the side of the British in WW I, but he felt it was his obligation since he was a freshman scholarship student at Oxford University. He was sent to the front lines and was hit by shrapnel and almost died. Later in life he often remarked that the war was necessary to prevent a greater evil. During WW II he could not serve, although he tried to re-enlist, so he gave a famous and comforting series of live radio addresses to the people of England, as they were bunkered in bomb shelters, that were later published as the famous book, Mere Christianity. In his remarks about a just war Lewis said, "It is... in my opinion perfectly right for a... Christian soldier to kill an enemy." (MC, 106)
Jesus recognized that there will always be "wars and rumors of wars until the end of time." (see, Matt. 24:4-8) A just war is made necessary by the grave sin of a war minded nation; or, as in this case an irrational fringe group. Thus, as long as there is sin in the world, and there will be until the end of time, war will become a horrible necessity as a function of the government to protect its people. There are in most every generation Hitlers who must be defeated and disarmed. Americans have never gone to war for mere patriotism, or for selfish gains, but for the defense of liberty. In this time when nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of mindless terrorists, a targeted international police offensive is necessary. "There is a time for war and a time for peace." (Ecc. 3:8) Now is time for war. So, as our Gospel text suggests, our leaders must consult with each other devising a workable plan and make sure that they can win before entering into the war.
Our duty, as Christians,
is to pray for a swift and just end of the conflict that will result
in the cessation of the horrible twenty year reign of terroristic bombings
and hijackings of civilian airplanes. Today, on perhaps the eve of the
first retaliatory strikes, let us pray that the other side will capitulate
to the world's demands; and thus preventing bloodshed. The ball is in
the court of the bunkered leaders of the Jihad Movement. They can still
stop the conflict. This is my prayer, and hopefully all free people's,
prayer for peace. And let us pray for our President our Congress and
other leaders as they also are hopefully seeking your will to be done.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor