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12.20.2005    |    Walk in the way of the cross
One of the most difficult thing for Christians is to walk in His footsteps. Steps that led, inexorably to a heinous death on the cross. For us, and in obedience to God. The cross and the crucifixion remain, in the words of 1 Corinthians 1:23, "a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles."

Well, we all know of a whole passel of Gentiles who have declared war on the Cross, and on Christians, as well as Jews: militant Muslims. How to respond? John Piper, in this recent essay, would seem to advocate the "love thy enemy" approach:
My greatest longing in response to this [Muslim] enmity is that Christians walk in the way of the cross. Yes, militant Islam is big and threatening. It may even be the true Quranic Islam. There are alarmists whose whole tone seems to awaken political and even militant responses from Christians. My concern is that as the church we distance ourselves from this kind of response and focus on the truth that we will never spread the Christian faith by the sword. Some Muslims may kill to spread their faith. Some Christians have. But it is not the way of Christ. It is not the way of the cross...the followers of the cross will never take up arms to proclaim or defend Christ
One would need to be willfully ignorant of the Gospels to think that Christianity could be spread by the sword. Which is why we must always cast a suspicious eye on mass "conversions", such as when a ruler adopts Christianity and mandates that all his citizens do likewise. This doesn't make anyone Christian who wasn't already called by God. Worse, it employs the sword, in the form of state power, to force professions of belief. For better or worse, this has been the model for much of Christian history.

On the other hand, pace John Piper, do we not have an obligation to defend our people against militant Islam? Do protect our flocks? Of course we do; it would be unchristian not to do so.

This, however, remains in the secular realm: we do not take up the sword against militant Islam in order to convert them. The last time we claimed to be doing this, during some of the Crusades, we had the ugly picture of "Christians" killing other Christians (calling them "heretics", of course), and Jews. Not that it was a bad thing to take back the Holy Land, but it would've been nice if the Crusaders could have just stuck to that program...

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.