According to ChristianPost.com, on 9/25/2011 a suicide bomber attacked the Saddleback sister church in Solo, Indonesia. Saddleback church is the one that Rick Warren pastors in Southern California. Two people were killed in the attack and 17 were injured. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not the perpetrator was a Muslim, but Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population. Even though Indonesia officially recognizes freedom of religious expression, tensions have been rising between Christians and Muslims in recent years. Furthermore, "The city of Solo is also radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir's hometown. Bashir is considered the spiritual leader for the group that killed more than 200 people in Bali in 2002, according to media reports."1 Does the Quran advocates such attacks? Yes, it does.
- "Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil's strategy is ever weak" (Quran 4:76).
- "O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand" (Quran 8:65).
- "O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination" (Quran 9:73).
Clearly the Quran advocates fighting for the cause of Allah. This fighting includes battle (4:76), war (8:65), and "striving hard against the unbelievers" (9:75). With such admonitions, it is easy for a dedicated Muslim to justify strapping a bomb to his body, going to a Christian church, and blowing himself up as he tries to take as many "unbelievers" as he can into oblivion. Though not all Muslims believe in doing this, it is the Quran that provides the philosophical foundation for such crimes. However, it doesn't stop there. Think about what the Muslim is doing. He believes that by killing Christians two things happen. First, he gets to go to heaven (Hadith Vol. 9, Book 93, #555)2) and the Christians, because he believes they're infidels, go to eternal Hell. So what he's doing is actually the most unloving thing possible. He is seeking to guarantee salvation to himself while purposely trying to send people to eternal damnation.
What should be the Christian church's response?
Jesus told us in Luke 6:27-29, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either." He was teaching us that we should not return evil for evil. In addition, as Paul says, we are to try to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Such self-sacrifice and willing vulnerability can be very costly but that is the teaching of truth that comes from the very heart of God who sacrificed himself by becoming vulnerable and dying, thus providing salvation and forgiveness in the cross.
Does this mean that we are to do nothing--that we are to lay aside all self-protection and meekly be led to the slaughter? That is an option, but there is another. We have the right of self-defense. Jesus also said in Luke 22:36, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one." As surprising as this verse is to a lot of people, it is what Christ taught. What are we to make of His instruction to His disciples to buy a sword? The context was in missionary work, and Jesus was telling us that we have the right of self-defense when spreading the Gospel. Naturally, this means we need to expect persecution in the process, and we can conclude that we can turn the other cheek and also defend ourselves.
But, let's make it clear. As Christians, we should not retaliate. Instead, we should pray for those who persecute us and even seek to help them. How else will they see what true grace really is from those who profess to follow the Great Savior who died so that we might live?
- 1. http://www.christianpost.com/news/rick-warren-suicide-bomber-attacks-saddlebacks-sister-church-in-indonesia-56451/
- 2. "Allah's Apostle said, 'Allah guarantees (the person who carries out Jihad in His Cause and nothing compelled him to go out but Jihad in His Cause and the belief in His Word) that He will either admit him into Paradise (Martyrdom) or return him with reward or booty he has earned to his residence from where he went out,'"(Hadith Vol. 9, Book 93, #555.)