The Answer to Islam
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
While military action is the default political strategy of the world, the real war is for the hearts and minds of men- a spiritual war which the church has been commanded to engage in. However, this command has been neglected to disastrous effect, both for them and for us. The answer to Islam, the war on terror and instability in the Middle East lies in sending missionaries, not in military strength.
Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has once again offended millions by stating the obvious- Islamic nations do not like the West. That is not to say all Muslims harbor resentment toward Western culture, but polls certainly show a majority do (see previous link). This should not be surprising to anyone who has spent time in the Middle East or who has bothered to pick up a history book as this feud dates back to over a millennium ago. Islam has been trying to conquer Western civilization for nearly as long as Islam has existed and for the most part, the West’s response has been to meet violence with violence. But one must acknowledge that this age-old conflict is not just cultural or political, but religious.
Islamic eschatology is by no means subtle- Muhammed made it clear that the end goal of Islam is world domination. Consequently, there are two houses according to the Qur’an: The House of Islam and the House of War. Simply put, this theology defines anyone who is not a Muslim as an enemy of Islam who must either be converted, subjugated or killed. According to Islamic eschatology, this global domination will be completed in the end times, ushered in by the Mahdi (the Islamic messianic figure) and ending with the day of judgment. Mohammed himself initiated this global conquest and personally led approximately 66 battles against the “infidels.” After his death, his disciples continued the Jihad and spread Islam by the sword throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. But though they sought to conquer Europe, they were met with much resistance. For hundreds of years, under many different Sultans, Caliphs and warlords, Islam beat at the doors of the West managing at last to completely annihilate the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, but never able to secure the remnants of the Western Roman Empire.
Throughout most of this historical conflict the West has primarily been on the defensive, with a few notable exceptions such as the Crusades. That changed with the advent of World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the British. In more recent history of course the West has been engaged in several small-scale wars and conflicts in the Middle East and are often perceived as the aggressors. This perpetual conflict in that region has caused many to grow weary of it and slowly shift the perception to laying the blame for these conflicts on Western Imperialism. While the motives for the “war on terror” are certainly muddy, the same is not true for the motives of Islamic nations- they are clearly religious in nature. They want to finish the task that Muhammed began and the task that their scripture both demands and predicts. Iran’s radical regime goes as far as believing that starting World War III will ultimately bring about the advent of the Mahdi and the end times.
The West’s response to Islam has usually been that of war and violence, which is expected from a geo-political and national sovereignty standpoint. The chief responsibility of any national government is after all to secure their borders and protect their citizens. Even the Bible states that the government does not wield the sword for nothing (Rom 13:3-4). But while kings, rulers and politicians debate about whether or not to go to war, about national interests, economic factors and weigh benefits against risks, the church should be acting decisively and without hesitation. Our mandate is clear: Preach the Gospel to all nations. I heard Christian author and Islamic expert Joel Richardson once comment on how different the Islamic world would look if instead of soldiers, we sent thousands of missionaries. His stinging rebuke of the church is not without warrant- the Gospel simply is not being sent to these nations or to these people despite Christ’s command to do so. Why? Because the danger is real and loss of one’s life for the sake of the Gospel there is a very strong possibility. Strangely though, American families are very comfortable and even proud of their sons and daughters joining the military and travelling to these locations actively seeking dangerous situations for the sake of their country but for some reason can’t stomach the thought of sending their children into harm’s way for the sake of the Gospel. But the latter is not only commanded of all believers, but is also much more effective at actually securing peace in the region.
It's not just Bible-reading Christians who recognize this reality though- even some avowed atheists have realized that the Gospel is the greatest hope for stability in the Middle East. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a well-known and respected ex-Muslim-turned-atheist and author of several books condemning Islam. But despite being an atheist, she recognizes the strategic use of Christian evangelism in the Muslim world as more effective than military interventions (see a short, 3-minute interview clip here-an error message may appear, just wait a few seconds and it will play). In other words, the Gospel is so effective, so transformative, that even those biased against Christianity recognize its power. Ironically, it seems it is actually those within the church who need convincing.
The bride of Christ in the West has become such a whore to the culture around her that she has bought into several strategic and effective lies of the enemy. Just a few of those lies are that the Gospel isn’t really good news, it doesn’t have the power to transform and that it should be kept to ourselves. Our culture has indoctrinated us into syncretism and relative truth, so we’ve been duped into believing that Islam and Christianity are two sides of the same coin and that ultimately ideologies don’t have consequences. Furthermore, we’ve accepted the lie that there is no power in the Gospel- primarily because most Western Christians haven’t witnessed much transformation in their own lives. Of course ironically the reason they have not personally experienced the power of the Gospel is because of the culturally diluted version they have received. And finally, the Western church has accepted the lie that the Great Commission is an optional activity that should be done quietly and tastefully, if done at all, in order to not offend anyone. Amazingly, because the enemy has spoon-fed these lies to Christians via their culture, they are accepted as truth and as wisdom rather than the world’s strategic neutralizing of the church’s power and authority that they truly are.
It’s time to stop paying lip service, cast off cultural Christianity and live for the Gospel. It’s time for a new generation of heroes of the faith to rise up and be willing to lay down their lives- not for the sake of their country, but for the sake of the Kingdom. We have shirked this responsibility for far too long and are now reaping the consequences which will soon reach a critical mass. It has now become a do or die scenario eerily echoing Christ’s clear warning; “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” We have neglected missions in certain regions of the world because we have cared more for our lives. What does that say about our salvation?
Scripture prophesies several times that the dersert tribes (all the nations surrounding Israel, which are all Islamic) will be redeemed and come to salvation. Many in the church believe Muslims to be a lost cause, but this is ismply not the case. Muslims all around the Middle East are coming to know Christ in numbers that are staggering. Muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus, over 60 indigenous church planting movements are active in the Muslim world and even in radical Islamic nations, thousands upon thousands are believing in Christ- some estimates are as high as 1,000 per day in Iran alone. The harvest is ripe in the Islamic world, but the workers are few. Some of the most exciting, fulfilling and fruitful ministries on the face of the earth are just waiting for a Christ follower to answer the call and respond in faith, "Here I am, send me!" Why settle for something less?