I got home from work the other day and flipped on the television to see Fox News’s Shepherd Smith reporting on a terrorist attack in Belgium. I was about as shocked by this as I am by the fact that it rains every two days here in southern Alabama. (It’s actually raining as I write this.) Sadly, these sort of gruesome and barbaric acts of violence by Muslim extremists have become the norm. I admit that, like most of us, I’m just as guilty of developing a numbness and indifference about these horrors — munching on potato chips or devouring pizza as I listen to reports of innocent human beings whose limbs were blown off and their bodies shredded and severed in two. I’m not proud of this. I despise my own nonchalance. I hate that shocking catastrophes are no longer shocking. But, this is what it’s come to. It’s become the American routine: Leave work at 5:00, tune in to talk radio, listen to a smattering of details about the latest terrorist attack and then go home and cook dinner.
Of course, it doesn’t help things when our political leaders refuse to lead by example — the latest pathetic exhibition coming from President Obama, who decided it would be better to hang out in Cuba with a communist dictator named Raul Castro than return to America and address the situation. This isn’t really all that shocking either. But, I’ll reserve my judgements about Obama’s motives and apathy for another day.
Speaking of judging, I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of talk on social media about how Christians should stop “judging and criticizing” Islam and even Muslim extremists. It was truly only a matter of seconds before the bored, pajama-clad Internet trolls descended upon Facebook and Twitter like a plague of locusts, determined to launch a barrage of deeply theological, cogent and constructive comments at Christians and conservatives. Comments like: 1) Your make-believe god says not to judge people and here you are doing just that. Piss off. 2) You all worship the same god. 3) Stop acting like Christianity is better. You’re all full of crap. The irony here is rich, of course: People judging and criticizing Christians for judging and criticizing Islam. Hilarious. It seems the general census goes something like this: Well, that’s their faith. Who are you to say that they’re wrong? They have religious beliefs just like you do!
I guess the difference between their faith and mine is that mine doesn’t require me to slaughter hordes of innocent civilians to appease my God — much less the fact that my God doesn’t condone such violence in the first place. Does this make me a close-minded and bigoted meanie? Oh well.
There’s so much insanity that I could address here, but for now I’d like to focus on the folks — particularly the Christians — who say “it’s wrong for other Christians to judge Islam and Muslims." As you’re undoubtedly aware, they base this belief on Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:1. “Judge not that ye be not judged.” (King James Version) It should really go without saying that is one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood verses in all of Scripture. But, that doesn’t seem to stop them from whipping out like some sort of biblical trump card.
Me: Did you hear about that terrorist attack?
Internet Christians: Yes, but Islamic Muslims are just adhering to their faith!
Me: Yeah, but they blew up buildings, killed over 30 people and left hundreds injured.
Internet Christians: But Jesus says we can’t judge! Judge not, lest you be judged, you bigoted Islamophobe!
Such a profound rebuttal. We often hear this sort of thing from atheists, but the truth is that many Christians do it just as often, if not more. And, to put it as nicely as possible, it’s a load of bullcrap. We all know it’s not accurate. We all know that if we strolled into our local Best Buy and saw a masked man stealing a flatscreen TV, we wouldn’t think: ‘Well, it’s OK because stealing expensive electronics is just his definition of ‘right.’ Only a crazy, pot-smoking, hippie relativist would think something like that. ‘Yah, mon, it’s all just, like, totally relative, you know?’ As Christians, we know what is right and good and true. We know that there is Moral Law and that God has righteous and holy standards for all of mankind. And yet, here we are, with a whole generation of Christ-followers declaring that we shouldn’t judge other people’s beliefs, especially Muslims. Political correctness has completely taken over. Truth be damned.
I know this will probably be a futile effort on my part, but, in light of this most recent Islamic terrorist attack, I want to point out a couple of important things for Christians. I’ll probably never convince atheists or those on the progressive left to take any of this seriously, but maybe I can at least persuade them to stop misinterpreting and misusing this verse:
1.) Jesus was considered a judgmental guy in His day.
In John 7:24, Jesus says: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.” It’s a simple concept, really. Your judgements should be grounded in Truth (God’s Word), not just superficial or shallow reasoning. Jesus did this sort of thing all the time, particularly with the Pharisees, even going so far as to call them “serpents” and “broods of vipers.” I think people would have gasped at that sort of insult back then, but it was an accurate description and Jesus wanted the Pharisees to judge righteously as well (often referencing the standards of the Old Testament and the laws given by Moses.) Of course, this isn’t the only example. We’d be here all day listing the passages where Jesus makes judgements about society and condemns sin. The entire Sermon on the Mount is practically a series of condemnations directed at the Pharisees and their evil, unbiblical teachings. I imagine that, were He walking the Earth in the flesh today, Jesus wouldn’t be invited to any of the political elite’s cocktail parties. (Not that He would care.)
2.) Christianity is Truth and Islam is not.
This is particularly important. Later on in Matthew 7, Jesus warns us to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” See, a lot of the folks who quote Matthew 7:1 completely ignore the context of the next few verses. It’s not wrong or mean or intolerant to have wise discernment about a person’s beliefs or about the teachings of a particular religion. In fact, if you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to exercise this sort of judgement. Why? Because Christianity is truer and better than every other “religion” and in every way — yes, even Islam. No other religion in history has lifted more people out of poverty. No other religion has clothed the naked, fed the hungry, ministered to the sick, encouraged the hopeless and loved the unloveable like Christianity has. No other religion has dispatched tens of thousands — indeed, millions — of men and women to journey to the deepest, darkest, filthiest, farthest corners of the Earth to share the hope of the Gospel with those who have never heard. As Christians, we aren’t perfect, but our faith is perfect. Christianity isn’t just better because of its centuries of positive influence on western civilization and the world, it’s also better because it’s true. It’s true historically, theologically, archeologically, spiritually, culturally and in every other way that matters.
Islam, on the other hand, is not only a false religion, but a violent and barbaric one. No, not all Muslims are violent — in fact, most of them aren’t. But, Islam is by and far the most savage and brutal religion on the planet and has undeniably resulted in the senseless slaughter of thousands of innocent lives. I’m no Islamic theologian, so I assume there are multiple interpretations of Muslim scripture. Maybe these bloodthirsty terrorists are just adhering to their understanding of it. I have no idea. But, I do know that I can hardly watch five minutes of evening news without seeing the “fruits” of Islam, usually in the form of dead bodies and buildings reduced to rubble. If this is truly a “religion of peace” — as so many politicians and Muslim spokespeople want us to believe — it would seem they have some serious problems to fix.
Of all the theistic religions out there, Islam is the only one savagely executing defenseless civilians on a regular basis (many of who are Christians by the way.) We can no longer afford to ignore this or make excuses for it. It’s time to stop pretending that it’s all relative and meaningless. It’s time to exercise some biblical, Christlike judgement and speak the Truth.
And now is a good time to start.
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