August 21, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

     Time travel - backwards, and forwards - has been a topic for speculative entertainment for centuries. H.G. Wells wasn't "before his time," necessarily, when he wrote The Time Machine in 1895. Maybe he was just a man from the future, who dropped back into the past to write a teaser about the future.

     I mean, think about it: if you turned your calendar back just a decade, and threw the idea of the daily headlines of "The War on Terror" on the breakfast table... would you have believed it?

     Ten years ago, Terror wasn't on the front page. It was sensational crimes like the murder of Jonbenet Ramsey that had us spellbound. The murder is back... but it's sharing space with Terror in our consciousness...

     Here's a line that defies attribution: "Every Muslim is not a terrorist... but, every terrorist is a Muslim." Now, to be succinct, let's admit it: anytime you see the word "every" in a statement, we raise to find an exception, to invalidate the entire argument. Nonetheless - as a generalization - editorial pages from the deepest Red States to the boldest Blue States are finding that phrase in letters and columns from myriad authors. "Every Muslim is not a terrorist:" absolutely true. I don't know many Muslims - admittedly - but, as I pass folks whose attire bespeaks their beliefs on the street, or in the mall, I don't feel tense or insecure. But, it's that next phrase in the couplet that catches in our American civil liberties windpipe: "... but, every terrorist is a Muslim." Are they?

     Are there exceptions? No question. But, does the existence of exceptions mean that the underlying assumption is flawed?

     Sit down to Google and explore the news - over the last ten years - with "terror" as the search word. See how often you find the descriptor - "Muslim" - in the text of the story. Every time? No way. Most times? I'd bet next week's paycheck on it. We live at a moment in time when "Muslim" and "terrorist" are inexorably linked. Does that lead to profiling? That question is more political than pragmatic: if we were looking to leverage our security dollars, we'd be profiling in a heartbeat. But, it's not about results, it's about political sensitivities; don't expect young Muslim men to receive any greater scrutiny at the airline gate than the Baptist grandma who is wheelchair-dependent, bound for her family reunion...

     George W. Bush referred to "Islamo-Fascists" as the bad guys. He's getting closer to the bull’s eye. As much as Americans may think differently, the radicals fighting against us consider this to be a religious war; we will see it differently at the expense of our strategic defense.

     In the Muslim world, the radicals are terrorists. They are willing to "give it all" to advance their cause. In the Christian world - not the cultural Christian world, but the born-again Christian world - the radicals are evangelicals. They are willing to "give it all" to advance their cause. How do they differ? The Muslim radical wants political and cultural domination, based on the rigid constraints of his/her religious system, one country at a time. They aren't out for "live and let live" freedom; it's "our way, or no way" as they pursue global Islamization. Those radicals involve stealing, killing and destroying in their strategic practices.

     The Christian radical wants to get the news of God's love for the spiritually-fallen human race out to every living person, explaining that love through the story of the Son of God and his mission to Earth 2000 years ago. His uniqueness, his teachings, his sacrificial death, his triumphant resurrection, and his offer to forgive sin and give eternal life, all leading to the offer to be transformed from hell-bound to heaven-assured. Those radicals involve going, teaching and baptizing in their strategic practices.

     I don't need a time machine to know the outcome of this religious conflict. The final score? God wins... and every religious system that is not based on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ will be dismissed - by Him, at the final judgment - as a front for the Evil One.

     We're at war. If you're a follower of Jesus, you're on the victorious side. How does the conflict find its way into your life, this week? Is it an irritating distraction... or, your central focus?

Bob Shank

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