Many of us are concerned about the radical militants calling themselves the “Islamic State” who have taken over parts of Syria and Iraq in an attempt to create a new caliphate, or sovereign Muslim nation.
But we are not as concerned as we should be.
But we are not concerned enough about what this turn of events means for Christianity. As much as this is a defining moment for Islam, for the Middle East, for the military, and for international politics, this is a defining moment for Christianity as well. For it is in this moment that we have to wrestle with our theology, our identity, our history, and our future in order to interpret and respond to this crisis meaningfully and well. This is not a problem just for Islam, for the Middle East, or for politicians. This is a problem of spiritual and theological significance that has the potential to define our ability to be prophetic, faithful, just, and compassionate in this and future conflicts.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to take someone else’s problem and make it all about me. What I’m saying is that our response to this situation is significant not only for those impacted by our response but for our own faith as well. What I’m saying is that if we view this as someone else’s problem somewhere else, we go against some of the major tenets of our faith. What I’m saying is that our involvement should be shaped by our faith, motivated by our faith, and will ultimately be defining for our faith.
So if you weren’t terribly concerned, I hope you are now.
But before we can get into theology, identity, history, or future, we need to have a clear understanding of what is going on right now. All of the terminology surrounding different sects of Islam and religious minority groups in the affected region, all of the history and politics and violence of this area – all of this needs to be cleared up and understood.
At our gathering, we will be blessed once again with the presence of my thoughtful and articulate friend, Serene Katranji-Zeni. She invites us to ask any and all questions without embarrassment or apology.
I invite you to read some of the following articles in preparation for our discussion so that you are up-to-date on information and exposed to a variety of viewpoints.
And I invite you to begin pondering a few scriptures and questions:
How do we prophetically stand against the violent, radical nation-building of ISIS with texts such as these in our own scriptures?
Does our thinking change when we hear how Jesus interprets the Kingdom of God?
Thursday, October 2, 7 p.m.
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