The following article was written by Bob Russell, former senior pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. A very wise man.
What Terrorism Reveals About The Nature of Man & The Future Of America
Why would two brothers who have lived in the United States for the past decade become terrorists? What motivates young men that were described as, “modest and athletic, the kind of kids that made neighbors feel comfortable,” to viciously kill and maim innocent people? What possibly goes on in their minds? We’re all asking those questions in hopes of finding a way to prevent terrorist activity in the future.
I firmly believe the answers can be found in the Bible. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. And C.S. Lewis once wrote that we really don’t need to be taught new ideas as much as we need to be reminded of old truths. Here are seven basic Biblical principles that help explain the escalation of evil and the most practical path to restraining terrorism.
1. The human heart is sinful and naturally gravitates to wickedness. The Bible identifies the carnal nature of man as, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). That’s been true ever since a jealous Cain killed his brother Abel. Just as surely as a beautiful apple with one small bruise eventually turns rotten, the human heart, left unrestrained, is capable of despicable acts of violence. Jesus apprised His enemies by saying, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him… “(John 8:44).
2. What we feed into our minds eventually impacts behavior. The Bible says, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace.” Interviews with acquaintances and examination of social media pages have disclosed that the Tsarnaevs brothers smoked pot, viewed pornography and played violent video games. The Bible warns, “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction” (Gal. 6:7-8).
One poet wrote, “Two natures beat within my breast; one is foul, the other blessed. The one I love, the one I hate. The one I feed will dominate”. King Solomon described it more succinctly, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
3. False religion is a breeding ground for evil. There’s a popular myth that all religions are equal. But Jesus warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matt. 7:15). The Bible urges us to be alert to the fact that Satan masquerades as an angel of light and is the father of lies.
Some speculate the Tsarnaev brothers may have been indoctrinated to hate America in a terrorist camp while visiting their native country. Under the guise of religious zeal, young extremists are being trained to kill, steal and destroy. Proverbs 8:36 reads, “All who hate me love death.”
But I can’t help but wonder what kind of training the brothers received at the schools they attended in Boston for the past ten years. It’s not uncommon for liberal American instructors to ridicule Christianity and bash the USA for all its wrongs.
For over two centuries America has been a beacon of light for truth and liberty. Jesus said, “Everyone who does evil hates the light” (John 3:20). Counter-Christ religion can, in some instances, be a breeding ground for violent attacks against democracy.
4. A nation that rejects God invites chaos. Moses warned the Israelites, “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed” (Deut. 8:19).
Nature abhors a vacuum. In recent years secularists have made a concerted effort to remake America into a spiritually neutral nation and free us from the restrictions of religion. As a result, we open the floodgates for all kinds of demonic activity to rush in. “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue” (Psalm 50:22).
5. Our ultimate hope is not in the nation but in Christ. The day after the Boston bombings, an inspiring video showed Boston Bruins® hockey fans singing The National Anthem with unprecedented gusto. Afterward commentators suggested that was the people’s way of telling terrorists that they cannot destroy the American spirit. The citizens of this nation have a special passion for freedom that will persevere.
While we love America and the freedom for which it stands, Christians need to remember that our hope is not in our country but in Christ, the only sure foundation. Someday America will be no more. This great nation is not invincible anymore than the powerful major civilizations that preceded us were invincible. But, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
6. God’s people should live by faith, not by fear. “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me. They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life…In God will I trust, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-11).
Richard Wurmbrand, courageous Lutheran pastor, was imprisoned in Romania in the 1950s. He was taken captive and tortured under the wicked communist rule in Romania. His calm spirit angered his captors. One interrogator attempted to intimidate him by screaming, “Don’t you realize I can take your life from you in a heartbeat?” Unfazed, Wurmbrand responded, “Sir, put your hand over my heart. If it beats rapidly you can know I am afraid. If it beats normally then you can know that Christ lives and I do not fear what man can do to me.”
Wurmbrand was fearless because he had put his hope in Christ who had conquered sin at the cross and won the victory over death at the empty tomb. He could say with David, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me”.
7. The best hope for a secure America is evangelism. We probably will never fully understand what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers to such horrendous evil. But we do know what could have prevented it. If a Christian had befriended them and introduced them to Jesus Christ their lives could have been transformed and so much heartache could have been prevented. God’s Word promises, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
While secularists seek to stifle the message of the gospel and discourage “proselytizing,” America’s best hope for a peaceful future is that followers of Jesus will once again get on fire for carrying out the great commission and say with Peter and John, “We can’t help but speak about what we’ve seen and heard.”
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, of the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The problem of violence is as old as Cain. The solution is as old as the atoning work of Christ. For two hundred years that gospel message worked pretty well in America, providing our nation with a common moral consensus. Our most pressing need now is for a spiritual revival accompanied by a renewed evangelistic fervor. For, “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).