Looking for Reasons

  Since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington last week, BreakPoint commentaries have focused on a Christian worldview response. And we've ignored our schedule -- correctly so. The attacks were of such magnitude that no one could think of anything else. Barring additional developments, however, we will resume our regular BreakPoint schedule tomorrow with a three-part commentary on a program on evolution which will be presented next week on PBS. You need to know what PBS is up to. But, before we leave the topic of the terrorist attacks, I want to comment on the meaning of a prophetic response to this national disaster. Christians are called to speak prophetically to the world, calling for repentance. The reaction of some evangelicals, however, was, unfortunately, to place the blame for the attacks on people in groups who have had a secularizing effect on American society. I don't associate myself with those comments. Nor do I believe most American Christians do. These remarks were ill-timed and inappropriate -- as those who made them, to their credit, have acknowledged. They have apologized for them. While I obviously believe that the forces of secularism have done immeasurable harm, it is unfair to associate this tragedy with those forces. Nor can we lay the blame at the feet of Arabs or Muslims in general as some are wont to do. The hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were Muslim in name only. Several of them were involved in drunk driving and visiting strip bars, things no religious Muslim would ever do. In reality they were anarchists seeking to destroy, destabilize, and make us slaves to fear. But, you ask, aren't Christians supposed to be prophetic within the culture and point out sin? Of course, but there are biblical guidelines. First, remember the words of the apostle Peter: "It is time for judgment to begin with the family of God" [I Peter 4:17]. The sins of Christians and of the church are our first order of business. Our materialism, pride, disunity, gossip, and lack of love are as much a cause for judgment as anyone else's behavior. To single out the transgressions of others while ignoring our own is to turn biblical teaching on its head. Second, the biblical prophets who pronounced God's judgment upon the people were careful to count themselves among those being judged. And when judgment came, they shared in the suffering of the people. Jeremiah wept and wrote laments when Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel went into exile, and Moses threw his lot in with the people when God told him of his intention to wipe out Israel and begin again with him. We always speak as fellow sinners -- and should be the first to repent. Third, if we would be prophetic, we need to speak out for the right reasons: not to find scapegoats, condemn, or denounce; but out of love for our neighbors. Rather than demonizing others, we offer an alternative to destructive worldviews that have left many victims -- including the victims of last Tuesday -- in their wake. Comments that sound self-righteous and point the finger at others make it hard for ordinary people to see how the Christian message differs from the condemning message of the hijackers. Christians should be measured and balanced in all we say -- a word of caution for all of us.


Chuck Colson



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