I’m seeing a lot of “we just need to understand them” posts coming out now, both from Christian and secular sources. This piece will help frame ISIS’s strategy and ideology. I read the article when it first came out, and, as I remember the article, it does a great job of explaining this group.
The more I learn about Islam, the more I’m beginning to understand how a works-based (versus a grace- and gospel-based) religion perverts one’s behaviors. Islam is a works-based religion, where the good a person does is balanced against the evil. If the scales tip one way, it’s paradise; if they tip the other way, eternal torment. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how the scales will tip until one moment after death.
Radicalized Islam, like the version highlighted in this article, give a shortcut. To die a martyr’s death circumvents the judgment. Knowing that heaven or hell weighs in the balance, and knowing there is an alternative, leads to these results.
Christians, we’re in danger of establishing our own works-based gospel. We can easily swap our good works for the work of the cross, and, while it may not lead to suicide bombings and self-sacrificing attacks, it does lead to arrogance. I believe that we are probably all guilty of comparing our good works against those of others, and, even worse, comparing our good works against the evil done by others.
We – I – should always remember the words spoken by Martin Luther, “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!’”
Knowing we cannot earn salvation should lead to humility and acts of good service. And it should motivate us to invite others to a simpler life in the saving work of Christ.