Walk in the way of the cross

One of the most difficult thing for Christians is to walk in His footsteps. Steps that led, inexorably to a heinous death on the cross. For us, and in obedience to God. The cross and the crucifixion remain, in the words of 1 Corinthians 1:23, “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”

Well, we all know of a whole passel of Gentiles who have declared war on the Cross, and on Christians, as well as Jews: militant Muslims. How to respond? John Piper, in this recent essay, would seem to advocate the “love thy enemy” approach:

My greatest longing in response to this [Muslim] enmity is that Christians walk in the way of the cross. Yes, militant Islam is big and threatening. It may even be the true Quranic Islam. There are alarmists whose whole tone seems to awaken political and even militant responses from Christians. My concern is that as the church we distance ourselves from this kind of response and focus on the truth that we will never spread the Christian faith by the sword. Some Muslims may kill to spread their faith. Some Christians have. But it is not the way of Christ. It is not the way of the cross…the followers of the cross will never take up arms to proclaim or defend Christ

One would need to be willfully ignorant of the Gospels to think that Christianity could be spread by the sword. Which is why we must always cast a suspicious eye on mass “conversions”, such as when a ruler adopts Christianity and mandates that all his citizens do likewise. This doesn’t make anyone Christian who wasn’t already called by God. Worse, it employs the sword, in the form of state power, to force professions of belief. For better or worse, this has been the model for much of Christian history.

On the other hand, pace John Piper, do we not have an obligation to defend our people against militant Islam? Do protect our flocks? Of course we do; it would be unchristian not to do so.

This, however, remains in the secular realm: we do not take up the sword against militant Islam in order to convert them. The last time we claimed to be doing this, during some of the Crusades, we had the ugly picture of “Christians” killing other Christians (calling them “heretics”, of course), and Jews. Not that it was a bad thing to take back the Holy Land, but it would’ve been nice if the Crusaders could have just stuck to that program…

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