by Lynn McAdam
In the midst of all the memorials of September 11, we would like to call at least four things to mind.
It was three years ago, yet we recall the most aggressive terrorist attack on the US since Pearl Harbor as if it happened yesterday. My family and I had been back in the US on our home assignment less than two months, but each of us experienced the terror of September 11 with American eyes. In the classrooms, through the media and while talking with neighbors we sang “I’m proud to be an American,“ and meant it.
Much has happened since 9-11-01. We’ve been back “home“ in Germany for more than two years now; yet even after twenty-four months on German soil, we sometimes feel like foreigners here. This was particularly true during the Iraq War when our children were in the “hotseat” at school for several weeks. The German opinion-makers, including the most diverse collection of religious groups, stood united in their criticism of the US. In fact, the national church in Germany made it clear that supporting the War was irreconcilable with the Christian faith, stating: “War cannot be God’s will… evil cannot be defeated with rockets.”
Ironically, the attack on Iraq elevated Jesus to the status of a respected role model again in German society. The Master is viewed as the ultimate “peacemaker,” and anyone claiming to be his disciple must also endorse this “peace at all costs” stance—or so we were told. He commands us to love our neighbors, and so everyone assumed that the McAdams family (as confessing Christians) would oppose the war.
Yes, we do advocate loving one’s neighbor, but what if that neighbor—as was true for countless Iraqis—is being persecuted? Isn’t it an act of love or peace to free those suffering at the hands of another? If necessary, by force?
We are not usually “political,” yet circumstances seemed to force each of us to address world politics—in public. The Germans’ pacifistic response is explainable, I suppose, in light of its war-torn twentieth century history. Yet the premium placed on peace is frightening. In contrast, the commodity most praised and prized by Americans seems to be freedom. While German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder repeatedly emphasized Germany’s commitment to the peace process, President Bush’s response to 9-11 was, “We will fight to preserve our freedom, and we will emerge victorious!”
In the midst of all the memorials of September 11, we would like to call at least four things to mind. First, remember that Jesus is the key to both peace (Jn. 16:33) and freedom (Jn. 8:31-32).
Second, the greatest terrorist act in history occurred 2,000 years ago when the Son of God was nailed to a Roman cross. Yet, through this injustice the victory of the resurrection emerged.
Third, Islam and Christianity have been in conflict for 1,200 years. At times these tensions run hot, at other times cold. But it never ends, for Islam and Christianity represent two distinct and clashing worldviews—and always have. Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you. The Turkish national poet, Ziya Göklap, summarized the Muslim militaristic mindset with these words: “The minarets are our bayonets, the domes are our helmets, the mosques are our barracks, and the believers are our army.”
Fourth, most Europeans are blind to the increasing threat of Muslim dominance. For the most part, Ger-man culture and society have been conditioned such that criticism of Islam is voiced only with extreme caution. As one German journalist indicated, “We are approaching a situation similar to Italians who are hesitant to write openly about the mafia. This can’t be viewed as normal in a democracy.”
The dechristianization of Europe, the declining birth rate among Germans, the proliferation of Muslims, and the threat of millions more immigrating to Germany (as they are already doing in major cities across Europe), all contribute to the very real threat that Europe could become predominantly Muslim in our children’s lifetime.
What a strategic time to be here making disciples of Jesus, and working to expand his kingdom!
Lynn McAdam has served with OC International in Germany since 1985, seeking to help fulfill OCI’s vision of equipping national Christians to disciple their own nation.
EMQ, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 418-419. Copyright © 2004 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.