Last week a terrorist suicide bombing in Manchester killed twenty-two young people and physically injured 119. Who can count how many were left traumatised? Soon afterwards, ten masked gunmen opened fire on a bus full of Coptic Christians in Egypt. Twenty-nine killed and twenty-four wounded. This, on top of the twin bombings the Egyptian Christians suffered on Palm Sunday killed forty-six Christians.
In times of religious extremism, should the gospel still be preached? Isn’t that insensitive? The answer is in no way a shade of grey. In times of Religious Extremism, the Gospel still needs to be preached! Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 18:19. This still applies to times such as these. Certainly, you should be sensitive in how you preach the gospel, I don’t recommend crocodile leather shoes, a reflective suit and dazzling lights, but that’s different from stopping completely!
In times of Religious Extremism, the perception builds that all extremists are religious extremists, but this is far from the truth. Ideology, religion, race, science and philosophy have all been used by extremists. Political ideology mixed with atheism was used to kill millions in the last century. The Khmer Rouge (Communist Party of Kampuchea) alone killed 1.7 million people and that had nothing to do with religion, that was anti-religion. Theories of Evolution and scientific biology were used by the Nazis to kill millions. Colour was and still is used by white and black supremacists to justify their extremism and nationalism is commonly used by extremists across the world.
Religious extremism, of course, is the current form of extremism. In the West and Middle East Islam is used by ISIS and Boko Haran, elsewhere Buddhism is used by extremists. Although it never makes our press, Buddhist and Hindu based violence is also on the increase. Judaism has been hijacked by Zionist extremists and many British soldiers and policemen, as well as masses of Christians and Muslims have been murdered by them. In short, religious extremism is real and deadly, but far from the cause of all violent extremism, ultimately it is violent extremists that are the cause of violent extremism! Agree or disagree with the route cause, but don’t get focused on that, get focused on the gospel! In times of Religious extremism, you don’t stop preaching the gospel, you preach it with conviction.
Beware! Posting anti-Muslim, anti-Atheist or anti-Jewish rhetoric to tackle extremism is not preaching the gospel. Equally, posting pro-Muslim pro-Atheist or pro-Jewish rhetoric isn’t either. Anything that clarifies the situation, from any source, is helpful. I posted a brilliant explanation from comedian Guz Khan, ‘cos he’s a Muslim init. However, helpful and funny as he was, I mustn’t lose sight of preaching the gospel altogether.
In times of religious extremism, should the gospel still be preached? Yes!