Intellectual Terrorism

Twelve years ago, America learned a new word: terrorism. The rules of warfare have changed from the days when men marched stoically across a field and prepared for the order to attack. Now, men strap bombs to their chests in public areas while others use women and children as shields. As if it wasn't enough before, war has gotten dirtier.

Most people think that terrorism is about fear, and this is somewhat true. A suicide bomber can't take millions of lives; but he can terrify millions. Fear, more than the bomb, is the primary weapon. A plain clothes man walking the street before leveling a city block means that such men could be anywhere. It sends a powerful message that any one of us could be next; we could all be sheep awaiting the slaughter. And this makes us victims already. Not of a bomb's detonation, but of terrorism's true purpose: coercion.

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This should be easy for Christians to spot seeing that we point out manipulation everywhere. Science teachers are trying to make our kids atheists, pro-choice folks are trying to convince our kids to have abortions, and gay lobbyists are trying to turn our kids gay. Or so I'm told. If true, you might call this sort of thing intellectual terrorism.

Teachers prey on children's fear of the unknown, Planned Parenthood preys on their fear of unintended pregnancy, and lobbyists on their fears of not being accepted. Fear is being used to manipulate a person into receiving the desired message. But if coercion is used to bring about conversion, then it ceases to be evangelism and instead becomes terrorism. And yes, now I'm speaking to Christians.

It might come as a shock to think of Christians as terrorists (how quickly we forget the Crusades), but it's hard to ignore when observing how we engage others. Especially when talking about truth.

Christians, like many people of other faiths, reserve a monopoly on truth. So when asked why we believe as we do, we're apt to say, "because it's true." Fair enough (or not). But the Muslim or Hindu person we're talking to believes that what they believe is true. "Yes, but they're wrong." Ok...but they think that we're wrong. I'm not sure why the church ever thought this sort of catch-22 reasoning was productive. Perhaps it's because we've deceived ourselves into believing that people can be bullied into our truth.

Yet clever speech has never led anyone into the kingdom. Rather, all of us have been convinced upon meeting Jesus Christ. Why would we think that anything less than him would suffice? That's not to say that we leave the intellectual realm to the so-called "professionals." It just means that we recognize it's not our job to convince anyone that Christianity is reasonable.

I'll never forget when the professor in one of my freshman Moody classes told us to never try to convince people that their religion is wrong. Because when we deconstruct a person's religion, we're really deconstructing their faith. And more often than not, these folks don't become Christians; they become agnostics. They've not only lost faith in their religion, they've lost faith completely.

Stop fighting a war for truth. Stop creating more victims of intellectual terrorism. Start introducing people to Jesus.

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