Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sin and MuslimTerrorists

On September 10, 2001 there was a special television program about "The Lost Boys of Sudan". Young men from families slaughtered by the Muslim dictators had come to the USA through Catholic Charities. They marveled that they could live here in peace, security and safety.

Although they were placed in Minnesota where the weather was very cold, they boys stated how much they loved the USA. One boy told about the time he went down to the river to get water. While bending over to dip the water an alligator jumped out and grabbed his little brother, eating him with a few short gulps. The young man said, "Life in my country was short, brutal and unpredictable, but here it is safe."

The next day, was September 11, 2001. I wonder how those same boys were feeling after the attacks by Muslim terrorists. That day US seemed about as unpredictable as the rest of the world. The contrast between the two cultures seemed to be less striking.

It is not, of course, for we still live in amazing peace and prosperity. Yet, the realization that safety is not guaranteed by our constitution has shaken all of us. Now we are anxiously start to look for answers to eternal questions.

This, in fact, may be the most fertile ground to witness about Christ. Americans are ready to listen to information about God during a crisis. Over the past few years our nation has changed in its attitude toward problems. We have moved away from taking sin, sickness, disease, disaster and accidents for granted. At one time we thanked God for good gifts. Blessings were seen as abnormal and pain was an everyday occurrence. Now we assume that all sicknesses and diseases will be healed, poverty erased and pain eliminated.

Historically, people knew that evil was real, sickness and death were constant companions and we hoped for heaven. That reality has changed. OSHA, community health groups and media imply that any accident, sickness and disease is an aberration. Media now that broadcast every anthrax death as though it were the bubonic plague. Now we take peace, prosperity, safety, health and long-life for the norm. Sickness, accidents or terrorist attacks are inconsistent with the world as we want it. A 99% record of success is seen as failure.


Only in America would we put a company like Firestone out of business for failing once in 20 million products. We believe in a perfect world created by OSHA and spoiled by greed rather than one created by God and spoiled by the fall and sin. I am happy that OSHA and other government groups exist but I did not expect them to usher in the new millennium. I do not look for lions to rest with lambs any time soon. The terrorist attacks woke us to the fact that evil exists; now we are trying to understand how it affects us.

I am no scholar 911 memorial that he could not find an explanation for evil. For over 30 years I have been thinking about evil and sin as they apply to psychopathology and psychotherapy. I am a pastor/therapist interested in God’s gifts of healing. I have to deal with the reality of evil in the lives of people every day. Widows, mothers of fatherless children, parents of psychotic kids and abused wives seek me out in a constant stream of pain that will not allow me to deny the reality of evil. I have good friends whose cancer brought despair and death. Some were spiritual giants while others laughed at God yet both groups were sick unto death. How do we explain that?

The issue before us is a challenge, but perhaps we can look at it with wisdom and some beginning understanding. We might call it, with apologies to Tina Turner, “What’s Sin Got To Do With It?” Several years ago, a book by Dr. Menninger named, What Ever Happened to Sin? hit the market. In it he addressed the confusion between sin and psychopathology. I will address similar issues but broaden the discussion to include fallen nature in general.

As a pre-test to this topic, let me ask some questions. Which of the following statements makes the most sense to you? The reason we were attacked @ 911 is

1. Our nation’s sin. We deserved it. “God would have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if He did not judge America in this way.”
2. The attackers are evil people, rotten to the core. They were just living out their sinful natures and violent religion.
3. The terrorists were gaining honor for Islam and its people. We need to understand how they feel about the Crusades and their fall from world influence and leadership.
4. They chose to do wrong.
5. All of the above in some combination.
6. There is no real evil. All good and bad are in the head.
7. I do not know. Only God knows for sure.
8. It is a combination of all these things

The answer to such a question tells us something about the way or ways we see sin, sins, evil and “why bad things happen to good people.”

Are Muslims simply worse sinners than folks from a Christian background? Is evil only happening among Muslims and atheists? Is evil real?

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