“E-tolls” and “Ebola” are two words that dominate much of our news. For many, these are nasty words that stir a lot of emotion. For some the first E word brings forth anger, while the latter E word ushers in fear. These are two E words that most of us would love to have vanish from our vocabulary. But, at least for the immediate future, this does not seem to be on the horizon.
There is another story of prominence that should also be labelled with an E word. But for disturbing reasons it is not. I am speaking, of course, of the ISIS crisis in Iraq. What these terrorists are doing is evil. But it would seem that world leaders and media outlets are loathe to call it such. They avoid this E word.
A large army of thugs in both Syria and in Iraq, motivated by their understanding of Islam, are murdering and torturing those they deem their enemies. They are intent on the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in that part of the world. They want nothing less than world conquest. By the way, they will be disappointed. Read the Bible.
In reading the recent stories of the beheading of two journalists by members of ISIS, I have been sickened, sadden and angered. These murderers need to be brought to justice. U.S. vice president, Joe Biden, recently said that the United States, “will follow [ISIS] to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice, because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.” I found his response somewhat refreshing, though out of sync with most of the world’s politicians. For you see, the mention of hell implies moral wrong; it implies an ultimate standard of justice; it implies a very important E word; it requires the category of evil. And this is the very word that the world’s political leaders are keen to avoid. They seem to be as nervous about this E word as they are about Ebola.
I challenge you to put this to the test. Read the news reports over the past week or so and see if you can find any world leader describing the deeds of ISIS with the moral category of “evil.” You will search in vain. You will come across words such as “disgusting,” “terrible crime,” “brutal,” “inhumane,” “barbaric,” “empty vision” and “medieval savagery,” but not “evil”—with one exception. A statement out of the United Arab Emirates called the attacks “savage and evil.” Interesting.
The response of U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is typical. He said, “It makes you sick to your stomach, but it again reminds you of the brutality and barbarism that is afoot in some places in the world.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron referred to them as “barbaric killers.” No one, of course, would dispute such a description, but it does not go far enough. ISIS must be identified for what it is: evil. They commit evil deeds because of an evil ideology.
Why are the world’s leaders so averse to this E word? It’s simple: For most world leaders, the category of evil does not exist. They would deny that there is an absolute standard of right(eousness). Therefore, the concept of evil does not exist, because it cannot exist. Evil implies good. But who is going to define this? And that is the rub, as they say. After all, if all religions, including Islam, are equally valid, then evil must be dropped from our vocabulary. You see, the word “evil,” when inserted in the conversation, just opens too many cans—let alone a can of worms.
Evil implies an absolute standard. Evil therefore implies a god. And now you see the problem: Which one?
Barak Obama recently said that “no god approves of what ISIS is doing.” He could not be more mistaken. Plenty of gods do. The god of selfishness and materialism calls for the murder of the unborn as well as for the murder of those deemed to have a “less desirable existence.” Such gods are worshipped right under Obama’s nose every day in America.
Again, let’s face the (politically incorrect) facts: The god of radical Islam calls for the murder of “infidels,” defined as those who do not follow Allah. The false god of the so-called Christian Crusaders in the Middle Ages also called for the murder of infidels—that is, those who refused to the follow the Pope. It is clear that the politically correct rhetoric spewed by Obama and many others is useless. It is nonsense to anyone who is willing to think through the issues.
I have no doubt that these butchers representing ISIS will “reside in hell” if they do not repent and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But that is probably not what Joe Biden is saying. Rather he is most likely cherry-picking from the Bible to make an emotive and motivating statement. What Joe Biden and everyone else needs to understand is that to refuse to bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ is evil. ISIS is clearly an extreme version of such evil. But even the kindest of people, if they refuse to believe on Jesus Christ, will be treated on Judgement Day as evil.
The world cannot overcome evil merely by a social contract in which public opinion decides what is acceptable and what is “barbaric” behaviour. What it requires is to recognise that there is one God, and His name is Yahweh. He is one Lord manifest in the three Persons as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is only one way to be right with Him, and He has provided the way. The Father sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die as a sacrifice on the cross in the place of sinners. Jesus Christ did that. He rose from the dead, proving that He succeeded. And by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, sinners repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The result is their transformation from doing evil to doing good. For example, they don’t murder their neighbours but rather love them. They do not behead those with whom they disagree and neither do they torture to death those they do not see (that is, those in the womb). They call good what God calls good and they rightfully identity as evil what God reveals to be evil—including ISIS. In other words, those who are born again by the grace of God will love God and will love His law. They will hate evil and love the good (Amos 5:15).
Christian, do not shy away from using the E word. Use it and combat it with the most important E word: the Evangel; the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both of these E words are resisted in our world. But the only way to overcome the first is by the second.