When I hear of the death of my fellow believers at the hands of Muslim militants around the world, I mourn for them, their families, their loved ones. But I know they are safe in the hands of the powerful Savior, for whose name they have given their brief lives, and in whose presence they now rejoice.
I sat down at my gate at Sky Harbor Airport just now, waiting for my flight to Orlando. I had not even gotten my computer out when CNN reported on the Yemen mosque bombings. Now I will admit, I have not done enough reading on the theological specifics of the Houthi movement to fully understand why Sunni militants would desire to kill them. It evidently goes back to the Sunni/Shia split from so long ago. But my heart was immediately grieved at the huge number of human beings who entered into eternity without a mediator to stand in their stead. We must remember the vast majority of the victims of the barbaric forms of Islamic militancy are themselves Muslims! It is amazing to recognize the brutality that Islam shows to its own people when it comes to hold political and military power. This is why I do not fear a so-called “Islamic takeover,” for if history tells us anything, when Islam takes political and military predominance, it results inevitably in factionalism and internal strife, as we see…well, everywhere! Look at Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt—it is a universal reality. The only time stability is experienced is when a totalitarian, brutal regime enforces absolute obedience, such as you see in Saudi Arabia and its “religious police” and public floggings and beheadings. But in any case, we must recognize that the vast majority of victims of violence in the name of Islam in the world today are themselves self-professing Muslims.
And this is what reminds us that theology matters. As Christians, we know that coming before a holy and righteous God without a mediator is eternally deadly. And yet this is the very thing that Muhammad denied to his followers through his combined ignorance of, and rejection of, biblical teaching. The Muslim comes before a holy God without the kind of security and assurance that a Christian has. Our assurance is not, of course, found in ourselves, but in our mediator, in our substitute, in the One who has been charged with our salvation (John 6:37-39, Hebrews 7:24-25). But such a Mediator is not to be found in Islam. Oh, yes, some individual hadith speak of Muhammad interceding for his umma, and some seem to indicate that even the Muslim with the smallest amount of iman (faith) will eventually enter into paradise, but the corpus of hadith literature is surely inconsistent on this matter. Theologically speaking, Islam rejects the idea of original sin, the fundamentally corrupt nature of man, and the necessity of perfect obedience and righteousness. Hence the centrality of Jesus in Christian theology is replaced with, well, nothing in Islamic theology (though, in folks religion, Muhammad definitely takes some of the rules Christ has, though the more traditional and Salafi clerics would identify many of those practices as shirk). And any person who must stand before the thrice Holy Yahweh pleading his own inherent “goodness” will soon understand Isaiah’s words, “I am undone.”
So let us pray that the Prince of Peace will bring peace by subjecting the nations to Himself. Let us mourn as men and women, boys and girls enter into judgment without the powerful and perfect Mediator, Jesus the Lord and Messiah.