01/25/2016 12:08 EST | Updated 01/25/2017 05:12 EST

Embracing 'Radical' Christianity Can Defeat The Islamic State

Stefano Stefani via Getty Images
Jerusalem - Mosque Dome of the Rock and Cross Franciscan Dome, Islamic in front of Christianity.

As this article is being written, men and women are choosing to leave the modern comforts of Western civilization to join an apocalyptic death cult in the most war-torn region on Earth.

Their decision -- to exit the stability, prosperity and security afforded by the wealthiest nations to instead become a soldier in the genocidal army of the Islamic State -- betrays the unsettling truth of our present era: that secular, materialist, hyper-connected modern life offers no meaningful, coherent counter-narrative against the preachers of hate, destruction and messianic end-of-the-world fantasies.

Because if there were a counter-narrative that worked, it would have been employed by now.

Unfortunately, perhaps to the chagrin of the prevailing progressive, mainstream Western opinion, the only counter-ideology capable of ultimately defeating the evil of the Islamic State is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in a radically genuine application of Jesus' teachings.

One need only witness the American presidential primaries, the rising nationalist parties across Europe and the general xenophobia surrounding refugees to realize that fear of the "other" is on the march globally, lockstep with the unchecked evil espoused by the Islamic State.

Compounding the West's failure to grapple with this problem of evil, persecution and violence directed at all communities continues unabated. Random stabbing and ramming attacks continue across Israel; Sunni-Shia sectarian bombings in Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, Burkina Faso and Yemen; and Western-born ISIS terrorists are beheading journalists and aid workers alike.

Philosophically and practically, an ideology which both promotes total hatred of others and cherishes death -- such as that of the Islamic State -- can only be comprehensively countered by one which promotes total unconditional love, even of enemies, and which values life.

To defeat an ideology which trumpets as its maxim death itself, it is imperative to foremost promote individual-level reconciliation, that is, to make a personal decision to irrefutably change, as is capable inside every human heart and soul. This type of internal, personal healing is only truly offered through the salvation gospel message of Jesus Christ.

This is not a call for new a Crusade, or the deployment of Bible-thumping Marines, or merely wishful Evangelical thinking. Rather it is a call for the considered application of the words of Jesus Christ, who imparted on humanity this eternal, relevant order: "This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:17 NLT)

"The world body should be willing to try anything, even a solution which employs core spiritual ideas from a faith which finds itself peculiarly (and some say prophetically) targeted for annihilation by the Islamic State."

Love each other: on what other foundational, elemental basis can lasting peace find footing in the world today? Consider that despite nearly 70 years of attempts to "negotiate" a peace treaty in Israel and Palestine through traditional, secular, political diplomatic channels, the international community is absolutely no closer to finding peace there in 2016 than it was in May 1948 at the outbreak of war over Israel's independence.

Similarly, in Iraq and Syria, attempts to engage in any manner of shared intellectual dialogue with extremist Islamist fighters are utterly fruitless, driven as they are by visions of an end of the world battle in the Middle East.

In turn, endless killing has become the West's only effective policy tool.

Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke 6:27-28, "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you."

This verse, objectively radical given its relevance today, is particularly applicable in the context of terrorist violence, where strangers are willing to viciously stab, shoot and murder total strangers. One need only think back to the Paris attacks and ask: how can such hatred be justified? How has humanity sunk to such an extremely dim view of existence?

At John 15:12-13, Jesus counters this depravity once again, saying, "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Jesus implores us that the highest love is found in saving lives, rather than ending them. And if indeed there is a God above us all, Jesus reminds humanity in this verse that He, God, first loved us.

Consider the potential impact if the above verses were to be recognized, promoted and encouraged by the United Nations. For the sake of argument, imagine these messages were stripped of their biblical origin and promoted purely on the basis of their conceptual ideals.

If there were a better alternative -- politically, diplomatically, philosophically or intellectually -- would it not have been comprehensively tested, attempted and enforced by now? In the pursuit of global peace, the world body should be willing to try anything, even a solution which employs core spiritual ideas from a faith which finds itself peculiarly (and some say prophetically) targeted for annihilation by the Islamic State.

Generations of young men have grown up being taught nothing but extremist hatred and enmity, and now desperately need the redeeming messages of love, salvation and hope found in Christianity.

These equally radical messages are the most powerful forces on Earth, and must be shared widely if the West wants to win the fight against an enemy so hell bent on its defeat.

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