What distressing symbolism. The gruesome scene of 89 young Europeans mercilessly gunned down in a Paris theatre by equally youthful radical Muslim assassins will forever be etched on our minds, for it provides an ominous image of our global future.
I am reminded of a recent book by a personal friend, the Anglican Evangelical Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, whose Pakistani family has roots in both Islam and Christianity. The title of his book is truly prophetic: Triple Jeopardy for the West: Aggressive Secularism, Radical Islamism and Multiculturalism (Bloomsbury, 2012). These three elements all came together with astounding clarity on that woeful night of November 13, 2015 in what now clearly represents a “triple jeopardy for the West.”
A trifecta of spiritual rebellion—secularism, radical Islam, and multiculturalism—combines various seductive forms of Oneism (what Paul calls the Lie in Romans 1:25) and draws people away from life-giving Truth. In none of them is there any hope, since the Twoist God who saves, and who is the personal source behind past Western Christian civilization, notably absent from contemporary discourse. The union of these three forces focuses attention, for one crucial moment, on our desperate state of human vulnerability. Where will it all end? Is there hope?
Secularism: Jihadists pose an enormous problem to contemporary Western civilization, which cannot find any serious answer to such heartless, gratuitous slaughter. While proposing to bomb ISIS installations in Syria, political leaders put hope in the long-term spread of Western values and propose “faith in humanity.” As German leader Angela Merkel said: “Our strongest response to terrorists is to carry on living our lives and our values as we have until now—self-confident and free, considerate and engaged.” But are these values merely the empty fumes of a worldview once highly influenced by past Judeo-Christian principles? Will a civilization, deliberately scrubbed clean of such principles by “liberal progressivism,” offer the same attraction? For fear of trespassing on the boundaries of civil rights, the name of God may not be mentioned. The Islamists, observing the West’s cultural degradation, call us “the great Satan.” Ironically, former West German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, who died this year at 96, doubtless got it right back in 1990 when he admitted that Islamic immigration into Europe “kept him awake at night in its refusal to integrate with Western society.”
Multiculturalism comes in many and often spiritual forms. The “modern” young people butchered in the Bataclan theatre were “harmlessly” listening to the “Eagles of Death Metal” band. You may ask: What’s in a name? The secular press does not, because this young audience was engaged in a perfect example of contemporary multicultural “freedom,” doubtless, naively seeking some kind of atheistic spiritual experience. Their worship turned out to be adoration of the devil himself. Fatefully and tragically, moments before the massacre, pictures show the audience making the hand sign used for devil worship, their index and little fingers raised in a horned salute, and singing Kiss the Devil:
Who’ll love the devil?
Who’ll sing his song?
…I will love the devil and his song
Radical Islam: What painful irony! Spiritually-ignorant young people, foolishly worshiping “the great Satan,” singing as they die; “I will love the Devil and his song,” butchered in cold blood by religiously-driven Islamist jihadists claiming to serve Allah destroying the “great Satan,” in actions of clearly Satanic inspiration. The whole scene evokes the complete inability of the West to come to terms with the reality of spiritual evil, and thus to come up with any effective and satisfying response.
We stand before a choice:
#1 The triple jeopardy of the Lie of Oneism, in its various forms:
• a spiritually bankrupt secular atheism:
• the idolatrous multicultural worship of “the god of this world”;
• the inhumanity of violent Islam;
#2 The “double” truth of Twoism, revealing God, the good Creator, separate from the creation He lovingly made.
Only this unique Trinitarian Creator God, source of personhood, of intelligent complexity, and of love, can make sense of the world around us and thus reveal secularism, in its practical atheism, to be deadly nonsense; multicultural spirituality to be finally occultic; Islam to be bathed in inevitable human cruelty. Only the God of Twoism makes sense of our haunting guilt and brings true salvation to the world by bearing our sin in the body of his Son by a definitive act of atoning love, the only hope for our world.
In this moment of cultural weakness and deep questioning, the Church must pray for revival and preach with boldness the Gospel message: God’s Son took the bullets for us all.