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From the Summer 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Terrorism through the Eyes of Faith

by Dennis Hollinger,  Ph.D.
President, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Editor’s Note: This article, originally published in the Winter 2001 issue of Knowing & Doing, was written in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. In the article, Dennis Hollinger addressed how we should understand and respond to the new threat of terrorism through the eyes of faith. Now, nearly 15 years later, we continue to live under a threat of terrorism in the United States and abroad. We decided to republish this article, slightly edited, because, while the context may be slightly different today, Hollinger’s article provides excellent guidance in understanding, from a Christian perspective, the ongoing problem of terrorism.

he events of September 11, 2001, have produced a broad array of conflicting emotions within all of us. We have struggled to know how to think, feel, and respond to the attacks. Of course as followers of Christ, it should not have come as a total surprise, for we know the world is not the way it’s supposed to be. The words of C.S. Lewis at the outbreak of World War II are applicable to our own situation: “War [attack] creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice… We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal.”1
  But, despite a worldview that predisposes us to understand such evil, we are still left reeling within ourselves. As we think about our responses to the new threat of terrorism, it is helpful to recall that our emotions and cognitive processes are ultimately good gifts of God to help us navigate our way in the face of danger, evil and uncertainty within the world. But of course there’s a problem. We are fallen creatures, and thus our emotions and cognitive responses aren’t as God intended. While they are still fundamentally good gifts of God, they are twisted, distorted, and miss the mark of their original intention. As those redeemed by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we need to allow our emotions and thinking to be transformed. Thus terrorism through the eyes of faith needs a clear understanding of our natural emotions and thinking, in contrast to the redeemed perspective.

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