I hate IS (the Islamic State): a true perversion of Islam, monotheism, and humanity. I hate everything for which IS stands: terror, rapine, and violence. I hate it with a holy hatred because God hates IS.
I love and pray for mercy toward the people who are part of IS because the eternal God loves each man and woman. The Lord Jesus commands we love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us and so I pray for the salvation of their souls. I must love these sinners however difficult, but I also must hate their sin.
I do not wish a single person’s death but IS must be destroyed and sadly there are men and women who have freely chosen to link themselves to this evil organization. They have committed crimes in their person for which payment must be made. In the light of eternity they need grace, but in the temporal realm they must receive justice. The church and churchmen can forgive and what we forgive on earth is forgiven in Heaven.
The secular/civil government need not condone or “forgive” their crimes against humanity because the government does not have that power. They must be brought to justice and this accounting almost surely will require military action by some government. We hope that every member of IS lays down their weapons before this happens, but if not, their blood is on their own heads because they freely chose to associate with IS.
Some good government will execute justice on IS and this will be good. Their souls God alone can judge. I pray for justice and mercy and these are the two prayers of the Christian who is a citizen of the Republic and a subject of Christendom. As a citizen, one will be called to judge IS and the members of IS. As a Christian, one calls IS members to repentance, offering the free grace of God for their sins. The Lord Jesus set the example when He asked from His own cross for forgiveness for his murderers.
The martyr is in the position to love, but the police or a just state has a different role. If a policeman or a just soldier were on the beach with the IS executioners, the job of the officer would be to save the prisoners using whatever force was necessary. Christians this side of Paradise live between the hope for grace and the need for justice.Lee Strobel illustrates this tension in his book The Case for Grace using the case of the “Killing Fields” murderer Comrade Duch. Comrade Duch ordered the torture and murder of many people under his “care” during the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge. After this bloody regime was overthrown, Duch confessed his sins and became a Christian believer. He has asked for forgiveness from the families of his victims. He was also sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
This is just. God has had mercy on Comrade Duch and if he is sincere, then I name him a brother in Christ. He must pay for his crimes and if he had been caught during warfare, his death would have been just. We must love our brother Duch while recognizing that he owes a temporal debt that he must pay. This is the role of the secular/civil authorities.
Christians who serve, and thank God Christians serve, in civil government often must act in ways that they could not if acting as a private person. Not for them is the ultimate privilege of keeping aloof from the messy practice of justice. Instead, they must bring justice to the City of Man while exemplifying the coming Kingdom that was, is, and is not yet fully manifest.
We love the sinner while we hate the sin and sinful institutions. As Americans, we pray for the destruction of IS. As Christians, we pray for the salvation of the misguided souls that are part of IS. Christendom long recognized the difference in the words of a Christian civil magistrate when a killer was finally brought to justice:
“[Full name of prisoner] you are sentenced to be taken hence to the prison in which you were last confined and from there to a place of execution where you will be hanged by the neck until dead and thereafter your body buried within the precincts of the prison and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul”.
Once justice has been done, the Christian citizen is finished. We bury the body and do not deface it. Even the prisoner must be treated with dignity which is why Christians reject torture, private vengeance, and do not rejoice in the death of the ungodly. I pray the day is coming when IS fighters find justice and that the Lord have mercy upon their souls.