ISIS, having seriously misread the effect of their last bloody theatrical, have taken nearly 100 Christian hostages from several Syrian villages.
Islamic State militants have abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group that tracks violence in Syria said on Tuesday.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.
Syrian Kurdish militia launched two offensives against the militants in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped by U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga.
This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where it last year committed atrocities against the minority religious Yazidi community.
Many Assyrian Christians have emigrated in the nearly four-year-long conflict in which more than 200,000 have people have been killed. Before the arrival of Kurds and Arab nomadic tribes at the end of the 19th century, Christians formed the majority in Syria’s Jazeera area, which includes Hasaka.
This is, of course, going to continue, because regardless of administration members declaring that we are not in a time of war, of course we are, and it is a sustained war; it is a world war; it is a spiritual war — one that the West is terribly ill-equipped to recognize or address with fluency, which is precisely why ISIS has advanced as far as it has, and will push further.
[The rhetoric] of jihad rides the language of faith.
It is with the language of faith that Islamic terrorism must be engaged and defeated, and therein lies the disconnect for the diplomatic West. Having reasoned itself out of faith, its incomplete arsenal is fit for battle, but not for victory. The West can speak only of borders, boundaries, markets, and measurement. Faith exists beyond boundaries and borders; it defies markets and measurement. The negotiables of the West are worldly and “the world” means nothing in the face of paradise. Islam, like all faith, is not of this world but of the world to come. Islam’s extremists, like all extremists, would like to speed their agenda along.
The West cannot bring itself to admit what these brave Muslim women writers acknowledge, that the Islamic State’s purpose is wholly eschatological:
After spending about 200 hours combined over the last few weeks, analyzing every word and symbol in the burning video of the Jordanian Air Force pilot and the execution video of the Coptic Christians, we can tell you that both videos reveal Islamic State strategists, propagandists and recruiters are very much grounded in a logical interpretation of the Quran, the hadith, or sayings and traditions of the prophet Muhammad, and fatwa, or religious rulings.
They are also hell-bent on one mission: Chasing the apocalypse, according to Islamic eschatology—the study of the end of the world.
Doing a verbal tap dance around Islamic theology and extremism, even calling it “whatever ideology,” Obama and his policy team have it completely wrong. We have to own the issue of extremist Islamic theology in order to defeat it and remove it from our world. We have to name it to tame it.
As good as that piece is — and I urge you to read the whole thing, because it’s very informative, particularly for Christians who are otherwise in the dark — it misses the bullseye by the space of that word: supernaturalism. By their actions, ISIS has actively, purposefully engaged supernatural forces beyond their own imaginings, or ours. The constant battles happening all around, behind the veil and outside of our awareness, are being invited into the open.
ISIS wants the engagement, and so they will have it; the capture of these Syrian Christians is all about tempting the supernatural forces behind Christianity (and the Judaism from which it springs) into battle with the forces behind Islam. The world-outrage at their beheading 21 Coptic Christians has apparently left them feeling triumphant. With 90 or so Christians now under their hands, they may — like ringmasters desperate to keep your attention — promise something “bigger”, a more spectacularly gruesome slaying meant to strike fear into the West.
Of course, they will lose; the more Christian martyrs create, the more their own fate shall be sealed. The Coptic Martyrs now reside in heaven, where they are already being implored by us to intercede for the world before the Throne of the Almighty, who sends forth his angels and empowers things seen and unseen, toward his purposes.
They will lose because they do not understand the people they are slaying, and this is also why they are misreading their own effect. They think they have horrified the world, but they have only frightened the worldly. In the meantime, they have drawn Christians nearer toward one-another, and narrowed the lines of separation. They have reminded some Christians that the life of faith is not about politics and headlines; it is about the eternity, which we seek.
If a jihadi rejoices because he thinks his “martyrdom” will deliver a rather passive-sounding paradise full of numerous virgins, the families of the Christian Martyrs rejoice because they know that from heaven their loved ones have become supernaturally empowered.
The more martyrs ISIS creates in heaven, the weaker it will become on earth. Because of things visible and invisible.
Can ISIS make a lot of noise? Yes. Can they cut a terrible swath of destruction as they continue? Yes. Can they spill a great deal of human blood? Yes, and they will.
But ultimately, ISIS will still lose, because evil always loses. They will lose because, as Osama bin Laden stated after 9/11, they “love death for the sake of Allah, but our enemies love life.”
Yes, we do, and we embrace it all, both here on earth, and in heaven, where we are eternal.
ISIS cannot defeat an enemy that cannot die. They will finally lose. And when they go to the death they love and serve, they will discover the reality of the nothing; the eternity of the empty, because the Creator is the All-in-All, the Light and the Life which draws all things to itself. To separate oneself from that is to cast oneself into the place where God is not.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race
the light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it.
– John 1:1-5
Rebecca Hamilton: If you get real with God, God will get real with you
Rebecca Lane Frech: What my Muslim friend wishes you knew
Ignorance: ISIS burns 8,000 rare books
Coptic Bishop: Christians must not give in to despair.
Tom Hoopes: ISIS will grow the church