[This letter is reprinted with permission from the December 2015 Foi et Vie Reformees newsletter of Reformed Faith and Life, an organization which the RCUS supports through our Foreign Ministries guidelines. – Editor]
Clash of civilizations and dislocation of moral norms
As you will have heard, about a month ago France was hit by the bloodiest terrorist attack ever perpetrated on its soil, prompting the government to invoke a state of emergency, at the eve of the international COP21 conference on environmental issues and also a significant regional election. The clash of civilizations which so far too many liberal French intellectuals had refused to envision burst out in the face of a nation already traumatized by a similar aggression in January this past year, which also made international headlines. The nature of this clash of civilization needs to be properly assessed, though, difficult as it is due to emotions and the necessary compassion towards all the victims. Unlike what Jihadists and other Islamists pretend in their bloody warfare, the “Crusaders” which they target are not in the least Christians for the most part. They are mere neo-pagans worshipping their self-image, their consumerist and hedonistic drives, with a hint of humanitarian ideal to soothe their conscience. Fun – and just fun – is the ultimate motive in their lives deprived of the presence of a God and Saviour. When the terrorists started shooting, the unfortunate young adults attending the rock concert at the Bataclan in Paris (89 of them were shot dead) were raving as the Eagles of Death Metal started their song “I kiss the devil…” The religion of Goddess Fun (kissing the devil!) versus the religion of a merciless and alienating god without any redeeming power, without any message of Grace and salvation: this is the actual clash of “civilizations” we are currently facing. Already in the late sixties, Christian philosopher Jean Brun (1914-1994) spoke of the only alternative we would soon be left with: pourriture (rottenness) or dictature (dictatorship). Due to the loss of a truly God-given identity, the dislocation of moral norms at work in our society has created a vacuum where alienating forms of religions will inevitably take the lead and enter in a violent conflict with each other.
What kind of Crusade?
It would be naïve, though, to ignore or dismiss France and other secularized Western nations’ role as Crusaders, especially in North Africa, in the Near-East and Middle-East. Unfortunately it is not a peaceful crusade consisting of preaching Jesus-Christ and Jesus-Christ crucified for the sake of the redemption of mankind and the cosmos (precisely what Reformed Faith and Life is doing, through radio programmes and the social media). No, not that kind of crusade commanded by the Lord Himself. Theirs is a crusade of insane policies of regime changes whereby powerful Western countries still believe they simply have the right to depose other countries’ legitimate leaders, whether elected by the people or not – it does not really matter in a truly Biblical perspective. They impose in turn new regimes and leaders, supposedly more “democratic” (at any rate devoted to their own interests) than the previous ones. Should one really wonder that such manipulative actions start having a boomerang effect in our midst, after generating so much frustration among local populations? Do we, Christians, realize how many war scenes and havoc such as happened in the Bataclan, are taking place daily in many different places there, often with the active involvement (covert or not) of our respective governments acting as Doctor Frankenstein or the Apprentice Sorcerer? The fertile ground for violent action prepared and ploughed by the Holy Quran the last 1400 years is then only too prone to yield a harvest of suicide bombers conducting their “holy war” against the so-called “unfaithful”. They are only following the model of Muhammad and his successors in Arabia during the 7th century and later. Recruits can come from anywhere in the umma (the universal community of Muslim believers), and also strike anywhere, as we increasingly experience. Unfortunately the clash of civilizations, fueled on both sides, is becoming a chronically violent and deadly one.
Upholding our heavenly citizenship
Not that we, Christians, should be anyhow surprised, having heard our Lord warn us clearly about signs of the Close of the Age (Mark 13:7-8). Still, as a respectful citizen who is first upholding his heavenly citizenship, I have to ask myself seriously what my ethical duty is as a citizen now living in France. Being called to exercise a ministry of proclamation of the Gospel in a given political, social and cultural environment, I must reflect daily about the distortion or the absence of true norms in the society where I live. This means speaking about concrete evils, their causes and their effects in the messages posted on our website, during short radio programmes or in my interaction with people thirsting for some light. Above all, this means speaking with clarity about the godly rule of the Prince of peace, the King of kings who was sent on earth two thousand years ago as a new born baby in a very troubled world.
As we celebrate once again the greatest gift ever made to mankind by our heavenly Father, may we uphold our heavenly citizenship in words and deeds, grafted together in our Lord Jesus-Christ by the bond of the Holy Spirit.
Rev Eric Kayayan