Monday, September 7, 2009

Alone With A Jihadist by Aaron Taylor

Several years after 9/11, Aaron Taylor, an evangelical missionary, answered an ad asking for someone willing to be in a documentary that would display a conversation between an evangelical Christian and a Jihadist Muslim. He went to London, and spent two days debating Khalid, a fundamendalist Muslim full of hate and anger against the West. After the conversation, he realised that he did not have answers for all Khalid's points. In particular, Khalid asked why Jesus did not set parameters for setting up a government that codified permissable behaviors and set punishments for those who disobeyed. Khalid saw the Muslim religion as doing both of these things and providing a framework for a religious nation.

Aaron went home to consider what he should have said. He studied religious works but also read history, viewed documentaries and talked with opposed people around the world. At the end, he found that Khalid had changed him irrevocably. The results of his study made him realise that Jesus had no interest in secular matters, including governments, and his followers should not either. The logical extension of this was that Christians should take no part in wars, or any systems that do not reflect the tenets that Jesus believed in. Those included servantship rather than masterhood over others and loving all rather than creating divisions.

This quote demonstrates Taylor's thoughts:

I believe that for too long the word "evangelical" has been synonymous with hyper-nationalism. We've turned the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, into a tribal deity who fights for the U.S. flag. We've made God into our image and transformed Jesus into the defender of American values. Our pastors invoke the name of Christ to bless our troops as they head out for battle. We believe God is on our side because America's cause and God's cause are one. Those who oppose our nation's values are God's enemies; therefore, we have a right to destroy them.

This was an interesting book. The evolution of Taylor's thoughts from lockstep compliance with the normal religious right values to questioning if there is ever a place in Christianity for imposing one country's will on another is fascinating. This book is recommended for Christian readers, and for those interested in hearing more about the rationales often used to justify war and military invasions, and why those rationales might be wrong.


Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I hope you post to Amazon for this author. This review is exceptionally good.

The books sounds really compelling. At first glance, I thought it was the book adaptation for the movie "Five Fingers" which is about terrorism and abduction.

Books like this are a difficult sell to American audiences. I hope it sells well for the author.

Ty said...

Thank you, Sandie, for posting such an awesome review. I will be sure to let Aaron know.