In a recent appearance on Sean Hannity the Duck Dynasty patriarch said that if he was in charge of the situation with ISIS his strategy would be to convert them or to kill them. Naturally, this has stirred up some controversy. However, those who embrace or reject what was said out of hand – whether out of a love of the Christian Celebrity or hatred of him – are oversimplifying the situation and giving license to handle the biblical text carelessly.
There are aspects of Robertson’s comments that are both right and wrong depending on the context in which they are viewed.
Robertson was asked what his strategy would be for dealing with ISIS if he were in charge.
Any individual who cares about the threat which ISIS poses is thinking about this right now.
These Islamic Militants marched into Iraq as soon as the US presence pulled out and they killed tens of thousands of Muslims who were not deemed worthy, including the slaughter of women and children. For them there were no civilians, only infidels to be converted or enslaved or raped or killed.
This is a jihadist movement within the larger Muslim community, which takes the passages in the Quran which call for the advance of Islam through violence very seriously. In Phil Robertson’s defense, those who are in charge (which is what Robertson was asked his opinion on) error greatly when they don’t take these jihadist militants seriously as well.
It is here that Robertson’s comments bear a degree of correctness.
Those who subscribe to a belief system that is both exclusive (meaning no one else is right aka not pluralistic) and spread through violence, must be converted from these beliefs or else they will have to be killed in battle. For people like this will only be stopped on a battlefield of some kind. In their thinking, the world is either theirs or it is in the process of becoming theirs through violence and violence is the necessary path to their goals.
Obviously, this is NOT all Muslims but it is the thinking of ISIS and it is the thinking of those who are sympathetic to it.
Never the less, Robertson’s comments still were wrong because they don’t faithfully communicate the entirety of the Christian ethos as revealed in the Biblical text. For while these Militants will not stop unless they are “Converted” from their beliefs about the violent spread of Islam, and while the Government has been given the responsibility to protect its People even through violence when necessary (Romans 13:1-4), the Bible NEVER juxtaposes Conversion and Death with regard to the work of Men.
Not since Israel has there been a Biblical Theocracy. In fact, in these Last Days, this Time of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25), we who are Followers of the Way of the Cross are to live in this world but accept that we will never be apart of it (Romans 12:2).
So Yes: the government needs to deal with ISIS, needs to stop playing games and underestimating their bloodthirst, needs to stop hiding behind the facade of multiculturalism. But there is no place in that scenario for the Government to proselytize ISIS… the US Government was not established for that.
Furthermore, there is no place for the Follower of the Way of the Cross to plant their flag as it were, in the false promise of violence to solve these spiritual conflicts (Ephesians 6:12). For while our Faith is also exclusive, it was never intended to be spread through violence, but rather by speaking the Truth in Love. As individual Disciples of Messiah Yeshua, we must engage evil as He did, with compassion and a cross.