Terrorism is essentially stupid. While I can understand the emotional desperation that leads a losing cause to consider radical action in hopes of destabilizing the government they oppose, it’s a losing game. Every terrorist group meets one three fates – they are destroyed, the disband, or they reform into a legitimate political group which renounces the tools of terrorism. There is no terrorist organization in history which has avoided that resolution. The most successful examples of terrorist groups today, are those which have become tools of governments and those which have co-opted governments. The basic premise of terrorism, deliberately targeting known innocents, makes such groups unpalatable as legitimate authority, regardless of how much power the group may hold at one time.
This is no grand revelation, of course. It’s simple common sense, but it reminds us that those who belong to such groups think in a way very different from the common consensus, those who would make use of such groups are fundamentally corrupt, and those who would excuse or ignore such groups are foolish to an extreme degree. For example, while the losses in those countries were due to a number of causes in total, the corruption of the South Vietnamese government worked against building popular support for it, corruption which made tolerance for the Viet Cong a genuine demographic condition. Shah Rezi Pahlavi made late efforts to reform Iran, but the behavior of the Savak helped build support for the insurrection of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Ironically, both Vietnam and Iran later suffered from the same sort of terroristic behavior. Vietnam has only been able to emerge as a functional nation, by repudiating the violence and terrorist behavior of its own revolutionary guard, while in Iran the government lacks support from many Iranians, precisely because it rules through fear rather than political consensus.
With that said, I now bring up the title of this article. As a Christian, one of the stranger images from Scripture which I have trying to sort out, is the Army of God discussed in the book of the Revelation to John. Basically, the Lord Christ saddles up in heaven with an army of angels and every one of His believers. This army then descends to the earth and removes Satan and his angels form all remaining power, and all Mankind is forthwith submitted into judgment. Strange, that image. Some folks have made a great deal of noise, by saying that this shows Christ as no more than another man-made idol, a god who would destroy all who do not surrender to him. But I think that is incorrect; there is something more to the image than such a mundane explanation. After all, the Army of God includes every single one of Christ’s disciples, apostles, followers, and believers. People like Mother Teresa and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, and John the Baptist. There were warriors in Christ’s service to be sure, but most are lambs in spirit and children at heart. More, this is how God wants us to be. Consider Simon Peter, once a zealot but who served Christ as a man of peace, an exemplar in love and humility. This transformation would not be meant to be undone for the sake of destroying evil. A different sort of weapon would necessarily exist for that mission.
When I became a sports official, I was impressed with how much authority is assigned to such people. Athletes hold themselves to a high standard of conduct for the most part, and they accept the jurisdiction of officials as a requirement of the contest. The ones who would try to break rules, to ignore the spirit of fair play and an even playing field, soon find themselves outcasts in the society of sport, with only few exceptions. Those who are malicious and foul fear the good. This is obvious even from the fact that the rule breakers try hard to present the image of compliance and support for the integrity of the game. The same thing happens in business. Most people I know work hard at their job, and try to be honest and follow the law. The ones who do not are the exception, and in the end will be found out and ostracized, in addition to the penalties of law and professional governance. Evil fears good, because there is an innate quality to goodness which cannot be portrayed convincingly for very long, and which quality is essential to the human condition.
In my next article, I will examine this quality in some greater depth.