Selections of an article by Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, followed by our contribution below relevant for Christians
“Wednesday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Canadian man, killed Nathan Cirillo, a soldier standing guard at the War Memorial in Ottawa. He then stormed Parliament, where he was shot to death. Zehaf-Bibeau is only one in a number of recent converts to Islam who have perpetrated extreme acts of violence. Another, of course, is Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, the British man who is alleged to be the executioner who has beheaded multiple ISIS hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.
Zehaf-Bibeau was Michael Joseph Hall before he converted. He reportedly had an extensive history of arrests for drug possession (marijuana and PCP), assault and robbery. Bary is a former rapper whose stage name was Jinn Matic and whose Egyptian-born father is on trial for alleged terrorist activity here in the United States…
Why would some Westerners be vulnerable to this slippery slope of belief turning into preoccupation, then paving the way for violent delusional thinking?
One reason could be that the mental health care system is shy about seeing new religious preoccupations as symptoms. Psychiatrists and psychologists don’t want to step on the toes of religious freedom… Another reason, of course, is that our mental health care system is in shambles, with most people having no real access to comprehensive psychiatric services unless they pay thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, or much more… Third, Westerners have been exposed to megadoses of reality-busting technology…
In other words, when people become like trees without deep root systems, a tornado will take lots of them along with it.
Fourth, Westerners are now increasingly in love with alcohol and drugs and sex and all manner of entertainment that distract them from their deeper and true purposes and contribute to them searching anywhere — even in dark and deadly movements — for an escape from the need to think, work and find their connections to themselves and to their fellow man…
The seeming ease with which radical Islam and ISIS are brainwashing some Westerners should be a wake-up call to us as to whether we have made our populations vulnerable by blowing them up narcissistically, emptying them out morally, making them anemic psychologically and suggesting to them that they can be avatars or black-hooded religious warriors or high on pot or free from any real demands at all.
For some of the millions and millions of Westerners now lost, they could — wrongly — think they have found something real in ISIS.”
We would like to add another factor—pertinent for Christians—to those Dr. Ablow has expounded above.
Westerners from a Muslim background who have become radicalized by ISIS seek martyrdom by killing “infidels” in their home countries after which they can then look forward to paradise. They know that the sinful lives they live in the West, encouraged by its immoral culture where all manner of sin and perversion are prevalent, would surely lead them to hell. Being enslaved to sin and completely unable to stop, their one and only salvation would be to die for Islam in the act of killing infidels. By doing so their sins would be forgiven and they would gain entrance to their paradise—where they would enjoy 72 virgins for all eternity. Thus Western Muslims are radicalized by the promise of the forgiveness of sins and a paradise where their every sexual fantasy can be realized.
Westerners from a non-Muslim background have no such issue. Agnostics and atheists have little to stop them from indulging in the lusts of their flesh as much as they want. They don’t believe in the existence of a holy God or in sin or in heaven or in hell. They live for the moment. “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Similarly, Westerners from a “Christian” background can afford to focus on the things of this life. Because we believe in Jesus Christ, our sins have been completely forgiven and we can look forward to going to heaven someday. If we do happen to sin—which we are told we certainly will—we merely confess our sin to God and He is faithful and just to forgive us. In the meantime we are taught what we must do in order to receive abundant blessings from Him so that we can enjoy our time on earth before we go to heaven. But there’s no hurry for us to go to heaven. Let’s just enjoy the ride as much as we can on the way there. Generally speaking, this is Christianity as taught in the United States.
We see that there’s no reason for a typical Christian to become “radicalized” for Jesus Christ. We’re saved by grace through faith, not by works. Unlike the radicalized Muslim, our salvation is “guaranteed.” So let’s just enjoy life as much as possible here in the land of the American Dream before we get to heaven.
So how did I personally get “radicalized” for the Lord Jesus Christ?
When I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the revelation and experience of his love for me was so profound that I lost all interest in the career as a professor or scientist for which I was being trained. Instead my consuming desire was to tell people about Jesus and what he had done for us on the cross. Years later the Lord brought to my attention the things He has prepared for those who love him: eternal reward in the next age—“what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” (2 Corinthians 2:9).
This inconceivable, unimaginable reward is above and beyond our salvation, and is based on our fruitful works done in obedience to his commands.
Scripture teaches us that this reward will in part consist of authority to reign with Christ in the next age.
2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him…
Revelation 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
If there is one thing that human beings strive after in this life to use and enjoy, it is POWER and all its trappings. It should be obvious why many people sacrifice and work so hard in order to win elections for political office. It is said that POWER—and not so much money or sex—corrupts us. Power will eventually bring us money (and sex if we want it). And absolute power corrupts us absolutely. We have seen that many in politics will do almost anything including lying to gain power, and then to hold on to it since it is so intoxicating. This is and was especially apparent during the mid-term elections of November 2014.
But the Lord will graciously give power and authority to his faithful and fruitful servants to rule on his behalf in his kingdom. In terms of heavenly reward, that is what we are looking forward to after finishing our earthly race and entering the Lord’s kingdom.
Luke 19:17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.‘
I would much rather have authority over ten cities in the next age than “72 virgins.” Besides, there is no marriage or sexual relations in heaven since we will be like the angels (Matthew 22:30). Radicalized Muslims who die in the act of killing infidels will—to put it very lightly—be extremely disappointed. Sadly, however, their desire to receive their “heavenly” reward puts ours to shame. Most Christians in America the land so blessed by God with unprecedented prosperity are more preoccupied with earthly reward and fulfillment, and can more easily resist being “radicalized” for the Lord Jesus Christ.
In view in the teaching of Islam which is radicalizing our fellow Westerners leading them to commit unspeakable savageries in the name of Allah, it is time for us to return to the Bible. In these last days let us put less emphasis on how to maximize God’s blessings in this life on earth, and more on maximizing the eternal reward we will each receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). It is late, and the days are evil. The time for pleasing the crowds and tickling people’s ears with promises of earthly blessings is coming to a close. Those of us who teach God’s people will be more strictly judged when our works are judged by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Instead let us seek to “radicalize” God’s people to love Him with all their hearts, to fear Him, to obey Him, and to serve Him fruitfully in this life—looking ahead to the indescribable glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.