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Winning the war on terror

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Gold Star Mothers hug on the five-year anniversary of the death of Justin Davis at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, June 25, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing).

Nearly ten years after 9/11, the worst act of terrorism in American history continues to victimize our nation.  Researchers now say that male firefighters who were exposed to toxic dust and smoke from the World Trade Center attacks have a 19 percent higher risk of getting cancer.  Prior studies have also shown increased rates of post traumatic stress disorder, asthma, and respiratory illnesses among rescue workers.

How do we win the longest war America has ever fought?  Sun Tzu taught, “If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”  What do we need to know about radical Muslims, and about ourselves?

First, this is an enemy unlike any we have ever fought.  Jihadists are at work in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, and across Europe.  Their numbers and influence grows daily.  However, they do not follow a single Hitler we can kill or defend a Berlin we can capture.  There is no one with whom we can negotiate a treaty of peace.  Many historians are beginning to call our conflict with radical Islam “the long war.”

Second, they seek a goal unlike any we have ever defended.  Hitler sought to control Europe, while Japan tried to dominate Southeast Asia.  By contrast, radical Muslims seek nothing less than the imposition of fundamentalist Islam on the entire world.

Their theological inspiration, Sayyid Qutb, claimed that every person on earth deserves the opportunity to convert to Islam.  He argued that true Islam does not exist, however, unless shari’a (Muslim holy law) is the law of the land.  Only when a nation submits to shari’a can its people then choose whether or not to become Muslims.  Radical Muslims believe that imposing shari’a on every nation is therefore Islam’s solemn duty.  Jihadists are fighting for nothing less than global conquest.

Third, spiritual awakening is vital to defeating radical Islam.  In recent years I have spoken often of the “Fifth Great Awakening” sweeping the nations, as more people come to Christ every day than ever before in Christian history.  Where this awakening is in the ascent, Islam is in the decline.  Where this awakening has not yet come, Islam is in the ascent.  I am convinced that God wants to use the Arab Spring to bring this awakening to the Middle East, and that he seeks to redeem 9/11 and the Great Recession by leading our people to himself as our King.

Tomorrow we’ll continue exploring steps necessary to winning the war on terror.  For this Labor Day, as we pray for our soldiers and grieve with the victims of 9/11, let’s remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).  This war must be won on our knees.