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Taking a page from al-Qaeda’s playbook

December 3, 2009

I was listening to talk radio a few days ago (don’t judge me), and started to get excited about the opportunities the Church might find in learning strategy from al-Qaeda.

The conversation started with Nidal Malik Hasan, and as it evolved into a discussion on the nature of a new age of terrorism, the “experts” mentioned this Time article. Some of the quotes that were read and tossed around are where I think we can learn from these people.

But the terrorist techniques of even a decade ago are already outmoded. “I used to argue it was only terrorism if it were part of some identifiable, organized conspiracy,” says Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. But Hoffman has changed his definition, he says, because “this new strategy of al-Qaeda is to empower and motivate individuals to commit acts of violence completely outside any terrorist chain of command.” …

Do you see what I see?

It shouldn’t need to be said that I’m not advocating terrorism or physical violence, but this is the internet so there you go. I’ll even say it again: I’m not talking about the terrorism or the violence. I’m looking at strategy.

Because the crazies that no one can even find got Hasan to turn on his fellow soldiers and, in the name of their god, kill his own people. Why can’t we use that for good?

What if there were a group of people who followed the God of love, mercy and redemption with as much passion and conviction as those who follow a god of terror? And what if that group of people was as willing to set aside the entrapments of the world and live differently? What if they preached a better way, a difficult but worthy way, and modeled it at the same time?

What if that group of people wasn’t afraid to shamelessly recruit people to their God and their lifestyle? What if the story and the faith of those people was so true inside of them that it inspired and invited others? What if they – like this new breed of terrorist – put it all out there, and empowered people to do something about it?

What if they post service ideas and prayer requests instead of bomb recipes? What if they taught and modeled forgiveness instead of airplane mechanics? What if they encouraged the curious and the new recruits to go and do likewise instead of come and hide in a building with a steeple?

What if our “new strategy” were “to empower and motivate individuals to commit acts of love completely outside any Christian chain of command”?

Could we do it? Is our story so compelling? Are our lifestyles so inspiring? Are our convictions so strong?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Taylor permalink
    December 4, 2009 10:19 am

    Okay, this turned out better than I thought it would, even with the snow flakes hindering my reading :). When I saw the title I thought it would be more focused on a forced agenda and radicalism, but these thoughts and ideas are really good. This is a great post.

    • Lex permalink
      December 4, 2009 11:18 am

      (I love the snow flakes!) Thanks, Michael. Do you think the body of Christ could do something like that? I’ve heard lots of arguments.

  2. Michael Taylor permalink
    December 4, 2009 9:37 pm

    @Lex, I think the 4 questions at the end of the post summarized it very well. If you looked at the American church as a whole at this moment in time, the answer to all 4 are unfortunately NO. Taking the ideas of this and using them in our every day lives, then yes, we could be the salt of the world Jesus talks about.

    • Lex permalink
      December 4, 2009 10:30 pm

      Dare to dream.

      Recent discussion on this have brought up points such as, it’s probably easier to manipulate someone’s victimhood (or perceived victimhood) and motivate him toward violence than to encourage someone in his blessing and encourage him to do good. I can kind of see that point, but at the same time just don’t want to believe that al-Qaeda has a more compelling “cause” than the Church. What do you think? Factor or excuse?

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