The final gasps of the presidential election, an economic downturn, the attack on America, and the war on terrorism. 2001 gave thinking Christians plenty of challenges. On BreakPoint we’ve tried to look at these enormous issues through the lens of a Christian worldview.
A great deal can be said about the challenges of 2001, but today I want to focus on the challenges of the new year. Discerning the issues that we will face takes no crystal ball or special gift. They’re very clear, and wisdom dictates that we plan ahead.
In February or March the Senate will take up the human cloning ban that the House passed last fall. The cloning debate is, at its core, a question of what it means to be human. The notion that humans are begotten in the loving embrace of husband and wife is being challenged by the manufacture of human embryos in the laboratory. That which is begotten is cherished in spite of defects. That which is manufactured is . . . well, what do we do with a broken clock radio or worn out car? We toss them out without a thought.
Cloning and other bioethical issues place our very humanity at stake. And you’ll hear a lot more about bioethics on BreakPoint this year.
A second issue is the ongoing war on terrorism. I believe that Harvard professor Samuel Huntington was correct — that we are engaged in a clash of civilizations with the Muslim world. The utopianism inherent in Islam — or any system that believes human beings are perfectible through force or law — is at odds with the Western traditions of religious freedom, tolerance, and freedom of conscience inherited from Christianity.
As I’ve said repeatedly this fall, Christianity and Islam are not the same, and the terrorists didn’t hijack a “peaceful religion” — they took Islam seriously. As that truth becomes evident over the next year, the clash of civilizations will become sharper as well.
Which leads me to the worldview challenges inherent in the war itself. At the end of November, I was a part of a meeting of religious leaders with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to discuss the moral limits of war. I reported to you at the time that our military is doing its very best to conduct the war in Afghanistan according to the precepts laid down in the just war doctrine — a Christian doctrine that allows legitimate governments to fulfill their duty in wars to do justice and defend citizens while banning unnecessary cruelty and the slaughter of innocents.
I was very encouraged with what I heard that day and with what I continue to hear in the news.
But as the war on terrorism moves beyond the borders of Afghanistan — and it will — new and troublesome questions will arise, like the legitimacy of preemptive attacks, for example. Christians need to speak to these issues clearly. Christian worldview thinking about justice and civil liberties needs to guide us on the domestic front, as well, as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies act to root terrorists out among us.
These, of course, are not the only issues that will tax our thinking in the new year as we attempt to apply biblical truth to the challenges of our day. There will be additional issues we can’t imagine right now. But the important thing is for us to examine whatever transpires in the light of biblical revelation and sound doctrine. We’ll make one new year’s resolution: To do precisely that on BreakPoint.