Osama bin Laden, the world's most notorious terrorist, has handed Muslims everywhere their worst public-relations nightmare: September 11 as a picture, an embodiment, of Islam. Muslims now have to define themselves in relation to the day of infamy.

Abdulaziz Sachedina, a Muslim scholar at the University of Virginia, says he does not remember ever praying so earnestly that God would spare Muslims the blame for "such madness that was unleashed upon New York and Washington . …I felt the pain and, perhaps for the first time in my entire life, I felt embarrassed at the thought that it could very well be my fellow Muslims who had committed this horrendous act of terrorism. How could these terrorists invoke God's mercifulness and compassion when they had, through their evil act, put to shame the entire history of this great religion and its culture of toleration?"

Every judgment about Islam, all reaction to Muslim doctrine, and each Muslim-Christian encounter are now cast in light of the events of that dreadful day.

Islam as a Path of Peace

There are three distinct interpretations of the events of September 11. The first view is that the terrorist acts do not represent Islam. President George W. Bush best expressed this notion when he said that "Islam is a religion of peace." One of the leading Muslims to echo this is Yusuf Islam (the former rock musician Cat Stevens, who now helps promote Muslim education in England). "Today, I am aghast at the horror of recent events and feel it a duty to speak out," he said in a London newspaper. "Not only did terrorists hijack planes and destroy life; they also hijacked the beautiful religion of Islam."

During an interfaith ceremony at Yankee Stadium on September 23, Imam Izak-El M. Pasha pleaded, "Do not allow the ignorance of people to have you attack your good neighbors. We are Muslims, but we are Americans. We Muslims, Americans, stand today with a heavy weight on our shoulders that those who would dare do such dastardly acts claim our faith. They are no believers in God at all."

Major Muslim organizations throughout North America, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Muslim Students Association, denounced the work of the terrorists. The powerful American Muslim Council issued a press release on September 11, saying it "strongly condemns this morning's plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and expresses deep sorrow for Americans that were injured and killed. amc sends out its condolences to all the families of the victims of this cowardly terrorist attack."

Article continues below

With the exception of Iraq, Muslim nations distanced themselves from the attack on America. "Iran has vehemently condemned the suicidal terrorist attacks in the United States," Iran Today reported in a front-page story on September 24, "and has expressed its deep sorrow and sympathy with the American nation." The governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen expressed similar sentiments.

Leading intellectuals, who have argued that terrorist acts represent only fringe Muslims, have also promoted the view that Islam is a religion of peace. Edward Said, the controversial Columbia University professor, argued in The Nation that September 11 is an act of cultic religion. Comparing Islamists to the Branch Davidians and the Rev. Jim Jones, he said September 11 is a model of "the carefully planned and horrendous, pathologically motivated suicide attack and mass slaughter by a small group of deranged militants . …the capture of big ideas by a tiny band of crazed fanatics for criminal purposes."

Mark Juergensmeyer, professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and a specialist on religious violence, put it similarly: "Osama bin Laden is to Islam [what] Timothy McVeigh is to Christianity."

The Darker Side

After initial emphasis on Islam as a religion of peace, a second interpretation came to the fore. Editorials started to emerge that were less optimistic about Islam per se and far more alarmed about the scope and depth of militant Islam. Novelist Salman Rushdie, on whom the late Ayatollah Khomeini once issued a death order, wrote in The New York Times:

If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side? . …[Islamists have] a loathing of modern society in general, riddled as it is with music, godlessness, and sex; and a more particularized loathing (and fear) of the prospect that their own immediate surroundings could be taken over—"Westoxicated"—by the liberal Western-style way of life.
Poverty is their great helper, and the fruit of their efforts is paranoia. This paranoid Islam, which blames outsiders, "infidels," for all the ills of Muslim societies, and whose proposed remedy is the closing of those societies to the rival project of modernity, is presently the fastest growing version of Islam in the world.
Article continues below

Others have been naming Islam's dark side as well, without suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists. Thomas Friedman, author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, has taunted Osama bin Laden in his New York Times columns, while also warning of the terrorist's popularity in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other Muslim nations.

British journalist Julie Burchill wrote a scathing article in The Guardian against the "sustained effort on the part of the British media to present Islam—even after the Rushdie affair and now during the Taliban's reign of terror—as something essentially 'joyous' and 'vibrant,' sort of like Afro-Caribbean culture, only with fasting and fatwas."

Melanie Phillips, writing in The Times of London, raises the possibility of treason among British Muslims. "As if the progress of the Afghan war wasn't enough to worry about, a nightmare specter is emerging at home. The attitude of many British Muslims should cause the greatest possible alarm that we have a fifth column in our midst . …Thousands of alienated young Muslims, most of them born and bred here but who regard themselves as an army within, are waiting for an opportunity to help to destroy the society that sustains them. We now stare into the abyss, aghast."

In the weeks after the World Trade Center crumbled, there was no proof of an Islamic world totally united against terrorism. Rick Bragg reported in The New York Times about Muslim boys running through their school compounds in Pakistan on September 11. They were "celebrating, stabbing the fingers on one hand into the palm of the other, to simulate a plane stabbing into a building." Palestinian authorities went into overdrive to suppress images of youths celebrating the deaths in America.

September 11 as Islam

There is, finally, the view that September 11 represents authentic Islam, a notion adopted by Osama bin Laden and his many followers. His revolutionary zeal lacks no clarity. "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it," he said in February 1998. Muslim extremists from Bangladesh, Egypt, and Pakistan also signed this fatwa, titled "Urging Jihad Against Americans." Bin Laden told ABC News producer Rahimullah Yousafsai last winter that he would kill his own children, if it were necessary, to hit American targets.

Article continues below

Ironically, some Christian writers have also advanced the view that September 11 represents true Islam. Of these, the most influential is Robert A. Morey, the popular evangelical cult-watcher, who in recent years has targeted Islam as a deadly religion. Author of The Islamic Invasion, Morey has often debated leading Muslim apologists, in fiery exchanges that have led to mob attacks on him and repeated calls for his death. Morey has accused Muhammad of being a racist, a murderer, an irrational zealot, and a pedophile. After September 11, Morey announced a spiritual crusade against Islam, and invited Christians to sign this pledge:

In response to the Muslim Holy War now being waged against us, We, the undersigned, following the example of the Christian Church since the 7th century, do commit ourselves, our wealth, and our families to join in a Holy Crusade to fight against Islam and its false god, false prophet, and false book. We, the undersigned, believe that Islam is the root of all Muslim terrorism, which is the fruit of Islam.

Christian scholars have criticized Morey for his invective, but he remains unmoved. He has argued that Muslims will start World War III. On his Web site, Morey invites Christians to fill in a "certificate of valor" that reads, "I wish to join in the Crusade of Christ against Islam. To that end, and to demonstrate in the crusade against Islam, I hereby donate toward emergency wartime funds."

The Rise of the Militants

Sorting through these three interpretations demands analysis of some deeper issues. First, we must come to grips with the vast unrest in the Islamic world, both now and over the last two centuries. There has been a growing radicalization in Islam since the early 1800s, both in response to the spread of Western colonialism and the demise of Muslim political supremacy.

Osama bin Laden traces his radicalism to the Wahhabism of his native Saudi Arabia, a movement that began with the reformer Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab (1703-87), an advocate of a puritanical reading of Islamic law and belief. The Wahhabis threatened the interests of the Ottoman Turks and, in concert with the Saud dynasty, eventually gained control of Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest cities.

A fundamentalist thrust in Islam emerged in Egypt as well, with the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood (also known as Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) in 1927. Tormented first by the presence of British rule and then by a tepid Muslim government, brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, his chief intellectual heir, sought by any means, including violence, to restore true Islamic rule to Egypt.

Article continues below

The brotherhood started branches in Jordan and Syria, and militant groups in India, Iran, and Iraq imitated its radicalism. Muhammad Nawab-Safavi started his Fedayeen-e-Islami movement in Iran in the 1930s and told his followers: "Throw away your beads and get a gun: for beads keep you silent whilst guns silence the enemies of Islam." Abul A'la Maududi organized his militant Jamaat-e-Islami in the Punjab in 1941. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Maududi tried repeatedly to convince the government to adopt his stricter version of Islamic rule.

Western awareness of militant Islam came with the radical overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and the establishment of harsh Shari'ah law under the Ayatollah Khomeini. American exposure to Islamic fundamentalism came with the arrest of Americans in Tehran, the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the explosions at U.S. embassies in Africa, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and then the horrors of September 11.

Interpreting Jihad

Every discussion of Islamic militancy turns eventually to two fundamental concerns. First, how much is Islamism (that practiced by fundamentalist Muslims open to violence) rooted in the teaching and practice of the prophet Muhammad? Would he celebrate the work of Osama bin Laden? Second, are the violent jihads of our day sanctioned by the Qur'an and by the actions of early Muslim leaders?

The prophet himself engaged in many military battles and could be merciless to his enemies, even those who simply attacked him verbally. His original sympathies with Jews and Christians as "Peoples of the Book" gave way to a harsher treatment when they did not follow Islam. In one infamous episode, Muhammad cut the heads off hundreds of Jewish males of the Beni Quraiza tribe who did not side with him in battle. The prophet is quoted as saying, "The sword is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven, and at the day of judgment his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim."

In reference to the Qur'an, many have drawn attention to the famous passage in Surah 2:256: "Let there be no compulsion in religion." This verse fits well with other Qur'an verses in which jihad means personal and communal spiritual struggle or striving. But the Qur'an also uses jihad to mean "holy war," and the language can be extreme. Surah 5:33 reads, "The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter."

Article continues below

Both the example of the prophet and some emphases in the Qur'an provided warrant for Islam's earliest leaders to spread Islam by military conquest. Bloody expansionism was also justified through original Islamic law that divided the world into two realms: Dar al-Harb (the land of war) and Dar al-Islam (land under Islamic rule). Both Paul Fregosi's Jihad in the West and Jewish scholar Bat Ye'or's Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam document the reality of Muslim crusades long before the notorious Christian crusades of the Middle Ages.

Out of the vortex of these realities emerge two different perspectives among modern Muslims. Islamists consider their actions a true jihad or "holy war" against infidels and the enemies of Islam. They believe it is right to target America, "the great Satan." Osama bin Laden believes that the Qur'an supports his campaign, that the prophet would bless his cause, and that Allah is on his side. But the vast majority of Muslims believe that nothing in Muhammad's life or in the Qur'an or Islamic law justifies terrorism.

Bernard Lewis, the great historian of Islam, noted in The Wall Street Journal that throughout history, Muslims have given jihad both spiritual and military meaning. Lewis also pays particular attention to the legal traditions in Islam about what constitutes just war. After noting the many limitations placed on military jihad, he writes, "What the classical jurists of Islam never remotely considered is the kind of unprovoked, unannounced mass slaughter of uninvolved civil populations that we saw in New York. For this there is no precedent and no authority in Islam."

"The Clash of Civilizations," Samuel Huntington's essay for Foreign Affairs (Summer 1993), has attracted considerable attention in recent months. Writing just after the Gulf War, Huntington analyzed the competing ideologies of our time and drew particular attention to the clash between Islam and the West. His concern has obvious merit, although critics have made a crucial point that Islam is no monolith. There are clashes within Islamic civilization itself.

Article continues below

What may emerge as the most significant factor in the current shape of our world, then, is not the clash between Islam and the West. It is, instead, the clash between Muslims as they try to define their faith for the 21st century. Islam clearly does not speak with one voice. It shows nearly as much diversity as does Christianity (see "A Many Splintered Thing"). The debate within Islam will be protracted, regardless of how long military campaigns continue against any Islamist movement.

Troubles in Palestine

The Palestinian question has also fueled the growth of Islamic militancy. Tensions in Palestine between Muslims and Jews date back to the first wave of Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s. The British government's 1917 Balfour Declaration heightened Arab unrest, as did the United Nations' support for a Jewish state 30 years later, leading to the formation of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Five wars between Arabs and Jews since Israel's formation create the context for modern Muslim-Jewish hostilities. These tensions increased with the rise of the first Intifadah ("uprising") in 1987, and a second Intifadah in 2000, following the breakdown of talks at Camp David between Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Islamic militant groups like Hamas and Hizbollah call for an armed jihad against Israel. Many Palestinian Muslims celebrate the attack on America but also claim it was really the work of the CIA and Israel's Mossad.

In the mix of all this turmoil is the seemingly endless cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine. Here are just five examples of terrorist acts against Israelis in the year before September 11:

August 12—A suicide bombing at a café in Kiryat Motzkin wounded 21.

August 9—A bombing at a pizza place in Jerusalem killed 15, including 6 children, and injured 80.

June 1—A Palestinian suicide bomber associated with Hamas detonated an explosive belt that injured 120 and killed 20 at a nightclub in Tel Aviv.

May 9—Two 14-year-old Jewish boys were stoned to death at a cave near their small town of Tekoa, in the West Bank.

February 14—A Palestinian bus driver plowed into a crowd near Tel-Aviv, killing 8.

On the other hand, writers as diverse as Noam Chomsky, Hans Küng, Michael Lerner, Edward Said, and David Grossman (author of The Yellow Wind) argue for recognizing injustices done against Palestinians by Israel. They also argue for stronger American complaints against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. In the last 15 years, the case for a Palestinian state has grown more popular among moderate Jews and many analysts sympathetic to Israel.

Article continues below

"With or without Islamic fundamentalism, with or without Arab terrorism, there is no justification whatsoever for the lasting occupation and suppression of the Palestinian people by Israel," Amos Oz wrote in a New York Times editorial. "We have no right to deny Palestinians their natural right to self-determination . …Two huge oceans could not shelter America from terrorism; the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel has not made Israel secure—on the contrary, it makes our self-defense much harder and more complicated. The sooner this occupation ends, the better it will be for Palestinians and Israelis alike."

Human Rights Record

Beyond the issue of Palestine lies another concern. Is Islam fundamentally opposed to human rights by its inherently theocratic thrust? Why do Muslim countries have such deplorable records on human rights? Data made available by Freedom House, an organization that monitors political and civil rights in every country of the world, supports this assertion. Of the 41 countries whose population is at least 70 percent Muslim, 26 are considered not free, and 13 are partly free. Only two are free—meaning they protect political and civil rights as defined by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

We can express the abuse of human rights in Muslim countries in other ways. Why is it that the government of Saudi Arabia welcomed Allied Forces to free Kuwait but forbids entry of non-Muslims to its country? Western governments allow Muslims to talk freely about their faith. Why can't Christians do the same in many Muslim countries? Muslims rightfully express concern about the denial of liberties to Palestinians. But are the rights of Jews protected in Indonesia? Are Hindus free in Pakistan?

Human beings are being traded as slaves in Sudan, a fact documented in Paul Marshall's Their Blood Cries Out. Has the government in Khartoum been flooded with protests from every corner of the Muslim world? Likewise, no one can deny the lack of women's rights under Islam, regardless of Muslim apologists' passion to the contrary. The widespread practice of female genital mutilation in Muslim countries alone signals the reality of women's oppression. Women are forbidden even to drive a car in Saudi Arabia.

Article continues below

Until they were freed suddenly in mid-November, eight expatriate Christians were on trial in Afghanistan on charges of Christian evangelism. Followers of Jesus in many Muslim countries can be put to death for sharing what they believe. It would be wonderful to know that the Muslim leaders who joined President Bush in public to express solidarity against Osama bin Laden were already on record as condemning the persecution of these Christians in Afghanistan. If not, why not?

In 1999 I had lunch with an American whose identity I must conceal lest I place his life in renewed danger. Over our meal, he told me of a simple but life-altering fact. A few years earlier, he realized that he no longer believed in Islam, and he abandoned his faith. As a result, he received death threats—not in Sudan, or Libya, or Iraq, but in the United States. Are American Muslim leaders disturbed that members of their communities threaten former Muslims with death? Do American Muslims long for adoption of Shari'ah law, which would mandate that Muslims who abandon their faith be put to death?

Rethinking Islam

Though many Muslims have tried to blame America and Israel for all the ills of the Muslim world, a rising number of Muslim intellectuals are calling for a new and radical self-criticism within Islam. This point has been articulated best by Kanan Makiya, author of Republic of Fear (on Saddam Hussein's Iraq) and Cruelty and Silence (a powerful protest against the timidity of Arab intellectuals to address the dark side of the militant Islamic Middle East).

Makiya writes in a London Observer article, "Fighting Islam's Ku Klux Klan":

Arabs and Muslims need today to face up to the fact that their resentment at America has long since become unmoored from any rational underpinnings it might once have had; like the anti-Semitism of the interwar years, it is today steeped in deeply embedded conspiratorial patterns of thought rooted in profound ignorance of how a society and a polity like the United States, much less Israel, functions.

His article ends with these words:

Muslims and Arabs have to be on the front lines of a new kind of war, one that is worth waging for their own salvation and in their own souls. And that, as good out-of-fashion Muslim scholars will tell you, is the true meaning of jihad, a meaning that has been hijacked by terrorists and suicide bombers and all those who applaud or find excuses for them. To exorcise what they have done in our name is the civilizational challenge of the twenty-first century for every Arab and Muslim in the world today.
Article continues below

The events of September 11 have led some non-Muslims to reconsider their rhetoric against the United States and Israel. Of most significance, here is the Australian activist, Helen Darville, author of The Hand that Signed the Paper. She writes:

I have watched, since that day, the cozy leftist pieties of my youth disintegrate. Those pieties will be familiar to many of you. Chief among them is the old saw that to understand horrors, one must be willing to contextualize them. And if that mitigates them, so be it.
The images of Palestinians cheering as planes carved into skyscrapers made me sick at heart. One fat woman in ugly specs will stay with me for a long time. Don't go there, I chanted under my breath as she ululated with joy. Don't go there. That's where the Nazis went, and that way lies madness. There are accounts beyond number of Eastern European peasants cheering German executioners on, trying to pry the carbines from their hands: let me shoot them, Herr Soldat.

A lot of these peasants were raised in the church. Christian anti-Semitism has a long and terrible history, as does Christian aggression against Islam during the Crusades and against fellow Christians during the Wars of Religion. But after each outpouring of violence, the church has been forced to ask itself: Is this what Christianity is about? Is this what Christ came for? Is this how we want to live in his name?

In time the answers came, and except for small, radical fringes, Christianity as a whole has repudiated war, coercion, and hate as ways to further the Christian message.

Islam stands at such a crossroads since September 11. The tensions it has been facing for centuries have risen to the surface. Is Islam a religion of peace? Does it believe in human rights? Can it find a way to be a part of the human community without violently insisting on its own way?

We hear so many differing accounts of Islam today precisely because Muslims are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of Islam. We would be wise as Christians, humbled by our own past, to remember that as we seek to understand and engage Muslims today out of love for Christ.

James A. Beverley is professor of theology and ethics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto. He is author of Understanding Islam, written since September 11 and published by Thomas Nelson in November. Information about the book is available at his Web site (www.religionwatch.ca).

Article continues below

Article continues below

Related Elsewhere

A ready-to-download Bible Study on this article is available at ChristianBibleStudies.com. These unique Bible studies use articles from current issues of Christianity Today to prompt thought-provoking discussions in adult Sunday school classes or small groups.

Also appearing on today's site:

A Many Splintered ThingThough Muslims shared allegiance to Muhammad and to the Qur'an, Islam faced division as soon as the prophet died.

James A. Beverley's Christ & Islam: Understanding the Faith of the Muslims is available at Christianbook.com.

In the 1998 article, "Is Islam the enemy?," Sojourners magazine said that the navigation of the road ahead for Christians and Muslims would have profound consequences for both communities—and for the world.

In remarks at the Islamic Center of Washington D.C., President George Bush said that, "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith."

On September 20, Bush spoke to a joint session of Congress. In his speech, he said: "The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends."

Christian sites discussing Muslim beliefs about Jesus and Christianity are available at The Muslim-Christian Debate, Answering Islam, Campus Crusade for Christ, and FarsiNet.

Muslim perspectives on Jesus and Christianity are also ubiquitous online. They include Al-Sunnah, Harakah, Islam 101, Answering Christianity, and WhatIsIslam.com

Islamic and scholar's sites of interest include:

In 2000, Christianity Today focused on Muslim-Christian relations in a series by Wendy Murray Zoba. Articles included:

Islam, U.S.A.Are Christians prepared for Muslims in the mainstream?
Islamic FundamentalsChristians have a responsibility to understand our Muslim neighbors and their beliefs
How Muslims See ChristianityMany Muslims don't understand Christianity—especially the idea of salvation by grace through faith.

In the October issue of Christianity Today, managing editor Mark Galli wrote on the Christian response to religious terrorism.

Article continues below

In a recent column for Christianity Today, Philip Yancey reprinted a letter from a Muslim. Written shortly after the September 11 attacks, the letter read: "I read some books about the prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith by Western scholars. I was shocked to learn a lot of things about my religion that I never knew."

In early October, Books & Culture Corner's John Wilson reported that "until a month ago, learning more about Islam was a low priority for all too many Americans. Since the attack, that has changed." In November, Wilson said "There's good reason to believe that there will be staying power to the West's belated 'discovery' of Islam."

Robert Morey's Islamic Invasion is available at his official Web site.

Related mainstream articles on Islam and peace include:

My view of Islam (by Franklin Graham) — The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 4, 2001)
Yes, this is about Islam (by Salman Rushdie) — The New York Times (Nov. 2, 2001)
There is no relationship between Islam and terrorism — ArabicNews.com (Oct. 30, 2001)
Fighting Islam's Ku Klux KlanThe Observer, London (Oct.7, 2001)
'The origin of Islam is peace'Time Europe (Oct. 5, 2001)
'It is not the Islamic way': Muslims denounce terrorist actsThe Washington Post (Sept. 20, 2001)
The struggle for the soul of Muslim youthChristian Science Monitor (Sept. 20, 2001)
Islam: An introduction — Religion News Service (Sept. 19, 2001)
Bin Laden's radical form of IslamThe Washington Post (Sept. 18, 2001)
An Islam much forgottenThe New York Times (Aug. 10, 2001)
Peace is essence of IslamDawn (Aug. 4, 2001)

Previous Christianity Today articles by James A. Beverley include:

Buddhism's GuruThe Dalai Lama, a spiritual hero to millions, works to liberate Tibet, calls on spirits, and believes Jesus lived previous lives. (June 8, 2001)
Basic BuddhismWhat the Dalai Lama and his followers believe about God, Buddha, and other teachings. (June 8, 2001)
Weighed Down by Karmic DebtAspects of Tibetan spirituality should give Christians pause. (June 8, 2001)
Blood and Tears in TibetThe Dalai Lama says he appreciates Christian attempts to address persecution in his homeland. (June 8, 2001)
The Mormon-Evangelical DivideBeliefs that set Mormons apart, and evangelicals' response. (February 7, 2000)
Smorgasbord SpiritualityEvangelicals make a thin showing as the world's religions gather to make common cause. (January 10, 2000)

For more perspective on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, see previous Christianity Today essays and editorials:

Article continues below
Leaving 'Normal' BehindLife before September 11 seemed more secure, but do we really want it back? (Dec. 12, 2001)
Blame GameSeeking mercy is a better response to 9/11 than seeking meaning. (Nov. 8, 2001)
Blood, Sweat, and PrayersOne man's journal of ministry among New York City's firefighters and police officers at Ground Zero. (Nov. 8, 2001)
Rally Round the FlagAmerica may not be God's chosen nation, but it does have a mission that churches can support. (Nov. 7, 2001)
Wake-up CallIf September 11 was a divine warning, it's God's people who are being warned. (Nov. 5, 2001)
Where Was God on 9/11?Reflections from Ground Zero and beyond. (Oct. 23, 2001)
Prayer After 9.11.01The author of The Prayer of Jabez says now, more than ever, we need to seek God's power. (Sept. 28, 2001)
Judgment DayGod promised that calamity would follow disobedience. So why are we quick to dismiss it as a reason for the September 11 attacks? (Sept. 25, 2001)
To Embrace the EnemyIs reconciliation possible in the wake of such evil? (Sept. 21, 2001)
After the Grave in the AirTrue reconciliation comes not by ignoring justice nor by putting justice first, but by unconditional embrace. (Sept. 21, 2001)
Taking It PersonallyWhat do we do with all this anger? (Sept. 14, 2001)
A Wake-Up Call to Become Global ChristiansThe deadly attacks on America will provoke many responses, but Christians are commanded to love our neighbors. (Sept. 12, 2001)
God's Message in the Language of EventsIn the face of evil, we must focus on keeping our hearts right. (Sept. 11, 2001)above all else.
When Sin ReignsAn event like this shows us what humans are capable of becoming—both as children of darkness and of light. (Sept. 13, 2001)

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.