the title for this blog is taken from the July/August 2012 issue of Christianity Today, p. 47
With the certainty of an Israel-led attack on Iran this October, the question confronting evangelicals in America is: “How does an American evangelical view this significant event?”
Though opinions on this attack are complicated and varied, I want to suggest three views that are important.
First, there are those Americans (with a large number of evangelicals thrown in) who can’t wait for this to happen. To this group, the assault is viewed as a proper response to Iranian anti-Semitic, inflammatory statements that describe Israel as “a cancer on humanity” that must be erased from the planet. These individuals respond to Ahmadinejad’s or Khomeini’s vitriol by describing Islam as a “cancer” and, viewing Iran as a threat to American security and considering Israel to be God’s chosen people to always be defended, they long to see justice done.
The second group would be at the other end of the spectrum. These would be concerned by the political, environmental, and sociological implications of such a an attack. Right now, though Middle Eastern problems are unresolved, at least we have a “comfortable” understanding of how things stand in the Middle East. With this coming assault on Iran, all the cards in the deck are going to be thrown high into the air and where they land no one knows. But everyone is sure the resulting landscape in the Middle East will not be pretty. (Members of the first group may also be found in this group.)
Third, there are evangelical Americans who attempt to evaluate everything in terms of the Great Commission. While having political opinions, loyalties to America, a love for Israel, and a fundamental disagreement with Islam, this group nevertheless desires to prioritize the advance of the Gospel above personal ideology or emotional attachments.
It is into this third group that I want to urge all evangelical Americans to take up membership.
In the West, we often have difficulty distinguishing our American priorities from the main concern of the advance of the kingdom of God. American evangelicals are disturbed about the “Islamization” of Europe and alarming statistics can be cited to justify this concern. But perhaps our anxieties would be relieved if we considered how the migration of unreached peoples to the west are putting them within easy reach of the Gospel.
God is at work! The data surfacing on the church in Iran suggests an explosive growth rate for the underground church in Iran. In spite of persecution, the Iranian church is growing. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our concern should be for them, for their vitality and continued spread of the Gospel.
Meanwhile in Europe, a minimum of 500 Persians (Iranians are direct descendants of the Persians of the Bible and prefer to be called Persian) in Germany alone become Christians every year. And the number could be much, much higher…
May I suggest that we should spend less time breathing venom against Iran and Islam? Let us thank God for the spread of the Gospel among Persians. May we devote more energy toward aggressive intercession that God would steer the October attack for good for the spread of the Gospel within Iran and among Iranians around the world. – Dave Shive