It’s all about the theology

Published 9:18 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

My life changed the day my first daughter was born. There was just something about becoming the father of a little girl that was transforming for me. I felt a new tenderness emerging in my heart.

God eventually blessed us with a second daughter. Both our girls are now teenagers, only 22 months apart. The sweetness of our girls has changed me as a man and changed my perspective about many things in life.

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Often, our house is filled with teenage girls. I love to hear them laugh and have a good time.

Such scenes are, as British Prime Minister Theresa May said, something to be “cherished.”

So imagine this: A suicide bomber lurks in the hallway outside of a concert hall in Manchester, England, just waiting for a bunch of smiling, laughing teenage girls to emerge from a night of music and fun.

He surveys the scene and waits for the moment he can inflict maximum carnage, blowing himself up, along with more than 20 happy, laughing children, maiming dozens more, and blowing up the lives of their loved ones, whose grief is unspeakable.

What kind of a warped mind would do this? The bomber, a young man in his early 20s, was a child not so long ago. He was not born a monster. What darkness turned him into someone who would do such a thing?

Here is what the world must come to terms with. It comes down to theology. Most of us look at what happened and think that Salman Abedi wanted to kill as many kids as possible before he went to hell.

But in his mind, he was doing the one thing that would guarantee him a place in heaven. That is the darkness at the heart of radical Islam.

We must not react to such things by labeling all Muslims. I have traveled widely throughout the Muslim world. Most are decent and loving people who are just as sickened by the darkness of radical Islam as anyone. In fact, they are even more angered by it, because every time a Muslim commits an act of terror, it causes them to be lumped in with him.

But this is about theology. The terrorists believe they are serving God and opening for themselves a sure path to paradise.

How can this possibly end? Yes, we can do everything we can militarily to destroy ISIS. But how can bad theology be destroyed? And if someone is willing to commit suicide while destroying others, how can it be stopped, even by the best of security services?

Even if we could limit the ability of terrorists to make bombs, what about those who get into cars and trucks and run people over? You see, if one is willing to die in the process, it doesn’t take much sophistication to kill lots of people.

So while we must do all we can from a military and security standpoint, the only thing that will destroy bad theology is good theology.

What if Salman Abedi had believed in a God who would not send him to paradise for killing people? What if he believed in a God who called him to love Him by loving others, not murdering them? Then he would not have acted in the way he did.

It’s about theology.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.