December 8, 2001
THE INVISIBLE ENEMY
Immediately after the September
11 terrorism, church attendance boomed, but now is back to normal,
report pollsters Gallup and Barna.
Why? People came terrified. Life
which seemed secure was suddenly fragile. But the church had no answer
for that fear, no life-changing message. Millions drifted away. They
heard pablum, gentle prayers of comfort, pleas for wisdom.
In this war, who is the enemy?
Not Osama bin Laden. It is unheard of to declare war on an individual.
Nor even al-Qaida leaders. They could be killed, but seen as martyrs by
a new generation willing to die to kill Americans. This war is against
As President Bush put it: "We are
at the beginning of what I view as a very long struggle against evil.
We're not fighting a nation. We're not fighting a religion. We're
In this new war, "Our enemy walks among us, yet
(begin ital) he is invisible," (End ital) writes Dwayne N. Hunt, pastor
of Abundant Grace Fellowship in Memphis, in his first book, "The
Invisible Enemy," which he dashed off in recent weeks.
"The Church has the only army
trained and skilled at fighting an invisible enemy. The events of
September 11th and the subsequent actions to spread terror through the
mail are of demonic origin. Thus, there must be a spiritual response."
While the battleground against
terrorists may be in the Middle East, Hunt contends the battlefield
against terror is in the mind. Jeremiah, in Chapter 6, describes
terrorism: "We have heard reports about them and our hands hang limp.
Anguish has gripped us."
Fewer than 20 dedicated
terrorists have made millions of Americas fearful of flying. I ran a
conference last weekend in Washington, that experienced cancellations.
The wife of a pastor from Puerto Rico was afraid to come. I noted that
by the time her plane arrived it would be empty of jet fuel and
therefore, unusable by terrorists. Logic could not penetrate her fear.
Hunt urges Christians to consult
the Church's Field Manual on terrorism, the Bible. "He will have no fear
of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord...In the end
he will look in triumph on his foes'' (Ps 112:7-8). Or, ''For God has
not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound
mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).
The problem is that the church
itself has been hijacked, and thrown off course. "Instead of being
worship centers, we have become entertainment centers," he writes.
"Instead of a life-changing Word, our sermons must appease the emotions.
Instead of Spirit-filled ministry that convicts sinners, we offer
generic services that do not offend visitors and the unsaved."
The weapons terrorists used
against us "were not theirs, but ours. They hijacked our planes and
turned them into guided missiles...They are willing to lay down their
lives for their cause, yet we are unwilling to be laughed at for the
cause of our faith. Their zeal disciplines them yet we who are called
disciples, have no zeal for dread of being labeled 'fanatical.'"
However, this could be the
church's "finest hour" if Christians would recognize that only the
church can match the enemy's level of violence and aggression. He
notes America's military fights according to rules which aim at
minimizing losses and casualties. By contrast, our enemies carry out
their mission at any cost, including the loss of their own lives.
Bin Laden has promised more
terror: "Neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of
security." However, Judges, Chapter 9 tells what happened to a terrorist
named Abimelech who destroyed a tower killing over 1,000 people in
Shechem. He then aimed to topple Tower Two in the city Thebez. But
a woman dropped a stone from the top, crushing his skull. With his last
breath, he asked his armorbearer to run him through with a sword, so
that his epitaph would not read "a woman killed him."
The church is often referred to
as a woman, "the Bride of Christ." The church can drop the stone
to crush the head of our enemy. What stone?
Hunt, an African-American pastor,
aged 44, suggests a specific prayer strategy not gentle prayers of
comfort or fearful prayers to protect us from anthrax, but prayers that
what is concealed and hidden will be disclosed and made known (Matt.
10:26), that the invisible terrorists will be unmasked and discovered
"Our prayers can also be made
that God will set an `ambush' against the bio-terrorists, that they will
be exposed to their own demonic bio-agents before they expose anyone
To read Chapter 1 of this
muscular anti-terrorism book, see
Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.