Martyrs for the Faith

Persecution of the Christians at Rome by NeroThe drama in Paris surrounding the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices and the subsequent hostage incidents were broadcast all over the world. This publicity is what the radical islamists want, I think, so I guess their bloody mission was accomplished. Repression is threatened by free press. This was demonstrated by the North Koreans recently, who flexed their hacker cyber-muscles to punish the Sony Corporation. Now gunmen use their guns and bombs to threaten and punish those whom they believe have insulted their prophet. I don’t think we have seen the end of this story, not by a long shot. The only power a bully really has is the threat of violence, and for it to be a credible threat, the bully must act violently on occasion.

Although this whole thing is disturbing, one thing disturbed me even more seriously. Apparently, before the French police stormed the hideout of the perpetrators of this atrocity, they were in contact with the gunmen via cell phone. Rather than surrender, the French authorities were told the men preferred to “die as martyrs for the faith.”

Excuse me, you are not martyrs. The term “martyr” is a Christian term. It comes from the Greek word for “witness,” and is used many times this way in the New Testament. In the early church, martyr was a label given to those believers who refused to deny their Lord and were put to death. A Christian martyr is properly one who witnesses to the end, even unto death. It is not a term that should be used for those who murder others, refuse to surrender, and are killed by the police. So, let’s use another term for these guys, not “martyr.”

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College


One thought on “Martyrs for the Faith

  1. They have managed to give worldwide publicity to Charlie Hebdo, a magazine most of us had never heard of until this week, and the photos of its lampoons of Muhammad. The magazine is going to print a million copies of their next issue, and no doubt will sell them all.

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