We’ve written recently about the importance of recognizing that the battle with militant Islam is a battle of ideas.
James Glassman was under secretary of state for Public Diplomacy under President George W. Bush. He was recently referenced by Helle C. Dale at The Daily Signal in her excellent piece, “In the War on Terrorism, We Must Win the War of Ideas.”
How do we fight this battle [with ISIS]? With a two pronged approach, suggests Glassman. On the one hand, says Glassman, we do it by persuading returning foreign fighters to be interviewed and broadcast about their experiences with Islamist extremism, which many find to be a much different reality, more repressive and far more violent, than anything they had been led to believe online. …
Secondly, we need a forceful defense of Western principles based on freedom, justice, peace, tolerance– the principles indeed embraced by most of the world at this point. These universal principles, on which the United States itself was founded, stood up well in the battle against Communism, and would do so again in this battle if openly and forcefully embraced.
To the degree this kind of clarity can characterize the key decision makers in the war of the West against militant Islam, we can look for long-term results. Because, the fact is, every battle begins at the level of ideas.
Here’s how Darrow Miller put it in his 2012 book, Emancipating the World: A Christian Response to Radical Islam and Fundamentalist Atheism
A Battle of Ideas
Ultimately we face a conflict of ideas, ideals, and vision, a battle of worldviews and religious narratives. As Proverbs reminds us: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he!” (Prov. 23:7 KJV). As we have seen, our religious worldview not only tells us how to see the world but also determines the kind of nations we will build.
Each narrative has a symbol, a driving vision, and a focus.
Atheistic materialism’s symbol is the condom. The vision is “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” Its focus is the self and the immediate satisfaction of one’s natural instincts (narcissism).
The symbol of militant Islam is the sword. Would-be martyr Ijaz Khan Hussein expresses its vision: “We went to the Jihad filled with joy, and I would go again tomorrow. If Allah had chosen me to die I would have been in paradise, eating honey and watermelons and grapes and resting with beautiful virgins.” The focus is obedience to Allah by murdering innocents through jihad.
Biblical theism’s symbol is the cross. The driving vision was stated by the apostle Paul: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. . . . You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free . . . use your freedom to . . . serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:1, 13). The focus is personal and national liberty through obedience to God’s order.
These radically diverse narratives lead to drastically different ends. The first ends in disorder (moral anarchy), the second in tyranny, the third in freedom.
This battle of ideas must be fought on two levels. First, the license of secular atheism and the freedom of biblical theism must face off. The winner—license or freedom—will confront the tyranny of jihadist Islam. The outcome will determine the future of Europe and America, the future of the Middle East, the future of the world.
To engage in this battle fully, we must see it from its deepest level—the spiritual level.
– Darrow Miller