Darrow Miller and Friends

Who Wins the Battle of Ideas Wins the War

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.

war of ideas says Emancipating the World about the conflict with militant IslamTo 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.

Lifestyles_condom_packageAtheistic 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).

swordThe 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.

crossBiblical 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

Related posts:

Who Will Win the War of 9/11?

Ideas Have Consequences … A Columbus Day Reflection

What A Nation’s Culture Reveals About its God

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).

1 Comment

  1. Clark Dahl

    January 22, 2015 - 9:54 am

    “…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.” Who could disagree with this statement? The liberal media for one, the current Administration for another. Because they control so much of the media, how can we get the message out there? It is very hard to do when the vast majority of people in the west don’t want to be bothered with more than sound bites. Furthermore, most of the people living in the so-called ‘free West’ don’t know how they obtained their freedom and have no fealty to the Judea/Christian morality that gave it to them. Many hate any idea of Christianity and absolutes. Methinks at times, unless God Himself chooses to perform a radical change in their hearts, the West is lost.