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FBI Arrests Teenager Who Planned to Attack Churches for ISIS

Jim Denison | Denison Forum | Updated: Apr 12, 2024
FBI Arrests Teenager Who Planned to Attack Churches for ISIS

FBI Arrests Teenager Who Planned to Attack Churches for ISIS

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The FBI arrested an eighteen-year-old in Idaho after discovering what it termed a “truly horrific” and “violent plot” to attack churches this past weekend on behalf of ISIS. According to an FBI investigator, “his attack plan involved using flame-covered weapons, explosives, knives, a machete, a pipe, and ultimately firearms.” The would-be terrorist also stated “his intention to die while killing others on behalf of ISIS.”

In related news, FBI Director Christopher Wray told an American Bar Association luncheon in Washington, DC:

The foreign terrorist threat and the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, like the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall a couple weeks ago, is now increasingly concerning. Oct. 7 and the conflict that’s followed will feed a pipeline of radicalization and mobilization for years to come.

Why is this the case?

Geopolitical analyst George Friedman popularized the concept of the “metanarrative.” As I explained in a podcast on the subject, this is a nation or group’s cultural DNA or overall purpose. Understanding it is essential to interpreting their past and predicting their future.

Several years ago, ISIS made their metanarrative clear. In explaining why it hates the West, the group listed the West’s disbelief in Islam, the prevalence of secularism, atheism, “transgressions” against Islam, military operations, and tactical incursions. The group added that even a complete withdrawal from the Middle East would not stop its violence because “our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

For America to confront this metanarrative effectively, it is vital that we return to ours.

Why we need a “coherent national community”

Michael Lind is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has previously taught courses on American democracy and foreign policy at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Virginia Tech. In a deeply researched article published this week in Tablet, he notes: “Most Americans—though not all—from 1776 onward have shared and continue to share a common language, a common culture, and common values that transcend particular religious groups.”

While we are a “melting pot” composed of people from around the world, our democracy works because we share what Lind calls a “coherent national community” in which we embrace foundational values that transcend our governmental charter.

By contrast, our secularized “post-truth” insistence upon tolerance as our supreme value is rapidly producing an atomized culture in which we are bound only by our laws. But Lind warns that if the larger “elements of a common American culture are thrown out” by our society, “what remains is more likely to be a failed state along the lines of Lebanon or Somalia than a flourishing democracy.”

If public polls are any indication, we’re already heading in that direction.

According to Pew Research Center, public trust in our institutions has fallen from near 80 percent in 1964 to less than 20 percent today. A recent Gallup survey charts a precipitous decline in “Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the US” from more than 70 percent in 2004 to 23 percent today. In my view, these findings are linked.

If you were to ask an American of my parents’ World War II generation why our nation exists, they would likely have said that we serve to protect and promote democracy around the world. If you ask an American today, what would they say? Would any two answers agree?

“The finest of the wheat”

Our God is a loving Father who wants to bless us, who invites us to “open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). He desires to “feed you with the finest of the wheat” and to “satisfy you” with “honey from the rock” (v. 16).

However, a holy God cannot bless that which is unholy and remain holy. Nor can a loving Father bless that which harms his child. Consequently, no nation’s unity or flourishing is guaranteed, as today’s anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War demonstrates.

Michael Lind’s essay reinforces my argument this week:

  1. Our national future requires the consensual morality upon which our democracy depends.
  2. Consensual morality requires changed hearts, not just enforced laws.
  3. Changed hearts require the transforming agency of the Holy Spirit.

This means that evangelism is not the imposition of personal opinion but the sharing of life-giving truth. Spiritual formation is not the religious hobby of some but the indispensable path to flourishing for all. Serving Christ is vital to serving America.

Stated succinctly:

Being people God is able to bless is essential to being a nation God can bless.

Oswald Chambers noted: “If I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.”

How fully will you “see the face of God” today?

NOTE: When our culture increasingly demands that Christians stand down, how can you stand firm in your faith? In our newest book, Between Compromise and Courage (2nd ed.), we look at 8 hot-button topics from a biblical perspective. To read more about AI, gun control, the end times, and more, request our latest book today.

Image credit:©Getty Images/Domoyega

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes DenisonForum.org, First15.org, ChristianParenting.org, and FoundationsWithJanet.org. Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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FBI Arrests Teenager Who Planned to Attack Churches for ISIS