Summary: God uses ordinary even notorious people to do his work for the Kingdom of God. Paul the religious terrorist meets Grace and changes into the Preacher of grace and mercy.

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“Fly High” - Acts part 7

On the lighter side of life: Picture from Jennifer

Opening Illustration:

Religion has produced more terrorists than non-religion. Just take a look at the Middle East and also at The Crusades. Also take a look at this article


Tragically, all major religions can justify violence, and religion has long been associated with terrorism. Ever since there was good and evil, religious people have pondered whether using evil to fight evil is good in the name of justice or self-defense. There may be some kind of connection between attachment to the idea of God and a proclivity toward violence. The most common resort to violence occurs when a religious group feels threatened and thinks of itself as a chosen people. Less common is the compulsion to slaughter others in the name of a deity, and even less common (although not insignificant) is the role of sexuality in the mindset of religious fundamentalists who kill. Religions also spawn sects, cults, and alternative religions, and religious terrorism (terrorism in the name of religion) likewise tends to spawn offshoots and factions. A sect is an offshoot of an established religion (Mormons, for example), and most either die off or expand into a major denomination like the Mormons did. A sect-based religious group is more likely to play the role of the victim, not the aggressor. A cult, on the other hand, is a more dangerous, spiritually innovative group (the Branch Davidians, for example) headed by a charismatic leader who usually has other aims than to become a major denomination. Many cults are harmless, but others are into mind control and some are into mass suicide. Still other cults have a doomsday orientation, and these tend to be ones which engage in religious terrorism (such as Aum Shinri Kyo). Any sect or cult can become involved in religious terrorism or it can just worship terrorism (a terrorism cult). The motives can be wide-ranging, from engaging in psychic warfare to expressive behaviors that are homicidal, suicidal, or both. Cults are usually more dangerous than sects (see the Watchman Fellowship’s List of Cults for a near-complete list or Perlmutter’s summary of occult religions).

There are four warning signs of a dangerous religious group: (1) apocalyptic thinking, or eschatology, that the world is coming to an end, and true believers will enjoy unique rewards at endtime; (2) charismatic leadership where the leader dominates the followers spiritually, emotionally, and sexually; (3) paranoia and demonization of outsiders, accompanied by intentional isolation within a cloistered community; and (4) preparations of a defensive nature, usually indicated by a buildup of guns, poisons, and/or weapons of mass destruction. Many terrorist experts (Lewy 1974; White 2002) regard apocalyptic thinking as the first and most important danger sign. Let’s briefly examine some of the major world religions:

CHRISTIANITY: The most popular religion in the world (33%) and the one with the most historical record of violence, much of it in-fighting. A person becomes Christian by being born again (Conservatives), baptized (Protestants and Catholics), reciting the Apostles’ creed (Catholics), or having a personal relationship with Jesus (Liberals). Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the Apostles’ creed. The strongest bond involves interpretation of the New Testament, although Fundamentalists (Extreme Conservatives) believe the Bible is inerrant and not subject to modern interpretation.

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