New Cold War?

For the past two weeks my drive home usually coincides with NPR news, which has been dominated with coverage from the Middle East. What has struck me is that the growing threat of radical Islam in the Middle East is not going to go away easily. Dealing with Iran is going to be like dealing with USSR, and I think they see themselves in that light. Iran has of course turned down the UN demands to stop developing technology, why should they accept them? For Iran to accept them is to acknowledge a power structure (i.e., UN, perhaps US) greater than itself. For a country that sees itself as an equal-and-opposite version of the US, the idea is outrageous.

Couple this with the Iranian-backed (sponsored?) actions taking place in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine (?) and it seems like a new epicenter for world politics is coming to the forefront. It seems odd, or ahistorical, to describe this time as when the Middle East becomes a new epicenter, but I think its true. Though the Middle East and the area of Israel/Palestine has always been volatile, the countries in that region have not, in recent history, really been taken seriously. They are normally seen as pests that need to be put down, not true nations in their own right.

Interestingly, in the Cold War it was Communism vs Capitalism — political/economic systems. In this new Cold War (which it will become, esp. as Iran moves closer to the bomb) there is Islamic theocracy (political/religious system) on one side and … what? Democratic systems? What does that mean in this situation?

This got me thinking about Eschatology in the car yesterday. Not that the ‘End Times’ have arrived, the tribulation is near, and the rapture is seconds away, but how will this picture have to change to bring all peoples, tribes, and tongues under the Lordship of Christ? If the kingdom of God is truly at hand, and Christ is reigning on earth right now, what needs to happen? What should happen?

Frankly, I think we need a radical reformation/revival. Democratic systems may confront Islamic theocracies in terms of military and political might, but are helpless to engage the theological issues at hand. And if there is one thing that Iran could teach the world it is this: theology cannot be separated from politics, economics, etc… Theology is life; everything else is just details. To engage the current situation, Christians need to radically re-orient their lives around our covenant with God through Christ, not Republican/Democratic politics, nor capitalistic business gains, etc… (E.g., Texans turning to Islam: pt 1, pt 2, and pt 3) However, I am not advocating theonomy, which was tried and failed some decades ago. Instead, I think we as Christians need to focus on Shalom — bring peace through service, preaching, and covenant renewal. I think God is going to change this situation (whether now or much later in the future) much like he changed the Roman Empire, through the blood of His people. Its amazing how God shows grace and mercy towards others by shedding the blood of those most precious to Him. Christ shed His blood for us; we must shed our blood for the world.

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