What Causes Terrorism: The Noetic Effect

On September 14, 2001 I wrote the following brief blog:

The pernicious act of terrorism visited the American soil resulting in the death and suffering of many people. The terrorist attack expanded the dangers of statism to a population already saturated with a false view of national pride. Christian leaders and laymen show little if any interest in the primary responsibility to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The expansion of the “kingdom” is the antithesis of any Islamic attack on the West. After Mohammed died his disciples executed the conquest against the kingdom of Jesus and were not stopped until 732 A.D. by the Frankish King, Charles Martel, at the Battle of Tours. Interpreters of the Koran continue that assault. America is not a Christian nation, never has been and probably never will be, because it would have to adopt Christianity as a national religion. The first amendment will not allow it. If Christianity was the national religion then America could pray as a nation, preach as a nation, and regulate religion as a nation just as the Islamic nations do. Until then there are thousands of Christian groups in America and the vast majority are so divided they cannot agree on the basic theological premises of the Christian religion. America is confessionally anti-theocratic. Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, et al are practically theocratic, but clearly anti-Christian. Until there is a constitutional and political change in America, Christians must passionately pray for God’s justice and with equal passion pray or God’s mercy. One newspaper published an opinion which reflects the theological ignorance of the American public: “Man’s inhumanity was demonstrated Tuesday when hijacked passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.” If Americans believe that statement they are hopelessly destined for a plunge into ancient Gnosticism along with its battle of good against evil, leaving sinful man at helm of the ship. One little word will correct the newspaper opinion and that word is “inhumanity.” It should read as follows: Man’s sinfulness was demonstrated Tuesday when hijacked passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The human race is sinful and the only remedy is for God to change the hearts of sinful men so they will believe the truth and claims of Jesus Christ and trust Him for salvation and eternal life. Individual conversions will collectively affect the church and culture as they proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

I’ve had nearly fifteen years to reflect on that event.  Statism has exponentially increased. The general American public is fundamentally ignorant relative to the Islamic religion. Christians are still worshipping their celebrity leaders. However, Christians, generally speaking, are more comfortable with theological ignorance than they were fifteen years ago. Political leaders and media commentators denounce terrorism as if they could stop it. What is the cause of the moral corruption? Bill O’Reilly can’t figure it out.  Barak Obama can’t figure it out. Is there an answer?

Yes, the answer is the noetic effect of sin! A brief but important quote from a theological dictionary will help explain.

The Greek word nous essentially refers to the mind, reason, or understanding.  The word noetic comes from the Greek word nous.  The noetic effect of sin refers to the mind, so the question must be asked:  to what extent did the fall of man affect the mind?    The noetic structure (the function of the mind) refers to the sum total of everything a person knows and consequently believes.  For instance, Adam’s ability to reason before the Fall was like the rest of creation; it was perfect.  The noetic effect of sin did not destroy reason, but rather defaced it.

Since the mind is so important let’s take a look at the definition.

In Christian theology, this is the metaphysical aspect of the soul that is the center of reason, intelligence, and understanding.  The mind of God is perfect unlike the mind of sinful man. The Bible uses the Greek word nous to describe the condition of humanity without God (Romans 1:28).  The Bible also uses a word connected with nous to describe the human ability to understand God by the power of the mind (Romans 1:20). The physical brain will cease to exist, but the mind will remain forever.

The prophet Jeremiah explains the natural condition of the human race. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? The sin nature is the underlying cause of all sin and terrorism is sin.

Other than a few isolated cases of a malfunctioning brain such as chemical imbalances which may result in murder, terrorism is an evil way of life that ends with murder.  Biblical and natural law prohibits murder, without a cause. Some people are deceived by the outward personality and words of a terrorist.  They may appear peaceable for years before their evil character emerges. “Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand” (Micah 2:1).

The present dilemma with Islamic terrorism is misunderstood because of ignorance of constitutional authority. Every religious organization has a document that states its beliefs and directives. The Christian religion has the Bible. It is the ultimate authority for Christians.  However, my experience is that many if not most professing Christians do not act like the Bible is their ultimate authority. When challenged by the authority of Scripture, often the response is, “I know what the Bible teaches but……….” Islam has the Koran. It is equivalent to the Christian Bible in terms of its authority for Muslims. A good Muslim will adhere to it faithfully. A bad Muslim will say, “I know what the Koran says, but………”  For instance the Koran states, “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them” (9:5). This forms what is known as “Jihad theology” or holy war to force Islam on anyone who is not a good Muslim. Bad Muslims read the Koran and affirm that it’s really true, but not true for the sake of convenience. Postmodern theory has affected the Muslim world.

Christians in particular and western civilization in a general sense has failed to understand the theological implications of constitutional authority and how postmodern theory has chameleonized the reality of truth.  I recommend two books:

Ultimate Authority for the Soul

Constitutional Authority in a Postmodern Culture

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