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W. R. Collier Jr- In northern Iraq and Syria, Christians are taking up arms against the Islamic State alongside a host of disparate groups, ranging from Marxists, to libertarian socialists, to moderate Muslims, and Iran-backed Shia Salafists. But in all the media coverage, little attention has been paid to the small but growing Christian movement toward active armed resistance against oppression, not only by the oppressed, but on behalf of the oppressed by outside fighters.
Many are asking, “should Christians anywhere be taking up arms in defense of a Kingdom that is not of this world?” This, however, is NOT the right question, because few, if any, of these Christian fighters are taking up arms to advance the Kingdom of God. The battle is not one of imposing the faith on unbelievers, the battle is, much more fundamentally, about mere survival: the right to exist.

In the past half a millennium, most Christians throughout the Middle East have adopted a passive stance and have accepted a more or less second class status, even curtailing evangelism efforts out of fear of incurring the wrath of their Muslim masters. Arab Christians, native Egyptians (the Copts), Assyrian Christians, today’s heirs of the Phoenicians (Lebanese Christians) and other Christian groups have attempted to be as non-provocative as possible, often at great pains to themselves.

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But this generation are beginning to conclude that accommodation within the framework of Islamic states is no guarantee of their basic right to exist. The outright unwillingness of the US to arm and support these groups, for fear of upsetting Arab and Muslim sensitivities, is causing private Christians to take matters into their own hands, raising money,coming to help train these fighters and even fighting alongside them. If any states emerge that are accommodating to Christians and not hostile to them, they will certainly not have America to thank.

Why are Christians fighting? Basically, they are fighting to live, to be able to live in peace, because it is becoming apparent that unless your group or people has its own means of protecting itself, your right to exist stands on a weak foundation. They are not fighting to impose their faith, as ISIL are, but to protect their people from rape, plunder, and slaughter.

Those who might question whether Christians should fight with arms often have the luxury of not facing a choice between submission, certain death, or armed resistance. For more and more Christians in the Middle East, armed resistance is the only viable path, as they see it, and many hundreds of foreign Christians have decided to come and help them defend themselves.

In the end, a new “militarism” has taken root among Christians in the Middle East who are no longer willing to live under the shadow of their Muslim masters as second class citizens whose rights and very lives could be threatened any time Salafism gains traction. Muslim states will either grant some form of local autonomy to their Christian minorities or they might face a Christian people who are able and willing to fight it out to demand such equality of standing with their Muslim neighbors.

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