The Faith of the Coptic Christians

Recently, Scot Hildreth, Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies, wrote about the faith of the 21 Coptic (Egyptian) Christians killed by ISIS. Here is an excerpt from his post: 

The 21 men who were killed on the beach in Libya were killed BECAUSE of their professed faith. The sadistic evil doers made this profession on their behalf before the murders. Their captors confessed that these men were “people of the cross.” In this testimony I hear the echoes of Daniel’s enemies who said they could not find any fault in him unless it was his faith. These men were killed because their captors believed they were Christians.

I can assume (and yes, it is only an assumption) that these Islamic extremists would have pressed for, and been content with, these men converting to Islam. Based on my knowledge of these types of situation, I imagine these men were provided opportunities to renounce their faith and embrace the faith of their captors. Clearly they did not. They were murdered because they were men “of the cross.” On the basis of this testimony through the lips of their captors, and their lifestyle “not loving their lives even unto death,” Southern Baptists (and the rest of the Christian world) are right to hallow these men as martyrs and identify with them as brothers in the faith.

Our show of solidarity is not a declaration that the entire Coptic community is Christian. Rather, it accepts the testimony of these 21 men as valid based on profession and demonstration. We accept the testimony of a Baptist and would mourn their martyrdom even if we had not known them personally, though we all know that many who carry the label Baptist are not regenerate. In the same way, it is good and right that we identify with our brothers “of the cross” whose lives were taken because of this testimony.

Our solidarity with them does not make an entire people group Christians, and was never intended to do so. But based on what we have seen from a clear witness in front of a watching world, that same solidarity should also not be interpreted as cowardly or in any way abandoning the faith.

May these men receive the reward of their faith and may the Lord judge their murders with justice and most of all, may he grant to us all the faith to face whatever opposition we will with the same faithfulness they demonstrated on that Libyan beach.

Read the full post and comments here.

In Case You Missed It

1) A must read article by Graeme Wood at The Atlantic on the apocalyptic dreams and motives of ISIS and how the U.S. and allies must understand these motives in order to successfully fight them.

2) On the note of ISIS, Russ Moore addressed the question of whether we should pray for the defeat or conversion of ISIS. Hint: it’s not an either/or answer.

3) Greg Mathias, Associate Director for the Center for Great Commission Studies, discusses how Christians ought to respond to the recent murder of three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill, NC.

4) Trevin Wax lists several questions that, if we answer no to them, show our unfaithfulness to Christ’s command to tell the good news about him.

5) At SEND Network, Paul Tripp writes about our difficulty with but need to minister to others during our own suffering.

They Loved Not Their Lives

The news of the murder of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS in Libya reminds us all of the sacrifice these saints, and their families, made for the King and his kingdom. Yet, their sacrifice testifies to their overcoming faith in the King who will, one day, overcome all his enemies. Will Taylor, assistant program coordinator for college students at the CGCS, connected the death of these 21 to the testimony of martyred Karen Watson (Iraq 2004). Here’s an excerpt:

Amidst sadness and heartbreak for families and those affected, I’m also challenged to reflect about my own devotion to Christ. Take a moment and read Karen Watson’s own Epithet. An IMB missionary, she was killed by unknown assailants in Iraq in March of 2004. You can find her whole story in this free resource made possible through the IMB. Before going, she left this note to her pastor enclosed in an envelope.

Read the full post here.